Michelle Buras' Blog
If you're like many homeowners who are busy with work and family obligations, you love the thought of your outdoor living space serving as a personal sanctuary during the occasional moments when you manage to get some downtime. However, it may also be true that the time you spend in your yard and garden area is more about chores than anything else, with very little room for relaxing with a book and a beverage, enjoying a cookout with family and friends, or simply sitting quietly on a garden bench while listening to the birds sing. Following are several suggestions for how you can exchange some of that outdoor task time for outdoor leisure time.
Rethink Your Lawn
You can save yourself hours of mowing, weeding, feeding, and other lawn chores every week by seriously downsizing your lawn. If you've got active children in the home and want them to have a soft surface to play on, consider creating a play space with playground mulch instead of lawn. Leave a small patch of lawn so that you can still enjoy the occasional gratification of bare feet on velvety green grass.
Ask your local garden retailer for recommendations on flowers, shrubs, and trees that are native to your geographical area. These plants thrive in local soils and climate conditions, and they've developed natural resistance to regional pests and pathogens. You won't have to spend time babying them along with special fertilizers and pesticides -- at most, they'll need an extra drink of water during drought conditions and routine clipping and mulching.
Use Plenty of Mulch
Which brings us to mulch. Mulch provides multiple benefits in the yard and garden area. Organic mulch slowly releases nutrients into the soil, and any type of mulch acts as an insulator for plant roots, protecting them from temperature extremes on both ends of the scale. It also acts as a deterrent for the germination of weed seeds, as well as, helps provide your outdoor living space with a pulled-together appearance.
Build a Rock Garden
Rock gardens provide an almost maintenance-free way to maximize the aesthetics of your outdoor living space. Most rock garden plants don't require extra water and fertilizer once established. Rock gardens are also ideal for placing on slopes because they significantly decrease soil erosion from precipitation runoff.
Install a Smart Irrigation System
Smart irrigation systems save homeowners money as well as time. They're equipped with sensors that determine the amount of moisture in the soil, for instance, and the water won't come on unless the soil is dry, and they can also be set to shut off if it begins to rain.
Although a slow, gradual approach to selling a house often proves to be ideal, there may be instances when you need to work quickly to list your home. In fact, some of the primary reasons why an individual may try to accelerate the home selling process include:
1. You are planning to move to a new house right away.
If you recently submitted an offer on a house that is contingent on selling your current residence, you may need to act fast to sell your present home. Otherwise, you may miss out on the opportunity to finalize the purchase of your dream residence.
For home sellers who face a time crunch, there is no need to worry. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can get the help that you need to enjoy a quick, seamless home selling experience.
Typically, a real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals. This housing market professional then will craft a strategy to help you sell your house within your designated time frame. That way, you can boost the likelihood of getting the best-possible price for your residence, regardless of how much time is at your disposal.
2. You know exactly what your house is worth.
A diligent home seller likely knows all about the condition of his or her residence. Thus, this seller should have no trouble setting a competitive price for his or her house, increasing the possibility of a fast home sale.
To determine a "fair" value for a home, it generally helps to conduct a house appraisal. During an appraisal, a property expert will examine a residence and provide a valuation. Next, you can use this valuation to establish a competitive price for your house.
Also, it may be beneficial to complete a home inspection prior to listing a residence. An inspection will help you identify any "hidden" home problems and ensure you can address these issues before they escalate.
3. You understand the local housing market.
The real estate market can be complex, particularly for home sellers who face pressure to sell their residences as quickly as possible. Luckily, a home seller who knows the ins and outs of the housing market can improve his or her chances of achieving the best-possible results.
To learn about the housing market, you may want to consult with a real estate agent. In addition to guiding you along the home selling process, a real estate agent can teach you about the local housing market. By doing so, a real estate agent can help you make informed decisions at each stage of the home selling journey.
Furthermore, a real estate agent is available to respond to your home selling concerns and questions. And if you're ever uncertain about whether to accept an offer on your house, a real estate agent is happy to provide expert recommendations.
Want to list your house? Plan ahead as much as you can, and you can quickly navigate the home selling cycle.
While many homes are sold on the basis of emotional appeal or location, there are plenty of other factors which can help tip the scales in your direction. As a home seller, the more advantages and desirable features you can offer to potential buyers, the greater your chances of attracting multiple offers.
If your kitchen and bathrooms haven't been updated for decades, that could easily become a major stumbling block to attracting qualified buyers. Unless their plan is to remodel your kitchen after they buy your home (which is not likely), house hunters are generally not going to look kindly upon old laminate counter tops -- especially those with the ghastly colors from the sixties and seventies! The good news about making your outdated kitchen and home more marketable is that you have the option of resurfacing old countertops rather that completely replacing them.
Although it's generally a good idea to have professionals do this, you can cosmetically improve the appearance of your kitchen countertops by resurfacing them with granite sheets or tile. Resurfacing is also a relatively inexpensive way to help restore aging kitchen cabinets -- another aspect of your home that potential buyers are going to notice.
According to a recent study, quite a few buyers are drawn to features like stainless steel appliances, subway tiles, farmhouse sinks, Shaker cabinets, exposed brick, pendant lights, and quartz countertops. By the way, Quartz does offer some advantages over granite because it's more scratch resistant, maintenance free, and doesn't need to be sealed or polished.
