3 home renovation suggestions to consider this year
Whether you're a brand-new homeowner or have longed to have a place to call your own, you've probably thought about various home renovation ideas at one point or another. Refurbishing your home can provide a lot of pizzazz to your cozy confines and better yet, increase its resale value should you ever decide to list it.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of renovating, even more than what it takes to actually do it, is knowing where to begin. With so many options available, coming to a final decision can be daunting. But it doesn't have to be, so long as you have a general idea of which room - or rooms - in your residence could use a good pick-me-up.
Here are three of the more popular projects homeowners choose to take on:
The most trafficked room of the house, the kitchen is the gathering place for conversations, meal planning, dining and snacking. In 2017, according to figures compiled by Houzz, the kitchen was the most frequently chosen room to remodel - and it paid off, quite literally. Roughly 80 percent of renovating homeowners acknowledged that the refurbishing of their kitchens increased the value of their properties, the Houzz survey revealed.
Ask any real estate agent, and they'll acknowledge just how invaluable would-be buyers consider the bathroom. Given how frequently people opt to modernize it, that certainly seems to be the case, as in 2017, more than a quarter of homeowners who remodeled chose the guest bathroom.
Perhaps the only room of the house that gets more use, outside of the kitchen, is the bathroom, which may explain why nearly 40 percent of Americans who renovate it do so to upgrade drab, worn-out surfaces, be it the floor, tub, vanity or all three according to the National Association of Realtors' 2017 Remodeling Impact Report.
3. Home security and automation systems
Automation has made homes more secure and enjoyable, thanks to systems synced to interior lighting and setting alarms. In 2017, home security installations accounted for 15 percent of interior renovation projects, a dramatic uptick from 10 percent during the previous year, according to the Houzz poll.
By doing some self-reflection and running the numbers so you can properly budget, you'll come to a decision on the renovation project that feels right.
Did you know that when a mortgage inquiry is logged on your credit report, your personal information is automatically added to lists that are being sold by Experian, Trans Union and Equifax to certain kinds of mortgage lenders?
There you are, beginning your mortgage loan pre-qualification, and the next thing you know you're flooded with phone calls and mail from other mortgage lenders trying to get your business. Maybe you want the phone calls and extra mail and they're saving you time and energy by coming to you.
If that doesn't sound nice, you'll be happy to know that there is a simple step you can take prior to having your credit pulled that will remove your name from those lists.
Before you request a trusted mortgage lender to pull your credit, dial 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com to opt out (this is the service recommended by the Federal Trade Commission). You can opt out for a period of five years or permanently. You'll need to provide enough personal identification for this service to verify it is correctly removing your personal record from the marketing lists. While you're in there, you may additionally choose to be removed from the lists that are currently sold to credit card companies to generate pre-approved card solicitations.
Another reason why you may want to consider opting out is to reduce the number of companies that have your personal credit data, and reduce the amount of mail traveling around with your personal information on it, thereby reducing your risk of identity theft.
To read up on what the FTC has to say on this subject, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0148-prescreened-credit-and-insurance-offers
With Labor Day right around the corner, and the holidays quickly approaching, have you done your Fall Planning?
Between apple picking, cheering on your favorite football team and pumpkin carving this Autumn, be sure you take the time to prepare your home for the approaching cold weather season!
Winter Preparation Checklist:
[ ] Gutters: Clean out your rain gutters after the leaves have fallen
[ ] Windows: Install storm windows, put winter plastic on inside window or use energy
saver curtains on them to prevent heat from escaping
[ ] Doors: Add weather stripping to doors
[ ] Emergency Kit: Prepare an “emergency” kit in case of power outages from snow
and ice storms with some key items: Food, Important documents, Family photos,
Flashlights and Batteries
[ ] Pipes: Wrap pipes in unheated locations
[ ] Energy Source: clean and prep your furnace, wood stove or back up generator
Once you’ve prepped your home against the winter elements, be sure to take a look at your winter household budget. How does your mortgage fit into your financial budget and goals? With interest rates still at historic lows, now is a great time to see if refinancing or purchasing a new home will be beneficial to you.
It’s almost time for the kids to head back to school, which means cold weather isn’t far behind!
These 11 important household chores are great to do while you might still be able to find some summer helpers:
- Apply a fresh coat of paint to your window and door frames. Also, check for drafts, loose frames or cracked panes.
- Wash all windows and install storm panes as needed; to prevent heat from escaping, line the interior with insulation film and/or hang energy saver curtains.
- Add weather stripping to all doors as another energy saving measure.
- Check the insulation and wrap pipes in unheated locations.
- Clean and prep your furnace, wood stove, fireplace or back up generator.
- Prepare an “emergency” kit in case of power outages from snow and ice storms with some key items: food, important documents, family photos, flashlights and batteries.
- Clean clothes dryer vent pipe.
- Clean showerheads, bathroom drains and vents.
Keep in mind the following as the summer winds down. These are important outdoor tasks that should be completed once the fall season arrives.
- Clean, repair and store your grill, patio furniture and pool accessories.
- Prepare lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers and other yard maintenance equipment for storage; don’t forget to drain fuel from all gas-operated equipment.
- Close outdoor water valves and drain garden hoses.
From all of us at RMS, we hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!
It’s safe to say in today’s world that nearly everyone knows someone with an identity theft nightmare story to share. As technology takes steps forward so too do criminal minds. And while there’s no single answer to protect you from identity theft, there is plenty that you can do to minimize your risk and position yourself to react.
Here are 5 tips to protect your privacy:
Conduct a Credit Check-up
Visit www.anualcreditreport.com to obtain a free credit report every 12 months. Review the reports from all 3 credit bureaus and look for any suspicious activity, unusual or inaccurate names or addresses, or any inquiries that were done without your knowledge.
Stay Off the Pharm
“Pharming” is a term that describes hijacking your computer or hand-held device and stealing your personal information.
- Pharming sites are designed to look just like the website you’re trying to visit.
- Can track your movement within the site, such as entering personal information and passwords.
- May also direct your computer or device to give up other personal information at a later time.
When you visit a website, especially if you are taken there by a button or link, check that the address in the navigation bar is correct before entering any information. Look for misspellings. If in doubt, close the browser and start fresh with a new one, typing in the address or using an old and trusted bookmark of the site you wish to use.
Don’t Give It Up
In a phishing scam, identity thieves pretend to be someone from your bank, credit institution, etc. If someone contacts you and requests any personal information, don’t give it to them. Verify who is requesting the data and why, and then call the institution yourself using a phone number you look up separately. One extra phone call could save you a lot of trouble and money.
Return to Sender
Many identity thieves steal the mail they want from your mailbox or by rummaging through trash. To protect your privacy, be sure to:
- Know your statement delivery dates and pay close attention to any unusual delays.
- Shred any junk mail or other documents that may contain your personal information before you throw it away.
When applying for a mortgage or other kind of loan, you may become a “trigger lead” to the credit bureaus, who then sell your information to any number of companies. It only takes a few minutes to opt out at www.optoutprescreen.com, but that action could spare you a ton of junk mail, thereby possibly saving you from increased risk of identity theft. There may be some processing time from when you opt out to when you’re officially removed from the list, so try to make that one of the first things you do when you start the home buying or refinancing process.
With these five practices you are already taking steps to protect your privacy and identity. The most important factor in keeping yourself safe is to remain aware, and to trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right. Use common sense and, when in doubt, take a few extra steps to make sure you’re dealing with the right people. If it’s insisting on calling a company back, they’ll understand. Companies doing business in today’s world have to be just as aware of potential privacy threats, or possibly more aware of them, as you.