How To Finance Your Home Renovation – Renovating your home can be an exciting, yet stressful time. On the one hand, you are eager to make improvements to your living space and enjoy the end results. On the other hand, upgrades are costly and it can be tricky when it comes to deciding the right financing option for you. Check out the following financing options with some help from realtor.com to make the right decision for all your needs.
Pay with Cash: Using cash from a savings account or other nest egg is a great option to pay off renovation costs. What’s more, you won’t acquire additional debt! However, it may be best to get an estimate of renovation costs before counting your cash. Renovations can be expensive, and you may not want to deplete your whole savings. Alternatively, you may decide you want to save up your money for a few years before tackling your big renovation project.
Whip out the Credit Card: If you have a credit card with a very low interest rate, or even a 0% interest rate, you can pay for your renovation with that credit card. Be advised that this is a good idea only if you believe you can pay off your credit card debt before the interest rates shoot up, as they often will after a set amount of time.
Personal Loan: Taking out a personal loan is less chancy than a credit card, because interest rates are fixed and require less risk. However interest rates for personal loans tend to be higher than home equity loans, and are not tax deductible, so it is important to shop all your options before deciding on a particular loan.
Consider a Home Equity Loan: Home equity loans can be a good option for large- scale renovations because you can take out more money often for a lower interest rate, and the interest are sometimes even tax deductible. However the amount you borrow is based on collateral in your home, so the financial risk is a bit different than a personal loan, which requires no home equity.
At the end of the day, the right way to pay for your upgrade really depends on two things: the type of project you are focusing on and what is best for you and your family. You may want to meet with your financial adviser before make the most of your money and your renovation, so that you can enjoy the end result to the fullest.
Tax season is here! If you are a homeowner and want to take advantage of perks that come with it, check out these tips.
- You can deduct your home mortgage interest/points on your tax return if you (1) itemize deductions, and (2) the mortgage is a secured debt on your main home or second home. The loan may be a mortgage, second mortgage, line of credit or home equity loan.
- Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is deductible. Homeowners who make a down payment of less than 20% are usually paying some sort of Private Mortgage Insurance. If your mortgage was originated after Jan 1, 2007, and you have PMI, it can be a tax deduction.
- Real estate taxes are deductible. This includes state and local taxes based on the value of your property.
- Deductions are available for energy efficient improvements. These improvements include solar panels, certain hot water heaters, and energy-efficient windows, doors, roofs ect.
- Deductions can be made on home office improvements. This is only available if the office space is where the majority of your work is done. It is also only available if the space is used solely as an office.
- There are also deductions for medically necessary changes to your home. For example, handicap-accessible bathtubs or entry ramps.
- If you sold a home in the past year, you can claim selling costs. These costs include title insurance, advertising, and real estate broker fees.
I hope these tips were helpful! Please consult your tax professional on whether or not you qualify for or can take advantage of anything listed her or any other options floating out there.
How to Keep Your Granite Counters Clean
Granite countertops are a highly-coveted feature in a home that is a big plus with buyers. Who doesn’t love the look of a beautiful granite counter? The issue with granite as a hard surface is that it can be difficult to clean – you don’t want to damage the material or use harsh cleaners where you prepare your food, but you want to make sure your counters are clean and stay shiny.
Whether you got them for the first time or you’re looking for a great way to keep them in top shape, here are some tips to clean your granite countertops:
- Make sure they’re sealed. While granite is a hard surface, weak or unsealed granite can soak up water, oils, spills and stains, ruining the integrity of the material. Not sure if your counters are sealed? Simply leave a few drops of water on the surface and see if it’s soaked up after a few minutes.
- No harsh cleansers or abrasive sponges. Treatments like Windex, acidic cleaners like vinegar or anything with bleach or ammonia will weaken the seal on your granite counters, and make them dull. Instead, use a special granite cleaner or simply create a mixture of warm water and mild/gentle dish soap to wipe them down.
- Disinfect your cooking space. Who wants to cook where you’ve set raw meat or made a mess? Keep your granite counters safe and bacteria-free by diluting isopropyl alcohol with water and using it to clean your countertops.
With these tips, your granite counters will stay in top shape for a long time. Enjoy your beautiful and clean countertops!
Do you have granite counters? What do you do to keep them clean? If you have any other tips or tricks you think would help, feel free to share them with us in a comment below!
Pros and Cons of FSBO – Once you’ve deciding to sell your home, some choose to work with a real estate professional and some choose to sell “For Sale By Owner” or FSBO. Ultimately, you don’t have to sell your home using a real estate professional but there are definitely pros and cons of selling your home FSBO. Here are a few to help you decide the right path for you…
Pros of Selling a Home FSBO:
- Save Money – You won’t have to pay 2 real estate agents. Instead you will only be in charge of paying the agent of the buyer unless you work with the buyer directly.
- You Are In Control – You can control how your home is staged, marketed, when you show the home, etc.
- It’s Your Home – You know the home better than anyone. You can point out the amenities and items in the home like no one else.
Cons of Selling a Home FSBO:
- No Help – Without an agent, you are in charge of marketing, pricing, showing, staging, negotiating, finding a buyer, doing the paperwork, etc.
- Pricing – This is a touchy subject. Too high and you lose interest. Too low and you lose money. Real estate pros know the strategy and how to negotiate the best price for you and your home.
- Less Visibility – This is what real estate pros do. They have a marketing strategy for your home to get you the most exposure and to target the right buyers. Without the right marketing you have less visibility.
- Contracts – Real estate pros tell you what you need, what it means and handle the leg work for you. When you sell a home FSBO, you can get that info from a title company or an attorney but you will still most likely pay a fee for that information.
There are pros and cons to every situation. It won’t hurt to interview a real estate professional to get your questions answered and to see which route is best for you. It’s important that when you want to hire a real estate agent that it’s the right one. We recommend you interview a few to find the right one for you.
12 Winter Cleaning and Organizing Ideas
The cold weather is keeping you cooped up inside this winter, so why not make the best of it by cleaning and organizing your home. Sometimes half the battle is knowing where to even start. Here are 12 ideas to help you clean and organize your home this winter.
Make a Checklist
Making a checklist of everything you would like to complete will help give you an idea of where to start. It also will give you a feeling of accomplishment when you get it all done!
Divide and Conquer
Divide up the tasks between people in your family to help alleviate some of the time spent. If you’re feeling creative you can even come up with a game for the kids to go along with it.
Install a Storage System
If the majority of the items you have in storage are in boxes or bags, install a new system in your home. Buy some large plastic containers to neatly store your belongings. Then when you need them, you’ll know exactly where to look.
Begin A Monthly Cleaning Schedule
January is the best time to implement a monthly cleaning schedule. Decide what you want to clean, and when, and stick to it month by month. By the end of the year your house will be spotless.
Dust Light Bulbs
Dusting your light bulbs might not be something you do very often, so take the time to do it while you’re stuck inside. It will help brighten up every room.
Your kitchen is one if the main places where you accumulate things you don’t use. Go through your spice and food cabinets to determine what to keep and what to throw out. If you have non-perishables that you won’t use, consider donating them.
When we get busy, we tend to let papers, mail, etc. pile up in our homes. Take this time to declutter your spaces and it will make you feel loads better.
Wax Wooden Furniture
Whether or not your furniture is old, keep it looking new with an annual waxing and buffing.
Winterize Your Entryway
You’d be surprised how dirty your entryway can get in the winter, so consider adding some touches to help with the winter mess. Even something as simple as placing a rough mat outside for guests to wipe off their feet will help minimize the mess.
Go through the closets in your home and determine what you’d like to keep and what you’d like to get rid of. Come springtime, you’ll be thankful you won’t have to do it when the weather is nice out.
Clear Bathroom Clutter
Sometimes the clutter that gathers on your bathroom sink can be a bit much to handle. Invest in some bins or extra shelving units in your bathroom to get the clutter under control and keep a cleaner space.
Organize Your Budget
The winter is a great time to take a look at your overall budget. This will help you stay organized throughout the whole year.
To learn more about winter cleaning and organizing ideas, visit here.
Silver Spoon Christmas Ornament
Fun, easy and pretty!
