Tips for Selling Your House (Part II) | First Preston HT

20150417rs.bigstock-Happy-Mixed-Race-Couple-in-Fro-80861894Part I of this blog post from the First Preston HT team focused on how to help increase the value of a house through maintenance, landscaping and lite remodeling before selling it.

In Part II, we address the choices a seller has when putting their home up for sale and other things to consider before it hits the market.  First Preston HT knows buying and selling a house will be one of the largest financial decisions a person makes in their lifetime and we want to help you feel knowledgeable about this topic to enable you make educated decisions.

  1. Hire an Agent or Sell It Yourself – A real estate agent can handle the marketing of a property and also determine the best selling price of a house. However, this service doesn’t come free and will cost around 5-6% of the selling price.  Selling the property yourself will save the commission but the seller may miss out on the experience and added services that a real estate agent brings to the table.  First Preston HT offers a great option that avoids the high commission charges while still providing some of the assistance and experience of an agent for a flat fee.
  1. Pre-listing Inspection – Opting to have a home pre-inspected before listing can save lots of time by identifying potential problems with the house that a buyer would later find during the inspection period. This allows the seller a chance to fix them before listing the house to hopefully make the closing process seamless and easy.
  1. Set a Price – It’s important the seller decide whether they want to sell quickly or wait for the best offer. A real estate agent can provide a market analysis to help in this step.  If the seller doesn’t have an agent, they can look at comparable real estate listings in the area to help determine a price.  An appraiser could also be hired to complete an analysis of the house.
  1. 20150417rs.bigstock-Living-Room-With-Lighting-Scon-6459101Get it Ready to Show – This includes cleaning and tidying the house as well as staging to make it look appealing to potential buyers. It can be hard to keep the home looking clean for potential showings, especially with kids and toys, but it is an important tip that might help get the house sold quickly.

First Preston HT hopes this information leaves you feeling well-informed about the several options and choices available when listing a home for sale.  For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Spring Cleaning Checklist | First Preston HT

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds,Whether you look forward to Spring Cleaning with excitement each year or dread thinking about, it’s time to dust of your gloves, and grab a spray bottle for Spring Cleaning with the First Preston HT team!  For homeowners and renters alike, it’s important to keep your home free from built up dirt and dust.  Taking the time to Spring Clean can not only de-clutter your home but your mind as well once it is finished.

The list of chores to complete can seem daunting for many, especial for those with tight schedules.  If your time limited and you might want to hire a house cleaning service to take care of all the dirty work for you.  For those who are more money conscientious or just like to tackle D.I.Y. projects, Maratha Stewart provides this great Spring Cleaning Checklist for your convenience.  Her list guides you through each room of most homes and I have provided a few favorites below.

Housewife holding bucket with cleaning equipment on color backgrThe Kitchen: Dust refrigerator coils – Make sure to turn off power at the power source. Coils are usually located at the bottom of the refrigerator, under the grill. Clean coils with the crevice attachment of a vacuum or a specialty refrigerator-coil brush.  Defrost the freezer – Turn off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Empty out the freezer’s contents and then wipe the interior clean with a mixture of 2 tablespoons baking soda per 1 quart hot water.

The Bathrooms: Discard expired cosmetics and beauty products - Place these items in a trash bag and keep it out of reach from children and animals.  Update FIRST-AID KIT – In addition to bandages and ointments, the kit should contain a list of emergency numbers, particularly the one of the nearest poison-control center.

A Genuine Box of used items ready for a garage sale, Yard Sale,The Closets: Replace cool -weather clothing with warm -weather clothing – Clean garments before storing them in zippered sweater or blanket bags to keep moths out.  Donate apparel you no longer use - Various charities are more than happy to take old clothing off your hands and may even send a truck to pick it up. Be sure to ask for a receipt for tax purposes.

