Important Questions You Need to Ask About Your Home Insurance Policy

Home insurance plays a massive role in protecting your home and your family from possible financial distress caused by disasters or other unexpected events. Thus, having the right type and amount of coverage is essential.

Whether it’s your fifth or first time to buy a home property insurance, discussing these questions with your insurance agent will help ensure that you end up with a policy that offers you the value and protection you need, maybe even more.

1. What is homeowners’ insurance?

Homeowners purchase a home insurance policy to protect their homes from damage and disasters. What many don’t know is that there’s so much more to it than coverage for the physical and structural integrity of their home.

If it’s your first time to buy home insurance, don’t be embarrassed to ask your agent more information about your policy and what it can do for you. Standard homeowners’ policies do not only protect your home and your belongings; they will protect you and your families against certain liabilities as well.

2. What are the monthly premiums?

In insurance, “premiums” refer to the amount you’ll pay for your policy on a monthly or yearly basis. Upon meeting with an insurance agent, one of the first questions you need to ask is the price of their premiums and what they cover. Most insurance providers offer their clients several premium tiers to choose from.

One mistake that homeowners often make – especially first-time homebuyers – is that they go for the first insurance company they find. If you want to get excellent value for the money you pay on premiums, always shop around. Doing so will allow you to compare quotes from different insurers and help you find the best deal out there.

3. Does my insurance cover all types of disasters?

Many people assume that home insurance will protect them from every type of risk or disaster that could happen to their homes. Sadly, that is not the case. Your insurance will only cover specific types of perils, and only up to the amount indicated in your policy. Basic home insurance coverage typically includes loss and damages due to fire, explosion, smoke, hail, lightning, theft, and vandalism.

Aside from the dwelling coverage, insurance policies also include:

Personal property coverage to protect your personal belongings in case of loss, theft, or vandalism

Liability coverage to protect you and your family from lawsuits and medical liabilities in case of 3rd-party physical injury or property damage

Additional living expenses coverage to cover your temporary living expenses in case your home becomes unlivable due to severe damage caused by a covered peril

You may opt to increase your premiums or purchase endorsements to increase your coverage. Ask your agent about these options.

4. What kind of risks are not covered?

While you can rely on your home insurance to protect you from most common risks and perils, it has its limitations. Depending on the provider, policies may slightly differ in price and scope, but they generally exclude natural flooding and earthquake disasters. Those who live in a flood-prone or earthquake-prone area may purchase endorsements or a separate policy for these risks.

Also, the policy will not cover damages from war, nuclear explosion, or power failure. The same goes for intentional damage or those caused by neglect.

5. Is this amount of coverage enough to rebuild my home from the ground up?

Your homeowner’s policy should cover the expenses of a total rebuild, just in case your home is brutally hit by a disaster. After all, this is the whole point of having home insurance. To get a more accurate estimate of the possible reconstruction cost of your home, consider working with local agents, as they’re more familiar with the construction landscape in the area.

Also, make sure to find out whether your policy covers actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost value (RCV). When you make a claim, an ACV policy will deduct the depreciation cost into the payout, while an RCV policy will not. It’s recommended to have your home and belongings insured at replacement cost value.

6. Is there a way to reduce my monthly premium? Am I eligible for any discounts?

One of the easiest ways to reduce your monthly premium is by increasing your deductible. You may also end-up receiving special credits from companies if your home is equipped with alarms and other safety installations.

If you’re a senior, a student, or a retiree, don’t forget to ask your agent if you’re qualified for any discounts. Many insurance companies offer discounts to specific demographics, but since they don’t usually advertise these, you have to make it a point to ask.

About the Author

Rachael Harper is the Content Marketing Strategist of Bennett & Porter, a wealth management and insurance firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. When not writing, she makes use of her time reading books and playing bowling with her family and friends.

DIY Projects: 6 Ways to Create the Perfect Homework Space


Does your child struggle to get motivated when it’s time to tackle their homework? Try creating a place for them to call their own when it’s time to hunker down and do their assignments. This will help them work more efficiently by cutting out distractions and give them pride in their workspace. Plus, when it comes to DIY projects, this one is a total breeze!

Follow these six steps to help you create the perfect homework space for your kids.

1. Find a dedicated area.

Doing homework in the dining or living room is common, but your child will feel more focused and relaxed in a space that’s all their own. Find a dedicated space that’s away from the hustle and bustle that often happens in the dining room and living room. This will limit the distractions of TV, electronic devices and other various household activities.

Not to mention, children often prefer smaller, cozier spaces, so don’t stress about setting aside an entire room. If you have a quiet nook or an unused closet (minus the door, of course), that may be all they need! Just make sure it’s accessible, well-lit and cheery – unless their idea of a special space is a young wizard’s cupboard-under-the-stairs. Hey, it all worked out for Harry!

2. Make comfort a priority.

Your child will work better – and feel better – if their desk and chair are comfortable and encourage proper posture. An adjustable chair and desk will ensure they’re at ease while they work on their assignments and help keep them focused.

Keep in mind, a chair is the right height if your child’s knees are bent at 90 degrees. In most cases, the surface of the table should be about 8” above their seat level, but feel free to adjust it for their comfort. If their chair is too high, have them put their feet on a footstool or stack of books. They’ll grow into it (and thank you for it!)

3. Include your kids in your planning.

Keep your kids involved in the planning and organizing of their workspace. If they help create their space, they’ll feel a sense of pride and want to keep it organized. Let them pick their favorite colors for their supplies and hang their favorite art projects to spruce up their area.

If their workspace feels special to them, they’ll use it more often and be more efficient when they do.

4. Sort their supplies.

To save space, make sure there’s a hook where your child can store their backpack. This will keep their area neat and help them avoid spending half their time looking for their misplaced bag. Place shelves, decorative boxes and colorful jars around the area to store their school supplies and liven up their space.

You can also try hanging a calendar above their desk to keep them motivated to meet their goals and deadlines. This will help your child learn to take ownership over their work and keep their desk free of clutter. Who knows, they may just carry these skills into other parts of the house. Anything’s possible!

5. Avoid distractions.

It’s great if your kids want to use their workspace to draw or be creative, but try to cut down on other distractions like video games and electronic devices. While their workspace should be inviting and fun, interruptions should be limited.

However, this can be the perfect spot for them to play educational games and activities. It doesn’t have to be completely dedicated to homework. They are kids, after all!

6. Make it a shared space.

If you have more than one child, consider making the area a shared homework space. Some children work better in groups. Just make sure everyone has enough room to work and is respectful of each other’s space. Another option is to set up a schedule so only one child is using the space at a time. This is better for kids who prefer silence when focusing on their schoolwork.

Following these steps will help you create an awesome space for your kids to do their homework, and help them stay on track throughout the entire year!

3 Steps to Create the Ultimate Man Cave

By Isabella Caprario

Whether you call it a sportsman cave, a garage man cave, an outdoorsman cave, or any other variation on the man cave idea, space where guys can hang out, watch sports, maybe play some pool, have a few drinks, and just kick back and relax is a great addition to any home.

Step 1: Plan Your Man Cave

The first step to get started building out your best man cave is to think about what inspires you. If you’re not sure, go online to look for inspiration and clever man cave ideas.

You’ll also want to figure out where it can go: garage man caves are popular, as are basement man caves. But you can also create a man cave office or make use of a room for a little man cave. The space you have will determine the best layout but most of the main dos and don’ts of and common mistakes when creating a man cave will apply to whatever kind of space you have to work with:

  • DO think about how you’ll use the space. That may help determine your layout, furniture choices, and even your theme.
  • DO consider hiring a pro to help with a bigger man cave conversion in garages and basements.
  • DO try to keep your man cave away from bedrooms to prevent noise and sleep disturbances.
  • DO think about how your man cave can be used by the rest of the family for movie nights, board games, etc.
  • DON’T try to make a man cave out of a corner of a room used for another purpose, if possible. For example, a man cave garage that’s also still used for car, tool, and gardening equipment storage won’t be a very fun place to hang out in.
  • DON’T think you need to spend a lot of money on your man cave if you’re on a tight budget. As long as you have space, you can repurpose furniture and accessories already in your house to create the basics of a great man cave, and build on it slowly as your time and budget allow.

One of the funniest parts about planning a man cave is choosing a theme. Popular man cave themes are rustic, garage-style, bar or tavern-style, old-time, and modern. You’re limited only by your imagination when it comes to choosing a theme for your man cave, so have fun with it!

