8 Creative Tips on Saving for a Down Payment

26 Dec 2014 · by Virtual Results PubSub

8 Creative Tips on Saving for a Down PaymentYou’re finally ready to think about buying a Loft, but you doubt your ability to save up the necessary down payment. Twenty percent of even a modest loft can seem out of reach for first-time loft buyers. Here are some creative tips for eking out some extra to boost your savings:

Find alternatives

Nearly all discretionary funds (the money left in your budget to spend on entertainment, eating out, and other frills) can be redirected. For example:

  • Ditch the cable or satellite: If you pay $50 for cable, you can switch to Amazon Prime or Netflix and have an extra $30 to put into your down payment savings account.
  • Revise gym membership: If you pay for monthly gym membership, you can find an extra $35 to $55 per month by switching to a lower-priced gym or working out in a local park or recreation center instead.
  • Check out the local library: Most libraries offer more than books. They have DVDs, audio books and magazines. You can access Wi-Fi, free classes and even tutoring, book clubs or game nights.
  • Socialize at home instead of going out: host a game or movie night and convince your friends to do the same. You’ll all save money and have fun.

When using this method to save for your down payment, it is important to isolate the savings, so continue to pay the full amount for everything, just pay it into your savings account instead.

Monetize hobbies

This is a tricky idea because sometimes hobbies cost you money instead. However, sometimes you can make gifts instead of buy them, or sell what you make for more than it cost you to make it. When this is the case, consider setting up an online store such as Etsy and earmarking the income for your savings account.

Make a game of it

A way to create the discipline of saving is to make a game of it.

  • Indulgence Matching: One idea is to set up a matching game where whatever you spend on non-essentials (that latte at your favorite coffee shop or wine, beer or cigarettes) requires you to put an equal amount into savings. So if you can’t afford to pay eight dollars for your non-fat half soy espresso drink ($4 for the drink and $4 for savings), you’ll have to find a less costly alternative to enjoy.
  • Savings Challenge: Compete against a spouse, partner or friend to see who can save the most money in a specific timeframe (one month, six months, etc.). Create a savings metric (actual dollar amount, percentage of income, etc.) you can each achieve with disciplined effort. Make the prize be another savings for the winner such as the loser hand-washes the winner’s car.

Side jobs

Consider adding a side job, or doing chores for elderly neighbors and family members. Let them in on your purpose so they can tell their friends that you’re available to rake leaves, wash windows or help with the deep cleaning. If you don’t know anyone that needs help, sign up with TaskRabbit to get connected with people that do.

Coin jar

This is a simple way to add $500 or more a year to your savings. First, you have to choose to use cash for casual spending (coffee, fast food, beer runs, parking). Then, take the change and put it in a jar, only spending the paper money. To keep yourself from dipping into the jar, consider putting a slit in the lid and then gluing the lid onto the jar. You’ll have to break the jar to get the money.

Increase savings by investing

As the money in your savings account grows, transfer it to a secure short-term savings account like a CD or money market account. Even an online savings account will earn more than your big-bank savings account.


Let family members know that you’re saving up to buy a home. That way, they’ll know to gift you with either money or something to increase your savings (restaurant certificates so you can save on eating out, gas cards, etc.).

eBay or Craigslist

Most of us have stuff lying around that we don’t use, don’t need and could sell to someone that wants it. While you may wince at selling that original flat screen TV you bought new for pennies on the dollar, letting it collect dust while you watch Netflix on your larger on is just a waste of money. Take those pennies and add them to your savings.

Stay in touch

When you know you’re nearing your savings goals, stay in touch with your real estate professional. We know when a listing drops in price or the seller is offering incentives that can stretch your savings into the amount you need.


Is Painting Cabinets a Good Idea?

23 Dec 2014 · by Virtual Results PubSub

Is Painting Cabinets a Good Idea?Gone are the days of the sticky painted kitchen cabinet that peels, chips and generally looks cheap. Modern paint finishes means you can rejuvenate or renovate your dated kitchen or bath cabinets with just some elbow grease and your own creativity.

Know your product

Like any paint job, painting cabinets is not hard, but it does require some prep work to get the perfectly finished outcome you want.

Before putting brush to wood, there are some steps you just can’t skip:

  • Cleaning: the most important step in your renovation project, cleaning is the one newbies try to skip most often. Your cabinets have years of fingerprints, cooking grease, grime, smoke and other surface contaminants that can keep your paint from adhering. Your local hardware or paint store can direct you to the best cleaners and degreasers to remove that surface gunk from your cabinets. Very old cabinets, or those exposed to tobacco smoke, may need to be cleaned more than once.
  • Sanding: Another step newcomers are prone to skip is proper sanding. Sanding is the hardest step because you need to break the surface of the existing finish. If your surface has nooks and crannies, you’ll want to get in there with some 100-grit sandpaper.
  • Primer: Priming your cabinet doors can make the difference between a classy new renovation and a slapdash cover-up. To make your surface smooth, you need a so-called “high build” sandable primer. One primer, the Eurolux Primer/Undercoat from Fine Paints of Europe can give your doors and drawer-fronts that smooth, glassy look you want. The primer fills the wood grain, so you may need a coat or two for deeply grained woods such as oak.
  • Paint: The best outcomes for kitchen cabinets come from oil-based paints because they are self-leveling. When your cupboard doors are flat on your sawhorses, an oil-based paint will fill in any ridges or imperfections to leave a smooth finish. Unfortunately, oil-based paints can be messy to work with and have toxic fumes. But, while latex paints may not be perfect, they are getting closer. These days you can find 100% acrylic paints that will create a durable finish, so check with your paint specialist to find the right one for you.
  • Specialty Products: The popularity of DIY products has taken some of the extra steps out of the cabinet refinishing process. Although more expensive than the paint and primer method, Rust-Oleum makes a Cabinet Transformation kit that gives you all the products you need to get that smooth finish. They claim it is easy to use, does not require special skills and lets you skip the stripping, sanding and priming steps (but you still have to clean first).

When renovating your kitchen on a shoestring, you can get impressive results if you take your time, use the right products, and follow instructions closely. When done correctly, freshly painted kitchen cabinets can boost your loft’s value and up its appeal to loftbuyers.


New Gadgets for Your Wish List

12 Dec 2014 · by Virtual Results PubSub

New Gadgets for Your Wish ListAs you think about gift-giving this season, don’t forget to give your new home a gift of its own. Advancements in technology mean that your loft can be smarter, cleaner, cooler or the hottest thing on the market. Here are some ideas for you that are available now or may be coming on the market in the future. Get them on your wish list early.

Here are some ideas for you.

  • Floor plan light switch: This ingenious little device allows you to control the lighting for your entire loft from a single switch. The floor plan light switch designed by TaeWon Hwang for Yanko Design creates a floor plan of your loft on a single panel, allowing you to choose from one location which rooms to light up and which to leave in the dark.
  • Transparent television: Have you ever wished that the television didn’t dominate the décor? Well, now you can have a television that doesn’t upstage the loft. Designed by Michael Friebe for German television maker Loewe, and using technology that combines LCD and TOLED displays, the Invisio television is virtually clear when not in use, but offers full color viewing when activated.
  • Solar-powered media player: Named the Eclipse by maker Sony, this attractive gadget may block some of the light from your living room window, but that’s because it’s harnessing all that solar power to operate a wireless, environmentally friendly multi-media player. You can stream music, play podcasts, sync to your smartphone and other Bluetooth devices, all without using electricity.
  • Concerned about security? The iTouchless Bio-Matic Fingerprint Door Lock uses your fingerprint to lock and unlock your deadbolt. This system is perfect for single or multiple users with up to 150 unique fingerprints encoded. As a backup system, you can use a passcode too, and during power failures there are backup keys. These door locks are available now for both right-hand and left-hand doors.
  • If getting in shape is on your list, check out this elliptical-machine office desk: Paring an adjustable-height office desk with a semi-recumbent elliptical trainer, you can exercise and pay bills at the same time in your home office. The desk adjusts from 27″ to 47″ just by pressing a button, so you can switch from the trainer to your favorite office chair with ease. Average users could burn up to 4000 calories during the workweek and not skip a beat.
  • Want music to sing to in the shower? Check out the Kohler Moxie showerhead with wireless speaker. It can stream your playlists, news and other audios into your shower via Bluetooth. The water-resistant speaker is easily removable from the showerhead for recharging.

Need a house to be home to your tech gadgets?

We can help you find a loft that is perfect for your level of techy-ness. Give us a call and we’ll help you find a loft for the New Year.


Agent Panel next week

5 Dec 2014 · by ChrisSampaio

I will be participating in an Agent Panel next week with two other brokers speaking about The Real Estate to a crowd of fellow agents. If any agents out there would like to attend, here is the flyer below. It should be interesting.


Moving During Holiday Season

2 Dec 2014 · by Virtual Results PubSub

Moving During Holiday SeasonWhether Thanksgiving weekend or the full week between Christmas and New Years, the holidays may be the best time, or indeed the only time, you can plan the move to your new Loft. Here are some tips to make the transition smoother.

Plan ahead

If you have young children, you’ll want to plan a time of holiday celebration, even if it is less elaborate than you normally would.

  • Spending the holidays in a hotel: If you’ll be in a hotel over the holidays during your move, find one that is planning a holiday celebration. You might work with the hotel staff to schedule a special time to “use” the hotel’s Christmas tree to open your gifts.
  • Make sure you know which restaurants are open or deliver on the holidays. Since cooking utensils may already be packed away, don’t assume your new kitchen will be up and running. If you’re moving to a new city, knowing which restaurants will be open may require some searching on the Internet or a few phone calls.
  • Bring along some holiday spirit. Even if you’re foregoing traditional gift-giving during your move, take stockings and a few decorations with you.
  • If you’re planning to celebrate in the new Loft, shop online and have gifts delivered to your new Loft. Arrange with the local postmaster and delivery services to hold your packages until you arrive, or arrange to have them delivered to a relative or the hotel where you are staying.
  • Choose the gift-wrap option during online shopping. The last thing you need is to be looking for tape and scissors in the midst of all your boxes.

Prepare for hidden costs

While some companies charge less to move over the holidays since demand often is lower, others may charge more because paying for movers and drivers on a holiday costs them more. Before choosing your moving company and a holiday moving date, make sure you know what the costs will be when moving over the holidays. Even if the movers are less expensive, some moving costs that could be higher include:

  • Cable/satellite installers may cost more or be unavailable
  • Plumbers and electricians may charge a premium
  • You may not be able to get the lights or heat turned on until after the holiday

Other tips and considerations

If you need to move during the holidays and want to celebrate at the same time, consider leaving one room set up for your celebration while packing up all the other rooms. Alternatively, plan the actual celebration day at a family member’s home or a hotel. Prioritize packing so that non-essentials are packed first, and if space on your truck allows for it use the last-in-first-out rule so that the items you need to celebrate in your new Loft are readily available when the truck gets there. If you’re moving a long distance and are driving, check along the way to see if you can take advantage of special holiday celebrations, concerts or events in any cities you pass through.