- Melissa Kellerman
Buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience without the security of a trusted REALTOR in your corner.
Choose me to be your trusted REALTOR.
I will guide you through every step of this rewarding process with professionalism and dedication. My attention to detail, strong communication and 100% effort will deliver the results you deserve. It is my mission to build lasting relationships and earn repeat referrals. The key to this is providing my clients with personalized service before, during and after every transaction. I am here to help you with all of your real estate needs.
Feel free to call or email me anytime!
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
There is nothing quite as frightening in the mortgage process as learning that your credit report contains some late payment you made in college or some mistake from a phone company that happened a decade ago.
Luckily, most errors and negative items can be taken care of and eliminated; and when it comes to buying a home, you will need to get your credit cleaned up so you can qualify for that low interest loan.
“Your credit score is the basic decider regarding your capability to attain loans, ideally on much lower interest rates,” says Greg Tilley, from a credit repair agency in Colorado. “Put simply, the higher your credit score is, the higher your chances are of being permitted to get a loan and/or credit. In the case of a low credit score, you may find yourself in an ‘extreme-risk’ classification which means lenders will be reluctant to offer you any sort of financial assistance.”
According to credit counselors, there are approximately 43 million people in the United States with credit blemishes severe enough to make obtaining home loans with reasonable terms difficult.
“There are things that can be done, regardless of whether it is a mistake or an actual failed payment on your part,” says Anna Rodriguez, of an Arizona-based credit information center. “The important thing is not to panic, get ready to plead your case and be courteous when talking to the people who have the power to make the changes.”
The simplest thing to do if you’ve missed a payment and have it on your record is to call the creditor and ask them politely to erase the negative listing. You can also do this with a well thought-out letter. There is no guarantee that a lender will do this, but if you’ve been a good customer through the years, this method has proven to be successful.
“You can also get a collection agency to agree to remove a debt from your report if you pay it,” Tilley says. “This method is called ‘pay for delete’ and it works great on smaller amounts of $500 and under, especially medical collections.”
It is advisable to get the agreement in writing before you pay them though, and only send a money order after you get them to agree.
If you are one of the millions who have defaulted on a student loan you can enter into a “rehab program,” which will get your account back on track after 12 months. This may not be the quick fix that someone buying a house needs, but the sooner you do this the better.
For disputing something that was not your fault, you can try disputing the account with the credit bureaus as “not mine.”
“The older and smaller a collection account, the more likely the collection agency wouldn’t have bothered to update the correct information and the credit bureau won’t be able to match up computer records,” Rodriguez says. “This is a great way to clear blemishes.”
A quick fix that some people use to boost their credit score is to have an older family member with a great credit rating add you as an authorized user on one of their old credit cards. This could help your score increase dramatically and you wouldn’t even need to have the card in your possession.
With more loans requiring higher credit scores today, it’s never too early to start fixing those problems.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
"You'd be surprised at what a difference you can make without spending a lot of money," says Tom Humpal, a broker/owner in Rockford, Ill. "It's always the little things that make a big difference when you're showing your home."
Homeowners who want their residences to sell quickly need to make sure that their single-family homes and condominiums are priced right and show well. Their homes need to be top-of-mind with buyers no matter how many residences were seen that day. Buyers look for homes that are clean, bright, roomy and warm. Here are five easy ways homeowners can give their residences these attributes without spending much money.
1. The wonders of paint. You might be surprised at the difference that a fresh coat of paint can make. For $100, homeowners won't be able to paint all the rooms in their homes, but they will be able to spot paint. And that can turn a formerly drab room into one with plenty of style.
Rachel Hausman, a sales associate in Buffalo Grove, Ill., recommends that homeowners purchase a five-gallon bucket of white paint. They can then use this paint to color the trim in their living rooms, kitchens, dens and hallways. The white trim makes a home's walls pop more vividly, Hausman says. She does warn homeowners against choosing colors such as grey or blue. These are colder colors, which sometimes work against a home’s appeal.
"Warmer colors tend to make homes show better," says Hausman. "A nice warm beige or ivory can make a home seem warm and comfortable. Buyers react well to such colors."
2. First impressions matter. One hundred dollars can help a home make a strong first impression on buyers. The sellers just have to spend that money on the home's front door. A front door with peeling or chipped paint can instantly create a negative impression. Buyers who see a fading front door might wonder what other features the home's owner is neglecting.
It costs far less than $100 for homeowners to apply a fresh coat of paint to their front doors. And, it costs nothing to make sure that front entrances are swept free of old leaves and debris.
