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Posted by Julie Shanks on 8/26/2018

Estimating the market value of your home isn't a precise science. There are several factors that go into assessing the value of a home and the process is complicated by changes in the market that can sway home prices in either direction. Since homes are so expensive and are such a huge investment, the pragmatist and worrier in us all wants it to be a clear cut decision backed up by facts. Unfortunately, no two people will ever arrive at precisely the same number for the value of a home. The good news is that you can use this ambiguity to your advantage when bargaining with prospective buyers. To learn more about the six main factors that determine a home's value, read on.

Condition

Homebuyers don't want to walk into what could be their new house and discover months of expensive repairs and upgrades waiting for them. Especially for busy, young professionals there is great appeal in a home that is move-in ready. If your home needs some work, it will knock off some digits from your asking price.

Location

We would all love to say that having a home near the ocean or the mountains is our top priority. But, let's face it--having a place that is close to your work and that is in a good school district will probably take precedence over our daydreams. Location factors that add value to your home could include close proximity to schools, shopping, highways, and other amenities. However, if your home is far away from them or is in a neighborhood that appears run-down or dangerous you will find the value of your home decreasing. An easy way to get a ballpark figure for your home value is to look up the value of other comparable homes in your neighborhood.

Age

Age is just a really expensive number. For some, buying an old home is a dream they've always had. Old homes have character and offer challenges when it comes to DIY repairs and renovations. For others, an old home means more headaches and more expensive utilities if it's drafty or outdated.

Features

Curb appeal is important, but once your prospective buyers are inside you'll have to keep them around with great, convenient household features. Lots of storage space, updated kitchens with new appliances, finished basements, or a beautiful backyard with a view can all add thousands to a home value.

Size

Square-footage is important to many homebuyers. In spite of the current trends around minimalism and being eco-friendly, the numbers show that Americans are buying increasingly larger homes and vehicles.

Market

You've probably heard the terms "buyer's market" and "seller's market" thrown around in conversations about real estate. They are essentially descriptions of the supply and demand of homes. Many buyers with few homes means you're in a seller's market, whereas a surplus of vacant homes and few prospective buyers means it's a buyer's market. This is closely tied to location, different cities and suburbs experience different rates of growth and decline depending on the local economy.




Tags: Real Estate   home   home value   value  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Julie Shanks on 2/18/2018

Being self-employed comes with a lot of perks. Self-employed workers often have the freedom to set their own schedule, work from home, and take breaks whenever they feel like it. They also have the ability to write things off as business expenses on their taxes. When it comes to buying a home, this last perk can become a huge problem. If you own your own business or work as a freelancer, odds are you'll be deducting things from your taxes that the average employee doesn't: travel expenses, advertising, licensing, equipment, repairs, or even rent for your office. When tax season rolls around, all of these deductions feel like a godsend. But if you plan on buying a home, all of these costs will appear as negative income. For people who spend a lot of money on their business or freelancing, it could do a lot of damage to your apparent income when lenders take a look at your finances. However, you do have options when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage that is to your liking. In this article, we'll cover some tips on how to apply for a mortgage when you're self employed to give yourself the best chance of approval.

Carefully document your income

When you sit down with a lender and hand them your proof if income, you want to make it as obvious as possible that you're earning money in a reliable and predictable way. Lenders will want to see multiple documents that can help paint a better picture of your income and finances, including:
  • Bank statements
  • Schedule C tax forms
  • Profit and loss tax forms
  • Completed tax returns
  • Credit score (they will run a credit check)

Separate your business and personal finances

If you own your own business, you likely have business banking accounts you use for expenses and invoices. But freelancers and contract workers often simplify things by just using their personal checking and savings accounts for income. To make things clear for lenders, you should put your income and business expenses into a separate business account. Not only will this make it easier for lenders to quantify your income, but they can also use this information to see that your expenses are for helping your business rather than personal spending.

