1. Be ScarceOne of the biggest turn-offs for buyers is a seller who hovers over their shoulders as they tour a house. If you are present when potential buyers visit your home, they may not feel free to ask certain questions, and you may say something that could jeopardize a sale. The best thing you can do is let your agent show your home on your behalf while you relax someplace else.
2. Give Up Your Parking SpaceA good seller wants a potential buyer to be able to picture themselves living in the home. You can help further this image by allowing buyers to pull up in the driveway and park as if they own it. When you leave the house for a showing, be sure to take your vehicle with you, or, if you’re not driving, move your car to the street to allow buyers the V.I.P parking spot.
3. Take Your Pets With You When You Leave For A ShowingThe buyers who come to your home for viewing might be animal lovers, too, but you should always take your pets with you when you leave. First of all, you won’t know if the buyer actually likes pets, but even if they do, you don’t want your cute little fur baby to steal the show and draw attention from the home. If you have pets, do your best to make it appear (and smell) as if your home is pet-free.
4. Place Important Documents In Plain ViewBecause you’ll be leaving when potential buyers come to view your home, you’ll want to place important documents such as the home inspection report, home warranty, and appraisal on a table for easy viewing. This will let buyers know you’re a responsible owner and seller who has nothing to hide. You can also include recent utility bills to give them an idea of monthly expenses and proof of any major repairs or renovations you’ve made recently.
5. Don’t Pressure The Buyers For FeedbackYou may be excited to hear a buyer’s feedback right after a showing, but a good seller gives the buyer time to process what they’ve seen and make a decision. Remember, this is likely the biggest purchase they’ve ever made, so let them have a few days to think it over before expecting feedback or an offer. Your home isn’t the only thing that needs to impress buyers when you put it on the market for sale. You have to be a good seller, too. Following the tips outlined above will help you become the kind of seller homebuyers like to deal with
1. LocationBeing located in a quiet neighborhood or near popular amenities such as restaurants and grocery stores can make a home worth more. Not every buyer needs a home to meet every location requirement, but if you can say your home is situated in or near things people deem important, it will retain its value better. On this same note, if your home is located near schools, daycare, or even a school bus stop, it will be more attractive to buyers with children or who plan to have children, making it worth more, especially if it checks other boxes for them, too.
2. A Beautiful ViewCan you look out your window and see a beautiful skyline? If so, your home may be worth more. Being able to look out a window and see something lovely calms the nerves, and buyers appreciate that. On the other hand, if you look out your window and all you see is your neighbor’s house, a flashing neon sign, or some other unattractive view, it could bring down the value of your home, too.
3. Curb AppealIf your home looks nice from the outside, it will retain its value better. If you mow your lawn, landscape your yard attractively, and maintain the exterior of your home, it shows you’ve kept the property in good shape. Curb appeal works both ways, however. If you don’t maintain your yard or the exterior of your home, the overall value will be less.
4. Major SystemsNo one likes to move into a home and immediately have to shell out money to fix any heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical issues. Selling a home with issues like these is usually the result of neglected maintenance and will subtract from the home’s value. If you know your home has issues with any of its major systems, be sure to fix them before putting it on the market for sale to get the most out of its value.
5. StorageA home with lots of storage is usually worth more than one that doesn’t have enough. If your home has plenty of closets, cabinets, and drawers, as well as basement, attic, and/or garage storage, buyers will be willing to pay more for the convenience. Many factors influence the value of a home, with the 5 listed above being just a start. Be sure to keep these things in mind as you set an asking price for your home as it could be worth more (or less) than you think.
1. Educate yourself and know the lawManaging a rental property requires more than just paying the mortgage on time and collecting rent. Renter issues arise often and vary in severity, so you must know where you stand in any given situation. Not knowing the law and how it pertains to you and your tenants can leave you open to lawsuits and bankruptcy very quickly. Take the time to educate yourself: take classes, read books, and talk to other more experienced landlords to know and understand the laws in your state. The more you know, the less likely you’ll be to land on the wrong side of a tenant’s legal claim against you.
2. Stick to documented policies no matter whatWhen a new tenant signs your rental contract, they are agreeing to all the policies and procedures set forth by you in that document. It’s important they understand everything before they sign, and it’s your job to make sure they do. Walk them through the document one section at a time and be sure to answer any questions they may have. Your rental agreement should include things such as: · What tenants can and can’t do on the property · How much rent is · When rent is due · How rent can be paid · Noise restrictions · Tenant-to-tenant conflict resolution · Tenant responsibilities · Landlord responsibilities · Rules about additional occupants and guests · Rules on pets · Rules on smoking · Property maintenance · What is considered normal wear and tear
3. Document everything that happensGood or bad, it’s important that you document everything that happens when in contact with your tenants. Depending on how many units you rent out, this could be time-consuming. Investing in CRM software can help you organize multiple tenants into a spreadsheet or something similar. How you choose to document your interactions with your tenants is up to you; just be sure you do. Take time to document things such as tenant complaints and how they were handled. Make sure you include every contact with the tenant including phone calls, text messages, etc. If you have to give out warning notices or make an incident report, be sure you document it all with dates and times. Not all interactions with your tenants will be bad, but it’s just as important to document the mundane and good communications as well. If a tenant requests maintenance, write it down. Include what you did to fix the problem and what the outcome was. You never know when you might have to refer back to a situation sometime down the road, and good notes ensures you always know exactly what happened and when.
