Category Archives: Cost Saving Tips

9 Ways to Make Your Small Space Look Bigger

Moving into your first JP or Brookline apartment? Or buying your first Boston condo? As a city dweller, here are some helpful tips to make your cozy space look bigger.

  1. Space it out– A small space doesn’t mean you have to be cramped. Try angling your bed or float the sofa in the living room with a skinny console behind it. Breathing room around your furniture lends the appearance of more space.http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-interior-modern-apartment-image24354603
  2. Use multifunctional pieces– Investing in furniture that serves many functions is a simple way to streamline a room. Try a vintage steamer trunk or an ottoman with built-in storage to tuck away blankets and books for a clean look.
  3. Use mirrors– Mirrors are the quickest way to make a room appear larger. While you may not want wall-to-wall, lean an oversized full-length one against a key wall or hang multiple ones salon style to create a statement wall
  4. Fold it up– Dining tables that are small or that have drop leaves, which allow it to become smaller when not in use are ideal for small areas, meaning you can make the most of your eating-slash-living area.http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-amazing-modern-living-room-image11857429
  5. Go monochromatic– Paint your walls, trim, and detailing in different shades of one color, such as white, off-white, and beige to expand a room. You can also try pairing gallery white walls with a very pale gray on trim and detailing for an open-air French-inspired room.
  6. Get perspective– Skip the dark-inducing drapes and leave your windows uncovered. This will trick your eyes into thinking that your pad’s got depth — and reveal the natural landscape outside. If your room requires some privacy, try gauzy sheer white drapes for an airy feel that will keep prying eyes out.
  7. Think big– It’s easy to assume that you should decorate a small space with small furniture, right? But one prominent furniture piece such as a statement armchair will keep the space uncluttered and open.http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-living-room-interior-design-image24141192
  8. Pop your ceilings– While bright white opens up a room (on walls), going for a dark ceiling creates depth while fun fixtures draw your eye upward, creating the illusion of height.
  9. Color code– Give your favorite items a little structure by arranging by color and height. This will turn a potential clutter disaster into a streamlined display with personality.

Source: MSN Living

7 Financial Benefits Of Home Ownership This Tax Season

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1. Homeownership Builds Wealth Over Time
Homeownership can be a very savvy financial move – but only if people buy homes they can actually afford.

2. You Build Equity Every Month
Your equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on it. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and that reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity.

3. You Reap Mortgage Tax Deduction Benefits

  • Mortgage deduction: The tax code allows homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their tax obligations.
  • Some closing cost deductions: The first year you buy your home, you are able to claim the points (also called origination fees) on your loan, no matter whether they are paid by you or the seller.
  • Property tax is deductible: Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

4. Tax Deductions on Home Equity Lineshttp://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-mortgage-interest-deduction-image4836694
You can deduct the interest you pay on a home equity loan (or line of credit). This allows you to shift your credit card debts to your home equity loan, pay a lower interest rate than the exorbitant credit card interest rates, and get a deduction on the interest as well.

5. You Get a Capital Gains Exclusion
If you buy a home to live in as your primary residence for more than two years then you will qualify. When you sell, you can keep profits up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, and not owe any capital gains taxes.

6. A Mortgage Is Like a Forced Savings Plandreamstimefree_35120
Paying that mortgage every month and reducing the amount of your principal is like a forced savings plan. Each month you are building up more valuable equity in your home.

7. Long Term, Buying Is Cheaper than Renting
In the first few years, it may be cheaper to rent. But over time, as the interest portion of your mortgage payment decreases, the interest that you pay will eventually be lower than the rent you would have been paying. But more importantly, you are not throwing away all that money on rent. You gotta live someplace, so instead of paying off your landlord’s home or building, pay off your own!

Source: Forbes

DIY: Turn your Master Bedroom a True Retreat

Turn your Master Bedroom a True Retreat

With our DIY tips below you can turn your master bedroom in to a relaxing retreat tucked away inside your own home!

Bedding:

Watch your local stores for deals, sales and coupons. Purchase a nice bed in a bag set so that you get all of your sheets, comforter, shams and decorative pillows in one easy package. Choose a set in soft tranquil colors that easy on the eyes, making sleep come easy. When considering new bedding remember to think about things like the thread count, ply, and weave, these items affect the softness and breathability of the sheets. Cotton Sateen sheets are perfect for summer as they are extremely soft to the touch but have a light weave that allows more air circulation to keep you cool. While flannel sheets have a heavy weave to trap in body heat and keep you warm all winter long.

Lighting:

Overhead lighting can be harsh and bright so dress up your bedroom retreat with softer lighting to tone it down. Replace the light bulbs on your nightstand lamps with soft white bulbs 40 watts or under. Changing out your lamp shades to a more neutral color can soften the tone of the room as well. To further dress up the room, use stencils and fabric paint to create interesting designs on your lampshades. Sick of looking at your current lighting? Stop by your local Goodwill or thrift shop and find unique lamp bases you can spray paint and dress them up with new or fresh painted lamp shades!

Furniture:

Is your furniture looking dingy and dinged up? Use spackle to patch up large dents in the wood, once dry sand the entire piece and paint your desired color. You can further dress up your furniture by swapping out the hardware such as the drawer knobs and handles. Large home improvement stores will often have a clearance section for hardware pieces that only have limited quantities remaining. If you prefer natural wood furniture, sand and re-stain the wood to your desired color. Keep your furniture looking beautiful by polishing regularly with walnut oil for an all natural chemical free polish.

Walls:

Paint all but one wall a soft relaxing color and choose something a little brighter or a nice pattern to highlight your accent wall. Bold quatrefoil and chevron patterns look great on a single way and make the room look bigger. Soft blues, greens, purples and grays are said to bring down blood pressure and slow respiration and heart rate which is exactly what your bedroom retreat needs!

Visit our Pinterest page to find tutorials on the above DIY tricks!

Mortgage Update: Why do mortgage companies care about your large bank deposits?

Update by Jarred Alexandrov : Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

If you’re like most people applying for a mortgage, or getting pre-approved for a mortgage you will be asked by your mortgage company “to source your large bank deposits.

(A large deposit is generally considered any non payroll deposit over $1000. This includes simple transfers from checking/savings accounts.)

Why Do Mortgage Companies Care About Your Large Bank Deposits?

  1. Mortgage companies are required by law (USA Patriot Act) to source deposits in order to combat money laundering. If we do not source the deposit we could be held liable if money laundering is determined to have taken place.
  2. Mortgage companies want to determine that you have the funds available to pay for your mortgage. More specifically they need to know that you are not relying upon one-time sources of funds such as gifts, gambling winnings, etc to qualify.

If you have large deposits in your bank accounts, you will need to “source” those deposits by providing evidence of the check and/or origin of the funds.

Of course, you can also avoid having to provide evidence for sourcing large deposits by not depositing or transferring funds until your mortgage is finalized.**

**If you are receiving gift funds for a purchase of real estate, get those funds transferred or deposited at least 2 months before you apply for a mortgage so that the “large deposit” won’t be reflected in your most recent bank statements.**

When you are asked to “source a large deposit” now you know why!

Jarred Alexandrov
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. Marketing Director and Loan Coordinator
617-456-1700 ext.115
jarreda@fairwaymc.com

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Don’t forget to come in, call or visit us at PrudentialUnlimited.com for all your Real Estate needs in Boston, Brookline, Jamaica Plain and surrounding areas.

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Quick Tips: Moving into a new apartment.


Living in a new environment, whether as a first time home owner, veteran property professional, or college student in a new dorm… can be stressful. This weeks’ “Quick Tips” are all about your new home; getting things organized, cleaning what the previous tenants left behind, and general household upkeep with a twist. After the chaos that was Sept. 1st, 2012 (See our survival guide HERE)  we will to take a look at some steps you can take to make your new house a home.

Around the House

1.

Candle wax on your new floor? Use a brown paper bag and an iron to clean up the mess! Place a paper towel or brown paper bag over the dry wax spill and press with an iron on low heat. The wax will stick to the paper and lift right off your floor!

2.

Wooden furniture legs scratched during the move? Take a raw walnut, rub it over the scratches and watch as they disappear. The natural oils in the walnuts help to seal the scratches on your wooden furniture, making them look brand new.

3.

Polish chrome items with baby oil. Just a dab on a cotton cloth will make everything shine!

4.

Drains clogged? Mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar and
pour down a clogged drain and cover it with a warm wet cloth. Let the mixture settle in the pipes for about 5 minutes, uncover and run steaming hot water through the pipes.

5.

Greasy dinner make a mess on your clothes or furniture? Toss a little cornmeal on top of the grease stain and let it absorb your mess for about 10-15 minutes. Dust or vacuum over the cornmeal and, viola! No more grease stains!

6.

Water stains ruining your furniture? Turn that hair dryer on high and aim at the stain. Watch as the water ring disappears! Once the ring is gone, dab a little olive oil over the surface to keep the wood moisturized. A hot iron over a towel will work wonders on those water stains as well.

In the Kitchen

1.

Cleaning your food processor or grinder regularly can be a chore but it will keep residual flavors from mixing together and creating a not so tasty treat. For a quick fix, toss a piece of fresh white bread in and run your processor/grinder. This will lift any residual oils or smalls pieces of food out of the appliance.

2.

Hate the self cleaning function on your oven and heavy duty chemical cleaners? By making your own paste from baking soda and water you can clean your oven more naturally!

How to: Mix baking soda and water to a paste consistency and coat the oven surfaces evenly (but don’t cover the heating elements!). Let this sit overnight to break down the grease and grime that has accumulated in your oven. The next day (preferably while wearing gloves) take a plastic spatula, scrape it all up and wipe down with a damp paper towel. Once your ‘new’ oven is clean and ready to go, cover the bottom with an oven liner available at most home goods stores.

3.

Do your coffee cups have dark tea and coffee stains? White dishes stained and you haven’t been able to remove them? Fill your sink with warm water, drop a few denture cleaning tablets in the water and let your dishes soak until the stains are gone! Rinse and repeat as needed to remove the stains completely! For ceramic and enamel items with stains and dark scratches, try Bar Keeper’s Friend. Bar keepers friend is a great cleaning agent that will make your dishes look brand new!

4.

Microwave oven have stains or a weird odor? Fill a bowl or mug with water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and heat on high for 2-3 minutes. Leave the microwave door shut for an additional couple of minutes to allow the steam to penetrate caked on food. Wipe down the interior with a damp cloth to remove grime. Leave the door open for a few hours to dry and let additional odors escape

Coming Up!

Next week we will have an update from Al Norton, Rental Manager for Prudential Unlimited Realty as well as market updates to help prepare you for the winter months. Don’t forget to come in, call or visit us at PrudentialUnlimited.com for all your Real Estate needs in Boston, Brookline, Jamaica Plain and the surrounding areas.

           

Also, to learn more about our ongoing FIRST TIME HOME BUYER SEMINARS and other educational services we provide, please CLICK HERE

Why Getting a Loan Approved Will Get Harder October 20th

By Jarred Alexandrov of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

It’s what nobody wants to hear…but getting a loan (especially a condo loan) may get more difficult as of October 20th 2012 due to an update to Fannie Mae’s “Desktop Underwriter” (DU) system.

The more you know about the changes, the better you can adjust to them in advance. REALTORS® can correctly advise their clients based on the these changes. Lenders can accurately qualify potential borrowers.

What is DU?

DU is the online system through which lenders like Fairway Mortgage submit their mortgage applications to get instant feedback on whether a loan will qualify under Fannie Mae’s standards.

We run DU on every loan, so when there is an update to the DU system, it can affect every loan application.

The Changing Appraisal Requirement

“Exterior Only” appraisal inspections will no longer be offered…full interior/exterior appraisals only.

The Change to Condo Project Reviews

DU will require a full project review, as opposed to a Limited Review, on principle residences in condo projects when the LTV/CLTV is greater than 80%.

DU Will Require 2 Years of Tax Returns from the Borrower

Fairway currently requires 2 years of tax returns (as opposed to 1 year), so this will not be a change for Fairway clients.

Funds to Cover Unpaid Credit Card Balances

Findings will require that we document that the borrower has sufficient funds to cover the unpaid balance of all 30 day charge accounts.

There are sure to be a few other changes when the DU update is released on October 20th 2012 that will impact the qualifying process of our loan applications.

However, the agents and lenders who adjust to these changes in advance will be able to best serve borrowers looking to get a loan in the 4th quarter of 2012 and beyond.

Be Looking out for more updates on the current market and what to expect for the rest of 2012 and 2013. Prudential Unlimited Realty will also be featuring some great Do-It-Yourself Articles, Rental/Sales Market Updates and GIVE-AWAYS! Check back weekly!

Cost Saving Tips for the Property Manager in us all

‘A Penny Saved is Twopence dear’ — Poor Richard’s Proverbs

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An article by Thomas O’Connor

Generally interpreted as ‘A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned’, Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom is as true now as it was centuries ago.  Property owners are limited in their options for making more money.  One can only improve the property so much before there is a diminishing return and the market will dictate only so much rent.  Assuming one has done all they can on that front, what other options are there?
 
 
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Water Consumption: Here are some facts:

  • The average family of four can use up to 400 gallons of water…a day.
  • A bathroom faucet generally runs 2 gallons…per minute (GPM).
  • Shower Heads generally run from a high of more than 4 GPM on older models to a low of 2.5 GPM for the new federally mandated heads.
  • Low flow toilets (standard now since the 1990s) still use 1.6 Gallons per flush.
  • Top loading washers can use up to 54 Gallons…per load.

Although the Commonwealth does allow for water metering to the tenant, the requirements to be able to do this may be expensive, time consuming, and not always possible.  In the vast majority of cases, it is the property owner that pays and the only motivation for a tenant to conserve is personal choice.

The good news is that there are products on the market that can cut deeply into some of the above numbers and their cost is surprisingly reasonable.

Here’s where to start:

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Faucets are a good place to start.  This source makes up about 15% of our water consumption.  Most faucets are equipped with aerators.  This is the ‘thingy’ on the tip of the faucet that keeps water from coming out in one big stream.   The purpose is to prevent splashing and save water.  Swap out the aerator from the common 2.5 GPM to a 1 GPM or even 0.5 GPM version.  This is a savings of up to 80%.  The volume goes down, but the pressure remains the same for washing hands and rinsing toothbrushes.

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Shower Heads
are another place to save money.  Showers make up close to one fifth of household water use.  Swapping out an older 4-5 GPM head for a 2.5 GPM is a savings of close to 50%, but going further and using a 1-1.5 GPM head will see a savings of close to 75%.  Remember, it’s the pressure, not the volume that really counts.

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Toilets
today are now generally 1.6 gallon flush models (older homes may still have the 3.5 gallon versions).  1.25, dual flush, and even some 1.0 models are now out.  There is one available using only 0.8 gallons per flush.  This is a 50% savings from the federal requirement.  Toilets make up over a quarter of household water consumption.

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Washing Machines
use over 21% of household water.  Front loading washers generally use 20-25 gallons per load which is close to a 50% savings over a traditional top load model.  Front loading washers are more expensive than top loaders which is a consideration to take into account.

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Rain Barrels
are increasingly more common as a way to provide a water source for outdoor gardening.  One inch of rain on a roof surface of 1000sqft can harvest up to 600 gallons.  While it may not provide all the water needs for the outside, it is an effective, low cost way to make another dent into water usage.
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Bringing down water consumption saves money.  Using these applications can do that without relying on the tenant to change their habits and should not make a substantive difference in quality of life.  We at Prudential Unlimited Property Management have helped several of our clients make these changes on their properties without any complaint from tenants.

Prudential Unlimited Property Management is dedicated to providing not only the best service to our clients but also committed in adding value as part of our mission.  We welcome you to find out how by contacting us.

via:

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/washers.html
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/indoor.html
http://thegoodhuman.com/2008/08/25/just-how-much-rainwater-can-you-collect off-your-roof/