Posted by Marie Presti on 10/25/2020

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

There are many parts and pieces that go into relocation. Finding the perfect home is, of course, an important step in the process. But once you have found a residence in your new city or town, it is crucial to consider other home-ownership factors that will affect your monthly and annual expenses. As part of your relocation preparation, research what other fees and bills you may need to pay outside of your mortgage. 

If you’re moving to a new state, review the escrow process and any new, or different, closing costs that may increase the amount you’ll owe. Understand what annual property taxes will be assessed and fees you will be responsible for. Homeowners Associations may also function differently in your new city or state. Closely review all paperwork and research what costs are normal for the area. Know what your requirements are as a homeowner, so you don’t agree to anything outside the norm or incur fees from not aligning to your contract.

Utility costs vary from city to city and state to state, but even within the same city, prices can be different from neighborhood to neighborhood. While you’re house hunting, include a visit to the electricity, water, gas and trash company websites that service the homes you’re considering. For electricity and water, learn what the costs are per unit, time of day and any special programs available for conservation. See what bins your new trash company offers and how much they charge per month. There might be different sizes available to you at different pricing, along with compost or yard waste bins and lower to even free rates for recycling. Your new city may also have monthly fees for general upkeep of parks, greenbelts and other public services.

When you consider the monthly mortgage payment you can afford, it’s smart to take these other costs into account. You might be able to make a mortgage payment, but a high electricity or water bill might put your monthly outgo outside your budget. It’s easy to forget about these little (or big) costs. Make your move easy and successful by planning for monthly and annual costs outside of your mortgage.




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Posted by Marie Presti on 7/12/2020

Image by Malachi Witt from Pixabay

You might think renovating a home is simple when budget isn't a factor, but when there are no limits, it's deceptively easy to become side railed. Getting off-track on a home renovation can be disastrous. You may end up with rooms that feel cavernous and impossible to fill or hallways that meander on, seemingly for miles. Worse, you might find yourself stuck in the middle of a renovation that never seems to end. You'll need focus and a plan to keep these situations from happening. 

Have a Definite Plan Before You Begin

It's important to have a plan and to stick closely to it throughout your renovation. This doesn't mean you won't opt for an alternate style of sink or choose different flooring. It means deciding what you're going to renovate and how long you want it to take. Have an overall design and a timeline for each element. And have an overall timeframe of when the work will be completed. Keep the momentum of the project going with incremental goals so you can measure progress. 

Act as Though You Have a Budget, Even if You Don't

It may sound unnecessary, but setting a budget is actually vital. Even if funds are unlimited, you should set a target for your contractors to operate within. The professionals who are working to help you with your remodel -- your designer, your contractor, and more -- need to have real, physical limits on spending. If you want to go all-in, that's fine. But you should still declare financial limits, even if it's only for your own peace of mind. 

Narrow Your Choices

When you can have everything your heart desires, it's easy to become overwhelmed with options. Sit down with anyone else who will be living in the house and talk through which features are needs and which are wants. It's great to incorporate both, but needs should always take precedence so that the final result serves you well. While you may have the budget for a home movie theater, do you have the space? And if not, where will you make the space? Will you sacrifice your finished basement, or will you add on a new level? Once you have an exact idea of what everyone wants and how you'll achieve it, it's time to approach a designer and a contractor. 

Exercising a little caution during an upscale home renovation will keep things moving along at an acceptable pace. It will also help keep you and your design team from becoming lost along the way. 




Tags: budgeting   planning   Renovation  
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Posted by Marie Presti on 1/13/2019

Home staging is one of the most tried-and-true methods of selling your home faster. It can also help you increase the purchase price of your home by between one and five percent.

However, working with a professional home stager--while a good investment--is not always in everyone’s budget.

The good news is, there are a lot of simple and inexpensive ways to stage your home that will give visitors a good first impression, make for great photos for your online listing, and hopefully help speed up your home sale.

In today’s post, we’re going to break down six of the most effective and inexpensive home staging tips to help you sell your home faster.

1. Declutter everything

Cleaning out your home is one of the best ways to make it appear more spacious and welcoming. It gives you the chance to start packing items you won’t need until you move into your new home, and it opens up space to use a few choice decorations around the home.

For things like cabinets and closets, remove all of the items you won’t need until you move. A closet that is half-full will look much larger for guests viewing your home.

2. Clean carpets and polish wooden furniture

Carpets, flooring, and furniture make up a large percent of the visible space in your home. Leaving these items dirty or worn when selling your home is missing out on a huge opportunity to make your home look up-to-date and well-maintained.

You can rent a carpet cleaner for as little as $20, and a gallon of wood polish costs around $15, making these two items a solid investment for staging your home.

3. Paint with bright colors

When we paint our homes we usually choose colors that we like, rather than ones that appeal to the largest number of people. And although that’s a great thing while you own a home, it can be detrimental when it comes time to sell. Repainting dark walls in bright, neutral tones will make the room feel larger and well-lit.

4. Paint the front door while you’re at it

A freshly painted, bright colored front door can be the secret weapon when it comes to making your home stand out amongst your neighbors. It is a cheap way to quickly freshen up the exterior of your home and increase curb appeal.

5. Purchase a new welcome mat and mailbox

Welcome mats tend to get a lot of use and wear down. Similarly, mailboxes often get dented and faded over the years.

These two items can be excellent accents to improve the curb appeal of your home. Choose colors that match the overall color scheme of your home to establish a sense of continuity.

6.  Rearrange furniture to allow foot traffic

When someone comes to view your home, you’ll want to sure they have ease of access to each part of the house. Rearrange the furniture in your kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms to make it easy to tour the home.





Posted by Marie Presti on 8/12/2018

Curb appeal, the illusive secret weapon that enamors potential buyers from afar and draws them into your home. There have been several attempts to nail down the “secret formula” for curb appeal.

In reality, the best approach to improving your home’s presentation from outside is to take the time to consider what fits.

In this post, we’ll give you some budget ideas to help you find the curb appeal boosters that will match with your home.

1. Fresh paint

One well-known curb appeal strategy is to repaint some of the notable components of the outside of your home. The places that have to most impact?

  • Front door - a front door that pops, but that also fits with the style of your home and complements its main color will make your home stand out from the neighbors.

  • Shutters - repainting your shutters is another inexpensive area to add some color to your home. However, be wary of choosing bright colors for your shutters if they’re going to clash with or disrupt the overall style of your home.

  • Mailbox - a neglected, dented, and a dirty mailbox is a huge turn off for potential buyers. Buying a new one, or adding a fresh coat of paint to your old one that matches one of the highlight colors of your home, can be a great way to add a sense of continuity to the exterior of your house.

2. Sparse decorations

Just like the inside of your home, less is often more when it comes to decoration. There are a number of things to add to your yard that will improve its overall presentation. But, just be sure that it doesn’t appear out of place or tacky. A single, small, and brightly colored bird house in a tree is usually a safe bet.

3. Simple landscaping

There’s no need to hire contractors for elaborate landscaping or to purchase expensive plants and shrubbery. A well-manicured yard is enough to make your home stand out. And, remember that potential buyers will most likely be looking for a home that is low-maintenance. A simple lawn and walkway say just that.

Also be sure to trim and prune your current trees, bushes, and flowerbeds. You might find that a cleanup is all they needed to be impressive once more.

4. Pressure washing

Most of us grow accustomed to how our home looks and might not notice the accumulation of dirt on the siding. By hiring or renting a pressure washer for a day, you’ll be able to update a number of aspects of curb appeal. From siding and decks to walkways and driveways, you can cover a lot of square footage with a pressure washer.

One note on pressure washers: the better ones can be dangerous. That means hiring a professional could help get the best results for your money. Also, while you can buy a pressure washer, you might find that for the amount you use it, it’s easier just to hire or rent every few years.




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Posted by Marie Presti on 5/13/2018

These days keeping track of your money can be a hassle. Between all the different ways you can spend your money it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Luckily there are some great apps for money management. Below are a few favorites— all rated with 3.5 stars and up. LearnVest: LearnVest is a money management platform, but it’s also much more. You can link up your various accounts to keep track of your spending, savings and goals (that you set). But the best part about this app are the articles you receive via email from them. The articles that they send are full of helpful information related to early retirement, saving for your wedding, how to pay down debt, rebuilding bad credit, smart saving, and so much more. Every article is worth the read. This app is available on iOS. Mint: Mint is a well-known money management platform. You can hook up your bank accounts, credit cards, 401k and loans and set up budgets. The app utilizes graphs to show you how you spend your money and provides you with bill reminders. It will even give you your net worth. The only downfall to the app is that it has a difficult time connecting to small banks’ online banking systems. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. Daily Budget: This is a do-it-yourself app. If you are one that is weary about putting your personal banking information onto your phone then this is the money management app for you. You plug in your income, reoccurring expenses and it gives you a daily budget. You can add in additional income and expenses as they occur. But, you will have to pay for the full version if you want to utilize all income and expense categories. This app is available on iOS. Comparable apps are available on Google Play. Prosper Daily: This app’s main emphasis is on protecting your accounts. You can link up your bank accounts and credit cards and approve or deny charges as they occur. But, it is also good for a high level review of your accounts. You are able to view your balances on your credit cards and checking account all in one place. Another pro of this app is that you are able to categorize your charges making it easy to keep track of what you are spending your money on. One of the great new features now available is the ability to view your credit score. And beyond that it provides insight into why your score is the way it is and how to improve it. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. These apps will aid you in getting in front of your spending and back in control of where your money is going. Be sure to take full advantage of the offerings that each app has, as it will only benefit you in the long run.







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