4. Take safety precautionsAngry tenants are a real concern for landlords. You can’t please everyone all the time, especially when you’re a rental property owner. Rather than leave anything to chance, use the following tips to protect yourself and your family as much as possible. · Never give out your home address. · Make it possible for tenants to pay rent online · Use a P.O. Box to collect mailed rent payments · Give tenants a Google Voice phone number to call instead of your own personal number. This eliminates constant phone calls at all hours from needy or angry renters because you control whether the phone rings directly to you or not, and you can check your messages when it’s convenient for you. In addition, Google transcribes your voice messages so it’s easy to document everything. · Screen potential renters completely. Conduct a background check – both financial and criminal. Don’t be afraid to verify job and previous landlord references as well. Being a landlord is a tough job wrought with financial and physical risks. Protect yourself using the four tips above for a safe and profitable investment property.
Fewer People Means Fewer Public ServicesOne of the reasons people love living in a rural area is the fact that there are fewer people. Your closest neighbor may be a mile or more away. While this affords plenty of privacy and quiet, it also means there are fewer public services available nearby. If you’ve lived in urban areas all your life and are now considering moving to a rural home, you must realize you’ll need time to adjust to this lesser level of public service nearby.
Fewer Business OpportunitiesIf you’re planning to live in a rural home, you’ll likely have to make a longer commute to work since there are fewer business opportunities close by. On the other hand, if you’re planning to use the rural home as an investment property, it’s important to have clear expectations when it comes to renting or selling it as it’s likely to sit vacant and/or for sale longer for the same reason.
Fewer RestrictionsUrban properties often come with a plethora of restrictions in terms of property development. Rural properties, on the other hand, often have fewer restrictions, giving the owner more leeway when it comes to land development. Furthermore, when it comes to listing rural homes for sale, the listing regulations are less strict than those for urban properties in cities like Los Angeles or New York.
More Opportunity For Land DevelopmentStrategically purchasing multiple rural properties gives investors more opportunities for extending land development, increasing their profitability as a long-term investment. Should the investor decide not to pursue development, the rural property(ies) typically garners a profit when sold.
Cheaper Purchase PricesRural properties are typically cheaper to buy than their urban counterparts. As an investor, you can expect to pay about half what you would pay for an urban home of the same size. This makes it extremely easy to buy more than one property at a time and still stay within your budget.
Less Competition In The MarketRecently, there has been an increase in rural properties for sale with a lack of interest from investors, which means there is less competition in the market for purchasing these properties. This factor also drives the prices lower for these properties, making them prime investment opportunities. It takes the right type of person to reap the benefits of investing in or living in a rural home. If you’re thinking of buying a home in the country for either reason, the pros and cons listed above may help you decide whether or not the purchase is right for you.
1. The Right ApproachReal estate investment is a business. You need to approach it as such and devote as much time and energy to it as possible. Even if you’re only planning to have one rental property, it deserves your undivided attention. Should you decide to expand your investment business, you’ll need to devote even more time to attending open houses, researching neighborhoods, monitoring your financial state, and estimating costs in order to find good deals with high return on investment.
2. Dealing With HasslesBeing responsible for a rental property can be challenging, especially when tenants aren’t happy, or things need fixing. You can maintain a cordial relationship with your tenants by being discerning and smart. Avoid potential issues by building a network of reputable contractors you can count on when repairs are necessary. Furthermore, create a schedule for paying bills, insurance, and other expenses so you do so on time, and be sure to keep an emergency fund at the ready for unexpected expenses.
3. LocationIt’s much easier to manage a rental property that’s close by than one that’s in another town or state. If you’re very resourceful, you can pull it off, but problems of any kind can arise without warning, and being close to the problem makes it much easier and cheaper to solve.
4. Finding Good TenantsOne of the most challenging aspects of being a landlord is finding good tenants. It pays to do your due diligence when screening prospective renters. Do criminal background and credit checks and speak with previous landlords if possible. Renting to the wrong tenant can end up costing you big in terms of time and money. Should you need to start eviction proceedings, it will be impossible to rent your unit out again until they are finished, which could be several months. Furthermore, should your tenants be unhappy with your services or feel slighted in any way, they could take it out on your property, costing you way more in repairs than they’ve paid with their security deposit. Moral of the story? Don’t take shortcuts when screening potential renters. While the idea of making money being a landlord sounds easy, the reality is, it’s quite challenging. If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, be sure to consider the four points above so you’re prepared.
ElectricalOlder homes sometimes have outdated electrical components that are inefficient and potentially dangerous. Old wiring can cause electrical fires in some cases, so it’s important you hire an electrician to inspect the home’s electrical system and correct any problems before you move in. In many cases, a homeowner won’t be able to sell a home with outdated electrical components, but it’s your responsibility to make sure everything is up to code and safe before moving into your new home.
PlumbingSmall plumbing issues can become big headaches if they aren’t addressed quickly. A plumber can inspect your home’s water and sewer pipes and fix any issues he finds. In some cases, you might be able to fix small problems (like a leak under the kitchen sink) yourself, but for a good bill of health on the home’s entire plumbing system, it’s best to hire a professional.
Heating And CoolingMany homes have an HVAC system that needs to be inspected regularly. Before moving into your new home, this is a necessity to ensure the system heats and cools your home efficiently and that the ductwork is clear of any allergens and/or debris. You can do some of the work yourself (changing filters, clearing the area around the unit), but to ensure everything is in proper working order, it’s best to have an HVAC technician come in and inspect the unit. The technician will change the filters, ensure the unit is working well, check the thermostat, and clean out the ductwork as needed. This will ensure your unit is as energy-efficient as possible and that your family doesn’t suffer allergies due to poor air quality in the home.
SecurityMoving into a new home can be somewhat scary since you don’t know the area very well. To help alleviate you and your family’s unease, installing a security system might be a good idea. Today’s security systems are very interactive. They can be controlled using your smartphone and you can receive instant notifications of any emergencies while you’re away. It may also be possible to monitor your residence via a streaming video feed when you’re not home. Having a security system may help your family feel more at ease in your new home, especially if you train everyone on how to use it properly so they can feel in control of their new surroundings. You’re probably very excited about moving into your new home but be sure you have the above-mentioned services conducted ahead of your actual move-in date. Doing so will ensure you and your family will be as comfortable and as happy as possible in your new home.
As a homeowner, you are responsible for a lot of things in and around the house. Below is a list of things you are responsible for when you own a home. Be sure to consider these things when deciding whether home ownership is for you or not.
1. The Legal Side Of ThingsIf you’re planning to build a home from the ground up, it’s your responsibility to make sure you have the proper permits in place to do so. Every community is different, so it’s up to you to find out what they require.
Obtaining approval on building permits can take weeks or even months to come through, so skipping this step might be tempting. It’s in your best interest to go through the proper channels, however, because without the right permits, the authorities could halt progress on your house, or worse, demolish it altogether.
2. Dealing With Homeowners’ AssociationsIf the home you’re considering is in a neighborhood overseen by a homeowners’ association (HOA), you could be in for some difficulty. These associations tend to have strict guidelines you must follow and even stricter enforcement and penalties if you don’t.
The best way to know what your HOA responsibilities are is to read the HOA agreement closely before buying or renting in the neighborhood and attending regular HOA meetings.
3. Paying The MortgageResponsible homeowners pay their mortgages on time, plain and simple. Failing to do so can result in harassing phone calls and letters from the lender, as well as legal action and/or foreclosure. To ensure you always have the funds available to pay your monthly mortgage payment, set a clear budget that sets the money aside for this payment before anything else. After all, you have to have a place to live, right?
4. Dealing With NeighborsUnless you move into the country where houses are few and far between, you’re going to have neighbors. It’s in your best interest to get along with the people who live around you. As a responsible homeowner, you should be polite when you see your neighbors, and you should go out of your way to remedy any situation your neighbors may find disturbing.
5. Understanding The MortgageMortgages can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to understand yours completely so there are no surprises when it comes time to make your first payment. Find out what your payment includes. Are you paying just principal and interest, or does it include escrow for homeowners’ insurance and/or property taxes, too?
Be sure you understand the going interest rates and how they apply to your loan. Is the interest fixed, or will you need to consider refinancing in a few years when your interest rate adjusts? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you prepare for anything that may arise with your mortgage payment in the future.
Owning a home is more than just making monthly payments. There are many things you become responsible for as a homeowner. Although not comprehensive, the list above gives you many things to consider if you’re thinking about buying a house.
1. What’s Old Is New AgainWhile styles come and go, it’s the nostalgia that’s playing a big role in today’s interior décor trends. Styles from the Victorian era, Art Deco, and even grand millennial aesthetics are making a comeback as many people wish longingly for what used to be in a world so full of uncertainty and strife.
2. Easy To Clean Is Always GoodWe’ll be seeing lots of easy to clean fabrics and surfaces. Expect non-porous surfaces like glass and metal to be part of many home renovations as they deter the growth and spread of bacteria. Also, the kid-friendly, durable, stain-proof fabric will take center stage where applicable.
3. Warm, Cozy ColorsEarthy tones and warm neutrals will be popular as we begin making our homes cozier places to be. Today’s trend is organic shades like Camel, which adds a layer of warmth and hominess gray just doesn’t have.
4. Calming Shades Of BlueColor has a big impact on our emotions, which is why shades of soft blue will be trending this year. The calming effect this shade has on the mind will help alleviate some of the stress we’re all feeling as we stay quarantined in our homes. Blue is a timeless color that never seems to go out of style, making it a great choice for a fresh look.
5. Natural Materials Aren’t Going AnywhereWood tones, organic materials, and natural accents are going to be extremely popular.
6. Say Goodbye To The Open Floor PlanIn years past, the open floor plan, where one room flows seamlessly into the next, was valued as it brought the family closer together. This realization puts open floor plans on the outs and closed floor plans at the top of many homeowner’s renovation plans.
7. A Shift Toward Sustainable FurnishingsSustainability is a subject that impacts our daily lives in many areas. Today’s homeowner is opting less for cheap, DIY furnishings and choosing instead to buy furniture that’s more expensive and better made. These furnishings are kinder to the environment and they give their owners a sense of pride in being able to hand down an heirloom rather than throwing the piece in the landfill.
1. Clean It OutThe key to achieving a successful pantry setup is to figure out what you have to work with. You can do this by cleaning the space out. Start at the ceiling and remove any cobwebs hanging in the corners and work your way down. Wipe shelving, and if you’re feeling ambitious, give them a fresh coat of paint. Finish by sweeping and mopping the floor. If you aren’t feeling particularly ambitious, simply clean the space and apply contact paper to the shelves.
2. Take Stock Of What You HaveOnce you’ve cleaned out your pantry, it’s time to take stock of what you have and what you need. Throw out expired food items and start a box for donations to your local food pantry of items you won’t be using. This is also the perfect time to rearrange the items in your pantry for convenience. For example, move seldom-used items to the back or to a lower shelf to make room for the things you use most within easy reach.
3. Make It Easy To See What You HaveYou can make things easier to find and create a beautiful display at the same time by switching out the mess of open boxes and bags for pretty, clear containers. For instance, baking ingredients like flour and sugar look great in clear mason jars while rice, beans, and other dry goods make for a pleasant display in tightly sealed plastic containers with lids.
4. Purchase Storage SolutionsOnce you’ve decided how you’ll organize your pantry, it’s time to purchase the storage solutions you’ll need. Your list may include things like mason jars, plastic containers, baskets, wire racks, spice racks, racks for plastic wrap and aluminum foil, etc.
5. Put Your Pantry Back TogetherNow that you’ve purged what you don’t need and have acquired the storage solutions that will work best for you, it’s time to put everything back together. Be sure to group like items together – sugar and flour with other baking ingredients, for example – and face canned goods forward for easy viewing. Keep arranging and rearranging until you have the pantry you’ve always dreamed of. A pantry is one of those areas in a home that’s used daily and often becomes a disorganized mess. To make it easier to find what you’re looking for and what you need to replace, follow the tips above to organize your pantry once and for all.
1. Tidy Those BookshelvesIf you have bookshelves in your home, it’s the ideal place to store things you don’t want others to see. Take a moment to organize the contents and then install a pull-down window shade to cover the section that contains the stuff you’d like to hide. The result is elegant – almost like it’s supposed to be that way.
2. Store Chargers And Other CablesIf you’re like most people, you have a drawer or basket full of tangled cables. Attempting to pull just one from the mass is nothing less than a 15-minute act of frustration. To remedy this headache, coil each cord into its own empty toilet paper roll and then toss the rolls into a basket or drawer for safekeeping.
3. Hide Clutter In The PlayroomKids’ playrooms are hard to keep organized. There’s so much stuff… If it seems like there isn’t enough room for everything in the playroom, try hiding what you can behind a good old-fashioned shower curtain. Install a shower curtain rod above a shelving unit and slide a coordinating shower curtain across the clutter to instantly hide it and make the room appear tidy.
4. Utilize The Space UnderneathYou can declutter a room quite easily if you utilize the space underneath the furniture. For instance, under the coffee table or the bed are great places to put things. Just add a skirted tablecloth over the top and you have instant storage nobody will notice.
5. Storage In The Laundry RoomHiding clutter in a small laundry room is challenging. The trick is to use coordinating baskets and/or bins to organize everything from dog food to trash bags. Give yourself extra space by installing shelves on the wall to hold the baskets so they aren’t taking up space on the floor.
6. Organize That PantryIs your pantry a crazy, disorganized mess of cans and boxes? Do you have no idea what’s expired and what’s not? Put that chaos to rest by creating a roll-out storage shelf that utilizes the space between the fridge and the wall. This handy DIY project lets you see at a glance what you have so you know what to add to your shopping list and what’s going to expire soon.
7. Under The BedUnder the bed is prime real estate for storage. All you need to do is purchase a couple of under the bed storage bins and you’re all set. To upgrade this decluttering hack, install some wheels on the bottoms of the bins for super-easy retrieval.
Clutter happens in almost every home. Whether the stuff is necessary or not so much, clutter can be exhausting to deal with. To get rid of clutter – or make it appear like you have – try the clever storage hacks listed above.
Sometimes, however, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Small closets happen, and when they do, you have to get creative. Below, we put together some helpful hacks designed to expand those tiny closets so you can keep more of your stuff. Of course, it’s still a good idea to get rid of anything you haven’t looked at, worn, or otherwise used in the last five years.
1. Get Rid Of Some StuffIf there isn’t room, there isn’t room, plain and simple. Before you try stuffing that tiny closet full, try paring down its inventory. That sweater you haven’t worn in forever – donate it. Those roller skates you keep meaning to put to use but never do – they’re out!
Don’t keep holding onto things you know you’ll likely never use again just because. Your space is limited, and you need to use it wisely.
2. Create Extra Hanging Space Outside The Closet If You Have RoomNo one says you have to hang all your clothinginsidethe closet. If you have space outside your tiny closet, hang an extra bar or two to accommodate all the clothing you want to hang.
Alternately, many home improvement stores carry hanging racks on wheels that you simply put together and place anywhere to expand your closet space.
3. Raise Your BedThere is a lot of valuable space underneath your bed – all you have to do is access it. If you’re not afraid of heights or are claustrophobic, you can raise your bed up high to give you a ton of extra space to put things. Furthermore, if you hang some curtains around the space, it’ll be like having an additional closet in the room.
4. Use The Inside Door Panels For Extra Hanging SpaceThe inside of the closet door is often overlooked as storage space, but it works great for hanging things like scarves, purses, and other items that hang flat. Simply install a couple of bars or a few hooks to utilize this handy space.
5. Store Shoes ElsewhereIf you have several pairs of shoes that take up a lot of space in your closet, try storing them somewhere else instead.
Under the bed is a great place to store your shoes. If you’re a wine drinker, don’t throw out those empty wine boxes as they make great under-the-bed storage boxes for shoes.
6. Switch Out Seasonal ClothingWhy keep seasonal clothing out all year long when you really don’t have the room for them? Keep a trunk in the bottom of your closet or at the foot of your bed to switch seasonal clothing into when you no longer need them. This will free up space in your closet, making it easier to find what you’re looking for, and the trunk can double as a seat when needed.
Small closets aren’t deal-breakers, especially if the rest of the home is perfect for you. Embrace the small space and use the hacks above to expand that tiny closet.
Be Careful What You Put Down the DrainsOne of the biggest culprits of slow-moving and clogged drains and pipes is not being careful of what goes down them. Grease is probably the most problematic substance people allow to go down the drain. While it’s easy to assume the liquid goes through the pipes as water does, the reality is it actually solidifies quickly and collects in specific spots along the way. As it builds up, it causes problems. Luckily, grease is the easiest drain problem to deal with since you have total control of whether it goes down the drain or not. Rather than pour grease down the drain as you’re cooking, collect it instead in an old coffee can that you throw away once it’s full.
Run Hot WaterOne of the easiest ways to help your drains stay clear is to get in the habit of running hot water down them after each use. While oils and other substances can settle, hot water keeps things moving along nicely. All you have to do to ensure your drains stay clear is turn the hot water on and let it run in the sink for a moment or two.
Use Baking Soda and VinegarIf you have a slow-moving drain or there’s a foul odor coming from the pipes, use vinegar and baking soda to clear it up. Simply pour a quarter-cup of baking soda in the drain and follow it up with a cup of white vinegar. The combination creates a volatile reaction that foams inside the pipes to clear the offending clog or buildup. Let the combo do its job for 15 minutes and then run hot water down the drain for a few seconds. This natural drain cleaner can be used regularly to keep your pipes clean and fresh. Your home’s pipes are very important. When they don’t work as they should, it’s very inconvenient and unhealthy. Use the tips mentioned above to keep your drains and pipes in tip-top shape.
Who Needs to know?The list of people who should know that you’ve moved can be rather lengthy so be sure to make a list. Find your holiday greeting card list to be sure you’ve included family and friends. Next, include all your doctors, dentist, optometrist, etc. Your child’s school and any regular services such as lawn care or cleaning services should go next. Lastly, jot down magazines, newspapers, and even the IRS.
When to Notify EveryoneThe postal service suggests putting in a change of address no later than two weeks before you move. The ideal time to do this, however, is about three months before you move. Since the postal service will continue to forward your mail for 12 months, this gives you plenty of time to notify everyone on your list.
How to Notify EveryoneHow you notify the people on your list is up to you. If it’s close friends or family, you can simply pick up the phone to relay your new contact info. Many creditors have a place on their monthly statements for you to enter your new address and phone number. Alternately, there are post cards available at the post office for you to fill out and send in the mail to notify others of your impending move.
What You NeedWhen you contact people you have accounts with, be sure you have your new address and phone number handy, as well as account numbers, an email address, and any other information that may help them identify you and your account.
What to do After You MoveIf you receive any forwarded pieces of mail, contact the sender to verify they have your new address on file. It could be that the change simply hasn’t had time to process in their system or that they didn’t receive your new contact information. Keep an eye open for your forwarded mail in about 7 to 10 days after you move in.
Moving is a chaotic event with lots of things to do. Use the tips above to easily change your address with the people who need it most.
1. Replace The SkirtingWhen most people think about updating a room, they don’t usually consider the skirting to be of much importance. This is a mistake as updating the baseboards around the floor can make a big difference. Changing the skirting is relatively easy, especially once you get the old boards off. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, so be sure to Google skirting removal to learn the easiest way to do it. Visit your local home improvement store or go online to websites to find your new baseboards. Before you install them, though, consider updating the flooring first.
2. Restore Hardwood FloorsIf you’re lucky enough to have real hardwood floors in your home, you can give the rooms a fresh, new look simply by refinishing the wood. With the baseboards removed, this job is easier than ever, especially if you rent a professional sanding machine. Alternately, if your budget allows, you can hire a professional contractor to do the job for you.
3. Install Laminate FlooringLaminate flooring is probably the easiest way to renew the flooring in any room of your home. With a huge array of colors and designs available, you’re sure to find something to complement the décor in any room.
The main thing to remember when choosing laminate flooring is to be sure to get the right type for the room it’s going in. For example, if you’re installing it in the bathroom, be sure to choose one that’s designed to withstand dampness, so it lasts for many years to come.
Whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, or a child’s bedroom, the floor has a huge impact on the look and feel of the room. As such, it makes sense that if you want to give the room a fresh new look, you should give careful consideration to the flooring in the room. From refinishing existing hardwood floors to installing laminate or some other flooring material, renewing the floor will update the look and feel of any room in your home.
So when it comes to remodeling your kitchen, you have a lot of options in terms of layouts and features. It can seem overwhelming, but below, we discuss several layouts and what you can expect with each so you can choose one that suits your needs best.
The IslandIslands in kitchens are popular as they not only add interest to the room but also functionality. They work well in large kitchens with plenty of space to maneuver around. Kitchen islands can be stand-alone versions where food prep takes place or part of a bigger unit such as a wall or half-wall for additional vertical storage and interest.
