Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4 Places Real Estate Agents Say, "Don't Go Cheap!"

4 Places Real Estate Agents Say As most real estate agents will tell you, remodeling, decorating or repairing your home can go a long way towards getting it sold. For that matter, it can add value to your property in case you want to sell later - that is, if you don't choose the wrong places to buy cheap:

  • Windows - Never buy a window based on which one is cheapest. You want windows that look good, and, as most real estate agents will recommend, you want energy-efficient windows. During 2009 and 2010, you may be eligible for a Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency of up to $1500 when you purchase Energy Star windows.
  • Paint - Paint is one of the biggest places people skimp when it comes to cost, and a big no-no. Cheap paint may take several coats to look right; those several coats can end up leaving blotches and runs.  In addition, cheap paint has a tendency to peel or wash off under light cleaning.  If you're going to add painting to your remodeling or repair work, quality is always better.
  • Doors - Whether it's for a shower or a screened-in porch, the door you choose can make all the difference. A rickety shower door falling off the railing is a big "don't buy" sign. While you don't want to blow your whole budget, the doors throughout your house should be of quality material. Likewise, a solid front door adds to the curb appeal and security of your home. Some exterior doors also qualify for the Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency. Find out if your exterior door qualifies for an Energy Star Rebate or Tax Credit.
  • Flooring - Unless it's expensive carpet on sale, cheap flooring never looks like anything but cheap flooring. Low cost carpet and wood flooring seldom has high durability and is likely to wear out before you're ready to replace it again. Take the time to find quality flooring at a price you can afford - don't go cheap!

 Many real estate agents will push quality, but the biggest point they'll push these days is - go green! It may not be the cheapest option, but the benefits in efficiency and property value more than make up for the cost.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Five Places Mold Could Be Hiding In Your Home

Five Places Mold Could Be Hiding in Your HomeEven the most aesthetically pleasing homes can have mold issues. A type of fungus that thrives on moisture, mold can trigger symptoms such as itching eyes, asthma attacks and bouts of sneezing or coughing.

As a result of the possible health issues, mold is the sort of problem that should be dealt with prior to listing a home, and people who are in the market to buy a home would do well to have a licensed professional conduct a mold test on any home they're seriously interested in buying.

What follows is a rundown of five places in the home where mold could be hiding.

The Unwanted Basement Tenant

If climate control measures are not implemented, basements can end up becoming breeding grounds for mold. Most basements get little or no direct sunlight, are often more humid than other areas of the house, and get scant ventilation, which can pose a problem should water somehow get into the basement.

Mold can go undetected for years in such spaces since it can grow behind walls, baseboards and insulation. Fortunately, detecting mold is possible not only by sight, but also by scent. A moldy or musty smell should not be ignored since it could be evidence that there is a mold problem.

The Air Conditioner's Chilly Reception

Unfortunately, mold can take root in places that people cannot easily access and monitor such as on the inside of their air conditioner units. Mold can grow on the coils and, when moisture enters into the picture, a small problem can become a big one quickly.

People who find themselves coughing or sneezing whenever they turn on their air conditioners ought to be suspicious since mold could be the culprit.

Not On The Kitchen Menu

Leaving leftovers in the fridge for too long can create conditions where mold thrives. The mold can then get into crevices where it will have even more places to grow. The problem can become even more serious if contaminated food and appliances transfer the mold to other areas in the kitchen.

Furthermore, kitchens that are insufficiently ventilated can also have negative implications as far as food safety is concerned,

The Chimney: Where There's Smoke...

Leaky chimneys can cause mold problems that, if not fixed, may end up infecting other areas of the house. In a leaky chimney, moisture can seep into crevices and create mold areas that may eventually make their way down to the walls. Therefore chimneys that are in need of repair should be fixed promptly so that problems don't pop up later.

If Walls Could Talk

One of the most common places for mold to form and grow is behind walls. Humid air behind the walls can be problematic, particularly if water finds its way back there as a result of things like flooding.

It's also possible for mold to form behind wallpaper. People can determine whether or not they have mold behind their walls by having an inspector come in and check.

Mold is no laughing matter. Before listing, it wouldn't be a bad idea to address any mold issues. People who are planning to buy a home should have an inspector conduct a test to ascertain if there are any problems.

Taking the proper steps will help to remedy any mold situation that may be present. Whether you're looking to sell or looking to buy, the right real estate agent can make all the difference. Call your trusted real estate professional today for more information on how to deal with mold when buying or selling a home.

Monday, April 28, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 28, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 28, 2014Last week's economic news supported recent reports that home sales were fewer and home prices increased, but did so at a slower pace.

The NAR reported a slower pace of existing home sales, and FHFA reported a slower year-over-year rate of growth for home prices on properties financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell to their lowest level since July 2013. Mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages, but were unchanged for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Here are the details:

Existing Home Sales Slow, Moderate Growth In Home Prices

March sales of existing homes dipped by 0.20 percent according to the NAR. 4.59 million previously owned homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against projections of 4.55 million sales and February's reading of 4.60 million pre-owned homes sold.

Rising home prices contributed to the slowdown in sales, which started last summer. Rapidly rising home prices due to short supplies of available homes and high demand for homes caused some buyers to leave the market. The national average price for existing homes was $198,500 in March, which represented a year-over-year increase of 7.90 percent.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices for homes financed with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned mortgages rose by approximately 7.0 percent year-over-year as of February.

Severe winter weather was cited as a possible factor in slowing home sales, but as the peak home buying season gets underway, analysts forecast that some sales lost may be recovered in warmer weather.

 Mortgage Rates Rise, New Home Sales At Lowest Level In 21 Months

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates for fixed rate mortgages rose. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.33 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.39 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Discount points were also unchanged at 0.60,.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Sales of new single-family homes slumped to their lowest level in since July 2012 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The median price of a new single family home rose to $290,000, which represented a 12.60 percent increase year-over-year.

Analysts noted that month-to-month home sales numbers are not as reliable as sales trends measured over months, but 384,000 March sales of new homes fell markedly short of expectations of 450,000 new home sales and February's upwardly revised reading of 440,000 new homes sold.

Unemployment Ups And Downs Contribute To Buyer Uncertainty

New jobless claims rose to 329,000 against expectations of 315,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 305,000 new jobless claims. The Labor Department said that seasonal adjustments were incomplete due to the Easter holiday, which occurs on different dates.

As labor and other sectors of the economy endure ups and downs during the economic recovery, it is reasonable to expect some home buyers to put off buying homes.

