Regardless of how clean your home looks, and how often you use the disinfectant wipe, those sneaky little germs still hide in your home. Of course, some surfaces always have germs simply because multiple people handle them throughout the day. These include faucets, outlets, and switch-plate covers, doorknobs and stair railings. You know to wipe these down, especially in cold and 'flu' season.
No matter how clean you are, though, some germs, fungi or bacteria hide in unsuspected places. A study by NSF International (an independent public health organization) points to dangerous Salmonella, Coliform, E. coli, and even human fecal matter on innocent-appearing surfaces in the average home. Other studies revealed Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus, and even streptococcus hiding in plain sight. When you’re making up your housekeeping to-do list, consider giving these items special attention to root out the nasty bugs hiding in your house:
- Toothbrushes and toothbrush holder: If your toothbrush holder sets on the bathroom counter, microscopic droplets can land on it after every toilet flush, depositing bacteria and yeast fungi. The NSF study also showed toothbrush holders harbor mold too.
- Hand and bath towels: Surveys show most people do not change their hand or bath towels as often as they should. Testing reveals towels harbor E. coli after only two days.
- Lavatory faucet handles: Just think about it, you use the restroom, then touch the fixture with your dirty hands. Even after you wash them, if you use your hands to turn off the faucet you just re-deposit the germs back onto your hands. Lever-style faucets allow you to turn them off with an elbow or arm, but for the best option, think about installing hands-free faucets.
- Kitchen sink: One of the most essential surfaces in your home, the kitchen sink harbors both mold and bacteria. For best results, disinfect your sink and garbage disposal two to three times each week.
- Dish sponges or rags: When you use a cloth or sponge, you might just be wiping more germs back onto the surface than you remove. Change dishcloths frequently and clean sponges in the dishwasher or microwave.
- Countertops: (see above)
- Cutting boards: Food particles remain on wood or bamboo cutting boards, and any boards that develop grooves. Always wash off cutting boards, and periodically clean them with disinfectant or a bleach solution.
- Tea or coffee maker: Most avid coffee or tea-drinkers clean the carafe between brews, but germs can hide in and around the basket holding the grounds or drip/espresso mechanisms. If water sits in a reservoir, it can breed germs too. Periodically run a mild bleach solution (1 ounce of bleach to 1 gallon of water) through your brewing machines.
- Pet bowls: No matter what myth you've heard about dogs' mouths having fewer germs than humans, a pet's dish can test positive for salmonella and E. coli even if you cleaned it in the dishwasher.
We live with germs all the time, but sometimes we don’t notice them or the odors they carry. If you’re preparing your home for sale, consider hiring a professional house cleaner to give your home the best showing.
No one should be forced to break the bank to secure a terrific house. However, a first-time homebuyer may be more likely than others to overspend on a residence, particularly if he or she fails to understand the ins and outs of the housing market.
Lucky for you, we're here to teach you what it takes to browse the real estate market effectively so you can find a house that matches your budget.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help a first-time homebuyer purchase an affordable residence.
1. Examine the Housing Market Closely
Many great houses are available, and a first-time homebuyer should review a broad range of residences closely. By doing so, this homebuyer can establish a price range for his or her home search.
Evaluate the prices of residences that are currently available in your city or town. That way, you can find out what it costs to afford a home that may serve you well both now and in the future.
Also, assess the prices of recently sold residences in your area. With this housing market data in hand, you can find out whether you're about to enter a buyer's market or seller's market and plan accordingly.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Pre-approval for a mortgage can help you map out a homebuying budget before you enter the real estate market. Thus, getting pre-approved for a mortgage can make a world of difference for any first-time homebuyer, at any time.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with several banks and credit unions in your area. These lenders can teach you about different mortgage options and help you select one that corresponds with your budget.
In addition, be sure to ask plenty of questions about potential mortgage options before you make your final mortgage decision. This will allow you to understand the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and choose a mortgage that can help you avoid the temptation to overspend on a residence.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to pursuing a house for the first time, don't leave anything to chance. Instead, collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can streamline the process of purchasing an affordable residence.
A real estate agent helps take the guesswork out of looking for residences. He or she will keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and set up home showings on your behalf. Plus, this housing market professional will do whatever it takes to guarantee you can obtain an affordable house that surpasses your expectations.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will help you alleviate stress throughout the homebuying journey. And if you encounter challenging negotiations with a home seller, a real estate agent will step in and help you get the best price for a residence – without exception.
Ready to purchase a house for the first time? Use these tips, and you can acquire an affordable residence that you can enjoy for years to come.
If you plan to sell your house, you should be proactive. Because, in most cases, a proactive home seller is a successful home seller.
With a proactive approach, a home seller can find unique ways to differentiate his or her house from the competition. That way, this home seller can boost his or her chances of a quick, profitable home sale.
Now, let's take a look at three best practices for proactive home sellers.
1. Upgrade Your Home's Interior and Exterior
Ensure your house looks great both inside and out. By doing so, you can guarantee your residence will make a long-lasting impression on homebuyers.
When it comes to improving your home's interior, it pays to mop the floors, wipe down the walls and ceilings and perform assorted home interior maintenance. If you need extra help along the way, you can always hire a professional home cleaning company as well.
To upgrade your home's exterior, you should mow the lawn, remove dirt and debris from walkways and perform any necessary home siding repairs. Remember, your house only gets one chance to make a positive first impression. And if your home's exterior dazzles, it will increase the likelihood that a buyer will want to set up a home showing.
2. Conduct a Home Appraisal
What you paid for your house a few years ago is unlikely to match your home's value today. Luckily, a home appraisal can help you set a competitive price for your residence from day one.
During a home appraisal, a professional appraiser will examine your home's interior and exterior. He or she also will evaluate assorted housing market data and use all of this information to provide a property valuation.
After you receive a home appraisal report, you should review the report findings closely. By leveraging all of the report data, you should have no trouble establishing a competitive price for your residence.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
If you want to be a proactive home seller, you need to work with a real estate agent. In fact, a real estate agent will do everything possible to help you accelerate the home selling process and ensure you can get the best price for your house.
A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of selling a home and will teach you about the home selling journey. Plus, he or she will learn about your home selling goals and guarantee you can accomplish your aspirations.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to set up home showings and open houses, promote your residence to potential buyers and negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf. And if you have home selling questions, a real estate agent is happy to answer them.
There is no need to take a wait-and-see approach to selling your home. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can become a proactive home seller.
A persistent home seller may go above and beyond the call of duty to promote his or her residence to potential homebuyers. And as a property buyer, it is up to you to decide whether to proceed with a home purchase or walk away from a persistent home seller altogether.
Ultimately, dealing with a persistent home seller can be challenging, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of negotiating with a persistent home seller.
Here are three tips to help you get the best results during a negotiation with a persistent home seller.
1. Learn About the Housing Market
Although a persistent home seller wants to do everything possible to find a buyer for his or her residence, it is important for a homebuyer to determine whether a residence is worth the price. As such, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about the real estate market.
Look at the prices of available homes that are similar to the one that you're currently considering. By doing so, you can determine a price range for your home search.
Also, check out the prices of recently sold houses in your city or town. This housing market data will help you determine whether you're operating in a buyer's or seller's market so you can plan accordingly.
2. Establish Realistic Expectations
It is common for homebuyers and home sellers to negotiate with one another. However, it is essential to establish realistic expectations before you enter a homebuying negotiation; otherwise, a homebuyer may struggle to acquire his or her dream residence at an affordable price.
For example, a homebuyer who expects a home seller to accommodate all of his or her requests may be disappointed if a property seller submits a counter-proposal. Conversely, a homebuyer who keeps an open mind and listens to a home seller's concerns can determine the best course of action.
Also, it is important to remember that a homebuyer can walk away from a persistent home seller at any time. This means if you feel uncomfortable with the price or other terms associated with a home purchase, you can step back and restart your search for the perfect house.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you are uncertain about how to deal with a persistent home seller, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent for extra help.
Typically, a real estate agent can act as a liaison between a property buyer and seller. This housing market professional will do whatever it takes to ensure a negotiation fulfills the needs of all sides. Plus, he or she can provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations to help you make informed decisions throughout the property buying journey.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will answer any of your homebuying questions, at any time. This housing marketing professional understands what it takes to deal with a persistent home seller, and as a result, will do everything to help you simplify the homebuying cycle.
Ready to acquire your dream home? Use these tips, and you should have no trouble buying a house from a persistent home seller.
Just because your new house doesn’t have room for a gym doesn’t mean you can’t get a workout there. Items all over your home make perfect gym props, so all you need is a little floor space—no special rooms required.
The most natural workout in your home is to use the stairs. If you have more than one floor, design your day so that you make several trips up and down the stairs. No, don't practice economy by trying to get everything in one load. Instead, make multiple trips and get all those steps in for the day. Work it fast for cardio or carry loads to build muscle. Either way, your steps are your workout friend.
If you don’t have a second story or basement to get your workout in gear, a single porch or patio step does nicely for an aerobic step workout. Just make sure your step’s tread is deep enough that you can keep your balance as you step on and off.
Another built-in prop is the kitchen (or bathroom) counter. In just a few strategic minutes a day, you can tone your core, chest, and arms. Place your hands on the countertop—about shoulder-width apart—and step back with your feet until your feet are as far as they can reach while flat on the floor. Creating a straight line from head to toe and with arms fully extended, press into the counter as you bend your elbows and allow your weight to shift to your toes. Do two or three sets of 10-15 “push-ups” as you stand in the kitchen waiting for your coffee to brew or dinner to cook.
Provided that your shower has a non-skid floor, get in a few reps of wall presses as you take your morning rinse.
Other items on hand
- Cans: No need to buy costly weights. Add a full can in each hand as you do your steps to increase your workout.
- Jugs: Milk, juice, or laundry soap jugs work great for getting a good arm workout. Try bicep curls or overhead presses. Just in case you drop one, though, it's better to re-fill an empty one with water rather than the one fresh from the store. A full milk jug supplies about eight and a half pounds to each arm: for best results, use identical jugs left and right.
- Chairs: Give yourself a full-body workout with a sturdy chair (kitchen or dining room chairs that don’t tip when you press on the back). Standing in front of the seat, facing away and about one foot in front of the chair, slowly lower yourself toward the chair and grab the seat with your hands. Raise and lower your body to give your arms and core some love. Or, stand beside the chair back and use it as a support when you lift one leg out to the side, front, and back.
- You: Remember that your body weight is the perfect piece of equipment for toning and strengthening exercise. Check out online Pilates, yoga, Zumba, or kickboxing routines or do your squats, pushups, burpees, or lunges.
If a full home gym is on your wish list, reach out to your real estate professional to keep an eye out for the perfect setup for you.