Homeowner

6 Things to Remember When Choosing Paint Colors for Your Home

Putting on a fresh coat of paint is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to transform the look of a home. However, with the endless colors and shades to choose from, deciding on a paint color can be the most difficult part.

In 2019, we bid farewell to Ultra Violet and say hello to Living Coral as the Pantone Color of the Year. But don’t just go straight to the paint store to buy several cans of this coral hue. Choosing the perfect color for your home can be tricky and formula guides and color swatches won’t be helpful if you don’t take into consideration some factors involved in your home.

So whether you’re looking to sell your home or simply give it a makeover, keep your paint obsession on hold until you read these essential suggestions first:

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1. Pay attention to the room’s lighting.

The light source in the room you’re painting can greatly affect the way a color appears. A certain color may appear different in a room filled with sunshine, compared to a room that’s lit with fluorescent bulbs. So don’t forget to take lighting into consideration when selecting colors for a specific space.

2. Take note of the color’s undertone and the paint’s finish.

Despite having endless options, remember that all colors have undertones. And according to TheSpruce.com, “undertones are the secret code of every color.” Some undertones are not easily visible unless paired with other colors. The floor, counter surfaces, and even lighting can all bring out surprising undertones from your painted walls, so make sure that the items or the lighting in the room didn’t bring out an undertone that you weren’t intending to.

Likewise, paint colors have varying sheens and finishes, like a matte vs semi-gloss paint. Matte finishes can be cheaper but are less durable, while high-gloss can be easier to clean.

3. Choose paint colors that will complement the fixed furnishings in the room.

Take into consideration the fixed furnishings in a room — the flooring, wood finishes, countertops, wallpaper, tile, or built-in cabinets — and choose colors that will enhance these materials. As much as possible, you’d want your wall color to complement the existing color scheme of the cabinetry and other furnishings, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.

4. Keep in mind the character of your neighborhood.

Putting a fresh coat of paint on your house’s exterior can give it an instant makeover and spruce up curb appeal, which can be a huge selling point for your home. But when choosing a color for your facade, keep in mind the character of the neighborhood, especially when you’re living in an HOA community. Make sure the color of the exterior will blend well with the landscape surrounding your property and the neighborhood you’re in.

5. Never pick a color from a computer screen.

Have you experienced receiving an online order, like a sweatshirt or a dress, that turned out to be a different color than what you saw on the screen when you ordered it? You can blame the computer screen, as colors always show up differently in monitor displays. So if you’re choosing paint colors for your home, better not rely on what you see on the computer. Instead, get color chips from the hardware or paint store to start your search and narrow down your choices.

6. If you’re looking to sell your home, choose paint colors that will give you the best bang for your buck.

According to Zillow’s 2018 Color Report, the colors you choose to decorate your home with can have a powerful impact on the home’s sale price. Their Paint Color Analysis showed that the rules and results vary depending on the room type. Although it may seem like a tedious job to paint your house to get it ready to sell, the effort may be worth it.

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Here are some of the best paint colors to help sell your home:

  • The Blues

Blue proves to be the color of royalty, especially when your house with its different shades of blue rakes in more cash than you expected.

- A navy blue front door could add as much as $1,514 to the sales price of your home and painting your front door is one of the cheapest projects you can do to upgrade the look of your home.

- A light pale blue to a periwinkle blue paint could do well for bathrooms and increases the average selling price of a home by $2,786.

- Cerulean or cadet blue is a great choice for bedrooms!

  • Gray and Beige

“Greige,” or a combination of gray and beige, is a trendy color that is the offspring of light gray and warm beige. It’s a neutral color that will work well with most types of furniture, textile, and other furnishings. It helps create a modern-day classic feel in any home and is also a safe color when it comes to staging. Zillow reports that greige-colored homes saw as much as $3,496 more than the expected price of the home, even outselling their brown or tan counterparts.

  • Earth Tones and neutral colors

Don’t neglect the neutral colors and don’t even think that they’re boring or won’t help sell your home. In fact, Zillow believes that homes with neutral colors simply have wider appeal for minimalists and maximalists alike, and it could be a signal that a home has other desirable features. Homes with light taupe living rooms, particularly with tan, peach or pink undertones, sell for more than what is expected.

  • The Good Ol’ Black

You can accentuate the color black when you use it for your front door, or opt for black kitchen islands with white cabinets.

 

The colors you want to avoid (as much as possible)

The colors that could be harmful to your home’s sale price include:

  • Yellow - Specifically for the kitchen. Homes in this color reportedly sell for $3,408 less than expected, according to the Zillow report. Even homes with brown walls with yellow undertones sell less than expected.
  • Red - Especially in the dining room and kitchen.
  • White - Surprisingly, bathrooms painted in plain white sold for $4,035 less on average.


10 Moving Mistakes You’d Want To Avoid

Moving is complicated and stressful. There’s more to it than buying several boxes, packing your stuff and relocating to your new home because, in reality, there are a lot of things that could go wrong. Here are some of the most common moving mistakes, and tips on how to avoid them through proper planning and allocating enough time towards the process.
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1. Miscalculating how many boxes you’ll need.

