The Louisville KY Real Estate Blog

Fall Home Maintenance that Will Save You Money

Fall is here! This season is considered by many as the most enjoyable – the weather cools off but isn’t too cold to be uncomfortable. The leaves turn colors and create the most beautiful scenery everywhere you go. Fall flavors like pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon are back in stores and restaurants. Sports fans everywhere are gathering around the TV to watch their favorite football teams. And soon the holidays will be upon us!

 For homeowners, this season also means some changes are ahead and it’s time to weatherize your home! Here are some important steps you should take to make sure your home is properly maintained:

Check your heating system

It’s recommended that you schedule a yearly heating inspection before the temperatures start to really drop, even if you haven’t had any issues prior. The reason this is important is that regular inspections to make sure your heating system is in proper working condition not only help to keep your electric costs lower, it also helps you to avoid a broken down furnace in the dead of winter. An inspector will make sure that all parts are in good condition, the filter is clean, and the furnace is heating at optimal levels. Plus, preventative maintenance will save you money in the long run, as waiting until you do have a problem could wind up costing you a lot more. Not only will you have to deal with repair or even in some cases replacement costs, heating system malfunctions can sometimes cause bigger problems for your home – a furnace which is not properly maintained can create hazards such as fires or flooding, which will cost you even more in home repairs. To avoid all these issues and save the most money, make sure you are having yearly maintenance conducted on your heating systems!

Check your windows and doors

Another important aspect of making sure your home is prepared for cooler temperatures is making sure your windows and doors don’t have any cracks or gaps where heat could escape. Seal any gaps with weather-stripping and replace any cracked panes, and this too will help to keep your electric bill down in the colder months.

Inspect your chimney and fireplace

Of course this will only apply to homes that have these features, but the importance of maintaining them if you do is huge. Annual chimney maintenance removes flammable creosote, the major cause of chimney fires, and identifies other performance problems such as a blocked flue from debris or broken dampers that keep smoke from escaping.

Check the roof and gutters

Make sure your roof is ready for winter weather by examining it for loose shingles, damage and debris as well as making sure the gutters are clear and in good condition. If you have trees overhanging your home, debris build up and shade can cause dry rot, which when it starts to rain will lead to issues like leaking and further damage to the rotted areas. Better to do a regular roof inspection to keep your roof up to par, than have a major leak or deterioration to your roof that requires a full replacement before the full life of the roof is up. Your roof is much like your car in that regular maintenance will get you many more “miles” out of it so don’t neglect it!

Clear out unused fuel

If you have equipment that uses fuel during the warmer months like lawn mowers or propane grills, it’s suggested that you empty these unused fuel tanks out before storing them for the winter as they can build up sediment and result in clogged fuel lines. For fuel tanks that will be in use during the winter (snowblowers, etc.), make sure you store them in safe, out-of-reach places to children.

Make sure to test back-up generators

If you employ a back-up generator in times of severe weather and power outages, make sure you test your generator out before the colder months arrive so that it’s ready and in good working condition. Also make sure you use good safety precautions while running your generator, like not running it in an enclosed space so as to prevent carbon monoxide dangers.

Keeping your house maintained and ready for the harsher months will ensure the longevity of your home, and should you ever decide to sell, it will promote a higher value for purchase.

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It's National Dollar Day - Here are a Few Ways to Save a Dollar (or a Few) in Louisville Today

Today is National Dollar Day! In honor of the establishment of our national monetary system, here are some ways to save a dollar (or a few) in Louisville today:

Try a local Happy Hour:

-          Wick’s Pizza offers ½ priced appetizers and $0.75 wings from 3:00pm to 6:00pm and Buy 1 Get 1 Free pasta all day!

-          Mellow Mushroom has a killer happy hour with ½ off all drafts (excluding super rare brews), all wells, select margaritas, select cocktails, all wine, and all munchies (excluding wings) from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

-          Gerstle’s Place has $1 PBR’s, $1 Miller High Life and $2 Sierra Nevada/Tecate from open to 8:00pm, and then from 11:00pm to close they have a special for Trivia Night - $3 pints and 2 for 1 wells!

-          If you’re a pool shark, check out Kaiju – not only are games free on Mondays, they offer $1 off all beer, wine and wells and $2 off sake ALL day!

Check out a local event for savings:

-          Westport Whiskey & Wine is hosting a tasting event with Dee’s Crafts where you can create beautiful jewelry while sipping your favorite wine! The event is from 6:30pm to 9:00pm, and all attendees receive a 10% discount on wine purchases during the event, as well as 20% off wire and tools from Dee’s and a 2-for-1 wine tasting coupon. Registration is required – call or visit Dee’s to register: 5045 Shelbyville Rd., 502-896-6755.

-          Try out Sunset Yoga at Captain’s Quarters! Led by international yoga teacher Ashley Baldwin, you get a full 60 minutes of instruction for a low price of $10 and you can stay for a cocktail afterwards! Bring your own yoga mat.

Take advantage of some awesome local deals or coupons:

-          Krispy Kreme is offering $20 worth of fresh donuts for $10 dollars on Groupon

-          Get 4 classes for $39 ($49 savings) or one month of unlimited classes for $69 ($30 savings) at barre3 Louisville (on Groupon)

-          Monday’s Sub of the Day is Turkey & Ham at Subway, which means you can get a 6-inch of this delicious sub for just $3!

-          Summer will soon be coming to a close, so get yourself ready for the cooler temperatures and get a furnace system tune up and maintenance from Anytime Heating & Air for just $29 (regular price $169) – coupon on Livingsocial

-          While the hot days are still here, cool off with Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt! Get three $9 vouchers ($27 value) for just $5 each (or $15 total) on Livingsocial

Try some money-saving tips from the pros:

-          Cancel your expensive cable, and instead pay $8.99 or less a month for services like Hulu and Netflix which let you stream movies and TV shows anytime.

-          Program your home thermostat not to run when you’re at work during the day to lower your utility bill.

