This article came from Molly Grace over at Home Improvement and it's GREAT!
"Labor Day weekend is a great time to tackle all the projects you’ve been putting off in the name of summer fun. With fall rapidly approaching, now is the time to buckle down and check all your home improvement plans off the to-do list before the cold weather hits.
Don’t know where to start? Here are six great ideas for home improvement projects that you can take on over Labor Day weekend.
Improving the exterior look of your house can seriously add to its value. Whether you’re planning on selling soon or just want to feel the pride of having the nicest-looking house on the block, upping your home’s curb appeal is a simple and relatively inexpensive home improvement project you can do this Labor Day weekend.
Start in the yard. If the grass is looking a little thin or bare in some areas, now is a good time to reseed.
Do some basic cleaning and maintenance. Rent a pressure washer and wash everything: the driveway, walkways, porches, patios and decks, as well as your home’s exterior. Fix any sidewalk or driveway cracks.
Then work on making your home look inviting. Repaint the front door a bright color. Switch out your old house numbers for something new and modern. Place some pretty potted plants on your porch. Install some overhead or wall-mounted lighting on your porch. Or, opt for some solar fixtures to light up your walkways. Put in a new mailbox or plant some flowers around your current one.
Revive your garden beds by adding new mulch, and if you don’t have it in place already, put some stone or brick curbing around your garden to make it look more put together. Add some new shrubbery to the mix. Plant a tree. All these little improvements will make your home look well-maintained and much more appealing.
Do you find yourself wishing you spent more time in your beautiful backyard, if only it were a little more inviting? Take some time to create your backyard haven for yourself – an area where you and guests can chill out among nature.
First things first: update your old outdoor furniture. Backyard décor isn't what it used to be and no longer do you have to sacrifice style and comfort for function. You can easily find beautiful and cozy recliners and sofas and even daybeds that are made to be kept outdoors.
If one of your biggest obstacles to hanging out outdoors is lack of a sturdy foundation underfoot, lay down a pathway of pavers or stepping stones so that people can get around without having to navigate wet grass or dirt.
Create a dining area or even consider building an outdoor kitchen if you grill a lot.
Also think about adding a pergola or some other sort of garden feature to help give your space structure. Pergolas are wooden structures often used to create an open, shaded area in a garden. Place one over your dining or seating area and decorate the pillars and beams with vines to create a peaceful, garden-escape vibe.
Make sure there’s plenty of lighting, whether it be wired or solar powered. If you go with the pergola, string lights on the beams will add a warm, glowing ambiance at night.
If your backyard is more open and you’re looking to add some privacy to your oasis, putting up a lattice wall around one or multiple sides of the area can be a classy way to achieve this. You can also plant a few more trees or some big flowering bushes to help obscure the view while adding to the back-to-nature vibe.
If you don’t have many trees and your yard gets a lot of sun, add in some artificial shade for your space. A big patio umbrella placed near your seating should do the trick.
Make Your House More Eco-Friendly
Making a few choice swaps can make a big difference in the ecological impact of your day-to-day activities, so if you’re ready to invest in making your house more energy-efficient and save yourself money on utility bills in the long run, dedicate your weekend to making your home more environmentally friendly.
A lot of this will be fairly simple and cheaper than you might think.
Switch out all your conventional power strips for advanced power strips and save up to $100 per year on electricity costs. Advanced power strips prevent electronics from drawing power when they’re off or not in use, reducing electricity waste. Plus, they don’t cost much more than traditional power strips.
Install a smart thermostat. While they can be a little pricey, they do all the work of raising and lowering the temperature based on when you’re home, making cost-cutting effortless. Many can also be controlled remotely from your phone. They’re especially useful for anyone who unintentionally leaves their HVAC unit running all day or for anyone who likes to come home to a house that’s already been heated or cooled to their liking.
Don’t forget water efficiency. Go around and fix any leaky faucets. Install low-flow showerheads. According to the EPA, replacing an old toilet with an EPA-approved model (look for the WaterSense label) saves the average family nearly 13,000 gallons of water in a year. You can do this yourself to save on installation costs.
If you’re really committed to reducing your home’s carbon footprint, consider using the weekend to shop around for some new big-ticket appliances. If you have an air conditioner that’s more than 20 years old, upgrading could save you money and electricity. Old refrigerators use significantly more energy than new ones, so if your fridge was made before 2001, trade it in for a newer, energy-efficient model. Same goes for an old water heater.
If you’ve always dreamed of adding in a patio, now is your time. There are many different types and styles of patios, so figure out what look you want and choose your materials accordingly.
Before you begin, make sure you get any necessary approvals: Your homeowners association may require that you get a project like this approved by the board before you may begin building. Depending on where you live, you may also need to obtain a permit from your city.
Once you have the go-ahead, purchase your materials. Pavers are a staple for patios, as they’re easy to put down and are made in a variety of materials, including concrete, brick and rubber, giving you plenty of looks to choose from. Flagstone is a beautiful choice if you’re looking for a more natural, earthy look. However, because the stones are irregular, it can be difficult to work with.
If you’re looking for something a little more practical, poured concrete patios are very durable and easier to maintain. They’re also more utilitarian and might not be a good choice if it’s not in line with the aesthetic value you’re looking to add to your property.
Pea gravel patios can be a visually interesting option for your backyard but can be uncomfortable on bare feet. It’s arguably the easiest option if you’re looking to put in a patio because it entails little more than creating a border and spreading the pebbles. A gravel patio might be a good option if you’re looking to create a chic space around your fire pit.
