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Autumn Cleaning Checklist

Working 9 to 5 (with a Clean House)

When you dedicate more than 40 hours a week to your job, oftentimes other obligations fall to the wayside—like the upkeep of your home. Although balancing your time is a juggling act, these tips will help you stay ahead of the cleaning throughout the week.

Start small.  
When it comes to cleaning, small efforts can make all the difference. In fact, just simply straightening up before you to go bed—i.e. washing the dishes, folding and putting away laundry, and picking up after your family—will help you start the next morning off on the right foot. Because really, who doesn’t want to wake up to an organized living space?

Ensure that every minute counts.
With a busy schedule, time is of the essence. Since nobody enjoys coming home to a mess, there are a few things that can be done while you’re away at work. Before you leave, consider throwing in a load of laundry, and hanging it to dry once you return. Since most dishwashers have a heated dry feature they can run during the day. Another option is utilizing a robotic vacuum that can run on a set schedule.

Create, and stick to a schedule.  
Like anything else in life, a schedule can help immensely with cleaning. Creating and sticking to a schedule will enable you to chip away at the chores throughout the week, and not feel completely overwhelmed on the weekends. Consider breaking down the tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal goals. Download this printable household cleaning schedule to keep your housework running like clockwork.

Make it a game.
If you have children, getting them involved can make a world of difference. To keep them interested, consider making the cleaning process a game. Simple things like hanging a chart on the refrigerator and offering an incentive once they complete a certain number of tasks will keep them entertained. Keeping it fun will help to teach them how to clean up after themselves, all the while making less work for you.

Practicing these tips will help keep your house in tip-top shape, regardless of your work schedule!

Stuck in the Renting Rut

If you’ve been renting an apartment for longer than you’ve had a Facebook, don’t worry—you’re not the only one. But if you’ve been teetering on the fence of buying or renting, going over the pros and cons, all whilst watching your friends settle into their own place, it might be time to say goodbye to the landlord.

It’s normal to be afraid to take the plunge into home-buying territory, but with the help of a great agent and a little research, you can determine if the time is right for you.

If you have a healthy savings account.
Perhaps the scariest part about buying a home is making the financial commitment, but if you’ve managed to save enough (and then some) to put a down payment of at least 10 percent, you should feel confident in your ability to make the purchase.

If you’re ready to commit.
Another common qualm about buying a home is the uncertainty of where you will be a year or two from now. However, if you have a steady job and are happy with the location, there’s really no reason for concern.

If the price is right.
An agent can help you determine whether or not the price you are looking to pay is reasonable for your specifications and needs in a home, but ultimately, if the market is favorable and you’ve found the right deal, there’s no better time than the present.

If you’re sick of pouring money into someone else’s pocket.
It sounds harsh, but if you’ve been renting for three, five, or even ten years, you have been spending thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t even truly belong to you when all is said and done. Sure, a mortgage is likely more than your current rent, but you’ll have a place to really call your own.

To Rent or Not to Rent

Today’s market shows that really no matter where you live, you are likely to have renters interested in your property. People are utilizing sites like VRBO and Airbnb in record numbers, but there are plenty of things to consider before putting your space up for rent this season.

Know the rules.
First and foremost, it’s important to make sure that renting your home falls within the specific guidelines and regulations in your state and county. These rules vary greatly depending on what part of the country you are in, so you’ll need to make sure you are following protocol.

Clear your schedule.
Preparing your home for rental can be time-consuming to start, but once you get in the swing of things, it shouldn’t involve too much time and energy on your end. Some of the basic tasks you will need to consider are advertising, responding to inquiries, handling taxes, managing maintenance, and hiring service people (e.g. housekeepers and handymen).

Market your home.
Getting renters to want to stay in your home shouldn’t be difficult, so long as you know what people are looking for. When searching for a vacation property, most people consider its proximity to popular attractions, accessibility and size, available dates, and cost. Be sure to check the going rates for other rentals in your area, and focus on advertising your space’s closeness to must-do activities, fine dining, and kid-friendly spots.

Make it stand out.
Your home will likely be up against hundreds of other rentals, so you’ll want to make sure to emphasize special deals and amenities. If you have things like a pool, an HD television, a large movie collection, or beach equipment in the shed, you will want to highlight it so you let potential renters know that your space is one of the best!

Protect yourself.
Anytime you open your home to strangers you, are leaving your personal property and belongings in the hands of others, and, accidents do happen. If you plan on renting your space for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to consider taking anything valuable with you or placing it in storage. It might seem like a pain to have to remove these things, but it’s worth the hassle to prevent damage or added expenses later.

Your Home, Your Investment

When you purchase a home, don’t just think of it as a new place to live, think of it as an investment in your future. Real estate can be a solid, long-term investment for you and your family when you consider the pros and cons of your acquisition.

Market health

The real estate market has its ups and downs, but, generally, the health of a particular area is predictable by looking at trends over time. Do your research on the neighborhood before you buy.

Selling or renting

Buying a home with the intention to sell or even rent later can sometimes be a lucrative option for buyers. Research the property thoroughly, and make sure there aren’t any hidden factors or rules to negatively impact its value.

Little by little

There’s no need to completely renovate your home overnight. Investing your money back into the property little by little—through small changes over time—will keep you from going under financially.

Increasing value

Like the overall market, your home’s value will likely fluctuate over time. But there are plenty of simple ways to increase your home’s value such as adding environmentally friendly appliances and updating the floor plan.

The Facts about Fall Home Buying

People love autumn for many reasons. For buying homes? Not so much. But this doesn’t mean autumn doesn’t have its own distinct benefits if you’re in the market for a new home.

fall leaves

Crunch time has arrived.

For homeowners whose property is still on the market after summer, nervousness is likely settling in—their house still hasn’t sold, and the holidays are approaching—so they might be motivated to negotiate, sell, and settle before the holidays hit.

Less competition.

Looking for a home in peak buying seasons can be a war of attrition. Warm-weather home buyers are like shoppers who fight crowds to pay full price for the holiday’s must-have gift. By home shopping in autumn, you’ll be like the shopper who gets the same gift—without the competitive stress.

Better values abound.

A RealtyTrac study found that October is the best month of the year to find home-buying bargains, with a 2.6 percent discount on market value. And a recent Trulia study determined that fall is even more advantageous for first-time home buyers because of the availability of starter homes peak in autumn.

empty road

More personalized attention.

Your real estate agent likely has much more client activity during the spring and summer, so come fall, he or she will have more time to focus more on you and your home-buying needs.

Move on It: Finding a Hot Neighborhood

Trying to get in on an up-and-coming neighborhood before it gets big? The signs are clear—all you have to do is keep your eyes open for some of these big changes.

Catch a ride

Improvements in transportation—mostly in public transit—are a marker of an uptick in residents. As a neighborhood grows, so too does the need for increased mobility for its inhabitants.

Setting up shop

Large corporations won’t simply open a store just anywhere. Retail and wholesale giants like Walmart are a good indicator that there is about to be a population surge, or at least that a town is not going downhill anytime soon.

Back to work

People will always gravitate to where there are jobs. A healthy employment rate can also be a good sign that, even if the population isn’t booming yet, there should be plenty of people moving in soon.

An eclectic menu

A trendy restaurant has a knack for bringing in not only locals but also out-of-towners who will spread the word. Pretty soon, other hip businesses open up and, before you know it, the town is full of cultural attractions.

The cost of being cool

Generally speaking, as a neighborhood becomes more in demand, the cost of living will increase. Rising rent, increasing home prices, and price hikes in surrounding stores are a gauge that an area is on the rise.

In the know

Before doing the work yourself, talk to a local real estate agent who’s knowledgeable about the area. This can help you understand the rise and fall of the market as a whole, helping you move into your dream area before it gets too expensive.


Check out americanlifestylemag.com/home for even more real estate tips.