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April 2019


Whether you are looking to buy or sell, I can offer the highest levels in real estate expertise and professionalism. Don’t hesitate to contact me and allow me to help guide you through that process!

Laura Bowman-Messick
Owner/Broker   |   704-200-4015

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Make Your Small Home Inviting

There’s something to be said for a compact home – it’s efficient, easier to clean, less expensive to heat and cool and requires less stuff to fill it. If you’re buying your first home, or you’re downsizing from a larger home, you may feel the squeeze of small spaces at first but follow these tips and you’ll soon appreciate that less can really be more.

Go for quality. You can buy a smaller home in a better neighborhood that’s closer to the jobs, schools, and amenities you need. That’s much better than enduring a long commute to have more space. Instead, choose fine furniture and accessories that make a statement about who you are.

Minimize clutter. Nothing makes a space feel cramped like overcrowding. Too much furniture, too much clutter, and not enough storage can reduce your comfort. If your home doesn’t flow well, it’s time to declutter.

Be clever. Decorating a small space can be a lot of fun if you think in terms of furniture doing double duty. Ottomans can triple up as a footrest, coffee table or extra seating. Nesting tables can provide extra tabletop space when needed and store compactly.

Let the light in. Bright spaces look larger than dark spaces. Light cheerful colors on walls and in your décor can expand any room. Reduce the need for bulky lamps and tables by installing sconces and recessed lighting.

The trick is having what you want but recognizing that there’s no need for extras or excess.


Moving with Teens

Teens will still love you after you tell them you’re moving to a new house. Even if it’s just to another school district, the move will upset your teen’s sense of balance. You can keep drama to a minimum by listening to their concerns, finding solutions together and inviting them to join in the process.

Let them know early. Let your family know a move is coming before you go home-shopping or put your home up for sale. Teens will be upset by moving away from friends, activities and familiar surroundings, so it’s best to give them time to get used to the idea. Wait until they’re no longer upset to share more information about the move.

Let them vent.  Teens can feel powerless, so let them voice their feelings of anger, fears and sadness. Agree that it’s going to be challenging for everyone in the household, and that you’ll do your best to help them make the transition as easily as possible. 

Let them make choices. As you shop for homes online, let them look alongside you. Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional will show you the company’s website with homes for sale, school and neighborhood information, and interesting statistics about your new area. Find amenities with Waze or Google Maps on your laptop or phone.

Let them contribute. When you’ve narrowed the selection, take your child to see the top three contenders. Being able to choose a bedroom or have a vote in which home to buy will help the adjustment.


Updating Your Home’s Wiring

Older homes tend to have inadequate wiring for today’s multiple electronic needs. An updated electrical system can protect your family and home now, reduce your property hazard insurance premiums, and provide a “surge” of interest to future homebuyers.

If your lights dim when you plug in an appliance, lights flicker for no reason, lightbulbs burn out too quickly, or if you’re loading up outlets with power strips, it’s time to call a licensed electrician. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), faulty or frayed cords can spark a fire within seconds and multiple power strips at full capacity among the top reasons for house fires.

The problem could be loose wiring, worn-out or loose connections that cause arcing and crackling sounds, or you’re using too much voltage for the wiring capacity. Start with the electrical outlets. If they’re two-pronged, you can’t plug in any devices that require grounding in the outlet, such as your computer or flat screen TV.

Updating your fuse box to a 200-amp circuit breaker will provide you with more power and fault circuit interrupters that can protect against fires and shocks (AFCI) and water damage (GFCI.) suggests that a circuit panel offers easy care, no fuse replacements and a better foundation for modern appliance use. Fire codes require that electrical panels are located outside the home, so plan on moving yours may if you upgrade your electricity.

A licensed electrician can make sure all your wiring and electrical devices are functioning properly.


What to Expect with Low Down Payment Loans

A down payment is your offer to share the risk of financing your home with the lender by putting your own money toward the purchase.

Fortunately, there are programs that allow low down - payments, but be prepared for some caveats. These loans are available only on primary residences, not investment properties or second homes, and they come with higher costs in your monthly payments.

The typical down payment to get the best interest rate and avoid mortgage insurance is 20% of the purchase price of the home. Anything less means the lender and guarantor such as FHA, VA or Fannie Mae, must ameliorate the added risk some way or another. So, what can you expect?

Expect to pay higher interest rates. Mortgage interest rates are variable, according to where you live, your credit, terms, and the amount of your down-payment. A low down-payment will result in a higher rate unless it can be offset by excellent credit or some other factor.

Expect to pay PMI. Private mortgage insurance, just like hazard insurance, will be added to your monthly payments. According to, you’ll pay approximately 0.20% to 1.50% of the balance of your loan. With the exception of FHA loans, PMI will end automatically when you build 22% in equity.

Expect to pay fees. On VA loans, there’s no PMI, but you will pay a fee of about 2.15% of the loan amount your first time, and 3.3% on the second home loan. 

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