Posts for Syndication

Planning Your Spring Garden

By Virtual Results

Planning Your Spring GardenWe know it’s still January, but it’s never too early to start planning your spring garden! In fact, thinking about the longer days and warmer temperatures to come are just the thing to beat the winter blues. If you’re ready to get to work on your spring garden, then this is what you need to do.

Plan your garden location

If you’re new to gardening, then it’s time to decide where you’ll put your garden. If you want to grow vegetables, then your garden needs to go in a sunny place. If you want to create flower gardens around your home, then pay attention to how much sun each spot gets so you can choose the right plants. If you want to add a patio in your garden, you may consider installing retractable awnings or some kind of cover. For larger landscaping projects, you may also need dump truck hauling services.

Know your planting dates

Part of being a gardener means learning more about your climate. It’s important to understand when you can start seeds so that young seedlings aren’t killed by frost before your new garden even gets started. Check the USDA growing zones map to find out your area’s first and last frost dates.

Browse seeds

One of our favorite things to do on a cold and dark winter’s night is to browse through seed catalogs. Dreaming about all the things that will be sprouting from the ground in just a few months can get you through the rest of winter. Choose seeds that are appropriate for your conditions so you’re sure to have the best outcome.

Consider your garden layout

It can be helpful to draw up a simple diagram to determine the layout of your garden. Think about companion planting so that you’re putting plants side by side that grow well together. It will also give you a better sense of how much room you have so that you don’t buy too many seeds or seedlings. Your layout will also serve as a guide if you want to build a Professional Wood Fence Installation around your garden.

Purchase supplies

Sure, you can wait until spring to order fertilizer, but why wait? You’ll thank yourself later when spring suddenly arrives and you have everything you need to get started. This includes pots, soil, pruners, and gloves, among others.

Think about compost and water

One of the easiest ways to improve your garden is to use things you already have. Do you save kitchen scraps and yard waste to compost? If not, then you should consider it. Compost will greatly improve the quality of your soil and keep waste out of landfills. Do you save rainwater? If not, then think about setting up a rain barrel or two in your garden. Rainwater is better for your plants than tap water and you’ll save money in the long run by not using the garden hose to water your plants during dry spells.

Get your tools ready

There’s nothing better than having clean, sharp tools at your fingertips. If you didn’t clean and sharpen your tools this fall, then get a jump on it now.

Prepare for a late frost

Most gardeners are enthusiastic about getting their spring gardens started. But that can mean an unexpected late frost takes out your plants. Prepare for a late frost by gathering old sheets and towels that you can use to cover tender plants on those nights that dip below freezing.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Don’t Renovate These Things Before Selling

By Virtual Results

Don’t Renovate These Things Before SellingGetting your house ready to put on the market means making repairs both large and small. Most buyers want to purchase a home that is move-in ready so it’s important to get yours up to snuff. You’ll have to prioritize and carefully consider which repairs to work on, and there will be a few that will be obvious to you, like hiring a roofing contractor to restore the roof back to good condition. That being said, certain other items won’t provide a return on your investment, and there will be others that a new homeowner will prefer to do themselves after moving in. These are the things that we recommend you don’t renovate before selling your home.

Kitchen cabinets

Kitchens can be a big selling point for a home. And if yours are a little dated then you may be tempted to replace or upgrade them. While we do encourage you to deep clean your kitchen and update certain items like lighting and hardware, leave the kitchen cabinets alone. This includes painting them. Kitchen trends come and go, and if you follow a trend that some homebuyers don’t find attractive it could work against you. It’s best to let the new owners determine how they’d like to update the kitchen cabinets.

Hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are a perennial favorite for homeowners. So don’t be tempted to cover them up with something more trendy. While wall-to-wall carpet may hide imperfections and vinyl laminate may be easier to clean, the new owners may not appreciate that the beautiful hardwood has been covered. Instead, clean and polish the floors before listing.

