Entries in Homes (45)


Is Your Home a Target for Burglars?

Is your flat-screen TV visible through a window from the street? Do you have an expensive car parked in your driveway? To a burglar, those are signs that your home might offer a lucrative haul.

Keep a low profile. 
Is your flat-screen TV visible through a window from the street? Do you have an expensive car parked in your driveway? To a burglar, those are signs that your home might offer a lucrative haul. Keep expensive items concealed, and don’t advertise large purchases by leaving boxes at the curb.

Maintain visibility. 
Tall shrubs and privacy fences provide burglars with cover so your neighbors won’t see them breaking in. Keep windows and doors visible to deter burglars. Install motion-activated floodlights around your home to draw attention if someone approaches after dark.

Lock upstairs windows, and don’t keep ladders outside. 
People often forget to lock upstairs windows—and burglars know it. Make sure all your windows are locked when you’re not home, and keep your ladders in a locked garage or shed so a burglar can’t use them to access upstairs windows.

Make it look like you’re home. 
Unoccupied houses are prime targets. Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to create the appearance of activity. Hire landscapers if you’ll be out of town for an extended period so your home looks well cared for. If a burglar thinks someone is home, they’re more likely to skip your house.

Secure doors and windows. 
Burglars look for weak doors with old hardware that are easy to kick in. If your doors aren’t secure, replace the knobs, locks and hardware. Use long screws that help resist kick-ins, and consider adding dead bolt. If you have a doggie door, secure it with a lock or just seal it up.

- See more at: http://www.ahs.com/home-care-advice/pages/feature.jsp?featureId=m1880104&utm_campaign=newsletter_b2b_feb2014_cb&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ahsemail&utm_content=burglars_mostpop&full=true#sthash.bDTZxOYa.6xY6tBNG.dpuf


Selling your Home

As you prepare to sell your home, we appreciate the opportunity to assist you in one of life’s most important events. Most real estate companies offer one level of service. We believe you should expect more. Our exclusive full service marketing system represents our ongoing reliability and service, and our commitment is to meet and exceed your expectations. Below are some of the key components of the home selling process.

You’re ready to sell your home!

Your first step is to have your Coldwell Banker Preferred sales associate assist you with practical ideas on how to successfully prepare your house for sale. If you are not already working with a Coldwell Preferred sales associate, you can select one by using our Agent/Office Search.  Be assured, by choosing a Coldwell Banker Preferred Sales Associate you will find a professionally trained, experienced agent to offer you agency representation options and full service.  In addition, you can read a copy of our Home Selling Checklist for more information about preparing your home for sale.
This is also a good time to gather all your paperwork that you will need to expedite the closing once you have an acceptable offer. Your Sales Associate can provide you with a list of these items. In addition, you may wish to begin the process of selecting a local Real Estate attorney to represent you once you have an accepted offer on your home. If needed, your Sales Associate can provide you with a list of local attorneys that specialize in real estate.

What should I list my home for?

There are many factors that affect the list price of a home: location, condition, amenities, supply and demand, and local and global market conditions. Your Sales Associate will assist you by providing a thorough market analysis of your home so you will be able to come up with a realistic, competitive pricing strategy on your home.

What is the Property Condition Disclosure Form?

Most sellers of single- and multi-family residential homes are required to provide potential buyers with a completed and signed property condition disclosure form. Failure to provide this form will result in a monetary credit to the buyer at closing. Please consult with your Coldwell Banker Preferred Sales Associate for complete details.

Full Service Marketing and Personally Customized Service

At Coldwell Banker Preferred our goal is to not simply sell your house, but help you realize the best price obtainable for your property. During the market analysis presentation your Sales Associate will explain every aspect of the selling process to you. Once you list with Coldwell Banker Preferred, your Sales Associate will begin managing the sale of your home with implementation of our extensive marketing program.
The relationship between you and your Sales Associate is the key to the successful sale of your home. Your home and your needs are unique; therefore your Sales Associate won’t use a pre-designed plan to sell your property. Your Sales Associate will listen to your goals, address your concerns, and use his or her knowledge and experience to create a custom plan that will effectively result in a sale.
Your Coldwell Banker Preferred Sales Associate will also present you with our Seller Services Guarantee, which demonstrates that we are committed to performance!

A Buyer is Ready to Present an Offer!

