What Does It Cost to Sell Your House?

December 31, 2014

What Does It Cost to Sell Your House?

Sell Your House

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you may be counting the profits based on your estimated home value and the balance on your mortgage statement.

Before you get too excited, remember that putting your home on the market comes with its own costs. However, homeowners can use some creativity and comparison shopping to reduce their costs and boost their bottom line.

While you may feel as if you’d rather spend money to buy your next property rather than to sell your house, remember that careful spending on the marketing of your home can result in a higher profit at the end of the transaction.

Get Your Home Ready for Market for Less

Before you list your home for sale, you’ll need to spend some time and money getting the property in pristine, buyer-friendly condition so it garners the highest possible purchase price. While you may think you need to spend thousands on a new bathroom, paint your entire home or put in a new garden, you should consult a REALTOR® who can tell you the best ways to spend your energy—and your cash.

Getting rid of clutter, organizing your closets, paring down your personal photos and deep-cleaning every inch of your home are all cost-free steps that go a long way to improving your home’s appeal. Simple, inexpensive fixes such as replacing cabinet knobs and light bulbs can make your home look cleaner and more modern without requiring excessive spending.

Limit Spending During the Marketing Phase

Once your home goes on the market, it’s best to make it available as often as possible for potential buyers and their agents. If you have a pet that could disturb buyers or makes your home seem crowded, you may be tempted to pay for boarding. Instead, look into your options for pet-sitting exchanges or develop a routine to take your pet with you when you leave the property so it can be shown.

While staying away during a scheduled open house can be relatively easy to arrange, vacating your home for unexpected or last-minute visitors can play havoc with your and your family’s lives, especially around mealtimes.

You can head to a restaurant to wait out visitors or to avoid cooking entirely so that your kitchen is always pristine and your home never smells like fish or spices—but that can get costly. Instead, have a variety of contingency plans such as visiting the library to do homework, purchasing picnic supplies for impromptu meals and making plans with nearby friends to cook at their home when necessary.

Reduce Your Closing Costs

Closing costs on a home sale are typically a far greater expense than restaurant meals or pet care, but sellers can take steps to keep their costs as low as possible. Home buyers typically pay most of the closing costs, but this is negotiable and varies according to local market conditions.

Typically, the largest closing cost paid by sellers is the commission for the agents involved in the transaction. Commissions vary by location and are negotiable, but they commonly can be up to 6% of the sale price. As a seller, you can negotiate the commission with your listing agent, but remember that working with a knowledgeable REALTOR® can increase the sale price of your home and your ultimate profit.

Other costs at the closing for sellers also could include paying off your loan balance, any unpaid property taxes and outstanding homeowner association dues—none of which are negotiable. Depending on whether you hire your own attorney and on the local practices in your market, you may need to pay an attorney’s fee, transfer taxes and a title insurance premium.

Consult your agent and a title company to get an estimate of your costs and to ask if any of those fees can be reduced or negotiated.

Home Cooked: Aspen Style Mac & Cheese Recipe

Home Cooked: Aspen Style Mac & Cheese Recipe

You’re invited to dine with us at a cozy Aspen retreat where we’re serving up a comfort food menu inspired by Aspen staple, Jimmy’s.

December 30, 2014

This time of year, there are two schools of thought. One that believes the only way to battle the colder weather is to escape to tropical climates. And the other, which I belong to, that believes if you can’t beat the weather, might as well put it to good use.

In this month’s installment of Home Cooked Recipes, we invite you to dine with us at snowy 15 Westview Drive in Aspen, Colorado, where we’re whipping up a comfort classic to enjoy after a full day of skiing on some of the country’s best slopes. Our hearty après-ski menu will be served cozy-style in front of the kitchen’s two-way fireplace.

Home Cooked_Aspenkitchen

Though, the elegant dining space with rustic wooden accents would be perfect for a larger dinner party. In fact, the home is ideal for entertaining, as the floor plan has an effortless flow from the family room, kitchen, dining, and outdoor living spaces.

Home Cooked_Aspendiningroom_1

Home Cooked_Aspendiningroom_2

Within close proximity to downtown Aspen, this 5,400 sq. ft. mountain cottage is the perfect family retreat. While Aspen is certainly not short on gourmet dining options, one of the most famed food spots in the resort town is one known for it’s more casual home cooking: Jimmy’s. Inspired by the comfort food menu of this Aspen staple, (Did you know Aspen has a Mac & Cheese Festival?!) we’re serving Jimmy’s Aspen Style Mac & Cheese.

Aspen Style Jimmy Mac & Cheese

Recipe from Chef David Lawrence

1 pound large elbow macaroni
1 quart whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups Gruyere, grated
2 cups extra-sharp aged Cheddar, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
Panko Bread Crumbs, for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, being careful not to boil it. Melt the butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Whisk over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to cook out the raw flour taste. While whisking, add the hot milk and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the jalapeño and bacon and fold in the cooked macaroni. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. Top with panko bread crumbs. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is evenly browned on the top.

Thank you for joining us this month for another delicious meal.  See you in January at a warmer destination, we promise!

Are You Moving? Tips To Make Your Move Easier!

4 Tips For Paring Down Your Stuff Prior to Moving


If you’re planning a move, you may have an overwhelming urge to throw all your possessions into cardboard boxes, tape them shut and think, “I’ll deal with this after moving!”

We get it. But before you start dumping drawers into boxes willy-nilly, we implore you:Declutter first.

There’s no better time to get rid of unnecessary stuff than right before a move. You’re in the right mindset—you’re open to change.

Plus, you have to go though everything already, and if you follow through, you’ll start life at your new home with less junk and a stronger connection to the items you decided to hold onto before moving.

Sounds great, but how do you do it? We recently gave a best-selling book—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo—a read.

The book isn’t necessarily about moving; it’s more about how to live a less cluttered, happier life. But many of the suggestions Kondo offers are invaluable to those brave souls about to pack up their possessions and begin anew.

Here are four tips from Kondo’s book we found for downsizing before a move.

1. Category by Category

Think about your past attempts to tidy up or simplify your physical space. Odds are you went about it room by room. Rookie mistake!

Kondo subscribes to the theory you should instead go category by category. For example, if you keep some dinner plates in the kitchen and others in the dining room, put them all together in one place before going through them and deciding what to keep. Same for clothes, books, athletic equipment and so on throughout the house.

Don’t focus on what you’re discarding. Rather, focus on the things you are choosing to keep: This makes the process feel more positive.

2. Handle Everything

Kondo suggests touching everything you own in order to determine if you truly want and need it.

Take clothes, for example. Kondo believes it best to remove all your clothes from your closet and dresser, physically hold them and decide one-by-one if you want to keep each item.

You might be tempted to just flip through your shirts as they hang in your closet. According to Kondo, that’s a no-no. You have to get everything out of its place to determine if you want it—and if it truly brings you joy.

3. Find the Joy

This is a little touchy feely, but bear with us: Kondo believes that a possession either “sparks joy,” or it doesn’t.

It’s all about keeping the items that do offer that spark and getting rid of everything that doesn’t. Kondo uses books as an example: Does being surrounded by books you’ve never read bring you joy? Maybe not.

Of course, the standard doesn’t work for each and every item in a household. A plunger isn’t likely to “spark joy”—but having one around is still a good idea.

4. Make Moving an Event

Most people believe tidying is something you need to work at, something that requires upkeep. However, Kondo writes that if you’re constantly tidying up, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Instead of doing a little tidying up here and a little there whenever you have time, make your clean-up an event—something you spend a weekend doing with friends and family.

Painful? Maybe. But you’re more likely to experience a significant and long-lasting change. Of course, you’ll still need to put stuff away (unless you have a butler), but the effort will be minimal.

In short, think of Kondo’s method as a marathon that ends rather than daily sprints that go on and on and on.


Again, Kondo’s techniques aren’t specifically written for people undergoing moves. But there are few better times to assess whether you really need that old two-prong extension cord than when you’re holding it in your hand and have the option of packing it or chucking it.

You can check out Kondo’s book here or here.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter.

View Original Post on Moving Tips

4 Tips for Selling a Home in Today’s Real Estate Market

4 Tips for Selling a Home in Today’s Real Estate Market

December 29, 2014

Selling a home in today’s real estate market can seem overwhelming, but with a seasoned real estate agent, you will be well equipped when navigating the home selling process. Try implementing these tips below and consult your agent to make your selling process as effective as possible.
1. Avoid Clutter When Staging a Home

Make sure that you remove any clutter in your home.

You may want to move some items of furniture or other large objects into a garage or basement, or place them in storage. At the same time, do not completely empty out the house as it may leave a potential home buyer with the impression of a sterile and uninviting environment. Some ways you can improve your home aesthetically include planting flowers, painting your home a neutral color and removing personal items such as picture frames and mail.
2. Offer Incentives

One effective way to distinguish your home for sale from others is to offer special incentives. For example, you can offer gifts to home buyers or can let them keep some of the existing appliances in the home such as a washer and dryer set.
3. Increase Marketing

A real estate agent is a great resource who can help market and spread the word about your home for sale. However, be sure to utilize all other resources available as well. Many younger, first-time home buyers use social media websites to locate homes for sale. You may want to sign up for these sites and include detailed information and professional-looking photos to help attract prospective home buyers.
4. Price Aggressively

While putting your home up for sale with a low price tag may not be ideal, by pricing competitively, you may be able to attract more attention to your property than if you try selling it at market value.

Are You Ready to Buy a Home?

December 28, 2014

Are You Ready to Buy a Home?

By: Michele Lerner

While it may be acceptable to snap up a pair of shoes on an impulse, the choice to buy a home requires thoughtful planning and decision making.

Whether you’re becoming a homeowner for the first time or you’re a repeat buyer, buying a home is a financial and emotional decision that requires the experience and support of a team of reliable professionals including a REALTOR®, a lender, a lawyer and a range of other individuals.

Why Do You Want to Buy a Home?

The emotional part of the decision comes into play when you think about why you want to move. If you’re a first-time buyer, you need stability in your career and the desire to commit to living in the same community for five to seven years. You should want to establish roots in a neighborhood and look forward to decorating as you please without requiring a landlord’s permission.

Purchasing a home is a lifestyle choice that requires you to think about how you like to spend your time and the type of community where you want to live—such as a rural area without nearby neighbors, a high-rise building in a city or a home within a planned community with recreational amenities.

The more you understand your priorities for a home, the easier it will be for you to narrow your real estate decisions.

Homeownership can also be a powerful way to increase your personal wealth for you and your family, since you’ll be building equity in your home as you pay off your mortgage.

Are Your Finances Ready for Homeownership?

While your dream home may not be within your reach right away, you can take steps to become a homeowner the moment you earn your first paycheck.

In order to qualify for a mortgage to buy a home, you’ll need good credit, a pattern of paying your bills on time while still saving money and a maximum debt-to-income ratio—your gross monthly income compared to the minimum payments on all recurring debts—of 43% or less. Some lenders have stricter guidelines, so the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better your chances of a loan approval.

While loan programs are available with low down payments of 3.5% to 5%—and a few programs offer no down payment at all—you’ll still need some savings to pay for closing costs, moving expenses and an earnest money deposit on a home. It also is very wise to have cash reserves on hand after you buy.

Saving money and preserving or improving your credit history are essential elements to homeownership.

What Can You Afford to Buy?

Housing prices and rents vary from one location to another, but you can use realtor.com®’s Rent vs. Buy calculator to estimate the difference between your current rent and buying a home. In some markets, buying a home can cost the same or even less than renting.


Remember, when you’re a homeowner, you also need to includehomeowners insurance, property taxes and homeowners associationdues in your housing costs. You should use realtor.com®’s home affordability calculator to help you estimate what you can pay for a home.

In addition, you should think about your plans for the future and how you spend your money—along with your comfort level with a mortgage payment. A lender will tell you how much you can borrow, but that lender won’t know how much you spend on travel or golf or your plans for potentially reducing your work hours when you have a family.

Once you’ve thought through the emotional and financial aspects of becoming a homeowner, your next steps should be to find a reliable, experienced REALTOR® to become your partner in the home-buying process and to meet with a reputable lender who can discuss your options for financing your purchase.


Read the rest of the 10-Step Guide to Buying a Home: 

Step 1: Are You Ready to Become a Homeowner?
Step 2: Get a REALTOR®
Step 3: Get a Mortgage Pre-approval
Step 4: Look at Homes
Step 5: Choose a Home
Step 6: Get Funding
Step 7:  Make an Offer
Step 8: Get Insurance
Step 9: Closing
Step 10: What’s Next?

Family Traditions At Christmas

Family Traditions At Christmas

We tend to get lost in the flurry of gift shopping, wrapping presents, and preparing our homes for holiday gatherings. Make sure to slow down and enjoy your favorite holiday traditions at home!

December 24, 2014

It always seems like the month of December flies by. We sometimes get lost in the flurry of gift shopping, wrapping presents, and preparing our homes for holiday gatherings. Before we know it, it’s December 25th and we can’t quite fathom how Christmas is already here.

I’ve always found Christmas Eve to be one of the most peaceful, enjoyable days of the year. Everyone finally slows down and is able to enjoy some quiet, relaxing moments at home. Here are some of my favorite personal family traditions:

1. Watching “It’s A Wonderful Life”
This is one of those movies that I watch with my family year after year and it never gets old. I love curling up with a mug of hot chocolate and enjoying this classic which always leaves me feeling more festive and appreciative!

2. Matching PJs
Yes, my sisters and I may all be in our 20′s, but we’ve always worn coordinating PJ’s on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. It makes for some really cute family photos, and a great cozy clothing option for lounging around all winter.

3. Baking with my mom
My mom is basically famous for her amazing chocolate chip cookies, and I always love spending the day “helping” her bake them (which means eating them as they come out of the oven). We always package a few tins up to bring with us to family gatherings, but my mom makes sure to keep at least one just for us!

4. Christmas breakfast
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the delicious breakfast we have every year after opening gifts. It includes French toast, sausage, eggs, fruit — pretty much anything you could imagine, we have! It’s by far one of my favorite meals of the year.

Six Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Six Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Before finalizing your home buying process, a home inspector should look over the property you want to buy to ensure that everything is in good shape before you make the purchase official.

A real estate agent may be able to help you find a qualified home inspector in the area. As a buyer, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lists several questions you should ask.

  1. What will this inspection actually cover?

    Before the inspection gets underway, HUD recommends it’s important to go over exactly what will and will not be covered in the inspection. If you have any specific questions or items you want the inspector to check, mentioning this to them in advance is helpful.

  2. How much experience do you have with residential inspection?

    HUD says most home inspectors should be able to tell you their history in the business to show how experienced they are, although newer home inspectors can also be qualified in the field. While it may be useful for the inspector to have a construction background, HUD notes that it’s important that they be specially trained in looking over residential properties.

  3. How much will it cost? The cost of a home inspection can vary significantly based on the region, size of the home and a number of other factors, but typical costs range between $300 and $500.
  4. Can the home buyer be present?

    Being present during a home inspection can be a valuable experience as the inspector may be able to give answers to any simple maintenance questions you may have. If the inspector says you cannot be present, it should raise a red flag about his or her qualifications.

  5. Can you do any repairs based on the home inspection?

    If any minor problems are discovered during the inspection, you may want to know if the inspector can fix them. HUD indicates many states or trade groups don’t allow inspectors to fix problems they might find because it could be a conflict of interest.

  6. When will I get the home inspection report?

    Most inspectors will provide a sample home inspection report so you can make sure you understand what you’re getting. Usually the full report is available within 24 hours of the initial inspection, which should allow plenty of time for a thorough review before the closing.

6 Winter Home Energy Conservation and Insulation Tips

6 Winter Home Energy Conservation and Insulation Tips

Turn Up The Heat Without Breaking the Bank

Brrrr! It’s getting cold outside, and that means it’s time to turn up the heat in your home. As much as you want to keep your home toasty, you don’t want the utility bill that comes with having the heat turn on every five to ten minutes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep the warm air from escaping and the cold air from coming in. Here are some tips to increase your energy efficiency and insulation while keeping your house warm and cozy:

Comfort Control of Virginia, Inc.

#1 Clean or replace your furnace filters

According to a recent article on winterization tips, you should clean and replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis. Dirty furnace filters prevent warm air from flowing through the ducts and vents into your house, which makes your furnace work harder and increases your utility bill. By cleaning and replacing your furnace filters on a monthly basis, you will save a little money on your bill and a lot of money in simply preventing the need for a furnace replacement.

You can also replace your temporary filters with a permanent filter. Electrostatic or HEPA filters trap around 90 to 100 percent of debris — and they control bacteria, mold and pollen from getting into the air where they may cause illness or irritation. While these filters can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, they’re a worthwhile investment that offers long-term benefits.

#2 Get your furnace serviced

You should have your furnace maintained and repaired as needed. Having your furnace serviced annually can cut its fuel usage by almost 10 percent, which can save you more money on your heating bill. If you didn’t have your furnace maintained by a heating professional in the early autumn, call one now to inspect your furnace and filters for any issues. A professional will also look at your radiators and elements for any dust, breaks and other problems and fix them as necessary. Having this done could save you from spending $3,300 to $4,600 on a new furnace or finding yourself in a freezing cold home in the dead of winter.

#3 Fix drafts and leaks

Leaks and drafts in windows and doors significantly compromise the insulation and energy efficiency of your home. Escaping air forces your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm, which causes it to turn on every five to ten minutes. To solve this problem, a professional can caulk and install weather-stripping around your windows and doors for around $460. You should also identify and seal leaks around your chimney and any pipes leading into or out of your home.

#4 Lay down additional insulation

Tomahawk Pest Services, LLC

Your attic’s insulation should be between six and 13 inches of loose fill or seven and 19 inches of fiberglass. Measure how much insulation you have; if it’s below the minimum for the material used, add more to keep your home well-insulated and keep your utility bills down. It’s easier to go with loose fill insulation, as it’s made of a flexible material that can fill crevices and joists. You can rent a blower to lay down loose fill insulation, but it’s complicated, and you run the risk of stepping through your attic. It’s probably easier to have an insulation professional come in to do the work.

#5 Lower your thermostat

To conserve energy and save money on your utility bill, you should always turn down the heat when you leave the house. You can save up to 5 percent on your utility bill for every degree your heat is reduced. A programmable thermostat can also help regulate the temperature inside your home, which can save you as much as $200. Talk to your utility company about smart meters to help save money on your utility bills.

#6 Call a home energy auditor

If you make changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency and insulation and are still seeing expensive utility bills every month, you can call a home energy auditor to go through your home and identify any problems you may have. A professional will know how much energy your home consumes, where your insulation is lacking and what you can do to increase your energy efficiency. Look for an auditor that is sponsored by the government and may therefore charge less for an audit than others. After you perform a complete audit with the help of a professional, you can choose which projects to complete to increase your home’s efficiency.

The Ultimate Christmas Cookie Roundup

The Ultimate Christmas Cookie Roundup

Because calories from cookies don’t count during Christmas…

 December 19, 2014

Baking Christmas cookies is one of those home traditions that fills up a kitchen with fun, brings a feeling of nostalgia to the soul and leaves your tummy feel full of love. Here is a roundup of cookies you may find helpful whether you are baking for Santa or for a holiday cookie exchange. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

I am pretty sure Sugar Cookies are the official holiday cookie. From sprinkles to frosting, there are countless ways to give these little sugary bites a fun and unique holiday look.

via Delish.com

Salty Caramel Butter Cookies

Rumor on the internet is that this salty sweet recipe is the secret to cookie nirvana.

via Traceys Culinary Adventure

Melted Snowmen Cookies

This recipe may or may not have been the impetus for the writers at Buzzfeed starting Pinterest Fail listicles. If you can nail this recipe the outcome is simply adorable.

Here’s what is SHOULD look like…

via homeiswheretheboatis.com

Here is what the typical Pinterest fail looks like…

Cream Cheese Cookies

These are my ALL TIME favorite cookies. This was my grandma’s specialty and when I take a bite I am brought back to my childhood. Fun Fact: it is impossible to eat just one.


via eggmeon

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal Cookies

Any recipe that doesn’t require turning a stove on is worth a try!

via Food Network

Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

You can feel good about eating these because they have fruit in them. It’s basically like eating diet cookies ;)

via Pillsbury

Peppermint Christmas Cookies

Colorful + Minty Fresh = YUM!

via Pamela (Food.com)

PB&J Linzer Stars

Since my nickname is Linz, I couldn’t resist leaving out this sweet treat.

Bonus: I’ve heard Santa’s reindeer LOVE peanut butter!

via Parents.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, this cookie staple is always a crowd pleaser.

via VeryBestBaking.com

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

What do you get when you mix confetti sprinkles and cookies? A Christmas party in your mouth!


via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Wishing you a sweet Christmas! Have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe to share? Leave it in the comment section below.

Burglary Prevention 101

Burglary Prevention 101

Combat burglary with these tips from HomeAdvisor

December 18, 2014

Christmas is a popular time for people — including homeowners — to close the shades, turn on a light, lock up the house and travel across the country. Most come back to their home the way they left it; some are not so lucky.

A home burglary happens every 13 seconds in the United States, and the holiday season is no exception. A staggering 66% of burglaries occur in residences, which leaves traveling homeowners at high risk — especially if they haven’t taken preventative measures.

So what should you do to protect your home against a burglar? Consider hiring a home security professional to install an alarm system. And, check out this infographic on how to beat burglars this holiday season:

Provided by HomeAdvisor