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The advantages of buying a property through a real estate agent

There are several benefits to purchasing a property through a real estate agent. See below for just some of the reasons why you should hire an expert.

  • Education - A qualified agent has been educated in the real estate market and has valuable professional experience in assisting in the sale and purchase of properties.
  • Pricing expertise - Agents will tell you when a house is overpriced or underpriced according to the comparables.
  • Buffers - Agents will field phone calls from contractors (if you are looking at new construction) or homeowners, saving you time and aggravation.
  • Location information - Agents either have knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and advise you if a neighborhood is likely to hold its value.
  • Code knowledge - An agent will be familiar with local zoning ordinances and answer any questions you may have regarding future construction.
  • Skilled negotiators - Agents can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and submit requests objectively and forward them to the seller. They are professionals who are trained to present their client's case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.
  • Paperwork - Property transactions require a lot of paperwork. One mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands, so it really pays to let a licensed professional guide you.

For additional information on the home buying process, contact your local CENTURY 21 office today.

Home Maintenance Tips For Fall

As summer fades into fall, see our checklist to preserve the health of your home.

  1. Clean the gutters: As you clear leaves, dirt, and pine needles from gutters, examine downspouts for damage. Check the flashing around your chimney and look for damage to the roof that may lead to leaks
  2. Change the filters: Change the air filter in your central air conditioning system or if you have a window air conditioning unit, remove from the window or place a waterproof cover over it to prevent damage. Change filters in stove vents, clothes dryers and room fans if applicable.
  3. Drafty days: Evaluate the seal and caulking around the window frames to prevent losing heat in the winter.
  4. Fix leaky faucets: Avoid broken pipes in cold winter months and repair leaky faucets in your kitchen, baths, and laundry room now.
  5. Clean sweep: Examine and clean your fireplace damper and ensure the flue is operating correctly. A professional chimney sweep may be necessary.
  6. In hot water: Often, if you live in an area with hard water, extra amounts of sediments build up in your hot water heater. Drain and make sure rust is not developing.

Save money...even when dining out

  1. Go for lunch instead of dinner, entrees are cheaper.
  2. Eat earlier and take advantage of twilight specials or happy hour menus.
  3. Skip drinks and opt for tap water.
  4. Have dessert at home.
  5. Look for coupons or discounts on weeknights.


How to get your asking price as the housing market improves


Posting the first annual increase in five years, home values rose slightly over this time last year, reports Zillow, the online real estate site. In fact, nearly one-third of the 157 metropolitan areas tracked by Zillow showed annual price increases. This is good news for homeowners who have been waiting to put their houses on the market. Before you do, a few simple spruce-ups can help get your asking price.

"The housing market's recovery continues to show tremendous variation market by market. Sixty-nine of the 157 markets covered by the Zillow Home Value Forecast are expected to see increases in home values over the next year, with the largest increases expected in the Phoenix metro (9.9 percent) and the Miami metro (6.1 percent)," said Zillow on its website. "We believe that 96 out of the 157 markets have already hit a bottom in home values, including Boston, Miami and Phoenix."

Improve the view. No matter where you live, it pays to keep your home well-maintained. Curb appeal is the first thing to consider. As the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Look at your entryway. Is the paint peeling or faded? Are your shrubberies overtaking the sidewalk? Take the time to scrape away any old paint and apply a new coat. Sherwin-Williams Duration Gloss, our top-rated semi-gloss is the only one in our exterior paint tests that has a primer built-in. After the equivalent of nine years' worth of exposure, the Sherwin-Williams was still looking very good and would be a good choice for painting a front door.

Whack the weeds. As for that overgrown walkway, a capable string trimmer can help you vanquish the vines and weeds in no time. In Consumer Reports' string trimmer tests, the top-rated gas models were best at slicing through tall grass and weeds. But if you don't like the hassle of a gas-powered unit, several light duty electric models, including the Homelite UT41110, at $30 a CR Best Buy, were very good or better at this job.

Neutralize garish rooms. Sprucing up the paint inside the house also makes your home more attractive, especially if you've painted some rooms bright colors that might not appeal to the average buyer. The best course of action is to choose white, off-white or another neutral color. "Safe colors like this will appeal to most people, increasing the odds that your home will sell," advises the Paint Quality Institute. And it'll cost you well under $100. Check our top-rated interior paints for the best choices.

Brighten the bathroom. Outdated kitchens and bathrooms are typically the chief complaint of prospective home buyers. But you don't have to invest in an entire remodel to improve their appearance. Here again paint can do wonders but so can replacing the countertops, sink or floor. Bathrooms have replaced kitchens as the most remodeled room in the home because they tend to be smaller and you don't have to buy all those appliances. As we reported in our Bathroom remodeling guide, small details can make a big difference. Stain-resistant grout, framed mirrors and a heated towel bar are just some ideas.

Kick the kitchen up a notch. For the kitchen, you don't need a bottomless budget to get a top-notch kitchen. In the Luxury look for less, we suggest top-rated affordable alternatives to pricey appliances, countertops, flooring and more. But be forewarned, poor planning and shoddy workmanship are two of the costliest mistakes homeowners make when undertaking a remodeling project. If you're about to embark on one, best to invest a few months going to showrooms and talking to professionals.

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission








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