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Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosure

There are some controversial facts out there about buying a foreclosure home. There are definitely pros and cons about buying one, but in the end it’s for you to decide if it’s the best choice for you.

Pros

  • Price: Banks usually don’t want to have to “hold” foreclosures for too long because of costs on their end. This means that the asking price will most likely be much smaller than normal.
  • Variety: There is a wide range of types of foreclosed houses, and with varying price points. It probably isn’t too hard to find one that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Fixer-Upper: You can buy a cheaper, less cared for foreclosure, spend some money to fix it up, and increase its value for the future. There are actual people who spend their lives “flipping” houses, doing just this.
  • Helping the Area: If you buy one of these houses and improve it, you are doing something for the area by increasing the value of the home and the ones around it.

Cons

  • Competing Buyers: Since they’re as cheap as they are, foreclosures usually get bout quickly. Act quickly, and be ready to bid with other people who want it. 
  • Repairs: Time, effort, and money will be spent to fix most foreclosures. If the house has been vacant for a bit, then all of these might be needed even more.
  • Secret Costs: If there’s a lien on the property or something of the sort, then you might have to pay off the past owner’s debts. If they haven’t even left yet, you may end up paying for eviction fees. 
  • Neighborhood: Areas with a higher concentration of foreclosures can be hard to appreciate in value. Lots of foreclosures can weigh market values down in one area. Also, these same areas can have higher crime rates, so do some research beforehand.
  • Emotionally Draining: More paperwork, time, and energy can be spent to sort out foreclosure proceedings. Make sure you’re prepared for this.
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Ideas to Make a Small Bathroom Feel Bigger

A small bathroom can seem difficult to work with when you and your partner are fighting over the sink in the morning. However, there are ways to make your small bathroom work for you, and seem bigger.

  • Oval Sink in a Vanity: Gives you more counter space.
  • Long Sink: If you want two sinks but don’t have room for both in your small bathroom, then install one long sink vanity. This lets you compromise between the two by having more counter space than you originally would have.
  • Space-Saving Washstand: There a multitude of varieties that don’t take up as much room as boxy ones, including versions with curved edge/s, and ones with open shelving at the base. Varieties with towel bars also let you save wall space that you would have used for hanging up towels
  • Table: If you have one in your small bathroom, then choose one that is more “leggy” than boxy to save space.
  • Mirrors: They can really create the illusion of more space. Hang one on a wall over the tub to create the illusion of having a bigger bathroom. Oval mirrors are a good choice as well because they’re elegant, and allow more visual continuity.
  • Towel Racks: Hanging your towel racks above the tub will save valuable wall space elsewhere, and will look luxurious and unique.
  • Shelves: If you have a big tub, you can save some space by putting shelves in the wall behind it.
  • Shower: If you can, create a better flow of natural light and space by having glass shower doors instead of shower curtains. However, if you do need a shower curtain, pick one that is airy and light. Also, allow your tile floor (if you have it) to continue into the shower to create visual continuity. 
  • Illusion of Space: If you have a pattern somewhere in your bathroom, then don’t pair it with more pattern/s. For instance, if you have intricate tile floors, then don’t have a busy shower curtain or rug. Just pick an accent color that will accentuate, but not overwhelm.
  • Storage: Beef up your small bathroom by choosing fixtures and furniture with storage included. If you don’t have enough vanity space, build a ledge above your sink to store your essentials.
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How to Sell Your Home Quickly

Although the housing market does have a say on the speed in which your house will sell, there are other definite ways you can help sell your home quickly.

