Sept. 2, 2020

When Should You Invest In Rental Properties?

When Should You Invest In Rental Properties?

If you are considering becoming a property investor, you may wonder why you should buy a rental and what indicators to look for when trying to find a property. Here are some signs to look for if you are on the fence about investing in a rental that indicate it is a great time to buy!

Low Interest Rates

When mortgage rates drop, it is much easier to make a property produce income. The best place to figure out what kind of interest rate you will get for an investment property is with a lender. Check in with them to figure out how to start the process, and contact an agent to help you start viewing potential properties.

Home Equity

Check in with a local Realtor to see how much your current home is worth! Some investment properties require a high down payment, but low-interest rates, refinancing and knowing your home value can make a difference. For example, if you need to borrow 10%, many homes in good markets can appreciate 10% of their value in just a year, depending on the condition and the location. Chat with a lender to see if you can qualify, and check in with your current mortgage company to discuss your plan.

Scarcity of Units

Do you live in a location where rental units are in high-demand? Maybe your city is growing and the demand for a space to rent is higher than the available properties. If that is the case, now is the best time to find a property to purchase for rental purposes.

Return Rate

If the rate of return in your county is growing, it might be a good time to invest in property. If there is a yearly increase, you can make significant gains over time.

Ultimately, talking to professionals can help you decide if now is the right time to invest in rental properties!

Posted in Buyer Tips
Sept. 2, 2020

What Should I Do With Leftover Paint?

What Should I Do With Leftover Paint?

If you have paint cans stacking up in your basement or closet because you aren’t sure whether to keep them or how to dispose of them, you’ve come to the right place! First, you will want to determine if the paint is still good or not. Any solvent-based paint typically has a 15-year shelf life. If you are able to stir it, it’s probably okay to keep for touch ups. Latex paint has a 10-year shelf life. If there is any way it could have frozen in storage, it may not be usable. You can test to see by stirring and brushing the paint onto newspaper. If there are lumps, the paint needs tossed.

Next, you’ll decide what you actually want to keep. If your walls are no longer that color, it is likely time to get rid of that paint. If it is a color still in your home, it will be good to hang on to for touch-ups and repainting in the future. If there are any loose lids, be sure to seal them carefully. If you have the information, now would be a great time to label them with color name, number and date of purchase.

If you have good paint that you can’t use, offer it to family, friends and neighbors, or call a local paint contractor. Some charities take paint too, especially those that do work helping the elderly with home renovations.

Now that you’ve handled paint you want to keep or donate, it is time to dispose of what is left. Disposal is dependent on the type of paint. One gallon of paint can contaminate thousands of gallons of water, harm fish and aquatic plant life and eventually poison the food chain.

For latex and acrylic paints, you can solidify these paints and throw them away with the household trash depending on the municipality. To do this, mix your paint with a clay-based cat litter at a ratio of two parts litter to one part paint. Do this in a well-ventilated area, away from pets and children. Many hardware stores carry additives to put into your paint to solidify it for disposal.

For oil-based paints, you will need to check if there is a scheduled household waste collection day in your community. You can also bring paints to a specified collection site along with other toxic products you want to get rid of, such as paint removers, used solvents, pesticides and herbicides and you can get that information from your local community waste programs. If your community does not offer this service, call your County Extension Home Economics Agent, the local waste management agency, your area’s water treatment plant or the local landfill, and ask what the procedure is for where you live.

Posted in Buyer Tips
Sept. 2, 2020

Reading Your Title Report Before Listing

Reading Your Title Report Before Listing

While it might not be the first thing on your list, there are quite a few reasons why you should several important documents before making any property purchase. Those include your title abstract, the title insurance policy with schedule of exclusions, the survey while you walk the property lines, and any homeowners’ association documents. You may inspected a property and everything looked great, so you didn’t look at the county plat or have a survey done and rushed to buy it. Then after closing, you see something you thought was a part of your land and turns out it is not.

The truth is that in almost every circumstance, there is a potential for issues to arise if important documents aren’t all reviewed thoroughly before purchasing property. There is a chance you may be okay with dealing with that issue yourself, but wouldn’t you like to know about it before you choose to purchase?

When you are purchasing a property using a multiple listing service transaction, the escrow company being used usually provides you with information on the legal rights and responsibilities that come with your new home or land. They may also provide a plat of the property, which will show property boundaries.

Your Schedule of Exclusions will be provided by your title insurance company alongside your insurance. You need to read that list of exclusions and make sure you review any issues. You typically receive all these documents in a packet after you are going into escrow. Make sure you read them! Review them with your agent, insurance officer, and potentially a lawyer if needed. You are making one of the largest purchases you might ever make. Use your knowledge to protect yourself and your purchase.

Posted in Seller Tips
Sept. 2, 2020

6 SMART HOME DEVICES FOR LESS THAN $100

6 SMART HOME DEVICES FOR LESS THAN $100

Every day, the world presents us with new technology. It seems like there isn’t much left that technology can’t do. Thankfully, with every advancement, many items have become more affordable. While a high-tech home may not be the choice for everyone, there are plenty of budget-friendly options to try out if you are interested in making your home a little bit more accessible. Here are 6 items to try:

  1. Smart Speakers

    Setting reminders, asking questions, and playing music on demand has never been so easy! Smart speakers are capable of making lists for you, looking up recipes, and so much more.

  2. Smart Plugs

    Left the coffee pot plugged in and need to turn it off, but you aren’t home? Smart plugs allow you to turn off (and on) something plugged in from your phone. These are also great for lighting systems like lamps or even holiday lights.

  3. Smart Doorbells

    Smart doorbells are an incredible investment. Monitor who is ringing your doorbell, when packages are dropped off, and so much more all with your phone!

  4. Smart Locks

    Lost keys? Need to let someone in to water your plants while you are out of town? Smart Locks allow you to use your phone to lock and unlock your door, or just use a keypad!

  5. Smart Switches

    Smart switches allow you to turn lights off and on with your phone. Next time you forget to turn off the kitchen light and you are already in bed, smart switches can save the day!

  6. Smart Bulbs

    Adjust the brightness of color in any room when you install smart bulbs. Great for kids or rooms where you want to be able to dim the lights!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Sept. 2, 2020

Turn Your Home from Cold to Cozy

Turn Your Home from Cold to Cozy

As the days get shorter and shorter, you’re probably spending more time curled up on the couch than you were on those long summer days. Instead of letting the cold weather get you down, take the time to turn your space into a warm and cozy escape from the outdoors. Here are some tips to turn your house from cold to cozy.

Bake Your Favorite Dessert

Not only will the smell fill your home with sweet, warm scents but baking and the process it requires can fill your home with joy. Plus, you have a great snack to cuddle up with the couch!

Light Some Candles

Lighting candles will add to your comfy atmosphere. They will give soft light and welcoming scents for every corner of your home.

Add Texture To Your Decor

The right decor can make your space even more inviting. Plush cushions and throws paired with the perfect cable-knit blankets will make you and your guests want to spend the weekends binge-watching from the couch.

Have Guests Over

Instead of locking yourself in alone this winter, make sure you invite guests over to enjoy your cozy home with you! Have them bring their favorite snack or winter beverage and share your coziness.

Perfect A Winter Beverage

The best thing to have with your baked goods is a warm beverage to enjoy. Crock-Pot hot chocolate and apple cider is great for the kids and hot toddies or mulled wine will warm you up quick!

Make A Winter Playlist

The final step to making your space cozy this season is making the perfect playlist to play in the background while you are snuggled in. Grab your mulled wine + fresh cookies and enjoy the sounds of the winter from the comfort of your cozy home!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Nov. 4, 2019

Avoid These Mistakes That Delay Lender Approvals

If you’re getting ready to buy a home, you’re likely realizing that one of the most important parts of the process is getting approved for a mortgage that works for you. To get the best rate and avoid losing your deposit, steer clear of these common mistakes.

Leaving out details from your financial profile.

The best way to avoid doing this is having a great mortgage lender. Making sure you include not only your basic information, employment and living history, income, assets and debts, but also ensuring you answer every single question. Leaving details out of your profile can throw off the entire process, so having someone who is meticulous enough to make sure all your information is made available is key.

Assuming pre-approval is equal to actual approval.

Pre-approval for a mortgage means that you’ve talked to a potential lender or maybe even provided some documentation that gave the impression that you will be approved for a certain amount. Don’t be confused - this is not an actual approval. You need to make sure your loan is approved by an underwriter before making any offers to buy a home. When you are “underwriting approved” you will be able to get a formal loan commitment. Without this document, there is no proof of actual approval, meaning that your profile has been evaluated but nothing official to show approval.

Failing to provide every single piece of documentation needed.

Your lender is going to want very detailed documentation of your financial profile, including the following:

  • Pay stubs covering 30 days

  • 2 of tax returns & W-2s

  • YTD business financial statements (if you’re self-employed)

  • 2 months of statements for all your asset accounts

  • Explanations and paper trails of all deposits withdrawals over $1,000

  • A home insurance quote with adequate coverage

  • Full financial information on any other homes/businesses you own

You will need to provide all these documents, and if you have a commissioned or variable income, you will need to give permissions to your lender to verify that income. Your credit will be run, which can expose any information you didn’t disclose. 

Not knowing enough about mortgage rates.

Once a seller accepts your offer, you will be in contract on that home and you will be ready to lock in your mortgage rate. You cannot lock your rate until you’re in contract, which means that any rate market movement can impact you until then. Rates change throughout each day, and they are priced based on how long they are locked. A shorter lock, about a month or less, will have a lower rate than a lock of 60+ days. If you want to avoid any surprises, talk to your lender and ask them to use your closing timeline to quote rate locks.

Posted in Buyer Tips
Nov. 4, 2019

5 Must-Do's Before Buying a House

If you’re ready to begin the journey of homeownership, it is important to cross a few items off of your to-do list before hunting for the perfect house. Buying a home is a process, and you want to be as prepared as possible. Here are a few steps to take that will get you ready to buy a home.

1. Get your money straight.

A year to six months before you begin the buying process, find a lender and have them pull your credit. This will give you insight into what you expect and what you may need to mend before you can make the purchase that you want to. Your lender will be able to let you know what you qualify for based on your income at the time so that you can look for homes within your price range when the time comes.

2. Decide where you are willing to stay a while.

A home is a commitment. You can always resell, but with the transaction fees that come along with buying a home, you may end up losing equity if you try to sell your home quickly after buying it. If you don’t think the home is somewhere you can see yourself for several years, keep looking.

3. Don’t hesitate to take your time.

There is a lot more to the purchasing process than just buying a home. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of a home that you are considering buying. How is the neighborhood? Will the long commute be overwhelming in 6 months? Make sure you’ve considered the aspects of what makes up your day-to-day life and how your new home will help or hurt that process.

4. Know the difference between your dream home and a fantasy home.

Being realistic is a key part of making the home buying process easier on you. Your agent will work hard to make your deal the best it can be, but when it comes down to it, you will usually get what you pay for. Major discounts typically mean you will have work to do, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a steal for you. Be realistic during your search and keep in mind that the perfect home might not be out there, but that doesn’t mean that your dream home isn’t.

5. Find an agent for you.

Finding an agent that works for you take a major weight off of your shoulders in the home buying process. Ask your friends and family, and look into local agents that come highly recommended. When you find a trusted agent, they will be able to show you houses that you can’t find from a simple internet search and be able to negotiate for you along the way. It is their specialty - don’t waste the time or energy trying to do the job of a realtor on top of everything else you have on your plate!

Posted in Buyer Tips
Nov. 4, 2019

3 Neat Uses for Peel & Stick Tiles

Whether you are renting and unable to make permanent changes to your house, or you own and a full remodel just isn’t in the budget right now, peel & stick tiles are an affordable, versatile way to make a room feel updated and new. These tiles only require a cutting mat, a ruler, and an X-Acto knife and are easy to remove without causing any damage. Many of the peel & stick tile company have easy-to-follow instructional videos which show you how to measure, cut, peel, and stick your new tile. Here are 3 ways you can incorporate this temporary tile into your home!

1. Upgrade your backsplash.

Whether it is your kitchen or bathroom, old backsplash can prevent you from fulfilling your styling vision. It can also be a real eyesore depending on how old it is.  These peel & stick tiles can give those rooms a complete makeover with ease. Just cut the tile to fit around your outlets and press to stick!

2. Customize your furniture.

If you have been thinking about replacing your plain furniture, consider this first. Adding the tiles to fill in cabinet panels or topping a coffee table can add a chic, expensive feel to your furniture. Think small too; you can add tiles around a cheap picture frame to make it look like it is from a boutique!

3. Make your fireplace pop.

Older fireplaces are often surrounded by plain walls or outdated tiles. Make your fireplace the focal point for all the right reasons by sticking the tiles on painted or previously tiled surfaces, making sure to avoid any areas that would come in contact with the actual fire.

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Nov. 4, 2019

Fall Maintenance Check List

Halloween is quickly approaching and depending on where you live, there is a good chance fall weather is coming right along with it. Before the season is in full swing, get a head start on your seasonal maintenance. By preparing for fall weather, you can address any issues that may get worse with colder temperatures or just keep your home in the best condition to make sure your property is in top shape no matter the season. Here is a great reference checklist to make sure you’re doing the basics to get your home ready for fall!

1. Rake it up.

Everyone loves the changing leaves, except your grass. Leaving fallen leaves in your yard can kill you grass and prevent growth in the spring. Make sure you keep those leaves raked up!

2. Check your gutters.

Those same leaves that can kill your grass can also clog your gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to plenty of other issues, so be sure to periodically check your gutters to prevent buildup.

3. Don’t forget your roof.

You don’t want fall to pass and winter to arrive only to find out you’re missing a few shingles. While you’re checking your gutters, make sure to check on your roof too.

4. Store summer decor.

If you are set to get cold temperatures this fall, take the time to pack away your summer items. If your patio furniture isn’t equipped for a surprise snow storm, you’ll be glad you took the time to store it away now.

5. Prevent frozen pipes.

No one wants frozen, bursting pipes. Remember to shut off water to your exterior faucets before the weather hits freezing temperatures.

6. Venting is healthy.

As the temperatures drop, static electricity increases.  If you have lint build up in your dryer, this static electricity makes it easier to ignite.

7. Do your own inspection.

Take a walk around the interior and exterior of your home and try to look at it with fresh eyes. Keep an eye out for any damage to walls, floors, or cement outdoors. Be sure to fill any cracks or fix loose gravel that could cause a fall when colder weather is added to the mix.

8. Check your insurance.

Is your home insurance up to date? Make sure your insurance will stand up in a storm and that you will be covered no matter what fall will bring.

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Nov. 4, 2019

Refresh Your Tile Grout

Bathroom tile grout can become quite the headache. Being a high traffic area, it can feel impossible to keep sparkling clean in these areas, especially in mold-prone spots near toilets and tubs. If your grout is looking less-than-fabulous, you can try this quick trick and save yourself a renovation.

The Items You Need:
Vinegar + water solution (or your preferred floor cleaner)
Scrub brush
Paper towels
Small craft paintbrush
Grout renewer product (sold in hardware or home improvement stores)

STEPS

1. Using the vinegar and water solution, clean your floors with your scrub brush. Be as thorough as possible. Once the floors are as clean as you can get them, give them time to dry. The grout renewer works best on clean, dry floors.

2. Using your paintbrush, brush the renewer onto the grout. Avoid getting any of the renewer on the tile, and be sure to wipe it off if you have any accidents. Work from the back of the room to the doorway so you don’t have to worry about smudging any of the renewer when you head back out of the room.

3. Once all the grout lines have been painted, avoid walking on the tile for 24 hours and let it fully dry for 72 hours. Now your bathroom tile should look fresh and clean! A quick fix all for under $20.

Posted in Homeowner Tips