Posted by Peggy Farber on 9/6/2017

Guest rooms, often unused most of the year, all too often end up as a holding area for clutter you're too attached to toss but not quite in love with enough to put out in a frequently used room. Moving into a new home creates the perfect clean slate for setting up a guest room that is a luxurious home away from home for visiting friends and family. Keep reading to learn how to set up a guest room that wows visitors.

Start with the essentials:

If nothing else, be sure to put out plenty of blankets and pillows for your overnight guests to sleep comfortably in your home. Make sure to have at least one lightweight blanket and one heavy one to suit varying temperatures.

Try spending at least one night in your guest room to get a feel for the room. Is it extra drafty? Is the sun overbearing in the morning or maybe the room is poorly lit for the nighttime. Having first-hand experience with staying in your guest room helps you to thoughtfully furnish the room. 

If your guest bedroom doesnít have its own bathroom hang a mirror up for guests to get ready in the comfort of their own room. 

Put items for guests to use out in plain sight so that they do not need to feel like a snoop going through drawers to find an extra blanket or spare toothbrush. When setting up the room get creative with ways you can tastefully leave these items out instead of just cluttering up available surfaces.

Speaking of a spare toothbrush, earn bonus hospitality points by leaving out spare and travel size personal care items for your guests who may have forgotten their own. Youíll also want to stock the bathroom with extra toilet paper, tissues, and towels.

Little extras that make a big impression:

For guests who are staying for a few days or longer, you should provide plenty of available hooks and hangers as well as at least one empty drawer. You may also want to include a bedside clock with an alarm feature.

Bring in the comforts of home by providing a bedside light, books and magazines as well as a comfortable chair to sit in with a side table. Fresh cut flowers or houseplants always make a room feel more pulled together and lived in.

Leave out some entertainment options for guests who may be night owls or early risers. Whether you add magazines, books or a few movies make sure they are current and interesting. In the age of the mobile phone be sure to also include your homeís wifi password out in the open, perhaps even framed, and spare charging cords.

Add lastly, you can add a touch of luxury by including an electric kettle, mugs, packets of tea, instant coffee and packets of creamer and sugar. Consider also putting out a few snacks and drinking water.

When having friends and family stay overnight the hope is always for them to feel at home. You can avoid a cold, unwelcoming guest room by employing just a few of the above tips. After all, itís the little things that count and your extra efforts surely wonít go unnoticed!

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Posted by Peggy Farber on 8/30/2017

Bad credit happens. Maybe you were late on some loan payments, or maybe you got a bit to swipe-happy with a credit card while you were in college. Or, maybe you were like many other Americans who took a financial hit during the housing crisis. Regardless, it can take a long time to recuperate from a bad credit score.

If youíre hoping to buy a home but have poor credit, it can seem like you donít have many options. However, there are many mortgages designed with such people in mind.

In this post, weíre going to discuss some of the options for people interested in home ownership who have low credit and ways they can achieve this goal without taking on high interest loans.

First thingís first: start prioritizing your credit

Even if you want to buy a home within the coming months, itís always a good idea to start building credit. It does take several months to see a substantial difference on your credit report, but starting now will save you in the long run and will show lenders that youíre making a difference.

To give your credit score a boost in the shortest time possible, set all of your bills on auto-payment, repay and late bills such as medical expenses, and set up payment plans wherever needed. If possible, become an authorized user on someoneís credit card and use that for everyday expenses like groceries. Doing so will help you build credit without opening new cards that have high interest.

Many types of mortgages

Mortgages come in many shapes and forms. Since lenders are in competition with one another, you can often find loans that cater to underserved markets. In this case, that market is people with low credit scores.

Call some local lenders and ask if they have programs for people with low credit. Often they will point you toward first-time homeowner loans and USDA-guaranteed mortgages. Other times they might offer loans with high down payments. But, youíll never know until you ask.

USDA and FHA Loans

Currently, USDA loans have a minimum credit score of 620. For FHA loans, lenders recently reduced the minimum score to 580. With these loans, you can pay a low, or no, down payment and still receive a mortgage loan.

The first step to getting approved for either type of loan is getting in contact with a lender to determine your eligibility. Eligibility is based on other factors such as your income, and in the case of USDA loans, the location of the home.

Other Options

If your score is lower than 580 or you donít qualify for a USDA loan, you can still find other options. One would be to pay a higher down payment on the home. This would help ensure the lender that you are able to provide income to make payments in spite of your credit history.

Another option would be to reason with your lender of choice. Most of the application process comes down to numbers, but if you can show a lender that you have substantial, reliable income, and have been making rent payments for multiple years, these can both help build your case.

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Posted by Peggy Farber on 8/23/2017

Colors are a big reason why you marvel when you see a full bouquet of flowers. The more colors there are in a bouquet, the seemingly more gorgeous and lively the bouquet may appear. Itís no wonder that art lovers spend hours perusing a museum, slowly passing one colorful painting, fabric design or sculpture after another.

Colors are great for spotlighting personality

When it comes to a house, colors have a huge impact as well. While house hunting, you may have visited a house that was painted in so many colors that you took a step back. Bright purples, oranges and sunshine yellows may have turned you off.

Why? Too much color.

Yet, your home is your castle. Itís the place where you want to feel like you can totally relax. Home is also the place where you want to spotlight your winning personality. And you should showcase your personality and taste.

But, you may not need to limit that form of self-expression to wall paint. You may want to paint your kitchen and dining room a similar color and your living room and den another color. If you change furniture every three to four years, it could save you time and paint to go with neutral colors like browns, whites and blues when choosing house paint.

Going with neutral or only three different colors of wall paint doesnít mean you have to skimp on style and color at your house. Check out these creative ways to put your personality on display at home using color:

There are many ways to add color to your house. If youíre especially creative, you could draw or paint your own wall hangings, frame them and decorate your walls with your own artwork. You could also encase family pictures in different colored picture frames. These are just a few ways to add more color to your house without painting each room of your house a different color. Of course, if you absolutely love colors, you can always turn your house walls into a beautiful canvas.

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Posted by Peggy Farber on 8/16/2017

It's probably safe to assume that at some point in our lives we have looked at a room in a magazine and wished our own home could look just like that. Unlike magazines, however, we donít have the luxury of having a professional design team putting in hours of their time to make each room on our house look perfectly put together. However, we still find ourselves wishing ours could look just a little bit more polished like the ones in the glossy pages lining drugstore shelves. Below are some tips you can use to add a designerís touch to your own home without having to hire one: Three's a charm†- choose three colors and/or shades you will use throughout the room. You will want one as your main color, one as an accent and another for a minor accent. If you tend to be drawn to all warm or cool shades, use the opposite tone as an accent color to restore balance to your color palette. Texture - mixing up textures will add more depth and visual interest to your room. Fur, tufting, velvet, tile and wood-grain and wainscotting are all classic ways to add texture to a room Balance - strike a balance within your room by mixing large and small or bulky and delicate furniture together. By mixing pieces with varying structures your room will feel less cookie cutter and more curated. It's all in the details - bowls, baskets, and trays throughout a room add a thoughtful touch while offering alternative storage. Added bonus: this is also a great way to add more texture to a room. Get artsy - adding unique artwork to a room adds the professional touch you are looking for. This can easily be done at home and even a project that can be done with children. All you need is some paint and a few canvases to paint abstract shapes on to. Everything in its place - avoid clutter taking over counters by giving everything a dedicated place. Homes in magazines spreads have the upper hand in that they are not actually lived in. Having a day of the week where you go through your home to ensure everything is either in its assigned place or given one will guarantee a neater, tidier home over time. The finishing touch - fresh-cut flowers add that certain something to a room. You are sure to find them in any given room found in the pages of a magazine. If your room seems to be missing something and you can't quite put your finger on it, a floral bouquet is probably the finishing touch you're looking for. While a perfect home can't be guaranteed, after all, we live in the real world and not one curated for a photo shoot, there are steps you can take to replicate those found in the glossy pages of magazines. Whether you switch up your furniture pieces to include a variety of shapes or add a DIY abstract painting you can easily add a designer touch to your own home!

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Posted by Peggy Farber on 8/9/2017

Bad tenants do more than ruin a house. Bad tenants can have a negative effect on an entire neighborhood. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to determine how responsible and upstanding house renters are.

In fact, at the outset, you might think that the couple who stops by to ask about renting your house are in good financial, social and legal standing. It's hard to tell if people are being dishonest just by looking at them, especially if you connect quality attire with good behavior.

Signs that you're renting to bad house tenants

By the time you realize that you've rented your house to the wrong people, it could be too late. Pay attention the following signs before you rent to sidestep landlord regret:

  • Habit of paying rent late (bad tenants won't only regularly pay rent late, they may also give you one excuse after another each time they pay you late)
  • Property damage that ranges from ripped carpet, badly scratched wood floors, busted pipes and the old familiar, wall holes
  • Complaints from neighbors about loud noises arguments and physical altercations that occur at the house that you're renting
  • Broken or cracked windows
  • Loose kitchen or bathroom cabinets, including cabinet doors that are barely hanging on their hinges
  • More weeds than grass in the front and back yard

Learning more about house renters

You're probably going to need help discovering exactly who you are about to rent your house to. Much of that help is at your fingertips. Some of the assistance comes at a price. Included among both are:

  • Running a thorough credit check on potential house renters (run a check on all three major credit bureaus at the least)
  • Paying for a thorough criminal background check  on tenants, the same as apartment leasing office do
  • Asking future house renters to give you proof of employment
  • Setting clear guidelines on what tenants can and cannot do at your property (for example, you might state that tenants cannot have overnight guests for longer than two weeks without your written permission)

Protecting yourself from bad tenants

When you rent your house to other people think of it as actually selling your house to someone. Sure. You still own the house when you rent, but tenants are going to have nearly as much impact on your house, including the condition of your house, as you would if you lived at the property.

Late rent payments are just the beginning when it comes to dealing with bad tenants. Rent to bad tenants and you could end up paying to repair holes in walls, patchy lawns and stained carpet. You might also have to meet with neighbors and apologize for their having to put up with loud noises and debris that bad tenants created.

Although there is no way to guarantee that tenants will be courteous, friendly and responsible, there are things that you could do to raise the chances that people you rent your house to won't leave you with headaches. A background check, credit review and speaking with the prospective tenants' current neighbors is a good start.

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