Quick Rental Fixer Uppers

Keeping your rental unit looking its best can be tricky. You want it to look great but also don’t want to spend a lot because it’s purpose is to bring you income and not the other way around. Fortunately, there are some low cost ways to ensure your rental looks modern and well groomed before your next potential renter tours their future abode.


 

The first place renters are going to see is the front door area such as the foyer or entryway. This area should be a large focus since it is what creates the first impression. Tile that matches the kitchen or vinyl is a clean refreshment to this area that will tie it together. The kitchen is also a main interest of buyers. You will want the cabinetry to be appealing. If they need a little love then an easy way to do this is to wipe on a little liquid scratch if they are in fairly good condition. If they are in need of loads of love, then cover them in contact paper or paneling. Once accomplished and they still don’t meet your satisfaction, replace the knobs with some cool trendy ones to finish the motif.


 

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The sink and faucet fixtures should be in good repair. Unable to replace them right now? Paint them. Yes, I said it. There are plenty of tutorials out there on your to paint your sink and fixtures, and not the terrible paint jobs like the painted tub in your college efficiency. I was a non-believer until my own mother, who is craftier in ways I will never be, painted her sink a dark gray and it was stunning. No one could even tell that she didn’t buy it like that.


 

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Light fixtures and ceiling fans are a cheap investment that can update a space. Choose fixtures that are all matching colors and finishes to be consistent throughout the rooms. Are your switch plates ugly? New switch plates and plugs can also achieve a fresh and subtle look. New trim can liven up your borders. Especially if you current trim is cracked or worn, it can make a house seem outdated and unkempt. Off white Mini-blinds are so boring. Change them out with wood blinds, curtains, or shades to go from disgust to upper crust in minutes.

There are plenty of ways to make an old space look new. All you have to do is think outside the toolbox.

 

 MelissaBarnett.com

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Feng Shui Your Day

Our homes are a place where we go to relax, unwind, and get away from the world for a bit. We want it to be as welcoming and warm as possible to ourselves and family. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice to balance the energies in your house. Rearranging your home is a perfect way to have a refreshed space and attitude. Maybe your annoying Aunt Linda will have a better attitude during visits after she sees this transformation.


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Kitchen: The kitchen is a place for gatherings. It is the most important room in the house according to Feng Shui. Use a warm accent color to promote socialization during meals and parties. If possible hone as much natural light in the kitchen. If no natural lighting is available then layer various light fixtures to encourage positive energy. Free your kitchen counters of cumbersome gadgets or dirty dishes for a simplistic open flow.


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Living Room: The living room is a communal room for family and friends. Again, you should optimize the natural light and any large windows. Hang sheer airy curtains instead of heavy ones to accomplish this. Live plants, mirrors, and fresh cut flowers encourage liveliness in the room. Neutral colors should be present to allow coziness with pieces of red for color to bring wealth and add interesting pops of color.


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Bedroom: Choose calming colors for the walls like blue, green, and chocolate brown. Keep electronic stimulation out of the bedroom. Leave televisions, computers, and gaming systems in the family room. This promotes relaxation without distractions. Remove any storage you may have cluttered under your bed in order to provide positive energy flow and deeper sleep.


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Bathroom: A bathroom should be clean and clutter free at all times to create positive energy. This is especially true for mirrors to prevent distortion. Soothing artwork is advised for a spa like feel. Display quality soaps, thick towels, and candles to increase luxury and beauty. A bathroom is meant for cleansing as well as indulgence.

These are just a few starting pointers to start the process of how to Feng Shui your day with positive energies.

 

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Fall for These DIYs

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and we’re not talking Christmas. The only thing missing is a few decorations in the home for some true fall inspiration. These DIY’s may seem like you got them at an expensive retail store but we know the truth. The best part is that they are so easy you won’t have to spend but a few minutes to hours creating these cute quick works of Autumn art.


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Got a pine tree close? Pick out the prettiest ones and paint the tips or dip the entire cone in yellows, purples, and reds. Tie the ends to twine and you have a gorgeous hanging bouquet. They can also be place in a bowl on the table for a centerpiece. Cheap and easy, just how we like our projects.


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Pumpkins don’t have to be just for carving. Think outside the jack o’ lantern and give new meaning to pumpkin spice. Take a white pumpkin and place unwrapped crayons around the top. Turn a hairdryer on hot and high to melt the crayons over your pumpkin. Now you have a colorful work of art with a splash of color to your space.


