Moving with a Pet Bird

Moving with Birds

Moving with birds can be quite a challenge. If you have a feathered friend, follow these tips if you’re preparing for a move.

Preparing

Before you start the moving process, visit your vet. You will need to obtain certain documents for the move. If you are moving to a new state, you may need new documents or vaccines. You should also discuss with your vet the best ways to keep your bird safe and healthy during the relocation process. This may include stress-reducing and immunity boosting vitamins, probiotics or other supplements in your bird’s diet that you can include in your bird’s diet for a couple of weeks before you move. You may also want to ask about ways to quickly adjust your pet to their new surroundings.

Traveling in a car

The first thing you should do when traveling by car is to make the cage safe for travel. Remove any toys or swings in addition to the water and food receptacles. There shouldn’t be anything that can accidentally fall or shift inside the cage and hurt your bird. Use tie wraps on all the sides and the door of the cage as extra protection to secure the cage to the backseat. Never place a cage over a box or some other item, as the cage can easily fall over.

You want your bird to be comfortable when you’re traveling to your new abode. Cover the cage with a lightweight cloth or blanket to provide your security. You may also want to consider using glare guards to protect your bird from direct sunlight. Leave air-conditioning running, as birds are sensitive to temperature changes. Juicy fruit and vegetables keep your bird hydrated throughout the journey. If you are traveling a long distance, plan stops to give your bird proper food and water. Additionally, if you have to stay in a hotel, make sure you can bring your pet to the hotel with you.

Traveling by plane

If you need to travel by plane, you will need a hard-plastic kennel cab. Look for one that is designed to prevent risks during flight and turbulence. The perch should be installed near the bottom, so no injury will be caused if the bird falls from the perch. The carrier should also not be large enough that your bird would try to fly, as this can cause injury. Encourage your bird to sleep in the carrier a few times before the flight so they get accustomed to it. This will reduce their anxiety levels throughout the journey.

Line the bottom of the carrier with paper and seed to provide bedding and food for the duration of the flight. Just as if you were traveling by car, juicy fruit can be placed in the carrier for a source of food and hydration. When flying, label the carrier appropriately and choose a direct flight, avoiding weekend days and major holidays, as these flights are typically more crowded. Insurance may also be necessary when traveling by plane with your bird.

Getting settled

When in your new home, place your bird’s cage in a room away from the noise of unloading and unpacking. If your bird is plucking at their feathers more than usual, visit the vet as the bird may still be on a stress overload from the move.

 

Your Home’s Value and Your Neighbors

How Your Neighbors Affect Your Home Value

When selling your home, one thing that affects whether you can sell your home and how fast you can sell your home is your home’s value. Most people know that a home’s value can be affected by your home, but did you know that your neighbor’s home can also affect your home’s value? Here are four things about your neighbor or your neighbor’s home that can affect your home’s value.

  1. Physical problems

The curb appeal of your neighbor’s home is almost as important as the curb appeal of your home. Any visible signs of disrepair or damage can turn off any potential home buyers from visiting your property. The more damage to your neighbor’s home and yard, the more impact it has on your home’s value. If you are in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association (HOA), there are most likely guidelines that each homeowner must follow. If a neighbor isn’t following the guidelines, you can report them to the local HOA and they will handle the situation.

  1. Financial problems

A single foreclosure on the same street as your house can affect your home’s value. Delinquent neighbors can also hike up prices of homeowner’s association fees. Finally, if you live in a condo, neighbors who don’t pay maintenance fees can affect your unit’s value.

  1. Legal problems

Your home value is greatly affected by the record of your neighbors. Many communities keep a list of registered sex offenders that is open for public inspection. If you end up with one of these people as your neighbor, it can not only make your home value drop significantly, but it can also take you longer to sell your home. Your home’s value will also decrease if your neighbor has been convicted of any crimes.

  1. Miscellaneous problems

Your neighbor might just be a nuisance. Common problems include neighbors who frequently make noise or have loud parties. Living near any closed-down or vacant businesses or other buildings can also affect your home value, as well as living near loud nightclubs, landfills, or other undesirable businesses and/or facilities.

