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Rent to Own

Renting to own (also known as a lease-option) provides those not in the position to make an immediate purchase on a home, to settle on something that is right for them- at the right time. Many lease options are the same.

Typically, renters agree to lease the house for a pre-determined amount of time (usually one to three years) with an up-front fee with or without an elevated monthly rent. The potion over market goes into a  “fund” that is utilized later as a down payment. They provide the opportunity to lock the price in when the deal is made, with the option to purchase at that price when or before the lease is up.

Timing is everything. Market conditions play a critical factor into finding a lease-option. When the market is steady, it makes it difficult to find these options unless the owner really needs to sell. However, as homes sit on the market longer, sellers begin losing money which causes the window for lease-options to open to potential and future home buyers.

Lease-options typically favor the buyer, but can be complicated to those that are unfamiliar with them. Have a real estate broker and attorney inspect the contract to ensure there is financial protection as well as security. Lease options can be a smart solution to throwing away money when you rent. First time home buyers who play their cards correctly can eliminate conventional loans and get that chance at their dream of homeownership.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou

Nissou Realty Group
Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon

619-250-4541   |  Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.StephenNissou.com

Should You Sell Your Home Before You Buy – or Wait?

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If you are a current homeowner that wants to purchase a new home, you’re most likely asking yourself a question common to folks in your situation: Should I sell before I buy?

The answer to that question depends on several factors.

Your Personality

Just the thought of having two mortgage payments—even for a short period of time—can cause massive anxiety for some people. Even if your lender has assured you of a simultaneous close on the two homes, uncertainty may linger.

Then, there is the pressure to accept an unattractive offer just to ensure that the home sells in time. If you wait to buy, you’ll have the luxury of being able to negotiate offers as they come in.

If you crave certainty, you should probably wait until the current home sells to take on the purchase process.

There are, however, those who deal with uncertainty better than others. If that describes you, then starting the purchase process before you sell your current home probably won’t faze you.

Your Finances

Regardless of your personality, if you just don’t have the money to support two mortgage payments at the same time, then you have no choice but to sell your home before you purchase another.

Further, if you need the proceeds from the sale of your current home to use to buy a new home, you’ll need to wait until after you sell, or attempt a simultaneous close. (We explain that process below.)

The Market

A seller’s market is the ideal situation when you’re selling your current home, but it can be difficult if you hope to purchase at the same time. In a seller’s market—where there are few homes available and lots of buyers competing for them—sellers are in the driver’s seat. With multiple offers coming in, homeowners are not likely to accept an offer that is contingent upon another home selling.

On the flip side, in a hot seller’s market, homes that are in good condition and are located in decent areas will sell quickly.  If your house is among them, you take on little risk if you wish to purchase a new home before selling your current one.

Ascertain if the current market caters to sellers or buyers before making the decision of whether to buy before your house sells. Your real estate agent is your best source for this information.

Achieving the Simultaneous Close

Selling one home while purchasing another can be a bit of a balancing act. If you try to time the closings to occur during the same period, you run the risk of ending up with two house payments at once.

If you allow too much time between closings, on the other hand, you may find yourself renting a temporary home and, thus, moving twice.

The ideal situation is to plan for a simultaneous closing, where both transactions occur on the same day. However, this process comes with risks, too. If anything should go wrong on the first transaction you could end up not being able to close on the second.

For the simultaneous closing process to go smoothly, it’s important to choose the right buyers for your current home. How much do you know about their finances? How firm is their offer? What do you know about their motivation to purchase? How badly do they want the home?

Since the process is a bit like a string of dominoes, and the buyer of your home is the lead domino, it’s crucial to choose a buyer you know will consummate the deal.

The key to success is hiring an experienced, professional real estate agent. Your agent can guide you through the process and steer the transaction to keep it on course.

For information about home prices in your area, or to find out how much your home is worth, please contact me at 619-250-4541 or Stephen@StephenNissou.com!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou

Nissou Realty Group  |  KW Realty El Cajon

619.250.4541 Direct  | 619.873-2772 Office

Stephen@StephenNissou.com

http://www.StephenNissou.com

Resume, Refurbish, and Recycle: How to Go Eco-Friendly With Your Home Design

Resume, Refurbish, and Recycle: How to Go Eco-Friendly With Your Home Design

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Furnishing, decorating or redecorating a home can be expensive, tedious and sometimes a bit frustrating. We must try to keep up with the latest, ever-changing fashion trends while also attempting to carefully balance expenses with the social responsibility of not creating additional landfill waste. We live in a crowded world where the unnecessary dumping of bulky furniture items or interior finishes that are still in good shape shouldn’t be tolerated.

