Digital Spring Cleaning Tips

news mediaSpring has sprung in Raleigh, NC and it is time to clean and de-clutter our Triangle homes. One cluttered area that we often overlook, is our digital home. Our digital lives need to be de-cluttered and managed as much as our personal homes in order to stay organized and efficient! Taking time to clean and care for our digital devices can also prolong life saving you time and money in the end. Here are some great tips on organizing your computers, mobile devices and online activities!

Email

  • Create organized folders for the main aspects of your life or business. Create subfolders within these to stay organized and to make searching easy. Don’t let them fill up your inbox! Seeing that you have 2000 emails in your inbox (regardless if they are read or not)  is a negative psychological weight that can be prevented.
  • Delete your junk mail every day!

Social Media

  • Facebook: Delete any junk on your newsfeed. Review your privacy settings and review your photos. Perhaps the college photos are not so funny after 5 years!
  • Pinterest: Organize your boards and delete any you do not use.
  • Instagram: Delete anyone who clogs your feed! Update your profile
  • Twitter: Clean up your “follow” list and update any profile information.
  • LinkedIn: Update profile information, awards, promotions, experience. Take a few moments to endorse your peers as well.

Web Browser

  • Organize your bookmarks. Look through your links and determine which ones you will visit again. Another great tool to keep tabs of a website you might want to visit again is Pinterest. Create a new board labeled Sites of Interest and pin the pages to it. You are not clogging up your favorites bar and you are storing the pins in a handy, visual place!
  • Clear your history, cookies and any old temporary files that might be slowing your system down. Find directions here.

Documents

  • Start by deleting documents, photos etc. on your desktop. We get so busy with the task at hand it is easy to keep things on our desktops that we will eventually forget.
  • Go into your documents drive and create folders to save any loose documents in. Trash the documents you will never look at again! When finished, be sure to empty your digital recycle bin.

Digital Photos

  • We often rely on online sites like Facebook, Snapfish, Shutterfly and Tumbler to hold our lives’ memories. These companies are just as prone to security breaches as anyone else. Upload your photos to cloud based programs like Trovebox or Dropbox. Back them up periodically on an external hard drive to be extra safe.

Programs

  • Delete the programs you no longer need or use. They are only taking up precious computer real estate and oftentimes update without you knowing it resulting in more taken space! Find directions here.

Passwords

  • Update your passwords regularly to protect your privacy and avoid identity theft. Review sites security and privacy policies frequently to stay up to date on changes ie) Facebook. Try to avoid using the same password for every site.

Hardware, Tablets and Phones

  • Take the time to disinfect and clean your phones, tablets, keyboards etc. Use device friendly cleaner you can buy at the store.
  • Use a can of compressed air to get crumbs and dirt out of your keyboard, mouse and CPU.
  • It is possible to clean the inside of your computer but if you are not experienced with this we recommend a local professional.

Visit LindaCraft.com for a list of local, home care providers that we have had wonderful experiences with!  Don’t forget to check out Facebook page throughout the month of March for Spring Cleaning giveaways! We will also have our annual Spring Cleaning Shred Party on Saturday, March 29 from 10-2. Clear out your file cabinets and bring your boxes of paper to be shredded right before your eyes!

For your home buying and home selling needs, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS is your Triangle area expert. Call us today for a free consultation.

 

 

Sidewalk Sale for Charity in North Raleigh This Weekend!

donation boxAre you looking for something to do this coming Saturday, March 15? Look no further! There is a wonderful sidewalk sale happening in North Raleigh that is for a great cause. Note in The Pocket is a non-profit organization that provides clothing to children in need who have been identified by various schools and social service agencies. They are oftentimes impoverished or homeless and need clothing to wear to school. Note in the Pocket accepts clothing donations all year long. The Sidewalk Sale is Saturday, March 15 from 8-2! They are selling overstock, off-season, and non-school appropriate clothing for $1.00 to $2.00! We hope to see you there!

