Janet Cramb & Company/LAER Realty Partners



Posted by Janet Cramb on 4/14/2021

Depending on how many years you’ve been working, retirement can seem like it’s too far in the future to worry about or too close to be able to effectively make any real change.

 However, retirement is about more than doing the math and investment planning. Retirement includes making several life decisions, and considering things you may not have thought of before.

 In this article, we’re going to talk about planning aspects of your retirement including your home and assets, your savings and investments, and setting and achieving goals for yourself.

Pay yourself first

If it feels like your paycheck is spent before you get a chance to set any aside each week, you’re not alone. However, it’s never too late to start setting aside money for retirement. The “pay yourself first” theory states that you should set aside a certain amount for bills, savings, and retirement plans before you spend a dime of your paycheck each week.

The easiest way to achieve this is to take advantage of an employer-based contribution matching program such as a 401K. However, if you are self-employed you can still open up an individual retirement account (IRA) or a Solo 401K. With an IRA, you determine where you want to invest your money, and can choose safer or riskier investments based on your own preferences.

Draw up your plan, literally

There’s no better way to start planning than to actually sit down with a notebook or your computer and start figuring out what you want to save and how you want to achieve those savings.

You’ll want to determine how much money you can accrue in your savings account, estimate the price of your assets and properties, and look at the projected return on investment for any IRAs or 401Ks you have in place.

As you likely know, these numbers are all projections. There’s no way to know for sure how much your home will be worth, or how well your investments will do by the time you’re ready to retire.

So, one of the most important aspects of making this checklist is to return to it yearly to determine if you should change your investments or alter your retirement goals.

Determine your lifestyle needs

Whether you have dreams of settling down in a quiet town for retirement, touring the country in an RV, or traveling the world, you’ll need to find out how you can make it possible on your retirement plan.

You and your spouse will need to sit down and draw up a plan for your mutual retirement goals. Determine which expenses you can do away with in retirement so that you can fulfill other goals. Having these conversations now will help you more effectively plan for the future. And, remember that the time of your retirement is always closer than you think.  




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Posted by Janet Cramb on 4/7/2021

With few exceptions, a backyard shed is a resource that's going to provide you with an array of benefits for as long as you own your home.

If you're in the house-hunting mode, right now, a storage shed is a desirable feature that is usually worth including on your wish list. While many sheds are purely functional in nature, some can be used to dramatically enhance the landscaping and aesthetic appeal of your property.

In many cases, new homeowners don't realize how much they need a shed until after they've settled into a house that doesn't have one. When your tools, equipment, and supplies are easily accessible, your gardening, yardwork, and maintenance tasks will become much more convenient and less of a chore. Having an enclosed, protective structure to easily store your rakes, shovels, and hedge trimmers will also decrease the likelihood that they'll be left out in the yard and subjected to the elements of nature.

Although sheds are useful to any property owner who does their own mowing, raking, and snow removal, some homeowners find them indispensable.

  • Gardeners: Whether you cultivate vegetables, flowers, or other plants on your property, you'll need a convenient and dry place to store everything from tools and fencing material to seedlings, gardening soil, fertilizer, peat moss, clay pots, and statues. A well-organized shed can also help you keep track of when supplies are low and need to be replenished.
  • Swimming pool owners: When you consider the daily and weekly tasks that are involved in maintaining a swimming pool, it makes sense to have a dedicated space for safely storing and organizing equipment, pool chemicals, extra patio furniture, and even floatation devices. If you leave these items outside they tend to get dirty, damaged, or even stolen. Securing and storing pool chemicals away from children and pets is also a major safety consideration.
  • Most other property owners: As long as you have grass that needs to be mowed regularly, bushes that require trimming, and deciduous trees that shed their leaves in the fall, yard maintenance is an inescapable aspect of home ownership. For those who live in snow-prone areas of the country, keeping shovels, bags of rock salt, and possibly a snow blower on hand are often considered necessary elements of winter survival. While some people try to cram all those items into their garage, having a separate storage building on the premises can make life a lot more organized and less cluttered.
Whether you assemble your storage shed or have it custom-built by a carpenter, you'll probably find it to be one of the most useful features of your property. Assuming your available yard space and budget can accommodate a decent-quality storage shed, the probability is high that you'll be putting it to productive use for many years to come!




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Posted by Janet Cramb on 3/31/2021

Image by Tom from Shutterstock

Energy efficiency isn’t just for the inside of your home. What you plant outside can affect the bottom line inside. Choosing the right trees, grasses, and shrubs can help.

Location, location, location

Well placed trees can help to reduce your heating and cooling bills. Trees can keep your home cooler in the summer and protected and insulated in the winter. Determine where to plant the saplings so that when they mature, they shade your roof and upper rooms. Plant leafy deciduous trees to the East, West, or South sides of your home so that the shadows fall on your house. Eventually, they’ll keep you shaded in the blistering summer months. In the winter, those trees will lose their leaves allowing warmth from the sun to reach your windows through the bare branches.

When planting trees on the north or northwest side of your house, utilize evergreens as a windbreak. They’ll reduce the amount of frigid air that hits your house in the winter. Strategically planted rows can create a windbreak for an entire side of your home. Cypress, fir, or low-branch pines create great windbreaks. Be sure to account for growth when you choose a planting location, 10 to 15 feet between each tree is a good place to start.

Efficiency

If you have central air conditioning, use shrubs and bushes to shade your condensing unit. Experts estimate that a protected A/C can boost efficiency by ten percent or more. Keep your plants and shrubs about three feet away from your condensing unit so that it has proper airflow. Trim trailing vines or branches that grow close to the equipment or ventilation.

Groundcover

Replace grass with stones or a concrete slab that reflects light and heat toward your home. That will keep your home warmer in the winter months. Dark wood chips, mulch, or green groundcover help to absorb daytime heat that is then slowly released throughout the evening and overnight. This process works to keep your home cooler during the day but adds warmth to outdoor entertainment spaces in the evening.

If you’re searching for the perfect new house, let your real estate professional know about your desire for energy efficiency. They can help you find the ideal home to put your ideas into action.




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Posted by Janet Cramb on 3/24/2021

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

When inquiring about renting a home or condominium, you may not immediately be aware if the property is being self-managed by the owner or by a property manager or management firm that the owner has hired. There are some benefits and downsides to each. You should first ask who and how the property is being managed. This just could give you an indication of what to expect in your relationship.

Benefits of an Owner Landlord

One of the benefits of renting from a landlord who owns the property is that they have a direct vested interest in maintaining the house. This could mean that they may be more responsive and make repairs properly. Property owner landlords do not like replacing tenants and filling vacancies, so they will often treat their good tenants very well.

Negatives of an Owner Landlord

Often, the biggest downside of an owner landlord is they have too close of a personal connection with a property. They may have even done much of any remodeling or repair work themselves. They can take it personally if there is damage or a repair that needs addressing. This makes them more prone to inspecting the property more frequently. They also are more personally affected if a tenant is late with making a rent payment. They may not have the resources or be willing to spend the money, to keep a property properly maintained.

Benefits of a Property Manager

A professional property manager works as a liaison between the tenant and the owner. This keeps the owner at arm's length, making the relationship more professional and less personal. A property manager has their own reputation to maintain and should try to keep both the tenant and owner happy. A property manager often solely works on managing properties and can spend more time making sure a property is maintained.

Negatives of a Property Manager

Some would argue that the negative to working with a property manager is that they are a paid third-party with no “skin in the game” so to speak. Many property managers also manage their own properties and may manage so many properties they may not have enough time to pay sufficient attention to yours. So property managers are largely impersonal companies and may not offer the personal touch you desire.

Due Diligence Is Key

To key between selecting a professional property manager or an owner tenant usually lies in performing your due diligence before signing a lease. Ask for reference and see our reviews. Any landlord or property manager will ask for references from you. Do not be afraid to perform your own due diligence before making a decision on renting from them.




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Posted by Janet Cramb on 3/17/2021

Image by Cristina Mantovani from Pixabay

Whether you’re moving into a new home or getting yours ready for the market, remodeling your kitchen can help boost your home’s value. You don’t have to invest in major remodeling projects to spruce up your kitchen. The following minor remodeling options are cost-effective ones that can give your kitchen a brand new look.

Refinishing Cupboards & Cabinets

If you have older cabinets and cupboards that look dated or flawed, refinishing them can improve the way they look. If the cabinets are in good repair, a fresh coat of paint or stain can give your kitchen a new appearance without a large price tag. Consider refinishing with a modern neutral tone or select a color that complements the surrounding elements like countertops or floors. 

New Faucet

If you’re looking for a simple way to boost your kitchen’s appearance, consider replacing an older faucet with a shiny new one. Installing a new faucet doesn’t take long, and it can help your kitchen look more up-to-date. Keep in mind that there are many spout styles and shapes to choose from, as well as a wide range of finishes, including brushed chrome and antique brass. For a cohesive look, consider updating cabinet knobs and drawer pulls to match the finish of your new faucet.

New Countertops

Adding new countertops can have a major impact on the overall appearance of your kitchen. Countertops made of affordable materials like vinyl laminate, formica, ceramic tile, or similar material can help keep replacement costs down. However, if you’re able to invest more in your project, natural stone, such as marble or quartz provide more durability and elegance. 

Energy-Efficient Appliances

If your kitchen has older appliances, consider switching to more energy-efficient models. This is an easy way to improve your kitchen’s appearance while also lowering your energy costs. Whether you go with stainless steel models for a sleek look or black or white ones for a more contemporary style, having these new appliances installed can instantly give your kitchen a fresh new look.  

New Lighting 

Adding task lighting or under-counter lights can provide much-needed illumination in prep areas while generating ambiance. You may also consider replacing older light fixtures with more modern or contemporary ones to give your kitchen a more updated look. Seek out vintage or otherwise unique hanging fixtures to add something unexpected your room.