For many homeowners who think about home improvement a lot, the basement is one place that rarely gets the attention it deserves. That’s because most don’t consider it as valuable space for living. But when you actually plan on working on a finished basement, it definitely will become a very nice addition to your home. As a matter of fact, what you get in return is a spare area where you can do a lot of good things.
So if you want to carry on a basement finishing project, consider these tips:
1 – First things first, make sure every corner in the basement is dry. This is very important because majority of basements are usually covered in standing water due to leaks. Therefore, before even thinking about giving your basement the improvement it needs, you must do a comprehensive inspection, the purpose of which is to figure out if there are any water issues, whether it is a minor or major one. If you see some dripping or pools of water, those are the two most obvious signs that a water problem indeed exists. Should there be any cracks in the foundation wall, they need to be fixed first.
2 – Once you’ve taken care of the water problem and cracks, the next thing you need to do before putting your basement finishing plan into action is to go to the proper local authorities to inquire on the needed permits. Keep in mind that if you are incorporating electrical as well as plumbing work, both need to be inspected.
3 – If you think you can do the finishing yourself, be sure you know what you’re doing, considering that any kind of basement work is quite different to typical home improvement projects. For instance, there’s a bit of masonry needed that includes the use of cement and bricks. You also might need to be working with fasteners and anchors for the walls. If you aren’t sure how to handle them, seek help from a professional.
4 – Basement finishing also means adding vapor barrier, the purpose of which is to prevent any likelihood of moisture issues later on. It may be true that you’ve handled the water problems earlier, but it doesn’t mean moisture won’t be coming back. The fact is the basement is very prone to excess moisture and dampness and if you want to be successful at basement finishing, deal with this problem head on.
5 – Figure out a way to keep the cold out of the space and bring in warmth in exchange. The key is insulation, which is responsible for controlling and regulating temperature inside. Through an improved insulation, you actually are adding another layer of moisture control.
6 – Meanwhile, you probably aren’t aware of it but recessed lighting is actually a great option for the basement. The reason is because this type of lighting won’t need a lot of overhead space to be effective, which is in stark contrast to a regular or normal light fixture. Likewise, you can even install it on your own on a drop ceiling.
Finding a real estate agent and finding a great one are two different things. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need the services of an expert to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. But if you happen to work with someone who just wants to rip you off, you’ll end up losing money or perhaps you buy a home that you actually don’t want.
A successful and reliable real estate agent has certain qualities you should be looking for. Here’s a bunch of tips on what those qualities are:
Let’s begin with RealEstate.com.au, in the article, “8 expert qualities that make a good real estate agent.”
1. They communicate
As a house seller or buyer it can be stressful dealing with an agent who’s not a great communicator. The real estate market is time sensitive, so you need an agent who will let you know quickly where you stand with your current buying or selling situation so you can move on quickly to another property or potential buyer.
Jean Gordon from Estate Agent Stars says that one of the biggest frustrations for people is a lack of communication from their agent.
“It’s so important that agents stay in constant contact with their clients and customers. What seems like insignificant information to an agent who’s been in the business for years can be really important to clients who are new to the real estate game,” says Gordon.
2. They’re proactive
Ben Hatch from Harcourts Real Estate in WA says a good agent should be proactively calling potential buyers, communicating with existing customers and constantly chasing new leads. The key element of being proactive is keeping the client well informed.
“If your clients keep calling you, you’re not giving them enough information,” says Hatch.
The key element of being proactive is keeping the client well informed.
Looking ahead: A glimpse of the agents of the future
3. They listen
Most good agents will tell you to be wary of an agent who talks too much.
Hatch says that if you can’t get a word in when communicating with your agent, then you’ve got a problem.
“As a client or customer, you’re the one who should be doing most of the talking and making sure that your agent understands your special requests and needs. A good agent should be asking all the questions not the other way around,” says Hatch.
You will realize later on that it’s really about finding out the personality of the realtor you plan on hiring. The way they talk to you and respond to your needs says a lot about how they’re able to give you the best deals in either purchasing or selling your home. For one, a good listener is essential because you want them to listen to what you need from them and not just do all the talking.
But aside from being proactive and a good listener, there also are some very specific attributes for you to consider one as a good realtor. Take a look at some of these qualities below, courtesy of RealEstateInsiderMag.com:
It is incredibly important for the person selling a home to have recent sales experience and success at selling homes in the area. Someone new in town or who has never sold a home in a particular part of town is, in many ways, a beginner. Sellers have a right to pick a winner so start things out right by making sure you’re the best man, or woman, for the job.
Organized with attention to detail
A real estate agent that is organized and likes to work with attention to detail is the one that is most likely to sell a home. This is especially true in a hard-to-sell market. Great agents know the tiniest changes sellers can make to improve the sale-ability of their home. They are creative with their MLS listings and they take the best photographs of each home. They return client calls promptly and make every appointment on time.
Connections and representation
The top agents come to a home with a prospective buyers list. They also are working with a well known realty agency. They know other realtors in the area, too, and are willing to work with others if that sells the home faster.
Sellers want an agent that is tenacious. They follow up quickly after every time the home is shown. They appear to work hard and they rarely give up.
Aggressive yet polite attitude
The best realtor is not afraid to speak up. He or she should be just as promotional about the seller’s home as if it was their own. By being aggressive, the realtor is working hard to put the home in the forefront of the local market.
Flair and good grooming
Sellers have worked hard to prepare their homes for showing. They want, and need, a realtor that puts their best foot forward. An agent with flair exudes confidence and makes prospective buyers feel at ease. This way, prospective buyers get the impression that his agent would not even list a home that was not an excellent buy.
Even if you feel like you can buy or sell a home on your own, there still is good reason for you to hire an agent. They are experts in their own industry, but don’t expect everyone to be as reliable as a few of them.
If you think everything about real estate is boring, then you’re wrong. The concept in general is largely associated with buying and selling a home. But in between those two processes are very interesting things that happened in the past as well as current trends. These things will certainly change the way you look at the term “real estate” for good.
So here are some of the best facts we gathered online for your pleasure:
1. In the state of New York, as silly as it sounds, it is a seller’s legal requirement to disclose and inform buyers that the property under inspection is haunted or known to be haunted. Obviously, the biggest problem with that requirement is the fact that no one really wants to purchase a home just to live with ghosts!
2. If you think Americans are too proud when it comes to building homes and competing with each other, then this billionaire from India will sweep you off your feet. As the richest person in his country, he didn’t think twice in building a home that is reportedly worth $1 billion. It comes with the basic amenities of 27 floors highlighted by six parking floors that can accommodate almost 170 cars.
3. Should you want to purchase the White House (yes, that place where Donald Trump aspires to call home one day), you have to be prepared to pay $110 million for it. That’s the value of the most guarded place in all of America.
4. A dog named “Trouble” became the richest animal in the world in 2007 when her owner, Leona Helmsly, who by the way happens to be a real estate magnate and hotelier, left it with a $12 million inheritance.
5. In what should be the most ironic thing of all when it comes to real estate, the U.S. has five times as many vacant houses as to that of the number of homeless individuals.
6. If you are a Donald Trump believer or hater, then you should know that he’s one of the most prominent personalities in the real estate industry in America. However, he also happens to be the same guy who filed for corporate bankruptcy four times.
7. If you want to build a house or building that multiple stories high in the quickest possible way, hire Chinese builders who use fabricated modules to construct a skyscraper in roughly 15 days.
8. The real estate industry in 2009 hit an interesting low when there were more foreclosures than marriages.
9. Utah is the best place for the homeless. The government has given homes to the homeless that allowed their number to go down 74%.
10. Investing in real estate is really a good idea. Just ask a couple from North Carolina who purchased an acre of land for $6,000, only to sell it to a company called Apple over thirty years later. And by the way, that one acre of land was bought for $1.7 million.
Beating the summer heat doesn’t always mean using the air conditioning equipment the entire day. As a matter of fact, there are many people out there who even completely avoid the use of the AC system for different reasons. If you’re one of those people, then you should take a look at our tips on how to keep your home cool even without the AC during the summer season.
Tip 1 – Try to deny the sun’s light entry to your home as much as possible.
You should know that sunlight is a primary contributor of heat inside the home. You may not be aware of it but you’re keeping the temperature inside high by allowing the rays to make a convenient entry. So if you want your living space to feel cooler and a lot more comfortable in summer, reduce the entry of solar heat by using stuff like drapes, shutters, awnings, and even window films. You can ideally close the drapes by lining them with light-colored fabric that easily reflects the sun and then close them all in that time of the day where the sun shines the brightest. As for awnings, you can buy them in your home improvement store and then have them installed on the south and west facing windows. By doing so, you’re reducing heat gain through the sun by about 70%. Meanwhile, putting up interior as well as exterior shutters will also help in reducing heat gain while at the same time they give you protection against storms. The beauty of shutters is you can adjust the slats to be able to control the amount of sun entering the home. And finally, consider installing high-reflectivity window film in your windows of course. Do this to the east and west facing windows because they can keep the sunshine out while trapping them in during the winter.
Tip 2 – Open the windows in opportune times.
One of the simplest ways to keep your home cool without the help of the air conditioning system is to open windows when the temperature outside is lower than the inside. Letting the cool air outside in will lower the temperature of your floor, walls, and even your furniture. If you don’t know it yet, those things actually absorb and trap heat, causing your home to feel hotter in the summer.
Tip 3 – Make use of those fans, too.
It is best to have portable fans at home if you’re not an avid AC system user. You can place those fans wherever you want like in open windows at night time to successfully move and distribute cool air. During the day, you can place those fans in areas of the house where you feel like they gather cool breeze. Another great idea is to put a bowl of ice water in front of the fans since this will chill the air being distributed. Aside from portable fans, you might as well invest in the installation of ceiling and whole house fans, both of which provide you additional cooling capabilities inside your home without spending a lot like what you expect when you use your air conditioning equipment more often.
Tip 4 – You need to minimize the use of power on your appliances.
Powering down your appliances will make wonders for your hopes of cooling down your home during the summer. While the heat outside feels like it’s burning you, some appliances at home like the computer and TV actually generate heat, too. So if you’re not using them, turn them off. You not only contribute to reducing your energy bills, you also keep it cool inside. As for appliances that function by way of generating either heat or steam, you need to avoid using them during the hottest times of the day.
Tip 5 – Trees and plants matter.
Finally, you may not be that interested, but planting trees and all kinds of plants in and around your home will make you feel a lot cooler. It’s not just the thought of seeing green that counts, though, because trees are a good shade from the sun. Vines on the other hand are effective outside insulators. Wherever you go, when you see plants around it, it feels like the air is a lot fresher and there seems to be more wind coming in when they’re around; plus the fact that you’re actually helping the cause of the environment by maintaining a garden and lawn with trees and plants.
There is good reason why you want to increase your home’s value and improve its curb appeal – that’s simply because when you put it in the market, it’ll command a higher price and will take minimum time to find a buyer. But the thing with this kind of DIY home improvement job is that most homeowners believe it is difficult and expensive to carry out. That right there is a misconception. There are actually very convenient and cheap way to do it and still you will realize you’ve actually done a lot to give your property a fresh look.
First thing you need to do is focus on upkeep and maintenance. You can’t simply think about doing improvements on how your home appears in the eyes of potential buyers without even fixing what needs to be fixed. Good thing the website ThisOldHouse.com provides some of the most important upkeep ideas to improve curb appeal.
Seize the Season
Remember all those outdoor fixup projects you put off last winter, waiting for the warm summer months? Well, summer’s here and it’s time to think about getting some repairs in while the temperatures are still agreeable. Keeping your home in tip-top shape not only adds to its curb appeal but it saves you money as you ward off more expensive fixes down the road.
But look at it this way: Spend a couple of weekends outside, basking in the beautiful weather, and make sure your home looks fantastic while you can still enjoy its charms. Soon enough, it will be time to pack it up and head inside.
Let the sunshine in
One of the simplest but most satisfying fixups you can do is to make your windows sparkle and shine, letting in clear summer light.
Fix Up the Front Door
Your front entry is your home’s ambassador, signaling to guests if you are friend or foe. If yours is more “War is hell” than “Good to see you, ally,” perhaps you need to spruce things up a bit to make it more welcoming.
See some more of this post’s tips through this link.
Sadly, a lot of homeowners neglect those three simple upkeep jobs, even though they’re very simple to do. Don’t ever make the mistake of looking at the more complex projects and forgetting about the little but important ones.
Now for enhancing the exterior features of your home, Popular Mechanics gives us some common improvement projects you can do without the need of a professional or a contractor. See them below:
Install Lights Along the Sidewalk
Lights that lead to your entryway welcome guests after dusk while also increasing their safety. Soft exterior lighting also makes your home appear more inviting and friendly, and it can emphasize landscaping and any other features you want to call out to anyone approaching your front door. Plus, the lights improve security by reducing dark spots near your house.
Solar lights are perfect for sidewalks and paths since they don’t require running electrical cable or the use of extension cords, don’t use any electricity from the house, and are easy to install—you just stick them in the ground. They provide a pleasant ambiance that’s not too bright. Most solar lights have a run time of at least 6 hours.
Flowers along the sidewalk, in front of the house, inside flower boxes, pouring out of hanging baskets, or even in berms and raised garden beds provide a giant boost to your curb appeal. Planting flowers is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make a big impact.
Get recommendations from your local nursery on what plants and flowers thrive in your area. Just because a neighborhood garden center sells particular plants doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your region. Sticking with perennials will eliminate the need to buy and plant new flowers every year.
Lights become the highlight of your home at night. No one’s really going to appreciate a home that’s so dark and almost invisible at night. But don’t overdo it because when lights are too bright, the home’s nightly ambiance is destroyed.
Likewise, flowers are no-brainer. One of the most effective means of improving your home’s curb appeal is building an attractive garden in front of the property. Flowers are simply attractive and refreshing.
Your kitchen is an integral part of your home. You don’t want it to look dull and ugly because it might leave a negative impression to your visitors. And if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you definitely want to feel good and proud if you have a very attractive space in there.
Now if your kitchen no longer appears attractive to you, it means it needs to be freshened up. You need to do some remodeling. But contrary to popular belief, there actually is no need to spend thousands of dollars to do it. If you have the money, then you simply can hire remodeling companies to do the work for you. But if you are the adventurous type, then doing it on your own should be quite interesting.
Here are some very good tips on how to go about the project of kitchen remodeling if you’re a beginner:
In an article by Mark Wynn Ryan for HowStuffWorks.com, titled “Basic Tips for Kitchen Remodeling,” he emphasizes the importance of identifying the focal point.
To create a distinctive space, your first move is to look at your kitchen with an eye to what might serve as a focal point. A large window, alcove, or long wall can be the start. Take advantage of a bank of beautiful windows with an eye-catching counter that runs the length of the window wall. If you love to entertain and are lucky enough to have ample space, consider setting your room up to include two back-to-back kitchens; one with a full-size range, a fridge, ovens, and a sink, and the other with an ice-maker, a wine chiller, a second sink, a mini-fridge, and a microwave, plus an abundance of storage. Pretty much anything you dream up can be executed with the help of a talented design team. It’s up to you!
We believe that a key aspect of remodeling is to figure out how much space you have. By doing so, you will have a pretty clear idea on what you can work on. There’s no point in thinking about big and major changes like putting in new kitchen appliances if your space is very limited.
Before we move on to the other tips, take this video in mind, talking about the different mistakes you should avoid in kitchen remodeling. The video below comes from Consumer Reports:
Now moving on, you must realize how advantageous it is to be able to save money when buying new appliances and other kitchen components, and you can actually do it by looking for bargains. Take this set of tips from DIYNetwork.com:
When shopping for appliances, look for floor models. You’re usually only giving up the box the item came in. Be sure to check with the dealer about the warranty. They might be willing to extend the warranty to unload the item.
Shop in early fall for appliances. Last year’s models need to go to make room for the next year’s models.
Shop scratch-and-dent appliance sales. Make sure the scratches are cosmetic and not structural.
Ask for volume discounts, some places offer discounts if you buy all your appliances in one place.
When shopping for windows and doors, don’t just check the big box retailers, go to your local building supplier, (where your contractor shops). The savings can be up to 20 percent.
Look for cabinet retailers or wholesalers that offer free design services such as measuring your kitchen and planning your layout.
Go directly to the place that sells granite slabs. You can save 25 to 30 percent by cutting out the middle man.
Be reminded that you only have the luxury to find and shop for bargains if you decide to do the remodeling yourself. Should you hire a contractor, the usual scenario is that they’ll be taking care of everything for you and it usually means you’re going to spend more, too.
Finally, here’s another bunch of helpful reminders from Reader’s Digest, in an article titled “Top 10 Kitchen Design Tips.”
Make room for storage.
“The biggest mistake people make at the planning stage is not allowing for enough storage,” Jacqui says. “Use every nook and cranny. Put overhead cabinets right up to the ceiling, rather than leaving a gap on top that collects dust.” Consider deep drawers for easier access to pots and pans, and include enough storage for appliances that otherwise would clutter up countertops.
See the light.
Unlike in other rooms of the house, overhead lighting is insufficient in kitchens, says electrician Richard Terode. “In the kitchen, you don’t want the light behind you, casting a shadow on the workspace. You need it positioned to fall in front of you.” He likes under-cabinet lights because they shine directly on countertops.
Be sure there are appropriate power sources for relocated or new appliances. Many people realize too late that they don’t have the right gas or electric lines, Richard says. Plumber Stuart McGroder also suggests measuring appliances to ensure that they fit comfortably into allocated spaces. “If a dishwasher is crammed in, it could push up against the hose and won’t drain properly,” Stuart says.
Space and surface.
There’s no such thing as too much counter space. Choose a surface that’s easy to work on and care for. But keep in mind that grout between tiles is hard to maintain and that stainless steel will scratch very easily.
Don’t reuse appliances or items from the old kitchen. It may seem as if you’re saving money, but an old appliance will stick out like a sore thumb in a new environment, says Jacqui. Find other ways to economize. “You don’t have to spend $100 on a drawer handle when cheaper ones still look fantastic,” she says. “The same goes for countertops.”
In the end, kitchen remodeling is a very fun endeavor and you will eventually feel more accomplished if you’re doing it on your own. Although there are risks involved, you can minimize the errors by studying the common mistakes to avoid we mentioned in the video above.
First time home buyers are the most prone to making mistakes. But unlike buying a used car, phone, gadget, or appliance, buying a home is a huge investment, which involves major risks. Therefore, if you are doing it for the first time, you can’t afford to mess it up.
Good thing is we’re here to help you with your cause. All we want is that you make the biggest investment in your life a successful one. Put in mind that once you get that loan to purchase a home, there is no turning back. You have to commit to it and be man enough to accept the responsibility of paying your mortgage.
So here’s a bunch of tips for you:
According to BankRate.com, you first should be focused on two things before even thinking about buying a house for the first time. These are your credit and your assets and liabilities. Read these helpful tips from the article “5 tips for first-time home buyers.”
Check your credit
The homebuyer’s credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a loan these days.
“In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan,” says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner with McKinley Carter Wealth Services in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Scour the reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar, however. The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.
The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.
Repairing damaged credit takes time — and money, if you owe more than lenders would prefer to see relative to your income. Begin the process at least 6 months before shopping for a home.
Evaluate assets and liabilities
So you don’t owe too much money and your payments are up to date. But how do you spend your money? Do you have piles of money left over every month, or are you on a shoestring budget?
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of what is owed and what is coming in.
“You should understand a little bit about monthly cash flow,” says Winesburg.
In the simplest explanation possible, you have to understand what your financial situation is. You can’t just go ahead and apply for a home loan if you know you don’t qualify. It may be because you have existing loans or perhaps you have trouble in getting a stable income as of the moment. If those are the cases, then you should fix your finances first.
Next, Amy Fontinelle of Investopedia.com, in her article “Top Tips For First-Time Home Buyers,” talked about some factors you should consider:
What type of home best suits your needs?
You have several options when purchasing a residential property: a traditional single-family home, a townhouse, a condo, or a multi-family building with two to four units. Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your homeownership goals, so you need to decide which type of property will help you reach those goals. You can also save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper, although the amount of time, sweat equity and money involved to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be much more than you bargained for.
What specific features will your ideal home have?
While it’s good to retain some flexibility in this list, you’re making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life, and you deserve to have that purchase fit both your needs and wants as closely as possible. Your list should include basic desires, like neighborhood and size, all the way down to smaller details like bathroom layout and a kitchen that comes with trust-worthy appliances.
We agree that your needs should be the top priority when you start looking for the right type of home to buy. You have to consider things like the number of people who will reside, the location and neighborhood, and others. You just can’t put the aesthetic features of the home as the major influencing factor. In home buying, it is more than just the looks.
Finally, you should prepare yourself for other costs that you might have overlooked. These are the downpayment and the household expenses once you occupy your new home. Here are some tips about those two factors from Realtor.com:
Save for the down payment
Most mortgage lenders require a cash down payment of 5%, 10%, or 20% of the sale price. Buyers today may find it difficult to save for a large down payment, especially young adults saddled with substantial student loan debt. Traditionally, buyers who were unable to put 20% down had to pay an additional $100 to $200 per month to their mortgage lender for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Factor in home improvement costs and monthly household expenses
With today’s low inventory of affordable homes for first-time buyers, many buyers will find themselves settling on a home that requires renovations or upgrades. These costs should be factored in at the start of the financing process so buyers are comfortable with their down payment and monthly payment and will have money available to make improvements. For buyers who have not lived on their own or for those who previously rented, the added costs of running a household can be a shock. Monthly costs for utilities, homeowner’s association fees, cable, and Internet, can add up quickly. Factoring these expenses in at the beginning of the mortgage financing process can help borrowers better assess their overall budget and a realistic monthly mortgage payment.
In reality, home buying is a very complex, tedious, and long process. It’s not like you just wake up one morning and realize you want to become a homeowner for the first time. It also comes with responsibilities, majority of which is financial. But then again, it is also very rewarding. You should consider it as an investment in the future.