Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb Appeal

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb AppealAttractive landscaping is one of the first things that potential home buyers notice. They may see the landscaping in the photos of a home for sale or may even do a physical drive-by. The view of the property from the street is called “curb appeal.” It is important to make this be as nice as possible.

In many parts of the country, there are pressures on the water supply that make having a lush-green, living lawn very costly or even prohibited by the local regulations. Innovative technology and the use of natural ground covers, such as stone and rocks are replacing the green lawns that most people think of when considering landscaping a home properly.

Here is a guide to some landscaping that is attractive and worth considering to make a home look spectacular and require little maintenance:

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has improved dramatically over the past few years. There is no longer the need to use the obvious green plastic covering of cheap fake grass. The newest artificial turf products look so much like real grass that it is nearly impossible to tell that they are not real. They can be installed over drainage rock and washed down with water like real grass.

Decorative Concrete

Molded concrete is now available in so many surface treatments, textures, and colors that it can represent almost any popular covering. For example, a nice European-style, cobbled-stone, street look is a popular choice for driveways and walkways. It is made out of molded, colored concrete, not stone, and installs easily.

Rock And Stone

Replacing areas of grass in the front yard with decorative rock and stone makes a nice look. It is better not to use wide swathes of this ground covering in big blocks. Instead, for a better aesthetic appeal, use natural rock and stone to create unique, eye-catching areas. For example, surrounding a wishing well with a nice circular area of rock pebbles creates a nice look.

Artificial Trees And Bushes

Advancements in the manufacturing of artificial bushes and trees developed very convincing products that are durable enough for exterior installation. Some best looking ones are the evergreen bushes.

They come in perfect heights of various sizes. They never need watering or trimming to make them look attractive. The only maintenance that they need is the occasional spray washing to remove dust and things that might fall on them like leaves from neighbor?s trees.

There are many to choose from. The modest-sized bushes are very inexpensive and usually less than $50 each. At the other end of the spectrum, are the exotic 11-feet tall artificial cheery trees that have built-in LED illumination. These are very dramatic and cost many thousands.

Summary

With these interesting ideas to consider, take a look at landscaping in a new way. Even though artificial landscaping requires an upfront investment, it can last for many years and may reduce overall maintenance costs significantly. If you ever want to sell the home, there will be much less landscaping needed to get it ready for sale.

Why Most People Use A Real Estate Agent Or Broker To Buy A Property

Why Most People Use A Real Estate Agent Or Broker To Buy A PropertyOne might wonder if the continued improvement in the access to online information about properties for sale has removed the need for working with a qualified real estate agent or broker. It has not.

The trends reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) are interesting. Buyers are finding a home to purchase by searching online in larger numbers than before. In the NAR survey of homebuyers, the home was found online by the buyer for more than half of the homes purchased, with only 28% of the homes purchased suggested to the buyer by a real estate agent.

Even so, NAR also reports that 87% of buyers made their home purchase with the help of a real estate agent or broker. This trend is increasing. In 2001, only 69% of home buyers bought a home with the involvement of a real estate agent or broker. Why the upward trend of working with a real estate professional when buying a home?

The explanation is surprising. One is the cost of buying a home that is for sale by owner (FSBO) may be very close to the price of the same type of home bought with the help of a real estate agent. An FSBO home sale may put a little more money in the pockets of the seller but little of that savings on the real estate commission goes to the buyer. Moreover, the FSBO process creates a disadvantage when trying to market a home without a real estate professional’s help. These trends are making FSBO properties decrease.

Additionally, using a real estate professional may help the transaction go more smoothly. A real estate agent handles the buying and selling of properties all the time. A homebuyer does this less often and therefore may not have the skills to manage a real estate transaction effectively.

Summary

When buying a home, it is the preference of the vast majority of buyers to work with a real estate professional. The process is likely to be easier with less chance of costly mistakes. The price paid for the home will likely be around the same as trying to close a deal without the benefit of using a real estate agent.

