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Mid-Tenn Homes

-- January 10 - January 23, 2018


Men and women who have tried to sell a home

are likely familiar with the phrase “curb appeal.”


urb appeal is similar to getting ready for a

big date, only you’re not dressing yourself

up to make a strong first impression. Instead,

improving curb appeal involves dressing your

home up in the hopes it makes a strong first

impression on prospective buyers, many of

whom will have a strong opinion about the

property before they even get out of their cars

to have a look around.

A home with strong curb appeal can entice

buyers who are likely to believe that a home

with a well-maintained exterior is likely to

have an equally impressive interior. Home-

owners who want the process of selling their

home to go smoothly can improve the prop-

erty’s curb appeal in a number of ways, many

of which don’t necessitate a substantial home

improvement budget.

· Clean up. The most effective way to im-

prove curb appeal is to clean up the prop-

erty. Many homeowners are savvy enough to

remove toys and other items from the yard

before showing a home, but cleaning up goes

beyond removing clutter from the property.

Make sure all hedges are trimmed and re-

move weeds, sticks and other debris from

any flower beds. Lay mulch in the flower beds

and garden, as mulch prevents weed growth

while helping the soil retain moisture, re-

sulting in more attractive gardens to catch a

buyer’s eye.

· Get an “edge” on other sellers. Edging is

another easy and effective way to improve

curb appeal. Edge driveways, sidewalks and

other walkways around the property, remov-

ing or trimming anything that is hanging

over the driveway or walkways. If the bound-

ary between your driveway and lawn is not

distinct, consider installing edging materials

such as stone or bricks. The edging can be

level with the driveway or elevated, but keep

in mind that elevated driveway edging can

protect the lawn, preventing kids from rid-

ing their bicycles onto the lawn or cars from

driving onto it. Adding edging is not a very

difficult do-it-yourself project.

· Take to the trees. Many homeowners grow

accustomed to overgrown trees around their

property and may not notice that low-hang-

ing, unsightly branches are hiding the home

from view. Buyers want to see the house, so

take to the trees and trim any branches that

hang too low or obscure your home.

· Clean the gutters. Leaves and sticks hang-

ing from the gutters are a red flag to buyers,

who tend to associate clogged gutters with

roof damage. Clean the gutters thoroughly

before putting your home up for sale and

keep them clean throughout the selling pro-

cess. If your property includes lots of trees,

install guards to keep twigs and leaves out of

the gutters.

· Make the home accessible through the

front door. Many homeowners enter their

home through a side door or through their

garage. If you fall into this category, keep in

mind that prospective buyers will be entering

through the front door, so make this area ac-

cessible. Clear any clutter, such as overgrown

hedges, away from the front door, and con-

sider upgrading the door handle to a more

modern feature. In addition, make sure the

lock on the front door doesn’t stick, forcing

the realtor and buyers to immediately strug-

gle before entering the home. You want buy-

ers and their real estate agents to get in and

out of the home as smoothly as possible.

· Make sure all plants, including flowers,

are living. Dehydrated or dead plants and

flowers are eyesores, and they will give buyers

the impression that you didn’t pay much at-

tention to your property. Make sure all plants

are alive and thriving and replace those that

aren’t. You can replant new flowers or plants

or just use potted plants instead. When pur-

chasing new plants, choose low-maintenance

varieties that appeal to buyers who want good

vibrant plants but might not want to put in

much work into the garden.

When selling a home, homeowners can

employ a number of tactics to improve their

home’s curb appeal.

Things to consider before investing in a rental property


eal estate has long been considered one

of the best investments a person can

make. Even though buyer confidence

might have waned somewhat in light of the

recent economic swoon and its impact on the

housing market, many investors still view real

estate as a solid investment.

Among the ways people invest in real es-

tate is to purchase a rental property. Rental

properties can provide income for landlords

long after the mortgage has been paid off, and

the potential for such income into retirement

is a motivating factor for men and women

who want to invest in real estate. But invest-

ing in a rental property is not for everyone,

and there are a host of factors potential in-

vestors should consider before deciding to be-

come a landlord.

· Approval: Getting approved for a home

loan for a home you plan to live in is differ-

ent than getting approved for one when you

don’t intend to live on the property. Lenders

don’t necessarily frown on non-owner occu-

pied homes, but they do make it harder to se-

cure loans for investment properties. Interest

rates tend to be higher, and many lenders ask

for higher down payments than the standard

20 percent for more typical home loans. How-

ever, buyers who want multi-family units and

intend on living in one of the units should be

able to qualify for a more traditional owner-

occupied loan, which will likely mean a lower

interest rate and a more typical down pay-


· Taxes: Homeowners gain certain tax ex-

emptions, but those exemptions do not al-

ways apply to investment properties, which

could make the cost of an investment prop-

erty even more than investors anticipate. The

tax burden of an investment property may

prove considerable, and some investors might

not be able to manage such a heavy burden. In

addition, mortgage relief programs, such as

those that arose during the recent recession,

typically exclude non-owner occupied prop-

erties, so investors might find themselves in

financial hot water should another recession

occur in the future and the investment prop-

erty lose value as a result.

· Tenants: Though some real estate rental

markets, such as those in densely populated

cities, are extremely competitive and ad-

vantageous to landlords, the rental market

in general can be hard to predict. A signifi-

cant number of renters are college students

and young professionals, and one byprod-

uct of the ongoing economic woes has been

the decision by many young people to save

money by living at home while in college or

returning home once they have earned their

degree and entered the job market. Another

byproduct is a poor job market that has lit-

tle to offer to young and inexperienced pro-

fessionals, who can’t find work and subse-

quently cannot rent their own apartments.

When considering investing in a rental

property, think about your prospective ten-

ants. Are there enough of them to allow you

to create a competitive market wherein you

can charge a rent that will put a significant

dent in the mortgage? Are there enough po-

tential tenants to allow you to be choosy and

establish minimum income requirements,

or will you likely be forced to accept any

and all comers just to pay your mortgage? If

the potential tenant market does not inspire

much confidence, then that should be a red

flag to prospective real estate investors.

· Help: Few people who invest in a rental

property can handle the job on their own.

Making repairs or finding tenants often re-

quires the help of a professional, and those

people are likely to cost money. Men and

women who aren’t especially handy won’t

want to pay a plumber to fix a tenant’s sink

or a repairman to replace a cracked floor

tile when such issues inevitably arise, so

you may have to offer a discounted rent to

tenants who can pull double duty as a su-

perintendent to all of the units within the

investment property. Especially large units,

such as apartment complexes, may require

a full-time superintendent, whose salary

must be paid by the owner of the building.

Another helper a prospective landlord

may need is a property management agency

that helps landlords find tenants when there

are vacancies. Vacant rental properties can

negatively affect a landlord’s finances, as

landlords rely on rental income to pay their

mortgages. As a result, many landlords en-

list the services of a property management

agency to ensure their properties are well

marketed when there is a vacancy. These

agencies typically list and show the proper-

ty, and some will even oversee repairs. But

like a live-in manager or a full-time super-

intendent, property management agencies

are an expense and one that prospective in-

vestors must learn about and calculate into

their budgets before buying an investment


Investing in a rental property can be a

sound business venture that pays substan-

tial dividends down the road. But such an

investment isn’t for everyone, and prospec-

tive investors should make their decision as

informed as possible before buying a rental


Investors must consider a host of factors

before deciding to invest in a rental prop-


Give your home an energy makeover


enovations that take inventory of

energy use and strive toward efficiency

have grown increasingly popular over

the years. Homeowners fed up with high

utility bills want to conserve costs, and there

are a number of ways to revamp a home to be

more energy efficient.

The first step in a home energy makeover

is to find out where your home is losing

money. Certain municipal and environmental

agencies offer home assessments, during

which they will do a complete walk-through

of your home and highlight areas that can be

improved. Private companies also perform

energy audits on a home. They may be able to

point out appliances, windows or landscaping

issues that could be compromising the

efficiency of a home. These people may have

a more intimate knowledge of insulation

ratings and window efficiency ratings than

the average homeowner.

In addition to having an energy audit on

your home to save money on utility bills, a

professional audit may make you eligible for

tax incentives and rebates. That can mean

even more savings and may even increase the

value of your home.

Until a thorough energy assessment can

be made, there are some easy and relatively

inexpensive fixes any homeowner can

undertake to help improve energy efficiency.

* Clean air filters. Trapped dust and debris

in a filter makes furnaces and air conditioners

work harder. Once filters are free from dust,

air can blow more smoothly through the


* Plug leaks. Air leaks could be sucking

energy out of your home and money out of

your wallet. Once you find any leaks, you can

use weather stripping and caulking to seal up

breaches and save energy and money.

* Invest in insulation. Install high-

efficiency insulation in attics and between

walls to prevent energy loss and keep more

warm or cool air in the home. A well-insulated

house requires less heating and cooling to

keep the temperature indoors stable, and that

translates to less money spent on utilities.

* Swap out light bulbs. Switching bulbs

from incandescent to more efficient LED or

CFL bulbs can save money in the long run.

By making a few simple changes,

homeowner can increase their energy savings

around the house. Investing in an energy

audit and makeover can pinpoint key areas

that need improvement.