DIY Home Improvement Ideas

DIY Home Improvement Ideas

 

Looking for ways to spice up your home? These DIY home improvement ideas are simple, creative, and fun!

 

  1. Organized Kitchen Spice Cabinet

Spices in a cabinet

Have you ever had a kitchen cupboard become so overcrowded with spices that you could never find anything? Spice containers are easy to misplace, they all look the same! Well, good news, because with these simple steps you can easily organize your spice cabinet to be efficient, appealing, and all with minimal effort!

Find instructions at: Organizing Home Life

 

2. Patterned Return Air Grille

Before and after image of return air grille. On the top is a rough looking air grille, and on the bottom is an air grille with a flowered pattern

Recreate your old air grille by designing a new one! Most people have the same air grille that looks like its been in the house since forever. But with a few hours, you can turn something simple and boring into something creative and fun!

Find instructions at: The Friendly Home

 

  1. Mason Jar Solar Lights

Decorative mason jars with lights hanging from a ceiling

This project is great because there are so many ways you could use it! You could bring it out for parties and celebrations, and use it for an outdoor patio light, or you can hang it up right in your bedroom! Not only does it make a creative light source for an adult, but it can make a super cool night light for a child!

Find instructions at: DIY Projects

 

4. Painted Trim

Hand with a paintbrush painting a wall white

It’s something that seems so small, and yet it makes a big difference in the overall look of your home. Painting the trim is a great way to make improvements all throughout your house. All you need is a roller, tape, paint, caulk, and a willingness to get your hands dirty!

Find instructions at: LiveLoveDIY

 

5. Rustic Cooler

Plastic cooler with wooden planks next to it

This project is great for outdoor celebrations and parties. Instead of having to lug around an old plastic cooler, you can build your own and enjoy a cool refreshing drink on a hot summer afternoon. Plus, you can make it as big or tall as you want, and when you’re done, just fill with ice and drinks and enjoy!

Find instructions at: Hometalk

 

  1. Crate Bookshelf

Large bookshelf made of crates stacked on top of each other

Make no mistake, it may be called a “bookshelf” but you can store whatever you want with this project! Whether it’s books, supplies, clothes, or family mementos it’s up to you! You can also customize the shelf to be as big or small as you want. Don’t have enough room? Just remove one crate and reshape it! Plus, it really comes in handy when you need to create some extra storage space.

Find instructions at: Tara Michelle Interiors

gum shoe mistake

Top Mistakes Even Smart Agents Make

The real estate industry is constantly being reinvented by new technologies and consumer preferences. While some things like good follow up and strong negotiation skills never go out of style, times have certainly changed. Here are a few of the most common mistakes smart agents make and how you can easily fix them to see a positive impact in your business and your bottom line.

Using the Wrong Address Format
When listing a piece of real estate for sale, one of the most basic pieces of information is the address of the property. Typically, this is something simple that the sellers tell agent and the agent never questions. After all, the seller should know the property best, right? While it may seem obvious how the property address should be entered into the multiple listing service (MLS) and other property portals, it’s wise to double check how common GPS services, like Google Maps, display the address. If you list the property as located at “12345 Cty Rd T N”, but Google doesn’t use the same type of naming style, your success is likely to be minimized simply because potential buyers can’t easily figure out where a property is.
Take Away: Double check to make sure you can easily find the property with your GPS. If your GPS seems to know the area, but just has trouble differentiating between “N” and “North” or “Cty” and “County” or some other small change, choose the version that GPS prefers to be found more easily.

Writing Listing Descriptions for Agents
It used to be that real estate agents would almost exclusively list their properties on the MLS. Many MLS’ have character limits and only other agents could access these listings meaning that soon the industry was taken over by jargon and in-the-know abbreviations. Have a w/o LL in your 4bd/2.5ba sfr? No problem! Nowadays, the process is very different. According to a survey by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, 44% of recent buyers started their home search process by looking online, while only 17% decided to first contact a real estate agent.
Take Away: Write your listing descriptions with the buyer in mind. Avoid jargon or abbreviations that aren’t known by the general public, even if you think they are obvious. Buyers are more likely to find your listing before they find an agent to translate so keeping your audience in mind will help to successfully connect with them.

