How to Get Wood Flooring on Any Budget

 

Hardwood flooring is often considered a must-have feature by new homeowners or those undertaking a remodeling project. Wood is a natural, renewable resource, plus wood flooring complements all types of home decor, from traditional to contemporary. Hardwood flooring is often considered a must-have feature by new homeowners or those undertaking a remodeling project. Wood is a natural, renewable resource, plus wood flooring complements all types of home decor, from traditional to contemporary. The downside is that wood floors, especially solid wood floors, can be expensive. Some exotic wood species, such as Brazilian walnut, can cost more than $15 per square foot — and that doesn’t include installation labor. However, you can find alternatives that give you the look of real wood at a reduced price — some as low as $2 or $3 per square foot. Here are some of the best budget-friendly hardwood floor choices.

Calculating the Overall Price

The products listed below go from most expensive to least expensive, but there’s a lot of overlap among the categories. For example, some solid wood products are less expensive than some luxury vinyl tiles. Before you make your final decision, factor in the cost of professional installation, which can add as much as $3 to $10 per square foot to the total cost of a flooring project. Some of the items that can drive up installation costs include:

• Removing and disposing of the old flooring
• Repairing the subfloor when necessary
• The size and shape of the room(s)
• Stair installation

If you’re an experienced DIYer, you can save money by installing the floors yourself. Beginners should leave the job to the professionals, though — you may end up making mistakes that are even more expensive to fix.

Solid Wood

This is usually the most expensive option, but there are ways to reduce the cost, especially in the long run. When properly maintained, solid wood flooring will last as long as the house stands. You can freshen up the look at any time by sanding away the old finish and restaining and sealing the floor.

Some wood species are more expensive than others. Fortunately, many of the most common types, such as oak or maple, fall into the low- to mid-range of costs. Solid wood products can come finished or unfinished. If the floor is unfinished, the installer will stain and seal the floor once it is in place, which adds to the installation costs. On the flip side, the prefinished product may cost more up front.

Engineered Wood 

These products are constructed of multiple thin layers of material that are bonded together under pressure. The top layer is made from a familiar wood species — such as oak or maple — and is usually treated with a factory-applied finish that resists dirt and scuff marks. Engineered wood floors are less likely than solid wood to wrap and twist because of moisture and humidity, so they can be installed in basements and bathrooms. Some products feature click-in-place installation — no need for adhesives or fasteners — which is an easier, faster installation method perfect for DIYers. However, a vapor barrier needs to be installed or attached to the flooring.

Bamboo 

Bamboo floors are manufactured to either look like traditional wood flooring or showcase their distinctive grass-like look. Some bamboo products are harder than solid wood flooring. They are strong and long-lasting, but are easy to scratch and are not recommended for areas prone to moisture. Bamboo is a type of grass and grows to maturity much more quickly than trees do, which makes it a sustainable, eco-friendly option. Click-in-place installation is available for some products.

Porcelain Tile 


New porcelain tiles can be made to look like anything, including real wood. Some products are available in planks that have a wood-like texture. Porcelain tiles are an inexpensive, easy way to achieve a “reclaimed” wood look — many tiles mimic the texture and color variation of aged planks. As with regular tiles, they are durable and can be used in wet areas, including bathrooms. They are also stain-resistant and much easier to clean than real wood — spills wipe up quickly, and using just water and a mild soap makes them shine. Porcelain tiles must be installed using mortar and grout.

Luxury Vinyl Tile 


As with porcelain tiles, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) can look like wood and come in traditional-style planks. LVTs are thicker and more durable than standard vinyl. They are usually waterproof, are easier to clean than true hardwoods, and can be installed in any room in the house. To prolong their durability, many LVTs are treated to resist color fading and scratches.

Laminate 

Laminate floors are composed of a high-density hardboard core protected by a melamine layer that can be made to look like anything — including real wood. The top layer protects against dirt and scuff marks, but the material should not be installed in rooms that are exposed to moisture. Click-in-place installation is available.

Hardwood flooring is a classic, timeless look that fits a wide range of design options. Thanks to today’s selection of flooring products, it’s easy to get a wood look at a lower cost. When making your final decision, be sure to include both the material costs and the installation costs. That way, you’ll get the look you want at a budget-friendly price.

 

DIY author Fran Donegan has written several books, including Paint Your Home. He also writes for The Home Depot about homeownership and projects that add value to your house. To see a selection of hardwood flooring options like those described by Fran in this article, please click here.

This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on April 2, 2018 at 8:23 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: flooring | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Buying a House as a Police Officer, Firefighter, or EMT

Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and teachers give so much to our country. They selflessly put their lives on the line to protect us, take care of our children, and help us accomplish our dreams. So it’s only right that they have the same opportunity to achieve their own American dream of buying a home.

Unfortunately, even though these public servants are working tirelessly in essential roles, they often have a difficult time purchasing property. Too often, it’s just out of reach financially.

The good news is that thanks to a range of public and governmental programs, these public servants have more opportunities than ever to buy a house at affordable rates and through a simplified process. There are options for tax breaks, down payment help, subsidized mortgage interest, and reduced closing costs. It’s all about making homes for heroes a realistic venture. Let’s talk about what’s available!

Mortgage Loan Assistance

There are many different private home loans for teachers, health care professionals, and rescue workers, and law enforcement personnel. These loans typically offer the lowest mortgage rates possible—though it’s still important to shop lenders to find the best deal.

One such program is Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Program, which offers first responder home loans that finance up to 100% of the purchase price. There are also similar programs offered through Fannie Mae and many other private banks. We recommend checking with lenders in your area.

You should also check with your state and/or city to see if there are similar programs. For example:

  • New Jersey offers first responders a discounted mortgage rate that can be up to a full percentage point less than the market rate
  • Alaska has a program for health care and school workers that finances 100% of a home’s purchase price and includes subsidized interest rates

Mortgage Credit

Beyond lower interest rates and financing 100% of your home, the IRS offers Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) to help make homes for heroes easier to purchase. This credit differs from state to state but can enable teachers, police, firefighters, and EMTs to buy a more expensive house with the same income.

How does it work?

An MCC allows you to deduct your mortgage interest and gives you credit against tax liabilities. This means that your lender will subtract the credit from your house payment when calculating your debt-to-income ratio so that you can get a larger loan.

For example, let’s say you get a 20% MCC and you paid $15k in interest over the last year. That’s a credit of $3k per year, or $250 per month. That means that you can afford a home loan that’s $250 per month more expensive than otherwise.

Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program

Thanks to the Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program, there are home loans for teachers, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers only. What does this program include specifically?

  • $0 in application fees and up-front pre-approval
  • Low down payment options and down payment assistance
  • Closing costs grants
  • Home loan assistance

This program was designed to increase home ownership for specific public servants and to streamline the home buying process. As for the grants for police officers to buy homes and others, they do not have to be repaid and are subject to availability.

HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Finally, there’s the Good Neighbor Next Door program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This program provides full-time firefighters, law enforcement professionals, teachers, and EMTs homes at 50% of their value. That means you pay monthly mortgage payments on just $150,000 for a $300,000 house ($850 versus $1600 per month).

How does it work?

  • Buyers have to be willing to live in the property for at least three years
  • The property must be located in a HUD designated area, which refers to a Revitalization Area as determined by home ownership rates, average household income, and FHA foreclosure activity

To learn about additional assistance programs for public servants, contact Coldwell Banker today. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect home for you.

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Making the Most of a Winter Farmer’s Market

Winter’s chill is in the air and spring is still several weeks away, but there’s plenty to do in your hometown during the colder months including checking out a winter farmer’s market.

Traditional farmer’s markets usually run from early spring to late fall, but there’s a growing trend popping up in cities across the country: the winter farmer’s market.

Typically your local winter farmer’s market is held indoors, which means no matter the weather, you can still shop in comfort for your favorite offerings of the earth’s bounty.

Want to make the most of your next visit to a winter farmer’s market? Here’s what you need to know:

Manage Your Expectations

When strolling around your favorite farmer’s market during warmer months, you’re likely to find all sorts of bright, juicy fruits and beautiful growing plants. The purpose of a farmer’s market is to help connect local farmers and producers with the community, as a source of great seasonal offerings.

Your winter farmer’s market likely won’t have the same options as the markets held in spring and summer. This is mainly because those fruits and vegetables aren’t being grown or harvested during colder months.

Depending on the size of your market and where you live, it might not be possible to do all your grocery shopping at your neighborhood winter farmer’s market, but you should be able to check several items off your shopping list.

Think Outside the Box

Winter farmer’s markets are a great opportunity think outside the box, with regard to the produce you buy. There you may come across different varieties of your favorite fruits and vegetables, or different options altogether.

Take this as a chance to try something new! Never cooked with baby bok choy or purple potatoes? These are some delicious choices, and likely to be spotted at a winter farmer’s market.

And make sure you talk to the farmers or sellers about their wares. They are likely to be a wealth of free information for you. For example, if you usually cook with cilantro in the spring and summer, ask the farmer to recommend another herb you might try when it isn’t available.

Ask the farmer if he or she has a favorite way of preparing the veggies or a tip for making fruit last longer. This is your chance to talk directly with the expert about his or her produce.

Stock Up on Essentials

Whether you are a dedicated home cook or someone who just enjoys trying a new recipe every now and again, there are certain essentials that a well-stocked kitchen must have.

Often a winter farmer’s market is a great place to find things like local honey, spices and jams or preserves. It never hurts to have these pantry staples on hand. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing you are supporting the livelihood of local growers and producers.

Since these types of items are usually canned or dried, they have a longer shelf-life and will serve to be very useful for all your culinary creations until spring arrives.

You might also see cut flowers or winter plants. Depending on the type, winter is often a good time for planting. Some farmers also sell or swap their seeds, especially heirloom varieties, so make the most of this opportunity to stock up for your spring and summer garden.

Give the Gift of Local Made with Love

Winter farmer’s markets are often more than just farm fresh produce and things grown in the ground. There will likely be offerings and wares for sale by local artisans and makers.

From handcrafted jewelry and pottery to unique and one-of-a-kind art or woodworking, these selections make wonderful gifts for friends. Other items you might find include essential oils, handmade soaps and lotions, and natural cosmetics. Sellers will often allow you to sample their wares in order to see what you might like.

These are just a few ways you can enjoy a winter farmer’s market in your neighborhood. Before too long, spring will arrive with all its blooming beauty. But until then, it’s nice to know there are still some fun things to do to make the most of winter.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 13, 2018 at 9:52 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Farmers Market | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Blue is Winning

 

What color are first place ribbons? That’s right — they’re blue. That means blue is the official color of winning, and it also happens to be the official color of Coldwell Banker, the real estate brand who is #1 in dollar sales volume. Coincidence? We think not.

Ready to perform like a champion? Visit coldwellbanker.com/careers and see what it feels like to be on the winning team.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on January 31, 2018 at 8:25 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Coldwell Banker | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Turn Them Blue

Many companies have already incorporated smart home tech into their daily business. Some have installed smart locks, lights or thermostats in the office. Many have encouraged agents to take the Coldwell Banker Smart Home course. The first-and-only course of its kind created for real estate agents. Companies have also encouraged agents to talk about the benefits of smart home tech in listing presentations.

Have you considered how you can use the brand’s leadership in the Smart Home space as a way to set your company apart and attract new agents to your office?  

Even for agents who haven’t yet had a transaction that included smart home tech in one way or another, chances are good that they will in 2018. Most aren’t going to be prepared. And many may not even know where to go to find information on how smart home can or should fit into their business.

January is Smart Home Month here at Coldwell Banker. We are kicking the month off with our sponsorship of the Smart Home Marketplace at CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas! We will have agents from around the country creating content specifically to help other agents understand how to use Smart Home in their own business. This is a great opportunity for you to reach out to the agents in your market, offer them information and demonstrate the value you can add to their business. Here are a few questions to start with:

  • Have you considered how to talk about smart home tech during a listing presentation?
  • Do you know what you would say if a client asked you about the value of smart home tech during a purchase or sale?
  • Have you thought about using smart home as a reason to get in front of your sphere and network in the new year?

Every day in January we will be adding new tips, tricks and best practices for incorporating smart home tech into a real estate business, along with new product spotlights. All of this content can be found at ces.coldwellbanker.com. That means every day there is a new reason to talk to your list of prospects.

Showing agents the power and importance of this technology in the sale of a home, is yet another way you can bring value to agents in your office and attract those not yet affiliated. Leverage the leadership of Coldwell Banker in this area to deliver a clear edge for agents by sharing insights into state-of-the-art smart home technologies and how to leverage them to dominate the marketplace.

From content to conferences, Coldwell Banker is collecting and delivering leading edge insights during Smart Home Month to help you understand how the smart home boom impacts real estate:

  • CES: Catch Coldwell Banker on the floor of CES, Jan. 9-12 as the exclusive sponsor of the Smart Home Marketplace, which has grown every year since we began our sponsorship in 2016. It’s now over 114,000 square feet.
  • Consumer Survey: Find out how consumers view smart home tech, what they expect agents to know about it and how they react to VR. Spoiler alert – they love it!
  • Inman Connect New York: Coldwell Banker sponsors ICNY, Jan. 22-26, and hosts an exclusive lunch and learn on Jan. 23 where participants get the inside track on how to use smart home to market themselves and their listings.
  • Daily Content: Get an agent’s perspective on how smart home tech can benefit your real estate business with video and blog posts straight from the CES show floor.
  • Case Studies: Two case studies – one from T3 Sixty and one from Samsung – will explore how agents can be the early adopters of smart home in their market and how VR can truly set a listing apart.

If you’re already affiliated with Coldwell Banker and want to learn more about our Smart Home initiative, visit CB Exchange and search “Smart Home.”

If you would like to know what Coldwell Banker agents have access to, head to coldwellbanker.com/join and explore the possibilities of moving your business to Coldwell Banker.

Posted on January 8, 2018 at 9:20 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Alexa, gadgets, real estate, Smart Homes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The 2018 Home Upgrades for New Homeowners

The best way to personalize your space and give it a fresh, polished vibe is to make upgrades—big or small—that let your personality shine. Whether you’re ready to undertake a major remodeling project or only have the budget for a few modern touches, these DIY renovation ideas are a great place to start.

Welcome 2018 with an updated home that’s perfect for new beginnings and a lifetime of memories.

Make Your Kitchen Colorful

Gone is the popularity of a white, monochromatic kitchen. More homeowners are embracing bold accent colors on their countertops, backsplashes and cabinets, from vivid yellow and burnt orange to chic turquoise and dignified navy.

Another popular trend is juxtaposing the stainless steel appliances with warm, vibrant hues that make a space more inviting, while keeping that sleek look.

  • Small budget: When repainting, choose a two-toned base. For example, “dark colors offset with lighter or brighter colors…offer visually entertaining and appealing levels of contrast,” advise the contemporary design experts at Interior Zine.
  • Big budget: Replace all appliances with stainless steel; then do the painting.

Upgrade Your Storage Space

Finding enough room to store seasonal decorations, filing papers, hardware tools, keepsake items, cleaning products and office supplies is a common struggle of homeownership. Luckily, there are a number of creative and resourceful hacks for increasing the amount of storage without reconfiguring your entire space.

  • Small budget: You don’t have to find room in your home for more storage—head to the garage first. Take advantage of the walls by hanging DIY peg boards and adjustable wall panels: “With the help of hooks, you have the freedom of hanging your things anywhere and any way you want: in the center, horizontally, vertically, at the bottom, or top,” suggest garage experts. As you tackle inside storage, refer to 8 Space Savers for a Small Bedroom for inspiration.
  • Big budget: Invest in new furniture pieces that double as decorative and functional, like an old chest that you can keep in the living room or a coffee table with a storage space below.

Give Your Walls More Texture

Textured walls is a fun way to infuse character into any room, whether you’re into exposed brick, wooden shiplap, geometric molding or smooth tile. Walls are a blank canvas for experimentation, so harness your inner designer and play around with different materials or wallpapers that mimic the feel of those materials.

Note that you can combine more than one texture in the same room to create a particularly unique and artistic ambiance. For instance, a “grungy” or “rustic” wall could be adjacent to a “wavy design on the accent wall,” says Kareen Liez, civil engineer and architecture enthusiast.

  • Small budget: If you have unfinished drywall, use this to your advantage, with these ideas from Vintage Revivals or this idea from The Creativity in the Chaos.
  • Big budget: Go in all the way with high quality wall paper that creates texture with patterns or invest in the laundry list of materials needed to create your own exposed brick wall, for example. If your budget is flexible, there are many ways to tackle this project.

Re-Do the Garage Flooring

The garage has become an extension of a home’s living space that should be both aesthetic and functional. To take your garage to the next level, and turn it into a space you actually enjoy being in, start with the boring concrete floor—replace it with an epoxy coating.

This material is “noted for its durability and longevity,” according to flooring professionals at Kwekel Epoxy Floors. They explain: “With epoxy, you’ll enjoy protection against [mold] growth, as it offers a protective layer against moisture damage.” Not to mention, epoxy is also stain resistant and the surface repels chemicals, so if something spills, it won’t seep into your concrete.

  • Small budget: Take the DIY route and lay the epoxy flooring yourself. Use this tutorial from Family Handy Man to navigate through the process.
  • Big budget: Hire an epoxy company to handle the work, which can be done in one weekend.

Make the Space Your Own

A house is an expression of the people who live inside, so give your new home a splash of personality in the New Year. You’ll fee great about the space and excited to show it off to your friends and family.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on January 2, 2018 at 11:06 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: construction, Fixer Uppers, interior decorating, real estate, upgrades | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Coldwell Banker is Home To: Just One More

One more phone call. One extra mile. One more opportunity to lend a helping hand. Here is the story of a Coldwell Banker Brand Ambassador who always makes time for “just one more”.

Coldwell Banker Brand Ambassador Joycelyn Jaggers has a motto, and it is her North Star. You see, each day she wakes up with the goal of making a positive impact on the businesses of the brokers and agents she serves.

“If I take the time to do one more thing. I might be able to turn someone’s day around”, she says. Joycelyn does make a positive impact, and on more than just her book of business.

The latest installment of our “Coldwell Banker is Home To” video series highlights this exceptionally dedicated and talented professional who embodies the work ethic and commitment to service that makes Coldwell Banker a special place to hang your hat – and the world a much better place.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Posted on December 22, 2017 at 8:42 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: market trends, media, real estate, Real Estate Agent | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling, working with a real estate agent is an essential part of the process. But before choosing an agent to work with, there are a few key questions to ask to determine if their expertise & marketing tactics are right for you — and your home.

So, how do you know if when you’ve found “the one?” Consider asking these questions that cover everything from an agent’s experience to marketing plans, track records of success and staging tips. Armed with these answers, you can be confident that you’re choosing a real estate professional that fits your needs.

In this episode of NBC Open House, Tim Murray of Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber & Wendy Walker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage share their must-asks.

To find the right agent for you, visit coldwellbanker.com.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on December 20, 2017 at 9:24 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: first time buyers, real estate, Real Estate Agent, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Secrets to Selling: Tips from Real Estate Insiders

Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals weigh in on what you need to know when navigating the real estate process.

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. And if you’re selling for the first time, there’s so much you need to know, it can often be overwhelming.  To uncover some of the insider secrets, we turned to Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals to weigh in on what you need to know, whether you need help selecting the right real estate agent, or are looking for tips on how to market your property.
In this recent episode of NBC Open House, Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals Dave Bunker with Coldwell Banker Howard Perry & Walston in Cary, NC and Angel Piontek with Coldwell Banker Elite in Fredricksburg, VA share their best tips for navigating the real estate process.
To find a real estate professional in your area, visit coldwellbanker.com.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Posted on November 21, 2017 at 9:31 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Bidding, Bidding War, Homeowners, real estate, Sellers Market, selling, staging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Avoid the Top 5 Home Seller Mistakes

When you are selling your home, it can be easy to be in a vacuum. You have a certain idea of what the market should pay for your home and what may or may not be an issue. After all, you are king of your castle, right? Your home has x, y and z . The location can’t be beat. It’s just around the corner from (insert fabulous restaurant, park, coffee shop, school, etc. here).

However, when buyers and agents are coming through your home, it can be where distorted perception meets reality. Here are the top mistakes sellers make and how to avoid them.

1. Overpricing Your Home

If your home is overpriced, two things won’t happen: showings or offers. The price is what sets the tone for showings. It is the nonverbal message that either invites or discourages activity. If it is too high, buyers that can afford it may be interested in something else, as they can go higher in price range, and the audience for whom it was intended price-wise are usually shut out. To avoid frustration over offers much lower than your set price, have an open discussion with your real estate agent to set the right price for your home.

2. Making Showings Difficult

Restricted showing times, no lockbox or having to be present for all showings can impact the ability of showing traffic through your home. If there are umpteen instructions or restrictions, agents and their buyers will simply move on to those properties with less rules. Work with your real estate agent to find a way to make showings convenient for both you as the seller as well as potential buyers.

3. Not Countering an Offer

While everyone would love to get the most for their home, a seller also needs to keep a realistic balance. It is too easy to get hung up on the starting number in an offer when the focus should be on what the end result is. The opening offer is simply that –a starting point. It gets a conversation going and results in hopefully a happy medium that is amenable to the buyer and seller. Not countering an offer is like having a one way conversation. It won’t work. How can you move to sold if you can’t have a dialogue of back and forth? It doesn’t mean that the buyers aren’t serious, they are simply being conservative in their first offer to get a feel for how the negotiation is going to go. It doesn’t mean that is the most they are willing to pay unless the offer was positioned that way. Failure to counter sends a discouraging signal to the buyer that can create an uncomfortable situation, perceived or real. Buyers want to do business with sellers who are eager to do business with them. You don’t have to give away the store to do so, but certainly responding with a number in good faith is a step in the right direction.

4. Property Condition Denial

Would you as a buyer pay top dollar for a home with original systems approaching the end of their life? In today’s real estate climate, buyers, lenders, appraisers and inspectors are more scrutinous than ever. It is not only the buyer, but the lender, appraiser and the buyer’s insurance company that could be making the call on a home’s condition. Before you sell, be realistic about the condition of your home. Unless the home is deeply discounted below market value, which realistically means it would be far too low pricewise that you would agree to accept, the buyer will care about it and if they don’t, their home inspector certainly will!

5. Selective Memory

Sellers often fear that if they disclose too much or provide too many details, that it could affect their ability to sell for top dollar; however, failure to disclose could open you up to liability after the sale. Leaving questions blank, or not being clear on the age of certain things only creates more red flags and concern for a potential buyer. If you answer the questions honestly and fully disclose any known issues or repairs that were made (with receipts to document and provide a history) it will eliminate buyer fear and doubt.

For more seller resources, or to find a real estate professional in your area, visit coldwellbanker.com.

Source: CB Blue Matter blog

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 8:36 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, buying, curb appeal, Homeowners, Multiple offers, open houses, real estate, Sellers Market, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,