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Different Types of Real Estate Investments You Can Make

Real estate is one of the oldest and most popular asset classes.  Most new investors in real estate know that, but what they don’t know is how many different types of real estate investments exist.  It goes without saying that each type of real estate investment has its own potential benefits and pitfalls, including unique quirks in cash flow cycles, lending traditions, and standards of what is considered appropriate or normal, so you’ll want to study them well before you start adding them to your portfolio.

As you uncover these different types of real estate investments and learn more about them, it isn’t unusual to see someone build a fortune by learning to specialize in a particular niche.

If you decide this is an area in which you might want to devote significant time, effort, and resources to in your own quest for financial independence and passive income, I’d like to walk you through some of the different kinds of real estate investing so you can get a general lay of the land.

Before We Talk About Real Estate Investments

Before we dive into the different types of real estate investments that may be available to you, I need to take a moment to explain that you should almost never buy investment real estate directly in your own name. There is a myriad of reasons, some having to do with personal asset protection.  If something goes wrong and you find yourself facing something unthinkable like a lawsuit settlement that exceeds your insurance coverage, you and your advisors need the ability to put the entity that holds the real estate into bankruptcy, so you have a chance to walk away to fight another day.

 A major tool in structuring your affairs correctly involves the choice of legal entity.  Virtually all experienced real estate investors use a special legal structure known as a Limited Liability Company, or LLC for short, or a Limited Partnership, or LP for short.  You should seriously speak with your attorney and accountant about doing the same.

 It can save you unspeakable financial hardship down the road.  Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

These special legal structures can be set up for only a few hundred dollars, or if you use a reputable attorney in a decent sized city, a few thousand dollars. The paperwork filing requirements aren’t overwhelming, and you could use a different LLC for each real estate investment you owned. This technique is called “asset separation” because, again, it helps protect you and your holdings.  If one of your properties gets into trouble, you may be able to put it into bankruptcy without hurting the others (as long as you didn’t sign an agreement to the contrary, such as a promissory note that cross-collateralized your liabilities).

With that out of the way, let’s get into the heart of this article and focus on the different types of real estate.

From Apartment Buildings to Storage Units, You Can Find the Type of Real Estate Project That Appeals to Your Personality and Resources

If you’re intent on developing, acquiring, or owning, or flipping real estate, you can better come to an understanding of the peculiarities of what you’re facing by dividing real estate into several categories.

  • Residential real estate investments are properties such as houses, apartment buildings, townhouses, and vacation houses where a person or family pays you to live in the property. The length of their stay is based upon the rental agreement, or the agreement they sign with you, known as the lease agreement.  Most residential leases are on a twelve-month basis in the United States.
  • Commercial real estate investments consist mostly of things like office buildings and skyscrapers.  If you were to take some of your savings and construct a small building with individual offices, you could lease them out to companies and small business owners, who would pay you rent to use the property.  It isn’t unusual for commercial real estate to involve multi-year leases.  This can lead to greater stability in cash flow, and even protect the owner when rental rates decline, but if the market heats up and rental rates increase substantially over a short period of time, it may not be possible to participate as the office building is locked into the old agreements.
  • Industrial real estate investments can consist of everything from industrial warehouses leased to firms as distribution centers over long-term agreements to storage units, car washes and other special purposes real estate that generates sales from customers who temporarily use the facility. Industrial real estate investments often have significant fee and service revenue streams, such as adding coin-operated vacuum cleaners at a car wash, to increase the return on investment for the owner.
  • Retail real estate investments consist of shopping malls, strip malls, and other retail storefronts. In some cases, the landlord also receives a percentage of sales generated by the tenant store in addition to a base rent to incentivize them to keep the property in top-notch condition.
  • Mixed-use real estate investments are those that combine any of the above categories into a single project. I know of an investor in California who took several million dollars in savings and found a mid-size town in the Midwest. He approached a bank for financing and built a mixed-use three-story office building surrounded by retail shops. The bank, which lent him the money, took out a lease on the ground floor, generating significant rental income for the owner. The the other floors were leased to a health insurance company and other businesses. The surrounding shops were quickly leased by a Panera Bread, a membership gym, a quick service restaurant, an upscale retail shop, a virtual golf range, and a hair salon. Mixed-use real estate investments are popular for those with significant assets because they have a degree of built-in diversification, which is important for controlling risk.
  • Beyond this, there are other ways to invest in real estate if you don’t want actually to deal with the properties yourself.  Real estate investment trusts, or REITs, are particularly popular in the investment community.  When you invest through a REIT, you are buying shares of a corporation that owns real estate properties and distributes practically all of its income as dividends.  Of course, you have to deal with some tax complexity – your dividends aren’t eligible for the low tax rates you can get on common stocks – but, all in all, they can be a good addition to the right investor’s portfolio if purchased at the right valuation and with a sufficient margin of safety.  You can even find a REIT to match your particular desired industry; e.g., if you want to own hotels, you can invest in hotel REITs.
  • You can also get into more esoteric areas, such a tax lien certificates.  Technically, lending money for real estate is also considered real estate investing, but I think it is more appropriate to consider this as a fixed income investment, just like a bond, because you generating your investment return by lending money in exchange for interest income.  You have no underlying stake in the appreciation or profitability of a property beyond that interest income and the return of your principal.
  • Likewise, buying a piece of real estate or a building and then leasing it back to a tenant, such as a restaurant, is more akin to fixed income investing rather than a true real estate investment. You are essentially financing a property, although this somewhat straddles the fence of the two because you will eventually get the property back and presumably the appreciation belongs to you.

Post found on www.thebalance.com

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3 Ways Real Estate Can Boost Your Retirement Income

 

There’s big appeal in the idea of investing in real estate right now. And it’s not just because of all the attention these days on President Donald Trump, who made his fortune in the industry.

Many real estate-related investments have done quite well in the last decade or so. The median sales price of single-family homes hit $315,700 at the end of the third quarter, up 23 percent from the prior peak for values in 2007 before the financial crisis hit.

At the same time, a low-interest rate environment has depressed yields in typical safe-haven investments like bonds and certificates of deposit. That has made income-generating real estate assets even more attractive.

And, of course, there’s the basic value of real estate as part of any well-balanced investment portfolio.

“Without alternative assets, a portfolio is limited to stocks and bonds. That means the portfolio is not fully diversified,” says Craig Cecilio, founder and president of real estate investment firm DiversyFund. “The other big advantage of real estate investing is that your investment is backed by real assets.”

Yes, real estate values do fluctuate – and sometimes drop significantly. But since properties are physical assets, they will always be worth something whereas other investments can go all the way to zero.

So if you like the appeal of real estate, how should you start investing?

Buy rental homes. This is the most direct way to invest in real estate – however, this approach does comes with a few drawbacks.

The first is the initial investment that’s required, since buying a house can require a big one-time payment or taking on significant debt. Then, of course, there is the hassle of being a landlord to fix leaky faucets or dealing with tenants.

That said, in many markets where rental rates are higher than mortgage payments on a similar property, a shrewd landlord can easily wind up ahead at the end of every month – and more importantly, have a reliable income stream that is independent of any appreciation in the underlying real estate.

Of course, renting versus house flipping is very different, and this latter strategy can be fraught with risks, Cecilio says.

“Investors need to ask whether the incentives of the investment issuer are the same as their own incentives,” he says.

For instance, if a company benefits by selling you advice or issuing loans instead of sharing in the ups and downs of your investment portfolio, that’s a sign that they may not care much whether you ever make any money.

Buy into publicly traded REITs. A special class of companies known as real estate investment trusts, or REITs, are specifically designed to make public investment accessible for regular investors.

In fact, thanks to all the attention, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index added real estate as its 11th industry group in 2016 to show the importance of this segment on Wall Street.

The biggest appeal for income-oriented investors is that REITs are a special class of investment with the mandate for big dividends. These companies are granted special tax breaks to allow them to more easily invest in the capital-intensive real estate sector, but in exchange, they must deliver 90 percent of their taxable income directly back to shareholders.

As a result, the yield of many REITs is significantly higher than what you’ll find in other dividend stocks. Mall operator Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG) yields about 4.8 percent. Residential housing developer AvalonBay Communities (AVB) yields about 3.1 percent.

