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4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter!

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Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insight report revealed that home prices have appreciated by 5.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4.8%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase in 2019.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person building that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

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Is Your Professional Space Outdated?

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Leftover Adhesives

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Have you ever taped something and when trying to remove the tape, the adhesive stays on the surface? Well, WD-40 will help rid you of that leftover substance. Just spray and wipe it off (some elbow grease may be required).

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Remove Crayon From Walls

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When little Susie or Jack inevitably gets their hands on the crayons and ruins your dining room walls, don’t fret over getting a new bucket of paint. Just reach for your trusty WD-40 and a rag. Add a little elbow grease and voila! — no more crayon.

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If you Want to Save Money, Act Now

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IRVINE, Calif. – While recent signs suggest that the real estate market may be shifting toward home buyers, prices are still rising in many areas of the country. The median sales price in July was $230,411 – up 5.8 percent year over year.

But if your buyers are hoping to wait out the current seller’s market, they should remember that mortgage rates are also increasing, and the typical mortgage payment jumped 13.1 percent over that same one-year period – largely due to a nearly 0.6 percentage point increase in mortgage rates, according to data from CoreLogic.

Most experts also expect mortgage rates to continue moving higher. CoreLogic researchers predict a nearly 10 percent increase in buyers’ mortgage payments by July 2019 – twice the rate expected for home prices. Rates are expected to increase by about 0.43 percentage points between July 2018 and July 2019; median home sale prices are predicted to rise by 1.8 percent in real terms over that same period.

Based on those projections, CoreLogic researchers predict that an inflation-adjusted typical monthly mortgage payment will rise from July 2018’s $937 to $1,003 by July 2019.

In addition, real disposable income probably won’t increase enough to compensate for the higher mortgage rates. It’s expected to go up by only around 2.5 percent over the next year. That means “homebuyers would see a larger chunk of their incomes devoted to mortgage payments,” CoreLogic researchers say.

To calculate the typical mortgage payment, CoreLogic researchers use Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment (not factoring in taxes or insurance). The typical mortgage payment standard is used to help judge affordability since it shows the monthly amount a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to purchase a median-priced U.S. home.

Even if mortgage rates continue to go up, however, they’re still low right now based on historical standards. In July 2018, the typical inflation-adjusted mortgage payment was 26.8 percent below the all-time peak of $1,280 in July 2006. The average mortgage rate in June 2006 was 6.7 percent compared to 4.5 percent in July 2018.

Source: “Homebuyers’ ‘Typical Mortgage Payment’ Rising at Twice the Rate of Prices,” CoreLogic Insights Blog (Oct. 17, 2018)

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ANS CLEANING & SEAL COATING

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Update Your Home’s Curb Appeal

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Article By Eliot Ward
Update your home’s curb appeal with pops of color that add a cheerful touch this time of year.

Get a Step Up with Railings
Chipped, tired railings can make a home look outdated and unkempt, but making those pieces look new again is a relatively quick and easy project. Keeping the railing monochromatic in a color that complements the rest of the house’s paint and trim creates a clean look. If you want to add some variety, use a secondary shade in the same color family and apply it to the main posts or the spindles.

Create DIY Doormats
An affordable and unique way to create a “wow” moment at your home’s entry is to craft a DIY doormat with spray paint. A chevron pattern is an easy way to make a statement by simply using painter’s tape and two different colors of spray paint.

Put the Spotlight on Light Fixtures
Small splashes of color can go a long way, especially with a feature like exterior light fixtures. For light fixtures to stand out against a neutral-colored home, try spray painting them a bold hue, such as bright yellow, for a burst of color.

Refresh Patio Furniture
Over time, patio furniture loses its luster. If it’s still in good shape, you can bring it back to life with a fresh coat of spray paint. All the angles can make it difficult to cover every surface, so choose a product that promotes easy application. Remember to tilt furniture back and apply color to the feet and legs for an all-over finish that’s ready to weather the season.

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Remove Water Stains

Out2News.comWater stains in the bathroom can be a ghastly thing to behold every time you get into the shower, and regular washing either doesn’t do the trick or you have to scrub and scrub. But WD-40 can help remove those stains far easier than regular soap and water.

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Thinking About Moving to a New City? Here’s What You Need to Know

Article By Eliot Ward

Perhaps you recently accepted a job offer in a new city, or you just needed a change of scenery and decided now was the time to make that change. Uprooting your life isn’t an easy feat—yet, it’s exciting and new. You’ll get to explore a whole new place and all that that new place has to offer! There’ll be new activities, new restaurants, new friends, new parks, and more.

Out2News.comWhat should you know about your new hometown? What research should you do ahead of time to ensure you relocate to a place you’ll be comfortable living in? Here’s what you need to know:

Do Your Research Before Buying (or Renting)
The area you live in makes your home what it is. Check out Google Maps before your big move. Maybe even make a list of the advantages and disadvantages to each area you research—it can help make the decision easier.

If your kids are in school, you’ll likely want a school facility close by. Do you want them to attend a private or public school? Is there one close by? What about grocery shopping? Is it easy to get to? Do you like to have a gym you can walk to? Are there parks? Ask yourself these questions ahead of time. Determine their importance to you and your family.

Research the Local Big Activities and Events
With a new city comes a new list of annual events and festivals. Find out what big attractions take place. If your family is into skiing or mountain biking, look to see if there is a place close by to partake in these activities. Plus, finding activities and fun events to look forward to can lessen the impact of a move, such as moving far away from friends and family. It’s exciting, but it can also be really tough. Make the best out of it!

Research the Costs of Your New City
This is a big one. Cities come with different price tags. Make sure you know what you’ll be spending before you commit.

Even grocery prices tend to change. Calculate what you can expect to spend in your new city—does it work for your budget? The worst thing that could happen is you move and find out you can’t afford your new city. Financial planning makes all the difference, and it can help you avoid future panic or crises.

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Keep Wasp Nests Away

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Wasps and yellow jackets love to surprise you in the summertime, but WD-40 can help you keep their nests away. Just spray the underside of eaves and overhangs, and the little stingers won’t be able to build their nests there. You’re welcome.

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Top Benefits of Installing a Tankless Water Heater

Out2News.comAs is the case with most household appliances, modern technological advancements can result in massive improvements. Here are the top benefits of installing a tankless water heater in your home:

Save Money on Your Energy Bill
With a conventional water heater, hot water is stored inside the tank. In theory, this keeps a ready supply of hot water on hand for immediate use, but the fact is that the hot water just sits around when not being used. This is not only a complete waste of energy; it also costs you extra money at the end of the month on your energy bill.

Tankless Is Better Than Conventional
A tankless water heater does not store hot water for later use. Instead, a tankless water heater only produces as much hot water as a person needs. In other words, when the hot water faucet is turned on, the tankless unit provides the exact amount of hot water dispensed until the faucet is turned off. With the installation of a tankless unit in your home, you never need to worry about running out of hot water again during a shower.

The Single Biggest Flaw of Conventional Tank Water Heaters
One of the biggest problems with conventional tank water heaters is leakage. No matter how fancy of an electric water heater you buy, the unit will start leaking as time takes its toll. After all, these are constantly filled with water day in and day out for a period of years. A tankless water heater, on the other hand, doesn’t store water, and, therefore, will never leave you a big mess to clean up—because there’s nothing to leak!

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Stuart Rubber Stamp and Sign Company is committed to quality service and products based on a superior industry knowledge, a real understanding of the local business community, and a genuine enthusiasm for what we do. Our aim is to act as a trusted extension of our clients’ businesses, producing results that directly and positively impact their objectives. Our culture and philosophy is based on ethical business practices that value honesty, integrity and relationships. Call them today 772.287.2294. Located at 910 SE Dixie Highway in Stuart.

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How To Make Your Property More Appealing

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Article by: Anita Clark
Wanting to sell your home for a good price and in a reasonable time frame are standard goals for the majority of sellers. However, when you are dealing with a tough real estate market and struggling to break even on a property, you need to do everything you can to make your home stand out. You need to woo a buyer, and to do that, you need to make your home as appealing as possible. Most real estate agents understand that a first impression can make or break getting a proper sold for the most money in the least amount of time.

The following ideas as the best ways for you to make your home attractive to as many buyers as you can. Not all may apply to you, but implement the ones that do to give yourself that extra edge in a competitive real estate market.

Address Home Defects

As the owner of your home and castle nobody knows the property better than you do. More than likely you have noticed some of the minor defects that your property may have accumulated over the last few years. Before your home hits the market it will be extremely important to address these things. Buyers love those who show pride of ownership. When things look great buyers do not go out of their way to look for issues. This will not be the case if your home has defects that are readily apparent. The other thing to remember is the buyer will be doing a home inspection once they have secured the property. Many sellers do not realize this will be one of the biggest hurdles to clear in the transaction. This makes it extremely important to have an understanding of how to prepare for a home inspection. The number one reason a home sale falls apart is due to things discovered at a home inspection. If you are unsure of the overall condition of your home it may not be a bad idea to get a pre-inspection done. Spending a few hundred bucks can be a great investment in keeping your sale on track.

Emphasize Storage Space

Out2News.comEveryone wants storage space when they buy a home. While you may have numerous closets and other storage areas, you need to make sure that buyers see how much space is available to them. This means cleaning out your closets, your storage shed and your garage. You don’t have to completely empty them, but do remove at least half of what is in there and organize the rest to give an idea of the potential of each space. If your home is extremely cluttered you make want to consider either a storage POD or a temporary storage facility. A POD can be very convenient when you need immediate access to your things and don’t have the time or inclination to drive elsewhere to access your things. For those that have larger items and really need more room storage facility would make more sense. You can see some excellent advice on how to pick a storage facility. Use these tips to pick the right storage environment for your needs and budget.

Hide The Pets

Pets are fantastic for companionship and enjoyment, but they do not help you sell a house. Having your golden retriever jump up on a buyer in greeting or having cat fur wafting about the house and sticking to clothing will not present an attractive image. It makes your home look dirty, and no one wants to spend good money on a dirty home. Have your house professionally cleaned, and take the pets to a friend’s place when showing the home.

This is true of your backyard as well – clean up any messes and re-sod if your dog has worn a muddy path along the fence. Patch any holes in the yard your pet may have created. Understanding how to move with pets is an important consideration when you are trying to get the maximum return out of your home while also making the process as stress free as possible.

Brighten Things Up

Buyers today want a bright, well lit and cheerful home. This means you need to maximize the amount of light coming into your house, and you need to enhance that light once it enters your home. This can be done in several ways that do not have to cost a lot of money.

Make sure all of your windows are clean, and consider removing the screens to make things look clearer. Cut back any overgrown bushes in front of windows to allow the most light in, and invest in some sheer drapes or do away with the drapes altogether. If your wall colors are excessively dim, you may want to throw on a fresh coat of light colored paint.

All of these things can be done pretty easily, and will make your home look inviting instead of intimidating. In real estate light neutral colors sell well – unusual exotic colors do not!

Make It Look Less Lived In

Out2News.comHow To Make Your Property More AppealingBuyers go into a purchase wanting to start over. They have visions in their heads of a clean slate, a new life and the home of their dreams. You want your home to fit into this ideal, but to really be effective at this, you have to remove some of yourself from the property.

You may love your worn in old couch, the mural you painted on the wall when you first took up painting or the hundreds of collectibles you’ve accumulated on your shelves. Unfortunately, these same things that make your home very much “you” may turn off potential buyers. It may be too much to say make your home generic, but you do want to make space for the dreams of the buyer. Don’t make your home look “sterile” but make sure your home has a clean enough slate that a buyer can picture their own possessions in your home. Keep in mind that a significant amount of buyers lack vision and cannot see past your decor.

A Realtor can help you determine what to keep out, and what to store before you put your house up. Some things may be generally appealing, while others won’t. A savvy real estate agent will know which is which. You can also take a look at some excellent staging tips that will enhance the sale-ability of your home. Many of these tips do not cost a lot of money.

Best Foot Forward – Always

You want your house to be as immaculate as possible the entire time you are making it available for showings. If this sounds difficult, that’s because it is. Living your everyday life in a house prepped to show can be tedious, which is why it pays to sell quickly. Your home needs to be clean, and ready to show on a moment’s notice.

Bring in a professional house cleaner to prepare your house for showing, and consider having cleaners come in regularly to keep the look up while your home is on the market. One mess can be enough to turn off a potential buyer, and miss out on the sale you need.

Price Competitively

This is one of the most difficult concepts for many sellers to embrace, because it seems counter intuitive. Why would you want to risk selling your home for less than you need? In reality, putting your house up for a price that is lower than competitors will very often set off a bidding war, eventually resulting in a price you are happy with. If your home is priced improperly, there is nothing to spark interest. You will in fact shoot yourself in the foot and more than likely sell your home for less than you would have if priced correctly coming out of the gate.

Seek Knowledgeable Help

Find a real estate agent you trust, and apply his or her advice as well as you can. Each home is different, and your strategy must be based on the realities of your individual market. A good agent will know this, and will be able to guide you through the process with a steady hand. There is nothing better than having a top notch real estate agent in your corner. Just like any other profession there are the creme of the crop and those who are considered average. You don’t want average when trying to get the most money possible for your home!
Final Real Estate Thoughts

Use all of the tips above to make your home more appealing before selling. By following smart advice you will dramatically increase not only your odds of success but the stress level of having your home on the market for an extended period of time. Best of luck with your sale!

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Home Buyers Should Pre-Qualify First!

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Contrary to what many people believe, obtaining a pre-approval letter from a lending institution (typically known as getting pre-qualified for a mortgage) is the initial step in the mortgage process. Once you find that perfect dream home – unless you are paying cash for it, you will need to qualify for a loan in order to purchase the real estate. In other words – to obtain the home, you will need to execute this step anyway.

The real question, then, is when should you get pre-approved?

Our recommendation is that all home buyers get pre-approved prior to searching for homes – and especially before making any offers. The reasons are pretty straight-forward, yet they are often overlooked.

Pre-Qualified Home Buyers Influence Home Sellers

Firstly, understanding what loan amount you are approved for will help you focus your search efforts for that real estate that you would reasonably be able to afford (and be able to obtain a loan for). This often helps speed the process up when working with real estate agents (because they won’t send you homes outside of your price range) and also provides piece of mind as you, as you would have already run the determined your maximum monthly payment and affordability.

Second, and equally important, bids and offers that come from home buyers that are pre-approved typically get preferred over those that do not have one. The reason for this is because the seller and listing agent already know that the loan amount required and ability to make payments for a particular amount has already verified by a lending institution. For home buyers who do not have this, the seller would need to agree to sell them the home (and subsequently take it off the market) based on the assumption and faith that the buyer will be able to qualify for and obtain a loan. This scenario typically makes the seller uncomfortable.

In addition, prequalification criteria can fluctuate and vary based on difference characteristics of the deal – i.e. the type of home, the type of mortgage, the location, the presence of HOA fees, CDD fees, etc. These elements to the home buying process can further complicate matters, should the buyer not already be pre-approved for a home loan.

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The Foreclosure Process

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A foreclosure is a legal process whereby a lending institution aims to recover all or parts of a loan balance from a borrower (typically the homeowner) who has stopped making mortgage payments. This is typically the result of the borrower failing to make payments to lending institution, as defined in their mortgage or deed of trust.

Typically the process for a foreclosure would be initiated by consecutive missed or late payments by the borrower, followed up a public Notice of Default by the lender, to a Pre-foreclosure period where the borrow can attempt to remedy the issue. If the situation cannot be resolved, the lending institution will then proceed to a foreclosure auction, sell in an attempt to recoup the value of the loan. Should the foreclosure auction fail, the lending institution will normally take position of the property, which would then deem the piece of real estate as a bank-owned property or real estate owned property (REO).

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6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Didn’t Know You Were Forgetting

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Article by: Brentnie Daggett

In all likelihood, your home is the biggest investment you’ll make in your life. To protect that investment, turn to regular maintenance tasks to ensure that your home will be running efficiently for years to come.

Most folks are already aware of this. But if you feel like you’re mastering your home maintenance, you may be surprised to learn that there are a few you probably never realized you were forgetting. Here are six tasks that require your attention, that you may not be tending to frequently enough, or may be overlooking altogether:

Clean Your Refrigerator Drip Pan

Did you know that refrigerators have drip pans? They do, and those drip pans need to be cleaned regularly or they can be prone to mold growth. Pull it out carefully to prevent spills, and dump excess liquid and clean the pan with an all-purpose cleaner.

Flush the Water Heater

Check the temperature of your water heater to ensure that it’s set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding. Test its safety relief valve once a year so that it operates properly and flush the system to remove sediment buildup which can cause system failure.

Reseal Your Grout

Grout needs to be resealed annually to protect your tile from wear and tear. Most grout is made of sand and cement; this means it can absorb water, bacteria and even stains. Resealing will help your grout look better and last as long as possible.