When an offer is presented, your Sales Associate will advise and help you to obtain the best possible price and terms. Understanding the standard forms and the many transactional issues is key to negotiating the best terms to meet your individual needs. Making sure buyers are pre-qualified is of utmost importance in negotiating a successful sale. Your Sales Associate will promote your interests and assist in developing a clear and binding transaction.
Again, because the offer procedure and paperwork varies between Pennsylvania and Delaware, please consult with your Coldwell Banker Preferred Sales Associate who will review the specific procedures followed in your area.
Typically an offer is initiated by the buyer through their Sales Associate and includes the following information:

  • The amount the buyer is willing to pay
  • Mortgage amount, if any
  • Closing and occupancy dates
  • Contingencies, such as mortgage commitment, building inspections and pest inspections to include where appropriate (but not limited to): termite, pest, radon, water potability, well, lead, septic, oil tank.
  • Any personal property specifically included or excluded

If the offer is not acceptable to you, further negotiations may be necessary to reach terms agreeable to both you and the buyer. Because counter-offers are common (any change in the offer can be considered a counter-offer) it is important that you remain in close contact with your Sales Associate during the negotiation process so that proposed changes can be reviewed and responded to quickly.

You have an Acceptable Offer!

Once again, items such as the contract writing procedure, down payments required and building inspection contingency dates can vary from one state to another, please consult with your Sales Associate so that they can inform you of the immediate action steps. Timing is critical at this stage!

Between Contract and Closing

Throughout the transaction, you will need to closely monitor the progress of all contingencies to make certain that all deadlines are met. On the day of closing, the buyer will have a “final walkthrough” to make certain that the house is left in “broom clean” condition and has been thoroughly vacated.

What to expect at the Closing

The closing is a formal process where all parties sign all of the necessary paperwork needed to complete the transaction. Title to the property is transferred from you to the buyer. The buyer receives the house-keys and you receive payment for the house! From the amount credited to you, the title representative subtracts the funds to pay off the existing mortgage and other transaction costs. Deeds, loan papers, and other documents are prepared, signed and ultimately filed with local property record office.

*PLEASE NOTE: The home selling process varies by state and state region. Ask your Coldwell Banker Preferred Sales Associate about any details specific to your area when selling your home.


After the storm-Now what?

From the New York Times

The Storm Erases, the Drawing Board Replaces

Sara Barrett/The New York Times

The author’s property before Hurricane Sandy, top left, and afterward, top right. Restoration suggestions from Janice Parker, bottom left and center, and Larry Weaner, bottom right.

I recently asked two landscape designers with 60-plus years of experience between them — Larry Weaner, in Glenside, Pa., and Janice Parker, who has offices in Connecticut, Manhattan and the Hamptons — how to repair my own landscape, which was damaged by the last two hurricanes, Irene in August 2011 and Sandy in October 2012.

The property, in northern Westchester, lost roughly 25 old-growth trees, many of them Norway spruce, some taller than 70 feet and more than 60 years old. Three dogwoods, two large cedars, a row of mature rhododendrons and an established hillside of ferns were also lost.

Both designers suggested starting with an inventory. “It will help you decide what approach to take,” Mr. Weaner said. “Ask yourself, ‘Am I looking at this as a natural area, with native plants, or do I want a mixture that is designed and might have to be managed?’”

Any disturbance, whether it’s from a storm or a bulldozer, resets the ecological pattern, he explained. “A cleared landscape starts with grassland or a meadow and moves to a shrub thicket then moves from pioneer trees into mature forest,” he said. “You can determine the stage you want it to stop. If you want it to return to woods, you’re treating it differently from the way you treat a meadow.”

His preference, he said, is to let a landscape recover on its own for a while and then design around what appears. It’s particularly interesting to see what happens in places where light was once blocked by the older trees, he noted. “Seeds are going to germinate from the increased sunlight,” he said. “Some of what appears will be undesirable, and can be edited.” But be aware that whatever you do now will affect the garden for years to come: “The plants that get the head start are the ones that will dominate,” he said.

Ms. Parker, on the other hand, began her inventory with the house. “Where do you spend most of your time?” she asked. “What are your favorite views? Are you the sink-window person or a book-window person, or do you lie in bed in the morning looking out the window?”

From there, she suggested stepping back and considering the property as a whole. “Determine what you love, piece by piece,” she said. “Then prioritize the areas you want to work on.” The key, she said, is developing a master plan that reflects not just your goals for the property, but your budget.

