5 Groundcover Plants That Won’t Take Over Your Life

If you’re searching to replace your lawn or simply fill in an empty space in your garden, there are many groundcover plants you can choose from. Some produce flowers while others have attractive foliage, but regardless of expressions you can benefit from planting something in the space to keep out opportunistic weeds. However, it’s important to consider how much time and effort you’re willing to spend on a groundcover plant, especially if you’re going to have a large area. Here we’ve put together a guide to some of the best low-maintenance groundcover plants for your landscaping project.

Angelina Sedum

Sedum is a genus of succulent plants often called stonecrops. Angelina sedum in particular makes excellent groundcover because the flowers will spread efficiently to cover a large area, but won’t grow out of control. The foliage and flowers are golden yellow and easy to propagate by rooting. The only real maintenance required for this plant is to chop the longest stems to prevent self-rooting if you’re worried about it spreading beyond its designated area.

Nepeta

Nepeta is a plant in the catmint family with purple flowers that can bloom all summer long with practically no human intervention. Some nepeta varieties are natural spreaders and can quickly take over a large area of your landscape. Others are more bushy and take up space with their volume rather than covering the ground. Either way, nepeta is excellent for keeping the weeds out of your garden and is happy with only occasional watering in the growing season.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme stays very low to the ground—only 3 inches tall—and will spread naturally over an area with deep pink flowers and fragrant leaves. While related to the variety of thyme used in cooking, it is not edible. However, the flowers are great for attracting bees, butterflies to your yard. Creeping thyme does best in areas with full sun and well-draining soil.

Periwinkle

Periwinkle is such an efficient and aggressive spreader that many gardeners consider it a nuisance. However, its resilience and charming purple flowers make it an excellent choice of ground cover that does not require a lot of maintenance. The leaves are dark green and glossy and grow on vines that spread at ground level. This plant loves the shade, so if you have space with little sunlight during the day periwinkle may be a perfect fit.

Rockrose

Rockrose is an evergreen shrub with hardy, colorful flowers. This tough plant is common in coastal regions as it can stand up to strong winds and salt spray without care. When grown as groundcover, all you need is a few shrubs to start with and you’ll have an area full of established roots and bright green foliage. It’s best to water them regularly after planting them but once they’ve lasted one season, they can thrive with no ongoing maintenance.

As for any type of plant, it’s crucial to research what will grow best in your particular climate. You also need to consider the specific landscape you’re working with and whether there is a significant amount of shade, full sun or combination. Regardless, you’ll find there are plenty of options for ground cover that will keep out the weeds and look attractive with only the most basic of care.

Tips For Buying A Home In The Spring

Spring is a time of change. Everything feels new and exciting. It’s a great time to start searching for a new home. Before you head out on the house hunt, you should take the time to review what you can expect if you’re heading out on the house hunt this spring.

There May Be Less Inventory

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may be in a tight spot. As inventory is low over the entire market, there are less lower end homes put up for sale in the spring. Prices are rising as well so people who may have been in the market for more expensive homes may have recently seen their number of choices drop. It may take some extra time and effort for first-time homebuyers to find a property. 

Homes That Are On The Market Sell Fast

The springtime brings a bit more competition from buyers. Although there’s low inventory, the spring brings out more buyers which means more competition. If you find a home you love, don’t wait. Houses that are in excellent condition sell within days of being on the market this time of year. You may even need to pay a bit above asking price in order to secure a home you fall in love with. Being flexible in your contingencies and closing dates can help you to entice sellers a bit more when you put an offer in on a property. 

Keep The State Of The Financial World In Mind

Interest rates may rise by the time spring rolls around. You really never know. If you see a reasonable mortgage rate and can get pre-approved, lock it in. It can help you to balance out your finances when you’re purchasing a home. Keep in mind that higher rates may actually decrease your home buying power altogether. Do your research and talk to a lender to get the best rates especially when you’re buying a home in the spring.

Overlook Some Things

If you’re heading out to buy your first home in the spring, you may have along list of things that you’re looking for in a home. Try and be as flexible as you can with that list. If you’re serious about buying a home, you may have to look at properties with their potential in mind rather than their face value. 

Make Sure You’re Preapproved

Getting a preapproval is very important when you’re heading out to buy a home in the spring. This step can give you a leg up on the competition once you put an offer in. Having this piece of the puzzle during your home search can help you to get a home you love. 

Should You Move to an HOA Community?

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People have different notions about living in an HOA community. As much as there is a bright side to living in such an environment, you also need to consider the potential disadvantages. Some HOAs have an organized and well-maintained neighborhood, while others may have lackluster management and community issues. Before you make your decision to move to an HOA community, understand the pros and cons of living in that environment. 