Test Smoke Alarms

Testing smoke alarms and changing their batteries is a vital maintenance task for safety reasons. Smoke alarms should be tested twice a year. Remember, at minimum, you should have one detector on every level of your home, and in each bedroom.

Change Your HVAC Filters

Have your heating system inspected, serviced and cleaned annually. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your furnace, postponing an expensive replacement. Change air filters seasonally to monthly, depending on your home’s needs, to protect against major HVAC issues.

Block Out Pests

Prevent against pests setting up camp in your home by caulking small holes or cracks to deter bugs. Also, use hardware cloth to cover any larger areas.

Mastering home maintenance tasks can be a chore, but by ensuring that you’re not missing these all-too-often ignored jobs, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your home is that much more protected.

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Do You Have Home Improvement Envy? You’re Not Alone

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Have you found yourself longingly peering into the yard next door to check out their new water feature only to start drawing up the blueprints for your own a week later? If you answered yes, turns out you’re just one of the many who experience jealousy—and a little competitive drive—over others’ home improvement projects.

In fact, a recent survey from The Home Depot conducted by Wakefield Research not only revealed what home improvement projects are most popular, but the motivation behind the projects, as well.

Here are some of the findings:

More than half of respondents feel the urge to improve the appearance of their homes when they see another home improvement project. From a landscape refresh with new perennials or an herb garden, to a patio overhaul with the latest grill and patio set, there’s no inspiration quite like competition.

Millennials are particularly home-conscious and competitive, with 70 percent admitting to feeling this pressure and nearly 50 percent responding to it by completing a home improvement project in response.

Parents tend to feel the pull more than non-parents—whether that means installing a new fence and deck in the backyard or taking their spring cleaning one step further.

Millennials are more likely than baby boomers to buy new furniture or refresh their décor.

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From Construction to Yard Work, Don’t Create New Frenemies

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Article provided by:Yazcara Corrales Bradley
Keller Williams Realty
International REALTOR
772 341 9070

Summer brings us out from inside to embark on a wide spectrum of projects, from those as simple as trimming the hedges to the more ambitious like replacing the roof. No matter what your plans are for home improvement over the next few months, be sure to take the folks next door into consideration and follow proper safety and etiquette practices, including the following:

Provide advance notice. To ensure greater understanding about the disruption of a big construction project, provide advance notice to any homes nearby that may be impacted. Josh Bowman, on his blog for The Good Men Project, suggests simply knocking on the door and letting everyone know what you’ll be doing and what hours you’ll be working will put everyone at ease.

Don’t start too early or work too late. This is especially true on the weekends. While we’ve become accustomed to the drone of weed whackers and leaf blowers in the background of our Saturdays, no one wants to hear them at 7 a.m. or 8 p.m. Ditto for drills and skill saws. Make sure your projects take place during reasonable work hours.

Clean up after yourself. In addition to noise, mess is the other factor that can cause friction. Whether it’s dirt and leaves from your landscaping project or debris from the deck you’re building, be sure to clean as you go, leaving things as tidy as possible at the end of each day.

Don’t let things stall. Before you embark on a project, make sure you have the time and funding to see it through to completion in a reasonable timeframe.

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Use Adhesive Hooks to Organize Your Pot Lids and Save Cabinet Space

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Pot lids have to be one of the most difficult things to organize in a kitchen cabinet, but this super-simple trick will keep your pot lids organized for good without taking up space on your countertops or in the cabinet itself. All you need are a few plastic adhesive hooks—the kind you can get at any department store.

This ingeniously simple method gets the pot lids up off of the bottom of your cabinet and gives them a place to rest on the inside of your cabinet door. Just space out the hooks so the pot lids will rest into the hooks without falling, and attach the hooks to the inside of the cabinet door. If you get the really good kind, they’re cheap and they’re easily removed if you need to move them around (or if you’re a renter and you’re about to move out.)

We’ve shown you plenty of other methods to organize pot lids in the past, but this one keeps them out of sight, is cheap to install, easy to remove, and is completely unseen when your cabinet doors are closed. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s similar to this method we shared a few years ago, but trades out hooks that are screwed directly into the cabinet door for inexpensive removable ones that get the job done just as nicely.

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For Sale: 4 Tips for Getting Your Home off the Market Quickly

Article by: Megan Belnap

Do you have a home to sell? Are you ready to get the selling process over with quickly? There is no better time than now!

Here are four top tips for getting your house ready to list for a ton of interest and potential bids:

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Give Your Yard Attention

Cleaning up your yard and making it look welcoming will do two things for sellers: First, a beautiful yard that is free of cracks and weeds will attract more potential buyers; second, curb appeal can add as much as 5 percent value to your home.

Paint Inside and Out

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Buyers want to see a fresh, clean space when they visit your home. By painting inside and out, you have the chance to apply a neutral tone throughout the home. New wall coverings mean no fingerprints or smudges—and with new paint, there are no nail holes to hide.

Price Your Home Intelligently

The right sales price for your home is often the best way to sell your home quickly. If priced too high, you may scare buyers away before they even come to an open house, but, if priced too low, you may lose out on money.

Depersonalize the Space

Buyers want to look at a home as if they are moving in. When you leave pet toys or your children’s clothes laying around, people see “you” in the home. By removing everything that’s personal, you can make way to stage the home.

Two Safety Tips for Your Electrical System

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The safety of our home’s electric system is often something we take for granted. From hitting a switch to illuminate your space, to plugging in and charging your devices, we rarely consider the currents coursing through our walls. However, to keep your family safe and your home secure, it’s important to consider your electrical system, and whether or not your system is safe.

Get to know your electrical system better – First and foremost, spend some time becoming more familiar with the home’s electric system. Learn what runs on each circuit, and get to know the limits for each. Overloads can be dangerous, and electrical fires from overloads can do a lot of damage in a little amount of time.

Don’t overdo it with extension cords – Extension cords are great for reaching a little further with items like electric blowers or work lights, but it’s important to remember to use them safely. Don’t daisy chain multiple cords together, and don’t use them for items that will pull more power than the extension cords are designed to handle. They can overheat, short and even be the cause of a house fire.

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Gutters: What Material Is Best?

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If you’re putting gutters on your home for the first time, or replacing your existing gutters, you may be surprised by just how many options there are. While there may be numerous options to choose from, it’s important to understand the various costs associated with this type of project before making a decision. In fact, experts estimate that the cost to install gutters and related components like downspouts can vary widely, with installation rates ranging from a minimum of $3 to more than $17 per linear foot.

And while gutters protect the sides of the house from mud, preventing erosion, reducing water damage to the foundation, and keeping visitors from getting wet—guttering can demand more maintenance and cleaning, distract from the profile or design of a home, and be a big expense when constructing or remodeling.

The four top gutter material options are aluminum, vinyl, copper and stainless steel.

So, what’s the best choice for you? Consider these facts:

Over time, copper develops a special lining that protects from rust and other potentially harmful elements including algae and fungi growth, so blockages, with their related cleaning and maintenance expenses, will be significantly reduced.
Aluminum gutters need to be maintained to avoid corrosion and dents, so cleaning them and caulking them regularly is important. And since aluminum expands and contracts with the temperature, they’re prone to cracks, which need to be repaired in order to avoid leaks.
When it comes to affordability, vinyl tops the list because it’s lightweight and easy to install. Additional benefits include the fact that its color won’t fade, chip or crack over time. Vinyl can get brittle and snap in cold extremes, so it may not be the best option for homes in cold climates.
Steel ranks second when it comes to affordability, however, it’s important to note that it can rust in certain climates. Not only is it sturdy, but it can also hold a lot of weight, so sagging is less common.

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Why Has my Energy Bill Increased the Past Few Months?

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Article by: Tiffancy Spence

This is the age-old question, and is asked time and time again during the summer months as temperatures continue to rise. It’s plain and simple – your A/C is one of the largest energy users in your home and can account for more than half of your energy bill. So when your A/C runs longer, your energy bill is going to be higher.

There is a direct connection between outdoor temperatures and your energy usage. Your bill increases the hotter it gets outside because you’re consuming more energy due to your A/C running longer to keep your home cool. During the summer your A/C runs twice as long as it does in cooler months to keep your home at the same temperature, which can result in higher than normal bills.

For example, if the outside temperature is 80 degrees and you have your thermostat set to 78 degrees, your A/C will need to cool your home just 2 degrees. However, when it’s 90 degrees outside, your A/C will need to cool your home 12 degrees, running longer to keep the indoor temperature at 78 degrees.

