Best Songs About Home: Homesick by Sheryl Crow

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The Best of Thanksgiving: Appetizer

Before the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, you should consider snacking responsibly with this amazing appetizer.

There is a feast waiting for you in the afternoon, but who doesn’t want some snacks to prime the pump for the big turkey dinner? I’m a sucker for appetizers. Dips, finger food, you name it. I want to eat it. Especially on Thanksgiving. But two years ago, I got introduced to the best Thanksgiving appetizer of all time. Yes, all time.

Picture this. It’s 12:30 in the afternoon. You’re sitting down to dinner probably around 3 or 4 pm so you’re not really wanting a full lunch, but you need (yes, need) a snack to help tide you over. You’re about to watch the Packers and Lions kickoff and it’s just irresponsible to watch football on Thanksgiving without some snackage. Yes, snackage.

Do you break out vegetables and dip? No. Do you reach for some crackers and cheese spread? Nuh uh. Instead you make some bacon wrapped  jalapeño tater tots.

baconwrappedtots

Now I’ve got your attention. Tots. Bacon.  Jalapeño. Oh and there’s a ranch dipping sauce too. My mouth is watering as I type this.

How do you make such a heavenly treat? Simple. Take a tater tot and a little jalapeño and put them together. Then wrap them in bacon and skewer them with a toothpick so everything stays together. Just drop them into some oil in a pan and fry them up for a bit and you have the ultimate Thanksgiving appetizer. For those who like to dip, grab a little Hidden Valley Ranch dressing to put on the side and hurry over to your favorite seat on the couch to watch some football.

Happy snacking on a very happy Thanksgiving.

Real Estate Myth Buster

In this LXTV Open House segment, we tackle age-old real estate myths to determine if they’re truly fact or fiction.

When it comes to real estate, there can be a lot of opinions. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction. Is Spring really the only season to sell my home? Is location, location, location the number one factor in real estate?

Wondering if something is fact or fiction? Well, Ron Aiosa of the Coldwell Banker Boswell Aiosa Group is our real estate myth buster. Aiosa answers questions about curb appeal, the importance of location, and the cost of remodeling. Check out the feature below, which first appeared on LXTV Open House, to find out what is real estate fact and what is real estate myth.

12 Absolutely Hilarious Real Estate Signs

by Grace Murano

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. So when her husband left her for a younger woman, Elle Zober decided to use that as a ploy to sell the family home they once shared.

The sign says: “Husband Left Us for a 22 Year OldHouse for sale by scorned, slightly bitter, newly single owner … Adulterers Need Not Apply“.

This realtor likes to make things clear. (Source)

Full disclosure is always appreciated.

Uh…is it contagious?

Your cat will love it.

9 Overlooked Items to Prep Your Home for Sale

9 Overlooked Items to Prep Your Home for Sale

So you’ve prepped your home cosmetically for sale in every imaginable way – fresh paint, a deep cleaning, new landscaping, decluttered closets and even organized the garage! Your house looks better then it ever has and you are ready to hit the market! Before you proceed with the “For Sale” sign in the ground, there are several key pieces of information that you should consider gathering that today’s savvy buyers are going to want to know.

So you’ve prepped your home cosmetically for sale in every imaginable way – fresh paint, a deep cleaning, new landscaping, decluttered closets and even organized the garage!  Your house looks better then it ever has and you are ready to hit the market!  Before you proceed with the “For Sale” sign in the ground, there are several key pieces of information that you should consider gathering that today’s savvy buyers are going to want to know.

1.  Survey – Do you have a copy of a current survey on your home?  Have this document available and provide to your listing agent so they can include in the information about your home.  Buyers want to know about property lines, easements, conservation buffers, if there is room for a pool, if the property line extends to the water behind your home, etc.  Having a survey to provide upfront will help to eliminate these types of concerns vs. waiting until a property is under contract.

If you’ve made any changes that would affect your property such as adding a pool or fence since you took ownership and are not shown on your current survey, it’s important to advise the buyer.  A new survey will usually need to be ordered prior to closing in this scenario.  If you don’t have one from when you purchased the home, try contacting the title company or attorney’s office that handled the closing of the property.  Depending on how long ago that was, they may be able to retrieve from their archives.

Floor plan

2.  Floorplan or Appraisal Sketch – Buyers often need to know room dimensions as it helps with determining furniture placement and to ensure how what they have will fit (or have to be reconfigured) in the new space.  As any real estate agent can attest, many hours have been spent measuring spaces while looking at a home and comparing that against the existing buyer’s furniture dimensions.  I’ve encountered entire home searches that revolved around a great room accommodating an entertainment center and the garage size so a motorcycle could fit in addition to the cars!

An appraisal is helpful as it can confirm the exact square footage of a home vs. relying on tax records which may not be accurate.  We’ve all heard stories where the appraisal showed the actual square footage that was smaller than what was initially represented in a listing sheet.  Having an appraisal will help to ensure that does not happen.  You should have received a copy of the appraisal if you obtained a mortgage loan from your lender or if you refinanced.  If you don’t have either, consider having a floorplan drawn up or home measured by an appraiser when prepping your home for sale. Your agent can assist with resources to this effect.

Electric

3.  Utility Bills – Buyers want to get an idea of what they can expect the heating and cooling bills to be in a home.  Review your bills over the last one to two years to get an average in the various seasons, or call your local utility provider as they can often provide you with information on the high, average and low costs.  This information can be very beneficial when a buyer sits down to number crunch their total costs of owning a home.  If you had an unusually high or low bill, provide some explanation to accompany the numbers.

4.  Termite Bond – In many markets where termites are alive and well, it is common place for homes to have some sort of protection plan in place which is also known as a bond.   InFlorida, where I live and work, this is a primary concern and often one of the first questions buyers and their agents want to know.  Prior to listing your home, obtain a copy of your termite bond policy from the provider, know exactly what type of bond you have – repair or treatment bond and up to what dollar amount of coverage is it good for.  Also know how long the bond is in effect, when it is up for renewal and what the renewal fee is, if there is a transfer fee and what does it provide protection for – not all bonds provide protection against all different types of termites.

5.  Pest Control – If you maintain any type of pest control on your property, compile information as to who the provider is, what you have done, how much you pay and how often does the company come out to treat the property.  A copy of your service agreement is helpful in this instance.

6.  Insurance – Buyers especially want to know who a seller uses for their homeowners insurance and how much they pay.  This is particularly the case in higher risk areas (where there are hurricanes, floods, fires, etc.) With homeowners insurance potentially more difficult to obtain in some areas, going through the existing seller’s insurance company can help streamline the process, particularly on an older home.

Dish Washer

7. Product Manuals and Warranty Documents – Now is the time to gather the various product manuals for all items that will be staying in the home such as appliances, water heater, heating and cooling system, ceiling fans, pool equipment, etc.  If your home came with any warranties, be sure to include these for the new owner as well.  Putting all of these in one large envelope makes it easy for everything to be readily accessible in one place for the new buyer.

 8.  Service Providers – Compile a list of all service providers/vendors and their contact information who you have used on your home – lawn service, pool service, A/C company, etc. While a new buyer may or may not choose to use these services, they will certainly appreciate having resources available to them and may elect to initially use them as they make the transition to living in your home.

9.  Covenants and Restrictions, Neighborhood Rules and Information – This is key critical information for a new owner to have on hand.  A contract may likely hinge on the buyer’s review of this information, so easiest to have it available ahead of time.  If you don’t have these, contact your neighborhood’s association president or management company for assistance in obtaining a copy. Many of these documents are matters of public record and are available by going online to the appropriate municipality’s website.

Work with your agent to create an informational package or binder that you can provide to prospective purchasers that come through the home with the information mentioned above.  Gathering this information before you put your home on the market will save time and make the process that more efficient once you find a buyer.  It may even help your home to sell faster as all of this information is available upfront, eliminating the need for guesswork and waiting on answers while another property could possibly come on the market to grab the buyer’s attention.  You want to help keep the buyer focused on your home, so make it easy for them to buy by giving them what they want.  Happy selling!

If you have additional questions, please call me at 914-215-2025

8 Tips For Finding Your First Home

8 Tips For Finding Your First Home

The following post comes from Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Inc. agent, Kim Knapp. Kim is an experienced agent in Northern Florida and has a great team who has worked with countless first-time home buyers.

Here are her 8 tips to help make finding that first home go as smoothly as possible:

1. Research before you look.

Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.

2. Be realistic.

It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.

3. Get your finances in order.

Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.

4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions.

It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own. You will be the one that will be ultimately living in the home and paying the mortgage payment.

5. Decide your moving timeline.

When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area? All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.

6. Think long term.

Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.

7. Insist on a home inspection.

If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.

8. Get help from a REALTOR®.

Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. Buyer’s reps are usually paid out of the seller’s commission payment.

Please call if you are looking for a home in Stamford or Fairfield county. My cell is 914-215-2025.

DON’T SHOP FOR HOMES ALONE

DON’T SHOP FOR HOMES ALONE

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Homebuyers are increasingly shopping for homes with a real estate agent. Eighty-eight percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, up from 69 percent in 2001, says a new report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

That means your competition has professional help. Do you?

