Rising Energy Prices and Tips to Keep Your Bills Down

With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas, and other fuels, the U.S. government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter.

Whether you heat your home with a furnace, boiler, or central heating, there are ways to save money on your monthly bill. Begin now to winterize your home as the cooler temperatures are ushered in. It’s always a good idea to have your furnace inspected as well as stock up on filters. A dirty filter makes your furnace/heat pump work harder which leads to higher heating bills. Change the filters about once a month.

There are simple things that add up that will help reduce your monthly bills.  A few inexpensive ideas:

Turn your thermostat down. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day.  Those eight hours can be while you are away at work. They also suggest having your thermostat set to 68 degrees when you are at home and dropping that even lower when you’re sleeping.

Run your ceiling fans in reverse. Hot air rises, so run your ceiling fan at a slow speed in reverse (counter clockwise) to push the warm air back down to floor level. Most ceiling fans have switches that allow you to change the direction of the motor rotation. 

Take advantage of the sunny days. Open your curtains and blinds on the south facing windows through the day,and feel how that sun heats up your home! Make sure you close them again once the sun sets to keep that heat inside. 30% of heating loss in a home happens through the windows, so the thicker the curtains and the shades – the better!

Seal up leaks. Check out your walls, windows, ceilings, doors, light fixtures, outlets and switches for any escaping air. Look for things like hole and gaps. Adding simple weather stripping around your windows and doors is the easiest and cheapest way to help keep the warm air in your home. Ducts tend to get small leaks over time which allow the heated air to escape. An easy and inexpensive fix to these leaks is using metallic tape found at any home improvement store. When you are not using your chimney, make sure the flue is shut to prevent warm air from escaping.

The Bottom Line: Bundle up! It could be an expensive winter ahead when it comes to heating your home. Check with your electric company to see if they have “even billing” where you spread your winter payments out over the whole year, paying the same amount each month. For now, the first step is to find the problems around your home and identify where you could be more energy efficient.

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What To Expect From A Realtor When Selling A Home

Prepare Your Home

An experienced Realtor will know how to maximize your property value so you can receive top dollar for your home. They will identify what improvements you should make to your home to increase the amount it will sell for. They will have the name of the best inspector in your area to check on the roof, sewer, drainage, fireplace, pool, etc., and then advise you to complete the repairs or to leave as-is for the buyer. They’ll also be able to recommend the best service providers with reasonable prices: an inspector, handyman, painter, landscaper, stager, etc.

Stage Your Home

First impressions are everything. It only takes 10 seconds for a buyer to decide whether or not they love the home. Those 10 seconds start counting down as soon as the buyer steps through the front door. If you want to wow the buyer, make sure that the first thing they see makes them feel welcomed and inspired. Staging can help your place look its best during the sales period without the cost or expense of a renovation. Your Realtor will help you get your home to that point so that it makes that positive first impression among potential buyers, from the time they look at the listing photos, to the moment they walk in the door. Buyers can’t imagine themselves in your house if it’s full of your family photos or souvenirs from your vacations, so invested, good Realtors will be upfront with you on what should go into storage.

Professional Photos

Once the home is prepped and stage, it will be ready for a photoshoot. Be sure, when interviewing Realtors to hire that they offer professional photography as part of their service. Today, buyers are online searching for a home and the photos are what’s piquing a buyer’s interest in your home and prompting them to take the next step in contacting their Realtor. Your Realtor’s and connection to a professional photographer will produce images that resonate and appeal to sellers. And the more photos the better.

Determine the Price

Maybe the most important task of a Realtor is setting a fair and competitive selling price for your home that will increase your odds of a quick sale. He will create a comparative market analysis (CMA) to review comparable homes nearby that are currently on the market, pending, or have recently sold. This will give you more information on what people are willing to pay for homes that are similar to yours, so, together, you can set a competitive price. The best Realtor will avoid giving in and just saying a price that will make you, the seller, happy. He should price each home using his training, understanding of the market and comparable sales.

Market Your Home

Your Realtor should blow away others in this arena. She should know how to get the word out using every available social media platform as well as any marketing channels that are available. Check out her website and social accounts. If she is lacking, maybe she isn’t the one for you. The photos should be phenomonal as well as videos.

