Posts for Syndication

4 Prosperity Practices for Homebuyers

By Virtual Results

4 Prosperity Practices for Homebuyers

If homeownership is in your future, then you’re no doubt saving for a down payment. While the Internet is full of practical advice about how to save money for a home, how do you cultivate a mindset that makes your financial goals possible? Do you let your own thoughts deter you, thinking that you’ll never save enough? Changing this way of thinking is an integral part of realizing your dreams. Here are four ways to invite prosperity into your life when you’re saving for a home.

Keep track of your money

Online banking and automatic bill pay make it easy to lose track of where your money is coming from and going to. The first step in realizing your financial goals is to rack your income. Instead of seeing personal money management as a chore that must be endured, think of it as a reward for your hard work. Be intentional about how much you’re putting away for a down payment, and let yourself enjoy watching it grow. Instead of thinking that you still don’t have enough saved, learn to see each increase as getting one step closer to your goal.

Visualize prosperity

Another important step in practicing prosperity is to spend time each day visualizing what prosperity looks like to you. Imagine finding your ideal home, purchasing it, and moving in. What does your new home look like? How does it make you feel? Spend time looking through online listings and driving through neighborhoods with beautiful homes. Instead of seeing these places as out of reach, what if you instead silently congratulated the homeowners for creating that reality for themselves? Visualizing prosperity for yourself and celebrating it for others can be a powerful motivator.

Choose your words carefully

One of the most crucial ways to create prosperity is to really pay attention to your words. Focusing on the negative will attract more of the same into your life. Instead of bemoaning your debt, think of that debt as past expenses that allowed you to get something you needed, like an education or even a medical treatment. Instead of telling friends you can’t join them for a night out because you can’t afford it, reframe your response in the affirmative. Tell them you can’t join them because you’re saving for a house. Small daily changes in the words you choose to describe your life are incredibly impactful.

Celebrate every dollar

Finally, you will welcome more prosperity into your life if you are grateful for all that you have and receive. Don’t think of it as “just a dollar.” Celebrate that dollar, and each dollar that comes your way. For some, wealth comes as an avalanche, like getting a big inheritance or winning the lottery. For others, wealth comes slowly, built one dollar at a time. If you begin to recognize and be grateful every day for what you already have, you will become more empowered to continue.

While these methods can’t substitute for a solid and actionable plan to reach your financial goals, they can be a wonderful complement. Use these four practices to increase your prosperity and realize your dreams of homeownership.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Make Your Bed Like a Pro

By Virtual Results

Make Your Bed Like a Pro

Whether you’ve just bought a new house or are staging your home to sell, having a beautiful bed makes a big difference. But how do you make it look like the ones in your favorite luxury hotel? While it may take a bit of effort, the results are worth it. Here’s what you need to know to make your bed like a pro.

Quality linens

While it’s natural to want to save money, especially if you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, one place you don’t want to skimp is on your bed linens. If the average person gets eight hours of sleep in a night, that’s one-third of your life you spend in bed. Paying a little extra for quality sheets and linens is a gift to yourself that can result in a better night’s sleep.

Mattress topper

To start making your bed like a pro, smooth out the mattress topper so that it doesn’t have any lumps. If you leave in any wrinkles or bumps, it could make your bed uncomfortable and impact the quality of your sleep. If you have problems keeping your topper in place, you can purchase corner fasteners at most major home retail shops. In a pinch, use safety pins to keep it from shifting while you sleep.

Sheets

Once you’ve got the topper smoothed, it’s time to add the fitted sheet. Start at an upper corner and pull the elastic down. Then move to the other upper corner. Once the upper corners are in place, move to the lower corners, pulling the sheet tightly into place. Smooth out all the wrinkles and make sure the entire mattress is covered. Place the flat sheet on top so that the upper hem meets the top edge of the mattress. Center it on the bed, smooth out the creases, and tuck the bottom edges under the mattress.

