Top 10 Websites for Home Buyers, Sellers & Owners

Want to search for your next home without ever getting out of your pajamas? There’s a site for that. How much will the mortgage and taxes cost you each month? There’s a site for that. Or do you want to know approximately what your home is worth today? Yes, there’s a site for that, too. And once you move into that new home, there’s a site to help you find local schools, restaurants, even your next dentist.

Okay, with apologies to the iPhone app commercials, I thought it might be helpful to list 10 of my favorite websites for people interested in buying or selling a home, remodeling their existing residence, or just looking for local information on their new neighborhood. There are countless websites, of course, and I don’t claim to have the ultimate list – just ones that have good value for homeowners and those looking to become owners.

Here are 10 of my favorites:
• CaliforniaMoves.com. Okay, I admit I’m biased. But Coldwell Banker’s consumer website offers a myriad of tools for home buyers and sellers, including advanced search engines, tips on
buying and selling, relocation information, and even community facts, figures and links. • Realtor.com. In that same vein, Realtor.com is also a good consumer website, especially for those thinking about relocating to other regions or want advice on buying or selling, as well as hiring an agent. There are articles on the market, consumer tips, and even suggestions on gardening and remodeling.
• CaliforniaHome.me. This new blog, powered by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, is a non-stop feast of all things California. From luxury home features and design ideas, to California events and celebrations, the blog if filled with everything that makes the Golden State such an incredible place to live.
• Zillow.com. Who isn’t interested in what their home might be worth, or even better, their neighbors? This website offers property valuations. While I’m not convinced that their estimates are always on target, they do give homeowners some general idea of its value, as well as tax records and other useful info.
• Bankrate.com. Now that you’ve decided where you’re going to buy, this site will help you figure out how much you can afford. This is one of my favorite financial websites because it offers mortgage rate comparisons, links to lenders, and literally dozens of different types of calculators to figure it all out.
• Local.Yahoo.com. So you’re ready to move into your new home. Now what? Go to this site to find a plethora of useful links and information on everything from local restaurants and coffee shops to city offices and police departments to public utilities to get the water and gas turned on.
• Yelp.com. Another great site for newcomers to an area is Yelp, which features customer reviews and ratings on every imaginable local business. Sure there’s the usual restaurant ratings, but you’ll come here to find favorite dentists, veterinarians, gardeners and yes, even real estate agents.
• ServiceMagic.com. For those homeowners planning to remodel or just looking for a contractor to do some routine work, this website can be quite useful. Service Magic prescreens a wide variety of contractors and also incorporates customer ratings in order to provide a list of recommended businesses.
• HomeTips.com. Run by Don Vandervort, a host on HGTV and well-known author of do-it-yourself books, this site – as you might guess – specializes in articles on how to maintain and remodel your home. One of the favorite search engines helps the weekend warrior figure out how to do a wide variety of repairs and save money.
• SFGate.com, MercuryNews.com and SacBee.com. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include our local newspaper websites. Not only do they offer the latest news, sports and business, but also good restaurant and movie reviews, job search engines, and valuable community information and links for all homeowners.

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Steps to the Home Buying Process

Reaching For A Home

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting and important decisions. In addition to being a historically strong investment, owning a house provides comfort and security for you and your loved ones. If you are thinking of purchasing a home this year, there may not be a better time in which to buy. Attractive interest rates and lower prices are helping more first-time home buyers enter the real estate market today than ever before. So if you are thinking of making a move this year, here’s how to get started:

  • Select a professional Realtor®. Choosing a Realtor is one of the most important factors in buying a home. It’s important to select a Realtor who has experience, a strong pulse on the local real estate market and the neighborhoods you are looking in, and who you feel will do the best job in communicating with you. You are going to be working with this person a lot so your comfort with and confidence in the professional are key.
  • Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved with a proven lender will allow you to understand how much home you can afford before you begin your home search. Coldwell Banker has an in-house mortgage banker, who has a reputable track record and can help you determine your purchasing power before you start looking. A qualified loan officer from the company will show you a variety of different types of financing and will determine how much you qualify for with each type, as well as what your monthly payment will be so you can make an educated decision that’s comfortable for you.
  • Determine what you are looking for in a home. Is location most important to you? Do you have to have a swimming pool in your yard? Will you only look at homes that have a formal living room? Understanding your preferences and what you are willing to compromise on will help your Realtor in their search for properties that most closely match your criteria. Remember, unless you are building your dream home from the ground up, there are often compromises involved when deciding whether or not you will be satisfied with a given property.
  • Be proactive. While your Realtor will keep you apprised of any properties that hit the market matching your criteria, it’s important for you to be proactive in your search too. By keeping tabs in the neighborhoods or cities in which you are looking, you will have a better understanding and knowledge of the local market and home prices so that when you are getting ready to make an offer, you can be educated and confident in your decision. Websites such as CaliforniaMoves.com and Realtor.com are both updated frequently and are among my favorites for home buyers.
  • Have an open mind. Remember that the first house you purchase is probably not going to be perfect. If you have been looking for a home for weeks or even months, maybe it’s time to reconsider homes that you’ve already viewed or make a few concessions. Chances are that if there are homes that have been sitting on the market for weeks, the seller may be willing to negotiate more on price and you may be able to purchase your first home for a lower price than originally thought – giving you extra money in the end for home improvement projects.

I hope you found this information useful.  If you are thinking of taking your first steps towards purchasing a home, I’d be pleased to meet with you to give you an update on the local real estate marketplace and your buying opportunities. For more information, contact me today.

 

Why You Should Consider Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Star Christmas Lights Hanging from an Eave

 If you are considering a move during this holiday season but you are unsure how the market will react, read on. You may be surprised to find that some of the most serious, ready-to-go buyers are waiting in the wings during the holiday season to take advantage of the market while others are out holiday shopping. At an open house a few weeks ago, I had over 125 people through both Saturday and Sunday, proof that plenty of buyers are waiting for your home to come on the market!

WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER SELLING YOUR HOME DURING THE HOLIDAY

  • Holiday buyers are particularly serious, committed and focused.
  • The corporate executive transferees have more free time to shop for a home now than at any other time of the year.
  • Over the holidays there are fewer homes available, therefore supply and demand work in your favor.
  • Homes are seasonally radiant during the decorative holiday period.
  • The holiday season is a time of heightened consumer spending.
  • Some buyers purchase homes as gifts.
  • Interest rates are still attractive.

TO PRESERVE PRIVACY OVER THE HOLIDAYS, AT YOUR REQUEST WE CAN TAKE AN EXCLUSIVE MARKETING APPROACH

  • All showings are by appointment and only available to qualified buyers.
  • Take a low key approach to advertising your home, reinforcing its exclusivity.
  • Don’t include property address in advertising.
  • Consider not placing your home on the MLS during the holiday period.
  • No lock box.
  • No open houses for either public or Realtors® (unless homeowners request otherwise)
  • No for sale sign.

If you are considering selling, give me a call today at (408) 410-2060 for a FREE home estimate. Also, remember, if you buy or sell a home through me, or refer me to someone who does, YOU get a FREE 16GB iPad4! What a deal!

December Event Guide – San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for something to do in the Bay Area this weekend? Check out the link below for a list of some great holiday and seasonal events! From Christmas in the Park to holiday light shows, you will find a variety of events around the South Bay here December 2012 Event Schedule!

Have a wonderful December!

Top 10 Winter Energy Saving Tips

Whether you’re able to make a big investment into cutting your energy costs or just looking for a few free and simple ways to save money, here are 10 helpful tips for keeping your energy bills down this winter.

No Cost

  1. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. Your heating system will operate less and use less energy. By turning it down an additional five degrees at night, you could save up to $70 on energy costs each year.
  2. Set your water heater to 120 degrees. Your water heater won’t have to work as hard if it’s set to a lower temperature. In fact, each time you lower it 10 degrees, you’ll save 3-5% on water heating costs.
  3. Open window coverings on south-facing windows. This will help warm your house during the day. At night, cover all windows to help keep the heat in.
  4. Use cold water when washing clothes. Washing clothes in cold water could save you around $40 a year with an electric water heater and $30 with a gas water heater.

 

Some Cost

  1. Replace your furnace filter regularly. Dirty filters reduce air flow, making your equipment work harder. Replace your furnace filter monthly (unless it is a high efficiency filter) during the heating season to reduce heating costs by up to 5% or $35 a year.
  2. Install water-efficient showerheads and faucets. 1.8 gallon-a-minute showerheads can reduce your hot water consumption by as much as 10% and save $20 a year.
  3. Switch to compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. They cost a little more but you’ll save about $40 over the life of just one bulb.
  4. Weatherize your home. You’ll save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs! Seal holes to the outside by weather-stripping doors and windows.

 

Larger Investment

  1. Insulate your home. By adding insulation to the attic, unfinished basement walls and crawlspaces, you could save 20% on heating and cooling costs. You may need to consult a contractor before taking on this project and I’d be happy to provide you with a referral.
  2. Purchase energy efficient appliances. Remember, items like refrigerators, washers, dryers, furnaces, TVs and computers have two price tags – purchase price and lifetime energy costs. Energy efficient appliances can save you up to $75 a year while helping save the environment.

 

Open House Today & Tomorrow from 2-4 pm! Beautiful Cambrian Charmer!

1451 Revere Avenue, San Jose, CA

Stop by this wonderful Cambrian home – open today and tomorrow from 2-4 pm. Move-in ready and very well maintained featuring a large kitchen with granite counter tops, formal dining and living rooms. Spacious master bedroom plus three additional bedrooms. Fourth bedroom located off the living room can be used as a den / office. Quiet convenient location close to shopping.  Schallenberger Elementary!

Offered at only $525,000! Call me for details!

 

Nicole Culbertson

(408) 410-2060

nicole.culbertson@cbnorcal.com

http://www.realestatebynicole.com