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Highlighting Minnesota Summers: A Realtor’s Guide

1000 500 Taylor Witt

Minnesota, affectionately known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” transforms into a vibrant playground during the summer months. With its lush landscapes, myriad lakes, and rich cultural offerings, there’s no shortage of activities to keep locals and visitors entertained. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature enthusiast, or someone who simply wants to soak up the sun, Minnesota has something to offer. Here are some of the best things to do in Minnesota during the summer.

And if you’re a Realtor looking to showcase the amazing summers in Minnesota, look no further than this complete guide of summer activities in the great state of Minnesota.

Enjoy Boating on Lake Minnetonka

a body of water surrounded by trees and rocks

Lake Minnetonka stands out as a premier destination for boating enthusiasts. This sprawling lake, located just west of Minneapolis, has been named the 43rd best boating city in America according to Get My Boat’s new 2024 rankings. With over 14,000 acres of water and more than 100 miles of shoreline, Lake Minnetonka offers endless opportunities for exploration and recreation.

Boaters can enjoy serene cruises, thrilling water sports, and scenic views of luxurious lakeside homes. Numerous marinas and public docks make it easy to access the lake, while various boat rental services cater to those without their own vessels. The lake is dotted with charming towns like Excelsior and Wayzata, where you can dock your boat and enjoy local dining, shopping, and entertainment. Whether you’re looking to fish, sail, or simply relax on the water, Lake Minnetonka is a must-visit summer destination.

Discover the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

a lake filled with lots of boats floating on top of it

For those who crave a more rugged adventure, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) offers a pristine escape. Located in northeastern Minnesota, this vast wilderness area encompasses over one million acres of forests, lakes, and rivers. It’s a paradise for canoeing, kayaking, and camping enthusiasts.

The BWCAW features a network of waterways that allows for extensive paddling routes. Visitors can embark on multi-day canoe trips, navigating through crystal-clear lakes and portaging between them. The area is also renowned for its fishing, with abundant populations of walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass. Camping under the stars and experiencing the call of the loons is an unforgettable experience, making the Boundary Waters a top summer destination.

Experience the Twin Cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul

aerial shot of concrete structures near body of water

Minnesota’s largest metropolitan area, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, offers a dynamic blend of urban attractions and natural beauty. Summer is an ideal time to explore the many parks, lakes, and cultural sites that these cities have to offer.

In Minneapolis, the Chain of Lakes – including Lake Calhoun (Bde Maka Ska), Lake Harriet, and Lake of the Isles – provides a scenic setting for walking, biking, and picnicking. Rent a paddleboard or kayak to enjoy the lakes up close, or simply relax on the sandy beaches. The city is also home to the iconic Stone Arch Bridge and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, both perfect for a leisurely stroll.

St. Paul boasts its own array of attractions, such as the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, where visitors can enjoy free admission to see exotic animals and lush gardens. The Minnesota State Fair, held annually in late summer, is a quintessential experience featuring everything from food on a stick to thrilling rides and live entertainment.

Visit the North Shore of Lake Superior

The North Shore of Lake Superior is a stunning stretch of coastline that offers breathtaking views and outdoor adventures. Starting from Duluth and extending up to the Canadian border, this area is known for its rugged beauty and charming small towns.

Hiking enthusiasts will find plenty of trails to explore, including the Superior Hiking Trail, which offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding forests. Gooseberry Falls State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park are popular stops, offering picturesque waterfalls and historic sites. For a unique experience, take a scenic drive along Highway 61, stopping at scenic overlooks and quaint towns like Grand Marais.

Water activities abound on Lake Superior itself. Kayaking along the shore provides a unique perspective of the dramatic cliffs and rock formations. Anglers can try their luck fishing for trout and salmon in the clear waters of the lake.

Attend a Music Festival or Outdoor Event

people riding on amusement park ride

Minnesota’s summer calendar is packed with music festivals and outdoor events that cater to a variety of tastes. One of the most popular is the Minnesota State Fair, held in St. Paul, which attracts visitors from all over the country. This 12-day event features live music, agricultural exhibits, and a wide array of food vendors.

For music lovers, the Twin Cities offer several notable festivals. The Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis is an annual event featuring a diverse lineup of national and local acts. In Duluth, the Bayfront Blues Festival draws crowds to the scenic Bayfront Festival Park for a weekend of live blues music.

In addition to these larger events, many smaller towns host their own summer festivals, celebrating local culture, food, and music. These community events provide a great opportunity to experience the friendly and welcoming spirit of Minnesota.

Explore State Parks and Wildlife Areas

gray rocks on body of water during daytime

Minnesota’s state parks are a treasure trove of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. From the prairies of the southwest to the forests of the north, there’s a diverse range of landscapes to explore.

Itasca State Park, the birthplace of the Mississippi River, offers hiking, boating, and camping opportunities. Visitors can walk across the headwaters of the mighty river and explore the park’s extensive trail system. In southeastern Minnesota, Whitewater State Park is known for its dramatic limestone bluffs and clear, trout-filled streams.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge provides a haven for birdwatching and nature photography. The refuge’s network of trails allows visitors to explore diverse habitats, from wetlands to oak savannas.

