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6 Ways to Inexpensively Stage a Home for Sale

Posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 at 12:00am.

6 Ways to Inexpensively Stage a Home for Sale

A vacant home needs a lot more than furniture to make it market ready.

TV renovation shows have pushed up home buyers’ expectations, giving sellers a template that may be difficult to reproduce if money is tight.

If hiring a professional home staging company isn’t within a seller’s budget, there are some inexpensive ways to stage a home for sale so that buyers can see the home in its best light and imagine themselves living there. Here are six tips for inexpensive staging:

Better lighting: Clean light fixtures and replace bulbs with high wattage and daylight bulbs, recommends Lisa Kinnear, a certified staging professional and owner of First Sight Staging, which serves the Placer County cities from Roseville to Auburn in California.

“If the buyers can’t see your property’s best features then they may pass on the home,” Kinnear says.

No heavy drapes: Remove heavy drapes that block good views and light. “Chances are buyers won’t want your drapes anyway, but they will want to see what they are buying,” she says.

Replace hardware: Replacing mismatched or dated hardware on doors and cabinets is an inexpensive way to update a home and create a cohesive look, Kinnear says. Big box stores sell multi-packs that are much less expensive than buying them individually. And don’t forget switch plates and outlet covers.

Clean: A clean house looks like a well-cared-for house that won’t have issues for the new owner to take care of. Clean it from top to bottom, and hire a professional house cleaning service if you’re not up to the task.

New paint: Paint is a relatively cheap way to make an entire house look new. Old paint or colors that are too bright could give buyers the idea that they’ll need to spend a lot of time and money painting the inside of their new home before they move in. Remove that thought by painting with neutral colors.

No clutter: If the home is occupied, the cheapest staging trick is one that may take a lot of work but doesn’t cost anything — removing clutter. From family photos on the fireplace mantle to overstuffed closets, remove as much stuff as you can from a home and put everything away neatly. No one is expecting a home with a family living in it to be immaculate and not have a lived-in look, but cleaning off a kitchen counter of appliances and putting other things away can help make a home seem bigger and can make it easier for buyers to see how their belongings will fit in.

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How Sound Is Your Home's Foundation?

Posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2020 at 12:00am.

How Sound Is Your Home's Foundation?
If you're building a new home, make sure your foundation is sound. Consider going with concrete, analyzing your soil, and testing your materials. Check out this infographic for more detailed information. How Sound Is Your Home’s Foundation?
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Points to Ponder Before Buying a Vacation Home

Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Points to Ponder Before Buying a Vacation Home

Over the years, you’ve spent many happy summers at that lake, beach, or mountain resort. The kids think of it as a second home. Maybe it’s time to buy property there so the family can enjoy it for years to come.

But, suggest financial advisors, before you decide to buy that second home, consider four important questions regarding convenience and cost:

  • How often will you use it? Surveys show most vacation homes are within two hours of the owner’s primary home. More travel time than that, and you may not choose to make the trip nearly as often as you thought you might.
  • How much will it cost? In addition to the purchase price, consider annual property taxes and insurance, as well as monthly utilities, trash removal, and maintenance services. For safety’s sake, you may want to add the cost of a security and/or alarm system, plus the cost for a property manager to keep an eye on the property when you’re not in residence – and to handle rental services if you decide to rent the property.
  • Will you rent or not? You may be planning to offset costs by renting out the home while you’re away, and that could be a worthwhile decision. But if you plan to rely on rental income to meet expenses, check first with local agents/rental companies to see what similar properties are renting for in the area and what the occupancy rate is like. Also, understand that if you rent during the region’s high or most desirable season – say, winter in a ski area or summer at the beach – you will limit the time you and your family will have the property available for your use.
  • What about maintenance? Your vacation home will likely need as much year-round upkeep as your primary home. Be prepared to devote at least part of your vacation time tending to repairs – or tack on the cost of keeping a handyman on retainer.