Cracks in sidewalks or driveways

Curb appeal is important when you’re selling your home. But don’t be tempted to go overboard. Yes, you should trim trees and bushes, powerwash surfaces, and update your mailbox and front porch light. But don’t try to fix cracks in sidewalks or driveways. Unless the damage is a serious hazard, this is not something that will be a deal-breaker for nearly all buyers. If it’s the winter time and there is snow, you could very easily lay down some driveway salt so that potentials buyers can take a look at the state of these surfaces. They will appreciate your transparency and consideration for their needs.

Window treatments

Does your home have broken blinds or outdated window treatments? If so, then you may feel compelled to replace them. But we recommend simply removing the old or broken window treatments instead of replacing them. It’s unlikely a buyer will decide not to put an offer on a house because there are no curtains or blinds. There’s even a hidden perk to simply removing them – you’ll be letting in more light. You should have as much natural light as possible when showing your home, so removing the window treatments makes sense. Just be sure to clean your windows until they sparkle.

Anything you can’t finish

If you’re not sure that you’re up to the task of a particular renovation, then don’t do it. Buyers will be more put off by an unfinished job. When you leave them with a partially completed renovation, then it is something they will have to deal with immediately after moving in. But if you leave it alone, then the new owners can choose if and when they’d like to take on that task. If you’re property is in need of a commercial flat roof repair, you should determine whether or not you can commit to the project until its completion.

Talk to your agent

Finally, when in doubt, talk to your agent. If you’re not sure whether or not you should renovate an item in your home before selling, then consult your agent. They have the knowledge and experience to help you make the best decision.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Creating a Cleaner New Year

By Virtual Results

Creating a Cleaner New Year

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get your house in order? Have you gotten started yet? Most of us desire to live in a clean home but have trouble motivating ourselves to do it. If you keep putting off cleaning your home for the New Year, don’t worry. We’re sharing our best tips to help you conquer that clutter and dirt and create the home environment of your dreams!

Get the family involved

If you’ve got a family, then you know that families can make huge messes. Maybe your spouse can never remember to hang up their coat or your kids dump their sports gear on the floor and never pick it up. There’s no reason that one person needs to be responsible for everyone else’s messes. Resolve to get the whole family involved with cleaning your home. There are age-appropriate chores for everyone from pre-schoolers to teenagers. Give everyone a regular task and you’ll be well on your way to a cleaner home this year.

Stay ahead of messes

Are you the type that puts off cleaning until the weekend? Then it’s time to change that habit. By tackling a quick chore or two every day you will no longer have to commit to marathon cleaning sessions. Put everything back in its place before heading to bed. Load the dishwasher after every meal. Hang up your wet towel after a shower to keep mold and mildew at bay. A few small daily habits will add up over time.

Use the right tools

Anyone who has ever tried to hammer a nail with a shoe knows that having the right tool for the job is key. You will dramatically decrease the time needed to clean when you use the right tools and products. Invest in tools and cleaning products that can serve a variety of purposes, which will save you both time and money. For plumbing issues like a blocked drain, you might not have the proper tools at home so hiring professionals would make more sense.

Make a list

Do you love making lists? Then use that to your advantage. Keep a running list of chores that need to be tackled. For instance, if it has been a long time since your roof was last inspected, you may include roofing repairs and inspections in your to-do list. This not only helps you keep track, but also gives you a feeling of satisfaction when you can cross those chores off your list.

Check your storage

Are your closets and other storage areas cluttered, disorganized, or overflowing? Then now is the time to tackle them. Go through items and get rid of those things you no longer need or want. Then organize what’s left so you can easily see and access what you have. You should also take a walk around your home and see if any other spaces can be used for storage. This could include a trunk in the living room that doubles as an ottoman or a shelf in your home office for extra supplies. If you see signs of mice infestations in these spaces, you may have to call in a rodent control expert to get rid of these pests before they wreak havoc in your home.

Focus on tasks instead of rooms

Finally, if you find that it’s just too overwhelming to tackle an entire room, then focus instead on tasks. When you get out the vacuum, vacuum all the rooms. The same goes for dusting. If you’re washing your sheets, do all the sheets and towels in the house. You’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment and won’t get bogged down by a chore that feels too big to handle.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buying a Home with a Septic Tank

By Virtual Results

Buying a Home with a Septic Tank

You recently fell in love with a home and want to put in an offer, but it has a septic tank. While septic tanks are fairly common in the United States, they do require a bit of know-how so that you can keep them properly maintained. If you’ve never had a septic tank before, then it can be a little intimidating. Fortunately, septic tank maintenance is not terribly costly or labor-intensive, but you should know more about them before jumping in. Here’s what you should consider if you’re buying a home with a septic tank.

What is a septic system?

Understanding how a septic system works will help you keep it in good working order in your new home. A septic tank is an underground system that collects wastewater from your showers, tubs, sinks, washing machine, and toilets. It drains down through pipes and into your septic tank. Solid waste settles at the bottom and forms a layer of sludge. Lighter waste creates a scum on top while liquid waste, known as effluent, settles in between them. This effluent drains into a leach field that consists of gravel or soil which filters out the harmful bacteria.

What are the benefits of a septic system?

There are many perks of having a septic system for your home. These include:

  • No utility bill – If your home is hooked up to the municipal sewer system, then the costs of your sewer service are included in your utility bill. With a septic system, you avoid that cost.
  • Longevity – Septic tanks last up to 40 years, on average, as long as you keep them properly maintained. Regular maintenance includes getting residential drain cleaning and septic services through the help of a professional plumber, using water efficiently, properly disposing of your waste, and maintaining your leach field.
  • Emergencies are contained – When your conventional sewer backs up, you’re getting your neighbor’s sewage in your home, too. When you have a septic tank, it’s only your own. Conversely, your sewage does not encroach on your neighbor’s property, either.

What else should homeowners know about septic tanks?

If you’re considering buying a home with a septic tank, then it’s important to know that routine maintenance will keep your tank in working order and prevent most problems. Regular maintenance will keep sewage from backing up into your home. But be aware that all maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner. The government is not responsible for your septic system since you are not connected to a city line.

Should you get a septic tank inspection?

Homebuyers should think about getting a septic tank inspection through residential plumbing services before buying a home. This can be part of your home inspection process. Depending on where you live, your state or municipality may require your lender to perform a septic tank inspection before the title will be transferred. Septic tank inspections will evaluate sludge levels in the tank, where the leach field is located, if the tank is the appropriate size for the home, the tank’s overall condition, how well it connects to pipes, and whether or not drain lines are getting equal amounts of water.

Check These Landscaping Issues Before Buying

By Virtual Results

Check These Landscaping Issues Before Buying

There’s nothing quite like finding a home that’s just right for you when you’re out house-hunting. It’s got the perfect layout, it’s the perfect size, it’s in the perfect neighborhood, and it’s listed for the perfect price. Everything’s perfect, right? Yes – unless you’ve failed to look closely at the home’s landscape. Homebuyers tend to overlook landscaping issues that can turn into big problems after you’ve moved into a home. To help ensure that you don’t suddenly have to deal with an unexpected and expensive problem that may get in the way of a landscape installation project idea you may already have had in mind, then check for these landscaping issues before you buy.

Poor drainage

Standing water can be a big problem for homeowners. That’s why you need to check for drainage issues before you buy a home. Pooling water can cause major damage and attract pests like mosquitoes – no fun if you want to enjoy your outdoor space. If this is the case, then you may consider getting help from a mosquito control service to eliminate these disease-carrying pests. Check to see if the land around the home slopes away from the foundation. If so, then you likely won’t have any drainage problems. But if the ground slopes toward the home, then look for water damage. This can alert you to bigger problems down the line.

Large trees

Mature trees can be a wonderful feature of any garden. They provide shade and habitats for birds and squirrels and other creatures. Unfortunately, they can also cause many problems for homeowners. Check the health of old trees before buying, especially those that are close to the home. A dead or dying tree is in danger of falling during a storm and can be a real hazard to everyone living there. Also, look for neighboring trees that hang over your property line. Even if the tree belongs to someone else, it could still make your yard messy or cause damage. If so, consider that you’ll need to work something out with a neighbor about the tree’s maintenance when you move in.

