7 Dangers That May Be Lurking in Your Yard

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Everyone loves a well-manicured lawn and lush landscaping. It commands pride in ownership, boost the esthetics of a home, and even adds a certain amount of value to a property. But did you know that lurking within your prized yard may be plants that could be potentially hazardous to you, your family, and your pets?

Here are some hazards that could be present in your hard to be wary of.

1. Wild Mushrooms

Before you go out and search your yard for something to add to your dinner’s side dish, think twice. The wild mushrooms that may be growing on your lawn might not necessarily be poisonous, but it can be tough to tell if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

‘Amanita ocreata’ and amanita phalloides’ grows in many California grass patches, and can be deadly if ingested. At the very least, they can cause horrible side effects, including stomachaches, vomiting, and respiratory conditions. Stick to the mushrooms you can get at the grocery store for your escargot.

2. Sago Palms

Pretty but painful to the touch, sago palms can be poisonous to both humans and pets of they are ingested. While you might not necessarily reach for the sago palm as a snack, animals such as cats, dogs, and horses just might sniff it out because they find these plants appetizing. A toxin known as ‘cycasin’ is found in all parts of the plant, especially in the seeds. If ingested, symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea, to death.

3. Atropa Belladonna

Don’t let this esthetically pleasing, bell-shaped, dark purple flower fool you. Even the name “belladonna” has a lovely ring to it, and literally translates to “beautiful woman” from Italian. Unfortunately, the atropa belladonna – also dubbed the ‘deadly nightshade’ – can be fatal when consumed. At the very least, it can cause hallucinations. Just touching it can leave blisters on whatever part of your body makes contact with it.

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4. Angel’s Trumpet

Another devil in disguise is the ‘datura stramonium’, which is also dubbed ’angel’s trumpet’. Even the smallest amount ingested can lead to hallucination. Larger quantities can be even more serious, and can cause hyperthermia, erratic heart rhythms, and even death. This weed is all over California, so it’s best to be wary of it and make sure pets don’t accidentally get into it.

5. Poison Oak

Keep an eye out for these three-leaf plants in the vicinity of your property. They can be pretty tough to distinguish, considering their three-leaf clusters resemble other types of harmless ivy that grows as shrubs or climbing vines.

If you rub up against it, you’ll likely experience major itching and severe dermatitis thanks to its poisonous oil, which contains a compound called urushiol. If you believe poison oak is lingering in your yard, put on some protective clothing and gloves and get rid of it before the kids and pets get into it.

6. Stinging Nettle

The name itself should tell you what can happen if you make contact with this plant. Freshly harvested stinging nettle can actually sting you if you handle it without protective gloves. The minuscule hairs that cover the leaves can introduce toxins into your skin if you touch it, leaving behind itchy bumps on your skin. 

7. Castor Bean

The vibrant red color of the castor bean may be very attractive, but its seeds can be extremely dangerous if ingested. The seeds of this plant are rich in the toxin ‘ricin’, which has actually been used in chemical and biological warfare! This fact alone should prompt you to avoid including castor bean in your landscaping.

The Bottom Line

You just never know what may be lurking in your yard. Before you go out and choose plants for your landscaping, make sure you do your homework on each species. If your yard is already abundant in different plants, shrubs, vines and weeds, make sure you get up-to-date with what exactly is lingering on your property so that you, your children and your pets are safe.

Be Prepared For These Things When Gutting Your Home

The prospect of having a brand new interior is exciting. The things about your home that have been irking you can finally be changed and updated. With a little planning and budgeting, your dream home isn’t too far off.

But before you reach that end point and embrace your new interior, there’s a lot that goes into the project, much of which might not be so pleasant. Make sure you prepare yourself for any one of the following things so you’re not caught by surprise.

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Lots of Dust

For a little while, it’ll seem as if you’re doing nothing but vacuuming and dusting your home. Dust is a given when it comes to a construction site, so be prepared for a lot of it. Having said that, there are certain ways that you can control it before it completely wreaks havoc on your home.

If possible, close off the construction area from the rest of your home with a compression-fit barrier. You can also run air filtering systems to draw the dust from the air in the part of the house that’s not under construction. In addition, try to block the warm-air and cold-air returns within the construction area to prevent dust from being pulled from that area of the house into the section where you’re living.

Plenty of Noise

Along with all the dust comes the noise. The sanders, electric saws, drills, and hammers will make you think you’ll never get any peace and quiet in your home ever again. But don’t fret: all of that incessant racket will come to a stop at some point.

In the meantime, prepare yourself and accept the noise. If you’re lucky, you may be able to retreat to a friend’s or relative’s house when you just need a little tranquility and escape from all the construction. 

Delays

So many things can enter the picture that will put a halt on operations. Inclement weather, illness, backorders on materials, delays in obtaining permits, and many other issues can arise which can push the completion date out even further. Life isn’t perfect, and neither are renovations. Keeping an open mind about potential problems that can delay the project will allow you to be more flexible if the schedule of events is ever affected.

Many Decisions

The decisions don’t end once you’ve decided to revamp your home. Plenty of other choices need to be made both before and during the project. What type of flooring do you want? What light fixtures will you choose? What type of counters will go well with your cabinets? And how about all the handles and knobs?

All of these decisions can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Understand that the choices you make can directly affect not only the end result, but also the costs and the speed at which the project will be completed. You can count on your contractor asking you an endless array of questions before the project is complete.

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Unexpected Surprises

Unless it’s a party, a present or a last-minute visit from a loved one, no one likes surprises, especially when it comes to a home renovation project. Once you start ripping down drywall and opening up the flooring, all sorts of little unpleasant things can pop up.

Faulty wiring, a load bearing wall, improper framing, damage from termites, and even asbestos can come up throughout a gut job. Make sure you’ve braced yourself, and have allowed some sort of contingency in your budget to deal with these potential issues so you’re not left cutting corners in other areas to make up for the added costs.

Change Orders

The estimate that you were given from your contractor before the work started could very well be different by the time all is said and done. If any changes to the work will need to be made, a “change order” will be warranted, which is essentially is an added document that lists any changes in work and costs.

Usually, these change orders are necessary to accommodate for surprise issues that come up, or because of something that you decided to change after the work had already begun. Either way, charge orders are common, so prepare yourself for one just in case. 

The Bottom Line

In a perfect world, a home renovation job would end exactly the way you had anticipated from the start. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. It’s impossible to predict the precise outcome of a renovation project; issues can certainly arise that can veer the job off its original path. However, if you come into the job prepared for a variety of possibilities and allow for some leeway in your budget, you can come out of the project unscathed.

How to Maintain Your Home’s Exterior Stucco

There are plenty of reasons why stucco is so popular among homeowners: it’s durable, it’s easy to maintain, and it looks good. If it’s applied properly, stucco can last as much as 50 years, as long as it’s well taken care of.

The latter part is what is key: proper maintenance. Even though stucco is relatively easy and affordable to upkeep, it still needs to be tended to on a regular basis. If not, it’ll end of looking worn in no time, which can cost you money to repair, and even lower the value of your home.

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Here are some tips to maintaining your home’s stucco.

Keep it Clean

Just like any exterior, stucco can get dirty pretty easily. It can collect dirt as a result of the outdoor elements, which can inevitably make your home look filthy. Stucco is also a porous material, which means that it can absorb stains. For that reason, frequent cleaning is necessary. A simple spray of your garden hose or power washer (at a low setting) should usually do the trick.

The best application to clean your stucco is to mist it with water first to allow the caked-on dirt to soak and loosen up. Afterward, spray it with more pressure from top to bottom to allow the dirt to make its way to the ground.

Seal it Regularly

When stucco is first applied to your home, it should be sealed. Since it’s a porous material, stucco needs to be protected from any moisture intrusion. Typically, a clear concrete masonry sealer is applied, which penetrates through the stucco and prevents any moisture from getting in. One application at the onset is a start, but that’s not the end of it. While these sealers are highly effective, they need to be reapplied every five years or so.

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Consider Applying an Elastomeric Coating

If your home’s stucco is older, consider applying an elastomeric coating, especially if you’ve already noticed some cracking. These types of waterproof finishes keep moisture out, and seal up hairline cracks. Thanks to their flexible properties, elastomeric coatings will stretch if a crack develops and widens below the seal. That way, the seal is still able to keep water out of the cracks. These sealants typically last at least 10 years.

Make Repairs Right Away

Stucco is extremely durable and rigid, but it is still susceptible to cracks, chips, and even holes as it ages. Not only are these defects unattractive, they can also compromise the strength of the stucco material itself. Not only that, crevices like these offer the perfect opportunity for mold to grow and pests to make their way into your home. If you notice a crack in the stucco, don’t allow it time to widen. Instead, get on top of it right away and repair it before it gets worse.

If the crack or chip is minor in nature, you can probably repair it on your own. Just make sure that any moisture issues have been addressed and dealt with first. Following that, a stucco patch can be applied to repair the area. If the issues are much more elaborate, a contractor may have to be called in. Either way, dealing with a crack or chip before it’s given the chance to worsen is important to prevent major damage down the road.

The Bottom Line

For the most part, stucco is a fantastic exterior material that generally doesn’t need a great deal of maintenance. By cleaning it once in a while and getting on top of any small cracks or chips right away, you can enjoy an attractive exterior to your home for decades to come.

Home Remodeling Projects: How Much Do They Really Cost?

When it comes to homes, styles change and features come more innovative. So it’s pretty unlikely that whatever state your home is in now will be up to snuff in a decade or so. At that point (or probably sooner), you’ll be looking to update the finishes or improve the functionality of your space. The thing is, these kinds of tasks costs money, and budget always rears its ugly head when the need for a big revamp in a home is called for.

The question is, how much are these projects going to run you, anyway?

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Ripping Down a Wall

These days, an open concept is highly coveted among homeowners, especially the younger ones. People like the idea of being able to communicate with family or guests, regardless of what room each person happens to be in. Being able to prepare dinner while watching the game in the living room at the same time is a big plus. Removing a wall also allows more light to fill the whole floor and creates better traffic flow. 

Price Tag: Removing a non-load bearing wall can cost about $3,000. Load-bearing wall removal is more expensive, and runs about $10,000 for a single-story wall, and up to $30,000 if the load-bearing wall extends two stories.

Adding a New Bathroom

These days, it would be nice if every household member had his or her own bathroom. That way mornings would go a lot smoother without anyone having to fight for space in this underestimated little room. Older homes in particular weren’t exactly known for their plethora of bathrooms, so adding one or two has been a popular endeavor among these homeowners.

Price Tag: The cost of adding a new bathroom can vary greatly, since it depends on how large it will be, what ‘rough-ins’ are already present or need to be installed, and the features and finishes you want to add. Basically, a new bathroom installation could run you anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000+ just for the bathroom alone. Any concrete that needs to be broken to run plumbing lines will jack up the final cost.

For example, if sewer lines are less than 6 feet below grade, an ‘evacuator’ would have to be installed to remove the waste, which can really hike up the installation cost. If rough-ins are already there, the simple job of putting up framing, drywall, doors, hardware and floor coverings isn’t terribly expensive. Keep in mind that a new bathroom adds value to a home, so whatever you end up spending could come back to you come sale time.

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Remodeling a Kitchen

The kitchen its the core of a home. It’s where things happen. Not only are your meals prepared here, but there is a coming-together that takes place in this central space. With so much time being spent in the kitchen, it’s no wonder that homeowners tend to focus on keeping it updated and visually appealing. And let’s not forget about how much of a role the kitchen plays in the overall value of the property.

Price Tag: The national average cost to for a minor kitchen remodeling job is around $18,500, while a major revamping cost an average of $54,000. Of course, this number could easily go way beyond, depending on the extent of your wish list.

This is one of those home remodeling jobs that you need to be careful with as far as ROI is concerned. Done right, you could really add some serious value to your home. But spend way too much and add a bunch of finishes that the neighborhood doesn’t call for could have you losing out at the end of the day.

Replacing Carpeting With Hardwood Flooring

Wall-to-wall carpeting isn’t exactly what homebuyers like to see when they first walk into a home. What sophisticated buyers want these days is hardwood. That’s not to say that you’ll be planting a For Sale sign on your lawn anytime soon, but it’s still worth noting what kind of features demand more attention and higher prices. Having said that, it’s still a lot easier to maintain hardwood than carpeting. And you’ve got to admit – hardwood just looks better.

Price Tag: Hardwood flooring is definitely much more expensive than carpeting. For those on a tighter budget, hardwood can be reserved for certain rooms that get a lot of traffic, such as the foyer, hallways, and living area. Installing hardwood flooring can cost anywhere between $9 and $12 per square foot, depending on the size of the planks and the type of wood you’re using.

Replace Windows With Energy-Efficient Models

Whether or not you want energy-efficient windows, if your current ones are over 15 to 20 years old, it’s probably time to replace them anyway. Old windows that allow air to escape not only compromise the comfort level of your indoor air, they’ll also send your utility bills through the roof. Installing energy-efficient windows might cost a good chunk of change up front, but it’ll come back to you in spades from the savings on your bills, not to mention the increase in overall value of your home.

Price Tag: All-new, mid-range vinyl windows for an average home cost between $11,000 and $15,000. But you can easily recoup about 80% of the project cost in added value to your home. And don’t forget about any local or state rebates or tax incentives that you might be able to take advantage of as well.

No one said maintaining a home is cheap. But done right, these home remodeling jobs can boost your home’s value, and add a little extra equity to help pad your pockets. Talk to a real estate agent about what types of remodeling projects really pay off, and how to stick to what your specific neighborhood calls for.

6 Reasons Your Home Isn’t Selling

Has your home been on the market for a while and hasn’t attracted a serious buyer? There could be any number of reasons for that. In the meantime, you’re wasting time and money carrying the home while the listing continues to become increasingly stale by the day.

There’s not a whole lot you can do if the location is subpar or the architectural layout isn’t very functional. However, there are plenty of other issues you can overcome to help get your home off the market once and for all.

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Here are 6 possible reasons why your home hasn’t sold yet.

1. You Overpriced the Home

Establishing a competitive price is the first step in coming up with an effective marketing strategy. Your home is essentially only worth what buyers are willing to pay for it. A good way to find out what that magic number may be is to have a look at previous homes that recently sold in your area which are very similar to yours. If a near-identical home down the street just sold for $300,000, you don’t have much to go on if you choose to list at $375,000.

Homeowners may feel overconfident in listing their homes a bit high, especially in a seller’s market, but this can be a big mistake. An overpriced home will only scare off potential buyers and send them to your competition. After all, if they can get a home similar to yours for $50,000 less, for instance, they’ll likely take that route.

Be sure to make certain of the true value of your home before coming up with a listing price. Get it right the first time so you don’t have to drop the price down the line in order to find an interested buyer.

2. The Online Images Are Poor Quality

Online advertising is key in the world of real estate. About 90% of prospective buyers are taking to the internet when they start their search for a new home these days, and they expect to see high-resolution images of properties they come across.

Within a few short seconds of seeing a listing and its associated photos, buyers will make a quick decision about whether or not the property is worth a further look. If the images you’ve got online are poor quality, you’re probably losing out on a lot of potential action.

Not only that, your listing should include a variety of different pictures of the property, both inside and out. Buyers have a knack of assuming something’s off with a home if there are many parts of the home missing in the listing’s online photo gallery.

Hire a professional photographer to take photos of your home, and include plenty of detailed images on your listing.

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3. Your Home Doesn’t Show Well

Is your home cluttered and dirty? Are the furniture and decor outdated or run down? Are there still plenty of family photos and other personal knick-knacks that clearly show that you still live there?

Staging is an important step in the marketing and selling process. If your home doesn’t show well, you’ll have a harder time attracting buyers. If you want a certain price for your home, you’re going to have to make sure it’s properly staged to warrant that expectation. Buyers want to get as much as they can for the money they spend. After all, buying a home is a huge expenditure, so they want to make sure their purchasing decision is the right one.

Buyers generally tend to fall in love with a home before they decide to plop down a good chunk of change for it. De-clutter and clean your house from top to bottom. Get rid of furniture and accessories that don’t work in the space. Take out all of your family photos and your kids’ drawings from the fridge. Arrange pieces to maximize function and flow. If you have a hard time figuring this out, a professional home stager can tackle it for you.

The money spent on a home stager will come back to you – and more – come sale time.

4. There’s a Foul Odor in the Home

Your home can be immaculate, but if there’s a strange, off-putting smell wafting throughout the house, you’ll no doubt turn buyers off. Many homeowners may become so used to the smell that they can no longer detect it, and effectively become “nose blind.” Your agent will be able to let you know if there are any odors in the home that need to be dealt with. Whether the smell is from your pets, cigarette smoke, mold buildup, or even last night’s dinner, it needs to be addressed and rectified right away.

5. You Slacked on Repairs

Staging your home is important, but you shouldn’t do it just to mask certain issues with the home. If there are a few repairs that need to be done, make sure to tackle them before the first buyer walks into your home. Not only do these little issues take away from the esthetics of your home, they’ll also likely become an issue at the negotiating table.

If a prospective buyer puts in an offer but they come across problems during the home inspection, you stand a chance of losing the sale. Do yourself a favor and get these repairs completed before you even list the home so you can avoid any headaches afterward.

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6. You’re Not Flexible

Are you limiting the days and times that prospective buyers can visit your home for scheduled showings? If your listing limits showings to only weekdays from 10am to 4pm, you’re cutting out a lot of people who can’t necessarily adhere to these tight time frames. Don’t ask for an exorbitant amount of advance notice to show your home, either. Asking for 48 hours is going overboard, for instance.

By maximizing the amount of visits your home gets – and therefore the number of eyes on the property – you’ll increase the chances of getting an offer soon. Be flexible with the days and times that the home can be shown, as well as the amount of notice you request. Try to make your home as accessible and available as you can for potential buyers and their agents to come by for a showing.

There are plenty of mistakes that sellers make with their listings that could become a huge obstacle to selling. Make sure you’ve addressed any possible issue with your home and its listing to make sure it’s primed for the picking.

Rent or Buy? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

When it’s time to move, you may be faced with the decision to either buy or rent. This conundrum isn’t just reserved for young adults moving out of their parents’ homes, but also to empty nesters or professionals who are relocating for a new job opportunity.

Before you take the plunge, be sure to ask yourself these important questions first.

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Am I prepared to maintain the home?

As a renter, you’ll likely not have to do much in the way of home maintenance and repairs, unless it’s specified in your lease. With homeownership, on the other hand, everything is your responsibility: cutting the grass, watering the flowers, clearing the gutters, washing the windows, and making any repairs will ultimately fall on your lap, unless you pay someone to do it for you. Make sure you’re prepared to dedicate some of your free time to tasks like these if you choose to go the homeownership route.

How long am I planning to live in the home?

While it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen in the near future, you may have specific intentions with where you want to be within the next few years. If you’re planning on changing jobs or moving to a different city some time soon, you might want to rent instead of buy until things settle down.

On the other hand, if you’re quite happy where you are and have no intentions moving anytime soon, planting some roots through homeownership may be right for you. Selling can be expensive, so you don’t want to have to fork over more money than necessary if you don’t plan on staying put for at least a couple of years.

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How much can I put towards a down payment?

While you may be asked to put forth both first and last month’s rent as a tenant, you’ll need to come up with a much larger sum of money as a buyer. Conventional mortgages generally require at least 5% down against the purchase price of the home. Some government-backed mortgage programs will let you put a down payment of 3.5% or sometimes even less if you qualify. If you don’t have enough money to cover the down payment, you’ll either need to rent, or save up until you’ve got enough.

What is my credit like?

Lenders prefer to deal with borrowers who have a decent credit score, which is usually anything above 680. If your credit score falls short, you may not be approved for a mortgage. Even if you do get approved, you stand a bigger chance of getting slapped with a higher interest rate, which will make your home loan more expensive. In that case, you may want to start out renting and work to getting your credit score improved before you consider buying in the future.

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How much can I afford to spend on the home?

There are plenty of costs associated with owning a home: utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance and repairs all cost money on an ongoing basis. That’s money above and beyond your mortgage payments. You’ll need to come up with a budget to see how much you can comfortably afford after factoring in your net income.

Am I emotionally prepared to buy?

Some people have a problem with commitment. If that’s you, renting may be the better option; for now, anyway. Usually, tenants are only obligated to commit to a one-year lease, after which the tenancy can be renegotiated. When you buy a home, you’ll have to select an area and a house that you’ll want to live for at least the next few years so you can recoup the cost of buying and eventually selling.

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How stable is my job?

You don’t really want to lock into a mortgage if your job isn’t stable. Your lender may ultimately make that decision for you, but it’s something you should think about before you even consider applying for a mortgage. If your job is on shaky grounds, or you’re only on a short-term contract, renting may be the better option.

How do prices of homes versus debts compare in the area?

In many centers, the cost of rent can actually be pretty close to the cost of homeownership after everything has been factored in. Mortgage interest rates have been so low for the last few years, so buying may actually be the cheaper option in many cases. In order to accurately compare the cost of renting versus buying, remember to include utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance, repairs, and HOA fees if applicable, along with the mortgage principal and interest payments. 

It’s also wise to consider long-term benefits of building equity and wealth through homeownership that results from an increase in values and equity as you pay off your mortgage.

Your real estate agent and mortgage specialist will be able to help you effectively compare the two, and ultimately help you make the right decision.

How you answer these questions will help guide you towards making the right choice and determining whether or not you’re ready to buy, or if you’re better off renting, at least for a little while.

No Credit? How to Build it From the Ground Up

Having poor credit isn’t a good thing, but neither is having no credit at all. Getting approved for a mortgage – or any other type of loan, for that matter – is pretty much an impossible feat if the lender has nothing to go on. How will your lender know if you’ll be good for the money if you don’t have a history of responsible repayment? While you may be avoiding debt like the plague, you’re also failing to build up any sort of credit whatsoever.

If you currently have no credit, here are a few ways to build it up from scratch.

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Apply For a Secured Credit Card

You may have been paying for everything in cash up to now, but it’s time to get some credit on the books, and you can easily start by applying for a secured credit card. These types of credit cards are backed by a cash deposit that you make upfront, which essentially acts as your credit limit. That means you must have money in your account equivalent to your credit line. If you want to spend $500 on your card, for example, you need $500 in your account to cover that amount.

Like a typical credit card, monthly payments are made, and interest is incurred if you don’t pay your balance off in full and on time. Every purchase you make with the card is deducted from your remaining balance. That initial $500 stays as is, and is used as collateral if you don’t make your payments.

Using a secured credit card will help you build up enough credit to be eligible for a traditional credit card.

Take Out a Loan With a Credible Co-Signer

You likely won’t be approved for a loan on your own without any credit, but you have a good chance of approval if you can get a co-signer on your loan application. The key is to make sure that the co-signer already has excellent credit. Basically, the co-signer agrees to cover the loan amount in the event that you don’t make your payments. That’s the guarantee that a lender would get with a co-signer.

By taking out a small loan in this manner, you’ll have an opportunity to prove your ability to make regular payments in full and on time. Just make sure you’ve got the income and the discipline necessary to comfortably make your loan payments, or you’ll be putting your co-signer in a very precarious position.

Add Yourself as an Authorized User on Another Person’s Credit Card

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Ask a close friend or family member if they would be willing to allow you to be added as an authorized user on his or her credit card. This will allow you to use that person’s credit card without being legally responsible to pay for the charges, and you’ll be building credit at the same time. The other person really needs to have full trust in you, so make sure you’re up for the task before you ask and agree to put your name down as an authorized user.

Before you take this route, however, you should first make sure that the credit card company sends authorized user activity information to the credit bureaus. If it doesn’t, there’s no point continuing with this option.

Apply For a Credit Builder Loan

This type of loan is specifically designed to help people build credit, as all payment activity is reported to the credit bureaus. They are small loans made by some credit unions and community banks which basically act as a type of forced savings.

The money borrowed is deposited in a savings account by the lender, and can’t be accessed until you fully repay the loan. Once the loan term expires, you get the money, as well as a good credit score.

The Bottom Line

The key here is to make sure the credit you build is a good one. Be sure to make all payments on time and in full, and keep your credit card debt low. Don’t open too many accounts within a short period of time, and get a copy of your credit report once a year to see if there are any mistakes or discrepancies on there that could be bringing you credit score down. There’s no point in trying to build credit if you’re just going to be irresponsible with your efforts. A bad credit score is just as bad as no credit at all.

Buying a Model Home: Good or Bad Idea?

Home builders know how to wow potential buyers. When developing brand new subdivision, the home they put on show is loaded from top to bottom with all the bells and whistles. The coveted model home not only helps entice buyers into purchasing a home, but also to dish out more money for upgrades.  

Once the model home has done its job bringing in the buyers and filling up the subdivision, the builder will offer it up for sale. While many buyers aren’t keen on paying for a “new” home that’s already experienced a ton of traffic, others are eager to buy a home that’s been packed with all the upgrades the builder has to offer.

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The question is, should you invest in a model home? Or are you spending more money than necessary for a home that quite possibly may not be of the soundest construction?

To answer this query, it’s helpful to weigh the pros and cons of a model home purchase.

Pros

An Amazing Layout

Builders are using their model homes to peak the interests of buyers, so they’ll pull out all the stops to boost sales. In addition to all the upgrades, they’ll also design the home with a fabulous layout. These days, contemporary buyers want to see homes with an open-concept floor plan, a large kitchen with a sizeable island, a huge master bedroom with its own ensuite bathroom, and functional flow throughout the entire space.

Builders work with architects and designers that will create a home with these exact features that buyers would want for themselves. As such, you’ll have the benefit of buying a home that’s already got an optimized layout. 

Move-in Ready Convenience

After you put down a deposit on a lot and select your layout and elevation, the waiting game begins. It’s not uncommon for the closing date to be pushed out once or twice from the original date. You could be waiting months or even years before the home is finally built and ready to move into. Instead, a model home is ready when you are.

Upgrades Galore

Builders will nickel and dime buyers for every little upgrade added to a new home. When they finally sell the model home, all those upgrades will be yours to enjoy. Of course, you’ll be paying more compared to a bare-boned house, but you likely won’t be paying full price for every individual item. Every upgrade that the builder offers will likely be included in the model home; just make sure you negotiate a fair price.

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Cons

Location

Model homes are typically constructed right at the entrance of a subdivision, for obvious reasons. The idea is to get as much exposure as possible. If you don’t like the idea of being right on the corner of a potentially busy street, then a model home purchase might not be the right one for you.

There won’t be any option to buy a lot on a quiet culdesac or backing onto a ravine, if you’ve got specific desires. Instead, you’ll have to settle for exactly where the home is, which is usually where the most in-and-out traffic will be. 

Shorthanded Construction

In order to get subdivision sales moving, builders are under the gun to erect their model homes. As such, model homes are often constructed a little too quickly for optimal construction. Oftentimes shortcuts are made, which can go unnoticed.

Things like crooked crown molding or gaps in tile caulking are typical, but the problems can be even worse, and can go so far as plumbing and electrical issues. Model homes are typically built with cosmetics in mind instead of quality. Luckily you can thwart these issues by having a home inspector look over the home before sealing the deal and getting stuck with a home full of problems.

Price

Builders may try to hike the price of a model home considering the fact that it’s packed with upgrades. However, that model home has likely been up for months, or even years, which means it’s been visited by hundreds of people. That means the floors have been trampled over, the heating and cooling systems have been used constantly, and the plumbing and electrical systems have experienced wear and tear. In actuality, the home is no longer new, and the price should be negotiated with that in mind.

Shortened Home Warranty

New homes come backed with a 10-year warranty from the builder. If the model home was built 12 months ago, you just lost out on one year off your warranty. Not only that, but any warranties on the home’s appliances will likely be close to expiry – if not already expired – by the time you get the keys. Before buying a model home, it’s important to ask the builder to throw in a one-year warranty on mechanicals and appliances to the deal.

The Bottom Line

A model home purchase can be the right move if the cards line up for you, but you need to be aware of all its pros and cons. Make sure you ask yourself some important questions. Does the layout work for you and your current furniture? Does the price reflect the fact that the home is slightly used? Are you OK with the home’s location and lot size? Before you let all the upgrades seduce you, make sure you’ve taken the time to answer these questions and decide if buying a model home trumps going the traditional new-home route.