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Hot Home Decor Trends

Posted on Saturday, May 16th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Hot Home Decor Trends

Hot Home Decor Trends

People are craving warmth, intimacy and a casual but sophisticated lifestyle.

These 5 decor trends will make your home cozy and stylish!

1. Scaled-down furnishings. Arrange smaller pieces with rounded edges in more intimate settings.

2. Wall coverings. Wall paper, fabric wall coverings and murals are making a comeback.

3. Shades of green. For upholstery to kitchen furnishings, green is the new hue.

4. Color ‘pops.’ Think yellow for accents like lamps and pillows.

5. Crafts and artisanal looks. Say no to mass production and complete your look with a few one-of-a-kind wonders.

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A Background on Credit Scoring Models

Posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2020 at 1:00am.

A Background on Credit Scoring Models

Homebuyers who have a better credit history over a longer stretch of time than a shorter one may benefit by a change to the credit-scoring model used by Experian.

Up until about 2016, mortgage lenders didn’t use trended credit data and didn’t differentiate between types of credit usage.

What is “trended credit data?” It’s the information that credit bureaus gather on how consumers manage their credit card balances, and it goes beyond paying your credit card bills on time each month.

The updated model—Trended 3D—uses trended credit data to provide information on borrowers’ balances and credit lines over the past 24 months. That’s a longer view of consumers’ behavior than traditional credit reports provide.

Lenders prefer “transactors” who pay off their credit card balances every month over “revolvers” who carry balances from month to month. The change is that Trended 3D makes a distinction between those types of borrowers, giving transactors a credit-scoring advantage.

Mortgage lenders prefer borrowers who pay off their credit cards each month. If not, they like to at least see borrowers carry shrinking balances because they’re paying more than the minimum payment each month. What they don’t want to see is someone making the minimum payment on their credit cards and to have credit balances growing.

The number of borrowers who are eligible for the lowest mortgage rates could increase through the use of trended credit data if they’ve paid off their credit card balances each month for most of the past two years.

Fannie Mae started using Trended 3D in 2016 with its automated underwriting software. The government-backed home loans are used by more than 1,800 lenders. The extra data is supposed to give some borrowers more access to credit than they would have under the old scoring models.

Fannie Mae only uses trended credit data for conventional loans. It doesn’t use that information when making approval recommendations for FHA-insured or VA-backed mortgages.

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Put a Little Life into Your Lights

Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Put a Little Life into Your Lights

When’s the last time you paid attention to your lights, switches and fixtures?

They may seem like little things, but when selling a home, everything counts, so putting some thought into your home’s lighting can go a long way toward sprucing up your home without emptying your wallet.

Here are some easy things that you can do:

Install new bulbs. This is an affordable way to set the right mood in rooms throughout your home. New bulbs also mean they won’t burn out while potential buyers look over your home.

Choose the right bulbs for each room. Bright lighting in the kitchen and softer lights in the living room, for example. If you have a ceiling fan with more than one bulb, avoid high-wattage bulbs, and install those of equal wattage.

Replace outlet covers. This is another economically-friendly step that can make a difference. Pick the right colors for each room, and make sure plates match. Another advantage to doing this—you’ll make sure all outlet covers are tightly screwed on and secure. Be sure to take any necessary safety precautions before changing any plates.

Dust and clean. Lighting on the ceiling can collect dust, especially on globes that cover bulbs, exposed bulbs or chandeliers. Built-up dust in these areas is unsightly, so take a few minutes to dust these. Be sure to do it in the afternoon while the lights aren’t on and hot to the touch. Then, take a look at the covers of your light switches. Hands are all over these, so there’s a good chance they’re marked by fingerprints or food stains. Clean these with a window cleaner; use very little cleaner and be careful because you don’t want liquid getting into the switch area.

