How To Use Social Media To Sell Your Home

Despite generation gaps, the use of social websites and applications has increased across the board. With online interactions becoming the predominant form of communication, establishing an online presence is now vital to all types of business, including real estate. So, as a homeowner leaping into the world of FSBO, or working alongside an agent to create buzz, tapping into the vast arsenal of social media marketing could make all the difference.

Check out these 5 tips and stay ahead of the ball:

1. Blog, blog and blog again!

Setting up a blog is the first step you should take in establishing your online visibility. This can be used as a tool to create your narrative and help establish an emotional connection between you and possible buyers. Also, once your blog is set up, you can use the link in all of your social media posts on other websites.

2. Get Social

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great for socializing and updating your friends and family on different aspects of your life. Whether sharing a photo or a personal thought, you can instantly connect to a large pool of people on topics that are meaningful to you. So why not share about your home! Yes, your family and friends may not be in the market for a new home, but at least a few know people who are. Ask for likes, shares, and retweets, just be mindful of the frequency of your posts – spamming your friends is not the way to go.

3. Don’t Forget about Pinterest

Ah, Pinterest, the red headed step child of networking sites. You may be thinking, “how could a Pinterest board help me sell my home?” Well, not only is Pinterest used to find ideas and inspirations, but buying products and receiving information has also become a focus for the social media site. Pinning images of your house with direct link attachments to your listings or blog will help drive traffic to those platforms and ultimately give your home more exposure to interested buyers.

 4. #GetVisible

“What in the world is a hashtag?” you may ask. Simple, it’s your ticket to the outside world. Hashtags allow you to have visibility to entire demographics of individuals who may be searching for products you’re selling; In this case, the product being sold is a house. Also, getting creative and using a hashtag that is memorable and specific to your home can work as a reference point for anyone wanting to find your post. Most, if not all social media sites have incorporated hashtags as a feature on their platform.

5. Know Your Audience

It’s important to remember that every social media platform has its own unique niche, and in order to get the most out of your media marketing, you need to cater to your audience. For example, posting high quality images on Instagram, and short meaningful text on Twitter will help facilitate better interaction on your posts.

At the end of the day, selling a house takes diligence, patience and hard work; maintaining relationships with potential buyers and keeping open lines of communication is key. However, if all else fails, ask for advice. There are plenty of professionals who are capable and willing to help you in your home-selling endeavors!

The Benefits Of An Online Lender

It’s 2016, and in a time where computers, tablets and mobile devices are increasingly changing how consumers do business across all markets, mortgage lenders are finding that they must adapt to the needs of their borrowers. AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation consistently stays ahead of the curve. Since 2002, AmeriSave has been able to offer current mortgage rates in a matter of seconds, becoming one of the nation’s largest online lenders.

For majority of consumers, the internet isn’t just affecting how they do business, but how they receive information. That’s why establishing a site that is not only functional as a transactional tool, but also an information hub for current rates, has boosted AmeriSave up as one of the leading mortgage lenders in the United States. With various home purchase, mortgage refinance and home equity calculators, you can determine for yourself the best options that will fit your needs.

AmeriSave’s online presence allows borrowers to apply for loans directly from the website while receiving the expert customer service generally associated with brick and mortar businesses. Thanks to its straightforward ease of use, AmeriSave allows you to cut out the middleman and begin the mortgage process yourself online; thus allowing you to start your mortgage process with a pre-approval so that you have an idea of what you can afford while also showing potential sellers that you are a serious buyer.

With convenience and ease at your fingertips, getting a pre-approval is literally a click away. Apply now

Four Ways To Keep Your Lawn Healthy This Summer

With summer already upon us, homeowners across the country must now face the problem of maintaining a healthy lawn during the hottest and driest part of the year. Here are four tips to help you keep your grass happy and healthy this summer.

1. Water deeply and infrequently.

During the dry summer months, grass struggles to stay moisturized and develop long, healthy roots. If you lightly water your grass at frequent intervals, the grass will only be able to develop shallow roots, which results in added stress during periods of drought. Instead, water your grass more deeply at less frequent intervals. This encourages grass to grow deep roots, which better protect it from dry spells.

2. Keep your grass long.

As discussed in the last point, you want your grass to grow long and healthy roots during the hot summer months. By mowing high and keeping your grass long, you increase its ability to grow long roots and thrive during periods of drought.  Bonus: You don’t have to cut it as often!

3. Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize.

All too often, homeowners will fertilize their lawns and wait many months before repeating the process. Fertilizers typically nurture lawn growth for eight weeks at most, which means that you should fertilize your lawn every two months at least. Well-fertilized lawns grow in thick, which has a cooling effect on the soil and prevents weeds from taking over.

4. Consider reseeding.

Because many older lawns aren’t equipped to handle the summer heat, reseeding might be the best option. Although the reseeding process does require a fair bit of time, effort, and money, it can have a tremendous effect on your outdoor space. Furthermore, a properly seeded lawn can last for many years as long as you take good care of it.

Four Ways To Reduce Home Electricity Costs During Summer Months

During the summer months, many people experience a sudden and unwanted uptick in their monthly energy bills. The change almost always occurs due to increased use of the air conditioning system, which uses a considerable amount of energy. Here are three tips to help homeowners keep their homes cool without breaking the bank.

1. Close all doors and windows when the air conditioner is running: Although it might seem obvious, all too many people forget to close up their house before they start using their air conditioning systems. Because even the slightest leak can have a significant impact on the energy efficiency of air conditioning, it is absolutely important to make sure all doors and windows are shut completely. You can close the vents in rooms that you don’t use regularly, like guest bedrooms, to cool other rooms more quickly.

2. Outfit your windows with heavy drapes: To keep the heat from the sun out of your house, consider hanging heavy drapes over your windows, especially the ones that face the sun for large portions of the day. Heavy drapes block out the sunlight and prevent it from heating up your house during daytime hours. As a result, your home will stay cooler and you will direct less electricity toward the use of your air conditioning system.

3. Turn off your lights: During daylight hours, turn off all artificial lights in your house and, if possible, illuminate your house with natural light. By doing this, you will decrease electricity usage for lighting purposes and mitigate some of the heat produced by light bulbs. However, you should exercise caution when opening up windows on sun-facing sides of the house; the direct sun exposure can heat up your home and require additional use of the air conditioning system.

4. Install a programmable thermostat: Cooling costs account for roughly 50% of a home’s monthly electricity usage.  Programmable thermostats will help control your energy usage by only cooling the house when you’re home.  This thermostat from Nest makes using a programmable thermostat easy by taking the programming out of it!  Nest learns your schedule and the temperatures you like and does the rest.  It even has sensors that know when you’re home or not.  An added bonus: you can control it from your phone or computer while you’re away!

Why Is Spring The Best Time To Sell A Home?

In real estate, as in many other things in life, timing is everything. For many homeowners and prospective home-buyers, the decision of when to buy or sell a home can have a tremendous impact on the price, ease of sale, and competition. Many professionals in the real estate sector point to spring as the start of the busy season, which means that more houses will become available for purchase and more buyers will start looking at available properties.

The spring season brings with it an increase in real estate activity for a number of reasons. As the expensive holiday season becomes a distant memory, you might find yourself with more money in your pocket and start to become excited about a new project. Spring also means more sunlight and warmer weather, which to many people is a major motivator to finally get started on the home buying or selling process. Buying a home in the spring also lets you look forward to a summer moving project: a far better prospect than moving in the dead of winter.

So why should you consider selling your home in the spring? For starters, the boost in foot traffic at open houses increases the likelihood of multiple offers, which gives you the leverage necessary to negotiate a higher sale price. The spring weather also spurs the growth of plants and flowers, which can significantly improve the aesthetics of your home and ultimately allow you to ask for a higher price. Because spring marks the beginning of the “real estate season,” home-buyers will be nervous about missing out on a home that catches their eye, which can entice them to agree to a higher price.

That being said, this spring we’re experiencing the most active home-buying season since 2006.  If you’re shopping for a new home, don’t miss out.  Shop the most competitive rates and lock yours today. Click here for today’s rates.

