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Sewer Line Inspection


When working with a buyer to purchase a home, we always recommend they find out what’s going on down under. What we mean is, get a sewer line inspection.

This inspection is important because it is one of the most costly fixes you’ll experience, yet no value is added to the home if a new sewer line is installed.

During a sewer line inspection, a small camera is run through the pipe. A monitor will show if the pipe is clean and unclogged or if it is damaged.

Remember, the time to get this inspection is before buying the home!

We hope this video was helpful. Thank you for coming back to our blog and if you know anyone who would benefit from our real estate service, please pass our information along!

Curb Appeal Tips That Will “Wow!” Buyers and Get Your Home Sold In a Hot Minute


Sure it’s a sellers market. But that doesn’t mean you can just let your house go and expect buyers to swarm in and take over. The truth is, in our marketplace and many others across the nation, sellers still have to do their part to get their homes sold. They have to make sure they are getting good advice about pricing the property right. They need to make sure any loose ends are taken care of and they need to maintain the home in good condition to show it in its best light.

But one aspect of presenting a truly “show-ready” home is to make it inviting from the moment buyers set their eyes on it. Curb appeal can be achieved without spending large amounts of money and it does not have to mean backbreaking loads of work either. With a few simple steps you can present a truly gorgeous home that will pull buyers in and keep them interested.

Clean Up the Leftovers

Moving from the winter into warmer months often leaves behind dirty, grimy leftovers and lots of unsightly lawn debris from all winter long. Exposed pine needles, unkempt flowerbeds, messy walkways or untrimmed trees all contribute to a negative impression that some buyers might find difficult to overlook. Spread new mulch in areas that need a refresher, trim trees and bushes, clean up walkways and neaten up the exterior or your home to spruce it up.

Hide What You Don’t Want Buyers to See
It may seem like a small thing but the simple act of storing your garbage and recycling containers in a shed or your garage can make a world of difference to how your home is perceived.  Unopened bags of mulch or other garden materials are also unattractive and distracting. These items can make a space look more cramped than it is and can make it seem the buyer would have a lot of work to do once they moved in.

Make it Beautiful, Then Maintain It

Mow your lawn and keep it mowed – especially before showings. Plant outdoor flowers then keep them watered and looking fresh. If you have landscape lighting, make sure it’s in working order and each fixture is standing upright and set up attractively. Add some accessories to your front entryway so that as buyers wait for the door to be unlocked they have something nice to look at. Clean light fixtures, sweep up dirt or cobwebs, add splashes of color and even consider a fresh coat of paint on the front door to jazz things up.


As you can see in our video – it doesn’t take much but with just a few little things you can make a very big impression on buyers. Call us today if you’d like a walk through to learn how your home would do in the marketplace these days – we’d love the opportunity!

Staging – Before and After

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, chances are you spend some time watching HGTV reruns of House Hunters.  Ever notice the look on prospective buyers’ faces as they walk through the really dumpy properties?  The fact is that so many people neglect to prepare their properties before showing it to potential buyers.  Overstuffed closets, stained carpets, dirty bathrooms, dull kitchens and family rooms with so much junk scattered all over the place that the buyers can barely see the space – all these things are a huge hindrance to selling successfully.

This week we just listed a home for one of our clients and the way they set up their space is perfect.  As you can see in the video, the homeowners have taken the time to arrange furniture in a way that highlights the home’s gorgeous features and open floor plan.  Plenty of tasteful accessories have been used to dot the space with color, interest and life.  There are even some touches of their personal life, though not overdone by any means.

The key to preparing a show-ready home is to put yourself in the buyers’ eyes.  Going back to House Hunters episodes – how many times did buyers’ eyes light up when they walked into an open, well-lit home that was obviously cared for by its owners?  And if you pay attention, you’ll notice that more often than not, the homes that don’t seem to cared for by their owners are usually the ones that get passed up.

Tips on How to Make Sure Your Property Shows Well

Nothing turns off buyers more than a home that is dirty.  As they walk through the house they are imagining living there but dirty bathrooms, unclean windows, or unkempt rooms are unattractive.  Rather than risk buyers only remember that aspect of your home, make sure you clean the space, have carpets professionally steam cleaned, power wash windows, clear up driveways and make the home presentable.

