Claire LeBlanc - REALTY EXECUTIVES



Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 2/20/2019

The function and safety of your home can be increased tremendously when you change some specific indoor and outdoor items on time. To automate the process, simply make sure these six home improvement tasks are added to your calendar, to remind you of whatever necessary home updates you need to carry out.

1. CO2 and Smoke Detectors

While CO2 detectors last up to seven years, smoke detectors can last up to 10 years. Properly functioning smoke detectors can significantly increase your chances of surviving a house fire by as much as 50 percent. While you replace these devices regularly, you should also remember to change the batteries in both detectors at least once a year.

2. Fire Extinguisher

If you use a rechargeable fire extinguisher, it can serve you for as long as six years. Disposable fire extinguishers, on the other hand, have a have a shelf life of 12 years. Always check the pressure gauges of your fire extinguishers at least once monthly to ensure that they still work and that they remain charged or full. Replace the extinguishers as required.

3. Water Filters

Your refrigerator's water filters should be replaced twice a year while you should change that of your portable water pitcher every two months or after 40 gallons of use, whichever comes first, while that of the total house system should be changed every four to six months to reduce your exposure to harmful bacteria and chemicals.

4. Washing Machine

If well cleaned and maintained correctly, your washing machine should last between eight to twelve years. You may carry out routine maintenance tasks such as changing the door gasket or tightening water connections behind the unit to prevent leaks. The need to balance the machine may also arise, or if it makes extreme noise, a replacement of the motor mount.

5. Dishwasher

A good dishwasher can last as long as ten years if it's regularly cleaned and maintained. If you would like to save on your energy and water bills, you should consider replacing your dishwasher around year eight after purchase. 

6. Clothes Dryer

You should switch out your entire dryer once every eight to 10 years. But before then, you can replace any faulty parts such as the drive belt, drum roller, blower wheel, and heating element when it needed. The dryer vent should also be cleaned after each use to improve the dryer’s effectiveness.

Simply set reminders for all these tasks and watch the process become a lot easier for you.




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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 2/13/2019

If you intend to buy a house in the foreseeable future, it pays to prepare. That way, you can enter the real estate market as an "extraordinary" homebuyer, i.e. someone who knows exactly what it takes to find a great house at an outstanding price.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help any homebuyer go from ordinary to extraordinary.

1. Learn the Ins and Outs of the Housing Sector

The real estate market is complex, particularly for someone who is pursuing a house for the first time. Fortunately, plenty of housing market data is available that can help you gain the insights that you need to make an informed home purchase.

Take a look at homes that are currently available in your city or town. By doing so, you can better understand the prices of houses that match your expectations. Then, you can tailor your home search accordingly.

Furthermore, don't forget to assess the prices of recently sold residences in your area. This housing market data will help you determine whether you're about to enter a real estate market that favors buyers or sellers.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about your mortgage options – you'll be glad you did. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can begin your home search with a budget in hand, thereby reducing the temptation to spend too much on a house.

Lenders are happy to provide you with information about a broad range of mortgage options. Also, if you ever have mortgage questions, lenders employ friendly, professionally trained mortgage specialists who are ready to respond to your queries.

In addition, it usually is a good idea to evaluate your credit score prior to applying for a mortgage.

You can obtain a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you review your credit report closely, you can identify and resolve any potential credit problems and increase the likelihood that you can obtain a favorable mortgage.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to becoming an extraordinary homebuyer, it is important to note that it can be difficult for even the most diligent homebuyer to succeed on his or her own. However, if you employ an expert real estate agent, you can streamline the process of acquiring your dream residence.

A real estate agent is committed to your homebuying success, and as such, will do everything possible to help you find the perfect residence.

Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. This housing market professional will even help you alleviate homebuying stress and ensure that you can quickly go from homebuyer to homeowner.

Ready to embark on the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can become an extraordinary homebuyer in no time at all.




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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 2/6/2019

If your home has lingered on the real estate market for many months, there is no need to worry. Revisit your home selling strategy, and you can find innovative ways to promote your house to the right groups of buyers.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you revamp your home selling strategy.

1. Consider the Homebuyer's Perspective

One of the reasons why your house might have failed to generate interest from homebuyers is you have not effectively accounted for the buyer's perspective. Fortunately, now is a great time to take a fresh approach to highlight your home to dozens of prospective buyers.

Think about why you bought your house in the first place. Then, you may be better equipped than ever before to prioritize home upgrades and ensure your residence matches or exceeds buyers' expectations.

Furthermore, it may be beneficial to cut down on clutter inside your house. Because if you have a clutter-free home, you can make it easy for buyers to envision what life may be like if they purchase your residence.

2. Assess Your House Listing

A home listing is important, particularly for a seller who wants to stir up significant interest from buyers. If at first your home listing misses the mark with buyers, you can always revise it as needed.

Ensure all of the information included in your home listing is accurate and up to date. That way, you can help buyers make an informed decision about your residence.

In addition, include high-resolution photographs in your home listing. With top-notch photographs incorporated into your home listing, homebuyers can view each room of your house at their convenience. Plus, these photographs may help you differentiate your residence from other available houses.

