Posts for Syndication

Caring for Hardwood Floors

By Virtual Results

Caring for Hardwood FloorsHardwood floors have become attractive to many homebuyers today. They provide warmth and character and when properly cared for can last a lifetime. Here’s what you need to know about caring for your hardwood floors so that they stay beautiful and last for many years to come.

Banish dust daily

One of the easiest ways to keep your hardwood floors in good shape is to dust them regularly. While it might not seem like a big deal, dust can accumulate and cause scratches on the surface of the wood. Run a microfiber mop over your floors several times a week to eliminate dust and dirt. Not only will this keep your floors clean, but it will also reduce the number of allergens in the air.

Vacuum weekly

Although daily dusting will keep dirt in check, it’s important to run the vacuum over your hardwood floors once a week. The vacuum will help to clean up any dust or debris left behind by the microfiber mop. Be gentle when vacuuming your hardwood floor as the wheels can possibly cause damage to the surface. Don’t use a vacuum with a beater bar, as this will also cause scratches.

Mop with hardwood cleaner monthly

The last step in keeping your hardwood floor clean is to damp mop with a hardwood floor cleaner once every month or two. Don’t use water with the mop, and only use the least amount of cleaner necessary so that the floor doesn’t suffer any water damage. Wet mops and steam mops can also dull the finish of your hardwood. Be sure to choose a cleaner that is appropriate for the type of hardwood and finish of your floor.

Use doormats and felt protectors

A great way to keep dust and dirt at bay is to use doormats at every entrance. This will help to diminish the number of particles that are attached to the bottom of your shoes. Those particles can damage the finish of your hardwood floor over time. Likewise, the legs of your furniture can also scratch and damage the finish of your hardwood floor. Be sure to use felt protectors on the legs of any furniture that come in contact with the floor.

Avoid high heels

Removing your shoes before walking on your hardwood floor will certainly help protect the floor from damage. But that isn’t always practical. However – you should remove high-heeled shoes before walking across hardwood. Those high heels can cause scratches, scuffs, and even dents in the wood. Make it easy to remove shoes when coming in the house by keeping a basket of slippers or house shoes near the door.

Trim pet’s nails

If you have dogs or cats, then they can also cause damage to your hardwood floor. Pet’s claws can scratch the floor very easily. Regularly trim your pet’s nails to avoid any damage to the floor. You should also clean your pet’s feet when they come back in the house after being outside. Their paws can track in dust and dirt that can scratch and stain the floor as well.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How to Shop for a Mortgage

By Virtual Results

How to Shop for a Mortgage

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial transactions you will ever make in your lifetime. Which is why it is so important to be an informed consumer. How do you do that? By shopping around, of course. If you were buying a car, you would no doubt shop around for the best deal. You should also do the same for your mortgage.

Shopping will save you money

Did you know that shopping around for a mortgage could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the life of your loan? According to a study from Freddie Mac, consumers who got one additional quote for a home loan saved $1,500 on average. Those who got five additional quotes saved $3,000 on average. The numbers are clear – it pays to shop around.

Improve your credit score

Having the best credit score possible will help you get the best deal on your mortgage. Before you shop around, get a copy of your credit report. If there are any errors, have them removed. If your score is lower than you would like it to be, take action. Pay off as much of your high-interest debt as you can, including loans and credit cards.

Know the types of lenders

You can obtain a home loan from several different types of lenders, so it’s important to know what they are. The most common types of mortgage lenders include:

  • Commercial banks
  • Mortgage companies
  • Credit unions
  • Thrift institutions such as savings and loans or mutual savings banks

Get quotes

Now that you’ve identified several different lenders you can approach, it’s time to get quotes from each of them. Ask each lender for their current rates, and whether or not they are the lowest for the day or the week. Find out whether the rate is fixed or adjustable. If it’s adjustable, ask how the rate and payment will vary. Also inquire about the annual percentage rate (APR).