Try to keep sustainability in mind as you decorate your home. Seek out items containing recycled content or made from eco-friendly materials. Donate or sell items that could be salvaged whenever possible, as they should be given the opportunity for a second life in another home.

Here are a few simple design ideas with a sustainable approach, to help give a fresh look to your home while remaining eco-friendly.

Focus on the Finishes

If you’re starting bare bones with your home décor, you can select interior finishes that contain recycled content or that are made from rapidly renewable resources. There are many flooring options available today that provide style and are also quite cost effective—bamboo, cork or linoleum, to name a few. For carpeting, look at selections bearing recycled materials, or that contain wool or even corn fibers, for a sustainable choice.

For bathroom or kitchen countertops, consider ceramic tiles or beautiful glass made entirely from recycled content. More exclusively for kitchens, look for counters made from concrete, stainless steel, recycled paper or even reclaimed wood. Consider cabinetry materials that are sourced from sustainably harvested forests, such as from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and steer clear of products containing added urea-formaldehyde to offer a healthier interior environment.

If you’re redecorating your existing home, try and salvage what you’ve already got! Refinish those beautiful hardwood floors that can last another lifetime, instead of replacing them. Refurbish existing cabinetry or interior doors by adding a fresh stain, a coat of paint, or updated hardware.

“New” Furniture Doesn’t Have to Be New

Shop at thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets or second-hand online retailers for one-of-a-kind treasures and give them a fresh look. Consider stand-out pieces such as oversized wooden or metal headboards, table and chair ensembles, distinctive dressers, buffets or armoires—then refurbish them to compliment your existing décor. Vintage pieces establish an effortlessly unique appeal and help divert unnecessary waste from already overflowing landfills.

Another eco-friendly and cost-effective option is to refinish the furniture you’ve already got at home. Some sanding, new hardware, and a fresh stain or paint color added to a single piece of furniture—or a complete ensemble—will give a room an entirely new look. Consider a distressed look or even add stenciling or texture. Encourage a family project and the whole gang will take pride in the finished product!

Use some imagination and creativity to give new meaning to existing pieces or eclectic, previously-owned treasures. Antique dressers make gorgeous bathroom vanities; and with a reclaimed wood top, you can make exceptional kitchen island creations. Search out vintage lockers for storing mudroom essentials and display houseplants on rustic hutches or armoires left lazily ajar.

If you absolutely must have something new, seek out furniture derived from eco-friendly products and those made from recycled plastics or metals. Consider ethically sourced wood or accent pieces made from rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo.

Addressing the Finer Details

Don’t forget to also think sustainably when fine-tuning your home décor. Seek out throw rugs or blankets derived from natural or recycled fibers. Do the same for your fabrics and textiles, and consider green options such as organic cotton or linen, hemp or jute.

Most importantly, instead of buying new, search again for unique, second-hand treasures. Make a bold statement by adding one-of-a-kind light fixtures to any room. Refurbish vintage mirrors or antique picture frames. Utilize abandoned window panes for your photo collections.  Consider rustic galvanized tubs, wicker baskets or ornamental canning jars for your storage needs and add a touch of classic elegance with a single glass vase or antique table lamp.

As consumers, it is our social and moral responsibility to think about how our individual actions affect the world we live in. We can help not only to divert unnecessary waste from already overcrowded landfills; we can have a lot of fun doing it.

Eco-friendly home design resources:

http://recycledinteriors.org/being-green/

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/Ecofriendly-Kitchens

http://www.bhg.com/kitchen/remodeling/planning/eco-friendly-kitchen-ideas/

Your Local Real Estate Agent,

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3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Townhome

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Have you ever noticed how the terms “town house” and “condo” are sometimes used interchangeably? This is most likely because both types of housing structures may be governed by homeowners associations. That, however, is where the similarity between the two ends. Comparing condos with town houses is akin to comparing apples and oranges.

When most consumers hear the word “condo,” they picture a unit in a larger structure. For the most part, this is accurate. The problem, though, is that “condominium” is actually a form of ownership, not a type of structure. There are three major types of homeownership:

Condominium

Fee simple

Cooperative

Condominium owners own the interiors of their units and share ownership of the common areas. “Town house,” on the other hand, describes a type of structure – one that is typically two or more stories and attached to one or more other town houses, each with its own front door.

In some parts of the country, town houses may be owned as condominiums or the homeowner may own it fee simple – in which she owns the building and/or land in its entirety.

As you can see, the questions to ask if you are thinking of purchasing a town house will be quite different than those you’ll consider when purchasing a condominium unit. Let’s take a look at three of the most significant factors you should consider.

  1. Homeowners Association

While not all town houses are governed by homeowners associations, many are. This fact opens up a can of worms when considering whether to purchase. HOA fees can be quite expensive, so you’ll need to take them into account when determining how much you can afford to spend on housing every month.

During the purchase process, you’ll be given a pile of HOA-related paperwork, and you’ll need to read every word of every page – or have your attorney do so. You’ll want to know if the HOA is solvent, how often it levies assessments and if there is pending litigation, among other issues.

Finally, you’ll need to consider if you want to live in an area managed by an association. Some people prefer the structure that an HOA affords while others find that structure too confining.

  1.  Getting Financed

Purchasing a fee simple town house is identical to purchasing a detached, single-family dwelling as far as lenders are concerned. If the town house is owned as a condominium, lending becomes a bit trickier.

Owner-occupied homes tend to be maintained better than those used strictly as rentals. Lenders understand this and make it a part of the lending decision. Find out the ratio of owner-occupied to tenant-occupied units before making an offer. If it exceeds 30 percent, you may not be able to get a mortgage for it.

Determine the percentage of homeowners that are delinquent in paying their HOA dues. This is critical information because banks typically won’t lend to anyone wishing to purchase a town house where the HOA delinquency rate is more than 15 percent.

  1. Exit Strategy

If you’re using the purchase of a town house as a springboard to the future purchase of a detached home, you’ll want to plan an exit strategy. Yes, it seems silly to consider moving before the ink is dry on the purchase agreement, but it’s necessary to achieve your future goals.

Building equity in a home takes time and, depending on market conditions and the type of home you own, it may take longer with a town house. All things being equal (location, proximity to good schools, etc.) a single-family home will appreciate in value quicker than a town house. In reality, the opportunity to build equity in the first few years of ownership of any type of home is minimal unless you pay an enormous down payment.

Ask your real estate agent to give you statistics on town house sales in your area over the past year. Check the average days on the market. The longer a home remains on the market, the less money it eventually brings. Should you decide to purchase, ask your agent to keep you updated on the town house market in the future. Most agents are happy to do this.

Keep in mind that even when your equity begins building, your property taxes may rise. Property reassessments can take a bite out of how much equity you’re able to build.

Living in a town house is ideal for those who want the benefit of homeownership at a cheaper price and without some of the headaches that come with a detached home. Choose your town house wisely and with an eye toward future market value.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
Direct: 619-250-4541    |    Office: 619-873-2772
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.NissouRealtyGroup.com

3 Easy Improvements to Help You Sell Your Home

painting-a-new-house-vector-materialForget, for a moment, about market trends and interest rates. At any given time, no matter the state of the economy, someone somewhere is selling their home. In any market, homeowners can up the odds that a home sells as quickly and as profitably as possible by giving it a facelift.

Sellers should focus on home improvement projects that either add value to the home or that attract buyers’ eyes and pique their interests. Make them forget any other houses they viewed and want your house instead.

Don’t randomly select home improvement projects based on your own tastes or suggestions from friends, either. You won’t be the one living in the home, after all. Research houses in your community and compare features and appraisals to get a better idea what people in your area want. A swimming pool may be a popular upgrade in a Southern suburb filled with young couples and families, for instance. But in the North, a hot tub will have greater appeal. A community with older people, no matter where in the country, will probably value a car port or garage over a pool or spa.

Here are three home-improvement project categories that almost anyone can tackle without a large capital investment.

1.Boost Your Curb Appeal

You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. When potential buyers drive up to your home, if they don’t like what they see immediately, they may not get past the exterior to find the great things inside.

It’s not about planting expensive trees, installing fountains or other fancy upgrades. In fact, some of the most value-added outdoor home-improvement projects cost little to nothing, except for your time. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) suggests some of the following property improvements:

Get out your pruning shears: If your home is on the market, keeping the lawn mowed is a given. Keeping plants and flowers watered is also essential. Pruning trees, shrubs and other greenery is more easily overlooked, but it is one of those touches that will make your home stand out. Follow a pruning guide, like the one provided by Better Homes and Gardens, to get the most out of your efforts.

Dig into some mulch: Mulching is another often overlooked landscaping project with a tremendous impact. It helps conserve moisture, protects roots, discourages weeds, and other benefits. You can choose between all-natural mulches and decorative mulches, such as stone. You can even use compost that you create yourself or mown grass and fallen leaves.

Show off your green thumb: Purchase outdoor containers that complement your home’s style and plant something unusual or interesting, NAR suggests. Place plants on the patio or around the home’s entrance to immediately create a more appealing exterior. Plant bright flowers and foliage to provide a splash of color.

Clean up your home’s exterior: Spend a weekend cleaning your gutters, windows and especially your siding, among other exterior items. Rent or purchase a power washer for a very affordable price to really make your home shine.

  1. Add a Coat of Paint

Like a wash and wax for your car, a new coat of paint makes anything look better and brighter. To improve your home’s value and attract buyers, consider a fresh paint job, inside and out.

The “safe” advice is to choose neutral colors, such as beige and off-white, and to avoid vibrant or gender-specific hues such as orange, purple or red. However, safe isn’t always the best bet, argues real estate agent Todd Kroepel. “Keeping a home vanilla so that buyers can choose their own style and décor … ignores the fact that most buyers lack the ability to visualize the home differently,” he cautions. Don’t be afraid to add splashes of color and a touch of texture—it can be good to leave a dash of style evident.

Consider painting an accent wall in your living room with a contrasting color, or add some texturizing product instead. Adding hand-painted borders in the bathroom, by using stencils that run vertically or horizontally, is another classy touch.

Before painting, outside or in, ensure that the surface is clean and properly prepared. Use a primer to cover previously unfinished areas or bare wood, to better cover over dark or bold colors, or to block out stains. Inside your home, sand surfaces slightly if you don’t use a primer, to help paint adhesion.

  1. Update the Kitchen or Bathroom

Everyone appreciates a well-put-together and comfortable bathroom or kitchen. Renovations to these two rooms usually generate buyer interest and offer a high rate of return on investment when it comes time to sell.

Updates don’t always require a large expenditure and a messy, lengthy remodeling period either. Some of the simplest things can change the entire feel of the room. Do as much, or as little, as you choose—just don’t get too attached to the results.

Replace sink and bathtub fixtures: Switch out generic faucets and handles for newer, better-quality hardware. Think about using brass for a startling contrast, or select a style completely different from the current one.

Install a new sink: As long as you’re replacing faucets and such, why not replace the bathroom or kitchen sink as well?

Refinish the cabinets: Solid wood responds well to sanding and refinishing with stain and a polyurethane top coat, or even paint. Newer cabinets often require refacing with veneer instead. Veneer kits make the job fairly simple: Adhere the material to the cabinet box (the portion left after removing doors and drawers) and then purchase new drawer fronts and cabinet doors to complete the makeover.

Upgrade your countertops: Replace laminate with stone, tile or even a concrete countertop. If you have old ceramic tile, clean or regrout to refresh the look.

Add lighting and accessories: Think in layers when it comes to lighting. Adding accent lights or task lights in any room of the house makes it more visually appealing. Other little touches include changing door knobs, light switch and outlet covers, or installing ceiling fans or a medicine cabinet. Consider swapping old light switches with dimmer switches or energy-saving, programmable lighting controls.

Highlight energy-savers: Speaking of saving energy, programmable thermostats, upgraded insulation and proper weatherproofing are music to many home buyers’ ears.

While you can hire professionals to do the work for you, rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself will increase the amount you recoup when you sell your home. Each project will increase the value of your property, no matter where you live, and help you sell your home faster.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

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Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon

680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92020

619.250.4541 – Direct   |   619-873-2772 – Office

Stephen@StephenNissou.com

http://www.NissouRealtyGroup.com

SOLD by Nissou Realty Group – Before and After Curb Appeal

You hear it all the time – an eye-catching exterior with great curb appeal. But what exactly is curb appeal?

If you spend enough time looking, you’ll see that all the best things have one thing in common – an attractiveness. Viewed from the street, curb appeal is simply that; an attractiveness of the exterior of a residential property. It can be accomplished by a number of ways, including the installation of exterior decorations, re-painting, extensive attention to the landscaping, or sometimes even re-staging.

When you look at a home, many time you’re looking straight at the front door. Make your home a focal point of the neighborhood by giving your door a blast of color. Clean off any dirty spots around the knobs and polish the metal on door fixtures. Replace old hardware such as house numbers, locksets, or mailboxes.

For more curb appeal, check out my Pinterest page! 

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty
680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92019
619.250.4541   |   619.873.2772
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.StephenNissou.com

What You Must Know About Insurance When Buying a Home

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Purchasing a home involves getting to know a lot of financial terms and processes that most first-time homebuyers have never been exposed to. One of the most confusing is insurance. If you’ve never owned a home before, your familiarity with insurance most likely centers around auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance and, perhaps, renter’s insurance.

Even then, your level of familiarity may be minimal, if you are like most Americans. In fact, a mere 14 percent of those who have health insurance understand even the most basic insurance jargon, such as deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics.

The various types of insurance required in the average real estate transaction are even less understood, so let’s take a look at them and get you up to speed.

Title Insurance

Title insurance comes in two varieties: a lender’s policy and an owner’s policy. If you take out a mortgage to purchase the home, your lender will require that you purchase a lender’s policy. This protects the lender from anyone else who thinks he is the rightful owner or otherwise has a claim against the property.

Depending on where you live, you may also be required to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy. In other areas, the purchase is voluntary.

The issuance of either policy is based on research of the property’s title, or the “chain of title” as it is known. The examiner will look at public records, such as deeds, wills and trusts to ensure that the wording is proper and that the names on the documents are correct. She will look for outstanding mortgages, judgments and any liens against the property. She will check easements, look for pending legal action against the property and more.

Should the examiner find problems on the title, they will need to be remedied before the purchase can be completed.

Once the policy is in place, the lender (and you, if you purchase an owner’s policy) is insured against unknown heirs coming forward claiming ownership, forged signatures on the deed, mistakes in the public records, and other hidden hazards.

Homeowners Insurance

You may hear homeowners insurance referred to as hazard insurance, but they are one and the same. Again, if you take out a mortgage to purchase the home, the lender will require that you purchase homeowners insurance.

While coverage varies, most policies cover fire damage or loss, theft, wind damage, hail damage, vandalism and more. Some perils aren’t typically covered, such as flood and earthquake damage, but there may be supplemental insurance that you can purchase to cover these hazards.

Your insurance agent can help you determine how much coverage you require, based on the loan amount and what it might cost to rebuild the home.

Payments to the insurance company are either kept in an escrow account sent in with your mortgage payment or the homeowner pays the premium on her own – it varies by insurer.

If you suffer a loss, the insurance company will typically make out the check to both you and the lender.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance is something most homebuyers and homeowners would love to get rid of, but it’s a necessary evil. Without it, many buyers would not be given a mortgage and thus not be able to purchase a home.

PMI is required of borrowers whose down payment is less than 20 percent. Because these borrowers are considered higher risk, the lender needs assurance that it will get its money should the borrower default on the loan.

Because the borrower pays the premium (typically added to the monthly mortgage payment), it seems that the lender is the only party that benefits. Keep in mind, however, that without PMI, lenders would demand a 20 percent down payment. Therefore, the cash-poor borrower reaps an enormous benefit.

The good news about PMI – at least for those with conventional loans – is that you can request a cancellation of the insurance once your loan balance reaches 80 percent of the original value of the home. Unfortunately, borrowers with an FHA-backed loan are locked into paying mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan, if they put less than 10 percent down. Borrowers who pay more than 10 percent, but less than 20 percent, can cancel the mortgage insurance in 11 years.

The best people to speak with if you have questions about any type of insurance required during the home-purchase process are your lawyer, your real estate agent and your insurance agent.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou, Realtor ®
CalBRE # 01443193

NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92019
619.250.4541   |   619-873-2772 Office
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.StephenNissou.com

Stephen

Listed in Jamul, CA! Vacant Land to Build Your Custom Dream Home!

Listed in gorgeous Jamul, CA! $299,000 | Over 1 acre each!
Choose where you want to build your custom dream home! Panoramic views of the beautiful Jamul mountains, Grated & Approved, Ready to build! Electricity and water is available & ready. 
 
(Plans available for 3225 sqft home for lot #3).
Three lots are available for individual sale! Can combine lots for packaged deal!
Please call 619-250-4541 or email Stephen@StephenNissou.com for more information!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
Realtor ®
CALBre # 01443193

NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
680 Fletcher Pkwy. #100, El Cajon, CA 92020
DIrect 619-250-4541
Office 619-873-2772
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.StephenNissou.com

Interior Decorating, Farmhouse – Style

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Farmhouse décor offers a relaxed, casual and charming feel. It perfectly combines old and new elements for an eclectic look. A farmhouse interior is warm and inviting while also being practical.

Whether you’re a true country dweller or simply love the look and feel associated with its laid-back style, bring the charm of the farm to your home.

Design Elements

Natural design elements are heavily represented in farmhouse homes. Exposed and distressed beams and ceilings are common features along with crown moldings, wainscoting or other wall paneling.

Natural wood flooring is a must. Leave them plain or consider giving the floors or wood wall paneling a whitewashed or distressed look. Also, incorporate oversized windows where possible. Farmhouse homes tend to let natural light flood their interiors.

A Farmhouse Kitchen

A modern farmhouse kitchen remains warm and inviting yet practical. Choose between either clean or weathered whites for cabinetry and dishware. It’s also common to refurbish cabinets and choose colors such as buttery yellow or pale blue.itchen

Butcher block countertops are also a farmhouse favorite, and an apron-front sink screams farmhouse kitchen. Consider incorporating some glass cabinetry to neatly showcase some of your antique favorites, and include open shelving to easily access essentials such as pots and pans or mason jars filled with flour or sugar. These elements will add charm while still remaining practical.

In open floor plans, a large wooden dining table enhances the inviting and classic qualities of farmhouse style. Stainless appliances and hardware in bronze or brushed nickel add subtle modern touches.

Furnishings

Consider browsing antique shops or flea markets for special pieces such as large iron bed frames, wardrobes, buffets, chests or hutches. Focus on blending eclectic items as opposed to purchasing furniture in sets. For example, an oversized wooden dining table is a must, but consider adding mismatched rustic chairs to enhance the casualness associated with farmhouse décor.

Living room furnishings should be welcoming and relaxed. Comfortable cotton sofas are often seen adorned with simple slipcovers, which again enhance a sense of informality. Accent with a reclaimed or reupholstered chair, chairs made from other natural fibers such as wicker, or even a classic wooden rocker dressed with a hand-stitched quilt.

Farmhouse Décor

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When fine-tuning your farmhouse décor, remember to incorporate vintage pieces that were also utilitarian such as old milk jugs or wire egg baskets. Display antique china in refurbished, weathered hutches, and consider antique pitchers in lieu of a modern vase. Use clear or colored mason jars to store everyday essentials or display cut flowers or tea lights. Antique scales or canister sets can be charming additions to exposed shelving. Old wooden milk crates, wicker baskets, and galvanized metal buckets or watering cans add immediate rustic charm. Frame vintage photos in eclectic frames and add antique signs, mirrors or clocks to walls.

Replicate farmhouse style in your home, and craft a relaxed environment that exudes incomparable charm.

For inspiration, be sure to check out our Pinterest page for tips, tricks, and visual design!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

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5 First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes To Avoid

Avoid These 5 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

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According to the dictionary, a mistake is an error resulting from deficient knowledge or carelessness. While we can’t do anything about carelessness, when it comes to counseling first-time homebuyers, the real estate agent is a tremendous resource to help overcome knowledge deficiency.

