Kathy Kelley's Blog
For many families, the kitchen is the most important room in the house. With the exception of homes that have narrow galley kitchens, this living space is often thought of as the nerve center or heart of a home.
The kitchen is typically the focal point of everything from meal preparation and consumption to holiday parties and social gatherings . It's usually the first place families congregate in the morning and often the last place they see each other before going to bed. Choosing a kitchen that's a good match for your lifestyle and decorating tastes can have a major impact on your satisfaction with a new home.
Starting out your home search with a clear idea of what your ideal kitchen should look like will increase the likelihood of bringing that image into reality. Perusing kitchen design stores, websites, and magazines is often a good starting point for developing a clear mental picture of what you want There are dozens of features and characteristics to keep in mind when searching for the ideal house, but the most important ones can be boiled down to three categories:
Space: If you entertain a lot or have a big (or growing) family, a spacious kitchen is probably the best match for your needs. The same thing holds true if you want an eat-in kitchen or if you tend to have more than one person preparing meals at the same time. Without enough space to accommodate your family's habits and lifestyle needs, the kitchen can quickly become cramped quarters. Another vital aspect of kitchen space is cabinetry and storage. For most people, the ideal kitchen would include plenty of cabinets, shelves, drawers, and closets that would provide storage space for dishes, non-perishable food items, kitchen implements, pots and pans, and cookbooks. Last, but not least, having a sufficient amount of counter space and food preparation area can often make the difference between a great kitchen and a marginal one.
Design: When it comes to modern kitchen design, the choices are mind boggling and virtually limitless! Some of the more basic decisions, however, typically revolve around questions like cabinet color, countertop material, flooring, lighting, color choices, backsplash patterns, and the desirability of a kitchen island.
Functionality: Some kitchens are more functional than others, but a lot depends on the size of your family, the amount of time you and your spouse spend cooking and preparing food, and how often you entertain. The configuration of a kitchen should -- and usually does -- enable the "chef" to move around efficiently and quickly between various food preparation areas, including the refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, sink, and counter areas. If you happen to do a lot of cooking, baking, and entertaining, a kitchen with a double oven may be the best option for your needs. A larger-than-standard refrigerator may also be a better fit for your lifestyle.
While there's never a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right kitchen design, forming a clear vision of what you want is always a good starting point for getting it!
Whether you're 25 or 65, one thing's for sure: Home ownership, raising a family, and having enough money to retire comfortably takes a lot of money! Surprisingly, a high percentage of people of all ages have not accumulated a sufficient nest egg for their future needs.
What many homeowners (and aspiring homeowners) don't stop to realize is that there are many opportunities to save money, reduce expenses, and keep more of your hard-earned cash where it belongs: in your pocket, bank account, or retirement plan. While it may seem like your money flies out the window as fast as you can earn it, you may be overlooking some key strategies for holding on to more of it. One of the most powerful tactics for saving and making more money is learning how to negotiate effectively.
Practicing the Art of Negotiation
Virtually "everything is negotiable," especially in real estate transactions. Fortunately, you can rely on a good real estate agent to look out for your interests and get you the best deal. However, it is generally to your advantage to have a basic understanding of negotiating principles and the possibility of winning concessions from the other side.
Perhaps the number one thing to keep in mind when attending an open house or touring a home you're considering buying is to choose your words carefully -- particularly if you're in the presence of the seller's agent or the home seller, themselves (Note: If you're just viewing the house with your buyers' agent, you don't have to worry about weighing your words or being too effusive.) As an example, if you blurt out "This house is absolutely perfect!" or "This is exactly what we're looking for!" then you're putting yourself at a strategic disadvantage when it comes to making an offer on the house. It pays to "play things close to the vest." That expression, of course, originated from the game of poker, in which it's a tactical error to let your opponents see your cards.
There are dozens of situations in life where negotiating skills can help you gain hundreds, if not thousands of additional dollars from a transaction. Examples range from negotiating a raise or a starting salary to buying or selling real estate or automobiles. By developing your negotiating skills and practicing them at every opportunity, you'll find yourself gaining financial and other advantages that wouldn't otherwise be available to you. As the poem "My Wage" by Jessie B. Rittenhouse reminds us, if we bargain with life for pennies, then that's exactly what we'll get in return.
By negotiating the best possible deal in real estate transactions, automobile purchases, home improvement contracts, employment opportunities, credit card interest rates, and dozens of other situations, you can build up a larger retirement nest egg, help your kids pay for college, and achieve a greater measure of financial security.
After you receive an offer on your home, how should you respond? Ultimately, there are many questions for a home seller to consider before accepting a proposal, including:
1. What is my home worth?
Did you get your home appraised before you added it to the real estate market? If so, you may want to review a home offer in contrast to your home appraisal. This will give you a better idea about whether the offer is "fair" based on your home's condition.
If you have not received a home appraisal, there's no need to worry. In fact, there are many ways to assess your home to determine whether to accept or decline a proposal.
Check out the prices of comparable residences in your city or town. This will enable you to see how these houses are priced and better understand how to proceed with an offer.
Also, review the prices of homes that recently sold in your area. With this information, you can learn about the current state of the housing market.
2. Are there any other offers to consider?
As a home seller, you'll likely have 24 to 48 hours to respond to an offer on your residence. But if you receive multiple offers at the same time, you'll want to evaluate these proposals in conjunction with one another.
Even if you receive two offers for the exact same price, these proposals may differ.
For example, a homebuyer who has financing in hand will be able to streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner. On the other hand, a homebuyer who submits an offer without financing in hand may require additional time to secure a mortgage from a bank or credit union.
Take a close look at all of the offers on your home. Review these proposals with a fine-tooth comb, and you'll be able to make an informed decision.
3. Does this offer meet or exceed my expectations?
An offer on your home may fall short of your initial asking price, but this offer can still meet or surpass your expectations.
Consider what you hope to accomplish as a home seller as you review an offer.
For instance, if your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible, you may be more inclined to accept one of the first offers you receive. Or, if you can afford to remain patient, you may want to take a wait-and-see approach to ensure you get an offer that matches or exceeds your initial asking price.
4. What will happen if I accept the offer?
After you accept an offer on your home, a homebuyer likely will want to complete a home inspection.
If the home inspection goes well, the homebuyer probably will proceed with his or her purchase. If it does not, you may need to complete home maintenance or repairs to finalize the purchase agreement.
Remember, if you accept an offer, there are still several steps that will need to be completed before you sell your house. With an expert real estate agent at your side, you'll know exactly what to expect at each stage of the home selling process.
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