5 Best apps for Home Sellers & Buyers

Welcome to the 21st century where even home buying and selling are made easier with your smart phone. Knowledge is power and you can improve your realty experience with these 5 powerful apps:

  1. Jackie’s Keller Williams app. With this app, you can get free instant access to local homes for sale from any cell phone or tablet. Jackie’s Keller Williams Realty Real Estate Search is available for Android, Iphone or IPad. You will find three ways to get Jackie’s KW app at JackieEllisOnTheGo.com.
  2. Redfin. This app updates every 15 minutes, so you are always getting fresh information! While this app can’t replace a qualified real estate agent, you can optimize your search with a variety of filters.
  3. Zillow Real Estate. With this app, you can easily search for homes for sale or for rent. Get your house listed on this site to reach numerous potential buyers. You can also take advantage of the Video Walkthrough feature.
  4. Realtor.com. The granddaddy of real estate apps is still going strong. With numerous photos and important details such as sales history, this app and site remain important tools for your home buying or selling experience.
  5. Mortgage Calculator at Quicken.com. Having a good sense of how much you can afford is the starting block for your house shopping adventure. You can use this app whether you use Quicken as a mortgage company or not.

Declutter Your Life with These 9 Steps

close up of file folder

Do you find it easier to focus and accomplish your daily “to do” list when your space is clean and organized? If you answered “yes” to this question, you are not alone. Studies show that most of us are more productive and are better able to focus when we cut the clutter out of our home and out of our lives. To declutter your work or living space, try this 9 step process:

  1. Make a Plan: As the old saying goes, “Plan your work, and work your plan.” In other words, write it all down and set goals. Once you’ve got it all down on paper, it’s time to implement the program. You’ll want to include the steps below in your process.
  2. Schedule Decluttering Sessions: Getting it all on paper is the easy part! In order to actually get the work done, you will need to set aside specific time to work. It’s amazing how much you can get done by just setting aside one hour per day.
  3. A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place: Your detailed plan should include all the ways you want to organize your belongings. Making sure that every item you own has a specific place to be stored will keep you organized in the future.
  4. Room by Room: Be very organized and systematic with your plan.   Commit to doing one room at a time from start to finish. You’ll learn a lot about the process by completing the first room, and you will be able to see your progress. This will also keep you motivated!
  5. Use the 4-Box Method: Four cardboard boxes will keep you organized. Label them “KEEP,” “DONATE,” “TRASH,” and “STORAGE.” This system helps with the decision making process as well as with organization. Once everything is put into the prospective boxes, half the battle is over!
  6. Purchase Inexpensive Shelving: This is a life saver when it comes to having a place for everything. To further enhance the organization of your belongings, painting the back of the shelving in a dark or contrasting color makes it easier to find items.
  7. Invest in Inexpensive Storage Cubes, Tubs, and Boxes: Simple storage solutions are available everywhere today. These little designer cubes and boxes even add some flare, texture, and color to your room. Again, if you want a place for everything, this is the way to go.
  8. Dividers in Drawers: Dividing the space in your drawers will help you with keeping small items in place. Dividers work well in kitchen and bathroom drawers as well as in your nightstand and living room side-table drawers.
  9. Labels: Use labels where you are able to. You wouldn’t want to stick labels on your nice living room furniture, but cute labels on storage cubes and shelving can come in handy. Even if just temporary, putting labels up will help everyone in the family become accustomed to the new system.

Implementing this 9 step process will have you well on your way to a more organized way of living. Your home or office will look great, and you will be sharp and focused! And when you’re ready to put your home on the market, your decluttering will already be done. As always, we are here to help you with all of your real estate needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us here at the Jackie Ellis Team. Call 561-965-1225 or visit www.JackieEllis.com.

Jackie Ellis has been awarded 10 Best Real Estate Professionals for Client Satisfaction 2016

10BestAwardThe American Institute of Real Estate Professionals, also known as the AIOREP, has recognized the extraordinary performance of Palm Beach County’s Real Estate Professional, and our own, Jackie EllisJackie has been awarded with the exclusive honor of being named as one of the 10 Best Real Estate Professionals in Florida for Client Satisfaction.

Qualifying for the exclusive list is not an easy task, though Jackie is able to make it appear so.  In order to be honored with the prestigious award, each real estate agent must pass the rigorous selection process which includes a formal nomination and the achievement of the highest possible degree of professional development along with the best reputation for client satisfaction.

The “10 Best” list is extended only to the select few agents who have managed to combine the success of reaching the top level in their profession with the accomplishment of maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction.

If you have any experience with Jackie Ellis or any of her team members, you are well aware of the fact that they pride themselves on client satisfaction.  Making their clients THE top priority has made the Jackie Ellis Team the “go to” team for any and all real estate needs in the Palm Beach County area.  Congratulations, Jackie, on receiving this prestigious and well deserved recognition!

4 Stress-Free Ideas to Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2016

valentine-2016-jackie-ellis-01Every year, it rolls around.  Ready or not!  Valentine’s Day can mean many things, but one thing that seems to be inevitable is the pressure it puts on us to make the day special.  Red roses and chocolates are nice….but predictable, and almost anyone can make a reservation at an upscale restaurant.  Why not do something a little different this year? Why not celebrate your love in a more enjoyable and relaxing way?  After all, a casual and easygoing environment usually brings out the best in most of us and makes it easier to engage in conversation and laughter. Whether going out with a group of friends or alone with your significant other, consider taking the road less traveled…..at least on Valentine’s Day, anyway.  There are many places around Palm Beach County that will fit the bill for a pleasant evening, offering a diversion from the daily grind.  Here are just a few ideas…..

Brew Houses

Brew Houses have become very popular of late.  Typically, they have a charm all their own.   For example, The Brew House Gallery may be best described as “hip and cool” meets “awesome and interesting”.  For those of us who may enjoy a relaxing, laid back evening in that favorite t-shirt and rugged blue-jeans, this place could be the one!  Not only can you get some amazing beer on tap, but the gourmet hot dogs are said to be “to die for.”  Live local music adds to the ambiance and warmth of the atmosphere.  Did I mention that this place is also an Art Gallery?   That’s really where the “hip and cool” comes in.  Open noon – midnight on Sunday, February 14th.

Wine Bars

There are plenty of wine bars in the area from which to choose.  It’s easy to check out the online reviews to choose the one that best suits you, your mood, and your budget.  You don’t have to know much about wine to enjoy a nice wine bar.  Most of the people who own and serve in these places are knowledgeable and passionate about wine, and they love sharing it with others.  Pairing foods with wine is a skill, and if you leave it to the professionals you won’t be sorry.  Check out The Cheese & Wine Café in Lantana. Open until 8:00 pm on Sundays, they have an extensive gourmet sandwich and appetizer menu.  To top it off, their prices are very reasonable.

Coffee Bars

Wine and Spirits not your thing?  If gourmet coffee is more your style, it’s no secret that the Palm Beach County area has plenty to offer.  Many coffee houses close earlier in the day, but Subculture Coffee is open 7:00 am – midnight on Sundays.  And, Havana’s in West Palm Beach has a walk-up window that is open 24/7!  Of course, they have more than coffee to offer, but the coffee, alone, will not disappoint!

A Sunset Picnic

Pack your own food, or take your favorite carry out to the beach for a sunset picnic.  South Inlet is a great park to choose if you prefer a picnic table, and Ocean Ridge Hammock Park is excellent for spreading a blanket and enjoying a feast right on the beach.  After dinner, enjoy a walk in the sand as the sun sets.  Don’t forget to dress in layers, but the cool breeze will give you a good excuse to hold hands and cuddle!

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, make it memorable by making it stress free.  Give you and yours a chance to take a break together, relax, and just spend time enjoying each other’s company.  You never know, you may enjoy it enough to make it a habit!

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4 Advantages of Selling your Home during the Holidays

The majority of home sellers resist putting their home on the market during the holidays.  The list of reasons is many, but among the most popular excuses is the fact that they are busy and will be having guests.  However, if you’re serious about selling your home and you want to get an edge up on the competition, you may want to reconsider.  Here is a list of the reasons why:

  1. Reduced Competition

As previously mentioned, most people do not want to list their homes during the holidays.  In fact, most people simply refuse to do so.  For the small number of homeowners who decide to bite the bullet, the reward can be significant.  Fewer homes on the market always works in favor of the seller.  “The early bird gets the worm.”  If you know you are planning to sell your home after the holidays, why wait?  It’s a good idea to seriously consider moving forward as soon as possible, even during the holidays.

  1. Only Serious Buyers are Looking during the Holidays!

While most are busy shopping, cooking, decorating, and socializing, there will be a number of buyers who are serious about purchasing a home during this time.  No one is out “kicking tires” during this time, so if a buyer is actively looking at homes, this means they are probably ready to make an offer!

  1. Your Home Looks Amazing during the Holidays!

You spend a lot of time decorating and preparing for the holidays.  Your home is a show place that you want to share with family and friends. It’s warm and cozy.  It’s inviting, and it smells fabulous!  Why not take advantage of this, and list your home when it’s actually all dressed up for an open house? Decorate the exterior as well.  Just don’t overdo it!

  1. Buyers Make Decisions Based on their Emotions.

While sellers employ logic and reason, buyers tend to make decisions based on their emotions.  What better time of year, to play on that, than the holidays?  The cozy, inviting atmosphere you’ve created in your home enables the buyer to see what the holidays will look like in their future home.

So, if you’re planning to put your home on the market as soon as the holidays come screeching to a halt, rethink your decision.  Your willingness to take on a little extra during one of the busiest times of year could really pay off!

Still have questions about selling your home?  Visit WhatIsMyHomeProfit.com for a free home value report.

To schedule a no-hassle consultation with one of our Seller Experts call us at 561-965-1225 or visit JackieEllis.com

7 Red Flags to Consider when Buying Your Next Home

We’ve all seen red flags that stick out like a sore thumb when visiting a particular home or neighborhood such as run down homes and un-kept lawns.  But what about some other major red flags that the average home buyer isn’t trained to notice?  We will discuss 7 red flags that you don’t want to ignore!  Keep in mind that these red flags don’t necessarily mean “don’t buy.”  They simply mean that you should pause to think, gather more information, and make an educated decision before you proceed.

red-flagRed Flag # 1:   Market Value

Is the value of the area you are considering increasing or decreasing?  Your real estate agent will be able to pull accurate information for you and help you in determining the answer to this question.  Of course, increasing values will be ideal.  So, carefully weigh all of the information before making an offer on a property in a neighborhood where the values are headed south.

red-flagRed Flag # 2:  School Ratings

It’s no secret that homes in neighborhoods with the best schools are the most valuable and desirable.  Even if you do not have children in the school system or you send your little students to the best private schools, you should strongly consider what buying into one of the lower rated districts might mean for you in the future when it comes to reselling.

red-flagRed Flag # 3:  New Subdivisions

Purchasing a newer home in a recently developed subdivision can be really exciting.  Before you take the plunge, though, you should consider looking at the overall plans for the community such as where cable/phone boxes will be placed and what types of homes will be built on the vacant lots around you.  If you decide to purchase a home in an area still doing construction, you may have some unwelcome surprises if you don’t do all of your homework ahead of time.

red-flagRed Flag # 4:  Conversions or Additions to a Home

Many subdivisions, especially older ones, allow room additions or conversions.  You will want to look closely at the work done and gather all of the information regarding the contractors who completed the work, especially when it comes to electrical and plumbing work.  Proceeding with caution in this particular area can save you a major headache in the long run!

red-flagRed Flag # 5:  Incomplete Construction or Remodeling Projects

An incomplete addition or remodel should also be looked at closely.  Have permits been pulled?  Who started the work? Can it be completed easily and professionally without having to backtrack and redo work already started?  These are all questions you will want to answer before moving forward.

red-flagRed Flag # 6:  The Floorplan

Any oddity in a floorplan that seems different or bizarre should cause you to pause a bit.  Sometimes “different” is a good thing, but at other times…..not so much!  A layout that seems choppy and doesn’t flow well could cause you problems when you’re ready to resell the home.  Also, if you are looking at a 2 bedroom in the midst of a neighborhood full of 3 and 4 bedrooms, this could drastically decrease your value and make reselling difficult as well.  Another red flag concerning the floorplan is the lack of a dining room.  Strangely, most buyers want a formal dining room.  Homes without them are a bit more difficult to sell.  Think twice before purchasing a home without a fancy feasting facility!

red-flagRed Flag # 7:  Over Improvement

Over Improvement is definitely not a deal breaker, but something you should be aware of.  An amazing home which has been greatly improved can be very appealing, but it could increase the value of the home far beyond the market value of the neighborhood it’s in.  When it comes time to resell, will you be able to get your money back on the property?  It may not be possible.  You have to decide if it’s worth it to you.

Again, these red flags do not mean you have to run the other way.  But before you jump in head first, be sure you learn everything you need to know in order to make the best decision for your future!  Buyer’s remorse is not fun!

Search for homes in your area right from your phone with our mobile app, download for free for Android or Apple at JackieEllisOnTheGo.com

Ready to buy a home? Contact a buyer expert on The Jackie Ellis Team today at 561-965-1225 or visit TheJackieEllisTeam.com to start your home search today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Ordering a Home Inspection before Listing Your Home

As homeowners, we tend to overlook both minor and major issues within our homes.  This is especially true about areas that we do not frequent such as attics, the rooftop, and the sides or back of the house.  No matter how well you think you have maintained your home, an experienced home inspector will uncover your home’s deepest darkest secrets!  These are the things we tend to ignore until time for the dreaded home inspection, and then we live in fear and turmoil waiting for the inevitable to be revealed.  Finally, there it is in print for all to see.  No more throwing a rug over the damaged floor around the leaky shower!  Everyone will know what’s there as soon as the inspector walks through the bathroom door with his clipboard.  To avoid this embarrassment, many home sellers are opting to have their home inspected before they put it on the market.

billings-home-inspectionsIn all seriousness, a pre home inspection can save the seller big money, and it can also give buyers more confidence when looking at your home.  Bill Billings from Billings Home Inspections tells us that buyers appreciate everything being laid out on the table….literally.  During a showing, if the buyer is able to look at the home inspection along with all of the repairs that you have completed, their level of confidence and trust is dramatically increased.  Of course, if they decide to move forward in the buying process of your home, their agent will still insist on their own home inspection, and that home inspector will probably still find something that needs to be done.  But the list won’t be nearly as long! And, the likelihood of uncovering anything major will be doubtful, insuring you the ability to get the maximum value out of the sale of your home.

So now that we’ve decided it’s a great idea and well worth your money to get a home inspection during the pre-listing process, let’s discuss exactly what the seller is obligated to repair.  If you’ve ever been involved in a home inspection during the selling or buying process, you know that most inspectors list a wide array of issues from cosmetic to electrical and plumbing concerns.  Your real estate agent will guide you through the final inspection report and will inform you of the items you are obligated to repair.  For instance, the “for sale and purchase” contract states that the buyer is entitled to a home that is leak free, structurally sound, and in proper working condition.   However, the seller is NOT obligated to take care of cosmetic items, though taking care of cosmetic items in the first place will increase the value of your home.

Clearly, it’s best to be aware of all of the issues your home may have prior to someone else coming in to make their own assessment.  Scheduling your own home inspection before you list your home really puts the ball in your court, giving you more knowledge and power.  For more information on home inspections, you can reach Billings Home Inspections at (561) 644-0279 or (561) 352-0113.

Questions about selling your Home in Palm Beach County? Contact us at 561-95-1225 or request a free home value report at WhatIsMyHomeProfit.com

Beginning a Career in Real Estate

Have you ever thought about pursuing a career as a professional real estate agent?  Many people are realizing their dream of becoming a successful realtor, and it’s easier to get started than you may think.  John Greer from Gold Coast Schools recently visited with us about the training and requirements necessary for those seeking a career in real estate.  Gold Coast Schools is the leading provider of classroom and online real estate classes.  The school has designed their schedule to make it as easy as possible for you to enroll in classes no matter how hectic your current lifestyle may be.  They offer a one week course which meets Monday thru Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, or a four week course which meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday half days.  You can choose between the morning classes or evening classes.  This is especially beneficial for those who are employed in full-time “8 to 5” jobs.  Gold Coast also offers online classes which can be completed any day or time of the week.  Of course, the classroom option is recommended because networking can begin the minute you step into the class.  And, we all know that making connections and building relationships is one of the key elements to success in real estate.

The Real Estate Commission is the governing body that regulates the industry.  In the state of Florida, each person interested in becoming an agent must be qualified.  In order to meet these qualifications, you must be 18 years of age or older, have a high school diploma and social security card, and complete the 63 hour real estate course.  Before your licensing exam, the Real Estate Commission will also want to assure that you are of good moral standing and character, and you will be asked to agree to finger print and background checks.  Minor traffic tickets will not stand in your way, but serious criminal offenses very well may.

Real estate is one of the most affordable careers to pursue if you are just starting out in the working world or even if you are a seasoned professional in a different field.  The cost of the class is about $500, and the application fee is $200.  Amazingly, for a total of only $700 you could be well on your way to a new way of life!  Not to mention, there will be no need to spend years paying off those gigantic school loans!

Since the real estate class and licensing process is only the beginning of the training process, it is important to choose the right realty company once you have passed the exam.  At Keller Williams, we have a program for all of our new agents called Ignite.  Ignite is a program that will supercharge your new career!  We will teach you most everything you need to know to allow you a proficient and successful start.  Of course, on the job training never ends, but the coaching and accountability that we put into our agents is priceless. As a professional real estate agent, you are not just a “salesman,” you wear many hats such as Lifestyle Advisor, Home Stager, Pricing Expert, and Marketing Specialist.  It takes a special person to wear all of these hats well!

If you are just beginning to explore the idea of getting into real estate, contact Jackie Ellis at Keller Williams.  We have an assessment which measures strengths to see if you are an ideal candidate for a career in real estate.  The DISC assessment measures Drive, Influence, Steadiness and Stability, and Compliance.  To apply online visit JoinJackieEllis.com

To get more information about Gold Coast Schools, visit their website at www.goldcoastschools.com.

