Blog :: 04-2017

10 Easy Improvements to Make on Your Fixer Upper


Posted on Mar 22 2017 - 10:01am by Housecall

House and key shaped paper cutout, calculator and magnifier on wooden table.

By Cary Teller

There is something awesome about buying a fixer upper and doing the renovations yourself. Some people fix them up a bit at a time, using cash as they have it available. If you want to make a big impact by doing small things, here are 10 things you need to include.

1. Change Out the Lighting

Nothing says outdated like an old-fashioned gold chandelier. Lighting is something that can be updated easily and won’t cost a bunch of money. It is one of the smallest things you can do that will have the biggest impact.

2. Paint

There is an old saying that states “if a barn needs to be painted, slap some paint on it.” You will be amazed at what some paint can do to your home. A new hue can cover imperfections and give the room the blast of color it needs. Forget drab, white walls that are lackluster. Give your home a color makeover.

3. New Fixtures

Just like the lighting, the fixtures in the home become outdated quickly. Start with the kitchen faucet and then move on to the bathroom. You can update and upgrade a fixer upper by just adding these small touches.

4. Paint Cabinets/Add New Hardware

If you have new cabinets in the budget, then you should go for it. However, if your budget is limited, then you may want to try to paint them. Painting old cabinets and installing new hardware will give the kitchen a facelift. If the cabinets are old but sturdy, then you can bring them back to life. Painting is inexpensive and has a huge impact.

5. Rip Out Old Carpeting

Carpet is great when it is new; however, when it is old and dingy, it can really have a negative impact on a space. Hardwoods are the best option, followed by laminate floors. However, if you are stretched for money, you may try a bag floor or a penny style one. There are creative options online that allow you to do great things with your floors for less.

6. Add Curb Appeal

The curb appeal of the home is everything. It does not matter how great the inside looks if the outside is in shambles. Clean up any dead plants and add some new. Be sure to pick flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times. This will allow you to have color year-round. Add some shutters and a fresh coat of paint to the porch. Use decorative numbers to display the address. Finally, replace the mailbox if necessary.

7. Repaint Ceilings

Ceilings are often overlooked. They are usually white and the color is reserved for the walls. However, people do not realize how dirty these ceilings can be. A fresh coat of paint on the ceiling can really enhance the whole room. The walls are not the only thing that needs to be painted.

8. Upgrade the Exterior Façade

The biggest impact you can have on the outside of a home is to replace or paint siding. If you have it in the budget, you can add brick and stone accents. Most fixer upper homes have chipping paint and worn out siding. Splurge for some nice siding or paint a great color to update the home’s look.

9. Replace the Windows

New windows are expensive, but they are important. If you have old windows in your home, you need to spend the money to upgrade them. Windows are great for keeping the elements at bay. You will save yourself money in the long run by sealing off old-drafty openings.

10. Update the Heating and Cooling Unit

To help the process of heating and cooling a home, you need to make sure the home has an updated HVAC unit. The air filters are just as important as the unit. Filters with a rating of Merv 11, have "astro pleating" to help ensure no dirt or dust gets into your system. Extend the livelihood of your unit by selecting quality air filters.


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    Know Your Real Estate: 5 Researching Tips for Homebuyers


    Posted on Mar 20 2017 - 11:47am by Housecall

    woman and man at home typing on laptop computer

    By Dixie Somers

    Being a first time homebuyer can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like there's so much to learn! The process doesn't get less challenging the second or third time around, but here are five tips to help you research and prepare for your next home buying experience.

    Location, Location, Location

    It's a cliché but it's true: location really is the most important part of the real estate equation. However, the right location isn't the same for everyone. Take your family's priorities into account and know where you would buy a home, and where you would not. Try to be flexible, but if you're longing for a place with a yard, then a balcony might not cut it, however a roof deck might! Always look for the exception to the rule. It's also a good idea to compare home prices around the home that you're considering. This will help you figure out if your house is a good deal and in line with the market expectations.

    Find Your Financing

    Finding the perfect house can take years, but once you find it things will move quickly. Most real estate markets are fast moving and a great house at a great price can easily go on the market in the morning and be under contract by the evening. When you find that house you have to be ready to jump on it. This means that you should have your financing figured out before you make an offer. Ask friends, family, any law or finance professionals your family uses, or ask your REALTOR® for a recommendation for a mortgage company. Be sure to get quotes from several different firms so you have a general idea of what your rates really should be.

    Understand the Vocabulary

    You should take the trouble to educate yourself about some of the jargon that comes with the real estate territory, otherwise, you might find yourself completely out of your league when discussing purchasing terms.

    Check out the Neighborhood

    If you're looking for homes outside of the neighborhood you live in, the best way to get a feel for it is to go and spend the day there. Find a few open houses you're interested in and go make a day of it. Have lunch, stroll the streets, check out the parks, schools, and find out what kind of people live there. These are the things that give a neighborhood its flavor, and things that you can't know until you go there and see for yourself.

    Choose a Trustworthy Agent

    A real estate agent can make or break your home buying experience. If you don't have an agent you already know and like, ask for recommendations, check local ratings sites and ask around. This can be a very personal relationship, so if you find an agent you believe in, hang on to them!

    Buying a home is an exciting and stressful process, but with these tips, we hope you'll have a great experience researching, shopping and purchasing your next home.


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      Green Your Space: 5 Tips for a Healthy Home

      Some great ideas from RISMedia's housecall...

      Posted on Mar 6 2017 - 10:43am by Andrea Davis
      Healthy home

      Every homeowner wants a healthy home for his or her family and pets. Making the right choices in your house isn't always easy though. Keep reading to learn more about how you can create a healthy space and enjoy your home even more. These five tips should put you on the path.

