RE/MAX Collection Tom Carroll



Broker/Owner RE/MAX Partners
Serving the Andovers Since 1993
RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE
GLOBAL RELOCATION

Whole Lotta Stuff Goin' On This Weekend!

October - one of the busiest months for fun things to do, both indoors and out!

Newburyport Fall Festival in downtown Newburyport on Sunday & Monday. The annual festival offers a ton of great food, live music, and family fun, with craft vendor booths and specials in downtown shops and restaurants. Live entertainment in Market Square and a Scarecrow contest are some of the other events.  http://business.newburyportchamber.org/events/details/fall-harvest-festival-2017-32637

North Andover Fire Department Open House, Saturday from 10 - 1.  Bring the kids or the young-at-heart to see the fire trucks up close and personal, meet our firefighters and see what the station looks like from the inside out!

Teddy Bear Picnic at the Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover on Sunday from 1-3. Kids and parents can enjoy storytime and a light picnic (refreshments provided) at the teddy bear garden. There will also be crafts, bubbles, and a Bear Scavenger Hunt. Stuffed animal best friends are encouraged to attend! Please bring your own blanket to relax on the lawn.  A portrait photographer will be here to take complementary portraits of children with their stuffed animals. Also, Mini Emporium, an Andover-based mobile children's boutique specializing in baby and kiddos will be on the property during the event. 

Fall Foliage Train Rides in NH.  Who doesn't love a train ride?  There are several different rides from which to choose, including both old restored and newer cars and engines.  Whether it's a one hour ride or several hours with a hot meal or snacks, you'll enjoy relaxing and taking in the views. http://www.foliagetrains.com/

Salem is gearing up for its favorite and most popular time of year! Visitors from around the globe head to our famous neighboring town to take in the sights, sounds, food and vibes of the city. Events abound for all ages! This weekend's fun events include Lanterns in the Village on Sturday and Sunday.  This pumpkin-patch party is being held in Pioneer Village, where decorated pumpkins will be lit and spooky stories will be read, and you can tour the village.  For those looking for more scare factor, check out the Zombie Walk from 3:30-5:30 on Saturday, when zombies of all ages will be roaming the streets.  If you need help transforming into a zombie, there will be facepainters and makeup artists available to help you create the look you desire. Saturday and Sunday is also when the annual Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair takes place.  Dress up and join in the fun! 

Art Brunch at the W Hotel in Boston on Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Partake in the Bloody Mary bar and take in the art at the pop-up gallery - and meet and mingle with the artists!  on Friday at the World Trade Center (Boston) from 4-10 pm. Enjoy live music, food and beer, of course!

Fashion on Fire, Friday at 7 pm at the Hilton in Woburn. A Boston Fashion Week gala hosted by Erika Tarantal anchor/reporter of News Channel 5 Boston featuring a fashion show with top Boston area designers, dance and music by nationally recognized performers, special vendors with amazing shopping, a silent auction benefiting Project Smile, the Best-in-Shoe competition and delicious complimentary appetizers, desserts and a complimentary Svedka cocktail. Guests are encouraged to wear their fanciest or most outrageous shoes so they can strut the catwalk and compete for the title of Best-in-Shoe.

Classic Plastic Model Club Gala 25th Model Car Exhibition at the Elks Hall in Lawrence on Sunday from 8 - 4. See the best scale models in New England. The 2017 theme is 50th anniversary of the Camaro, Cougar & Firebird; sub-theme is Animal-named Vehicles.

FairyTale Players production of Cinderella, Saturday at 10 am at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Andover. The Tale of Cinderella's Sisters' Sassy Shoes includes kooky stepsisters, a scooter-riding princess, and, of course, silly shoe snafus! The magic of friendship blossoms when respect and kindness are remembered. We invite everyone to come dressed in costume, dance with us at the ball, and share jokes with Cinderella!

Open Houses in Andover and North Andover.  Check out the weekend's open houses at www.andover-topbroker.com!

Fall Cleaning Tips

Well, we are officially well into Fall and for many people, that means Fall Cleaning time!  Here are some tips on fall cleaning and preparation projects.

