Michelle Gillespie - Keller Williams Realty



Posted by Michelle Gillespie on 5/27/2018

An open house can be a life-changing event for a homebuyer. If you plan ahead for an open house, you should have no trouble determining whether a residence matches or exceeds your expectations. And if the answer is "Yes," you can proceed quickly to submit a competitive offer to acquire a house.

What does it take to prep for an open house? Here are three open house preparation tips that every homebuyer needs to know.

1. Understand Your Budget

Before you attend an open house, you should find out how much money is at your disposal. Thus, you may want to meet with banks and credit unions to see if you can get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you can kick off your home search with a budget in hand.

Although you know that you have only a certain amount of money to spend on a residence, it may be worthwhile to consider attending open houses for residences with initial asking prices that are above your price range. Because in some instances, a home seller may be willing to accept an offer that falls below his or her initial asking price.

2. Create a List of Questions

A home is one of the biggest purchases that a person can make, and as such, it pays to be diligent. If you craft a list of questions before an open house, you can get immediate responses from the showing agent. Then, you can determine the best course of action.

When it comes to an open house, there is no such thing as a "bad" question. As a homebuyer, it is paramount to get as much information as possible about a residence to determine whether a house is right for you. Therefore, if you create a list of questions in advance, you can improve your chances of getting the most out of an open house.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you're uncertain about how to approach an open house, you're not alone. Fortunately, real estate agents are available nationwide who are happy to teach you the ins and outs of the real estate market. By doing so, these housing market professionals will make it easy to take an informed approach to any open house, at any time.

A real estate agent will always keep you up to date about new residences as they become available. Also, if you are interested in homes in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will notify you about open houses in this area. And if you need extra help prepping for an open house, a real estate agent is happy to assist you in any way possible.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will help you submit an offer on a house, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and much more.

Be diligent as you get ready for an open house Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can fully prepare for an open house.





Posted by Michelle Gillespie on 5/20/2018

When youíre searching for a home, perhaps the price of the house isnít as important as the overall affordability of the neighborhood itself. While you have a long wish list of what you want for your property, if you search by neighborhood in order to help you fit your budget, your search may be much easier and help you turn up with a more affordable house.


Look At The Price


This seems obvious, but we mean that you should go a bit deeper. The list price of a home and reality could be two very different things. A house could be underpriced or overpriced based on the surrounding properties in the neighborhood. If you do a little research, youíll be able to see what the going price for similar style homes is in the area and make a judgement based on that information. 


Donít Stick To One Neighborhood


You should take a peek around and look outside of the certain neighborhood that you find to be the most desirable. If you look just a few streets away, you could find out that the prices are better and the benefits of the area are the same. 


Youíll choose your neighborhood based on what youíre looking for in your lifestyle. If you prefer to go out to eat, youíll need to know what types of restaurants are nearby. If you like to walk in the park, being close to parks and recreation is of course important to you. 


Know The Phrase Up-And-Coming


This description of a neighborhood can sometimes seem like a bit of a reach, but many times it turns out to be true. Once undesirable neighborhoods may become the place people want to be after a certain amount of time. The problem with this is that no one can be sure as to exactly how long this will take. Potential warnings for properties described as being in an up-and-coming neighborhood would be:


  • Thereís low sales in the area
  • The value of the properties has actually been decreasing
  • Thereís little access to grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment


Overall, use your judgement when it comes to whatís described as a neighborhood waiting to be gentrified. You could buy your own piece of gold, or you could be on the search for a dud.


Check Your Commute Times


Match the cost of different homes that youíre looking at with the reality of the commute times that you and your family are facing. How far are the kids from school? Will you be closer to work? Will it cost you more to get to and from work in the new location? While your commute costs arenít exactly directly correlated with real estate, itís definitely a part of your regular budget. You also donít want to add a lot of time to your work commute if you can help it. 


These tips should help you to make an informed decision about what neighborhood to buy a home in that will be the most cost-effective for you.





Posted by Michelle Gillespie on 5/13/2018

As a homebuyer, you want to prepare as much as possible when you start looking at houses. By doing so, you'll be able to fully evaluate a residence based on your personal wants and needs and ensure you can find your dream house quickly and easily. However, there are many under-the-radar factors that homebuyers must consider when they check out a house, including: 1. Homeowners Association If you're evaluating condos, you should learn about the homeowners association (HOA) that manages the property. This will allow you to review HOA fees, how the HOA operates and other factors that may influence your decision to buy a home. Typically, it is simple to discover all you need to know about an HOA. To do so, you can work with a real estate agent who should be able to provide information about an HOA. Also, you can always contact an HOA directly and receive all the information you need without delay. 2. TV, Cable and Internet Service Providers Do you work from home and require a high-speed internet connection to complete your day-to-day tasks? Or, do you want to ensure you can get your favorite TV channels at all times? Regardless of your individual needs, you'll want to check out the TV, cable and internet service providers available in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This will enable you to find out if these local providers can meet your needs consistently. In addition, you should consider cell phone connectivity in an area, as this will allow you to determine if your cell service provider ensures you can enjoy clear calls in a particular city or town. 3. Attractions and Landmarks Do you enjoy spending a day at the park, checking out historic landmarks or going to concerts? No matter which activities you enjoy, it is essential to learn about the entertainment options near a home you may purchase. For instance, if a concert venue is close to a residence, it may affect nearby traffic patterns as concert-goers travel to and from this destination. Conversely, if you want a house that allows you to separate from the everyday hustle and bustle of the city, you may want to evaluate residences that are located many miles away from popular attractions and landmarks. 4. Walking Paths If you like to stay active, you'll surely want to find a house that features a wide range of safe walking paths that you can use every day. Whether it's going for a morning jog or simply enjoying a jaunt with your dog, you may be able to improve your chances of remaining active and healthy if you purchase a home with multiple walking paths nearby. Of course, a real estate agent can help you explore a vast array of homes in cities and towns nationwide. This professional will learn about your home preferences and allow you to streamline your search for the perfect house as well. Consider the aforementioned factors as you prepare to search for houses, and ultimately, you'll be better equipped to make a more informed home purchase.





Posted by Michelle Gillespie on 5/6/2018

For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.

In this article, weíre going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.

Use a Budgeting Tool

The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term ďbudgetĒ and get nervous thinking theyíll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.

From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.

With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances,  there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.

Set up a dedicated savings account

Speaking of savings accounts--now is a great time to set up a new one. Itís almost always free to open a new account with your bank. Whatís more, itís a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when itís labeled something like ďHOUSE SAVINGS - DO NOT TOUCH.Ē

Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, itís time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.

Cutting Monthly Expenses

Rather than telling yourself you canít buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (donít torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.

A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.

For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you donít use as much as you used to.

If youíre worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.

When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them youíre thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. Theyíll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they donít, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.





Posted by Michelle Gillespie on 4/8/2018

Shopping for a home is an exciting time for any hopeful homeowner. After weeks of scouring listings looking for the perfect home in the ideal location for you and your family, it can seem like youíve found the needle in the haystack.

When itís time to go visit that home, itís easy to put on rose-colored lenses and overlook issues that should, at the very least, be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not you should make a bid on the home and how much you should offer.

Todayís post is all about preparing you for that first viewing. Weíll give you tips on what to look out for and how to factor these things into your equation when it comes to making an offer.

Check the listing for omissions

Even if a home looks perfect on paper (or on its website listing), itís still quite likely that there are things youíll want to know about before considering an offer. A home listing should attempt to address several questions you might have. But ultimately, itís main goal is to attract interest in the home.

So, what type of things should be in the listing that the seller might leave out?

  • Poor street conditions, heavy traffic, and blind driveways are all things that will factor into your decision but most likely wonít be mentioned in a listing

  • Odors of any kind can be off-putting and difficult to remove. Some homeowners may not even know that their home has an offensive odor if theyíve become used to it.

  • Room omissions. If the home is listed as having two bathrooms but there are only photos of one, this could be a sign that there are problems with the second bathroom that the seller doesnít want you to see quite yet.

Top dollar home repairs

A professional home inspection will be able to give you an idea of the kind of money youíll need to spend on renovations in the coming years. But why wait? When touring a home, ask questions about the last time important renovations and repairs were made.

Roofs, septic systems, and electrical work are just a few of the things that are expensive to repair or replace. If the previous homeowner has a small family or lives alone and you plan on moving in with a houseful of kids, you might find that your impact on the septic and electrical systems of the home are too much for the house to handle. Youíll want to take this into account before considering a bid on the home.

Utility costs

The cost of heating a home in the winter and keeping it cool in the summer can be hefty if the home isnít properly sealed and weatherproofed. Ask the current homeowner what they spend per month on utilities to get an idea of what you might be spending.

Then, take a look at the windows and doors. Cracks, malfunctioning locks, and worn weatherstripping are all signs that the home will need some work to be energy-efficient.

Donít ignore the little things

Small fixes may not seem like a big deal when viewing a home. They can even deceive you into thinking that youíre getting a good deal by buying a fixer-upper for a price thatís lower than the market average.

However, itís important to keep in mind that small fixes around the house are a sign that bigger problems are also being neglected. Donít be too quick to assume the house will be a good deal before getting it professionally inspected.




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