Flexibility is the Key to Quick Sale

When selling your home, it's important to understand that your life will be temporarily inconvenienced. Nobody enjoys having strangers traipse through their home on a regular basis, but it's important to put your need for peace and privacy on hold while your home is for sale.

When an agent – yours as well as others – calls wishing to bring a buyer to see the home at the last minute, respond favorably, even if it means postponing that brunch you were hosting or your Friday night stay-in pizza and movie tradition.

Remember, your goal is to get the home sold, and that can only be accomplished if people get to see it. Flexibility is the key to a quick sale.

It's best to plan not to be present when buyers pass through. It can be awkward for the buyers if the owner is present during a walk-through. They may feel uncomfortable making honest observations and critiques. So, run a few errands or take a walk around the neighborhood. If you cannot leave, sit in the backyard. But do not attempt to have conversations with the buyer. Speak only when spoken to; be brief and polite.

Another component of staying flexible is being diligent with the upkeep of your home, as you never know when a buyer will be coming through. This weighs in on big factors, like home improvement projects, but even the little things count, too.

You want buyers to feel welcomed and not turned off by unmade beds, cluttered floors, and grungy bathrooms. And remember to keep an eye on your pets. Take them with you when you leave if possible, and be sure to keep kitty's litter box clean.

And of course, hone in on your home's appearance. Remaining flexible is crucial here. You may be crazy about the bold colors in your bathrooms, or that unique craft station you constructed in the third bedroom, but try and view your space from the buyer's eyes. So keep things relatively neutral, and of course, spruce up any trouble spots that could deter a buyer, such as squeaky doors, a leaky roof, dirty carpet and walls, and broken windows.

If you remain flexible in your schedule when showing your home, and keep an open mind about layout and design during necessary pre-sale improvements, selling your home will be a much easier process for you, the buyer, and your agent.

Moving? Don't Forget Your Home Inventory

One thing that many homeowners fail to do on a regular basis is take a home inventory. But taking a look at what is actually in your home is an important part of keeping your valuables safe. If there's a burglary, flood or fire, your insurance company is going to want to know what you had before they'll agree to give you the funds to replace it. And if you don't already have insurance, taking an inventory can help you get an idea of whether you really need it. Another time it's crucial to have a solid home inventory? When you're moving.

"I have seen many homeowners overwhelmed with the amount of items they are trying to move to a new property," says Lawrence Finn, CEO Owner/Broker of Coach Real Estate Associates. "They want to ensure it makes it safely from place A to place B, and sometimes they are nervous about handing their belongings over to the movers." Knowing exactly what you're moving and what it's worth can help put you at ease.

"A home inventory is important for everyone, even renters," notes Finn. "It's always good to know how much your possessions are worth, especially the invaluable things, like your grandmother's china or silver."

Finn suggests doing a home inventory every five years or so, before you move, or if you are changing your insurance coverage. For a hassle-free inventory, get your camera and go through every room in the house, including closets, basements and attics. And if you're moving, a home inventory is the perfect way to put your possessions on a diet. Use the time to figure out what you need to take, and what you can sell or donate pre-move.

So what should you include in a home inventory? According to Finn, it's critical to record all larger, more expensive items that may be difficult to replace. This can include furniture, antiques, large electronics, jewelry, gold and silver, furs, power tools, cameras, musical instruments, and more. Even if you think they may not be worth that much alone, together these valuables can seriously add up, and increase the amount of insurance coverage you need.

"Head outside too, and document any large equipment or outdoor furniture," reminds Finn.

Finn suggests you store a digital copy of these somewhere outside your home, whether it's in the cloud or a backup file in the office. Or, create an inventory sheet on the computer using the photographs you've taken.

"Be sure to date the inventory sheet and update it as you make larger purchases," reminds Finn. A new LCD television for the living room or a ping pong table for the updated game room? Make sure it goes on the list!

Other items that may be important to include with your inventory list are serial numbers and receipts for all expensive electronics. Store that information with your inventory.

"Once you have an updated inventory list, keep it in a safe spot like your safety deposit box," Finn says.

School Districts People Flock to – and Flee From

The following is an interesting article written by an economist and it looks at the which school districts are the "most attractive" – in the sense that they attract families with school-age kids. Please click on the link below to see the complete article.

7 Tips for Choosing a Retirement Community

There are many choices to consider when it comes to retirement living. Those contemplating a move to a retirement community will find more options available than ever before.

Whether researching a retirement community for yourself or a loved one, it's important to ask the right questions, keeping in mind factors such as present and future needs, community location, and financial situation, among other considerations.