Not Having Enough Photos
As an agent, sometimes you list a property that is in, to put it nicely, appalling condition. Maybe there were destructive tenants, an abandoned major construction project, or a tragic situation. In any event, traditional knowledge would say to simply show the exterior of the property with some sort of euphemism in the description such as “ready for your creative touch” or “tons of potential, just needs your TLC”. These phrases are overused and buyers feel like their time has been wasted when they go to view a property that “needs some TLC” and realize it actually needs to be condemned.
Take Away: Sometimes you can’t get interior photos because of tenant privacy, but it’s important to portray the property accurately. While you can sell properties sight-unseen (as happens with many foreclosure and short sale properties), in most cases it’s in your favor to actively show potential buyers what they’re up against.

Giving Too Much Detail
More isn’t always better when it comes to listing descriptions. The goal is to give enough information that a potential buyer will have their interest piqued, but not so much that they’ll get lost in a sea of features and adjectives. It is important to list the features that may show up in a buyer’s search (open concept, in-ground pool, or split bedroom design), but not so much that you need to detail that there is a “Swarovski crystal encrusted fireplace accented by a hand-polished travertine mantle”.
Take Away: While being detailed and thorough is a good thing, you want to make sure to leave a reason for the buyer to call or schedule a showing. Also, don’t lose people in a sea of text — when possible, use bullet points or paragraph breaks to keep your message clear.

Avoiding Auctions
In Europe and Australia, auctions are seen as a great way to expose a property to a large number of buyers and the competition among buyers leads to a fair sales price, however real estate agents in the U.S. tend to hesitate to even mention the word “auction” to their clients.  This negative connotation is likely because in the US auctions are most commonly seen in foreclosure proceedings. The stigma is then perpetuated by a  lack of knowledge about the benefits of auctions.
Take Away: Auctions are a great way to increase the buyer pool by having a range price that is attractive to a wider audience. This wide audience then creates the competition necessary to increase the final sales price. In a soft auction, like those run by RealtyHive, home sellers are then able to choose whether to accept the winning bid and continue on to a sale or hold off for a higher offer. Learn more about RealtyHive Time-Limited Events here.

Have you noticed any other common missteps? Have any tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

mansion exterior

Beyond the Sale Price: Accounting for the Upkeep

Owning a mansion sounds like a fantasy. You can almost picture your kids (or yourself) sliding down the opulent banister like Mary Poppins. Of course, when that tires you, you can retreat to your library, study, conservatory, or any number of the spacious interior or exterior sanctuaries your manse is sure to have. While this all sounds great in theory, and the prices of mansions are holding or even falling in some markets, mansion life can come with some unexpected costs.

According to the latest Luxury Defined report, which comes from luxury real estate leader Christie’s International Real Estate, the average starting price for a luxury home in the United States ranges from $1 million+ in the Atlanta area to $8 million+ in the Los Angeles metro area, but don’t think that’s the all-included pricing. No, these megahomes come with some mega carrying costs, and prospective homeowners can find themselves in financial troubles quickly if these costs are not planned ahead of time.

 

Tax Collector Comes Calling

The only sure things in life are said to be death and taxes, and no matter where you call home in the United State, you’re probably going to be paying property taxes. While the  scale runs from states with an extremely low tax rate (like Louisiana at 0.18% or Hawaii at 0.26%) to the top taxers in New Jersey (1.89%) and New Hampshire (1.86%) these taxes are applied to the value of the home and are collected every year. Alternatively, some states have decided to forgo statewide property taxes and instead allow counties, cities, and municipalities to collect these taxes. Additionally, some areas have adopted a “transfer tax” in lieu, or sometimes in addition to, annual property taxes. This transfer tax is charged when the property changes hands and often works on a stepped scale based on sale price.

 

But if you’re buying a mansion, there might be another tax to be paid on your home. Some states have adopted a so-called “mansion tax” or an additional surcharge on homes over a certain value. In addition to the standard property taxes levied on all properties in an area, some locales have decided to increase the rate for those above a certain value.

 

Maintenance is Essential 

So you’ve picked up your very own mansion. Congrats! While you’re probably busy dreaming of the best paint color to accent the custom murals on your walls, you might want to make a little more space for maintenance costs. The bigger the estate, the bigger the fees to keep it in good condition. Many megahomes have multiple HVAC systems, high-tech surveillance systems, and extensive outdoor areas like pools, tennis or basketball courts that all require upkeep. Instead of worrying about one refrigerator going out in standard home, a megahome could have two or three kitchen where any number of things could go wrong. Groundskeeping also factors in to the maintenance costs of a home and while, depending on the estate size and location, the annual costs can approach those of a small golf course. This financial burden is, of course, not always something that is thought about ahead of time and can quickly lead into troublesome waters for a new owner.

 

Bills, Bills, Bills

If you’re relocating from a townhouse or condo in the city to a palatial country estate, you may be in for quite a surprise the first time the utility bills come due. In many shared living arrangements, utilities can be covered by a general fund or included in the price of rent. Even when utilities are not covered, the price of heating and cooling a standard 1,700 square foot home and a 50,000 square foot mansion with 12 foot ceilings is going to be drastically different. You can expect to see this extreme difference in everything from water and electricity costs to gas and cleaning supplies.

 

 It Takes a Village

On top of all the previously mentioned costs, it’s also important to think about who will do the work. Typically an expansive home requires at least some staff. Many elect to have at minimum a housekeeper and landscaper, but also employ a security guard, personal chef, and additional groundskeepers. While this amount of manpower makes perfect sense with a home the size of a small hotel, the costs add up quickly.

 

Living in the lap of luxury seems like a dream, but it’s important to remember that the home you choose should be an investment into your future, not a burden. The costs add up quickly, and if you don’t plan properly, you could up in a bad situation for a long time. Just ask 50 Cent.

Want to learn more about choosing the home that’s right for you? Check out our blog, How Big of a Home Do You Really Need? Ready to buy? Check out the great selection of luxury homes available now by clicking here

woman happy moving boxes

Avoiding Disaster: What to ask yourself before you buy

You’re pumped, pre-approved, and ready to purchase, but before you pull that trigger, make sure you’re making the right choice. Emotions tend to run high when making a high-value purchase and once you put down your earnest money, you better be sure you’re making the right choice. While there’s no definitive way to be absolutely certain that the property you’re looking at is going to a good investment and a solid choice, there are some things you should definitely consider before signing.
 
Can you afford it?
While a fairly obvious question, there’s a reason this one makes it to the top of the list. If you are stretching, really stretching, to the limits of your budget, you may want to reconsider making an offer. While many people love to have the nicest home they can afford, you also need to keep in mind that anything can happen at any time and if you’re maxed out you may cause yourself undue stress in the future. If your appliances break or you have an unforeseen loss of income, how are you going to handle it? Picking something that fits comfortably in your budget can reduce your mental and financial stress while allowing extra room in your budget for improvements to your home.
 
What’s your least favorite part about the property?
When debating on a purchase, we tend to ask ourselves about the best parts or features, but excitement often causes us to gloss over the ugly parts. Nothing is perfect, everything has at least a little downside and it’s important to consider that because it’s going to be apparent as soon as the shiny excitement of a new property wears off. If your least favorite part are the magenta colored shutters and awful interior paint colors, you probably are making the right choice in making an offer, but if you hate that the bedrooms are on the second floor, well there’s no changing that so you probably should walk away.
 
How is the location in relation to your important areas?
The old “location, location, location” mantra holds true here. In most cases, you can’t change the location of a property so you better like where it sits. While you may think that life in the country is “quaint” and “cozy” when you’re home shopping, you may find that you really don’t like driving 20 minutes to get a gallon of milk. Likewise you may find that locating closer to your job means that you’ll have a shorter commute, but it will take you longer to pick up your kids from school. Or maybe you’ll stop going to the gym because it’s no longer on your way home. Your habits and preferred locations may change, of course, but it’s good to think about how your life and routines will change before you take the plunge.
 
Are you okay with the proximity (or lack thereof) to neighbors?
Depending on where you’re looking for a property, the proximity to neighbors can make or break your choice. While you may fall head over heels for a charming Victorian home in the center of town, are you going to be okay with the fact that you can almost touch the neighbor’s home from your window? If you’re accustomed to apartment living, are you going to be nervous that there isn’t a soul around for miles when you move out in the country? Many times when choosing a new property this issue is romanticized (Think of our big yard! Think of all the kids in the neighborhood to play with!), but these very different locations have flipsides that you need to consider.
 
Pick your position wisely
Where a home sits on the street is often not at the top of the list (or even on the list) of considerations, but it should be! Corner lots tend to be bigger, but in a city or suburb setting they also mean more sidewalk maintenance (like shoveling) or more to be repaired in the event of damage. Corner lots tend to also mean people will cut through your yard — not great if intricate landscaping is your thing– and fences often have to be low or see-through as to not affect traffic sight lines.
 
Attached or Detached – It makes a difference
In some places, a garage is a garage is a carport (looking at you, southern states!), but when it comes to garage placement, it can make all the difference. How you’re planning to use your garage and the climate you live in will change how you think about garages. If you live in a cold weather state and are accustomed to being able to enter your home via the garage, having detached garage may mean extra time to bundle up the kids before getting in the car. If you’re wanting a “man cave” to call your own, detached might be the way to go. Again, it’s all a matter of preference, but it’s important to know to ask yourself these questions.
 
Have you ever fallen for the wrong property? Is there something you wished you thought of before purchasing your home? Let us know in the comments below or find your next property by checking the latest properties on RealtyHive by clicking here.

hand holding world abroad

Is moving abroad right for you?

As winter turns to spring (and in some places, back to winter) people often get a little restless and dream of leaving their soggy, April-showered home for the sunny beaches of the Caribbean or Latin America. For most people, this is just a daydream, but for others this can set the groundwork for an adventure of a lifetime. While there are many reasons that moving abroad is not the right choice for everyone, here are some questions to ask yourself to see if moving abroad (even seasonally) might be the right choice for you.

  1. You’re easygoing

  2. Regardless of whether a country is geographically an island or not, to Americans who are accustomed to having everything done quickly and with a customer-service smile will be shocked to see how “island time” operates in this region. “Today” might mean today as in the next remaining hours of the actual day, but it could just as well mean tomorrow, later this week, or maybe next week. Ditto for “tomorrow”, “later”, and “sometime”. Side note: this holds true for everything not just time. Sometimes you’ll wake up and you might not have water for your shower. Sometimes your neighborhood goats will take over your yard and not allow you to leave in your car. You’re going to have things happen out of your control and how you respond to them will make or break your time abroad.
     

  3. You have a lot of patience

  4. While the Caribbean (not including Mexico and Central America) has roughly one-sixth the population of the United States, the time you spend waiting for nearly everything seems almost tenfold. Need to go to the bank? There’s a line. Waiting for a bus? Get in line. Want to buy movie tickets? Line! Bring a bottle of water and a book with you at all times and just enjoy these little time-outs, it’s all part of island time.
     

  5. You’re open minded

  6. One of the most natural reactions to culture shock are thoughts of “this is weird/uncomfortable/illogical” and so on. If you’re going to be stuck on how things run at home, moving abroad is probably not for you. If you’re willing to step over those thoughts (and toss your used toilet paper in the trash can..we’re serious!) then you might be a perfect candidate for life abroad. A dash of humility, an open mind, and a sense of humor are vital to making your experience a positive one.
     

  7. You’re innovative
  8. Innovation might seem like a strange prerequisite for life abroad, but go with us here. Things break all the time in the Caribbean. Between the salt, sun, and sand there are a lot of elements working to break down your house/vehicle/devices/body/etc and there is often a remarkable shortage of common goods. Need moisturizer? Better bust out the coconut oil. Have a leak? Grab the duct tape! It’s best to brush up on your MacGyver skills and watch a couple of “life hack” videos before you go!
     

  9. You’re financially capable

  10. Life in the Caribbean can be as luxe or budget as you make it, but even the least expensive Caribbean locations require some way of supporting yourself. Those who choose to take this adventure during retirement can see additional benefits (see Panama for Retirees for more information on how Panama entices retirees), but those who are not retired will need to find a way to sustain their lifestyle. While it is possible to work in some Caribbean and Latin American countries, it is advised to make arrangements prior to leaving your home country. Do not show up in another country and expect to find work. Another popular option is to work online (thus not requiring a work permit in your new country), but those coming from the United States should be aware that this income will be taxed by the U.S. government and possible that of your host country. Also, internet speeds vary wildly around the globe, so long story short, do your research and have a plan before you go!

Still think moving abroad is the right choice for you? What are your biggest uncertainties or questions? Let us know in the comments below! Want to see the housing options available in your chosen location? Check out the great deals on RealtyHive available here.

Happy Easter

DIY Easter Decor Ideas

Looking for cute yet inexpensive ways to decorate your home this Easter? Well RealtyHive has got you covered with our quick list of DIY Easter decorations! These projects wont only decorate your home but also give you and the family some fun crafty activities for the holiday!

German Easter Egg
 


 
 
Paper Bunnies on Wood
 


 
 
Easter Egg Wreath
 


 
 
Bunny Door Decoration
 


 
 
Easter Nest Decoration
 


 
 
Carrot Wall Decor
 


 
 
Bunny Pillows
 


 
 
Easter Egg Tree Decoration
 


 
 
Bunny Garland
 


 
 
Bunny Jar Decoration
 


 
 
Bunny Wall Decor
 


 
 
Wine Cork Bunny
 


 
 
Tweed Carrot Decor
 


 
 
Animal Egg Decoration
 


 
 

buyers agent negotiation

Find the Right Buyer’s Agent

One of the most unique and misunderstood features of the real estate industry in the United States is the compensation structure. Real estate agent, in almost all cases, are independent contractors for the brokerage they work for. In these cases, all agents, regardless if they are on the listing (selling) or buying side of a transaction get paid via commission on that deal. What makes this unique is that regardless of who is buying or selling, the property seller is almost always the one who is paying for both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent. While the fairness of this is coming under fire (see this 2019 class-action lawsuit) this is the current state of the industry.

That said, it’s important if you are going to be buying real estate (especially a property that is represented by a licensed real estate agent), that you have an agent to represent your best interests. So how should you go about finding a real estate agent that is right for you?

Phone a Friend

One of the best places to start when looking for a real estate agent is to ask friends or family members for their recommendations. Personal recommendations are a great way to source out the best of the best in any industry, but in an industry that is so heavily focused on relationships it’s no wonder why a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that about 29% of all Realtor® business came from repeat clients or referrals from past clients and customers.

Consider your preferences

What value does your agent offer? Are they going to be actively looking for homes for you or will they allow you to be the driver and just show the homes to you? Does their communication style match your preferences? Are they as tech savvy or old-school as you would like? If you aren’t on the same page, you’re probably going to have a bad experience so it’s important to make that determination before you sign any sort of buyer-agency agreement.

Ask the right questions

When interviewing a potential agent to work with it’s important to make sure that not only will you connect on a communication level, but also that they are the right fit for your particular transaction. Some of the questions you should ask include:

      • How long have you been in real estate?
      • Which side of a transaction do you typically facilitate?
      • How much business do you do in the area I’m looking in?
      • How do you typically communicate with buyers?
      • Will you be able to show me homes in/at (your schedule)?
      • Tell me about the toughest deal you’ve ever closed- what made it difficult and how did you overcome it?
      • Why are you the best fit for me?

If you’re looking to purchase in a populated area like New York City or Los Angeles, you’ll want someone with intimate knowledge of the particular neighborhoods you’re interested in, but if you’re desiring a more rural area, general knowledge of the market should suffice.

Check Out Cashifyd

RealtyHive is unveiling a completely transformational tool to the real estate industry. Cashifyd allows buyers to find a licensed real estate agent that can help them find their ideal property and receive cash back at closing from the transaction. While Cashifyd may be available if you’ve already selected your agent, the program typically works best when used to find an agent. For more information or to sign up to be one of the first on the Cashifyd platform, click here.

Have a question about buyers agents? Let us know in the comments or find out the benefits of buying with RealtyHive by clicking here.

real estate secrets

The Biggest Secrets in Real Estate – Revealed!

The real estate industry can be completely mystifying to an outsider (and sometimes even the insider), but some secrets are more tightly kept than others. Here are some of the best kept secrets about the real estate industry that you should know.

  1. You need a Buyer’s Agent — Stat!
  2. So you’re in the market for new real estate, congratulations! One of your first steps should be to find a real estate agent that you trust. While you can try handle your full transaction by yourself, the NUMBER ONE biggest secret in real estate is actually threefold. 1). The listing agent (the agent representing the property) is legally obligated to work for the seller’s best interest so even if they offer to help you out, they are working for the seller. 2). The seller pays for both their listing agent and the buyer’s agent. That’s right, as a buyer you don’t pay for an agent who will solely represent your best interests. 3). Even if you don’t sign an agreement with anyone or know about it, a real estate agent may still financially benefit from your transaction due to a common “referral” practise. Long story short, if it’s not going to cost you anything and it might happen anyways and it’s in your best interest, you should probably do it. Check out Questions to Ask a Buyer’s Agent for how to choose the best agent for you.

  3. If you want to be taken seriously, lay the right groundwork
  4. Before you start talking to agents, you should get a pre-qualification, pre-approval, or proof of funds letter. These letters, obtained through your financial institution of choice, help to show agents that you are serious about your purchase as well as help you to know what you can afford. These documents serve as proof that you have the financial backing necessary to complete a transaction and signal to an agent that you are a true buyer, not just a looker. While very similar, there are a few differences in these documents. Pre-qualification is the least serious of these letters. There are no hard credit checks required for pre-qualification and no guarantees that what is on the letter is actually the amount you would get, but it is, essentially, a solid guess at the amount you could qualify for. A pre-approval letter requires more information from you and a hard credit check, but the result is that you will know exactly how much money your financial institution would be willing to give you for your purchase. These are both applicable if you intend to finance your purchase, but if you’re a cash buyer, you’ll want a “Proof of Funds” letter. This is a statement from your financial institution that states that you have in your account a certain amount of funds.

  5. Referral fees exist and you might be missing out
  6. Did you know that if you are referred to one real estate agent by another real estate agent, the first agent will get paid when you buy or sell with that second agent — even if all they did was make the introduction? Referral fees have been common in the real estate industry seemingly forever, but consumers are often completely oblivious. Often this information has been treated with a “what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them” mentality, but the tides are turning. RealtyHive is pioneering a platform where you can refer yourself as a buyer or seller and in turn reap the benefits of this referral fee system. Real estate agents benefit from this platform because this is the exact same system they are accustomed to and they are able to connect with buyers and sellers who really want to talk to them (rather than getting information from people who were tricked into submitting contact forms) and buyers/sellers benefit by getting what would be a referral fee paid back to them as cold hard cash back at closing.

  7. There could be things your agent isn’t telling you
  8. Real estate agents are licensed professionals and as such have to abide by certain rules, regulations, and laws. One of the laws that especially shape the industry is the federal 1968 Fair Housing Act. This act aims at ending discrimination in housing, but has repercussions beyond the intent. For a more complete overview of possible things your agent can’t tell you (and how to find out yourself) check out 5 Surprising Things Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Tell You.

  9. The final sales price will be higher than you thought
  10. Congratulations! You found the right property and had your offer accepted (or you accepted an offer on your property). You just need the check for the agreed upon sales price and you’re done, right? Wrong! One of the biggest surprises to buyers and even sellers, especially first timers, are all the costs that come with a real estate purchase. While you can negotiate to have the buyer or seller cover some of the cost, there are fees that are not built into the sales price that will need to be paid. Some of these include closing fees, lender costs, mortgage fees, title insurance, any taxes or outstanding utilities  that need to be paid, and potentially more. It’s important to keep this all in mind when looking at properties so that you don’t overreach on what you can spend. This is something that a Buyer’s agent would be able to help with (see Number 1 on this list!)

    Ready to start your home search? Make sure to visit Cashifyd.com to get on the waiting list for your opportunity to get cash back at closing when the Cashifyd app officially launches or start searching now by clicking here.