In 2014, buyers used a wide variety of resources in searching for a home, with the Internet (92 percent) and real estate agents (87 percent) leading the way. And 90 percent of home buyers who searched for homes online ended up purchasing their home through an agent. Buyers who used the Internet were more likely to purchase their home through an agent than those who didn’t (67 percent).

When buyers were asked where they first learned about the home they purchased, 43 percent said the Internet. That’s up from 36 percent in 2009. Thirty-three percent learned about their home from a real estate agent. That’s pretty impressive odds.

So in the age of home buying apps, why are more buyers using a real estate agent? A number of reasons. First, the bubble and implosion in housing values made buyers more cautious. Then the housing market rebounded, leaving many buyers unprepared for bidding wars, investors, and a tighter mortgage market. Last, buyers have been on the sidelines so long, that they’re entering the market with more maturity than buyers of past generations.

There’s no reason not to use all the help you can get. Licensing laws allow agents to work with both buyers and sellers as both fiduciaries and non-fiduciaries, depending on state disclosure requirements.

When an agent contracts with a seller to sell their home, the agent contracts commission fees with the seller to cover the costs of paying the buyer’s agent. Buyers may not realize that most agents are paid at the closing, and that they won’t be out any upfront money to hire their own agent.

Having an agent multiplies the buyer’s chances of finding the right home at the best price. The buyer’s agent networks with other agents to find the right home and they learn which homes are coming onto the market before the general public. Many homes are bought and sold without a sign ever going into the yard.

But, if a buyer goes to open houses, or builder model homes without registering their buyer’s agent’s name, or calls on a listing without mentioning their agent, the listing agent or builder’s agent has every right to assume the buyer is unrepresented. They may refuse to pay the buyer’s agent commission.

Today’s agents are like today’s buyers and sellers. They’re more technology-savvy and willing to work hard to please their buyers. They know that buyers eventually become sellers, and sellers become repeat buyers.

That’s how good agents build their businesses, through repeat business and referrals. They are highly motivated to do the best job possible for homebuyers.

Why wouldn’t any buyer want to take advantage of that?

Chris Maroc-As your professional real estate adviser, I will focus on your satisfaction.  My business is about service and I am not happy until you are happy. I will share in-depth knowledge of the area, recent sales comparisons, market data, and strong negotiating skills. I will find you a home that will best suit your needs and budget. Please call me at 914-215-2025

First Thanksgiving? Consider This Your Stress-Free Guide to Hosting

Real Simple

First Thanksgiving? Consider This Your Stress-Free Guide to Hosting

So you decided to have everyone at your home this year. It’s a big undertaking, but we’re here to help.

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest family holidays of the year—and maybe the most delicious. There’s nothing like the after-dinner food coma that evening, and knowing you have leftovers to get you through breakfast, lunch, and dinner practically until Christmas. If the hosting baton has been passed to you this year, we know your first instinct is to panic.

“It always feels overwhelming and very stressful,” says Debi Lilly, owner and chief planner at A Perfect Event. “There are a lot of details that have to be fairly synchronized.”

Not to worry: We’ve mapped it out. Here, a foolproof timeline and checklist so no detail goes forgotten.

TWO TO THREE WEEKS BEFORE:

Make a plan.
“Start planning out simple things, like event flow,” says Lilly. Think about where you want guests to sit, and where you want to set your food (if you’re doing buffet style). With more than eight guests, buffet is the easiest way to go—especially if you’re short on space.

“You can do a beautiful party in a small space by utilizing all of your sitting areas,” says Lilly. This means you may want to purchase cheap lap trays for older guests or young children who might have trouble balancing dinner on their knees.

Create a menu:
When creating a menu, go for recipes that are simple and trusted—like these easy stuffings, or these colorful sides. While it’s fun to have one unique item at your meal, go for a signature cocktail, not a stuffing recipe that requires bizarre ingredients and three days of prep. Once your menu is set, write out grocery lists. You should divide the list into perishables and nonperishables to make shopping and storing easier. Need menu inspiration? Find it here.

Pro organizing tip: “Print out a blank November calendar, and then fill in with when you will shop, when you will make certain dishes ahead, and any pick-ups you may need to make or deliveries coming to the house,” says Diane Phillips, James Beard Award nominee cookbook author and cooking teacher.

Order your turkey.
“For the turkey, you will need three-quarters to a pound of turkey per person,” says Phillips. This will still leave you with a day’s worth of leftovers. Buy the bird as early as possible and freeze it. Just remember: You need one day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey.

While you’re at it, consider ordering prepared h’ors doerves trays from the grocery store or desserts from the bakery that you’ll also want to serve. One more thing checked off your list!

Confirm your guest list.
Take note of how many people are coming to your house, and in that list, how many are children. From there, ask people to help. It’s not unreasonable to ask guests to bring a dish—and often, they will offer!

“There’s a time and a place for doing it all, but I don’t think Thanksgiving is the place,” says Lilly. When you ask guests to bring a dish, be very specific, so you know exactly what is heading to your home. Phillips takes it one step further:

“If you are having people bring a dish, give them the recipe,” she says. “They will appreciate having something they can easily put together.”

ONE WEEK BEFORE:

Set the table.
Taking care of this task in advance saves you a little bit of stress on the day-of. If you can’t set it an entire week in advance, shoot for a few days ahead. Have place cards ready if you’ll all be sitting at one table to avoid any confusion.

Place yourself closest to the kitchen, and not necessarily at the head. It’s best to split up couples for a livelier dynamic, but keep small children between their parents. Bonus tip: Seat lefties at corners, where they’ll have room to eat without banging elbows.

Grocery shop.
Consult your grocery lists and get your shopping out of the way. Does anything sound worse than a last-minute trip to the local grocery store on Thanksgiving Day? If you shop about five to six days in advance, you should have little-to-no issue with your perishable items.

To ease your burden, consider passing off dessert to a guest or a local bakery, says Lilly. Offer up recipe suggestions to the family member who can bake up a storm, or visit the grocer to order ahead.

Prepare for overnight guests.
Make sure you have fresh towels and linens on hand for overnight guests, and their room is ready to go. If you have a small home and no guest room, there are plenty of ways to make guests feel comfortable without their own space.

THE WEEK OF:

Take inventory.
Do you have a thermometer? Enough casserole dishes? What about plates and silverware? Ensure that you have all of the essential turkey tools before diving into cooking.

Start cooking on Sunday.
Here lies Phillips’ secret to a stress-free holiday:make-ahead dishes. Gravy bases can be frozen, and casseroles and vegetables can often be cooked ahead and refrigerated for up to two days. If it can’t be cooked in advance, maybe it can at least be prepared. For example: your potatoes can be washed and ready to peel and mash.

THE DAY OF:

Wake up early.
On this holiday, there is no sleeping in. Make a schedule, and stick to it. Most importantly: You want to be ready up to an hour before guests are scheduled to arrive.

“Someone always arrives very early,” says Lilly. “There’s nothing worse than the doorbell ringing while you’re in the shower.”

What does this mean? The table or buffet should be set, and more importantly, the drinks should be chilled. If you give yourself an hour-long buffer, you’ll save yourself a lot of scrambling.

Keep food warm.
Use the microwave—it’s insulated, so it will keep dishes warm for up to half an hour—just don’t turn it on. Pour gravy into a thermos to keep it steaming. Spoon mashed potatoes or rice into an insulated ice bucket or Crock-Pot.

Prepare every room in the house.
Start your holiday with a clean kitchen—this means empty dishwashers and trashcans. Line your bins with more than one bag so that you have a fresh bag ready to go when one becomes full. Remove precious objects from the living room to save them from hyper nieces and nephews. If coats and bags are going on your bed, cover your duvet and pillows with a sheet to protect them from the elements. Finally, light a candle in the bathroom—it’s just a nice touch.

Roast the perfect turkey
To know it’s done, use a meat thermometer in three spots: breast, thigh, and stuffing. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, and in the center of both the breast and the stuffing. If your turkey is unstuffed, cooking times are different—see this handy chart for answers to all of your turkey cooking questions. Brining your turkey will make it even juicier, and it’s an easy skill to master.

If something goes wrong, don’t panic. Call mom, consult these turkey tips, or phone one of these helpful Thanksgiving hotlines.

Get your stain-removing arsenal ready.
When you crowd family members into a home, and couple that with delicious dinner, food will fly. White cotton cloths can sop up spills; white vinegar can handle coffee splatters; white wine can overpower its evil twin, red wine; a pre-treat stick like Tide to Go will handle major food slips.

Have fun!
This holiday is all about being grateful for what you have—even if the turkey is burnt and the tablecloth is a mosaic of stains, enjoy the time you have with family and friends, and take note of funny stories to tell at next year’s dinner.

What happens at a closing on a home?

Jessica Edwards with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage shares what to expect in this important part of the home buying process.

So, you’ve found your dream home and you’ve nearly made it through the home buying process. You’ve made an offer on a house, you’ve gotten approved for a mortgage, and you’ve conducted a home inspection. Now, it’s time for closing. So, what happens at a closing on a home?

In the below video, real estate professional Jessica Edwards with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage explains the closing process.

Whether you’re just starting your home search, or getting ready to move to your next home, home begins at coldwellbanker.com.

If you have any questions, please call, Chris Maroc 914-215-2025

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