Posts for Syndication

What To Know About Floor-to-Ceiling Windows

By Virtual Results

What To Know About Floor-to-Ceiling WindowsAbundant natural light is something that most homebuyers would be happy to have in their new homes. Living in homes filled with sunshine can make them appear larger and be a mood-booster. For this reason, floor-to-ceiling as well as double hung windows have become a major selling point for homes that have them. These windows maximize the amount of sunlight in a home and also highlight any amazing views. However, even though floor-to-ceiling windows can be a wonderful perk in any home, they also come with their own set of challenges. Here’s what you should know about floor-to-ceiling windows.

Look for energy-efficient windows

Because they let in so much light, floor-to-ceiling windows have the potential to lower your energy costs because you won’t need to turn on so many lights during the day. But you may not see those savings if the windows aren’t energy-efficient. Older windows can have many leaks and drafts, which can mean you’re running your air conditioner or heater more than necessary. And remember that all that sunlight can heat a room. In the dog days of summer, you may want to use thermal curtains to keep your room cool – unless you want the AC to run nonstop all day to keep up.

Check for durability

In addition to looking for energy-efficient windows, you should also make sure that floor-to-ceiling windows are durable, too. This is particularly important in areas with hurricanes, or even if you have small children. You don’t want the glass to shatter if someone knocks into it or if there are changes in pressure or temperature. Look for tempered glass windows, which any home inspector should be able to identify. The newer the windows, the more likely they are to be made from tempered glass.

Think how it will affect your furnishings

Being bathed in light can make your furnishings look spectacular. But the UV rays can also cause them to fade. The light can also heat furniture like leather sofas, making them uncomfortable to sit on during the day. All the extra light can also make colors appear lighter than before, especially those items closest to the windows.

Consider window treatments

Window treatments can also be tricky with floor-to-ceiling windows. If you like privacy, then you’ll want to be able to install curtains or window film. These can be tough to find in very large sizes, and you may need to have them custom-made. They can also be a challenge to install and may require the help of a professional. If you want you may consider using custom blinds like window shades, vinyl blinds, etc.

Don’t forget about cleaning them

Finally, cleaning windows is easily one of the most dreaded chores for many homeowners. When you have floor-to-ceiling windows, it may be a challenge to keep them clean. With such large windows, you’ll notice more easily when they are dirty. You’ll need to have a plan for how to keep them clean. This may also require the help of a professional, especially if the windows aren’t on the first floor of the property. Take this extra expense into account if you’re looking at a home with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Moving Day Must-Haves

By Virtual Results

Moving Day Must-HavesAre you preparing to move into your new home? Congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is a dream come true for many Americans. But we’d be lying if we didn’t confess that while buying a home can be an exciting time, actually moving into a new home can be, shall we say, stressful. Packing up all your belongings and moving them to a new place is a big job, and moving day can be busy and chaotic. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of must-haves for your moving day so it can be as stress-free as possible. Here’s what you should have.

An “open first” box

The most important thing to have on moving day is an “open first” box. It’s exactly what it sounds like – the box you open first once you’ve moved into your new home. This box will contain all the essentials you will need or want in those first 24 hours. This can include device chargers, toiletries, sheets and towels, medications, snacks, and coffee. Your future self will thank you for putting all these must-haves together in one place.

Pet supplies

Moving is stressful – but moving with a pet can be even more so. That’s why you should also have a box of necessities for your pet on moving day. This includes their food, bowls, bed, toys, treats, and medication. Don’t forget a litter box and clean litter for your cat. Your pet will be much less stressed if they are surrounded by familiar things in your new place.

Cleaning supplies

Hopefully, your new place is already clean when you arrive. But chances are, even if professional cleaners were hired to do the job, there are probably some places you’d like to spot clean. Plus, you’ll likely track in dirt during the moving process. So keep a supply of cleaning products on hand including surface cleaner, paper towels, and trash bags.

