How To Deal With Summer Pests

For many people, summer is supposed to be the ideal time to relax. Unfortunately, summer also comes with a few annoyances — namely, pests and overbearing heat. Fortunately, if they’re dealt with effectively, you can still enjoy your summer.

Different types of bugs have different living conditions. That can make it hard to cover for every single type, but it becomes easier if you know why they’re coming. Dealing with fruit flies and dust mites can be made easier by simply cleaning, but there are also more specific things you can do. Fruit flies are attracted to overripe fruits, and dust mites like high humidity. There’s also a trick for mosquitoes — they can’t fly well in windy weather, so you can use fans as a substitute to deter them.

As for the stifling heat, it may be that some rooms are hotter than others. In fact, this is probably the case even if your AC isn’t on — but it’s especially the case if your AC is on and there’s a problem with it. Your ducts may not be properly sealed, or the fan may not be working right. If applicable, direct more cool air to upstairs areas, since the heat rises. The heat can also cause issues for doors, as heat and humidity can cause wood to expand. This could make your doors stick or jam. You may need to adjust weather stripping, or possibly even shave the door down.

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What Type Of Roof Is Best For You?

Obviously, a roof is a very important thing to have. After all, the term “a roof over your head” is often used to represent the entire house. But most people only consider whether or not their roof is in good condition. They don’t think about what kind of roof best suits their needs.

Different roofing materials have different advantages. Which is right for you depends which factors are most important to you. Are you looking for something durable that will last a long time? Try metal or slate roofing. Metal roofing is increasing in popularity due to its longevity and customizability options, but slate roofs do last a fair bit longer, and are still considered visually appealing despite a lack of color options. Do you just want the most cost-effective option? Look no further than asphalt shingles, which are one of the cheapest roofing materials and can be replaced individually if damaged, rather than replacing the entire roof. Perhaps you’re into energy efficiency and eco-friendliness? Wood shingles and shakes can be sustainably sourced and have natural insulation, and tile roofs are energy efficient as well, while also resisting weather conditions, fire, rot, and insects and coming in a variety of colors and patterns.

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Which Factors Most Influence Home Values?

There are a significant number of factors that could potentially affect what your home is worth. It can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly how much buyers are likely to be willing to pay, even for experts. This is especially true in a changing economic climate. However, there are a few factors that can give a pretty good idea of a home’s value.

The first thing an agent will look at to determine a home’s value is recent sales of similar properties in the same or a similar area. This is called a comparative market analysis (CMA), and is the primary method of predicting home values. Unless the economy is particularly unstable, a home similar to yours in a similar area that sold recently probably sold for approximately as much as your home is worth. Looking at currently listed properties can help, but it’s looking at actual sales that is more valuable, because you know at least one buyer definitely was willing to pay that much, otherwise the sale would not have happened.

The reason CMAs look at specifically the same or similar areas is that prices vary extremely widely by neighborhood. Schools, shopping centers, public transportation and recreational facilities can significantly enhance a home’s desirability. On the other hand, high crime rates or noise pollution may detract from a property’s appeal. And it’s important to note that a similar area doesn’t necessarily mean a nearby area. Neighboring communities could be vastly different from one another, but there could be another neighborhood a bit farther away that has more features in common.

But the research isn’t done as soon as a CMA is complete. It may be difficult to find exact matches for your property, particularly when the market is slow. Granted, if you live in tract housing, this can be slightly easier — but only if other properties in the same tract have been sold recently. To combat this, agents adjust the value to account for differences between the comparative properties and your own property. This can include age of the property, condition, and upgrades, as well as property size, lot size, and features.

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How To Prepare For Moving Day

You may think that if you hire movers to do your moving for you, you can just sit back and relax while they take care of everything. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Even if you choose to make your next move with professional movers, there will still be plenty to do on moving day while the professionals do the heavy lifting.

Some of the work can and should be done ahead of time, but you still need to make sure it’s settled by moving day. This includes making a plan for kids or pets, establishing where the movers should park, and ensuring the movers have access to everywhere they will need to reach. You may also want to set aside some items that you intend to transport yourself, whether it’s because you don’t want them to break, you don’t want them stolen, or you simply want to retain access to them during the moving process.

You can’t rest when the moving process begins, either. It’s true that you don’t want to get in the way of the movers doing their job. And obviously, the best way to get out of the movers’ way is to simply not be there. But you also need to be available in case of questions or concerns. Not to mention that you probably want to keep an eye on the movers in case they do something shady, or just innocently misinterpret your instructions.

