In the real estate market, a home’s price is everything. Price it too high, and you’ll miss out on buyers, but price it too low, and you might cheat yourself out of valuable profits.
A real estate agent will help you determine where to set the price for selling your home, but having your own instincts is important, too. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re making this important decision:
Price for Website Searches
As with every other aspect of our lives these days, most home searches begin online. That comes with its own set of quirks, particularly around the way that prices are categorized on real estate website search engines.
Search results are often grouped in $10,000 or $20,000 increments. So, if you list your home at $205,000, you’re going to miss everyone looking in the $200,000 and under range. By changing the price to $199,000, you’re not losing much profit and gaining more potential buyers in return.
Review Comparable Sales
Again, the Internet makes this pretty easy to do. You can easily see what other homes on your street and in your neighborhood sold for, how long they were on the market, and whether any price reductions were needed to close the deal.
Use this comparable sale information as a starting point, but don’t feel beholden to it. Keep in mind that the market is always changing and you may need to adopt a different pricing strategy depending on where things are in your local market.
Think Like a Buyer
If you had to buy your home over again, how much would you pay for it? This might like a strange question, but it can help you get to the bottom of what prospective buyers might be thinking.
As a seller, you’ll always want to set the price as high as possible so you can get the biggest return on your investment. This might not always be the best idea, and thinking like a buyer can help you see when that’s happening by offering a different perspective.
Whether you’re new in town or have never taken the time to truly explore the Westside of Los Angeles, there are some must-do activities that can help you get to know your part of the city.
The Westside has its own communities, vibe and opportunities, with a little something to offer everyone. Here are 10 recommended things to do in your first 30 days living on the Westside of Los Angeles:
First Friday on Abbott Kinney. On the first Friday of every month, the art galleries, boutiques and shops along Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice stay open late to promote neighborhood merchants. But it’s as much about the people-watching and huge collection of food trucks as anything else.
Visit Catalina Island. Take the Catalina Express – there are more than 20 trips per day – from the ports in Long Beach for a day or weekend trip. Explore the shops and restaurants, or enjoy the amazing views with snorkeling or hiking.
The Getty Center. The most iconic museum in all of Los Angeles offers amazing views and wonderful architecture that rivals the art on display inside the walls. Bring a camera and plan on staying a full afternoon.
The Santa Monica Pier. One of the most popular destinations for tourists is still a worthwhile visit on a sunny afternoon. It is a great place for people-watching or to bring the kids, plus you can wander to nearby shopping and restaurants – including the Santa Monica Promenade – when you’re done.
Venture to Venice Beach. While it’s becoming more mainstream, the eclectic and sometimes kooky scene along Venice beach offers plenty of people-watching, from street performers to skateboarders and body builders, and plenty of opportunities for food and drinks.
Beach Cruise in South Bay. Grab a beach cruiser – there are plenty to rent if you have to – and cruise up and down the Marvin Braude Bike Path (known as The Strand in South Bay) to enjoy the spectacular beach front scenery. The path stretches 22 miles in all, and there are plenty of places to stop for food or drinks when you’re in the mood.
South Bay Farmer’s Markets. The South Bay communities produce farmer’s markets six days out of the week, offering amazing selections of fresh produce, flowers and hot eats to dazzle your senses.
Find Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. This amazing hidden world in Palos Verdes displays Southern California in all of its splendor, from the ocean views along the bluffs to the amazing marine life in the tide pools at low tide.
Hike to Eagle Rock in Topanga State Park. There are many hiking options on the Westside to choose from for those of all skill levels. The 1,957-foot summit at Eagle Rock offers rare serenity and views of the entire Westside.
What is your favorite weekend activity on the Westside? Check out these 10 ideas.
What is the one place you have yet to visit on the Westside of LA? See if it made this list.
What would you recommend as a must-do activity for a new Westside resident? See ideas here.
The decision to remodel your home is not one that should be made lightly. It’s a big investment of time and money, and like any investment, should be made with full knowledge of the risks and rewards associated with it.