-          Make your own coffee at home instead of $2+ dollars a pop at the local coffee stop and save a bundle of money

-          Check out local buy, sell, trade groups on Facebook for everything from used clothing to household items to used vehicles and more (like the Louisville/Jefferson County Virtual Yard Sale group page). There are groups in just about every locale and county around Louisville, and it’s a great way to freshen up your wardrobe or redecorate your house on a budget. Just be sure to read the guidelines for each group!

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Having Trouble Selling Your Home? Here are 7 Things That Might Be Hindering You

Don't Tear Your Hair Out Over The Sale of Your Home

You are asking too much for it.

Any real estate professional or expert in the field anywhere will tell you – the number one reason houses don’t sell is the price. Many times sellers believe their home to be valued at a certain price either because of what they paid for it, or what another house in their neighborhood has sold for, or perhaps from an online real estate database estimate (for example, Zillow’s “Zestimate”) or pure and simple determination that they want x-amount for the sale of their home. Not to suggest that none of these factors could play a part in accurately determining the true value, however it’s imperative to remain unbiased. What you paid for it 15 years ago has absolutely nothing to do with what it might sell for now, because the market is always changing. An accurate valuation is determined not only by the market, but by the specific condition of your home (has it been well maintained, have you made any changes or additions, what specific features does your home include that would appeal to buyers, etc. etc.). As someone once so wisely stated, the true value of a home is whatever someone is willing to pay for it (and not what you’re willing to sell it for).

Your house has seen better days.

This doesn’t mean your house is a total dump. It just means that maybe there are some things that could use some attention that to a buyer would be a red flag. You might think, “Well it could be a great fixer-upper for the do-it-yourself types”, but let’s be realistic. Nowadays, most people live very busy lives, and while some enjoy a DIY style of living, the majority of buyers are looking for a place that’s “move-in ready” – a place that they can unload all their stuff and get on with the business of living their lives sans extra house-maintaining hassle. Don’t let this be a deterrent however. Sometimes all that’s needed is a good cleaning, or some landscaping to improve the curb appeal. Maybe change out some old fixtures like an ancient toilet, or give the grout in your bathrooms a good cleaning. If your house does have some major issues, those things should be dealt with (for example, a roof one storm away from caving in should be handled immediately!) but often times, some simple “sprucing up” changes the entire look and feel of a once “dumpy” home.

Your house isn't run-down, but it looks like it might be.

Water damage is a huge turn off to folks shopping for a new home, but if the leak that caused the water damage was repaired 10 years ago, make sure you take care of those left over stains! Little indicators of problems from the past will only look like problems period to the buyer.  

There's too much "you" in the house.

One of the primary focuses of a home stager (someone who “stages” the house for showing readiness) is to remove those things that personalize a house to the current owners. The reason for this is that buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the home, and items like family photos, specifically-themed décor and so on can make it difficult for them to envision their own family or style in the home. To facilitate that process, try to remove as much of “you” from the house as possible – take down the bowling trophies and hunting treasures, pack away the wall collage of baby photos, take down the themed wallpaper or paint over the lime green paint and replace it with neutral tones that can work with all types of décor. As much as you can, create a space that offers potential buyers a blank canvas with which to imagine their lives within it.

You have too many limitations.

A common deterrent to a successful sale is the home not being easily accessible for viewing. Perhaps you are trying to sell the home without the help of an agent, or you live in another town. Maybe you want to always be present for every showing, but you’re only available during a couple hours out of the day. The reality is, if it’s incredibly difficult for buyers to schedule a showing, the house is going to be equally as difficult to sell. The best option is to list with a professional and let them handle all the leg work. It’s much less hassle for you and when you hire the right agent, they come with the expertise to sell your home in less time and for a better net take home for you! In addition, having your home available for showing as much as possible (and especially when you’re not there) makes for more showing opportunities which means a higher chance of the right buyer coming along.

Poor advertising.

Sometimes, the only reason a house isn’t getting any attention is that the pictures being used to advertise it don’t do it any justice. Low quality, unprofessional photos can make a house look small, dingy, and just generally unappealing. A good listing agent knows that the best marketing starts with professional photos.

Another marketing faux pas is the description – certain terms are a big turn off in the real estate world, but too many people don’t know what those terms are or that their property could be getting overlooked because the description sounds either too good to be true, or like you’re too anxious to get rid of the property (which signals to the outsider that maybe there’s something wrong with this property). Again, using a professional agent can really alleviate the stress of having to be a marketing wiz for a field that you don’t know much about aside from having bought a house yourself.

Your house is poorly located or poorly planned.

This is a tough issue, because there’s not much you can do to change the location or the layout of the house (that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg). However, if you’re able to be mindful of these issues, and you focus on those things which you CAN change (sprucing up the house and/or yard, applying a fresh coat of paint, hiring a professional to up your marketing game, etc.), you will find yourself in a better  position to match your home with the right buyer.

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The Ultimate Guide to Summer in Louisville

Yesterday was the official first day of summer! In Louisville, this is quite possibly the most important date on the calendar (next to Derby, of course) because here in the Ville, the enjoyment of summer has been raised to an art form. There is never a lack for something to do, whether you’re a music lover, a BBQ buff, a thrill seeker or sun worshipper. Here is your ultimate Guide to Summer in the Ville:

CHURCH PICNICS

Louisville is home to a dense network of Catholic parishes and schools, and every weekend in the summer months you can find at least one that’s putting on a picnic. You don’t have to be parishioner of that church to attend – they’re open to everyone! If you enjoy barbeque, cheap beer, family activities and pull tabs then make sure to attend at least one church picnic this summer! For a full listing, check here: https://www.archlou.org/parishes/picnics-festivals/

MUSIC FESTIVALS/CONCERTS

There are so many opportunities to see live music during the summer in Louisville, and with the diverse offerings in style, there’s something for everyone. The most highly anticipated event is of course Forecastle Festival, now in its 14th year. This year features artists such as Alabama Shakes, Ryan Adams, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Death Cab for Cutie. Also on the horizon are Waterfront Wednesdays, a once a month concert series held on the last Wednesday of each month at Louisville Waterfront Park. The best part? It’s free! Along with these two attractions, there are also concerts from the likes of Coldplay, Demi Lovato, R. Kelly and more at the KFC Yum! Center. No matter if you’re into rock, punk, country, pop, rap, bluegrass, or all of the above, Louisville has something for you! Find everything here: http://louisville.eventful.com/events/categories/music

COMMUNITY FESTIVALS & ART FAIRS

From Butchertown to Middletown, there are festivals and fairs in every corner of Louisville. For the avid antique fan, we have the Summer Antiques Market; for the disciples of The Dude, there’s Lebowski Fest; If “keep Louisville weird” culture is your climate, check out NuLu Fest; Or perhaps you’re a romantic with an addiction to 19th century chick-lit. Then the Jane Austen Festival is for you! For a complete list of festivals and fairs happening this summer, check out https://louisvilleky.gov/government/city-events/louisvilles-festivals-parades-events.

