Uncategorized April 5, 2024

Eight Steps for Buying Your First Home

Welcome to one of life’s great adventures: buying your first home! This journey is not just about brick and mortar – it’s about creating a sanctuary for new memories, a haven of comfort and the key to your future. These eight steps will help set you on a path for success.


1. Do Your Research

Diving deep into housing market research is a step you simply can’t skip. This preparatory phase involves taking a close look at current market trends, assessing home values in your desired neighborhoods and gauging local supply and demand. Understanding interest rate trends and the economic health of your target area is also important. Remember that knowledge is power – it’s essential to making informed decisions with confidence and clarity.

2. Set Your Budget

When buying your first home, getting a handle on your finances is crucial. It helps you manage your expectations, ease any stress you may be feeling and narrow down your home search. A great starting point is to get a mortgage preapproval – it’s like having a golden ticket to the home buying theater. It tells sellers you mean business and, more importantly, tells you how much you can actually afford.

3. Craft Your Wish List

You’ve probably been dreaming of your first home for a while, and now is the time to map out your “must-haves” versus your “nice-to-haves.” You can start by asking the right questions: How many bedrooms do I really need? Is a home office necessary? Do I want a big yard or is a cozy balcony enough outdoor space? Knowing your non-negotiables will help you steer clear of beautiful distractions that might not fit your lifestyle or budget.

4. Choose Your Location

As the saying goes, it’s all about location. But what does that even mean? It’s more than just a spot on the map. It’s about the community, local schools, commute times and even the home’s future value. To get into a new home that you’ll love, focus down to three neighborhoods while considering their projected market trends in case you ever want to sell.

5. Work With a Real Estate Agent

From local market expertise and financing to legal requirements and negotiation, a good real estate agent can guide you through every step of the home buying process. A specialist in your chosen areas can alert you to available properties as soon as they hit the market, giving you a jump-start on the competition. Many federal and state assistance programs are also available to first-time buyers, essential information your agent can provide for you.

6. Start Viewing Homes

With your wish list in one hand and your preapproval letter in the other, it’s time to check out your options in person. You should attend plenty of open houses and ask your agent to pull back the curtain on any home that sparks your interest. Once you find that perfect property, your real estate agent is your #1 ally, helping you craft an offer that’s enticing to the seller yet protects your interests – especially in competitive markets.

7. Schedule the Home Inspection

This is another important step that your agent can help facilitate. After your offer has been accepted, a thorough property inspection will give you a clear understanding of the home’s condition. If any hidden issues are revealed, your agent can negotiate repairs or adjust the offer before you make your final decision.

8. Close the Deal

As you come down the final stretch, your real estate agent will help you navigate all the paperwork and legal considerations. Make sure you understand your obligations and ask questions if you need clarification. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, swapped out that preapproval for a mortgage and handed over the down payment, congratulations – you’re a home owner!

Your first home is more than just a piece of real estate; it’s the cozy embrace at the end of a long day, the gathering spot for friends and family and the foundation upon which you’ll build your dreams. Unwrap the joy, embrace the journey and open the door to an exciting future.

real estate April 5, 2024

Summer Home Prep Made Easy

Summertime is just around the corner! Whether you’re planning backyard barbecues, lounging in the sun or staying cool indoors, a little proactive summer home preparation can go a long way in ensuring your abode is ready for the season.

Rejuvenate Your Home Exterior

Tackle your outdoor space by giving your patio or deck a good scrub or sweep, clearing any weather debris. Then, look at your furniture and freshen it up by incorporating patio umbrellas to add a touch of shade for when the sun’s heat is too much. Also, don’t forget to give your grill some attention – from checking the ignition, propane tank, charcoal basin or your stock supply, you’ll want to make sure everything is up and running for food, fun and fresh air. Lastly, set the ambiance and add strategically placed lights for evening get-togethers.

Beat the Summer Heat Indoors

As temperatures rise, keeping your home regulated is a top priority. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-placed ceiling fan – consider installing one in your main living space to circulate air and create a breeze. Additionally, a programmable thermostat can help regulate the temperature indoors. You could also install ceramic or reflective window films, allowing you to enjoy the natural light while reducing heat and harmful UV rays coming into your home. And now is the perfect time to check your air conditioning unit before it gets too hot. Replace filters and thoroughly clean and test the unit to ensure it is in proper working order when you need it most.

Create a Summer-Esque Ambiance  

Embrace the season and nature by adding plants or flowers to your living spaces. From lush greenery to vibrant blooms, summer foliage can add a pop of color and life to your décor. Better yet, the flora can set the tone for a relaxed, chill vibe. While you’re at it, consider adding yellow, blue and green summer hues to your interior design through seasonal pillows, rugs or artwork to uplift the mood of any room.

