Barbara Rybicki's Blog
A deck adds valuable outdoor living space to your home's square footage, but to be an asset, it needs to be well-maintained. If your deck has missed a few annual cleanings or is showing popped nails, splintered boards or water damage, consider resurfacing it instead of replacing it. The money you save will be significant. Here's how:
Inspect Your Existing Deck
Look for rot, termite damage, warped or weakened boards and missing screws. Fix any problems you find by replacing individual boards and railings with similar materials. Make sure everything is structurally sound and sanded smooth before moving forward with the next step.
Choose the Right Deck Wash
Step two involves giving your deck a good scrubbing to remove all traces of algae, dirt, mildew or mold that may have formed. You'll need a good wire broom or brush, eye protection and waterproof gloves, because some deck wash can be damaging to skin. You'll want to protect any nearby plants as well. Cover them in plastic while washing down your deck.
Deck wash can be painted on, sprayed on with a garden hose, or applied with a pressure washer. A simple mixture of laundry detergent, bleach and warm water may be all it takes to begin bringing your deck back to life. Once applied, work the cleaning solution into the wood using your brush or broom. Rinse clean and allow the wood to dry before proceeding to the next step in resurfacing your existing deck.
Apply Deck Stain
Lastly, you'll need to re-stain to apply a protective coating to your freshly cleaned decking. For older wood that still shows imperfections, try using a semi-transparent stain, instead of something that's clear. This will help to hide flaws and resistant stains.
You can spray, roll or brush the stain onto the deck, or you can use a combination of techniques such as spraying the stain down, then using a brush or roller to even out puddles and to trim out around railings. Apply the stain evenly, and then add the second and third coats while the stain is still damp. This helps keep old, thirsty wood from absorbing all the stain. Once applied, you'll need to re-stain your deck every other year to keep it looking its best.
The total cost to replace your old deck can run upwards of $10,000, says ProRemodeler. Compare that with the $4,000 you might spend to replace worn boards and connectors, and you're looking at a significant savings. If your existing deck is worth repairing, that's usually the better option. But it must be structurally sound by the time the work is done. If you're unsure, call in a pro for an inspection.
If you’re in the market for a new home, chances are you’ve been evaluating your finances. As a first-time homebuyer, there are programs in place to help with the down payment. According to the December 2019 Realtor Index Confidence Survey, first-time homebuyers accounted for 31% of all sales, and 77% put down less than 20%.
Once you’ve worked with a mortgage lender to get a competitive rate, these programs may help with getting into your dream home:
Are you a veteran or active duty? If so, you won’t need to look far. This program helps individuals get a home with no down payment. It’s backed by the government and has a series of requirements to meet. There are also Adapted Housing Grants, which help purchase a home adapted for a service-related disability, or if upgrades need to be done to the home to make if accessible.
If you’re looking in a rural area, this loan by the Department of Agriculture may be the one for you. There is no down payment to participate, but there are income requirements. When hearing the word rural, you may think it’s totally country but there are tons of “rural” areas that are well populated.
This program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lists eligible properties by state and is not limited to first-time homebuyers. The property must be in an area marked for revitalization and is only open to certain professions like law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and teachers. If approved, you must live in the property for at least 36 months and receive up to 50% off the list price of the home.Local First-Time Homebuyers Grants
Many municipalities offer funds from their own first-time homebuyer programs. There are certain requirements to meet, such as requiring the owner live in the home for a short period of time. In many cases, the grant is forgivable over a period of time. There are also block grants through Congressional districts, which are distributed through local programs.
A mortgage broker will be able to recommend additional programs you may qualify for based on the area you are attempting to purchase in. Homeownership doesn’t have to be complicated – it may just take a little work to get what you want and the assistance you need. Call a realtor and mortgage broker to get started on the process today.
Pursuing a house can be difficult, regardless of the current housing market's conditions. Thankfully, homebuyers who plan ahead may be better equipped than others to enjoy a quick, seamless and successful homebuying experience.
Ultimately, there are many reasons to prepare for buying a house, and these include:
1. You can determine where you want to live.
A homebuyer who knows where he or she wants to live can tailor a home search accordingly. As a result, this buyer can speed up the process of acquiring his or her dream residence.
When it comes to planning ahead to buy a home, it generally helps to know where you want to go. If you make a checklist of home must-haves and wants, you may be able to hone your home search to specific cities and towns. Then, you can pursue residences in these areas and find your dream house faster than ever before.
2. You can enter the housing market with a budget in hand.
You know that you want to buy a house, but you still have no idea how you will pay for a residence. Fortunately, if you plan ahead for the homebuying journey, you can get your finances in order and enter the real estate market with a budget at your disposal.
Generally, it is a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to pursuing a residence. A mortgage provides you with a set limit that you can spend on a house. Thus, a mortgage can help you minimize the risk that you'll spend beyond your means to acquire your dream residence.
Obtaining a mortgage can be quick and easy too. Meet with banks and credit unions, and these financial institutions can teach you about a broad array of mortgage options. Next, you can choose a mortgage and kick off your home search.
3. You can find an expert real estate agent to help you along the homebuying journey.
If you plan to enter the housing market, you may want to hire an expert real estate agent sooner rather than later. With an expert real estate agent at your side, you can streamline the homebuying cycle.
A real estate agent knows exactly what it takes to purchase a superb residence at a price that fits your budget. He or she first will learn about your homebuying goals and provide insights into the local housing market. This housing market professional then can customize a home search to ensure that you can achieve your desired results.
Let's not forget about the comprehensive support that a real estate agent delivers throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent will set up home showings and offer homebuying recommendations at each stage of the homebuying journey. And if you discover your ideal residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer.
There are many great reasons to plan ahead for the homebuying journey. And if you start planning today, you may be able to enjoy a stress-free homebuying experience.
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To maximize the value of your house, you may need to perform a wide range of home improvements. Fortunately, there are many quick, easy ways to ensure you won't have to break your budget to upgrade your residence before you add it to the real estate market.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you save money on home improvements.
1. Receive Multiple Quotes from Professionals
When it comes to performing comprehensive home repairs, it generally is a good idea to err on the side of caution by hiring professional contractors. However, hiring professionals to complete home improvement projects may put a major dent in your day-to-day finances.
If you request multiple quotes for home improvement projects, you can shop around for the best price. Plus, you may be able to negotiate the price from a professional if you have various competitor quotes at your disposal.
2. Consider Do-It-Yourself Projects
In many instances, a home may not require a full overhaul. Conversely, you may only need to perform a series of minor upgrades to ensure your residence is show-ready.
When possible, it may be beneficial to try to perform home improvement projects on your own. If you complete simple tasks like removing clutter from your home's basement or mowing your front lawn, you can simultaneously enhance your residence and avoid the costs associated with hiring professionals.
If you're unsure about how to perform certain home repairs, there is no need to leave anything to chance. In these scenarios, reach out to professionals for expert support, and you can minimize the risks associated with trying to complete these tasks on your own.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
Finding the best ways to cut costs on home improvements can be tricky. Luckily, real estate agents are available who can help you get your house ready for the real estate market, even if you're dealing with a tight home improvement budget.
Typically, a real estate agent will be able to assess your house and help you establish home improvement priorities. This housing market professional then can put you in touch with the top home improvement professionals in your area, as well as provide tips to ensure you can quickly upgrade your residence on your own.
A real estate agent also will serve as your expert guide throughout the home selling journey. He or she will help you list your residence and promote it to dozens of potential buyers. Plus, a real estate agent will host home showings and open house events that enable buyers to get an up-close look at your residence. And if you receive offers on your house, a real estate agent will help you review these proposals and make an informed decision.
There is no reason to overspend to upgrade your residence. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can save money on home repairs and prep your house for the real estate market faster than ever before.