Comforter

Next, choose a topper that complements the décor of your bedroom. You can use a comforter, duvet, or even an heirloom family quilt. Lay the topper over the bed so that it drapes evenly over each side. Leave a space about a foot long at the top of the bed for the pillows.

Pillows

When pulling cases over your pillows, be sure to insert the ends with the tags first. Make sure the pillow is aligned with the seams on the cases. Fluff them up and place them on the bed with the openings towards the sides of the bed. If you use pillows with shams, place these in front of your sleeping pillows. Throw pillows are then placed in front of the shams. A good rule of thumb is to use a couple of square pillows and one round bolster.

Blanket

Finally, give your bed the finishing touch with a pretty throw or blanket. Fold it and place it at the foot of the bed. Choose one with a luxurious texture in a matching color or pattern to give your bed an elegant look. Once you’ve finished, resist the urge to go to bed immediately, if possible. After that – enjoy!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Back to School: Getting Your Home Ready

By Virtual Results

Back to School: Getting Your Home Ready

Back-to-school season is officially here. This time of year can often be hectic for parents, and it’s doubly so if you’ve just moved into a new house. Somehow, in the midst of unpacking, you’re supposed to get prepared for the school year ahead. While it may seem like an insurmountable task, it can be done. Here are our best tips and tricks to get your home ready for the upcoming school year without losing your mind.

Create a homework zone

If you’re just getting settled in, then take some time now to create a space that’s dedicated for homework. While it may be tempting to settle for the kitchen table, studies show that kids do better when they have a place that is specifically for homework. For young kids, this may be a small area near the kitchen where you can keep a watchful eye over them. Older kids don’t need as much supervision, but the place should be free of distractions.

Hang a calendar

Once the school year is in full swing, schedules fill up fast. This is especially true if you have more than one child in school. Invest in a large calendar and hang it in a central location such as the kitchen. Assign a different color marker to each member of the family and post appointments, practices, and lessons as soon as you find out about them. Then everyone will be able to see at a glance who needs to be where and when.

Organize closets

Yes, unpacking can get tedious to the point where you just want it to be finished already. Don’t succumb to the temptation to throw stuff in a closet, thinking you’ll get to it later. Take time to organize each family member’s closet, as well as shared closets in hallways and by the front and back doors. Make it easy for kids to see what they have so there’s minimal drama getting ready for school in the morning. Designate a place for everything, and encourage everyone to put items back where they belong.

Take inventory

As you’re unpacking, start taking an inventory of the school supplies you already have. Also note what clothes your kids have and what they may need in their new schools. Then make a list that you can take when you go shopping. It’s so easy to waste money by buying items you don’t end up using. By taking a little time to make an inventory of what you already have, you can save some cash.

Establish chores

During a busy school year, it’s easy to let household chores fall by the wayside. Before you know it, those dust bunnies in the corner can become your newest pet. Take aim at those chores by establishing routines and assigning jobs before the school year begins. Create a chore chart so everyone can see what their responsibilities are. Make sure each family member knows how to properly do the job they’ve been assigned. Decide on a reward system that works for your family to keep them motivated.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Cut Your Cooling Costs

By Virtual Results

Cut Your Cooling CostsSummer is in full swing – are you feeling the heat? Not only are temperatures rising, but your energy bill may be as well. While you can’t control Mother Nature, you can save money on your air conditioning. Here are some of the best strategies that we’ve discovered to cut your cooling costs this summer.

Plant trees

While this may not immediately affect your bottom line, planting trees can cut your cooling costs in the long run. As they mature they will provide natural shade. Keeping the direct sunlight out of your home can cut the inside temperature noticeably. If you’re in a hurry, plant some quick-growing varieties, such as hybrid poplar or weeping willow.

