What To Know Before You Install A Fence

Building a fence on your property can be a great way to secure privacy, add curb appeal, or give your kids and dog a great way to play safely. There are a few things that you should know about building a fence before you take the project on. You need to be sure that everything is in place so that the project will go smoothly. 

Know What You Want

If you know the purpose of the fence, you’ll need to decide on the type of fence that will best serve what you’re looking to achieve. If you live in an area governed by an HOA for example, you may need to get clearance just to start the project. The Association may have rules and regulations as to what type of fence they’ll allow you to put up. Many variables should be answered before you leap into the project of building a fence. 

Decide On The Materials The Fence Will Be Made From

Once you know the type of fence you need, you’ll choose what that fence will be made of. If you get a wood fence, that may require a bit more maintenance than other types of fences. Materials you can choose from include:

Chain link

Vinyl

Wrought iron

Aluminum 

There are many advantages and disadvantages to these materials so do your research and discover which one will be best for you. You can even mix and match fencing materials. You may be able to use one type of fencing material in the front of your home and another kind of fencing in the back. You can get as creative as you need to be.       

Use Natural Borders

If fencing isn’t your thing, you can create borders around your property using natural barriers like shrubs, bushes, or trees. Using natural barriers is a surefire way to add curb appeal and gain some privacy as well.

Research Fencing Types

As with anything in your home, a little research can go a long way. You want to take the time to see what the best kind of fence is for you to put up. Another thing to do before you put up a fence is to talk with your neighbors. You don’t want to start a big project that will be right on their property line and get them upset with you. Depending on the nature of your neighborhood, you may even need a written agreement with your neighbors before you build a fence.     

Small Upgrades That Make A Big Difference For Seniors

While there are plenty of weekend projects to take on that would be more satisfying to complete than “age-proofing” your home taking the time to make these upgrades will make your home more accessible. Both to older family members visiting and even for your future self. These small changes will make a big difference and you might just find them helpful for your life now!   

Replace doorknobs with handles. It’s easy to take what, to us, feels like the simplest of actions for granted. The twisting action of a doorknob can be difficult and even painful for arthritic hands. This is a quick project and one that can add a fresh new look to the doors in your home. IF you’re looking to switch things up or modernize your home opt for a different, more modern finish for your hardware. Bronze and satin finishes are very popular choices.   

Turn a first-floor office into a guest bedroom. And move the office upstairs. Stairs can be an issue for those with limited mobility. Be proactive now by establishing a first-floor bedroom that can be easily accessed by older guests staying the night and by you down the line. Having a bedroom on the first floor can save you the cost of installing a chair lift down the line if stairs become a serious obstacle.

Install a hand held shower head. This is a shower feature that really is useful for the whole household, even the dog. But choosing a model with a sliding tube and optional side mount for the handle makes for an easier experience for those with limited mobility. It allows the ability for the shower head to be reached when sitting and also to be placed within arm’s reach without having to stretch overhead.

Railings along stairs, ideally on both sides. When mobility and balance are an issue stairs can become dangerous. If your staircases don’t already have railings installed this is an ideal feature to add. Make note of the dimensions of each of your sets of stairs and research what sort of style would best fit that area of your home. This is a project that adds an element that is seamless to a home and doesn’t stand out. In fact, you may find guests of all ages will appreciate this addition.    

Less furniture in each room. Keeping less furniture in a room makes it easier to navigate a room and ideally fit mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers. It also can bring new life to a room as well as make it feel more open and spacious. Keep only the most necessary elements to a room and take out shelves or bulky furniture designed to hold and/or hide knick-knacks. Make each element in the room really count. You’ll have a much more chic, magazine-esque room on your hands when you’re finished.

Choosing the Right Home For Your Family is a Process

When you decide to make an offer on a home, your mind may be flooded with dozens of questions and concerns — several of which may involve money matters, while others are about the condition of the house.

However, if you’ve had the house professionally inspected and made sure your income is sufficient to absorb monthly expenses, than you’ve already taken steps to prevent or at least minimize future challenges.

Since buying a home is such a big investment and there are so many emotional factors that could influence your decision, it’s essential to stay focused, adhere to a budget, and be aware of what you need in order to be satisfied with your purchase.