For sellers of a home, working with a professional real estate agent comes along with advice about market pricing, how to stage a home for better resale value, and the benefits of using effective marketing strategies that get the home seen by more prospective buyers.

For buyers and sellers, it becomes clear that working with a real estate agent is vastly preferable. This is why so many are using the services of a licensed professional to buy or sell a home.

The 5 Best Power Tools For Home Improvement On The Market Today

The 5 Best Power Tools For Home Improvement On The Market TodayFor most people, their home is the most valuable investment they are ever going to make. Therefore, it should make sense that people will want to improve its value over time. In this case, people are going to need to invest in power tools. Those who are interested in home improvement projects need to know about the five most important power tools available in today’s market.

A Power Drill

While this might seem obvious, many people do not own a power drill. This is almost always at the top of the list of the best power tools on the market. It is a versatile tool that can handle everything from hanging pictures to putting in a fence. People need to make sure they know about the various options for drills on the market and find the one that is right for their needs.

A Jigsaw

A jigsaw is a unique but versatile saw that can help people with a variety of home improvement projects. This type of saw is great for helping people cut shapes and curves as well as straight lines. Try to find a jigsaw that has a variety of orbital settings. This will provide the user with added accuracy and speed.

A Circular Saw

This is another saw that is important for homeowners to have. This is great for heavier cutting jobs. They have the ability to cut through thick materials easily. There are both cordless and corded options and they pack a punch. Cordless varieties are a bit heavier but they provide the user with access to tight spaces

A Cordless Screwdriver

Traditional screwdrivers can pose a bit of a challenge and get uncomfortable over time. This is where a cordless screwdriver is helpful. This removes a significant amount of effort and makes projects go by more quickly. These screws can be used to both tighten and loosen screws.

A Rotary Tool

Finally, a great power rotary tool is a must. This is used to help people with cutting, grinding, sanding, and more. This is great for performing a variety of tasks around the home and can help people with numerous accessories. Do not overlook the value of a powerful rotary tool.

Home Maintenance Projects That Could Save You Thousands On Repairs

Home Maintenance Projects That Could Save You Thousands On RepairsOwning a house comes with major responsibilities and one of the most important is routine maintenance. While many people like to skip routine maintenance in an effort to save money, the reality is that these routine maintenance is going to save people down the road. The reality is that maintenance is a homeowner’s first line of defense when it comes to protecting their most valuable investment, which is their home.

There are a few projects that may save homeowners thousands of dollars down the road.

Inspect The Plumbing Connections

It is easy to forget about the plumbing system because many people don’t even see their pipes until problems arise. The idea behind expecting the plumbing system is that problems can be spotted before they cause a house to flood. Some of the appliances that people need to think about include refrigerators, faucets, dishwashers, and washing machines. All of these devices have hoses that connect to the water supply.

If these hoses tart to crack, leaks can develop slowly. Eventually, this water is going to get behind the walls, causing mold to grow, and it may also get underneath the floors, causing them to warp. It is important for people to take a look at these pipes from time to time. If leaks are identified, they can be repaired.

Clean The Dryer Ducts And Vents

Many homeowners overlook their ductwork; however, people need to take the time open up their dryers and change their filters between every load. The vents that people use to remove lint from their clothes will clog up quickly. If the dryer is unable to suck air through this vent, it is going to have to work harder to dry the clothes. This is going to cause the dryer to overheat. It might even lead to a housefire. In order to prevent this from happening, homeowners should change their dryer lint filters after every load.

Routine Maintenance Is Critical

These are a few of the most important points that homeowners need to remember when it comes to routine maintenance. Homeowners need to have a regular schedule that they follow to ensure that none of these tasks are overlooked. It can prevent disaster from happening.

3 Ways To Make Your Home Safer

3 Ways To Make Your Home SaferIn the wake of the recent news reports, you might be looking for ways to make your home safer. Some of the most common accidents and events that take place in homes include poisoning events, falls, and even burglaries. The good news is that there are ways to improve the safety of your home. You might even be rewarded with a lower home insurance premium!

