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Foreclosed On? Thinking Real Estate?

April 30, 2013

While the foreclosure crisis a few years ago did not hit Hawaii quite as hard as other areas of the country that began to look like ghost towns, we are familiar with the devastating effects. As the mortgage industry has gotten back on its feet, and gone from the extremely strict post-crash days to more moderate requirements for buyers, those who’ve struggled with home ownership in the past are looking to buy again. Right now, while the entire state of Hawaii, not just the Gold Coast, is seeing the lowest inventory in a very long time and mortgage rates are starting to climb, everyone wants to dive in. If you’ve deal with a rocky credit history, don’t let that deter you from looking into real estate. Find a reputable lender, get pre-qualified and then take a look out there to see what your options may be.

Below is an article from Realtor.com that explains some of the requirements if you are looking to buy again.

Home Buyers With Foreclosures On Their Credit Get Back In The Game

Real Estate News   |  Jan 28, 2013   |  By: Sam DeBord  |

For Sale SignThere’s an interesting phenomenon happening in the real estate buying cycle.

Now that most of the country is five to seven years out from its real estate peak, and most major cities are actually into the upswing of home prices, distressed homeowners of yesteryear are becoming the home buyers of today.

Rules for qualifying for a mortgage vary widely between lenders and loan programs, but one of the most-often used loans today is the FHA mortgage.

Today’s FHA mortgage requirements for foreclosures and bankruptcies (see your lender for exact details):

  • A foreclosure that was discharged three years ago
  • A bankruptcy discharged two years ago

The initial reaction by many to this situation is: Again? We’ve certainly all seen enough shoddy lending and lax credit practices during the last boom-bust cycle and, on the face of it, this seems like an invitation to more.

However, the details of how these home buyers must qualify diverges widely from the way sub-prime home buyers were qualifying for loans in the past. The new practices, while still generous to the buyer, create far greater protections for the lender and the American public who, in the long run, foot the bill for defaults.

Home buyers with foreclosures and bankruptcies on their records need to show a consistent history of pristine credit since the time of their foreclosure.

Additional FHA requirements (there are more, refer to a lender):

  • On-time bill payment on all credit accounts since the foreclosure/bankruptcy
  • A 640 credit score (responsible credit use is absolutely essential to gain this score 3 years out of foreclosure)
  • A verified down payment (3.5% or higher, depending on the borrower)
  • Upfront and ongoing mortgage insurance (which protects the lender from debts in case the buyer defaults)
  • Significantly lower debt-to-income ratios (ensures the buyer has ample discretionary income to make payments long-term)

Underwriters scrutinize these borrowers’ loan applications far more than an average home buyer. In contrast, during the real estate boom, a buyer could be approved for a mortgage with very little credit history to support it.

Sub-prime mortgage approvals at the height of the real estate boom:

  • 580 credit score
  • 100% Financing or 80/20 1st/2nd mortgages (no money down)
  • Foreclosure 2 years out
  • Bankruptcy 2 years out
  • No income verification
  • Total debt ratios up to 60%

While the changes in lending to borrowers who have past foreclosures and bankruptcies may not satisfy all critics, there are also mitigating factors that underwriters take into consideration. Remember that even though a home buyer’s past foreclosure may have been closed as of three years ago, the banks sometimes take up to a couple of years to push a foreclosure through. That person may have essentially handed the home back to the bank five years ago and been repairing their credit ever since. Underwriters can take this into account.

Moreover, there are many different situations that lead to foreclosure. Certainly some buyers overspent, got in over their heads, and walked away from a bad investment. Those are going to be viewed less favorably by a lender. Others have lost their homes due to job loss, divorce, deaths in the family, and a host of other reasons.

When an underwriter can see that home buyers have been responsible with credit in every instance of their lives except for under one unforeseen loss of income or spouse, there is great reason to believe that these people, under the newer, more restrictive lending guidelines, are a good credit risk. The lender and the public are protected by these buyers paying for mortgage insurance, and their re-introduction to the housing market in a new economy will allow them to re-establish a long-term credit track record and keep the housing market moving.

