real estate

improving home air quality

How to Improve Air Quality in Your Home

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The air quality of your home is more important than many people realize. If you have young children, the quality of the air in your home can affect their health and physical and mental development.

landscape of grass field under blue sky

Read our guide to find out what you can do to improve the air quality in your home and protect your family.

Keep it Clean

House cleaning and domestic chores can be a real pain. It feels like a job that never ends as there is always something that needs to be done to keep your home clean and tidy.

It is incredibly important to do, however, if you want to improve the air quality in your home. Dust and dirt are the primary air contaminants in any space, and the rooms in your home are no different. Try implementing a cleaning schedule in your home to make sure you stay on top of all of the chores. This can be great if you have children, as you can give them regular tasks to complete to help them maintain the home they live in and improve the air quality, which will benefit them the most.

Add Plants that Naturally Purify the Air

Plants can be very useful if you want to improve the air quality of a space and deal with odors. They can also add color and texture to your decor.

Not every plant offers these benefits. Flowers can actually decrease the air quality of a space by contaminating it with pollen, which can affect people with allergies and asthma, and by attracting insects or pests that can cause further problems. A great plant for air purification is Aloe Vera, which is also easy to maintain and very fashionable at the moment as it is a succulent plant. 

green leafed plant on clear glass vase filled with water

The leaves of the Aloe Vera plant have a large surface area, and so they absorb a lot of carbon dioxide from the air and release a large amount of oxygen for their size. They also have natural antibacterial properties, which is why it is used so much in hand soaps and natural cleansers, and this helps clean the air in the spaces they inhabit.

Invest in Air Purifiers and Fresh Filters

Air purifiers are a great addition to the home if you are suffering from poor air quality or struggling to deal with odors. 

A small air purifier is quite capable of purifying the air in any room or even a kitchen space and can give you the extra boost you need to get better quality air in the home. If you have air conditioning in your home, you should check your filters and replace them regularly. These can become blocked with contaminants over time and these particles will find their way around your home. Taking this simple step can improve the air quality in your home massively.

Clean Furniture and Fabrics Regularly

The furniture in our homes, such as sofas, chairs, and mattresses, can become magnets for dust, dirt, and contaminants. Regularly cleaning these furniture items should be one of your household chores if you want to improve your air quality.

Steam cleaning and vacuuming can be very effective at combatting this. You should also take some time to investigate what your home furnishings are made from. Some sofas and mattresses, particularly older ones, have been made with materials that can degrade over time and release toxins into the air. There are some modern mattresses available that are made from non-toxic materials and work at improving air quality while you sleep! Check what your mattress is made from and make sure you are getting the best possible air quality while you rest.

By taking just a few of these steps, you can make a massive improvement to the quality of the air in your home and reduce the number of airborne contaminants that can affect the health of you and your family.

Curb Appeal Upgrades for 2020 Sellers

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Are you looking at selling your home? Or are you simply wanting to do renovations? Whatever the case, we all like to have an attractive curb appeal. Everybody likes to have a nice front yard. Having an attractive curb appeal and a nice front yard are what will help homeowners to attract potential buyers. It will also help real estate agents to sell your home for you.

white and black house near to pond

Improving the curb appeal of your home is not as hard as you might think. In this article, we will have a look at how to Improve the Curb Appeal of Your Home, whether you are selling your home in New York or in Canadian regions like luxury North Vancouver homes. We hope these ideas will inspire you to give them a go.

Give The Front Porch a Fresh Coat of Paint

Giving the front porch a fresh coat of paint will hide any noticeable wear and tare that may be lurking on your house. It will also make it look as though you care about the appearance of your house rather than let it age and look run down. Why not get creative with whatever design you decide to use. You could even get adventurous with the color of paint that you select as well. If you are not sure on what paint color to use, you can call in a professional to help you with this. Don’t be afraid to get second opinions before going ahead with painting.

Front Yard

The front yard is one of the first things that people see when they drive or walk past our homes. It can leave a good impression or it can leave a bad impression of your home and property. Giving your front yard a makeover is well worth the effort. From plants, to landscape lighting, to perfect symmetry, these can all drastically improve your front yard.

Planting Bed, Plants, Potted Plants and Flowers

Consider planting a variety of plants, potted plants, flowers and perhaps even a planting bed in your front yard. There are so many options that you can choose from so why not get creative in this. Again, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from someone professional if you don’t know much about gardening. Whether you have a small yard or a large yard, you can be sure that there will be something suitable to plant in them. You never know, you may soon fall in love with your new gardens and find yourself out in them every day.

Bird Feeders

Bird feeders make for fantastic decorations. From small bird feeders to large bird feeders, you can place them anywhere in any yard. If you have a love for birds and they do not come to your home, then this could be one way to attract them. Bird feeders can also come with water fountains that can be filled with water. The rain can also fill these feeders up. This will allow the birds to come and drink from your bird feeder and enjoy the yard that you have created.