Clutter acts as an obstacle that does not allow buyers to see the actual features of your home.  If possible, box up things like extra shoes, overflowing closets, unkempt toys or messy areas in the home.  Keeping the space clear of clutter will not only make the space inviting, it will also allow the prospective owners to imagine their own things in the space.  A common turnoff that many sellers neglect to take care of before showing their home is a fridge filled with personal notes, pictures, schedules and other traces of the current family’s life.

If your home’s best feature is the great room, be sure to emphasize it by lighting it well and clearing all to and from areas for easy flow through access.  If the large backyard is a favorite selling feature, remove all leaves and landscaping clutter.  It is important not to ignore maintenance details such as mowing the lawn or tidying up the hedges.

How you set up your home will have a major impact on how it is received.  By setting up the furniture and arranging other items in a way that highlights the desirable aspects of your home while working with the space encompassing the area, buyers will want to see more.
Imagine your home is going to be photographed for a magazine.  What would you do to prepare before the photographer arrived?

Introducing the Newest Member of the Hansford Team

We are always trying to find ways to maximize the efficiency and enjoyment of our clients’ experiences and that’s why we’ve taken the step to join forces with Sue, our newest member on the Troy Hansford Team. With great joy, we welcome her to our amazing group and assure you that as our clients you will find nothing but the best of the best experiences while working with her.
She cites several reasons for wanting to join our team, including being able to give you the level of service that you deserve as part of the team concept that really appeals to her. She also loves the way the Hansford Team does business.
With less time needed to tend to administrative tasks, we know that Sue will be an even greater asset to our clients and our team since that extra time will give her the added freedom to focus on excellent client service.
Among other great assets, Sue also brings a unique perspective having been a transplant from out of state herself. When it comes to relocating individuals or families, she shares a common understanding of the challenges at hand for those situations and offers a great beam of support when making that transition.
But that isn’t all that Sue offers. One of the greatest traits she possesses is of being personally connected to her clients. More so than just the typical real estate agent relationship carried with clients, Sue cares to know more about those she is working with. She makes a strong connection and prides herself in knowing and understanding who she is working with and understanding their needs.
So here’s to a fabulous 2013! With new relationships, new experiences and a great team, as always, committed to providing you with the best real estate experience possible!
As always, please feel free to contact for any of your real estate needs – we are happy to help!

Myth Buster – Why Selling in the Wintertime is NOT a Bad Idea

Most homeowners believe that homes simply do not sell unless they are on the market during the busiest times for real estate, spring and summer. And though those are the busiest times to sell real estate that certainly does not mean that homes do not sell during the cooler months of the year.

Consider this: Homes sales drop during the winter. But by the same token, the number of available homes on the market also drops.

So if yours is a home that is on the market that does not mean you stand to have an unsold home for much of the season, rather it translates to fewer competing homes and more serious buyers out there looking.

Here are some numbers that further corroborate this:

Homes Sales in the 4th Quarter

In 2011, the number of sales in the 4th quarter versus in the 3rd quarter dropped 15% from 11,460 homes sold to 9,992. We are expecting the same to happen this year too however we reported a surge in sales across the board throughout each quarter in 2012. The third quarter sales for this year are 13,610 with a projected number of sales for the 4th quarter of 2012 coming in at 12,200.

Inventory Levels Drop By the End of the Year

Looking at the end of June, in 2011 we had about 21,000 homes on the market but then in December that number had gone down significantly to 14,000 – representing a whopping 66% slide in inventory levels. The same statistic in 2012 shows a huge decline from the previous year at 14,000 homes on the market in June 2012 and just 9,400 available in December 2012.
In addition to these very notable changes year over year, it is important to keep in mind that the average sales price has also changed for the better this year from $279,858 in 2011 to $302,956 in 2012, an 8% jump. Home sales have gone up 16% year over year too, which means we are far more active in our marketplace than just twelve months ago – something we can look forward to even during the cooler months of the year.

Keep in mind that as inventory levels continue to decline and buyers keep seeking homes, prices will start to rise. So if you are considering selling your home, now is a great time especially given the swift sales we’re seeing in our marketplace today.

Contact us today for a customized listing appointment.

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Deciding To Buy A Brand New Home

Without a doubt, most of the nation is coming off what has been one of the rockiest roads in real estate history. After an unprecedented crash in the housing market five years ago, until today things have been shaky and buyers have not had a consistent idea of what to expect.

Today, things are shaping up and we are starting to see an improvement in the market. Still, many buyers may not know if the time is now to buy new construction or rather stay with buying a resale home. Here are some important questions that buyers considering a brand new home most frequently ask. The answers will help you in making your decision about whether new construction is right for you.

