Angela Sells DFW

Journey with me through my real estate, motherhood and Texas adventures

Archive for the tag “hornburgcooke.com”

How to Eliminate Smoke Odor

Hydrogen Peroxide

While it is getting more and more rare, we do still see homes that homeowners or tenants have smoked indoors for a period of time.  As much as some home buyers may love the home, they are concerned about whether or not to take on such a lofty project.  I can guarantee you that if they choose to do so, they will not pay full price for the home for the risk involved.

Whether you’re a home owner getting your home ready to sell or a home buyer contemplating the risk of purchasing a “smoky” home, here are some great tips for getting rid of the odor.  I have used some of these on a listing that I had once and I will tell you that my favorite are the charcoal, citrus peels and ammonia based cleaners.  Luckily in my case, there was minimal carpet in the house so that wasn’t as big of an issue.  If you have a lot of carpet in a “smoky” house then your best bet is to replace both the padding and the carpet.  Please note that you cannot just paint over nicotine stained walls.  Your paint will yellow and the contaminants still leech through.  You must clean the wall with an ammonia based cleaner and get an odor locking primer to put on prior to painting.

Of course, one of the best ways to remove odors – especially if there are associated nicotine stains – from carpets, furniture and walls is by using hydrogen peroxide. Just put some 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Spray it on and wipe it off as you would with other household cleaners. Hydrogen peroxide is generally anti-bacterial and anti-viral, so it makes sense to use it as a household cleaner. However, it does take time to work, so the short amount of contact time in cleaning counters and windows probably won’t kill all the tiny pathogens in your house. On the other hand, it’s a step in that direction, and if you want to really sanitize something, you can leave the hydrogen peroxide for a longer time.

In any case, cigarette smoke removal isn’t impossible…but it does take some effort to get rid of the smell.

  1. Launder whatever you can. If an entire room smells like last year’s bachelor party, removing cigarette smoke smell from home will require washing or dry-cleaning everything possible in order to maximize cigarette odor removal.
  2. Vacuum. Before you use any chemicals or resort to desperate measures, vacuum up as much of that cigarette odor as possible. Use vacuum attachments to suck the smoke out of furniture and upholstery in your house or car. Beat out and vacuum car foot mats.
  3. Vinegar. A bowl of white vinegar, left out overnight, can do a surprisingly good job removing foul cigarette odor.
  4. Citrus. Some swear by citrus peels when they need to get rid of foul odors. Leave a liberal amount of citrus peels in your car or home for several days (until the peels are completely desiccated). When you remove them, you will also remove cigarette smell – or at least some of it.
  5. Baking soda – one of the tried-and-true methods of odor removal. Whether cleaning your carpet, smelly used couch or dingy car seats, baking soda is your friend. Sprinkle it over the smoke-infused area and let it sit for a few hours. Then whip out your trusty vacuum cleaner to suck up the soda, finishing the job.

One word of advice: before sprinkling at will, test the baking soda out on a concealed part of the surface to make sure the surface or fabric doesn’t interact unfavorably with the baking soda

      6. Coffee. When my old high school friend and I used to fantasize about a coffee-grounds-enhanced laundry        detergent, who  would’ve guessed that there might have actually been odor-fighting merit to that seemingly absurd concept? Utilize the odor-absorbent quality of coffee grounds to get rid of your cigarette odors. Don’t sprinkle them all over the place like baking soda, though, since coffee can stain. Instead, pour coffee grounds into several individual coffee filters and tie them closed. Place the coffee bags on whatever is harboring the cigarette odar.

    7.  Air out the room or car. Requiring less effort than peeling an orange or going to the store for white vinegar, you should definitely open all your windows and doors for several hours to encourage cigarette odors to lift from their cushions, carpets and other surfaces. If a particular piece of furniture reeks of stale cigarette smoke, bring it outdoors for a few hours on a dry day.

     8.  Charcoal. There’s nothing fancy or particularly aesthetically pleasing about charcoal in a bowl, but when you scatter some bowls of charcoal around your room or car (as long as you’re not planning to drive), you’ll find that it has absorbed the cigarette odor after about a week. It’s one of the unexpectedly effective forms of cigarette odor removal.

    9.  Smoke residue on surfaces. Don’t neglect linoleum floors, glass and wood surfaces either; in a room or car that has witnessed heavy smoking, you can often see the residue! Use glass-cleaners, diluted ammonia and wood-cleaning solutions to scrub the stinky residue off of these surfaces.

    10.  Light bulbs. Light bulbs are a double-whammy when it comes to cigarette odor. First of all, they attract smoke. Secondly, each time you turn them on afterward, the heat releases odors from the smoke’s residue. Replace those light bulbs.

As a side note, at least one company (Technical Consumer Products, Inc.) has decided to capitalize on a light bulb’s heat to actually combat odor. “Fresh2 Odor Eliminating Light Bulbs” claim to neutralize odors, thanks to a coating of Titanium Dioxide activated as the light bulb heats up.

I hope this helps put your situation in perspective for you.  As a seller, you should expect to receive at least $10,000 less for your home due to a “smoky” interior than market value for your home.  The hard work really comes into play on whether or not that $10,000 is worth updating the carpet and having the home cleaned.  There are some local companies that we work with that will replace flooring on your home and get paid at closing if cash out of pocket is an issue.  Remember, a knowledgeable and experienced agent may make you uncomfortable by being honest with you on what may cause your home to sell for less than top dollar but remember, that’s why you’re hiring them.  You’re hiring an agent who knows how to get you top dollar if that’s your number one priority.

Renting Your Home

Renting Your Home

Image

In a real estate market that has an enormous cash flow opportunity for rentals, we see more and more homeowners choosing to lease their homes out as they purchase their “move up” home.  With record low interest rates over the past several years, especially on 15 year notes, this creates a wealth building opportunity for homeowners.

As this trend has gained traction, it has created an obvious vacancy for tenant procurement in our marketplace.  You can find property management companies that will put it in the MLS for you but are they willing to answer their phones or drive out to show the home?  Often times these companies are located far away from the property which means two things. First, the property manager could quite possibly have no clue about the rental market where your home is.  Second, they’re not going to be very motivated to show your home to potential tenants.  That leaves potential tenants with trying to find an agent to show rental properties.  The problem with this is that often times, it’s new agents that are willing to show rental properties due simply to the fact that based on pay per hour on rentals, the revenue to the showing agent is very low.  What this means for you is that your home could be shown to unqualified tenants because their “new-by” agent didn’t know enough to pre-qualify them before taking them out.

I would say that 90% of our lease showings on our tenant procurement homes come from Trulia.com, Realtor.com and Zillow.com.  These are consumer inquiries that come in for free of people requesting to view your home.  We pre-screen each and everyone prior to showing them your home to ensure that this home could be a great fit for them.

Once the property is shown and they’re interested, we have them complete a Texas Association of Realtors Residential Lease Application as well as submit their last 30 days of paystubs and copies of their current driver’s license.  With the information from that, we perform a background, eviction and criminal check that’s cross referenced with the National Terror List.  Once this information is back, we decide whether or not to move on with the approval process.  The next steps are that we verify their employment, last two year’s of rental or ownership history and check personal references.  Once all of this information has been gathered, we will put together a package of information to you with our recommendation of the tenant but you will have the ultimate decision on whether or not to allow them to lease your home. We are a fair housing advocate and we do not discriminate against any applicant or tenant based on race, creed, color, religion, national origin, handicap or family status.

Once they’re approved, we have them in to our office to sign the lease and put down their security deposit.  The security deposit is at least equal to one month’s rent.   This is to ensure that they act in good faith during the term of their tenancy and also that they leave the property in the same condition that it was received. If they have a pet, their non-refundable pet deposit will also be collected at this time.

The majority of families and singles have pets. We prefer to advertise that pets are negotiable, so that they will tell us about the pets when they apply instead of trying to sneak them in later. Each pet will require an additional non-refundable pet fee. These costs are negotiable by you, the homeowner. If damage exceeding the pet deposit occurs, you may withhold funds from security deposits. You are in no way required to accept pets, this is completely your decision.

On the day that they take tenancy, we meet them at the property at 9 a.m. to perform a walk through of the property where they will complete an Inventory and Condition Checklist.  This checklist will allow them to notate any current flaws, damage or issues prior to move-in.  While they complete the checklist, we accompany that list with photos of the entire property.  Both the homeowner and the tenant will be given access to these photos as well as the checklist to reference upon move out.  Normal wear and tear is expected in a property so long as it is not from neglect or damaging to the property.

Once the tenant moves in to the home, you are now their point of contact.  We do not manage homes on a monthly basis.  However, if this is something you’re interested in, we do work hand-in-hand with a local property management company that handles day to day operations of managing tenants, repairs and maintenance for you.  They generally charge 10% of each month’s rent for their service.

If you choose to manage your home yourself, we do recommend purchasing a home warranty.  A home warranty covers all of the major mechanical appliances and issues in a home for the cost of around $400/ year.  Should you need to utilize the warranty, they typically charge a $69 call fee to repair/ complete the work.   We also have a list of vendors that we refer out and we’re happy to provide you with that list or contacts as you may need them.

If you’re looking for a company with a proven track record of finding well-qualified and quality tenants, give us a call.  We’ll be happy to discuss this program in detail with you as well as let you know what your home will bring in monthly rent in today’s market.  Visit us at www.HomesbyHornburg.com for more information or call us anytime at (817) 771-0998.

Tips for Building Credit

Tips for Building Credit

Knowledge is Power. -Francis Bacon

Credit cards

I get a lot of calls from potential home buyers who would really love to purchase a home and thought that they would be good to go but unfortunately, they were misinformed about credit issues or not informed at all.  I have compiled some helpful information that will help align your credit with your home purchasing goals.

  1. Open a Checking AND Savings account- Try to make sure you get it for FREE!  Most banks are competing hard for your business so negotiate fees (if any) with them.
  1. Get at least 2-3 Major Credit Cards- I recommend the following companies based on their approval rate.  Please bear in mind that you are essentially “paying for your credit” by getting your first credit cards.  These cards will come fees and that should be expected because right now you are considered a “high risk” case. Don’t over do it though.  If you’re denied by the first 3 companies below, don’t try the 4th.  Too many “hard inquiries” on your report will drop your score lower.

http://www.OrchardBank.com

http://www.CreditOne.com

http://www.MyPremierCreditCard.com

http://www.Discover.com

  1. Use your credit cards- The key to building your credit is using it and using it correctly.  Buy something small on your credit card each month.  Pay that bill off completely each month.  This will help boost your credit worthiness.  Keep your monthly balances at $0 or as low as possible.  The amount of available credit vs. total credit you have affects your credit score.  The more available credit you have, the better off you are…yet you still need to use the credit cards to help boost your scores so don’t let them sit unused.
  1. Monitor Your Credit Report- Yes, this too will cost you a fee.  I recommend http://www.FreeCreditReport.com ($14.95/ month) because it is extremely user friendly and offers helpful tools to understanding what affects your score.  You will receive monthly credit score reports on how your score changed and what caused it.  You can also see all of your open credit accounts, past and present.  Sometimes you may find that a company may have mistakenly identified you as someone else.  The credit monitoring websites make it easy to dispute claims online.  If you have items on your credit report that are incorrect or are old, try disputing them and having them from being seen on your report.
  1. If you are Renting an apartment or home, ask your Landlord to report your good paying habits.  Websites like http://www.tenantverification.com allow Landlords to do so for free.  You can suggest this to them as a great way to attract responsible adults as tenants because renting their home helps the tenant build credit.

I recommend using your credit cards responsibly as mentioned above for 6 months.  Within 3-6 months it should help boost your score.  If you’re watching your score on a credit monitoring website, notify your real estate agent when you’re at or near 640.  This is a great number and you can often secure prime interest rates with this score!

These tips are based on personal experience and tools that have helped prior real estate clients.  They are not guaranteed and each person’s credit report varies because of everyone’s unique financial history.

 

 

Please feel free to ask if you have any questions or concerns regarding this information!

Post Navigation