One of a prospective buyer’s first impressions of a home or business is the front yard. An attractive front yard can greatly increase the selling price of a property. Even if you are not selling your home or business you want neighbors and visitors to have a good impression of where you live or work.
What things make a good impression?
A healthy, well cared for lawn. If your lawn is kept mowed and free of weeds it creates a good impression. You can do this yourself, have a lawn care service do it or have a sod company install your grass and then maintain the cutting, aeration, weed and feed program yourself. A healthy lawn is like the canvas an artist paints upon. It is a good start.
Other ways to add curb appeal are things like a fountain or a sculpture or a flowerbed or other center of interest.
Your driveway and walkway are also part of the overall effect of your front yard. Consider surface options like concrete, stamped concrete, interlocking brick, paving stones or crushed stone. Whatever surface you use should be easy maintenance and aesthetically pleasing when combined with your house or business.
If you are adding lights, remember: Less is more. Don’t clutter your yard with decorations or lights.
The same holds true for color. When choosing plants it is better to go with one color and to choose one which complements your house.
Consider shrubs and flowers that are perennial and hardy to cut down on the cost and labor of planting annually. If your house or business rises above street level, consider adding elevated walks and/or steps, which give your building an added dimension and center of interest.
Walkway or flower garden borders of edging shrubs or railroad ties or large stone add interest and give edges a finished look.
The next area to consider is that front entrance way. It should look clean and inviting not cluttered or barren.
Steps should be clear of pots or other objects. The plants, planters, and other objects used should blend with the colors and style of the front door.
Adding curb appeal to your home or business can pay off in many ways—both financial and aesthetic. Renovations needn’t break the bank. Check out Internet and landscaping magazines for ideas.
When you’re getting ready to buy a home, you prepare to make a down payment and pay for moving costs. But there are some hidden costs that you might not anticipate, and they can add up quickly.
Every dollar matters when you are buying a home, and you need to know exactly what to expect. Prepare yourself for some of these hidden home-buying costs.
Also known as a “good faith” deposit, this is a small precursor to a down payment that signals to the seller that you are serious about buying the home. Without it, anyone could make an offer on any house they wanted and back out without any real consequences.
Earnest money is typically around 1-2 percent of your home’s purchase price and it’s sent at the time that you make an offer on the house. The money is held by the title company and you can expect your check to be cashed right away. If you end up buying the home, it will be contributed toward your down payment.
Once the offer is accepted, it’s time for a home inspection. This is one place where you definitely do not want to cut corners in an effort to save a few bucks.
A good home inspector will identify issues that could turn into major problems down the road. It’s much better to deal with them before you move in when you can lean on the seller to help pay for some of the repair costs.
A general home inspection by a certified inspector will cost a few hundred dollars, but you may need to add additional inspections for things like termites or asbestos depending on where you live and how old the home is that you’re buying.
Closing is the time when the remainder of your down payment is due, but there are other costs that can add up to 2-5 percent of the home’s total cost. Closing costs include:
The bottom line? Buying a home is going to cost more than you might expect, so don’t take your savings down to the wire with a down payment. The last thing you want to do is start your time in a new home in more debt than you can afford because of hidden costs.
So, you want a new look for your kitchen but you don’t have the time or the money for a remodel? No problem!
There are plenty of things you can do to achieve the fresh feeling you want without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart your non-renovation update:
Fresh Paint, Fresh Hardware
A new coat of paint and updating the hardware on your cabinets are two quick inexpensive ways to give your kitchen a facelift. If you change both dramatically, you might be surprised at just how different your kitchen feels.
Seek out inspiration from Pinterest or other home decorating sites and don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember that paint and hardware are both very easy to change if you decide that you want something different.
This can even be something you change on a semi-regular basis to always keep things fresh in your kitchen and stay in line with the latest trends. You can even get your appliances into the mix with specially-made appliance paint.
Accent pieces like rugs and tablecloths are another quick way to bring new life into your kitchen. If you change your kitchen’s paint color, you may want to choose accents that match or provide a contrast to that color scheme.
Check out yard sales and thrift stores in your area for a truly unique look. Who knows, you may find the diamond in the rough that will set the tone for your entire kitchen! And, when the time comes to move, all you’ll have to do is roll everything up and pack it away.
If you’re unhappy with how your cabinets look and painting won’t do the trick, consider taking the doors off and repurposing them as open shelving. This will give you an opportunity to show off dishes or cookware — and perhaps an excuse to buy new pieces, too.
If you know that you’ll be moving out of your place eventually, hang on to the doors and hinges so you can put them back on before you move out and let the next homeowner make their decision about what to do with the cabinets.
Although electricity is a necessity for just about every facet of our lives, you do not need to break the bank to pay for it. For a little bit of effort in a few key areas of your home, you can see a significant reduction in your electric bill.
Remove Phantom Loads
Did you know that your appliances, electronics, and other items in electrical outlets continue to draw electricity even when they are not turned on? In fact, they use up to 75 percent of their overall power to keep clocks, timers, and other settings functioning.
Simply unplug anything you do not need when it’s not in use and watch your energy bill drop. Amp up the savings even more by combining electronics in a power strip and turning everything off at once.
Clean up your HVAC
Much like a dirty oil or air filter can impact your gas mileage, a poorly-maintained air conditioning system can take a toll on your electricity bill.
If you have central air, make sure that you have it serviced every year. It might seem like an unnecessary expense, but you will benefit from electricity savings and cleaner air in your home. If you have window units, clean your air filter every 30 days and replace one every year.
Fill Your Fridge and Freezer
This is another one that might seem counterintuitive, but your refrigerator and freezer actually run more efficiently when they are full. Food and other items act as insulation to keep the entire space cold, which means less time that the appliance has to run.
Look at this as an opportunity to buy in bulk if you can and save a little money on your grocery bill, too. If that’s not an option for you, don’t go out and buy unneeded items just to save space. Instead, add bags of ice to the freezer or containers of water to the fridge to take up the extra room.
Drought-tolerant plants are low maintenance and can make attractive additions to any home’s landscaping and curb appeal. Here are some things to know when considering adding drought-tolerant plants to your landscape: