How to Cook at Home More Often

Many people find it difficult to find the time and energy to prepare meals at home. Cooking at home may seem like another task on your to-do list for the day, but it carries many benefits for you and your family. It not only benefits your wallet, but it will also create lasting memories with your loved ones. 

Meal Planning

Before you make the leap and decide to quit eating out so often, it is essential to prepare for this new lifestyle change. The initial thing to do is come up with a plan of action. Meal planning can ensure your success. Start by planning which days of the week you would like to start cooking on. These days can be reoccurring in your schedule each week. For example, you can cook on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings and eat leftovers or takeout on the other days of the week. Pick days in your schedule that are not jam-packed with activities. Once you decide upon the days you would like to cook at home, begin to make a recipe list for that week. Find recipes online and print them out so that they’re easy to access when you’re ready to cook them. If you’re not a huge fan of at-home cooking, try to find one pot meals that can go a long way for you and your family.

Grocery Shopping

After you have your recipes for the week, create a shopping list for those recipes. Try and steer clear of buying unnecessary ingredients that will go bad before you use them. Stick to your list as much as possible. If you’re too busy to find time to make it to the grocery store, utilize the free pickup option that many grocery store chains now offer. 

Fall in love with cooking

A love for cooking may not be something that comes naturally to you at first, but do not fret, before long you will be enjoying the benefits of utilizing your kitchen more. To develop a love for cooking, you need to make it as stress-free as possible. Now that you have your meal plan operating make sure you have the right tools to make it work for you. Look into tools like a pressure cooker or a food processor to cut down the tasks of preparing your meals. If chopping veggies are going to add stress to your prep time, opt for pre-cut vegetables in the frozen food section. 

Make it an event

Food often brings people together. Cooking can become a family activity that you enjoy throughout the week. Involve everyone in the family by assigning tasks to each person and work as a team to create a delicious meal. Invite your neighbors over for a family dinner and get to know the neighborhood. If cooking for a party seems too overwhelming, ask others to bring a dish. 

Once you get the hang of cooking for your family consistently, enjoy the quality time you now get to spend with your friends and family at your dinner table. Invite your neighbors over for your next homemade meal!

Evaluate Several Home Offers at the Same Time

Receiving multiple offers on a residence is a home seller’s dream come true. However, if a home seller faces a tight deadline to review several homebuying proposals simultaneously, making the right decision may prove to be exceedingly difficult.

Ultimately, evaluating multiple home offers at the same time can be quick and seamless – here are three tips to ensure that you can review various home offers and make an informed decision.

1. Consider the Homebuyer’s Perspective

Although you probably won’t be able to find out the identity of a homebuyer who submits an offer on your home, you may be able to learn about the homebuyer’s perspective if you study a home offer closely.

For example, a homebuyer who wants to close on a residence as soon as possible may face a time crunch. And if this buyer has fallen in love with your home, he or she may do anything possible to acquire it.

On the other hand, a homebuyer who submits a lowball proposal may be looking for a bargain. Therefore, this home offer may fall far below your initial expectations, and you should not hesitate to decline or counter the proposal.

2. Analyze the Housing Market

Operating in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market may dictate how you proceed with multiple offers on your house.

If you’ve listed a house in a seller’s market, the number of homebuyers likely exceeds the number of first-rate houses that are available. As such, you may want to accept a home offer in a seller’s market only if it matches or exceeds your expectations.

Comparatively, if you’re working in a buyer’s market, there likely is an abundance of high-quality residences and a shortage of homebuyers. Thus, you may be more inclined to accept a home offer that nets you the biggest profit – even if the home offer falls shy of your initial home selling expectations.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

If you’re unsure about how to approach multiple offers on your home, it certainly pays to consult with a real estate agent. In fact, a real estate agent can help you examine various offers and decide which home offer – if any – is right for you.

By hiring a real estate agent, you’ll gain an expert ally who will support you throughout the home selling journey.

Typically, a real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals and ensure you can set a competitive price for your residence. He or she also will host home showings and open houses, negotiate with homebuyers on your behalf and do everything possible to help you get the best price for your home, regardless of the real estate market’s conditions.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is prepared to respond to your home selling concerns and queries. And if you have questions about a home offer, your real estate agent is available to respond to your questions at any time.

Take the guesswork out of evaluating multiple offers on your home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can determine the best course of action based on the home offers at your disposal.

Do you Want to Install An Indoor Pool

An indoor swimming pool would be a pretty awesome item to add to your next home improvement to-do list. Indoor pools have a lot of perks and advantages, such as allowing you to swim at any time and replicate the outdoor experience regardless of the weather conditions. 

Advantages of an indoor pool

Apart from bringing the pool indoors to replicate the exterior experience, indoor pools can give you a taste of luxury living also. Some benefits include:

– You get year-round swimming whether in the summer or winter

– Efficient cost of maintenance because you won’t have to deal with outdoor debris in your pool.

– More natural water: Since sunlight won’t have a menacing effect on the water’s chlorine and sanitizers, you don’t have to use so much of chemicals to keep your pool clean and fresh.

While there are many benefits to owning an indoor pool, here are some drawbacks to also consider:

– Lack of direct sunlight: Indoor pools don’t get enough sunshine like outdoor pools, and this contributes to an increase in the cost of running the pool.

– Increased energy consumption: You have to heat the air space and pool water to prevent unsightly algae growths due to excessive moisture.

How much does an indoor pool cost?

A swimming pool alone typically costs between $40,000 and $60,000 in most parts of the United States and can go as high as $200,000 depending on what features you want to add, your location and many other factors like the dehumidifier system which protects the structure from moisture damage, and it’s not optional. Other factors include:

– The size of the pool – the large the pool, the more expensive it will be.

– The heating system used – this also gets costlier depending on the size of the pool and your location too.

– The type of pool – depending on what kind of lining materials you use, poolside accessories and even kind of pool lights and shower area.

– Accessories like automatic pool covers.

These are some of the factors responsible for the large charge. There are ways to bend around them and fit the project into your budget. You can choose fiberglass or vinyl liner pools instead of the costly concrete option. Automatic covers can also help to trap solar energy which warms your air space and pool, and in turn, reduce the amount you have to spend on maintenance.

Before you start on an indoor pool project, be sure to speak with a general contractor in your area to give you a detailed quote for the swimming pool.

Staging Your Home on a Budget

If plans for selling your home are in the near future, you’re going to want to start strategizing the most cost- and time-effective ways to make your home irresistible to potential buyers. One of the most proven ways of giving your home the edge it needs to stand out from the competition is good photography and attractive staging.

In today’s post, I’m going to share my tips on home staging that can be achieved on a budget and in a short period of time. That way you can focus more time on finding a new home and stop worrying about selling your current one.

Tip 1: Start packing

Before you start worrying about arranging furniture, it’s important to make sure you have a clean slate to work with. Start by packing personal effects into boxes and labeling them accordingly.

Staged homes are homes that look appealing to the widest audience as possible. Having personal reminders, like family photos, trophies, etc., makes it harder for viewers to picture themselves living in the home.

Most of us keep our homes arranged in a way that is convenient to our lives. And. let’s face it–life can be messy. But, when it comes to staging, less is usually more.

Not only will this cleaning process help you reduce clutter and make the home look better for staging, but it will also make your moving process easier since many of your boxes will already be organized and sealed.

Tip 2: Color scheming

Expertly staged homes tend to have one thing in common–a cohesive color scheme. Think of choosing your color scheme like creating an artist’s palette. You want a few colors that compliment one another and that will work together to brighten up your home.

If you have any furniture that appears worn, dated, or that clashes with the scheme of the room, it’s a good idea to place them in storage while you prepare for photographs and visitors.

Tip 3: Decorate sparingly

Now that you’ve packed away your family photos, you might be wondering what to put on the walls in their place. The best answer is often nothing. However, that doesn’t mean the walls need to be completely bare.

For smaller rooms, you can make them appear more spacious with the use of hanging mirrors (just make sure you can’t see yourself in any of those mirrors when you take your photos!).

Tip 4: Don’t forget the outside of your home

The value of curb appeal can’t be overemphasized. The exterior of our homes, along with our yard and driveway, are essentially what we show the world about our lives. Since most home buyers want their house to look nice, fit in with the neighborhood, but have its own unique flair all at the same time. They want to know that your house has that potential.

