3 Ways to Take the Stress off First Time Homebuyers

7C2CBA50-9A24-4CA8-805B-00C619BFBE93Real estate agents do more than provide homebuying and selling help, they offer friendship as well. It’s easy to form a bond that turns into a long-term friendship when you’re helping first-time homebuyers.

Qualifying for a home loan, ensuring the property is in good shape, filling out a number of forms and working toward closing can be a lot for a homebuying rookie to deal with. That’s where real estate agents can step in as friends and calm down stressed-out clients. Even homebuying veterans can start feeling the strain. Here are a few ways you can step in to offer relief to stressed homebuyers:

Remind them to keep an open mind
Often, first-time homebuyers are looking for their dream entry-level home, but that’s not always available. Real estate agents should remind clients that sometimes it’s necessary to make concessions. This is especially true of clients looking for their first homes, whose savings reflect a shorter tenure in the workforce and credit profiles are relatively thin. Keeping an open mind to compromise is necessary when buying a home for the first time, and it’s a real estate agent’s job to help make sure that happens.

Emphasize planning ahead
One way to ensure clients keep open minds is to start budgeting the homebuying process right away. Planning ahead in this way helps first-time homebuyers visualize what purchasing looks like from a fiscal standpoint, and what their budgets can afford. Make sure that there is some financial cushion in case of unexpected events such as the loss of a job. This point in the conversation may be a good time to discuss the benefits of a home warranty and the potential savings a warranty can provide if a major system or appliance breaks.

This could take some time
First-time homebuyers may not yet understand how long it can sometimes take to go from initial discussions with a real estate agent to closing on a property. Be sure to make it clear that depending on the time of year and market, it could take a little while to get to closing.

Keep an ‘open-door’ policy
Someone buying a home for the first time is bound to have plenty of questions. Keep an open-door policy when it comes to curious or stressed-out homebuyers. All of this is new to them, and they’re going to be leaning on you as an experienced resource. This may be the most important step toward calming stressed out homebuyers – simply being there for them.

Real estate agents play a crucial role as a resource for relief during the homebuying process. When the going gets tough, the best real estate agents get going.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Are Home Warranties Worth It?

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Learn more about home warranties from you neighborhood HUFF Realty agent or visit hmsnational.com

Which kitchen design elements are best for buyers?

Homeowners and sellers who hope to upgrade their kitchens should bear in mind design trends for 2016.

The kitchen is a storage space, cooking area and a gathering place. Its myriad purposes make it one of the most important rooms in the home, and therefore it’s one that should be well-designed. Whether you intend to remain in place for the next decade, or sell in the near future, the kitchen is the one room in your house that you’ll probably want to look stunning all of the time.

The kitchen is one of, if not the, most important rooms in a home. Homeowners and sellers who hope to upgrade their kitchens should bear in mind design trends for 2016.

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Essentially, the style of your entire home depends on your kitchen. In addition to maintaining its aesthetic integrity for cosmetic reasons, the kitchen is also one of the most important rooms with regard to return on investment. Below are a few trends to think about when remodeling a kitchen in 2016:

1. Simple and streamlined
This year buyers will be looking for kitchens that are sleek with smooth lines and an efficient use of space. If you plan to replace your cabinets, countertop or appliances, look for materials and products that are streamlined and subtle. Simple, yet elegant, design elements can be a sign of luxury. This sort of modern look can go well with a pared down color scheme. A minimalist kitchen with sleek lines, a neutral color scheme and simple features will attract plenty of buyers in 2016.

2. White, grey and black
Speaking of minimalism, white, grey and black will be the kitchen colors of 2016. Pair your sleek kitchen with simple colors to get the most out of the minimalist designs that will be popular among buyers. Painting the room with neutral colors requires minimal spending and work, and can substantially improve the appearance of the space. This can be a great option for someone who doesn’t want to completely overhaul the kitchen, but would like to update the kitchen with minimal investment.

3. Focus on function
A neutral color scheme may be the least expensive way to update the kitchen, but pairing a fresh coat of paint with function and efficiency will make the kitchen even more attractive. For example, look for ways to add storage to your kitchen, or use kitchen organizers to reset the pantry making it appear more spacious and easier to find ingredients for meal preparation. Additionally, you may want to find ways to subtly integrate technology into your kitchen. Smart harms are the wave of the future.  If it is a pragmatic addition to the kitchen, and is in keeping with the simple and sleek design elements buyers in 2016 will love, then consider working it in with your cabinets or countertop.

Design elements that came about during the recession, such as open cabinets and reclaimed wood, are no longer appealing to buyers. This year kitchens will grow more streamlined and increasingly functional. This is the sort of kitchen that homeowners and sellers should be striving for, to get the most interest and best return on their investment. In fact, as far as home selling tips go, giving buyers what they want out of a kitchen is a big step toward a sold sign on your front lawn.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click http://www.hmsnational.com

Power Words that Sell Homes

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2015 HUFF Realty Toy Drive

HUFF Realty’s annual toy drive has officially begun! Be sure to drop off your donations at your neighborhood HUFF office!

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4 smart ways to pair real estate marketing with Halloween

The biggest holiday in October is, what else: Halloween. And Halloween is actually one of the best holidays for real estate marketing, too, as you’ll have hundreds of potential prospects and clients already walking around your neighborhood.

There are countless ways you can tie in your real estate marketing to Halloween. Before you get going, however, check out these four smart ways to do just that:

1. Deck out your listings
Any listing you have on Halloween needs to be ready to go. Of course, this requires a “For Sale” sign out front, but your listings will also need to be stocked up on brochures and other flyers. Halloween is the best opportunity to have potential prospects walk right by your listings which demonstrate your marketing abilities. Make sure your listings have all the marketing materials and informational sheets they need when the neighbors swing by. Don’t forget to give the listings some Halloween flair too, and talk to the sellers about appropriate fall decorations and curb appeal updates for the home.

2. Get involved in the neighborhood
Halloween is also a great time to get involved in the neighborhood. There are a number of ways to do this, depending on your plans Halloween night. If you’re taking your kids trick-or-treating, wear a name tag and bring along some business cards. If you’re free, consider volunteering at a local Halloween event or even hand out some business cards when parents come to your door. Embrace the spirit of Halloween, and use the holiday as an opportunity to network in your community.

3. Hold a Halloween open house
If you really want to get creative, you can even host an open house on Halloween night. You’ll want to go all-out with the decorations, too – perhaps even turning the outside of the home into a haunted-house theme. It’s a fine line to walk, though. You want the home to be all about Halloween, but you don’t want to hide the home’s features with decorations. Even so, Halloween is a great way to get people inside. Instead of coffee and pastries, you can offer candies. Families are coming to the door anyway, why not let them inside?

4. Team up with other businesses
Halloween is a holiday when a lot of businesses are getting involved. This provides you the perfect opportunity to team up with local employers and do some cross-marketing. There could be a number of planned events during October that you can attend, or you can offer special Halloween promotions to your clients – in exchange for advertising space at the local business. Take advantage of everybody’s love for Halloween to improve your real estate marketing.

These are just four tips to get started. Halloween is a fun time of year for everyone, and you can capitalize on it to promote your real estate business and gain some prospects.

Brought to you by our preferred Partner, HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click http://www.hmsnational.com

Which homes are covered – and which ones aren’t – under an HMS Home Warranty

There were nearly 5 million homes sold in the U.S. in 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s a lot of homebuyers, all getting settled in their new homes, figuring out what they love and what needs to be replaced – and, most importantly, planning out their future expenses and new household budget.

Home warranty plans provide a fantastic strategy to offset the costs of repairs and replacements of major systems and appliances. However, not all homes are eligible for coverage by home warranties:

  1. Seller Home Warranty – Available for the duration of a listing, until the property is sold.
  2. Buyer Conversion Warranty – Once the property is sold, Seller Home Warranties convert to a Buyer Home Warranty for one year from the day of closing..
  3. Buyer Direct Warranty – Purchased by a homebuyer upon closing.
  4. New Home Warranty – Purchased by homeowner upon completion of new construction.
  5. Open Direct Warranty – Purchased by homeowner not buying or selling the property.

