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5 Hacks to Dodge Home Improvement Scams

by Melissa Dierks

5 Hacks to Dodge Home Improvement Scams

Each summer, professional home improvement scammers roam the U.S. in search of victims. Scams include everything from offering unbelievable deals that end up with hidden fees to using low-quality materials and not doing quality work. If you’re in the market for making big repairs to your home, here’s 5 ways to dodge home improvement scams according to Consumer Reports, Inc.

1.) Get recommendations. Avoid contractors that contact you unsolicited. Don’t hire a contractor based solely on an ad in a local newspaper, even if you’re offered a big discount or another incentive. Get recommendations from friends, neighbors, or relatives.

2.) See what others are saying. Before hiring a contractor, check his or her work history with your state consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau. Search the Web using the company or individual’s name and such words as “reviews” and “complaints.”

3.) Check credentials. Verify with your state that the contractor has the required license or registration. Some states have funds that reimburse consumers who obtain judgments against licensed contractors.

4.) Know your rights. Some states give consumers three days or so to cancel home-improvement contracts. Under federal law you have three days to cancel most contracts that are signed in your home or outside the contractor’s regular place of business.

5.) Get everything in writing. Don’t rely on spoken promises. Demand a written contract, and get all warranties in writing, too.

Even the most seasoned home buyer is at risk of home improvement fraud so please be on the alert and share with friends and family.  If you’d like more information about how to dodge home improvement scams or if you’re ready to sell or buy a home in Phoenix, please contact The Regal Team today. We’ll help you navigate through each step of the process to assist you with making the best real estate investment decisions and find the perfect home for you!

Melissa Dierks

The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

7111 W Bell Road, Suite 101

Glendale, AZ 85308

(623) 229-0154

www.theregalteam.com

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3 Tips for Making Your Dream of Owning a Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check is one of the best ways to save without thinking much about it.
  • Living within a budget right now will help you save money for down payments while also paying down other debts that might be holding you back.
  • What are you willing to cut back on to make your dreams of homeownership a reality?

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills This Summer

by Melissa Dierks

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on utility bills and energy costs before you’re shocked by your first big bill this summer. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prepare your home (and your wallet) for the summer heat without sacrificing comfort. So, before you crank up the AC, take a look at our top ways to save on utility bills this summer. Your budget will thank you!

1. Get Your HVAC System Ready

Is there anything worse than a broken HVAC system in the summer? The good news is you can avoid this nightmare by taking precautions and getting your HVAC ready for summer. First, you’ll want to clean or change the air filters as dirty or clogged filters force your air conditioning system to work much harder, which in turn causes more wear and tear in the long-run. You’ll also want to inspect your outdoor unit for any visible signs of damage such as warped panels, torn insulation or rust. In the colder months, small animals may nest inside the insulation so you’ll want to inspect the inside as well. Taking these steps to ensure your AC unit is working efficiently will help keep your energy bills low this summer.

2. Clean Air Filters and Vents

Many homeowners make the mistake of closing off vents in rooms that are not being used, but closing vents causes more pressure in the ducts causing your air conditioner to work much harder. Before you turn the AC on this summer, open all the vents and give them a nice cleaning.

3. Keep Blinds Closed

Did you know that keeping your blinds closed during the day can drastically reduce the heat in your home? Keeping them open causes a greenhouse like effect—sunlight and heat pour in all day and can’t get out, making your home much warmer and causing your air conditioning to work over-time, which in turn will spike up your power bill.

4. Lower Your Utility Rates

Do you live in a deregulated energy region? If so, you have the power to choose your energy provider and can shop around for the lowest energy rates. If you haven’t researched your options in a while, summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your current energy provider and find out if there is a cheaper rate out there. Many deregulated energy providers offer special promotions in the summer, like “free nights,” so you should definitely check out what else is out there. To see if you live in a deregulated area, just enter your address here.

5. Time Your Thermostat

If you want to be cost conscious this summer, you shouldn’t blast your air conditioning at all hours of the day. A lower temperature setting at night and a higher setting during the day is recommended for optimal cost savings. If you’re forgetful or aren’t always around to change it, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule your temperature changes even when you aren’t home.

6. Switch to LED Bulbs

While incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they use more energy and produce quite a bit of heat compared to LED bulbs. LED bulbs tend to be a little more expensive than incandescent lights, but they last longer, produce less heat and create great energy savings in the long run. So, consider making the switch the LED lights, at least in the rooms you use most, to help lower your utility bills this summer.

7. Buy a Water Cistern

If you don’t know, a water cistern is a device that captures rain water and stores it for you to use to water your garden or lawn, to wash your car, etc. Your water bill can get out of hand in the summer as you spend more time outdoors, so a water cistern is a great investment if you want to keep your garden and lawn green all summer long without paying for extra water use.

8. Use Your Ceiling Fan

In the warmer months, you should run your ceiling fans counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the counter-clockwise motion will help pull the cold air up toward the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan efficiently will help cool your rooms, allowing you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, ultimately reducing your power bill.

9. Invest in Smart Power Strips

Connecting multiple appliances to a smart power strip that can be turned off with only one flip of a switch at night when the devices aren’t being used is a quick and easy way to help reduce energy waste. When you don’t have to unplug all your devices individually, saving energy suddenly becomes much easier!

10. Don’t Use an Irrigation Schedule

Irrigation schedules or timers that you can set to schedule when your garden or lawn will be watered sound nice in theory, but they actually produce quite a bit of water waste. You can’t control when it rains, and you may not be home to stop your irrigation system from going off when it does. Watering manually may seem like a chore, but when you think about all the money you can save from reducing water waste, manual watering becomes more appealing.

Don’t let the first utility bills of summer sneak up on you. Be proactive and implement our tips, we promise they’ll help you save big on your utility bills this summer!

Source: blog.rismedia.com

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com

The famous quote by Walt Whitman, “A man is not a whole and complete man, unless he owns a house and the ground it stands on,” can be used to describe homeownership in America today. The Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in America has been steadily climbing back up since hitting a 50-year low in 2016. The homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2018 was 64.2%, higher than last year’s 63.6%.

Homeownership: "A Man Is Not a Complete Man, Unless He Owns a House" | MyKCM

Chief Economist, Dr. Ralph McLaughlin, in his VUE Blog gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The trend is clear: the homeownership rate has been ticking up for five consecutive quarters, and the number of new renter households has fallen for four consecutive quarters. Owner-occupied households grew by 1.345 million from a year ago, while the number of renters actually fell by 286,000 households. 

The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households increased while renter households fell is a strong sign households are making a switch from renting to buying. This is a trend that multifamily builders, investors, and landlords should take note of.” 

 In a separate article comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, Realtor.com also concluded that the gap is now shrinking:

“The U.S. added 1.3 million owner households over the last year and lost 286,000 renter households, the fourth consecutive quarter in which the number of renter households declined from the same quarter a year earlier. That could pose challenges for apartment landlords, who are bracing this year for one of the largest infusions of new rental supply in three decades.” 

 America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a survey conducted by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

 The results:

 

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

 

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is, and always will be a crucial part of the American Dream.

Source: Keeping Current Matters and additional source links above

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com

Home-Buying Millennials Face Fresh Set of Struggles

by Melissa Dierks

An astounding 98 percent of home-buying millennials surveyed for the report are being kept out of the market, with barriers including credit (cited by 26 percent of millennials), a down payment (31 percent) and prices (40 percent).

Given the hurdles, millennials are compromising on their wants: 84 percent, for example, would give up a feature in their home so that they could buy in their desired location, the report reveals. (The No. 1 do-without feature? A garage, followed by a kitchen that has been updated.) By comparison, just 25 percent of boomer buyers and 35 percent of Generation X buyers would do the same. Strikingly, 24 percent of millennials would accept a higher crime rate in exchange for their ideal property.

The majority of millennials (89 percent), similarly, would give up a feature of their neighborhood so that they could buy their desired home, like activities (e.g., block parties), good schools and proximity to restaurants and shops. Only 15 percent of boomers and 22 percent of Gen Xers would follow suit.

“For millennials, the dream of homeownership is alive and well, but with prices going up and inventory continuing to shrink, this new generation of buyers are facing more obstacles than any other demographic,” says Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia. “With tight budgets and fewer choices on the market, most millennials are forced to make trade-offs, and are more willing than other generations to give up home and neighborhood features in order to find their ideal home.”

Aside from the concessions, many millennials are having to put off their search, the report shows. More than three-quarters (79 percent) have delayed their plans to purchase—a higher rate than both boomers (48 percent) and Generation Xers (64 percent). Across generations, however, the obstacles overlap: a not-so-distant 32 percent of Gen Xers and 36 percent of millennials delayed due to the down payment, and an almost-identical 26 percent of Gen Xers and 27 percent of millennials held off due to prices.

Beyond costs, millennials are postponing a purchase for fear of “not having a stable job”—a byproduct of coming up in the recession. Debt, however, is less of a roadblock; just 9 percent of millennials say student loans are stopping them.

Despite the hurdles, 86 percent of millennials are planning to purchase, and, of those, 35 percent are aiming to do so in the next year, and 57 percent are hoping to in the next two years, according to the report.

“In markets where the economy and job growth are thriving, we may see some of these financial challenges start to dissipate as millennials mature into their careers,” Young says. “If anything, millennials can hold out hope that the encouraging housing starts we saw in 2017 can lead to some relief in the starter home segment.”

Source: rismedia.com

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com

Which Remodeling Personality Type Are You?

by Melissa Dierks

What’s your home improvement persona: The Sensible Improver, the Project Planner, the Reliable Renovator, the Visionary, or the Extrovert? View this infographic from the Home Projects Council to learn the five main home remodeling personality types.

Source: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org

 

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.


 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com

Zen Design Takes Over Luxury Listings

by Melissa Dierks

More luxury buildings are trying to lure buyers by touting amenities focused on finding inner peace and lowering stress. The homes are touting everything from meditation courtyards with silken hammocks to open-air yoga studios and herbal gardens filled with calming plants. 

The rising popularity of wellness in real estate suggests that it’s working in attracting upscale home buyers. Luxury developers are offering morning yoga, mindfulness coaches, and meditation chambers. 

“It’s not just about physical health; people are also thinking of how our space affects us emotionally,” Katherine Johnson, senior research fellow at the Global Wellness Institute, told The Wall Street Journal. The Global Wellness Institute has studied the expansion of the wellness industry into the real estate market.  

In Palm Beach, Fla., the Amrit Ocean Resort and Residences will offer heated reflexology floors, circadian lighting systems, and vitamin C-infused showers once it opens in 2019. Each homeowner will be matched with a personal wellness consultant to advise them on mindfulness, sleep, fitness, and nutrition, says Dilip Barot, CEO and founder of the Creative Choice Group. The units will be priced from $700,000 to more than $4 million. 

A wellness-focused neighborhood in Serenbe, Ga., will feature a medicinal garden with edible native plants. Also, a naturalist will soon be leading workshops for residents on how to use plants for homeopathic remedies and tonics. 

“Being able to see green from every window—it’s fascinating to me how that really does impact your mood and well-being,” says Jeny Mathis, a homeowner who also teaches aerial yoga. In constructing her home, she and her husband Gil, a real estate agent, consulted Wellness With Your Walls, an organization that offers guidelines on building practices to reduce contaminants and toxins in the home. Mathis’ home also features soothing paint colors on the walls and avoids contrasting paint shades to create a sense of continuity and openness. 

Source: “Luxury Homes That Promise to Reduce Stress—for $4 Million,” The Wall Street Journal (April 19, 2018).

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com

Mortgage Rates Jump to 4-Year High

by Melissa Dierks

After mostly stagnant activity levels in recent weeks, mortgage rates are back on the move. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to its highest level since January 2014 this week, also seeing its largest weekly increase since February of this year, Freddie Mac reports. 

Average mortgage rates were higher across the board too, posting weekly increases to not only the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage but also to 15-year and 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages.

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages in mortgage rates for the week ending April 19: 

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.47 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 4.42 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.97 percent. 
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.94 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 3.87 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.23 percent. 
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.67 percent, with an average 0.3 point, increasing from last week’s 3.61 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.10 percent. 

Source: Freddie Mac

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com

Getting Pre-Approved Should Always Be Your First Step

by Melissa Dierks

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number 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, understanding 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.

 

Source: https://www.mykcm.com/2018/04/16/getting-pre-approved-should-always-be-your-first-step/

 

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com


Source:  Keeping Current Matters and additional source links above

10 of the hottest interior trends for Spring Summer 2018

by Melissa Dierks
Spring/Summer 2018 trends

Yes, it's still dark and dingy, but we have so much colour and texture to look forward to this spring and summer. 

Ice-cream pastels, glittery golds, indigo blues and super zingy colour pops, these are all trends for this year. Below, we show you our favourites and how to put them together in your home. 

1. EMBELLISHMENTS

Global Traveller range, Sainsbury's Home
SAINSBURY'S HOME

Macrame, fringing, tufting, tassels and feathers – you name it, it's here for this season and you'll see it on cushions, wall hangings, throws, rugs and accessories. This trend will add a wonderful handmade quality to each room, beautiful tactile cushions on the sofa and a sumptuous throw with tassels on the bed, and a wall-hanging or two on plain walls to add interest. 

2. ICE CREAM COLOURS

Valspar, from B&Q
VALSPAR

Gelato colours are going to be a huge trend in both interiors and fashion this year, but there's no reason to wait until spring, start investing in key pieces now and get ahead of the crowd. 'Choosing your favourite flavour of ice cream can be a bit like choosing your favourite paint colour,' explains Kasia Wiktorowicz, marketing communications manager, Valspar. 'So why only choose one when you can have them all, in a perfect palette of ice cream colours. You can even mix up paint colours to suit your tastes and match accessories by using our in-store colour matching technology.' Introduce these pretty colours on a single wall or multiple if you feel brave, and accessorise with pastelhued vases, dining chairs and tableware.

3. GEOMETRICS

Wall&Deco Wet System 16 - Batik, £156 per sq m, West One Bathrooms
WEST ONE BATHROOMS

Although we did see geometrics in 2017, it was mainly on cushions and rugs. This year it's all about tiles, wallpaper and art. Seen here is a bold design being used to striking effect, no, it's not tiles, it's actually a specially designed decorative membrane that is so watertight it can also be used directly on the walls of a shower or as a kitchen splashback.

4. FOLIAGE AND MORE FOLIAGE

Green sofa and greenery - plants

With increasing news of health benefits, the humble houseplant is fast becoming the must-have buy for our homes. And it seems the more the merrier, so pop down to your local garden centre and invest in some stunning plants. Place them in each room, use hanging plants for shelves and mantelpieces and some lovely leafy beauties for bare corners and coffee/side tables. Team them with some lush green pieces like this charming armchair, stylish pendants, a textured rug and some stripy green cushions for added interest. 

5. INDIGO BLUES

Indigo blue flowers, vase and backdrop
MARKS & SPENCER

As an antidote to the pastel tones, another colour trend is inky blues. If painting a whole room in one of these shades seems overwhelming then simply accessorise instead with vases and flowers. Pick different shapes in a mixture of styles, so some coloured glass and others embossed stoneware, like these seen here. Vary the heights and widths to create an interesting display. 

6. OMBRE

Holly double bed frame in pumice soft textured weave, £975, Button & Sprung
BUTTON & SPRUNG

Meaning 'to shade', this season you're going to see ombre in many different ways, from fabrics to cushions, rugs to bedding, and in a painterly watercolour style on lampshades, artwork and furniture. If you don't feel brave enough to try it yourself on walls, then source a wallpaper instead. Once you have chosen your colourway, co-ordinate your accessories to complement the wall colours using a mix of plains and prints. 

              7. GLITTERY GOLD

Swoon Editions
SWOON EDITIONS

Last year the metallic trend started to filter through into paints and metal finishes, this year gold is the key colour. Softer than silver, it brings its own elegance together with a sense of decadence. You'll see gold detailing like door knobs and handles, gold lamp bases and picture frames. We love this sideboard, mirror and pendant, the dramatic dark walls show them off to perfection and the bold electric blue chair adds a classy pop of colour. Sam Baldry, head of design at Swoon Editions, says: 'Mango wood furnishings with brass and gold leaf accents are an increasingly popular choice for the style-savvy customer. For a more subtle take, gold accessories are a sophisticated yet understated addition.'

8. COLOUR POPS

Colourful bedroom, Amara
AMARA

'Bold pops of colour is one of the strongest trends coming through for us this season. For A by Amara's SS18 collection we've focused heavily on a variety of strong shades that we feel will transform any living space and help reflect a personal style,' explains Sam Hood, founder and creative director of Amara. This trend is all about mixing bright colours together. It's strong, but easily manageable if you have one or two main colours to start with that 'ground' the rest of the look. For example, as shown here, it's the blue bedding and the neutral walls. The cushions, rug and curtains bring a zingy element to the scheme as well as the yellow light and the orange panel. Use textures to layer the look and don't be afraid to team patterns and stripes together. 

9. TROPICAL

House of Fraser - outdoor living, tropics
HOUSE OF FRASER

Punchy brights teamed with gold are the key to this happy trend. It will work both inside and out. To recreate this look layer different coloured linen tablecloths and use darker shades for the tableware. Choose tropical leaf print cushions to add a decorative touch. Jakki Pay, design director of fashion & home at House of Fraser, says: 'I love tropical prints – there's really no better way to create that summer party mood, and this season there are some brilliantly bold ones to choose from. Palm motifs are always popular and our in-house design team has scaled them up to create some really striking abstract prints. Pick out vibrant pinks and blues and you've created a tropical paradise in your back garden.

10. SHIMMERY FLOORS

Carpetright Westex Ultima Twist carpet in Scotch Mist, £41.99m2 (2)
CARPETRIGHT

A new concept for carpets – shimmer! Perfect for spring and summer, this new range has an iridescent finish that catches the light and can be teamed with shimmery wallpapers and decorative paint effects. This pretty blush rose colour is perfect for this new season and looks great with grey and pale blue. 'The trend for iridescence continues this spring and it's proving to be an adaptable decorating style. The combination of blush, grey and lilac tones with metallic and shimmering finishes offers a modern feel with the perfect balance between sophistication and vibrancy,' explains Jemma Dayman, buyer at Carpetright.

Source: housebeautiful.com

If you're looking to buy, sell, or invest in the Phoenix or surrounding area, CALL The Regal Team Today.

 

Melissa Dierks, Owner of The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals

Certified Military Residential Specialist

RE/MAX Hall of Fame

Direct: 623-229-0154

Email: melissa@theregalteam.com


Source:  Keeping Current Matters and additional source links above

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

Contact Information

Photo of The Regal Team Real Estate
Melissa Dierks
The Regal Team of RE/MAX Professionals
7111 W Bell Road, Suite 101,
Glendale AZ 85308
Direct: (623)229-0154
Office: (623)643-1092
Fax: (623)201-7562

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