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.

New Rent Control Law (1-1-2020)

KEY PROVISION

· If a landlord increases rent by more than this cap between March 15, 2019 and January 1, 2020, the rent on January 1, 2020 must be what the rent was on March 15, 2019, plus 5% plus CPI

· Authorizes landlords who increased rent by less than 5% plus CPI between March 15, 2019 and January 1, 2020 to increase the rent twice within 12 months of March 15, 2019, but not more than 5% plus CPI

· Beginning January 1, 2020, requires landlords to have just cause in order to evict tenants for tenants who have occupied a unit for at least 12 months, or up to 24 months when an adult tenant adds onto a lease (change in roommates)

· Landlords will still be able to evict for at-fault reasons, e.g., failure to pay rent, breach of lease, criminal activity, creating a nuisance, committing waste, refusal to execute a written extension or lease renewal, refusal to allow owner to enter

· Landlords can also evict for no-fault reasons, e.g., when the owner or their family plans to occupy the property, if they want to remove the property from the rental market, if they intend to substantially remodel the property, if they are ordered to vacate by a government agency or court

· Requires landlords to provide relocation assistance via one month’s rent or rent waiver for no-fault evictions within 15 calendar days of serving notice, and to notify tenants of the relocation assistance

· Does not amend Costa Hawkins, so local governments cannot apply a local rent cap to units not covered by Costa Hawkins (i.e., single family homes, multi-family units built after 1995)

· Does not contain vacancy decontrol provisions, so units can return to market rent prices when vacated

· Contains a 10-year sunset, so the requirements in the bill will expire in 2030

Economy Slows

The major economic data released this week was mostly weaker than expected, which reduced the outlook for future inflation. This was positive for mortgage rates, and they ended the week lower. 

As expected, Friday’s key monthly Employment report was consistent with a slower pace of job creation from the very strong levels seen over the last couple of years. Against a consensus forecast of 145,000, the economy gained 136,000 jobs in September, and upward revisions added another 45,000 to the results for prior months. The unemployment rate, which is calculated based on surveys of workers, unexpectedly declined from 3.7% to 3.5%, which was the lowest level since 1969.

 

The other major component of the labor market report contained much less encouraging news, however. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, were flat from August, far below the consensus for a substantial gain. They were 2.9% higher than a year ago, down from an annual rate of increase of 3.2% last month. 

In addition to the disappointing wage data, two closely watched reports from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) released this week revealed weaker than expected economic growth. The ISM national services index, which covers the bulk of U.S. economic activity, showed a sharp drop to 52.6, which was the lowest level since August 2016. The ISM national manufacturing index declined to just 47.8, which was the worst reading since June 2009.

Looking ahead, The JOLTS report, which measures job openings and labor turnover rates, will be released on Wednesday. Fed officials value this data to help round out their view of the strength of the labor market. The minutes from the September 17 Fed meeting also will come out on Wednesday. These detailed minutes provide additional insight into the debate between Fed officials about future monetary policy and have the potential to move markets. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be released on Thursday. CPI is a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services. In addition, news about the impeachment inquiry or the trade negotiations could influence mortgage rates. 

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.

The Landscaping Handbook

Having a yard can be both a blessing and a curse. The extra space is nice, but how can you make sure it’s properly cared for? These golden rules of landscaping can help ensure your lawn looks pristine all season long.

Work your way out

Your home is likely the largest portion of your yard, so it’s important to work your way out from the base of the house to the edge of your lawn. It’s easier to start small, where your lawn begins, than to end up with a disproportionate landscape.

Implement the rule of threes

There’s a reason three flowers in a vase look better than two—the rule of threes states that, by grouping items in a trio, the arrangement is more pleasing to the eye. The same goes for your landscaping, so keep shrubbery, flowers, and decorative items in threes.

Find balance

Our eyes are naturally drawn to clearly defined patterns, so utilize balance and contrast for your lawn by edging out flower beds, keeping pathways free and clear of weeds, and adding walls or fencing around areas you want to keep separate.

Capitalize on color

Nothing makes a lawn stand out more than complementary colors. If all of your flowers and plants are one color, your yard will look dull. Keep color theory in mind when gardening, and choose greenery in harmonizing shades.

Prioritize your plan

You’re bound to hit a few snags on the road to creating your landscaping masterpiece, but by having a plan, you can make sure you stick to your vision (and budget)!

8 Easy Ways to Eliminate Pet Odors from Your Home

If you’re one of those families that has multiple pets, you know it can be hard to keep your home clean and smelling fresh. Here are some tips on how to keep your home from smelling like a pet store!

Bathe and groom your pets regularly.
This will keep excess dirt, oils, dander, and any odors that may be on your pets’ coats from being carried throughout your house. Brushing and grooming can be done more often, since it is just as important. Whenever possible, brush your pets outside to prevent loose hair from finding its way onto and into furniture and carpeting.

Get rid of the hair on your furnishings.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a pet attachment or a lint roller to do away with loose hair at least once a week. If the lint roller or vacuum attachment isn’t working, try using a rubber glove (assuming that a little dampness is all right for your furniture, of course). Put in on your hand, moisten it a bit, and gently glide it over the surface.

Vacuum the floors.
You should try to vacuum your floors once or twice a week, depending on the number of pets you have in your home. This will help lessen the amount of hair and cat litter on the floor that leaves behind those lingering pet smells. You can also use a squeegee to pull up the stray hairs in your carpet that your vacuum can’t get to.

Check your air filters.
Pet hair can build up and clog your air filters. Be sure to change your air-conditioning or furnace filters at least every three to six months.

Be sure to always use disinfectants.
Many odors are caused by bacteria. Try using high-quality sanitizing cleaners that kill more than 99 percent of germs for those lingering odors and surface bacteria. Be sure to use products that are safe for curious tongues and noses!

Eliminate those urine odors right away.
If your pet has an accident inside, clean the area right away using an enzymatic cleaner. These are designed especially for eliminating pet odors and destroying any pheromones and molecules left behind.

Don’t forget to wash their bedding.
If your pet has a bed with a removable cover, be sure to wash that, as well as other pet bedding, at least twice a month.

Keep up with the litter box.
You should scoop the cat litter at least once a day. Keep the litter fresh with baking soda, as this can be used to absorb the smell. Try using a plug-in air freshener in the room where you keep the litter box.

Beginner’s Guide to Being a Landlord

Taking on the role of landlord is a huge undertaking. You have renters to find (and trustworthy ones at that), a property to look after, and being the go-between for the many different people involved in this process. Follow these tips to ensure that being a landlord is rewarding, rather than being a headache-inducing responsibility.

Screen tenants properly

Too often, landlords don’t screen potential tenants as thoroughly as they should, often causing mishaps further down the line. Don’t get so bogged down by other responsibilities that you forget to screen the people who will be living in your property. Look at credit scores, references, and if they have adequate employment before moving forward with an application.

Don’t short yourself

Your profit is coming from the rent, so make sure you’re charging the right amount to maximize your revenue. Look at the comps in the area, as well as accounting for any renovations you made to the space, and set the amount accordingly. You don’t want to short-change yourself, especially after the contract is signed and rent is locked into place.

Be as organized as possible

When it comes to managing a property and the tenants who live there, spreadsheets are your best friend. Keep track of important documents, make copies of everything, and stay on track with the various transactions and events that pop up throughout this process. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute if anything were to come up.

Make your guidelines clear

All of your rules and regulations should be outlined in the lease, but remember to reiterate in person. This is especially important concerning any pet restrictions, what day of the month rent is due, and what (or if) interior changes can be made to the space. Having these guidelines in writing is important, but it’s even more crucial to emphasize in person before the lease is signed.

Being a landlord can be a breeze if you follow these simple tips!