Our Real Estate Blog
Don’t underestimate the importance of a fresh coat of paint when it comes to preparing to sell your home. Apart from changing the look of your space, it also adds to the value of your house. Painting can make your home feel brand new and attract the attention of serious buyers. While painting can be an overwhelming and messy task, don't allow this to deter you. With the following tips, you can complete the task in less time and cleanup will be a snap.
Use heavy foil
Line your paint tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil. When changing colors or you’re done for the day, pour the excess back into the can, and toss the foil.
Cut edging tape
If you’re using painters or masking tape to protect your trim, run a utility knife down the edge of the tape before attempting to remove it. This will make it easier to remove and create a cleaner edge.
Try cleaning up your brushes with warm water and fabric softener if you are using water-based paint. The fabric softener dissolves paint easily because it is a surfactant and leaves the bristles soft and pliable. Rinse the brush thoroughly and allow it to air dry.
If you’re using drop cloths, consider using cloths that are long and narrow. This configuration is easier to move around your room and generally won’t involve a lot of folding or gathering. You’ll be less likely to trip or get your ladder caught in extra material.
An excellent alternative to drop fabric or plastic is cardboard. Flattened cartons prevent paint from dripping on your floors and protect them from damage by ladders and scaffolding. Another advantage of using dismantled boxes is that their smooth edges stick closer to baseboards protecting floors from drips, spatter, and overspray.
Painting your home will add value and freshness to your home. Consult with your real estate agent about current color trends.
Tips for Finding the Ideal Vacation Property to Meet Your Needs
Are you considering getting into the vacation rental business? Purchasing a short-term rental property can be a good way to invest in real estate because it comes with many benefits.
● You can bring in additional income.
● The rent payments can cover all associated expenses and, ideally, exceed those expenses in some cases.
● You own a property that you can use for your own vacations.
● You can target a wide range of guests by choosing a hot location.
● You can save money by doing certain repairs and upgrades yourself.
While purchasing a vacation rental comes with many perks, it’s important to approach it in a way that puts you in the best position to succeed. Here are some practical tips for finding and buying the ideal vacation property in your desired area.
Determine What You Want
First of all, you need to know what you want in a vacation rental before you go any further into the process. Even if you already have a city or a general area in mind, where the actual property sits is always critical. Do you want to simply rent it out to guests year-round? If so, you will need to make sure you choose a location that has a high occupancy rate. Do you plan on staying there yourself multiple weeks throughout the year? If this is the case, make sure the place provides reasonable access to all your desired activities, whether it’s hiking, relaxing on the beach, going out on the lake, or any other kind of activity.
Determine What You Can Afford.
Once you know what to look for in a property, you need to gauge the affordability. Research the occupancy rates in your preferred location, compare your estimated income and costs of owning the property, and factor it all in to see what kind of cash flow you can expect. Even if your primary goal is not to make a profit, the last thing you want is a money pit.
Knowing what you can afford will also help you know what to look for in a loan. You only have a few options when it comes to getting a loan for a second home or investment property. Conventional mortgages are the most common options, and you will need to discuss with your lender what’s needed for you to qualify. A conventional loan also means that you can choose between a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage, and if you pay 20percent or more down, you won’t have to pay for mortgage insurance.
Find Somewhere That Has Something for Everyone
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re looking for the perfect vacation property is that you want it to appeal to a wide range of potential guests. Mountains, lakes, beaches, and other natural attractions go a long way in keeping occupancy rates high. However, if your preferred area doesn’t offer such attractions, you at least need several activities for guests to choose from during their stay — from reputable restaurants to dog parks to mini-golf.
Also, be sure that the property itself is always in good shape. This means that you will want to keep the place spotless at all times and update the furnishings, paint, and appliances as needed. Moreover, make sure you stay on top of any necessary repairs,whether you do them yourself or hire a property management company to take care of it. If you’re hiring a property manager, go with one that promises professional housekeeping service, screens potential guests, and provides on-the-ground support.
If you’re thinking of investing in a vacation property, ensure you have an understanding of what you want before you start looking. Consider the area you’re looking at, go through the math on any property you’re interested in, and figure out what you can afford. Finally, get a property that can satisfy a wide range of guests, and ensure it stays well-maintained and updated. Applying these tips to your quest for a vacation rental will help the whole process go more smoothly.
Photo Credit: Burst
Restoring native habitat to our surroundings is like pressing the "refresh" button on biodiversity. Homeowners who embrace native gardening are making big contributions to healthy landscapes, which is great for maintaining the native ecosystems.
Making a Difference—Beautifully
Native plants are the greenery that would grow in certain areas with or without human intervention. These plants evolved along with the rest of the living community in the same area, meaning native, dynamic gardening brings in more than plants. It buzzes with life and energy, above and below the soil - from flitting birds to pollinating insects.
The impact of native plant species on even a small stretch of land is impressive. Areas where oak trees thrive, for example, can sustain about a hundred times the diversity as other types of nursery trees. This is all due to the fact that the oak is the native tree of the land and has a built-in capacity for the surrounding ecosystems.
What's more, native gardens produce beautiful flowers, abundant fruits, and lovely, ever-changing seasonal displays of subtle and vibrant hues. They produce the age-old foods of a local area's wildlife. The nectar attracts pollinators, such as bats and hummingbirds.
Payoffs of Native Gardening
You can re-do your garden completely and go 100% native— or choose to implement a majority of native plants with a few accented implants. You could also gradually transform your garden by bringing a few native plants yearly into what you already have. This is called "conservation by addition."
Either way, native plants in a landscape or garden take about as much effort as establishing other plants you might buy from a market or nursery. Yet after their roots take hold, native plants can flourish with surprisingly little gardening work.
