Posted by WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate on 7/17/2019

It is a fact that people who plan carefully to own a home will run into fewer financial issues later. So, if you want to buy a property now or sometime in the future, your first step should be to check your credit. It is a good idea to review your credit reports and scores from time to time, even if you are not buying the house or applying for a mortgage immediately. 

Your Credit Scores

Nowadays, most lenders use a FICO score when determining whether to offer you a loan or not, as well as in setting the rate and terms. Different lenders may use different credit scoring formulas, so your score can vary based on what type of scoring model the mortgage lender uses whether Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion FICO score. 

The scoring system is dynamic so that your score changes as the information in your credit report changes.

Ways of Getting Your Credit Score

There are many ways of accessing a credit score, and some of them are free. However, most organizations that provide free credit scores do so using different scoring methods than what the lenders' actually use. 

The four ways to obtain a score: 

1. Evaluate your credit card or another account statement - Most big credit card companies and some financial institutions, as well as credit unions, have started the service of providing credit scores to all their customers every month for free. The score is often written on your monthly statement or can be found by logging in to your online account. 

2. Consult with a non-profit adviser - Non-profit credit advisers and HUD-approved housing counselors can provide you with a free credit report in most cases and score and even assist you in reviewing them. A counselor may help you to buy a home, but we recommend you reach out to your reliable real estate agent who is more experienced and understands the job well than a mere counselor.

3. Buy a score - Credit reporting companies will sell your scores to you directly. You can also buy a FICO credit score at myfico.com. These credit scores are often different from your free ones and can be more accurate to what your lender sees. Don't get sucked into paying for extra features with your credit report such as identity theft monitoring, credit protection, or other services offered at the time of purchase.

4. Credit score services - Several websites offer a free credit score service. Some of these websites may be funded through advertising while others may require that you register for a credit monitoring service where you pay a monthly subscription fee to get your free score. 

Be aware that some of these services are usually advertised as free trial offers, and will start charging you a monthly fee if you don't cancel within the first week or month. Before you register for a service, ensure you know how much it really costs and how long the free period lasts. 

Your Credit Score Matters

Everybody is entitled to shop around for the best mortgage for their financial situation no matter their credit score. So, checking your credit history, fixing any mistakes, and knowing your credit scores will make you most suitable for getting a mortgage to buy a property for yourself.





Posted by WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate on 7/16/2019

It's that period of the year where families and friends come out to have fun - nothing else spells fun better than a barbecue and a cold drink. Grilling has gone past the age of kettle grills and charcoal briquettes. With summer approaching, you want to get your grill equipment ready for the warm weather. The grill is an essential part of every outdoor party and should not be over complicated with too many equipment choices or devices. Having the right tools would make grilling fun, enjoyable and more relaxed. Below are top barbecue accessories to consider for summer—which is just around the corner:

Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer

With the use of this intelligent wireless meat thermometer, you don’t have to worry about overcooking or under-cooking your chicken. It comes in a classy wood case that also serves as a charger—making it available at all time. The meat thermometer comes with an app that is easy to use. You can preset on the app based on your taste and your choice of meat and check the stats on the app via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. 

Grill Daddy Pro

It’s designed to clean your grill surface with the power of stem. Fill water into the grill daddy and fire up your grill. The grill daddy release steam that melts grease and has a brush head that’s dishwasher safe to clean the surface of your grill. 

Looftlighter

Having to light up a grill without bothering about lighter fluid getting into your chicken is a relief. The Looftlighter is a better option compared to your chimney starter, and it works by producing heated air which is expected to start a fire in about 60 seconds. The Looftlighter works on charcoal, wood, and briquettes. It requires power and needs an electric outlet before putting to use.

Grillbot

After the fun of grilling, nobody wants to clean up all that messiness. Here comes the job of the Grillbot. Place your Grillbot on a dirty grill, power it up and it cleans. The Grillbot has rechargeable wire brushes and can work autonomously with no supervision. It comes with a timer and an alarm that tells you when it has completed a set clean cycle. 

Expanding Led Grill Light

To avoid burning your chicken or hot dog at night when you grill, you would need to get a led grill light. You get saved the stress of having to fumble with a torchlight in one hand and a grill fork in the other. The light clips on to your grill and some are water resistant.

Grill Cooler

The purpose of the grill cooler is to ensure you have everything you need for your grill party in a place. You get saved the stress of shuffling back and forth between the refrigerator and your backyard. 

Grill Tool Set

It's a set every griller should own and comes with a sleek wooden handle. Inside the collection, there is steel spatula, corn on the cob holders, grill brush, skewers, fork, and tongs.

Barbecuing is one of a homeowner's great delights. If you need a new backyard to host your grilling party, reach out to your local real estate professional.





Posted by WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate on 7/16/2019

A home inspection is a key part of the property buying process. If you fail to allocate the necessary time and resources to conduct an in-depth inspection, you may struggle to identify various home problems before you finalize your property purchase. And if you cannot identify such issues, you risk buying a home that may require costly, time-intensive upgrades in the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, there are many things that you can do to ensure that a home inspection provides you with the insights you need to determine whether to proceed with a home purchase. These include:

1. Hire an Expert Home Inspector

A home likely is one of the biggest purchases you'll make in your lifetime. As such, there is no need to leave anything to chance, especially when it comes to conducting a house inspection. But if you hire an expert home inspector, you can get the support you need to conduct a comprehensive property inspection.

Look for a home inspector who possesses extensive experience. Also, you may want to ask a home inspector for client referrals before you make your final hiring decision. If you get in touch with a home inspector's past clients, you can find out what it's like to work with this professional and proceed accordingly.

2. Attend Your Home Inspection

You are under no obligation to attend your home inspection. But in most instances, it is beneficial to attend an inspection.

A home inspection usually requires just a few hours to complete, but the benefits of attending an inspection may last a lifetime.

For example, during an inspection, a home inspector may be able to provide you with property repair insights that otherwise won't be included in your inspection report. Meanwhile, attending a home inspection allows you to ask questions and gain the insights you need to make an informed decision about a home purchase.

3. Analyze Your Home Inspection Results

Spend some time reviewing a home inspection report – you'll be happy you did. If you assess a home inspection report closely, you can use all of the information at your disposal to decide whether to continue with a house purchase.

Furthermore, if you have questions about a home inspection report, don't hesitate to reach out to the inspector who conducted the evaluation. This inspector can respond to any report questions that you may have and provide you with information that could prove to be exceedingly valuable as you make your final decision about a house.

As you get ready to buy a home, it certainly helps to have a best-in-class real estate agent at your side too. This housing market professional can offer recommendations and suggestions about what to do following a home inspection. Plus, he or she can provide plenty of guidance at each stage of the property buying journey.

Take the guesswork out of a home inspection – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of completing a successful property inspection before you finalize a home purchase.





Posted by WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate on 7/15/2019

Selling your home is a big deal, and while there's a lot that your real estate agent will do for you, you also have an essential part to play in the process of selling your home for a new one. A seller needs to make the house as attractive as possible when putting it up for sale. Here are the ways to prepare your home for sale: 

Look at the house from a stranger's viewpoint 

The advantage of viewing your property from a prospective buyer's perspective is that it enables you to identify some defects that could prevent potential buyers from initiating the sale process. Taking an unbiased and unemotional look at your home will help you see things in a better light. Better still, you can ask your friend or real estate agent to examine your home and give you an honest opinion about the state of the residence. And, try to amend whatever they pointed out as a defect. 

Remove pets from the house

Pets are good to have in a home, but not all buyers like the idea of buying a home with pets around. Some buyers may not want to see pets around, especially if they are allergic to them. Therefore, it is advisable to remove all pets from the house. And have a non-pet owner give your home the "sniff test" to make sure the pet odors are gone too.

Make Improvement before selling 

Nothing discourages buyers more than a property that is poorly maintained. Not only that, such houses attract lower offers. Prospective buyers will not be willing to buy a house for top dollar that requires extra costs for repairs and improvements. Therefore, an excellent way to increase the value of your home is to improve it before putting it up for sale. However, you should not overspend on home improvements, or the expenses will eat into your profits when selling. Your agent is an excellent resource for pointing out which upgrades are worth the money spent. 

Spread the word

Below are ways that you can market your home by yourself and with the help of your real estate agent.

- Pay for ad space in local directories

- Word of mouth to friends and family

- Multiple Listing Services through your agent

- Speak to your realtor about creating a Virtual Tour

- Plan an open house to allow prospective buyers to see the house themselves

If you plan to place your home up for sale, consider the ideas above to ensure a fast sale. Most of all, follow your agent's advice on marketing trends that work best in your market.





Posted by WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate on 7/12/2019

This is the age-old interior design question that keeps coming back. Moreover, the answer will never be to simply declare one superior to the other. The question needs to be dissected from several angles; where is the house situated, how long do you intend the flooring to last? How much are you ready to spend on maintenance of the floor? There is also the little matter of personal taste. 

Solid wood flooring is better when…

  • You want that eye-catching natural look to go with a rustic or modern theme.
  • You want an economical choice but still want a decent, homely look.
  • You live in an area with colder temperatures for most of the year. Hardwood floors are better at retaining heat than porcelain or ceramic tiles. Over and above you and your family's feet, you should consider your pets, which spend more time on the floor than you. 
  • You need a floor that is easier on the foot. In addition to losing heat quicker, porcelain tiles are harder on the soles of your feet, and on your back by extension.
  • You don't mind the noise of feet slamming onto floorboards. 

Ceramic/porcelain tiles are better when…

  • You are a resident of California or any other locality where it's mostly hot all the time. Such flooring is cooler to step on.
  • You want a floor that is easy to keep clean and maintain. Solid wood floors, especially if not well finished, can be tricky to clean. They may also be affected by changes in temperature and develop problems when exposed to moisture. Not to mention the fact that such floors are more easily disfigured by scratching or spills. This may require you to refinish your floor several times. 
  •  You want more variety to choose from. Much as you can have solid wood flooring in a variety of widths and stains, you will get far greater variety when shopping for tiles. You can even get ceramic tiles that are textured to look like wood flooring.
  • You have people with allergy issues living with you. Wood flooring tends to retain dust and other allergens, whereas ceramic, and porcelain tiles don't.
  • You don't mind the hardness and attendant discomfort of tiled floors when you stand on them for long.

Speak to a professional contractor about the advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of flooring before you make up your mind.