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Reuse old wine bottles to create candy corn colored vases. Spray paint a set with white and let dry. Then repeat with orange and yellow layers. This one may take some practice so the colors don’t run together so make sure it is completely dry before adding another layer. You could use orange and green for pumpkin vases if not a huge candy corn fan. What a sweet display of flowers or wheat stalks.


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Give those boring tiered candles a makeover. Buy cinnamon sticks or pick up twigs and leaves in the yard. Hot glue the sticks, twigs or leaves around the candle. Then place the finishing touch tying a twine bow around it. Candles and twine can be found at the dollar store and cinnamon sticks at a local grocery store. They add spunk and delicious scents to your candle.


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Use decorative gourds or small logs for tea light holders. This one is the simplest yet. Just carve a hole large enough for a tea light and enjoy its ambience. You can decorate the logs or gourds but they are already pretty cute on their own.

All projects above were found on Pinterest. Now you can bask in your own craftiness.

 

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Benefits of Buying

Renting is overrated. The money is being thrown into the wind while your landlord is rolling in your hard earned cash and paying off their mortgage while telling you they’ll get to that leak under the sink “soon.” I remember renting one year when I didn’t even see the landlord. I couldn’t tell you what they looked like. My dishwasher was broken and the maintenance man told us to not use our health hazard heater because it was outdated. Needless to say it was a cold winter and we moved out of there quickly as possible. Does this sound like a familiar situation? Then you may be ready to sail into the sea of ownership where you are the Captain and that ship is under your control.

Buying a home comes with certain freedoms. One of those freedoms is not having a landlord. You are able to paint, hang wall art, and landscape as you please without the risk of not getting a deposit back. There are no noise restrictions, pet deposits, or remodeling. Butters, the hound, can run and be free in his house without his human worrying about what the landlord will say about his accident on the carpet. Renting stifles this ability to truly make a space your own. A home is yours to customize into a beautiful space that mirrors your personality with no guilt.


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Taxes are a big stressor. Who doesn’t want a little relief when April comes around? Homeowners are offered several tax breaks. Some of those include Mortgage Interest, Tax and Penalty Free IRA, Home Improvements, Energy Credits, Home Equity Loans, and Real Estate Taxes. There is even a Home Office credit if you work from home. So many deductions, so little stress.

A homeowner’s net worth is 45 times that of an average renter. While rent is never recovered, mortgage payments build equity. It is an investment in the future by increasing an individual’s net worth. Not to mention it is cheaper to buy than rent. The average mortgage is lower than a rental payment and over time the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases therefore the interest that you pay will be lower than a rental cost.


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Having a home in a neighborhood provides a sense of community. You know your neighbors. You know where your children will grow up and go to school. You know that you can walk your dog every night with a peace of mind. One doesn’t always get that when renting because you never know when the rent may be raised depending on your lease. You may not even be able to renew your lease when the time comes. Community is a sense of stability and security.

Free yourself of the waves of rent, buy your dream boat.

 


Come to our First Time Home Buyers Workshop if you would like to learn more on August 26th:

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Small Home Updates that Make Big Changes

Many people want to add a little pizzazz to their homes but don’t know where to start. Whether it be to prepare to sell or for the owners personal appeal, these small updates can turn around an entire vibe to make a house a home.


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Never underestimate the power of a can of paint. One can completely revitalize a room. If you still have that pea green wall color that your friends complimented you on in the 1970’s then it may be time to change up your style. Fashions change and our tastes change with them. If you are selling then choose a neutral color even if they all look the same to you and are only slight variations of “baguette” or “camel.” If you just want to spice up your life then choose a hue that shows your personality.


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Replace old hardware on cabinets and drawers. I remember when my mother inherited our grandparents’ house. I had never really thought much of the handles to cabinets. My mother changed them because I am pretty sure they were the originals from 1955 when my grandparents bought the house. I immediately noticed the change even though I had never given them thought before. All her family members commented on them as well. It was such a little thing that made a large impression. Along with hardware, light fixtures and faucets are the next items that can really date a room. Replacing these with a more sleek look will instantly modernize the space.


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Give the outside love. The inside of a home is important, but the outside can be just as inviting or uninviting. Simple ways to add curb appeal is to add a small flowerbed around that tree in your front yard. You can paint your rusty mailbox to a nice warm tone. Of course, don’t forget to mow and edge the lawn. It is an easy and cheap fix to spruce up the yard. Placing flower pots around the porch and a few decorations can really increase the visual appeal and make you want to come home after a long day to sit on your relaxing porch.

 

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Keep your Cool

You love blasting your AC. I know it. We all do. But then you get your paperless billing statement and want to hide it from your spouse because they might cry. You don’t want to see them cry. When they do you are not sure if you should comfort them or put on armor because war is coming. That’s why we have a few helpful pointers on how you and your significant other to keep your cool mentally and physically.


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A more inexpensive investment would be to purchase some blackout curtains. Most heat throughout the day comes in through windows creating a greenhouse effect in the home. Simple changes like having heavy curtains, shutters, and keeping blinds closed can lower your average home temperature by up to 20 degrees. If you are home during the day and need some natural light then just keep the westward and eastward windows covered which is where the sun hits hardest.


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The AC unit is the most abused, blamed and neglected appliance in our possession. To save from wanting go out and kick it, try cleaning it instead. Once upon a time, my family was miserable. We blamed the AC for not being big enough for the square footage in our house. My savvy uncle goes out to look at the unit. It was COVERED in thick pollen. I mean one would think we painted it yellow. No air was able to enter the unit thus unable to enter our home. We shop vacuumed the entire thing and, like magic, we had AC again. Dirty air filters just like two inches of pollen also prevent efficient air flow throughout the house. Changing the AC filters regularly and maintaining a debris free unit can be cost effective ways to ensure your family doesn’t have a meltdown.


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Maybe you’re doing all these things already and need a stronger tactic. Maybe your home is older and you haven’t made repairs on it since you bought it. A good start is to check the insulation. Insulation is the best defense to protecting a home’s temperature. Experts say if there are visible floor joints in the attic then it is time to replace the insulation. To begin you can get an energy audit. A professional will come out to inspect your home for air leaks, check your furnace and water heater to make sure it is working properly, and look for any insulation issues. From there you will have a better understanding of what you should address.

These are just a few of the numerous things you can start to prevent a heat stroke or mild heart attack at the sight of your energy costs. We are just looking out for your health and hospital bills.

 

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The OKC Bucket List: Outdoor Escapades and Eats

 

Having trouble beating the summer bummers? These entertaining activities will keep you from losing your mind and your tan line. Oklahoma is a thriving community in the summer season so relax and let the fun divert all your cares.

 


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1. Reach Great Heights. On the Wheeler District’s Ferris Wheel you can get an amazing view of the river and downtown. The Wheel was bought on Ebay and originally stood on California’s Santa Monica Pier. The district often has food trucks and festivals for your dining pleasure. Only $6 per ride makes for an affordable memory. We recommend going at night for a romantic evening gaze of a sparkling skyline, still flowing waters and an Oklahoma sunset. Ahhhh.


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2. Get Insomnia. The one time it may benefit you to get insomnia is to go to Insomnia Cookies. They have a variety of desserts including cookies, brownies and ice cream. If your blood sugar is especially low then you’ll want to indulge in a Deluxe Cookiewich to satisfy the craving. The best part about this fine establishment is that they are open until 3am, not to mention that they deliver. So you can feel good about not being able to sleep.


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3. Embark on a Ride. Spokies is Oklahoma City’s only bike sharing system. You can glide through traffic without having to worry about pesky parking. On your ride, you’ll be able to tour Downtown, Midtown and historic neighborhoods from its eight locations around town. For a small fee, you can ride for 30 minutes or get a pass that allows hourly use. Embark wanted to provide eco-friendly and affordable transit to those in need of fun and fast transportation.


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4. Sport About. The Boathouse District contains an exciting day for the family. Riversport Adventures is hours of thrills with water rafting, zip lines, rope courses, tubing, kayaking and slides. This will not disappoint the adventure seekers in your group. You can choose from a day or season pass or even a single experience for the more serene adventurer.


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5. Reconnect with Nature. Do you miss the forests but are stuck in the city? Martin Nature Center is where you should be. Tucked away in Oklahoma City is this amazing reserve. Several trails will take you over a river, past prairie dogs, and up to a bird observation center. It is the perfect place to trick yourself into thinking that you’re hiking a National State Park. Looking is free. Try not to take home a prairie dog though.


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Mortgage Forbearance: the what, when, & how!

What it is

Forbearance isn’t a free pass; nor is it a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s an individual agreement between lender and borrower to provide some short-term relief. The forbearance period is something you negotiate with the lender—it can last from a month to a year, although the average is three to four months. The idea is to cut borrowers some slack until they can resume paying the original mortgage as usual.

“Our primary goal is to help delinquent borrowers avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes,” says Brad German, a spokesman for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), which purchases home loans from lenders.

When to act

Immediately! The first and most important step in seeking forbearance is to contact your lender the minute you know you won’t be able to make a payment. The worst thing you can do is to stop paying, hide your head in the sand, and pray the lender won’t notice. Not only will the lender notice, it’ll report late payments to credit bureaus, and be less likely to extend forbearance if you ask for it.

“As long as you’re the one calling and telling them there’s a problem, the lender will most likely work with you,” says Kevin Lynch, assistant professor of insurance at the American College for Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA. “If you just quit paying your bills, and they have to call you, it’s cast in an entirely different light. And that light will not be favorable.”

What to say

Tell the truth—Family medical crisis? Job layoff?—and provide as much detail and proof that your lender requires. From there, the lender may agree to extend forbearance, but perhaps not off the bat before you discuss other options first.

Most lenders prefer to offer a loan modification that permanently reduces your monthly payments, often for a lower interest rate, but stretches your loan over a longer period of time. Or, if you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage but can now resume regular payments, a lender may agree to a repayment plan where a portion of the overdue mortgage amount is added to your regular payments until you catch up. Freddie Mac reports that in 2015, its participating members structured 6,000 mortgage forbearances, compared with 21,000 repayment plans and 54,000 loan modifications. The type of mortgage help you get depends on the duration of your hardship and what your particular lender is willing to offer.

If the lender offers forbearance, you both will agree to the length of the forbearance period, the amount of a reduced payment, and the eventual terms of repayment. Though tempting, don’t ask for more forbearance time than you need, but also don’t agree to less time than you think it will take to get back on your feet.

What happens once your time is up?

After the forbearance or the extension has ended, you’ll have to repay the amount that was suspended or reduced—principal, interest, taxes, insurance. Typically, no extra interest is charged on the payments you missed. You can make a one-time payment for the amount due, or add on payments to your regular mortgage until you’re up to date. If the hardship continues, some lenders will extend the forbearance for a few more months, or else you can “cure” the past due amount by modifying your loan. Most often, the loans are modified, says German.

What does forbearance do to your credit?

Nothing, according to FICO—the software company that creates algorithms that credit bureaus use to determine how creditworthy you are.

“Generally, forbearance is not likely to have any impact on the credit score,” says Ethan Dornhelm, a FICO senior director of model development. Lenders may (or may not) report to credit companies the existence of a mortgage forbearance, but it definitely does not wreck your credit like being delinquent on a mortgage. All told, it could be just the timeout you need to get back on your feet.

Five pieces of priceless advice to 1st time home buyers!

1. Find out how much you can borrow

Many factors impact the amount of money that your bank is willing to lend you. This includes your income, down payment, credit score, outgoings and current debts along with many other variables.

This is one of the most crucial stages of the home buying process, so seek legitimate advice that allows you to plan appropriately. Realistically, you should do this before you start seriously looking at properties so that you know which homes to look at.

2. Do your research

Regardless of whether you are a first-time home buyer, getting an idea of what’s on the market is essential. Don’t always just look at a house’s face value; investigate what is going on in the surrounding areas, including future development plans, transport links, schools, crime rates and facilities.

The last thing you want to do is buy a house only to find out that an airport is being built next door.

3. Never underestimate the knowledge of mom and dad

The homebuying process was much different back when our parents bought their first home; however, you should never underestimate how knowledgeable they are on the general process.

Don’t be scared to ask for help, as they might have information and experience in handling issues that you might not have even considered. If you are lucky, they might be able to help you financially, so you should consult with them from the start.

4. Account for additional costs

It can be easy to forget the ancillary costs that come with buying a house, other than paying off your mortgage every month. Before you fully secure the property, consider the cost of taxes, valuation fees, agent fees, closing costs, HOA fees, etc.

In addition, take into consideration your other monthly outgoings such as utility bills, taxes, cable, insurance, and of course, the upfront cost of moving into and furnishing your home.

5. Don’t settle for the first property you see

There are very few people who manage to find a house that ticks all the boxes on the wish list, so make a list of the most important features that you aren’t willing to compromise on.

It can be tempting to move into a house that is already decorated and save yourself a few weeks of DIY. But it’s not worth it if you find out you will have to replace the whole central heating system three months down the line. Learn the difference between cosmetic issues and real ones.

You need to buy a home this Summer! Read why!

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 5.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.3% over the next year. The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects home values to appreciate by more than 3.2% a year for the next 5 years.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase 

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. TheMortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home. 

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.