How to Stage Your Home During the Winter Months

Selling a house is no walk in the park. It becomes even more challenging if you decide to sell your house in winter. If you live in an area where it gets snows, you need extra effort to make sure your house looks attractive to potential buyers.

Use these tips when staging your home for the winter season.

Make curb appeal a top priority

Now that all the leaves have fallen, potential buyers have a clearer view of your home. Make your house look cozy and inviting by giving it a fresh coat of paint. Adding a new doormat, house number, and hardware can also make a big difference. Also, keep your lawn looking neat. Don’t forget to illuminate the way to your front door.

Shovel the snow and keep your driveways and walkways salted and free of snow. There is no point in beautifying your home if potential buyers are afraid to walk on the sidewalk or step on the porch.

Decorate for the holidays

Most people who are looking at houses in winter are serious buyers. Many of them are looking to settle in their new home before Christmas. Putting up some holiday decorations can help stir the holiday spirit. So go ahead and decorate the house for the holidays, but don’t overdo it. Too many ornaments can crowd your home and distract buyers.

A few subtle touches like a wreath, a bowl of pinecones, some Christmas stockings, and a pot of cider simmering on your stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.

Give each room a warm touch

Accessorize your home with rugs, pillows and art. Use accessories with warm colors such as yellow, orange, and red. These colors are often associated with warmth, heat, and fire, so they’ll make the room look and feel warm and cozy.

Crank up the heat

Give potential buyers a reason to linger for little bit longer. Pump up that thermostat to ensure that they stay warm and comfortable. If you have a fireplace, then go ahead and light a fire.

Tips for Buying a House in Winter

Most people put off buying a house ‘til spring because there are more properties to choose from at this time of the year. Spring is one of the busiest times of the year in the real estate market. If you decide to buy a house in spring, you are likely to find yourself in a bidding war. If that happens, you may lose the opportunity to buy the house of your dreams.

Why wait for spring? Winter is actually a great time to buy a house. Here are some tips for buying a house in winter.

Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is one of the most important things you should do once you decide that you want to buy a house. This will not only help you determine how much you can afford, it will also give sellers that impression that you are a serious buyer.

With a pre-approval letter on hand, you’ll have a competitive edge against other buyers. But since there fewer buyers during this time of year, doing this step early on will ensure that go you’ll go though the buying process smoothly.

Use your imagination

Most people wait until spring to sell their home. If they decide to put their house on the market in winter, they are probably motivated to sell.

Some are in a hurry to sell that they don’t have time to renovate their home. Others don’t have the budget to tackle some home improvement projects. They choose to sell in winter since they know that there will be less competition. They’ll no longer have to compete with newly renovated houses. Often, you may find properties with old carpets, white tile counters, and oak cabinets. It may not also look as great since it is covered in snow. Try to look past these things and use your imagination. Imagine how the house would look like once spring comes around. You may also want to give it a few touch ups to make sure it suits your taste.

Craft a competitive offer

Most buyers assume that they’ll get a good deal just because the market is a bit slow. Thinking that the owners are desperate to sell, some buyers would lowball their offer. Not only will it be insulting to the seller, you are also likely to lose the property.

There may not be lots of buyers looking around in winter, but you also need to keep in mind that there are also fewer inventories. If you lowball your offer, you’re just giving other buyer’s a chance to buy it. If you are serious about buying the house, craft a competitive offer.

Quick and Easy Ways to Winterize Your Home

As temperatures start to drop, many of you are probably taking steps to ensure that your family stays warm and comfortable throughout the winter. While cranking up the heat seems like the best way to keep your house warm, it can be quite expensive.

This blog post will help you prepare your home for the cold weather. Here are 4 quick and easy ways to winterize your home while saving money.

Install a programmable thermostat

The furnace typically runs 24/7 during the winter. Installing a programmable thermostat keeps your home at a comfortable thermostat while saving money and energy.

A programmable thermostat allows you to program the thermostat to be at a lower temperature in the morning and then set it at a higher temperature in the afternoon. In addition to saving money and energy, it also simplifies your morning routine.

Check for air leaks

Air leaks will allow heated air to escape. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5 to 30% of your energy use. This will prevent your home from being the cozy, energy-efficient home you want.

Inspect the doors and windows to ensure that there is no air leakage. Make sure that the weather stripping around the doors and windows are in good condition. Inspect the threshold under each door.  Make sure to caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.

Run fans in reverse

Most people will only turn on the fan when they feel hot. But fans can actually come in handy during the winter.

Reversing your ceiling fan direction will make the room feel warmer. When you turn on the fan, cooler air is drawn upwards while warm air is pushed back down. This allows you to set the thermostat at a lower temperature without sacrificing comfort.

