Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 30

Embarrassed by Your Kitchen? Try These Cheap, Fast Fixes

by Amy McLeod Group

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and nothing can bring you down—except, of course, a kitchen that's too small, too dated, too messy, or otherwise not fit to be seen by others (or on Instagram).

If your lackluster kitchen has you reluctant to host holiday festivities in your home, you're not alone. Home shame is real, and according to one survey of 1,000 homeowners, 61% of adults in the United States have admitted to not inviting guests into their home because they're embarrassed of what lies inside.

But you don't have to sit out from the hosting rotation this holiday season. We asked the experts for quick and easy solutions to your biggest kitchen problems, and their answers will have you sending out invites in no time.

Scuffed counters

Your kitchen counters are going to get a lot of attention during your holiday gathering—after all, that's where you're going to lay out that delicious spread, right? So what are you to do if yours are scratched, scuffed, or bear the marks of a few unfortunately hot pots and pans?

Interior designer Mikel Welch, of HGTV's "Design Star" and TLC's "Trading Spaces," says the fix is easier than you might think—and it doesn't involve installing new counters.

"As an on-camera designer, I often have to mask and camouflage things to look 'camera ready,'" says Welch. "You can do the same thing in your kitchen by creating a vignette of holiday decor nestled right over the top of any countertop imperfections."

Dated cabinets

Your cabinets may be straight out of the 1960s, but it's not the end of the world. Your best option, according to Sherwin-Williams director of product information Rick Watson, is to paint your cabinets.

"Paint is a great, affordable way to refresh old cabinets," he says. "It helps to cover up imperfections and stains, and you can choose from thousands of colors. However, if you want a professional, lasting finish, it requires a lot of prep work."

If you don't have time to remove cabinet doors, sand, and paint, you're not out of options.

"For a simpler update, adding new cabinet hardware can help bring them back to life," says Build.com's in-house interior designer, Lauren O’Donnell, from Chico, CA. "I often see cabinets without hardware, and I always see that as a easy opportunity to add a little flair."

Botched backsplash

A backsplash is supposed to catch the eye, but what if yours draws the eye right to a mislaid or missing tile?

"Counter backsplash can make or break a kitchen," Welch says. "Try a peel-and-stick backsplash applied directly over your botched backsplash job. There’s no grout, spaces or level needed."

For an even simpler solution, designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates in Northport, NY, says you can always just hide those embarrassing spots on your backsplash.

"My favorite trick is to put out a decorative item or a small appliance to block the offending area," she says.

Mismatched appliances

It's not often that all your appliances stop working all at the same time, so there's a good chance the ones in your kitchen don't exactly match. If they're really different—completely different colors, for example—Welch says there's no need to purchase new ones just to make them harmonize.

"You can easily fix this problem with stainless steel contact paper that can be cut and affixed to your appliances in a jiffy," says Welch. "Within two hours, all of your family hand-me-down appliances will look like they just rolled in off a delivery truck."

Worn or cracked vinyl flooring

Redoing floors is a major expense, especially with the holidays right around the corner. But even if your floors leave a lot to be desired, you don't have to rush into a major construction job.

"If your vinyl floors are cracking, chances are the flooring is old. Which probably means the pattern is dated as well. Give new life to your floor by covering it up with peel-and-stick wood-plank vinyl floors," suggests Welch.

Lack of counter space

For some homeowners, the scariest part of holiday hosting is trying to find a place to set out all the food. Designer Leslie Saul, president of Leslie Saul & Associates, says this problem can be solved with a quick online shopping spree.

"Wayfair has many rolling islands that add counter space and can store things that you used to keep on the counter," she says, adding that this one purchase extends your counter space in two ways—by adding more surface area, and by giving you a place to store some of the clutter on your existing counters.

Scratched-up sink

White kitchen sinks are gorgeous—at least, until you use them a few times. After you've washed a few loads of dishes, they start to look scratched, stained, and a lot less attractive. But they don't have to stay that way.

"If sink stains and scratches are a problem, then you need to head down to your local hardware store and pay the paint aisle a visit," says Welch. "There are several easy to apply tub paints and tile refinishing kits that will have your sink Martha Stewart-ready in a quick weekend."

Lauren McKinney, director of marketing at Judd Builders in Asheville, NC, had an even easier solution. "Buy stainless steel grids to hide scratches and stains, if they're only on the bottom of the sink," she suggests.

Scratched table

The last thing you want to do is have friends and family sit around a scratched-up old table for the big meal. DIY expert and blogger at Heathered NestHeather Thibodeau, has a simple solution you might not have thought of.

"Grab some crayons! Yep. Crayons work great in a pinch for covering scuffs, chips and dings in furniture," she says.

If you're not comfortable turning your table into a coloring project, McKinney suggests adding a tablecloth—it's a perfect opportunity to both hide the imperfections and add a touch of holiday cheer.

Let the McLeod Group Network help you find a home with the kitchen of your dreams! Contact us today - 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Whitney Coy

6 Changes to Make After a Move to Start Off on the Right Foot

by Amy McLeod Group

You're moving! And along with a new address, you get to enjoy a fresh start at life. OK, maybe you can't easily erase everything from your past—nor would you want to—but it is a good opportunity to break old habits that weren't helping, or were costing you money without much payback, or were causing more headaches than they solved.

For instance: If you usually have a landline phone, consider cutting the cord and going cellular. Or since you're changing your mailing address, sign up for paperless delivery of your important bills. Here are six other ways to change up your home life and daily routine for the better.

1. This time, actually unpack all those boxes

When people move, they eventually get tired of unpacking after a few weeks (and who can blame them?). And once you've unpacked the essentials, it's easy to take a break from unpacking—never to go back.

"Whether it's four more boxes or 14 more, you don't want them sitting in that same spot until your next move," says Kelly Tenny, content and social media manager for Zippboxx.com, a moving and on-demand storage company. So after you've moved households, make a realistic goal of when you'd like to have everything unpacked—and stick to it!

2. Purge unused subscriptions and other auto-renewal fees

"When you move, it's a good idea to look at all the deductions from your bank account," says agent Katie Messenger of Keller Williams Louisville East.

Services with auto-renewals you simply forgot to cancel—like that streaming channel that you subscribed to for just one show, or a magazine that goes straight to the recycling bin—can add up to a lot being deducted from your bank account.

"When my wife and I moved, we went through our budget line by line," says Mark Aselstine, founder of Uncorked Ventures. "We found subscriptions and subscription boxes—admittedly mostly for the kids—were starting to pile up unused."

Aselstine canceled the subscriptions his family no longer used and kept track of their savings.

3. Cut the cord—or consolidate streaming services

"When my wife and I looked into cable TV plans in the area we were moving to, we were met with plans that totaled $130 per month," says Aselstine. He realized the pared-down local internet service provider cost only $35 a month; that, combined with Netflix for $10 and other cheap add-ons, could meet most of his TV needs for much less.

Already subscribed to streaming services? Make sure you use them all; if not, it's time to pare down, or go back to good ol' public TV! That's what photographer S.J. Brown did when she moved into a house that had an antenna.

"For the price of one month's cable, I had it reconnected and am now enjoying free television," Brown says.

4. Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs and dimmers

You'll be handling all of your lamps when you move, so why not make the swap to energy-saving LED lightbulbs? These lightbulbs can help the typical home save about $1,000 over 10 years. And while dimmers are best known for their ability to improve a room's ambiance, these devices also reduce energy consumption and cut costs on your power bill, leaving more money in your wallet.

5. Resolve to keep records of all of your home improvements

Even though you just moved, you never know where life is going to take you. A surprise job offer may have you selling your new house sooner than expected.

"Having a record of when you fixed something at a glance is hugely helpful," says Messenger.

If you bought your current digs, those records will also help with capital gains. And from a budgeting perspective, you'll know when the last time major systems such as the furnace, air conditioning, or roof were maintained, so you can budget for future upkeep.

6. Start a new cleaning ritual

"If you've been in a house for years, chances are you learned to live with some deferred maintenance–type things," says Messenger. When she moved, Messenger made it her mission to always keep her house tidy in case someone stopped by for a surprise visit.

"It's challenging with pets, but I feel much more pride in my new home knowing I'm taking care of it," she says.

Another bonus? Messenger found doing a few small things daily meant her free time wasn't spent on massive cleanup days.

Are you searching for your new home? Let's the experts on The McLeod Group Network help you find it! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Margaret Heidenry, Realtor.com

The famous quote by Walt Whitman, “A man is not a whole and complete man, unless he owns a house and the ground it stands on,” can be used to describe homeownership in America today. The Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in America has been steadily climbing back up since hitting a 50-year low in 2016. The homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2018 was 64.2%, higher than last year’s 63.6%.

Chief Economist, Dr. Ralph McLaughlin, in his VUE Blog gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The trend is clear: the homeownership rate has been ticking up for five consecutive quarters, and the number of new renter households has fallen for four consecutive quarters. Owner-occupied households grew by 1.345 million from a year ago, while the number of renters actually fell by 286,000 households.

The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households increased while renter households fell is a strong sign households are making a switch from renting to buying. This is a trend that multifamily builders, investors, and landlords should take note of.”

In a separate article comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, Realtor.com also concluded that the gap is now shrinking:

“The U.S. added 1.3 million owner households over the last year and lost 286,000 renter households, the fourth consecutive quarter in which the number of renter households declined from the same quarter a year earlier. That could pose challenges for apartment landlords, who are bracing this year for one of the largest infusions of new rental supply in three decades.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a survey conducted by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is, and always will be a crucial part of the American Dream.

Contact The McLeod Group Network today to find your dream home! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: KCM Crew

NOT Owning Your Home Can Cost You a Lot of Money!

by Amy McLeod Group

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Realtor.com recently reported that:

Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option… as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. In a previous blog we highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2018 could build more than $44,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.

Let’s make your dreams of homeownership a reality! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: KCM Crew

Whether You Rent or Buy, Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage!

by Amy McLeod Group

There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize, however, that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage as opposed to paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.22% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

Contact The McLeod Group Network today to discuss your options!  971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: KCM Crew

Types of Kitchen Countertops: Which One's Best for You?

by Amy McLeod Group

There are many types of kitchen countertops, and each has its particular pros and cons, including the price. Since this surface can have such a big impact on how a kitchen looks, you might be wondering: What's the best kitchen countertop for your home?

That depends, of course, on your sense of style and your cooking proclivities. So whether you're looking to renovate your kitchen or are shopping for homes and wondering whether you'll love or hate the counters you see , here's a guide to the various types of kitchen countertops and how to figure out which one's right for you.

Granite countertops

Price: $60 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Granite countertops are one of the most popular kitchen features, and they often make top 10 lists of desirable features among builders surveyed by the National Home Builders Association.

Made from a naturally occurring composite of quartz, mica, and feldspar, each granite countertop is unique with its materials coming straight from nature. Another bonus? These countertops are hard and resistant to scratches.

Cons: Granite countertops are expensive relative to other options—and if you have funky colors in mind, forget granite, since it comes only in natural colors. Like other natural stones, these counters need to be treated with a stone sealer on a regular basis. It's also difficult to repair a chip to a granite countertop, so homeowners should be careful not to drop anything heavy on these counters.

Laminate countertops

Price: $10 to $40 per square foot

Pros: Laminate countertops are sometimes called Formica, which is technically a brand name for a combination of paper and resin that's bonded together with high heat and pressure. They're a lot cheaper than their stone counterparts, and you can find a variety of designs that mimic a wood look or the design of more expensive stone.

Cons: Because they're inexpensive, you get what you pay for. Easily scratched and chipped, laminate countertops do not stand the test of time.

Corian countertops

Price: $40 to $65 per square foot

Pros: Corian countertops (another brand name, this time from DuPont) are a fusion of acrylics and polyesters. Made in a variety of colors but crafted to look like natural stone, Corian countertops are nonporous and easy to clean.

Cons: Corian can scratch more easily than stone and is also less resistant to heat. Leaving a hot pot on the counter can cause it to warp.

Marble countertops

Price: $100 to $150 per square foot

Pros: Pulled right out of the ground, marble makes for a gleaming surface and adds polish to your home. These countertops go well with almost any decor.

Cons: Because marble is porous, these countertops are considered "high maintenance," requiring sealing every few years. They likewise chip and stain easily. Even a few drops of wine or other acidic liquid can etch the surface, while a bracelet or belt can scratch the marble's beautiful finish.

Butcher block countertops

Price: $45 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Butcher block countertops are another name for thick, fancy wood. If you're looking to green your living space, using a renewable resource for your counters may be a hit. Wood is sustainable, and it offers a rustic, homey feel.

Cons: Wood requires high maintenance. If these countertops are not resealed regularly (about every six months), mold and bacteria can take over, and the countertop will need to be replaced. The necessary upkeep often lowers the resale value on this type of counter, as buyers can be turned off by the hard work they see ahead.

Quartz countertops

Price: $75 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Don't let the name fool you. Although quartz is one of the most commonly found minerals, quartz countertops are not mined from the earth. Instead, these countertops are "engineered stone," meaning they're created in a factory. This creates a countertop that has the advantage of being hardy but also requires less maintenance than natural stone. The surface is nonporous, making it stain-resistant, and most spills can be cleaned with mild dish soap and water.

Quartz countertops (which may be known by brand names such as Caesarstone) are known for having excellent resale value when you're looking to sell your home, says Abigail Guignard, owner of Neoesque Designs of New York, NY.

Cons: If you have a habit of putting your hot pots directly on your countertops, beware, since this can cause permanent discoloration. Quartz is resistant to chips and scratches, but if they do happen, you will likely need to call in a professional to fix them, as special tools are required.

Soapstone countertops

Price: $50 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Soapstone countertops are made from a gray or black stone that has a white-veined look and a soft, "soapy" feel (hence the name). Popular with professional chefs, they add a warm, homey feel to a kitchen and are perfect for a rustic design but translate just as easily into a modern or contemporary space.

Cons: Because the stone they're made from is soft, soapstone countertops are even easier to chip than hardier granite or quartz.

Concrete countertops

Price: $65 to $130 per square foot

Pros: Yes, concrete countertops are all the rage, thanks in part to "Fixer Upper" star Joanna Gaines. Since these countertops are custom-poured, homeowners can add everything from unique stones to embedded glass or tile, incorporating a piece of themselves into their kitchen design. Sturdy and resistant to chipping and scratching, concrete countertops do crack, but the cracks are easy to fix precisely because more concrete can be mixed up and poured in.

Cons: Concrete has to cure, which means you'll have to wait a while before you can use your counters. If you want something that can be installed in a day, steer clear! Concrete is also porous, which means these counters can stain easily and require regular resealing.

Stainless-steel countertops

Price: $65 to $95 per square foot

Pros: Although they're more commonly spotted in commercial kitchens, stainless-steel countertops can easily be incorporated into your home. They offer up a surface that's extremely durable and very easy to clean—exactly the reasons they're popular in pro kitchens.

Cons: Because stainless steel is uncommon in residential kitchens, you may take a hit on the resale value, Guignard warns, as it may not be something your buyers like. These counters also tend to be cold to the touch, which may detract from the ambiance of a warm, homey kitchen.

Contact your local experts at The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By and photo credits: Realtor.com

Buying A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In 54% Of US Counties

by Amy McLeod Group

According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2018 Rental Affordability Report, “buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 240 of 447 [or 54% of] U.S. counties analyzed for the report.”

For the report, ATTOM Data Solutions compared recently released fair market rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with reported income amounts from the Department of Labor and Statistics to determine the percentage of income that a family would have to spend on their monthly housing cost (rent or mortgage payments).

Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of ATTOM Data Solutions had this to say:

“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, the majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas.”

However, the report also shows that the average fair market rent rose faster than average weekly wages in 60% of the counties analyzed in the report (266 of 447 counties). With rents rising, many renters should consider buying a home soon.

Bottom Line

Rents will continue to rise, and mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows. Before you sign or renew your next lease, let’s get together to help you determine if you are able to buy a home of your own and lock in your monthly housing expense. 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: KCM Crew

The Benefits of Homeownership Go Beyond the Financial

by Amy McLeod Group

Homeownership is a major part of the American Dream. As evidence of that, 91% of Americans believe that owning a home is either essential (43%) or important (48%) to achieving that “dream.” In a market where some people may be unsure about the benefits and possibilities of buying a home, it is important that we remember this.

Homeownership is NOT just about the money. In fact, some of the major benefits are non-financial. Here are a few of those benefits as per the National Association of Realtors:

  • Consistent findings show that homeownership does make a significant positive impact on educational achievement.
  • Several researchers have found that homeowners tend to be more involved in their communities than renters.
  • Early studies of homeownership and health outcomes found that homeowners and children of homeowners are generally happier and healthier than non-owners, even after controlling for factors such as income and education levels that are also associated with positive health outcomes and positively correlated with homeownership.

Bottom Line

Homeownership means something more to people and their families than just the financial considerations.

Let The McLeod Group Network help you achieve your dream of homeownership. 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: KCM Crew

Ah, January. The time of new beginnings, new resolutions, and, in most of the country, a seemingly endless stretch of cold and gloom. We get it: You just want to hibernate, catch up on "The Crown," and scroll Instagram. But before you take up permanent residence on the couch (or treadmill, if you're on that kick), take heed: This is the absolute worst time to have a major home maintenance problem.

"Catastrophic issues tend to happen in the winter—and when those occur, nine times out of 10 it's due to failing to plan," says Janet O'Dea, owner of Powers Plumbing in San Diego. "Taking some time to anticipate and be ahead of maintenance issues throughout the year takes a lot of pressure off."

 

 
 

We couldn't agree more. And that's why we've done the heavy lifting for you, season by season, so you can avoid the pain (and expense) of costly home repairs. Now that's a resolution we can get behind!

1. Get ready for (more) winter storms

In most parts of the country, 'tis the season for freezing rain, sleet, and blizzards. Ensure you're ready for the next big storm before it strands you.

DIY: First, make sure you have a working generator, and keep a stash of batteries for flashlights and lanterns at the ready. 

"Heavy snows and ice can take down power lines and leave you in the cold and dark," says Krystal Rogers-Nelson of home safety and security company SafeWise.

Also a must-have: a solar-powered or battery-operated radio to keep you up to date on news in case cellphone reception goes out. Check the condition of your snow shovels, gloves, and window scrapers, and store snowy weather supplies near the door where you can access them easily.

We also love this novel tip from home maintenance expert Laura Gaskill: Mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles, to help snow plowers see where to go.

Finally, a buildup of heavy snow on tree limbs can make them more prone to breaking, Gaskill notes, so brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach.

Call in the pros: If a limb is buckling, have it removed as soon as the weather permits—expect to spend $75 to $150, depending on how much of the tree you lost.

2. Clean your oven

"Homemade food can really contribute to winter coziness at home, but unfortunately, the oven and its vents can easily turn into the dirtiest feature in the kitchen because they collect a lot of grime and grease," says Jasmine Hobbs of London Cleaning Team.

And over time, built-up grease can cause your appliance to use more power while turned on.

DIY: To clean your hood filters, fill a sink or a bucket with boiling water; add a quarter-cup baking soda and some liquid dish soap. Mix well and submerge the filters. Let them soak for a couple of minutes and rinse thoroughly. If your oven has a self-cleaning function, use it at least once a month. If not, apply a paste of baking soda and water, then scrub.

Call in the pros: If you never clean your oven and the thought of all that stuck-on grease is putting you in panic mode, you can call a reputable cleaning service. Most pro cleaners will charge a flat rate for whole-house cleaning and will include the oven; you'll spend between $115 and $236 for the whole kit and caboodle, depending on where you live and your home's grime level.

3. Inspect the property

Yes, it's cold and the last thing you probably want to do this time of year is walk around outside. But trust us, it's time well-spent.

"Home issues that are more susceptible in the winter—such as frozen pipes, window and door drafts, and the condition of a home’s gutters—can be easily detected during this time of year," says Patrick Knight of WIN Home Inspection.

DIY: Most big inspection issues are best left to a pro, but while you're taking stock, check off this easy to-do: Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. You should be doing this regularly, but it's even more important in the winter months, when windows tend to be closed and heaters are running overtime.