Check your switches. A lot of houses have switches that just don’t work or are backward, turning lights off when in the up position and vice-versa. These are little things, but any imperfection can be a distraction to visitors. It may well be worth the time and expense to hire an electrician to repair or replace any broken switches or outlets that don’t function properly.

Remember exterior lights. Outdoor lights are also important. If people visit the house at night, you want walkways to be well lit, and if outdoor lights aren’t working because of burned-out bulbs, it could be a sign that other areas of the house are being ignored.

Taking these steps can help you sell your home faster.

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Best Ways to Handle Broken Appliances

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Best Ways to Handle Broken Appliances

Best Ways to Handle Broken Appliances

When major household appliances break, should you repair or replace them?

The answer depends on which appliance…

Many refrigerator repairs are easy and affordable, especially if the problem is a bad motor or electronic controls.

Dishwashers are usually simple to repair, but issues with their door seal or tub often prompt a full replacement.

Unless water heaters are failing because of a part that’s easy to replace, it’s almost never a good idea to repair them.

Washing machines with water leaks or broken belts are simple to repair, but a faulty clothes dryer might be a fire hazard worth replacing.

When in doubt, consult the manufacturer or a service professional.

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3 Daily Habits to a Cleaner Home

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 at 1:00am.

3 Daily Habits to a Cleaner Home

Between work, family and fun, cleaning your home can feel like a drag—but most of us can’t afford to hire a cleaning crew, and so the task of weekly tidying and disinfecting is unavoidable. To help, below are three daily habits to a cleaner home.

Set a timer. Every night after dinner, set a timer for 15 minutes and have your family clean around the house: arm someone with disinfectant to wipe down the bathroom, set another loose on the living room picking up clutter, and hand out a trash bag to tackle any expired goods in the fridge. If you make this a daily task, cleaning your home will always feel a bit more manageable.

Do one room a day. If the timer method isn’t your thing (or if your family is a small one), pick a room or area each day to address: living room on Monday, bathroom on Tuesday, laundry on Wednesday, and so on. Depending on the size of your room, many can be handled in 20-30 minutes or less.

Multitask. Pair cleaning with something you enjoy doing, like listening to a podcast, phoning a friend, or watching your favorite show. Fold the laundry while you catch up on television, or wipe down the counters and surfaces while you gab with your sister or old roommate.

I hope you found this helpful. Contact me for more home and real estate insights and info.

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Home-Buying: When Your Income Is Good, but Your Credit Is Bad

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2020 at 1:00am.

Home-Buying: When Your Income Is Good, but Your Credit Is Bad

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5 Tips for Making Household Items Last Longer

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2020 at 1:00am.

5 Tips for Making Household Items Last Longer

Buying a home is expensive enough. Filling it up with things you need adds to the cost, and spending more money to replace those things leads to more bills.

Extending the lifespan of household items can save you a lot of money in the long run. Here are five tips for making some common household items last longer:

Flip your mattress.
Most mattresses have a lifespan of seven to 10 years. If you don’t flip or rotate your mattress regularly you may have to replace it sooner.

Ask the manufacturer or business that sold you a mattress how often if recommends rotating or flipping a mattress so that it doesn’t sag from body impressions in one area. A pillow top mattress will have to be rotated. Or rotate your mattress as often as you like, such as every month.

Remove batteries.
If you’re not using something for a long time that requires batteries, take the batteries out until you need it again.

Chances are that at some time you’ve tried to use some battery-powered device, only to discover that it’s not working because the batteries are dead. Or worse — that the batteries have corroded and made the device unusable.

Use the right amount of laundry detergent.
Many new model clothes washers require much less laundry detergent than you might think. After all, if your clothes are dirty, a little extra detergent should make them cleaner, right? Not exactly.

Too much soap can make a washer work harder on the rinse and spin cycles to get all of that soap out, leading to a broken washer. Try using less soap and see if your clothes come out just as clean.

