Today, agents are not simply agents. We’re counselors. We’re financial advisers and educators. We’re often therapists, renovation experts, credit repair experts, and foreclosure specialists. At various times, we are hand-holders, friends, shoulders to cry on, the bad guy at whom someone can vent. And we still have to show homes, negotiate and write contracts and close deals.
Having said this, most of what I’ve listed above is not what any agent is trained for, nor should we delve too deeply into those job descriptions. The Darmody Team knows where and who to connect you with when needing the final word on, say, investment practices, retirement, or credit repair, etc. Yes, we know a lot about alot of things, but what makes us stand apart is that we really care about you, enough not to pretend to know it all. Have I done marriage counseling in a car while driving to a showing? Yes. Do I talk about mortgages and use big words? Yes. But to really care, I send my clients to my network of people who have the same heart to serve you and your family as I have. Today’s agent should be more than a mere salesperson
The same heart for people, and skill package, that led me into pastoral ministry for 12 years, allows me to be the cartilage* that holds the process and structure of your real estate transaction together. I believe in my heart of hearts that I am, as well as those I’ve chosen to work with, your best choice for real estate guidance.
The real estate agent of today must be literate and wear many hats. That’s where experience helps, and having a Team gives you a broader pool of people who can help. Yes the Darmody Team can speak on many many subjects, but your future is too important for us to pretend to know everything. So, the advise I leave with you today is to find an agent with nurturing personal traits and character. Find an agent who will guide you, listen to you and truly care. The Darmody Team will not align itself with any other kind of agent.
* cartilage: firm, flexible connective tissue
When you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the details. Should you paint the front door? How about changing out that fixture in the dining room? Do you need to redo the floors or will a good deep cleaning be enough? So many questions, so many tasks that you suddenly feel are each the most important thing that must be done right away. Anyone who has ever staged a home for sale, however, will tell you that the number one thing that you should do to get your home ready — before you start tearing out carpet or painting doors — is to make it feel light, bright and airy.
Buyers Are Always Looking for More Light
Instinctively, there’s a part of every person that wants more light, more light. It’s the same reason that people suffer from things like seasonal affective disorder: we need more light in our lives. Light also makes your home feel bigger when compared to other houses with the same basic square footage, so it’s sort of a win-win here. Too many sellers overlook this simple notion, instead opting to choose trendy colors to try to appeal to buyers. They paint their dining rooms a dark scarlet, or choose lighting that isn’t nearly bright enough, creating a home that’s more cave-like than house-like. These same sellers wonder why they can’t find a buyer for their enclave, as potential after potential comes in for a look and immediately runs for the door. But you’re not one of these sellers. You’ve come to the right place for some tips to make your home more appealing by bringing in more light, both real and artificial. These simple tricks can make a huge difference to your home’s first impression.
Let’s Let in the Light!
There are three kinds of light you need to be aware of when you’re looking to brighten your home: the natural light that comes from windows, doors and skylights, the artificial light that comes from your light fixtures and that light that’s bouncing off the walls and around the room. Natural light is simple to harness, just:
* Clean your windows until they sparkle. Even those fine layers of dust and dirt can block light transmission, making your home feel dark and dreary.
* Remove heavy drapes. If you must have curtains, opt for sheers or lace panels. Sheers will still set off the windows like a heavy drape, but let most of the light from outside come inside.
* Leave every window blind open once your house is on the market. This is a huge mistake a lot of sellers make. Instead of leaving their windows open so that the first thing a potential buyer sees when they walk through the door is a bright and beautiful home, they close the blinds for fear that people will look into their home since it’s for sale. Artificial light isn’t too tough to get a handle on when you:
* Clean the globes on all your light fixtures. The glass globes on ceiling lights and those glass shades on your ceiling fans can be run through the dishwasher on the top rack. They’ll come out clean as a whistle and able to let more light pass through.
* Replace dim bulbs with much brighter ones. You’ll be surprised how much different your living room looks when you replace the four 40 watt bulbs in your ceiling fan with four 75 watt bulbs. You can certainly overdo this, but it’s hard in rooms of any substantial size.
* Choose blue. Replacing those orange-tinted light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs may seem like a pointless hassle, but this small modification will make your interior feel like it’s full of more of the natural light that’s coming in through the windows. More natural light is almost always better.
* Consider the room size. There are times that choosing the brightest bulb in the box is the wrong way to go. Rooms that are small or narrow, like bathrooms, may be better served with slightly less lighting. You’ll have to use your judgement on that, but keep in mind that no one wants to walk into a small space and be blinded by the artificial light inside. Light that’s bouncing around the room needs to keep bouncing, so:
* Choose brighter colors to reflect more of the ultraviolet spectrum. The more white involved, the more light it reflects, which then bounces off the other light colored walls, making the room seem big and airy. Stark white is not a great choice, it often makes a home feel too institutional, but a buttercream, barely gray or other almost-not-tinted color can really brighten up a room and get that light moving.
* Minimize dark design elements. It’s not just the walls that can absorb too much of the light in your home, making it feel like an underground bunker. The floors, ceilings and even the furniture in the room all affect how much light is moving around. Again, you don’t want to go totally white, but if you have a dark floor or your ceiling could stand to be painted, definitely make an effort there. Ceilings should be flat white for best results. * Use mirrors strategically. Mirrors were way overdone in the 1980s and have kind of fallen out of favor since. It’s unfortunate, since they’re a great way to help direct light exactly where it’s needed. When you’re confronted with a dark room that seems to have no good solutions for light, try adding a mirror. For example, a mirrored closet door in a small bedroom with a single window can have a huge impact on the room, plus it’s a handy accessory.
The Devil’s in Those Details
Before you panic about all this lighting stuff, you may want to talk to Steve’s Team about doing a quick walkthrough of your home so they can point out places where you should be focusing your efforts. Don’t worry if you don’t have the mad skills just yet, The Darmody Team will help.
Saving money before and during retirement so their standard of living doesn’t suffer is important for many retirees. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t saving nearly enough and are falling short of setting aside adequate funds to support their retirement needs. The average retirement savings for people aged 56-61 is only $163,577. Meanwhile, retirees can spend nearly $275,000 on health care. The National Institute for Retirement Security estimates that America has an up to $14 trillion gap in retirement savings.
If you are retired and finding that balancing your savings and spending is an ongoing challenge, follow these tips for ways to trim your expenses and save more.
1. Cut Your ‘Time-Saving’ Costs
When you’re employed and busy managing your career and family, spending money on time-saving items – like professional house cleaning or monthly food-subscription services – can be helpful. Once you retire, however, you typically have more time on your hands. You may be paying for items that are no longer necessary. You can save money each month by trimming or eliminating any time-saving resources you don’t need to support your retirement lifestyle.
Actions to take:
- List all the monthly, quarterly, and annual subscriptions and services you have. Identify which ones aren’t necessary.
- Consider taking over household chores you pay someone else to manage.
- Assess how much you spend on eating out, and switch to eating in for some of those meals.
2. Reduce Your Health-Care Costs
Retirees typically spend a large amount on health care, often siphoning income that could be used for other expenses. Unless you have the money to pay these bills, they could leave you in a financial bind. You can help reduce some of your medical costs by learning to shop around. For example, changes like getting an MRI at a radiologist instead of a hospital can make a difference in your medical bills, as the radiologist is typically less expensive.
Actions to take:
- Get comparative quotes from hospitals and other medical professionals.
- Check prescription costs at different pharmacies, and consider buying generic.
- Revisit your insurance plans to help identify if you’re receiving the best value.
- Every retiree’s financial life and needs are different, so knowing a true breakdown of your daily, monthly, and yearly costs (your budget) is important for finding ways to save. By taking time to assess what may be
- unnecessary spending in your life, and reducing or eliminating these expenses, you may have more money on hand for other lifestyle needs.
To avoid further complications in their plans, your buyers may want to speed up their home search this spring, as interest rates are forecasted to move higher in the coming months. Forty-four percent of home buyers say rate increases likely will force them to settle for a smaller, less expensive home that requires a longer commute to their jobs, according to a realtor.com® survey. First-time buyers may be most affected by rising costs, as increasing home prices and interest rates price some out of the market.
Mortgage rates are at their highest levels in more than four years. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac, and that’s largely expected to increase since the Federal Reserve said it is likely to raise its short-term interest rates this year. That could prompt mortgage rates to move higher at least three times this year, starting this month.
“For the bulk of buyers, it’s not going to kill their decision to purchase a home,” Rick Palacios Jr., director of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, told realtor.com®. “If anything, it will get them off the fence by creating a sense of urgency.” Higher rates are “a kick in the pants for you to start thinking seriously [about buying].”
Rate increases—even minor ones—can add up over time. Realtor.com® offers this example: On a $300,000 house with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and 20 percent down payment, the difference between a 4 percent and 5 percent mortgage rate is $142 a month. Calculated over the life of the loan, that is more than an extra $51,000. “Buyers thought they could wait forever because rates were going to stay low forever,” says Palacios. “They’re starting to realize that if they’re going to buy, they should probably buy now.”
Home buyers who are concerned about rising rates may want to lock in with a lender, which guarantees the current rate for a set period of time. Still, don’t let your clients linger on making a decision. It typically costs several hundred dollars to lock in a rate.
Source: “Is It Last Call for Low Mortgage Rate? Why Home Buyers Should Act Now,” realtor.com® (March 7, 2018)