 

Clean and Reverse Fans. Ceiling fans are increasingly popular here in the northeast, and they can be used year round to keep your home more comfortable.  Your ceiling fans have been hard at work all summer so they may have gathered more dust than you realize. With the fans off, clean the sides, tops and bottoms of the blades. You can get a special fan cleaning tool or use a Swiffer or regular dust cloth (be careful on the ladder!) to clean the blades and motor case.  Reverse your fans so the blades send air upward to disrupt the warm air that collects near the ceiling and disperse it downward. This is particularly effective in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings and rooms with stoves or fireplaces.

Clean Window Treatments. We often forget that window treatments ae also dust collectors! Don't ruin your investment by not cleaning them. Use a cordless hand-held vacuum to remove dust from heavier, permanently mounted hanging window treatments such as valances and swags. If you have lighter and removable hanging curtains, take them down and wash them in the gentle cycle or take them to the dry cleaner. While they're down, clean your windows and sills thoroughly.  Of course, you might want to clean your windows at the same time - or hire someone to do that unpopular task!

Vacuum and Clean Furniture. Vacuum your upholstered furniture, and spot-clean the big stains as needed. (Always test an inconspicuous area of your couch before applying any cleaning agent to a main area.)  If you have removable cusion covers, wash or dry clean them as indicated by the manufacturer.  You can also hire a professional upholstery cleaning commpany to ome and steam or otherwise clean the furniture.  It's amazing how different your furniture will look and feel after being cleaned.  You (and your pets) may not recognize it!

Clean Carpeting and Area Rugs. While shoes may track in dirt and salt during the winter, it's a good idea to clean rugs and carpeting now. Get rid of summer dirt and sand by beating smaller rugs - or washing if they're small and can withstand the machine - and steam cleaning the others.  You can rent a steam cleaner or call in a professional. And once your rugs are all clean, maybe people will take their dirty shoes off before they step on them! 

Seal the Air Leaks. Check your windows (you've got the curtains down, now's a perfect time) and doors for damaged weather stripping and cracked caulking, and make repairs as needed.  If you haven't had MassSave come to your house, this is a great time to do it and get some free products and labor! 

Check Your Snowblower! Take a few inutes to fire up the snow blower to be sure it's in working order before that first snow storm hits! If you store a car or motorcycle for the winter months, be sure you have a trickle charger to save your battery from draining while the vehicle is just sitting.  

Stock up on plastic covers and tote bins! Don't just stash your lawn furniture under the deck - or leave it out to suffer from the elements.  You can purchase covers to fit your furniture and lawn equipment, but you can also save money by buying heavy plastic by the contractor roll or getting tarps and cutting to fit.  Toss the cushions and pillows into large plastic bins; try the local dollar stores and the big-box home improvement stores for sales.  Plus, it will make you feel good to have everything stored away in good order. 

Make a Trip to th Dry Cleaner or Your Favorite Charity. Now is a good time to "swap out" your clothing and bedding.  Make good use of your washer and dryer or take things to the dry cleaner (or use a pick up service like Zoots or Anton's).  Clean your spring and summer items and store them away (think about those plastic bins again), or bring them to your favorite charitable organization or drop box.  Then get those sweaters and mittens and hats out. It won't be long now before you'll need them!

Things to Address Before an Older Relative Moves Into Your Home

It is becoming increasingly common in the US, as people live longer, for aging parents to move in with their baby boomer-aged children.  It's important to have  your home properly prepared before they move in so everyone can be assured of their safety.  But where do you start?  Start with these basic projects.

Bathroom:

- Have a carpenter install safety rails in the tub and add a grab bar.  You can give the grab bar double duty by also using it as a towel rack. This will allow your loved one to avoid using the actual towel rack or toilet paper holder as a means of steadying herself as she moves around the bathroom. Since these racks aren't made to be weight bearing, they can give way under pressure, rip out of the wall and cause drywall damage.  Not to mention the resulting bruises and breaks that can happen to your parent when this happens.