Sam DeBord is a Realtor® and Managing Broker at Coldwell Banker Danforth & Associates. Find him on SeattleHome.com.

Ready to Go Green?

April 4, 2013

Solar PanelsThe green movement is not new to those of us who live in Hawaii. Living in the islands with a varied & valued ecological system has created a culture aware of the need to respect our environment. When you add the cost of living, rising cost of fuel, and our dependency on fossil fuels for our energy, more and more Oahu residents are looking for eco-friendly alternatives that are also budget friendly. The number of homes with solar panels continues to increase, unique recycling programs to protect our island home from waste dumping appear everywhere, and groups of people dedicated to a clean & efficient Hawaii make strides every day. The article below from Realtor.com shows what we have known for a long time – whether because of concern for the environment or concern for the household budget in a tough economy, green growing and here to stay.

Most Americans Want Eco-Friendly Homes – And Would Pay More For Them  |  By: Deidre Woollard

Eco-friendly homes have gone mainstream: most people would trade in their swimming pools for Energy Star appliances and CFL lighting, according to our survey of realtor.com users.

The desire to be eco-friendly has increased dramatically in recent years. We may commemorate Earth Day in April but many people make a concerted effort to go green in large or small ways all year long. And now, in addition to hybrid cars, biodegradable packaging, and recycling efforts, our users are telling us that they are also increasingly eco-minded when it comes to their homes.

Living Green:

More than 30% of the respondents currently live in an eco-friendly residence and nearly 85% of those we surveyed said they would like to own an eco-friendly home. Eco-friendly residences often use green building materials and low-VOC paint and have other features such as high-efficiency water heaters, energy-conserving insulation, and rainwater collection.

Those who don’t live in an eco-friendly residence are still doing their part to go green: 80% have energy-efficient appliances while almost 75% have energy-efficient lighting. It seems that there is plenty of room to grow when it comes to solar power; just 5% of our respondents indicated that they have solar panels.

It appears that most of us are paying attention to environmental concerns, with the majority of people saying they have been aware of the need for eco-friendly homes for some time. Only 7% of our survey respondents said that the eco-friendly became a concern for them in the past year, with the bulk of respondents indicating that their interest in going green began at least several years ago.

Green Homes, Real Value:

How important is living in a green home to today’s buyer? Nearly 40% of survey respondents told us they would be willing to sacrifice square footage for a more eco-friendly residence. Smaller homes are often greener because they consume less energy and materials. In addition to less space, potential buyers would also be willing to sacrifice other home amenities. A full three quarters of our respondents (75%) would give up the pleasure of their own pool, while 74% would say farewell to the game room.

Their motives aren’t purely altruistic: survey respondents also indicated that they are aware that eco-friendly features have real value. A total of 70% of respondents believe that eco-friendly features add monetary value to a residence, while 68% would pay more money for an eco-friendly residence.

Eco-friendly homes aren’t just good for the environment; they can also be good for our wallets. No wonder then that energy efficiency features were very desirable for our respondents. Energy-efficient air conditioning topped the list at 86% of those surveyed opting for it. Also, 85% wanted energy-efficient appliances, 79% were interested in energy-efficient lighting, and 76% had their heart set on water-conserving appliances.

For more information on going green check out the Green Your Home section of Realtor.com, full of tips for making your home more eco-friendly.

The Front Yard & the Back Yard of Hawaii’s Gold Coast

February 28, 2013

The Gold Coast of HawaiiIf you talk to mainland visitor’s to Hawaii, many of them are surprised by the lack of yards in our paradise home. However, if you visit the Gold Coast in Honolulu, we actually have larger front & back yard’s than normal. We have the wonders of the Pacific Ocean as our back yard and Kapiolani Park as the front yard! Whether we are swimmer’s or runner’s, every resident can indulge their active lifestyle to the fullest.

