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Published: Saturday, June 23, 2012 @ 4:34 PM
Updated: Saturday, June 23, 2012 @ 4:34 PM
Whether you’re best buds with the neighborhood crowd or don’t know many of the people on your street, a neighborhood bash is a homerun of an idea for this summer. Invite everyone on your block, your street or the entire neighborhood to an outdoor party.
A summer neighborhood party reaps benefits all year long. It pays to know those who live so close to you. Then you can ...
Besides, keeping up with the Joneses is easier if you actually know them.
Who should organize the neighborhood party? You, of course! If you wait for someone else, it’ll never happen. Hold your bash in a couple of adjoining backyards or on the street.
“Most of us grew up in neighborhoods where we all knew each other, and the block party we had was to get that sense of neighborhood back,” said Springboro resident Cindy Schulte. “We had a blast!”
Besides getting to know chummy neighbors better and meeting ones you’ve never talked to, there are big benefits to a neighborhood get-together:
If you wish, ask a neighbor or two to plan with you but get started soon! Pick a date when your organizers can make it. (Hint: a Sunday night is often when many people don’t have other plans.)
Distributing a flyer is a good way to spread the word. Since postal regulations prohibit you placing them in mailboxes, ring the doorbell to hand the invitation. That gives you an extra chance to “talk up” the party.
Your flyer should include:
A word about food: potlucks are fun and simple. You and the other organizers need to round up enough tables to hold the food. The organizers can provide plates and utensils, if you wish. Whether or not you pass-the-hat for costs is up to you.
Firing up the barbecue or having fried chicken from your favorite restaurant would be a treat, of course. But that adds extra hassle such as asking for a financial contribution and an RSVP. If you do barbecue, make sure someone is in charge of always watching the units and keeping kids away.
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2018 @ 1:29 PM
— Giuliana and Bill Rancic are saying goodbye to their Windy City brownstone!
The TV personality, 43, and her entrepreneur husband, 46, have listed their 1866 townhouse with Laura Rubin Dresner of Baird & Warner, asking $6.8 million.
The 8,098 square-foot property underwent a down-to-the-studs renovation two years ago, according to the listing, and now boasts stunning features on all four levels. One living room shows the couple’s affinity for monograms, with a “B” and a “G” statue proudly displayed on end tables flanking the fireplace.
An all-white kitchen with Calcutta marble, multiple Subzero fridges and two wine coolers was the perfect spot for the Rancic’s and their son Duke, 5, to whip up their signature chicken skewers.
The master bedroom takes up the entire third floor, and don’t be fooled: this serene sleeping space is just the beginning of the unbelievable amenities the suite offers.
The bathroom — one of five on the property — and dressing room expand over a combined two stories, and include a balcony on the second level that overlooks the large soaking tub.
The wall-to-wall storage space sits behind paneled doors, stylishly stashing the red carpet queen's arsenal of gowns and jewelry.
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 12:53 PM
— Let's say you need to borrow money, and it’s more of choice between putting $500 more on your credit card or going without it. Might a home equity loan be a good solution?
Home equity loans drew a lot of attention late last year when President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The legislation suspended the tax deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, starting in the tax year 2018 and running until 2026. A taxpayer can still use the deduction only if the loan is used to buy, build or substantially improve the home that secures the loan.
"Home equity remains cheaper than personal loans and credit cards (with an average rate of 14.89 percent), and can be a very smart way to pay off that debt," he told Forbes. "Just be warned: After the financial crisis, lenders tightened approval criteria for home equity products.”
What is a home equity loan, exactly?
This type of loan is money you borrow against the difference between the amount you owe on your home and the home's market value, according to Lending Tree. The lender pays you a lump sum that you pay back at a fixed interest rate with fixed monthly payments.
The money from a home equity loan (HEL) can pay for home improvements, medical bills, college tuition or even a vacation. "The money can be used for anything, but if you're using the value of your home to pay for frivolous expenses, you may want to think twice," Lending Tree noted.
What are the "must haves" for someone trying to get a home equity loan?
In order to qualify for a home equity loan in 2018, you'll need these things, according to Lending Tree:
How do the interest rates compare to other credit?
"Because these loans are secured by real estate, interest rates are much lower than unsecured personal loans or credit cards," Clements noted. "Many home equity line of credit products offer rates near or below 5 percent. Personal loan interest rates typically start above 5 percent and can go much higher."
Does losing the tax deduction devalue the home equity loan? The former ability to get a deduction on a home equity loan made them even cheaper, but in some instances, you can still take the deduction and in many others, it doesn't really matter, Kim Paskal, CPA and tax shareholder at BeichFleischman told the Lending Tree blog. "Because of the rise of the standard deduction up to $24,000 for [taxpayers who are] married filing jointly, not only are most people not going to take the HEL deduction, but you probably don't even care if you get your mortgage interest deduction."
