Articles Tagged "REALTORS®"

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Tuscaloosa, AL | 22 Posts

Why You Should Move to Tuscaloosa in 2021

Tuscaloosa 2021

Tuscaloosa is a fast-growing city that's been drawing new residents from all over the United States. The vibrant real estate market means there are plenty of Tuscaloosa homes for sale for anyone who wants bright opportunities and a change of pace in "The City of Champions."

Our real estate agents are eager to tell you all about it.

Founded back in 1819, Tuscaloosa now has more than 90,000 residents. It serves as the hub of industry, commerce, and healthcare for West Alabama. Through the University of Alabama, it is also considered one of the region's higher education leaders and holds some of the state's top-ranked public schools.

Let's take a closer look at some of the features that make Tuscaloosa so attractive:

  1. A Robust and Diverse Economy
    As home to the University of Alabama, higher education is the bedrock of Tuscaloosa's economy – but it's extremely diverse. Manufacturing, retail, finance, IT, and construction all offer opportunities, with leading employers like Mercedes-Benz, Michelin, and Phifer Incorporated.

  2. Parks, Trails, and Outdoor Wonders
    Thanks to its position on the Black Warrior River, Tuscaloosa has always taken its green spaces seriously. You'll find more than a dozen community parks, from the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk to Capitol Park, home to the remains of the 1840s-era state capitol building.

  3. High-Energy Festivals and Events
    Tailgate parties are only the beginning of the fun in Tuscaloosa. You can also enjoy the Weindorf Festival, which honors German culture, the March Sakura Festival celebrated alongside Narashino, Japan, the Kentucky Festival of Arts, and the Moundville Native American Festival.

  4. Classic Tuscaloosa Barbecue
    Tuscaloosa has been rated as one of America's best barbecue cities, hosting a lavish assortment of restaurants, outdoor eateries, and food trucks. Family-friendly dining is a way of life here – with American comfort food, fresh seafood, Mediterranean, and German cuisine all represented.

  5. The University of Alabama
    A terrific place to start or continue a higher education, U of A is a flagship institution with much to offer. Established in 1820, it's the oldest and largest public university in the state and enrolls nearly 40,000 students. Its arboretum is open to the public, and its campus is rich with historic landmarks.

  6. The "Winningest" Sports
    U of A's football team, nicknamed "Crimson Tide," is one of the ten most successful college football teams in the United States. Head coach Nick Saban is also a well-known hometown hero and a local celebrity in his own right. Great sports venues mean you'll always have something to cheer for.

  7. Memorable Museums
    The Children's Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa inspires young minds with remarkable interactive exhibits. You'll discover the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Paul W. Bryant Museum, and the Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art, among many others.

Tuscaloosa combines all the amenities of a world city with the warmth and charm you expect from "Sweet Home Alabama." It truly has something for everyone, and an energetic community always prepared to welcome new neighbors. To find out more or get started, contact us at Hamner Real Estate.


5 Home Upgrades You Can Make Even on a Budget

Home Upgrades on Budget

If you're looking to upgrade your home, you'll want to look into projects that can be done on a budget. That way, for a minimal investment, you'll make a big impact that will improve the look or function of your home. Especially, if you are getting ready to list! 

Our real estate agents suggest the following 5 upgrades you can make even on a budget:

  1. Give your kitchen cabinets a makeover
    Your kitchen cabinets make a big impact on the room's overall appearance, and if they're too dark or scuffed, they can make your kitchen look dark and dingy. Replacing them can be expensive, but cleaning and painting your cabinets can give them a whole new appearance. This project can be completed in just a weekend. You'll need a cleaner, sandpaper, paint, a paintbrush, and some effort, but the results will be striking. And while you're at it, swap out your cabinet handles for a further style boost.

  2. Add some curb appeal
    The front of your house sets the tone for your entire home since it's the first thing you'll see as you come and go. Give your home's curb appeal a boost by painting the door, either to refresh what you already have or to add a bolder pop of color. Replacing the door's hardware, adding some containers of plants as well as hanging baskets, and creating a cozy seating area can further upgrade your curb appeal. If you'd like to take it a step further, you can also replace your porch's outdoor lighting fixtures.

  3. Use paint to renew old flooring
    Flooring can set the tone for an entire room, but if it's not in your budget to replace it, you might be able to paint it. Old vinyl or laminate flooring can be painted by applying flooring enamel and topping it with an acrylic sealer. Checkerboard or other geometric designs are popular choices for this type of project and can transform outdated flooring into a stylish asset.

  4. Add crown molding
    Crown molding creates a transition between the top of the wall and the ceiling and adds a finished, polished look to your home. You can buy crown molding at home improvement stores in lengths of up to 16 feet and easily install it yourself. This one upgrade can help take your home's interior from basic to interesting.

  5. Install a programmable thermostat
    Programmable thermostats are quite inexpensive, and they make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient. Installing one will let you program your heating or air conditioning to be turned on and off according to your set schedule so you can wake up or come home to a comfortable house. You'll also save energy since you can set the thermostat to run less when no one's home and then boost or lower the temperature shortly before you arrive back home.

Contact us at Hamner Real Estate to learn more about Tuscaloosa homes for sale and the upgrades that you can make for a minimal investment. Our experienced real estate agents would love to help!


National Cookie Month: Tuscaloosa Bakeries for Your Sweet Tooth

Tuscaloosa Bakeries

October is National Cookie Month! As if Halloween didn't make October sweet enough, National Cookie Month makes sure that our sweet tooths are taken care of for 31 days straight! If you're ready to spend every night sharing a plate of cookies with your family or friends, our REALTORS® suggest that you stop by one of these Tuscaloosa bakeries for some of the city's best cookies.

  1. Heritage House Coffee & Tea – 700 Towncenter Boulevard, Tuscaloosa, AL 35406
    As the first coffee house in Tuscaloosa, Heritage House Coffee & Tea know a thing or two about providing delicious pastries to sugar lovers. Their daily-made treats include a variety of cookies like iced shortbread cookies, white chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, and Monster cookies. We recommend adding a gourmet coffee to your order like their Midnight Magic with dark chocolate, Scottish Highlander with butterscotch, or the Ja-makin-me-crazy with coconut bits.

  2. Mary's Cakes & Pastries – 412B 22nd Ave., Northport, AL 35476
    If you're in town touring Northport homes for sale, you can fuel up for your search at Mary's Cakes & Pastries. All of their cookies are made in-house in small batches to ensure each one is perfect. While their selection can change daily, you should usually be able to grab their shortbreads and regular glazed cookies without issue. Of course, if you're gearing up for a game, there's no better way to say Roll Tide this season than to order up a Bama Dozen which are 17 cookies officially licensed by the University of Alabama.

  3. Edgar's Bakery – 1653 Mcfarland Blvd. N., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406
    There's no way you can live in Tuscaloosa and not have heard of Edgar's Bakery. Their baked goods have spread throughout the Southeast while their reputation has reached around the country to lure in sweet tooths from every corner of America. Among their popular offerings are their cookies and cookie doughs. Grab a box of cookies or bring home some dough so you can bake them yourself!

  4. Mi Casita Bakery – 513 Hargrove Rd. E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
    If you really want to celebrate National Cookie Month to its fullest potential, go big! Mi Casita Bakery is a wholesale, self-service bakery with amazing baked good for unbelievable prices. A hidden gem that will draw you in by the nose, we recommend calling in a huge order of cookies that you can share with your family all month long.

  5. The Whimsy Cookie Company – 305 21st Ave. Ste. 305C, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
    Though The Whimsy Cookie Company may not be born and bred in Tuscaloosa, we've adopted it as one of our favorite confectionaries all the same. Sugar Cookies, Whimsy Cookie Bites, Whimsy Gooey Butter Cookies, and Specialty Cookies are all available, offering visitors dozens of options to choose from. With so many delicious options to choose from, you can fill National Cookie Month with Whimsy like never before!

Are you dreaming of a new home? We can make that dream a reality. Contact us today to tour Tuscaloosa homes for sale with spacious kitchens perfect for baking cookies in.