Easy ways to save:

Here are some ideas to help you keep your energy consumption under control and help you save:

Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees or warmer with the fan on “auto” and raise the thermostat setting to 82 degrees while you’re away. For every one degree you increase in temperature, you can save about 5 percent on your monthly cooling costs.

Use a fan to cool the room you’re in, but turn it off when you leave.

Close shades, blinds and drapes to keep the sun’s heat out.

Grill outside instead of using the oven or stove to help keep your kitchen cool.

Maintain proper airflow by keeping interior doors and vents open to help air circulate.

Clean or replace your A/C filter regularly to help your unit run more efficiently.

Consider buying a new high-efficiency air conditioner and you may qualify for a $150 rebate when you purchase your A/C system through a Participating Independent Contractor (PIC).

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Start Saving Today With LEDs

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Article by: Brad Goar

LED bulbs can do everything old incandescent bulbs do, and more. While LED bulbs can cost a little more upfront, they create savings for you in the long run by using four times less energy and lasting up to 10 times longer.

We know that everyone’s definition of “worth it” is going to vary, especially when you consider that lighting is about 10 percent of the average residential electric bill.

For example

Say your monthly home electric bill is typically $100. At 10 percent, the lighting portion is $10. Changing your incandescent bulbs for LED can save you, on average, 80 percent of that cost – so you could reduce your lighting cost to $2 per month from $10. In one year, you could save $96, or nearly $100.

Another way to look at it: if a homeowner replaced 17 incandescent bulbs in their home, which are illuminated for about 1,000 hours a year, this could generate savings of $170 in the first year. It would take less than two years to repay the investment of those initial 17 LED bulbs. And with LED bulbs lasting up to 10 times longer than incandescent, it’s going to be a lot longer before you need to replace them.

So, the bigger the home, and the more incandescent bulbs you’re replacing, the bigger the savings.

What to look for

Compared to just a few years ago, the range, design and quality of LED bulbs has increased significantly. Today, LED bulbs come in every shape and brightness level. You can choose from a soft light (closest in output to the yellow incandescent bulb), warm white, and a more modern super white light. When you head to the store, remember that brightness in LED is measured in lumens, not watts. LED bulb packaging will inform you what wattage the bulb compares to.

What this means for you

The bottom line is LED bulbs can initially cost a little more than traditional incandescents, however, they can provide savings by using four times less energy to deliver the same amount of light and last up to 10 times longer. So, when you need to replace your incandescent bulbs, consider upgrading to LEDs. This will ultimately save you money, by saving energy!

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Fresh Home Upgrades for Spring

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After a long winter cooped up indoors, spring is the perfect time to start reimagining your home and making upgrades that create a fresh, welcoming vibe. These project ideas—some big, some small—can help breathe new life into your home so that you’re ready to enjoy your favorite rooms to the fullest.

Air it out. Months of closed windows and doors can make any room feel dusty and stale. As soon as temperatures allow, throw open the windows and skylights to let the fresh air chase away the remnants of winter. It’s also the perfect time to launder window treatments and clean area rugs. If you’re considering an update to the overall décor, changing out these textiles is an easy and affordable way to create a new look.

Paint to perfection. Over time, once cheerful walls can grow dull. Create a livelier ambiance with a fresh coat of paint, either in the same shade or something completely new. If you’re not sure exactly where to start, tackle the project room by room. To choose the right hue, select a favorite item in the room, such as an heirloom throw blanket or a piece of wall art, and consider color shades that complement the item.

Make what’s old new again. Sometimes a fresh perspective is as simple as rearranging a room to better fit your needs. Over time, furnishings can become almost an afterthought because they’ve been in place so long. Try moving things around to create new conversation groupings or to highlight a piece that has been tucked away in the shadows.

Get earth smart. With all of the new growth and hues of green that abound during spring, it’s natural to be more mindful of the environment. Earth-friendly upgrades like switching out inefficient lighting or installing low-flow toilets and shower heads can make a sizable difference.

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7 Signs Your Contractor May Be Shady

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Building a home or renovating your existing pad is no simple task. From budgeting to design and choosing the right contractor, there’s a myriad of details you’ll need to juggle. But when it comes to choosing the right contractor for the job, it’s important to be mindful that not every contractor is reputable. Here are seven ways you can spot a shady one.

They pressure you. Whether they’re pushy with contracts or material, if they’re using pressure to sway you, be cautious.

They only accept cash. This is a huge red flag. Reputable contractors will take checks and potentially even credit cards for their payments.

They want it all up front. Most remodelers typically require a down payment of 25-50 percent of the contract price for small jobs and 10-33 percent for large jobs. If they demand full payment up front, be wary: they may never finish the job.

They have no references. No matter what, never hire a contractor without verifying at least three separate references.

They suggest a lender. If the contractor suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows, you could be the target of a home improvement loan scam.

The contractor fails to listen. A contractor should want to meet your specific needs. If they seem unable or unwilling to listen to your wants, if they talk over you or in any way seem disrespectful, they may be unreputable at worst, or at best, difficult to work with.

No right of rescission. A solid contractor will let you know that you have the right to cancel your contract within three days of signing; this “right of rescission” is required by law and allows you to change your mind without penalty if the contract was provided at a place other than the contractor’s place of business or an appropriate trade premise.

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Six Tips When Considering a HELOC for Home Renovations

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Homeowners looking to undertake home renovations can often use a home equity line of credit or HELOC to finance their projects. Here are six quick tips on how to shop for and manage a HELOC:

Shop around. Comparison shop to get the best rate.

Ask about the margin. If you’re offered a rate that’s lower than the competition, it’s probably just an introductory rate, so ask about the lender’s margin. For example, if the introductory rate is 3.5 percent and your lender’s margin is 2 percent, your final interest rate will be 5.5 percent.

Consider a conversion clause. Some HELOCs allow you to convert a variable interest rate to a fixed rate, usually during the draw period (5-10 years).

Watch out for balloon payments. Balloon payments mean that you must pay the balance in full when the draw period is up. Do not choose this option unless you have the financial means to handle it.

Create a family plan. Decide what the money will be used for and who will handle the funds. Keep in mind, you can lose your home if the HELOC is not handled properly. Create a payback plan. Come up with a reasonable plan for how the loan will be paid back.

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5 Things You Need to Know When Buying Probate Real Estate

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Probate properties are sold “as is” so don’t expect the owner to make repairs or improvements — or to lower the price because of existing problems.

Read the disclosures! There are special disclosure documents governing probate sales, so be sure you understand the terms before you make an offer.

Be prepared in court. If a probate sale requires court confirmation, the timing and amount of your offer and the form in which you make your deposit are closely regulated.

There are usually no contingencies on probate sales. In other words, the seller does not have to wait for you to find a loan or to sell your existing home. Get advance approval from your lender.

Work with a probate expert. When you are selecting a real estate agent to assist you with your purchase, ask for details of their recent probate experience in your marketplace. While any agent can represent you, only a probate expert can assure that your transaction is managed correctly so you get the property and the terms you want.

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Can You Really Grow a Winter Garden in the Kitchen?

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Article By John Voket

Now that winter weather has descended on much of the country, there are still loads of things a homeowner can grow to keep the freshest of ingredients available for winter culinary adventures.

Tammi Hartung at birdsandblooms.com offers a step-by-step guide to establishing a year-round indoor garden that can supply the freshest of ingredients from a tiny space. She advises you to look around your house and choose your best location – and don’t limit yourself to the kitchen.

Basil, chives, mints and parsley are just a few that do very nicely in pots with bright indirect light. It might surprise you to know you don’t need direct sunlight for growing most herbs; the indirect light most of us get will work fine.

East-, south- and west-facing windows should all give your herbs enough light, especially if you set up a small table or use a counter that keeps plants about a foot away from window glass.

Tricia Drevets at offthegridnews.com says start with a few basics, such as oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and rosemary. Then add a few others that your family particularly enjoys in their favorite meals. Cilantro? Dill? Chives?

She advises to check your garden center for high-quality seeds or for healthy and vigorous-looking starter plants. Or maybe find a selection of starter plants in your grocery store’s produce section as well.

Drevets says if your herb garden is in your kitchen, the plants should get some additional humidity from your use of the sink or dishwasher. If not, lightly mist them with a water spray bottle.

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Millennials Search for Unconventional Down Payment Funds, But at What Cost?

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By Liz Dominguez

Millennials meeting with REALTOR Rising home prices are standing in the way of millennials who want to buy their first home; however, these challenges are being overcome via some unconventional methods. Millennials are getting creative and finding sources for their down payment by any means necessary. But are these methods hurting the millennial generation financially?

Borrowing from family: Sure, gifted money doesn’t sound bad. But what if the families don’t have the cash to give? Instead, buyers are asking that their parents’ home be refinanced, using the home equity as a way to fund their own home purchase.

Of course, this can be beneficial in multiple-offer situations to get a competitive edge with an all-cash offer, but borrowing from a relative can go south fast. Not being able to pay a bank back can have repercussions like lowering a credit score, but missed payments to a relative can damage familial relations. Is it worth the risk?

Crowdfunding: There are new crowdfunding platforms being introduced every year, and more of them are tapping into the real estate industry. This can be a great way to amass gifted money from friends and family, but not everyone may see it that way. Instead of crowdfunding for their honeymoon, newlyweds are asking their wedding guests to donate toward their first home.

This method can get complicated in the lending world. Buyers will need to look into gifting regulations before accepting any gifted money.

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Why Remodeling Can Bring More Joy to a Home

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By Meredith Dunn, National Association of REALTORS®

The expected tenure of homeowners in a home continues to increase, according to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Last year, the expected tenure was 12 years – this year, it jumped to 15. And, with tightened inventory in many markets, people are staying put in their homes for longer. As a result, remodeling one’s current home is an increasingly popular option for those who want their dream home, but are unable or unwilling to move.

The 2017 Remodeling Impact report shows that remodeling can bring more enjoyment to a home, and that certain projects have high returns both in terms of the joy they bring to the homeowner, as well as the amount of expenses that are recouped when the home is sold.

The projects that yield the most joy and recoup the most expenses might come as a surprise. According to REALTOR® respondents, the number one project is a complete kitchen renovation. The top reason homeowners renovate the kitchen is for better functionality and livability, according to 44 percent of respondents. When the project is completed, 91 percent of respondents have both a greater desire to be in the home and have a greater sense of enjoyment when they are at home. Overall, a kitchen renovation receives a 10 out of 10 Joy Score and REALTORS® estimate that $40,000 of the cost can be recovered at resale—approximately 62 percent of the estimated cost.

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The second-most popular project is a kitchen upgrade. Like the complete kitchen renovation, upgrading worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials is high on the list of reasons to undertake the project – in fact, it’s the number one reason, at 42 percent. When the project is completed, 81 percent report experiencing a greater desire to be in the home and feeling a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the project. Slightly less have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are in the home at 76 percent, but the project overall has a Joy Score of 9.6 out of 10. REALTORS® estimate that $20,000 of the cost can be recovered at resale—57 percent of the estimated cost.

The third project on the list of most popular projects is a bathroom renovation. Forty percent undertake the project for better functionality and livability, while 38 percent want to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials. When the project is completed, 78 percent feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the project. The project has a Joy Score of 9.6 out of 10, and REALTORS® estimate that $15,000 of the cost can be recovered at resale—50 percent of the estimated cost.

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3 Reasons Your Smaller House Can Sell for More Than Ever Before

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Article By: Brooke Chaplan

It can seem like having a small home is a liability. After all, there’s a certain feeling that homebuyers are always looking for something bigger and better. But that trends has shifted over the last few years. Smaller homes are beginning to sell faster than many of their larger competitors. Here are three reasons why.

Area Over Square Footage. Buyers have also become incredibly conscious about the areas in which they live. With some buyers now targeting hip new areas, they are willing to put aside some of their size concerns in order to get into the hottest neighborhoods. These trends are especially true among younger buyers who don’t plan on having large families; they now know that they can get a good space near everything they loved without having to travel.

Bigger Means More Costs. Since the housing market crash in 2008, the way that people buy homes has changed and buyers are considering factors other than square footage in order to make a smart investment. Many buyers consider lower maintenance costs an important asset in a property. This, in turn, allows owners of smaller homes to be more competitive than their larger neighbors, especially when selling to investors.

Minimalism is In. Quite a bit of what’s been discussed goes back to a single, overriding trend among younger buyers: minimalism. There are many who now see having a smaller, nicer home as a lifestyle statement. These are the same kinds of buyers who would have paid top dollar for a larger space years ago, but are now following current trends.

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How to Make an Open Floor Plan Work for You

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Article By: Monica Thomas

Once a trend, open floor plans have become a staple of most modern homes. An open floor plan generally means the living room, kitchen, and dining room are combined into a large space or great room. Before taking a hammer to all interior walls, it’s important to know the structure of your home, as well as the benefits and ways you can accomplish an open concept.

Benefits of an Open Floor Plan

Space
Small, cluttered homes can be transformed into airy, more breathable spaces by knocking down a few dividing walls. A demolition project may seem daunting, but the average cost is just over $3,000. Just be sure to have a professional take a look before wielding a sledgehammer. Hiring a structural engineer will cost you about $500, but you’ll save yourself the headache of rebuilds, fines, or structural problems.

Natural Light
Without walls blocking the windows, natural light is able to stream in your home, making the open space seem even larger and more airy. Along with knocking down walls, you can bring natural light into your home by connecting the outdoors to your home’s interior with large patio doors. On average, you can install glass doors for about $1,600.

Inclusivity
It’s right there in the title: an open floor plan means more openness and inclusivity in your home. When you’re preparing dinner in the kitchen, for example, you won’t be closed off from the rest of the house. This is great for both entertaining and every day. When you’re entertaining, you can still be a part of the party, even while preparing food and drinks. And as an everyday solution, you’re able to keep an eye on children, pets, or—let’s be honest—the TV, while still going about your daily tasks.

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Sherwin Williams’ Pick for 2018’s Hottest Color

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Posted in Home Trends, by Melissa Tracey

A rich blue with jewel-toned greens is forecasted to be 2018’s hottest color of the year, according to Sherwin Williams, which unveiled its 2018 Color of the Year choice this week. Other paint companies will be announcing their paint choices over the next few weeks.

Oceanside SW 6496 is a statement color. It can add a bold, attention-getting pop to wall colors, furnishings, accessories, and even a home’s front door.

“Green-blues in deep values, such as Oceanside, respond to changes in light, which is a quality that creates intense dimension,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “It is a tremendously versatile color, and harmonizes with other diverse color groups.”

Oceanside is reminiscent of a marine-inspired look. But Sherwin Williams says the color can be woven into practically any design style, from mid-century modern to Mediterranean, traditional, or contemporary. Sherwin Williams says the color is versatile enough to be paired with any number of other colors, from hot pinks, yellows to navy or sky blues.

For 2017, Sherwin Williams had selected Poised Taupe (SW 6039) as the hot color. The company has been pushing the brownish-gray hue into more color schemes this year. Sherwin Williams had predicted taupe to become the next “it” color base for many homes today, edging out the popularity of gray.

But for 2018, Sherwin Williams is returning to a bolder shade for its hot-pick.

“People today have a growing sense of adventure, and it is making its way into even the coziest corners of our homes,” Wadden says. “We are craving things that remind us of bright folklore, like mermaids and expeditions across continents. Oceanside is the color of wanderlust right in our own homes.”

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Buying a Home Don’t Forget These Expenses

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Article By: Karin Beuerlein

The home buying process, moving and the first months of home ownership are fraught with unexpected expenses.

Here are a few examples of where your money may go:

Appraisal fee. You often have to pay this fee out of pocket as part of the loan approval process. Depending on your location, the fee can run anywhere from $200 to $1,000.

Professional home inspection. Costs range from $300 to $800 for typical homes, but they can go higher depending on the age and type of structure. More specific inspections, such as those for structural engineering, mold and termites are additional costs.

Extra closing costs. Although the good faith estimate from your lender should be reasonably accurate, you won’t know the actual amount you have to bring to closing until a day or two beforehand. Don’t play it too close. You don’t want to hold up closing because you’re $100 short.

Homeowner’s association fees. If you’re buying in a subdivision, you may pay an annual or even monthly fee for upkeep of common areas. Repairs, upgrades, renovations. Depending on the condition of the home you buy, remember to budget for the work it will take to make it move-in ready.

Moving van rental fees and boxes.

Termination fees for current services. Carefully check your Internet and cell phone contracts.

Appliances. Whether you’ll have appliances included depends on the deal you strike with the seller. Be aware that brand-new houses usually do not include refrigerators, washers or dryers. If the other kitchen appliances are stainless steel, you’ll need to spend some serious dough to buy a matching fridge or else live with the “eclectic” look.

