A Great Formula For Calculating Home Affordability

A Great Formula For Calculating Home Affordability

illustration of home with price tag affordability norma langston blog

For first time home buyers, getting your foot into the market is difficult. At its core, it comes down to how much you can save and how fast. Saving up for enormous purchases, like a home, can take many years and sometimes decades. If you’re living at your parent’s house, saving is obviously easier because you don’t have expenses. If you’re renting, it can be very difficult to save for a home when you have to contend with everyday living expenses. Additionally, it’s difficult gauging how much you need to save or rather, calculating how large a home you can afford based on what you’ve saved and how much money you have coming in. (more…)

Creative Ways to Maximize Your Storage Space

Creative Ways to Maximize Your Storage Space

When you move into a new home, the last thing you have trouble with is filling up your storage space. Even if you’re a new homeowner or moving into a very large house, it’s just matter of time before all that storage space is used up. The problem is many people resign themselves to the perception that all their storage space is used up and there’s nothing they can do about it. The truth is there are many creative storage solutions that you can employ to maximize your storage space. The following ideas can help! (more…)

Feasting on Thankfulness

Feasting on Thankfulness

Greetings everyone and happy Thanksgiving! I am SO looking forward to a delicious holiday where we will be feasting on THANKFULNESS!  I hope you have big plans with your loved ones, I would love to hear about some of the things you plan to do and food you will be cooking. (more…)

8 Things Pets Secretly Hate About Your Home

8 Things Pets Secretly Hate About Your Home

According to animal behaviorists and vets, certain features or items in a home can make dogs and cats mighty uncomfortable. So if you want to create an environment that keeps your four-legged family members happy, check out this list of home amenities that pets often hate—as well as solutions that you can both live with.

1. Dogs hate hardwood floors

Your gleaming hardwood floors may bring warmth and charm to your home, but dogs find them difficult to walk on. The reason: Slick hardwoods have lousy traction, says Jenna Stregowski, a registered veterinary technician.

“When dogs feel like they have less control, they take their toenails and claw into the surface,” says Stregowski. Hardwood floors can be particularly tough for older dogs or dogs with arthritis.

Solution: Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist and owner of All Creatures Behavior Counseling in Kirkland, WA, recommends placing nonskid area rugs on the ground to make the floors easier for pups to walk on.

Don’t want to cover your beautiful hardwoods? Stregowski suggests buying ToeGrips, nonslip rubber rings that slide onto your dog’s toenails to improve traction.

2. Dogs hate your fireplace

“A lot of dogs don’t like the crackling or popping sound of logs in the fireplace,” says Sung. Meanwhile, if you have a gas fireplace, the ticking sound when you turn it on can also scare your pooch.

Solution: Before using the fireplace, give your dog a bone to distract it.

Bonus: “He’ll begin to associate the fireplace with a treat,” says Sung. “It’s positive conditioning.”

3. Dogs hate scented cleaning products

Strong odors can irritate your dog’s nasal passages. “Even a mild-scented cleaner can be a problem, since [odors] smell stronger to dogs than they do to us,” Stregowski says.

Solution: Use odorless cleaners instead of harsh-smelling ones such as vinegar or bleach.

4. Dogs hate chain-link fences

Enclosing your backyard with a fence gives your dog the ability to roam around without your supervision, but chain-link fences can create anxiety. Why? Because dogs can see through the fence at that squirrel, stray cat, or strange human on the other side, but can’t get past the fence to do anything about it. Bummer. Ever stared at desserts through a window? Same idea—it drives ’em crazy.

Solution: If you’re building a fence, opt for solid panels to block your dog’s line of sight, says Mikkel Becker, an animal trainer at FearFreePets.com, a website that provides online and in-person education to veterinary professionals. If you already have a chain-link fence installed, you can buy wooden boards or vinyl panels to cover the gaps.

