November 10th, 2015 by Terri Aubain
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of November in 1918, World War One ended. Arguably the most terrible war the modern world had witnessed to date was finally over. Few souls on Earth went untouched in some way by the war. So many served, so many died, and so many took the scars of their experience home with them and did their best to get on with life. All had hoped there would never be cause for such sacrifice in the future.
Of course we know the call came again and again. And despite full knowledge of the challenges, horrors, and heartbreaking losses, brave men and women answered the call. They have done so because they accept what it means to serve and defend our most deeply held shared values.
This Veterans Day I hope you will join me in a spirit of gratitude for veterans everywhere. I believe each of us can see our way to hold them in our minds— those we know personally and those we have never known. If you see a veteran, thank them. If you know the family of a veteran, help them. Let us pay homage with pride.
February 11th, 2015 by Terri Aubain
Homeowners insurance is vital for protecting your investment. It’s also required by lenders holding the mortgage on your home. For some reason many homeowners overlook ways they can save money on their premiums. Shopping around is a good idea, but much like auto insurance, there are many simple things you can do to impact how much you pay annually to protect your home.
Raise your deductible.
Do you really need a low deductible on your insurance policy? Many people can absorb the hit if they go from a $500 deductible to a $1000 deductible, and in some cases this simple move can reduce rates up to 25%. Deductible can have a dramatic impact on your premium, so ask your company rep to quote you the difference.
Don’t insure for your home’s purchase price.
Remember, you don’t have to re-buy the land your home is on if you have to rebuild. If you’ve asked for coverage which includes the land cost as well as the structure cost, you could be paying far more than you need to pay to protect your home.
Retired? Seek a discount.
If you’re over 55 and you’re retired, your insurance company may be willing to drop your rate by as much as 10%. Retired folks are home more often. This can help reduce burglaries and provide an early warning system for fires.
Ask for a loyalty discount.
If you’ve been with your insurance company for at least three years, call them up and bring this to their attention. Let them know you’re considering shopping for a new policy, and you’re curious if they can extend you a discount for being a loyal customer. Savings can range from five to ten percent.
Adjust your coverage for possessions.
You may be insuring for more than you own. Certain high-end computers and other luxury goods may depreciate over time. If the limits on your policy far exceed the value of your possessions, make changes to your policy. The difference can add up. (Do this every year.)
Factoring in insurance costs is an important part of determining how much home you can afford. For more information on how different types of homes can have different insurance costs, talk to me today: Terri Aubain 832-777-8850 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
December 17th, 2014 by Terri Aubain
As I’m sure you’re well aware, we live on a crowded planet with sharp contrasts between those with abundance and those with barely enough to survive. As the news tells us, human suffering is rarely more than a click or a video away.
When we consider the modern surplus of despair, we risk paralysis. So many of us turn our backs as a defensive measure against all that we can’t alleviate for others. But nowhere is it written that the greatest good is solving problems for millions. Sometimes, the best you can do is help those in your vicinity. Helping just one person in need is infinitely better than helping no one at all.
Though you may not have the money to apply to your neighbor’s problems, you can probably offer something more valuable: Your service. Offering helping hands in a shelter, sharing your time with seniors in nursing homes, cooking for a family in need, cleaning up litter in your community… all are ways to serve that provide an immediate benefit.
The real secret to “service-as-a-gift” is that it gives two ways. Money may help one person, but service helps two: Volunteering has a way of making your problems seem smaller. It lightens your neighbor’s load as well as your own. Many who have found themselves depressed about the state of affairs report a feeling of well-being after volunteering their time and energy.
While Black Friday and holiday deals dominate our screens, take a moment and ask yourself: Who can I mentor? What skills do I have that can be donated to a service organization? Where can I uniquely ease someone else’s burden?
There is great peace in discovering all the gifts you have to give.
Wishing you all the best this holiday season.
October 28th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
I’m here to save you pain, buyers. There are myths about the home shopping experience that must be addressed. I like to make the home buying experience as stress-free as possible, so please hear me out on these three big myths about home buying:
Myth #1: “That house has been on the market so long I bet we can work the seller down easily.”
Not necessarily. Exceptionally high days on market could mean almost anything. The seller could be bullheaded about their price. The seller may not be particularly motivated to sell for emotional or other personal reasons. Don’t forget: A sales-weary seller isn’t likely to respond to your host of rational reasons why their house should be a bargain.
Myth #2: “I want to look at foreclosed homes because they’re a real bargain and the banks need to unload them.”
Banks, like entrenched sellers, don’t always make decisions which seem rational based on obvious information. You can have a hard time divining the reason a bank chooses to reject an offer for a foreclosed or distressed property, and their decision may be based on financials which seem counterintuitive. The truth is, many distressed sales can be longer and more fraught than regular sales.
Myth #3: “I liked this house a lot, but with this market, I bet it will still be there if I decide to buy it.”
It’s very, very painful to see a client love a home but fail to make a move to purchase that home. If you fell in love with it, why wouldn’t someone else? Just because a property has been on the market a little while doesn’t mean it will stay on the market. The bonus myth in this one? Your “perfect” home is probably going to be a home with some small compromises. If you don’t make an offer on a home, you’re effectively saying, “I’m comfortable losing this home.”
My job as an agent is to represent your interests and do my best to protect you along the way. If you’re pursuing a home purchase in the near future, please get in touch. There are many other ways I can lower your stress and help you find a great home. 832-777-8850
October 8th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
I often work with clients who find themselves outgrowing their home. Sometimes these are couples who have welcomed their first child into the world, and other times it’s the simple accumulation of “stuff” over time which has crowded their house.
While I’m always glad to help homeowners make the “upgrade” to a bigger home (and now is a pretty good time to buy a lot of house for comparatively little money), I’m also interested in helping them make the most of the home they have today. Given the amount of time we spend in our homes, it makes sense to work towards a clutter-free, organized, peaceful environment.
Sometimes I work with clients who find the things they own have ended up “owning them.” What we own and what we actually use are often very different, and what we don’t use can take up a lot of space. Have you ever calculated the usable square footage an abandoned treadmill or stationary bike takes up in a spare room or garage?
Recently, I came across a very interesting guide to help clients and friends “unclutter” their lives. Written by Dinah Sanders, Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff is a handy way to approach the problem of a packed house (and the stresses associated it). From a review of the Discardia:
“With three key principles and numerous practical tips, Discardia helps you solve specific issues, carve away the nonsense of physical objects, habits, or emotional baggage, and uncover what brings you joy.”
Whether you’re looking to downsize, feel cramped in your current home, or get a sense that you could have more happiness if you had “less stuff,” I recommend you check out this actionable, inspiring, (but not sappy) book. Dinah also runs a blog (http://www.discardia.com/) where you can learn more about her approach and read articles on the topic of enjoying more with less.
If you’re looking to upgrade or downgrade your home, I’d be happy to help. Get in touch with me here: email@example.com or 832-777-8850
June 10th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
Living next door to someone doesn’t make you a neighbor. It makes you the stranger next door! One of the great opportunities we have in our communities is the chance to build real, meaningful relationships with the people who live closest to us.
While I understand the desire for privacy, I think it’s important we realize that regular, helpful communication with our neighbors makes us both safer and paves a smooth road for difficult conversations we might face with our neighbors in the future.
It doesn’t take much to start off the right way. Consider leaving a nice note in their mailbox, a small “thank you” gift for looking out for the neighborhood, or some other “olive branch” act that will build rapport.
Small gestures such as a nice note about landscaping, an invitation to a potluck, or an “all hands on deck” community improvement project allow us to get to know our neighbors. This is vital when you consider the people around you are the most likely to spot smoke in a fire, clue you in to suspicious activity, and have the opportunity to share vital local information.
What’s more, if you build a positive base with your neighbors, when the time comes to have a difficult conversation (such as a nuisance dog, kids running amok, or intrusive lighting issues), you’ll have a buffer of mutual respect and goodwill to draw on.
If your opening conversation with a neighbor is a complaint, you’re setting yourself up for a long, antagonistic relationship. Who wants to live next to that?
I think a civil community depends upon our connection to our neighbors. We all benefit when we depend on and trust one another.
May 30th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
It’s hard to believe Memorial Day is already behind us. I always think of Memorial Day as the true arrival of summer, a busy season when many of the families I work with are anxious to be settled before the new school year arrives.
I hope you’re well and enjoyed a little rest and relaxation on the long Memorial Day Weekend. The smell of BBQs in the air and the sounds of kids playing is always a fortunate reminder of how much we have to be thankful for in our community.
This year I was also heartened to see people remember those families throughout history who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we’re enjoying this summer. Sadly, we do not have to look very far into the past to remember those who have died. We have people in our community who have recently lost fathers, daughters, sons, and mothers.
Even though Memorial Day has passed, I encourage you to continue to show your respect and appreciation for those families whose loved ones will not be returning to them. Invite them to enjoy fellowship with you throughout the year. Honor them and honor their soldiers by holding up a mirror to show the generous, grateful community we live in.
It’s also not too late to teach our children that Memorial Day means more than a long weekend. Why not take an evening soon to explore some websites which talk about the history of Memorial Day? (The History Channel is a good place to start: http://www.history.com/topics/memorial-day-history).
May your summer be a reward and a reminder to appreciate the big picture. All my best to you and yours. Keep in touch.
Terri Aubain ~ 832-777-8850 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
April 6th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
We’ve come a long way since the darkest hours of the bottom of the home market. Now, buyers are finding the competition for homes surprisingly stiff. The days of touring twenty homes and deliberating over the tiniest details have slipped away.
So what can you do to increase your odds at landing a home you can love? Here are a few tips to help as you navigate this increasingly active market:
1. Get pre-approval for a loan before you begin shopping. Browsing without the power to buy is a recipe for heartbreak now.
2. Be clear about the neighborhoods you’re interested in before you shop. Understand what the recent trends have been in terms of sales and competition for those sales if possible.
3. Be prepared to lose out on some homes. Yes, it’s likely that one or two great candidates will get away. Mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of being outbid or not getting an offer written in time.
4. Have your agent familiarize you with multiple offer situations. Ask specific questions about how it works and what to expect.
5. Get cutting edge MLS information and/or information on homes not yet on the market. Hot sheets and inside information on potential new listings can position you for first in line. Work with an agent who has access to the latest information and a solid network of connections in the community.
I’ve seen what it takes to win a great home in a booming market, and would be glad to guide you through the experience. And sellers, this is also a great time to get in touch and list your home!: Terri Aubain 832-262-0894 email@example.com
March 26th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
Stumped as to which home upgrades make sense? Interested in renovations for value, but you’re unsure what to tackle? I have a few simple guidelines I use to help clients narrow their scope and focus on the right choices.
Question #1: How long will you live in your house?
If you’re hunkering down for the next decade or two, don’t hesitate to do what you would most appreciate in your home. This is especially true of cosmetic changes, when appealing to potential buyers is a non-issue. After a decade or two, your upgrades might need upgrades, so go with projects that make the most sense for your taste and the way you prefer to live in your home.
Question #2: What have the neighbors done?
There’s wisdom in getting an idea what the surrounding homes look like. On one hand, you may get inspiration from ways in which your neighbors have transformed homes which are probably similar to yours. On the other, you’ll get an idea how much renovation you can get away with in your market. Upgrade to hard and heavy and you might not be able to get any of that money out if you’re going to sell, since the home will need to be listed far above market comparables.
Question #3: What’s a hassle in your house?
If something in your home is a hassle, it’ll probably bug prospective buyers as well. Is there limited storage space? Nowhere for guests to stay? An old-fashioned bathroom with a funky layout? There’s good reason to handle these headaches. You’ll not only enjoy the upgrade while you live in the home, but you’ll improve it for buyers when the time comes to sell.
When you get down to actual projects, there are details to consider, such as budget, timing, and design choices, but these three questions go a long way to getting your upgrade ideas organized.
I’m also available to offer my professional thoughts on possible upgrades. Get in touch if you’d like me to stop by for a walk-through of your home. I’ve seen hundreds of homes and would love to provide a helpful perspective: Terri Aubain 832-262-0894 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
Two Tools to Help You Foster Good Financial Habits for Home Ownership
I often field questions from people who are thinking about buying their first home. Many are very early in the process, some in college, some working their first jobs. Many want to know what they need to do now to one day be able to have a place of their own.
Part of being ready for home ownership means having the discipline to make personal and financial decisions which put you in a good position when the time comes. A lot of this means sound habits, such as saving cash for a down payment, reducing debt, and maintaining good credit. Many people have yet to form these habits.
There are strategies to help you stick to your habits, such as telling people about your goals, writing down your goals and posting them in prominent places around your house and car, and breaking your goals into small, reasonable “mini goals,” but sometimes what you really need is a little external accountability.
HabitForge.com and Stickk.com are two web-based tools which help you stick to changing your habits. HabitForge operates on the premise that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. To use it, you simply provide a goal or desire, and the service sends you email each day to check in and see if you’ve kept up. A simple “yes” or “no” click tracks your commitment.
Stickk.com is a little more involved and perhaps a more powerful option. Stickk was developed by Yale University economists who tested the effectiveness of Commitment Contracts through extensive field research. Years of economic and behavioral research show that people who put stakes – either their money or their reputation – on the table are far more likely to actually achieve a goal they set for themselves. Stikk.com allows you to select a goal, get the “stakes,” get a referee to judge your compliance, and add friends for social support.
If you’re trying to clean up your financial house before you make that first big investment in your future, you might consider exploring these tools to help you create the solid habits you’ll need to get the loan, make your down payment, and ultimately take care of your home. I hope you find them helpful.
If you’d like to talk about a detailed path to home ownership, I’d be glad to chat with you. Get in touch today: Terri Aubain 832-262-0894 email@example.com