This Week 

This week's scheduled economic news includes Pending Home Sales, Case-Shiller's Housing Market Index, the FOMC meeting and statement and Construction Spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release April's Non-Farm Payrolls Report and National Unemployment Report on Friday.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Take Your Laundry From Drab To Fab With These Five Easy Fixes

Take Your Laundry From Drab to Fab With These Five Easy FixesIf you're looking to lengthen the life span of your clothing without always needing to purchase something new to wear, consider the following five easy steps every time you do a load of laundry.

It's a little bit of effort that goes a very long way; and who knows, you might just enjoy doing laundry again after seeing such great results!

Button, Zip, Turn Inside Out, And Separate

Spend a little bit of extra time making sure your buttons are buttoned, your zippers are zipped, and clothes are turned inside out.

Doing so will ensure that your garments are less likely to snag one another in the wash, prevent pilling, and keeping your colors from fading. It's an extra step, but completely worth your time. Wash your colors in cold water, and separate from your whites when you can. 

While it's tempting to wash everything together, a little separation can go a long way - especially when you're dealing with delicates as they should always be in a separate load (or hand washed and laid flat to dry).

Hang Those Clothes Out To Dry

Stop in the name of shrinking, pilling, fading, and unraveling! Is the garment in your hand made of a delicate fabric? Is that sweater made with mainly wool or cotton? Is that t-shirt your favorite? Better hang them all to dry.

Consider purchasing a clothes drying rack, as they fold beautifully and can be tucked away in the corner when not in use, and generally range between 10 and 50 dollars. If you're concerned over the softness of your hang to dry clothing, there are always detergents you can buy with built in softeners, but often, the quality of the water in your area may be enough.

Shorten Your Cycle

If you are washing regularly, and your clothing isn't heavily soiled, then there is no need to set the washer to a longer cycle. The longer your clothes wash for, the more damage is done. A quick wash, believe it or not, is more than you need if you are just looking to wash out the general scent and small stains of everyday wear.

Whiten And Brighten Naturally

Stop bleaching if you don't need to! Bleach, while it may be useful for extremely soiled clothing (do you work and play in the mud regularly?) is not needed for your everyday garments. Bleach is harsh on your clothing, and using something as simple as baking soda can have the same effect as bleach on your clothes in the wash.

A spoonful of baking soda naturally brightens your clothing by boosting the effects of your detergent. For treating specific stains, try sprinkling and rubbing some baking soda into the stain and let it sit for a bit before your wash to maximize the stain lifting action.

Soften And Scent Naturally, Too

Softening with fabric softener is great, but often fades your clothing at a faster rate than you'd like. So when it comes to softening, a dryer sheet or two will do the trick. If you're not a fan of/ have sensitivities to strong fabric softeners or detergents, a spoonful of fresh squeezed lemon juice is a beautiful natural option for giving your laundry a fresh, pleasant scent.

Keep your laundry looking like new, and spend some time filling your laundry room with some essentials that you feel would help you become more efficient with some of the steps above. After a few loads, you'll quickly begin to see the difference.

So on your next laundry day, don't forget to congratulate yourself for a job well done on extending the life of your garments!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Baby On the Way? Baby Proof Your Home In Just One Weekend

Baby on the Way? Baby Proof Your Home in Just One WeekendOne of the most exciting times in a parent's life is the time before a baby's arrival. Between anticipation and preparation time passes in an instant, and before you know it you will be holding your little one in your arms.

Although newborns are too small to get into too much trouble, in only a few short months your child will be looking to explore the world around them. Make sure your home is ready for the adventure, and baby proofing is done in advance.

Over the course of a single weekend you can transform your home into a baby friendly safe zone, ready for discovery.

Getting Down To Have Look Around

Cupboards and corners are potential hazards, but are not the only places baby can run into trouble. Cracks and crevices can trap and scratch little fingers, and an exposed baseboard nail could lead to unneeded tears and medical attention.

These problems can be avoided with minimal time and a little filler. By bringing yourself down to baby level, you can easily get the low down on your home's toddler readiness. Another down and dirty danger is electrical outlets. If you have lots of cords in the home, consider using power strips to keep the number of plugs needed to a minimum.

These are easy to unplug and replace with a cover when not needed, or when baby is at play. Not only will this make things easy at the outlet, but it will also save you money by minimizing wasted energy.

Switch To Greener Cleaners And Keep It Up

Of course keeping chemical cleaners and cleaning supplies out of reach is an important part of baby proofing your home, but what about the freshly mopped kitchen floor? Baby's soft skin can easily pick up the chemical cocktail that is most traditional cleaning solutions.

Switching to natural cleaners is a safe choice for both your home and your family. With green cleaning products, you won't have to wait until baby is away or napping before chipping away at the daily chores.

Keep Baby In Bounds And Block Danger Out

There is a contraption for every possible danger, but regardless of the measures taken, accidents can always happen. Once you have baby proofed hazardous zones like bathrooms and offices, you can add extra assurance by placing baby locks or latches on the outside of doors.

Baby gates can block off areas of the home beyond the staircase. You can use these safety gates to section off nearly any area, and portable gates are easily moved throughout the home.

Babies grow quickly, and sometimes we as parents feel unprepared for the phases and milestones that lay ahead. Knowing your home is ready to go from newborn to toddler will give the peace of mind needed to enjoy each moment that you share with baby in your home.

If there are structural challenges that simple baby proofing cannot overcome, call your local real estate professional today. Connecting buyers with just the right place is both our pleasure and priority. Finding the perfect home for you and your growing family can be a great way to transition into a new normal.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How You Can Get The Full Selling Price You Want For Your Home

How You Can Get the Full Selling Price You Want for Your HomeWhen it comes to selling your home and getting the full selling price you want, there are certain tactics and methods you can employ to ensure that this wish becomes a reality.

Avoiding the commonly made mistakes that end up lowering the value of your home and discouraging people from viewing it is ultimately the key in getting top dollar, as well carrying out the showings and sale of your home in a professional manner.

Listen to the professionals, and make sure you employ these real estate sale methods to get your desired number on your home sale.

Listing Tactic: Adding A Buffer

Always dependent on the type of market you find yourself in, a common and successful tactic in getting the price you really want for your home is adding a buffer on the list price.

This means that if you want $500,000 for your home, you should list your home somewhere around $510,000 to $520,000 to allow for some negotiating room. Even if you'd prefer not to negotiate, the majority of buyers will always assume that you have room to come down on the price, and will put in their offers accordingly.

Overpricing: Avoid At All Costs

With that being said, you don't want to overprice your home too much so as to discourage potential buyers from looking at it, or to put your home outside of a financial bracket. Make sure you speak to your trusted real estate advisor on exactly what the right list price should be to obtain your desired value.

Increase Desire: Have Your Home Staged

In order to get the price you want for your home, you need to make a good impression on the prospective buyers. Having your home professionally staged can dramatically increase the amount of interest you receive on your home, perhaps even creating multiple offers - which is the best situation a home seller can be in!

Appeal To Online Shoppers With Professional Photos

With so much of today's modern real estate shopping happening online, you want to ensure that your home has a strong online presence with professional photos and a digital floor plan available to prospective buyers. Also make sure that all information online is full and complete, and presents your home in the best light possible.

Always Say Yes To Open Houses And Showings

Especially in a hot market, you want to ensure that you leave your home empty for your realtor on weekends so that they can hold it open to the public. This is especially important early on in your list date so that the buyers on the market who are ready to make a move can see your house right away.

You should also apply the same importance to showings, and ensure that each showing request is promptly responded to with an easy "yes."

If you put these tactics into your home selling plan, you will find that it will be much easier to obtain more interest from buyers. And with more interest, it will be much more likely that you will be able to obtain the price you want for your home.

So don't underestimate the importance of these factors, and discuss them today with your trusted real estate professional. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Six Creative Lighting Installations That Will Enhance Your Home

Six Creative Lighting Installations That Will Enhance Your HomeWhen people purchase their home, one of their common requests is "plenty of light." And for good reason! This is a critical factor for enjoying your home, and when designing your interior, you should pay special attention to just that: your sources of light.

See them not only as a way to brighten up your room, but also as an opportunity to infuse your home with a fashionable design and aesthetic appeal. You'd be surprised at how much lighting can dramatically enhance any given room in your home.

Here are our six favorite lighting installations that are bound to give you and your home that "wow" factor.

The Chandelier For Pretty Places

Chandeliers provide arguably the prettiest and most classic fixtures possible, and they are a growing trend right now in interior design.

Acting as the "centerpiece" if you will to any room, chandeliers offer the perfect amount of brilliance and light, while instantly multiplying the room's feeling of warmth and appeal. Create a pretty place you won't be able to resist; hang a modern crystal chandelier above your dining room table or a bright pendant chandelier in your master bedroom.

Quirky and Contemporary Ceiling Lights

To achieve the same sense of fashion-forward style for your home's decor but in a more practical way for the tall folks, consider a close-to-ceiling light fixture in its many different quirky and contemporary styles. You can also opt for the bright, patterned pendant style, or get a wide crystal embellished highlight for your ceiling lights.

The Demure Brilliance: Recessed Spot Lighting

For the most demure, nearly hidden brilliance, opt for recessed spot lighting. These light installations typically offer dimmer switches and provide the perfect ambiance for any space, especially kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms.

Perfect Pendants For Closer Lighting

Perfect hanging pendants come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be hung in a row for horizontal spaces like your kitchen's eating bar. They can also be hung at varying lengths to achieve a tasteful fashion statement.

Instant Modernity: Arc Floor Lamp

The arc floor lamp, which typically rests in one corner of the room and reaches over in an arch for center lighting in a sitting area, is a growing trend in home décor. You can find these floor lamps in virtually any style, ranging from textured, retro versions to sleek, contemporary styles.

Matching Shades: Table Lamps

To tie your room together in its design aesthetic, the most perfect - and most simple - option may be matching table lamps. Perfect for your side tables in your living room, or the nightstands on either side of your bed in your master bedroom, matching shades can be a quick fix to a room that needs more brilliance and a more cohesive look.

Whether you already have plenty of natural light flooding your home, you can never have enough brilliance to rely on when the sun goes down. So take a look at these six light installations that will instantly enhance your living space, and infuse your home with the light it deserves.

And if you could use a trip through a show home for further design inspiration, call your trusted real estate advisor today for a few pointers.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 21, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 21, 2014Last week's economic news supported the general outlook for moderate economic growth. Housing related news included the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for April and Housing Starts for March.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Holds Steady Amid Concerns

The NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI for April ticked upward by one point to a reading of 47 against the March revised reading of 46. Home builders surveyed expressed concerns about high home prices, a lack of available lots for development and a labor shortage. Some desirable markets have been held back due to low inventories of available and/or affordable homes.

Builders surveyed for the HMI were asked to rate three components used in compiling the monthly index; these include current market conditions, market conditions expected over the next six months, and buyer foot traffic in newly built homes. April's readings were 51, 57 and 32 respectively.

Readings for current market conditions and buyer foot traffic were unchanged from March, but builder confidence for market conditions in the next six months rose by four points.

Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about market conditions for newly-built single-family homes than not. 

Housing Starts Pick Up After Winter Storms, But Fall Short Of Expectations

March Housing Starts rose by 2.80 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 starts as compared to expectations of 990,000 and February's reading of 920,000 housing starts, which was revised from 907,000 starts.

The March reading represented a 5.90 percent decrease from March 2013, and is consistent with concerns expressed by home builders surveyed for the NAHB HMI for April.

Building permits issued for March were also lower by 2.40 percent at a rate of 990,000 permits issued. This slippage was largely due to the falling rate of building permits issued for apartment construction.

Higher home prices and mortgage rates along with inconsistent (but improving) labor markets were cited as reasons for builder pessimism, but analysts said that projects delayed by severe weather are expected to pick up in the coming months.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Discount Points Hold Steady

Last week's average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.27 percent. 15-year mortgages had an average rate of 3.33 percent as compared to the prior week's reading of 3.38 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.03 percent, down from 3.09 percent the previous week. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Fed Chair Upbeat In New York Speech

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a positive note in a speech given before the Economic Club of New York last Wednesday. She indicated that the Fed and many economists expect a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016. Analysts characterized Yellen's speech as upbeat on economic recovery and inflation, while "dovish" on monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen reiterated the Fed's intention to monitor current and developing economic situations before making changes to its current monetary policy. She acknowledged that "twists and turns" in the economy could occur, and that Fed policy would shift as needed to address changes.

The Fed also released its Beige Book Report last Wednesday. This report indicated that the economy is recovering in most areas of the U.S.

This Week

This week's scheduled economic news includes Leading Economic Indicators, Existing Home Sales for March, FHFA House Price Report for February and New Home Sales for March. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for April rounds out this week's news. 


Friday, April 18, 2014

Give Your Home An Instant Facelift, Wallpaper Is Back

Give Your Home an Instant Facelift: Wallpaper Is Back in a Big Way, Baby!Though it can be an entirely different story for a trend shift in the opposite direction, which then requires you to get out the soaking bucket and scraping tool, wallpaper coming back into style is a home décor blessing for many.

Wallpaper is back in - in a big way! - and it's making your dreams of accomplishing a fashionable living space come true much faster and easier than you could have imagined.

Quite frankly, wallpaper can do the "fashionable home" trick to virtually any room in your house, adding that touch of warmth and personality you've so far only seen in show homes. It's time to get with the trends, and give your home a quick and easy facelift!

A World Of Design With Wallpaper

Let's face it: wallpaper can achieve a world of options that paint simply never could! Now that wallpaper has come back in to style, we are seeing plenty of homes being "glammed" and "dolled" up accordingly.

With many patterns and styles available, suddenly your home's imperfections can easily be hidden. You can give the small room in your home a facelift with a wallpaper pattern with vertical stripes, instantly making the room feel larger.

Or you can suddenly have the accent wall you've always dreamed of but have been to afraid to commit to, creating a focal point behind the bed in your master bedroom, or behind the sofa in the living room. Or if you're an artsy person, you can add more art to your walls without lifting a nail - instead just install some patterned, decorative wallpaper.

Modern Innovations: Digitally Printed Wallpaper

Wallpaper is certainly back in style, but not without new and creative innovations since its last time around. Now, homeowners can get ultra creative and get personalized wallpapers for their homes with the technical innovation that allows for digitally printed wallpaper designs.

Do you have a specific wall or room in your house that you want to transform for a particular theme? Do you have a photograph that you'd like to use as the inspiration for a one-wall mural in your living room? Well, with customized digital printed wallpaper, you're in luck.

Vinyl Wallpaper: Easy Installation And Removal

Now that wallpaper is back in style, more innovations have been made in terms of how it is installed and removed. Luckily, for us wallpaper fans, we will no longer have to struggle when we choose to put it up or when we decide to take it down! Now there are many vinyl wallpapers that are self-adhesive and very simple to install.

They are also available in a range of textures and finishes, and make use of eco-solvent inks. Easy to install, easy to remove, and cleanable with simply a damp cloth, a vinyl wallpaper print might be just the key to your home's quick and easy facelift.

Whether you opt for the vinyl or digitally printed innovation of wallpaper or choose to stick with the good old paper version, you'll have your home beautified in no time. There's no need to worry about changing trends either; regardless of what you choose, advancements in the modern return of wallpaper mean that less rigorous activity will be required should the wallpaper trend go back "out."

So take advantage of this practical design trend, and give your home the facelift it deserves! And of course you can always contact your trusted real estate advisor for design tips or places where you can get your show home inspiration. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stage Your Home For Spring: Tips For Using The Season To Your Selling Advantage

Stage Your Home for Spring: Tips for Using the Season to Your Selling AdvantageSpring has arrived! The flowers are blossoming, the greyness of the sky is clearing, and the air is warming. The best season to sell your home is here, and with the added natural light and blossoming colors, you can easily take advantage of the benefits of spring when it comes to selling your home.

Make sure to show it for all it's worth, and follow these simple tips for staging your home in spring that will make your home the one listing that buyers can't resist.

Fresh Flowers: Put Mother Nature To Work

Nothing says spring like fresh-cut flowers. Bring the beauty of nature inside your home and brighten up your space with fresh flowers. You can get colorful tulips, lilies, and other flowers for use in your kitchen table centerpiece, as well as smaller arrangements for around the house.

There's no reason why a bouquet can't brighten up your master bedroom or entryway, either. Orchids also make for lovely decorative pieces, and are best for bathrooms or anywhere that's suitable to a smaller flower.

Add that extra intrigue to your entryway with colorful flowers in hanging baskets, and tidy up your front garden with some new colors, all while making the prospective buyers much more enthusiastic about entering your home.

Get That Spring Feel With A Light And Airy Home

To make the most of the spring season, make sure you use the added light and the warmth of the air. Open up the windows and lift all the blinds in your home, and consider scheduling showing times during the time of day when the sun shines brightest.

Decorative Colors: Brighten Up Your Home

You can also further take advantage with the colors of spring by adding pops of color to your living room, dining room, and kitchen. Consider hanging colorful drapes or adding a decorative throw and couch pillows.

Some new and inexpensive artwork for the walls can also be an inventive way to bring color into your home, while creating a warm and inviting space that the buyer will love.

It's Time For Spring Cleaning

Just because you're selling your house this year, doesn't mean you get to excuse yourself from spring cleaning. Actually, partaking in this annual event can be a great way to sell your home faster. A clean home tells buyers that you have taken great care of the property and helps them to envision themselves living in the space.

Get out the pressure washer and rid your front steps and driveway of the remnants of winter, clean out the gutters, and give the floors and bathrooms a scrub. Consider an early packing job, and box up your winter clothes to help create the appearance of well-organized and spacious closet space throughout the home.

Spring is a great season in which to sell your home. You can easily take advantage of the warmer weather and bright colors to make your house more attractive to potential buyers, which will help you sell faster and get a higher price.

With an airy, clean and flower-filled home that bursts with color, you'll be able to persuade buyers that your home is the perfect place for them - and you'll be glad you put in the extra effort. For more great advice about selling your home in the spring, or to list your home for sale, call your trusted real estate professional today. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Green Living: Water Saving Tips For Spring

Green Living: Water Saving Tips for SpringWater is the planet's most precious resource. Access to clean water is a privilege that, unfortunately, many people still take for granted.

By utilizing new water efficiency technologies and age-old conservation methods, we can help preserve the water supply for future generations. Cutting down on consumption whenever possible is something that everyone can do to live a little greener.

Making Sure Your Home Holds Water

The first stop on your journey to save water is to ensure your home is free of water leaks. Make your way through your home, and properly shut off the water at all fixtures and faucets. Air-cooling systems and other devices that use water should also be shut off.

Read your water meter, wait two hours (without using any water), and check it again. If your water meter gives you two different readings, you are losing water somewhere, and the problem needs farther investigating.

If you find yourself flooded with problems, it may be time to call your local real estate professional. Most issues are easily repaired or upgraded, but sometimes a fresh efficient start may be a simpler solution.

Air It Out And Get In the Flow

Installing aerators on faucets and shower heads reduce their usage by half. These contraptions are inexpensive and easy to install. By injecting air into the water flow, you keep the same water pressure, but use less water.

If you are in the market for a new toilet, complete your water saving bathroom makeover with a low flow, water efficient model. These toilets can save about 9,000 gallons of water a year.

If a new toilet is not in your near future, a simple homemade contraption can cut down on water being flushed away. Fill a water bottle with some pebbles so it sinks, and fill the rest with water. Place the bottle in the cistern of your toilet. By displacing some of the water in the tank, you can save around 500 gallons of water a year.

Obtain A Lush Lawn With Less Water

Over-watering your grass is wasteful and counterproductive. Watering your lawn two times a week is better for grass than daily sprinklings. Giving your lawn a good soaking with an inch of water every few days will keep it lush and save water. You should also avoid over-mowing.

Grass is happiest at two to three inches tall. Over-mowed grass tends to have weak roots, and requires more water to keep it growing strong. Let Mother Nature take care of the watering on occasion, especially during the spring.

Mulch Landscape To Lock In Moisture

Mulch around the trees and shrubs in your yard. Mulch holds in moisture, and will keep the water in the ground longer. There are also water bags on the market that do a great job of keeping young trees hydrated.

Make sure your sprinklers are putting water where it is needed, and not unnecessarily watering the sidewalk. When the sidewalks and patios need a sweeping, make sure you reach for the broom and leave the hose on standby.

By making a few informed decisions to cut down on water consumption, you can feel good knowing you are doing your part to conserve. When water flows freely, it is easy to forget how precious it is.

Remind yourself that water is a resource that needs to be saved, and should not be wasted. Access to clean water is something no one wants to see lost. Keep looking for solutions, and find answers to your water-saving questions by calling your local real estate professional today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Condo Vs House: Which Is Best For Your Lifestyle?

Condo vs House: Which is Best for Your Lifestyle?Some people love living in condos, while others swear by detached homes. When it comes to deciding between the two, however, you can't always rely on someone else's word.

Sometimes it's as simple as understanding and assessing your lifestyle to make the best choice, since condo living and home ownership are two radically different experiences, and thereby serve two very different types of lifestyles and personalities.

Here are a few considerations if you're trying to decide whether you should invest in a house or a condo.

House: Best If You Have A Furry Friend

Do you have a furry friend or two that are an integral part of your family? Depending on their size and species, you may want to consider a detached house over a condo, simply for the amount of space available.

If you have dogs, you should consider that many condominiums don't allow certain numbers, sizes, or breeds, and this could be just another reason you opt for a house. Having a backyard for your dogs to play in, and being able to avoid the daily elevator rides, are just more reasons to add to the list.

Condo: Best If You're A Busy Business Person

If you're a busy businessperson who's rarely ever home, you may want to consider condo-style living. Firstly, you will be able to save on mortgage costs, which will certainly help you reach your financial goals, and you will have fewer worries involved than you would if you owned a detached home.

Full size houses require significant upkeep, which is a major time investment. In contrast, a condo is a turnkey living space that gives you the amenities you need without the responsibilities of home ownership. If you hardly entertain and would like a space to enjoy yourself during your off time, living in a condo might be just the perfect setup for you, the busy business-minded individual.

House: Best If You Like Privacy And Control

If you're someone who adores your privacy and likes to be in complete control of the maintenance and care of your home, a detached house is certainly the best option for you. Having your own detached house means living with added privacy, as you won't have neighbors as close by as would be the case if you were living in a condominium.

You'll also be pleased to be the sole decision maker when it comes to the upkeep and maintenance schedule of the various aspects of your home. Rather than ask a strata manager for permission to, say, paint your front door, you can simply paint your front door.

Condo: If You're A Single Minimalist

Condo living can be great for single people and minimalists. If you prefer to live on the lighter side, with fewer responsibilities and chores, a condo setup can be extremely rewarding. All of the big stuff will likely be taken care of, and all you'll have to worry about is the minimal space inside of your four walls.

If you decide to travel for an extended period, it's much easier to find short-term tenants for condos than for houses.

It can be difficult to decide whether a house or a condo is best suited to your lifestyle. Don't be shy to ask your friends and family what they think of your personality, and do your due diligence to discover which home is best to accommodate your daily life. Once you've made your decision, contact a real estate professional and find the home that fits your lifestyle.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 14, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 4-14-14While little housing-related news was released, last week's economic news showed signs of a brighter economic picture.

Labor statistics were stronger, with job openings up and new jobless claims filed lower than expected.

Mortgage rates fell, and the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index was higher than expected.

More Jobs Available, Fewer New Jobless Claims

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that February job openings rose to 4.20 million, which exceeded January's reading of 3.9 million jobs. New jobless claims were lower than expected with 300,000 new jobless claims filed against expectations of 316,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 332,000 new jobless claims filed.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting held March 18 and 19. The minutes noted that payroll jobs expanded, but the unemployment rate remained elevated, and inflation was below the committee's goal of 2.00 percent. Indicators of longer-run inflation expectations were seen as stable.

Severe winter weather was viewed as a cause for slowing economic activity. FOMC noted that it would be difficult to determine the effects of winter weather on the economy as opposed to slower economic growth caused by unemployment or other negative factors.

Housing Starts and Building Permits were lower, but FOMC noted the impact of winter weather on these reports. FOMC asserted its intention to continue reducing its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion per month as economic conditions permit.

The FOMC emphasized its commitment to continuous review of financial and economic news as it makes month-to-month decisions concerning asset purchases.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Consumer Sentiment Rises

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.41 to 4.34 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 3.47 to 3.38 percent, and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by three basis points from 3.12 percent to 3.09 percent.

Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively. Lower mortgage rates may encourage more buyers into the market as the spring and summer buying season gets under way.

The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index for April rose to 82.60 percent against the March reading of 80.00 percent and the projected reading of 80.80 percent. If expectations prove correct, this week's economic reports are expected to bring more good news.

What's Coming Up This Week

This week's scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales for March, which are expected to show a gain, the Consumer Price Index which is expected to hold steady, and the Home Builder Index, which is expected to rise.

Projections for Housing Starts are also higher. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to give a speech in New York on Wednesday, and the Fed Beige Book report will also be released. This week's economic reports will wrap up Friday with Leading Economic Indicators. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

How To Pick The Right Type Of Fence To Skyrocket Your Home Appeal

How to Pick the Right Type of Fence to Skyrocket Your Home AppealWhen it comes to choosing a fence for your home, you should always consider the style of your home itself. If you end up choosing a fence that compliments your home and works cohesively with the style, you can easily skyrocket the value of your home by adding to its curb appeal.

So whether you're selling your home or just in search of ways to add to its aesthetic, here are some fencing options for various styles of homes.

For the Contemporary Home: Horizontal Wood Fence

If you have a contemporary, ultra-modern home, you certainly want to be careful when choosing the type of fence to install. Be sure that the fence you go with is just as modern as the home itself.

A wise choice might be to go with the classic stained wooden fence, but opt for the more modern, contemporary version with horizontal wood instead of vertical. The right stain can provide an attractive contrast to the white siding or glass that makes up the exterior of your modern home.

Commonly these kinds of fences provide added privacy for the modern glass that likely encompasses your contemporary abode.

For The Colonial Home: White Picket Fence

If you have a colonial home that is representative of the classic American residence, a classic white picket fence might be just the right choice. These modest and low-laying fences can offer just the contrast needed to make your house "pop" against its neighbors, instantly skyrocketing your home's appeal.

Typically these types of fences are made of wood and painted white, with a charming gate and walkway that leads to the front entrance of the home. This acts to highlight the home's entrance as the focal point as well, giving your home an added visual aesthetic.

For practicality, however, you can opt for vinyl fencing that is virtually identical to the wooden white picket fence, but does not require painting or repainting. Vinyl may initially cost more than wood, but being much easier to maintain, would likely be more cost-effective over time.

For The Bungalow: Ornamental Metal Fence

If you have a single or two-story bungalow house, you want to ensure that you don't install a fence that will take away from the home's visual appeal or be too overwhelming for the home's stature to handle. Often the perfect addition to this kind of humble abode is a simple, ornamental metal fence.

This low-maintenance fencing was traditionally made of cast iron metal, but commonly today the same design in fencing is composed of powder-coated, galvanized steel or aluminum, or sometimes a combination of both. This can be the perfect solution for you bungalow, and one that requires little upkeep too.

Bringing up your home's appeal while adding to the feeling of privacy when you are enjoying your home itself is certainly a project worth taking on. With the various options and styles available to you, you are sure to find a fence that is perfectly suitable for your house, creating a higher appeal for potential buyers and drawing more admiring glances from your neighbors.

For more information on fence styles that are perfect for your home, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Ultimate Guide To Winning At Auction! Don't Let Your Dream Home Slip Away

The Ultimate Guide to Winning at Auction! Don't Let Your Dream Home Slip AwayWhile the traditional method of trawling for sale listings, making bids, and negotiating with the seller has been a popular rite of passage for many home buyers, buying a house at auction is swiftly becoming a favored way to purchase property.

Buying a home through auction can be tricky, so it's best to do your research and keep your cool on auction day, lest you find yourself stuck with a less-than-ideal place to live for a price you didn't expect to pay. If you're in the market to buy through auction for the first time, here are some things you need to know.

How To Find Houses Up for Auction

Real estate agents will often use the same methods to sell a house by auction as they do in a traditional sale: adverts in newspapers and online, posters in their office windows, and signs outside the property.

Depending on the reason for the sale, a home auction may be held at a local courthouse, an auction house, or, in some cases, online.

Viewing A House Before Auction

It's always best to try before you buy, so make sure you are able to view the house prior to the auction. Some real estate agents will insist on exterior views of the home only, but, if you’re a new buyer, this may not be enough.

Seasoned home buyers can often pick a house by looking at the exterior and reading a description; buyers new to the game should bank on seeing inside first.

Checking The Price Of An Auction

Look into the price that is offered for the home you seek to buy; sometimes, if a house is in foreclosure, the starting price of the home may be the balance of the mortgage, or a lower price to get people to begin bidding. Lenders, such as banks, are not permitted to make a profit from selling a foreclosure and may often sell homes at a loss; look out for these bargains when checking house prices in your local area.

Bidding At An Auction

On auction day, make sure you enter the auction knowing the general value of the house and the maximum amount you are willing to pay; having these parameters set out will help prevent you from getting swept up in the auction process and bidding more than what you have or what the house is worth.

On the day, bring a cashier's check - auction holders ask winners to pay for auction fees, bidding fees, and a deposit on the purchase. If you are successful on auction day, you will then have to close the deal with the seller just like any other property purchase.

If you need financing, you may wish to be pre-cleared by your lending company before the auction. Also, be aware that your winning bid may not be accepted. Many homes have a reserve price, and if the reserve is not met, the house will not be sold on the day.

If you are interested in buying a home through auction, go into the process knowing that auctions can be riskier than buying a home via traditional means. Also remember that just because a house is up for auction doesn't mean you are guaranteed a good price. Some houses sell for a lot of money, and others sell cheaply but have hidden costs, such as urgent maintenance.

When you're ready to find your new home by auction, call your local trusted real estate professional for information, answers, and the best deals in town.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Four Places To Look For Tax Deductions In Your Home

Four Places To Look For Tax Deductions In Your Home Paying your income taxes each year leave your wallet a bit thin? There may be money hiding in your home that lessens your tax burden. Here are four places to look:

1. Home-Office Deduction

If you work from home, you could qualify for a home-office deduction. Taking the deduction can be a bit complicated; so many people who qualify don't claim the exemption. An estimated 26 million Americans have home offices, but only 3.4 million claim them on their tax return.

Perhaps that's why the Internal Revenue Service attempted to simplify the process in 2013.

The write-off takes into account depreciation, utilities, insurance, the amount of square footage dedicated for office space, whether you host clients at your house and other factors.

Because the parameters involved in filing a home-office exemption are rather complicated, it's best to keep all business-related receipts, records of client meetings and other pertinent information to make things easier when you prepare your return.

2. Casualty Loss

Damage to your home from an act of God or a theft or burglary may qualify you for an income tax exemption. To qualify for the write-off, the causality loss must meet the "sudden event test." That means it must be sudden, unpredictable, have involved some natural force and occur in a single instance.

To claim thefts and burglaries, you must be able to prove that a wrong doing has actually occurred. It can't just be a case of a lost item that you suspect was stolen. Proof can come in the form of witness statements, police reports or newspaper accounts.

3. Energy Efficiency Upgrades And Repairs

Upgrading your home with energy efficient improvements can qualify you for a tax deduction. New roofs, insulation, windows, doors and a number of additional items qualify for the deduction. The deductions lets homeowners claim 10 percent of the total bill for energy efficient materials. The maximum credit is $500.

4. Real Estate Taxes And Newly Purchased Homes

New home owners should look at their settlement statement a bit closer. If the previous owner prepaid property taxes that cover any of the time you owned the home, you can include the prepaid taxes in your property tax deduction.

Don't pay more than you have to when you file your taxes each April. Consider these commonly overlooked deductions that can lessen the amount you have to pay.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just How Sustainable Is The Micro Housing Trend?

Just How Sustainable Is the Micro Housing Trend?Something that the Europeans have been doing for decades has finally made its way over the Atlantic Ocean to North America: the trend is called micro housing, and it's turned into an entirely new way of living.

With micro housing, we're beginning to do away with oversize condos and even detached homes, learning to live in a more minimalistic manner and curbing our hoarding habits for good.

The affordability of micro housing is making it possible even for young adults and students to purchase their homes in the city centers across North America. But one must ask, is the micro housing trend good for the globe too?

Sustainability Of Micro Condominiums

Being able to pack a higher number of salable units into one building and lowering the prices to widen the market and encourage young buyers to purchase instead of rent is certainly economically beneficial; but is this trend sustainable and beneficial for the planet too?

As it turns out, the cost of building a micro-apartment structure over a regular sized one has a much lighter footprint on our earth. Micro-housing is a sustainable part of urban design because it is made to be a contributing asset to compact cities across North America, requiring less infrastructure cost, fewer resources, and a smaller environmental impact from shipping to construction to ongoing management and maintenance.

Some micro-buildings even have shared areas like kitchens and lounges; this helps to cut back on building costs even further and lessens air pollution from shipping.

Micro Homes: Are They Green?

Though micro detached homes are also on the rise, they have run into problems with bylaws in certain cities across North America. They may just be the way of the future, though, with the real estate prices in many areas growing out of control.

These micro homes are similar to the micro condominium units in their petite sizes, however they typically do not have a standard foundation, instead resting on screw piles that are attached to the ground. These easy-to-assemble micro homes, though perhaps battling with particular municipalities and their bylaws, offer practical housing that is sustainable too.

Green features of these micro homes include the additional options of a composting toilet, solar power energy systems, grey water treatment system and a rainwater collection system.

The Lifestyle Of The Micro-Housing Trend

Another factor that should be taken into consideration when looking at the sustainability of the micro-housing trend in the kind of lifestyle it is promoting. Generally situated in the dense city centers, micro housing encourages a lifestyle that is affordable, thereby attracting residents who will take public transit or be within walking distance to work or school, and lessening the need for the daily use of a vehicle.

Perhaps we're looking a little too enthusiastically at the future, but as it seems, the micro housing trend is bringing with it all kinds of benefits, both economically and sustainably. A lifestyle and housing solution that finally benefits the planet is always accepted among our modern cities across North America, and soon it may just be the reason to purchase instead of rent, allowing us to walk instead of drive.

For more information on the micro housing trend in your area, call your trusted real estate advisor today, and get in the know! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 7, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 7, 2014Last week's economic news included readings on February construction spending and multiple reports on employment data.

Private sector employment was higher in March, but The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-Farm Payrolls for March fell short of expectations. According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates ticked upward.

Employment And Unemployment News

ADP's payrolls report for March was higher than February's reading, with 191,000 new private sector jobs added. In February, 178,000 jobs were added. February's reading originally showed 138, 000 new jobs added.

While analysts were confident that private-sector employment was showing signs of stability, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics swamped excess confidence in labor markets Friday with its March reading for Non-Farm Payrolls.

192,000 jobs were added in March against predictions of 200,000 jobs added and February's reading of 197,000 jobs added.

The news was not all bad as job gains for January and February were revised upward. January's job gains were revised from 129,000 to 144,000 and February's reading was revised from 175,000 to 197,000 jobs added. The revised readings represent a total of 37,000 more jobs added.

As data impacted by severe winter weather "shakes out," it would not be surprising to see a revision to March's new jobless claims reading as well.

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady, Workforce Numbers Higher

While readings on employment have been up and down in recent months, the national unemployment rate has held relatively steady, with last week's reading at 6.70 percent. 503,000 workers joined the workforce this increased the labor participation rate for March from 63 percent to 63.20 percent.

Mortgage rates were incrementally higher last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 4.41 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.47 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.12 percent, which was two basis points higher than the previous week. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.50 percent.

This Week's Economic News Highlights

Job openings for February, FOMC minutes and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March are set for release this week. As usual, Freddie Mac will post results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey and weekly unemployment claims will also be reported.

Friday, April 4, 2014

7 Things You Should Do As Soon As You Move Into Your New Home To Slash Your Electricity Bill

7 Things You Should Do as Soon as You Move Into Your New Home to Slash Your Electricity BillMoving into your home is an exciting time, and you shouldn't allow higher than expected electricity bills to dampen your spirits. Every day, households around the world waste large amounts of energy.

If your home uses more energy than it needs to, you are the one that is paying the price. Luckily, there are many ways to make sure your home is running as efficiently as possible. Save yourself from 'utility shock' by taking these seven steps.

Make Energy Efficiency Your Electric Company's Business

When you first move into your home, have your appliances inspected by an authorized technician. You could call your appliance's manufacturer or the electric company to find someone to inspect your appliances.

If you do find yourself on the phone with the electric company, ask them if they have peak and off-peak hours. Often, there are times throughout the day where usage is at a premium, and the cost is higher than it would be at other times.

You should also ask if they have any tips or resources pertaining to your home's electrical usage. Electrical companies will often send you literature or an energy saving kit that can help make your home run more energy efficiently.

Get Fresh Furnace Filters And Examine Your Central Air System

When you move into a new home, it's difficult to know what kind of upkeep the previous owners performed on the furnace. Upon moving into your new home, you should have the filter on your furnace changed and your ducts examined and cleaned.

Do the same for any central cooling systems in the home. This way you'll feel confident that they are operating properly and producing the best air quality possible.

Wrap And Warm Your Hot Water Tank

The hot water tank is another area where you can save a significant amount of money. Set your hot water tank to a warm setting, instead of a hot one (this makes little difference in the water temperature at your tap, but it will save you money).

You could also purchase an insulating cover for the tank, and wrap the hot water pipes in the home. Insulation for your hot water tank and pipes is a cost-effective solution, and you can find plastic or foam pipe insulators at your local hardware store.

Evaluate The Situation From Windows To Insulation

Check the windows and doors of the home to make sure they are properly insulated. Fresh weather stripping and caulking will keep drafts out in the winter, and cool air in during the summer.

Another way to regulate your home's temperature is to replace the insulation in your attic. You could also install an attic fan to improve airflow.

A Bright Energy Saving Idea

Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. The cost is only slightly higher, and fluorescent bulbs last over five times as long as incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs give off a softer light, but are bright enough to light your home and will save a significant amount of electricity.

Get Your Windows Working With The Weather

Replace thin curtains with heavier weight window coverings. You can use the sunlight when you need it, and block it out when you don't. Heavy drapes are also great at keeping warm and cool air in your home. Having high quality window treatments may mean you use your thermostat and light switches less.

Properly Power Down Your Electronics

A surprising amount of the energy our electronics use is wasted while devices are powered down. Electronics that are off but are still plugged directly into an outlet do indeed burn energy. When you set up the electronics in your home, use power strips where you can. Flicking the bar off when electronics are not needed will lead to savings on your electric bill.

Once you have taken these steps, you can feel good knowing you are saving money and being environmentally responsible. Energy efficient handy work and home improvements also qualify for significant tax credits.

Make sure you keep your receipts and invoices, as they could mean cash back in your pocket come tax season. If you decide to take your savings and move up and out, contact a local real estate professional for assistance in finding the perfect place to call home.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Staging Your Home For Sale? Follow This Easy Guide And Find Success!

