Top Priorities When Moving with Kids

Top Priorities When Moving with Kids

According to the Pew Research Center, around 37% of U.S students will be going back to school soon and the rest have already started the new academic year. With school-aged children in your home, buying or selling a house can take on a whole different approach when it comes to finding the right size, location, school district, and more.

Recently, the 2019 Moving with Kids Report from the National Association of Realtors®(NAR) studied “the different purchasing habits as well as seller preferences during the home buying and selling process.” This is what they found:

When Purchasing a Home

The major difference between the homebuyers who have children and those who do not is the importance of the neighborhood. In fact, 53% said the quality of the school district is an important factor when purchasing a home, and 50% select neighborhoods by the convenience to the schools.

Buyers with children also purchase larger, detached single-family homes with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms at approximately 2,110 square feet.

Furthermore, 26% noted how childcare expenses delayed the home-buying process and forced additional compromises: 31% in the size of the home, 24% in the price, and 18% in the distance from work.

When Selling a Home

Of those polled, 23% of buyers with children sold their home “very urgently,” and 46% indicated “somewhat urgently, within a reasonable time frame.” Selling with urgency can pressure sellers to accept offers that are not in their favor. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR explains,

“When buying or selling a home, exercising patience is beneficial, but in some cases – such as facing an upcoming school year or the outgrowing of a home – sellers find themselves rushed and forced to accept a less than ideal offer.”

For sellers with children, 21% want a real estate professional to help them sell the home within a specific time frame, 20% at a competitive price, and 19% to market their home to potential buyers.

Bottom Line

Buying or selling a home can be driven by different priorities when you are also raising a family. If you’re a seller with children and looking to relocate, let’s get together to navigate the process in the most reasonable time frame for you and your family.

Get ready for Fall with these 7 home maintenance tips

Get ready for Fall with these 7 home maintenance tips

1. Fertilize Your Lawn

According to experts, fertilizing your lawn in autumn protects it over the winter and helps it green up faster come springtime. Fall feeding is especially important in areas with dry summers.

Dosing your lawn with fertilizer in autumn will trigger the renewed growth of both blades and roots, so your grass will be thick and healthy again before winter’s colder temperatures set in.

2. Get Your HVAC Serviced

Your AC has been faithfully chugging along all summer. Now it’s time to give it a rest. Before you tuck it away for the winter, be sure to clean the coils. You can find YouTube videos showing how to do this safely.

If you’re done using the AC for the year, cover the outdoor unit to keep debris and ice from damaging your system. Then move indoors and switch your thermostat from cooling to heating. Change the filter, too. You should also make sure all indoor vents are uncovered, and maybe clean your own air ducts while you’re at it.

3. Clean The Gutters

Clogged gutters will channel water down the side of your home where it eventually damages the foundation and can flood your basement. So get a ladder and pull debris out of the gutters by hand. If you have a one-story house, you can use this leaf-blower attachment to blast the stuff. Still too much work? Hire a gutter cleaning company — they’re worth it.

4. Drain And Store Your Lawn Equipment

Over time, unused fuel goes through chemical changes that create deposits and destroy your lawn equipment. So drain the tanks of your lawn mower, leaf blower, and weed eater before storing them. Fall is also an excellent time to get your lawn mower blades sharpened so they’ll be ready for next Spring.

5. Turn Off And Drain Outdoor Faucets And Sprinklers

Outdoor hoses and pipes will burst if they’re full of water when the temperatures plunge below freezing. While replacing a garden hose isn’t that difficult, it’s incredibly expensive to dig up your lawn’s sprinkler system to deal with burst pipes. So, disconnect your outdoor hoses and turn off the outdoor water supply. Open outdoor faucets and run your sprinkler system to drain any remaining water.

6. Inspect And Clean Your Chimney

When I think of chimney cleaning, I always picture Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins singing “Chim-chim-e-ny, chim-chim-e-ney, chim, chim, cheroo.” It’s a charming song!

Nothing is charming about filling your home with soot, smoke, and carbon monoxide because your chimney isn’t working correctly. Even gas fireplaces need an inspection to ensure the pipe is free of cracks that can allow smoke to enter your home. This job is best left to pros. The cost runs around $100-200.

7. Get Your Ice Melt And Snow Blower Ready

By the time winter arrives, it’s often too late to find snow gear. Stock up on such things in autumn when they’re plentiful and lower-priced. Even if you think you’ve got enough left from last year, or that your snow blower or shovel are in good shape, take a few moments to check. You don’t want to get caught out in the cold finding out you’re wrong.

