Seasonal Home Maintenance

Seasonal Home Maintenance

A big part of the American dream is owning your own house. But, as the saying goes, there’s always something that needs taking care of, whether big or small. Stay on top of regular home maintenance tasks, and you’ll avoid many costly repairs. Here’s a home maintenance checklist that you can use to get the job done and keep your house in prime shape.

Fall, like spring, means it’s time to make a thorough check of much of your home’s infrastructure.

  • Install fresh batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Test and dust all detectors
  • Check fire extinguishers
  • Clean kitchen exhaust hood and filter
  • Drain sediment from hot water heater
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils
  • Insulate exposed pipes as needed
  • Schedule furnace inspection
  • Remove or cover window air conditioners
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned
  • Remove screens and install storm windows
  • Turn off the outdoor water supply, remove and store hoses
  • Inspect the roof for damage
  • Clean gutters
  • Inspect caulk around windows and doors; recaulk as needed
  • Clean up leaves and other yard debris
  • Trim trees and shrubs away from the house
  • Inspect the deck for any nails or screws that may be popping up
  • Cover or store outdoor furniture
Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise

In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling another strong indicator of the current housing market.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced,

“The homeownership rate of 64.8 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2018 (64.4 percent), but was 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Remains on the Rise | MyKCM

Today there is still a lack of inventory, particularly at the entry and middle-level segments of the market, but that is not stopping buyers from making every effort to pursue homeownership. The many financial and non-financial benefits continue to drive the American Dream and will likely do so for generations to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, let’s get together to make your dream a reality. This is the perfect time of the year!

Preparing for the Holidays

Preparing for the Holidays

Are you someone who starts celebrating holidays early? Do you resist playing Christmas music until December 1 and wish stores wouldn’t start their Christmas displays before Halloween?!

I feel you!! However, it’s not a bad idea to spend a little time in the fall thinking about and planning ahead for the holidays. While it might be a little early to get the holiday decorations out, still there are a few things we can do now to help make the holidays less stressful and more joyful.

Why do holidays bring stress?

We want to make the holidays special. Nothing wrong with that. But that often means a lot of events get added to the schedule. While they are fun, they can add to the stress level.

The last quarter of the year can be a stressful time for many people at work as well. One article aimed at entrepreneurs quotes survey results indicating that “65 percent of Gen Xers reported feeling stressed during the holidays. Baby Boomers came in second at 62 percent, while 61 percent of Millennials said they felt the weight of the holiday rush.”

Another report says that “65 percent of people surveyed said the financial strain associated with gift purchases is the most stressful part of the holidays.”

In addition to money, other sources of stress might be: feeling overwhelmed and overbooked, family conflict, and feeling sad when everybody else is cheerful. Let’s face it, not everyone is happy during the holidays.

What can we do now to prepare?

How can we get a head start on preparation for the holidays and make the season less stressful? Here are ten things we can do to prepare now:

1. Plan ahead.

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Sit down with a cup of something and a notebook or your computer and your calendar, and do a mind dump of all the things you usually do or need or want to do during the holidays, starting maybe from mid-October through the New Year’s celebrations. Include it all: family traditions, church or work or community events you need or want to participate in, people you want to give gifts to, food or gifts you want to make, meals you want to serve, parties you plan to host or attend, etc. After you’ve captured it all, take a look and ask yourself:

  • How realistic is your list (keeping in mind daily commitments, stage of life you’re in, etc.)?
  • What can you cut from the list and still have the kind of holiday season you want to have?
  • What can you move around or change now to set yourself up to have the time and energy you need to do the things you actually want to do?

One blogger suggests setting up a holiday planner–either a section of your current planner or a separate planner dedicated to holiday plans. (Her post includes suggests and links to various planners she’s used.)

2. Develop a budget for the holidays.

Think about how much money you’re willing to set aside for each person you want to give a gift to. Having a budget written down now might help you resist the urge to overspend as the holidays get closer.

If the budget is an issue, take steps now to avoid uncomfortable situations during the holidays. Talk to extended family about skipping gifts, or giving gifts only to the children, or drawing names and setting a cap on the amount (so nobody feels embarrassed because somebody else gave a more extravagant gift).

3. Shop ahead.

The steps above will help make it easier for you to get your holiday shopping sooner rather than later. If you have the list of people you want to give gifts to and then brainstorm ideas for gifts for each, you’ll have it top-of-mind when you’re out and can be watching for those perfect gifts and watch for sales on the things you want to give. Also, shopping the smaller local stores and markets is also much easier to do if you plan ahead and start early.

4. Start decluttering.

Cluttered space contributes to anxiety and to a lack of focus. On the other hand, a clean, clutter-free space helps lead to a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.

In addition to the pleasure that comes from having a peaceful, decluttered home, getting rid of the “extra” stuff will also make space for the new stuff that invariably comes at the holidays.

Starting now you can:

  • Clean out refrigerator and pantry well before it’s time to do holiday cooking; non-perishables that you won’t use could be donated to a food pantry.
  • Declutter kids rooms and find things to discard or donate. This might be a new holiday tradition of choosing gently used toys to donate to a shelter. Get the kids involved.
  • Declutter and refresh bathrooms that might be used by guests during holiday parties (same with guest room).
  • Declutter master bedroom and make it a refuge for you during the busy holiday season.
  • Clean out coat closet and make space for guest coats. (Can you donate any coats that have been outgrown or replaced to a shelter?)
  • Clean out a closet or space for gifts, wrapping paper, etc., as you buy them. If you have the space for it, you could even set up a gift-wrapping station where you have everything you need at hand to wrap gifts.

