The New Shared Space

March 2nd, 2017

Americans are cohabitating in new ways, due to economic shifts or changing cultural norms and preferences. This creates new demand and expectations of what a home provides! #modernfamily

the new shared space

Renting Vs. Owning

February 28th, 2017

Here’s some perks as to why owning a #home might be a better option than #renting a #home! Let me know if you’re ready to buy or sell your home by contacting me @ (904) 247-0059!

Renting vs owning pros cons

FORBES 10 Hottest Real Estate Markets To Watch in 2017

February 27th, 2017

FORBES 10 Hottest Real Estate Markets To Watch in 2017

There are lots of reasons to choose a place to put down roots. Maybe you’ve been transferred for work. Maybe you’ve always wanted to own real estate in Charleston, SC, and you’ve found a deal that’s too good to pass up.

 

Whether you’re looking for an investment or a new city with new opportunities, Trulia has compiled a list of the top 10 real estate markets poised for growth in 2017 based on five key metrics including high affordability, strong job growth, low vacancy rates, home searches on Trulia, and, because of the 2016 election’s outcome, a big population of Republicans. Did your favorite city make the cut?

  1. Jacksonville, FL: Jobs and a great location

Pictured 2748 Scott Mill Ter, Jacksonville, FL 32257

Situated on the banks of the St. Johns River and oft-considered part of southern Georgia given its proximity to its northern neighbor, Jacksonville, FL, has quite a bit going for it. Why is it so appealing? First, there are serious job opportunities. Jacksonville posted a 3.8% job growth rate in 2016, which makes it one of the healthiest markets for employment opportunities in the state. Second, there’s an increasing influx of people — which contributes to the area’s very high ratio of inbound home searches on Trulia by out-of-towners versus outbound searches by locals looking to leave. “There are so many people moving here and very little leaving,” explains Michael Paull, an area real estate agent. “There’s long-term economic stability here plus great schools, fantastic weather, and proximity to the ocean.”

  1. Cape Coral–Fort Myers, FL: Baseball’s king in the spring

Pictured 903 Lucerne Pkwy, Cape Coral, FL 33904

Sure, the weather is certainly a huge draw for this area of the country. But the reason this metro came in at number two goes beyond sunny skies and 80-degree weather. One word: jobs. It has high job growth (fourth in the nation!) and a sharp drop in vacancy rates over the past year. Many of those jobs stem from the hospitality industry and real estate. “And then Fort Myers, FL is home to baseball’s Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins during spring training every year, which boosts the economy even more every spring,” says Pat Eberle of RASO Realty in Cape Coral, FL.

  1. Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach, FL: No better weather

Pictured 28 Lionspaw Grand, Daytona Beach, FL 32124

Weather is a big draw for this part of the country, which is probably one reason Florida features prominently in this list. “When I look at the major weather systems every day, I always think to myself, ‘I live in the safest part of the country,’” says Lonnie Marandino, owner/broker with Realty Experts by the Beach in Ormond Beach, FL. “Winds here are never strong enough to affect structures because there are never any hurricanes.” But the area ranks third on Trulia’s list because of its strength in two categories: It has a very high ratio of inbound-to-outbound home searches on Trulia and has strong job growth.

  1. Grand Rapids, MI: Rising up the rank

Pictured 810 Cadillac Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Grand Rapids, MI gets points for its affordability — but it’s also booming. Job growth increased by 2.7% over the last year. “Grand Rapids has had very steady economic growth, plus it’s fairly diverse,” explains Jordan Painter, an associate broker with RE/MAX Sunquest in Grand Rapids. “There are jobs in the medical industry, manufacturing, education. People from all backgrounds can find a job here.”

  1. Tampa–St. Petersburg, FL: Job growth in the Big Guava

Pictured 8366 Dunham Station Dr., Tampa, FL 33467

Another Florida metro region joins the list with Tampa, FL. “With major developments like the Vinick-Cascade project being built in downtown Tampa, major jobs are being created,” explains Terry Knight, a Realtor with Keller Williams in south Tampa. Plus, with the University of South Florida and University of Tampa in the area, education jobs are a prominent part of the employment possibilities for those looking to move to the area.

