Category — Real Estate News & Tips

4 Reasons To Redo Your Master Bath

4 Reasons To Redo Your Master Bath Pixabay.com

Many of us hold off on doing any renovations or updates to our home because we don’t want to spend the money. Oftentimes, those updates don’t happen until we’re getting ready to sell our house – which is sad, because it means you don’t get to enjoy the updates yourself. When it comes to the master bath, it’s often the last place that gets done, period, because we so often focus on kitchens and spaces that guests more commonly see. But, you deserve to luxuriate in that sparkling new tub and gaze at those pretty countertops now – not just on your way out the door to another home. And that’s only one reason to start updating your master bath right away.

Because it gives good ROI

Like any other renovation, your return on investment will depend on how good of a job you do. Make poor choices or do shoddy work and your reno likely won’t pay off. But make smart updates and you could see an average of a 70.1 percent return – one of the higher returns for reno project, according to the 2018 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine, which takes the pulse of renovations nationwide every year. That potential ROI is based on a spend of $19,134 for a “non-upscale” remodel. (Their upscale remodel of $61,662 yields an average return of 56.2%.)

Do some of the work yourself, get great deals on materials, and find other cost-cutting measures, and your ROI will be even greater. Also, if you’re turning a tiny shower into a large, luxurious one, adding a soaker tub to a bathroom that was missing a tub altogether, or turning a one-vanity space into a two-fer, you could be creating a space that will help attract buyers instead of turning them off. A bad master bath can make your home sale a bust.

Because you can do a lot of it yourself

Speaking of DIY, how handy are you? If your answer is, “not very,” you can still have a hand in doing some of your own updates, which will give you an added dose of pride and save you some cash. While plumbing and electrical are probably not going to be on your agenda if you’re not skilled in those areas, perhaps you can lay some new tile or at least do some demolition of the old, ugly stuff you’ve been wanting to get rid of forever.

Because you deserve to enjoy it before someone else does

Like we said…getting in there and updating your bathroom means you get first crack at the gorgeous new walk-in shower instead of turning the house over to somebody else as soon as the updates are done. It’s just not fair that you finally have the bathroom of your dreams, and you won’t get a chance to use it.

Because it’s easier than redoing your kitchen

We’re not saying you shouldn’t redo your kitchen. Especially if you’re going to sell your home sometime soon, you’re going to want to look into that. But your home (presumably) only has one kitchen, which can make renovations a huge hassle if you’re planning to live there while they’re being made. If you have more than one bathroom, you’ll still have a place to shower, shave, and shampoo, even if your master bath is a construction zone for a while. The dust is also typically less intrusive with a master bath reno because it’s not an open space like the kitchen, which makes it easier to stay put while the work is being done.

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1018302-20180702-4-reasons-to-redo-your-master-bath?rtmpage=

July 5, 2018   No Comments

Where Does Dust Come From? And How Do You Battle It?

Where does dust come from? You may be wondering that after wiping a fine layer off the coffee table you swear you just cleaned the day before. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or the burbs, dust will find its way into your home—and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Where does dust come from?

Dust is a combination of very fine, dry particles of matter found in the local environment. These particles are lighter than air and become visible only when they accumulate.

The vast majority of household dust is composed of the following:

  • Dead skin cells: Gross but true, we all naturally shed to generate new skin.
  • Pet dander: Like humans, pets naturally shed their skin.
  • Textile fibers: Your carpets, bedding, and clothing simply break down over time.
  • Dust mites and insect droppings: OK, now we’re really grossed out. Microscopic arachnids feed on human skin cells and release droppings.

Dust found outdoors is primarily made up of elements carried by the wind, including the following:

  • Soil or plant pollen: These are especially prevalent in spring.
  • Pollution: This heavy, black dust comes from the output of diesel fuel.
  • Mold spores: These come from soil and decaying vegetation.

Areas commonly missed during dusting

No matter how many feather dusters or sweeper mops you keep on hand, it’s impossible to completely rid your home of dust. Keeping windows and doors shut may prevent more dust from coming in, but it also prevents dust from blowing out. Your best defense is to dust once a week, especially in hidden or hard-to-reach areas.

Here’s a list of areas most people forget to clean.

Fans: Be it an oscillating fan, box fan, or ceiling fan, fan blades are a beacon for dust collection, says Kelly McClenahan, a storage and organizational expert at Price Self Storage. Carefully run a damp cloth over each blade to clean it.

Heating and cooling vents: Floor and ceiling vents are very susceptible to excessive dust. And, yes, this can contaminate the air you breathe. Clean the outside of vents by placing a damp cloth over your finger and running it over the vent and any slats. Clean inside air vents by rubbing your vent registers with a dryer sheet.

Houseplants: Your favorite ficus will accumulate some amount of dust over time, especially if it has larger leaves. You want to be delicate with the leaves, so use a hair dryer on the low and cool setting to blast off dust, says Rae Dolan, a real estate agent in Katy, TX.

In addition to getting clean, the plants will perk up after a good dusting because they will be able to absorb more sunshine.

Media players and devices: Dust on an electronic device equals problems because it can get into circuits, accumulate on sensors, and disrupt the flow of electricity. Use a microfiber towel to wipe down your electronics. To reach inside the nooks and crannies, use cotton swabs and a spray cleaner that’s safe for electronics.

Smoke alarm: Homeowners should clean their alarms once a year to keep them in good working order. Use compressed air or a vacuum cleaner hose to clean the openings around the alarm’s perimeter. Then wipe the outside with a cloth moistened only with water, as cleaners may damage the alarm.

Bathroom tiles: Yes, there is such a thing as “towel dust.” Towels tend to shed fluff, which sticks to the walls in a humid bathroom. Wipe down bathroom walls with a dry microfiber towel while the room is still damp.

Under area rugs: “You might be surprised by what is being collected under the living room rug,” says McClenahan. “You’ll find textile fibers, skin cells, and even soil from shoes.”

Be sure to vacuum underneath all rugs on a regular basis.

Blinds: Whether you have miniblinds, accordion blinds, or slat blinds, they can benefit from a good dusting. Try putting a sock over your hand and running it horizontally over each slat.

Outlet covers: If left full of dust long enough, they can develop a dirty-looking film. To clean them, remove the covers and wipe them down with soap and water. Let them dry thoroughly before putting them back on the wall.

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Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/where-does-dust-come-from/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest

 

June 28, 2018   No Comments

Annuals and Perennials: What’s the Difference? Flower Facts You Ought to Know

What’s the difference between annuals and perennials? If you’re a novice gardener, you’ve probably asked yourself that question when picking out flowers at your local garden store.

Annual and perennial are classifications based on the lifespan and bloom cycle of a particular flower. It’s something that gardeners need to pay particular attention to so they can make sure their blooms thrive.

Annuals and perennials bloom at different times and need to be maintained differently, so be sure you know what type of flower you’re planting before putting it in the ground (or flowerbed, or pot).

What kind of plants should you choose? We’re here to help you decide. Dig in to discover everything you ever wanted to know about annuals and perennials.

Annuals and perennials: What’s the difference?

The biggest difference is the length of time these two types of flowers live: Annuals last only one year and perennials come back every year.

Annuals produce constant color, while the blooming period for perennials is short (just six to eight weeks). And maintaining annuals is far less demanding than perennials, which require more work and are better prospect for active gardeners.

Annuals offer color

Annuals expend all of their energy in a single year, which gives them brighter colors, says Mark Ruibal of Ruibal’s Plants of Texas. But this also means they have a shorter lifespan. However, some annuals planted in the spring will make it all the way through the summer—it just depends on the type of flower.

While annuals look great in just about any garden on your property, a popular place to plant them is near the front porch, where their bright colors create curb appeal. Plus, you can change your color scheme once a year!

Not sure which annuals to plant? Our experts recommend starting with these:

  • Angelonia
  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Calibrachoa
  • Coleus
  • Dragon wing begonia
  • Impatiens
  • Marigolds
  • Petunia
  • Torenia
  • Vinca

Note: Depending on your location, some of these annuals might be considered perennials. So, it’s best to read the plant’s tag and talk to your garden center expert about which blooms will thrive in your climate.

Perennials come back each year

Perennials will bloom in their peak season and then go back to green. You can divide your perennials into three seasons of blooms, Ruibal says—spring, summer, and fall—so you always have a portion of the perennials in peak form. That also means you’ll have a garden that encourages pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all year round.

Perennials are a better choice if you have the time and patience to maintain them. They have spreading roots that usually require more water and fertilization than annuals, and regular pruning is also a must. They can also get damaged during an unusually wet winter, so you need to make sure there’s good drainage; otherwise, the flowers’ roots will rot.

“That’s the biggest problem for why mums don’t come back,” says Rick Effinger of Effinger Garden Center in Belleville, IL.

Here are some perennial suggestions:

  • Astilbe
  • Butterfly weed
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Dianthus
  • Fern
  • Hardy geranium
  • Hardy hibiscus
  • Heuchera
  • Hosta
  • Milkweed
  • Mum
  • Nepeta
  • Sedum
  • Shasta daisy

Tips for planting

Before adding plants to your garden, check the plant’s tag for information about sunlight and height. Figure out how much light your yard gets (specifically the area you want to plant in) and then choose plants accordingly.

Some thrive in the direct sunlight. Others like partial sun, while still others prefer the shade.

Also, look at the eventual height of that plant to make sure it fits your garden. You don’t want a plant to take over your garden and leave full sun plants in the shade. If you get a tall perennial, put it in the back of the bed with shorter items in front so that they can enjoy the sun, says Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, MO.

No matter what type of flower you plant, you must make sure to put them in the right soil. This means preparing your beds before planting.

You should turn over the soil and add compost or fertilizer.

“You want to make sure your bed is nice and loose, so more nutrients get to the roots,” Ruibal says.

Then try adding time-release fertilizer to the soil, so your plants will get a continuous stream of nutrients.

Mulch your garden after you plant. Adding mulch helps with irrigation, prevents weeds, and protects the plants’ roots during extremes of temperature.

Should you plant annuals or perennials?

Annuals and perennials are about the same price, so cost doesn’t need to be a factor in helping you decide what to plant.

Think about your garden’s goal: If you want a splash of color, go with annuals. If you’re going to tend to your garden, enjoy bringing cut flowers inside, and want to welcome back your plants each year, decide on perennials.

Selling your house in the near future? Effinger recommends planting a healthy dose of colorful annuals and throwing down a fresh half-inch of mulch.

“Color drives everything,” he says. “Color sells houses.”

Of course, you can always add both annuals and perennials to your garden. Going that route creates a well-rounded garden of color and yearly staples.

“Mixing both annuals and perennials gives you the best of both worlds,” McDonald says. “Constant color, great pollination options, and reduced yearly planting expenses.”

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Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/annuals-and-perennials-difference/

 

June 19, 2018   No Comments

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape (i.e. it’s decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul), you might think it’s ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldn’t expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when you’ve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But don’t be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn’t take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely won’t be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors’ yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.

Animals

While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing (unless there are severe allergy issues), they don’t want to see – and, especially, smell – evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You don’t have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.

Cobwebs

Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers don’t nitpick and find a reason to question the home’s condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? That’s what real buyers do, and if they can’t picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or it’s oddly configured – blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance – you’re keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

“Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when you’re selling a house it’s important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A home seller can do this by decluttering, lighting up the room and especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.” You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. It’s not snooping (at least, we hope it’s not snooping!) – it’s an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one “junk drawer,” but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. “Whether it’s a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your home’s closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers,” said Apartment Therapy. “Box up off-season apparel – or better yet, donate it – and remove extra hangers so yours looks spacious and streamlined.”

Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, they’re much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice/item/1017399-20180521-9-silly-little-things-that-could-be-sabotaging-your-home-sale?rtmpage=goodalemillerteam

May 22, 2018   No Comments

5 Smart, Easy Ways To Add Smart Home Technology To Your Place

Has technology passed your home by? It’s never too late to update it. Whether you just want to bring the home’s function into this century for your personal use or are looking to put it on the market, incorporating some smart home items is, well, a smart strategy.