The Financial Side of Things: Even though a mortgage broker or loan officer may approve you for a large mortgage, only you can determine whether you’d be comfortable making those monthly payments. In  addition to the cost of your mortgage, property taxes, and school taxes, there are also other expenses to consider and include in the equation. If you’re moving into a larger house, for example, the cost of heating and/or cooling your home may be higher than you’re used to. Poorly insulated houses can also have a negative impact on home energy costs.

Another key factor to think about when you’re figuring out the affordability of a potential new home is property maintenance, the cost of HVAC service, and miscellaneous expenses, such as appliance repairs, plumbing leaks, and electrical services. Some neighborhoods, residential developments, and condos also require a monthly Homeowner Association (HOA) fee, which can potentially put a burden on your cash flow situation. A good rule of thumb, of course, is to avoid spending beyond your means. While nobody would dispute the logic of that advice, it’s often a lot easier said than done — especially on an ongoing, consistent basis.

Non-Financial Priorities: The only way to know what you truly want and need in a new home is to clarify your goals, requirements, and wishes. Making lists, discussing it with your partner, and visiting lots of homes for sale will help give you the ideas, the inspiration, and helpful points of comparison you need. Online real estate listings and home improvement websites can also provide a wealth of practical ideas.

In addition to having enough bedrooms and bathrooms to meet your family’s needs, it’s also important to feel comfortable with the quality of the school district, the amount of noise in the neighborhood, and the traffic level on nearby streets. Proximity to recreation, shopping, and other amenities can also make the difference between your ideal home and one which doesn’t quite make the grade. Privacy (or the lack, thereof) is also a major issue which can impact your satisfaction with a real estate purchase. While it’s good to approach home buying with a sense of optimism, the best time to weigh all the pros and cons is before you sign the final papers at the closing table!

Should You Hire A Pro To Do Your Home Staging?

To sell your home, one of the essential things for you is to stage your home. While the price of your home is often dictated by the market and your own surroundings, the people who are going to buy your home ultimately need to have some attraction to it.

The question is- can you stage your home yourself, or do you need to leave the home staging to the professionals? Either way, you may need to spend a little bit of cash in order for the home staging to actually work well. 

Declutter

The first step in the home staging process is for you to declutter the home. Get rid of anything that’s taking up space, or making the home appear “junked up.” No one can picture themselves living in a cluttered home. 

Hire A Maid

If you’re doing the home staging yourself, one of the most important aspects of getting your home ready is making it clean. A maid service can provide that deep clean that you may not have time to do yourself. This service is definitely worth the investment to make your home presentable to potential buyers.

Professional Home Staging Is Pricey


Professional home staging can cost quite a bit, (we’re talking thousands of dollars.) You can do a lot yourself to stage your home. You don’t need to spend top dollar in order to have your home staged appropriately. Just know that homes that are staged correctly (whether professionally or by you) sell for more.

Staging Gives Buyers Vision

It may be hard for buyers to envision a room any other way than how you currently have it set up. People may not be able to picture a chair in the corner or a bed in a different position. You can play around with the furniture in your home to make the rooms look best. 

Add Some Paint

One of the easiest things that you can do to stage your home is to paint it. Even if you simply put a fresh coat on the doors, it can really add some appeal to the home. If you have the time, you should paint the rest of the home’s interior as well. Buyers are most attracted to neutral colors. If you have any rooms that are oddly colored, or looking rough due to age, some paint can really bring life into the home.  

Make Each Room Inviting

When potential buyers walk through the home, you don’t want them to simply skim the house without checking out each individual room. See what draws you into the room, whether it be lighting, a fireplace, or an ornament on the door. Any of these small touches can make a big difference when you stage your home.

Don’t Let Your Guard Down With Home Security

If you live in what’s considered a “safe neighborhood”, it’s all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of complacency. Although the crime rate in your part of town may be low, the chances of living in an area that’s totally crime free are very small.

Burglars and other would-be criminals are often opportunistic, so it pays to take precautions and avoid being an “easy target.” Here are a few home security tips that can help protect your property, your family, and your valuables.

