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Investment – To Rent or Flip?

There are a wide variety of ways to invest in real estate; one can make money in any of these options, one can also lose their money. To be successful in real estate investing, it’s critical that you identify what skills you have and your tolerance for risk. Then choose a type of investment that works for you and repeat that model.

Investors can make great profits by both flipping properties as well as holding them as rentals. The difference really boils down to a few considerations. First, what kind of income are you seeking? Active or Passive? Actively buying, fixing and flipping properties is quick cash that requires careful timing and effort. Rental properties on the other hand offer passive long-term income which accumulates over time. Additionally the property value increases during this time. The downside is that one must invest time in property maintenance and tenant management.

The second concern is risk. Flipping a property is not traditional investing where one buys and holds an investment. Flipping is really speculation. When buying a flipper, one must carefully gauge the cost of refurbishment, remodeling and the cost of the holding time into the price valuation, then carefully market the home and realize the profit. Any number of variances can go wrong which could cause the value to drop and profits to reduce or even disappear, such as a delay in remodeling or a slow real estate market.

Both types of investments can bring nice profits. Determining what’s best for you and your talents is important in choosing the best option for your financial goals.


Fireplace Design Trends

One of my favorite things to do in the winter when I get home from work is to put on my pajamas, turn on the fireplace and get cozy – even if I am still working on my laptop while sitting on the couch.  I know that the long evenings of the winter months invites families to stay home and enjoy the warmth of their own home. Naturally, attention turns to the fireplace as both providing extra heat and as the focal point of the room. New technology and environmentally friendly design has brought contemporary updates that are sleek, fashionable and playful.

  • Finishing – Fireplace finishes have changed. New products such as the Cool Wall Series open a wide variety of design options by allowing a cool surface as a backdrop for finishes.

  • Wood – Wood burning fireplaces are back in style. Decorative spaces for wood storage are adding architectural interest.

  •  Larger Openings – One of the leading trends in fireplace design is enlarging the viewing window of the fireplace. A simple retrofit of an existing fireplace can make a huge difference in the look of any room.

  •  Corner Fireplaces – This popular feature of the 1990s is back with modern updates. Two or three sided fireplaces with sleek styling and elegant accents, such as wood or metal, are providing a centerpiece for rooms.

  •  Fireplace Walls – Linear fireplaces that stretch the length of the wall is one trend showing up in model homes across the country. Monotone colors and clean lines finish this modern trend.


Ways to Winterize Your Home

Even though Mother Nature is still a little all over the place in the way of weather, now is the perfect time for you to take steps to protect your greatest investment.  By taking the necessary steps, you can be rest assured that your home will survive the cold winter months. There are things to be done both inside and outside of the home. However let’s separate the two types. First here are the outside tips:

  • Make sure you unhook any water hoses and shut off water to hose bibs.

  • Fill in any cracks in your foundation to conserve energy.

  • Have chimney inspected & cleaned, if needed, before using it.

  • Clean gutters.

  • Inspect any tree branches over roof or power-lines and trim as needed so snow and ice doesn’t cause it to come down on your home.

Now let’s go over tips for the inside of your home:

  • Cover any exposed metal pipes from subzero temps by placing foam insulation around them.

  • Use foam insulators behind light switches & electrical outlets

  • Seal gaps around doors and windows to keep cold air out. You many want to use a door sweep as well.

  • Use an insulation blanket on your hot water heater to help prevent energy waste.

  • Make sure your ceiling fans are going counter-clockwise in order to push heat back down.

  • Consider adding a smart thermostat to set temperatures to be warmer when home and cooler when you are not, which allows you to save on heating cost and you can set it and forget it.

  • Change furnace filters frequently in order to not impede air flow.

  • Consider having an energy audit done on your home by a professional to find things that you may not have thought of to help reduce your energy use.

  • If you haven’t done so recently, please change the batteries in your smoke detectors.  This is extra important with all the extra lights that might be on in your home this season.

These tips shouldn’t take too long and you might not need to do them all in your house. However, your home is your biggest investment and it can be very expensive if we don’t protect it, so be sure to find time to take the necessary steps to prevent damage and make some tweaks to save money on your energy cost.  

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How to plan for a Holiday Party

Well the holiday hustle and bustle is officially underway.  Are you planning a holiday party? Don’t get overwhelmed by the process.  Most holiday parties will take place in about three weeks, so check out this checklist below, which starts three weeks out, to help you plan a fun and festive gathering.  Everything on the checklist might not be necessary for your party, so read over it and use it as a guide to help you make sure your not missing anything. By the time the party starts, you’ll be ready to enjoy it with your guests!

3 Weeks Before:

  • Create your guest list.

  • Set your party’s theme & include it on your invites (ex. ugly sweater, potluck).

  • Send paper invites or evites.

  • Hire a caterer or decide on your menu.  If not catering, then hire an older teen to replenish food and drinks so you can enjoy time with your guest.

2 Weeks Before:

  • Decide on your party plates, eating utensils, glasses, table linens and either purchase/clean them as needed.

  • Create a party music playlist.

  • Buy your non-perishable groceries ahead of time to have it out of the way.

1 Week Before:

  • Move furniture as needed for optimal flow, clean clutter.

  • Make sure you have all the cookware and dishes, including chaffing pans, etc so you are not looking for something at the last minute – set them aside so you know where everything is.

  • Make sure you have all the beverages that you need, including drink mixers.

  • Clean your home or have it cleaned.

A Few Days Before:

  • Start decorating, if you haven’t done so already.

  • Be sure to tell your neighbors that you are hosting an event for parking purposes and so they might anticipate a little extra noise.

  • Make any dishes that you can ahead of time.

The Day Before:

  • Place food dishes/utensils/centerpieces out on tables.

  • If cooking, cook what you can or make sure you have everything prepped and ready to go for go on the day of.

  • Spot clean your home as needed.

  • Set up any additional chairs, if needed.

Day of Party:

  • Get yourself ready early in the day – I always find the last minute details take longer than you anticipate and then you are racing to get yourself ready at the last second.  Make sure you only have to change clothing & maybe touch up instead of waiting to do it all right before the guest arrive.

  • Cook/reheat foods and deserts.

  • Put out appetizers/finger foods that will not spoil if out for several hours – chips, salsa, veggies, fruit.

  • Enjoy your time with your guest.



Thanksgiving Home Décor Ideas

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season, although I have to say, some people are already decorated for Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but for me personally, I don’t decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving.  So for those of you that are still decorating for Thanksgiving, this is for you.

While the standard pumpkins and scented candles are a nice touch, there are so many other options for decorating a home for Thanksgiving. Consider these interesting and unusual touches to bring a fall feel to your home.

  • Colorful Leaves – In most parts of the country, there are piles of fall leaves in the front yard. There are a huge variety of uses for these bright leaves. Gather some to use on the dining room table, inside candle hurricanes or scatter along the mantle.

  • Natural Elements – Decorations don’t need to be so obvious. Consider using driftwood, acorns and pinecones to add a fall flavor to your home décor.

  • Fall Fruit – Lemons placed in a bowl have long been a staple in spring and summertime staging. In fall and winter, change the lemons to a variety of colors of apples. Everything from red to green and everything in between adds a seasonal tone to the kitchen.

  • Pillows and Throws – There’s no rule that says that one needs to keep the same pillows and throws throughout the home all year around. Consider fall/winter colors and themes to add interest to living rooms, bedrooms and dens.

Whether you choose to decorate or not this Thanksgiving season, be sure to spend time in gratitude, spend time with loved ones and be sure to give where you can, as these are the things that truly lead to us to joy.

Buying a home in the fall

Reasons to Buy A Home in the Fall

This might come as a surprise to you, but fall is a great time to buy a home. There are still homes on the market which did not sell during the summer months, some have been discounted. There are also homes newly listed by sellers trying to beat the slower winter months. At the same time, there are fewer buyers out searching, which makes it the perfect time to buy a home. Here are some of the advantages to buying in the fall:

  • Fall home buyers should be ready to move when they find the right home and at the right price. Make sure you get pre-qualified before you start your search, so that you can jump at the right opportunity. You wouldn’t want to lose out on a home because you were not already pre-qualified.  Sellers expect to see documentation that you have already taken this step. It shows them that you are a serious buyer. As a matter of fact, most brokers require their agents to have this document before they can even show you a home.

  • The homes imperfections may more readily stand out to you.  With windy or rainy weather, homes can show their scars. Look for evidence of water intrusion and evaluate the yard debris with the falling leaves. Look at gutters and ceilings for both. Of course, I always recommend a home inspection to my buyers no matter how great the house looks.

  • It is a good time to visit the local school/s. With school in session, this is a good time to visit and ask questions from teachers and administrators.

  • If you don’t find the right home in the fall, then don’t be afraid to wait for winter if necessary. Buyers all but evaporate in the winter months, so while the competition seems low in the fall, wait for the right home to come along, even if it’s in January.

Buying a home this fall is exciting. By using the season to its advantage, home buyers can get a great deal finding their next home.

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Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

Buying a new home is an exciting time. It can also be stressful if you are unsure about your credit or know that your credit is not as high as you’d like it to be. Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in how much of a home loan you can qualify for and the interest rate you’ll pay. The good news is there are easy ways to increase your credit score. By following a few tips, you can make sure your report accurately reflects your use of credit and create a plan to improve your scores if necessary.

• Check for Errors – Errors on a credit report is very common. Make sure that everything is current and accurate.

• Pay Down Credit Card Debt – One of the easiest ways to boost your score is to lower your credit card balances. Aim to have no more than 50% of available credit in use.

• Remove Negative Accounts – If you have old collections or bad debt, negotiate with the creditor to pay some/all of the debt in exchange for removing the record.

• Keep Old Accounts Open – About 15% of your score has to do with how long you’ve had credit accounts.

• Pay on Time – This might sound simple, but always pay your bills on time.

By understanding what affects your credit, you can make real changes which will increase your score. If your credit isn’t where you want it to be and you are hoping to be able to buy a home in the near future, it is always a good idea to speak to a loan officer.  Some loan officers even have programs that they can place you in to help improve your credit score over time. Credit issues do not have to last forever.