Tiny Houses – Are They Right For You?

You’ve probably heard of Tiny Houses. This new housing fad seems to be cropping up in the news almost daily. Designed as a backlash against yesterday’s McMansions, Tiny Houses are being marketed to homeowners who want to rid themselves of clutter and return to a more economical and easy style of living.

Tiny Houses typically are built on a chassis with wheels, similar to a mobile home, and transported to the owner’s site. Other houses are a bit larger and wider, constructed as modular units, and then situated on a standard block or slab foundation.
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While most plans are well designed, everything is tiny! Kitchens are small and usually part of the abbreviated living area. Bathrooms are, well….. small. Tiny bedrooms are often situated as an open loft above the first floor and frequently accessed by a ladder! Interior storage space is limited, and every nook and cranny houses a shelf or cabinet in which to store your few possessions. And Tiny Houses typically do not have a central heating or cooling system.

As a primary residence, Tiny Houses seem to appeal to millennials, couples with one or no children, or empty nesters who want to trim back on material possessions and travel for extended periods of time.

However…… most Americans love their spacious homes and don’t want to lose the advantages that space provides. Historical statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau bear that out: In 1973, the average square footage of homes was 1,525 square feet. That figure rose to 2,277 square feet in 2007. And in 2014, average house size rose to 2,463 square feet, indicating the preference for larger homes by the majority of homeowners.
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It appears that large homes are indeed in demand! And what’s not to love!!! Large homes offer:
– Great entertaining space for friends and family
– A guess room or extra space to house overnight guests
– “Breathing room”, providing a private space to busy family members
– Large kitchen with plenty of pantry, storage space and food preparation area, often open family living areas with a breakfast bar for informal dining.
– Spacious kitchens also offer plenty of storage space to house all the cookware, utensils, small appliances, china and serving dishes.
– Large and abundant closets, and who doesn’t need that!!! American’s have a lot of stuff, and a livable home offers plenty of space to store it.
– Spacious laundry area
– Large bathrooms
– Roomy bedrooms, offering privacy and usually accompanied with private bathrooms
– A spacious yard, patio and/or deck area, porches and pools
– A garage! Tiny Houses do not have garages.garage_Fotor
– Kids—and all the stuff that comes with them! Sports equipment, hobbies and crafts, trophies,
collections, digital equipment, clothing and footwear—you name it, it comes with kids and
you need a place to house it all.

For some American families, Tiny Houses might be an acceptable weekend get-away spot, but they can’t possibly offer the convenience and pleasure that a larger home brings.

If your home is feeling a bit cramped and you realize it’s time to make the move up to a larger home, call us today. The Brandee Kelley Group will help you find the perfect home that meets your needs and we’ll get your current home sold, all in one seamless transaction. Visit our website HERE.

For information on current mortgage rates and products, please contact Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don is the Brandee Kelley Group’s preferred lender because he delivers expert knowledge and service to his clients.Affiliated Bank w Don Kelly Info

4 Qualities of a GREAT Real Estate Agent!

According in real estate industry experts, these qualities are the things you should be looking for when selecting a GREAT agent!

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#1A – Great Communication Skills

In order to develop an effective working relationship with a real estate agent, communication is the most important factor. Good MUTUAL communication will result in your agent saving you time, frustration and stress in the buying process, because an experienced agent will ask all the right questions. She will learn what your “hot buttons” are in your home search, and which features are turn-offs. She’ll find out what schools are important to you, types of neighborhoods, and lifestyle amenities you want in your perfect home, and she will only show you homes that fit your criteria.

Honest and open communication is the foundation of trust between an agent and her clients.

#1B – A Great Agent Listens

An important component of great communication is an agent’s willingness to LISTEN to their client’s needs, desires, and concerns, so this issue is listed as another components of communication skills! An effective agent will be asking you key questions for the sole purpose of establishing a course of action that serves YOUR needs.

#2 – A Great Agent is Client Motivated

An outstanding real estate agent will always have their client’s needs as their top priority. Buying and selling houses can be stressful, and a great agent always keeps her clients as her #1 focus by delivering service above and beyond the usual agent representation. If you’re working with a great agent, you will always feel your Realtor is truly working for YOU, understands your needs, and is delivering the support and service you expect.

#3 – A Great Agent Will Share Previous Client’s Recommendations

The best way to get a great agent is to review their past client’s comments and recommendations. These comments tell the real story, and are an excellent indicator of the service and representation you can expect from your agent.

Spend a few moments and read the Brandee Kelley Group’s client’s recommendations here: http://brandeekelleygroup.kwrealty.com/about/ You will see phrases such as these below, repeated over and over again:

“They went above and beyond…”

“They take care of your every need and leave no detail unturned.”

“I knew we weren’t their only client, but they made us feel like we were.”

“…quick to respond and answer your questions. Loved the customer service!”

“Their communication was great, they stayed on top of all the details.”

“They were great! A comprehensive team that took care of every detail.”

#4 – An Experienced Administrative Support Staff

No matter how good an agent is, in today’s complicated real estate industry, no single agent can handle all the myriad details of a real estate transaction effectively by herself. Look for a great agent to have a staff committed to supporting their buyers AND sellers every step of the way–with the ultimate goal of bringing about a successful closing.

Every team member of the Brandee Kelley Group is committed to providing all of the above, and they do this with every real estate transaction. They are truly a GREAT real estate team and the team you want to work with.

The Brandee Kelley Group—delivering professional real estate representation with integrity!
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How Do You Find a “Good” School?

What Makes a Good School…. and how can you find one?
adapted from Realtor.com

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Homebuyers flock to certain neighborhoods because parents want to send their kids to good schools, and certain schools have a reputation for being superior to others.

What makes one school system rank higher than others? Is it really all about test scores?

Well, not really. Important factors that contribute to schools getting high marks are more intangible goals, such as fostering social and emotional intelligence and the ability to plan, focus, remember instructions, and multitasking skills.

How can you decide what’s best for your family? Here are some tips:

DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF LEARNER YOUR CHILD IS

No matter what kids are required to learn, there are different ways to get them there.
Kids often have strikingly different learning styles. Some are visual, and fare better when things are illustrated rather than spoken; some learn better in groups; some are better able to focus if they’re alone. And some simply learn best by doing. While no school caters entirely to one kind of learner, you may be able to find a school whose approach works better for your child by talking to the principal and teachers about how they accommodate different learning styles.

FIND OUT IF THE SCHOOL HAS THE BASICS

Traditional school ratings such as class size, student-to-teacher ratio and test scores still matter and are great for evaluating a school district’s academic foundation. Another consideration is the school’s record for chronically absent students. Those with a high attendance rate usually indicate a positive school culture in which the staff, students, and parents are all committed to success.

LOOK BEYOND ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT

In addition to solid academics, experts increasingly cite the importance of a holistic education, which cultivates students’ moral, emotional, physical, and psychological aptitudes.

Schools with programs that teach empathy, self-motivation, and adaptability—or emotional intelligence—equip students with life skills proven to foster success. Students with high EQ (emotional quotient) indicate that they can be flexible and understanding, and successfully interact with all kinds of people–skills that lead to future success.

SEEK CREATIVE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

A “good” school today is one that helps foster 21st-century skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Skills needed to prosper in tomorrow’s multinational, dynamic workforce require expansive ideas and creative thinking. These might be schools with highly developed music programs, team sports, and extracurricular clubs with broad contemporary focus such as environmental protection or community service.

CONSIDER LOWER-RANKED OR UP-AND-COMING SCHOOLS

Since the “best” schools in town could have problems with overcrowding and wait lists, parents may want to consider previously overlooked schools–ones that may have a new principal, an increasingly active PTA, and/or an attendance rate that has steadily risen, even if the school itself doesn’t have the most stellar reputation or highest rankings.

RESEARCH FREE ALTERNATIVES TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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Themed charter schools or magnet schools with specialized courses or curricula that draw students from across school districts or zones infuse their offerings and activities with a specific emphasis.

At Expeditionary Learning schools, for instance, students study a single topic from many angles. Heavy emphasis is placed on the importance of nature, reflection, and service, and classes can involve Outward Bound–style excursions.

Schools that take the multiple intelligences view recognize that intellect comes in many forms (e.g., word smart, people smart, numbers smart) and teach to individuals’ strengths.

CHECK OUT THE “VIBE”—IT REALLY MEANS SOMETHING
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Plan a personal visit to the school, where you might discover what you thought was important isn’t so important after all. Test scores and state rankings don’t convey the important yet difficult-to-quantify vibe of a place. A school visit is the best way to inspect the vitality of the work, the energy of the teachers, and the rapport between the staff and students.

