How To Vet An Offer

Many sellers may be tempted to select the highest offer they receive, but there are several other factors to consider. Here are five areas important to evaluate.

Down payment. The size of the down payment should be heavily considered when comparing offers. It is often tied to the size of the loan the buyer is taking out and a larger one indicates higher financial stability.

Earnest money deposit. The EMD is the sum of cash the buyer is willing to put up when the sales agreement is signed to show their high level of interest in purchasing the home. If they back out of the transaction without a good reason, the seller typical keeps it, and if the sale goes through, it typically goes towards their down payment.

Contingencies. Contingencies are standard for most offers and outline the evaluations and appraisals that need to be completed before the sale is final, such as financing, appraisal, sale of current home, title, and home inspection. The fewer contingencies, the higher the chance of reaching the closing table.

All-cash offer. Not only does putting down an all-cash offer boost the likelihood of loan approval, but the buyer will not need an appraisal or financing contingency, reducing the chance of the sale falling through.

Closing date. Consideration of the closing date differs for each seller. For example, if you have already purchased a new home, you may want to close quickly. But, if you are waiting on the money from the sale to start house hunting, you may be okay with a slower settlement.

Going Green Starts In The Kitchen

Living an environmentally-friendly lifestyle and helping to keep our planet clean isn’t as difficult as you may think. All it takes is a few small tweaks. To start, here are five great tips for going green in your kitchen!

Filter your water. Not only does this allow you to remove contaminants like lead, chloroform, chlorine, etc. from your drinking water at home, but you can save money and reduce waste by avoiding bottled water. Choose between a water-filtering pitcher or faucet-mounted option.

Reduce water usage. It’s a common misconception that running your dishwasher uses a lot of water, when in fact, it generally uses less than hand washing dishes. Just make sure to only run it when full and use the light wash and air dry settings. You can also purchase a low-flow aerator for your kitchen faucet to cut down on water usage.

Avoid unnecessary packaging. When grocery shopping, avoid single-serving products and produce packaged in styrofoam and shrink-wrap to reduce waste. At home, opt for reusable containers, such as jars and Tupperware, instead of foil, plastic wrap, and Ziploc bags.

Switch your cooking appliances out. Instead of using your full-size oven, consider using a toaster oven, microwave, or slow cooker instead. These appliances use between 30 to 50 percent less energy to heat.

Buy local. Shopping at locally-sourced stores or farmers markets does not only allow you to support your neighbors and community but is sustainable for the environment. The food you purchase does not have to travel far to get to you, helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Organize Your Closet Like A Champ

Do you desire a closet that looks like it’s straight out of a magazine? Then we have you covered! Follow the tips below to masterfully organize your closet and give yourself peace of mind.

Group like clothing items together. Group same-length dresses, long-sleeved shirts, blouses, pants, etc. together in your closet to both save space and create an esthetically-pleasing look. Add an extra bar. Need more hanging room? You can find additional closet bars in-store or online for under $20 and installation is fairly quick and easy. Then hang t-shirts, blouses, jackets, and more on the lower bar.

Keep things uniform. Although you may have to spend a little more upfront, purchasing matching hangers, organizers, and storage boxes will give your closet a cleaner look.

Invest in special hangers, dividers, and organizers. Purchase a few items to make closet organization a breeze, such as a space-saving pants organizer, shelf dividers to keep t-shirts, towels, or sweaters in place, or multi-shirt hangers that can fit up to 5 garments on one.

Try color-coding. Feeling magically inspired? Try organizing your closet by color. You can even place the colors in order of the rainbow to help make dressing easier and more fun.

Get creative with shoe storage. Shoes can take up a lot of room and keeping the pile neat and tidy can be difficult. Consider purchasing a shoe organizer that hangs on your closet door or install rails on the wall to hang high heels. You can also purchase cubby shelving or a shoe carousel to be placed on the closet floor.

How Big Of A Home Do You Need?

When buying a new house, it’s easy to get distracted by size and think that bigger is better. However, depending on your situation, the opposite may be true.

So how can you determine if your new home is too small, too big, or “just right?” You’ll want to consider these elements.

What’s Your Long-Term Goal? How many years do you see yourself in this house? Is this the place where you want to raise your kids and retire? If not, then size shouldn’t be as crucial as you think. Consider the fact that you will likely move again, which means that you can upgrade in the future if necessary.

What’s Your Financial Limit? For the most part, you don’t want more home than you can truly afford. While you may be getting that promotion in a couple of months, you can’t buy now expecting to have more money in the bank later. Overextending your financial reach is always a bad move, so it’s best to avoid putting yourself (or your family) in that position.

How Many People are Living Here? In a perfect world, everyone would be able to have their own bedrooms, but when you have kids, that’s not always possible. When thinking about this situation, consider how imperative it is to have sufficient space for everyone, and what it will do to your budget.

Overall, buying a home should be about your current needs and how you plan to grow into space in the future. Don’t buy big for the sake of showing off – in the end, you’ll probably regret it.

Ready To Go Rustic?

Rustic and farmhouse interior design are still in, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon! If you’re ready to hop on board this trend, try introducing some of these favorite ideas into a room in your home. Take a look below!

Exposed wood. Whether you implement this in a small way, such as a coffee table, headboard, or chair, or go big with your remodel and add wooden beams or create a plank accent wall, exposed wood is essential to a rustic-style room. Make sure to combine various wood grains, colors, and finishes to add more depth and texture.

Fur. Whether you opt for real or faux, fur can be a unique feature piece and can bring together the room. Try a cowhide, bear, or sheepskin rug or purchase a fur throw for a couch or chair.

Accent materials. Incorporate iron or stone accents in furniture and décor, such as bar stools, coffee tables, overhead lighting, chandeliers, fireplaces, mantels, shelving, candleholders, and more.

Warm lighting. To give the room a cozy, relaxing feel, lean towards warm, yellow lightbulbs instead of LEDs or pick out some unique Edison bulbs for exposed lamps and decorative overhead lighting.

Small details. The magic is in the small details. Paint wood panels white or gray and letter your favorite saying on top. Purchase wooden picture frames, farmhouse signs, terracotta pots, wood slices, and mason jars and arrange them around the room.

Bold patterns. Mismatched quilts, layered rag rugs, and check-print chairs or blankets are great additions to any rustic room.

How To Save Money While Landscaping

Revamping your landscaping can be a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money. So how can you give the exterior of your home a facelift without breaking the bank or taking out a second mortgage. There a many ways to cut costs on landscaping, including some of tips below!

Select perennial plants. Choosing perennial plants over annuals can help reduce both cost and time. These plants continue to bloom year over year with less upkeep so you won’t have to set aside more money for new plants and spend time replanting in the coming years.

Shop at the end of the season. Shop for plants, accessories, mulch, containers, and more towards the end of fall for the best savings. Most garden centers and nurseries are looking to clear out plants and tools before winter so you may be able to save up to 50 percent.

Creatively source materials. Often extra materials can be found at construction sites or other landscapers may be giving them away for discounted prices or even free on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Make sure you look around before paying full price for rocks, wood, gravel, and more.

Use a mix of materials. Building surfaces like pathways or patios can often carry a large price tag for both materials and installation. To reduce costs, consider mixing materials, such as gravel with pavers or concrete with cut stone, to create a unique surface for less.

Keep up maintenance. Taking care of your yard throughout the year can save you from high-cost repairs in the future. Make sure to weed regularly, reduce standing water, keep patios and pathways clean, and paint peeling fences.

Prepping To Buy Your First Home

One of the biggest milestones you will reach in your life will be deciding to become a homeowner. But before you take the leap, make sure you set yourself up for easy transaction and a good homebuying experience. Check out the tips below to ensure it!

Do your research. Familiarizing yourself with the home buying process before beginning your house hunt and finding a knowledgeable, experienced agent to represent you can make all the difference in securing your dream house and paying the best price for it.

Pay off other debts. Before you take on such a big, expensive purchase like buying a home, dedicate yourself to paying off your student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. Not only will this allow you to live more comfortably while you’re in your new home but it will allow you to be a better candidate for a home loan.

Save for the down payment. The majority of home buyers don’t pay in cash for their home, but the more you are able to put down, the better financial position you will be in. Create a budget early on, stick to it, and start saving well before you start seriously looking for your home. This will also help you determine the price range to search in.

Be patient. If this is your first home purchase, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming and you may feel like you’ll never find a home that meets your wish list and is in your price range. But don’t lose hope. Stay patient and trust the process and your agent.

How To Get Ready For Retirement

For most people, retirement feels like a long way off. But, if you don’t start preparing as early as possible, you may find yourself in a place of financial insecurity when the time does come. To avoid this, consider implementing the following tips.

Calculate your target savings. In general, it’s recommended that you save between 10 to 15 percent of your income for retirement. However, you can always use an online savings calculator to determine the amount you need to save for your specific needs and goals.

Contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan. Does your job offer a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA? Sign up and start saving as soon as they allow you to. It’s recommended to set up automatic paycheck deductions and, once the money is in your retirement fund, don’t touch it.

Take advantage of employee benefits. Many employers offer matching which generally requires you contribute a certain percentage of each paycheck and your company will then contribute a matching amount with funds of their own. They might also offer health savings or flexible savings account. By contributing to these accounts, you reduce your amount of taxable income, allowing you to save more money.

Pay off your debts. Start by paying off any high-interest credit card debt first. Then look at other debts, such as student loans and car payments, and make a plan for paying those off incrementally.

Reduce daily spending. Although this feels like a no-brainer, spending your money thoughtfully now can make a big impact later. Seek out areas of your life where you can cut costs and stick to a budget.

Prep Your Pets For The Big Move

Your moving day is set and it’s time to start preparing. As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to factor in your furry friends. Here are some tips for making sure the process goes smoothly.

Medical records. When moving to a different city or state, one of the main things you need to take into consideration is finding a new veterinarian that is the right fit for you and your pet. If you have family or friends in the area ask for recommendations or do your own research by reading reviews and news articles. Once you find one, contact your current vet to initiate a transfer of medical records. Then schedule a “get to know you” appointment shortly after your move.

Transportation. Whether it’s a short drive or a long plane ride, you pet will likely need to be put into a carrier. For most pets, this is a foreign concept and they require time to get comfortable with it. Start acclimating your pet as early as possible and use comfort items like treats and favorite toys and blankets to make the experience a positive one for your pet.

Acclimation. Pad your moving schedule with ample time to get your dog or cat acclimated to their new home. While the movers are still hard at work, keep them safely away from foot traffic to reduce stress. Once they’ve left, make sure to clear anything that could be dangerous and block off areas as necessary then let them free to get a lay of the land on their own.

Top Tips For Disinfecting Your Home

In the current world we live in, it’s incredibly important to put a focus on finding strategies to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. Although our homes should be our safe place, germs and bacteria can be carried in daily. Here are a few tips to rid your home of those contaminants.

Clean regularly touched surfaces. Although washing your hands regularly is a great habit, there is still a chance germs can be transferred to surfaces. Disinfect areas that are touched regularly, like handles, light switches, tables, and countertops, with a microfiber cloth dipped in hot water and all-purpose cleaner.

Wash dishes the right way. If you use a dishwasher, make sure the water temperature is set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and use detergent that lists chlorine bleach as an ingredient.

Disinfect soft surfaces in the living room. Although disinfecting tables, light switches, and lamps is a great starting place, be sure to focus on pillows, couches, and chairs too. Purchase a disinfecting spray that is meant for fabrics to kill lingering bacteria and read and follow the instructions carefully to ensure it is effective.

Don’t forget your devices. Sanitizing TV remotes, video game controllers, computer keyboards and mice, and cell phones is crucial. Use disinfecting wipes to carefully sanitize all surfaces and buttons or, if you don’t have wipes, spray disinfectant on a paper towel then wipe the device.

Properly sanitize your laundry. One of the easiest ways bacteria travels into the home is on clothing. Set your washing machine either to the sanitize setting, or if not applicable, the warmest water temperature and use a laundry sanitizer.