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Spend your summer in New Mexico

by The Schnoor Team


There’s always a reason to celebrate in New Mexico.

Lavender, flamenco, river-rafting, Native dancers, 50-foot-tall puppets being lit on fire — these events show off the best of summer in the Land of Enchantment. (And, yes, there will even be pie.)
Lavender in the Village

July 20 - 21
The 13th annual Lavender Festival returns with live music, free yoga classes, a kids camp, wellness seminars, cooking demonstrations, and 70 artisans offering everything from lavender bouquets to lavender paintings, pies, spices, lotions, beer, and wine. A perfect day for lavender lovers of all ages.  Lavender in the Village

Time: 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. 
Where: Agri-Nature Center at Village of Los Ranchos, NM 

Source: "Spend your summer in New Mexico"

Cancel Your Private Mortgage Insurance

by The Schnoor Team

Private mortgage insurance is unavoidable for some homeowners, but don’t pay PMI premiums a day longer than required by your lender.

Private mortgage insurance provides protection to a lender in case you default on your home loan. Unless you make a 20% downpayment on a house, you'll most likely be required to purchase PMI. PMI premiums on a median priced home ($170,600 in 2010) can run between $50 and $100 per month, according to the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America.

PMI might be unavoidable, but it isn't eternal. Knowing exactly when you're entitled to cancel coverage can save you a bundle. If you own a median priced home, you'll pocket between $600 and $1,200 for each year's worth of premiums you can avoid. That extra cash can be used to pay down your principal instead.

When PMI Is Cancelled Automatically

Though often maligned, PMI plays an important role. Many aspiring homeowners, especially first-time buyers, simply can't afford to put down 20% on a house. Without the safeguard offered by PMI, lenders would be reluctant to extend mortgages to low-equity purchasers.

For many borrowers, the coverage is short-lived. The Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, the industry trade group, estimates that 90% of homeowners are done paying PMI premiums, which are tax-deductible for some, within five years.

If you purchased a house since 1999 and are still paying PMI, you probably fall under the Homeowners Protection Act (HPA) of 1998. Your lender is required to automatically cancel your insurance once you've paid down your mortgage to a 78% (0.78) loan-to-value ratio, or LTV. Put another way, once you have 22% equity built up. Many lenders will treat pre-HPA loans in a similar fashion. Call to confirm.

To calculate your LTV, divide the outstanding loan amount by the original price of your home. If you have a $190,000 mortgage on a house you purchased for $200,000, the LTV is 95%. You'd need to get the mortgage balance down to $156,000--78% of the original value--to qualify for automatic cancellation of PMI.

When You Need to Request Cancellation

You don't necessarily have to wait for automatic cancellation. When your LTV hits 80%, you can petition your lender to end its PMI requirement. The process can take several weeks. Your lender isn't obligated to grant your request, but you'll bolster your case if you have a good payment history.

Start by calling your lender, not the PMI provider. You'll probably need to make a formal request in writing and pay out of pocket for an appraisal. The average cost of an appraisal is $362, according to a 2009 Bankrate.com survey. Your lender will usually select the appraiser.

Although an appraisal is conducted primarily for the benefit of the lender to confirm that your property hasn't declined from its original value, a high appraisal can work to your advantage. As your property value increases, whether due to a general uptick in real estate prices or specific home improvements, your LTV decreases.

Justine DeVito Tenney, a CPA and financial planner with Weiser LLP in Lake Success, N.Y., points out that even if you don't meet the 78% or 80% milestones, you can get PMI cancelled when you hit the mortgage midpoint. On a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, that would occur after 15 years of payments. This can come into play for certain high-risk loans that call for a longer PMI period.

A Way Around PMI Premiums

In search of a PMI loophole? Look for so-called piggyback loans, also known as 80/10/10 or 80/15/5 loans. Basically, the home lender finances 80% and immediately gives you a second loan for 10% to 15%. You put down 5% to 10%. No PMI is required.

This alternative has traditionally been available for homebuyers with minimal capital but excellent credit. In tight lending environments, however, this arrangement is harder to come by. And even when piggyback loans are available, the extra interest you usually pay on the second mortgage may actually cost more than PMI premiums. Do the math.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Readers should consult a tax professional for such advice, and are reminded that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Source: “Cancel Your Private Mortgage Insurance"

 

3 Ways to Organize Your Closet So You Use Every Square Inch

by The Schnoor Team

An organized closet doesn’t have to be just in your dreams.

Three bloggers show how they transformed their closets.

Scroll on to get ideas for utility, walk-in, and mud room closets.

#1 A Well-Organized Utility

Many of us stash brooms, batteries, and tools separately. Not Missy of Lookie What I Did. She converted a coat closet that was a catchall for useless stuff into a central location for home maintenance items.

She went vertical by adding a rolling drawer unit, a pegboard, and storage baskets. She also kept sweepers and mops off the floor using adhesive wall hooks.

To make it a cinch to find stuff, every item in the closet has its place:

  • Heavily used items hang on the pegboard.
  • Cleaning products live together in a basket.
  • Hardware, adhesives, and batteries are stowed and labeled in the rolling drawer unit.
  • Bulky, less-frequently needed items are kept in labeled baskets on the shelf.

Tip: When deciding what to store in your closets, ask yourself what has more value, a particular item or the space you will gain.

#2 A Masterful Walk-In

This closet will appeal to your inner Carrie Bradshaw. Sandra, aka Sawdust Girl, ripped out her old master closet and created her dream closet over four months.

Optimizing Space

Sure this closet is huge, but it’s the special features that make it efficient:

  • Convenience: Connects to the bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room.
  • Quality: Oversized, self-closing drawers quietly glide shut.
  • Lighting: Colors render beautifully with daylight CFL bulbs.
  • Power: Extra outlets, extra flexibility.
  • Add-ons: A built-in ironing board, rolling ladder, and nine-by-six-foot shoe cabinet came later.

#3 An Un-Muddled Mud Closet

Jaime the DIY mama behind the blog That’s My Letter came up with a cheery entryway mud room-style cubbie and bench system for a friend.

Optimizing Space

Originally, the closet had piles of stuff on the shelf and floor. To eliminate clutter, she evaluated what to keep and came up with a plan to make those items more accessible:

  • 12 solid-wood shoe cubbies wrangle Dad’s shoes, which had been spilling out of a hanging organizer.
  • The bench performs triple duty: It provides a place to sit, room for handbags and knapsacks, and a spot for more shoes.
  • Baskets on top of the cubbies stow gloves, hats, and scarves.

Tip: When it comes to keeping closet clutter at bay, out of sight means out of mind. So opt for a closet system that allows you to see everything that’s stored.

Source: "3 Ways to Organize Your Closet So You Use Every Square Inch"

Chile Capital of the World

by The Schnoor Team

 

No adventure in New Mexico is complete until you have experienced our cuisine.


Unlike any other, it is a blend of flavors from Spanish and Native American cultures that has been perfected over the course of 400 years. At the center of it all is the New Mexican chile, in both red and green varieties, which is used in everything from enchiladas to ice cream. Whether you are looking for a dining experience that has received a James Beard award or an authentic dive off the beaten path, you will find it here.

Click the link below to find Culinary Treasures, Ale Trail, Wine Trail, Chocolate Trail, Green Chili Cheeseburger Trail and Breakfast Burrito Byway. 

Source: "Chile Capital of the World"

 

 

How to Get Your Home Show Ready

by The Schnoor Team

Keep your home in stunning shape throughout the listing period.

Everyone knows that selling your house is a big decision, and there are so many emotions involved, not to mention all of the work it takes to get your house ready to sell! 

Well, having been through the process multiple times and having to sell homes super quickly, I thought I’d share my simple tips for getting your home ready to show. You ready?

To make this as clear and easy to follow as possible, I broke down the process into three categories: things to do before listing, things to do consistently during the listing period, and things to do the day of a showing.

Things to Do Before Listing Your House

1. Enlist a real estate agent! You can interview several and choose the one who you feel the most comfortable with. Having an agent you trust and respect is crucial for a happy selling experience.