Call in the pros: Consider spending some of that Christmas cash on a professional inspection, especially if it's been a while. Strong winter winds and cold temps help inspectors detect drafts and insulation failures. Plus, winter gives inspectors a better idea of how the home structure and roof holds with the extra weight of snow and ice. And fireplaces and heating systems are more active during the winter months, making identifying problems easier.

It's also a great time to check out crawl spaces and attics, which can easily reach temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more in the summer months, making safe inspections nearly impossible.

Expect to spend upward of $300—and be sure you select a licensed, insured, and experienced pro for the job.

4. Take care of your wood floors

Winter can wreak major havoc on wood floors: Rock salt can stain wood (and its rough crystals can scratch floors), while indoor heaters can dry it out, causing problems like shrinkage and cracked floorboards.

DIY: Avoid using vinegar to remove stains, advises Dave Murphy of N-Hance Wood Refinishing. Instead, place rugs and mats in the highest-traffic areas. To lock moisture in the air and prevent heat-related damage to your floorboards, run a humidifier. And, of course, engage in routine sweeping, dusting, and mopping.

"This will also prevent particle and salt buildup," Murphy says. "And remember to mop with the boards, and not against the grain."

Call in the pros: In the end, winter's effects may be too harsh to manage on your own. Consider professional refinishing, which averages between $1.50 and $4 per square foot.

5. Block drafts

With temperatures down and indoor heaters working overtime, you'll know if your weatherstripping isn't up to par. And over time, all that unwanted cold air can increase your energy bill in a major way.

DIY: If the cold air is getting in under a door, pick up a door sweep at a local home improvement store. This doodad is typically made of hard plastic and attaches to the bottom of your door, sealing any gaps.

Call in the pros: Feel like you're wasting way too much energy during the winter months? Conduct an energy audit. A trained auditor can assess your home’s current energy efficiency and give you a list of recommended improvements. You can also find instructions for a DIY energy audit at Energy.gov.

6. Alleviate allergens

An estimated 50 million Americans live with allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and many of their conditions are exacerbated by indoor allergens such as dust mites and animal dander.

The main sources of indoor allergens? Pets top the list, of course, but other culprits include wall-to-wall carpet, soft furniture, stuffed toys, bedding, damp areas, indoor plants, mattresses that aren't in allergen-resistant covers, and pillows and bedding that can't be washed in hot water.

DIY: Clean dust from your blinds and ceiling fans using your vacuum's attachment kit, and make it a regular practice to vacuum all upholstery and carpets.

Once a week, wash your bedding in hot water (at a temperature hotter than 130 degrees), and consider investing in an air purifier with a HEPA filter, which can filter almost 98% of allergen particles in the air, according to the AAFA.

Another good buy?  A zippered allergen-resistant cover for your mattress, which the AAFA says is even more effective than an air purifier at removing indoor allergens.

Call in the pros: For your living room upholstery and other soft furniture, consider professional steam cleaning. Expect to spend upward of $200.

Let The McLeod Group Network assist you with all your home buying and home selling needs. 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By and photo credit: Holly Amaya, Realtor.com

Rents Are on the Rise: Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

by Amy McLeod Group

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is protecting yourself from rising rents, by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped 

A recent article by Apartment List addressed rising rents by stating:

“Rents are up 2.7% year-over-year at the national level. Year-over-year growth continues to fall between the 2.1% rate from this time last year and the 3.4% growth rate from October 2015.”

The article continues explaining that:

“Despite the seasonal slowdown, rents are still up year-over-year in 89 of the 100 Largest cities.

Additionally, the Urban Institute revealed that,

Over a quarter of renters, or 11.1 million households, are severely cost burdened, spending at least half their income on rental housing.

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent 

As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 6.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 57% less expensive in Detroit (MI) and 37.4% nationwide!

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 24,000 renters found that 80% of millennial renters plan to eventually buy a house, but 72% cite affordability as their primary obstacle. Aside from affordability, one in three millennial renters have concerns about their credit scores, and another 53% said that a down payment is an obstacle.

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let’s get together to determine if you can qualify for a mortgage now! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: KCM Crew

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 30

Share This Page

Contact Information

Photo of The McLeod Group Network Real Estate
The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.