Fall Home Maintenance Tips

10 Fall Home Maintenance Tips for Bergen County NJ Homeowners
by Aurora Home Inspections

Bergen County NJ Home Maintenance Checklist Tips for Fall
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Fall has hit, time to get the house ready for cooler temps.

These home maintenance tips should help, including: 

Close up and insulate the crawlspace vents;
Insulate exposed piping as needed, including waste lines in cold or unheated areas;
Do your annual boiler or furnace and hot water tanks maintenance, including changing filters on furnaces and oiling pump motors;
Have the chimney and all the flues inspected and cleaned by a reputable and licensed chimney company;
Install storm windows and doors;
Turn off outdoor water supplies;
Remove, roll out, drain and store hoses;
Cover up the BBQ grill (unless you use it all year);
Clean gutters and downspouts;
Look at the caulking around windows and doors, re caulk where necessary;
Trim trees and shrubs away from the house AND
Cover up and store away outdoor furniture!

 

Need an Inspection? Call Aurora Home Inspections!

 

Home maintenance is always necessary, but if you feel an inspection is in order we can help! A good Home Inspection can help you maintain, buy or sell your home with confidence. As experienced professionals we have seen a lot, and we’ll provide invaluable information to help turn you into a knowledgeable home owner who can identify problems in the making and take preventive measures to avoid costly repairs. A knowledgeable home seller will understand conditions that a future buyer’s inspector may point out, placing the property in better selling condition by making repairs.

Our inspection services include:

 

4 Elements of a Customized Bathroom

bathroom customizationThe kitchen may be the heart of your home, but don’t underestimate the importance of your bathrooms. If you think about it, bathrooms are one of the most frequented spaces in the home. It’s where you go to rejuvenate and get ready for the day. It’s the place where you take the time to make yourself look and feel your best. A thoughtfully designed bathroom can start your day on a positive note and end it in a calm, relaxing and stress-free manner.

With this in mind, good design becomes essential. A well-designed bathroom has many elements that come together in a cohesive fashion. The space should not only reflect your personal aesthetic but also adapt to your needs by streamlining your day-to-day routine. Finding a balance between fashion and function might seem challenging, but when you look to customization that incorporates technology, you’ll quickly see that creating a bathroom of your dreams is easily within reach.

Modular configurations

Whether you have a standard bathroom layout or a tricky design with boxed-in constraints, modular configurations are a simple solution. When you choose configurable products from companies like Robern, you’ll be able to select from a wide array of sizes, shapes, and options to fit your construction needs. That means you can design an amazing bathroom experience in the tiny powder room outside the den as well as the large master bathroom suite. Thoughtful design and complete customization can help you maximize any potentially awkward space.

Storage and organization

Even the most exquisite bathroom can become a source of frustration if the counters are cluttered or styling tools are hard to reach. Configurable solutions — like modular vanities and multiple medicine cabinets creatively ganged — let you design a storage solution that fits your lifestyle. Robern engineers put cutting-edge technology into each product to simplify the bathroom styling process. For example, vanities feature electronic outlets for modern styling tools, strategic lighting for easy all-day use and magnetic strips for simplified storage.

Strategic lighting

Lighting is a fundamental part of bathroom design and highly influential to enhance your routine. While lighting can perfectly illuminate the bathroom, it doesn’t necessarily mean it does a good job of illuminating the face. Top lighting — common in bathroom design — casts shadows on the face, which is bad for makeup application, shaving, and other personal hygiene tasks. Consider lighted mirrors from Robern, designed to strike the face from at least two directions, providing even illumination and minimal shadows. No matter what illumination you choose, keep in mind that lighting from all sides with adjustable features will increase functionality.

Fixtures and faucets

There is a multitude of choices that allow you to create a personalized and custom bathroom experience. For the shower, consider a variety of showerheads, raindomes, wands and ceiling shower tiles that elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. Wall-hung toilets can be a subtle interior design statement that not only adds a cosmopolitan flair but also makes cleaning a breeze. For faucets, gooseneck or low-spout faucet designs are currently trending. To instantly boost the faucet luxury factor, plumbing brands such as KALLISTA offer an array of handles that can be selected with decorative elements including semi-precious stones and marble or onyx inserts.