Even if your space has challenges, there are some helpful tips and ideas to help make the most out of your man cave space:

  • Small man cave ideas: just because your man cave is small doesn’t mean it can’t be a relaxing place to hang out. Take a less-is-more approach and choose only the focal points that matter most and will actually fit in the room. Select furniture that’s comfortable while still staying on the small side (think chairs instead of sofas, for example). Use light paint colors to make the room appear bigger, mount your TV on the wall, and use overhead lighting rather than floor and table lamps to save space. 
  • Garage man cave ideas and garage bar ideas: Garages are popular spaces to convert into man caves. There are some specific questions with a garage conversion you’ll need to answer, however. Is the garage weatherproof? Does it need insulation, heating, or air conditioning? Does the garage already have power? What about flooring? Do you want to install a bar or bathroom, and if so, is plumbing and water available? Do you need to get a permit for anything related to your garage conversion?
  • Man cave ideas for basements and rustic basement ideas: Basements can also make an ideal place to create a place to escape. Like garages, however, basement man cave ideas will depend largely on the space. Is the basement waterproofed? Do you need to add insulation, heating, cooling, or flooring? Is there enough headroom to stand comfortably? What about emergency exits, windows, and other legally-required features? When in doubt, be sure to consult with a pro if you’re not sure about what you need to turn your basement into a killer man cave.

Step 2: Choose Your Man Cave Features

Once you’ve decided on the placement, layout, and theme of your man cave, you can start thinking about what to include, the best furniture, best accessories, best features, and best materials to use. No matter your budget, you can still create the man cave of your dreams:

Focal points

Next, figure out what you want to include in your man cave. Are you a gamer? A big-screen TV, comfy seating, gaming systems, and the right lighting and sound system is a must. You could even go all out with some standalone man cave arcade games. Love to entertain the guys? If you have space and the budget, why not include a bar? (Do a web search for man cave bar ideas to get inspired.) If there’s no space for a bar, you could instead get a small man cave refrigerator. Or if you love to work out, why not include a weight bench and other workout equipment in the space?

Just try not to cram everything in, even if you have space and the budget for it. There’s no point in having a pool table or a ping pong table if you’ll never use them. Think about what’s important to you, how you want to use your space and choose the focal points that matter most to you.

The best man cave furniture

It’s important to select furniture that suits your space and is comfortable and welcoming. It should also be plentiful enough to allow for guests and parties. Different types of seating such as sofas, overstuffed man cave chairs and recliners, bar stools, and table seating will offer versatility to the space that you can use for parties, watching the big game, playing video games, family board game night, or just kicking back with a beer.

The best man cave accessories

Man cave art: Art is a great opportunity to show off your personality and include a little humor and playfulness with the room decor. For example, some man caves feature literal caveman drawings as a fun play on words.

Man cave lighting: the right lighting can go a long way in creating the right ambience in a room. Make sure you have proper lighting for your cave, such as a hanging light over a pool table, ambient lighting for gaming, dimmable lights for watching TV and movies, and spotlights for art.

Man cave signs: a man cave sign, such as something outlining your man cave rules is a fun touch to add a little personal touch to your space.

Man cave wall decorations: decorations are an easy way to show off your theme and your personal interests and hobbies.

Man cave bar ideas and accessories: many man caves will feature some kind of bar or beverage station. You can go rustic or modern; simple or more elaborate: try to find barstools, glasses, and other bar accessories to match your theme to tie the bar area in with the rest of the room.

Step 3: Build It Out

Once everything is planned out and you’ve done your research, the next step is to build out your man cave. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated: there are a lot of DIY man cave ideas on the web that offer tips, tricks, and advice for building out a great space. But if your plans require permits, moving walls, or other bigger construction or remodeling, consider hiring a pro to do the work for you.

One Last Step: Enjoy Your New Space!

This is the most important part of the entire process. If you followed the process, you’re more likely to end up with space you’ll enjoy for years to come. A great man cave will be a place where you can relax with friends, enjoy the game, and have a whole lot of fun.

