Kelly’s Company Blog

Signs you can afford a bigger house

Written by Betty White of Moving Offices San Diego

You might be wondering whether you can afford a bigger house with more features than your current home. Well, that might just be the first sign you’re ready for relocation to your new, less humble abode. Unfortunately, that’s not the only sign you’ll need to pay attention to. You’ll need to check if you fit the criteria we’ll show you in the text below. Don’t worry – if now’s not the time, there will come a time you’ll be able to afford something bigger for yourself. Until then, watch out for these little signs you can afford a bigger house. Who knows? You might find out you’re ready for the purchase of a new home.

Is your debt-to-income ratio fairly low?

If your answer is a YES, that might be the sign you can afford a bigger home. Most banks will give you a loan if your debt-to-income ratio is below 43%. If not, that doesn’t mean they won’t give you a cent. It’s just that you’ll have fewer options at hand. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than the mentioned percentage, then it can be a sign you’re still not ready to purchase a new home. Maybe you’ll need to pay off your car debt instead?

A good credit score is a must

One of the signs you can afford a bigger home is a good credit score. You’re bound to get better mortgage rates. According to experts, a credit score over 800 is considered outstanding, while a little below that is considered very good. Anyway, don’t forget to check your credit score before plunging into the purchase of your new home. Also, don’t forget to check if you’ve got the cash for a down payment. Some folks say this, some folks say that, but a down payment of 20% is not common. Don’t worry! For example, the average down payment for 2020 was about 6%, which really isn’t that high.

A stable income

Well, who could’ve thought of this one? Okay, it probably goes without saying, but having a stable income is undoubtedly one of the ways you can determine you’re ready to buy a bigger home. You’ll need to be sure you’re happy with the current job and that your position is secure in the next five or so years. You’ll also need to pay attention to current (real-estate) market trends and the future of the company you’re currently working for. This seems like a lot to think about, but you know the good old saying – better safe than sorry

A bigger house in another state?

Some folks dream of a new home in another state. Let’s say you’re from Georgia and you want to move to the neighboring state of Florida. What’s the easiest way to achieve that? There are a couple of ways you can make your move easy and stress-free. The best one is hiring professionals to handle the task, of course. It might seem expensive at first, but it will actually save you money. How’s that possible? With cross-country relocation, it’s always easier to let the pros do all the work. Imagine your belongings get damaged during your DIY move. Who’s going to cover the damage? By hiring pros, your stuff is insured: if something happens to it during transport, you’ll get a nice refund.

Emergency fund, anyone?

Okay, purchasing your new home is one thing. Let’s say you have the funds to cover that part. But, what about the repairs you might need to do in your new place? An emergency fund is a must in that situation. Most folks spend a couple of thousands of dollars every year on home repairs and maintenance, although some find ways to renovate on a really tight budget. Having an emergency fund will make you more suitable for purchasing a bigger house, have no doubts about that. 

Do a test run

The title might be a little misleading, but here’s the thing – try to put some money aside each month. How much will it be? Let’s say you’ll have to stash your potential mortgage rate every month. Do it for a couple of months and check out how it affects your life. If you figure out it doesn’t work for you, you can delay purchasing a bigger home. When the experiment’s over, at least you’re going to reward yourself with the money you’ve saved. 

Do you depend on selling your current home?

If your new home purchase doesn’t depend on the money you’re going to get from the sale of your current house, it might mean you’re absolutely ready for the purchase of a bigger home. On the other hand – if you depend on the sale of your current home, it’s no biggie. Most people do. Just let your REALTOR® know that you need to sell your currect home in order to buy another home.

A conclusion on signs you can afford a bigger house

So, these were some of the signs you can afford a bigger house. Hopefully, when you’re done reading this, you’ll say: Oh, it looks like I’m ready for a bigger home. Sounds a little bit corny, but who cares? Your new home is just around the corner, waiting for you to occupy it. Unfortunately, we all know how directly finances shape our everyday lives. With a bit of luck and motivation, you can overcome the any roadblocks to the bigger home you have facing you. found ourselves in.