Conclusion

Minnesota’s summer season is a time to embrace the great outdoors, explore vibrant cities, and enjoy a myriad of activities that cater to all interests. Whether you’re boating on Lake Minnetonka, paddling through the Boundary Waters, hiking along the North Shore, or immersing yourself in local festivals, the Land of 10,000 Lakes offers unforgettable experiences that showcase its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

no money down mortgage home ownership

How to Buy a House with No Money Down

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Bad or damaged credit is a big reason people have trouble financing a house, but another common problem for homebuyers is the down payment — many people, in a recent study by Jackpot.com, said paying down debt on a house is a first thing they’d do if they won the lottery — it means that much to people. In simpler times, you went to high school and maybe attended college, or you joined the military or got a factory job. When you settled into a job, you usually stayed there for a long time. Detroit auto workers, for example, might have entered the plant at age 18 and retired 30 or more years later—only working for one employer. In the beginning you would scrimp and save for a down payment since a no money down mortgage was hard to find, and when you accumulated enough, you found a house, got a solid 30 year mortgage and made your payments diligently for 30 years.

When you settled into a job, you usually stayed there for a long time. Detroit auto workers, for example, might have entered the plant at age 18 and retired 30 or more years later—only working for one employer. In the beginning you would scrimp and save for a down payment since a no money down mortgage was hard to find, and when you accumulated enough, you found a house, got a solid 30 year mortgage and made your payments diligently for 30 years.

After that, you would be able to retire yourself, retire your mortgage, live off of your pension proceeds and look forward to collecting social security. That was the blueprint that many of our parents followed to the letter.

No Money Down Mortgage

Now, however, things move faster, jobs just don’t last 30 years, and you may not be willing to wait until you have saved up enough funds for a down payment on your first home. Is there a way to buy houses today and get a no money down mortgage? Can programs like contract for deed work for you?

Legitimate No Money Down Mortgages

The best no-money down program is offered by the VA. Of course, you need to be a service veteran, but if you are, you can get a no money down mortgage even if you have a poor credit score. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has programs for no money down mortgages if you are thinking of buying a rural home. Certain institutions like Navy Federal Credit Union also have low or no down payment programs for specific borrowers. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers a great low down-payment program and there are down payment assistance programs available in many states including Minnesota. The short answer then, is yes, there are ways to but homes without accumulating a down payment.

Not for Everyone

One problem can be that you just don’t qualify for any one of these programs. If you’re not a veteran, if you have seriously injured credit, if you have just declared bankruptcy or even if you have an overload of student loans, a no money down mortgage may be out of reach. If this is the case, what do you do next?

What About a Gift?

Another person can just give you the down payment necessary for you home. This can be a friend or a relative, and the federal gift tax regulations may not even apply unless the gift to you is over $15,000. Even if your rich uncle gives both you and your spouse $15,000 each, it’s not taxable.  Of course, you’ll need to find your benefactor, and that will be up to you.

Homebuying Gift

Minnesota Specifics

When you get a Minnesota Housing mortgage, you can also receive an optional down payment and closing cost loan up to $15,000.

MN Homeownership

Down payment and closing cost loans are only available when you get a Minnesota Housing first mortgage loan and additional eligibility requirements may apply, including income limits. Contact an approved lender partner to get started.

Monthly Payment Loan

The Monthly Payment Loan can be used with the Start Up or Step Up program.

  • Loans up to $15,000
  • Interest rate is equal to your first mortgage rate
  • Monthly payments over a 10-year loan term

Yes, again there are rules and regulations, and as liberal as they are, maybe you just can’t qualify because:

  • You just declared bankruptcy.
  • Your credit score is really low.
  • You own a business and don’t show enough income.
  • You maxed out 20 credit cards.
  • You suffered a home foreclosure.
  • You just lost your job.
  • You recently were released form incarceration.
  • You have a large student loan balance.
  • Your business failed.
  • You owe delinquent taxes.
  • You have numerous filed judgments against you.

If you have even one of these issues, it can ruin your chances for not only getting a no money down mortgage, but for getting any type of home financing.

Contract for Deed Helps with No Money Down Mortgage Programs

This is where contract for deed MN information can help. While some states like Texas frown on the contract for deed process, Minnesota has embraced it, and it works this this:

You find a house that you like and you negotiate a price with the owner. You bring the deal to a reputable contract for deed company like C4D, and they purchase the home. C4D now owns the home but they agree to sell it to you on a contract for deed basis. This means that you make monthly payments to C4D, you pay for repairs and property taxes, you make repairs, and after you have made all of your payments you are presented with the deed and you own your home.

It is of course possible for you to pay off your loan early if, for example, you are lucky enough to inherit money, or if your credit has improved enough for a traditional refinance.

How Can C4D Do It When Others Can’t?

C4D looks at your entire financial picture and can more easily look past credit issues than banks can. If you are a good person with unfortunately bad credit, C4D can many times help you get into the house you want. Yes, your interest rate may be higher, and you may have to pay a fee, but contract for deed is a recognized and established way to become a Minnesota home owner.

C4D, in some cases, can also provide down payment assistance that can eliminate the need for a big chunk of money down. And C4D usually has no problem with gifted down payments, and any good contract for deed company will work with you to find the best available government down payment assistance programs.

The Answer for the No Money Down Mortgage

Yes, there are a number of ways to buy a home with no money down. And while traditional bank mortgages are preferable, if you are having difficulties be sure to investigate what contract for deed can do for you.