Maintain your appliances.
Regular maintenance is necessary for more than just your car. Clean the refrigerator coils and vacuum around the air vents so that it keeps running smoothly and doesn’t have to use extra energy to run.

Change your furnace cleaners regularly, have your air conditioner and heater serviced each year, clean the gutters annually and even do simple things such as cleaning the coffee maker to extend the life of your home and its components.

Clean the clothes dryer.
If the wet clothes in your clothes dryer take longer than normal to dry, there’s something wrong with the dryer.

Regularly clean the lint trap, exhaust hose and check the exterior vent for blockages. If air isn’t moving through the dryer and out of the house, it makes it harder to dry the clothes inside it. That can lead to more time running the dryer and working harder, which can lead to more breakdowns.

Hope you found these tips helpful! Contact me for more insights and info.

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Are You Storing Foods in the Right Places?

Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 at 1:00am.

Are You Storing Foods in the Right Places?

Are You Storing Foods in the Right Places?

Not organizing your refrigerator correctly can make foods spoil faster, lead to cross-contamination and make things hard to find.

Put foods that don’t need to be cooked (leftovers, processed meats, cheese and beverages) on top shelves.

Store meat on the bottom shelf in a plastic bin. Put other raw ingredients on lower shelves, in different areas.

Crisper drawers have adjustable humidity and temperature controls to keep produce fresh. Store leafy greens in a high-humidity drawer and put other vegetables and fruits in a low-humidity drawer.

Remembers, when you open the refrigerator, items on the door are exposed to room-temperature air…so only keep condiments, sauces and butter there.

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Homeowners Insurance: Know What's Covered

Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Homeowners Insurance: Know What's Covered

If you plan to lead a conventional life, odds are you will need insurance. You’ll need health insurance, car insurance, and eventually home insurance. The latter is often the most perplexing since we have no prior experience with it as we do with health insurance.

What exactly is home insurance and how bullet-proof is your coverage? For starters, home insurance, in theory, provides you with financial protection against disasters. These disasters can involve your home, the contents of your home, or any liabilities within your property that could lead to a lawsuit…like when your dog bites the pizza delivery guy.

However, home insurance doesn’t mean your home’s invincible. Unless you’ve purchased specialized insurance, it can’t protect you against floods, nuclear war, earthquakes, or poor maintenance. Don’t slack off with your home’s upkeep—negligence does not go over well in insurance court.

The most common scenario with homeowners insurance, however, involves receiving some sort of compensation for damage to your property and its contents. For when the time comes, it is important to know how compensation is calculated. The insurance company will either pay for the repair, or you can get cash value. However, while you might have paid $500 for your grill, the insurance company will pay you back whatever the grill is currently worth, usually a lesser value.

Homeowners insurance is an expense you can’t avoid. And while it might feel daunting at first, there’s comfort in knowing that you’re protected against most calamities.

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Options You May Not Know About When Shopping for a Mortgage

Posted on Monday, May 25th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Options You May Not Know About When Shopping for a Mortgage

Shopping for a mortgage can be overwhelming. Even if you’ve owned a few homes and have had a few home loans, chances are there are some mortgage options you don’t know about.

Here are four to ask a mortgage expert about:

  1. A 20 percent down payment isn’t a must. The long-held view that at least a 20 percent down payment is needed to buy a home is outdated.

A loan approved by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, can have a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent. For a $300,000 home, instead of having to come up with $60,000 (20 percent) down, a 3.5 percent down payment requires $10,500 down.

  1. Banks aren’t the only home lenders. Traditional lenders like banks and credit unions are just some of the places to get a home loan.

Savings and loan associations are one option, using the savings deposits of private investors to make mortgage loans. They’re usually locally-owned and managed, and are chartered by the federal or state government.

Mutual savings banks are another option. They’re like savings and loans and were created to help low-income consumers. Unlike commercial banks, they can borrow from the Federal Home Loan Bank System to make investments such as mortgages.