Photos used:

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Home Sellers’ FAQ: How (and Why) to Deep Clean Your House

Image via Pexels

Posted on my blog with permission of the writer, Susie Wilson. Check out more articles she has written on her blog at https://happierhome.net/blog/.

How important is cleanliness when it comes to selling your home? Deep cleaning may seem less urgent than everything else on a seller’s to-do list, but the truth is, a less-than-sparkling home can take thousands of dollars off its sale price.

Not only does cleanliness make a home shine, it also shows prospective buyers that you take pride in your property. That eases a buyer’s mind regarding any hidden problems that might be lurking below the surface.

From REALTOR Mary Kelly, here are answers to sellers’ top questions about deep cleaning.

What are the most important areas for sellers to deep clean?

Not every room in the house is created equally. Focus your cleaning efforts on
these areas for maximum impact.

***A clean house starts with curb appeal. Today’s Homeowner explains how to
spring clean the outside of your home step-by-step.

***The kitchen can make or break your home sale. Make sure yours impresses
with the help of a deep clean.

***Nothing is worse than a dirty bathroom. Learn how to clean your bathroom so you don’t miss a single spot.

***Skipping these 5 overlooked places to clean will make even the tidiest of
homes feel dingy.

***Proud pet parent? Learn how to get rid of pet smells fast.

Who should I hire to deep clean my home?

Not everyone has the time (or patience) to clean their house from top to
bottom. Outsourcing to cleaning crews is a fuss-free way to get your house
sparkling, but how do you choose the right professionals to entrust with your
home?

***First, start with these BBB tips: 7 tips for hiring a house cleaner to decide
whether to hire an independent cleaner or large cleaning business and find a
reputable cleaner.

***Most carpet “steam cleaners” actually use hot water extraction and cleaning chemicals. Hire a company that uses a true steam cleaner for a deeper, greener clean.

***You’ll also want a landscaping service to tidy up your home’s exterior. This
guide on how to find and hire a landscaper explains what to look for.

***Are you dealing with a mouse problem? You can find a reliable exterminator
near you by doing an online search for “best exterminator for mice” and using
websites like Angi.

What are the best tools for DIY deep cleaning?

Do you prefer to avoid the expense of professional cleaning? While more time-consuming, it’s possible to deep clean a house yourself when equipped with the right tools.

***Read up on the best way to clean windows, according to Good Housekeeping. (Hint: It doesn’t involve a squeegee.)

***Rent a steam cleaner from Home Depot to clean high touch areas, eliminate odors, and refresh grout.

****Check out these 12 clever house cleaning tools that’ll get all those hard-to-reach places.

***Don’t let dirt and grime distract buyers from all your home has to offer. Deep cleaning guarantees that your home shows off its best side when it hits the housing market. Whether you invest in DIY cleaning tools or let the professionals handle the dirty work, you’ll be glad you did.

Mary Kelly is the Real Estate Broker/Owner of Kelly Property Expert Inc.
who is ready to partner with you to ready your home to sell.
Reach out today! 912-387-9922

Revamping Your Home Office on a Shoestring Budget

Working from home is tough. Distractions abound and there are no coworkers to prop you up through the dreariest of tasks. Sprucing up your home workspace can make a world of difference to both your motivation and energy levels. … .Makeovers can be dirt-cheap.

Written by Susie Wilson. Check out more articles on her blog at https://happierhome.net/blog/.

Image via Unsplash

Working from home is tough. Distractions abound and there are no coworkers to prop you up through the dreariest of tasks. Sprucing up your home workspace can make a world of difference to both your motivation and energy levels. But you can’t really afford that, right? Nope! Makeovers can be dirt-cheap. Below are some tips on how to upgrade your home without burning a hole in your pocket:

Light a scented candle

Did you know that smells can make you happy and energetic? Scents like citrus and peppermint are known happiness boosters to science, says The Healthy, and they’re inexpensive. Lighting a scented candle while you’re working or adding a drop of oil to warm water can make your home office smell amazing.  

Move your home office

Moving your home office – from a living room to the kitchen, for example – is a simple but powerful way to change it for the better. Look for a space with lots of lighting and a good airflow – you need both to function optimally. Section off the space with dividers, if you can swing it, to give it a proper office feel. 

Decorate simply

Don’t underestimate décor! Beautifying your space boosts your mood and also truly makes that space yours and yours alone. Some ways to decorate include propping up childhood photos, hanging up a printout of a landscape, and spray painting your wall a calming shade of green or blue.   

Consider standing instead of sitting

According to Healthline, sitting too much is not good for your health. It can lead to heart disease and diabetes, not to mention you don’t burn any calories. Consider standing while you work, at least occasionally. Invest in a standing desk if you can. Putting a small coffee table on your desk also works in a pinch.

Put some books under your monitor

Ideally, your monitor should be at eye level when you’re sitting or standing. This prevents bad posture and neck problems. There are stands you can buy to bring up your laptop or monitor. You can also always build a small tower out of books you have lying around – and then put your screen on top.

Get a plant – or two or three

EcoWatch reports that having plants at home improves your mental health, bolsters your immune system, and even boosts productivity. Did we mention plants also look great, especially if they have flowers, and aren’t hard to care for? Place a potted plant or two around your desk if you haven’t already. 

Go ergonomic for extra comfort

Your health is important. Spending long hours scrunched up on an uncomfortable chair or couch, tapping away at a keyboard that hurts your fingers, is how you lose it quickly. Using ergonomic furniture – the kind that’s non-hurtful and supports your body – may be a good idea. Be aware that ergonomic furniture is costly.

Repair what’s broken if new furniture is out of reach

If you can’t afford new ergonomic furniture, you can fix up an old, super-comfortable couch or chair you have lying around (or found someone selling for cheap online). You can enlist an upholstery service to make it almost as good as new. A quick ‘reupholstering near me’ check on a search engine will bring up results.

If you do decide to use such a service, be sure to evaluate companies by checking their reviews online. Start by getting a quote from a company you like, after discussing your needs. How much will it cost? It depends on the condition of the item, the type of fabric, and whether you want something custom-designed. A large couch could cost anywhere from $1200 to $3500 to make pristine.

Conclusion

Revamping your home office not only makes it look and feel better, but it also helps you in practical ways – like by making your work easier. For best results and to keep yourself interested in the endeavor, make small changes to your home workspace every day. In a few weeks, you’ll be working in the office of your dreams. 

How to Find an Apartment Out of State

Written by Betty White of Moving Offices San Diego

Do you need to find an apartment out of state? These guidelines will help.

Life happens, and then we move.

Whether you’re moving for a more lucrative job offer, taking the leap for love, or simply need a change of pace, one thing lying in store for you is new apartment hunting. Apartment search can generally feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But, put 3,000 miles between you and that haystack, and the entire quest starts to seem virtually absurd, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be, though. With the tools and tips that follow, you should be able to find an apartment out of state with flying colors. 

All you need are a few tips and some careful planning.

Enlist the help of a local agent

When shopping for a house, most buyers decide to go with a certified real estate professional. An agent with local knowledge can advise them on the best towns and neighborhoods based on their criteria. They know the intricacies of the market exceptionally well, have their pulse on new listings, and so they streamline the entire buying process.

On the other hand, when it comes to finding a rental, people typically just find something available on Craigslist or Zillow and take it. They may not even realize, at the time, that some agents can help with finding an apartment for rent as well – and perhaps one that’s an even better fit. As someone who knows the market inside out, your rental agent will advise you on the best approach to apartment hunting, as well as your next steps. They’ll do all the legwork, such as vetting the landlords or scheduling showings before you even set foot in this city.

Agent’s fees can be a bit expensive, though. But, depending on the geographics, you may or may not be liable for footing the bill for your agent’s services. If you aren’t, then enlisting a REALTOR for their help should be a no-brainer. If, on the other hand, a tenant is the one who pays the agent’s fee, check with your employer to see if the company will help. Many employers may handle these costs because it saves them the expense of putting their employees up with a temporary accommodation while their employees search for a place to live.

Draw up a list of wants and needs

Let’s face it – some things can make or break the entire apartment-hunting experience. For instance, the breathtaking layout or design of the place hardly matters if you have to sit through an hour and a half long commute every day on your way back from work just to get home and enjoy it. Therefore, before you start your apartment search in a faraway city, make sure that you have a comprehensive list of your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves”. For example, if you are moving for work or school, it’s a good idea to try and find a home close by. And later, if you decide to take a long weekend to check out the city and shop around for apartments, you won’t waste precious time debating whether it has an in-unit laundry, smart home features, or a complex with a fitness center if that is something you really want.

By devising a list of must-haves as a first step makes the whole process easier!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Once you’ve created the list, start looking at listings – not too deeply, though. For now, you just want to poke around a bit to see what’s available and at what price. Also, you will want to see how your criteria will fit into your budget. Some amenities you are used to may cost more where you are moving.

Start to narrow down your search by location

Now that you know what you want in an apartment, it’s time to begin narrowing down your search by location. Have you chosen the city to live in yet? And, if you have, what about a neighborhood? Indeed, this choice involves a lot of considerations. Every city, and each one of its neighborhoods, has its unique flavor, and you may find that some places are a much better fit than others. Some of the most apparent factors include affordability and employment opportunities. Others, such as the climate and food scene, may seem secondary next to dollars-and-cents matters. But they can still significantly affect your quality of life and happiness.

Research the location

If you are working with a REALTOR to find an apartment out of state, then you can rely on him or her to provide a wealth of information about your chosen area. However, if you decide to go it alone, doing some due diligence is in order. It’s always best to check out the neighborhood in person and get a sense of it. But if you can’t, you can start your search on areas of interest in forums online or using websites such as Realtor.com. Here, you can ask people about the neighborhood that may be the best fit for you given your needs and budgetary constraints.

Find out as much as you can about your new city and its neighborhoods.

Photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash

Once you’ve got a few areas you might consider a good fit, it’s time to take your search to Google Maps. Street View offers you a chance to get a better sense of your destination and the surrounding area through a virtual tour. On Google Maps, you can also find out about your public transportation options. Use a tool like Walk Score to determine how a specific area measures up in terms of convenience and walkability. CityProtect, AreaVibes, and NeighborhoodScout will help you dig up crime statistics as well as the cost-of-living index data. Then, put it all together, and you’ll have a good foundation of information. Still, remember that only you know what is most important to you.

Seek local help

If you have friends in the given city, don’t hesitate to give them a buzz and ask about their experiences. A local contact may even be willing to preview an apartment or house out for you. On that same note, if you are relocating for a new role, your employer’s HR department or your new colleagues may be able to provide helpful resources on finding a place to live.

Take a virtual tour

Virtual tours and 3D touring tech is rapidly taking over the apartment-hunting experience. Technology is offering a new and much more efficient way of doing what used to seem impossible. It is the next best thing to in-person tours. This is the up side of technology wherein listing websites and apartment communities are using high-definition photographs, 360-degree imagery, video walkthroughs, and even virtual apartment tours to help renters get a better sense of their potential homes.

But it is not infrequent that an apartment looks more than ideal online, but then you end up disappointed when you actually see it in person. That is the downside of what is presented online. So seeking the help of a professional REALTOR and/or a friend or family member who will actually preview the house or apartment for you will be your best bet in knowing if the pictures and videos you see online truly present the property in its current condition.

Pound the pavement

Renting an apartment unseen should be your last resort. So, sooner or later, you will need to step away from your laptop and size up your favorites in person. Take as much time you can spare (a long weekend, or even a whole week, if possible) to visit the new state and city and see the apartments. Now, planning an interstate move is complex in its own right. It takes a lot of planning, preparation, an experienced moving crew, and – the right timeline. And if you’re pulling out all the stops to plan a relocation without stress, the last thing you want is to end up without a place to live when you arrive in your new city.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Book the trip to see your apartment in person, and sign the lease!

