11 Affordable Landscaping Ideas to Increase Property Value

Transforming the property with affordable landscaping is one of the major secrets to increasing house value. Landscaping itself sounds like a complicated task, however, the following steps will boost the property price largely. Especially, there are specific changes that can increase the overall value. United Field Services Inc. will provide a guaranteed guide for increasing property value with the help of landscaping ideas on a budget.

1. An affordable landscaping idea is building a fence

Having a fence can play a huge role in increasing property value, however, it greatly depends on its condition. There are different options that will not require a big budget but can significantly improve the property’s appearance.

One of the cheapest types of fences is wooden ones. There are other benefits other than affordability; according to specialists wood is also environment friendly. There is always an option to color it, which will make it look more presentable.

A fence can make an unforgettable first impression of the house. The main reason why fences are preferred by people is due to the privacy it secures. Therefore, this can provide you a really good result, without costing too much.

2. A landscape walkway is a game-changer

Something as simple as a walkway can arouse curiosity in people. It is another easy way to increase the property value. Additionally, you can build it with contrasting rocks (big and small) or red bricks. This method will result in a high-end look and create a natural atmosphere.

Giving special attention to the walkway can be both stylish and helpful for the visitors. They won’t have to walk on the grass or soil. Plus, this step will set high expectations for the property’s worth.

3. Nurturing & trimming the lawn is a low-maintenance landscaping option

Nurturing and trimming the lawn sounds like a small backyard landscaping idea, but simply being clean and neat is already a big step towards increasing the property value. Having freshly nice cut grass in the garden is the best way to gain somebody’s respect. 

Lawn care shows how much the owner cares about the property, which sets expectations for others as well. Thus, taking good care of the backyard is a small, yet very noticeable step. Experts have conducted a survey, based on which 63% of the respondents preferred to live in an area that has good green spaces.

affordable lawn care

4. Bushes/plants are easy & affordable

Another low-cost landscaping idea is cutting bushes and plants around the yard. Only a few details can boost property prices largely because small elements can elevate the overall look of the house. Consequently, this is a better option than changing big parts of the property.

Moreover, plants are very affordable. Therefore, it is a good option to place a few in the garden to make it look more organized. In this way, the house will have a fresh look and attract people’s attention.

5. Different Kinds of Trees for high house worth

Planting trees or other seeds is yet another simple landscaping idea, which is one of the best ways to increase the property value. It demonstrates diligence because taking care of the garden or having sowings is really hard work. People automatically will sympathize with the house if it is nicely nurtured.

However, you should first consider that the value of a specific type of tree depends on different variables. Based on the listed factors in the formula by the Council of Tree & Landscape Appraisers, you can estimate the value certain trees will bring to your house.

6. Mini statues/small fountains create a nice atmosphere

Adding mini statues or small fountains is by far one of the fastest steps for changing house worth. It is as easy as ordering a small affordable statue and placing it somewhere in the yard. This can transform the look and price of the house.

Some people don’t consider statues the best item to have in the yard, therefore, a more creative approach can be considered a small fountain. In reality, a tiny fountain can cost around 100 USD, but increase the property value up to 10 times. That is the main reason this step is highly recommended by many experts.

landscaping ideas on a budget

7. Lighting & decorations transform the house

A correctly planned lighting system and decorations are some of the most important factors considered while thinking of the property value. Research shows that paying enough attention to this aspect can increase the value by 20%.

Besides the overall visual appeal, this option is also very beneficial. Considering LED lights is an energy-efficient choice, which is an important factor to remember while purchasing a property. Therefore, the house will both look wonderful and leave others impressed.

8. Affordable patio & deck flooring change everything

People also pay attention to what is beneath their feet. The comfort of the ground is an unspoken yet crucial element. Flooring can have some unique solutions. There are some affordable patio & deck floor options.

Besides, it’s a perfect fit for a backyard. Also, it can be designed in black and white stone flooring.  Meanwhile, a deck floor isn’t made specifically for yards, but it is a good option due to its supporting system. Both will increase property value remarkably.

9. Unique outdoor areas boost home price 

Adding a unique outdoor area is one of the most creative ways to increase the house value. People love spending some quality time outside, which is why this area is a very important element. In this case, there are different ideas you can realize that will work effectively:

  • For instance, an outdoor bar can make anyone want to live in that house. It doesn’t require a lot of expenses, but it surely will grow the house’s worth. All this area needs are high affordable chairs and a bar counter.

  • Another example can be an outdoor barbecue (BBQ) stand or a play area with table tennis. All are inexpensive and helpful ideas.

The point is to have a separate place for spending time outdoors. This is what people love the most, which is why this step is effective.

simple landscaping ideas

10. Color-oriented focal points attract visitors

A focal point is an area that can lead the visitor’s viewing point. Thus, according to professionals a pop of color on the wall or throughout the garden will grab attention and be a remarkable detail to remember. For instance, if you hang a vivid painting or another piece of art on the wall, it can interest people.

A balance between a classical look and some burst of color can be very complimentary to the eye. Therefore, this can increase the property’s worth due to its pleasant style.

11. Floral decorations help to transform the house

A floral wall is a very aesthetically pleasing element to have. It can dress up the house and make it look much more interesting than a plain, naked wall. Therefore, this will impress and fascinate people, which can impact the price of the house notably.

Flowers are a very affordable landscaping idea. It surely will make it look like there is more to it than just decorations. Besides, it will shift the standards of what a house should look like. Overall, there are different affordable options that will guarantee the best results in boosting the house’s worth. Do not hesitate, instead contact us, and we will give valuable advice and ideas that will be the most effective. We are here to help raise the property’s value with plenty of diverse solutions.

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10 On-Budget Remodeling Ideas to Increase Home Value

Increasing home value is not an easy task to undertake. It requires precise planning and a clear action plan. With the right contractor’s crew and a development strategy, you can increase the property value on average by 40,000$ only with a budget of 10,000$.

To succeed in your undertaking, you will need to discuss the project with an experienced and knowledgeable contractor who can organize the remodeling on time and provide high quality.

Wondering where to start and which renovation or remodeling options to consider if you are in need of quick and on-budget solutions? Keep reading, here we present answers to these questions!

Optimize the Style for Higher Home Value

One of the most important components of increasing home value is picking the right style. For example, minimalism is a low-cost and functional style, where one detail is enough for an impressive change.

Style is a crucial element because it can completely change the appearance of the property, therefore, this is the first step in the process. There are different ways to choose the right design for a house, starting from asking for professional help and ending with looking for inspiration in magazines, books, or specialized websites.

Renovation services

Lighting Matters!

The market value of the house largely depends on its lighting, which can have a huge impact. These improvements may require more time and a home renovation budget, while they are worth paying attention to. It is also important to note that there are specific requirements for windows in different states.

While thinking of the house design, you should be sure to maximize the natural light and plan the lighting system efficiently. Be sure to choose the most effective solution from both lighting and product selection perspectives. This can help you save money for additional materials and have a good result.

Expand the Useable Square Footage

Another important tip to consider for adding value to the house are minor or major expansions. It can be as simple as adding an extra room or reach to building an additional floor. There are specific tricks to making the house look wider by creating two rooms out of a big one. Therefore, having separate spaces dedicated to specific activities will have a good outcome.

One of the modern solutions that will be nice to have in the house within a modest budget is a gym or a movie theatre. However, be sure that everything is considered in the scope of the budget provided for a renovation.

Real estate owned renovation

Details Matter for Expensive-Looking Property

Details are the key to achieving an elegant and expensive-looking property. If you have a limited budget, one of the best choices will be adding elements that grab attention.

One of such details that will complete the overall look of your rooms is crown moldings. The rooms without these details are looking cheap and unfinished. This is a good point to consider for achieving a good result with a relatively small budget.

Fix Issues for Property Improvement

Thinking of increasing property value is the right time to detect available leaks and other issues in the house to fix them. Fixing possible problems can significantly impact the price of the property. 

Check house systems and be sure that all the leaks are noted for fixing. This especially applies to old fittings, while also making sure to check new fittings once installed. If you want to make sure everything is taken care of, you should consider hiring a licensed home inspector for conducting a walkthrough of your property.

Home renovation

Increase Home Value with Exterior Design

While thinking of house price enhancement, most of the people are concentrating on the interior and dismiss the curb appeal. However, it is a known fact that the market value is largely improved through outdoor appeal, as the first thing people see while approaching is the exterior of the house. Therefore, houses with a nice curb appeal will have higher prices and stay less time on the market.

This does not only consist of exterior design, but can also include the landscaping, patio, or backyard. You should make sure that the sidewalks are clean and freshly weeded.

Use High-Quality Materials

Take extra time while making decisions about the renovation materials, as they reflect the future cost of the property. While at the first point you should try to understand what materials you have on hand that can be reused. Making the most of what you already have will help you save money and time.

It should be good to check the appropriateness according to some fundamental points when choosing construction materials, whether they are applicable with the site-specific environmental conditions, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, or applicable with the building size and type.

Living room renovation

Paint Home in Warm Colors

Fresh paint on your walls can substantially update the property look. There are even studies, according to which realtors suggest painting your house to have a more expensive look. The most important point here is to choose warm neutral colors, like white, beige or gray, that will make rooms look larger.

Correctly chosen colors will considerably emphasize its uniqueness and become memorable. Accent color for one part combined with minimalistic colors will make a good impression.

Make Easy Bath and Kitchen Remodels

A minor bathroom or kitchen renovation can enhance the home value, however, you should be sure that the work you have undertaken is small. Of course, bigger remodelings will be nice to have, while their return on investment lasts longer.

You can consider different low-cost ways to modernize your spaces that do not need many efforts or skills. For example, you can replace the hardware on bathroom cabinets, or add extra storage in your kitchen.

Bathroom renovation

Consider Energy Efficiency

Even though considering energy efficiency is not the best and cheapest way to increase home value, many professionals state that it surely does add value. Again, you can choose the way of minor improvements, like just installing energy-efficient appliances or upgrading to more productive LED lighting.

Investing in solar panels is another good way to increase property value. However, you should understand that solar panels will require a big financial budget, therefore, you should pursue this option only if you want to increase the value over a long-term period.

To conclude, the most important point to remember is that you should not spend more budget on your improvements than they will add to the property value. All of the steps above have been proven to be one of the best home improvements that can add value. Do not hesitate to contact us, and our professionals will guide and lead you to choose the best solutions that will increase your property value.

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8 Essential Things You Should Consider When Hiring Contractors

Whether you need minor home improvements, property inspection, or complete remodeling, there comes the moment you need to find a professional contractor. Contractors are important assets for your home project. They will provide you a vendor and subcontractor information you will need along the process. However, there are general tips you need to know before hiring a contractor. Finding and hiring the right crew can have a significant difference in terms of safety, budget, and stress.

The renovation process will turn into fun if you find the right company for your project. However, it is important to plan everything and hire a reliable contractor who can help you throughout the process. We have gathered some of the general steps and tips you should know when hiring a contractor like a pro. Please, take into consideration that these steps may vary according to the specific location or scope of the project. 

Step 1. Learn About the Types of Contractors

Contractors are professionals, who will execute your home project from start till the end. Before hiring a contractor you should understand your goals and find the right contractor with the experience that meets your needs. Depending on the scope and complexity of your project, there are different professionals you might want to hire:

Hiring contractor
    • designer; who will provide you with assistance on choosing the general look of your house,
    • architect; they will help you create a design structure of your home, including primary structural changes,
    • general contractor; company acting as a general contractor will help you manage the whole process that includes hiring and supervising vendors and subcontractors, as well as provide you with information about local regulations and necessary permits,
    • home inspector; hiring a certified home inspector will be well worth it, as they will evaluate your property’s condition and issue a comprehensive report, which will help you mitigate any possible risks,
    • painting contractor; they are usually hired as a subcontractor by your general contractor, or you can hire directly, who are usually working on small operations,
    • electrical contractor; they will help you handle any electrical repairs
    • other specialized contractors; there are other contractors, who are more concentrated in particular work areas and will help you install a cabinet and other appliances.

Step 2. Get Recommendations

After summarizing the scope of your project and choosing the types of contractors you would like to hire, ask some trusted sources for recommendations. It would be better to find a contractor from your neighborhood so that they are well aware of the specific regulations in your area. You can start by asking your friends, family, and neighbors, as well as some real estate agents who have completed projects similar to yours. By choosing local contracts, it will also be easier to contact them in case any problem arises.

Step 3. Check Licensing

Having a license is one of the most important aspects to check before choosing a contractor. Regardless of the type of your home project, you want to use a licensed contractor who is reliable and reputable. This will ensure that your contractor is aware of the building codes, safety policies, permitting, labor and hiring. The vast majority of states are requiring licenses for the completion of projects with a value of over $500. The required licenses vary across the states and can start with a simple registration and end with a comprehensive qualification process. By contacting your municipal licensing bureau, you can easily learn if the selected contractor has the license and if that is valid.

Contractor services

Step 4. Ask for a Certificate of Insurance

The next important factor to consider while hiring a contractor is looking at their insurance. This is especially important if there is an accident while the contractor staff is working on your project. You can ask for a certificate of insurance (COI), which includes information on the insurance company, policy number, and limits of the company. You can also directly check the validity of the information from the insurance company. If you decide to work with a company that doesn’t have insurance, you may be liable for any accident that occurs in your house.

Step 5: What to Ask for When Hiring a Contractor

After receiving suggestions and doing your research, it is important to check some of the information by making calls. You should have a list of companies that you need to contact and a few questions that you will need to ask each to compare their expertise. The following questions, as well as the general responsiveness of the contractor, will guide you to selecting the top option available for you.

General contractors
  • How long have you been operating in the industry?
    • How many similar projects have you completed?
    • Can you provide a list of your past clients or references?
    • Are you going to hire subcontractors for the project?
    • How are you going to manage the whole process?
    • Do you have a license and insurance?
    • What is the projected timeline for the workflow?
    • What will be the estimated cost for the project?

Step 6: Get Some Estimates Before Hiring a Contractor

Once you have compared your chosen contractors and narrowed down the list, get written estimates from them. In order to have the possibility to compare several bids, ask for a breakdown of the expenses by the following categories: supplies, labor, profit margins, and other expenses. However, it is important not to automatically choose the lowest bid. You should want to ask for the reasoning behind the difference in prices. We recommend choosing a bid that will be approximately 15% below the budget available at hand. This will allow you to afford to handle any unforeseen expenses throughout the project.

Step 7: Pick a Contractor with Solid Crew

Some part of your work may be completed by your contractors, however, they may also hire subcontractors from your local area for different types of work they are not specialized in. You should make sure that your contractor has a good team, who will manage the whole process. They need to be attentive to set a team of licensed and insured subcontractors. If your contractor subcontracts the work to anyone, just to complete the work, then the quality of your project will suffer. Be sure to ask this thoroughly from the reference list and by just directly asking the contractor.

Home construction services

Step 8: Get a Written Contract

The final and one of the most important steps for hiring a contractor comes signing the contract. Be sure to ask for a written contract that includes all the details of your project: proof of insurance, timeframe and work schedule, estimated start and completion dates of the project, list of materials that will be used with a detailed price for each item, pre-approved payment schedule, all required building permits, an obligation that contractor obtains lien releases from subcontractor companies and other suppliers, as well as any other information crucial for your project.

This whole process can seem intimidating and hard while doing good research and checking all details will pay off in the future. Working with someone you don’t rely on will turn into a headache. As a result, you can have unfinished work or exceeded budget. Therefore, take time for the research and secure a comprehensive written contract before starting the project. Don’t forget to pay special attention to the contract’s cancellation clause and all possible penalties. 

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Do’s and Don’ts You Need to Know Before Starting Your Home Renovation

If you are planning to start a home renovation project, you should be aware of different decisions you need to make on your way. Turning your dream house into reality requires a lot of time and effort. Of course, you would like to finish the project fast, but starting the process without good research can add up your expenses, become time-consuming, and even pose a danger. Here you can learn some home remodeling tips from our list of dos and don’ts for home renovation.

DO’S OF YOUR HOME RENOVATION

DO Check for the Necessary Permits

It will be frustrating and expensive to find out that you needed some permits after completing a large-scale renovation project. However, you can easily avoid these types of mistakes by doing comprehensive research over the necessary permits for your upcoming project.

The requirements for getting permits vary across the cities. Generally, you will need a permit for changes like demolishing a load-bearing wall, room additions, replacing a water heater, and installing a new furnace or air conditioner. While minor remodeling, such as interior or exterior painting, replacing countertop, and changing appliances will not need a special permit. 

Check for the Necessary Permits

DO Choose Renovations That Improve Property Value

The first main point you should consider before starting your home renovation project is whether it will add value to your property or not. There are specific projects that can boost your property value, like applying double glazing, bathroom add-ons, or energy-efficient remodeling.

On the other hand, there are renovation projects that may generally be costly without raising value, such as building an in-ground swimming pool or turning your two bedrooms into a single large one. Especially if you are planning to sell your home in the near future, you should invest in the affordable features that will increase your property value the most.

DO Invest in Appliances and Features You Are Going to Use

It may seem a great idea to install a luxury bathtub when planning a bathroom remodel, while the investment will be wasted if you won’t use it. Therefore, if there is something that might be a good idea for someone, it is not necessarily a right fit for your house.

When you are starting to plan your renovation, you need to make sure that all the features you are considering are meeting your needs. The best way to understand the necessary features and appliances is to consider the biggest issues of your property. For instance, if you don’t have enough working space in your kitchen, you should think of adding an open countertop area.

Choose Renovations That Improve Property Value

DO Consider Lighting

The correctly chosen color and lighting in your house play an important role in affecting the overall environment. When thinking of your home design, you should be sure to maximize natural light and plan your lighting system effectively. Having enough well-positioned windows will help you mitigate this issue. 

Once you have complete planning of your natural light, you can turn to think of your lighting, switches, and outlets. Be sure to choose the most effective solution from both lighting and product selection perspective.

DON’TS OF YOUR HOME RENOVATION

DON’T DIY if You Are Not Qualified

Doing a part of home renovation on your own will help you to save money. Many projects don’t require to be a professional, and you can find different tutorials on the web for that. Tasks like painting are DIY projects that you can complete all yourself. You may even try to lay the tiles or install flooring in your house alone.

While even though little things are comparatively safe to DIY, others may appear to be hard, or even dangerous. These kinds of jobs, like plumbing or window installation, may even require a license. Therefore you should make sure that you have contacted an experienced contractor for completing your work professionally.

DON’T DIY if You Are Not Qualified

DON’T Underestimate Curb Appeal

While starting a home renovation, the majority are concentrated on the interior of the property and forget that the market value is largely improved through curb appeal. The first thing that potential buyers see is the exterior of the house. Therefore the properties with a good curb appeal usually have higher prices and stay less time on the market.

This does not necessarily consist of only exterior condition, but can also include the sidewalk of the house, as well as the porch or backyard. Ensure that the sidewalk is clean and newly weeded. You can also think of planting low maintenance plants, along with a fresh layer of mulch.

DON’T Forget to Plan the Storage

When starting the renovation project, remember to plan your space effectively. If you want to make some additions to your rooms, make sure to pay enough attention to the storage. Storage is one of the most important areas of your house as it can help you maintain it clean and tidy.

Despite you are going to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, be sure to consider storage space in advance. The best way to ensure the process of your project, plan your spaces during the design stage. Think through all the items you need to stash, then work with your design-build remodeling team to make it happen!

DON’T Forget to Plan the Storage

DON’T Forget to Enjoy the Process

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the whole process and have some fun. This is going to be a challenging process, while it is the process of turning your dream house into reality. You can turn it into a pleasant experience despite the amount you have foreseen for the renovation.

If you are ready to start your project and want to have fun, be sure to choose contractors carefully. Hiring a qualified and experienced remodeling contractor plays an important role. Considerable expertise within the industry, coupled with our professional management approach will ensure high-quality service from start to finish. Even if you don’t have all the details, don’t delay contacting us and discussing your project.

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14 of the Best Home Renovation Apps, Tool and Software

No matter how big or small home improvement projects you are planning to take on, it can turn into a nightmare if you don’t plan and manage properly. Especially if it’s your first renovation project, you need guidance and assistance in all aspects. Mistakes can add up to the cost, require redoing more than once and prolong the deadline.

To avoid redoing over and over you have to foresee every minor detail: design, plan, and organize like a pro. But where to start? Before even consulting with contractors, begin with research. Explore the tools and apps that can give you a full picture and basic understanding of home renovations. Here we present our top selection of tools that you need to begin and manage home renovations.

Apps for Home Renovation Planning

Floorplanner

Floorplanner lets to design and decorate spaces in 2D and 3D online, without downloading any software. 

Apps for Renovation Flooring

RoomScan

RoomScan is for measuring a room and creating a floorplan. RoomScan will create a detailed and scaled floor plan. Simply scan your desired room, and a virtual floorplan will be generated.

Carpetright Visualizer

Carpetright’s flooring visualizer will help to envision what your room will look like with carpet, vinyl, wood, or laminate flooring. Take a photo of your chosen room (or select a sample room) and upload it onto the visualizer. You’ll be able to customize the wall color and flooring type. From there you can save your rooms and order swatches.

Apps that Help You Design Space

iHandy Carpenter

You can use the iHandy Carpenter to check flat surfaces and use the plumb bob to assess vertical walls. The app has a steel protractor and on-screen rulers for measuring in inches and centimeters.

Apps that Help You Design Space

Houzz

At Houzz, you can get access to a large database of more than 20 million photos of home design inspirations. With the help of one of the plus features like “View in My Room 3D” virtually test out over 1 million products in your own space. In addition, with Houzz, you can find and hire qualified contractors, purchase construction materials, and any home-related product. The Houzz is free on iOS and Android.

Apps that Help You Design Space

ColorSnap

With ColorSnap you can test and see how paint colors look on selected walls, before making a final decision and purchasing. ColorSnap will suggest matching color combinations and provide color palettes that have been developed and proposed by experts.

Color911

Color911 is a simple app, for generating color palettes. ($4 on iOS)

Apps for Finding Qualified Contractors


Handy.com

The Handy.com app makes it easy to book home maintenance services, so users can save time and energy on home improvement projects. IOS, Android

Apps for Finding Qualified Contractors

Must-Have Free Apps for Contractors

 Building Calculator

Building Calculator is a free construction calculator app. It helps contractors to calculate the number of materials they’ll need for a project. You can even use it offline. Calculate projects using materials such as bricks, lumber, flooring, and paint. Also calculate concrete volume, armatures weight, wall blocks needed, and more. It’s free and there are no ads within the app.

Must-Have Free Apps for Contractors

 Canvas

Canvas is a reporting app for contractors. It allows you to fill out audits, forms, inspections, estimates, and work orders all through a mobile device. You can create forms, convert them to PDF, and share them easily. Get it on Google Play or the App Store.

JobFLEX

JobFLEX is an estimating and bid management app. It delivers estimates on the spot and allows to generate customizable forms to preview email, and print.

Handyman Calculator

Handyman Calculator is equipped with various calculating tools, including a fraction calculator, cultist calculator, square footage calculator, concrete calculator, plywood calculator, angle calculator, and much more.

Apps for General Contractors

Fieldpulse

Fieldpulse is a general contractor app. It enables you to schedule jobs for your team, add notes, photos, and files so you keep your workers up to date on projects at all times. You can even use employee time tracking so you know exactly how much time your team spends on-site – all they need to do is to clock in and out using their phones.

In order to be resourceful and achieve better results by meeting all the deadlines, use modern solutions and tools. There are dozens of options that can make the process easier to handle and get the desired end results. Carefully select apps that can simplify your tasks.

Free Home Renovation Guide

Festive and Easy Thanksgiving Decorations Ideas For This Year

For many of us, Thanksgiving is the time of the year when the family gathers around to taste delicious meals and thank each other for all the good we share. While you may love celebrating Thanksgiving, there are a lot of things you need to plan when you host it. And between preparing turkey and baking a pie, you may need some interesting and festive ideas to plan your day. Here we share some ideas for you to take your celebration to the next level.

Start With Decorating The Front Door

Decorating your house will bring a festive mood to you and your family. Front door is the first part your guests will see, therefore, you can welcome them with a warm greeting. For example a wreath can be a good idea to show that you are ready for Thanksgiving Day. While you can buy beautiful decorations from the craft store, making something on your own will be more mesmerizing.

thanksgiving front door design

Take The Party Outside This Thanksgiving 

You can also take the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Don’t be afraid to take your beautiful dining table and chairs outside to your backyard  or garden by creating a special environment. If you don’t have a big backyard, you can even organize something special on a deck on your porch.

Organize A Movie Night With Your Family

Once your guests have tasted all your dishes from Thanksgiving menu, it is a good time to gather for a cozy old-fashioned movie. Because festive movies are very easy and positive, it will be entertaining for your whole family members despite their age. Put a lot of pillows, prepare some popcorn and choose a classic movie to watch. If you have a mood for the holiday season, you can also watch a Christmas movie.

movie-night-at-back-yard-royalty-free

Set-Up and Decorate The Dining Table

Provided that meal is the main component of Thanksgiving celebration, decorating your table for the dinner is a must-do. There are a number of themed decoration ideas or elements from which you can choose to create a festive mood. Despite you are going to have a large gathering or just planning to spend time with your family, a nicely decorated table will present your thankfulness.

Enjoy Thanksgiving day with good food and good company.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Housing Market

The spread of COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March. Shelter-in-place orders have been issued for cities across the country and 23 million individuals were reported claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits by October 2020. Additionally, big firms started rethinking their office needs and some commercial real-estate deals were put on hold. Therefore, it is evident that the pandemic has already caused widespread disruption in the housing market in the U.S., while the main question remains whether COVID-19 will cause housing to collapse.

The housing market is one of the main sectors that are very vulnerable to economic shocks and needs to adapt to the challenges posed by the spread of the disease. Generally, Covid-19 had an impact on the U.S. housing market and the number of homes listed for sales has decreased. However, the common assumption is that the market has remained relatively competitive and below are presented some of the key facts of the housing market as of October 2020, according to Redfin:

  • Home selling median prices increased by 15% in October 2020 over the past year to $320,625 – the highest on record.
  • Pending sales went up to 32% and new listings of homes for sale went up to 8% from a year earlier.
  • Available inventory – the number of homes listed for sales during October 2020 fell by 29% compared to 2019, reaching the lowest figure over the last decade.
  • Mortgage applications have increased by 26% from a year earlier during October.
  • Mortgage rates were down just slightly to 2.8%.
  • Sales of previously owned homes rose to the highest level in 14 years.

However, the level of the impact on the housing market is still to be observed, as it is uncertain how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last.

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How To Find REO Properties

Buying a new home is always an exciting process, while it may turn out very expensive. Therefore, many possible home-buyers are trying to save money by acquiring distressed property on sale. This generally indicates that they are looking for a house that has been foreclosed by the bank. One of such options are Real estate owned (REO) properties. Here we present what you should know about purchasing properties from REO listings before starting the process.

About REO Properties

REO property is the house which ownership has been transferred to a mortgage lender or investor. This occurs as a result of failure of the property owners to make payment of the loan. These can be single- or multi-family houses, townhouses, or condos. These properties afterwards go through the foreclosure process and may be sold through online listings, real estate brokers, REO banks, or auctions.

Foreclosure vs REO

If you think of investing in the distressed property, you need also to understand the difference between foreclosed and REO properties. Foreclosure occurs when the property owner fails to make the loan payment. Consequently, the mortgage lender will retrieve the house to sell and cover the unpaid amount. While, the REO property has already gone through this process and its ownership was transferred to the bank or mortgage lender.

Investing in REO Properties

Investing in REO Properties

In general, real estate investment has many advantages as it helps you to diversify your portfolio. While you can benefit more from the REO property purchase, in terms of the future returns. It is connected with the fact that lenders try to sell their inventory and offer REO properties “as is”. Therefore, they list these houses at discounted prices compared to their market values. This offers high chances to get high returns on investment, which makes REO properties more attractive for home-buyers and investors.

Finding REO Properties

Primarily, finding an REO property is like looking for a discounted house. There are several sources that have REO listings, while you need a research to get the best deals. Here are the possible options you can look for REO properties.

Finding REO Properties

1. Online REO Listings

The basic way is going through publicly accessible directories with REO listings throughout different stages of foreclosure. You can purchase from these websites in a number of ways, like auction, bid on the website or connect with agent directly. 

Different online platforms, such as Foreclosure.com, Auction.com, RealtyTrac.com, offer an opportunity of finding properties according to the specific aspects. Some of these websites provide their services for a fee, while you can find others that are completely free. Many banks and lenders also have specific sections in their websites where they publish REO listings.

2. Public records

Another good option for finding REO properties for sale are public records. The County Clerk is noting the information about each foreclosed property in their records. Therefore, legal notices from the Notice of Default (NOD) or the Notice of Sale (NOS) are the place you may find available listings. The best side of public records is that it is free and accessible for everyone. Here you can even see houses that were not listed online yet.

3. Real Estate Broker

Another way to find REO properties, even before becoming publicly available, is to enhance your network of real estate brokers. Their main work is to support you in finding and buying properties for sale. You can find a broker from your area through searching the web, personal referrals, or visiting your local real estate office.

You can also find REO properties for your chosen area through Multiple Listing Service website. This is a unified real estate database, where the majority of real estate brokers have access. While if you have a local REO agent in your network, you will be notified about suitable opportunities even before appearing on the website. Additionally, they can provide more accurate information as they have visited the property.

4. Government Organizations

Other than banks and mortgage lenders, some government agencies, like National Mortgage Association, the U.S. Department of Housing and the Small Business Administration are also carrying out foreclosure. You can look for such listings on their official websites. These websites usually list their own REO properties, however, here you can’t find detailed information.

After Finding Ideal REO Property

After Finding Ideal REO Property

  1. Review your REO financing options: After finalizing your choice, you should move to reviewing your possible financing options. You should be prepared in advance, as fast response for such purchase is especially crucial.
  2. Hire an agent with REO-related expertise: If you want to finish the purchasing process smoothly, you should cooperate with an experienced broker. They will assist you in finding the best property with the best possible price.
  3. Get a property inspection: Provided that you are going to purchase the property “as is” and there might be significant issues, you should get the property inspected before making an offer. Appraisal will help you create an exact knowledge about the property condition, and can even help you receive a higher discount.
  4. Submit an offer: Your agent will assist you in putting together a successful offer and submitting it to the lender. You may be required to submit specific documents and send a deposit in about 1 – 2% of the total price.
  5. Close the deal: Once the offer has been approved, you can proceed to the final stage of closing your deal. This process is similar to the final stage of any other sale. However, if you fail to make the payment within the stipulated date, you will have to pay penalties.

In Summary

Purchasing REO property is a considerable investment, while you need to be patient and decisive to finish the process. With the foreclosure on the rise across the nation, purchasing REO properties may offer an opportunity for investors and home-buyers. It will give an opportunity to purchase a property with significant savings compared to buying in the typical retail market. The steps of purchasing REO home are unique, and better be supported by a real estate agent with an REO field expertise.

How To Finance Home Renovations

Have you decided to start a home renovation? How are you going to finance that? Are you going to finance on your own or do you want to apply for a home improvement loan? Depending on your own situation and the size of the necessary renovation, you can find different possible funding options. United Field Services, Inc. wants to present some of the most common ones for your attention.

Refinance your home loan

Another option to start a renovation without taking an additional loan is reviewing your current home loan and checking whether refinancing the mortgage will suit your needs. In other words, you can leverage the equity of your home and involve additional resources for home improvement. This will be calculated by comparing the value of the assets you own and the amount of your current mortgage.

An important thing to consider is that there might be some hidden fees, including the ones for appraisal, taxes, fees for origination, or other related costs. Additionally, if you are interested in taking a long-term loan, the life of your loan will be extended and you will need to pay off for a longer period. However, this option might be beneficial if you can negotiate a lower interest rate compared to your initial one.

Take out a personal loan

If you don’t want to connect your renovation loan with home value, taking personal loan might be the best option. These loans are typically provided up to around $50,000 and are offered in the secured or unsecured forms. Therefore, this is especially good option for small-scaled renovations. This option can be more convenient, as this loan mostly has lower interest rates and you will not be required to provide collateral. The interest rate will mostly depend on the terms, specific product, and the credit history you have up to now. 

Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

The home equity line of credits (HELOC) is very common for financing home improvements. HELOC is a secured loan, which is not provided as a lump sum. Instead, you can withdraw necessary funds from the line of credit several times. This means that you will have to pay interest only for the portion of the HELOC you have used. Based on the fact that your home is provided as collateral for the loan, interest rates are usually lower than the ones for personal unsecured loans. HELOCs are mainly suggested with a 10-year period for withdrawal and 20-year for repayment. 

Home equity loan

Compared to the HELOC, home equity loan is mostly known as a second mortgage and is provided as a lump sum. The loan is repaid for the defined number of years with fixed monthly payments. This mostly makes you secured from the market fluctuations. This is a comfortable option if you are sure about the total amount necessary for you. However, if you have additional expenses, it might become a problem, given that your home is again used as collateral. 

Construction loan

If you are planning a large-scale renovation, like knocking down and rebuilding home, another possible option is construction loan. This type of loan mainly depends on the estimated value of the house after the renovation, which gives you an opportunity to cash out the necessary amount of budget for renovation-related payments.

Other options 

If you are ready to start the home improvement process, as we have presented, you have multiple available options. Your options start from using your own savings to HELOCs, home equity loans, or construction loans. In case the renovation is small and is based on regular expenses, you can consider also using a credit card or overdraft option. Before using this option, you should note that these types of loans have higher interest rates and additional fees than others. 

You can also look at interest-free loans or grants for specific renovations that might be suggested in your area, for instance, there are certain incentives in some states offered to owners adding solar panels to their houses.

How to apply for a home improvement loan

  1. Apply before you need to start improvements.
  2. Determine how much you need.
  3. Determine your preferred loan term.
  4. Get prequalified.
  5. Consider your eligibility.

Paying from your own pocket

In case you prefer to avoid taking new loans, you may finance the renovation from your savings or other funds you are able to access. This option appears to be easier and less risky than lending a loan if you have enough money to cover all of the home improvement costs.

Using your own finance means you can start your house renovation without worrying about extra expenses afterward. Nevertheless, you need to consider the planning of your savings carefully. You need to check that after the withdrawal of the necessary amount for the renovation from your savings, you still have some emergency money sufficient for unforeseen expenses.

Free Home Renovation Guide

Best Real Estate Software Top Agents Use In 2020

Whether you want to improve your marketing strategy, create a better client experience, get more leads, optimize client management and communication processes, organize disclosures, there are tools and solutions perfected to meet those needs. 

Here United Field Services presents the main categories and a list of solutions available that you can start using today.

Real Estate CRM Tools

A typical Real Estate CRM tool helps to manage leads, automate salesforce, emails, and contacts. It brings value by helping to track, manage, and move prospects through the sales process. 

TotalBrokerage

The system is an all in one solution for anyone who’s looking for a CRM system that will combine lead tracking and management, marketing activities, action plans, transaction workflows, auditing, reporting, and many more. Through the comfortable UX design, TotalBrokerage is an ideal solution for the agents who’re trying to increase sales in every possible way. TotalBrokerage is mostly used as real estate transaction software.

Billing: From $219/month

HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM is considered the most popular CRM system. On HubSpot, you can personalize email templates, schedule meetings, manage the personal information of your clients, track performance, and much more. If you’re looking for a free real estate CRM software, you can start with HubSpot.

Drawbacks: Although Hubspot is free, and has perfect features for real estate agents, it has some drawbacks too that you must be aware of. Some of the drawbacks are: it gets expensive if you scale the business or your operations. It’s difficult to use not as an all-in-one tool, the available templates are difficult to change, A/B Testing options are limited, you have to pay for technical support, etc. 

Billing: Free and paid options are available. 

Freshsales

Freshsales is an Ai-based CRM and deals management software. The Freshsales’s top features are lead, contact, deal, account and email management, event tracking, lead scoring, etc. Here you can automate calls, Auto-assign leads, and create complete workflows. One of the pros of this tool is the clear interface of reporting systems.  

Billing: You can have a forever-free plan and always have a chance to switch to paid options starting from $12/month.

Agile CRM

Agile CRM helps to manage personal or team tasks, set up meeting appointments, follow the documentation, etc. Thanks to all these features, the system is usually listed among the best free CRM software for real estate agents.  

Although the free features may be enough to run the necessary operations, Agile CRM offers additional paid features that you can purchase with a starting price of $8.99/month. 

Real Estate Agency Solutions 

Bitrix24

With Bitrix24 you can manage a project, assign deadlines, and keep communication with clients. The website suggests live video conferencing, social media assimilations, callback forms, and many more features. 

Paid option: You can get its always-free version, but Bitrixx24 offers to buy more storage or integrate sales intelligence for only $24/month.

Rio Genesis

This website will help you manage your team and schedule. The most important feature is that it allows different permissions for different users. So not everyone can have access to the stored information. 

Pricing: Starting at $99/month

BackAgent

If you’re looking for real estate back office management software, BackAgent is here for you. Mostly used for team management, BackAgent is a good tool with the main CRM features. You can create checklists, track tasks and deals, and many more. The users mostly like the checklist adding option, as it helps to track the deals and proceed them smoothly. 

Billing: From $5/month

Real Estate Transaction Management Solutions

Loft47

Loft47 is for following the financial activities of the company/agent. It integrates with other real estate tools that help to manage the transactions, fees, commissions, etc. 

Billing: From $90/month

DotLoop

Dotloop- complete solutions for any real estate pro

DotLoop will help to optimize the real estate transactions. With real-time visibility of all transactions, the agents will always get their automated workflows.

Pricing: Starting at $29/month

Pipedrive

The leading part of Pipedrive is that you can assimilate it with Trello, Asana, and Slack. By creating the funnel the system helps you to easily find in which stage exactly your contract is. By this feature, Pipedrive deserves to be among the best CRM for real estate.

Billing: From $12.5/month

Commercial Real Estate Solutions  

RealSpace

RealSpace helps to create and publish listings, brochures, and share it with your leads. It manages the leads from multiple locations and centralizes the data in one place. With easily customizable designs you can create a website for your listing. RealSpace is among the best rental management software for numerous listings.

Billing: From $49/month

Contactually

Contactually is a specially built CRM system for real estate agents. Contactually is designed for creating personalized offers for the buyers and provides support in following the funnel and automating the campaigns. 

Pricing: From $69/month 

Zillow Premier Agent

zillow - CRM for real estate agents

With Zillow, you can access information about your potential client’s search history which may be helpful for you with the development of personalized offers for them. Once you’ve been assigned as “My agent”, the client will only see you as an agent while looking for an agent list for a specific listing.

Paid option: Zillow offers lots of advertising options to fit any budget

PalmAgent ONE 

Best real estate app for estimating closing costs. PalmAgent ONE is considered as the real estate best closing cost app. It calculates both the “buyer estimates” and “closing costs”.

Pricing: Starting at $0.99/month

Propertybase

Besides being a CRM software for house retailers, it also offers marketing solutions such as creating websites integrated with the CRM system. It allows us to organize listings and automate daily tasks. Propertybase is one of the best CRM for real estate.

Billing: From $69/month

Wise Agent

Wise Agent is ideal if you have a large scale of information on clients. It has a centralized accessible database. It automatically pulls social data from the mailing of the clients.

Pricing: Starting from as low as $29/month

Real Estate Marketing and Lead Generation 

Zurple

zurple - client generation software for real estate agents

Zurple users are mostly describing the system as “it helps you to generate leads even if you’re sleeping”. It’s one of the best real estate lead generation software available in the market. With the integrated behavioral marketing automation, the system tracks the leads and automates the follow-ups with the customers. By using the analytics the Zurple provides you can reach the customers on the most preferred time and transform the lead to a meeting.

Billing: From $99/month

Hire Aiva

Hire Aiva is a good solution for any agent who’s looking for an automated follow-up system. Once the system has caught the lead, it starts the personalized tracking and helps you to get in touch with the engaged customer in any convenient way for you. 

Billing: From $299/month

Cloud Attract

This tool will help you to create a personalized landing page in a few easy steps. First, you need to choose your target audience. Are you going to target home sellers or buyers? By answering some additional AI-generated questions you will get the best landing page sample for you. 

Pricing: Free trial and $99/month 

BoldLeads

boldleads - real estate lead generation tool

They offer A/B testing features for landing pages. A/B testings will help to understand your potential clients’ needs and preferences. You can integrate it with a CRM system and get the most out of the landing page.

Pricing: Starting from $269/month

Placester

The main advantage of Placester compared to other website builders is that it is built-in SEO friendly way, so you will not have problems with customers looking for your listing. They have pre-written content and lead-capturing forms.

Pricing: Starting at $99/month

ZOHO

ZOHO provides the best solutions for the agents who are aiming to be in contact with the customers in every possible way. The system allows integrating live chats and being in contact with customers via Social Media channels. The real-time reporting that the system provides helps to be in touch with your business no matter where you are.

Billing: From $18/month

Real Geeks

Once someone checks for your link the system will define a lead you’ll get an email or notification and immediately follow the funnel. It is also convenient for managers who want to be in touch with agents and track their productivity.

Billing: $249/month

Virtual Tour Tools 

iStaging LiveTour

In iStaging LiveTour you can create 360 tours for your listings

In iStaging LiveTour you can create 360 tours for your listings with your phone. The image quality can be up to 8K. You can buy a 720 lens and take photos by using your phone.

Pricing: Starting at $5/month

EyeSpy360

The lockdown has reminded us that we need a backup plan for every aspect of our lives. The EyeSpy360 helps you to create virtual tours and 3D modelings of your listing. By simply uploading your 360 photos the system does the rest. You can also integrate a group video chatting option that is ideal for non-solo customers.

Billing: From $13.99/month

Call Tracking Tools  

REDx + Storm Dialer

If you are not using a cold calling strategy and tools, then you are losing business deals in this industry. REDx + Storm Dialer helps you to manage your calls by using an autodialer.  Pricing: Starting at $99.99/month.

By its nature, the real estate industry is highly competitive and evolving. These tools will help you as an agent to stay competitive, win new clients, save more time, and become a top real estate agent. Keep up with the current tech innovations and integrate the best real estate software solutions into your daily operations.

Free Home Renovation Guide