And, of course, investors can purchase a diversified group of these stocks via an exchange-traded fund if they prefer. For example, the Vanguard REIT Index Fund (VNQ), yields about 3.9 percent at present and has a portfolio of 155 of the biggest real estate names on Wall Street. The VNQ has an expense ratio of 0.11 percent, or $11 per $10,000 invested.

Crowdfunding. A fast-growing form of real estate investment for the digital age is via “crowdfunded” properties. The concept involves pooling together the investments of individuals to purchase properties, and share in those properties’ successes.

DiversyFund is one provider of these crowdsourced investments, as is Fundrise, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that owns properties from South Carolina to Seattle.

“We allow investors to very simply invest in private real estate instead of public real estate, with much lower fees and greater transparency, through the internet,” says Fundrise co-founder and CEO Ben Miller.

Private real estate can offer much bigger yields than publicly traded REITs, Miller says, to the tune of 8 to 10 percent annually. But the challenge in the past was the burden of big upfront fees and a lack of liquidity or access to your initial investment after you buy in.

Miller says REITs offer low barriers to entry for investors and the ability to buy or sell stocks on a daily basis, but investors pay a steep “liquidity premium” for the ability to trade – and subsequently, suffer a lower return.

“That liquidity premium is theoretically a benefit, but it’s invisible for most people and it’s not free,” he says. “If you’re investing in the long-term for income, why would you pay that premium?”

Crowdfunding platforms like Fundrise, DiversyFund, Realty Shares and RealtyMogul all look to take the best of both private and public worlds. For instance, Fundrise has a minimum investment of just $500 in its “starter portfolio” and charges significantly lower fees thanks to the cost-saving benefits of technology and a lack of middlemen.

Post courtesy of usnews.com

Renting or Buying a Home: Which Is Best for You?

To find out whether you should rent or buy a home, crunch the numbers using this two-step process.

The most common question people have about their living situation is whether it’s better to rent or own a home. The answers they get are typically either too generalized mathematically, or cover lifestyle issues while leaving out economic factors. Here are two ways to answer the rent versus buy question.

Step 1: By the numbers

The first method is to understand the basic math of how to compare renting versus buying. There are four components to this step:

  1. Calculate the monthly cost of homeownership.
  2. Calculate the tax benefits of homeownership.
  3. Subtract the tax benefits from the cost of ownership to get the “after tax cost.”
  4. Compare the after tax cost to market rent for a comparable property.

Using this approach, let’s calculate the monthly cost of buying a home in Seattle, where the housing market is very hot and the median home price across the region is $478,500.

Suppose you’re buying a home of this price with 20 percent down and a top-tier credit score of 780, with a 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.625 percent (remember, rates change daily). A quick run through the mortgage calculator shows that this mortgage payment is $1,746, property taxes are $479, and homeowner’s insurance is $67, for a total monthly housing cost of $2,292.

The federal tax deductions homeowners get for mortgage interest and property taxes save $490 per month in taxes. (To calculate estimated tax savings, multiply loan amount by interest rate and multiply purchase price by property tax rate estimate of 1.2 percent. Add these two numbers, and multiply the result by an income tax rate estimate of 30 percent, then divide by 12 to get a monthly figure. Always consult your tax adviser on any tax-related matters for a precise calculation specific to your situation.)

Subtract the monthly tax savings from total monthly housing cost of $2,292 to get an after-tax housing cost of $1,802. If we compare this to the Seattle median rent of $1,791, we can see that renting is $11 per month cheaper than buying — very close, even in a hot market.

If you do these calculations in other areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth metro, where home prices are lower and rents are higher (relative to ownership costs), the math will more clearly support buying over renting. In some markets, buying can be cheaper than renting even before incorporating homeowner tax benefits.

Doing these rent-versus-buy calculations for your own market only takes a few minutes. Just look up home prices and rents in your area to get started.

Step 2: Time will tell

The second method for deciding if it’s better to rent or own is to understand how long it takes for buying to become more financially advantageous than renting. The point at which this happens is called the breakeven horizon.

This is a calculation Zillow created to analyze rent-versus-buy decisions at the household level. It incorporates all possible buying costs and benefits such as down payment, closing costs, mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, and tax benefits, as well as all renting costs for the same home. Calculations also incorporate home value and rental price appreciation.

Breakeven horizon is the year when buying costs become less than or equal to renting costs when accounting for all of the factors noted above.

For our Seattle sample area, the average breakeven horizon is 1.9 years, which (only coincidentally) is the same as the national breakeven horizon right now — meaning buying becomes more financially advantageous than renting after 1.9 years. The latest full list of breakeven horizons for major cities shows how various areas perform on this rent-versus-buy method.

The sample Seattle market calculations above show it costs about the same ($11 difference) to buy or rent right now if you account for tax benefits, and it costs more to buy than rent if you don’t account for tax benefits. If you then consider that buying becomes more financially advantageous than renting 1.9 years after your purchase, these two methods combined make a good case for buying.

Once you’ve analyzed both of these rent-versus-buy methods for your target area, you’ll have a strong command of which option makes the most financial sense. Then the rest of your rent-versus-buy decision is about lifestyle choices like whether of not you want mobility, maintenance responsibility, or freedom to upgrade your living space.

Post courtesy of zillow.com

Ways To Cut Household Expenses And Save Money Each Month

The key to saving money is knowing where to trim your budget.

Paying bills is never fun, but it’s even less exciting when monthly expenses leave you eating noodles for the last few days before every payday. But you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the lifestyle you want to live in an apartment or home you love. In fact, eliminating unnecessary household expenses is easier than you think.

Whether you’re living those big-city dreams in a studio apartment in San Francisco, CA, or moving into a single family home in Austin, TX, read on to find out how to eliminate or reduce monthly household expenses like grocery bills, insurance, and cellphone bills without disrupting your life.

7 Ways to Cut Household Expenses

  1. Head to the grocery store. Sure, you can’t eliminate the price of food when you are determining your budget. But do you really need to buy all of your groceries at Whole Foods and buy takeout for lunch every day?  Eating in doesn’t have to mean daily trips to the grocery store either. Research local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and talk with your neighbors or coworkers about sharing the weekly offerings — buying into a CSA with a group still gives you a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables while easing the stress of having to figure out a way to use every piece of produce delivered.
  2. Have a plan when you shop. Using coupons to cut expenses is easy, but it’s not for everyone. One top alternative for cutting those grocery expenses, sans couponing, is to know the cost of the top 20 things you buy most often (think milk, eggs, and butter). That way, when you see the prices go up (or down!), you’ll know if you’re getting a good deal. Small strategic changes in shopping can help you cut down on expenses over time.
  3. Lay off the landline. Be honest: When is the last time you used your landline? If your phone has followed you from rental to rental or remained unused in your home for years, it may be time to unplug it for good — and cut out that expense. However, if you have a home office and require a landline, it may be worth investing in a product that hooks up to your router and allows you to make voice calls around the country.
  4. Renegotiate your insurance rates. Car, health, rental, and homeowners insurance costs are negotiable. Insurance rates fluctuate often, so you could be missing out on a lower rate if you don’t shop around for new insurance at least once per year. Plus, competition is high among insurance companies, and you may qualify for certain discounts based on your age or risk with a different plan.
  5. Keep your home neat. A cleaning service can tempt even the neatest renter or homeowner, but you may be paying for more than you’re getting, especially if you live in a small apartment rental in NYC. It’s not uncommon to spend $150 or more on each cleaning. If you’re paying for a monthly maid service, that could add up to well over one month’s rent each year. Instead, dedicate 30 to 60 minutes each week to speed clean your place yourself and split the time into five to 10 minutes each day. That way, your space will never get out of control, and you won’t be tempted to dial your cleaning service for a quick fix.
  6. Switch from commuting to carpooling. While it may not seem fair that you have to drive an hour to work or pay for parking at your office, your best bet for trimming your transportation budget is to share the cost with coworkers or skip the parking space altogether. Make a plan to carpool a few days a week with co-workers who live closest to you, or ditch the car entirely and bike or take public transportation to work.
  7. Cut back on unnecessary pet expenses. Fido’s needs come first, of course, but when it comes to dog spas, doggie day care services, and accessories, it’s easy for the extras to pile up. Instead of taking your pooch to doggie daycare every day, find a local dog park to throw the ball and let him run loose with other dogs before you head to work. And instead of spending loads on grooming costs, renters can shop for apartment communities that include dog washes and grooming stations as amenities. Homeowners or renters without grooming stations should look into self-service wash shops that can cost as little as $10 per wash.

Post courtesy of Trulia.com

5 Tips Real Estate Investors Need to Know to Find Good Deals

With real estate prices reaching ever-higher highs in large swaths of the country, the availability of deeply discounted properties is drying up. And that means it’s getting tougher for real estate investors and home flippers to find great deals worthy of their time and cash.

“There are fewer foreclosures to buy, but there’s more interest in buying foreclosures,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm. “Competition, even at the foreclosure auction, is pushing prices up.”

Bank-owned property sales, foreclosure auctions, and short sales still made up 16.9% of single-family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2017, according to ATTOM. But that’s down from 20.3% of sales a year ago.

“Back in 2007, you were getting 20% off the actual value” on bank-owned property sales, Leland DiMeco, owner and principal broker at Boston Green Realty, told ATTOM’s Housing News Report. “Now you have them selling for 5% off, if that.”

So how can established and aspiring real estate investors and home flippers find a real deal?

Tip No. 1: Be proactive and look for off-market properties

Some landlords prefer to quietly shop around their properties to investors instead of listing them publicly. This way, the owners don’t upset any tenants currently living there.

“There is quite a bit of the pie that does get moved around, legitimately, but just off-market,” DiMeco told ATTOM.

So would-be investors shouldn’t wait for property owners to find them—they should find these folks themselves.

“If you like a neighborhood, you can go knock on doors,” Blomquist says. There might be “homeowners who may want to sell and don’t even know they want to sell yet.”

Tip No. 2: Act fast and pay with cash

There are still deals to be had—if you act quickly, says real estate investor Brandon Turner, author of “The Book on Investing in Real Estate With No (and Low) Money Down” and “The Book on Rental Property Investing.” He owns 52 rental units in 18 properties and has flipped about a dozen homes in Grays Harbor County in Washington.

“You have to work faster than everyone else,” he says. “I try to make an offer within 24 hours of a new listing coming on the market—the same day, if possible.”

Paying all cash can also sweeten the deal for sellers who might have multiple offers, he says.

Tip No. 3: Don’t ignore potential tear-downs

Real estate investors might not initially see the value of buying an overpriced, small, or run-down home within the city limits. But many of these homes in desirable locations can be sold to a developer to be torn down. Then a multifamily building or larger home can go up if the zoning permits it. And that can translate into some serious moolah.

It requires some vision and a bit of a leap of faith. With a potential tear-down, “it may not be a good deal to buy it as a single-family home. But if you can buy it for what it could be, it can be an excellent way to find value and deals,” Turner says. However, this approach is not without risks and obstacles.

“If you’re going to build a new house, it takes a good while to get all the permits,” he adds. “The danger is if the market begins to decline, you might be unable to sell it.”

Tip No. 4: Seek out nasty, smelly homes

Investors shouldn’t shy away from hardcore fixer-uppers and “nasty” homes, says Turner. That’s because there is not as much competition for these potential diamonds in the rough. Many lenders won’t issue loans on these properties if they’re in really bad shape.

“The stinkier the house, the better,” Turner says. “Smells are easy to fix. A good coating of oil-based primer, new carpet, and cleaning will take care of almost any smell.”

He typically looks for the “nastiest house in the nicest neighborhood,” he says. Even homes in need of serious TLC can be profitable if they’re in the right location.

“You can’t fix a neighborhood, but you can fix the house,” he says.

Tip No. 5: Look in another city or state

Many would-be property investors living in pricey parts of the country would love to become landlords—but can’t afford to do so in their own cities. So they can consider buying in lower-priced markets such as the Midwest.

“Look in other geographies that aren’t in your backyard,” Blomquist says. Focus on places that are growing “that still have a lot of lower-priced inventory available.”

But they should make sure to do their homework first to make sure they understand the neighborhood they’re buying in and who their potential tenants or buyers would be. This includes how much they can realistically charge.