If you have a REALTOR in your corner, you needn’t worry. He or she will do all of the legwork setting up viewings, so all that’s left for you to do is show up for the scheduled appointments. If you don’t, you’ll want to take time to do that yourself. Be extra careful not to line up your listings too early because it’s very likely they will be gone by the time you get there. You will need to inquire about how quickly units typically get rented in the area you are looking to move. While a typical window varies from city to city, experts agree on two weeks as a sweet spot.

Never sign the dotted line before learning all about your prospective landlord’s reputation. Websites like Review My Landlord and Rate My Landlord can help you access city data on the building and your landlord, as well as read all about other renters’ experiences.

If all else fails

If this does not work out, apartments that specialize in short-term leases are another option, as well as subletters that are not as strict about timelines. These may be a bit more difficult to find. However, it will allow you to take your time looking for a more permanent solution. Finally, once you’ve managed to find an apartment out of state that perfectly fits your needs and wants, set aside some time to spend in the city, bring out the necessary paperwork and documentation, and finally sign the lease.

Photos used:

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https://pixabay.com/photos/needle-in-a-haystack-needle-haystack-1752846/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/thoughtful-couple-writing-in-notebook-while-moving-house-4246012/

https://unsplash.com/photos/7lvzopTxjOU

https://www.pexels.com/photo/city-fashion-people-woman-4451510/

Time to Rent Out Your Home? Consider These Pros and Cons First

Written by Susie Wilson. Check out more articles on her blog at https://happierhome.net/blog/.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Are you planning a move and trying to figure out what to do with your current home? While selling is always an option, many homeowners are choosing to rent out their properties instead. Renting can be the right move for some, but you may be wondering if it’s the right solution for you and your property. There are a lot of pros and cons to becoming a landlord, but these are the top items you need to address before making the final decision to rent out your home, brought to you by Mary Kelly, M.B.A, M.Ed., M.A.T.

You Need to Engage the Right Services

If you plan on renting out your property, you may be thinking of managing it yourself. While that’s not an impossible undertaking, it is important that you really consider what this will mean, which includes: advertising your rental, collecting rent, taking care of maintenance issues, and dealing with all of the other details that come with owning a rental property. That’s a lot for anyone to handle on their own.

Most people opt to hire a property manager. It may seem like a con to put out extra money for fees, but with the right company, it’s much more likely to feel like a pro. Just be sure to vet the company prior to signing any contracts. Look for property management companies that are completely transparent. This way, you’ll always know how well your investment is performing and won’t be surprised by hidden fees down the road.

There are also other services you can engage in the general upkeep of your rental, from cleaning to landscaping. For instance, landscape professionals can help conceive of (and maintain) a garden design to up your rental’s curb appeal, as well as privacy, to better draw in renters.

You Can Supplement Your Income With a Rental Property

A definite pro of owning rental properties is probably something you’ve already thought about: added income. If you’re savvy about renting out your home or any other investment property, you can definitely turn a nice profit. You’ll need to do some prep work before you can actually start earning a return on your investment, like setting reasonable rental rates and advertising your property to reliable tenants.

Again, working with a property manager can help you out with those tasks, but you can also complete them on your own. How much money can you expect to make? Talk with your property manager, or use an online calculator to figure out what kind of return on investment you can expect for your home.

It’s important to run your rental property as a business from the get-go. This will entail having a business plan, choosing an appropriate operating structure, creating a brand, and registering for the right permits and licenses. For more advice and guidance getting your rental property business going, check out the ZenBusiness starter guide.

You Still Need to Cover Costs When It Comes to Maintenance

Start-up expenses and property management fees are not the only expenses you need to think about when considering a rental property. You will also need to be sure you can cover the costs of maintaining an additional home. Aside from keeping your property appealing to potential tenants and preserving your investment, proper maintenance is also legally required when you have people renting out your home.

You need to be prepared to pay for common home repairs, like broken pipes and leaky roofing. Think about setting up a savings account specifically for those rental property repairs and know how much repairs will cost so you can plan ahead and be better prepared. Insurance on your rental property can help, as well, but you will need to make sure you actually have the right kind of coverage in order to protect your rental property. Therefore, a license insurance professional should be consulted.