Don’t Delay

As with most home maintenance tasks, preparing your home for fall isn’t tricky, just time-consuming. Putting it off causes problems that can wind up costing you an enormous amount of money, though, so set aside time on the next couple of months to get these jobs done. Texas heat will last a while longer, but fall will come in early October, and you never know the weather it brings!

Got Mold? Removal and Prevention Tips

Got Mold? Removal and Prevention Tips

Mold is a primary concern for many homeowners. The main reason for this is it can arise abruptly and for a variety of reasons: A damp bathroom, leaky pipe or the dreaded flooded basement.

Generally, there are two types of issues you can encounter with mold: Minor issues like mildew in your bathroom or major issues like drywall saturated with water from a flooded basement. In either case, the goal is to tackle and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. A failure to do so could result in significant property damage.

Given all this, the biggest concern with mold reaches much farther than unsightly mildew or even extensive property damage. The biggest fear is the health risks associated with mold that can affect you and our loved ones: Mainly allergies, infections, and upper respiratory issues. For these reasons, it’s important not to drag feet and tackle the issue head on.

As soon as you notice the onset of mold, follow these steps to mitigate any property damage that may be caused and more importantly, to protect the health of you and your loved ones.

1) Bathroom
Ground zero for mold is generally the bathroom, making it the most important room to monitor. The grout lines in your shower are the most common place to find mildew. For this reason, it’s important to keep your shower clean; you will find that mildew accumulates in this area weekly.

Mildew can be easily removed by scrubbing it with diluted bleach (6 parts water, 1 part bleach). It should come off generally easy, but be meticulous and remove all visible mildew. Once you are confident it has been removed, rinse and dry.

A good strategy to greatly reduce the presence of mildew in your shower is to keep a squeegee handy. Anytime you take a shower squeegee all the water off of your walls. Coupled with a good bathroom fan, this strategy can greatly reduce the presence of mold and mildew in your shower.

2) Walls
If you have mold in your drywalls, the good news is, like in the bathroom, it’s generally easy to eliminate. The bad news is it may be part of a larger issue like a leaking pipe.

First thing’s first, identifying the problem. If dark circles are forming on your wall, the odds are almost certain that it’s mold. Once you have identified the problem area, it’s important to tackle it immediately to prevent it from spreading.

Always protect yourself when removing mold. Since mold is generally detrimental through inhalation, the most important first line of protection is a safety mask. A pair of gloves and safety goggles to boot will ensure you’re fully protected.

Once you’re protected, make a diluted bleach solution (6 parts water, 1 part bleach) and use a stiff brush to scrub the mold off. Once you are confident you have removed all the mold, rinse the affected areas thoroughly and dry the area as best as possible.

If you notice mold recurring in the same areas after thoroughly removing it, then your problem is deeper and it’s important to seek professionals to diagnose and eliminate the problem. Remember, time is of the essence.

Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis

Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis

It seems you can’t find a headline with the term “housing affordability” without the word “crisis” attached to it. That’s because some only consider the fact that residential real estate prices have continued to appreciate. However, we must realize it’s not just the price of a home that matters, but the price relative to a purchaser’s buying power.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 3.5% over the last year.

Let’s look at three different reports issued recently that reveal how homes are very affordable in comparison to historic numbers, and how they have become even more affordable over the past several months.

1. National Association of Realtors’ (NAR)Housing Affordability Index:

Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis | MyKCM

Here is a graph showing the index going all the way back to 1990. The higher the column, the more affordable homes are:We can see that homes are less affordable today (the green bar) than they were during the housing crash (the red bars). This was when distressed properties like foreclosures and short sales saturated the market and sold for massive discounts. However, homes are more affordable today than at any time from 1990 to 2008.

Busting the Myth About a Housing Affordability Crisis | MyKCM

NAR’s report on the index also shows that the percentage of a family’s income needed for a mortgage payment (16.5%) is dramatically lower than last year and is well below the historic norm of 21.2%.

2. Black Knight’s Mortgage Monitor:

This report reveals that as a result of falling interest rates and slowing home price appreciation, affordability is the best it has been in 18 months. Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske explains:

“For much of the past year and a half, affordability pressures have put a damper on home price appreciation. Indeed, the rate of annual home price growth has declined for 15 consecutive months. More recently, declining 30-year fixed interest rates have helped to ease some of those pressures, improving the affordability outlook considerably…And despite the average home price rising by more than $12K since November, today’s lower fixed interest rates have worked out to a $108 lower monthly payment…Lower rates have also increased the buying power for prospective homebuyers looking to purchase the average-priced home by the equivalent of 15%.”

3. First American’s Real House Price Index:

While affordability has increased recently, Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist explains:

“If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declines just a fraction more, consumer house-buying power would reach its highest level in almost 20 years.”