- Add a rubber bathmat or peel and stick non-slip strips to the bathtub or shower to prevents slips while bathing

- Consider purchasing a shower chair to make bathing easier. It's often difficult for the elderly to stand in the shower or lower themselves into the tub, even with safety rails in place. Be sure it's a sturdy chair made for use in the shower, not just a plastic chair you use for barbecues!

Furniture:

- Remove throw and area rugs. The edges of the rugs can be trip hazards, as can any bumps or wrinkles in the rugs. This goes not only for living, dining and bedrooms, but also for bathrooms and kitchen. A trip on a rug in the kitchen or bathroom is especially dangerous as there can be water that would further impact a fall - and tile floors that are harder when hit than when falling on carpet or wood floors.

- Rearrange furniture so your parent doesn’t have to walk around any pieces as he goes through the rooms in your home. More direct routes mean less chance of falling or bumping into something.  

- Coil or tape any cords or wires to the wall, or have additional outlets installed so there aren't any wires to trip over. 

Lighting:

- Increase lighting in stairways, hallways and at your home’s entrances, including the doorway from the garage into your house. It is important to be able to see the edge of each stair tread.  There are some great new lighting products that are specifically made for bedroom, bathroom and hallway lighting at night, including lights that are motion activated when someone gets out of bed or a chair.

Exterior:

Add a second railing to stairways, so you have railings on both sides. This is important for any interior stairways as well! Be sure the railing isn't too wide or flat to grab; to be effective your parent must be able to wrap his hand around the railing. 

- Check the condition of your sidewalks and other exterior hardscaping. Are there uneven places, loose pavers, wobbly bricks or flagstones or anything else that could trip up someone who doesn’t lift his feet high when walking?  Even out any pathways and patios to make walking on them easier.

Everyone's needs are different, of course.  When thinking about making modifications to your home, give some thought to long term needs and goals, and how you can make life easier and happier for everyone, both now and in the future.  

The Three W's for the Weekend - What, When, Where!

IT'S SHAPING UP TO BE A NICE FALL WEEKEND! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WEATHER AND HEAD ON OUT TO HAVE SOME FUN!

Fall Festival on the Common, North Andover on Saturday from 10-4  

The annual tradition continues with fun for the family! Local food and craft vendors, live performances, pony rides, face painting, pumpkin decorating, sand art and all the things your kids love to do and that bring back childhood memories for you! http://www.northandoverhousevalues.com/blog/fall-festival-north-andover-common-2017/ 

Dueling Pianos, Friday at the Amvets Club in Haverhill, 7:30 pm

Sponsored by the Haverhill Exchange Club.  You'll feel like you're in a Chicago club at this event, with light refreshments available.  The event raises funds for the Child Abuse Awareness Fund. http://www.haverhillexchangeclub.com/

33rd Annual Boston Film Festival, AMC Loews Boston Common

See world premier films, documentaries and Q&As with Hollywood directors, producers, writers and actors.  See the full schedule http://www.bostonfilmfestival.org/

Phantom of the Opera, Boston Opera House through October 1

One of the most loved musicals has returned to Boston! And how fitting that it is being performed at the gorgeous Boston Opera House! https://www.bostonoperahouse.com/upcoming-events/

13th Annual Portsmouth Fairy House Tour, Saturday & Sunday at 11 am

Who can resist these magical little fantasy homes! Over 200 fairy houses will be on display on the grounds of the beautiful Strawberry Banke. There will also be performances by the Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater and the New Hampshire Theatre Project Youth Repertory Company, as well as book signings by author Tracy Kane. www.portsmouthfairyhousetour.com

Punto Urban Art Museum Walking Tour, Salem, MA. Saturday from 1-2 pm and Sunday from 10-11 am

Family fun, pet friendly! Check out over 25 large-scale indoor and outdoor murals in Salem's Point Neighborhood, created by 12 artists.http://essexheritage.org/ts/event/punto-urban-art-museum-official-tour

Zero Waste Day, Wynn Middle School, Tewksbury from 9 am - 1 pm

Take advantage of the opportunity to clean out the stuff that's been hanging around in your closets, garage, attic and basement! You can bring clothing, household goods and decorative items, tires (off rims), TVs and more. http://zwdtewksbury.org/#bring

Museum Day Live - throughout the US! FREE on Saturday!

