Blog. Valuable Tips and Advice

Just Listed! 20 Crestbrook Dr, Cartersville

Adorable 3BR/2BA Ranch on a level lot

Immaculately maintained inside and out. Vaulted great room ceiling, efficient all-electric kitchen, and a gorgeous sunroom with stone-front fireplace with gas logs. This home features a split bedroom floor plan that offers privacy, new low maintenance flooring in main living area, sunroom blinds thru-out, and ceiling fans in most rooms. Welcome your guest on this lovely front porch or entertain on the rear patio. Outbuilding for storage, newer roof & gutter guards, too! Don't miss out on this beauty!

Christine Topham
RE/MAX Unlimited

Doing More from For Sale to SOLD! That’s the sign of a RE/MAX agent!

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Five Ways to Make Your Home Feel Cozier for Winter

Winter is here and with that will come cold days that make you want to stay inside to escape the bitter temperatures. It isn’t possible to stay inside all the time, but when you do, these five tips will help you feel cozy even on the dreariest days.

1. Use your fireplace. If your home doesn’t have a fireplace, consider adding a standalone variety with a built-in electric heater in the room you use most. A space heater can add warmth where you need it and allow you to keep your thermostat lower than you normally would saving you money while adding a pretty fire to sit by in your home. The advantage of a space heater is that you only run it when you are in that room so it isn’t running all of the time.

2. Add blankets to the couch, chairs, and beds in your home. Nothing feels better than wrapping up in a warm blanket on a cold day. Consider purchasing slippers for the members of your family as well if you don’t have them already. If you don’t wear shoes when you are at home, slippers or socks will keep your feet warm especially if you have hardwoods or tile in parts of your home.

3. If most of your home isn’t carpeted, consider adding extra rugs for winter. Nothing is worse than cold tile on your feet during an overnight bathroom trip. Adding rugs to frequently used parts of your home can make your home much cozier during the cooler months.

4. Open the blinds and curtains during daylight hours. While there are fewer hours of sunlight each day, let the sun you can into your home. The sun will add a lot of warmth and natural light and a much better atmosphere compared to artificial lighting.

5. Fill the crockpot with ingredients for a warm stew or let a pot of soup simmer on the stove all afternoon. Not only will you have a hearty dinner at the end of the day, but you will also enjoy the aroma of the food as it cooks throughout the day.

Winter can be dreary, but it doesn’t have to feel that way inside your home. A little effort on your part will make your home a cozy place to be all winter long.

Christine Topham
RE/MAX Unlimited

Doing More from For Sale to SOLD! That’s the sign of a RE/MAX agent!

Let’s Connect, Socially!

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Paying for Your Home Without a Traditional Mortgage

If you are planning to buy a home, finding a mortgage will be one of the biggest parts of the home buying process. Most buyers will select a traditional mortgage with a 15 or 30-year term and a fixed interest rate for the life of the mortgage but there are other options if you are looking for something that may be more beneficial to your specific situation. Two options you may want to consider depending on your situation and the type of property you are buying is a 1031 exchange and a FHA 203K mortgage.

An FHA 203K loan is a government backed loan that allows you to include both the initial purchase price of the home as well as any renovation costs. You have one loan and one closing rather than a series of micro loans and one big loan.

As with other FHA loans, you are required to put down at least 3.5 percent of the total value of the loan. Other FHA requirements are also in effect. You will need a credit score of 620 or higher, a maximum debt-to-income between 41 and 45 percent and the full loan amount cannot exceed the maximum FHA loan value cap for your area.

In addition to the typical paperwork that goes along with an FHA loan, you will be required to provide a detailed proposal covering the improvements you plan to make to your new home, a thorough cost estimate and a timeline for when those improvements will be completed.

Before the lender agrees to finance your purchase and proposed renovations, an appraiser will value the home as it is and give an estimate of the market value of the home after your proposed improvements are complete.

FHA 203K loans require the homeowner to begin repairs within 30 days of closing and all repairs to be completed within six months of closing. All forms of repair and rehabilitation are allowed with an FHA 203K loan with the exception of luxury items like saunas, swimming pools and other luxury additions.

While an FHA 203K loan can be a simple way to purchase a home that needs some work, there are some other things to consider. You will be required to stick to your proposed schedule and cost estimate. There will also be regular inspections of the work site. You will also be required to pay mortgage insurance for a minimum of 11 years, increasing the cost of your loan significantly and the interest rate will also be higher than a traditional FHA loan. Closing an FHA 203K loan takes longer and is more expensive than a traditional FHA loan. There is additional paperwork involved and an additional processing fee of $350 or 1.5% of the rehab costs, whichever is higher.

With a 1031 exchange, you will sell a property that you already own and reinvest the proceeds immediately in another property while deferring all capital gains taxes that are currently owed. By immediately reinvesting your home equity in another property with a 1031-exchange, you can increase your down payment and your overall buying power. Depending on your current situation, you may be able to exchange one large property for multiple smaller properties or several properties into one larger purchase. While a 1031-exchange is not something you should handle on your own, it can offer some unique benefits if you have significant equity in a property. Take the time to talk to an expert on 1031-exchanges about your overall investment strategy if this is something you are considering.

