Jill Kelly's Blog
Science fiction has long reveled in the concept of autonomous homes and transportation. But it wasn’t until very recently that these dreams started to edge their way into reality. With semi-autonomous vehicles on the manufacturing line and “home assistants” like Google Home flying off the shelves, today’s average homeowner now has options.
The growing number of home automation technologies is encouraging even more innovation in a burgeoning market. But, the newness of these devices and the confusion around what they actually do can make it difficult to decide which one to bring into your home.
In today’s post, I’m going to introduce you to some of today’s most handy smart home devices to burden the workload of homeownership and give you some tips on which of the best technologies are yet to come.
One of the first smart home devices to hit the shelves was arguably the home assistant. They look like small Bluetooth speakers but have the ability to respond to your voice commands. So far, the front runners are the Google Home and Amazon Echo, but there are a number of other brands in the running as well.
Many of the tasks you use a smartphone for can also be easily accomplished with a home assistant. Tell it to set or turn off your alarms, look up things on Google, ask about the weather, play music, and so on. The Amazon Echo functions similarly but also integrates with other smart home systems so you can control things like your lights and coffee maker just by asking.
Many home automation manufacturers have taken to selling kits that enable you to automate your home one outlet or device at a time. You can then control these devices with your smartphone, whether you’re at home or at the office. (Ever get worried you left the iron on? No more!)
The best part of these devices is how customizable they are and the fact that many integrate with assistants like Amazon Echo. However, some systems, like Samsung’s SmartThings, has its own central “hub” that connects your devices.
Smart home security
Security companies were one of the earliest adopters of automation. Today, many of the biggest home security companies (think ADT and Vivint) aren’t just making your home safer, they’re also making your life easier.
Common among these smart home security systems are things like cameras you can control with your smartphone from work, alerts from smoke and CO detectors, and door and window sensors to alert you if someone enters, or attempts to enter, your home.
These technologies are still evolving. That means each year newer, better devices will hit the market. However, this process of innovation will also drive down prices, which is good news for you as a homeowner and consumer. So, think about what your specific needs are and choose the products that fit them. And, if you’re not sure about any of the products on the market, don’t be afraid to hold off--the next best thing is right around the corner.
Most new home shoppers have a list of must-have features in their new abode. Having such a list is a great way to zero in on which houses will make the cut and which are off your list. You will also be able to have a more clear idea of how much of your budget to allocate for upgrades after the final sale for any missing features. Afterall with such a large investment shouldn’t your new house be your dream home?
Here four sensible upscale upgrades you’ll want to add to your list ASAP.
Radiant heat flooring throughout the home will keep your feet warm and room temperatures steady. Your energy bill will be cut significantly while also avoiding the on/off repetition of other heating systems that leave you hot and cold. The only flooring radiant heat doesn’t work well with is carpeting. So if your home has any consider this your ticket to finally replacing them with some gorgeous hardwoods.
Whole-house electrostatic precipitator is installed into the ductwork of your home's forced air heating system. The electrostatic allows these electrically charged filters to catch particles like pollen, smoke, and dander as if they were a magnet. And while installing this system is an investment upfront, unlike other filtration systems you don’t need to buy replacement screens each month. Instead, you simply wash the plate every few months and pop it back in to continue doing its job.
Plan extra outlets for better cord management. Floor outlets under a desk, entertainment center or dining room table allow for easy cord management and avoid tripping hazards from cords stretched, mid-air across a room. Place an outlet mid wall where you plan to hang your television for another clever cord management solution. While installing you should also consider picking up an in-wall cord system kit to easily DIY a hidden path for tv to console cords.
Energy efficient features come with multiple benefits and never an upgrade a homeowner would stick their nose up at. I’m sure the first that comes to mind is windows. They keep heat/AC in and outdoor temps where they belong - out. A smart thermostat can help you learn how much energy you’ve used before your electric bill comes in and which temperature settings are the most efficient. Not to mention you can easily adjust the temperature from its app so you no longer need to get up just to change the thermostat.
Upscale upgrades aren’t all indoor basketball courts and massive home theaters. There are many that are sensible and add to your quality of life for the better. Keep a running list of which homes on your wishlist have these features and how much budget to set aside if they don’t.
If you recently sold your house, you may have only a short amount of time to sell some of your large, heavy belongings before moving day. Among these items likely are the couches, chairs and other furniture that you have collected over the years.
Ultimately, selling furniture prior to your move can be quick and simple – here are three tips to help you find furniture buyers and maximize the value of your furniture.
1. Establish a Competitive Price
A competitive price for a dining room table, bed or other home furniture can make a world of difference. If you establish an aggressive price from the get-go, you should have no trouble stirring up interest in your furniture from many potential buyers.
Consider the age and condition of your furniture before you set a price for it. If your furniture is only a few years old and remains in great shape, you may be able to fetch a lofty sum for it. Comparatively, if your furniture shows signs of wear and tear, you may need to lower your pricing expectations.
It often helps to be flexible with the price of your furniture as well. And if a furniture buyer makes an offer that falls below your initial asking price, you may want to consider all of your options closely to determine whether to accept, reject or counter this proposal.
2. List Your Furniture Online
Craigslist and other online marketplaces make it simple to list your furniture on the web in just seconds. Then, you can sit back and await responses from potential furniture buyers.
If you decide to list your furniture online, be sure to include high-resolution photos. If your online posting includes photos that show off the quality of your furniture, you can increase the likelihood of a quick, profitable sale.
Furthermore, incorporate plenty of details about your furniture into your web posting. With an informative and engaging furniture description, you can make it easy for a potential buyer to determine whether your chair, ottoman or other furniture is the right choice.
3. Host a Yard Sale
A yard sale offers a valuable opportunity to sell furniture, as well as a variety of other big and small items. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to plan ahead for a yard sale, you can improve your chances of optimizing your profits.
You also may want to post flyers to highlight your furniture to neighbors. These flyers can help you showcase your furniture to individuals who won't have to travel too far to pick it up.
Don't forget to share information about your furniture with family members and friends too. These loved ones may even be able to share details about your furniture – along with other items that you plan to sell – with their friends on social media.
Lastly, when it comes to selling furniture, it usually helps to collaborate with a real estate agent. In addition to helping you sell your home, a real estate agent can provide expert recommendations to help you get rid of furniture prior to moving day.
It’s a competitive selling market and we all know how difficult it can be to entice buyers with your home.
There are a number of ways to highlight the best features of your house. From staging to great real estate photos, marketing your home is a key aspect to ensuring a sale.
However, sometimes sellers miss out on opportunities to give their home a competitive edge in the housing market.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about some of the features in homes that are major selling points for today’s average buyer. That way, you’ll be able to update your listing and materials so that everyone who looks at your home knows exactly what it has to offer.
1. Location and convenience
Odds are you can find some major location selling points for your home if you think about it. Is your home near grocery stores, hospitals, parks, or major highways? Does it lack the rush hour traffic that other neighborhoods have?
Just because you’ve gotten used to the convenient location of your home doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated by your potential buyers.
2. Low upkeep and utility costs
If you live in a newer home in your neighborhood, there’s a good chance it will beat out much of the local competition in energy efficiency and maintenance costs. If you’ve recently upgraded energy-related parts of your home (think windows, HVAC, insulation, etc.), you should highlight these upgrades in your listings.
This is also a good time to show off your utility savings. Many utility companies show you how much you spend compared to your neighbors. If your home is energy efficient, don’t be afraid to show off in your listing.
3. Storage space
Ever notice how self-storage facilities seem to be popping up just about everywhere? Storage space is a huge concern for homeowners and buyers alike.
Make sure your photos and listings reflect the amount of storage your home has.
4. Major upgrades
If you’ve recently replaced the septic system, roof, windows, HVAC or other major upgrade, be sure to list the date and cost of the system in your listing. They can help assure potential buyers that they won’t need to make any costly upgrades or repairs anytime soon.
5. Pet and smoke-free
If your home is free of any odors or signs of pets or cigarettes, it will likely be a plus for buyers who are only focusing on homes that are clean and move-in ready.
6. Natural lighting
If your home has a lot of windows or skylights, be sure to include them in your photo and listing. Natural lighting can dramatically improve real estate photos, and it will make your home seem more spacious and welcoming.
Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.
This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:
Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.
Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.
Legal ownership of the title will be different.
Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.
Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:
In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.
Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment. If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.
Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.
It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.
If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.
Know each other's finances.
Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.
Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.