Shopping for Your Home

Monday, March 17, 2014

10 Ways To Spruce Up Your Home For Under $100

10 Ways To Spruce Up Your Home For Under $100
             Written by Jaymi Naciri

1. Update your bathroom. You can change your faucets and fixtures out for under $100, but if you're not super DIY, you may have to deal with plumbers and electricians, which can bust your $100 budget. Instead, take those dusty old tulip glass light shades and swap them for something more modern. You can find shades in a variety of styles, like this four-pack for $45. And, you can apply the same update to a ceiling fan. And, if your fan has ugly blades, you can easily switch those out to shiny new ones inexpensively.
2. Get your carpets cleaned. Yeah, it seems like a no-brainer, but it's an easy fix that can make a big difference in how you feel about your home. Stains just not coming out? A throw rug can help ground the room or create a focal point. Check your favorite home décor store, or try Costco, which sometimes has 8x10 rugs for $99.
3. Paint something. Paint everything! We talk about the power of paint all the time, and how a simple can of color can help transform a space. For $30, you can turn a drab room into a dramatic room, take a too-bold space down a notch or turn a boring bedroom into as romantic lair. All it takes is a trip to the local paint or big box store, a steady hand, and a few rolls of tape.
4. Buy some new drapes. Think it's too expensive? These drapes from Target start under $20.
And they come in two other colors and a couple of different sizes.
5. Paint your front door. Don't underestimate the impact it can have on your curb appeal. Not sure of what color to go? Blue is a great Feng Shui color, says Houzz. Yellow evokes mental clarity, perception, understanding, wisdom, confidence, curiosity, humor and merriment." Red is welcoming. Want more ideas? Visit Houzz.
6. Plant some flowers. Even if you don't have a green thumb, you can pretty up your yard without too much effort or money. Check out this easy spring planting guide from P. Allen Smith.
7. Inject some color. Hate your couch or need to freshen it up? We've been there. But when $2,000 isn't in the budget, a throw and a few pillows can make a world of difference. HomeGoods and TJ Maxx are great options for affordable décor. Or hit up online marketplace Overstock, where these statement zebra print pillows start at $20.
8. Get new furniture for the backyard. You don't have to buy a full-blown set. Look at these colorful Adirondack chairs from Lowes. They're plastic, which makes them easy to care for, and they're $18, which makes them easy on the budget.
9. Jazz up your table. If your dining room table has seen better days, refinish it. Stain or paint can give it a whole new look, as long as you're willing to put in a little elbow grease. A sander can make the job easier, and you can get an entry-level version for about $50.
10. Celebrate the season. Any season. In Spring, give your home an instant lift with a centerpiece of tulips. Or paint a piece of furniture bright yellow. You can't be unhappy when you're walking past a yellow table.
With a little effort and a little money, you can make updates to your home that will make it feel fresh again.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Written by  on Monday, 10 March 2014 1:45 pm

United States military veterans are not a protected class for purposes of anti-discrimination actions. But, in some areas, they should be. My market (south Orange County, California) is one of those areas. OK, ok, to be precise, it is not vets, per se, who are treated in a discriminatory fashion, it is vets who want to use V.A. financing.
That this is an issue could certainly be surprising to many real estate agents. There are many parts of the country where V.A. financing is the bread and butter of the business. There are market areas where V.A. and FHA financing are the norm. If you work in one of those areas, you might find it almost incomprehensible that many -- probably most -- agents in areas such as this one have never been involved in a transaction in which V.A. financing was used.
The problem, then, becomes this: When an offer is brought that involves V.A. financing, it is liable to be dismissed out of hand. Why? Because the agent -- never having had first-hand experience with V.A. financing -- relies on horror stories and bad-news experiences handed down from days long gone by.
Thus we thank our good friend, Kevin Budde, one of the brighter lights in our part of the lending world, for providing the inspiration and most of the factual content, for today's column.
Kevin says that there are four myths about V.A. financing that inhibit agents in our, and similar, areas from using and/or accepting V.A. financing.
Myth number one is that sellers will have to pay points based upon the loan amount. This belief dates back to days when the (maximum) interest rate was set periodically by the V.A. In those days, if market rates available to lenders were higher than the rate set by the V.A., the veteran could not make up the difference, so the seller had to. Today, V.A. loan rates float with the market. (At the time of this writing they are about 4.125%). There is no longer a ‘gap' that the seller has to fill.
The second myth is that sellers have to pay additional closing cost fees that the veteran is not allowed to pay. Undertoday's rules, the veteran pays customary buyer's fees in the market area.
A third ancient seller objection to V.A. loans is that V.A. appraisals often require "fix it" work (paint window sills, replace cabinet handles, etc.) that increases the seller's costs. Kevin points out that now, "…the focus is on health and safety issues of the property which are deficiencies that could cause harm to the occupant." These would need to be addressed in any kind of transaction.
Finally, there are those who still believe that V.A. insured loans take much longer to close than do conventional ones. It just isn't -- or needn't be -- so. If everyone does their homework and submits information on time, V.A. loans close within the same time frames that conventional loans do.
V.A. loan guarantee limits vary from area to area. In Orange County, California, the limit -- with no down payment -- is $687,500. In Monterey County, California, it is $500,000. In Arapahoe County, Colorado, it is $425,000. But a vet can buy above the limit by putting down 25% of the amount above the limit. Thus, here in this area, a vet could buy an $800,000 house putting only $28,125 (3.5%) down. What former E-4 Corporal wouldn't want to do that?
V.A. financing opens up purchasing possibilities to a significant number of qualified buyers. Sellers -- or their agents -- who don't want to accommodate that are making a serious mistake.
Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors®. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way.