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Essential Components of the Home Tool Kit

A well-equipped home tool kit is not just for weekend warriors and do-it-yourself types. Hanging a picture, tightening a cabinet door, or assembling a Swedish-built cabinet are all moments when one might reach for a tool kit. If your toolbox consists of duct tape and a hammer, a quick, inexpensive trip to the local hardware store can save you lots of time and headache later when you need your tool kit.

Essential Components of the Home Tool Kit

• Hammer – The hammer is the most used tool in any home. Choose one that feels comfortable in your hand and is light enough that you can use easily.
• Screwdrivers – While fancy ratcheting screwdrivers are comfortable, the plain old inexpensive ones work just fine. Make sure you have at least one flat head and one Philips head on hand.
• Nails and Screws – Of course, you’ll need these to go with the first two items on the list. Since these are inexpensive, choose a few sizes to have on hand for various projects.
• Measuring Tape – Alongside the hammer, you’d be surprised how often you’ll use this tool.
• Drill – Drills are versatile tools and useful to hang pictures or tighten screws. Decide whether your preference is cordless or corded.
• Duct Tape – Yes, duct tape does have a role in a well-stocked tool kit.
• Utility Knife – This will not substitute for a saw but small cuts and simple adjustments can be performed easily with this small tool. A box cutter would also work well here.
• Protection – Safety goggles and work gloves offer essential protection from flying debris and hand or eye injuries.

Feel free to add other fun items you find during your stroll through the hardware store. You may never be ready to remodel your entire kitchen, but the right tools will provide you what you need to keep your home in great condition.

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Homeownership Is A Great Hedge Against Inflation

Over the past couple of months, the news of rising inflation is fueling
concern across the country. Currently, inflation is at a 40-year high. This is
impacting household budgets the most as families try to make ends meet
with less buying power. For potential home buyers, rising interest rates may
cause worry that you will not be able to afford the home you want.

While these are all valid concerns, for those who are still able to finance a
home, homeownership is one of the best hedges against inflation and may
be worth stretching your budget to do.

The biggest advantage of owning a home in an inflationary period is a
fixed-rate mortgage stabilizes your largest household expense. Most
people budget 25-45% of their monthly income for housing. As costs
continue to rise, rental rates will rise right along with them. These costs can
far outpace salaries and increase the burden on families.

The second advantage is that home values historically outperform other
assets in appreciation. Owning a home builds equity for the future that is
based on a tangible asset. Even if the home loses value short-term, some
studies show that over 7-years, homeowners should gain more equity than
other investments.

The bottom line is that if you’ve been thinking about buying a home this
year, it makes sense to act, even if interest rates are rising. This allows you
to stabilize your monthly housing expense while potentially building equity
for the future.

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Do You Need a Backup Generator for Your Home?

Many people live where power outages occur quite often. Some neighborhoods have more problems than others. This can be caused by storms or simply an unreliable power grid. If you experience regular power outages, you may be wondering if you need a backup generator. Here are some considerations for you to think about before you buy.

You May Need a Back-up Generator if……

· You store large amounts of frozen/refrigerated food – Do you have a storage freezer or regularly keep large amounts of food on hand?

· You have life-saving medical equipment on-site – Are you or a loved one reliant on medical devices that require power?

· You need electricity to stay warm in winter – Do you  rely on power to generate heat?

· You have essential equipment on site – Do you have systems that must run constantly to prevent damage? A good example is a sump pump that prevents flooding.

If you do need a generator, there are still options you must investigate.

How much power do you need and for how long? Generators need fuel and regular maintenance. They also are loud and emit fumes, so placement is
very important. You can also choose from a permanent whole house backup generator or a portable version.

Power outages can cause serious issues and a home backup generator is a great way to safeguard from loss.

Do you need a backup generator? Consider why you want one and then do some homework. Generators are an expensive investment but may be important for your family.

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Special Benefits of the VA Loan

Our military veterans have given so much to this country. To make it easier for these special families to qualify for and purchase a home, Veteran Affairs has a unique loan offer reserved only for retired and active military.

The VA loan offers mortgage options unavailable to the general public.

• No Down Payment – While zero down loans disappeared in the real estate bubble of the last decade, VA loans allow our military to buy a house without the stress of trying to save the down payment.
• Easier to Qualify – Most loans require a credit score of 650 or higher. Qualifying for a VA loan only requires a FICO score of 620.
• No PMI – PMI (private mortgage insurance) is required for any loan where the loan-to-value falls below 80%.
• Limits on Fees – VA borrowers are protected by strict limits to fees and closing costs. Lenders financing a VA loan cannot charge more than 1% for loan costs whereas typical financing can run as high as 2.4–3%.
• Appraisal Assistance – At times homebuyers run into problems when the appraisal does come back high enough to purchase the home at the agreed-upon price. When this happens, the VA can help by diligently reviewing the report and comparable properties and then asking the lender to adjust the appraisal if it determines that the value is not accurate.

