Mark Uppendahl's Blog
American homes have been growing larger for decades. This trend is partly due to personal preference for more space, and partly caused by local laws mandating minimum square-footage of all new properties.
Owning and maintaining a home is a huge expense. Especially if you’re heating and maintaining parts of your home that you don’t really need.
As a result, a growing number of people are renting out parts of their home in various ways. From Airbnb to subletting, and all the way up to renting out their basement as a separate apartment, there are a number of ways you can earn money on your home.
The appeal is obvious. However, there are a number of factors you should consider before renting out part of your home. After all, your home is the place you and your family spend your days and nights, and sometimes the idea of having a stranger in your midst can be frightening to some homeowners.
For others, however, welcoming people into their home is a fun way to meet new people, help someone find affordable housing in a place they otherwise wouldn’t, and earn some extra money.
Know your local laws
It should be noted up front that not everyone can just legally rent out a portion of their home. Whether it is due to local laws, building code requirements, or homeowners association rules, there are a number of reasons you might not be able to rent out part of your home.
Before you consider listing a room or portion of your home, read up on the landlord-tenant laws in your area to make sure you’re comfortable with your legal obligations.
Make the necessary preparations
Renting a room in your home isn’t just a matter of giving someone the key to the front door. You’ll have to plan to install deadbolts, remove doorknobs with inside locking mechanisms, make repairs to the room and any amenities the tenant will have access to and document the state of your home.
Make a clear renter’s agreement
Would it make you uncomfortable to have a dog or cat in your home? Does your home have a smoking policy?
There are a number of things you should think about and add to your renter’s agreement and any online listing you post. This will help you narrow down your renter options and give you a better chance of finding someone right for your home.
Finding a tenant
There are a number of ways you can find people to live in your home. Most homeowners list their spare room or apartment online, but it can also be a good idea to reach out to people you know and trust.
Once you have interested parties, you might want to purchase a background check and determine if you’ll require certain documents (proof of income, credit score, etc.).
There’s a reason you have to do so much paperwork when you rent an apartment--the landlord wants to make sure they are covered in case anything goes wrong.
Before signing an agreement with your new renter, make sure it covers all of the “what-if” scenarios that could happen. There are several sample lease agreements online that you can use as a template.
Furthermore, once the tenant moves in, be sure that your discussions and agreements are documented. If the tenant denies you access to perform a check for pests, make sure you have some documentation that shows this denial.
Bonsai is a Japanese artform that originates from the ancient Chinese practice of potting trees. Although it is an art that has existed for centuries, bonsai needn’t be inaccessible to the average person looking for a new household hobby.
To successfully grow and care for a bonsai, all you need are a few tools and a lot of patience. In this article, we’ll cover bonsai basics to help you get started in this craft. Keep in mind, however, that there are thousands of resources and communities to help you out along the way.
To buy or to cultivate?
The two most common ways to start a bonsai tree are to buy a pre-cultivated tree online or at a greenhouse, or to cultivate one yourself with seeds or cuttings. Many beginners elect to buy a pre-cultivated tree to decide if they enjoy the hobby before devoting years to cultivating a tree from seed. If you enjoy caring for plants and think you’re up to the challenge, starting from seed or cuttings could be more rewarding.
A third option is to collect a tree from nature that has been stunted by natural conditions. These types of trees are called yamadori and can be difficult to collect because their roots may be in a precarious location. Also keep in mind that it is illegal to remove plants from some parks and forests.
How to shape your tree
Once you obtain a bonsai your work has only just begun. The real challenge of bonsai is caring for and shaping your tree. That means clipping off growth, repotting, watering, moving it indoors and outdoors, and shaping/training its branches to grow a certain way.
Every tree is different and will require different care. An important thing to remember about bonsai is that many of them will need to be brought outside to mimic their natural conditions. Trees survive winters because they have prepared for it through the process of dormancy. By bringing your tree outdoors, it will keep its internal clock on time to prepare for winter. In this way, cold-climate bonsai trees can handle the harsh temperatures and weather that comes with the winter time.
Aside from subjecting it to different temperatures and weather, your bonsai will also need to be pruned and wired. Pruning thick branches that grow high up on your tree will help you maintain the natural look of its larger counterparts out in nature. Similarly, wiring helps you transform your tiny tree to look fully-grown and weathered.
Just like other plants, your tree will need water, sunlight, and fertilizer. The amount of each will depend on the type of the tree, so you’ll want to do that research before you ever buy, cultivate, or collect a bonsai to make sure you can adequately care for the tree in your area.
Attending a home showing often represents a major milestone in the homebuying journey. But after you take an up-close look at a house, how should you proceed?
There are many questions to consider after you attend a home showing, including:
1. What Did You Think of the Home?
Although it may appear to be love at first sight after you view a property for the first time, it usually is better to err on the side of caution. Thus, after you check out a home, you may want to take at least a few hours to assess the property.
Does the residence fit your budget? Is the property big enough to accommodate your family? And is the residence close to your office? These are just some of the questions that you'll want to consider as you evaluate the pros and cons of a house.
Also, don't forget to consult with your real estate agent. This professional may be able to offer additional insights into a house that you might struggle to obtain elsewhere. By doing so, your real estate agent can help you determine how to proceed with a residence.
2. Should I Submit an Offer?
The decision to submit an offer on a house is a big one, particularly for those who want to purchase a high-quality property at a budget-friendly price.
Ultimately, you'll want to look at various housing market factors before you submit an offer on a residence. Consider how long a residence has been listed as well as the prices of comparable houses in the same city or town. Furthermore, you'll want to consider the property's condition and whether major repairs will be needed in the near future.
Your real estate agent can help you put together a competitive offer on a house that won't exceed your budget. This housing market professional will enable you to examine the pros and cons of a residence and make it easy for you to decide how to move forward after a home showing.
3. What Are My Options?
Homebuyers have many options after they view a house. They may choose to submit an offer on the residence. Or, if a house fails to meet their expectations, homebuyers can continue to explore the real estate market.
No homebuyer should feel backed into a corner after a home showing. Fortunately, your real estate agent will be able to outline all of your options. This real estate professional will simplify the process of finding your dream house and allocate the necessary time and resources to explain all of the options at your disposal.
Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent can answer any concerns or questions at each stage of the homebuying journey. That way, if you're uncertain about a residence that you recently viewed, your real estate agent will be able to respond to your queries without delay.
Take advantage of home showings, and you should have no trouble discovering your ideal residence.
If relocation and house hunting is in the foreseeable future for you and your family, making a list of requirements and preferences will help ensure that you're satisfied with your next home.
Checklists are available from a variety of sources, including real estate agents and The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
While it's nearly impossible to find an affordable property that's a short drive from everywhere and that meets all your requirements, creating a prioritized list will help you clarify your goals and help you get the real estate features that are the most important to you and your family. Having a well organized list of priorities will also make it easier and more practical for your real estate agent to locate properties for sale that are aligned with your needs and preferences.
While the ideal home should be comfortably close to jobs, schools, childcare, and supermarkets, there are other conveniences and necessities that are sometimes overlooked by home buyers. Here are a few additional items to consider:
- Medical and dental offices: Although it's difficult find the ideal house that also happens to be located just a short drive from all your family's medical and dental care providers, it's a goal worth considering when evaluating different properties. Being close to a preferred hospital can also be a desirable feature -- especially if you expect to be looking for top-quality maternity care in the near future.
- Houses of worship: If you and your family attend religious services several times a month, it would definitely make life easier to live a short distance from your favorite church, synagogue, or mosque.
- Automotive services: When you need an oil change, state inspection, AC maintenance, or car repair, it's much more convenient to have it taken care of close to home.
- Transportation: Whether this item ranks high or low on your priority list depends on how often you plan on traveling for work, business, vacations, college, or family visits. For some people, proximity to airports, train stations, bus depots, and major highways can be a major benefit.
- Recreational facilities: For families with active lifestyles, being close to tennis courts, golf courses, fitness clubs, playgrounds, walking trails, and other recreation facilities would be considered a big "plus". For others... not so much.
- Entertainment: Again, it depends on individual lifestyles, but some people enjoy going to the movies, restaurants, concerts, and the theater on a regular basis.
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