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Red, White and Blue

Are you active or discharge military and thinking about buying a home? Did you know that you can get a mortgage through the Veteran's Administration with no minimum credit score, no down payment and a great interest rate?  

Mortgage loans for the military are a great benefit. There are a few helpful things to know before you begin your search:

1) Get in touch with me so we can meet to discuss how I can best achieve meeting all of your real estate goals.
2) Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the V.A. This process can take 4-6 weeks.
3) You'll need social security numbers, pay stubs and debt obligations to give to the lender.

As the home search gets underway I will assist you in getting an offer submitted.  Then you'll have a few more steps in home buying process:

1) Loan approval does require a V.A. qualified appraisal. As long as there are no health and safety issues, you move forward.
2) You'll take care of getting the home inspected to insure that all of the systems of the home are in operable condition.

Closing on the home will typically take 4-6 weeks from the time your offer was accepted.  You will be responsible for any fees that aren't approved by the V.A. Expect to pay about 1% of the loan as a loan origination fee, plus "reasonable and customary" fees such as homeowners insurance and credit reports.  Your V.A. home loan benefit is ongoing; you can use it again to refinance or to buy another home someday.

Remember, I will be with you every step of the way.  Thank you for your incredible service to our country. 


Won't You Be My Neighbor


neigh - bor - ly

Definition of neighborly: of, relating to, or characteristic of congenial neighbors, especially FRIENDLY
a neighborly welcome

So, you're probably wondering why I am regurgitating the works of Merriam-Webster.  Last month at one of my closings, my clients and I shook hands and made a pact that we would be more neighborly in the future.  You see, this couple, they were my neighbors.  I want to be clear in saying we never had ill will towards one another, it's just that I had zero interaction with them.  My side yard butted up to their backyard.  There was a screen of large evergreens and a fence that kept us divided.  They are not outdoorsy people and never hung out in their backyard and I never made an effort to get out of my comfort zone and get to know them.

They hired me me to list their home and through the process we became very close.  We said our good-byes as they were moving several states away.  As I reflect on the "pact" that we made to be more neighborly and as I work on how to live that out, I am reminded that this is one of the great commandments, "love thy neighbor".  And who is my neighbor?  Simple. It is anyone that God places in my path.

Here's to being more neighborly.

Managing a Later-In-Life Move

If you or a loved one is contemplating a "Later-In-Life" move, I have 3 key points that are very helpful.

There are many decisions to be made around a later in life move.  Take time to plan ahead and allow as much time as possible for the move and all of the changes that come with it.

Be proactive rather than reactive.  The most successful later life moves are those where the senior adult feels like they have some control over the process and decisions are made.

"Too soon" is better than "too late".  Don't wait for a crisis to hit to propel you forward, be an advocate for your own transition process.


Selling? Make your home shine!


So, you're ready to list your home?  Here are some great tips to make your home shine:

1. Take a Fresh Look at Your Home
Your home looks great to you, but a buyer wants to see it since he and his family will be living in it -- so take a fresh look at your dwelling. Hop in your car, drive around the block, and then scrutinize your home as a prospective buyer will see it for the first time. First, consider what's called "street appeal;" does it need washing or painting? Does the driveway need repair work? Is the landscaping in good shape? Remember, be very critical; your buyer will be.

Next, pull into the driveway and take a good, hard look. Is the yard neat and trimmed? What about the view from the front yard? Then, walk inside and size up the interior as though seeing it for the first time. Take a tour and imagine what your real estate agent might say about each room, look into cabinets, open doors, check out the bathroom.

Then, make a mental note of the things that might put off potential buyers, along with another list of the things that first attracted you to the dwelling. Remember, the home's become a great place for you, but a new buyer will see things that you don't.

2. Clean Out the Clutter Before You Start to Sell
Before putting your home on the market, get rid of clutter in every area -- closets, attic storage, kitchen cabinets, drawers, bath vanities, and shelves -- everywhere. Remember, this is no time to be sentimental: if you don't use it, lose it. Potential buyers are seriously put off by clutter, and most of us drag a lot more things through life than we really need.

