Rent vs. own: Which is right for you?

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If you’re thinking of buying your first home, you’ve probably wrestled with the decision to rent or own your home – and for good reason.

Owning a home is a big commitment. With it comes a lot of responsibility and a long-term financial relationship.

But which is right for you? To answer that, let’s lean into the facts.

The improving housing market

Good news! Since the depths of the recession, the housing market has made a heroic comeback. That can be attributed to a number of factors, including a drop in unemployment and a stronger economy.

But as the housing market has recovered, it has experienced some growing pains. With a sharp increase in demand, housing supplies are being strained. This means, among other things, that prices are going up.

For families and individuals still recovering financially, finding affordable housing options can be difficult. This applies to home sales and rentals.

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Making the decision

With rental and sales markets heading toward record highs, the decision falls back to what is best for you. Specifically, what is financially feasible.

Let’s look at the basic numbers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median gross rent paid from 2012 to 2016 was $949 monthly. Compare that with the median selected monthly owner costs with a mortgage, which was $1,491 over the same time period.

Then there are utilities. The median monthly electricity cost for renters in 2015 was $82, with owners paying $117. For piped gas, the median amount renters pay monthly is $42, while owners pay $58.

For renters, it is wise to carry renter’s insurance. Some landlords will also charge maintenance and other fees. Utility costs will also vary depending on the quality of the structure and materials used as well as size of the rental space.

Homeowners will pay property taxes, insurance and an estimated $500 annually for routine maintenance, according to the Census Bureau.

The benefits of home-ownership

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At a glance, it may seem that renting is the lower cost option. But there are certain benefits to home-ownership that may offset the additional regular costs. According to the Tax Policy Center, the primary benefit to owning a home is imputed rental income. Simply put, making a monthly payment on a home that you own is like paying rent to yourself.

While that money is not taxed, it comes with another benefit – potential tax deductions. When you file your federal taxes, you may be able to deduct a portion of the mortgage interest you pay. Talk to a tax professional for more information on the expenses you can deduct and the limits for those deductions.

Beyond the numbers

Home-ownership provides a variety of benefits beyond the numbers. For many people, a home is the largest investment they will ever make. The upgrades, work and care put into the home that you own can add value to your investment. It also adds a sense of pride knowing that it is yours.

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“Having a place to call your own, a place to return to at the end of the day, makes life better,” said Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. President Eric Hamilton. “You can see it from the moment they make the decision – that sense of pride. It’s a life-changing event and a memory that will last a lifetime.”

Brandpoint, January 18, 2018

 

 

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How to Sell Your Home in Winter

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Thinking about home selling in the winter? Winter presents its own unique set of challenges.  However, there are steps you can take to brighten your home and make the showing pleasant and enjoyable for your buyers.

1) Clear a Pathpexels-photo-280204.jpeg

  • Continually shovel a path through the snow, especially if snowflakes are still falling.
  • Footprints on freshly fallen snow will turn to ice if the temperature is low enough, so scrape the walk.
  • Sprinkle a layer of sand over the sidewalk and steps to ensure your buyers’ stable footing.
  • Remember to open a path from the street to the sidewalk so visitors aren’t forced to crawl over snowdrifts.
  • If it’s raining, put a rubber mat by the front door or a container to hold wet umbrellas and shoes.

2) Let in the Lightpexels-photo-545034.jpeg

  • Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.
  • Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights.
  • Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
  • Turn off televisions, speakers and computers.

3) Turn on the Heat

  • Pump up that thermostat. It’s better to heat the house a degree or two warmer than usual and then set the temperature at normal. This prevents the heat from kicking on when the buyer is present, because some HVAC systems are loud.
  • You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on a cold day.
  • Light the fireplace, but open the damper, place a grate in front of it and don’t leave it unattended for very long. You don’t want your house to catch fire!

4) Create a Moodcoffee-cup-books-home.jpg

  • Make your living room appear romantic by placing two champagne glasses near a champagne bucket on the coffee table.
  • Toss afghans or throws across the arms of your sofa.
  • Turn your bathroom into a spa:
  1. Hang plush robes.
  2. Roll up wash cloths, tie with a ribbon and place in a basket on the counter.
  3. Set up a grouping of soaps, lotions and shampoo.
  • Place vases filled with winter flowers around the house.
  • Set a breakfast tray on the bed containing a coffee cup, saucer, napkin, reading material.
  • Dress your dining room table for a dinner for two.

5) Turn on the Music

  • Turn on soft music. I used to play Enya until one day I heard it piped in at a mortuary.
  • Jazz or classical is soothing.
  • Don’t turn on a commercial radio station – set your tunes to random selection so your music will be continuous, try Spotify.

6) Ease Up on the Scents

  • Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers, so don’t spray the air or plug-in air fresheners.
  • Don’t burn candles or spray perfume in the bedroom for the same reason.
  • If you’re going to bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove, put out munchies so buyers aren’t disappointed. More than one sad buyer has said, “Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!”

7) Make it Visually Pleasingcoffee-cup-mug-apple.jpg

  • Display photographs showcasing your summer flower gardens and lush green lawns.
  • Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.
  • Make Your House Sparkle:
  1. Wash windows
  2. Clean out cobwebs.
  3. If necessary, re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
  4. Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
  5. Clean out the refrigerator (you know it needs it anyway).
  6. Vacuum daily. If your carpeting is plush, vacuum in one direction.
  7. Wash or polish floors.
  8. Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
  9. Bleach dingy grout.
  10. Empty trash and recycling bins.

8) Serve Winter Foodspexels-photo-189537.jpeg

  • Don’t serve muffins or any other kind of food that can be quickly popped into the mouth because you want buyers to stay for a while and notice elements they might otherwise miss.
  • Hot soups such as tortilla, tomato, potato or squash are delicious on a cold day.
  • Chili or stew is a great alternative to soup, but leave a receptacle for disposal of the paper bowls and spoons.
  • Hot apple cider or cups of cocoa make great beverage choices.

9) Provide Specific Information

  • Attach printed cards to items and in rooms that provide further information the buyer might miss or might not know. You have so little time to make an impression.
  • If you have an antique chandelier in your dining room, put a card on it that discloses its age and other important details.
  • If you have removed the washer and dryer from the laundry room, attach a card to the wall describing the room so visitors know where they are.
  • If your basement stairs are steep, attach a card to the railing that cautions buyers to watch their step or their heads.
  • Take care when placing a card that says: “Not included in the sale.” That will make a buyer want it, but you can play that later to your advantage.

10) Use Timers and Technology to Your Advantagepexels-photo-225232.jpeg

  • Plug indoor lamps into a timer to automatically turn on at times buyers will be present.
  • Consider using motion sensors that will light up in the evening when a buyer approaches your doorstep.
  • Set your crock-pot on a timer to warm up soup at designated time.
  • If you use an answering machine, turn it off or mute messages.

To find out more, contact one of our Coldwell Banker Advantage Real Estate Professionals today!

The Balance

 

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How to Get Your Home Back in Shape After the Holidays

Putting your home in order can be a great way to transition from the holiday season to a fresh new year.

For many people, the week between Christmas and New Year’s can be chaotic, with the kids home from school, the grown-ups off work and winter weather keeping everyone indoors. New toys and books may be scattered across the living room, and gifts to return piled up under the tree. By Jan. 2, we’re often ready to be done with the whole holiday season. 

In case that describes you, here are some tips for getting your home back in order for the start of the new year. With a little extra effort, you can get your home in better shape than before the season began.

 

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, For Sale By Owner, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment

Selling Your Home During the Holidays!

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Buyers looking for homes during the cooler, less popular months of the year tend to be more serious about finding a home, which is good news for sellers. Unfortunately, many major holidays occur during this time of year, which is a downside for sellers who enjoy entertaining. Thankfully, it’s possible to keep your home on the market and enjoy the holiday season.

Here are a few tips for successfully selling your home during the holidays:

Don’t Overdo It

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If you’re a person who enjoys filling their home with holiday decorations, you’re going to have to tone it down. That doesn’t mean you can’t decorate at all, but keep in mind that buyers might have a hard time imagining themselves in your living space if it’s jam packed with mementos and holiday cheer. A few tasteful decorations around your home can still leave you with that bubbly feeling and won’t make your buyers uncomfortable.

No matter what time of the year you put your home on the market, strong smells and personal items are a no-no, so quickly remove family photos and try to refrain from lighting a holiday spice scented candle in every room before showings and open houses.

It’s also worth noting that not every buyer is going to celebrate the same holidays as you do. While you might not see the point in changing the way you enjoy the season for someone else, you have to remember that your main goal is to get your home sold. Don’t do anything to jeopardize that.

Forgo Hosting Duties

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You never know if the right buyer is going to only be available to look at your home during the time that you’ve planned a holiday party. You can take the risk of letting your real estate agent know the property is unavailable to show, but at the end of the day you’ll have to decide if you’d rather have the memory of a party or have your home under contract. Tag team with a friend or family member, and agree to help them host this year’s party at their home.

Stay Flexible

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Winter, in particular, is a season for staying indoors, and after a long day, the last thing you probably want to do is get bundled up to go wait in the cold while someone comes to look at your home. It’s important to remember that buyers looking at homes during the colder months are probably only looking at homes that they’re seriously considering buying. (They have to get bundled up, too.) Be open to open houses and showings, even if you’d rather stay home.

Don’t Neglect Your Exterior

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The ice and snow of winter can create potentially dangerous situations if walkways and sidewalks are not maintained. You should make an effort to keep them clean regardless of whether a showing or an open house is scheduled, but you especially need to do it if one is. Nothing will turn a buyer off of your home more than an ice skating rink for a walkway and a broken ankle as a souvenir of the visit.

If you keep your home clean and safe, stay flexible, and don’t go nuts with decorations, selling your home during the holidays is no different than selling your home during any other time of the year. As long as it’s in good condition and priced correctly, you should have no trouble selling in the current market. Contact Coldwell Banker Advantage today for more details.

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Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment

Tricks, Treats & Spook Free Tips

o-HALLOWEEN-facebookHalloween is full of tricks, treats, ghoulish games, frightening frocks, cute costumes, glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, pumpkin packed parties, and of course spookiness! Unfortunately, all of the frightening fun has dangers lurking behind them. Whether you are a parent of two-legged loved ones or four-legged furry loved ones, it is critical to be aware of the true spookiness that is hiding behind all the ghostly fun. So I called upon two experts that have simple tips for a safe, scare-free Halloween to keep your children and pets safe.

First up are the experts in keeping your little pumpkins safe. They may have “boo” in their name, but there is nothing scary about Boo Boo Busters. As a leading professional childproofing service they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe. Following, are Halloween safety tips for your pets from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist. He has been taking care of all kinds of pets for over 20 years and his tips are sure to keep you furry friends from howling at the moon.

Kid Halloween Safety Tips

1) Choking Hazards

As a good rule of thumb, a choking hazard could be considered as anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. So, taking that into consideration, look closely at all the items that you are putting out to display. From bats and ghosts to pumpkins you roast. Hazards lurk everywhere!

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2) Flashlights

Child safe flashlights should have a child safe battery door on them that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, thus preventing a choking hazard. Use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin too, flames and kids don’t mix.

3) Halloween Lights

Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper resistant bulbs that can’t be removed easily and remember cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short and tight. Consider taking the excess that you might leave hanging and bind it up with a zip tie.

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4) Pumpkin Carving

Remember to only use child safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives you must know that they will want to do the same. As soon as you turn around to grab something you forgot… little hands wander.

5) Costumes

As a kid it’s mandatory to dress up. Our job is to make sure dress up is safe. Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a trip hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it’s loose, baggy or long it could create a trip hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.

6) Glow at Night

Make sure your child’s costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good addition as well.

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7) Halloween Treats

Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy that you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Unfortunately, ghouls are sometimes disguised as regular people.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips

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1) Pet Costumes

Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume! Keep in mind, your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit. Feel free to get that amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any “wardrobe malfunctions!”

2) NO chocolate

Most people know chocolate is toxic to their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance, petMD.com) that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, always best to contact your veterinarian to see if treatment is indicated.

3) Sugar Free Danger

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, always best to contact your veterinarian as your pet may likely need treatment and supportive care.

4) Healthy Treat Dangers

If you’re offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.

5) Burning Jack O’ Lanterns

Flames and Fur don’t mix. Just as you do for kids safety, consider replacing that Jack-O-Lantern candle with a flickering LED light.

6) Trick-or-Treating

2d274906947226-dog9-streams_desktop_large_1b898899a2e6ca5a6befdad725f48c49.today-inline-largeDuring trick-or-treating it is best to keep your pet inside, safe from all of the scary costumes, noises and lights that might frighten your pooch or feline. You might even want to consider locking your sweet little pal in a room so they don’t get spooked and run out the door when your trick or treaters arrive.

Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Fall Home Improvement, Home for the Holidays, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

valentines-day-home-improvement-projects

Fall is a good time to take care of big home repair projects before shorter days (and in many areas, ice and snow) make outdoor work too difficult. And if you do live in an area with cold winters, take some time this fall to boost energy efficiency throughout your home and prevent damage from winter storms with proper tree care. (We spoke with an expert to find out what you need to do.) Tick these items off your list this season, and you can rest easy knowing that your home and yard are buttoned up and ready for winter.

Tasks to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

Stock up on winter supplies.
If you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, fall is the time to prepare.

  • Check the condition of snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed.

  • Pick up a bag of pet- and plant-safe ice melt, if needed.

  • Restock emergency kits for car and home.

  • If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.

Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses. Protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing. Drain hoses and store them indoors. Drain and winterize irrigation system, if using.

Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety. When the landscape is covered in ice and snow, just walking from the driveway to the front door can be a challenge.

Make navigating around your home safer by checking that all stairs are in good shape and have sturdy railings, and that the driveway is in good repair to make for easier shoveling.

Test outdoor lights and replace bulbs as needed. As the days get shorter we rely more on exterior lighting, both for safety and ambiance. Test lights on the front and back porch, on the garage and in the landscape, and replace bulbs as needed.

Check safety devices.

  • Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed.

  • Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.

  • If you haven’t checked your home for radon, fall is a good time to do so — as the weather gets cooler and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home.

  • Radon at high enough levels is extremely harmful, so if you find that your home has radon (a radon level of 4 or above is considered unacceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency), hire a contractor qualified to fix radon issues.

Vacuum radiators, baseboard heaters and grates. Get ready for heating season by clearing away dust and grime from radiators, baseboard heaters and heating grates. If your radiators have removable covers, take them off and vacuum beneath the cover before replacing.

Remove window A/C units.
If you use window air conditioning units in the summer, remove them before the weather turns cold. If you must leave in window A/C units, cover the exterior of the unit with an insulating wrap to keep cold air out.

Tackle These To-Dos Over a Weekend

Rake leaves.
Leaves look beautiful blanketing the ground, but leaving too many leaves on a lawn over winter in a snowy area can inhibit spring growth. To make the job easier, choose a lightweight rake, wear gloves to protect your hands and use handheld “leaf scoops” to bag leaves quickly.

Seal gaps where critters could enter. Mice need only a tiny gap to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry. And with colder weather coming, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the wildlife outdoor.

Clean dryer vents. Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and even cause a fire — cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, so now is a key time to get that lint out. You can hire a duct cleaning specialist to clean the vents for you, or clean the vent yourself. If you decide to do it yourself.

Make exterior repairs. Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits.

Clean gutters and downspouts. Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts (hire a helper if you are not comfortable on a ladder). Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding.

Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance. Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney!

(houzz.com)

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Fall Home Improvement, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t For Sale By Owner!

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In today’s market, with homes selling quickly and prices rising, some homeowners might consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five of those reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible

  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer

  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)

  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always, find some problems with the house

  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 89% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 20% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Results Come from the Internet

buyers-using-an-agent-KCM

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 44% on the internet

  • 33% from a Real Estate Agent

  • 9% from a yard sign

  • 1% from newspaper

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

homeowner-frustrated

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $210,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $249,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $39,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a Coldwell Banker Advantage real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, For Sale By Owner, Home Buyer, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment