A jam-packed garage filled to the gills with boxes, unused items or storage can leave a person feeling defeated before the process even begins. Break down the mountainous task into little pieces to get a better focus with some storage tips for transforming a chaotic space into one that is functional, organized and easy to use.
Cleaning out the garage can feel like an onerous task but it will take more than one sweep to get rid of the clutter. Take the pressure off by assuming it will all get done in one fell swoop. Start by tossing perfection out the window before starting and break down the task into manageable chunks. Eventually a clean garage will appear (with small victories along the way).
Go in with a focused mind. Worrying about sorting or removing items may ramp up anxiety about cleaning. Have a look around and note what is present. Do what needs to happen to feel organized in control. The following tips may also help:
Note big, bulky pieces
Research where to take the items
Take photos and create a Craigslist ad or other resource in the area
Compile a local resource list by looking over notes or photos made during the reconnaissance mission. Once a list is made, it is easier to figure out where to put it all. The following ideas are just a few ways to help get ideas started:
Consider renting a refuse container for trash
Find consignment shops to drop off clothes (or other charitable organization)
Chart details in advance to make process feel more smooth
Investment in proper storage is never a waste of money. Storage cabinets and wall-mounted storage can make a huge difference in accessibility of stored items and help protect items over time. Plastic bins also work well for hard items. Three main types of storage to consider include:
Overhead. If space is tight and there is alot to store, use overhead space to stow away least-frequently used items (holiday decor, seasonal items) in lidded bins. Overhead storage racks need secure mounting for safety so call a pro if needed.
Wall-mounted. Keep gear and bins off floor to prevent moisture damage and save floor space.
Locked cabinets. Essential for safely storing hazardous materials (antifreeze, motor oil, etc) keep them away from children and pets.
Some other tips to experience a successful garage clean out include moving frequently used gear near the entrance. Bikes and ball games or frequently used items should be easily accessible. Have storage handy to keep things in a proper place. Bike hooks for bikes, wire mesh baskets for balls and shelves for gardening supplies help keep things organized long-term. Maintain the clean state of the garage by continuing to purge items no longer used and creating storage for new items for a better overall feel in the home.
A home appraisal can be a stressful time for homeowners, but the good news is it does not have to be that way. With the right tools and tips, the appraisal process can go smoothly and help homeowners make a huge financial leap into the future with a new home.
As with anything in life-the selection of a doctor, dentist or other professional-homework is required to make sure the right decision is made. Appraiser's come in all shapes and sizes. The most important thing is to make sure the appraiser understands and has knowledge of the market in the area. An appraiser who lives locally and knows the area will likely have seen fluctuations in the market. It is important to hire an appraiser who is state certified.
Any maintenance that needs to be done on the house should be completed before an appraisal. Whether it is chipped paint, a dirty carpet or siding issues, an appraiser will take notice. Obvious signs of work that needs to be done can chip away at a home's overall value. Keep a list of maintenance work to be done on the home including dates when items are fixed or upgraded and the money spent for record keeping.
A home appraisal focuses not only on the interior, but the exterior of the home including how it looks to potential homeowners who drive by the property. Landscaping plays a huge role in making a good first impression. A good first impression is one that lasts. Make sure to keep the yard tidy and up-to-date. Trim or replace dead plants and keep it nice and green.
Working appliances in a home are very important to the overall appraisal. Malfunctioning big appliances (refrigerator, stove, washer or dryer) can leave homeowners at a huge disadvantage when it comes to the home's appraisal value.
Before an appraisal is done, know what comparable homes nearby are valued at because this can be a huge predictor of the home's value. An appraiser will want to know of any extraordinary circumstances such as a person in the neighborhood selling property quickly or other situation which may affect home values.
Home improvements are a great way to build curb appeal but it does not always equal the increase in property value people think it will. If a seller things spending, for instance, $60,000 on the home and $20,000 on a pool, then the home will increase in value by $80,000 the market may say differently. Find out the economic investment and rate of return prior to doing any major improvements.