  1. You’ll likely get more money than you need. After determining your ability to repay a home loan and the cost of the home, the lender will tell you how much of a loan you qualify for. Chances are it will be a larger loan than you can afford.

New federal laws in 2014 are meant to hold lenders more responsible for the loans they underwrite, but the guidelines still allow larger loans for most people.

That doesn’t mean you have to necessarily borrow that much money. But it could help pay your closing costs, or be used to buy a bigger home. But if you’re getting a bigger loan only because you qualify for it and can buy a better or bigger home, you could be in trouble soon if you can’t afford the payments. Only you know your day-to-day finances—not your lender—so sticking to a loan you can afford is wise.

  1. A home loan can help cover repairs. If you’re getting an FHA loan, its 203(k) program allows up to $35,000 from the loan to be used for home repairs and improvements.

Chances are the home you’re buying will need (or you’ll just want to change) new carpet or paint, and this add-on loan product can pay for the improvements. The total loan amount is based on the projected home value after the fixes are made.

Interested in more real estate tips? Contact me today!

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Buy a Home With Enough Storage Space

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Buy a Home With Enough Storage Space

Buy a Home With Enough Storage Space

For many families, having enough storage space is essential.

To avoid clutter, consider these factors before buying a home:

Are the closets big enough to fit all your clothes or kids’ toys?

Does the bathroom allow enough dedicated space for cosmetics and toiletries?

Would a lack of food storage cut into space for cookware in the kitchen?

Is there a garage or shed for your tools and lawn care equipment?

Take stock of what your family owns, and make sure a new home has enough space to store it.

A real estate agent can help find a home that’s the right fit for you.

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Is a Second Mortgage a Good Idea?

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 at 1:00am.

Is a Second Mortgage a Good Idea?

If you need money for home improvements, college tuition or another purpose, you might be able to secure funds with favorable terms through a second mortgage. Before you do so, it’s important to make sure you understand the terms and potential risks.

How Does a Second Mortgage Work?
A second mortgage is a loan that allows a homeowner to borrow against the value of their house by using it as collateral. A second mortgage draws upon the equity that has been accumulated. Equity can grow when mortgage payments lower the loan balance and/or when the value of the house increases due to renovations or a change in the real estate market.

The loan that was used to buy the home initially is the first mortgage and is secured with a lien on the house. A second mortgage can be subject to a fixed or variable interest rate. A second mortgage typically has an interest rate that is lower than rates for credit cards, but a little higher than the rate for the first mortgage.

Types of Second Mortgages
One option is to receive a lump sum of money to be repaid over a period of time. A lump sum second mortgage would typically require monthly payments that consist of a portion of the loan balance and interest.

Another option is to open a home equity line of credit. You could borrow money once or several times, up to the available credit line, and gradually pay it back.

Pros and Cons of Second Mortgages
Since a second mortgage uses the house as collateral, you could probably borrow more than you would be able to through a conventional loan. The total amount that can be borrowed depends on the lender’s policies.

To obtain a second mortgage, you would need to pay for an appraisal, origination fees and a credit check, which could total thousands of dollars. Since a second mortgage uses a house as collateral, falling behind on your payments could put you at risk of foreclosure.

Reasons to Get a Second Mortgage
A second mortgage should only be used for a legitimate purpose that is likely to benefit you in the long run. For example, it would make sense to use a second mortgage to make repairs and improvements that would increase your home’s value and eventual sale price. A second mortgage could also be a good idea if you used the money to pay for a degree that could help you secure a job with a higher salary in the future. If you wanted to consolidate high-interest debts, you could obtain a lower interest rate through a second mortgage.

Is a Second Mortgage Right for You?
A second mortgage can help you meet your long-term financial goals. Before you take on a new loan using your home as collateral, be sure that you understand how it works, and make sure you can afford the monthly payments in order to avoid the risk of foreclosure.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

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