2. Give your agent a house tour. Have your agent walk through your home and advise if any remodeling work is warranted before you list the house. You might be surprised at the things that they will tell you to leave alone.

For example, in one of the houses I sold, I had this adorable little girl’s room with large floral wallpaper (pictured above). It was clearly catered to a young girl, so prior to listing our home, I was worried we would need to remove the wallpaper or paint over it.

However, our agent advised us to leave it alone because the room showed well with the decorative style. It turns out one of the first guests who toured the house had a two-year-old daughter who fell in love with that very room! For them, the room was a big selling point of the house. However, even if someone with boys walked through, they might have thought, "No big deal, we can repaint that one wall."

3. Dejunk your house. Go through each room in your home to remove clutter. Throw away or donate belongings that you no longer need, or use and box up items that you won’t need during the listing period. Too much stuff can crowd your space and make it feel smaller than its actual size.

Even though dejunking an entire house can seem totally daunting, it’s actually my favorite step! Getting rid of all the excess we've accumulated over the last years always feels so liberating. Plus, it means less for you to pack up, move, and unpack later.

Once you've done these steps you’re ready to move onto the next phase of preparations!

Things to Consistently Do During the Listing Period

1. Maintain the best possible curb appeal. While this tip might seem obvious, you would be shocked at how many open houses I went to where sellers put no effort into their home's outside appearance. In fact, when I worked in a real estate office, I heard plenty of stories of agents pulling up to houses with clients and having the clients want to drive away before even going inside!

First impressions are crucial, and your home's front is no exception. During the listing period, you should take extra care to make sure your lawn is mowed, your garden is weeded, and flowers are planted. At the very least, make sure your porch is swept and you've sprayed for bugs; nothing turns someone away on a house tour like staring spiders in the face while waiting for the agent to unlock the door.

In the fall and winter, make sure leaves are raked, stray branches are picked up, and sidewalks are shoveled and salted.

2. De-Personalize. While prepping for house tours, take out anything that is super kitschy or specific to your tastes. The goal here is to make your home appeal to as many different people as possible. Don't worry, this doesn't mean you have to go crazy and eliminate everything with personality. For instance, if you have a nice focal gallery wall of family photos, leave them as it might give potential buyers decorating ideas. Plus, it looks more appealing than a big empty wall.

3. Stage your home. Staging your home means rearranging furniture and decor, or even repainting,  to make it look most pleasing to the eye. For example, your side tables might typically not be decorated because you’re worried about little people breaking things, but for the tour, it’d be nice to place little plants and candles on them (like pictured above).

You don't have to spend a ton of money doing this; sometimes just rearranging items from room-to-room or shifting around furniture can make a huge visual difference.

You're almost done, time to move on to the last phase!

Things to Do the Day of a Showing

1. Make sure your home is clean and shown in it's best light. When we sold our first home, our agent instructed us to turn on all of the lights, open the blinds, and keep all bedroom doors open before any showing. Basically, do anything to make your home feel brighter or bigger.

Don’t worry, you don't need to freshly vacuum before every showing if you aren't able to, but make sure to make the beds, stow away toys, and generally ensure everything is neat and tidy!

It’s especially important to ensure your bathrooms are clean --  make sure toilets are flushed, seats are down, towels are picked up and counters are wiped. This can be especially difficult if you have a baby, but it’s worth it! I had a friend who threw all her baby's belongings (chair, changing pads, bassinet, etc.) into the back of her trunk before each listing.

2. Try to use all of a potential buyer’s senses. I have a vivid memory of the time I walked into our first home (before it was ours). The woman who lived there had just baked cookies and left a plate on the counter for us. The smell of cookies was in the air, and the house was clean and homey.

Now, I can't say for certain how much that impacted my final decision, but I still think about it eight years later. It was the feeling of "this could be our home" that was comforting. You obviously don't have to bake cookies before every showing, but you can light a candle or burn incense. And minimize distractions by turning off TVs and electronics. 

