Carol Snider and Laura Snider Cooperman's Blog
If you're like many busy homeowners, you may not have a lot of time to cultivate a vegetable garden for the purpose of putting food on the family table. However, old-school culinary herb gardens are deceptively easy to grow, and they pull double duty by providing an exceedingly pleasing aesthetic. Not only do they add a flavorful element to any meal, but culinary herb gardens also present a picturesque appearance as well as perfume the surrounding air. If you plant your herb garden near a window, you'll be rewarded by a lovely aroma wafting through your home on warm days when you open the window. If you're thinking of putting your home on the market in the near future, an herb garden may increase its desirability to prospective buyers.
As an added bonus, most culinary herbs require very little maintenance once established. Herbs are typically resilient plants capable of thriving in poor soils. They normally don't require extra summer watering except in times of drought, and their abundance of aromatic plant oils serve as natural insecticides. Here's what you need to do to get the most out of your culinary herb garden.
Consider How You Cook
The first thing to consider is which types of herbs you typically use the most in your kitchen. If you love using Mediterranean-sourced recipes when preparing fare for the family table, be sure to plant lots of thyme, oregano, and rosemary. If herbal tea is popular in your household, you can grow chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, and other herbs used for making teas in your garden. You can dry the herbs with a food dryer, by spreading them out on a cookie sheet and placing them in the oven on low heat, or by hanging them upside down in a cool, dry location.
Choose a Sunny Spot
Most culinary herbs used by modern cooks have their roots in the Mediterranean, which means they've evolved under sunny skies and prefer that kind of environment. Choosing the sunniest available spot in your yard for culinary herb gardens help ensure that they thrive. However, if you've got a few somewhat shady spots in the area you choose for your garden, some herbs, such as parsley and mint, do quite well with a partial sun exposure, especially in warmer climates.
Adding hardscaping such as stepping stones, statuary, birdbaths, arbors, and decorative fencing provides a polished, pulled-together look that keeps the average herb garden from looking unkempt. Water features such as pools and fountains add classic accents, and a comfortable garden bench provides an ideal place to sit and read, dream, or just watch the world go by.
Please feel free to reach out for more information on getting the most from your outdoor living space or other aspects of optimizing your homeowner experience.
Buying a home may prove to be challenging, regardless of where you decide to search for a house. However, if you are aggressive in your pursuit of your dream residence, you could speed up your home search.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you stay aggressive during your quest to find your dream house.
1. Keep Track of the Local Housing Market
You know you want to purchase a house in a particular city or town, but residences are selling quickly. Fortunately, if you monitor the local housing sector, you may be better equipped than other buyers to pounce at an opportunity to acquire a terrific residence at a budget-friendly price.
Be persistent in your home search. Review the local housing market daily, and if a home becomes available that you want to check out, schedule a showing right away.
Of course, once you find your dream house, don't hesitate to submit an offer to purchase it. Because the longer you wait to submit a homebuying proposal, the more likely it becomes that a rival homebuyer could acquire this residence.
2. Attend Open Houses
An open house provides an excellent opportunity to walk through a residence at your convenience. Then, if you believe a home is right for you following an open house, you can schedule a showing or submit an offer to purchase.
If you attend an open house, take notes when you identify things you like or dislike about a residence. These notes may help you make an informed decision about how to proceed with a home after an open house.
Ask questions during an open house, too. Remember, a seller's agent is on hand during this event, and he or she can provide you with home insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
Although you may believe you possess the skills and expertise to quickly discover your dream residence, it never hurts to get extra help. And if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive assistance as you work diligently to acquire a house that suits you perfectly.
A real estate agent is committed to a buyer's success, and as such, will do whatever it takes to help a buyer accomplish the best-possible results. Therefore, if a buyer wants to purchase a house near a beach, a real estate agent can keep this individual up to date as new beachfront residences become available. On the other hand, if a buyer is operating on a tight budget, a real estate agent will help this individual find a wonderful house that falls within his or her price range.
As you get set to conduct an in-depth home search, it generally helps to prepare for the homebuying journey. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can take an aggressive approach to accelerate your home search and boost the likelihood of acquiring a house that you can enjoy for years to come.
2 Macdonald Lane, Framingham, MA 01702
A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a specialty corporate entity that owns and operates real estate to generate a profit. Several types exist. An Equity REIT typically generates income by leasing and managing income-producing property. The type of property makes no difference -- commercial, multi-family residential, retail, office, industrial, or a mix of specialty developments, including medical facilities and retirement communities.
Shares are sold to individual investors, who then receive a steady income based on operating earnings. According to some estimates, at least 225 publicly-traded REITs exist in the United States, all traded on a national securities exchange and regulated by the SEC. Public, non-traded REITs also exist, and are SEC-regulated. Private real estate investment trusts are not registered and not publicly-traded, offered instead only to a select group of investors. Picking the right type for individual investment goals can involve extensive homework.
Internal Revenue Service regulations are strictly applied. They stipulate that an REIT must be a taxable corporation, and derive at least 75% of its income from real estate sales, rents or mortgage interest. The corporation must then return at least 90% of taxable income to shareholders on an annual basis. There are additional requirements, in addition to holding at least 75% of assets in real estate, U.S. Treasury bonds or cash.
An REIT can provide important liquidity to an investment portfolio, with a typically steady annual income stream, although there may be little capital appreciation. The yield from different types of REIT can vary substantially. Equity REITs own and manage real property, while Mortgage REITs deal in financing products and mortgage-backed securities; both can be affected by the market, interest rates, the economy and consumer confidence. In addition, dividends paid to investors are treated as regular income by the IRS.
As with any form of investing, it's important to investigate the pros and cons, not only of REITs in a general sense, but the performance over time of a specific investment trust. On the plus side are the ability to diversify an investment portfolio, and the relatively secure potential of a steady return and low risk in tandem with the transparency that comes from regulatory oversight.
On the minus side are the low potential for actual growth in value, the REIT's reinvestment and expansion potential which is capped at 10% annually, and the unknown effect of real estate market volatility over the term of the investment. High management and transaction fees can also affect the financial return.
Investing in an REIT, however, is a viable way to gain knowledge and establish a presence in real estate, especially in currently hot segments of the market. Especially for a beginner, REIT investment can represent a path to future growth and security, leading to additional real estate options over the long term.
Your credit score is a fundamental component of a mortgage lender’s decision to approve you for a loan. It can also affect the interest rate and loan amount you can secure.
Along with your income history and down payment, a solid credit score is one of the three most important things you’ll need when it comes to buying a home.
Credit scores themselves, however, can be a complicated business. And finding out what score you need to buy a home and how to achieve that score can also be a complex topic.
So, in this post we’re going to break down some credit score basics as they relate to buying a home.
Types of credit scores
You may have heard of the three main credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each of these bureaus keeps a detailed credit history for everyone in America (except for those who have yet to open a line of credit or take out a loan).
Since each credit bureau may have slightly different information available data to draw from, your credit scores from each company may vary.
However, when it comes to buying a home, most lenders use a standard scoring model called a FICO score to ensure that all mortgage applicants are treated fairly when they seek a loan.
Things are further complicated by the fact that there are several different FICO scoring models designed for different types of credit. So, if you’ve seen your FICO score when applying for an auto loan, it may be a different score than you will see when applying for a mortgage.
Build credit; raise your credit score
All of the types of credit scores and scoring models can be confusing. But what you mostly need to worry about is how to boost your score.
Your credit score will be based on five main factors:
Making on-time payments
The percentage of available credit (not maxing out your cards)
Having diverse types of credit (auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.)
Not opening new lines of credit frequently (a red flag that you’re struggling financially)
The length of your credit history, or how long you’ve been consistently paying your bills
What score do you need to buy a home?
There are several different mortgage types available for buyers. First-time homeowners, veterans, people seeking to buy a home in a rural area, and any other number of circumstances can help you qualify for mortgages even if you have a low credit score.
A general rule, however, is that it’s always better to apply for a mortgage with a high credit score to help you secure the best possible interest rate.
Some programs do have minimum credit scores that they will accept for a mortgage. FHA loans are one common example. The Federal Housing Authority guarantees loans for people across the country who are hoping to buy their first home (or who haven’t owned a home in the last three years). Their guarantee is what enables lenders to safely approve mortgages for borrowers with low credit scores. The current requirement for an FHA loan is a credit score of 580 or higher for a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment. You can secure an FHA loan with a lower credit score, but you’ll have to make a larger down payment.
There are several other options available for hopeful homeowners when it comes to mortgages. But, if you aren’t planning on moving in the next few months and your credit score could use some work, now is the time to start focusing on building credit.