Insulate your pipes

Nothing is more relaxing than taking a steamy, hot shower in winter. However, your pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting in winter.

Insulating your hot water pipes will prevent heat from escaping through your pipes. Since insulated pipes deliver hotter water than uninsulated pipes, you can raise water temperature by 2 to 4°F; thus, saving you money and energy. It also prevents pipes from freezing and bursting. Pipes in the garage, crawlspace, and attic are in danger of freezing. Insulating them is essential to prevent broken or leaky pipes.

Property Management Tips for Landlords

Managing a rental property is not an easy endeavor. This is especially true if you are new to the rental real estate business.

To help you on your path to stress-free property management, we have put together some tips that will help you become a better property manager.

Here are some property management tips for landlords.

Inspect the property regularly

One of the most important aspects of managing a rental property is to prevent problems before they occur. Not only will it save you from stress and headache, it will also help you save money – lots of it.

To avoid legal issues, we highly recommend that you inspect the property on a regular basis. This will help you catch small problems early on. Remember, it is your duty as a landlord to maintain a rental unit that is fit for occupancy. You will be held responsible if a tenant sustains injury on the property.

Fix issues immediately

Living a busy life, it can be easy to put off minor issues. However, if you fail to address problems early on, it can lead to a more complicated issue that will cause costly repairs.

Leaky faucets, for instance, are a minor problem that most people ignore. Not only is it annoying, it will also waste a lot of water. Overtime, it can also lead to mold growth. Mold may start growing on your floor, ceilings, and walls. If there is constant drip, drip, drip in the bathroom or kitchen sink, have it fixed immediately.

Exterminate monthly

Monthly extermination can cost you money. But it is important to do this at least once a month, even if you do not currently have an insect or rodent problem. This will prevent such problems from preventing. Plus, it will prevent you from losing tenants due to pest problem.

Some of you might be tempted to buy exterminating supplies in an attempt to save money, but this should be left in the hands of a professional.

Screen tenants

Finding a good tenant starts with having a great screening process. You need a tenant who will pay rent on time and will take care of your investment property.

Tenant screening process should start over the phone. Ask some questions to make sure that this person isn’t going to waste your time. Also, find out how many persons will be living in the apartment. You may also want to reach out to your tenant’s employer and prior landlord. Find out if he or she caused damage or missed any rent payment.

Update Your Home Needs Every Decade

As a homeowner, tackling home improvement projects and updating your appliances are the best things you can do for your home. This can benefit your home in a number of ways. Aside from improving your home’s aesthetics, these updates will increase the value of your home and make it more comfortable.

Here are 4 updates your home needs every decade.

Repainting

A fresh coat of paint gives the outside of your home a fast and impressive face lift. Some professionals will tell you that you only need to repaint your home’s exterior every 4 to 6 years to make sure it looks good. If you haven’t repainted your home in 10 years or more, we encourage you to start painting. Don’t wait until paint chips are visible from the street before you start painting.

Replace garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal is designed to break up food into smaller pieces, so that it travels safely through the sewer system. However, it tends to lose its efficiency overtime. Eventually, it will wear down to the point where repairs are no longer worth the effort.

Dull blades, lingering smell, and frequent clogs are the most common signs that your garbage disposal needs replacing. Often, these issues become evident on the 10-year mark. If you notice any of these issues with your garbage disposal, consider investing on a newer model.

Update ceiling fans

How old is your ceiling fan? Have you ever wondered when exactly do you need to replace your ceiling fan?

Ceiling fans have an average lifespan of about 10 years. This estimation depends on the frequency of usage and the quality of the fan you have. The more frequently you use it, the more likely is it to wear down early.

Although it’s normal to hear a sound while the fan is in use, too much noise can be a sign of a bigger problem. A humming noise can indicate a problem with the fan’s motor. Clicking or scraping noises can be the result of a broken or bent blade. If the light bulb seems to burnout more quickly, it can also be a sign that you need to get a new ceiling fan. If you still haven’t replaced yours in the last 10 years, now would be the best time to swap it out for a newer model.

Get a new carpet

Buying a carpet is not something most people do regularly. Depending on the type of carpet you have and the amount of traffic in your home, medium-grade carpets have an average lifespan of 5 to 15 years.

Regular cleaning and vacuuming can extend the lifespan of your carpet. But no matter how well you take care of it, there will come a time when it needs replacing. Old carpet padding, wear and tear on carpet, permanent stains and lingering smell are just a few signs you need to get a new one, ding carpet can negatively affect the look and feel of your home. An update wouldn’t hurt.