  • Price it right: Many agents say that you should price the home slightly under value price, as to stimulate multiple buyers to start bidding on it. This in turn will drive the price back up to where it “should” be or higher. If you overprice you run the risk of no one putting an offer in, therefore keeping the home on the market for a while. Sell it quickly by staying realistic about the price.
  • Offer to finance: Since interest rates are going up, (up .25% as of December, and will continue to rise) this will make homes less affordable for some buyers. If you offer to finance the sale for your buyers, you can set up a monthly payment system with a lower interest rate than the bank’s.
  • Make your house look amazing: Put yourself in buyers’ shoes; would you like to see a house that’s been looked after really well? So would they. The curb appeal is the first thing seen by anyone. Water your plants, mow the yard, weed the flowerbeds, etc. Next, deep-clean your house before you put it on the market so that it looks great from Day 1. De-clutter it, including direct walkways in the house. De-personalize it so that buyers can picture themselves living there. Give each room a purpose if it doesn’t have one already; extra bedroom? Now it’s an office/library. Next, update or fix anything that’s needed, such as touching up paint.
  • Allow your real estate agent to host open houses: Seeing pictures of something is much different then seeing it in person. When potential buyers are allowed to fully get a grasp on the home and see it with their own eyes, it becomes much more “real” to them, and an actual option of being a place they could live.
  • Time: Try and plan to sell according to the seasons best known for houses selling quickly- spring and summer.
  • Highlight your home’s best features: Whether this means visually, the way you talk about it, or both. Also, if there are some unique features that would be popular or a “plus” to buyers, be sure and make those known as well. People generally respond with more urgency when they’re presented with an offer that they feel might not come around again.

 

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Are You Seriously Ready to Buy a Home?

It’s a known fact that the process of buying a home can be stressful, confusing, and difficult in general. However, there are certain tell-tale signs of whether you’re actually serious about it and ready to buy, or if you’re just a “looky-loo”, a non-serious buyer.

You May Want to Re-think:

  • Not having an agent: There might be a multitude of reasons you don’t want an agent, or at least yet. However, they are your true guides for the whole home-buying process. They know things you most likely don’t, such as the comps for the area. They also know more about possible price variations, and how much money can possibly be saved, etc.
  • Looking all over the map: It’s better to stick to a smaller radius than a big scatter plot of homes. Usually buyers are more serious when they have narrowed their search down to the exact area they’re looking in, and know the pros and cons of the surrounding area.
  • If you’ve been looking for a long time: Yes, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of your life. However, the longer you’ve been looking, usually the less serious you are. If you don’t have a list of your personal wants and needs to look for in a house, it will be harder to realize when you find the right (or wrong) one.
  • If you’ve seen a house three times or more: If you’re truly ready, you aren’t afraid of going for it. If you realize that you just can’t commit to any of the many houses you’ve seen, then you may not be a serious buyer.
  • Open houses are your only viewings: You may not be ready to commit if you find yourself sticking to looking at houses in a group, and nervous about making one-on-one appointments.

You May Be Ready To Buy If: 

  • You have a lot of questions: If you find yourself asking about important questions, such as about the school systems, neighborhoods, parks, transportation, etc., then you are probably more cognizant about the buying process and every detail you need to be aware of.
  • You know what you can spend: If you have a budget, and your finances in order, you’re a (big) step closer to being a “serious” buyer. Be sure to become pre-approved as well.
  • You make appointments: If you spend more time in private showing appointments than you do at open houses, then you are probably more ready to buy.
  • Bringing other people: If you bring other people along to see houses, then you may be more serious about making that commitment to buy a home.
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How to Liven Up Your Home’s Interior

Are you feeling like you want a change in your home‘s interior, but you just don’t know what that change should be? 

  • Use a fun quilt as a table cloth
  • Shorten the legs of a taller table
  • Replace the legs of tables and chairs
  • Glue marble wallpaper on the tops of coffee tables, in trays, etc.; anywhere that would be appealing to you
  • Buy fresh flowers and/or tuck small plants into corners and other places
  • Use teapots or other interesting containers instead of vases
  • Fill your fireplace with candles if you don’t plan on burning wood
  • Add a rug or a few
  • Change your window treatments
  • Install wall hooks, or a key & wallet cabinet if you would only need hooks for keys.
  • Group small mirrors on a section of wall 
  • Write on your mirror with chalk markers or erasable window markers
  • Wallpaper a half-bathroom
  • Change your stairs; paint them, add a runner, etc.
  • Change the kitchen/bathroom faucet, hardware, and towel racks
  • Paint lamp shades/fixtures with patterns and designs
  • Paint lamps, vases, or any other accessory
  • Change or add a light fixture
  • Lower a pendant light or chandelier 
  • Drape blankets over the backs of chairs
  • Put groups of varying types of containers on your shelves, including kitchenware, vases, glasses, etc.
  • Cover headboards with textiles, or place one on the wall where a headboard would be if you don’t have one
  • Paint a section of wall with colored chalkboard paint
  • Paint just one or two walls a different color
  • Hang a rug as art on your walls
  • Or hang a large piece of art (you can use cables!)
  • Add something fun outside, whether it be a table to serve drinks on, a fire pit, a hammock, or whatever else. Interior interior interior
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How to Know When You’ve Overpriced Your Home’s Asking Price

A difference of a few thousand dollars in your asking price may not seem like a big deal, but it can really have an effect on the selling of your home. Here’s what to know about overpricing your listing price.

