Whether you’re selling your third home or buying your first, the real estate industry is full of new things to learn. From complicated terminology to confusing acronyms, buying and selling homes can get a bit overwhelming if you don’t know the lingo.
Below, we’ve put together a list of some of the more common terms and acronyms you’ll likely hear as you navigate the buying and selling process.
REAL ESTATE TERMINOLOGY FOR BUYERS AND SELLERS
Appraisal – The appraisal is an estimate of a home’s worth. It is conducted by a trained professional who looks at things like the value of similar homes that have sold in the area, square footage, and the home’s condition to determine its value.
Contingency – a stipulation in the real estate contract that places a condition on the buyer’s willingness to proceed with the purchase. If a contingency isn’t satisfied, the buyer may back out of the sale or get their earnest money back.
Down Payment – Money paid upfront by the buyer to the seller usually ranging from $0-20 percent of the purchase price.
Greatschools Rating – greatschools.org provides details of school districts so parents can make informed decisions about the schools their children attend. This website is especially helpful for homebuyers with children looking to buy homes in good school districts.
Homeowner’s Association (HOA) – an organization that manages housing complexes and communities and enforces rules for the properties within.
List Price – the price of a home as set by the seller and/or his listing agent.
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – a collection of databases that lists homes for sale. Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS, and each agent pays dues to become a member of each one.
Net Proceeds – the amount of money a seller ends up with after selling a home once agent fees and closing costs are paid.
Pre-approval – an analysis by a lender of a buyer’s ability to repay a loan. Getting a pre-approved mortgage tells you how much home you can afford.
Short Sale – when a seller sells his home for less than his mortgage balance. This is usually the last step before a foreclosure.
Title – alegal document that shows rightful ownership of a property. Once a property is sold, the buyer receives an updated title that shows his name as the rightful owner.
Upfront Costs – includes all the costs a buyer pays including earnest money, inspection fee, and the appraisal fee.
VA Loans – mortgage loan options offered by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that cater to former and current members of the military and their families.
Walkthrough – the last inspection of a home, done by the buyer and his agent, before the closing takes place.
Zero Lot-line Property – a building that sits on the property line on at least one side.
This list isn’t all-inclusive as there are many terms in the real estate industry. It does, however, contain some of the more common words and acronyms you’ll come across as an average buyer or seller of residential real estate. If you hear any terms not on this list that you don’t know, be sure to ask your agent for an explanation before committing to anything.
How can you make a homemade mask? Is your bandana really protecting you? What can you do to help? We asked the experts.BY MADI SKAHILL • APRIL 15, 2020
While social distancing is still currently our best bet for fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus, Coloradans—along with everyone else around the nation—are now being encouraged to wear face masks whenever they leave their homes. But adopting mask culture is still fairly new territory for most Americans, and we know this makes for a lot of questions. We spoke to the experts to answer reader questions about how to properly make and wear face masks—and help get them to others who need them, too.
Why should people wear masks, even if they aren’t sick? Are homemade masks really effective? If you’re stepping out in public on an essential outing, the safety of yourself and others is a two-way street. This is where masks come into play. We know that the coronavirus is able to spread through direct or surface contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person sneezing, coughing, or eating—so hopefully it goes without saying that if you’re sick, you should wear a mask to protect others from the spread of your droplets. But John Zhai, a professor of building systems engineering at the University of Colorado and expert on air quality and ventilation, stresses the importance of wearing a mask even if you’re healthy. It’s possible for people to carry the virus but show no symptoms—so if someone who is asymptomatic assumes they’re fine and goes out in public without a mask, you can be glad you at least had yours on.
Zhai also says that having several layers and a proper fit are the two most essential factors to making sure you have an efficient mask. So if you’re just tying a loose scarf around your face? “That probably won’t work that well because you have a big gap under your face,” Zhai warns. What about my neck gaiter that’s not getting any use on the slopes right now, you might ask? Well, the type of material will probably be the determining factor—don’t worry, we’re getting to that.
Are there specific materials that are better to use than others if I’m making my own masks? Cotton will get the job done just fine according to Zhai—and you should try to avoid any smooth or silky fabrics. “A lot of evidence shows that smooth materials will have a bacteria or virus on it for a longer time,” he says. Scarves—and unfortunately bandanas, too—have been scoring the lowest on materials tests for blocking particles, so if you’re able to scavenge or spring for other options, do it. If bandana or scarf material is all that you have available, there are easy, no-sew tutorials for bandana masks with coffee filtersfor extra protection.
Jaime Jennings, co-owner of Denver-based Fancy Tiger Crafts, suggests cotton fabric with a pretty tight weave (hint: anything with a high thread count) like quilting cotton. “You can also hold a woven fabric up to light to compare different fabrics that you might have available to see which ones let in more light,” Jennings says. “If you can see holes in the weave of the fabric, then that’s not going to be tight enough.”
Jennings and her co-owner, Amber Corcoran, have also been encouraging people to use interfacing if possible—the common sewing material used for extra backing—to act as an inner filter. “The combination of the woven fabrics with non-woven interfacing makes for a really good barrier,” Jennings says. The material has been in high demand though, so only worry about it if you already have some lying around or can easily get your hands on it; just be sure to avoid the kinds of interfacing with fusible glue backing.
What’s most important is simply making sure you have several layers of fabric to filter out droplets. Jennings suggests similar hacks seen all over the internet, such as cutting up old t-shirts to use for parts of your mask (just make sure to wash that dingy old shirt first!). “We’re really just trying to get people to try to find things in their home or that they might have already to make masks with because some of the materials are just really hard to get right now.”
How do I make a mask? What if I don’t have a sewing machine? Fancy Tiger Crafts has compiled a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about sewing masks at home, including sewing patterns, kits, tutorials, and helpful tips for slightly more advanced techniques—like sewing your own straps with bias tape. The Colorado Mask Project also has plenty of resources to find the homemade mask solution that work best for your circumstances, including tutorials that don’t require any sewing. “Find something that’s achievable for your skill level,” Jennings suggests. “It needs to be super accessible for everybody. You don’t need to go buy new stuff—you probably have something at home that will work.”
If you’re experienced with sewing and want to lend a helping hand to healthcare workers, many hospitals are accepting homemade masks for patients and staff who aren’t directly working with COVID-19 patients or suspected of having the virus. But before you jump in, Jennings suggests researching specific guidelines for the hospital you’re looking to donate to. Save the already swamped hospitals a call and check the database that the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health has compiled on the current mask needs and specific pattern requirements for hospitals across the U.S.
Do I need to disinfect or wash my mask every time I use it? If you’re using a homemade mask of cotton or jersey material, it’s best to clean it after every use, according to Zhai. “Wash [your mask] every time you come home, because you never know what is on it,” he says.
It’s still important to make sure we’re not keeping medical-grade masks away from the frontline healthcare workers who need them most—but if you already happen to have, say, paper medical masks at your disposal, there are ways to disinfect them as well. First things first, Zhai suggests checking the masks’ labeling to determine whether they’re suggested for one-time or multiple uses. If it’s a single-use mask, Zhai suggests canning it after about four hours. “They’re made out of paper—it will get wet when people breathe,” Zhai says. “Any longer will be difficult because when they get wet, they lose the function to filter the particles.”
If your paper mask can be used more than once, research shows that placing it in the oven at 168 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30–60 minutes will kill most of the virus. (Obviously inspect it first and remove any additional rubber or plastic pieces beforehand.)
Do I need to wear a mask even just to be outside for a walk or exercise? Good news! If you’re heading outside for a simple walk or some exercise, you don’t really need to wear a mask. Unless you’re sick yourself, the open space, proper distancing, and fresh air will take care of mitigating any spread. “With good ventilation, we don’t have to worry about it,” Zhai says, stressing that it’s mostly just critical to wear masks in indoor spaces with much less ventilation, like elevators, public transportation, and yes, grocery stores—even if it’s not crowded.
How can we support local efforts to boost the supply of personal and/or medical masks? Coloradans have been stepping up to try to get masks and other necessary equipment into the hands of those who still need them. Make4Covid is a statewide collective of industry experts and makers pooling resources and skills to get necessary equipment like face masks and face shields to Colorado healthcare professionals. Head to their website if you want to make a donation, or if you have sewing/3D printing capabilities, means to help distribute, equipment design experience, or other applicable skill sets and would like to join the effort. The Colorado Mask Project has plenty of opportunities to either donate materials or money, or assist with making masks yourself. And you can also head to the Denver Mask Task Force to volunteer to sew or deliver masks to other communities still in need of resources, such homeless shelters and senior-living facilities.
Rural homes have a reputation for being large, airy, and downright homey. The lifestyle is often depicted as laid-back and freeing where quiet reigns king and things move at a slower pace. For some people, country living is ideal. For others, however, it’s boring. Rural living isn’t for everyone, so whether you’re thinking of purchasing a rural home for investment or living, here are a few pros and cons to consider.
FEWER PEOPLE MEANS FEWER PUBLIC SERVICES
One of the reasons people love living in a rural area is the fact that there are fewer people. Your closest neighbor may be a mile or more away. While this affords plenty of privacy and quiet, it also means there are fewer public services available nearby.
If you’ve lived in urban areas all your life and are now considering moving to a rural home, you must realize you’ll need time to adjust to this lesser level of public service nearby.
FEWER BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
If you’re planning to live in a rural home, you’ll likely have to make a longer commute to work since there are fewer business opportunities close by. On the other hand, if you’re planning to use the rural home as an investment property, it’s important to have clear expectations when it comes to renting or selling it as it’s likely to sit vacant and/or for sale longer for the same reason.
Urban properties often come with a plethora of restrictions in terms of property development. Rural properties, on the other hand, often have fewer restrictions, giving the owner more leeway when it comes to land development. Furthermore, when it comes to listing rural homes for sale, the listing regulations are less strict than those for urban properties in cities like Los Angeles or New York.
MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR LAND DEVELOPMENT
Strategically purchasing multiple rural properties gives investors more opportunities for extending land development, increasing their profitability as a long-term investment. Should the investor decide not to pursue development, the rural property(ies) typically garners a profit when sold.
CHEAPER PURCHASE PRICES
Rural properties are typically cheaper to buy than their urban counterparts. As an investor, you can expect to pay about half what you would pay for an urban home of the same size. This makes it extremely easy to buy more than one property at a time and still stay within your budget.
LESS COMPETITION IN THE MARKET
Recently, there has been an increase in rural properties for sale with a lack of interest from investors, which means there is less competition in the market for purchasing these properties. This factor also drives the prices lower for these properties, making them prime investment opportunities.
It takes the right type of person to reap the benefits of investing in or living in a rural home. If you’re thinking of buying a home in the country for either reason, the pros and cons listed above may help you decide whether or not the purchase is right for you.
They say home is where the heart is, but if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it may seem like home is where the boring is instead. To give your home a little pick-me-up, try one or all these easy home improvement projects. While these projects are sure to give your home a fresh look and feel, the beauty is you can complete them in as little as a weekend.
So, grab some supplies and get those creative juices flowing!
A KITCHEN BACKSPLASH
Whether your kitchen already has a backsplash or it’s badly in need of one, this weekend project is a must no matter your budget.
Head to your local home improvement store and purchase some ceramic or glass tiles, grout, and the necessary tools to do the job. If you don’t know what you’re doing, simply go online and search for an easy-to-follow tutorial – the Internet’s full of them – and get to work. If your budget doesn’t allow for glass or ceramic tiles, simply apply some great decals to add a pop of color to an otherwise drab kitchen backsplash.
UPGRADE THE LIGHTING
Sadly, proper lighting is something many people overlook when decorating their homes. The reality is, however, that the right lighting can enhance a room and make it look and feel inviting and comfortable.
Whether your goal is to allow more natural light to flood a room or you want to add more artificial lighting, be sure the lighting is adequate and soft to create that warm and relaxing atmosphere a home should convey.
THE HARDWARE IN YOUR HOME
One of the easiest and quickest ways to change the look of any room is to replace the old hardware with new, modern pieces. In bedrooms, replace closet door knobs and entry door knobs with new ones. In the kitchen, update the cabinet and drawer pulls with modern ones. While it’s a tad tedious changing these small pieces of hardware, the result is quite effective.
If you want to make a big statement without having to make any big renovations, try changing out the window treatments and curtains in your home instead. Try choosing curtains in contrasting but complementing colors and/or fabrics and for a real boost in style, try switching out the old, standard curtain rods for decorative ones instead.
No time to paint the walls but want something new and exciting in certain rooms of your home? No worries! Try some inexpensive peel and stick wall decals for an easy way to dress up a boring wall or two.
Peel and stick wall decals come in almost any design you can imagine. From fun kids’ characters to artsy designs and more, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating one-of-a-kind wall décor with peel and stick decals.
If your home is in need of a facelift, but your schedule or budget doesn’t allow for any serious renovations, try some of the suggestions listed above.
While the typical gardener is still the 55-year-old woman, more and more millennials are trying their hand at growing flowers, plants, and even food. The last decade or so has seen a rise in gardening interest, forcing city growers to get creative when it comes to utilizing their limited spaces for gardening.
Below, we explore several tips, tricks, and hacks to help those of you with limited space to plant, grow, and sow to your heart’s content.
Whether you live in the heart of a big city or on a sprawling farm in the middle of nowhere, container gardening is an easy way to grow the things you love. There are many different kinds of containers to choose from, and depending on the amount of space you have, mixing and matching these containers can really make for a beautiful display.
If your apartment has a balcony, it’s the perfect place for a container garden. Try choosing plant boxes and pots that hang on the balcony railing or ones that fit nicely in a corner. Self-watering containers are also a good idea, especially if you’re the busy type who forgets to water their plants.
When you have limited space, you value every inch of it. The last thing you want to do is clutter it up with multiple plant stands and flowerpots. If you’re the gardening type, however, you can have your cake and eat it, too, by growing your garden vertically.
Look for a multi-shelf utility cart that can hold several small plants at a time. Once the plants grow and fill in, it will look like a small jungle right in your living room. Additionally, you can also hang a plant or two from the ceiling above the cart to complete the vertical effect.
Most people would eat salads and vegetables everyday if they grew them themselves. For urban dwellers, this isn’t an easy feat as these types of foods require some serious real estate. The good news is, however, that you can grow your own veggies – even in limited spaces – using one of the handy seed kits available in most green houses. Just look for tomato growing kits and seed sheets for growing herbs and leafy greens to create your own mini vegetable garden right in your own kitchen window.
WATERING YOUR GARDEN
Since most of the gardening that takes place in limited spaces occurs indoors, watering becomes the most important task. For some people, however, remembering to water their plants is challenging. For those of you that fall into this category, opting for an underground watering system is the best idea. These waterers are placed in the soil and release moisture over time as the plant needs it. When the waterer is empty, simply refill it again for several more days of worry-free plant care.
If you enjoy gardening but space is limited, try one or all the tips listed above. With a little planning and creativity, you can create a stunning garden full of the plants and vegetables you love without sacrificing valuable space.
ARE SMART LOCKS A SMART CHOICE FOR MY RENTAL PROPERTIES?
We live in a time when everyone is connected via one smart device or another. We have smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs, and even smart houses, all of which are designed to make our lives easier. It stands to reason, then, that smart locks can do the same thing. But, are they a smart choice for rental properties? Let’s find out.
THE BENEFITS OF SMART LOCKS FOR LANDLORDS AND PROPERTY MANAGERS
The benefits of smart locks on rental properties go beyond just making life easier and more secure for you and your tenants. Smart locks give you total control over the comings and goings of the property.
For example, if there’s a faulty appliance in one of the units that needs your attention, the tenant doesn’t even have to be home in order for you to enter and make the repairs. Another benefit of having smart locks is that you can get text alerts with timestamps of the people entering and exiting the property, giving you complete visibility and knowledge of what’s happening when you’re not around.
Finally, when a tenant moves out, rather than having to replace the locks as you used to have to do, you can simply re-program the smart locks before the next tenant moves in. This, in and of itself, is a huge time and money saver.
MORE BENEFITS OF SMART LOCKS ON YOUR RENTAL PROPERTIES
If you install smart locks on your rental properties, you may be able to charge higher rent, especially if you have other smart devices installed that work with them. Tenants don’t mind paying more if they can control their apartment’s features from their phones. Things like thermostat control, lighting control, and lock control are tech features that many people enjoy and are willing to pay more for.
Almost every landlord has dealt with a problematic tenant, but with smart locks, you can keep an audit trail of things like maintenance visits. Should a tenant claim you didn’t tend to his maintenance request, you can track vendor visits and have fact-based proof that you did.
Today’s younger generation dominates the renter’s market and technology is an integral part of their lives. In the years to come, it’s likely the younger generations will be even thirstier for advanced technology, so you can’t go wrong with installing smart locks on your rental properties.
While the initial cost of installation may be high, the added security and your ability to charge more for rent are worth the expense.
SELLING YOUR HOME? CONSIDER THESE EFFICIENT HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO SEE THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
The consensus is that making any type of home improvement will automatically increase a home’s value, and thus, garner a bigger asking price when you sell. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. While transforming your main bathroom into the spa-like experience you’ve always dreamed of sounds like a good idea, if you’re selling your home, it may not add to the value of it as you’d think. On the other hand, fixing an aging roof or replacing gutters will almost always up the value of your home.
There are several tried and true home improvements that will increase the return on your investment, so if you’re planning to sell soon after making them, these are the improvements you should consider.
1. MINOR BATHROOM UPDATES
No one likes to think they are using someone else’s bathroom, so focusing on updating and improving the bathrooms in your home is something most homebuyers welcome. The good news is, you don’t have to gut the whole room and start over to increase your ROI. Instead, try adding some additional lighting to make the room brighter, and add a new vanity. By simply giving the room a fresh, new look, homebuyers are more likely to give your home a second look.
2. IMPROVING CURB APPEAL
First impressions are powerful, which is why it’s smart to up the curb appeal of your home. The key to landscaping is to keep it simple, with trim, clean lines. The landscaping in your yard should suggest that you care about how your home looks but not that it takes a great deal of time or money to keep it looking that way.
3. MINOR KITCHEN RENOVATION
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home. In fact, for most homebuyers, the kitchen can make or break a sale.
Again, the good news here is that you don’t have to spend a great deal of time or money on updating the kitchen to make it appealing to homebuyers. Instead of completely overhauling the room, go for more subtle upgrades like refinishing the cabinets and installing new hardware or replacing the old appliances with newer modern ones.
4. MAKE A BEDROOM IN THE ATTIC
If your home has a convertible attic, you should consider making it into an additional bedroom. Anytime you can add to the number of bedrooms in a home, you up its value instantly. Homebuyers love the fact that an attic can be used as a bedroom, so go for it if you have the space.
5. REPLACE THE ENTRYWAY DOOR
Like the landscaping suggestion above, the entryway door is likely one of the first things homebuyers will see when they visit your home. Replacing the entryway door is the least expensive way to increase your ROI and it gives you another way to put your best foot forward to make a great first impression.
Many people think they need to go all-out when making home improvements to increase their home’s value for sale. While some home improvements do just that, all home improvements are not created equal. If you’re looking to increase the return on your investment when selling your home without breaking the bank, try the suggestions listed above.
HOW TO FIND A GREAT DEAL ON YOUR NEXT INVESTMENT PROPERTY
More and more people are taking control of their financial futures and investing in real estate. While this is great news, there’s a problem. The more people want to buy property, the harder it is to find good deals. Supply and demand – you know how it goes.
Gone are the days of hiring a real estate agent and finding deals on the MLS. Today’s real estate investors are changing it up a bit to find great deals on properties. Instead of following the norm, they are willing to do what no one else is doing. Are you ready to do something different to find great deals? If so, here are four ways to find a good deal on an investment property.
1. THE DRIVE-BY
If you’ve ever driven by a house for sale and thought, “Man, that house needs some work,” then you’re already doing the “Drive-By.” The “Drive-By” is simply the act of getting in your car and driving around looking for properties for sale. The key to this method is to seek out properties that look like they need work or are otherwise unkempt in some way.
Look for unmowed lawns that show an owner may not care as much about the property as he should, as well as piles of newspapers or wet mail that may indicate no one lives on the property.
You can then contact the owner and offer to purchase the property, negotiating a deal that suits your budget.
2. EVICTION RECORDS
Ask any landlord and they’ll tell you that evictions are not fun. In fact, many landlords question being landlords when going through one. It’s during this time you may find some great deals on a property owned by a landlord who’s more than ready to get out of the game.
Evictions are public record, so all you have to do is head to your local county administration office and have a look at the current evictions taking place. From there, you can make your phone calls or send your postcards as mentioned in #1 and #2.
How nice would it be to sit at home while someone else hunts down the great deals? That’s exactly how it could be if you had a wholesaler. All you have to do is find a reputable wholesaler and get on his or her buyer’s list. From there, you just sit back and watch your inbox for all the great deals.
4. THE MLS
While we mentioned earlier in this post that the MLS is old news, the truth is, it’s not dead. You can still find some good deals on there from time to time, but because the market is so inundated with buyers, it’s more difficult. The key to this method is to browse the directory religiously and jump on any listing that seems like a good deal before someone else can.
Great real estate deals are out there for the taking, you just have to be savvy enough to know how to find them. When looking for your own great deals, be sure to check all the sources mentioned above.
We all know our world is full of germs, but it’s likely you don’t really know what’s hanging out on your electronic devices. In fact, you probably don’t want to know.
These devices carry and spread germs like nobody’s business, so it’s time to get scrubbing. Below, we give you safe and effective ways to clean the various gadgets you use in and around your home every day.
TABLETS AND SMARTPHONES
Like everyone else, you’ve probably taken your tablet or phone into the bathroom with you. No need to be embarrassed. You need something to do while in there, right?
Unfortunately, it’s these trips to the bathroom that leave your gadgets filthy – like get-you-sick filthy. To deep-clean your phone or tablet, remove its case. You have to be careful of its fingerprint-resistant coating, so dampen a microfiber cloth with distilled water and wipe it down. Use cotton swabs to clean around edges and buttons.
There’s no telling what kind of gunk and bacterium lives within the keyboard of your laptop since it travels everywhere you do. To begin cleaning this piece of equipment, open it up, turn it upside down, and give it a good shake to remove crumbs and dirt.
Next, turn the device off and remove its battery. Using a microfiber cloth dampened with alcohol, wipe down its metal and plastic surfaces. If your laptop has an LCD screen, make sure to use a cleaner designed for the purpose. If it’s a touchscreen, use distilled water to wipe it clean.
FLAT SCREEN TV
Flat-screen TVs usually have anti-glare coatings that are sensitive to most household cleaning solutions. To safely clean your TV, dampen a microfiber cloth with distilled water and wipe it down. Avoid using any other type of cleaner as it will likely damage the screen permanently.
GAME CONSOLES AND CONTROLLERS
You wouldn’t believe the level of nastiness your game controllers can achieve. Since you handle them so much, they collect germs and bacteria like a magnet.
To clean the console and controllers, dust everything off first with a dry cloth. Next, dampen a cloth with alcohol and wipe all surfaces thoroughly. Dip a cotton swab in alcohol as well and go around any crevices and buttons to remove any buildup there. Since you use these gadgets so often, it’s a good idea to keep some anti-bacterial wipes handy to wipe them down often.
EARPHONES AND HEADPHONES
These gadgets are so close to you that it’s important to keep them clean. For over-the-ear headphones, wipe them down with a slightly damp microfiber cloth. For earphones, remove any plastic tips and then use a dab of soap on a damp microfiber cloth to remove any built-up earwax. Lastly, gently wipe any cords with a cloth dampened with alcohol.
In today’s technologically advanced world, we take our gadgets for granted. Unfortunately, these handy pieces carry a plethora of nasty germs and grime that can make us sick. To keep the bacteria to a minimum and stay healthy, use the tips outlined above to clean the various gadgets around your house.