Florida Real Estate News

Fort Lauderdale News

Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Which Digital Communication Page Are You On?

With so many aps, social media platforms, technologies, and digital tools in use, ensuring communication compatibility on many levels with target prospects and clients requires forethought.

Have you ever watched two professional scuba divers before they dive down to work at great depths? They invest time running through a series of hand signals and movesmdash;their only form of communication underwater. They guarantee that they are both on the same communication ldquo;pagerdquo; before they submerge. Not a bad metaphor for working with real estate clients in this fast-paced, high-pressure, digitally-crowded world where effective communication is even more difficult under pressure.

Real estate professionals are most successfulmdash;for themselves and their clientsmdash;when the professional goal is engagement on clientsrsquo; terms:

1: When marketing to prospective target buyers or sellers do you consider what they are thinking about or are intent on when your advertisement or social media message pops up on their screen?

2: Is your communication accepted because it blends with what they are receptive to at that moment or is your messaging seen as an intrusive sales pitch?

3: When you begin a working >

Consider how genuinely client-centric and useful your digital messaging is:

Online Advertising

1. Facebook Advertising:nbsp;Facebook ads will not automatically bring you targeted hot-leads or eager prospective clients.

bull; First, you must define which digital marketing goals you want to pursue and how yoursquo;ll measure progress. What do you want people to do when they see your Facebook ads? Be attracted to visiting your website or blog? File your name away for future use?
bull; Then, select from the variety of Facebook ad types for the right fit for your target markets and what you want to achieve. What are Facebook users intent on when your ad pops up? Are you catching them when they are already thinking about buying or selling real estate? Or, are you intruding on their efforts to do something completely different?

Ad Objectives: Awareness? Connection? Conversion?

bull; The learning curve that represents understanding Facebook advertising includes figuring out ad types, terminology, ad mechanics, and >bull; Whether you invest time learning which Facebook ad types will bring the best returns or you spend time interviewing online professionals to find the best fit, this effort will be reflected in results and cost.
bull; Jump in without understanding how to target the specific buyers or sellers who drive your practice or without learning how Facebook ads work, and you may spend too much, accomplish too little, or both.

Keep in mind that most Facebook users are not there to shop and buy, but to mingle and share, so ads may seem intrusive, even pushy.

2. Amazon Advertising:nbsp;ldquo;Find. Attract. Engage.rdquo; is the advertising pitch for Amazon, the third-largest digital ad platform in the US. Amazonrsquo;s extensive data is the big draw for advertisers. User buying-patterns reveal connections for many advertising objectives. According to Amazon, use ldquo;Amazonrsquo;s ad products to reach those people, both on Amazonrsquo;s properties and through a network of third-party sites.rdquo;

Advertising on Amazon can be complicated and is probably more suited to a campaign. Hiring knowledgeable digital marketing professionals should save time and money while increasing effectiveness.

Amazon data, collected from people who are there to buy, could be used to target people purchasing items like interior design books or do-it-yourself home repair products who potentially may be preparing to list their home. Instead of selling real estate services on Amazon, data enables targeting these consumers on Amazon and multiple sites.

Note: Free online promotion may provide creative outlets for less traditional approaches.

Social Media Platforms

You realize that you canrsquo;t be active on everything from Facebook and Linkedin to Pinterest and have time for all thatrsquo;s required of a real estate professional. Social media eats up a lot of time, so how do you measure return on investment?

bull; Select platforms important to your target market.
bull; Tailor your messages to match how targets use the platforms of their choice. On Facebook, aim to build >bull; Consider teaming up with other real estate professionals like mortgage brokers or interior designers to offer diverse, practical content that will attract buyers or sellers to you. Become an online destination to create genuine engagement.

Flexible Individual Contact

Newsletters, bulletins, videos, blog posts, emails, textshellip;therersquo;s an ever-increasing list of digital communication tools for marketing to past clients and prospective buyers or sellers. Again, your choice of how many tools to employ and which ones to use should arise from research into what your target markets prefer, not what is easier or cheaper for you.

During the intensive buying cycle, an important part of getting to know a prospective buyer or understanding how to serve a listed seller is achieving communication compatibility.

bull; Interview your client or prospect to establish communication compatibility. That is, decide between you which set of digital tools and social media platforms are going to be ideal for effective communication.
bull; When you need to reach them quickly and they need to reach you without fail, what approaches will be easiest for them? Would a combination of Twitter and texting or FaceTime suit that buyer? If voice-to-voice calls are preferred by a client, a special ring tone may be in order for your phone and theirs. Being connected is vital.

Respecting the targetrsquo;s intent and strengthening their sense of control is paramount when communicating for any purpose, in any medium. Communication compatibility, or using digital tools and methods that prospects and clients are comfortable with, reduces stress and earns the trust of prospects and clients.

This deliberate recognition of the essential value of selective digital usage with buyers and sellers, prospects and clients, reinforces client loyalty. What seems like a small thing, may increase the likelihood theyrsquo;ll feel connected enough to you to refer you to friends and call you in the future.


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Halloween 2019 Home Dcor Trends

A whopping 2.7nbsp;billion of that haul is expected to be spent on decorations. Clearly, itrsquo;s not enough to just plop a pumpkin on the porch and hang a fake skeleton from the tree on your front lawn anymore. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to decorate for Halloween in >

Moonlight Bash collection

Wersquo;re digging the Moonlight Bash collection from Target, which includes ldquo;everything you need to create a unique, spooky and fun ambiance that your guests will love. From an animated boombox to a wheel of fate to velvet skulls to a decorative DJ skeleton prop, this Halloween party decor collection will have all the ghouls, goblins and ghosts groovin and jamming while they enjoy your perfectly spooky and cool atmosphere.rdquo;

We especially love the Light-Up LED Eyeball Halloween Decorative Wreath and the Studded Halloween Pumpkin. Punk-rock porch, anyone?

Halloween light bulbs

Are you picturing one orange outdoor bulb and one black outdoor bulb? Cause we are This simple trick can make a dramatic impact.