  1. Colorado Springs, CO: Enjoy the best of all four seasons

Pictured 15 Antrim Loop, Colorado Springs, CO 80910

Colorado Springs, CO can give any of the Florida markets on this list a run for their money when it comes to climate. While Florida has sun and sand the majority of the year, Colorado Springs features “great hiking, skiing, mountain biking, all within an easy drive or sometimes a short walk,” explains Jeff Johnson, a real estate agent with RE/MAX in Colorado Springs. “And to top it all, we’ve got a mild climate all year round. You can go run or mountain bike in February, then get snow the next day. Where else could you do that?” Add to that the city’s affordable housing and high job growth, and it’s no wonder U.S. News & World Report named it the fifth-best place to live in 2016.

  1. Charleston, SC: High affordability in the Lowcountry

Pictured 59 King St., Charleston, SC 29401

There’s good reason Charleston, SC is consistently named a top city to live in the U.S. by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler — not only is the city charming and clean, but it also boasts a fantastic culinary scene, proximity to the ocean, and a rich history and culture. But beyond the beauty of Charleston are the practical reasons to move here. “Organizations that have a global impact such as Boeing and Volvo have chosen to park their business in our backyard, and in doing so, have helped bolster employment opportunities and spurred our local economy,” explains Dan Garrison, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. Plus, the area is high on the housing affordability index. “Charleston has already surpassed all of 2015 in total units sold as of the end of November, while overall inventory of homes remain low,” adds Garrison. “Recent data shows our region holds a median price of $240,000. Combined with still incredibly low interest rates, that makes this area still affordable, and most often, cheaper to own than rent.”

  1. San Antonio, TX: Lone Star living

Pictured 182 E Edgewood Pl., San Antonio, TX 78209

San Antonio, TX is easily one of the biggest military cities in the U.S., and because of that, the cost of living in this Lone Star town is one of the best in the South. “There’s also steady supply and demand for homes,” explains Lisa Sinn, a real estate agent with Keller Williams. “That means home prices are more affordable.” Added to the low cost of living are the steady job opportunities from major employers such as USAA, Toyota, and H-E-B (grocery store chain), making it easy to see why San Antonio’s on Trulia’s radar. “The culture here is also extremely diverse,” adds Sinn, who notes the city’s culture and history are added bonuses to San Antonio residents.

  1. Phoenix, AZ: Life’s a cinch in the Valley of the Sun

Pictured 3028 N Evergreen St, Phoenix, AZ 85014

The country’s eighth-largest city has much to offer beyond its stunning geography and easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and more. “It’s easy living [here],” says Monique Walker, an agent with RE/MAX Excalibur. “Even though it’s one of the largest cities in the U.S., you can easily get around from one end of the city to the other without encountering traffic and congestion.” The true draw of Phoenix, AZ, though, is its affordability. “First-time homebuyers can find great inventory for homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 range,” says Walker. “While those looking for higher-end homes can easily find one in the $1 million-plus range. There’s a vast diversity in home prices, which is why Phoenix is appealing to so many people.”

  1. North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton, FL: Glorious in the Gulf Coast

Pictured 86 Arbor Oaks Dr., Sarasota, FL 34232

The last Florida city to round out the top 10 is located in the Gulf Coast region of the state. While the weather is the most obvious draw to the area, it’s much more than sunny skies and 80-degree days that attracts people. “Unlike other Florida markets, this area is a full-time community, meaning that it’s not a transient- or vacation-driven community,” says Robert Anderson, the top agent for RE/MAX in Sarasota, FL. “Not only does it deliver on the natural beauty of its beaches and weather, but it also has the critical infrastructure — the arts, great schools, small to medium-size companies, small universities — that [is] critical to making a great community.”

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2017/01/04/10-hottest-real-estate-markets-to-watch-in-2017/#40bf2506340c

What to Do About Dinner When Your Kitchen Is Being Remodeled

February 16th, 2017

Five months of bending over the bathtub to wash dishes during her kitchen remodel was no fun for homeowner and chef Christina Chavez. But her kids, on the other hand, delighted in the novelty of it all, turning dish drying into a game.

Sometimes, kids just have a better view of the world, seeing the adventure in everything. But when you’re the adult facing weeks, even months, of microwaveable meals and lame takeout that’ll bust your food budget (and probably add 10 pounds to your middle!), how do you find the fun in that?