Landlords might need to hire property management services if they can’t afford to get there quickly if something breaks. And that eats into profits.

———

Remember, becoming a real estate investor is still risky

Despite the stinky homes, investing in real estate might seem like a glamorous way to make a little extra cash—just look at all of those home flippers on HGTV! But in reality, it’s not risk-free.

Landlords sometimes have tenants who trash homes or don’t pay the rent on time. Flippers might encounter permitting problems or find costly structural issues in homes that cost quite a bit more than expected.

“We’re in a booming housing market. Everyone’s confident if they buy a piece of real estate it’s going to go up in value,” says Blomquist. “That’s true for the long term.

“This housing boom is on a lot more solid foundation than what we saw 10 years ago,” he says. “But you have to be very cautious because, in the short-term, we have seen … that prices sometimes do go down.”

Courtesy of realtor.com

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

There’s no other way to put it: Moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a waking nightmare. Here’s how to avoid a move from … you know where.

Nightmares aren’t supposed to take place in broad daylight, but some common life events bring so much tension, uncertainty and anxiety that they can easily rank as “quality nightmares.” Moving house tops the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — and it can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process: A violent storm hits just when the moving truck is parking in front of your door. The elevator is out of order when you arrive at your new high-rise building. You lose the keys to your car on the morning of moving day. The list goes on.

However, the most common moving nightmares fall into three main categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. When you call the moving company to demand an explanation, your relocation nightmare begins. Regardless of the excuses you receive (a traffic jam, a breakdown, a delay on a previous job, a mistaken date, etc.), the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time. Worst of all, you may not be able to reach the moving company at all: fraudulent movers may have taken your deposit money and disappeared with it.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late, in a smaller moving truck than needed, or lack the required know-how and the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience. The amateur movers may drop your plasma TV, break your heirloom china, scratch your antique dresser, dent the floors, or cause other overwhelming emotional and financial damage.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to unscrupulous moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated based on some alleged extra services. They may hold your belongings hostage until you pay a considerable extra “fee” as ransom, or steal your more expensive belongings and just discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. if there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire, or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions like heavy snowfall or torrential rains. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from the entrance to your home. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time, but will also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of the following all-too-common moving ordeals.

  • Packing chaos. It may turn out that you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers; packed items that can’t be loaded onto the moving truck; haven’t labeled the boxes properly; or forgotten to prepare an “essentials box.” Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes will result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may be forced to leave some treasured pieces behind, or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and will delay your move considerably.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas, and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget, pack all your items without sorting them out first, or allow any other financial imprudence, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

Post courtesy of zillow.com

10 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

There’s no denying that the kitchen has become the focal point of the modern home, the place where the outsize influence of the Food Network and HGTV converge. Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves gathered there among friends, sipping wine and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres with ease—or perhaps preparing a family meal while the kids pitch in as little sous-chefs.

But achieving that dream kitchen is also one of the most expensive home remodeling projects you can possibly undertake. If your taste trends more toward Veuve Clicquot on a budget that’s solidly PBR, never fear: We’ve got some sneaky tricks to give your kitchen a fancy upgrade on the cheap.

1. Choose a luxurious color palette (and play with texture)

pctune up

“These work best and convey a really luxe vibe,” she says.  “Look at the branding colors of luxury designers—they are mostly lightly muted and off the primary color.” She favors charcoal, cream, and champagne over harsher black, white, silver, or gold.

And consider texture when you’re planning your palette.

“You want to vary the texture to vary the complexity and make the design more layered and high-end,” says Hoffmann. “Choose two or three very close colors and play with texture instead—think white, a cream, and a very, very light natural beige as your colors, and then create visual interest by incorporating lots of texture in the room as your accent.”

Think of varying high-gloss, matte, and distressed finishes, and using raised patterns.

2. Reinvent tired cabinets with new hardware

If new cabinets aren’t in the cards, take your kitchen from outdated to outstanding with new hardware. Replace all door pulls, handles, and even hinges with fancy pieces in unexpected hues (we love these gorgeous handmade pieces by House of Antique Hardware). Just make sure to choose pieces that fit the holes in your cabinets, since traditional spackle or caulk can shrink. (If you can’t fit existing holes, pros recommend using a nonshrinking wood putty or auto body filler, but you’ll need to sand the work surface first.)

