Posts for Syndication

Creating Outdoor Rooms on a Budget

By Virtual Results

Creating Outdoor Rooms on a Budget

After a long pandemic winter, we’re all a little anxious to enjoy the Great Outdoors. Being able to enjoy the sunshine and a warm breeze from the comfort of home is the ultimate luxury. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to create a desirable outdoor living space. Here are some of the best ideas we’ve discovered for creating a spectacular outdoor room on a budget.

Make a cozy front porch

It doesn’t take much to make your front porch cozy and inviting for relaxing on a warm summer’s evening. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint in an eye-catching color, add a rocking chair or two, and finish with some fresh potted annuals or plants. Soon your neighbors will be stopping by for a glass of lemonade and a friendly chat.

Build a fire pit

Imagine making s’mores over a fire pit while you watch the stars at night. You don’t have to spend a small fortune on a fire pit. You can easily assemble one yourself with pavers and fire bricks. Surround your fire pit with a few chairs and soon you’ll be identifying all the constellations in the night sky.

Create a “room” with pavers

Pouring a concrete patio can be pricey. You can create the same effect with concrete pavers for just a fraction of the cost. Laying your own paver patio is fairly simple, and you can dramatically increase the amount of outdoor living space available to you. It’s the perfect spot for a lounge chair or two! Or use an outdoor table for dining al fresco.

Hang string lights

It’s really incredible how you can create space simply by adding a few lights. One of the best ways to turn a square of grass or patio into an outdoor room is to hang string lights across the space. You can choose from a wide variety of styles, including solar options if you don’t have an outdoor electrical outlet.

Create lots of extra seating

Would you like to throw a party outside but fear you don’t have enough seating for everyone? One of the best ways to quickly and affordably add seating outside is with floor pillows or poufs. Not only are they cute, but they are super comfortable and easy to store when not in use. They come in a huge range of styles and colors so you’re sure to find pillows that match your decor.

Hang curtains

Would you like to create an outdoor room that has some privacy? One of the most affordable ways to do this is to simply hang curtains. The curtains will allow natural light to filter into your space but also keep the neighbor’s prying eyes away.

Anchor your space with rugs

Finally, put a finishing touch on any outdoor room with a rug or two. Outdoor rugs come in a variety of sizes and colors and are extremely affordable. A rug can help to define a space and pull it together, and outdoor versions hold up well even in adverse weather.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Get Your Garage Organized

By Virtual Results

Get Your Garage Organized

Warm weather is finally here, and that means it’s time to do some spring cleaning! While you may have already tackled your home’s interior, there is one spot in our homes that we all tend to put off cleaning: the garage. If you’re anything like us, then your garage is the catch-all place for items we don’t really know where to store. This includes everything from cars and pool toys to sports equipment and power tools. If your garage has gotten a little out of control, then here’s what you need to do to get it organized in a jiffy.

Gather your supplies

First things first — gather the supplies you’re going to need to tackle your garage cleaning. This includes large trash bags, a broom or vacuum, and a few boxes or tubs to stash odds and ends while you organize.

Clear everything out and clean

While this may seem like a big job, you’ll be glad you took the extra effort. You should start by designating areas, preferably in your driveway, for three piles: Keep, toss, and donate. Then begin in one area of your garage and methodically work through the whole space. Use the broom or vacuum to clean as you go, and remove items and place them in their respective spots in the driveway. Keep an eye out for loose nails on the floor as well as evidence of creatures that may be living in your garage, such as spiders, bats, or birds. When you finish you can place items in the trash that you’ve put in the toss pile (being careful to handle hazardous waste appropriately). Box up items that are in your donate pile and make a plan to have them removed.

Organize what is left into zones

Once you’ve addressed the toss and donate piles, you can turn your attention to the items that you want to keep. Chances are, you’ll have a wide variety of items from screws and nails to recycling bins. Experts suggest organizing your garage into zones for each of these types of items. Think of your garage as a store, and designate departments like “garden”, “tools”, “sports equipment”, and so on. Once you’ve figured out your zones, sort your “keep” pile into them. This will give you an idea of how much space you’ll need in the garage for each zone.

Plan your storage

Look at your garage and determine how best to store each of your zones. Start by using what you already have, and make sure hazardous items are out of reach. Don’t be afraid to use vertical storage, like pegboards, to store items such as tools or garden equipment. If needed, purchase inexpensive shelves to complete your storage or splurge on a more complete storage system.

Maintain it

The best way to have an organized garage is to regularly maintain your storage systems. Sweep or vacuum periodically to keep dust and dirt at bay. Make sure to put items back where they belong when you’re finished using them. As new items come in, create storage areas for them, and plan to reorganize what you have about twice a year. Keeping your garage clean and organized will help you maximize your storage space and get the best use of this tricky space.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Selling a Home With a Lien

By Virtual Results

Selling a Home With a Lien

Selling a home is already a complicated process. But when you throw in dealing with a lien, it can get downright stressful. While having a lien against your property is no fun to deal with, the good news is that there are steps you can take to clear the lien before you sell. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a lien?

Simply put, a lien allows someone to take possession of your property if debt to them remains unpaid. When you put your home up for sale, a title search will be conducted on your property. Think of it as a background check to see if anyone has a legal claim on your property before you sell. Sometimes the title search will uncover issues such as liens against your title, which you will have to deal with before you can close.

Common types of liens

Liens are obtained through the court system and prevent the sale of a home until the lien is paid. If the lien remains unpaid, that person (or entity) can take possession of the home in order to pay off the debt. The most common types of liens include:

  • Mortgage lien — When you owe back payments on your mortgage, you may have a mortgage lien on your property.
  • Tax lien — If you owe back taxes, you may have a tax lien against your home.
  • HOA lien — If your home is an HOA (homeowners association) and you haven’t paid your dues, then the HOA can place a lien on your home.
  • Mechanic’s lien — If you failed to pay a contractor for work, they can place a lien against your property.
  • Child support lien — If you haven’t paid your court-ordered child support, then the court may put a lien on your home.

How to clear the lien

While dealing with a lien while selling isn’t a walk in the park, it can be resolved so that you can close on the home. There are four main ways to settle the lien, they include:

  • Pay off the debt — The quickest way to clear a lien is to immediately pay off the debt. If you can’t pay the full amount, you may be able to negotiate with the creditor to resolve the lien for less or agree to a payment plan.
  • Use your profit from the sale to pay off the debt — If you can’t afford to pay off the debt upfront, then you may be able to use the proceeds from your sale to do it. Your real estate agent should write the lien into the agreement, and the amount of the lien will be deducted from your profit when you close.
  • Dispute the lien — Sometimes there are errors, just like with a credit report. If you think a lien was placed on your home in error, you can dispute it. You will likely have to hire an attorney to help you with this process, but it could save the sale of the home and potentially thousands of dollars.
  • Take out a bond — If you can’t pay the lien, you may be able to take out a bond to settle the debt, though this can be an expensive option.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Cash-Out Refinance: Pros & Cons

By Virtual Results

Cash-Out Refinance Pros & Cons

Cash-out refinances have been in the news lately, and you may be wondering what they are and if one would be appropriate for you. Simply put, a cash-out refinance allows you to refinance your current mortgage and borrow more money. The money from a cash-out refinance can be used in any way, though some may carry more risks than others. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of a cash-out refinance.

What is a cash-out refinance?

When you get a cash-out refinance, you get a new loan on your home that is for more than what you currently owe on the house. That extra money is given to you as cash, and you can do whatever you like with that money. This includes making improvements to your home, consolidating debt, paying medical bills, financing an education, or even starting a new business. In order to qualify for a cash-out refinance, you must have equity in your home. Ideally, after you refinance you would still have at least 20 percent equity remaining.

Pros of a cash-out refinance

There are many advantages to applying for a cash-out refinance. They include:

  • Getting a lower interest rate — Mortgage rates are record lows, and you may qualify for a lower rate now than what you got on your current loan. Keep in mind that if you just want a lower rate and don’t need the extra cash, you may prefer to do a traditional refinance.
  • Improving your credit score — The money you get from a cash-out refinance can be used to pay off credit card debt. This, in turn, can greatly improve your credit score.
  • Consolidating debt — In addition to improving your credit score, using the money to pay off debt can potentially save you thousands in interest payments.
  • Deductions on your taxes — If you use the cash to make home improvements, then you may be able to deduct the mortgage interest on your taxes. When in doubt, speak to a tax professional.

Cons of a cash-out refinance

It seems like a cash-out refinance is a home run, yes? While there are many advantages, you should also consider the disadvantages when deciding whether or not to pursue a cash-out refinance. They include:

  • Paying for closing costs — Any new loan will require closing costs, which usually run between two and five percent of the mortgage. Calculate these costs and make sure you’re actually saving money before moving forward.
  • Paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI) — You’ll be on the hook for PMI payments if you borrow more than 80 percent of the value of your home.
  • Risking foreclosure — If you can’t make the payments on your new, bigger loan, then you risk foreclosure.
  • Agreeing to new terms — Your new mortgage will have a different interest rate and fees than your current loan. Make sure they work in your favor.

Is it right for you?

Ultimately, you must look at all the pros and cons to determine whether a cash-out refinance is right for your particular situation. Using it to pay for a vacation or enable bad habits like running up credit card debt is not necessarily a good thing. But using it to make upgrades to your home or to pay off old debt can be positive. Be sure you understand the terms before you sign on the dotted line.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Why Fixer-Uppers Are So Popular

By Virtual Results

Why Fixer-Uppers Are So PopularIf Chip and Joanna Gaines have taught us anything, it’s that fixer-uppers can be downright appealing. Many buyers love the idea of buying an old home and making it their own. But just what is it about these older homes that have buyers so enthralled? Let’s take a look at why so many homeowners are choosing to buy and live in an older home that could use some work.

They’re affordable

One of the biggest reasons that homebuyers like fixer-uppers is that they can be so affordable. In some cases, an older home that needs some work can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a newer, move-in ready home. Buyers that don’t mind putting in a little elbow grease to transform a fixer-upper into their dream home can get a serious bargain. However, you should also keep in mind the cost of the repairs when deciding whether or not a fixer-upper is actually a good deal.

They have character

Not everybody wants a cookie-cutter house in a master-planned community. That’s another reason why older fixer-uppers are so popular with some buyers. In these types of homes, you may find wonderful and unique details like crown molding, built-in window seats, or even a dumbwaiter! For those who want to live in a home that isn’t like everyone else’s, a fixer-upper can be a great choice.

They spark your creativity

If you’re a creative person, then a fixer-upper can be your best muse. Putting your own special stamp on a home can be very appealing, and fixer-uppers give you many opportunities to flex those creative muscles. 

They connect you with history

Fixer-uppers tend to be older homes, and many of them have a rich history. If you love feeling connected to the past, then a fixer-upper is a wonderful way to do that. Learning about the time period that your home was built can be a fun process. You may also find clues in the house, like newspaper clippings or old photos and letters. You can research the history of the home itself and find out about the people who used to live there. These homes are filled with stories and owning one can be very meaningful.

They let you use your skills

Are you handy with a saw? Do you love shopping for new power tools? Then owning a fixer-upper can be the ultimate project. Those who love to DIY are naturally drawn to older fixer-uppers, which often require a hefty amount of repairs and regular maintenance. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into — and that your skills are up to the task. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, the outcome can be extraordinary.

They tie you to the community

Finally, owning a fixer-upper can make you feel like a part of your community. Your neighbors may remember playing in the house as a child, or perhaps they were friends were the former owners. It also ties to you a huge online community of people who love to restore old homes. If you love to feel like you are a part of something special, then owning an older fixer-upper can be a positive and rewarding experience.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Preventing Homebuyer’s Remorse

By Virtual Results

Preventing Homebuyer’s RemorseThe real estate market is hot, and buyers know they need to act quickly in order to get an accepted offer. Unfortunately, that may lead some buyers to rush into an agreement, only later to regret their decision. So how do you deal with homebuyer’s remorse — or better yet, prevent yourself from having it at all? Here’s what you need to know.

Make a list of your needs

One of the best ways to head off buyer’s remorse is to know exactly what you’re looking for in a home. Get clear down to the neighborhood, the number of bedrooms, and any other features that are extremely important to you. It’s harder to feel regret about your purchase if you’re going into the deal with your eyes wide open. Getting clear about what you’re looking for in a home will make it easy to know when you’ve found “the one”.

Don’t overpay

Nobody wants to pay too much for a home. But in today’s market, you may face the temptation to offer more than you can afford. Bidding wars are becoming more common, and when you’re feeling the pressure to compete, you may offer to pay more than other buyers. This often means paying more than what you budgeted for, or worse — paying more than your income can handle. Before you begin your search, find out >how much house you can afford and stick to your budget.

Don’t waive the inspection

We understand that as a buyer in today’s market, you need to do what you can to be competitive. But don’t be tempted to waive the home inspection contingency to have your offer accepted. A home inspection is an invaluable part of the home buying process. It can reveal issues with the home that the seller has not disclosed. Sometimes these issues can mean very expensive repairs that you’ll be forced to deal with once you become the owner. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable by waiving your right to a home inspection.

Shop around for a mortgage

Another common reason for buyer’s remorse is feeling like you didn’t get a good deal on your mortgage. Mortgage rates have been at record lows since the pandemic began. But that doesn’t mean that every lender will offer you the same deal. For this reason, it’s important to shop around for a mortgage. There are many types of mortgages out there, and you may find you get a much better deal with one over another. You can save yourself thousands of dollars in the long run simply by comparing the mortgages that are available to you.

Trust your instincts

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. While it’s important to listen to your head when making your decision, you should also trust your gut. Don’t be overly influenced by other people’s opinions about the home. After all, you’ll be the one living there, not them. If something feels off, then trust that instinct. On the flip side, if you feel very enthusiastic about your purchase while others aren’t so sure, you should also listen to your intuition. Trusting yourself to make the right decision for your needs and lifestyle will help to ensure that you don’t experience buyers’ remorse down the line.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What is Earnest Money?

By Virtual Results

What is Earnest Money?

When you’re buying a home, you will often make an earnest money deposit to the seller after they have accepted your offer. While they are not always required, this good faith deposit can give you an edge in a competitive market. Once you close on the home, the earnest money can be applied to your down payment. Let’s take a closer look at this practice and answer common questions that often come up.

How much earnest money should you offer?

One of the most frequent questions we get is about how much earnest money to offer. Typically, the earnest money deposit is one- to two percent of the purchase price. But this can vary depending on the market. When we’re in a seller’s market, like we are now, some buyers may opt to increase their earnest money deposit as a way to make their offer stand out. If you’re not sure how much earnest money to offer, talk to your real estate agent.

What does earnest money provide?

Once your offer has been accepted by the seller, they will take their home off the market. The earnest money helps to assure them that you’re operating in good faith and intend to close the deal. In many cases, your earnest money deposit is not refundable if you back out of the deal. This deposit provides the seller with compensation should that happen. Basically, your earnest money deposit shows that you’re serious about following through.

What happens to your earnest money?

A purchase agreement will be drawn up between you and the seller. This document will provide details about how the earnest money deposit is to be handled. Usually, the money is held in escrow until you close on the house. At closing, most buyers will use the earnest money as part of their down payment on the house.

Can a seller legally keep my earnest money?

There are certain situations where the seller is legally allowed to keep your earnest money deposit if you don’t go through with the deal. These terms will be laid out in the purchase agreement. For example, if you decide not to continue with the purchase because you found a home you like better, then the seller may be able to keep your earnest money. Before you sign your purchase agreement, make sure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to. If anything is confusing, then have your agent explain it.

When can my earnest money be refunded?

There are also situations where you can get your earnest money refunded if you don’t close the deal. These will also be laid out in the contract, and are usually referred to as contingencies. Common contingencies include:

  • Mortgage contingency — If you’re unable to secure financing to buy the home, then you can get your earnest money returned.
  • Inspection contingency — If the house inspection uncovers major problems, then you may be able to get your money back if you don’t follow through on the purchase.
  • Appraisal contingency — If the home appraises for less than the purchase price and the deal falls through, you can get your earnest money back.

The bottom line

Your earnest money deposit is a valuable tool that can help your offer stand out among the competition. But before you sign any contracts, be sure you understand exactly what you’re agreeing to. When in doubt, ask your real estate agent to walk you through the contract before you sign.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How to Compete as a Buyer

By Virtual Results

How to Compete as a Buyer

Today’s real estate market is competitive for buyers. We’re currently experiencing a shortage of houses for sale. This coupled with high demand means that buyers may face many obstacles when making an offer on a home. As a buyer, it’s so important to be as prepared as possible when you’re ready to start your home search. Here’s what you need to do to get yourself ready.

Know what you need and want

In today’s real estate market, it is essential that you know what you’re looking for in a home. After all, how can you find what you want if you don’t know what you want? Before you begin your home search in earnest, get clear about what you need and what you want. Put your needs first. These could include certain neighborhoods, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or other home features that would be deal-breakers for you. You should also consider what you want, such as room for a backyard pool or a finished basement. While these items would be nice to have, they aren’t necessarily deal-breakers. Make a list of your needs and wants so that you can compare houses during your search.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Before you begin looking at homes, get pre-approved for a mortgage. You cannot be competitive in today’s market if you aren’t pre-approved for a mortgage (unless, of course, you’re going to pay all cash). Getting pre-approved for a mortgage tells a seller that you are a serious buyer. It is entirely possible that other buyers will be putting in offers for the same house as you. Your offer will not be considered unless you’re pre-approved.

Keep your emotions in check

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial transactions you will ever make. It’s important to think of it as a business deal. Yes, you are buying a home that will become the center of your family life. You will make many memories and celebrate many milestones in this house. But don’t get swept up into your emotions. Try to maintain a sense of detachment so that you can make sound decisions. If you’re struggling to maintain an emotional distance, then lean on your agent for help.

Prepare for a bidding war

As we said above, there aren’t enough homes for sale in today’s market to keep up with demand. The home you love will also be the object of affection for other buyers, too. Your offer will probably not be the only offer a seller receives. You should mentally prepare yourself for a bidding war when you put in an offer. Understand how the home buying process works so you know how you can sweeten your deal. And be clear about your budget. You need to know how much house you can afford so that you don’t overextend yourself.

Work with an expert

Finally, one of the best ways to be competitive in today’s market is to work with an expert real estate agent. Your agent should be extremely knowledgeable about your local market so they can advise you through every step of the process. The process of making an offer can move quickly, and having a pro on your side can help ease the stress.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Considering a New Roof For Your Home This Winter

By Blogger

Color the roof of your homeChoosing a new roof for your home can seem like a daunting task, but the process can proceed quicker than you might expect. Speed can be just the thing if you are trying to get your roof completed before winter arrives and keeping a few key points in mind can really aid in your decision!

First, according to this expert in roofing in brampton you need to realize that not every material will work for every roof. A flat roof would require a different material than a very steep roof. Materials like slate or tile are very heavy, so the structure of many homes would not be able to carry the load.

Next, consider cost and curb appeal. If you are working on a tight budget, then asphalt shingles are the way to go. This is by far the most popular option as the shingles themselves are inexpensive, installation is very simple, and they come in a wide variety of colors to match your home.

More expensive options include wood, metal, tile, and slate. All of these options have a longer lifespan, but the materials cost more and are more expensive to install. Often times, your home, existing roof, neighborhood, and energy needs will help make the decision for you. For instance, if you plan to install solar panels, you may need to adjust your roofing materials a bit. Also, if you have a home owner’s association, it’s best to check in with them before getting bids, as many times they will have certain specifications for new roofs. When its time to have your roof replaced, call ATS Exteriors.

Lastly, be sure to find a great designer and installation team from Quality Built Exteriors to help you make the best decisions and ensure the job gets done right, see their website today.

How To Stage a Closet

By Virtual Results

How To Stage a Closet

When many people think of staging a home, they focus on the bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. While these are important areas to address when staging your home to sell, there is one space that is often overlooked – your closets. Closet space is extremely important to many home buyers and should not be glossed over when you’re staging your home. Here’s what you need to do to stage your closets like a pro.

Do one closet at a time

You’ve probably got more than one closet in your home. In fact, when you start thinking about tackling all the closets you have, then you may start to feel a little overwhelmed. Take it one closet at a time. Start with an easy one first, like a linen closet, so you can get the hang of it before attempting to stage the walk-in closet in your master bedroom.

Remove all items from closet

The first thing you’ll want to do when staging your closet is to remove everything from it. Yes, we mean everything. As you remove items, decide what you want to keep, what you want to donate, and what can be tossed. Have boxes nearby for those things you want to get rid of so you can easily move them out of the house.

Aim to reduce items in each closet by half

Buyers want to see spacious closets. Your closets will not look very big if they are completely stuffed with your personal items. Aim to reduce the number of items in your closet by at least half. When you’re staging your closet, you want to demonstrate how the closet can be used. Only keep universal items in the closet, like clothes and shoes. The closet should be more like a blank slate so potential buyers can imagine their own belongings inside. After you’ve determined what items you want to keep but don’t want to use for staging, box up those items and put them in storage.

Clean and paint

Before returning any items to the closet, it’s time to thoroughly clean it. Think about it — when was the last time you vacuumed or wiped down the shelves? Once you’ve finished cleaning, you should paint the closet in a bright, neutral color like white or beige. Let the closet air out and replace any burnt-out light bulbs.

Arrange items neatly

Now the fun part starts! When you’re staging your closet with the remaining items, you want to keep things as tidy as possible. You should always be able to see the back of the closet wall when you look inside, so don’t stuff things in there. Keep the floor as clear as possible — no shoes or tote bags should rest on the floor. Use matching hangers to hang clothes and keep at least one inch of space between each hanger. Make sure all hangers face the same way. Arrange clothes and linens by color and style and use baskets to corral smaller items like belts and scarves.

Well-staged closets are a home-run with today’s buyers. Don’t forget this important step when you’re staging your home to sell!

Compliments of Virtual Results