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How Downsizing Can Free Up Your Cash

Downsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, downsizing3and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom:

 

  1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of 3,500. Controlling the climate in empty spare bedrooms is pointless when you don’t need the room. What’s more, you can count on fewer houseguests with less space, and this, in turn, can decrease utility costs.
  1. Maintenance costs. How big is that lawn? How many rooms need to be refreshed with a coat of paint? How many windows do you need to wash, and what about the size of that driveway that must be repaired and sealed?
  1. Insurance. Your insurance bill is based in large part on your appraisal, and if your new home is smaller, your insurance bill should shrink as well. (This can vary based on location and levels of coverage, of course, but you would be hard pressed to insure less for more!)
  1. Property taxes. Much like insurance, tax rates tend to be based on a percentage of assessed value. Here’s a few more dollars back into your wallet.
  1. Plumber vs Leaking FaucetRepairs. How many toilets do you need to have fixed? Appliances? Light fixtures to keep lit? The smaller home has fewer leaking faucets and a smaller roof to replace. Your overall spend on maintenance goes down when you have less home to maintain.

 

  1. Furniture. Downsizing is a perfect opportunity to sell excess furniture and find keep only those pieces well-loved or essential for your new smaller space.
  1. Hosting and entertaining. When you’ve got that sprawling home, your place is ground zero for out-of-town guests, relatives, and holiday parties. As your space shrinks, so does your annual hosting and entertaining budget. Besides, if you really want to throw a shin-dig, you can take some of that downsizing cash and pick a perfect venue.

 

Looking to downsize and redirect that extra cash? Get in touch: Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of Village Square Realtors. 973-509-2222 ext. 1126 

How to Win Homes in a Seller’s Market

love lettersIf you’ve ever experienced the disappointment of losing out on a home in a seller’s market, you want to do everything possible to keep it from happening again. One tactic many buyers overlook is the “love letter” written to sellers about their home.

Rationally, you might expect the highest offer will always win the home, but there are a host of other factors involved. Some are emotional. Some sellers want to see their home go to a buyer they not only trust to close the deal, but they also like personally.

Want to give yourself an edge? Craft a short “love letter” to go with your offer. Here are the basics you’ll want to cover in your letter:

  1. Explain how much you like their home. Don’t go overboard, but prove to them you know the home and you truly appreciate their taste and the unique characteristics of the house. This might touch on improvements they’ve made or other aesthetic details. 
  1. Spare them all the things you might want to change. What you say is as important as what you don’t say. Don’t tell them you’re going to gut the place as soon as you close, add a second story, or rip out their garden for a pool. 
  1. Demonstrate you’re qualified to close. Make them feel confident in your qualifications as a buyer. Show them you’re pre-qualified for a loan, are buying cash, or have other reasons why you’ll be a hassle-free buyer. 
  1. Be humble and positive. Don’t give them a sob story about the four other homes2022051168 you’ve lost out on. Praise the neighborhood and make them feel as though you would be positively honored to be chosen as the next owner of their home. 
  1. Check the letter for typos. Read it out loud. Listen for clunky sentences or awkward repetition. Have someone proof it for mistakes. Their confidence in your attention to detail is important.

 A good agent should be able to tell you if the letter sounds like an honest appeal. Have it included with your offer as a cover letter.

Need help finding a home worth a love letter? Get in touch today: Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of Village Square REALTORS 973-509-2222 ext. 1126

Can You Cut Costs & Be Safe with a Space Hwater?

As we type this it is a warmer winter day- although the sky is gray and it is a little damp feeling…today is the type of day your mother would tell you to put a sweater on because she is cold.  And that thought is what prompted today’s post- if someone in the house is cold, but not everyone – does it warrant a thermostat increase, a sweater or a space heater for certain rooms? 

The humble space heater gets a bad rap, but when used correctly it can actually represent a good option for taking the edge off the winter chill. download

 

Here are some tips about how to safely use a space heater and when it’s a good choice:

Are you heating a whole house when the family is concentrated in the living room? Turn down the central heat and use a modern space heater rather than heat the empty rooms.

  1. A space heater can be a wise choice when you live in an uninsulated or poorly insulated home.
  2. Avoid unvented combustion space heaters. Instead, look for electric space heaters, preferably with a fan to circulate the hot air.
  3. Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.
  4. Maintain three feet of clear space around the heater in all directions. Be aware of loose rugs, blankets, or other potentially flammable objects nearby. spaceheatersafety
  5. Unplug your space heater when no one is around to keep an eye on it.
  6. Do not use a space heater in a damp room (i.e. bathroom!) unless it is specifically designed for outdoor or bathroom use.
  7. Don’t hide the space heater electrical cord where it might get torn or degraded under foot. Run it where it is visible, but does not create a tripping hazard.
  8. If you’re shopping for a space heater, consider this handy Consumer Reports buying guide: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/space-heaters/buying-guide.htm

 

By the way: Heating and cooling a large home after the kids have moved out can be a waste of your retirement dollars. If you’re thinking it might be time to downsize (or rightsize!) your home, get in touch today:  we are never too busy for you or your referrals!   Barbara & Gregg 973-509-2222