Other features which attract home buyers include energy-efficient windows and appliances, sufficient insulation in attic and elsewhere (many older homes lack this), low-maintenance flooring (not carpeting), roofing that's been replaced within the past decade, finished or semi-finished basements, first-floor/separate laundry rooms, newer hot water heaters (extra points for tankless units), outdoor security lighting, fenced backyards, and dry basements. If you do have issues with excess moisture or leaks in your basement, it may be helpful to install a sump pump, a dehumidifier, French drains, or other dry basement remedies to address those issues before they're brought up by prospective buyers.
While there are certain aspects of your property that can not be changed, such as proximity to neighbors or the school district in which you're located, their are plenty of cost effective ways to improve the appearance and functionality of your home before you try to sell it. To identify problems before they become obstacles, some homeowners hire a property inspector to point out issues. That way, they're not blindsided by unexpected structural, mechanical, electrical, drainage, or energy conservation issues they might not be aware of. In addition to a reputable property inspector, a seasoned real estate agent can also be one of your best advisors when you're ready to put your home on the market.
A real estate investment trust (REIT) can be an attractive way to invest in real estate. It allows anyone to invest in real estate assets arranged in a portfolio. Currently, about 87 million Americans invest in these types of stocks.
What is a REIT?
A REIT is a company that operates, finances and/or owns real estate that produces income. It provides its investors with the opportunity to own real estate so they can access an income that is dividend based. Investors in REITs also have a hand in enhancing communities by helping them grow and thrive.
How a REIT Works
In addition to the fact that REITs are much like any other type of stock, they also tend to follow a methodical business model. The company leases space while collecting rent on the real estate it owns. The income generated by these actions is paid to shareholders.
In order to meet the qualifications for being a REIT, the company is required to pay out at least 90 percent of its taxable income to its shareholders. In many cases, REITs pay out a full 100 percent. Shareholders are required to pay income tax on their dividends.
In contrast, mREITs (mortgage real estate investment trusts) don't own any real estate directly. They earn an income on the interest the is generated when they finance investments.
Properties REITs Invest In
The types of real estate properties that a REIT can invest in spans a range of options. These are categorized into 13 different sectors and include residential, retail, healthcare, timberland and more. While most REITs invest in a single sector, there are those that hold more than one type of property.
Types of REITs
There are four general types of REITs. The most common are equity REITs. These operate and/or own real estate that generates income. mREITs focus on providing financing for real estate by originating or purchasing mortgage-related products.
Public non-listed REITs are registered with the SEC, but don't trade on the stock exchanges like the two previous types of REITs mentioned. Private REITs also do not trade on the stock exchanges. In addition, they are exempt from having to register with the SEC.
Getting Started Investing in REITs
Investing in REITs is as easy as purchasing shares of a company that's listed on a stock exchange. Other options for investing in a REIT include buying shares in an exchange-traded fund or a mutual fund that focuses on REITs. Investors also have the option to invest in private REITs and REITs that are public but not listed on the stock exchanges.
While REITs have historically outperformed a number of United States benchmarks, it's important to speak with an investment advisor or financial planner who can provide guidance and targeted information specific to your location and goals.
Water features aren’t just limited to the outdoors, anymore. You can bring the calming serenity of a soft stream into your home to give a more relaxing atmosphere. They can also be used as room dividers, conversation pieces, or as a simple decoration.
One of the most common ideas for indoor water features is the wall fountain. They add a soothing, bubbling sound and make the room appealing without consuming too much floor space. Most times, wall fountains work well in homes with rich, natural textures like natural stone walls and native, wood flooring and evoke a luxurious style without breaking the bank.
Indoor Water Streams
A water stream running through the floor can give your home a sophisticated edge. Moving water also comes with a calming effect. This type of water feature requires a vast amount of surface area so movement isn’t obstructed. One option to preserve your floor space is to cover the stream with glass.
Another good indoor water feature idea is an indoor waterfall. With an indoor waterfall, you can transform an ordinary room into a beautiful and classy setting. It is best to place indoor waterfalls close to accent walls and close to natural lighting to ensure that you get all the beautiful, glistening effects from the water.
With an indoor pond, you can make a perfect spot to relax and unwind. You can place indoor ponds in your entry, your sunroom, or any other central area in the home as long as it doesn’t obstruct the walkway.
Free-Standing Water Features
You can add a beautiful water feature, even in the smallest of rooms, in the form of a table-top or wall mounted fixture. A free-standing water feature is available in a variety of styles and sizes, and it can be set up without the hassle of remodeling.
Best Places to Install an Indoor Water Feature
Indoor water features bring elegance to your bedroom, living room, hallway, bathroom, or kitchen. Ponds, streams, and waterfalls are great for the living room where many people can admire them. Under the staircase is another ideal place to install a waterfall in your home if it happens to be open. If you are buying a free-standing water feature, make it a focal point so that it occupies center stage.
Water features can be a significant improvement to your home, increasing its buyer appeal and sale value. Need a little assistance in finding the right feature for your home? Contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction.