5 Awesomely Easy Landscaping Projects

By: Dave Toht Ramp up your curb appeal with cool landscaping projects you can easily pull off in a weekend. Project #1: Use a charged garden hose to lay out a smooth curve. Tip: A “charged” garden hose full of water makes for a smoother, kink-free curve; charge up by turning on the spigot but leaving the sprayer off. With the hose as your guide, use a lawn edger or spade to cut away excess sod and make an incision for the edging. Tap in the edging with a rubber mallet and add the … [Read more...]

Down Payment Tips

By Patric Santo Pietro Prudential New Jersey Properties Many people dream of owning a home but don't think it's possible because they lack the resources for a down payment and closing costs. Here are tips for securing that down payment. 1) Borrow from your retirement account: Many people have been investing in a 401(k) plan or traditional IRA for years and first-time homebuyers may borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. For those self-employed or if your … [Read more...]

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

By: G. M. Filisko Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale. 1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The … [Read more...]

Home Staging in Spring

By Patric Santo Pietro Prudential NJ Properties Any home stager will tell you that “staging is staging” and the principals remain the same throughout the year—keep things clean, clutter free and colorful. But that doesn’t each season comes without its own brand of staging magic. For spring, there are a number of things you can do both inside and outside to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Barb Schwarz, creator of Homes Staging® and CEO of Stagedhomes.com, suggests adding splashes … [Read more...]

Sellers: Leave your Home to Your Agent and Buying Customers

By Patric Santo Pietro Prudential NJ Properties Should I stay or should I go when my home is showing? Gently put, most agents say that when potential homebuyers come to see your home, it’s best that you leave the premises. Perspective buyers don’t want to see owners hovering or milling about. When they do, they get uncomfortable and feel as if they are intruding. This often causes buyers to look quickly without gaining a proper feel for the home. The reason sellers give for sticking … [Read more...]

The Truth About Radon Gas

By Patric Santo Pietro Prudential NJ Properties There’s a scene in “The Princess Bride” where the villainous Vizzini offers his adversary an invisible, odorless and tasteless poison. While his description is meant to conjure laughs, he could have just as easily been talking about radon gas. You can’t see, smell or taste radon, yet exposure to the gas can make you sick. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today … [Read more...]

10 Easy Mistakes Home Owners Make on Their Taxes

By: G. M. Filisko Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit. Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2011 property taxes until 2012. But that’s irrelevant to the feds. Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you … [Read more...]

Top Dos and Don’ts During the Mortgage Process

In the market for a new home? Here are some tips for what you should and shouldn't do during the mortgage process courtesy of Frank Approvato of Home Capital Network. DON’T APPLY FOR NEW CREDIT OF ANY KIND. Including those "You have been pre-approved” credit card invitations that you receive in the mail. Every time that you have your credit pulled by a potential creditor or lender, you lose points from your credit score immediately. Depending on the elements in your current credit report, you … [Read more...]

Spring Cleaning Guide

By: Alyson McNutt English Make spring cleaning less of a chore by following these smarter--and mostly greener--tips for this annual rite of homeownership. Bathrooms When it's time to get down and dirty, many people start with the bathroom. Allen Rathey, founder of The Housekeeping Channel, says removing mineral deposits, rust, and such from toilets doesn't have to mean chemical warfare. Don rubber gloves and use a pumice stone to erase stubborn stains. If you want more scouring power, … [Read more...]

3 Hot Trends for Kitchen Remodeling in 2012

By: Jamie Goldberg Mulling a kitchen remodel but want to keep costs low? You’re au courant with today’s trends that emphasize options and high-tech wizardry at affordable prices. Trend #1: Remodeling scales back A new focus on moderation and value has entered the remodeling mind-set. Trends that are likely to show up in your kitchen next year include: You’ll repair your existing appliances instead of replacing them, extending their life with good maintenance and care. If you’re replacing … [Read more...]