For those of you who live here, this is a reminder of all the privileges our island home provides us. Take a step away from the busy-ness of life for just a moment and let’s find something to re-energize your workout routine or perhaps an idea for a special afternoon with your family.

Our front yard is one of the busiest, and largest, in the nation. One hundred seventy acres of vast green open spaces in the middle of a busy city. If you visit Kapiolani Park early in the morning before heading off to work or come to unwind after work, you will be presented with the site of a true community out and about in the park. Runner’s, jogger’s, walker’s, Pilates and yoga classes, children playing soccer, brisk tennis matches, the list of daily activities is endless. On the weekend, we don’t have to search for parking to enjoy the various festivals and events that come to our park. We can step out the door on a Sunday afternoon with a picnic basket and enjoy an idyllic day, or simply open our lanai doors to listen to the music from concerts at the Waikiki Shell drifting in. If you love animals, you can take a short walk to the zoo and check in on your favorite “pet”. Visit http://www.kapiolanipark.net/ to learn more about the history of your front yard!

If you prefer a quieter outdoor life, perhaps you prefer to step off into our back yard – the Pacific Ocean. Crystal clear water, beautiful ocean life, and the relaxing experiences available as you simply let the waves carry you away from life for a time. Morning and evening swims provide exercise, private beaches are perfect for sunbathing or a quiet afternoon with the family. The beauty of the ocean creates beautiful, ever-changing artwork to decorate our homes, but there is so much more to enjoy than the view.

We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a step back and being reminded of all the amazing perks we have living & working on the Gold Coast. Don’t let life get so busy that you can’t find time to enjoy them this winter while others are huddling inside out of rain, snow and cold weather!

Gulp…Tax Time Cometh

January 26, 2013

2013 has brought some unexpected tax surprises – even to accountants! Home ownership and real estate investment have always been and continue to be key tax deductions – but to receive the full benefits, you have to do it right. Whether you are working through your Federal or Hawaii state taxes, make sure you have the right numbers and get them in the right places. And if you can, we highly recommend contacting a good local accountant who understands all of the quirks at both levels of tax entities to make sure you receive all of the deductions you are due! If you’re not seeking help from an accountant, here are a few tips from  at HouseLogic – good luck!

9 Easy Mistakes Home Owners Make on Their Taxes

TaxesDon’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are — and are not — entitled to. Running afoul of any of these 9 home-related tax mistakes — which tax pros say are especially common — can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2013, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

This deduction may not be as good as it seems. It’s complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. Hampton’s advice: Claim it only if it’s worth those drawbacks. If so, here’s what to  know about what you can write off.

Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit

If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009, 2010, or 2011 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvements in 2012 — or will in 2013 — such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done. Fill out Form 5695.

Part II of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be incredibly complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

You can deduct mortgage interest only up to $1 million of mortgage debt, says Meighan. If you have $1.2 million in mortgage debt, for example, deduct only the mortgage interest attributable to the first $1 million.

This article was original published in Jan. 2011.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

New Year Financial Resolutions

January 14, 2013

A new year usually comes with new resolutions. 2013 is no different and in some ways, that resolution seems to be heightened in many of us. If working through your finances, getting out of debt, or budgeting more effectively were on your list this past January 1st, a good first step is to look at the largest expense that most of us have – our homes. As you know, in Hawaii and here on the Gold Coast, real estate is more expensive than most places. We live in paradise, but it comes with a price tag. That mortgage check is significant. Now, imagine you could reduce your interest rate by 1 percent – do you think it’s worth it? How about if you knew that one percent on a $300,000 mortgage could reduce monthly payments by almost $200 a month? We can put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional who can help you explore your options now, before rates go up. If you’re comfortable with your current monthly payments, and you’re financial goal is to reduce the overall cost of your mortgage, check out this article by Lee Nelson from Yahoo! Real Estate.

Five smart tips to reduce your mortgage costs

It’s hard doling out those big bucks every month for your mortgage, but luckily there are ways to lessen the burden.

Every month, you cringe as you make that mortgage payment. It’s about as unpleasant as getting a root canal. You get the point – it’s miserable.

So how can you soften the blow of paying that much money on a regular basis? Glad you asked. There are several smart ways to change or reduce the amount you pay. One of the biggest drops could happen if you refinance.

“People can see a lot of savings with their mortgage, especially these days with refinancing,” says Tim Sebetka, chair of the Iowa Mortgage Association.

What are some other ways you could save on mortgage payments? Keep reading to learn more…

No. 1 Smart Way to Save on Mortgage: Refinance

Could you imagine having thousands of extra dollars in your bank account each year because your mortgage costs were cut drastically? Good news: Because rates are at historic lows, refinancing could help make that happen.

“When the rates got down to 5 percent five years ago, people thought that was great. They never thought it would get any lower,” Sebetka says. “Well they did, and they keep going down.”

So, if interest rates were higher when you initially took out your mortgage, you might want to consider how refinancing could save you money. Even an interest rate of .5 percent lower could help cut costs, according to an example from the Federal Reserve’s mortgage refinancing guide.

The Federal Reserve, which oversees national monetary policy and banks, compared the monthly payments on a 30-year fixed-rate loan of $200,000 at 5.5 percent and 6 percent, and found that a .5 percent decrease in interest rates yielded a savings of $7,560 over the span of 10 years. Again, that’s from lowering your interest rate by just .5 percent.

But before you pick up the phone to call your lender, remember that refinancing has fees and closing costs involved. You need to talk with a financial or mortgage professional to see if refinancing is the best option for your situation.

No. 2 Smart Way to Save on Mortgage: Shorten Mortgage Life

What’s another way to save on mortgage costs? Shortening the term of your loan.

In fact, shorter-term loans, which tend to have a lower interest rate than long-term loans, could save you a lot of money over the life of your loan – but only if you feel comfortable making a bigger payment each month, notes the Federal Reserve.

For example, the Federal Reserve compares the total interest costs for a fixed-rate loan of $200,000 at 6 percent for 30 years with a fixed-rate loan at 5.5 percent for 15 years:

  Monthly payment Total interest
30-year loan @ 6 percent $1,199 $231,640
15-year loan @ 5.5 percent $1,634 $94,120

Gold Coast Real Estate

As noted above, while larger monthly payments can be a bit tough to handle, the total savings in interest with a shorter-term loan should help ease the pain a bit.

And because of these potential savings, many homeowners are opting for a 15-year loan.

“We are doing a lot more 15-year loans than we have in the past,” Sebetka says.

So, if you decide that your wallet can handle the larger payment each month, this is a great money-saving option to consider.

No. 3 Smart Way to Save on Mortgage: Make Extra Payments

Yes, you read that right. Making extra payments – while it doesn’t sound like it – will help you save money on your mortgage costs.

Here’s the logic, according to the Federal Reserve’s mortgage refinancing guide: “By paying a little extra on principal each month, you will pay off the loan sooner and reduce the term of your loan.”

For example, the Federal Reserve says that by adding $50 each month to your principal payment on a $200,000, 30-year loan at 6 percent, you could reduce your loan term three years and pocket more than $27,000 in interest costs.

So, can you see how extra payments now, can pay off later?

If it’s hard for you to come up with some extra money each month, think of the disposable cash you are using for those fancy lattes or going out to dinner three times a week. It all adds up, Sebetka says, so you’ll have to figure out what to sacrifice to come up with that extra cash.

No. 4 Smart Way to Save: Eliminate Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Have you seen that little acronym PMI on your mortgage bill and wondered why it’s costing you extra every month?

It stands for private mortgage insurance. And if you put less than 20 percent down when you first bought your house, your lender probably required you to take out PMI to protect them against you defaulting on the loan, Sebetka says.

So how big of a dent is PMI making on your bank account each month? Well, it can cost between .5 to 1 percent of the entire loan amount, says Sebetka.

To put this percentage into perspective, just consider that the median cost for single-family homes was $186,100 during the third quarter of 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. That means you could be spending $155 a month on the insurance, Sebetka says.

It’s also good to note that “the PMI is based on the value of your home,” he says. So if you’ve made improvements – such as renovating the kitchen or adding new siding to enhance the value of your home, that can also offset the PMI, too.”

Luckily, there are a few ways to get rid of your PMI. One option is called a piggy back loan, he says. For example, if you only have 10 percent down on your mortgage but don’t want to pay PMI, you can opt to take out a second mortgage with another lender. The first lender handles 80 percent of your loan. The other lender offers up a 10 percent loan of the home’s purchase price (or refinancing amount), so you would have the 20 percent down to avoid the insurance.

No. 5 Smart Way to Save: Reevaluate Your Home’s Value

Do you know what your house is currently valued at? If you’re not sure, it might be a good idea to find out, because if your home value has dropped, you could potentially save money on property tax.

Perhaps that’s why Sebetka offers this action item for homeowners: “Have your home reassessed and see if the value has declined.” If it has, “then, you will have less property taxes to pay.”

To offer some insight into just how important this tip is, let’s take a look at how far home values have dropped. According to S&P/Case-Shiller’s home price index, which looks at single-family homes, home prices have fallen more than 35 percent in some 20 major markets from their peak in 2005 and 2006.

So, if you’re looking to save on mortgage costs, do some research on the value of your home. To get started, visit the website of your local county tax assessor to gather information.

New Year, New Home?

December 31, 2012

Happy New YearIt is December 31st and whether you write down resolutions or simply think about things that you would like to see change in 2013, most of us see a new year as a fresh start in one area or another of our lives. Did you know that the number two most popular New Year’s Resolution is to become more organized? (Number 1 is, no surprise, to lose weight. Check out the statistics on the top 10 here from Statistic Brain.) Whether you plan to move this year (to the beautiful Gold Coast of Hawaii, of course, right?:) ) or not, the satisfaction of a clean, organized home is amazing. Sound intimidating? Small steps & new habits still accomplish goals! Here are 5 tips from an article on HGTV.com to get you motivated & started on meeting that goal.

From those of us at Gold Coast Real Estate, we want to wish you a very Happy, Healthy & Organized New Year!

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home  |  By Melinda Fulmer

Every year when January rolls around you vow to lose weight, save money or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home?

In the spirit of new beginnings, HGTV has consulted the experts and come up with some resolutions that will make your home a more beautiful, efficient, clean and green place in the coming year. Here are our five picks for the best home improvement resolutions for 2011 and how to achieve them:

1. Streamline the stuff

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter.

Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)

This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in, says Antoinette Nue, an Atlanta consultant who specializes in helping people simplify and go green.

“Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken,” she says.

Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays, says Stuart McCormick, a designer with Liz Levin Interiors in Washington D.C.

Clear your counters of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.

2. Make it safe and sound

Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they’re not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk.

First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. And with test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there’s no reason not to get right on that.

While we’re on the subject of deadly gas, make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.

Watch out for dryer lint. We know you clean the little trap inside the door, but most people neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it’s highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year.

Make sure your house can breathe. Hickory Hills, Ill. home inspector Jack McGraw is always surprised at how many people’s bathrooms and attics aren’t vented to the outside (or the vents are covered over with shingles.) This makes you a prime candidate for mold.

And if you’re considering a remodel — and your home was last built or remodeled before 1978 — consider testing for lead paint and asbestos flooring. It will have to handled properly during removal, or particles can be released into the air for you to ingest.

3. Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint in the process)

When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference.

Not so, says Bob Schildgen, who writes the “Hey Mr. Green” column for Sierra magazine. It just takes a little old-fashioned common sense.

The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:

  • Remember your mom’s advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.
  • Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads.
  • Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.
  • Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.
  • Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.
  • Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.

4. Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean

Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control from Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning and owner of the Clean Team housekeeping service in San Francisco.

Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night – no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:

  • Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths – in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
  • Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder’s apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)
  • Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
  • For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.

5. Get your place ready for entertaining

Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?

You don’t have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates says designer McCormick.

One easy update that makes your home seem more “finished” is the addition of plants, she says.

“They bring in new energy and help clean the air,” she says. “And it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget.”

A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter that complements your existing color scheme will do the trick.

Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

Money Making, Not Money Saving?

December 12, 2012

Tis’ the season for spending! But when that starts to get stressful and you’re not sure where to turn, maybe changing the perspective a little toward money making will help to restore your more even keel. The article below is from HouseLogic and offers some unconventional advice on how your home can bring you some additional income – maybe even enough to cover this year’s holiday shopping spree! Not all of these ideas will work for those of us living on the Gold Coast for lack of space, but they may spark an idea for residents of the North Shore or West Oahu who have more space & land. (Article SPOILER ALERT!) With many film crews for movies and TV shows like Hawaii Five-O and Hunger Games here for filming, you never know what could happen – your home could earn some money in a number of ways.

After you read this article, put your thinking cap on. Saving money is great, but most of us would prefer to make a little extra. Look for the unconventional…and then the boost in the bank account!

5 Ways to Make Money Off Your House  |  Published: November 01, 2010

HouseLogic

Wind TurbineFrom wind turbines to movie shoots, we look at a few ways to make your home work for you.

Your home is a big investment. And like the best investments, it can make you some serious money. There are people happy to stay in your spare room, park in your driveway, or even pitch a tent in your back yard—and pay good money for it. Don’t let opportunities slip by. Follow these tips to turn your property into a money-maker.

Rent out your driveway

Do you have more parking space than cars to fill it? If you live near an event space or major urban center, you can collect parking fees from attendees willing to pay for proximity. The price you can charge varies with the supply and demand of the area. In Boston, someone can expect to earn about $100 per month. But make sure your home maintenance is up to snuff so as not to put off potential “customers.” Bonus: You’ll impress the neighbors with your rotating fleet of different cars.

Make your home a star

If your property’s got the face for close-ups, you might want to rent it out for film or catalog shoots. Shop it around to film studios, production companies, and advertising firms. If a scout picks your house, you can earn about $2,000 to $4,000 per day—not to mention the chance to watch your abode on the silver screen.

Go green

If you have a soft spot for the environment, you might choose to invest in alternative energy sources in order to sell electricity back to the power company. The two main methods of producing energy at home are solar panels and wind turbines.

Both will require a significant investment upfront. A wind turbine requires at least an acre of property as well as other location criteria. But the payback is worth it. Mother Earth will thank you, and you’ll get money back in your pocket. The amount per kilowatt varies by state, so be sure to talk to your local utility about the details.

Go back to the land

Those with a green thumb and a couple hundred square feet of growing space can turn their seasonal produce yield into regular income. You can save up to $23 per plant by building an edible garden with big ticket vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans. Sometimes, money does grow on trees.

Take in boarders

Whether you have a spare bedroom or a whole spare house, there are people who want to rent it. If your abode has a certain charm and you’re willing to put in marketing hours, you can transform unused space into a monthly moneymaker.

Bed & breakfast: Have a cozy home and like playing host or hostess? A bed and breakfast might be for you. Costs and revenue vary greatly by the number of rooms: The more rooms at, say, $100, the more potential income, but that also means higher costs for upkeep.

Rent your house: If you go on vacation or are otherwise out of town for extended periods, you might consider renting out the whole house. Be prepared for a commitment of time and money to make it work, or just hire a professional property manager for peace of mind. To calculate how much you could earn, check out the rental prices of other homes in your neighborhood.

Camping space: For those who don’t necessarily want strangers in the house but live near the wilderness or a multi-day festival, there’s money to be earned from campers. A number of peer-to-peer services can put you in touch with campers who will pay to stay on your land. And they come with their own tent, though you may want to invest in an outhouse.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-taxes-financing/home-money-making-tips/#ixzz2EtyAY55Z

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