That homebuyers lack knowledge about the process only makes sense when you understand that shopping for a home may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some. Certainly, it’s not something most Americans do frequently. The process is foreign and the pitfalls are hidden. This is why it’s so important to find the right real estate agent to assist you along the way.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes.

Mistake 1: Not Being Clear About Money

Going into a home purchase with your eyes closed to your finances is probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make during the process. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, yet that’s what you open yourself up to when you are ignorant about where you stand financially.

If you are unsure about your credit-worthiness, order your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. By law, Americans are entitled to one free report from each bureau every 12 months. You can order your free reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized website, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Look for errors on the reports and dispute any erroneous information. Pay off what you can to help lower your debt-to-income ratio.

Then, see a lender to determine exactly how much you can borrow for a home.

Finally, when you have that figure, don’t be tempted to shop for homes priced at the limit. Give your post-purchase budget some monthly wiggle room by purchasing at the middle of the price range, or a bit more.

Mistake 2: Not Being Clear About Your Wants and Needs

While you may not get everything on a wish list, it’s a good idea to compile one – especially if more than one person will be living in the home.

Understand that your wish list isn’t set in stone and you can plan on it changing once you start viewing homes. During the home-shopping process, you will get a better idea of which items are feasible with your budget and which will have to be struck from the list. Knowing what you want and need in a home is vital to your long-term satisfaction, so it’s worth the time it takes to sit down and make a list.

Don’t neglect the neighborhood wish list either. Do you need to be close to public transportation? If you’d like a family neighborhood with lots of kids for yours to play with, put that on the list.

The bonus to getting clear on your wants and needs is that when you share the list with your real estate agent, your time won’t be wasted by viewing homes that don’t fit your criteria.

Mistake 3: Not Reading the HOA Documents

If the home you decide to make an offer on is managed by a homeowners association, you’ll be presented with a stack of paperwork to read over and approve. These are the HOA documents and, although terribly boring, they hold a wealth of valuable information that you must be privy to before making the final decision to purchase the property.

These documents govern how you can use your home, and they give you an idea of how much and how often your fees might rise. You’ll learn about common and ongoing problems the association deals with and how financially solvent the association is.

Don’t be like the couple that purchased a condo without reading the HOA documents and found out, three days after closing, that they – along with all the other homeowners – were being assessed $7,500 to remedy construction defects.

If you don’t feel that you can read and understand the information in these documents, it’s important to hire an attorney to help you wade through them.

Mistake 4: Making Big Changes

The best part of the home-purchase process is that point during the transaction when inspections are complete, all the contingencies have been removed, and it feels like smooth sailing to the close.

Unfortunately, this is a danger zone for rookie homebuyers. This is typically when they start picturing themselves actually living in the home and the urge may be overwhelming to shop for furniture, appliances and other big-ticket items.

Just before closing, many lenders perform what is known as a “soft pull” of your credit reports. It’s called “soft” because it doesn’t impact your score in any way. It’s the lender’s way of making sure all the circumstances under which it approved the loan haven’t changed.

Any big changes you make, such as large purchases or getting a new job, may derail or delay the purchase. If the new debt you’ve taken on is substantial enough, it may change your debt-to-income ratio and you may be forced to reapply for the mortgage.

Keep your pocketbook closed and remain on your current job until you walk away from the closing table.

Mistake 5: Waiving the Home Inspection

Although foregoing a home inspection was unthinkable a few years ago, in a seller’s market where multiple offers are common, it’s tempting to agree to waive the home inspection as an incentive for the seller to pick your offer. It’s also not very wise.

A professional inspection, even of a newly constructed home, may be the only way you’ll know whether you’re buying a lemon or a plum – a money pit or a smart investment.

When you forego a professional home inspection, you’re essentially buying the home “as is.” Without the inspection contingency, the buyer waives his right to ask for repairs or money to make the repairs.

Waiving the home inspection is never worth the risk.

Knowing how much home you can afford is paramount to a successful home purchase. Making the decision to remain within a certain budget, doing all you can to clean up your credit to get the lowest interest rate possible, and becoming clear on your desires and expectations all help to make the home-buying process as error-free as possible.

Your Local Real estate Expert,

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