Louisville Real Estate News

Nov. 6, 2017

Winter Is Coming: Prepare Yourself With These 10 Fall Maintenance Tips

If you want to be ready for the winter, you’ve got to act in the fall. Here are 10 fall maintenance projects you’ll be thankful took care of, as well as a few bonus tips.

 

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It’s the time of year when the bitter winds and the waning sunlight make any task that doesn’t involve sweaters and cocoa sound like dull work. However, if maintenance work sounds bad now, think of what it will sound like when winter comes and everything is frigid and barren. Fall is the time to think about maintenance for your home.

 

Now that you have your house and you’re a seasoned homeowner, you’ll know that you’ve got to take care of your house just like you would a child. Yes, that’s correct: just like you would your own child. It’s that important that you maintain your property.

 

I want to talk about some of the tasks that are going to help you maintain the value and integrity of your home as the season changes. Remember, doing these now will prevent more work later on when it’s even chillier.

 

  1. Care for your trees and shrubs. If you have a tree with dead wood in it, you want to make sure that it’s strongly rooted and won’t fall over if we get a heavy snowfall or a bad storm. Take care of what’s surrounding your house.

  2. Rake your leaves. If you get a nice snow cover, you don’t want anything to suffocate your grass. Raking before the snow comes will allow your grass to grow nice and green in the spring.

  3. Clean your gutters and your downspouts. The reason that this is important is that if we do get a freeze, you don’t want the gutters to be weighted down so much that they actually pull away from the property. That could become a problem in the future.

  4. Check your walkways and railings. Make sure these are clear and secure.

  5. Shut off your exterior faucets. I have a side-reeling hose on my house. It had worked fine, but when I went to turn it on, I discovered that where it had been connected had frozen, expanded, and busted. I had to get a new one. So take your hoses down and shut off all the water to the exterior. When you do this, make sure you don’t have any water in the line because that could be an issue.



  6. Check your doors for drafts. If you notice that your doors are a little breezy, put a little bit of weather stripping around the door to help keep that warm air in and keep the cold air out.

  7. Check your safety devices. You don’t want alarms going off for no apparent reason. Now is also a good time to check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are still working. Also, remove any A/C units from your windows.

  8. Clean your dryer vents. As the moisture comes out, the cold could cause the lint to freeze up in there.

  9. Consider an energy audit. You can always have an energy audit conducted through LG&E. They’ll be happy to come out and tell you where you might be wasting some energy.

  10. Consider a plan for your HVAC service. You should try to have your HVAC system serviced once every six months, that way you’ll know that the mechanicals in your house are working well when the cold of winter does eventually settle in.

 

There are a few other things you can do to prepare your home for the cold weather as well.

 

For instance, make sure you seal any gaps around the exterior of your property. That way, you won’t have to deal with mice or other critters inside your home.

 

I also recommend stocking up on winter supplies in case of a major snowstorm. Make sure that your shovels and ice scrapers are in good shape. Pick up a bag of ice melt that is safe for any pets and plants, and restock your emergency kits for your car and your house.

 

If you have a snowblower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.

 

It’s always a good idea to clean your chimney this time of year, too.

 

Finally, take a day to tackle some deep-cleaning tasks that you might have missed during spring cleaning. For instance, in the kitchen, you can clean the oven, wash the walls, and scrub tile grout. A clean home will feel cozy and bright as the days get shorter and darker this season.

 

Like I said earlier, you should treat your house like you would your own baby.

 

As always, if you have any questions or know someone who’s looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate, please don’t keep us a secret. We’re here to help, and we’re always happy to talk to you. Hope to speak with you soon!

Oct. 11, 2017

Meet the Newest Member of The Todd Martin Group

Today I am excited to introduce you to our new buyer’s agent, Michael Kearns. 

 

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As we come into the fourth quarter of 2017, I have some exciting news to share with you.

 

As you know, we are always looking to add services and individuals to our team to help you with your real estate needs. That’s why we recently brought on Michael Kearns as our local buyer’s agent.

 

Michael has an exciting background in the insurance industry and decided to enter real estate.

 

“I am excited to transition from sports insurance into real estate as a buyer’s agent,” says Michael. “Being a part of this team excites me, being a Realtor excites me, and the sky seems to be the limit with this organization. I can’t wait to help you.”

 

A well-defined structure is vital for a successful team. At The Todd Martin Group, we do everything we can to help our agents close more deals than the average agent. Our team is designed to help new agents like Michael hit the ground running and start selling homes.

 

Not only does our real estate team benefit our agents, it also helps you. Since we have a number of specialists, we are able to offer a broader level of service and expertise than an individual agent.

 

 

Individual agents have to juggle paperwork, marketing, lead generation, and more all on their own. We divide up these tasks so that our buyer’s agents can focus on helping buyers and our listing agents can focus on helping sellers.

 

If you have any questions for Michael or you know someone who is interested in buying a home, you can reach him at 502-802-6044 or michael@toddmgroup.com.

 

If you know anyone who is interested in a real estate career, send them our way. Like I said, we are always looking for great new team members to provide a higher level of service to our clients.

 

As always, if you have any questions about the Louisville real estate market, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

Sept. 11, 2017

How Backup Offers Can Help You in a Competitive Market

Multiple offer situations are common in today’s market. If you haven’t won the house of your dreams yet, you may want to consider the backup offer.

 

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Our local real estate market is extremely competitive right now. Multiple offers are very common and buyers are getting frustrated.

 

Unfortunately, buyers often have to make offers on multiple houses before one finally gets accepted and they go under contract. On average, most buyers have to make offers on three to four houses before they actually land a deal.

 

If you’re looking for a particular property or find a house you really like but don’t get accepted, you can always ask your agent to put in a backup offer.

 

When you make a backup offer, it’s important to understand that you need to negotiate the contract as if the seller has not already accepted another buyer’s contract. Pretend that other contract isn’t even there.

 

One of the benefits of the backup offer is that you’ll actually know what the price of the property is and what condition the home is in.

 

The backup offer also puts you in first position if that other contract falls through. Even in a competitive market like ours, buyers can get cold feet. Maybe they don’t like some of the problems uncovered by the inspection support. Maybe the buyer loses a job or gets relocated in the middle of the transaction. Sometimes divorce proceedings can cause a real estate transaction to fall apart.

 

 

There are a number of things that can cause a buyer to back out of a contract. If that happens and you have your backup offer in place, then you are in prime position to purchase the house.

 

Plus, having your backup offer in place gives the seller peace of mind.

 

Backup offers benefit sellers as well. If you accept an offer from an unreasonable buyer, you don’t have to worry as much. You also won’t have to worry about that buyer’s financing falling through because you’ll have another offer on the backburner.

 

If that deal falls apart, you won’t have to go through the frustrating process of relisting your home. When your home comes back on the market after a deal falls through, you are not in as strong as a position as you were before. Some buyers might wonder what’s wrong with the property that caused your initial buyer to walk away, causing you to make less money on your home sale.

 

If you accept a backup offer, then you already know that there is someone ready to step in and purchase your home if your current deal falls apart.

 

In this competitive market, it’s important that you work with an experienced real estate agent who knows about strategies like the backup offer to help you meet your real estate goals.

 

If you have any other questions about backup offers or if you need help navigating this crazy real estate market, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

Posted in Buyer Tips
Aug. 11, 2017

7 Methods for Removing Odors From Your Home

To make sure your home smells great before showing it, try one of these seven tips.

 

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In order to make things smell great in your home before showing it to potential buyers, try one of these seven proven methods:

  

 

 

  1. Mix vinegar and water into laundry detergent and dishwasher fluid to pack an extra deodorizing punch.

  2. Keep baking soda in your refrigerator. It will draw food odors into it and out of your fridge.

  3. Activated charcoal helps remove litter box odors. I’m not talking about grill charcoal, either. This specific type of activated charcoal will keep your kitty box smelling clean.