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Before packing your things, try to come up with a good estimate of the number of boxes you need. If you fall short, take note of what you already have — such as suitcases and dresser drawers — and use them as makeshift moving containers to cut down on the costs of boxes.

 

2. Not getting enough padding for your items.

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Having enough padding materials is necessary if you don’t want to end up with broken items when you arrive in your new home. You will need a good stock of bubble wrap or thick packing paper to cushion fragile items and protect your furniture edges from scratches. Likewise, you can also use personal items such as linens, blankets, bedding, and even clothes and dish towels to wrap up any fragile and sharp objects and fill in the gaps in their moving boxes.

 

3. Forgetting to label your boxes.

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“Labeling boxes is Moving 101,” according to Moving.com. When you pack your things, don’t forget to have markers and tape with you to organize your stuff. Knowing what things are included in each box will also lessen the time it will take you to unpack.

 

4. Packing your things at the last minute.

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Even if you’re the least organized person and you plan to just throw things into moving boxes, remember that packing takes time. You thought it’ll only take you an hour to pack the things in your bedroom when in reality, it could take you a whole day to sort through your stuff. The kitchen might even take you 2-3 days, especially if you have any delicate items that need to be carefully wrapped and stored. Remember to give yourself enough time and be realistic about how much it will take you to tackle each area in your home. You can avoid the stress of trying to pack on a tight timeline when you plan these things ahead.

 

5. Not preparing a moving essentials bag.

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A moving essentials bag is a duffel bag, backpack, or a suitcase where you can easily access the things you’ll need on the day of your move and the few days after it. It’ll be convenient for you since you won’t have to rummage through all your moving boxes just to find a basic item you’re looking for. Fill it with your personal items and necessities such as your wallet, keys, medications, basic toiletries, important documents, electronics and chargers, a few clothes, etc. If you have kids, remember to have them pack their own essentials bag, as well.

 

6. Not getting rid of things you no longer need.

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Sort through your items and simply throw out the things you no longer need. Remember that the fewer things you have to move, the better and less stressful it can be for you. You can save time, money, and effort, and won’t have to waste resources like boxes, padding, and fuel. So don’t waste time packing stuff you don’t really need, only to unpack them again in your new home without knowing where those things will fit. You can donate your stuff or give them to family members once they no longer serve a purpose in your life.

 

7. You choose to DIY your move instead of getting professional help.

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Think twice before deciding to DIY your move instead of hiring the expertise of a professional moving company to save money. Remember that a DIY move may not be as cheap if you will count these major pitfalls, such as wear and tear on your body, damage to household goods, and unexpected fuel costs. Even if you have friends who are willing to help, it’s still labor-intensive and risky.


Hiring moving experts will help you in assessing the size of your move. They are also a great help for moving belongings and furniture, lifting heavy items, and handling the move in a safe and organized manner. You will do yourself a favor if you hire the pros, especially if you have a truck’s worth of heavy belongings.
 

8. Not anticipating the cost of your move.

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Most movers offer estimates, not quotes, so you can have a general idea of what your move will cost you. This will be helpful especially if you’re trying to keep costs in a certain range. Figure out how much you need to budget so you won’t be surprised in case there’s a fuel surcharge or you will need significant add-on services from the movers. Experts recommend that you get at least three estimates from different moving companies. Also, don’t forget to ask questions about possible hidden fees, especially if you’re considering the cheapest bid.

 

9. You didn’t check your insurance.

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With moving insurance, there are many policies and coverage levels to choose from. Before choosing a moving company, ask about what types of coverage options are available to you and whether you need to get more than what’s being offered. This is also the time to review your homeowner's insurance policy if it offers additional moving insurance to know which works best for your move.

 

10. You forget that plants and animals have special needs when moving.

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With all the other things you’re worried about, it’s unavoidable to forget the special needs of our pets and even plants when moving. You can’t just throw them in the box or load them in your car. Make sure that before moving day, your pet has current shots, tags, papers, and certificates, especially if you are moving from one state to another.


Keep in mind that lots of movers won’t handle plants especially if you’re crossing state lines. If you’re planning to bring them by car, remember to first check with the USDA for specific rules and regulations in the state where you’re relocating. If you find out you can’t move your plants, you may opt to donate them to friends, the community garden, or the local retirement home.

The Pet Owner’s Guide To Selling A Home: 5 Things To Do To Prepare Your Property

We love our pets, there’s no doubt about it. They’re a part of our family, of our home. However, once you’ve put your house on the market, you need to understand that not all potential buyers would want to see your pets while they are touring your property. In fact, seeing your pets or any evidence of them can make them wince and possibly turn them away, even if they are pet lovers themselves.

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If you have a dog, cat, or any other pets, here are some extra steps you need to take to prepare your home for sale:

1. Give them a holiday.

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The best way to keep your home clean and get it ready for showings is to temporarily relocate your pets. If you can, arrange to let them stay with a trusted family member or friend for the meantime. This will give you the chance to meticulously clean your house and eliminate all signs of animals.