4 Simple Ways to Brighten Up a Dark Room

People prefer to live in a space that capitalizes on natural light. In fact, most homebuyers search for homes that are spacious and have adequate lighting. Not only will it make the house look bright, it will also affect your mood in a positive way.

Unfortunately, not all rooms in the house have adequate day lighting. Insufficient natural light is common in rooms that face north, basement, hallways and powder rooms. The absence of natural light makes these rooms look dark and cramped. Luckily, there are things you can do to brighten up a dark room.

Whether you live in a small apartment with only one window or a large home with a dark interior, these tips will help brighten up your space. Use these tips to make your space sunnier in an instant.

Here are 4 simple ways to brighten up a dark room.

Choose paint colors wisely

Choosing a paint color for your walls can be a daunting task. It becomes even more challenging when choosing paint for spaces that lack natural lighting.

Light, neutral colors like white, tan, gray, and mushroom can brighten up a dark room. They provide a contrast if you have dark wood furnitures, doors or wood floors. They reflect artificial light luminously without the risk of overpowering the space.

Clean windows

This is one of the simplest ways to brighten up a dark room. If your windows are extra dirty, you may want to use a diluted vinegar solution to clean your windows.

Combine an equal part of water and vinegar and transfer it in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto your window and wipe with a clean cloth. This is an easy and inexpensive solution to a lack of natural light in your home. Always keep your windows clean to let natural light shine through your home.

Rethink window treatments

Heavy, light-blocking window treatments often absorb precious natural light. Let light pass through more easily with sheer or translucent window treatments. They’ll provide privacy during the day while allowing natural light to enter your home.

Place mirrors strategically

Placing mirrors will not make a room brighter on its own. What they do is, they reflect more natural light into your space. When placed strategically, mirrors can really brighten up a space. To maximize the light, place a mirror directly across the window. Not only will it radiate light around a room, it will also visually expand a room so that it appears bigger.

4 Features That Will Help Your House Sell Fast

Selling a house isn’t as easy as putting a for sale sign in your front yard. If you want to sell fast and get top dollar, you need to make sure that your house is in mint condition. If you’d like to make your home more appealing to buyers, it makes sense to tackle some remodelling projects before putting your home on the market.

In order to make the most out of your remodelling budget, you need to focus on the right features that will increase the value of your home and sell your house faster.

Updated kitchen

The kitchen is a major focal point for most buyers. Homebuyers aren’t just looking for a beautiful kitchen, they want a modern kitchen that hits the latest trends.

The trendiest kitchens have open shelving, a large island that doubles as an eating space, open floor plan that allows them to cook and entertain guests at the same time, and modern appliances. Homebuyers want a house that is worth what they are paying for.

Hardwood floor

Today’s homebuyers are looking for a house with hardwood floors. In fact, some buyers are even willing to dish out an extra $2,000 for hardwood flooring.

Wood flooring gives off a classic look that never goes out of style. It adds warmth and character to the property. Most importantly, it adds value to your home. The good news is that you don’t need to install wood flooring before selling. Most homes have hardwood floors installed beneath the carpet. All you need to do is to get rid of the carpet and hire a flooring professional to refinish the wood floor.

Open floor plan

Open floor plan is one of the most popular requests among homebuyers. Not only will it make the house appear more spacious, it also provides more natural light.

With fewer walls, it allows parents to look over their children while they are doing some household chores. The open floor concept is also favored by those who frequently entertain guests. They can entertain their guests while preparing meals.

Ample storage

Most buyers are looking for a house that is bigger than their current home. The kids are growing and they are looking for a place that can accommodate their growing family. That means they also need ample space for their belongings.

If your house is on the smaller side, take advantage of the vertical space to create more storage space. It is also a good idea to invest in furnitures that can double as a storage.

Things to Look for When Buying a House

House hunting is one of the most exciting stages of the home buying prices. You get the chances to dozens of gorgeous homes while shopping for your future home.

If you are in the market for a house, then this blog post is for you. Here are 4 things to look for when buying a house. Hopefully, this list will help you get your search off on the right foot.

Home’s exterior

Let me guess. You liked how the house looks like from the outside that’s why you requested to view the property. But buying a house goes beyond the appearance. You want a house that doesn’t just look good. You want a property that is in great condition.

Before you enter the house, try to pay attention to the exterior. Look at the paint on the walls, the porch, driveway and walkway. Also, try to look up and see if the roof is in good shape. This will give you an idea how the owner takes care of the house.

Size and floor plan

Most buyers have a good idea about what they want in a house. But it’s easy to get swept away once you start looking at houses. You might be tempted to get a property that is bigger than what you need, but please resist the urge to do so.