Single & Double Galley KitchensGalley kitchens are known for their compact layouts that put everything within easy reach. In a single-galley kitchen, the cabinets, appliances, and countertops are all strategically placed on one wall. In a double-galley kitchen, all the elements of the room are placed on two walls that run parallel and opposite each other.
If space is a concern, the single-galley kitchen works well, while a double-galley kitchen is best suited for rooms that are longer than they are wide.
An L-Shaped KitchenL-shaped kitchens feature the sink and cooking areas on different sides of the “L.” This design is especially great in smaller kitchens where family members love cooking together as it gives ample space for everyone to work.
U-Shaped KitchenCommon in open floor plans where the dining room and kitchen are one big space, the U-shaped kitchen helps divide the area into two separate rooms. The U-shaped kitchen can also be used in smaller kitchens to provide ample storage and workspace, but it can also give a feeling of being closed in. In this instance, open shelving helps reduce the closed-in feeling.
You have many options when it comes to kitchen layouts, so if you’re planning a kitchen remodel, be sure you understand the differences between them so you can choose the one that works best with the space you have and your particular needs.
There’s a lot to do when it comes to real estate investing. From finding good investment opportunities to managing them all, it’s a full-time job. Here are a few tips to help you get started on building a sizeable real estate portfolio.
Build a Team to Help Manage It AllBeing a landlord is a full-time job. Each property will require your time, and the more properties you own, the more time it will require. Begin building a team of people you can trust to help you manage it all. Professionals such as property managers, contractors, inspectors, etc. will help you stay on top of things and take some of the responsibility off your shoulders.
Spread Your Investments Over Several MarketsIf you’re managing everything yourself, you’ll likely want to keep all your investment properties close together for convenience. However, this is like putting all your eggs in one basket.
If you purchase investment properties in more than one market, it protects your money in the event that one market struggles, the other can keep things afloat.
Have Plenty of Available CashTo build your portfolio, you need to have plenty of easily accessible cash to take advantage of opportunities fast. There are a few different ways to ensure you have the cash you need on hand.
- Refinance or sell an existing property
- Partner with other investors
- Do a 1031 Exchange when you sell an investment property
Know Your Investment GoalsIt’s hard to achieve goals when you don’t fully understand what it is you hope to achieve. Before you begin looking for investment properties, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do I want to invest in different markets or stay local?
- Do I want to focus on the value of my portfolio?
- How many properties do I need to buy in order to reap a profit that exceeds my expenses?
- What do I hope to achieve? Higher monthly cash flow, more stability, or a combination of both?
Most real estate investors start out by owning a rental property or two. They quickly find out that real estate investing is quite lucrative and want to buy more properties. It’s a lot of work building a sizeable portfolio, so be sure you commit to memory the tips outlined above.
1. LocationThe location of the property you want to buy is of the utmost importance. This feature determines what type of tenants the property attracts and how long they stay. For instance, a rental property located close to a college will most likely attract college students who only need temporary housing during the school year. You may find yourself searching for new tenants every summer when the students return home at the end of the school year.
2. Property TaxesEvery property owner pays property taxes, but they vary from location to location. It’s important to check with the area assessment office for the tax history on a property you are considering. Keep in mind that high property taxes aren’t always a bad thing. If a neighborhood is really nice and tenants tend to stay there long-term, you can afford to pay higher property taxes.
3. RentThe rent you collect on your investment property is the whole reason for owning the property in the first place. You have to research the area to find out what the average rent is and then determine if charging the average rent will cover your mortgage, taxes and other expenses. If it doesn’t, you have to find something else. Furthermore, research further to find out where the neighborhood is heading in the near future. Check for upgrades and additions that might raise property taxes. What you can afford now may not be affordable five years from now.
4. SchoolsTenants with children or those who plan to have children want to live in neighborhoods with good schools. If the school associated with your rental property has a poor reputation, it could affect the overall rental rate of your property. While your monthly cash flow may not reflect the school’s poor rating, selling your property in the future may be more challenging because of it.
5. Crime RatesNo one wants to live in a crime-ridden neighborhood. High crime rates drive down rental rates, so check with the local library or visit the police station to find out about criminal activity in the area you’re looking to buy. Avoid asking the person selling the property about crime in the area as he’s hoping to sell and may not give a completely honest answer. Look specifically at vandalism rates, petty crimes, serious crimes, and whether there has been a recent decline or increase in criminal activity in the area.
6. Local AmenitiesThe more a neighborhood has to offer, the more tenants it attracts. Look at current amenities such as parks, malls, movie theaters, public transportation and other conveniences, as well as ones planned for future projects.
If you have made the decision to invest in real estate, you owe it to yourself and your future earnings to do a bit of homework before jumping into anything. Buying rental property can be risky, but knowing what you’re getting into before getting into it helps you determine a honey-of-a-deal from a bankruptcy-waiting-to-happen. Keep the above six features a profitable rental property should have in mind as you search for your next real estate investment opportunity.
Advantages Of Paying Down Your Mortgage
1. You’ll Pay Less Interest Over The Life Of The LoanEveryone knows interest is calculated by the amount and the length of a loan. That being said, the less time you take paying a loan off, the less interest you end up paying. Even though it’s a well-known fact, not everyone realizes the astronomical savings this amounts to when it comes to a mortgage loan.
Here’s an example. If you have a $100,000, 30-year mortgage with a 4.5 percent interest rate, and you pay an extra $100 every month, you will save $26,377.36 in interest over the life of the loan.
This fact alone is enough of a reason to pay down a mortgage, but here’s another.
2. You’ll Pay Off The Loan And Build Equity FasterObviously, if you pay more each month, you’ll pay the loan off faster. Using the example above, you would shave 8 ½ years off the length of your loan, which helps you quickly build equity you can use later on.
3. You Have More OptionsWhen you pay extra toward your mortgage, it opens doors that would otherwise be closed to you. For instance, you would be able to take out a home equity line of credit that gives you fast cash for just about anything you need.
As a general rule, you can’t get a home equity line of credit on an investment property, but you still have flexibility when it comes to who you rent to once the property is paid off. You could let someone stay rent-free if you wish because you don’t have to worry about making mortgage payments anymore.
4. You Can Refinance Easily For A Lower Interest RateThis advantage is most useful once the property is paid off, but even before that happens, paying extra sets you up for easy refinancing at lower interest rates to save yourself even more money.
Disadvantages Of Paying Down Your MortgageNow that you understand the advantages of making extra payments to pay your mortgage, it’s important you also understand the downside to making those extra payments. Every mortgage is unique, so you’ll have to weigh your options before deciding whether to put extra cash toward paying yours off early.
1. You May Sacrifice LiquiditySometimes it’s smart to hold onto your cash. There are instances where paying extra towards your mortgage principal does nothing to increase your cash flow. Here’s an example.
You are a real estate investor with multiple rental properties. You have $10,000 in your investment checking account, and all your properties have paying tenants. You have a total of $600,000 debt, but your lowest loan is just $30,000. Do you put that $10,000 toward paying down that lowest loan? Maybe not.
If that loan is a fixed-rate loan, paying down 1/3 of it won’t lower your payments, which does nothing to increase your cash flow. Yes, it decreases the length of the loan, but as an investor, you’re in it to make money, so it makes no sense to use that money to pay down the loan.
2. You Don’t Qualify For Tax BreaksWhen you pay interest on a mortgage, you can write that amount off on your taxes. The less interest you pay, the less of a tax break you get.
3. You Miss Investment OpportunitiesPutting your extra cash toward paying down a mortgage takes capital away from future investment opportunities. If you are trying to build a real estate investment company, you need any extra cash for new investment properties.
As you can see, there are several great advantages to making extra payments to pay your mortgage. On the flip side, there are a few reasons you may not want to, too. Assess your situation and decide if it makes sense to use your extra cash to pay down your mortgage.
1. Real Estate AgentThe real estate agent is often the first person a buyer or seller sees. This real estate professional’s job is to negotiate the best terms for whomever he or she is working. The real estate agent also helps their clients through the legal requirements of the buying or selling process.
For investors with multiple properties for rent, real estate agents can help you set prices and find qualified renters. In some cases, a real estate agent will also screen potential tenants, field phone calls, and show your properties.
2. Home AppraiserThe home appraiser works for the lender. This real estate expert takes into account several factors including a comparison of the home with similar ones in the area that have recently sold, the cost of the home, and the income potential of the home before presenting the lender with a price for the property. Other factors an appraiser looks at is the size of the home, its condition, and the condition of the surrounding neighborhood.
3. Home InspectorA home inspector looks at every nook and cranny of a property and gives a detailed report of his or her findings for the buyer. Any offer to purchase should be contingent on the inspector’s report. A home inspector looks at major aspects of a home such as its electrical wiring, plumbing, heating/cooling, as well as the roof, walls, floors, windows, and doors.
4. Insurance AgentEvery mortgage requires the borrower to have homeowners insurance in place. The policy protects the owner from loss in the event of things like natural disaster, accidents, and lawsuits. Not all homeowner’s insurance policies are created equal, so it’s important you have a knowledgeable insurance agent on your side. This person can ensure you have sufficient coverage for both common and not-so-common mishaps. If you’re a landlord, an insurance agent can make sure your policy covers things like problematic tenants as well.
5. Loan OfficerA loan officer works for the lender, but it’s his or her job to help you qualify for a loan. This real estate professional gathers personal information from you such as your income, your employment status, and other qualifying information to determine whether you have the ability to pay back a loan. If you have less-than-perfect credit, the loan officer tells you what you need to do to fix it in order to qualify for a loan in the future. A loan officer also helps you get pre-qualified for a loan, which presents you as a serious buyer in the eyes of sellers and real estate agents.
6. Mortgage LenderThe mortgage lender uses the recommendation of the loan officer in deciding whether to grant you a mortgage loan or not. Based on the loan officer’s opinion that you can, and will, pay the loan back, the mortgage lender provides qualifying buyers with the money they need to purchase property. A mortgage lender can be a bank, a savings and loan institution, a credit union, or some other financial institution that lends money.
Whether you’re buying or selling a single home, or you’re an investor buying and/or selling multiple properties, the real estate professionals above are vital to being successful. Gather a team of these experts that you can count on every single time.
1. A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place.You’ve probably heard this saying before, but its meaning is especially true where bill paying is concerned. How can you make sure all your bills are paid on time if you don’t know where they are?