  • Make it a habit to lock your doors at night and every time you leave the house for even a short period of time. If you’re behind schedule and in a rush, stop and take one more minute to do a quick security check and — while you’re at it — make sure hot appliances, such as stoves, ovens, and irons, are turned off.
  • Even in the best of neighborhoods, bicycles that are left out in your driveway or front yard can and often do get stolen in seconds. When a bicycle gets stolen from your property, it can be a painful and expensive lesson. Fortunately, those types of losses can be avoided by having your family get in the habit of concealing bicycles in secure locations (like a garage or shed) or padlocking them to a stationary object, such as a tree or well-anchored fence post.
  • Leaving a house key in your mailbox, under a welcome mat, or in a flower pot may seem like a good idea at the time, but those hiding places can easily be discovered by the wrong people.
  • Allowing mail or newspapers to pile up while you’re away for the weekend or on vacation is a tip-off to burglars that no one is home. Having a checklist that reminds you to suspend mail and newspaper delivery while you’re away can help you avoid that risk. If you plan on being gone for the weekend, a trusted neighbor or friend can often be depended on to gather deliveries that might otherwise advertise your absence.
  • Teaching your kids home safety and security measures at an early age is another vital component of crime prevention. They should be taught and reminded what to say and do if a stranger either asks for personal information over the phone or asks if they can come into the house. It’s important for kids to know that they can and should be assertive with adults when protecting themselves and their home.

When it comes to home security, your four most important strategies are awareness, taking preventative measures, educating yourself and your family, and being consistent. Sometimes the best approach to keep in mind and tell your children is to follow the anti-drug advice of former First Lady Nancy Reagan: “Just say no!” There are plenty of instances when no further explanation is required.
 

Increase Your Credit Score to Decrease Your Mortgage Rate

Everyone knows that their credit score will affect the mortgage they qualify for and the interest rate they receive. The details of how exactly those numbers are arrived at, however, are a bit hazy for the average prospective homeowner.

This confusion is due to a number of reasons. Chief among them is the fact that your average person isn’t well-versed in credit terminology or the variables that go into determining their credit scores.

In this article, I’m going to break down credit scores and credit bureaus, then discuss how each of them affects the mortgage rate you could receive. Then, we’ll talk about some ways you can boost your score to qualify for a better rate.

Anatomy of a credit score

Credit scores are determined by five main variables. In order of importance, they are:

  • 35%: your payment history on loans, bills, credit cards, etc.

  • 30%: your total debt amount for all of your accounts

  • 15%: length of your credit history (how long you’ve had open accounts for loans, credit cards, etc.)

  • 10%: types of credit you have used (auto loan, student loan, credit card… diversity of loans matters)

  • 10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)

To have a “good” (over 700) or “excellent” (over 750) credit score, you’ll need to focus on each of these factors. For most people, paying their bills on time over a long enough timeline is enough to get them into the excellent range.

But things happen in life. People forget to pay an important bill, they have financial emergencies, or they have to take out a loan for an unforeseeable expense.

The credit bureaus

So, who are the people that determine your credit score?

There are three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Lenders will look at reports from all three bureaus to determine your rate. Due to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, consumers are able to receive a free copy of their credit report from each bureau once per year.

Since then, companies like Credit Karma have made credit reports even more accessible. Users are able to check in on their credit as often as they want free of charge.

Since much of your credit score is out of your hands, at least in the short-term, what can you do to help boost your score over the next few months to increase your chances of getting a good interest rate on your loan? Two things.

Credit and mortgages

So, just how much of an impact does your credit score have on your mortgage rate? Having an excellent score can give you a full percentage point lower on your monthly interest rate.

One percent doesn’t seem like much, but over the period of a 30-year loan that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars that you could have saved if you had a better credit score. As you can imagine, having an extra $2,000 per year can be quite helpful to a new homeowner.

So, what can you do to boost your score?

Make corrections

Since you have access to free credit reports be sure to go through your detailed report a few months before you plan to apply for a mortgage. Report any harmful errors to help you increase your score.

Don’t apply for new credit

The period from now until you apply for a mortgage is an important one. If you make new credit inquiries (i.e., open up new credit cards, take out new loans, etc.), your score will temporarily decrease. Wait until after you sign on your mortgage to take out other loans.