Basic tools

It’s also extremely helpful to have some basic tools on hand on moving day. While you won’t likely need your entire toolkit, it can be handy to have a box cutter, screwdriver set, hammer, measuring tape, and Allen wrench set. These can be used to open boxes and begin assembling furniture.

Extra copies of keys

This is something that not everyone might think to do. But it can be very helpful to have several copies of your new keys made before moving day. That way, you can give keys to everyone who is helping you. This lets them come and go as needed without always having to find you. Your trusted friends and family members can also then keep their keys in case of emergency or if they house sit for you down the road.

Comfort objects

Finally, moving into a new place can be disorienting and feel a little weird that first night. For this reason, it can be helpful to have a few comforting items on hand on moving day. This could include a favorite scented candle, a framed photo of loved ones, or even a face mask you can use at the end of the day to unwind. Having favorite objects around you will help your new place feel a little more like home.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Late Summer Home Maintenance Tips

By Virtual Results

Late Summer Home Maintenance TipsIt’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of August! Soon those long summer days will just be a memory as we begin to prep for the fall season ahead. As you get ready to transition from summer to fall, it’s important to tackle seasonal chores around your home. By staying on top of these maintenance and cleaning tasks you can help head off any potential problems as temperatures drop. Over the next few weeks, we recommend accomplishing these chores as you say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn.

Have your HVAC system serviced

Your home AC is the unsung hero of summer, helping to keep you cool during these end-of-season days. That’s why it’s so important to have your HVAC unit serviced before cold weather arrives. This will get your AC ready to rest during the winter months. It will also ensure that your furnace is ready to tackle the dropping temperatures. Be sure to change your furnace filters and hire an hvac professional to do a service and tune-up on your system now to beat the rush.

Prune dead branches

Harsh winter weather can cause dead branches in trees and shrubs to break, which can lead to damage to your property. While the weather is still nice, prune all dead branches out of trees and shrubs around your home. Not only will this make your yard look better, but it will also help to spur new growth on those plants in the spring. You may also consider hiring a professional tree pruning and tree service if you don’t have the time to do this task.

Clean gutters

We know that cleaning the gutters is nobody’s favorite job. But giving your gutters a good cleaning now before the leaves fall is a smart idea. Summer storms can deposit a surprising amount of debris in your gutters. By cleaning them now you’ll get a jumpstart on your gutter cleaning in the fall which will make the job easier later.

Don’t forget about pests

August is the peak season for flying pests like mosquitos and wasps. To better enjoy these last few weeks of summer weather, deal with bugs before they become a bigger problem. Mosquitos breed in standing water, so empty birdbaths and fountains regularly. Check your yard for standing water and empty those spots, too. If you have a wasp problem, then find where they are coming from. Once you have located the nest, you can get rid of them.

Clean your gardening tools

As summer winds down, it’s time to turn your attention to your gardening tools. After the last grass cutting, clean your mower and empty the gas tank. This helps to keep your carburetor from clogging over the winter, which can cause big problems next spring. It’s also a good time to clean and sharpen your gardening tools so that you’re ready to garden next year.

Scrub the grill

Finally, we know it’s sad to say goodbye to grilling out on warm summer nights. But as the season comes to end, you should scrub your grill before storing it for the winter. If you’ve used yours as much as we have, then it probably has caked-on grime you’ll need to remove. You’ll thank yourself next year when you’re ready to fire it up for the season.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Pre-Drywall Inspections

By Virtual Results

Pre-Drywall Inspections

Are you finally realizing your dream of building a new home? There is certainly something very special about creating a home from the ground up, built to your specifications. But as anyone who has gone through the process can tell you, there can be problems along the way. One of the best ways to avoid issues down the line is to ask for a pre-drywall inspection. This will help ensure that your dream home is built to specifications. Here’s what you need to know about this crucial step in the home building process.

What is a pre-drywall inspection?