For the overwhelmed homeowner, she suggested making the simplest adjustments. “Fix it all for as little as possible, and as quickly as possible,” she said. “Take anything out that isn’t really good and highlight the beautiful things that are left in the landscape.”

In my case, Ms. Parker suggested plantings that would emphasize the topography of the landscape in a three-phase process that began with the trees: That way, she said, you “get the erosion you might have from that tree work stabilized.”

Establishing new trees takes a long time, but both designers advocated optimism. “The land can handle it,” Ms. Parker said. “It grew those trees, it can bring them back.”

Bulldozers, Trees, but First a Landscape Designer

William Harris Einhorn is president of the New York chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and founder of Landscape Design Associates of Westchester, in Carmel, N.Y. He offered advice on choosing a landscape designer.

First of all, is it better to hire a landscape architect or a landscape designer?

It depends on the scope of the job. If there’s a lot of engineering involved and if the town has a lot of regulations, you might need a landscape architect. If it’s mostly planting and hardscape, like walkways, patios and pergolas, a qualified landscape designer could be fine.

You mean I need to know all the town regulations?

Most clients don’t do that kind of legwork. Whoever they call, either landscape architect or designer, should be up to speed on where they’re working and what they’re allowed to do.

So it’s better to go with someone local?

Yes, I would definitely recommend they hire local people.

Where’s the best place to find a landscape designer? Is there a good Web site?

The A.P.L.D. is a good source. It’s got a find-a-designer tool that allows you to search within X number of miles from your home.

Can you judge a designer by the photos on a site?

The first thing I would do when looking at those photos is ask what part the designers were involved in, because it might be that they just did a part of the planting or they only did the bulbs, and you’re seeing a swimming pool and pergola and so on. I’ve seen a lot of that online, even with designers I know. I look at their pictures and I’m, like, I know you didn’t do this part or this part or this part.

Once you start interviewing designers, what questions should you ask?

I would first ask about their educational background. Because of the fact that there are no national laws regulating or licensing landscape designers, anybody who can print a business card on a computer can call themselves a landscape designer. I would look for someone who’s attended a good landscape design program, like the one at the New York Botanical Garden. There are lots of them out there.

And after that?

You should ask who is actually going to be doing the design. Sometimes you get the principal coming to your house, and then he hands it off to an intern who actually does the design. I make sure I tell my customers that when you hire me, you get me.

Anything else?

Ask for lots of references.


Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: 5 Essential Steps

By: Joseph D'Agnese

Published: November 12, 2010

Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.


1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.

Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.

2. Install motion detector lights.

All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.

3. Store your valuables.

Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns. 

Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.

4. Secure your data.

While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.

5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.

  • Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
  • Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.

Steps to Successful Home Ownership

As you might know, I began a new career as a Realtor Associate with Coldwell Banker Elite Realtors. I want to share with you some of the steps necessary to become a homeowner. This information is excerted from the non profit group, Home Ownership Council.

Buying a home is probably the largest investment you will ever make.  Becoming an informed consumer will help you make smart decisions on your way to being a successful homeowner.


What you can afford is not always what the lender says you can afford.  There is a big difference and only you and your family can say what your budget should be and how much you are comfortable paying each month.


You really need to find the best loan for your budget and your personal finances. Call around to see whom you are comfortable working with and who can get you the best loan. Once you choose your mortgage lender get preapproved so you bring the strongest possible position to the home buying process.


Most homebuyers will work with a real estate agent to help them buy a home. A Realtor® can help you find a home based on what you can afford and what matters most to you.


When you find your dream home, your Realtor® helps you write and negotiate a purchase agreement. This is a written contract signed by the buyer and the seller stating the terms and conditions for the sale. Sellers ultimately decide whether to accept or reject a purchase agreement.


Once you have signed a purchase agreement you will want to get a professional home inspection. A certified home inspector can find current and potential problems not always visible to buyers. It is worth the expense in the long run. Your Realtor® can help you find a qualified home inspector to use.After the purchase agreement is sent to your lender, they will finish processing your loan application and have the property appraised to make sure it is worth the amount you want to pay for it.


The closing will typically take place in the seller’s real estate office. At this meeting you and the seller will sign the paperwork and transfer title of the home from the seller to you. Once closing is complete, you will receive the keys to your new home.

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