Invasive plants

Invasive plants may be tough to spot at first, but they can cause you many headaches after you move in. Non-native plants that spread aggressively can quickly and easily take over your entire yard. As a homeowner, you may end up spending a significant amount of time and money to eradicate them. Get familiar with invasive plants that are common in your area and be on the lookout for them when house-hunting. This can include English ivy, garlic mustard, tree of heaven, and kudzu.

Poorly installed walkways or patios

If the previous homeowner liked to DIY, then you should check the landscape for poorly installed patio pavers and other outdoor walkways. These can easily become uneven over time. You may inherit a tripping hazard that needs to be totally redone before you can safely enjoy your outdoor spaces.

HOA rules

Finally, if you’re purchasing a home that is part of a homeowners association (HOA), then understand what landscaping guidelines you will be expected to follow when you move in. If you’re an avid gardener, then you don’t want to find out too late that you’re prohibited from removing your lawn and planting the native garden you dreamed about.

Compliments of Virtual Results

When Can Sellers Keep Earnest Money?

By Virtual Results

When Can Sellers Keep Earnest Money?

When a buyer makes an offer on your home for sale, they will most likely include an earnest money deposit. This is a percentage of the purchase price – usually between one and three percent – that signals the buyer is making an offer in good faith. But what happens if the deal ultimately falls through? Does the seller get to keep the earnest money? Or should it be returned to the buyer? Let’s take a closer look at when the seller is legally allowed to keep an earnest money deposit if the sale doesn’t close.

First, understand the logistics

As a seller, there are different ways that you can handle the earnest money deposit. You should know who is holding the deposit, whether it is your agent, an escrow company, or a bank. The purchase contract will state specifically where the earnest money will be held. That money is then typically applied to the down payment at closing. Sellers can help to protect themselves by requiring that the earnest money check be cashed before being put in escrow. This helps to ensure that if the deal does fall through for reasons other than what is stated in the purchase contract that the seller can keep the money before the check is canceled.

Second, know the contingencies

During the pandemic, many buyers were making offers on homes with no contingencies. While this can be bad news for the buyers, for sellers it made things much easier. But the housing market has shifted and more buyers are making offers with contingencies. These are agreements between the buyer and seller that allow the buyer to back out of a sale. They can include:

  • Inspection contingency – If a home inspection uncovers problems that were not previously disclosed by the seller, then the buyer can back out of the deal with no penalties.
  • Financing contingency – If the buyer does not ultimately qualify for a mortgage, then they will not be penalized if the deal falls through.
  • Appraisal contingency – If the home appraises for less than the offered amount, then the buyer can walk away from the deal with no penalties.

Sellers must understand what contingencies they are agreeing to so that they know when an earnest money deposit needs to be returned to the buyer by law.

When sellers can legally keep the earnest money deposit

Now that you understand when the earnest money deposit needs to be returned to the buyer, let’s take a look at situations where the seller can keep the money. First, if contract deadlines are not followed, then sellers can keep the earnest money. That means if the home inspection isn’t conducted or a mortgage isn’t secured by a certain date and the buyer hasn’t made attempts to get permission in writing for an extension, then the seller can keep the money. Secondly, sellers can also keep the money if the buyer backs out for any reason other than what is stated in the contract. If your buyer walks away without giving a reason, then you are entitled to keep the earnest money. Ultimately, it all boils down to what is stated in the contract. If the buyer did not adhere to the terms, then the seller is legally entitled to keep that money.

Compliments of Virtual Results

New Rules for Homebuyers in 2023

By Virtual Results

New Rules for Homebuyers in 2023

It’s a new year that brings with it a new landscape for the housing market. The last three years saw dramatic changes that upended the real estate market as we typically know it. Housing pricings skyrocketed, demand surged, and supply crashed, creating a frenzy in the market. Buyers became willing to take an all-or-nothing approach to buy a house including paying way above asking or forgoing an inspection. But things have changed. 2023 ushers in a new era of the housing market and these are the new “rules” that buyers should be aware of when purchasing a home this year.

