8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home | RISMedia’s Housecall

Home upgrades add value to your investment, improve your home’s function and allow you to express your personality.

Before you move into your new house, you may want to make upgrades. These add value to your investment, improve your home’s function and allow you to express your personality. Plus, making upgrades before you move in reduces inconvenience later. Consider the following upgrades to make your new house feel like home.

1. Enhance the Kitchen

Quality kitchen upgrades ensure this room meets your family’s needs, and they add value to your home. Consider several changes that improve the quality and function of your kitchen.

Get high-end, energy or water saving appliances.
Lower the bar counter from 42 to 36 inches so it’s more accessible.
Install quartz countertops.
Add lighting under the counters.
Choose matching fixtures and hardware.

Worried about staying on budget while renovating the most expensive room in the house? According to HomeAdvisor’s Kitchen Cost Guide, it costs the average homeowner between $12,500 and $33,500 for a full kitchen remodel.

2. Redo the Flooring

It’s definitely easier and more affordable to upgrade a house’s flooring before you arrange all the furniture. Consider stain-resistant carpeting in high-traffic areas, or install hardwood in connected rooms for a sleek appearance.

3. Update the Bathroom

Spruce up a bathroom already in the house or add an additional bathroom before your move. When renovating a bathroom, consider your current and future needs, such as your family size or entertaining habits. Several possible changes include:

Install a double sink.
Install a walk-in shower or jacuzzi tub.
Choose decorative shower, floor, or wall tile.
Customize the lighting or fixtures.
Hang extra shelves for storage.

4. Bring in New Cabinetry

Before you unpack all your possessions, install new cabinetry that helps you get and stay organized. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets have a big effect on your home’s function and appearance. Choose cabinet finishes and designs that match your personal style and color scheme. You can hang the old cabinets in the garage or attic to expand your storage space.

5. Update Electrical Wiring

Older houses may have outdated wiring or you may find that you need additional outlets in certain rooms. Walk through your house, visualize how you will use each room and plan any electrical wiring updates. With help from an electrician, you can add outlets in the living room to accommodate your gaming systems or wire the den ceiling for a new fan.

6. Wire for Internet Service

Improve security and speed in your new home with wired internet throughout the house. It allows you to install and use a variety of electronics, including security cameras, in any room. Full-house wired internet also prevents outside users and hackers from accessing your network and potentially harming your family.

7. Add Lots of Storage

Getting extra storage throughout your house before you move helps you completely unpack and organize your home the way you want. The price of installing a new closet is about $1,800, as found on HomeAdvisor. Choose from a variety of cabinet types, shelving, and overhead storage designs and materials that match your needs and preferences.

8. Transform the Laundry Room

While you probably plan to use your laundry room primarily for laundry, you may wish to transform it into a functioning pantry, drop zone or mud room. Rearrange the washing machine and dryer hookup to make room for pantry storage. Consider adding a bench and hooks for shoes, backpacks and umbrellas, too.

Source: 8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home | RISMedia’s Housecall

Dumb Reasons People Can’t Buy a Home | realtor.com®

We asked real estate agents to shed light on some of the dumbest moves they’ve seen home buyers make. Make sure you don’t commit these blunders.

Source: Dumb Reasons People Can’t Buy a Home | realtor.com®

Buying a home—especially if it’s your first—can be a lot like losing weight in the sense that people end up doing, well, some pretty dumb stuff in the process. But while desperate dieters might waste money on “magical” weight-loss pills or silly exercise equipment (remember the shake weight?), misguided home buyers could be doing far more serious damage—like undermining their ability to purchase a house at all. Don’t be one of them! We asked real estate agents to shed light on some of the dumbest reasons people can’t buy a home. The good news? These flubs are easily avoidable. Read on and beware.
Dumb reason No. 1: Waiting to line up financing

Your first step in the home-buying process should be to meet with a mortgage lender to discuss your financing options, says Benny Kang, a real estate agent in Irvine, CA.

“You don’t truly know what you can afford until you meet with a lender,” says Kang. In other words, just because you think you can buy a $1 million house doesn’t mean you can actually get a loan to purchase a home that nice.

Dumb reason No. 2: Using a fly-by-night mortgage lender

The mortgage industry is rife with scams—including a slew of fake or unreliable lenders. Placing your trust in a bad lender can cause a deal to fall through. That explains why “sometimes sellers reject offers because of the buyer’s lender,” says Philadelphia real estate agent Kathy Conway. To make sure your financing is rock-solid, ask your real estate agent for lender recommendations instead of, say, just Googling it. And read up to know your mortgage basics.
Dumb reason No. 3: Getting pre-qualified rather than pre-approved

Pre-qualification and pre-approval might sound similar, but they’re not. Essentially, anyone can get pre-qualified for a loan, because it only involves having a conversation with a lender about the state of your finances (no documents are exchanged). Getting pre-approved, meanwhile, involves the lender gathering all necessary documentation—your tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, and more—packaging the loan, and submitting the file to an underwriter for review. If everything checks out, the lender will issue you a written commitment for financing up to a certain loan amount that’s good for up to 90 or 120 days.