5. Cats hate being confined to low spaces

Cats are descended from wild predators that spend a lot of time in trees while they’re hunting, says Nicholas Dodman, author of “Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry.” Consequently, felines crave access to high spaces, and they hate when they can’t access balconies, lofts, or other perches.

Solution: Give your cat spaces to climb. For example, consider building high shelves that are accessible from other furniture, like a sofa or mattress.

6. Cats hate most scratching posts

Cats scratch in order to mark their territory, which is why pet experts recommend homeowners buy scratching posts. Unfortunately, “a lot of scratching posts are made from materials that cats don’t like,” so they don’t use them, says Becker.

Solution: To protect your furniture, buy scratching posts that are made from sisal, a fabric that mimics the rough surface of a tree trunk that cats love to scratch. Also, “make sure that the post is at least 3 feet high, and that it’s anchored to the ground so it doesn’t rock when your cat scratches it,” says Becker.

7. Cats hate tiny litter boxes

Litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes, but you need a litter box that’s large enough for your cat. Buy one that’s too small, and cats may feel inclined to do their business elsewhere.

Solution: Your litter box should be at least one and a half times the length of your cat, says Becker.

Also, “don’t put the litter box in a location that’s difficult for the cat to reach,” says Becker, who recommends transforming a cabinet into a litter box if you’re looking to conceal it. (Just make sure there’s enough ventilation.)

Pro tip: “You want to have at least two litter boxes, because a lot of cats like to go No. 1 in one box and No. 2 in the other box,” says Becker.

8. Cats and dogs hate dark spaces

Like us, cats and dogs need vitamin D from sunlight exposure to protect against osteoporosis, rotted teeth, respiratory infections, and other health issues—which explains why they hate being trapped in dark spaces.

Solution: This one is pretty straightforward: Don’t relegate your pet to dark spaces, like the basement. Open those blinds and let them lie in the sun!

Article source: Daniel Bortz for Realtor.com

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Secrets Inside the Pantry: How the Kitchen Became Real Estate’s Most Valuable Room

Secrets Inside the Pantry: How the Kitchen Became Real Estate’s Most Valuable Room

Secrets Inside the Pantry: How the Kitchen Became Real Estate’s Most Valuable Room

Thanksgiving is almost here, the glorious holiday when many Americans will spend the entire day sweating in the kitchen—and quite possibly several additional days prior to that, stressfully prepping. As for the big day itself, that oversized fowl will take three to five hours to cook, depending on its girth, and then there are side dishes to prepare and pies to bake. So many side dishes and pies!

After a brief reprieve to actually peck at the food, you’re back in the most important room in your home to clean up a monumental mess.

Even apart from Flightless Bird Consumption Day, Americans are spending more waking hours in the kitchen—cooking, eating, and socializing—than ever before. That’s why the kitchen has become the most obsessed-about and downright valuable room in real estate. But we want details! So we decided to tap our ever-hungry data team to dive into the statistics and apply some cool, hard numbers to this hot obsession.

What we discovered: some fascinating facts about the way we cook and eat today, how that shapes the features we want in our home kitchens, and how they drive the prices that we’re willing to pay. Let’s head to the SousVide machines!

Kitchen confidential No. 1: A trophy kitchen sells your home better than anything elseOnce a small, functional space tucked away at the back of the house, the American kitchen has emerged as the showpiece of the home. Top-of-the-line-appliances, rich cabinets, and shining stone countertops have become status symbols. And catnip for home buyers.

“It’s almost not worth calling it a kitchen anymore—it’s a living room that you can cook in,” says Christopher Peacock, a high-end cabinetry designer in Norwalk, CT.

In real estate, the data proves that the kitchen has become the most important room in home buying and selling. Of all homes listed for sale on realtor.com®, 69% of them tout the kitchen as a selling point in their descriptions, compared to 49% that mention the bedrooms and 21% that mention the living room.