Fleming goes on to say that the gains in affordability are about mortgage rates and the increase in family incomes:

“Average nominal household incomes are nearly 57 percent higher today than in January 2000. Record income levels combined with mortgage rates near historic lows mean consumer house-buying power is more than 150 percent greater today than it was in January 2000.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve put off the purchase of a first home or a move-up home because of affordability concerns, you should take another look at your ability to purchase in today’s market. You may be pleasantly surprised!

6 Smart Tricks to Make Your Bathroom Look Luxurious

6 Smart Tricks to Make Your Bathroom Look Luxurious

The kitchen takes first place in expenses, as renovations can take quite a bite out of our budget. The runner-up is the bathroom. Marble tile, whirlpool baths, and rain showers are just a few examples of why bathroom renovations can often take a lot of money to go through. Apart from upgrades, is there any other way of achieving that luxurious, high-class image? There are several things you can do to make your bathroom more comfortable, and give it a touch of personality along the way.

One of the easiest ways to transform a home is to repaint the walls. This simple trick works with your bathroom as well. A black and white contrast does wonders, making the room seem more spacious than it is. Whether it is a smaller bathroom or a large one, this simple combination will help smaller details stand out. If this isn’t to your taste, there really is a huge variety of combinations.

Why not try out a wallpaper? Even though it may be time-consuming and costly, you might like the style. This type of change can easily be undone and is a good decision if you’re not thinking of a full renovation any time soon.

If nothing else is to your liking, you could take the more expensive route and tile your bathroom. Whether you’re going for a playful tone or a classy marble tile, there truly is a wide variety of choices. Some recommend neutral colors and simple designs for bathroom tiles, as they’ll always be trendy. On the other hand, if you find single-color tiling boring, feel free to express yourself. Whether you choose glass tiles or simply play with colors to create patterns, there’s enough room to have some fun. Another option is simply tiling halfway up the wall; this creates a sense of space and saves some money along the way.

If you can get the right combination of lighting and color, you’re more than halfway there. First of all, if you have a skylight, it is obvious how much of a luxurious lighting setting you could have. Natural lighting always makes the strongest impact, but sadly, not everyone has natural lighting as an option. Apart from bringing in some light, do some thinking on the source. For instance, instead of a traditional light bar above your bathroom mirror, try placing a sconce or two on the sides of the mirror. Overhead lighting is also a good choice, as the atmosphere it creates is often overlooked. If you’ve spent a lot of time gathering the right accessories, mats, and jars for your bathroom you want to shed the proper light on them.

A Custom Touch
What most people don’t realize is that they can achieve the luxurious look they’re after without much advice in the first place. In most cases, it’s about self-expression. In high-end bathrooms, you’ll find a stool or an ottoman, for instance. You won’t have trouble finding a use for them, and they’ll personalize your bathroom somehow. Also, art is second to none in creating a grandiose setting. If you like a certain artist, why not decorate a wall with one of his pieces? If you like being classy, a vintage record player might be right up your alley. Jars are also an increasingly popular way of storing your bathroom supplies. Another way to use these jars is to fill them with potpourri, to create an enjoyable aroma.

Do you have a bathmat? Apart from keeping you safe from slippery tiles, they help a bathroom look complete. You’d be surprised at the wide variety of rugs and custom linoleum mats you can buy to fill up that space. Keep them clean, and they’ll keep your bathroom looking fancy with beautiful colors and patterns.

When it comes to upgrades, people often fear that it’s going to be a costly endeavor, but this doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. What’s most important is that you don’t forget any part of your bathroom, as you want the pieces to work together. For example: if you want to exchange your shower heads for an overhead rain shower, you may want to upgrade your shower screen along the way. There is a wide variety of luxurious shower screens which won’t take a large bite of your funds, and will only add to the luxury.

A Green Touch
We’ve already mentioned potpourri, but how about another natural decoration to fill that empty corner? A vase with your favorite flowers shows you have taste, and makes the room itself seem larger. It’s no wonder that people decorate their homes with flowers wherever they can. While it is true that less is more, when it comes to these types of decorations, you won’t make a mistake.

Final thoughts
The bathroom, alongside your kitchen, will consume the most money when it comes to renovation and improvement. Spending a lot of money isn’t necessarily the way to go if you want to create an image of luxury. People are often surprised at the results they get after playing with colors for a bit. Let your personality spill, and put up a few flowers or bring an accessory or two into the bathroom. If wallpapers aren’t your taste, tiling is still an option, although a costly one. Remember that you want all of the pieces to fall in perfectly with each other. Lastly, don’t forget that light can only help with the image you’re aiming for.

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