Do Realtors work with new home builders? Do they have their own in-house agents that buyers must work with?

As a buyer, you have every right to choose which agent to work with in any sale transaction. In fact, when you go to view a model home with a builder, you will likely encounter one of their salespersons. While they are knowledgeable about their products and can share valuable insight into the building of their properties – keep in mind that they have their company’s best interests in mind. The ideal scenario is for you to mention you are just looking and to hire an independent Realtor to manage the transaction and look after your best interests.

Why haven’t there been as many new build homes the past several years? Why are there more now all of a sudden?

One of the aftereffects of the housing crash was a market with a surplus of inventory. As a result, buyers had far too much to choose from, prices stayed down and the cost of purchasing a resale was usually less that what it would cost to build a new one. But now that inventory levels have dropped and demand continues to climb, we are seeing prices go up again and builders staring to build again.

Are builders willing to negotiate on price?

Most houses that are built from scratch go hand in hand with current demand, leaving the builders in a fairly comfortable spot without the need or motivation to haggle on price.

There may be some instances where a home that was built for a buyer that backed out for whatever reason might be available. If so, the builder may offer a discounted price on the home. Keep in mind though that you would have to accept the home with the customization choices of the original buyer.

One of the ways that buyers of new construction get deals is through the amenities and features. Though there may not be too much wiggle room in the final price you may very well be able to negotiate additional upgrades at no cost. This will depend on the cost of materials, the builder’s current inventory and other factors.

Will builders accept a contingency offer to accommodate the sale of the buyer’s first home?

Most builders will allow you to have a contingency in the offer but they will provide for a certain period of time within which your home must be sold. The builder will not initiate any building permits or begin work until the closing is done.

The builder wants me to use their own preferred lender. Is that a good idea?

In most cases, buyers will be able to get the best deal when working with the builder’s preferred lender. There will likely be additional incentives offered. Sometimes that means the buyer’s closing costs will be covered. Other times a builder’s lender might give you some discount points or there may be an additional home warranty offered on the property.
If a newly built home may be in the cards for you – contact me today. I welcome the opportunity to assist in making this and all of your real estate goals a reality and I look forward to working with you!

Recognizing Hail Damage On or Around Your Home and What to Do About It

If you are asking yourself “What the hail??” then chances are you just experienced a storm and there has been some hail damage on your property. It does not happen often but when it does, things sure get interesting.
The easiest way to tell if there is hail damage on your property is of course by walking around the home and doing an informal survey of the premises. Once you determine that there is indeed damage as a result of a storm you can then approach your insurance company to find out what types of coverage your policy offers. What kinds of things should you look for while going through the exterior of your property?
Roof Damage
Granules blown off from a damaged roof
Indentations on metal
Pockmarks on shingles
Lots of granules in your gutter or concrete
Dings and Dents on the Property’s Exterior
Pockmarks on your siding, eaves trough or garage doors
Areas where paint has come off from heavy hail
Deck surfaces, railings and benches with large marks
Window Damage
Torn screens
Chips on window frames
Other Outdoor Fixtures
Indentation marks on hot tub covers
Damaged metal awnings
Regardless of what you find, it may be a good idea to contact your insurance company and request an adjuster to come out and survey your property formally. Not only will they be able to determine the extent of damage, they will be able to report it if it is significant enough to warrant insurance coverage.
Myths and Facts About Hail Damage
(Source:, author: RDHayes)
Myth: I looked at my roof and didn’t see any problems, or my roofer inspected it and there are no problems.
Fact: Someone with training and experience must physically inspect roofing systems to determine where there is actual hail damage. Insurance companies send their adjusters to special training so they can properly identify hail damage to property. Unfortunately there is not much ongoing training for the roofing or home inspection industries.
Myth: I’m not missing any shingles so I must not have damage.
Fact: Missing shingles are related to wind damage claims and can happen during a hailstorm if the winds are high enough. However hail damage is insidious in nature and may not physically cause leakage for years after a hailstorm.
Myth: I only have 1 year to file my insurance claim.
Fact: Many insurance companies do have a one-year time limit and some even less, however due to the nature of hail damage they may pay claims past the deadline. This usually happens if a hailstorm is widespread geographically.
Myth: My roof is new so it is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, the homebuilder or contractor.
Fact: Manufacturer’s specifically name hail an exclusion to their product warranty. So do home builders and roofing contractors. Newer roofs can actually be more susceptible to hail damage versus older roofs due to the time it takes a new roof to cure from exposure to the elements.
Myth: I was told my roof has minimal or very little damage and therefore I don’t need to file a claim.
Fact: If your roof has any damage whatsoever you have a valid insurance claim and should file with your insurance company. Damage might not cause your roof to leak for years. This is why it’s important to have a qualified person inspect your roof.
Myth: My insurance company will cancel my policy if I file a claim.
Fact: Most states prohibit insurance companies from cancelling policies for filing claims arising from severe weather related events. Check your state’s policy and your policy language as well.
Myth: If I don’t file my claim, my insurance company won’t raise my rates.
Fact: After a disaster, insurance companies may raise everyone’s rates. By not filing your claim, your personal rate increase is paying for every one else’s damage except yours.
If you are unsure, it is still a good idea to contact your agent since there are likely areas that you may not have considered that might have been damaged. One thing to look out for is inflated quotes from companies looking to make a quick buck through your ordeal. Roofing and siding companies might inundate you with offers to repair your home.
If you’d like more information on this or other things concerning your property or if you are in the market to buy, sell or invest – contact me today!

New Changes to the HARP Loan Program Means More People Getting Much-Needed Help

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The announcement made recently by the Federal Housing Finance Agency about proposed changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) could mean that many more homeowners will get much-needed assistance during this difficult economic time.  Homeowners that are underwater have traditionally turned to HARP loans to help them refinance their homes, being able to keep them rather than losing them to foreclosure.  Here are the main differences between the old and the new programs and how they will potentially affect homeowners going through times of strife.

No More Glass Ceiling for HARP

With the old program there was a limit to how much borrowers could borrow with respect to the home’s loan to value.  This posed a problem for many people that owed far more on the home than it was valued – given the steep decline in housing values during the past two or more years. 

New changes to the program will allow homeowners to refinance no matter how foregone the situation is with respect to more money owed on a property than its market value.  The elimination of the 125 LTV ceiling for fixed-rate Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgages is by far the most impactful proposed change to the program.  This change will quite possibly help millions of people avoid undergoing foreclosure. 

Fewer Fees or Better Yet, No Fees For Some

As per the current HARP loan process, risk-based fees are assessed and applied to loans to protect the lender.  Considering borrowers’ credit profile, the lower the credit scores, the higher loan to value and that translates to greater risk to the lender.  Fees that are traditionally associated with this risk are a huge burden for buyers.

With the expected new HARP guidelines there will be no more risk-based fees for homeowners that refinance their home into short-term mortgages and fewer fees for others.

No Longer A Need For a Property Appraisal

The cost of getting an appraisal done on a home can get quite expensive and adds up when you factor in all the other costs of getting into a new home.  Most home purchases entail having an appraisal done on the home – at the buyer’s expense. 

The changes that are looking to be implemented soon for people seeking assistance through HARP will include eliminating the requirement of a new property appraisal.  The only thing that buyers need to be wary of is that there must be a reputable AVM estimate in lieu of the appraisal.

The Absence of Warranties That Put Lenders In a Stronghold
Lenders are at a huge risk when borrowers default on their loans and as a protective measure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee those loans but not without a long list of warranties that protect the creditor.  At present, refinance loans that have these warranties or stipulations on them cause lenders to comb through each application very carefully before considering an approval.

With the proposed changes taking place, the warranties will be waived, reducing secondary exposure to lenders of buying back the loan in case of default or even indication of default.  The change will make it far easier for homeowners to obtain the refinance loan they seek to help get them out from underwater. 

More Time For Homeowners to Get Afloat

The HARP loan program began in April of 2009 and after an extension in March of this year (2011) the deadline was extended to June 30, 2012.

According to the list of projected enhancements to the program, the program’s deadline will be extended to December 31, 2013 – giving more homeowners more time to avail this opportunity.

There are a few important things to mention regarding the upcoming announcement expected on Tuesday November 15th.  First, not only does the HARP loan apply only to homeowners that have a mortgage owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the mortgage being refinanced must have been obtained on or before May 31, 2009.  Second, this applies only to homeowners who have not previously refinanced their home.

It is also important to note that these are projected changes – and they can change at any time contingent upon policy at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

10 Questions to Ask a Potential Realtor

As you embark upon what will be one of the most important transactions of your life – whether buying or selling a home – you should be absolutely certain that you are happy with the real estate agent you have hired to help you manage it. 

To help you with this all-important hiring process, here are ten important questions to ask an agent before you decide on whether or not to hire them:

Question #1
How Close Do You Get in Sale Price Related to Asking Price?

It is important to ask for this information as it relates to the past 60 days.  Given that many agents are not that active in the market, you would be best served to obtain the most recent information possible.  As a seller, your agent’s ability to come close to the asking price is a strong attribute and can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in your transaction.

Question #2
How Many Days on Average Does It Take You To Sell a Home?

What’s the average number of days on the market for properties listed by your prospective agent? Since this statistic can reach as high as six to nine months and in some cases and as much as a year, it is important to ask how your prospective agent ranks on the scale.

Question #3
What is the Rate of Homes Sold on a Monthly Basis?

Knowing the absorption rate of homes similar to yours that are on the market allows valuable insight as to how the market is performing for your particular needs.  Not only does it give sellers a glimpse into the system and how it would translate to their own sale but it also presents a broader view of the entire market in general.

Question #4
What Do You Do Differently To Get Homes Sold?

Especially with the current trying economic times, many agents have been faced with adversities trying to sell the homes on their list.  One of the best ways to learn whether your agent is a self-starter is to find out what they have done in the past when they were unable to successfully sell homes.  Ask why the agent feels the home(s) did not sell and then find out what they are doing differently to get them sold.

Question #5
What Percentage of Deals Do You Represent the Buyer Versus Seller?

Some agents work primarily with sellers while others work mostly with buyers and still others are experienced with dual-agency deals.  Depending on your needs, you will benefit from an agent that specializes in one of the two.  It is important to ask which side of the fence your prospective agent tends to represent. 

Questions #6
How Many Homes Did You Sell Last Year?

Nothing speaks louder than numbers.  A very important statistic, ask what the total number of homes sold last year was and if possible try to get a more long-term picture of the agent’s performance in this regard. You can also ask for a month-to-month breakdown to see if there are certain stronger months.

Questions #7
Can You Provide a List of the Ten Most Current Clients You Have Worked With?

Rather than rely on the given list of referrals that many agents have handpicked, it’s a good idea to obtain a list of clients that are currently working with this Realtor.  It will provide a much-needed glimpse into the agent’s performance on various stages of real estate transactions.

Question #8
How Much of Your Work Day Do You Dedicate to the Real Estate Industry?

You want an agent that is 100% committed to their  job and if they are focusing more on a day job with real estate being a secondary thing, you run the risk of inaccessibility, lack of knowledge and experience plus lackluster motivation.  Find out how they feel about the real estate industry and whether they are passionate about their work.

Question #9
What is Your Style of Marketing – Proactive or Reactive?

What is your potential agent’s style of working?  Does he or she speak to a large number of people each day? Are they proactive or reactive in nature when it comes to marketing? See how this lines up with your real estate needs.  Are you in a hurry to buy or sell?  Does a laid back agent hinder your efforts? Or does slow and steady work better for you?

Question #10
What Does Your Daily Schedule Look Like?

The typical schedule of a real estate professional can be very telling.  By asking for a copy or general idea of how they conduct their day in terms of their work, you can get a good idea of how much time is devoted to the profession and what kind of business they are running.

5 Things You Should Do When You Move Into a New Home

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1. Install new batteries in smoke alarm and carbon dioxide detector

You have no way of knowing when the batteries were last changed and if the home has been unoccupied, it’s probably been awhile. Test the alarm and detector and put new batteries in each. This investment of time and a few dollars is well worth it, given the stakes.

2. Change locks

Unfortunately, you can’t assume the keys you’re holding are the only keys to your home that could exist out there. Play it safe and have all the locks changed as soon as you can.

3. Re-program garage door opener

Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the security of your new home. Most garage door remotes have a reset button that you can hold down to reprogram the opener. If you want more concise instructions, note the make and model of the opener and contact the company to walk you through the steps.

4. Replace furnace filter

Most manufacturers recommend that a furnace filter be changed once a month during the heating season to ensure the most efficient performance. While there are higher-quality filters that may not require monthly replacement, it’s still a good idea to check the filter monthly and, of course, replace it when you move into a new place.

5. Make sure windows remain locked

Just go around your house and check those window locks.