Miscellaneous

Junk In the Clutter Drawer

We all have that one drawer that is full of junk. Sometimes people purposefully have a junk drawer or other times it happens by accident; but no matter how the clutter accumulated, it’ still a stress spot in your house that needs to go. Set a day aside to pull out the drawers and remove all paper clips, old receipts, pens, etc.

The best way to start is to just straight up dump it on the ground and only put back the items you need. It can be tough picking out what you need and what you don’t. It’s quite easy for someone to rationalize keeping a chip clip they’ve had (but not used) for the past two years.

Here are ten things you need to remove from your junk drawer immediately. Removing these items will make sure it because an efficient space for storage instead of junk.

Stale pens

Lids are missing, some are low on ink, and others you feel you’ve had for a decade. Grab a scratch pad and test them all; throw out the ones that don’t work. Next time you go to grab a pen you won’t be worried if it works or not. Such a relief!

Old coupons

Everyone likes to save money and coupons are the simplest way. Despite having the intentions you could just never remember to bring them to the store with you; so there they stayed in your drawer. Grab all the old ones and toss them. Some stores like Bed Bath & Beyond accept expired coupons, so save all those if you have any.

In today’s world most stores have digital coupons you can download on your smart phone. For instance, Kroger has an app where you can download it, and scroll for hours selecting which coupons you want loaded to your customer card, and when you go to check out the coupons are automatically applied.

Batteries

Are the batteries still good?...

How to Grow Herbs Indoors

How cool would it be to grow your own plants and herbs inside? It would be super convenient to just reach to your window sill and grab a few pieces of parsley or mint to throw in the meal you’re cooking. This simple kind of task doesn’t require a botanist to make happen; growing plants indoors can be quite simple if you know what you’re doing. Here’s everything you need to know to begin.

The best inside herbs

Which herbs do you use most often when cooking? Thyme can be used in soups, mint in salads, cilantro in salsa, etc. What you don’t want to do is limit yourself to herbs that can only be used for cooking. Herbs like chamomile can be used in teas, and lavender perhaps in a bubble bath.

One component to think about is how much of each herb you will need. Mint wouldn’t be used as much as oregano or parsley, so perhaps just one plant will do.

The most recommended herbs to grow indoors are:

  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Lemon balm
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Parsley

Probably thinking what about basil? Well basil is actually a bit difficult to grow indoors for many reasons, like requires more sunlight than most, and needs a steady warm temperature. Basil is just a pain to grow indoors, but it can be done.

How to pot the herbs inside

Few plastic cups plants come in are meant to be their permanent pot, herbs like these need new cups and pretty soon after you buy them. Get yourself a few pots that allow for six inches in diameter.  Drill a hole in the bottom of the new pot, and put a water dish underneath. The potting soil you use should be made for indoor growing and not the dirt from your yard.

The most basic beginner fail is to put several different kinds of herbs in a long pot. Growers...

How to Measure Square Footage

When buying or selling a home one of the biggest factors to look at is metrics, the amount of square footage. As simple as it sounds, measuring square footage can be cumbersome. Few measures are the same, as a lot of home owner’s measure differently. Making a mistake in measuring can severely affect the value of a home.

Worrying whether you are calculating the square footage correctly is nothing to get worked up about, but let’s look at a proper way to measure a home.

Gross living area

The gross living area is what most people think when they hear the term square footage. Here is one way to calculate your GLA.

  1. Loosely sketch a blueprint of the home, and label each room.
  2. Break each room into rectangles, or if it is already square that is ideal.
  3. Do not account for patios, porches, or staircases. These are considered “unfinished areas”
  4. Multiple the lengths by the widths of each rectangle of each room.
  5. Add all the sums together to get the total square footage of the home.

What to include and what to skip

Who said measuring was simple?

It’s common for even finished basements to be left out of these measurements. It wouldn’t hurt to measure it for your records, but an agent will most likely leave that number out.

On the other hand, a finished attic that could house a living body, and with at least seven feet of space between the floor and ceiling can be counted in the GLA. Any other stories in the house that meet that requirement can be added as well.

As an example, let’s say there is a two story home with 1,500 square feet on the main floor, 1,000 square feet on the second floor, and 500 square feet in an unfinished basement, and an additional 500 in a detached garage. If the seller claimed they had 3,500 square feet,...

Restrictive Covenants for HOA's

When buying a home, homebuyers are faced with the decision if they want to live in a community run by a HOA, aka a homeowners association. These types of homes require participation by its residents. Members must follow the CC&R’s, the covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

All this is is just rules set by the community. This isn’t quite like zoning laws, which are set by the government; these are laws set by the HOA to keep the attractiveness and property value of the homes. Typically, they aren’t anything too restrictive that won’t change your lifestyle, but some can be annoying if they are too picky. Other times it can be beneficial if your neighbors are a bit “rough around the edges” and prefer tacky yard ornaments.

Some of the more common rules HOA’s set in place are:

  • Specific vehicle parking places, and recreational vehicle storage.
  • Limiting colors for exterior paint on houses.
  • Types of fencing allowed.
  • Limiting the yard decorations, sporting equipment (basketball goals, soccer nets, etc.) and recreational appliances (hot tubs).
  • Limiting types of window treatments allowed.
  • Limiting the type of security lights attached to your house.
  • Pet restrictions (breed, weight, leash, etc.)
  • Rules on commercial or business uses of property for residents.

Many people see these lists as a giant sign if things you cannot do, but if they turn it upside down and look at it differently, they may be surprised at what they see.

HOA’s can be a great thing. They can maintain living standards among its residents that keep the community looking sharp and like new. They stop the unruly residents from taking over and making the neighborhood what they want it to be. Maybe a neighbor wants to park his Winnebago on the street for a few months. Well the HOA won’t let that eyesore sit there months on end because it’s simply ugly...

What Is A HOA? How Do They Help?

After months and months of searching you finally find a house that is right on your price point, but it comes with a month fee called the HOA. So what exactly is the HOA fee and what does all that extra cash exactly pay for?

For starters, HOA stands for Homeowners Association. This encompasses all homes like condos, townhomes, or freestanding homes in a planned community. The monthly fee covers the communal areas of the neighborhood.

The reasoning is that everyone living in the neighborhood has equal access to the common areas and is equally responsible for keeping them well maintained. The usual areas everyone gets to use are pools, parking garages, clubhouses, general landscaping, workout rooms, sidewalks, gates, roofs, and building exteriors. The insurance for covering these areas is also part of the monthly payment.   

Of course no one likes paying extra on top of a mortgage payment, but it can actually help save on other maintenance costs. So before you complain too much, think about what it could actually do for you.

How much are HOA fees

For a typical single-family home, HOA fees can cost anywhere from $200-$300 a month, but can vary depending on the size of your unit.

For example, I have a 1,600 square ft. condo in Louisville, Kentucky with a pool, weight room, landscapers, snow removal, and fences, and it is $166 per month. Utilities are not included. One could imagine what a fancy Hollywood community would cost if it offered all services and amenities, probably somewhere in the thousands.

What is an HOA?

Monthly HOA fees are typically split in two parts. The first part goes towards the communities monthly expenses. The second part goes into a reserve fund, or a rainy day fund. These funds stack up and go towards the bigger repairs like new roofs, plumbing issues, exterior painting etc. These...

Need Cultural Sensativity in Agents

Homeownership among Hispanics and Asians is expected to double in the coming years. The fear is that the housing industry won’t be ready for it. There’s a panel called “Reigniting the First-Time Homebuyer Market,” are the ones worried about this.

The panel is currently in Dallas, Texas at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. It’s being hosted by J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families.