  4. Fresh-baked cookies always smell great in the home. Everyone loves the aroma of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, so baking some before your showing is a great way to make things smell better in your home. Just don’t burn them!

  5. Use an air freshener, but don’t overdo it. Some buyers may have a sensitivity to these smells, so less is more.

  6. Air freshener nightlights. These are a great option when you want to disguise the air fresheners against the wall.

  7. Dryer sheets in clothing drawers and tennis shoes. They’ll lock in the unwanted smells and leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

 

Getting rid of the stink in the house will help you sell a lot quicker. If you have any questions or you’re looking to buy or sell a home, please give me a call. I’d be happy to help you.

Posted in Seller Tips
Aug. 2, 2017

The 5 Most Difficult Obstacles for First-Time Homebuyers

 Before you buy a home, there are some things you should be aware of. Here are five of them.  

 

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By this point in the year, we are definitely into the hot buying season. If you’re a first-time homebuyer out there, there are five distinct obstacles that you’ll have to face in order to get that home of your dreams. We’re going to talk a little bit about each of them and how you can make sure that these obstacles are no obstacle for you.

 

1. Obtaining a down payment. This is one of the hardest things for first-time homebuyers. Putting down 20% like your parents did is a lot to ask, especially with home prices where they are. The good news is that you have a lot of options. FHA loans only require a 3.5% down payment. I even have some 1% down programs that gift you $8,700 in free money. There are a lot of tips and tricks that I have at my disposal to help make that purchase more affordable for you.

 

2. Maintaining a credit score. It’s very crucial that you maintain a score of at least 620. If you’re not sure what your score is, I can get you a free credit report. If it’s not quite where it needs to be, I can help you get it to where it needs to be.

 

 

3. Understanding front-end and back-end lending ratios. Lenders look for front-end and back-end ratios. For front-end ratios, they typically don’t like to see anything above 33%. They also look at your debt-to-income ratio to ensure that you won’t end up house poor.

 

4. Having a good appraisal. We’re seeing a lot of high-priced offers in the market, but they don’t really mean anything unless the home appraises to at least that value. When a low appraisal comes in, the bank won’t lend the full amount. However, you still have options. You can negotiate with the seller and meet in the middle, or you can reduce your offer to the appraised value. You could also end up paying the difference in cash if it’s the home you really want.

 

5. Satisfying the loan conditions. Most people don’t understand that you aren’t pre-approved until you complete the entire loan process, which typically happens in the last few weeks of purchasing a home. You can get a jump on this process by getting a pre-approval before you even start looking at homes. Then you will know exactly what you can afford and your loan will close within two to three weeks.

 

If you have any questions for me or know anyone looking to buy, sell, or invest in Louisville real estate, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Buyer Tips
July 13, 2017

A Few Do’s and Don’ts for First-Time Homebuyers

 

There are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to buying a home for the very first time.

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When you buy a home, you have to understand that it’s a full-time job. You must clock in daily, do your due diligence, and—most importantly—work with a full-time agent. As a first-time homebuyer, here are a few specific do’s and don’ts you need to be aware of.

Don’t purchase a home in "as-is" condition. Doing this takes away all your ability to negotiate, especially when it comes to repairs, and you may be stuck with something you don’t want. For example, you might be tempted by something that says “pre-foreclosure,” but a pre-foreclosure home is tied up in the court system, and there’s nothing short about that timeframe. You can lose some of your benefits as a first-time homebuyer in this case by not having additional cash.

The same goes for a short sale. A short sale means that the person who owns the house is short. If they owe $150,000 and the house only sells for $100,000, they’re $50,000 short. That can take a lot of time and negotiation, and you can get all the way up to what you think is the closing date only to have the deal fall through. You also want to watch out for bank-owned properties. The only way you want to go after a bank-owned property is if that bank is willing to negotiate repairs.