To Fence or Not to Fence

By Megan Glenn

The question of whether to add a fence to your home is not an easy one to answer.  Certainly there are situations in which a fence is not only desirable, but necessary.  If you own, for example, a large dog, it is almost a necessity to have an enclosure in which it can roam without posing a threat to passersby.  Families with small children often opt for a fence as well, as a means of keeping little ones safe from busy streets or other hazards. 

Whether or not a fence adds value to a property is debatable, and reliable information on actual increase in value is hard to find.  It is, however, arguable that a well-built fence adds resale value if for no other reason than that families and dog-owners do buy homes.  A tasteful fence that matches the aesthetic of a home also creates a sense of privacy and charm that may not boost actual value, but certainly inspires buyers to take a second look at your home.

Even if you’re not considering selling, there’s something about a fence that makes you feel like you have a little piece of the world that is yours alone.  A fence can create a private space where outsiders can’t intrude and where you can enjoy the outdoors playing games, cooking out, or just reading in a hammock.  But if you’re considering adding a fence to your property, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Whether Tis Nobler to Build a Fence

High-end homes with ample property often don’t require fencing, and real estate agents recommend not adding one unless there is a clear reason, such as blocking out traffic noise or obstructing an unsightly view.  For expensive homes, fences don’t necessarily add value in relation to the costs of construction and materials.

There are, however, fencing materials that do speak elegance, should you need one for a high-end property.  Wrought iron fencing lends beauty to any home and works well both with traditional home designs and with a more modern aesthetic.  And technology has come a long way in creating iron fencing that isn’t prone to rust and that doesn’t scratch, dent, or pit easily.  Most manufacturers use a powder-based coating that seals and protects metal, so that fencing lasts a long time with very little maintenance.

Another option is to create a “live fence” made of trees, shrubs, and other landscaping.  This style of fence requires very little upkeep and adds landscaping value to your home.  Furthermore, with the right choice of tree, such as the Leland Cypress or White pine that grows fast, you can quickly create a private space to enjoy.

A Huge Expense?

For the mid-range home, fences often do add resale value as homes are closer together and families are often buying in this range.  But you don’t have to spend a fortune to create a beautiful fence.

The “good neighbor” style, which is a wooden picket fence just over waist height, allows that sense of enclosure for animals, children, and a little privacy, while not having a big impact on your wallet.  And even a 6-foot privacy fence made of wood isn’t astronomical.  Although wood fences don’t have the durability of some other styles, with the proper upkeep, they can last a long time.

If you’re looking for something more substantial and have the money to invest, certainly wrought iron and steel fences add a touch of elegance to the mid-range home.  But another option is vinyl fencing, which adds the charm of a wood appearance while lasting for a long time with virtually no maintenance.

Don’t Suffer the Slings and Arrows

There are a few things that can actually hurt property values when it comes to fencing.  Upkeep is one of the primary concerns, particularly with wood fencing.  Should you choose to go with wood, be sure to routinely reseal your fencing with a quality exterior coating.  Pay attention to joins in the fence where screws, nails, and other fixtures can rust through and leave you with sagging or leaning fence sections.  You should also pay attention to wooden posts where they meet the ground.  Prolonged exposure to moisture can cause them to sheer off at ground level.

Another concern in choosing fencing comes with chain-link fencing.  While chain-link may be the less expensive choice, be aware that it comes with certain ingrained attitudes towards it.  Because of its associations with industrial properties and protected public spaces, such as athletic fields and schools, chain-link tends to decrease property values.  According to some real estate agents, potential buyers often see chain-link, particularly when it encloses a front yard, as saying “dangerous dog on the property” or “this home needs protecting because of the neighborhood.”  Not that this is the reality of the property, but, unfortunately, some attitudes are hard to change.  Should you choose to go with chain-link consider fencing only your backyard.

Small Spaces Sell with the Right Touches

by Megan Glenn

Are you thinking of selling your house or condo, but you’re worried space seems too tight?  Stop fretting!  The rise of the tiny house movement means even the smallest of dwellings have become not only marketable, but fashionable.  And armed with the knowledge of some basic techniques for creating the illusion of space, there’s no reason you can’t provide open, airy designs that will have potential buyers wowed.

Furniture that Fits

You may think that the best thing to do to make a small space look big is to empty it, but designer Kristie Barnett says an empty room gives buyers no sense of scale, and that she’s seen sales fall through simply because the client assumed furniture would not fit.

The trick, instead, is to get rid of overstuffed furniture and to choose one large piece that will be the central focus of the room. Judge every other item against this piece and ask if it serves a functional or design purpose.  If the answer doesn’t come easy, get rid of it.

Opt for smaller, streamlined pieces, such as switching out that sectional sofa for a loveseat.  Furniture that sits lower to the floor creates an illusion of space — think midcentury modern — and it is often more effective to group furniture on one side of a room or to create space between wall and furniture.  When items are pushed against walls around the room it creates a cramped feel. 

Experts also suggest placing taller items away from doorways so as not to visually close off the space upon entering.  We tend to track a room from left to right just as we read, and incorporating horizontal elements that encourage us to track that way smoothly makes the room feel larger.  Items that make our eyes bounce around the room tend to make the space feel smaller.

Keep It Light and Open

The first rule to increasing a sense of space is to de-clutter rooms.  Clear surface tops and take down family pictures, store away extra pillows, and get rid of freestanding pieces that clutter the floor.  You may need to consider gathering possessions and unnecessary furniture to keep in storage until your house is sold.

A second vital aspect of space is accenting natural light.  Windows should be as open as possible to allow maximum light in.  Instead of curtains, you might use blinds.  If you must use curtains, hang the rod high and wide so that they can be opened to reveal the entire window. 

A third trick to maximizing light is to incorporate mirrors into your design.  A mirror placed across from a window not only reflects light back into the room, but enhances the illusion of larger, airier space.  The effect can be increased by choosing furnishings that have chrome, polished metal, or mirrored trim.  And when it comes to furnishings, show some leg.  Air and light beneath your pieces only increases the sense of openness.

Finally, when it comes to actual lighting, get rid of the single overhead fixture which tends to dim the perimeter of the room and make it feel even smaller.  Opt instead for strategically placed lamps that cast light into all areas of the room.

Decorate with Space in Mind

If you want to create an illusion of openness, paint walls in lighter, brighter colors.  Most designers suggest shades of white, but you can choose a bolder color for one wall as accent.  If you choose to do so, adding a few matching decorative touches such as pillows or artwork enhance the sense of unity and space.

Fabrics and materials can also contribute to our visual assessment of a room.  Avoid heavy fabrics and dark bulky wood pieces.  Linens, voiles, and tulles are better choices for keeping your space feeling open and light 

Another suggestion is to carefully consider artwork and other decorative pieces.  Minimize art, opting for one larger focal piece that is more neutral in theme.  Remember that you’re showcasing the space, not your belongings.  And for decorative pieces, a good rule of thumb is that anything smaller than a cantaloupe makes surfaces seem cluttered.   

One last consideration is what to do with floors.  Some designers recommend that you don’t include rugs at all.  If you do decide to incorporate them, choose smaller rugs and orient them to define functional spaces within the room.

Make It Multifunctional

One way to make your rooms feel larger is to suggest their multi-functionality as you decorate.  Stage a small den as a space that can double both as home office and as dining area.  Choosing stackable furnishings and foldaway leaves can keep the space open while still suggesting multiple uses.  A small bedroom with a murphy bed can act both as sleeping space and as an office, reading space, or work area.

Outdoor Space as Another Room

Don’t forget to take advantage of any outdoor areas on your property.  A balcony or patio can be decorated to suggest a reading area, an eating space, or even a relaxing place to get work done.  Even if the space is small, you can choose streamlined, folding furniture to suggest a dual space for grilling and entertaining or for settling down to serious business.

Upgrading an Older Home Is Money Well Spent

Written by: Ray Flynn

When you buy a house that is more than just a few decades old, you’re investing in a piece of history. And you’ll inherit all the home’s character, its mature landscaping, and most likely its quality building materials. But you also take on the added cost of bringing it up to modern times. With a little planning, you can bring out the best in your new older home.

The Functional Stuff

An older house, unfortunately, often means dated plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling. Tackle these areas first.

For the electrical, take a look at the breaker panel. Chances are, if it’s more than 25 years old, it’s time for a replacement. ABC Home & Commercial Services explains that this is not a job for even an experienced DIYer. For one, changing out the electrical components of your home is considered a major remodel, and you will likely need to obtain a permit and will most definitely have to pass an electrical inspection.

If you think it’s time to replace the plumbing, take a quick peek under the sink. Many older homes are outfitted with galvanized steel, cast iron, or lead pipes. To bring things up to modern standards, you’ll need to replace these with PVC, copper, or brass. Like with electrical, changing out the plumbing likely requires a permit.

When your home’s HVAC is more than a decade old and not operating efficiently, it’s time to replace this, too. If you have yet to buy the home, you might be able to negotiate a decrease in price to compensate. Don’t forget to replace the ductwork, otherwise you may wind up blowing decades’ worth of dust throughout your home.

The Fun Stuff

The fun remodeling jobs are those that make your house more enjoyable. These are largely esthetic and can wait until after all your systems are in working order.

The kitchen and the bathroom are likely two areas where you want to get to work. Something as simple as a coat of paint and new hardware can go a long way here. But, when you want to have a real impact, new floors and countertops are the way to go. For the countertops, you have many choices; Corian, butcher block, concrete, and granite are all popular. However, many homeowners decide to stick with the timeless look of quartz, which costs around $125 per square foot to install, according to estimates from HomeAdvisor. Quartz has the advantages of being easy to clean and stain resistant, and it won’t crack or chip.

When looking for a countertop installer, make sure they have years of experience in your material of choice. Keep in mind that it may take a few days to get the job done because they will have to level out your existing cabinets, add necessary supports, line your countertops up precisely, and seamlessly join each piece together.

The Foundational Stuff

No talk about an older home would be complete without at least mentioning the foundation. With an older home, it is not unusual to see some stair-stepping in the bricks. This is typically nothing to worry about, but true foundation problems can’t be ignored.

Make sure that you pay for a home inspection (typically costs $300 – $500), which will likely point out any major defects, like shearing in the foundation walls or cracks on the concrete pad beneath your home. Depending on the price of the property, you may be able to get an exceptional deal on a home if its foundation needs repair. You’ll just have to weigh the repair costs and inconvenience against price.

Buying an older home has its pros and cons. On one hand, it is probably in a well-established area and more than likely won’t get crowded out by cookie-cutter homes. On the other, it may take a bit of elbow grease to shine it up. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide on your living situation. When you choose an older home, the function, fun, and foundation are the three areas that can make or break your decision.


Image via Pexels

A Guide to Buying a California Vacation Rental

By Henry Moore

California is the third largest of the United States and offers a diversity of attractions, from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood to the serene redwood forests. Given the variety of sightseeing options, it’s no wonder that the state is a hot spot for tourists: Tourism brought in $140 billion in 2018 alone. Thanks to its popularity, California is an ideal choice if you want to buy a property that you can rent out as a vacation home. To make a profit, however, you need to choose your real estate wisely. Find out how to set up a profitable property with these tips:


Target a popular tourist area


California is vast. Before you buy, narrow down your search area based on popular tourist sites. There’s no point buying a bargain piece of property if it’s located in the middle of nowhere and won’t attract traffic. Possibilities include Los Angeles, where you can go shopping on Rodeo Drive or visit the homes of Hollywood stars. Or you could look in San Francisco for access to all the Bay Area has to offer. Another area to explore is San Diego.  La Jolla has stunning cliff views and is ideal for seal and sea lion watching, and a home in the Gaslamp Quarter will put you near the world-famous San Diego Zoo.


Compare location prices


With your geographic area narrowed down, you can start to compare real estate prices to ensure you find something within your budget. Some neighborhoods will be more affordable than others. Using a real estate search tool allows you to get an overview of the average costs of different districts. For instance, Redfin notes that homes in San Diego sold for an average of $632,000 over the last month. Compare this to San Francisco, notorious for its expensive homes, where the average price is a whopping $1.2 million.


Calculate potential profits


Figure out your operating costs. There isn’t just electricity and water to consider, but also cleaning fees, property taxes, your mortgage, and insurance. Then there are advertising prices—you have to find your guests, after all. Next, calculate your expected monthly income based on how much you are charging per night and how many nights you expect to rent out the property. Compare the two figures to make sure you will turn a profit. If not, see if you can reasonably increase the price on the property. Otherwise, you might want to keep looking for a more cost-effective option.


