Debbie Van Horn

Residential Real Estate Broker

Fonville Morisey, A Long & Foster Company

Top NC Agent Serving the Greater Triangle in North Carolina

Contact Me:

919.749.6000

dvh@debbievanhorn.com

 

The 4 DIY Bathroom Upgrade Errors

Remodeling your bathroom can make your home appear more valuable to prospective buyers. But be careful. Here are four common mistakes homeowners make when DIY upgrading the bathroom.

1. Not taking ventilation into account

We know you've realized the importance of the bathroom fan if you've ever been in a bind when guests are over … Well, we'll spare you the details. We know you get the whiff — uh, drift. It can be easy to forget about the fan when remodeling, though. Even if you're not replacing the fan, be sure to clean your old one.

2. Lying to yourself about your budget

Judging by your bathroom remodeling Pinterest board, you've got a lot of great ideas. But are they practical? Realistic? For example, can you afford that rain-simulating, foot-wide shower head? Separate fantasy from reality by being honest with yourself about what you can actually afford.

Pro tip: Something that's easy to forget about when renovating your bathroom is your water bill. Yeah. Think about it. You're going to be doing all this testing for your new appliances, running a lot of water — a lot more than usual. That means your bill's going to be a lot higher. Be sure to factor that into your budget.

3. Being too confident

Listen, we're sure you're the best DIYer there is. You made your baby's crib from old dining tables you found at garage sales, and you've grated down all your old soap bars into potpourri. We get it. But it takes a strong person to know when to ask for help. If upgrading your bathroom is turning out to be a bigger DIY job than you thought it would be, call a professional.

4. Rushing

The bulk of your time is spent visualizing your future beautiful bathroom, and most of your energy is spent gathering materials. You may spend a week or two in your paint-covered overalls, taking selfies in your demolished bathroom, effectively making it look like you're working. But we know the truth.

You've gotten bored with the project, but your deadline is approaching, so you start throwing things together. You start doing a bad job. Poor construction can bring down your property value, for one. And a crappy bathroom (no pun intended) won't make your house seem all that inviting to prospective homebuyers.

Put a deadline on visualization and material gathering, and make sure you have enough time to properly complete your bathroom and check to make sure there were no mistakes.

Need more remodeling advice? Send me an email anytime - I'm happy to help!

Source: Home Actions


Things You Might Not Think of When Refinancing Your Home

Are you planning to refinance your home this year? If you're interested in lowering your mortgage payments, decreasing your interest rate or more, chances are you've probably thought about whether or not you should refi your mortgage. This lengthy process can have a number of advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation, so you'll have to weigh your options carefully before taking the plunge.

When you're ready to learn more about preparing for a new mortgage, here are six things you might not think of when refinancing your home.

  1. You'll have to get an appraisal. You'll have to get an appraisal when refinancing your home, so keep your house's value and your savings in mind when determining whether or not you should pursue smaller monthly mortgage payments or a lower interest rate.
  2. You'll need to pay closing costs. You'll need to pay closing costs a second time when refinancing your home, so make sure you have an adequate amount of money saved to pay these upfront fees and any other costs associated with a mortgage refi.
  3. You'll have to go through the same process. To a certain extent, it's like buying a house all over again, so think back to when you bought your house and make up your mind about whether or not you can dedicate enough time to the effort.
  4. You'll need to get your credit checked. The bank is going to want to check your credit score when you're refinancing your home, so keep in mind that you won't be able to negotiate a better deal if your credit score is lower than it was when you were first approved for a mortgage.
  5. You'll have to think about the interest rate. Are rates higher than they were when you first financed? Are they lower? Even a small difference can mean a lot of money over time. Take into account the full picture: the number of months you'll be paying the new mortgage and the rate you'll be paying compared with your current timeline and rate.
  6. You'll need to live in your house a long time. Refinancing may not be worth it if you're planning to move in the near future. Figure out how long you plan to live in your current place and how much your closing costs will be before making the refi decision.

These six things you might not think of when refinancing your home are important to take into account before you start shopping around for a new mortgage. Because a refi can lead to a number of benefits and costs down the road depending on the outcome, you'll need to prepare for every scenario before making a commitment. 


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 Action