Writing an Offer Letter

Real Estate Offer Letters

An offer letter is a legal document used by a buyer who wants to place a bid on a house that is for sale. You want the seller to feel positive about you after reading your letter. To make your offer letter the best it can be, follow these seven tips.

  1. Make a connection

You want to make the seller identify with you and your family, so search for something you and the seller have in common. This can be anything from you sharing the same line of work to noticing something similar in their house to yours. During the home viewing, pay close attention to the details so you can make the connection later.

  1. Short and sweet

No one is going to want to read pages and pages of story. Keep it short and sweet, focusing on two or three reasons why you are the best buyer for the home. Try and keep the letter down to a single page.

  1. Keep it positive

Keep the information you put into your letter positive. Don’t focus on the other homes you’ve lost out on. In the worst-case scenario, this can make the seller wonder why you have been having trouble buying a home and make them pass on you.

  1. Emotion

Don’t be afraid to show an emotional attachment to the home. In your offer letter, talk about how you can see your kids playing in the backyard or see your family cooking Sunday dinner together.

  1. Don’t talk about remodeling

Odds are the sellers still have an emotional attachment to at least some part of their home. Remodeling plans will ultimately change something that a seller might love dearly. Keep your plans to yourself.

  1. Wrap it up

Finish your offer letter with a short paragraph that reinforces what you talked about in your previous paragraphs. Show appreciation for the seller’s time and the opportunity to write a letter.

  1. Proofread

Always assume that your seller is a stickler for grammar. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Additionally, look for things that a spell check might not detect, such as different variations of there, your, and its. After looking it over once, have a friend or family member to review it for you. A fresh eye might catch something that you might have looked over.

Seven Home Staging Mistakes

Home Staging Mistakes

Home staging is the act of preparing a home for sale. The goal of staging is to make the home appealing to several potential buyers, helping the home sell faster and for more money. Home staging is an essential part of the home selling process. However, it’s possible for staging to go wrong. Here are seven things to avoid when staging your home.

  1. Beat up or ugly furnishings and décor

Great staging starts with choosing furniture that shows off the home in the best light possible. This includes placing the furniture optimally. Older or beat up furniture can take away from the overall look of the home. If you have older furniture, you may want to consider renting furniture from a home staging company.

  1. Distracting themes and scenes

Home staging helps potential buyers see their new lives. To do so, stagers will often set up scenes to help the vision along, such as a set dining room table or a home office. However, sometimes the scenes can get out of hand. Make sure that the staging makes sense, not only for a home but for where you live. A beach scene with beach décors such as a beach ball, umbrella, and seashells don’t make sense in a Midwest home.

  1. Not clean or clutter-free

It can be challenging to keep a home clean at all times if you’re still living in the home while you’re showing it. Little messes can be distracting for potential buyers, especially if they’re the only spots in the room that has a mess. Even if your home is well staged, these bits of clutter can instantly turn off a buyer.

  1. Using fake everything

You want to make your home feel lived in, so the buyer can picture their life in their new home. However, you shouldn’t convey this message with fake items. Fake fruit or anything inflatable (such as a mattress) can make the home feel not real. It reinforces an idea that the home isn’t real and isn’t a possibility for them to move into.

  1. Not staging to scale

Sellers obviously want their home to seem as spacious as possible. However, you shouldn’t do this by using smaller, lightweight items. In fact, these items can make a room seem smaller. Instead, make sure your furniture and accessories match the room in scale. If you’re still worried about the room looking small, there are plenty of ways to make a small room look larger.

  1. Keeping doors closed

A potential buyer should be able to move through a home without thinking. Many times, a buyer will pass over a staircase to the basement or an upper level because they assumed the closed door was to a closet.

