8 HOUSEHOLD USES FOR APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

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ACVYou’ve probably heard about all the benefits of apple cider vinegar in the beauty department – it can be used as a toner, a deodorant, and even a conditioning hair rinse. But did you know Apple Cider Vinegar can be used as a cleaning product? If you’ve been thinking of going non-toxic, replacing your current cleaners with apple cider vinegar is the affordable, easy way to do just that. Here are some of the household items you can replace and how to do so!

1. Fabric Softener

Apple Cider Vinegar is a great way to condition your laundry if you have sensitive skin. Just add 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar in place of your fabric softener and stop all the itching caused by harsh chemicals.

2. Household Cleaner

Apple cider vinegar has a great deal of antibacterial properties so it works extremely well as an every day household cleaner. Mix equal parts water and Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle and you’re ready to clean! While the vinegar smell will fade, you can add a few drops of citrus essential oil to leave a great smell once it dries.

3. Drain Cleaner

Instead of buying drain cleaner filled with dangerous chemicals, use safe items you probably already have! Mix 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour that down your clogged drain. Then, pour 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. Let the products react for 1-2 hours and then rinse with warm water.

4. Window Cleaner

Using the same combination as the everyday household cleaner, mixing equal parts apple cider vinegar and water to create a smear-free window spray.

5. Stainless Steel Cleaner

Your typical stainless steel cleaner can get pricey. Instead, use apple cider vinegar straight out of the bottle to clean your stainless steel.

6. Sticker Remover

Sticker removal can be a giant pain. Soak the area where the sticker won’t budge with apple cider vinegar for about 20 minutes, and then scrape it off!

7. Weed Killer

We’ve all read the warning labels on weed killer found at local hardware stores, so it isn’t a surprise that we can be hesitant when it comes to using those products in the yard where our children or pets spend a great deal of time. Avoid those harsh chemicals and create an alternative, effective weed killer. Mix 1/2 gallon of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/4 cup of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap in a large spray bottle. Be sure to spray on each set of weeds individually and avoid spraying any plants you want to keep.

8. Mildew Remover

If you’re trying to get rid of mildew in your bathroom, use apple cider vinegar! For heavy mildew, use Apple Cider Vinegar on its own. For lighter stains, use equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar and water. You can add essential oils to this mix as well for a scent booster.

Looking to buy or sell or invest in real estate? Let Great Lakes Home Team help you with all your real estate needs. 440 299-5137 or greatlakeshometeam@gmail.com. Visit us at greatlakeshometeam.com.

Real Estate 2018: What to Expect

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PA - January 2018 - Digital Marketing Campaign - Pinterest ImageAt the start of every new year, clients always want to know, “What’s going to happen with the real estate market this year?”   

That’s why I am excited to share our latest report: “Real Estate 2018: What to Expect.”

It includes economists’ predictions on home values, interests rates, and more. Whether you’re a current homeowner, or considering a real estate purchase in the future, this report contains valuable insights that could impact you and your investment.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss issues I expect to affect our local real estate market in the year ahead, please give me a call.

I would like to wish you a happy and prosperous 2018. I look forward to another great year of serving clients in our community!

It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners also want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is that a strong U.S. economy, coupled with low unemployment rates, is expected to drive continued real estate growth in 2018. However, changes on the horizon could significantly impact you if you plan to buy, sell or refinance this year.

HOME VALUES WILL CONTINUE TO RISE

Get ready for another strong year! U.S. home values and sales volume will continue to   rise in 2018.

Experts agree that home prices will increase in 2018, but predict a slower rate of appreciation than 2017, which clocked in at nearly 7 percent nationwide. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts a growth rate this year of 5.5 percent,1 while Freddie Mac’s September Outlook Report forecasts a rate of 4.9 percent. Either way, all indicators point towards continued growth in 2018.2

What does it mean for you? If you’re a current homeowner, congratulations! Real estate proves once again to be a solid investment over the long-term. And if you’re considering selling this year, there’s never been a better time. Contact me to request a free Comparative Market Analysis to find out how much you can expect your home to sell for under current market conditions.

If you’re in the market to buy this year, there’s good news for you, too. Although prices continue to rise, the rate of appreciation has slowed. Still, don’t wait any longer. Prices will continue to go up, so you’ll pay more six months from now than you would today. Call us to set up a free, no-obligation property search and get notified about listings that meet your criteria as soon as (or before) they hit the market.

NEW CONSTRUCTION WILL MAKE REAL ESTATE MORE ACCESSIBLE

Lack of inventory in the housing market has been a primary impediment to homeownership for many Americans. “Ten years ago, the problem in the housing market was lack of buyers,” says Yun. “Today, the problem is lack of sellers. Inventory levels are near historic lows.”3

Yun also notes, “The lack of inventory has pushed up home prices by 48 percent from the low point in 2011, while wage growth over the same period has been only 15 percent. Despite improving confidence [in 2017] from renters that now is a good time to buy a home, the inability for them to do so is causing them to miss out on the significant wealth gains that homeowners have benefitted from through rising home values.”1

The good news? Yun expects a 9.4 percentage point increase in single-family new home construction starts.4

Economists at Freddie Mac make a similar prediction. “Existing home sales are unlikely to increase much going forward. Limited inventory will remain a consistent problem … Growth in home sales will be primarily driven by new home sales, which should continue to grind higher with single-family construction.”2

Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, agrees. “The markets that are going to grow are ones where builders can add that entry-level product.”5

What does it mean for you? If you’ve been frustrated by lack of inventory in the past, 2018 may bring new opportunities for you to find a budget-friendly home that suits your needs. Give me a call to discuss options for new construction in our area.

 MILLENNIALS WILL MOVE TO THE SUBURBS

The new entry-level construction will come with a catch though … it will be located in the suburbs, where the availability of land and fewer zoning requirements make it more cost-effective to build. Economists predict that’s where millennials and first-time buyers will flock for the greater variety of homes at affordable prices.6

Rising home prices, a sluggish job market, and an increase in student loan debt made homeownership largely unattainable for many millennials in past years. However, there’s significant evidence that this trend is turning around. For the fourth year a row, the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends survey found that millennials were the largest group of homebuyers.7

As millennials age, they are settling down and having families, which has prompted an increasing demand for larger but affordable homes. Thus, many are flocking to the suburbs, with 57 percent of millennial buyers opting for a suburban location.

What does it mean for you? If you’re a millennial who has been priced out of urban living, or is looking for more space for your growing family, a number of suburbs in our area have a lot to offer. I can point you towards the communities that will best meet your needs.

BOOMERANG BUYERS WILL RETURN TO THE MARKET

“Boomerang buyers” comprise the nearly 10 million Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sales during the housing recession of 2006 to 2014.

According to MyFico.com, a foreclosure remains on a credit report for seven years. It takes many boomerang buyers at least that long to raise their credit score and save up enough cash to qualify for a new mortgage.8

NEW TAX LEGISLATION WILL IMPACT HOMEOWNER DEDUCTIONS

 The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” passed at the end of 2017 nearly doubles the standard deduction, so far fewer Americans are expected to itemize this year. For those who do, however, it could mean less homeowner deductions are available than in the past.

Previously, homeowners could deduct interest paid on the first $1 million of mortgage debt, but that threshold has been lowered to $750,000 for new mortgages. (Existing mortgages will not be impacted.)

Additionally, taxpayers will no longer be able to fully deduct state and local property taxes plus income or sales taxes. The new legislation restricts this deduction to $10,000. It also eliminates the deduction for moving expenses (except for members of the Armed Forces) and interest on home equity loans unless the proceeds are used to substantially improve the residence.10

It’s yet to be seen how the tax bill will impact the real estate market overall. While some economists predict a price reduction in certain markets, Republican lawmakers project the bill will increase take-home pay and stimulate the economy overall. According to Realtor.com Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, “Some house hunters—particularly wealthy buyers—will see an increase in after-tax income, making an already tough housing market even more competitive. This increased demand could drive prices up even higher than they are already.”11

What does it mean for you? If you’re an existing homeowner, be sure to consult a tax professional if you’re concerned about the impact the new tax bill could have on you.

INTEREST RATES WILL RISE

No one knows exactly what will happen with mortgage rates this year, but the Mortgage Bankers Association anticipates the Federal Reserve will raise rates three times in 2018, with Freddie Mac’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage reaching 4.8 percent by the end of Q4, up from around 4 percent at the end of 2017.12

 Kiplinger.com Economist David Payne also predicts interests rates will rise this year, with short-term rates outpacing long-term rates as the Fed aims to curb inflation in a tightening job market. He predicts the bank prime rate that home equity loans are based on will increase from 4.25 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2018. 13

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market to buy, act now. Rising interest rates will decrease your purchasing power, so act quickly before interest rates go up. Give me a call today to get your home search started.

And if you’re a current homeowner who is considering refinancing or a home equity loan, don’t wait. I can help you estimate your property’s fair market value so you’ll be prepared before contacting a lender.

I AM HERE TO HELP

While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big-picture” outlook for the year, real estate is local. And as local market experts, I can guide you through the ins and outs of our market, and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood. If you have specific questions, or would like more information about where we see real estate headed in our area, please give me a call!

Sources:

  1. Inman News –
    https://www.inman.com/2017/11/03/what-to-expect-from-the-2018-housing-market/
  2. Freddie Mac September Outlook Report –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/outlook/20170921_looking_ahead_to_2018.html
  3. org –
    https://www.marketplace.org/2017/07/05/economy/tight-inventory-slows-housing-market-down-0
  4. National Association of Realtors Press Release –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/existing-home-sales-to-grow-37-percent-in-2018-but-inventory-shortages-and-tax-reform-effects-loom-300549447.html
  5. Fox Business News –
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/11/27/entry-level-buyers-drive-solid-new-home-sales.html
  6. Zillow Research –
    https://www.zillow.com/research/2018-predictions-17217/
  7. National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report –
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends
  8. com –
    https://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/questions/foreclosure-fico-score-affect.aspx
  9. RealtyTrac –
    http://www.realtytrac.com/news/foreclosure-trends/boomerang-buyers/
  10. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/taxes/tax-reform/the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-what-it-means-for-homeowners-and-real-estate-professionals
  11. com –
    https://www.realtor.com/news/real-estate-news/tax-cuts-survey/
  12. Mortgage Bankers Association Economic Forecast –
    https://www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/research-and-economics/forecasts-and-commentary
  13. Kiplinger Economic Forecast –
    https://www.kiplinger.com/article/business/T019-C000-S010-interest-rate-forecast.html#iOf4mkSFvvTmi2wr.99

Enrich your garden and landscape soil by making leaf mold

Building soil is important to any home gardener. One of the best ways to build soil is by creating leaf mold, which is a type of compost that uses only leaves and nothing else.

Different from composting, making leaf mold is a cold process, done primarily by fungus while composting relies on bacteria for decomposition. With composting, you’d add green material (grass clippings, manure, kitchen scraps, etc.) In addition to adding different nutrients, it also adds heat.

This process recreates the environment of the forest floor in a small space and results in a nutrient and mineral rich soil additive you can use in a number of ways.

How to make leaf mold

The other way this process differs from compost is that you can just throw the leaves in and leave them alone. You don’t have to mix or turn the compost periodically to promote decomposition.

The first thing you’ll need to do is build a wire mesh bin to hold the leaves. Put the leaves in and soak them. You can shred the leaves in order to accerlerate the process. Moisture is important to helping the leaves break down. If the bin is too dry, you can cover with a tarp to retain moisture. You can also weave slats from old window blinds into the mesh or line it with sheet plastic to help retain the moisture. If you live in a cooler climate, the process can take as long as three years. In warmer climates, it can take as little as nine months.

Over the course of a year, your leaf pile will have lost about half of its volume. Open the bin and give the leaves a stir to get some aeration. Move the bin over and start the process again. By the third year, the first pile that you created should be broken down, black and crumbly. It should smell like you’re walking in the woods after a rainstorm. It’s now ready for use and you can start a new pile on that spot.

Another method is to just store your leaves in lawn bags. Stuff the bags full of leaves and wet them down before closing the bag. Use a garden fork to poke a number of holes in the bags to let some air in. Mark the bags and put them in some out-of-the-way nook of the yard.

Leaf mold is not only organic and environmentally friendly, it is also one of the most effective ways to create the nutrient-rich soil essential for growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs.