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Archive for March, 2016

What to Do With a Tax Refund: 3 Ideas That’ll Practically Double Your Money If You’re a Homeowner

Posted on: March 30th, 2016 by Aimee Crossland No Comments

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By: Alaina Tweddale

If this year is anything like the last, almost 7.2 million Americans will get a tax refund this spring averaging around $3,000. If you’re a homeowner getting this refund, you’re fortunate because you’ve got more creative ways to invest it for a profit. Doesn’t matter if you’re selling, staying put, or stuck in the middle. Here are three homeowner-only options to grow that refund:

1. If You’re Early Into Your Mortgage

It may not be as instantly gratifying as a treehouse vacation in Costa Rica, but spending your tax refund to pay down your mortgage principal could save you enough funds to take a splurge-loaded vacation a bit later.

Let’s assume you have a 30-year-loan at the average loan amount of $292,000, a 4.5% interest rate, and you’re getting that average refund of about $3,000. If you apply that “found” money to your principal each year, CPA Micah Fraim of Roanoke, Va., says you can shave years off your mortgage — in this case, nearly four. That’s about 95 mortgage payments you won’t need to make! Even better is the more than $70,000 that you’ll save in interest payments over the life of the loan.

If you don’t want to make an annual commitment, think about this: Make that payment just once and you’ll cut seven months off your payments and save more than $8,000 in interest. And when you decide to sell, you’ll have more equity.

2. If You’re Planning to Sell

Invest it in staging, and you may be surprised by how quickly your home gets plucked from the market.

“Staging lets prospective buyers see the space as their own, instead of as belonging to the people who currently live there,” said Ashley Lewkowicz, owner of Ashley Kay Design in Bucks County, Pa.

“A home that’s not staged can sit on the market for six months or more,” she added. “A home I recently staged sold in less than two.”

Not only is a faster sale better for your bank account in terms of saved mortgage payments and utility bills, but a drawn-out listing can cause a home’s price to wilt. That makes those throw pillows, decorative bath salts, and rented furniture way worth the investment.

For a large, suburban home in a major metro area, staging can cost about $2,000 upfront, and then about $500 per month for furniture and accessory rentals, according to Lewkowicz. But a faster sale at a higher price can definitely more than double your money over the course of the sales process.

And most staging can be accomplished with simple little touches.

Related: Best Tips for Staging Any Room in Your House

3. If You’re a Home Improvement DIYer

Who knew your home could be your own personal ATM? For many DIYers, putting that $3,000 tax return into small home improvements can result in getting far more than their investment out of the house later.
A new steel front door costs about $250, but can add about $1,500 when you sell.
New wood flooring costs about $1,770, but is worth $5,000 when you sell.
Even new insulation, which costs about $700, can recoup about $2,000 at sale.

If you’re willing to scope materials yourself and put in a little elbow grease, your tax return can fund a renovation for you to enjoy now and reap the financial benefits later.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/what-to-do-with-a-tax-refund/preview/#ixzz44Ot1eqqv
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Find the Best Agent to Sell Your House

Posted on: March 23rd, 2016 by Aimee Crossland No Comments

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By: G. M. Filisko

Ask detailed questions about their experience and skills to help you find the right agent for your home sale.

Working with the right real estate agent can mean the difference between getting prompt, expert representation and feeling like you’re going it alone when selling your home. Here are 10 questions to ask when you’re interviewing agents.

1. How long have you been selling homes?

Mastering real estate requires on-the-job experience. The more experience agents have, the more likely they’ll be able to handle any curveballs thrown during your home sale.

2. What designations do you hold?

Designations like GRI (Graduate REALTOR® Institute) and CRS® (Certified Residential Specialist), which require that agents complete additional real estate training, show they’re constantly learning. Ask if agents have designations and, if not, why not?

3. How many homes did you sell last year?

Agents may tout their company’s success. An equally important question is how many homes they’ve personally sold in the past year; it’s an indicator of how active and aggressive they are.

4. How many days on average did it take you to sell homes?

Ask agents to show you this data along with stats from their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can see how many days, on average, their listings were on the market compared to the average for all properties in the MLS.

5. How close were the asking and sales prices of the homes you sold?

Sometimes sellers choose their agent because the agent’s suggested listing price is higher than those suggested by other agents. A better factor is the difference between listing prices and the amount homes actually sold for. That can help you judge agents’ skill at accurately pricing homes and marketing to the right buyers. It can also help you weed out agents trying to dazzle you with a lofty sales price just to get your listing.

6. How will you market my home?

The days of agents putting a For Sale sign in the yard and hoping for the best are long gone. Look for an agent who does aggressive and innovative marketing, especially on the Internet.

7. Will you represent me exclusively?

In most states, agents can represent the seller, the buyer, or both in a home sale. If your agent will also represent buyers, understand and consent to that dual representation.

8. How will you keep me informed?

If you want weekly updates by email, don’t choose an agent who plans to contact you only if there’s an offer.

9. Can you provide references?

Ask to talk to the last three customers the agent assisted. Call and ask if they’d work with the agent again and if the agent did anything that didn’t sit well with them.

10. Are you a REALTOR®?

Ask whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they’re members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR). NAR has been an advocate of agent professionalism and a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s worked with many real estate agents in the past 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

 

**At Crossland Real Estate, we have agents from every walk of life. Give us a call at 405-604-6800 today to begin. We are ready to serve you!

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/find-best-real-estate-agent-sell-your-house/preview/#ixzz43jhTYOAI
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7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

Posted on: March 16th, 2016 by Aimee Crossland No Comments

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By: John Riha

Follow these seven strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.

Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $60,000 recovers about 67% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The project gets a big thumbs-up from homeowners, too. Those polled in the “Report” gave their new kitchen a Joy Score of 9.8 — a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

 

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Related: Test Your Ergonomic Design Knowledge

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.

Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:

Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

Related: How to Choose the Best Bulb for the Job

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

5. Be Quality-Conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.

And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

Related:

  • Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You’ll Never Regret
  • White: The Savvy and Chic Kitchen Color Choice

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:

Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.

Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

Related: Storage Options that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:

Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/tips-for-kitchen-remodeling/preview/#ixzz4357ONxSD
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B. Davidson

Posted on: March 16th, 2016 by Aimee Crossland No Comments

I have known Sarah Ross for a while now. She is a great realtor – trustworthy and honest. I am going to use her again on my next house.

Crossland Real Estate Receives Website Quality Certification – Recognition earned for excellence in corporate website.

Posted on: March 15th, 2016 by Aimee Crossland No Comments

PRESS RELEASE

Crossland Real Estate Receives Website Quality Certification for excellence in corporate website.

Oklahoma City and Norman OK

Crossland Real Estate has been awarded the Website Quality Certification (WQC) from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, an international network of more than 500 premier real estate firms. Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) presents the certification to member companies that demonstrate best practices in website design, technology and service.

Crossland’s website, gocrossland.com, earned the certification after achieving superior marks on a range of measurements, including usability and performance, design and content, interactivity, customer service and Internet lead management, search engine optimization and mobile. The website was evaluated by Virtual Results, LLC, a real estate internet and social marketing firm enlisted by LeadingRE to review the websites.

WQC is a program available only to firms affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and is awarded based on criteria that is updated annually to reflect the latest in internet marketing strategies. To maintain the certification, companies are re-certified every two years.

“We are delighted to recognize the 117 companies that earned the WQC this year and applaud them for creating websites that attract and engage today’s consumers, providing useful information on homes and communities and supporting them with local expertise,” said Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® President/CEO Pam O’Connor.

“Being awarded the WQC is an honor; I am very pleased to be with a firm in this tremendous network. I feel it is a benefit I can offer my clients, knowing their listing will be featured on a certified website provides them with assurance they are getting the best marketing possible.,” said Dennis Dunn, MRP, GRI Realtor Associate, Crossland Real Estate.

For more information about Crossland Real Estate, please visit www.gocrossland.com.

Established in 1986, Crossland Real Estate provides superior service to those relocating to or from the Oklahoma City metro area. The Relocation Department gives great attention to referrals and ensures the most qualified Associate will attend to the needs of the client. We know OKC and welcome the opportunity to serve you.

Cross Town or Cross Country…We Make It Happen!

About Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (www.LeadingRE.com) is the largest network of top independent local and regional brand-name brokerage in the residential sector of real estate. The 500+ firms affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) are represented by 3,500 offices and 120,000 associates in more than 50 countries worldwide. Collectively, LeadingRE affiliates produced over 1 million home sales valued at $314 billion in 2013. In addition, LeadingRE affiliates hold the No. 1 position in terms of sales volume, transaction sides or both in more of the top U.S. markets than any other organization.

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

Posted on: March 11th, 2016 by Aimee Crossland No Comments

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By: G. M. Filisko

Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

When you refinance or sell your home, the lender will insist that you get an appraisal–an opinion of the value of your home based on what similar homes in your area have sold for in recent months.

Here are five tips about the appraised value of your home.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science

When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home for or to determine your property taxes may rely on other factors and arrive at different values. For example, though an appraisal for a home loan evaluates today’s market value, an appraisal for insurance purposes calculates what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s building material and labor rates, which can result in two different numbers.

Appraisals are also different from CMAs, or competitive market analyses. In a CMA, a real estate agent relies on market expertise to estimate how much your home will sell for in a specific time period. The price your home will sell for in 30 days may be different than the price your home will sell for in 120 days. Because real estate agents don’t follow the rules appraisers do, there can be variations between CMAs and appraisals on the same home.

3. An appraisal is a snapshot

Home prices shift, and appraised values will shift with those market changes. Your home may be appraised at $150,000 today, but in two months when you refinance or list it for sale, the appraised value could be lower or higher depending on how your market has performed.

4. Appraisals don’t factor in your personal issues

You may have a reason you must sell immediately, such as a job loss or transfer, which can affect the amount of money you’ll accept to complete the transaction in your time frame. An appraisal doesn’t consider those personal factors.

5. You can ask for a second opinion

If your home appraisal comes back at a value you believe is too low, you can request that a second appraisal be performed by a different appraiser. You, or potential buyers, if they’ve requested the appraisal, will have to pay for the second appraisal. But it may be worth it to keep the sale from collapsing from a faulty appraisal. On the other hand, the appraisal may be accurate, and it may be a sign that you need to adjust your pricing or the size of the loan you’re refinancing.

More from HouseLogic

How to use an appraisal to eliminate private mortgage insurance

Understanding the assessed value of your home for tax purposes

Understanding the amount at which to insure your home

Other web resources

More information on appraisals

How to improve the appraised value of your home

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s had more than 10 appraisals performed on her properties in the past 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/what-you-must-know-home-appraisals/preview/#ixzz42d4XdTPa
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

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