Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 2/23/2018

Whether you've just moved into a new neighborhood or have lived there for decades, there are many advantages to maintaining friendly relations with neighbors.

If, on the other hand, you adopt more of an isolated lifestyle, then the experience of home ownership may be a lot less fulfilling.

Taking the time to have a friendly chat with your neighbors, once in a while, can produce both immediate and long-term advantages. While not everyone has a gregarious, outgoing personality, making the occasional effort to say hello can open the door to a variety of benefits.

Home Security: The best neighborhoods are those in which everyone looks out for one another. When you know your neighbors on a first-name basis, they'll be a lot more likely to keep an eye on your house and let you (or the police) know when they observe any suspicious activity. It's also nice to feel comfortable enough to be able to ask your neighbors to watch your property while you're away -- either for the weekend or when you're on vacation. Even in low-crime areas, burglaries and vandalism has been known to happen, so it's in everyone's best interest to know their neighbors and be ready to help. Although Neighborhood Watch groups are not active everywhere, there's no reason why people still can't be alert and responsive to loitering, trespassing, or other questionable activity.

Networking Benefits: You may not need a plumber, electrician, or a reasonably priced HVAC technician, right now, but sooner or later, you will -- guaranteed! There may also come a time when you need emergency child care or fast help jump-starting your vehicle. You're probably not going to approach your neighbors for help if you don't know them, but there's a good chance you will if you do have a rapport. By sharing information, resources, and recommendations with neighbors, you'll be paving the way for a mutually beneficial relationship. While you may or may not become best friends, it's nice to know that there's someone nearby you can count on for support and help.

Feeling of community: Although some neighborhoods have a more friendly, close-knit feeling than others, it's often easy to break the ice with neighbors when you're outside -- either doing yard work, walking your dog, or going for a stroll. By taking the initiative to welcome new people into the neighborhood, you'll not only have a positive impact on their lives, but you might even forge a new, long-term friendship. You can also make social connections by chatting with people at yard sales, block parties, or by joining and being active in neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor groups. While it may feel easier to just keep to yourself and avoid venturing outside of your comfort zone, becoming part of a larger community in your neighborhood (and beyond) is often much more rewarding!





Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 2/16/2018

Home is the the most comfortable place to be. We relax after a long day of work in the living room, eat meals with our family in our kitchen, and sleep soundly in our beds at night. All of this comfort can sometimes cause us to overlook basic safety habits that keep us and our property safe. One of the chief threats to our safety at home is house fires. A great way to keep tabs on our fire preparedness is to have a yearly "fire safety week" with our families to teach and reinforce important information around fires. Read on to see the five-day plan that, for just a few minutes per day, has the potential to save lives.

Day 1: Smoke detectors

The most basic fire safety items that each home has are the smoke detectors. On day one take the kids around the house and show them where each smoke detector is. Have them block their ears and show them how to test the detectors. Change all of the batteries as well. Don't be conservative or frugal with batteries when it comes to smoke detectors; it's worth the extra few bucks to know that you can depend on them.

Day 2: Fire extinguishers

On the second day, bring the kids around the house again showing them the location of fire extinguishers and explaining their function. If there ever is a small house fire you don't want to fumbling around with an extinguisher trying to learn how to use it. Explain that these are not toys and can be dangerous. If your kids are old enough to be home alone, teach them how to use the extinguishers. If the kids are too young tell them to seek you out immediately if they see or smell smoke, or think there might be a fire. Read the pressure gauge on all of your fire extinguishers to make sure they're adequately pressurized. Replace fire extinguishers that are over twelve years old.

Day 3: Escape plan

Every house should have an evacuation plan in case of a fire. Each room should have two escape routes in case one is blocked off by fire or some other barrier. Have your children go through the evacuation routes for each of their rooms. Do this for yourself as well to ensure there are no problems with your plan. Then take the family outside to a meeting spot away from the house. Tell them that this is where each member of the family will meet in case of a fire.

Day 4: Fire hazards

The average house has unlimited potential for fire hazards. Curtains near heaters or ovens, candles too close to flammable objects, and even power outlets can all cause a house fire. Before today's lesson, go through your house and find potential fire hazards and teach your family how to correct these habits during today's lesson. If your kids are old enough to cook, run through various cooking fire hazards as well.

Day 5: Review

Today, review the previous four days' lessons with your family. You can also use today to cover the top eight causes of house fires according to the National Fire Protection Association:
  1. Candles
  2. Smoking
  3. Electrical and lighting
  4. Dryers and washing machines
  5. Lightning
  6. Children playing with fire (matches, lighters, etc.)
  7. Christmas trees
  8. Cooking





Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 2/9/2018

As a home seller, it is essential to do everything possible to promote your house to the right groups of property buyers. However, as you approach the finish line of a home sale, you may encounter a "persistent" homebuyer. And if this happens, the home selling process may come to a screeching halt.

A persistent homebuyer may be more likely than others to demand home improvements or a price reduction to finalize a house sale. As a result, you may need to decide whether to accommodate this homebuyer's requests, continue to negotiate with him or her or walk away from a potential home sale altogether.

So what does it take to deal with a persistent homebuyer? Here are three tips to help you do just that.

1. Understand the Housing Market

Are a homebuyer's requests valid? If so, they are likely to be based on housing market data. Therefore, if you analyze the housing market closely, you can better understand a persistent homebuyer's demands and proceed accordingly.

Take a look at the prices of comparable houses in your city or town. By doing so, you can determine how your house's price rates against the competition.

Also, don't forget to assess the prices of recently sold homes in your area. This housing market data will help you understand the demand for houses in your city or town and determine whether you're operating in a seller's or buyer's market.

2. Stand Your Ground

A persistent homebuyer may be in a hurry to purchase your house. As such, he or she may push you to make rash decisions that may not be in your best interest.

For home sellers, it is important to take a step back and evaluate all aspects of any home selling decisions. And if you feel uncomfortable with a homebuyer's requests, you should feel comfortable walking away from a possible home sale.

Ultimately, declining a homebuyer's requests and walking away from a home sale is far from ideal. On the other hand, doing so will allow you to reenter the housing market and restart the home selling journey with a fresh perspective.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to deal with a persistent homebuyer, you're probably not alone. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available nationwide to help you handle tough negotiations with any homebuyer, at any time.

A real estate agent understands the art of negotiation and can share his or her housing market expertise with you. That way, you can get the support you need to make informed decisions at each stage of the home selling journey.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will respond to your home selling queries as the property selling journey progresses. No question is too big or too small for a real estate agent, and this housing market professional is happy to answer your home selling questions time and time again.

Take the guesswork out of dealing with a persistent homebuyer – use these tips, and you can boost your chances of getting the best results from the home selling journey.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 2/2/2018

One thing that you’ll need to think about when you’re buying a home is that of property taxes. Many first-time homebuyers don’t even consider the property taxes in the midst of their excitement of buying the perfect home. There’s many different kinds of tax issues that homebuyers might face when they purchase a home. We’ll educate you on how to tackle the issue of property taxes. 


Do Your Research


You should most definitely research property taxes before you buy a home. You don’t want to be surprised to find out that your new home will have special assessments or a huge tax rate increase in the near future. Some things to look out for:


  • Tax rate increases
  • Home reassessments
  • Supplemental tax bills


The first question that you should ask your realtor is “What is the current tax bill?” This will give you a good starting point for your property tax research. 


Supplemental Tax Bills


A supplemental tax bill is basically a new homeowner’s overlapping bill of the previous owner’s taxes. Sometimes, this can include construction or additions made to the home that have increased the property value. This is also known as a “reassessment of property value.” Work with your realtor to discover whether this will be an issue.  


Multiple Taxes For One Property


Depending upon where you are, you could face more than one kind of property tax. Special taxes imposed by states, counties and districts, as well as water and sewer can create additional fees. 


Why You Have An Escrow Account


Homeowners are often required to have an escrow account. This will set aside funds for these types of expenses. The loan company will give an estimate of the amount of taxes and insurance due. Then, costs such as taxes and insurance are taken out of this account. If you are paying these fees through an escrow account, you should keep a close eye on it. Sometimes, payments fail to be made on time. You as the homeowner are then responsible for any late fees. You want to avoid these problems by checking the account frequently.   


How Property Taxes Are Calculated


Property taxes are generally based on the value of the home. Each state and city uses their own formulas in order to calculate these fees. This is what can make property taxes a bit unpredictable. Property taxes can increase or decrease over time due to these factors that are included in each municipality’s formula.               


Tax Credits


A tax credit is a rebate that’s provided by the city or state. This could be in the form of an income tax credit. As home values have risen, so haven’t property tax bills, so these credits are welcome in today’s economy. 


Tax Deferrals


Some people are eligible for property tax deferrals. This allows the homeowner to pay all or part of the property tax until a later date when a home is sold. Many deferrals are geared towards low-income homes and senior citizens. These people would most benefit from this type of savings. Be careful though if you fall into one of these categories. Some states have much higher income taxes than property taxes, so the fees end up evening out. 


The most important thing you can do when it comes to property taxes is your research. Once you have numbers, you can make a more informed decision about purchasing a property.





Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 1/26/2018

What Is The Disclosure Statement?


Disclosure statements are used in many of life’s situations. This is the place where the buyer is able to learn about the ins and outs of the property that they are about the buy. Examples of items that would be on a seller’s disclosure are:


  • Water in the basement
  • Updates made to the home
  • Known pests
  • Paranormal activity
  • Death on the property
  • Past fires
  • Nearby major construction projects
  • Title 5 sewerage issues 


Disclosures Serves As Protections


The disclosure statement serves as a protection for both the buyer and the seller. From a buyer’s perspective, through this information, they are able to understand a bit more about the property that they are potentially buying. 


On the seller’s side of things, the disclosure statement serves a s legal protection of sorts. The seller is obliged to reveal anything about the property that could potentially affect the value or affect the living conditions.


How Does The Seller Make The Disclosure


Each state and even each city within a state varies in the way a disclosure is conducted.  The statement can be composed of dozens of documents that need to be signed by the seller. Other states have disclosure document forms that consist of a series of yes or no questions about the home. Sellers may also be required o present communications between neighbors, owners, and agents. In some states, the disclosure statement is valid for up to 10 years, allowing buyers to collect damages if something wasn’t properly presented on the statement.  


How Do Sellers Know What To Disclose?


The basic rule of thumb is that if you know something about your property, you should disclose it. If you try to hide something, it could come back to meet you in the form of a lawsuit, even years later. Many states have legal requirements as to what should be revealed on these documents.  


What’s Disclosed To Buyers?


The disclosure doesn’t have to be all bad. This document is also an opportunity for sellers to present any of the improvements that they have made to the home. Make sure that you include all of the upgrades, renovations, and improvements that you have made to the home that you’re selling. This can help to impress buyers as to how well you have taken care of the property.


It’s easy as the buyer to check some of these improvements as you can find out if the work was done with or without permits by checking with the city’s zoning reports. Work that was done without a permit may have not been completed according to code. This could pose some serious health and safety risks to you and your family. 


Problems that you’ll want to disclose as a seller include pest problems, property line disputes, disturbances in the neighborhood, liens on the property, and appliance malfunctions. 


Remember that the disclosure doesn’t substitute the buyer’s right to a professional inspection of the property. It’s important for buyers to know as much about a property as they can in order to be sure they’re making a good investment.