Office Workers vs. Remote Workers: A Comparative Analysis in the Real Estate Industry

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The real estate industry, like many others, has witnessed a significant shift in work dynamics in recent years. Traditional office-based roles have been challenged by the rise of remote work. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of office workers versus remote workers in the context of the real estate sector. Both approaches have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these distinctions is crucial for both employers and employees to make informed decisions.

The Office Worker Advantage

A. Collaborative Environment

One of the primary advantages of having office workers in the real estate industry is the ability to foster a collaborative environment. In an office setting, colleagues can easily interact, share ideas, and work together on projects. This collaboration can lead to innovative solutions, improved communication, and a strong sense of camaraderie among team members. One issue to keep in mind is the potential divide between management and employees in terms of remote desires and needs, as detailed in this new report from Checkr.

Angry business woman, boss ripping paper , work of the employee. Boss Angry With Young Employee Sitting At Desk. Mad business woman tearing up a document, contract or agreement

B. Access to Resources

Office workers typically have immediate access to resources such as office equipment, specialized software, and support staff. In the real estate industry, where documentation and paperwork are prevalent, having physical access to resources can be a significant advantage. Office workers can easily consult with colleagues or access physical files when needed.

C. Face-to-Face Client Interactions

Real estate transactions often require face-to-face interactions with clients. Office workers have the advantage of being readily available for meetings and property viewings. This personal touch can build trust and credibility with clients, potentially leading to more successful deals.

The Remote Worker Revolution

A. Flexibility

Remote workers in the real estate industry enjoy greater flexibility in terms of work hours and location. They can choose to work from home, a co-working space, or even on-site at a property they are managing. This flexibility can lead to improved work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.

macbook pro on brown wooden table

B. Reduced Commute Stress

One of the most significant perks of remote work is the elimination of the daily commute. Real estate professionals who work remotely save time and money that would otherwise be spent on commuting. This reduced stress can lead to improved mental well-being and overall job performance.

C. Cost Savings

For both employees and employers, remote work can result in substantial cost savings. Employees save on commuting expenses and work attire, while employers can reduce overhead costs associated with maintaining office spaces. This financial benefit can be particularly attractive in the real estate industry, where profit margins can be variable.

Challenges of Office Workers

A. Commute Fatigue

While office workers may benefit from face-to-face interactions, they often face the daily grind of commuting. Commute fatigue can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and reduced job satisfaction. It also contributes to traffic congestion and environmental concerns.

aerial photography of concrete roads

B. Overhead Costs

Maintaining physical office spaces comes with significant overhead costs, including rent, utilities, and office supplies. In the real estate industry, where market conditions can fluctuate, these fixed expenses can be burdensome during lean periods.

C. Limited Work-Life Balance

Office workers may struggle to strike a healthy work-life balance due to the demands of their in-person roles. Long hours at the office can lead to increased stress and negatively impact personal relationships and overall well-being.

Challenges of Remote Workers

A. Isolation and Communication

Remote workers may experience feelings of isolation and loneliness due to the lack of in-person interactions with colleagues. Effective communication can also be a challenge, as remote workers rely heavily on digital tools and may miss out on spontaneous conversations.

a person sitting at a desk with a laptop and papers

B. Distractions at Home

Working from home can be challenging for some individuals who have difficulty maintaining focus in a non-office environment. Distractions such as household chores, family members, or noisy neighbors can hinder productivity.

C. Potential for Mismanagement

In the real estate industry, remote workers may face challenges related to property management and maintenance. Without a physical presence, they may have limited control over property conditions, leading to potential mismanagement issues.

Finding the Right Balance

In conclusion, the choice between office workers and remote workers in the real estate industry is not a one-size-fits-all decision. Both approaches have their merits and drawbacks. Employers must carefully assess their specific business needs, employee preferences, and the nature of their real estate operations to find the right balance.

In some cases, a hybrid model that combines office and remote work may be the ideal solution, offering the benefits of in-person collaboration and the flexibility of remote work. Ultimately, success in the real estate industry depends on adaptability and the ability to embrace the evolving landscape of work in the 21st century.

By considering the unique advantages and challenges of office workers and remote workers, real estate professionals can make informed decisions that lead to greater productivity, job satisfaction, and success in this dynamic industry.

best cities for millennials

Top 7 Best U.S. Cities for Millennials

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Millennials, born from 1981 to 1996, are a generation on the move. They are looking for more affordable living, a positive job outlook, and a balance between work and a fulfilling personal life. These are the seven best US cities for millennials to move to, whether or not they can afford their first home or if they’re looking to make their first offer on a house.

Additionally, the job market uncertainty has had a significant impact on millennials, many of whom are struggling to secure stable employment and financial stability. This uncertainty has also affected their ability to enter the real estate market, with many millennials postponing homeownership due to the high costs associated with buying a home.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges, as job losses and economic downturns have made it even harder for millennials to save for a down payment or qualify for a mortgage. As a result, many millennials are opting for more flexible and affordable rental options, which has led to an increase in demand for rental properties and a decrease in the demand for home purchases. Overall, the job market uncertainty and economic anxiety shown by a recent Checkr study has had a profound impact on the real estate industry, with millennials representing a significant demographic affected by these changes. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the cities Millennials are loving right now. 