Negotiating and Closing the Deal

The job of a Realtor is to get the most money for their clients home in the least amount of time. His ability to negotiate relies heavily on the local and national real estate market. More often than not though, the purchasing and selling of a home occurs quickly and must make decisive financial decisions during the negotiation process.  He should know you, the seller well and be aware of what is and is not negotiable. If an offer is made, he should let any other parties that have been interested to give them a last chance to make an offer. He will guide you through all of the paperwork and steps that need to be completed in the closing process and be there to hand over your keys to the new owner. 

The Bottom Line: Selling a house involves a lot of work. There are so many little details and loose ends that must be taken care of. It is crucial that you interview and find the best Realtor in your area that can not only sell your home faster and make you more money, but they can also make the selling process much less stressful.

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Title Insurance Myths

MYTH: Nobody needs title insurance

Everyone needs title insurance. You may think you know the entire history of the house you’re purchasing, but it’s impossible to know everything. Title insurance protects your right to the property in the event that a previously unknown heir claims ownership of the property if it is later revealed that the “sellers” were not the rightful owners, or if liens against the property resurface. If you have an owner’s title insurance policy, you will not be responsible for paying any of the fees associated with protecting your right to the property, should these types of issues arise.

MYTH: New construction homes don’t need title insurance

Your home could be brand new, but the land on which the house is built isn’t. Chances are, the land had several previous owners before construction began. Buying property on such land opens you up to certain risks tied to ownership issues from previous owners.

Disputed wills, easements, and property liens are just a few of the issues common to land ownership. You could get caught in between the mess and end up losing your resources or, worse still, your new property as well. Title insurance is crucial even for a new home and should be among your list of priorities during the closing process.

MYTH: If no one challenges ownership, then the title policy is a waste

At the closing, when you purchase a title insurance policy, the closing company does the bulk of the work behind the scenes. The title company goes through many steps to make sure that everything is in place by that time, including conducting a comprehensive title search and identifying any potential issues. The team investigates the entire history of the property to ensure that you, the buyer, will be aware of any problems that will need to be addressed before closing. By the time the closing comes around, the title company has completed a great deal of research and legwork for you.

MYTH: Title insurance offers only minimal protection

When you purchase a home, you receive the “title” to the property. This title is your legal right to own it. Early in the home buying process, a title search is conducted to review the history of the property and uncover any issues that could limit your right to ownership. Even after the most meticulous search of public records, there can be hidden title defects, such as tax liens, forged signatures, claims by ex-spouses, and recording errors. These title defects can remain undiscovered for months or even years after you purchase the home.

MYTH: Title insurance is the same thing as homeowner’s insurance

Homeowners insurance protects you so you have the resources to pay for any damage that might occur to your property. Title insurance protects you from anyone else claiming your home is theirs or for some prior owner’s back taxes or encumbrances or any other real property dispute

Title First Agency: Dedicated to innovation and passionate about service, Title First Agency is your comprehensive, nationwide resource for title and real estate settlement services. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Title First has branch offices throughout the Midwest and a robust virtual partner network throughout the country. Title First got its start in 1956 as an affiliate of a local law firm and has since emerged as one of the largest independent title agencies in the nation. Proudly servicing Realtorslendersbuildersdevelopers, law firms, buyers and sellers, Title First is equipped to serve your residential and commercial title and settlement needs.

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Beware of Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is a cybercrime not just limited to real estate—it can occur anytime someone is “wiring” money, aka transferring it electronically to another person or entity. In real estate, it can occur when a scammer poses as your Realtor, lawyer, or a title company representative, then convinces you to wire your down payment to their account, never to be seen again.

Mortgage wire fraud relies on a complicated hacking technique called phishing. In a phishing scam, a hacker uses fake emails, phone numbers or websites to impersonate someone you trust. They often use an email address or phone number that looks like the one your real estate agent or lender uses. These emails and texts can look authentic and even contain personal information that only someone you know would have. Of course, the scammer phishes your personal information out of your agent’s inbox beforehand.

Another technique used is called “spoofing” to make themselves seem more legitimate. Spoofing occurs when a scammer uses special software to mimic your agent or lender’s phone number or email. When a scammer calls or emails you from a spoofed account, it can look exactly like you’re talking to someone you trust.

The goal of mortgage wire fraud is to get your closing costs into an account that the scammer owns. The scammer may tell you that there’s been a last-minute change in their banking procedures. They might also tell you that they sent the wrong address the first time.

