Category: Home Tips

How to Sell Your Home Over the Holidays

Selling your property during the holiday season isn’t impossible – here’s how to get started.

It’s always in debate over when homeowners should put their property on the market for the best chance that it will sell. In reality, there is no bad season to do this. While summer is a great time to list your home, so is winter! People need to sell homes year-round and the best time for them is to sell when they have to. 

Although inclement weather and the looming holidays may put off some homeowners, if you need to list your home, there are some tricks to help you sell before the New Year.

Festive Appearance

Stay relevant (and festive!) by decorating your home for the holidays. It’s important to note that it is easy to go overboard, but aim to keep decorations neat and tasteful. After all, you want the potential buyer to focus on your home rather than the light up Frosty in the yard. A simple string of lights that compliment your house will go a long way.

Take Welcoming Photos

Ideally, you want to take photos of your home before the holiday decorations go up. Although your beautifully decorated tree is stunning to look at, buyers may miss your panoramic windows or wooden floors. It is only natural to have your eyes drawn to a large image in a picture.

Add Holiday Charm

It’s important to remember what the holidays are all about. Make your home a warm and inviting place and buyers may fall in love on the spot. You can even go a step further and whip up some cinnamon cookies or serve hot cider. Not only does it make a huge impression on homebuyers, but it will also make your kitchen smell fantastic and festive!

Buying and selling a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Steps on How to Improve Your Credit Before You Buy

Improve those three figures to better position yourself for securing a home loan.

Although you may have saved up for a down payment on a new house, if you have an average credit score, you may have a hard time qualifying for a mortgage and buying the home of your dreams. The good news is that there is a lot that you can do to improve your score. Check out these tips for a much better chance of getting approved and locking in an affordable interest rate.

Pay Off Your Credit Cards

Think about it. You’re trying to prove to a lender that you can have a reasonable amount of debt, but pay it off in time. If you miss a payment, even if it was an honest mistake, it could significantly impact your credit score. Ensure that you pay bills as soon as they come in the mail, or set up an auto charge on your account so that the money is always deducted from your account before the deadline. Don’t forget to do this on all of your debt, including credit cards, student loans, and auto loans.

Review Your Credit Report

Get a free credit report, observing each report closely for any mistakes or discrepancies. Mistakes do happen and you don’t want to be the last to know. If you do spot a mistake, resolve it right away.

Don’t Take on Any More Debt

Even though you may want new furniture for your new home and a sparkling new car for the driveway, it’s best to hold off on acquiring any more debt until you’ve landed a mortgage. You want your credit report to look as clean as possible when you send in your application, and many new inquiries may raise red flags for lenders.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

Home Features Buyers Will Pay More For

Is it worth investing in features that could land your home a ‘Sold’ sign?

Homeowners are sometimes hesitant to upgrade when it’s time to sell. It’s understandable, since they don’t intend to live there much longer, and the home remodeling efforts only increase home values by 64 percent of the average project’s costs. But it’s time for sellers to think again. The cost of a few simple upgrades isn’t necessarily wasted money.

To make the most of your remodeling budget, focus on features that more buyers really want to see and may even pay more for.

Exterior Lighting

Illuminating a well-manicured lawn with warm exterior lighting can help to grab potential buyers’ attention before they even set foot in the front door. What’s more, exterior lighting also serves as an added safety feature for your home, especially if lights above entryways are motion-sensor lights.

Energy Efficiencies

These days, everyone is eco-conscious, and many are looking for ‘green’ homes that have energy efficient appliances and windows. Buyers are most impressed with Energy-Star qualified choices that in no way limit their comfort. Energy-Star qualified windows have unique properties that reduce undesirable heat gain and loss in the home.

Fresh Carpet

Few things are as vile as an old carpet that is worn, has strong odors, and is peeling away from the floorboards. In a busy home, it doesn’t take long for a new carpet to look shabby. While more and more buyers prefer wood floors throughout, carpeting in the bedroom is great as long as it is in good condition. If not, it’s a deal breaker.

Eat-In Kitchen

An eat-in kitchen is a must-have for many buyers, especially families with children. It’s a space that’s ideal for families rushed in the morning and relaxed in the evening. To create this, you may need to remove a wall for a small table, but this can be relatively inexpensive.

 Smarter Storage

While open floor plans are getting more popular, the amount of storage needed becomes ever more important. It’s critical to have the right amount of out-of-sight storage for kitchen items, along with flexible spaces that homeowners can adapt to their needs, such as wine storage or a workstation.

When you need help obtaining a smart mortgage, contact Dean Rathbun. We can help you determine the right plan of action for your real estate needs.

Renters: Should You Break a Lease to Buy Your Home?

Renters, when is it right to break a lease?

One of the advantages of renting versus owning a home is that you’re not burdened with the task of trying to sell the property if you move. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can just walk away from a lease agreement before it’s set to expire without facing some kind of penalty. Even so, if you’re a renter looking to move onto the property market, sometimes a home is too good to pass up, causing you to consider breaking your lease. Here are some tips for doing it the right way.

