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Pillows and rugs
Get floor pillows that you and your guests can use to sit on the ground for more relaxed occasions. You can also cover the ground with an outdoor rug that will bring a little warmth into the space.
Hang hammocks if you want to use your patio for a relaxing, quiet place to think or read. If you want to make your patio extra comfortable, throw in a futon or daybed.
Add a few potted plants to bring nature into this indoor-outdoor space. They’ll brighten up the area nicely. Just make sure that the layout of the patio allows your plants or flowers to get enough sunlight.
If you like to eat outdoors, add a small table and a few chairs to your patio space. During the warmer months, you can head outside and enjoy dinner with a sunset view. If you’re feeling fancy, consider purchasing a bar cart, which will help you bring cocktails from the kitchen to the patio seamlessly. You can even install a tabletop firepit if you’re interested in roasting marshmallows on the patio.
Curtains and partitions
To add an element of privacy, hang a curtain or set up a partition to separate your patio space from the outdoors. You can even repaint old shutters from your home and use them as a barrier between your patio and the rest of your yard. If you’d still like to get natural sunlight, choose a light colored curtain or only set up a partition on one side of the patio for partial privacy.
Blend design styles
Make your patio have a natural transition between your home and backyard. Include furniture that is a mix of both indoors and outdoors, such as wicker chairs with decorative pillows.
Incorporate lighting so that you can use your patio at night. Whether it’s a large light or a number of twinkly string lights, adequate lighting will allow you to get the most use out of your space.
Your patio has more potential than you might’ve realized. Think about how you’d like to use your space, and you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to transform this often overlooked part of the home.
Financing a second home
In many ways, financing for your second home works the same as financing for your primary home. Homeowners can have up to four homes financed through conventional mortgages, so you may want to reach out to your current lender in order to see what options they have available. In some cases, you have to provide a larger down payment for a second property, and your lender may also require a somewhat higher credit score.
If you have a great deal of equity in your current home, you may be able to tap into it through a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) in order to put together the funds you need to buy your second home. Talk with your lender about how this will affect your credit and your underwriting process.
If you decide to split the cost of your second home with trusted friends or family members, you will want to enlist the help of an experienced real estate attorney. He or she will create an agreement to designate how the home’s ownership will be structured in order to ensure that all of the property owners are protected in the event that one of them experiences an unforeseen illness, job loss, or financial reversal.
Property management for a second home
Whether your second home is around the corner or across the country, it can become difficult to manage. This is especially true if you are using your second home as a rental property, since you will have to take on the responsibility of finding and screening renters, maintaining the home, and making any needed repairs. In order to simplify second homeownership, you may want to enlist the services of a property management company.
If you are using your second home as an investment property, your property manager can take on all of the day-to-day landlord tasks that you either don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. They can set up systems and processes for collecting rent and fielding inquiries from tenants.
If you are using your second home as a vacation home, a property manager can still be a great idea. This is especially true if your second home is located in a market that is far away from your primary home. A property manager can shovel snow, cut grass, or pick up debris from a recent storm. In addition, some home management companies that focus primarily on the vacation home market offer amenities like grocery delivery, maid services, and other value-added options that make it a pleasure, rather than a chore, to stay at your property.
These types of services can be especially helpful if you share your vacation property with friends, family members, or co-owners. By ensuring that upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning services are completed on a regular basis and in a consistent way, you’ll experience less conflict and frustration.
Investment options for a second home
If you’re buying your second home primarily as an investment vehicle, it is important to talk with your attorney and your tax adviser. Owning an investment property can have both benefits and drawbacks, so make sure that you know how your investment will affect your particular financial situation.
Short-term rentals include those conducted through local rental companies or through online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Rentals may be as short as overnight or you may require a longer stay of weeks or even months. Short-term rentals are especially popular in resort areas, coastal areas, or in areas with a large number of tourists.
One of the advantages of short-term rentals is that you can reserve the use of your home for part of the year in order to host friends and family or for your own vacations. This offers you the best of both a vacation home and a rental investment. It may be wise to consider reserving your second home for personal travel during the off-season, in order to maximize your return on investment.
In some neighborhoods with strict Homeowners Associations, buildings with strict co-op boards or condominium associations, and even in some cities and counties, you may be unable to rent out your investment property for short-term stays. Check to ensure that there is no pending legislation in the local municipality and that there are no HOA, condo, or co-op regulations currently in place.
Long-term real estate investment—sometimes called a buy-and-hold investment strategy—involves longer leases, generally of a year or more. You may choose, for example, to purchase your retirement home at today’s rates, then use a few years of rental income to offset its cost and pay down the mortgage. Alternatively, you may buy a nearby home, rent it out, use the income to cover the mortgage, then collect additional income once the property is paid off.
Real estate investment can offer a number of tax advantages, both when you file each year and when your heirs inherit your investment properties. As always, it is a good idea for you to consult with your attorney and your financial advisor to find out if a long-term real estate investment strategy is a good choice to help you meet your financial goals.
If you are considering buying a second home, whether in town or in a distant real estate market, begin the conversation with your trusted real estate professional.
Is upsizing right for you?
While upsizing isn’t for everyone, it is the right answer for a variety of buyers. Here are some of the scenarios where an upsized home may be the perfect fit.
Those Who Downsized Too Far
Over the past few years, many older homeowners have traded in their large suburban homes for small condos with only one or two bedrooms. The selling points include no outdoor maintenance and a host of resort-style amenities in the better in-town and retirement condo communities.
However, many of these eager downsizers soon found themselves missing all of that open space, especially on holidays or when the grandkids came to visit. The advent of COVID-19 has further complicated the downsizing equation, with adult children returning from their in-town apartments to quarantine with parents and work from home. For some homeowners, it’s time to re-upsize from a too-soon experiment in downsizing.
New Work-from-Home Professionals
Perhaps your home was the perfect size when everyone was gone for most of the day five days a week. However, as more and more companies institute long-term work-from-home policies, a previously right-sized residence has become a tight fit. In addition, if the kids are participating in online learning, everyone may be struggling to find a space to get their work done.
The home office that was an occasional refuge is no longer enough, and many couples are looking for homes with two home offices or even with a pool house or she-shed suitable for separate office space. In addition, kids need to be able to get away from the distractions of their bedrooms into spaces dedicated to learning and optimized for better focus.
Families Needing Outdoor Space
As camps, community rec centers, and schools canceled sports and other activities, many families have found themselves scrambling for a way to get the kids outside and active. Outdoor space is suddenly at a premium, and some families are searching for homes with upgraded features like pools and playspaces. Suburban neighborhoods with an emphasis on walking and biking trails and other wide-open spaces are more desirable than ever. Rural areas offering homes with acreage are suddenly looking like good options since the work-from-home breadwinners no longer have to worry about a long commute.
How to Save Money When You’re Upsizing
It may seem difficult to imagine upsizing, especially if you’re currently maxed out on your housing budget. However, there are a few ways to make upsizing more affordable without waiting for a windfall.
Hunt for a Bargain
If time is on your side, you can upsize without spending a bundle by waiting for the right deal. Talk to your real estate professional about foreclosures and short sales opportunities, or have them check with fellow agents in your chosen area who have listings that are going on the market in the next few months. You may want to wait until the fall or winter to buy, since sellers at that time of year are often more motivated and working under a greater time crunch.
More Affordable Market
If you’re moving from a desirable in-town high rise to a small rural area, you may find that you’re able to significantly upsize and upgrade your space without spending much more. If you are now working from home, you have far more options than you did before, so now is the time to think about where you really want to live.
If your choice of home was previously driven by your job proximity and commute, consider where you want to settle down now that you can settle down anywhere. If your choice of home was previously driven by the local schools and sports leagues, consider whether you can move the kids to the country now that they are attending school online.
One of the most expensive aspects of moving to a larger space is the amount of new furniture you’ll need to purchase. In this case, time is on your side and there’s no reason to feel that you have to have a picture-perfect home on day one of your move. Take your time, look for bargains, and let your home’s interior take shape organically over time.
Consider asking your family for your wish list pieces of furniture, art, or decor on holidays or birthdays. Use the money you would have spent going out to restaurants in the city on a new rug or side table. If you’re not taking a vacation this year due to COVID-19, put that money into furnishing a room in your new, upsized space.
If you’ve decided that upsizing is the goal for you and your family, Let's talk about possible neighborhoods and the type of home that’s right for your needs. I can help you develop a smart strategy for selling your current home while simultaneously purchasing your new home, making the transition as seamless as possible.
By Erin Huffstetler | 09/05/2017 | 7 Comments
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Last week our upstairs HVAC unit stopped working. My husband climbed up into the attic to troubleshoot, and quickly determined that we had a clogged condensate drain line.
That’s the line that your air conditioner uses to get rid of all the humidity that it pulls from the air. When everything is working properly, condensation runs down the drain line and exits outside your house.
2. Locate where the drain line exits your house, and make sure it isn’t clogged by an insect nest or something obvious. The exit point is usually (but not always) near the condenser unit. It’s possible that you may not have an outdoor exit point at all. Our upstairs HVAC unit runs to our bathroom drain.
3. If that doesn’t solve the problem, locate the drain line access point near your indoor air handler. Remove the plug. Then, attach the suction hose of a wet vac to the line, and try to suck the clog out. For this to work well, you need to make a tight connection between the hose and the line. We started by putting the vacuum hose over the drain line. That pulled some of the clog out, but it didn’t create enough suction to pull all of the clog out.
So, we tried a Lint Lizard hose attachment that we had on hand. It’s intended for cleaning out dryer vents, but it worked perfectly for this. A Vaccuflex vacuum attachment would serve the same purpose, and is easier to find. What’s good about both of these is that they allow you to stick your hose in past the T, so that you’re sucking air/water from the condensate line, rather than from the air handler.
Here’s the crud that we sucked out of our line on our fourth (and final) attempt.
4. If the drain line is still clogged, trying sucking the clog out from the exit point. It may just be further down the line than you’re able to reach from the access point.
5. If, at this point, you still haven’t made any progress (or much progress), pour a cup of white vinegar into the access point, and allow it to sit for a few hours. This will kill any algae or mold that’s present, and help to break up the clog. Then, try sucking the line out again.
Be sure to place a bucket under the outdoor exit point before you add vinegar to the line. If it drips onto plants, it may kill them.
6. Still no luck? Then, you may want to try snaking out the line. You may not clean out your clog on the first attempt, but if you stick with it, you should be able unclog it without a call to an HVAC repairman.
How to Prevent Future Condensate Drain Clogs
Once we removed the clog, we flushed out the line with vinegar. I plan to make this a yearly maintenance task now. If you live somewhere humid, you may find that you need to do this more often.
Summer is known for its abundance of sunshine. However, as the temperature rises during these months, your electric bill often does, too. But not to fear! There are multiple ways to offset the high costs that accompany the much-needed cool air. Use these tricks to thoroughly enjoy the warm weather—without having to fret about your bills.
Let your AC breathe
Clogged, dirty air conditioning filters will disrupt air flow and reduce efficiency. Make sure to replace and clean filters every month or two during peak season to keep your home cool while using less energy.
Change your light bulbs
Unlike traditional light bulbs, LED lights emit very little heat, making them an energy efficient choice to help keep your home cool. In addition, they can last more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs.
Make room for your vents
Furniture can easily hide vents. From your favorite love seat to your kitchen table, they may look good, but they could be blocking airflow. Make sure you’re aware of their locations, and move pieces if necessary.
Work with Mother Nature
There’s no denying that Mother Nature is a strong force—be sure to obey her. When the sun is up, keep the blinds shut. Although it might be darker than usual, it’ll help keep your space cool.
Change your cooking methods
A hot meal from the oven is great, but during the summer? Not so much. Because the oven can add more heat to the room, consider grilling outside more frequently during the summer.
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