A pre-drywall inspection is somewhat self-explanatory. It’s an inspection that happens after the foundation, flooring, doors, windows, wall and roof components, and some of the plumbing and electrical are installed but before the drywall is hung. Once the drywall is hung it can hide the work that was done behind it. By having a pre-drywall inspection, you can more easily fix any issues that are discovered. This will help ensure that your home is built to your specifications and that your home build is not delayed by unexpected repairs. If you discover any issues with the placement of your plumbing system, you may need to contact a residential or commercial plumbing contractor to have it corrected.

What is inspected during a pre-drywall inspection?

There are many components of your home that will be inspected during a pre-drywall inspection. They include:

  • Foundation including the slab, walls, and drains
  • Floor system including footing and floor joists
  • Roof system
  • Plumbing system including placement of pipes and waterproofing
  • Wall system including framing, studs, and flashing for windows and doors
  • Electrical system including wiring and junction box placement
  • HVAC system including the placement of registers and air ducts
  • Exterior wall coverings
  • Roof coverings

What are the benefits of a pre-drywall inspection?

There are many benefits to having a pre-drywall inspection. These include:

  • Addressing any issues before they become bigger problems. Once the drywall is installed, it is much more difficult and costly to make repairs. It can also lead to delays.
  • Being able to check modifications. If you’ve added anything extra to your home build such as recessed lighting or outlets, the inspector can confirm whether or not these additions have been made. This is helpful because some items need to be installed before the drywall goes up.
  • Knowing where everything is. You can take pictures during the inspection. This means you will always know exactly where electrical, gas, and plumbing lines are in case they need to be repaired in the future. You will also know where wall studs are to make it easier to hang decorations and heavy items once the drywall is installed.
  • Checking the craftsmanship. A pre-drywall inspection lets you see the craftsmanship of the work that has been completed to help ensure it was done properly and to code.

The pre-drywall inspection gives you peace of mind

Ultimately, the greatest benefit of getting a pre-drywall inspection is the peace of mind that it will give you. You’ll get an upfront look at the bones of your home so you can feel confident that the work was done well. You’ll also get a written report from the inspector that documents any issues that came up so you can refer to them down the line.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Save Water In Your Garden

By Virtual Results

Save Water In Your GardenWith severe drought affecting many parts of the country, it’s important to become more water-wise at home. One of the ways that we often use more water than we need is in our home gardens. In fact, nearly half of the water used to irrigate our lawns or water our vegetable gardens is lost to evaporation according to the EPA. But by adopting water-saving strategies at home we can both conserve water and save money. Here are our top tips on how to save water in your home garden.

Landscape with drought-resistant plants

One of the easiest things you can do to save water in your garden is to plant drought-resistant plants. These types of plants are conditioned to thrive in drier situations once they have been established. There are many kinds of drought-resistant plants you can choose from, including trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. Choose those that are appropriate for your environment and USDA Zone.

Choose native plants

In addition to using drought-resistant plants, you can also save water by landscaping with native plants. These are plants that are native to your area and have become accustomed to the weather patterns that exist there. Native plants will require much less water than other varieties and will also provide food and shelter for pollinators. Consider digging up some of your thirsty lawn and replacing it with native alternatives.

Group similar plants together

Another strategy that can help you save water – and labor – is grouping plants together that have the same water needs. This way, you don’t need to necessarily water the entire garden, you can concentrate just on the areas that need a little extra. You’ll save water by not watering plants that don’t need it.

Apply mulch

Another easy way to conserve water in your garden is to apply mulch to garden beds. This can be in the form of compost, wood chips, or straw, among other things. Mulch helps to keep moisture from evaporating from the soil. It also has the added benefit of inhibiting the growth of weeds. Organic mulches can also add nutrients to your soil so you can rely less on fertilizers.

Plant close together

Planting close together can also help you save water, especially in your vegetable garden. When you plant close together, the plants give each other shade, helping to ease evaporation. It also means you can grow more produce in a smaller space, which is great for those with small gardens.

Time your watering

In periods where you don’t get any rainfall for several days or even weeks, supplemental watering can be necessary. But watering at the right time is essential. Don’t water in the middle of the day. Watering during the sunniest, hottest parts of the day means more of your water will be lost to evaporation. Instead, water in the early morning between 5 am and 9 am.