  1. Exterior vs. interior

Both the inside of a home and the outside are important to the sale. One should not overcome the other. Make sure that you pay as much attention to the outside as you do the inside. After all, the outside of your home is what the buyer will make their first impressions of the home on, so it’s important your curb appeal is just as good as the staging inside.

Pricing Your Home for Sale

How to Price Your Home

The most important factor when selling a home is pricing the home. An overpriced home won’t get attention and will lose its freshness in the first two or three weeks. After twenty-one days on the market, interest in a home wanes. Pricing a home too low shouldn’t be too much of a worry. Typically, lower-priced homes will receive multiple offers, which will drive the price up to market price. To properly price your home, here are five factors you should consider.

  1. Comparable listings

To start, list every similar home that was or is listed in your neighborhood over the last three months, within a fourth to half a mile from your home. If you live in an area where there are only a few comparable homes or the property is rural, you can extend this distance. Pay attention to dividing lines, such as major streets or railroads. Don’t compare any homes on different sides of the dividing line.

Compare homes with a similar square footage to yours and ones with similar ages. It’s possible that you can have a home built in 1950 next to a home built in 1990, and the home value will differ between the two.

  1. Sold comparables

Compare the original listing price to the final sales price to see if there were any price reductions. Additionally, compare the final sale price to the actual sold price to determine ratios. Adjust your pricing for house size, configuration, and any additional amenities the home may or may not have.

  1. Pending sales

The sales price for pending sales is unknown until the transaction closes. However, you can call the listing agent and ask for the price. Some listing agents may tell you what the home is selling for. You should also take note of how long the home has been on the market. This can give you an indication of how long your home will stay on market.

  1. Withdrawn and/or expired listings

Why didn’t these homes sell? Look for patterns to see if there was something underlying for all of them or if it was individual reasons concerning the home. If the sellers used a cheap brokerage firm, that could be a sign that the firm didn’t spend the money to advertise their home and you should mark not to use that firm.

  1. Market trends

What is the market trend? In a seller’s market, you should be able to price your home higher than the last comparable sale, since there are less inventory and more buyers. In a balanced market, try setting your price at what the last comparable home sold for. In a buyer’s market, you may want to price your home a little lower, since there are more inventory and fewer buyers.

What is a Luxury Home?

Luxury Homes

During your real estate search, you may have come across the term “luxury” or maybe you’ve been watching a lot of Million Dollar Listings. Either way, the term luxury seems to appear a lot, but what exactly does “luxury” mean?

What makes a home luxury?

In real estate listings, luxury is all about the details. If there’s nothing to back up the word luxury in the home’s description, this is a red flag. This usually means the agent is just aspiring for the property to be luxury rather than it actually being luxury. Here are some qualities you can look for to determine whether a property is luxury.

  1. Price

The lowest price you can expect for a luxury home can be anywhere between $500,000 and $3 million. In some hot markets, such as New York City, the lower end of luxury falls around $4 million.

  1. Location

The phrase “location, location, location” is especially true in the case of luxury properties. Luxury properties tend to be in the most highly coveted locations in a city, state, or county. Be that because of a beach or mountain view, nearby the town center, or overlooking the cityscape.

  1. Quality

Standard construction materials, finishes, appliances, and design won’t fly for luxury properties. Materials such as marble, hardwood, crystal and professional-grade kitchen appliances are featured often in luxury properties. Another marking of quality comes from who designed the building. Renowned architects bring a sense of prestige that other buildings don’t have.

  1. Amenities

Amenities such as concierge services, fitness centers, movie theatres, arcade rooms, and more all make a home luxury.

  1. Privacy

Many high-end buyers want their home to be a true escape. Privacy is a huge concern for most of these buyers. Features such as a large yard, high walls, and gated entrances with security guards all provide extra privacy and protection for these buyers.

Seven Questions to Ask When Purchasing a Flipped House

Flipped House Questions

If you’ve ever watched HGTV, chances are you know what it means when someone says a home has been flipped. For those that don’t, a flipped house is one bought at a discount either because of the property’s condition or the seller’s need to move quickly. The investor then makes any necessary repairs or renovations and puts it back on the market for a higher price than they bought it for, reflecting the work they put into the house. If you are thinking about purchasing a flipped house, here are some questions you should ask before purchasing.