3. Reinvent Your Home's Curb Appeal

Curb appeal can make a world of difference in any housing market, at any time. If you enhance your house's curb appeal, you may be able to move one step closer to selling your house.

Trim the hedges, mow the lawn and perform other home exterior improvements as soon as possible. Also, if you need assistance with home exterior upgrades, you can always reach out to landscapers and other home improvement professionals for support.

Hiring a great real estate agent may help you streamline the home selling journey too. In fact, a real estate agent who understands the ins and outs of the housing market can offer lots of guidance as you sell your home.

A great real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events, negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf and help you prepare for a home closing. And if you ever have concerns or questions along the home selling journey, a real estate agent is available to respond to them.

Accelerate the home selling journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you can rework your home selling strategy and boost the likelihood of a fast, profitable home sale.




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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 1/30/2019

It can be difficult to find the extra savings to put towards your first home as a renter. With rent and utility prices rising, most people’s paychecks are leaving them with less and less savings at the end of the month.

Buying your first home, however, can be a great long-term financial decision. It will help you build equity, and, eventually, you’ll be able to use that equity toward another home or toward retiring.

In today’s post, we’ll talk about some of the ways to save for a down payment while renting an apartment.

How much to save

In order to make the most of your first home purchase, you’ll want to save up as much of a down payment as possible. This will help you receive the lowest interest rate and reduce the amount you’ll pay toward interest.

If you can manage to save 20% of the loan, you’ll also be able to waive private mortgage insurance (PMI), that would otherwise set you back around $100 per month or more.

Smart ways to save while renting

If you’re ready to get serious about saving for your first down payment, let’s talk about the best way to approach your savings plan.

Pay off small debts

If you’ve had that lingering credit card debt that you’ve never quite paid off, now is the time. Take a look at your current debts. Pay off the smaller balances first and focus on debt with the highest interest rate.

This will enable you to start making larger deposits toward your down payment savings sooner and can help you avoid needlessly paying interest on small loans and credit card debt.

Open a dedicated account or CD

The best way to make sure you contribute to your down payment savings plan is to open a savings account or take out a CD (certificate of deposit).

A savings account with a high-interest return is a good option for people who are worried that they may need to access their funds before they’re ready to buy a home.

If you’re comfortable with not being able to access your funds until a set date, then a CD could help you save more money.

Since CDs are a one-time payment, many people choose to combine both CDs and high-interest savings accounts to achieve their savings goals.

Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to shop around for the highest interest rate. Online banks tend to have higher rates than traditional banks and are also easy to sign up for.

Direct deposit a portion of your pay

Opening a bank account or CD won’t do you any good if you don’t commit to contributing to it. If you are paid via direct deposit, visit your HR office and ask them to reassign a portion of your weekly pay to your new account.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to better prepare for your down payment. Don’t  wait! The sooner you start saving, the sooner you’ll be able to purchase your first home.





Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 1/23/2019

When it comes to finding your dream home, your vision is going to be both unique and personal.

For many people, their idea of a dream home may be a composite of the home they grew up in and other mental snapshots they accumulated over the years.

In some cases, the house of your dreams may bear little or no resemblance to the image you conjured up in your mind. Sometimes, you just instinctively know the right home when you see it -- even if it's not exactly the one you originally envisioned.

A good starting point for launching your home search is to develop a detailed priority list. It should consist of both "must have" characteristics and "wish list" items. Hopefully, you and your spouse (or partner) will be in full agreement on most of the important features of your next home, such as whether you want a ranch house or colonial. Being on the same page in terms of location can also make a big difference in how satisfied you both are with your real estate purchase. As an example: Someone's going to less than thrilled if, let's say, you want a townhouse in the city, while your spouse has their heart set on a Craftsman-style home in the suburbs!

Trends in Home-Buying Preferences

If you're a member of the so-called "millennial" generation, your top priority in a new home would probably be the quality of the neighborhood. That's according to a "Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report" (2015) compiled by the National Association of Realtors. In order of importance, factors influencing home purchasing choices are: the convenience of the home to one's job(s), overall affordability, access to friends and family, and the quality of schools in the district.

Many buyers in that same demographic are also leaning toward homes that are energy efficient, ones that offer "smart home" capabilities, and dwellings that include a space that can be used as a home office. Since nearly 40% of Americans telecommute for their jobs on at least a part-time basis, more and more home buyers are adding that requirement to their priority lists. Surveys have also shown that prospective homeowners in their twenties and thirties are opting for low-maintenance surfaces, such as flooring, counter tops, and backyard decks. Updated interiors are also a strong preference for many in that age group since they don't have the extra money, time, or inclination to get involved in major renovation projects.

Other factors which belong on house-hunting priority lists include square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the yard. If privacy and noise levels are concerns, then key factors to consider would be fencing, trees and hedges, and the amount of space between houses.

While it's not always possible to find a home that includes every single item on your wish list, an experienced real estate agent can help you find what you want and match your requirements with the available listings in your desired neighborhoods.