Karen Lawley's Blog
You recently moved to a new house so, good for you! You upgraded to a larger living space. The kids each have a room, and the house has a living room and a den along with a kitchen nook and a formal dining room, office and plenty of bathrooms. You're all set to start your new life of entertaining, playing and enjoying your new home. There's just one thing, you have all this new space, and now you have to clean it. Tackling housekeeping with a large house can be daunting and exhausting if you can afford a cleaning service, excellent! Do it. If not, here are some tips to making housekeeping manageable in your new home.
Little by little. Not all at once.
You might be tempted to set aside one day a week, or every other week for cleaning. Don't make the novice mistake of believing you can quickly knock out all rooms and get your house in tip-top shape all in one day. You might pull it off the first couple times, but it's exhausting and can easily lead to burning out and not cleaning at all, ever. You don't want that. Instead, inventory the rooms in your home and the chores you need to tackle to keep your home looking pristine. Then, create a schedule with a couple of tasks assigned to each day. Depending on your home size, you can create a weekly schedule or bi-weekly plan. In your planning don't forget to give yourself a day or two off each week that can be hassle and chore free.
Room by room, or task by task? Tackle your housekeeping in the best way that works for you. If you function better and get a better sense of satisfaction from completing an entire room, then schedule a room or two each day and stick to just that room. It might work better for you to plan a specific task and apply it to the house as a whole. Start with dusting all rooms, then sweeping all floors, then vacuuming or mopping. Have one day for laundry or do a load every other day to stay on top of the dirty clothes. Whatever your preference, find a way to split up the work over a week or two weeks to keep yourself from burn out.
Hold your family members accountable.
Employ your family to help you maintain your home. Put each child in charge of keeping their own spaces clean. If they share a bathroom have them take turns cleaning it each week or have them clean together. Assign daily dish duty and laundry folding to stay on top of constant cleaning needs. Ask your partner for help in maintaining the home. Maybe they sweep, and you mop or they pick up the daily clutter and run loads of laundry while you tackle the cleaning projects.
Moving into your new house should be exciting and exhilarating. Don't let the task of maintaining your new home negatively impact enjoying your new life. If you're in very early stages of your home search talk with your real estate agent about your living space needs and about your lifestyle and available time to find the best house to suit your family without bogging, you down with housekeeping.
When you own a condominium, even if you’re entrance is street level, you're not really in charge of the common area or the building's exterior. All the entries look alike, and some even enter from hallways. So, how do you differentiate your home from the four or five others that are for sale in your complex?
Try these simple steps to give your place the edge:
- Mind the door. While you may not be able to paint your condominium door a bright, trendy color, you can take a few moments to make sure it is clean and free from scuffs and finger marks. Use a whisk broom to brush off all dust, debris, and detritus that collects in the grooves and trim. If the door is wood, use a mild solution of a wood-safe soap to wash down the door, inside and out. Then, shine the door up with furniture polish so that it glows. If the door is metal or painted, use a gentle mixture of dish soap and water to remove grease and grime.
- Make it shine. Clean any glass in the door or sidelights with a vinegar and water solution or an appropriate glass cleaner. Use a metal cleaner on the door handle, deadbolts, and any metal trim, including the trim around the peephole, and shine up the fisheye lens too.
- Don’t forget the threshold. With a clean door, you’re already ahead of the game, but take a moment to sweep off the threshold (the wood or metal strip below the door), and all around the edges of the stoop or entry. Even when your doorway is in an interior hallway, the regular building cleaners may not get that extra dust and leftover dirt in the corners. Use your vacuum cleaner to suck away the last crumbs.
- Be welcoming. Set a fresh new welcome mat in front of your door and add a flower pot of bright blooms if you’re allowed. For interior doors, a tasteful wreath or swag on the door highlights your entry. Be careful to avoid going “over-the-top” though. Simple and elegant is best.
- Clear the entry. Your real control of the "appeal" starts once the door opens. Keep the entryway as open and uncluttered as possible. Move furniture away from the entry area to give it a more expansive feel. Keep décor simple, warm, and inviting. Avoid anything the potential buyer might bump into upon entering as that tends to leave the impression of small and crowded.
- Lighten things up. Put the best possible light on the subject. Take time to upgrade the bulbs in your entry lights (inside and out) to “daylight” LEDs for a friendly, well-lit glow.
A warm, inviting entrance sets the tone for the rest of the home, so give yours the edge it deserves.
We all know that buying a home is a significant decision that comes with a great deal of financial planning and preparation. However, few of us are taught the ins and outs of actually obtaining a mortgage to make your dream of homeownership come true.
Mortgages are a complicated business that is always changing, both with fluctuations in market rates and with policy decisions.
But, if you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, it’s important to understand all of your options when it comes to mortgages.
In today’s post, we’re going to address the 20% down payment myth, where that number comes from, and what your options are when it comes to applying for a mortgage.
Where does the 20% down payment number come from?
For most people, 20% of a house is a serious amount of money that would take years to save up. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and don’t have any equity to use from selling another house, 20% may seem like an impossible amount to save within the time you want to buy a home. Fortunately, there are several ways to buy a home without having 20% in cash saved up.
But first, let’s understand where that number comes from.
