Stay Healthy This Summer

A few simple tips for improving your personal health

Summer is the time for family vacations and road trips, backyard barbecues, and days at the beach. But as the pace of life slows down after the hustle and bustle of winter and spring, it’s also a great time to make some small health-conscious changes that can make a big difference at the end of the day. Here are a few simple-but-effective tips for improving your personal health this summer.

Eat more berries
Eating a cup of mixed berries each day can have tremendous health benefits. Berries are rich with antioxidants, which help prevent tissue damage and lower the risk of age-related illnesses. It’s just a small change to your diet, but a little goes a long way!

Have some fun while exercising
This doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym. Make the most of the summer weather by doing activities that are both fun and keep you moving. Cycling, hiking, swimming, playing games with the kids—these are all great ways to get some exercise without making it feel like a chore that you have to squeeze into your schedule.

Wear your sunglasses
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but there’s a lot more to wearing sunglasses than just fashion. A good pair of sunglasses should block out at least 99 percent of harmful UV rays.

Play in the dirt
Planting and maintaining a garden can be a great stress reliever. Even something as simple as a few flower boxes or potted plants is a good start.

Before You Take The Plunge With A Fixer-upper, Think About Resale Value

We’ve all watched the HGTV programs that show a run-down old house transforming into a dream home. Tackling a big renovation project on an outdated property can indeed pay off big—both with the home of your dreams, and with a return on investment. If resale value is a primary concern, consider these factors as you’re making your fixer-upper plans.

Is the price right?
How much can you invest in a home beyond the sale price while staying in line with the value of homes in the neighborhood? You don’t want to improve a home to the point that it’s worth far more than the norm for the area. You’ll enjoy the property while you’re living there, but if you ever decide to sell, your ROI could be limited by the market value of nearby houses.

Low cost, instant equity
There are a lot of low cost and DIY improvements that will add equity almost immediately, such as rehabbing the landscaping and adding fresh coats of paint. These improvements add value to the property almost instantly.

What’s worth spending on?
A little elbow grease goes a long way, but there will inevitably be projects that require some serious spending. If you’re concerned with getting a return on your investment, focus your dollars toward the roof, floors, and the home’s exterior. They’re not flashy upgrades, but they’re important for future buyers. On the other hand, luxuries like a swimming pool are unlikely to see any return on investment.

5 Simple Ways To Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

Summertime is here and it’s bringing the heat! It’s always an option to blast the air conditioner all summer long, but there are ways to keep your home cool that are better for the environment and won’t double your energy bill.

1. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans may be an overlooked method to keep your home cool, but that’s because they are often used incorrectly. During the summer months a ceiling fan should be rotating counterclockwise to send cool air down otherwise you will be recirculating the heat in your home.

2. Blinds

If your home has windows that face the west or north, make sure to keep them covered with blinds to prevent the sun from heating up your home.

3. Mind the Gaps

Cover or repair all gaps and cracks near doors and windows to ensure your cool air stays in during the day. This paired with your home’s insulation will also prevent heat from seeping in on hot days.

4. Evening Chill

When the sun goes down and the temperature is cooler, open up your windows and doors to bring that cool air in. Just make sure to get them closed before the sun returns.

5. Box Fans

If your home has multiple windows on opposite sides of the room, you can create a cooling effect with two box fans on each side. One should be facing inward and the other outward. This will keep a constant airflow bringing in fresh air and removing the hot air.

Top Tips For First-time Homeowners

Owning your first home is one of the biggest milestones in an individual’s life. Once it’s finally all yours, you want to make sure you avoid common rookie mistakes like the ones below.

Starting major renovations right away. With all the excitement and energy from the closing table still lingering, it’s easy to get caught up in home improvements. Before starting a major renovation, give yourself 2 or 3 months of living in your home to really solidify that it’s the right financial investment and what you really want.

Ignoring routine maintenance. Ignoring routine upkeep and maintenance, such as prepping your pipes for winter, clearing gutters, and filling cracks near doors and walls, can cause big issues down the line. Make sure to budget both time and money for these tasks.

Hiring the cheapest option. If you have a job that requires a professional, don’t always opt for the cheapest option. Makes sure to get several estimates for the work and look online for reviews. Once you do your research, select the professional you think will do the best job.

Not knowing your property boundaries. During closing, you may receive a survey of your home and property, however it’s crucial you know exactly where your property lines are. Outline this before your start planting or building fences or structures.

Neglecting the exterior of your home. Once you move in, it’s easy to focus your energy and effort on the interior. But don’t forget to give your exterior some TLC with thoughtful landscaping and regular checks to ensure weeds are taken care of and water is draining correctly.

Avoid These Two Big Mortgage Mistakes

We all know that searching for and viewing potential homes is the fun part of the home-buying process. The not-so-fun part? The mortgage.

But if you don’t pay attention to the details, your mortgage can end up dragging down the enjoyment of your new home and cause some major regrets. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to ensure that you love your mortgage terms as much as your hew home.

Don’t find your home first: Shopping around for the best mortgage rate should be the first step in the home buying process. You may even want to talk to a mortgage broker a full year before you plan to buy. It’ll give you time to get your affairs in order to qualify for the best rate, could save you thousands of dollars in the long run, and you won’t feel rushed to accept an unattractive loan because you’re worried you’ll miss out on your dream home.

Don’t forget your real budget: There’s often a big difference between what a lender says you can afford and what you can actually afford. Your debt-to-income ratio doesn’t include the money you spend on hobbies, or the cost of commuting to work, or maintenance and utility costs.

Really sit down and examine your spending before committing to the loan amount the lender is offering. You won’t enjoy your home nearly as much if it’s eating into your favorite hobbies.

What Affects Property Values?

Some the features that increase property values are obvious—like a remodeled bathroom, a modern kitchen, or a sought-after neighborhood. But here are a few features and circumstances you have not have realized can affect property values.

The neighbors: Not every neighborhood or community has an HOA that can keep the neighbors from going overboard with decorations or neglecting to care for their home. Homes adjacent to crazy neighbors can potentially be undervalued.

Trendy groceries and coffee: Recent statistics suggest that if your home is a short walk from popular grocery stores like Whole Foods or coffee chains like Starbucks, it can actually appreciate faster than the national average.

Mature trees: A big beautiful tree in the front yard is enviable, and it’s not something that can be easily added to any home. Homes with mature trees tend to get a little boost in value.

Parking: This isn’t too much of an issue if you live in the suburbs or in a rural area, but residents in dense cities can have real problems with parking, and homeowners might need to rent a spot just to guarantee a place to park each night. That’s why having guaranteed parking in urban areas will raise property values.

The front entrance: First impressions matter to buyers—many will cross a home off their list within 10 seconds of stepping through the front door. An appealing front door, a friendly entryway, and a functioning doorbell are all necessities for getting top dollar.

Quick Tips To Sell Home Items Online

Whether you are looking to make more room in your home or planning to redecorate, selling some of your lightly used home items is a great way to make a few bucks. Below are some tips to sell your items quickly and safely online.

Choose the Right Site

There are numerous reputable websites to sell your home items and many that come with a mobile app for your Android or iOS device. Some popular sites include Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, Mercari, OfferUp, and Poshmark.

Represent Your Item in the Best Light

To catch the eye of potential buyers, clean the item thoroughly and do any paint touch-ups or repairs that are needed. Then take a series of well-lit, high-quality photos. Make sure you are capturing every angle of the item and inside any drawers or cupboards. If the item’s brand holds any weight, you may want to take a close up shot of that logo or name plate on the item. Pair your scroll-stopping photos with a detailed description that covers the dimensions, color, brand, damages, and any other pertinent information.

Practice Safe Delivery

Depending on the site you are using, it may have built-in shipping options available with that cost worked into the price. However, if you choose to ship the item yourself, you may want to add on a few dollars to the listed price to account for packaging and shipping. If you are doing an in-person handoff, we recommend meeting in a public place in the daylight instead of having the buyer come to your home or place of work.

How You Can Finance Your Home Renovation

Outdated kitchen. Overrun backyard. Unusable basement space. If you have a home renovation project on the mind, the first thing you have to consider is how you are going to finance it. Here are the most common options to make your dreams become a reality.

Cash. Paying in cash is the most straightforward financing option, just save until you have enough money to cover the expenses. This will help eliminate spending outside your budget; however, it can also extend your timeline.

Mortgage Refinance. If you’ve been making payments on your home for a few years and your interest rate is higher than current market rates, you may be eligible for a mortgage refinance, reducing your payments and freeing up some money.

Cash-Out Refinance. You can tap into your home equity and borrow up to 80 percent of your home’s value to pay off your current mortgage plus take out more cash to cover the renovations. This option is encouraged only when you’re making improvements that will increase the value of your home, as it can add a lot of interest and fees.

Home Equity. Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.

Retirement Funds. Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments, but may be worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.

Tips For Making Your Home More Peaceful

Many things in our world are out of our control, but one thing you can control is your home environment. There are many simple changes you can make to instill some much needed peace into your living space. In order to create a peaceful environment in the home, make sure everything you see, smell, hear, and touch gives you a calm feeling inside.

It can be stressful and overwhelming to see all your knick-knacks and papers sprawled across your desk or table. Make it a habit to declutter and organize each room at least once a week to keep a zen-like state of mind.

Another way to increase the peace in your home is making sure it smells wonderful. Candles and air fresheners work well, but if you want to give your home a truly soothing scent, consider an essential oil diffuser. There is a huge variety of essential oils, but hints of lemon, peppermint, or sandalwood can really help introduce a sense of calm in your home.

On to the ears! To add soothing sounds into your home atmosphere, find a good speaker system to play smooth jazz or natural sounds as you work or relax at home. Or, if you prefer silence, consider soundproofing a room to cancel out outside noise.

Finally, consider adding a plush blanket to your couch or bed to settle down with in the evenings or add a soft rug to hug your toes as you walk around!

Backyard DIY Projects

Summer is just around the corner so it’s the perfect time to start planning some fun projects for your backyard. Whether you are looking for new ways to entertain and host friends or you want to surprise your spouse or family with an improved aesthetic, here are some DIY projects that can help make your backyard even more spectacular.

Fire Pit – If you buy the stones and materials yourself, you can make a fire pit in less than a day and for under $100. Get ready for some s’mores and scary stories around the campfire right from your backyard.

Tree Swing – Making a tire swing is another cheap project that can be completed in less than a day. You will need a chain, rope, drill, wood for the seat, and a healthy tree to hang it from. Buy a pre-made tree swing seat to make this process even easier.

Garden Bed – This is a great project for DIY lovers with a green thumb. Get ready to eat your own home-grown herbs and vegetables when you create a garden bed in your yard. Make sure to use cedar for the boundary because it is rot-resistant.

Outdoor Lighting – Brighten up your backyard with some easy lighting ideas, such as hanging lanterns, lining wired lights on your trees, or adding some fixtures along your walkway. Make your backyard a soothing retreat with some ambient lighting.

Bird Feeder – Show some love to your neighborhood birds by creating a bird feeder for your backyard. Make sure to place your feeder away from any windows and in a high area so no other animals can reach it. Get ready for some lovely bird songs.