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Getting Ready To Move

Remodeling Versus Moving – What Should You Do?

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Construction | 0 comments

There are many things to consider before you make the big decision to either move or remodel your home. To some the decision comes natural, but to others they really take the time to consider the two options. The main factors one should think about to decide what they what to do are, time, money, location, and a few other important things.

When remodeling a home one must consider the time it will take to complete the home. Sometimes there’s a minimum amount of projects to be done and a home can be ready within a week. However sometimes a home needs a floor to roof remodel and if that’s the case the house could take months to complete. A person must consider that if they’re going to remodel their home certain parts of the home will no longer be functional while being remodeled. If the project is remodeling almost the whole home, than the home itself may not be livable. If you’re remodeling it is good to have family, friends, or neighbors to stay with.

If you’re considering moving you have to consider how long it will both take to find a new home and sell your current one. This process can either be a quick one or long one. After you find and sell your home a person must also consider how long it will take to pack and clean and to unpack and get settles into their new place.

Kitchen Remodel

How To Remodel A Kitchen On A Limited Budget

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Home Improvement | 0 comments

Just because you have a limited budget does not mean that you have to give up on a kitchen remodel. Sometimes a simple face change is all that is needed in order to update the look of your kitchen. The kitchen is one of the two most trafficked areas of the home, so it is the logical choice to start remodeling your home. The following is a quick list of ideas that you might want to toss around if you want to change the tone of your kitchen and home without spending a large amount on the entire project.

To begin with, you might want to take a close look at your cabinets since they are the largest piece of furniture in the room. If you cabinets are getting old you might want to give them a fresh face by resurfacing them or coating them with a polyurethane finish. It is very expensive to completely replace cabinets in a home, but by refinishing them you will create a brand new look. You can take it one step further by choosing to add new cabinet handles and accents to the cabinets. It only takes a few dollars to replace each handle and this can easily help update the look of your kitchen.

After deciding what to do with the cabinets you might want to continue your face lift by choosing to repaint the walls. Paint is not an expensive purchase, and choosing a bright color to place against a dark accent color is a great way to bring your kitchen to life. If you choose a dark finish for your kitchen cabinets then you might want to think about a light color as the cabinets will work perfectly as your dark accent saving you a lot of trouble.

5 Tips on Trasnporting Construction Material With Limited Space

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in News | 0 comments

One thing you know as a truck (or 6+ passenger van) owner is that there is always an opportunity to make a little cash (or whatever your preferred payment is) moving and unloading materials (rather it’s for your job or for helping a friend move in.) Helping a friend might be easier than moving construction material, though. Construction materials require a bit of planning, here are 5 tips for getting that material where it needs to go.

1. Be mindful of your vehicle.

This is first for many reason, mostly for your well-being and the well-being of your vehicle. Know how big of a load your truck can haul, don’t try to get too creative. Construction material can be heavier than it looks, and if you haul too much you can cause damage to your engine; cause the truck bed to be dangerously close to the driving road; and risk the lives and safety of those sharing the road with where a potential accident could occur. Also make sure your oil and water is at a good level.

2. Get help.

Having another person with you will ease some of the burden of your physical work. Plus have another opinion on how much your hauling is good too. You might be able to do the bulk of the gig on your own, but there are going to be some materials you’re going to need an extra hand with. Calling up a friend will ease your back the next day and you’ll be glad you did it.

3. Plan a route.

If you’re hauling a large load you’re probably not looking to take the freeway, depending on how much you’re carrying and how tall the material is over the truck, you should plan a route accordingly. Maybe stick to smaller streets and go a little out of the way if you have to. Whatever you have to do to mitigate risks is well worth it. Planning a route will also set you up for success in knocking the gig out as soon as possible.

4. Organize.

Be sure to organize well when fitting in all the materials to get the optimal result. If you pack everything up nicely you may double the amount of cargo you can take, just be sure not to over-load as we mentioned above.

5. Make use of each trip.

If you’re going to have to make multiple trips anyway, try to be as compact as possible but don’t over-stress your vehicle. Find that sweet spot between a productive trip and amount of cargo without too much. Your vehicle will be thankful for it.

How Important is It to Have an Emergency Fund?