In addition, find out the points, which are the fees paid to the lender or broker. More points means a lower rate. Finally, also ask about all the fees involved, including broker fees, underwriting fees, and closing costs, and what each of those fees includes.

Get preapproved

One essential step in shopping for a mortgage is getting preapproved. In today’s real estate market, it’s necessary to get preapproved for a home loan before you begin shopping for a house. Getting a preapproval letter signals to a seller that you are a serious buyer. In fact, most other buyers will be preapproved. If you omit this important step, it’s unlikely a seller will choose your offer in the event they receive multiple offers on their home. In order to get preapproved you’ll need to have your financial documents in order. This includes bank statements, debt obligations, tax returns, employer information, and the amount of money you have saved for a down payment.

Although shopping around for a mortgage will take a little extra time, it’s worth it when you consider how much money you can save. By following the guidelines outlined above, you can feel confident that your efforts will secure you the best possible deal on your home loan.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Must-Have Tools for New Homeowners

By Virtual Results

Must-Have Tools for New Homeowners

If you just purchased a new home – congratulations! Being a homeowner is a great feeling. And although owning your own home is a wonderful achievement, it comes with responsibilities. You’ll no longer be calling your landlord when the pipes back up – that job is yours now. If you’re just getting started in your new home, then you should stock up on essential tools that you’ll need for basic repairs and maintenance. Here’s a list to get you started.

Hammer

One of the first tools you need is a claw hammer. This allows you to both hammer nails and remove them without damaging the surface on which you’re working. Buy a good quality hammer made from materials that will reduce vibrations. Opt for a straight claw rather than a curved claw as it can also be used for demolition.

Screwdrivers

Next up, you need to invest in a good set of screwdrivers. You will use these all the time. Your set should contain screwdrivers in various sizes to use with both Phillips and straight-blade screws.

Cordless drill

You might not realize it now, but a cordless drill will become one of your most-used tools. Buying a cordless version means you don’t have to be close to an outlet to get the job done. Choose one with variable speed that is reversible. Also be sure to pick up an assortment of drill bits and screwdriver bits.

Level

Is there anything worse than finally hanging a piece of art and realizing when you’re done that it’s crooked? Save yourself the headache and buy an inexpensive level.

Pliers

An assortment of pliers will help you to grip items firmly when you need to. Choose a set that includes needle-nose pliers, locking pliers, and combination pliers.

Tape measure

If you don’t already own a tape measure, now is the time to get one. It will be invaluable as you move into your new home. Choose a ¾ inch wide model that locks. You might also want a small one to carry with you on shopping trips.

Staple gun

A staple gun is a handy tool for quick fastening jobs like re-tacking carpet or installing insulation. There’s no need to get an electric or pneumatic model; a simple manual staple gun will get the job done.

Utility knife

A utility knife is the best friend of a new homeowner. You’ll use it constantly as you break down all those boxes you’re unpacking. It will also save your kitchen knives from wear and tear.

Wrenches

You will also want to pick up a set of wrenches for removing and tightening bolts around the house. Choose a small set of SAE wrenches as well as a set of Allen wrenches.

Toolbox

Finally, don’t underestimate how important a toolbox can be. You can’t use your new tools if you can’t find them. The best way to keep them organized and ready to go is to store them in a toolbox. This way, you can easily carry them around as you work on the home, and you always know where to find what you need.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Get Into a Seller’s Mindset

By Virtual Results

Get Into a Seller’s MindsetIt takes more to sell a home than putting up a listing and hoping for the best. In order to make the most of your home sale, you need to get into the right mindset. Knowing what’s ahead and preparing for it will set you up for success. For that reason, it’s vitally important to get yourself mentally ready for the selling process. Here are our best tips on how to do just that.

Emotionally detach from your home

The first thing you need to do to get into a seller’s mindset is to emotionally detach from your home. We understand that this is the place where you’ve made many cherished memories. But in order to have a successful sale, you’ll need to treat it as a business transaction. Focus on the future and the life you want to create in your new home as you release the old one.

Set a realistic listing price

Speaking of emotion, it’s easy to let your feelings get in the way when you’re setting the asking price for your home. It’s essential that you instead get into a more research-based frame of mind. Don’t rely on a feeling to determine your listing price. Instead, research comps in the area, learn about the local market, and listen to your agent’s advice. Your agent will be using data from the market as well as a deep knowledge of the area to find just the right price for your home.

Manage your expectations

Every seller dreams of having multiple offers over the asking price, resulting in a bidding war. But unless you live in a really hot market, it’s unlikely that will happen. Manage your expectations when it comes to the offers you receive, and be willing to look at them all fairly. Don’t be afraid to consider offers that come with a lower down payment. Just because a buyer is putting down less money in the beginning does not mean they have bad credit or are a risk. It’s more important to look at the bigger picture to determine if the offer is a good one that is likely to make it to the closing table.

Prep your home

The fact is, your home probably won’t sell itself as-is. You will need to put in some work, and possibly some money, getting it ready for the market. This means making needed repairs or upgrades, sprucing up the curb appeal, and staging it for showing. The more appealing your home looks to potential buyers, the more likely you’ll sell quickly and for a good price. But it will take some time, effort, and money to get your home ready for showing.

Understand you’re part of a team

Finally, it’s important to remember that you are part of team. When you engage a professional real estate agent to help you with the sales process, that person becomes your partner. You will be working as a team with your agent, and will need to be open to ideas, suggestions, and advice. The same is true for your agent. You’ll want to partner with someone who will understand your needs and your experience with the home. By relying on each other, you’ll be far more effective than if each of you were working independently.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Best Tech Tools for Homebuyers

By Virtual Results

Best Tech Tools for Homebuyers

One of the great advantages of being a homebuyer in 2019 is the number of tools you have at your disposal. Never before has a homebuyer had so many options for researching a neighborhood, browsing for homes, or even applying for mortgages. In fact, there are so many resources available that it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of what we think are some of the best tech tools out there for homebuyers. Happy hunting!

Determining your budget

When you begin your home search, you need to know where to start. Which is why it’s important to know how much house you can afford. This allows you to zero in on properties that are within your budget from the very beginning. There are many great online calculators available that let you plug in your numbers to get an estimate of what your budget should be.

Browsing the market

It’s never been easier to search for homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors, half of all homebuyers find their home online. There are many great online resources for browsing homes for sale, including Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com. You can also browse the websites of local real estate agents to find properties that are for sale in your area.

Researching the neighborhood

If you’re moving to a new area, then you want to get a sense of what it’s like before you decide on a home. With the technology that is now available, you can visit the neighborhood without leaving your couch. A great way to get a sense of the layout of the land is through Google Maps. You can virtually walk the entire neighborhood to see what the other homes are like and what businesses and other amenities are in the area. Search Yelp to find out where locals like to shop, eat, and play. There are even tools to find out the crime rate, how walkable the area is, and what the schools are like. Check out this great article from Realtor.com to discover other great tools for researching the neighborhood.

Keeping track of details

If you’re visiting lots of homes, then it can be a challenge to keep all the details straight. That’s why it’s such a good idea to use the camera on your smartphone when you’re touring a house. Take pictures of all the rooms, including the views outside the windows. Don’t forget to also take pictures of the exterior including the roof and landscaping. You’ll find that you use these images over and over again as you weigh the pros and cons of each of the homes you tour.

Sharing documents

Finally, you’re going to be dealing with quite a bit of paperwork when you’re buying a home. An easy way to store and share this information is with cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. You can save all your photos to these sites as well as loan documents and other paperwork related to the purchase of the house. It makes it simple to keep everything organized and to share it with others on your team with ease.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Clean the Air in Your Home

By Virtual Results

Clean the Air in Your HomeIt’s that time of the year when we’re all thinking about how clean our homes are. The Marie Kondo craze has many of us clearing out our closets and cabinets in order to make our homes free of clutter. But have you stopped to consider how clean the air in your home is as well? We spend approximately 90 percent of our lives indoors, and evidence suggests that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. Here’s some advice on how to clean and improve the quality of the air in your home.

Don’t smoke inside

Everyone knows that cigarettes are harmful to your health – both for the smoker and for those who are exposed to secondhand smoke. According to the Surgeon General, even breathing just a small amount of secondhand smoke can be harmful. The best way to improve the air quality in your home is to not smoke indoors.

Test for radon

Radon is the second leading cause for lung cancer. It’s an odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is released from the decay of elements in rocks and soil. The only way to determine if harmful levels of radon are present in your home is to have it tested.

Open the windows

One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to clean the air in your home is to simply open the windows. Even if you only open them for a few minutes a day, it’s enough time to get the air moving so that indoor pollutants can be dispersed.

Get some houseplants

Houseplants aren’t just great for decoration. They can also help filter the air in your home. In fact, the American Society of Horticulture Science has determined that there are three houseplants in particular that can reduce ozone levels in your home – snake plants, spider plants, and golden pothos.

Use essential oil diffusers

Instead of using scented candles, which perfume the air, opt for essential oil diffusers. Not only do the fragrances of the oil make your house smell nice, they can also cut down on pollutants. Essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, and clove have antibacterial properties and can help reduce dust mites.

Use nontoxic chemicals

Are you using harsh chemicals to clean your home? They can actually be contributing to your problem. Toxic chemicals can cause irritation and should only be used as a last resort. Instead, opt for natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda.

Run your air conditioner

Every time you run your air conditioner, you’re cleaning the air in your home. That’s because most AC systems use a filter that traps particles before the air is pumped back into your home. Be sure to replace the filters as often as the manufacturer recommends.

Groom your pets

Pet dander can be a major problem for some people and makes asthma symptoms worse. Help keep the air clean by brushing them outdoors frequently and vacuuming regularly.

Get a salt lamp

Did you know that Himalayan salt lamps not only add a pretty glow to your room, they also help clean the air? The warm bulb inside heats the salt lamp, which releases negative ions into the air. Negative ions help to keep the air clean, much like the clean air you find on ocean beaches.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How To Remove Rust Stains Naturally

By Virtual Results

How To Remove Rust Stains Naturally

Do you have rust stains in your bathroom or kitchen? Rust stains are caused by mineral deposits from hard water or rusty components that leak, which can leave unsightly marks on tubs, sinks, and toilets. If you’re getting ready to sell, or you just moved into a new house, you’ll want to attack those stains as soon as possible. While the stains can be tough to remove, it isn’t impossible. Here’s what you need to know to successfully remove stubborn rust stains naturally.

Hydrogen Peroxide

If you’ve ever left a can of shaving cream on the edge of the tub for too long, then you’ve seen the rust stain the bottom of the can leaves behind. Luckily, there’s an easy for fix this that is safe for the environment. If your tub, shower, or sink is ceramic or porcelain, use hydrogen peroxide to clean the unsightly stain. Using one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts cream of tartar, make a paste. Then apply the paste with a sponge or cloth. Leave it on for a couple of hours and then scrub it off with a brush. If the stain is particularly stubborn, repeat the process. Once the stain is gone, rinse with water.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another wonder product that you should always have at home because it has so many uses. If you’ve got a stainless steel sink or appliance with rust stains, baking soda can help to remove them. Since it’s both abrasive and slightly alkaline, it can remove stains and help neutralize acids on the surface that make the rust stains worse. Add one tablespoon of baking soda to two cups of water and work into a paste. Apply the paste to the stain in the direction of the grain then wipe off. For larger or more stubborn stains, sprinkle baking soda on the area and let it sit for up to an hour. Then scrub with a brush. Once the stain is removed, wipe down with water and then dry the area.