Custom flooring

The bathroom floor is often overlooked as an opportunity to inject your own personal style with custom elements. Prefer warm and cozy? Minimalist and modern? Whatever vision you have in mind for your bathroom design, tile is always on trend due to its high performing functionality and variety of colors, patterns, and textures. ANN SACKS offers an abundance of choices, from custom colors that can be created on demand to faux finishes that look nearly identical to the real deal (think porcelain tile that looks like wood). Add heated elements during installation to further enhance your bathroom experience.

With smart bathroom design, fashion and function can blend together for the ultimate in customization. To learn more, visit www.robern.com.

– (BPT)

 

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4 Tips to Mitigate Home Improvement Costs

tips to mitigate home improvement costsConstruction material costs in 2018 are up about 10 percent compared to last year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and some raw materials, like crude petroleum, are up nearly 50 percent. Labor is also getting more expensive as construction workers are in high demand due to the skilled labor shortage.

So, as a homeowner getting ready to start a project, what can you do to mitigate these rising costs?

1. Don’t delay

Building materials are projected to get even more expensive and the project backlog for some contractors across the country is up to three or four months. Waiting to start the process of a home repair or improvement, especially a needed one like a new roof, could push off the repair for months due to the contractor’s schedule, and only cause the project to get more expensive as building material costs continue to rise.

2. Look for low-cost quality products

Home improvement isn’t the place to cut corners by buying the cheapest supplies, but in many product segments there is a low-cost leader — a product or brand comparable in quality to more expensive brands, but offered at a lower cost to provide the best value per dollar.

3. Choose a reputable contractor

Don’t cut corners when hiring a contractor. Even if it may be more expensive upfront, or result in a longer waiting period for work to start, hiring an experienced local contractor with a good reputation can save thousands of dollars in the long run.

“A good contractor should be able to show homeowners their license to practice and a certificate of insurance,” said Rick Taylor, Field Sales Training Manager for TAMKO Building Products, a leading manufacturer of asphalt roofing shingles.

A bonus, Taylor said, are certifications from the manufacturers of products the contractor installs, whether it be roofing, flooring or cabinets.

“Every company has the best way to install their products, and being educated on that preferred installation can go a long way in the product performing the way it was intended to,” Taylor said.

A reputable local contractor is more likely to do the job right the first time and be more willing to address any potential problems with the project in the future.

4. Plan, plan, plan

With any home improvement project, there are many decisions to be made, both large and small. Making as many of those decisions early in the process can reduce project delays or rework. Some of the decisions that can be made before the contractor ever starts to include establishing the scope of the project, identifying potential issues, having utilities mark lines and deciding what brands to use and product colors to install.

– (BPT)

 

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How Much Does it Cost to Fix up a House?


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Watch What You Heat: 5 Kitchen Safety Tips

kitchen safety tipsCooking equipment is the top cause of home fires, and the second leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“Considered to be one of the more preventable types of fires, kitchen fires can be avoided by following a few common-sense guidelines,” says Tarsila Wey, director of marketing at First Alert. “Home safety experts recommend having at least one fire extinguishing product conveniently located in the kitchen, as well as on every level of the home and in the garage.”

Be prepared to fight the small flames by following the below tips to stay safe in the kitchen.

1. Properly equip your home

Keep your family and house safe by ensuring that functioning smoke alarms are installed throughout your home. The NFPA recommends one alarm on every floor, including the basement, and inside every bedroom. In addition, install smoke alarms at least 10 feet from cooking appliances to minimize false alarms. All alarms should be tested monthly, and for alarms without 10-year batteries, replace the batteries every six months.

2. Keep an eye on your food

Staying in the kitchen while cooking is key to preventing oven or stovetop fires. Whether you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting, check on your food regularly. If you need a reminder that the oven or stove is on, just set a timer. Be aware that fires can happen fast, so if you must leave the kitchen — even for a short period of time — turn off the stove.

3. Clean your appliances

Keep all your appliances clean of grease and food debris that could potentially cause a fire. Clear the toaster of crumbs and wipe down the stovetop as needed. Ovens should be cleaned at least every three to six months.

4. Clear off kitchen countertops

Keep your countertops clean and clear of flammable objects. Move items such as pot holders, wooden utensils, plastic bags, food packaging and paper towels away from the stove, oven or any other kitchen device that generates heat.

5. Be prepared when disaster strikes

Over 70 percent of fire extinguisher owners say that they would not feel very comfortable actually operating one. Providing homeowners with a user-friendly, affordable solution, the First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray features a lightweight spray-can design that has no pins or levers — making it easy to use. It can put out common household fires, including cooking oil, fabric, paper, wood and electrical fires. Tundra sprays four times longer than an average fire extinguisher and fits perfectly in your kitchen cabinet. Plus, it won’t damage your stove or countertop; simply wipe the area clean with a damp cloth.

Having the necessary fire safety tools and knowledge, and talking with your family members about these safety precautions, can help prevent potentially fatal kitchen fires. To learn more tips and tricks, visit www.FirstAlert.com.

– (BPT)

 

Top 10 Kitchen Safety Tips


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5 Common Mistakes When Planning a DIY Deck

5 common mistakes when planning a diy deckAcross America, decks have become a popular place for people to entertain guests or just relax. The greatest appeal? The elevated outdoor living areas offer a convenient option for enjoying the great outdoors in a comfortable, room-like space that’s somewhat removed from the elements.

Further, studies reveal adding a deck to your home pays for itself in terms of resale value. A 2016 report by the National Association of Realtors estimates new wooden decks recover 106 percent of their cost, with the average deck costing $9,450 and generating $10,000 in value. In fact, a deck was ranked third among home improvement projects recouping the most resale value.

“Backyard decks have replaced patios and front porches as the social centers of suburbia in the summer,” writes Steve Cook on Homes.com. “Decks are elevated to catch summer breezes and to facilitate conversations with neighbors. Large enough for a table and grill, most decks are more versatile than front porches and provide privacy from street traffic.”

While building a deck isn’t difficult, it’s helpful to understand some of the potential pitfalls before getting started. Here are some common mistakes made by inexperienced homeowners.

1. Choosing the wrong side of your house

While your backyard is an obvious option, it’s not always the best choice for your lifestyle. Are you most apt to enjoy a full-on sunny spot or a shady haven on a hot day? Will wind be an issue? Are you aiming for privacy, or a chance to socialize with neighbors? Which positioning provides the best views?

2. Not researching your optimal layout

A nearly endless number of sizes and shapes are possible. Before choosing, think beyond just aesthetics and consider how you’ll actually use the space. Where will the furniture be placed? What will the foot traffic patterns be? How will users access the deck from inside and outside your home? To what extent will new doorways and stairways be necessary?

3. Not opting for real wood

While the grain of the authentic wood is hands-down more visually stunning than composite, many homeowners don’t realize wood can also be more affordable and just as easy to maintain. The NAR study also found wooden decks recoup greater resale value than composite decks. A particularly beautiful and versatile choice for decks is Western Red Cedar, a stunning species that inherently resists rot, decay, shrinkage, and insects. And if left unfinished, it weathers over time into an attractive silvery gray patina. Do-it-yourselfers report it handles like a dream because it’s naturally flat and able to absorb a wide range of finishes.

4. Not considering air quality

Composite deck materials often emit greenhouse gases during the manufacturing process, whereas woods such as Western Red Cedar leave a smaller carbon footprint than any other building material. That means you can rest easy knowing you’re choosing the greenest option available.

5. Not factoring in maintenance and upkeep

Regardless of materials, decks typically need periodic cleaning to protect them from the elements and keep them looking like new. Fortunately, a Western Red Cedar deck is relatively low maintenance. Maintain its beauty by cleaning it annually with a plain bristle brush, and should you choose to stain your deck, be sure to select a quality product.

For more information about creating your dream deck, visit RealCedar.com.

– (BPT)

 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Deck


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5 Tips Before You Renovate Your Home

5 tips before you renovate your homeHome improvement projects are popular this time of year and you’ve certainly tackled your share of DIY to-dos in the past. But not this year. This year you realize it’s time to go big, to go bold, to set aside those traditional home improvement projects for another year and do something even bigger.

Yes, this year, it’s time to renovate.

Whether your plans include renovating one room, a floor or your entire home, there’s no denying that a renovation project greatly increases the scope of the work to be done — and the expense. And because of that, it’s incredibly important to have your entire plan laid out before you begin. After all, the last thing you want to do is renovate your latest renovation.

To be sure you’re ready for the renovation project of your dreams this season, apply the tips below.

1. Finalize your goals

The largest projects are more successful when they are planned down to the finest details and that includes getting very specific about your goals. Don’t settle for a goal of simply improving your home. Decide if you’re trying to up the resale value, add more space, create a hobby area or finally build the bathroom you deserve. Any or all of these could qualify as improving your home, but when you get specific about your goal, you’ll better recognize what needs to be done to attain it.

2. Determine if you need to update/replace core systems

Your air conditioning unit, water softener, and furnace are all vital components in your home and it’s easy to take the work they do every day for granted. However, these systems eventually need replacement as well, and your home renovation could be the perfect time to tackle this task. Take your air conditioning unit, for example, and replace your old, inefficient unit with the newest two-stage Luxaire Acclimate Air Conditioner. It uses a two-stage compressor to meet your comfort needs and its SilentDrive system ensures a peaceful, enjoyable experience. In addition, you can also access its Hx Touch-screen Thermostat via your smartphone for total temperature control no matter where you are.

3. Set your budget

Many homeowners have no idea what a renovation project will cost and even if they do, unexpected expenses can appear very quickly. If you are working with a contractor, they should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimation of how much your project will cost. However, it’s still a good idea to determine what your absolute spending ceiling is for the project and not go above it. This means making sure you budget in some extra space below this mark to allot for unexpected expenses.

4. Organize your calendar

Delays during a renovation project will cost you time and money, so it pays to eliminate them when possible. Do you plan to remain in your home during the project? Are there any seasonal plans — like a family vacation — that could interfere with the progress? Understand these potential hazards early and you can plan for ways to minimize them.

5. Know what you can do and, more importantly, what you can’t

When you move from a home improvement project to a renovation, you’re also probably moving from DIY to hiring an expert. Tackle what you can yourself — including buying materials for the project, which will save you the contractor’s markup — but leave the things you don’t know how to do in the hands of the professionals. Doing so will make sure that you’re happier with the result and that you don’t have to pay someone to fix your mistakes.

 

Start your project today

No matter your motivation for starting a home renovation, it’s easy to be excited about the result. Take your time, plan your process using the tips above, and be ready for any hurdles that come your way, and that result will be all the more satisfying.

– (BPT)

 

What to Know Before Renovating Your First Home


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Quick DIY Home Improvement Projects

quick diy home improvement projectsThe words home improvement usually conjure up images of major undertakings like tiling your bathroom or kitchen or tearing down a wall, taking hours or even days to complete. The fact is there are some meaningful home improvements you can finish in under two hours.

1) Need more daylight?

Have you ever wished your home had more daylight? Maybe you want to bring light to a small place like a closet or laundry room. Or maybe you have a room with a window but still not enough light. One solution is a daylighting system from Solatube. This product can be installed in under two hours and floods the interior with natural light.

2) Concerned about security?

Installing a video doorbell takes just a few minutes and you can monitor visitors at your front door on your smartphone through an app. This is a way to add some security to your home. You can be anywhere with your phone but answer your front door and see who’s there. They have no idea where you are, home or otherwise.

3) Dealing with poor indoor air quality?

The upstairs can often be hotter than the downstairs. Air can be humid and wet. House odors from cooking, pets, etc., can hang around. A Whole House Fan is quiet (with a light white noise) and can be installed without reframing. When you open the windows with the whole house fan on, it strips out the heat from the home as well as the unwelcome smells. In summer months it keeps the house cooler and it eliminates stale air in the winter.

4) Considering a new bathroom fan?

Another product that installs quickly is an upgraded bathroom fan. It comes with a variety of options such as heaters and lights. An upgraded bathroom fan can dramatically reduce bathroom humidity and odors and run more quietly.

5) Still using outdated light bulbs?

An easy home improvement project is to swap out light bulbs for LEDs. Even CFL bulbs can’t hold a candle to LED bulbs, which, while more expensive, last up to 20 years or more.

This gives you an idea of some ways to spruce up your home in under two hours. But the changes will be long-lasting!

 

For more easy home improvement ideas, visit www.solatube.com/residential.

– (BPT)

 

TOP 5 DIY Home Hacks to Save Time & Money


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5 Tips for Financing Home Improvement Project

5 tips for financing home improvement projectWhether it’s transforming a fixer-upper into your dream home or just giving a makeover to your kitchen or bathroom, home improvement projects are on the minds of many new homeowners across the country.

While many things about renovating your home are flexible, your budget might not be. In general, not a single floorboard is laid, or a new countertop installed without money, which is why every home renovation project should begin with careful financial planning.

To help homeowners with their renovation projects, Marcus by Goldman Sachs(R) is sharing budget-friendly home renovation tips.

There are several ways to finance larger projects and it’s important to explore your options to find the one that’s right for you. Below are five important tips to keep in mind when deciding how to fund your next home project.

1. Shop around

The better you plan, the better chance you’ll save money. Before anything gets torn out or installed, you should spend time consulting with contractors and getting estimates. Look at the work they’ve done to see if they would be a good fit. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions to make sure you’re working with the right people and paying the right price.

2. Consider financing options

There are several options when financing a home improvement project and it is important to choose the right fit for you. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) require you to borrow against the value of your home, with home equity loans offering a lump sum while home equity lines of credit provide you with a credit line you can borrow against. An unsecured home improvement loan can be used based on your creditworthiness and ability to pay, not tied to a piece of collateral.

3. Create a budget

Because of the nature of remodels, things often end up costing more than you might think. No matter how big or how small the project, you need to have a solid sense of what your “all in” budget number is. This should not only account for hard and soft costs for things like labor, materials, and designers, it should also account for contingency costs. Experts typically recommend budgeting an additional 15 to 20 percent for unexpected scenarios that might arise. A thoughtful budget will help keep your priorities in front of you and prevent you from spending more than you want.

4. Remember, this is an investment!

Not all home renovations will pay off in the long term. It’s important to consider cost vs. value before you start making changes, especially for homeowners looking to sell in the near future. If you plan on putting your house on the market sooner rather than later, be sure to keep track of the top home features to get the best return on your investment.

5. Work with a designer

This might sound like a luxury or an added expense, but in many cases, a designer could actually help save money by finding deals or providing suggestions for less expensive alternatives, such as using quartz or white concrete instead of marble. Above all, their expertise can help avoid costly mistakes that can often arise when people try to cut corners on their own.

With these tips, you should be better prepared to finance your home improvement project. When you’re ready to start, you shouldn’t have to wait weeks for a home appraisal to get your renovation project underway. You could see your home improvement loan options from Marcus by Goldman Sachs in as little as five minutes and once approved, most people see the funds in their bank accounts in as little as four days. With Marcus, you could be one step closer to your dream home.

– (BPT)

 

Financing Home Improvements


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Deck Building Guide for Summer

deck building guide for summerThink about your favorite moments and memories from past summers. The time you spent with family and friends, dining, playing games or simply enjoying one another’s company. Now, ask yourself this: How many of those summer memories took place outside, on the deck?

The deck is the perfect spot for summer get-togethers and events. However, if yours is in need of a facelift or a complete re-do, now is the perfect time of year to complete a new outdoor living space customized to fit your needs. A new wood deck can add value to your home, but be sure to choose the right wood products to build it. Thus, the question becomes: What type of wood do you use? When do you use ground-contact and above-ground, pressure-treated wood?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, don’t worry. This article can help you determine what type of wood you need to use and where. Follow this guide from Viance and you’ll be on your way to building the deck of your dreams.

Ground-contact wood

As its name implies, ground-contact wood often forms the foundation of your project and may include the support posts placed in or on the ground, in concrete or in fresh water. Ground-contact should also be used whenever your wood pieces will be installed less than 6 inches off the ground, such as a ground level deck.

Ground contact wood earns this designation because it has been specifically treated to protect against fungal decay and termite attack at and below the ground’s surface. For your deck project, ground-contact, preservative-treated wood should be used for ledger boards, stair stringers and support posts. Other landscaping projects, like garden boxes, landscape walls and anything else that may be built in or on the ground, should use ground-contact, preservative- treated wood.

Above-ground wood

Above-ground wood is the other major designation, and this is the wood type you will use to build the majority of your deck. You can use above-ground treated wood for locations that are easy to maintain and repair, quick to dry and where ample air flow around the wood is possible. On most decks, this will be your deck boards, guardrails, balusters, joists and beams. Above-ground wood uses less preservative chemicals than ground-contact wood, and in newer preservative systems like Ecolife, it provides added benefits that can repel water, minimize cracking and keep boards straighter. Above-ground wood is also the ideal choice for many outdoor projects including arbors, trellises, lattice, decorative posts, trim boards and fence pickets.

If the wood will be more than 6 inches from the ground, above-ground wood is the ideal, and most economical type of treated wood to use.

Finding the right wood for your deck today

No matter the dimensions of your deck, chances are you’ll use a combination of ground-contact and above-ground, pressure-treated wood. Applying the guide above can help you determine which wood type you need for each phase of your project, but quandaries could still arise. If you ever have questions, you can find answers at treatedwood.com and learn more about EcoLife and Preserve pressure-treated wood, sold in lumberyards across the country and under the Severe Weather brand at your neighborhood Lowe’s store.

– (BPT)

 

How to Build a deck- DIY Style in 3 days Step by step Beginners guide


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3 Tips for First-time Home Buyers Navigate Seller’s Market

tips for first-time home buyersAcross the U.S., the housing market is picking up pace moving into the peak of the summer homebuying season.

In city after city, home prices are on the rise, up 2.3 percent on average between April 2017 and 2018, according to the RE/MAX April 2018 National Housing Report. And there are fewer houses on the market to choose from, with total housing inventory down by 11.3 percent.

Based on home sales in April 2018, the national supply of inventory was at 2.5 months, making it a strong seller’s market. (A 6-month supply of inventory historically indicates a market that is balanced equally between buyers and sellers.)

What’s fueling the demand? More members of the millennial generation entering the housing market, among other factors.

If you’re ready to stop renting and start enjoying the benefits of homeownership, finding the perfect house within your price range can seem daunting, especially in a seller’s market. Keep these things in mind to find and close on that special home.

1. Keep an eye on your credit score

The interest rate on your mortgage matters a great deal. Even a fraction of a percentage can add (or subtract) thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year loan. One thing that can influence your interest rate is your credit score — it’s just one way for the lender to determine how likely you are to repay the loan. Well before you begin browsing properties online, take steps to get your credit score in the strongest possible position. Review your credit report and report errors immediately. Make on-time payments and put off opening new credit accounts until after the mortgage is finalized.

2. Work with a full-time experienced real estate agent

Plenty of online services claim you can save money by completing the process without a real estate agent. But as many buyers discover, the savings don’t always come through as promised. In fact, going through this complex process without professional guidance can definitely lead to costly problems later. If you work with an agent, you’ll get to work with a pro who’s in touch with the local market and can lend a helping hand every step of the way. Their expertise can help you find that perfect house and help you craft the right strategy for your offer. Visit remax.com to find a professional agent in your area.

3. Play to your strengths

When you find the right house, you may not be the only one making an offer on the property. That can be intimidating. But keep in mind it’s not always about coming in with the highest dollar amount. Buyers have different motivations to sell. Some may be in a situation where they want to close and move out as soon as possible. They’ll be less likely to work with buyers who have their own houses to sell, making first-time buyers more attractive candidates.

Buying a house is a big step, and in the heat of a seller’s market, it takes extra patience and perseverance. Find the right real estate agent to help you through the process, and moving day may arrive sooner than you expected.

– (BPT)

 

First Time Home Buyers Guide


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