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Crystal Halley

Associate Broker

Crystal's Blog Corner

Three Percent Or 20 Percent - Which Is The Smarter Down Payment Strategy?

8/14/2017

The minimum down payment on an FHA loan is 3.5 percent, which makes it a popular choice among those who don't have the funds for a large down payment (and also those who don't meet the higher credit score requirements for other types of loans). And that's not even the lowest you can go. Loans like this one require only three percent down, and if you're a veteran or are buying a home in a rural area, you may be able to buy a home for nothing down. But should you go that low just because you can, or are you better off making a larger down payment? We're breaking it down.

The case for 20 percent

 

There are several advantages to putting down 20 percent when buying a home, like:

  • Since the bank will generally consider you a lower risk because you have "more skin in the game," you may be able to get a lower interest rate than you would with other types of loans—as long as you have the credit score to support it.
  • You'll have built-in equity as soon as you move in.
  • You can avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • It's that last part that drives a number of people to strive for that 20 percent down payment since PMI can add several hundred dollars to a new homeowner's monthly payment, and it can be hard to get rid of it. "If you can put 20% down and avoid PMI, that is ideal, said certified financial planner Sophia Bera on Business Insider.

The case for as little down as possible

The biggest roadblock to homeownership for many people is coming up with the down payment, so minimizing that expense sounds great, right? "The good news is a first-time buyer can purchase a home for a little as three percent down - and even no money down in some cases," said U.S. News.

But is that a smart move?

"The less you put down, the higher the mortgage insurance is," Casey Fleming, author of "The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage" and a mortgage professional in the San Francisco Bay Area, told them. "With five percent down, the mortgage insurance is quite high."

Yep, there's that pesky PMI again, which, for many first-time buyers, pushes their monthly payment to a level they're not comfortable with. Another bummer about PMI: "If you need to pay PMI, the size loan you can get will be slightly smaller, to allow for the bigger payment," they said.

You may also have trouble qualifying for a loan even if you have a high enough credit score because you don't have enough cash reserves; if you are using all your savings for the down payment and the lender questions where the funds for your closing costs, taxes and insurance, and any needed repairs are coming from, you could have a problem.

But, on the flip side, a smaller down payment will up your rate of return, said The Mortgage Reports. "Consider a home which appreciates at the national average of near five percent. Today, your home is worth $400,000. In a year, it's worth $420,000.

Irrespective of your down payment, the home is worth twenty-thousand dollars more. That down payment affected your rate of return. With 20 percent down on the home - $80,000 - your rate of return is 25 percent. With three percent down on the home - $12,000 - your rate of return is 167 percent."

Even when you add in the PMI and a higher interest rate, the equation comes out in favor of the lower down payment. "With three percent down, and making adjustments for rate and PMI, the rate of return on a low-down-payment loan is still 106 percent - much higher than if you made a large down payment. The less you put down, then, the larger your potential return on investment."

The case for somewhere in between

Finding that balance between down payment and savings is a challenge for many homebuyers, and the sweet spot will be different for everyone depending on their unique circumstances and financial situation. Most financial experts will say that saving and scrounging to get together 20 percent at the risk of depleted savings and zero emergency funds is a shaky strategy, at best.

"If putting 20 percent down means that you use all of your savings, then don't do it! I would much rather see people put five percent down, wipe out all their other debt with cash, and still have three months of emergency savings versus putting 20 percent down on a house," said Bera.

Especially when you consider all the added costs you may be facing once you buy: "yard work, home repairs, renovation costs, property taxes, insurance, etc. It's important to consider all of the costs and not just compare the monthly mortgage payment to your current rent amount," she said.

Another thing to consider when evaluating how much you should put down is what would happen if you had an emergency. It's easy to lose sight of real-life issues that can arise when you are so driven to buy a home and focused on saving the money to get there.

"A financial event can leave you wishing you had access to the money without selling," said The Mortgage Reports. "Say you lose a job for three months. An extra $20,000 would be a nice safety cushion. And, if you lose your source of income, you can't take home equity out via a cash-out refinance or home equity line of credit (HELOC). Lenders won't approve a new loan to someone between jobs. In short, the more you need to get at the money, the less access you have to it."

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- written by JAYMI NACIRI

 

Introducing Your New Color Obsession

8/14/2017

                           

   

 

Is it gray? Blue? Green? It's all of them wrapped up in your new color obsession, and it's going to have you running to Home Depot for a can (or 10!) in 3…2…1. Behr's first-ever Color of the Year, dubbed "In the Moment," isn't just a great option for refreshing your interior or exterior, it's also an invitation to bring a little calm to your place.

"In the Moment" is a "restorative blue-green hue meant to soothe and relax," said Architectural Digest. Intended as an antidote to the stresses of being "plugged in 24/7," said Erika Woelfel, Vice President of Color and Creative Services at Behr, in announcing the color, "In the Moment" allows you to do just that: "Be aware of the moment that you're in. That's why we love the name of this color."

House Beautiful describes the color as, "spruce blue, soft gray and lush green (that) coalesce to evoke a sense of sanctuary and relaxation." Key to what will surely be its widespread appeal is its versatility. The color "crosses multiple design styles, ideal for working with traditional, modern, coastal and global de´cor," said Behr. And, said Woelfel, it "pairs well with other subdued colors to create harmony for interiors or exteriors."

To that end, Behr provided a "palette of 20 trend colors for 2018" to help with pairing, alongside the announcement of the Color of the Year. All colors are available exclusively at The Home Depot.

"This ‘neutral blue,' as Woelfel describes it, takes on a very different tone depending on the colors with which you pair it. When used as a bright pop in a mostly dark room, it feels calm and formal," said House Beautiful. However, when paired with white and light natural wood, the color comes off as energetic and vibrant, which makes for a welcoming statement on the exterior of a home."

In this dining room, the color reads blue and green and gray, changing with the light and complementing the mid-century modern décor.

                                                                                  Lonny.com

Against the creamy white of the countertops in a kitchen and with the light streaming through the window and French door, the hue goes green.

Ditto for a front door frame, which looks amazing against luscious stone accents.

A subtle pop of color that brings in depth while introducing an overall sense of calm is a perfect choice for a window seat.

Have an ocean (or at least a pool) outside? You'll love how the water affects the wall color, bringing in more of a sea-blue effect.

That's it. We've found the perfect exterior color. We especially love how it deepens against the white trim.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES-written by JAYMI NACIRI

 

 

Personalize Your Entryway With These 8 Budget-Friendly Ideas

8/11/2017

It's always tricky to prioritize decorating dollars, and I tend to funnel most of mine to interior improvements: furniture, fabric, tchotchkes. But lately I've been thinking that the outside of the house - and especially my front entry - deserves its share of the love. The entry may be the first impression of a home, and my entry is best described as mousy.

Fortunately, jazzing up a front entrance doesn't have to cost a fortune. Try these eight strategies to create a showstopper entryway without blowing your budget.

1. Create a mini room. Here a bench with cheery outdoor pillows, a hanging paper lantern and a framed chalkboard combine to turn a plain entrance into a sitting space all its own - all without breaking the bank. Mix and match furniture to suit your home's architecture and style.

2. Spell out a welcome. A stencil, a can of spray paint and presto! A plain concrete stoop turns into a hospitable howdy. If you can't or don't want to paint directly on the surface, try stenciling a plain cotton or sisal doormat instead.

3. Invest in showstopping hardware. Swap out bland doorknobs and knockers for instant pizzazz on the cheap. You can search flea markets and architectural salvage stores for one-of-a-kind vintage models, but even home centers carry eye-catching styles these days. Choose a knocker that offers a glimpse into your personality and interior style, whether it's an equestrian motif for horse lovers or a nautical theme for a house on the coast.

4. Pile up plantings. Plants are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to give your entrance a polished look, and they can enhance any effect you're going for. Mass tumbles of old-fashioned blooms in weathered tin or tole tubs for a cottage; stick with variegated greens and sleek containers in a modern setting. For a traditional house, create a symmetrical grouping of palms, ficus or roses in ceramic or terra-cotta planters.

5. Light the way. Why settle for a boring outdoor light fixture when you can hang a piece of eye candy? Outdoor chandeliers are delightfully unexpected. If you want to use it for illumination, look for a model that's designed for outdoor use, but if you just want the decorative effect, you can mount an indoor fixture without wiring it.

6. Paint the door an unexpected color. It sounds obvious, and yet so many of us take the easy way out and go with brown, black or white. If the task of choosing a bolder hue throws you for a loop, try this trick: Snap a photo of your house, then take it to the paint store so you can see how different colors work with your exterior.

Choose a shade that contrasts strongly with the primary paint color: bright pink paired with pale gray siding, turquoise against rusty red brick, plum on khaki stucco. Lipstick red in a field of crisp white is a classic, but branch out and try other colors - perhaps kelly green or Chinese yellow.

7. Decorate the doorway surround. Set off your front door and give it greater presence by adding a decorative frame. If the architecture will accommodate such a treatment, line it with decorative tiles or a mosaic. If not, you can achieve a similar effect with paint.

8. Have fun with house numbers. Forget hardware-store numbers on the mailbox. Make yours pop: fun colors, funky fonts, creative placement. Just be sure that you don't sacrifice clear visibility and readability for the sake of visual interest.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES - BY LISA FREDERICK

 

It's A Dog's Life For Millennials: What's Really Driving Their Desire To Buy A House

8/8/2017

Is the millennial home-buying surge about finally "growing up" and giving up mom's home-cooked meals and laundry services? Is it about finally having student loans paid off and feeling secure enough to take on the financial burden? Perhaps it's really about getting ready to marry and have kids. Nope. Turns out none of these things could convince millennials to buy homes like their little furry friend could.

Yep, when it comes to millennial home ownership, these are the dog days.

"A third of millennial-aged Americans (ages 18 to 36) who purchased their first home (33%) say the desire to have a better space or yard for a dog influenced their decision to purchase their first home, according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage. "Dogs ranked among the top three motivators for first-time home purchasers and were cited by more millennials than marriage/upcoming marriage, 25 percent, or the birth/expected birth of a child, 19 percent."

There were only two factors that rated higher than dog ownership: 66 percent cited a desire for more living space, and 36 percent were interested in building equity through homeownership. Presumably, they want to do so with a pup by their side.

"Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home-buying decisions," said Dorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage President and CEO of the survey. "For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; home ownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation."

The survey also showed how strongly homebuyers that have not yet jumped into the market feel about this issue. Among millennials who have never purchased a home, "42 percent say that their dog - or the desire to have one - is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future, suggesting dogs will also influence purchase decisions of potential first-time homebuyers," they said.

Those statistics could have a real impact on multiple aspects of the real estate industry, from the way sellers stage their home; to the types of homes that builders and developers concentrate on in pockets where millennials may be looking; to pet-related homeowners' association bylaws that may be in need of review and revision. Most attached homes don't offer the kind of outdoor space millennials are looking for, but townhomes sometimes do, and they can be more affordable than single-family options. Some communities have breed and size restrictions and also cap the number of dogs you can have - important considerations if you happen to be one of those dog-crazy millennial home-buyer types or are an agent who's representing one.

Looking to sell your home and think you have a millennial target in your sights? Perhaps pointing out a good spot for a doggy door, if you don't already have one, and adding a picture of you and your dog (fake it if you need to!), a dog bed, and a basket with dog toys on the fireplace hearth before showings will help.

Pets before kids

Homeownership isn't the only thing millennials have delayed. Marriage and kids - if they're in the cards at all for millennials - are waiting. Pet ownership is not.