  1. Do you get a home warranty?

Although a flipped house typically has new appliances, it doesn’t mean it has a new water heater, air conditioner, and furnace. Ask if the home will come with a home warranty. A home warranty is typically written for a year at a time and can help you save a lot of money if something breaks during that time. You can renew the warranty by paying for it yourself during your second year in the home.

  1. Did the flippers have the right permits?

Ask if you can see the permits that the flippers used to update the house. This will help you ensure that the home is up to any safety codes and standards. You can also have an inspector check the property to make sure that the wiring is up to code and all changes were done correctly and safely.

  1. What do the disclosures say?

If your state is a “full disclosure” state, the seller must disclose any defects of the property or anything that could influence the buyer’s decision. Ask your real estate agent to get a history of all the sales on the property. Look at how many times it has been sold, who owned it before the flippers, how long they owned it, and why they moved. After, look at the disclosures for any possible red flags.

  1. What has been replaced and renovated?

Have your real estate agents to get a list of things that were repaired or replaced. While viewing the home, pay attention to the small details, such as crown molding or the tiling. If these aren’t done correctly, chances are that the flippers may have skimped out on the larger issues that will cost you money later.

  1. How old are the windows and doors?

Look at the windows and doors. Make sure that the windows can open and close easily. In addition, make sure that the doors can be closed fully and can properly lock.

  1. What about the basement?

If there is a basement, make sure to look at it. If it smells moist, it’s possible that flippers just painted to cover up any mold and moisture. A dip in the basement floor can be a sign of water protrusion. Before purchasing, make sure to have a radon test done.

  1. What about the outside?

The outside is equally as important as the inside of a home. Check to see if the fence is in good condition. If there is a pool, make sure to have it inspected as well. You may have to get a separate inspector to do this. Any issues related to the pool can be costly to fix.

What to Do If You Get a Low Appraisal

Low Appraisal

An appraisal is an estimation of a home’s value. But what happens when an appraisal comes in under the home’s selling price? Here’s how to deal with a low appraisal.

Why do low appraisals happen?

The first thing you must ask yourself is why the home appraised for less than the home’s sale price. There are a number of reasons why this may occur. Some of the most common are:

  • Declining market values due to fewer buyers and a larger inventory of homes
  • Incorrect evaluation by the underwriter
  • Overpricing by the seller
  • Fallout from a lot of foreclosures and/or short sales in the neighborhood
  • Inexperienced appraiser who doesn’t understand local influence on value
  • Artificially inflated prices, resulting from multiple offers

Solutions for low appraisals

After you figure out why your appraisal may have been lower than expected, it’s time to think of ways to solve your problem.

  1. The seller can lower the price

If the home was overpriced, the seller can lower the price. This is often the best solution to a low appraisal problem. It’s an easy way to satisfy both the buyer and the lender. The seller doesn’t need to lower the price. However, there is no guarantee the new buyer’s lender will appraise the home higher than the first buyer. Additionally, the seller will have to go through the trouble to sell the property again, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

  1. Buyers can make up the difference

A low appraisal does not mean that a lender won’t lend to a buyer. The lender will just lend based on the agreed-upon ratio in the contract at the appraised value. Buyers can make up the difference in a cash payment. In some cases, the lender will not allow the buyer to give cash for the difference. In this event, the lender will have the buyer pay part of the seller’s closing costs.

  1. Sellers can offer a second mortgage

If the buyer cannot come up with the money to pay off the difference, the seller can offer to take out a second mortgage, which the buyer will pay back in smaller payments or in one lump sum at a later date.

  1. Ask for a list of comps

Ask agents involved to put a list together including recent comparable sales in the area at the agreed-to sale price. Once you have the list together, submit it to the underwriter and ask for a review of the appraisal. Try to get comps that are similar to the property in question.

  1. Order a second appraisal

If your loan in an FHA loan, you can ask your lender for a list of approved appraisers. Either the seller or buyer can pay for the second appraisal. The second appraisal may come in higher than the first, especially if the first appraiser was inexperienced. If your loan is a conventional loan, the second appraisal is subject to the rules of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct.

Home Inspection Mistakes Buyers Make

Home Inspection Mistakes

A home inspection is an essential step in the home buying process that shouldn’t be overlooked or rushed. Here are some common mistakes buyers might make during the home inspection process.

  1. Not getting an inspection

Most people know to get an inspection when buying a home from another person. However, many buyers tend to skip an inspection when they are buying a new construction. No home is completely devoid of issues, even new constructions. You should also consider extra inspections needed for your property, should it include things that are not included in a normal inspection. This includes pools, septic systems, wells, or other issues.

  1. Choosing the cheapest option

Be wary of home inspectors with extremely low prices. These low prices could indicate that the inspector is new and doesn’t have experience. It could also mean that they are having trouble finding clients. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t go with a cheaper option. Do your research on possible companies to find out who is the best option for you.

  1. Not being present

An inspector must report on everything and compose a detailed report with pictures. However, it is important to also be present during the inspection. This way, you are able to hear the inspector’s comments directly and can ask the inspector any questions you have.

  1. Being too involved

However, it is possible to be too involved. If you spend the time talking to the inspector too much, it may distract them from the inspection, and cause them to miss something.

  1. Expecting a perfect report

Every home has flaws. In fact, an inspection can uncover as many as 50 to 100 deficiencies. Be prepared to get a list of things that may need to be repaired. Make sure to ask questions about the magnitude of each issue, so you know which items to repair first.

  1. Focusing on the wrong things

Negotiations can be made in the purchase price of the home to include repairs on what the report reveals. However, you shouldn’t include every issue to your negotiation price. Sellers are more receptive to a reasonable list of demands, so stick to things that are significant issues, such as problems with the roof, foundation, or HVAC system.

  1. Not getting reinspected

Once the negotiated repairs have been completed, you should have another inspection. Many times, all negotiated repairs will not actually be completed. Having a follow-up inspection will give you peace of mind that everything is functioning properly.

Six Ways to Meet Your New Neighbors

Meet Your Neighbors

Moving into a new neighborhood can be difficult. In addition to moving in all your stuff, getting to know your neighbors might be one of the most important steps of moving. If you don’t know how to make the first step, here are six ways to get you started on meeting your new neighbors.

  1. Knock on the door

Knocking on the door is one of the simplest ways to meet your new neighbor. However, timing is important. Try not to go during dinnertime or when kids normally get put to bed. Instead, try to catch them when they’re outside or try for a weekend afternoon when it isn’t likely there is much going on.

  1. Handwritten letter

If you’re not one to knock on doors, try writing out a note and leaving it in your new neighbor’s mailbox. You can introduce yourself, give some contact information, and invite them over for a cup of coffee to get to know each other better!

  1. Bus stop

If you have school-aged children, walk them to the bus stop the first few days of school. You’ll most likely run into other parents. They can tell you about any neighborhood and school happenings. Exchange contact information and schedule a playdate for the kids and coffee for the adults.

  1. Plan a movie night

A movie night works particularly well for a neighborhood filled with families. Invite everyone over for a family-friendly movie, pop some popcorn, and get some “movie-theatre boxes” of candy. Everyone can settle in for some laughs and conversation after the movie is over.

  1. Plan a cocktail party

For a more adult night, consider planning a cocktail party. Serve a couple different wines or beers. Have juice or soda available for those who don’t drink. In addition to the drinks, have some cheese, crackers, and maybe a few other appetizers available for people to nibble on.

  1. Drop off some fresh baked goods

This is the tried-and-true method to get to know your neighbors! Bake a batch of cookies, brownies, or whatever your specialty is and bring it over to your neighbors. This is a great way to make a great first impression.