 

 

Your Home May Be Worth More Than You Think

Happy RealtorYou probably wouldn’t have believed it a year ago, but today may very well be a great time to sell your home!

Prices have gone up substantially for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that more and more people are looking to buy. Couple this with the fact that inventory in the Raleigh market is low, and it becomes a simple supply and demand equation with the result being that homeowners are in the driver’s seat!

We have an online report that will provide a snapshot of your homes value and what surrounding homes have sold for. Simply visit www.LindaCraft.com/marketsnapshot. We believe you’ll be surprised when you read it!

 

 

Not So Ordinary Spring Cleaning Tips

KeechClean_FacebookAdFor the whole month of March, Linda Craft & Team will be featuring Spring Cleaning tips. This is part of our month long “Clean with the Team” extravaganza! All month long we will have cleaning service giveaways on Facebook and to top things off, our annual Shredding Party on March 29th! Welcome Spring with a clean and organized home!

We have been searching high and low for some out of the ordinary, expert cleaning tips! Some of these may even surprise you:

  • Lampshades: use a lint roller
  • Showerhead: wrap a bag filled with vinegar and use a rubber band to hold it on for 10 minutes
  • Ceiling Fan: use an old pillowcase, wrap around blade and let the dust fall into the pillowcase
  • Sink Disposal: pour vinegar, lemon wedges and ice cubes in and run
  • Baseboards: wipe with fabric softener sheets to clean and repel future dirt and pet hair
  • Windows: use newspaper and Windex to clean without streaks
  • Aluminum blinds:  place them on an old sheet outside on a slanted surface, and scrub with water and a noncorrosive cleaner. Use a hose to rinse well, and then dry the blinds thoroughly with a towel to prevent rust.
  • Wood blinds: wipe with a few drops of gentle wood cleaner on a nearly dry sponge.
  • Refrigerator: take out shelves and soak in sink with warm water and mild dish soap. Use a toothbrush for nooks and crannies. Twice a year, vacuum or brush dust from the condenser coils to keep the system from overheating.
  • Mattress: sprinkle the top with baking soda, let sit and then vacuum. Remember to flip and rotate.
  • Bathroom Exhaust Fan: use a can of compressed air
  • Dishwasher: use lemonade Kool Aid for a wash cycle in an empty dishwasher to clean.
  • Keyboard: use hydrogen peroxide on a q-tip to disinfect.
  • Furniture: use a wet rubber dishwashing glove to wipe animal hair off.

When in doubt, use vinegar and hot water! Vinegar is a wonderful, all-natural cleaning powerhouse that has multiple uses. What are some of your cleaning tips and tricks? Please share!

For more cleaning tips and tricks for your Raleigh home, follow us on Facebook. Please join us on March 29 for our annual Shred Party from 10-2. Pull your car up, let us unload your boxes of old paperwork and watch as it is shredded securely right in front of your eyes (and from the comfort of your car)!

Please visit LindaCraft.com for all of your Raleigh home needs.

 

 

Should You Rent if You Cannot Sell?

House on dollar billsAccording to Keeping Current Matter, a recent study has concluded that 39% of buyers prefer to rent out their last residence rather than sell it when purchasing their next home.

The study cites that many homeowners were able to refinance and “locked in a very low mortgage rate in recent years. That low rate, combined with a strong rental market, means they can charge more in rent than they pay in mortgage each month, so they are going for it.”

This logic makes sense in some cases. KCM believes strongly that residential real estate is a great investment right now. However, if you have no desire to actually become an educated investor in this sector, you may be headed for more trouble than you were looking for. Are you ready to be a landlord?

Before renting your home, you should answer the following questions to make sure this is the right course of action for you and your family.

10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Renting Your Home

1.) How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).

2.) Because of the economy, many homeowners can no longer make their mortgage payment. What percent of tenants do you think can no longer afford to pay their rent?

3.) Have you interviewed a few experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?

4.) Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?

5.) Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?

6.) How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?

7.) Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs arise?

8.) Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?

9.) How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?

10.) Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?

Bottom Line

Again, renting out residential real estate historically is a great investment. However, it is not without its challenges. Make sure you have decided to rent the house because you want to be an investor, not because you are hoping to get a few extra dollars by postponing a sale.

Have more questions about the value of your Raleigh/Cary/Wake Forest and surrounding areas’ home? Still on the fence about selling it this Spring? Call Linda Craft & Team, Realtors to set up a free consultation. We will analyze your home, the homes in your area and give you a game plan for listing your home to sell! We have a team of experts that are here to help you each step of the way!

Report: National Home Buyer Enthusiasm Helped Drive Up Prices in 2013

Home buyingHome buying fervor has driven home prices to their largest annual gain since 2005, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

Evidently, home buyer interest – fueled by low mortgage rates as well as reduced inventories – helped drive prices up in 2013.

Now, experts are saying that home buyers and home sellers can expect price gains to level off in the wake of the home buying frenzy.

Key Statistics For National Home Buyers or Sellers

According to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller price index, U.S. home prices increased 11.3 percent year-over-year during the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller index that measures home prices in 20 major metropolitan areas reported that prices increased 13.4 percent during that same period of time.

And another index, which is calculated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, reported that prices increased 7.7 percent, to an eight-year high.

More News You Can Use

Here’s what else real estate analysts recently reported about the national housing market:

  • Home priced decreased 0.1 percent from November to December in the 20-city index.
  • That marked the second straight monthly decline.
  • Experts noted that the monthly declines during the fourth quarter were actually the smallest for that period in eight years.
  • Meanwhile, in January, sales of previously owned homes dropped 5.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • Home builders across the country reported increased profits in recent months. For instance, Luxury builder Toll Brothers said it saw a 21 percent year-over-year increase in its average sales price during the quarter ending in January.
  • However, the builder also reported that new contracts for homes during that same quarter decreased 6 percent year-over-year.
  • Meanwhile, all 20 cities reported annual gains last year, including Las Vegas with the largest at 25.5 percent and San Francisco following close behind with 22.6 percent.
  • Across the US, home prices have increased 21 percent after bottoming out in early 2012.
  • Home prices, which dropped 35 percent between 2006 and 2012, now are 21 percent below their previous peak.
  • Now, home prices are at the levels they were in mid-2004.

Experts say that the rising home prices are good in one sense, although they may also curb home buyer activity as homes become increasingly less affordable.

Still, in the long run, the leveling out of price gains is a good thing because it means a more stable and robust housing market.

Your National Real Estate Experts

We hope you stop by our blog again soon to get the latest information on national housing market activity.

We’re your national real estate experts and we’re here to help you make an informed decision on the market as a buyer or seller!

Raleigh Real Estate Tips : Buying a Second Home in 2014

Cabin in WoodsDo you live in the Raleigh area and are considering purchasing a second home in the mountains or the beach this year? Second home buyers in North Carolina are on the rise as the country overall is starting to “get out” more. The recession kept many people at home and the term “stay-cation” was on everyone’s mind. More and more people are traveling and as the economy strengthens, so does the desire and probability of second home buyers. The second home can be bought with low interest rates, low down payment and you can right off the interest!

Not only are vacation homes great for your families annual getaway, but they can be a source of income. Use a local property management company to assist in renting out your home when you are not utilizing it.

This all sounds great and who wouldn’t want a cabin on the slopes or a beach cottage… but where to start? Call Linda Craft and Team Realtors and we can refer you to a specialized Realtor in your desired area who will be able to give you top notch service. We have a network of select North Carolina Realtors who we trust and believe in. We only recommend area experts that will give you the same great customer service and value that we have delivered to you in your Raleigh home buying or selling experience.

Call us today at 919.235.0007 or visit LindaCraft.com for useful resources on real estate investing and secondary homes.

 

 

Why Staging is Critical to Selling Your Raleigh Home

Are you a Triangle area home owner who is considering selling your home? If so, then I have good news for you – now is a great time to sell! The housing market has had a healthy recovery over the past 2 years and home sale prices
are the highest they have been since 2006.

staged kitchenOne of the most crucial steps in selling your home is staging it properly. Staging a home is a mix of art, psychology, and marketing, and when done correctly, could earn you 5-10% more money when you sell your home. For expert staging tips and advice, please watch my video on NBC’s My Carolina Today. We are always happy to share our real estate expertise, and this video provides great information about the art of staging your home.

What is Home Staging?

  1. Staging is art: home buyers respond emotionally to what they see, therefore, staging encompasses color, space and orientation that will please the highest number of buyers.
  2. Staging is psychology: every home purchase is based on feeling. Staging enhances positive feelings to lead a home buyer to the behavior you want. Which is writing you a check!
  3. Staging is marketing: it captures home buyers’ attention and gives the property a competitive edge to win the highest price.

Two Reasons Staging is Vital to Marketing Your Home in 2014

  1. Home buyers are making a decision about what they view in person from a small photograph. Staging makes your house look bigger than it is.
  2. Home buyers have very high expectations of how a home for sale should be presented because of HGTV. Today’s first time home buyers were raised on HGTV and they have a picture in their head of how a home should look.

Home Staging is Not About Buying New Décor, It is About Editing!

  1. Edit down anything that does not create a positive emotion
  2. Edit down anything that is excess to show off space
  3. Edit your personal stuff so buyers can easily imagine themselves living in your home

We stage every home we sell and there are some things that are harder to convince the home seller than others. Many are reluctant to remove family photos and wallpaper. Homeowners also do not understand that their is a difference between decorating and staging. It is essential to de-decorate your home in order to clear the stage for potential buyer’s ideas.

By following these tips and welcoming home staging, your chances of selling your home for 5% to 10% more increase greatly!

If you are ready to sell your home, please contact us at Linda Craft & Team. We can help you stage your home for maximum return and guide you through the entire home-selling process.

5 Things Most People Don’t Know About VA Loans

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image25676558The Keeping Current Matters blog has once again shared some very useful information for our Raleigh home buyers. There are many misconceptions of VA loans (loans that are guaranteed from office of Veterans Affairs for military veterans). They have cleared the air on some common myths and questions surrounding VA loans.

“VA loans are the most misunderstood mortgage program in America. Industry professionals and consumers often receive incorrect data when they inquire about them. In fact, misconceptions about the government guaranteed home loan program are so prevalent that a recent VA survey found that approximately half of all military veterans do not understand it.

With this in mind, we would like to debunk the most common myths about VA Loans.

Myth 1: The VA loan benefit has a “one time” use.

Fact: Veterans and active duty military can use the VA loan many times. There is a limit to the borrower’s entitlement. The entitlement is the amount of loan the VA will guarantee. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may have to make a down payment. Never the less, there are no limitations on how many times a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member can get a VA loan.

Myth 2: VA home loan benefits expire if they are not used.

Fact: For eligible participants, VA mortgage benefits never expire. This myth stems from confusion over the veteran benefit for education. Typically, the Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after discharge.

Myth 3: A borrower can only have one VA loan at a time.

Fact: You can have two (or more) VA loans out at the same time as long as you have not exceeded your maximum entitlement and eligibility. In order to have more than one VA loan, the borrower must be able to afford both payments and sufficient entitlement is required. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may be required to make a down payment.

Myth 4: If you have a VA loan, you cannot lease the home.

Fact: By law, homeowners with VA loans may rent out their home. If the home is located in a non-rental subdivision, the VA will not guarantee the loan. If the home is located in a subdivision (such as a co-op) where the other owners can deny or approve a tenant, the VA will not approve the financing. When an individual applies for a VA loan, they certify that they intend on making the home their primary residence. Borrowers cannot use their VA benefits to buy property for rental purposes except if they are using their benefits to buy a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Under these circumstances, the borrower must certify that they will occupy one of the units.

Myth 5: If a borrower has a short sale or foreclosure on a VA loan, they cannot have another VA loan.

Fact: If a borrower has a claim on their entitlement, they will still be able to get another VA loan, but the maximum amount they would otherwise qualify for may be less. For example, Mr. Smith had a home with a $100,000 VA loan that foreclosed in 2012. If Mr. Smith buys a home in a low cost area, he will have enough remaining eligibility for a $317,000 purchase with $0 money down.  If he did not have the foreclosure, he would have been able to obtain another VA loan up to $417,000 with no money down payment.

Veterans and Active duty military deserve affordable home ownership. In recent years, the VA loan made up roughly 13% of all home purchase financing. This program remains underused largely because of misinformation. By separating facts from myth, more of America’s military would be able to realize their own American Dream.”

You can sign up for more blogs at kcmblog.com. If you have any questions regarding mortgages and loans, we are happy to refer you to one of our preferred lenders. We have worked side by side with these lenders for quite some time and trust them with our clients. Whether you are buying a Wake County home or selling a home, call us today at 919.235.0007 or visit our website at www.LindaCraft.com for more information.

Report: National Home Buyers Can Expect to Pay More for Real Estate in 2014

US Home SalesChanges are afoot on the national housing market that suggest that this year is going to increasingly favor the home seller. And that means buyers will likely be paying more for real estate in 2014.

According to a recent news article, the National Association of REALTORS® recently reported that nearly 5.1 million homes sold last year, which is the highest rate it’s been since 2006.

Meanwhile, values are rising as home sellers grow increasingly tired of selling their home for “cheap.”

Although this is resulting in longer Days on the Market averages, it also means that home prices are rising.

A Look Back at 2013 Activity

Here’s an overview of national real estate activity, according to December data:

  • From January to December 2013, there were 4.87 existing home that were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis.
  • That figure is one percent higher from the month before.
  • For 2013 overall, there were 5.09 million home sales, which is a nine percent increase from the year before.
  • What’s more, that figure is the highest reading it’s been since 2006.
  • Meanwhile, home builders reported increased buyer foot traffic. In fact, they said the activity had reached a 7-year high.
  • And by December 2013, the home supply was down to 4.6 months. This means that if activity stayed the same, all available homes for sale would be sold in that time frame.
  • The latest report also revealed that homes are not selling as quickly as the year before.
  • While 28 percent of homes sold in 30 days or less, the Median Days on the Market actually increased substantially, from 16 to 72 days.
  • In fact, Days on the Market has been steadily increasing for the last seven months.
  • Here’s another thing to note: home prices have increased more than 20 percent in some regional housing markets over the last year, in part because of bidding wars.
  • In December, foreclosed homes had a median Days on Market of 67 days.

A Look Ahead to 2014

Experts predict that cold weather in December and January may have created even more pent-up home buyer demand, which could bode well for housing market activity in the coming months as temperatures warm up.

Experts are also saying that while home sales have slowed over the last several months, competition is greater than ever.

This is aided by the fact that home sellers are feeling more confident than ever. They’re no longer worried about whether their home will ever sell, they’re worried about getting the best price possible for their home.

Thus, many have raised their list prices to values that they think are reasonable instead of pricing them undervalue in an effort to attract buyers.

While this might slow the momentum a little (and thus lead to longer Days on the Market), the long-term effect will be that prices will rise as buyers realize this is not a passing trend.

Your #1 Source for National Real Estate News

Please check out our website again soon to receive national real estate market updates and see how recent activity may affect your efforts as a buyer or seller.