White Vinegar

Along with baking soda, white vinegar is one of those household products that should always be in your home pantry. One of its many uses is to clean rust from metal, such as sinks and faucets. If you’re able to remove the faucet or parts of the faucet that have rust, then soak them in a bowl of white vinegar for 24 hours. Scrub clean with a brush and then rinse with water. For larger areas, pour vinegar on the rust stain. Then add a generous layer of salt. Let it stand for a few minutes and then scrub with a brush. You can also dip aluminum foil in vinegar and use it like a scrub brush to remove rust.

Lemon Juice

Finally, lemon juice is another natural remedy to remove rust stains – and it smells better than vinegar, which makes it a great choice. For rust stains on ceramic or porcelain sinks and tubs, cover the rust stain with salt. Then pour lemon juice over the salt until it is saturated. Mix the two together and let it sit on the stain for several hours. Then scrub with a soft cloth until the stain is gone and rinse with water. For stains on metal, try rubbing the rust stain with the rind of the lemon to remove the stain.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What To Know Before Selling

By Virtual Results

What To Know Before Selling

If 2019 is the year you want to sell your home, then there are some things you should know before you do it. In fact, the more time you can spend getting organized and preparing your home before it hits the market, the better. After all, you only get a single chance to make a good first impression. Here’s what you need to know before you sell.

Know the local market

Do you have pie-in-the-sky dreams about selling your home at a great price? While it’s great to daydream, you also need to ground your expectations in reality. While you may have a general idea of what the housing prices are in your area, it’s time to do some more research. Check to see how many homes are for sale. Look for homes that are comparable in size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and other amenities. You might even consider attending a couple of open houses. Educating yourself about local housing prices will help you as you decide on an appropriate asking price for your own home.

Know what documents you’ll need

Remember how much paperwork was involved when you bought your home? It’s time to get ready for that again. Sort through all the paperwork you have for your home. This includes documents related to the original sale as well as your mortgage, tax bills, utility bills, warranties, appliance manuals, and records of repairs. You will also want to make sure that any outstanding permits or building violations have been cleared. Finding and organizing all this paperwork before you begin the sales process will make everything run much more smoothly.

Know the closing costs

When you think about selling your home, you think about making money, right? Well, it’s important to remember that it also costs money to sell your home. While some of the fees are negotiable, you can expect to pay about 10 percent of your selling price in fees and commissions. These costs include the real estate agents’ commissions as well as closing costs like HOA fees, property taxes, transfer taxes, title insurance, escrow fees, and attorney fees. You may also be footing the bill for repairs, professional staging, and utilities while the home is on the market (even if you aren’t living there). Also remember that the proceeds of your home sale will first be used to pay off your existing mortgage, including any penalties for paying off the mortgage early.

Know you’re in good hands

Finally, the best tool you can have in your arsenal when selling your home is a knowledgeable real estate agent. Take time to interview several agents in your area so you can get a feel for them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to research their backgrounds. It’s important to choose a real estate agent with whom you feel comfortable. You will feel less stress down the line when you know from the beginning that you’re in good hands.

Selling a home can be a complex process, and it pays to prepare ahead of time. By knowing what to expect and getting organized, the process will be much less stressful for both you and the buyer.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Competing Against an All-Cash Offer

By Virtual Results

Competing Against an All-Cash OfferYou found a home you love. You made an offer that you thought couldn’t be beat. But it was – by an all-cash offer from another buyer. Although buyers who pay for homes with cash are attractive in many markets, it doesn’t mean you will always lose out, you can also pay through cloudpay.net to make your offer more attractive. If you want to compete with all-cash offers, here’s what you need to know.

Be a strong candidate

If you’re hoping to out-bid an all-cash offer, you have to have all your ducks in a row. You will need to have a down payment of at least 20 percent. You’ll need a stable job and extra money in the bank. You’ll have a small amount of debt and excellent credit. As long as you can prove to a seller that you aren’t a risk, you have the ability to beat out a cash buyer.

