5 Ways to Save on Home Renovation Costs So You Don’t Go Broke

Is your kitchen hopelessly outdated, Home-remodeling-–-how-to-obtain-financingand your bathroom a blast from the past? Then it sounds like you’re overdue for some home improvements. There’s just one problem: Remodeling can be a huge undertaking—and a costly one at that. The average kitchen remodel will set you back $60,000; a bathroom overhaul, $17,908. Ouch! But hey, that’s just the average price homeowners pay. Plenty of home renovations can fall way under that wire if you know some tricks to keep your home improvement budget in check. Check out these smart ways to save on home renovation costs to achieve the home of your dreams without blowing wads of cash.

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How to Buy a Home With No Money Down (You Really Can!)

Drumming up money for a down paymentbroken-piggy-bank-628x354 on a home can feel like a lost cause: After you’ve shelled out money for rent, gas, groceries, and other expenses, you might have little or nothing left over. Which may have you fantasizing: Is there some secret out there, somewhere, that could show you how to buy a home with no money down?

Believe it or not, it’s not just a pipe dream.

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7 Cheap Landscaping Ideas That’ll Rake in Cash Later

A home with a gorgeous yard isn’t landscapingjust easy on the eyes: Well-landscaped homes also sell for 5.5% to 12.7% more, according to research at Virginia Tech. Only problem is, professional landscaping costs an average of $3,219, according to HomeAdvisor.com. But pros aren’t the only way to go. Here’s proof: seven cheap landscaping ideas that provide all the lush greenery you need without your gushing greenbacks.

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4 Sneaky Ways Ikea Tricks You Into Buying Tons of Stuff You Don’t Want or Need

If you’ve ever shopped at Ikea, IKEA_shopping_carts_in_Ottawa_Canadayou probably went in thinking you need a lamp, but you came out the other end with two lamps, a side table, a love seat, and a stomach full of Swedish meatballs. This chain (with 41 massive stores in the U.S.) can tempt even the most tight-fisted among us to spew cash. Why is that?

Well, it turns out Ikea has some sneaky tactics to lure shoppers into opening their wallets. And the good news is, you can rein in your spending at Ikea just by knowing what you’re up against. To make sure you don’t end up with a lot of regrettable purchases, get hip to some of Ikea’s more illusive sales ploys below. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

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7 Annoying Things That Sum Up My Relationship With Amazon Echo’s Alexa

As a real estate agent, my job is to amazon-echo-alexa-white-628x354know what’s trending in smart home technology—that strange, ever-evolving realm of products and mobile apps that are designed to boost your home’s IQ. I’ve seen firsthand how young home buyers gawk at cool techie features like video doorbells and smartphone-controlled, auto-adjusting thermostats. Even small touches, like a keyless entry for the front door, can make a home stand out in the minds of prospective buyers.

So, imagine my excitement when I treated myself to the hottest smart home product to date: the Amazon Echo. For the rare few who haven’t encountered one yet, the Echo ($140) is a sleek, hands-free speaker that listens to you and carries out your instructions to do … whatever. Play music. Make restaurant reservations. Add items to your Amazon shopping cart. Google whether or not Abe Vigoda is finally dead (he is, RIP). This smart home hub converses with you via the Echo’s best feature: Alexa, a Siri-like, voice-activated virtual assistant who’s at your beck and call.

Alexa responds to a huge list of commands. To name a few: “Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride,” “Alexa, find me a nearby pizza restaurant,” and—my personal favorite—“Alexa, tell me a joke.” Bad puns are her specialty. (A recent gag: “What did the dog say after a long day of work? Today was ruff.” Har!)

Since my purchase a few months ago, Alexa and I have been inseparable. But no relationship is perfect. Alexa has her flaws, and boy are they annoying.

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How to Sail Through the Home-Closing Process Without a Hitch

Few steps in the home-buying process are mortgage-closing-process-4as stressful as the closing. While some jurisdictions refer to closing as “settlement” or “escrow,” it’s essentially the same wherever you go: that pivotal moment when all parties meet to transfer ownership of a home from seller to buyer, and all the money required to make that happen changes hands.

And if you got a mortgage, your lender will no doubt be involved, too. So what can go wrong that could stall this process? A whole lot, if you aren’t prepared!

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How to Shop for a Mortgage

Ready to go shopping … for a mortgage? how-to-shop-for-a-mortgage-628x354We know: It’s not exactly the kind of fun holiday shopping you had in mind. Still, your ability to sniff out a great mortgage is crucial to your financial well-being as a future homeowner, because the decision you make could stick with you for a very long time, maybe even 30 years. Gulp.

No pressure, right? All we’re trying to say is, it pays to learn how to best compare your options—which is where this latest installment in our Stress-Free Guide to Getting a Mortgage will come in handy. Like your most trusted shopping buddy, our guide will show you how to hone your bargain hunting skills and get the most for your money.

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