11 Ways to Update Your Kitchen Without a Sledgehammer

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Dog faints from ‘overwhelming joy’ when owner returns after two years away

I love dogs and this video made me laugh and cry. Please watch this dog’s reaction to a family member returning home after 2 years… which in fairness is 14 years in dog years.

Enjoy, Chris

6 Tips To Save To Buy A Home

by Phoebe Chongchua

Interest rates remain historically low and even though housing prices are increasing in many areas, the market still offers lots of opportunities to become a homeowner. But what’s holding many back is saving enough for a downpayment.

Reaching any goal requires dedication to that goal and a mindset that enables you to sacrifice to achieve what you desire. Often that’s easier said than done. However, if you analyze your spending and lifestyle habits you can determine where you can conserve to create enough of a reserve to comfortably buy a home without feeling totally deprived.

Here are six tips that can help you put away $50 to hundreds of dollars each month. Start with a fresh sheet of paper or a digital document that you can refer to frequently. Keeping it fresh on your mind will help you achieve your goals.

1. Write down what you owe versus what you earn. Get clear about how much is coming in and how much is going out. This alone will help you see where money is being spent and how much is being spent on things that could be cut back or cut out completely.

2. Consider getting rid of recurring expenses for services you don’t really use or you use infrequently. Maybe it’s a gym membership that’s adding up to more than a $1,000 for the year; but you really only use it three or four times a month. That makes no sense. Get rid of it and find a workout buddy and a free place to exercise. Or it could be an audio or video membership that’s going to waste. Sure, it might be $20 a month but over a year, that adds up.

Try listening to podcasts. They’re free! Some podcasters are very entertaining and their podcasts can be excellent sources of information and resources for business and personal development.

3. Stop the coffee run each morning. Do the math. That fancy coffee drink can cost $40 a week, especially if you add a bakery treat. Your waistline and your wallet will take a beating.

4. Cut back on eating out or dine out early. Make more meals at home. This will allow you to take leftovers for lunch the next day. When you do decide to eat out, dine out earlier in the day. You can often take advantage of eating the same great meal at a less expensive price by ordering from the happy hour menu. These days, lots of people find saving and living lean to be hip and cool. They’ll be happy to join you for an earlier meal.

5. Start a side job. If you’re working a full-time job, evaluate what your skill set is and see if you can freelance. I spoke with a client recently who had a “day job” and was earning additional income. He was already up about $50,000 from his side job of selling auto parts. It may take a bit to figure out where and how you can earn your side income, but it’s worth exploring. This could even turn into a full-time job. Lots of people are making money working from home using the Internet. Explore your options and see how you can generate some extra cash each month.

6. Use momentum to pay back your debt. Work hard to pay down cards with the highest interest rate first. As one card is paid off, transfer the money you were paying on that card to another card. By combining whatever you were paying on the paid off card to another balance that you’re paying down, you’re giving it some momentum and you’ll get that next card paid down even faster.

Remember that reducing your spending is critical to having what you want. So don’t add to your debt. Once you save for your deposit, you’ll want to make sure that you also save enough to have a cash reserve for emergency repairs and any unexpected crisis that might occur. Also, make sure that you make this process a good experience rather than a painful one. Keep your eye on the goal and understand that the decisions you make today will impact your future and your opportunity to become a homeowner.

If you are interested in buying a home or selling a home, please let my real estate experience go to work for you. Please call me, Chris Maroc 914-215-2025.

How to Sell Your Home Without Dropping Your Price

by Blanche Evans

When your home is marked down from its original price, it’s a sure sign that your marketing plan failed. Not only have you missed the critical first two weeks when buyers and real estate professionals are most interested, but there’s no way for your home to compete with other homes that are better priced.

No one wants to waste time trying to deal with an unreasonable seller, so lowering the price may not help as much as you may think. Buyers may think something is wrong with the home, or they may decide that there’s room for even more discounts. Real estate professionals won’t get excited when your agent relists your home at a lower price because it’s not a new listing.

If you’re really ready to sell your home, don’t test the market. The best thing for you to do is to price it right in the first place and then sell as close to the original asking price as possible. For the best results, price your home at current fair market value — not where prices were in 2005, or where they might be in 2015.

Current fair market value means your home favorably compares to recent listings and closed sales of homes most similar to yours in size, finishes, amenities and location. It also means your home is on target with price trending. If homes are dropping in price in your area, you may want to set your original price under current fair market values in order to generate more interest from buyers. If prices are trending upward, stay current – don’t price ahead. That only works in the strongest sellers’ markets when banks are more comfortable about rising prices.

Next, make sure that buyers see your home in the best light. Among real estate professionals, the most important considerations is how your home looks from the curb and how it looks online. First impressions require that you spend particular time and attention on curb appeal, from keeping your walks and drives swept, to painting the front door a fresh new color, to putting out a new welcome mat.

Photography can be your home’s best selling tool when it’s done correctly and professionally. Stage the rooms that will be photographed by removing clutter. Fluff the pillows, clear tabletops and countertops, and remove the dog’s water bowl and your children’s toys out of the viewfinder. Take a few digital shots and look for flaws – the rumpled bed, the wastebasket full of paper, or the closet bulging with clothes. Once all the flaws are removed, you’re home is ready for the professional photographer who has the right lighting and equipment to help you market your home.

In homeselling, less is more. You want the home to come forward and your belongings to fade to the background. If you have too much stuff, put the excess in storage. As little as $50 to $250 for short-term storage could make the difference in the buyer’s offer price.

When buyers come to your home, they will be looking for flaws, so make sure the little details are done, especially small repairs. The less that needs to be fixed or replaced, the better maintained and the more move-in ready the home appears to the buyer.

Buyer-friendliness is a factor that can’t be underestimated. If you want a certain price for your home, make sure to give the buyer something extra to make it worth paying full price. Offer to pay closing costs up to a certain amount, or offer to leave the washer, dryer and refrigerator.

It’s not just the home that needs to be attractive. As the seller, you’re part of the whole package. You should appear buyer-friendly, just as your home should appear move-in friendly.

A home that is priced to reflect current market conditions and shows well in person and online will always sell for more than homes that aren’t maintained and marketed as well.

Please call me, Chris Maroc at 914-215-2025 for a free market evaluation.