Read a home decorating magazine or watch a cable-TV home improvement show, and you might easily conclude that any upgrade will pay off when you sell. This is simply not so because even in good times, not all projects have widespread appeal. You’ll earn back virtually your entire investment in a kitchen or deck, but less than 75 cents on the dollar if you add a home office or sunroom, according to "Remodeling" magazine’s annual cost vs. value survey.
What’s worse, some renovations can even hurt you in the eyes of home buyers, a costly problem if you hope to sell in a softening market like today’s.
The Swimming Pool:
In some areas, especially hot-weather spots like Arizona and Florida, a pool is a must-have. In the Southwest, adding one boosts your home’s value by 11 percent on average, according to a National Association of Realtors study. But elsewhere it can just as easily turn off buyers, who worry about affording the upkeep and insurance. And if the most likely buyer of your home is a family with small children, think long and hard before installing a pool.
"People with younger children may be leery of houses with pools for safety reasons," says Barry Graziano, a real estate agent with Prudential Rand Realty in White Plains, N. Y. "I’ve had families walk away. A pool can cut down on the number of people who will want to buy your house."
You’ve thought about how that great room and master bedroom wing will let the family spread out. But what you probably haven’t considered is what the space will look like from the outside.
"A badly designed addition can kill your resale value," says Sal Alfano, the editorial director of Remodeling. "People focus on the floor plan and the flow, but not on how it fits into the neighborhood or even the house itself."
Watch out for boxy, poorly detailed additions and be careful of a style that will look dated when you throw your open house. Spotting the trend that’s on its way out is trickier than you think. While it is easy to assume that sleek red European kitchen cabinetry is tomorrow’s harvest gold fridge, other design staples that seem like sure bets can quickly drift into obscurity too.
That’s what Mark Johnson, a Whirlpool design manager, says is happening to stainless-steel appliances. "For a period of time, people aspired to a commercial kitchen" he says. "What I am seeing is more interest in warmer finishes."
You want a design trend with legs. Johnson says custom panels that dress appliances in maple or mahogany finishes are likely to remain popular for several years. Also, think about the materials for hardware like hinges and light fixtures. Polished brass or anything shiny is out. Brushed nickel is a better option. Johnson is betting that oiled-bronze finishes will take off next.
The elaborate master bath is okay, but the big circular tub with 15 jets that can pulse or massage is risky.
According to Holly Slaughter, brand manager at RealEstate.com, you’re better off with an oversize shower that has a rain showerhead and multiple jets (think of it as a car wash for humans).
Baby boomers have little time to spend hanging out in the bathtub, and parents with small kids prefer a conventional tub. Ultimately, don’t expect a future buyer to pay up for the luxury you considered an essential.
If you have antiques or want to start your own collection of heirloom quality furniture, you need only a desire and a checking account. Heirloom quality furnishing and items make a terrific statement in your home as to the care and quality of your furnishings as well as enhance your decorations with their natural beauty.
An heirloom is a treasure. It can take the form of jewelry, linens, furniture or any other item that you and your family treasure. You great-grandmother’s wedding ring is an heirloom as is your mother’s dining room table – provided they have value to you or someone else. Most heirlooms are especially well built and last for centuries with proper care.
Shopping for Heirlooms
If you don’t already have heirloom quality pieces of your own to decorate your home, you can shop for them in a variety of ways.
The first is to visit estate sales in your area where families are selling items from the home of their departed relatives. These estate sales might offer you terrific bargains on heirlooms, but they may also require a bit of refinishing and care to bring them up to the quality of their past.
Another option is to visit antique options or shops. Trade fairs, displays, shops and warehouses of antiques offer a collection of items gathered by those with a presumable eye for quality and beauty. Browse the collection for items that appeal to your decorating sense and budget. Don’t be afraid to bargain and always ask plenty of questions.
While heirlooms often seem old, there is nothing stopping you from buying items such as grandfather clocks that will become an heirloom in the future. Seth Thomas clocks, for example, are a fine statement in any home and will be treasured by generations to come. Find quality craftsman through select furniture stores or by referral from design agencies and have your furniture crafted by hand.
Decorating with Heirlooms
When using heirlooms to decorate, be sure to place the items in areas where they will be protected. Use table runners and placemats to protect surfaces and consider sheets of glass on top of dressers and tables to keep the wood preserved. Clean and polish the heirlooms regularly to protect the finish and be sure to properly insure any pieces of value.
The formal essay is a fundamental in education. A formal essay is the best way to share knowledge on a particular topic and is a very popular form of exam. An essay can be personal or research based, but an essay generally follows the same format.
A well written essay can easily be tied back to an outline. It is heavily framed than then fleshed out with details. An outline for a classic five paragraph essay looks like this:
I. Introductory Paragraph
II. Main Idea #1
a. Detail about Main Idea #1
b. Detail about Main Idea #1
c. Detail about Main Idea #1
III. Main Idea #2
a. Detail about Main Idea #2
b. Detail about Main Idea #2
c. Detail about Main Idea #2
IV. Main Idea #3
a. Detail about Main Idea #3
b. Detail about Main Idea #3
c. Detail about Main Idea #3
V. Closing Paragraph and Summary
The introduction to your essay should contain your thesis statement. This is the one sentence that summarizes your entire paper. All supporting paragraphs will provide details about this statement, so it must be broad enough to say your complete message, but it also must make a solid point. Generally the thesis statement is the first or last sentient of the introductory paragraph.
Each of the body paragraphs in an essay makes a point. Each paragraph should follow the same format as shown by the outline above. The first sentience of each is the topic sentence for that paragraph. The topic sentence should contain only one supporting point, such as “The French Revolution was disappointing to many of the French peasants of the time.”
Then, each of the remaining 3-4 sentences should give details and proof as to how and why the peasants were disappointed. Each paragraph should make a different point with at least two supporting statements and details following the topic sentence. You can have as many body paragraphs as you do points to make.
The Closing Paragraph:
After you have introduced your topic and stated your point using your thesis statement, you offer support. Your body paragraphs offer supporting statements and details that show your thesis statement to be correct. Finally, you must wrap up your support and close the paper using a powerful ending.
The closing paragraph restates your thesis and ties in the supporting statements. Ideally you should have a powerful final statement that will linger in the mind of your reader and help cement your point. In some cases, the closing paragraph could be shortened to a single sentence and tacked onto the end of the final body paragraph, but it is cleaner to simply add a final paragraph.
From a very high perspective, an essay is clean and tidy. You first introduce your topic and tell the reader what you are about to say. Then, you say it. Finally, you wrap it up and tell the reader what you just said. There is no room for extra items or long drawn out side stories.
Realtor fees are expensive. The fees realtors charge on a traditional home sale range from five to eight percent of the sale price – that is a substantial bite into your potential profits. Many would be home sellers are starting to shun realtors in favor of selling their homes on their own. For Sale by Owner or FSBO real estate is a growing field, and selling your home without a realtor may be much easier than you think.
Your first step to selling your home without a realtor is to get ready for parades of prospective buyers. Put away your knick-knacks, clean up your home and apply a fresh coat of paint and consider putting down new carpet. At the very least, have your existing carpet steam cleaned. Do what you can to increase curb appeal and be sure you have all liens cleared on your loan. You don’t want any hold ups or surprises should you get an interested party.
The majority of homes are sold through a multiple listing service (MLS) which is a private data base used by realtors trying to show properties to prospective buyers. Usually this listing is the primary function of your realtor, but you can have your home attractively listed on your own. There are many websites and companies that will list your home for a fee or even for free with certain conditions.
Be sure to include all attributes of the home without vague adjectives such as “beautiful” and “gorgeous.” Take plenty of flattering pictures and include those with your listing as well.
Being listed in the MLS is an excellent start for being noticed, but you must do your own publicity as well. List your home for sale on internet sales sites and the local paper. Put out a sign in the front yard and have an open house or two. Be sure to advertise the open house with plenty of signs and other attention grabbing techniques. The more people who come through your home, the more likely you are to sell it.
When you get an offer on your home, unless you are a mortgage broker yourself, you may consider working with a real estate lawyer or mortgage broker to be sure you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” come closing. It is possible to handle all paperwork yourself, but do your research very carefully as you can run into serious trouble if you don’t file all paperwork correctly.
When you’re ready to buy a home, you don’t ever want to settle for less than what’s perfect for you and your situation. Buying a home is a combination of emotional decision making and rational thought processes. You want to research your areas but also fall in love with your property. Here’s how to find the perfect home.
Consider Your Budget
Your first consideration for a home is how much you can actually afford to spend. Use financial calculators available on almost every bank’s website or speak to a lender to determine how much you are realistically able to spend on your new home.
Check Your Location
When buying a new home, location is everything. You can buy a cottage in one area for the price of a mansion in anther all based on the value of the location. If you’re trying to get within walking distance of your work, do research on that area and particular neighborhood. Speak with a realtor about the prices of homes in that area and compare it to other areas in the city or town.
A valuable location, such as Colorado real estate, will almost never lose value, but will continue to become even more worthwhile as home builders are forced to move farther out from the center of town to find new land to build upon. Find an ideal location first before looking for a specific property.
Plan Your Home
Before looking at properties make a realistic list of what you want from your home. If your budget is low, don’t expect five bedrooms and marble, but you can certainly list the number of bedrooms you’d like, the number of bathrooms, the living areas, the style of home, the type of garage, the size and presence of a yard or patio, and the type of kitchen in the home.
Find Your Home
Begin looking at properties screened to meet your budget and location. As you walk through each one, feel the home emotionally, but be sure to check for your attributes as well. If you love a home, but it is missing a bedroom, are you willing to sacrifice that space for the other features you love? Ideally you find a home you love that meets all your criteria. Otherwise find a home you love that meets enough of your criteria. That way you’ll always be pleased at what you’re coming home to.
If you didn’t manage to prevent problems through tenant screening and are now stuck with a bad tenant, you need to be rid of the burden as quickly as possible. There are certain rules and regulations you need to follow, but here’s how to evict a tenant.
Determine the Exact Legal Problem
To legally evict (or kick out) a tenant, you have to have a legitimate legal reason to do so. Your reason can be something like “failure to pay rent” or “repeated failure to abide by the terms of the lease contract.” Usually, you give a warning the first time or two, but you must absolutely be sure to document every warning or conversation about problems. You need a paper trail to prove your tenant is bad, so be sure to send every notice in writing with a copy for yourself. If possible, have the tenant sign to verify the warning.
Serve the Tenant with a Notice
When the tenant has been warned at least once (or twice for good measure) and you’re ready to move forward, check the regulations in your city and state. Then, following those regulations to the letter, properly serve your tenant with an eviction notice. Your state may require this be done by a licensed police officer. If you fail to serve the notice correctly, your eviction notice may not be valid or even legal.
Use the Legal System
Following the notice, hopefully your tenant will agreeably move out, and you can both move on with your lives. If this is not the case, however, you must use the legal system to get your freeloader on his way.
File an eviction lawsuit against the tenant and be prepared to show every scrap of your documentation about how terrible a boarder he was. It’s very possible he will counter sue which is why you must follow the letter of the law. Do not give him a reason to sue you – you can’t “help” him move out, change the locks, or doing anything in retaliation other than filing the lawsuit following failure to leave.
The lawsuit may go smoothly, or it may get nasty. A knowledgeable real estate attorney can help keep the process moving and help you be sure you are staying well within the rules and regulations of your state.
Eventually, assuming you are in the right and have the documents to prove it, you will win your suit and your tenant will be moved along with the assistance of local law enforcement. If you’re very lucky, he might even be required to pay back rent and legal fees, but don’t hold your breath.
A short sale, or flip, seems simple enough when you watch a television program or read of other people’s success. Flipping a home can be simple if you know what you’re doing and the real estate markets support you. But short sales can be risky at the best of times. Here’s how to do a short sale.
Find a Market
Before you even think about a home, you must first find a housing market with conditions accommodating to a short sale. Area such as California have seem home prices rise dramatically in almost all areas, especially for homes that have been updated. Rising home prices and high levels of demand are ideal for a short sale. Be sure you’ve found a neighborhood where fixing up a home will bring you profits, not be lost in the sale process if the upgrades don’t add the right balance of value to the home for the area.
Find the Right Home
Look within your selected market for a home that is in need of updating but that doesn’t have expensive necessary repairs such as roofing or foundation work. Redoing a kitchen and updating fixtures is one thing, but repairing termite and water damage is another. Find a home that seems to be behind its neighbors. By bringing that home up to date, it should make it more valuable if the entire neighborhood is increasing in value.
Find a Cheap Home Loan
When you’re doing a short sale, you’re not interested in building equity over time. You want to mortgage the house for as little as possible for the six months to a year that you’ll be holding it. California mortgage options include interest only and short-term variable rate loans ideally suited for this purpose.
Complete Home Upgrades
To maximize profits, you must complete repairs as quickly as possible without spending an arm and a leg. Find a good general contractor if you’re too busy or inexperienced to act as your own and keep the workers coming. The longer it takes to sell, the more profit is lost. Upgrade areas that are obviously in need of updating, but focus your attention on areas that make a substantial impact such as kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and the living areas.
Sell Your Home!
Sell the home as quickly as you can. Short sales can take as little as a few weeks or might take up to a year. The moment your house is presentable, put it back on the market. Stage it well and work on curb appeal to sell it quickly. Every month it sits, you’re losing money in mortgage payments, so be flexible in your sale price – price it to sell, not necessarily to maximize profit. Waiting three months to sell $10,000 higher might net you nothing if you paid as much in mortgage payments during that time.
It can be depressing to think about, but every adult should spend time planning and preparing their estate. When you are ready, here’s how to plan your estate.
Retirement planning and estate planning overlap, but are not necessarily the same thing. Your estate is the bulk of your assets when you die. Presumably, those assets helped sustain you during your retirement. So when planning for retirement, you must also give some thought to your estate as well.
Assess Your Situation
The first place to start in estate planning is to assess your situation. How much money do you have in retirement funds? How much will you realistically be spending each year? Are you trying to retire early? Will your retirement funds be enough to last through the end of your retirement?
Tally up all of your assets. If your total net worth is over one million dollars, you should strongly consider a trust. Even if your total is less than one million, a trust will allow you to set conditions on how your money is distributed after your death. It also offers protection from government taxes.
Set up Your Will
If you do not already have a will in place, set one up immediately. This will save time and legal proceedings when you pass, even if you have no funds left in your retirement accounts. A will specifies who receives what from your estate. Speak with a lawyer or financial planner to have a will set up to maximize your estate.
Set up a Power of Attorney
You must also have a power of attorney to execute the will. Your power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf, so it is necessary to have a power of attorney in place before you become incapacitated in any way.
Set up a Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will
You need to specify your plans for hospitalization and life support. You can set up a plan telling doctors to keep you on life support as long as humanly possible, or you can ask to not be resuscitated or kept alive solely by machines. A medical power of attorney or healthcare proxy will act on your behalf when you become unable to make your own medical decisions.
The government has powerful estate tax laws that are changing a bit now, but will solidify in a few years. This means that any estate over $1-3.5 million can be taxed at almost 50% by the government. It is important to set up a trust to protect the assets when you are gone, or you can begin distributing funds now to avoid the tax burden. You can currently give an individual $12,000 a year (or $24,000 if you’re married) tax free. You can also pay unlimited amounts of education and medical bills on behalf of someone else or set up charitable donations tax free.
Explain Your Plan
Finally, you need to explain your plan to your family. Be sure others have a copy of your documents and explain your desires and rationale. This will help avoid confusion or even conflict at the time of your passing.
Buying a car can be one of the most stressful times in order to get the right one for you. With all the different styles and colors you can easily get duped into buying a useless car for an extortionate price. By reading the following you will have an understanding of what to look out for and avoid any nasty surprises.
How do you choose the perfect car for you?
Before you start your search for a new car you need to decide what you intend to use it for, if your planning on getting a car for regular family vacations then a sports car with only two seats will be of no use, at the other end of the spectrum if your looking for a fast, stylish classy car you will not want an estate car with loads of excess storage space.
Consider your options
You should consider more then just the looks when choosing a new car. Parkers.co.uk is a great site which you can view every car’s miles per gallon, 0 to 60 speed, top speed, break horse power and every important factor that you should know about your potential new car. Another main factor you need to consider is the insurance group, you should always get an insurance quote before you buy a new car so you know you won’t be paying extortionate price.
If you’re younger you may not even be able to get insured on the car you are wishing to buy so that’s another advantage of checking prior to buying. The insurance plays a very important role when considering new cars, sometimes you can be paying just as much per year in insurance as the total cost of the car. Also on parkers.co.uk it will give you some of the advantages and disadvantages on that particular model which may influence your decision.
Look out for:
There are many things that you can look out for in order to ensure your buying a quality car from a reputable dealer. The first thing is that you should shop around for a while after you have decided what car you want. Compare the different models along with the mileage and year on each car so you get an estimate price that you will need to pay.
If you have found the right car you don’t want to jump into buying it, as hard as it may seem. Buying the first car you see can be the biggest mistake you can make and cost you even more in the long run. You need to avoid the bigger car dealers as they often over charge you to make a bigger profit margin on each car.
The same can be found in the lesser popular local dealer as they often seem to have deals that are too good to be true, more times then not, they will be. Always check the mileage of the car as this is one of the most important factors as it shows the true age and quality of the vehicle, a car with high mileage may be liable for technical faults which can be an expensive job to correct.
You should always check around the outside and inside of any car before you make an offer to ensure that it’s good value for money and most of all safe to drive on the road. If possible take a mechanic so they can check over the car guaranteeing it’s mechanically sound and doesn’t have excess rust for its age or any oil leaks etc. Before you make a decision take the desired car on a test drive to see how it handles, even little things down to the clutch stiffness can manipulate your final decision so it’s always best to pick a variety of cars and test each and every one.
You can buy new cars from local dealers or check around the internet which gives you the benefit of checking in your own time in the comfort on your own home. If you’re checking on the internet you can see pictures but you need to see a car in real life to see the quality of the car as you can only see what’s shown in pictures which can mislead certain people.