DEFINE WHAT “GOOD” MEANS TO YOU

What do you want from your school? Racial and economic diversity? Sports and arts programs? A campus? Leadership/internship opportunities? Is your No. 1 criterion a neighborhood school that you can invest and create community in, even if it means sacrificing a few things like class size or an emphasis on the arts?

If traditional academics and high test scores really are the most important things, you’re lucky: Those are the easiest things to find.

Bottom line, finding a good school requires parents to do their own serious homework, figuring out the best fit for their family and zeroing in on schools that are equipping students with the skills and experiences that will lead to a broader definition of success.

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4 Lessons for Second-Time Homebuyers

So, you’ve already purchased your first home and for many reasons have decided it’s time for a new home. The following are ways in which your perspectives have probably changed from being first-time homebuyers to second-timers.

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PAINT COLORS DON’T REALLY MATTER THAT MUCH

You’ve learned that wall colors or décor are not as important as number of bedrooms, closet and storage space, outdoor living space, convenient location and school system, etc. Décor can be changed, but features and amenities that cannot be changed become your priority in your second home search.

ASK ABOUT REPAIR WORK

Some first-time home buyers overlook important facts about the home they buy. Once they’ve become seasoned homeowners, these second-time home buyers pay much more attention to items they missed the first time around! Items of concern are the age and condition of the mechanicals, the roof, HOA regulations that may be too restrictive, convenience of location relative to schools and road access, nearby parks and community amenities, etc.

When you work with the Brandee Kelley Group, we will help you prioritize the “Hot Buttons” that are important to you and that contribute to a happy lifestyle in your new home.

YOUR PRIORITIES PROBABLY HAVE CHANGED

community-pool1The criteria that lead you to your first home may not be what you seek in your next one. For instance, you may have thought a formal dining room was a priority, only to find you didn’t use it. Now you want a home with a large and open living space. Perhaps you wanted a pool, but hated the cost of upkeep and now want to enjoy the convenience of your private community pool.

GET YOUR FINANCING IN ORDER EARLY

In your first home search, you may have faced disappointment when a seller did not accept your offer because you didn’t have a mortgage preapproval letter to submit with your offer. This time around, you’ll be prepared and minimize the chance of losing the home of your dreams! Now you know it’s critically important to have your preapproval in place before you even begin your home search.

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When you work with the Brandee Kelley Group, you are getting the experience and knowledge of a professional real estate TEAM to help you find the PERFECT home that fits your needs. Our skilled buyer’s agents, Georgann Puddy and Laura Van Meter, will save you time, stress, and prevent you from overlooking important features that you may regret for years to come.

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When considering the services of a mortgage lender, you need an experienced mortgage team to help make your home purchase a reality. Our preferred lender, Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank, is the mortgage expert you want on your side!

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Things Your Home Stager Wishes You Knew

houseWhen you’ve decided to put your home on the market and think it may need a major refresh, hiring a professional stager to prep your home and make it more marketable may be a wise decision. A professionally staged home will get the best possible offer when it’s competing with similar homes on the market.

Generally, stagers remove much of your personality from rooms, walls, floors, and ceilings so that potential buyers can imagine themselves in your place. Stagers favor neutral walls, simple layouts, and minimal artwork. (No purple living rooms or gallery walls allowed!)

Remerchandising a home to sell is quite different than decorating a home according to your tastes. Realtor.com recently published comments and suggestions made by a group of professional home stagers to help you navigate the process. Some of these tips may not pertain to you and your home, but all are worth your consideration!
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1. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

They know you love the way you set up your living room. That eclectic collection of wicker baskets from all your European travels stacked up in the corner? It’s the perfect detail for you—but not for your stager. Not even close.

So here’s the thing: When they tell you what to change (and they absolutely will), don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean they think your style is awful or whether they like it or not. It’s all about how your home will be presented to the public and how it will look in photographs.

2. TOSS YOUR STUFF AND DISCONNECT EMOTIONALLY

Home staging can be stressful to sellers, so it’s important that you detach and disconnect your emotions. Family pictures come down, the sofa goes into storage, personal mementos get packed away, and suddenly this place you called home is losing your personality.

Keep your eye on the prize: selling your home at the right price, to the right buyers, within the right time frame.

To ease the transition, try to remove as much of your stuff as possible before the stager comes. By tackling decluttering and packing, you will get used to the idea that this will no longer be your home.