Front Porch and Front Door

The front porch and front door are just as important as the front yard. This is the first place that people step on to before coming into your home. If you want to attract people in to your home, then the front porch should be designed to be attractive. It should also be kept neat, clean and tidy. Choose an attractive paint color and design for the front porch and front door. They should blend in well with each other. The door itself can also have its own special and unique design.

Install Window Boxes

If suitable, window boxes can also be installed on to the front porch of your home. These will allow you to have even more room for plants, flowers or herbs in them giving you more space to bring nature into you front porch. It is not as hard as you might think to install window boxes on to the front porch of your home.

Outdoor Lighting

We all need to see where we are going if outside after dark. Outdoor lighting also needs to be considered. Not only for the front yard also for the backyard. The lighting could simply be under your porches, or it could also be included in other areas of the yard. From large lights, to small lights, to lanterns and fairy lights. There is a wide range of outdoor lighting that you can choose from to help make your yards and porches attractive. As Garage is important too, you can also buy Garage doors online to enhance the beauty of the backyard.

Home Buyers

If you are going to be selling your home, you want to be sure to attract home buyers. You will not attract home buyers if you do not make the necessary home improvements to your home. You can be sure that real estate agents will know what they are looking for if you want them to sell your home for you. They will also be able to tell you what you need to do to make your home look appealing. The home’s curb appeal really has to be attractive enough for potential buyers.

Preparing your home for sale, requires time and effort. Don’t be afraid to start as early as possible. Do as much research as you can for design ideas. Don’t be afraid to go to professionals for help. They will be able to give you the best advice possible as to how you can Improve the Curb Appeal of Your Home.

You can be sure that by doing all of the above will help you to boost your home’s curb appeal. You might even find yourself pleasantly surprised as to just how quickly you will be able to sell your home by making the necessary home improvements. Preparing your home in this way will be well worth the time and effort that you put into it.

pipes and plumbing

Should A Landlord Take Care Of Pipes And Plumbing?

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Say you’ve invested in real estate and rented out your property to a tenant and one day you get a message that there are a broken pipe and plumbing issues in your renter’s home. If you’re new to being a landlord, you might be wondering to yourself if that responsibility falls under you, or if your tenant has to maintain upkeep.

white and red wooden house miniature on brown table

Being a landlord is no easy feat as there are a plethora of property management responsibilities that fall on your shoulders. To help, this guide will provide you with some insight into what you should do if a situation like the above were to occur. That way, you’d be more prepared to handle various circumstances and avoid unnecessary issues with your tenants. 

What does the law say?  

While this can vary in different countries and states, it’s generally dictated that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to repair both the pipes and the plumbing in a rental unit, while providing proper maintenance to ensure that they’re in tip-top shape. This obligation falls under two theories of the lease requiring it, and something is known as the “implied warranty of habitability.” 

selective focus photography of three books beside opened notebook

What happens if it has been violated?  

With a lease, it’s usually either a written or verbal agreement where the renter agrees to pay a stipulated amount of money for the rent to obtain the premise in a habitable condition. In the UK this is referred to as a tenancy agreement. In the US, many call it a lease agreement. 

red and blue love neon light signage

If the home that they’re renting is not maintained in the condition which is agreed upon – such as clogged waste disposal or improper plumbing, then this is considered a violation of the lease. With that, the occupant can choose to enforce it against you, as they’re not getting what they paid for. 

As for the second theory, it essentially refers to the rental unit needing to be safely habitable. This includes not having mold in the home to having working plumbing. For this particular theory, however, you don’t have to fix anything minor such as a drip. However, if there are larger plumbing issues that are affecting both the habitability and health of the occupant, then it must be addressed immediately. 

If not, the individual renting the unit can choose to pay rent into escrow until repairs have been completed. This not only pertains to plumbing, but also other issues like spaces within the property – such as the kitchen and bathroom not being properly maintained. In this instance, you should help in remodeling the space and convert it into something that’s aesthetically-pleasing and most importantly, safe. 

What if something serious happens? 

While one can hope it never happens, sometimes a massive leak can occur – resulting in the damage of belongings. In such a scenario, you would have violated a duty in maintenance which can be considered as legally negligent. When this occurs, you would need to pay for any losses which could encapsulate property damage, and any additional costs and expenses incurred. 

water coming out from gray pipe

It doesn’t just all fall on you though, the tenant also has to act responsibly and notify you early to alleviate the condition. If the water leak or plumbing issue occurred even with proper maintenance, or the occupant did something to cause the problem, then you’d be able to avoid responsibility altogether.  

Summing up

The best thing to do is to avoid such a situation from happening at all. While accidents do happen sometimes, it’s your obligation as a landlord to minimize such incidents. Before renting out your property, check that there are no maintenance issues and that all repairs have been made. After the property has been rented out, the tenant should also be made aware that if anything urgent were to happen such as a burst pipe or electrical problems, the occupant needs to alert you immediately.  

It’s a two-way relationship between you and whoever you’re renting to. Just as you’re making an effort to provide them with a comfortable living space, they should also help with maintaining the premise and common areas. With proper communication and both parties doing their part, it can reduce confusion and prevent any misunderstandings down the line.

managing rental properties

How the Right Tools are Saving Landlords Thousands Each Year

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Running a rental is like running any other business.

It requires attention to detail, careful accounting, and lean business practices. Having the right tools can mean the difference between profit and loss. There are numerous expenses that landlords need to keep track of, for example, in order to make the most of their deductions in their tax return. 

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In this article, we explore how you can employ tools across the management of your real estate portfolio to save both time and money. 

Reduce Unnecessary Overheads

The first step that any financial advisor, any wealth-building blog or book will tell you is to cut your expenses, spend less so that you have more to invest. When thinking about improving the profitability of a rental portfolio this comes down to carefully scrutinizing your expenses and determining methods for reducing overheads.

If you cover utilities, for example, you might look for a new energy provider. One key expense for landlords is property managers. Often they take upwards of 10% of the monthly revenue plus expenses and additional costs for things like finding tenants. For some, the time they save is worth the price, however, if you are looking to cut overheads there are numerous tools on the market designed to allow landlords to self-manage, cutting their monthly management costs by a factor of ten or more.

Automate Tasks

Time is money, as they say. As your portfolio grows it will begin to consume more and more of your time. Whether it’s responding to requests from tenants, chasing up late rent payments, or managing your books, it can quickly add stress and take you away from those tasks which will actually help you build wealth.

The right tools will allow you to automate or simplify time-consuming tasks while simultaneously ensuring you maintain high professional standards across your rental portfolio management even as you’re reducing time and overall management costs.

Track Expenses as they Happen

Another reason to take a more hands-on approach when managing your portfolio is the additional tax benefits. Landlords can deduct up to $25,000 worth of expenses against their income each year. To take full advantage of the tax benefits, whether it’s mileage, tools and maintenance expenses, or depreciation, you need to ensure that you carefully and accurately track every deductible expense.  

When you use a property management app, you can quickly update your accounts on the go, digitize and store receipts in the app, organize emails to your tenants, set reminders so you never forget important appointments, and more.

Ultimately, what this means is you avoid the massive accounting tasks at the end of the month (or year) and you ensure you never miss a deductible expense.

Reduce Legal Fees

There are legal implications that come with owning and renting out a property. The most obvious example is of course evictions. They are an unfortunate reality for landlords. Even the best tenants, if hit by hard times may not be able to pay their rent. In this scenario, if you don’t have all the proper legal documentation you could be in for an expensive legal battle.

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Your lease agreement, for example, needs to clearly stipulate everything from rent amount and due date to your policies on smoking and pets, and clearly outline your policies around subletting. Beyond that, there are inspection forms, notices, eviction forms, rent increase forms, transfer of title documents. 

Everything you do as a landlord should be done in compliance with the law – ignorance is no excuse. The right tools and services will inform and educate while offering cost-effective solutions to creating or obtaining legal documentation. That in the long run could save you thousands in fees.

Refinancing Options

Refinancing your properties at the right time can be a great way to save money or find additional funds for further growth. For example, mortgage rates hit record lows in falling below 3% in 2020 and many landlords leapt at the opportunity to secure better interest rates.

person holding paper near pen and calculator

When it comes to refinancing you need to make sure you have all the data and documentation ready to prove the rental income is dependable – to essentially prove that you are a good investment for the bank. Documents you need will include an up to date profit and loss statement. This is where an effective income and expense tracker comes in.

Final Words

A landlord’s profits can be tenuous.

Taxes, fees, maintenance costs, vacancies, and missed rent payments can all see those profits disappear as though into thin air. Managing these expenses and staying on top of them using an effective property management software like Landlord Studio and taking relevant precautions will help you mitigate risks and ensure profitability.

Additionally, it is absolutely essential for a landlord to understand and take full advantage of the tax advantages which come with being a landlord. 

Who Takes Care of Plumbing Maintenance in a Rental?

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Rental agreements and rights for landlords and tenants is a topic that is usually a bit of a grey area, with plenty of stories of landlords and tenants doing the wrong thing. 

Who is responsible for a leaking tap, and what is fair when it comes to damage vs. wear and tear in a tenancy arrangement? We explore this topic in this article and provide valuable information on where the responsibilities fall for each party. 

brown plastic bucket near white framed glass door

What are the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords?

The rights of both parties will be outlined in the legally binding tenancy agreement signed and provided upon the commencement of the tenancy. 

It is important that both parties review and understand all of the outlined information in the tenancy agreement to ensure there are no surprises in the event of repairs, maintenance, and even ongoing maintenance of the property. 

The law and the state rental legislation can be found within the tenancy agreement and the document will outline everything both parties should be aware of, from emergency plumbing contacts, through to who covers the water bill, the condition report, and much more. 

In these cases, an emergency plumber should be called to help solve the plumbing issue and minimize the damage.

Who is at fault if there is a plumbing emergency in a rental property? 

Plumbing emergencies are a pain, no matter what the situation, and it should be very clear of what the tenant covers in this situation and what the landlord needs to pay for in a plumbing emergency. 

Be aware that if the following issues are usually covered by the landlord in the residential tenancy act:

  • Broken or burst pipes
  • Broken or blocked toilets or sinks
  • Burst water services 
  • Flooding of the property
  • Leaks in the roof
  • Leaking tap
  • Storm damage to the property 

In these cases, an emergency plumber should be called to help solve the plumbing issue and minimize the damage. 

When is a plumbing issue emergency and when is it maintenance? 

If the issue is considered maintenance and non-urgent, this is also carried out on the landlord’s behalf, however, it is not usually taken care of by an emergency plumber and usually sorted in around 48 hours or so. 

The landlord has a responsibility to ensure the property is safe for the tenant, and while there may be ongoing repairs and maintenance, if the issue is caused by misuse on the tenant’s behalf, they can be sent the bill for repairs. 

You can check with a plumber to see if the repairs are something that needs to be actioned immediately or if they can wait to be accessed by the landlord and taken care of by a registered plumber within 2 days. Landlords do have a duty of care, and it is important to note, if repairs or maintenance are not attended to in a timely fashion, the landlord can be slapped with fines.

Relocation Tips for 2020: Moving Advice After a New Purchase

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2 Boys and Girl Sitting on Brown Cardboard Box

Let’s admit that moving is possibly one of the most exhausting and overwhelming tasks. Just thinking about packing, organizing, and bribing your friends to help with your stuff is stressful. And not to mention how thinking about transportation and setting up all over again is enough to worry.

Initially, when you or someone in your family decides to relocate, there are tons of questions popping into your head like: How will you pack everything up? Is there a right way? How much will everything cost? How can you prepare yourself if something goes wrong?  If that’s the case and you’re looking for ways to help make your move less stressful and more comfortable, keep reading. Here are some things to do when moving into a new house;

Get Organized from the Get-Go

As a rule, you need to remember to remain organized. Organization and proper placement/ management will help you avoid any mishaps or last-minute anxiety attacks. Unless you are leaving in a hurry, the chances are that you will have more than a month to plan. So here’s what you should do;

  • Get Boxes: Be thrifty and get your hands on as many moving boxes as you can. Most local stores and warehouses have them for free, and you can also check a couple of websites.
  • Make a To-Do List: Making a To-Do list is one of the most straightforward things to help you keep track of everything. If you despise writing it down on a paper or notepad, make one on your phone. Make elaborate lists and pen down everything you need to get through. Your listing should also consist of companies and numbers that you require to help you move. For instance, transport providers and furniture movers are a necessary consideration for relocation.
  • Map out Your Strategy: It would be best if you worked everything out before you start packing. If you only have to make a shorter move, ask your friends around, see if they would be available to help you move.

Keep Your Movers Updated

Small boxes are one thing, but heavy furniture is a whole other story, and for that, you need movers. Please communicate with your movers to let them know what you expect from them during the move. If you have any delicate decorative pieces that require caution, you need to mention beforehand. These details are crucial for a smooth transition and a proper estimation of the total cost. They need to know how many and how heavy some of the things are so they can arrange equipment for it timely.

Picking the Right Transportation

Among many things to do when moving into a new house, picking the right transportation for a smooth transition is vital. You need to choose the right truck size so all your things can get transported in one go.

  • Recommended Guidelines: In general, a 16′ cube truck is perfect for a one-bedroom apartment. 24-26′ vehicles will help transport 2-3 fully furnished bedrooms in one go.

Get Rid of What You Don’t need

Moving allows you to get rid of things hidden in your attic for ages. It is a great time to go through old clothes, books, furniture, and utensils to see what you need and don’t need. You can arrange them in different categories and have your very own garage sale. You can also sell some stuff household things and clothes online, or you can choose to donate to Goodwill. Many old magazines, pamphlets, old books, and notebooks can get recycled into new paper.

You Need a Packing Kit

Crop man taping carrying box with scotch

If multiple people are helping you pack, establish a system. Mark or label boxes with delicate items and keep tape and newspapers with more packing material to secure everything. It will help you divide the job and assign different roles to people. You will get done sooner than you initially planned.

Go Green

Granite Buddha bust in cardboard package

Moving day will be messy in terms of the amount of rubbish you will be leaving behind. Invest in some reusable plastic bins. It is hard to arrange things the minute you unload them, so reusable plastic containers can be their new home till you can find the time to arrange them in their proper place. Instead of bubble wrap, you can use linen cloths or hay for wrapping your breakables.

Taking Inventory

Taking inventory is very important among things to do when moving into a new house, especially if you’re hiring a moving company. A record of your household things and your boxes is useful in case anything goes missing.

You can either add it on paper or print out a spreadsheet and assign it to every box. With each number assigned, mention which contents are in the box. Not only will this making loading and tracking easy, but you’ll be able to easily find necessary items once you are in your new home. 

Label Your Boxes

Boxes, Moving, Moving Boxes, Cardboard, House, Home

It’s time for all nerds to shine and get their label makers out. Labeling boxes is essential because it helps you keep track of and manage inventory. You can use even a standard Sharpie marker, but remember to label all sides of the box.

A Moving Day Kit is Important

The day of your move will be hectic. Make sure to prepare your very own kit to help you along this tiresome journey. Your package should contain water bottles, some snack bars, soap, torches, sanitizer, toilet paper, trash bags, and a fresh change of clothes.

Move Back Your Delivery Date

If you’ve booked a few orders for furniture sets or anything you need at the new house, make sure you call them and update your status. Ask it to be delivered a day or two after your moving date to focus on the task.

Don’t Use Trash bags for Packing

Do not use trash bags for packing your clothes. You might confuse it with actual trash and accidentally throw it out

Find a Pet Sitter

Pets are susceptible and can be easily disturbed or traumatized by the move. Leave your pet over at a friend’s house, a friend that your pet is familiar with, or find a professional pet sitter. Make sure you arrange the time and get all details before the day of the move.  

Treat the people working hard for you

If your friends come over to help or have hired professionals, make sure that you take care of them. Set aside an area where they can rest and have refreshments available at all times. Order some food to show your appreciation.

Inform Your Neighbors

Moving may be hard for you, but it is also a very noisy task. The day before the move, visit your neighbors to say goodbye, and during the conversation, mention that you’ll be moving out tomorrow, and there might be a lot of vehicles.

Make sure your truck isn’t blocking anyone’s way. If you’re moving out during winters, it’s smart to clean the driveway and get rid of hard ice or snow. You could potentially slow down your move if you don’t plan.

Conclusion

Moving does not have to be tiring and boring. You can make it fun and enjoy the process. While relocating is hard, following proper steps and doing things the right way can help you make your move a lot less messy than it needs to be.

Must-Have Living Room Essentials: Sofas, Chairs and Ottomans

1000 500 Sam Radbil

Starting from scratch on furnishing a new living room can be daunting, to say the least. You’ve likely just gone through a long moving process only to realize that you’re now starting over with a new to-do list, and may be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of playing interior designer in your empty living space. 

Well, first things first: you’re not alone. While looking at a sparsely furnished room can induce that feeling of looking at a blank page, there are a few tried-and-true steps you can follow to piece together a living room design, from the sofa to the accent pieces, that feels one hundred percent uniquely yours – one that brings you joy for every moment spent in it.

INTRODUCING: THE THREE UPHOLSTERY HEAVYWEIGHTS

Before you get excited and start thinking about the finishing touches: things like the artwork, coffee table books, window treatments, and more, it’s typically easiest to get the biggest pieces of the puzzle in place first. A good rule of thumb is to work from largest to smallest: starting with the sofa, moving to the chairs, and finishing with the ottomans. These foundational elements will all influencer one another, as well as the more decorative touches in the room, and because they will be the standout (not to mention, the most necessary for daily use) features, that’s the place most people start. 

THE CENTERPIECE: YOUR SOFA

Different Sofa Styles

Sectionals, modern sofas, slipcovered sofas, sleeper sofas, and more. The options seem endless. However, figuring out which sofa best fits your lifestyle is easier than it sounds if you just start by process of elimination. When it comes to the style of your sofa, can probably make some pretty quick cuts upfront based on your unique priorities. 

First, start with the non-negotiable factors. For example, are you working with a vast living space, or a smaller studio apartment? Space constraints will dictate whether a two-seater tuxedo sofa or a much larger sectional is the best option. Next, consider what type of usage will your sofa get. Do you have a big family that likes to gather for movie nights, or are you often hosting guests and in need of a sofa-turned-bed for them to crash? And lastly, what is your personal style? Are you going for a more traditional or coastal vibe (slipcover sofa), or a modern, sleek aesthetic (modern sofa)? These questions will help narrow your list fairly quickly, so you can move onto the fun stuff: fabric.

Figuring Out Fabric

Upholstery choice is where you have the option to truly design the custom sofa of your dreams. If you aren’t sure where to start – from pattern to leather, linen to velvet – not a problem. Again, start with the basics: what kind of usage will the sofa get? If you have kids and pets, consider that as a factor in color and material. Complex patterns are excellent stain and pet hair concealers, vs. a solid-colored sofa. Do have allergies or live in a particularly warm climate? Leather resists allergens and remains cool in warmer months. Do you love feeling soft and sumptuous to-the-touch when sitting on a sofa? Then performance velvet may be your coziest bet.

And, like all upholstery choices, you can order swatches to get a true IRL look-and-feel for the fabric before you commit.

THE ACCENT: YOUR CHAIRS

Once you’ve nailed the sofa, you’re onto the accent chairs. By themselves or in a pair, accent chairs not only offer the practicality of extra seating, but also a complimentary design element to any living room. 

Types of Chairs

There are endless styles of chairs that could work in a living room, but three of the most iconic styles are the tuxedo chair, the cocktail chair, and the slipper chair. 

  • The tuxedo chair is sleek, tailored, and timeless. These modern, geometric club chairs are the furniture equivalent to the classic suit. With a deep seat and robust arms, they make the perfect reading chair for cozying up next to a window or a fireplace. They also work particularly well as a home office duo.
  • The cocktail chair is an elegant armchair that’s reminiscent of mid-century cocktail furnishings when entertaining was every day. With a smaller footprint than the tuxedo chair, a cocktail chair is more of a space-saving accent with a fun and versatile flair.
  • Unlike the tuxedo chair and cocktail chair, the slipper chair sits lower to the ground and lacks arms. The slipper chair made its debut in the early 1700s (whose name derives from the spot that women would put on their slippers) and has since become a favorite amongst decorators for its versatility, shape, and size.

Picking the Perfect Accents

The possible sofa / chair combinations are endless, and we personally believe there are no rules or must-follow design trends: only what makes you happy. However, if you’re grasping for a place to start, here are a few interior design guidelines to consider. 

First, scale. Consider size & proportions, so that one piece of furniture isn’t completely visually overtaking the others. In this same vein, consider seat height and try to keep them relatively consistent. You don’t want guests looking up or down at one another during conversation.

And finally, fabric. If you’re aiming for the tried-and-true pairing method, choose complementary fabrics. If you opted for a solid sofa, consider a pair of chairs in a pattern, such as a ticking stripe. Or, if you love a pattern-on-pattern look, choose patterns in different scales from the same color family. And hey – if you want to go for the matchy-matchy looks with the same pattern on each, remember what we said… the only rule is doing what brings you joy!

THE ALL-IN-ONE: YOUR OTTOMANS 

The ottoman is one of our favorite living room design elements, solely for its versatility. There is hardly a piece of furniture that punches above its weight quite like the ottoman does. Used for sneaky storage, last-minute seating and visual intrigue, the ottoman can also moonlight as an end table, a coffee table and a footrest. Need we say more?

Types of Ottomans

It’s no exaggeration to say that ottomans come in ALL shapes and sizes. In picking the right ottoman (or, pair of ottomans) for your living room, consider first your most functional needs. Is hidden storage important to you, perhaps for those kids’ toys or extra throw blankets? Then a storage ottoman is a no-brainer. If you’re looking for a classic shape that can be easily stowed away under a console for added visual effect when not in use, then a pair of x-benches is your best bet. 

Regardless of the style you land on, one thing is definite: ottomans are better as pairs. If you didn’t have the space for a chair duo, this could be your opportunity to double up. And finally, when it comes to picking a fabric, use the same rules of thumb as you did for chairs above. If you’re choosing fabrics or patterns that make you happy, that will be reflected in your space.

A Debate: Cocktail Ottoman vs. Coffee Table

That brings us to our final discussion point – one where there is no right answer, but that you’ll likely have to consider as part of the finishing touches on your living space. The question becomes: do you opt for a traditional coffee table, or instead use a cocktail ottoman in its place?

As with everything in interior design, there is no right or wrong answer, and each point is subjective. However, there are a few obvious differences between the two that are worth noting. For one, a cocktail ottoman gives you the opportunity to choose custom upholstery for your piece, thus allowing more flexibility to personalize as part of your overall living room design scheme. On the other hand, a coffee table is often wood-based, offering an aesthetic that can’t as easily be customized. 

Finally, the major point of differentiation – and the reason people often opt for the less-traditional cocktail ottoman – is when there are little kids in the mix. As any parent knows, sharp corners are the enemy. Because a cocktail ottoman is upholstered, kids who are just learning to walk (or, when they’re a bit older, using every space in your house as a jungle gym), they’re generally a safer option.

4 Tips that Coud Reduce Future Home Maintenance

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Staying current with the upkeep of a house is no picnic. Ideas that seem good at the time may end up being a headache to perform maintenance or general upkeep thereafter.

To have more time on the weekend to yourself and make sure you are not stuck dealing with endless home maintenance, it pays to plan. Here are 4 house upgrade tips that should reduce maintenance requirements. 

Garden, Yard, Courtyard, Back Garden, Flowers, Grass

Fix Any Plumbing Issues

Plumbing issues that continue to be problematic aren’t going to go away. For instance, a leaky faucet won’t suddenly get fixed by itself and no longer stop leaking. It is likely to become worse over time. Also, it may be an indication of other problems with an older bathroom that’s poorly constructed such as bad pipes and water leaking to the floor below.

By tackling plumbing problems or getting in a certified professional plumber to do so, it can ward off potentially far worse problems down the line. Water damage can be catastrophic for home values and could make the space unlivable if a flood were to happen while you were away. 

Install Vinyl Siding

Bare exterior walls may look pretty, but they leave the brickwork exposed to the elements. This includes dirt, snow, wind, and more. The potential to have moisture get into the brickwork and create future problems is present in this scenario. 

Using vinyl siding fitted to the exterior walls of your home reduces the risks of exterior conditions cause a problem. They’re more durable and protective than the wooden siding, they handle high winds better, and don’t require painting either. It’s available in a variety of colors to match the exterior of the house too.

The maintenance is also low because the color doesn’t lose its crispness and it is easily cleaned too. Furthermore, replacement siding goes over the top of newer vinyl sidings, making its future replacement an easier installation too. 

Add Landscape Gardening

Adding some landscape gardening acts to break up a garden into small areas that are easier to manage. Not only does the lawn become a small area to deal with, but it provides distinctive areas for different plant life which cuts down on the physical pace left for a lawn

Also, when choosing plants that are durable and don’t need as much care and attention to flourish, it limits the amount of necessary gardening time on otherwise busy weekends too. 

Use Longer Life Lightbulbs

Having light bulbs die on you too frequently is a pain. Where do you keep the spare bulbs again? Is it a good time to balance on the chair to reach the light bulb to change it or should you wait until you’ve had breakfast first?

Longer-lasting eco bulbs have 3-20 times the duration of older incandescent light bulbs. This means changing a bulb won’t be necessary anywhere near as often as before. At least that’s one less thing on the honey-do list to get done. 

By strategically choosing the changes to make, it’s possible to cut back on the time spent tending to your home each weekend. Then you can finally relax more. 

home selling secrets

Hidden Secrets of the Home Selling Process in 2020

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This is often a question we ask ourselves if we need the money right away. Oftentimes we price our house too high due to the value it has for us. That is why sellers would often result in listing their house as it offers more money on the table.

Though the home selling process through listing takes a lot of time. With more work needed to be done, the longer the process, the more emotional you become. Direct selling your house would make you a considerable amount of money with fewer expenses. A local trusted buyer like United Home Offer would give you the possible offer you can have without breaking the bank.

If you have decided to go through the home selling process (even if it’s virtual) through listing, below is the guide for home selling:

Decide if You’re Looking For an Agent

The process of home selling can be tedious, stressful, and time-consuming. Deciding to have an agent is one of the first decisions you should make. Asking yourself if you would want to pay at least 3 to 6 percent of the findal price? Will the agent be able to provide all the necessary guidance and advice? Will you be able to get an agent that suits your personality? Discussing the pros and cons of seeking an agent with your friends and family will give you more inputs.

Deciding on the Final Selling Price

Deciding on competitive pricing is the first step in your marketing plan. The value of your house depends on location, condition, amenities, and warranty. Sentimental value is not one of them but it might cloud your judgment. An agent could conduct a market analysis to recommend the best price for your house. Because of the current decline in house sales, the median home in Texas is now at $247,400.

Prepare Your Marketing Plan

A listing agent should be able to ensure that your home is visible for potential buyers. Digital marketing has made selling your house to clients a lot easier in recent years. The internet, social media, and real estate websites have become suitable platforms in showcasing your house for sale. 

Before deciding an agent, you should discuss what marketing strategy he can offer. A unique and structured marketing plan will allow you to draw more potential buyers.

Preparing Your Home for a Makeover

Direct buyers should be able to buy your house without any renovations. But listing it would need you to prepare your house for your clients. First impressions count, spend time to clean, paint, and refresh your homes. A list of guidelines can also be given to you by your agent.

Open House and Showings

An agent would suggest you leave home if it is already listed. The sentimental value you have would prevent you from removing some personal items. Even though you might be the most competent person to showcase your home, it might not be a good idea. Instead of creating a welcoming environment, it may signal clients that you do not want to leave the house. An agent would be able to professionally discuss it with potential buyers

Never Hesitate to Negotiate

After days, weeks, months of waiting for potential clients, having one might make you hesitate to negotiate. But the best thing about listing your home in a listing market is that there is room for negotiation. Always remember that a reasonably priced house in a desirable location would have a lot more offers.  Avoid settling for bad offers. Let your agents list down the best offers and decide on what counter offer you would make.

Moving Out

Upon agreeing on the final selling price with the buyer, the escrow period would start. The period of finishing your documentation, scheduling for appraisal, and property inspection. To shorten this period, all documents should be prepared and most of your things are out of the house.

Prepare for a Property Appraiser

To make sure that the final selling price matches the actual value of the house, a property appraiser is called upon. Be sure to sustain the cleanliness of the house until the closing of the purchase. Cooperate with the property appraiser to avoid any complications with the sale. If a buyer backs out due to the inspection, raise this to your agent for your rights.

The Home Inspection

Pre-selling inspection is a good investment, it would address existing defects of your home. It would also shorten the listing to the closing period. A purchase agreement contingency would allow a buyer to back out. Major undeclared flows can be a reason for a buyer to back out. That is why inspection before selling gives you the benefit of addressing the defect. If all contingencies were met, remind the buyer to lift it in writing.

It’s Closing Time

As the day of the final step has come, both buyers and sellers can start relaxing. Your agent Should guide you with all the documentation, and paperwork needed to be signed during the closing meeting. During the meeting, prepare yourself for the final time you would be seeing your home. After a lot of signatures and verification done by both parties, the house is now officially sold.

Wrapping It Up

The process of home selling is tedious. It often cannot answer the question of how to sell your house fast. A lot of the processes can be shortened with proper guidance and preparations. You might be able to get your desired final selling price if you have stuck with the process. But due to the expenses, one might think that all of that work is not worth it. With United Home Offer, you can sell your house fast with fewer expenses. You might be able to get more than the final cut of your selling price.

home foreclosure

The Impact of COVID-19 on Mortgage Foreclosures in 2020

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The pandemic has put our economy in a tailspin, and many of us are out of work. Thankfully the federal government and housing agencies, as well as mortgage lenders and servicers, have taken action to protect homeowners from foreclosure during this crisis.

mortgage Scrabble tiles

This article will outline federal protections for homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgage due to income loss caused by COVID-19 safe practices and distancing protocols, as well as mortgage relief options for all homeowners and how to obtain them.

I’ve Missed Mortgage Payments and am Afraid of Mortgage Foreclosure

First, know that mortgage foreclosure is a process that differs by state. Some states require a judicial proceeding to foreclose, others do not and allow servicers or lenders to mortgage foreclosure by right of contract.

According to Veronica Baxter, an established legal assistant to Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney David Offen says,”

“Under federal law, a lender or servicer cannot begin the state foreclosure process until your loan is more than 120 days past due. They are required to send you several notices in the meantime, explaining options for curing the default on the loan, requesting forbearance, requesting a loan modification, or enrolling in some other loss mitigation program. If foreclosure is imminent, it won’t come as a surprise to you.”

The pandemic has created a financial emergency for many families who were financially secure previously. Federal and state governments have stepped in to help.

Mortgage Foreclosures under the CARES Act

The CARES Act mandated a moratorium on foreclosures for 60 days after March 18, 2020. This means that your mortgage lender or loan servicer can not begin or continue a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or enter a foreclosure judgment, or sell a foreclosed at auction, for 60 days after March 18, 2020.

Those 60 days have expired. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) subsequently announced that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were extending the moratorium on foreclosures to May 17, 2020, and then June 30, 2020, and then August 31, 2020. The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has also imposed a moratorium on foreclosures on FHA-insured mortgages through August 31, 2020.

Mortgage Forbearance under the CARES Act

Just because mortgage lenders and servicers are prevented from foreclosing now does not mean that they can’t foreclose once the pandemic crisis is over, if you don’t make your payments or make arrangements for forbearance.

The CARES Act gave homeowners who are in financial distress due to COVID-19 the right to request payment forbearance for up to 180 days and to request a forbearance extension for another 180 days. However, this forbearance does not go into effect automatically – you must contact your lender or loan servicer to request it.=

Although forbearance does not come with any additional costs, fees, or penalties, interest does continue to accrue on your loan, and eventually, the missed payments must be paid.

How do I request mortgage forbearance?

Before you call your mortgage lender or servicer, have your account number handy and be ready to explain that you are in financial distress due to the pandemic. Chances are you will be on hold a while as many homeowners are in the same predicament as you are. When you get an agent on the phone, you will want to ask the following questions:

  • What are my options to temporarily reduce or suspend my monthly mortgage payments?
  • Am I eligible for forbearance, loan modification, or any other mortgage relief?

If you have already missed payments due to the pandemic, also ask if it is possible for the lender or servicer to waive any late charges that have accrued already.

Keep track of who you speak to and when, and once you are in forbearance or get a loan modification, be sure to get those arrangements in writing from your lender or servicer.

How do I repay the forbearance payments?

Generally, borrowers must repay forbearance payments either:

  • by paying one lump sum when the forbearance expires;
  • by adding an amount to the existing monthly payments over a set number of months;
  • by extending the loan term with additional monthly payments; 
  • by paying a lump sum at the end of the loan term.

Discuss your repayment options with your lender or servicer when you ask for forbearance, so there are no surprises. The following types of loans have these options:

Mortgages through Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

  • Borrowers may repay the past due amount within 12 months after forbearance terminates;
  • Borrowers may extend their mortgage term by the number of months in forbearance;
  • Borrowers may add the past due amount to the loan balance, and extend the term of the loan by the number of months necessary to make their monthly mortgage payment the same;
  • Borrowers may add the past due amount to the loan balance and extend the loan term for 40 years (480 months), lowering their monthly payment but paying more in interest.

FHA Mortgages

  • Borrowers may enter into a repayment plan apart from the mortgage payments, to repay the past due amount within 6 months after forbearance ends;
  • Borrowers may extend the loan term to 30 years (360 months) and add the past due amount to their monthly payments;
  • Borrowers can pay the past due amount in a  lump sum at the end of the loan term.

Veterans Administration (VA) Loans

  • Borrowers may enter into a repayment plan to repay past due amount within 6 months after forbearance ends;
  • Borrowers may add the past due amount to the loan balance and extend the loan term to 30 years (360 months);
  • Borrowers can cap payments 31% of gross income by extending the loan term to 30 years (360 months) with the option to forbear the principal.

What if my mortgage is not backed by the federal government? 

You may still be eligible for mortgage relief, whether it is forbearance or a loan modification. Contact your lender or servicer. Many financial institutions are working with their borrowers to weather the current crisis. There might be more detailed information about mortgage relief options on your lender or servicer’s website.

What if I can’t resume making mortgage payments when forbearance ends?

Again, contact your lender or servicer to find out what your options are. 

There is no telling when this health crisis will end and when the economy will recover. Mortgage relief options may be offered and extended into the foreseeable future. Whatever your circumstances, safeguard your good credit and your home by communicating with your servicer or lender. They will work with you because they would rather be paid than foreclose.