Timing is everything

There are a number of factors that go into choosing the right time to apply for a mortgage. Being self-employed only complicates the matter since your income might not be as steady as your average wage worker. You'll want to commit to a mortgage at a time when you've had at least two consecutive years of good, reliable income. You'll need to prove this with the aforementioned documents (bank statements, tax forms, etc.). Part of this planning could be to avoid large business expenses in the two years leading up to your mortgage application. This isn't always possible, of course, but it could be enough to boost your apparent income to get you approved for a better loan.

Seek specialized lenders

Some lenders are aware that there is a large portion of the country made up of self-employed workers and small business owners. They go out of their way to work with people who are self-employed so they can give them fair deals on their mortgages. To find specialized lenders, you'll have to do some research online, but it could make all the difference when it comes to getting approved for the loan you're looking for.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Julie Shanks on 2/11/2018

It's no surprise that buying in bulk is cheaper. Manufacturers can offer you the same items with less packaging and fewer processing steps. Then, at the store, less time is required for employees to stock these items onto the shelves. Basically, bulk buying is a win-win for everybody. Knowing which items to buy in bulk, however, is a bit trickier. We would all buy everything in bulk if we had the storage space in our homes or a cart big enough at Walmart. There are certain home goods you can count on for always being smarter to buy in bulk. In this list, we'll cover the top bulk items that are worth the space in your closet and where to find them. 1. Toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins The trinity of paper items. These three purchases are always worth buying in bulk. Running out of them can range from an inconvenience to an emergency, so it's good to have plenty stocked up. The undisputed champion when it comes to buying toilet paper is Costco. However, most warehouse clubs also have good deals. If you'd rather spend a bit more and not have to carry a huge box to your car, Amazon also has some good deals on these three paper goods. 2. Liquid hand soap and body wash Those tiny bottles of liquid hand soap won't get you very far and can be quite pricey. If you have a favorite, odds are you can find a large jug of it on Amazon to refill your smaller bottles as needed. 3. Tupperware One good set of tupperware will outlast 5 cheap plastic sets. That said, you can still get a good deal on a large set of tupperware and it's worth it if you pack lunches in advance or have a large family. Amazon is also the price to beat when it comes to plasticware. 4. Batteries One item that typically isn't cheaper online is batteries. Walmart is the place to buy large packs of batteries. If you really need to have a lot of them on hand, however, it will probably save you much more money in the long run to buy some good rechargeable batteries, especially AAs. 5. Diapers If you're a parent, you've most likely noticed the magical disappearing properties of diapers. A full box of diapers seems to vanish into thin air within a couple days time. Frugal parents have found that off-brand diapers, such as Target's Up & Up diapers, are high quality and much more affordable than name brand options. Alternatively, Amazon Mom will help you save on gas and on diapers, and offers many other baby-related goods as well. 6. Over the counter medications First, go generic--it will save you a ton of money on non-prescription meds. As to where the best place to buy medications, consumer reports show that Costco and Sam's Club are the cheapest, whereas drug stores like CVS, Rite Aid are the most expensive.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Julie Shanks on 4/9/2017

Gold in the BankOur homes contain almost everything of value to us. In a way, your home is like a giant safe that you want to protect from break-ins, floods and fires. Unfortunately, you can't always be one-hundred percent sure that everything in your home is protected from these hazards. For an added layer of security for your most important belongings, buying a home safe is an excellent option. However, there are many different types of safes across a large price range. Knowing which one fits your needs but also your budget can be complicated. What's more, deciding what items you own should be kept in a safe is a process all of its own. But we've got you covered. In this article, we'll talk about the types of safes and some items you should keep inside of them.

