3 Tips to Become a Smart Home Seller

Getting the best price for your residence can be easy, particularly if you allocate the necessary time and resources to become a smart home seller.

What does it take to become a smart home seller? Here are three tips to help you do just that.

1. Analyze the Housing Market Closely

The housing market can be tricky to navigate, especially for a first-time home seller. Fortunately, those who spend some time reviewing the real estate sector closely can identify housing market patterns and trends and plan accordingly.

For example, a home seller should check out the prices of comparable houses in his or her area. This will enable a property seller to understand how his or her home stacks up against the competition.

A home seller also should review the prices of recently sold homes. This will allow a home seller to differentiate between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.

2. Take a Look at Your Home – Both Inside and Out

When a homebuyer views your house for the first time, will your residence make a positive first impression? If you’re unsure, you may want to conduct a home appraisal as soon as possible.

A home appraisal allows a property inspector to examine your residence both inside and out. That way, you can identify any potential problems with your residence and make home improvements as needed.

There are many quick, simple ways to enhance your property’s appearance without breaking your budget too.

For example, mowing the front lawn and trimming the hedges can help you transform an ordinary home exterior into an exceptional one.

Or, if you want to upgrade your house’s interior, eliminating clutter usually is a great idea. Removing unwanted items from your house will help you free up space so you can show off the true beauty of your residence’s interior.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

No one should be forced to navigate the home selling journey alone. Lucky for you, real estate agents are available who can help you seamlessly add your home to the housing market and optimize your residence’s value.

A real estate agent will meet with you to understand your home selling goals. Then, he or she will help you map out a home selling journey, one that guarantees you can generate plenty of interest in your residence as soon as it becomes available.

Usually, a real estate agent will help you get your home ready to add to the real estate market. He or she will offer honest, unbiased home improvement recommendations so you can upgrade your residence in no time at all.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will set up home showings, promote your residence to homebuyers and negotiate with property buyers on your behalf. And if you ever have home selling concerns or questions, a real estate agent will be happy to respond to them instantly.

Take the guesswork out of selling your home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can become a smart home seller.

Best Practices for Creating a Homebuying Budget

If you want to purchase a home, it pays to establish a homebuying budget. By doing so, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand and narrow your search for your dream house.

Now, let’s take a look at three best practices to help you create a homebuying budget.

1. Look at Your Finances

Your finances will play a major role in your ability to purchase a home. Thus, you should evaluate your current financial situation closely so you can map out an effective homebuying journey.

Request a copy of your credit report – you’ll be glad you did. You are eligible for a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) annually. Take advantage of this complimentary perk, and you can gain deep insights into your outstanding debt.

If you have outstanding debt, try to pay this down as much as possible. That way, you can boost your credit score, which ultimately will help you improve your chances to acquire your ideal residence.

2. Meet with Banks and Credit Unions

When it comes to buying a home, meeting with banks and credit unions usually is a great idea. That way, you can learn about your home loan options and get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Apply for a mortgage from several banks and credit unions. Then, you can receive various mortgage quotes and select one that suits you perfectly.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions during a lender consultation. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage professionals – all of whom are happy to help you make an informed mortgage decision. Therefore, if you’re unsure about whether to proceed with a 15- or 30-year mortgage or can’t decide between an adjustable- or fixed-rate mortgage, you can ask these mortgage professionals for expert advice.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A homebuying budget is tricky to establish on your own, especially if you are entering the real estate market for the first time. Fortunately, a real estate agent can help you plan ahead for all stages of the homebuying cycle.

During a real estate agent consultation, a housing market professional will learn about your homebuying goals. Next, this professional will help you establish realistic homebuying expectations and ensure you can discover a great house at a budget-friendly price.

Of course, let’s not forget about the world-class support that a real estate agent provides after you kick off a home search, either.

A real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you informed about open houses and offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can negotiate with a seller’s agent on your behalf to help you get the best price on a house.

Ready to begin your search for your dream home? Use the aforementioned best practices, and you can craft a homebuying budget and start your homebuying journey.

Ways to Get Involved in the Community in Your New Neighborhood

It’s easy to feel alienated when you move to a new city or town in today’s world. Traditionally, being friendly with neighbors was much more valued in decades past than it is now. And, with the help of things like Facebook and Skype, it’s easier to stay in touch with your old friends from your previous town than it is to make new ones in your new town. 

There is, however, much to be said about becoming involved in your local community. You’ll meet new people, discover new places to explore, and can make new friends in the process.

So, how can you go about involving yourself in your new town? Read on for our advice.

Say “hi” to the neighbors

Meeting the neighbors can be beneficial in a number of ways. They’ll be able to give you the lowdown on your neighborhood, including any issues you might want to be made aware of.

They’ll also be able to tell you if they notice anything strange or concerning around your house when you’re at work. And, if you go away on vacation, a good neighbor might volunteer to take in your mail for you or water your plants.

Find local events

There are a number of ways to find out what’s happening in your new town and get involved with them. Some places we recommend that you check frequently are:

  • Local newspapers and magazines

  • Library and town hall bulletin boards

  • Facebook groups for your town

  • Craigslist community boards

  • Meetup.com groups

You could also check out some local businesses, including cafes and restaurants, to introduce yourself to some of the people who likely live and work in your town.

Learn a new skill

One of the best ways to become involved in your new community is to find out what classes are offered nearby and to join one that you’re interested in. If fitness and wellness are one of your priorities you could consider joining a yoga or fitness class.

If you’re more into crafting, see what classes are available at the local library. And, while you’re there, ask the librarians for recommendations for local places to visit, whether it be museums or specialty stores.

Volunteer your time or skills

If you’d like to give back to your community a great way to do so is to volunteer for a local cause. Many cities and towns have neighborhood or park cleanups. Others have food pantries and assistance for the elderly.

If you have a skill that you think could be useful, such as carpentry or graphic design, find out if any local groups could use your skill.

Go to town meetings

If you want to quickly learn some of the ongoing issues and conversations in your town the weekly or monthly town meetings are a great way to familiarize yourself. Most towns and cities post their meeting schedule online and even offer recordings of past meetings if you want to get a feel for what the meetings are like before attending.

Other places that meetings are held that could be of interest are the local library, churches or spiritual centers, and parks or the town common.

How To Decorate With A Stress-Free Intention

Window with curtains

Your home should be a sanctuary. The home is the place to get away from the stresses of everyday life. It’s our base, that’s why we call it home! There’s ways you can decorate your home that will give every room of the house a feeling of peace and calm. Here, We will break down some of the things that you can do to decorate your house with the intention of it being a stress-free zone.

1. Use the power of green
Plants are the perfect accompaniment to every room of the house. Plants bring more oxygen into your house therefore you end up being less stressed because your overall well-being is better. When the air around you is cleaner, It brings a sense of calm.

2. Engage your senses with sights and sounds
There’s plenty of ways that you can engage your senses inside of your home. From beautiful artwork to top-of-the-line sound systems to listen to music with you can be constantly amazed right from inside your home. Even inviting birds near your windows with feeders in places can connect you with nature in a new and exciting way.

Make coming home a pleasant event
When you come home from work in the evenings, you don’t want the first thing you see to be stressful. Place things near the entryway of your home that bring you joy. You could keep a stack of pleasant books, magazines, puzzles, or music right near the place you enter your house each night. This will remind you to make your house feel more like home, and less like a place that will require more work!

Lower the lights
When you hit your bedroom at night, you want it to feel like a sleep haven. Be sure that the things you use to adjust the lights are close at hand, so when you need to lower lights, it’s an easy task. In other rooms of your home, be sure it’s easy to adjust the lighting accordingly there as well. Think comfort and safety.

5. Keep boundaries between work and home
If you have a home office, be sure that you have a set cut off time for work. Whether you’re working from home all day or just part of the day, you want to set boundaries for yourself. This will help keep your home life pleasant and less stressful. It’s important to separate your home life and your work life.

Make it easy to develop a routine
The placement of your coffeemaker may seem insignificant, but early in the morning when you want a fresh cup of joe, knowing exactly where to hit the button to get the coffee started can make a big difference in your mood for the day. Items in your home should be placed strategically as to how, when and where you use them. It’s also a good idea to have places for shoes, coats and hats to reduce clutter and stay organized.

Tips for a Low Maintenance Backyard

When spring arrives it brings everyone out to the backyard for games, cookouts, picnics, and a number of other fun, fair weather activities. It also brings yardwork.

With the busy schedules that most homeowners have, it can be difficult to find time to spend hours working in the yard each weekend. Depending on where you live and the size of your backyard, there are many options for making it a bit easier to take care of your lawn and garden.

In this article, we’ll give you some advice on how to make caring for your backyard a lot simpler so that you can spend your time outside enjoying the weather rather than working up a sweat.

Lawncare

In most suburban and rural neighborhoods, lawncare seems like a competition. Everyone wants their grass to look as green as their neighbor’s. But keeping a meticulous lawn can be difficult if you have kids, pets, or just don’t have the time to spend manicuring and fertilizing your lawn. What’s more, lawncare can get expensive quickly and can go wrong just as quickly in the case of droughts and pests.

There are many ways you can simplify your lawn care. If you love having a lawn, but mowing is a pain, it can be easier to remove some obstacles from your yard. Bird baths and other decorations can be a nice accept, but sometimes they make mowing more difficult than it needs to be.

If you don’t want to deal with grass at all, or want a smaller area to mow, you have a few options.

You could make your yard more of a natural meadow by planting wildflowers and encouraging long grasses. Laying a brick path down the middle creates the air of a walkthrough garden where you can view the many florae that will be ever-changing in your yard.

If you like your yard to look neat and tidy, creating a patio and placing a few choice potted plants and trees on it will save you a lot of time pushing the lawnmower.

Choose the right plants

Many people plant bushes, trees, and flowers based solely on the fact that they like them. It makes more sense in the long run, though, to choose your plants based on their hardiness, and your ability to care for them.

Some plants are marketed as being impossible to kill. However, you should still read the care requirements to make sure they’ll work with your yard’s climate, light, and water conditions.

In warmer climates, cacti and succulents are a good choice and will likely fit the scenery. For colder climates, there are a number of conifers, shrubs, and bushes that will stay green throughout the winter, adding a bit of color to the dreary season.

A good way to make sure your yard will be low maintenance year-round is to use plants and trees that are native to your area. Since they’re in their natural habitat, they’ll likely require less work on your part.

How to Save Your Grass from Your Dog

If you’re a dog owner you know well that caring for a dog is like caring for a small child who stays a small child for their entire life. They’re a lot of work, but dogs are a part of the family and anyone lucky enough to have a canine companion will tell you that they’re more than worth the trouble.

One difficulty many dog owners face is burn spots on their lawns. Most people assume that dogs are going to kill their grass one way or another and it’s useless to try to prevent it. However, with some diligence and training you can prevent dead spots from taking over your lawn.

What is lawn burn?

Dog urine is very high in nitrogen. While a little bit of nitrogen is healthy for your soil and your grass, too much makes the soil extremely acidic which kills your lawn causing “burn” spots.

If you’ve ever gardened before you might be familiar with the concept of soil’s pH number. A pH number describes how acidic (0-6) or how basic (7-14) a substance is. Different types of plant life require different levels of acidity on the pH scale.

When you buy fertilizer or plant food at the garden shop you’re really buying a mixture of chemicals that alter your soil’s pH. The ideal pH for growing healthy grass is 6.5-7, roughly midway on the pH scale.

What can be done?

Ok, so now you know the science behind why your dog doing his business kills your lawn. But what can you do about it?

There are a number of different techniques that have been proven to be effective at mitigating or eliminating the damage caused by lawn burn.

  • Training. The most effective methods of preventing lawn burn is through proper training of your dog. Find a part of your yard that you ideally want to train your dog to do their business in. This part can be dirt, rocks, or an out of sight patch of lawn that you don’t mind taking some damage. Lead them over to this area when it’s time for them to go out and give them treats and verbal praise when they do their business in that area. If they start to urinate in another area, correct them by calling them over to the area they should be in. Don’t punish them, as this will confuse dogs and they might not feel safe urinating outside at all.
  • Water down. An effective method of preventing burn spots is to simply saturate the area where the dog urinated with water immediately afterward. This will dilute the nitrogen from the urine and limit damage.
  • Healthy nutrition. Dog food is sometimes very high in protein which increases nitrogen in their urine. Pick a food that has healthy amounts of protein in it. Similarly, dehydrated dogs will have urine with a higher nitrogen level. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.

Myths about lawn burn

Many myths about dog-related lawn burn have appeared over the years. Some people argue that female dogs’ urine burns a lawn more than males. This is untrue. If a female dog’s urine does burn the lawn more it is simply because female dogs have a tendency to stay in one place while doing their business.

Other myths include the usefulness of feeding your dog supplements to eliminate spots or that certain dog breeds have more acidic urine and cause more spotting. These are also misconceptions.

The best options are to work together with your dog and make sure they are well-fed and hydrated. Soon your lawn will regrow to its former glory.

Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen

The kitchen. It’s one of the most used rooms of the house, yet somehow becomes one of the most disorganized. If you’re tired of digging past ten spatulas to find the potato peeler keep reading. Below are some tips on how to organize your kitchen and keep it that way!

Start by making a bigger mess. Yes, clean everything out of the drawers and cupboards. You may want to include clearing out pantry items as well if it’s been awhile since you’ve done so. Check expiration dates on everything as sometimes items have a way of getting pushed to the back of a cupboard to be forgotten for years. Sort through your items and determine what can be kept, donated or tossed out.

Create categories for the items you are keeping. Think baking, cooking, seasonal, often used, least used, etc. By sorting everything out into categories now, you will know what type of storage solutions and where the best place to store them is later.

Find storage solutions that work. Whether you have items laying around the house you can use or need to invest in some, the best way to stay organized is to create a system that assigns a home for every single item you own. Junk drawers are born from items not having a dedicated place. Be proactive in preventing the dreaded junk drawer by finding an organization solution that includes a spot for everything. Some organization items to consider are lazy susans for spices and other pantry items, hooks to hang mugs, a stemware rack for wine glasses, a rack hang pots and pans from the ceiling, hooks on the insides of cabinet doors for pot holders or measuring cups, a spice rack installed on a cabinet door, and drawer dividers for utensils.

Keep your most used items within reach. Avoid digging through cupboards and drawers on a daily basis by keeping your most used items front and center. In cabinets store your most used items on lower shelves while placing the ones you use less often on top shelves. Place your go-to cooking utensils in a vase or other type of decorative container on the counter next to the stove. You should also consider keeping pots, pans, and other cooking items close to the stove to keep them within arms reach when you are cooking.

Extra Tips for the Go-Getters. Organize plastic ware with their lids. Better yet invest in a set that comes with snap-together lids or a large matching set so you aren’t left trying to cram the wrong lid on a bowl for leftovers. Make the most of the empty space over your cabinets by adding shelves for extra storage. Add a lazy susan in your fridge to avoid items being pushed to the back and becoming long forgotten. Set up a station to sort typical kitchen papers like coupons, menus, and notepads.

While we use our kitchen almost every day the clutter can build up and become overwhelming. With an action plan in hand and a few days dedicated to organizing the chaos you can have a cleaner, more organized kitchen before you know it!

Do This to Keep Pests Outside Your House

A large beautiful home can lose its appeal as soon as pests move in. Although it might be easier to keep pests outside your house if you live in a single family home versus a townhouse or row house, no house is designed to keep all pests out.

You don’t have to live with pests at home

But, just because you might live in a house that’s connected to a neighbor’s home or because you might live in a house that has seen its share of pests, that also doesn’t meant that you have to live with pests. The first step to a pests free house is to identify where pests are getting inside your house.

Seal these entryways. Then, treat these entryways with an effective bug repellent. If this step doesn’t keep pests out of your home, contact a professional exterminator. An exterminator generally has studied, seen and dealt with a variety of pests. She knows how to spot a nests.

Other actions that you can take to treat yourself to a pests free house include reviewing your daily habits. See if you or your family members are engaging in one or more of these five pests inviting habits:

  • Leaving food on kitchen counters, living room tables and other furniture pieces
  • Eating in the living room, bedroom or den and dropping crumbs on the floor
  • Storing fruit and vegetables openly on counters (this action can invite fruit flies and other pests that feast on fruit or vegetables)
  • Opening house windows and leaving the windows up, even if there are tears or cracks in windows or screens
  • Not washing dishes, pots and pans after you finish cooking and dining

By leaving food on counters overnight, you could also invite pests inside your house. The same applies to leaving dirty pots and pans in a dishwasher over night.

Clean house can equal a pests free home

Before you head to bed at night, get in the habit of sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor. If you ate in the dining room, clean the floor in this room as well. Regarding floors, make sure that you vacuum your carpet at least once a week.

Carpets are great places that hide crumbs. You may not see the crumbs, but pests know where the crumbs are. If you have pets, clean your pets. When it’s warm outside, check your pets for fleas, ticks and other pests before your pets come inside your house.

Spot your pets scratching more than normal? Wash and treat your pets for pests. Check with your veterinarian to make sure that treatments that you use are safe for your pet. But, don’t just clean your pets and your house, teach your children how to clean up after themselves.

It’s also a good habit to teach children to limit their eating and drinking to the kitchen and dining room. To enjoy a pests free house, you’ll also want to keep your home dry. This includes wiping down kitchen and bathroom counters after they get wet.

How to Be a Responsive Homebuyer

Do you have what it takes to be a responsive homebuyer? Ultimately, your ability to respond to requests from home sellers and others may dictate your homebuying success.

Becoming a responsive homebuyer can be easy – here are three tips to ensure you can do just that.

1. Learn About the Housing Market

A responsive homebuyer understands that he or she has a lot to learn about the housing market. As such, this individual will allocate the necessary time and resources to analyze the real estate sector.

Typically, a responsive homebuyer will perform comprehensive online research. This will help a homebuyer assess a broad range of residences so he or she can tailor a home search accordingly.

Let’s not forget about a responsive homebuyer’s diligence, either.

A responsive homebuyer may work with an expert real estate agent, i.e. a housing market professional who knows what it takes to land a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price. By doing so, this homebuyer can boost his or her chances of streamlining the homebuying process.

2. Be Available

Are you ready to check out houses as soon as they become available? A responsive homebuyer should have no trouble tracking the housing market and staying up to date about new residences. That way, this individual can act quickly if he or she discovers the perfect home.

An informed approach can make a world of difference, and in most cases, separates a responsive homebuyer from an ordinary property buyer.

Usually, a responsive homebuyer will study the housing market closely and track new houses daily. This property buyer also may collaborate with a real estate agent who will keep him or her informed about new houses that become available.

Perhaps most important, a responsive homebuyer will be ready to accept phone calls, emails and texts throughout the homebuying cycle. He or she will even be open to communication with a home seller – something that may help this homebuyer acquire a first-rate house.

3. Offer Positive Responses to Feedback

Although a responsive homebuyer is eager to learn about the real estate sector, he or she won’t pretend to be a housing market expert. In fact, this individual often is happy to receive feedback throughout the homebuying cycle.

A responsive homebuyer may consult with a real estate agent who can offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. This homebuyer may not always agree with a real estate agent’s advice, but he or she also will listen to everything that a housing market professional has to say.

Becoming a responsive homebuyer may seem like an uphill climb. However, with support from a real estate agent, you may be able to accelerate the process of transforming your homeownership dream into a reality.

Real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide and serve as homebuying guides. These housing market professionals can help homebuyers find residences that they can enjoy for years to come.

Take the next step to become a responsive homebuyer – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to securing your ideal residence.