Most mortgage lenders will want to ensure that lending to you is a safe investment of their money. They want to know that they’ll earn back what they’re spending. To do this, they use several methods.
First, they’ll check your credit history to see how often you pay your bills in time. Then, they’ll want proof if your income and financial stability. Finally, they’ll ask for either a down payment or a guarantee that you will pay them back. Here’s where that 20% comes in.
If you don’t have 20% of the mortgage amount saved for a down payment, you will typically have to pay something called private mortgage insurance. This is an extra monthly fee, on top of your mortgage payments with interest, that you pay to ensure the lender that they’re seeing a return on their investment.
Most homeowners put much less than 20% down
If you’re feeling bad about the amount of money you have saved for a down payment, don’t be! In fact, most first-time homebuyers put, on average, just 6% down on their first home.
Since first-time homeowners don’t have the benefit of equity they’ve accumulated by making payments on their previous mortgage, they often have to come up with down payments out of pocket.
Other options besides a 20% down payment
There are several ways to secure a mortgage without putting 20% down on the home. First, check to see if you are eligible for any loans that are guaranteed by the government. These can come from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the USDA single-family home program.
The third option is to take on private mortgage insurance until you’ve paid 20% of your mortgage payment.
Private mortgage insurance can be paid to an insurance company or to the federal government in the case of FHA loans, you can put down as low as 3.5%.
Between these three options, you should be able to find a mortgage that you can afford and one that will give you the best possible financial stability in the long-term.
A successful home selling journey allows a property seller to quickly and effortlessly generate interest in his or her residence and finalize a house sale. For those who want to enjoy a successful home selling journey, it is vital to prepare as much as possible.
Completing a successful home selling journey may prove to be difficult. If you fail to plan ahead, you may encounter problems that slow down or stop the home selling cycle. Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do to put yourself in the best position to succeed when you sell your home.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you achieve your desired results when you sell your house.
1. Upgrade Your Home's Curb Appeal
Your home may only get a single chance to make a positive first impression on a buyer. However, if you devote time and energy to upgrade your house's curb appeal, you can boost the likelihood that your residence will hit the mark with prospective buyers.
Mow the lawn, trim the hedges and perform other lawn improvement tasks to differentiate your house from the competition. Also, you should repair or replace any damaged home siding.
2. Establish an Aggressive Initial Asking Price for Your Home
How you price your home may dictate your house selling journey. If you establish an aggressive initial asking price for your residence, you may find that buyers are drawn to your house as soon as it becomes available.
Oftentimes, it helps to conduct an appraisal prior to listing a house. A home appraisal enables you to receive a property valuation that may help you determine how to price your house.
You may want to perform a home inspection as well. With an inspection report in hand, you can prioritize home repairs and upgrades and ensure your house stands out to buyers.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
If you want expert support as you navigate the home selling journey, you should hire a real estate agent. In fact, a real estate agent goes above and beyond the call of duty to guarantee house sellers can achieve their desired results.
A real estate agent will help you add your home to the local real estate market, share information about your house with buyers and much more. Furthermore, if you receive an offer to purchase your home, a real estate agent will help you analyze this proposal from all angles. And if you decide to accept an offer to purchase your residence, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to finalize your home sale.
In addition, a real estate agent is ready to respond to your house selling concerns and questions. He or she will provide you with comprehensive guidance throughout the home selling journey, and by doing so, help you enjoy a successful house selling experience.
Ready to list your home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the house selling journey.
You’ve been a renter for a long time because you knew you had wanderlust and might pick up and move at the end of your lease. Now you've stayed in the same place for a couple of years. You've put down roots and built relationships. You have a sense of community. But are you ready to buy?
Buying a home feels like a big commitment, and it is, so it should! You may not be choosing your forever home just yet, but no matter if it's a starter home or the one you want to raise a family in, buying a home locks you into the community, to a mortgage payment, and to the structure.
Learn all you can
When you rent, you only have your rent and a few utilities to factor into your budget. With a home, you'll have your principle and interest on your mortgage. You'll also have property taxes and insurance. And, depending on your underwriting situation, you may have PMI (private mortgage insurance), too!
Practice making payments
Use one of the many online mortgage calculators to determine your potential principal and interest. Then, check out the county taxes for where you want to buy—some online calculators even have a place to enter this as well as PMI. Add in an average insurance premium for your area. Now that you more closely have an idea of what your monthly payments will be. If it is higher than your current rent, start setting aside the difference now. You need to know that you can make the payment before you get into the house.
Factor in maintenance
The area buyers are most surprised about is the cost of maintenance. The A/C goes down, oops $4000. The roof leaks, that’s another $2500. Plumbing backs up and ruins the carpet? Now you have to pay for both plumbing and flooring. Insisting on a home warranty (that the seller provides) and mitigate some of these costs in the early years, but ongoing they are all yours, baby!
You may be planning to do your own and will have the one-time expense of equipment, but if not, you'll need to add in extra for regular landscaping. If you have a pool, you have to figure extra for pool care.
Since you won’t have a landlord to call, you’ll need to factor in pest control for bugs and rodents.
Ownership is a beautiful thing, but being prepared is more beautiful. Ask your real estate agent about classes or seminars on home ownership that you can participate in to adequately prepare.