Repel Seasonal Bugs

Summer pests can quickly become unwelcome guests inside your home. These sneaky critters have a knack for finding their way in, but you can keep them out by sealing any cracks or gaps around doors and windows by caulking or weatherstripping openings. Also, you could invest in some window screens to allow the summer breeze to flow indoors while keeping the bugs out. And for your summer outdoor relaxation or gatherings, citronella candles or torches can help repel mosquitoes and other insects while adding a cozy ambiance.

With some elbow grease and a splash of creativity, you’ll have your home primed for the summer season so you can kick back, invite friends over, crank up the grill and let the good times roll.


by Jennifer McGuire

real estate April 5, 2024

Six Tips for Productivity When Working from Home

working from home productivity

Useful tips to help create effective habits and achieve greater productivity while working from home.

Tips for efficiently working from home

Adapting to a new work environment is always difficult, even when it’s moving into the comfort of your own home. Working from home can present new obstacles for those we are learning to manage work and life, in their household. Different variables like implementing new rules, practicing good habits and maintaining a healthy balance, are very important.

With the help of two experienced real estate agents with Coldwell Banker®, we have identified some useful tips to help create effective habits and achieve greater productivity:

  1. Create a Workspace (And Keep it Tidy)

First, create a designated workspace that you can call your office and in which you keep your work. This helps to make the distinction between where you work and where you live.

Make sure to keep your workspace organized and keep your essentials at hand – notes, office supplies, water and brain-food snacks. This helps you focus and avoid getting up to find things, constantly, which can lead to more distractions.

“I knew that I would be working from home much more than normal in the coming weeks and decided I needed to make a change, and fast. We had a desk in the basement, and we had a store credit on Wayfair.com that we decided to use to purchase a new desk chair. With these items and some rearranging of furniture, I was able to create the perfect home office for me in our den.” – Rachel Crowl, Coldwell Banker Preferred PA     

  1. Stick to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Try to keep your normal routine and schedule in place. Use the time you would normally take to commute to do something for yourself – make a good and healthy breakfast, take a shower to ready you for the day, or walk the dog a little longer. Some professionals may already be accustomed to flexible schedules. But, if you must spend more time at home than normal, find ways to supplement what you would be doing – like expanding your social media marketing skills or attending a web-based seminar. 

  1. Dress for Success

While you may not want to dress in a full suit or in business wear, getting out of your pajamas helps you get into a productive and more energetic mentality. For example, dressing in your workout clothes can help you feel more active. Dress professionally for your video calls – it reminds your clients and colleagues that you’re always a professional on your A-game.

“How you dress affects your mindset, so I am dressed in business casual attire. I recognize that a client may need to FaceTime or video-chat, so I’m prepared. I also make my workspace comfortable and bright, and I setup dual monitors.” – Bobby Yazdani, Coldwell Banker Realty in Texas 

  1. Stay Connected

Keep in touch with your clients and colleagues by recognizing the adopting the best platforms to reach them. From Microsoft Teams or Skype to social media, there are numerous platforms that facilitate communicating, sharing files, creating appointments and virtual meetings. The key is to identify your goals and the best format to connect with the desired audience.

Tip: Microsoft Teams is the hub for team collaboration in Office365 that integrates the people, content, and tools your team needs to be more engaged and effective. If you haven’t already, download it here.

     5. Coordinate Do Not Disturb Times

For those who aren’t working from home alone, it is useful to coordinate do not disturb hours with those living in your household. That could mean creating a schedule around your workload or organizing your workload around their schedule. Find what works best for you. Also, create the Zen space that helps you to concentratete, this doesn’t always mean working in silence, especially when external noises may be inevitable. Consider noise cancelling headphones, calming sound effect apps or maybe instrumental music online. For example, Spotify offers Focus Music Stations with a variety of sounds.

“Both of our workspaces have doors that shut, which is key when we need privacy for calls or to focus. We have also tried to implement a policy during normal working hours to save all personal discussions and business until after work hours, unless it’s a true emergency. It’s too easy to just walk into the other person’s space and spontaneously talk about things that are going on in your own mind, that might cause the other to lose their train of thought or work mindset.” – Rachel Crowl, Coldwell Banker Preferred PA


  1. Remember to Get Fresh Air

Productivity doesn’t occur from non-stop, limitless hours of work. Sitting at a desk for extended periods of time can be detrimental to your health. Working past your normal office hours can be easy when you’re at home, but it can also lead to exhaustion and loss of sleep. A healthy balance is vital to ensuring productivity and efficiency! Use your break time to step out and get fresh air or even your normal commute time home, for a quick walk.

“I make adjustments by designating hour bands that are strictly for work. I address all immediate emails, questions or concerns relating to current transactions first and then work on different aspects of the business each day of the week. I think it’s important to re-energize, so I incorporate 15-30-minute breaks throughout the day. By midday, I typically take the time to step away and address any chores or personal errands so that by the time I come back, my mind is fresh and refocused.” – Bobby Yazdani, Coldwell Banker Realty in Texas

Article written by Gabi Ruiz, Coldwell Banker Public Relations Specialists

Office photos courtesy of Rachel Crowl.