Luxe Must-Have Bathroom Trends You Need Right Now

The bathroom is a room of sanctuary in the home. It is the one room where, for the most part, you can find cherished, quiet time all to yourself. Even if it means locking the door to keep the kids out for the best two minutes of your day.

Which is probably why creating a spa-like bathroom is a top trend at the moment. The best part about this trend is that it doesn’t have to be obviously trendy. It’s about subtle, minimalistic details that are both functional and visually appealing.   

For those looking to invest in renovating their bathroom with a nod to both current and future styles to come here are six spa-like features that are fully functional and will transcend time.  

A European-style walk-in shower is the epitome of a spa-like bathroom right now. Open any magazine or click through any Pinterest board and you would think this is the only style of shower available.

Not only does a walk-in style open up the room adding dynamic space but it is also incredibly functional. Especially if you plan to age in place. The walk-in showers lack a ledge or lip is ideal for those with limited mobility. So whether it be from age or a wild new move at your dance class you won’t have to worry about tripping.

A popular addition to the walk-in shower is a shower bench. Typically, tiled to match the rest of the shower area it offers a space to relax and the option to slow down and enjoy your You time. Wooden shower benches are another popular option cropping up in the pages of editorial spreads everywhere. A shower bench is also another great feature to have for future planning and certainly more stylish than those plastic chairs.

Due to the style of a walk-in shower, many homeowners are skipping having the addition of a tub altogether. Many people have found that after investing in a luxurious deep soak tub they just don’t make the time to use it. However, those who do enjoy a good soak opt for a free-standing tub. This separation of shower and tub allows for the tub itself to take a spotlight and emphasize the luxurious nature of your bathroom.

Another old favorite being ushered out is the medicine cabinet. Instead, homeowners are installing a large mirror that is a work of art and statement piece. The most popular shape of the moment is the circle. You may find that your new home already comes with a builder-grade mirror that just needs some creative details to spruce it up. Add trim board in your color and finish of choice to give it a whole new lease on life.  

How to Maintain an Organized Bathroom

Hectic mornings can make for messy, disorganized bathrooms. Between the mad dash of getting the kids ready for school and ensuring you look presentable for the office who has time to put the toothpaste or hairspray back nevermind neatly so? If you’re dreaming of a clean, organized space to get ready for the day keep reading for some easy to implement tips. 

Begin your project with a clean slate by tossing out any outdated products or items you simply don’t use. Check how long to keep an item for by the image of an open container with a number followed by a capital m inside of it. This indicates how many months to keep a product for after opening. If you can’t even remember when you bought a product it’s safe to assume its time for a replacement.

Take a tip from the minimalists and keep only what you truly use. After all, the less you have the less you will have to dig through to find what you are looking for. Common culprits are hair products, spa-like bath products and piles of towels. If an item is really something you can’t let go of but don’t use often consider moving it to a nearby linen or storage closet.

Once you’ve decided what stays it’s time to put your items away. But before you start shoving everything back into drawers and cabinets take a few minutes to draw up a plan that gives each and every item a “home”. When everything has a dedicated space it belongs in it makes cleanup a breeze, especially on those hectic mornings.

Keep items off the countertops for an uncluttered magazine worthy countertop. Instead, place your families’ go-to items inside the medicine cabinet or top drawers. Try to keep everything in neat organized lines where you won’t have to reach behind products to get the one you are looking for. An orderly lineup prevents chaos and products spilling down each time you reach to the back.

Installing clever organizers for small spaces helps to make the most of tiny bathroom spaces. Think more shelves, lazy susans, drawer organizers and roll out trays to get more out of cabinet spaces. A heat tool corral keeps pesky hairdryers and irons neatly organized and at arms-length.

Maximize empty and therefore unused space throughout the room such as over the toilet by installing shelving. You may also consider adding more hooks if you need them to hang up towels and keep them off of the floor.

It may seem like there isn’t any time for keeping an orderly bathroom when you’re just trying to get out the door in the morning. However, with a thorough cleanout and thoughtful organization your bathroom could be even more tidy than you first imagined. It just takes a little time and creativity to make the most of your unique bathroom space. Happy organizing!