Install a programmable thermostat

Have you changed out your older thermostat for a newer model yet? Installing a new, programmable thermostat is simple and can save you money on your energy bills year round. You can program your system to be a few degrees warmer while you’re away, and have it come back on a few minutes before you normally return home. You can save a staggering 20 percent on your bill with this simple switch.

Draw the curtains

While you may love to let the sunshine in, you can save a pretty penny by keeping those curtains closed during the day. Keep blinds and shades closed as well as curtains to keep temperatures cool. Alternatively, you can get solar screens that reflect up to 70 percent of solar energy before it gets into your home.

Clean your air conditioner

Regular maintenance of your air conditioner will also help to keep your costs down. During months of heavy usage, you may want to consider replacing the filter every 30 days or so. Your system has to work harder when the filter is dirty, which costs you more. An added side benefit is that your indoor air will be cleaner, too.

Hang out in the basement

If you have a finished basement, you should put it to good use in the summer. Basements naturally stay several degrees cooler than the other floors of your home. You can turn the temperature a few degrees higher and still stay cool downstairs. If you’ve been looking for a reason to create a man cave, then this is it.

Stay out of the kitchen

Using the oven on a hot summer day only adds to the heat inside your home. And anyway, who wants to be stuck inside on a beautiful day? Take advantage of the season and cook your meals outside on the grill. Or you could opt to have meals that don’t require heat for preparation. Besides, those salads will be helpful to that summer diet you’ve been meaning to follow.

Switch to LED lights

Finally, if you haven’t switched to LED bulbs yet, now is the time to do it. LED bulbs use less energy to operate and they emit less heat than incandescent or compact fluorescent lights do. While you may pay a little more upfront for the LED bulbs, you will definitely see cost savings in the long run.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Adding Privacy to Open Concept Houses

By Virtual Results

Adding Privacy to Open Concept Houses

Open concept homes remain popular amongst homebuyers today, and it’s easy to see why. These layouts make homes seem even more spacious and allow families to spend time together without being cramped into one room. And while open concepts are great for entertaining or to keep an eye on the kids while you’re cooking dinner, they don’t always give you much privacy when you need it. Here are some simple solutions to help you add privacy to your open concept home.

Sliding barn doors

Sliding barn doors have become a popular design trend in the last few years, and they work well in open concept homes. They can be used in the kitchen to help separate the space while you’re cooking, but easily opened when you want it to feel more expansive. Take it a step further and use doors made of a translucent material. You’ll still be able to let in the light without sacrificing any privacy.

Add a level to a kitchen island

You can create additional privacy in the kitchen by adding a second tier or raised bar to your island. While it doesn’t wall you off completely, it does give you a bit of separation from guests and can help to hide things like dirty dishes. It’s a great way to keep the kitchen looking clean and tidy without all the effort.

Room dividers

You can create more privacy at will by using room dividers. This can be something as simple as hanging curtains from the ceiling that can be closed, or you can go for a more permanent solution by strategically placing bookcases to section off the part of the room where you’d like more privacy. There are so many choices when it comes to creative room dividers; your imagination is your only limit.

Create intimate seating areas

You can easily create the illusion of more intimate spaces in your open concept home just by arranging the furniture. Instead of splurging on a massive sectional sofa for your living room, you can make smaller spaces that have a more intimate feel. Position a couple of accent chairs facing each other, along with a small table and a rug, and you’ll suddenly have a nook that’s perfect for quiet conversations.

Use light

Another way to create a sense of privacy in an open concept home is to use lighting. Ditch the overhead light and opt for a layered lighting approach, with a combination of floor lamps, table lamps, and accent lighting. When you want to create a more intimate space, only light the area you’re using and leave the rest of the space dark. Not only will it feel more private, it’ll be cozier, too.