Use greywater

Finally, consider using greywater to water your garden. Greywater is water that has been used and isn’t appropriate to drink. But most greywater is perfectly safe to water plants. Collect water from baths and showers and use it to give your beloved plants a drink when they need it.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Benefits and Risks of an All-Cash Offer

By Virtual Results

Benefits and Risks of an All-Cash Offer

All-cash offers can be very attractive in the real estate market. As a buyer, it gives you a competitive edge over other offers that need to be financed. As a seller, it helps you to avoid some of the pitfalls and delays of a financed purchase. All-cash offers are more common than you might think and have become a strategic tool for buyers in today’s seller’s market. But it’s important to note that while all-cash offers can have many benefits, they also come with risks. Let’s take a closer look at all-cash offers so you can decide if this is the right path for you.

Benefits of all-cash offers

There are many benefits of an all-cash offer in real estate. They include:

  • Giving buyers a competitive edge in a bidding war. If your offer is the only all-cash offer, then it’s quite likely that you’ll be at the top of the heap. That’s because it eliminates some of the common contingencies, such as the financing contingency, and helps to speed up the closing process.
  • Sellers agreeing to a lower purchase price. By avoiding the hassle of needing to close on a loan, some sellers may agree to sell their home for less than the asking price.
  • Saving money on closing costs such as title insurance and other mortgage fees as well as interest on a mortgage.
  • Not having any monthly mortgage payments because you own the home outright.
  • Never worrying about foreclosure because the house is already paid for.
  • Speeding up the closing process because a lender does not need to be involved.

Risks of all-cash offers

All-cash offers sound pretty fantastic, don’t they? While they certainly do offer many benefits, especially in a seller’s market, they also come with some risks. These include:

  • Missing out on tax deductions. If you’re a homeowner with a mortgage, then you are entitled to certain tax breaks.
  • Tying up a large portion of your money in one asset. If you use all your money on the purchase of a home, then you aren’t able to diversify your financial portfolio.
  • Limiting your financial liquidity.
  • Limiting how aggressive you can be with your investments if most of your money is tied up in the home.
  • Making sure you have enough money to cover other home-related expenses such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA fees, and inspection fees. These expenses can add up and you don’t want to be unprepared.
  • Dealing with delays caused by consolidating your money in one place. You may have all the cash you need to purchase the home, but you should have it all in one account to make the transaction easier. Bank transfers can take time, so be sure to move the money that will be needed well ahead of time.

Is an all-cash offer right for you?

So the million-dollar question is – should you make an all-cash offer if you have the money to do so? That depends on your unique situation and how you want to handle your investments. If you’re unsure whether or not an all-cash offer is right for you, then talk to your financial professional.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Ideas For Creating a Friendlier Neighborhood

By Virtual Results

Ideas For Creating a Friendlier NeighborhoodOne of the best things about becoming a homeowner is the opportunity to build community. When you move into a new home you’re also becoming part of a neighborhood. But what if that neighborhood is on the quiet side or you’re having trouble meeting other homeowners on your street? Then you just need to get the ball rolling! If you’re looking for ideas on how to create a friendlier neighborhood, then these are some of our top suggestions. Put the word out to your neighbors, and you could soon be having block parties on the regular!

Start an online group

The easiest way to begin reaching out to your neighbors is by starting an online group. You can easily do this on social media sites like Facebook or Nextdoor. This will allow you to communicate quickly and easily with everyone, and perhaps even schedule events that take place offline.

Install a Little Free Library

People love book clubs for a reason. It’s nice to get together with other people and chat about the great book you just read. You can create the same kind of atmosphere by installing a Little Free Library in your yard. Stock it with books you’d like to share with both kids and adults, and encourage your neighbors to take a book or leave a book.

Offer to help

Everybody could use a helping hand now and again. Especially older folks who may live alone. If you notice that anyone on your street may need some help, then don’t be afraid to jump in. Perhaps your elderly neighbor could use some help clearing snow in the winter. Or maybe your neighbor is struggling to bring her groceries into the house and watch her kids at the same time – you could volunteer to help.

