4 tips to transform that spare room into a home gym

There are gym rats and then there are those of us who feel intimidated by them. Can you blame us? As we sweat and toil, we’re surrounded by effortless iron pumping, bench pressing and simulated bike riding, stair climbing and running.

It’s enough to make you wish you could work out at home. And, you can. Creating a home gym doesn’t have to bust the budget or take up an entire wing of your home.

You can remain committed to your fitness goals right in your own home.

1. Choose the room

Even if you have a room that is currently not being used for much more than storage, think carefully about whether it will work as a gym. The main thing to think about is ceiling height. You’ll need at least 8 feet, according to Scott McGillivray at YouTube.com.

If the ceilings are substantially lower, consider swapping (steal the kids’ room!). If you don’t have an extra room, you can still create a gym by partitioning off a larger space, such as the living room.

No, you won’t need to build a wall. Hang curtains to use as a divider. We found these very cool and extra-long tension rods online at RoomDividersNow.com. Or, check out Home Depot’s assortment of screens.

Once you have the required space set aside, clear the entire area. Will you add a mirror or two? Now is the time to do so.

2. Consider the floors

If the room is carpeted or covered with a textured vinyl floorcovering, you’re good to go. Hardwood, laminate, tile or other hard surfaces may be a bit more challenging.

Remember that you’ll be using heavy equipment and accessories. When dropped, they may damage the floor. Ceramic tile is especially prone to fractures and breakage. Consider as well that some of these materials may become slippery when wet.

No carpet? Consider rubber matting. Home Depot carries interlocking gym floor matting and you’ll also find solutions online at Amazon.com and AmericanFloormats.com. The beauty of these tiles is that you can lay them right over existing hard flooring materials.

3. Determine the layout before spending money on equipment

The square footage of the room will be the main factor when determining the equipment you’ll eventually choose.

Window shop for the equipment online, jotting down the height, length and depth of each piece. Then, draw out a placement plan. Keep in mind that you’ll need to allow extra room for some pieces, such as a bench press.

Hold one arm out to your side, as if you were holding a weight. Measure the distance from fingertip to shoulder, double that and add the result to the width measurement for the bench press you have your eye on.

The same holds true for extra-long dumbbells. If you use them, measure their length and add it to the width of the bench press.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on high-end equipment. If your fitness routines are simpler, all you’ll need is room for some yoga props, a medicine ball, foam roller, Pilates equipment or whatever suits your simple workout style.

No room for a step machine? Check out these space-saving and affordable stackable aerobic steppers at Amazon.com, DicksSportingGoods.com and Walmart.com. We also like the Dual Action Swivel Stepper at SunnyHealthFitness.com.

4. Where to shop for equipment

Gym equipment can be pricey, but not if you shop carefully. Did you know that Amazon.com has an entire fitness “store” online? Indeed, they do and you can find inexpensive workout accessories and even machines.

If your budget is a bit tight, consider buying used equipment. Check out the inventories at:

  • Play It Again Sports (you can also shop online)
  • Garage sales and yard sales
  • Second-hand and consignment stores

Prefer to shop online?

Ok, you’re all set to get buff in the privacy of your own home gym.

 

 

3 Things every baby boomer should consider before buying or selling a home

We’re sure you’ve read about it: baby boomers aren’t moving and they’re wrecking the real estate market. They’ve decided to age in place, just when so many buyers want to buy a home.

To read real estate news about the baby boomer generation one would think the entire generation is passively aggressively thumbing their nose at both home buyers and real estate agents.

However, that reporting may not be entirely accurate. After all, who was it that kept the housing market afloat during the recovery from the Great Recession?

And, while it’s true that Millennials have a large presence in the housing market (39 percent of homebuyers), the two older generations (anyone 55 and older) make up 37 percent of home-buying pool.

If you haven’t bought or sold a home since the kids were in diapers, you’ll need to brush up on the basics if you plan to sell or buy. And we would love to help you.

1. Carefully reconsider ageing in place

“Ageing in place.” It’s one of those buzz phrases the media came up with to describe older Americans who “stubbornly” refuse to move and plan to live out their lives in their current homes.

And, many of them do. But many haven’t thought through that process. As the knees start creaking, the arthritis sets in and we become winded carrying groceries up a flight of stairs, reality sets in.

It turns out, that many boomers are realize that ageing in place doesn’t necessarily mean ageing in this place. According to a recent study by Home Instead Senior Care, one in four boomers are planning on selling their current home and buying a smaller, more age-appropriate one.

You know: one story, less square footage and low-maintenance, inside and out.

2. What will you do with your current home?

Your choices here are limited. You can sell the home (which many older, downsizing Americans plan to do) and use the equity you’ve built up for the new home. Or, you can rent it out and, if the home is paid off, enjoy the monthly income from your tenants.

Renting it out does come with drawbacks, however. Being a landlord, even if you do hire a management company, comes with many downsides. We always recommend that our boomer clients speak with their financial planners before making the decision.

3. Hiring the right real estate agent

Yes, this section does seem a bit self-serving. But, hiring the right real estate agent to help you out with selling and buying or selling and renting is critical.

I have many past clients who told me they were sick and tired of real estate agents speaking down to them, as if they are children. Condescending, full of outdated stereotypes and pushy is how many of my clients describe these agents.

We hope to be among the agents you interview to partner with you during this life transition. And, please, interview several. Don’t lower your expectations because you are in the driver’s seat.

We hope that you won’t entertain the thought of working with an agent who treats you as if you’re a doddering “senior citizen” and one that feels he or she knows best what is right for you.

Only you (and your financial planner) can and should make that decision.

High expectations for those you hire to assist you are good. Ensure that each agent you interview understands your expectations and listens, hears you and lets you know how he or she will help.

Please reach out to us – we’re happy to help.

Asbestos: Does your home have it?

Does your home have asbestos?

The word “asbestos” strikes terror into the ears of homeowners. It sounds like a big problem, and it often is.

But, how do you know if it’s an issue in your home? What should you do about it? And can it affect the sale of your property?

What Is Asbestos?

Although you may think asbestos was cooked up in a laboratory, it wasn’t. It’s a naturally occurring mineral that’s still quarried in some countries.

When it was found to have insulator and fire-retardant properties around the 1940s, asbestos was put into large-scale use. It’s often found as insulation in ceilings, floors, walls and around pipes.

Sadly, it was only later that researchers discovered it also posed a serious health risk, including severe types of respiratory cancer. In the 1980s, there was a movement to remove asbestos from public buildings such as schools and hospitals to make it safer for communities.

Private property owners were mostly left to handle the situation on their own.

How Do You Know If You Have Asbestos in Your Home?

If your house was built between the 1940s and the 1970s, it’s entirely possible that you have some form of asbestos insulation lurking somewhere.

But, don’t panic yet.

Asbestos only creates a problem for homeowners if it’s disturbed. Left intact, the micro-particles don’t enter the air and, therefore, won’t get into your lungs.

The trouble comes when you plan to build an extension or do heavy renovations.

So how do you know whether you have it and whether you should be concerned?

The only way to safely determine whether asbestos is present in a structure is to have it professionally tested… and then professionally removed while the home is unoccupied.

If you are buying or selling a home that was built before 1980, it’s likely that there is some level of asbestos unless you have a certificate regarding its removal.

But checking for this mineral is usually not part of the home inspection process unless specifically requested. And, the onus is on the buyer to check for asbestos, especially if renovations are in the cards after purchase. Naturally, the buyer will need permission from the seller to perform these tests.

All in all, it can become complicated if you are contemplating structural changes to the home, but it’s not a deal breaker in most cases.

Learn more about asbestos in the home and how to protect yourself and your family at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Are you ready to stop renting and become a homeowner?

It’s a fact that homeowners are wealthier than those who rent homes. In fact, the average net worth of U.S. homeowners is $231,400.

Renters? $5,200. Crunch the numbers and you’ll learn that the net worth of homeowners is 44.5 percent higher than that of renters.

Sadly, the net worth of those who rent has actually decreased from $5,500 in 2013, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

If you’d like to get on the homeowner wealth train, but are not sure if you’re ready, ask yourself the following questions.

 

How secure is your employment picture?

Love your job? More important, does your job love you? Job security – knowing you’re in it for the long haul – is a good sign that you can take on a monthly mortgage payment and be responsible for maintaining a home.

It’s also one of the things a lender will look at when considering how risky it might be to lend you the money for a home.