There are also tasks to complete after the movers are finished. First of all, make sure they took everything they were meant to take, and didn’t take things you intended to leave behind. Do a thorough check for small personal items that could be overlooked or fall on the floor. The property should also be cleaned after the movers finish, whether you do the cleaning yourself or schedule professionals.

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Can You Make An Offer On A Pending Property?

The short answer is yes, you can. This would be called a backup offer. However, it may not be worth your time, unless you’re very invested in the property. To understand why, let’s take a look at what a pending sale actually means, and what making an offer on a pending sale looks like.

When a property has the “sale pending” status, what it means is that the seller has accepted an offer, but the sale hasn’t yet been finalized. There are potentially several steps before a sale can be finalized, which can include contingencies, inspections, appraisals, and negotiations. Inspections and appraisals always take time, but may not be required. Not all sales have contingencies, but they come in multiple forms, some of which could take a long time — such as waiting for the sale of another property to close.

So while you could submit an offer on a pending property, not even the seller can know whether they will be able to accept it for a potentially extended period of time. If the pending sale falls through, they may accept or reject it, or want to negotiate further. Even if all of that works out, the property will then be pending with your offer. If you’re on any sort of time constraint, it’s probably not worth it. Furthermore, most pending sales don’t fall through, and half the potential reasons it could may reveal major issues with the property that might result in you not wanting it anymore.

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Create A Summer Vacation In Your Own Home

As summer is about to start, you might be thinking about summer vacation. Or, you may be lamenting that you can’t go anywhere this summer. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Transforming your own backyard into a getaway paradise is easier than you think. Not only will it bring the vacation to you, but it could also actually increase the value of your home if you’re looking to sell.

Typically, vacations are all about relaxing and getting away from your everyday reality. If you have a private yard, you can achieve this simply by adding outdoor seating and some plants. This will give it the feel of a private vacation. Of course, choose plants that are easy to take care of, otherwise it won’t feel like a vacation.

If you prefer for your summers to be filled with friends and fun, there are multiple ways to achieve that. Better yet, they’re often upgrades that you can take advantage of at any time, as well as investments in your home’s value in the future. If you like outdoor cooking and dining, consider an outdoor wood oven, paired with low-maintenance seating and hardscaping. If you like games, think about mini bowling or golfing, or maybe a pool table. For those who just like to sit, talk, and relax, a fire pit and ambient lighting could be perfect.

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Advantages To Buying A Fixer-Upper

Most buyers never consider purchasing a property that isn’t in a livable condition. And in many cases, there wouldn’t be much benefit to it, since they are planning to live there. But if you think of the purchase as an investment in your future, there could be advantages — that’s why most people who do purchase fixer-uppers are investors.

It should come as no surprise that fixer-uppers tend to cost less than move-in ready homes of a similar size, lot area, and location. But this isn’t the correct way to look at the investment. What it also means is that you can find properties in need of fixing with a larger lot or better location than a move-in ready home for the same price. Furthermore, the property continues to yield a return on investment as you upgrade, repair, and remodel. You end up with a property that has equal or potentially higher value than similar properties, while paying a fraction of the cost and building equity the entire time. It also might drive up the area’s desirability, further increasing property values overall, including your own.

Financial benefits aren’t the only reason to buy a fixer-upper. Though you won’t get as much freedom as with buying an empty plot of land, fixer-uppers still have a lot of flexibility in what sort of changes you can make. Even major additions and remodels can be done without needing to worry about building an entirely new foundation. If you have the means and the imagination, it’s not too far off from being a newly designed and built home with a much lower initial investment cost. Even if you don’t make too many or too significant of changes, it can be a learning experience if it’s not something you’ve done before — particularly if you choose to do some DIY repairs.

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Could You Benefit From Some Lesser Known Financing Options?

When people think of financing a home, what immediately comes to mind is getting a mortgage loan. For some people, this isn’t an option, or would be difficult to achieve. Fortunately, there are options that don’t involve loans or might make a loan easier to get, some of which you may not be aware of.

One option is a rent-to-own agreement, which can come in two basic forms. It can be a lease option agreement or a lease-purchase agreement. Both allow a prospective buyer to lease a home for a period of time before purchasing it, with a portion of the rent going towards the purchase price, in exchange for a small upfront fee. But there are differences. With a lease option agreement, the tenant has an exclusive right to purchase the home at the end of the lease term, but may also decide not to, forfeiting that right. A lease-purchase agreement creates a legal obligation for the tenant to purchase the home at the end of the lease term. This may sound like it’s strictly a negative, however, a lease-purchase agreement also locks the home price at the time the parties enter the agreement. Given that home prices tend to appreciate over time barring unexpected economic situations, this could mean your purchase price will be lower than market value. In most cases, you will still need a loan at the end of the lease term, but you will be accruing equity in the meantime and likely improving your credit score.

Another option that might allow you to bypass the need for a loan entirely is a shared equity arrangement. A shared equity arrangement is relatively simple, but might require connections. It involves seeking out others, typically investors, to share both financial responsibility as well as equity for a home. This is an excellent option for those who cannot get a loan, but can be a significant disadvantage when it comes to sell the property, since you won’t be getting nearly as much equity from your home’s value appreciating over time.

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Why You Might Want To Consider Living In A Gated Community

It’s not uncommon to think of gated community homes as mere status statements. They’re more expensive and more exclusive, both of which sound like they’re tailored toward rich people who want to flaunt their wealth. But there are actually valid reasons that gated communities tend to be more expensive. You don’t have to want to flaunt it to want to live there.

Obviously, you do need to have the money. But if you do, their high price also makes them sound investments in the future. Moreover, the extra money you spend isn’t wasted if you don’t end up selling. Gated communities automatically come with enhanced security measures, amenities, and routine maintenance. Security and amenities are high-value features that you’d need to pay extra for anyway to get elsewhere, while routine maintenance can both save money on repairs and ensure that property values don’t decline due to deferred maintenance. Another thing gated communities offer that doesn’t necessarily have a price tag, but tends to be something people value, is a sense of community while simultaneously retaining privacy.

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Mistakes To Avoid When Pricing Your Home

If you’re planning to sell your home, the ideal result is to get as much from the sale as you can. This leads sellers to look for any and all features or qualities that could potentially raise the price. But the fact of the matter is that the market sets home values, not individual sellers. There are a few common mistakes sellers make that lead them to list their homes at overpriced values, which doesn’t benefit them in terms of actually getting the sale to happen.

Sometimes sellers even purposefully list their home above market value. Usually, they are thinking they can start high and drop the price if no one is buying. However, all this does is reduce overall interest and cause the sale to take longer. If the price is right to start with, multiple people will be interested and might be forced to offer over asking to compete with other prospective buyers. The other reason sellers sometimes purposefully list above market value is that they need to reach a certain price to gain profit from the sale. There’s no point to this — either the home won’t get sold at all, or the seller will be forced to drop the price anyway and take a loss.

Of course, the seller is not always intentionally overvaluing their home. You might think that the value of a home includes both its intrinsic and extrinsic value. While this is technically true, extrinsic value is highly subjective. Don’t attempt to raise the price simply because you love the paint color you chose or you have good memories living there. If those feel like a significant portion of the home’s value to you, you probably don’t actually want to move. Of course, external factors may mean you have to sell — in that case, just remember to hold your emotions at bay. But what if you actually did make tangible improvements to the home? Well, that’s great, but not all improvements have a great return on investment. Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible you aren’t making a profit from every single upgrade you made.

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How To Start An Herb Garden

Starting an herb garden is a great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal or provide a good first impression. Even if you aren’t planning to sell, herbs are useful for cooking or simply to bring a fresh, green scent to the home. The best part is you can start small, by creating a miniature herb garden on your windowsill.

The first step to making a windowsill herb garden is to choose a window. The ideal window will probably be one that faces south or southwest. Make sure that whichever window you choose gets at least six hours of sunshine per day and is away from drafts. Once you’ve picked a spot, choose your plants. These can be either existing herb plants or seeds, but take note that starting from seeds will take several months and require more attention, while plants are more expensive. Your container should be 6-12 inches deep.

Now to keep your plants healthy as they grow. For seeds, keep the soil moist, rotate the container and ensure seedlings get plenty of vitamin D from sunlight. For plants, water sparingly, as they don’t like to sit in wet soil. A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the soil and, if it’s dry an inch below the surface, it’s time to water. To encourage branching, snip off the tips of your plants once your herbs are usable.

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Low Cost, High Value Home Repairs

While repairing and remodeling your home before selling can certainly increase the value of your home, you don’t need to fix or update everything. Some repairs can be done quickly and cheaply, while still having a significant effect. Focusing on those repairs is a good way to get the most value out of your time and money. This is especially true if the only repairs needed are low cost, high value repairs.

Prospective home buyers care a lot about first impressions. If something is visibly broken or damaged, they’re going to assume there are more, possibly less obvious broken or damaged aspects of the home. Even if the only thing wrong with your house is a torn screen door, that’s something that will be readily apparent to a prospective buyer. Other first impression repairs include leaky faucets and toilets, cracked paint, and squeaky doors and cabinets. These are also all potentially things you can fix yourself if you have the right materials and tools. Some more high value “fixes” involve things that aren’t broken at all, but may not leave a good impression otherwise — such as cluttered floors, or weeds or bare soil in your yard.

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The Impact Of School Systems On Home Values

For obvious reasons, prospective homebuyers who are expecting to have children, or already have them, might want to move to an area with a highly rated school system. What might not be so obvious is that there are benefits to this even if you aren’t directly impacted by what schools are nearby. Schools affect more than just students; they are a major driving factor in home values.

Neighborhoods with good schools are more desirable, and therefore have higher home values. And because schools don’t typically vanish unless they’re heavily underfunded — which the good schools tend not to be — this is a relatively stable factor in prices. That means homes in these neighborhoods are solid investments, even if you can’t take advantage of the good education.

Conversely, if the school system is not very good, you may think you’re getting a bargain deal with low prices. Unfortunately, your home value probably also isn’t going to go up very much. However, if you are following the trends, you may be able to take advantage of rapidly improving school systems. Maybe prices aren’t high yet, but will be as the schools continue to grow.

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Is A Cul-De-Sac A Good Location?

Living at the end of a cul-de-sac is frequently met with positive connotations. And indeed, cul-de-sac homes tend to have higher property values. But what is it that makes them more expensive and more desirable? Well, certainly not everyone wants a home on a cul-de-sac. As with any kind of location, there are both distinct advantages and drawbacks.

One of the biggest reasons that cul-de-sac homes tend to have higher property values is actually just that they’re usually on large lots. Much of the value in any property is in the land itself. This in itself can be a benefit, though. Larger lots typically means you’ll have more privacy. Cul-de-sacs also see less traffic, making them safe for children to play outside and for residents to enjoy outdoor activities, as well as quieter. Cul-de-sacs can also be the best of both worlds, in a sense. Despite the larger distance between homes due to larger lots, many people consider cul-de-sacs to foster a sense of community. This is attributed to the circular layout of the street as well as more opportunities for outdoor activities.

Not everyone considers a tight-knit community a good thing, though. If you live on a cul-de-sac, there’s a good chance everyone knows everyone else. Or if you don’t, the rest of them know you as the person who doesn’t interact with them. There’s not a great deal of anonymity. Even if the seclusion is what you’re aiming for, this can also be a negative. Residents may need to navigate through winding streets to reach main roads, potentially leading to longer commute times and increased travel distances. The roads may also be less accessible.

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The Initiatives That Are Improving Access To Affordable Housing

Increasing house prices and relatively stagnant wages have led to the need to rethink our strategies regarding housing. Of course, solving the root issue would be preferable — but if that’s not an option, easing the burden is a useful venture. There have been several recent innovations in methods to approach affordable housing.

A couple of them have been around for a while, but not necessarily targeted at affordable housing. These are government subsidies and grants and developer incentives. If you give people money or tax breaks to build or buy affordable housing, it’s going to become easier. Another that you may have heard of is micro-housing. You may dream of a large home, but the truth of the matter is that smaller houses are not only cheaper, but also more cost effective to build. The only reason they weren’t being built before is lack of demand.

There are also some options you may not be aware of, though. These are community land trusts (CLTs) and shared equity models. CLTs attempt to reduce the cost of homeownership by separating land cost from building cost — normally, a house and the land it’s built on are purchased simultaneously, but with CLTs, the land is owned by a trust and only the structure is sold, so it costs less to buy. A shared equity model allows a buyer to purchase only a portion of the ownership of a home, with the share owned increasing as the buyer accrues equity and uses it to purchase a greater share. This is somewhat similar to a loan, but carries less risk, with the downside being that the buyer doesn’t have exclusive legal ownership of the property.

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Some Things To Know Before Purchasing A Property

Before purchasing a new home, there are some important details that will help you make your decision. You’ll want to know what you’re paying for, as well as how to get the best deal. Asking the right questions will make the process much smoother for you.

First, make sure you know exactly what it is you’re buying. Is any personal property included in the sale? Is any fixture excluded? A purchase offer should address personal property and any exclusions. Also, if there are any disclosed concerns with the property, you’ll want to know what they are. It may not be worth your while if there are any major concerns. You’ll also want to know what you can expect to be paying in utility costs. After all, utilities are a component of homeownership costs.

If you want the best deal you can get, you should definitely ask your agent for a comparative sales report. This is a report which details recent sales histories of similar properties. Depending on the area, it may be unlikely to find an exact match, but this will give you a rough estimate of the expected price range for a property that you’re considering. This is particularly important if you’re concerned that the property may be overpriced or have some sort of defect. To aid in this, you can also ask how long the property has been on the market. If it has been sitting around longer than average, there could be an issue. Another question you may want to ask is if the sellers have already bought another home. This could give you some insight into the motivations of the sellers, which may help you negotiate.

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Watch Out For Loan Servicing Scams

You may have received a loan payment notice from a company you don’t recognize or you know you haven’t taken a loan from. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a scam, but it could be. Loan servicing is a real thing, whereby lenders outsource their payment collection to a loan servicing company. In addition, lenders can and do sell their loans to other companies, or companies could merge or get bought out. These are all legitimate reasons you could get a notice from an unfamiliar company.

Unfortunately, scammers are aware of all these methods, and attempt to convince you that what’s happening is legitimate. So, if you notice any deviation, you should always check to make sure it’s real. If the lender’s policy changes or the company is sold, you should receive a letter notifying you of this before any new collections occur. Beware that this process could be disrupted by improper transfer of records or collection dates coinciding closely with the change. Make sure to communicate directly with your lender, not the company that is collecting, until you are sure that it’s legitimate.

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How To Organize Your Outdoor Living Space

Whether your home has a lot of outdoor space or just a little, it’s possible to make good use of it. But in order to optimize your space, first you need to know how you want to use it. Not everyone wants to use their outdoor space for the same functions, and you want to have some idea of what function or functions it should serve for you.

If the space is large enough, divide it into zones. For example, you might have one area for relaxing with a book, one for a garden, and one for socializing with guests. Various types of lighting can help to transform each zone individually or your entire space. Perhaps you want soft ambient lighting, or maybe you want more functional lighting for reading or dining. Regardless of what you use your space for, a couple things are to be expected in any outdoor space, and those are seating areas and greenery. Choose weather-resistant materials such as wicker, teak, or metal and add cushions for improved comfort. Opt for plants that require minimal upkeep and grow well in your area.

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Understanding Prepayment Penalties

There’s a strong tendency to want to pay off your mortgage as quickly as possible. There’s also a strong reason for lenders to not want you to do that — they get less money because you aren’t paying as much in interest. Because of this, they frequently use prepayment penalties. This is an extra fee for paying off your mortgage too quickly or before the term of the loan ends. If you’re simply paying the minimum amount anyway, this won’t affect you, but if you think you may want to pay off your loan early, you’ll want to know your options.

Different states have different laws regarding prepayment penalties, and some don’t allow them at all. In states where they are allowed, they come in two types: hard prepayment penalties, which are fixed fees regardless of the reason for prepayment and that are usually a percentage of the loan amount, and soft prepayment penalties, which are only charged if the borrower pays a large amount in a short time period. Even in states that allow prepayment penalties, not all loans will have them, and you may be able to negotiate with your lender for their removal. When shopping for loans, make sure to read all the terms of the agreement, and talk to a legal professional if there’s anything you don’t understand or want to learn how to negotiate.

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How Generational Preferences Affect The Real Estate Market

If you’re planning to sell your home, or just want to be informed about current trends, you may want to know about present day homebuyers’ preferences. The problem is that looking at general trends only tells you about the largest cohorts of homebuyers, which are Millennials and Baby Boomers. Not only do these two groups have vastly different preferences between each other, it also ignores Gen X and the admittedly small group of Gen Z homebuyers.

Knowing the demographic makeup of your region can help you to understand what the people in your area are looking for. Alternatively, knowing what other cohorts desire can help tailor your choices to attract people to your home. There are certain things you cannot change, such as the walkability or access to public transportation in your neighborhood and presence of nearby parks or schools. However, if you know which types of people are looking for the sort of things that exist where you are, you can base your decisions about things you can change based on that group’s preferences.

Currently, Baby Boomers are not in the business of buying large, fancy homes. They’re looking to downsize, or remodel a home to suit their personal needs. They also generally want a healthcare facility nearby, since their age can lead to medical complications. Gen X is looking for a mix of business, family care, and leisure. Many Gen X people are working and also spend time caring for their aging parents, which leads them to want either nearby parks or recreational facilities to improve their work-life balance, or a suburban or rural lifestyle if they work from home. Millennials are the largest cohort of potential homebuyers, but they also can’t currently afford expensive homes. Rising housing costs mean Millennials are currently transitioning from renting to their starter homes, since many of them have had their initial homeownership plans delayed. As for what they’re looking for, they’re big on technology and sustainability, and prefer easy access to employment hubs via either walkability or public transportation. The group of Gen Z homebuyers that are actually able to afford a home have probably not been much affected by delays, so their digital native and eco-friendly identity is even more pronounced than in Millennials. They prioritize energy efficient homes, smart technology, and cultural diversity.

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