How to Create an Organized Garage for Fall

How to Create an Organized Garage for Fall

These six steps will help you get your garage organized and ready for cooler weather.

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor


As the warm breezes of summer give way to chillier temperatures, consider rearranging the items in your garage to ensure you’re ready for colder weather. Here are six steps to help you get your garage organized and ready for fall (and winter):

Step #1 Categorize Items

It’s hard to whip your garage into shape without taking inventory. Take a look at your possessions and divide them into categories based on use. Keep frequently used and important items close at hand and store everything else. Here’s a list of items to keep close by:

  • Recycling
  • Sports and recreational equipment
  • Automotive maintenance/repair tools
  • Seasonal décor
  • Garden and yard tools
  • Major equipment

You may find that storing some of the items — like decorations — indoors will free up space and make it easier to organize your garage.

Couple Clearing Garage For Yard Sale Laughing

Step #2 Group Similar Items Together

Next, pull everything out of your garage and group similar items together. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it can actually help you later on when you start to reorganize these items. Additionally, it’s easier to purchase storage solutions when you know the amount and size of items you’re dealing with.

Step #3 Let it Go

Whipping your garage into shape is the perfect time to identify and dispose of any unused, broken or forgotten items. If you run across any items you haven’t used in some time, throw them away or donate them to make room for your more important possessions.

Step #5 Determine a Layout

There are a number of ways to organize your garage. But, no matter how you do it, it’s best to decide on a location for each item or group of items before you start putting anything back. It’s also important to consider factors like the frequency of use and available space during this phase.

Step #6 Install Cabinets or Purchase Storage Bins

Grouping items together will help you decide on the perfect storage solution for your garage. Once you’re ready, purchase and install cabinets or storage bins. Organizational tools help you keep similar items grouped together and within easy reach. This is especially important with tools and other items that help you keep your home in good shape during the colder months.

Perhaps the most important part of the process is giving yourself time. Don’t rush yourself or assume you’ll finish everything in a single day. Set aside an entire weekend to allow yourself plenty of time to go through all of your stuff, group it, clean the garage and then put everything back in its new home. If you have to, find some friends to lend you a hand with moving items around. You’ll have a clean, organized garage before you know it.

 

Real Estate Investing: The Art of the Flip

Real Estate Investing: The Art of the Flip

You’ve seen it on TV, but let’s see if it’s actually as easy as they let on…

Flipping is not that much different than buy and hold: In both cases, investors rely on buying at below market prices to reap profits. With flippers, however, those profits are booked sooner rather than later. And flippers have to work quickly before expenses mount up.

“The number one key is getting houses cheap enough to be able to fix them up and still sell for a profit,” said Mark Ferguson, who has been buying and selling homes in Greeley, Colorado for more than 15 years. “I used to find most of my buys as foreclosures but now there are so few in Colorado, I rely on the Multiple Listing Service.”

Paying cash

Ferguson finds listings that are available and underpriced because they need work. He said 97% of his flips need renovations that cost between $20,000 and $40,000. He expects to flip as many as 20 houses this year.

“Regular buyers can’t get loans for these houses because they need so much work,” he said. “I pay cash.”

Ferguson gained experience by working with his dad. He has contractors on speed dial who do all the work, although he is handy himself.

“I rehabbed a flip myself one time and it was the biggest mistake I ever made,” he said. “It took me three times as long and the quality of work wasn’t as good. Plus, I spent all my time working on the house.”

During most of the years Ferguson has been flipping, houses in Greeley were very affordable. That has changed recently with the median home price more than doubling over the past three years to $260,000, he said. The hot market is both a blessing and a curse. The gains mean that his flips are gaining value between when he buys and when he sells. That puts less pressure on him to flip quickly. The bad part is that good buys are harder to find, with more people chasing the bargains.

Bargains are almost impossible to find in the East Bay region of San Francisco, where Juan Diaz been flipping homes since the early 2000s.

“I really got going when housing prices were falling in 2008 and 2009,” he said. “You really had to get in and out very quickly.”

The recovery has made it very hard to operate. Owners are afraid to put homes on the market because they think they might not be able to find anyplace to move into. The Bay Area is the housing market “on steroids,” said Diaz, with many amateurs getting into the business, hoping to make quick scores thanks to the lively price jumps.

These buyers, however, often overpay and are not set up to quickly refurbish and resell the homes.

“A lot of them are one and done,” said Diaz. “They make little or no money.”

Working the percentages

Flips are not always profitable even for Diaz, who does 20 or more a year with his investors. Each calendar year one or two of his flips, well, flops.

“Not every one will be a home run or even a base hit,” he said. He knows things can go wrong, but the successes more than offset the losses.

If Ferguson and Diaz represent the full-time, professional real estate investor, Dan Nainan represents the amateur. The 35-year-old professional comedian got serious this year about dipping his toes in the flipping scene. In doing so, he violated some of the advice of the professionals.

He lives, for example, in New York, but he purchased a home in Chevy Chase, MD. He feels that he knows the area, however, having grown up there. He also has been slow to turn the property around; he bought in January and has yet to put it on the market. Since Washington-area prices have been quite stable lately, he doesn’t figure on gaining from the delay. The monthly costs will add up and make it harder to turn a profit.

Nainan did do a couple of things right. He had the help of a friend in the business who buys and sells.

“He gave me good unbiased advice about what needed to be done,” said Nainan. “I was looking for a house well below market.”

He found one that he paid $742,000 for and has put in $35,000.

“It looks like it will sell for $900,000 to $950,000,” said Nainan.

When he adds up all his costs, including transaction costs, Nainan may wind up with a very modest margin but, whatever the outcome, the flip should be beneficial for his own real estate investment education.

Most professional real estate investors, both flippers and buy-and-holders, agree that inventory shortages in many markets have made it harder to find properties. They keep prospecting for properties with the hope, the expectation, that eventually they’ll hit pay dirt. That’s what keeps them in the game.

In the final post of the series, we’ll learn about the art of the ‘flip’. You’ve seen it on TV, but let’s see if it’s actually as easy as they let on…

In the first and second posts of the series, we learned the basics about real estate investing and what you need to know to play the game strategically. Now, we’ll see what you need to do to rehab a house and successfully ‘flip’ it. 

Flipping is not that much different than buy and hold: In both cases, investors rely on buying at below market prices to reap profits. With flippers, however, those profits are booked sooner rather than later. And flippers have to work quickly before expenses mount up.

“The number one key is getting houses cheap enough to be able to fix them up and still sell for a profit,” said Mark Ferguson, who has been buying and selling homes in Greeley, Colorado for more than 15 years. “I used to find most of my buys as foreclosures but now there are so few in Colorado, I rely on the Multiple Listing Service.”

Paying cash

Ferguson finds listings that are available and underpriced because they need work. He said 97% of his flips need renovations that cost between $20,000 and $40,000. He expects to flip as many as 20 houses this year.

“Regular buyers can’t get loans for these houses because they need so much work,” he said. “I pay cash.”

Ferguson gained experience by working with his dad. He has contractors on speed dial who do all the work, although he is handy himself.

“I rehabbed a flip myself one time and it was the biggest mistake I ever made,” he said. “It took me three times as long and the quality of work wasn’t as good. Plus, I spent all my time working on the house.”

During most of the years Ferguson has been flipping, houses in Greeley were very affordable. That has changed recently with the median home price more than doubling over the past three years to $260,000, he said. The hot market is both a blessing and a curse. The gains mean that his flips are gaining value between when he buys and when he sells. That puts less pressure on him to flip quickly. The bad part is that good buys are harder to find, with more people chasing the bargains.

Bargains are almost impossible to find in the East Bay region of San Francisco, where Juan Diaz been flipping homes since the early 2000s.

“I really got going when housing prices were falling in 2008 and 2009,” he said. “You really had to get in and out very quickly.”