Denver, Colorado

Denver has one of the largest concentrated populations of millennials in the US, representing up to 34% of the people living in some of the downtown neighborhoods. This is a more expensive city for millennials with high average rents. With a well-paying job, the quality of living more than makes up for the costs. You can enjoy lots of parks and climbing on rocks at the nearby Rocky Mountains, or even ski.

 Nashville, Tennessee

While Nashville may be known for country music, it has a diverse collection of industries in health care, compounding pharmacies, finance, publishing, and music production. This gives millennials in the city plenty of employment sectors to choose from. The vibrant nightlife and sprawling neighborhoods mean millennials can always find something to do, from trying one of the many local breweries or attending city festivals.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is a great place for millennials seeking employment in the booming tech industry. This city has one of the largest tech sectors in the country, which gives millennials job opportunities to work in the industry for big-name companies, such as Microsoft. Although Seattle does have one of the most expensive housing markets in the US, it has accessible public transit around the city. The city’s location on Puget Sound and many parks around the city provides plenty of outdoor activities to keep millennials busy.

Jacksonville, Florida

The millennials moving to Jacksonville will live in a city with multiple beaches, but at an affordable price. The city has a low unemployment rate, and average housing prices are lower in Jacksonville than national prices. The artistic neighborhood of Riverside has one of the largest increases in the millennial population across the city. The draw of the neighborhood likely comes from eclectic shops, trendy restaurants, and high walkability ratings. Additionally, it’s even featured on a new list for the top summer vacation cities in the U.S.

San Jose, California

More than 13% of people living in San Jose are millennials. San Jose also has growing incomes, although the average rent is high in the city. Across the city, there are lots of neighborhoods popular with millennials from the bustling downtown area to manicured Rose Garden and Japantown.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is a Midwestern city with a family-friendly vibe and a great safety ranking — suburbs like Edina are some of the safest places in America. Minneapolis is a city with amazing public schools for kids of all ages, and that goes a long way as concerns with school systems, student transportation and other issues ramp up. Additionally, with great restaurants and an abundant number of the craft breweries millennials love, this city attracts an increasing number of millennials. For an urban city, it has an affordable median rent of just under $1,800 per month. It shares proximity to its sister city of St. Paul, which helps millennials find even more things to explore.

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., is a magnet for millennials for many reasons. Millennial Wages in D.C. are the highest in the nation. Despite the political environment, millennials in this city are some of the best off in terms of mental health. This small city has a lot of public transit options. Local metropolitan trains go to the suburbs of D.C. Trains leaving the city even go to larger cities along the east coast, such as Boston. This makes it easy for millennials to travel, a popular activity for this generation.

Although they enjoy city living, millennials want a balanced lifestyle. Each of these cities provides a unique experience but has something for every millennial from affordable rent to beach-style living. These cities are some of the best for millennials.

4 Tips for Maintaining Good Relationships with Tenants

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A pleasant landlord-tenant relationship can make the renting experience more successful for both landlords and tenants, but building and maintaining a positive relationship requires intentional action and a proactive mindset from landlords. It’s not always easy – a recent survey of 1,500 American renters found that only 6 out of 10 renters have a good or excellent relationship with their landlord. 

The importance of positive landlord-tenant relationships. It’s increasingly important for landlords to maintain a good relationship with their tenants, and there are numerous benefits for landlords who strive to keep their tenants happy

low angle view of building

Strong relationships can reduce rental turnover rates

Landlords manage a variety of costs and high rental turnover can raise those costs significantly. Every time a landlord-tenant relationship collapses, investors must spend more to market the property, look for a new tenant, renovate and clean the property, and more. Tenants who have a strong relationship with their landlords are less likely to look for new accommodation unless absolutely necessary, but landlords don’t always take advantage of their connection to renters. Renewals can help rental property owners save time, energy, and money by holding on to renters who pay rent on time, take care of the property, and are responsive during times of emergency. 

Renters who have good relationships with their landlords tend to take better care of the property

Landlords who are hard to contact and only show up to collect rent can be frustrating to deal with. Conversely, those who get to know their tenants and communicate personally can find their renters to be more accountable and responsible in their care of the property. Building and maintaining a relationship also creates opportunities for mutual respect between the parties involved. Even when eviction or rent rises become necessary, tenants are unlikely to intentionally damage the property out of spite due to the existing relationship they have with their landlord. 

The highest proportion of landlord expenses usually go to seasonal and preventative maintenance costs. Repair costs are also significant, and they can snowball if issues are left to worsen over time. Some tenants can be concerned about how their landlords might react to their issues and can choose to lie about broken or damaged items. 22.5% of tenants admitted to lying to their landlord about things that they broke. Landlords who establish that they’re reasonable and approachable are more likely to hear about problems as they arise, which gives them the opportunity to repair damages before they get out of hand. 

Tips for building and maintaining good relations with tenants

All landlords want to develop and maintain positive relationships with their tenants but can be unsure of how they can do so without coming across as overbearing or insincere. Here are some tips that can help. 

1. Maintain open lines of communication at all times

Communication is at the core of every strong relationship and landlord-tenant relationships are no different. Landlords should ensure that they’re accessible through communication channels that are convenient for their tenants. Remote and shift workers may prefer to communicate through email or text, while older tenants tend to prefer the phone. Renters appreciate landlords who are communicative and responsive when problems arise. A recent survey shows that 72% of renters consider a good landlord to be one who responds quickly to issues. 

