Friday, May 17, 2019

How to Use Your Spring Cleaning to Help Others

Spring Cleaning – whether you do much or a little, provides the opportunity to clean up your home and give to others. Your unwanted furniture, clothes or kids toys can be used by a multitude or organizations in a way that will positively affect those in your community.  Here are a few ways to give back.
1.     Assess Your Donations

It’s a good idea to go through your donations and decide what would really benefit someone and what needs to be thrown away.  Some items can’t be donated for safety or health reasons such as household chemicals and mattresses. Fragrances and cosmetics are often not accepted by thrift stores for sanitary reasons as well. Call ahead before donating bulky appliances as they may be too difficult for thrift stores to handle.

Baby items such as cribs, car seats and strollers can only be donated if they meet the current safety standards and are not subject to a recall.  Call ahead before donating these items.

2.     Figure Out Where to Donate
Goodwill and The Salvation Army are national organizations that take used items and use them to benefit the community through thrift store sales or donations. For larger items you can contact them and arrange a time for a pick up.
Habitat for Humanity ReStores sell new and gently used furniture, décor and appliances at discounted prices.
You can also contact organizations like homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and pregnancy centers to see if they have specific needs.

Check and recheck your donations before dropping them off to be sure no unintended items are included.  

Friday, May 10, 2019

Protect Your Garden From The Heat

You’ve planted and pruned, weeded and worked, now the sun is beating down and your plants seem to be wilting under the rays.  What can you do?  Turns out - a lot!  Here are a few steps to take to protect your garden from the heat.

1. Protect your plants with mulch. Mulch will help keep the moisture in the soil and suppress the growth of weeds.
2. Pull the weeds that show up in your garden - they are stealing the moisture and nutrients your plants need.
3. Water in the morning before the heat of the day. This is better than in the evening when the moisture could cause fungus to take hold.
4. Keep your grass taller - it will cast longer shadows and its healthier for your lawn during the summer months.
5. Utilize irrigation hoses and soakers to slowly deliver water to the plant’s roots.

What do you do to protect your garden from the heat?  

Friday, May 3, 2019

How to Invest Your Tax Refund Back Into Your Home

Was Uncle Sam good to you this year and now you have a tax refund to spend? If you’re looking to invest in your new home there are several ways you can make the most of your additional cash.
Curb Appeal
-        Enhance the look of your home from the outdoors with some new shrubbery, porch furniture or an updated front door.
-        Build up a homeowner maintenance stash of light bulbs, air filters, and batteries. Build a tool kit from small projects around the house.
-        Improve the overall home environment with an air purification system.
Energy Savings
-        Spend money to save money by upgrading to Energy Star appliances, add blinds or window treatments, change out your thermostat for a programmable type.
Outdoor Living
-        Create an outdoor living space or add furniture to make your current outdoor space more appealing.
-        Need to free up some time? Consider a lawn service or cleaning help.  Enjoy your home and family more if you can afford to pay for these services.
How do you plan on using your tax refund?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Preparing Yourself for the Spring Home Buying Season

April and May tend to be the most popular months for new home buyers and sellers.  The good news? More inventory! The bad news – less time to decide and more competition!  So be prepared and you won’t miss out on your dream home!
Know what you can afford and speak with a lender. Any offer you make will be more appealing with a pre-approval from a mortgage lender.
Have your down payment ready. Most loans require a 20% down payment in order to not require additional mortgage fees.  Having your down payment already saved means being able to move quickly once your offer is accepted.
Research the neighborhoods you want to be in, the type of home you want and the builders you trust to build a quality home.
If you have a home to sell make sure you have it already listed or ready to list as soon as you find the home you want. Begin the decluttering process so you can have it open house ready as soon as possible.
Spring is an excellent time to buy so make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to buy your dream home!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Spring Cleaning Tips For When You’re Too Busy to Clean

Spring Cleaning – some love it and some hate it, but it’s a common ritual this time of the year.  If you choose to join in the spring cleaning fun here are some tips to help you speed up the process so you enjoy the rest of your spring!
1.     Focus on a big impact. Choose the areas that cause you the most headaches and tackle those first. Think about where you spend the most time and start there.
2.     Clean in allotted blocks of time. You don’t have to commit to a full day or weekend of cleaning. Give yourself 15 or 30 minute blocks during the day to get projects done.
3.     Bring a bin into each room for random clutter that doesn’t have a good place to go. It can be dealt with later once it’s all collected from over the house.
4.     Use an all purpose cleaner – perfect for bathrooms and the kitchen alike.
5.     Create a daily routine. Instead of waiting on a change in the seasons to deep clean, clean a little each day to keep the chores from building up.
What tips and hacks do you have for spring cleaning?  Do you love it or hate it?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

What Not To Do To Sell Your Home

You’ve found your dream home – your new home – and the only thing you need to do now is sell your current home.
Of all the things you should do – have you thought about what not to do?  Here are a few things you need to make sure NOT to do!
1.      Don’t have pets in the home when potential buyers are coming to look at your home.  Barking dogs, pet hair or scratching pets can turn buyers off from really seeing the home.
2.     Take down any potentially divisive memorabilia whether political or sports related. There is no gain in creating negative associations in the home over even seemingly minor décor choices.
3.     Even if you didn’t have time to clean as well as you wanted, don’t leave a room off limits or locked. Let potential buyers see the whole home.
4.     Too much clutter, too many family photos or knick knacks will take away from the overall look of your home. De-personalize your home so buyers can picture themselves living there.
5.     Another major turn off for buyers – sellers who won’t leave! When you have a showing giving the shoppers plenty of privacy and space to evaluate the home without your watchful eye following their every move!
What selling turn offs have you experienced when shopping for a new home?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New Homes and Taxes

If this is your first tax season in your new home you’ll be looking forward to some positive effects on your tax return.
Although there were many changes in the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation – deducting mortgage interest is still an option, although only on amounts up to $750,000 in qualified residence loans.  Interest on home equity loans can only be claimed if the loan was used toward home improvements.
This is an important deduction since many other options are off the table with the new changes including restrictions on home offices, theft and property damage and tougher rules on itemized giving deductions.
It is important to find a tax preparer who understand s the new changes to the tax code and can help you maximize the benefits you’ll receive as a homeowner.
What will you plan to do with your tax refund? Do you have any home improvements on the list?