Safety Tips for Doggy Doors
You’ve purchased a home with a large backyard and all your pup wants to do is be outside. But after the 10th time, you have to get up and open the door to let him or her in and out, you start researching doggy doors. Long-term convenience with a fairly simple installation sounds great to you! However, consider how it may affect the safety of your home.
A doggy door is a home feature that can make your house more susceptible to burglary. These doors are almost always placed in a back door or wall of the home, putting it out of the line of sight for passing traffic and neighbors. If a robber is small enough, they may be able to slip right through the door or use it to reach in and unlock the door. As long as you remain conscious and aware of the safety implications, there areseveral ways to secure your doggy door, keeping convenience in place while protecting you and your family. The first and easiest option is to select a door that includes a sliding bolt or has a selflocking feature. If you have a security system in place, you can have the design adjusted to include the doggy door and surrounding area. Many of these systems include sensors and cameras intelligent enough to ignore your pet’s body weight or shape, but pick up on anything else. Alternatively, you could install a motion detector that will signal you on your phone or report to your security company if someone is coming in and out of your home.
Regardless of the option you choose, make sure you take precautions to protect the safety of your family members, both human and furry.
UPSIZING YOUR HOME
Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.
Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.
WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?
The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.
If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.
WHAT TO DO WITH AN UNFINISHED BASEMENT
Although currently dimly lit and a little rough on the eyes, your unfinished basement still has a lot of potentials. With just a little love and the help of the following ideas, you can spice it up in no time and get some great use out of the space.
WHAT TO REPAIR BEFORE YOU LIST
When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top four recommended repairs to make before selling your home.
Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.
Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!
Refresh the landscaping.
Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.
Fix your fixtures.
Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment
WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
THE HAPPY MEDIUM
Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.
Your Guide to the Home Appraisal
You’ve found your dream home and now it’s time to cross all your T's and dot all your I's before it’s all your own. And one of the first items on your closing checklist the home appraisal. So, what exactly is that?
The home appraisal is essentially a value assessment of the home and property. It is conducted by a certified third party and is used to determine whether the home is priced appropriately.
During a home appraisal, the appraiser conducts a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. He or she factors in a variety of things, including the home’s floor plan functionality, condition, location, school district, fixtures, lot size, and more. An upward adjustment is generally made if the home has a deck, a view, or a large yard. The appraiser will also compare the home to several similar homes that were sold within the last six months in the area.
The final report must include a street map showing the property and the ones’ compared, photographs of the interior and exterior, an explanation on how the square footage was calculated, market sales data, public land records, and more.
After it is complete, the lender uses the information found to ensure that the property is worth the amount they are investing. This is a safe-guard for the lender as the home acts as collateral for the mortgage. If the buyer defaults on the mortgage and goes into foreclosure, the lender generally sells the home to recover the money borrowed.
TIPS FOR STORING WINE AT HOME
If you are a big wine connoisseur or just saving a few bottles to crack open on special occasions, it’s important to understand how best to store them safely until you’re ready to partake. Follow the guidelines below!
To ensure each wine bottle maintains the proper flavor and aroma, storing it at the correct temperature is essential. Regardless if it is red, white, or sparkling, storing your bottles at 53°F to 57°F is most ideal. Keeping your bottles in a room where the temperature is much warmer than that may cause the flavor to become flat. Keep your wine in the dark and away from direct UV rays as much as you can to protect the wine’s flavor.
Controlling the humidity in the room is important if you plan to store bottles for more than a couple of years. The ideal humidity for storage is between 50 to 75 percent and anything below that could cause the corks to dry out, letting air seep into the bottle.
Generally, it is advised to store wine bottles on their sides. This allows the wine to stay up against the cork which should aid in keeping it from drying out. However, if you don’t plan to store the wine for long or if the bottle has a screw top or plastic cork, this is not required for safe storage.
Not all wine is designed to have a long shelf life or be aged. Make sure you know what the winemaker’s intention was for that particular bottle. It is always better to open it a little early and enjoy it!
Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don't forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase then the price of the home. Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.
How You Can Finance Your Home Renovation
Outdated kitchen. Overrun backyard. Unusable basement space. If you have a home renovation project on the mind, the first thing you have to consider is how you are going to finance it. Here are the most common options to make your dreams become a reality.
Cash. Paying in cash is the most straightforward financing option, just save until you have enough money to cover the expenses. This will help eliminate spending outside your budget; however, it can also extend your timeline.
Mortgage Refinance. If you’ve been making payments on your home for a few years and your interest rate is higher than current market rates, you may be eligible for a mortgage refinance, reducing your payments and freeing up some money.
Cash-Out Refinance. You can tap into your home equity and borrow up to 80 percent of your home’s value to pay off your current mortgage plus take out more cash to cover the renovations. This option is encouraged only when you’re making improvements that will increase the value of your home, as it can add a lot of interest and fees.
Home Equity. Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.
Retirement Funds. Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments, but may be worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.