Turn Your Property Into a Dreamy Airbnb Destination

Just as Uber has revolutionized the transportation market, sites like HomeAway and Airbnb have dramatically changed the way travelers search for accommodations. Vacationers are no longer forced to rely on hotels when they need a place to stay while on the road. Homeowners across the country simply rent out their own homes to travelers. Airbnb even allows homeowners to rent only part of a residence to a fellow Airbnb member.

If you’re considering renting out your home using one of these services, there are several things you’ll need to do before you get started. These steps will help you get ready to welcome a stranger into your home without offending your neighbors.

Determine Viability

If you’re considering listing your property on Airbnb, the first step is to make sure there’s regular interest in accommodations in your area. If your city sees heavy tourist activity, you’ll likely have a winner. If you depend solely on the occasional business traveler or a few annual events, only you can determine whether it’s worth it. Search for similar properties in your area and make sure the market isn’t oversaturated.

Check Local Restrictions

Unfortunately, for many homeowners, vacation rentals are not an option. Many cities limit transient rentals to hotels and inns that hold government-issued licenses. If it’s allowed in your city, your homeowners’ association may prohibit it. Even once you’ve determined that legally you’re okay, make sure your option to rent all or part of your space won’t upset your neighbors. Consider where guests will park and make sure you have sufficient space for at least one extra vehicle.

Create Your Private Space

If you plan to remain in the home with the guest, you’ll ideally have a separate area that will give both yourself and your guests privacy during their stay. In the best case scenario, your guests will have a separate bathroom and bedroom at the very least. If you can’t provide this privacy for yourself, make sure you’re prepared to share a bathroom and other living spaces with strangers on a regular basis. Whether you’ll remain in the home or not, you’ll still likely want to add locks to closets, rooms, and cabinets that you’d like to keep private from guests.

Stock Supplies

Airbnb suggests that hosts provide clean linens, towels, and basic amenities to guests, so before you put up a room for rent, fully stock a closet with the items a guest will need. Travel sizes of items like shampoo, toothpaste, and shower gel will add a nice touch. Also consider how you’ll handle cleaning up and changing linens after your guest leaves. This will add additional work to your already busy schedule unless you choose to outsource it to a professional cleaning service for a fee.

Airbnb is a great way for homeowners to make a little extra money by renting rooms that aren’t being used. It’s important that homeowner determine a property is a good fit for Airbnb, while also reading over the site’s Responsible Hosting Recommendations, before making a final decision about being a host.

The 5 Best US Cities to Raise a Family

Whether you’ve already got kids or are considering having a family some time in the near future, you may have a move in the mind. After all, you ideally want your children to be raised in a safe, healthy, economically stable environment. When it comes to great schools, low crime rates, and plenty of opportunity for employment and extracurriculars, the following make the list for the 5 best cities in the US to raise a family.

Greenwich, CT


Not only is it one of the most affluent cities in the country, Greenwich is also one of the safest. In fact, the city is listed in the top five safest cities in the US, which moms and dads everywhere would appreciate. Greenwich is also home to an impressive school system, as well as limitless places for children of all ages to enjoy their spare time, both with their peers and with their families. Located in the heart of Fairfield County, Greenwich is home to an energetic culture that is made up of plenty of upper middle class neighborhoods, many of which are considered among the richest in the country.

Intertwined among these fabulous communities is a myriad of cultural gems, including a natural history museum, a symphony orchestra, and a choral society. And for parents that like living in more spacious suburbs but still need to commute to NYC to work, there’s a train that takes commuters directly from Greenwich to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station in under 45 minutes.

Franklin, MA

If you’re looking for the absolute safest city in all of the US, look no further than Franklin, MA. The east coast city, which has a population of about 35,000 residents, has the lowest crime rate of the 100 safest cities in the US, making it a fantastic choice for those who are raising a family. The school system is an excellent one, with a large number of students from the city’s Franklin High School regularly getting accepted to Ivy League schools and other top universities throughout the country.

The extracurricular activities in Franklin are a favorite among growing kids, offering seemingly endless opportunities for sports and recreational activities. The Feast of St. Rocco is among the city’s most endeared attractions, and involves four straight days of festivities that both children and their parents can enjoy. Only 40 years ago, Franklin was a rural farm town, a far cry from what it is today – a city that offers residents a greta housing market and a safe haven within which to raise a family.

Irvine, CA

The Golden State isn’t just home to celebrities and the Hollywood type. It’s also got a number of wonderful cities where parents can gleefully raise their kids. Enter Irvine, CA, which CNNMoney.com boasts a healthy economy with a never-ending supply of jobs – good news for working parents.

It’s also got and the lowest crime rate of all US cities with over 100,000 residents. In fact, a publication of Wall Street Journal praises Irvine as the “Best Run City” in the US. The city is home to a number of parks, public libraries, and even the well-loved Irvine Global Village Festival, an event that celebrates the diverse cultures of the city’s population.

Keller, TX

Keller is an prosperous city in Texas with a population of approximately 45,000 that’s only 32 miles north of the Fort Worth area. The city is known for having a particularly low crime rate – it’s 73% lower than the average in the state, and 68% lower than the overall average across the country. Keller has an excellent school system, with two of the city’s four high schools considered among the best in the entire country.

Keller is also known as one of the “Nation’s Richest Cities,” and is in driving distance to the economically powerful city of Dallas, where the employment landscape is ideal for those looking to commute for work. Keller is pretty much the perfect southern city to raise a happy, safe, and stable family.

Boulder, CO

Families who enjoy the great outdoors should look to the state of Colorado, and more precisely, Boulder. Who else wouldn’t enjoy waking up every morning to the glorious sights of the Colorado mountains, combined with an intellectual economy that’s supported by one of the greatest universities in the country: the University of Colorado Boulder. The state itself has frequently been touted as one of the top in the nation for excellence in school systems, and Boulder’s boasts many of the very best.

Parents will like hearing that the crime rate in Boulder is pretty low for a large city – it’s definitely well below national average. Boulder one of the best places to raise a family, and expose children to an intellectually-driven and diverse culture.

When it comes to low crime rates, exceptional schools, great housing markets, and strong economies, these 5 cities have it all. If you’re considering making a change to raise your kids in a healthy environment, these cities should be on your list.

Understanding the Piggyback Loan, and How it Can Save You Money

Piggyback loans are appropriately named – they’re basically second mortgages secured at the same time as the first mortgage on a home purchase. Essentially, the second mortgage “piggybacks” the first.

This combo was commonly used years ago, but lost its steam when the financial crisis hit. But as the housing market has since continued to build back up, they’re making a comeback.

Piggyback Loans Defined

Piggyback mortgages are also known as “80-10-10” mortgages because of how the purchase price is covered. In this scenario, the homeowner takes out a primary mortgage and a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC) that equals 80 percent, and 10 percent of the home’s value, respectively.

These numbers aren’t always fixed, however. You can even get an 80/15/5, a 75/15/10, or whatever combination that the lender will agree to.

The first number refers to the percentage of the home’s value that the first mortgage will cover. The second number refers to the percentage of the sale price that the second mortgage, home equity loan, or the HELOC will cover. And the last number refers to how much the homeowner needs to come up with for a down payment.

This is where the name “piggyback” comes from – the second mortgage piggybacks on top of the first.

Basically, you’re taking out two mortgages at once, with the second mortgage being in the form of a home equity loan or line of credit. These loans are usually pegged to the prime rate (the lowest available rate of interest). Considering the fact that rates vary, so can the piggyback loan’s monthly payment.

The majority of these loans have a draw period of around 10 years, during which only interest payments are due. Once the draw period expires, the outstanding principal will either be amortized over a time period of up to 20 years, or due in a lump sum payment.

How Can a PiggyBack Loan Save You Money?

The main reason that borrowers tap into piggyback loans is to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). This insurance payment is required if you can’t come up with at least 20 percent of the home purchase for the down payment. It protects lenders in the event that homeowners default on their mortgage – causing the home to enter foreclosure – and the value of the property drops to the point that the sale will not cover the original mortgage.

If, for instance, the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is 85 percent, the borrower must then pay PMI that’s incorporated into their monthly payments. By taking out a piggyback loan, the lender with the 80 percent loan will have satisfied their risk, and won’t charge PMI. Avoiding this cost can put a good chunk of change back in your pocket.

Lenders consider the second mortgage as a totally separate part of the home buying transaction. They let it count towards your down payment. With 10 percent down in cash and a 10 percent second mortgage, you’ve got your 20 percent down, and successfully avoided having to be stuck with paying PMI.

Another major consideration? The tax treatment – the interest paid on a piggyback mortgage is tax deductible up to $100,000.

Piggyback loans are great for borrowers who are savvy and disciplined enough to make sure the principal is also paid down. It’s also best for borrowers who have a decent level of risk tolerance for volatile interest rates. As always, have chat with your mortgage specialist to find out if you can swing a piggyback loan to avoid paying those extra pesky PMI fees.

Should You Take Your Home Off the Market if it Isn’t Selling?

In a strong seller’s market, homes that are priced right and show nicely typically sell within the first four weeks of being on the market. If this time frame comes and goes with no successful offer, sellers will most likely become frustrated, and even start contemplating the possibility of just taking the property off the market for a little while and try again some time in the near future.

The truth is, you can realistically sell your home in any market, if you get yourself a solid real estate agent and use a few proven tactics to garner more serious interest in your home.

So, should you take your home off the market if it’s not selling?

Before you make such a major decision, have a look at a few reasons why your home isn’t selling first.

The Listing Price is Way Off

Lots of homeowners hold emotional ties to their properties and genuinely think that their homes are worth more than they really are. And of course, everyone wants to get as much money from the sale of their home as possible, and demand that their agents slap a hefty price tag on the listing.

Unfortunately, nothing will cause a lagging listing more than a listing price that’s too high for the current market. If your home’s been sitting on the market for weeks – or longer – without a nibble, the first thing you should do is look at the listing price and determine whether or not it’s too high.

If so, it’s time to shave a few bucks off.

Your real estate agent will be able to pull a report of the recent comparable sales in the neighborhood. Be sure that you ask no more than 5 to 10 percent over the previous top selling price. And don’t have the most expensive listing on the block, either – buyers are looking at the same comparables, so you don’t want to scare them off before they’ve even seen your property.

Price point is critical – if you don’t price your home properly, you’re pretty much asking for a stale listing.

Your Home Doesn’t Show Well

Aside from setting an accurate price point, making sure that your home is properly staged is absolutely essential. Nobody wants to pull up to a home with overgrown weeds and pet excrement in the front yard. Nor do they want to walk inside and see yesterday’s laundry piled up on the couch, or a stack of dirty dishes piled up in the sink.

Granted, these scenarios are pretty outrageous (though they do happen), but even simple things like a cracking door, broken window blind, or orange walls will throw buyers off.

Take a second gander at your home and make sure that you’ve tackled everything as far as staging is concerned. Is the lawn well manicured? Is the house clean and tidy? Are the colors neutralized?

Don’t leave your home in the morning without making sure that all beds are made, dishes are washed and put away, and counters are clear. You just never know when a last-minute showing is booked, giving you no time to run back from the office to clear the place up before the buyer show up.

When in doubt, have your home staged by a professional home stager.

The Place is Outdated

Houses that feature outdated kitchens and bathrooms will usually sit on the market longer than more modern properties, or even wind up selling at a lower price.

It’s possible that your home may need some upgrades, but you’ll also need to be realistic with both your time and your budget. Make sure that whatever money you’re spending is a wise investment.

The rule of thumb is to avoid huge projects that will be super expensive. Perform as many small home improvements as you realistically can, and look for improvements that will most likely make your home move-in ready as far as potential homebuyers are concerned.

Typically, the most valuable home improvements include painting, replacing or refacing a worn-out front door, touching up faded siding, refacing kitchen cabinets and countertops, and replacing hardware in the kitchen and bathroom. You probably won’t recoup as much of the cost if you add a bathroom, sunroom, or gutted the kitchen.

Don’t Put a Cap on Your Options

If you’ve absolutely tried everything, and your home still isn’t selling, consider hedging your bets and putting your home up for sale and for rent at the same time.

If you’ve already vacated the property, or need to relocate soon, maybe renting out your home could be a realistic approach. That is, of course, if your finances support such an option.

Putting the house up for rent and for sale at the same time can give the potential clientele a trial rental period. Perhaps your particular market is experiencing a temporary slowdown, but the rental market is really strong. If you’re able to carry two mortgages, you could allow your home to act as an investment property while buying time until next year when the market has (hopefully) picked up for sellers.

In the meantime, let the renters pay your mortgage for you while your home continues to build equity. If you find a renter and get a lease signed, your lender will be much more likely to approve you for second mortgage to keep the home while you start your life elsewhere.


Make sure you exhaust all efforts to make your home as attractive as possible – both esthetically and price wise – and get yourself a skilled real estate agent on your team. Sometimes all it takes is a temporary time-out from the market to make a few tweaks to the place and the listing, then put it back up on the market in a few weeks to get a fresh start.

How Does the Fed Affect Mortgage Rates?

Homebuyers are continuing to enjoy super-low mortgage rates, thanks largely to the fact that the Fed has decided to keep a lid on interest rates – for the time being, anyway.

The Fed – as the Federal Reserve is affectionately referred to – is a government agency that’s commissioned by Congress to serve as the central bank of the US. It influences the US economy through financial actions, one of the most important being the federal funds rate that significantly affects mortgage rates.

While the Fed can’t directly set mortgage rates, the actions it takes certainly influences them indirectly, albeit significantly.

Economists and investors all across the country have been sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation of an interest rate hike. But the last time the Fed met up, the decision was to keep rates low, especially in the wake of the economic debacle in China and other nations overseas – but that makes for a different discussion altogether.

Let’s talk about how the Fed affects mortgage rates, and why you should care.

Building Back the Economy After the Financial Crisis in 2008

We all remember the economic nightmare that started in late 2007/early 2008. That’s when all hell broke loose, with everyone fearing we’d see another Great Depression that hadn’t been experienced since the crash of 1929.

In response to this crisis, the Federal Reserve took action to help bring the economy back up. It did this by easing up on interest rates and buying mortgage-backed securities and government debt. The program, which has since ended as of 2014, boosted the cash supply in the country’s financial systems.

This nudged banks and other lenders to loan out money more easily. It also spiked the price and decreased the supply of the types of securities that the Fed snatched up.

This all affects lending rates – including mortgage rates – by keeping them low.

When the Fed takes steps to maintain economic stability, its actions have a big impact on lending rates. You can expect mortgage rates to be a lot more affordable when the Fed take steps to strengthen the economy. The flip side is also true – when the Fed decides to put a squeeze on the economy, it takes money out of the system, which tends to increase rates, including those for mortgages.

When the Fed cuts rates, it typically cuts the Fed Funds Rate, which is the short-term interest rate that financial institutions lend money to each other to meet mandated reserve levels. When the Fed lowers this rate, the Prime Rate (the rate that banks give their best clients) typically drops in response.

Fantastic. But what does this really mean to you?

Basically, it means that anything that’s directly affected by Prime Rate will also be directly affected by any rate cut by the Fed – usually, short-term loans.

Mortgage rates aren’t directly affected because they’re typically long-term rates that are influenced by buyers and sellers in the bond market. Any movement in this market will cause a fluctuation in mortgage rates. When this happens, don’t be surprised to get one quote from a lender on Monday, then a completely different quote on Thursday.

At the end of the day, a healthy economy is good for the real estate market. A liquid real estate market helps the mortgage market, and keeps the rates competitive.

Other Factors Influencing Mortgage Rates

Even though the Fed has a big influence on mortgage rates, it’s not the only one. There are other factor that influence these rates, including the following:

                      Growth – The economy moves up and down, and is highly sensitive to things like low unemployment rates. When the economy is experiencing a growth spurt, demand for money increases, which drives interest rates up. The opposite is also true: when economic growth slows down, interest rates tend to decrease.

                      Inflation – This increases prices and puts a wrench in spending power in the US economy, which slows growth. This affects future homeowners by pushing mortgage rates higher as lenders boost interest rates to protect profits against the effects of inflation.

                      New Home Sales – The construction and sale of new homes has a big impact on the demand for mortgage borrowing. When there is strong growth in new home sales, there tends to be a higher demand for mortgage borrowing. And higher demand for mortgage lending fuels pressure to boost mortgage interest rates. On the other hand, a drop in new home sales means downward pressure on mortgage rates as a result of diminished mortgage borrowing.

Regardless of the influence that the Fed has on mortgage rates, it’s important to work with a mortgage specialist who has a finger on the pulse of the mortgage market. As it stands, mortgage rates are incredibly low, but economists are anticipating a hike in rates any time, considering this extended period of low interest.

If you’ve got all your financial ducks in a row and have teamed up with a solid mortgage broker and real estate agent, now may be as good a time as ever to buy a home and lock into a mortgage.

Ways to Customize Your Rental Unit Without Taking Out the Paint Brush

Just because you don’t own the place you’re currently living in doesn’t mean you have to put up with boring neutral forever. While rentals can pose a number of challenges – from the ugly floors to the outdated light fixtures – there are plenty of ways that you can customize your space and really make it your own, even with stark white or barely beige walls.

Here are a few things you might want to try out that don’t require a paint brush.

Art Extravaganza

If you don’t feel like painting your walls – or have been told you’re not allowed to – there is still a way to breathe life into bare walls, including adding your favorite art work. Gallery walls are hugely popular these days, and involve grouping art pieces together by the bunch, rather than hanging just one solitary piece.

Using art makes it incredibly easy to create an accent wall, and you don’t even necessarily have to hammer nails into the wall either. Choose pieces that are lightweight, which can be easily supported using sticky strips that will never leave a hole or any other mark behind. For lots of color, use paintings and photos with tons of texture. To go the more sophisticated route, stick to abstracts and black-and-white pieces in simple frames.

Dress Your Windows

Odds are the windows in your rental unit are covered in outdated, cheap plastic blinds that are nothing more than an eye-sore. Take them down (carefully) and outfit your windows with something a little more contemporary, such as floor-length curtains or roman shades. You can replace the original blinds if and when you move out.

Just choose something that will go well with the rest of the decor in the space. Window treatments are awesome for rooms that need a little something extra, and for drawing attention away from flooring that you’re not too keen on as they help draw the eye upward.

Cover Up With Area Rugs

The easiest and fastest way to deal with scuffed up hardwood or hideously outdated linoleum flooring is to add stylish area rugs throughout the space. Even if the unit is lined with wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s still OK to pile area rugs on top. In fact, it’s a huge trend these days.

Area rugs not only help cover up unattractive floors, they also help infuse color and texture into any rental unit. Feel free to mix colors and textures together to really create a unique space.

Furnish With Modular Pieces

Consider outfitting you rental unit with modular furniture pieces that you can quickly and easily customize to adequately fit your space. For example, try adding a sectional sofa that can be split up into separate chairs or even a loveseat.

Sectionals have made quite the comeback lately, and are no longer reserved for the 1980s. Other modular furniture ideas include multi-level coffee tables, and cube-shaped shelving cubicles. These pieces are versatile, modern, and can easily fit into even the smallest of rooms.

Replace Your Light Fixtures

You don’t have to suffer staring at the outdated light fixtures that your rental unit came with. Instead, take them down, store them carefully, and replace them with more modern, attractive pieces. And don’t just limit your space with only one ceiling light fixture – instead, mix things up.

In addition to a chandelier, add other light fixtures like floor lamps, heavy table lamps, wall sconces, and pendants lamps. Mix up the shade types, width, height and metals as well to add variety.

Just because you don’t exactly own the place doesn’t mean you have to live with the way it was when the previous tenants were there. This is now your home, for however long you decide, so decorate it to your liking with these easy tips so you can enjoy every square inch, and be proud of the space you’re in.

What is an “Umbrella Policy,” and Do I Need One?

Do you need to purchase home insurance when you buy a property?

You should – just about every mortgage lender will need to see proof of property insurance in order for a loan to be approved. And even if you don’t need or have a mortgage, having home insurance is definitely money well-spent in case your home is ever burglarized, vandalized, or is victim of a flood or fire.

But what about an umbrella policy? This isn’t exactly a mandatory expense. In fact, this might be a foreign concept to many homeowners.

It’s totally up to you whether or not to buy an umbrella policy. Here is some advice to help you decide whether or not this purchase is one you should make.

Umbrella Policy – Defined


First of all, let’s talk about what an umbrella policy is. Essentially, this policy offers purchasers additional liability coverage beyond typical home or auto insurance.

Not only does it protect your physical home and the belongings within it, it also protect other assets, including your investments, savings accounts, retirement fund, and even your future earnings from any major claims or lawsuits as a result of an accident that you are responsible for. An umbrella policy can even protect your name from being slandered.

So, if your liability coverage doesn’t totally cover any damages of an accident or incident on your property that you’re responsible for, an umbrella insurance policy will kick in where your other liability coverage has left off. Basically, an umbrella policy is designed to protect you when your auto or home insurance simply isn’t enough.

How Exactly Does an Umbrella Policy Work?

Let’s illustrate by example how an umbrella policy would take action in certain circumstances.

If you are involved in a car accident which was entirely your fault, and the other driver was injured, your current auto insurance will cover the other driver up to whatever limit you chose for your policy. If, for example, you chose $200,000, that’s how much the other driver will be covered for.

But if $200,000 isn’t enough to cover this expense, you could be sued for the amount over and above what your current auto insurance policy covers. That means your personal assets could be vulnerable for the taking.

Where exactly are you going to come up with that extra cash to cover what the other party is demanding? If you had an umbrella policy, these additional costs would be covered so that all of your assets would be protected.

Another example would be an incident on your property resulting in injury to another person. Let’s say you neglected to adequately shovel your driveway or de-ice your walkway. Should a postal service worker approach your front door to deliver mail, and slips and falls during this trek, he or she could sue you for injuries over and above what your current liability policy covers you for.

An umbrella policy would come into the picture to pick up the slack in this case.

How Much Does an Umbrella Policy Cost?

You can expect to pay anywhere between $150 and $300 a year for a $1 million umbrella policy. Homeowners can purchase these policies in $1 million increments, typically up to $5 million. The second $1 million will usually cost about $75 a year, then about $50 a year for every $1 million that follows.

There are certain factors, however, that could affect how much you pay for your policy, including:


▪          Your job

▪          Your driving record

▪          Your hobbies

▪          Pets

▪          Prior lawsuits

Factors Not Covered Under an Umbrella Insurance Policy

Even though an umbrella policy can protect you under a variety of circumstances, there are certain lawsuits that it won’t protect you against, including:

▪          Malpractice lawsuits

▪          Damage caused by business-related activity

▪          Intentional damage you cause to any person or property

▪          Workers compensation claims

An umbrella policy also does not cover you if you’re actually the one harmed and require an expensive medical procedure. In this case, you’ll have to depend on your health insurance to flip the bill for these expenses.

Should You Buy This Policy?

All homeowners and retirement fund investors should seriously consider buying an umbrella policy. But even those without such assets should consider buying it. Think about other assets that you might own – like your car, savings account, and your future paychecks that are at risk if you’re ever slapped with a lawsuit.

At the end of the day, if you’re involved in any activity or possess anything that could put you at an increased risk for liability, an umbrella policy can help bail you out of financial hot water.

Emergency Tips Every Homeowner Needs to Know About

Owning and maintaining a home doesn’t come with an instruction manual, though it would be great if it did. After you’ve found the home you love and moved in, the real fun starts.

But sometimes the fun can be rudely interrupted by certain scenarios that can put the home – and even you and your family – at risk.

Here are a few things all homeowners should know about in order to avert an emergency in the house.


Know Where the Shut-Off Valve is

Whether the toilet is overflowing, or the pipes are frozen, the water supply to the house needs to be shut off immediately. You should probably shut the water off completely if you’re going on vacation for more than a couple of days.

You’ll need to know exactly where the shut-off valve is in order for you to cut off the water supply. While it may typically be in the basement, it can also be located in an underground utility box or outside wall in warmer climates.

Once you’ve located it, make sure that it works properly. It should be turned clockwise to stop the water flow into the house. A good idea would be to test it two or three times after you first move into the home to make sure it actually works.

In the case of a burst pipe either under a sink or beside the toilet, you should first shut the valve off directly at these sites to minimize damage in those immediate areas.


Know How to Stop an Overflowing Toilet

Aside from this being pretty nasty, an overflowing toilet can cause serious water damage to the immediate surroundings and the structures below. Usually these scenarios happen when the bowl is slow to drain and clean water from the tank rushes in too fast.

If the bowl is filling up, don’t run away. Instead, immediately lift the top of the tank, grab the black rubber float, and pull it up. This will close the valve that allow the clean water in the bowl, which should ideally give you enough time to shut the water source off.


Label Your Circuit Breakers

You’ll definitely need to fiddle with the breakers on occasion. As such, it’ll be a lot more helpful if you know exactly which breakers work specific outlets, light fixtures, electronics, and appliances.

First of all, you need to know exactly where your breaker box is. Once you’ve found it (usually in some sort of utility space like the laundry room or storage room), label the breakers accordingly. You’re probably going to need some help in this department, so make sure you’ve got your partner or a pal to help identify what fixtures each breaker controls.

Start by turning them all off, then test each one at a time. Once you’ve got this info, write it down directly beside each switch. Be sure to identify where the main switch is too, which shuts off the power to the entire house.


Know How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher

Many times a house fire can be stopped right in its tracks with the use of a fire extinguisher. Just make sure your home is equipped with one.

To effectively operate this life-saving piece of equipment, it might help to write down clear, simple instructions on the actual canister. The first thing you need to do is pull the pin for it to be ready. After you aim the nozzle at the fire, squeeze the trigger and spray the agent from side to side to extinguish the fire.

Remember that the average fire extinguisher only consists of approximately 8 seconds of fire-squelching agent in it, so use this tool wisely.


Keep an Emergency Kit Handy in the Home

Certain emergencies may force you to remain in your home for a long time – perhaps even days. And many times the conditions aren’t exactly comfortable or safe. Perhaps your area has been caught in a massive snowstorm that has blocked you in and knocked the power out. Or perhaps your home is the victim of destruction from a hurricane or earthquake.

Whatever the situation is, you should be prepared for anything and everything, and that means having a disaster kit readily available. Consider adding the following items to this kit:

▪           Water (about one gallon of water per person per day for a week)

▪           Food (non-perishable)

▪           Radio

▪           Flashlight

▪           Batteries

▪           First-aid kit

▪           Blankets

▪           Whistle to signal for help

▪           Cell phone with chargers

If it’s within your budget, you may even consider buying a generator that will be able to power up some of the more necessary appliances, like light fixtures, a stove, or space heaters.

You can never be over-prepared for an emergency. Taking the time and effort to prepare your home before disaster strikes can save both the home itself, and your family.

Is Fall a Good Season to Sell? Yes, and Here’s Why

Rumors are always swirling about when it comes to the best time of year to sell a property. While plenty of people have traditionally believed that the spring and early summer are the bests weeks of the year to sell, there’s no reason why the fall can’t be just as fruitful.

Despite what many people think about the real estate market, the fall can be a lucrative time of year to sell your house.

Consider these three factors:

  • Buyers are back from summer holidays
  • There’s less competition
  • Listing photos will look awesome with fall foliage

Let’s elaborate a bit to show you precisely why you shouldn’t write off the fall season when it comes to listing your home for sale.


Vacationers Are Back From Summer Holidays

No matter what time of the year it is, buyers will always be out there on the prowl for a home. Regardless of the season, when a buyer is serious, they’ll be looking 24/7, even through traditional holidays. With the ability to browse listings online these days, there’s always a chance for a buyer to come across your property, regardless of what month you’re in.

After Labor Day comes and goes, buyers are more focused on their quest for a new home. Once the kids hit the books once again, home buyers are refreshed and ready to get down to business. And the need to be in a new home for Thanksgiving and the holidays in December has typically been a driving force for fall home sales.


The Competition is Less Fierce

As mentioned above, parents are busy getting their kids ready and settled in school in the early fall, and are even starting to stuff their turkeys in time for the holidays. This shifts their focus away from listing their homes, at least temporarily.

Plenty of people still have the mentality that real estate slows right down by October and is pretty much at a stand-still from Thanksgiving until February. As a result, many possible sellers just assume that there’s no reason to list their properties during these months.

This means that if you list your home in September or October, there is less competition out there for you to deal with. You’ll most likely have the benefit of getting more buyers’ attention on your place thanks to a potential seller’s market. And the fewer number of homes on the market, the better your chances of scoring a higher selling price.


Awesome Curb Appeal and Listing Photos

You absolutely cannot underestimate the power of curb appeal and first impressions that buyers get from listing photos. And the fall provides the perfect setting to create spectacular photos for your listing.

You’ve probably already noticed the leaves on the trees are already starting to take on a bright color change. Early fall is a gorgeous time of year with the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows adorning the vegetation.

Color-turning fall foliage can make your property look amazing in pictures. Take advantage of this time of year to take exterior photos for your listing to make your home as appealing as possible to buyers. Just don’t forget to sweep the falling leaves off your driveway and walkways.

At the end of the day, there will definitely be a bunch of motivated buyers during the last few months of the year who are in search of the right house, despite the possibility of there being less inventory. Less competition, more focused buyers, and amazing curb appeal; the perfect ingredients for a successful sale!