When you submit an offer on a home, you’ll need to include a pre-approval letter from your lender, says Conway.
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“Educated sellers won’t even entertain an offer unless the buyer has a letter of pre-approval” from a reliable lender, Conway says.
Dumb reason No. 4: Shopping outside your price range

“It sounds obvious, but some home buyers just have trouble sticking to a budget,” says Kang. Therefore, resist the temptation to shop online for homes that are simply outside your price range (i.e., how much you’ve been pre-approved for).
Dumb reason No. 5: Making lowball offers in a seller’s market

You need to rely on your real estate agent to determine whether a house that you’re interested in has a fair listing price. (Your agent will do this by performing a comparative market analysis, which entails looking at recently sold properties that are comparable to the house that’s up for sale.) If a home is priced well, it might make sense to offer full price, says Kang. Moreover, “if you’re in a seller’s market, making a crazy lowball offer can piss off the seller” and kill your offer, says Kang.
Dumb reason No. 6: Writing a bad personal letter to the seller

If you’re competing against other buyers, writing the seller a personal letter can help strengthen your offer. But Julie McDonough, a real estate agent in Southern California, says some home buyers are inclined to overshare, in which case a letter can actually hurt your offer.

“Stick to the fact that you love the house and the neighborhood,” says McDonough. “Don’t get into personal details” such as the fact that you’ve lost out on other homes or want to remodel the dated kitchen.
Dumb reason No. 7: Making a big purchase while in escrow

Some home buyers make the mistake of opening new credit accounts while they’re in the process of buying a house. But purchasing a big-ticket item like a car or a boat while you’re buying a house can jeopardize your financing. Why? Because your mortgage lender’s underwriter is going to re-evaluate your finances and recheck your credit report shortly before closing in order to determine that you’re still able to qualify for the loan.

“Even buying a fridge can throw off your credit or debt-to-income ratio,” says Conway. Translation: Don’t make any big purchases until after you close on the house.
Dumb reason No. 8: Not budgeting for closing costs

If you don’t have enough cash to cover closing costs, you won’t make it to settlement; and if that’s the case, you could lose your earnest money deposit. Thus, make sure to get an estimate from your mortgage lender of what your closing costs will be before making an offer on a property (currently, this is legally required—just make sure to read it).

Closing costs vary widely by location, but they typically total 2% to 7% of the home’s purchase price. So on a $250,000 home, your closing costs could come to $5,000 to $17,500. Both buyers and sellers usually pitch in on closing costs, but buyers shoulder the lion’s share of the load (3% to 4% of the home’s price) compared with sellers (1% to 3%), so you need to make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay your portion.

How to keep mosquitoes away from your deck and home

While it may not be possible to shield your yard and home from mosquitoes completely, there are several techniques that can allow you to reduce their numbers dramatically.

“For your yard, you should drain standing water from containers such as buckets, bottles, cans, pool covers, flower pots, pet water bowls and clogged rain gutters,” said Dr. Robert Peterson, professor of entomology vice president-elect, Entomological Society of America.

For containers such as pet water bowls, vases and bird baths, you should replace the water every few days. Also, you should fix any leaky outdoor pipes and faucets.

Potted plants with stagnant water potentially become mosquito breeding grounds

(ThamKC/iStockphoto/Getty Images)

“If you have ponds or other water features on your property, you can apply [Mosquito Dunks® Insecticide] cakes or granules of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (commonly just called BTI)] to manage the immature mosquitoes developing in water,” Peterson said.

Strategically placed floor fans providing a breeze across the area of concern will serve to keep the mosquitoes at bay. According to Conlon, mosquitoes are weak fliers and will not be able to navigate properly against or within the air stream.

If you have a deck, light it using General Electric yellow “Bug Lights.”

“These lights are not repellent, per se, but do not attract mosquitoes like incandescent white lights. In terms of keeping a deck or porch mosquito-free, it’s quite easy,” said Joseph Conlon, a technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association.

Mosquito repellency myths

“Bug zappers will attract many more mosquitoes to your yard than they kill (and they indiscriminately kill many beneficial and otherwise harmless insects). Ultrasonic repellents and vitamin/other nutritional supplements do not work,” Peterson said.

Citronella candles have a mild repellent effect but do not offer significantly more protection than other candles, such as tiki torches, which produce smoke. They have a very small range of effectiveness away from the flame.

“Mosquito management in areas larger than your yard and house, such as your neighborhood or town, should be done by your community’s dedicated public health professionals,” Peterson said.

If you decide to spray control products for adult mosquitoes directly on vegetation around your home, Peterson recommends using a pest management professional for this type of treatment.

“They have the appropriate equipment and will ensure that risks to insects other than mosquitoes (such as bees) will be low,” Peterson said.

Mosquitoes inside the home

To keep mosquitoes out of your home, ensure that window and door screens are intact and windows and doors are appropriately sealed around their edges.

Once inside, the only practical way to deal with them is to swat them or suck them up in a vacuum because they are relatively weak fliers, so a hand-held or other type of vacuum with an extender tube can work well.