WATER PARKS

One thing you can count on during summertime in Kentucky is HEAT. The temperatures can skyrocket and the humidity can leave you feeling like you’re in a massive sauna. One of the best ways to cool down is to get drenched at one of the many water park attractions. It’s about an hour’s drive outside of Louisville, but Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park is home to 40,000 square feet of water slides, inner tubes, a lazy river and so much more. South of Louisville is Pirate’s Bay Indoor Water Park where you can cool off under rock waterfalls among other attractions. While Pirate’s Bay is only open to hotel guests, it makes for a great weekend getaway for the whole family. Perhaps the most notable water park is Louisville’s own Hurricane Bay at Kentucky Kingdom. With slides, and rides and a giant lagoon, this place will keep everyone happy and cool during those sweltering summer days.

CHURCHILL DOWNS

Derby may be over but that doesn’t mean the action stops at the track. Every week, you can attend Twilight Thursdays with $3 general admission, $1 beers, live music and of course, betting on races! There’s also Downs After Dark, and the big event, Downs After Dark – The White Party which includes this year’s Kentucky Derby Winner, Nyquist, returning to be presented his engraved Kentucky Derby Trophy. You can also bet on the night races, listen to live music, enjoy the only public showing of the KMAC Couture wearable art runway show and be among the first to witness the unveiling of the new 2017 Derby logo. It’s cocktail hour meets couture at the track, and all the cool kids will be there. Check out the details here: https://www.churchilldowns.com/calendar

LOUISVILLE ZOO

While it’s open year round, the Louisville Zoo is a great place to take the kids when the sun is out. Along with more than 100 acres of land filled with all manner of wildlife, the zoo also features a dinosaur exhibit with 16 life-sized robotic dinosaurs and sound and look just like the real thing. There’s also the 4-D Ride Theater which puts you smack in the middle of the action during two feature films. And last but not least, the Louisville Zoo is home to the Splash Park which makes those extra hot days a lot more bearable. For details: https://louisvillezoo.org/

HISTORICAL ATTRACTIONS

Louisville has a rich history all its own and some of the best ways to explore that history is by visiting one of the many iconic locations which have their home right in this city. There’s the Belle of Louisville, the oldest US river steam boat in continuous use. You can take a 2-hour cruise up and down the Ohio River while being serenaded by the sounds of times past. We also have the Louisville Slugger claim to fame – you can visit the museum in Downtown Louisville or enjoy America’s favorite past time of baseball and beer at Slugger Field. Or show your respects to The Greatest and learn about his life at the Muhammad Ali Center.

These and many other events and attractions are available for your enjoyment this summer in Louisville, so check them out and make it a fantastic summer!

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Prep Your House for Showing in 10 Minutes

When getting your home ready to sell, there are a number of steps which should be taken to make the home showing-ready. A good thorough cleaning and the help of a professional home stager are two things any good agent would recommend, but once you’ve taken care of both of these it’s important to be ready at a moment’s notice for a showing. Keeping the house tidy at all times is of course the most obvious task and one you can always be actively enforcing, but what else can be done in short notice to create the most appeal for potential buyers? Here are some simple suggestions:

 

  1. Create as much light throughout the house as possible. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of making for a good showing, as light creates openness and a sense of welcome. Often, when you receive a home staging consultation, the stager will recommend switching out all your light bulbs for higher wattage bulbs, and increasing the number of light fixtures in a given space. In a time crunch, you can easily create more lighting by opening up all the windows and turning on as many lights as possible. Doing this immediately opens rooms up while providing a sense of warmth and also improves visibility so potential buyers can see details of the home much better.

  2. Take out the trash! While you may not notice the aroma of dinner from last night, new people walking into your home for the first time don’t need to be greeted by the smell of Tuna Casserole when considering your home for themselves. Smells can affect our moods, our memories, and our attitudes towards the things we associate with particular scents. The aromas that greet our nose can also cause distraction, so if you don’t want potential buyers leaving your house thinking only about the dirty cat litter you deposited in the bathroom trash this morning, make sure you put all the garbage in the trash receptacle outside so the house is smelling fresh and odor free inside!

  3. Make your bed! Many of us are already in the habit (thanks Mom!) of making our beds first thing in the morning, but if you rejected that chore upon entering adulthood, this is for you. When potential buyers are walking through your house, you want to make sure they aren’t walking into your dirty undies lying on the floor and pillows and sheets looking like a bomb went off in your bedroom. So heed Mom’s voice like it’s a sunny day and the only thing keeping you from joining your friends at the park is an unmade bed and an untidy bedroom. Throw the laundry in the hamper and pull a big fluffy comforter up over all the wrinkled sheets and no one will be the wiser. 

  4. Clean your countertops. Clutter is another thing a professional home stager will attack when getting your home set up for showing, but countertops are easily the one place where clutter can accumulate on a daily basis without any effort. When on a tight schedule to get things ready for a showing, the easiest way to clear off the clutter is put all the little piles into one big pile, keep a basket handy to throw the pile in or stick everything in a drawer and off the counter completely. Then wipe those puppies down and voila! Clean!