3. Disable alarms, gather your pets, and get out! Last step in the process: Leave your house. I know some people stay in their home for various reasons during showings, but honestly, I don’t believe it's the best idea. It makes potential buyers feel uncomfortable or want to leave more quickly.

Often, homeowners want to give tips about the house or gush about the neighborhood, then unknowingly say the wrong thing and turn off prospective buyers. Even if you have a house full of kids and nowhere to go, ask a neighbor if you can hang out in their backyard for a bit, or load everyone up in the car and go get yourself a treat. (You've earned it!)

Well, there you have it friends! I hope these tips will make you feel a little more comfortable throughout the listing process.

Good luck!

Source: "How to Get Your Home Show Ready"

Grub Control & Other Curb Appeal

by The Schnoor Team

If your lawn could talk, it would tell you to water deeply and less often.

You'll spend less time (and money, if you hire help) if you do these things now rather than later.

#1 Buy Outdoor Power Tools

Trim 15% to 30% off the cost of powered edgers, saws, and more by taking advantage of Father's Day sales — which typically offer the lowest prices of the year.

#2 Start a Lawn Watering Schedule

When temps climb into the 80s, make sure your lawn's getting enough water to preserve your curb appeal. That means at least 1 inch of water a week for cool season grasses and a half-inch for warm-season varieties.

Lawns prefer to gulp rather than sip. So water deeply, up to 30 minutes, rather than frequently. You'll waste less water, too.

#3 Use Grub Control

Grubs dine on your lawn's roots. Left to gorge, they'll kill your lawn. That's not cheap to replace: up to $2 a square foot to re-sod. Go the preventive route, and spread a lawn grub-control product that will take care of the eggs now — before they hatch and start munching hungrily.

#4 Stick to a Mowing Schedule

Cutting your grass too long or too short, or neglecting to cut it regularly will slowly erode your property's good looks. To prevent that, you (or your lawn service) should cut no more than one-third of the grass blade per mow. Whacking off more leaves your yard susceptible to pests and disease.

Note: You may need to plan for up to two mows a week to stay ahead of growth.

Source: "Grub Control & Other Curb Appeal Tasks for June"

 

6 Creative Hacks to Put a Shoe Organizer to Work

by The Schnoor Team

Simple over-the-door shoe organizers are brilliant hacks when it’s time to tame the clutter in your home.

Bulk shoppers and anyone with more stuff than storage, rejoice: You can reclaim your home from clutter with hanging shoe organizers. Sure, they're amazing tools for wrangling homeless sneakers and ballet flats. But there's another reason pro organizers adore them: Their numerous cubbies are perfect for containing odds and ends that drive homeowners mad. You know, that mass of knotted cords, your messy cabinet full of cleaning goods, that one disappearing mitten.

Pick up a few of these genius inventions and let your inner neat freak take over. Here are six shoe organizer ideas to get you started.

#1 Keep Bulk Buys in Check

Instead of piling up towers of paper towels or toilet paper, hang a cloth shoe organizer from your basement or bathroom closet rod and store each roll in its own individual cubby to free up floor space. As a bonus, you won't have to fumble around trying to extract a roll from its plastic covering — just open the closet, grab, and go. (This tip applies to all kinds of bulk purchases, from canned goods to seltzer water.)

#2 Corral Gift Wrap

Not sure where to tuck away your collection of festive wrapping paper? Don't waste precious floor space by stuffing those awkward tubes in a box. Homeowner Angie Holden used a standard over-the-door organizer to keep her gift wrap in order after her under-the-bed storage system grew "too cumbersome to get out when I need it."

Reserve three rows of the organizer's slots for the long wrapping paper tubes. The rolls will sit in the lowest one. To keep those puppies upright, attach elastic bands to the organizer, between the upper two rows of slots, and slide the tubes down through the elastic before they reach their resting place in the lower row. Make it a complete gift station by sewing a catchall bag to the bottom of the organizer for ribbon, tape, and bows.