      Update Your Insulation

      Individuals and families in older homes should consider the fact that they may have unhealthy types of insulation in the walls keeping them comfortable. If you're not sure about your insulation, have the pros check it out first. In the case of asbestos or any other hazardous material, you don't want to be digging around in the walls on your own.

      Asbestos and hazardous insulation remediation can be a big job, but for a homeowner, it should be a top priority in terms of a healthy home. Updating your insulation will also be a major plus when and if you go to sell your home.

      Get a Mold Check

      Most homeowners never think about mold until they get an inspection related to selling their home. For others, mold isn't even a consideration until damage to the home occurs and a mold issue more or less reveals itself. Getting a mold check for your home can help your family breathe easier in the house. While most recently built homes won't have mold, getting a check isn't going to hurt you.

      Pick the Right Paint

      According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paint, wood stain and other varieties of coatings account for about nine percent of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions in the country every year. For a healthy home, look for low-VOC paint. They are water-based, low or no odor and non-toxic. While it can be hard to identify low-VOC paint on store shelves, online searches and on-can labeling should make it easy to find this type of paint if you're looking for it.

      Take Your Shoes Off

      Taking your shoes off every single time you come in your home might be a hard habit to get into, but for many people, it can lead to a healthier home environment. Your home might also require a little less cleaning, which is an added benefit. If you have a mudroom or a large entryway, removing your shoes should be easy. Tracking less outside germs from your shoes into your home can also help keep pets and children with a tendency to spend time on the floor healthier all year round.

      Add Plants to Your Décor

      Fresh, live plants can beautify almost any space. Live plants do more than just make your home look a little bit nicer though. Spider plants, lilies and aloe vera can help get rid of formaldehyde in the air, and English ivy, asparagus ferns and bamboo plants can work to clean indoor air as well. Whatever plant you choose, make sure they're not toxic to your pets if they roam free around your home.

      Making your home a healthier place isn't exactly as glamorous as buying new furniture or adding a room to your house. Don't take your home's health for granted and you won't have to worry as much about home-related hazards.


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        What Options Do You Have to Refinance Your Home?


        Posted on Feb 24 2017 - 5:12pm by Housecall

        interest rates
        When you’re considering refinancing your home, it’s common to have a lot of questions. Unlike a first-time homebuyer, you’ve often gone through the mortgage process before and think you may know what to expect. But what options should you take into consideration before filling out a residential mortgage application? There is a wide range of options available for refinancing your home, and selecting the correct one often involves knowing what kind of financial situation you’re facing. Here are some basics to help get you started in the process.

        What Options Do You Have to Refinance Your Home?

        The first question to ask is why are you looking at an online mortgage? Are you looking for a better deal than your current mortgage because your credit has improved since you were a first-time homebuyer? Are you filling out a residential mortgage application because you’re looking at a second home, perhaps to spend winters in a warmer climate? Are you considering adding investment property to your overall financial portfolio and an online mortgage is easier to administer than one with your local bank? Refinancing a home may be a confusing process, but knowing why you’re doing it and what the economic conditions are may help you make a smarter decision in the long run. Here are some common types of refinance options to consider when looking at a residential mortgage application:

        • Cash-Out Refinance: When you’re in a situation where you need extra cash at a lower interest rate than otherwise available for home improvement loans, college tuition or other necessary expense, a cash-out refinance loan may be a good option to consider. It will typically work best when you’ve built significant equity in your home, which you may then turn into cash, leveraging your home’s equity against the balance of the loan.
        • FHA Streamline: An FHA streamline mortgage is a fast and easy way to save money on your FHA mortgage loan. Depending on the terms of your current mortgage, you may be eligible to refinance with a minimum 5 percent reduction in your payment, with no appraisal, income or asset verification required.
        • VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): Did you get a VA mortgage loan to finance your home when the economy was better and the interest rates were higher? If you’ve served in our country’s military, whether you’re currently on active duty or a veteran, getting an IRRRL loan through the VA may enable you to enjoy the lower interest rates available in today’s economic market. With a lower interest rate, you may enjoy either a shorter repayment period or a lower monthly payment with a simple online mortgage application.
        • HARP 2.0 Program: Offered through the federal government, the Home Affordable Refinance Plan was developed when the housing bubble burst. Established in March 2009 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, it was intended to help homeowners, even first-time home buyers, who found themselves upside-down in their mortgages, owing more than their home was worth. If this describes the circumstances you find yourself in, a HARP refinance loan may be helpful if you’ve kept your mortgage payments current but have not been able to receive traditional refinancing due to the changed value of your home. However, if you’re potentially eligible for this program, be aware that it currently has an application deadline of September 30, 2017 with no guarantee of its extension.
        • Refinance to a Fixed-Rate Mortgage: If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage and you’re seeing the rates and your payment constantly changing, it may be very frustrating when you need to stick to a budget. When you need to count on a constant payment over a longer period of time, such as during retirement or while on a fixed income, a fixed-rate mortgage refinance may help provide that level of security. By refinancing into a fixed-rate mortgage refinance loan, you may be able to enjoy lower overall repayments and may not need to worry about changing payment amounts over the remaining life of the mortgage.

        Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer facing an online mortgage process to refinance a bad interest rate or are considering a residential mortgage application to fund investment property, refinancing is often a complex process. Knowing how the process works and what your options are may mean all the difference between negotiating a successful contract and being stuck in a bad deal for years to come. By educating yourself on the options you have available, you may be able to turn a tidy profit on investment property or enjoy that perfect vacation home you never thought you’d have the chance to own.


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