Archive for July 2017

Must Have Tools Every Homeowner Should Have


Nothing beats the feeling a first-time homeowner has when they unlock the front door and step into their new home for the very first time. Thoughts of what furniture or drapes to buy or whether to keep the carpet or lay down some fresh hardwood floors are sure to swirl like a tornado. However, before tearing down any drywall, there’s a few basic tools every homeowner needs to make sure they have in their toolbox in order to be prepared for all the small projects nobody really thinks of. From fixing that squeaky door to hanging a picture frame, by picking up these basic tools, every homeowner will be ready to tackle any small project in no time.

Hammer and Nails (Screws Too!)

While most first-time homeowners have the hammer, most usually forget to pick up the variety of different sized nails they’ll need to tackle any number of small projects around the house. But with so many varieties and sizes of nails, it can get a little confusing finding out exactly what you need. For any homeowner though, there’s 4 basic varieties that should always be found in their toolbox:

  1. Common Round Head Nail: Common nails are used in basic construction projects like carpentry and framing, and come in a variety of lengths.
  2. Finishing Nails/Brads: Finishing nails are thin with a small barrel-shaped head that can be driven past the surface of the wood. This leaves an almost unnoticeable mark that can be easily patched for projects like installing base molding. Brads are a smaller version of finishing nails that are perfect for cabinetry work.
  3. Casing Nail: Casing nails are like finishing nails, but a bit larger. The increased size increases its holding power. This is great for any window molding.
  4. Roofing Nail: Roofing nails are used for general roof repair projects like attaching shingles and installing roofing felt.

Screws are important as well, especially for hanging pictures, shelving and hardware. Depending on where you are hanging items, you may need molly screws, which helps with screwing into drywall.

Luckily for first time homeowners, many home renovation stores carry variety boxes of these must-have nails and more.

Paint like a Pro

Painting projects can be burdensome without the right tools. Homeowners can save plenty of time by being prepared with everything they need in order to take on any painting project big or small. The most obvious tool is a paint brush for simple touch ups or small projects like painting a trellis or some molding. For bigger projects like repainting an entire room, keeping a roller and paint tray handy is important to get the job done quickly. Painter’s tape makes any first time DIYer look like a pro by keeping any paint job neat and tidy. Make sure you have drop cloths to protect floors and furniture and the right cleaning supplies on hand. As an example, you may need mineral spirits or turpentine to clean oil based paints.

Combining these three tools can make painting a bedroom or living room simple and easy.


It can be a hassle when a light bulb burns out, especially in a room that gets little or no sunlight. What’s worse is when there’s no replacement bulb to be found in the home, making a trip to the hardware store an unplanned addition to the day’s schedule. Making sure to keep a small stock of light bulbs can make short work of this easy project, but it’s not enough to just keep replacement bulbs for the bathroom on hand. Different lamps and sockets may require different wattage bulbs, while track lighting may need an LED replacement bulb. Picking up a few replacements of each will keep any homeowner prepared in case of a sudden burnout.

The Great Outdoors

While first time homeowners are trying to make the inside of their dream home look just right, nature starts to take its toll on the outside. Growing grass, weeds popping up, plants that need watering and more make it necessary to have the proper tools on hand to keep the home’s curb appeal. While equipment like a lawn mower and weed whacker will keep any yard looking nice and neat, other tools like a watering can or a sprayer for weed killers and fertilizers will help keep it looking lush and green.

But greenery in spring and summer aren’t a homeowner’s only concern when it comes to outdoor care and maintenance. Winter brings a blanket of snow and ice every year, especially in our area of Pennsylvania. This makes having a snow shovel and rock salt handy a must for any homeowner in order to clear a path out of the home, clear of any hazardous ice.

Here is a list of some of the other basic items you should have when moving into a new home:

  1. Ladders – At least a 6 foot ladder or longer for harder to reach places, like gutters. A small step stool should help with many small projects and is much easier to carry around.
  2. Spackle and blade – You’re bound to get dings and dents in your walls, especially after a move. Spackle will help touch up blemishes.
  3. Basic tools – Screw drivers, pliers, hammers and wrenches are a necessity to hanging up pictures and solving minor issues.
  4. Tape measure –  Tape measures are necessary for centering your wall decor and working on projects.
  5. Power tools – Tools that drill, cut and sand can always help speed up projects with less grunt work.
  6. Glues – Crazy glue, wood glue and standard glues always come in handy around the home.
  7. Tapes – Duct tape, electrical tape and painter’s tape are some examples.
  8. Lubricants – Canned lubricant like WD-40 can help with a squeaky door or stubborn window. Liquid wrench can help with rusty or over-tightened bolts should you need to take anything apart.
  9. Outdoor tools – Trowels, shovels, rakes, trimmers, loppers and other standard gardening tools will make life a lot easier when working in your garden.
  10. Outdoor power tools – Weed whackers, leaf blowers, chain saws and hedge trimmers make quick work of seasonal cleanups.
  11. Safety gear – Ear plugs, gloves and eye protection are always very important. A good hat won’t hurt for sun protection.

Home ownership requires a lot of work that many first-time buyers are unaware of, prompting a lot of back and forth trips to the hardware store to get everything they need when projects arise. It’s one of the unforeseen expenses in a home purchase that should be considered when buying a home. Any experienced homeowner can help new owners along the way by getting any number of necessary tools as a housewarming gift. Not only will it help them with any project they may come across, but it will also help them save some money along the way. For more information, contact a Class-Harlan Real Estate agent today!

Disclaimer: Class-Harlan Real Estate suggests that anyone considering home improvement or repair should do so at the level of experience and ability they are comfortable with. If one does not know how to repair something or does not have the appropriate training, either for the repair itself or the tools used to make such a repair, it is highly suggested that you seek professional help. Class-Harlan Real Estate does not encourage or condone any activity that may cause injury or damage. 


Top 10 Tricks for Writing a Stand Out Offer

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Buying a home isn’t as simple as saying “I’ll take it!” and writing a check for the down payment. A lot goes into closing the deal, including negotiations on price, inspections, dealing with the bank, and more. Most importantly though, just like a seller must make their home appealing to buyer, a buyer must make their offer appealing to the seller or it may not even be considered. Sellers are looking for specific terms and conditions that benefit them the most, along with a great offer. By following these 10 tricks, you can be on your way to putting your offer on top of the pile.

Offer Price

The offer price is a huge factor in any home buying process. Deciding whether to submit an offer above, below, or at list price can be challenging to figure out, and one wrong move can send the seller running to the next offer. It takes a lot of real estate research on the area in which the house is located along with the housing market in general to ballpark an offer that has a high chance of being accepted. Luckily with a Class-Harlan Real Estate ally in your corner specializing in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, submitting a great offer becomes a lot easier. Using their know how and years of experience, submitting an offer that is fair and well-researched makes this process quick and easy.

No Seller Assist

Coming up with a 10%-20% down payment on a home can be financially straining for any buyer. That’s why many buyers try to exercise a seller assist option on their offer where the seller gives the buyer a credit (eg., 3%) to go towards buyer closing costs. While this can greatly help a buyer, it can throw up a few red flags for the seller, forcing them to pass on the offer. Usually when a buyer exercises this option, they offer to put down a minimal down payment. This can lead the seller to think the buyer’s financial situation is marginal. A buyer that does not exercise seller assist on the other hand may prove to be more financially stable with a lesser chance of the deal falling through.

Strong Down Payment

There’s multiple reasons to put a large down payment on a home including the reduction of overall interest payments, lower interest rates from lenders, smaller mortgage payments, and no need for PMI. For sellers looking for the perfect offer, a large down payment in a situation with competing offers can be a deal maker. Just like where a low-down payment with seller assist can hint at a marginal financial situation, a strong down payment can hint at a stellar financial situation where banks will be more likely to approve a mortgage. This is a big safety net for sellers by going with a buyer who’s deal will most likely not fall through rather than spending time on a buyer who’s deal may fall through.

Preferred Settlement Date

Timing can make a big difference in terms of which offer a seller accepts. If a seller wants to get out of their home as soon as possible so they can quickly move into their new home, it may be beneficial to try and set an early settlement date. On the other hand, if the seller wants 30 or 60 days before settlement, the buyer may need to be patient and set a settlement date further down the road than they would like. At the end of the day though, it all depends on if an agreeable date can be set for both parties. By working with your Class-Harlan Real Estate Agent, you can gain a better understanding of a preferred settlement date to set on that makes both parties happy.

Send a Letter with your Offer

There’s a reason a buyer is submitting an offer on a home. It could be the curb appeal, the school district, stellar upgrades, or any other number reasons that compelled them to submit an offer on one house in particular out of the countless homes on the market. That’s why instead of just telling their friends and family about why this is their dream home, they should tell the seller. An emotional appeal may not be as convincing as a stronger down payment or a high offer. However, an emotional appeal as to why a buyer is submitting their offer can sway the seller’s mind.

Inclusions and Exclusions

Inclusions and exclusions detail what will be included and excluded with the sale of the home. Simply put, this list will give insight as to what will and won’t come with the home such as a washing machine, chandeliers, or a refrigerator. Usually this list is hammered out during negotiations, but a buyer can save themselves and the seller a lot of time by being up front with what they want included with the sale. This is a great way for the buyer to convey their wishes to the seller up front in order to hammer out any issues immediately rather than during negotiations where the deal can fall apart due to a failure to compromise.

Waiving Inspections

Buyers have a great deal of protections when buying a home, and one of those protections is the inspection contingency. During this period, a buyer can have the home inspected to get a detailed report of anything that may need repairs. Based on this information a buyer can request that the seller make any repairs before agreeing to buy the home, and can even back out of a deal altogether. So why would anyone waive their right to an inspection?

First off, a buyer can back out of a deal for several reasons based on the inspection report without losing their earnest money deposit. A crack in the sidewalk can make a passive buyer back out of the deal, forcing the seller to relist their home. Secondly, it can be off-putting for a buyer to require the seller to repair everything on the list. From painting to repairing a wobbly doorknob, a seller can dissolve the deal if too many unreasonable requests are made.

Shorten Inspection Contingencies

If a buyer decides to go through with an inspection, they will have a certain time frame to get it done as well as any additional inspections that may be recommended by an inspector. If a lot of inspections need to be done, it’s good to have a long inspection contingency. However, in the current competitive real estate market, a long inspection contingency can push a buyer’s offer to the back of the line. Shortening the contingency period and scheduling inspections quickly during this period is key. It moves the process along faster, and decreases the chance of a third-party offer being accepted.

Cash Down

Putting a down payment in the area of 20% is huge in terms of submitting a stellar offer. What’s even better is putting that 20% down in cash! By doing so, a buyer will reduce his mortgage payments than if they put down a smaller down payment, lower his interest rate, and avoid needing PMI. Not only that, but it instills confidence in the seller that the buyer has the credit and finances to buy the home without issue from the bank.

However, cash down payments need to “season” in a bank account for anywhere between 30 to 60 days so a lender can ensure the validity of the money. For instance, if $20,000 showed up in a buyer’s bank account overnight, it may mean they took out a personal loan to cover the down payment. If this is the case, a lender will be less likely to give out a home loan because the potential buyer is already on the hook for a large loan, making the issuance of a larger second loan a very risky move.

Conventional Loan over VA or FHA Loans

Finally, the type of mortgage a buyer gets can dissolve a deal instantly. Conventional loans give a good amount of protections to the sellers in the form of minimum down payments to attract buyers who may be more financially ready to make an offer, while also using the borrower’s credit and debt-to-income ratios to determine eligibility for a loan. Of course, by having these protections in place, the seller’s mind is more at ease accepting an offer with a conventional loan.

On the other hand, FHA loans benefit the buyer by insuring loans to those with lower credit scores and who are only able to put down a minimal down payment of 3.5%. Similarly, VA loans offer the same benefits to those with lower credit scores and cash-on-hand, but require no down payment on the home at closing at all. Though FHA and VA loans can help certain individuals buy a home who may not have been able to with a conventional loan, it can be risky for a seller to accept an offer with an FHA or VA loan. Because most of the protections go to the buyer with these loans, the chances of a seller rejecting an offer for another with a conventional loan are higher.

These ten tips can help any buyer make an offer, and their dream home, become reality. Your Class-Harlan Real Estate agent can help get you on the right path by walking you through the home buying process. Call your Class-Harlan agent today, and get started on putting together a winning offer.