Furthermore, the driveway and yard are two of the first things people see when they visit. You’ll want to take advantage of this moment by making a good impression.

Craft a Homebuying Blueprint

Buying a house can be simple, particularly for those who craft a blueprint before they embark on the property buying journey. Now, let’s take a look at three tips to help you craft an effective homebuying blueprint.

1. Analyze the Housing Market

The housing market varies in cities and towns across the United States. However, if you analyze the local real estate sector closely, you can map out a successful property buying journey.

Assess the prices of recently sold residences and find out how long these homes were available before they sold. That way, you can determine whether a buyer’s or seller’s market is in place.

Remember, the more housing market data you review, the more equipped you’ll be to understand the current state of the local housing sector. And if you allocate time and resources to analyze housing market data, you can gain the insights you need to make informed decisions throughout the property buying cycle.

2. Establish Homebuying Criteria

Create a list of homebuying criteria – you’ll be glad you did. Because once you know what you want to find in your dream home, you can narrow your house search.

As you put together homebuying criteria, think about where you want to reside too. This will enable you to hone your home search to preferred cities and towns.

Don’t forget to consider your short- and long-term plans as you craft your homebuying criteria as well. For instance, if your goal is to work in the city, you may want to focus on houses in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you plan to start a family soon, you may want to explore residences near the top schools in your area.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

If you’re unsure about how to craft a homebuying blueprint, there is no need to worry. Real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market professionals can help you put together a homebuying plan.

A real estate agent is a housing market expert who is happy to teach you everything you need to know about buying a residence. He or she also will respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions.

In addition, a real estate agent will act as a guide along the homebuying journey. He or she first will learn about your homebuying criteria and goals and help you put together a property buying plan. Next, a real estate agent will help you search for your dream residence and set up property showings. And once you discover a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this home.

For those who want to achieve the optimal results during the property buying journey, it generally is a good idea to create a homebuying blueprint. By using the aforementioned tips, you can craft a homebuying blueprint so you can achieve your desired homebuying results.

Appraisal versus Assessment – What’s the Difference?

Home valuation is one of the tricky areas of real estate. In general, you want a high appraisal and a low assessment. But shouldn’t they be the same? Well, in a perfect world your assessment and your appraisal would be the same, but you don’t want the world to be perfect in this regard. Here’s why:

Appraisal

An appraised value comes from the report completed by a licensed professional appraiser to determine property value at a specific point, typically for a buyer to obtain a mortgage. It is a tool used by underwriters for lenders to determine if the home has enough collateral for the loan needed to purchase or refinance it.

Appraisers compare the home to similar properties in their evaluation. They look for both similarities to find a base value and difference to increase or decrease the value such as the roof’s age, livable square footage, exterior materials, upgrades, and other finished. Using these numbers and other valuation formulae such as the cost to rebuild the home (similar to your homeowner insurance values), and potential income from rental or other uses, the appraiser determines a possible value.

The market value is not the same as the appraised value, however. While it starts with the appraised value, other determiners such as the desirability of the area, or circumstances such as a tornado, hurricane, or eminent domain issues may adjust the market value above or below the appraised value.

Assessment

A home’s assessed value typically comes from the taxing authority for the municipality. It is the method of determining the tax basis (or valuation) of the property. The tax assessment is a percentage of that value that the homeowner pays annually to provide the municipality money for water and fire services, schools, capital improvements to roads, bridge, and public parks and additional essential services.

The amount of the percentage and its designations differ for every taxing authority, so a home in one neighborhood might have a different assessed value from an identical house in another block nearby if the boundary lines for the taxing authority (school district, for example) differs.Some counties and cities reassess homes only when they sell, while others have periodic assessments. And the percentage rates of the assessments change when voters approve various tax levies for a variety of purposes.

An appraisal affects your ability to obtain a mortgage for your home while an assessment relates to the ongoing yearly tax expenses. Since a third factor determines the home’s selling price, the market value, your professional realtor should guide your understanding of how these factors affect your home purchase or sale.

3 Reasons for Home Sellers to Take a Wait and See Approach

If you plan to sell a house, it can be easy to try to rush through the home selling cycle. However, doing so may do more harm than good, particularly for home sellers who want to maximize their profits.

Ultimately, a wait and see approach can be beneficial for a home seller. Some of the key reasons to consider taking a wait and see approach to selling a house include:

1. You can clean your house from top to bottom.

A messy home is unlikely to generate interest from large groups of homebuyers. Comparatively, a neat, tidy and pristine home is sure to stir up plenty of interest once it reaches the real estate market.

If you spend some time enhancing your house’s interior and exterior, the benefits can be substantial. In addition to making your residence more attractive to homebuyers, you may be able to raise your chances of receiving offers at or above your initial asking price.

To clean your house’s interior, you should spend some time mopping the floors, wiping down walls and ceilings and doing whatever you can to make each room look great. Meanwhile, to improve your house’s exterior, you may want to mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and do everything possible to ensure your house has plenty of curb appeal.

2. You can conduct a comprehensive home appraisal.

A home seller who immediately adds a residence to the real estate market might not understand what his or her house is worth based on the current housing market’s conditions. As such, this home seller risks pricing his or her house too high or too low.

Conversely, if you perform a home appraisal, you can set a competitive price for your residence from day one. This appraisal also will enable you to identify your home’s strengths and weaknesses and find ways to transform assorted weaknesses into strengths.

Employ an experienced home appraiser to evaluate your house – you’ll be glad you did. With a top-notch home appraiser at your side, you can receive the expert insights that you need to price your house appropriately.

3. You can discover the right real estate agent.

When it comes to selling a house, why should you be forced to work with an inferior real estate agent? Unfortunately, if you rush to add your residence to the real estate market, you may select the first real estate agent that you meet. And in this scenario, you risk making a poor choice.

On the other hand, a home seller who takes a wait and see approach can spend some time evaluating many real estate agents. Then, this home seller can make an informed selection and increase his or her chances of enjoying a successful home selling experience.

There is no reason to hurry through the home selling journey. Instead, deploy a wait and see approach, and you should have no trouble remaining patient and capitalizing on the right opportunities to maximize the value of your house.

This Years Top Home Trends On Pinterest

If your decor is feeling blah and drab after updating to a new home and bringing all of your old furniture with you don’t start hauling it to the dump just yet! You don’t have to toss everything out and start over to get a fresh new look.

Instead, incorporating a new trend or two can instantly change the look and feel of any room.

Here are the current top trends according to Pinterest:

Spa bathroom – Creating a spa-like atmosphere is at the top of everyone’s wish list, or so it seems. Items like cedarwood bath “mats”, rebottling products into beautiful bottles, and hanging eucalyptus and lavender are being pinned like crazy. Classics like wicker baskets, rolling up towels for display and bathtub caddies are still making their rounds. These are a great way to mix timeless elements with trending ones for a bathroom look that transcends time or at least not for the next year or two.

Sage – The color sage has won its standing in the neutral category. Use this shade to add tints of color to an otherwise neutral to the point of a sterile room. Kitchen cabinets, bathroom walls, living room walls are all popular canvases for this popular shade. Keep the trend modern by pairing it up with light pinks, taupes, creams, and denim blues. If you aren’t ready to commit to a paint color bring it in with accents via throw pillows, jars, and even the plant itself!

Big wall art – Big wall art is in and in a big way. Quickly replacing gallery walls canvases that stretch from floor to ceiling or a good  ⅔ of the wall big art is taking over Pinner’s boards by storm. Abstract pieces primarily in black and white seem to be the most popular when placed against a wall painted with a pop of color. However, don’t let this stop you from reach for a piece you love that is full of color! The key to this look is to avoid generic prints. If you’d like to make it personal blow up a more artistic shot from your wedding or have the kiddos make you a custom piece for a craft project.

Patterned plants – Greenery that comes in stripes, spots and varying shades are cropping up on Pinner’s boards everywhere. Plants bring life and freshness to a room so why not also make them pull their weight be adding visual interest to boot? Popular varieties are prayer plants, calathea, snake plants, philodendron, and pothos. Mix and match varieties to make a true statement.  