The truth is that the address the scammer gives you will go straight into their pockets. Once you initiate a wire transfer, it’s very difficult to get your money back. Mortgage wire fraud can leave you thousands of dollars in debt and delay your closing.

The Bottom Line: Buying and selling a home is an exciting time, but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers. Watch this video for four tips to protect your money and advice for what to do if you’ve been targeted by a scam.

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3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Mortgage

If you’re looking to purchase a new home, you’re probably going to need to get a mortgage. Mortgages are home loans that provide you with the upfront capital to purchase your home. In return, you’ll pay off the balance of the loan, along with interest, taxes, and insurance (known as the mortgage premium), over the course of time. 

Just like a credit card, a mortgage’s interest rate varies from borrower to borrower and lender to lender. Lenders assign interest rates based on their lending standards, your credit score, the current market, and a number of other factors. Terms can range from extremely favorable to jaw-droppingly expensive. 

Whether you’re looking to get the most favorable mortgage terms possible, or want to optimize an existing mortgage, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn 3 ways to get the most out of your mortgage.

Pay Attention to APR 

Looking to buy a home? There are a lot of different elements that go into home loans. It’s not just a matter of loan amount and interest rate; a mortgage includes taxes, premiums, closing costs, and more. This total amount sits under the umbrella of a single term: annual percentage rate, or APR. 

APR is the yearly rate of interest and other additional costs associated with your loan payment. For instance, a mortgage with an APR of 10% means you’ll be paying an additional 10% of your loan amount in fees each year. 

Here’s another thing to know about APR: it comes in two different forms. 

Fixed APR 

A fixed APR has a single rate for its lifetime. Your APR will remain the same throughout the entirety of your loan, regardless of changes in the market . 

Variable APR 

A variable APR, also known as an adjustable rate APR, is tied to an index, like the prime rate. If the associated index goes up, as does your APR. If it goes down, your APR does, too. 

Mortgage lenders know that many borrowers aren’t aware of the difference between APR and interest rate. They take advantage of this mistake by advertising mortgage rates with extremely low interest rates. What they don’t advertise is that the other factors that determine APR, like premiums, are extremely high, making the loan unfavorable. 

Don’t get fooled by a low interest rate; always look at APR for the full picture. 

Explore Refinancing Options 

If you’d like better terms on an existing mortgage, it may be time to look into refinancing. Through refinancing, a borrower can take out a new mortgage that both pays off the existing mortgage and offers them different  financial benefits, whether that may be lower interest rates, better payment terms, or even cash-out options. 

There are a few different ways to refinance your home. 

Rate and Term Refinance 

Rate and term refinancing is the most common type of refinancing. A borrower takes out a new loan that has different rates or terms than their original loan. They may be left with a new mortgage payment that has a lower interest rate, better monthly payment, or offers them other financial savings. 

Borrowers may opt for a rate and term refinance for a number of different reasons. The most common is a change in the market. When interest rates go down, those with fixed interest rates may refinance in an attempt to benefit from the more borrower-friendly market. Others may choose to refinance because they’ve made significant changes to their finances or credit score and believe that could earn them more favorable terms. Lastly, some may refinance to free up capital that allows them to meet other financial demands. 

Cash-Out Refinancing 

Has your home increased in value? If so, you may be able to take advantage of cash-out financing. Cash-out refinancing allows borrowers to utilize the new equity in their home to free up cash, in return for a higher loan amount. For instance, a borrower whose home has increased in value by $100k may opt to take the $100k in equity out of their home, and in turn they will owe $100k more on their refinanced loan. 

Cash-In Refinancing 

This type of refinancing allows a borrower to pay a significant portion of their loan down in a lump payment and, in turn, receive more favorable terms. 

Consider a Reverse Mortgage

Are you concerned about having enough funds to make it through retirement? It’s a common problem for many seniors. Come retirement age, they find themselves pinching pennies and worrying about how they might support themselves through the next few decades of their lives. Fortunately, there’s a type of mortgage designed exactly for this concern, known as a reverse mortgage. 

A reverse mortgage, also known as a home equity conversion mortgage, is a type of mortgage that allows you to leverage the equity in your home to free up cash to pay for virtually any expense.  

Unlike cash out refinancing, a reverse mortgage doesn’t require your home to have gone up in value in order to access capital. Istead, it’s a federally insured program that allows you to withdraw equity from your home—typically, in tax-free income. Reverse mortgages are also different from cash-out refinancing in that they don’t require monthly repayment. While payments are allowed, they aren’t required until you sell your home, vacate the property, or pass away. 