Homes that include a “killer kitchen” or “luxury kitchen,” as described by the sellers, sell 8% faster than similar-sized homes in the same ZIP code. And that’s why they’ve become a key part of renovation plans, home decor upgrades, and listings descriptions. Vive la cuisine!

Kitchen confidential No. 2: Small homes no longer mean small kitchens

You can turn out a holiday meal from a cramped galley kitchen, but would you want to? Across the United States, the size of home kitchens varies by region. And you might be surprised to find out which regions of the country love their kitchens the most.

Homes in the Mid-Atlantic region—New York and Pennsylvania—have the largest kitchens (at an average of 170 square feet); while the wide-open West North Central region—the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa—have the smallest kitchens (153 square feet), according to a report from the American Kitchen and Bathroom Association.

While larger homes tend to have larger kitchens, the scale of the increased kitchen size is not proportional to the overall home, the report notes.

“We see extra space in the Mid Atlantic, where people are more affluent, and prime land is relatively inexpensive. In the Southwest, where families are bigger and need a bigger kitchen. And, of course, everything is bigger in Texas,” says Javier Vivas, realtor.com’s economic researcher.

High-end kitchen mania is not universal, however. In America’s heartland, people appear to be less enthusiastic about investing in a luxury kitchen. Affordability, efficient layout, and outdoor features are more appealing to these folks. More of them are maximizing the utility of a small kitchen with clever organizers, like racks that can be attached to a drawer. A rolling island, which can be used both as a prep area and dining surface, is becoming a popular way to save sanity on Thanksgiving Day, says Heidi Féliz-Grimm with Martha O’Hara Interiors in Minneapolis.

Kitchen confidential No. 3: Some features add big value, some don’t

If you want to keep your home from looking dated, you need to up the ante in the kitchen. At the same time, kitchen renovations really can cost you—so home owners need to be wise about putting their money where their mutton is (or where it could be, judiciously broiled and served with rosemary and garlic-infused fingerlings. Delicious!)

As we can see from our listings, some features are better at adding value than others. Custom cabinets that pull the kitchen together, a center island that holds everything you need, and a capacious pantry to stock with your favorite essentials are among the most frequently mentioned features.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you should probably stay away from over-the-stove microwaves, maple cabinets, and 4 x 4 tile floors—those are so yesterday.

Kitchen confidential No. 4: The chef’s kitchen is growing in popularity

If budget is not a concern, having a professional chef’s kitchen is the ultimate dream. Currently, 4.7% of homes on the market describe their kitchen as a “chef’s kitchen” or “gourmet kitchen,” up from 3.3% three years ago. Homes with this feature carry a median price tag of $589,900.

While there’s still no standard definition of what a “chef’s kitchen” includes, we were able to calculate which features are most frequently associated with one. The idea is becoming more and more specific and tangible to homeowners and would-be buyers alike.

The No. 1 principle: Think big, and bigger. That means an oversized fridge (it’s even better to have a separate fridge and freezer); dual commercial-quality ovens to separate the main dish and the sides, a six-burner stovetop (or two!) so your pans don’t crowd each other, and a butler’s pantry that serves as a catering station.

Those are the most touted gourmet features, but we also couldn’t help drooling over indulgences like a walk-in refrigerator, blast chiller (it cools beverages and food within minutes), and a wood-fired pizza oven.

Kitchen confidential No. 5: The nation is split—between open kitchens and formal dining rooms

For years, HGTV has been telling us to knock down walls and open up the kitchen, so that families can spend more time together, whether they’re cooking or eating.

“I can’t even remember the last time somebody asked me to put a wall in their kitchen,” says Féliz-Grimm.

But the formal dining room still has a hold on some parts of the country. For each state, we counted the number of homes in our listings that mention explicitly whether they have an open kitchen or a formal dining room. Here we present you with the United States of America—divided by kitchen layout:

In New England, where many of the country’s oldest homes tend to be smaller, opening up the kitchen and creating a feeling of space is the focus of many home renovation projects. In the Southwest, where balmy weather dominates most of the year, an open floor plan increases natural light and the connection to the outdoors.