While it’s not impossible to get a mortgage when you’re new to a job, lenders like to see a two-year minimum tenure. If the new job is in the same field as your old one, it shows commitment to a field of work, which is attractive to lenders.

 Do you have any money saved?

Don’t believe the myth that you need 20 percent of the purchase price of a home for a down payment. While this may have been true in the past, it isn’t any longer.

Depending on your circumstances, you can obtain a mortgage for nothing down or a down payment as low as 3 percent. Then, there are the many down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

You will, however, need a bit of cash when you purchase a home for the earnest money deposit, down payment, closing costs and moving expenses.

If you don’t have any savings, you may not be ready to buy a home. If you do have some money set aside, speak with a mortgage broker to find out if you qualify.

How’s your credit?

If you’re unsure, order your free annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only site authorized by the federal government that offers free credit reports.

A strong credit score (as compiled by Fair Isaac Company, or FICO for short) is higher than 700. Borrowers with strong scores get lower interest rates so raising your score is a worthy endeavor.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a mortgage with a lower score, because you most certainly can. In fact, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) wants to see a score of 580 or higher but even those with lower scores may otherwise qualify.

It isn’t as difficult or time consuming as you may think to raise your credit score. Learn “How Student Loan Borrowers Improve their FICO Scores” at FICO.com. And, learn some general information on how to raise your credit score at NerdWallet.com.

Do you need more room?

If you’re currently in an apartment, the chances are good that you’d like or maybe even need more space. Apartments by their very nature are typically small and very cramped. Worse, they lack sufficient storage space.

Especially if you’re starting a family or hope to soon, dreams of a house may be swimming in your head. If so, you may be ready to become a homeowner.

 Are you tired of paying your landlord’s mortgage payment?

Paying rent every month and watching that money go into someone else’s bank account gets old after a time. As mentioned earlier, one way to accumulate wealth is through putting that monthly payment in your own pocket by building equity through home ownership.

Depending on the current market, you may be able to purchase a home with a monthly payment that is less than or only slightly more than your current monthly rent payment. A mortgage professional can crunch the numbers for you to find out.

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

 

Time to get your home ready for fall and winter

September 23 is the first day of fall for 2019, which doesn’t give us a whole lot of time to get our homes ready. But, if you do just one or two fall home maintenance tasks each weekend, you’ll have it done before you know it.

It’s home fire season

Almost 40 percent of deaths in home fires occur in homes without smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Having smoke alarms with dead batteries is just as bad, by the way, as not having them at all.

Make your first fall home maintenance task one that saves lives: Do a check of all the smoke alarms in your home.

Can’t remember when you last changed the batteries? Change of all them now.

Fire experts say that we need one smoke alarm outside of each bedroom and on all levels of the home. The exception to this rule comes into play if you sleep with your bedroom door closed. If so, experts suggest you install a smoke alarm inside the room as well.

If you don’t have enough alarms, or if any of them are 10 years of age or older, make it a point to buy and install more.

Did you know that there are two types of smoke alarms? The ionization alarm detects flaming fires while smoldering fires are picked up by a photoelectric alarm. The NFPA suggests you use both types within the home.

Keep the warm air in and the cold air out

Even newer homes can have leaky doors and windows. Trying to regulate the air in a home when the heat is escaping and the cold air is invading is tough on your HVAC system. It’s expensive as well.

If it’s been some time since you’ve checked the weather stripping around the doors and windows in your home, do so now, before the weather turns nippy.

The pros say that if you can rattle your windows, it’s time to head to the hardware store for weather stripping.

Then, stand back and look at the doors to the exterior of the home. If there’s daylight penetrating around the frames, you’ll want to weather strip the doors as well.

Need weather-stripping tips? Learn how to choose it at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website and how to install it at TodaysHomeowner.com.

Need some incentive? The Department of Energy calculates a 10 to 15 percent savings on your winter energy bill from just this one fall home maintenance task.

Tune up that workhorse

One of the most expensive-to-replace systems in the home is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). The average lifespan of a system is between 15 and 20 years, if it is properly maintained.

Then there are all those smaller components that make up the system, each with its own lifespan. The HVAC system is the most used system in the home, making it the home’s workhorse. And, fall is the perfect time to have it tuned up so that it serves you well through the winter.

You’ll need to call in a pro for an inspection, but it’s well worth the money.

Oil heating systems often leak and the cost of cleaning up such a leak can run between $20,000 and $50,000.

Forced air HVAC systems require annual inspections as well and don’t forget to stop by the hardware or home improvement store for a supply of filters (they should be replaced monthly).

Inspect the home’s exterior

You want to keep all that wet, winter weather outside, right? Step outside and do a quick inspection of the home’s exterior to ensure it will shelter you from it.

  • Clean out clogged gutters and run water through them to ensure they don’t leak.
  • Are the downspouts taking water away from the home? Redirect them if they aren’t.
  • Check the siding for signs of wear. Add new caulking if necessary.
  • Wrap the home’s exterior water pipes and blow out the irrigation system.
  • Check the trees for cracked branches and trim them off.

Sure, there is a lot more fall home maintenance that you can do, but the basics will help you stay safe, warm, dry and save money.

How to sell your home fast: 3 tips

For whatever reason, many homeowners need to sell their homes as quickly as possible. If that describes you and you don’t want to hand over a huge chunk of your equity to an iBuyer or investor, read on.

1. Pre-sale home inspection

When we looked at the common obstacles along the way to closing a home sale, several steps loomed large. But, none larger than the home inspection.

Soon after you accept an offer to purchase your home, the buyer will send a home inspector to your house to inspect its condition. Soon thereafter, he or she will issue an inspection report to the buyer and I’ve yet to see one that didn’t have at least a few, even minor, problems.

Some problems, such as those that can impact health and safety, will need to be repaired. Even if the buyer doesn’t request it, the lender may, especially if the buyer is using an FHA-backed loan to purchase the home.

Depending on the scope of the work, this can significantly slow down the sale of the home.

Fixing items before putting the home on the market is a smart move if you need to sell quickly. It also shows potential buyers that you’re dealing in good faith.

Your buyer will likely order his or her own inspection so keep in mind that all issues in your report will need to be disclosed to potential buyers.

Ridding the sale process of the biggest stumbling block is the best way to ensure your home sells quickly.

2. Ensure you have clear title

Shortly after you’ve accepted the offer to purchase, the buyer will obtain title insurance. First, however, the title company will want to find out if you truly are the rightful owner to the home, that nobody else has a claim to it and that there are no liens against the property.

A problem discovered in a title search is known as a “cloud” on the home’s title. Home sellers are often surprised to learn that there’s a cloud, but it’s a common occurrence.

The most common cloud is a lien against the property and many homeowners aren’t even aware of it. Either it was placed so long ago that the homeowner forgot or it may be so new that he or she isn’t yet aware of it.

Be proactive if you suspect that there may be a cloud on the home’s title. A trip to the county recorder’s office (where you can search public records by address) is often all it takes. Otherwise, you can order an official title search from a title company. While the fee varies, it typically starts at around $200.

If a lien shows up on the title report, you’ll be responsible for clearing it. You can dispute it, but this is a court procedure that takes time. Paying the amount owed is the quickest way to clean up the property’s title.

But liens aren’t the only problem that may show up on a title report. Some of the more common title defects include:

  • Clerical errors
  • Disputes over property boundaries
  • Encroachments and easements
  • Marital status falsely reported
  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Improperly probated wills
  • Unknown heirs
  • Unreleased deeds of trust

Some of these are quick fixes. Others, such as clerical errors take substantially longer.

In fact, “depending on the nature and extent of the error, it can take anywhere from days to months to correct these types of issues,” according to the experts at LinearTitleandEscrow.com.

Avoid this source of major slowdowns in the sale process by checking your title before putting the home on the market.

3. Don’t play games with your home’s price

“More than half of all closing problems are related to mortgages,” according to Peter Miller at MyMortgageInsider.com.

Slightly more than 20 percent of these problems are caused by appraisal issues.

Unless the buyer is paying in cash, he or she will be using a lender for financing. The lender will send a property appraiser to the home to determine the value.

Much of the time, the appraiser’s evaluation meets the price agreed upon. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t and negotiations reopen.

There are several ways to work around an appraisal problem but most of them take time.

Avoid appraisal problems by understanding how market value for a home is determined, hire a listing agent experienced in determining fair market value and avoid the temptation to overprice the home.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have on how to sell your home quickly and still get top dollar.

3 Easy improvements that help sell homes

As the real estate market changes, home sellers may need to take some extra steps to get their homes sold quickly and for top dollar. The right improvement projects may be one of the steps you’ll need to consider.

If so, it’s important that you don’t select projects based on your tastes or on suggestions from others (unless it’s your real estate agent).

Always focus on items that need repair first. Then, when it comes to improving the home, consider only those projects that will add value or cosmetically appeal to home buyers.

We’re happy to share our knowledge of what’s popular with homebuyers, so feel free to ask.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at three home improvement projects that are often DIY jobs and will help your home sell quickly.

1. You had me at the curb

That first impression is critical when it comes to getting people out of their cars, up the walkway and through the front door of your home. So, let’s get the curb appeal taken care of first.

Start with cleaning and de-cluttering – the same way you will start on the interior. Rake the beds, remove debris, toys and anything else that isn’t part of the landscaping.

Get the lawn in shape, prune trees and shrubs, yank and replace dying ones. A layer of fresh mulch in the planting beds adds the perfect final touch.

How is the rest of the front of the house looking? Clean the gutters, paint the trim, railings and door if they need it. By the way, a Zillow study finds that a black front door increases sale price by 2.9 percent.

Finally, add a pop or two of color with potted plants on the front porch, near the door.

2. Paint is the wonder drug

New paint on the home’s interior walls can transform the appeal. Fresh paint makes the home appear well-cared for and in move-in condition.

To be safe, you may want to choose neutral colors, such as white, off-white or gray. But, you don’t have to, and the Zillow Paint Color Analysis proves that.

Avoid brick or barn red in the kitchen, as homes with this color scheme in the kitchen sold for more than $2300 less than list price. Brown dining room? Paint it another color, or get nearly $1700 less than you hope for the home.

Learn about the money-making paint colors at Forbes.com and ApartmentTherapy.com.

3. Concentrate on the kitchens and bathrooms when upgrading

We aren’t recommending major renovations here. But, if either or both of these rooms require basic updates, performing them is critical.

Paint is the first step. Then, check the sinks and faucets. Replacing them isn’t expensive and will give the rooms a contemporary look. Here are a few other little jobs that can update the look of the kitchen and bathroom:

  • Refinish the cabinets
  • Add new knobs and pulls on the cabinets and drawers
  • If you have the budget, consider replacing countertops, if they need it
  • Re-caulk the tub and toilet
  • Ensure that the lighting isn’t outdated
  • Purchase new linens, such as shower curtain, coordinating towels and rug
  • Choose a few stunning accessory pieces
  • Avoid cluttering the countertops

Most of these upgrades are DIY jobs. The savings offered by doing it yourself helps increase your return on investment when the home sells.

 

5 garden bloggers you should get to know

One of the best parts of the internet is how easy it is to find advice on just about anything. It’s also one of the worst parts of the internet.

It seems as if everyone considers themselves an expert, handing out sometimes faulty advice and, when it comes to gardening. “old wives’ tales” that often do more harm than good.

Just as you wouldn’t rely on your hair stylists for medical advice or your next-door neighbor for expert real estate advice, so should you not rely on amateurs for gardening advice.

Which is why we’ve scoured the internet to find true professionals who blog consistently about gardening. Here are five of our favorites.

Garden Myths

Canadian Robert Pavlis authors the posts at GardenMyths.com, busting gardening myths left and right.

Pavlis, with a “background in chemistry and biochemistry,” has gardened for more than 45 years and owns a 6-acre botanical spread, Aspen Grove Gardens.

When you read online that a mixture of Dawn dish liquid and water will cure just about anything that ails your plant, or eggshells kill slugs, do yourself a favor and check with Pavlis first. The chances are good that it’s a gardening myth.

One of our favorite posts: Anecdotal Evidence – Not Worth The Screen It’s Displayed On.

Pavlis also admins a Facebook group, Garden Fundamentals.

Gardenologist

Although not devoted to the topic, you’ll find myth busting at Gardenologist.org as well. We like the blog for the variety of information, from tips for new gardeners to how to deal with pests and diseases and basic “how to grow” type of posts.

You’ll also find a list of every Cooperative Extension office in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and a handy “Find Your Growing Zone” tool. Just enter your ZIP code and out it pops.

Gardenologist is hosted by “a group of over-educated dirt-farmers who love nothing more than puttering around outdoors — planting, pruning, fertilizing and even pulling weeds.”

What we like best about this blog: It contains affiliate links to products for sale on other sites, such as Amazon.com and Bootstrap Farmer. The group donates 15% of their commissions to helping extremely low-income women across the globe to set up small agriculture businesses via Kiva.org.

They even introduce you to some of the women that they’re helping.

You’ll find Gardenologist on Facebook and Pinterest.

A Way to Garden

If you’re seeking “horticultural how-to and woo-woo” and “the source of organic gardening inspiration,” do seek out Margaret Roach’s blog, A Way to Garden.

She has also written a book by the same name, which went on to be named the Garden Writers Association of America’s best book of 1998.

We like her composting advice. It’s scientific yet explained in a way that’s easy to understand as well as puts to rest some common myths about compost creation.

You’ll also find a brilliant seed-starting calendar, podcasts, webinars and more.

Visit A Way to Garden on Facebook and Pinterest.

Garden Rant

Garden Rant promises it is “uprooting the gardening world,” and we agree. Online since 2006, Garden Rant is considered a “team blog,” co-founded by Susan Harris, a certified Master Gardener, a gardening coach and a nationally-known garden writer.

Amy Stewart is the second of four Garden Rant co-founders and the author of seven books, including four New York Times bestsellers.

Michele Owens is the vegetable gardener in the bunch and is also a national garden writer. Additionally, although it has nothing to do with gardening (but we find it highly impressive), Michele was also a staff speechwriter for former Governor Mario Cuomo of New York.

Elizabeth Licata gardens in Buffalo, N.Y. That right there gives her major gardening cred, as far as we’re concerned. She’s also a nationally-published garden writer and does radio segments for the local NPR affiliate.

That’s a whole lot of experience for one garden blog and it shows in each and every amazing post. Check out the nav bar to get an idea of what you can learn at Garden Rant:

  • Shut Up and Dig
  • Science Says
  • Crrritic
  • Ministry of Controversy
  • Feed Me

Engage with Garden Rant on Facebook.

Dirt Simple

If you’re not afraid to take on big projects (such as buying a home simply for the backyard and the landscaping dreams that surround it), Deborah Silver’s Dirt Simple blog is right up your alley.

A landscape and garden designer by trade, Silver operates Detroit Garden Works, selling garden ornaments and specialty plants. But it’s her landscape design knowledge that inspires her blog readers.

Silver began the blog in 2009 and offers up advice and examples of garden and landscape design, gorgeous container plantings, seasonal advice and more.

Follow Silver on Facebook and check out her inspirational boards at Pinterest.

Should I buy first or sell first?

More than 71 percent of home sellers look at homes for sale while their current home is on the market, according to a 2017 Zillow report. Looking back, 24 percent of them said they wished they would have started the selling process earlier.

Most of these home sellers ran up against a common problem: Should I buy first or sell first?

Let’s take a look at just some of what you should consider and a couple of solutions.

Current market conditions

In a seller’s market (when there are lots of buyers looking for homes but few homes available) you’ll most likely not have to worry about the home selling. But, once it does, you’ll be joining the ranks of all the other buyers, competing against one another for the few homes on the market.

For this reason, many home sellers choose to rent for a time after selling, until the market changes in their favor.

Others can’t stand the thought of having to pack up and move yet again. Determine your tolerance for this scenario.

Finances

If you don’t have a large cash reserve, you’ll need the equity in your current home to purchase your new one. This means you’ll have to either sell your current home before buying or choose from among the other options we outline below.

The two-house payments conundrum

Another major concern we hear from our listing clients is that they’re afraid that if one side of the deal concludes before the other, they’ll be faced with having to make two house payments.

If your budget can tolerate this eventuality, then you’ve nothing to worry about. If not, read on.

Solutions to consider

Luckily, you have several remedies to choose from when faced with the “should I sell first or buy first” question.

Bridge Loan

A bridge loan is a short-term loan that provides instant cash flow. They’re typically only provided to borrowers with high credit scores and low debt-to-income ratios.

Learn more about bridge loans at Investopedia.com.

HELOC

The Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC for short, offers a way for you to get at all that equity you’ve built up in your current home. This is money you can use to buy the new home and then you will pay off the HELOC with the proceeds from the sale of the current home.

There are several disadvantages to using a HELOC to come up with the money for your next home. Speak with your lender and financial advisor about this option.

Borrow against your 401(k)

Ask financial experts if borrowing money from your 401(k) to come up with the cash for your new home is a good idea and you’ll get one of two answers: “Sure” or “No way!”

The latter camp includes pros who remind you about the fact that you’ll be losing the compounding benefits of your invested money. The former group will tell you to go for it because real estate is an amazing investment and, besides, you can pay yourself back.

Again, please speak with your financial planner before deciding on this option.

Negotiate with the buyer

It’s always worth it to attempt negotiating certain contract terms with the buyer of your current home.

Ask the buyer for a longer escrow, such as 90 days, to give you time to house hunt for the next home. You might also ask the buyer to consider renting your home back to you after the sale closes. Offer a healthy security deposit and agree to pay above-market rent to cover their mortgage payments, if necessary.

There are disadvantages to the rent-back scenario, so run this idea by your attorney.

Simultaneous close

Although it is often challenging, a simultaneous close is a common way of dealing with buying/selling. This type of transaction times the close of both transactions (the sale of your current home and the purchase of the next home) to occur simultaneously.

Yes, there are dangers in this option, especially in the hands of an inexperienced real estate agent.

Whether to buy or sell first is a common dilemma and both have their pluses and minuses. We’re happy to discuss this with you in more detail; feel free to contact us.

The bugs of summer and how to deal with them

Right about now, many of us are feeling as if summer is one big bug fest. If you’ve spent any time at all outdoors, you know what we’re talking about.

From grilling to hiking to even walking the dog, summer bugs are everywhere. Yes, they’re pesky, but even more important is that they put us at risk for bug-borne diseases.

Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are the biggest culprits. Known as “vectors,” these insects spread the pathogens that cause West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and other “vector-borne” diseases.

“Disease cases from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016,”

according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

So, how can we avoid these pests while enjoying summertime in the great outdoors? Read on.

Protect yourself

When hiking, it’s easy to be distracted by a view or wildlife and common to want to blaze your own trail to get a better look.

It’s not wise, however. Experts recommend that you remain in the middle of trails when hiking or jogging. Ticks are especially notorious for hiding in tall grass and other vegetation.

Don’t use perfume, cologne or lotions and soaps with fragrance before heading out to enjoy the outdoors (these scents may attract mosquitoes). Wear the appropriate, protective clothing This includes:

  • Shirt with long sleeves
  • Long pants
  • Socks (that can be tucked under the pants to protect the skin from ticks)
  • Boots

Consider spraying your outdoor wear with a permethrin-based insect repellent. The CDC does not recommend that you use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.

Before entering your home after a day outdoors, check all family members and pets for ticks. If you find one, remove it right away. Learn how to safely remove a tick and aftercare instructions at CDC.gov.

Right in your own backyard

Deer are the favorite host of the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), carrier of the dreaded Lyme disease.

“More than 14,000 cases [of Lyme disease] are reported annually,”

according to the experts at National Geographic. “Adult deer ticks, they continue, “are about the size of a sesame seed.”

If deer are common visitors to your neighborhood, discourage them from coming into your yard. You can do this by removing vegetation that is attractive to deer. Some of the plants that are popular among deer include:

  • Honey locust
  • Plum, apple, pear, persimmon and crabapple trees
  • White and red oak
  • Hickory and pecan trees
  • Eastern red cedar
  • Raspberries or blackberries

Plant fragrant plants (deer avoid anything highly fragrant) such as lavender, sage and salvia. “Daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies are common flowers that have a toxicity that deer avoid,” according to Catherine Boeckmann at Almanac.com.

Ticks may also take up residence in the lawn, so keep it debris-free by raking up dead leaves and mowing the lawn to keep it as short as possible.

If you’re still finding ticks and mosquitos in your yard after taking the previous steps, consider spraying it with a tick and mosquito control product.

Following these tips can help keep mosquitoes, ticks and other insects away for a bug-free summer.