Millennials are in age brackets that are commonly associated with the idea of "settling down," said Pet Business. "But, rather than starting families with children, millennials are instead opting for buying or adopting pets to satisfy their caretaking needs." 

Pet ownership is up overall, led by millennials. The latest American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey shows that, "Sixty-eight percent of American households now own a pet, accounting for 84.6 million pet-owning households, up from 79.7 million pet-owning households in 2015," said Pet Food Industry. "Gen Y/Millennial pet ownership has officially surpassed baby boomer ownership by three percentage points to now account for 35 percent of all pet owners."

REALTY TIMES - BY JAYMI NACIRI

Home Buyer Regrets Are A Reality

8/4/2017

Home buyers have regrets about the home they purchase. That's the reality of home buying. There will be regrets. Hopefully, they'll be regrets you can learn to live happily with.

If you were to buy a pair of shoes or a car without more research than quickly hearing their statistics and then slipping into them for an amazingly-short tryout, do you think you'd have regrets about the shoes and the car you purchased?

  • When it comes to shoes, you try them on in the store and stomp around or, if ordered online, you stomp around at home. The shoes may be comfortable during this short artificial exploration, but when you spend a full day walking in them, your feet may experience regret.
  • Same is true for a car. After the initial, new car thrill, there may be things about the car that you wish you'd noticed or realized would be important to you before you bought it.
  • The lower the amount of research and thought that goes into buying decisions and the greater the emotional impulse that rules decisions, the more regret that results.

Why is anyone surprised at the outcome when very complex real estate purchases are approached in a way similar to shoe and car shopping? Real estate buyers can be left with "woulda, shoulda, coulda" regret. That's the buying experience. That's buyer beware.

One major difference in home buying is the support and expertise of real estate professionals who can reduce regret when buyers take advantage of this professional edge.

Here, we're concentrating on purchases where everything is completely fine with the house, townhome, condominium unit, or recreational property—legally and structurally. Even when all is well, buyers may have regrets about how a home functions for them and their family.

Buyers become owners once they move in and live in their new residence—an obvious fact, but a shift in perspective that many buyers seem to ignore. New owners will discover things about a home that they may not have realized during their "purchaser's viewing" many weeks or months before—especially in a cleverly-staged property:

  • New owners may decide their home feels too small, too large, too expensive, too far from work…too something that becomes obvious after living there a while. Sometimes there are acceptable solutions; sometimes there are very pleasant surprises; sometimes there are only regrets.
  • Alternatively, the home may lack something buyers assumed would be there or they had expected to be better. For instance, front hall or foyer closets are often overlooked during viewing. After move-in, all the family "stuff" that must go in that closet may not fit. The same can be true for functionality of the back entrance. In either case, sometimes adding storage or completing a small renovation solves the problem. Other times, buyers must live with regrets.

Examine several Buyer-regret surveys and you'll realize that home buyer reactions have not changed dramatically over time. Responses can vary with real estate and life experience and with economic conditions, but most are related to lack of knowledge and research.

Savvy buyers can consciously turn the potential for regret into "Buyer BE AWARE!"

  • When you've spent a few hundred dollars on shoes or several thousand on a car, regrets hurt and frustrate, but you'll bounce back on your next purchase. With each of many purchases, you learn more about what you are paying for and what works for you.
  • In real estate, the bounce back may be harder. The purchase usually involves hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many people only make three or four home changes in a lifetime. Since these moves may be decades apart, what buyers learn is forgotten or no longer relevant when the next purchase rolls around.

Don't get discouraged. Home buyers have many resources to call on to minimize the number of regrets regarding home functionality and to reduce the negative effect on daily living:

Consider a property for its functionality, not just its decor. Staging shifts the emphasis away from design flaws and on to superficial decor. Don't just stand in a room's doorway "oo-ing" at the yummy furnishings. Step in and try the room out. Before you start looking at properties, create a Key Functions Checklist (on paper or on your phone) of three to five key functions your family expects to carry out in each room or section of the home over the four seasons. Then, while viewing, physically or mentally walk through the details to check for fit. With a written checklist, this is simple to keep track of. Comparing properties based on functionality becomes easier.

