The Best Time to Buy Everything for Your Home, From Linens to TV

Calendar: bgblue/iStock; products: Amazon.com

Calendar: bgblue/iStock; products: Amazon.com

If you’ve bought a home recently, odds are you aren’t rolling in money right now. In fact, between your mortgage payments and bills for repairs and much-needed upgrades, your coffers might be pretty bare—which is a shame, since part of the fun of owning a home is furnishing it. Right?

But even if money is tight, that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge a little—especially if you time your purchases right. There are good (read: cheaper) times to buy certain items and not such good times. Know thy difference! All you need is a little patience and the ability to curb your I-want-it-NOW instincts to save big bucks on everything from televisions to carpeting and tools.

Here’s your month-by-month guide on what to buy when you want to save big.

Linens: January

Find deep discounts on bedding, bath towels, linens, and other related products during January “White Sales,” with closeout prices both online and in stores. And don’t worry, other colors will be discounted, too; it’s called this only because linens were available only in white waaaay back when this sale was invented in 1878.

You can also find deals on linens in August when students head back to college and department stores are pushing dorm room supplies.

Furniture: January and December

Looking to buy a couch, dining room set, or any other big-ticket piece of furniture? Shopping after the new year can save you some serious scratch. The reason: Designers and manufacturers release new models in February, making furniture stores eager to ditch their outdated inventory, which hogs a whole lot of floor space. That means you could save 30% to 60% on a couch. Who wouldn’t like an extra thousand or so in their pockets?

Televisions: February and November

Black Friday is a no-brainer for TV purchases, but you can also take advantage of Super Bowl frenzy in late January and February to score a great deal on a big TV.

“Sales of TVs are often at their highest around then, since consumers want to watch big games on bigger screens,” says Kendal Perez, a savings expert with CouponSherpa.com. But it’s not just Super Bowl demand that lowers the price: The latest and greatest in TV technology is unveiled at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, which drives retailers to discount older models to clear the store shelves. (Yes, stores still exist.)

Snowblowers and shovels: April and May

Don’t wait till snow falls to buy your cold-weather gear. Pick up a new snowblower and shovel in the early spring, when “they’re less in demand and retailers want more room for barbecues and patio furniture,” says Perez. You might find decent deals on Black Friday, but they likely won’t beat spring discounts.

Carpeting: May

May is the slow season for carpeting, so if you’ve been waiting to go wall to wall—or replace your worn-out shag—hit up your local carpeting center this month. Homeowners are too busy thinking about the outdoors to bother renovating their indoors, so you’re likely to find good deals on square footage.

Gardening supplies: April

Everyone’s stocking up on gardening supplies during the spring, and you’ll find big-box home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot competing for customers with amazing “Spring Black Friday” (yes, it’s a silly name) sales, usually in middle to late April.

“Expect deals like five for $10 mulch, BOGO free seed packets, and discounts on other gardening essentials,” Perez says.

Tools: June and November

Millions of wives and children seeking the perfect Father’s Day gift makes June a great month to refresh your tool collection. You’ll find dozens of sales on everything from drills to nails to saws. Black Friday is another great time to catch especially good deals on tools.

Outdoor furniture: July and August

Don’t pick up your new patio furniture at the beginning of the season—wait until late summer, when the bulk of buyers have already done their shopping and retailers are putting their inventory on deeper discounts.

Picnic and grilling supplies: August and September

You’ll find acceptable discounts on new picnic and grilling supplies in May and June, but the best deals will be found in August and September, “when retailers are pushing out inventory to make room for winter-related accessories,” says Perez. Expect savings of up to 75%—and if you need a lawn mower, pick it up at the same time to score an even better deal.

Major appliances: Holiday weekends

Retailers aren’t tricking you: Those holiday markdown sales really are the best time to buy new appliances. If you’re itching for a new fridge and Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or any other major retail holiday is around the corner, hold your horses.

“Most holiday weekends will feature some kind of discount or special financing on large appliances,” says Perez.

Different holidays are better for different bargains. Memorial Day is best for that fridge, because new models arrive in June. Look at Labor Day and Columbus Day for washer-dryer units, dishwashers, stoves, and ranges, whose lines are often refreshed over the holiday season. But even if it’s not the “right” holiday for your must-have major appliances, still wait for the next shopping day—sales during holidays will still be better than standard prices.

Paint: Summer holidays

“Many homeowners take on paint tasks and other home improvement projects when the weather is warm,” says Perez. You might think more homeowners out to buy means prices rise, but the opposite is often true: With more competition on the market, retailers are more likely to lower prices to entice buyers. Look for paint promotions during Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, a great time to stock up on your favorite colors.

 

Posted by Jamie Wiebe on realtor.com

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Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach. 

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

5 Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Windows

Don’t skimp on quality windows: If your windows look worn, your house will, too.

Every home will need new windows at some point. Here’s how to know when the time is right.

Your house may not be able to talk to you, but nevertheless it gives you signs when something’s not right. A home’s windows are particularly communicative. Although they don’t last forever, high-quality, well-maintained windows could last for 20 years or more, but there are many factors at play. (Windows in a coastal city like Charleston, SC, might age faster than they would in Los Angeles, CA, for example.) If your windows are more than a few decades old, listen carefully to what they’re telling you, so you’ll know when they need to be replaced. Here’s what to be on the lookout for.

1. They’re damaged, warped, or broken

It’s sometimes possible to repair a window instead of replacing it. If your window’s problem is minor, such as needing new weatherstripping or hardware, a repair might be the best option. But replacing a damaged, warped, or broken window sash or frame is almost always preferred to attempting a repair. “Even if the windows are still operable, they can develop problems,” says Kris Hanson, Senior Group Manager in Product Management at Marvin Windows and Doors. Do your windows fog up? Are they drafty? Do they stick when you try to open or close them? Do they refuse to stay open? If your windows are communicating in those ways, they’re telling you to replace them.

2. You want to reduce your energy bill

Windows provide some heat in the winter by letting in sunlight. But drafty windows can cause your energy bills to be about 10% to 25% higher, according to Energy.gov. Replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones can reduce your heating and cooling bills. Bonus: If you’re considering listing your home for sale, those new windows — and the resulting energy cost savings — can be a big selling point.

But don’t assume all windows are the same; it’s important to consider your specific needs. One factor? Your location. “Marvin offers a wide range of energy-efficient options and can tailor your windows to best suit your climate,” says Hanson. “Insulating glass is standard in all Marvin windows, along with thousands of options that meet the Energy Star Most Efficient designation, the highest standard for efficiency for the program.”

3. Your home needs a makeover

Windows are one of the most prominent features of a home, and if they look worn, your house will too. Look to see whether the color is fading or the window material is warping, or whether old screens or storm windows detract from the curb appeal of your home, suggests Hanson. “Architects and builders know that good design is critical for the longevity of a structure. Design considerations are a close second to quality when selecting new windows, and the overall vision or design theme of a home or space should be a driving force in the window selection process,” he adds.

While you’re upgrading your home’s appearance, you might also wish to change the type of window from a fixed sash to a window that opens. This way, “you can create a more comfortable interior and improve airflow through your home,” says Hanson. Another option? Install larger windows to increase a room’s natural light, which has aesthetic and health benefits: According to the Lighting Research Center, daylit environments increase productivity and comfort, plus help regulate your circadian rhythms for better general wellness.

4. You just survived a severe storm

If you live in a hurricane impact zone or other area prone to severe weather events, you’re probably prepared for the possibility of damaged windows. In fact, just living near the coast can do a number on your home’s exterior, including your windows. “If you worry about the effects of sea salt, humidity, or coastal winds, consider Integrity windows made with Ultrex fiberglass,” says Hanson. “These windows resist corrosion and remain stable in extreme temperatures because of a material that expands at the same rate as glass.” But even if you don’t live in a coastal region, if your top priority in a window is low maintenance, windows made with Ultrex fiberglass would be a smart choice. “The finish is three times thicker than the competitors’, which ensures Integrity windows won’t crack, dent, chip, or peel — they’re virtually maintenance-free,” adds Hanson.

5. You’re renovating a historic home

Maybe you moved into a historic home that suffers from vinyl replacement windows that detract from the home’s historic charm. The wrong window can dramatically change the overall look of a historic home and can even interfere with its integrity. If your goal is to install historically accurate replacement windows, a company that can handle custom requests should be your go-to. “Marvin specializes in creating customized windows to match one-of-a-kind spaces as well as producing exact replicas for historical homes,” says Hanson.

 

Posted by Laura Agadoni on Trulia

You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

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Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to do it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Talk with one of our agents today to get started on buying your next home!

7 Smart Tips For Renters With Bad Credit

renting

Wondering how to rent with bad credit? Even if you’re a first-time renter, there are ways to land a place without a perfect score.

Bad credit? You might have a tough time qualifying for that rental you love so much.

Real talk: Many landlords now rely on a credit check to vet potential renters, especially in competitive markets. (Just try hunting for an apartment for rent in Chicago, IL, and you’ll feel the pinch of a poor score.) Like it or not, your credit history can be used to assess how much of a financial risk you may pose to a landlord. Are you going pay your monthly rent on time, or does your credit report indicate that you have a history of paying bills late?

But there’s hope. Many renters lease apartments with bad credit (or no credit at all, if you’re a new college grad, for example) and work to boost their scores while renting. So how can you land an apartment if your score is lackluster?

Here’s how to rent with bad credit:

  1. Find a guarantor or co-signer. This is both the easiest and most complicated approach: Ask a parent, trusted friend, or relative with good credit to co-sign the rental application with you. In theory, it’s an easy solution, because while you’ll be the only one living in the apartment, your co-signer agrees to cover the payments in the event that you default on your rent. This can provide a landlord the extra reassurance they need. Of course, it’s complicated because someone else is on the hook for your behavior. You don’t actually want your co-signer to be forced to make payments for you, so be sure the monthly rent is an amount you can afford comfortably. Be realistic about what might happen to your relationship with your co-signer if you default on the lease.
  2. Be honest and show progress. Sometimes, bad credit isn’t a reflection of bad money management. You may have lost your job, suffered from medical problems, or experienced another financial setback that was out of your control. If this is the case, be upfront about it — before the landlord even runs your credit check. Your willingness to admit and own up to your bad credit is a point in your favor. It also gives you the opportunity to talk about the steps you’ve taken, and are currently taking, to improve your credit score. Whether it’s a proven track record of paying your bills on time or references from recent landlords, this will show your prospective property manager that you’re responsible and committed (even if your credit is less than perfect).
  3. Pay rent in advance or increase your security deposit. Bad credit makes landlords nervous because it indicates that since you defaulted on past bills, you might default on the rent. By paying a month or more in advance or offering a two-month security deposit, you can alleviate their concerns. Not only does this show your commitment, but it also provides them with extra cash that can cover some of the losses and damages should you skip out on the rent. (Which, of course, you won’t.)
  4. Get a roommate. Willing to share your living room and kitchen? Find a roommate. If the landlord will allow just one person to sign the lease, see if your roommate is willing to sign it solo. (Alternatively, try to move in with a roommate who is mid-lease and can add you without a credit check.) This way, the person on the lease is the one with more solid credit. Roommates come with another benefit: you’ll be able to share the bills. By reducing your financial burden, you can continue to pay down debt and repair your bad credit faster — a true win-win!
  5. Show solid income and offer to pay via direct deposit. Even if your credit history is a little shaky, being able to show a history of regular, consistent income can go a long way toward making a landlord feel better about you. When applying for an apartment, have proof of income ready, such as recent pay stubs, tax returns, and even a letter from your employer verifying your employment status and income. Offering to have your rent automatically deducted from your bank account can also help.
  6. Compromise by paying a little more. Some landlords charge additional “risk” fees if your credit score is poor. You may want to consider taking the hit if you really love the apartment, or if you need to quickly find a place to live. If you’re dealing with an individual property manager who is inclined to deny your application, you may be able to negotiate a slightly higher rent as a gesture of good faith.
  7. Bring recommendations. You’d bring letters of recommendation for a job application; why not bring the same when you’re trying to rent? Letters of recommendation can reassure a potential landlord that you’re a responsible person who won’t cause them any problems. Ask for letters from current and previous employers, landlords, and even past roommates who can vouch for your character. Even if your previous landlords were only for short-term rental arrangements, their endorsements can hold weight.

 

Posted by Paula Pant on Trulia

 

3 Fresh Home Design Looks for the New Year

Metallics like copper and rose gold made a big splash in 2016. So what does 2017 have in store for us?

2016 was a great year for interior design. So many trends were influenced by new innovations and technology; beautiful colors took new form; unique silhouettes filled every room of the home; and textures and fabrics breathed life into otherwise traditional furnishings.

But it’s a new year, and time for new looks. Here’s a peek at three current trends that will have the interior design world buzzing in 2017.

Va-va velvet

For years, the design industry has been buzzing about texture, and how plush or sinuous fabrics flip a design on its head for a totally unique effect. In 2017, the texture trend continues with the rise of velvet.

trend1

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Velvet is a classic fabric that periodically enjoys a new surge of popularity. This year, we see velvet used on every furniture piece imaginable, from ottomans to dining room chairs to the smallest fringed detail.

This trend is all about adding just the right amount of ‘ooh la la’ to any space, without diving too deep into luxury.

Get the look:

  • Jewel-toned velvet fabrics add a luxe look to any piece of furniture. Cover an ottoman or desk chair with this sophisticated upholstery for an elegant boost.
  • Create a masculine setting by pairing navy velvet dining chairs with a rich wood table and metallic place settings.
  • Add glamour to a master suite with velvet drapes. Hues like rich emerald green or soft blush add just the right touch of sophistication, without overwhelming the space.

Darling denim

Everyone loves a great pair of jeans, so it’s no mystery why the design world is falling for denim fabrics, motifs, and patterns for home interiors.

Channeling indigo hues and a perfectly worn-in feel, the denim trend of 2017 offers approachability to furnishings, finishes, and fabrics alike.

Taking cues from the velvet trend, denim-like fabric can be found on ottomans, window coverings, bed linens, and area rugs, offering a simple yet sophisticated take on everyone’s favorite fabric.

Get the look:

  • Dip your toe into the denim look with a duvet cover or area rug. These larger linens make a huge impact on your space without being too permanent.
  • Denim hues go well with metallic finishes. Adding this hue to a bathroom space via hand towels or a beautiful rug will make your polished nickel hardware “pop,” or give your favorite brass faucet a modern feel.

Stripe story

Designers use stripes as a “neutral” element to anchor a space with clean lines and bold colors. In 2017, stripes will be used as a statement-maker all on their own.

trend2

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

With a bold brushstroke down the middle of a wingback chair, or as a reimagined wallpaper pattern, the single stripe is the new must-know print. Stripes, whether a simple pinstripe or graphic configuration, can be worked into any space, from uber-modern to tailored and traditional.

Get the look:

  • Get graphic with a single bold stripe down the back of a wingback chair for added flair without the commitment to a full stripe pattern.
  • A beautiful pinstripe-patterned wall covering adds impact without crowding a room’s design. Add this easy look to a powder bathroom for an instant style boost.

 

Posted by Kerrie Kelly on Zillow

 

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early

It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

HSH.com:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew