Real Estate Tips

    • 5 Tips to Stretch Your Summer Travel Budget

      20 May 2022

      (Family Features) Many of the nation’s leading travel experts are predicting a surge in travel this summer. It’s no surprise that after months of restrictions, Americans are ready to set out on their next adventures. While popular destinations are likely to be open and welcoming visitors, the uptick in traffic combined with higher prices may translate into more expensive travel.

      If you’re planning a trip this summer, learn how to incorporate some smart spending strategies with these tips from the financial experts at Credit One Bank:

      Be flexible on travel dates and destinations. Unless your travel is tied to a specific event or occasion, try searching with flexible dates to find the best available rates. Similarly, if you know you want to get away but you’re not particular about where, try looking for destinations offering special promotions or deals for travel during certain timeframes.

      Consider trip interruption and cancellation policies. Planning for the unexpected can help protect you if a trip needs to end early or be canceled altogether. Unless you have travel insurance, you’re likely to lose money on non-refundable expenses such as flights, event tickets or tours. However, some travel companies or your credit card provider may cover reimbursement for certain prepaid expenses. Look into what options are available before you travel to avoid extra headaches when the unexpected occurs during a trip.

      Get rewarded no matter how you travel. Using your credit card rewards to offset travel costs is a smart strategy, but not everyone wants or needs perks like miles or points that are exclusive to use with a single travel partner. With point-based travel reward cards, like the Credit One Bank Wander Card, the more places you visit, the more rewards you reap along the way that can be redeemed for future experiences, statement credits, gift cards and more. That means no matter what hotel chain you stay at, car rental agency you select or airline you fly with – or as you mix and match to get the best deals – everyday adventurers have opportunities to earn up to five times the rewards points for doing things they love.

      Come up with a realistic budget. When you’re planning a trip, it’s easy to focus on the big-ticket expenses like airfare and hotel rooms. The reality is, when you add up all the smaller expenses, you may spend significantly more than you realize. To plan a more accurate budget, be sure you account for expenses like dining out at restaurants, paying for fuel at the pump and tickets to attractions and events. Don’t forget fees that add up, too, like tips for housekeeping, checked bags, Wi-Fi access, parking and souvenirs.

      Research and book free and discounted attractions. Some attractions offer discounts for purchasing tickets in advance online, age-based discounts or free admission at certain times or dates, so be sure to look into any attractions you hope to visit ahead of time. If you’re a travel rewards credit card holder, start your search by looking into your redemption options. If your card offers flexible options by booking through a specific partner site or dedicated travel platform, you might be able to redeem points or make your spending dollars go further toward earning more rewards for the cost of experiences, entertainment and other expenses while you travel.

       Find more ways to make your money work for you at CreditOneBank.com/articles.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Use Green Building Practices When Renovating Your Home

      20 May 2022

      Making home improvements can allow you to have a house that better suits your family’s needs and lifestyle. It can also be an opportunity to make your house more energy efficient and to reduce your energy consumption and utility bills. The specific steps you take will depend on the nature and scope of your renovation plans. Here are some ideas to discuss with your contractor.

      Reduce Air Transfer
      If you’re planning to install new windows in your home, look for ones that are energy efficient and constructed with two or three panes of glass to prevent air leakage. Low-e windows have a protective layer that can block out UV rays and reduce the amount of sunlight that enters a house, which can keep it cooler in the summer. Choose windows with well-built frames and have them professionally installed. 

      Cracks and gaps around windows, doors, skylights, pipes and electrical wires can lead to air leakage and drafts. That can allow cold air to get inside the house and warm air to escape during the winter. In the summer, hot air can get in and cooled air can escape. Air transfer can lead to high utility bills throughout the year as the furnace or air conditioner struggles to reach and maintain a comfortable temperature. Having a contractor seal cracks and gaps may lower your utility bills immediately.

      Insulation can reduce air transfer and help you control the temperature in your home. If you’re going to have contractors build an addition, replace siding, or perform other types of improvements, discuss where to add insulation and which type to use to make your house more energy efficient.

      Choose an Appropriate HVAC System
      HVAC equipment is designed to work in houses of various sizes. It’s important to select a system that’s right for your home so it can operate efficiently and help you avoid problems.

      Energy-efficient furnaces and water heaters can reduce your energy usage and lower your monthly utility bills. A geothermal heat pump, solar water heater, or on-demand water heater may also save you money.

      Get a Home Energy Audit
      If you’re not sure what steps to take to make your house more energy efficient, a home energy audit can provide you with valuable insight. A professional can inspect your house and appliances to figure out where you’re wasting energy. 

      You can share the results of the energy audit with your contractor and discuss ways to address those issues while handling renovations. Some changes, such as adding insulation, will be easy if a contractor is planning to remove walls anyway to make upgrades.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Why It's Important to Choose a Real Estate Agent With a Good Reputation and Strong Connections

      20 May 2022

      When you’re looking for a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, you should seek out someone who has an in-depth knowledge of the local area and a successful track record. An agent’s reputation and relationships with fellow agents and other professionals who are involved in real estate transactions are also important. Take those factors into consideration when selecting an agent.

      How an Agent’s Reputation and Connections can Affect You
      Real estate agents frequently interact with each other to handle matters on behalf of their clients. An agent may receive a question from a client and may reach out to an agent representing another party to get necessary information. Agents work together to coordinate viewings, inspections, appraisals and closings. If you choose an agent who has a good reputation among his or her peers, those interactions should go smoothly. 

      When agents have positive relationships, they share information with each other. If you’re interested in buying a house, your agent may learn about one that meets your criteria from a conversation with another agent, possibly even before the property is listed. If you want to sell your home, your agent may find out about a buyer who would be interested through a discussion with a fellow agent.

      Some real estate agents specialize in a niche, such as lakeside homes or houses powered by solar energy. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home that has specific characteristics and your real estate agent has connections to other agents with that specialty, those relationships may yield valuable information and guide you to your dream home.

      Agents who spend years in the business often develop relationships with other professionals who are involved in real estate transactions, such as photographers, staging companies, home inspectors, appraisers and moving companies. If you have no idea which businesses to choose to provide those services, a knowledgeable agent with connections will be able to make recommendations based on feedback from previous satisfied clients. 

      Interview Several Agents Before Choosing One
      Selecting a real estate agent is one of the most important decisions you will make when buying or selling a home. The right agent can help you get a good deal and move the process along efficiently. If you make the wrong choice, you may experience a wide range of problems and delays. 

      Ask for recommendations from family members, friends and coworkers, but don’t rush to make a decision. Take the time to interview multiple agents before you select one. Ask about their relationships with other professionals and how they use those connections to serve their clients. Request references from recent clients and contact them to inquire about their experiences.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 7 On-Trend Kitchen Upgrades

      19 May 2022

      (Family Features) Designers from coast to coast are cooking up fresh ideas for kitchen upgrades. This year’s hottest trends bring numerous fresh aesthetic approaches while functionality also plays a leading role in top design ideas.

      If you are planning a kitchen upgrade, take inspiration from these on-trend elements spotted by the design experts at Wellborn Cabinet:

      Unique Tile
      In recent years, backsplash tile has taken a more prominent role in kitchen design and has continued to grow in popularity to the point where tile is now a full-stop focal point. From eye-catching colors and patterns to texture that brings new dimension, kitchen tile can make a big statement. In fact, bold tile is not just limited to the backsplash. Patterned tile is an on-trend option for adding character to your flooring and dressing up commonly under-designed spaces like the window jamb with a practical material, like tile, that is easy to clean and maintain.

      Multiple Appliances
      Function is front and center in residential kitchen design this year, and homeowners’ growing demands to go big on appliances is proof. From double ovens to extra dishwashers, homeowners are committing to more useful features. There are even some kitchens that boast two refrigerators, which may be a nod to the way grocery shopping habits shifted during the pandemic, with fewer, but larger, trips to the store.

      Walk-Through Pantries
      Whether you are capitalizing on the mystique of a “hidden” room or attracted to the idea of a more seamless aesthetic, a walk-through pantry can be a stunning and functional solution. With a walk-through pantry, you can add extra space to an existing pantry to create a better flow to your floor plan. Available in a variety of widths and heights, Wellborn Cabinet’s Walk-Through Pantry blends naturally into the rest of your cabinetry to create visual continuity. Integrated magnetic door catches add stability and keep doorways securely closed.

      Wood Finishes
      After years of painted cabinets and woodwork dominating kitchen design, wood grain finishes are making a comeback. The look is cozy and inviting, and with a wide span of stain options, it is equally possible to take the look ultra-modern or veer toward a more traditional style. Outside of cabinetry, there is plenty of room to incorporate the warmth of wood, such as butcher-block counters or exposed beams.

      Green, Blue and Earth Tones
      Jewel-inspired hues had their moment, but this season’s color scheme is more about subtle shades that meld with neutrals for lighter, brighter spaces that feel airier and more spacious. Greens, in particular, pair well with an array of wood finishes, whether cabinetry, countertops or furnishings. Integrating greens, blues and other nature-inspired colors allows you to bring earthy serenity to a bustling and busy room, and this motif lends itself well to a design that creates a cohesive connection with adjacent outdoor living space.

      Clever Storage Solutions
      The kitchen is a busy place prone to clutter, and this season you will find multiple examples of practical solutions showing up in showcase kitchens. The features that can make your kitchen chores easier and neater come in all shapes and sizes. For example, discreet knife blocks tucked into drawers, drawer dividers for maximum customization and sliders that make it easy to empty the trash and recycling bins.

      Marble Countertops
      Marble is not necessarily a new trend, but this year’s attention is on slabs of marble with eye-catching veins that make counters really pop. For a fresh take on marble, forgo the typical white, gray or black styles in favor of color. Standout gold veining or even full slabs with stunning greens, blues and reds can make a statement. If budget is an issue, or you are worried about too much of a good thing, consider using a bold slab on a smaller space, like the island, rather than outfitting the entire kitchen.

      Find more on-trend ideas to upgrade your kitchen at Wellborn.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Why You Should Check Your Credit Reports on a Regular Basis

      19 May 2022

      Financial institutions request copies of credit reports to help them decide whether to approve loan and credit card applications. Reviewing your credit reports regularly can help you correct any errors and better understand your overall financial situation.

      Find Inaccurate Data 
      Sometimes the information contained in credit reports is inaccurate or out of date. One person’s data may wind up in another person’s credit report if the two individuals have the same or similar names. Identity thieves may create fraudulent accounts using stolen personal data. Credit reports may list closed accounts as active or may not include up-to-date information on payments that have been made. Derogatory information, such as a bankruptcy, may still be included in a credit report when it should have been removed. If lenders base their decisions on inaccurate or outdated information, you may be denied a loan or credit card that you deserve.

      Get a Better Handle on Your Finances
      In your credit reports, you will see all the debt you have. If your credit utilization ratio— the percentage of your total available credit that you’re using—is too high, you may be denied credit. 

      Credit reports usually don’t contain credit scores, but you may be able to request them when you check your credit reports. Monitoring your credit regularly can help you spot trends. If you consistently make payments on time and keep your credit utilization ratio down, you may see your credit scores climb. If you make late payments or let your debt get too high, your credit scores may decrease. That information can help you figure out if you need to make changes to your spending habits. 

      Prepare for a Major Purchase 
      Many people don’t give much thought to their creditworthiness until they want to buy a house or a car. If you want to take out a loan, but your credit isn’t good, you may be denied. If you happen to get approved, you may have to pay a high interest rate. Keeping track of your credit standing will give you time to address any problems and get your credit in shape before you need to borrow money. 

      How to Get Copies of Your Credit Reports
      The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) compile their own credit reports. Companies that you do business with don’t necessarily report information about you to all of them. Your three reports may contain different information, which is why it’s important to check them all. 

      You can go to annualcreditreport.com to request free copies of your credit reports from each of the three bureaus once a year. You can get them all at once or at different times. Requesting copies of your own credit reports won’t lower your credit scores.

      Beware of other websites that claim to offer free credit reports. In many cases, you’ll be required to provide credit card information and will be billed monthly fees if you don’t cancel your membership. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.