Here in Massachusetts, from Amherst to Worcester, take a look at all the options! Who knew we have so many museums so close by, and so varied. Or if you're on the road, check out what's around wherever you are. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-day-live-2017/

Andover Historical Society & Andover Farmer's Market, Saturday

While you're picking up local produce and products, check out the exhibits at the Andover Historical Society.  The Farmer's Market is open from 10-2 and the AHS is open 10-4, so you'll have plenty of time to hit both!

Country Music Festival at the Amesbury Sports Park, Saturday at noon & Sunday at 11 am

It's more than just seeing national and regional musicians like The Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt and The Steel Drivers, it's also a time to enjoy a wide variety of gourmet food and specialized craft vendors! 

Open House Event in Andover, Sunday  

Take a look at the houses you've been dying to see, and the one you want to make you own! See www.andover-topbroker.com for addresses and times!

 

 

How to Create a Photo Inventory of Your Possessions

The Importance of an Inventory  
 
It's always a good idea to have an inventory of your possessions, but the need has been highlighted by the damage caused by the recent hurricanes.  Creating a photo inventory is a great way to document your possessions so you know what you lost if you ever have to file an insurance claim. 
  
 
Photographing Items
  
Be systematic. Start with the top floor and work your way downward to the basement (if you have one). Start in one corner or quadrant of a space and then move clockwise, standing in different parts of the room so you can take several photos.  Once you're finished with a room, tackle the individual items in it.  As you work, preview the images to ensure you got the whole item, good exposure and sharpness. You'll need to really be able to see the items if you have to file a claim.
 
Take multiple photos of objects to capture the backside, inside, details, brand or model name, serial numbers, etc. If you have receipts for items, take a photo of them to keep in the file as well. Don't forget to check in cabinets, closets, drawers and attic for items that aren't in plain sight!
 
When photographing rare or valuable items such as antiques, paintings, silverware, jewelry or fine china be sure to:
  • Create a background by placing a white bed sheet over a table and then placing the object on it
  • Fill the camera's viewfinder or LCD display with your subject
  • Shoot at your camera's closest focusing distance 
  • Use the macro setting if you camera has it
  • Be sure there are no shadows on the object or the photo
  • For decorative items, such as china, take a close-up of the pattern or trademark
 
Exterior Photos
 
While the exterior of your home may not seem like a "possession" it is important to be able to show the before and after condition of your home and yard if you need to file a claim. Take pictures of your home's exterior, including your roof, siding and porches. Next, add photos of landscaping and hardscaping features like decks, patios, fences, gazebos, sheds, barns and expensive or exotic plants. Note the size and materials used to build each exterior feature. When the time comes to file that claim, you want to be sure any repairs, replacements or rebuilds are done with like-kind/quality materials.
 
 
 
 
Save A Backup
 
Create a file naming system so you can group items by room.  As you work, print out a running copy of your inventory list.  It will take some additional time, but add a thumbnail size photo beside each item name.  Once you're finished, save a master copy of your written list on a flash drive and put it and a full set of photos in a location other than your home. A bank safe deposit box or a relative's home that's not nearby are good options. 
In  addition to creating an electronic file and backing it up in the cloud, you might want to make a hardcopy as well. If you are forced to evacuate you can bring the hardcopy with you.
 
Finally, don't forget to periodically update your photos and files as you add or delete items.  It would be bad enough to lose that precious painting you just purchased - you don't want to lose out on the insurance money, too!
 
 

To Pay Off or Not to Pay Off

Should you pay off your mortgage early?  While this is always a  personal decision based on your individual needs, wants and beliefs, here are some general pros and cons of paying the loan off early.  

Factor #1: Your Mortgage Rate

If you have a 30-year mortgage with a low fixed rate, financial advisers usually say it's best to stretch out your payments for as long as possible. With this kind of mortgage, you shouldn't even consider prepaying unless all your other debts are paid off and you have enough money to put in other investments as well.