We understand that you need a bigger space, but do you really need a house with 5 bedrooms? Think about it. The bigger the house, the bigger your expenses will be. You’ll need more furnitures. You’ll pay extra on utility bills, property taxes, heating and cooling cost and maintenance.

The neighborhood

The house is absolutely lovely. You fell in love with the house that you’re contemplating making an offer outright. But before you do, we suggest that you investigate the neighborhood first. Walk around the area to assess the neighborhood. Are there restaurants, schools or park near the house? Is it accessible to public transportation? How about the neighbors? Do they seem nice?

You need to understand that the neighbors and other amenities in the area are part of the package. It may be easy to get rid of the dingy carpet or paint the walls a different color, but there is nothing you can do with the location and the community. Be sure to take this into consideration when buying a house.

Home inspection

Buying a house is something you shouldn’t take lightly. Before putting your hard earned money into that property, you want to make sure that the house you’re investing in is in pristine condition. As such, we highly recommend that you get a home inspection.

A home inspection is a visual inspection of the property. Here, you’ll have a good idea about the overall condition of the property, as well as the flaws and issues that are present in the house. This will help you make a more informed decision.

Tips for Staging Your Home for the Fall Season

Fall is one of the best times of the year to sell your home. The kids have already gone back to school. Most families have returned from their summer vacations, and people aren’t busy yet for the holidays.

Staging your home is one of the most important steps of the selling process. It allows potential buyers to see the property’s true potential. This also makes it easier for them to envision themselves living in that house.

Use these staging tips to help you sell your home faster and for top dollar.

Warm up your walls

Fall is the best time to give your home the seasonal refresh it needs. One of the best ways to revive your home’s interior is by giving the walls a fresh coat of paint.

Paint your home with shades of brown, yellow, orange, and red to reflect the warm colors of autumn. Whether your want some subtle color or something a little more eye-catching, fall colors will do the trick.

Less is more

Fall is a great time to redecorate your home. Now that winter is fast approaching, a lot of people are taking steps to make their home warm, cozy and inviting. Some would go all out on the throw pillows, pile on the plaid and display vases of fall foliage throughout their home.

While it is a good idea to add some autumnal touches to your home, having too much decors can take the focus out of the house and its best features. Try not to go overboard with the decorations. Remember, less is more when decorating your home.

Let the natural light in

Fall is officially upon us. Before you know it, winter season and freezing temperatures are on their way. When the weather is cold and the sky is dark and cloudy, we tend to feel more tired and depressed. As such, getting the most out of that natural light is vital.

Often, natural light is trapped by the windows. Avoid heavy, light-blocking window treatments. Instead, use window treatments and curtains that are made of lightweight fabrics and light colors. They’ll help bring natural light in while still giving your privacy. Don’t forget to clean your windows as well.

 

Best Sources of Down Payment Money to Buy Your First Home

Buying a house is a dream a lot of people share. For many, coming up with a down payment is one of the biggest tests that stands between them and their dreams of becoming a homeowner. The mere utterance of the word strikes dread in the heart of many potential home buyers.

Unless you’re willing to pay in cash, you will need to put down 3.5% or more of the value of the property in cash. We know it’s not easy to save up money for a down payment. To help make the process easier, we listed down some of the best sources of down payment money for first-time homebuyers. Here are some of them.

Personal savings

If you are planning to buy a home, then you need to start planning and saving to avoid financial strain down the road. Start by saving a portion of your salary and cutting down on your spending. The FHA will accept cash saved at home, your savings or checking accounts.

If you haven’t saved enough money for a down payment, then it’s time to examine your spending and tighten your budget. If you usually pay $100 a month on your cable bill and $20 a day on coffee and lunch takeouts, that’s almost $6,000 a year you could be saving. Cut costs by preparing your own meals and streaming movie and TV shows from online sources.

Retirement accounts

As a general rule, the money in your retirement account should stay there until you retire.  Some retirement accounts, however, allow you to make a withdrawal from your individual retirement account or borrow funds from a 401k.

It is fine to borrow money from your 401k if you only need a small down payment and you’re getting an FHA loan. Remember that you’ll be required to pay a penalty of 10% on the amount withdrawn, so we discourage you from tapping into your 401k if you’re planning to withdraw a huge sum of money.

Family gifts

Another way to fund a down payment is through family gifts. Your parents, in-laws or even grandparents may be willing to give you a gift of money to help you fund your home.

Some lenders would approve your home loan, provided that your family or relative won’t ask you to repay the money. To prove this, lenders would require you to provide a gift letter, which includes the amount of the gift, your relationship to the person gifting the money and that the money doesn’t have to be repaid. The best part of receiving money from family and relatives is that you don’t have to pay taxes for up to $13,000 gift money.