Household items. As a renter, it’s easy to forget that the move to a bigger space means you’ll need more mundane stuff like trash cans, lamps and shower rods. New houses, again, usually don’t include hardware like drawer pulls, bathroom mirrors or towel bars; you may think you can live without them for a while, but trust us, you’ll crack after a week and pull out the credit card.

Lawn-care equipment. Buying a yard? Your new neighbors will prefer that you mow, rake and edge it.Warm milk. Just for the first week of wigging out in the middle of the night, wondering if they still have debtors’ prison. (They don’t.)

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4 Things Professional Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

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Out2News.comEven though a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the U.S., you can still protect yourself with simple, common-sense steps.

1. Nighttime Burglaries Aren’t the Best Time. Burglars like to break in to homes during daytime hours – between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – because there’s a high chance people will be away at work or school. The last thing criminals want is to encounter someone at home. Don’t leave your home unlocked just because it’s daytime.

2. They Know When You’re Not Home – Thanks to Social Media. Locating someone’s home address using basic information from their social media profile is surprisingly easy. In one survey of convicted burglars, more than 10 percent say they used social media to determine who was out of town. So while it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos until you’re back home.

3. They Don’t Like Your Security Practices. Burglars are looking for easy targets, so your basic security measures are pretty important. Unlocked windows, unused deadbolts, poorly lit homes, and residences without security systems are prime targets for burglars, so make sure you are using the security features you already have.

4. Your Landscaping Choices Can be a Burglar’s Best Friend. Thieves are searching for crimes of opportunity, and landscaping gives them a place to hide while planning a way of entry can be very enticing. Tall bushes are favorites of burglars since they offer an obstructed view from the street and an easy way to hide from neighbors. Sometimes the best defense is a clear view of your front porch.

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How Much Mortgage Can Your Lifestyle Afford?

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By Rebecca Bradshaw

There’s no getting around it, buying a home is expensive. Saving money for a down payment and then living within your means takes plenty of advance planning, strict budgeting, and might even require making a few sacrifices. But what if you have a lifestyle that you love—hobbies, sports, and other interests, that you aren’t necessarily willing to give up in order to own a home? Just how much mortgage can your lifestyle afford? The good news is that with some adjustments, you should be able to become a homeowner while continuing to do the things you love, and all without going broke.
Start by budgeting wisely.

In general, financial experts recommend that your mortgage payments (which include principal, interest, insurance, and taxes) should not come to more than around 28% of your gross monthly income. Be realistic about how much house you will actually be able to afford while still enjoying doing all the things you love and plan your home search accordingly.

Keep in mind, too, that the more money you put down on your new home, the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A twenty percent down payment is traditional, though there may be alternative funding programs available that require you to put down much less. Do your homework, talk to your financial institution, and look for the best option that will help you continue to live within your means while still holding on to your lifestyle.
Be willing to compromise.

If traveling is your passion, but you’re afraid that homeownership will cut into future vacations to exotic locations, consider purchasing a house that won’t take such a huge bite out of your monthly budget. Be flexible when it comes to travel opportunities as well.

You can save a lot by visiting locales that are off the beaten path, or by traveling during the off-season. Search travel websites for deals on cruises, hotels, tours, and other savings. The same types of compromises can be applied to your other interests and hobbies as well.
Get creative with your lifestyle budget.

If you’re a theater buff, but visiting Broadway just won’t work in your home buying budget, then check out local websites for community productions of award-winning plays. Sign up for updates from websites such as Living Social for discounts on everything from skydiving to upscale spa weekends. Or, if shopping is your passion, bargain hunt for clothing or home décor on sites or save up for a once a year sample sale splurge, and consider shopping at consignment stores. Don’t overlook the simple luxuries; if you’re a gourmet food lover or wine connoisseur, try indulging in a good merlot with a home cooked meal rather than going out to an expensive restaurant. Offers on everything from free or discounted tickets to concerts or sporting events, manicures, gym memberships, wine tastings, and golf getaways can all be found online with just a little time and effort.

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4 Steps to Improving Your Credit Score

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By: Todd Doss

The spring selling season is always a popular time to buy and sell. To prepare for buying a first or next home, refinancing, or if you just want to get back on track, you have to work on your FICO score.

A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people have scores near 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. The items that impact your FICO score are your credit-to-debt ratio, the types of credit you have, the number of recent credit inquiries, and most importantly, your payment history.

With all the lending turmoil lately, lenders want to know that giving you a loan isn’t a risk. Your credit score gives some insight into what type of borrower you’d be based solely on your credit history.

Building your FICO score takes time, but you can see changes within a few months. You can improve your credit score, or gain credit if you don’t already have it, by using these helpful hints:

1.) Correct your credit report

If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau asking that the items be removed. If you have a common name, or the same name as a family member, you’ll want to make sure all of the activity reported is correct.

2.) Keep up with payments

Late payments kill your FICO score. It’s the area where people who have experienced job loss take the biggest hit. It takes longer to restore your credit this way, but it’s the most reliable way to prove that you’re able to make payments to a lender.

3.) Apply for gas station cards or store credit

For those who have no credit or low credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to obtain credit, increase your credit limits and start a solid payment history. Beware of carrying a balance because these types of cards normally have high interest rates.

4.) Keep your credit in rotation

If you have older or unused credit cards, use your cards to keep your accounts active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments if you can.

Now that you know more about credit reporting, you’ll be able to improve your FICO score. I can help you keep your credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid a negative on your credit score.

To learn more, visit www.myFICO.com and get a free report at www.annualcreditreport.com.

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How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

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Article by: Sonny Lewis

THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
Selling your home is stressful, not least because it’s often just one part of a jigsaw of challenging events. Whether you’re relocating for work, about to get married (or divorced), have a baby on the way, or are retiring and cashing in your chips, you want the best price possible for your precious asset. Your choice of real estate agent is a crucial piece of the jigsaw to get right. This person is going to be right in the thick of your affairs for a while, and you want it to be a good and fruitful relationship. So, where do you start looking?
‘For Sale’ signs
Once you’ve decided to sell, you start to see these signs everywhere. They represent two things – information and threats. They tell you who has dominance in the market and who has similar listings to yours. Agents love it when they get a cluster of signs in an area. Success breeds success. You might not give the listing to them, but you’d get them in. It’s what we all want. The more signs we have, the more entries we’re given to offer appraisals.”
Open inspections
Another way to weed out local agents is to attend open houses, even if you’re not in the market to buy. Watch how agents conduct themselves. Do you like the way you’re greeted? Does the agent follow you around, so you can’t get a moment alone? Are you ignored? Does someone follow up with you the next week, to hear your thoughts on the property? If you live in a part of Australia where property is running hot, you could be facing the gauntlet of selling by auction – not as bad as buying at auction. Sellers are favoured at auction, but it can still be a bruising experience, and it might help to become familiar with the process and see who is going to be working the crowd on the day. When you’re interviewing agents, with an auction in mind, ask who the auctioneer will be and see them in action.
Recommendations
Ask people you know in your area who have sold recently who they used and whether they’d use them again. Return business is the best reference of all.

It’s time to get agents in to give you a market appraisal of your property and discuss how they would sell it. Invite as many as you can make time for. You’ll learn new things from each one, and you’ll start to see a pattern emerging on key issues, such as estimated sale price and marketing tactics. It all helps you feel more confident about what you’re doing.
If local presence is no longer such a driving force for success, what are you looking for in an agent? One key thing is rapport. Do you get on? Do you feel you can trust them? This is followed closely by reputation and track record. Experience is priceless, and thorough knowledge of the area is vital, even if their office premises are not based exactly in your suburb.
If you have seen them at open inspections, you’ll have already gauged a little bit about how they operate. For instance, some agents are generous with information to prospective buyers, some are like clams. Some agents go after buyers with gusto, while others take a ‘softly softly’ approach. Pick an agent who will deal with buyers in a manner you’re comfortable with.
Some agencies send through the whole sales team to see a property, so that all the agents in the business are across all the listings they have, and can handle enquiries. How do you feel about this? Consider the type of sale that’s been suggested and the proposed marketing campaign. Are you happy with these choices? As for commission, there’s not a great deal of variation between agents. In Sydney, commissions might range from 1.5 to 2.2 per cent.
On the same note, does the agent seem to really ‘get’ your home? Most properties, whatever their deficits, have some good points. As the agent looks around your home, does he or she start pointing out the things you love or feel proud of? This is a good sign – it means they can see the positives and are ready to show them off to prospective buyers.
If you don’t feel an agent is taking your individual circumstances into account, then try another agent. There is a lot of competition in the sector and a good agent will value you as a client.”