  5. If you have pets, either put them away or take them with you. You may have the friendliest little fur balls on the face of the planet, but you never know how the people coming to view your home feel about pets. Maybe they hate cats, or had a traumatic experience with a Chihuahua as a child and even Lassie couldn’t change their mind about dogs now. Plus, pets can be distracting to people when excited, or unfriendly to strangers when the head of the house isn’t home. Furthermore, people are going to be walking in and out of the house and you don’t want to have them constantly worrying about Fido making a break for it, so do everyone a favor and put them in a kennel during the showing so they are contained and out of the way of people, or (especially in the case of dogs that like to bark), take them with you.

  6. And last, LEAVE the house! When you’ve got someone looking at your home in consideration to make it their home, they could be feeling any number of emotions and are more than likely under higher levels of stress. Having the homeowner around adding to that pressure can make it difficult for them to get a clear sense of how they feel about your house, and can cause them to feel nervous. So alleviate that pressure and let them walk through without you. Go take the dog for a walk, swing by the local coffee shop for a latte, run those errands you’ve been putting off, or just go for a drive – whatever you do, don’t stay home!

Keeping these tips in mind can save you in a pinch, and may be the difference between a lackluster showing and a solid offer from a buyer. If you're getting ready to put your house on the market, being as prepared as possible is always going to work in your favor, and The Nick Peskoe Group can help you get set up for the most successful sale in the least amount of time, so give us a call!

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How To Strengthen Your Offer In A Multiple-Offer Situation

Winning a home in a multiple offer situation can be tough. These are some tips and tricks to help you negotiate an offer on your dream home in a seller's market:

First step, make sure you have the right agent.

Anyone can go online these days and do a home search on Zillow, Trulia or any number of other home sale websites. While these are passable options for finding and purchasing a home, they don’t provide you with personal attention to your wants and needs, nor can they provide the leverage that a licensed and experienced agent can give in a multi-offer situation. Say for example that you find a house that is everything you’d ever hoped for and then some. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who decided this house was “the one”. A good real estate agent could be the deciding factor in whether you come home to your dream house, or you keep on dreaming.  Your agent not only has an in-depth understanding of the market, they also have access to inside information which could benefit you in a big way.

Get pre-approved (not just pre-qualified) for a mortgage loan

One of the best things you can do to solidify your offer as most desirable to a seller is to come with the most financial back up. “I already know I’m pre-qualified!” you may say. While that is a good estimator for what you can potentially afford to spend on a home, there’s a significant difference between being pre-qualified and being pre-approved. In pre-qualification, a lender looks at your overall financial situation and based on that provides what you could qualify for in a loan amount, however this is NOT a guarantee of financing. A pre-approval on the other hand is the process of verifying your credit and financial status by processing all the necessary documentation, and then determining the amount for which you are able to be approved. Why this is important when it comes to making that offer on a home is that a buyer whose financing is already approved is a far less risky option to a seller than a buyer who could still potentially be declined for financing. If a seller accepts an offer and then the buyer’s financing falls through, that’s not only a disappointment to both parties, but it also means the seller will have to wait that much longer to move forward with their plans. A seller is very likely to be more interested in a pre-approved buyer whose financial situation is a sure thing, rather than taking a chance on an offer that could lead to a broken sale. 

Know the market (the right agent will be key in this)

As mentioned already, having the right agent is the best way to be informed on the current market. Why it is important to have a good handle on the market, especially in a multi-offer situation, is that this provides insight into what a good offering price is based not only on the house you are pursuing but also the homes around that property; for example, are homes selling for the list price or is there a trend of above/ below list price sales? What is the average days on market for the area? What is a typical amount for seller paid closing costs or concessions? 

Don’t low ball your offer

This seems obvious, but buyers do not always heed this advice. Of course as consumers we’re always looking for the best deal in order to save ourselves the most money, however you need to understand that a seller is almost always going to be inclined to take the highest bid (especially if it’s a sure thing). If you are hoping to draw a seller to your offer when there are other offers on the table, it’s better to offer above list price. Not only does that appeal to the seller financially, it shows them that you are serious enough to offer them a higher incentive. A low-ball offer is not only an unattractive option to a seller, it can even in some cases be seen as an insult to the seller and a wasteful use of their and their agent’s time. 

Drop unnecessary contingencies

The ideal goal of negotiation is to produce a win-win result for both parties. As a buyer, your biggest win is to close on the house of your choosing at a price you can afford. For the seller, the best transaction is one that brings in the highest return with little to no incident in the process. If your offer has a contingency, or a condition which must be met for the sale to finalize (for example, the sale of the house you currently own must be finalized first), this will be a turn off to a seller because every contingency is an open-ended question that will take time, effort and money to resolve and which has the potential to cause the deal to fall through. In the case of multiple offers, the seller is going to opt for whichever makes the sale most assured and the transition most expedient for them. This is another area where an agent can be a vital asset, as they can help you determine what contingencies can and should be waived.    

Be flexible with the closing date

Working with the seller’s situation (what sort of time frame are they on with moving out of the property; are they in a hurry or do they need more time?) is a good way to communicate that you are not only thinking in terms of your own self-interest. This will go a long way to show them that this is a good choice for both parties. They don’t want to be taken advantage of, nor do they want to feel backed into a corner. Moving a household is no easy task, and sometimes having some wiggle room instead of being locked into a fast-approaching deadline can go a long way in putting a seller at ease. 

Pay earnest money

Earnest money, or escrow, is just one more way you can show the seller that you are serious about your offer. Earnest money is like a security deposit – the buyer offers a percentage, typically 1-3%, to the seller which the seller gets to keep upon acceptance of the offer. This way, if the sale for any reason falls through, the seller is at least covered for any expenses incurred and time wasted. 

Provide additional financial information

When you apply for a credit card or a loan, certain information is required which shows that you are a viable candidate for approval. You typically have to show proof of your income, a history of credit, status of current assets and debts, and every lender will have certain criteria which you need to meet in order to qualify for their service. Even if you are approved for a mortgage loan however, the seller is likely only going to see the approval letter from the lender. Voluntarily offering your financial information to the seller is just one more way you can prove that you are serious about this investment. You are not required to show them your financials, but doing so could put their mind at ease that this is not a deal which is likely to come back and bite them.

