Whether it’s to help safeguard the environment from chemicals or to protect family members from allergens, homemade cleaning solutions offer an array of benefits for both your home and your loved ones.
For example, the experts at American Home Shield suggest trying one of the following seven DIY natural cleaners for your hardwood floor when more than a little damp mopping is in order. But first, make sure you know what kind of floor you have and how it’s finished. For instance, water is not advised for waxed floors and should be used sparingly on all types of finishes.
1. Water and Vinegar. A popular cleansing agent in many areas of your home, vinegar can also help cut through the grime on your wood floor. Mix it with warm water and your good to go. Mix approximately ½ cup of white vinegar per one gallon of water. Use a sponge mop, and dry with a cloth or towel as you go.
2. Water, Vinegar, and Essential Oils. Add a few drops of your favorite scent to give your home an extra boost of fragrance.
3. Vinegar and Vegetable Oil. When water is not appropriate for your finish, mix equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. Apply with a soft cloth mop and watch the shine come through.
4. Plant-based Liquid Soap, Vinegar and Water. If you’re faced with an especially dirty floor, you may need to use some soap. Add â…› cup of plant-based liquid soap and â…› cup vinegar to one gallon of water.
5. Tea Bags. The tannic acid in tea creates a beautiful shine for hardwood floors. Let two tea bags steep in water then rub your floors with a cloth to amp up the luster.
6. Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Hot Water. This combination of kitchen ingredients will also deliver a wonderful shine to your wood floor. Add ¾ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of lemon juice to one gallon of hot water, and you’re ready to go.
7. Dish Detergent, Water and Vinegar. For laminate floors, this combination works well when used with a microfiber mop or sponge. Just combine three parts water to one part vinegar with a squirt of dish detergent in a spray bottle, then use sparingly. You don’t want the floor to get too wet. To keep your wood floors gleaming between cleanings, sweep or vacuum regularly, or use a dust mop or microfiber pad to trap dust and dirt.
Whether it’s an apartment or a tiny home, small-space living can have so many advantages, both in terms of cost and lifestyle. But when it comes time to have a few guests over, finding a place to put everyone can indeed be a challenge. Here are a few clever strategies for tucking away seating options that can be accessed when the need arises.
Invest in an all-purpose bench. Place a bench up against a wall or window and use it to display plants, stacks of books or dishes. When company arrives, stash said items on a windowsill or in a closet and pull the bench out for extra seating.
Stow hassocks in your entertainment center. Buy a shelving unit for your television that includes room to house two small hassocks right underneath the TV. Pop these out whenever you need two extra seats in your living area.
Tuck stools underneath counter space. Have a counter in your kitchen? Buy backless stools that slide all the way underneath the counter, so that they are out of the way and create more space when not in use. Put them into action wherever you may need when guests pop by.
Make chairs multifunctional. Put small accent chairs to work in other rooms, such as to stack towels upon in the bathroom, or as a plant stand in the bedroom. They can resume their traditional role as a chair if and when the need arises.
Decorate with large pillows. Adorn your bed or sofa with a giant pillow or two that can serve as floor-cushion seating for casual soirees. Let’s face it – who doesn’t like to cozy up to the coffee table close to the snacks?!
Even if you have no immediate plans for leaving your home, it’s a good idea to approach renovations with resale value in mind. Upgrades that are likely to appeal to future buyers protect your investment while also improving your enjoyment of the home.
One key to a successful renovation is figuring out how to personalize the space without making it so customized that it’s not attractive to other potential owners. For example, eliminating a bedroom to create a giant walk-in closet may help achieve your dreams, but losing that bedroom can be a major hit to your home’s value.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on aesthetics when it comes to integrating more of your personal tastes, because these can be easily changed with a coat of paint or minor work. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make other, more significant changes to enhance your home.
These renovation ideas – which include both cosmetic touch-ups and more labor-intensive suggestions – can help boost your home’s value.
Open space. Older homes were often designed with a boxy, formal layout that is less conducive to most modern families’ needs. Today’s open floor plans offer functionality for everything from keeping an eye on the kids while making dinner to entertaining guests. This type of floor plan can also make small rooms feel larger and invite more light into darker parts of the house.
The most cost-effective way to create an open space is to remove non-load-bearing walls (load-bearing walls help support the roof; while they can be removed there’s typically quite a bit more time, labor and expense involved). Removing a wall may not be that complicated unless you encounter plumbing or HVAC ductwork that needs to be relocated. You’ll likely have some electrical outlets to move, and both the floor and ceiling will need attention to remove lingering signs of the former wall.
Color change. Although paint is one of the easiest ways to personalize your home, it’s also one of the least expensive, simplest ways to improve its value and appearance. A fresh coat of paint, inside or out, can create an appealing illusion of newness no matter the age of your home. For maximum resale value, stick to neutral tones so future buyers can focus on envisioning the place as their own, without the distraction of your own vibrant choices. If you don’t like the thought of boring beige, consider adding accent walls for pops of color that can be easily changed down the road.
