Amy Uliss' Blog
172 Algonquin Trl, Ashland, MA 01721
Few things are more exciting than buying a house and making it your home. Knowing when it’s the right time to buy derives from your personal circumstances, but some external elements and market realities affect when it’s right to buy too.
Here are some of the things that can affect your decision to purchase a home, and the timing to do it.
- Interest rates. Right now, interest rates are low, making housing affordable. Keeping an eye on rates can save you money. You can get pre-approval for a mortgage that locks in a low rate, so check out the programs offered by various lenders to see which one has the most useful option for you.
- Inventory levels. Listed homes in your area that fit your budget, and your criteria, ebb and flow. Develop a relationship with a qualified real estate market specialist to keep tabs on inventory levels, so you know when to buy.
- Increased prices. Supply and demand drive up prices, so if prices begin to increase it may be time to step into the market. Again, your real estate agent can keep you apprised of price fluctuations in the market.
- Income levels. You might simply be waiting for a promised raise or that bonus to plump up your down-payment cache. When that’s the case, notify your agent of your expectation and the timing so that they begin looking for you just ahead of when you’re ready to make the purchase.
- Income tax refunds. Although using the IRS as a savings account is a poor financial strategy, sometimes, you end up with a bigger refund than you’d anticipated. When that happens, and you receive the extra funds, it might be time to make homeownership a reality.
- Investments. When an investment gives you an unexpected return, it might be time to reinvest it into a home.
If any of these are true, you may be financially ready. When making any financial decision—especially huge ones such as buying a home—it's essential to contemplate the reason behind your decision. What do you believe a home provides you? How does it fit into your future goals? Are you willing to tie up your funds in a non-liquid investment? Are you prepared to handle the maintenance? Do you have time for upkeep?
When you feel positive about your answers, reach out to your agent for advice, and to start looking for your new home.
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.