“The best traps in a home are the warm-blooded occupants of the home, for example, you, your family and your pets. Female mosquitoes are exquisitely adapted to find you based on the carbon dioxide you breathe out, your body temperature and the odors you give off,” Peterson said.

Experts suggest keeping repellents available such as DEET, picaridin and IR3535 as directed on their product packages.

According to Conlon, the other repellent, often the choice of those wanting a natural product, is oil of lemon-eucalyptus, sold as Repel. Repel is a 40 percent formulation of naturally-derived eucalyptus.

Catnip has been noted for years as possessing repellency against mosquitoes. However, only recently has its effectiveness been demonstrated to the EPA and therefore has not been registered by the EPA yet.

Insects flying in the air

(ThamKC/iStockphoto/Getty Images)

There are even clothes laced with insect repellent. These articles of clothing employ a process of putting permethrin, a mosquito repellent, into fabric that will retain its repellent factor through 70 wash cycles.

Keep in mind the level of repellency is only obtained in areas of little or no wind movement. Breezes will waft the repellent fraction away from the body, reducing repellent concentration and compromising repellency in the air column surrounding the body.

If possible, schedule your activities to avoid the times when mosquitoes are most active, which are usually around dawn and dusk.

“You should also dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Close-weave is the best to prevent biting, but layered loose-weave works almost as well,” Conlon said.

Source: How to keep mosquitoes away from your deck and home

Aprils Market Stats – Flipper Stats

Just In: Renters Can Buy a Home—Without Spending More Money

Young couple holding their new, dream home in hands

Rents are so high that the average renter could buy a home worth approximately 50 percent more than the median home value without spending any more money, according to a recent analysis by Zillow.

The national median rent, $1,416, is enough to cover the monthly expense (including insurance, maintenance and taxes) of owning a home worth $289,505—considerably more than the national median home value of $196,500.

Similar outcomes shake out in the majority of cities analyzed:


“Renters hesitant to enter the home-buying market for fear of not being able to find an affordable home should be encouraged to discover they may have more options than they thought,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow.

“However, it’s worth noting that many of the more affordable homes for sale may be older, smaller and/or located in less-desirable neighborhoods than they might like,” Gudell says. “The decision between buying and renting is a financial trade-off between saving more each month on a mortgage payment versus spending more on rent, but taking advantage of the location and lifestyle amenities urban renting often offers.”

Scraping together enough for a down payment is another issue—though lesser now that rents are losing steam.

“Recent slowdowns in rent growth may take some of the edge off for renters saving to become homeowners,” says Gudell. “This is good news, since saving a down payment, qualifying for a loan and finding a home available at a manageable price remain hurdles for millions of aspiring buyers.”

Source: Just In: Renters Can Buy a Home—Without Spending More Money

FAKE NEWS: Here’s how much more it costs to own vs. rent a home in every US state

Talk about fake news – this is ridiculous! Comparisons between owning and renting based solely on the mortgage payment versus the rental payment are bogus. Read this and see what I mean!

Homeowners pay more for housing each month than renters do, according to a new NerdWallet analysis.

Source: Here’s how much more it costs to own vs. rent a home in every US state

Buy Now or Wait? Barry Habib – National Real Estate Post

Should I buy now or wait?

Today we have Barry Habib on the show talking housing and rates for the rest of the year. Barry has won numerous awards for his ability to predict the direction of the housing market.

Click the image below, and then click the play arrow.

Source: Barry Habib Talks Housing and Rates for 2017 – National Real Estate Post

Startling MLS Statistics for March

The Charts are nice, but be sure to check the commentary below for some amazing insights.

Phoenix Market April Infographic

Here are the home improvements with the best payoff – Curbed

According to a new analysis from Remodeling magazine, homeowners can, on average, get back 64 percent of the money they put into a renovation. But which projects have the best return on investment?

We love stunning renovations and exquisite remodels as much as anyone, but even Chip and Joanna would know that money put into a reno isn’t a 1:1 investment in your home’s future price tag. Every year, researchers with Remodeling magazine study the most popular home improvement projects, polling contractors and realtors to find out which renovations produce the greatest impact on a home’s market value.

According to this year’s report shows that, homeowners can, on average, get back 64 percent of the money they put into a renovation. But which projects have the best return on investment?

The clear winner was installing fiberglass insulation in the attic. With a job cost of roughly $1,343 and an ROI of 107.7 percent, adding attic insulation isn’t the most glamorous upgrade, but a no-brainer if you want to make improvements that will recoup their own cost. Other projects with a high ROI include replacing the entry door with a new steel model (90.7 percent ROI) and installing manufactured stone veneer (89.4 percent ROI).

As it turns out, more impressive renos tend to have much lower returns. A bathroom addition will recoup just 53.9 percent of the money put into it, and the addition of a master suite has an ROI of 64.8 percent.

Below, explore a chart with analysis results from Realtor and explore the full report here.

Source: Here are the home improvements with the best payoff – Curbed