This does not apply in the South, where the formal dining room has been a tradition for centuries. People are far more likely there to enjoy their turkey with all the family in a separate dining room, often lit up with chandeliers and adorned with plush drapery.

Article by Yuqing Pan for Realtor.com Follow @YuqingPan

What The Color Of Your Front Door Says About You

What The Color Of Your Front Door Says About You

What The Color Of Your Front Door Says About You

There are several different ways you can increase the curb appeal of your home, some simple, some more complex. Colorful flowers, garden lights, a well-manicured lawn and a chic mailbox are just a few examples. The most fun example would have to be your door color.

In many cases, people choose to go with an accent color, not necessarily a color that matches the exterior of their home. This opens the door (pun intended) to many possibilities. For this reason, your door says a lot about who you are.

Here are some of the many colors you can paint your door and what it could say about you.

1. Red

Red is a bold yet traditional color to paint your door. The brightness of the color suggests that the inside is lively and exciting. Traditionally a red door screams ‘come on in’ and is reflective of an extroverted, hospitable personality; somebody who’s always willing to host.

2. Blue

One of the most popular colors to paint your door is blue. It signifies peace and serenity. If your door is blue, you view your home as a refuge from the dastardly chaos of the outside world. You’re a calm peaceful individual and there’s no better place to kick back and relax.

3. Black

While black doesn’t mean stay away, it isn’t emblematic of the ‘mi casa su casa’ philosophy. It speaks of a very strong personality that demands order, authority, and power. When invited to a home with a black door, feel confident that you’re welcome, but don’t put your feet up on the coffee table.

4. Brown or Natural

A brown or natural finish signifies a very down to earth person. Like the earth, brown suggests stability, integrity, and reliability. If your door is brown, you value genuine people and create a non-judgemental environment where they can flourish.

5. Yellow

If your door is yellow, you’re probably a morning person and use a lot of exclamation points! It screams energy, positivity, and excitement! It also signifies confidence, that you’re not afraid to stand out and are very comfortable rubbing off on some of your less enthusiastic guests.

6. Green

If you paint your door green, you’re likely a very driven and ambitious person. Green is strongly associated with growth and money, which often go hand in hand. An ambitious person is not only looking to grow their wealth, but also enrich their lives. It goes without saying that green is one of the most popular colors to paint your door.

10 Anti-Burglary Tips When Selling Your Home

10 Anti-Burglary Tips When Selling Your Home

10 Anti-Burglary Tips When Selling your Home

When you are opening your doors to the public for showings, you need to take extra precautions. Here are a few suggestions to help keep your belongings safe.

After the holidays, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars? It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”

If you are selling your home and opening your doors to strangers, this is just one example of a habit that could put you in danger. Let’s use this as a jumping-off point to have a deeper conversation about safety in your home, especially if you are selling.

National Snapshot of Burglaries

A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United States report. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.

Consider using this checklist to better prepare yourself when you have interested buyers coming to your door:

  1. Maintain your property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.
  2. Know your neighbors. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.
  3. Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind.
  4. Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
  5. Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, simple lamp timing devices available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
  6. Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
  7. Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office.
  8. Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
  9. Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
  10. Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.
FHA Loans are an Important Option in the Mortgage Market

FHA Loans are an Important Option in the Mortgage Market

FHA loans are government-backed loans that often have a much lower interest rate than a conventional (traditional) loan. Before you right off these loans as impossible options, keep in mind that millions of people are benefiting from them right now.  In fact, FHA has increased its loan amount to upwards of $250,000 in most areas, making FHA Loans an important option in the mortgage landscape.  Here are five ways that FHA loans can help you to obtain the home you are looking for, or help you in other ways.