Which properties are eligible for coverage?
It helps to know these five types of home warranties to understand which homes are covered under each agreement.

Typically single-family residential homes are eligible for coverage under each type of home warranty. Commercial properties and single-family homes with certain home-based businesses, including day cares, group homes and fraternity houses, are not eligible. One exception is any property housing persons with mental and physical disabilities.

The following are examples of properties that are not eligible for coverage under the HMS Home Warranty plan:

  • Non-owner-occupied multi-family units.
  • Homes listed in a historical register.
  • Mobile homes built more than 10 years prior to the effective date of the home warranty.
  • Multi-family homes under the New Home Warranty.
  • Tenant-occupied units under the Seller Home Warranty.

In any owner-occupied multi-family residence, any claims in tenant-occupied units are the responsibility of the owner.

The systems and appliances in the home all have a typical life span which seems to get shorter year after year. Home warranties provide homeowners with the ability to better manage the household budget and prepare for the unexpected expenses when breakdowns occur.

Brought to you by our preferred Partner, HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click http://www.hmsnational.com.

Best Cincinnati Fall Festivals

We at HUFF Realty looked high and low for a full list of the best fall festivals and events in the tristate area with no avail. Alas – we compiled a list for you! Trust us, we love pumpkin spice, the change in the leaves, boots and sweaters as much as the next person and we are determined to share our love of fall with you!

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

CORN MAZES, PUMPKINS & FUN ON THE FARM:

  • Fall on the Farm: Blooms and Berries Farm Market, Sept. 19 through Oct. 31, 2015
  • Fall Farm Days:  Bonnybrook Farms, October 3-31, 2015
  • Country Pumpkins: Alpine Hills Dairy Farm, Sept. 11 – Nov. 1, 2015
  • Shaw’s Fall Festival Weekend: Shaw Farm: Sept. 19 – October 31, 2015; weather permitting
  • Pumpkin Days on the Farm: Benton Farm, weekends in October
  • Irons Fruit Farm: weekends only (last weekend in Sept. and weekends in Oct.)
  • Burwinkel Farms: Open all of October. Weekend hayrides to ‘pick-your-own-pumpkin patch,’ a corn maze and a punch-card maze, corn pool, straw tunnel, Halloween Scavenger hunt, ‘What do you Feel’ sensory station, Sunflower field with walking path (when in bloom), large selection of pumpkins at great prices, painted pumpkins available for purchase, FREE parking.  Hayride: $3 per person (includes a pumpkin from ‘pick your own pumpkin patch’), $3 for both mazes. $5 for both hayride and mazes. Everything else is free. Infants and children under 2 years are free. Call ahead for groups of 10+, school groups, and/or weekday groups  (513-738-1145).
  • Niederman Family Farm’s Fall Festival:  Sept. 18 to Oct. 30, 2015
  • Neltner’s Farm and Greenhouses Fall Fest: Enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, an expansive corn maze, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, the petting zoo, pony rides, homemade food and ice cream, our farm shop, crafters, pottery, face-painting, seasonal apples, folk art, live music, a wonderful variety of demonstrations and a barrel train! Weekend admission is $5 (ages 3 and up) with weekend hours of 10 AM-6 PM, Weekend admission includes horse drawn wagon ride to the pumpkin patch, corn maze, petting zoo, and acres to roam; Weekday admission is free and they’re open 9 AM-6 PM with farm shop, pumpkin patch, maze, & petting zoo open.
  • Sunrock Farm: Weekends in Oct. Experience a one or two hour hands-on guided tour (reservations required).

FALL AND HALLOWEEN RELATED “THINGS TO DO”:

HAUNTED HOUSES AND OTHER ADULT EVENTS:

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7 Reasons to Use a Realtor

7 Reasons Why You Should Use a REALTOR® to Sell Your Home

Selling your home can seem a daunting task. When you close that deal, you want to make sure that your home goes to the best buyer for the best price. It may seem cheaper to sell your home yourself, and many do; however, there are a lot of details to work through.

“Selling your home through a REALTOR® can help you make sure you get the best value overall,” says Kimberly Nicole, a REALTOR® based in The Woodlands/Houston, Texas metro area who caters to luxury homes and their clientele.

Nicole offers seven reasons why you should use a REALTOR® instead of selling your home yourself:

  1. REALTORS® Know How to Navigate the Process – A REALTOR® is the manager of your home buying process. Nicole explains that you and your REALTOR® will begin with extensive discussions to head off any road blocks later on. Your REALTOR® is aware of your concerns, needs and priorities. They are there from the beginning to end, navigating each step of the way with you. Selling real estate can be a tricky business, full of regulations and involved steps. Your REALTOR® works for you, staying on top of the latest regulations and helping you meet them.
  2. REALTORS® Know How to Professionally List the Property – In the age of web 2.0, it’s not enough to upload your phone photos to a few random sites. Buyers expect professional photos, videos and flawless online presentation. To get the most exposure, you also need to manage your listing across multiple channels. REALTORS® will do all this for you, including coordinating with photographers and videographers to make sure your listing is top-notch. “Hitting the right emotional and responsive chords with buyers is the goal,” says Nicole. “Determine who the likely audience is, and market directly to that audience.”
  3. REALTORS® Know How to Prepare Sellers – Before you sell, your home must be in the best condition possible. Your REALTOR® can advise you on what repairs need to be done, and they frequently know good contractors. You may have to have inspections done before you sell, and will probably have to do repairs. A REALTOR® can set up any required inspections and instruct you on how to prepare. Sometimes homeowners will take out a loan against the house to finance costly repairs, but this can’t be done while the house is on the market. A REALTOR® may help assess the situation, and then wait to list it until the repairs are completed.
  4. REALTORS® Can Help Sellers Prepare for Showings – “Staging is extremely important,” says Nicole. “That first impression is vital.” Not only do all of the repairs need to be done, but if you still live there, the place must be kept clean and staged. This means everything from maintaining curbside appeal to the little details, like placing out a plate of cookies or laying out your best dishes in a table setting. She advises that a home must be open and inviting, and that smells, pets and lighting must all be taken into consideration. “We don’t want a home not selling because a buyer can’t see their own furniture in the home.” Your REALTOR® may also advise you to de-clutter certain closets and rearrange rooms. They may explain which personal touches add a “homey” look and which things detract from a potential buyer envisioning their own decor.
  5. REALTORS® Can Help Get Buyers through the Doors – REALTORS® not only get the traffic in, they know how to manage it. They can arrange and hold open houses in a way that gets as many visitors as possible. They also work with buyers so that showings are more convenient for you. This is especially important if you still live in the house. REALTORS® may also help weed through potential candidates so that you don’t waste your time with no-shows or non-serious buyers. “If a person needs to sell a house before buying another, the seller needs to know this,” says Nicole. This all factors in to final decisions and net proceeds.
  6. REALTORS® Know How to Objectively Negotiate – You may think preparing and showing your home may be stressful, but receiving offers can be difficult. “The goal is to get the most money as the seller, and as the buyer the goal is to look at market value and if it’s priced appropriately. You don’t want to present an offer that’s an insult to the seller,” says Nicole. A REALTOR® can help you stay reasonable, without letting you take a lowball offer either. They will also be there to navigate a multi-bid and renegotiations. “Renegotiations fall apart all the time, and deals frequently don’t come through,” she says. “Each side has different concerns, and each party needs to know where the other stands.” Closing can be a confusing process, and there is a lot of paperwork to sign. Your REALTOR® has been through this many times and can explain everything you are signing and why. If you have any questions on anything, your REALTOR® is right there.
  7. REALTORS® Know the Area – “The key to a good agent is knowing the area,” says Nicole. They know what the property values are, and have a good idea of future market fluctuations. They also know where and how to list your property for best results. Having a home listed on MLS is not enough. A good REALTOR® that is knowledgeable of the area is essential to getting the best deal on your home.
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