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in News | 0 comments

You have probably heard this one a million times before. Maybe you hear it so often that you get irritated about it to the point of frustration. Maybe you think everyone who asks if you have an emergency fund or tells you that you need one is pretty much nagging. It may be a possibility that they are, but the truth is that it is really all for your benefit. If you want to be able to live a more carefree life with the knowledge that you are on your way to financial freedom, well…you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you will need to save up enough money for an emergency fund.

Remember that an emergency fund is separate from your savings–fact is your emergency fund is supposed to be at least six month’s worth of available cash (in the bank or otherwise) that you can have and spend in cases of emergency. This is supposed to be a fund that you will not touch no matter what, unless the situation actually calls for it. Remember as well that when you use your emergency fund, no matter for what it may be, you are actually going to have to replenish that so that it’s back to the amount it was. If you are comfortable with living on less for a while so you can save up an even bigger number, well… go right for it. The bigger your emergency fund the better–it sets you up for less stress in the future.

So let’s talk about why your emergency fund is important.

Accident, Sickness or Injury
Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to have insurance. So if you are one of the unfortunate people who do not have insurance, or do have insurance but have one with far too little coverage… well, this is where your emergency fund will come in handy. What happens if you are self employed, don’t have any insurance and you have an accident at work falling off a ladder? You’ll definitely need that emergency fund if you need to take time off work and don’t get paid.

Emergency Home Repair
So you have been going through your life happily, not worrying about a single thing at all. But the next thing you know something ridiculous happens–a ball comes flying in through your living room window. Your stove catches on fire and damages your wall, or your ceiling. Some sort of freak accident happens and a portion of your roof has caved in. Or your foundation needs to be fixed. Regardless of what it is, if you need emergency home repairs that you do not otherwise have a budget for, you can take it out of your emergency fund.

Living Expenses
The economy is simply not as good as it used to be. While you may feel as though you are in a secure job, making enough to retire on when you hit a certain age, there truly is no such thing as job security anymore. Not in this day and age. Thus you should really have an emergency fund. Enough for your living expenses for 6 months. This will cover your rent, utilities and so on as you find another job. 6 months is a good benchmark, and it is what almost everyone sticks by, but if I were you I would aim to keep adding to that little stockpile of cash, just in case you are not able to find a job within that six month time frame.

Home Improvement – Reasons to Look Into Remodeling Your Home

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in News | 0 comments

When people have a car that is getting older, they are faced with a difficult decision: spend money on fixing the car up, or do they simply trade the older car in as a down payment for something new and fun? In order to make an informed decision, people are going to start doing research into the replacement parts for their car like replacement wheels, replacement rims, or other parts of the car that need an upgrade.

While the prices for getting new car parts might be decent, the question remains as to whether it is worth it to fix that car up because even with good deals on parts, the parts need to be put in by a mechanic, which can cost a lot of money. The same thing can be said for an older home, should people do a little home improvement or not, and here are some reasons as to why people need to go ahead and go for the remodeling.

3 Reasons To Look Into Home Improvement

1. Interest rates are the best they have been in a long time: The economy is getting better, and even the house marketing is too, which means that banks are now willing to give out loans for things like home improvement, and these loans are low interest. With rates being so low now on loans, people are applying them, getting them, and turning their homes from old to modern.

2. A home that has been upgraded is worth more money: The house itself, and the land it is on, adds to what the overall value of the property is. However, if the home on the inside is not looking great, and is filled with old appliances, then the value of it is going to drop significantly. By doing things like painting the walls, changing out the appliances for newer energy efficient ones, and upgrading things like the air conditioning and heating system, the value of the property is going to go up significantly, which is a very sound investment for homeowners to make.

3. Home improvement makes a house more attractive to potential buyers: Some people buy a home, and then after a few years, or as many as five, they feel it is time to move out of that home, sell it, and acquire another. However, even if people have lived in their home for less than five years, things in the home could still have become worn out and need to be changed for something newer. A house that is in need of newer appliances, and one who’s owner actually replaces them on occasion, is going to make that house look very attractive to people who are looking to get a house. After all, people want to find a great house that is going to make them happy for a long time, and possibly a home they want to raise children in.

The Home Improvement Route

When people look around their home, and notice that it is not as new as it once was, they have the option of just ditching it for something new, or taking the time, effort, and money, and look into home improvement. Now is the best time to get a home improvement loan because banks are more willing now to loan out money as the economy recovers. A home that has been upgraded is going to make it more valuable, and if you choose to sell, you’ll be at the top of the list to potential home buyers.

Don’t Skimp On Landscaping When Trying To Sell Your Investment Homes

Posted by on Jul 13, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Although usually an afterthought, landscaping can be one of the easiest ways to increase the value of your investment homes when selling. All I mean by landscaping is to change the look and or structure of the land that surrounds your house. So keeping the grass short and tidy, the garden alive and beautiful and incorporating outdoor furniture the correct way. Here I’d like to give 6 landscaping tips that I’ve learned from many years in the business. They’ll help you sell your investment property faster and for more money from a small investment in landscaping.

Lawn Care

Tip 1: Mow the lawn before the open house. Even if you don’t have the healthiest grass, mowing it will ensure it at least looks good. Of all the mowers for sale you could do this with electric, petrol or reel – it doesn’t matter – just ensure that it is done because there is nothing easier in terms of landscaping than a well groomed lawn. And in terms of investment the top mowers are only $200.

Tip 2: Have a nice lawn with no brown patches. Another easy one as long as you plan ahead of the open house. Hire a lawn care expert to put down fertilizer and ensure a watering schedule to get the grass nice and green. Easy and cheap. And extremely effective at selling a house.

Tip 3: Where the garden bed meets the lawn use an edger (like this one) to create sharp lines that are extremely pleasing to the eye. One of the key elements in landscaping is tying aspects together. The garden should have an obvious starting point and the grass an obvious end. The easiest way to do this is with an edger. The edger will create the “cliff” where the grass drops down into the soil of the garden. This will also keep the wind from blowing soil onto the grass.

Garden Care

Tip 4: Make sure the garden is colorful and healthy looking. What this means is before an open house make sure to plant flowers and plants if there aren’t any there currently. Make sure to put some fresh top soil in the garden as well to ensure a healthy fresh look. You can either do this yourself or pay a small fee to have a gardener come and do it. Without a doubt the small gardener fee will pay off in spades since they’ll know what plants and flowers to incorporate to maximize the aesthetics of your garden.

Tip 5: Ensure shrubs, trees and the like are well groomed and tidy looking. Nothing is worse than overgrowth. If people show up to the open house and see branches all over the place and shrubs overgrown they’ll think the property is not well taken of. All you need to do is trim the overgrowth and tidy up the look of your trees and shrubs. If you want to pay someone to do it then you could even get them to turn your shrubs into artwork by trimming them a certain way.

Outdoor Structures and Tying it All Together

Tip 6: Incorporate some outdoor furniture to create extra living space outside. This means creating another room outdoors like around the barbeque so that your home feels bigger. And who doesn’t love a summer barbeque with the family? The way to do this is to ensure you have a solid ground to put a table and chairs. Usually homes will have a patio with a concrete pad or you can cheaply hire a contractor to put in some stone tiles to create the patio. Obviously the cost is a little higher for this tip but it will add the extra living space to your home and people love barbeque areas.

In terms of selling your investment property fast and for top dollar landscaping is an obvious investment. Making sure your lawn is perfect and trim, your garden is tidy and beautiful and your outdoor living space is inviting will ensure a quick sale.

Enjoy Your Pool Year Round: A Guide to Buying Quality and Affordable Pool Heaters

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Swimming pool heaters, especially in colder climates, are a great investment for families who own a swimming pool. Most families spend a lot of money on putting a pool in their backyard, only to be able to enjoy it a few months out of the year. This is an unwise investment, but the good news is that it can easily be corrected. If you own a pool and you’re unable to swim in it year round, purchasing a pool heater will allow you to regularly enjoy swimming outdoors. Don’t limit yourself and spend your money on maintaining a pool you hardly ever swim in. Your pool should be used by your family; it’s not just a showpiece. Enjoy the return on your investment, by being able to maximize the use of an outdoor swimming pool.