A second appraisal is always an option if a homeowner is not satisfied. The appraiser may have missed something so offer to show him or her the facts to see what can happen. It cannot hurt and, in some cases, may help the overall appraised value.
Purchasing home insurance for the first time can be overwhelming. Review some of the common insurance questions before shopping for coverage to build knowledge of policies and find the best one to suit the family's needs.
Most states require drivers to possess auto insurance prior to driving a car off the lot. Home insurance is different in that a person can legally own a home without insurance. If a loan is needed to purchase a home, the lender will likely require the family to purchase home insurance as a way to protect the investment.
Home insurance policies typically include coverage for the home's structure, contents, liability, other structures (toolshed, etc) and additional living expenses. Learn more about items typically covered in home insurance policies:
If the home is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril and needs to be repaired or rebuilt, insurance can help cover expenses. Structural coverage is not the same as the amount paid for the home. A person needs to set structure coverage for the amount it would take to rebuild the home from the ground up.
Coverage typically begins for belongings which are damaged or destroyed. Usually set between 50 and 70 percent of the home's structural coverage, high-value items (jewelry, art, valuables) may have a cap on the repair/replacement value..
If a person becomes injured on the property, the liability portion of insurance can help pay for medical, rehabilitation and/or funeral expenses. This will also include legal fees in the event the injured party decides to sue. Liability is usually set around $100,000 worth of protection. Insurers recommend more at $300,000-$500,000.
Standard home insurance policies can cover damage by fire, windstorms, hail, lightning, theft, vandalism, explosions and riots. Typically, water damage from freezing and bursting pipes is also covered. Damage from floods or earthquakes is typically not covered as natural disasters require separate policies for people living in a high-risk area where this is a more common occurrence.
Insurers take the following into account to determine cost of coverage:
Claims history (personal and claims history for the area)
Location of home
Age of home
Cost associated with rebuilding home
Proximity to fire department
Pet owner status (owning a dog means more liability coverage)
When looking for ways to save money, scope out discounts. Most providers offer discounts to policyholders. Build multiple policies (home, auto) with same provider for simple ways to save more each month. Raising the deductible (amount agreed to pay personally toward a claim prior to insurance) will result in lower premiums. Set it reasonably low enough to be affordable but also provides coverage necessary in the event disaster strikes.
Families who live in better neighborhoods may find some residual health benefits. Moving families out of low-income neighborhoods does not necessarily increase wealth or job status but may offer a boost in a different way which supports long-term health and increased happiness.
A recent study published in the journal Science focused on data analyzed from a study called Moving to Opportunity, a federal housing mobility experiment from the 1990s. Approximately 4,600 low-income families living in poor neighborhoods in five major cities across America were analyzed. About 2,000 families received housing vouchers which allowed the families to move into mixed-income neighborhoods, while others stayed behind. The goal was to determine how much a person's living environment impacts his or her success. Scientists noted families who moved reported significant boosts in physical and psychological health, even while job status or educational opportunities may not have changed.
Compared with families who did not move, families who switched neighborhoods experienced lower rates of the following conditions:
Rates of depression decreased while the overall satisfaction with life rose to that of a person whose annual income was $13,000 more a year. The significant findings of this report demonstrate money does not necessarily equate to happiness. Helping poor families is about more than just increasing income, but also providing a safe, lower stress environment in which to live, raise kids and work.
Researchers were not sure why moving to a new neighborhood made people feel happier but the focus shifted to how people feel more safe and less stressed in different neighborhoods. Some families received mental health benefits in less violent and impoverished communities while some were no better off. Racial segregation did not seem to change the statistics of overall happiness for people, in fact even if it the new neighborhood was as racially segregated, people were significantly happier. The reality is people experience health and happiness in different contexts so it is an individual experience whether or not moving will bring greater happiness, contentment and overall health benefits.
More research is needed to understand what supports families in creating more health benefits and happiness. It is not just from where a family lives, works and attends school but also dependent on other factors including family, community and other unknown variables. As researchers continue to work at understanding the human condition, health and happiness it will be necessary to learn more about the connection between poverty and happiness for future generations. Firm understanding of how these factors work together can provide greater insight into how healthy communities develop, and maintain, overall wellness and happiness.
