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Bedroom with fireplace
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Turning a Bedroom Into a Luxury Bedroom

For most of us, our bedroom is little more than a place to sleep and relax. However, just because it’s always been that way doesn’t mean that we have to settle for drab and dreary. One trend that’s gaining steam these days is converting your current bedroom into a luxury suite (or something comparable). If you want to live like you’re renting a room at the Ritz, then you want to follow these tips. Compartmentalize Your Activities Making your bedroom more functional is going to make it more luxurious. Add a gorgeous desk for working and a TV area for entertainment, and you’ll be living it up in no time. Make it Chic Choose a color palette that is both luxurious and classy. Silver and gold can seem tacky, so choose muted shades that compliment each other. Also, a brilliant and commanding headboard can instantly upgrade the look of your room without any other changes. Light it Properly Finally, make sure that you have the right light to show off your designs. If it’s too washed out or yellow, then it will look drab and run down. Switch to brilliant LEDs and see the difference. Choose Your Accents Wisely We already mentioned a headboard, but some elegant drapes can also make your room feel more royal. Being strategic with your furniture accessories is going to both keep you under budget and avoid doing too much with the space. Are you ready to lux your bedroom? You’ll be impressed by the results, and the feeling of decadence will make you more confident in your surroundings.

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Gardener Planting New Trees
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features. Whether it’s as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects! Create a pathway. To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color. Add a wall or border. Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard. Install a water feature. Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard. You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond. Light your way. An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye, or highlight objects or plants. Plant upwards. Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and get to planting!

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home, people, moving and real estate concept - happy couple having fun while moving in
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Priority tasks for your move in

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first. Change the locks Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money. Steam clean the carpets It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available. Call an exterminator Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home. Clean out the kitchen If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.

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Refined Woman Enjoying Cappuccino or Latte on a vibrant, colorful background indoors.
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Dispelling Refinance Myths

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE. For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing. IT’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING. Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?

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DIY and home repair tools
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

What to repair before your list

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home. Repaint walls. Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat. Repair floors. Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new! Refresh the landscaping. Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel. Fix your fixtures. Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment

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Money seamless
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Consider This: When to Refinance

Refinancing your mortgage is something most homeowners consider at least once throughout the lifespan of their home loan. It allows you to pay off your previous loan by applying for a new one that has better financial advantages. While there are many good reasons to refinance, here are five common ones. Scoring a lower interest rate. The number one reason homeowners decide to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Not only does this save you money in the long run and decrease your monthly payment, but you can start building equity in your home sooner. Using an improved credit score. Even if interest rates have not dropped in the market, if you’ve improved your credit score over the last few years, you may be able to reduce your mortgage rate. Shortening the loan’s term. If interest rates are decreasing, there is a chance you may be able to get a shorter loan term with little to no change in your monthly payment, allowing you to pay off your loan sooner. Switching from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate. If you chose an adjustable-rate mortgage with great introductory rates when you initially financed your home, that rate may increase significantly over the years. By switching to a fixed rate while interest rates are low, you can protect yourself from future increases. Cashing out home equity. If there is a big purchase or payment on the horizon, such as funding a wedding or going back to school, your best option may be to use the equity you’ve built in your home to borrow money at a lower cost.

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AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Top Tips for House Hunting Online

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your end all be all. Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind. Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale. Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter. Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But, often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms. See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, call up your real estate agent and schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. Your real estate agent will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.

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AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

TAKE 5: WHAT TO NEGOTIATE WHEN BUYING A HOUSE

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or a seasoned veteran, the negotiation part of the transaction can be a little daunting and stressful. However, it is necessary to ensure you are getting the best possible deal for your money. So, what should you negotiate when buying a home? Closing costs. Your closing costs are determined by a variety of factors, but you can expect it to be between 2% to 5% of the purchase price. Ask the seller to cover some or all of the closing costs upfront or request a closing credit that can be used to make specific updates and fixes to the home. Furnishings. Love how the seller has furnished and decorated the home? Buyers often negotiate keeping couches, fixtures, landscaping items, patio furniture, appliances, and more. And many sellers agree, wanting to make the home more appealing. Inspection and closing timing. Buyer offers that include a quick inspection and close timeline are often more attractive to sellers who have been going through the process for far too long. Just ensure you allow yourself ample time to get your financing in place and complete proper, thorough inspections. Home warranty. Sellers will often agree to pay the premium on the home warranty at closing and then hand it off to the new homeowner, who is responsible for the deductible on any future claims. Repairs. Your inspection may uncover small or large repairs needed to bring the home up to standard. You can negotiate to have these items fixed before closing or ask for a price reduction to cover the costs.

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Morning coffee and alarm clock
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Achieve Morning Person Status

Ever wish you could become one of those rare morning people? The ones that wake with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. The ones that get in that morning workout or wrap up some work before many of us even hit the snooze button for the first time. Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status! Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. Once you force yourself out of bed early one or two weeks consistently, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to do. Let the light in. Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain its time to get up and get going. If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many of us who chose the skip breakfast, it is key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake. Get your body moving. Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, getting your blood pumping will help wake up your body and has a ton of other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions.  

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AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Short sale and foreclosure: How are they different?

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview. A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament. On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender. On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner. After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.

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AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Which down payment strategy is right for you?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders. But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available. THE DOWNSIDE The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search. THE UPSIDE The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities. THE HAPPY MEDIUM Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

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Moving to new house
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

LOS BENEFICIOS DE SER DUEÑO DE SU PROPIA CASA

Felicidad: No hay nada que se compare a la sensación de tener su propio hogar. Puede arreglarlo, darle su propio estilo, tener un perro o un gato, e incluso plantar un árbol si lo desea. ¡Solo imaginarlo causa alegría! Ahorro de impuestos: el gobierno recompensa a los propietarios de viviendas proporcionándoles excelentes beneficios en los impuestos. El interés pagado por su hipoteca y otros gastos relacionados con el hogar generalmente se pueden deducir de sus ingresos. Apreciación: Hay un crecimiento de valor en las viviendas con el paso del tiempo; este aumento se convierte en ganancia cuando sea el momento de re-financiar o vender la propiedad. Renta variable: tanto rentar como alquilar se puede comparar a pagar 100% de interés, pero cuando usted es dueño de una casa y cuenta con una hipoteca, una parte del pago se destina al saldo principal de su préstamo. Esto construye su capital y actúa como una cuenta de ahorros. Vida en comunidad: quienes son dueños de sus casas son más propensos a permanecer en sus hogares 4 veces más que quienes rentan propiedades. Esto brinda la oportunidad de conocer a sus vecinos y conectarse con su comunidad. Educación: las investigaciones muestran que los hijos de los propietarios de viviendas obtienen puntajes más altos en exámenes y se gradúan en un porcentaje más alto que los hijos de inquilinos.

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Home buying process
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

The Home Buying Process

1. Meet with a real estate professional: Discuss the type of home you’re looking for, including style, price, and location. 2. The Buyer’s Advantage: As the home buyer, your agent’s commission is paid by the seller of the home in almost all circumstances. This means your representation costs you nothing! 3. Get Pre-Approved: You will need pay stubs, W2s, and bank statements. Knowing what you can afford is critical to a successful home shopping experience 4. Search for Homes: The fun part! Your agent will schedule showings and help you find the perfect home. 5. Advanced Search: Not all real estate websites are the same. Your real estate professional has tools and systems to ensure you see every available home that meets your criteria. 6. Make an Offer: Your agent will prepare your offer based on the price and terms you choose. 7. Negotiation and Contract: It may take a few tries to get it just right, but hang in there. You’re on your way! 8. The Contract: In most cases the contract provides you with a timeline to obtain financing as well as time to inspect the physical condition of the home. Your real estate professional will inform you of all your rights and responsibilities related to the contract. 9. Under Contract or In Escrow: You and the seller have agreed to the price and terms. The home is effectively held for you until closing. 10. Final Details: Perform due diligence, order the appraisal, conduct an inspection, and review terms with the lender. 11. Preparing for Closing: You will be finalizing your loan, reviewing documents, and discussing the findings from the inspection. Your agent will manage this entire process for you. 12. Closing: This is the transfer of funds and ownership. A title company or an attorney typically acts as an independent third party to facilitate the closing.  

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home sale - sp
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

EL PROCESO DE VENDER UNA CASA

REÚNASE CON UN PROFESIONAL EN BIENES Y RAÍCES:No hay ningún tipo de compromiso en esta reunión inicial. Será una reunión educativa y le ayudará a saber cual es el siguiente paso. PRECIO ESTRATÉGICO:Por más difícil que sea, es importante revisar el análisis de mercado y considerar el precio de su casa de una forma objetiva. ESTABLEZCA UN PRECIO:Su agente le proporcionará un análisis de mercado, que le ayudará a establecer el precio de venta de su casa. PREPARE LA CASA PARA LA VENTA:Vea su casa como si usted fuera el que la va a comprar y pregúntese qué espera usted de esta casa. Su agente le recomendará algunas sugerencias útiles. PONGA LA CASA A LA VENTA:Cuando todo esté listo su agente pondrá su casa en el mercado. Esto significa formalmente a la venta. Es fundamental que la casa esté disponible para ser mostrada a posibles compradores en cualquier momento. DEMOSTRACIONES DE LA CASA:Algunos compradores van a solicitar ver la casa sin haber avisado con anticipación y es importante tratar de ser flexible para no perder ningún posible comprador. OFERTAS Y NEGOCIACIÓN:Si todo va bien, un comprador y (normalmente el agente que le representa) presentará a su agente una oferta de compra. ELEGIR UNA OFERTA:Su agente presentará los beneficios y riesgos de cada oferta. Usted tendrá la oportunidad de aceptar o contrarrestar cualquier oferta basada en sus preferencias. BAJO CONTRATO:En este momento, usted y el comprador han aceptado todos los términos de la oferta y ambas partes han firmado los acuerdos. DETALLES FINALES:Mientras que la casa está bajo contrato, el comprador trabajará con el proveedor de la hipoteca para finalizar el préstamo y realizar las debidas diligencias. INSPECCIÓN:El comprador por lo general realizará una inspección física de la casa. Incluso pueden pedir que se hagan ciertas reparaciones a la casa. Su agente le explicará todas sus opciones con respecto a la inspección. CIERRE:Es la transferencia de fondos y del título la propiedad. Dependiendo de cuando el comprador se necesita mudar a la casa, usted deberá estar preparado para deshabitar la propiedad tan cuanto y como cierre la transacción.

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home ownership benefit
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Benefits Of Home Ownership

Happiness – The feeling of owning your own home is unmatched. You can fix it up, make it your own, get a dog, or plant a tree if you want. Doesn’t that sound exciting! Tax Savings – The government rewards homeowners by providing excellent tax benefits. The interest paid on your mortgage and other home-related expenses can generally be deducted from your income. Appreciation – Home values have a well-documented history of going up over time. This increase becomes equity you can benefit from when you refinance or sell. Equity – Renting has often been compared to paying 100% interest, but when you own a home and a mortgage is in place, a portion of your payment goes toward the principal balance on your loan. This builds your equity and acts as a savings account. Roots – People who own rather than rent stay in their homes 4 times longer. This provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbors and connect with your local community. Education – Research shows children of homeowners earn higher test scores and graduate at a higher percentage than those of renters.    

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buying a home process - sp
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

El Proceso De Comprar Una Casa

1. CONTRATE UN AGENTE DE BIENES Y RAÍCES: Hablen del tipo de casa que está buscando, incluyendo el estilo, precio y la ubicación. 2. LA VENTAJA DE LOS COMPRADORES S: Como compradores de vivienda, las comisiones de su agente son pagadas por el vendedor de la casa en casi todas las circunstancias. Esto significa que la representación por parte de su agente no le cuesta nada a usted. 3. SEA PREAPROBADO: Usted necesitará los talones de cheques de pago, sus formas W2 y los estados de cuenta bancarios. Saber cual es su prepuesto para la compra de su hogar es una parte fundamental para que la compra de su casa sea exitosa. 4. BUSQUEDA DE CASAS: Esta es la parte divertida! El agente de bienes raíces consulta los diversos directorios de casas disponibles. Para después programar citas y mostrarle las propiedades en las que usted está interesado. 5. BÚSQUEDA AVANZADA: No todas las paginas de Internet para bienes y raíces son las mismas. Su agente de bienes y raíces tiene las herramientas necesarias para asegurarse de que usted visite todas las propiedades que están bajo su criterio. 6. REALIZA UNA OFERTA DE COMPRA: Su agente preparará la oferta de acuerdo al precio y los términos que usted elija. 7. NEGOCIACIÓN Y CONTRATO: Puede que le tome varios intentos para llegar a la negociación perfecta, pero siga adelante. Cada vez está más cerca. 8. EL CONTRATO: En la mayoría de los casos, los contratos le proporcionan una tiempo definido para obtener financiamiento, así como el tiempo para inspeccionar las condiciones físicas de la casa. Su agente de bienes y raices le informará de todos sus derechos y responsabilidades relacionados con el contrato. 9. BAJO CONTRATO: Usted y el vendedor han acordado el precio y los términos de la compra. La casa es reservada para usted hasta el cierre de la venta. 10. DETALLES FINALES: Antes de finalizar el proceso hay que realizar varias inspecciones como la evaluación del valor de la casa, inspección de las condiciones físicas de la casa, además de revisar los términos y condiciones de financiamiento del banco. 11. PREPARÁNDOSE PARA EL CIERRE DE LA CASA: Usted estará finalizando su préstamo, revisando documentos y discutiendo los resultados de la inspección. Su agente de bienes y raíces se encargará de todo este proceso por usted. 12. EL CIERRE DE LA CASA: Es la transferencia de fondos y propiedad. Una compañía de registro o un abogado normalmente actúa como facilitador independiente para cerrar la transacción.

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sellers road map
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

The Seller’s Roadmap

1. Meet with a Real Estate Professional: There’s no commitment required on your part for the initial meeting. It will be educational and help you identify your next steps. 2. Establish a Price: Your agent will provide a market analysis, which will help you set an asking price. 3. Strategic Price: As difficult as it may be, it’s important to review the market analysis and consider your home price objectively. 4. Prepare Your Home: View your home through the eyes of the buyer and ask yourself what you’d expect. Your agent will offer some useful suggestions. 5. List It For Sale: When everything is in place your agent will put your home on the open market. It’s critical you make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to view your home. 6. Showings: Potential buyers may ask to see your home on short notice. It’s best if you can accommodate these requests, you never want to miss a potential sale. 7. Offers and Negotiation: If everything goes well, a buyer and (most often the agent who represents them) will present your agent with an offer. 8. Choosing an Offer: Your agent will present the benefits and risks of each offer. You will have the opportunity to either accept or counter any offer based on its merits. 9. Under Contract: At this point, you and the buyer have agreed to all of the terms of the offer and both parties have signed the agreements. 10. Final Details: While under contract, the buyer will work with their mortgage provider to finalize the loan and perform other due diligence. 11. Inspection: The buyer will usually perform a physical inspection of the home. They may even ask you to make certain repairs. Your agent will explain all of your options regarding the inspection. 12. Closing: This is the transfer of funds and ownership. Depending on when the buyer moves into the home you will need to be all packed up and ready to move.

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Must-Have Tools For Homeowners
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Must-Have Tools For Homeowners

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects. Cordless drill.A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month. Drain cleaners.Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

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Create an Evacuation Plan For Your Pets
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Create an Evacuation Plan For Your Pets

An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids, but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan. Assign pet evacuation to an adult. Everyone should know how to act during an evacuation, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other parent and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence. Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. If you pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily. Practice your plan. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think! Be prepared in case you get separated from your pets. No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area.

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Upsizing Your Home
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Upsizing Your Home

Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof. Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution. WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE? The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings. MOVING OUTWARD If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.

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5 Secret Weapons for DIY Projects
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

5 Secret Weapons for DIY Projects

Is there a home maintenance project that’s been lingering on your to-do list for too long because you’re dreading the trip to the hardware or craft store? There are some projects you can tackle with items that are almost certainly already in your home. Vinegar:There’s probably a jug of vinegar in your pantry right now. You can soak items in vinegar to remove mineral deposits (like in a clogged shower head), and you can boil vinegar in your microwave to remove odors and make it easier to clean. Cola:A can of Coke or Pepsi can be used to clean many surfaces, including your glass windows, porcelain toilet, or chrome fixtures. Just do some research before using it on metal surfaces, as it can be corrosive. Baking soda:This item may actually be more useful for applications other than baking. A baking soda-vinegar paste is great for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. Baking soda can also be used to absorb odors. Butter knife:Screwdrivers are easy to misplace. If can’t find a screwdriver when you need one, a butter knife—preferably an older one that you no longer need for table setting—is pretty effective for both Phillips- and flat-head screws. Toothpaste:Is there an unsightly scratch on your car or bike? The grit in tarter-control toothpastes makes for an effective scratch remover. Clean the scratch, apply some toothpaste, let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it out with paper towel.

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How to Check Your Home For Air Leaks
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

How to Check Your Home For Air Leaks

We’re well into the fall season and winter is right around the corner. This is the time of year when it’s especially important to make sure your home is properly sealed. Air leaks can make it difficult to keep your home properly heated and can lead to high utility bills. Here’s quick guide to checking your home for air leaks. Do an air pressure test. You can quickly check for air leaks with a simple test using household items. Seal your home by completely closing all doors, windows, and vents and turning off exhaust fans. Then pass a burning incense stick along the edges of all doors, windows, and other openings to the outside. If the smoke is forced into or away from an opening, you’ve found a leak. Inspect doors and windows. To check for leaks near your windows, attempt to rattle the frame. This will reveal whether there are gaps along the edges. Also check for cracks in the frame, loose screws in locks, or gaps anywhere in the window. Door hinges and thresholds are common places for air leaks. Deteriorated weather stripping can also lead to leaks and the door itself can develop cracks that allow air to pass through. Skylights are a little trickier to test and examine, but you can still do it yourself. Check for water stains near your skylights, which is a dead giveaway of a leak. If you suspect there is one, you’ll have to get on the roof for a closer inspection. Look for loose shingles, cracked roofing cement, and debris.

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5 Criteria for Pricing a Home
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

5 Criteria for Pricing a Home

When you put your home up for sale, one of the best ways to determine the asking price is to look at comparable sales. There’s rarely a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, so a pricing decision often relies on comparisons to several recent sales in the area. Here are five criteria to look for in a sales comparison. Location:Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better. Date of sale:It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available. Home build:Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics. Features and upgrades:Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles. Sale types:Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.

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Dealing with Scratched Hardwood Floors
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Dealing with Scratched Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are highly desirable for most homeowners, but they come with their share of challenges when it comes to cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. After a few months or years of heavy use from kids playing with toys and chairs being shuffled around, it may be time for some DIY fixes. Hiding scratches: If you’ve got a good eye for matching colors, you can actually use crayons or markers or purchase wax sticks from the hardware store to fill-in scratches. Try to match the stain color on your floors, but don’t worry if it’s a little off. If the color is close, once the scratch is filled, it’ll look like a variation in the wood grain. Polishing floors: You can make a polish solution for your floors from household ingredients. Mix olive oil and vinegar in equal parts, pour it directly into scratches, and then wipe it off after 24 hours. It may take several applications, but this homemade polish will fill and cover most scratches. Clever decor: It’s not a long-term solution, but sometimes the most painless way to fix scratches in your floors is to cover them with a rug or furniture arrangement. Spot sanding: For deeper scratches, you’ll need to spot sand with fine steel wool or sandpaper, use wood filler, and stain and seal the repaired area.

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Finding The Right Mattress
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Finding The Right Mattress

Mattress construction: The most popular mattress types are inner spring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, and adjustable air mattresses. Each has pros and cons when it comes to durability and comfort customization. Firmness: Mattress firmness plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep. Mattresses that are too firm or too soft can cause aches and pains, so it‘s recommended that you test a mattress for 10- to 15 minutes in store before making a purchase. Sleeping position: Your mattress should match your sleeping style (side, back, face-down, etc.). You want a mattress that keeps your spine in proper alignment. For example, some mattresses are better for side sleepers, while others are better for back sleepers. Size: It’s not quite as simple as choosing between a king and a queen mattress. You should also consider your height, as some mattresses are a better fit for shorter people while tall people will want a longer mattress so their limbs aren’t hanging over the edge of the bed. Stability: For couples, you should consider how the mattress reacts when one person moves, so the other person’s sleep isn’t disturbed in the middle of the night.

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5 Negotiating Tactics That Kill Sale
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

5 Negotiating Tactics That Kill Sale

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid: Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

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Organic Food on a Budget
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Organic Food on a Budget

Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply. So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck. Shop at farmers’ markets: You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source. Choose seasonal produce: Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus. Shop more frequently, and plan your meals around bulk sales: The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad. Grow your own: A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

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Five Money-Saving Green Upgrades
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Five Money-Saving Green Upgrades

Going green is great for the environment, but that’s not the only benefit. When you make green upgrades in your home, it can also lead to some major savings. Solar panels: The upfront cost is big, but the long-term savings are huge. Solar panels will cost several thousand dollars to install, but ongoing maintenance costs are very low, and a typical system could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can even sell your surplus electricity. Wood furnace: Wood-burning furnaces are relatively inexpensive, and though the yearly savings aren’t as dramatic (about 10% on heating bills), it adds up over the long run. Insulation: There’s a good chance your insulation isn’t very efficient, especially in older homes. Look into installing floor, cavity, wall, and loft insulation to reduce your heating bills. Rain barrels: Rain barrels are extremely inexpensive, and provide gallons of free water to use when you wash your car or water your garden. Geothermal system: OK, so the price tag is scary at first. A geothermal system uses the earth’s temperature to heat and cool your home, but can cost $30,000 to install. But tax credits allow you to get a lot of that money back, and the energy savings average about $1,900 per year. If you plan to be in your home for a decade or two, it’s a great investment.

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Ideas for Accent Walls
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Ideas for Accent Walls

An accent wall can totally transform a room, taking it from boring and drab to bold and exciting. Accent walls create a new focal point for your space, add liveliness and contrast, and are typically a very inexpensive DIY project. The starter accent wall You can easily add an accent wall to your room in one afternoon by applying a new paint color. Deep blues and bright oranges are common choices for accent walls, but choose a color that will complement your existing decor and overall design aesthetic. Interesting textures Bright, contrasting paint is a good starting point, but there are other options for accent walls that are even more eye-catching and distinct. Floor-to-ceiling wood planks can make your home seem both rustic and modern all at once and provide a natural, outdoors-inspired feel. It’s more work than simply painting a wall, but it’s still relatively inexpensive. You can source the wood from pallets on Craigslist and stain it yourself before attaching it to your wall. It takes a little extra elbow grease, but it’s worth the effort. Patterns, murals, and more Paint and wood are bold enough on their own to transform a room, but they’re still pretty subtle compared to other accent wall options. A chalk paint accent wall is a creative idea for any room and makes for some fun moments when you’re entertaining. There are also endless options for wallpaper and stenciling if you want some patterns or you can get really bold with a mural or oversized art print.

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Dispelling Refinancing Myths
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Dispelling Refinancing Myths

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE. For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing. IT’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING. Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort? ARMS CAN BE REFINANCED, TOO. Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch to a shorter term fixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.

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Short sale and foreclosure How are they different
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Short sale and foreclosure: How are they different?

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview. A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament. On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender. On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner. After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.

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Which down payment strategy is right for you
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Which down payment strategy is right for you?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders. But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available. THE DOWNSIDE The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search. THE UPSIDE The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities. THE HAPPY MEDIUM Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

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Priority Tasks for Your Move In
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Priority Tasks for Your Move In

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first. Change the locks Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money. Steam clean the carpets It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available. Call an exterminator Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home. Clean out the kitchen If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances

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Single Family Housing Production Expected to Continue Growth Trend in 2018
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Single Family Housing Production Expected to Continue Growth Trend in 2018

Bolstered by newly enacted tax laws, single family housing production should maintain its gradual upward trend in 2018, according to National Association of Home Builders economists. More jobs and economic growth are expected to grow production 2.7 percent to 1.25 million total housing starts. Single family starts are expected to rise 5 percent in 2018 to 893,000 units and increase an additional 5 percent to 940,000 next year. Growth will offset a projected dip in multifamily starts. “We expect that tax reform will boost GDP growth to 2.6 percent in 2018, and this added economic activity will also bode well for housing, although there will be some transition effects in high-tax jurisdictions,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said at January’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando. “Ongoing job creation, expected wage increases and tight existing home inventory will also boost the housing market in the year ahead.” Supply-side issues, increased costs will continue to challenge builders Ongoing supply-side issues will continue to challenge builders, however. Unfilled construction jobs, a shortage of buildable lots and slow growth in acquisition, development and construction loan activity hasn’t kept pace with demand and isn’t likely to catch up. Also, increased costs resulting from changing building codes, land use, environmental and other rules will continue to impact affordability, according to economists. Increased softwood lumber costs and friction between U.S. and Canadian traders is expected to be impactful again. On the finance side, NAHB expects 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to average 4.31 percent in 2018 and 4.82 percent in 2019. Other economists speaking on the health of the single family home industry at the show expect rates to average 4.5 percent this year. Based on a production benchmark of 1.3 million units, set from 2000-03, single family starts are expected to gradually rise from 63 percent of what is considered a typical market in the third quarter of 2017 to 73 percent of normal by the fourth quarter of 2019. Meanwhile the home remodeling market is getting boost, partly because of strong demand following damage from hurricanes and wildfires in 2017. Residential remodeling activity is expected to register a 7 percent gain in 2018 over last year. Local housing markets are healthy and should weather higher interest rates David Berson, senior vice president and chief economist at Nationwide Insurance, said the vast majority of local housing markets are healthy and faring well. He lists 324 markets as positive, 69 as neutral and only seven as negative but is concerned about rapid price increases, despite favorable job gains, household formations and mortgage markets. While he anticipates a slightly more rapid rise in mortgage interest rates this year, Berson said it should not hurt housing activity. “Mortgage rates are expected to rise from 4 percent to 4.5 percent by the end of year,” he said. “However, housing demand remains strong and wages are solid, and this will more than offset the negative effects from rising rates.” South and West expected to be industry growth leaders Fueled by good job growth, favorable affordability and good weather, the South and West are expected to lead industry growth. Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Phoenix, Atlanta and Charlotte are the top seven major markets for new home sales. Overall mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates are at their lowest levels in more than a decade, but that is a different story for markets pummeled by last year’s devastating hurricanes.

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How to Grow Your Rental Property Management Business
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

How to Grow Your Rental Property Management Business

Property managers understand that they can grow their rental property management business organically by providing a great service or product. Additionally, streamlining expenses by outsourcing daily tasks, such as phone calls and driving efficiency with technology like electronic payments, makes for an efficient use of capital. You can also accelerate the growth of your property management business by acquiring an established competitor and adding their clients and assets to your existing business. When you decide to purchase an existing property management business, the years of hard work required to gain new clients has already been accomplished for you. With this in mind, here are some ideas for ways to make this happen: Call local businesses Many single family property management businesses that are for sale do not explicitly advertise that they are available for sale; other property management business owners may not be considering selling right away but might do so if someone discusses options with them. If you are a business owner, give them your best sales pitch. You built your business; you have to have some sales acumen, right? Often times, a business owner may not want to alarm current customers or employees by announcing that they are for sale. If you start calling around, you might connect with an owner that has contemplated the possibility. Attend industry events You should always strive to be active in single family industry organizations and events. Two great single family industry organizations are NARPM National Association of Residential Property Managers and IREM Institute of Real Estate Management. While you are at events, you can network and ask around for references or professionals who can help you find the right competitor who might be willing to sell. Networking is an indispensable step in discovering potential property management businesses for sale. Connect with business brokers A commercial loan broker can facilitate a loan for you, but did you also know that a business broker can point you in the direction of a small business for sale? Business brokers are often hired by the business sellers to help with locating buyers and negotiating. Search for advertisements Watch local newspapers or relevant property management publications for single family businesses for sale. You can also search online and locate small businesses for sale in your area. In addition, create your own online ads showing your interest in purchasing a property management business. You can grow your business in multiple ways. Owners of rental property management businesses should strive to drive efficiency and reduce expenses to achieve growth. You understand your market and you should already believe that you provide a differentiated and exceptional service or product. Consider the option of acquiring competitors as another method to fast track the growth of your property management company.

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Completing Your Final Walk-Through
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

Completing Your Final Walk-Through

You put a lot of effort into finding the right house, and now that your closing is just days away, you’re finally ready to start calling your new place home. Before this can happen, however, you should do a final walk-through of the property. What is a final walk-through? A final walk-through isn’t a home inspection (that typically takes place in conjunction with your offer). It’s not the time to request new repairs, either. Instead, this is an opportunity to make sure the condition of the home is as expected. Specifically, you’ll want to confirm there haven’t been any unexpected or unwanted changes made to the property. What should you look for? Make sure there isn’t any move-out damage and that all your requested repairs have been made. You’ll also want to check that no extra furnishings have been left behind and that everything included in the home price — items like appliances, light fixtures or window blinds — are in place and in good condition. Use a checklist to guide you through this process. When does it take place? The final walk-through can happen anywhere from a few days prior to your closing to just a few hours before. Finally, be sure to bring a copy of your contract along for reference and consider asking your real estate agent or a home inspector to help you double-check everything and verify repairs. Remember, this is your last chance to give the property a good once-over before you legally claim it as your own.

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5 Must Know Tips to Amp Up Your Rental Property Photos in 2018
AYS Blog
Nirav Goyal

5 Must Know Tips to Amp Up Your Rental Property Photos in 2018

Your potential tenants are checking out your website and property photos to make an informed decisions about the property they are looking to rent. One the best ways to improve your rental potential and rental portfolio is with by taking amazing photos of your rental property. We’ve put together 5 Must Know Tips to help marketing your rental property. We highly recommend hiring a profession for this type of venture or have a direct staff who gets the vision 1. Lighting is Key Before taking any pictures, always make sure the space is well-lit. For interiors, open nearby blinds/windows and take advantage of natural light. 2. Quality is key Pay attention to the pixels. High resolution images can make a big differences, so make sure you pay close attention to the quality of each photo. If a new camera is not in the budget, some newer mobile camera models will fit the bill. 3. Stage it and Make it Look Good! Staging is an art, and if done correct, it will give you potential tenants a realistic idea of how their new home could look. 4. It’s all in the details Did the property have some renovations? If so, show case the upgrades and renovations to paint an amazing picture for your future tenant(s). Showcase new hardwood floors, granite counter tops and an updated kitchen. 5. Choose wisely when editing If you are not the type that reviews their pictures while taking them, then, make sure to edit or enhance your pictures before you post. For property photos, we recommend that you stick to the basics of photo editing: Brightness and Contrast are two the most important aspects to editing an image. Note: Keep it close to what was suppose to be show or else you are giving the impression that it’s “Photoshop’d.” Property managers are faced with a mountain of tasks and the last thing on their mind is photos. However, with technology, make the last important as your highest priority.

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