How To Write An Offer Letter

When you find a house that you love a lot, your main concern may be that other people really love the home too. How can you make your offer stand out? You might want to write an offer letter to go long with your proposed purchase price for the home. While making the highest offer s typically the best way to secure a bid on a home, if sellers get a few similar offers, they may be enticed by an extra bit of effort on the part of the buyer. 

Woo Them

There are certain ways that you can craft an offer letter to help a seller be intrigued a bit more and accept your offer. Many times, sellers have a certain type of attachment to a home. They want someone who loves the home as much as they did. Most sellers who have taken pride in their homes want to pass that on to the next owner. Be sure you tell the owners that you appreciate the care that they have taken to keep their home nice. You can also mention that this home will be a great place for you and your family to grow. If you let your enthusiasm stand out, you’ll be able to shine among other offers. 

Give Your Backstory

If you happen to be expecting your first child, or maybe your family is expecting another addition, you may want to note that in your letter. Getting personal with a stranger may seem kind of odd, yet sharing a bit of your story can help a seller feel more comfortable about accepting your offer as opposed to any others. If you have family or good friends that live in the neighborhood, let the seller know about that as well. Sometimes, sharing your story gives that extra touch that you need to have a winning offer. 

Praise Them

Just as you would praise the seller for taking good care of the home, you also want to point out any specific updates that will make your life easier. If there’s a newly landscaped backyard, mention it. If the new roof looks great on the house, include it in your letter. If you notice that the sellers have dogs, let them know how much your dogs will love being in the house as well. You’re not brown-nosing, you’re just giving the sellers a little something to be proud of, letting them know that you took notice! 

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Sentimental

If the home happens to be in the same neighborhood that your family grew up in, then by all means include that in your letter. If your mom lives a few blocks away and is hoping to be closer to the grandkids, it doesn’t hurt to tell the seller about it. The bottom line is to get a bit personal and let the seller know why you want the home. From the home itself to how it will suit your needs, a seller will feel good accepting an offer that they have a connection to. 

Don’t Let These Factors Influence Your Home Buying Decision

Many first time home buyers go into the market looking for the home of their dreams. They picture a house filled with their favorite furniture, illuminated by plenty of natural lighting, and highlighted by bright and cheery wall colors.

While it’s good to have aspirations for your new home, it’s also important to remember that the house you’re buying is essentially a box. Sure, you’ll put plenty of nice things in that box, but ultimately you want to make sure it’s a sturdy box that’s in good shape before thinking about the contents.

When shopping for a new home, here are some things you shouldn’t let influence your decision.

Walls and carpets

It can be off-putting when you go and view a home and the walls are covered in antiquated wallpaper or painted a color you can’t stomach. It can also be hard to ignore, since the walls make up such a large, visible portion of the house. Instead, try to envision the room with the walls painted the colors you would use.

If a home has a carpet that looks straight out of the 70s it can definitely be a distraction and give you trepidations about the house. However, just like walls, this is a relatively simple fix if you have the budget for it. Imagine how the room would look with hardwood floors, tile, or a carpet that’s more to your liking.

An unkempt yard

The first thing you see when arriving at a house is the yard and driveway. Maybe the grass hasn’t been mown in a while, the mulch is looking faded and there are weeds growing up along the walkway. These are all aesthetic problems that can be easily and, if planned correctly, inexpensively fixed.

A good rule is to determine if the parts of the yard you dislike can be cleaned up in a few afternoons or if they would require a lot of time and money.

It feels like someone else’s home

Viewing a home can be awkward. If the seller still lives in the home you might feel like you’re intruding. In some cases, they could even be at home while you’re viewing the house. As you walk through the home, be sure to remind yourself that if you lived here the picture frames would have your family photos in them instead.

Similarly, if the seller has (to put it nicely) a “different” taste in decoration it can seem distracting and off putting. Fortunately, they’ll have to take all their decorations with them when they move–even that wall mounted deer head in the living room.

Decide based on these factors instead

Now that we’ve talked about the things to ignore, here are the details you should look for when shopping for a new home.

  • Size. The size of the home, the rooms, the yard, and the driveway will all be a huge factor in your decision.
  • Architecture. Take note of how the home was built and if there are certain architectural aspects that you love or hate.
  • Windows and lighting. Natural lighting is an oft overlooked feature that really enhances the atmosphere of a home.
  • Plumbing and electrical. Make sure you’re happy with the condition of the home’s HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems because these will be time consuming and expensive upgrades.
  • Kitchen and bathroom features. Look for a home that has the kitchen and bathroom design elements you love, the space you need, and the features you desire (appliances, shower type, sink type, etc.)

Helpful Tips for Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home should be an exciting experience. Unfortunately, however, some first time homeowners would confess the term ‘stressful’ would be a more appropriate description for such an exploit. Despite the rumors, there is no need to be intimidated as a first time buyer if you take the initiative to prepare yourself for the process beforehand.

Be proactive.

Contact three separate mortgage brokers. The point of contacting multiple mortgage companies being to discover all of your available financing opportunities. Shop around for different rates and different options. Some banks offer VA financing, while others do not. Some banks offer mortgages specifically for first time buyers. You wouldn’t purchase smaller items, such as a laptop, without doing your research. Your future home should be no different. Don’t settle for the first option you’re offered.

Educate yourself.

The information you need to prepare yourself for the buying process is out there! Some mortgage brokers or real estate attorneys offer educational seminars for first time buyers. Search for a seminar in your community!

Don’t settle.

Realize what some home-seekers have overlooked or misunderstood in the past, there’s no cost for you, as a buyer, to have a buyer’s agent. Using a buyer’s agent will keep your best interests in mind and will benefit you in the long run. Interview a few different real estate agents in order to find someone you are comfortable with.

Most real estate agents, including myself, would be happy to sit down and simply have a conversation with you! Let’s work together to make this process a great one.

Green Cleaning for Your Home

We all know that cleaning supplies can be filled with chemicals and fragrances that are not the best for us to work with or live around. However, we also know that store bought solutions are very convenient. Maybe you would like to use more non-toxic cleaning supplies but are unsure of where to start. I’ve listed what you need to know below to get started with a more green cleaning routine!

Everyday Cleaning: Choose cleaning products marked as non-toxic and microfiber clothes over traditional cleaners. These can usually be found in the natural section of stores. Microfiber clothes are also a fantastic multitasker to keep in your cleaning arsenal. Used damp they are great for cleaning and scrubbing while when dry they can be used for dusting. Since microfiber clothes are such cleaning superstars you will find yourself needing less cleaning product. When you do need a product to get the job done opt for a more natural or even homemade one.

DIY: Ingredients that can get your home spick and span are also likely to already be in your cupboards. Check yours for the ingredients below!

  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar – removes dirt, bacteria, and mineral deposits and can be used as a multipurpose cleaner or as a fabric softener in the washer machine.
  • Baking soda – absorbs odors and can be used as a gentle scouring agent on tubs and sinks.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – a disinfectant and removes dirt, can be used a stain remover.
  • Essential oils – for adding pleasant odors and some are disinfectants.
  • Borax – eliminates odors and removes dirt.
  • Castile soap – removes dirt and can be used as a detergent or multipurpose cleaner.
  • Lemon juice- grease cutter, stain lifter, dissolves soap scum and removes mineral deposits.

When creating your own cleaning solutions please remember to never combine the following mixtures as they can actually cause more harm than good.

  • Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide – when combined they create an acid and can cause you harm or damage surfaces.
  • Baking soda and vinegar – while they will bubble up the result is a completely ineffective, neutral solution.
  • Castile soap and vinegar – the vinegar will turn the soap back into a white curdled substance leaving your home dirtier than you started.

Freshening up – Skip store-bought air fresheners and opt for diluting essential oils in a glass spray bottle, boiling a pot of spices like cinnamon and clove with oranges or opening a window to let some fresh air in! Plants are also a great, and natural, way to filter the air in your home while adding beauty to your surrounding.

Laundry – When doing a load of laundry use cold water instead of warm as most of the energy used during the washing process is used on heating up the water. Washing clothes less often not only prolongs the lifespan of your wardrobe but also saves on energy in the long run as you’ll need to do laundry less often. Hang dry clothes when the weather is nice instead of putting them in the dryer to save energy and money on your utility bill as well!

We all want to know our home is a clean safe space for us and our families to come home to. Admittedly, green cleaning has a bit of a learning curve to it as you seek out new products and recipes for homemade cleaning solutions. However, as you make the effort to make your cleaning routine a more non-toxic one you can feel good about coming home to a house that sparkles and smells great!

Stay Safe at Home

Practice home safety as a family and you could prevent home invasions, serious accidents and the need for costly home repairs. Home safety habits also help your family to know how to respond should emergencies occur. Organizations like the American Red Cross encourage Americans to practice home safety. They also encourage adults to teach teens and children what to do in the event of an emergency.

Home safety lessons

Knowing who to contact is only the start when it comes to practicing home safety. Yet, this beginning step is one of the most important. Regardless of where you live, 911 should be the first number to call during an actual emergency.

But, 911 isn’t the only number your children need to know. Teach your children, including young children, their grandparents, aunts and uncles telephone numbers. Also, teach them your work and cell phone numbers. Your children should know at least three of these telephone numbers by heart. Write important telephone numbers down for children to keep in their address books and book bags.

Familiarize yourself with how to respond to a fire, tornado, floor and earthquake. For example, you stay near the floor in the case of a fire. Also, gently touch doors and door knobs before exiting rooms. Seek higher ground during a flood.

Stay away from windows during earthquakes and tornadoes. Depending on where you live, teach children how to respond to hurricanes and dust storms. These are minimal emergency response steps. Makes sure that you know how to respond to emergency situations from A to Z.

Responding to non-weather related home emergencies

Install and test smoke alarms. Replace batteries in alarms. Don’t assume that house alarm systems are functioning. Check them. Also, test your home for asbestos, mold and carbon monoxide. Let these three spread and your home could become unsafe for everyone who enters it.

To practice home safety, keep a ladder in the basement, make sure that windows open and close throughout your house, including basement and attic windows. Place flashlights in easily accessible storage areas like kitchen drawers, bedroom nightstands and bathroom cabinets.

Other items to keep on hand include non-perishable food and bottles of water. Also, keep blankets, an extra pair of clothes for each family member and coats, gloves and hats in a safe area. In addition to keeping these items at home, you should also have similar items in at least one of your vehicles.

Teach children not to open the door to strangers, including utility workers. Also, teach children not to play with electrical outlets and household chemicals. Consider installing home security systems. If you have young children or elderly relatives living with you, security systems that allow you to visually check on your home could be a plus.

Mapping out home safety plans forces you to think about the layout of your house, nearby exits and how long it will take your entire family to escape an emergency situation. It also motivates you to educate yourself on how to respond to different types of emergencies. Run regular emergency response and evacuation drills at home and you could have the confidence that your children will know how to respond should an emergency occur while you’re away. Most of all,developing and practicing home safety habits could keep your entire family safe.

What You Need to Know: Private Water Wells

If you have a water well in your home or you are considering buying a home with a well there are some things you need to know. When purchasing a home with a well the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends an initial water quality test. The test should include coliform, bacteria, nitrates/nitrites, and pH. Additional recommendations for well testing include arsenic, lead, copper, radon, a gross alpha screen, and volatile organic compounds. While living in the home the well should be tested annually.

If the home has a water treatment system, a test should be done on both the raw water coming into the house before the treatment system and after the water has passed through the treatment system. This will identify contaminants in the water and ensure the treatment system is functioning properly.

If the home is being financed with an FHA or VA loan, the lender will most likely require a well test. The FHA Scan tests for coliform, lead, nitrates and nitrites. Prospective buyers should also hire an independent professional to have the water tested at a state certified lab. For more information on drinking water quality standards, visit EPA’s website: www.epa.gov/safewater.

In addition to a well quality water test, the mechanical workings of the water system should also be inspected also known as a quantity test. The pump, pressure tank, water treatment system, condition of the area around the well, and the well’s proximity to potential contamination sources will all be examined.

Simple Homemade Liquors

Absolutely delicious, inexpensive and simple to prepare, homemade cordials and liquors make ideal personalized gifts.

Easily made without any special equipment or expertise, homemade liquors can be crafted from a diverse array of fruits, flowers, and herbs. These sweet spirits can also be infused with spices, nuts, plant leaves and tree bark.

During medieval times, European monks fashioned liquors as a palatable way to ingest the medicinal properties contained in herbs, fruits, and other plants. Chartreuse and Benedictine are two liquors that are produced from the original recipes employed by the Benedictine monks.

Under United States federal laws you are allowed to make as many liquors and cordials as you wish. It is, however, against the law to sell your creations.
Take advantage of fresh fruit in season. Liquors capture the fresh fragrance and flavor of most any fruit or berry. There are hundreds of different recipes. However the majority contain only a few ingredients and simple preparation.

Supplies you will need:
• 1-gallon glass jar
• Fruit
• Sugar
• Alcohol
• Coffee filters
• Wooden spoon
• Strainer
• Funnel
• Corks
• Saucepan
• Glass jars with tight sealing, air-tight lids

Fruit Or Berry Based Liquors
A basic recipe for making liquors from berries or fruit contains alcohol, sugar, water and fruit.
I pound fruit or berries of your choice
1-1/2 cups of granulated white sugar
4 cups of 80-proof vodka
1 cup of water

Wash the fruit thoroughly, removing pits, seeds, and stems. Chop in small pieces. Place the chopped fruit in a gallon glass jar. Cover with vodka and cover with a tightly fitting lid. If you have too much fruit to cover with the allotted amount of vodka, add more vodka so that fruit is totally submerged in the alcohol. Store in a dark, cool place. Allow the alcohol to absorb the fruit flavors for 6 to 8 weeks.
After the alcohol and fruit mixture has aged, pour through a strainer or colander. Squeeze the fruit to release all of the liquid. Discard the fruit pulp. Set aside the fruit flavored alcohol based liquid.

Dissolve the sugar in water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring well to dissolve sugar to create a simple syrup. Allow the mixture to cool. Add the simple syrup to the strained fruit flavored alcohol liquid. Stir gently with a wooden spoon. Pour the liquid into a glass container and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Allow aging for at least six months.

After the aging process is completed, filter the liquid to remove sediment from the liquor by pouring the mixture through a coffee filter. Pour the filtered liquor into an attractive glass decanter or jar and seal with an airtight lid, cork or stopper. Properly sealed, your liquor will be delicious and tasty for years.
Have fun and experiment with different fruit or berry combinations. Plums, pears, grapes, apples, guavas, kiwi, watermelon, peaches, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, huckleberries, cherries, blackberries and blueberries can be used to craft your signature liquor.

Herbal Liquors
Pick fresh herbs from the garden to flavor your liquors or buy fresh cut herbs at the farmers market. Many herbs such as Mullen, thyme, sage, lavender, lemon balm, contain properties that offer medicinal benefits.
Use the same basic recipe and methods for herbal liquors as you do for fruit and berry creations.

Rinse fresh herbs well and chop finely. You may use vodka, gin, rum or Everclear alcohol to prepare your liquor. Add cherry or orange blossoms, lemon slices and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg to flavor your liquor. Slices of fresh ginger may also be added.

Experiment with brown sugar or honey in place of granulated sugars.
Prepare, age and process and preserve herbal liquors in the same manner as fruit or berry preparations.

How to Make Your Own Wood Floor Polish

Polishing a hardware floor can be a daunting task and most of the hardwood polish you may have been using is toxic, and not to mention expensive.  You can go natural and make your own polish at home.

Here are a few homemade wood floor polish recipes:

Recipe I

Ingredients:

1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Mix the ingredients well.

2. Rub on the floor, and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

Recipe II

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of grated beeswax
boiling water
1/4 cup of turpentine
fruit extract (if desired)

1. Put the beeswax into a bowl.

2. Put the bowl with the beeswax into a pan of boiling water until the beeswax has melted.

3. Add the turpentine into the beeswax and stir continuously until it all starts to cool.

4. If desired add fruit extract to give it a pleasant smell.

5. Apply the polish to a clean floor using a sponge, wipe off extra polish and leave the floor to dry itself for 12-24 hours.