Outdoor Spaces: Clean Porch Ceilings and Walls – Sweep out cobwebs and debris with a broom, and wash walls with an all-purpose cleaner and water using a polyester sponge.  Scrub decks, patios, driveways, and walkways - Treat mildew spots with a combination of 1 part oxygen bleach to 3 parts water and use a deck brush.  Wash outdoor furniture – Most materials, including aluminum, plastic, wood, and wicker, can handle a solution of mild dish-washing liquid and water and a soft-bristle brush.  Inspect light fixtures - Wash covers and check for damaged connections and wires.

The entire checklist is quite thorough so it might be helpful to divided the list up by room and spread out the Spring Cleaning over a few weekends.  First Preston HT wishes you happy spring cleaning! For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Tips for Selling Your House | First Preston HT

20150330rs.bigstock-Cozy-house-with-beautiful-land-84075557First Preston HT knows that deciding to put your house on the market can be a daunting task.  There is a lot that usually needs to be done before potential buyers come for a tour.  It’s a great time to be a seller in this housing market.  If you are selling, that means you’re most likely buying too and don’t want to over spend on getting your property looking its best for listing.  Making some smaller updates to your home can help you bring a higher selling price without making a large dent on your wallet.  So how can you squeeze the most value out of your home?  Here are a few tips from First Preston HT.

  1. Create more space by knocking out a non-load bearing wall. Buyers want wide open floor plans that make the house feel more spacious.    This will cost you around $2,500 but can really make a big impact on the selling price.  If you just moved into a home with a closed off floor plan, it might be a good idea to go ahead and do this so you can enjoy the benefits a more open floor plan before selling it years later.  If it’s a load bearing wall that will have to be knocked out, this will cost you more around the $10,000 range.
  2. Prune, trim back limbs and landscape your home to make it look more appealing. Landscaping is one of the top three investments that can bring the biggest return when looking to sell your house.  Spending around $400-500 on this can reap returns of four times your investment.  Consider the type of climate you live in and choose plants, trees, bushes, and flowers that will thrive without requiring a lot of extra maintenance.
  3. 20150330rs.bigstock-Man-Caulking-Window-6193157Don’t put off maintenance or repairs that your home is in need of.  This can greatly affect the value of your property when inspectors are evaluating it’s condition.  Make sure water drips are repaired, fix leaky windows, and replace rusty rain gutters.  Keep up with this type maintenance on a yearly basis so these repairs don’t build up and turn into bigger issues down the road.
  4. 20150330rs.bigstock-Living-Room-With-Stone-Firepla-6882470Update the floors. Hardwoods have been popular over the past several years as people are tearing up old carpets.  This update doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either.  Spending an extra $600-$900 on updated floors and can increases your home value by $2,000.  Hardwood surfaces are easier to keep clean and don’t trap dirt or stain like most carpet can.  Other types of hard surfaces that homeowners are installing include concrete, tile, bamboo and laminate.
  5. Update those bathrooms. This also can be done inexpensively by updating the sink and shower hardware.  Try using metal fixtures as mentioned in last week’s blog post for a trendy vibe.  Deep clean the shower, apply fresh caulk where needed and get rid of the frosted glass shower door with clear glass for a more updated look.
  6. Repaint and touch-up walls. While a lot of homebuyers will change the paint colors after they purchase a home to fit their color scheme, walls with chips or marks from wear and tear leave your home looking unkempt.  Fix paint chips or scratches with left over stored paint.  If you have any walls painted a bold color like red, blue or yellow, repaint these to a neutral tone.  Bold colors can have a negative impact on potential homebuyers that might not share the same taste in décor.

As home buying and selling season is around the corner, First Preston HT hopes you find these tips helpful if you are planning to sell your house soon.  For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Home Décor Trends from First Preston HT

Spring is officially here and it’s time to give your home a fresh update in addition to a deep spring cleaning.  Your home should reflect your personality and also be a retreat from your busy day-to-day life.  If you come home to a dull, cluttered space it can keep you from relaxing and enjoying those quite moments from the hustle and bustle.  Here are some top 2015 home decor trends from First Preston HT to help spruce up you home.

20150323b.bigstock-Side-Table-and-classy-lamp-44510758Go for the Gold!  Swap old stainless steel kitchen or bathroom fixtures for those with gold or bronze finishes.  This will instantly update the room with a touch of luxury and sophistication.  This decor trend can spill into the bedrooms and living room by updating table or floor lamps that feature gold metal bases, drawer knobs and cabinet pulls, gold brushed picture frames or accessories.  You can even mix metals of gold and silver for a polished look.  Keep in mind these shouldn’t over power the room but add a nice finishing touch.

Wallpaper has made a huge comeback and it’s not that drab floral pattern you are imagining from the 80’s or 90’s.  Top design companies are creating really bright, bold, fun prints that can really add pizzazz to rooms both large and small.  Aside from prints and colors that pack a punch, textured wallpaper is also becoming popular and can add to the room’s overall ambiance.  Don’t think you have to paper the whole room; choosing just one wall can be enough to achieve the look you are going for without over doing it.
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The Deep Blue – decorating with blue accents has become really popular lately.  This color has many different shades.   Blue tends to be a calming color and can add drama when painted on the walls of a room.  This could be a good color choice for guest bedrooms, or the master bedroom.  Think of adding pops of this color in unsuspecting ways: royal blue chandelier, sapphire glass coffee table, navy suede sofa,  or sea blue floor rugs.

You don’t have to implement a total overhaul to reap the benefits of a fresh space either.  Switching out accent pillows, duvet covers and sheets, flowers, and accessories can make a huge impact while making not a huge an impact on your wallet.

These are just a few trends in decor this year brought to you by First Preston HT.  We hope you get inspired to update your space in a way that leaves you feeling at home.   For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Luck of the Irish Recipes From First Preston HT

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the most widely known patron saint of Ireland. However, most of us think of green beer, parades and the luck of the Irish.  Whether you are hosting a party or attending one, here are some St. Patrick’s Day recipes from First Preston HT.

First-Preston-HTIf you are looking for an easy, healthy spread, you’re in luck.  Try this Ombre Veggie Tray featuring some of my favorite crunchy greens.  Whip up some Pesto Hummus to serve with the veggies and some pita chips.

For those with a sweet tooth, bake up these Guinness Chocolate Brownies that will be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Looking for something a little lighter and green in color?  Check out this Key Lime Pie that was featured on Oprah.

No St. Patty’s Day is complete without the green beer which requires few drops of green food coloring to your favorite beer.  If you’re out of luck and don’t have any food coloring on hand, just enjoy the Guinness that’s left over from the Guinness brownies.  Most importantly, don’t forget to wear green!

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Hopefully you enjoy these holiday recipes from First Preston HT. For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Down Payment – Why Size Matters

House and Money with Pad of Paper and PenWhether you are a first-time home buyer or a seasoned vet, a down payment is typically required by the lender.  The amount required can range between 3-20% of the final sales price on the property.  So how much should you put down and what will that mean for your monthly mortgage payments?

A larger down payment can benefit you in several ways.  As the size of a down payment increases, the overall monthly amount due will decrease because less money is borrowed.  The size of the down payment will also determine the types of mortgages you are eligible to apply for.  For example, if you are only able to put down 5% you will be limited in the loans you qualify for as well as the number of banks that will loan to you.  Additionally, a higher interest rate might apply.

There are several mortgage calculators available online that calculate the monthly mortgage payment based off the price of the home, interest rate and down payment amount, like this one on Zillow.

