Want to Sell Your Home? The Spring Selling Season May Be Coming Early This Year – by Jay Jenkins

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If you’re considering selling your home in 2014, now is the time to get ready. Not next month, not next week, not tomorrow. Right now.

Why? Because buyers are already on the hunt.

The Internet is the new curb appeal Last month will likely be remembered for polar vortexes, widespread snow, and historic traffic jams. Lost in the shuffle is that while American’s were sitting inside trying to stay warm, they were looking at houses for sale on the Internet. 

Experian Marketing Services released its monthly most visited real estate website rankings earlier this week for web traffic in January. The results are eye popping.

Web traffic to real estate websites was up 25% from December to 364 million visits. Zillow  (NASDAQ: Z  )  led the way with over 57 million visits and Trulia  (NYSE: TRLA  )  limped into second at over 30 million visits.

If you’re considering selling and your home is not yet online, then every day you’re missing out on thousands (or even millions) of potential buyers viewing your home. 

Even more incentive for buyers Spring is coming, and that is certainly driving a lot of the interest in homes currently listed for sale. But there are other factors at play.

Mortgage rates have declined over the past month and are currently trending back toward 4% for traditionally structured, well qualified loans. This is a significant development for buyers, as interest rates are a huge driver of home affordability.

For example, a traditional 30 year, $150,000 mortgage at 4.5% would have a monthly payment of $760. If rates declined to 4.25%, the payment would change to $738.

For borrowers on the edge of qualifying for a mortgage, that $22 per month savings could make the difference between getting a loan approval or not. Over the life of the loan, that 0.25% difference saves the borrower $7,963!

For buyers, the time is now! Buy low and sell high, right? For buyers, the time to buy low is quickly ending, creating a sense of urgency to buy now before prices rise too high or interest rates return to more historically normal levels.

According to CoreLogic and reported by Realtor.org, home prices in 2013 saw the largest percentage increase across the board since 2005, north of 11% as of December. The appreciation was most pronounced in the states that were hit hardest in the real estate collapse: Nevada rose 23.9%, California 19.7%, and Michigan 14% rounding out the top three.

Buyers are ready. Are you? The spring selling season will be in full swing sooner than you think. Rates are low, there is urgency to buy now, and buyers are already coming out of their winter slumber. If you’re planning to sell you home in 2014, you need to be ready now. Don’t miss out on the perfect, well qualified buyer because you waited a moment too long.

 

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Jay Jenkins has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Zillow. The Motley Fool owns shares of Zillow. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Things You Need to Do for Your Home in September!

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September. The month where summer ends and fall begins…unless you live in San Diego. Then it’s just summer all year. But for most of us as the seasons change so do the things we need to do around our house.

While you may think that it’s a bit early to be considering the coming autumn temperatures, September is actually the perfect month to get a lot of home related items in order as you prepare for a coming change in temperature.

Here is a home checklist of items for you to consider doing this September:

1. Get your chimney and furnace inspected.

This is key for homes that need their heat running efficiently in the winter months. Getting your furnace and chimney checked in September gives you time to have any issues fixed in enough time before the weather turns. I actually learned this lesson personally. I have a chimney, but I don’t have a fireplace so why would I need my chimney inspected? A random chimney company was in the area and gave me a discount to have my chimney inspected and it was a good thing they did. I had damage at the top of my chimney and it hadn’t been cleaned in years which was costing me money as my furnace was having to work twice as hard to heat my home. Take it from me. Get your chimney inspected and cleaned as well as your furnace. Your home (and wallet) will thank you come winter.

2. Plan a weekend to take care of the outdoor furniture.

Whether you have a deck, a patio or just some stuff in the yard, plan out a weekend where you’ll officially put everything away. If you don’t plan on it, you’ll find it’s Thanksgiving and you still have a picnic table in your backyard.

3. Swap out those screen windows for storm windows.

It’s easy just to leave the screen windows up and just forget about it. But if you have storm windows, your home will stay warmer and heat more efficiently with that extra layer of protection from storm windows. Also if you’re in an area that gets snow, you need those storm windows to prevent that winter precipitation from getting inside your window sills and causing rot. It’s a pain in the neck, but worth it in the long run.

4. Check your windows and doors for drafts.

You probably should have done this before summer began, but if you forgot now’s the time to do a check of all your windows and doors to see if there’s air escaping. You’ll want to seal these up before you burn your money away with heat escaping your home. They can be simple to fix in some instances by just adding some weatherstripping around them. If you’ve got a door that leads maybe to an uninsulated room like a garage or mud room that has a draft underneath it, I highly recommend the Twin Draft Guard. Possibly the best $10 I’ve spent at Target.

5. Head over to YankeeCandle.com and order a pumpkin spice candle.

This is a requirement for all homes once October begins.

And there you have it. A few simple things to get your home ready for the cooler months ahead. Now that you’re done, you can head on over to Starbucks for an early fall treat as they have their Pumpkin Spice Latte available early this year to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

For those looking for more to do around the house, head on over to Houzz who has a pretty exhaustive checklist for your home in September.

How to keep your house cool with Just a Fan!

If you’re home is like mine, there are weekly arguments about what the temperature should be in your house. The fanthermostat is probably programmed as it always has but there are just some days that it feels hotter than others. Fiddling with the air conditioning conjures up visions of dollar bills being blown away, but if you can’t get comfortable at home where can you beat the heat? Turns out instead of our A/C we may not be using a fan to its full potential.

I came across this news segment on YouTube which has a home inspector showing how just a simple fan can lower the temperature in your home if used correctly. For example, putting a fan on the side of the house that gets shed and having it blow towards the side with sun will help balance out the temperature. Put a bowl of ice cubes in front of that same fan and you basically have a MacGyver-esque air conditioning unit.

While central air is still my home coolant of choice, these fan tricks can help cool down pockets of  your home that just always seem to be hotter than others. Check out the video above for the full list of tips on how to keep your house cool with just a fan.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ryk Neethling