5 Signs Of A Dog-Friendly Neighborhood

Where would be without our PUPPIES!!  They are family members too. Looking for a dog friendly neighborhood?  Here’s how:

Look for these puppy-friendly factors before making your move.

With more than 36% of U.S. households including a dog (according to a 2012 survey from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation), it’s no surprise that finding a pet-friendly neighborhood is an important consideration for many homebuyers. But how can you tell which neighborhoods are truly welcoming to your four-legged friends? Here’s what to look for on the house hunt.

 

  • 1. You see a lot of dogs out and about

    An obvious sign of a pet-friendly neighborhood is one that has lots of dogs exploring with their humans. You want to make sure that people, neighbors, landlords, and business owners are going to welcome your pet, and the best indicator of that is if there are lots of other dogs around, says Janine Acquafredda, co-founder of Realtors 4 Rescues, a nonprofit that helps keep animals out of shelters. And where there are lots of dogs, there are lots of dog owners that care about animals, so your dog will be in a safer and happier environment. There’s more to this pet activity than just scoping out the canine social scene, though. A neighborhood with lots of dog activity is also much more likely to have dog-loving neighbors  and those nearby dog-lovers are much more likely to help you find your pup if he ever gets loose or runs away.

  • 2. There’s a nearby dog park and the dogs playing in it look happy and relaxed

    Not all dog parks are created equal, and you want to be sure the one near your future home will be a pleasant experience for your pooch. Read: the big dogs aren’t picking on the little guys. (For a quick scan of nearby green spaces your dog might enjoy, check out Trulia Maps and the Places to Play layer.) Visit on a weekend morning, when the park is likely to be crowded, says Amy Robinson, a dog trainer and dog expert in Vero Beach, FL. Observe the owners too. Are they watching their charges or chatting and drinking coffee while their dog is a hundred yards away? How clean is the place? Are people picking up after their dogs? All of these answers will give you an idea of what type of dog and owner frequent the park, she says. Bonus: Hanging at the dog park can help you make friends in your new neighborhood.

  • 3. You can easily find an animal shelter, veterinarian, and pet supply store

    The existence of all three essentials shows that the community cares about the well being of animals, says Ashley Jacobs, CEO of Sitting For A Cause, a site that matches pet owners with local petsitters. When you have a community who cares about animals, keeping them healthy and controlling the pet population, that’s always a telltale sign that your dog will be welcome and loved, she says.

  • 4. There are plenty of sidewalks and places to walk

    We bought our house because of the size of the lot .98 acres  for the dogs, says Peter Taylor, a photographer who has three dogs and lives in Mountainbrook, a neighborhood in Charlotte, NC. And the roads are wide, with very little through traffic, great for walking. After all, you’ll walk your dog often, so you’ll want a neighborhood that makes this accessible. In addition to sidewalks, are there trails or beaches to explore? Bonus points if the neighborhood provides waste bags or dog-accessible water bowls, which are a sure sign an area welcomes pooches, says Jacobs.

  • 5. Places for people also welcome pets

    If a neighborhood looks promising, call or stop by some of the local restaurants, stores, or coffeehouses and ask about their policy on pets. Look for dogs lounging on local restaurant patios while their human family members enjoy lunch or dinner nearby. Spotting dog treats on the counter at the neighborhood bakery or brewery is a good sign. These little extras will enhance the quality of life for you and your pet and make your new neighborhood feel like home.

Source: Trulia Blog

 

 

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, Dogs, neighborhood, neighbors, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Can’t Get a Traditional Mortgage… What Are My Alternatives?

 

Quandry: You are faced with circumstances that may prevent you from obtaining a traditional mortgage. Don’t panic…you have alternatives!

You want to buy a house, but your credit history isn’t in tip top shape, or you cannot show a consistent cash flow even though you have a lot of money saved in the bank making you an undesirable candidate to borrow in the eyes of the lenders.

What are your options? When it comes to real estate, here are some of the most common alternatives to a traditional mortgage for you to take into consideration:

Borrow from a Self-Directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Self-Directed IRAs are different from Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. A Self-Directed IRA gives you the freedom to invest in many nontraditional assets, such as mortgages, real estate, promissory notes, tax liens, precious metals, private businesses, etc. With a Self-Directed IRA you get asset protection and tax advantages as they are government-sponsored retirement plans. Due to the self dealing rule, the IRS does not allow you to borrow against your own self-directed IRA, or those of your lineal relatives and business partners. This means that you would need to know someone who has a Self-Directed IRA to borrow from, or a third party financial company that facilitates those types of transactions. For more information on how to get private lending with a Self-directed IRA, read more on Self-directed IRA Lending.