Colorful doors – Goodbye boring white doors! Colors like school bus yellow, blush pink, bright and cobalt blue are popping up on Pinterest boards everywhere. Go bold with yellow. Create a welcoming sanctuary with lavender. Create a home, sweet home with blush pink. And welcome guests with open arms with cobalt blue.

Revamp Your Homebuying Strategy

Although you might have entered the housing market with a strategy to help you streamline your search for your dream home, it is important to remember that even the best-laid plan may need to be changed. And if you fail to discover your ideal residence after a comprehensive search, now may be a great time to revise your homebuying strategy.

Let’s take a look at three tips to help you revamp your homebuying plan.

1. Consider Your Home Must-Haves and Wants

Creating a list of home must-haves and wants may be done at the start of a house search. Over time, however, this list may evolve. And if you update your list, you may be better equipped than ever before to reenter the real estate market with a fresh perspective.

Think about where you want to live in the foreseeable future too. Then, you can narrow your home search to specific cities and towns and accelerate the homebuying journey.

2. Review Your Budget

If you recently paid off your student loans or eliminated your credit cards, you may want to reassess your homebuying budget. That way, you can hone your house search and explore residences that fall within your up-to-date price range.

Of course, if you have yet to get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can still do so. Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available. This will enable you to gain the insights you need to select a mortgage that matches your finances.

3. Learn About the Housing Market

The housing market may favor buyers or sellers. And if you have been searching for your dream home for several weeks or months, the market may have changed.

It does not take long for a buyer’s market to become a seller’s market, or vice-versa. As you consider your homebuying options, you should study the local real estate sector closely to determine whether the current housing market favors buyers or sellers.

Evaluating the prices of recently sold houses in a particular city or town usually is a good idea. This housing market data will enable you to find out whether sellers are receiving offers at or near their initial home asking prices.

You also should find out how long current residences in a particular city or town have been listed. If houses linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time, you may be operating in a market that favors buyers. Or, if homes are selling quickly, you may be operating in a seller’s market.

Lastly, hiring a real estate agent often is helpful, particularly for homebuyers who are struggling to identify the perfect residence. A real estate agent can offer lots of tips as you conduct your search for your dream residence. Plus, if you need to revamp your homebuying strategy, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to do just that.

House Inspections: Here’s What Buyers Need to Know

A home inspection is one of the final stages of the property buying journey. If an inspection goes according to plan, a buyer may be able to seamlessly close on his or her dream residence. On the other hand, if problems are discovered during a house inspection, these issues may slow down or stop a home sale.

For property buyers, it helps to plan ahead for a home inspection as much as possible. Thankfully, we’re here to help you do just that.

Now, let’s take a look at three things that every buyer needs to know about home inspections.

1. A home inspection typically is performed after a seller accepts a buyer’s offer to purchase.

With a home inspection, a buyer can review a house with a property expert and identify any underlying problems. If a buyer finds problems during an inspection, this individual can rescind his or her offer to purchase, modify the offer or move forward with a home purchase.

It typically helps to hire a highly qualified and experienced home inspector. By having a skilled home inspector at your side, you can gain the insights you need to determine whether a house is right for you.

2. A buyer is not required to go to a home inspection, but it generally is a good idea to attend.

Usually, a buyer, his or her real estate agent and a home inspector will walk through a house together during an inspection. It also is important to note that a buyer is not required to go to an inspection, but in most cases, it is a good idea for a buyer to attend.

A buyer who attends a home inspection may be able to receive home insights that he or she won’t necessarily find in a house inspection report. As such, this buyer can obtain the house insights that he or she needs to make an informed homebuying decision.

3. A home inspection may require several hours to complete.

There is no time limit for a house inspection, but an average home inspection takes several hours to complete. After the inspection is finished, a property inspector will prepare a report that details his or her findings and provide it to a buyer within a few days. Then, a buyer will need to review the report and determine how to proceed.

As a buyer gets ready to enter the housing market, and eventually, perform a home inspection, it helps to hire a friendly, knowledgeable real estate agent. This housing market professional can help a buyer find the right home, submit a competitive offer to purchase and conduct an in-depth home inspection. And after a buyer completes a successful home inspection, a real estate agent will help this individual navigate the final stages of the property buying journey.

Simplify the homebuying process – employ a real estate agent, and you can get the help you need to locate and purchase your ideal residence.