Petrifying plantersnbsp;nbsp;

According to Etsy, petrifying plantersnbsp;are all the rage this year. ldquo;One of this seasonrsquo;s hottest trends is adding a spooky vibe to your plantparent game. Etsy shoppers are increasingly searching for Halloween twists on their everyday planters, with searches for ghost planters up 137, monster planters up 60, and skull planters up 10 in the last three months compared to the same time last year,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

Wintery white

If yoursquo;re going to go artificial with your pumpkins, you donrsquo;t have to do orange. These white versions introduce a little elegance.nbsp;

Go Dark

Whether yoursquo;re throwing a party, or just looking to bring the goth glam to your home, this dark and stormy Halloween deacute;cor will do the trick. ldquo;Donrsquo;t be afraid of the dark and decorate with black table cloths, matte black plates and even black candles, then balance out with gray or silver napkins and flatware,rdquo; said Deacute;cor Aid. ldquo;Another Halloween home decor trend thatrsquo;s gaining a lot of popularity is goth themed decor. Incorporate skulls as accent pieces, centerpieces or even use smaller skulls as place holders. An affordable decorating tip is to paint over plastic skulls, using darker matte shades to do so. This will make these decorations less cliche and your guest will be surprised you went with such an unconventional look. Black and red roses not only add to the goth theme but add a hauntingly glamorous look to your decor.rdquo;nbsp;

Pastel punch

Herersquo;s an even more unexpected color twist: pastels for Halloween ldquo;Not into the dark and spooky decor that comes with Halloween? People are now using pink and pastel color schemes to sweeten up the look,rdquo; said TODAY. ldquo;According to anbsp;new report from Pinterest, searches for ldquo;pink Halloweenrdquo; are up 221 this year over last. And ldquo;pastel Halloweenrdquo; is close behind with an increase in searches of 164.rdquo;

nbsp;


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Three Ways to Successfully Negotiate Realtor Commission

Real estate agents are vital to the sale process. Depending on the circumstances, they can get an average 30 higher sale price than trying to sell your home yourself. Obviously, this makes their help worth it, but if you could pay less for the same service that would be ideal. After all, 6 on a 300,000 home is 18,000 mdash; no small chunk of change

The good news is that itrsquo;s possible to successfully negotiate realtor commission and save. Check out three ways here.

Know the Market

Like most things in real estate transactions, realtor commission is negotiable. In fact, by law agents canrsquo;t say that commission is a set X-amount in their market. However, about 6 is the average industry standard and what most people end up paying.

However, if you know the market well and understand that it is a sellerrsquo;s market, you may have some bargaining power.nbsp;

A sellerrsquo;s market means that there are proportionately more buyers than inventory, making it very easy to sell homes. In fact, in strong sellerrsquo;s markets, itrsquo;s possible to get an offer within days or even hours of putting the home on the market. You may even enjoy the sellerrsquo;s dream of having several buyers competing for the home.nbsp;

In that case, itrsquo;s easy to sell the home and the agent wonrsquo;t have to put as much effort into the sale. You can use this to your advantage when negotiating the commission. The agent knows it will be an easy sale and may have no problem accepting a reduced commission.

Just remember, yoursquo;re pitting yourself against a master negotiator. Be sure to read up on how to negotiate before you begin that conversation.

Discuss Your Needs

What if your market isnrsquo;t a strong sellerrsquo;s market at the moment? Will you be stuck paying full price?nbsp;

Well, how good are your negotiating skills?

This is a great tactic if you have a bit of real estate experience yourself. You may not require all of the agentrsquo;s skills. For example, you may be willing to handle buyer walkthroughs yourself or you can write the marketing materials. Perhaps you already have a buyer, which is a huge part of the agentrsquo;s job, and you just need help navigating the rest of the transaction.nbsp;

If you ask them for it, many agents will provide you with a list of services they offer. If you donrsquo;t need everything they offer, they may be willing to amend their service package and drop their price to accommodate.

Established Real Estate Referral Network

Hands down the easiest and most efficient way of saving on realtor commission is by using an established real estate referral network. These networks have already done all the hard work for you.nbsp;

A big part of an agentrsquo;s job is finding new clients. Unless they are investors, most people donrsquo;t make frequent real estate purchases. Agents are lucky to get a handful of repeat clients.

By streamlining and handling marketing services for thousands of agents, a referral network makes it possible for the agents to spend more time selling homes. Without all the extra marketing work on their plate, the agent can provide the same full real estate services to their clients for a reduced price.nbsp;

Find your agent through one of these companies and you could save thousands on your home sale. As a bonus, you also donrsquo;t have to worry about investigating the agent beforehand. The referral network has taken care of that for you too. They donrsquo;t work with agents who donrsquo;t perform well mdash; and that includes offering top-notch customer service.

Just be sure to pick a reputable network. Some companies offer this type of service at rock bottom prices because the agents provide subpar work.nbsp;nbsp;

Why Pay More Than You Have To?

Selling a home is expensive enough, why pay more in realtor fees than you have to? Check out one of these ways to successfully negotiate realtor commission before you put your home on the market. You have nothing to lose and thousands of dollars to gain.


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If You Have the Option of Putting More Money Down, Should You?

Many times, this additional cash comes from the sale of a previous residence but of course it doesnrsquo;t have to. While conventional loans do have low down payment options, with a down payment of less than 20 percent of the sales price, private mortgage insurance will be required. Making a down payment of 20 percent or more eliminates the need for PMI. A larger down payment obviously results in a lower monthly payment which is another factor to consider.

Making a large down payment will also affect liquidity. A down payment is instant equity in a real estate transaction, the only way to get the money back is either through the sale of the property or an equity loan of some sort. Putting more money down often means tapping into a retirement account such as an IRA or pulling funds from any investment or savings account. When those funds are removed, interest is lost. A larger than required down payment could also mean the funds would be put to use in a better way such as paying down consumer debt or paying off student loans, for example.

Considering an existing mortgage, loan programs today allow you to pay the loan down. Perhaps retirement is soon coming into the picture and paying down a mortgage is a solid financial plan. One thing to note however is that with a loan carrying a fixed interest rate, the payment will not change, just the loan amount will be lowered. With an adjustable rate loan however, the monthly payments will change as the loan amounts are reduced.

Coming in with a large down payment is a personal financial decision and for most that means itrsquo;s time for a talk with a financial planner and your loan officer. There are multiple considerations when paying extra on a mortgage or coming to the settlement table with a larger-then-required down payment which means seeking advice from a professional.

nbsp;


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5 Bathroom Ideas for Your New Home

Naught the Pedestal Sink

You should replace the normal and boring sink with a modern-looking one. Likewise, installing some vanity gears would greatly improve the room. Vanities can be easily installed, most include sinks, countertops, and hardware. You may opt to choose natural wood for it to look timeless. Clean lines and cool color, like light gray cabinets and marble countertops, will do if you want a contemporary aesthetic look.

Trendy Tiles

If you want to have a bathroom that is both cozy and warm, try to play and combine different types of tiles. This will add flair and >

Bold, Lavishing, Lighting

If you choose a daring look, lighting could make you achieve it. Remove your old fixture and put vanity lighting to add glamour in your bathroom. A bright vanity light will illuminate over-the-sink spaces and push light even farther to the room. On the other hand, if you prefer a modern look, add sconces on each side of the vanity area and choose a proper lighting to compliment the room.

Splash of Green

Plants are not just for exterior designs. It can also be used inside and put some in the bathroom will level up the design. It is actually becoming a modern trend. Plants will add cool contrast to the tiles and will give you a >

Functional Faucets

According to the Kitchen amp; Bath Industry Show, black matte faucets and fixture are currently on the trend. These kinds of design will provide a modern look but will still add more warmth and space. Matte black faucets are perfect for modern space and add edge to a boring bathroom. Regardless of what design you choose it is highly advisable to purchase a WaterSense certified faucet, as it is more water efficient compared to those which are not certified and will actually save you more money in the long run.


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Fall Renovations to Try and Why

Here are a few good renovations to make this fall. Come spring, yoursquo;ll be glad you accomplished something with the last warm days of the year.

Get Last Minute Repairs Done to Winter Proof Your Home

Winter can take a heavy toll on a house. Snow and ice block things up. Poor insulations makes your furnace work doubly hard, and the sheer cold can inflict damage on certain surfaces.

New insulation is a >

And speaking of windows, getting your frames fixed up and panes replaced is a great idea for the same reason as is new insulation. Theyrsquo;ll keep you snug and toasty during the hard months to come. And, of course, a well-insulated home is a home thatrsquo;s easy to heat. Yoursquo;ll save money and make things easier on your furnace which itself could you save you on repairs some day.

Go Big and Make it Easier on Your Workers

Cool fall air is easier to work in than summer mugginess. So why not do some major work? There has got to be something thatrsquo;s been brewing in your brain for a while now. Considering a new deck? New siding? A new attachment? These are things for which workers will be required to spend long, hard days working. The workers will be more productive and in better spirits if theyrsquo;re not suffering through 96 degree weather through it all. And if theyrsquo;re not exhausted to point of weariness, theyrsquo;ll be less likely to get sloppy and have an accident.

Consider Where Yoursquo;ll Be Spending Time in the Winter

People cook a lot during the winter, so why not renovate your kitchen? Imagine how much fun yoursquo;ll have preparing heart holiday meals with a bunch a new gadgets and redone space at hand. Winter will so much easier to deal with if yoursquo;ve got a shiny new environment in which to get things done.

Similarly, people spend hours every night in their living rooms during the winter. Imagine how much fun your family would sitting around a fireplace while watching the evening news. The warm flicker of a fire is a great way to build fond memories and bond around a shared experience.nbsp; nbsp;

Think Ahead to Spring

Imagine ahead. When the snow finally melts and the warm sun begins to reclaim its prominence, what will make you the happiest? Probably not a bunch of impending renovations. No, spring is a time for celebration. You want to get your work done now.

Great spring activities could include driveway basketball, grilling on a new patio, even a new swimming pool. Think ahead. Yoursquo;ll thank yourself six months from now.


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Can Someone Achieve a Perfect Credit Score?

Itrsquo;s possible but in all my years in the industry Irsquo;ve never seen a perfect score. Credit scores, commonly referred to as FICO scores, the acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation which developed the algorithm, are three digit numbers ranging from 300 to 850. Most conventional loan programs today will approve an application with a credit score around 680 but some programs go as low as 620. Government-backed loans accept lower scores such as FHA loans. FHA programs ask for a minimum score to be at least 580 with some allowances for scores as low as 500 accompanied by a 10 percent down payment. Low down payment conventional loans can require a score of 720 or better.

There are consumers who strive to achieve the highest score possible, whether or not theyrsquo;re actually applying for a mortgage. And there are ways to better scores, primarily through payment history and account balances. Credit reports log payments as theyrsquo;re made and can report payments that are more than 30, 60 or 90 days past the due dates. Making sure payments are made not necessarily on the due date but certainly no more than 30 days past due will keep scores getting progressively better.

Scores tend to rise more slowly compared to a score falling due to a late payment.
35 percent of the total score is attributed toward payment history. 30 percent of the score compares account balances with credit limits. Some consumers mistakenly think that keeping a zero balance is the way to better scores but in reality, thatrsquo;s not the case. In fact, scores will rise faster if a balance is at or around 33 percent of credit limits. If you think about it for a second that makes perfect sense. How can credit be evaluated if there are no payments being made on an account? Thatrsquo;s why those who are always wanting to boost scores keep balance around one-third of credit limits.

Taking all of that into account, how high can credit scores actually be for an individual consumer? Personally, Irsquo;ve seen credit scores in the low 800s but those are >

Finally, if there is more than one person on a loan application, lenders use the lowest qualifying score. Each credit repository, Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union, use the same algorithm but the reported scores will be similar to one another but ra>

While striving to achieve the perfect score of 850 is certainly an admirable goal, as it >
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9 Practical Tips in Handling Plumbing Emergencies

Plumbing affects several areas in your home from the bathroom to the kitchen. Plumbing problems can arise suddenly, without warning. While some minor issues are easily fixed, some difficulties can quickly escalate into a major crisis that causes damage to your home. If this isnt taken care of immediately, you can suffer thousands of dollars in loss, with lasting consequences.

How can you potentially limit a plumbing disaster? Here are some helpful tips that you can apply to protect your home:

Shut off the Water

As soon as emergency strikes, turn off the source of water immediately. It can be as simple as turning off the valve at the base of your commode. However, if larger emergencies like flooding occur, turn off the main valve in your home. Most water valves usually have to be turned off clockwise.