In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must meet the following requirements: 

+Age 62 or older

+Own at least 50% equity in your home

+Occupy the home as your primary residence

+Live in a single-family home, two to four-unit property, townhouse, or FHA-approved condo

+Have sufficient income or assets to cover property-related expenses like property taxes and mortgage insurance

Mortgages are a decades-long commitment. It’s important to make sure that the mortgage you choose suits your needs and enables you to live the life that you want to live. Fortunately, there are many options to find the right home loan or modify the terms of your current mortgage for a more favorable arrangement. Follow these tips to get the most out of your mortgage. 

Matt Casadona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. He is currently a contributing editor for 365 Business Tips. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys the San Diego life, traveling and music.

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Title Insurance Importance

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is an insurance policy or contract issued by a title company to protect the purchaser, owner or lender against a loss that may arise by reason of a defect in the ownership or interest in real property. In addition, title insurance companies agree to defend an owner or lender in court if there is an attack on the title of an insured property. 

Title insurance is different from other types of insurance in that it protects you, the insured, from any loss that may occur from matters or defects in the past that affect your property. Other types of insurance (such as auto insurance, life insurance or health insurance) cover you against losses that may occur in the future. Title insurance does not protect against a defect that may originate after your closing.

There are two basic types of title insurance policies:  Owner’s Title Insurance and Mortgagee’s Title Insurance.

An owner’s title insurance policy protects the owner’s interest as the buyer or owner of the property. As an owner, you want to have the same assurance as the lender that the investment you have made cannot be lost because of a problem or defect with the title. Since most property owners mortgage or borrow money at the time of purchase or during ownership, the lender can be expected to request protection of its investment against loss. Lenders know that many things can cause loss of title or that expenses are incurred while defending an attack; they insist upon a mortgage title insurance policy to protect their loan secured by the property.

Bottom Line. Why?

Errors in public records

To err is human, but when it affects your homeownership rights, those mistakes can be devastating. Clerical or filing errors could affect the deed or survey of your property and cause undo financial strain in order to resolve them.

Unknown liens

Prior owners of your property may not have been meticulous bookkeepers — or bill payers. And even though the former debt is not your own, banks or other financing companies can place liens on your property for unpaid debts even after you have closed on the sale. This is an especially worrisome issue with distressed properties.

Illegal deeds

While the chain of title on your property may appear perfectly sound, it’s possible that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind, or one who is reported single but in actuality married. These instances may affect the enforceability of prior deeds, affecting prior (and possibly present) ownership.

Missing heirs

When a person dies, the ownership of his home may fall to his heirs, or those namedwithin his will. However, those heirs are sometimes missing or unknown at the time of death. Other times, family members may contest the will for their own property rights. These scenarios — which can happen long after you have purchased the property — could affect your rights to the property.


Unfortunately, we don’t live in a completely honest world. Sometimes forged or fabricated documents that affect property ownership are filed within public records, obscuring the rightful ownership of the property. Once these forgeries come to light, your rights to your home may be in jeopardy.

Undiscovered encumbrances

When it comes to owning a home, three can be a crowd. At the time of purchase, you may not know that a third party holds a claim to all or part of your property — due to a former mortgage or lien, or non-financial claims, like restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your property.

Unknown easements

You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but an unknown easement may prohibit you from using it as you’d like, or could allow government agencies, businesses, or other parties to access all or portions of your property. While usually non-financial issues, easements can still affect your right to enjoy your property.

Boundary/survey disputes

You may have seen several surveys of your property prior to purchasing, however, other surveys may exist that show differing boundaries. Therefore, a neighbor or other party may be able to claim ownership to a portion of your property.

Undiscovered will

When a property owner dies with no apparent will or heir, the state may sell his or her assets, including the home. When you purchase such a home, you assume your rights as owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will may come to light and your rights to the property may be seriously jeopardized.

False impersonation of previous owner

Common and similar names can make it possible to falsely “impersonate” a property owner. If you purchase a home that was once sold by a false owner, you can risk losing your legal claim to the property.

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Financial Essentials to Prioritize when You Own a Home

Owning a home is one of the biggest and most important, if not the biggest and most important, financial responsibilities people take on in their lifetimes. Knowing which financial priorities to put first can be challenging, and many first-time homeowners can feel lost in the confusing world of mortgage payments, property taxes, and equity ownership.

We’ll help you clear a few things up. This post will walk you through which financial essentials you need to prioritize when you own a home. Whether you’re considering buying a home in the future, you’re a first-time homeowner, or you just need a refresher, check out this list to help get your home finances on track. 

Mortgage Payments

You guessed it: the first thing that you should absolutely prioritize when you own a home is making payments on your mortgage. A mortgage is a loan from a bank; the bank purchases the house, then you pay them back for it with interest.

For most people, purchasing a home outright isn’t exactly an option, so a mortgage is a way to make homeownership affordable. Mortgages require that you pay back the money you borrowed in monthly installments, so if you own a house, making sure you pay those installments is essential.

If you fail to pay your mortgage on time for a number of months, you may be subject to penalties imposed by the bank from which you borrowed the money. If you get far behind enough, you may get evicted. A good idea is not to take on a mortgage that requires payments more than 30% of your monthly income. However, the lower, the better.

Emergency Fund

Life happens. You might lose your job, or be faced with a large medical bill, or face expensive car repairs. That means that establishing an emergency fund is an important part of homeownership, as your ability to keep up mortgage payments will depend on having enough cash around in case your usual revenue stream dries up.

How much should you have on hand? The exact amount will vary depending on your personal finances. However, a good rule of thumb is to have somewhere between 3 and 6 months’ worth of wages saved up and easily accessible.

That may sound like an insurmountable task, but if you’re diligent about saving, it can be done. Start by aiming for having 3 months’ worth saved up. Then, once you’re there, slowly and steadily try to keep saving until you hit 6 months. Even if it’s a slog, your future self — the one with a sudden emergency — will thank you. 

Upkeep & Expenses

The next financial essential to prioritize is the regular upkeep, maintenance, and expenses that come with owning a home. Many first-time homeowners are surprised by how many unforeseen expenses pop up when you have a house. Here are a few to keep in mind: 

  • Gardening & housekeeping
  • Plumbing repairs
  • Electrical repairs
  • HOA fees (if they apply)
  • Reroofing, when necessary

Another expense to keep in mind is the property tax rate in your area. Property tax rates vary by state and by county, so you’ll need to research your specific county’s tax rate to know how much to set aside. Even for those who have completely paid off their mortgage, property taxes remain an expense to plan ahead for. 

Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list, and something might come up that you hadn’t anticipated at all. If you plan ahead, however, and keep money stashed aside to put toward housing needs, you’ll be in a much better financial position to tackle expenses as they arise. 


Not everyone who owns a house decides to have children, but for many, owning a home coincides with starting a family and having kids. If that’s your situation, and you’re considering having kids, it’s key that you financially plan ahead to the many expenses that come along with them.

Here is a handy list of a few of the expenses that come along with having a child, so you can more easily factor them into your budget:

  • A two-bedroom home, so your child can have their own room
  • Monthly baby care expenses like diapers, baby food, and doctor’s visits
  • Larger grocery budget to account for children’s meals
  • School supplies and expenses related to school trips and events
  • Children’s clothing and shoes
  • Medical expenses, like doctor’s visits, prescription medicine, vaccinations

If you do plan on having kids in the near future, or you already have some, It’s important to factor in all these expenses before deciding on a home to purchase. 

Your Will

Lastly, it’s critical that homeowners consider their wills. As we stated before, your home is often one of the biggest, most important purchases of your life. For many, it’s the largest asset they own. That means that, if they should have an untimely passing, knowing who the home will transfer ownership to is essential. 

It’s an unpleasant thing to have to think about, but in the long run, your next of kin will be glad for it. All too often, people pass on without having established a will, which can lead their family to fight over the property and assets that the deceased has left behind. In order to save your family that pain and frustration (in addition to the pain they would feel if you did pass away), it’s wise to establish a clear and direct will. 

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry; you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources available for those who want to establish their will. Online will services are one accessible option that many choose to use. You may also simply see if there are any law firms in your area that will help you put your will together.

Owning a home is a huge financial responsibility. However, with the right planning and prioritizing, you’ll find that the satisfaction of owning your own home is well worth all the financial effort that goes into it. 

