GREATER PITTSBURGH REAL ESTATE INFORMATION

Greater Pittsburgh PA Real Estate Blog by Trish Holt, Realtor

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents seem to grow on trees. Everyone can list off a few agents from their cousin to the “nice lady” they talk to at the local coffee shop. But choosing the right agent is a critical element to having a successful transaction. Experience and expertise vary widely from agent to agent, so how can you choose the right person for your needs?

• Ask for Referrals – Yes, everyone knows an agent, but asking someone with a recent transaction is the best way to find a good agent.

• Do Your Research – Fortunately the Internet makes it very easy to do some research. Check local sites like Yelp or Next Door, move around their website and check their license for complaints.

• Interview Several Options – Make them earn your business. Conduct a real interview with several agents and see who best fits your style.

• Ask the Right Questions – The agents should be able to discuss their marketing plan for a home sale and offer their process for home buyers, including lenders, home inspectors and escrow.

Remember that the right agent is not always the one who tells you what you want to hear. Listen carefully for how they answer your questions. Make sure you can work with them and have an “opt out” clause in any contract, just in case.

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Top 7 Winter DIY Projects

Top 7 Winter DIY Projects

Winter months bring cold days and long nights. While you wait for the weather to warm up so you can get out into the garden, there are still plenty of great DIY projects to tackle, even in the winter. Here are 7 terrific ideas for the Do it Yourselfer in you.

1. Paint Your Walls – Paint an accent wall or an entire room with a fresh color.

2. Declutter – Sure this sounds like a fancy name for house cleaning, but decluttering is more than that. Remove excess furnishings to make your rooms seem larger and more inviting.

3. Update Your Kitchen –A new backsplash or cabinet pulls can quickly change the look and feel of your kitchen.

4. Add Insulation – This will provide instant satisfaction as those cold, drafty rooms feel warm and cozy. If you have some real skill, you can include changing out old windows or doors as well.

5. Smarten Up – This is a great time to automate your home with Smart devices. Add security cameras, a smart thermostat or smart lights and plugs.

6. Build Something – For the handy, winter months are a great time to add cabinets, a TV hutch or bookshelves to your home.

7. Re-Grout Your Tile – From kitchen counters to floors, re-grouting can freshen up the room.

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Paint Colors that Reduce Stress

5 Paint Colors That Reduce Stress

In this hectic, modern world coming home to a relaxing space has become even more important. Creating a space which allows you and your family to renew their energy in a calm, peaceful environment is easier than you might think. The design colors you choose do more than anything else to create the atmosphere you want, and nothing is easier to change than your paint colors.

Here are 5 paint colors that reduce stress:

1. Blue – Blue is often used in bedrooms and is shown to reduce tension.

2. Violet – Not the vibrant purple, but subtle lavender hues can bring an inner balance and sense of peace.

3. Green – Reflecting the natural environment of the outdoors, green is visually soothing and refreshing.

4. Grey – One of the best new neutrals, a cooling grey shade is easy on the eye and creates the illusion of larger space.

5. Pink – Long hailed by Feng Shui experts as an energy color, pink provides a lovely backdrop for a bright space.

Our homes serve as the center of our personal lives. With our busy schedules, coming home should be relaxing and regenerating. Changing the feel of our homes is as simple as a weekend painting project.

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Tips for the First-Time Home Seller

Tips for the First-Time Home Seller

There is a lot of attention paid to first-time homebuyers. Most real estate agents and lenders have some kind of guide to help first-time homebuyers navigate their first home purchase, but what about the first-time seller?

Selling your home for the first time can be just as confusing as a home purchase, so here are a few things to remember as you navigate your home sale.

Before that first showing, it’s important to prepare. This involves not only cleaning, decluttering, and staging the home, but also learning about your local real estate market and finding the best agent for your needs.

Interview more than one agent and ask lots of questions. Learn about the services they offer: do they include professional photography, video, or virtual tours? Ask for a comprehensive market analysis (CMA) and ask each agent their suggestion for the listing price and their method for arriving at that number. Use this information to determine the best agent to assist you.

Once you have an agent, stay involved. Discuss the plan for showings and open houses. Try and be flexible to allow for as many potential buyers as possible viewing your property. Review the listing online for accuracy and stay in touch with your agent for feedback from showings.

Once you start getting offers, respond as quickly as possible. It’s not just about the price; watch for terms, such as length of escrow and contingencies, when evaluating these offers. Be prepared to move so that you can take advantage of a good offer, such as all-cash.

The most important aspect of a successful home sale is the relationship you have with your agent. Be transparent about your needs, concerns, and goals; insist that your agent...

5 Refinancing Mistakes to Avoid

5 Refinancing Mistakes to Avoid

Mortgage interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in years and perhaps you’re wondering if it’s time to refinance your loan. Lenders advertising their refinancing services make it sound as easy as filling out a form and paying less each month. While refinancing does not need to be complicated, here are 5 common mistakes that could cost you thousands of dollars over the course of the loan. Refinancing can be a great experience if you can avoid making these mistakes.

1. Not Shopping Around – Not all loans are structured the same. It’s important to compare your options. Even loans with the same interest rate can have different costs, fees, and terms.

2. Shopping for Too Long – Interest rates change quickly and, in this volatile market, it’s possible to lose a great interest rate by looking for too long. Consider getting three different loan options at the same time and choosing the best option out of those three to work with.

3. Adding Years to Repayment – Interest rates are not the only consideration in deciding to refinance. If you are 7 years into a 30-year loan, restarting the clock with a new 30-year loan can cost you thousands of dollars. Never refinance with a longer term than your current status.

4. Not Considering Your Job Stability – The pandemic has created instability in the job market; consider your employment situation carefully before using precious savings for loan costs. Additionally, if you are moving from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, your payment might go up. Make sure you have the income to comfortably pay that increase each month.

5. Assuming Your Credit is Great – Before looking for a refinance, check your credit score and make any adjustments before you get a surprise at closing. This is a great time to reduce your mortgage interest rate, while rates are low. Consider all the aspects of the refinance offer first...

Tips to Save Energy and Add Value

When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.

1. Begin with a Right-Sized Home.

If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset. 

2. Purchase Energy Star Appliances Such as Your TV, Dishwasher, Washer and Dryer, and Microwave.

And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges. 

3. Install Efficient Lighting Such as Compact Fluorescent (CLF) or LED Bulbs in Every Fixture.

Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.

4. Get an Energy Audit and Have Tests Performed to Identify Ways of Improving Your Efficiency.

You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors  and the seals or weather stripping around them. Visit energy.gov/energytips for more tips.

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