3. STAGING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS

Over 90% of buyers begin their search for a new home on the internet. Consequently, the photos posted with your listing become critically important in getting your home noticed—and sold. One of a professional stager’s biggest goals is to make your home appeal to buyers through these photographs.

4. GET YOUR MONEY’S WORTH

Staging should not be a last-minute action before your home officially goes on the market. Meet with a professional stager as early as possible, to allow time to make recommended repairs and renovations.
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And don’t forget that curb appeal is an important factor in making your home inviting to prospective home buyers. A stager will also make suggestions for some quick fixes to spruce up the exterior, and this can take time for a homeowner to accomplish.

Fees charged by professional stagers vary, but if you home is woefully outdated, it’s a good investment with a very high return.

The good news is that most of the homes the Brandee Kelley Group lists for sale don’t need any staging! Many of our listings present beautifully in person and in photographs. Brandee is adept in making staging suggestions to her clients as part of the services she offers, alleviating the need to hire a professional stager. And the Brandee Kelley Group uses a professional photographer for our listing photos to ensure your home is presented in the best possible light.
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Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval ~ What’s the Difference?

thYou need to make a change. You need a new home! Your first step in the home buying process should be a visit to a mortgage lender and get a pre-approval document. When you find your perfect new home and submit an offer, include your pre-approval letter and you’ll increase the chances of your offer being accepted.

At your first meeting with your lender, you will provide financial information and your lender will let you know how much house you can afford. A pre-qualification is a lender’s basic overview of your ability to get a loan. You can do this online or on the phone, but if you’re seriously planning to buy a new home, it makes sense to meet your lender in person because he is going to become your partner during the entire transaction.

A pre-approval is more in-depth and the document that will prove you are a serious buyer. This is where you begin getting your ducks in a row to prove your financial worth to a lender. The lender will look at your bank statements, tax returns, credit score, and other financial information, while also explaining various mortgage options that would best suit your needs.

While neither a pre-approval nor a pre-qualification guarantees you’ll get a loan, they’re reliable indicators of your ability to buy a home.

04 08 15 Don candid shotWe wholeheartedly recommend Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don and his team of experienced loan staff provide top-notch service to their clients, and always look out for their best interests. An experienced lender can save you thousands of dollars on your new mortgage!

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STOP Renting!

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Nationally, rental rates are at their highest point ever and expected to continue their upward climb. Buying your own home is one of the best ways to create wealth. Paying rent does not build equity, but making a monthly mortgage payment DOES! In addition, you can enjoy all the homeownership perks: A place of your own and pride in ownership. Decorating freedom. The ability to remodel and upgrade. Your own yard–go ahead, plant a tree! Or a shrub. And yes, you can get a dog! You also gain important tax advantages. Enjoy privacy and security. Freedom from restrictive rules. And the list goes on…….
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Savvy renters are making their first home purchase in record numbers, taking advantage of current low mortgage rates and spurred on by their high rents.

You may not be quite ready to buy your first home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing now. Here are three actions you can do while renting that will put you in a better position when you’re ready to buy. Courtesy of the Texas Association of Realtors.

CAN YOUR BUDGET HANDLE HOMEOWNERSHIP?
While you can’t predict all homeownership costs, you can come up with a rough estimate of how owning a home will impact your budget. Every team member of the Brandee Kelley Group can provide helpful advice on things you might want to consider when it comes time to look for a home. They can advise you on types of homes available, and why neighborhoods, schools and a convenient location are important.
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CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Before you apply for a loan, you should request a free credit report to find out what a lender would see. If your report has errors, you can correct them before they affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. And if you find legitimate flaws, you might be able to take steps to improve your credit before purchasing a property. Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank is an experienced mortgage advisor and he may be able to help you find resources to repair your credit. He can also help you figure out how much home you can afford and the mortgage payment necessary to pay for that home. Don’s website contains a wealth of information especially important to first-time home buyers. Check it out here: http://donkelly.com/
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CREATE A REALISTIC WISH LIST
There’s probably no single home that will offer every amenity you’re looking for, but you should have a general idea of what’s important to you. So while a home with fewer than two bathrooms may be non-negotiable, perhaps you’d see the potential in one with a smaller kitchen or a not-so-appealing exterior paint job.
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It’s never too early to talk to a REALTOR® and a mortgage lender when you know you’re going to buy a home. The Brandee Kelley Group and Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank can answer your questions about the home buying process and help you avoid surprises along the way.

Call us today