What you will need:
-Metal primer spray paint
-Silver spray paint
-Hand held drill
-Drill bit (for metal)
Prime the spoon first before spray-painting the entire surface, front and back, with the silver spray paint. Using the craft glue place the decorative gems in any way you like, get creative! Last, drill a small hole in the handle of the spoon so that you can tie a ribbon to hang it on the tree.
Sparkling Christmas Banner
No need to spend the money on decorative banners!
What you will need:
-Chipboard letters with holes punched in the top that spell out Christmas
-1” artist brush
-Loose glitter (of your choice)
-Plastic container for glitter
-Spoon to apply glitter
Use the brush to generously apply glue to one letter at a time. Hold the wet letter over the container filled with the glitter and sprinkle the glitter all over with the spoon. After you have covered each letter completely set them on wax paper to dry. Once they are dry, string the letters together with the hemp wire, hang and enjoy!
Make a CD into an ornament
Repurpose old CDs into ornaments!
What you will need:
-CDs or DVDs
Start by drawing your pattern with your permanent marker on the back of the CD or DVD. Then use the scissors to cut out the shapes you drew. Cut up another CD or DVD into pieces of different shapes and sizes. Use the craft glue to place the pieces onto the one CD or DVD that you cut for your base. Cut the construction paper into a circle and glue that in the middle of the ornament you just created. Finally, add more sparkle with gems and hang on your tree!
Newspaper Christmas Tree
Cheap and easy!
What you will need:
Lay the newspaper down flat, tape the ends together, and roll the pages up diagonal tightly. Use tape to make sure the paper stays in a compact tube. Use the scissors to cut long lines down the tube to about half way. After you make the cuts pull each inner layer out, upside down, to turn it into a tree.
Dress up your walls, tree, banisters or mantels with felt poinsettias.
What you will need:
-Colored felt by the yard
-Thick craft paper
Draw a single leaf on the craft paper and cut it out to use as a stencil. Use the stencil to trace on the felt and cut out five leaves of felt for each poinsettia. Use the needle and thread to stitch together the five leaves to make the flower and then cover the stitch marks by hot gluing a button in the center. Add gems to the button and then hot glue the flowers to a long strip of felt. Once you have completed attaching the flowers to felt, hang in on the wall, string it on your tree, banister or mantel.
What you will need:
-Three bags of peppermints
-Bag of red hots
-Hot glue gun
-Round foam wreath
Unwrap each peppermint and begin using the hot glue gun to attach each piece to the foam wreath. If there is still some white space after you have used all the peppermints glue the red hots! Once you are finished hang it on the door with a large ribbon.
Mason Jar Candle Holders
Looks fancy, but is so easy!
What you will need:
-3 mason jars
-Pretty and festive ribbon
Simply fill the mason jars with the fake berries and spruce then place the votive candle in the center. After you have achieved the perfect look, tie a ribbon around the top of the mason jar.
Christmas decorations don’t have to be expensive! They can be cheap, pretty and most important fun!
Preparing Your Home For Holiday Hosting
Preparing Your Home For Holiday Hosting. Whether your home is listed for sale, or you are considering selling or you are expecting Holiday guests these ideas can help.
Preparing Your Home For Holiday Hosting. If your home is the site for this year’s family winter holidays, spreading out your to-do list and tackling a couple projects can give you more time to relax and enjoy your guests later.
How about these three tasks?
1. Declutter your house and garage then hold a yard sale.
You’ll raise some extra holiday cash, give a new home to furniture and household goods you no longer need and have your house looking great for the holidays.
Another option is to donate the items to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore and take the tax deduction.
2. Check your bed and bath linens.
If you need new items, you’ll have time to watch for a good sale before guests arrive.
Need a place to hold extra guest towels? Swap out your towel rack for this Moen 24-Inch towel bar with shelf
In a super-small bathroom, a shelf over the door can hold extra towels for guests.
3. Baby Proof
Are your children or other guests bringing little ones into your not-so-baby-proof home? There are lots of temporary safety devices to help keep toddlers safe so parents relax and enjoy their visit with you.