Check Out Your Rental Agreement

Before you hand in your notice, you need to look over your lease to see what you’re responsible for if you leave ahead of schedule. For example, your landlord may require you to pay the remaining rent for the rest of the lease term in full, or at least hand over a certain percentage of what’s owed. You may also lose your security deposit.

Let Your Landlord Know Early

Telling your landlord, you need to move may not be the most pleasant conversation, but it’s still one you need to have. If you have a solid reason for having to relocate, don’t hesitate to clue them in. What’s more, if you’re in a good relationship with your landlord, he/she may be willing to look for a new tenant while you work on moving out. The more notice you can give, the more time they will have to find someone to take your place. In some states, landlords are required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the property, so it’s to your benefit to show you’re trying to make it as easy as possible for them.

Tell Your Realtor

Your realtor is there to look out for you. Often, your realtor can fill the property with a new tenant in order to make moving into your new home a smooth and seamless transition – without any more financial burdens than necessary. Talk to your realtor to let them know you are eager to buy and move from your rented accommodation.

Be Aware of the Consequences

Packing up and leaving in the middle of the night is an absolute no-no. You open the door to a civil lawsuit if they decide to sue you for the outstanding rent balance owned on the lease. If they win, you could be in big financial trouble. Not only that, but your landlord could report you to the credit bureaus. This mark could stay on your report for up to seven years!

When in doubt, ask a professional for advice. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Why Fall is a Great Time to Buy

The autumnal season is an ideal time to find your perfect property.

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice bagels. Autumn is truly upon us. While this is great news for pumpkin spice fans, it’s also a great time for homebuyers. In the housing market, autumn tends to favor the buyers over the sellers, making it an ideal time to land your dream home.

Read on to see the three reasons why fall is a great time to buy a home!

Less competition. Many people make major transitions during the summer. For families with children out of school, summer is the ideal time to move, as doing so during the school year can be difficult. Many buyers want to be all settled in before the series of fall and winter holidays begin. As a result, once autumn hits, you see the desire to move drop, resulting in fewer homebuyers. In turn, fewer buyers mean fewer offers for sellers, so you have greater ability to negotiate.

Eager sellers. For the same reasons that so many people look to purchase homes in the summer, many try to sell homes during the summer. Like buyers, sellers are seeking to make a big transition as well. Eager to move to make it into their new home before the holidays and to stop paying two mortgages, sellers are more motivated during this time. Once again, your ability to negotiate increases.

Agent availability. With fewer buyers, agents can spend more time with their autumn customers. They will spend more time searching for the best available homes on the market so that you experience the best possible service. Fall is an excellent time to utilize a real estate agent.

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Red Flags to Look For During a Home Inspection

With the help of your home inspector and your own observation skills, check out these red flags to look for when buying a home.

Buying a home is an action-filled task. The process will pull at your heartstrings, challenge your patience, and impact your personal finances. Home inspections are an effective tool in locating issues with the property. It is a check of the house’s structural and mechanical condition, from the roof down to the foundation. It may also test for the presence of radon gas and wood-destroying insects. If the inspection uncovers significant issues, the buyer may be able to walk away from the deal.

Be aware of these signs that could signal trouble with the house.

Electrical Issues

An old electrical system can be a major fire hazard and expensive to update, and you want to ensure that the wiring is up to current code to protect your home and family. Be on the lookout for threats like outlets that don’t have the modern ground fault interrupter (GFI), aluminum wiring, overloaded plugs, and wiring that looks like it’s amateur work.

Faulty Foundation

A cracked or crumbling foundation calls for attention and repair, with costs ranging from moderate to extremely expensive. If you shop for older homes, there may be a possibility that the entire foundation needs to be replaced.


This is an issue that most people think is caused by an old, damp house, however, it can sprout because the home is too energy-efficient. The airtight envelope of many newer homes restricts air movement, forcing mold to grow. Even though most molds are allergens rather than toxins, you should still have a specialist examine the problem and provide remediation if needed.

Worn-Out Roofing

The whole point of a home is to keep a roof over your head. If the roof is faulty, you could be in store for some major issues and repair bills. Depending on the size and materials, a new roof could cost you well into the thousands.

Poor Drainage

Drainage issues can lead to wood rot, wet basements, wet crawlspaces, and major mold growth. While problems are usually corrected by replacing gutters and repairing roof slates, it’s important to note if this is a major issue.

The bottom line is that you should always have your home inspected professionally before you make an offer. When selling a home, it’s important to address these issues now before it hinders a home sale!

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

5 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent

Should you try to sell your home alone? In such a market, rely on a professional.

Real estate is a big deal. For many Americans, a home is the most expensive purchase that they’ll make in their lifetime. It’s a serious transaction with significant financial and emotional considerations. To keep a level head, it’s essential that you obtain proper representation.

What’s so crucial about using a real estate agent? Below, we give you five reasons why you should give your local agent a call today!

They are experts. Selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and technical documents. An expert will guide you through the paperwork, avoiding delays or costly mistakes.

They have information. From local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more, real estate agents can give you the rundown of what you need to know. They have objective information about each property, which helps you to determine if the property has what you need.

They have experience. Home sales are big and can be complicated and lengthy. Experienced agents in the business can deter you from red flags and errors. Instead, their experience gives them a leg up on the local area’s property market.

They have negotiation power. There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A real estate agent will look at every angle from your perspective while crafting a purchase agreement that allows you the flexibility that you need.

They help you find your home. Real estate agents know that a home is much more than just a house. They keep your needs and requirements in mind when looking for houses, ensuring that you don’t waste time looking at homes that don’t have a third bedroom for your little one on the way.

Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

What is a Green Home Loan?

What you need to know about green home loans and how to acquire one.

If your dream of homeownership wouldn’t be complete without energy efficient appliances and upgrades, then a green mortgage might be exactly what you’re looking for. Green home loans are designed to make it easier for the borrower to access additional funds required to make green updates in the new home. As an added bonus, many of these mortgages that fall into this category offer lower interest rates or lower fees for a home already certified as energy-efficient.

The Benefits of a Green Mortgage

With an energy-efficient mortgage, you could drastically transform your new or used home, adding anything from energy-efficient windows to solar panels, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, added insulation, and more. Likewise, you can use an energy-efficient mortgage to purchase a home that already meets a high standard for efficiency and energy consumption.

Because you can wrap up the costs of these upgrades into the cost of your mortgage, you can pay them slowly over time. You may be able to secure a higher benefit if you can claim the mortgage tax deduction already.

In certain cases, you could even secure tax credits for installing certain energy-efficient appliances and systems in your home. Since the majority of these credits are for new purchases and installments only, you’re more likely to reap the benefits if you’re using a green mortgage to update an existing home.

Furthermore, you can also check your local utility company to see how your new upgrades might work in your favor. For example, some homes with solar panels can sell ‘unused energy’ back to the local utility company for a profit.

Getting Started

If you’re worried about your family’s carbon footprint and want to do everything you can preserve this planet for the next generation, building or buying an energy-efficient home is a smart move to make. With a green mortgage, achieving these goals is more affordable. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

What to Know Before the Pre-Approval Process

Take the steps required in order to get pre-approved so you don’t miss out on the dream house you have had your eye on for some time. 

Before you start looking for the house of your dreams you need to get pre-approved so that you don’t lose out on your perfect house. Getting pre-approved is sitting with your lender, filling out all of the tedious paperwork, and getting, well, pre-approved for a mortgage within a certain financial range. That way, you know what you can afford and only make offers on that which gives you the best opportunity for your financial dream home.

Pre-approval v. Pre-qualification

Make sure that you get pre-approved, not pre-qualified. Pre-qualification is just the process that uses unverified information to see if you even can qualify for a mortgage. The pre-approval process uses verified documents to obtain a mortgage amount. It also lets sellers know that you are serious about buying.

Benefits of Getting Pre-Approved

  • Sellers will take your offer more seriously: Whether you get that home you’ve had your eye on depends ultimately on the sellers. If they see you have been pre-approved they know you are serious about your offer and will be more inclined to accept it.
  • You know exactly what you can and can’t afford: Instead of wasting your time looking at houses that are potentially above your price range, you know exactly what to look for. A word to the wise: Don’t submit your pre-approval letter with your offer. If the sellers know you can afford much more than you’re offering they may use that against you.
  • Eliminate pre-closing surprises: Because you already dealt with all the paperwork most people dread at closing time, you are much less likely to be surprised by anything during the closing process.

The pre-approval process does not have to be confusing. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you!

Mortgage-Shopping Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to something as important and expensive as your home, it is in your best interest to avoid any potential mistakes. 

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your entire life, and it is also the largest investment you will make. With something this important, a simple mistake may prove to be extremely costly. Getting a mortgage is more than just getting approved and signing on the many dotted lines that freckle mortgage contracts. So whether this is your first or your eleventh home, here are the most common mortgage mistakes you need avoid when it comes to buying a new home.

  1. Not checking your credit before applying. 
    Not checking your credit before you see a lender is not unlike going to a job interview for a position for which you know nothing about. Lenders comb through your credit and make decisions based on how creditworthy you appear to be. Saying you don’t know anything about your credit can be the nail in the coffin you don’t want.
  2. Skipping the pre-approval process. 
    The pre-approval process essentially approves you for a home within a certain price range without actually selecting a home. During this process, you will go through all the tedious paperwork with a lender and get an idea of what types of homes you should be looking into.
  3. Signing loan documents you don’t fully understand.
    Even if there’s one legal word you do not understand, you should not sign any document. That word may seem harmless but could put you into a heap of trouble. Your agent needs to be able to tell you every little nuance about the contract before you sign it.

Your mortgage process needs to be error-free. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you!