5. Cook/bake ahead.

If you think about holiday meals ahead of time, are there any dishes or treats you traditionally serve that can be made ahead and frozen? Or things you can have in the freezer and pull out to take to a party or serve unexpected guests?

Baking can be a gift choice as well. Why not do some baking and put together pretty boxes filled with homemade treats? You could start doing some of that now.

6. Make reservations for holiday travel.

Book your travel now! Prices are increasing daily!

7. Plan some fun events for yourself and your family.

Plan some fun holiday activities/outings. Check all the surrounding areas and compile a list of festivals/parades, attractions we can enjoy to really get the most out of the season.

Now might be a great time to start investigating the options for memory-making family activities during the holiday season. What does your community offer? What special sights are available near where you live?

Make a little Christmastime bucket list of fun things you can do or places to go, for example: go to a tree lighting ceremony, go ice skating, watch certain movies, have a sugar cookie decorating night, etc. Schedule the must-dos and leave the rest as a list to refer to when deciding what to do with your down time.

8. Get a jump on your holiday cards or letter.

Take a family photo now; assemble/update addresses and begin addressing cards. Start now!

9. Make it meaningful.

Be intentional about keeping your priorities in mind, and think about what’s important to you and your family. Deciding what is really important, especially as kids get older, is key to a happy season and to creating traditions that will last.

One secret to a joyful, lower-stress holiday season might be giving a little thought now so you can plan to manage expectations. If there is something you’ve always historically done, but you decide not to do it, you can start to let others know you are going to do things a little differently. It’s better to talk about it now than to drop a bomb and not meet expectations.

10. Make personal time and self-care a priority, even during the holiday season.

Include some time for self-care–schedule your holiday-time appointments (hair? nails? massage? brunch with a beloved friend?) now.

Leave some white space on your calendar. Filling up every second of the holiday season with events and activity and go-go-go might result in happy memories . . . or it might result in exhaustion and emotional meltdowns. Focus on what’s most meaningful, and carve out time to relax and rest and savor the season’s most special times.

*Article Source: theproductivewoman.com

How to Determine If You Can Afford to Buy a Home

How to Determine If You Can Afford to Buy a Home

The gap between the increase in personal income and residential real estate prices has been used to defend the concept that we are experiencing an affordability crisis in housing today.

It is true that home prices and wages are two key elements in any affordability equation. There is, however, an extremely important third component to that equation: mortgage interest rates.

Mortgage interest rates have fallen by more than a full percentage point from this time last year. Today’s rate is 3.75%; it was 4.86% at this time last year. This has dramatically increased a purchaser’s ability to afford a home.

Here are three reports validating that purchasing a home is in fact more affordable today than it was a year ago:

CoreLogic’s Typical Mortgage Payment

“Falling mortgage rates and slower home-price growth mean that many buyers this year are committing to lower mortgage payments than they would have faced for the same home last year. After rising at a double-digit annual pace in 2018, the principal-and-interest payment on the nation’s median-priced home – what we call the “typical mortgage payment”– fell year-over-year again.”  

The National Association of Realtors’ Affordability Index

“At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month and up from a year ago…All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago…Payment as a percentage of income was down from a year ago.”

First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI)

“In 2019, the dynamic duo of lower mortgage rates and rising incomes overcame the negative impact of rising house price appreciation on affordability. Indeed, affordability reached its highest point since January 2018. Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.”

Bottom Line

Though the price of homes may still be rising, the cost of purchasing a home is actually falling. If you’re thinking of buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, let’s connect so you can better understand the difference between the two.

The Barbie Malibu House is for Real!

The Barbie Malibu House is for Real!

At first I thought, no way, this is too silly, then I read on to find out how this $30 million home has been transformed for a weekend to celebrate Barbie’s 60 years with Mattel! Who would have thought?!

The Barbie Malibu DreamHouse isn’t just a dollhouse—it’s real! And it will soon be up for rent for a very limited time on Airbnb.

In celebration of the Barbie brand’s 60th anniversary, toy company Mattel has made over a house in Malibu to mimic Barbie’s digs. It’ll be rented out for a mere $60 per night, for just one weekend, Oct. 27–29. The listing will go live at 11 a.m. PDT on Wednesday—so set your clocks, Barbie fans, because this opportunity will get snapped up fast!

What it took to turn this house into the DreamHouse

At first glance, this house truly does look like the Barbie Malibu DreamHouse to a T, with its pink furniture and even a second-story slide connected to the pool.

But the house also has a lot of differences, making it more comfortable for real-life guests. For instance, while Barbie, Ken, and friends may have been happy with just one toilet, these lucky renters will appreciate the house’s two bathrooms and two bedrooms, which can comfortably accommodate four guests.

If you’re worried that your odds are slim of being the one to kick back in this mansion, don’t worry: Once Mattel’s celebration is over, the house will go back on Airbnb, just without the Barbie garb. And let’s face it—even without that epic purple slide, this Malibu house is still a fantastic getaway.

How much does this real-life DreamHouse actually cost?

So without the Barbie trimmings, how much is this Malibu house actually worth? According to Los Angeles real estate agent Beatrice de Jong, a house of this size in Malibu with its ocean views and infinity pool would be pricey even without Mattel pulling such a stunt.

“Being so close to Malibu Pier means this house is in a prime beach real estate market and likely worth $30 million,” de Jong says.

And this recent Barbie makeover will likely only add to its value.

“The Barbie Malibu DreamHouse was the first home I coveted, and likely responsible for inspiring many little girls to grow up with a love for real estate,” says de Jong. And besides, she jokes, “Barbie is a true entrepreneur, having career experience working as a doctor, fashion model, an astronaut, and virtually everything else. I am excited to see that she is adding Airbnb host to her resume.”

*Article Source: Realtor.com.