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June Newsletter

Hello!

With Father’s Day just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking about transforming your man cave into the ultimate relaxation and entertainment space. Read on for easy to implement man cave upgrades as well as information about how comps affect your home’s value and how to convert your space into a smart home!

9 Epic Man Cave Upgrades That Won’t Break the Bank

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your man cave or thinking about gift ideas for Father’s Day, here are some high impact options that won’t break the bank.

Bar Upgrades

Bottle openers – You can rifle through a drawer every time you want to crack open a bottle or you can just install a wall-mounted bottle opener. Wall mounted bottle openers come in a wide variety of styles, so it should be easy to find one that complements your existing decor.

Kegerator – Adding a beer tap to your man cave doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. As a cheaper alternative, use an old fridge and this online kit to create your own DIY version.

Liquor dispenser – Liquor dispensers aren’t just cool they also make it easier to access your alcohol. Buy a liquor dispenser online or find inspiration for your own DIY version on Pinterest.

Supercharge the Entertainment System

Television – The TV is the centerpiece of many man caves, and these days you don’t have to spend a lot to get a bigger, higher-quality screen. If your man cave doesn’t have a lot of windows or has good blinds, consider switching to a projector/screen for an even better viewing experience.

Sound – Have you ever considered adding surround sound to your man cave? Now’s a great time to invest in some audio equipment. Just make sure your setup will work with your TV, computer, and radio so you have the best audio experience no matter the occasion.

Internet – Having a dependable internet connection in your man cave is essential for online gaming and video streaming services. You can hardwire your set top box to your modem to ensure you’re covered if there is a network connection hiccup while you’re watching sports.

Manly Decor

DIY Decor – The cool thing about man caves is that if you don’t have a huge budget, you can work in all sorts of repurposed items and they’ll still look right at home. A couple of cinder block end tables or a few old suitcases hung on the wall for shelving will make your man cave even cozier.

Lighting – Lamps and other light sources are a quick, easy, cost-effective way to add a personalized touch to your man cave. You can find or make lamps out of antlers, liquor bottles, musical instruments, or a variety of other materials. Whatever suits your style!

Video Games – An old school video game cabinet is one of the coolest features a man cave can have – and they’re not that hard to find. You can buy a video game cabinet for anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars or even build your own for a fraction of the price. Find out how here.

 

How Comps Affect Your Home’s Value

The comparable houses (comps) in your area can have a significant impact on your home’s value. Whenever someone sells a home in your area, the listing agent pulls a list of comps and puts them into a document known as a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) for the seller. A CMA is a list of homes sold in the area over the past 3-6 months. It is used to figure out the current value of your home based on comparable homes. A home may be considered similar based on size, number of beds and baths, quality, location, condition, etc.

When home prices are on the rise or investors renovate other homes in your area, increasing that home’s value, your home’s value will likely rise as a result. However, if the market is in decline, sellers do short sells, or banks start foreclosing in your area, it can have a negative impact on your home’s value.

If you’re interested in finding out how the comps in your area are impacting your home’s value, I can help! Not all the houses in your area are the same and it takes a trained real estate agent like myself to find properties that are a reliable representation of homes like yours. Once I’ve done that, I can create a CMA showing you how much your home could be worth. You may be surprised at how much homes like yours are selling for!

 

How to Choose a Voice-Activated Assistant

Smart home technology is becoming more accessible and more helpful than ever before. With the right technology in place, you can control anything from your slow cooker to your home security system via smartphone. To get started, you need to choose a voice activated home assistant.

Each home assistant has its own pros and cons, so figure out what’s most important to you. For example, Apple’s Siri is designed with privacy in mind. The data on your Siri devices will always be encrypted. That’s great, but it means that fewer smart home devices will be compatible with Siri.

Amazon’s Alexa is easy to set up and compatible with most smart home devices, but there are some issues with voice activation and may pose more of a privacy risk compared to other voice activated assistants.

Google’s assistant is probably the cheapest name brand option in the voice-activated assistant market, but it has fewer compatible accessories than other big brand options. There are also dozens of smaller brands available that are even more affordable than Google’s assistant.

Creating a smart home is great, but finding the perfect home is priceless. If you or someone you know is thinking about making a move, I’m here to help!

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What to Repair Before You List

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

Repaint walls.

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.

Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.

Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment

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Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features.

Whether it’s as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!

Create a pathway.

To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color.

Add a wall or border.

Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard.

Install a water feature.

Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard. You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond.

Light your way.

An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye, or highlight objects or plants.

Plant upwards.

Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and get to planting!

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Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

If you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

 

By: Brooke Nally

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5 Steps to Take Before Shopping for Your First Home

When you’re considering buying your first home, you’re probably full of excitement about achieving the American dream. Unfortunately, this dream could turn into a nightmare if you haven’t made sure that you’re financially ready for the costs of becoming a homeowner. You don’t want to fall in love with a house before you’ve done the practical thing and made certain you’re prepared for homeownership. Before you call a realtor, take these five steps to get all your ducks in a row.

House for sale© Getty Images House for sale

1. Calculate what you can comfortably spend

The last thing you want to do is make yourself “house poor” by spending more of your income on a home purchase than you should. The “affordability standard” for housing is that you should spend no more than 30% of your income on housing costs (including insurance and property taxes), while many mortgage lenders prefer that your housing cost is no greater than 28% of your income.

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Your outstanding debts can also impact the amount you can spend on a home. Most lenders want a total debt-to-income ratio — including your mortgage payments and other debts — to be around 36% or less, although you can still get a standard mortgage with a ratio as high as 43%.

This means if your income is $50,000, you could reasonably afford about $1,170 per month for your total housing costs if you stuck to the 28% rule — assuming you didn’t have a substantial amount of other debt that would push your total monthly payments above the recommended 36% of income. If we also assume you can pay 20% down and qualify for an interest rate of 4%, then you could potentially afford a home price of up to $250,000. That may or may not be a realistic price in your area, and you may want to aim lower if you have other sizable debts.

2. Save a down payment of 20%

In our example above, we factored in having a 20% down payment when calculating the price of the home you could afford. Paying at least 20% of the value of the home up front is vital, because it allows you to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI insures your lender in the event that you’re unable to make payments and the lender must foreclose on you. On a $200,000 loan, PMI could cost you $100 a month or more, depending on how much you paid up front — and you could be paying it for several years.

You’re stuck with PMI until you pay your loan down to 78% or less of the home’s original value. Once you prove to your lender that you’ve reached that milestone, your lender is required to drop the PMI requirement. .

If you don’t have a down payment, not only will you waste thousands of dollars on PMI and additional interest payments, but you’ll also put yourself at substantial risk. When you make a 20% down payment on a home, the value of the house would have to fall more than 20% for the home to be worth less than you owe on it. If you only make a tiny down payment, however, even a slight downturn in the market could mean you’re underwater — i.e., your home is worth less than you still owe the bank. This makes it difficult or impossible to sell unless you can bring cash to the real estate closing for the difference between what your house sells for and what you still owe.

3. Save an emergency fund of three to six months’ worth of living expenses

When you’re a homeowner, you are responsible for everything that goes wrong in your house. Instead of calling a landlord when the furnace breaks or the pipes freeze, you have to call — and pay for — a repair man. If the problems are costly to fix, or can’t be fixed, you’re the one on the hook. If you don’t have money set aside to cover maintenance, repairs, and replacements, then you’ll have to use credit. You don’t want to be paying interest on your new fridge for the next 10 years, so make sure you have an emergency fund to cover the many costs of being a homeowner.

Not only can an emergency fund help you pay for surprise repairs, but it can also ensure that you don’t lose your home in the event that an illness, job loss, or other crisis puts a major strain on your household finances. If you cannot pay your mortgage because your income has taken a hit, you could be foreclosed on, lose your house, and end up with ruined credit. You don’t want this to happen, so save up enough money to pay the mortgage for several months in case something goes wrong.

4. Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan

When you have your financial house in order, it’s time to prove to the bank that you’re ready for the responsibility of taking on a mortgage. You want to get pre-approved by your chosen financial institution before you start shopping for a home. Getting pre-approved means you’ll have a clear idea of what the bank will lend you so you don’t shop outside of your price range. You’ll also be taken much more seriously by real estate agents and any potential sellers to whom you make an offer. Some sellers won’t even consider offers from someone who isn’t pre-approved, because there’s no way to know whether the financing will be available to complete the sale.

If you want your bids to be competitive and you want to know you’re shopping for houses that are priced right, provide your financial information to the bank before you start house shopping and get a pre-approval letter to take with you.

5. Find a buyer’s agent

Although you can technically buy a house without an agent, it’s usually a bad idea to try it — especially if it’s your first home. An agent can help you spot red flags that should send you running away from a prospective home. Agents know the market and can help you make a reasonable offer so you don’t overpay, and they can also guide you through the steps of the buying process, like getting a home inspection.

You’ll want to be sure you find a buyer’s agent, rather than letting the seller’s agent represent both you and the seller. A buyer’s agent is focused only on your interests and has lots of experience helping homebuyers find the house of their dreams. If you’ve already made sure you’re financially ready before calling a realtor, your agent can help you make the buying process low-stress and successful.

 

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Colorado Springs Real Estate Market

Thinking about moving to Colorado Springs, or getting into the hot real estate in this booming city? It’s no secret that Colorado Springs is one of the hottest housing markets right now across the United States. With the prime location of the city right up against the breathtaking Pike’s Peak mountain, it’s hard to beat such a beautiful and attractive place to live. Whether you are looking to buy or sell real estate in this market, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking to sell real estate in this market you will more than likely be showered with offers, and prepare to have a fast closing. If you’re on the buyer side, prepare to submit multiple offers, and prepare to stay competitive. For buyers, you can enjoy and look forward to the unique and brand new real estate that Colorado Springs has to offer. Choose between a home built in the early 1900’s on the west side of town full of character, or a beautiful newly built home on the other side of town; Colorado Springs has it all.

Colorado Springs is quickly turning into a “little Denver,” and this calls for an increase in housing numbers. New home builders are having a hay-day with the growing population and housing demand in Colorado Springs. They are making up for the low resale inventory numbers, and providing new homes that aren’t only gorgeous, but affordable as well. With such low inventory in the $200-$300’s of resale homes, new builds are becoming more and more affordable and a viable buying option for many buyers.

The housing market in Colorado Springs is very popular and it’s important that you do your research on not only the city itself, but also on your realtor. Choose a realtor who has extensive knowledge in the market you are wanting to buy or sell real estate in. Colorado Springs real estate is very unique and although it may seem to sell itself, it’s important to know the fine print as well.