 

 

Do make sure you work with a full-time agent. This is important enough to mention twice. Here at the Todd Martin Group, we have a full staff who’s constantly looking out for you and making sure great deals get to you before anyone else.

 

Do be prepared. In today’s market, you have to bring your qualifications to the table. You will need your bank note and show proof that you’ve already gone through the pre-approval process. Doing your due diligence will make you a stronger buyer.

 

Though these tips and tricks are geared toward first-time homebuyers, they can also apply to all homebuyers. If you or anyone you know is looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We look forward to talking with you soon.

Posted in Buyer Tips
June 21, 2017

Should You Buy a Home or a Condo?

 

In deciding between buying a condo or a house, there are a few factors you must weigh.

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If you’re deciding whether to buy a home or a condo—maybe because you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re already a homeowner and you want to downsize—there are a couple of things you should consider.

 

First, do you want a traditional condo or are you looking for a patio home? The other factor to consider is whether the condo sits in the condo regime or is it separate. In other words, do you have to pay a monthly fee and what do those fees cover? Did you figure that into your budget?

 

It’s important to remember that a condo will be similar to apartment living. You may have people living on top of you, on either side of you, and/or below you. Is that something you’re willing to live with if you’re downsizing from a home?

 

If you’re a first-time homebuyer and you decide to move into a condo because you don’t want the maintenance of a traditional home, you must remember that there’s usually a maintenance fee affiliated with the condo association. That fee usually takes care of things like the grass, the exterior lighting, and the common areas. It also sometimes takes care of the trash, water, and electric.

 

 

 

 

If you find a condo and it has a monthly fee of $235 to take care of all the things I just mentioned, you could probably take that $235, put it in a jar on a kitchen table, and afford a monthly handyman to take care of your grass, weed your lawn, take care of the maintenance issues, and have enough left over for a house cleaner.

 

If you buy a home through the Todd Martin Group, we can help you negotiate a home warranty. That home warranty is good for an entire year and covers things like the appliances, the electrical, and the plumbing. If, for example, you wake up one day and have a plumbing leak, all you have to do is call a 1-800 number and someone will be sent to fix it for you for a small service fee.

 

We’d be glad to sit down with you and talk over all the considerations you must make when deciding between a home and a condo. If you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Buyer Tips
June 5, 2017

When To Drop The Listing Price of Your Home

How long should you keep your home listed at the current price before you decide to lower it? There are a few things to watch for when making that decision.

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The summer months are upon us, and you’ve listed your house. The question many folks have in this situation is how long should they keep it listed at the current price before they decide to lower it?

 

Once you first put the house on the market, that’s where all the magic happens. It goes out to the Multiple Listing Service and all the public websites, and it’s also when the agents representing the buyers who are looking at your house are making some quick, rational decisions. They’re looking to answer these questions: Is the house overpriced? How’s the condition compared to the photos? Is the house in a good location as determined by their buyers?

 

 

 

 

It’s all about the first impression of your house. In the first few weeks, the first impression is going to be the determining factor into how quickly you sell your home. You want to think about your house as a movie review. When the review first comes out with the movie, people flock to the theater to see the movie. The longer the movie sits in theaters, the less people come to see it.

 

So, when your showings start to decrease, it’s time to drop the price and re-introduce the property to the market. If you have any questions about this or any other topic, please give me a call. I’d be happy to help.

Posted in Home Value
May 11, 2017

Don’t Make These 7 Costly Home-Selling Mistakes

There are seven pitfalls that could cost you the sale of your home. I’ll explore how to avoid them today.

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There are seven pitfalls that could cost you the sale of your home. Here’s how to avoid them:

 

1. Don’t take your own photographs. I understand that you want to show pictures of your house in the snow or with the flowers blooming but unless you are a professional photographer, you should allow your agent (or your agent’s photographer) to go ahead and take the photos for you. They know the angles that buyers are looking for and, since most buyers begin their home search online, they will make sure that your property stands out from the competition.