Borrow from your Whole Life Insurance policy. Whole Life Insurance is a basic cash-value life insurance. When you pay the regular premium on a Whole Life Insurance policy, you are essentially accumulating wealth through the equity growth that you are contributing which goes into a savings account. If there are dividends or interest in this account, it is tax-deferred. Don’t mistake Whole Life Insurance for Term Life insurance. Whole Life Insurance protects you for your entire life, and allows you to borrow against the cash-value of your policy. A pro tip to borrowing against your Whole Life Insurance is that it increases your borrowing potential however, should you not pay back the loan the face value of your policy reduces. If this is the strategy you choose to implement to buy your dream home, be sure to thoroughly research this option. Ask yourself and your insurance company the following:

1. What would the Pros and Cons be to borrowing against Whole Life Insurance?
2. How long will it take to repay the loan and what would be the interest rate?
3. What would happen if you pass away before the loan is payed off?
4. What are the consequences to dependents who are beneficiaries?
5. How does it affect the annual dividends?
6. Are withdrawals of the Whole Life Insurance taxable or deferred?
7. In what scenarios would the Whole Life Insurance policy lapse if you barrow from it?

There are many things to consider when borrowing against your Whole Life Insurance policy, so be sure that your decision to buy your home outweighs some of the drawbacks of borrowing against your life insurance.

See if you can get Seller Financing. Seller Financing is a great way to skip the whole mortgage approval process. However, it is quite difficult to get for the following reasons:
(1) The seller does not own the house outright, and for the seller to give you a financing option, the seller must have paid off his/her mortgage in full.
(2) Most sellers do not want the hassle and additional risks of being a lender even though they could profit more by being the financier. With that being said, sellers don’t necessarily have to be a lender. The seller can arrange to resell the promissory note to an investor.

Buy a rent-to-own home. Rent-to-own, lease-to-own, or lease-to-buy are all the same. Often times, homeowners who want to sell off their homes but can not, those home owners may list their homes as a rent-to-own. If you and the seller sign a lease contract and you pay the Option Consideration section of the lease contract, the seller is agreeing to rent his/her home to you for a specific amount of time. Once that time ends and you have been paying the rent on the lease agreement in a timely manner and building equity towards the purchase of the home; you will have the option of going through with the purchase or not. For more details about renting-to-own a home, read Pros and Cons of Renting to Own a Home.

Source:  Dream Casa

 

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, credit score, debt, financing, first time buyers, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

What Will Give Your Home the Most Curb Appeal?

 

The Jury is IN!  You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Curl Appeal is one of the single most important details you need to address when putting your home on the market!  If your home looks amazing on the outside, Buyers will naturally assume that it looks equally as awesome on the inside. Here’s how:

How attractive your property looks when viewed by passer-byers can make all the difference in today’s market. To make sure potential homebuyers get a great first impression, consider improving your place by doing the following:

1. Revamp the front door.

Never underestimate the impact the main entrance of your house has on its curb appeal. Make sure it looks great by giving it a new coat of paint that stands out but still fits in with the rest of the home’s color scheme. Unless it’s worth replacing, in which case we recommend a custom wood door, be sure to give the door a good cleaning and polish before painting it.

2. Include nice porch furniture

If you have a porch that’s visible from the street, you can make your place look more inviting and homelike by adding some furniture. Things like nice wooden benches and a wicker patio set can make your curb appeal skyrocket. If you have the money, swap out your ruined rockers and other old porch furniture in favor of something new gliders with matching ottomans, for example.

3. Redo the house numbers

There’s just something about neat, eye-catching house numbers that leaves a good impression, especially to people on the hunt for a new house. If you don’t believe us, walk around your current neighborhood and you’ll see the difference big, bold house numbers make. It also helps to make them stand out by using aged copper, hand-painted tiles, or something unique when compared to other nearby houses.

4. Light up the place

Making sure the front of your place has great landscape lighting can improve your home’s curb appeal while making it a safer place. Switch out old lamps, pendant lights, and wall sconces with new ones that look better and offer more lighting. Pathway lights, especially solar-powered, that illuminate the walking path in your home will make the property appear better and more secure.

5. Spruce up the verdure

While there are exceptions, most people find a house with no plants outside boring-looking. If your front yard is lacking in the foliage department, invest in some new plants to give your home some vibrancy. Plant flowers, add potted plants, replace ugly weeds with a fresh lawn whatever it takes to make the area look lively and attractive.

6. Tap into your artistic side

Add a touch of style and class to your front yard by including outdoor artwork. We’re talking about things like birdbaths, fountains, and sculptures that leave a lasting impression on passer-byers. If you’re on a budget, even a few wind chimes or home-made wheel planter can do their part to improve your house’s curb appeal.