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Fitness: Out with the Old in with the New

workoutIf you are interested in changing your workout regimen to stay motivated and engaged, there is no shortage of new classes or workouts that promise to keep you on your toes and make your heart pound.  Last year Cross Fit was the rage but here are some new fitness trends to check out:

  • Body Weight Training: This includes exercises that don’t need gym equipment and therefore can be done anywhere.  Think lunges, squats, push-ups and burpees.
  • Barre Class:  This total body workout combines ballet, yoga, and Pilates and can be less intimidating than high intensity boot camps.  Barre studios are popping up all over the country like Pure Barre and and Barre3 (which also offer virtual classes online).
  • Spin Class:  Widely popular last year, it continues to still is hot.  This indoor cycling fitness class promises to torch calories and incorporate some light weights as well.  My favorite studio is Soul Cycle but check out Fly Wheel too.
  • HIITs: This stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is similar to a fitness boot camp or a P90x workout.  You go really hard for a set time on a specific exercise and then have a short recovery after which you repeat.  This will get your metabolic rate up and tone muscles.
  • Short Workouts: This is a broad term but similar to HIITs.  It focuses on getting the maximum calorie burn and toning by working out anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes at a time.  This is great for people with limited time to work out.

What’s your favorite workout or class?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Valentine’s Day Fun Facts

AA92QxKValentine’s Day is a holiday for love, romance, flowers and candy.  Every year thousands celebrate this time to show appreciation and affection for their loved ones, just as they did this past weekend.  Here are a few Valentine’s Day fun facts that you might not know regarding this recent Hallmark holiday.

 

  • The holiday got its name from the Christian Martyr, Saint Valentine and dates back to the 5th century
  • By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine’s Day became common in England which eventually spread to America
  • Over 75% of candy sales for Valentine’s Day are comprised of chocolate confections
  • The famous conversation hearts, Sweethearts, were first made by the New England Confectionery Company in 1866 and every year 10 new conversation-heart sayings are created
  • Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the most popular holiday for greeting cards; it is the second coming in behind Christmas
  • Richard Cadbury, in 1868, introduced the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates

Did you enjoy your Valentine’s Day?  Let me know if you received something special!

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Winning at The Big Game Commercials

The ‘Big Game’ did not disappoint this year with the over play and with it being a tight game.  The Patriots won against the Seahawks 28 – 24 with the win being attributed to one of the worst play-calls in all of Big Game history.  Aside from the game itself, I enjoyed some tasty football fare to snack on while watching the most expensive commercials, reported to cost be 4.5 million per 30-seconds, that had the expectation to entertain and provide a wow factor.  I was disappointed in general with most of the adds not being exceedingly memorable or engaging.

downloadMy favorite was the Budweiser commercial, “Lost Dog,” featuring the cute puppy that finds its way back home to his owner after almost being devoured by a wolf only to be saved by his friends, the famous Clydesdale horses.  This commercial also trended highly with male and female audience members alike making it the overall top rated commercial.  The Always brand had an inspiring add, “Like a Girl,” which emphasized the importance of giving young girls the confidence to do amazing things in life.

What was your favorite commercial this year?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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Super Food for The Big Game

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI look forward to watching the commercials every year during the Big Game and sure I love watching the game too but the creativity in those ads is at its best.  However you can’t have a Big Game party without great food and drinks.  In the spirit of staying healthy and eating clean I have shared below some of my favorite game day foods with a fresh spin.

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Wings are a staple for the Big Game party but can be really high in calories.  Try this lighter version which still packs all the flavor, Cauliflower Buffalo Wings.  If it’s nachos you crave, these Grilled Sweet Potato Nachos come fully loaded but you can add your favorite toppings and give them your own twist.  To top off the nachos, make this delicious vegan queso for a dairy-free rendition.  Your guests won’t be able to tell the difference.

Spicy-Black-Bean-Sliders-with-Chipotle-Mayo-2For a heartier fare that can stand alone as an entrée or large appetizer, I love to make sliders, which are mini-sized burgers.  These Spicy Black Bean Sliders with Chipotle Mayo will make any super bowl fan cheer.  If you are hosting any guests that adhere to a gluten-free diet, this Cheesy Black Bean and Quinoa Taco Bake makes a great main dish.

In the spirit of football and the Big Game Sunday, I recommend enjoy what you serve as well as the company you have!

What are your favorite Big Game Foods?

For information on effective ways to manage institutional and individual portfolios nationwide, or to shop for real estate visit First Preston HT. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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