July 22, 2019

Small Rent Raising Improvements

No matter what type of rental property you’re dealing with, what most investors are looking for is a way to maximize the rent and to keep the tenants as long as possible. To achieve that, you need to put more time and effort into home improvements than before. In other words, a fresh coat of paint on the walls and a clean carpet just won’t cut it. You need to put some thought into rental property upgrades that won’t cost you a fortune but will raise the value of your property and pay off in the long run. Here are some useful ideas on how to improve your property value and get the best return on your investment.


1. Replace your plumbing fixtures.

Upgrading all faucets, both in the kitchen and the bathroom, will undoubtedly give your property a more polished look. Faucets, sinks, and sprayers tend to get dingy and out of date quickly. What’s more, they can make the entire room look repelling. Since we’re talking about kitchen and bathroom which are the rooms most associated with hygiene and cleanliness, old faucets may turn down potential tenants even if everything else in the apartment is brand new. Investing in new plumbing fixtures will give a new look to your rental property and also boost your home’s value. There’s a great variety of options to choose from. Depending on your overall decor style, you can go for a classic chrome finish or something more refined like oil-rubbed bronze or brushed nickel.

2. Upgrade the floors.

When it comes to floors, there’s a battle between carpets and wooden floors. No matter how strong the pro-carpet arguments are, the wooden floors always win. First of all, there’s a wide range of options to explore. From laminate, hardwood, bamboo or plank to faux wood, you can make your choice depending on how much money you’re willing to spend. Wooden floors are absolute winners when it comes to maintenance since the carpets need to be cleaned now and then. Not to mention that one stain can ruin it forever. Another great thing about the wooden floors is that it’s fantastic for people who have allergies caused by carpet dust. When it comes to kitchen and bathroom, ditch the linoleum and replace it with ceramic tiles. It will be a major turn-on for renters.

3. Give your walls a fresh coat of paint.

Nothing brightens up space more than freshly painted walls. Not only will it remove the dirt and stains on the walls, but it will make the room brighter and livelier than before. When it comes to choosing the right color for your rental property, the general rule of thumb is – the brighter the better. This is especially true for countries like Australia that have more than 300 sunny days per year where people want to incorporate that natural light into their homes. If you’d rather leave the job for the professionals, look for some local qualified painting services that will offer high-quality workmanship and affordable prices. By doing this, you’ll make sure that the job has been done perfectly plus it’ll leave you more time to deal with other important things.

4. Make more room for storage.

If you want your rental property to stand out in the sea of offers, you have to think like a renter. One of the things that will put your place high on the list of desirable rental properties is storage. It is undeniably one of the top priorities for renters, so investing in it will boost your property value. If your budget and space allow you, install permanent shelving in the garage. Built-in shelves or in-wall storage will attract the renters and it will give you the possibility to maximize the rent. Even some small and simple ideas can make a change. We suggest you add some hooks to key areas and install closet organizing systems. This will make the whole property more put together.

5. Invest in new countertops.

Upgraded countertops will boost your kitchen’s appeal and increase the value of your property. Depending on how much you’re willing to splurge, there’s a great variety of options to choose from. Granite is always a good choice, but if you want the more high-end product then opt for quartz or marble. The more you invest in your countertops, the more durable and functional they’ll be.

Investing in your rental property doesn’t have to be a splurge. The key is deciding what to invest into so that you can maximize your rent and keep the tenants for a longer time. Following these tips will get you clued up about all the important improvements you need to make to achieve that goal.

July 17, 2019

Five Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly for the Summer

During the summer, many of us tend to waste more electricity, water, and plastic materials than we do during any other part of the year. To compensate for high temperatures outside, we blast the air conditioning to stay cool. We fill water balloons, top off the pool, guzzle cold water bottles, and take more showers. 

As a result, we spend a lot on our utilities, and we waste a lot. There are several steps you can take to make your home more eco-friendly over these next few months. Here are five ways you can embrace “green” practices while also reaping the financial benefits of avoiding waste.  

1. Invest in a Programmable or Smart Thermostat 

A programmable thermostat can save you at least 20 percent on energy costs. Smart thermostats can save you even more by giving you the capability to change the temperature when you’re not at home. Not only will this lower your utility bills, but it will also prevent you from being wasteful with your AC during the summer. Saving money during the warm months can be a struggle. You can get yourself up to speed with an air conditioning guide on the best practices. 

Additionally, a programmable or smart thermostat makes your home more comfortable. You can be precise about your temperatures while you’re at home, at work, or on vacation. The last thing you want to do is pour tons of money into your air conditioning while you’re not even in the building. 

2. Hang Drapes or Install Curtains Over Your Windows

During the summer, about 76 percent of the sunlight that comes through your windows turns into heat. Don’t underestimate the powerful protection of a simple window covering. Whether you install blinds or black-out curtains, blocking the sunlight can drastically lower your waste of energy. Plus, you want to protect your home and furnishings from the harsh sunlight that streams inside. 

3. Be Careful About Your Water Usage

When temperatures rise outside, water use often does, too. You’re watering your lawn frequently, taking more showers, and filling pools. Be conscious of how much of this water you’re actually wasting. 

Now is the perfect time to compare your current amount of water usage to your usage during the winter. If you notice that your water bill is skyrocketing, it may be due to a leak, waste, wind, evaporation, or runoff from over-watering. 

4. Begin Recycling, Even if Your Neighborhood Doesn’t 

Think about all of the plastic you use during the summer – those plates at your cookouts, the frozen drinks that come in convenient one-use bottles, all of the empty sunscreen bottles littering your backyard. These are just some of the things you could be recycling in an effort to make your home more eco-friendly. Although many apartment complexes and neighborhoods don’t offer a recycling service, you can always start one yourself. 

To learn how to start a recycling program, check out this article from HomeGuides

5. Install Lights That Automatically Turn Off 

Did you know that the IDA estimates that we waste at least 30 percent of our outdoor lighting? There’s no need to leave your porch light on all night, even when you’re out late during the summer. Instead, install an automatic light that turns on whenever you approach. 

Automatic lights are a great idea for your indoor rooms, too. By only using lights when you’re actually home, and automatically turning them off when you leave the room, you’ll help prevent the overproduction of carbon dioxide. Plus, you’ll save more on your electricity bill. No more worries about leaving the lights off when you go to work or leave for a summer getaway

In Conclusion 

These five steps might not seem like big acts, but every little bit counts when it comes to making our homes eco-friendly. Whether you live in an apartment or a house, you can use these tips to save money and protect nature.

Even though summer is here, it’s not too late! Start implementing these changes now to reap the benefits during the rest of the season.

Amy McConaghy is Reliance Home Comfort’s Digital Marketing Specialist, managing the editorial, video and visual content creation for all digital platforms. Amy’s writing is focused on bringing energy and money-saving tips to Canadians and answering homeowners' questions about all their home comfort needs. You can find Amy on LinkedIn.

July 12, 2019

Prepare for Your Move by Packing Like a Pro

A huge part of knowing how to prepare for a move is knowing how to pack. What do you do with all those necklaces? How do you keep those electric cables organized? Here are our best tips and hacks to prepare you for packing like a pro.

Purchase the right packing supplies

Moving is expensive enough without wasting money on supplies you don’t need. For example, you’re going to want the right kind of boxes to fit your personal items. Have a lot of books but very few hanging clothes? Buying the appropriate shape and size of boxes can make all the difference when packing up your home.


Know how to pack tricky items

Some items are harder to pack than others. Know how to wrap and pack your fragile belongings so they make it to your new home in one piece. Try packing your jewelry in plastic wrap, take photos of your electronics before unplugging them, and learn to pack your food like a grocer. And remember, always accurately label your boxes. You don’t want your books landing on your glassware.

Prepare to move by paring down

Unless you’re a true minimalist, chances are you don’t need everything you own. Prepare to move by going through your belongings and getting rid of what you don’t need. Hold a garage sale or a yard sale and donate anything that’s left at the end of the day.

Pack in the right order

As long as you aren’t moving in a hurry, you can start to pack up your home in stages. If you want to know how to prepare for a DIY move, much of your planning is in the packing. Start boxing up any off-season clothes and items that you rarely use as early as you can, especially if you aren’t going to use them before you move. The last items on your packing list should be your important documents, moving day dog kit, and your “open first” box which contains the essentials for the first days in your new home.

Prepare to move with the professionals

Choosing a moving company can be daunting, but knowing what to expect can significantly help.  Make sure you ask the right questions to moving companies and get multiple estimates before making your selection.

Interview moving companies

When it comes time to interview potential moving companies, asking the right questions is crucial. Be sure to get to know the company’s history and their licensing information. 

Understand the rules of professional moving

Before your moving company arrives, you should know what can and cannot go in the moving truck. Flammable items, for example, are not allowed in the vehicle and you should keep important documents with you when you move, not in the back of the truck. Once you select your moving company, figure out how much to tip your moving company and withdraw the correct amount of cash the day before your move.

originally published by

Posted in Moving
June 28, 2019

The Ultimate Moving Checklist - Post-Move

You’ve finally got all of your belongings into your new home, but don’t lose steam now! You’re in the final stretch of your new home checklist and there’s just a couple more essentials to get through. It’s a good idea to set a daily (or weekly) goal for yourself when it comes to these final steps. Be realistic, stick to your schedule, and you’ll be settled in before you know it.


1. Recruit family and friends to unpack

The more hands on deck the better. Those first few days of unpacking can be made a whole lot easier if you recruit (or rather, entice with food and drink) a couple of close friends for the first big haul. To make the process run smoother, set deadlines and figure out the most logical order of unpacking. Before you know it, your new home will actually start looking like, well, a home.

2. Change your locks

Who knows what the previous owners did with their keys? Whether you hire a locksmith or reinstall the locks on your own, it’s a simple task and it will give you peace of mind. You’re always better off safe than sorry.

3. Locate shut-off valves

In the event that there is an emergency leak or you’re doing repairs and you need to shut off your water, it’s necessary to locate your shut-off valves. Many houses and apartment buildings have a number of cut-off points to stop the water at its source. From your own shut-off valve, to your water company’s shut off valve, to the water meter, there many locations to get familiar with both inside and potentially outside your home.

4. Locate the circuit-breaker

Although uncommon, every once in a while you may need to replace a fuse or reset a circuit breaker. If there’s a power outage, you don’t want to be searching through the dark to find it. Common locations for circuit breakers are outdoors, in basements, in storage closets, or in hallways. Also be sure you know the difference between a circuit-breaker and a fuse box, in the event you need to restore power.

5. Set up your home security system

Moving is one of the best times to set up home security. If you already have a system in place or are tied to a contract, be sure to call your provider or update your information online. Smart or DIY home security systems are a great option for renters and homeowners who want more flexibility, so take some time to shop around if you’re selecting your first home security system.

6. Decide on a lock-out solution

You will get locked out of your house every once in a blue moon, it happens! What’s important is that you have a backup plan for when the time comes. Some common ideas are to hide a key under your doormat or to install a garage code (that is if you have a garage), but you can be as creative as you’d like. Maybe you have a buddy down the street who holds on to an extra set, or you’ve slid it under a planter. Whatever the case, be prepared!

7. Test your smoke detectors

Installing a smoke detector is an easy and inexpensive way to protect you and your loved ones in the event of a fire. However, smoke detectors can fail you when you need them most if you don’t address their malfunctions. This is why testing your new home’s smoke detectors is so important. Light a match or spray a smoke test aerosol in front of its sensor every month to ensure it’s

8. Check out your HVAC system

Your HVAC system, (A/C and furnace) is a necessity, and an expensive one at that. For the sake of heat, cooling, and big bucks, it’s important that yourself, a property manager, or a technician checks out your HVAC system in the weeks following your move. Inspect your heating and cooling units, insulation, and ducts, for warning signs that something’s off. If it looks like repairs or
replacements are needed, get on top of them as soon as you can. Although it’s a pain, it’s a worthwhile investment!

9. Create a home maintenance checklist

It’s a good idea to perform seasonal maintenance checks to ensure your new home is in good shape. Some of these maintenance checks you may not have had to do at your previous home. Things like cleaning the gutters, landscaping, unclogging bathroom drains, or checking up on snow plow services may be relevant to you now, so you should gather the contact info from local services for when the time comes.

10. Find a spot for a safe

Remember those important documents we mentioned before? They’ll need a new home too. If you don’t already have a trusty safe or filing cabinet, it’s a good idea to invest in one. Even more so, it’s important to find a spot for them. Some common areas for safes are in closets, attics, basements, but there’s room for creativity here also. Hardcover books, freezers, brick walls – whatever sneaky spot will keep your private information on lock. Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have room for a massive safe, it doesn’t mean
your valuables should be left unsecured. Use your imagination and protect your possessions.

11. Start a take-out menu file or drawer

We guarantee that you will be ordering a lot of take-out within the first few weeks of your move-in. Any free time you have will solely consist of unpacking and redecorating, not cooking. Treat yourself and get a taste of local eats take-out style. Save menus and bookmark your favorites in a take-out file for you to reference later on. Or just throw all the menus in a drawer. That works too.

12. Throw a housewarming party

Last but not least on our new home checklist, the infamous housewarming party! Once you’re done unpacking, save any energy you have left for this shindig. Setting a date for a housewarming party also sets a great unpacking deadline for you to follow. So many new homeowners beat themselves up over tiny improvements and repairs instead of celebrating their hard work. Don’t make that mistake. Trust us, you’re going to have plenty of time in your new home to put in more work. Instead, invite your closest family and friends over for a great time. Start making memories!

Posted in Home, Moving
June 14, 2019

The New Home Checklist: Pre-Move Essentials

Congrats on the new home! You’re probably excited, exhausted, and in need of somewhere to start – sounds like a job for our new home checklist.

Let’s cut to the chase, the new home journey can be overwhelming. You’re excited to start your new life, but getting there can feel like a lifetime of preparation. From cable to comforters to crock-pots, there’s a lot that goes into moving into a new home. If you don’t stay organized, move-in day can be a total bust. It’s common to worry, but lucky for you, this ultimate new home checklist will put your mind at ease and simplify the moving process.


1. Transfer utilities

Before you can move into your new home and get comfortable, you need to set up your physical utilities: water, gas, and electricity. Depending on where your new home is located, you may or may not have some say in which company you work with. Although physical utilities companies are usually timely about activation, the sooner you notify them of your move-in date, the better. This is especially true if they’re in the midst of moving season when they’re working with a ton of accounts.

2. Connect TV and internet

No one likes moving into a dead zone. Make sure you’re up and running before move-in day by setting up services that work for you. Do your homework in order to know where you stand in order to compare pricing and figure out what service providers will best suit your needs. Schedule installation at least 2-3 weeks in advance to ensure that your services are activated in a timely manner and to also get the appointment slot that is most convenient for you.

3. Update your address

Your address is connected to so many aspects of your life that you may not even realize. From forwarding your mail, to maintaining subscriptions and loyalty programs, to banks and credit cards, to insurance, to checkbooks, to car registration and driver’s licenses… We think you get the point. When you update your address, you update your life! Not sure how to go about doing this? No worries, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about updating your address.

4. Gather important documents

You know those super important documents that sit and collect dust in your filing cabinet? They have to come along for the ride too. We’re talking birth certificates, social security cards, medical records, insurance policies, and anything else of that nature. Now’s the time to purge what you don’t need and label and organize everything that you do. Grab your shredder and some banker’s boxes and get to work! Important documents are items that cannot be overlooked on your new home checklist.

5. Take photos of valuable items

Moving your valuables is nerve-racking, but if you take proper precautions you’ll be more than fine. A good method of damage control is creating a valuables inventory and taking photos of each item. This could be anything from your grandmother’s antique mirror to your TV and computer monitor. By taking photos of these items, you have proof of their original condition in the event that they are damaged during the move. No matter how careful or responsible your moving company is, accidents can happen so moving insurance is worth looking into.

6. Research local businesses

When you move to a different town or state, it’s good to get the lay of the land of local businesses. Chances are you won’t be frequenting the businesses you usually do anymore, so you’ll want to explore your new options. From a new doctor, to a new hairdresser, to new landscapers, you’ll have to do quite a bit of research. Apps like Yelp can show you reviews, recommendations, and photos of local businesses to help you make educated decisions.

7. Take off from work

Within the first few days of your move, not only will you be unpacking a sea of boxes, but you’ll also be waiting on deliveries, repairs, and installations. It’s a good idea to notify your employer that you’ll be moving so you have ample time to coordinate these appointments before you head back into the office. The 48 hours post-move is crucial to getting (somewhat) settled, so make sure you plan and schedule accordingly.

8. Schedule a cleaning

Before you move your furniture, it’s a good idea to clean all the nooks and crannies of your new home. Chances are, the previous owner didn’t take the time to thoroughly clean it for your arrival (at least not to your standards), so schedule a cleaning service to come in and do a thorough once-over. With all the effort that you’re putting into your new home, you deserve a spotless canvas!

9. Schedule home improvements

Repairs and home improvements are an inevitable part of moving into a new home (whether an apartment or a house). There are some repairs that require more attention than others (i.e. leaky plumbing, windows that don’t lock, etc). It’s necessary that these are taken care of beforehand by either the previous owner or your property management company. If they aren’t, get on that ASAP! But maybe you just want to paint an accent wall or install built-in bookcases, these are the kind of home improvements you’re in charge of. You should schedule these improvements ahead of time so you’re not worrying about them come move-in day. Get the messy stuff out of the way first, it’ll make your life way easier.

10. Prepare to pack

As you inch closer to move-in day, start to throw out or donate things you don’t need and take note of what needs to be replaced. Keep the layout and measurements of your new home in mind as this could mean more or less space for your belongings. Save money by collecting free moving boxes from local businesses and retailers or use laundry bins, suitcases, and large bags to transport items. It’s also a good idea to label or color coordinate all boxes according to what room they go in to expedite the process for your moving company. Lastly, an open-first box is a must! You should include in this box everything you need to survive the first 24 hours in your new home. Think air mattress, a fresh outfit, a toothbrush, some snacks, water, and extra cash. You will thank yourself when the time comes. Trust us, it’s a not-to-be-missed item on your new home checklist!

June 3, 2019

Hosting the Ultimate Summer Bash

Summer is here and your backyard is calling your name after the long winter months. From pool parties to a neighborhood BBQ, it is always fun to get together with family and friends to enjoy good food, games and sunshine. Hosting an event, although fun, can get stressful fast so next time you are planning your next summer bash take a look at these tips!


Food: On the bright side…you don’t have to think too hard about the menu for a summer party as many people are expecting the traditional backyard grub, but try to make it fun with a few new staples.

Add some color to the table with fresh fruit and vegetables paired with some killer dips. Try dipping flavors not many people have like a spicy chipotle hummus or a sweet dip for the fruit like cookie dough. You also want to make sure you have more than just hamburgers and hot dogs for the main dishes. Try to have a vegetarian or vegan option for guests like sweet potato and pepper kabobs. Also maybe you want to be adventurous and try something like salmon on the grill.

Drinks: Make the party fun with some signature cocktails or “mocktails” to celebrate the new summer season. Sangria or frozen cocktails are great for a refreshing beverage for adults and the kids can enjoy slushies!

In addition, having a cooler full of water and soda will ensure that every guest has something to wash down that delicious food with and keep hydrated in the heat.

Games: It’s all fun and games during the summer months! Buying classic yard games like croquet, bocce ball or ladder toss are all good ones to keep on hand. You may also want to provide some playing cards for the tables in case those sitting want something to entertain themselves too.

If you are having a pool party, get some small squirt guns or water balloons for everyone to enjoy. Remember these will always have more clean up than land games though.

Best party set-up: The most important thing when hosting a summer party outdoors is having a space for your guests to cool off and escape the heat. This could either be opening your home and letting people hangout indoors for a bit or setting up umbrellas or shade tents in the yard. Also remember to buy extra ice and cooking fuel! Nothing ruins a good cook-out like hot drinks and cold food.

Some other things to consider is providing sunscreen or bug spray to your guests to keep them safe, especially for little ones as they are often prone to sunburns and bug bites.

Music: If you don’t have a musical ear, go ahead and put someone else in charge of a playlist! There are plenty of pre-made “songs for the summer” playlists on streaming services or free platforms like YouTube, but it can also be fun to make your own. Pick songs that are chill and happy but also appropriate for all ages if children are attending.

Whether it’s a family barbecue or a pool party for your closest friends, take these tips to make sure your summer bash will be the envy of parties for the rest of the sunshine season.

Posted in Home
May 22, 2019

Moving in the Summer: How to Get Through the Heat

Moving is never the most fun task in the world, and moving in the summer is no joke. But with school out, more flexible vacation time, and less extreme weather conditions, moving in the summer is often the best option. With the heat and humidity that southern summers bring, there are some things you should keep in mind when making your summertime move. Here are some of our best tips for moving in the summer and surviving the southern heat.


Have a plan

First thing’s first: it’s important to have a plan. As with all moves, you should create a plan for yourself and the others you are moving with in order to make sure your summertime move goes the smoothest possible. Consider how the weather will impact your move, whether you will be hiring movers or enlisting the help of friends or loved ones, and how much time you will need to move from your old place to your new home. If you are more flexible with your moving dates, consider moving before the end of May or after Labor Day for the best weather and rates.

Get started early and move on the least busy days of the week

As you create a moving plan for the summer, you’ve got to keep in mind the summer weather and traffic conditions when deciding when to make the big move. By getting started early in the day, you can beat the heat and humidity before the afternoon hits. Additionally, try to plan your move for the middle of the week when roads tend to be the least busy. The weekends, Mondays, and Fridays tend to have the most traffic, as vacationers travel the most on those days.

Don’t risk your health

You should always keep your personal health in mind when moving, but it’s especially important to take care of yourself when moving in the summer heat. Know the signs of overheating and take breaks throughout the day to prevent yourself from overdoing it. Stay hydrated by monitoring your water intake and bring enough water with you to last you throughout the whole move. You can even prepare multiple coolers full of ice to bring with you in each vehicle, and also bring a first aid kit with medicine and sunscreen. You should also wear light, breathable clothing, as you can feel even hotter when moving in the summer.

Turn on your utilities early

As you prepare to move from one home to another, you should make sure your utilities be on so that you can use the air conditioning during the move. Keep your AC on in your old home as you move items out of it, and ensure that your utilities will be on when you arrive at the new home so you can use the AC there, as well. This will make the summertime moving process a lot easier on your body and your possessions.

Take extra care of items that don’t do well in the heat

Summers can bring humidity and heat that isn’t necessarily good for all of your possessions. Things like electronics, batteries, plants, perishables, and other items can overheat easily, expire, or become damaged in heat and humidity. Remember to take precautions when moving these items and make your more sensitive possessions a priority as you move to your new home.

This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. The point of view and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Realty Executives International. This post was written by Bailee Abell. Bailee Abell is a writer born and raised in California. A graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, she loves reading classic literature, sipping warm beverages, and visiting theme parks every chance she gets. Find her at

Posted in Buying Advice, Home, Moving
May 21, 2019

How to Utilize Small Spaces in Your Home

In the wake of changing mindsets over large homes and the shift to sustainable living, un-used space has become a “no no” in the home design industry.  These changes emanate from low-impact living and the need to have a cheaper living space that still meets an individual’s needs. Small space living has been the best option for many cities and even suburban dwellers. For this reason, there have been many emerging interior design tricks developed to get the most out of your common spaces. All these tricks come in handy whether an individual aims at increasing the functionality of the room or is looking at living on a smaller scale.


Reducing Clutter and Adopting Storage Solutions

The first step to maximizing space in a small house is the most important; reducing clutter and organizing all items in the space. Clutter refers to unnecessary things, as well as items that are wrongly placed in the house. Reducing clutter is important as it enables a user to have extra space for different purposes. Unfolded clothes, folders and books, shoes, electronics and even utensils should be placed in their designated places in order to reduce clutter and increase space in the house. Additionally, adopting storage solutions that maximize the space left is essential. An example of storage solutions includes utilizing spaces under or behind the bed. These solutions help increase the available space and improve the organization of the house.

Bedroom Space

The most essential space in the house is the bedroom. The bed is obviously a necessity which takes up a large space. There are a variety of methods in which the bedroom can be designed to maximize the footprint available. An interior design trick to achieve this is a platform idea that hides the bed, enabling the user to reclaim all the space. This is possible through the use of retractable beds like a slide-out type. In European countries like Italy, there has been the adoption of space-saving pieces of furniture like fold-down beds and side-tables that have helped cram furniture into a tiny space.

Corners in the bedrooms are wasted spaces. Adopting the high-rise box idea creates a place where items like trophies can be displayed, books can be stored and sound systems can be mounted. As stated earlier, the space under the bed can also be used to store more items that are not currently in use.

Living Room Space

In making the most out of small spaces, the living room is a must. First, it is important to find an innovative way to stash items in the living room, like under a bench that still acts as a seat. You can also find a unit that acts as a seat as well as a book storage location. Moreover, the couch can serve double duty; using couches that have hidden compartments under them serves the same purposes and enhances a lot of living room space.

Alternatively, you can use a wicker trunk in the living room by using as a coffee table while at the same time it could hold your sports equipment, travel items or guest bedding. Mounting the flat screen television on the wall also removes the need for an extra piece of furniture like a television stand in the house.

Kitchen Space

To maximize kitchen space, it is important to first adopt shelving to ensure that items are easily accessible and safe since the kitchen area is very sensitive. Shelving that goes right up to the ceiling is ideal. All kitchen storage places should be utilized. Also, adopting a good kitchen lighting system greatly helps in making the kitchen look and feel bigger. You can also adopt fold-able kitchen tops and retractable furniture to reduce the number of items in the kitchen. In cases where the kitchen is too small, you can reduce clutter in the kitchen by creating alternative kitchen storage in a nearby room.

Augmenting Bathroom Space

It is important to configure the space to allow enough room for minimal bathroom ware, enough shower space, as well as storage for toiletries and detergents. You should set up a corner sink as it eases movement within the room and is more accessible than just using a sink across the bathroom. Secondly, it is imperative to adopt the use of shower curtains as opposed to glass doors if you are having a hard time moving around the space while having the doors open.

Mounting some shelves on one side to store detergents and a towel holder also helps utilize a small space. Using vital spaces can facilitate the storage of bathroom ware in an accessible way.

The tips mentioned above are just some way you can rearrange a small space in your home. Adopting these simple techniques can greatly provide more room for better and more comfortable living, even in the smallest spaces.

Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. As a freelancer, she understands the importance of productivity at work. She is also part of the content marketing team behind arthaus Bathroom & Kitchen, a stunning showroom in Brisbane that offers a collection of leading European and Australian brands. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya.

May 13, 2019

Five Common Myths Among Renters

Fallacies about the buying process keep many renters from exploring the possibility of buying a home, but savvy real estate agents know a little education can go a long way in turning many of these would-be renters into lifelong homeowners. Many renters consider home ownership out of reach, have concerns about economic uncertainty and fear of a housing downturn as reasons to sit on the sidelines, with many preferring to watch the market before making a move to buy.


Millennials are one of the hardest hit consumers, as many have neither a home to sell nor years of savings to leverage for the down payment. Recent studies have shown that millennials, who form the largest cohort of first-time buyers, are significantly behind both baby boomers and Gen Xers in their rate of homeownership. According to a study published in USA Today, younger adults are spending a stunning amount of money on rent — $93,000 by age 30. More importantly, rent sucks up about 45 percent of their income during this first, critical decade in the workforce, leaving little left over to save for a down payment and work toward home ownership.

As a real estate agent, you can help turn renters into home buyers by dispelling these five common myths:

1. Renting Makes More Sense Because I May Move in Five Years

Sure, while it may make more sense to rent than to buy over a short term of a few months, the equation can easily flip with buying being the best value for a homeowner planning to stay for at least five years and, in some cases, as few as two years, according to personal finance site

The New York Times, and Zillow all offer online calculators in which renters can calculate how long they need to live in a home before the purchase costs outweighs the merits of renting.

2. I Don’t Make Enough Money to Buy

Income is important but not as limiting as people may think. Just as there are high income earners who are “house poor” (spending more than 30 percent of their income on their mortgage), there are people with modest incomes who are able to live comfortably in their own home.

Also, renters must bear in mind that rent is almost always guaranteed to go up, while the payments on a fixed-rate mortgage will not, making ownership the more budget-friendly approach over the long term.

Of course, many first-time buyers will need to pay down their debt and get their monthly spending organized before they can begin house-hunting. Agents specializing in this segment of the housing market should be willing to work with these clients months before they’re ready to buy, helping them assess all factors that will help make a home’s monthly payments affordable.

3. I Can’t Save Enough for a Down Payment

Most consumers are aware that following the housing crash of 2008, banks tightened their lending requirements. The perception is now you need 20 percent down to purchase a house. That means, bringing $50,000 to a closing on a $250,000 house — a seemingly insurmountable task for most renters.

However, what many are not aware of are the various programs that allow first-time buyers to close on a house with almost nothing down.

4. There’s Nothing in my Price Range

Once a renter has been pre-approved for a mortgage, they have a good idea of their target price range. Then, when they start looking at the entry-level inventory, they find themselves up against a competitive market.

Here’s where agents can really demonstrate their value. An experienced agent will not only guide first-time buyers into areas where homes are more likely to be in their price range, but they can also help them find those rarer listings where a home that’s not necessarily move-in ready yet in a nicer neighborhood is selling for less.

5. The Perfect House is Waiting for Me

Renters who have watched many real estate TV episodes may have unrealistic expectations about buying a property.

First, they may not be aware that every property has pros and cons. It’s important to remind them that finding an affordable home is going to involve some trade-offs, but ultimately, will offer the security and accomplishment of ownership.

Second, good houses go fast, so first-time buyers must be financially, mentally and emotionally ready to act.

It may not be the best time for you to buy your first home, but don’t believe that it isn’t a possibility based on common myths. Start saving and look into what you could do to make those first steps towards home ownership.

Posted in Buying Advice, Renting
May 10, 2019

Five Myths About Home Insurance

Homeowners insurance includes many myths and preconceived notions that can make the home buying process confusing and intimidating for first-timers. However, demystifying homeowners insurance may be easier than you think. Take these five common home insurance myths into consideration before buying your first home to help ensure a smooth process.


Myth #1: The surrounding neighborhood doesn’t affect the price of home insurance.

Contrary to popular belief, the cost of a home’s insurance premium is influenced by its surrounding area. Each neighborhood has a record of multiple factors that insurance companies take note of, including prior insurance claims and crime rates in the area.

Based on statistics provided by the FBI, the state, and other departments, each community is given a grade by insurance companies. The frequency of crimes, like burglaries and vandalism, within a community is compared against the city’s population. Neighborhoods with lower grades are considered higher risk, and homes within these areas will often have higher premiums.

Myth #2: External home fixtures don’t affect the price of insurance.

The physical structure of a home isn’t the only factor involved in home insurance. When it comes to calculating premiums, insurance companies consider every potential risk on the property. Homes with trampolines and swimming pools carry a higher risk of claims due to injury or property damage and are subject to higher premiums.

Dog owners may also be surprised to learn that they could face higher premiums. Although many domesticated dogs are friendly, insurance companies pay close attention to the risk of bites and other injuries.

Myth #3: Older, cheaper homes will have lower insurance premiums.

Though an older home may have a lower sale price, it may have a much higher insurance rate. Older homes are considered high risk to insurance companies for many reasons. Homes built in the ’80s and before may have outdated plumbing, and water damage and leaks are among the most common home insurance claims.

Another concern with older homes is the wiring system. Older homes may have aluminum wiring installed, which is susceptible to fire. Outdated wiring systems also may not be up to current state code, which can further drive up the price of a premium.

Myth #4: Homes within the same neighborhood will have the same premium.

Though the neighborhood a home is located does influence its premium, many factors could cause one house to pay a vastly different amount than even the one next door. For example, brick houses are at lower risk of fire damage than homes with wooden frames. However, homes with fiber-cement siding are fire resistant and have an added benefit of being termite proof.

It’s important to note that homes within earthquake-prone zones are evaluated differently. Brick houses are more prone to damage from earthquakes and will pay higher premiums than homes made of other materials within these areas.

Myth #5: Once a premium is calculated, the price is fixed and can’t be changed.

A homeowner has plenty of options to reduce the cost of their home insurance premium. Updating the roof to hail-resistant shingles, for example, will impress an insurance company. Additionally, installing security features such as a fence or alarm system will decrease both the risk of claims and the cost of your premium. Installing a sprinkler system to reduce the risk of fire damage is another way to make an insurance company happy, and they’ll reward you — by lowering your premium.

Now that you are armed with insider knowledge about the way homeowners insurance works, you can begin the hunt for your first home with confidence. If you have questions about homeowners insurance or are interested in quotes, an independent insurance agent can help you. Visit to get matched up with an independent insurance agent today, so they can help you get started on your journey.

Paul Martin, CPCU, is an insurance professional for Trusted Choice with over 30 years’ experience. Throughout his career, Paul’s mission has been to further his knowledge and education in the field, so he can help homeowners better understand their insurance options.


Posted in Home, Insurance