Set Your Goals
Before you can start thinking about how much to spend on a home renovation, you need to determine what you are hoping to achieve with the project. Are you preparing to put your home on the market? Create a more comfortable space for your family? Something else entirely?
The answers to those questions will help you determine how extensive the renovation will be and how much you want to spend. The answers will provide a baseline for you to measure success when the remodel is finished.
Armed with your goals, it’s time to set specifics and attach costs to them. This includes ballpark costs on materials and labor.
It’s important to go into this process with an open mind so you can be realistic about the numbers. For example, you might go into the project thinking that you want granite countertops, but end up considering other options after you do some homework on the costs.
No cost should be left uncovered in this part of the process. You need to know exactly what you are paying for now; otherwise, you will run into unexpected costs later in the project once the renovation is underway.
Consider Financing Options
Once you have your goals and costs, the last step in setting your home renovation budget is figuring out how to pay for the project.
If you do not have the funds on hand for the project, you’ll need to consider some type of loan. You can refinance your home, take a home equity line of credit, or opt for another borrowing solution in consultation with your bank.
The option you choose will depend on what your budget is and what the rest of your financial picture looks like. Your bank can also advise you on whether your home renovation budget is correct given your home’s value and the rest of your assets.
Whether you’re trying to save money, help the environment, or both, a little energy saving is never a bad thing. Thanks to advances in technology and a trend toward sustainable home design, saving energy around the house has never been easier. Here are a few ways you can save energy!
These days, remote-controlled thermostats and other programs allow you to control your home’s temperature, light usage, and other elements no matter where you are in the world.
No more leaving lights on unnecessarily or setting the thermostat to a certain temperature while you are away; apps like Nest and August can save energy around your home while also allowing you to customize your home’s temperature to match your preferences.
While there is some upfront cost involved with investing in this technology, it will definitely pay for itself in then as you begin to save money on your electricity and heating bills over time.
Fill Your Refrigerator and Freezer
This seems 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.
Upgrade Your Appliances
This is another upfront investment, but one that’s well worth it in the end. Just about every type of major home appliance now comes in Energy Star certified models. These appliances reduce your home’s ecological footprint by using less energy and running more efficiently. Look for the Energy Star label on the appliance to make sure you are getting the real deal!
Whether it’s a natural disaster or a man-made one like a fire, there are many ways that your life — and your home — can change in an instant. Every disaster requires a unique response plan, but there are several general things you can do to make sure your home is prepared for whatever comes your way.
Organize, Organize, Organize
If you’ve lived through any type of disaster, you know that it’s a confusing, chaotic experience. The last thing you want in that situation is to be scrambling around the house trying to find something that you need or tripping over clutter while you are trying to evacuate.
Whenever possible, try to make sure that there are clear paths to the exits in your home. It might not seem like a big deal, but those extra few seconds that it takes to move something out of the way can make a huge difference in a disaster scenario.
Beyond that, have a “go” bag of disaster-prep supplies together in one place that you can quickly get to when you need it. This should include food, water, a first aid kit, batteries, cell phone chargers, and any other items you’ll need if you are forced to evacuate.
Create a Plan of Action
Once you have your home organized and your supplies ready, it’s time to make a plan for how your family will react when disaster strikes. Again, these situations are often chaotic so having a plan ready will allow everyone to go on autopilot rather than panicking.
Set a designated meeting place or places that everyone can agree on and easily get to. Make a list of people to contact and designed who will be responsible for doing so. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready program has a list of plans available for just about any type of disaster you can imagine.
Stone has long been regarded as a practical and decorative building material both outside and more recently inside your house. But, while builders have been including stone as a feature in construction, it has recently taken on new uses and become easier to work with thanks to modern technology.
Stone has also moved from inexpensive and lovely landscaping material to durable and aesthetically pleasing material for countertops and floors in the kitchen to foyer floor and family room fireplace.
While stone is widely available and thus less costly than many other building products, it takes an experienced stonemason to lay exterior walls, fireplaces, and floors with stone that has to be cut. It is durable and easy to maintain but labor-intensive to use as a construction material.
Once stone was considered a good exterior material. It was also great for fireplaces. Then builders began to explore with using stone in other parts of construction. Today, stone is used more than just the floor and countertops. It is even being used the walls! Stone has become a popular option for interior walls. Thanks to modern manufacturing, you can get the look and feel of solid stone in easy-to-apply stone veneers. They are a cinch to apply with today’s stone-veneer pieces. DIYers can do the work that once required a stonemason to give that solid stone appearance. Here is how it goes:
First, use a trowel to apply a thin-set mortar to the back of stone veneer. Next, press stone-veneer pieces onto your concrete wall. This can be a brand new wall or one from which you’ve removed wallpaper or paneling or paint. Be sure to scrape away excess mortar before it has a chance to harden. Use pre-cut stone corner pieces in each spot where walls meet.
Allow your handiwork to dry and fully cure. Then apply a clear sealant with a stiff brush. Allow sealant to dry and you’re done.
Just as a stonewall provides interest and beauty to the exterior of your home, a stone veneer wall can add interest to your home’s interior. It can be a feature wall or you may choose to do all walls in a den or a recreation room.
Stone veneer panels enhance the look of a home’s exterior or interest in a foyer, hall, or family room inside your home. Stone veneer panels can be used to make a fireplace insert give the appearance of a full-wall fireplace.
Interest in stone veneers has grown rapidly because of its versatility and ease of application. The new stone veneers come in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and surface textures. You might choose one that blends with the rest of the room décor or one that is an interesting contrast or focal point.
If you have a rustic log home, natural look stone will provide a homey contrast in fireplace, kitchen counter, or floors. If your home is an old Victorian, replacing painted or paneled walls with brick veneer will cover wall flaws that paint or paper cannot mask. For a Mexican décor, stone veneers that have a flat sandstone appearance are a good choice. There are many reasons why looking at the latest stone veneers for your next renovation project makes sense.
Buying a home is stressful enough, the last thing you want to worry about is home buyer fraud. But, even the savviest buyers might find themselves lured in by deceptive practices.
Keep these frequently-used schemes in mind when you are in the market for your next home.
The business of buying and selling homes revolves around mortgages. Unless you can afford to pay for your home in cash, you’ll need one in order to buy.
As such, there are many opportunities for predatory lenders to take advantage of prospective buyers. You might hear that you are qualified for way more money that you can actually afford to spend on a house because your mortgage lender misrepresented your income or is trying to ensure that you end up defaulting on your loan.
The best way to guard against this is to do your own math before applying for mortgage pre-approval. Look at your monthly income, expenses, and savings goals to determine how much money you have left over to allocate to your mortgage.
Match that with the estimated monthly payment on your mortgage to make sure the home you want fits in your price range. A good rule of thumb is that your mortgage payment should not take more than 25-30 percent of your monthly income.
A trustworthy mortgage broker can also help ensure that you will not take a mortgage you are not able to afford. Ask for recommendations from friends and family and look for someone who has your best interests in mind.
The other area where homebuyers can fall victim to scams is when it’s time to close on the home and make your down payment. The closing process is a complicated web of banks, title companies, and real estate brokers.
There are so many forms to complete and information to send; it’s easy to go on autopilot and provide whatever information is asked of you.
Because it’s such a large sum of money, many people rely on wire transfers to send the money to their bank. Be wary of third-party services set up to wire money and try to deliver your down payment directly to your bank if possible.
Summer is just around the corner. It’s time to give that BBQ a tune up so it is ready for summer grilling season. Here are some tips:
If you have a gas grill there are some safety rules. Take the tank off and give it a close look. Are there any dents, rust, or wear. Is the valve tight? Pour soapy water over the valve while it is open. Look for bubbles that indicate a leak. If so, fix or replace it.
Get that tank filled so it is ready for summer. If the tank looks worse for the wear, get a new one.
Check any hoses for wear or cracking. Are there holes? Is the hose securely attached at both ends? Use the soap water test on hoses with tank turned on. Replace any hoses that show bubbles.
If your BBQ has a built-in ignition switch, make sure it lights the grill and it burns with an even flame.
Clear burner tubes to avoid blockage like spider webs or debris. These can restrict gas flow and prevent the igniter from lighting. Brush portholes with a stainless steel brush moving up and down. This will keep debris from dropping back into the tubes.
Now that you’ve checked out your BBQ, leave it running for ten or fifteen minutes on high. This burns off last season’s build up. Use a wire brush to clean the grill. If the surface is porcelain let the BBQ cool. Then use warm soapy water to clean it. Soak if there are stubborn stains and use a plastic scouring pad to clean the porcelain grill surface.
If your grill has stainless steel tables, use a stainless steel cleaner and terry towels to avoid scratching the surface.
Lava rocks should be replaced annually.
If repairs are needed, make them right away so they do not become more costly or result in your having to buy a new BBQ. Like any machine, your grill requires maintenance and up keep.
If your grill uses charcoal, clean the outside first. Use a sponge and soapy water. Dry with a clean rag.
Next lift the lid. If your grill looks like paint is peeling, this is carbonized grease. Use a stainless steel brush to clean off this debris. Then use a sponge and soapy water. Lastly, rinse and dry your grill when you finish.
Taking these maintenance tips will ensure you’re ready for the BBQ season.
Being more mindful of your actions is a great way to improve your own sense of well-being and how you feel about the world around you. Expanding that mindfulness one step further into your relationships can have the same great benefits!
The more aware you are of how your partner is feeling, the better you can relate to them and provide the support they need. As you’ll see, even a little bit of effort can go a long way.
Be in the Moment
One of the best ways to practice mindfulness in your relationship is to make your partner the sole focus whenever the two of you are alone together, whether it’s having dinner or taking a walk or watching a movie.
If you’re on your phone or otherwise distracted, it sends a signal to your partner that, although you are physically with them, your mind is elsewhere. Over time, this can lead to feelings of anger and resentment that could damage your relationship.
Handle Problems with Ease
No relationship is perfect and there are bound to be problems that arise. Engaging in mindfulness helps ensure that you stay cool under pressure and do not fly off the handle at your partner if they make a mistake or do something that upsets you.
Being mindful allows you to take a step back from the situation and get to the bottom of what’s really going on, rather than just your surface-level reaction. You’ll find that cooler heads prevail and you are better equipped to work through relationship issues.
Be More Supportive
A practice of mindfulness makes you more in tune with what’s going on around you, which means you’ll be able to pick up on cues from your partner about what they need from your relationship.
This comes in the form of being a better listener when they directly ask for something, and noticing nonverbal signals that come from facial expressions and other gestures. You won’t become a mind reader overnight, but over time you’ll be able to better detect their needs before they ever say a word to you about what’s on their mind.
A bad mood can impact every part of your day--from your interactions with others to the choices you make about food and exercise.
In short, it’s no place you want to be long term. Here are a few easy ways to turn that bad mood around and get your day back on track.
Exercising might feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re in a bad mood, but I promise you that it’s totally worth it. The endorphin rush you get from working out will lift your spirits, and focusing on physical activity will help get your mind off of negative thoughts.
You don’t need a long or vigorous workout to reap the mood-boosting benefits. Even a brisk walk, or ten minutes of yoga poses at your desk can be enough to do the trick.
Laugh and Smile
Again, this is probably not high on your list of things to do when you’re in a bad mood, but even a few minutes of forced laughter can help remind you that things might not be so bad after all.
Queue up a funny video on YouTube, turn on one of your favorite songs, or call a friend to reminisce about a funny story. Any of these activities will trigger the release of feel-good hormones and lift your mood in no time.
This one might not be as easy to do on the spot, but taking time out of your day to help others reminds us that we are players in a much larger community.
Much like exercise, it’s a great way to get out of your own head and forget about your problems for a while. And, you’ll receive the boost that comes from doing a good deed.
This can be as simple as holding the door for someone, or offering to buy coffee for a coworker who might also be having a bad day. Commit to volunteering to keep those positive vibes going and achieve a more positive overall mental state.