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.
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.
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.
Real Estate Investing – Pros and Cons
When you invest in real estate, you own physical property. Whether it’s a parcel of land, a residential property, or a commercial building, it’s something you can touch and use. This aspect is why real estate investment is more appealing than stocks for many investors. Pros
- Investing in real estate is tangible. You can touch it, live in it, and drive by it with your friends
- It’s more difficult to fall victim to fraud when you invest in real estate because you can see your investment, conduct background checks on tenants, and ensure the building exists before purchasing.
- Using leverage in buying real estate is much safer than buying stocks on margin.
- Real estate investments make great inflation hedges.
- Real estate investing is a lot of work when it comes to maintaining and managing properties.
- If your investment property is unoccupied, you still have to pay monthly expenses like utilities, taxes, insurance, etc. without any rent coming in.
- Real estate doesn’t really increase in value very fast. What makes it attractive is the power of leverage and its potential to increase in value if inflation rises.
Investing in Stocks – the Pros and Cons
When you invest in stocks, you are buying a percentage of a company. It doesn’t matter what the company does, if the company makes a profit, you receive dividends based on the number of stocks you purchased. Pros
- Despite the risk, history has repeatedly shown that investing in stocks is the fastest way to increase wealth. By reinvesting dividends over a long period of time, you increase your chances of amassing virtually unlimited wealth.
- Stock investing requires little work beyond researching the companies you invest in.
- Investing and reinvesting in high-quality stocks can create an impressive residual cashflow that requires no work on your part.
- Investing in stocks requires less money upfront than real estate investing.
- It’s much easier to sell stocks than it is to sell real estate. You can sell stocks over and over in a matter of minutes, whereas it could take weeks or even months to sell a property.
- You can borrow against your stocks a lot easier than you can borrow against your property. It’s called borrowing on margin and it’s almost as easy as writing a check against your bank account.
- Investing in the stock market is stressful. Most investors are too emotional and fickle to really be successful in playing the stock market.
- The cost of investing in stocks can fluctuate drastically.
- Sometimes it’s difficult to see a return on your investment when you invest in stocks. However, if you reinvest your dividends to buy more stocks in a company, you’ll own a bigger portion of the company and receive bigger returns over time.
1. Make it a point to know what your policy covers.If you don’t know what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers, make it a point to find out. Don’t wait until something bad happens and then hope it’s covered. Basic policies cover things like fire and storm damage, vandalism and theft. It also provides liability coverage in the event that someone gets hurt while visiting your property. Should you get temporarily misplaced from your home for some reason, your homeowner’s insurance policy pays shelter costs so you don’t have to pay outrageous hotel bills until you can get back home.
Homeowner’s insurance policies also cover things outside your home, too. For instance, if an airline loses your laptop, or something is stolen from your vehicle, your homeowner’s insurance will likely cover these items.
2. Understand what the policy doesn’t cover.While your homeowner’s insurance policy covers a lot of things, it does not cover some rather important things at the same time. Not understanding what your policy doesn’t cover can cause great financial loss should anything such as earth movement (earthquake, landslide, sinkhole), war, power failure, government action, nuclear damage, faulty repair or bad workmanship, flooding*, or bad zoning occur and your policy doesn’t provide adequate protection.
*Flooding and water damage can be questionable. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover water damage caused by water falling from above. For instance, a leaky or burst water pipe or rainfall damage is covered, whereas ground flooding or sewer backup is not. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, you must purchase supplemental coverage in order to be covered in the event your home is damaged by flooding.
3. Shop around.When deciding on a homeowner’s insurance policy, it pays to not only shp for the best price, but also for the best service. Of course you want to pay as little as possible for your policy, but dealing with an agent who is empathetic and friendly makes a bad situation a little less terrible. Be sure to check reviews online of the company and agent you plan to do business with, or ask friends and/or family members for recommendations.
4. Keep records of everything.Many a claim against a homeowner’s insurance policy gets denied because the holder fails to provide adequate documentation. In the event of damage or loss, you must document everything that takes place. Write down dates, times and names of people you talk to who have anything to do with the process. Keep every receipt, estimate contract and appraisal in a safe, secure location. If you don’t have a safe to keep paper documents, consider using a digital service such as Dropbox.