These tips will keep the joy of cooking at home alive while your dream kitchen is under construction.

 

Scout the Perfect Location

Like a perfect campsite, the spot for your temporary kitchen should be:

  • In a low-traffic area
  • As far from construction as possible
  • Near a source of water

Places that may work include that barely used guest suite (especially if it has its own bathroom), the dining room, and even outdoors if you have a grill.

But think about electric outlets, Chavez warns, especially for a fridge. If you want to use your full-size fridge, make sure there’s an outlet that can handle it. And you may have to give up your icemaker.

If you hope to use the garage, check with your contractor first. This space often ends up becoming a workshop and break room for your remodeling crew.

 

If You Lack a Water Source

If you don’t have a suitable  water source inside your home, and you’re remodeling during warmer months, you can set up a sink/wash area outside, which works nicely if you decide to use your grill a lot.

For less than $100, you can pick up a folding table outfitted with a faucet and sink that connects to your garden hose.

But wherever you locate your temporary wash area, keep a utility bin (like the kind you see in restaurants for bussing tables) handy to load up and lug dishes.

Here’s a cool hack: Use a cooler with a drain plug. It can function as a utility bin and wash basin; use a hose outside or placing it in a tub or shower.

 

Ask Your Contractor for Help

Check with your pro before you buy any supplies or break your back moving your refrigerator. Most contractors are happy to move and reconnect your fridge, and may be able to hook up a temporary utility sink for you to use in another room or outside.

Many remodelers also will loan clients amenities like a two-burner countertop stove, and some even include a temporary kitchen setup as part of their remodeling services.

 

Make a Plan for Countertops and Drawers

For countertops: A folding table or well-protected dining table functions just fine for prepping meals and holding small appliances that don’t generate too much heat (think blender, microwave). With a little forethought, you can even relocate your existing countertop and cabinets after demolition begins, which is what Chavez did. But watch for rough spots that can damage your floor or give you a nasty splinter.

For drawers: Plastic storage bins or portable drawers on wheels that you can stash under the table, or a rolling cart with drawers provide a dust-free home for dishes, cooking utensils, ready-to-eat snacks, non-perishables, and basic cooking supplies.

Mallory Danks and her husband, who took on a three-month DIY kitchen remodel, made sure every cooking item had a place in rolling plastic drawers, making it easier to transition their living room back to its intended purpose after meals.

“You don’t want to feel like you’re living in your temporary kitchen,” she says. Wheels make it easy to roll the clutter away.

 

Stock It With Double-Duty Items

Without a full-size stove or oven, you’ll have to MacGyver your meals, Danks says, and recommends thinking beyond your trusty microwave. Think multi-purpose (which will also make cleanup easier). For example:

  • An electric kettle heats water for tea, oatmeal, soups, and even coffee if you use a French press (no need for a clunky coffee machine!).
  • A newer electric pressure cooker does everything a range can — saute, roast, simmer, and warm. It also works as a slow cooker.
  • blender does both smoothies and sauces.
  • An electric skillet makes everything from pancakes to pot roast.
  • Microwave-safe dishes to store, reheat, and serve.
  • Long-handled tongs flip burgers and serve salads.
  • A glass measuring cup to also heat water in the microwave or scoop up sauces and soups.

The key is to be able to do the most common cooking tasks that make meal preparation easy for you (and to do that without over-packing your makeshift cooking zone). Otherwise, you might feel overwhelmed.

But if the idea of living without your pour-over coffee maker makes you cry a little inside, then include it. Life is going to be disruptive enough without giving up the little joys.

 

Protect Furnishings in the Temporary Location

There’s a reason wall-to-wall carpeting isn’t standard kitchen fare. Cooking and cleanup are hard on flooring and furnishings, so relocate or cover anything of value in your temporary kitchen, recommends Chavez.

“I learned the hard way that you should cover your dining room table,” she says, recalling a hot pot that left a mark.

Don’t forget to remove area rugs to keep them free of stains and make cleanup a little easier. Or, use an older rug that you plan to replace after the remodel.

 

Make Cleanup Easy (Without Hurting the Earth)

Stock a minimal supply of dining and cooking supplies. Allot each family member just two plates, bowls, cups, drinking glasses, and sets of utensils. That way, doing the dishes becomes a necessity after a meal or two, and there’s never too many dishes to be daunting.

But, still, there’s something to be said for using disposable gear when you’re living sans-dishwasher. For those times, buy disposable plates and utensils that are biodegradable, made from sustainable materials, or even compostable. Plus you’ll be using a whole lot less water.

Let the adventure begin!

 

Written By: AMY HOWELL HIRT

Link: https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/kitchen/kitchen-remodel/?site_ref=mosaic

what to do about dinner when your kitchen is getting remodeled

Beyond Basic White: 5 Fresh Bathroom Colors to Try in 2017

February 10th, 2017

After years of all-white bathrooms dominating the design world, we’re finally shedding the tired trend of the past and embracing a new era of color options. Think brilliant blues, earthy greens and dramatic blacks — shades that have staying power while making a fresh statement.

Ready to take your bathroom beyond the basic white design? Here are five new shades that make 2017 look amazing.

 

  1. Powder Blue

With a renewed focus on rest and wellness, it makes sense that powder blue is 2017’s go-to hue. Its light and airy nature evokes thoughts of a warm spring day, and so it brings peace and serenity into a space. With this soft shade on the walls, daily routines will feel less stressful and an evening soak in the tub more enjoyable.

Our advice? Lift your bathroom and your spirits with a powder-blue vanity, like the piece above from designer Justine Sterling. When paired with marble countertops and cotton linens, this hue has a heavenly effect on the whole room.

beyond basic white blue

  1. Saturated Green

Allison Corona Photography, Let It Shine Photography, Doug Petersen Photography

Once the Pantone Color Institute named Greenery their 2017 Color of the Year, saturated greens started springing up everywhere — and we’re not upset about it. Not only does this spry shade bring out the best in neutrals, but it’s also bright and full of visual interest. 

This year, follow GB Architecture above and revive your master bath with a jade green stall shower. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, brighten your powder room with a Kelly green mirror and vanity combination, like this statement set by Judith Balis.

beyond basic white green

  1. Jewel Tones

Jewel tones, in contrast, are full of drama, demanding to be a room’s focal point. After years of unassuming white-on-white designs, we love how these confident colors shake up the bathroom scene for 2017. 

This year, treat yourself to unapologetic glitz and glamour. Paint the walls turquoise and pair them with metallic accents, or choose wallpaper that boasts every gem from ruby to amethyst, like this powder room by designer Kimberlee Gorslin.

beyond basic jewel tone

  1. Golden Yellow

In letting go of tired trends, we’re learning to reinvent ourselves — and golden yellow is here to help. Versatile in nature, this sunny shade adapts to your design, adding soft energy to some spaces and outright adventure to others. 

For a subtle splash of color, take note from Red Egg Design Group above and enliven a neutral backsplash with hints of golden yellow. Or, if you’d prefer a more daring look, turn an accent wall into a show-stopping feature with golden yellow subway tile. 

beyond basic yellow

  1. Matte Black

So, which shade is generating the most talk this year? Hands down, the answer is matte black. Simultaneously sophisticated and subversive, this edgy hue offers intrigue without being too heavy for the room. 

For your own fashion-forward look, pair matte black walls with a white vanity and tub like designer Shannon Wilkins above. Or, try a new color-blocking technique inspired by Decor Aid, with a layer of matte black accentuated by white subway tile.

beyond basic matte black

By: Katie Friedman

Link: http://www.hgtv.com/content/hgtv-com/en/design-blog/design/articles/2017/b/bathroom-colors-to-try-in-2017.html

How Much Home Can Your Lifestyle Afford?

February 9th, 2017

If you’re considering purchasing a home, you’ve likely already considered how much you have available for a down payment, what an ideal mortgage payment would be, and how much home you can actually afford based on your monthly income. But what about your lifestyle?

Have you considered how much wiggle room you need to leave in your home budget to enjoy life? Here are six life factors to consider when buying a home:

 

  1. Travel

Travel is an important goal for many people. Think about the travel goals you have for yourself:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • What do you want to see?
  • How long are your ideal trips?
  • How much money would you need on an annual basis to make your travel goals possible?
  • Is this already factored into your budget or will you need to cut back on travel to fund your monthly mortgage payment and home expenses?

There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s important to reflect on your priorities.

 

  1. Green Thumb?

Do you love gardening, being outside, and all things landscaping? If you purchase a home with a lawn and don’t enjoy the upkeep, you could be looking at an extra $100 or more a month for professional landscape maintenance. Are you willing to skip the lawn in favor of hardscaping to reduce costs?

Bottom line: Factor hobbies and services into your monthly budget to see if the numbers still work out in the black.

 

  1. Pool Time

How dreamy would it be to buy a home with a pool!? Before the dream becomes reality, add up the costs of pool maintenance and servicing, energy, and insurance (along with liability if you have small children) and you may be better off heading to the neighborhood swimming hole. 

Pools  can be a lot of fun, but they come with a lot of work. Factor time and money into your future plans when buying a home with this special feature and, once again, ask yourself if the numbers add up to support your other financial goals.

 

  1. Children

If you’re buying a home and plan to start a family in the next few years, don’t just consider the amount of mortgage you can afford under your current expenses. Factor in daycare costs and then determine what your cash flow will look like. You may have to adjust the amount of home you’re looking to purchase.

 

  1. Entertainment

Chances are you enjoy dining out, going to concerts and sporting events, and seeing movies. If you need to rein in these activities to make room for your mortgage, home expenses, and savings, aim to strike a balance that won’t leave you feeling restless.

After all, you’re likely choosing a 30-year mortgage, and three decades is a long time to feel deprived. If necessary, reduce the amount of home you purchase so you can enjoy yourself in the ways that are important to you.

 

  1. Retirement

If you’re in your 20s, you should try to save 10% of your income; in your 30s, you should be saving 15%. If you need to cut back on your retirement savings to make a home purchase work, think hard about when you’ll be able to get back to your ideal contribution levels and how much you may be losing out on during that time. 

Although home ownership can help build long-term wealth, it’s important to also maintain retirement savings for future security.

Written By: MARY BETH STORJOHANN

how much home can your lifestyle afford

Link: https://www.houselogic.com/buy/first-time-home-buyer/home-buying-mistakes/?site_ref=spotlight

The 5 Best Things to Do When You Move into Your New Home

February 8th, 2017

This article was contributed by Katie and Jeremy Bower, home and lifestyle bloggers for “Bower Power.” They spend every waking minute loving to create, improving homes, and teaching their four little boys (all ages six and under!) how to laugh, love, and learn!

 

Moving into your dream home can be a daunting task. Between unpacking, cleaning, and trying to find that stray roll of toilet paper, it may feel like you’ve lost your mind in a sea of Bubble Wrap.

That’s why I wanted to share with you five simple things that you should do during the first month in your new home. These may feel like back-burner tasks, but really, they’ll help you sleep better at night and make your new place feel less like a house and more like your home. 

When we moved into our dream house, we were tired, overwhelmed, and couldn’t remember where we put the sippy cups for our 10-month-old son. Plus, we had no idea what to do first! Of course, we cleaned and unpacked, but what next? 

This handful of to-dos walks you through each of those tasks and why you should tackle them first and foremost. 

Let’s get to it!

 

#1 Lock It Up

Security is the No. 1 concern for most people in a new environment. You can easily switch out your locks and deadbolts to your new home to protect your valuables and your family.   

Now’s the time to consider the lockset finish, and the options are endless. When it comes to exterior locks, make sure you choose something that looks timeless and can be cleaned easily.  

A new security system is also a good idea. The options for this are endless as well. Systems with online monitoring, smartphone compatibility, thermostat control, and even video monitors for the interior including the baby nursery are super helpful. Even if that room is empty now, it might not be in the future – so go ahead and secure it!

 

#2 Remove Toilet Seats

Some folks may think it’s unnecessary to replace toilet seats, but my point here is to simply remove them. By removing your toilet seats, you can really deep clean under the bolts and hinges where the “yucks” like to hide. Your goal is to make sure your royal throne is YOU-worthy.   

You can reinstall your existing seat or opt to shop for a new one. New versions with night-lights, padding, or even child-sized attachments are available. Either way, you’ll know your favorite seat in the house is ready for your entire family.

 

#3 Improve Your Home’s Air

Changing an air filter is a three-minute task, and it should be done right after moving into a new home – even if the previous owners swear the chore was just done. Changing out a filter can help improve the performance of your air conditioning and furnace and help with any allergens in the home.   

This inexpensive fix can also save you money! The U.S. Department of Energy says that replacing your dirty air filter with a new one can lower your A/C’s energy consumption by 5 percent to 10 percent. 

It’s a good idea to write the replacement date directly on the filter when you put it in so you can be sure you know how long it’s been since the last change. 

Also, take the time to test and change out batteries in all your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These are often tested during inspections, but the batteries can die and tampered-with units aren’t uncommon, especially if a house was left vacant.

 

#4  Paint Your Front Door

Painting your front door (or freshening it up with a coat of oil if it’s wood) can show your new neighbors that you’ve arrived on the block and are investing in your home. This simple task is so easy!   

After you do proper prep work, which includes sanding the surface, make sure you pick an exterior-grade paint and use a high-quality bristle brush to give it multiple thin coats for the best coverage. It’s a great time to show off your personal style, and these days any color goes! 

Every day you walk in through your newly made-over door, you’ll feel welcomed into your new home and inspired to keep creating a space you love.

 

#5 Choose Your Signature Scent

Every house has a smell. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that “other people smell” that’s definitely not your own particular brand of aroma. Even if the smell isn’t bad, it just isn’t yours, and that makes you feel like an intruder in someone else’s space. Make your dream home even more dreamy by filling it with your signature scent.  

Don’t have a signature scent? Check out a candle store or the air-freshener aisle to peruse the options, and then regularly use your favorite in your new home. My favorite is a lemon-vanilla-rosemary mix that I let simmer all day on the stove; it fills every room of the house.

In homes that have particularly distressing “stanks,” try getting the carpets cleaned before moving in the furniture. It can eliminate the smell as well as remove allergens, dirt, and stains.

 

Written By: KATIE AND JEREMY BOWER

things-do-when-moving-new-home-paint-door-retina_retina_1ef45c3838bab7f14d9f730195e8e025_1720x2580_q85

Link: https://www.houselogic.com/buy/moving-in/things-to-do-when-moving-into-new-home/

Sick of Winter? These Houseplants Will Perk Up Your Mood

February 8th, 2017

Yes, there are plants for winter depression, and here’s how they work.

Real talk: “JanuFeb” can be grim. The holidays are a distant memory, and now you have to slog through a barrage of dark, frigid days until spring makes its glorious appearance.

To escape that persistent winter funk, shake off that heated Snuggie and take a trip to the garden center. Studies suggest that stocking your home full of humble houseplants can boost your mood, big time — not to mention make your space feel cleaner, brighter, and healthier.

 

The Power of a Flower

Scientists agree that houseplants likely improve your outlook. Research suggests that plants have a positive effect on stress reduction, pain tolerance, and physical discomfort — but environmental psychologists aren’t exactly sure why this happens. It could be that plants simply make a room more colorful and attractive. Or, an indoor brush with nature may provide the same natural high and stress relief people feel in the great outdoors. There’s even a name for the phenomenon — biophilia (a love for nature) — and entire buildings have been designed to recreate it.

Keeping all those green guys alive is good for you, too. Research has shown taking care of plants can increase a sense of well-being and reduce stress.

 

Nature’s Air Freshener

Winter means tightly closed windows and stuffy quarters. Plants reduce stale air by producing oxygen. But also, according to research done by NASA back in the late 1980s, certain plants will even filter harmful pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the air. Some folks get headaches, asthma, or have chronic health issues from these VOCs (volatile organic compounds) — which could be off-gassing right this minute from your furniture, cleansers, and flooring! Just knowing that could make you pretty depressed.

To combat stale air, try some of these air-scrubbing horticultural heroes: Boston fern, English ivy, spider plant, bamboo palm, weeping fig, flamingo lily, peace lily, and cornstalk dracaena.

   

The Best Plants to Beat the Blues

What other plants can bring your spirits ‘round this winter?

Anthuriums. These beautiful flowering plants are super easy to care for. “They do need a decent amount of light, but they bloom consistently — especially during the February-March doldrums,” says Rebecca Bullene, founder of Greenery NYC, a botanic design company experienced in indoor plant installations and living plant design. “They’re big and beautiful. Those with red, pink, or white flowers are most common.”

   

Ferns, particularly the Kimberly Queen (Nephrolepis obliterata) and Boston (Nephrolepis exaltata) varieties. ”They need a bit more water and a decent amount of light, but they put a lot of humidity back in the air and will help make your space comfortable,” Bullene says. Plus, the Kimberlys are a little easier to care for than the average fern. “If you forget to water for a day or two,” she says, “they won’t crash out.”

   

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum). This hardy plant can handle the low light of winter. “It can be in a dark corner and still look amazing,” Bullene says. “The blackest of thumbs can take care of this plant.”

 

Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum). This plant is also a hardy one that’s hard to kill. Bullene recommends it for anyone without much experience with plants.

 

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Sword Plant, or Snake Plant (Sansevieria). This houseplant of many names is really drought-resistant. You can water it once a month and it grows in high or low light. “There are a lot of varieties that have cool shapes and colors,” Bullene says.   

 

So when the weather outside is frightful, make way for some greenery and invite some friends over. Call it a Houseplant Happy Hour. You just may be surprised by how genuinely happy your greener home makes you all winter long.

Written By: STACEY FREED

sick of winter

Link: https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/plants-for-depression/

Should I Sell or Rent Out My House? How to Weigh the Pros and Cons

February 3rd, 2017

Many homeowners who need to move decide to sell their current home so they can have plenty of cash to buy their next digs. Still, though, some might wonder: Should I sell or rent out my house? It’s a good question.

Owning rental property, after all, brings in predictable, long-term income. But make no mistake, backing into a landlord role comes with some hefty responsibilities—and no small amount of headaches.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide which road is right for you.

 

Can you afford to own two homes?

“Financial wherewithal should be the No. 1 component as you weigh whether to hold on to the house,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association. Here’s what that means:

  • First, consider whether you will need two mortgages, one for the new house you are (presumably) buying and one for the potential rental. If you have owned your home long enough, you may have enough equity that you can pay off the balance and be free and clear. If not, you’ll want to consult with a mortgage adviser to make sure you will qualify for a mortgage on both the rental and the home you’ll be living in.
  • Do the math on the return on investment of a rental. Check into local rental rates and see if there is a viable tenant stream, says Koki Adasi, team leader and founder of Koki & Associates at Long & Foster in Washington, DC. If you are depending on the rental income to cover the mortgage on your new home, you’ll need to be able to charge enough to cover that and then some. After all, a rental comes with its own expenses—like maintenance, repairs, and, if you opt for it, property management. There also may be times the house sits empty between tenants. “If the total monthly amount that you need supersedes rental market value, you may end up taking a monthly loss,” Lazenby says.
  • Also factor in potential tax benefits, advises Adasi. “Check into what costs you can write off, such as mortgage interest, property tax, operating expenses, depreciation, and repairs,” he says. In most states these expenses are tax write-offs; you also might be able to deduct fees associated with running the rental, including property management, attorneys, and cleaning services.

 

Will your old property appreciate?

Market conditions should weigh heavily in your decision as well.

  • “If you purchased the home at a good price and its value is rising steadily, you may want to hang on to it and accept any potential monthly loss in exchange for keeping your investment,” Lazenby says. You also might want to keep the home if you’ve recently purchased it and it has not yet increased enough in value to cover costs associated with selling, such as closing costs, transfer taxes, and other fees, says Adasi.
  • Look into comparable values in the neighborhood to evaluate the long-term outlook. Determine whether trends are pointing toward it being an up-and-coming locale or one on the decline. Although it’s impossible to predict the future, those types of evaluations can help you determine if the property is likely to rise or fall in market value.
  • And, consider the “opportunity cost.” Evaluate whether you would potentially make more investing that money elsewhere, such as in the stock market or other retirement vehicle.

 

Can you effectively oversee the rental?

Being a landlord isn’t for everyone, points out Lazenby. “Ask yourself if you will be able to tolerate the stress that comes with being responsible for the home you’re living in, as well as a rental, particularly if it is long-distance.”

And before you become a landlord, you need to conduct your due diligence: A decent amount of upfront research is needed on the licensing and other laws that pertain to rentals in your city, county, and state.

 

Will you ever want to return to your home, sweet home?

If you’re relocating, either for work or personal reasons, consider the possibility that you might return to the area at some point to be near family or friends, suggests Lazenby. If the home offered everything you wanted and the financial factors line up, you may choose to rent it out so that you one day have the option to return.

 

By Cathie Ericson | Jan 13, 2017

 

Link: http://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/should-i-sell-or-rent-my-house/

Should I Sell or Rent My House

7 Ways to Get the Best Work from Your Contractor

January 31st, 2017

We’ve been around enough remodeling jobs to know that if you want great results, you’ll need to actively manage the process — even if you’ve hired a general contractor to oversee the work. Get apathetic or lose your focus and you may pay for it — literally.

Here are seven smart ways to stay on top of the job and maintain strong communications with your contractor and construction team.

  1. Avoid Allowances

An allowance is a line item in the contractor’s bid for something that’s yet to be determined. For example, if you haven’t chosen the plumbing hardware for your new master suite, the contractor will put an allowance number in the budget as a placeholder.

But with such a wide range of price points for these products, his estimate may be far lower than what you wind up spending.

Try to eliminate allowances by sorting out all of your material and product selections before the contractor gives you an itemized bid for the job. Otherwise, do enough shopping to give the contractor an accurate ballpark price for the materials you’re considering.

  1. Establish Good Communication

Ask the contractor how he prefers to communicate with you. Good options include:

  • Being onsite and talking with your contractor every morning before work begins.
  • Having your contractor’s cell phone number and the OK to call or text anytime.
  • Talking with the job foreman every day at a pre-determined time.

Try to meet with the project leader at least once a day. This is an opportunity for you to hear progress reports and find out what work is scheduled over the coming days — and to ask your questions and voice any concerns you have.

  1. Keep a Project Journal

Your project journal is your friend and ally. Use it to:

  • Record progress.
  • Note things you want to ask your contractor.
  • Jot down ideas.
  • Record product order numbers.
  • Note upcoming delivery dates.

A journal helps keep communication clear, and provides a record of who said what when — which could help you iron out disputes later on.

  1. Track All Changes in Writing

Your team may encounter unforeseen structural issues, or you may decide to include additional work as the project evolves. Any good contractor can handle these changes — just make sure that he bids them in writing first. 

Specify in your remodeling contract that you want change orders in writing for anything that’s going to add to the bottom line of the job. That means the contractor must give you a description of the change and a fixed price for what it’ll cost. You both must sign the change order before the work is done.

  1. Check the Work

Be proactive about checking your contractor’s work. A good time to check is when the crew has left for the day. Make notes in your journal and bring up anything you’re wondering about during your daily check-in with your contractor or job foreman. You can:

  • Compare the model numbers on appliances and fixtures against your receipts, invoices, and the contractor’s bid to ensure that the right product was delivered.
  • Check the locations of window and door openings against the blueprints.
  • Note any quality issues, such as misaligned trim. You’re the client; you have the right to expect good work.
  1. Pay Only for Completed Work

Your remodeling contract should establish a series of payments to be made when certain aspects of the job are completed. For example, your contract could stipulate that you’ll pay in three equal installments, with the last payment to be made after the project is complete, and after you and your contractor agree the work is satisfactory. 

Never put down more than 10% upfront; any more than that is too much cash to hand over before any work is complete. Your contractor should be able to get any necessary supplies on credit.

  1. Be a Good Customer

One of the best ways to get quality work out of a contractor and construction crew is to make them enjoy working for you. That means being decisive with the contractor — and giving him a check promptly at the agreed-to points in the project. 

Being friendly and accommodating of the workers is a great way to motivate them to do their best for you. Try:

  • Designating a bathroom that they can use.
  • Greeting them by name each morning.
  • Serving them cold lemonade on a hot day.
  • Complimenting their work (as long as you feel it’s worthy of praise).

 

Written By: Oliver Marks

Link: https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/budgeting-contracting/getting-best-work-contractor/

7 Ways to Get the Best Work from Your Contractor