What is an HOA?

An HOA (homeowners association) is an organization that oversees maintenance and enforcing rules within a group of homes. HOAs are quite common in planned condominium complexes and townhouses, but they also are found in planned communities of single-family houses. The HOA is made up of the owners who reside within or own property in that community. 

Advantages of Living in an HOA Community

Typically, the association has jurisdiction over and maintains all common areas. These include pools, clubhouses, playgrounds, park areas, and all the adjoining landscaping. In many HOAs the association also maintains landscaping in the front of the home while the owner maintains their private backyard area. Some advantages

  • You Don’t Have to Mow the Lawn: For people who do not enjoy the tedious job of maintaining their landscape – you are in luck. The HOA community takes full responsibility for maintaining the landscape within the shared areas. You might be allowed to personalize your backyard or patio – but typically, the HOA covers all other maintenance, including pest control and tree pruning. 

  • You Pay Monthly Fees That Include Utilities: In most HOA communities, homeowners are expected to make a monthly payment that covers all their expenses for that month. For some people having a defined estimate every month that covers utilities and other housing expenses makes it easy for them to have a financial plan. 

  • You Have Access to Amenities: Living in an HOA environment gives you access to various recreational amenities like golf, table tennis, swimming pool, a gym, and clubhouse. You do not have to worry about cleaning or management as your association does all of these from your monthly funds. 

Disadvantages of HOA Community Living

Just as there are advantages to living within an association, a homebuyer needs to be prepared for challenges that come with areas in common.

  • Fees: The fees charged by most HOA communities factor in expenses like maintenance of recreational facilities and cleaning of the shared spaces. Be sure you can make these monthly payments before moving to an HOA community. 

  • No Personal Touch to Your Home Exterior: Most HOA communities restrict homeowners from adding unique touches to the outside of their homes. If you like a brightly colored front door or interesting yard decorations, an HOA community may not be the right environment for you. 

  • Poorly Managed Community: Not all HOA communities operate smoothly. There can be various challenges within the system. When you find a community you’re interested in, speak to established owners. Ask how their particular HOA functions to get a better idea of what to expect as an incoming resident.

  • Less privacy: Most homeowners living in HOA homes share walls or buildings with other homeowners. If you love privacy, this might be challenging for you. 

  • You live by the rules: There are always rules to adhere to when living in an HOA community. Be sure this idea works for you as most regulations are non-negotiable.

Depending on your lifestyle and what you want in a home an HOA community might be perfect for you. Carefully consider the pros and cons of living in such a community before committing. Ask your realtor about the HOAs in your area to better target your property search.

Enhance Your Florida Luxury Home’s Curb Appeal

If you want to maximize the value of your Florida luxury house, you should explore ways to bolster your residence’s curb appeal. Because if your Sunshine State luxury residence stands out to buyers, you may be able to accelerate the home selling process.

Ultimately, there are many ways to improve your Florida luxury home’s curb appeal, and these include:

1. Take Care of Your Lawn

Lawn care may make or break your luxury house’s curb appeal, regardless of whether your residence is located in Coral Gables, Tampa Bay or elsewhere in Florida. Luckily, transforming an ordinary lawn into an extraordinary one can be simple.

Mowing the lawn regularly can make a world of difference for any Florida luxury home seller. If you maintain a pristine lawn, your luxury home may be better equipped than others to make a positive first impression on potential buyers.

Of course, if you need help with lawn care, there is no shortage of landscaping companies available. Professional landscapers in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and other Florida cities and towns will make it easy for you to take care of your lawn until your luxury residence sells.

2. Add a Garden

Although Florida may be best known for its palm trees, you can always plant a garden to enhance your luxury house’s curb appeal. In fact, a garden may help you differentiate your luxury residence from the competition.

When it comes to planting a garden, there are many options at your disposal. Various bulbs, rhizomes and tubers can be grown in Florida, and any of these plants may help you boost your luxury house’s curb appeal.

3. Fix Damaged Siding

Damaged siding is an eyesore that Florida luxury home sellers need to eliminate. Fortunately, you likely won’t need to invest significant time and resources to repair or replace damaged siding.

In many instances, you may be able to fix damaged siding on your own. Or, if you want expert assistance, you can always reach out to professional contractors for support.

There’s a lot that you can do to upgrade your Sunshine State luxury house’s curb appeal. And if you want to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure a seamless home selling experience, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well.

A real estate agent who possesses Florida luxury housing market experience is a must-hire. This housing market professional can teach you what it takes to sell a Florida luxury house in any city or town. Thus, if you need to sell your Miami luxury residence as quickly as possible, a real estate agent can help you achieve the optimal results. On the other hand, if you are committed to getting the best price for your Lake Worth luxury residence, a real estate agent can help you determine the best course of action to accomplish this goal.

Ready to add your Florida luxury house to the real estate market? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can increase your residence’s curb appeal in no time at all.

4 Simple Ways to Save on Your Dream Home

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Building a new home is more affordable than many people realize, and it’s sometimes even cheaper to build new than to buy previously owned. Some tactics can make what’s already an affordable home solution even more affordable.

If you’re looking to build but are on a budget, here are four ways to save money on new home construction.

1. Build Smaller

Building smaller provides obvious cost-saving measures, as fewer materials and less time are needed to construct the house. You’ll also likely save on future property taxes if you build a smaller home, since property assessments often factor in a home’s size.

While building smaller leaves you with less square footage, the amount of useable space that’s sacrificed can often be kept minimal. A small home that’s well-designed for your family’s lifestyle and needs can actually provide more useable space than a larger home that’s not as thoughtfully laid out. A practical floor plan and custom built-in features can maximize a small home’s space.

2. Forgo the Upgrades

Custom-built homes come with many optional upgrades, and you’ll undoubtedly want some of them. Only get those upgrades that you truly need and fall within your budget. Any you don’t have the funds for when building can be delayed until a future date.

Remember, upgrades are not mandatory. If you find yourself questioning which ones would be right for you, don’t add any for the time being. Spending some time in your home as-is gives you time to experience the house and then decide what upgrades would be most beneficial for you.

3. Finalize Everything Up Front

Before breaking ground, check and confirm all of your chosen options. You should be entirely confident in the decisions, because changing them once construction starts usually increases costs. You’ll save money overall if you take the time necessary to make all of your chosen decisions prior to actually starting work on the job site.

4. Ask About Finishing Certain Aspects

Many aspects of new home construction require skill and expertise, and your home builder’s team should complete all such parts of the building process. Toward the end of construction, however, there are some finishing touches that aren’t as specialized. You may be able to save money on construction costs if you complete some of these final items yourself.

Talk with your home builder about what you might be able to do on your own and ask them how much you could save by doing the work yourself. Whether this is permitted varies from builder to builder, but it can help when builders allow. Landscaping, interior painting and appliance installations are all good items to consider, depending on your skill set, available time and personal interest. A builder may know of other finishing items you can do, too.

A quick guide to house sale preparation

person cleaning kitchen floor

For a house sale, preparation is paramount. Even with an outstanding real estate agent and professional photos,
buyers will base an enormous amount of their decision on visiting your home. To help you get ready for your home
sale, here are the most important things to focus on:

Set the stage—make it feel like home

It’s important to make a good impression and attract the buyer’s interest. The best way to start is with a deep clean
of the entire home. Once everything is spotless, consider hiring a professional stager to help you get ready for the
market.

The key to staging a home is to make it possible for the buyer to imagine themselves living in your space. This means
it’s best to use neutral colors and simple furnishings that show off the features of the house without distraction.
It’s also important to put away personal items like family photos or hobby collections.

Focus on the front yard

Curb appeal can have a significant impact on people’s perceptions about your house. Take care not only to remove any
stains from your front door, but also to clean up chipped paint or apply a fresh coat. Use a pressure washer to
clean the siding, sidewalk and driveway to make them seem brand new again.

Emphasize whatever outdoor living space you have, even if it’s just a tiny porch. Consider replacing outdoor light
fixtures and adding simple patio furniture to create a clean and comfortable atmosphere.

Identify repairs & make a plan

Whether it’s a door squeaking or the toilet running, there are a plethora of small problems around the house you
might have learned to ignore. Now is the time to address those issues before they turn off any potential buyers.

Replace burned out lightbulbs, fix that leaky faucet, and tackle any other nagging task on your home improvement
to-do list. If you have significant repairs to make, budget carefully, so you don’t waste more money than you hope
to get back on the sale. Some problems may deter a potential buyer, so the more prepared you are to address them the
better.

With the right preparation, you can not only sell your home faster, but for a higher price. Do what you can to
impress buyers who visit your home, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Buying Investment Property: How to Make Quick ROIs

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Buying property is a long-term investment. If you’re looking to make quick income from property, the only way is to buy low and sell high with minimal input for remodeling, upgrades, or even paint. However, if you intend to keep your property as a rental here are a few of the basics to make it profitable sooner.

Show Me the Numbers

Say you buy a house for $300,000. To get a loan for an investment property you’ll need a minimum of 20% down; so in our scenario, that’s $60,000. Closing costs depend on so many things that even an estimate is difficult, but rule of thumb is three to four percent of the purchase prices. Go with an even $10,000 to keep the numbers easy. You’re out-of-pocket $70,000 by this point.

The mortgage is for the remaining $240,000, so a 30-year fixed rate at 4.5 percent makes your principal and interest payments about $1,200 per month. Add to that property taxes of about $6,000 per year, or $500 per month, and homeowner’s insurance for about $150 gives you a monthly payment of $1,850. If you have an HOA, that might be an additional $50 per month. That’s $1900 for the basics, every month.

These numbers do not factor in upgrades, changes, paint, flooring, appliances or anything else, so remember that those items eat away at your profit too.Say that you rent it for $2,500 per month. That gives you a $600 difference. From that amount comes management fees if you pay someone to manage it for you. It also pays for lawn care unless you turn that over to the renter. Plus, for every month it goes unrented between renters, you carry the entire amount. 

Positive Cash Flow

You decide to manage it yourself and have the tenant take care of the lawn. Presuming no major systems require repair during the first year and you rent it within a month, you receive $27,500 ($2,500 x 11) in rent. You pay out $22,800 ($1,900 x 12) leaving you with $4,700 positive cash flow.

Assuming you never have to spend anything on repairs, maintenance, increases in taxes or refurbishing between tenants, it will take you 12 years and nine months to make back your down payment. Of course, if you raise the rent every year or so, you’ll shorten the time to repay the down payment, but you may lose more tenants.

Is It Worth It?

Yes! After year 12, your profits increase. But only if you follow these guidelines:

  • Do buy in a nice, livable area where people want to rent.
  • Don’t overspend for the property.
  • Avoid frivolous upgrades with low R.O.I.
  • Vet your tenants.
  • Remove tenants that damage property or don’t pay rent.Use a property management and marketing service to reduce unrented months.
  • Know the property owner and tenant laws in your municipality. 

Some properties are more profitable than others or are profitable sooner. Your investment real estate professional knows the difference and can help you choose the right property for your investment situation. If you want to invest in real estate, let your professional agent guide you.

Is a Home Warranty Right for You?

Many homebuyers have the choice of whether to purchase a home warranty with the home itself. While not required, it can be a helpful way to ensure that your new home is well cared for. It can also have some downsides and may not be right for everyone. Here we’ll go over the basics of home warranties to help you understand whether it’s something you should consider.

How Do Home Warranties Work?

A home warranty differs from home insurance. Home insurance offers financial protection in the case of unexpected damage from major issues like fires or storms. Home warranties protect and pay for the appliances in your home. You pay for your home warranty similarly to paying for insurance: an annual premium priced based on the size of your home. If an appliance breaks, you pay a deductible and the warranty provider will send somebody to help with maintenance or replace the appliance entirely. The deductible amount varies depending on the warranty terms, so it’s something you should look into carefully when considering your options.

Why Get a Home Warranty?

Home warranties offer major peace of mind. With a home warranty, you know that if an important appliance breaks that you have access to a professional who can fix it. This can provide you the extra support you need if you’re not very handy or are a brand new homeowner. A home warranty also allows you to budget more accurately by avoiding unexpected repair costs. You’ll always know the regular premium cost and any deductibles for repairs ahead of time.

The pricing on home warranties varies from one company to the next, but has low upfront costs. Even with the deductible, they can help you save hundreds of dollars on major repairs or even replacements. You’ll have professional backup in the event of catastrophic plumbing or electrical failure which are often impossible and unsafe to DIY repair.

Why Not Get a Home Warranty?

The main issue with home warranties is that not everything is covered. It’s crucial to read the specific terms of the warranty and note which appliances it does not include in the coverage. This can help you weigh your options and determine whether it’s worth it for your situation. A problem many homeowners run into with home warranties is that even with a covered appliance, it can become ineligible for coverage if not properly maintained. Unfortunately, “properly maintained” is different for every provider and can cause conflicts and confusion. It also might not cover you if a previous owner neglected basic maintenance on an appliance before you moved in, leaving you paying full price for somebody else’s mistake.

Home warranties are definitely worth it for some buyers and superfluous for others. They can provide some added comfort in knowing you have resources available for emergency maintenance when something breaks, but it won’t cover everything in your home. It’s important to research different warranty offerings carefully before deciding. This way you’ll know what risks and benefits to expect.

How to Invest in Your Own Home

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Investing in real estate doesn’t require buying new property. If you already own a home, improving it is one of the best long-term investments you can make. You can increase your home’s value and make life more comfortable for yourself at the same time.

Here are some of the best ways to invest in your own home:

Replace Old Flooring

Real or engineered hardwood flooring might seem costly up front, but it’s an excellent way to add value to your house. This counts especially if you are also removing carpet in the same step. Hardwood floors are durable, versatile and timeless and there are a variety of stains and finishes available to increase their longevity and keep them looking their best. Both real wood and engineered wood floors can go decades without maintenance, which saves you money in the long-term and adds a highly sought-after feature for potential homebuyers in the future.

Refresh Your Bathrooms

For bathroom remodels, a little can go a long way. Even just a fresh coat of paint or new light fixtures can make an enormous difference in the aesthetic and overall feel of a bathroom. For a bigger investment, replace dated fixtures and flooring. You can save money on utilities and help the environment by adding efficient features like low-flow toilets. If you’re handy, you can DIY most bathroom projects. You can invest your time and effort into making the upgrades yourself rather than paying a contractor.

Finish Your Unfinished Spaces

If you have an unfinished attic or basement, now might be the time to finish it. The great news is that you don’t have to decorate these spaces fully for the project to be an excellent investment. Adding insulation, flooring and finished drywall can be enough to make the space useful and therefore valuable. One thing to keep in mind with finishing basements and attic spaces is local building code requirements. There may be certain steps to take in order to count the square footage of the space as “livable” in a home appraisal or sale, so it’s a good idea to consult an expert to make sure you’re investing the right way.

Update Your Plumbing

New plumbing is always a good investment. Like electricity, the quality of your plumbing affects quality of life in almost every part of the house. Old pipes are prone to corrosion, which over time can affect drainage or even cause more serious issues like leaks. You can increase energy efficiency and home value if you opt to replace old pipes with new ones that are better insulated. While some plumbing projects are doable from a DIY standpoint, if you’re doing a full-home upgrade of the entire system, hire a professional to help. You want to make sure that everything is installed perfectly to make the most out of a potentially pricey upgrade.

These are just a few ways to invest in your home, but don’t forget that any minor changes add up. Start small if you don’t feel ready to take on an extensive project. You’ll be investing both time and money and see the benefits both in quality of life and in eventual home resale value.

Benefits of Using Virtual Interior Design

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Interior design changes allow you to give your entire home or certain parts of your home a makeover. However, knowing which kinds of changes to make or which styles to use can seem overwhelming. You might also have a hard time picturing how distinct design elements would look in your home. Virtual interior design tools can make it much easier for you to figure out what changes you want to make to your home. Consider the following advantages to using virtual interior design for your home.

Save Time and Trouble

When you’re browsing through furniture options and other items, it’s not always easy to tell how they’ll actually look in your home. You might order a sofa or love seat that doesn’t match the rest of your decor or just doesn’t look right in your home, for example. With virtual interior design tools, you can see how certain items look in your house before purchasing them. This can help you avoid having to take the time to return items that don’t fit your interior design style.

Try Different Styles

If you don’t have style preferences, you might not know what you should go with. Using virtual design tools allows you play around with a variety of different interior design styles. This can help you discover which style or styles you prefer. If you’re having trouble choosing between a couple of different styles you like, virtual interior design tools can let you experiment with them to determine which one suits your home better. Once you know which style you prefer, you can get started on choosing paint colors, furniture and other items to make your interior design changes.

Work with What You Have

Some virtual interior design tools let you see how unique design elements might look in your home alongside your current furniture or other items. You might be able to upload photos and add design elements to them to see how they would look together. This can make it a lot easier to accurately visualize the interior design changes you’re thinking about doing. Without these virtual tools, you might have to take a chance on bringing new items into your home or painting rooms certain colors without knowing exactly how these design elements will end up looking.

Design Your Home Conveniently

Meeting with interior designers for consultations can take up valuable time. When you use virtual interior design tools, you can figure out the changes you want to make to your home at your own convenience. These tools allow you to work on interior design when it’s convenient for you and from the comfort of your own home. This means you won’t feel pressured to decide on interior design elements due to time constraints or have to arrange consultations that fit your schedule.

Save Money

Using virtual interior design tools could help you save on the cost of redesigning or redecorating your home. Professional designers might charge by the hour, which can add up if you’re unsure about the changes you want or if you’re changing your entire home. Virtual interior design tools let you experiment with different changes on your own, so you can redecorate without these added costs.