5. Don’t wait to file a claim.Many homeowner’s insurance policies have time limitations in which to file claims, especially when waiting could potentially make damage worse. For example, if you notice water damage from a leaky pipe, make a claim right away so it can be fixed. If you wait too long, a small bit of water damage will get worse, resulting in mold and mildew. Your insurance company could decide you waited too long and refuse to pay for the repairs.
If you currently invest in real estate this way, that’s great. The reality is, however, that most investors rarely have that kind of cash for a down payment. In fact, the most successful investors are extremely creative when it comes to financing their deals. You can buy an investment property with very little cash on hand, and below are five ways to buy your first investment property for cheap.
Seller FinancingSeller financing is one of the most popular ways for someone to buy investment property. Essentially, as the name suggests, the seller provides the financing and sets the terms of the deal. In most cases, an investor needs little to no money down in order to obtain ownership of the property in a seller-financed deal. This option is especially beneficial for investors with less-than-perfect credit or those who lack enough capital for a traditional down payment.
WholesalingWholesaling is another way investors make a profit in the real estate market. In this venture, the real estate investor never really owns the property, but instead, contracts with the seller to find a buyer. Once the investor finds a buyer, he then signs the contract over to them and collects his profit, which is the difference between the seller’s contracted price and what the buyer actually pays.
Equity Joint VentureThis is one of the best ways to own investment property without having to put a lot of money down. In an equity joint venture, two or more parties contribute funds to make the down payment. Percentage of ownership depends on the number of parties involved, but each shares gains and losses according to his or her percentage.
Private LoanOf all the strategies for buying investment property for cheap, this one is the most beneficial. A private loan is a loan between a private lender and the investor. Terms of the loan are much more negotiable than traditional bank loans, and you often have the option of negotiating a no-payment period for up to one year, which allows you to make repairs and get the property ready for occupancy before making any payments.
Home Equity Line Of CreditIf you have equity in the home you live in, you can purchase an investment property using that equity. This type of loan typically carries a very low interest rate and payments are usually low as well since they are interest-only payments.
Many investors use this strategy to buy investment properties by obtaining a line of credit on a property that’s already paid off. Banks like this type of loan because they are usually first mortgages. The best way to utilize a home equity line of credit is to purchase and repair the rental property, and then refinance it with a more permanent type of loan.
There are many ways to buy your first investment property for cheap. If your dream is to own investment property, don’t disqualify yourself just because you don’t have enough capital for a 20-percent down payment. Consider the options above to make your dream a reality.
1. You May Not Find New Constructions In The MLSThe average seller typically has an agent who lists their home with the local MLS. Builders of new construction homes, however, want more control and save money, so they usually have their own salespeople right on site. For buyers, this means new homes won’t show in their agent’s MLS search.
If you’ve got an agent and you’re interested in purchasing a new construction home, be sure they explore every avenue, so you find all the new homes available in a given area.
2. New Homes Often Sell Before They’re BuiltIndividual new home constructions are often a part of a community or subdivision. This means there will likely be many homes similar to each other in size and design before the project is complete. In the beginning, the builder will get the financing and selling procedures lined up and begin selling the homes, often before they are even built. They will build model homes for buyers to look at and get a feel for what their homes would be like.
If you decide you’re ready to move forward with the purchase of a new construction home, you’ll likely need to put a deposit down that could be as much as 10 percent of the purchase price.
3. First Buyers Get The Best DealsBecause it’s important at the beginning of a project to get a few homes under contract, builders will often be more willing to negotiate a lower asking price than later on in the project. Getting several houses under contract looks good to the bank financing the project as well.
Being a first buyer, however, does come with some risk. Once you contract for a new home, you’re committed to the project. Should something happen that forces you to back out or should sales stall for some reason, you could lose your deposit.
4. You May Be Able To Negotiate UpgradesIf you’re interested in buying a new construction home in a project that’s nearing the end of its sales cycle, it’s more difficult to negotiate a lower purchase price. However, you may be able to get discounts in the form of upgrades instead. Don’t be afraid to ask for hardwood floors instead of carpeting or higher-end appliances to get more bang for your buck. For many homebuyers, new construction homes could be the right choice.
1. Do Your Part To Support Neighborhood Watch ProgramsWhether you’re a local landlord or one that lives in a different state than your investment property, you can still support the local neighborhood watch programs that work to keep your tenants safe. You can encourage your tenants to become active members, and contribute physically (if you can) and financially to the cause.
2. Sponsor Local Youth ProgramsIf you have long-term goals as a landlord, you need to do your part to support the youth in the surrounding community. Look for local boy and/or girl scout troops to donate financially to or contribute to an after-school program in the area. The benefits of supporting and encouraging today’s youth go far beyond increasing the value of your investment.
3. Take To Social MediaYou don’t need to spend hours upon hours tweeting on Twitter or posting on Facebook, but every once in a while, it’s nice to share good news about the community with the people who care. As a landlord, it’s your job to encourage your neighbors and share the news that affects them most.
4. Take Care Of Your Front YardHow your property looks to others is almost as important as the amenities you offer inside. When your front yard is well-manicured, it shows your tenants and your neighbors that you care as well as increases the security of the property. If you don’t have the time it takes to maintain the curb appeal of your rental property, it’s a wise and financially sound decision to hire a professional for the job.
5. Don’t Ignore NeglectIf you notice obvious signs of neglect in the surrounding neighborhood, don’t ignore it. Speak up and let the right people know about it. Even if it’s just a burnt-out street light or an overgrown lawn, make sure it’s taken care of so the rest of the neighborhood doesn’t follow suit.
When you own an investment property, your obligation doesn’t end at the curb. The surrounding neighborhood plays a big role in the value of your property, so it’s also your obligation to put effort forth to encourage and foster its growth. Use the tips above to build equity by investing in the community surrounding your property.
Are Neutral Colors The Answer?Each color has the ability to generate either positive or negative feelings. It’s important then, to choose a color that not only enhances the appearance of your home but also evokes positive emotions.
Many homeowners feel that painting the walls a neutral color is the answer. While it does enable the buyer to easily envision his belongings in your home, neutral colors can be boring, especially when the buyer has already seen several houses all painted in shades of neutral. Primary and secondary colors also make great wall colors, too.
What Do Primary Colors Say?Reds
Although the color red is a strong color with a reputation for boosting self-confidence, it can be overwhelming for homebuyers. Often used in restaurants to stimulate appetite, red used in a home can be over-stimulating and agitating.
Pink, on the other hand, is a nice choice since it is soothing and promotes understanding. However, as pink is considered a feminine color, it could be off-putting to male buyers.
Almost every shade of blue instills a positive impression. Dark blues are thoughtful and promote concentration, while lighter blues bring about tranquility. Aqua blues are also a good choice since they also help with deep thinking.
Yellow is a great color because it boosts brain function, stimulates intelligence, and enhances focus. Brighter shades, however, may distract and overwhelm homebuyers, especially if they are used on large walls.
How Do Homebuyers Perceive Secondary Colors?Oranges
Orange is a positive color as its cheerful nature is associated with celebration and youth. It instills confidence and creativity. Although orange is a great color choice, it can be a distraction if used too much throughout the home.
Add an elite vibe to your home by painting the walls purple. Darker shades are often associated with royalty or celebrities, while softer shades such as lavender foster humanity and encourages connectivity.
Shades of green tend to evoke feelings of wealth. Whether it’s wealth of well-being or money, darker shades of green give the impression of stability, good health, and rejuvenation. Shy away from bright greens, however, as too much isn’t always a good thing.
As a final note, it’s always a good idea to paint your home’s walls when selling to get rid of any scratches and nicks that make them look shabby. A fresh coat of paint, no matter the color, always gives a fresh, new life to old walls and, barring any off-the-wall color choices, promotes a positive first impression for prospective buyers.
If you’re selling your home, pay close attention to the four mistakes to avoid below so you don’t end up with the short end of the stick.
1. Asking The Wrong Price For Your HouseIt can be difficult knowing what price to set for your home. Several factors go into the price including the appraisal, the current market, and more. To ensure you’re setting a fair price for your home, it’s important to do a little homework to find out what similar homes in the area are selling for. This information, along with your home’s appraisal will help you set an asking price that will attract potential buyers and get you the most money for your home.
2. Not Taking Advantage Of Social Media MarketingIf you think a simple sign in your front yard is enough to sell your home, you’re sadly mistaken. You never know who is moving to your area from somewhere else in the world, so your marketing scheme needs to span wider than just your local market.
Use social media to post your house for sale. Be sure to include high-quality photos that illustrate your home at its best. Outdoor pictures should feature a well-kempt yard and landscaping, while the indoor shots need to highlight the best things about the house.
For example, if your home has a lot of natural lighting, daytime pictures are a must. Avoid posting photos of untidy or cluttered spaces. To that end, it’s best to de-clutter and clean before even putting your house on the market.
3. Not Making Much-Needed RepairsNothing turns buyers off more than walking into a house in need of obvious repair. Unless a buyer is looking for a fixer-upper (most aren’t), it’s best to make sure all maintenance and repairs are done before ever showing the house.
Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls if they are peeling or stained. Clean out the gutters and have the roof repaired, if need be. Anything you can do to improve the appearance of the home will greatly improve your chances of selling it faster and for a much higher price.
4. Not Being Hospitable To Potential BuyersThe more hospitable you are to potential buyers, the more likely they will be to strike a deal on your home. It’s called common courtesy, and everyone that enters your home deserves it.
Welcome homebuyers to your home and provide cold drinks and snacks. Avoid following them as they walk through your home as it makes most people uncomfortable. Give them plenty of time to look at the house on their own, and when they are finished, be sure to thank them for looking.
Selling a house can be exhausting work and many homeowners make mistakes that could cost them dearly. Follow the tips above to avoid making some of the more common mistakes when selling your own home.
Below, we explore several helpful tips to make the home inspection process easy.
Get the Most Out of the Home InspectionIn most cases, a home inspection isn’t required, but having one done protects you (the buyer) from purchasing a home with underlying, expensive issues that’ll be your responsibility to fix after you sign on the dotted line. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your home inspection.
- Be present – you aren’t required to be at the home inspection but being there when it takes place lets you see the issues for yourself.
- Prepare yourself – bring a blank checklist and write down any questions you may have to ask the inspector once the inspection is complete.
- Review seller disclosures – take some time to look at any disclosures the sellers have made. Ask the inspector to pay special attention to these areas. If the home is a foreclosure, there likely won’t be any disclosures.
- Don’t interrupt the inspector – Allow the inspector to do his job. Reserve questions until after the inspection is complete.
- Ask questions – after the inspection is finished, ask any questions you may have before the inspector leaves. Have the inspector point out any major issues so you can see them for yourself.
A Personal Home Inspection ChecklistHaving your own checklist of things to look at during the inspection will help address any concerns you may have. You can pass these concerns on to the inspector so he can pay special attention to these areas.
- Water damage – Look for evidence of water leaks or damage. Stains, bubbling, cracks, etc. in walls, ceilings, cabinets, attic, basement, below windows, etc.
- Appliances and major systems – make sure everything works
- Signs of age – old wiring, old windows, few outlets, cast iron plumbing
- Roof – look for damage or stains. How old is the roof? How soon will it need to be replaced?
- Water damage – foundation damage, mold, mildew, rot
- Foundation – cracks, raised foundation/walls, trees near the home (roots cause damage you can’t see)
The Cost of a Home InspectionBecause the home inspection is designed to protect the buyer, the buyer is responsible for the cost of the inspection. With that said, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 for the inspection depending on the location of the home and its size and condition.
If you suspect anything like pest infestation, you’ll need a specialty inspection, which will cost extra. Specialty inspections aren’t usually included in a pre-sale visual home inspection.
Don’t let the cost deter you from getting a specialty inspection if you suspect something is wrong with the property. The last thing you want to do is end up with a home that needs major work before you can even move in.
The home inspection is an important, straightforward part of the homebuying process. Keep the above tips in mind as you prepare for your home’s inspection.
Your home should be a place to collect your thoughts and refresh your mind and body. As such, bringing Mother Nature into your home is a great way to make your indoor space into a sanctuary. Here are several ideas that will help you bring nature into your home.
1. Build Around A TreeThe idea isn’t new, but it is timeless. If you’re building your dream home, try building it around a large tree to instantly bring the beauty and ambiance of nature indoors.
2. Kitchen Herb GardenTo bring nature into your kitchen, plant an herb garden along a wall or two. Hanging flower boxes make for the perfect garden setting, and when stuffed with fresh growing herbs like thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, basil, and tarragon, you might be inspired to release your inner chef.
3. Build A GreenhouseGreenhouses aren’t just for commercial growers. You can build one in your home or in your yard where fresh fruits and vegetables abound and beautiful flowers spring forth. There’s nothing quite like harvesting home-grown veggies in the summer and cutting fresh flowers for the table in the winter.
4. Choose Rustic FinishesRustic touches such as a natural wood countertop or a wood paneled accent wall can transform a room from cold and uninviting to warm and welcoming in an instant.
5. Bring In A Houseplant Or TwoEven if you don’t have a green thumb, there are many varieties of houseplants that can thrive in an indoor environment with little care. Spider plants, for example, require little care but will add a lovely natural touch to the space and will improve air quality, too.
6. Choose Earthy ColorsEarth tones such as shades of gray, green, and blue bring a sense of nature into the home, lending a soothing vibe to any room.
7. Use Raw Wood AccentsRaw wood accents such as reclaimed barn wood beams, trim, and cabinetry can give a room a warm atmosphere that’s both rustic and beautiful. Most people marvel at the effect old barn wood has as a décor accent in a country home.
8. Use Natural FibersAdding natural fibers to a room is an easy way to bring the outdoors in. Wicker furniture, woven sea grass rugs, faux fur, etc. are all nature-inspired fibers that instill a sense of the great outdoors inside your home.
9. Incorporate A Water FeatureThe sound of running water works wonders to soothe and relax. Try adding a desktop fountain or, if possible, build an actual babbling brook right through the center of your home.
10. Nature-inspired ArtAnother easy and effective way to bring the beauty of nature into your home is to hang nature-inspired artwork on the walls. From a simple sunset landscape to wildlife shots and nature scenes, you are only limited by your own imagination.
1. Arranging And Decorating The Living RoomSince the living room is usually where family and guests hang out, it should convey a welcoming atmosphere. If the TV is the focus of your living room, be sure to surround it with plenty of elegant, comfortable furniture. Use end tables and/or a coffee table to provide plenty of space for drinks, making sure each table is proportionate to the furniture it sits beside.
2. Choosing Wall ColorsWall colors inside your home should invoke positive feelings. Avoid choosing colors based on how they look in the store, but rather how the swatches look in your own home. It’s always good to remember that lighter colors should be used over the majority of a room, while darker colors should be used to accent one wall or special areas of interest.
3. Adding Curtains For EmphasisCurtains aren’t just for covering the windows. When chosen correctly, they can really jazz up the appearance in any room. Choose matching curtains or drapes for subtle décor or opt instead for coordinating colors or patterns for a dramatic effect that draws the eye and wows the viewer.
4. FlooringToday’s home improvement stores carry so many flooring options it can be hard to choose. While this may sound overwhelming, it can be fun browsing the options to find a suitable floor for your home. The only rule of thumb here is to choose something that enhances the beauty of the room’s décor while being easy to care for in the long-term.
5. Adding Plants And FlowersGreen plants have a calming effect on the senses, making the room feel more comfortable and relaxing. You can add an array of green plants to your home to enhance its appeal and increase its comfort quotient.
Alternately, flowers also add to the appeal in any room. While fresh flowers are nice, artificial ones last longer. The only thing you must remember is to clean them periodically, so they stay looking good.
6. Hang Contemporary ArtWhether you’re an art lover or not, hanging pieces of contemporary art is a great way to add a contemporary flair to any room. If you’re an artist yourself, don’t be afraid to hang some of your own framed work on the walls, too.
7. Decorate Your Ceiling FansWhile ceiling fans add some sense of style to the rooms in your home, they can be somewhat boring. Up the ante, by decorating the blades of your ceiling fans to coordinate with the rooms they hang in.
Using fabric and some Mod Podge or a matching color of paint, cover the blades, allow them to dry, and enjoy the oohs and aahs you get when guests stop by.
You don’t have to have a lot of money to make it look like you live in a modern house. Using one or all of the tips above, you can add a contemporary touch to any room in your home and make your home look more appealing to family and guests.
1. Heated FloorsSure, slippers were invented for a reason, but once you’ve lived in a home with heated floors, you’ll throw every single pair you own in the trash.
Heated floors are more than just a luxury. They are energy-efficient and help lower your heating bills in the winter. While the initial expense might sound like a lot, heated floors pay for themselves via your energy savings in a very short time.
2. Dimmer SwitchesInstalling dimmer switches in your home is probably the cheapest upgrade on this list. However, don’t underestimate the impact it will have. You’ll be surprised at how much changing the lighting in a room can change the ambiance instantly. If you hate how harsh your overhead lighting is, try installing a dimmer switch and see how warm and cozy the room becomes.
3. A MudroomHaving a functional mudroom is something that many people overlook. This room is especially helpful when it’s situated between the house and the garage. A mudroom is meant to get a little messy, so whether someone is coming home from the gym, coming in from the garden, or shoveling snow, the mudroom catches all the dirt and mess before it enters your home.
4. A Finished BasementIf the basement in your home is unfinished, it may seem like the only thing it’s good for is storage. Give the space a little TLC, however, and it’ll change the way you live in your home forever.
A finished basement gives everyone extra space to live the way they want. If you add separate rooms down there, it’ll open up even more possibilities for its use.
5. Upper-Level LaundrySure, having a dedicated laundry room is nice, but having one on the second floor right outside the bedrooms? Priceless!
Doing laundry is so much easier since there’s no need to lug heavy loads of laundry up and down the stairs.
6. Double Sinks in the BathroomOnce you’ve experienced the convenience of a double sink, you’ll never be able to go back to a single again. Having a double sink in the bathroom makes sharing the space with a partner or roommate tolerable, especially when it comes to coordinating spit and rinse cycles while brushing. If you have the space, installing a double sink in your master bath is definitely worth considering.
Many smart homeowners make upgrades to their homes. Unfortunately, not all upgrades are worth the time or expense you put in. Avoid luxury upgrades that require a lot of maintenance (like the hot tub) and instead, focus on projects like the ones mentioned above that are totally worth the consideration.
1. Do You Have Time And Money To Prepare The Floor Professionally?When you hear of a painted floor that didn’t last, likely, it wasn’t prepared properly in the beginning. Preparing the floor correctly is the key to getting a painted floor to last a long time. If you don’t know how to prepare the floor correctly, hiring a professional to do it will greatly improve the chances that your floor will last. Even if your budget doesn’t allow for an entire professionally completed project, consider hiring a professional for the preparation part to ensure a good result.
2. Do You Have A Historical Home?If you own a historical home with original flooring, keeping it as-is is often preferred. That said, historical homes often have additions with newer flooring that can be painted to enhance modernization or keep with the historical décor.
3. The Room’s Natural LightIf you have a small, dark room that gets little natural light, painting the floor a bright shade (white or off-white) will help bounce light around, so it feels bigger.
4. How Thin Are Your Wood Floors?If the original wood floors in your home have already been refinished several times, it could be that they are too thin to refinish again. In this case, rather than the expense and hassle of replacing them, painting offers a way to breathe new life into old floors without breaking your budget.
5. Your Modern Home Lacks CharmNew constructions can lack charm and history, so painting the floors can give yours the character it lacks. Consider a design that works with your home’s architectural style, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your painted floors.
6. Are Your Floors Damaged Beyond Repair?If your floors are damaged beyond repair or they are structurally unsound, painting them only covers up the problem without addressing the real issues. If they are warped or uneven, paint won’t be able to cover them. If your floors are beyond repair, it’s best to bite the bullet and get them fixed, so they look great and you know they can support you and your belongings the way they should.
7. Will You Want To Go Back To The Original Floor?Painting is pretty permanent, so if there’s a chance you’ll want to go back to your original finish, it’s a good idea to skip this project. If you do paint your floors and ever want to “undo” it, keep in mind that it’ll be another major undertaking to do so, and there’s no guarantee the floor will be the same as it once was.
A Dedicated WorkspaceWorking from home is something many companies embrace. As such, a large portion of the population now works from home, at least on a part-time basis. For millennials, a home must contain a dedicated workspace complete with plenty of outlets and room for shelving.
If your home contains a spare room, adding a few tweaks here and there to make the space feel like a home office is recommended. If no spare room is available, a nook or something similar in a kitchen that has good lighting works, too. The space doesn’t have to be large, just something an up-and-coming remote worker can picture themselves using daily.
A Smart HomeMillennials are all about the digital age, and as a result, they crave smart technology. From smart thermostats and keyless locks to smart doorbells and more, millennials appreciate the convenience and added security these smart options bring to a home.
If you’re hoping your home appeals to the millennial generation, be ready to discuss your smart home features as well as the wi-fi carriers and signal strengths in your neighborhood.
Charging PortsThe younger generation has their smartphones with them all the time. As such, these devices need regular charging to keep up. Switching out some of the regular outlets in your home with USB outlets will be a huge plus with the millennial generation.
Adding USB charging ports in bedrooms, living spaces, and in the kitchen is a great way to market to the millennial generation.
Neutral Color PaletteA neutral color scheme is very popular among millennials. If you want to appeal to this group of buyers, consider giving the rooms in your home a fresh coat of paint in a palette of gray variations, white, and soft neutrals throughout. If your kitchen has cabinets in vibrant or dark hues, think about painting them a lighter, neutral color and switch out the hardware for a look most millennials will appreciate.
Outdoor Living SpaceIf you want to hook younger buyers, having an outdoor living space where they can spend time entertaining family and friends is a must. Whether your yard is big or small, millennials will be able to see themselves hanging out in it around a fire pit in comfortable seating under some urban-chic lighting. Even if you’ve never used your yard like this before, it pays to stage a space like this in your backyard while selling your home.
Since millennials make up a large portion of homebuyers, it makes sense to market to them as much as possible when selling your home. Add a few of these upgrades and/or renovations to your home to appeal to this generational group.
1. You Don’t Have to Work So Hard to Market Your PropertyThe sheer nature of a college town sells itself. With high walkability ratings, these towns are full of restaurants, entertainment, and shopping. Finding renters in a college town is really easy because there’s always an abundance of people hoping to find housing close to the school and all the activity.
2. There’s No Shortage of Potential RentersMany students relocate when they enter college. A good majority of them come from far away, which means they need somewhere to live while they attend school. Renting is the obvious option since most of these students will either return home or move away after graduation. Even if a renter moves out of your unit, there’s always another waiting to move in immediately.
Aside from the student body, there’s also the school’s staff and faculty, as well as graduate students. While many of these people are longer-term residents, they may still prefer to rent rather than buy.
3. You Can Maintain Competitive Rental RatesBecause there’s such a high demand to live in the area, you can set and maintain competitive rental rates that keep up with the going market value.
4. Vacancy Rates are LowRenting in a college area is a balancing act because vacancy rates tend to climb during the summer months when students return home for the break. You can avoid this pitfall of renting to college students by making them sign a year-long lease. This obligates your renters to year-round occupancy, so you don’t have to worry about vacancies during the offseason.
The Risks of Buying Property in a College TownAs with any investment, there are risks to be aware of when buying property in a college town.
1. College Students are Notorious for Causing Property DamageWhile renting in a college town has many benefits, no landlord is immune to the property damage college students almost always cause while living in a rental unit. You can offset this damage by factoring it into the security deposit you require when they sign a lease.
2. You May Have to Dedicate More Time to Finding RentersCollege students move around a lot, so you may have to spend more time looking for new renters than you would in another area. The good news is, there’s usually no shortage of prospective tenants waiting to rent your property.
3. It Can Be Difficult Finding Renters for the Summer MonthsAs stated before, summertime tends to result in more vacancies as students return home for the break. Having tenants sign a year-long lease solves the problem of seasonal vacancies in a college area.
4. College Students Can Be DemandingBecause they’ve never lived away from home before, college students tend to have a lot of questions and be quite demanding when it comes to needing something. It’s easiest if you live nearby so you can address their needs quickly, or if you can’t live nearby, hire a reputable management company to handle all the landlord responsibilities in your place.
If you’re an investor looking to increase your earning potential, consider buying rental property in college areas. While there are some risks involved, there are ways around them to make investing in college town real estate a smart move.
