Instacart for the Win!

Have you tried instacart? if not, you should. It’s literally amazing. It’s like an Uber for groceries.

How it works

1. I’m at work, decide I need groceries, I go to my instacart app and place an order from a variety of stores (even Stew Leonard’s WINE, people!) stores will differ depending on availability.

2. I Choose my delivery time which can be in as little as two HOURS or can be set up days in advance

3. I wait for updates from my personal shopper who is shopping for me, while I’m sitting at work, or showing a house etc…literally I can be in two places at once.

4. Personal shopper sends text updates. For example, she said the size watermelon I ordered wasn’t available but asked if I wanted a different size, AS SHE WAS SHOPPING…instant updates! It’s really cool

5. Meet my personal shopper at my house with my groceries.

6. Enjoy not having to pit stop after work or with two kids in tow at grocery store

7. Do a happy dance.

It’s such a time saver and at $99/year for unlimited deliveries, I feel like for me it’s a no brainer! Try it and tell me your experience!

Say Yes to the Address!

If Buying a home is kind of like a marriage, then a home inspector is kind of like a marriage counselor. A home inspection is one of the most critical parts of a home purchase. It will happen usually within 10 days of getting an accepted offer and marks the first hurdle toward closing. A home inspection can be overwhelming, and can take hours, so eat a good breakfast and bring a pen and paper!

A good home inspector will take you through each part of the house and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly. He will make recommendations, express concerns and provide a good record of his findings in a complete write up with photos. He, along with your realtor, will help you understand the typical lifespan of components and understand what if any major expenses might be coming down the line if you go through with the purchase. He will also give you tips on how to make the home better, after purchase, almost like an owners manual for your home. The inspector, like a marriage counselor, will help you understand if the commitment you are making is the right one for you and it’s your opportunity to express your concerns and discuss them openly with a professional.

In order to get a more complete picture of the commitment you are about to make, you may also want to
1. Hire a pest inspector (think mice, termites, bats)
2. Take a water sample (radon in water, bacteria, hardness, uranium are most commonly found)
3. Hire a septic inspector (big money if it’s a failing septic)
4. Hire a well inspector (can do a water flow test to determine if well is deep enough and producing enough output)
5. Test for radon in the air (takes two days for results)

A home inspection can average $600-800 and adding the additional inspections on top of that can get pricey, but just as in a marriage – it’s so important to know the ins and outs of your spouse –  it’s just as important to know all about the home you are about to purchase. It’s much better to know things up front and be able to potentially either negotiate for a better price, or prepare financially for big items in the future.

Free home Inspection

Before you “say yes to the address” be sure you have done your due diligence so you can mitigate the surprises that may pop up! Homeownership (and marriage lol) will inevitably be full of surprises but at least hopefully  you can mitigate the major costly ones with a thorough home inspection, and live happily ever after 🙂 Happy Hunting!

Closing Day Nightmares

No matter how many closings I’ve had, there will always be something new that comes up…this job keeps me on my toes and is all about problem solving and keeping my clients happy…Check out some crazy walk through/closing day scenarios I have experienced.

All the paperwork is done, the sellers have vacated the house, you breathe a sigh of relief, all that stands between you and the buyers getting the keys to their new home is 1. a walkthrough and…

2. sitting with attorney to sign closing paperwork….easy right….think again! 🤪

1. Walkthrough Nightmare 1 – My adorable first time home buyers with the cutest little baby you ever did see…found the house of their dreams….it was a tricky transaction from day one but the icing on the cake was on the final walkthrough we go in the house to find the sellers TOOK all mirrors from the bathroom vanity…like mirrors that were SCREWED into the walls as FiXTURES and technically sold With the house 🤦🏻‍♀️

2. Nightmare #2 – Beautiful colonial house with hardwood floors throughout, upstairs there was a cute kids room with a large area rug…we didn’t think anything of it. On the day of the walkthrough we head into the kids room where said area rug had since been removed and BAM, there was a HUGE stain on wood floors almost 80%of the floor was a big stain. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

3. Nightmare #3- On the day of the walkthrough we went to the house and the sellers had left behind a bunch of stuff – plates, furniture, garbage in garage…a house is suppose to be left empty and broom swept 🤔I guess people have different definitions of that.

4. And finally, nightmare #4 happened at the actual closing table- we were waiting for seller to sign something he forgot to sign. The problem was that the seller was traveling abroad without access to phone/email…my clients HAD to close that day because they were leaving for vacation the next day, finally we get it signed…and the Attorney had to literally run to the bank to make payoff before they closed🤪😳🤷🏻‍♀️ 🏃🏽‍♀️

Bottom line, nothing is ever as easy as it seems and things ALWAYS come up. It’s important to keep you cool and hire a professional who can help you navigate through the ups and downs, let ME lose sleep over these things so YOU don’t have to ❤️🏠

#LaurenAurestoRealtor

#closingnightmares

A Victorian Home Dreams are Made Of

As a realtor, I see A LOT of homes. Colonial, cape, split level, ranch, raised ranch….the list goes on and on.  Today, I showed a house that stopped me in my tracks. It was a remodeled Victorian, walking distance to a quaint town…simply put, it was gorgeous. High ceilings, large, open, bright rooms and finishes worthy of a restoration hardware catalog. Not only was the remodel done in EXACTLY my style, but also, the contractors won an award from the town for their Historical Preservation of this property. When I look at the before and afters, it is astonishing.

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Kitchen Before!

 

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Dream Kitchen After!

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Pot filler on stove, chefs kitchen complete with wine fridge.

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Cabinets that latch close with chrome hardware and marble countertops.

For me, this house is all about the details. The cabinets, doors, and light fixtures were all pieces restored from the time period the home was built. The wood floors were in perfect condition and the stairway was restored in all its former glory. door knob 1

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Antique light fixtures were restored and used in this home to add to the charm.

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Welcoming, bright foyer

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Even the faucets were thoughtfully selected to be true to time period.

This home is truly a unique gem I will be dreaming about it for a while and made venturing out into the frigid temperatures today totally worth it!!

 

Lauren Auresto, Coldwell Banker 203-470-5150

lauren.auresto@cbmoves.com

A Smarter Home?

My husband will not be satisfied until our WHOLE house can be controlled by voice commands. His latest smart home addition is the Eccobee Smart Thermostat.

I have to admit, I am kind of intrigued by it too.

  • It is easy to install (according to my husband who did it within a few hours for three thermostats without too much complaining lol)
  • You can use Amazon Alexa to control our version of it. (the EccoBee 4 actually includes an Alexa in the unit so you can literally just talk to your thermostat and adjust temperature, ask for news, weather etc)
  • You can control it from your phone, and apple watch from anywhere. ( imagine being cold in bed, without getting up simply say, “Siri, set my bedroom thermostat to 70 Degrees” and viola! Toasty warm)

It has a sleek look and a touch screen that is very easy to navigate and control, and just looks much more modern than the old style thermostats. Additionally, you can include room sensors which will monitor different parts of the room and adjust the temperature if there are hot or cold spots.

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They claim you can save 23% on your heating costs from the units because its a smart unit that adjusts with the outdoor temperature changes too. They provide energy reports to give you give you insights on how much you’ve saved based on run times.

 

An eccobee is an inexpensive way to add a cool factor to your home. When thinking of upgrades that can add value to a potential buyer anything Smart Home or Energy Efficient is usually high on the list of what is desired, especially to a millennial buyer.

Because seriously, who wants to have to touch their thermostat anymore when you can just TELL it to do something #firstworldproblems. Now if Alexa would just learn to take down my Christmas tree on command we would be in good shape!

For other information see this website –

https://www.ecobee.com/

and some reviews…

http://bestreviews.com/best-ecobee-thermostats

ecco main screen

 

 

 

House Hunters, Newtown – Stay Calm and House Hunt on!

The way house hunting looks on TV is certainty not how house hunting looks in reality.

TV House Hunting:

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Go out see three houses choose one, buy it, live happily ever after?!

 

The Reality?

 

I have clients who look for YEARS at TONS of houses before finding the one.

I can count on ONE hand how many people bought one of the first three houses they saw. And that’s OK!!! Finding your dream home takes patience and perseverance. If you are like me and really ENJOY looking at houses, this is great news! But on the flip side if this is a chore for you and not enjoyable, this can seem overwhelming. That’s where your local real estate professional, yours truly ;), can help you out. I take pride in getting to know my clients wish list, and can recommend homes based on the list to help weed out homes that would not hit the mark for you and save you some time and aggravation. After all, it’s my job to know the current market!

Different times of the year present different house hunting challenges and opportunities. Looking for a house in the Fall? You may face low inventory and lack of choices …on the flip side you may get a motivated seller and get a steal. Looking for a house in the Spring, there is more to choose from BUT you may face competition and multiple offer situations and elevated prices as a result (ugg big bummer for buyer, but great opportunity for seller!)

Bottom line, get out and see houses…lots of them. (in person, WITH ME <wink wink> because photos can be deceiving) My husband and I looked on and off for two years until we found our house, but when we saw it, we knew it was the one, and that’s how you SHOULD feel. By seeing what is out there you can fine-tune your MUST HAVE vs. LIKE TO HAVE list and be confident in the house you ultimately select.

A final thought…

I took clients out to see three houses the other day, all very different and all had pros and cons. If they were on House Hunters Newtown, which do you think they would have chosen? Decisions, decisions!

House Hunters, Newtown – Stay Calm and House Hunt on!

The way house hunting looks on TV is certainty not how house hunting looks in reality.

TV House Hunting:

IMG_8143.jpg

Go out see three houses choose one, buy it, live happily ever after?!

 

The Reality?

 

I have clients who look for YEARS at TONS of houses before finding the one.

I can count on ONE hand how many people bought one of the first three houses they saw. And that’s OK!!! Finding your dream home takes patience and perseverance. If you are like me and really ENJOY looking at houses, this is great news! But on the flip side if this is a chore for you and not enjoyable, this can seem overwhelming. That’s where your local real estate professional, yours truly ;), can help you out. I take pride in getting to know my clients wish list, and can recommend homes based on the list to help weed out homes that would not hit the mark for you and save you some time and aggravation. After all, it’s my job to know the current market!

Different times of the year present different house hunting challenges and opportunities. Looking for a house in the Fall? You may face low inventory and lack of choices …on the flip side you may get a motivated seller and get a steal. Looking for a house in the Spring, there is more to choose from BUT you may face competition and multiple offer situations and elevated prices as a result (ugg big bummer for buyer, but great opportunity for seller!)

Bottom line, get out and see houses…lots of them. (in person, WITH ME <wink wink> because photos can be deceiving) My husband and I looked on and off for two years until we found our house, but when we saw it, we knew it was the one, and that’s how you SHOULD feel. By seeing what is out there you can fine-tune your MUST HAVE vs. LIKE TO HAVE list and be confident in the house you ultimately select.

A final thought…

I took clients out to see three houses the other day, all very different and all had pros and cons. If they were on House Hunters Newtown, which do you think they would have chosen? Decisions, decisions!

Flipping Newtown Update 3/8/2017

I ran by the job site this afternoon and a lot was going on! Electrical has been completely updated, a new furnace installed, new water pump even the back of the house was rebuilt! The biggest change today was the ceiling in the kitchen area. Patrick Walker from the Homewiz, who is heading up this remodel, has made this small, dark house, so much brighter and inviting by raising the ceilings in both the family room AND the eat in kitchen. The house is going to have a wow factor, because from the outside you would never imagine these soaring ceilings would be inside. Patrick really is a homeWIZ!! Just check out these “before” and “in process” photos!

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“Before” Kitchen View 

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“Before” Eat in Kitchen Area

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“Before” Kitchen

Before, the kitchen was dark, had low ceilings vinyl tile. Now the ceiling is open and will have a gray wash shiplap and recessed lighting. The floor is going to be a beautiful dark stone that resembles wood (really, really cool!) and the kitchen will be crisp white! Patrick is making a CUSTOM barn door for the bathroom, which I will try to get a sneak peek at as soon as I can. This home is going to be GORG!!! Know anyone who may be interested?! Let me know, it should be on the market by the end of the month!!!

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“In Process” Look at those SOARING Ceilings!! You can see the front door here and part of the old kitchen.

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Patrick took out this awkward wall in the kitchen and made the room look completely different! You can see here the additional room that could be a LARGE walk in pantry or small office that could fit a writing desk. 

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This is a view from the front door into the kitchen and in the background you see the door to the backyard. The bathroom has been completely relocated to the area to the right…and that is where the CUSTOM Barn Door will be!! EEEKKKKK 

Home Staging Tips

Buyers are out in force right now. This is something that is happening all over the county. Here in Connecticut we are seeing a rise in buyer activity that hasn’t been seen in recent years. As we get into the Spring Market, which is when most people decide to list their home, it is really important to make sure your house stands out to these buyers among all the other homes. The best way to accomplish this is by making sure your house is market ready. While your house can be listed in just a few days once you sign with a Realtor, I always recommend that my clients contact me 2 months prior to wanting to list so that they can take full advantage of the time and services I provide to get the home market ready. 90% of buyers find their house online these days – make sure your house looks its best in pictures!

I did a seminar with one of our team stagers at Brookfield Library about staging a home for sale. These tips were so well received by the audience, so I thought I would share them with you. The goal is to get your house market ready for free/cheap.

Tip #1 Kitchen Decluttering. Lets be honest, when did you last use the huge stand mixer or the indoor grill that is taking up real estate in your cabinets? Pack these big kitchen appliances away and free up some space in the cabinets. When you have a showing or an open house you can quickly remove the appliances/sponges/soap you DO use from your counters and put them in the cabinets, leaving your counters clear and open.

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“Before” and “After” of a Decluttered Kitchen. (Also important to note – PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS are a MUST!)

Tip #2 Exterior. A buyers first impression of your home will stick with them. I can not tell you how many times people get turned off because the siding is dirty or the landscaping is dreadful. Spend the money, power wash your house, repair any obviously damaged trim and put out some nice potted plants. 

before-after-vinyl

Don’t leave buyers wondering, “what else has not been maintained”? 

Tip #3 Keep Buyers Focused on the Bones of Your Home. Buyers are nosy and get distracted easily. Too many personal photos, too many books, too much furniture – all take away from what the buyer will actually be BUYING! Do you have beautiful hardwood? Pull up your area rugs to show them off. If you have an office, make sure the shelves are sparse and organized, especially if they are built ins!  

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I have seen buyers read the titles of books on bookshelves! Keep them focused, remove the clutter!

Tip #4 Paint Colors. Paint is a relatively inexpensive way to transform and space and make it more current. Today’s buyer will be looking for a fresh, clean pallet. If your hallway is a deep red, paint it! I have a few go-to colors that I always recommend, but I also have a fantastic stager on my team who will offer a free color consultation!

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Benjamin Moore – “Moonshine” is a timeless, crisp, clean color that can work in ANY room! (more of a blue/gray undertone)

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For a more “Greige” color, Sherwin Williams “Agreeable Gray” is another of my favorites!

The goal is not to take away ALL the decor to make your house feel cold, but to take away enough to allow the buyer to see the beauty of your HOME, not your STUFF. Our team stager can take any space and transform it with your current furniture and decor.

Adventures in Real Estate with Lauren Auresto, Coldwell Banker- Mortgage Tips (Video)

Applying for a mortgage can seem a little overwhelming, so I sat down with Steve Greenberg, VP of Mortgage Banking at Newtown Savings Bank to get his take on what NOT to do when applying for a mortgage.

A few things to learn from this short video…

  1. Do not apply for any new credit cards, or make big purchases when trying to buy a home.
  2. You can get a pre approval very quickly and easily. This is a good first step when looking to buy a home so you know your realistic budget. Once you have your credit score run by a BANK, you can then go shop the rates at other banks, but DO NOT have them run your credit again.
  3. I need to work on my camera skills or perhaps invest in a selfie stick!
  4. Do not creep around in the hallway at Newtown Savings Bank like I did, it looks super sketchy.
  5. When holding the camera and greeting someone do not kiss them on the cheek…as you will see, it looks funny! LOL

A mortgage lender makes up 1/3 of your Real Estate team. (a Realtor and an attorney being the other 2/3rds) It is so important that these three people are in constant communication from day one. If you already have a Realtor, ask them for some recommendations on lenders and attorneys. A Realtor will have experience to know who is the best to work with and who gets things done without a hitch!

 

So, in summary….wait to buy that car until AFTER closing 🙂

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Thanks for reading and sharing, in case you wanted Steve’s contact information, it is below!

Steve Greenberg
VP-Mortgage Banker
Newtown Savings Bank
30 Main Street-Danbury CT 06810
(203)733-0456
Sgreenberg@nsbonline.com
NMLS#371117