5 Ways that FHA loans can help you get the home you are looking for:

#1: Lower Interest Rates: The main benefit of FHA loans is to provide individuals with a lower interest rate. If the FHA is backing your loan, you are less of a risk to the lender. Therefore, they agree to offer you a slightly lower interest rate. This translates into an interest rate that could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of that loan. That is money in your pocket.

#2: Better Qualifications: Many lenders have increased their standards in lending money. If you do not have a credit score over 700, then our best bet to getting a low interest rate home loan is with the FHA loans. You do not have to have as much down to qualify for these loans either (usually 3.5%)

#3: Help Getting Out of a High Interest Loan: Perhaps you have a high interest rate loan. You are paying much more than the current low rates that are available. FHA loans can help you to get a low rate even on refinances. Definitely, worth looking forward to since it will drastically cut the amount it costs to buy your home.

#4: You Need Help: There are a number of programs available through the FHA to help you to get out of a troublesome home loan. You can stop foreclosures and often stop your overall risk of losing your home by taking advantage of these programs. If you need this help, contact an FHA loan specialist today.

#5: You Are A First Time Home Buyer: For those who have yet to buy a home and are worried about doing so, FHA loans can help. These loans are highly affordable and they are ideal for the first time homebuyer unsure of what to do next.

FHA loans can help millions of people to get into the homes they want and need, or to protect them from losing their investment. Contact a professional today to learn if you qualify.

PLANNING A MOVE? REDUCE THE STRESS!

PLANNING A MOVE? REDUCE THE STRESS!

PLANNING A MOVE? REDUCE THE STRESS!

If you are planning to take that step and move into a new dwelling, or perhaps to a new city or community, here are some moving tips that will help you get through it as easy as possible. Keep in mind that getting organized FIRST and staying organized is the secret to a reduced-stress-move!

You may want to consider having a professional organizer handle your relocation. There are local organizers who will provide on-site energy, motivation, and fun – giving expert guidance for those tuff decisions you will have to make on what to keep and what to throw out!

If you have ever moved before, you will probably agree that it is best to let a professional moving company help you with your move including doing the packing. If you are moving long-distance, their packers are trained to do the job efficiently, guarding against breakage and loss. Plus, your household items will be insured by the company. It is a general rule that items labeled “packed by owner” (meaning anyone other than the mover) are not insured during the move.

As always, when considering a company to hire to assist with jobs such as moving or organizing, do your research. Comparing costs is one thing, but most importantly would be to make sure the company is a professional and responsible one. A business that provides moving services should only have bonded employees working for them, and an insurance policy that will cover damages to any items they transport. Checking customer and business reviews is a good way to better know who the company really is. It is not hard to check out service companies online or on your social networks – ask for recommendations from your friends on who they have successfully used.

When it comes to unpacking, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Keep in mind that when you pay movers to unpack, they don’t put anything away. So everything you own ends up on all surfaces, including the floor. Be sure to label the boxes with the content and location they belong to so the movers can place them in the appropriate place, then you go to work room by room, unpacking and placing the contents.

With so many things to consider in the process of a move, here are some helpful ideas:

1 – Create a moving notebook or folder or ask your Realtor for a MOVING CHECKLIST. Keep all of the paperwork related to your move in one place. Make notes, keep your checklist current, and keep receipts and documents.

2 – Log on to your utility sites or a website like https://myutilities.com/ that can manage all of your utility changes in one place. Shop and set up your utilities and complete your change of address notification. Most utility companies will allow you to search for and connect to the services you need in your new area including: electricity, water, gas, cable/satellite TV, Internet/phone, and more.

3 – Create a moving calendar to schedule and track all aspects and tasks required for a successful move, such as changing utilities, change of address notification, make hotel reservations, defrost the refrigerator, order storage container, pet lodging, etc.

4 – Do your research about resources such as housekeepers who clean empty homes, carpet cleaners, reputable van lines and technology specialists, etc. Ask your Realtor for local recommendations.

5 – It’s time for the “great-give-away”. Why move things you no longer need or use? Find another home for them: favorite charities, recycling centers, family members, and garage or estate sales. People want what you don’t need.

6 – Don’t forget that all-important survival box packed with your bed linens, coffee pot and other must-have items. This box should be last-on and first-off the moving van.

7 – Cash for tipping the packers, loaders, and driver for superior service. You want them to take good care of your belongings.

Congratulations! You and your stuff made it to your new digs. Now, save your back by using furniture moving pads to slide heavy furniture around – it’s a cinch and doesn’t scratch the flooring.

Today’s Opportunities are Better than Ever for Real Estate Investing

Today’s Opportunities are Better than Ever for Real Estate Investing

In today’s real estate market there are deals available for those who are ready to invest.In fact, today a buyer can buy real estate and have a better cash flow than in years past. A few years ago an investor would be happy with buying an investment property that could cash flow $200.00 a month over the mortgage payment. That was figured on a 20-year mortgage including taxes and insurance. Today you can buy rentals that will cash flow up to $400.00-$500.00 or more per month.

TODAY’S OPPORTUNITIES ARE BETTER THAN EVER.

 

 

Plan your future with rental houses in it. Buying investment property today comes with low interest rates, resulting in lower payments. PLUS, due to the high demand for housing across the country and in DFW, rent prices continue to rise.

Once you buy an investment property, follow the model of successful investors and hire a professional management company to handle the day-to-day minutia. Spend your time locating those real buys and let a property management company do the management.

Be sure to look at homes that need work. Mortgage companies are not generally interested in spending more funds repairing them, resulting in you getting a lower price. All sounds real simple, right? It doesn’t have to be complicated, following a few simple steps will help you get started. The following tips will keep you on track as you grow into a real estate mogul with successful investing!

5 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL REAL ESTATE INVESTING

Make a plan – Determine how many houses you want to purchase per quarter, per year, and know how much cash-flow you want each property to produce for you over and above mortgage, insurance and expenses. Other items to plan for are:

  1. What areas do you want to target? Look for properties that meet your criteria in the areas that you choose.
  2. Look for a win/win in every purchase; it needs to work for you, the bank and the owner.
  3. Don’t get emotional, learn to negotiate – this a business purchase.
  4. Remember that ugly ducklings can be made beautiful. Look for properties you can fix up to increase the value of the neighborhood – which in turn increases your investment.
  5. Know your objectives – Write out your objectives for investing.

Do you want to –

> build future wealth on investments that will cash-flow itself while building a retirement income on a 20-year note,

> build short-term wealth that provides a monthly income from the cash-flow on a 30-year note,

> or, get immediate cash by buying low and flipping (fixing up and selling for a profit)?

Set your Parameters – Determine the parameters in advance, i.e. what type of house will you buy? What type of lease will you take? What can you afford to buy?

> Go for the lower maintenance, more popular styled home for your area: i.e. 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2-car garage, central heat and air, with brick exterior. Remember, the better quality home the better quality tenant/lease you will be able to secure. Stay away from homes that require continuous maintenance and upkeep (i.e. homes with wood siding).

> Go with a minimum 2-year lease. A tenant who signs a 2-year lease will most likely sign for another 2 years, and another 2 years – you are already 6 years, into paying off your investment!

> Know how much money you can invest in a property without breaking YOUR bank! Look for REO’s and houses that have been on the market for a very long time (180 days +).

> Get your $$$$$ in order – Of course you will have to get your credit in order and have a good relationship with your lender.

Here are a few “secrets” from the experts to continue your success:

  • Have a 6 month “emergency” fund put back to protect you and your investments.
  • Save money to take care of your future. No one else can do this for you.
  • Pay attention to your business, your assets, what you are spending and what you are saving.
  • Learn to GIVE. It will come back to you.

Use a property management company – One of the biggest mistakes and “time guzzlers” is in trying to manage your investment properties yourself. Experts advise you NOT to manage your properties yourself…”don’t worry about the $45 and $50 items that need to be fixed at your property, instead focus on the $40,000 equities that are out there!”

A property management company will take care of these things for you, freeing your time and resources to develop your investment portfolio:

  • advertising your vacant property
  • thoroughly screening a prospective tenant
  • performing move-in, move-out and periodic inspections d. expediting emergency repairs
  • handling regular maintenance and upkeep of your property
  • overseeing any legal or collection issues

Real estate investing is a proven way to build wealth, and anyone can start! Use these simple tips to get started then contact Norma Langston to help you with your first purchase.

 

 

 

10 TIPS TO MAKING YOUR HOME MORE ECO-FRIENDLY

10 TIPS TO MAKING YOUR HOME MORE ECO-FRIENDLY

10 TIPS TO MAKING YOUR HOME MORE ECO-FRIENDLY

Did you know it’s possible to cut down your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint without drastically changing your lifestyle at home? The following are several quick and easy ways to make your home more eco-friendly while keeping your home stylish and comfortable.

1. Swap those old bulbs

It’s possible to save more than 66% energy just by tossing out all your incandescent light bulbs and switching them with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs. The difference is enough that you’ll save 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions for every incandescent light bulb you replace.

2. Use more extension leads

Sometimes, you’re using energy without even realizing it. By hooking up more appliances and electronics to the same multi socket extension leads, you can consume up to 15% less energy by turning the the extension leads off at night, when nothing is in use, or when you’re on vacation.

3. Look for the Energy Star seal

If an appliance is Energy Star Qualified it means that it is designed to consume much less energy than other models. Depending on the device, some can use anywhere from 10% less energy to even 50% less.

4. Use vinegar, the natural cleaner

Instead of buying chemical-heavy products, you can often just use vinegar as a green, natural multipurpose cleaner. Keep in mind that vinegar shouldn’t be used for everything, such as stone tile floors or hardwood floors.

5. Cook more efficiently

Although not every dish comes out as good, using a microwave can reduce energy consumption by up to 50% when compared to a conventional oven. It’s also wise to use certain cookware that don’t require as high a temperature, mainly: silicone, glass, and ceramic dishes. It’s also wise to only open a heated oven when you absolutely need to since opening the door for only 30 seconds can decrease the temperature by more than 100 degrees.

6. Use eco-friendly scents and paints

We all love using fragrances, especially in the bedroom. But those made of synthetic and chemical materials are not helping our planet. Instead, go for scents that are non-aerosol and made entirely of essential oils. Eco-paints also do their part by containing much less volatile organic compounds when compared to regular paints.

7. Watch for wasted water

You’d be surprised by how much water some people waste. For example, keeping the water running while the toothbrush is scrubbing away in your mouth is a big no-no. Leaving a leaky tap on the to-do list all year can also cost you nearly 200 liters of water per week.

8. Go for low-flow

Nothing uses more water in your home than the toilet. Although it’ll cost you some cash at first, replacing your old porcelain thrones with low-flow ones can drastically reduce water use and save you money in the long run. While you’re at it, you can also opt for low-flow showerheads to save thousands of liters of water a year, especially if you have a big family.

9. Hang dry once in awhile

Dryers require producing a lot of energy to heat up and dry your clothes in the time that they do. Give them a break occasionally by hang drying your clothes instead. And when you wash, try using cold water more often since doing so can save a whopping 85-90% of your energy when compared to using hot water.

10. Garden lover? Use water butts.

A water butt is a container designed to collect and store rainwater, normally for garden use. Putting one or more of these outside during the rainy season can reduce your water consumption by a lot once the hotter months arrive and you want to keep your precious plants alive. While we’re talking about gardens, it’s also very eco-friendly to compost your organic waste instead of buying fertilizers, pesticides, etc.