Write a personal letter

Some people are very attached to their home on an emotional level. Sometimes, that sentimentality and emotional tie leads them to choose an offer that appeals to their humanity and not just their bank account. By writing a letter to give the seller an idea of who you are and what the home will mean to you, you’re giving them a chance to find closure with knowing their home, where they’ve built a family and stored up a lifetime of memories, is going to be loved and treasured as much as they feel it deserves to be. 

Negotiate with the seller

It’s important to remember that even if the seller accepts your offer, the process isn’t finished until everything is signed over to you. If there are terms which the seller wants to negotiate, unwillingness to budge on the details could lead to a sale going south.  Working with them is the best way to ensure that you walk away with the keys to your dream home.

If you are looking to purchase a...

Keeping Your Resolutions in 2016

Happy New Year!

2016 is officially here, which means gyms will be packed and the cookie aisle at the grocery store will be clear. Well, at least for the next month or so. The New Year brings a sense of excitement and hope for a lot of people. It’s becoming more and more common to meet people that are anti-resolutions and don’t believe in the hype. While it’s admirable to have the mindset that you should have already started or to not wait until the New Year, it’s better to start now then never, right?

Setting your goals for 2016 is one thing; EVERYONE has goals they want to achieve this year. Reaching them, however, and even surpassing them is an entirely different story. There are a few overlooked steps that can help ensure you achieve your 2016 goals, and that is what we will be covering in this post. Here are 4 often-forgotten, but crucial, tips to staying on track and having an amazing New Year:

1. Plan, plan, plan

Have you really planned for your success in 2016? Again, you may have decided and even written down what you want to accomplish but have you come up with a plan? If your big goal is to make more money, have you figured out you will do that? If your big goal is to lose weight, have you decided what kind of meal plan you will set up that works for you? How you plan will look different for everyone, but it may involve utilizing a calendar, having an accountability partner or coach, or using an App on your phone to remind you.

2. Know Your ‘Why’

While this step may sound somewhat cheesy to many, it’s a step that can’t be passed up. You need to know why you want to achieve this goal and feel free to dig deep. In fact, the deeper you dig, the better. Why does your why matter? It’s important because the days when you don’t feel like going to the gym or you are tempted to do something that will put you a step or two backwards, your why will be the motivation to keep going!

3. Say it ONCE

This one will be tough for many because when you set goals you will want to talk about it to everyone you meet. And that’s okay because, after all, people should know so that they can hold you somewhat accountable to your goals. The problem is it never materializes into anything more than just talk. It’s easy to sit around and talk about going to the gym or how excited you are about becoming debt-free this year but be careful; too much talking can paralyze you into never acting on it. Say it once now and let your actions speak for itself for the remainder of the year.

4. Track Your Progress

Whatever your goal is, be sure to track how are you are doing. As mentioned in the first tip, there are an endless amount of free tools in your phone and on your computer that will allow you to track your successes and failures.

Do you have any other tips on keeping New Year’s resolutions? Let us know in the comments below!

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Condo Life in Downtown Louisville

Although New York City is infamously known as the "city that never sleeps", there is something to be said about the vibrant and energetic feel of downtown Louisville. You will be hard pressed to find a city that offers the opportunities of work, play, and more. There are over 15 different condominium complexes in downtown Louisville alone, which means there is always an opportunity to find your niche and have the convenience you've always wanted! 

Living in downtown Louisville offers many amenities, including:

Walking distance to some of the best restaurants in the state

Easy access to Waterfront Park, the Ohio River, and Southern Indiana (which ultimately means more convenience for you with big local events, such as Thunder Over Louisville and Light Up Louisville)

Are you a sports enthusiast? Enjoy quick access to the KFC Yum! Center and Slugger Field

Be entertained for hours with options such as 4th Street Live!, 21C Museum Hotel, Kentucky Science Center, Muhammad Ali Center, downtown festivals, and more

Are you convinced yet that downtown Louisville is the place for you? Why not position yourself to take full advantage of everything Louisville has to offer? Culture, music, sports, theater....it's all here!

If you are interested in learning more about some of the condos in downtown Louisville, check out the few that we have listed below!

Fleur de Lis on Main 

Soho on Main Lofts

Falls City Lofts

The Levy

River Park Place

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How Do Home Inspections Work?

There will be many times during a real estate transaction where it greatly benefits you as the buyer to have a real estate agent working for you. The three times in particular are:

  1. During the home search
  2. During the inspection process
  3. During the appraisal process

Although all three are crucial aspects of the home buying process, the inspection period can involve heavy negotiating and requires a great sense of familiarity with the process. So how does the inspection process work? What do the sellers fix? What if the sellers aren’t willing to fix important issues with the home?

What does the home inspection process generally entail?

Once the buyer is under contract on a property the home inspection part of the process begins. Generally the buyer will have 10 days to get a home inspection scheduled and completed in addition to submitting the repair request to the sellers. This 10-day time frame starts the day after the contract is accepted. We will provide the buyer with a list of recommended home inspectors that we work with, although they are free to choose any licensed home inspector they would like.

The home inspector will spend a few hours at the property doing the inspection. Once the inspection is complete the buyer will receive the in-depth inspection report. With assistance from their agent they will go through the report and come up with a list of items to request the seller to fix. Usually important items are highlighted, such as potential termites, plumbing issues, or electrical issues, as opposed to cosmetic fixes.

What are the sellers responsible for fixing?

Once the sellers receive the written repair request they will usually have three days to respond. There are three potential outcomes: they fix everything on the list, a few things on the list, or nothing at all. If they fix everything, great! If they are only willing to fix a few things, it should at least be the big issues noted in the previous paragraph. Otherwise it depends on the severity of the issue and how concerning it is to the buyer. Finally, if they aren’t willing to fix anything the buyer has the option to legally exit the contract and have the earnest money deposit returned to them. (If you aren’t familiar with what the earnest money deposit is, read our previous blog pertaining to the topic.)

