Author: Lester Jimenez

Red Flags To Look Out For When Buying A Home

Buying a house is supposed to be a fun and exciting time. The problem, however, is that because we want to buy a home so badly, we sometimes don’t see the flaws the property has. Although we do sometimes fall in love with a property, we should never purchase it without running a few necessary checks. Let’s take a look at a few of these red flags.

First and foremost, check the neighborhood. It cannot be underestimated how important it is to check on this. The community is either growing and decline and you need to find out which one it is. Signs of decline include numerous boarded up businesses and foreclosed homes. Make sure you visit the area on two different occasions. This is also a great way to find out what traffic is like. Make sure you come during an evening once as well, so you can find out whether there is any noise pollution or traffic problems when it is supposed to be quiet. Speak to the police and ask for statistics on local crimes.

Now, you need to see how the property was looked after. You should be able to tell whether it was maintained regularly. A home that is run down on the outside will probably be in a similar state on the inside. Make sure to inspect the wiring. Real issues can only be identified by a qualified professional, but you can get a good idea yourself. Flickering lights and hot outlets are major red flags. Similarly, if you notice that there is a single wall, or just a few walls that have been painted very recently, where others haven’t, the owners may be hiding something. Also look at the windows. If there are signs of condensation or windows don’t open properly, it could be a sign of serious damage that will cost you a lot to repair.Naturally, never view a property that you are not allowed to see in full. If there have been any structural changes to the original property, you need to check whether these were done in accordance with various building regulations.

When push comes to shove, you are the only one who can work out whether or not you want to purchase a property. Plus, it is certainly true that a home with problems is often a home that can be sold at an even greater discount. On the other hand, if you then have to pay even more money to fix it up, or if you can never sell it again, then it was a waste of money. A home is a place where someone, either you or a tenant, will have to live and this means it does have to be an enjoyable property to seem extent. Although it is certainly true that you should look into the condition of the actual property, focusing on the neighborhood is equally important. A property inspector is all you really need in order to look into the condition of the actual property after all. When it comes to checking out the neighborhood, however, it isn’t so much about cold, hard data, but rather about personal feelings and emotions and whether or not you like it.

Choosing The Right Investment Property

Real estate investing can be very risky, but it can also be highly lucrative. Everybody believes that location, location, location is what matters the most, but it is actually more important to know who you are dealing with. Unfortunately, there are some really unscrupulous people in the world of real estate. Consider those late night advertisements on television, where realtors promise to make you a millionaire, for instance.

First of all, you want to get a return on your investment. To invest in the illiquid asset that is real estate, you will have to take money out of your liquid assets. You need to strive to get a return rate that is the same as what it was on your liquid assets. This means that you should find a true cash flow property, and not a money pit.

Also, make sure that your investment isn’t too risky. Real estate is always risky, but some more so than others. Avoid tenant-in-common, real estate development, fixer uppers and private real estate funds for instance. Indeed, with these options, so much can go wrong that you are likely to never see a return on your investment. Instead, choose to have titles that are totally yours, on properties that are interesting. Naturally, this means you need to take the time to do research and analysis, and you must exert due diligence. Do not pick properties that will be highly time-consuming through managing them for instance. Stay away from student rentals, vacation properties and bad neighborhood homes, for instance. What you want is a long term rental opportunity with tenants with a good credit profile. This does require a commitment on your side to treat your tenants with the respect they deserve. It is impossible to never have a problem with your property, but so long as you deal with issues quickly, this shouldn’t be anything to really worry about.

You could also look for REITs (real estate investment rrusts). This means you need less investing capital up front, but the returns are not as high either. When you sign up with a REIT, your money is invested in real estate corporations. Through a REIT, you can invest in anything ranging from an industrial park to a shopping mall. You can find out how well your money is performing through the NASDAQ and stock exchange. A REIT, essentially, is like a mutual fund that only looks at real estate. Before you start, however, you need to think about a few things. Look into the economic conditions of the locations of the key holdings first. Also look into the performance history of the REIT. You should also investigate their future plans. Looking into the REIT’s manager and what their experience is. Last but not least, consider what the real estate market looks like and how this could affect how your REIT will perform.

Don’t End Up Making the Same Avoidable Mistakes That Most Current Homeowners Made. Here’s How to Steer Clear of Home Buyer’s Remorse

Half of parents regret their home purchase. Moving can be an overwhelming experience, and when you add kids and parenting pressures to the mix, rushed decisions tend to be made. The following information will explain certain regrets and anxieties parents feel during and after the move, so you can learn from their mistakes.

