Sabrina Carr's Blog
Virtual meetings and video conferencing have become the norm as we adapt to social distancing guidelines and staying well. And while these times will eventually pass, and we will return to a time of normalcy, we're all going to need to continue to adapt and get creative in the meantime. In the real estate industry, this has resulted in virtual - rather than in-person - home showings. With in-person home showings limited and many home buyers or sellers uncomfortable either physically touring or showing a property, respectively, these virtual tours present a way to move properties without putting people at risk. Here's a look at some best practices for your virtual tours:
Acquire the Right Equipment
Minimally, you'll need at least your smartphone or tablet to perform a good virtual home showing. However, there are a few additional accessories that are worth investing in:
- A phone mount or tripod with rotating head: This allows you to place your device in certain rooms to give interested buyers a steady, more professional 360-degree perspective of the area and space. If you're connecting live, make sure you have an adequate data plan so you don't lack cell service or connectivity during the tour.
- Software: The likes of FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Microsoft Teams can make for ideal virtual tour platforms - and you can record said tours so that buyers are able to reference them when weighing their options later. Certain software packages can also enhance still images into 3D tours or help create interactive floor plans. It can make for a nice leave-behind with interested buyers following a live virtual home tour.
Staging the Home
Many people prefer the more "raw" look that a virtual tour over the video conferencing applications provide, but that doesn't mean that you still shouldn't be staging the home appropriately. Here's a look at some tips:
- Let there be light: Open shades, curtains and blinds, and turn on light bulbs so that it shows well. Be sure to test the light prior to giving the live tour to make sure there's not too much light, however. Too much or too little light can show poorly via video.
- Stick to the basics for a good home showing: Make sure the property is decluttered so that it looks bigger. Also make sure the property is clean (i.e, vacuum, clean windows, dust, etc.)
- Don't wing it: Plan the route you'll take when you connect for the live virtual showing so that it goes as smoothly as possible. You'll also want to be prepared to explain certain features as you conduct the tour. Make sure to leave time for questions before moving on to the next room.
- Have a conversation: After you're done giving the tour, pop your phone or tablet into a tripod so you can chat face-to-face. Then, have a conversation, ask for questions or there is interest in returning to any specific areas of the home for a second look.
- Do a trial run: Technology can be tricky, especially if you're new to using it. Perform a trial so you have time to get the hang of things before it's show time.
One of the biggest benefits to buying a home is that of the tax savings for you. You own a home now, so there’s no more monthly rental payments going out the window. All of your mortgage payments are going towards your financial future. There’s many different types of tax breaks that you can get from owning your home. Many home improvement projects that allow you an extra tax break are hiding right in the fine print! Tax breaks are known as “incentives.” These incentives are essentially what help people to get important things in their homes done without having a order placed on them. There are some hidden things that you may not have known could be used as tax write-offs.
From putting solar panels on your home to replacing appliances, there are certain tax breaks that you can get for making your home more energy efficient. There are lifetime caps on these deductions, but on a certain year, you’ll be able to save some extra money on your taxes. Some of the deductions that you might be able to claim include:
- Air-source heat pumps
- Biomass stoves
- Central AC units
- Water heaters
- Certain energy-generation systems which include an array of things like water heaters, solar panels, fuel cell systems, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.
You can deduct somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% of the cost of these improvements to your home. It doesn’t hurt to check on the updated standards that are introduced each year by the government. Your accountant can help you to understand your own deductions a bit more in-depth.
Modifying Your Home For Medical Needs
If you need to modify your home in order to accommodate medical needs, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. The modifications must not increase the value of your home and be medically necessary. If the doctor tells you to lose weight and you put in a home gym, you can’t deduct that. If you need a ramp put in your home for wheelchair accessibility, then that can be deducted. The cost of the modifications generally has to exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income, or 7.5% if you’re over the age of 65.
What’s Not Deductible
If you have done some major remodeling around your home, it’s sad to say that these improvements probably aren’t tax deductible. On the positive side, you will get a bigger return on your home when you do decide to sell it. This could help you to reduce any capital gains tax that you may have to pay on the sale of the home.
Remember that when you make improvements to your home, you’re doing it first for your own needs. Any tax write-offs that you may get are merely a bonus.
Building a storage shed for wood can be advantageous for several reasons: it allows you to store your firewood properly. When firewood is dry, your fire will be warmer, smoke far less, and you'll burn less wood at a time -- and a shed with good airflow that is slightly elevated will ensure your firewood stays dry. Not to mention that a storage shed will ensure your woodpile is neat and tidy!
This set of instructions will produce a woodshed capable of holding about one cord of wood.
If you have the opportunity to get your wood cut at the hardware store, this is a great time-saver. If not, start by measuring out and cutting your wood down to what is described in the sections below.
Make the floor frame
Make the walls
Make the roof
This entire woodshed costs less than $250 to build and will take one afternoon's work for two people, whereas a pre-made woodshed can cost $1,000 or more. If you can use leftovers from other projects, it can cost even less! Ensure yourself a cozy winter with this one-weekend DIY.
Lynnfield, MA 01940
Paint is the magic elixir when it comes to inexpensive home makeovers. It rejuvenates space in a way few other things can do. Yet many homeowners have blinders on when it comes to the places they can paint. Namely, they only see the walls as a palette. Let's challenge that notion and remind you of a new way to use paint -- on cabinets.
Step One: Prepping
Whatever you do, don't skip step one — prepping. Though tempting to overlook, the risks of ruining your cabinetry if you do are simply too high.
To prep your cabinets, begin by labeling each cabinet opening and door front with corresponding numbers marked on painter's tape. This will save you countless headaches when it comes time to reinstall. You'll remove the labels before spraying with primer and paint, and then replace the tape when you're ready for reinstallation. You can place the labels just above wherever you've set the pieces to dry so you don't lose track.
Remove all hardware, including hinges and screws. If you're getting new hardware, it likely won't align properly, so be prepared to redo these holes later.
Wipe each cabinet front with a bonding solvent. Allow 1 1/2 hours of drying time before troweling a thin layer of spackling compound over the entire surface to fill holes, blemishes and wood grain pores. Use a second coat if deep holes are evident.
Next, it's time to sand. Doing so eliminates any existing sheen or protective sealant from your cabinets, thereby allowing primer and paint to bond appropriately to the surface. Fine-grit sanding blocks or pads work best for most cabinet and drawer fronts; however, rough-grit sandpaper is acceptable for cabinets with a lot of lacquer or shellac.
Step Two: Add Primer
After vacuuming or wiping down the cabinets, add primer using pigmented shellac sealer and a 2-inch brush. Pour about 1 1/2- inches of your primer into a small can and dip the brush about 1-inch. Press the brush against the side of the can to remove excess primer. Don’t wipe it across the rim, as this removes too much primer. Shellac dries quickly, so move fast and avoid going back over areas that have started to dry. Try to avoid heavy buildup and runs, but don't be overly concerned with uneven patches.
Step Three: Paint
Brush on the first coat of paint, then smooth it out with just the tip of the brush. Follow each layer by sanding lightly using a fine-grit sanding sponge.Allow at least 8 hours for each layer to dry before going over it again. Work from top to bottom to avoid dripping on finished areas. Likewise, paint the insides of the cabinets before moving to the outside. If any paint spills onto a finished area, simply dab it with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits.
Step Four: Reinstall Hardware
Finally, it's time to reinstall door hinges, handles, pulls, mounting plates, and other hardware removed for the project. Once this is complete, attach the door fronts and reset the cabinets in place.
Getting ready for a move or remodel can be stressful. Call, email or use the contact form on the site to schedule a consultation today.