What Buying a House Can Do for You: Investment Opportunity and Financial Security

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Buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how home ownership can be a great investment decision for your financial security.

Some people may think of buying a home as a stressful experience that comes with an enormous commitment that can burden you for years. However, buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how homeownership can be a great investment decision that bolsters your financial security.

A Net Worth Boost

Research shows that on average, homeowners’ net worth is far higher than that of a renters’ net worth by up to 36%. And this wealth gap keeps widening every year. One explanation for this gap is the concept of forced savings. This is a situation where a person is essentially forced to save a certain amount of money every month for a significant expense, such as a house or a car.

Paying for a mortgage is a great example of forced savings. Paying for your mortgage month after month forces you to save a portion of your income to help pay off your property, which works towards increasing your home equity and net worth. Renters, on the other hand, increase the net worth of their landlords without building equity or assets.

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Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a house shouldn’t be considered fully as an expense. Homeowners enjoy a variety of tax breaks that you might not know about. Here are some of the tax breaks homeowners may qualify for:

Mortgage Interest Deductions

The monthly mortgageyou must pay when you buy a house is split into two parts: one portion goes towards the actual principal amount, and the other portion pays off your interest on the mortgage. In some cases, the mortgage interest on your main and second residence is tax deductible.

To claim the mortgage interest, you must itemize your deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A, unless you just want to just claim the standard deductions. You should get a 1098 Form from your mortgage lender at the beginning of every year showing the total amount you paid as interest for the previous year that you can claim for tax returns.

Property Taxes

City or state real estate taxes that you pay on your house may be filed as a deductible while itemizing the deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage Points

There are two types of mortgage points, and each point represents 1% of your total mortgage. Origination points, which is a fee that you pay to the borrower to compensate for their work that goes into processing a loan, are non-deductible. Discount points, which allow you to get discounted interest rates on your mortgage, are tax deductible.

Some of the interest that you pay on home equity loans are also deductible, along with interest on home improvement loan, and qualified moving expenses.

Using the Power of Leverage for Investing

One advantage of buying property for the purpose of investing is that you can borrow funds to make the purchase, as opposed to other investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds. Another advantage is that when inflation hits and prices increase, sometimes your house value will increase as well. If you borrow with a fixed rate mortgage, you will still be paying the future monthly payments with a currency that’s depreciated in value. As years go by, the equity on your property will increase, and once the principal amount is all paid off, you will have a debt-free asset that will continue to appreciate, depending on market conditions.

Compared to stacking up cash savings in your bank account and watching it lose value to inflation, investing in a property can secure your money in the long-term and act as a hedge against dollar debasement. Whether for diversification of your investment portfolio, or to secure a property where you and your family can grow and build memories, buying a home can be a timeless investment vehicle.

 

Now that you know the benefits of buying a house, visit sleggrealty.com  and find your dream home.

 

Selfie 101: Six Ways to Prep Your Home for Sale in the Digital Age

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Post, share, like, comment, repeat. Are you ready? Your property is about to go viral.

Post, share, like, comment, repeat. Virtual showings via Facebook live, an engaging tweet promoting the new listing and THE money shot on Instagram. Aerial photos and videos captured via drone. Property videos on You Tube and taking a tour in virtual reality. Are you ready? Your property is about to go viral.

It’s 2017, and the way properties are being marketed has changed. As the world becomes increasingly connected through the use of technology, buyers can learn everything about a home and never physically see it–if they choose–before making a purchasing decision. With the use of social media channels, video, drones and virtual reality, the home search process has become highly accelerated which means as a seller, you only have seconds to make a first impression.

The way you live in your home and the way you capture it for marketing purposes are two different things. Here are six tips to properly preparing your home for sale in the digital age.

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1. Make sure that your home is completely prepared on both the inside and outside for all photo, video and virtual reality shoots BEFORE they are scheduled. You don’t want the property listed with images of a home that is in process of getting ready for sale and assuming you can easily update it with better images later once all the yard work has been done. Sellers need to understand that real estate listings are typically syndicated to NUMEROUS websites the minute they hit the local multiple listing service. This means that any photos, videos and virtual reality walkthroughs are replicated hundreds of times. While it is possible to change photos on a listing at any time, those new images may not update to all websites instantaneously. Each website has its own schedule for refreshing feeds, and images showing different property conditions can cause buyer confusion.

2. Image is REALLY everything. Pictures captured using sophisticated camera equipment can be unforgiving. Therefore, you need to truly clear the clutter from any space that is going to be photographed. This means no placemats on the table, an excessive amount of appliances cluttering the countertops and keeping decorative items –pictures, statutes, collections, plants (artificial or real) to a minimum. Home offices are often a culprit and even though you may have things in neat piles, the piles need to be removed for purposes of the shoot. Don’t forget the laundry room or garage. Stray power cords, power strips or cables may also be distracting. While you may not think these things would affect photo and video images, it may devalue the space and detract from some of the home’s best features.

3. Straighten, primp, fluff, repeat. Comforters and bedspreads need to be wrinkle free and pulled tight. Pillows on beds, couches and chairs need to be fluffed and arranged accordingly. Scan the beds for any stray sheets hanging down on the sides and tuck them under the mattress. All seat cushions should be flipped over and straightened out as if they were appearing in a catalog photoshoot. Make sure all furniture is positioned properly and any hanging artwork is straight. And before I forget.. do a light bulb check as all lights are typically turned on for a shoot. Those wall sconces that are rarely turned on may have gone dark.

4. Bathrooms – hide EVERYTHING for pictures. That means removing the toothbrushes, mouthwash, bathroom cups, hairdryers, make-up and whatever else from the counters. Don’t forget the shower and bathtub stalls – no one wants to see what brand soap you are using. Clear everything out of here, including from the shampoo shelf.

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5. Landscaping, Trees, Roof and Driveway –this has become especially important with the use of drones to capture aerial images and video. An aerial image is often being chosen as the main photo in a MLS listing and therefore it is the FIRST image that a buyer may see whether on the multiple listing service or on other consumer websites. It is critically important that you invest time in making sure the exterior looks the best it can be. Landscaping should be trimmed so it enhances the home’s appearance and doesn’t hide it. Anything dead or drooping should be removed and replaced with something that will give curb appeal. Look up at the trees surrounding your home. When was the last time you had them trimmed? Aerial shots may make the home look consumed by trees vs. being complimented by them. Unless you live in a forest, this is not a good thing.

And the roof? Any debris needs to be blown off prior to any photography or video activities. In fact, it is a good idea to arrange to have the roof and all walkways blown off right before the photography fun begins. A roof with shingles showing signs of age and/or fading may not be a good candidate for a drone.

Lastly, a driveway with lots of cracks or uneven payment cannot hide from drone photography. The images it renders from the air may appear much worse vs. how things appear from ground level.

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6. Outdoor Furniture, Exterior Light Fixtures, Summer Kitchens, etc. When was the last time these were really cleaned? I’m not talking about beating the cushions so the dirt and dust comes off. Dirty furniture, worn fixtures and a summer kitchen that hasn’t been cleaned since your last barbecue six months ago can dampen a spectacular outdoor setting. Pollen, dirt, dead bugs, rust and sun beaten cushions can make your outdoor space appear worn and not well maintained. If none of these items can be prepped to shine, you may be better off replacing them with inexpensive substitutes.

While all of this may seem like a lot of work, a little extra effort to elevate your property’s digital presence and create the idyllic setting of where your next buyer’s life will play out will go a long way with engaging them to make your home “the one”.

Buying Abroad: Buenos Aires

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From the food, nightlife, art scene and architecture – take a look at why Buenos Aires has become commonly referred to as the Paris of South America.

From charming sidewalk cafes, striking architecture and the cosmopolitan feel, I’ve heard Buenos Aires referred to as the Paris of South America multiple times. I fell in love with Buenos Aires through two of my favorite films, Medianeras and Motorcycle Diaries. In the latter movie, Gael Garcia Bernal’s character says, “How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?” – this sums up the romantic feeling many have about the intoxicating and vibrant city of Buenos Aires.

I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to visit yet, but luckily the latest installment of our ‘Buying Abroad‘ series has us covered. Here’s an on-the-ground perspective from Coldwell Banker Argentina about what makes Buenos Aires one of the world’ premier places to visit and/or call home.

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Chosen in 2016 as the best tourist destination in South America by the traveler’s choice awards, granted by Trip Advisor, Buenos Aires is one of the most attractive cities in Latin America.

The reasons to visit Buenos Aires are endless. Its wide variety of shows makes it the city with more theater activity in Latin America and fourth in terms of movie production worldwide. Recognized as tango’s world capital, the city offers a great variety of places to dance and enjoy it.

In regards to gastronomy, without a doubt, visiting Buenos Aires is an excellent opportunity to try the typical “Asado Argentino” (Argentinian barbecue), made with the highest quality meat. Traditional Buenos Aires cuisine – which is a consequence of the contributions of Italian, French and Spanish immigrants who arrived centuries ago – can be tasted in every corner of the city, especially in its gastronomic poles, such as Palermo, San Telmo and Puerto Madero.

In its intense nightlife, there are many restaurants, bars and nightclubs where tourists can have fun and meet new people. And for city tour lovers, Buenos Aires offers a large amount of activities that are absolutely free to enjoy: from places of architectural, historical and cultural interest, to large green spaces to practice sports and enjoy the outdoors.

The reasons to love Buenos Aires are unlimited and the opportunities to invest in it have increased in recent times with the presidential change: the Direct Foreigner Investment (IED*) during the first semester of 2016 reached USD 1.304 million: virtually the same number of all 2015 in such terms.

Purchasing a property in a desirable location such as apartments in Recoleta, Belgrano or Palermo, or a nice house in the north suburbs of Buenos Aires, is a growing investment opportunity and the demand is gaining strength as Argentina is once again becoming an attractive country for big companies to invest in.

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If Buenos Aires sounds like as good to you as it does to me, be sure to visit http://coldwellbanker.com.ar for a look at some stunning potential vacation or primary homes.

12 New Ways To Use Old Furniture In a New Home

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Don’t give up on your old favorites yet. Here’s how to reimagine and reinvent them to suit any room.

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Guest post by Yanic Simard, Houzz Contributor

Moving into a new home with your old furniture is a bit like trying to put on clothes from 10 years ago. You may still love those pieces, but they may not all fit quite the way they did before. Luckily, in your home at least, there are lots of ways to adapt your old favorites to make them suit a new situation. If you’re willing to get a little creative, try out some of these tips for giving your existing furniture a new lease on life.

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Shake up the routine. When we picture certain rooms in our heads, we tend to imagine a specific furniture layout, and this can be especially true in the living room. You might envision your new space having a classic sofa, a love seat and two chairs, but this isn’t the only layout that works. So don’t get hung up on your first vision.

Every space and every set of furniture have their own limitations and their own possibilities. Try laying out your furniture in a different way, either in real life or in a pencil sketch, to see what can work and what can’t. Figure out where furniture fits best, and then you’ll have an idea of what pieces you’ll need to add, move or eliminate to bring the room together.

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Extend a sofa into a sectional. Have a great sofa that feels a little small in your new space? Rather than replacing it, consider extending it by adding an ottoman to create a sectional.

Having an ottoman custom-upholstered to match or coordinate with your existing sofa will be significantly less expensive than buying a new sofa. You can even have your sofa reupholstered at the same time to give it a new life and get a perfect match in whatever fabric and shade you prefer.

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Add (or Reuse) End Chairs

A bigger home might mean room for a longer dining table, but now what do you with your set of chairs that’s short by two? And what do you do if you’re downsizing?

You may not still be able to buy two more of the exact chairs you have, but you can make the “mismatch” into a pleasing contrast by using two new chairs on the ends of the table.

Choose a style that’s a little grander and more richly detailed (consider arms) to make the contrast feel intentional.

Adding contrasting chairs to your table will introduce a lot of interest, and they can easily be reused later as side chairs in another room. On the other hand, if you have some extra side chairs from a past living room, bring them to the table as comfortable dining chairs.

In general, it’s smart to coordinate the chairs in different rooms of the home so that they can be easily moved between rooms in the future. A little consideration now will give you lots of mix-and-match options down the road, whether during a move or just for an extra-large dinner party.

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Turn an old mattress into a daybed. Getting a bigger bed? That old mattress deserves better than being tossed out. Mattresses can be reused to make a daybed that’s perfect for a home office or den.

Buy a minimalist bed frame (or reuse the one you had) and push it against a wall, or choose one with sides. Pile on a few pillows and you’ve got a comfortable sofa for lounging and a spare bed for guests.

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Change the legs to change the table. Often, the feature that determines the use of a table is the legs, while the part that really has value is the top — especially true when a table is made with a quality piece of stone or wood.

If you have a great table or console but nowhere to use it in a new home, consider replacing, adding, shortening or extending the legs to bring it to a new height. This can turn a small dining table into a coffee table, a chest into a media unit, or even a sideboard into a vanity.

Tip: Hairpin legs like the ones shown here are readily available online in various sizes, and give furniture a stylish contemporary twist. You can even use this trick to raise or lower a sofa, or just to give a furniture piece a new modern look.

Swap instead of buying or selling. Sure, these days there are lots of places to sell used furniture online. However, it can be hard to get good value for your piece, as people will often pay less than half of the original price, and sometimes much less.

Consider swapping your pieces instead, either with a friend or through a local swap meet or online group. Don’t worry who is getting the very best value in the trade; just make sure you end up with furniture that’s a better fit for your home, and know you couldn’t have gotten the same deal selling to a secondhand shop.

Use an old dining table as a desk. One of the great advantages of a home office is that it doesn’t have to look and feel so much like a typical office. If you have a perfectly good dining table that’s now a little small, consider recycling it as a spacious desk. You’ll enjoy having the extra room to spread out, and the space will feel much more personal.

Small Space Residence

Extend curtains with a stripe. If your new space has higher ceilings, taller windows or a different window layout (which is practically guaranteed), you may find yourself in need of completely new draperies — or at least it might seem so.

You can extend your drapery panels fairly easily by having a stripe of contrasting material added to the top, bottom or sides to achieve the correct length or width and create a pleasing color-block effect.

Alternatively, you can merge the panels from multiple windows to cover one window instead, so the fabric all matches. You can use, say, multiple panels from a past living room to cover a larger window in a new dining room.

Break up a sectional. The fact that a sectional was purchased to fit together a certain way doesn’t mean it absolutely has to stay in that configuration. Often the pieces can be reconfigured into a new layout that might fit a new space better.

Try incorporating a low or seat-height ottoman-coffee table (around 18 inches tall, depending on your sofa) to create a corner where no corner existed before, and shift a section over to expand the amount of usable seating area.

Use almost anything as a low table. Designers often praise stool-tables as multifunctional design superheros, but really so many items can serve double duty as a small table or seat.

Consider how pieces like chests, chairs (especially durable indoor-outdoor seats), crates and the like could be used to act as a small table in the bathroom, at the foot of the bed, on the patio — the list goes on and on, and the results are often beautifully unique.

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Use a desk as a nightstand. Speaking of inventive tables, an older desk or similar-size console or cabinet can make a very elegant nightstand. Don’t worry about having a matching pair; you can use something completely contrasting on the other side and celebrate the asymmetry. The layout will be anchored by the bed, so it will still look balanced and centered regardless of the different tables.

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Take down walls (in your mind). Living with a piece of furniture in a particular room for years and years can sometimes make you associate that piece with that room forever. However, often the best place for an old favorite in a new home is in a completely different room. Take down these mental walls and imagine any piece in a new space.

Move pieces to different rooms just to see them in a new light before you settle on where you think they should go. A side chair can suit an office, a chest of drawers from a bedroom can be moved to a dining room — the possibilities really are endless once you’re willing to do a little experimenting.

Which Weekend Projects Have the Biggest Return on Investment?

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These DIY home improvements could help your home sell faster – and for more money!

The following is a guest post by Erin Vaughan from Modernize

Lace up your work boots, weekend warriors—it’s time to get busy! If you’re looking to improve your home’s value or make money back when you resell, you’ve come to the right place.

You’d be surprised at how much you can boost your ROI just by choosing the right kind of home improvement project. Unlike what you may have heard before, there’s no need to go for a full kitchen remodel or an addition when trying to boost your home’s value. There are plenty of improvements out there that could return nearly all of the money you put down when you resell—without having to pay a contractor first. So get out your drill, saw, and calculator and get started with one of these projects that you can have on the books in a mere 48 hours or less!

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Kick Tired Outdoor Decor to the Curb

As the first thing buyers see when you sell, exterior decor ranks high on any homeowner’s list of improvements. In fact, many landscaping projects will return you over 100% of your investment.

Adding a new stone or brick patio, lining a pathway with pavers, or even just buying some brightly-colored planters and trimming the hedges all add significantly to your home’s desirability quotient. Even your greenest home repair newbies are well-equipped to handle most landscaping jobs!

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Fluff Up Your Attic Insulation

It’s easy to get wrapped up in projects that deliver instant results—but buyers will be looking at more than your home’s aesthetics. Your property’s internal systems, like your plumbing and heating, will all be on the line, too.

Even if you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, there are a number of different updates you can DIY for long-term energy savings on your utility bills. Specifically, many older homes can benefit from attic insulation projects, which you can tackle yourself after learning the ropes.

Improving your attic insulation can net you an energy savings of anywhere from 10 to 50 percent. In older homes, builders often used insulation with an inadequate R-value, or they left attics unconditioned with no insulation at all. Considering that energy-efficient homes tend to have higher property values, particularly in locations where electricity costs are high, upgrading to an R-value of 30 to 60 is definitely a project that gives back—both in terms of finances and through a cozier home!

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Give Drafts the Cold Shoulder

A great project to pair with your insulation upgrade is an attic floor sealing update. In fact, many parts of your home can probably benefit from air sealing, which keeps conditioned air from slipping through cracks and gaps in the walls and floors. In the attic, pay particular attention to the gaps around holes for wires and pipes, recessed lights, and your furnace flue or duct chase way.

Make sure to head downstairs and check for cracks that may have formed in your window caulking. Some 40 percent of heating and air conditioning may be lost through a home’s windows, so even minor updates here can make a real difference. Be sure to use silicone caulking, which is water resistant and won’t shrink as much as acrylic will over time.

If your windows are badly warped, drafty, or show signs of condensation between the glass, it may be time for a full window replacement. You’ll probably need to engage a contractor for that—but there are many energy efficient windows available today that can keep your home snugly fit—especially since you won’t be worrying about your utility bills.

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Front-and-Center Upgrades

Front door replacements have some of the highest ROIs of any home improvement project out there—the overhead is low, since your average steel entry door costs between $200 and $500. But the returns are high. In fact, in some regions, a new front entry door can net over 100 percent of your initial investment!

The beauty of this project lies in how simple it is. No matter your skill level, you can probably wrestle a door off its hinges and install a new one—and it won’t take you a whole weekend. A door can easily be dressed up with an eye-catching coat of exterior paint or some flashy hardware. Plus, if you’re replacing a hollow-core door, you’ll see some energy savings as well, since solid models are much more energy-efficient.

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Lighten Up a Little

Anything you can do to brighten up darker rooms will add lots of appeal to your home. In particular, homebuyers have been drawn lately to bright, open interiors that offer plenty of options in the lighting department.

Painting is one of the cheapest ways to get there. At $40 per gallon, you’re definitely not going to break the bank with this project. If you think you might put your house on the market soon, go for a neutral tone that will appeal to a wider audience—but don’t think you have to stick to just plain old whites and beiges. Many designers now consider light blushes, pale blues, and silvers as part of the neutral palette, and these colors will open up darker interiors as well. That’s one way to let in the light—without weighing down your credit card bills!


About the Writer

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Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

7 Awesome Attic Remodel Ideas to Renew Your Space

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Transform your attic from a storage space to a living space with one of these great ideas.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

Finding additional space for a home office, movie den or playroom is difficult for many homeowners. But if your home has an unfinished attic, you could have the ideal space for the perfect home update. Here’s a quick look at some attic transformation ideas:

An Attic Bathroom Retreat

No room for an extra bathroom? Better Homes & Garden has an excellent concept for an attic bathroom that doubles as a retreat. Attic bathrooms are a perfect spot for beautiful skylights, large Jacuzzi tubs and sprawling vanities. Also, an elevated bathroom will offer more privacy and relaxation than shared or main-floor options.

A Quiet Home Office

Your attic is prime real estate for a home office. You can set up a complete office with plush chairs, a conference table and a sitting area. Or, go for a simple, distraction-free space with a single work area. Your ability to tailor the space to your needs is the beauty of an attic home office.

An Elevated Man Cave

The loftiest space in your home isn’t a typical location for a man cave. After all, the concept of a cave is often associated with being underground. Nevertheless, your attic is a great place to entertain friends and family during the big game.

A Family Theater

Your attic is a great place to enjoy an in-home theater experience. You can create a cozy space for the family to snuggle under blankets and enjoy a show on the big screen. If you want to really go all out, you can get the latest in home theater technology – just be aware of the weight!

A Master Suite

As families grow, or your expectations of a master bedroom change, the attic could be the perfect place to establish a master suite. Depending on the space, you can build walk-in closets, set up a seating area for reading and relaxing and still fit in your queen- or king-size bed. The best part of this attic remodel concept is its privacy.

A Children’s Playroom

The clutter of children’s’ toys can easily take over your home. Remodeling your attic into a playroom is a good way to reclaim your home. As an added benefit, a playroom will give your children a place to play that is away from busy areas like living rooms and kitchens.

A Teenager’s Bedroom

Remodeling your attic to fit your teen’s needs is another great home solution. Your teenager will get the privacy they need and you’ll get an extra bedroom to turn into a guest room or office. Just make sure the walls are thick enough should they stomp around or play music loudly – you don’t want to disturb the neighbors or yourself at night.

Conclusion

Your attic doesn’t have to remain a place for storage. There are a lot of ways to transform that unused space into the perfect solution for you and your entire family.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

More Love Less Clutter: A Guide to Moving in Together

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Read this before moving in with a significant other.

By NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

It’s sweetheart month and you’ve found the one! Sure there’s music, trumpets and fireworks, but mostly it’s just about finding that someone who you want to share your remote control. When you find that special someone that feels like home, moving in together is often the next step. While cohabitation is an exciting step forward in any relationship, merging two homes, decor styles and closets can be a challenge. Moving in with your significant other is more than just moving in with a roommate, it’s about finding a balance and creating a home together.

So, how do you reduce the landmines scattered through the experience of moving in together? Like most things moving related, it’s all about the planning. Tackling difficult decisions before the moving trucks arrive will prevent your shared space from turning into a war zone on moving day. Here are eight tips for making moving in with your partner more about the love and less about the stuff.

Clear Communication

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Instead of speaking negatively or critically of your partner’s furniture or strange collector items it’s probably a good idea to ask why he/she is attached to certain things. Is it a family heirloom? Moving unearths a lot of memories and emotional baggage and sometimes it’s hard to deal with it all at once. Listening and showing an interest goes both ways, make sure you are as invested in his/her important items as much as they are. Perhaps, giving it to a family member or putting it into storage is an option. Asking ahead of time in a respectful manner will give each other time to think in a cool-headed manner.

Pick a Floor Plan

Before your move, it’s a good idea to make a simple floor plan of your new place and decide how to use each space. Take important measurements beforehand and plan out what furniture fits where. You might find his couch fits better than yours into the new space. A floor plan will also help the movers move your items and boxes a lot faster.

Blend Styles

Try to pick an aesthetic you both agree on using Pinterest boards to pin styles you both like. If you have very different styles, find a neutral style that can fuse both in the details. You might love shabby chic details while he’d prefer modern industrial loft style, but together you create industrial farm house, that blends the two together.

Take Inventory

Before you pack take an honest inventory of both places. If you have duplicates decide which is in better condition or which fits best in the new shared home. If you are choosing to start fresh sell, recycle or donate your unwanted items. Finding out what you have already, what you need and what you can’t do without, will help you scale down on how much you are moving before you move.

Give Yourself Some Space

Moving in with your partner might mean taking time away from your things. If there are some items that neither of you will compromise on, but they don’t fit into your new shared space, put them in storage for a while. If after six months you still miss or want that item, you can discuss it again with your partner. If after the time apart you realize you don’t miss the item as much as you thought, take it out of storage and donate or recycle it. When it comes down to it, ask yourself who would you miss more? Your partner or your things?

Edit Closets

Closet space is often a sore spot for couples when moving in together. Moving is a perfect time to de-clutter and clear out all of that clothing you don’t wear. Remember the less you have the less you have to pack or move. Divide your items into three piles: donate, trash and keep. De-cluttering is a cathartic experience so it’s only right you do it yourself, don’t see it as a chance to attack your partner’s closet.

His & Hers

It’s important to create a space to call your own when you’re moving in together. Although you’re probably moving in together to be closer, remember that absence makes the heart grow fonder! Find a little space to call your own; where you decide what goes and how it’s used. Whether it’s a workspace decked out with your unique style or a reading nook with piles of your sassy  pillows, a little space for yourself will allow you to later regroup and compromise regarding the rest of the shared space.

Home is Where Your Heart Is

A new home is a like a blank canvas. Joining two styles creates great possibilities to create something new together. Once you have the basics installed in your new home, as your joint style takes form only buy new decor items little by little,. Try to make something crafty together. Whether you design or order your wall art together, these joint experiences will be the beginning of many happy memories together.

Remember: Love conquers clutter!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services

The Smartest Home Improvements for 2017

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Why not add home improvements to your 2017 resolutions?

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

The New Year is a great time to begin thinking about home improvement projects. Here are a few tasks to kick off in 2017.

Replace Your Garage Door
Your garage door is one of the first things visitors and potential buyers will notice about your home. That’s why it’s important to ensure that yours is in great shape. Consider installing a new garage door if yours is damaged or showing its age.

Insulated garage doors will boost the energy savings of your home. Your garage is an open pocket of air attached to your home. As it gets colder outside, an uninsulated garage will trap cold air against your home, forcing you to spend more on energy bills. Insulated models will keep cold air out and help you eliminate extra spending on utilities.

Install Smart Locks
Smart locks allow you to control and monitor the security of your home through your smart phone. The price of smart locks will vary depending on the features. Most models come with Bluetooth connectivity and remote access.

Get a Nest Thermostat
Learning thermostats will improve the environment in your home and save you money. Smart thermostats learn your heating and cooling habits and automatically adjust your HVAC to meet your needs. You can install a smart thermostat yourself or with the help of a pro.

Complete a Minor Kitchen Remodel
Your kitchen is a busy place. Everyone loves to gather around food and enjoy good conversation while keeping the host or hostess company. If you’re dealing with a cramped kitchen, consider a minor kitchen remodel to help open up your space.

Worried about the cost of a remodel? A kitchen remodel will return 83 percent of its cost at the time of resale, making it one of the better ways to spend your money in 2017.

Update Your Bathroom
Your bathrooms are another great location for home improvements. You don’t have to overhaul the entire room to recoup the cost of your upgrades. Head to your local home improvement store and pick up any of the following items to boost the appearance of your bathrooms:

● New faucet and handles
● Modern mirrors
● New towel racks
● Floating shelves

Channel Your Inner Handyman
You can also tackle some home improvements yourself. It’s as simple as focusing on what’s already in your home rather than what it lacks. Go through your home and check for the following:

● Leaks in the shower
● Leaks in the sink
● Knicks in the drywall

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Pros & Cons: Renovating vs Buying a New Home

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Is it better to renovate a home or buy a new one?

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

After living in your home for a long time, you might decide it’s time to make a move. But if you don’t exactly have the budget for a new home, it might serve you better to remodel your existing home. How do you determine which is the better decision? Here are some considerations to help you make the big choice.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Is staying in your location really important? If you like the neighborhood you’re living in, you have the choice to renovate your home or buy a home in the same neighborhood.
  • Do you have the budget? In locations with affordable homes, you might lean towards buying new. In cities with expensive homes, it might be cheaper to renovate.
  • Can you renovate your home without changing the floor plan? It costs less to renovate your home — almost 50 percent less — when you don’t change the structural elements.
  • Will renovations increase your home’s value? Some remodels and changes increase a home’s value, while others are just money down the drain depending on your local market. You should always consult with a remodeling expert before you embark on big projects to see if they’ll add value.
  • What’s your long-term plan for the home? You shouldn’t make renovations to a home if you don’t have a long-term goal for it. For example, if you live in a two-bedroom house and plan to have a lot of kids, you’ll likely need to move sooner than later. Sometimes it’s just easier to move into a new home.
  • How does moving affect property taxes? Property taxes vary by county, and moving into a new home might mean an increase. Check with a real estate agent and the city itself before to make sure you wouldn’t be paying more taxes as a result of moving.
  • How is your mortgage affected by a move? Buying a new home could mean a lower mortgage, depending on market conditions. You could also end up with the same mortgage — you’ll need to see what real estate pros say and what your best deal could be.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Once you’ve answered some of these questions, you might be leaning more towards one decision than the other. If you need more information on renovation versus buying a new home, here are some of the pros and cons of both decisions.

Relocating

Selling your old place before searching for a new place can be a long, extensive process with an exciting result. And it can be both stressful and arduous if you don’t approach it correctly. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to weigh in the process:

Advantages

  1. New beginnings: You get to start over in a new place — whether it’s down the street or in a new neighborhood, city or state — beginning again with your family and belongings. You get to meet new people, decorate your new home and settle into a new landscape.
  2. Financing options: Once you’ve bought a house the first time, it’s easier the second or third time around to go through the paperwork and purchase process. Your agent will help with title, insurance, taxes and finding a quality lender to help you buy the house.
  3. Income taxes: Depending on your state laws, selling your old home could land you extra money in your pocket without added taxes because of the capital gains exemption (which is up to $250,000 and $500,000 for married taxpayers). There also are eco-related tax credits available if your new home qualifies. You should check with your real estate agent and tax filer.
  4. High costs: Selling a home involves paying your real estate agent and other fees throughout the process. It’s long, complicated and expensive, and you have to be willing to go through it to acquire your new place.
  5. Moving: Moving can be a problematic process because you always find stuff in your old place that you never used. That leads to sorting, throwing away and trying to pack everything within a short timeframe. It’s added stress that can be overwhelming at times.

Disadvantages

  1. High costs: Selling a home involves paying your real estate agent and other fees throughout the process. It’s long, complicated and expensive, and you have to be willing to go through it to acquire your new place.
  2. Moving: Moving can be a problematic process because you always find stuff in your old place that you never used. That leads to sorting, throwing away and trying to pack everything within a short timeframe. It’s added stress that can be overwhelming at times.

Remodeling

While your current home may seem drab at times, remodeling the space allows you create new spaces, update its function to meet your needs and create an ideal home, depending on your budget. However, it comes with a lot of disadvantages that may or may not be worth the investment.

Advantages

  1. Costs less: The cost to remodel your home is less than buying a new home because it’s on a room-by-room basis. You don’t have to remodel everything in your home, which means your budget can flow with what you need to do. Moreover, there are ways to save money on your renovations so that you get a great end product without spending a fortune.
  2. Personal touch: Renovating allows you to change your existing home to meet your personal expectations and desires, as compared to buying a new home that may have a few features you want but not at all. Why spend hundreds of thousands on a new house and update it when you can keep your old home and update it a little at a time?

Disadvantages

  1. Not for major overhauls: If your home needs a complete do-over, then a remodel isn’t for you. It’s not worth the investment to spend thousands of dollars to change every single room in your home when you could buy a new house with all of the updates. It’s better to renovate a few rooms in your house rather than all of them. It’s also not worth it to remodel your house if you’re trying to downsize.
  2. Financing issues: Remodeling requires a homeowner loan, family loan, payments to contractor or vendor loans. You must have home equity, so if you haven’t lived in your home for a long time, it could be hard to get approved.
  3. Construction: Remodeling means your home will be in shambles for days to weeks as the room is updated. You can choose to stay in a hotel — which means spending a few extra dollars — or stay in your home. It’s a bit stressful and loud — and it requires patience, which not every homeowner has.

Conclusion

What’s the best decision for you as a homeowner? Is it time to make the move into a new home, or is yours just in a need of a few fixes? Whichever you choose, get the finances, paperwork and appropriate professionals lined up before your proceed.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Cover image via palm custome builders

 Your Home’s January Honey Do List

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Start 2017 off on the right foot with this list of January resolutions for your home.

Ah, the month of resolutions! Your personal honey do list is sure to be filled with ambitious goals for 2017: get back to the gym, take control of your diet, but what about your home? This month, we’ve rounded up a January to do list to make sure you start the year off on the right foot at home.

1.  Nix Indoor Condensation – Look for indoor condensation on windows and take corrective action. For 7 ways to reduce humidity in your home, check out this great video from Andersen Windows & Doors.

2.  Make a maintenance calendar – Review warranties and product material to check on recommended maintenance for furnace, equipment, appliances, and tools. Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep and service.

3.  Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize – After the holiday decorations come down, your walls can feel a bit dull and empty. January is a great time to add new home decor accessories, like fresh throw pillows or framed photos of the past year’s activities.

4.  Get ready for the big game – Now’s the time to get ready for the ultimate game day. Here are 5 winning football party ideas that will score big.

5.  Organize your files – While most paperwork is now maintained digitally, it’s still important to make sure you’re organized and backed up. Take an afternoon to sort through online statements, contacts and emails that piled up over the holidays. And after all of that hard work, be sure to back up to a hard drive or cloud service.

6.  Sort and toss – Take time to sort through your toiletry products in the bathroom and food items in the pantry. Toss anything that is old or expired and start fresh for the new year.

7.  Warm up your home – In many parts of the country, we’re dreaming of ways to add a little extra warmth around the house. Whether it’s adding weather stripping or a smart thermostat, these 6 easy ways to make your home warmer and cozier this winter are just the trick!

8.  Ready to Move? Do this first – If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2017, make it a resolution to collect these 10 pieces of valuable information well before the spring real estate rush.