While both of these options will require some additional time and paperwork to be executed properly, the benefits can be worth the added time and effort depending on your situation. Feel free to contact me for an appointment today and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you find a loan expert to help with your situation and help you find your next dream home.

Christine Topham
RE/MAX Unlimited

Doing More from For Sale to SOLD! That’s the sign of a RE/MAX agent!

Let’s Connect, Socially!

Photo courtesy of clker-free-vector-images/

Get Your Home on the Market before the Spring Rush

As we start the new year, there is always an increase in the number of home sellers that want to put their homes on the market for the Spring season. While buyer interest does often pick up at this time of year, the number of homes on the market is so high your home may not receive the attention it deserves due to the increase in competition. If you too want to sell your home in the coming months, it would be a good idea to beat the rush and get your home on the market as soon as possible. Here are ten things to do NOW so you can get your home listed in the next 30 days.

1. Take down all of your interior and exterior holiday decorations. Nothing will distract buyers more than Christmas decorations in February.

2. Pack up excess belongings in your home whether it is furniture, out of season clothing or anything else. A clutter-free home will show much better than one with furnishings filling every available space.

3. Eliminate all the dead and drab from your yard. Leaves, limbs and other debris that are laying around your yard need to be cleared out.

4. Add some color to the outside for curb appeal. With many things not growing this time of year, even a small pop of color will help your home stand out.

5. Take the time daily to open blinds and curtains before you leave for the day. Some showings won’t provide much notice so you may not have time to make last minute preparations so adding this to your morning routine will make sure your home is ready no matter where you are.

6. Eliminate signs of your pets as much as you can. If you normally leave pet bowls and beds sitting out all the time, find a place to store them when they aren’t being used, so they aren’t so obvious during showings.

7. Purchase new towels for the kitchen and baths to display on the towel racks or countertops (and don’t use them.)

8. Don’t prepare foods with smells that linger. It can be hard to smell your home when you live in it all the time, but visitors will notice odors right away. Try not to cook bacon, garlic, fish and other items with strong smells.

9. Add a fresh centerpiece to your dining room table.

10. Call your trusted real estate agent and discuss what else you should be doing to prepare your home for the market and begin discussions about price and other contract details you will need to finalize.

These are all simple things you can handle in a day but will pay off greatly when your home is on the market to help it stand out from the crowd.

Christine Topham
RE/MAX Unlimited

Doing More from For Sale to SOLD! That’s the sign of a RE/MAX agent!

Let’s Connect, Socially!

Image courtesy of ErikaWittlieb/

Decrease your Utility Costs this Winter

As we enter the coldest part of the winter, utility bills will start to increase as your heat is running more to keep you comfortable in your home. There are many things you can do to save on your utility bills without sacrificing too much comfort. Here are some great tips to keep you warm and your utility bills low. Here are some tips to keep your costs down.  

  • Open your shades and curtains during the warmer parts of the day to allow sunlight inside to warm up your home.
  • Use ceiling fans to help circulate the warm air throughout your home and push it into the lower parts of your rooms from since heat naturally rises. Fans should turn clockwise in the winter on the lowest setting.
  • Modern electronics draw energy even when turned off. Keep devices, small appliances, and chargers unplugged when they are not being used.
  • Energy efficient light bulbs will use less energy and last longer.
  • Set your heat about five degrees cooler than normal and wear a sweater or use a blanket when you are at home. Drop the thermostat by another five degrees when you are away from home. A programmable thermostat will make this easy, or you can adjust manually.
  • Line dry your laundry if possible, and use the cold water cycle when washing. When using the dryer, make sure it is full, and the lint trap has been cleaned with each use so it will work more efficiently.
  • Take shorter showers if possible. It costs a lot of money to heat the water you use during the winter.
  • Washing dishes by hand uses more water than a dishwasher. Use the dishwasher whenever you can but only with full loads, and allow the dishes to air dry for further savings.
  • Microwaves typically use a third of the energy that the stove will use to cook the same food. This can add up over a month.
  • When you use the oven, open the door when you are finished cooking with the oven and allow the heat to escape into your home. Be careful when doing this if you have small children.
  • Keep the refrigerator full. More cold items mean your fridge doesn’t need to work as hard after the door is opened and it begins to warm up.
  • Switch out your cool cotton sheets for flannel or a knit variety to keep you warmer at night.
  • Add a blanket under your comforter or bedspread for greater warmth.
  • Keep your filters clean and change them regularly per the manufacturer’s recommendations for greatest efficiency.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and baths only as needed during the winter. They eliminate the warmest air from your home.

A little effort on your part can make a big difference in your electric bill so take the time to make these adjustments, and you should see a difference when your bills arrive.

Christine Topham
RE/MAX Unlimited

Doing More from For Sale to SOLD! That’s the sign of a RE/MAX agent!

Let’s Connect, Socially!

Image courtesy of kirkandmimi/

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TEAM CHRISTINE  | Associates of RE/MAX Unlimited  | Main Office: 770.386.0076  |  

RE/MAX Unlimited 5205 Stilesboro Road #110 Kennesaw, GA 30152 | 770.419.1986