Following these tips will put you on the right path toward finding a retirement community that will best meet your needs now and for the long-term.

1. Check the background of the community: Find out who owns and manages the community, as well as the track record of management. Determine whether the community is accredited for meeting high standards in services, operations and finances. Visit http://www.carf.org for a list of accredited communities by state. Review the financial performance of the organization, including any credit ratings the company has received from agencies like Standard & Poor's or Fitch.

2. Consider future health needs: Retirement communities today offer many amenities and services but not all provide medical care, making another move a possibility should health needs change. Continuing care retirement communities are the only type of senior community that offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care on a single campus. Some CCRCs even offer specialized programs such as memory care, home health care, and adult day programs as part of their services.

3. Get detailed information about fees: Learn what all fees do and do not include, when fees are subject to increase and under what conditions. Ask about the average fee increase over the past five years. Consider the financial advantages and disadvantages of the contract options the community offers.

4. Meet with residents and tour the community: Arrange an appointment to tour the community, meet with residents and staff, and to sample the food and the service. Notice if the community is clean, well maintained and secure.

5. Use a services and amenities checklist: Get a complete information packet that includes application for admission, fee schedules, floor plans and the resident contract. Compare each community's pricing to amenities, programs and services that are important to you.

6. Ask about recreational and social activities: Find out what kind of social, cultural, educational, spiritual and wellness activities are available. Is there an activities director on staff to plan entertainment, events, and trips? Is transportation available?

7. Consider location and find out if there is a waiting list: Is the community located near family, friends, doctor's office, place of worship, and shopping? Find out if there is a waiting list to move into the community and how it works.

Moving Tips for Newlyweds

So the wedding is over and you're moving into your first home as a couple. Congratulations! While this is an exciting time, moving may be stressful. After all, moving both of your possessions into a new home is much different then hauling your stuff out of your parent's basement to your first one-bedroom apartment, like you did post-college. Below are some insightful tips for moving made easy.

Eliminate the duplicates – Before you move into your new place, take inventory of what you both already own. Two toasters? Three huge television sets? Two grills? This is the perfect time to have a garage sale and minimize your stock, before you rent that moving van.

Group items together – There is a reason people label their boxes by room. It makes unpacking much easier, and allows you to organize your packing time by area. Focusing on packing or unpacking one or two rooms at a time can make the whole project seem much less daunting. Break it down and make a plan, pack the kitchen and bathroom today and the bedroom tomorrow.

Start early - Don't procrastinate; it will make moving day miserable. Instead, begin packing early, starting with the things you don't use every day. On moving day, the only thing that should be left to do is put the boxes in the truck, and maybe give the place one final sweep.

Leave gifts in boxes - Unless you're tight for space in your moving van, leave all of your wedding gifts in their original boxes during the move. This ensures they are packed safely, and won't break during the move. While it may be tempting to take out all the new china and shiny appliances during the weeks before the move, leaving them in their original packaging is smartest for safe storing and moving.

Protect your assets -This is especially important if you're hiring a moving company. As heartbreaking as it would be to shatter your new china set, imagine how it would feel if your movers did it. Be sure to take note of the condition of your items being relocated. That way, if you have to make a claim, the condition of your possessions will be documented. Make a list of everything that you pack into the truck to be sure it all makes it out, and check to see if your insurance covers the damages.

Don't forget to have some fun, invite a few friends to help you to say goodbye to your old place--and celebrate your new one.

A Sunscreen Guide: The Best-Rated Sunscreens for Summer

While this post may have nothing to do with real estate, we found the material answers a question many people ask each summer: 'What is the best sunscreen?'.

It's still confusing out there. But luckily, Consumer Reports has finally stepped in and issued its 2012 Sunscreen Buying Guide.

After extensive testing of 18 of the top selling products on the market, the following products received Consumer Reports' 'Recommended" rating for being "very good" against UVA and "excellent" against UVB, even after being dunked in water for 80 minutes:

No-Ad lotion with aloe & vitamin E, SPF 45

Walgreens continuous spray sport, SPF 50

Coppertone oil-free foaming spray, SPF 75+

All Terrain Aqua Sport lotion, SPF 30

Banana Boat clear ultra-mist sports performance active dry protect spray, SPF 30

Coppertone sport high performance ultra sweat-proof spray, SPF 30

Eco all natural sunscreen body lotion, SPF 30

Even if you choose the best sunscreen for your needs, Consumer Reports warns that you have not fulfilled your sun protection duties. It urges consumers to wear hats and cover-ups, check ingredients, spray carefully and reapply approximately every 2 hours. The sun's rays can cause cancer, so be careful out there this summer.

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