Get Ready to Buy Your First Home with These Tips

Buy Your First Home

If you're tired of renting and ready to own your first home, it's time to start looking at Tuscaloosa homes for sale. When purchasing your first home, following a few guidelines will help you lower your costs, minimize your stress, and make the experience as pleasant as possible. Here are some tips to follow when buying your first home. 

  1. Save More Money Than You Think You'll Need
    Most would-be homeowners know that there are expenses associated with owning a home. You'll likely need a downpayment (typically between 3.5 and 20 percent of the home's purchase price, depending on your mortgage), funds for closing costs (around 2 to 5 percent of the home's purchase price), and money for moving expenses. However, many first-time homeowners find that homeownership comes with a lot of expenses that they didn't even think about when budgeting for their new space. You might know that you'll need more furniture for a larger space, but things like outdoor furniture, yard equipment, and new organizational supplies might slip your mind. 
  1. Apply for a Mortgage at More Than One Bank
    To get the best terms possible for your home loan, it's vital to shop around. Many homebuyers make the mistake of only applying at the bank where they have their checking account. Instead, try to apply with at least three or four different financial institutions. This will help you discover what loan programs are available and give you the opportunity to compare loan terms across multiple lenders. 
  1. Look for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search
    Once you start working with our real estate agents, you might find a property that you love fairly quickly. See that you're ready to put in an offer by getting preapproved for a mortgage before you start shopping for homes. When you get preapproved for a mortgage, you provide the lender with specific information that enables them to tell you how much money you're approved to borrow. The lender will also run your credit. Not only does pre-approval signal to sellers that you're a serious buyer, but it gives you a realistic idea of what mortgage amount you can procure approval for. 
  1. Consider Expenses Other Than Your Mortgage Payment
    When determining your budget for a home, you should consider all of your potential home-related expenses. Check that all your home-related costs are comfortable for your budget. In addition to your monthly mortgage payment, you'll need to factor in the following costs:
  • Real estate taxes
  • Property insurance
  • Home maintenance
  • HOA dues
  • Utilities specific to homeownership
  • Exterior and yard upkeep
  1. Keep the Big Picture in Mind
    As you look at potential homes, it's easy to focus on the specifics of the property, like the features and finishes. Instead, try to look at the property's location and lot size. While you can change the details of a home, it's a lot trickier to make your yard larger and practically impossible to change your neighborhood. Make sure these characteristics fit your lifestyle. The same guidance applies to your home loan. Check that your mortgage is affordable for your longterm life plan. You can't predict the future, but you likely have some idea as to how you want your future career and family life to go. 

Ready to realize your dreams of homeownership? Contact us today to get started!


National Book Lovers Day - Outdoor Reading Spots Near Tuscaloosa

Parks in Tuscaloosa

Not all outdoor activities involve balls, bicycles, and sneakers. Our real estate agents find reading even more enjoyable out in the fresh air and sunshine. National Book Lovers Day is Sunday, August 9th, so grab a book and head out to one of these scenic reading spots around Tuscaloosa.

  1. Faucett Brothers Park - 13040 Eugenia Faucett Dr., Northport, AL 35473
    Faucett Brothers Park is a living memorial to the legacy of five men who made major contributions to the community around Northport homes for sale. In the early 1900s, the Faucett brothers operated thriving retail operations that boosted the area's agricultural and economic development. One of their descendants donated 80 acres of wooded land to the Parks and Recreation Authority (PARA), which officially opened Faucett Brothers Park in 2005. 
  2. Tuscaloosa Riverwalk - 2710 Jack Warner Pkwy., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
    Located alongside the southern bank of the Black Warrior River, pet-friendly Tuscaloosa Riverwalk is a scenic oasis in the city's downtown area. The 4.5-mile paved trail is lined with some benches, picnic tables, and gazebos where you can settle in with a good book. If you want a bite to eat, the Riverwalk provides easy access to restaurants and shops. The park is open 24/7, with plenty of street lamps keeping the trail well-lit.
  3. Hurricane Creek Park - 7005 Old Birmingham Hwy., Tuscaloosa, AL 35404
    Readers of the Tuscaloosa News once named Hurricane Creek Park as one of the "Seven Wonders of Alabama." The 250-acre property known as the M-Bend, a reference to the adjacent section of Hurricane Creek, was established as an undeveloped, automobile-free preserve just minutes from Tuscaloosa homes for sale. Relax on one of the homemade benches or take a break to explore native plants and aquatic wildlife found in the park. Hours are dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
  4. Van de Graaff Arboretum & Historic Bridge Park - 3231 Robert Cardinal Rd., Northport, AL 35476
    Unlike other carefully maintained green spaces run by PARA, Van de Graaff Arboretum & Historic Bridge Park is a rustic, semi-primitive "nature park." The main attraction is the 1882 King Bowstring Bridge, a section of Alabama's oldest iron bridge that once spanned the Black Warrior River and now crosses Mill Creek. Classic porch-style swings overlooking freshwater ponds offer a welcome serenity. Overnight camping is available, but day use is free of charge from 6 a.m. - dusk.
  5. Queen City Park - Jack Warner Pkwy. and Queen City Ave., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
    In the 1930s, Queen City Park was one of the public works projects brought to life under the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Works Progress Administration (WPA). In addition to facilities for tennis, baseball and swimming, workers constructed nature walks featuring stone paths and bridges. In 1992, the pool and pool house were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Stop in at the on-site Tuscaloosa Public Library and check out a book to read on one of the benches along the wooded hiking trail. Queen City Park is open daily from dawn until dusk.

Real estate contracts and inspection reports aren't exactly reader-friendly, but we can walk you through them, so you don't miss a thing. For dedicated and experienced help buying or selling a home in Tuscaloosa, contact us at Hamner Real Estate. 


Pool Maintenance Tips Every Pool Owner Should Know

Pool Maintenance Tips

On a sweltering summer day, there's no better way to cool off and than going for a relaxing swim.

To ensure your pool is ready for all your summer fun, it's essential to follow a strict maintenance schedule. Our real estate agents know that a well-maintained pool can be a strong selling point with many would-be homeowners. Keep reading to learn a few maintenance tips that every pool owner needs to know. 

  1. Your Pool Needs Just the Right Amount of Water
    Make sure that the water level of your pool is at the point where it hits the center of your pool's skimmer. Otherwise, the skimmer won't be able to remove debris from your pool water properly. A water level that's too high won't allow the skimmer's door to open and close correctly. However, if the water level is too low, you risk running your pump dry and damaging it. 

  2. Pay Attention to All Your Pool's Chemicals (Not Just the Chlorine)
    It's a misconception that your pool's chlorine levels are the only thing you need to tend to. In addition to the chlorine levels, pay attention to the pH and alkalinity levels. The alkalinity of your swimming pool should fall within recommended levels so that it's easier to keep your pH levels within the ideal range. Your pool's pH levels are important because a pool with a suitable pH level needs less chlorine than a pool with levels that are too basic or acidic. Chlorine is most effective at killing germs when your pool's pH is between 7.4 and 7.6. Pool water with too much chlorine can cause skin irritation and itchy, red eyes. 
  1. Check That Your Pool's Systems Remain Free of Debris 
    Debris buildup can quickly decrease the efficiency of your pool's systems. There are numerous areas where debris can accumulate that you need to check regularly. Start by turning off your pool's pump and checking the basket that's located either in front of or beside the pump. This basket is prone to accumulating a lot of leaves, small pieces of trash, and clumps of hair. If your pool has a deck or inline chlorinator, make sure that the tablets are dissolving properly. When the tablets don't dissolve correctly, this can clog the chlorinator. Your skimmer baskets also need regular attention. Since your skimmer is the first line of defense for bugs, vegetation, and other foreign items, you need to see if the basket requires emptying every week or so. Otherwise, the skimmer won't remove as much debris, and it will sink to the bottom of your pool. 
  1. Inspect Your Pool for Cracks and Other Signs of Damage
    A damaged pool can be a drawback when you want to add your home to the inventory of Tuscaloosa homes for sale. Ensure that small problems don't turn into expensive repairs by inspecting your pool for damage. Examine the liner for rips or tears and look for cracks around the exterior of your pool (especially around your deck and tile). Most small cracks can be repaired with caulking and silicone. If they're left unchecked, they can impact the integrity of your pool. It's also possible to patch many rips and tears in your pool liner if the liner is in overall good condition. 

Looking for a home with a pool you can enjoy all summer long? Contact us today to explore your options!


7 Reasons to Move to Tuscaloosa

Move to Tuscaloosa

There are so many reasons people and their families love calling Tuscaloosa home. Thinking about moving to this wonderful Alabama city?

At Hamner Real Estate, we cherish all the features that make Tuscaloosa such a special place to live. Our real estate agents compiled seven compelling reasons why moving to Tuscaloosa is a great idea. 

  1. Low Cost of Living
    Sperling's Best Places gives Tuscaloosa a cost of living index of 87.9, with 100 being the national average. Tuscaloosa homes for sale are extremely affordable, while the city also rates favorably for low cost of groceries and transportation. In addition, a recent article in Forbes lists Tuscaloosa as having the fourth-lowest property tax rate out of 220 metro areas in the U.S. All in all, your dollar goes much further in Tuscaloosa.

  2. Shorter Commute Times
    Few things are more tedious than the commute to and from work. Over the last decade, the one-way commute time in the United States has grown to an average length of 26.4 minutes. In contrast, the average one-way commute time in Tuscaloosa is down to 19.5 minutes, which is a savings of 1.25 hours per week. 

  3. Rich Diversity of Population
    According to Niche, a website that aggregates data on neighborhoods and cities across the country, Tuscaloosa receives a grade of A for demographic diversity. Why is this important? Experts at Purdue University say diversity exposes us to a greater range of experiences, promotes understanding, and makes for a more interesting community. 

  4. Tuscaloosa Riverwalk
    Even if your idea of a workout is power shopping, you'll love spending a day on the pet-friendly Tuscaloosa Riverwalk. The two-lane, well-lit paved trail runs just over four miles along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River. Beautiful woodsy surroundings feature benches, picnic tables, a fenced playground, and a splash pad. 

  5. The University of Alabama
    As the home of the University of Alabama, the oldest and largest public university in the state, Tuscaloosa is one of the more vibrant college towns in the South. UA is recognized as an elite doctoral research university by the Carnegie Foundation while the law, business, nursing, and engineering programs also rank high. Of course, for sports lovers, the Crimson Tide football team is legendary, as are the pregame tailgate parties that take place during fall. 

  6. Kentuck Art Center & Festival
    Named for a word meaning "ideal" or "utopian-like place," Kentuck Art Center is definitely creative nirvana. The center encompasses five buildings housing studios, galleries, and classrooms. Exhibits rotate throughout the year, and workshops in different media are held for all ages.

  7. Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
    The Black Warrior River makes a scenic backdrop for the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, the area's top entertainment venue. For nearly 20 years, the Amphitheater has hosted nationally acclaimed acts across the musical spectrum such as Bob Dylan, Tug McGraw, Willie Nelson, John Legend, and Def Leppard. 

Want to learn more about calling Tuscaloosa home? Contact us today.


Ways to Keep Your Kids Entertained at Home

Ways to Entertain Kids

With children out of school across the country, many parents are struggling with finding ways to keep them occupied. While you could let them help you explore online listings of Tuscaloosa homes for sale, when you're done, you'll still have many hours of idle time to deal with. 

There are many different types of virtual field trips available. With a bit of creativity, it's easy to turn these online adventures into fun learning activities. Many of our REALTORS® have children of their own and have been working together to come up with some creative ideas. Here are some of their best tips. 

  1. Animal Activities
    Many different zoos have webcams that allow you to watch some of your favorite animals as if you were really there. Here are a few of our favorites:
  • Polar bear cubs at Ouwehand Park in the Netherlands
  • San Diego Zoo (apes, baboons, koalas, giraffes, elephants, penguins, and more!)
  • Lion Cam at Reid Park Zoo

    You'll find some suggested lesson plans on a few of these websites. You can make things really fun by choosing an animal your child is particularly interested in and exploring it further. You could also learn more about the animal's natural habitat and use things around the home to create a replica. 
  1. Art Appreciation
    There are many incredible art galleries around the globe, but you don't have to get on a plane to appreciate famous works of art. After you and your child go through the virtual tour, have them pick a piece of art they loved and create their own replica. Take a look at these online museum tours:
  1. Go Back in Time
    Is your child interested in history? Take a step back in time with virtual visits to some of the world's best history museums and historical locations. This includes:
  1. Underwater Exploration
    Almost all kids are interested in aquatic life and there are many different aquariums that have set up webcams. Some of the best options we've found include:
  • Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, GA)
  • Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, WA)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA)
  • National Aquarium (Baltimore, MD)

    After you take a look at these, talk to your child about their favorite sea animal and create an age-appropriate project using this as the focus. You can also watch movies like Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, or Disneynature's Oceans and use it as an opportunity to identify and talk about different types of sea creatures. 
  1. A Trip Around the Globe
    You can also take your kids on a virtual tour of many interesting places the world without ever leaving your home. If you find a location that excites your child, have them make a travel brochure or a postcard. Here are a few of the coolest places you can check out together:

Once you've occupied your child, you can turn your attention back to searching for your dream home. We can help! Contact us today to discuss your goals and get started. 


Agent vs. REALTOR®: How They're Different

Agent VS Realtor

What is the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®? This is one of the most common questions our team fields from prospective clients. While both help clients buy and sell homes, some differences are worth noting as you start your search for a new home or to ask one of our real estate agents to sell your current property.

Whether a REALTOR® or real estate agent, both are required to obtain and maintain state licensure to purchase, sell, or rent a property. Each state has a different curriculum and requirements in this regard. States such as Alabama require 60 hours of formal education, while states like California require 135 hours or more. This coursework covers all the ins and outs of the real estate industry that agents need to know to represent their clients properly. 

REALTORS® take their training a step further. Members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) belong to an organization that has trained agents across the country since 1908. NAR training includes a heavy focus on ethics, and everyone who earns the title of REALTOR® is required to adhere to the organization's code of ethics. The bottom line is Realtors® maintain a high degree of professionalism, strives to protect their client's rights and best interests, and adhere to the "golden rule" in everything they do. 

There are seventeen articles that REALTORS® promise to adhere to at all times. These include:

  • The interests of buyers and sellers are paramount, and all parties shall be treated honestly and with respect.
  • REALTORS® will not exaggerate, misrepresent, or conceal material facts regarding real property.
  • Cooperate with other brokers and real estate agents to preserve the best interests of clients.
  • Disclose whether they are a principal in a real estate deal.
  • Inform the seller of all commissions and fees, and not to accept fees or commissions from 3rd parties without the consent of the seller.
  • Maintain separate accounts for agent and client funds. 
  • Provide equal treatment to all clients, regardless of race, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.
  • Strive to ensure that all written documents are as easy to understand as possible, to answer all client questions, and to provide all parties copies of signed documents. 
  • Refuse to offer or provide services beyond their skills and experience for which they are unqualified to provide.

REALTORS® must maintain their membership certification through the payment of annual dues and online refresher courses. And, REALTORS® can lose their certification if they violate the organization's code of ethics. The bottom line is that when you work with a REALTOR®, you can rest assured that you are working with someone who is always going to represent your interests above their own. 

Does this mean that it is always better to work with a REALTOR® than a real estate agent? Not necessarily. Experience still counts, and there are many highly skilled real estate agents and real estate brokers who specialize in rental properties, commercial properties, etc. The same is true for REALTORS®, and while the title is worth noting, you still want someone who has the knowledge, skills, and experience that are best related to your needs.  

We invite you to contact us to discuss the many beautiful Tuscaloosa homes for sale this spring. Our team of REALTORS® is always ready to answer your questions and demonstrate the reasons why our team is renowned throughout the state for the superior service we provide clients. 

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