#3 Cut the Cord on Clutter

Don't let tangled tablet chargers and extra iPhone cords rule your home. Instead, use a shoe organizer to keep your electronic accessories out of sight and ready when you need them. Organization blogger Stefanie Sliger divided her various cables by type, stuffed each set into its own pocket, and labeled accordingly. (Think "iCables," "outlet adapters," and "HDMI.") "It's definitely easier to see, grab, and store cords using the shoe organizer," Sliger says. If you have extra space, those additional pockets are perfect for batteries and lightbulbs.

#4 Feed Your Kids

Tired of your little ones leaving a trail of displaced soup cans and sideways pasta boxes as they dig through the pantry in search of something to snack on? Using a shoe organizer to sort your snacks "makes it easy for kids to snag grab-and-go snacks," like granola bars, applesauce, raisins, and juice boxes, says personal organizer MaryJo Monroe. Hang it over the pantry door for easy access.

#5 Tame Winter Garb

As fall becomes winter, figuring out how to keep your endless collection of mittens, gloves, and extra fluffy socks organized and accessible can be a nightmare. After a basket storage system failed to keep her family's winter accessories under control, blogger Jamie Rannila turned to a shoe organizer — a solution that has been particularly popular with her triplets. "This way of organizing makes it so easy for them to reach and put their items in their own compartment," Rannila says.

#6 Create a One-Stop Cleaning Station

Is your under-sink space cluttered with myriad sponges and half-empty spray bottles that needed to be pitched months ago? Stop digging through the dark to find the glass cleaner. A hanging shoe organizer in your pantry can make life so much easier — just stick each product and cleaning accessory in its own pocket. Voila! No more hunching and hunting.

Source: "6 Creative Hacks to Put a Shoe Organizer to Work"


6 Ways to Lose at Negotiating a House Price

by The Schnoor Team

Real estate negotiation tips so you can buy your dream home — and not overpay.

You've looked at enough houses to fill an entire season of House Hunters and finally picked one to buy. Now you're ready to make an offer.

Your agent can help guide you through this nail-biting phase of negotiating a house price, but ultimately, you call the shots. Here's how to negotiate like a boss.

Fail #1: Thinking House Price is All That Matters

That house with a price point $15k below your budget? It may seem like a deal — until you add on the costs of maintenance and replacing the aging appliances.

Planning on repainting, remodeling, or landscaping, too? Suddenly the price looks a whole lot higher.

When developing your offer, calculate in the costs that will go above and beyond a mortgage payment. Then you can negotiate with an eye on the total cost of owning the house, not just the sticker price.

On the flip side, the price may not be all that matters to the seller, either.

She may have to start a job on the other side of the country in a month and value a quick closing. Or she may be looking to rent from you for a bit after the sale until her next home is ready. Sometimes being accommodating is negotiation gold.

Fail #2: Refusing to Back Down on Small Repairs

Before you draw a line in the negotiation sand over, say, a deck with some rotten boards, ask yourself if it's worth losing the house over a repair that would cost less than a thousand dollars.

Say the house price is $250,000, which makes that deck repair less than half of one percent of the cost of the house. There's a lot of emotional energy at this point in the process, so give yourself a break rather than dickering over it.

A house negotiation is not about winning for the sake of winning. It's about getting the house you want at a fair price on good terms.

Fail #3: Waiving Formalities Because You're So in Love With the House

Don't be so blinded by house love that you do something silly like skip some of the formalities of home buying, such as the home inspection or the appraisal, in an effort to close the deal.

Those steps, and others like a termite or septic inspection, are known as contingencies. They're there to protect you from ending up with a six-figure money pit.

Imagine how quickly the house-honeymoon would end if you found a termite colony or that the identical house across the street sold for much less?

Besides, if you're taking out a mortgage, your lender won't let you skip an appraisal because they don't want to loan money on a house that isn't worth the loan amount. So even if you want to make it easy for the seller, your lender may stop you.

There are other ways to sweeten your offer and get that house:

  • Pay some of the seller's closing costs.
  • Offer a fast close.

If this is your first house, speed is an ace up your sleeve because you can move faster than someone who can't buy a new house until they sell the old one (another type of contingency).

And remember, while there's a lot of emotion tied up in choosing a house, it's still a business deal.

