It’s Pumpkin Spice Season: Plan A Neighborhood Potluck

It's Pumpkin Spice Season Plan A Neighborhood PotluckFall is the time to get back into a comfortable routine, but it’s also a great time to incorporate social events into weekend work parties, and gather friends to offer neighbors a helping hand — or just moral support — to spruce up their property.

While building a new sense of community may be a side effect, it can’t be denied that giving homes in need of minor repairs a little TLC is good for the dollar value of the neighborhood as well as for the soul. REALTORS agree that the overall appeal of a neighborhood adds value to individual homes.

Police departments and security companies also note that cohesive communities are less prone to crime than neighborhoods where residents don’t really know one another.

A Community Work Day

While it’s not uncommon for some subdivisions to sponsor periodic get-togethers, or hold multi-family garage sales and social events, the idea of a day to share work and expertise to tidy up individual homes is less common. But it represents an ideal solution for residents who could use a helping hand to accomplish minor upkeep and repair projects.

Especially if you live in a neighborhood with some older residents, planning a coordinated “home improvement day” can be a unique and wonderful way to bring different generations together. Community work days are a great way to complete seasonal maintenance projects before the weather turns bad. It’s also a way to make light work out of required tasks and to have some fun as well.

Here are some ideas on how to do it right — the results can be greater than expected.

  • Talk the idea up with your neighbors: Set a tentative date and divide up the planning tasks.
  • Start a checklist of neighborhood skills. Chances are you’ll find engineers, carpenters, painters, and neighbors with plumbing and electrical skills among the residents. And there are also apt to be artists and craftspeople, master gardeners and children who love to rake leaves or pull weeds!
  • Plan block party, potluck dinner or homemade ice cream social for the culmination of the workday or weekend, and get as many people as possible involved.

A weekend work project is reminiscent of old-fashioned barn raisings. It’s also a way to build a new sense of community, as well as to add neighborhood appeal and value. The food and the fellowship are bonuses!

There are, however, some cautions: Help should be freely offered, and readily accepted. But leave costly or complicated repairs to professionals. This kind of event should be strictly for easy DIY labor needs.

Done right, this kind of ongoing community effort can become a lasting and honored tradition. It’s worth a try, right? In the end, the entire neighborhood wins.

If you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about current financing options.

 

 

Common Misconceptions About House Flipping

Common Misconceptions About House FlippingReality TV shows have energized everyday people to dive into the real estate market and make money flipping houses. The dramatic presentation and profitable end results make the industry seem like a sure thing. But house-flipping, like any industry, has its share of challenges.

Television often props up ratings by showing industry pros overcoming adversity and getting a big win. But reality, unlike Reality TV, is filled by behind-the-scenes unknown obstacles. While house-flipping has emerged as a viable niche profession, these are some of the common misconceptions entrepreneurs may want to consider before wading into the business.

Perfect Properties Are Available

On television, the home-flipping team often settles on that perfect property that will yield amazing results. It’s important to understand that’s a Hollywood formula designed to improve viewership.

In reality, the perfect home is like finding a unicorn. Most flipping projects deal with less-than-perfect properties. What remains important for home-flippers is that the property enjoys structural integrity and the basic elements are in place.  

Projects Run On Time

Watching a home-flipping show makes the process seem quick and easy. After all, many of the shows run between 30 minutes and one hour. Your project time will be considerably longer.

Starting with a listing search through the initial buy, even industry insiders spend months securing a property. After that, the permitting process can be onerous and renovations are commonly met with unforeseen setbacks. Whether you discover mold behind walls or structural issues, remodeling generally experiences delays. Once you get everything copacetic, inspection waiting periods can be excessive. Projects rarely run on time.

Construction Budgets Are Just Math

Watching a TV personality whip out a calculator and add up remodeling costs makes it look simple. There are square footages, materials, labor and other tangibles. Home builders and remodeling professionals are quick to dispute such simplicity because too many “intangibles” exist.