Likewise, buyers (and your realtor) will have an easier time looking at your property during showings since there won’t be any barking or purring in the background. Remember that you won’t be at home when people tour your home, so if your pets can also get out for a little while, the better.

 

2. Eliminate pet odors.

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What’s one of the biggest deal-breakers among buyers? Funky smells and pet odors, by the way, are one of the main culprits. Removing the scent your animals leave behind can be your biggest challenge when preparing your home for sale. It’s not as easy as hiding away your pet’s accessories or throwing out their litter box. You don’t want buyers to be welcomed by your living room’s magnificent carpet, only to find out that it reeks of urine. Uh-oh.

Because you’re already accustomed to the odors in your home, it might be harder to realize how your property really smells. Try using a pet odor remover or baking soda to dispel all traces of your pet’s urine. For animals like hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, snakes, and fish, clean their cages or tanks frequently. If you need to, you can hire a professional cleaning service to clean your carpets and other hard-to-reach places. Then, bring in a friend or your realtor to do a whiff test to ensure your home smells fresh and inviting.

 

3. Get rid of pet hair and stains.

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Aside from the smell, tufts of fur can get stuck to your upholstered furniture and even on floors. This will not only make your home look messy, but it can also trigger allergies among your potential buyers. Make sure that before each showing, you’ve dusted and vacuumed your entire home to remove any signs of your furbaby’s hair.

The same goes for any stains on the carpets and rugs. Take note of any discoloration and fix them, if you can. If not, replace your rugs and deal with the tougher stains on your floors and walls using a commercial-grade cleaner and disinfectant.

 

4. Hide their stuff and accessories.

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Remember that your pet’s accessories are not part of your home staging, no matter how adorable they look (Yes, even those cute socks and holiday costumes!). Even potential buyers who are pet lovers won’t be impressed and will likely see them as clutter. So those collars, leashes, toys, food, food bowls, and pet beds need to be put away— make sure to clean them before stashing them away in a cupboard or closet.
 

5. Repair any damage caused by your pets.

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Take the time to fix any significant damage in your home that was caused by your dog or cat’s constant chewing and biting. It may cost you money, especially if the damage to your furniture, carpets, and hardwood flooring is extensive. However, remember that the amount you’ve spent paying for repairs and cleaning may be worth it once you see that many potential buyers want your home and your home eventually sells for top dollar.
 

Bottom Line

Selling a home when you have pets won’t be any harder as long as you know how to properly prepare your property to get offers from potential buyers. The best way to manage it is by informing your real estate agent about your pet situation so he or she will know how to handle every little detail to help sell your home.

Renovating Without A Permit? Here Are 7 Reasons Why It’s A Big No-No

A home renovation is a great way to add value and satisfaction to your beloved abode. After all, who doesn’t love stepping into a new room, a finished basement, or a renovated bathroom?

However, before "undertaking any of the character-building, heavy-lifting labor" there’s the time-consuming and costly process of obtaining renovation permits. How long a permit can be approved depends on the scale of the project. For smaller renovations, it may take as little as 24 hours. Expectedly, larger projects might take longer so homeowners may have a bit of a wait on their hands. So who says it isn’t tempting to save a bit of time and money skipping that step entirely and pushing ahead with your planned renovations?

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Well if you do, prepare to face some terrible consequences. Unpermitted work refers to any modifications made to the home that should have been permitted but were not.

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Aside from a sunken property value, your biggest risk may lie in the job itself. Without the proper permits, there's no guarantee that your contractors will execute a professional job. The results of this could be disastrous. For instance, if you sell, those substandard improvements might cause you trouble during a home inspection.


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It’s a nightmare to think about, but it means big trouble if your municipality or city office finds out you’re renovating sans-permits. Some cities will only inspect, but some will issue a stop-work order and may even slap a hefty fine on both the homeowner and contractor. Worse still, the city could order a teardown of the entire project with a subsequent order to redo any work done with the proper permits finally in hand.


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Another area of concern is that any unpermitted additions may not be covered, and even violate your insurance policy. It is especially concerning if an accident or disaster occurred in that part of your home. If there’s been a house fire caused by faulty wiring due to poor electrical work, or if someone fell and seriously injured themselves you could be facing a costly nightmare.

Filing an insurance claim for a scenario like this could be futile; your policy probably isn't going to cover the issue, additionally, you may be heading towards a complicated, costly lawsuit.


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As we mentioned earlier, failing to get permits could cause the value of your home to drop. Why? For starters, real estate information in your local municipality needs to be up to date to help maintain home values and stay current with taxes and insurance. Renovation permits will help ensure that your property keeps up with the latest health and safety standards.

When you sell, an appraiser will assess your home in order to gauge its objective market value. Any unpermitted work brought into concern because of safety defects could depreciate your home’s value. Even worse, you could be fined with the appraiser also demanding that the work be removed and redone—this time with proper permits secured. Likewise, any room additions not up to code will be excluded in the square footage stated in your “updated”  home listing. That means buyers will think your home is smaller than it really is.


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Notwithstanding the huge laundry list of features and amenities potential buyers look for in a new home, above all is a safe and secure place. Should they discover the house they’re looking at has undergone an unpermitted structural remodel, it can imbue them with uncertainty, causing a loss of confidence in your property, and resulting in some serious purchase reconsiderations.

The buyer might think you hired someone unqualified to do the work because you didn’t even bother getting permits. They may feel that the completed renovation is unsafe, leaving them clouded with worry about long-term problems down the line. A good buyer’s agent is going to make sure that permits were pulled on any significant additions done to the property, so there’s no escaping the consequences. However, if permits were secured for the renovations, concerns like these all go out the window, with the buyer immediately given peace of mind and assurance, enticing them to make a good and reasonable offer.


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Well, it might be overreacting, but not getting permits for a significant modification or addition can stop a home sale. Wait, what?

You heard right! Once your home has entered the market, a subsequent home inspection and appraisal will follow as is required by the selling process. The inspector will ensure that buyers know exactly what they’re getting while the appraiser will look to protect the interests of the bank or lending institution, ensuring proper standards are met before they approve the loan. Both professionals can easily request public records on your home, including the permits (or lack thereof) for any improvements made, assuring that the property is not only habitable but in good working order.

It could cost you the home sale if the bank doesn’t want to fund the loan because the appraiser’s requests were not met, or if the potential buyer backed out due to personal uncertainty with regard to property safety and structural integrity.  


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Admittedly, securing a renovation permit can be a hassle. You have to provide your local municipality with your detailed plans for the remodel, as well as additional documentation if needed. Moreover, permits come with corresponding fees.

However, proceeding to push through with a renovation without proper paperwork can lead to dire consequences, as discussed above. The commonalities shared by those risks are time wasted, money squandered and maybe a forthcoming lawsuit. Not to mention, most likely you’d also be required to undo all the work done, taking you and your home back to square one on what could have been a great addition.

 

Tips:

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  • Know what renovations require permits. Any substantial, structural, or significant remodel requires the homeowner or seller to get a permit. These major renovations could include electrical or plumbing work, basement refurbishment, or room addition. However, if you are only updating or sprucing up an existing space, then permits might not be necessary.

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  • Consult with your city building committee. However, building codes and the legal requirements to pull a permit vary with every city. With this in mind, it’s important to check with your local municipality or city building code committee to make sure there won’t be any problem before you tear down a wall or remodel anything.

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  • Hire only licensed and reputable contractors. You can rest assured that they won’t work without securing proper permits, giving you peace of mind that their work will be up to code.

5 Ways You Can Ace Moving To A New Home When You Have Kids

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), home buyers and sellers with children face a unique set of difficulties and stressors during the moving process. If you are a parent anticipating a move, it’s likely you have a ton of things on your mind. Maybe you need to sell your old house, contact the movers, pack your belongings, and prepare all the things needed in your new home. Then add the kids to the situation and you’re probably facing a whole different level of chaos and anxiety.

If you’re already feeling nervous and worried about your upcoming move just imagine how difficult it can be for your kids. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, the idea of getting ready to start somewhere new can be very scary. However, there are things you can do to get the youngest family members prepared and even excited about this new chapter and to help the family’s moving process go smoothly.

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1. Keep them informed.

The best way you can prepare your kids for your expected move is to talk to them about it. Keep them informed and tell them what they can expect. Even if they won’t be thrilled by the news, especially the teens, help them deal with their feelings. Explain to them why the family needs to do it — whether it’s for your new job or because they will need bigger rooms — and address any concerns they share with you. The sooner you can explain it to them, the more time they will have to cope with the news in their own way. Lastly, reassure them that not everything will be changing once you move into your new home.

 

2. Get them involved.

While moving and packing when you have kids can be more stressful, there are ways to cope with it. If your children are old enough to help, get them involved by allowing them to pack their own things and personalize their boxes. This will help keep them busy and will also help you identify their belongings when it’s time for you to unpack. Help them decide on what things they want to keep, especially their toys and clothes, and what can be sold or donated to a charity. But be ready because they might get upset when they have to let go of some things.

When you arrive at the new house, tour them around and let them contribute to little things like choosing the wall colors or the furniture arrangement of their new room. Make sure they’ll get to unload their belongings first so they will see familiar objects as soon as possible, particularly those things they are attached to.

 

3. Let them have proper goodbyes.

Material things aside, the biggest problem your kids might have emotionally is whether they will make friends and become accepted in your new area. “Will I be able to find a new best friend?”, “Is my new teacher as kind as Miss Lily?”, “Can I continue playing baseball or football?” Even if you aren’t sure about these circumstances continue to talk with them to ease their fears.

Throw a farewell party so they can say proper goodbyes to their close friends. You can also encourage them to stay connected through writing and mailing letters (let them know how exciting it is to have a penpal!). In today’s age there are also plenty of ways to connect through social media. These little things can help them keep their old friends, while at the same time you can encourage them that they can build new and better relationships in your new place.

 

4. Turn the move into an adventure.

Ah, moving, it’s one of a kind exhilarating experience. Or is it? Don’t let all the packing and unpacking become the only thing that your child will remember about this journey. They may not love all the hustle and bustle that comes with moving, but they will surely love any adventure you add to it. Especially when you’re moving far away, have a road trip so they can discover new places.

Show them around interesting landmarks, museums, and other kid-friendly attractions along the route. The distraction will relieve any anxiety the children have and it could help them think that moving is really fun. If you’re traveling from one state to another, don’t forget to collect souvenirs from the places you visit. Arranging these alternative activities can also help you relax, be happy, and bond with the kids.

 

5. Help them focus on new beginnings, but stick to family routines.

Always remind your children that not everything is changing. Sure, you’ve got a new house in a new neighborhood, but help them understand that it is only really the location. It’s important to keep their routines as much as possible throughout the moving process. Stick to your schedule like afternoon naps, family rituals, bonding activities, study sessions, etc. Keeping these little things consistent will reassure the children that the family is keeping life as normal as possible.

Finally, help them focus on the bigger and more exciting things they can look forward to. Is there a bigger park near your place? Are they now allowed to have pets now that your family has a bigger space? Also make sure to sign them up for sports, participate in hobbies, or any other activities that can help them feel more comfortable and will help them make new friends.

 

Bottom Line

We understand that with kids everything is easier said than done, but the best any parent can do is to try not to add to the stress and anxiety that children are having about relocating. The most important way to relieve that stress, however far or near your family is moving, is to stay positive. Keep in mind that kids are like little sponges and they will always take after their parents. If you stay positive, your kids will stay positive. With a little patience—well, probably a lot of patience— flexibility, and creativity, you’ll create new memories in your new place in no time.

Millennials and Young Homeowners: Here’s Your Guide To Building Home Equity

Owning a house and having good credit at the same time? In this economy?

What if we tell you it’s possible? It’s common for young people—those who are below 35 years old (also known as millennials)—to complain about not having money. And typically, they attribute their woes to a poor economy.

What people don’t know is that they can actually create wealth through homeownership! How? It isn’t exactly free money, but it’s almost just as easy. You’ll just have to build your home equity.

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Home Equi-what?

Equity, specifically home equity, pertains to how much of the property you actually own. This is usually expressed in percentages, and is basically how much of the property’s selling price you’ve already paid for.

If you just bought a home, for example, you’ve probably made a down payment. If this down payment is 5% of the seller’s price, your current home equity automatically becomes 5%.

If you’ve owned the property for a while, you may calculate home equity by subtracting any outstanding home loans you have from the property’s current market value.

So where’s the additional wealth? After paying your down payment, you still have to pay off the property’s outstanding balance. This means that you have time to increase the value of your property, and even improve your credit while doing so.

 

How to Grow Equity

Unlike debt and other expenses, as a homeowner, an increase in home equity is a good thing. Why? Because you are improving your credit through the home’s market value, your diligence is paying for your mortgage, and you’re gaining true ownership of your home.

Here are some ways that home ownership can create wealth for you:

1. Appreciate Your Home

And we’re not just talking about your sentiments towards your home. This refers to ways you can increase your property’s worth.

Like they say, buying a home is an investment in itself.

a.   Rising Home Prices

Before you even buy a home, check the surroundings. Is it accessible? Are there upcoming developments in the area? Is the market doing well? These factors can increase your home’s market value effortlessly, consequently affecting your home equity.

b.    Home Improvements

If you can, try upgrading areas of your property! Consider adding a shower in the downstairs bathroom, installing a newer stove and fridge, or maybe even planting some trees on your property line.

While these improvements may cost you some, they benefit you by increasing your home’s property value.

c.     Home Maintenance

This simply means preserving the home’s livable condition, as you normally would.

A few tips include having regular repair checks on the house and around your property, and preserving unique features, like outdoor decks.

 

2. Mortgage Payments

Mortgage payments are no fun, but this expense can ultimately help you create wealth.

For starters, it is important to know that the larger your outstanding loan balance is, the greater amount of interest you pay on it. However, don’t worry; we’ve listed a few ways you can avoid this.

a. Make a Larger Down Payment

Even before you can call a property yours, you can start creating wealth by preparing a bigger down payment.

Home property down payments can be as low as 3%. But as previously mentioned, a higher loan balance means more money paid towards interest in the end. It’s also important to note that once you hold 20% equity in your home, you start saving on the cost of private mortgage insurance.

This can be an attainable goal for you, but you don’t have to pay for the whole 20% right away. Just consider a slightly higher down payment.

For example, saving for a 5% down payment instead of a 3% one gets you that much closer to that 20% home equity target.

b. Shorter Mortgage Terms

This is tricky because this requires higher payments compared to a long-term mortgage. But if you budget wisely, this is a sure way to build home equity quickly.

c. Bi-weekly Payments

If the above is too taxing, look into making mortgage payments every two weeks, rather than once a month.

The difference? This can result in your 30-year mortgage transforming into a 25-year mortgage. This is because your 12 monthly payments paid annually turns into 13 monthly payments per annum.

d. Regular Payments

If your budget won’t allow for this, then simply make sure to pay your mortgage on time. This will keep your credit positive, and you’ll gain equity in your home with every payment.

 

In fulfilling these kinds of commitments, it is up to you to strike a balance between your monthly budget and savings. See what works best for you, so that you can create wealth as a homeowner, by making the most of your home equity.

Notice Of Intent to Foreclose: Know Your Options

As a homeowner, there’s an f-word that is avoided as much as possible. Even though we don’t want to say it we have to talk about it. Why? Because like most problems, that’s how it’s handled. So say it with us, foreclosure.

Most of the time, when people find out that their dream house is facing foreclosure, their world stops. No one buys a house and puts in all the effort into making it a home only to one day realize that it will be taken away from them. Getting a Notice of Foreclosure is something that people dread, and even ignore in the hopes that the problem will go away.

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Ignoring Your Foreclosure Notice

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What happens if you don’t respond to the notice of intent for foreclosure?

When you receive a notice of foreclosure, the best thing to do is take charge. Getting a notice of foreclosure doesn’t mean that the world has stopped because there are many options for you!

Even when you get the notice, you can still avoid having foreclosure and bankruptcy on your record. So, to answer the question, ignoring your foreclosure notice will only limit your options and ultimately lead to losing your home.

If you’re reading this, and you still haven’t received a notice of foreclosure—in which case you’re at the stage of dreading it—what can you do?

 

Foreclosure Avoidance Plan

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Banks offer Foreclosure Avoidance Plans for those who want to be extra-sure about their home loans.

Always consult with your lender about this first. It will seem like a fair deal, but don’t forget that this is actually an additional loan. So now, you’re paying for your mortgage and an additional foreclosure plan.

If this is something you can handle, then by all means, go for it!  If you’d rather work on your primary loan before adding another one into the equation, it’s also okay not to enter into a foreclosure plan.

 

Filing for Bankruptcy

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What if you just totally forget the foreclosure of your house, and file for bankruptcy instead?

The good news is, yes, you can do that. Your foreclosure will be curbed if you do this. What happens when you file for bankruptcy is that your lender will not be able to collect the debt from you. The bad news is, courts cannot discharge secured debts that include mortgage payments.

What happens here is that since you are filing for bankruptcy, you don’t have to pay for your mortgages yet.  However, as soon as your bankruptcy process is complete, your lenders will definitely be back for your debt.

In cases like this, homeowners usually struggle with paying for their mortgages after filing in the courts. The worst part is that, most times, these homeowners end up with not just a bankruptcy but also a foreclosure on their record.

 

Your Financial Status

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Let’s say you don’t go with bankruptcy and are looking at simply foreclosing your home. How does this affect your financial status?

Your foreclosure report will be on your record for seven years.  Not only that, after those seven years, you may also have to write a report to three major credit agencies to have the foreclosure removed from your record.

Although lenders have been more lenient over recent years, those who are approved for new loans, and even credit lines, have to pay higher interest rates. You can’t really blame them, though. They see those who have a record of foreclosure, with or without bankruptcy, as more of a liability than those who have a clean record.

 

You’re Not Alone

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Yes, getting a Foreclosure Notice is something you might have never thought would happen to you. It has been found that this has actually become more common recently.

A 2013 study found that over 4.1 million foreclosures were completed in the United States during September 2008-December 2012. This is quite a big number and does not even include those who avoided foreclosure through some of the methods mentioned above, those who opted to sell their homes, or those who found ways to work things out with their lenders.

Tips On Setting A Home Renovation Budget

When a homeowner starts to consider a home renovation, it’s easy to grow overwhelmed, because it seems like such a monumental task. Perhaps this comes from the notion that all makeovers have to big, bold, and new. Think shows like “Extreme Makeover” and “House Flippers”. Most think the only allowable ending to a renovation is that you walk into your new living room and start sobbing with joy beholding your stunning, beautiful new life.

Does it really have to be that grand, though? You want to do a good job, sure-- but is it really necessary to spend obscene amounts of money?

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Let’s put a realistic budget on your needed and/or wanted home renovation. Whether it’s simply a kitchen revamp, a bathroom remodel, or a complete overhaul of your property, we have the perfect tips to keep you from breaking the bank.

 

1. Estimate Scientifically.

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Even in home renovations, there’s a rule of thumb—don’t spend more on the area you’re renovating than its ultimate potential value.

An area in your home accounts for a certain percentage of your entire property. A kitchen, for example, may be considered 10-15% the house’s market value.

Make sure to compute for this first, and try to calibrate it with your budget.

 

2. Reality, not Fantasy.

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One of the most common mistakes homeowners make while budgeting for a renovation is underestimating the amount of money needed to finish the job. Ideally, you want to renovate your property at the lowest cost possible, but will that budget fit your list of needs and wants?