7. Doll up your windows

Unless your windows are already gorgeous and just need a good cleaning, consider investing in attractive shutters made of materials that complement the rest of your house These days exterior shutters can be made of anything from vinyl and wood to aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. You’d be surprised by how much your home’s curb appeal goes up thanks to beautiful windows.

8. Replace (or touch up) anything else that looks old

At the end of the day, it may just be an old gutter system or exterior walls in serious need of repainting that’s dragging down your property’s curb appeal. Cracked walkways, time-worn fences, and even a rusty door knocker are all things you should look out for. Instead of adding to the front of your porch, sometimes all it takes is revamping the old to significantly improve your home’s look.

Source:  Dream Casa

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:20 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: curb appeal, decorating, remodeling, selling, staging, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Open Your Pool

With the hot days of the season upon us, its time to dive in!  First things first…here is a helpful how to list on opening your pool.

Spring is in full bloom and this can mean a lot of things for many different people. For example, if you own a pool you’re surely thinking (probably dreading) about opening it for the season. There is nothing like watching all your loved ones enjoying its crisp coolness but they don’t know how much work goes into getting it ready. I am here to bring optimism to the equation and tell you that opening your pool doesn’t have to be as horrible as you anticipate.

I came across this great article from Popular Mechanics that will definitely help guide you in your efforts. I’ve highlighted a couple of steps below.

1) Don’t Empty Your Pool

According to the article, you should never have to completely empty your pool of the water that had been sitting from the past season. Exceptions to this include if you neglected to cover it or if you need to do any actual construction work to it. Why you ask? Apparently, if you remove all of the water you could run the risk of your pool lifting since it doesn’t have the weight of the water to hold it down. What that ultimately might result in is you needed to replace the whole thing.

2) Cleaning Your Pool and Water

The most basic way to start cleaning your pool and its water is by buying a chemical opening kit, or by shocking it. Then, change all the filtration systems and clear all of the baskets. You should also take this time to remove any plugs you may have put in place last year. During this step you should still have your pool cover on.

3) Refilling Your Pool

If your pool is running low on water, feel free to top it off at this time. However, this should only be done after you have replaced your filters. Once your pool is filled to the desired amount, you can take a sample to your local pool store where they will test it for you. Some places do it for free, but if not, don’t skip this step because it is super important to make sure your water is swim ready otherwise it could be dangerous.

4) Get Ready for Fun in the Sun

Your pool’s filter should be cleaned daily until the water appears clear. A ready pool means that you can see the bottom without any issues. You may need to continuously add chlorine to help you reach the perfect balance.

5) Dive In

Once the water is completely clear and all of the water levels are good you can take off the cover. Taking it off any sooner may prove counterproductive as debris may disrupt your process. Once you’ve gotten to this point, invite the neighborhood (well maybe not the whole neighborhood) and enjoy your summer!

Its that time again!  Hot summer days are upon us and its time to dive in! First things first though…time to open that pool up!

The sun is shining and the swimming pool season is about to kick off. Here is a guide to help you open your pool for the season.

Spring is in full bloom and this can mean a lot of things for many different people. For example, if you own a pool you’re surely thinking (probably dreading) about opening it for the season. There is nothing like watching all your loved ones enjoying its crisp coolness but they don’t know how much work goes into getting it ready. I am here to bring optimism to the equation and tell you that opening your pool doesn’t have to be as horrible as you anticipate. I came across this great article from Popular Mechanics that will definitely help guide you in your efforts. I’ve highlighted a couple of steps below. 

1) Don’t Empty Your Pool

According to the article, you should never have to completely empty your pool of the water that had been sitting from the past season. Exceptions to this include if you neglected to cover it or if you need to do any actual construction work to it. Why you ask? Apparently, if you remove all of the water you could run the risk of your pool lifting since it doesn’t have the weight of the water to hold it down. What that ultimately might result in is you needed to replace the whole thing.

2) Cleaning Your Pool and Water

The most basic way to start cleaning your pool and its water is by buying a chemical opening kit, or by shocking it. Then, change all the filtration systems and clear all of the baskets. You should also take this time to remove any plugs you may have put in place last year. During this step you should still have your pool cover on.

3) Refilling Your Pool 

If your pool is running low on water, feel free to top it off at this time. However, this should only be done after you have replaced your filters. Once your pool is filled to the desired amount, you can take a sample to your local pool store where they will test it for you. Some places do it for free, but if not, don’t skip this step because it is super important to make sure your water is swim ready otherwise it could be dangerous.

4) Get Ready for Fun in the Sun

Your pool’s filter should be cleaned daily until the water appears clear. A ready pool means that you can see the bottom without any issues. You may need to continuously add chlorine to help you reach the perfect balance.

5) Dive In

Once the water is completely clear and all of the water levels are good you can take off the cover. Taking it off any sooner may prove counterproductive as debris may disrupt your process. Once you’ve gotten to this point, invite the neighborhood (well maybe not the whole neighborhood) and enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, Pools, real estate, Spring, summer | Tagged , , , , , , ,

9 Questions To Ask When Searching For A Family Home

These are serious questions you need to ask when purchasing a home, especially if you are a first time homebuyer!

Here’s how to find a house your growing family will love for years to come.

Unless you’re planning on doing your own version of Fixer Upper, the general home-buying rule of thumb is to look for a place you’ll be able to live in for five years or more. So if you have kids (or are about to), you’ll need to look not just at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but also consider how a house will work for a crawling baby, curious toddler, rambunctious preschooler and beyond not to mention multiple children, if that’s your plan. Talk to your Coldwell Banker Real Estate professional about your needs and ask these nine questions to help you narrow in on the perfect home for your growing family.

1. Are the neighbors close in age? One of the greatest benefits of buying a home is getting to know your neighbors and having a true sense of community. But while neighbors of any age may be lovely people, having other young families on the block will go a long way toward creating a kid-friendly environment. (Think: company at the future bus stop, community activities like organized trick-or-treating and safety features like a slower speed limit.)

2. Is there ample outdoor space? It’s easy to overlook the yard if you’re childless or baby is still in diapers, but having an outdoor area that’s safe for supervised play is a major win. It’s important to consider the flip side, though at the time and cost of maintaining and make sure you’re up for the task. If not, look for a home with less outdoor space, like a condominium or townhouse, that’s within walking distance of a playground or park. (Not sure what the difference is between a condo and townhouse? Coldwell Banker Real Estate explains that here.) A house with a smaller yard on a quiet street or cul-de-sac could also be a good choice, since you might be able to use the street as an extension of your front yard.

3. How are the schools? Your first instinct may be to look into the quality of the public school district and you definitely should! but if your kids are preschool age or younger, don’t forget to research nanny and day care options in the area. Once you’ve checked those boxes, find out about school transportation (not all homes qualify for bus service), including where the bus stop is, or what the walking path and/or driving route will be.

4. Is it equipped with Smart Home technology? It wasn’t long ago that having network-connected products to control entertainment, security, temperature, lighting and safety seemed out of reach, except for in the most high-end houses. But these  smart home features have quickly gone mainstream as they’ve become more affordable and easy to set up in existing houses. They’re particularly great for families with young children having the ability to control night-lights, lighting and window treatments from your phone can help make naptime easier, for example. Consider which features are most important to you, and search for Coldwell Banker Real Estate listings that are classified as smart homes.

5. Is the kitchen large enough to accommodate the entire family? It’s often said the kitchen is the heart of the home, and for good reason. After all, you’ll be spending countless hours there over the years, whether you’re cooking and baking together, grabbing quick bowls of cereal in the morning, or working on school projects. A kitchen with an eat-in dining area, an island/peninsula for bar stools, or even a desk area for homework time will give you plenty of room to do all of the above (sometimes simultaneously).

6. Is there a separate room for playtime? Yes, an open floor plan makes it easier to keep an eye on kids while you’re in the kitchen, but a designated playroom off the living room or a finished basement can be a sanity-saver. You’ll still probably end up stepping on Legos, but having a dedicated room to store all those toys can help you keep the mess under control (or at least hide it).

7. Is there a convenient entrance with storage? Kids of every age come with a whole lot of gear from strollers and diaper bags during the baby stage to sports equipment when they get a little older. That’s why a mudroom or a large laundry room is ideal bonus points if it has its own outside entrance so older kids can drop off their stuff on the way in. If not, a foyer with storage space is a good alternative.

8. How’s the commute to work? Even the most perfect house isn’t perfect if you spend so much time getting to and from work you can’t help your kids get ready for school or see them before bedtime. Do a test run from any potential house to your workplace during rush hour, whether you plan to drive, bike, or take public transportation.

9. Are there shops nearby? No matter how good you are at stocking your pantry and medicine cabinet, it’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll run out of diapers at the worst possible time or need to pick up medicine if baby spikes a fever. Having a grocery store or pharmacy a short drive or walk away will save you time and stress especially if it’s open late.