If you order childproofing items now, you'll have them on hand to install a few days before guests arrive. You can buy a childproofing kit or single items like cabinet latches, outlet plugs or door knob covers.
If you are looking to get your home sold we have many more ideas to share with you. Please call Deborah Laemmerhirt at 203-994-4297. Besides staging and showing plans we are GLOBAL PROPERTY SPECIALISTS. Your home is marketed locally, regionally, nationally and globally in 20+ languages. Don't you deserve the best service?
Selling your Home – Bad Tasting Ice Cubes – Refrigerator Problems?
Selling your Home – Bad Tasting Ice Cubes – Refrigerator Problems? Do you need to replace your refrigerator before selling or will one of these possibilities help address the issue?
Possible cause 1: Dirty water filtration system filter.
Refrigerator water filtration system filters should be replaced at least every six months.
Solution: Check your water filter. Depending on usage, you may need to replace yours. Your refrigerator owner’s manual will have instructions specific to your model.
Possible cause 2: Stale ice cubes.
If you’re not using a lot of ice, your ice may be sitting long enough to absorb odors from the food inside your freezer or refrigerator.
Food gases easily transfer to water and ice. Ice can pick up odors from spoiled food in your refrigerator’s interior compartment.
Solution: Use ice cubes more frequently. Eat or toss food before it spoils.
Possible cause 3: It’s your water.
Impurities, minerals, salt or sulfur in your water can transfer unfavorable tastes and odors to your ice.
Solution: Replace your water filtration system’s filter. Second, test your water for hardness with water test strips.
If you have hard water, you may need a water softening system. If you already have a water softener, it may be using too much salt. Consult your water softening system owner’s manual and adjust your settings accordingly.
Possible cause 4: Improperly sealed or unwrapped food inside of your freezer.
Fresh and old ice cubes absorb food gases.
Solution: Double wrap and bag products with weak packaging (this also helps prevent freezer burn).
Possible cause 5: Food spills or mildew growth inside your freezer or refrigerator compartments.
Solution: Clean up carefully.
Check your refrigerator owner’s manual for specific instructions related to cleaning and mold removal.
Want to go with a gentle homemade cleaner? Try a solution about one tablespoon of baking soda to 1 quart of water.
Don’t use cleansers with harsh chemicals such as bleach or ammonia. They can damage your refrigerator’s interior walls.
If you are looking to sell you NY or CT home in the near future and you are interested in learning how the condition will affect your sale price please give Deborah Laemmerhirt a call at 203-994-4297. We help with staging and your home's overall presentation. We specialize in local, regional, national and global marketing to get your home sold. Call 203-994-4297 to get your home sold.
10 Tips To Cut Energy Costs This Winter – Winter is on its way! It always seems to creep up on us faster than we would like. The days are getting shorter, colder and sometimes more expensive. However, they don’t have to be as expensive this year. There are a few things you can do this winter to cut your energy costs.
- Unplug everything
Don’t leave your electronics on standby or plugged in. You can not only cut your energy bill this winter, but all year round by doing this.
- Heat the rooms you use
Close off, or even seal, the vents in the rooms you do not use.
- Minimize the use of a few things
Try cutting down on the time you use things everyday such as hairdryers, kettles, and irons.
- Get a humidifier
Moist air feels warmer as well as holds heat better.
- Bundle up
Instead of increasing the temperature on your thermostat, increase your layers! Wear a sweater and some fuzzy socks while walking around the house. Also add an area rug to insulate the floor in your living room.
- Only use exhaust fans when absolutely necessary
Exhaust fans pull the heat out of your home making your heater work harder.
- Use your ceiling fans
Switch the fans to move clockwise and set them on a low setting to push the hot air back down.
- Use the sun to your advantage
Open the curtains during the day and close them at night to trap that free heat inside your home
- Lower the temperature on your water heater
For every 10-degree reduction you save 3-5 percent in energy costs.
- Keep your furnace clean
Change your furnace filter clean and free of blockages. Check it every month!
These few tips seem obvious, however, most people just never get around to doing them once the winter months arrive. Make sure to utilize these few tips so that you won’t regret it when the bills roll in. Read more about cutting your energy cost here. Do you have any energy saving tips? Comment to share with us!