We have agreed to repairs…now what?

Once both sides are happy with the agreed upon terms regarding the necessary repairs, the overall process will continue to the appraisal and beyond. The sellers have until the walkthrough, which is usually the day of or before closing, to complete the repairs. The sellers will provide the buyers with receipts as proof that all work was done by licensed and/or qualified professionals. During the walkthrough the buyer, with his or her agent, will go through the home with the repair request and receipts to ensure the work is in fact completed and satisfactory. 

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The Cost of Renting vs. Buying

At some point in life many will have an important decision to make: should you buy or rent a home? There are many significant points to consider and there really is no completely right answer. Renting may be the best option for some while buying is the preferable path to take. 

A Forbes.com article released in March 2014 stated that buying a home is now '38% cheaper than renting in the US.' This statistic is based on mortgage rates and home prices in the country, primarily among the 100 largest metro areas. Therefore, how much cheaper or expensive buying is compared to renting can and will change throughout the year. 

It's important to keep in mind that there are several costs associated with both buying and renting. Let's start with renting...

Cost of Renting

Rent. As a renter you will obviously have to pay rent to the landlord, which is usually in monthly increments. The lease that you the tenant and your landlord signs will detail how much rent is due every month and the late fee payment.

Utilities. On top of rent you will most likely have to pay utilities, including water, electricity, gas, trash, Internet, cable, etc. Some landlords will bundle utilities with the price of rent.

Broker's fee. If a broker helped you find a place to rent you should expect to pay a fee to the broker for their time and help. This is common with relocations and situations where the tenant isn't familiar enough with the area.

Renter's insurance. Many landlords will require you purchase renter's insurance to protect you and the property from potential damage.

Cost of Buying

Mortgage payments. Unless you pay for your home in cash you will have mortgage payments to make. These payments will be determined by many factors, primarily the amount of the loan, the duration of the mortgage, and the type of loan.

Earnest money deposit. The earnest money deposit is consideration...this is how the seller will know you are a serious buyer. This is necessary for many real estate transactions.

Utilities. Even though you are on your way to owning your house you will still have to pay utilities similar to if you were renting.

Taxes. Based on your marginal tax rate you will have to pay a particular amount for property taxes and mortgage-interest.

Closing costs. These are costs that may have to be paid no matter if you are selling or buying, it depends on the situation.

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Staging Your Home to Sell During the Holidays

Every home has it's strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of staging is that it allows you to highlight those strengths and downplay those weaknesses to ensure that you have the most interested buyers as possible walking through your front door. 

With the holidays coming up here are a few tips to keep in mind when decorating and staging your home:

  • Make sure your house is actually clean and staged before you decorate. Some may feel that holiday decorations can cover up certain potential downfalls of the home (home damage, uncleanliness, etc.); that is not the way to go about it. Beside the fact that it’s dishonest potential buyers will most likely get a sense of clutter if they notice that decorations are attempting to cover up messiness and it will turn them away. Be sure to clean and stage before you decorate.
  • The holidays generate a sense of coziness in your home; do what you can to create that vibe. This is where the first school of thought comes into play pertaining to doing more by doing less. This doesn’t mean you have to deck your home out with Christmas decorations if you don’t celebrate Christmas but you don’t want to create a barren feel that makes buyers not want to be there. Having Christmas and winter themed scents (such as pine cones and apple cider) is an easy way to bring a sense of coziness to your home. 
  • Use lights to your advantage. There’s less of a chance of sunlight beaming through your windows during the late-Fall and winter months; therefore, you should aim to use lighting to your advantage. Using a string of lights to accentuate the beauty and architecture of your home will do wonders for you. Try to avoid going overboard…maybe even avoid putting the large inflatable snowman that lights up in the front yard away this year. This can serve as a distraction away from what buyers are there to see: your home!
  • No matter your religion or beliefs, aim to stay neutral. This can really apply during all months of the year but especially during the months with big holidays. Although it is your right to have religious symbols anywhere your desire you should keep in mind that this could be a potential turn-off to potential buyers. Replace one of your religious symbols with a bowl of pine cones, perhaps…this way you are creating the aforementioned cozy vibe while most likely not offending anyone.
  • Be strategic with your Christmas tree. If you have a Christmas tree in your living room there are several things to keep in mind. If you house has tall ceilings a tall Christmas tree will accentuate this aspect of your living room. However you also don’t want a tree that has too large of a base where it’s going to take up a lot of space, giving the impression of a small living room. Tall, skinny trees will look sophisticated and not take too much space at the same time.
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Light Up Louisville 2015

The day after Thanksgiving is commonly known as Black Friday, featuring amazing sales and waves of shoppers at stores around the coutnry. This year in Louisville the same day will also mark the 35th Annual Light Up Louisville event in downtown Louisville.

The city will celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season by creating a 4-block festival of lights between the Galt House and 4th Street while listning to Christmas music. Santa Claus will arrive in Louisville and help light up the area with the help of Christmas cheer from the approximately 75,000 in attendance!

The Light Up Louisville parade will begin at 6:30pm and will feature festive lights, bands, carolers, floats, and every other thing that makes Christmas parades memorable. Santa Claus will arrive to the event around 8 pm, a half hour earlier than the usual 8:30 time slot. This year will feature an additional Christmas tree and a beautiful firework show as well as the Run, Run Rudolph 5K! This race will take place before the parade and it encourages avid runners, athletes, families, and chidlren to join in the festivities. Registration is $35 up until race day, when the price goes up to $40. 

Although all of this will be captured in one night it doesn't end there. 40 Nights of Lights will continue this year with nightly light shows through January 1st featuring a dancing light and music show along the 4th Street Live area. Also returning for its fourth year is the skating rink at 4th Street Live!

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What is the earnest money deposit and how much will it be?

Last month we wrote a post titled 'We Have An Accepted Offer...Now What?!' where we covered a lot of the important steps in the home buying process after getting an accepted offer. We answered common questions such as, "What is the time frame from an accepted offer to the closing table?" and "What are the things I will need to pay for out of pocket after the offer has been accepted?". In this post we are going to dive deeper into a very common element of the home buying process: the earnest money deposit. 

What is the earnest money deposit?

The earnest money deposit (EMD), also known as the good faith deposit, is a sum of money that is paid to the seller by the buyer. It's known as a good faith deposit for a reason: it shows the seller that you are a earnest/serious buyer by becoming somewhat invested in the home. The EMD goes toward the purchase of the home and becomes part of your investment in the property. 

How much should I expect to pay for the earnest money deposit?

The amount of the EMD will depend on the purchase price of the property; the more expensive the property, the higher the EMD will most likely be. A good rule of thumb to determine the amount of the EMD is to pay 1% of the purchase price. For example, if it's a $200,000 home, generally the EMD will be $2,000. Keep in mind, however, that the amount of the good faith deposit is negotiable. Many times your agent will recommend a lower amount to help decrease the liability that falls on you during the real estate transaction. By requesting that the earnest money be $500, for example, instead of 1%, this helps the buyer if they need to breach the contract and get out of the deal. They will then only lose $500 as opposed to 1%, which will usually be higher. 

Are there any situations that exist that would allow me to get the deposit back?

Yes, there are two contingencies in the contract that will allow the earnest money amount to be returned to you. The first contingency is the home inspection. If the home inspection is completed in the allotted time and any issue comes up that the buyer is not comfortable with, the buyer is entitled to exit the deal and have the EMD returned. 

The second contingency is the appraisal. The buyer's lender will send a licensed appraiser out to view the property and give an objective opinion on property's value. If it's a $100,000 property and the appraiser determines the value to be $95,000, the seller can come down or the buyer is entitled to exit the deal and have the EMD returned.

Where is the earnest money held?

Most of the time the earnest money check is held in the escrow account of the buyers agent's brokerage. This is, however, also negotiable. Holding the earnest money check in the buyers agent's brokerage makes it easier to access if it needs to be returned to the buyer. 

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November Pinterest Post - Peanut Butter Lovers Month

November is the favorite month of many people due to the cool weather, Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping, etc. There are many reasons to fall in love with November and we have one more reason to add to the list: peanut butter lovers month! That's right, November is annually celebrated as National Peanut Butter Lovers Month! This is perfect because, now that you know this tidbit, we just so happened to search Pinterest for some great peanut butter dessert recipes. Which one do you plan on making? 

No Bake Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Peanut Butter....and chocolate....and cheesecake?? This is a easy to make dessert that is surely going to be satisfying and delicious. Ingredients consist of :

Crust: 24 Oreo Cookies, 5 tablespoons of melted butter

Filling: 30 Reese's Miniatures cut in quarters, 24 oz. softened Cream Cheese, 8 oz. Whipped Topping (i.e. Cool Whip), 1 teasppon of Vanilla, 1 cup Powdered Sugar, 1 1/2 cup Peanut Butter

Click here for more photos and directions


Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispie Treats

Looking for a fun and easy recipe to get the kids in the family involved with? Try these tasty Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispie Treats! Ingredients consist of:

7 cups mini marshmallows, 7 tablespoons butter (divided), 1/2 cup peanut butter, 7 cups plain Rice Krispie cereal, 24 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, 1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips

Click here for more photos and directions


Super Easy Peanut Butter Fudge

Very simple recipe for a very delicious treat! While there are many recipes for peanut butter fudge floating around, you'll be hard pressed to find one like this. Ingredients consist of:

4 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 cups peanut butter, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Click here for more photos and directions


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Are you looking for an amazing, easy-to-make recipe for peanut butter cookies? Look no further! With only six ingredients (and no flour, butter, or white sugar used) these cookies are a home-run! Ingredients consist of:

1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 6 ounces semi-sweet, dark, or bittersweet chocolate

Click here for more photos and directions

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We have an accepted offer...now what?!

After days, weeks, and/or months looking for the right home for you and your family, you have finally submitted an offer that has been accepted by the seller. Congratulations! So what comes next? How much do you need to pay out of pocket for anything? How long will it take to get to the closing table? These are common questions that most home buyers and sellers have, especially if this is your first time buying or selling. Today we will cover what to expect after getting an accepted offer all the way up to closing!

“What is the time frame from an accepted offer to the closing table?”

The contract that you and the seller have agreed to will specify the closing date or time frame in which you can expect to close. On average the process to close on a home after an accepted offer in Louisville is 30-45 days. Of course, it could be sooner or much longer and there are many factors it depends on.

Factor #1: Buyer’s financing

Arguably the biggest factor that determines how fast a property can close is the type of financing the buyer plans to use, whether it be an FHA loan, conventional loan, a VA loan, or cash. After an accepted offer the buyer’s loan officer will work to get the loan pushed through underwriting to ensure the process is a smooth one.

Factor #2: Appraisal

The loan officer is also responsible for sending out a licensed appraiser after the home inspection is complete. The appraisal process will be different depending on the type of loan the buyer has. An FHA appraisal, for example, has certain guidelines that a property has to meet regarding safety and security.  

Factor #3: Home Inspection

After you get an accepted offer usually the first thing that happens is a home inspection is scheduled. The home inspector must be licensed and, for liability reasons, cannot be chosen by the buyer’s Realtor. The Realtor can, however, recommend a list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past and allow the buyer to choose. The buyer is usually given 10 days started the day after the offer has been accepted to find an inspector, schedule the inspection, have the home inspection completed, and submit a repair request to the seller. Depending on what repairs are needed, the time frame from an accepted offer to the closing table can be somewhat affected.

“As the buyer, what are the things I will need to pay for out of pocket after the offer has been accepted?”

What the buyer will need to pay for out of pocket can depend on the type of loan and program you are using with your lender. It also depends on what is negotiated before the accepted offer. For all intents and purposes, let’s cover the most common items that will need to be paid for:

  • Earnest money, TBD: Earnest money, or good faith deposit, is the buyer’s way of showing that they are serious about the property. The price can be any amount and is always negotiable between buyer and seller but the standard amount is 1% of the purchase price (i.e. if a property gets an accepted offer for $100,000, the typical earnest money amount would be $1,000).  
  • Home inspection, $250-500: The price of the home inspection will depend on the size of the home, the geographic location, and the quality of work the inspector performs. Some inspectors will take photos during the inspection (always recommended) while others won’t. Call around the city as well as the inspectors recommended to you by your agent to get an idea of a more accurate price.
  • Appraisal, $300-$400: The appraisal will protect the buyer from paying for more than a property is worth. If there is an accepted offer on a property for $100,000 and the appraisal comes back at $95,000, either the seller will have to come down to the $95,000 price point or the appraisal contingency in the contract will allow the buyer to exit the deal. The appraisal is ordered through the buyer’s lender and, in some cases, even paid for by the lender depending on the loan program.
  • Down payment, depends on financing: The amount of the down payment depends on the buyer’s financing. If it’s an FHA loan it is standard for the buyer to put down 3.5% for their down payment. If it’s a conventional loan it is standard for the buyer to put down a minimum of 10% for their down payment but 20% is not uncommon.
  • Closing costs, TBD: Closing costs are often negotiated to have the seller pay them before an offer is accepted. The amount is usually 2-5% of the purchase price and covers things such as a loan origination fee, attorney’s fees, title insurance, etc. 
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The 2015 Porktoberfest is this Friday evening!

Pork lovers will be uniting this Friday October 9th from 5-10pm for the 3rd Annual Porktoberfest! Festivities for Porktoberfest will take place at Copper and Kings at 1111 E. Washington St. Admission is $2 for all participants and will include one taste; additional food and drink will be sold separately.

If you have not gotten the chance to experience this event the past two years now is your chance! There will be numerous local restaurants cooking and serving up pork-inspired cuisines and foods that will leave you wanting more and marking your calendar for next year’s Porktoberfest. If that’s not enough to get you to come out to this tasty event, keep in mind that all proceeds raised will go directly to the Butchertown Neighborhood Association. This is important as it will help keep the Butchertown area growing in a positive direction!

There will be wonderful live music, cocktails provided by Copper & Kings, beer provided by Apocalypse Brew, and much more. The highlight, however, will be the cooking competition where the judges and crowd will vote in several categories! Some of the top chefs in Louisville will compete for many titles, including ‘Best Dessert’, ‘Best Vegetarian’, ‘Most Creative’, and ‘Best in Show’.

So let’s get to the ‘meat’ of the event…which chefs and restaurants will be participating? You will get the chance to try delicious foods from restaurants that are not even open yet, including Royals Hot Chicken, Red Hog Tapas, and Commonwealth Cured. Some of the other local places competing and participating include Gralehaus (voted ‘Best Overall Pork’ and ‘People’s Choice’ at 2014 Porktoberfest ), Feast BBQ (voted ‘Most Creative’ at 2014 Porktoberfest), Wiltshire (voted ‘Best Vegetarian’ at 2014 Porktoberfest), Toonerville Deli, Rye, and Galaxie.

The 2015 Porktoberfest is sponsored by the participating restaurants, as well as the White Clay, The Eye Care Institute, The Butchertown Grocery, and the Butchertown Neighborhood Association. Bring the family out to experience the smells and sights of this wonderful event and, of course, to PIG out! The event will be held rain or shine but will be outside weather permitting. One of the biggest benefits of this event, according to the Butchertown Neighborhood Association, is two-fold: to find great, local food options that celebrate the history of Butchertown and to bring people from across the area “who may not know much about the neighborhood.”

For more information, check out Butchertown’s Facebook page. 

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16th Annual Week in the Highlands

It’s the time of the year where festivals and fall activities take place all over the city of Louisville. There are arguably none, however, that match the excitement of the weeklong event in the Highlands. The 16th annual Week in the Highlands will take place from October 3rd to the 11th and is sure to deliver all different types of fun for everyone!

The week kicks off on Saturday October 3rd with the Highlands Cup 5K Run/Walk. What better way to start the event than with a fun and healthy walk/run to get you and your family moving? Participants will start at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church at 8am and will end up at Cherokee Park’s Big Rock, where they will turn around and make their way back to the finish line. You will get a chance to see some of the most historic and beautiful homes in the city that are approaching a century in age! Early registrants ($25 for adults and $20 for youths 14 and under) will be guaranteed a long-sleeve race shirt.

If you’re a fan of scavenger hunts you are truly in for a treat! During the entire Week in the Highlands event you will get the chance to participate in the Highlands Scavenger Hunt. Hunters will search shops, restaurants, and businesses on Bardstown Rd, Baxter Ave, and Barret Ave to search for answers to clues that you are given. Here is an example of the clue given at Wick’s Pizza: “Want to know how a Wick’s Pizza will enhance your “future” (other than the great feeling inside your belly)? Find me and I will “tell” you my name.” Hunters will then take their found “treasures” into a $5 raffle for a chance to win one of 3 prizes: $100, $50, or $25 gift certificate to your favorite participating location!

Here is a full breakdown on all of the events taking place during the Week in the Highlands:

Saturday October 3 – Highlands Cup 5K Run/Walk | 8am | Douglass Boulevard Christian Church

Saturday October 3 – Pancake Breakfast to benefit HCM | 8:30am | Douglass Blvd Christian Church Gym

Sunday October 4 – Big Rock Jazz & Blues Fest | 2-7pm | Big Rock area of Cherokee Park

Thursday October 8 – Empty Bowls Hunger Benefit | 5:30-8pm | Bellarmine University – Frazier Hall

Friday October 9 – Belknap Festival Eve | 6-10pm | Historic Douglass Loop

Friday October 9 – Farmington’s Inaugural Oktoberfest | 6-10pm | Farmington Historic Plantation

Saturday October 10 – 21st annual Belknap Fall Festival | 11am-11pm | Historic Douglass Loop

Sunday October 11 – 14th annual Farmington Harvest Festival | 10am-5pm | Farmington Historic Plantation

Saturday October 3 – Sunday October 11 – Highlands Scavenger Hunt 

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