Source: CB Blue Matter / The Bump

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: babies, backyard, buying, commute, first time buyers, kitchens, neighbors, parent, real estate, schools, shopping, Smart Homes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills This Summer

 

Oh Summer Sweet Summer!  Along with the break from cold weather comes increased utility bills in the form of air conditioning and fans, especially. Here are some handy tips to keep those costs down!

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on utility bills and energy costs before you’re shocked by your first big bill this summer. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prepare your home (and your wallet) for the summer heat without sacrificing comfort. So, before you crank up the AC, take a look at our top ways to save on utility bills this summer. Your budget will thank you!

1. Get Your HVAC System Ready
Is there anything worse than a broken HVAC system in the summer? The good news is you can avoid this nightmare by taking precautions and getting your HVAC ready for summer. First, you’ll want to clean or change the air filters, as dirty or clogged filters force your air conditioning system to work much harder, which in turn causes more wear and tear in the long run. You’ll also want to inspect your outdoor unit for any visible signs of damage such as warped panels, torn insulation or rust. In the colder months, small animals may nest inside the insulation so you’ll want to inspect the inside, as well. Taking these steps to ensure your AC unit is working efficiently will help keep your energy bills low this summer.

2. Clean Air Filters and Vents
Many homeowners make the mistake of closing off vents in rooms that are not being used, but closing vents causes more pressure in the ducts causing your air conditioner to work much harder. Before you turn the AC on this summer, open all the vents and give them a nice cleaning.

3. Keep Blinds Closed
Did you know that keeping your blinds closed during the day can drastically reduce the heat in your home? Keeping them open causes a greenhouse like effect sunlight and heat pour in all day and can’t get out, making your home much warmer and causing your air conditioning to work overtime, which, in turn, will spike up your power bill.

4. Lower Your Utility Rates
Do you live in a deregulated energy region? If so, you have the power to choose your energy provider and can shop around for the lowest energy rates. If you haven’t researched your options in a while, summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your current energy provider and find out if there is a cheaper rate out there. Many deregulated energy providers offer special promotions in the summer, like “free nights,” so you should definitely check out what else is out there. To see if you live in a deregulated area, just enter your address here.

5. Time Your Thermostat
If you want to be cost-conscious this summer, you shouldn’t blast your air conditioning at all hours of the day. A lower temperature setting at night and a higher setting during the day is recommended for optimal cost savings. If you’re forgetful or aren’t always around to change it, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule your temperature changes even when you aren’t home.

6. Switch to LED Bulbs
While incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they use more energy and produce quite a bit of heat compared to LED bulbs. LED bulbs tend to be a little more expensive than incandescent lights, but they last longer, produce less heat and create great energy savings in the long run. So, consider making the switch the LED lights, at least in the rooms you use most, to help lower your utility bills this summer.

7. Buy a Water Cistern
If you don’t know, a water cistern is a device that captures rain water and stores it for you to use to water your garden or lawn, to wash your car, etc. Your water bill can get out of hand in the summer as you spend more time outdoors, so a water cistern is a great investment if you want to keep your garden and lawn green all summer long without paying for extra water use.

8. Use Your Ceiling Fan
In the warmer months, you should run your ceiling fans counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the counter-clockwise motion will help pull the cold air up toward the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan efficiently will help cool your rooms, allowing you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, ultimately reducing your power bill.

9. Invest in Smart Power Strips
Connecting multiple appliances to a smart power strip that can be turned off with only one flip of a switch at night when the devices aren’t being used is a quick and easy way to help reduce energy waste. When you don’t have to unplug all your devices individually, saving energy suddenly becomes much easier!

10. Don’t Use an Irrigation Schedule
Irrigation schedules, or timers that you can set to schedule when your garden or lawn will be watered, sound nice in theory, but they actually produce quite a bit of water waste. You can’t control when it rains, and you may not be home to stop your irrigation system from going off when it does. Watering manually may seem like a chore, but when you think about all the money you can save from reducing water waste, manual watering becomes more appealing.

Don’t let the first utility bills of summer sneak up on you. Be proactive and implement our tips. We promise they’ll help you save big on your utility bills this summer!

Source: RisMedia

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 11:13 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Bills, Spring, summer, Utilities | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

How Can You Change Your Credit Score in 30 Days?

The heat is on! You want to improve your credit and you want to get it done NOW!

If raising your credit seems impossible, take a step back from the big hairy goal and tackle the beast one step at a time.

There’s no “instant” button, but there are things you can do now that will help increase your score.

The unfortunate truth about raising your credit score: There is no quick fix.

Hitting the reset button sounds tempting — especially when faced with a less than stellar credit score; but starting over with a blank slate will only set you back further.

Now that a forewarning is out of the way, on to the good stuff: Actionable tips to raise your credit score swiftly and without financial risk. You can expect most of these tips to affect your credit score in about 30 to 60 days, the typical time that’s considered speedy.

How to increase your credit score

    1. Request a copy of your credit report and look for errors

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission found that one in five consumers carried an error on their credit report. If you find an error, dispute it. Removing negative marks made in error will help you return to your correct score.

    1. Write a negotiation letter to your credit bureau

If a negotiation letter doesn’t work, contact the company reporting a late payment to ask if it will campaign for the removal. If a payment was incorrectly reported (see No. 1), or if you simply forgot a bill when you’re usually 100% on the ball, you may be able to get the late payment removed.

  1. Stop using your credit cards You can lower your credit utilization rate in two conventional ways: Lower your spending and increase your credit. Your credit score is largely determined by the amount of debt (credit card and loan balances) compared with your credit limits. Spending around one-third of your credit limit is the recommended credit line, but crossing that debt-to-credit threshold won’t help your score. Alternatively, you can request an increase in your credit or open a new card as a way of increasing your credit-to-spending ratio, but this is a risky move if your spending doesn’t slow down. Be wary of raising limits if it wouldn’t be financially feasible to pay back any and all spending.
  2. Don’t apply for multiple forms of credit in a short time Each time you request a new form of credit, including car and home loans, etc, you’ll likely face a credit inquiry. Too many inquiries within a short time and the credit bureaus may ding your credit. Keep this in mind as you request credit increases or open up new accounts. Both actions may result in one too many credit pulls and consequently, a decrease in your credit score.
  3. Settle late payments — then automate your payment schedule Timely bill pay is gut-wrenching when you’re financially strapped, but proactively settling bills will make future payments easier. Credit bureaus count a late payment starting from the first day of your last late payment, so the sooner you can square the bill, the better. This is particularly true if you can pay off past-due debts before they reach the 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day thresholds. It’s scary to confront the financial challenge, but it’s doable. Once you’ve settled any late payments, make future payments even simpler by automating. Automation avoids accidental missed payments and takes the mental clutter of scheduling multiple payments off your mind.
  4. Building credit builds long-lasting habits Approaching the daunting task of increasing your credit score with the long-term-training mindset helps you build long-lasting habits that strengthen your financial foundation.

Source:  Trulia Blog

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: credit cards, credit score, debt, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Be a Detective: Google the Address When House Hunting

Here are some GREAT tips to get the skinny on houses that have made it to your hot list. Fire up your Google!

Search-engine sleuthing is worth the effort to unearth the niceties — and perhaps negatives — when searching for your new home.

There’s probably not a day that goes by that you don’t Google something — the weather, a foreign phrase, directions, or news, just to name a few. With all the information Google can provide through its bird’s eye view, not Googling your address is practically a crime — especially when you’re searching for a new home (whether you’re house-hunting for a waterfront home in Benicia, or looking for a ranch house in Vacaville). Here’s what you could find.

  1.  Get a sense of the neighborhood using Google’s Street View

    We can’t transport ourselves Star Trek–style to other places … yet, so the next best experience may be Google’s Street View, sort of a pre-virtual-reality experience. Simply type in an address, and if there’s an image of the property in the results, click on it. Other factors to note while on your Google stroll?  Scope out yard size, proximity to neighbors, how many trees are on the property and the privacy provided by them, a view of the front of the home, a view of the neighbors’ homes (such as any nearby eyesores or hoarders), and the size of nearby roads. Don’t forget to use the aerial view while you’re at it, because it might let you know the condition of the roof (but keep in mind the image could be old.)

    A caveat: Google Street View can be outdated, so it’s possible you could be looking at old news. The house you’re interested in might have been newly renovated, but you wouldn’t know that if the remodel happened after Google was there.

    2. Map the proximity of the house to potential health hazards

    The last thing anyone wants is to find out their dream home is located near a former meth lab or directly under a busy flight path. These aren’t just concerns for comfort; in unfortunate (and rare) cases, homes can be health hazards. When house hunting, be sure to search for whether or not that Los Angeles home for sale is in a safe area. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration maintains a database of homes that have been identified as drug labs, and some of these properties require intensive, expensive cleanup before they can be healthfully inhabited. Radon and industrial and airport zones are also pretty easily discoverable with a Google search and, in most states, via disclosures that most sellers will provide. (Some people find living near an airport or other noisy zone impacts their sleep, even if there is no chemical concern.)

    3. Imagine your life in this home and its neighborhood

    One of the deciding factors for saying “yes” to a house is if you can imagine yourself living there. Seeing listing photos and stats can let you know whether the house meets your specifications, but sometimes — especially with a long-distance home search — but to really imagine yourself living in that neighborhood could be difficult. Googling can help).

    Kids can scope out their potential new school and spot signs of other kids living nearby, you might map your drive to the office, learn whether there’s a local farmer’s market nearby, or look to see whether the house is in a danger zone.

    4. Get valuable details about the HOA

    When you buy a home that is part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), you should receive the bylaws in advance of your purchase. But if you dig a little deeper by Googling the association’s name, you could find out that your new HOA is one of a surprisingly large number of HOAs that have been reviewed online. Grab your popcorn, because you’ll most likely find a variety of rants (and raves) about the subdivision, complex managers, neighbors, and amenities.

    5. Scope out the neighborhood’s potential growth

    Will you jump for joy to learn that Whole Foods is coming to town? Or is that just the sort of growth you’re trying to escape? Google your potential new neighborhood’s nearest major street or intersection for permit applications that have been filed recently. You might get lucky. If not, try searching the city or county planning departments. This can help you discover community plans for expansion in that area. Reading the online applications — and any notes from city council meetings discussing the permits — might help you understand the landscape of community-development issues at hand.

What surprising information has Google revealed during your house hunt?

Source: Trulia Blog

 

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, first time buyers, Google, HOA, neighborhood, Privacy, real estate, research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 Genius Storage Ideas You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

Too much stuff and no where to store it?  Read on for ingenious ways to find a nook and cranny for all the items you can’t bear to give up!

Here are some awesome ideas to get you get organized and find a “home” for all of your things.

When your home has a place for everything it is magical. You open up cabinets to neat piles of Tupperware. Your closet is organized with shoes, belts and accessories organized in a way that would give Carried Bradshaw envy. Your garage is neat and each tool is hung with care while your children’s toys are lined up and ready to be used at their convenience.

Let’s be serious, there are very few who can actually say their home has enough space for all of their things. In the battle of you vs square footage, you rarely feel like you come out on top. Here are some awesome ideas to get you get organized and find a “home” for all of your things.

Underneath Steps

Don’t let that space underneath your stairs go to waste. Depending on the size available you may even be able to create a small office like the image in the bottom left.

Images via shelterness, artemendoza and homedit

Inside Cabinet Doors

The inside of cabinet doors are hidden which makes them a perfect place for storage. We especially love the idea for the spices below.

Cabinet Door Storage

Images via iheartorganizing, Houzz, Instructables & thesepreciousdays

Up!

Look up and you will be amazed at all of the places you can find to store things. From the garage ceiling to the space above doors, it is important to use every inch without making a room feel cluttered.

Images via dgdoors, accentondesign, flor & marthastewart

Underneath Your Counters

If you have a smaller kitchen you know what it is like to open up a cabinet and have things fall onto you…it’s miserable. Clear up some space by taking advantage of the area underneath your counters.

Under Counter Storage

Images via thedesignfile, kellysthoughtsonthings, stashvault & kitchenstuffplus

Souce: CB Blue Matter / Lindsay Listanski

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, cabinets, cleaning, interior decorating, living small, maximizing space, organization, projects, small space, steps, storage, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

8 Steps You Need to Know Before Redecorating Your Home

Breaking out the paintbrushes, fabric samples and hitting Home Goods and Pinterest for some good ideas?  Here are some 8 steps you need to know before you get started!

Here’s how to prioritize your game plan for your room makeover.

If you have a DIY decorating project on your horizon but don’t know where to start, here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the process.

1. Commit to a Budget and Timeline

First, figure out your total project budget. If you skip this step, you’ll likely spend much more than you anticipated and make poor purchasing decisions you’ll later regret.

Also pick a date to complete your project by, even if you don’t have a looming reason to do so. Creating a complete-by date will fuel your project so it can take flight. Completing one stage of a project informs the next and the next. Otherwise, approaching your project piecemeal will delay completion, if you even complete it at all.

By Mitchell Parker 

Set up a good system to keep track of your expenditures. I use an Excel spreadsheet, but even a spiral notebook can work for smaller projects. The key is to keep it updated.

Here’s an example of how I keep a running log of project expenses. While the main goal is tracking the total amount spent, I also indicate the store (which I left off here because stores will vary based on your location and preference), method of payment, general description and any notes, such as delivery fees — useful information that may come in handy later.

Keep all of your receipts together in one location. You can refer to them easily for warranty information and returns, if needed. I use a small zip pouch made for holding pens and pencils while I’m out shopping. After I return and enter them into the spreadsheet, I stapled each receipt to a piece of paper and store that neatly in a project folder.

Photo by Dina Holland Interiors 

2. Evaluate Your Needs and Lifestyle

Separating wants and needs is a hard one. Prioritize your needs by first creating a list of the furniture and accessories you envision going into your space. List any work you want to do, like painting or wallpapering, too. Then rate each item 1 through 5, with 1 indicating an absolute must and 5 reflecting a nonnecessity. Reorder the items on the list with the necessities at the top and the more wishful items at the bottom. Involve other family members in this process. They may identify overlooked items.

Also, be honest about your family’s lifestyle requirements today instead of at some far-off idyllic future date. For example, if the kiddos use your family room as a playspace, include toy storage on your list. You may have some child safety needs too. Also note any special concerns about pets, such as shed fur or the potential for furniture to get clawed.

3. Decide What Stays and What Goes

Based on your list, identify any pieces of furniture or accessories that you absolutely want to keep in the space. Remove the pieces you don’t plan to reuse; consider donating them if they’re in good shape or selling them online or through a local consignment store.

4. Draw a Preliminary Furniture Plan

If your project is small, this step may not be necessary. However, if you’re buying new furniture or just considering a new configuration, it’s extremely helpful to try out pieces in different locations to see what fits and what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to end up with a too-big piece of furniture. You’ll need a tape measure or laser measuring tool to measure your space and a scale ruler to draw it to scale. A simple sketch illustrating only the outside dimensions is all that’s necessary.

If you don’t have these items or don’t feel comfortable with drawing to scale, an alternative is to “draw” the outlines of furniture with masking tape on your floor or cut furniture-size shapes out of butcher paper to maneuver around on the floor.

Don’t forget about circulation space. Ideally, you’ll want to keep 18 inches between the edge of the sofa and the coffee table. Maintain 36 inches for comfortable general circulation. Since you may not have found specific furniture pieces yet and don’t have detailed furniture dimensions, you may need to revise the size of some furniture pieces as your project progresses. Nonetheless, this exercise is a good starting point.

Also measure your entrance door and the pathway to the room, including building elevators if you live in a high-rise. Bring these notes with you when shopping. If there are any delivery dimension concerns, you can address them then and there.

Photo by Colordrunk Designs

5. Concentrate on Big Items First

Focus first on the big-impact items, then concentrate on smaller accessories. Too often people get hung up on a small detail that can derail the flow of the bigger items. The idea is to work from large to small.

Find furniture. Unless you’re lucky to find the furniture you want in stock, most furniture takes eight to 12 weeks for fabrication. However, even in-stock furniture may not be delivered right away. If available, get a swatch of the upholstery or finish sample to help with other room selections.

Unless you’re comfortable working with a complex color palette, minimizing your scheme to two colors, as in the space here, will make shopping easier — and your space will look sharp and put-together.

Work the walls. Compared with any other design material, wall paint gives a room the most bang for your buck. I find it easiest to select a wall paint color or wallpaper after the furniture is selected. You have much more leeway with paint color choices than furniture upholstery. Plan to get your space prepped and painted prior to the furniture delivery.

Photo by Sroka Design, Inc. 

Hit the ceiling. Color instead of conventional white on the ceiling is another cost-effective attention-grabber, especially if you have crown molding to separate it from the walls, like in this living room.

6. Move Toward the Mediums

After you’ve figured out your furniture layout and color scheme, focus on finding the midscale items that will pull your space together, such as an area rug. Your scaled drawing will also come in handy to see how prospective rugs will work with your furniture layout.

Photo by Country Curtains

Window treatments like Roman shades and drapery can offer lots of style compared to run-of-the-mill Venetian blinds. They can minimize less-than-perfect windows and help save on energy bills, too. New window treatments don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Ribbon-trimmed cordless shades like the ones shown here here can be ordered online for $100 to $125.

Photo by Meg Adams Interior Design 

A feature light fixture, like the one in this dining room, can become a stunning design focus.

7. Save the Small Stuff for Last

Fill in your scheme with decorative accessories toward the end of your project. You’ll be able to see what areas need attention and have a better sense of scale, especially with artwork. With the furniture in place, you’ll also have easy access to key dimensions, like the clearance between shelves.

I also like to shop for table lamps, particularly lamps that will sit behind a sofa, after the furniture is delivered so I can see how all the heights work or don’t work together. Cord lengths and switch locations are also easier to evaluate when the furniture is in place.

Photo by Larette Design 

8. Leave Room for the Unexpected

You may come across something surprising in your decorating journey that has special meaning or even adds a bit of humor, like these Hulk hand bedpost toppers. Don’t discount originality or quirkiness; it’s what makes your home truly yours.

Source:  CB Blue Matter / RisMedia

Posted on May 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: curb appeal, decorating, DIY, interior decorating, projects, real estate, staging, trends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,