Set up your vacation home for business


You can’t just put a vacation home up for rent as is. People want to feel like they are getting a “home away from home,” and it’s your job to deliver this experience. Stock the place with everyday amenities like kitchen tools, toilet paper, WiFi, and linens and towels. Homeaway’s checklist includes lots of small but important items you might not otherwise think of, from garbage bags to a hairdryer (which Amazon sells for under $10). If you really want to make the rental attractive and justify a higher price, install “luxury” perks like barbecue, jacuzzi, or fireplace.


Start advertising


There are many online vacation rental platforms available to choose from when listing your rental. Business Insider provides several options, from Airbnb to OneFineStay. Airbnb alone has over one million properties listed worldwide, so with this wealth of resources at your fingertips, you should have no problems finding guests.


Use the above list to ensure your vacation home is marketable in terms of location, area, and amenities, and you’re sure to get business. While it will initially require an extra investment of money, time, and effort, once your California property rental is up and running, you will enjoy a wonderful source of primarily passive income. Plus, for those times when it isn’t in use, you can use it for your own enjoyment!


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Home-Buying: How To Find The Right Seller

The best seller is one who is highly motivated. A highly motivated seller is more likely to sell at a price that is less than his or her house is actually worth. And it matters that you find out why. Learning the reason why can help you get the price you want and help the seller get what they want: a timely sale.

When given the opportunity to meet with sellers, ask them why they are selling. The reason could be anything, such as a job change that causes them to move to a new location or financial problems. If you can solve their problem, whether it is cash related or time related, do so. For example, if the sellers are highly motivated because they need to move quickly, give them a fast sale – and a lower price. If you can make an offer, even a low one, that gives them cash in a short time, they are more likely to accept.

Image result for home seller

There are also some sellers that you should avoid. Not every seller is as genuinely motivated as they make themselves to be. Some possible hints:

  • they stall on having the home appraised or inspected
  • they are unable to clear up liens against their property
  • they do not own 100% of their property
  • they push back the move-out date
  • they do not have a replacement property or back up plan
  • etc.

It is impossible to find the perfect seller. But it is possible to find out which sellers are legit and which ones aren’t.

Design Trends: Outdoor Kitchens

A popular design trend in Southern California, today’s outdoor kitchens keep getting better and better! With many specialty design elements and state-of-the-art appliances, the outdoor kitchen is often the centerpiece of an entertainer’s backyard. When food is grilled out on the patio, guests can gather around the grill and socialize as dinner is being prepared. If you like to host pool parties, baby showers, barbecues and more, consider investing in one of these outdoor kitchens! In your outdoor cooking area, you and your family members can celebrate birthdays, holidays, or just enjoy the great outdoors.  Check out these amazing outdoor kitchen design ideas to help get you inspired!

All images via our Pinterest

 #patio #outdoorkitchen #outdoorkitchensandbbqareas #patioideas Outdoor Creations Landscape | ... Kitchens, Built-In Grills and Bars | Moscarino Outdoor Creations59+ Stuning DIY Outdoor Kitchen Ideas On A Budget #kitchendesign #kitchenremodel #kitchendecorCypress Design Co. on Instagram: Summer is coming!!!! Why not enjoy your meal and entertain...


Home Selling: Build Your Plan of Action

1. Analyze why you are selling – If you understand your motives, you will be able to better negotiate and to get what it is that you want, whether it be a quick sale, high price, or somewhere in the middle.

2. Prepare your home for the buyer – Maximize the strengths of your property and fix up its weaknesses. You want the buyer to walk away from your home with a lasting good impression.

3. Find a good real estate agent that understands your needs – Make sure that your agent is loyal to you, and can negotiate to help you achieve your goals. In addition, they should be assertive and honest with both you and the buyer.

4. BRelated imagee prepared for negotiation – Learn and understand your buyer’s situation; what are their motives? Can you demand a big deposit from them? Try to lock in the buyer so that the deal goes through.

5. Negotiate for the best price and the best terms – Learn how to counter offer to get maximum value from every offer.

6. Make sure the contract is accurate and complete – Be honest with your disclosures; you do not want to lose the deal because you were lying or diminishing your home’s defects. Insist the buyers get a professional inspection. This will protect both you and the buyer.