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The Benefits of Owning a Second Home

As the world emerges from the pandemic era and begins to look for a new normal, we’ve all changed the way we look at homeownership and lifestyle. More and more, families are forgoing exotic vacations and using the savings to enhance their home for staycations. In addition to the home improvement boom, the second home market has also exploded. Owning a second home was once a privilege for the rich and famous, but now even those with a modest income can purchase a second home.

There are some great benefits to owning a second home. The first is enjoyment. Many people buy a second home to get a change of scenery. With more companies offering a work-from-home option, spending winter in a warmer climate has become feasible for the average person.

There are financial advantages to buying a vacation home. A second home can help you save money on your taxes. The mortgage and property taxes of a second home can be deducted from your income in the same way a primary home is. The property can also be rented out while not in use to provide extra income or pay for the costs of the home.

Owning a second home can enhance the lifestyle of the family. Building equity in two properties will build wealth more quickly while providing an alternate location for work or fun.

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Outdated Staging Tricks You Need to Stop Using Immediately

If you are selling your home, no doubt you’re getting lots of advice about how to stage your home to appeal to potential buyers. Maybe you’ve spent time online reading about curb appeal, maybe your friends have given you advice about how to make your home brighter, or maybe the advice has even come from your listing agent; regardless of the source, here are a few outdated staging tricks you should NOT be using.

• Baking – While it’s a nice idea to have treats available, buyers know that the smell of freshly baked bread is a trick, and they may be suspicious of any odors you’re trying to mask.
• Fresh Scents – Of course, it’s important that the home smells fresh; however, using overpowering candles or room fresheners can be overwhelming. It’s better to open windows to allow a crisp breeze to enter the space, or perhaps place freshly cut flowers.
• Elevator Music – It might seem like a home filled with smooth jazz would lend a relaxing feel, but it could have the opposite effect. Not only is it difficult to gauge the right volume, but it’s outdated and corny.
Matchy-Matchy – Matched sets and uniform color palettes will make a home feel dated. Mix up the colors and patterns of pillows, bedspreads, and window treatments.
• Holiday Decorations – If your home is listed during a holiday, keep decorations to a minimum. Less is more for decorations of any kind; keep the home clean and as much of a blank slate as possible.

Staging a home is an art. The best strategy is to consult with an expert. Your agent can offer some suggestions for  staging which will make sure your home presents itself in the best possible light.

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Buyers and Sellers – Stay Focused on Your Goal

Buying or selling a home can be stressful, even in normal times. Right now, when the housing market is moving at a frenetic pace, both buyers and sellers are making quick decisions and are feeling extreme pressure. As the tension rises, it can be easy to overlook the end goal; right-sized home, relocation, dream home, etc. Try not to lose focus!

Buyer Challenges

Facing a very tight inventory of available properties, buyers have limited time to arrange to tour homes and knowing they must make a quick decision once they have. Buyers do not have the luxury of a second look or hesitation and often are competing against multiple offers, adding to the pressure.

Seller Challenges

Sellers are also feeling the challenge of the frantic pace. While it is nice to have multiple offers from which to choose, the fact that the offers are at times being made sight-unseen means that some of the offers may not be the buyer’s first choice and they could lose a “real” offer by choosing to work with the wrong one. In addition, if the seller intends to buy another home, then they will be in the same position as the buyers once they enter that side of the competitive market.

The bottom line in each case, however, is to stay focused on the end goal. Why are you looking to buy or sell? Working with your agent, and relying on their experience, keep your eye on the prize and recognize that the goal will be worth the effort.

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New Construction: Is It Right for You?

New construction home developments have sprung up across the country. They show beautiful new designs in both living spaces and exterior details. It’s appealing to have the ability to choose your flooring, countertops, cabinets, lighting and other features—moving into a home no one has ever lived in. Yet, there are also good reasons to consider a resale home as well. Understanding the advantages of each, you can decide if new construction is right for your needs.

Brand New Construction Home

The first advantage for new construction is that everything is new, fresh, modern, and includes the latest design trends. Appliances and windows will be energy efficient and include all the newest features. Homebuyers will also find no need to budget for repairs since everything is new and should include a warranty.

Resale Home

A resale home can offer great value to homebuyers. The home will already have landscaping and upgrades installed, saving out-of-pocket costs. Resale homes also tend to have larger lots in established neighborhoods. Property taxes may also be lower because the infrastructure is already in place. Finally, the buyer can easily research schools, safety and amenities which may still be under construction in new developments.

Both new construction and resale homes have benefits. If you are in the market for a new home, consider the options in your area and compare real costs and benefits. Knowing the difference can save you money and help you find the right home for your needs and lifestyle.

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Your Tax Refund Can Get You One Step Closer to Homeownership

Saving money each month toward a long-term goal is increasingly difficult for most people. Even committed savers can get thrown off track when unexpected problems or opportunities arise. It can be difficult to envision how $200 a month can add up to a new home; the dream of homeownership continues to get pushed back in favor of more immediate needs.

For many of these potential homebuyers, their tax refund can be a big step forward in their saving goals. Received in a lump sum, a tax refund is easier to see as a meaningful dollar amount. The average IRS refund is almost $3,000. This, added to an already growing savings account, can be a great bonus.

In addition to adding to your down payment fund, a tax refund can also be used to increase your credit score. Debt accumulation and use is the largest factor in determining a borrower’s credit score (FICO). A low FICO score can result in thousands of extra dollars in interest and origination fees when getting a home loan. Working with a lender, strategically reducing the debt ratio can add borrowing power to a potential buyer; lowering the cost of the loan and allowing more of the monthly payment to go toward the home itself instead of interest.

It’s tax refund time. Before you head to the electronics store to put that money toward a bigger TV, consider how your tax refund can help you achieve your homeownership goals.

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Tips to Quickly Make Your Home Show-Ready

Everyone dreams of living in a model home – a beautiful modern room with the perfect vase of flowers sitting decoratively on a glass side table. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work this way. Our homes tend to look more “lived in” with a pile of shoes by the front door, school books on the kitchen table, and cat hair on the sofa.

If you have your home listed for sale, then you also know the stress of looking around your home after a phone call requesting a showing with a few minutes’ notice. You want your home to show well so the buyers can see the beauty of the home you love, but with such short notice, how can you convert the lived-in look to a show-ready property?

Fortunately, there are a few tricks for helping you keep your home show-ready at any time.

• Plan in Advance – Before you even list your house, consider the adjustment you’ll need to make in your lifestyle. Move non-essential items to a storage unit, to not only create visual appeal but make it easier to clean quickly.
• Containers – A simple way to quickly eliminate toys, clothes, shoes, sports equipment, and other items is storage bins. Keep some handy to throw excess items into before a buyer shows up, and move them to the garage or basement, or even the back of a vehicle.
• Establish a Routine – Get everyone in the family involved in establishing a daily routine. The less clutter that accumulates, the easier it is to move out of sight quickly. All family members should have morning and evening duties to keep the home tidy. If things are kept up on a daily basis, it will make the clutter and mess less overwhelming.

Unfortunately, your life doesn’t stop just because you’ve listed your home for sale. Keep it show-ready by preparing in advance, so those last-minute buyers can see your home’s charm and not the day’s clutter.

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7 Cool Ways to Repurpose Old Furniture

Are you looking for a fun project that will add some pizzazz to your home – that doesn’t require a degree in carpentry? Before you leave your old furniture on the curb with a sign that says, “free to good owner,” here are 7 creative ideas that will revitalize that furniture and leave anyone feeling handy.

1.Rustic Planter – Enhance any backyard space by painting an old bedroom side table with a fun color, pull out the drawer, and use it as a planter.
2. Kitchen Island – No built-in island? Transform an old dresser by adding a custom countertop. The drawers will come in handy also.
3. Crib Appeal – We all need more storage. Take off one of the side rails of that old crib and add a piece of glass or butcher block on top to make a cool bookcase or craft table.
4. Cabinet Door Headboard – Reuse those old cabinet doors by creating a custom headboard for a guest bedroom. Paint white or multi-colors for a country chic look.
5. Vanity Transformation – Remove the backing from an old dresser, add a sink, and you have a cool vanity for your bathroom.
6. Bedspring Bottle Holders – No wine rack? No problem. Remove old mattress bedsprings, attach to a wood panel, and store your wine bottles with this cool rack.
7. Pet Bed – Every pampered pet needs a bed. A drawer from an old dresser makes a cool pet bed. Attach some short furniture legs and add a cushion for indoor or outdoor use.

If you have some time on your hands and old furniture to get rid of, maybe you can repurpose them and spruce up your décor at the same time with these fun ideas.

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10 New Real Estate Trends

Current trends in real estate include a mix of positive and negative developments. The market has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic that has created a new housing environment which is expected to alter the way we approach real estate for the next few years, and maybe beyond.

Here are the 10 key emerging real estate trends:

1. Increased Homeownership – Homeownership rates increased in 2020 and by 5% by the end of 2021.

2. Lower Interest Rates – Lower consumer spending during stay-at-home orders have resulted in lower interest rates, helping affordability ratios.

3. Steep Increase in Housing Prices – Real estate has entered a seller’s market that may increase inventory, slowing the pace.

4. Millennial Home Buying Strong – Millennials comprise 38% of the home buyers and seek mid-to-upper-middle class homes.

5. Affordable Homes Popular – 87% of the homes purchased were resale as millennials opted for homes needing TLC and updating over turnkey properties.

6. Shift to Second-Tier Cities – Real estate investors and buyers moved out of high-cost markets to second-tier cities and suburbs.

7. Technology Impact – Real estate professionals are using online home selling platforms, apps, social media, and smart home technology to enhance effectiveness.

8. Mortgage Interest Rates Expected to Settle – As the economy continues to grow, experts expect interest rates to rise and then settle.

9. More Demand for Luxury Homes – In the 3rd quarter of 2020, high-end home sales increased 60.7% year-over-year and this trend is expected to continue as more buyers prioritize an at-home lifestyle.

10. Smart Home Technology to Attract Tenants – Property managers are offering smart home technology in rental units to attract and retain tenants

The Covid-19 pandemic has left a strong effect on the US housing market. The next decade will be shaped by some of the trends explained here.

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5 Reasons Selling Without an Agent is a Bad Idea

Do-it-yourself projects are in vogue these days. You can find advice online for everything from investing in crypto-currency to tearing down the living room wall. When considering the cost of moving, it’s natural to wonder if real estate commissions are one way to save money, but it would be a mistake. A good real estate agent might make it seem easy, but the fact is that selling your own home could actually cost you thousands of dollars.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Sell Your Home without an Agent

1. The Safety of Your Home and Family is a Priority – Real Estate agents control access to your home.
2. Most Serious Buyers Start their Search Online – A professional listing area will market your home aggressively online, which is where the buyers are searching.
3. The Buyer Might not be Qualified – A real estate agent knows how to qualify a buyer and what to look for with lender letters. Selling your home on your own risks wasted time with an unqualified buyer.
4. You Don’t Know How to Negotiate Properly – Every aspect of a real estate transaction is negotiable; you don’t have the experience to know what to negotiate to get the best deal.
5. You Could Expose Yourself to Liability – Required disclosures and paperwork for a home sale is extensive; unless you plan to use an attorney, you could miss critical disclosures and expose yourself to financial harm.

Finally, more often than not, sellers net more when they use an agent than when they try to do it themselves. In addition to selling faster, a professional agent knows how to properly price and promote your home, ensuring you get the best possible sales price and terms.

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Keeping Up with Smart Homes

It seems almost everything is connected these days. Want to check the temperature of your oven from outside? See how much milk you have in the refrigerator from the market? It’s possible! You can now control almost every aspect of your home from your smartphone. Yet with all this connectivity, you need a powerful internet network. If you’ve suddenly realized you have “dead spaces,” then it might be time to consider a mesh network.

A basic wifi network relies on the antennae of the router to reach all the connected devices. A mesh network uses a series of access devices that connect to the main hub and each other – forming a mesh of coverage. This helps eliminate the dead spaces because, in essence, you are creating overlapping wireless zones.

Smart devices benefit from the mesh network system. Unlike extenders that have their own identity, every device in a mesh network has the same name. This provides seamless coverage as smart products move between connectors. For example, items such as camera systems or multiple thermostats stay on the same network, allowing them to better coordinate with each other.

The smarter our homes become, the greater the strain on our internet connections. Mesh networks are just one way to ensure the best possible coverage throughout your home and property. Smart products are only valuable when they are online.