The VA loan is a special loan program offered only to our active and retired military. These families have sacrificed so much for their country, the VA loan might be the only way these families can buy a home of their own.

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Can You Sell an Outdated House?

It seems that everywhere you turn there are companies who advertise buying ugly houses. These messages offer to quickly buy any house, regardless of the condition. The problem is that their offers are often significantly below market value.

If you’re a seller whose home needs some attention, you might think these companies are your only option. Some of the offers sound attractive; quick sale, all cash, no commissions, and no fees. But before you do anything, it’s worth your time to call a local real estate agent for a second opinion.

3 Reasons to Call a Real Estate Agent Now

1. Free Advice – The real estate agent will not charge you anything to simply come look at your home.
2. Your House Might Not Be that Ugly – You may be surprised to find that your home is quite marketable. A few years ago, a 1950s mid-century modern home would have been considered a tear-down. Now, these ranch homes command top dollar and are in very short supply.
3. A Path Forward – If your home does have some issues, the agent can offer some ideas about moving forward. They can suggest local contractors to provide repair/upgrade services or market to investors that might still offer significantly higher prices than the quick-sale guys.

Even outdated houses sell. We are in a seller’s market in almost every part of the country. Selling your home has a large financial impact on you and your family. Don’t make assumptions about value, reach out to a real estate agent, and make sure you understand all your options so you can get the best offer possible.

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Home Renovations for the Aging Population

Approximately 90 percent of seniors over 65 years old intend to stay in their
homes for at least 10 more years, according to AARP. As a result,
remodeling companies report an uptick in the number of customers doing
upgrades and remodels to allow them to age in place.

Fortunately, there are some simple changes you can make to your home to
make your home comfortable and safe as you age.

· Install Grab Bars – Install bars and railings in high-risk locations,
such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

· Ramps – Often older people need assistance when walking. Add a
discreet ramp to the home to allow those needing wheelchairs, walkers, or
canes to enter the home safely.

· Utilize Smart Technology – Smart technology has improved the
security of senior homeowners. Medical alerts, remote security, and
communication systems allow the homeowner access to immediate help in
an emergency.

· Go Hands-Free – Change bulbs and outlets to voice-activated and
changing faucets to hands-free will help those with joint or grip pain.

· Update Flooring – Trip and fall injuries are common as we age, low
pile carpet or non-slip hardscape is best for older homeowners.

· Improve Lighting – Consider nightlights in hallways and bathrooms
and add brighter lighting to living spaces.

Many seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age. Making a few
minor adjustments can help them to that by creating a safer environment
and offering immediate help if necessary. This offers peace of mind for both
the homeowner and those who love them.

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Selling a Property with Tenants in Place

The strong seller’s market has prompted homeowners across the country to consider selling their homes. What if your property is a rental unit with tenants in place? Can you still sell and take advantage of the rising home values? Yes, by understanding the steps and following a few tips, you maximize your profit in this strong market.

The first step in selling your home with tenants in place is to understand your rights and responsibilities. The kind of lease you hold will determine if you can simply give notice to the tenants or if the new owners will buy the home with a lease in place. Only month-to-month leases can be terminated unilaterally with proper notice.

Next, meet with the tenants and discuss the situation. Explain your reasons for selling and assure them that you wish to make it as easy as possible. Offer to sell the home to the renters first, and then discuss any future plans they may have. If they can’t or don’t want to buy the property, you may be able to offer them money to move. Your goal must be to have the cooperation of your tenants so they will help facilitate showings and maintain the home.

When you have tenants who will remain in the home after the close due to their lease, then you must disclose the lease terms to the buyer. The new owner will be legally obligated by the lease. In a strong market, you may find a buyer willing to wait for the expiration of the lease, even if they intend to occupy the home.

Selling with tenants in place doesn’t have to be difficult. Do your homework, understand your obligations and be transparent with the renters and potential buyers. This way, you make it easy on all parties and can reap the reward of high home values.

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How to Survive Your Neighbor’s Construction Project

Any kind of construction project is loud and dirty. For homeowners starting
their project, they have the anticipation of the finished product to look
forward to. But what if the project isn’t your own but your neighbor’s? You
have all the hassle with none of the excitement of the result. Having
construction going on next door is never fun, but you can mitigate the
negative aspects by following a few tips.

Talk to Your Neighbor, then Talk to the Contractor

In a perfect world, your neighbor will come to you first, but this isn’t always
the case. At the first sign of construction, get in touch with the owners and
discuss the scope and timeframe of the project. Discuss any specific issues
or occasions you have planned that the project could impact, such as
family illness, new baby, or backyard celebration

Noise and Dust

Plan to be away as much as possible during the project. Keep doors and
windows closed to prevent particles from entering your home, that can
cause health issues. Check with your local building department to
understand the hours that a construction company can work and work with
your neighbor to hold them accountable.

Finally, remember that this will end. You may need to live next door to the
owner for years to come and maintaining a good relationship with your
neighbors is more important than a few weeks of hassle.

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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.