A heating system will allow you to swim in your pool whenever you’d like. When looking for swimming pool heaters on the internet, there are several things you need to take into account. It’s important for you to educate yourself on the types of pool heaters available for purchase. For example, you can select a natural gas, propane or solar pool heater. Based on your location, one option might be far more viable than another. It’s necessary to do the appropriate amount of research and to read pool heater reviews online. If you want to make the right choice, this is something you need to plan out in detail first.

Also, check to see whether you require a lot of space for your pool heater. Your storage space should be close to your pool. This is absolutely essential, as water is collected from the pool in order to be heated and delivered back to the the pool. There are a lot of online retailers offering these units at low prices. Don’t purchase it without reading all the fine print. Always purchase your products from a reputable company. Pool heaters are expensive. You don’t want to get stuck with a pool heater without an available warranty, or one that you cannot return if something goes wrong. Pool heater reviews online will offer the information you need about the company you’d like to purchase your pool heater from. You can also look in online forums if you’d like to interact with other customers. You will surely be able to find honest reviews through them. Secure transactions are also something you’ll want available to you. By selecting a company that prides themselves in providing their customers with safe transactions, offers a good delivery, return and warranty policy should be the one you purchase your pool heater from. Don’t settle for anything less than the best. Avoid companies that do not list a telephone number on their website. If something goes wrong with your order, you’ll need to get speak to someone about it. It’s also a good idea to call the number before you place your order. There are a lot of fake companies online. Scams are not uncommon.

If you read pool heater reviews online, take advantage of buying guides, and you do your research carefully, you’ll definitely be able to avoid running into this problem. Eventually, you’ll be able to locate the best pool heater at the right price, thus, allowing you to enjoy swimming in your pool any month out of the year.

Why Selecting a Real Estate Agent Is Like Buying an Espresso Machine

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Next time you think of selling or buying a house, think espresso coffee. That’s my new inspiration on how to best choose a real estate agent. Think like you would if you were shopping for an espresso machine. Why an espresso machine? Because the dynamics that get in the way of getting the best deal in both cases are surprisingly similar.
It hit me the other day when I needed a new espresso machine. Instinctively, my first thought was to call a friend who has a friend at the local electronics store. He had no idea of what espresso machine is ‘best’ and sounded surprised by my asking him. But he agreed to link me up with his friend at the store. But before I made that second call, it hit me: Isn’t this exactly what I advise my real estate clients against?

Real Estate and the Perils of Friendship

In my experience, most people looking to buy or sell a house first go to a friend or acquaintance who has bought or sold a house. It’s the sensible thing to do. A person who has gone through the process of buying or selling a house obviously has some insights into the real estate business. He or she probably knows a good real estate agent and knows the intricacies involved.
All true. Just like it is reasonable to assume that a guy who works at an electronic store knows what espresso machine is best.
The problem is that using friendship as your first reference in the selection of a real estate agent – or espresso machine – comes with some risks. Your friend will most likely feel good that you thought of them first. Actually, they would probably get offended if you went on to buy or sell a house without talking to them first.

The risk is that, most of the time, we tend to take a friends advice at face value. That’s just what friends do. The result is that, once a friend has recommended something or given a strong opinion on something, we will not explore the issue further – or if we do, we will not be as critical and cautious as we would be if we had not heard our friend’s perspective. It sort of feels rude and untrustworthy to countercheck a friend’s advice.
In real estate business that can be a big problem. Your friend’s advice is very important, no question about that. It gives you an insight into what you are about to get into. But, unfortunately, that is all it does: it give you an insight. You still have to research further, possibly talk to other colleagues, and maybe talk to several professional realtors before settling for one. So what happens if, after exploring the matter further, you decide to go against your friend’s advice by, for instance, choosing a different real estate agent? Will that offend your friend? And what if you follow your friend’s advice to the letter and things go south? Will your friendship suffer as a consequence?

Navigating Around Friendship in Real Estate Purchase

I did call my friend’s guy at the local electronic store about the espresso machine. I had to. But I made a point of first researching espresso machines on the internet. You will be surprised at how much information and choices exist on the damn thing. Like, there are espresso machines for coffee beans and others for coffee capsules. And some espresso machines use manual levers while other use pumps and stream technology. And so on.