How To Prepare Your Home For An Appraisal

In today’s housing market, a well-executed appraisal can add thousands of dollars of value to your home. It is important to prepare your home long before an appraiser ever arrives on the scene. Here is a quick list of tip to maximize the appraisal value of your home.

1. Clean the interior of your house: While this simple piece of advice may seem obvious, cleaning your house for even just a couple of hours can significantly affect the appraisal value. A deep clean of every piece of furniture in your house isn’t necessary, but you should at least clean it to the same level you would for a nice dinner party.

2. Maximize curb appeal: Because the exterior of a house is the first thing an appraiser will see when he or she arrives, it is important to generate as much curb appeal as possible. For most homeowners, this means mowing and edging the lawn, clearing all weeds from the garden, and trimming vines and hedges in prominent locations.

3. Invest in new appliances: In an otherwise spotless kitchen or living room, an old and worn-out refrigerator or television can make the entire room look old. By replacing outdated appliances with newer ones, you can increase the appraisal value of your home by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

4. Consider repainting: In many homes, repainting the walls can freshen up the atmosphere and make the interior look much newer, which can significantly increase the appraisal value. Choosing a neutral color can also add value to your home.

5. Rearrange furniture to highlight space: A room with too much furniture can seem cluttered, no matter how big it is. As such, you should minimize the amount of furniture in your home to emphasize the openness of each room.

Click here to check today’s mortgage rates.

Five Ways To Cut Costs At Home

In tight economic times, many families have begun looking to their household budgets for ways to save money every month. Here are five tips to help families cut down on their monthly expenses and start growing their savings.

1. Bundled services: As a result of increased competition in the telecommunications sector, many cable and satellite television providers have begun to bundle their services into cost-effective packages. Some families will be able to bundle without switching providers, while others may have to consider switching in order to get the best price.

2. Restructure cell phone plan: All too often, families will renew their plans without carefully considering their actual usage. By looking at the average number of minutes, text messages, and data used, families can cut back on their plans and save money on their monthly bills.

3. Consolidate insurance: Much like cable and satellite television and Internet providers, many insurance companies offer discounts for using multiple types of insurance under one account. Families can also lower their monthly rates by increasing their deductibles. However, one should generally conduct thorough research before doing so.

4. Review financial fees: Many individuals and families remain with the same bank or financial services provider out of familiarity. However, many financial institutions impose hard-to-catch monthly fees such as certified checks, ATM fees, and annual service fees. A considerable number of people have also switched to Internet banks, which offer highly competitive interest rates and minimal fees.

5. Conserve electricity: One of the most popular pieces of advice for saving money, conserving electricity can free up hundreds of dollars every month for families. Heating and air conditioning often represent the majority of electricity costs, especially during the summer and winter months. However, little things like turning off your lights and appliances can also save money.

The Battle Of Homeownership Vs. Renting

With today’s mortgage rates still very low, the cost of homeownership may rival that of renting in many markets.  Real estate blog Trulia states, despite asking price increases of 7% outpacing rental increases of 3.2%, the gap between buying and renting has narrowed only slightly.  Today, it is still 44% cheaper to buy a home versus renting in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The top ten markets where buying is significantly less than renting are:

10. Indianapolis, IN – 58%

9. Birmingham, AL – 59%

8. Kansas City, MO – 60%

7. Memphis, TN – 62%

6. Toledo, OH – 62%

5. Warren, MI – 63%

4. Cleveland, OH – 63%

3. Gary, IN – 63%

2. Dayton, OH – 63%

1. Detroit, MI – 70%

Mortgage rates, tax deductions and the length of time you plan to stay in the home are the three factors that have the largest impact on the rent vs. own argument.

– With today’s average mortgage rate at 3.5%, buying is 44% cheaper.  But if mortgage rates were to rise, to say 4.5% it would only be 39% cheaper.

– Most taxpayers who are homeowners file an itemized tax return and mortgage interest and property tax payments are typically deductible.  If you itemize at the 25% tax bracket, buying is 44% cheaper.