Choosing home over commute: most remorseful parents feel the commute takes too much time away from their family. The house is great, but once you have kids, more time on the road means missing school plays, family dinners and often bedtime. You can avoid this by making sure to talk to people in the town where youre about to buy. Before you make a purchase, hang out at a local coffee shop, play at the playground, or join the community’s parent forum. Ask what the commute is really like. If most people are just sucking it up, determine if the town is worth that sacrifice.

Kids at open houses: did you check out the closet space? Did you look for other details that are important to you in a home? Kids can create chaotic and rushed home shopping experiences. Almost all of agents say that parents cut a home tour short due to their children. You can avoid this by hiring a babysitter, set up family care or arrange weekend playdates so you and your partner can concentrate and take your time. 

Not family-friendly enough: a little under half of families wish they had a finished basement, some wish they had more of a yard, and the rest wish they had a playroom. These are the types of family features that creep up on couples as their kids needs grow. Avoid this mistake by asking parent-friends what they love most about their home and what theyd change. From this, make a list of your family’s priorities, before you meet with your agent.

The neighbors: many families wish their neighbors had kids the same age as theirs. The proximity of kids, and people you have shared interests with, becomes increasingly important as you all try to build a new support network.
Avoid this by being sure to look around. What signs of kids your age do you see? Go to the closest park and ask questions. Use your kid-free open house days to knock a neighbor’s door and learn about the street.

Mistakes made during the move

Too much fighting: So much time is spent on fighting during the move. Spending extra money just might be worth less stress, anxiety, and arguments. Share how you feel about leaving and any ideas that might help your partner make this easier for you. The calmer you are, the happier you can be about the move.

Not enough help: Parents cite time and extra hands as some of the biggest stress-points of a move. Hiring someone to pack and unpack will make the move less stressful. So, hire people to help you pack and organize for the move. Leaning on these types of services can help lower your stress (and lessen the arguments!). 

Moving day chaos: Most buyers don’t have the house cleaned professionally before they move in. And a fair amount of owners say that kids make this day the most stressful thing about moving. Avoid this by making a splurge on a professional cleaning job.


Common Homeowner Dilemma Answered: How to Choose the Right Plumbing Fixtures For Your New Home and Why it Matters

Remember when your bathroom and kitchen plumbing fixtures used to come in a few styles, and the options were limited to 2 or 3 metals and colors? Today, plumbing fixtures come in varying metals, faucet types, and control options.  There is a style to match your decor, and your family’s lifestyle. From faucets that turn on with a slight touch, to fixtures that cascade water out in a waterfall, there are ones that are perfect for your home. Here are tips to choose plumbing fixtures that will enhance your sink, tub or shower area, and be a joy to use every day!

Decide what decor style fits your home: Whether your kitchen/bath is traditional or ultra modern, your plumbing fixtures should take cues from the decor. For rooms that have ornamentation, and traditional lines consider using fixtures which have similar details. For minimalist detailing choose simple and clean lines in your fixtures. Strong horizontals and chrome or nickel metals are synonymous with modern styling.

Take cues from your sink/bathtub: Before you decide on fixtures, take a look at your sink or bathtub. Do you have a country style farmhouse kitchen sink or a luxurious garden bathtub? Many plumbing fixture manufacturers group their products into designer lines that will help you pair up fixture with your current sink, bath or shower. Use pre-matched inspiration ideas to show you what plumbing fixtures would look best in your space.

Assess your family lifestyle: Every home has different wear and tear based on its family members and where the fixture is located. Most kitchen faucets receive more use than a tub or shower fixture. If you have a lot of dirty hands that will constantly be touching the kitchen faucet, consider getting one with hands free or one touch controls. If your home is going to be the subject of a lot of entertaining than opting for a wow factor fixture with high polished metal or a dramatic silhouette may be perfect for your space. 

Know your budget: Plumbing fixtures are one part of home improvements that you don’t think about until you have to. Shop around for prices and inspiration ideas before you need to choose. This will help you not buy on raw emotion, which can often times be costly! If you are on a tight budget, see if there are wholesale plumbing fixture dealers or warehouses in your area. Often times these resources will sell designer or manufacturer fixtures that are discontinued or have slight imperfections. Search online for resources in your area. 

 Similar to decor accessories making the finishing touches in interior design, plumbing fixtures are the shining adornment of your sink, bathtub or shower. Choose from metals that range from antique bronze and shiny gold to brushed nickel and copper. If you are selling your home consider upgrading your plumbing fixtures if they are outdated. Often time’s updated fixtures will make your renovation dollar go further than having to spend a lot for a full remodel.  Whether it’s for resale or for your own enjoyment, see how your kitchen or bath can be transformed with plumbing fixtures. See this useful video for more tips.

Should You Extend Your Home? Pros and Cons to Help You Decide if a Home Addition is Right For You and Your Family

With a slow housing market that doesn’t show any signs of picking up soon, many people are opting to stay put and extend their existing home, rather than move. This may seem like a great idea and a good way to save both money and time, but before you jump in, there are a few things you need to consider. Here’s what you need to know before heading off towards your new house extension. 

This is probably one of the most fundamental questions, and the first thing you should ask yourself. So before you do anything, sit down and decide exactly how much you have to spend. Don’t forget to include extras such as your architect’s fees and the costs of your planning application if necessary. Once you’ve given yourself a budget, stick to it.

What are you looking to achieve with this extension?
Are you looking for a new living area that the whole family can enjoy, an extra bedroom for a new arrival or a home office? What you want to use your extension for and what you want to do in it will determine what kind of alteration you make to your home. 

How long will it take, and do you have that kind of time?
House extensions don’t happen overnight; and even getting planning permission and building regulations approval can sometimes take months. So be patient, and expect some upheaval and interruption to normal family life while the building is going on. You may want to consider the time of year, factor in things like holidays, family events and other occasions for which you will want full use of your house without the builders being in. Once you do decide the best time window for you property extension to be built, the secret is to plan it ahead as far as possible.

Do you need to get permission?
For some property alterations such as loft conversions and single storey extensions, or certain types of sun rooms, you may not need planning permission. But you are well advised to check all local planning regulations and requirements first before making any definite plans to proceed. Check with your local planning officer for more information. 

Will you need an architect?
Big projects such as loft conversions or external home extensions are not simple DIY jobs, and they can go very wrong. You will need the services of an expert if you are planning on making major alterations to your property, and in fact part of the planning application may have to include plans produced by a qualified architect and other consultants such as structural engineers. You will need to factor in the cost of an architect and, if required, an engineer, to your overall budget.

Will the design impact the neighbors?
This is a particularly important consideration, especially if you are making major alterations to your property. Do you share a party wall with your neighbors, and will your alterations potentially damage their property? There is also the social aspect; your plans may impact on their quality of life during the construction period, so it’s wise to keep your neighbours fully informed of your intentions right from the start.

Which way will the home be extended out to?
Where you put your house extension is the next decision. Loft conversions are increasingly popular; so if you have the option of converting your attic space into a new room without any external signs of extending the property it’s definitely worth considering. The most common option for simply gaining extra space either is either a single storey or two storey extension, for which you may want to build out to the side of your home. 

Do you know any good contractors?
Unless you’re an experienced builder yourself, the likelihood is that you will need to get a professional building firm in to do the work, even if it’s a smaller job like a loft conversion. Choose wisely, and take note of the recommendations of friends who have had work done on their properties, or see if your architect can provide contacts.

Set yourself a strict timetable for completion. The chances are that it will over-run, but if you lay down the ground rules for completion at the very start of the project you can avoid living on a building site for months on end.

Selecting Flooring: How to Figure Out Which Floor to Use. Learn How to Combine Function and Style Here

One of the most exciting times in your life can be choosing a home! From what city you will live in to what neighborhood you decide to raise your family, buying the right home is a major decision. Even more importantly is how you and your family will use your home and ensure it fits with your lifestyle and the right floor plan can shape how you experience your home. From the size and shape, to where the rooms are located in adjacent to each other can make or break your home experience. Before you get overwhelmed, here are some pointers. 

Decide what size of home will best suit your family
Not every family needs a gigantic house, and not every family won’t feel comfortable in a small two bedroom home. Choosing a floor plan first should start with how large a home will fit your lifestyle. Assess how many bedrooms you will require for your children and how many bathrooms are enough for you and visiting guests. The size of your home should be the first consideration.

Choose a floor plan based on your design style
Everyone homeowner has their own design style and choosing a floor plan that meets those needs is essential. Are you more traditional and prefer a compartmentalized floor plan where walls separate rooms or do you have a more modern style where an open floor plan concept would suit your needs better? Think of your furnishings and how you will decorate your home when choosing a floor plan. 

Decide what type of dwelling type fits your location
Depending on where you live could dictate what type of floor plan will best suit your family. Split-level floor plans means your entire floors are split to separate levels and don’t consume the entire footprint of your home.

Understand what the pros and cons are of your floor plan
There isn’t a perfect floor plan. There will always be pros and cons and you will need to decide what are your priorities and what can you learn to live with or without.  A large living room window wall that lets in gorgeous natural light may also make your energy cooling and heating bills higher. A floor plan that is open and spacious could make it hard to concentrate in your adjacent home office as your kids are watching tv in the living room. Weigh the pros and cons when looking for the right floor plan.

Make your decision based on the layout not the finishes
When choosing a floor plan ensure you are basing your decision on how the home flows and feels functional for your daily activities. A floor plan shouldn’t feel good because of the nice carpet that could go in the living room, it should feel right because the living room is a welcoming room off of the kitchen and foyer area for guests and family members.

Ask a real estate or design professional for guidance
While you may know what you want in your future home, a design professional or realtor could help you consider factors that aren’t tangible to the eye and touch. Factors such as energy savings/costs, possible affordability of mortgage payments, location to local resources like schools, churches and stores, and maintenance experience are all factors that a professional can give their guidance on.

Determine if you will need to use existing or buy new furniture
While you may only be thinking about the rooms and layout of your floor plan, choosing furniture is a major investment and emotional challenge if you aren’t careful. If you decide to use your current furniture in your next home, ensure you measure it and take this into account when reviewing floor plans. If you will buy new furniture you will still need to have an idea when shopping on what pieces will fit into what rooms.

Know your budgetary limits before choosing a floor plan
Before getting your heart set on one type of floor plan, know what the costs are associated with the layout. Ask a contractor or builder to help you determine costs as you narrow down to the floor plan that fits within your budget.


Choosing Hardware For Your New Construction Home Isn’t Easy. Read These Tips to Help You Make a Decision You Won’t Regret

Aged Bronze: Aged bronze is an elegant and sophisticated finish with warm copper tones that break through its darker, aged exterior. It’s a traditionally inspired finish that finds its style rooted in the Victorian era, but also heavily in the Arts & Crafts movement. This finish works exceptionally well with ornate, handmade, craftsmen-style furnishings. 

Antique Brass: Antique Brass is rich with brown hues and golden undertones that lend a warm, inviting appeal. This finish closely resembles the look of natural brass and is undeniably Victorian, with hints of Colonial era style occasionally peeking through. The high-gloss finish gives it a touch of the modern world.

Bright Brass: The Bright Brass finish is highly reflective, with a warm golden sheen that lends the finish a certain vintage appeal. This finish is commonly found in older, colonial homes. The widespread availability of bright brass makes it easy to find and, therefore, easy to match with other hardware, fixtures and accessories. 

Bright Chrome: The smooth-mirror like finish of bright chrome gives it a dramatic allure. Bright chrome finds its inspiration in the Art Deco movement.

Distressed Nickel: Distressed nickel is a textured finish, full of character. It boasts refined silver hues and dark undertones that thrive in a refurbished industrial space with a rustic vibe that is reminiscent of the Old World. Today, the finish is growing increasingly popular.

Matte Black: The striking appearance of the matte black finish creates an elegant look that’s sure to be noticed in any style setting. Matte black is unique in its ability to serve as a bridge between the worlds of modern and traditional styles. It’s a fashionable finish that caters to a modern look. 

Oil-Rubbed Bronze: The oil-rubbed bronze finish is the perfect finish for rustic, down-to-earth living spaces that need a touch of Old World character. This finish is suited for a specific look. Its living finish changes over time giving it a constantly evolving presentation.

Polished Nickel: The polished nickel finish is a glamorous designer finish that’s adaptability allows it to blend into nearly any design theme without being overlooked. It was inspired by the timeless sophistication of the Victorian era. Because this finish is made from solid nickel, its color and appearance can change with a simple change of lighting. It’s also one of the easiest finishes to clean with its polished, lacquered look. 

Satin Brass: Satin brass is the epitome of modern elegance. With subtle hints of gold that are bold without being over the top, this finish has the perfect amount of understated style. The satin brass finish is quickly becoming one of the most popular choices for the home as a modern upgrade to bright brass, which is especially evident in furniture and cabinetry trends, where the matte look of the satin brass finish won’t show fingerprints or tarnish easily.

Satin Chrome: Satin chrome has a moderately contemporary look and feel that takes its origins from the Bauhaus style movement. It is typically used in commercial applications. 

Satin Nickel: Satin nickel is a versatile finish, full of brushed silver hues, that offers a tasteful and flattering accent to any project. This finish saw its rise to popularity alongside the Victorian and Mid-Century Modern design movements.