Real Estate

What happens during the final walk through?

eye-female-funny-glass-41558What is a final walk through in Real Estate and do you need one?

Typically the day of closing or the day before you and your Real Estate Agent will walk through the home one final time.  This walk through serves as a quick final inspection which gives you a chance to be sure the home is in good condition before closing.

What should you be looking for?

  1. All of the sellers personal property has been removed.  Anything left behind after closing becomes yours, whether you want it or not.
  2. Any items listed in the contract to stay, such as appliances, the shed, etc. are still on the property
  3. All repairs agreed during the inspection period have been completed and the work is satisfactory
  4. The home is in the same condition as it was when you went under contract.  There is no new damage to the property and everything works as it did when you went under contract.

What should you do if there is a problem?

  1. Talk to your Real Estate Agent.  Sometimes a simple phone call to the sellers agent will resolve the issue.
  2. The closing can be delayed to give the seller time to resolve the issue.
  3. Sometimes you can “hold back” money from the sale in an escrow account until the issue is resolved.
  4. If the issue is severe and a resolution cannot be agreed upon you may be able to cancel the sale, although you will probably lose your deposit.

Hopefully your final walk through will be problem free and you will have many years of enjoyment in your new home!

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.




5 Trends for your home exterior in 2019

I am always curious to see what home trends are on the rise.  Luckily Houzz helps me out by creating these wonderful lists of all the things you want or need to know.

This year, mixed materials, farmhouse inspiration and inviting front porches are very in.  Which of these trends do you like?


Pricing your home to sell

realtor-3261160_960_720When it’s time to sell your home you want to price it right so it will sell fast.  How do you decide what the list price will be?

Your Real Estate agent will guide and advise you on current market conditions and suggest a starting price range.  How do you decide on a list price that will get your home sold?

  1.  Compare the prices of similar homes to yours that have sold recently.  This seems easy enough, but too many home sellers price their homes by comparing homes that are currently for sale instead of what has sold recently.  The reason this is flawed logic is because if the current listings were priced right they would be under contract.  They are lingering because they are priced wrong.  If you want your house to sell, price it based on recent sales.
  2. Don’t over value your upgrades.  People have a tendency to overvalue upgrades they have made to their home.  Sure you paid a pretty penny to upgrade the kitchen and replace the flooring in the house, but the buyers are comparing your upgrades to other homes with similar features.  You rarely get a return equal to the cost of an upgrade when selling your house.
  3. Don’t base the sales price of your house on how much money to you need to net after the sale.  Sometimes sellers make the mistake of pricing their home based on the amount of money they need to purchase their next home, not the actual market value of the home itself.  Buyers are going to place an offer on your house based upon what the market value of the property, which is also how an appraiser will value the house as well.
  4. Don’t rely on the automated value found online (such as the “Zestimate”).  These pricing tools are not accurate, they even tell you that on their website.  They use a computer to calculate the price based upon all area sales, not comparable properties.
  5. If your home has been on the market for a little while and has not sold it is time to re-evaluate your pricing- the market is telling you something.  Have you had a lot of showings and no offers?  Or maybe you’ve hardly had any showings?  What is the market telling you?

Following these tips will help get your home sold!

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc


Real Estate

Saving for your first home

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Homeownership is the American Dream.  But if you’ve never owned a home before saving up for one can be a little daunting.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Set a goal and a deadline.  Studies show people perform better with a written goal and a deadline.  Be as specific as possible!
  • Pay off credit card debt, auto loans and any personal loans.  This will make it easier to be approved for a mortgage.  It will also help you get a better interest rate, saving you money over the life of the loan.
  • Create a separate savings account for your down payment.  This will keep you from spending the money and should generate excitement as your account grows.
  • Talk to a good lender.  Your lender will help you figure out what monthly payment you can afford realistically AND how much money you will need for a down payment.  For example, did you know you could get a mortgage for as little as 3.5% down payment?
  • Look for creative ways to save money faster.  Are you getting a tax refund?  Put it in your savings.  Did you get a raise?  Put the extra money in your savings.  Can you get a side job?

Owning a home is great way to build wealth over the course of your lifetime.  A new study from Urban Institute found the younger you are when you buy your first home the wealthier you will be at age 60.

Would you prefer to watch this information via YouTube? Click here

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.



Buying a home with your pet in mind

27331637_1734695936591289_3326165997058110495_nMany of my clients make decisions on where and how to live based upon their pet’s needs.

I have a client buying a new home so her dog will be happier.  Currently they live in a townhouse with a very tiny, almost non-existent yard.  Her large breed dog misses the yard and swimming pool they had before.

Another buyer refused to look at homes without a fence because her dog likes to run the fence line.

Our pets are our family and many of today’s buyers place a high priority on their pet’s happiness when buying a new home.

Important pet requirements include a large back yard, fully fenced with a good walking neighborhood.  Bonus points are awarded to homes near dog parks or pet friendly walking trails.

Flooring choices are important too.  Carpet can trap pet dander and odors.

When shopping for a home with your pet in mind we also need to condsider potential HOA restrictions on types and breeds of pets as well as number of pets allowed per household.

I should also tell you that if I were buying a new home any of my housing decisions would also be strongly influenced by my two pups as well!

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.


Real Estate

What not to do when getting a mortgage


Applying for a mortgage can be such a stressful time!

To help ease some of your stress I’ve put together a list of what not to do while waiting for loan approval.

  1. Don’t apply for a new credit card. Taking out a new credit card can negatively affect your credit rating and keep you from being able to buy your new home.
  2. Don’t buy a new car, unless you would rather have a new car instead of your new home wait until after closing to purchase that car.
  3. Don’t furnish your home before closing day! The excitement of buying an empty new home can tempt you to purchase new furniture.  It’s best to wait until after closing
  4. Don’t cosign a loan with a friend or family member. Taking responsibility for their debt will affect your credit score.
  5. Avoid changing jobs. Taking a new job with a higher pay may make it easier to pay the mortgage, but it is best to wait until after you’ve purchased the home to change jobs.
  6. Don’t close any open credit accounts. It seems like a smart idea to close credit cards with a zero balance or transfer money to a credit card with zero interest but it can negatively affect your credit rating.
  7. Don’t move money or accept monetary gifts without having a paper trail. Your lender will need documentation for any unexpected money going into your account.
  8. Don’t get behind in your payments. Make sure you continue to pay your rent, credit cards and car payments on time
  9. Don’t spend your savings. You are going to need cash for your down payment, closing costs and expenses after you move.

When in doubt check with your Realtor or Lender.

And if you’d like to see a video with some of these tips click here

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.


Design, Real Estate

6 Tips for a Successful Remodel


If you are renovating the home you just purchased or if you are considering updating your existing home, following these tips can help make sure you are pleased with the results of your renovation.

  1. Set the budget.  Be realistic about the cost of the improvements you want to make and be sure to allow a cushion to cover unforeseen expenses that always come up
  2. Don’t over improve the property.  If your renovations turn your home into the nicest home in the neighborhood with a state-of-the-art kitchen and bath you most likely will not get back the cost of the remodel when you sell the home.  Keep this in mind if you want to sell in the next few years.
  3. Be prepared for inconveniences, dust, noise and delays.  Construction projects can be loud and messy.  You won’t be able to use the area that is being remodeled for a period of time.  Which means if you are updating the kitchen be prepared to eat take out for a while.
  4. Do your research ahead of time.  Hire a quality contractor with lots of recommendations.  Check their references.  Insist on a detailed contract and timeline.
  5. Secure valuables before the job starts.  If you don’t want it broke, lost or covered in dust pack it away before construction begins.
  6. Inspect the work carefully before making the final payment.

Following these 6 tips should help ensure a successful renovation!

And if you want to see my video about these tips click here

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.


Fun, Real Estate

Keep your kitchen from becoming dated

Nothing dates a home as quickly as a kitchen.  It’s also the most expensive room in the house to update.

What can you do to keep your kitchen looking stylish longer?

  1.  Use plenty of white.  White has been a fan favorite in the kitchen for years.  A white kitchen reflects light better than other colors helping the kitchen to always look bright and even feel larger than it really is.
  2. Install Shaker style cabinetry.  Shaker cabinets have plain, simple, clean lines lending a timeless look to the kitchen.
  3. Keep the backsplash simple.  Subway tiles are a good classic choice, but anything simple without too much pattern should do the job.
  4. Use Carrera marble countertops.  This classic surface never goes out of style.
  5. Install hardwood flooring.  Over 80% of buyers list hardwood floors as very important to them when looking for their new home.


Following these tips will help you have a beautiful kitchen that will keep its resale value for years to come.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.


Real Estate

What happens during a closing in Florida?


Are you buying or selling a home in the Tampa Bay area and are curious about what happens on closing day?

Typically the actual closing itself takes place at a title agency selected by the seller. The buyer may select the title company of  his choice if he prefers and it is entered into the contract.

Occasionally you will have a remote closing where a notary will bring the paperwork to the buyer or seller.  You can also have a “mail-away” closing where the documents are sent via overnight mail to be signed with a notary if one of the parties does not live locally.

Before Closing

Three days before closing the lender and title company will tell the buyer exactly how much money they need to cover their down payment, closing costs and expenses.  The title company will require the money be wired to them in advance, often the day before or the morning of closing.  This information will only come from the title company and it is extremely important to verify by phone or in person the wiring instructions with the title agency.

Sellers will also notify the title company in advance where to send the proceeds of the sale.  It is extremely important to speak to the title company directly to avoid being the victim of wire fraud.

Day of Closing

Buyers should conduct a “final walk through” of the property they are purchasing either the morning of or the day before closing.  Be sure to verify any requested seller repairs have been completed, all of the sellers things have been removed and the home is in the same condition it was when you went under contract.

Buyers, be prepared to sign a lot of paperwork today!  If you are getting a mortgage you will usually sign those documents first.  Then the title agent will send copies of these to your lender so the lender will release the funds to the title company.  You will also sign another set of paperwork to take ownership of the home.

Once the funding from the bank has been completed and all of the paperwork signed you are handed the keys and are officially a homeowner!  Congratulations!!

Sellers may sign their paperwork the day before or later in the day after the buyers have signed all of their papers.  I have even attended closings where the buyers and sellers are in the same room and sign all of the documents together, although that is not common.

After the buyers and sellers have signed all of the documents and the lender has wired the money to the title agency the proceeds will be wired to the seller.  This is often the next business day.

As a buyer or seller there are two things you must be sure to do

  1. Bring your photo ID to your appointment.  The title agent will need to verify your identity
  2. Confirm any wiring instructions with the title agency in person or by phone before sending any funds.  Wiring information should only come from the title company

Your closing may be slightly different from the typical closing that is outlined here.  Your real estate agent and title agent should keep you informed of what the next steps are during your transaction.

This video may be more fun to watch

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc


Real Estate

How to prepare for your home inspection

49090672_2184850881575790_1489716858385858560_nOnce your home has gone under contract, the buyer will hire a licensed home inspector to view the home and inspect it for any health and safety items that need to be repaired before closing.  They will also look at the general condition of the home and provide a detailed report for the buyer.

As a seller, what can you do to prepare for the home inspection to ensure a smooth transaction?

If the home is unoccupied, be sure the utilities are on and the pilot lights are lit.

Verify the following items work properly

  • Electrical light sockets, light fixtures and ceiling fans work
  • Safety- Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors operate
  • Water- faucets and toilets run properly with no leaks
  • Entrances- Doors and windows open and close and the hardware works

Clean the stove top and oven so they will not smoke and set off the smoke detectors during the inspection.  The inspector should turn on all of the appliances included in the sale to ensure they are working properly.

Clear obstructions and debris around air conditioner, water heater and attic access so the inspector can get to all of these items.

Leave keys for any outbuildings.

Make sure the location of the septic tank and well are noted if applicable.

Gather any documentation for repairs that have been made or renovations done to the property.  The inspector may need these items and the appraiser might too.

Plan to be away from the house for at least three hours.  Take the pets with you or be sure they are crated during the inspection.

If you are concerned about what items may come up during a home inspection or would like to be fully prepared when your home is listed for sale you can hire your own inspector to conduct a pre-listing inspection.  A pre-listing inspection gives ou the opportunity to fix any items needed before going under contract.

Click here if you would prefer to view this blog in video format?

Mihara & Associates, Inc

Kelly Harden, Realtor®