Upgrades and Renovations

How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other Landscaping

December 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Winter's Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other LandscapingFrom the approaching holiday season to the New Year, there are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to the winter. It’s important, though, not to forget about the needs of your lawn for the upcoming cold season. If you’re wondering how to ready your trees, your plants and your yard, here are some tips for saving your vegetation until the springtime.

Fertilize For Grass Growth

It might seem like a waste of time to fertilize your grass going into the winter months, but this is actually the perfect time to prep it for spring. As fertilizer will provide much-needed nutrients to the grass in the months when there is less growth, it will actually stimulate improved growth down the road. It’s just important to ensure that you provide a consistent amount of fertilizer so a patchy-looking yard can be avoided. Since weeds scale back in winter, like most other varieties of plants, it can also be an ideal time to apply a herbicide.

Garden Plants And Perennials

While plant maintenance duties like pruning can be done in the spring or fall months, it can actually be a better idea to give your plants the summer months to grow before diving in. Cutting them back will enable the plant to focus its energy on maintenance through the cold winter months, so it’s a good idea to get to work in before the first signs of cooler air set in. If you happen to have plants that won’t last through the winter, you’ll want to compost them so they can be used for soil in the next gardening season.

Clearing Away The Wood

Beyond the garden and the lawn, it’s also worthwhile to provide a little care for your favorite trees before the winter hits. While you’ll want to be cautious about what you do and may want to consult with a gardening professional, clearing away dead branches can help your tree retain its health throughout the year. You may notice the difference in your trees when the spring rolls around again, as they’ll likely have a revitalized look and show signs of new growth.

Winter is a busy time for many people, but it’s important to make the time to fertilize your grass and prune your perennials so your yard will be ready for spring.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Upgrades and Renovations

Upgrades That Make Your House Worth More

December 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Home Equity Tips: 3 Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth More When You SellIt’s likely that your house is your biggest asset, so when it comes time to sell it you’ll want to do everything you can to maximize your profit. Good news the value of your home isn’t solely determined by the market, there are several ways in which you can increase its value by making upgrades before listing.

Let’s take a look at 3 top upgrades that will make your house worth more when you sell.

1. Make It Profitable

Not surprisingly, the number one way in which you can increase the value of your home is to add an income suite within the property. If your home has potential to earn buyers’ money it will inevitably be more valuable than a property that doesn’t have any potential cash flow for the owner. Whether it’s a basement suite or a floor that’s been made into a separate unit, income units are a huge bonus for buyers. Making money while paying off their home would be a dream come true for most people, and it’s a dream that buyers are willing to pay a high price for.

2. Kitchen Is Key

Kitchens are often the first area to become dated or worn out within a home, and they’re the most important part of the house when it comes to valuation. Make sure that your cabinets and countertops are updated before selling, and modernize the design with neutral fixtures that are current yet adaptable to many tastes. Having a fresh kitchen shows both function and fashion to buyers. After all, no one wants to see rusty old appliances and dingy lights when walking into the focal point of a home.

3. Beautify The Bathrooms

Besides the kitchen, bathrooms are the second most important aspect of a home when it comes to valuation. Having multiple bathrooms within a home automatically increases its value significantly, especially if at least two have at least three pieces within them, containing at least a sink, toilet, and either a shower or bath. Ensuring that your bathrooms are leak-free, look meticulously clean, and have a modern design is a fantastic way to make sure that buyers will be impressed during an open house.

Bonus tip: if installing a new toilet, consider purchasing one that is eco-friendly with dual-flush options. As people become more and more environmentally conscious, fixtures such as these will cater to a broad spectrum of lifestyle values.

If you’re ready to prepare your home for sale and are looking for more ways in which you can maximize its market value, contact your local mortgage professional today.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Upgrades and Renovations

How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your Home

November 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your HomeAre you on the hunt for home renovations that will boost usability and value? Look no further than that unfinished basement. In this article, we’ll show you how to turn that dusty cave into an amazing new living space.

Note: finishing a basement isn’t the easiest job. For most basements, it’s a lot more than a weekend do-it-yourself project. If you’re not comfortable with construction be sure to enlist the help of a professional.

Step 1: Plan Everything Out

The first step is to plan out how you’re going to use the space. Are you going to make an office? A full suite? Is there any plumbing or wiring involved? Will you need to create full walls? Map out how you plan to use the available space so you have an idea of what you’ll need.

Step 2: Measure And Deal With The Floor

Once you figure out how you’ll use the space, you’ll need to measure everything out. Height can be an issue — especially in basements not designed as a living space. You can solve height problems by digging out the concrete slab. Once you get down deep enough, you pour a new slab.

Step 3: Frame Everything In

Is the basement at a good height? Next you’ll need to start framing everything in. Depending on how you have your walls mapped out, this might take a while. You may also need permits or to enlist licensed tradespeople, such as an electrician. If you’re just framing in a single room to add walls, it will be easier.

Step 4: Insulate And Install The Walls

After the framing process, you’ll insulate everything before installing the walls. Adding insulation can drive energy and heating costs down by a lot. So much so that in colder areas of the country, new homes must have insulated basements. After the insulation is in place, you’ll install the drywall and ready the walls for painting.

Step 5: Paint, Carpet And Finish Up

The final step is to get everything painted and finished. If you chose to go with a carpeted floor, you’ll want to save this for last. Once the painting is complete, install the carpets, baseboard and trim. Touch up any final areas and you’re all set.

Finishing your basement into a usable space is an excellent way to add value to your home. To learn more about building your home’s equity, give us a call.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Unique Renovations That Make Small Living Spaces Feel Big

November 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Five Unique Renovations That Can Make Small Living Spaces Feel BiggerJust because you live in a small space doesn’t mean your home needs to feel cramped. There are several renovations that are popular among interior designers to make a space feel larger. Incorporate them into your own home to give it a more open, spacious feel.

1. Crystal Clear

Glass is an absolutely phenomenal way to make a small space feel larger as it removes visual barriers to show off additional square footage, making it seem as though it’s part of the room. Whether you choose a glass railing for a staircases or room divider or incorporate a glass shower into a small bathroom, glass can help your home feel more spacious.

2. Make The Most Of Mirrors

Similar to glass, mirrors can make a small space feel big as they add an illusion of depth to a room. Try installing a large mirror on a wall in lieu of paintings or other decor if you’d like to make a room seem larger than it is.

3. Goodbye Island

If it’s your kitchen that’s feeling cramped, consider removing the island. Islands can add value to a home, but if your kitchen is small enough that it shouldn’t have been there in the first place then getting rid of it will create a much more functional space. Consider whether you’d still have ample counter space and storage without your island, and if the answer is yes it may be time to say goodbye to your island.

4. Tear Down The Walls

Creating an open concept floor plan is a fantastic renovation for a small home as it removes barriers between several small spaces to create one larger open space. Do you really need a wall between your kitchen and dining room? How about between your dining room and living room? If there’s a wall that simply isn’t necessary, it may be time to tear it down.

5. Keep It Light

A very quick and easy renovation to help open up a small space is to paint the walls in a light color as it will reflect more light than a darker shade, making the room feel airy rather than cozy. If you’re considering re-doing the floors, choosing a lighter color can further contribute to the feeling of a larger space.

Small spaces don’t have to cramp your style. In fact, they offer unique design opportunities and can make wonderful living spaces.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Energy-Saving Tips to Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

November 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Reduce Your Home's Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving TipsDo you believe that humans are changing the climate? As of today, the debate over carbon dioxide and climate change continues to rage. But regardless of your political standpoint, there’s always a case for reducing electricity use. Because who doesn’t like saving money, right?

Let’s explore a few ways that you can save energy while reducing your home’s carbon footprint.

Leverage The Power Of Automation

The technology behind home automation is improving at an amazing rate. Thermostats from companies like Nest make home heating and cooling simple. They learn from your use to automatically set temperatures up and down as needed. Going to be home late from work? No problem — you can use your smartphone to ensure your heat doesn’t come on until later.

Wash Cold, Hang Dry

You might not be aware of this, but cold water washing makes sense. Most washing machines and detergents are just as efficient with cold water as hot. So it makes sense to switch to washing in cold, especially if you have a newer washing machine.

To cut back even more, hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. The technology behind clothes dryers hasn’t improved much over time. They still rely on warm air, forced ventilation and spinning around. All of which use a lot of energy.

Note: if you have to use your dryer, add a clean, dry towel to each load. Adding a towel will help your clothes to dry faster, thus saving you both time and money.

Modernize Your Home Lighting

Have you made the switch to power-efficient LED light bulbs yet? This one change can save an immense amount of electricity depending on the size of your home. And you can take things a step further by automating your home lighting as well. Systems from companies like Philips allow you to turn lights up, down and off as needed. You can also control these from your smartphone.

Kill Off The Vampires

Finally, watch for appliances and accessories that draw power when they’re not in use. ‘Electricity vampires’ like smartphone chargers, laptops and televisions can draw power 24/7. It’s a bit of a pain to have to unplug everything all the time. Instead, consider having these appliances plugged in to power bars. When you’re finished using them, you can switch the power bar off and go on with your day.

The above are just a few ways that you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint. If you’re interested in upgrading to a power-smart home, talk to your trusted mortgage professional to get started today.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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$500 Renovations To Boost Your Home’s Value

November 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your SaleThe idea of home renovations when you’re selling your home can be unpopular because of the cost and time that can go into sprucing up a place you’re about to leave behind. However, making a few simple, economical touches can go a long way to capitalizing on your home’s value and making a difference in dollars. If you’re curious about cheap options for an easier sale, here are a few that may make the deal a little sweeter.

Kick Up The Kitchen A Notch

With all of the time that a family spends in the kitchen, it’s unsurprising that it is fast becoming one of the most important features that go into a potential buyer’s interest in a home. For less than a thousand, you may want to consider an upgraded appliance that will serve as a sparkly new selling feature or even some slightly revamped cabinet fronts that will keep the price down and the look up-to-date.

A Little Bathroom Fix-Up

With the bathroom being one of the smallest spaces in any home, it can be hard to know how to properly enhance this minimal space for maximum effect. Instead of re-doing the floor or the tub, consider the basic cost of a new light fixture and an updated mirror. Simply updating these two items will completely shift the look of an aging bathroom.

Clean Up The Carpet

With carpet making a bit of a comeback, it’s certainly not going to be worth your while to replace any damage it’s incurred before leaving your home. Instead of leaving things to chance, though, consider a relatively economical carpet cleaning that will drastically improve the look of your carpet and may convince potential buyers it’s less worn than it is.

Lighting Is Everything

There are few things that can lend or detract from the look of a room more than the lighting you choose. While you may want to consider a new, nice fixture to change up your living room, kitchen or foyer area, a shade of light that is complimentary to the space it’s illuminating will have more of an impact than anything on how your home is viewed.

Renovations may seem like unnecessary work if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, but some minor upgrades can make a huge difference on the price tag that your home sale will pull in.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Solar-Powered Home Symptoms of Future Problems

October 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future ProblemsSolar-powered homes are becoming more commonplace, and are an excellent step in the right ecological direction. That said, there are some aspects to consider if you’re thinking about investing in solar energy. Read on for some salient points about living by the sun.

The Sun And The Economy

As solar power has grown in popularity, the government has introduced incentives to help homeowners combat the once-high costs of purchasing and installing solar panels. And companies are springing up to rent you panels and cover the cost of installation. This means that your initial costs are smaller, but also that those third party companies reap the government incentives and may not always maintain strong relationships between you and your utility company.

The Sun And Your Roof

Roofs are the primary locations for solar panels, particularly on homes. Ensure that your roof has enough strength for the added weight of the equipment, and enough space for the proper placement (away from the edges, for example). The equipment comes with a lifetime guarantee so if the roof it’s on is already old, consider updating it before installation (which is an extra but necessary cost).

The Sun And Your Surroundings

A solar-powered home is all about location, location, location. Watch for tall and shady trees, or for high buildings that will shadow your panels and decrease or prevent their output. Look forward, too are there any plans for development in your neighborhood that would introduce such impediments in the future?

The Sun And Cloudy Days

The most obvious hiccup with solar power is that bane of a sunny existence: cloudy days. Location has influence here too: the climate of your area will determine how many panels you’ll need, where you’ll need to place them and how much energy you’ll be able to glean in each season. There are batteries you can purchase for collecting and storing solar energy but they’re still an expensive option. And solar power is still somewhat unattractive in the global economy because of how variable it is. Fossil fuels are more dependable, and therefore more marketable, than an energy source so tied to the weather although that looks to change if solar energy continues its rise in popularity with the masses.

All things considered, there is a deep and growing draw to solar-powered homes, but don’t enter into anything without looking at all sides of the equation. If you have questions, or want to know more about how solar energy works in your neighborhood, contact your local mortgage professional.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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Understanding the Balance Between Purchase and Reno

August 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Thinking about a 'Fixer Upper'? Understanding the Balance Between Purchase and Reno CostsFixer uppers can come with huge price benefits and opportunity, as well as problems. Make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into before you purchase a home that needs significant restoration.

Carefully Calculate

Do the math very carefully before jumping in. Add up the expected renovation costs based on a thorough evaluation of the property. As some of the expected costs will lie within a grey area, it is important that you base your estimation on the higher end of the price range. Be sure to account for all materials and labor.

Once you have calculated your expected renovation costs, subtract this number from the home’s projected post-renovation market value. It is important that you base this projection on comparable listings in the same neighborhood. Consulting a real estate professional can offer very valuable assistance with this step.

To be conservative, deduct at least another 10 percent for any unforeseen costs, mistakes, or issues that arise. That final number should be the highest offer you make on the property.

Work With The Right Team

When looking for a fixer upper that is a sound investment, make sure that you have a solid team of professionals to work with. Choose a real estate agent who is familiar with the area and type of property that you are interested in, and make sure that all laborers you hire are not only competent to deal with the problems that you’ll face during renos, but who won’t cut corners. Aesthetically appealing housing don’t always pass inspections – it’s important to make sure that the property is fit for sale or it may never close at your asking price.

Aesthetic Problems Are The Best Problems

If you’ve managed to find a home that’s in great condition but is visually unappealing, you may have found yourself an excellent fixer upper. Ugly carpet, old appliances, and tacky wallpaper are easy fixes that won’t eat up much of your budget or your time.

Asbestos, leaky water lines, a cracked foundation, or a rotted frame are examples of more significant issues that will require the help of a professional. Be wary when investing in a property that has one or several of these problems, as they are the kind of issues that snowball into larger costs and a longer timeline for repairs.

Ready to invest in a great fixer upper and tackle it as your next investment? Move forward with the help of your trusted mortgage professional today.

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James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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