Also, don't forget the furniture and fixtures when getting rid of clutter -- most of us put too much in too little space, which makes a buying prospect, think your home is too small.

Then, have a great moving sale with all the stuff you've collected and use the proceeds for paint or whatever other materials you need for repair projects. If you just can't bear to part with some possessions, store them in the attic or some other place that's out of sight to a potential buyer.

3. To Sell, Sell, Sell -- Clean, Clean, Clean
After you've cleared out the clutter, it's time to really clean. Have the carpets professionally cleaned, strip and polish the floors, scour the bathrooms, go over the laundry room, polish the furniture, scour out the cabinets, wash the windows and window coverings, and spiff up the ceiling fans and kitchen appliances. In short, clean everything.

Don't forget the exterior; paint or power-wash everything that needs the work. Remember, this is a ceiling-to-floor, roof-to-foundation clean-up project.

4. Get More for Your Home: Repairs Pay Off
After you've cleaned the place to within an inch of its life, the next project is making all the repairs necessary to attract a buyer.

So, patch up the roof, touch up all the paint, repair the screens, spruce up the porch framing, and make your entry area really shine. Don't forget to water the lawn and landscape beds, and take the time to trim, mow, edge and get rid of sick or dying plants. Inside, fix the grout in the bathrooms and on tile floors, adjust any doors that need it, fix any scratches on the walls, cover any stains, and be sure to fix any plumbing problems. Remember, do what your home needs before the first buyer appears at your door.

Also, it's a good idea to get all this done before getting the real estate broker to make the first listing -- a good agent will advise you on what needs to be done. Also, if you have friends willing to be brutally honest about what your home needs to sell, invite them to assess the fix-up needs.

There is, however, an alternative to the sweat equity you get from a total fix-up --but it carries a price. An "as-is" sale keeps you from doing all this work, but a buyer will assess about twice the price you would have paid for the repairs. Then, the buyer will deduct that amount from your asking price before making an offer.

5. Putting Your Home on the Market: Show It to Sell It
After you have cleaned, shined, mowed, and generally whipped your property into shape, it's time to attract a buyer.

Regardless of who markets your home, you or a broker, there are other, small things you must do to attract buyers. For example, even if it's bright daylight, open the blinds and turn on the lights. Also, open all the interior doors to make the home appear roomier. Be sure to remove all your kids and pets -- they're cute, but a prospect wants to see your home, not your pride and joy. In addition, make sure your pet's litter pan is clean so the home smells clean and fresh, not like air freshener. Remember, you need to make sure your home is available to be seen by a prospective buyer with as little notice as possible. That means less than an hour, or even five minutes, if possible.

6. Get a Sense of the Market
Before you put your home on the market, take a weekend day to check out the competition: homes with similar prices and in similar neighborhoods. Remember, you don't have to go out and buy new furniture just to look like that beautiful new model in the new development -- what you want is the feel of that new model -- clean, uncluttered, and fresh.

Remember, after location, the most important item to a buyer is a well maintained home. Many flaws can be overlooked if the buyer knows he can move in without a lot of trouble and expense.

Ready For Spring and Fresh Air?


Oh, the anticipation of the arrival of spring.  A time when we are ready to open up the windows and put behind the months spent cooped up indoors.  A time for fresh air!

Air quality does tend to suffer the most during the winter months which can adversely affect one's health.  Here are a few handy tips to ensure the year long healthy air:

  • Avoid burning candles made with paraffin wax as toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene are released into your home.
  • Inspect bathrooms and basements growing mold which affect indoor air quality by releasing mold spores. 
  • Don't forget to check out your ductwork for mold, dust and debris. 
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors and be sure to make sure your existing detectors are functioning properly. Periodically inspect all sources of CO.
  • Avoid scented air fresheners, bleach, ammonia and other chemicals due to high toxicity.


The Great Balancing Act


The Great Balancing Act!

