Did you know you can clean your house with things you already have in the cabinets? No need to buy expensive cleaning products. Save time, money and clean with less chemicals by using everyday products.

Here are some unusual ways to clean your home.

Use white bread to: Dust an oil painting. Gently dab a slice of white bread over the surface to pick up dirt and grime.

Use ketchup to: Remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware. Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it on pots and pans. They should go back to their coppery color in minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

Use oatmeal to: Scrub very dirty hands. Make a thick paste of oatmeal and water; rinse well

Use rice to: Clean the inside of a vase or a thin-necked bottle. Fill three quarters of the vessel with warm water and add a tablespoon of uncooked rice. Cup your hand over the opening, shake vigor-ously, and rinse.

Use club soda to: Shine up a scuffed stainless-steel sink. Buff with a cloth dampened with club soda, then wipe dry with another clean cloth.

Use hydrogen peroxide to: Disinfect a keyboard. Dip a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide to get into those nooks and crannies.

Use cornstarch to: Clean grease spills on carpets. Pour cornstarch onto spots and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes before vacuuming.

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It is a great time to be a real-estate investor. If you are looking to jump in the investor market low home prices and low interest rates make this a great time. According to Zillow.com. the real-estate market is starting to recover: U.S. houses lost $489 billion in value during the first 11 months of 2009, but that was significantly lower than the $3.6 trillion lost during 2008 and things only continue to look up.

While the timing may be right, you will need to have all your ducks in a row. An investment purchase is different than your typical purchase.

Consider your options.

Have a strategy and know what kind of investor you would like to be. Ask yourself if you want to be a landlord, or are you planning on flipping or restoring and reselling properties. What types of properties are you interested in? There are many choices from land, to apartment buildings, residential housing and other commercial real estate.

Partner with experience.

Real estate agents experienced in investment property deals know what to look for in a deal. You may also want to consider asking a more experienced real-estate investor for advice. If you plan on becoming a landlord make sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding being a landlord.

Location, location, location.

If you buy a property with hopes of renting it out, location is key. Homes in high-rent or highly populated areas are ideal; stay away from rural areas where there are fewer people and a small pool of potential renters. Also, look for homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms in neighborhoods that have a low crime rate. Also think about potential selling points for your property. If it’s near public transportation, shopping malls or other amenities, it will attract renters, as well as potential buyers if you decide to sell later. The more you have to offer, the more likely you are to please potential renters.

Have capital lined up.

Speak to potential lenders or a financial planner about what you will need for assets and cash flow. You will need to have enough assets to handle the ups and downs that could come with investing. Most experts suggest a fallback of about six months of mortgage payments for landlords. You will need this in case or vacancy or repairs. If you’re planning to fix up a home and sell it, you will need reserves to cover the costs to maintain the home while it is on the market.

Becoming a real-estate investor is much different than being a residential homebuyer. A buying decision is a business decision not one based on emotions.

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Some people think that bigger is better even when it comes to buying a home. Before you buy the biggest house your budget allows you may want to consider if the size of the home is what will make you a happy homeowner. Besides the size of the home there are many other factors to consider, here are a few things you may want to think about when buying:

Your Commute

Often times a bigger home is one that has a longer commute. So would you choose a bigger home over a shorter commute? When considering a longer commute most home buyers significantly underestimate the negatives of a long commute like high stress levels, poorer health, and less active social lives.  Swiss economists, Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer coined what they call “the commuters paradox”. They found that someone with a one-hour commute must earn 40% more money than someone who walks to work to be as satisfied with life.

Community

Another thing that can affect buyer satisfaction is the quality of a surrounding community Think about the community your home would be in. Is it a subdivision? Do you have to drive to get places? How far away are neighbors or stores? Walkable communities have more active residents, they are better for the environment and help us save money too. Studies have shown residents of a walkable neighborhood on average weigh 6 to 10 pounds less than someone in a car-dependent one.

Walkable neighborhoods also give us more opportunities for social interaction. The more neighbors walk around the more involved they are in the community. Ultimately the more community involvement the happier people are.

 

 

 

 

The time has come to buy a home and you have a list of questions a mile long. How many bedrooms does it have? What is the down payment? What are the taxes? What school district is it in? But there are some questions you should be asking that you may not have considered and these answers will not be disclosed on the property’s listing sheet.

In order to make a smart buying decision you will want to dig a little deeper into the neighborhood’s crime rate, area residents and what safety measures are in place to keep your family safe.

Here are a just a few things you will want to research before buying your next home:

1. Check the sex offender registry. Most states have provisions like Megan’s Law and other registries where individuals with histories of criminal convictions must register their home addresses with local authorities. Check the address of the home you are considering to see who is living in your potential new neighborhood.

2. What is the history of the home? You may think this unusual but some abandoned homes have been used as drug labs. Homes that were used as drug labs are hazardous to your health. A home that served as a methamphetamine lab contains chemicals that often make unsafe to live in. These homes are usually but not always sold by banks as foreclosures. If the bank or real estate agent does not know the home’s history they don’t have a legal obligation to disclose it so you will have to do your own homework. First, talk to neighbors to see if they have any information. You can also search the federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry.

3.  Check the neighborhood’s crime rate. Don’t look at just the numbers of crime but also consider what sorts of crimes happen in the area. Are the crimes violent and non-violent? Will you need to invest in a car alarm or a security system after a rash of break-ins? SpotCrime.com gives detailed crime data, breaking down crime types with easy-to-scan icons and providing data for communities all over the country.

4.  What precautions are in place in the neighborhood? Does the neighborhood have a watch program? Talk to the home’s seller and the neighbors about what type of precautions are in place. For more information on neighborhood watch programs check out the National Crime Prevention website.

5. Visit the neighborhood at different hours of the day; watch for unsavory visitors, traffic and vacant homes.

Buying a home is an investment in your family and your future. If you have any other questions regarding local information your real estate professional can help point you in the right direction. You can also always call the local police department and ask for any statistics they have on the area.

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