Fail #4: Getting Hung Up On a Few Grand

You offered $198,000. The seller won't budge from $200,000.

Before you walk away, consider this: Two grand is a lot of money, but in the house-buying world it's not so much. At an interest rate of 4%, with 20% down on a 30-year mortgage, that additional $2,000 will add just $8 a month to your payment.

If you can swing it -- maybe you can cut a small thing out of your budget each month -- it could be worth it.

Fail #5: Folding Because the Inspection Turned Up Issues

A good home inspection is going to turn up something. Usually several somethings. That's good. It means the inspector is doing their job. It's a rare day when a home passes inspection with no problem at all.

Plus, many things that turn up on an inspection are easily handled. You can ask the seller to do the repairs or knock some off the price so you can pay for repairs.

And while some problems may seem scary at first, like a roof leak or plumbing problem, they're almost always fixable and negotiable.

Fail #6: Offering Less Because the Decor is Hideous

The faux-Tiffany swag lamp and trippy orange-and-brown wallpaper make your eyes itch. So you're planning on offering less — way less.

Before you do that, know the market. If it's a seller's market, your offer may be seen as an insult especially if the home's in good shape. And just like that, you've lost your dream home.

When you're ready to make that offer, look past the little stuff that you can easily change, and focus your negotiations on what matters, like the location and the bones of the house.

Source: "6 Ways to Lose at Negotiating a House Price"

Summer Home Maintenance Tips — Specifically for June

by The Schnoor Team

Invest in quality tools while they’re on sale this month.

Temps start to soar in June when days start to get longer.

Stop your energy and water bills from soaring, too, with these summer home maintenance tips:

#1 Stop Buying Cheap Tools

Happy Father's Day to everyone: It's tool-sale month! Repairs and home improvement projects go much smoother with quality tools — and you'll like the results more. This month, take advantage of sales to buy quality brands for less, or buy used tools at a local auction or estate sale. Then ditch those make-do tools that have always frustrated you.

#2 Stop Heat-Drying Your Dishes

You're already paying extra to pump cool air into your house. Don't pay even more to use the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher. It can double your electrical load.

Instead, open the dishwasher immediately after it runs, and pull out the racks. The evaporating steam will speed-dry the dishes. Some dishwashers have an air-dry button that will automatically prevent heat drying.

#3 Stop Watering Your Lawn So Much

Lawns are a bit picky about their drinking schedule. Rather than daily soaks, they prefer deep, infrequent watering, which promotes deeper root growth. In general, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week. In a well-watered lawn, you can stick a screwdriver 6 to 8 inches into the dirt without resistance.

#4 Stop Putting Bricks in the Toilet

Summer may be water-conscientiousness season, but putting a brick in your toilet is the wrong means to that well-meaning end. Brick crumbles when exposed to water for too long. Instead, switch to a high-efficiency toilet. At $100-$300 per toilet, the $230 annual water savings is worth it. Or just swap your brick with a half-gallon milk jug filled with sand.

Source: "Summer Home Maintenance Tips — Specifically for June"


NEW MEXICO FILM TRAILS

by The Schnoor Team

Visit your favorite Film Locations

With over 360 days of sunshine and a stunning, diverse topography, New Mexico is not new to Hollywood. New Mexico film history spans over 100 years and includes more than 600 productions. Film has reached every corner of the State from “Transformers” on location in the dunes of White Sands National Monument to “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” along the Cumbres Toltec Railroad outside of Chama.

Since 2003 alone, over 205 major productions have shot all over New Mexico. Visit New Mexico State Film Office’s Filmography to see the gamut of storylines filmed right here, statewide, featuring a host of celebrities from Faye Dunaway to Johnny Depp. Now you can visit many of these film locations by downloading movie maps provided under each region listed below.

Tour New Mexico in true style: eat at the restaurants and stay at the hotels of your favorite stars or featured in your favorite shows. It’s an exciting way to experience New Mexico and another way to make New Mexico a True Adventure.

Source: "NEW MEXICO FILM TRAILS"

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 115

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