Add plants

Finally, much like light, plants can be an easy way to create privacy while also making your home more beautiful. Large plants can be used like room dividers to help delineate and add privacy to a space. You can also add plants to half walls in order to extend them and help block the view.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Must-Have Items on Moving Day

By Virtual Results

Must-Have Items on Moving Day

Moving day is likely to be one of the more stressful and hectic days of your life. No matter how much you prepare, you’ll always be faced with unanticipated challenges like a mover being late or a weather forecast that calls for a downpour. While you can’t control everything, you can take some small steps to make it more manageable. That’s why we’ve come up with this list of must-have items that you’ll be glad you have on moving day. Get these things together and have them in a place that’s easy to locate and access throughout the day.

Permanent markers

You can never, ever have enough permanent markers on moving day. There will always be some last-minute boxes that need packing, or one that was never labeled. Those markers will be indispensible as you hurriedly make notes to yourself and the movers about the contents of each box and where the boxes go.

Plastic bags

If you have the kind of furniture that requires assembly, then you know how many little pieces are involved. Do yourself a favor and have a couple of boxes of plastic bags that zip close on moving day. You can put all those little items together and use your permanent markers to write on the bag what furniture they go with.

Tape

You probably think you’ve already purchased enough packing tape for your move. Go ahead and buy a couple more rolls, just to be safe. There will always be those last-minute boxes that need to be secured, and you don’t want to run out of tape. While you’re at it, spring for one of the good tape dispensers. The time and irritation it will save you will be worth it.

Dolly or other wheeled device

Picking up and carrying boxes gets old really fast. Either rent or buy a dolly (or two) to have on moving day. Dollies make it so much easier to move more than one box at a time, saving you precious energy on moving day.

Tools

You probably thought you had already taken everything apart. But you’d be wrong. There’s a good chance you’ll need a screwdriver, pliers, hammer or other essential tool on moving day. Keep a small toolbox handy stocked with your most-used items. You will thank yourself later.

Trash bags

It’s surprising how much trash you can still generate after all your boxes have been packed. You’ll need something to throw those pizza boxes in, or that stash of old newspapers you forgot about in the basement. Trash bags also double as packing devices in a pinch. They’re great for moving pillows, blankets, and clothes.

Toilet paper

Finally – don’t forget to have a couple of rolls of toilet paper on hand. Not only can you use it for its intended purpose, but you can also use it for last minute cleaning and as cushioning in a packing box. Be sure to stow another roll or two in your bag to take with you to your new house.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Home Selling Superstitions

By Virtual Results

Home Selling Superstitions

Selling your home can be a big undertaking. Which is why it’s no surprise that some homeowners have turned to less-than-traditional methods to increase their odds of a quick and profitable sale or for good luck in a new home. From enlisting the help of a saint to applying ancient Chinese design principles, these are some of the more imaginative and mystical methods some home sellers choose to try.

Burying a statue of St. Joseph

This is probably an old superstition that you’ve heard of, and it continues to be popular amongst home sellers today. If you want to sell your home quickly, bury a statue a St. Joseph upside down near the sale sign. Then pray to him for a speedy and favorable sale. Once your home is sold, dig up the statue and give it a place of honor in your new home. One caveat – don’t bury the statue too close to your neighbor’s yard, or their home may sell before yours. Does this work? According to online testimonials, it does.

Burning dried sage

Burning bundles of dried sage, also known as “smudging,” is another common technique that some home sellers use to bring good luck. Dried sage has been used in rituals for thousands of years, so it’s not too much of a leap to think it might bring some positive energy to your home selling experience. The idea is that the burning sage clears away negative energy and helps a potential buyer feel positive in your space. To smudge your home, open the windows and light the sage until it starts burning. Then blow out the flame to leave the bundle smoking. Starting on the bottom floor, walk through your house and wave the stick into all the corners, thinking positive thoughts and imagining a happy sale.

Applying rules of feng shui

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging items in your home to maximize the flow of energy. While there are many rules that can be confusing and complicated, you can use some basic techniques to create a good vibe in your house. Red is a very lucky color in feng shui. Try lining the front walk to your door with red flowers, to direct good energy into your home. Not only will you be using a little feng shui magic, you’ll be sprucing up your curb appeal to potential buyers. Clear out clutter to help the energy flow, keep your stovetop clean, and make sure your home is light and bright. Regardless of whether or not these are feng shui tips, they are also just common sense ideas that will make your home more appealing to buyers.

Ditching that old broom

Finally, did you know there’s a superstition about old brooms and new houses? It’s said that you shouldn’t bring an old broom into your next home. Apparently, the broom will bring with it all your old bad luck. While we might be a little skeptical of this one, we don’t think it’ll set you back too much to buy a new broom – just to be on the safe side. If nothing else, you’ll be limiting how much old dust you bring with you.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Benefits of Buying an Older Home

By Virtual Results

Benefits of Buying an Older Home

When searching for a new place to call home, many homebuyers will pass over older homes. They worry that an older home will be full of problems that will require expensive repairs, or that the layout or design will be too dated. While there are some risks associated with buying an older home, there are benefits as well. Here are some of the best reasons why you should consider buying an older home.

More character

Let’s face it – many of the new homes on the market today lack character. When developers design new subdivisions, homeowners generally have just a few layouts to choose from. All the houses end up looking similar. If you crave a little more diversity, an older home is the way to go. Many older homes have great character with unique qualities that make them different from the other houses on the block. You’ll also find more interior details like carved moldings, wainscoting, and pocket doors.

Good craftsmanship

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to” is unfortunately true. In an effort to make housing more affordable, new homes often use lower quality materials, such as hollow core doors or cabinets made from particle board. When you buy an older home, you’re more likely to find better craftsmanship and higher quality materials, like solid wood doors and cabinets. These materials hold up better over time and often age beautifully.

Established neighborhood

As cities grow, new homes are built further and further away from the city center. When you buy an older home, you’re more likely to be in an established neighborhood closer to amenities like shops and restaurants. You’ll find that some of your neighbors have been there for years or even decades. There’s likely to be a greater mix of ages, from young families to empty nesters, and a built-in sense of community. Your neighborhood will also have more mature trees and vegetation, adding to the beauty of the community.

Lower cost

Generally speaking, an older home that is comparable in style and size to a new home will be less expensive. Because the home is older, there’s usually more room for negotiation with price – more than what you would find in a neighborhood with all new construction. Of course, you may end up using those savings to make repairs and updates to the house, but those investments will increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell. In addition, you’re less likely to live in a community that’s governed by a homeowners association, saving you monthly fees for maintenance and repair of common areas.

Great investment potential

Finally, older homes can have great investment potential. Older homes that are in great condition or in a great location can be hard to come by, giving you a leg up in the marketplace when it’s time to sell. This is especially true if your home has any unique architectural features that aren’t found in newer homes. If you make well-chosen renovations, you can boost your home’s value by more than what the project takes to execute, as long as it’s done well.

Ultimately, when you’re on the hunt for a new home, don’t ignore those listings you see for older homes. They could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Homebuyer Turnoffs

By Virtual Results

Homebuyer TurnoffsWhile every buyer is looking for something different in a home, there are a few key things that are universal turnoffs. If you’re selling your home, you’ll disregard these issues at your own peril. Even in a competitive market, here are the things that potential buyers will have a hard time ignoring.

Bad smells

Is there a mysterious odor coming from somewhere in your home? You better find it, and fast. Buyers are often turned off by bad smells, including cigarette smoke, pet odors, mildew, or garbage. Identify the offending fragrance, and take steps to eliminate it.

Aggressive pets

Sure, you know your 100-pound dog is just being friendly. But to someone unfamiliar with your best friend, it can look like aggression. The same goes for territorial cats and loud birds. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that your pet won’t interfere in your home showing in some way, even if they are relaxed and sweet. When potential buyers are coming to your house, make arrangements to have your pets off the property.

Insects

Even if a potential buyer is an avid insect collector, he still won’t want to see pests inside your home. If you see any evidence of an infestation, hire an exterminator and take care of the problem before you begin showing your home.

Wrong price

It doesn’t matter how much a buyer loves your home – if it’s priced too high, it’s going to be a big turnoff. Remember, if the house doesn’t appraise for the selling price, the buyer may have trouble with their financing. Work with a professional real estate agent who will use their expert knowledge of your local market to help you determine the best listing price.

Dirty bathrooms

You know the feeling you get when everything around you feels dirty? Imagine a potential buyer having that feeling when they walk into your bathroom. Dirty bathrooms are one of the biggest turnoffs to buyers. Make sure you scrub your bathroom until it shines, remove all clutter, and invest in some brand new towels.

Dark rooms

Have you ever noticed that many home listings describe a home as being bright or filled with natural light? That’s because most buyers want to live in homes that feel open and airy. When potential buyers are visiting your home, make sure all the lights are on. Open curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. If any rooms are painted dark colors, repaint them in a lighter shade. If tree limbs are blocking sunlight from outside, trim the branches until more light shines through.

Bad landscaping

First impressions are so important, and most buyers will make a snap judgment about your home in just a few seconds. For this reason, it is essential that you give some love to the outside of your home. Clean up the yard, mow the lawn, and spruce up your curb appeal. Make sure sidewalks, driveways, and decks are clean. Prune trees and shrubs and if needed power wash the exterior of the house. While it may seem like too much work, you’ll be glad you did it.

Compliments of Virtual Results

The Final Walk-Through

By Virtual Results

The Final Walk-Through

You’re so close to closing day, you can practically feel the keys to your new home in your hand. But not so fast! There’s one important step that should be completed before you start signing all that paperwork. The final walk-through is your last chance to have a look at the home and make sure it’s in the condition that has been agreed upon in the contract. While you may be tempted to opt out of the final walk-through, it’s an essential part of the process that should not be overlooked. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s not an inspection

Let’s be perfectly clear – a final walk-through is not an inspection. The home inspection happens earlier in the process and helps to reveal issues that need to be addressed before closing. The final walk-through is your chance to ensure that all the agreed upon repairs have been made. It generally occurs anywhere from a few days to 24 hours before the closing, and takes about 30 minutes. Your real estate agent should accompany you for the final walk-through.

Bring your contract

There’s going to be quite a bit to take in during the walk-through, and it’s possible you’ll be excited or nervous. Take your contract with you so you can refer to it. That’s your guide to help you remember what was agreed to so you can check to make sure everything is in the appropriate condition.

Check these items

In addition to bringing your contract with you, bring a checklist of things you’ll want to examine so nothing is forgotten. Your list should include:

  • Turn all lights on and off to verify that they are functional.
  • Check to see if any fixtures have been removed that are supposed to stay with the house, like a chandelier.
  • Check the heating and air conditioning to make sure they work.
  • Check all the major appliances.
  • Check all water faucets to make sure they run and that there aren’t any leaks.
  • Flush all the toilets.
  • Open and close all the doors and windows and make sure they all lock.
  • Check storage areas to be sure nothing is being left behind by the seller that wasn’t agreed upon.
  • Visually inspect ceilings, walls, and floors to make sure there are no new leaks, cracks, or other damage.
  • Check garage door openers.
  • Turn on garbage disposal and exhaust fans.

Don’t forget the exterior

While you are examining the house, don’t forget the outside. On rare occasions, a seller may dig up plants or make other changes to the landscape. If it wasn’t agreed to in your contract, that’s an issue you’ll want to bring up.

What if there are problems?

So what happens if you discover a problem during the walk-through? Typically, it could delay the closing until those problems are addressed. Another option is for the seller to make financial concessions to the buyer instead of fixing the issue. If those choices don’t pan out, a portion of the proceeds can be held in the escrow account until all the problems have been resolved.

Compliments of Virtual Results