2. Consistently provide good customer service to your tenants

Successful landlords all recognize the importance of customer service. Consistently checking in with their tenants to ensure that they are not facing any issues, being responsive to their tenant’s needs, and promptly resolving any property issues the renter might have assures tenants that their opinions and needs are important to their landlord. This can go a long way in turning a rental property into a home for renters. 

man using IP phone inside room

3. Set clear expectations early in the relationship

Landlords and tenants use lease agreements and documents to outline the roles and responsibilities of each party early in the relationship. However, some landlords can view this as an administrative task rather than a relationship-building exercise. This can lead to misunderstandings about things like maintenance requirements, property policies, security deposit rules, and more. When a lease is signed, landlords should spend some time going through each clause and provision in the agreement with their tenant. This allows both parties to have a common and complete understanding of what is expected of them throughout the relationship. 

4. Give tenants the tools they need to take good care of the property

Once the roles and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant have been made clear, it’s also important that landlords give their tenants the tools they need to fulfill those obligations accordingly. This could be as simple as providing renters with the contact information of contractors for regular maintenance or as involved as purchasing any specific cleaning equipment for parts of the property that need specialized tools. In addition to caring for the property, information about the neighborhood and its rules can also encourage renters to be more responsible neighbors and reduce the chances of complaints from other residents in the community. 

Successful real estate investing depends on positive tenant relationships

As more Americans choose to rent properties due to remote work and improved mobility, landlords must learn to serve their needs more effectively. Building a strong and positive relationship on the basis of mutual respect and understanding can help landlords and tenants tackle issues that might arise throughout the course of a lease more effectively. These relationships can also help landlords save costs by optimizing maintenance schedules, responding to issues early, and reducing rental turnover rates. 

Using Virtual Staging to Market Their Listing

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Virtual staging is a cost-effective and efficient way for real estate agents to market their listings. By using virtual staging, agents can showcase a property’s full potential and give buyers a better idea of how the space can be utilized.

With that being said, let’s take a closer look at some benefits of virtual staging.

Benefits of Virtual Staging

black flat screen tv turned off

One of the biggest benefits of virtual staging is that it allows agents to highlight the best features of a property without having to stage the home physically. This can save time and money, as traditional staging can be costly and time-consuming.

Virtual staging also allows agents to appeal to a wider audience by providing multiple design options for potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space. Most professional virtual staging providers offer several design options such as:

  • Mid-Century Modern
  • Scandinavian
  • Coastal
  • Farmhouse
  • Modern
  • American
  • Industrial
  • Hamptons
  • Luxury
  • And Southwestern

This can be especially useful for buyers who have a hard time seeing past a home’s current decor or for those who have different design preferences.

In addition, virtual staging can be a useful tool for agents who are trying to sell a home that is empty or partially furnished. A vacant home can be difficult for buyers to visualize, but virtual staging can help bring the space to life and make it more appealing to potential buyers. 

For example, recent research shows that vacant homes sell for an average of $11,306 less and spend six more days on the market compared to staged and virtually staged homes. This shows that it’s worth the extra cost to stage your home before listing it for sale if you want to sell it fast and for top dollar. 

How to Choose a Virtual Staging Provider

When it comes to choosing a virtual staging provider, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Quality of the virtual staging: It’s important to choose a provider that produces high-quality virtual staging images. Look for providers that use advanced technology and have a team of skilled designers to ensure that the virtual staging looks realistic and professional.
  • Variety of options: Look for a provider that offers a wide range of virtual staging options, including different furniture styles, finishes, and colors. This will allow you to choose the best option for your specific listing and target audience.
  • Speed of delivery: Time is of the essence in real estate, so choose a provider that can deliver virtual staging images quickly to meet your deadlines.
  • Customer service: Good customer service is essential in any business, and virtual staging is no exception. Choose a provider that is responsive and helpful, and be sure to read reviews from other customers to get an idea of their level of service.
  • Price: As with any service, it’s important to consider the cost when choosing a virtual staging provider. Look for a provider that offers competitive pricing without sacrificing quality. Virtual staging can cost anywhere from $25 to $300 per image, so it’s important to shop around for a virtual staging company that fits your budget and needs.

By considering these factors, you can find a virtual staging provider that meets your needs and helps you effectively market your listings.

Conclusion

Overall, virtual staging is a powerful marketing tool that can help real estate agents showcase a property’s full potential and appeal to a wider audience. By using virtual staging, agents can save time and money, appeal to a wider audience, and help buyers better visualize themselves living in the space.

Tax Benefits of Owning a Home in 2022

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First time home buyer tax credits are extremely useful for anyone looking to save a few bucks when making their first huge purchase. Read on below for key reasons and money-saving tips.

Big tax code changes occurred recently, and they are effective for the tax year 2022.

The most sweeping change moved the standard deduction up to to $24,000 for married couples, and this was meant to encourage taxpayers to stop itemizing deductions because, in many cases, the $24,000 standard deduction would be preferable to itemizing. Based on the latest tax bracket data for 2022 go, higher-income earners may find itemizing more beneficial than taking the standard deduction.

A favorite deduction for homeowners was mortgage interest, and now, with the new tax laws, it may make more sense to ignore the mortgage interest you have paid and just claim the standard deduction.

That said, there are still significant tax advantages to homeownership, and you should definitely consider these when considering home buying versus renting.

That Mortgage Deduction

first time home buyer tax credit

If you make a nice amount of money and you have an expensive home, you will want to deduct the interest paid on your mortgage if your total deductions are going to be more than $24,000. This deduction is valid for mortgage amounts up to $750,000.

For example, if you have a $700,000 30-year mortgage at five percent, your monthly interest payment in the first year of the loan will be around $3000.

That adds up to $36,000 per year, and therefore it would make more sense to skip the standard deduction and claim the mortgage interest deduction. This is the number one advantage of homeownership.

Property Tax Deduction

Image result for property tax deduction

If you are able to forgo the standard deduction and claim your mortgage interest, you can also claim a deduction for up to $10,000 of property taxes.

Add your $10,000 property tax deduction to your mortgage interest deduction, and your itemized deductions will reach a substantial total of $40,000—again, enough to ignore the $24,000 standard deduction.

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

great recession

During the Great Recession, there was a program that offered a first-time home buyer tax credit to first time home buyers. Unfortunately, this first-time home buyer tax credit has expired and is no longer available on the federal level. Our friends at Smartasset explain this:

If you’re still looking for the first-time home buyer credit, it unfortunately no longer exists. The program ended in 2010. However, people who purchased homes before 2010 can still benefit from the tax credit initiative. Specifically, you may still be eligible if your closing took place on or before September 30, 2010. People who purchased homes after 2010, however, won’t benefit from the tax credit.

Still, there are some state programs that may offer incentives to those looking for a first-time home buyer tax credit, so you need to check out what your state may offer.

Home Equity Loan Benefits

While you previously were able to more liberally deduct home equity loan interest, now you can only deduct it if you are using it for a specific purpose like home improvements. Still, this can be a worthwhile deduction to take. The IRS explains:

Despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted Dec. 22, suspends from 2018 until 2026 the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

Profits from Home Sales

Finally, one big homeownership tax benefit does still exist and that allows tax-free profits from the sale of your home. Check out this explanation from CBS MarketWatch:

If you sell your main home for a healthy profit, the gain exclusion privilege can be one of the most valuable tax breaks on the books. If you qualify, you can potentially exclude (pay no federal income tax on) up to $250,000 of home-sale profit or up to $500,000 if you are married and file a joint return with your spouse. Since residential real estate prices are bouncing back strongly in many areas, the gain exclusion break has regained its relevancy.

Even though the government has increased the standard deduction to $24,000 and has repealed the first-time home buyer tax credit per se, there are still substantial tax advantages connected with homeownership.

Renting versus buying can always be a dilemma but do consider the tax benefits we have explained above as you work through the process. 

9 Reasons You Should Consider Starting Over in a New City

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Feeling like you’re stuck in the same place you’ve lived in for many years can make your life feel boring. Moving to a new place can help you get out of a rut and be an adventure that can change your perspective on life. Not only that, but it will be good for you to get out of your comfort zone and experience something new. Here are the top reasons why you should consider starting over in a new city. 

building beside body of water during night time

Adventure

Every time you experience something completely new, it’s an adventure, even if you’re just moving to the city from the suburbs or to a new city altogether. Moving to a new city allows you to broaden your horizons and start meeting new people, and experience new things. Unfortunately, moving to a new city can also make you naive when it comes to renting. Make sure you avoid rental scams by using your best judgment when finding a place to live. 

Job Opportunities

Big cities typically have more job opportunities than smaller towns or cities near the suburbs because they’re home to hundreds if not thousands of businesses. As more companies start downsizing, you can experience layoffs like never before. However, moving to a new city can offer you the job opportunities you need to get back on your feet. It’s also important to note you can work remotely, so if you don’t find a job in a new city, you can work from home for a company halfway across the country instead. 

Better Schools

If you have children or are planning on having children soon, then you’ll need to consider the school system where you live. A bad school district is a great reason to move for many families; after all, you want your children to have the best education they can. If you feel that the school near your home isn’t up to par with your standards, consider moving to a new city with a better school district or more private schools for you to choose from. 

Downsizing or Upsizing

If you look around your home and find that your family seems to be growing out of your home then now is the perfect opportunity to start over in a new city. Of course, the opposite is also true. If you find that your home is too big for you and your family, you can move to a smaller house in a new city to save money on your mortgage payment. 

Moving to a new city and starting over with the right sized house can help your family feel less stressed out and allow you to spend more time together. Many cities have affordable house prices, and a new city might be cheaper than your current one, allowing your family to save for more important things like college educations and retirement. 

Just remember, whenever you move, you should hire a moving company to move your stuff to a new city so you can ensure all of your belongings safely make it to your new home. 

Proximity to Family

If you’ve moved far away from your family at one point, then moving to a new city allows you to live closer to them. If your family lives in a different city and you miss having them in your life, then starting over with a new home might be a great decision for you and your family. Not only that, but living closer to family gives you better access to your support network and babysitters. It also gives you the ability to spend the holidays together much easier. 

Make New Friends 

Whether your old friends no longer have the same goals as you or you just want to learn more about different people from different places, starting over in a new city offers you a great opportunity to make friends and develop relationships. Before you move to a new city, consider the community you’ll be moving to. You never know how or when you’ll make a new friend, but living somewhere new allows you to meet an entirely new group of people so you can start over. 