 

2. Do not try to sell the home yourself. You might want to save some money by not paying commission to an agent, but selling a home is a full-time job.  It would cost you millions of dollars (not to mention a lot of time) to attract the same number of prospective buyers that an agent can bring to your property. Thanks to established networks and marketing strategies, agents are better equipped to sell your home.

 

3. Don’t argue the price with your listing agent. Even though the house across the street sold for an additional $15,000, you don’t know the reason for that. Let your agent help you with the price so that you can lower it as necessary without going above what the market tells you. Plus, your agent can price your home and market it in a way that draws multiple offers, which would increase your sales price.


4. Don’t trust Zillow. The Zestimates that you see on Zillow aren’t always accurate. In fact, they can be off by as much as 15%. Your local agent knows the local market. One reason why Zestimates are inaccurate is they don’t have the same local market knowledge that your agents do. Zillow also has no way of knowing what physical improvements you have made to the property.

 

 

 

 

5. Don’t follow buyers around at showings like a lost puppy. Let them roam. If you are working with an agent and another agent shows the property, that agent is licensed and insured, so everything should be just fine. Plus, buyers feel incredibly uncomfortable when the seller is present at showings. They may not feel free to express their opinion on the home because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Buyer feedback is incredibly important when selling your home.

 

6. If you get a low offer, don’t refuse to negotiate. You can bring those offers up, so don’t get too insulted. One of my sellers got a lowball offer that was $50,000 under the listing price but, after some expert negotiating, we were able to get the buyer and the seller to the table. Put your personal feelings aside and don’t be afraid to play the game.

 

7. Don’t ignore agent recommendations. If your agent recommends putting certain furniture pieces in storage, painting a room, or changing out a light fixture, don’t just brush them off. They know what prospective buyers are looking for. Agents look for ways to freshen up, clean up, or fix up properties in order to help you get top dollar.


If you avoid these seven mistakes, then you should have a successful home sale. If you have any other questions about selling your home or if you would like to know more about our current market, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

Posted in Seller Tips
May 3, 2017

How Do You Know When You’ve Found the Right Home?

How do you know if a house is the right one for you to purchase? Pay attention to these 10 signs.

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Spring has sprung and warm weather is upon us, so it’s time to jump into the buying season. If you are looking for homes right now, how do you know when you’ve found the right house?

 

There are 10 signs you should watch out for:

 

1. You want to go inside the house. When you meet your agent outside the house, you cannot wait to get inside and look around.

 

2. You feel it. Within three seconds of entering the house, you will get a feeling that this is the home for you.

 

3. You’ll start to envision your furniture in the house. Imagining where your couch might go or which room to put the TV in is a sign that this could be the house for you.

 

4. You will see your favorite paint colors on the wall. You can always change wallpaper and paint colors; when you start imagining how the home will look once you live there, that’s a sign it’s the right home for you.


5. The house fits your basic needs. It has the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you’re looking for, the kitchen suits your needs, and you have enough space for you and your family.

 

 

 

 

6. You want to stop looking at homes. That is a big indicator that this house is the one for you.

 

7. You are possessive about the house. If your agent points out small flaws in the home, such as a stain in a sink, you may feel compelled to defend the house.

 

8. You cannot wait to brag about this house. You are excited to show the house to friends and family.

 

9. You can’t stop thinking about the house. In our current market, you can’t afford to delay or sleep on this decision. If you can’t stop thinking about this house and compare it to others, that’s a sign that this house is the one for you.

 

10. You can envision your family living in the house. If you’re imagining which rooms the kids will play in or where you’ll host your big dinner parties, this is the house for you.

 

In today’s market, buyers need to act fast. If you notice any of these signs, talk to your agent about making an offer. Of course, the house needs to be in the location you want and have the floor plan that works best for you; you can change the paint or move some furniture, but there are some things you cannot change about a house.

 

If you have any other questions about buying a home in today’s market, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

Posted in Buyer Tips