Dedicate a specific area for placing your bills as they arrive in the mailbox. Ideally, this will be the same place you actually sit down to pay the bills and balance your checkbook so you don’t have to transport anything from one spot to another. If you always place the bills in the same spot, you’ll always know where to find them when it’s time to pay them.
2. Schedule Time to pay BillsWhether you pay bills every week, bi-weekly, or once a month, schedule a dedicated time to do so. When you set aside a specific time/date to pay your bills, you can plan accordingly so that nothing else interferes and your focus is on the task at hand. Do your best to stick to your schedule so you can get the job done and not have to worry about whether a bill is past-due or not.
3. Open Each and Every BillMany people think if they don’t open a bill, they won’t have to face the potential bad news inside. But what if the news is good? Maybe you over-paid a doctor bill, and they’re sending you a refund check. Not opening every piece of mail that comes to your mailbox or email could mean you miss something important. Having piles of unopened bills (even if you’re behind on them and have several copies of each) does not depict an organized bill-paying system.
4. Sort your Bills by DateSort all your bills by their due date. This way, you’re more apt to pay the ones due the soonest first. As soon as you get a bill in the mail, open it up and place it in the appropriate slot according to the date it is due. When it’s time to sit down and make out bills, you’ll know at a glance, which ones have to go out first.
5. Don’t Forget about Online BillsMany people prefer to pay some or all of their bills online. In fact, some people even have certain bill payments automatically withdrawn from their bank accounts so they don’t have to worry about them. While technology definitely makes things easier when it comes to bill paying, you must be even more vigilant with bill management if you pay your bills online. During your weekly/monthly bill pay sessions, it’s important to:
- Ensure you have enough money in your account to pay your online bills
- Check for emails with important information concerning your online bills, and
- Write down any confirmation numbers you receive when you pay your bills online in case there’s any discrepancies with the payments.
6. Organize your Bills after Paying ThemYou might be tempted to throw away paid bills, but it’s important you hang on to them in case you need to reference them again in the future. File the paid bills and receipts away in a filing cabinet, keeping like bills together and in order.
7. Clear out Old BillsOnce a year, go through your file cabinet and get rid of all the old bills from the year before. This helps keep the accumulation of papers to a minimum and makes room for the next year’s paid bills. Be sure to shred anything that contains personal information before disposing of it.
If you’re starting your real estate investing portfolio later in life, you may not have as much time to be as successful as you’d like to be, so be sure you consider the following points first.
Time is More Important than Money in Real Estate InvestingAs stated before, it takes time to really be successful in real estate investing. You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time. You get the time you get and that’s it.
Using the example below, which one would you choose?
Example A: You’re 30-something with $10,000 in the bank. You have the ability to save another $10,000 a year after that.
Example B: You’re in your early 60s with $500,000 in the bank, but you only have the ability to save about $50,000 a year after that.
Most people would choose Example A because there is more time to save a greater amount of money. The younger a person is when they begin investing, the more opportunity there is to take advantage of compounding options to increase wealth. Later in life, these options are limited as there is not as much time.
The Older You Get the More Conservative You BecomeFor most people, age brings with it conservatism. This isn’t to say that if you’re a natural risk taker that you all of a sudden become conservative but getting older does tend to make people more conservative and less likely to take risks. This switch is likely due to the shrinking time frame you have to accomplish your goals.
As an example, if you’re in your 30s, you have a good 30 years to make investments, take a loss or two, and land back on your feet financially before retirement. If you’re only a few years from retirement, you’ll be less likely to take that kind of risk knowing there isn’t enough time to recoup. To compensate for this limitation, some older investors think that taking on a higher-yielding investment is the right idea. Unfortunately, higher yield usually means higher risk, which is exactly what you don’t want to do at this stage in your life.
Age plays a huge role in real estate investing as the younger you are, the more time you have to build a strong portfolio. Time is far more important than money in this case as you can’t make or buy more of it. And since time is not on your side as you grow older, your options for investing become limited as well.
If you’re thinking of getting in on real estate investing later in life, make sure you’ve considered the points listed above as it’s very likely you won’t achieve the results you’re looking for.
With that said, no great room is truly great without a little TLC. Below, we divulge a few suggestions that are sure to make your great room… well… great!
Light And Bright Is KeyTo make your great room look and feel large and open, keeping it light and bright is key. If you’re building an open floor plan into your home, be sure the great room has plenty of windows to allow as much natural light to flood the space as possible.
Of course, you’ll want to add the appropriate window coverings to filter and block the light as needed for things like TV viewing or to keep that hot afternoon sun at bay.
Make The Tv Part Of The DecorNo great room is complete without a TV, and of course, it’ll need to be strategically placed for proper Netflix watching on the weekends. With that said, consider mounting the TV on the wall as if it were a piece of artwork. Build its placement into the surrounding wall décor so it looks to be a part of the décor and not something out of place.
If your great room includes a fireplace, consider hanging a low-profile large-screen TV above it for an impressive and interesting display.
Multi-purpose FurnishingsA great room is designed to be multi-functional with many activities taking place there at any given time. In one area, someone may be watching TV, while across the room, someone else may be doing homework at the dining table.
Keep this in mind as you choose furniture for your great room. The upholstered dining chairs you love may not be a practical fit if the dining table will be used for messy activities like crafting, so think about this and choose furniture that fits your and your family’s needs best.
Your home’s great room can be anything you want it to be. That’s the beauty of the space. Follow the tips above to make it the greatest room possible.