My point? It’s perfectly fine to seek a friend’s advice on real estate before jumping into the deep end of the business. But it is best to first do your own research, talk to a professional real estate agent or mortgage broker – or better still, talk to several of them. Then, when you are better informed about the dynamics of the business, have a talk with your friend.

Why? Because you are as likely to be surprised at the intricacies of the real estate market as I was about espresso machines. Like, for instance, just because a real estate agent sells more houses per month compared to others does not make him a better performing agent. He may simply be selling more houses because he has a bigger portfolio – as in, he sells 10 houses a month out of a portfolio of 60 listings while the guy next door sell 4 houses per month from a listing of just 10 houses. Or maybe he prices his houses lower to minimize on marketing costs and create volume.

Also, contrary to what should be a logical assumption, selling of buying any one house is almost always different from buying or selling another house. Often, prices vary not just according to location but also because of shifts in the economy, demand and supply, the profile of the agency or realtor, and sometimes for no apparent reason.

But perhaps the main reason why you need to do your own research before you seek a friend’s advice on real estate is because it cushions your friendship. You are better informed so you are more likely to ask the right questions. You will also already be having an idea of the options you have, which means your friend will be less surprised – and therefore less likely to be offended – by whatever choice you eventually make.

Tips for Setting Up a Room for Your Piano

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in News | 0 comments

There are many reasons you should dedicate a room for a piano, like a Yamaha P105. Playing the piano has been proven to improve a person’s health and overall wellbeing – regardless of whether the player starts as a child or as an adult. Playing piano helps to increase cognitive development; the act of creating music stimulates the brain in a certain way not found in other activities. The way neurological pathways connect when playing the piano can be used in advancing oneself in mathematics, science, and engineering. Fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination also benefit by reading sheet music and training the eyes and hands to work together.

Another benefit to playing the piano in your home is that music itself can reduce anxiety and stress – and even lower your blood pressure. Playing the piano for even a small set of time during a busy day can help the mind feel refreshed and at ease, very similar to meditation. Pianist also see a considerable decrease in depression and other mental health issues.

As far as setting up the room itself, there are a few things you can do to optimize your experience, your sound, and over-all enjoyment. One thing to keep in mind, for the best sound, is the total length of the walls of your piano room should be 10 times the length of a grand piano, at least. If you open the doors into an adjacent living space, you will allow your bass sound to resonate more clearly; the lower notes require more room to “breath,” so to speak. Another good way to increase your sound is by placing a rug under the piano to absorb some of the excess reflective sound. Also using irregularly shaped objects, wall hangings, and furniture along the walls will help to break up and even out harder reflections. Some suggestions would be upholstered furniture and heavy draperies.

Places you don’t want to put your piano

Try not to put your piano in any setting that is dark, warm, or moist. You may encourage the growth of mold and bacteria inside of your piano; this could lead the weakening of internal wood and possible health risks.

Fluctuating humidity levels are also a bad environment for a piano. You may risk damage to the piano’s finish and warping of the wooden soundboard, also weakening the strings. If you want to keep your piano in tune, plan on investing in a climate-control device and have it running 24/7.

Too many open doors and windows in the piano room could cause condensation beneath the piano keys. May also lead to warped wood.

Fans, air conditioners, heaters, and also computers need be 4 feet, at least, away from the piano, the farther away from the piano the safer you are. This includes fireplaces, which should be at least 10 feet away.

Investing in a piano and allocating a room for one is well worth your time, well-being, and will undoubtedly enrich your life. A piano is a beautiful instrument and can lead to easy-learning of other instruments that may interest you. Learning to play Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Teddy Wilson, or just your favorite songs will impress your friends and may lead you to a new role as an entertainer at parties!

How To Improve The Way Your Home Smells

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in News | 0 comments

It’s a fact that bad smells just happen in your house on occasion. The best way to handle this problem is to look through a range of solutions that will help you improve the situation. The best method will depend on your personal preference, what exactly you’re trying to accomplish, and what materials you have access to offhand. Here are a few ideas.

Home Orange Scents
One great way to make your home smell great is to put some oranges and cinnamon into a glass jar, and then fill the jar with water. You can then store this in your refrigerator until you need to use it. When you’re ready to make your home smell nice, all you have to do is poor the mix into a heating apparatus such as a pan. This will slowly vaporize the nice smelling water, and push this scent into the air in your house. The good thing about this approach is that it tends to last throughout the day.

Room Spray
Another great way to make your house smell nice is to add a dozen or so drops of essential oil to a cup of distilled water. Then add this water to a mist spray can. You can then spray any area that smells bad in order to make it smell much nicer. This method is ideal if you want to focus the effects of the mist in one particular area instead of your whole house since it’s harder to get a pan full of boiling liquid into the bathroom safely.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is an ideal way to help reduce odors in the sink and in the refrigerator, as well as on the carpet. This is because the substance will help to absorb any and all smells that might be coming out of that area. This is often the case with refrigerators, for example, since sometimes, despite the best of intentions, things go bad in the refrigerator and there’s nothing you can quite do about it. During these situations, it’s often best to make sure that you absorb as much of the scent as possible in order to make sure that it doesn’t continue to send the foul odor from your refrigerator and into the rest of your house. This can be the case with rotting milk, or especially with rotting milk, for example.

Personal Scents
Another great way to make your house smell nicer is to smell nicer yourself. Getting your hands on the best cologne for men will go a great way to helping with this goal, regardless of any other methods you use to make your house smell nicer. There are plenty of natural oils you can get for this purpose.

In the end, it’s worth putting a little extra effort into making sure that you take care of bad smells or otherwise they will make your life unpleasant. And they will also make any guests who come over your house think twice before they ever make that mistake a second time.

DIY Project: Sunken Trampoline

Posted by on Jun 7, 2014 in News | 0 comments


So your toddler is growing up? Time to think about preparing your backyard for that young kid who will soon be demanding entertainment and exercise. With a little creativity you can create a backyard that will be fun for your kids, and still look well attractive, adding value to your property for the future!
The home improvement project that I am going to walk you through today is how to properly install a sunken trampoline.
“Why a sunken trampoline?” You might be asking. There are two good reasons here.
The first is aesthetic. An above ground trampoline is easy enough to buy and install, however, it sticks out like a sore thumb on your beautifully manicured lawn. This isn’t so much a reselling issue, because you can always get rid of the trampoline when it comes time to sell. However, the area underneath the trampoline often gets neglected which can lead to unruly grass, or dead patches of lawn. Not only will this look awkward when trying to spruce the place up for resale, but it also looks like an eyesore every morning when you sip your cup of coffee and look out onto the yard.
The second reason is safety. As almost every parent who’s gone through the dilemma of deciding whether or not to get a trampoline for their child knows, trampolines seem to cause injuries. The leading type of trampoline injury is usually the result of a child getting thrown off the mat and having a hard landing on the solid ground below. A sunken trampoline eliminates several feet of air space, so any landing will be much more manageable.

The first thing that you will need to consider when you are choosing your trampoline is how much space you have to work with in your back yard. Choosing as large trampoline will come with it’s own set of problems, like digging a bigger hole and deciding how many people can jump at once (safety). Choosing a smaller trampoline, like one of these trampolines, means that less space will be lost and it will also reduce the chance of injury by limiting the number of children jumping at one time.
Deciding to purchase a brand known for safety, like JumpSport, or SpringFree will also ensure that you are setting yourself up for success. A high quality product that will withstand weathering will need less maintenance and cost you fewer dollars in the long run.

The second thing to consider is how to excavate the hole required to set the trampoline into. If you have a large property, it might be quite simple to hire a small excavator to do the job. However, if you live in the suburbs, like a lot of you folks do, it will be most likely be a job done by hand (which will make you thankful you choose a small trampoline after all!).
The dimensions of the hole should be fairly straight forward. Just dig the dimensions of the trampoline and maybe two inches lower so the padding over the springs doesn’t stick up.

The third thing to do is to cut a foot-wide perimeter around the outside of the trampoline hole, about an inch deep. Using a cement sealant to stop any weeds from growing through, and then a highly durable running-track sponge, you can effectively prevent a high percentage of injuries from accidental landings around the trampoline edge.