3. Curb appeal. Many buyers today pre-screen the homes that might interest them. They'll look them up on the Web and then spend an afternoon driving past them, scratching homes off their list if they don't like what they see. What causes potential buyers to eliminate homes from their lists? More often than not, lawns that haven’t been mowed, overgrown bushes and a general lack of curb appeal.
Putting at least a little money into your front yard is always a good idea. Such an investment can result in a big payoff. By planting flowers and shrubs, adding flower pots and baskets to front porches and mowing the lawn, homeowners can create a front yard that entices buyers. In today's market, that's an important advantage.
4. Bring in the cleaning pros. Nothing turns off potential buyers more quickly, and thoroughly, then dirty carpets, dusty ceiling fan blades, murky windows and sticky counter tops. Buyers who see a home that isn't even clean for its showing tend to question the commitment that homeowners have made to maintaining their residences.
Depending on the job, a professional cleaning service might be the way to go, easily affordable for $100 or less, to give the homes a thorough scrubbing before it is placed on the market. Cleaning service professionals will tend to the areas of a home that owners often forget as they prepare their homes for showing.
5. Focus on the first room. Homeowners should pay particularly close attention to the first room that potential buyers will see when they tour a house. For many homes, this will be a living room. It is also encouraged that owners add new pillows to couches and wrap love seats and chairs in up-to-date fabrics.
Focus on the small details in the rooms buyers will be spending the most time, and as always, remove as much clutter as possible to make rooms look open, large and airy. Homeowners should make sure that all the light bulbs in their rooms are working and turned on to create bright and comfortable spaces. If living room, kitchen or bedroom walls have dents or holes in them, invest the small amount of money and time it takes to patch those dings.
"People may say they don't want to put money into their homes in order to sell them," Hausman says. "But, you can either drop your asking price to get buyers to walk in the front door or spend a little money to make sure your home shows as nicely as possible and draws buyers in."
Saturday, July 23, 2011
"As a remodeling enthusiast, I personally understand a homeowner's desire to tackle projects on their own. The feeling of pride that results from improving your own home is a wonderful sense of accomplishment, but it's also important to know your limits," says Power Home Remodeling Group co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Kaliner. "Some home improvement projects can be complex and benefit from a professional's expertise, such as window and siding installation, electrical wiring and plumbing. If such projects go awry, it could end up causing the homeowner quite a headache or additional costs that could have been prevented by consulting a professional."
The following tips and resources will assist homeowners in making the decision when not to DIY.
• Do you have the time? This important question can easily aid your decision to complete a home improvement project. Take an honest evaluation of the time you can allot to the project. Diving into a project on a weekend without a realistic timeline can leave your house in shambles for weeks as you complete the project in your spare time.
• Do you have the right tools? Window, siding and door installation projects require very specialized, expensive tools to produce a quality result. Cutting corners with improvised tools will produce a less-than-stellar final product that can negatively affect the home's resale value. Less obvious tools such as permits, licenses and insurance are required to complete several projects. Without these, homeowners could face fines or zoning issues that can affect their taxes.
• Do you have the experience? For homeowners, their home is typically their biggest investment. Projects that change a home's structural integrity, energy efficiency and even visual appeal can drastically change its value. Before investing time and money in trial and error, homeowners should consider calling a professional to guarantee a high quality result.
Simpler projects such as landscaping, painting and shelving are great do-it-yourself opportunities for homeowners looking to save money. Green projects like 'upcycling' a piece of old furniture or caulking a leaky drain can also satisfy a desire to DIY on a smaller scale. These projects can be completed with less risk of doing any major damage to the home. Botched projects can even jeopardize the homeowner's ability to sell down the road. For homeowners who aren't sure whether a DIY project is right for them, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers a short quiz that can help make the decision easier.
Kaliner added, "Homeowners should also consider starting with a smaller DIY project that won't take a lot of time, they can see to completion, gain some confidence and get a better understanding of what's involved for future home improvement projects."
For more information, please visit PowerHRG.com.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Anybody can toss a few items out in the driveway and pronounce a garage sale in progress, but if you want to maximize the effort and profit from proffering your possessions, much like a real estate deal, you’ve got to set the stage. GetRichSlowly.org has some great advice on prepping for that all important day of the sale:
1. Be clear on the purpose of your sale. Are you selling things to make money or to get rid of them? This question affects everything you do, from how you price things, to how willing you may be to negotiate. Surprisingly, you can often make more money (and get rid of more junk) by pricing things low. If your goal is to get top dollar, you should really be selling on eBay or Craigslist.
2. Advertise. Stick an ad in the newspaper. Put up a notice on Craigslist. Post simple, effective signs around the neighborhood. It’s best to use big bold text like “HUGE SALE” with an arrow pointing the right direction. Make sure your sign is readable.
3. Get cash for change. Get a roll of quarters, a stack of twenty-five $1 bills, and a few $5 bills. Do this two days before the sale, so that if you forget, you can still get the change the day before.
4. Prepare your staging area. People will be more inclined to stop if you set up shop in your yard or driveway. Some people are reluctant to enter a dark and dreary garage. Make your sale inviting and easy to browse. You can lure customers by placing highly-desirable items near the road.
5. Think like a customer. As soon as you’ve opened and fielded the initial flood of shoppers, walk through your sale as if you were there to buy something. How does it feel? Are things clearly marked? Is it easy to move around? Are your books on the ground in boxes? Or are they placed neatly on shelves or tables?
6. Display items to their advantage. Be sure to properly display items and make sure everything has its own place. For example, if you have a lot of books to get rid of, take the time to set up a few bookshelves so that people can clearly see what you have to offer.
7. Play background music. Break the silence with a little background music. While some people might find it uncomfortable to visit a garage sale when there’s complete silence, playing some background music might help. Be sure to pick something that is appropriate for your audience.
8. Promote expensive items. Big-ticket items can be tough to sell, but you can do it with a little extra effort. For example, print out a website page from a business still selling the item that shows the original retail price and all the features.
9. Make it easy for shoppers to test electronic items. If you’re selling electrical items, make sure you have an extension cord handy so that people can test them. No smart person is going to just take your word that your television “works great.” Also, have some batteries on hand so a prospective buyer can test hand-held electronics.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
A good rule of thumb is to compare the cost of each. If replacing your fridge will cost you more than half the price of buying a new one, you're better off taking the plunge and purchasing anew. If the replacement will only cost a couple hundred dollars or less and your refrigerator isn't too old, replacing will be the better bet.
Side-by-side fridge/freezer combos with icemakers attached are more than twice as repair prone as top-or-bottom freezer models without an icemaker. The repair rate for side-by-side refrigerators with an icemaker is 36%; the rate for top-and-bottom freezers with an icemaker was 28%; and the rate for top-and-bottom freezers without an ice maker is 15%.
Always remember, the age and configuration of your refrigerator should always be taken into consideration. Generally, built-in fridges are worth repairing; side-by-sides should be considered repairable within five years; Bottom-freezers should be repaired within seven years; top-freezers should be repaired within three years and replaced if they are older than seven years.
Although replacing an entire appliance is an expense that no homeowner is ever ready for, there is a benefit to replacement. When shopping for a new fridge, find a model that uses less energy than older ones, particularly one that is Energy Star qualified. This will help you save on your monthly utility bills and assist your transition into becoming a green household.
For more information about repairing or replacing a fridge, visit consumerreports.org.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
1. Homes can provide an excellent return on investment (ROI). Although historic annual home appreciation rates are modest, the purchase is usually highly leveraged. If you put 10% down, a modest 3% annual increase in your home’s value represents a 30% ROI.
2. There are many opportunities to gain sweat equity. For example, a well landscaped home can be worth thousands more than a home with a barren landscape. You don’t have to spend that much to get such a return. Buy a shovel and a bunch of small $5-$20 shrubs and trees, and wait a few years. Do your own remodeling (or some of the finish work, such as painting and trim) and those projects can add more to your home’s value than they cost.
3. A landlord can (and will) raise your rent, but a lender can’t raise your mortgage interest rate (assuming that it is a fixed rate mortgage).
4. Many people pay off their mortgage by the time they retire. With no more mortgage payments, they are able to live comfortably on modest retirement income sources. The equity is also transferrable—many homeowners who move to different locales after retirement simply roll the equity from their old home into a paid-off retirement home. A lifelong renter may well have paid more in aggregate for housing over their career, but they will still have to pay rent and many find that this additional expense severely cramps their retirement lifestyle.
5. Most owner-occupied neighborhoods have a sense of community that results from a relatively stable set of residents. That rarely happens in rental environments, where the residents of the neighboring apartments may come and go before you even meet them.
Key to a smart decision on whether or not to buy a home now is research into your current market outlook. There is plenty of research data on the Internet regarding the likely market direction of your area. Experienced real estate agents can also provide very useful local market insight.
For more information, visit http://www.americanhomeowners.org/.