Offer more money

Who doesn’t want to make more money on their home sale? If you have the means to offer more money, then it could be worth it to do so. Just be aware that you don’t want to offer more than the home is worth or more than you can afford. Also be aware that the seller may see if the cash buyer is willing to match your offer. Although it isn’t a foolproof strategy, it could help you seal the deal.

Make a bigger down payment

One of the biggest concerns in the real estate process is having a sale fall through because of a low appraisal. You can help to mitigate this issue by making a larger down payment. If you are only looking for fifty percent financing on the home instead of eighty percent, for example, there’s less concern about the appraisal. This can significantly improve your odds of beating a cash offer.

Get an underwriter’s review

If you’re serious about buying a home, then you know how important it is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. But that might not be enough if you’re trying to beat an all-cash offer. You can take it a step further by getting an underwriter’s review of your loan application before you make the offer. The underwriter will review all your finances and can provide you with a loan commitment letter to submit with your offer. Talk to your agent if you think this might be right for you.

Move quickly

One of the benefits of the all-cash offer is the time it saves on the closing process. You have a better chance of competing if you move quickly on your loan. See if you can get a jumpstart on your mortgage by sending the lender the preliminary title report. Line up an appraiser at the time you write the offer, and let the seller know. Also schedule the inspection as soon as possible. If you can help to shorten the loan process by being on top of all the details, the seller will be more likely to seriously consider your offer.

Write a letter

Finally, it doesn’t hurt to write a letter to the seller. Let them know why you love the home, and why you imagine you and your family living there for years to come. Buying and selling residential real estate isn’t just a business transaction. It can also be an emotional milestone. Let the seller know a little more about you. It could make all the difference in the world.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Tidy Your Home With KonMari

By Virtual Results

Tidy Your Home With KonMari

If you have Netflix, then you may have tuned in to the new show Tidying Up. It’s based on the best-selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, written by Marie Kondo. In the show, Marie Kondo demonstrates her simple yet thorough way to declutter and organize your home. If you’re a homeowner who is ready to sell, or you’ve just moved into a new home and you want to get a fresh start, the KonMari Method may work well for you. Here’s an introduction to how the process works.

Visualize the life you want

How can you create a plan for your life if you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to do? The very first step in Marie Kondo’s system is taking time to visualize the life you want to live in your space. Imagine your rooms being clutter-free and all your cabinets and drawers being neatly organized. Imagine how much less stressed you’ll feel when you know where everything is. Think about the kinds of activities you’d like to do in your home, such as hosting more parties or creating a space for your hobbies. Doesn’t it feel good to live in this imaginary space? The KonMari Method was created to help you attain that feeling.

Only keep items that spark joy

The key element of the KonMari Method is only keeping items that spark joy for you. How do you determine which of your belongings make you feel this way? You hold each of them in your hands. Yes – every single item you own. When you hold the object in your hands, you ask yourself – does this item bring me joy? If the answer is yes, you keep it. If the answer is no, you discard it. Remember – this is about how you feel, not about how anyone else feels. Even if it feels irrational to keep an old t-shirt that no longer fits, if it sparks joy, you should hold onto it.

Thank your belongings

When you have determined that an item no longer sparks joy, before discarding it Marie Kondo advises that you thank it. This is an important concept that can radically change how you view the objects you own. When you recognize that your belongings have their own energy and you begin to honor that energy, you will treat your things with more respect. Carrying that idea forward, when you organize the things that you are going to keep, you store them in a way that is easy to see and gives each item some space.

Tackle belongings by category

Once you’re ready to dive into the process, Kondo recommends tackling your belongings by category. She suggests starting with clothing because it is the easiest category. You then move on to books, followed by papers. The next category is called komono, which includes all your miscellaneous items that you’ll find in the kitchen, bathroom, and garage, for example. Finally, you end with sentimental items. The idea is that you will begin to get a feel for what sparks joy and start to trust your intuition with the early categories. That way, when you get to sentimental items, which can be very emotional, you will be able to tell what you should keep and what you can let go of.

Compliments of Virtual Results