  • Pricing your home at or a bit below market value is the sure way to go. Statistics and seasoned Realtors have repeatedly proved that this is the best way to sell your home, and especially in a timely manner. Looking at the comps and your home’s appraisal value is definitely the best way to reach an accurate asking price point. The first few days of putting your house on the market are the most critical to getting noticed; you need to set your price well to fit inside buyers’ search parameters. Usually if you start getting offers within the first few weeks, then the asking price is good.
  • Don’t be scared about pricing your home too low. The market “decides” the right price no matter what; if the house is slightly under-priced, multiple interested buyers will place offers, and in essence bid the price back up. If you don’t care how long it takes to sell your home, then you can price your home higher. Just don’t expect it to sell for at least a few months!
  • If you refuse to negotiate with multiple offers, there may be a problem. Listen to and observe the buyers that come around; those that are both interested and not interested. Get feedback on what they like and don’t like, so that you can take this into account when dealing with your asking price.
  • However, the housing market does still have an affect on speed of sale. Look at how fast the homes like yours in your area and neighborhood sell (and for how much), so that you can get a feel for the right speed. If the inventory of the housing market is low then your home may sell faster, and vice versa (this applies to homes priced at the median level).
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How to Grow Succulents

There’s a reason these cool little hardy plants are having their moment. Succulents are great plants for both indoors and outdoors, and can withstand most weather conditions. They generally can live through harsh weather conditions such as droughts. However, there is a way to grow them that’s more optimal than others.

  • Be mindful when it’s too cold for them: Just because they can usually withstand freezing temperatures doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best thing for them. Most types of succulents do better when they are sheltered from frost. Some types can do okay in the cold when they are kept dry; too much rain can make them more susceptible to frost damage, while some types can even rot. If you can, make a temporary cover for them during harsh winter months, initially plant your succulents in planters so that you can bring them inside.
  • Think about soil type: the best kind of soil to plant succulents in is very porous soil. If you have clay as the main type of soil in your yard, then you might be better off with keeping succulents in planters. These plants also like layered soils, like potting mixes with sand or gravel underneath.
  • Watering: Since they obviously store water in their leaves, you don’t have to water succulents as often as other kinds of plants. However, if you see wrinkly leaves, then they are too dry. Before you ever water, make sure the soil is dry, as getting too much water can make succulents die.
  • Feeding: It’s not always necessary to feed succulents that are planted in a garden; however, potted plants will run out of nutrients over time, so you might want to for these.
  • Lighting: The best lighting amounts are mainly specific to each type of succulent. What can be generally said is that you don’t want too much shade or too much sun for any type of them.
  • Pests: If you have healthy succulents, pests shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There may be a few seasonal exceptions, such as mildew, but they most likely won’t be detrimental to your plants.
  • Location: Succulents usually do best when they are grouped together; even regarding varying types. You can also plant them around other breeds of plants completely, as long as they are similar in their needed conditions. However, many of these will do the best living in planters or pots.
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Pros and Cons of Different Floor Types

There is an abundance of floor types that are available to become a part of your home. However, they are not all created equally.

  • Hardwoods: Yes, the coveted hardwood floors. These are an ever-popular, timeless classic. There are so many varieties of hardwood floor types; between solid and engineered, each available in various types of wood, there’s a choice for everyone. Hardwoods also can be refinished, allowing them to last for centuries. Because of all of these great things, their resale value is great. However, as with anything, there are a few negatives. They aren’t always great for homeowners with a tighter budget. Hardwoods can scratch more easily, can be harder to clean, and can be damaged when exposed to moisture too often.
  • Tile: Tile has popped in and out of home decor trends throughout the years, but lately the popular tile has been in varieties that look like stone, concrete, and wood. There are a multitude of variations of styles, colors, sizes, and textures of tile now, along with prices. It does not get scratched easily, and it can be easily cleaned. It also can last for years to come. The only cons of having tile are that it can be chipped or cracked if something is dropped on it, and it can be slippery to walk on if it gets wet.
  • Travertine: Traverine is a very durable, timeless flooring material. It is available in many different forms, colors, and textures. Because of this, the pricing varies greatly. Travertine is harder to chip or scratch than hardwood or tile. It also is less slippery than tile because it has more texture. The cons of travertine are that it can easily stain, it requires a more specific kind of floor cleaning, and also requires sealing.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is one of the more relatively versatile floor types. It can look like stone or wood, and it can have one of several methods of installation. It is almost always cheaper than any other kind of floor. Vinyl does not chip, scuff, or scratch, and it can hold up to moisture, unlike other flooring types. It’s also easy and comfortable to walk on. The only possible downside to having vinyl is that furniture can leave marks, and so can foot traffic patterns.
  • Laminate: You can get a lot for your money with laminate floors; they look like hardwoods, yet are cheaper and scratch less easily. They are also easy to DIY, since they are made to easily fit and stay together. The downsides are that they can become damaged if exposed to water, unlike tile or vinyl. You need to give them a moisture barrier, and also use a specific cleaner. Last, they generally last less time than other kinds of floors.
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Why and How You Should Save Rainwater

Saving rainwater can save you money, and is a great pro-environmental choice. Here’s why:

  • Easy to store: A rain barrel easily stores fallen rainwater from your roof; connecting a downspout or rainchain to the barrel will allow water to be collected. Make sure your rain barrel is opaque so that mold can’t grow, has a screen to filter things out, and has a spigot.
  • Water, whenever: If your city has watering restrictions for certain times or days, then rejoice- now you can give your plants much-needed hydration whenever you want. Keeping a rain barrel is especially great in drought-prone areas because of this. 
  • An investment: “harvesting” rainwater saves you money over time- rain barrels and rainchains are relatively inexpensive, and you would spend more money paying for water from the tap in the long run. 
  • Better for plants & the environment: of course rainwater is better for your plants and grass- it’s all natural! It’s cleaner, and contains less minerals and salts that could potentially build up in the soil. When the water percolates through the soil it’s naturally cleaned, as compared to being dirty water that ends up running back into water systems. If more people did this, there would be less erosion, flooding, and pollutants ending up in water.
  • Decoration: not to mention rain barrels can make a cool decoration, or you can hide them if you don’t like their aesthetic.
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Home Renovation Mistakes

There are some things that can, and need to be, avoided during your home’s renovation.

  • Rushing into it: Before you get too excited, look at all your options. Deliberately weigh your options based on the right fit for your home and price. Consider your budget, the quality of the materials, the aesthetics, and the amount of work it will take to put it in your house. Don’t regret your home renovations; be semi-cautious about the whole thing.
  • Set a budget: Don’t go into the home renovation process without a semi-strict budget. Along the same lines as the point above, you need to understand just how much it will cost to do what you want to do. It might be awkward to have to stop your renovation right in the middle of it, and then hold off until you save up more money.
  • Hire the right contractor: You need to find a local contractor who is properly insured (just in case anything goes wrong), and who can also show you examples of his or her work (like a showroom). Avoid the contractors who are suspiciously too cheap- when business gets slow, some will under-charge homeowners just to survive, but then have to go out of business, and leave them high and dry. Do your research!
  • Lay out a clear vision: Don’t get too side-tracked by all those extra pretty, shiny things that you would just love to get your hands on. Keep a clear-cut plan and vision for what you are doing so that your budget won’t be blown to bits. Make lists, sketches, etc. to lay everything out. Also, be sure to keep a very clear line of communication with your contractor so they know exactly what you want. Have them confirm what you said you wanted, before they start planning and carrying it out.
  • Secrets: Sometimes renovations will unearth water damage, etc. which is more necessary to fix than your renovation is to complete for now.
  • Remember: not to accumulate too much clutter in your renovation area; this will create more stress, and make it harder to move around. However, plan out your ventilation, lighting, and how you will collect and dispose of trash. Don’t overlook dripping paint and damage to furniture! Also, remember to plan around your home renovations, accounting for areas of your home you won’t have access to, and when.