Consider replacing the clapboard on the exterior of a home. One might expect to calculate the square footage and order an equal amount of material. But an experienced contractor might tell you to start by ordering an additional 10 percent to account for waste. That’s because a percentage of material that gets cut might not be reusable.

After accounting for that 10 percent, add another 10 for human error. Many types of clapboard require builders to set the commercially-cut end to the interior only. When inexperienced workers make erroneous cuts, increased waste can be produced. This theme runs across a variety of materials and other aspects of construction. It’s unlikely your crew will be filled with 25-year veterans. Mistakes are more common and costlier than you might expect.

ROI Can Be Measured Accurately

Beginner home-flippers tend to look at the cost of the property, add updating costs and the average market value of similar homes as the basis for determining return on investment (ROI). But selling prices can be more fickle than one might expect.

Today’s home buyers are looking for certain things from newly renovated properties. The math no longer amounts to adding total rooms, bathrooms, square footage and location. While the country is in the midst of a seller’s market due to a significant inventory shortage, home-flippers would be wise to calculate ROI based on a sliding scale.

If the property lacks the conveniences favored by Millennials or other groups buying up homes, it could sell for less than expected. That’s another reason why home-flippers are wise to enlist the guidance of a local real estate professional to gain a reasonable grasp on home trends and pricing.

Don’t forget to calculate in the costs of financing your project. Most often, people utilize a lender to help carry costs. It’s important to meet with your trusted mortgage professional to find the best terms for financing prior to starting your new endeavor.

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your Home

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your HomeDownsizing at any stage of life can offer multiple benefits. Less square footage may come with a smaller price tag and usually means less space to clean. However, when downsizing a home, there’s usually the question of what to do with everything. That’s when creative storage ideas become essential. 

Before Downsizing, Take Stock

Before selecting the best storage options, it’s important to first take stock of all personal items, from furniture to clothing, kitchen gadgets, and keepsakes. Sort into items to keep, donate, discard, and place in long-term storage. Long-term storage may mean investing in a self-storage unit to hold things like seasonal decor. Less stuff can mean less storage space needed in a smaller home.

Maximize Closet Space

It doesn’t need to be a walk-in closet to have the capacity to store an array of personal items. Maximize any closet’s storage space with a few tricks. Install a second tier hanging rod and rely on an expandable shoe rack to keep the floor clutter-free. Reduce the number of hangers used by layering outfits on a single hanger — blouse, sweater, and necklace or dress shirt, tie, and jacket. Store seasonal clothing, linens, and pillows in space-saver bags that remove bulk.

Rely On Under-the-Bed Storage

Even in homes with expansive square footage, under the bed often is an under-utilized space. Shoes, books, and other items are shoved out-of-sight, collecting dust and remaining unorganized. When downsizing, every space should have a purpose. Depending on the bed height, consider flat storage boxes ideal for clothing, blankets, and other items. Storage boxes with rollers can make it easy to access and act like an additional set of drawers.

Choose Space-Saving Furniture

The popularity of tiny houses and the number of people downsizing has created a boom of innovative space-saving furniture options. For the living room there are ottomans that open to reveal storage space for pillows, blankets, or video cases. Consider a couch with built-in drawers that slide out. In the bedroom, there are multiple bed choices that have built-in drawers and storage, perfect if the room doesn’t have dresser space. 

Open Shelves Provide Functionality Plus Style

Whether in the kitchen, bedroom, or main living area, open shelves offer great functionality in a smaller space while providing style to the home’s decor. Use them as storage for books, collections, and artwork. They’re ideal when there isn’t space for large bookcases or a coffee table. In the kitchen, open shelves can hold everything from dishes to glassware and potted herbs.

Whether you are looking to buy a smaller home or make modifications to your current home, your trusted home mortgage professional can help you navigate all of your financing opportunities.