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5 Ways to Make Your Laundry Room Work Better for Your Family

With most home washers and dryers stuck in a basement cellar or dingy garage, it can be hard to get laundry to feel like anything other than a boring chore. It feels counterproductive to handle laundry in a space that’s not pristine, and with no structure or space to a laundry room, those clean clothes too often become piles of unfolded laundry cluttering up other rooms in the house. 

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to spruce up your laundry room to make it a better place to wash, dry, and fold clothes for your family. From creative storage to just the right lighting, here are five ways to make your laundry room work better for your family

Close Off Your Laundry Room

First things first: make your laundry room into a distinct section of the house or room. If your washer and dryer are currently in a corner of a larger room, basement, or garage, create a distinct divider that makes the room its own space. 

Your laundry room may be more of a laundry closet, but you can still use a trendy divider that will help keep the laundry out of sight when you have company over or just can’t think about folding socks right now. For minimum effort and cost, a curtain rod and curtains can provide that division in any design you desire. 

Closing off your laundry room will not only separate your dirty laundry from the rest of your house, but also will provide a sound barrier so you won’t complain about the noise your washer and dryer make.

Other dividers, like barn doors or bamboo panels, are other great ideas based on the layout of your laundry room and the decor style of your house. You don’t have to break the bank to update your laundry room but it might be wise to factor in these costs as part of your financial goals for the year.

Install Good Lighting

Too many laundry rooms feel dim or dingy because the basement or garage lighting is subpar. Treat your laundry room lighting like any other room in the house, and invest in making it work for the space you have

Strong overhead lighting might be the best choice for your laundry room, but consider softer, subtler recessed lighting or lighting dedicated to your work surfaces for the best experience. If your laundry room is large and may function as a utility room for other projects as well, be sure to take that into consideration too—you’ll want excellent lighting if you’re ever refinishing furniture or mending torn clothes. 

Good lighting in your laundry room helps brighten the space and makes it feel like a place you want to spend time, rather than a place you are obligated to visit. 

Choose the Right Sink

No laundry room is complete without a sink. Hand wash your delicates, rinse out stains, and use it as a general utility sink for messy household projects. The best laundry room sink for your family can be a great improvement and will depend on a variety of factors, including laundry room space and whether you intend to use it for more than just rinsing clothes. 

Utility sinks are popular for many laundry rooms, as they have a large volume and deep basin. This makes it easy to thoroughly rinse out any article of clothing, even bulky things like jeans and sweaters. They’re also ideal for other household needs, like watering plants or even washing pets. 

These sinks are often installed as standalone items, but you can incorporate them into the rest of your laundry room with creative coverings to make a flat surface for folding and hide storage underneath. 

If you don’t have the space or budget for a massive utility sink, a smaller sink of any sort will still make it easier to do laundry. Make sure you install it near the washer for easy transfer of wet items, and try to preserve as much counter space as possible for folding. 

Choosing a quality sink will not only allow for ease of use, but should also hold up over time. Buying a sink that can stand the test of time is hugely important when owning a home, especially as you get older and can’t do so many repairs on your own. Quality fixtures could help boost the value of your home, which is important if you choose to sell or apply for a reverse mortgage loan

Get Creative with Your Storage

First things first in an ideal laundry room: clear the detergent bottles and dryer sheets off the top of the dryer. This feels like an inevitable layer of clutter in your laundry room, but without it, your laundry room will immediately feel a hundred times more pleasant. 

There are dozens of ways you can set up your laundry room storage in a way that works for you. Cabinets over your workstation or shelves and drawers in between them are common and simple solutions for most houses. Simplifying your space with a minimal approach can have an impact on your mood and clean sheets never hurt a good night’s sleep.

If you have a closet-sized laundry room, a simple shelf above the washer and dryer can hold all the laundry room essentials. Or, some washer and dryer models come with an optional storage drawer underneath the machine, another great option for tiny spaces. 

Regardless of the storage setup you have, don’t let empty bottles of detergent and fabric softener clutter up your space. Get rid of anything no longer being used, and keep smaller items like Tide pens or sewing kits in organizational bins on your shelves. When your laundry room feels neat and tidy, it won’t feel so tedious to do laundry. 

Set Up a Folding Station

The hardest part of doing laundry is getting it from dryer to dresser, neatly folding it in between. We’ve all said we’ll fold it later, only to find a laundry basket full of clean clothes on the couch or dining room table three days later. 

The solution? A folding station right in your laundry room. All you need is a flat surface, which can be in the form of a separate table or just a section of countertop along your washer and dryer. 

