Debbie Van Horn

Residential Real Estate Broker

Fonville Morisey, A Long & Foster Company

Top NC Agent Serving the Greater Triangle in North Carolina

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Should You Become a Landlord?

Have you ever thought about becoming a landlord? Now may be a good time. The Urban Institute released a report with data detailing how the number of baby boomer renters is going to spike in the next 15 years. Because this phenomenon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for property owners and landlords, you can think about the benefits and costs associated with renting out a property.

The number of baby boomer renters is expected to more than double from 2010 to 2030, so weigh your options to determine whether or not you should invest in rental property, becoming a landlord.

Why you should become a landlord

  • It's a medium for long-term wealth. The road to long-term wealth is a reason you should become a landlord, because you can make an investment in an apartment building and then collect rent from the residents to make money over time.
  • It's a route to retirement savings. This secret to adequate retirement savings is a second reason you should become a landlord, given that you can put the extra income into a retirement account alongside your Social Security and 401(k) income.
  • It's an avenue to extra cash. A source of extra cash is a third reason you should become a landlord, because you can borrow money to buy a building, let the renters pay off the mortgage and then profit from the net income after every set of bills is paid.

Why you should not become a landlord

  • It's a time-consuming endeavor. The guarantee of a secure financial future comes at a price if you're a landlord, because you'll have to dedicate time at night and on the weekends to making repairs, dealing with tenants and more.
  • It's a risky pastime. This prosperous retirement plan is the result of hard work if you become a landlord, given that you will have to solve conflicts with subcontractors, lenders and business partners.
  • It's an uncertain undertaking. A plump savings account is the end goal of your time in real estate as a landlord, because you will have to balance your flow of loans and tenants successfully to stay afloat.

Despite the drawbacks, however, it can be a great opportunity, and it's worth thinking about. The number of seniors living in rental units is expected to go from 5.8 million to 12.2 million over the course of the next two decades. Because this trend is something every property owner and landlord should pay attention to moving forward, it's also a unique opportunity for you to become a landlord and cater to this growing population of baby boomer renters.

A plan to invest in a rental property to work as a landlord could pay off over the next few years, so decide today whether or not this occupation is right for you to help secure your financial future. If you want to explore investment properties, give me a call!

Source: Home Actions

Create More Family Time By Staying Organized

Wishing for efficient, effective home care? Make yourself a plan to tackle everything your busy life throws at you and make your job as Mom or Dad easier. Here are eight tips for keeping your family organized by implementing a home organization routine that will streamline your life.

  1. Downsize and donate. Create donation boxes dedicated to toys, clothes and household items you don't want in order to make room for new things while also lending a helping hand.
  2. Get rid of clutter. Imagine the daunting buildup of useless stuff you'll face at the dawn of 2018 if you don't take the time this year to give away things you don't need while getting rid of any unnecessary clutter in and around your home.
  3. Label shelves, drawers and containers. Fantasizing about your kids picking up after themselves will be so 2016 once you label the places where everything you've decided to keep will go, and make it easy for everyone to put things back in the right places.
  4. Clean storage spaces. Enjoy your clutter-free home even more after you empty your storage areas, such as drawers, closets and cabinets; clean them thoroughly; and put the items back in an orderly fashion.
  5. Plan meals ahead of time. Appreciating your clean living spaces is something you can do after you've completed your other duties as a parent, so start by planning your meals a day ahead to make your life easier.
  6. Organize work and play time. Munching on your well-thought-out meals is much more satisfying when your kids have finished their homework and you've completed your full day of work, so mark designated working and relaxing hours on your calendar to keep everyone in your family on track.
  7. Narrow down extracurricular activities. Benefiting from scheduled work and fun time is even easier when everyone is focused on and dedicated to their hobbies, so limit your kids to three hobbies per season, and cut back on the running around you have to do on a weekly basis.
  8. Make a schedule. Bask in your beautiful, organized home and high-functioning family life once you've made a weekly schedule dedicated to carrying out each and every tip successfully throughout the year.

A fast, simple route to an orderly living space and a prosperous family life is what every family needs. This collection of eight tips for keeping your family organized is a great place to start, so take each one to heart and make it work for you and your loved ones. When you're ready to take the next steps toward an active home organization system, I'm only a phone call away.

Source: Home Actions

Expenses Homebuyers Often Overlook

Buying a home can be a very exciting process, but it is also one that can be riddled with unexpected expenses. Saving up for the down payment is only the first entry on a long list of expenses. Even once the home is purchased, the long-term increase in costs can come as a surprise to some.

Read on to learn some of the commonly overlooked costs that can shock new buyers.

1. Home inspection. Once you have made an offer on a home, you will be required to have the home inspected. This is mostly for the benefit of the buyer — an inspection can uncover problems that can be costly down the road — but it is a $200-$600 expense that comes right on the heels of your down payment.

2. Home appraisal. At the same time as you have the home inspection done, you will need to have the home appraised by a lender-approved, independent certified home appraiser. This individual will assess your property's value based on several factors, including your home's specific features as well as the sale price of similar properties in the area.

3. Property taxes. Sure, everyone knows about these, but the amounts can vary wildly from one locale to another, so don't make assumptions. Check your rates early in the process. Once you agree to a mortgage, you will typically be required to set up an escrow account. Into this account, you will deposit a monthly amount that covers your mortgage in addition to 1/12 of your anticipated property taxes and homeowners' insurance. This helps to assure the lender that you will be adequately protecting and insuring their investment, but it is an extra monthly amount that you might not be prepared for.

4. Utility costs. Like taxes, these can vary wildly. If you are moving from an apartment into a home for the first time, you might be shocked by the discrepancy in your monthly utility bills. In general, it is cheaper and easier to keep an apartment heated or air conditioned since it is surrounded on every side by other units of a similar temperature. A stand-alone home does not have this luxury, so make sure you anticipate higher-than-usual utility bills after relocating.

5. Homeowners' association fees. If you live in a community that is overseen by a homeowners' association, you will usually be expected to pay annual dues. Be sure to anticipate this expense, because it can easily come in the form of a several-hundred-dollar bill at the end of the year.

6. Flood insurance. If you live in an area that is prone to floods or hurricanes, make sure you purchase an additional insurance policy; standard homeowners' insurance will not cover these natural disasters. Speak with your insurance agent about the need for flood insurance.

7. Long-term maintenance costs. New homeowners in particular tend to forget that they are solely responsible for all maintenance costs. While you might only encounter an expensive repair once every five to 10 years, it is important to have a long-term savings account dedicated to home repairs. Experts recommend allocating 1 percent of the home's value toward home repairs each year. For example, if your house is worth $300,000, you should try to save $3,000 annually toward home repairs.

Source: Home Actions

Remodeling Magazine: 2016 Cost vs Value Report

When considering a major home renovation, it's smart to have an idea of what your return on investment will be. Every year Remodeling Magazine releases a report on cost vs value of various remodeling projects based on tons of data collected.

For the Raleigh area, the top three were:

*Attic Insulation

*Back up Generator

*Basement Remodel

Please note that none of the projects offer a 100% investment -- so it's wise when remodeling to also make sure it is something you will enjoy!

Check out the full Raleigh Cost vs Value Report or send an email to and I'm happy to send you a pdf version.

Hidden Ways You're Raising Your Energy Bills

Ever stare at your energy bill and wonder what is costing you so much money? Is it your kids' TV habits, or the washer or the dryer that is running up your energy bills? While your initial guess might be right — yes, your furnace and air conditioners are the biggest culprits of energy usage — you might be surprised by the amount of energy some of your smaller, everyday appliances are using.

1. Your Cable Box
While everyone has their never-ending list of must-binge TV shows, could you ever imagine that the cable box alone is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home? Whether or not you are watching TV, it is still using energy. A digital recorder estimates that the cable box in your home costs around $8 per month. Surprisingly enough, even if you have your box turned off, it's still using energy. TIP: Make a habit of unplugging your box at night; just don't forget to plug it back in when you're trying to watch TV again.

2. Gaming System
Second to the cable box comes the gaming system. While gaming systems are pretty energy-efficient these days, avid gamers spend approximately $40 extra per year on energy bills. TIP: Cut back gaming time.

3. Washer and Dryer
While some might think that paying $1.00 for a load of laundry at a Laundromat is expensive, the average homeowner spends around $400 per year just to keep their clothes clean and dry. A lot more than you thought, right? TIP: Since cutting back on the amount of laundry you do isn't the most efficient solution, try using energy-efficient appliances instead. While they may seem to present a pricey upfront cost, they will be well worth it in the long term. Upgrade your appliances to newer models for more savings in the long term. Also, try washing your clothes in cold water. To dry your clothes, add a dry towel to the load to absorb some of the moisture along the way, and cut the drying time in half.

4. Computers and Wi-Fi
In the technologically advanced world of today, computers and internet access are pretty much essential to daily life. While you're mindlessly searching the internet, answering emails and shopping online, it might quickly slip your mind how much you are spending to keep that connection going.

The use of computers and the internet costs on average $50 to $70 per year, which greatly varies depending on the number of users and what they are doing. Heavy video use and increased time online can all greatly increase this number. For individuals whose work relies on a computer and a strong internet connection, this number is likely much higher. TIP: How many times do you really need to view that video of the baby panda bears?

These are only a few of the appliances that raise your monthly bill — some more surprising than others. It's good to be mindful of your energy usage and keep it in control to maintain your energy costs.

Source: Home Actions