How do changes in personal loan interest rates affect your decision?
"For people with excellent credit, it is now relatively easy to take out a personal loan with a low single-digit interest rate and no origination fee," Clements noted. Paying an extra 1 percent or 2 percent on the personal loan rate instead of risking your home as collateral for a HEL might be worthwhile, he added. Personal loans also tend to be a quicker source of money for emergencies and have shorter terms, which force you to pay back more quickly and will build your net worth over time, he added.
Where do you find a reputable home equity lender?
If you're sold on a home equity loan, or at least on the idea of further exploration, be sure to distinguish between a reputable lender and the first to pop up with an ad on your home screen. The best home equity loan lenders have an efficient application process, explain loan options clearly and tailor their services to the varying needs of individual borrowers, according to NerdWallet in its objective and independent coverage of "Best Home Equity Loan Lenders."
Do you really want to borrow at all?
Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 3:45 PM
There are three magic words that will make your home sell quickly and at the highest possible price. The first is location, for sure, but a close second is "curb appeal."
While you can't exactly wave a magic wand to make your front yard, home exterior, or curb look instantly better, even a beginner can tackle inexpensive DIY projects.
Your mission: "Enhance your front yard so people will stop and stare after the first glance," advised DIY Network. "Adding curb appeal to your house not only makes it easier to sell, but it also gives your house that nice and finished look you can take pride in."
Don't let your home's exterior be the last item you tackle before listing, because it's the first thing buyers see, advised Trulia's Robyn Woodman, a real estate broker and consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.
You don't necessarily have to invest heavily. "There are several inexpensive tactics that will kick your curb appeal up a notch," Woodman noted. She and other real estate and home design experts shared eight curb appeal projects you can DIY on a shoestring budget, even if you're a beginner:
Dress up the front door
"Your home's front entry is the focal point of its curb appeal," according to Better Homes & Gardens. For almost zero cost, you can clean dirty spots around the front door knob and use metal polish on the door fixtures. Add extra oomph with a swag or wreath that reflects the home's interior (and your personal style).
Paint the front door
You don't necessarily need to paint your whole home to boost curb appeal. Instead, try painting the front door a bold color that makes your house stick out, DIY Network recommended. "Make sure to match it to the rest of the colors on your house," DIY added. Try an inviting color, like cool turquoise.
Install new house numbers
Try this for an easy entry to the world of curb appeal creation. Purchase new ones if your house has old or faded house numbers. Try to match your new house numbers with the finish that is on your exterior light fixtures, advised DIY. Simple house numbers can start at $2 per number and customized plaques cost $50-$100.
Plant a tree
This is an "oldie but goodie" tactic for home sellers, but that's because it works. Choose a suitable tree that will be attractive whatever time of year you intend to sell the house. "Consider how big the tree will get and how it will affect your house," DIY recommended. "If you have enough space, try planting two trees to frame your house or your entryway."
Mulch and mulch some more
Particularly at the beginning of the growing season or the end of the summer, flowers are dead and garden beds can be a bit of an eyesore, Woodman said. "One way to amplify aesthetics is to lay down a new layer of mulch. Besides adding eye candy, laying down a heavy layer of mulch protects your flowers and beds from harsher weather that's on the way." While organic mulches colored with vegetable dyes deliver a punch of color and are a choice you can feel good about, avoid them if you live in an area with lots of rain, since they fade quickly. If you're short on cash, opt for a more durable pine straw, wood chip or even pea gravel mulch.
Tile your doorstep
Better Homes & Gardens advised that this DIY project could take a weekend or more, but is worth every second in extra curb appeal. Looking for something simpler? "Create a permanent welcome mat by tiling or painting a design that contrasts with the porch floor or front stoop. Not only will you not have to worry about replacing the mat when it gets ratty, you can impress your visitors with your creativity."
Trim the house
"Beyond landscaping, you can also boost curb appeal by adding an extra layer of trim and molding to the windows and doors," Woodman noted. "Trim is like adding accessories to an outfit - it can elevate a basic house into something extraordinary." Add a layer of crown molding to the top of the home's current trim, employing a suitable design from simple Craftsman to more ornate Victorian motifs.
Paint the bricks
Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 1:50 PM
— At first read of the Airbnb procedural checklist, it's all straightforward− you start with extra room at your dwelling, be it a townhome, rancher, treehouse or castle. Then, create your listing, welcome guests and wait to get paid.
Testimonials like the one from The Guardian columnist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslet, who attended an Airbnb Open in Paris with more than 6,000 successful hosts, add further appeal. According to Cosslet, Airbnb gave those in attendance the "economic freedom to pursue their dreams, or allowed them to make many friends and travel the world”.
Simple, profitable, emotionally enriching − Airbnb hosting can be the answer to your need for extra earnings and the ultimate side hustle, but only if you're a good fit as a host. You need to be comfortable with other people touching your stuff and sharing your OJ, sure, and also good at random things like empathy, tax records and quick callbacks.
What do you want out of Airbnb financially?
There are three types of host out there, according to Learn Airbnb's "Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Airbnb Hosting," "those that want to make a few extra bucks with their available space, those who want a stable secondary source of income, and those who want to build a serious Airbnb business that will eventually become their main source of income."
Don't confuse the earnings of the full-time host with the efforts you'd be able to make as a very part-time host. "The more income potential you desire, the more planning, capital, work, and risk you're going to be taking on," noted the blog.
Is your market in line with your income requirements?
Learn Airbnb also warned that some markets still don't have enough demand to support hosting, and you should make sure yours isn't one of them. "On the flip side, you should also find out whether you're in a super hot Airbnb market. Otherwise, you might be happy with making $2000 a month when you should be making twice that." To figure out which scenario you're in, get a market report from a trusted data provider like AirDNA. "What you want to be able to achieve will dictate the location, size, and nature of your listings as well as the tools and strategies you will be using."
Are you a first, or at least quick, responder?
Whether you're in the listing stage or guests are nestled in upstairs already, the most successful Airbnb hosts have a recognizable sense of urgency in their business dealings, according to Airbnb "Super Host" Mikey Rox on the Wise Bread website.
"I respond to my inquiries within minutes usually — thanks to the micro-subletting services' mobile apps — and I never let them go for more than a few hours." he noted. "Not responding promptly to inquiries gives the potential guest time to browse other listings, and I don't want that. My response time is largely what keeps us booked consistently throughout the year."
Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, himself a host in San Francisco, told Cosslet how important it is to be "super responsive." "One of my things is to check in with guests the day before they arrive and make sure they have all the information they need," he said. "As soon as they've arrived, I ask if everything's okay. If anything does go wrong – something's out of place, you've run out of toilet paper – they have a chance to let you know before it bothers them."
Do you have the energy for amenities? Lots of extras aren't crucial for the every-once-in-a-while host in a slow market. But to succeed in a faster-paced environment or build a stable bloc of guests who will also refer, you need to be up on amenities, according to Rox, who was able to buy a second property with her and her husband's Airbnb earnings.
"Another reason we receive more bookings than a lot of listings in our area is because we offer great amenities," he noted. "In the private guest bedroom, there's a mini fridge, flat screen TV with HD cable, DVD player, iron and ironing board, and lots of books and maps of the city. Our guests also have full use of our home while they're here, whether it's cooking their meals, hopping on the computer to print tickets or vouchers, playing our video game system or board games, washing and drying clothes, or borrowing a book or DVD."
It's also important, Rox added, to provide such amenities in the price of the stay.
"Our guests get a lot of bang for their buck, and these amenities are our way of giving that extra value."
Are you able to stick up for yourself? There will be times when you have to say, "Enough is enough," a woman who has hosted her swanky Brooklyn apartment on Airbnb for three years wrote in a blog post that was picked up by The Points Guy. First, though, she described an overwhelmingly positive experience, where "the people who stayed with me acted like guests.
They didn't expect me to do their dishes, nor did they come home at 4:00am drunk and throw up on my couch. Many even brought gifts like chocolate or wine from their home countries, which added a fun, cultural component to the experience."
But she also advised potential hosts to anticipate a situation where you might have to tell someone to leave. Her breaking point came with a guy who made inappropriate passes, but other times you might need to assert yourself could include anything from breaking rules about the kitchen to violating quiet hours to bringing a pet when they're not allowed.
Do you have that "stick to it" type of personality?
You may not catch on right away. There might be bad weather or air strikes or some other factor that limits your success at the beginning. Or you may be wildly successful, week after week. In either case, you'll need mad sustaining skills to continue to host Airbnb over the long haul. Wisebread blogger Rox noted. Just a few of the things you can't let slide include updating the calendar online and offline, keeping any amenities you've listed in ample supply and preparing literally constantly for the taxes you must pay as an Airbnb host.
Are you open to criticism?
To succeed and keep succeeding, you have to be able to hear things you might rather not listen to, like that your paint colors are off, or a guest was certainly not expecting your toddler to be screaming while they were sleeping in. But asking for constructive criticism and putting the feedback into play is what keeps an Airbnb venture in business over time.
Ultimately, even if your earning potential is astronomical, it's your emotional side that's going to determine whether you and your guests will enjoy the Airbnb experience. As successful host Teshale Wolde from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia summed it up for The Guardian: