You’re always on the lookout for smart ideas and hacks to manage your home (and save money!) — whether that means listening to the wisdom of your parents who’ve owned a home longer than you’ve been alive, or scouring every corner of the internet for savvy tips.
Myth #1: Lemons Are Great for Cleaning Garbage Disposals
What it could cost you:A plumber’s visit (and maybe a new disposal)
Proceed with caution when it comes to this well-circulated DIY fix. Citric acid is a natural deodorizer, but plumbing experts say it can corrode the metal in your disposal. That tough lemon peel can also damage the grinding components and clog your pipes. Next thing you know you’re Googling reviews for plumbers. The better way: Turn on the disposal and, while running cold water, dump in two or more trays of ice cubes. Despite the clamor, this will safely dislodge buildup on the walls and the impellers, which grind up the food. Use vinegar to deodorize.
Myth #2: Bleach Will Banish Mold
What it could cost you:A threat to your health, plus hundreds of $ (even thousands)
Although bleach can kill mold on non-porous surfaces, it isn’t effective on absorbent or porous materials — you know, the places it loves to lurk, like grout, caulk, drywall, insulation, and carpet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, it just bleaches it so you can’t see it. And diluted bleach can feed future mold growth (yikes!) because only the water will be absorbed, which mold just loves.
The better way: Use a commercial anti-fungal product to take out mold at its roots. And only tackle mold removal yourself if the area is less than 10 square feet and you use protective gear, such as a respirator and chemical-resistant gloves. Otherwise, call in a mold remediation specialist who’ll know how to remove it without spreading it’s yucky (and potentially harmful) spores.
Myth #3: Change Your HVAC Filter Every Month
What it could cost you:Around $100 a year
Although the air filter should be changed regularly to keep your home’s HVAC system operating efficiently, this piece of advice is more of a convenient general rule that could cause you to throw away perfectly good filters (and money!).“The harsh truth is that it’s easier to say, ‘Do it every month’ and know that means people might do it every three or four months,” says homeowner advocate Tina Gleisner of Home Tips for Women. The better way: The Department of Energy recommends checking, but not necessarily changing, your air filter every month. Change it if it looks dirty, replacing it at least once every three months.
Myth #4: Home Improvement is Always a Good Investment
What it could cost you:Thousands of dollars in disappointment
Dreaming of diving into your own pool or adding a second bath to put an end to those morning squabbles? That’s the beauty of owning your own home, you can renovate to make all your dreams come true. And you’ll get money back on most any improvement you do, but don’t expect it for all improvements. FYI: A new bath returns 52% of its cost. The better way: First off, your own happiness matters, so by all means, follow your remodeling bliss if you’re financially able. But if payback is important, do some research and talk to a REALTOR® who knows what buyers are seeking in your market. The Remodeling Impact Report from The National Association of REALTORS® (the sponsor of HouseLogic) is a fantastic resource to get the scoop on what projects will boost your equity the most. For example, it points out that small projects such as an insulation upgrade, refinishing floors, and even seeding your lawn will recoup almost all, and in some cases more than, your original investment.
Myth #5: Put Dryer Sheets in Air Vents for a Sweet Smell
What it could cost you:Higher energy bills and a potential fire hazard
Social media PSA: Thousands of pins and shares do not mean a remedy is smart or safe. If you follow this popular hack, you’ll block the flow of air in your vents, making your HVAC system work harder and increasing your energy costs. The blockage even can pose a fire risk when the furnace is pumping out hot air. The better way: If fragrant air is what you’re after, there are no shortage of options available that won’t burn your house down. Give each room — or each day — a signature scent with all-natural scented candles, sprays, oils, and aromatherapy devices. If you’re seeking a scent to mask an offensive odor, however, it’s important to find and remove the source. Some stinky suspects — like mold, mildew, sewage, and gas leaks — can carry health risks.
AMY HOWELL HIRT--has written about home design for 13 years. Her work has been published by outlets including “The Home Depot,” “USA Today,” and Yahoo! Homes. She previously served as home and garden writer and columnist for “The Cincinnati Enquirer.”
Anyone Can Sell a House
People tell me they can sell their home without the help of a real estate agent. Sometimes for a fee I put a home on the MLS for a seller. They always end up asking for more help. Most home owners can show their home and some like to hold open houses. Yet most home owners struggle to complete the transaction.
What goes in the purchase agreement? Who pays the closing costs? Who pays for the inspection? Do I need to pull permits for the repairs that the buyers want? does the inspection work? Who is responsible for an appraisal? Does the buyer have to buy the home if it appraises for less than the asking price? If we accept an inspection contingent offer, can we sell the house to someone else if a higher offer comes in?
Do sellers pay the property taxes or do the buyers? Who pays the state deed tax? Are water tests required?
What can go wrong between the time we accepts a buyers offer and the closing? Who sets up the closing? What is a closing? Who pays the closer?
Should I sell my appliances with my home? What is included in the sale and what is not?
There are many more questions. No two homes are quite the same and neither are the buyers or the sellers and the answers to some of the questions above depends upon how the purchase agreement is written. Buyers and sellers can agree to all sorts of things. There are laws that govern real estate sales and there are business practices too.
Even with all of the technology we have selling a home isn’t as easy as homeowners sometimes think it is. I know a sales person who decided to sell a home. It all went just fine and it closed but I’ll never understand why that home owner did all that work and ended up getting 30K less for the home just to avoid paying 16K in commissions. Yet it is true anyone can sell a house.
We make it look super easy but there is more to it than a for sale sign and an MLS listing. None of it is rocket science but it helps to have experience.
Written by: Teresa Boardman, Realtor®, MN, Licensed Broker Boardman Realty
Position Your Home to Sell !
Picture Quality is a Must!
How Position your home to sell!!
Buyers make their first impression of your home before they've even stepped in the front door. The internet plays such a large part of the house hunting process, it is important for the pictures your agent provides of your home show at it at its best.
Starting with curb appeal, pictures should give the buyers of what it would feel like to be standing in front of your home. Curb appeal is as important in the pictures as it is for the showing of your home. Interior pictures should show the best highlights of your home's features and give buyers a reason to want to see more.
Put a Dent in your Energy Bills!
5 Things that cut energy costs
Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it cost until a month later.— Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation
Caulk and seal air leaks. Buy a few cans of "Great Stuff" and knock yourself out over a weekend to seal around:
Savings of up to $227 a year
Seal ductwork and tune-up your HVAC. Leaky ducts are a common energy-waster. Savings up to $412 a year.
Get a programmable thermostat and program it for energy savings. Savings up to $180 a year
Replace your light bulbs with LED bulbs. Savings up to $75 a year
Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Most water heaters are programed to factory settings of 140 degrees when purchased; change the setting to 120 degrees. Wrap your water heater and the hot water pipes with insulating material to save on heat loss. Savings up to $12-$30 a year
Saving Money by Choosing the Right Lightbulbs
Are the Lightbulbs you're using costing you money?
Incandescent light bulbs may be easy on your everyday household budget, but they’re tough on your energy bill. To save money in start replacing them now with LEDs. To help with initial costs, just replace the old bulbs as they die out. A typical LED bulb can recuperate its cost in a little over a year (at least according to manufacturers). Since LEDs can last a decade or more, you won’t have to buy bulbs as often, and your energy costs will be lower!
4 Things Agents Consider When Setting Listing Prices
4 Things Agents Consider When Setting Listing Prices
There’s no online calculator for setting the perfect listing price for your home. It takes experience, market savvy, and even a bit of psychology. A strong listing agent can help you set the right, most competitive price for your home. Here are a few things they might look at:
1. The competition
Your agent will look at the prices of similar homes in your area that either are currently listed or sold during the past few months. They’ll take into account how many days the properties were on the market, and how the listing prices for those homes differed from the final sale prices.
What’s affecting the market in your neighborhood, and your region? Your agent will consider national factors that shape the real estate market, such as possible rising interest rates, as well as local factors, like whether the average home price in your neighborhood has been rising or falling. They’ll also think about things such as new companies moving to the area in the near future, or plans for improving local amenities, like parks and shopping districts. All can increase the value of your home to a buyer.
Although a home the same size and age recently sold for a high price, your own place might not fetch the exact same fortune if, say, junky cars continue to proliferate in your neighbor’s driveway. On the flipside, if the grass is in fact greener on the other side of the fence, your home’s value may be higher due to your neighbors’ curb appeal.
The Goldilocks price
Listing your home at a price that’s “just right” from the start is critical to selling it quickly, for the best price. Overpricing your home, and then dropping the price a few times while it sits on the market, could lead to a lower final sales price than if the home was priced appropriately from the beginning. And, of course, setting a price that’s too low leaves money on the table.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 4.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.27 million in May, and are 12.4 percent above May 2014. The median price in the Midwest was $181,900, up 9.4 percent from a year ago.
8 Tips To Finding Your New Home
8 Tips for Finding Your New Home
By: G. M. Filisko Published: February 10, 2010
A solid game plan can help you narrow your home buying search to find the best home for you.
House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you'll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart home buying process.
House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you'll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart homebuying process.
1. Know thyself
Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home? A ranch or a multistory home? If you're leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors?
2. Research before you look
List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods you'd like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime, and price. Then hop onto REALTOR.com (http://REALTOR.com) to get a feel for the homes available in your price range in your favorite neighborhoods. Use the results to prioritize your wants and needs so you can add in and weed out properties from the inventory you'd like to view.
3. Get your finances in order
Generally, lenders say you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget so you know how much you're comfortable spending each month on housing. Don't wait until you've found a home and made an offer to investigate financing.
Gather your financial records and meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter spelling out how much you're eligible to borrow. The lender won't necessarily consider the extra fees you'll pay when you purchase or your plans to begin a family or purchase a new car, so shop in a price range you're comfortable with. Also, presenting an offer contingent on financing will make your bid less attractive to sellers.
4. Set a moving timeline
Do you have blemishes on your credit that will take time to clear up? If you already own, have you sold your current home? If not, you'll need to factor in the time needed to sell. If you rent, when is your lease up? Do you expect interest rates to jump anytime soon? All these factors will affect your buying, closing, and moving timelines.
5. Think long term
Your future plans may dictate the type of home you'll buy. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in the home for five to 10 years? With a starter, you may need to adjust your expectations. If you plan to nest, be sure your priority list helps you identify a home you'll still love years from now.
6. Work with a REALTOR?
Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes you're interested in. Because home buying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agent's style meshes with your personality.
Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers' reps work only for you even though they're typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS? Which means they're members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS? NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.
7. Be realistic
It's OK to be picky about the home and neighborhood you want, but don't be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet and secluded.
On the flip side, don't be so swayed by a "wow" feature that you forget about other issues -- like noise levels -- that can have a big impact on your quality of life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering there's no such thing as the perfect home.
8. Limit the opinions you solicit
It's natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria you've identified as important.
Here are 7 house pick-me-ups that take about as much time as brewing a pot of coffee and fit your schedule whenever you have a few extra minutes.
Caught between your lack of time and the urge to give your home some spit and polish? Never fear. These ideas will add panache in no time at all.
Switch the plates.Upgrade your drab, plastic switch plates with snazzy covers that match or accent your décor. Even the most expensive brass switch plates cost less than $20 each. Or, spend a buck for a plastic plate and decorate it yourself. Use craft paint, or cover the plate with decorative paper. You also can switch outlet covers, but don’t get too fancy. Outlet covers should blend with the wall.
2. Touch-up boo-boos. A bit of new paint gives any room a fresh face, which is why you should keep extra color-matched paint after you remodel. Touch up banged-up baseboards, door and window trim, and wall marks that won’t wash away. Even spot painting requires care; use a drop cloth to protect other surfaces.
3. Change out drawer and door hardware. Upgrade your kitchen or bathroom by installing new pulls and knobs. Be sure to measure drawer pulls so you won’t have to drill new holes. Check out these cute and economical ($4.95 for 8) zoo dresser drawer knobs on Esty. Home improvement centers have a large selection of inexpensive pulls and knobs.
4. Update your mailbox. Bump up curb appeal by spray-painting your old mailbox. You can freshen the same color, or go wild with bright hues. Don’t forget to scrub off dirt and rust before painting with rust-proof paint ($6 to $12 for a 10-ounce can; lots of decorative textures and colors).
5. Play the numbers game. Decorative house numbers and plates give your home a custom and classy look. Some numbers are quick peel-and-stick affairs; others you’ll have to screw in. They’re made of wood, plastic, brass, stainless steel, and other materials; $6 to $30 each.
6. Embellish your throne. A new toilet seat gives you a regal bearing. Plastic and enameled seats ($12 to $25) in a rainbow of colors add a dash of panache; a solid wood mahogany or walnut seat ($45-$60) makes an executive statement; cushioned seats ($15 to $20) won’t make a lasting impression — and that’s a good thing.
7. Declutter. You’ll be amazed how a 15-minute daily declutter can make a room look like new. First, get rid of stuff from your fridge door: that large, blank canvas will immediately brighten your kitchen. Corral mail and papers in decorative boxes with tops that can close and hide the mess. Organize school supplies in caddies. Every day, tame a new spot.
If You Were Selling Today, Would You Have The Home Buyer Want?
If You Were Selling Today, Would You Have the Home That Buyers Want?
By: Dona DeZube Published: November 8, 2013
Knowing what appeals to today’s homebuyers, and considering those trends when you remodel, can pay off years from now when you sell your home.
Two new surveys about what homebuyers want have me feeling pretty smug about my own home choices. Maybe you'll feel the same.
Privacy from neighbors remains at the top of the most-wanted list (important to 86% of buyers), according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® "2013 Community Preference Survey." Privacy is no doubt the best feature of my mid-century ranch home, since I can only see one neighbor’s house and its a couple hundred feet down my driveway.
It may not be practical to move your neighbors farther away (although I’m sure many people wish they had that superpower), but you can increase your home’s privacy (and therefore its resale value) by planting a living privacy screen of trees and shrubs or by physically screening off your patio.
Related: Trees Contribute to Property Value, Energy Savings, and More
3 More Takeaways for the Next Time You Remodel
More and more generations are living together. Another NAR survey, the "2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers," found 14% of buyers purchased a home suited to a multigenerational household due to children over the age of 18 moving back into the house, cost savings, and the health and caretaking of aging parents.
I did that back when my parents were still alive, and it worked out great for everyone. I didn’t have time to let my infant daughter nap on my shoulder all afternoon, but my mom did. She couldn’t drive to church meetings at night, but I could take her. And neither of us liked cleaning the gutters, but my husband didn’t mind that chore.
Even if you’d rather live in a cardboard box than with your mother, you might want to consider the multigenerational living trend when you’re remodeling. For instance, opting for a full bath when finishing the basement could offer more convenience for you now and boost your home’s resale value by making it more appealing to a multigenerational family.
On average, homeowners live in their home for nine years. That’s up from six years in 2007. Since you’ll be in your home for a long time, it makes sense to remodel to suit your taste but also with long-lasting marketability in mind. After all, you don’t want to have to redo stuff. For instance, you can go for trend-defying kitchen features, like white overtones and Shaker-style cabinets, which work with a variety of styles.
I feel compelled to caution against going so far out of the norm for your neighborhood that it’ll turn off potential buyers even nine years from now. (It never hurts to get your REALTOR®’s opinion on your remodeling plans.)
Related: Home Upgrades with the Lowest ROI
Homebuyers love energy efficiency. Heating and cooling costs were "somewhat" or "very important" to a whopping 85% of buyers. If your home could use an energy-efficiency upgrade, go with projects that have a solid return on investment, like sealing your air leaks and adding attic insulation. You’ll save money on your utility bills now and when you’re ready to sell; your home will appeal to buyers looking for efficiency.
By the way, to take back your energy bills, you need to do at least four things. One to two fixes won’t cut it, thanks to rising energy costs.
About two-thirds of survey respondents also thought energy-efficient appliances and energy-efficient lighting were important. Tuck away your manuals and energy-efficiency information when you buy new appliances and lighting. When you’re ready to sell you can pull those out and display them where buyers will see them.