Patrick Russo, Realtor®'s Blog
If you're renting a nice house, condo, or apartment, there's a good chance your monthly rent check is almost as much as a mortgage payment. Perhaps you've realized this and have been asking yourself why you're contributing to someone else's nest egg, instead of your own! If that sounds familiar, you may be ready to take the plunge into home ownership.
The other half of the equation is whether you're financially ready, and that would depend on a variety of things, including your credit rating, your debt-to-income ratio, and your ability to make a sufficient down payment on a new home. Although a 20% down payment is a desirable target to aim for, there's often a lot of flexibility on how much you're required to put down on a house.
One of the main reasons a 20% down payment is desirable is that it takes you "off the hook" for having to pay monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI). The second advantage of making a substantial down payment is that it reduces the principal amount of your loan, which, in turn, lowers your monthly payments even more. However, if you're ready to become a home owner, but can't afford a 20% down payment, you can often eliminate PMI payments earlier than scheduled by making extra principal payments. The bank or mortgage company you decide to work with can fully explain their policies and what your options are.
If you are interested in making the transition from renter to home owner, now's a good time to start talking to loan officers. If nothing else, you'll be educating yourself on the intricacies of buying a home. Working with an experienced real estate agent is another way to learn the ropes, so to speak, when it comes to the home buying process.
Other than the financial benefits of building equity in your own home, there are also a lot of practical advantages. If you're currently a renter, for example -- especially in an apartment building, duplex, or townhouse -- you're probably tired of the lack of privacy and the unwelcome noises you can often hear through walls, floors, and ceilings.
Becoming a home owner brings with it a pride of ownership and the ability to plant trees, bushes, and gardens on your own property. Depending on what's available in your price range, you can also enjoy your own private deck, screened in porch, or patio. Options for the kids (if you have them) include swing sets, sand boxes, and room to play backyard sports or run through a water sprinkler during the hot weather.
If you feel like you are ready to take the plunge into home ownership, the first step is to make lists of your requirements, your preferences ("wish list"), and financial resources. The next step is to find a good real estate agent to start showing you homes that fulfill your needs and check off as many items on your wish list as possible!
Moving into a new home can often be a frantic, exhausting task. Matters are made worse if the house you are moving into wasn’t cleaned thoroughly after the previous movers left.
However, the best time to clean a house is before you move in. This is due to the fact that cleaning shelves is easier before they’ve been filled, and vacuuming carpets is simpler if the house doesn’t yet have any furniture.
So, in this article we’re going to show you the best way to clean your new home before you move in to avoid having to move objects around once you’ve brought them inside.
Before moving day
The idea moment to clean your new home is before the moving truck arrives. If possible, pick a day after the previous owners have moved out that is close to your move-in date. Bring all of your cleaning supplies with you, including cloths, towels, a duster, vacuum, hardwood floor polish, glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and so on.
It might be tempting to just start scrubbing as soon as you’re inside, but first take a moment to walk through the house and make a list of all the cleaning tasks you would like to accomplish before moving in.
Not only will your list help you determine how long you’ll need to clean, but it will also give some organization to your day and keep you on track.
On or after moving day
You don’t always have the luxury of being able to clean your new home beforehand. If you’re moving across states or are on a tight move-in/move-out schedule, you might have to clean your house as you move in.
In this case, the best solution is to organize your boxes and furniture by room. Then, when moving them inside, put them in the corner of a room in a neat pile. This will leave access to most of the room so that you can clean before putting things away.
Make sure you and your family are on the same page in terms of organizing items on moving day. If you have family members who start unpacking boxes, let them know they could be more helpful by picking up a duster or cleaning some windows rather than putting items in their future places.
Room by room cleaning
There are some rooms in your house that require special attention. Let’s start with the kitchen.
When it comes to cleaning your appliances (refrigerator, oven, microwave, etc.), it’s a good idea to spray on some degreaser or baking soda/vinegar solutions in advance to let them soak and loosen up any debris before you start scrubbing them. Soaking them all at once will help you save time cleaning.
The bathroom poses a challenge when moving in for two reasons. Since bathrooms tend to be small and crowded, it can be hard to work inside of them if there are boxes in the way. To avoid this, stack all of your bathroom items outside in the hallway or in the bathroom closet while you clean.
Before you sell your home, you may wonder if there are any areas that you can improve on before putting the home on the market. Kitchen renovations have one of the highest return values of any changes that you make to your home. It’s worth investigating what areas of the room could use some improving. Some of these upgrades don’t even require you to start a construction project.
Clear Off The Counters
You don’t even have to replace the countertops to add some value to your home. Making it appear as if your counters have the maximum amount of space before you show the home can really impress potential buyers Simply clear your counter, clean it, and make any small repairs that you notice may need to be done. If you have time and the budget, you can always replace tired old countertops. Simply showing that your counters have more room can really make a big difference.
Add A Backsplash
You can add a backsplash or update your existing one in order to breathe some life into your kitchen. Make sure that the tiles you choose coordinate with the theme of the kitchen. This is purely cosmetic but a kitchen with a fresh backsplash sells much faster than a tired, worn looking kitchen backslash, or even a kitchen without a backsplash at all.
Add Some Technology To The Kitchen
Buyers like simplicity and convenience in their potential homes. Consider adding some technology to the kitchen like USB outlets and smart appliances. If you can save a buyer from needing to upgrade their appliances and meet their 21st century needs at the same time, your home will be a very attractive sell. There are few things more enticing to buyers than brand spanking new appliances in the kitchen! These updates will surely add value to your home before you sell.
While floors offer the least return for your investment, buyers don’t like looking at old, dirty floors! Take the time to clean up your floor and replace it if needed. It’s not a difficult do-it-yourself project and can really make your kitchen look more attractive.
Clean The Cabinets
Buyers are very into looking at every nook of the home they may potentially buy. That means if you have nice looking cabinets, you can have a leg up as a seller. Whether you need to clean and stain the wood on your cabinets, add a fresh coat of paint, or do a larger project and replace the cabinets altogether, there are plenty of ways that you can give your cabinets a fresh look, drawing attention to this part of the room. Be sure that whatever you do to your cabinets will bode well with the style of the kitchen.
Magazine styled homes are gorgeous but they’re not quite practical. Especially when you’ve got little ones running about. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a stylish home. I’ve got a few tricks for you to today to integrate kid-friendly decor with a grown up touch.
When house shopping keep those with open floor plans at the top of your list. Open floor plans help your family to stay social and connected with each other. It’s also a whole lot easier to keep your eye on your little ones in the living room while you’re making dinner. Additionally, an eat-in kitchen creates a welcoming atmosphere for older kids to hang out around after school while eating snacks or working on homework.
When it comes to furnishing your new home opt for furniture that doubles as storage to tuck away toys. This helps to keep a tidy home while maintaining a welcoming room for children to pull out a few toys and spend time with the family. If you choose to have wall to wall carpeting be sure to choose one designed to withstand heavy traffic. Alternatively, for a statement rug using an outdoor carpet inside adds visual interest and makes for easy cleaning.
Furnishings in heavy duty fabrics like microfiber, acrylics or distressed leather can withstand messes and frequent cleaning. For existing furniture, slip covers are another way to protect sofas while being able to easily wash messes from kiddos and pets. Round shaped tables eliminate sharp corners and the bumps and bruises they create.
It may be tempting to choose dark colors to hide inevitable messes and stains however it’s best to opt for mid-tone colors to keep a bright, welcoming room. Add pops of color with pillow covers in lighter colors. Pillow covers are ideal since not only can they easily be swapped out to give a room a fresh new look but they can also easily be cleaned by throwing them in the wash.
Install shelves that allow books to be propped up with their covers viewable. Children will be more likely to grab them to read and they will also double as an evolving art display in your home. Another great way to add child-friendly art is to frame the paintings and drawings your children bring home. You’ll have a unique one of a kind piece to rival Pollock and Rothko.
A guest bedroom with one or two bunk beds will make your home the sleepover favorite among your child’s friends. You’ll maximize space and provide a much more comfortable sleeping space than a sleeping bag on the floor. Storing snacks in baskets and see through jars out in the open makes it easy for kids to grab and go throughout the day. You’ll have peace of mind visitors aren’t going hungry while creating a welcoming, homey space for all.
When decorating most put their own taste and style first. However, when raising a family the difference between a house and a home is that everyone living under its roof feels at comfortable in its space. Creating a family friendly home doesn’t mean sacrificing style but it does mean a few tweaks that bring everyone closer together.