They predict the market for purchase mortgages to Hispanics and Asians will see major growth well into 2060. The problem lies in the fact that mortgage bankers aren’t capable in dealing with these communities.

Hispanics represent an astounding 3% of the mortgage banking industry. Having such misrepresentation allows for a lot of misunderstanding to occur. If they had more of their own people there to help, certain problems could be avoided.

The panel suggested an increase in “cultural sensitivity” among real estate agents could help. There is work being done to get more Latinos in the mortgage pool.  

...

Tiny Homes

A lot of millennials are buying smaller homes, particularly tiny homes. They aren’t interested in maintaining a larger home and maybe one day selling it for a chunk of change. Owning a large home with a lot an old American dream, something today’s generations are forgetting about.

There are TV shows about it on HGTV’s network, called “Tiny House Nation” and the DIY network shows tiny homes every-now-and-then.

What these networks don’t show is the process of obtaining a loan for such a small home. A lot of these tiny homes don’t even qualify for the mortgage requirements for a traditional house. One option for tiny home hunters is to build their own tiny home. The options to financing your tiny home are here below.

Home on wheels

These types of homes usually fall under loans that are made for RV’s, which are unsecured, fixed-rate mortgages. The payoff for these is usually around 2-7 years. What is nice about these is they don’t have any application fees, or closing costs.

These loans are a straight up swap of money based on your FICO score. The catch to these is that the loan usually is attached with a higher interest rate, and they are NOT tax deductible.

Specific mortgage lenders

Because this lifestyle is still so new, the market is quite small. The traditional mortgage lenders often don’t want to bother with such small loans. It’s not uncommon for lenders to have a minimum loan amount around $100,000. So if you are dead-set on a small home, you’ll need to find a lender that offers these types of loans.

Consider the zoning laws

When anyone buys land they must consider what they are restricted to building on their land. Every tier of, local, county, and state zoning laws must be carefully...

Air Rights Above Your Home

Every home owner should know the basics of their air rights; you know the air right above the house. Not many people give it a thought, except for those in cities like New York, or San Francisco where space is almost all that matters to home owners.

So do you own the air above your land? What could you do if you did?

Air rights

Air rights are considered a development right, and that is a general rule dating back to the twentieth century where home owners owned the land below their home, and the air above it. All that void space above your home is considered yours.

Still, today’s laws for the most part follow the old Latin doctrine, “For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to heaven and down to hell.”

Once the airplane came on the scene, those rights became a bit more restricted. The new rule of law was that homeowners can only use the airspace they could “reasonably use”. For the better, this law allowed airplanes to operate without invading everyone’s airspace multiple times a flight; allowing the industry to take off.

UP

Zoning laws are another thing to consider. They stop your neighbors from building a 12-story condo building right next to your residential home, and all your neighbors for that matter. Even though he may own the right to use that space, zoning laws circumvent these types of problems.

If your home doesn’t have a second floor, but you really wish it could, and maybe even a third; zoning restrictions prevent you from adding anything that would seem unreasonable, like a fourth, maybe even a third story.

Value in the city

Heavily populated cities like New York have high housing demands and little space to offer. Cities like so do have air rights, and they hold a price tag. If you aren’t using...

House Hunting in Today's World

Today’s home hunting process isn’t like it was 20 years ago. You used to scour the newspaper in search of a new home, but today you may spend weeks, even months looking online for the right house.

What’s tricky about buying a home is that it isn’t like buying an expensive new car, or piece of furniture. There’s more to buying a home than looking at the numbers and comparing. Buying a home is an investment that touches your heart and gets you deeply involved. Keeping this in mind, here are a few steps to remember during your home search.

Explore, discover, and dream

Looking at all the houses you want online allows one to dream; dreamers envision all they want in a house and what each room could be used for. From your living room you can see what all the market has available. You are allowed to see what parts of town have homes flying off the streets, and which areas have reasonable pricing, all without dealing with an agent.

Not having commitment to an agent can be a real stress reliever in the beginning. Think of it as going into a car dealership and just browsing without having a salesperson bother you.

Check it out in person

After hunting long enough you will find a house you are highly interested in. This will lead you to go to an open house and maybe even contact an agent for more information.

Physically walking into a home takes your search one giant step forward, but keep in mind you will probably see many more homes before you buy. A lot of buyers see multiple homes before they even consider offering. You don’t want to buy the first one you see and have buyer’s remorse down the road.

Find a good local agent

You won’t be disappointed when you find a good, professional agent. Buyers aren’t paying extra to work...

Ceiling Fan Info

Choosing a ceiling fan doesn’t appear to be too difficult, but there are a few things you need to know before you pull the trigger.

Every gust of air can make a difference in a home during the summer months. Ceiling fans can help with your personal comfort while keeping your utility bills down. In order to pick the winner, you must choose which room and where it will go. Have all your questions answered by reading on.

What size fan is best?

The fans amount of air moved depends on the number of blades as well as their length. The standard bedroom is 12 feet by 12 feet, and the standard four blades, 42inches is perfect. Any rooms larger than that are best suited by wider and longer blades. 52 inches should do the trick for larger rooms.

Your everyday ceiling fan has four blades, but other models make up to six blades; and the more blades the more air it moves. If you are searching for maximum air flow and are on a budget, look for a cheaper five bladed fan.

How long should the fan hang?

The minimum of space between the fan blades and the floor is seven feet. As you’ve noticed not all rooms are the same height, and often in different styles. One fan that would hang too low in one type of room may be perfectly for another.

Fan manufacturers know where their product is going, so they’ve come up with different styles. There are two basic models: standard and ceiling hugger-models.

The standard model has 6 or 8 inch-long downrod extending from the ceilings bracket to the motor. These ideally go on ceilings that are eight feet high. Anything higher and an extension rod may be necessary. If it’s too high the fan becomes useless.

For lower ceilings, the ceiling-hugger is great, as it’s useful and still leaves headspace.

Boxes always have the recommended “install distance” or some description...

How Long it Takes to Close

After you’ve found the house you want, inspected it thoroughly, made an offer and been accepted, it’s time to close. How long exactly is this process? Here’s what the closing timeline will look like.

Average time frame to close

The average today is about 50 days to close. Yes that seems like forever, but there’s a reason it doesn’t happen quickly. To begin with, buyers that require mortgages must complete the loan process and property appraisal, and banks aren’t known to do their business quickly.

While the banks are doing their job in the background, home buyers must use that time to review the property title and do a complete inspection. This time also allows for both the buyer and seller to plan their move.

How to slow down a closing

Despite a home being under contract the occasional hitch can make closing time come to a drastic stop, and here’s how:

Funds: The most common reason closings get delayed is due to money. Poor finances. In order to keep things going at a good pace it’s best to get a mortgage preapproval letter. Often time’s sellers require them. Even in order to get this, it can take the lender an entire month to do their due diligence. Cash buyers don’t really have this problem.  

Appraisal differences

Banks must appraise the home in order for them to approve someone for a mortgage. If the appraisal doesn’t satisfy either party, a renegotiation may take place and that can take time.

No insurance

Waiting until the last minute to get home insurance can really slow down a closing. Most of the time it is required before you move.

Contingencies

Sellers usually need...

How to Get Your Weeds Under Control

Weeds are definitely annoying, and always seem to pop up in the wrong places. They compete with other plans and often outgrow them if they’re not taken care of. They grow and spread quite easily by dispersing their seeds all over your yard.

The best way to defeat your enemy is to know your enemy. Take notice to what type of weeds are growing and find out the ones you don’t know. If you are in over your head and can’t count how many types of weeds you have, start with eliminating one species at a time. Surf the internet to find out what they are and the best way to kill them.

Weeding doesn’t have to be such a pain, so follow these steps and make it a breeze.

Right tools for the job

The fork-like claw is a new weed’s night mare, but virtually useless on established weeds. Buy yourself a sharp streel trowel to help you dig through the soil and get under the toughest weeds.

For weeds that have been around for a while and have big, long roots, use a spade to remove them for good. Always wear gloves to protect your hands from whatever may be in the dirt, or on a nearby plant. It’s okay to take them off when you are pulling brittle weeds with flimsy stems.

When to weed

Weeds are most easily pulled when the soil is damp. This way the roots easily slip out of the ground without leaving any parts behind. During the summer months, the mornings or late afternoons are best.

Instead of designating one day a week or month to weeding, just do a quick sweep every couple of days so nothing goes unpicked and nothing gets established.

How they spread

Some weeds like nutsedge and plantain grow in clumps and have strong roots that aren’t easily pulled. Use your trowel to dig under the root and wedge it up and out.

Some weeds spread by runners,...

Brexit: and the Impact on U.S. Markets

As we have all heard by now, the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union last Thursday. Since this is so fresh, and never done before, no one really knows how this will play out. There’s a lot of speculation about how this will affect the U.S. economy. So below are a summary of the opinions floating around the nation about our housing market.

TO begin with, Standard & Poor’s is reporting it could downgrade UK sovereign ratings: now at “competitive disadvantage compared with other global financial centers.”

Stateside, financial institutions insisted to downplay the growing worries on Friday.

They said, “We affirm our assessment that the U.K. economy and financial sector remain resilient and are confident that the UK authorities are well-positioned to address the consequences of the referendum outcome,” the G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors stated.

“We recognize that excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability,” their statement went on.

So despite their words of speculation, how will this actually affect our housing market?

Wells Fargo had this to say about Brexit, “the market action in Treasuries and Gilts continues to evolve in line with the playbook from the 2011 U.S. sovereign downgrade,” said Mike Schumacher who is the head of rate strategy for WF. He continues, “There is one key distinction: this time Gilts are leading the way, Should Gilts lead Treasuries? We think not. We still expect capital to flow out of the U.K., with the U.S. being a very likely destination.”

“In the June 17 edition of the rates explorer, we called for two-0year and 10-year Treasury yield to reach 0.5% and 1.3%, respectively, in the week or two after a leave victory. We stand by these projections /. In the Asia trading session, the two-year reached 0.5%, while the 10-year bottomed at 1.4%.”...

Why Neighbors Are Important

Every home owner has to deal with neighbors, unless you live in seclusion in the county-side. They can either be good, bad, horrible, loud, and quiet; you can love them or loathe them. They come in all shapes, sizes, personalities, and quantities. Let’s focus on the positives and look for the better qualities in neighbors.

Friends indeed

I know my neighbors have my back. Living in Kentucky we are subject to all types of weather, even the worst of it. Every winter we usually get hammered with a ton of snow, and as cars typically do, they get stuck in it. My neighbors didn’t’ hesitate to grab their ATV and help pull me out.

Every summer the neighbor down the yard walks up to our house with a big basket of vegetables they’ve grown and offer their hard work with us. It’s the little things that make a great neighbor!

The way to the heart

One of our neighbors is a hunter and often shares his bounty in the form of deer jerky. He stocks our freezer with meat and fish, and we are eternally grateful.

Not only is he a hunter, but he’s an electrician as well. If we ever have any problems or questions we just give him a quick shout and he comes to inspect our problem without hesitation. A neighbor who is so selfless is the best kind to have.

One big happy family

Every year the Kentucky Derby is run, and they have a party. As sure as the sun comes up, we get the first invite. We are so close they have become like family. We share cakes during celebrations, gifts during holidays, and even food when there is plenty.

Your neighbors live near you, so keep them near your heart.

Fondly remembered

Growing up you remember who your neighbors were. You remember the memories you had with them. I lived in a neighborhood...