– It’s a no-brainer that the longer you stay in the home, the more cost effective it is.  Spreading out the costs of buying and selling a home (closing costs, improvements, realtor commissions) over a number of years is will save you the most money.

Use this calculator to determine whether owning or renting is better for you.

Prefab Isn’t What It Used To Be

The history of prefabricated homes in the United States dates back to the early 1900s when companies like Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold more than 100,000 homes out of its catalog.  Prefabricated houses were inexpensive because the panels were constructed in an assembly line fashion, with the skilled carpenters, plumbers and electricians all in one factory rather than on site.  The lower cost of these homes, around $2500, meant that more middle-class Americans could afford to build a home.  Eventually prefab homes fell out of favor, partially due to the government imposing stronger building codes for design, construction, fire safety and energy efficiency.  However, in the past couple decades innovations have allowed manufactured home designers to cater to an increasingly upscale market with modern, “green” prefabricated homes.

This 4,500 square foot home in beautiful Oregon features one side made entirely out of translucent and transparent panels to take advantage of the views.  The other side is surfaced with recycled metal panels that provide privacy from a road and decreased construction costs.  The metal panels will eventually rust and the red color will resemble the red rock mountains nearby.  The interior is finished with renewable bamboo cabinets and bamboo and stained concrete floors.  The construction cost was $130 per square foot.

This custom modular home was erected on a lot in an existing urban neighborhood.  Three story homes from Method Homes range from 1592-2335 square feet and have a base price of $211,736.

Another Oregon home, this prefabricated home evokes a 1950s look but it’s anything but inside.  This 2300 square foot home has 12 ½” pitched ceilings and no interior supporting walls.  The rear of the home features 13” windows in every room.

Factory built homes aren’t just available for single family homes.  LivingHomes, based in Santa Monica, CA, has “installed” a multifamily property in San Francisco, CA featuring six townhomes with 2 bedroom floor plans.

This green home on the border of Joshua Tree National Park was manufactured by Blu Homes for Time Disney.  The home was “unfolded” on site and reportedly uses 50% less energy than a typical home.  Interesting fact: this home is actually two of the company’s “Origin” model joined together.

This Week In Celebrity Real Estate

Jessica Simpson Buys Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s Former Home

Jessica Simpson and husband-to-be Eric Johnson have gone into escrow on the home The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, shared with his wife Sharon.  The 11,000 square foot home is located in Hidden Hills, California and was listed at $13 million.  Before you go thinking that it’s going to take months of work and gallons of primer to cover the black painted interior walls, know that the home was decorated by Sharon Osbourne, who is known to have impeccable taste and enjoys things to be light and airy.  However, the first renovation on the books is to convert Ozzy and Sharon’s former walk in closet to a nursery for baby number 2.  The closet is said to be MASSIVE.  The Cape Cod inspired house features a sweeping grand staircase, large windows, a large back yard with an expansive view of Los Angeles and naturally, a pool.

Dave Matthews Picks Up Malibu Pad

Singer/Songwriter Dave Matthews, who owns real estate in Seattle and his hometown of Charlottesville, VA, has plunked down $6.5 million for a beach house in sunny Malibu, CA.  The home is reminiscent of a European country estate, sitting on nearly two acres.  He’ll have plenty of room for the rest of the band with the homes 6 bedrooms and plans to add a 900 sq. ft. guest house.  Hmmm? Could it double as a recording studio?  Finally, the property comes with private beach access rights.  Our take, this home is The Best of What’s Around.

Allen Iverson’s Former Atlanta Home is a Slam Dunk

If you’re looking to score a deal on a well-built home in the Buckhead area, sometimes called the “Beverly Hills of the South”, of Atlanta then look no further.  Former Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson built this home in 2009 for $4.5 million but is currently selling it for $2.8 million after finalizing his divorce.  The home manages to squeeze in 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms into 10,000 sq. ft.  Neighbors on West Paces Ferry Road include Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons (and co-founder of Home Depot) and the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, currently home to Governor Nathan Deal.  Not too shabby.