Turn Off the Electricity

Electricity and water will always make a deadly combination. If there is any chance that the flooded water does come into contact with any electrical circuit, then, stay away from the leaking or flooded water. If you can reach for the main switch without touching any of the water, the better. The next thing you can do is to turn off the power switch and disable the circuits.

Check Your Water Heater

After youve stopped the flooding and flow of water into your home using the main switch, you will have to turn off your water heater as well. Its crucial to note that once the all the water in your home is shut off, there is a tendency that the pressure and the water levels inside your water heater will start to rise. This situation is potentially dangerous once the pressure increases above the heaters limit, the unit can burst, making the whole situation even more hazardous.

Wear Protective Rubber Gloves

For your safety and protection, wear rubber boots and gloves if the leak is contaminated by the sewage or is in a drain line. Even after the whole area is cleaned and dried, you still need to disinfect it after thoroughly.

Assess the Damage

Before you call a professional, try to asses the damage first. Providing the plumber with sufficient information over the phone gives them a good idea of the problem at hand. As a result, they can quickly fix the problem.

Open Drains and Spigots

You have to understand that there will still be water in the pipes even after youve turned off the main valve. To move this water away from your home, turn on spigots and open drains. Also, give the hose in your garden a few extra squirts to ensure that you clear out the water as well. If youre experiencing a small clog, open the drain using >

Avoid Using Chemicals on Pipes

Try not to use chemical cleaners in your pipes as it can make the situation worse. If youre experiencing a backed-up drain, avoid using a bottle of drain cleaner. Drain cleaners will erode the pipes, and if your home is older, this can cause lasting devastating effects. While these chemicals can usually wash away debris and dirt, they still cause significant problems. As an alternative, try using a plunger. If it still doesnt work out, its time to call an expert.

Handle Small Leaks

Small leaks are quite easy to identify. The best thing that you can do about it is to stop them as soon as possible. You can try stuffing rags and towels around the pipes. Also putting buckets under those dripping leaks can help as well. Let your plumber know about these leaks the moment they arrive so that they can be addressed in the safest order.

Call a Plumber

When youre facing a plumbing crisis, its essential to call a plumbing professional or a plumbing company. Doing so gives you peace of mind that your safety and the overall condition of your home is well-taken care. Call a plumbing company that offers 24-hour, emergency service. Try to give the plumber as much information as you can about what fixtures are affected and what you have done to fix or stop the problem.


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Tips for Selling Your Home in Autumn

Autumn traditionally sees a drop the number of homes available for purchase.

Less inventory means fewer properties to compete against and more chances for your home to catch a buyerrsquo;s eye. Of course, in even the tightest sellerrsquo;s market itrsquo;s important for sellers to price their home correctly. A home thatrsquo;s overpriced rather than listed at true market value can discourage buyers from even viewing the property, especially during the crucial two-week period following listing. Itrsquo;s important that sellers take the advice of their REALTORSreg;, who have reams of data and calculators at their fingertips to help them arrive an appropriate listing price.

Fall also historically sees a decline in buyer demand that can, in some markets, lead to an expectation for autumn sellers to negotiate more willingly. However, in sellerrsquo;s market conditions with limited inventory mdash; such as Orlando and the nation overall are currently experiencing mdash; sellers shouldnrsquo;t expect to see requests for big discounts to their initial asking price regardless of the season. On the contrary, with fewer homes on the market, sellers are likely to continue to see competition among buyers.

Autumn homebuyers are often highly motivated.

With the prospect of inclement weather coming up fast and the likelihood of a significant inventory jump on hold until late spring, autumn homebuyers are often a motivated bunch who anticipate:

bull; Less inventory of available homes;
bull; Less competition for REALTORSreg;rsquo; time and attention;
bull; Less competition for available financing;
bull; Less competition for >bull; Homeowner tax breaks such as

bull; Mortgage Interest Deduction
bull; PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction
bull; Prepaid Interest Deduction
bull; Property Tax Deduction
bull; Energy-Efficiency Upgrade Deduction

By purchasing a home in autumn, homebuyers know they can be all settled into their new home in time for the holidays

Fall colors look great on everyone.

Therersquo;s hardly a more beautiful time of year than autumn, so take advantage of it to ramp up curb appeal. Attending to your homersquo;s landscaping is crucial for making that all-important first impression. Rake up the leaves, clean gutters of debris, and make sure flowering ornamental grasses are tidy. And who doesnrsquo;t love a pumpkin and pot of mums on the swept front porch? Nobody Keep it simple, though, and donrsquo;t overdo it with fall deacute;cor inside or out.

nbsp;


nbsp;Jeffrey M. Fagan is the president of the Orlando Regional REALTORreg; Association and is regional vicenbsp;president of Watson Realty Corp.


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New Appraisal Rule: What Does It Mean for You?

So how will this affect home buyers and sellers? First, it should be noted that those homes that do receive the exemption still have to be evaluated ldquo;to provide an estimate of the market value of real estate collateral,rdquo; said Housingwire. ldquo;The agencies state that the evaluation must be lsquo;consistent with safe and sound banking practices.rsquo; To that point, the rule establishes that an evaluation ldquo;should contain sufficient information and analysis to support the regulated institutionrsquo;s decision to engage in the transaction.rdquo;

Also, the new exemption is not applicable for homes using FHA, HUD, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac financing, which eliminates a huge percentage of homes right off the top.nbsp;

If you are in a position to buy or sell a home that no longer needs an appraisal, should you still proceed with one? Herersquo;s why you may want to consider it.

