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  • 8 in 10 homeowners expect the value of their homes to go up either "a little" (55 percent) or "a lot" (26 percent) in the future.
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    July 23, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Balcony Overlooking Tiered Fireplace

    Photo from Houzz

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    July 22, 2014
    Inexpensive Staging Ideas

    Staging can either be the fun part of selling a house, or the most painful one. On one hand, it gives you the chance to transform your space: you can see it in sparkling, showroom quality for maybe the first time. It can be a moment of pride. On the other hand, staging often requires you to move out all of your personal belongings, rearrange everything, and even bring in outside décor. For those who don’t like change, it can be a challenge. However, staging is an effective way to sell your home more quickly. The best part is– it wont cost you a fortune. Most staging is done with finds from around the house. You may spend a few bucks on a can of paint or some decorative throw pillows from the thrift store, but in the end, it’s worth it. Check out this post by Debra Coe at Smart Real Estate Lady for some frugal staging tips:

    -Less is more: decluttering is the biggest key.

    -Deep cleaning after getting rid of clutter

    -Pick a color scheme for each room

    -Highlight the purpose of each room: make sure the table is the main focus of the dining room, etc. Remove all other furniture and distractions

    -Create warmth in your home: use warm color schemes, unlit candles, bust out the fireplace in winter, feature artwork depicting love and family… make the buyer feel at home.

    Photo Credit: Real Estaging 

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    July 21, 2014
    Building Up A Down Payment

    Buying a house can be a difficult process: you have to get your credit in order and determine how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can afford. However, one of the harder parts of the buying process is saving for that down payment. It can be anywhere from 3-10% of your home’s total value– if you looking for a more expensive place, that can be quite a financial chunk. So how do people do it? How do you pay rent at an apartment, buy gas and food, pay other bills…. and still put away a few thousand for a home? It may sound impossible, but it isn’t! You don’t even need to be making a ton of money– all it takes is some careful planning and budgeting. Check out this post by Kay Bell at Bankrate for some helpful tips:

    -Pay off credit card debt first

    -Ladder CDs to boost savings

    -Use government sponsored programs to your advantage

    -Tap Your IRA

    -Use Your 401K

    Some of those have a few drawbacks– here are some tips of my own:

    -Make saving a priority- every time you get extra money, put it towards your down payment.

    -Live below your means for now- to buy your dream house later.

    -Find small ways to increase your income: take more hours at work, pick up a part time job, or sell old stuff on Ebay– and put all the extra cash towards your down payment.

    Photo Credit: Sheila Sund 

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    July 18, 2014
    Friday Fun Video: Moving Organization For Smoother Unpacking

    Some really great tips here!

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    July 17, 2014
    For Renters: Get That Damage Deposit Back!

    I’ll let you all know where I’m at in my life right now: I’m in the process of moving out of my apartment to a new place closer to my job. It’s going well; I don’t have too much to pack up and I don’t mind the cleaning. The only thing I’m dreading is…. paying damages. You see, I have this adorable, amazing, destructive cat named Kevin. He has torn up the carpet, broken the window blinds, and ripped up two pieces of pre-furnished furniture. Yeah. So, I’m definitely not getting my deposit back, and I’ll probably have to pay for more. But I’ve accepted that, because I love my cat. However, even if you don’t have a demon cat that destroys everything in its path, it can still sometimes be difficult to get your deposit back. I don’t mean to sound snarky, but landlords are running a business; they will try to get as much money out of you as possible. If you leave anything dirty, anything broken, or anything behind– you can bet your bonnet that you will be charged. You have to be very meticulous and prepared to get that deposit back. Check out these tips by Jennifer Riner at Zillow:

    -I have taken pictures when doing a walk-through of an apartment. It really has saved me later on when I moved out and the owner claimed I owed money for damage that was already there.

    -The most common damages are usually stains to the carpet and screens. I also try to spot clean any stains on the carpet, so we are not charged.

    -Meet with the landlord on-site during move-in and move-out and get their assessment in writing of any damages they intend to levy. Also, check your local laws carefully to understand your rights.


    Pictured: Not my apartment, but it might as well be :)  

    Photo Credit: US Army Corps Of Engineers 

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    July 16, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Just Relaxing By The Pool

    Photo from Pinterest

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    July 15, 2014
    For Realtors: 3 Most Common Mistakes Of New Agents

    Starting out in real estate can be tricky, especially if you’re still learning everything. One of the downsides of a career in real estate is the start up money. In this case, the old saying “You have to spend money to make money,” is absolutely true. Plus, your “salary” isn’t even a salary -it’s all based on commission in a highly competitive field in a constantly fluctuating market. That being said, it’s no wonder that a lot of new agents…don’t make it. But- if you do your research, know what to expect, and stick with it- you can make it in the real estate world. Check out this post by Jim Droz at the House Hunt blog, for things to avoid as a new agent:

    Lack of training and experience: It is one thing to complete and pass your exams, but it’s another to utilize the lessons you learned during class and apply them to real life experiences. 

    Low on funds: According to Inman News, costs can range anywhere from $1,200-$2,000, and that includes MLS, NAR, state association and local association fees, marketing and advertising, business cards and lockboxes, among a list of other business expenses.

    Unrealistic expectations: Real estate shouldn’t be treated as a job, but rather a business

    Photo Credit: Rob Boudon 

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    July 14, 2014
    Bust That Clutter Before You Sell

    The fastest way to instantly turn buyers away is by having a messy, cluttered house. They want to be able to see themselves in your home; they do not want to picture themselves surrounded by mountains of junk. But, if you are like me, sometimes clutter just seems to accumulate around you. It’s not that I’m a messy person- I just love junky, kitschy things from Goodwill, used books, posters, board games, movies, scarves, jewelry… I just have a lot of odds and ends. But when you’re trying to sell, it’s time to box all that up! In fact, it’s even better to throw it away entirely or donate it– that way you don’t have to move it. Check out this post at Crate Hire UK for some useful decluttering tips:

    -Be realistic and set aside time to declutter before packing

    -Sort through everything and be ruthless!- If you haven’t worn or used it in over a year – get rid of it! 

    -Plan what you pack in advance and label everything

    Photo Credit: Evelyn Giggles 

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    July 11, 2014
    Friday Fun Video: Cute Little Beach House

    Why can’t I live here??

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    July 10, 2014
    How Not To Pick A Realtor

    Having a real estate agent is absolutely essential to the home buying process. But how do you pick the right one? The one with the most ads around town? The one that will take the lowest commission? Your cousin Jerry who just got his license? Well, turns out, some of those are not such great ideas. Check out this post by Bill Gassett at Max Real Estate Exposure for things to avoid when choosing a Realtor:

    -Do not recruit family or friends out of obligation- screen them as closely as any other agent.

    -Do not choose a “yes” man- make sure they know their stuff and do not simply agree with everything you say.

    -Don’t go with the one with the lowest commission- you get what you pay for.

    -ALWAYS look for references.

    Photo Credit: Miguel B 

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