Month: April 2016

Staging A Bathroom To Sell


  • Mold: It’s very important to take care of any mold issues that may be present. Surface mold should be cleaned up quickly to avoid a larger problem from occurring. If you suspect that there is a large mold problem, DIY mold testing kits are available at your local home improvement store and can be used to detect mold issues. If a large mold presence is found, consult a professional to take care of the issue.
  • Old paint: If the paint in the bathroom is aged and discolored, using a fresh coat of neutral colored paint will go a long way in freshening up the space.
  • Stained tiles: Stains can be removed from tiles with a solution of warm water and vinegar. To remove mildew from surfaces, a water and ammonia solution is effective.
  • Sufficient lighting: Be sure to have adequate lighting in the bathroom. A dimly lit bathroom can seem dirty and small.
  • Keep it neutral: If remodeling a bathroom, try to keep the color palette neutral and the surfaces clean.
  • Don’t leave used towels and toiletries out
  • Keep the toilet clean and the lid down
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What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Home Insurance


  • What it covers: An average policy will pay for damage to your property and possessions due to certain storms, fire, theft, or vandalism. Similar to renter’s insurance, it can also provide liability coverage if someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue. Your policy also covers shelter costs in the event that you are temporarily displaced from your home. Homeowner’s insurance can also protect items outside of the home, such as items stolen from your car; auto insurance won’t cover it but your homeowner’s policy probably will.
  • What it doesn’t cover: A standard policy does have some exclusions; earth movements such as landslides, earthquakes, and sinkholes, power failure, war, nuclear hazard, government action, faulty zoning, bad repair or workmanship, defective maintenance and flooding. Wind storms are usually covered, including tornadoes, however some companies don’t include tornadoes and hurricanes in high risk areas. Water damage can be hard; normally water from above (rainwater or a burst pipe) is covered but water from below (such as backed up sewers) usually isn’t covered.
  • Shop around: Don’t just shop for a great policy; make sure you find an agent that you trust.
  • Actions to reduce premiums: Having a working smoke detector may help lower premiums as will simply having a deadbolt on your door or having a burglar alarm system. A deadbolt can reduce a premium by about 5% and an alarm system can create a 15%-20% premium reduction.
  • Replacement coverage vs. market value: Replacement cost covers repairing or replacing your entire home; market value is how much someone would pay for your home and the accompanying land in it’s current (damaged) condition.
  • Don’t wait to file a claim: When looking into policies, be sure to ask about time limits for reporting claims and then stick to them!
  • Write everything down: To avoid any issues, be sure to write everything down about a loss-document it as best as you can. Keep all receipts, contracts, appraisals, and also document phone calls by writing down who you spoke to and when.
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Why Hire An Agent?


  • Education and experience
  • Agents are buffers: If you are buying a home, they will keep builder’s agents at bay and if you are selling your home, they will filter through the spam and get serious buyers to make an offer.
  • Neighborhood knowledge: Agents know the inside scoop on neighborhoods, including school information, demographics, crime, and important information on comparable home sales.
  • Guidance on price: Agents will guide clients on determining a price that is best.
  • Information on market conditions: Agents will provide information on market conditions including average price per square foot for similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on the market, etc, which will help guide the buying or selling process.
  • Professional networking: Agents can provide recommendations for reputable services needed during the buying or selling process based on past positive experiences.
  • Negotiation skills: Top producing agents negotiate very well and will present their clients case in the very best light, while holding client information confidential from competing interests.
  • Providing support after closing: Professional agents will answer any questions and provide support to the client even after the closing.


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Landscaping Secrets


  • Evergreens: These trees are a great choice because they don’t lose their leaves or needles so they provide a splash of color all year round. They are also great for providing privacy in your yard as well.
  • Pathways: Do you have a trail of trampled and dead grass going from your patio/deck to your firepit? Instead of allowing that to happen, why not create an intentional walkway made of brick, flagstone, stepping stones, or crushed stones? The creation of a pathway looks great aesthetically because it ties together the most important parts of your yard.
  • Create a berm: If you have a very flat yard and are looking to add some interest, try creating a berm in the corner of your yard. A berm is a mound that you make and then cover with a flower bed or some trees. A berm adds height and dimension to an otherwise stale yard.
  • Create a natural looking water feature: Water features, either a large one in the yard or even a small one built into a patio can really add to the appeal of your property. The key to a water feature is to make it look natural by not making it too busy and by possibly using the same materials that your house was built with.
  • Outdoor seating: Carving out a private seating area near the end of your lawn can allow you to have more seating while in a more private area of your lawn. Pouring concrete or laying paver stones to create this outdoor oasis can allow you to have an area to relax while enjoying plants/flowers that are planted around the area.
  • Use a variety of plants: Be sure to choose a wide range of plant species that bloom at alternate times of the year. This way everything is not blooming at once and you are left with beauty all year round.
  • Add interesting edging: Often times, flower beds as well as the foundation of the home are edged. Instead of edging using straight lines, try curved lines. Curved edging adds even more interest and is there all year providing a more dynamic lawn.
  • Illumination: Adding landscape lights to show off your yard after hours and to light up walkways will add to the beauty as well as functionality of your home’s exterior.


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3 Annoying Mortgage Hurdles And How To Get Over Them


  1. High debt ratio: Even if you have a stellar credit score and lot’s of money in the bank, a high debt ratio is a problem when trying to get a mortgage. If your housing payments and your credit obligations are greater than 45% of your monthly income, it will be very difficult to obtain a mortgage, at least without making some changes. If debt such as car payments and payments on credit cards are holding you back from getting a mortgage, take an in depth look at those accounts. Can any of them be paid off in full? If not, see if your payments can be consolidated into a lower payment. Your loan officer will be able to assist you in managing your debt better.
  2. When a solution creates another problem: Getting a loan can be frustrating. For example, if a loan officer asks you to provide pay stubs showing your yearly income and last year shows a lower income than previous years, your loan officer may ask you for a letter of explanation about why your income is less. Sometimes these conditions can snowball, making the process slow. If things get complicated, consider cancelling the loan and starting over with very clear directions.
  3. Undocumented funds: Even if you are self employed, lenders will still want your funds documented. Any funds being deposited into your account that are separate from your income need to be documented, explained, and sourced in order to be considered loan eligible. If it is possible, try to avoid depositing monies into your bank account that you will be unprepared to document. Instead, try using a different asset account without the deposit activity or try getting gift funds that you can provide documentation for.
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6 Ideas On How To Cut Moving Costs


    Moving costs can add up, but there are simple ways to reduce your moving related expenses:

1. Make the move on your own: Instead of hiring a professional moving service, it is more cost effective to rent a truck and move things yourself instead. If you aren’t up for doing that, you can still move some things on your own and get professional help with only a portion of your move.
2. Get quotes: If you are using a moving company, be sure to get cost estimates from at least three different companies. Be prepared to let the companies know the number of miles that you are moving, how many possessions you are moving, etc. This way they can give you the most accurate estimate possible. It’s a good idea to check out sites such as The Better Business Bureau to become informed about any complaints or issues related to the company, if there are any.
3. Moving day: Schedule your moving day on an off peak day, such as mid week. Many people move on the weekends so if your schedule allows, you may be able to find better deals if you move on a Tuesday for example rather than a Saturday or Sunday.
4. Don’t over-insure: Many moving companies offer insurance to protect your belongings during a move but that may not be necessary. Many renter and homeowner insurance policies have this type of insurance built into them so you may not need to purchase extra.
5. Don’t pay for moving boxes: Instead of going to a home improvement store to purchase moving boxes, be resourceful and find free ones instead. Ask your local grocery store for left over boxes, ask friends and family, or check with big box stores.
6. Tax deductions: If you are moving for your job, you may be able to deduct some of your moving expenses from your taxes.

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DIY Safety


  • Power tool safety: Never leave a power pool unattended while it’s active and unplug all tools (keeping cords out of children’s reach) when finished. Electrical cords should always be kept away from sharp edges, oil, and heat.
  • Dress appropriately: Don’t wear jewelry or loose fitting clothing while working and wear goggles when appropriate as well as ear plugs when using loud power tools.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings: Be aware of who is entering any work zone or areas with tools and always keep both children and pets away from work areas.
  • Use ladders correctly: Follow the 4-to-1 rule-for every four feet in ladder height, the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from any object or wall it’s leaning against. Read all warning labels and instructions before use and be sure to use the right ladder for the job as far as ladder height and weight limits go. Using a ladder that is long enough as well as fully welded is always important.
  • Keep a first aid kit on hand
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Credit Scores


Your credit score plays a large role in the type of financing you will be offered when looking to buy a home. Banks usually decide on the terms of a loan based on the credit score category that you fall in to. It is important to check into your credit score and to ensure that you take any necessary steps to improving your score as much as possible before deciding to finance a home. Here is a quick summary of how banks view your credit score in relation to financing:

  • The lower the credit score, the more difficult it is to become approved for a loan and the loans that are obtained with a lower score will typically have a higher interest rate
  • In order to qualify for conventional financing, a borrower must have a minimum score of 620; some lenders have raised the minimum score needed for conventional loans through overlays (rule overrides)
  • The national average FICO score is 689
Below are the credit tiers according to Fannie/Freddie:
– 760 Plus New Tier 1 A
– 740-759 Old Tier 1 A
– 720-739 Fair Sub A
– 700-719 Fair
– 680-699 Average
– 660-670 Below Average
– 640-659
– 620-639


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Green Upgrades With Fast Pay Offs


  • Compact fluorescent bulbs: These bulbs are affordable and claim to last as long as 10 incandescent bulbs (10 years with about 3 hours of use a day), and will save the homeowner $60. For a home with 25 light bulbs, you can buy new compact fluorescent bulbs for under $15 total and save about $1,500 over the course of about 10 years. Don’t forget that these new bulbs contain mercury and can’t be thrown out; they need to be brought to a home improvement store to be disposed of.
  • Consult with the utility company: Have your utility company come out and look over your home to determine where you can save money. They will be able to give you an estimate of how much major appliances cost a year and may be able to do small jobs such as putting weather stripping around exterior doors.
  • Save water: Aside from installing a low-flow toilet, you can also save a considerable amount of money by making changes in your shower. By unscrewing your shower head and installing a flow restrictor, you can conserve water and save money while doing so.
  • Insulate the attic: Putting insulation in the attic can pay for itself within a matter of a couple of years. If the attic is small and space is limited, insulation can be blown in.
  • Be cautious with windows: Double-paned windows can save you considerable amounts of money and are a good idea if you need to replace a window. Many homeowners wonder if they should go ahead and put double- paned windows throughout the home while they are having to install one anyway. Experts caution against this large investment, about $8,000-$12,000, because if a window is not installed properly, the homeowner will not see the savings.
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