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK A REAL ESTATE AGENT

1. How did you arrive at this appraisal?
2. Will you be working on the property?
3. How many other properties are you currently handling?
4. What price will you be quoting to prospective buyers?
5. May I see references from past clients?
6. Do you have people in your database looking for a property like this?
7. How long does it normally take you to sell a home similar to mine
8. How long have you worked as an agent? How long in this area?
9. I don’t want to go to auction and/or hold open inspections. Is sale by private treaty/inspections by appointment possible?
10. How often will I get progress reports?

THINGS AN AGENT SHOULD DO

• Record in writing all payable fees, commissions and marketing costs
• Record in writing your length of contract and the expected sale price range (which should match the price quoted to interested buyers)
• Offer feedback on inspection numbers, contracts issued and buyer feedback
• Tell you of all offers received
• Act in your best interest at all times
• Be aware of the sensitive nature of your confidential information
• Be a member of a professional body, such as the Real Estate Institute

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5 Questions to Consider Before Downsizing Your Home

Out2News.comAs retirement approaches, your lifestyle and priorities begin to change. Chances are the days when you wanted more space – the sizeable dream home with the backyard big enough to entertain a growing family – are long gone. Instead, many retirees are looking for convenience, simplicity and accommodations more suited to their needs as “empty nesters.” As you approach this new life stage, take time to assess how your current living arrangements suit your changing lifestyle.

Here are five questions to consider as you decide whether downsizing is right for you:

1. Does your home still have the right feel?
A big house that was perfect for a family may seem overly spacious with just one or two inhabitants. It may be time to consider a change if you find that there are under-used rooms in your home or if you’re ready for a new environment. However, if you are enjoying the freedom more space brings, then your current house may be just the right fit. That might also be the case if your home is a gathering place for extended family and friends.

2. Is the upkeep sustainable?
In general, a larger house requires more work and regular investment. As you move into retirement, you may want to reduce the stress of cleaning and home projects. If working around the house and yard is something you enjoy, it may make sense to stay put. But, a smaller home will likely be less of a burden, especially if it’s move-in ready.

3. Are you ready to de-clutter?
Moving to a smaller space is a reality check for many people. All of the things you’ve been accumulating and storing for years probably won’t fit in a smaller home if you decide to downsize. That means you need to spend time going through your personal belongings to determine what’s of real value and what can go. This can take time, so it’s a good idea to get started well before it is time to move.

4. Are there cost savings?
In many situations, a larger house can be sold for a price that is higher than the cost of a smaller home. This could result in a smaller (or no) mortgage and potentially some extra money in the bank. But it is not always so simple. There are costs associated with buying, selling and moving into a new place that could impact your retirement savings if you’re not careful. Evaluate how downsizing would affect your budget and review your situation with a financial professional before taking action.

5. Where are you spending your time?
If your retirement dreams include traveling, visiting family or owning a vacation property, you may be away from home more often in retirement than you were in your working years. Having a smaller home that is easier to maintain could make sense in these situations. Alternatively, you may be looking forward to staying put and finally having time to enjoy the home you worked so hard to maintain over the years.

Downsizing doesn’t need to be rushed. Consider your priorities and if you decide to downsize, give yourself plenty of time to do it right.

Landwersiek & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of NY, CT, MA, AL, GA, NJ, NH, FL.

Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

6530 S. Kanner Hwy | Stuart, FL, 34997-6396

Office: 772.233.4315 | Fax: 772.233.4316 | Mobile: 772.263.3471

steven.w.landwersiek@ampf.com

Learn more at http://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/steven.w.landwersiek

File #1601603

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Trouble Selling? Try These Fixes

Out2News.comBy: Todd Doss

If you have had your home on the market for several months in Jensen Beach and haven’t seen much activity or any offers, chances are that one or more of the reasons below are to blame.

Problem: Your price is too high
Solution: Regardless of the reason, if you’ve priced your home too high, you’ve set yourself up for a number of obstacles to selling your home. The fact is this: your home is competing against those other homes, and what buyers are willing to pay is what will determine final sale price. Competitive pricing attracts more buyers and more offers.

Problem: The look of your home
Solution: The more you can do to make your home appeal to buyers, the better your chances for a quick sale. Your best “bang for the buck” is in paint and flooring. Repainting doesn’t cost much, and will usually make the biggest impact on buyers. And, you should consider putting in new carpet. Again, it’s not that expensive but it sure does make an impact on buyers coming to look at your home.

Problem: Your home’s location
Solution: The only really reliable way to overcome a bad location is with a lower price. It’s the oldest real estate cliché, but it’s true. Things like schools, crime rates, visual appeal of the neighborhood, noise and the smell of pollution affect how the desirability of the location.

Problem: Your home isn’t easily accessible
Solution: When an agent is compiling a list of homes to show a buyer, they’ll show houses that are easiest to gain access to first. You should let your agent put a lock box on your home for easier showing. If not, do anything you can to make it convenient for agents to show your home.

What this all comes down to is having a real estate agent who is on your side and helps you make good choices about selling your home. Pick someone with great industry relationships that makes you feel confident and comfortable with selling your home.

If you or someone you know needs a real estate agent, just give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

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Personal Safety Tips for Real Estate Agents

Out2News.com

Article By Rebecca Bradshaw

If you are a Realtor®, routines such as showing vacant homes, meeting new clients, and allowing strangers into your car are regular parts of the job. Unfortunately, so is the potential risk to your personal safety. So, what can you do to stay safe while making a sale?

Be smart when marketing yourself. Don’t use head shots that include expensive jewelry or that might be considered provocative. Personal information such as home addresses or phone numbers should never be included on websites or business cards, and to be extra cautious, limit who can see your personal social media accounts by setting them to private access only.

Meet new clients at the office or in a public place, and don’t assume that a referred client isn’t potentially dangerous. Have clients fill out information forms and get copies of driver’s licenses. Leave the copies with another person, as well as an itinerary of properties you’ll be showing, and let the client know that you’ve done so. If you must meet away from the office or after dark, take along an associate or family member.

When showing properties to clients, your safest bet is to travel in separate cars, but it that’s not possible, stay safe by staying hyper-alert. Don’t set yourself up to be robbed by leaving your purse or wallet out in the open. Keep 911 just a speed dial away, and have a coded message to let others know you are in danger without alerting your passenger. Only show properties in daylight, and always park on a street rather than in a driveway where pulling away quickly might be difficult.

Entering empty homes can be high risk; be sure others are aware of your location or take an associate with you. Since vacant houses often attract squatters, check the exterior for any signs that the property has been entered, and be alert to inside hiding places. If you encounter a squatter, leave immediately and call the police. When showing the home to a client, walk behind them, directing rather than leading, and never allow yourself to be trapped in a confined space.

Use the same precautions when holding an open house. Work with another person, and advertise that ID’s will be required; have visitors fill out information sheets at the door. Before the showing, scope out escape routes and check the strength of your cell phone’s signal. Thieves like to strike when the crowd thins, so be extra vigilant for any suspicious behavior late in the day, and don’t assume that everyone has left when the showing is over. Use the buddy system and check backyards, closets, and anywhere someone might be hiding before locking up.

Overall, the best safety measure a realtor can take is to be prepared. Attend self-defense classes, carry a whistle and pepper spray, and arm yourself with one of the wide range of phone apps and personal safety devices that are designed to get assistance to you quickly. Above all, trust your instincts–If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation or call for help.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Housing Wire, Inman, Realtor Mag

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Five Tips for Buying Your First Home

Out2News.comAre you dreaming about moving into your first home? While home hunting can be exciting, the process of buying a home can be somewhat challenging. Purchasing a home is a big financial commitment – potentially one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. With some planning, you can be ready to commit to a home with confidence. Here are some tips to help you get your finances ready for purchasing a home.

Determine your down payment and monthly housing cost. In most cases, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 10-15 percent. However, it can be advantageous to make a larger payment to reduce the interest you’ll pay and avoid fees attached to low-down-payment loans. As a benchmark, your down payment generally needs to be at least 20 percent to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones with a generous relative willing to help with your down payment. If that’s the case, ask your lender about rules pertaining to cash gifts. You can determine your monthly housing cost by adding the cost of your mortgage payment, taxes and homeowners insurance. Be sure to look at the total monthly housing cost before purchasing a home to make sure it fits into your overall budget.