The great balancing act.  That's how I would describe my career as a Professional Realtor.  I've heard many people say they want to dive into real estate because they believe they will have so much flexibility in their schedule. Or because they will have a an instant 5-star financial portfolio. Or even better yet, because they just love people.  I would say there may be some truth to those reasons, but I have certainly learned the art of a stretching a dollar when months have passed without a paycheck. And I have learned that there are many holidays that I will work tirelessly while in the midst of a deal and time is of the essence.  I've also learned that there are many personalities and people that are challenging to love.  Shifting markets, problem solving, self-discipline, sour deals and surprises are just some of my day to day happenings. And I strive to do it all with a smile.

I didn't grow up thinking, "Yes, I want to be a Realtor" and I haven't been in this career for decades, but I know that I've had the joy (and sometimes heartache) in some of life's experiences that have aided me in bolstering my skills and abilities to perform my job with passion and professionalism. From my early days working in the corporate world of procurement and purchasing I learned some fierce negotiating tactics.  My years as a homemaker,  mother of four children, some time in the wedding industry and as primary care-giver for an aging grandparent helped develop much of my character.  With a chuckle I can confidently say that I have the stamina, tenacity and the stomach to see even the most challenging of deals through to its completion.  Much of my business experience stems from 20 years of running a business.  And not just any business, but the automotive repair industry where I learned that there is no such thing as a comfort zone. Balance became the name of the game!
As I write this I am preparing to close on two deals this afternoon.  One is for a newlywed couple making the purchase of their lifetime.  The excitement is contagious and I can barely contain myself as I'm sharing in this joyful moment with them.  The other is for a sweet couple in their golden years and very apprehensive to be selling the home they've shared for 46 years. The home where they raised their children.  The home where they held their first great-grandchild. They aren't as excited as those newlyweds, as a matter of fact, they have a heaviness and sadness in saying goodbye.  I'm there to hold their hands, to make this as smooth as possible for them and I'll be there when they call me next week from their new condominium stating that they feel so liberated that they should have done this 10 years ago. This great balancing act is quite a Joy-Ride!
Christina Cain
Professional Realtor

Light Em Up


Looking to add a little extra spirit to your new home this holiday season? Brighten it up with an updated Christmas light experience. And since we’re heading into the year 2017, we all know it could use a little updating.

Whether you’re an experienced Christmas lights fanatic or just getting started as a new homeowner, Drew Night from New Home Source has  10 Christmas light ideas that can definitely help you up your game this year:

10) Time It Right

The easiest way to update your lighting system this year is to put it on a timer.

Many retailers sell a 3-outlet mechanical timer with multiple settings.

This one’s almost a must-have, because who wants to go outside in the snow to unplug it all?

9) Rope ‘Em In

Tired of the typical string lights and icicles? Switch it up & try rope lighting.

Perfect for wrapping around columns, banisters and tree trunks, rope lighting adds a modern appeal to your Christmas lights display.

8) Supersized Decor

From inflatables to Christmas light sculptures, you’ve seen them in all the best holiday displays … but they’re not for everyone.

Some communities have guidelines and restrictions toward how “supersized” and how bright you can actually go, so before your develop a plan, check in with your HOA — and next-door neighbors — to make sure you’re not going overboard.

7) Cast a Net

Have a good supply of foliage in your front yard? Instead of lighting it up branch by branch with string lighting, take the easy way out with netted lights.

Save time and energy by casting a net over a bush or tree in moments.

6) Brighten Your Path

A Christmas décor staple for many holiday spirit enthusiasts, simple path lighting is an easy way to add character and cheer.

If you have a stretch of sidewalk or driveway in front of your home, light the way with some pathway markers. For example, candy canes to oversized light bulbs.

5) Raise the Curtain

A rarer treat you don’t see too often is the Christmas light curtain.

Perfect for draping across your front window or from your porch rafters, a light curtain has a whimsical cascading effect.

4) Go Green with LED

With the help of LED lighting, the future is now.

When compared to the bulbs of the past, LED Christmas lights generally have a longer life, carry less risk of electrical fire and are more energy efficient — many even come with Energy Star certifications.

Available in fairy or dewdrop, regular style and even solar power. You will love these might lights.