Make realistic estimates (which often means purposely adding a bit of a buffer on every expense) to avoid under-budgeting.

 

3. Get Quotes from Contractors.

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Talk to contractors. They do this for a living. Even if you don’t intend to actually use one.

Contractors will quote you based on your ideal plan, and how they would make it a reality—from manpower to materials needed. Tell them you’re expected budget and see if they can work with it.

 

4. Be Specific!

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As you gather quotes from contractors, make sure you communicate exactly what you want done. Contractors should know exactly what they’re doing, but if the homeowner doesn’t really know what is to be done on the property, your quote will be vague and likely include many purposeful upsells.

 

5. Stick to the Plan.

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To stick to the budget! Make it your priority to stick to your financial plan—your realistic, scientifically estimated, and specific dollar amount. Changing plans mid-renovation has ‘eventually, horribly over-budget’ written all over it!

Resist any urge to add a little side project along the way. If there’s a little extra money left over, then do that desired side-project after the initially planned renovation is completed.

 

6. Start Planning Early On.

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As mentioned, any mid-work alteration in the plan inevitably means an instant budget change. Don’t leave anything until the last-minute! If you can, plan even the smallest detail with your contractor early in the process.

You can also start lurking through the aisles of hardware stores paying particular mind to the prices of items relevant to your renovation. If you’re renovating your bathroom, for example, you might want to check out new sinks. Mark down some prices. Get a sense of cost. Make a spreadsheet and keep track of everything you find.

 

7. Plan for the Unexpected.

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Account for hidden costs! Make sure you have some wiggle room.  If a maintenance issue is uncovered, construction takes a turn because of the weather, or if your vision changes midway, you will avoid undue stress by budgeting flexibly.

Allot a buffer of around 15-20% on top of your budget for emergency circumstances.

 

8. Consider Home Remodeling Options.

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You may be able to get a loan to finally make that dream renovation happen!

There are a few options you can consider—refinancing, cash-out refinance, HELOC (home equity line of credit), and a home equity loan. Make sure to study all your options before you finally take the plunge.

Just be sure to keep your long-term financial health in mind. You don’t want to sacrifice your future at the expense of the present.

The Annual Home Maintenance Checklist: A Guide For New Homeowners

Keeping up with home maintenance tasks can be daunting, especially for new homeowners. It may be hard to accept the fact that sometimes you have to cancel a weekend brunch so you can clean out the gutters and mow the lawn.

While these responsibilities could be frustrating, it’s what you have to do to protect your biggest investment. Staying on top of these tasks can save you from costly repairs later, and can keep your house running as good as new.

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While there are many tasks that homeowners should complete each season, this list outlines the chores you should take care of once a year. If you’re a homeowner who is or will be celebrating the anniversary of your home purchase, it’s a good idea to start off with this to-do list and give your home the TLC it deserves.

 

1. Check and update your smoke alarms, alert systems, and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Alarm systems and smoke detectors are crucial to minimizing damage and saving lives in the event of a fire. Change the batteries of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and ensure that the systems are in working condition.

Now is also a good time to check your fire extinguishers. Make sure you have at least one fire extinguisher and see if it is still within the expiration date.

 

2. Pressure wash.

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One of the best ways to make your home’s exterior look clean is through power washing. Doing so will also minimize the risk of mold growth and infestation, particularly if you do it once a year. Give your house a good scrub by using a garden hose, renting a power washer or hiring a professional cleaner to do the job. Don’t miss out on cleaning the siding, windows, and patio as well to get rid of any grit. For heavily soiled areas, spot-clean them using cleaning materials that won’t harm your plants.

 

3. See if your house needs a freshening up with paint.

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To check if your house’s exterior needs a fresh coat of color, look for signs of chipping paint. New paint will not only give your home a new look, but it will also protect it from water damage and rot. This job is best started in the spring.

 

4. Check your home’s humidity levels.

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The humidity level in your home should be kept at average levels: between 30% and 50% humidity. High humidity is dangerous because it can cause mildew and black mold, while low levels can cause damage such as chipping paint. Low humidity can also make you and your family uncomfortable, causing itchiness and even sore throats! Check your property’s humidity using a hygrometer at least once a year.

 

5. Clean your air filters and air ducts.

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You should clean your air conditioner parts at least once a year to ensure clean air is circulating in your home. You can clean the air filters and air ducts by yourself or hire a maintenance technician to do the job.

 

6. Check for termites and pests.

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For many homeowners, just the thought of having termites in their home can make them cringe, but facing reality is another thing. You should include a termite inspection, which costs no more than $100, in your annual checklist to make sure these pests are not taking over your property.

Likewise, don’t forget to book an appointment with a pest control service once a year. Unless you want your home to be infested with bugs and other critters, you have to include it on your cleaning schedule.

 

7. Clean your tile and grout.

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Cleaning the tile and sealing the grout lines need to be done at least once a year. Not only will it make your home look clean but will help prevent mold growth. While there are many firms that offer professional tile and grout cleaning, you can also do it yourself. You just have to carefully choose the products or materials you’ll use so you won’t damage your tile or prevent further damage.

 

8. Sort out your things and declutter.

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After spending a year or more living in your home, it might surprise you to realizehow much “stuff” has piled up, taking over your storage space. It’s a good thing to sort through your belongings and declutter unnecessary items after you’re finished doing the essential maintenance chores.

The 7-Step Decluttering Guide to Organizing Your Home this New Year

We often talk about starting a home improvement project, like a bathroom or kitchen remodel, because we’re dissatisfied with the house and are looking for ways to make it even better. But what if the first thing that’s hindering us from appreciating our biggest investment is the enormous amount of clutter that we’ve accumulated over the years?

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Decluttering is a difficult thing to do, especially for those who have been planning to downsize or simply move out of their current home. Deciding which items to keep, which to give up, donate, or throw out will never be easy. But too much clutter in our home can lead to chaos that can cost us money, time, and even limit our productivity and concentration.

According to the Ikea Life at Home 2017 survey Beating The Battles, having “too much stuff” was the single biggest cause of stress in the home. And the simple act of choosing which items to keep and which to discard can ultimately free people from guilt and worry and allow them to focus on what really matters most in their lives, even if taking that step is difficult.

New Year is a good time to have a fresh start, so right now is a great time to achieve a more peaceful home by decluttering and organizing your stuff. Here we’ve gathered some of the best techniques and principles to help you declutter so you can appreciate your home more.

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Before starting anything, think about what your goals are and your reasons for decluttering. If you don’t have a clear goal in mind, you’ll start enthusiastically after sorting through a few items, then find yourself losing momentum because you haven’t started with the right mindset. Experts suggest you create your vision first and think things through before you start organizing.

Don’t just say to yourself that you’re going to organize your closet or sort through your cupboard. Instead, think about how you want to maximize your storage space, how you want to store your clothes, or how you can easily get to your preferred herbs and spices when you’re cooking your meals. Take the time to assess your space and understand how you want to organize a particular area in your home.

 
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If you’re still having a hard time deciding where to start, begin with something easy. Get rid of any broken or expired items, especially hair, makeup, and other cosmetic products, old prescriptions, and medicines. The same goes for any food or canned goods in your pantry that are already past their expiration date.

 
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Make it easier for you to focus on your goals by organizing one room or area at a time. Break the job into smaller parts so you won’t get overwhelmed with the task at hand. Try choosing a space that makes you feel uncomfortable — whether it’s your makeup and beauty products taking over your vanity drawer, the shelves crammed with books you don’t have time to read, the pile of messy clothes in your dresser, or the unruly cords and cables in your home office. Taking it item by item will help you get things done in a short amount of time.

 
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Things like gifts, souvenirs, and inherited items can be the hardest things to part with. Putting a great deal of sentimental value on every item we’ve ever received as a gift or every item we’ve ever purchased on a vacation is a trap that we all fall into, and it can be impossible for you to get rid of unnecessary clutter if you don’t learn to let go. Even though these things can be connected to a specific memory in our lives, the fact remains that these are still objects, and while some may be worth keeping forever, it’s worthwhile to examine whether all of those items are still creating a positive effect on your life, or if they’re contributing to your stress.

It’s important to remember that you are not required to keep all the gifts you’ve received in your lifetime. When evaluating an item, determine whether it is really worth keeping. If you can retain the precious memory without keeping the physical object, then it might be wise to let go. You can check these tips by The Spruce to help you get rid of sentimental clutter without feeling guilty.

 
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As you set out to declutter a space in your home, adapt the four-box technique suggested by Becker in BecomingMinimalist.com to help you with this process. Prepare four boxes that will be titled trash, give away, keep, and relocate. As you consider and evaluate each item, try to place them into one of these four categories so it will be easier for you to sort things out later on.

After you’ve finished, you can return and double check all the items in the boxes and then put them back in their proper locations, or think of ways to discard them. You can always donate them, pass them on, give them away to friends and relatives, or sell them for some extra cash.

 
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The biggest pitfalls when organizing are the unending distractions and diversions that will come your way. When you start the task, do your best to ignore any texts, email alerts, or notifications from your social media accounts. Also, avoid the temptation to finish that book you found in a drawer you were cleaning, or review the full menu of a restaurant in that flyer you were supposed to throw out. These little distractions could send you down another path and make you lose focus on your goal. So outsmart these temptations at all costs and remember the tips given above to achieve an organized home.

 
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Many of us just don’t have the time to focus on getting rid of unnecessary items, but we can still manage the issue if we acquire less stuff to begin with. Before bringing a new item into your home, take a hard look at the things you already own. Disorganization could cost you money when you bring home a new item only to realize you already own something similar. When there’s less clutter, you’ll spend less time trying to find things, less time wondering if you already have something, and less money overall when you’re able to find things quickly and know you don’t need a duplicate.


After you’re finished, take a step back and look around. Have you missed any area that still needs attention? Once you’re happy with what you’ve accomplished in your newly organized home, it’s now easier for you to dream of your next home improvement project.