 

Plant Now For Spring Beauty

Plant Now For Spring BeautyWhile the weather is still pleasant this fall, it can be a good idea to plan ahead for early spring blooms. Trim shrubbery, plant bulbs, install new edging or add whimsical garden accessories to assure that when spring rolls around you’ll have something attractive to look at. Getting creative now will boost your spirits when winter seems to last longer than it should!

Whether you want to beautify for your own enjoyment or spruce up your yard with the intention of listing a home for sale come spring, get a headstart on your goals by taking time now to plan for spring.

Plant Early Spring Flowering Bulbs

If you want a profusion of color in your early spring garden, now is the time to plan for it. Most flowering bulbs require ample in-ground time in order to thrive, so it’s always wise to check with a local nursery before purchasing specific varieties of bulbs. Gardening success depends on adapting to local conditions.

Seek out a qualified expert if you have little experience, and then plan to experiment until your garden grows just the way you want it to. In most areas, the first flowers to bloom include crocus and daffodils, as well as some varieties of tulips.

Plan Your Planting Beds

Depending on your locale, fall can also be a good time to plant new trees and and perennial shrubs. Again, it pays to ask questions and to plan ahead. Even if it’s not the optimal planting season, direct your efforts towards defining planting beds, soil preparation, and various hardscape elements. 

Cooler weather brings with it the chance to do some of the “heavy lifting” of landscape design: install brick or stone walkways, dry riverbeds, low stone walls, or decks and patios. By completing these tasks now, when spring arrives you’ll be able to concentrate on the fun parts of landscaping.

Plant an Edible Garden

Growing edible plants is a new trend: Not only are they generally easy to maintain, but the “fruits of your labor” are just as good to eat as they are to look at. A simple 4×4 raised bed garden can supply a wonderful variety of produce throughout the growing season and you’d be surprised as how they help create unique landscape appeal.

Some of the best crops for fall planting include cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and carrots. Even if you don’t eat them, they add a unique dimension to the landscape. Use showy cabbage along a garden path, and plant some carrots among heavier shrubs to create a lighter border.

Just remember that all growing things need a bit of tending to look their best. So be willing to spend a bit of time regularly in the garden — your plants will benefit from the attention, and you’re sure to enjoy it as well!

If you are interested in refinancing your current home or buying a new home, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss financing options.

Easy Decor Tricks That Make Any Home A Standout

Easy Decor Tricks That Make Any Home A StandoutIf your home’s style currently wouldn’t win any awards, there’s no reason to put off a redo indefinitely. With a little ingenuity and a few hours of time, it’s possible to transform a “Plain Jane” into a trendsetter.

Here’s how:

Paint and Pattern

Almost any designer will tell you that color is the best way to alter the character of a room. It doesn’t have to be dramatic; even a subtle change of tone, texture or pattern on a single wall can be a distinctive focal point. If your home lacks architectural detail, you might consider adding wood paneling to one wall or to the ceiling. It can be rustic or refined, and it will add instant appeal and point the way to further decor ideas.

If you don’t want to make major changes, hang simple fabric panels on a decorative rod to frame a window; or add color throughout a room with accessories — textured accent pillows, cozy throws, ceramic lamp bases or attractive woven baskets that do double duty as storage containers.

Framed Photographs

Create a gallery wall by collecting favorite vacation shots, art photographs or family portraits. Depending on your personal taste and your decor style, frame them similarly or create a lively display by interspersing other shapes and objects into the grouping.

It’s best to have a plan, however, before you start pounding nails in the wall. Create your wall montage by first laying it out on the floor or on a large table. Then take measurements and transfer the whole arrangement to your wall.

Family Memorabilia

If you have a variety of items that have special meaning, it’s best to display them or use them regularly rather than to hide them away. Furniture, china, antique clocks or kitchen tools, books — even old clothing or uniforms — can be attractive and impressive when grouped together and displayed.