Design flaws may not stop a purchase, but they may impact purchase price. When viewing a listing, concentrate on visualizing what it would be like to live there with your family and furniture. For each room, consider projecting your Key Functions Checklist a step further. Quickly assess the potential for affordable, practical solutions to shortcomings. After the viewing, sort out the details and decide which deficiencies matter and which can be overlooked. Call on contractors or interior designers for clever professional solutions for more involved issues. Create lists of what must be dealt with before you move in and then within the first year. If there is only one area of the home that falls short, lifestyle changes or minor remodelling may reduce the issues to manageable.

Location and "the immovable object". The one thing about a home that cannot be changed or "renovated" is its location. If you are considering an area further away from work, avoid assumptions about commute time. Drive the distance or take public transit a few times. Talk to commuters to learn the greatest inconveniences and other practical realities. Expect commute times to increase. Talk to real estate professionals with experience in your desired locations to learn about available transportation alternatives.

Invest time and effort in selecting the best real estate professional to help you achieve your regret-minimized home purchase. The transportation example in the previous bullet reveals how to accomplish two research goals at once. Do the work to make sure the professional's knowledge and expertise are put to good use heading off regret.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES - author PJ Wade

Trend Alert: Rounded Furniture

8/1/2017

Over all those hard edges? We have some good news for you. After many years of being dominated by straight lines, curves are making a comeback in interior design. Business Insider called rounded furniture one of the hottest design trends this year. "The furniture is a lot more substantial and rounded off where it was feeling very squared," Caitlin Murray, founder and CEO of Black Lacquer Design, told them.

They're not alone. Everyone from Elle Décor to Architectural Digest has been touting this trend, which is now starting to settle in as a "must-have."

"A boxy item here and there is fine, but 2017 will be the year rounded edges and circular furniture return," said Elle Decor. Patti Carpenter, a "global ambassador and founder of Carpenter + cCmpany," told them, "It's all about finding a place of calm and comfort in this constant chaos and information that we constantly have coming at us." In short, they said, "it's all about comfort…not edginess."

Don't be afraid to take your whole room to a curvy place. You may want to mix up the color palette a little, but the three-piece set looks chic together. The faux marble wallpaper behind the seating area? That's another top trend.

Or, incorporate one great piece, like a tufted couch from West Elm featured on the Today show during a segment on this year's design trends. On the show, Amy Astley of Architectural Digest embraced the round furniture trend, saying the curvier shapes bring in a romantic, softer, prettier feel - especially when executed in velvet.

Worried about how rounded furniture will look in your existing space, especially if it already boasts a strong design style? A rounded desk and credenza in an office space creates a modern focal point, complemented beautifully by ornate moldings.

Keeping your straight lines and incorporating rounded furniture, too, looks great in a breakfast nook. A round table is a great choice because it fits in snugly in a small space and allows everyone to gather ‘round (literally) and enjoy each other's company.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

7 Reasons To Stop Renting Today

7/29/2017

mateusrealty.net

Still renting? With rents continuing to rise across the country, interest rates staying around historic levels, and new loans lowering down payment requirements, it just makes sense to take the leap to homeownership. Maybe you've got terrible credit and don't want to take the time to improve it (or don't know about loans that accept lower scores)? If you're still not on board, these 7 reasons might change your mind.

Because owning a home is still less expensive than renting across the country

GOBankingRates' annual survey of "the cost of renting versus owning a home in all 50 states and the District of Columbia" just came out, and, while they "found that the number of places where it's more expensive to own than rent has increased," the number went from 9 to 11. That means that, in 39 states, it still makes more financial sense to buy.

Rates are near historic lows

Anyone who has been paying attention to the market over the last few years and has seen interest rates with a 3 or 4 before that decimal point may just think it'll always be that way. But history has a way of repeating itself, and while we may not see rates in the teens again anytime soon, most industry experts have been predicting rates moving into the 5s sometime this year, with a pattern of rising rates beyond. Buying a home while money is cheap is a smart move.

"A difference of even 1 percent can have a major impact on your total payments over time," said ZACKS. "For instance, a $200,000 mortgage for 30 years at an interest rate of 5 percent would require a monthly payment of $1,073.64. By comparison, the same mortgage at 4 percent interest would result in a payment of $954.83." That might not seem like a big deal every month, but, consider the long-term potential: "Over 30 years, the total difference between the two would be $42,771.60."

FHA loans and the like make it easier to qualify

Don't have an 800 credit score? You don't need to today. FHA requirements are lower than conventional loans, and you may already be where you need to be to qualify. "The average FICO score for buyers who finance FHA loans is 683, according to Ellie Mae. That's considerably lower than the average score of 753 for conventional, non-FHA financing," said Interest.com. "Most lenders have a...minimum of 600."

A little thing called equity

Rising rents may or may not equate to rising property values in your area, but either way, you're not going see any financial benefit from it. When you own your home and your equity rises, that equity is yours. And so is the choice of what to do with it. Whether you decide to let it sit and continue to grow or tap your equity for home improvement projects, the money is yours to decide how to use.

The days of the 20 percent down payment are all but gone

Does 20 percent down make it more likely that you'll qualify for a loan? Sure. Does that mean you have to come up with that huge chunk of money? No. Nor do you have to come up with 10 percent down, which, for some reason, the majority of new buyers seem to believe. "87% of first-time buyers think they need 10% or more down to buy a home," said The Mortgage Reports.

The FHA loan is one of the most popular loans available to first-time buyers because, not only can you qualify with a fair credit score, but the down payment is as low as 3.5 percent, and, "100 percent of the down payment can be a financial gift from a relative or approved non-profit," they said. But, it's not the only option for a low down payment. Fannie Mae's Conventional 97 Mortgage and HomeReady Mortgage require just 3 percent down. The Mortgage Reports also has information on closing cost help and down payment assistance programs.

Rents keep rising

Your rent is just going to keep going up every year. Apartment List's monthly National Apartment List Rent Report shows that "Our national rent index is continuing to climb, with month-over-month growth of 0.5 percent for June. Rents grew at a rate of 0.5 percent between May and June, which is generally in line with the monthly growth that we've seen over the course of this year thus far. Year-over-year growth at the national level currently stands at 2.9 percent, surpassing the 2.6 percent rate from this time last year. In addition to the growth on the national level, rents are now increasing in nearly all of the nation's biggest markets."

When you own your home, your payment is your payment is your payment. Unless you take out a home equity loan or refinance to take cash out, your payment's not going to go up.

Tax breaks

As a homeowner, you get to write off all kinds of stuff, which lowers your overall costs. "Your biggest tax break is reflected in the house payment you make each month since, for most homeowners, the bulk of that check goes toward interest. And all that interest is deductible," said Bankrate. "Did you pay points to get a better rate on any of your various home loans? They offer a tax break, too. The other major deduction in connection with your home is property taxes."

And think about it this way: Even if your house payment is going to be a little bit higher than what you're currently paying in rent, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. How do those numbers look when you calculate the tax savings?

SOURCE: REALTYTIMES.COM -WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

5 Ways Telecommuters Can Reduce Household Energy Use

7/25/2017

 

Image result for save the earth public domain images

 

As someone who's devoted to reducing their home’s carbon footprint, you're likely already adhering to some of more common suggestions. Case in point: You turn off the lights when you leave a room. You've purchased blackout window shades. And you've made sure not to set the A/C too high during those hot, summer months.

While you may want to boost your energy savings even more, as a telecommuter, some of the classic energy-saving tips simply won’t work for you. For example, you'd likely sweat profusely if you set your thermostat to 90 degrees from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fortunately, there are a number of other clever ways to think outside the (fuse) box and save energy, even while spending a majority of your time at home. Check out the following five ideas:

1. Run Sleep Mode on Your Computer

Your computer features a number of power modes to save you money on your energy bill. As House Logic notes, these include active/on, active standby and passive standby/off modes. Set up your computer to automatically go into one of these low-consumption modes when you're away from your home office for extended time periods.

For example, this feature would bode well for your computer — and monthly utility bill — when you take a phone call with a client or go on lunch break. When you return to your desk, your computer will immediately power up and be ready for use. Then, at the end of the workday, completely shut off your computer. This approach can save you between $25 and $75 annually per computer.

2. Use a Single Backup Server

If you have multiple servers in your home, you can easily decrease your energy consumption by switching to one central server. To protect your computers — and all your important work — back up everything on the server through a cloud-based service provider like Mozy.

Mozy’s user-friendly, energy-efficient software allows you to decide when to perform any backups and which specific files you want to be protected. Many utility companies charge less if you use a bulk of electricity at certain times of the day; if this is the case for you, schedule your backups to run when rates are at their lowest.

3. Consider Switching to a Laptop

Laptops offer more than easy portability and user-friendly designs — they're also much more energy efficient than their desktop counterparts. As Homeselfe.com notes, laptops use up to 80 percent less power than desktops. So, if you're in the market for a new computer, investing in a laptop will help save you money on your electric bills.

4. Invest in a Power Strip for Easy On/Off Savings

Your computer, printer and other home office electronics continue to use energy, even when they're turned off. Solve this issue by plugging all your electronics into a power strip instead of an outlet. As a bonus, you won’t have to go around turning off multiple machines at the end of the day. Instead, simply flip the switch to your power strip and immediately start saving money.

5. Think Before You Print

While you might be accustomed to printing your invoices, important emails from the boss and other documents, cutting back on this practice will save energy, along with protecting trees. Store your invoices and work-related paperwork as files on your computer and access or email them to clients when appropriate. Ultimately, you'll spend less on printer power and paper — which is definitely good for Mother Earth.

SOURCE: REALTYTIMES.COM

Curb Appeal Problems And Easy Ways To Fix Them

7/23/2017

 

 

  

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Just how important is curb appeal? Real estate industry legend Barbara Corcoran has said, "Buyers decide in the first eight seconds of seeing a home if they're interested in buying it." What are buyers going to see in the first eight seconds after driving up to your place?

If you've walked around the perimeter of your house recently, you've probably seen at least a couple of issues that need to be addressed before you sell. And your plan probably depends on how much time you have available. If you're listing your house today and expect immediate interest, you may have to pick from a few quick tips to get it in the best shape you can. Have a little more time? You can make a real impact in improving the curb appeal so potential buyers will drive up and want to see more.

Everything just looks a little shabby

It may be time to bite the bullet and repaint the house, or at least, address some peeling trim. If your windows, walkways, and ornamental details are looking drab, a power washer can help transform the area easily and inexpensively. This is a relatively easy DIY task and the rental will only cost you about $40 a day from Home Depot.

Your open house is today and your yard is looking pretty boring

You may not have time to do any new plantings, but that doesn't mean you can't make the yard look tidy and pretty. Fresh flowers in pots placed near your front door will bring the eye up from the street to your entry and give the impression that your home (and your yard) is well cared for. Add a new welcome mat to finish the look.

Your front door is janky

If you're looking at making a few smart updates before listing your home, don't ignore your front door. A new door can return between 75–100 percent of your investment, and it's a relatively low-cost project," said Houselogic, with a "national median cost of around $2,000 installed."

You have a last-minute showing and the landscaper hasn't done his thing in the yard yet

Get in the car, drive to Lowe's, and pack up the trunk with mulch. It's one of the easiest ways to transform your yard and make it look fresh and neat. Lawn and bushes a little overgrown? Nextdoor is a great resource for finding last-minute landscape help or, in a pinch, a neighborhood kid with some developing gardening skills and a need for pocket cash.

Leaves. Everywhere

Get out the hose and spray those suckers away from sidewalks and walkways. Even if the hardscape is wet when the prospective buyers arrive, the area will look nice and clean. Now corral everyone in the house for some fire drill leave-bagging fun. An abundance of leaves in the yard can be a turnoff to those looking to buy as it may make them think the home is unkempt or that the yard is hard to take care of.

Your mailbox is…wow. How did you never notice that?

If it's old, worn, rusty, or has just seen better days, buyers will notice. This seemingly little thing can make them question the quality of your home. Thankfully, it's an easy fix that you can do yourself for almost no money. "It doesn't matter if you have a regular mailbox by the road or if you have a box mounted to your house, adding a new mailbox can add curb appeal. You can find a new mailbox starting around $20," said DIY Network. "When you install your mailbox, make sure that you are following the regulations that are set forth in the city that you live in. If you have a simple mailbox mounted on your house, this home improvement project should take less than an hour to complete. If you have a full-size mailbox at the road, plan for at least two hours or so to complete the project."

SOURCE: REALTORTIMES.COM

 

The Fall Colors For Home You'll Soon Be Seeing Everywhere

7/18/2017

 

The Fall Colors For Home You'll Soon Be Seeing Everywhere

Already thinking about how to jazz up your home with the latest fall trends and newest colors? Even in the dead of summer, it's hard to keep from thinking ahead, especially because autumn décor can be so dreamy. This year, get a head start on the new season with the fall colors you'll be seeing a lot of soon.

"At the International Home + Housewares showPantone Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman made a long-anticipated announcement when she shared the upcoming color trends for 2018," said Martha Stewart. "Eight color groups were announced: Verdure, Resourceful, Playful, Discretion, Far-fetched, Intricacy, Intensity and TECH-nique."

This Elderberry Wine paint from Benjamin Moore falls under "Discretion," and is an unexpected hit of color in a built-in that brings new life to the space.

Blush

Millennial pink isn't gone, and, in fact, it's still going strong with demographics far beyond millennials. But a hot new shade of pink is gaining on it. Benjamin Moore's Tissue Pink is a good place to start to incorporate this hue into your home.

We love the rosy bed in this room from Decoholic, especially with the pink contrasted against the grey and metallic accents.

 

Brass

Speaking of metallic, it's not going anywhere, according to International Color Expert Leatrice Eiseman. "Metallics we know are classic," she said on Home Accents Today. "But they have really moved over into neutrals." We certainly see no signs of these shiny metals waning. Same goes for the iridescent trend: "The human eye can absolutely not avoid anything iridescent, pearlized or translucent, since being intrigued by shimmering, shiny objects is "intrinsic to human development."

If you're looking to bring metallics into your home for fall, today's finish du jour is brass.

Dark green

Tired of that all-white kitchen? This'll give your place a boost. Show off that marble with a dark contrast by splashing deep, rich green - a top color trend for fall - on the walls and cabinets.

"Dark paint"

"Forget farmhouse white and gray! This season, it's all about drama," said House Beautiful. "PPG Paints, Glidden Paints, and Olympic Paints & Stains all announced cozy shades of black as their 2018 Color of the Year -  Black Flame (PPG1043-7), Deep Onyx (00NN 07/000), and Black Magic (OL116), respectively."

Matte black

Moody black is included under the dark paint umbrella, but when it comes to black, it's not a glossy finish that's being courted. Get ready to go matte.

Not ready to take the plunge on the walls? Black matte home décor is everywhere right now.

Chocolate brown

Chocolate brown is also on the rise, providing a rich alternative to all that grey that's been everywhere over the last several years and "the all-white, minimalistic homes that have taken over Pinterest," said Country Living. Their article titled "Brown is the new black" notes that, "trends are cyclical, and now, we're seeing homeowners embracing earthier shades and a more maximalist style—both of which can either cozy up more modern interiors or enhance historic woodwork of older homes. Basically, brown is a win-win-and anything but basic."

Source: Realtor.com Written by Jaymi Naciri

 

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