“The stock advice for homeowners putting a house on the market used to go like this: Give the exterior, or the front door, a fresh coat of paint; tame unruly shrubs; and swap out a few light fixtures. But today’s homebuyers are expecting a little more,” said Consumer Reports. According to Coldwell Banker’s latest annual smart-home survey, most potential homebuyers want smart-home tech preinstalled.”

Specifically, “Seventy-seven percent want smart thermostats, 75 percent want smart smoke detectors, 66 percent want smart home security cameras, and 63 percent want smart locks, to name a few.”

Smart thermostats

Not only will a smart thermostat make your air conditioner function better and make your house more comfortable, it will save you money in the process. “With a smart thermostat, easily control the temperature in your home from a central control panel, with the sound of your voice, or using your mobile device,” said Vivint. “Combined with a smart assistant that intuits and learns your preferences and behaviors, your thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature – saving you valuable time, energy, and money.”

The Nest Thermostat is one of the most popular options on the market. It “currently costs $249 but projects an average savings of around $173 per year,” said UpNest. We also love the ecobee because it has multiple sensors. The latest version, the ecobee4 ($249), also has built-in Amazon Alexa.

Smart door locks

There are lots of smart door locks out there, which eliminate the need for a key and replace it with a keypad and code that are used for entry. But, we love this August Smart Lock, which takes smart home capabilities up a notch.

“This battery operated device sells for $199, and communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth,” said Nerds on Call. “When the Smart Lock identifies your Bluetooth signal approaching, it unlocks your door, and can lock it behind you if you choose that setting. It also allows you to set up virtual keys for guests, with the ability to grant access for only certain dates and times for each key. The activity log keeps track of when each unique user comes and goes. Perhaps the best part about this smart home upgrade is that it goes over your existing lock, meaning that you can have strong security and an intelligent lock. If you choose, you can pair the Smart Lock with the ‘August Connect’ for $79, which lets guests in and locks the door behind them. The Connect also grants real time status of locked or unlocked, and alerts you instantly when somebody comes or goes.”

The August Smart Lock Pro is also a Consumer Reports fave. “We tested the previous-generation August Smart Lock and found that it offers a wealth of smart features that potential homeowners will appreciate,” they said.

Video doorbell

The humble doorbell has come a long way in the past few years,” said Business Insider. “Gone are the days when all a doorbell would do is alert you to the fact that someone’s at the door. These days, doorbells can connect to your Wi-Fi network to offer enhanced home security with built-in cameras and microphones. Of all the doorbells you can buy, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 (currently $199) is our top pick because it doesn’t have to be hard wired and it has an excellent 1080p camera.”

Smart smoke detectors

If you’ve ever dealt with a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night, this product should thrill you. But, of course, knowing your family is safe is obviously your No. 1 priority. And why not save a little money at the same time, right?

“Another smart technology product, the smart smoke detector, could not only save you money (approximately 5% on your insurance premiums), but could even save your life,” said UpNest. “One 2014 CBS news report cites a figure of 2/3 of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled — which is something many of us have resorted to at one time or other out of sheer frustration when our typical ‘dumb’ detector insists on shrieking an alarm every time we try to fry up some bacon. A smart detector will allow you to keep on frying without fear of interruption. Two such products, the Birdi and the Nest Protect, will not only monitor smoke but also carbon dioxide and general air quality. They can even send an alert to your smart phone or tablet if anything is amiss. These products retail for $119 and $99 respectively.”

Smart irrigation system

The SkyDrop: Smart Irrigation System Controller is a next-level automatic sprinkler system that allows you to control your irrigation from anywhere by using their app, and, “The best part is the irrigation will adjust itself based on your local weather,” said Nerds on Call. “The SkyDrop can be programmed to adhere to local water restrictions in order to contribute to saving water. An amazing part about SkyDrop is that it can calculate how much water your lawn uses every day and adjust the amount of watering time to keep your lawn healthy. This device sells for $200 on Amazon, and connects to your existing irrigation system along with your WiFi network.”

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1017398-20180521-5-smart-easy-ways-to-add-smart-home-technology-to-your-place?rtmpage=

May 21, 2018   No Comments

Eight Signs It’s Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Let’s face it: It’s probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, lifestyles change, and the sheer accumulation of stuff can make a small home feel even tighter. “More than a third of all homebuyers last year were families with kids,” said Dave Ramsey. “And 37% of sellers age 36 and under cited cramped quarters as their reason for moving.”

But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

You’ve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If you’re the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

You’re at each other’s throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you don’t have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary! Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if “your quality of life is suffering,” said Unpakt. “This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just can’t keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, you’re stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear.”

The neighborhood is changing…and not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary (or wanted) renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it – or get it into tip-top shape for a sale – is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You don’t want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You don’t want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because it’s overdone and considered overpriced.

“Weighing against renovation is the risk you’ll ‘over-improve’ your home compared with others on the block,” said Bankrate. “When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect.”

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If you’re still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe it’s time to find one that better meets your lifestyle needs today.

You’ve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. “It’s not just the sticker price on the house; it’s the long-term costs associated with it,” said Realtor.com. “When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance.” And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming “house poor” by “using online affordability calculators to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/buyersadvice/item/1017326-20180517-eight-signs-its-time-to-move-up?rtmpage=

 

May 17, 2018   No Comments

5 Ways Tax Reform Has Impacted the 2018 Housing Market

5 Ways Tax Reform Has Impacted the 2018 Housing Market

Starting late last year, some predicted that the 2018 tax changes would cripple the housing market. Headlines warned of the potential for double-digit price depreciation and suggested that buyer demand could drop like a rock. There was even sentiment that homeownership could lose its coveted status as a major component of the American Dream.

Now that the first quarter numbers are in, we can begin to decipher the actual that impact tax reform has had on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand? The answer is “NO.”

According to the Showing Time Index which “tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis” and is a “highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends,” buyer demand has increased each month over the last three months and is HIGHER than it was for the same months last year. Buyer demand is not down. It is up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America’s belief in real estate as a long-term investment? The answer is “NO.”

Two weeks ago, Gallup released its annual survey which asks Americans which asset they believed to be the best long-term investment. The survey revealed:

“More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds.” 

The survey also showed that the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is the best long-term investment was unchanged from a year ago.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes? The answer is “NO.”

Not only did the homeownership rate not crash, it increased when compared to the first quarter of last year according to data released by the Census Bureau.

In her latest Z Report,Ivy Zelman explains that tax reform didn’t hurt the homeownership rate, but instead, enhanced it:

“We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case.”

4. Has the upper-end market been crushed by new State and Local Taxes (SALT) limitations? The answer is “NO.”

In the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report it was revealed that:

  • Sales between $500,000 and $750,000 were up 4.5% year-over-year
  • Sales between $750,000 and $1M were up 15.1% year-over-year
  • Sales over $1M were up 17.3% year-over-year

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months? The answer is “NO.”

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

Bottom Line

The doomsday scenarios that some predicted based on tax reform fears seem to have already blown over based on the early housing industry numbers being reported.

Written By: KCM Crew

https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2018/05/10/5-ways-tax-reform-has-impacted-the-2018-housing-market/

 

May 10, 2018   No Comments

How to Clean Your Windows and Keep Them Streak-Free

Have you ever sat in your favorite chair and looked out the window, only to see streaks and smears? Or looked out the kitchen window, only to see a community of spiders and bugs all over your screens? Windows can be a challenge to clean. But here are nine tips, trick and tools that will make your windows clean and clear.
9. Take it outside. When cleaning your exterior windows, you can use a broom wrapped with a rag to remove dust and cobwebs from the glass. Scrub the windows with the same solution of dish soap previously mentioned to lift the dirt off the windows. Dry with either a squeegee or a microfiber cloth.
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Source: https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/93853660/list/how-to-clean-your-windows-and-keep-them-streak-free

April 27, 2018   No Comments

9 Home Improvements That Can Help (and Hurt) Value

Home improvement can be taken as very demanding action,  but there are also some ways of home improvement you can do yourself. Therefore, before you start with any, see what improvements are the most needed in your home. Nowadays, a big attraction is an energy-efficient home which saves a lot of energy and reduces energy costs. On the other hand, maintenance problems and pest or bug infestations are a major turn off and should be looked into ASAP.

We bring you several great pieces of advice you can use to improve your home’s value and feel more comfortable and cozy.

1. Water Filtration System

A water filtration system in your kitchen is a small addition that will appeal to many home buyers and is used for purifying the water. When you have a water filtration system installed in your house, you don’t have to buy bottled water anymore. The best thing is that it’s not expensive at all, and everyone can afford it.

2. Removing Old Carpets

Besides looking old, old carpets might also be hiding contaminants and allergens which means you have bad air quality in your home. Sometimes the best option for testing an indoor air quality is to call a professional company because they will surely do a great job.

Wooden floors are an excellent way to bring the touch of outdoors in your home. Great examples of environmentally friendly natural products are tile or laminated floors. By replacing your old carpets with a hard surface floor, your house will be easier to clean, and you’ll have more time to do things you like.

3. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling

It is no secret that homes with popcorn ceilings are outdated so get rid of this popcorn ceiling fast. To be sure that it does not contain asbestos, it would be best to hire professionals to test it. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling is as simple as buying a solution to soften the texture from the hardware store and scraping the popcorn away.

4. Bathroom Remodeling

Remodeling bathrooms is a great way to add more value to your home. If a full rebuild is not in your budget, you can invest in many small changes that will freshen up your bathroom. Replace the dated wallpaper, old lighting, add some fancy cupboard knobs or change the faucet and shower heads.

5. Kitchen Remodeling

Just like the bathroom, a big kitchen update can do wonders. Stained sinks and old appliances are all things to look at. If replacing the kitchen cabinets is too much for you, you can always give them a new look by adding a new varnish or paint layer and swap those old doorknobs with modern ones.

6. Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance is an ongoing process, no matter if you plan to live in your house for a long time or move soon. Repairing or replacing broken appliances or fixtures will avoid further damage. Certain things are not to be left, and for example, leak spots on the ceiling can cause great damage to your roof if not taken care of immediately. If your home is up for sale, a sign of poor maintenance will make the home seekers wonder what else is wrong with the house.

7. Water Heater Upgrade

An old water heater can be a turn off for some home buyers, but you can find water heaters that come with a tankless model. This kind of water heaters are more efficient as they only heat up the water that you need.

8. Appliance Updates

Nowadays, energy-efficiency is becoming trendy. Appliances with an energy star label use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than other conventional appliances. New models look great, and many are stainless steel which is a bonus. If you do not have the money for buying modern devices, upgrade the lighting to energy star.

9. Update Fixtures

Fixtures in your home include curtain rods, light fixtures, doorknobs, switch plates, outlet covers, etc. Make sure that these are updated because sometimes it’s the small detail that counts. For example, outlet covers and switch plates look more attractive when made of metal. These changes are easy to do yourself and aren’t so expensive, just be sure you choose the right color which looks great combined with other furniture in your home.

Written By Matt James

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1016748-20180420-9-home-improvements-that-can-help-and-hurt-value?rtmpage=

April 20, 2018   No Comments

Get The Home You Want, Millennials: Smart Strategies For First-Time Homebuyers

Hey, Millennials. Come on into the real estate market! We really need you to buy some homes so we can keep chugging along. Oh, wait. Prices are rising and so are interest rates, plus inventory is scary low. Hmmm. Well, come on in anyway, wontcha?

It’s not easy to buy a home in a hot market where inventory remains at historic lows – and that covers a lot of areas across the country at a wide range of different price points. But it’s especially hard right now for Millennials, who aren’t exactly getting a warm welcome from the market that has been begging them to participate.

“I think it’s fair to say this is the most competitive housing market we’ve seen in recorded history,” Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, told Curbed. “There’s record low inventory and strong interest from buyers in getting into the housing market. Millennials are reaching prime homebuying age – in 2020, the greatest proportion of that generation will be turn 30 – just as baby boomers are looking to downsize. This has created especially fierce competition for smaller homes, the type of starter homes that most first-time buyers desire. This dynamic can be especially frustrating for young adults because they may be bidding for the same smaller home as someone from an older generation who can lean on the accumulated wealth of decades of homeownership.”