Whatever material you end up using, be sure you build your patio on a level, sturdy base that allows water to drain away from your house.
Just because the sun is beginning to set on summer doesn’t mean it’s too late to get the most out of a fire pit. A good-looking fire pit will have your whole family enjoying your backyard well into the chilly months.
Plus, having a beautiful fire pit can be a real asset to your home’s outdoor space when the time comes to sell. Many buyers look for a home with an attractive yard, and putting in a fire pit is a cheap and relatively easy way to make a big impact.
Make sure you pick materials that can handle the heat. You’ll also need a steel ring insert to put inside your fire pit. Home improvement stores usually sell ready-to-install built-in fire pit kits for as little as $200.
Before you plop your built-in fire pit just anywhere, plan out how you want the finished project to look, beyond just the pit. The key is to make the whole area look welcoming. A hole in the ground surrounded by a few dinky old lawn chairs planted in the dirt isn’t going to have the same “wow” factor as, say, a stone bench that curves around a matching stone wall fire pit.
Lay down some stepping stones or a small patio to surround the fire pit. Pick out some comfy outdoor furniture or, for something a little more rustic, build a couple log benches.
Before you start this project, check your local ordinances and make sure it’s legal for you to have a fire pit and how far away it needs to be from your home and your neighbor’s home.
If you’re looking for something simple but useful to do this Labor Day, consider making some small updates around the house to make everything look brand new.
Switching out your cabinet and drawer hardware, especially if its old or the look is outdated, is one of the quickest ways to fix up your home. New pulls or knobs can take your cabinetry from dated to modern with just a few twists of a screwdriver.
Likewise, new light fixtures can significantly change the feel of your rooms. Or swap out your overhead bedroom lighting for a ceiling fan with a light.
If your interior doors are starting to look old and beat up, or if they’re hollow core and you want something sturdier and more soundproof, consider replacing them with new doors. Solid wood or solid core doors will be better at blocking sounds and will look and feel like higher quality."
Already in the first quarter of the year we have seen interest rates rise and I anticipate this trend to continue slowly as the Fed sees the overall economy strengthening. As a result I have spend a lot of time this year educating prospective buyers on the state of the market and how to prepare for homeownership in this type of environment.
Unfortunately some current homeowners have encountered recent challenges. Specifically, homeowners who want to remove FHA mortgage insurance by refinancing have been left waiting for home values to increase past the 80% combined loan to value ratio. With conventional rates on the rise this makes homeowners subject to home appreciation even more than before. Increasing rates and slow appreciation together make some scenarios more difficult than others. My advice to homeowners with a FHA mortgage is: Be patient. The market will have its seasons, and until you are at a point where you have value in your favor, stay the course and keep making those monthly payments on time.
For buyers looking to purchase a home this spring and summer, please remember that interest rates are still historically low and local rental rates are increasing. It’s always a good time to buy in San Diego when you have a strong credit (FICO) score, income and down payment. Especially if the monthly payment is well within reach, you can’t go wrong owning property in Americas Finest City. In most cases, owning is just a few hundred dollars more a month than renting. If you are flexible with your search criteria, you can accumulate equity through homeownership. And in the long run you will be able to sell at a gain, upgrade to a larger property or even hold your initial home as investment property. Click here to e-mail me and I can help you navigate through all your options
Great article I had to share... all credit to BY: JANN SWANSON
With home prices and sales back to or above pre-crisis levels and the inventory of available homes at records lows, CoreLogic's Shu Chen says that a large and increasing share of homes sold at or above their listing prices in 2017.
In September that share was back to early 2004 levels, up almost three times from the 2008 level. Those at-and-above list sales represented more than one-fifth of all transactions.
Of course, under the "all real estate is local" rule, there is a wide range in the level of bidding activity. In San Francisco 76 percent of sales were at the asking price or higher, while in Miami only 16 percent of sales reflected pressure from buyer bidding. Of the 16 Core-Based Statistical Areas (out of the 66 CoreLogic tracked) in Figure 2, the top five for above-list sales were in the Census Bureau's West or Mountain divisions, where home prices have also risen the fastest according to Federal Housing Finance Agency statistics.
With the ever-changing family dynamic of the United States, incomes have also changed. Fifty years ago the norm was a two-parent, two-income family. In this new century, however, the norm is anything but. Regardless of the reasons – by choice or necessity – there are tens of millions of American households surviving on just one income. If this is your situation, you should also understand the dynamic importance of maintaining a good credit score and accurate credit history.
Of course, the best and most effective way to keep up with your credit is using a credit optimization company with the expertise and experience to hasten your credit score improvement. However, having only one income often means the affordability of using a company is sometimes out of reach. If you aren’t able to utilize their services right away, there are several things you can do on your own to help improve your credit.
We understand all of our advice is easier said than done, but we believe in you. You wouldn’t be here reading our blog if you didn’t have the drive and ambition to change your current standard of living or improve the lives of your family. Being a single-income family isn’t easy, and it’s even less easy when you’re trying to attain a higher than average credit score and improve your credit health.
Great article from Continental Credit
|If you are not aware, mortgage interest rates have recently increased.|
|It is uncertain if rates will continue to rise, but if they do, time may run out for you to refinance into a lower interest rate.|
|It might still make sense to refinance, if:|
|Together, we can review the details of your current mortgage and discuss whether refinancing makes sense or not.|
If you are ready to start your buying or selling process
give me a call at 619-726-7348 - I´m happy to answer all your questions.