1.SimplicityNow, we’re not talking four bare walls and a chair here, but modern home décor is simple and minimalistic. Studies have shown that clutter can lead to stress, which is something modern home décor does not contribute to.
As you go about redecorating, remember that less is more and try to keep things as clutter-free as possible.
2. FunctionalityFunctionality is important in modern home décor. In addition to the clean lines and clutter-free spaces, you also want to make sure your room(s) are easily identifiable as to their use and that their various features and elements are easily accessible.
For example, a modern kitchen will have plenty of workspaces, and all its equipment and tools will be readily available.
3. TechnologyWhat is modern décor without technology? Technology is a huge part of everyday life, so it makes sense that it should be part of your modern home décor. It’s not enough to just say “technology,” though, but rather, technology that is streamlined (think flat-panel TVs and built-in computers) to keep those clean lines modern home décor is all about.
4. Open SpaceThis design element may not be possible in some homes, but modern home décor has an open and airy vibe. Large, open rooms with light color palettes and plenty of natural lighting work to create that feeling of freedom and openness that modern home décor is known for.
Even if your home has small, enclosed rooms, you can create that feeling of openness by using light, neutral colors and keeping windows uncovered to allow as much natural light to flood the space as possible. You can also hang mirrors on the wall to reflect the light, which will add depth to the room and make it appear larger than it actually is.
5. CharacterAlthough modern home décor’s main focus is neutral, there’s no reason not to explore your wild side by adding a pop of color here and there for character. An accent wall painted a nice red or throw pillows in a bright yellow can add just the right amount of fun to an otherwise neutral palette for an exciting touch.
Creating modern home décor isn’t difficult, and you have a lot of room for creativity and personality. All you need to do is remember these five design elements and you’ll be able to achieve the modern décor you want in your own home.
So, what’s a person to do when they want a clean house but don’t want it at the planet’s expense?
The good news is there are sustainable ways to clean your house, and we’ve listed some of them below.
Eco-friendly Ceiling Fan CleaningThe ceiling fan collects an exorbitant amount of dust on top of its blades. This dust goes everywhere every time you turn the fan on. Dusting the blades regularly will help keep the dust to a minimum.
Start by placing an old pillowcase over one of the blades. As you pull the pillowcase down the length of the blade, brush it over the top to pull dust inside. This will keep the dust from contaminating the air. Avoid using commercial dusting sprays as they release harmful fumes into the environment.
Cleaning Windows The Green WayNobody likes doing windows, but this is one of the easiest chores to do sustainably.
Get yourself some old newspapers to use in place of paper towels. Next, mix two-parts water and one-part white vinegar in a spray bottle to use as a window cleaner. Lastly, spray the window with the solution and use a few sheets of newspaper to wipe it clean.
Once you try this sustainable cleaning hack, you’ll wonder how you lived without it before because your windows will be sparkling!
Gently Remove Water Rings From Wood FurnitureThere’s nothing quite as irritating as someone not using a coaster and leaving water rings on your coffee table. You can remove these unsightly stains quickly and easily using this eco-friendly cleaning hack.
Mix one-part baking soda and one-part water to form a paste. Gently rub the stain with the paste until it disappears.
Cleans Stains From FurnitureLeather furniture can be a challenge to clean as the fabric is delicate and cannot be scrubbed. To effectively remove stains from leather furniture, mix white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use a soft cloth to buff the stain away.
For fabric furnishings, remove stains the green way by mixing a solution of washing soap, water, and vinegar and using a soft brush or sponge to coax the stain out of the fibers. Avoid aggressive scrubbing as it can damage the fabric and leave behind a noticeable patch.
Eco-friendly Carpet DeodorizerLeave vacuuming for last, as all the cleaning you’ve done thus far has likely released dust into the air that has settled on the floor. Before you vacuum, however, sprinkle a light dusting of baking soda over the carpet and let it sit for 10 minutes or so to eliminate unpleasant odors within the fibers. Finally, vacuum the carpet to enjoy a dust-free, freshened atmosphere.
The sustainable cleaning tips above are a great start to creating an eco-friendly environment in your home. For more green cleaning tips, do a Google search to reveal a multitude of sustainable household cleaning hacks.