3) Holiday Projections

Rounding out our top three are projector lights, similar to what you’d see at a rock concert or theater.

2) Custom Colors

If you really want to get technical, check out Philips Iluminate C9 lights series. This selection of holiday lighting allows you to customize your light show every night with different colors and moods.

Try a luminate app on a smart phone or tablet, you can browse through colors or create your own, select one of the many preloaded functions (like warm or cool) and even change the speed of these functions.

It’s the perfect way to get your first go at the world of extreme Christmas lighting.

1) Put on a Show

Are you ready for viral video fame? This No. 1 tip can help you get there.

The Home Depot sells a system to help sync your lights along with your favorite holiday songs. Dubbed the Holiday Brilliant Spectacular Light and Sound Show, this series of products can detect the pulse of music you select and trigger the lights to match the beat.

These products allow you to select your music via Bluetooth from a computer, smartphone or tablet, control it up to 30 feet away and amplify the sound to suit your needs. Thank you Drew!

Happy holidays and may all your Christmases be bright!


Selling Your Home During the Holidays


Thank you Changing Streets for this practical article on holiday home decorating while you have a For Sale sign in the front yard.

If you are one of those people who love to decorate and you're trying to sell your home during the holidays, you may need to rein in your enthusiasm for decoration just a bit. Here are some general guidelines for holiday decorating while your home is on the market:
  • Even before you add any sort of decoration make sure you've cleaned and put away anything that's cluttering your home both inside and out. Start packing all the knick knacks, pictures and other things you won't need right now. It makes your house appear cleaner and more open.
  • Try to be light-handed and tasteful with your decorations. Add things that enhance your interior features and décor with little touches here and there. For example, if you have arched doorways or a beautiful fireplace add some decorations that will draw a buyer's eye to them. Decorate with things that complement the paint colors, carpeting, furniture, etc. in your home. Also, delicious smells like freshly baked cookies or hot apple cider are always good when your house is being shown.
  • As you are trying to sell your home, try to keep your decorations more neutral. Christmas trees are fine however make sure they aren't so big that they engulf your floor space. You want to make sure your home and yard feel as large and spacious as possible. 
  • Always keep in mind that less is usually more.
If you are thinking about putting your home on the market during this upcoming holiday season, call me and I will guide you step by step through the selling process until your house is sold.

In the Pocket


Pocket Listing Chit Chat

The MLS (also known as the Multiple Listing Service), is set up for members (mostly real estate agents & brokers) to provide potential home buyers as many choices and provide home owners more opportunities to sell their homes at top dollar. Members of the MLS also agree to share their listings with other brokers a reasonable time, usually within a day after the listing agreement has been signed.

Marketing a home takes time and prepare. Sellers need time to paint, declutter, stage, and make make any necessary repairs.  The listing agency will need time to take pictures, make videos, get tax information, write descriptions, etc. 

Until the listing is "live", most agents consider it a "pocket listing".  The listing agency can market the home to their own buyers and as a "coming soon" listing. 

So what is the advantage of pocket listings? Brokers will sometime sell these listings to their own buyers before the public is aware of the listing.  And sellers can sell their home quickly.

It is important that buyers are ready to make a quick decision when viewing a pocket listing. 



If your home's wiring is ungrounded, it's not proper to simply add 3-prong receptacles or use a 3-prong adapter. Appliances and electronics with 3-prong plugs are meant to be used in grounded outlets to protect the item. 
There is a simple work-around you can do without upgrading your electrical system if you do not have grounded outlets in areas where you need them. Adding Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) receptacles at locations you need to use 3-prong plugs will give you the protection you need. GFCI receptacles have the test and reset buttons built into them.
*If you use a GFCI receptacle to protect an ungrounded outlet, make sure to put the sticker that comes with the outlet to inform users that the outlet is actually ungrounded (per the National Electrical Code). Some appliances do require a ground wire connection to function properly (check your appliance manual). See photo to the left for the proper sticker.
Manufacturers recommend GFCI receptacles be tested once a month and be replaced if the test or reset buttons fail. Safety first!
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