Once you have successfully installed your trampoline, you will be left with a stylish and fun addition to your back yard. The best part about this project, is that once your children have outgrown the trampoline, or you decide to move, it is an easy remedy. Simply fill in the hole with compacted top soil and lay some sod over to recreate your original yard. If you are feeling highly creative you could even install a water feature, but that is for another post!

I hope this guide has added some inspiration to your home improvement goals. Remember, it is possible to have an entertaining backyard for children, which will add value to your property.

Why Removing Old Wallpaper Is a Fantastic ROI

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Upon meeting someone new, it’s inevitable that they ask me what I do for a living. As a regular conversation starter in the USA, this question is something we are all used to answering. So I’ve gotten my regular response down pat saying “I work in real estate, mostly in finance but also dabble in improvement projects from time to time”. Inevitably this answer leads to a bunch of questions about home improvement projects, specifically which ones provide the best ROI.

In order to answer this question for someone specifically, I would need to know more about their specific residence. However, for the purpose of this blog post I wanted to talk about one of the very best ROI projects I know of. This project is not applicable for all homes but does come up often in older homes. What I am referring to is wallpaper removal.

Now I’m not a wallpaper hater however, I am an OLD wallpaper hater. I’ve seen some newer wallpapers that can look great in certain situations. I personally have used modern designed wallpaper in one of my bathroom walls and it looks amazing.

When I say I’m an old wallpaper hater, I’m referring to the wide strips of floral designs that were super popular back in the 60s. The designs are outdated and any home you walk into that has these relics from the past still hanging on their walls is like going into a time machine set for 1963.
Due to the visual impact such an atrocity has upon seeing it and how easy it is to remove, it is defiantly one of the best ROI projects possible.

Removing walllpaper one of those projects that people can do very easily themselves with the right tools and right know-how.. Hence, the cost of wallpaper removal project should be very low and the improvement the project makes is massive in the esthetics department.

If you try to remove old wallpaper without any tools or know-how you’re in for one of the most frustrating experiences of your life. You’ll quickly discover that the glue they produced for wallpaper back in the 60′s was the real deal. It’s no joke, you would think that over time the glue would become brittle or weak but that is defiantly not the case, it doesn’t want to come off.

However, all you need to do is introduce a wallpaper steamer and it soon becomes an easy and enjoyable project. A wallpaper steamer basically uses steam to heat up the glue. Warm glue is weak and the wallpaper will nearly fall off the wall.

The process does take a little bit a patience but the results are amazing.

Once you have removed all the old flowery wallpaper, you can then paint the walls or add a newer (modern) wallpaper design. You’ll be amazed at how much of a visual impact this will make.

So there you have it, wallpaper removal is my personal favorite and best ROI home improvement project when applicable.

How I Started My Rental Property Portfolio

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in News | 0 comments

I currently own two duplexes and three single family homes. I’m not a huge real estate investor, I just have the capital to scale it. With real estate prices being so low (at least vs. our neighbor up North!), it really does seem to be the safest place to put my money. The stock market is bubbling up and it will eventually pop. Gold is a good hedge, but it lacks utility. If I ever end up homeless, I could live in one of these units and still have all the expenses covered.

I’ve done all the research. I’m an active reader on the Bigger Pockets forum and I have quite a few realtor and rehabber friends in my area. In fact, my brother-in-law is a general contractor and he has helped me with fixing up my rentals from time to time.

I wouldn’t call my progress a major success. I hit all the ideal numbers on most of my units. I’m in the green and any capital is safely locked up. I could liquidate my assets and turn a nice profit right now. I think what appeals to me the most is where my portfolio could be when I retire from my current job. It will be then that I can actually dedicate all my time to finding the right deals, managing the properties, and really getting my hands dirty – even with the repairs!

How I Built Up Capital

I wouldn’t say I was lucky in any sense. I spent quite a bit of time looking for something to do in school. Just like everyone else, I had that puzzling question floating overhead regarding what I wanted to do with my life. In all honesty, I just wanted to make enough money to live comfortably, but without having to dedicate a decade to schoolwork.

That’s when I realized the benefits of becoming a dental hygienist. I’ve heard from friends of friends that the job pays well and is pretty stable. The dental hygienist requirements were also pretty slack. A few years in school, a probation period where I got on-the-job dental hygienist training, and I was set.

So I started putting money away. Soon I had enough to finance an owner-occupied duplex, meaning I took one side and rented out the other. All of a sudden, I no longer had to worry about rent. My tenant was paying into the equity I was building on the property. All my previously budgeted funds were directly saved for investment capital.

My Steps into Real Estate

I actually made the choice of paying off the duplex mortgage in full. The property appreciated in value a fair bit due to the uplift in the area as a whole. So I walked away with even more cash in hand, turning a nice profit. This allowed me to pick up a home for myself. Nothing over the top, of course. I then put my money into an even nicer duplex that was tenant-occupied.

This gave me a decent amount of cash flow each month. My job also helped me with saving extra investment capital. I didn’t run into any major repairs or anything of that sort. Eventually, I was ready to buy some more. I used my position to grab another duplex.

My long-term tenant in the previous duplex then pursued me about financing a home under rent-to-own. The return on this investment was set to be huge, so I gladly jumped on the opportunity. In fact, they had enough to put up that I didn’t have to invest a penny. They ended up bailing out, which worked for me in the long run as I found a retired couple interested in the same arrangement. So I scored the rent to own deposit and a nice premium on rent for the month’s the previous tenants were there.

My built-up capital gave me enough to invest in another single family home. This one is currently rented out to my brother-in-law. It’s a rehab project, so he’s doing some labor and I’m discounting the rent a bit. I could be pulling in more money with it, but its family after all.

This is where I’m at right now. I haven’t purchased a property in almost a year. However, I do have enough cash flow to jump on an opportunity if it comes up. My goal is to get enough funds to invest in higher priced properties. I’m not 100% on how I plan to diversify my portfolio when I enter the new budget range, but I’ll figure it out.

That’s about it…that’s my journey thus far in real estate. It hasn’t been that entertaining, at least to read about, as I’ve had to keep my career first. I do have a passion for investing though, so I could see myself transitioning into real estate investing as a profession at some point in my life.

Was the Help to Buy Scheme a Help or a Hindrance?

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in News | 0 comments

The UK’s Help to Buy scheme was introduced as a way to boost the housing market, whilst helping people easily place a 5% deposit on homes worth up to £600,000. However, it appears that it was a little more successful than the Conservative government anticipated, as there is serious concern that it could create a housing bubble.

Despite many mortgage experts’ initial warnings about the disadvantages of the Help to Buy scheme, the government chose to go ahead with it anyway. While the scheme has undoubtedly helped people take a step on the property ladder, it seems as though it is posing a serious threat to the country’s financial stability. Rising housing prices and large-value mortgages could therefore result in the UK facing significant debt problems, which could considerably damage the country’s growing economy.

Whilst David Cameron has stated that the Conservative government is “alert to any dangers and problems” in relation to rising house prices, he has also said he wants to create a culture of owning your own home – which was inspired by Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme that allowed council tenants to buy their homes at a discounted rate.

He recently commented: “I can remember the moment I walked through the door of the first flat I bought and the pride that you feel, and you sense that it is your own, and you can develop and improve it. It is a deep, natural, human instinct, and I fully support it. That’s what the Help to Buy scheme is all about”.

How to Stop the Housing Bubble

As the Help to Buy scheme is pushing up the price of many houses in various UK areas, is it now time to cut back on the scheme to create a more stable economy? I think so, and many politicians agree with me. Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, recently stated that he believes it is now time for the government to “pare back” on the scheme or face serious debt problems. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also suggested that the government should cut back the scheme, as well as force buyers to make bigger deposits – but surely that goes against the whole Help to Buy scheme’s philosophy? Offering cheaper rates for more people.

Regulators have also taken steps to make it increasingly harder for people to obtain a mortgage, as borrowers are now subject to tougher lifestyle and affordability questions, ranging from their childcare costs to disposable outgoings. Many ministers have also suggested that George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, lower the maximum £600,000 limit; however, he has dismissed the requests.

While the Help to Buy scheme has played a major part in taking the UK out of the recession, it could easily pull them back into another one – whilst resulting in some borrowers undertaking an unsustainable level of debt, forcing them to declare bankruptcy or turn to debt management companies like Churchwood Finance.

So, maybe it is time to for the scheme to not overstay its welcome and say goodbye once and for all.