Invest In An Alarm System

It is not easy to figure out exactly how many burglaries are prevented every year by having an alarm system; however, even having a sign in the front yard could be enough to scare off potential intruders. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to make your home safer, invest in a home alarm system. 

The price of a home alarm system from vary from provider to provider. Homeowners can tailor their security services to meet their needs. This is a great way to keep burglars at bay.

Purchase A Video Doorbell System

There has even been a rise in the frequency of porch pirates, or those who steal the packages of others from their front door! If you are someone who buys a lot of stuff online, then you should get a video doorbell to watch your packages when they get dropped off.

Furthermore, you can even use this video doorbell system to see who ringing your doorbell when you aren’t home. In some cases, you can even communicate with them, providing them instructions, or asking them to leave when necessary.

Buy Automatic Outdoor Lighting Systems

Lights are often enough to scare people away. There are plenty of motion sensor lights that you can purchase for your driveway, porch, and front door. These lights can even be set to turn off when the sun comes up to save energy. 

Keep Your Home Safe

These are a few of the easiest ways that you can make your home safer. If you take steps to keep burglars at bay, not only will you protect your home but you might even save some money on home insurance! 

5 Benefits of Using A Real Estate Agent When Buying Or Selling A Home

5 Benefits of Using A Real Estate Agent When Buying Or Selling A HomeIt may come as a surprise for some people to learn that not everyone uses a real estate agent when buying or selling a home. Whenever someone is looking to move, it is critical to rely on the experience of a real estate agent. There are a few benefits that everyone should keep in mind.

Tips For Price Guidance

The price is one of the most challenging aspects of either buying or selling a home. A trained real estate agent spends his or her days looking at the prices of homes that are bought and sold in the local area.

Therefore, real estate agents can help someone sell a home both quickly and at the right price. If homes are left on the market for too long, prospective buyers might think that something is wrong with the house. This may make the home harder to sell.

Networking In The Real Estate Industry

Next, hiring professional real estate agent is important for accessing the professional network. Real estate agents typically have access to appraisers and inspectors who will be able to do a quick, easy, and cost-effective evaluation of the home. This will help the homeowner determine whether or not any repairs are necessary to get the house ready to sell.

Appropriate Financing Options

A real estate agent can also guide a prospective buyer through the financing options. There are lots of options when it comes to purchasing a home. A real estate agent can help someone review his or her options, helping a client find the right financing option for them.

Exposure For A Home Sale

One of the major benefits of working with a real estate agent is access to something called the Multiple Listing Service. This is a service where the vast majority of real estate agents list homes that are for sale. This will help any house being sold gain more exposure. The more exposure, the more potential offers, helping a house sell for a higher price.

Handling The Paperwork

One of the most often overlooked benefits of working with a real estate agent is help with the paperwork. The paperwork required to buy or sell a home can be significant. A real estate agent knows how to get through this paperwork quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

How to Buy An Investment Property

How to Buy An Investment PropertyIt is important for everyone to take steps to diversify their assets. While many people take this to mean holding multiple stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in the market, this also includes branching out into the real estate industry. The real estate industry is far more stable than the stock market and provides a fantastic opportunity to generate reliable returns. At the same time, there are lots of options to choose from when it comes to investment properties.

Here are a few tips everyone should keep in mind.

Buying And Renting

One option is to purchase a single-family home as a second building and then rent it out. On the other hand, it is also possible to purchase a multi-unit property and rent out each individual unit. One of the biggest factors to keep in mind is that the owner is going to be responsible for collecting deposits, checking the backgrounds of potential tenants, conducting repairs, and completing maintenance tasks.

If the property is located in a desirable area, it is possible for someone to collect enough rent to cover the cost of the mortgage and more. At the same time, it is also possible that someone might end up spending a considerable amount of time managing the property. It might be a solid idea to hire a property management company; however, this will eat away at the revenue. These are a few of the key factors to think about.

Flipping Houses

Another option real estate investors can consider is flipping houses. In this process, someone buys a home (which is often in a state of disrepair and inexpensive), repairs it, and then sells the home for a profit. It is also possible that someone might end up spending a significant amount of time and money renovating the home, which might eat away at any financial gains. Be sure to know exactly what repairs and renovations the home is going to need before buying.

A Real Estate Investment Trust

Sometimes, it might be too much for someone to buy individual properties. One possible option is called a real estate investment trust (REIT). This is a company that owns numerous big properties that generate incomes. Therefore, these trusts are often compared to mutual funds in the stock market but for real estate. Different REITs specialize in different areas, so there are lots to choose from.

If you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

How To Find Places To Buy Rental Investment Properties

How To Find Places To Buy Rental Investment PropertiesReal estate, which is a rental property, has the unique characteristic under the tax code of being able to depreciate it and pretend the asset is going down in value, while, if you are a clever investor, you will acquire property that actually increases in value. Additionally, there are other tax advantages for owning a rental property that can help shelter income.

Positive Cash Flow

The key to success with a real estate investment portfolio of rental properties is to build value while it is self-sustainable. Have the goal of creating positive cash flow from every owned property. Making $100 per month positive cash flow from a single property may not sound like much until you multiply that by 25 properties. A portfolio with those characteristics makes a nice passive income of $2,500 per month or $30,000 per year.

Leverage

Using leverage increases the return on investment (ROI) as long as you choose properties that are cash-positive enough to cover their carrying costs and do not lose value over time. The lower the amount of your money that you invest, the greater the leverage you have and the higher your ROI will be.

Finding Rental Income Property

Commercial rental income property is more challenging so it is best to focus on residential rental properties, especially when starting to build up a real estate portfolio. The things you want to look for when hunting for residential rental properties are a manageable median price for the area, an area that is showing steady annual appreciation in home values, and an area that is stable with no severe negative challenges now or in the foreseeable future.

City Opportunities

It is possible to find properties that are excellent investments in many parts of the United States. Here are some examples of cities that currently have investment opportunities so you can consider them and compare them to your location.

Here are the top ten residential rental markets as ranked by TurboTenant for 2020:

1. Reading, PA

Median Sales Price $140,000 — Annual Increase 11.1% — Average Rent $957

2. District Heights, MD

Median Sales Price $252,000 — Annual Increase 0.4% — Average Rent $1,408

3. Allentown, PA

Median Sales Price $145,000 — Annual Increase 19.0% — Average Rent $1,063

4. East Orange, NJ

Median Sales Price $273,000 — Annual Increase 10.0% — Average Rent $1,534

5. Nashua, NH

Median Sales Price $283,000 — Annual Increase 4.5% — Average Rent $1,524

6. Cincinnati, OH

Median Sales Price $163,000 — Annual Increase 3.1% — Average Rent $1,048

7. Paterson, N.J

Median Sales Price $268,000 — Annual Increase 11.9% — Average Rent $1,614

8. New Castle, DE

Median Sales Price $188,000 — Annual Increase 8% — Average Rent $1,884

9. Rochester, NY

Median Sales Price $136,000 — Annual Increase 5.6% — Average Rent $1,126

10. Hyattsville, MD

Median Sales Price $279,000 — Annual Increase 0.4% — Average Rent $1,982

Summary

It is possible to find cash-flow positive properties in all of these markets, so they are all excellent examples of what to look for when you are hunting for a residential rental property to acquire. Be sure to work with a qualified local REALTOR® who knows the market well that you are considering as well as your trusted home mortgage professional.

Common Problems Faced By New Homeowners

Common Problems Faced By New HomeownersBuying a new home is a big step for individuals and families. This is a time for celebration as the new furniture gets moved in, everyone gets adjusted, and the honeymoon phase starts with the new home. On the other hand, buying a home also means that all of the responsibilities rest with the owners.

Here are a few common problems that new homeowners face.

Taking Care Of The Outside

Many homeowners are quick to realize that there is a tremendous amount of maintenance on the outside of the home. Now, the exterior is their responsibility and doesn’t fall on a landlord. Sure, it can be helpful to hire someone; however, this can be expensive.

Some of the common questions that homeowners have include how frequently they should water the lawn. There might also be questions regarding which type of fertilizer and when they should use this. Also, the issues caused by weeds can be substantial. When in doubt about these issues, simply reach out to a professional and ask for help. Someone is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Plumbing Issues Are Common

It is important to do a home inspection before buying a home. This will let the potential buyer know about any repairs they might be inheriting. Some of the common issues have to do with the plumbing system.

One of the most common issues has to do with clogs. Sometimes, the clog takes place in the sink when someone tries to force food down the drain. In other situations, toilets might get clogged if something other than toilet paper gets flushed down the toilet. While a basic plunger is a great place to start, it is also prudent to invest in some drain cleaner and a snake.

The Lights Go Out

Sometimes, people are shocked to see the power go out during a storm. In some cases, the power company may need to come out and handle the repairs. In other situations, it might be a tripped circuit breaker. When the power goes out, head to the circuit breaker and take a look at any fuses that might be turned off. Unplug some of the appliances and then turn the circuit breaker back on! This might do the trick, but if it goes out again, call an electrician.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

Home Improvements That May Improve Resale Value

Home Improvements That May Improve Resale ValueDid you know that some home improvements lower the resale value of a home and decrease the number of potential buyers? If you are going to repaint the exterior of your home bright, traffic-cone orange and try to sell it for a high price, think again! Maybe, if the artist Pablo Picasso once lived there that might work, but probably not under any other circumstances.

Some things are counter-intuitive. A swimming pool is an example. Swimming pools are great and highly desirable for many people. However, others do not necessarily think so and only see them as adding unnecessary expenses for maintenance and upkeep.

There are general guidelines to follow, which give you a better chance to increase the resale value of a home by making certain improvements. If possible, work with your REALTOR® who understands the local real estate market conditions before making decisions about investing in renovations to increase a home’s resale value.

Be aware that the industry averages show a percentage of recoupment of the investment and no renovations make back what they cost, in terms of increased resale value. This means you should only consider renovations that you like for other reasons as well as the potential financial impact on the home’s value. The only way to profit from renovations is to do some work yourself.

Renovations — Partial Recoupment In Resale Value

Here are the top ten things to consider with their average installation cost, average increased resale amount, and the average recoupment percentage as ranked by Remodeling in the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report:

1. Manufactured Stone Veneer (applied to the front of the home)

Installation Cost $9,357 — Increased Resale Amount $8,943 — Recoupment 96%

2. Garage Door Replacement

Installation Cost $3,695 — Increased Resale Amount $3,491 — Recoupment 94%

3. Fiber Cement Siding (applied to the exterior of the home)

Installation Cost $17,008 — Increased Resale Amount $13,195 — Recoupment 78%

4. Vinyl Siding (applied to the exterior of the home)

Installation Cost $14,359 — Increased Resale Amount $10,731 — Recoupment 75%

5. Vinyl Windows (double-pane)

Installation Cost $17,461 — Increased Resale Amount $12,761 — Recoupment 72%

6. Wooden Deck

Installation Cost $14,360 — Increased Resale Amount $10,355 — Recoupment 72%

7. Wood Windows (double-pane)

Installation Cost $21,495 — Increased Resale Amount $14,804 — Recoupment 69%

8. Steel Entry Door

Installation Cost $1,881 — Increased Resale Amount $1,294 — Recoupment 69%

9. Composite Deck

Installation Cost $19,856 — Increased Resale Amount $13,257 — Recoupment 67%

10. Asphalt-Shingled Roof

Installation Cost $24,700 — Increased Resale Amount $16,287 — Recoupment 66%

The runner-ups, with their recoupment percentages, are remodeling the bathroom (62%), metal roofing (61%), a kitchen remodel (59%), a bedroom addition (59%), and a bathroom addition (55%).

Summary

Notice that the top ten items that make the most positive impact on the resale price are all exterior projects and most of them are visible from the front of the home. The wise adage of “curb appeal sells” seems to be true when it comes to renovations that generally improve resale value.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.