And don’t be afraid to mix metals, says Maize Jacobs-Brichford, a designer and project manager at Brynn Olsen Design Group in Chicago, who favors clean, traditional lines in unlacquered brass or polished nickel.

“Even if your sink or lighting is chrome, your hardware can still go brass,” she says.

3. Paint (or add glass doors to) your cabinets

pctune up

When it comes to tired old cabinets (particularly the stalwart oak cabinets of the ’80s), a good coat of paint can hide all manner of sins, according to Hoffmann.

“Enough already!” she exclaims. The old cabinets “are aging your space!”

We like Ace Hardware’s Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint, a semigloss alkyd enamel paint that promises a smooth finish. If you’re a clumsy DIY painter (are those brush strokes?), hire a pro.

Hoffmann also claims it’s “fairly easy” to cut out the front of existing cabinets and put in glass for an open, modern look. We’re not so sure, so if you’re at all in doubt, leave it to a trusted contractor or handyman. (Tutorials for this type of upgrade abound on the internet; we like this one from HGTV.)

4. Put your best stems forward

Invest a little in new stemware. If you have a bit of cash to spend, splurge on a gorgeous open shelf (or consider glass-front cabinets) to display pretty colored or textured glass, like these from Epitome Home.

5. Update the light fixtures

“Even if you don’t have the budget to change out some of the bigger architectural features, updating your fixtures can be a big change,” says Jacobs-Brichford. “When in doubt, go with a globe fixture with polished nickel or brass details to keep it simple but chic.”

Hoffmann also swears by dimmable lighting.

“Get an electrician to put your lights on a dimmer, and instantly upgrade the feel of your kitchen, especially at night or when entertaining,” she says.

And finally, don’t forget about task lighting—particularly under-cabinet lights. Battery-powered LED lights are inexpensive and couldn’t be easier to install (in many cases, you just stick them on using removable adhesive). Position them under cabinets in the areas where you typically spend the most time.

6.  Recast the backsplash

After cabinets, a backsplash makes the biggest statement in a kitchen. This is one place you want to splurge, pros say.

“It’s a great place to showcase your personal style and taste,” says Hoffmann, who favors monochromatic trends like concrete, herringbone, and subway tile.

If you’re on a budget, reinvigorate your backsplash without mortar by using a simpler, adhesive-based product like SimpleMat.

7. Upgrade your view

pctune up

Hoffmann swears by window appliqués to fake a great view outside a kitchen window. These also add visual interest if the area isn’t conducive to traditional window treatments, she says. Another great trick? Hang ferns or other flowers outside your windows to give the illusion of lush, verdant space. Hoffmann also likes to add herb gardens to the counter space, over the sink, or just outside windows.

8.  Paint the countertops

Innovative new products from companies like Giani Granite and Rust-Oleum let you paint (yes, paint!) your dingy old wood or laminate countertops if new granite or slab isn’t in the budget. You can go for a textured imitation stone look, or keep things cohesive with a simple solid color.

9.  Incorporate fruit

pctune up

Bring life to a kitchen with a driftwood bowl filled with a bright fruit or vegetables; Jacobs-Brichford likes lemons, artichokes, or green apples.

“They can usually sit out for two weeks—much longer than the life span of flowers,” she says. (Fake fruit is fine in a pinch, though designers prefer the real thing.) If you’re staging your home to sell, consider adding fruit to your kitchen to give it an attractively livable feel.

10.  Add fragrance

“Stop burning hideous, noxious, cheap candles,” says Hoffmann. “They are toxic and smell cheap to anyone who knows better when they enter your house. If you’re spending $20 a month on candles, that’s $240 a year.  Purchase a lightly scented luxury Culti diffuser instead, and get a couple of flameless candles. Your space will smell more expensive, elegant, and subtle.”

The (admittedly pricey) diffuser uses perfume-grade oils, gives off a more understated scent than traditional candles, and lasts an entire year.

Post courtesy of realtor.com