What is an appraisal?

ldquo;A home appraisal is an unbiased determination of the fair market value of the home by a professionally-trained third party,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;While that may sound complicated, all it means is that its a chance for someone whos not personally involved in the sale of the home to give a true representation of the homes worth. Its worth noting that an appraisal is enti>

There are a number of factors that contribute to that fair market value. ldquo;In a purchase-and-sale transaction, an appraisal is used to determine whether the homersquo;s contract price is appropriate given the homersquo;s condition, location, and features,rdquo; said Investopedia. While the evaluation process is intended to provide guidance when it comes to pricing, it is unknown at this point how those evaluations will compare to appraisals, if they will carry the same weight in terms of establishing home value, if they will disproportionately favor the lender, etc.nbsp;

Value protection

Buyers and sellers each have a vested interest literally in knowing how much the home they are buying or selling is worth. For sellers, an appraisal can help inform the listing price, and may also be able to help a seller justify a higher listing price because of improvements they have made to the home.nbsp;

On the other hand, if a home appraises for less than the sales price, buyers have a negotiating tool. ldquo;An appraisal is important because it protectsnbsp;your investment,rdquo; said Forbes. ldquo;Its there to ensure that, as the buyer, you dont pay more than the home is actually worth. Its also important for securing financing. In todays mortgage industry a bank will only give you a loan up to the fair market value of the home. Therefore, if an appraisal comes back lower than the purchase price, the lender may only issue you a loan for the appraised amount.rdquo;

nbsp;


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Trend Alert: Socially Conscious Real Estate on the Rise

The pull is stronger among some demographic groups than others, with millennials largely driving the trend. Chief Learning Officer stated that, ldquo;By and large, baby boomers sought workplaces that offered stability and high pay. Millennials, however, have different priorities. Millennials have high expectations for the actions of business when it comes to social purpose and accountability; and they want to work for companies that uphold these values.rdquo;

According to a report titled ldquo;Millennials at work ndash; Reshaping the workplace,rdquo; corporate social values ldquo;become more important to millennials when choosing an employer once their basic needs, like adequate pay and working conditions, are met,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The report states that lsquo;millennials want their work to have a purpose, to contribute something to the world and they want to be proud of their employer.rsquo;rdquo;

ldquo;Social purposerdquo; goes beyond philanthropy and charity and ldquo;encompasses much more than the terms lsquo;corporate social responsibilityrsquo; and lsquo;community investmentrsquo; evoke.rdquo; But when it comes to real estate, many of todayrsquo;s buyers and sellers are seeking out agents and companies whose beliefs track with their own. If yoursquo;re looking for a socially conscious company when buying or selling a home, here are a few to consider:

Give Realty, Austin, TX

ldquo;Give Realty is a full service real estate brokerage with two passions: Real estate and the community,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We donate 25 of our commission to the 501c3 nonprofit of the clientrsquo;s choice.rdquo; So far, they have donated almost 900,000 to various charities.nbsp;

Giving Tree Realty, North and South Carolina

ldquo;Giving Tree Realty is built upon a foundation of giving back,rdquo; they said. ldquo;Our unique charity platform was designed to ensure that a portion of every sales commission our Realtors earn is donated to the charity of their choice. When a Realtor joins Giving Tree Realty, they chose a charity that is near and dear to their heart.rdquo; The company has donated more than 500,000 to local charities since 2010.

The Conscious Group, Denver

ldquo;Our Colorado real estate agents donate 10 to the nonprofit of our clientrsquo;s choice,rdquo; they said. ldquo;We are Denver and the Front Rangersquo;s only residential real estate agency social enterprise. Our real estate agents contribute 10 percent of agent commissions to the nonprofit of your choice.rdquo; The company also specializes in ldquo;eco-friendly homes and business practices.rdquo;

Windermere, Western United States/Mexiconbsp;

ldquo;For the past 30 years, the Windermere Foundation has donated a portion of the proceeds from every home purchased or sold using a Windermere agent towards supporting low-income and homeless families in our communities,rdquo; they said. ldquo;What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need innbsp;Washington State, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over 38 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, food, childrenrsquo;s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help most.rdquo;

There are also a number of individual real estate agents who make it a point to give back to charity, and programs like PinRaise help support those efforts. PinRaisersquo;s Agent with Hearttrade; program ldquo;is a platform designed to support local nonprofits and recognize the generosity of real estate agents and brokers who give back to the community they serve,rdquo; they said.nbsp;

Agents in the program donate to the nonprofit of theirnbsp;clientrsquo;snbsp;choosing when their home closes escrow. You can find a participating agent here.


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The Basics of Mortgage Fraud

In the interest of protecting the typical consumer, we put together a brief post about the basics of mortgage fraud. If you are buying or selling property, be sure to educate and defend yourself starting with this basic knowledge.

What Is Mortgage Fraud?

Fraud is deliberate misrepresentation and deception using false facts, information, and figures. Mortgage fraud, then, is deceptive lending, buying, and selling practices in real estate. Itrsquo;s more than predatory lending; mortgage fraud includes an array of misdeeds that can hurt lenders and consumers alike.

Industry bad actors see mortgage fraud as the path to a huge payday. Most cases involve millions of dollars. For borrowers, the goal is real estate ownership, and if a legitimate loan is out of reach, some individuals with the help of an insider leave out or misrepresent details about employment, debt, income, and other metrics used in loan applications to secure mortgages.

The list of individuals who commit fraud is a long one. It includes everyone involved in the sale of a property, from the builder, realtor, and insurance agent to the title company and escrow agent. Occasionally, a complete shadow network of professionals conspire to commit mortgage fraud, and the one that takes the blame is often the buyer or seller of the property. He or she may not realize fraud was committed in their name.

Common Types of Mortgage Fraud

Fraud can be carried out by various methods. Here are four common types:

bull; Occupancy fraud - a borrower misrepresents how the property purchased will be occupied. Loan rules differ depending on whether the property is a primary home, second home, or investment property. Mortgage and interest rates vary as well.nbsp;

bull; Income fraud - the borrower misrepresents the amount, source, or continuance of income. Lenders fail to verify false employment documents and pay stubs from non-existent employers.

bull; Transaction fraud - the nature of the transaction itself is misrepresented. The down payment is falsified, or there is a secret agreement between a buyer and a seller. The straw buyer is a common trope, sometimes coupled with identity theft. The identity of someone with good credit is used to hide the real buyer with bad credit. Then, when the title is transferred to the bad creditor, the lender is left holding the bag, and the straw buyer may get blamed.

bull; Appraisal fraud - Usually in cahoots with the appraiser, the seller inflates the appraisal value of a property to set a higher price. House-flipping may involve both appraisal fraud and income fraud with inflated numbers for both.

Other ways fraudsters profit off real estate transactions is through foreclosure rescue schemes, loan modification schemes, and equity skimming or stripping. Air loans, according to the FBI, involve victims who fund a non-existent property loan where there is no collateral. Reverse mortgages are a popular way to trick senior citizens so that a scammer gets most of the money.

How to Protect Yourself from Mortgage Fraud

Obviously, donrsquo;t falsify documents, donrsquo;t lie on the mortgage application, and avoid aggressive lenders. If a lender is hounding you for your business, stay away.nbsp;

Always read and understand every document you sign. If you dont understand something, ask, and if you dont like the answer, stop the transaction until you are satisfied.

Get the property inspected by a third party you can trust and check out the title history. Most lenders require a title report, so keep an eye out for it among the many documents you have to sign. If not, get it done before finalizing the purchase.

Be thorough and cautious when buying or selling a property. A major purchase like this deserves your time and attention. Dont let anyone railroad you. Educate yourself about loan and property practices. Use reputable lenders. And look out for red flags that indicate potential trouble.

Referencing Co>

nbsp;


nbsp;Paul Cones is the President of CourthouseDirect.com, a technology company that provides legal record search products and services. Since 1982, their online repository of courthouse documents has helped real estate agents and other professionals find the documents they need.

nbsp;


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Improved Canadian Housing Data Helps With Real Estate Decisions

Yoursquo;ve probably heard this one before: ldquo;There are three types of lies ndash; lies, damn lies and statistics.rdquo; ndash; attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. Or how about this one: ldquo;Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.rdquo; ndash; Mark Twain.

You would think that compiling housing data would be a fairly straightforward process, but in Canada itrsquo;s been anything but. Through the years, housing stats have been called incomplete, inadequate and part of a plot by organized real estate designed to hide agentsrsquo; commissions.

When it comes to real estate statistics, for years consumers and the government have >

But ldquo;average or median prices can change a lot from one month to the next and paint an inaccurate or even unhelpful picture of price values and trends,rdquo; says CREA. Thatrsquo;s why in 2009, CREA and five of the countryrsquo;s largest real estate boards hired Altus Group to develop the MLS Home Price Index.

Altus says the index ldquo;analyzes all of the sales data from a board or associationrsquo;s MLS system, applies a value to the lsquo;typicalrsquo; home for various types of dwellings for each submarket, and tracks the >

The index has grown to include 18 boards across the country. Recently CREA and Altus Group announced an agreement that will expand the index to include all of CREArsquo;s 90 real estate boards and associations. However, the news media still prefers to report average prices, likely because itrsquo;s easier to understand than the index.

Another popular statistic is days on market DOM, which is used to track how long it took an average home to sell via the MLS system. One would assume that the shorter the DOM, the hotter the listing or the local market.

But in Toronto, it became common practice for Realtors to >

The Toronto Real Estate Board says that in February 2019, 20 per cent of sold listings had been listed, terminated and then >

The board is now providing members with a new statistic, average property days on marketAve. PDOM, which includes the time a property has been on the market, regardless of the list-terminate->

CREA has been criticized for double-counting some sales in their national numbers when the same sale was reported by two different boards. However, the association says that impacted a very small percentage of transactions.

Statistics provided by the real estate boards are based on sales via the MLS system, and do not include private sales, transfers to family or corporations and sales of new homes and condos where the builders marketed directly to consumers. New home sales have traditionally been provided by local branches of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

A few years ago, when various governments started looking at the issue of foreign buyers and how they could be taxed, there was little data about just how many foreign owners there were in the marketplace. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. was tasked with coming up with some hard numbers to support government housing policies.

In 2017, Statistics Canada also upped its game with the introduction of the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, with a mandate to gather information about residential property ownership. In June, it >

For example, it found that 95.5 per cent of residential property owners in Ontario were individuals and residents of Canada. The same goes for 92.7 per cent of owners in B.C. and 92.1 per cent in Nova Scotia.

Statistics Canada says 6.8 per cent of Nova Scotia owners had two or more properties, and that Nova Scotia owners were about one-third more likely to own a second property than those in Ontario and B.C.

There were slightly more female owners than males: 51.9 per cent in B.C., 51.9 per cent in Ontario and 51 per cent in Nova Scotia.

The largest share of owners in B.C. and Nova Scotia was born from 1950 to 1959, while in Ontario, those born from 1960 to 1969 held the largest share. Millennial owners, which Statistics Canada says were born from 1980 to 1999, accounted for one in eight owners in Nova Scotia and one in seven in Ontario and B.C.

As more information is collected about homeownership and real estate, governments should be better able to form housing policies, and home buyers and sellers will become more equipped to negotiate the real estate market.


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How to Find a Real Estate Agent: A Few Things You Might Not Have Thought Of

Their reviews

We live in an era where you can find as much information as you want about just about anyone, with just a few clicks. Itrsquo;s imperative these days to read reviews, whether yoursquo;re looking for a good air conditioning technician or someone to help you buy or sell what is likely your largest asset. But donrsquo;t just depend on the reviews on the realtorrsquo;s website. Google any agent yoursquo;re considering, and check out whatrsquo;s being said about them on Yelp and on social media. Look to see if any complaints have been made about them. And keep in mind that every Realtormdash;even the best of the bestmdash;can have a negative review here and there from a disgruntled client. What yoursquo;re looking for is an overwhelmingly positive consensus.

Their listings

If yoursquo;re selling your home, you want your agent to be active, and that means having listings. But the number of listings can be telling. If they just go on and on and on, it could be an indication that the agent doesnt have the time to give you the level of service yoursquo;re looking for.nbsp;

Their affiliation

Is the Realtor yoursquo;re considering affiliated with a real estate company yoursquo;ve never heard of? This may or may not be of importance to you, depending on their qualifications. But you will want to make sure you do your due diligence to make sure the company is legit.

Their experience

Are you thinking of using a real estate agent who is newly licensed and has never helped anyone buy or sell a house before? Everyone has to start somewhere, but you might not want to be the guinea pig. You may have pressure from family or friends to use their daughter/cousin/uncle/next door neighbor, but itrsquo;s OK to politely tell them that yoursquo;re going with someone elsemdash;someone with many years of experience.nbsp;

Their area of expertise

Just because a Realtor has tons of experience doesnrsquo;t mean they have experience thatrsquo;s >

Their attitude

Even if the real estate agent in question checks all the other boxes, there may still be something off. Maybe they come off as aloof. Maybe theyrsquo;re so serious yoursquo;re afraid to ask questions. Maybe theyrsquo;re not serious enough. You donrsquo;t have to gel with your Realtor. Itrsquo;s perfectly finemdash;and perfectly normalmdash;to get through your transaction and never do business with that agent again. But an agent you really mesh with could end up becoming your agent for life, and maybe also become a friend.nbsp;

nbsp;


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Effective Social Media Strategies for Realtors

The results are conclusive: social media is a great tool for real estate agents. However, first agents must understand the ways in which this medium should be harnessed for this particular industry. Herersquo;s all you need to know:

Utilize social media demographics

Platforms such as Facebook have detailed targeting tools which can really help you hit that required demographic, so if you are listing a property which is great for a first home for those looking to climb onto the property ladder, or alternatively a perfect downsize for an older couple whose kids have left home, then you can reach out specifically to these age ranges by using targeted demographic campaigns. Understand your audience first, and then utilize the tools which can help you reach out.

Use images and video

Instagram is obviously a great platform for marketing properties with its focus on pictures, but donrsquo;t forget video too. In fact, all popular social media channels, as well as LinkedIn, allow the opportunity to share video content, and when selling or renting properties itrsquo;s a perfect opportunity to show people around both inside and outside.nbsp;

ldquo;You can even save yourself considerable time and effort in terms of physically showing people around, so put the resources into making great videos and this tactic really pays off,rdquo; says Tanya Maher, a real estate SMM manager atnbsp;Writinitynbsp;andnbsp;LastMinuteWriting.

Use hashtags

See whatrsquo;s trending in terms of real estate circles and follow popular hashtags online yourself to make sure you are on the ball in terms of the topics that people look out for when searching for properties online. For example , JustListed and DreamHome are two such popular options.nbsp;

ldquo;Hashtags are part of the bigger social media picture for a real estate agent which means conducting thorough social media research and having active accounts where you follow other real estate agents in order to stay up-to-date,rdquo; suggests Kirk Forrester, a tech journalist atnbsp;DraftBeyondnbsp;andnbsp;ResearchPapersUK.

Promote the area too

As any real estate agent worth his salt knows, promoting a property is as much about promoting the neighborhood and town/area in general as it is about promoting a physical building. As part of that bigger social media picture, utilize links to events, local promotions and any other activity in the place the property is situated to show off a vibrant community or peaceful oasis of calm, or whatever it is about the area that you believe complements the property itself. For example, if the property works as a family home, include links to popular family events which really showcase how family-friendly the location is.

You can also flip this around by actively posting on online community pages that you know attract the types of users who would be interested in the property. Donrsquo;t just wait for the audience to come to you, but actively go out and seek that audience by ascertaining the best places to find them. Local community online noticeboards are a great example.

Include reviews

In fact, you shouldnrsquo;t just include reviews, but build your who advertisement around the reviews themselves, as these really help convince viewers that the property and area is right for them. Use the reviews coming from and directed at your target audience, and be sure that the review includes key words and key topics that you know >

And make sure your profile is optimized

This is a simple point but often overlooked. Make sure that with any posts your contact details are overtly clear so users can quickly engage you about the property. In the world of real estate, things can move quickly, so ensure efficiency of communication with optimized profiles.

nbsp;


nbsp;Professional writer and real estate agent Ashley Halsey can be found contributing her insights at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, where she has established her reputation as an erudite and intelligent observer of real estate marketing trends.

nbsp;


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4 Ways to Save When Selling Your Home

Selling your home can be a thrilling and very lucrative experience. But for the first-time home seller, it can also be nerve-wracking and deflating.nbsp;

Thatrsquo;s because selling the largest investment of your life can be counterintuitively expensive. Getting your home ready to be scrutinized by strangers takes a lot of cash and elbow grease.

As the saying goes, it takes money to make money.

However, there are some easy ways to cut down on your front-end expenses to make your home sale more profitable. Letrsquo;s look at five of the best.

Stage Your House Yourself

Professional home staging is expensive. The average cost of staging a home is just over 1,000, and renting furniture can add more. Thatrsquo;s the bad news. The good news is, you can do a lot of home staging yourself.

At base, the art of home staging is simply making a home as appealing as possible to prospective buyers; therersquo;s a reason that real estate agents say that people ldquo;buy with their eyes.rdquo; You want to show your home in the best possible light, and help buyers envision the potential of your living space. Thatrsquo;s easier for a trained, objective expert to do, but you can get a great result if you follow a few general rules.

If you hired a professional stager, theyrsquo;d likely deep clean your home before they staged it, so start with that. Clean the floors, walls, windows, appliances and trim; if your home needs a lot of work, hiring a professional cleaning crew might be a good investment.

Next, consider that the key to a beautiful photo or film is the lighting. Remove all window coverings, like blinds or drapes, to admit natural light.nbsp;

Now consider your furniture. If itrsquo;s out-of-date or in poor condition, put it in storage or throw it out. Even if your furniture is up-to-date and in great condition, keep in mind that having too much furniture crammed into a space is just as bad as not having any at all. You want to have enough furniture in your home to make it warm and inviting, but keep enough open space so that prospective buyers can project their own tastes onto the home.

The ldquo;less is morerdquo; rule definitely applies here; above all, make sure your home doesnrsquo;t look cluttered.

Pre-Sale Inspection

A pre-sale inspection can save you money and a lot of potential stress. If you wait until the buyerrsquo;s inspection to discover problems with the house, that could mean choosing between a price reduction, or paying for a list of repairs on the buyerrsquo;s timeline.nbsp;

The average cost of a pre-sale inspection is just over 300, and covers everything from the roof, foundation, plumbing, HVAC systems, the chimney and fireplace, and exterior features of the home like sidewalks.nbsp;

Discovering problems with your home ahead of time allows you to perform repairs at your own pace, shopping around for the best contractor rates, instead of having them done in a panic.nbsp;

Itrsquo;s also a great marketing advantage. Telling prospective buyers that your home has undergone a pre-sale inspection, followed by repairs and remediation, encourages them to bid with confidence.

Low Cost Repairs

Even if your home doesnrsquo;t require any major repairs, freshening it up a little can pay huge benefits when it hits the market. And wersquo;re not talking about a new roof or an in-ground pool; some of the most effective repairs are also some of the cheapest.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A new paint job can make a home look warmer, cleaner, and brighter; itrsquo;s also a job that can be done in a weekend, for the cost of paint, some drop cloths, and a few rollers.

If you decide to paint the interior of your home before you put it on the market, choose your colors carefully. Though white may seem like the obvious choice, it can seem harsh and institutional, and shows dirt easily. Opt for a softer, off-white tone for more aesthetically pleasing walls.nbsp;

White does work for ceilings, though. Painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls makes the ceilings seem higher, which makes the entire room seem larger. Just remember to invest in high-quality paint; the smoother, more uniform texture makes a big difference.

Clean Carpets

Carpets can take a beating in a busy, family home, and worn or stained carpets can make a hugely negative impression on prospective buyers. But a lot of staining, matting, and apparent wear can be cured by a thorough cleaning.

Even if your carpet still looks good, it might have a faint odor that yoursquo;ve become nose-blind to, so a deep cleaning is always a good idea.

The easiest way to thoroughly clean your carpets is to rent a steam cleaner. Make sure you follow the directions, and donrsquo;t use too much cleaning solution, which can leave unsightly residue. Afterwards, opening windows and using fans can speed up the drying process.nbsp;

Fixing the Roof

A new roof isnrsquo;t exactly ldquo;low cost,rdquo; considering it can be the single most expensive home repair of all, but if you do have roof problems, itrsquo;s better to deal with it before you put your home on the market, rather than let it become an issue down the road.

In 2017, the U.S. Census found that Americans spent an average of 6,800 to replace their roofs. Considering that 50 of that cost is labor, you could assume that the materials for replacing your roof cost about 3,400.nbsp;

If itrsquo;s a >

List with a Flat Rate Agent via Referral Network

One of the biggest single expenses of selling your home is the commission, which traditionally comes to 6 of the final sale price, split between the listing agent and the buyerrsquo;s agent. For the median American home valued at just under 230,000, that comes to about 13,800.nbsp;

Selling with a flat fee agent from a referral network ensures that yoursquo;re working with a pre-vetted, top agent, unlike if you worked with an in-house agent from a discount brokerage, and gets you a full-service experience for a low, flat fee, instead of a big chunk of your profits. That can save you thousands of dollars in commission, and yoursquo;ll be sacrificing nothing on the service end.

nbsp;


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5 Questions You Should Ask About Senior Apartments

Moving to a retirement residence could be the answer to senior housing thata yoursquo;re looking for. Older seniors who are considering the next stage of their retirement have a lot of reasons to downsize into a retirement residence. Today, housing options like these offer benefits such as:

gt;gt; Active living amp; social life>

gt;gt; More convenience and greater affordability

gt;gt; Flexible care options that help seniors age in place

gt;gt; Accessibility without costly renovationsnbsp;

Finding senior apartments that will fit your needs and expectations will take research. You may want to get family members involved or make the decision independently. Whatever you do, make sure to ask lots about the facilities and get your questions answered while you take the tour. Making an informed decision will help you stay where you are years down the road. These are just some of the questions everyone should remember to ask the residence, their family, and themselves.

1. How much will it cost to live there?

Understanding the full costs of moving to and living in a retirement residence will help you put together your complete financial picture. Find out about the cost differences of different suites, as well as the cost of more intensive future care. You can also ask residences how they raise the rent; costs will have to go up to keep up with inflation.

Look beyond your immediate expenses and try to see how much it may cost years down the road.

You should also ask about how the residence might terminate a lease, or what kind of financial penalties might apply if you terminate your lease.

2. What kind of activities does the facility offer?

Find out about what kind of activities, >

3. Are the suites right for you?

Are you looking for a 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, or studio apartment? Find a residence that offers all the space you want and might need. If yoursquo;re looking for something budget-friendly, studio apartments are an affordable option. Many seniors would rather downsize their space for more convenience to walkable neighborhoods or for a more vibrant social life.

4. Are the care options you need available to you?

As you get older, the possibility that you may require care increases. Donrsquo;t neglect this fact when you are looking for a senior apartment. Make sure the place you live offers the kind of care you may need later, allowing you to age in place and remain where you are.

5. What are housekeeping services like?

One of the perks of moving into a retirement residence is shedding some of the chores yoursquo;ve been doing your whole life, including home maintenance and housekeeping. Find out if the residence offers housekeeping services to your liking.

As you prepare for this next stage in your life, you need all the information. Donrsquo;t be afraid to ask questions and get answers.

nbsp;


Full Story >


How to Solve an Ant Problem

If you are interested to know about how you can get rid of ants naturally, then you are at the right place. Ants can be found anywhere and everywhere. You can see a trail of ant army in your kitchen. To successfully get rid of these ants, you need to try some of the best and most effective methods.

Tips to Get Rid of House Ants:

  • Homemade Ant Bait

  • Borax can be an excellent compound for killing house ants, and at the same time powdered sugar will attract them. To make a homemade ant bait, you need to mix one part of the borax thoroughly with 3 parts of powdered sugar. You can fill the bottle caps with this homemade ant bait and place these at the places where you suspect the invasion of ants.

  • Spraying Vinegar

  • You can take a little bit of white vinegar and spray it in the cracks and on the kitchen countertops. These are the places where the ants mainly travel through or walk around for the search of food. You need to allow the vinegar to dry on the surfaces or you can also wipe it with a clean cloth. This can eliminate any chemical trail.nbsp;

  • Keep the Place Sanitized

  • One of the best ways to keep ants out of your house or kitchen is by practicing good sanitation practices. Do not let the bread crumbs and food spills to stay in the kitchen. Clean them immediately. Make sure to clean the garbage too on a regular basis. Keep the sweets in zip-lock bags or in air-tight containers so that the ants cannot get into them.nbsp;

  • Peppermint Essential Oil

  • Another great method that can deter the ants from entering into your house is the peppermint essential oil. You can either spray it all over the places where it is infested by the ants including the cracks from where they enter. You can also put some drops of peppermint essential oil in a cotton ball and place them near the areas where ants move or crawl through. Make sure to find 100 pure essential oils.

    Conclusion

    So, these are some of the best prevention methods on how to solve an ant problem. You can try all these ways to effectively eliminate the ants from your house. All these steps can be effective, but if you still see ants in your house, it is better to call for professional help.nbsp;

    nbsp;


    Full Story >




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