Staging Your Home For Sale Follow This Easy Guide And Find SuccessIf you are going to be staging your home for sale in the near future, you will most likely want to do it as professionally and successfully as possible to get the best sale price.

Many owners have to put a lot of money into their home before they can sell it, and some even invest in a staging expert to come to their home and do an assessment before they put it on the market.

You don't have to spend too much on getting your home ready, though, and you can do a lot of it yourself. Consider these basic staging tips when you are going to stage your home.

Clean Your Home From Top To Bottom

While you would most likely clean your home before you attempt to sell it, if you really want your sale to be successful, clean every single thing in the home. This includes steam cleaning the carpets, washing and waxing the floors, getting the grout and grunge out of the tiles and more.

If you don't have the time or energy to do it yourself, you might want to pay for a professional home cleaning service so you can guarantee cleanliness.

Give Your Home One Basic Hue

If you are going to be selling your home, there are some colors that may put off potential buyers. If you have rooms in colors like fire engine red or bright mint green, the buyer may be put off with just one glance.

Choose one soft color and paint the whole home. You may require a professional painter's advice and help in this area if you have no eye for design or if you do not possess any color coordination techniques.

Say No To Clutter

This is a very important step. Get rid of the clutter in your home.

If you have loads of newspapers, magazines, mini statues and miscellaneous junk sitting around your home and on coffee tables, clear it off. Put it away in storage boxes so you can take it when you move - or do some spring cleaning and get rid of everything you don't need.

Show as much counter space as you possibly can, as this will better represent the space.

Potential buyers can quickly change their yes to a no when they enter the home that they first adored from the outside, only to see clutter everywhere. Logically, everyone knows a home will be emptied before selling, but the clutter can ruin the whole feeling of purchasing a new home.

Perform Some Minor Repairs

If you notice scratches, rips, blotches or any broken items in the home, try to fix them yourself or hire a professional handyman service. Repairing your home before a sale will definitely improve your home's appearance and value, making it more appealing to the buyer.

Selling a home is often a challenge, but with a little bit of hard work, you can turn your home into a move-in ready paradise for potential buyers.

You'd be surprised what a thorough cleaning and a new coat of paint can do for a space. For expert assistance with home staging, contact me, your knowledgeable real estate professional, today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Ideal Investment Property: What Features Should You Be Looking for the First Time Around?

The Ideal Investment Property: What Features Should You Be Looking for the First Time Around?When purchasing a piece of real estate, it is important to ensure that the features of the home meet your criteria and best serve your goals.

An ideal investment property has many important features that will differ from the vital features of an owner-occupied piece of property, and therefore it's important when choosing an investment property to know what you should be looking for.

Here's what you need to know if you're investing in a rental property for the very first time.

Consider The Furnishings To Capitalize On Your Condo

When looking to purchase a condominium, it's important to first ensure that the building allows for rentals, and that rental terms are flexible.

Second, one should do research about the building and the community's rental market to ensure that the rent will cover the mortgage, or at least the majority of it.

Generally, two plus bedroom condominiums are easier to rent out than one-bedroom units, and will render a higher rental profit - though one-bedroom suites in high-traffic areas and close to universities can be highly profitable. 

Furnishing your condominium and marketing it as fully furnished can render a much higher rental income for renters who are willing to pay a premium, though this may mean shorter rental terms and perhaps a little more work on the part of the owner.

Centrally located condominiums with nearby amenities and access to public transit tend to net higher rental rates, as well as condominiums that offer parking.

Detached House: Maximize Rental Income Under One Roof

When looking to purchase a detached home for your investment, you can significantly increase the rental income by choosing a property that offers multiple dwellings to rent out.

You can achieve this by purchasing a home with a sufficient basement suite that will allow two rental incomes under one roof. Other options include purchasing a duplex or triplex property, and some single-family dwellings have lane homes or coach houses that can be rented out separately.

Long-Term Gain: Location, Location, Location

Location, though perhaps not everything, is certainly a major factor when looking for a long-term financial gain from your real estate investment. Purchasing in areas that have a history of rising property values is a good way to maximize your returns, and up-and-coming neighborhoods with planned future developments can be a promising sign of a growing, profitable location.

Already-established areas with high property values, though they may not offer an initial "steal" on the property itself, tend to continue growing and may offer a safer bet for future gain. Spend time in the neighborhood you are considering for a future investment, and place heavy consideration on the possible growth of the area before you purchase your investment property.

Choosing the type of property as well as the area it's located in are important factors in making a wise real estate investment, both for the short term and the long term. The final component to consider is timing, which can significantly affect the overall profitability of your investment purchase.

The best thing you can do to help your decision of when to buy is to speak to your real estate advisor. Ask your real estate agent for a market report today, and get shopping for your ideal investment property!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning ChecklistWhile most homeowners are vigilant about regularly wiping down surfaces, disinfecting bathrooms, dusting furniture and mopping floors, there are many nooks and crannies that don’t receive as much attention.

That’s why March is the perfect month to do an annual overhaul on your home. Below is a spring cleaning checklist to help you knock it out.

Living Room

  • Wash curtains and throw pillows.
  • Take rugs outside and beat them.
  • Vacuum and spot clean sofas.
  • Dust lampshades.
  • Wipe down the television and all other electronics.


  • Organize and clean cabinets.
  • Sort pantry and discard items past their due date
  • Go through your refrigerator. Take everything out, wipe down shelves and throw out anything that has expired.
  • Clean refrigerator coils. Cut off power to the refrigerator and remove the grill plate. Vacuum the coils with the extendable attachment.


  • Dust and wipe down furniture. Oil wooden pieces, especially antiques.
  • Freshen the bed. Wash the duvet or comforter, the mattress pad and the pillows to remove mold and bacteria.
  • Rotate the mattress and sprinkle baking soda on it. Vacuum the baking soda up after 10 minutes. Move the bed and sweep underneath.
  • Clean out your dresser. Take out all of the clothing and sort through it. Wipe down the drawers and replace your clothes. Donate anything you haven’t worn in the past year.
  • Tend to the closet. Remove everything and clean the floor and shelves. Replace clothing and set aside clothes for donation.


  • Launder all soft materials, such as bath mats, shower curtains and window coverings.
  • Wipe down vents and fans.
  • Remove all items from under the sink or linen cabinet and clean the shelves. Throw away old makeup or hair products. Donate ratty or too-thin towels to a local animal shelter.
  • Use bleach on the tub and toilet to get them bright white.

Basement And Garage

  • Defrost the deep freezer. Unplug it and remove all items. Once the ice has melted, wipe down the sides with baking soda and warm water.
  • Organize stored items into two piles. Store stuff you’ll need in the next six months, such as clothes and decorations on one side. Put items that may be there for years on the other.