Amy Uliss' Blog
Homemade cleaning solutions aren't just effective. They're also free of irritating chemicals, gentle on delicate surfaces, and easy on the environment. Here are a few recipes for making your own cleaning solutions.
Natural Wood Polish
This is a classic mix:
- In a small cup, mix one part olive oil to one part lemon juice.
- Now, use a soft cloth to rub your homemade wood polish into your wood pieces.
- Buff the wood to its rich, natural glow with a clean cloth.
What a gentle, protective cleaner! Plus, it smells lemony fresh.
Drain Cleaner and Declogger
A baking soda and vinegar mix can clear out clogs at the first sign of slow draining, before the job gets impossibly hairy. Give these steps a whirl:
- Boil a pot of water.
- Flush the drain with it. (Handle boiling water with care!)
- Then pour a cup of baking soda and vinegar, in roughly equal parts, down the drain. You'll see the drain bubble up a bit.
- Close your drain.
- Wait a few minutes, while boiling a new pot of water. Then carefully pour the boiling water down the drain.
Done! If your clog is in the advanced stages, you might want to bring a plunger into the equation. You'll get there, with eco-friendly flair.
Safe Insect Repellent for Indoor Use
Let chemicals be the last resort. Keep the air fresh and fragrant by giving these ideas a go.
- For ants on the counter: Try cream of tartar. Use a little of this white powder plus a little water to make a thin paste. Sponge it over kitchen surfaces. (It will be invisible when dry.) Wiping with vinegar can also work well.
- For moths, spiders, silverfish and others in the corners, nooks, and crannies: Cedar chips or cedar sachets in closets and cupboards deter those rascals while making your closets smell wonderful.
- To redirect them all, wherever they might be: Use cinnamon sticks! Or put a couple of drops of essential cinnamon oil in a spray bottle filled with water. A spritz here and there repels bugs from seams that the little critters regard as revolving doorways.
Paste For Making Shiny Things Sparkle
Here's how it's done:
- Sponge unpainted cabinet knobs and faucets, and other hardware, with lemon juice.
- Leave on for a time, then gently rub salt over the surface.
- Rinse, then wipe dry.
To polish brass or other metals that have a protective varnish, use a soft, moistened cloth. Avoid using household chemicals.
These are just a few ways to clean your house and keep it looking new without using chemicals. They're also great ways to get ready for your next open house without having to air out the rooms before your guests arrive.
Looking for more ways to prep your home for an open house or get it ready for the market? Feel free to reach out!
Although you might have entered the housing market with a strategy to help you streamline your search for your dream home, it is important to remember that even the best-laid plan may need to be changed. And if you fail to discover your ideal residence after a comprehensive search, now may be a great time to revise your homebuying strategy.
Let's take a look at three tips to help you revamp your homebuying plan.
1. Consider Your Home Must-Haves and Wants
Creating a list of home must-haves and wants may be done at the start of a house search. Over time, however, this list may evolve. And if you update your list, you may be better equipped than ever before to reenter the real estate market with a fresh perspective.
Think about where you want to live in the foreseeable future too. Then, you can narrow your home search to specific cities and towns and accelerate the homebuying journey.
2. Review Your Budget
If you recently paid off your student loans or eliminated your credit cards, you may want to reassess your homebuying budget. That way, you can hone your house search and explore residences that fall within your up-to-date price range.
Of course, if you have yet to get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can still do so. Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available. This will enable you to gain the insights you need to select a mortgage that matches your finances.
3. Learn About the Housing Market
The housing market may favor buyers or sellers. And if you have been searching for your dream home for several weeks or months, the market may have changed.
It does not take long for a buyer's market to become a seller's market, or vice-versa. As you consider your homebuying options, you should study the local real estate sector closely to determine whether the current housing market favors buyers or sellers.
Evaluating the prices of recently sold houses in a particular city or town usually is a good idea. This housing market data will enable you to find out whether sellers are receiving offers at or near their initial home asking prices.
You also should find out how long current residences in a particular city or town have been listed. If houses linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time, you may be operating in a market that favors buyers. Or, if homes are selling quickly, you may be operating in a seller's market.
Lastly, hiring a real estate agent often is helpful, particularly for homebuyers who are struggling to identify the perfect residence. A real estate agent can offer lots of tips as you conduct your search for your dream residence. Plus, if you need to revamp your homebuying strategy, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to do just that.
Do you keep tabs on your HVAC system regularly? For many people, the heating and cooling system in their homes is an out of sight out of mind item. Only when there is a problem with the system do people think about it.
The important thing for you to remember is that you don’t need to wait for an issue to arise for you to take continual care of your HVAC system. You can take action to continually have a supply of efficient, uninterrupted heating and cooling. With the right maintenance, your system will also run more efficiently as well. Keep the tips in mind below and show your HVAC system some love.
Keep Regular Maintenance Appointments
As with most other things that we own, a little tune up from time to time helps to keep things running smoothly. You can keep a checklist of the monthly and annual tasks that you should complete for your HVAC system. You could ask your oil or gas company for some advice on regular tasks that you should complete as well. These could include everything from clearing out leaves and grass to changing air filters. Doing these things will not only help your utility bills and HVAC system performance, but can also help you to ward off allergens that may cause bothersome symptoms right inside your home.
Tame The Trees
While it can be tempting to want to disguise your outdoor units with trees and shrubs, these can do some damage. You should make a habit to trim any nearby bushes to your units as well as clear away debris. Be sure that the system isn’t clogged with pollen, grass clippings, and dust. There should be at least a 2-foot clearing around the unit to prevent damage and airflow restriction.
Inspect Before Each Season
At the end of each season, you should make a point to inspect your HVAC system. See what the system looks like from the outside. Is the system doing its job as far as heating and cooling go on the inside of your home? Does the system sound extra labored while it’s running? If there doesn’t seem to be enough airflow or there is too much noise coming from the system, then you could have a problem with your system. You may need to call in a qualified professional to help you remove debris from your system, as leaves and branches can get into the coils of it, severely impairing the system‘s function. A professional can also help you to learn how to properly clean the HVAC system yourself.
With a little effort, you’ll save big in many ways just by paying close attention to your HVAC system.
Owning a home can be an amazing experience. But interest from your mortgage accumulates over time, leaving you to seemingly pay an arm and a leg to finance your home. But while you may think that paying off your mortgage early is a great idea, that isn’t always the case.
You May Have Other Debt
Paying off your mortgage early can save you on interest costs, but you more than likely have other debt to deal with. If you have other debts — like car loans, student loans or credit card debt — then these should be paid off first. Try to focus on your debts with higher interest rates; these tend to be associated with credit cards. After you’ve paid those debts off, then moving on to pay off your mortgage could be a good choice.
You Don’t Want to Go Broke
Paying off your mortgage may sound great and all, but you must consider all of your expenses, including possible emergencies. Saving on interest is very tempting, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your emergency fund. You never know when something serious will happen, so do your best to set aside some cash. If you have hefty savings and all of your expenses are accounted for every month, then you can move on to paying off your mortgage early.
Consider Your Future
Many people try to pay as much as they can towards their mortgage, only to find out that they used up all of their money. While they have some big expenses and big life changes that cost money, now they have to save up in order to cover those costs. That being said, it’s best to think about your future before paying more towards your mortgage. Are you planning on having kids? Thinking of going back to school? With how frequent life changes, you never know when you could use money down the road. While it might seem like a great plan to throw money at your mortgage payment, think about your life goals and how your finances fit in that equation.
It Can Be Beneficial
Although we’ve made some points above that suggest that you shouldn’t pay off your mortgage early, it can still be very beneficial to do so. Let’s say your household is doing very well with finances and money is pouring in quickly. If your other debts and finances are taken care of, then paying off your mortgage early can help you save on interest; the larger amount you pay, the more you’ll save on interest. However, this can be a tough choice. Be sure to consider the points mentioned above before paying this loan off early.
Looking to add your home to the real estate market? Ultimately, you'll want to do everything you can to maximize the value of your residence.
For home sellers, getting the best price for a residence may seem virtually impossible at times. Fortunately, we're here to help you plan ahead so you can get the best price for your house as soon as it hits the market.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you optimize the value of your residence, regardless of the current real estate market's conditions.
1. Examine the Housing Market
When it comes to the real estate market, it is important to understand how your residence stacks up against the competition.
Collect housing market data to learn about the real estate sector. Then, you can establish a "competitive" price for your home and boost your chances of a quick home sale.
Typically, home sellers should look at the prices of currently available residences in their cities and towns. This will enable home sellers to understand the local real estate market and establish a price range for houses that are similar to their own.
Don't forget to review the prices of recently sold houses as well. With this housing market data in hand, home sellers can find out whether they are about to enter a seller's or buyer's market.
2. Complete a Home Appraisal
Let's face it – what your home is worth today is unlikely to match what you initially paid for your residence. If you have completed a wide range of home upgrades over the years, the value of your residence may have increased. Or, if you failed to maintain your house's interior and exterior, your residence's value may have fallen.
A home appraisal will enable you to learn about your house's strengths and weaknesses. This assessment is performed by a professional property inspector who will take a close look at your house's interior and exterior. After the assessment is finished, the property inspector will provide you with a report that can help you price your house appropriately.
If you want to boost your home's value after a home appraisal, you can always complete various home interior and exterior improvement projects. That way, you can enhance your house both inside and out and move closer to maximizing the value of your home.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a difference-maker for home sellers, and for good reason. This housing market professional will do everything possible to help you prep your house and ensure you can receive the best price for it – without exception.
Usually, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open houses, negotiate with homebuyers on your behalf and much more. He or she will even provide honest, unbiased home selling recommendations to ensure you can streamline the home selling journey.
Don't leave anything to chance as you get ready to add your house to the real estate market. Use these tips, and you should have no trouble getting the best price for your house.