But that doesn’t make buying impossible – just a bit more challenging. Get a leg up by following a few smart strategies.

Work with the right REALTOR®

This is not the right time to give your brother-in-law’s cousin’s neighbor who just got his license a shot. Having a competitive edge is more important than ever, and you need a savvy, experienced, and well-connected real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Work on your down payment

You may be competing against buyers who are coming in with an all-cash offer, which you’re going to have a hard time standing up to. But, there are ways you can make your offer look better. Remember that if it comes down to a multiple-offer situation for your home, sellers won’t just compare the offer prices. They’ll look at your down payment and the terms, and you need to have better terms than the next guy. You may only have 3.5% down, and that may be all you need to qualify for your FHA loan, but that doesn’t mean the seller will embrace you.

“Your down payment is a key part of the offer you present to the seller,” said Money Crashers. “The general rule of thumb is simple: the larger the down payment, the stronger the offer. More precisely: the greater the down payment’s share of the total purchase price, the more likely the seller is to accept.”

If you’re ready to buy and there’s no time to get a second job or go into hyper-savings mode, you can always take advantage of down payment assistance programs like the National Homebuyers Fund or hit up a relative. “If you’re struggling to pool enough cash for your down payment, a generous relative or friend can help by giving you money,” said NerdWallet. “But the money must be a true gift, not a disguised loan, and it must be documented properly through financial statements and a gift letter. If the gift is really a loan that you have to pay back, lenders won’t accept it.”

Be flexible on the closing

If another potential buyer is insistent on a 30-day close, but you could close earlier, later, and even rent back to the seller if need be, you just might end up with the house you want. Flexibility is key to submitting a winning offer, so make sure you have a Plan B – a place to stay for a few days or longer if you’re going to be between houses, and a mover/storage option squared away.

Look in adjacent neighborhoods

Yeah, you have your heart set on a specific neighborhood. But if it’s just not happening, consider the next neighborhood over. Experts say they have great potential upside.

Consider the worst house on the block

Buying the ugly duckling is a top strategy for investors, and one that can get buyers in the door (literally!) if they’re having trouble purchasing move-in-ready homes. “When your budget as a first-time buyer doesn’t stretch to a house in perfect condition in a neighborhood you adore, you might consider buying a home that needs work. Or maybe you’ve watched fixer-upper TV shows and think you could handle sweat equity. Either way, real estate experts say buying a house that needs renovating can make sense as long as you are realistic about the process,” said the Washington Post. “A fixer-upper can be a smart investment, particularly if you can buy a property under market value and then increase its value with the right projects. While some home buyers prefer move-in-ready homes, they are stuck with the choices the previous homeowner or builder picked for their countertops, fixtures and floors. Not only do buyers of fixer-uppers get to select their finishes, they also can make sure the work is done the way they want.”

If you’re worried about how you’re going to pay for all those renovations, ask your real estate agent or lender about a 203(k) loan, which rolls renovation funds into your mortgage. “An FHA 203k loan, (sometimes called a Rehab Loan or FHA Construction loan) allows you to finance not one, but two major items 1) the house itself, and; 2) needed/wanted repairs,” said The Mortgage Reports. “Because the lender tracks and verifies repairs, it is willing to approve a loan on a home it wouldn’t otherwise consider.”

The loan addresses a common problem when buying a fixer home: lenders often don’t approve loans for homes in need of major repairs.”

Waive contingencies before you submit your offer?

Note the question mark. Your real estate professional may caution you against this strategy. But, lenders like Better Mortgage are making it work with a program that “allows buyers in select markets to not only underwrite their finances, but also get the appraised value of their home before they submit an offer. That means they have the option to waive both financing and appraisal contingencies to make their offer as competitive as cash.”

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice/item/1016724-20180419-get-the-home-you-want-millennials-smart-strategies-for-first-time-homebuyers

April 19, 2018   No Comments