You don’t want to create a museum in your home, but if you curate a collection with care, it can be meaningful and beautiful at the same time. Small objects are best displayed in some kind of case or on enclosed bookshelves. Furniture, however, can still be functional even if put to a use far different than was originally intended.

Sports Ribbons and Trophies

The rule is: If it has meaning to you, it’s worth showing off. So signed game balls, jerseys and team photographs, as well as the swim team trophy from college or the first place debate ribbon you won in high school should have a place in your home as well as in your heart. They can be as important in your life as your college diploma or your wedding portrait, and you wouldn’t dream of hiding them in a closet, would you?

Your home should reflect your personality, not the style sense of a magazine editor.

Unless, of course, you’re actively trying to sell the house. Then it’s best to pack away some of the personal items and contact your trusted mortgage professional for pre-approval financing on your next home purchase. 

 

Outdoor Projects That Will Help You Sell Your Home

Outdoor Projects That Will Help You Sell Your HomeFirst impressions matter when you’re selling your home. Curb appeal is what draws potential buyers to your home. It can make or break a home sale.

Attractive landscaping or an appealing entryway can determine whether or not buyers walk through your front door. If the outside of your house is poorly kept up, they probably won’t bother to see the inside.

You don’t have to have a large budget or tons of time to make your home look appealing from the outside. Here are some easy outdoor projects that will help you sell your home.

Get Rid Of Clutter

Getting rid of clutter and garbage in your yard is one of the easiest and cheapest things that you can do to make your home look great. Pretend that you are a buyer. Walk around your home and look for clutter. Pick up any plastic, paper, branches or other garbage that has made its way into your yard. Remove trash cans, skateboards, bikes and garden tools. If you have newspapers on your front porch, clear them away.

Clean Up The Landscaping

The last thing that you want is for buyers to pull up to your house and see an overgrown lawn that is littered with weeds. If you have listed your home on the market, it is important to keep the lawn looking neat and trimmed. Prune overgrown shrubs and trim hedges. Weed and water your flower gardens. Add a layer of mulch to all of your flower beds, as well. Sweep away any dead leaves or small branches. Make sure that you are mowing and weed-eating your lawn on a regular basis.

Repaint the Exterior

Repainting your exterior doesn’t cost a ton of money and it can enhance the value of your home quite a bit. It is especially important to repaint if your existing wood trim and front door have peeling paint. Adding a new coat of paint can be done over a weekend in most cases.

Update Lighting  

If you have old or broken exterior lighting, consider updating it. This is another job that does not take much time or money and can quickly give your home a facelift. Plus, exterior lighting is a great safety feature and something that most buyers appreciate.

Replace Broken Fixtures

Take a look at your door hardware, doorbell, house numbers, mailbox and other exterior fixtures. Do they look worn or old? Are they broken? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then it is time to replace these things. Brushed nickel or bronze are both very nice exterior finishes. They work equally well in both contemporary and traditional homes.

Whether you are looking to reinvest in a new property or access your home equity for improvement projects, your trusted mortgage professional is available to answer all of your financing questions.

 

 

Tips For Selling Your Home In The Fall

Tips For Selling Your Home In The FallFootball season has kicked off, temperatures are cooling and pumpkin spice everything is for sale in the stores. Yes, fall is here. While most people associate the spring and summer months as the ideal times of year to buy or sell, fall is still a great time to put your home on the market.

Families tend to want to get into their new homes prior to the holiday season, so buyers are typically still very active during the fall months. That said, there are plenty of ways that you can ready your home for a fast fall sale. Here’s a look at several tried and true tips to increase your curb appeal and move your property this autumn:

Keep The Yard Free Of Debris

Chances are your yard is full of leaves in the fall. But because temperatures are cooler and the days are shorter, fall is also a time of the year when your lawn looks its greenest and most lush. Make sure your leaves are cleaned up to show off the true potential of your yard (not to mention create the impression that your home is well maintained and cared for). Rake daily if you have to. If you don’t like raking, set the lawn mower to a low setting and bag the mulched leaves.