Plan a neighborhood yard sale

Who doesn’t love a good yard sale? It’s a great way to clear out your clutter and make a few bucks while you’re at it. Yard sales are even more successful when the whole neighborhood gets involved. Choose a day and invite your neighbors to participate. Make sure to market your neighborhood sale online, and check any local ordinances for sales in your area. You could even donate your proceeds to a local charity! Talk about building community.

Schedule a clean-up day

When you buy a home, you gain a sense of pride in ownership. This naturally extends to the neighborhood you live in, too. So why not get the whole neighborhood involved in a clean-up day? Choose a day once or twice a year where the whole block gets together at a designated time to pick up trash, debris, and dead branches.

Celebrate with a block party

Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s time to celebrate! Throwing a block party is a wonderful way to relax and get to know the people in your neighborhood. There are many ways to do this including having everyone set up in their front yards or even renting a nearby community center.

Compliments of Virtual Results

When Your Neighbor is an Arm’s Length Away

By Virtual Results

When Your Neighbor is an Arm’s Length Away

When you’re house hunting, you may come across a home that is literally only a few feet from the neighbor. In fact, more and more homes are being built on smaller lots so you may encounter this frequently. It may be difficult to determine during the showing just what life would be like living just an arm’s length away from your neighbor. Will you be able to hear their TV? How much privacy will you have? And just what does the law say when it comes to how far away houses need to be from each other? Let’s take a closer look at this situation so you can determine if this is the right set-up for you.

Result of lot shortages

Did you know that homes are often built so close together because of lot shortages? According to housing market data, there is a shortage of lot inventory in most of the major housing markets. This is often attributed to old zoning restrictions and land-use regulations. So when space is tight, homes tend to be sandwiched together to create more housing options. This is even truer today with inventory shortages and high buyer demand. Plus, it also has a historical aspect. Row houses were common in Europe hundreds of years ago which continues to influence housing design today.

Knowing if noise will carry

When you’re touring a home while the neighbors are out, it can be tough to determine whether or not you’ll be able to hear them inside your own home. If the home is part of a homeowners association (HOA), then find out what the noise standards are. That will give you a good indication of what you can expect. If possible, visit the home at different times of the day to see how noisy the environment is and whether or not sound tends to carry. If other people’s noises are bothersome to you, then living with a neighbor so close might be a dealbreaker.

Understanding the law

We’re in a tight housing market, and demand continues to be high. Neighborhoods are becoming denser, especially in highly desirable communities. So it’s unlikely that we’ll see a reduction in the number of homes that are built close together. Unfortunately, there is no federal law that states what the minimum distance between homes should be. This can vary widely from municipality to municipality. Most towns will have a minimum requirement for how far back a home needs to be from the lot line. To find out what the setbacks are in your community, contact your local building department.

How to create more privacy outdoors

When you’re inside your home, you can close the doors and windows to help create more privacy if the neighbor’s house is close. But what can you do outside? First of all, consider installing a privacy fence. Adding shrubs along the fence can soften its look and also help absorb noise. Screens can also be used strategically to create privacy in your outdoor living space. You can also help to mask your neighbor’s noise with a water feature like a fountain.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Is This Another Housing Market Bubble?

By Virtual Results

Is This Another Housing Market Bubble?

The U.S. housing market continues to make the news on a daily basis. If you’ve been following the news, then you may have concerns about a potential housing market bubble – or even a crash. Nobody wants to revisit what happened during the 2007 housing market crash and recession. So it’s not surprising that experts and carefully looking at today’s market for signs of a bubble. Let’s take a closer look at why there is some concern but also how there are key differences between 2022 and 2007.

Why there’s worry about today’s housing market

Home prices have skyrocketed over the last two years. This mirrors some of the housing market activity we witnessed 15 years ago before the housing market crash. That’s why some experts have sounded the alarm about a potential bubble. But not all experts agree we’re in bubble territory because of major differences between then and now.

Low inventory of homes for sale

The first key difference is that, unlike 15 years ago, we have a low inventory of homes for sale. Between the years 2007 and 2010, there were too many homes on the market. This was primarily because of foreclosures and short sales that caused prices to fall dramatically. But for the last two years – and even before the pandemic began – we haven’t had enough homes for sale to meet demand. Prices are going up because of high demand. And while higher interest rates have cooled the market somewhat, most experts do not anticipate a sudden drop in home values – especially in highly desirable markets.

Lending standards have changed

The second key difference is that standards in mortgage lending have dramatically changed since the housing market crashed in 2007. Back then, lenders had very loose restrictions and nearly anyone could qualify for a mortgage – whether they could afford it or not. But that’s not the case today. Lenders have tightened their restrictions, so it’s far less likely for homeowners to default on their loans. Those risky loans no longer exist, and most homeowners have fixed-rate loans that won’t result in monthly payments suddenly surging. It’s very unlikely that the housing market will suddenly see a wave of short sales and foreclosures like it did 15 years ago.

The bottom line

While there isn’t consensus yet on whether or not we’re in a housing market bubble, most experts seem to think that we won’t see anything like what we saw in 2007. At that time, shady loans lead to ballooning payments that many homeowners couldn’t afford. This resulted in defaults and foreclosures on a large scale, flooding the market with inventory. This happened at the same time as a downturn in the economy, so there weren’t enough people to purchase those homes. But this time, we no longer have those risky loans. And there are many more buyers out there than there are homes for sale. Foreclosures are unlikely. Ultimately, we may see a drop in home prices as the market cools, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see a crash as we did in 2007.

Compliments of Virtual Results

5 Ways To Use Your Home Equity

By Virtual Results

5 Ways To Use Your Home EquityFor homeowners, one of the silver livings of skyrocketing home values is a sudden increase in your home equity. According to a recent report by CoreLogic, homeowners who have mortgages saw their equity grow by more than 32 percent since last year. That breaks down to an average gain of more than $63,000 for every borrower! What’s more, that equity can be leveraged in a variety of ways to your benefit. Here are five ways to use your home equity to your advantage.

Make a large purchase

When you have home equity, you can tap into it by applying for a home equity loan or line of credit. This extra money can be used in numerous ways, including making large purchases. Have your eye on a vacation home? Use your home equity to fund the down payment. Hoping to take an amazing trip or host a lavish wedding? Tap into that equity to pay for it. You can even use your equity to fund an education.

Invest in your home

Did you ever think about how your home can help you fund renovations? If you’ve been dreaming about upgrading your kitchen, adding a family room, or renovating your home office, then tap into the power of your home equity. When you use your equity to pay for improvements to your home, you’re helping to increase its value. It’s a win-win situation. You can also use your equity to fund upgrades when you’re selling. This can help you get a better asking price or lead to a faster sale.

Prepare for retirement

Your home equity can also be a huge advantage when you’re preparing for retirement. Use your home equity to fund the down payment on a rental home to help boost your retirement income. If you need to make accessibility upgrades to your home, such as ramps or a first-floor master bedroom, then your home equity can help you do that, too. You might even use the money to get an education in your retirement so you can explore a new career.

Consolidate your debt

Home equity can be a powerful and practical financial tool. You don’t need to use it for flashy things, such as home renovations or luxury vacations. Your home equity can also help you consolidate your existing debt. Use it to pay off your mortgage, student loans, medical debt, or credit card debt. You’ll probably get a lower interest rate with a home equity loan or line of credit. It could even help you to improve your credit score in the long run.

Use it for unexpected expenses

Finally, you never know what curveballs life is going to throw at you. When you have home equity to tap into, then you have a safety net. When you open a home equity line of credit, you don’t have to use that money right away. Instead, you can save it for when you need it. It can help you pay for repairs needed after an emergency such as a storm. You can also use it if you need time off from your job to take care of a loved one. And if you’re looking for a change of pace, you can use your home equity to help fund a new business venture. The sky’s the limit!

Compliments of Virtual Results