Indigenous plants have evolved to do well in the local weather and soil. This means they rarely need extra resources or sprinkler systems for support. Great news for water bills! No matter what size your garden project, your native garden can help save water and key resources.
Plus, oaks, maples, and other native trees to your region work efficiently to hold in carbon dioxide while replenishing precious oxygen. These trees continually add shade, beauty, and pure, refreshed air to your surroundings.
Ready to Give It a Go?
Visit natural areas around you. This will give you ideas about what will fit in well on your property. Use your zip code to find local plants that will delight your local birds and bees.
Contact other gardeners in your area for advice. Social media is another great source of tips.
Then enjoy learning, and celebrating the natural character of the land on which you live.
Here's How to Sell Your Home With a Mortgage
You purchased your “forever home,” but now your employer wants to transfer you to another office in a different state. With years left to pay on your mortgage, you need to know your options for relocating. If taking on a second mortgage isn’t in the cards, don’t worry, here’s how you can sell your home with a mortgage.
Calculate exactly how much you owe
Don’t panic, most sellers have a mortgage on their home, you just need to do the math to make sure you walk away free and clear. The first thing you need to do is find out your mortgage payoff amount. Many people often confuse their monthly current balance total for the amount they owe on their current mortgage, but you need to contact your lender directly to find out the total you’ll be responsible for paying off the loan amount.
Because you planned on this being your forever home, you may have taken a loan from a lender who charges mortgage prepayment penalties (as though paying off your loan debt early is a bad thing). A quick phone call to the bank will let you know the exact number you need to pay off your current mortgage amount, taking into account any interest and fees.
Determine how much you can realistically sell your home for
Now that you know what your mortgage payoff amount is, you need to determine the price you can command when you sell your house. This is where it pays to find a talented and knowledgeable real estate agent because they will conduct a comparative market analysis -- using the sale prices of similar homes in your neighborhood -- to determine your house’s current market value.
Put your math skills to the test. With a solid number to use as a sale price, you now need to figure out what you will be making from the sale of your home. A down and dirty number will simply be the amount of your home sale price, minus your mortgage payoff amount. The remaining number will be your profit, and how much you can roll into a downpayment on your next home if you’re planning to buy again.
If you want to deep dive into your calculations, further subtract the amount of your downpayment and closing costs on your current home to accurately determine how much you’ll make from the sale of your home.
The numbers may not be in your favor
Don’t be surprised if you don’t profit from the sale of your home, especially if you’ve only lived in your home for a short time. Prepayment penalties and static home values can often leave you leaving that original downpayment on the table, especially if you sell after owning your house for less than five years. Another scenario to steel yourself for is the possibility that you paid more than your house is currently worth when you originally purchased. Many different factors can lead to soaring home prices, leaving people with mortgages in excess of their home’s actual value when the real estate market bottoms out. While this scenario is rare these days, there is the possibility that your home sale will not pay off your mortgage amount, leaving you to pull from personal funds to satisfy the remaining balance.
Don’t forget the property taxes
Once you have a settlement date, check with your local taxing authority to find out how much you owe, if anything, in real estate taxes to-date. If your municipality sends quarterly property tax bills, you may need to contact them to get a pro-rated amount; you’re responsible for those taxes up until your settlement date. In some areas, homeowners prepay their property taxes each year, making them eligible for a refund when they sell their home.
Selling your home with a mortgage is definitely possible and isn’t a major hassle, as long as you’re prepared. Make sure to crunch the numbers to optimize your profit, ensuring a healthy downpayment on your next “forever home.”
When it comes to a mortgage, most of us think of the same standard product; the 15 or 30 year conventional mortgage offered by banks and lenders. This is not the only mortgage option you have, though. Depending on your personal history and circumstances you may qualify for an attractive mortgage with lower rates and a small down payment. Examining your options and determining if you qualify for a less common type of mortgage allows you to have the greatest amount of flexibility and more options when it comes to your new home. Learning more about the different types of mortgages ensures you get the best possible terms when it comes to this significant purchase.
FHA, VA and USDA Loans: Explore your Mortgage Options
An FHA loan is one that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration; if the buyer was to default or fail to pay, the FHA would pay the lender instead. Because of this guarantee, lenders are able to offer mortgages with less rigid requirements and accept more potential risk. FHA loans benefit the borrower in several key ways; they offer low down payments, credit score requirements of just 620 and that FHA guarantee for lenders. There are income guidelines and limits for the amount that can be borrowed, so you should check to see if your potential loan qualifies. A fast and easy approval process makes this a good option for many borrowers, though you should note PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) is required and adds an additional amount to your monthly bill.
Often the most overlooked and misunderstood, a USDA loan is backed by the Department of Agriculture in the same way an FHA loan is backed by the Housing Administration. USDA loans are designed to help people in rural and suburban areas become homeowners and offer attractive rates and very low closing costs and down payments. If you are looking for a mortgage, it is worth checking your eligibility. Both your income and the home you are considering need to be eligible, but since an estimated 90% of the homes in the country qualify, USDA could be the right product for you.
A VA loan is backed by the Veteran's Administration and is available to active members and veterans of the US armed forces. This is the most attractive alternative to conventional loans of all, if you qualify. Designed to make it easy for service members to buy a home, this loan features little or no down payment, easy lending guidelines and appealing rates for veterans. If you qualify, the VA loan is an excellent option for your new home.
Learning about your options makes it easy to find the right home mortgage for your situation. Chances are, you will qualify for one or more of the loan types above; you should compare the terms of the FHA, USDA or VA loan you are considering with a conventional mortgage to make the best possible choice for your new home purchase.