Factor #2: Credit Card Debt

If you are carrying any credit card debt, the thought of prepaying your mortgage shouldn't even cross your mind. Because credit card debt typically carries a high interest rate, pay it off before anything else.

Factor #3: Investments

When your employer matches your 401(k) retirement contributions, that's like getting a 100 percent return (doubling) your money right now. Plus, that doubled money continues to grow (you hope) until you retire. Compare that to what you'll save with your early payments on your mortgage.

Factor #4: Savings

Having enough savings to pay your household bills for six months or more makes it easier for you to survive a financial crisis. It’s better to put your extra cash into savings instead of prepaying your mortgage until you have that financial cushion built.

 

 

The Importance of Credit Scores When Applying for a Mortgage

Credit reports and credit scores are a fact of life. Lenders use your scores to decide whether you’ll likely be able and willing to pay back a mortgage, whether to give you a credit card and how much you’ll pay in interest for most forms of credit. Many credit card and car loan companies are now providing free monthly credit scores to borrowers.  These scores don't tell the whole credit story, but they can give you an idea of how strong your credit is before you apply for a mortgage.  To get a real look at your credit worthiness, a lender will obtain a credit report, which will go back many years, depending on your age and how long you've had any credit lines.  

There are ways to improve your credit score, some easier than others.  Speak with a mortgage or credit specialist who can provide you with information on various ways to improve your credit, both in the long and the short term.  If you want to correct an error on your credit report, you can do that at no cost. You'll need to contact the credit bureau(s) directly and provide the information they request in order to fix the error.  There are three major credit bureaus, each of which may have a slightly different credit score, but in general, the scores should be within a few points of each other.  The credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

Here's a look at some myths and facts regarding your credit score.

Myth: If you experience credit problems, your credit score will not improve for seven years.
Fact: You can make a significant difference in your credit score by changing your ways and paying bills on time. That's because lenders place more significance on the most recent entries on your credit report rather than the old ones.

Myth: If you pay off your debts, the record of your bad debt will disappear.
Fact: Bad debts, charge-offs and late payments can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. That's why if there were extenuating circumstances to explain your trouble paying on time, you should send the credit bureaus a letter about your situation.

Myth: If you catch up on your late payments, they’ll be wiped off your credit report. 

Fact: Your credit report must reflect that you caught up, but it will also show that you were late.

Myth: If you have a high credit score, one late payment won't hurt.
Fact: Unfortunately, this is a case of one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch. The first time you are delinquent, you can lower your score by as much as 100 points. The later the payment, the more it will hurt your score.

Myth: If you check your credit report too many times, you'll be penalized.
Fact: People can check their credit report as many times as they want without hurting their credit rating. In fact, credit bureaus encourage you to keep a watchful eye on your credit report so you can spot any mistakes.

Myth: If you close as many credit cards as possible before applying for a loan, you stand a better chance of being accepted.
Fact: Having open credit cards doesn't hurt your credit score. If they are in good standing, they may even help your case. A credit card only hurts your chances when it's maxed out. Try to keep your use to no more than 25 percent to 30 percent of your total credit line.

Keep in mind that there are several companies that will periodically provide free or low cost credit reports.  With so much information available online, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit report.  If you see anything that looks suspicious, contact the credit bureaus immediately to get to the root of the errors and have them corrected as soon as possible.

What the Heck is PMI?

What is PMI?   

PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, is required by private lenders as well as government backed loans, when borrowers put down less than 20% of the purchase price when buying a home. It basically protects the lender if a borrower stops making payments on the mortgage loan. 

How is PMI Calculated?

Good question.  PMI calculations can be very confusing! It is also important to know how much it will cost to add the PMI before you make an offer on a home.  The PMI can make the difference between being able to afford a home or not.  PMI is calculated per a table that assigns a PMI factor and depends on several factors, including:

  • Term of mortgage—The length of mortgage terms, which could be anywhere from 10 to 40 years
  • Financial status—Credit worthiness/Credit score
  • Down payment—The amount of money put down during the closing of a loan

For instance, for a $300,000 purchase with a 5% down payment (loan amount of $285,000) and assuming a 740 credit score for the purchase on a primary residence single family home, the PMI factor would be 0.62%.

Calculation: $285,000 x 0.62% = $1,767 annual cost / 12 = $147.25 monthly premium 

To see how rates are assigned, see the rate chart PMI Rate Chart bit.ly/2wBGF09

  1. monthly premium is the most common form of PMI payment offered by lenders. This option takes the PMI payment and adds it to a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment. Your mortgage payment amount is the same each month and includes the PMI as part of the payment.
  2. An upfront premium is a one-time premium paid at closing. This payment option is most common for conventional financing options (5% to 19% down payment).
  3. An upfront and monthly premium is a combination of both types of payment options. This type of payment option is typically required of borrowers using a government insured mortgage product, like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

There are only three ways to avoid PMI:

  • Make a down payment of 20% or more
  • Apply for a VA loan (if eligible). A VA loan however only avoids the monthly mortgage insurance payment. Unless the borrower is a disabled veteran, he still has to pay the upfront premium. But the burden of the monthly PMI premium is removed.
  • Lender paid PMI. The lender charges a higher interest rate, but pays the PMI upfront for the borrower.

How to Remove PMI

Getting rid of PMI is pretty simple, but you need to take care of it yourself and not rely on the lender to do it for you. You need to pay down the loan’s principal balance to 80% (or less) of the home’s original appraised value, or to 80% of the home’s current market value. All this means is that a borrower must show they have at least 20% equity in the property. Once you do this you need to contact your borrower and ask to have the PMI canceled.  You will need to provide documentation that the loan is paid up to date and ask for (and pay for) and updated appraisal.  Although lenders are genearally required to eliminate the PMI when your mortgage balance drops below 78% of the homes original appraised value, make sure you stay on top of the situation!  Using the example above, once you have paid your mortgage down to $240,000 you are eligible to have the PMI removed and save $147.25 per month!

If you have an FHA loan you may be required to refinance into a conventional loan in order to remove the PMI.  Always check with your lender to be sure you have the correct rates and information before making an offer on a property!

 

 

 

Is It Better to Set the A/C Fan to Auto or On? And Other Energy Saving Tips.

Staying cool can be difficult during uncomfortable summer spikes in temperature and days-long heatwaves. Does keeping the A/C fan set to ON all the time save more energy than keeping the A/C fan set to AUTO?  That's a question that is debated in many households!

The on/auto fan switch on your A/C thermostat will affect the price you pay to cool your home. That’s because the A/C fan circulates the cool or warm air throughout your home. Switching the fan to “on” will make the A/C fan run continuously – all day long. If you choose the “auto” setting, this will allow the fan to shut off with the rest of the cooling system as soon as your desired indoor temperature is reached.

Fan “on” costs more

Unless you have a variable speed motor, that small fan in your furnace can cost a lot to run 24/7. Let’s assume your air conditioner normally cycles off 30 percent of the time. In this example, turning the fan switch to “on” will make the fan run over 200 extra hours a month. For a typical size central air conditioner, that could cost you about $8 more each month. Some people prefer the feel or sound of the fan running all the time. If that’s you, at least now you know how much that choice will cost you. Keep in mind, a fan that runs all the time may wear out sooner.  So that $8 a month can turn into a lot more in the long run.

Another reason to keep it on “auto”

The primary advantage of the “auto” setting is that it uses less energy because it keeps the fan running the least amount of time. Setting your A/C fan to “auto” also helps provide better dehumidification. Have you noticed how moisture from the air condenses on the outside of a cold drink on a humid day? Your A/C unit captures moisture the same way, helping your home feel more comfortable. When the fan cycles off using the “auto” mode, moisture has a chance to drip from the cold cooling coils into the condensation pan and then drain outside. However, when the fan runs all the time in the “on” setting, less moisture has a chance to drip and drain outside.

Tips for Keeping Cool

According to fan manufacturer Lasko, an average homeowner spends nearly $2,000 annually on energy bills, with 25 percent of that consumed by air conditioning. By simply turning the A/C thermostat up, and adding fans to any space, you can still stay comfortably cool while saving money.  

You can keep cool air moving by strategically placing a fan with a head that tilts fully back—like an 18-inch pedestal or “tornado” model—to create ongoing airflow throughout multiple rooms.  Also consider ceiling fans to keep air circulating in your home.

Turning the thermostat up by a few degrees and add one or more fans for up to 10 percent home energy savings without sacrificing comfort. Consider a portable, lightweight fan that can go from room to the room with ease.  Can't bear the thought of raising the temp in your house? Try inching it up just one or two degrees a day. And if you're away from home for hours every day, consider a programmable thermostat or one that you can control from your phone or computer. That way you can lower the temperature on your way home without wasting energy to cool the house while you're away.

If you work out at home, save more with a small fan in your workout area to keep your body temp in check. An oscillating high-velocity fan is a perfect workout partner.  You can even get one with a remote, so you don't have to interrupt your workout routine to adjust the fan speed!

Finally, check with your utility provider. Some offer a discount or rebate if you use less energy, especially during peak hours. 

Do Open Houses Work?

This is a common question - do open houses work?  And who really benefits from them?  Like most things in life, there are pros and cons.  Let's take a look at them.

 

The Pros:

Those in favor of open houses, raise your hand!  

- A lot of buyers are waiting in the wings and will want to see your house as soon as it's listed. It can be annoying and nerve-wracking to get a ton of calls to schedule - and reschedule - appointments and keep the house in top shape 24 hours a day. It's not always easy to vacate the premises, especially on short notice, but you don't want to turn down a showing request unless you absolutely must.  It's a better use of your time to make plans to head out for a day or two the first weekend the house is on the market, and let your agent do an open house or two. This will allow a number of people to view the house in a somewhat leisurely fashion, ask your agent questions, and decide if they really are interested in the house.  Often people aren't really interested, but are curious neighbors or "tire kickers" who aren't ready to buy or who just like to go to open houses!  Let these people come in with the group of serious, potential buyers instead of wasting your time and energy on private showings.

- An open house, particularly in a fast moving market like we're experiencing now, can create a sense of scarcity and urgency.  Buyers will see all the other potential buyers crowding into an open house and will feel thta they must make an offer.  It's obvious, isn't it, that if all these other people are looking, it must be a great value?  This is known as the auction effect, and it can be very beneficial to a seller.

- Open houses are a great way to collect a lot of great feedback from a variety of sources.  Feedback from buyers directly is important, as is professional feedback from other agents.  While everyone has their own tastes and opinions, if you hear the same feedback over and over again, you need to take it to heart.  Address those items and issues, as they are likely the very things that will prevent you from getting an offer - or at least prevent a serious offer from coming in. 

- Unique properties can benefit from open houses if their special features can't easily be seen or appreciated in photos and writeups. Sometimes you just have to get up close and personal to fall in love with a house! 

The Cons:

A study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the success rate of open houses is a mere 2% to 4%. Similar studies in other countries have mirrored these results. 

- Some agents and sellers consider an open house a waste of everyone's time, particularly if you use the NAR findings above. With the easy, instant availability of listing information online many people don't feel the need to rush out to an open house.  They can peruse photos and other information at their leisure, at any time of day or night.  If the photos pique their interest, they'll make an appointment to see the property at a conveninet time.

- Some agents are nervous about their personal safety, no matter what type of neighborhood the property is located in. Stories on the news about Realtors being abducted or assaulted have led to increased concern for safety, and caution should always rule. Sellers are sometimes concerned about the personal belongings, and just don't like the idea of strangers roaming through their house.  Just having that "For Sale" sign outside your home can feel invasive, so if you're not happy with the idea of a group of people coming through your home, let your agent know.

- Many sellers believe that an open house is used by their Realtor as just a way to find new clients.  But while an agent may meet buyers who don't want to purchase your home, it doesn't mean that a buyer who will love your home won't come to the open house. In addition, everyone who does come to the open house knows other people who may be in the market for a house just like yours.

 In the end, talk to your agent, who will be able to give you advice on a total marketing plan - with or without open houses!