The low cost of living in Ohio and numerous recreational areas make the state one of the best places to consider retirement for people who love to have fun and relax without sacrificing quality of life. The arts, culture and entertainment scene along with outdoor activities make this retirement-friendly locale the place to be, whether in a major city or small town. Learn about all the benefits of retiring in Ohio.
The overall cost of living in Ohio is approximately 8 percent less than the national average as of 2015. Housing costs are 21 percent lower than the national average. Utilities are also ranking lower than the national average which makes affordability one of the key benefits of retiring in Ohio.
Ohio is home to several colleges and universities with several college towns being created in the surrounding towns. Arts and culture are huge in and around the college campuses. Oxford, in particular, has a vibrant artistic scene which includes a free summer concert series, an art museum, college theater scene and more offerings for people of all ages to enjoy. It depends on an individual's tastes but having so many young people in the area can bring a vibrancy to an area and support lots of creative endeavors for individuals wishing to retire close to artistic communities with lots of activities.
Throughout the state of Ohio, outdoor activities abound with lots of space to explore for the outdoor enthusiast. Year-round opportunities are available including bike trails, 330 miles of connected trails in Yellow Springs and Dayton and across the state. Headlands beach is located near Mentor where residents can swim or fish and hike the trails or spot rare plant life at the 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and Marina. Whether it is hiking, biking, bird watching or other activity, there is something for all enthusiasts to enjoy across the state of Ohio.
One of the biggest challenges for retirees is finding activities which are fun and engaging while supporting community with groups and organizations. Senior citizen centers and communities across Ohio provide activities and groups just for this reason. The city of Lakewood, for example, has a Division of Aging which organizes senior-only activities such as a photography club and others including lectures, movies, poker and a book club, to name a few. The opportunity to connect with other mature residents is endless and the chance to see and do many great things are available at an individual's fingertips in Ohio.
Retirement is a state of mind, which is very individualized depending on a person's desires and goals. There is also lots of quiet space to find respite and peace from the hectic city life in smaller towns which offer scenic views over a lake or hills and trees. Enjoy the four seasons in Ohio and enjoy a low cost of living and higher quality of life that is unsurpassed.
Buyers and sellers in the housing market have many fees to consider when purchasing and selling a home. One of the costs, closing fees, can be confusing to understand who pays for the fee. Learn more about closing costs when buying or selling a property.
Closing fees can be present for both buyers and sellers. Typically, the buyer is faced with more line-item expenses than the seller (who typically pay more). Most buyers are getting loans to make the purchase of a home and many charges stem from the loan itself. A buyer should receive something called a loan estimate form early on in the sale process. The document spells out all approximate costs a buyer will face when making the purchase of a home so there are no surprises at closing. Some buyers may use the information on the loan estimate to shop for different lenders, interest rates and costs.
Flood certification fee
Tax servicing fee
Credit report fee
Bank processing fee
It is prudent to go through all listed fees line by line with the mortgage professional to understand what the fees include and how they apply to the loan. Aside from expenses of getting a loan or buying a home, some expenses (such as property taxes or HOA fees) are pro-rated and paid at the time of closing. If an individual is buying a home and closes toward the end of the property tax period, it is likely the person will need to pay the balance of taxes upfront. This also includes prepaid loan interest. If a person closes toward the end of the month, the lender may ask for first month's payment up front.
Part of the negotiation on a home sale can include asking the seller to pick up some of the closing costs as part of the negotiation. Credit for $5,000 reduction in purchase price can save a fair bit of money in the closing costs up front, even if it only saves a little bit monthly over the life of the loan.
The seller will usually bear the biggest brunt of fees: the real estate commission. Commission is based on a percentage of total sale price. In addition to real estate commission, sellers may have to pay the balance of property taxes, if it has not already been done, as well as any prorated homeowners association dues.
It can pay big dividends to pay attention to closing costs so as not to get charged fees which can be negotiated or lowered. Any real estate agent will be happy to work with individuals and families on home closing paperwork to provide the most for overall satisfaction.
Remodeling a home can be stressful whether it includes a room or a full addition. Five distinct stages exist which a homeowner experiences while remodeling: planning, budgeting, demolition, construction and cleanup. If a homeowner stays focused on the goals of a remodel, it is possible to feel less anxious and more excited as each step progresses closer to the end goal.
The main goal when starting out is to stay organized. Remodeling projects and home additions are challenging depending on the size and budget of a project. Start by listing 'must-haves' and stick to the product list to stay on budget and schedule. A minor change can cause delays.
Receive written estimates from licensed contractors, architects and designers. Resist the temptation of going with the first referral. Ask friends, family and others to provide names of people who assisted with similar remodels or additions and what the people paid for the work. Unless cash is set aside, an individual may be looking to pull financing from the home in the form of a home equity loan or refinancing opportunity. Depending on current equity in the home and interest rates, refinancing may be a better option. The project may increase the value of the home by more than its cost.
Remove walls, wiring, carpet and flooring to get started in the demo phase. This remodeling phase is tough, dirty and gritty work but if people do it without help it can save alot of money to go back into the project for other amenities. It may be the shortest phase of the remodeling process but can wreak havoc on the home if a person is ill prepared.
Large projects such as a kitchen remodel or new addition might require a family to move out of the home to complete. Sometimes electricity, heat or water must be turned off to complete projects for a few days. If this does not work, find family, friends or a hotel to stay at while things are completed.
Cleaning up the mess from remodeling can be labor-intensive but doing it without outside help can offset costs. If time is a factor, it may be more beneficial to hire outside contractors for clean up. Once all the dust and debris is removed, decoration can begin on the newly renovated and remodeled home.
It may make sense to consider energy-efficient and eco-friendly products during the remodeling process. Many products such as appliances, windows, HVAC, front entry and garage doors offer tax rebates and savings on utility bills. A wide range of high-quality and affordable products are available. Check efficiency ratings of appliances and light fixtures to see what can be done and consider it a long-term investment into the home.
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Companies are working hard to bring in extra money for business all the time. Airlines are charging for extras which used to be free (baggage, extra leg room, snacks) and food companies are putting less in packaging for the same or even a higher cost. The bottom line has become more important than meeting consumer needs, in some cases. Consumers may forget this fact when signing a lease for a home. Renters may feel reasonable fees are charged to lease space but forget about itemized charges for utilities and other amenities which add to the total cost. A competitive rental market has driven prices higher than ever before in many urban markets. Learn more about the hidden costs and fees associated with leases and what to look for before signing a lease on the dotted line.
Tenants tend to overlook amenities and utilities in a lease in a desire to either renew a lease or move into a new apartment. The overall cost of a property can become more than was bargained for if a consumer is not careful. Landlord/tenant laws in each state govern how utilities are billed and what recourse is available when payments are missed or shutoffs occur. Utilities may be included in the overall charge yet other times tenants must pay electric or gas bills. Third-party billing happens when an entire building is metered and the landlord splits charges among all tenants in the building, then bills individually. The charges are usually an add-on the rental charge.
Third-party billing is seen by some states as a deceptive practice. Ordinances such as one in Seattle, cover all residents living in buildings with three or more units to protect tenants from fraudulent overcharging practices. Some questions can be asked of a landlord prior to signing a lease. The following are just a few a tenant may ask about add-on fees:
Ask about utility service before signing a lease
Set up utility accounts quickly
Pay utility bills promptly and document payments
Take steps to protect self from landlord
Act immediately for better dispute resolution
Landlords in a competitive rental market may increase fees based on supply and demand which is cause for even more awareness around hidden fees. Additional fees may include:
Separate parking fee
Application fee (with approval or not)
Condos or HOAs may charge move-in fees for tenant-occupied units
Cable TV, internet may be billed through HOA or the landlord
Security deposit payments
Pre-paid fees (first and last month's rent due on move-in)
The best way to protect oneself in the rental market is to be a savvy consumer, know rights afforded tenants and don't sign anything without asking questions and reading the paperwork. Advocacy organizations and state agencies provide information to consumers. Lawyers are also available who specialize in landlord/tenant law to provide support and dispute resolution.
Get more advice on spotting those hidden costs in your lease.
Contact one of our agents today.
Purchasing a second home can be a big step. Whether seeking a cabin in the woods, a getaway beach home or modern condo in the city, buying another property is a big decision. Here's how to know if now is the time to buy.
Assessment of personal finances is critical in determining whether to purchase a second home. Beyond the cost of a second mortgage are other financial issues such as what interest is charged on a second mortgage. It may also depend if the home will be rented out as lenders consider rental properties a higher risk than those listed as primary residences. Other factors may include:
Ongoing costs such as utilities (water, electric, gas, trash removal, etc)
Unexpected maintenance charges such as landscaping
Cost to hire a property manage to check on the property while away
Having a property by the beach may sound great but it may not be a great investment. Some things to consider include:
Ability to visit the second home as often as desired
If not used as a rental, will home get used enough to make it worth the investment
Decide where is the ideal location before buying and whether it is affordable versus the time that will be spent using the property before purchase
Chat with the insurance company to see what is next after finding the general area in which to buy a second home. Begin by speaking with the current insurer with whom a relationship is already established. A better rate may be available for multiple lines (existing home, cars, etc). Better rates may not necessarily be more inexpensive. If potential new property is prone to flooding, insurance rates may be higher. Homes with swimming pools also have higher rates as do pools with no fence or gate which may not have coverage available at all.
After all possible expenses are accounted for and a neighborhood is identified, contact a real estate agent to get started. Once settled, soak in the benefits of the new home. A vacation in the comfort of one's own home is a true luxury. When time is spent with family and friends in the new home, the cost savings will become apparent compared to vacation rentals. Privacy and no crowds (like in hotels) are another added bonus of having one's own property. Financial benefits may exist in the long term even if the property is not rented out. Tax benefits may help lessen the financial burden. A vacation home is a space to unwind, relax and enjoy time with loved ones. Soak it in and enjoy the new home.
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Whether a first-time buyer or one with experience, inventory is slim but lots of competition exists which can lead to a frustrating seller's market. Quick, easy sales are best for buyers. Sellers and buyers can benefit from some of the following tips for maximizing home selling and buying and the current competitive market.
The following tips will help any person selling a home or purchasing know what to look for when stepping into the current market.
Seller: Prepare, inspect, disclose and plan ahead. The market is less forgiving if a person makes a mistake. A home which goes 'back on the market' may mean less money in an eventual sale. Holding onto the first buyer is critical. Put issues out front for potential buyer. Be prepared to disclose any issues such as a leaking roof or other defects that may kill the deal before it is sealed.
Buyer: Be ready to move. Buyers are aggressive, motivated and ready to go. To compete with the market, be serious about becoming a homeowner. When a desirable listing pops up, make time to go see the property as it may not be available for long. With a seriously motivated seller, the buyer make work with the seller and take it off the market which leads to disappointment for other potential buyers who missed the boat.
Seller: Have a strategy. Don't move too quickly on an offer if others may come in. Work with a reputable agent who knows going in what to expect from the market (and prospective buyers). It may work to wait a week to 10 days, have more showings then review offers. It may also work to act on the offers that come in. The wrong approach may result in missing a better offer to come or lose momentum of the current (motivated) buyer.
Buyer: Win some, lose some. A few houses will go by the wayside before the right one comes along. Go with the flow to avoid frustration. Missing out can be a motivating factor to up the ante next time.
Seller: Know the competition. A smart seller will hit open houses well before homes hit the market. Pricing is key in a competitive market, especially with today's herd mentality. When someone wants a home, it must be desirable and have value to other people. Well-priced homes that show well grab immediate attention of buyers and sell faster (often for more money).
Real estate is not a cheap investment and the process can be stressful. Sellers and buyers need to be on top of the game to find success. Sellers have the advantage to plan in advance of going on the market. Buyers must be reactive and prepared to move on a dime. It may feel like a wild ride, but the home of one's dreams is worth fighting for in a hot market.
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