Autumn Curb Appeal

Buy some mums, a haystack and perhaps even some pumpkins or gourds to decorate your home with. These are perfect fall decor and can really help make your home stand out to potential buyers.

Hit The Lights

The days are shorter in the fall, which means that the natural light inside of your home may be waning during show times. That said, make sure all of the lights in the home are turned on prior to showings to create a well-lit, welcoming environment. 

Clean The Fireplace

With the nights getting cooler, fall is the perfect time of the year to start up the fireplace. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure that this is mentioned in the listing. Also make sure that the fireplace is clean and looks inviting in case the buyer wants to turn it on. If you have a natural fireplace, don’t fret. Even if you don’t use it, make sure that it’s cleaned out and looks ready to use.

Clean Your Gutters

In addition to making sure your yard is leaf-free, make sure that your gutters are also clean. You don’t want to give buyers the impression that your home isn’t well cared for. Plus, gutters overflowing with leaves can make the buyer think that the home requires excessive maintenance, which can be a turn off.

While preparing to sell your home, don’t forget to plan ahead for your new home. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your pre-approval and financing in order. 

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home Generator

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home GeneratorHome improvements are key investments when it comes to quality of life and property value. While decks, solar panels and smart technologies are trendy options, installing a home generator may be even more valuable. That’s because backup generators not only improve market value, they also protect you and your home during severe weather incidents.

Consider these four reasons why a home generator makes good sense.

Protect Against Severe Weather

The impact of severe weather can reach catastrophic proportions. Thousands of people are left without electricity for days — even weeks — after storms. Heat waves also put an inordinate strain on the power grid when all of those air conditioners and HVAC go into 24-hour overdrive.

The consequences of extended power losses are generally fouled foods in the refrigerator and freezer, unbearable temperatures and an inability to take corrective measures to the physical property itself. When the grid goes down, you may be left powerless as the losses mount.   

Keeps Critical Systems Operational

When the power goes down for an extended period of time, important electronics become inoperable. If you work from home or rely on electronic devices to earn a living, either you’re putting in for vacation time or losing money. But beyond the financial implications, many people need power for vital medical equipment to function. It’s simply too risky to not have a backup plan if you or a loved one suffers from a health condition.

Backup Generators Improve Home Security

We have all seen the national news coverage about post-storm or brownout crime waves. Looting and burglary ran rampant when residents are evacuated. That’s because criminals know full well that your alarm system went down with the power.

Consider the accumulated wealth you have at home and irreplaceable personal items. Those could be lost if your home gets robbed during a power outage. Fortunately, installing a home generator will allow you to keep the lights on and thugs away. Just having your lights on at night demonstrates that you have electricity and that acts as a powerful deterrent. A backup generator provides peace of mind against theft.

Backup Generators Improve Property Values

It only makes sense that a home generator will increase your property value. After all, home generator installations are direct financial investments.

According to Consumer Reports, installing a home generator can improve your home’s value by as much as 3-5 percent. Similarly, Remodeling Magazine indicated that the return on investment for a home generator installing can range as high as 150 percent. Of course, those figures may be weighed against the money you saved by being powered up when the grid was down as well.

The point of this discussion is that while new kitchens and smart homes are exciting ways to amp up your home’s values, improvements such as backup generators have a quiet value worth considering.

If you are interested in improving your property and need additional funding, contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about the types of programs available to help you access the equity in your home. 

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

The garage is often the last thing on seller’s minds when it comes to home staging. It is prudent to make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are perfect for showings. Make sure that you don’t neglect your garage when getting your home ready to sell.

A good-looking garage can be a great selling point. Has your garage become a greasy, junk-filled space that you don’t like to visit? If so, then buyers won’t want to see it either. Fortunately, it is easy to get your garage in top shape before your showings. Up the appeal of your garage with these easy tricks.

Get Rid Clutter

The first step to getting your garage in tip-top shape is to remove all of the clutter. The garage often becomes a storage place for random things. Purge everything that you don’t need. Getting rid of junk can help make moving easier and more comfortable, as well. Divide your stuff into piles: trash, donate and keep. Get rid of all garbage. Recycle broken items. You can give things that you don’t need anymore to Goodwill or another charity.

Organize

Buyers love organized homes, and this goes for the garage too. Organizing your garage can also help make your move easier. Install a pegboard on your wall. Pegboards are inexpensive, and they can make a garage look neat and clean. You can use ceiling space to hang items. Ceiling-mounted racks are easy to install and not too pricey. Buyers will appreciate the extra storage space as well.

Paint the Floor

Is your garage floor stained with rust or oil? A dirty garage floor can turn buyers off. You can brighten up your garage and make the concrete look brand new with a couple of coats of epoxy garage floor paint. It isn’t very costly or time-consuming to refinish your garage floor. This is a project that most people can do in a spare weekend.

Add Light

Most garages don’t have windows. As a result, they tend to be dark and dreary. The first step in adding light to your garage is to replace any light bulbs that aren’t working. If your garage still looks dark, consider installing additional lighting. You can replace your standard bulb with a multi-directional LED fixture if you only have one lighting fixture in your garage. These are kind of pricey but they don’t require expensive rewiring. They simply screw into your existing socket and offer about four times more lighting compared to a traditional 60-watt bulb.  

It can be tedious work preparing to sell your home. One of the best things you can do to ease the transition between selling your old home and purchasing your new home is to make sure that you have your financing pre-approved. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get the process underway!

 

In-Law Apartments Provide Tangible Benefits For Home Owners

In-Law Apartments Provide Tangible Benefits For Home OwnersMany homeowners are looking for ways to maximize on their investment. One idea that is gaining popularity is a space set aside for aging parents known as an In-law apartments. These additions are living spaces that can set a property apart from others on the real estate market.

In-law apartments generally enjoy a private entrance and include things like a private bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room. Although generally smaller than the main residence, in-law apartments provide all the elements of a home. Because these living spaces are often built after the original floor plan was conceived, spaces such as walk-out basements, garages or separate wings of a homes are converted.

The size and location of this unit is also dictated by adherence to local zoning ordinances and building codes. Once they are established, the door to turning them into a straight rental unit may be opened. If you are considering buying or selling a home with an in-law apartment, consider these benefits.

Benefits Of An In-Law Apartment

In terms of buying or selling a property that includes a separate residence, there are pragmatic reasons they are seen as attractive. These may include the following.

  • Elder Care: Our valued parents and grandparents will come to a point where they require some assistance from younger loved ones. An in-law apartment allows homeowners to offer them a private living space while providing effective care. In-law apartments are wonderful spaces that allow you to give back to aging family members in a dignified setting.
  • Building Relationships With Grandparents: The economic and time pressures placed on working families often compels parents to place children in daycare or after-school programs. While these are certainly viable options, they may be secondary to family members. An in-law apartment may create an opportunity to have a grandparent or other family member spend quality time with your child. In-law units can enhance the bonds of family while maintaining a level of privacy.
  • Guest Space: With family members relocating for employment opportunities, the ability to spend time together has become increasingly difficult. An in-law apartment provides a space for extended stays.
  • Rental Income: An in-law apartment that gains approval can be an excellent revenue-generator. That extra income can help offset mortgage, insurance and tax costs. That makes homes with rental units attractive to buyers.
  • Increase Property Value: Home improvements such as decks, smart technology and other amenities tend to add to a property’s value. Not only does an in-law apartment include all of the necessities of a living space, it can also bring in revenue. That’s why in-law apartments provide added value for home sellers.

If you are considering buying a home that may include an in-law apartment or if you are planning to do some remodeling to accomodate long-term guests, be sure to mention this to your trusted mortgage professional. This increase in property value and potential income can open doors to additional financing options for your property.