The recovery has made it very hard to operate. Owners are afraid to put homes on the market because they think they might not be able to find anyplace to move into. The Bay Area is the housing market “on steroids,” said Diaz, with many amateurs getting into the business, hoping to make quick scores thanks to the lively price jumps.

These buyers, however, often overpay and are not set up to quickly refurbish and resell the homes.

“A lot of them are one and done,” said Diaz. “They make little or no money.”

Working the percentages

Flips are not always profitable even for Diaz, who does 20 or more a year with his investors. Each calendar year one or two of his flips, well, flops.

“Not every one will be a home run or even a base hit,” he said. He knows things can go wrong, but the successes more than offset the losses.

If Ferguson and Diaz represent the full-time, professional real estate investor, Dan Nainan represents the amateur. The 35-year-old professional comedian got serious this year about dipping his toes in the flipping scene. In doing so, he violated some of the advice of the professionals.

He lives, for example, in New York, but he purchased a home in Chevy Chase, MD. He feels that he knows the area, however, having grown up there. He also has been slow to turn the property around; he bought in January and has yet to put it on the market. Since Washington-area prices have been quite stable lately, he doesn’t figure on gaining from the delay. The monthly costs will add up and make it harder to turn a profit.

Nainan did do a couple of things right. He had the help of a friend in the business who buys and sells.

“He gave me good unbiased advice about what needed to be done,” said Nainan. “I was looking for a house well below market.”

He found one that he paid $742,000 for and has put in $35,000.

“It looks like it will sell for $900,000 to $950,000,” said Nainan.

When he adds up all his costs, including transaction costs, Nainan may wind up with a very modest margin but, whatever the outcome, the flip should be beneficial for his own real estate investment education.

Most professional real estate investors, both flippers and buy-and-holders, agree that inventory shortages in many markets have made it harder to find properties. They keep prospecting for properties with the hope, the expectation, that eventually they’ll hit pay dirt. That’s what keeps them in the game.

8 Genius Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

8 Genius Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

Clear out the clutter and tidy up your kitchen with tips from our friends at HomeAdvisor

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor

The kitchen is one of the most difficult places in the home to keep clean and organized. Between your dishes, utensils and cooking appliances, you have lots of oddly shaped and bulky items to store. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the stuff in your kitchen, or maybe just need a more efficient way of storing and organizing, consider these genius ways to tidy up your kitchen.

#1 Group Similar Items Together

Grouping items together according to their use is a sensible way to organize your kitchen. Categorizing similar items makes it easier for you and your guests to find things quickly.

#2 Use Baskets to Store Commonly Used Items

Searching for commonly used kitchen items is frustrating. Rather than storing them in random cabinets, use a simple wicker basket to corral and hold popular items. It looks nicer than just stacking utensils on the counter and it’s more organized than stashing them in available cabinets.

#3 Install Slide-Out Pantry Drawers

There’s nothing worse than having to pull everything out of a drawer or cabinet to reach something you’re looking for. Rather than shuffling with all of that mess, install slide-out pantry drawers or cabinets. Now, when you need a spice or are looking for specific dry goods, you can slide the entire cabinet out.

#4 Use Open Shelving

There’s nothing wrong with showing off some of the items you own, like your formal dinnerware or antique teapots. The only challenge you’ll face is keeping it all straight and tidy on your shelves. Installing an open shelving solution will help you organize everyday kitchen items and bring an open, airy energy to your kitchen. As an added benefit, you won’t have to open drawers and doors to find the items you’re looking for.

#5 Explore Alternative Storage

Traditional kitchen storage is great, but sometimes alternatives are just as functional. Consider storing extra kitchen items in wooden crates, baskets and other containers. Do you have a movable kitchen island with space underneath? Use woven baskets to hold your plates and bowls below.

#6 Don’t Waste Space

If you’re struggling to find space to organize all of your cutlery, plates and other utensils, consider high-shelf storage. Remember to only store rarely used items, like your fine china or fondue pot, on high shelves.

#7 Cut Down When Necessary

The kitchen is one of the most popular places in the home to display knick-knacks. If your assortment of collectibles has outgrown your space, the easiest way to organize is to eliminate what you can’t put out on display. This cuts down on clutter and opens up the visuals of your kitchen.

Conclusion

These are just a few simple ways to improve the organization of your kitchen. Now you can enjoy less frustrating meal preparation and less overwhelming visuals.

Read This Post Before Raking Up Those Fall Leaves

Bring the beauty of fall into your home with these easy DIY decor projects.

Ahh Fall Foliage…so beautiful but also SO messy!

For those who live in parts of the world that get to experience fall foliage you can relate to the love/hate relationship that comes with the turn of the season. On one hand the beauty of the changing leaves is something we look forward to with the first cool breeze that returns each year. On the other, cleaning up our yards seems like a never ending task. Before you break out your rake and drag that pile of leaves to your curb check out some creative ways you can add the beauty of fall to your home with these DIY leaf decor projects.

Throw Pillows | Butiksofie

This DIY project is so incredibly affordable and allows you to create gorgeous one of a kind fall decor that is subtle yet spectacular. Learn How Here

Leaf Bowl | diyncraftpriscilla

This autumnal bowl brings nature into your home and provides the perfect place for small treats (like Halloween candy). Watch Below

Leaf CoastersConfessionsofahomeschooler

This project is an awesome one to do with children and makes a great hostess gift for any fall house parties you are attending. Learn how here

Leaf Wreath | DIYMood

Treat yourself to a warm welcome home from the moment you walk in the door with a dried leaf wreath (I know you are impressed with my rhyming skills :) ) Watch Below.

Framed Pressed Leaves |witandwhistle

Swapping out pictures is a great way to keep your home decor fresh and this project will give you beautiful decor that you can bring back each year. Learn how here

So there you have it, five fall projects that will leaf any auntumn fan happy at home. Happy Fall Y’all!

Everything You Love About Fall at Home

Everything You Love About Fall at Home

If you’re looking for more reasons to fall in love with fall at home, check out this round-up of our favorite Blue Matter highlights for this fabulous season.

Fall at home is all about cozy nights around the dinner table, afternoons of playing in the fallen leaves, and mornings taking in the crisp autumn air. If you’re looking for more reasons to fall in love with fall at home, check out this round-up of our favorite Blue Matter highlights for this fabulous season.

Did you know there was a right way to rake leaves? Now you do.

Thinking about listing your home in October? Why the Fall Selling Season is Better than You Think

How to Turn Autumn Leaves into Home Decor

Heating bills. Halloween candy. Fallen leaves!  25 Thoughts Homeowners Have During Fall

We could go on forever, but here are 7 Reasons to be Happy it’s Fall.

How to Use your Senses to Transition your Home from Summer to Fall.

Don’t cry because summer’s over.  Instead, turn your summer place into an autumn oasis.

What if there was a gutter cleaning robot?

Surprising Real Estate Trends

Surprising Real Estate Trends that Will Shape the Way You Buy and Sell a Home

When buying or selling a house, one of the first questions that come to mind is either “What do I want in a house?” or “What do buyers want in my house?” The answer to either question may have a surprising link to generational real estate trends.

When buying or selling a house, one of the first questions that come to mind is either “What do I want in a house?” or “What do buyers want in my house?” Though it can be hard to differentiate between wants and needs in real estate, the answer to either question may have a surprising link to generational real estate trends.

The Data

According to data on home buyer and seller generational trends released by theNational Association of Realtors, Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) continue to comprise the largest contingent of homebuyers, holding 35 percent of the market. Although Millennials are the largest contingent of homebuyers, they spend less time saving for a down payment and have the largest level of educational debt than their home-buying counterparts. The next largest contingent, at 26 percent of the market, is made up of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1981). These buyers have had a bit more time to pay down student debt, save for a down payment, or gain some equity in their current home — which can provide clues about home buying trends based on age.

Millennials

Millennials are more likely to look for a bargain, with affordability trumping almost every other housing need, and it is one of the major reasons Millennials are flocking to the suburbs, as opposed to urban areas. When selling, that means appealing to the Millennial set that will be looking for walkability, transport links, and neutral spaces to put their stamp on. If buying, especially for the first time, Millennials are more likely to compromise on the size and age of a home before they compromise on price, which provides ample opportunity to build equity through a renovation before moving on to a larger home in the future.

Generation X

Gen Xers, on the other hand, are more likely to move to obtain a larger home for their growing families. When selling, this means playing up livable space in a home and demonstrating how it can support a growing family. Items to focus on are the main living spaces such as the kitchen, living areas, and bathrooms. Proximity to good schools and transportation routes are also good qualities to play up. Gen Xers are also more likely to stay in their homes for a longer period than the Millennial set — meaning Xers are more likely to compromise on price to get the right neighborhood or location.

Baby Boomers

If you’re wondering where the Baby Boomers fit in, it may surprise you to know that the Millennials have recently surpassed Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, and this demographic shift is reflected in their share of the real estate market. With many Boomers still in the workforce, the real estate trends for this group have been split in two: younger Boomers (born between 1956 and 1964) and older Boomers (born between 1946 and 1955). They have a market share of 16 percent and 15 percent of the market respectively. What makes this generation unique is that they are the ones most likely to move the furthest, obtaining a smaller home and relocating closer to family and friends, and they are willing to pay for the location they want.

The Bottom Line

Across all buying groups, environmentally friendly features ranked as incredibly important, and nearly all generational groups from 30 to 90 began their real estate search online — something potential home sellers should be aware of when preparing their home for sale. No matter who your target market is when selling your home, presenting a neutral space, playing up the local amenities, and including lots of pictures in an online listing will remain critical in a successful sale.

Is Solar Power a Bright Idea for Your Home?

Reduced utility bills. A greener lifestyle. Tax incentives. These are just a few reasons why some homeowners are opting to switch to solar power. But, is it right for your home?

Reduced utility bills. A greener lifestyle. Tax incentives.  These are just a few reasons why some homeowners are opting to switch to solar power.  But, what is it right for your home? We asked Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the U.S. to answer 5 frequently asked questions about solar power to help you weigh the pros and cons.

1. Why solar power? What benefits does a homeowner see from switching to solar power?

The biggest benefit homeowners receive from going solar is saving money on their electric bills. Sunrun customers save 20%* on their bills and are able to lock in those rates for 20 years. In addition to saving money, homeowners who go solar are benefiting the environment and their local community by reducing the need for their utility provider to produce energy with fossil fuels. It is far more efficient for a utility to get clean solar electricity produced off the roof of someone’s home than it is to bring in power from electricity generation plants miles away.

2. How much does installing solar panels on a standard home cost? And will solar power pay for itself?

Sunrun’s most popular product is BrightSave®, a solar lease that allows a homeowner to get solar installed for little to zero down. Whether you go with a monthly orprepaid solar lease you can start saving immediately, without the hassle of ownership. There is no waiting for the system to pay for itself, you start saving the moment the system is turned on.

3. How does the weather affect solar power? For instance, what happens if it’s a cloudy or snowy day? Do solar panels still generate energy?

You’re hitting on one of the key areas a homeowner should pay attention to when determining whether going solar is right for their home. Sunrun guarantees energy production** for our customers rain or shine. If after 12 months your solar system falls short of your production guarantee Sunrun will cut you a check for the difference.

4. What incentives are available to homeowners to switch to solar?

On a Federal level homeowners who own their solar PV system qualify for anInvestment Tax Credit of 30%, while many state and local governments also offer incentives to go solar. Sunrun does all the work for homeowners, handling all the paperwork involved in obtaining the incentives you would qualify for and maximizes them to their full advantage when determining the final system cost.

5. Will solar panels increase the value of my home?

It depends on a few factors, such as whether you own the solar array on your roof or not. For homeowner-owned systems, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley Lab recently found that home buyers are typically willing to pay a $15,000 premium for homes with an installed solar array.

Regardless, residential solar is a fast-growing trend and more and more home buyers are looking for homes where they know their energy bills will be low. So any home solar solution will help make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Sunrun also guarantees our systems will transfer to the home’s new owner. We have a dedicated team of transfer specialists who make transferring a home between seller and buyer hassle-free.

Have a question about solar power that isn’t answered here? Tweet @sunrun and use the hashtag #SolarRealEstate.

 

  • *Estimated savings based on a projected annual utility rate increase of 3.16% over the life of the system. Actual savings will vary. Savings depends on several factors, including product type, system production, geography, weather, shade, electricity usage, full utilization of the 30% solar Investment Tax Credit by the system owner, and utility rate structures and rate increases. Analysis based on customers who enrolled with Sunrun between October 15, 2014 and October 15, 2015. See www.sunrun.com/save20 for details.
  • **Sunrun guarantees 100% of the guaranteed output during the initial term of the agreement for BrightSave Prepaid and 95% for BrightSave Monthly Lease. Please see https://www.sunrun.com/why-sunrun/your-guarantee for details.

To-Dos: Your October Home Checklist

To-Dos: Your October Home Checklist

Clean up fallen leaves and branches and get your home ready for more time spent indoors.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

The leaves are falling, the farmer’s markets are bustling and the cozy comforts of home beckon — it must be October. Make the most of this month’s bountiful harvest, get some exercise raking leaves in the brisk air and button down your house in preparation for winter. Then sit back, relax and warm your hands around a mug of hot apple cider. Fall is here.

Connor Homes - The Dorothea Harwell House

1. Rake leaves. To make quicker work of collecting leaves from a large lawn, rake the fallen foliage onto a large plastic tarp. Then bag it or add it to your compost pile.

2. Trim dead tree limbs. Dead limbs are more likely to fall during winter storms, making them a potential safety hazard. Have an arborist inspect and trim large trees.

3. If you haven’t already, clean gutters and downspouts. Wait until most of the leaves have fallen to schedule a rain gutter cleaning. Inspect gutters and downspouts for cracks and loose parts and make repairs as needed.

It’s Time to Clean Your Gutters — Here’s How

Leschi Remodel

4. Neaten up the mudroom. The back-to-school (and work) flurry can leave the mudroom looking as if a hurricane hit it. Take some time to regain sanity — sort through papers and put away stray summer items and extra coats. Clean the floors and invest in a new doormat if needed. Keep a recycling basket near the entrance to make sorting mail and school papers easier, and dedicate a tote or bin for items that need to be returned (like library books).

Mudrooms That Really Clean Up

Brookline

5. Keep seasonal decorating low-key with natural finds. Pumpkins and gourds, fresh heirloom apples, quinces, pomegranates, figs and fall foliage all make wonderfully simple decor.

Bring in cut branches from your yard, stop by a pick-your-own farm or scoop up fall’s bounty at a farm stand.

Browse the Houzz fall decorating page

Stackyard House

6. Maintain your wood stove or fireplace. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, it’s essential for safety that you have it serviced before lighting the first fire of the season. If you haven’t done so already, schedule an appointment to have your chimney inspected and, if necessary, cleaned.

Farmhouse Yellow

7. Check safety devices. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the house and replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on the kitchen fire extinguisher and replace it if needed.

2015 Kosair Children

8. Start a gift list. It may seem like the holidays are a long way off — but that’s why it pays to start getting organized now. Start a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to this year. Then, as ideas strike, jot them down on your list. You can also use your list to keep track of a holiday gifting budget. And if you want to make any gifts by hand, October is a great time to get started — handmade gifts always seem to take longer to make than expected.

Alderwood Landscape

9. Cover or store outdoor furniture and grills. If you plan to leave your patio furniture or grill outside through the fall and winter, cover them well and stow them beneath an overhang that will protect them from rain and snow. Even if you live in a mild climate, covering your grill between uses is a good idea to protect the finish.

Cherry Street Residence

10. Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses for winter. Disconnect, drain and roll hoses before storing them for the winter. Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets to prevent frozen pipes.

Tell us: What’s on your to-do list this October?