Safe Categories

Not all safes are created with the same purpose. Some may be designed for you to be able to open from your smart phone, whereas others are created from an everyday object, such as a book, to be hidden in plain sight. Others might be small and fireproof but not very effective against burglars who can easily carry them out of your home. When shopping a safe and thinking about size, remember that you should probably buy a safe that is a bit larger than your current needs since you will probably someday add items to your safe.   Here are the main types of safe to help you choose which one is right for you:
  • Water-tight and fire resistant. If you have important documents, jewelry, or electronics that you want to keep secure, a weatherproof safe is the way to go. For added security against floods, keep the safe away from areas that are prone to water damage like basements. These are the most common safes and are a great choice.
  • Diversion. Diversion safes often only have minimal security measures (locks), if any at all. Their main strength is that they can be hidden in plain sight, such as being a book inside a bookshelf.
  • Wall-installed. You've probably seen this type in the movies. They are installed into a wall and can be hidden behind objects. These have the advantage of being hidden like a diversion safe, but also use thick metal and complex locking mechanisms. But be prepared to pay a hefty price for all those features.
  • Anti-burglary. These safes are very difficult to break open. They have complex locks and thick metal with few vulnerabilities.
  • Object-specific safe. Some safes are designed just for weapons, others designed just for jewelry.

What to keep safe

Generally speaking, anything of value to you that isn't easy to replace can be kept in a safe. Depending on how easy it is to access your safe and how often you use the item, you may decide it's simpler to leave the item out of the safe. However, you can always use the safe to secure backups of documents and files. Here are some ideas for items to keep in your safe:
  • Passports
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social security card
  • Spare keys
  •  Wills
  • Flash drive containing important photos and documents
  • Important passwords
  • Jewelry
  • Family heirlooms
  • Weapons and other dangerous objects
 




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Julie Shanks on 9/4/2016

Having different types of birds in your yard is a great way to add a bit of nature to your house. With their unique plumage and songs, birds will offer you interesting sights and sounds. However, you’ll need to offer them a few things in return. To attract a variety of birds to your yard you’ll need to make it the most desirable place in the neighborhood to be. Here’s a guide to help you attract a large variety of birds to your yard and to keep them coming back each year.

Choosing your feeders

When choosing a bird feeder there are a few traits your looking for. It should be strong enough to withstand the weather and sealed tightly to keep the seeds dry. You’ll want a feeder that is big enough to hold a variety of seeds and is relatively low-maintenance. Hanging tray feeders are the most common type, and for good reason. They attract a variety of birds and are easy to fill and clean. A good tray feeder has a drainage system in the tray to keep seeds dry, which means you should buy a feeder with a mesh bottom instead of solid. For nectar-seeking birds like hummingbirds, you’ll want a few small feeders rather than one large one. Keep it in a well lit area near some flowers to attract the hummingbirds. They’re attracted to bright colors to look for nectar and your fake-flower feeders will seem like a good source if they’re surrounded by the real thing. If you want to view birds from inside your home, window feeders are a great option. Window feeders suction right to your window and will offer you a close-up view of the birds who will slowly get used to you being on the other side of the glass.

Keeping the squirrels away

Putting out plenty of bird feeders won’t just attract birds. Squirrels, too love to eat the various seeds that are found in feeders. You have a couple options when it comes to squirrels. First, you can just accept them as part of the nature of your yard. They, too can be fun to watch and are just looking for something to eat like the birds. If inviting squirrels into your yard isn’t something you can live with, you could try deterring them with a squirrel baffle. Squirrel baffles wrap around the pole your feeder is on preventing the squirrel from climbing up to the tray. However, some crafty squirrels can still find their way through.

It takes more than seed

Just having bird seed isn’t enough to provide for birds. Having lots of trees and water is also a good way to keep the birds around. Bird baths are one option. But there are other creative ways to attract birds to your yard like a small natural pool or waterfall. Having a bubbler on your water source is also a great way to bring more birds to your yard as they will be attracted to the sound of the running water. Add these features to your yard and soon the local birds will find it an irresistible place to spend time.




Tags: home   bird feeding   yard   backyard   birds   feeder  
Categories: Uncategorized