Health Problems

Health problems may force you to start over in a new city. For example, if you live in an area that doesn’t provide you with good access to medical care or the ability to treat your condition, you should relocate to a place that’s closer to your specialist’s office. Doing so will allow you a shorter commute so you can get treatment when you need it most. 

Retirement

After you retire, you may be bored in your current home and want to experience something different. Retirement is a great reason to move to a new city so you can live in a place you’ve always wanted to live. If you want to travel, you can even continue to move to a new city every few months so you can experience all of the things you didn’t get to while you were working for many years. 

Safety

Some neighborhoods are safer than others, but if you find that there seems to be more crime in your neighborhood than there used to be, it might be time to pack up and start over in a new city. Your home should be the primary hub of the family, which means you should be able to sleep soundly without worrying about your safety. 

Final Thoughts

It’s up to you to decide whether you should start over in a new city and when. Starting over is a big decision, and it’s not something you should impulsively do. If you believe you need to start over and move somewhere new, make sure you plan so you can ensure there are job opportunities in the new city and you can find affordable housing. Even though it requires planning and organization, moving to a new city and starting over can be just the thing you need to get back on track.

7 Smart Tips for Room Dividers

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While humans are social creatures, once in a while, we need our privacy. A wall has its benefits, and if a permanent structure cannot be raised, a room divider can be a valuable addition. 

In case you are one of those individuals who live in an open floor plan home and don’t have a bedroom or living room door, it’s easy to understand how transformative a room divider can get. 

Dividers are ideal for any living condition. No matter if it’s in studio apartments, or 1 and 2 bedroom apartments for rent, people all over the country are seeking such customizations.

Why use a room divider?

Apart from offering privacy and transformation, a room divider can enhance the appearance of your living room and also provide storage. Room dividers are also simple to install and can be an ideal DIY project for renters and homeowners as well. 

Before enhancing your home with a room divider, it is essential to make adjustments to spaces within so they are easily distinguishable. Apart from just offering a touch of design, it separates the areas per task to be conducted.

2021 room divider trends to lookout for

Fewer walls offer many benefits, including light, spaciousness feeling or erase, and informality. There are unlimited ideas you can use to get the best out of a room divider, depending on what you are looking to achieve at the end. 

brown wooden parquet flooring

The following are popular trends you could use to enhance your space.

Sliding panels or sliding doors (pricy but functional)

In case you do not mind a little bit of investment, a sliding door or panel offers a more compelling sense of privacy in an open floor plan or living room. Sliding panels provide both the simplicity of a room divider and the privacy of a door. 

There are several designs you can adopt, with perhaps the most popular being the barn door design. 

A barn door divider is ideal since individuals enjoy the benefits of an actual door, with the versatility of an open living concept they desire. A good thing about sliding panels is they do not take up a lot of space since they do not swing open.

Folding screen room divider 

With a folding screen divider, you can be able to block up to 7 feet. There are several kinds of these folding screen dividers with different designs for variable tastes for privacy, aesthetics, and appeal. 

This type of divider makes it easy to customize the amount of space you wish to divide.

Open and closed shelves (artsy and sophisticated appeal)

Shelves offer much more than a distinguishing factor when it comes to dividing your room. They give you a chance to showcase your art, books, collectibles, and ideas. They also offer storage for items that would otherwise clutter your room. There are several types of shelve ideas you could use, from open to closed shelved designs.

Glass panel screen for lighting and visual separation

In case only one part of your room has a window, and you don’t have a privacy issue, try using a glass panel screen instead. Glass panel screen adds the right amount of visual separation to your living areas while still allowing plenty of light to get in.

Hanging wooden or metal panels

There are several types of panels you could use instead of a wall they are only limited to how creative you can get. Hanging panel dividers are ideal for situations where you don’t wish to block light. 

Ensure you get hanging panels that come with mounting hardware for connection to your ceiling to avoid the extra cost of installation.

Good old curtain fabric design (affordable and effective)

Perhaps the most popular and easily accessible dividers are fabric curtains. Curtains are an affordable method you could use to distinguish your rooms. They also offer flexibility when it comes to customization of length and quality. Curtains are perfect for blocking light, privacy, noise reduction, and insulation from elements.

Floating art panels (Ropes, Wiremesh, Art)

This is a creative concept and can only be limited by imagination. Perhaps the most common types include hanging ropes, wire mesh, hanging records, among others. It is essential to note that this kind of divider specifically works for aesthetic reasons and wouldn’t be ideal for; noise reduction, light blocking, and sometimes privacy.

Wooden or metal slats (ideal for sectioning)

They are ideal for individuals who feel like sectioning off their spaces into two areas while at the same time offering an open effect compared to a solid screen. Slats offer flow and a sense of easy movement from one area to another.

Tips For Room Dividers

Enhance your home for an appealing look

The perfect room setup is having all elements in one area. The following are essential DIY tips you could use to enhance your space, bringing style, décor, and a good feel to your rooms.

Choose the correct type of room divider

Before picking out a type of room divider, consider the desired style that’s most appropriate for your space. Make a final picture in your head to be able to source and get a custom-made feel. 

Also, ensure you get the proper materials that would bring the overall theme of your home to offer a finished look at the end. At this point, you would want to choose whether you wish the finished appearance to be artsy or basic with a touch of class.

Ensure the spaces are distinguishable

Part of the reason anyone gets a divider is to distinguish your space You want to distinguish your living room from your kitchenette. 

brown wooden seat beside white wooden table

Contrasting makes your rooms look organized, giving both you and other individuals in your house the perfect atmosphere and looks for a specific task that would help avoid distractions.

Use other elements to act as a divider

It is essential to note that your room divider may not just be a vertical element within your space, like a wall. You can get creative and use other elements such as bookshelf, bed headrest, ropes, drapes, lighting, among others. 

However, make sure that these are elements you would wish to have in your home. Additionally, try to arrange those elements in a specific way that would create some sort of distinction within your space.

Make maximum use of your room divider

A room divider offers much more than a distinguishing factor. For an added advantage, it can be used as part of a room element. 

For maximum benefit, play with the divider for increased usage value. Make sure it acts as a multi-purpose serving element.

Maximize on the decorative aspect

If possible, do not just use your room divider for utilitarian purposes as you would use a wall. A room divider can be used to add some personality to your rooms. For instance, a divider can be used to add some style and elegance. 

Explore aesthetic ideas that you could pick or, if possible, custom-make your room divider.

Conceal unnecessary elements in your spaces

A home is your sanctuary and perhaps each person’s personal space. But from time to time, other people, including close family and friends, often get limited access to your space for different reasons. 

If you live in a situation where you need a divider to distinguish spaces, you’ll at least want a section of your home not exposed at first sight. You will want to conceal a specific area within your house, just for yourself and a partner. A Room divider can come pretty handily in such situations.

Get an artsy appeal out of your set-up

As stated, a room divider can be used for added advantage in case you can’t invest in a wall. Your spaces reflect your personality. 

While room dividers can offer a distinguishing factor within your house, they can also be used to showcase your ideas, book collections, and art pieces. If cleverly used, they can act as art pieces themselves within your spaces.

Bottom line – before you begin your project

Constructing a wall in a room could cost anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000. However, walling is perhaps the most effective and permanent option when it comes to distinguishing your house. 

Not everyone has a flexible budget (we are thinking of you, renters, and DIY-ers), and especially if you are searching for “interior customization concepts for renovated 1 bedroom apartments near me.” Therefore, whether you are saving up for a natural wall or trying to be creative, a room divider could offer the satisfaction you need.

In case you are not sure what room divider design works for you, and you are not looking to start a DIY project, consult a professional to get the best insights for your living spaces.

How to Create a Summer Ready Bedroom

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As you put away your winter wardrobe, swapping sweaters and boots for sundresses and sandals, you may also want to take a closer look at your bedroom décor. While your cozy bedroom was the perfect place to spend those long winter nights, it may leave you tossing and turning in the warmer weather.

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However, don’t worry, as there are lots of things you can do to get your bedroom summer-ready. From putting away the thick blankets and bedcovers to decorating with cool, calming colors, here are some of our top tips to help you:

Change the Bedding

Changing your bedding is the easiest change you can make to get your bedroom summer-ready. No one wants to be sleeping with a heavy duvet cover when they’re hot and sticky. Instead, choose lightweight layers, as these will help to keep you cool all summer long.

While the thickness of the duvet you choose is extremely important, so are the materials you choose for your bedding. Natural textiles such as cotton and linen are a brilliant option. Not only are they breathable but they can help you to stay cool too. It’s a good idea to avoid woven synthetics as they trap in moisture and heat.

Consider the Colors

The colors you choose to use in your bedroom are also important. If you choose to use dark colors and heavyweight textiles in a room, it’s unlikely to feel cool. Instead, choose colors such as white, beige, taupe, and blush. All of these colors will help your room to look airy and bright instead of heavy and dull. 

Find a Good Mattress

Getting enough sleep at night is important for our health. However, lots of people struggle to get a good night’s sleep, particularly when it’s hot outside. This is where a good mattress can help. A good mattress can elevate stress and make you feel happier, calmer, and more relaxed. 

While there are lots of amazing mattresses available to choose from, many of them aren’t great for the summer months. This is because most mattresses absorb body heat. This leads to a buildup of heat in the bed, causing overheating and night sweats. 

If you struggle to sleep during the summer months because of the heat, then it might be a good idea to purchase a “cooling” mattress. These mattresses are created using innovative materials to produce a more breathable sleep surface. You can find out more about the best cooling mattresses for hot sleepers here.  

Bring the Outdoors Inside

Houseplants can make any home feel more inviting. No matter what time of year it is, it’s always a great idea to add plants into your home. However, there’s no better time to add houseplants to your bedroom than during the summer months. Adding plants to a room instantly makes it feel summery. Not only that, but it also helps to connect the room to nature too. And there are several other benefits of adding houseplants into your home, such as they can help you to get a better night’s sleep and can improve the air quality in your home. 

Let the Light Into Your Home

Natural light is amazing. Research has shown that natural light can improve our mood and help us to concentrate. To let natural light into your room during the summer months, consider changing your curtains from blackout blinds to sheer or gauzy options. These options will still give you the privacy you need, but they don’t block out the light. Again, it’s a good idea to choose light colors for that bright and open feel. 

As the weather starts getting warmer, the cozy bedroom that was your sanctuary for the winter months suddenly leaves you tossing and turning at night. However, there are several things you can do to make your bedroom summer-ready. For example, you’ll want to swap out the winter bedding and infuse the room with a light and airy feel. If you want to create a summer-ready bedroom, then follow some of our top tips above.