Get preapproved for a home loan. With preapproval in hand from a reputable mortgage company, your offer has a better chance of being accepted. Plus, you may be able to shorten the closing period since the loan approval process has been completed. Keep in mind that getting prequalified for a loan is not the same as obtaining preapproval. Prequalification is merely an estimate of how much you may be eligible to borrow based on self-reported income information – it is not a guarantee you will receive a loan. You are still required to undergo an approval process.

Approach fixer-uppers with caution. Unless you are confident the house you’re buying has been deeply discounted based on the current housing prices in your area, you may place yourself at greater financial risk if your new home requires a lot of work. To avoid over extending yourself, look for a home that is in good shape and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. However, be realistic about what you can afford. If you have the time and know-how to retile the bathroom, paint the living room or enhance the landscaping, a moderate fixer-upper could be worth the financial investment.

Limit your demands. If you want to make a compelling offer, particularly in a strong real estate market, you may want to be selective about the conditions you’re adding to your offer. An inspection contingency is smart but asking for extensive repairs may tip the scales in favor of another buyer who is less demanding.

Do your research so you’re ready to act. Buying a home can be a very emotional decision and it’s important to go into the process well prepared. Take some time to lay out your priorities and research the market. What’s most important to you long-term – resale value, location, school district, number of bedrooms? Be practical about what you can truly afford and take the time to obtain preapproval from your bank or mortgage company. When you start seriously looking, you may have to act fast if you find the perfect house. If you’re prepared and thoughtful at the beginning of the process, you’ll be in a better position to make the right move.

Landwersiek & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of NY, CT, MA, AL, GA, NJ, NH, FL.

Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

6530 S. Kanner Hwy | Stuart, FL, 34997-6396

Office: 772.233.4315 | Fax: 772.233.4316 | Mobile: 772.263.3471

steven.w.landwersiek@ampf.com

Learn more at http://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/steven.w.landwersiek

File #1506891

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Study Reveals Best Technique for Pricing a Home

Out2News.com

The best technique for pricing a home when listing it for sale is setting the asking price just below a round number, according to recent research published by the Journal of Housing Research, an official publication of the American Real Estate Society (ARES).

“These findings will help real estate professionals and sellers of homes develop more informed listing and marketing strategies to better suit sellers’ needs,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., ARES publication director, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and co-developer of the Beracha, Hardin and Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. “The results of this study take a lot of guess work out of the marketing of homes for real estate professionals.”

The study looked at 1,000 buyers in Virginia considering a pool of more than 370,000 listings. The researchers were able to determine the impact of “rounded pricing” listing strategies versus “just below pricing” listing strategies.

“Our study suggests that by using the just below pricing strategy sellers can price their home slightly higher without driving away potential buyers,” says Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of Florida International University, who conducted the study with Michael J. Seiler, Ph.D., of The College of William & Mary. “As a result, they end up selling their house for more.”

How does dropping your asking price ever so slightly impact the final outcome?

“On average, buyers are more attracted to a house priced at $199,000 than to a house priced at $200,000 and it appears that ‘just below’ pricing works out favorably for sellers in terms of their bottom line,” Beracha explains. “Based on our research, the ‘just below’ pricing strategy yields a selling price that is, on average, roughly 2.5 to 3 percent higher, $5,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 house, compared with a rounded pricing listing strategy.”

While residential real estate agents widely disagree on the appropriate pricing strategy to use when listing residential real estate for sale, the researchers found that homebuyers more often prefer homes priced using a “just below” pricing strategy. This preference allows sellers to list their home for a higher initial listing price.

On the other hand, due to the demand effect, rounded priced homes typically have shorter time on the market and a lower discount relative to listing price. Their findings suggest that sellers’ ability to set higher listing prices for properties using a “just below” pricing strategy outweighs the lower discount and shorter time on the market associated with similar rounded priced strategy homes.

“We tested the age-old debate concerning the best technique to price a home when listing it for sale,” Seiler says. “We find that using a price just below a round number works best, particularly in connection to the left-most digit in the price. So, $199,000 works better than $200,000.”

For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

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8 Steps to Finding the Perfect Neighborhood

Out2News.com

You’ve made the decision to move from one home to another. Exciting, isn’t it? While you peruse the internet and drive around taking in the sights of several new-home hopefuls, have you considered the immediate location of your potential places? If our house is the ultimate picture of homestead happiness that we hope to see ourselves in, then the neighborhood is the frame in which that picture is encased. We have gathered a few points of perfection for your new neighborhood.

Pinpoint Your Wants

Before setting foot in a home, sit down with your family to list out what you want in your new neighborhood. You should of course consider the price point of the house, but don’t stop there. Think on the small things that make your life pleasurable such as sidewalks or access to a pool. What kind of space do you want between you and your neighbors? Do you want to live in a Neighborhood Watch Protected Area? Are you looking for a single-family home or something different? This list of neighborhood wants will serve as a great jumping off point.

Valuing the View

As you make your way through each neighborhood, take in the view and we don’t just mean the scenery. Look at the other houses surrounding your potential home. Do your neighbors keep the yards well manicured? What about the upkeep of the homes themselves, such as paint jobs and gutters? Observe the signage, too. Are there several rental signs? If so, your neighbors may fluctuate on a more than desirable basis. What about foreclosures? Considering these points will give you an idea of how well your home will hold its value.

Commute and Convenience

When deciding where to live, remember that much of our time is spent outside of the home. Consider your commute time to your 40-hour a week home away from home. If you have children, choose a house close to their school, especially if they are involved in after-school activities that will take you there more than five times a week. Close proximity to your most frequented locations will give you more time to enjoy your new house and less time in your car.

Pondering Potential Expenses

Besides the price tag of the mortgage, the neighborhood that you choose can also affect your monthly expenses. For starters, property taxes differ depending on what county and state you reside in. At times, development within an area can also raise property taxes. Further still, some neighborhoods have monthly or annual HOA fees. A Homeowner’s Association can regulate the upkeep of your home and mandate certain updates that could potentially cost you money.

Cruise and Observe

All neighborhoods seem to take on a culture of their own. Try to get an idea for the feel of the neighborhood before you sign on the dotted line. Cruise through at all hours of the day and after dark. Once the sun dips down, are there people still out? Are there families around? Do you see several cars parked on the road or are they garage kept? These are just a few of the clues that give us an idea of what sort of neighborhood we are buying into.

Sights, Sounds, and Smells

We’ve covered several points on the sights already, but let’s hammer that one home. Take a look at your potential immediate neighbors’ houses. Make note if they have anything, such as a tarp covered car or a broken down fence that may be less than desirable to look at each day. When cruising through at various hours, try to notice whether or not the neighbors are loud. What about the buzz of a busy road? Finally, take a whiff of the air. It may sound strange, but you never know if there may be a sewer backup or a stagnant body of water nearby.

Basic Coverage

When you are assessing your neighborhood, research goes a long way. Look up the crime rates in the various possible home locations. Review your family’s collective personality. When it comes to your lifestyle, think about local points of interest that you want to be close to. For example, an avid outdoors explorer will want to have rural terrain nearby. A family who eats out more than they eat in will want plenty of eateries to choose from. If you consider the type of person you are now, then your home’s location will cater to it.

Future Focused

Our final point focuses on any future changes coming down the pike. Are you planning on having children or are your children going to graduate upwards to a new school while at this house and, if so, all the schools they will attend should be nearby. What about job changes? Think about when you may change houses again and what this neighborhood’s value will do.

Save time and heartache by considering these neighborhood points before buying. With a little pre-planning, your home will be centered in a location that you love as much as the house!

Sources: HGTV.com, sterlingliving.com, forbes.com

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The Home Design Center of Florida

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Stuart -The Home Design Center of Florida and you will experience a one stop shop when it comes to kitchen design and remodeling. Experience the latest styles in kitchen, and flooring design from the industry’s leading manufacturers.

The showroom experience is created to be a one-on-one intimate interaction where our experts can give the time and energy each project deserves. Our customers come back to us for the same reason every time: the people. Not only do we offer experts to help you in your home remodel, but we set a purpose to have the proper amount of time to make sure the end result of each project exceeds the expectation of our customer every time.

Services Provided: Kitchen and bathroom remodeling, countertops, painting, flooring, rough and finish carpentry,

Areas Served: Treasure Coast, Indian River & Palm Beach County

Certifications and Awards: Certified IICRC Water Technician

7802 SE Ellipse Way, Stuart, FL 34997,  772-223-8400

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