Text-only newsletter stories for November 2016
Nov. 1, 2016
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Before you fall in love with a home, analyze the little things
It's easy to be wowed by a house. You're anxious to discover your dream home and accomplish a big goal. You can't wait to cook in the brand new kitchen or relax in the spa-style tub. All that excitement can also make it easy to dismiss some minor issues that can become major annoyances down the road. Rather than letting your excitement get the best of you, take the time to analyze smaller details properly.
Don't dismiss the location
Let's say you find a perfect home that's an extra 20 minutes each way from work. Those 40 total minutes don't seem like a big deal at first glance, but consider that you'll be dealing with that extra commute day after day, year after year for as long as you live in the house. Is that an inconvenience you're willing to deal with? Make an educated decision-do a test run of the actual commute and see whether it's tolerable, or would eventually drive you crazy.
Stressing location also means committing to a neighborhood. Does the potential neighborhood align with your priorities? Make sure you're choosing a location that makes it easy to do the things you love most, whether that's enjoying city nightlife or escaping to quiet home away from it all.
Shiny new appliances and an open-concept living space may be on your list of must-haves, but don't let the aesthetics distract from the basics.
Are the basement and attic in good shape? Problems like mold and water damage can turn an otherwise perfect home into a nightmare, and a poorly insulated attic can cause your bills to skyrocket.
None of these issues should necessarily remove a home from consideration-you just have to be aware of the total package.
Headline: Five steps for better garage organization
For many people the garage is the place you mindlessly store stuff just to get it out of the way, and before you know it, you've got a cluttered mess on your hands. Here are five steps toward organizing your garage for good.
1. Make a plan: What do you want you garage to be? Is it a workshop, a storage space, or a nightly place to park your car? Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, decide on a plan for your garage's primary use, and prioritize around that goal.
2. Be vigilant with clutter: There might be items in your garage that you haven't touched in years-you've probably even forgotten they're in there. It's easy to justify keeping items when you're in the moment, but look a the big picture. If you can't remember the last time you used an item, it's probably ready to be thrown out, recycled, donated, or sold.
3. Make use of vertical space: Garages often have space in the ceiling where you can hang your gear or even store some boxes. Store the rarely used items-like holiday decorations-higher up and out of the way.
4. Keep common items accessible: On the other hand, you don't want it to be a hassle to get to the things you use often. Create a specific place for each item that is easy to reach.
5. Stay vigilant: Now that you garage is properly organized, be more mindful of what you're adding to it. If there's something new that's important, choose a specific place for it. If it's just junk, go through the extra effort to just get rid of it!
Headline: What affects your home insurance?
Research suggests that about 1 in 20 homeowners will make an insurance claim each year. So while it may seem that your monthly home insurance expenses aren't worthwhile, the chances of needing your insurance are higher than you might think.
There's are countless factors that influence your insurance rates, so here are few examples-some you've probably considered, and some that might be surprising.
Location: Some areas are simply naturally more prone to damage than others. Potential for weather and natural disaster-related damage will factor into your insurance, as will crime rates and fire protection.
Home value: This may seem like a no-brainer at first glance, but there are some extra considerations. The value of your home and the cost to replace your home from a total loss may not be the same-it can often cost more to rebuild.
Pets: Just like certain HOAs and neighborhoods forbid specific dog breeds, your insurance company may also increase your premiums for a specific breed. Breeds with reputations for being aggressive (fair or not) like pit bulls, German Shepherds, and rottweilers can cost you more.
Trampolines and swimming pools: All that fun comes at a price! Insurance companies see trampolines and pools as big risks for injury and even death, and that'll affect your insurance rates.