Folding clothes within the laundry room keeps the chore of laundry contained to one space instead of taking over your house. You can also build your folding station to precisely the height you’d like to fold clothes, instead of uncomfortably half-sitting on your couch or bed. 

To really level-up your laundry room game, install a curtain rod to hang-dry delicate items that can’t go in the dryer. It’s simple to install and creates a designated space to dry those articles of clothing, rather than hanging them in the bathroom or somewhere else inconvenient. 

Your Laundry Room Can Be Better!

Don’t just take our word for it—start organizing your laundry room today and see how much better it feels to have a special space just for that dreaded chore. Keeping laundry in the laundry room makes it an easier chore to manage and you just might get it done faster. Create a space you like to be in and see how much better your laundry can be done. 

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Unable to Pay Rent During COVID-19

The rent is due. But so much has changed since last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down businesses everywhere. Millions have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts. Because of this there are people who rent their homes and cannot pay their landlords who in turn can’t pay their mortgage. Some local governments have moved to stop evictions and foreclosures for everyone, and there are even some freezing rent and mortgage payments entirely.

If you are a tenant who can’t pay rent because of the stay-at-home order closing your place of employment, most states urge you to act quickly to uphold your rights.

  • Let your landlord know in writing as soon as possible, no later than 7 days after the rent is due. Make sure that it states that you can’t pay the full rent due to reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Get all documentation together that proves that you are unable to pay your rent. This may include notices of a layoff or reduction in hours, your pay stubs, bank statements, and any medical bills. If you can get a signed letter from your employer that explains the situation – even better.

Then, depending on where you live in America:

  • The $2.2 trillion stimulus package includes a moratorium on all evictions from any buildings financed with a federally backed mortgage. (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Department of Housing and Urban Development)
  • If you are not living in one of those federally financed buildings, there are many states that have issued broad moratoriums on evictions that apply to all rental units, with many lasing 30-90 days.
    • A moratorium means that your rent is deferred, and you will end up with back payments due when this emergency is over. There are advocacy groups calling for the cancellation of rent payments during this crisis which would include full or reduced payments and some further aid from the government.
  • In some states, evictions can’t happen because the court isn’t even in session.
  • There are 12 states that have not stopped evictions.

The Bottom Line: Laws vary by state and even making partial rent payments without coming to an agreement with your landlord won’t keep you from being evicted. Get informed of your rights and then reach out to your landlord. Google “tenants rights” in your city/state. Offer documentation as some renters who are still able to pay rent are unfortunately using this crisis to stop paying. Remember you are not alone. Millions of people around the country are in your shoes. For the most part, landlords want to keep you in your home. Whatever you end up agreeing to with them, get it in writing. Most importantly: keep yourself informed and educated.

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House Not Selling? Rent it? Lower Price?

If your home isn’t selling, you might be tempted to ask your Realtor if you should consider renting it out. There are a lot of factors to consider and often it is best to simply lower the price of your home:

  • How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations?
  • Because of the economy, many homeowners can no longer make their mortgage payments. What percent of tenants do you think can no longer afford to pay their rent?
  • Have you interviewed a few experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?
  • Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?
  • Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?
  • How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In-person?
  • Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs arise?
  • Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?
  • How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?
  • Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?
  • How much time do you have? When you rent out your home, you still have obligations as an owner. You need to make sure that you’re able to meet your tenants’ needs, such as repairs or emergencies while following all landlord and tenant laws. It helps to contact an experienced lawyer to learn more about these laws, too.
  • Are you financially prepared? Can you cover the cost of the mortgage if a tenant misses rent or if the house sits unoccupied for a few months? What about the cost of emergency repairs?
  • How much do you need to charge? You may want to charge enough rent to cover the cost of your mortgage, taxes, and insurance. If it’s feasible, you might want to set a rent that can partially cover repairs and earn extra income. Make sure that you’re able to ask for enough to prevent it from costing you money — and ask a real estate agent about fair market values in your area. If your rent amount is above fair market value, you may not find a tenant.
  • Can you afford the upkeep? Before putting your house up for rent, make all needed repairs. Take care of any other minor improvements that make the home presentable and allow you to get the rent amount you want.

The Bottom Line: There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether to rent or sell your house. Meet with your Realtor and evaluate your unique situation and make the choice that’s right for your needs and your financial future

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