You can sleep on it

During the pandemic, buyers needed to put in an offer on a house immediately. There was no time to “sleep on it” to determine whether or not the house was right for you or what offer to make. Fortunately, you don’t need to make those knee-jerk reactions now. In most markets, there are many more homes for sale and fewer buyers to compete with. If you find a home you’re just not sure about, then you have more room to think about it before taking action.

You don’t have to offer over the asking price

If you tried to buy a home in the last three years, then you no doubt put in an offer on a home that was way over the asking price. For desperate buyers, that was the best option for making their offers more attractive. But in 2023, you’re no longer going to see that kind of competition except in the hottest markets. Most of the time, you’ll be able to offer the asking price or even less and still have your offer taken seriously by the seller.

You don’t have to waive contingencies

Another tactic that homebuyers were using to have the winning offer was waiving most or all contingencies. This has always been a risky move. When you waive the right to a home inspection you could be on the hook for expensive repairs you didn’t know about. Or if you waived your appraisal contingency then you could find yourself in trouble if the home appraised for less than the price you offered. However, in 2023, buyers can once again feel confident including contingencies in their offers.

You don’t need 20 percent down

Saving for a down payment can be one of the biggest hurdles to becoming a homeowner. During the past three years, if you didn’t have at least 20 percent of the purchase price saved for a down payment, then you would have found it difficult to have your offer accepted. But in today’s market, buyers can once again look at loans that allow you to pay much less than 20 percent for your down payment. Government-backed loans such as FHA, USDA, and VA loans allow you to pay 3.5 percent or even less to buy a home. This is a wonderful way for first-time homebuyers to achieve their real estate goals without having to wait years to save for the down payment.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Staying Sane While Moving in Winter

By Virtual Results

We get it – moving is no fun. And when you couple that with winter weather it can be even less so. But when you’re buying or selling a home, moving is part of the deal. Fortunately, there are ways that you can make your upcoming winter move less stressful. If you’re packing boxes and planning a winter move, then here’s what you should do to keep your sanity.

DIY what you can to save money

One of the things that makes moving so stressful is that it can be expensive. Saving money is important to many people who are moving to a new place, especially when inflation is in the news every day. You can save money on your move by taking a DIY approach. That means packing your own boxes, loading them into a moving truck, and driving it all to your destination. While it can make your life busier, it gives you more control over your time and your spending.

Start early

Another way to keep your sanity intact during a move is to get an early start. This means beginning preparations for your move before you even list your home for sale. Go through all your belongings before you pack so you can sell, donate, or toss items that you no longer need. Pack up personal belongings you won’t need to use over the next few months and put them in storage. Not only will you have fewer boxes to pack right before moving day, but your home will also be less cluttered and more attractive to buyers.

Take breaks

Prepping for a big move is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t keep chugging along without a break sometime during the process. Incorporating downtime into your schedule is critical for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Take a weekend off to watch movies or go for walks. Renting a moving truck for several days or even a moving pod for a month or two so you can slowly load up your belongings will make your life easier. And when you get to your destination, take your time unpacking. Go out and explore your new neighborhood and meet your new neighbors.

Ask for help

Even if you fully DIY your move, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Start calling in those favors you’ve been banking. You don’t have to ask people to help carry heavy boxes for you, either. People can help with your move in a variety of ways including taking your dog for a walk, watching your kids for a night, or picking up a pizza order for you.

Keep an eye on the weather

Finally, the weather can be more unpredictable in the winter months. So keep an eye on the forecast as moving day approaches. If you get snow in your area, then keep driveways and walkways clear of snow. Protect your floors from dirt and slush. Have a backup plan in case poor weather makes it impossible to drive on moving day. And be sure to have your utilities turned on at your destination before you arrive.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Winter Home Selling Tips

By Virtual Results

Winter Home Selling TipsJust because Old Man Winter is here doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to sell your home. While spring and summer tend to be the busiest seasons in the real estate market, you can still achieve your home-selling goals in winter. It helps to understand what makes the winter market different and how you can best attract buyers during these cold, dark months. That’s why we’ve compiled these tips to help you ace your winter home sale.

Know your buyers

Anyone willing to trudge out in cold, dark weather to look at a home for sale means business. While you’re likely to see fewer buyers in winter, the ones who are out shopping are serious about purchasing a home. These could be people who are relocating for work or who want to be closer to family and friends. Knowing who your potential buyers could be will help you market your home to them more effectively. You may get fewer offers, but the ones you do receive will be serious.

Clean and de-clutter

Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution to clean and declutter your house. This is the time of year when people are ready for a fresh start. Show them that they can easily make that fresh start in your home by thoroughly cleaning and de-cluttering. Go through all your belongings and decide what to keep and what to donate, sell, or throw away. Then go room to room and deep clean everything from the ceilings and floors to the cabinets and closets. Remember, people viewing your home will be opening every door and drawer, so details are important.

Make it cozy

No matter what part of the country you live in, winter brings with it a certain coziness that you should capitalize on as a home seller. Make your house as warm and welcoming as possible. First, remove any personal items from your home such as family photos. You want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in the space. Next, fix any items that require repairs such as leaky faucets or jammed windows. Be sure all your lights are in working order and keep them all on for showings. Open curtains and blinds to let in natural light. Light a scented candle or two or diffuse essential oil to make your home smell inviting. Finally, give each room a purpose. If you’ve got a spare room you can stage it as a guest bedroom, home office, or even a kids’ playroom.

Don’t forget the outside

Just because our gardens are dormant for winter doesn’t mean you can skip the outside of your home when you’re selling. Curb appeal is still vitally important. Boost your home’s appeal by cleaning up your landscape and trimming trees and bushes. Keep walkways and patios clean and freshen up your front porch by painting your door and adding a new mailbox or lighting fixture. Powerwash outdoor surfaces such as decks and siding and clean your windows.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Why Buying Now Makes Sense

By Virtual Results

Why Buying Now Makes Sense

Have you been a little nervous about jumping into the real estate market? Buying a home now is certainly different than it was during the pandemic. But just because the market has shifted doesn’t mean that now isn’t a good time to buy a home. If you’re not sure whether a home purchase is the right move for you, then consider these reasons why buying now actually makes sense.

There are more homes to choose from

One thing that characterized the housing market over the last two years was a lack of inventory. Many serious homebuyers were unable to purchase a home simply because demand was so high but supply was so low. With the recent rise in mortgage rates, fewer people are in the market for a house. In addition, homes are staying on the market longer. That means there are more homes on the market today to choose from and you’re more likely to have your offer accepted.

Home prices are forecasted to stay steady

Are you worried that housing prices will crash after you’ve already purchased your home? Fortunately, this isn’t 2008 and most experts agree that home prices will remain steady. Local factors will certainly influence this, and some markets may see a slight increase or decrease. But overall, you can feel confident that your home will retain its value.

Housing increases in value over time

Real estate continues to be the favorite investment of Americans because it always increases over time. While the market can fluctuate in the short term, over the long haul home prices always go up.

Mortgage rates should moderate

Many potential homebuyers have been scared away from the market in recent months because of skyrocketing interest rates. However, rates have steadied over the past several weeks as inflation eases. Inflation does have a big impact on mortgage rates, so if inflation continues to decline, then you can bet that rates will come down, too. For those that are in the market for a mortgage, it pays to shop around. Different lenders offer different rates, so be sure to check out all of your options before deciding.

Refinancing is always an option

On the flip side, if inflation doesn’t ease in 2023 and mortgage rates stay high, then remember that you always have the option to refinance at a later date. Mortgage rates fluctuate over time and you’re not locked into your rate forever. This works best if you’re planning to stay in your home for more than five years as there are closing costs associated with refinancing your loan.

You’re building your net worth

Are you tired of throwing your money away on rent? Then it’s always a good time to buy a home. When you purchase a home, the payments you make are helping you to build your net worth instead of your landlord’s. Every payment you make helps you build equity, which is the difference between what you owe on your loan and the value of your home. Equity is a powerful financial tool that you can leverage to purchase a second home, make renovations on your current home, or even finance an education.

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