Climate comfort. Not every aspect of home improvement is visible at first glance like a fresh coat of paint; some value-boosting upgrades are more behind the scenes. One example is climate management. If you renovate a space that needs better climate control, or if you add a new room where extending the existing ductwork is impractical, a split-ductless HVAC system may be the perfect solution. The ductless design saves HVAC contractors time during installation, therefore saving homeowners money.
Adjustable lighting. A room’s ambiance can be completely transformed with lighting. For multi-purpose rooms, an option like dimmer switches lets you customize the lighting to fit the use, which can vary throughout the day.
A well-lit living room is essential for a large gathering or a small group gathered for game night. That same space can be equally inviting for an intimate conversation or a casual movie night with the lights turned down low. One of the best parts is minimal experience is needed to swap out standard switches for the more versatile dimmers. Plus, in today’s technology-driven world, there’s an app for seemingly everything, including lighting. Homeowners can control the ambiance from their phones by installing smart light bulbs and lighting strips.
Grunge-free garage. Even though a garage’s functionality is the top concern for most buyers, a dingy, unkempt space can be a real turn-off. One way to instantly brighten and refresh the space is an epoxy coating on the floor. Applying the coating is relatively easy and once dry it helps prevent unsightly stains and damage in the future. Combine that with a thorough sweeping, wiping down walls and other surfaces, and organizing the clutter to create a more inviting space you can utilize to the fullest.
Understated elegance. Features like crown molding and other wood accents such as chair rails are elegant upgrades that can elevate a home’s value with a relatively modest investment. An office or dining room is the perfect place to introduce these design elements to add a bit of formality to the space. You can also find crown molding in spaces like the living room, with the molding coordinating with built-in shelving flanking a fireplace. While getting the angles and fit just right is hardly a beginner’s endeavor, it’s a project that can pay dividends in the long run.
Better bathrooms. Many homeowners approach a bathroom upgrade with big projects in mind, like swapping out the vanity, replacing the tub or installing tile flooring. However, it’s possible to make a noticeable impact with much smaller changes. Simply updating bathroom fixtures and fittings such as shower heads, faucets, towel racks and lighting can transform the space with minimal effort and far less work and expense than a large-scale renovation.
The last thing in the world you would ever want is to spend a bunch of time searching for a home, finding that perfect place and then not being approved for your mortgage. There are also many common mistakes homebuyers make that could make the process much more painful than it has to be.
We’re writing this article because we know how stressful it can be to buy a house. In order to make your process easier, we are going to cover the 9 things you shouldn’t do when buying a home.
1) Don’t overestimate your budget.
Ever heard the expression “House poor“? Many homebuyers overestimate what they can actually afford and end up with very little wiggle room financially. Before jumping into buying, make sure you have a realistic idea of the yearly costs involved with owning a home.
Remember, there is your mortgage, property taxes, utilities, insurance and repairs. All of this before you even think about making upgrades. Factor in all the costs and leave yourself some room.
2) Don’t let your emotions run wild.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions of your life. It’s normal to be excited and fall in love with a home. However, try to keep a level head. Falling in love with a home can cloud your judgement or end in disappointment. This can happen if unforeseen issues are exposed in the inspection or if someone puts in an offer before you.
If you don’t find a home… don’t get discouraged. Home searching can be a lengthy process. It will be worth it when you find the winner.
3) Don’t talk to sellers about plans for the house.
As much as you are excited to get in and put your personal touch on the home, it’s best to keep this to yourself. Sometimes home buyers meet and get to know the home owners. This is fine, but remember that the current owner will have an emotional attachment to the property.
It’s best not to make them feel like you’re going to come in and completely change the place. If you make conversation with the owners, just keep the conversation light.
4) Don’t make any large purchases.
When applying for a mortgage, every financial transaction plays a part. It is recommended that you do not make any large purchases like furniture or a car prior to applying. This is because banks want to see that you have a smooth financial history.
5) Don’t withdraw or deposit a lot of cash.
Going further with your financial history, cash withdraws and deposits also play a part in your mortgage approval rate. Large quantities of cash going in or out of your accounts signals a warning sign that you do not have stability. Avoid any sporadic withdraws or deposits of large sums of cash.
6) Don’t apply for more credit.
The amount you are approved for on your mortgage comes down to your capital. How much money do you have at your disposal? Applying for extra credit increases your debt. This extra debt decreases the amount you will be approved for on a mortgage.
7) Don’t co-sign a loan.
While a loan may not technically be yours – it will still equally count towards your overall debt. Co-signing a loan can have an impact on not only the amount of your mortgage, but approval rate in general. Avoid co-signing any loans until you have purchased your home.
8) Don’t finance a car or furniture.
As financing is again a loan, it is therefore debt. Stay away from financing a car or furniture for the above mortgage approval reasons.
9) Don’t switch or leave your job.
Financial stability is one of the most important factors considered when a bank is approving your mortgage. The key to financial stability is having a dependable income. If you switch or leave your job, often or before applying for a mortgage, this may signal red flags.
If you are thinking about a move, hang tight with your job until after your mortgage is approved.
There are many important things to consider when purchasing a home. It is one of the biggest decisions of your life.
In order to ensure that you get the house you want, when you want it, you need to understand and follow those above tips. Doing so will increase your chances of finding that perfect home and getting it. Remember that financials are very important when it comes time to apply for a mortgage. Make that your priority.
Also keep in mind the emotional aspects of purchasing a home and try to stay cool. It can be a draining process, but it will be worth it when you get the keys to the castle!
Are you looking for a home in the (INSERT COMMUNITY) area? Give me a call. I’d love to help you find a home (and make sure you make none of the above mistakes in the process!)
Choosing whether to rent or own a home is not an easy decision. It requires you to carefully examine the factors and costs associated with each option. Which is better? That depends.
Your unique economic situation, lifestyle and goals play the largest part in deciding what is better for you. It’s important to go into your calculations with open eyes. As much as you want a home, you may not be able to afford it. Or it may not be the right decision for the way you like to live.
Factors To Consider When Buying/Renting a Home
The following four points are the largest factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of home ownership vs. rental.
1) What are the total costs?
Many people look at the economics of home-ownership as a mortgage payment only. In reality there are insurance, repairs, property tax, homeowners association dues etc. that all have to be factored in to your monthly costs. Check out this calculator from the New York Times to see more.
Use a calculator and compare to see if:
- The monthly cost as a homeowner is less than renting.
- You can afford the monthly cost (if it works out more than renting in your area)
- Saving a 10-20% down-payment is feasible for you.
If owning a home definitely the way to go for you, you need to be able to answer the above questions definitively.
2) What is important to you?
Are you more interested in building for the future, or reducing your financial risk until you can figure out a plan? You may want to own if you are thinking about starting a family. But as someone who is single, you may enjoy your freedom and having less financial debt. (Even if it is building your net worth in the long run)
Undoubtedly, buying a house only makes sense if you plan to set up roots. If you plan to move within (or every) 5 years, your transaction costs will likely bring the equity you build in your house to zero. Thus diminishing your upside while carrying all of the liabilities that come along with home ownership. Owning a home is a smart decision if you plan to stay for 10 years or more.
3) What is your preferred lifestyle?
Do you want to build a career in a specific city or travel around? Do you have long-term goals in mind? It’s okay if you don’t. The most important part is being aware of where you are at. You may want to get some international work experience or try your luck in another part of the country. Or not.
Really think about what you want. You could lose some serious money if you buy a house and sell within a few years because you decide it isn’t for you.
4) What are the opportunity costs?
Think about the pros and cons of home-ownership. On one hand, you will always have a home base. On the other, you have a property that ties you down to a geographical location. Can you make more money in another city? With a home, you can’t move to pursue those opportunities.
If rent is equal to monthly payments as an owner, think about the opportunity costs of having all of your money tied up in the house. For example, some investors may rent and opt to invest their money in the stock-market or other investments in their portfolio. Can you make higher percentage returns yearly with the money you would be using for a down payment?
Rent vs Buying
The above were things you will want to consider. If you need to be realistic to make the right decision about renting vs owning a home. The below two situations may help if you aren’t able to come to a conclusion.
When is Renting a Home Better?
Despite popular belief, owning a home is not always the best decision. Let’s not be black and white. It depends on your particular situation.
You may want to rent if:
- You want to travel and set-up shop in different places every few years.
- You do not have the job or financial security to (realistically) guarantee payments for years to come.
- You have demonstrated the ability to make better financial returns through other investments.
There are other factors. However, this is a good starting point to help you determine your argument for renting versus owning a home. The benefit of renting is not being tied down to a geographic location and being able to leave when your lease runs up.
When is Owning a Home Better?
Owning a home is the long-term game. You need to have your goals in mind and understand if you can afford it.
You may want own if:
- You are okay with staying in one place for 10 years or more.
- You have the financial stability to afford the home (and float payments if you lose your job)
- You want to leverage your home as an investment property down the line (through rental)
Owning a home gives you an anchor. It helps you stay grounded by having a home base. At the same time, you can increase your upward potential by leveraging the home as an investment property.
Choosing to rent or own your home is a big decision. It depends on your individual situation and vision for the future. In short, owning is traditionally the better long-term strategy. However, that’s not to say that you can’t do as good or better with the right investment portfolio.
Before jumping into anything, analyze yourself. Think hard about where you are and what you want for the future. Speak to a realtor and see if they have any advice for your individual situation.
If you are looking at purchasing property in the area, give me a call. I’d love to discuss your options and see if buying is the right path for you.
When it comes to real estate, it’s all about location. But when it comes to staging a home to sell the highest possible price, the importance of location applies to more than just the street.
The placement of your furniture and accessories can make or break a room and potentially even a sale.
Why it matter?
The look and feel of a space is created by the way the various items in that room are positioned. If you put them in the wrong place you can instantly diminish the overall appearance of the area, regardless of whether the items individually are stylish and on-trend.
Good placement, however, will have the opposite effect, to the point where even less attractive furniture located correctly around the room can produce amazing results.