Preparing Your Home for the Real Estate Market

Getting your home ready to sell, also known as “staging,” is extremely important.  Once your house is listed, gone are the days of walking through the door and kicking off your shoes.  Living in a home that is on the market means you will be walking on egg shells.  Doesn’t sound fun?  You may actually end up loving your new life in a “model home.”  Whether or not this is true, embrace it.  It will be worth it when you are considering multiple offers!

modern-home-interior_GyiD7DuuLet’s go over the most important areas of the home staging process starting with the exterior.  Curb Appeal is the name of the game!  Some buyers actually decide whether or not they want to continue the buying process on a home before they ever walk through the front door.  If you can’t get them out of the car, you’ll never be able to get them to the closing appointment, so get to work!  The exterior of your home should look well-manicured and clean cut.  Trim trees and bushes, keep the lawn cut, and make sure all debris is removed.  And to put the icing on top, plant some flowers.  Not just any color, though!  Yellow flowers have been shown to improve the curb appeal of homes.  And while you’re at it, add new mulch.  Mulch is the single most cost effective way to spruce up the outside of your home!   The next thing a potential buyer will notice is the exterior paint.  A neutral color is best.  Your goal is to appeal to the masses.  Sure, the bright red door is adorable, but not to everyone.  So save that idea for your next home.  Beige and any shade of tan, cream, or taupe is usually the correct answer when it comes to staging your home.  Furthermore, check for wood rot around the entire exterior of your home.  Wood rot is not acceptable.  Neither are dirty, broken windows or torn screens.  These items are easy to repair, and it’s a good idea to take care of them before you list your home.

Outdoor living spaces are a big deal here in southern Florida, so make sure they are also staged and well kept.  Patio furniture should be in good condition and should appear clean and inviting.  Fences should be repaired, painted, or replaced when necessary.  And cracked concrete on patios should be attended to.  Don’t forget to keep all pool toys and other items picked up and organized.

For more staging tips visit our YouTube Channel and watch #JackiesStagingTips

Have more questions about selling your home? Contact us today!

Benefits of Getting Pre-Approved for a Home Mortgage Loan

florida villa homeWhen it comes to buying a new home, one of the most important tasks is finding the right mortgage to meet your specific needs.  Loralynne Ball, Senior Vice President at Vandyk Mortgage, has shared some valuable information with us.  She suggests meeting with your real estate agent first.  A seasoned and experienced agent will walk you through the entire home buying process.  Most likely, your agent will suggest that you get pre-approved for a home loan before you ever start looking at properties.  Pre-approval means that the lender has pulled your credit score as well as necessary personal information to determine if you will qualify for a loan.  A pre-qualification letter does not hold as much merit, as it only means the lender has had a conversation with you about your credit and income without verifying the information.  If you do not have a preference or prior experience with a specific lender, your agent will be able to give you a list of reputable mortgage companies with which they have experience and trusted relationships. Once you choose a lender, the pre-approval process begins.  This process is important for several reasons.  First, you will know the exact amount of the loan for which you will qualify.  This gives you and your agent a better idea of your budget and the price range of the homes you will be shown.  Pre-approval also gives you more confidence when making an offer, and gives the seller more confidence in considering and accepting an offer.

Maybe you are wondering if you can qualify for a home loan.  Lenders take many factors into consideration when choosing the right loan for the right individual.  Your mortgage company will not expect you to have a perfect credit score of 800. If you don’t have some type of “hiccup” in your credit history, you are not among the average American.   Instead, they will expect you to have a score no lower than 620.  Of course, the higher the score is the better.  Determining the type of loan which will best suit you is fairly straight forward.  The typical loans are VA, FHA, Conventional, and Jumbo.  The VA loan is one that is designed for veterans and secured by the government.  These loans often require no down payment.  The FHA loan is also backed by the government and usually requires a low down payment with less strict requirements than a Conventional loan.  A Jumbo loan is any loan over $417,000.   Wondering about a down payment?  A down payment could range anywhere from 0% to 20% depending on all of the variables that must be taken into consideration. In order to calculate the down payment that will be required for most loans, the lender will look at your credit, capacity, and collateral.  This means your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio, and your assets.  While interest rates remain low and affordability of home buying is ideal, you may have circumstances that prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage.  In this case, most lenders will point you in the right direction, outlining a plan for raising your credit score and getting you on the path to home ownership.

van-dyk-mortgageMore information about Vandyk Mortgage can be found at www.vandykmortgage.com, and Loralynne Ball can be reached at (954) 512-8838.