Lisa Westerman - ReMax Professional Associates


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The approaching winter may have you thinking that your garden simply can’t compete with the reds and oranges of fall leaves, but you have some great choices for fall blooming flowers. Whether you’re in a colder or more moderate climate, you can brighten up your property this fall with these top fall perennials.

It’s a great idea to begin your search with pansies. Check out your local garden center to see what kind flourish best in your area. You can plant them in garden beds, pots or hanging baskets for a colorful display. They love cool weather and come in small to spreading varieties. If you expect only a mild winter, try pinching pansies during planting to get a bushier look and more flowers for longer in the season. Another reliable choice is garden mums. A fall color splash for any landscaping plan, and reliable in most climates, garden mums add brilliance to your flower beds or in hanging pots.

Expecting a Colder Winter?

Flowering kale and cabbage plants can handle temperatures down to five degrees and even light snow and frost. If frost comes early in the season in your area, offset the slowdown in growth by planting the largest ones you can find. Combine these flowering veggies with garden mums for longer-lasting winter flowers. For some variety, combine these with ornamental grasses like Cheyenne Sky Red Switch Grass that, when planted early enough, are stable throughout the winter months. Try to get these grasses into the ground around six weeks before the first frosts are expected.

Snow peas are another great, edible, winter choice. Even while seedlings, sweet white snow peas can easily handle light frosts. Get these into the ground a bit earlier than the grasses mentioned above. For best results, shoot for two months before the first frosts. At the same time, you can add ornamental lettuces to your flower beds, giving them time to grow before those first cold nights.

For some fall to spring blooms, check your flower and garden stores for dianthus. An annual flowering plant, these are great to fill in spaces in your flower bed and, when planted early enough, can survive the whole winter. For the longest life span, get your dianthus into the ground early enough to build a stable root system and ensure the ground is well-drained. Standing water can drastically reduce the lifespan of your plants. So for optimal results, add mulch to your flowerbeds to protect your plants through the winter, and with a bit of luck, you’ll have a healthy garden when spring comes around.

Not sure what plants work best for your area? Wonder if specific plants or layouts can increase your home’s value? Talk to your real estate agent about the best choices for value and ask them for professional garden and landscaping recommendations to get the best results. 


In today’s world, many people are concerned about the harm that chemicals may do. Especially in homes with pets and children, families may want to do everything to protect their loved ones from harm. Having chemicals in your home may not only be hazardous, but they could also aggravate certain health conditions like asthma and allergies. There are many things that you can use that are right inside of your own kitchen cabinets to do the same job of cleaning that industrial strength cleaners do. The best part s that you won’t need to worry about your kids or pets getting into dangerous materials. You may also be surprised at what a great job all of these natural cleaners do in cleaning up your home. If you’re trying to save money, you might also   


Stock Up On Supplies


The first thing you’ll need to do if you want to have all natural cleaning supplies is to stock up on the essentials. Specific items do a great job of cleaning that a part of any cleaning recipe. You’ll be surprised at how much you can scrub in your home with just a few simple items.  


Baking Soda


Baking soda is such a versatile cleaner. It does everything from deodorizing to act as an abrasive. You can use it in many places in your home from the kitchen to the bathroom to the plumbing.  


Vinegar


Vinegar works to dissolve scale, gets rid of mold, and cuts down on soap scum. It’s also a fantastic stain remover. It’s a great base to use in many cleaners from the kitchen counters to your shower.  


Hydrogen Peroxide


Peroxide is an eco-friendly cleaner that helps to whiten surfaces. You can even find this substance in your toothpaste!


Borax


This substance helps to cut grease, oil, and dirt. It’s great to clean stainless steel with and is a great stain remover.   


Essential Oils


Essential oils are great to add scent to any homemade cleaners that you have. Get anything from tea tree oil to lemongrass to lavender to eucalyptus scents and use them as a part of your natural cleaning recipes.

Homemade cleaning supplies can save you money, time and even space in your closets! It’s easy to see why stocking up on a few essentials can not only keep your home clean but your home and family safe from harmful compounds as well. Try cleaning with something natural and notice the difference in your home!       




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When you start looking for your dream home, you need to know how much mortgage you will qualify for. Your real estate agent might ask you to get a pre-qualification letter. However, just because you are pre-qualified doesn’t mean that you will get the loan. You need a pre-approval for that, and even then, the mortgage company might not approve your application.

Pre-Qualification

A pre-qualification letter just tells you how much loan you can afford. The lender does not check your credit, your debt-to-income ratio or other factors before issuing a pre-qualification letter. Additionally, a pre-qualification letter is dependent on the information you provide to the lender. The pre-qualification essentially gives you an estimate of how much home you are able to afford so that you do not look at homes that are not within your range.

To get a pre-qualification, you supply the lender with your assets, debt and income. Because the lender bases its decision on the information you provide, rather than information from outside sources, a pre-qualification is not a guarantee that you will get the loan.

Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved for a loan usually takes longer than getting pre-qualified. The lender pulls your credit report and might ask for additional documents, including tax records and bank statements. To get pre-approved, you must complete a loan application and provide your social security number. The lender might charge an application fee for a pre-approval.

With a pre-approval, you will have a closer interest rate assessment, that is usually not finalized until the loan goes through underwriting. Once the lender pre-approves you, it will send you a conditional commitment for the loan amount. You can look for homes at or below that price.

In a market when buyers bid against each other – a seller’s market – having a pre-approval letter might give you a step up with the seller, who will more likely choose an offer by someone more likely to get the loan. Thus, if you and someone else submit a bid on your dream home, but the other person only has a pre-qualification letter, the seller might accept your offer, even if it is not as good as the other buyer’s offer, simply because you are more likely to get the mortgage.

For a pre-approval, you will need to:

  • Complete the lender’s mortgage application;

  • Possibly pay an application fee;

  • Supply your social security number and allow the lender to pull your credit;

  • Provide financial information to help the lender make a decision; and

  • Tell the lender how much you plan to put up as a down payment.

After you are pre-approved and the seller accepts your offer, you will then have to provide the rest of the documentation to the lender, including the accepted offer, bank statements, retirement account statements, taxes for up to two years, proof of income and other documents that will help the lender come to a concrete decision.



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Some home projects and improvements can't wait - a leaking hot water heater or a water damaged floor need to be replaced right away. Other, planned renovations and upgrades are optional. Consider not only your current needs, but the potential impact of any large planned upgrade on your home's value before you proceed. If you are upgrading your home to sell it soon, the improvements you make should add value to your home and be recouped when you are ready to sell. 

4 Home Improvements that Add the Most Value to your Home (and 3 That Don't)

Some upgrades enhance the overall value of your home, while others allow you to improve the look of your home, and recover the majority of your costs when you sell. According to Bankrate.com, the best places to invest your upgrade dollars include: 

A new garage door: It may not be fancy or a feature you notice, but replacing a sagging, out of date or ailing garage door with a newer, more secure model is a money savvy upgrade. The average garage upgrade costs about $3,600 -- and adds about $3,500 to the selling price of the home, making this a renovation that (almost) pays for itself. 

Kitchen Update: Bringing a dated or worn kitchen up to current day standards -- a makeover that usually costs about $22,000 for the average home -- can improve the selling price of your home by thousands of dollars. The average kitchen update boosts the value of a home by up to $18,000.

Enhance your yard with a deck: According to the Balance, adding a deck in your backyard expands your living space and allows you to add value to your home. The average cost of a wood deck is $10,000 -- and that deck adds an average of $9000 to your home's value, making it easy to add space without a huge investment. 

Replace siding: The curb appeal of your home has a significant impact on your ability to sell it and on the price you receive. According to the Balance, replacing aging siding with a similar quality new version allows you to recover about 75% of your investment. It will also make your home more appealing to buyers. 

Projects that Don't Add Value to your Home

You should not take on these projects if you truly want to enjoy the results for a while, as they won't have much of an impact on the selling price or value of your home. Some, like swimming pools, can even scare away buyers that would otherwise be interested in your property. According to the Balance, the worst home upgrades include swimming pools of all types, interior painting (because buyers may prefer different colors) and whole roof replacement (except in emergencies).  

 


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Most people do not think of creating an estate plan before they are in their 40s or even their 50s. However, if you own a home, regardless of the cost of the home and regardless of your age, you should create an estate plan. Even if you are in your 20s, your family could end up losing a high-end home if you are in an accident and become incapacitated or you lose your life. Always contact an experienced estate attorney for help drafting your will and other estate documents, including trusts.

Titling Your Home

In today’s day and age, many people decide to live together without formally getting married. Most closing agents will title your home so that you own one half and your significant other owns one half. In most states, your significant other’s half of the house will have to go through probate unless the house is appropriately deeded. The ways you may title your home include:

  • Joint Tenancy: Gives you equal rights to the property. If one party passes, the ownership of that person’s half passes to the surviving tenants. However, if you are not married, you will have an extra step to take if you want to transfer your half to someone not listed on the deed.

  • Tenancy in Common: This is the most common way deeds are titled if two people buying a house are not married. Both parties have equal rights to the property. However, if one person passes, their half goes to their heirs and not to the other person on the deed unless that person is an heir. Each person can take out a mortgage on their half without getting permission from the others on the deed. This type of title usually has to go through probate.

  • Tenants by the Entirety: Only those legally married may title their home as tenants by the entirety. The house is automatically transferred to the living spouse. The property does not have to go through probate if it is titled as tenants by the entirety.

You may title your home in other ways, though those ways are not as common. Creating a will and a trust, along with titling your home properly, ensures that your half goes to the person you want it to go to, and, if done correctly, could save your spouse or significant other the hassle of going through probate.

Creating a Trust

Many types of trusts exist. When you choose the right type of trust for your situation, you may be able to avoid probate and avoid some taxes when your home transfers on your death. However, the main reason for a trust is so that your loved one may continue living in the home or taking care of the financial responsibility of your home should you become incapacitated. Certain trusts also keep your home and its equity from being eaten up by creditors such as nursing homes and doctors. Always consult an attorney to discuss the complexities of creating a trust and the rest of your estate plan.