Spruce Up your Rental

While of COURSE I am a huge homeownership cheerleader, I know that it’s not always the right time for everyone to buy a place of their own. I know how it feels to live in a rental but desperately want to make it your own. Here are a few tips that can make a huge impact on a rental without breaking the bank or losing your deposit!

Hardware & fixtures: One of the best ways to make a quick impact around your place is lighting and fixtures. As long as you save the originals, you should have no problem easily swapping out drawer pulls, changing out the blah light switch covers, introducing new doorknobs or even installing a trendy ceiling fan or light fixture. You can also consider alternatives like plug-in sconces, swag lighting or big floor lamps. Always get professional help with anything electric and check with your landlord about big projects, but you may even find they love it and want you to leave it when your lease ends!

Mirrors: Dated, giant mirrors in your bathroom can make your space feel impersonal and old school. You can CAREFULLY remove them (make sure to put duct tape in an X over the whole mirror) and install a more chic version. If you have a double vanity, adding two smaller framed mirrors goes leaps and bounds! If you’re not quite ready to take that risk, get a removable frame like this MirrorMate one that snaps into place around your existing mirror.

Walls: At some point, you’ve probably considered painting a wall or two to warm up your space. However, many times that isn’t feasible with requirements to paint it back or restrictions on what shades you can choose. Consider removable wallpaper or a gallery wall to take up maximum space with minimum effort. In the kitchen, employ a solution like TicTac Tiles to temporarily get the Pinterest kitchen of your dreams!

Bathroom: For me, the bathrooms in my rentals weren’t so much a cosmetic problem as a logistical nightmare! I added cute Command Hooks (they make SO many options these days) right by my shower to avoid dripping across the floor to where the DUMB towel bars were installed. If you are lacking a ledge for shaving, this suction-cupped step saved my life! Lastly, a new shower head can make you feel like you’re in a spa in no time. Again, save the original and talk to your landlord, and if that doesn’t fly you can at least give it a good cleaning using this technique to get it running better than ever.

While where you live now might not be your forever home, I hope this inspires you to make a few homey changes!

Thanks to the gals at The DIY Playbook for letting me borrow their image from their swag lighting project. They have tons of their own awesome tips about projects you can do yourself to make your space your own! 

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Homeowner

bridesmaid

Helping a friend plan a wedding can be one of the most selfless, emotional and exciting investments of your 20’s and 30’s. This year alone I will either be in or attending 13 weddings, and y’all, I get it! It’s overwhelming! So many of my friends are delaying homeownership in the interest of helping their friends’ dreams come true but it’s rarely so black and white. Today I’m going to share with you how it’s not only feasible, but actually PRACTICAL to spring for a home in the throes of your bridesmaid duties.

First of all, your organizational skills are at an all-time high. If you’ve never tried to plan a bachelorette party complete with t-shirts, dinners, activities, deposits, and EMOTIONS, then you can’t call yourself a multi-tasker. Let’s all be honest, getting your friends to move in the same direction is like herding cats- vegan, gluten-free, sometimes pregnant, opinionated cats. As a bridesmaid you are constantly meeting deadlines, providing feedback and staying in contact with multiple people. All of these skills are necessary in buying a home and take time to sharpen. Therefore, there’s no reason not to strike while you’re at the top of your game! Plus, if you choose the right Realtor, the pressure will be totally off. They’ll be the ones searching for properties for you, going to bat in negotiations, and even booking appointments with contractors and inspectors.

Next, for every wedding you participate in as a guest or a maid, consider the number of events you’re contributing to. Add up all of the time you spend looking for restaurants with private rooms, begging your apartment complex to extend the time you can have that little room off the lobby, and throwing money at bartenders because your friends drink Prosecco like water. Now, consider a venue that’s free of charge, has no restrictions or time limits, and requires NO Uber for you when you’ve deservingly hit the “Miss-mosa Bar” like a train. That place could be YOUR HOME! You could have the freedom to decorate how you please, avoid hauling decorations or food into someone else’s space, and have free reign to stay as long and be as loud as you’d like. I promise you, when you start to see the dollar signs add up for brunch buffets, gifts and venue deposits, you’ll understand that you could save you and your friends upwards of $1,000 per wedding.

I see you out there with your cute punny hashtags and your t-shirt designs. Girl, you are CREATIVE! Why not apply that creativity to find your home? If you find a flexible, innovative Realtor, you can be open with them about opting for an AirBNB space, garage apartment or in-law suite. Imagine offering a place for your girls to get ready, for local college students to crash or to house family from out of town before a big weekend. Whether you side hustle on Etsy with those “Bride-to-Be” sashes or gain passive income with a short-term rental opportunity, you have options to rake in the dough you need to buy that extra Kitchenaid attachment.

Lastly, if you aren’t capitalizing on the trips you book and the dollars you rack up on your credit card, you are throwing away money. Now, I am by NO MEANS saying to go open up a new line of credit without talking to a mortgage lender or trusted advisor. However, you can upgrade a current account to get flight miles, refer a friend to your preferred card for a bonus, or redeem your accrued points for gift cards and travel perks. You might be bleeding money like no other at this time in your life, but it can pay to spend wisely if you use the right credit card. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has allowed me to redeem multiple plane tickets, hotel stays and gift cards to Nordstrom/Lowe’s/Wayfair.

The bottom line is that homeownership sounds intimidating and is one of the easiest things to put on the back burner. Doing so can be doing yourself a major disservice long term! There’s no reason to build equity for your landlord by investing too much in rent when you could potentially be spending less on a mortgage and a space to call your own!

 

 

 

How Do You Measure a (Real Estate) Year?

Some of the most asked questions I hear as a Realtor begin with “Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.22.46 PM.pngwhen should I…?” So, I compiled a VERY extensive list of all of my advice, broken out for buyers, sellers, homeowners and renters. If you’d prefer to just see a segmented list, click the links below for downloadable lists:

Buyers & Sellers

Renters

Homeowners

January -February

  • Buyers– This is the time of year to get prepared for a busy spring! Begin by finding a Realtor that you love and ask for suggestions on lenders you could meet with. The key is to get pre-approved, determine your budget and get the pieces in place so making an offer is turnkey when you’ve found The One. Consider making suggested improvements to your credit and topping off your savings after establishing your mortgage goals. If you are desperate for a home, there are often homes that went on the market during the late fall or early holiday season that are ready for a price-drop.
  • Sellers- This is your time to prepare as well. Begin interviewing agents to help you determine the value of your home, assist in suggesting repairs and getting the home ready to list. As you clean, paint and prepare your home, consider talking to your agent about a “coming soon” status approaching spring to generate interest while updates are being wrapped up. ALWAYS talk to an agent before doing major work on your home in order to sell it. There’s a chance the return might not be what you are hoping for, and a potential to over-improve your home and make it difficult to sell.
  • Homeowners- Angie’s List shares that “despite the thought of working outside in the cold winter months, this is actually a good time to start an addition. Frozen ground and dry air are better for digging foundations and pouring concrete footers than muddy ground and humidity. If your foundation is completed and the room addition is framed before the rainy season, the space can be under cover during the unpredictable spring weather. You’ll likely have fewer ‘rain days’ where no one works on the construction site. In addition, the winter months tend to be less busy for builders, because everyone is waiting for spring and tax refunds to start their home projects.”
  • Renters: The savings on rentals typically extend from October-April, so this is still a great time to snag a deal. Additionally, if you have a longer lead time and are anxious to start searching, consider a new construction building. Companies often want to complete projects before the busy rental season, and may offer bonuses and discounts on top of being a brand-new property.

March – May

  • Buyers/sellers: This timeframe is considered the “spring market” where activity is at a peak. While you might see a higher inventory, there is also an influx of buyers ready to get outside and find their new home. You might find that intentions aren’t always serious this time of year, as buyers are curious and exploring, and sellers might be testing the waters to see if a high price will generate interest. In this fast-paced season, buyers should be prepared with a budget and your offer terms in your back pocket. Sellers, understand what you would accept and how much you could net from the sale of your home prior to being in an emotional scenario.
  • Renters: Keep in mind that rentals often require 60 day’s notice if you choose to end your lease or pursue another rental. I have in many cases been left paying to break a lease or trying to fill a vacancy because I got excited about a new home, balcony or pool!
  • Homeowners: Due to the weather, this is a better time of year to begin outdoor renovations like sidings and decks. However, this is often the busiest time for builders, so it’s probably when you’ll pay the most money for their time and for materials.

June – September

  • Renters: Rents are often higher in these months when activity is high, especially in the case of a college town. Many people are looking for short term leases during summer internships or moving to new cities to begin jobs. On the flip side, there is a lot of variety and competition between apartment complexes, so discounts are not uncommon.
  • Buyers/Sellers: Consider the pros and cons of listing or searching for a home during this time. You might see a great side of a property and a neighborhood, but you could also be inconvenienced by vacations and holidays.
  • Homeowners: Indoor work like kitchen or bathroom remodelingis great during the summer months. Consider things like grilling outside, washing the dog in the driveway, and all of the options you have for not being cooped up inside while contractors complete work. Surprisingly, roofing projects are often done in the summer, because the roofing material needs certain higher temperatures to seal. If you have a Realtor, ask for trustworthy and reliable contractors that might be able to complete work while you are on vacation so you can avoid the inconvenience altogether!

October-December

  • Buyers/Sellers: Usually if you are seeking a home or hoping to sell your home at this time of year, know that the other party is usually more serious. This is not necessarily the time for curious buyers to hit the market, or for experimenting sellers to put their homes on the market to see what would happen. People are typically more focused on family and friends, so they will be less likely to be searching or wanting people in and out of their homes. Bonus, though, beautifully decorated houses are plentiful and you can find the perfect “Christmas Tree corner” that we all secretly seek during showings.
  • Homeowners: If you need a deal on home improvements and contractors, it could be worth it to consider waiting until during the holidays. Most professionals stay busy leading up to the holidays, so their schedules likely lighten up this time of year.
  • Renters: This is the best time of year to snag affordable rent. According to RentHop, “one-bedroom apartments are between 2.4% and 5.4% cheaper in the winter, while two-bedroom units are between 2.3% and 5.8% more affordable. In dollar figures, that equates to between a $37 and $171 per month savings for one-bedroom rentals and between $36 and $191 for two-bedrooms.”

Image source

Article Sources: MarketWatch, Apartment Guide Blog, Investopedia, Sears Home Services