You Can Take Advantage of Some Rental Income Tax Breaks

Yes, you are going to need to cover maintenance costs, and you may need to pay for a property manager and other services. Renting out your home for added income can still be well worth those nominal expenses. That’s especially true when you take potential tax breaks into account. Landlords can offset many of the costs associated with maintenance, advertising, and even property management fees by deducting some of those expenses from their taxes. Unless you are well versed in tax preparation, figuring out exact deductions and amounts can be tricky. Therefore, the benefits of having your taxes professionally prepared, instead of doing them yourself, will probably far outweigh any additional costs.

The bottom line is that becoming a landlord is a good way to put some extra funds into your bank account, but you have to be smart about your investment. If you are spending too much time or money maintaining your rental, you’re less likely to see benefits or profits.

It is best to go over the pros and cons of your situation, and then consult with a professional property manager before you decide to rent out your home. 

Marketing through a Pandemic: Cost-Effective Solutions for Builders and Flippers

Written by Suzie Wilson. Check out more articles on her blog at https://happierhome.net/blog/.

Image via Pexels

As a result of COVID-19 and the cancellation of networking events and trade shows that came with it, professional flippers and builders have had to turn to new marketing channels to build their business. Luckily, there are lots of cost-effective marketing outlets available to builders today. As you guide your business out of the COVID-19 pandemic, take advantage of these three marketing channels to connect with real estate professionals and buyers, courtesy of Realtor Mary Kelly of Kelly Property Expert, Inc.

3 low-cost marketing solutions for builders

1. A website

You have a basic landing page, but when’s the last time you looked at your business website, let alone updated it? With limited opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for small businesses to show up in search results. That means building a business website that’s attractive, easy to use, and search engine optimized.

Add an inquiry form or quote request feature to your business website to make it easy for new customers to reach out. The best business websites also include self-help features like a “frequently asked questions” page and prominent contact information.

Don’t neglect cybersecurity as you build your online presence. From ransomware and viruses to identity theft, there’s a lot to watch out for online.

2. Social media

There’s one more thing business websites need today: links to social media profiles. Image-heavy social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are powerful advertising platforms for home builders and flippers.

Don’t have a social media presence? Small businesses and contractors shouldn’t underestimate the impact of a strong social media presence. Not only is social media an inexpensive marketing tool, but it’s also a great way to showcase your work too. Sharing before-and-after photos, house inspiration, and realty content keeps your audience engaged.

Businesses can even employ social media ads for a small fee. Targeted social media ads ensure your advertising dollars go directly to the consumers most likely to patronize your business.

Finally, social media can be used to connect directly with local pros in the real estate business. Take advantage of Facebook and LinkedIn to reach out to real estate agents who can assist with scouting properties, timing sales, and planning your build.

3. Signage and direct mail

Classic marketing methods are still effective. For example, installing company signage at project sites is a great way to build brand awareness. Builders can also utilize direct mail campaigns to inform real estate professionals and potential buyers of upcoming projects.

A note about business basics

Creative marketing helps businesses navigate through the pandemic, but your marketing plan isn’t the only thing to revisit right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has also been a reminder to review your small business’s insurance coverage. Many businesses discovered their insurance doesn’t cover losses related to pandemics after it was too late. By reading the fine print now, you can make sure you’re covered for future crises.

Business liabilities easily become personal liabilities if you operate as a sole proprietorship. Before purchasing business insurance, register your small business as a limited liability corporation. LLCs are easy and inexpensive to form, making them a good fit for owner-operators. In fact, many business owners file LLC paperwork themselves.

Lastly, you might want to consider an outside service for handling things like payroll. By taking this fundamental function off your plate, you free up your focus for tending other matters. Accounting tools like Quickbooks offer advantages like automated check generation, time tracking, and auto tax payments, so you don’t have to worry about your essentials going awry. On top of that, there is tax penalty protection up to $25,000. Business owners can find a lot of peace of mind in just one simple service these days.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced entrepreneurs from all industries to rethink how they do business. While your business may usually rely on word-of-mouth marketing and face-to-face networking, there are plenty of marketing options that let you get your business’s name out there while keeping everyone safe. Now is a great time to invest in marketing channels built for the times.