How to Make a Tiny Closet Feel Bigger

Small closets can be annoying. While it’s hard (or near impossible) to change to space your closet allows you, there are ways to make your closet seem larger. Here are seven tips to make your small closet space work for you.

  1. Add a fresh coat of paint – and a light

To make your closet seem brighter and larger, paint the entire closet a white or off-white. A light color automatically seems brightens a space rather than a dark color, which will make a space seem smaller and closed in. You can also add in a light to brighten the space even further. Finally, to make the space seem as big as possible, add in a mirror on the inside of your closet door or on the back of the wall.

  1. Use closet organizers

An unorganized closet can make it seem like you have way less space than is actually available. Using closet organizers, such as shoe organizers, will give you set places to place your things, which will help you avoid creating huge piles of clothing.

  1. Use all available space

When space is tight, any space is good space! Shelves can be placed on the back of your closet doors to make room for folded clothes or shoes. Any awkward spaces can be filled with items that aren’t easily folded. Use your creativity to fill those spaces!

  1. Double your hanger space

Double up on the space you have available by using double rod hangers. As the name suggests, these hangers have two rods, which let you hang up more items in the same space. If you don’t want to use double rod hangers (or you want something in addition to them), consider purchasing new hangers so they all match. This can help to cut down the space that the hangers use.

  1. Remove the clutter

What don’t you wear anymore? What doesn’t fit? All these things are taking up precious space in your closet! Go through your clothes and get rid of all those that you don’t wear anymore or don’t fit. Clearing up the clutter out of your closet will not only free up space but will also give your closet an overall more organized appearance.

  1. Seal anything off-season in compact bags

This is especially helpful for your winter items, as they take up a lot of precious closet space. When you’re not using non-season appropriate clothes, compress them down in compact bags and store them away in areas with dead space, such as under your bed.

Getting Your Home Ready for Spring

10 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

With spring right around the corner, it’s time to get your house ready for the season change. Here are some things that will help you get your home ready for spring.

  1. Test smoke alarms

While this isn’t just a task for spring, it’s still important to remember to check and test your smoke alarms and CO detectors. If needed, change out the batteries. It’s quick and easy (and cheap) to do. If you don’t already have one, create a fire escape and safety plan for your family.

  1. Protect against allergens

Allergens come out in full force during the spring, so get a jump start in keeping them at bay. Declutter your home, check your pipes for leaks, and sweep up dust to keep mold, dust, and pollen away.

  1. Scrub walls, baseboards, and outlets

Winter damages your home, between the snow, rain, and melting salt. Now is the time to freshen up the walls, floors, and outlet covers to get your home shiny and clean for spring. Using a mild soap and water, scrub down the walls, baseboards, and outlet covers. Be sure that outlet covers are completely dry before replacing them.

  1. Clean faucets and showerheads

To clean faucets and showerheads, unscrew the faucet aerators, sink sprayers and showerheads. Then, let them soak in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water solution. Let them soak for an hour before rinsing with hot water and replacing.

  1. Clean your grill

Chances are, your grill didn’t get too much use during the winter months. First things first, check the hose, specifically if you have a gas grill. Check that the hose from the propane to your burners and make sure it’s intact and clean. If there are any signs of tears, replace it! Then, use a wire brush and a damp cloth to clean off the grates. Afterward, pull out and dump the grease trap and clean it out. Finally, give it a bit of a test run before using it. Turn it on and let it burn for a few minutes. Make sure all burners are working and there are no leaks.

  1. Prep your garden

Once the snow is gone, it’s time to get your garden ready. Prune and trim any dead branches and overgrown shrubbery, obstructive plants, and weeds.

  1. Wash exterior windows

Take some Windex to your exterior windows to get them cleaned up for the spring season. If you have windows high up on your home, consider hiring a window-cleaning service to take care of the job!

  1. Repair walkways

Snow and ice can seriously damage your walkways, leading to cracks and loosened bricks and pavers. Patch any cracks you find and replace the bricks or pavers that have come loosened. If you find any stains on your walkways, rent a power washing to remove them.

  1. Clean up outdoor furniture

Your outdoor furniture has been sitting unused for a long time! Put on a fresh coat of paint and/or replace the cushions to make the furniture as good as new.

  1. Clean out gutters

If your home has trees around it, there’s a high chance that there are leaves or pine needles in your gutters. This can lead to issues with clogging when the spring rain comes, leading to the rainwater being blocked from flowing through your gutters. This clogging usually happens at the elbow of a drainage system, where the downspout connects to the gutter. But don’t worry! The elbow is easily removable. Just remove it, check and clean out the clog, and put it back.

What is the KonMari Method?

How to Organize like Marie Kondo

If you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to tidy up that’s sweeping the nation. The KonMari method, originated by Marie Kondo, is a minimalism-inspired approach to keeping a tidy home by tackling your stuff category-by-category rather than room-by-room. When following the KonMari method, there are a few basic rules for you to follow.

  1. Tidy all at once

When tidying up, we tend to go room-by-room, spanning over a long period of time. Instead, devote an entire day or weekend to tidying. Tidying only one room at a time over an extended period of time will lead to your home just getting messy again quickly.

  1. Know where you want to be

Create concrete goals instead of vague ones. Just telling yourself that you want to live in a clean home is not enough. Instead, visualize what your ideal lifestyle. (FINISH)

  1. Determine if the item “sparks joy”

Having products that you can’t stand only generates negative emotions. You don’t want to look around your house and see things that only bring negativity. While tidying, pick up each item, touch it, and ask yourself if it brings you joy. If not, set it aside to donate or get rid of. It is necessary with the KonMari method to feel each of these items and use your emotions to make the decision about whether you are going to keep the item or not.

  1. Tidy by category, not location

Not everyone keeps the same items in the same location. In fact, most people don’t! For example, you may store clothes in your closet, a dresser, and in bins under your bed. Instead of just cleaning out your closet and then moving on to other areas, take all (yes all!) of your clothing out and go through each piece to decide whether it brings joy and if you’ll still use it.

  1. Tidy in order

Marie Kondo has an ideal order in which you should tidy up. This order is:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Miscellaneous items
  • Sentimental items

This whole method is about discarding items that don’t add value to your life. The intention of the KonMari method is to end up with a clutter-free home that brings joy to your life.

Items a Moving Company Won’t Move

Six Things a Moving Company WON’T Move

Moving companies can be very helpful, especially to those who have a lot to bring to your new home. However, there are a few things that they might not be able to move.

  1. Unsealed personal care products

Any unsealed products, such as lotions, shower products, and skin care products, are a no for moving companies. If something were to spill, it runs the risk of running the entire shipment and the company doesn’t want to be on the hook for that. Instead, pack sealed personal care products in your suitcase and take it with you or, if they’re nearly empty, pitch them. New house, new personal care products!

  1. Flat-screen TVs

Not only are flat-screen TVs pricey, but they are also very fragile. This is especially true for plasma-screen TVs, which need to be kept upright to avoid any damage to the inside glass panels. If you have a flat-screen, mention it to a moving company before hiring them, so they are prepared for the job.

  1. Expensive clothes and accessories

While this isn’t necessarily something that moving companies will say no to moving, it may give you more peace of mind if you bring your expensive, unique designer clothes, formal wear, and accessories with you.

  1. Fine art

Fine art is not the most common of products to show up on an inventory list, and because of that, most standard moving companies probably won’t be able to move them. However, there are professional art shipping services that can help you. Many of these services offer white glove service and insurance.

  1. Photo and photo albums

While these aren’t particularly heavy or monetarily valuable, pictures hold a high sentimental value. They are also fragile and can get damaged easily. Additionally, once photos are ruined, it’s most likely gone for good. Many movers may decline the risk that comes with transporting photos.

  1. Special items

Special, extra-heavy items, such as pianos, pool tables, and hot tubs, may be too difficult for standard moving companies to move. Talk to potential moving companies before hiring them to figure out if they would be able to move heavier items.

Five Home Maintenance Tasks to do in January

January Home Maintenance

Every month brings new challenges you have to face in your home. Here are some things you should tackle in the month of January to keep your house in tip-top shape.

  1. Clean up the holidays

Unfortunately, January brings with it the end of the holiday season, which means it’s time to start cleaning up from the holiday season. First things first, it’s time to take down the lights. To make it less of a hassle to get them out next year, consider wrapping the lights around a hanger. This will keep them from getting tangled while sitting in a box waiting to be hung for next year. Take down the ornaments and bring the tree to the curb. You can also use the tree for composting if you have a compost pile in your yard. Take down and carefully put away any other holiday decorations you have set up in and around your home.

  1. Clean kitchen appliances

The month of December is heavily spent in the kitchen. After the family is gone and the large meals are done being cooked, it’s time to clean up the appliances. Clean stove tops and hood, making sure to get under the racks and the slats in the hood. Be sure to clean your oven as well. Your oven will most likely have a self-cleaning option, but it is very possible you’ll need to put in some elbow grease to clean it yourself. Don’t forget to also clean out your sink and garbage disposal.

  1. Declutter

What haven’t you used in the last year or what don’t you like anymore? Go through your closets, drawers, and if you’re feeling up to it, your basement and attic. If you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, consider donating it or getting rid of it. If you’re up to it,  spend one day decluttering or you can spread it out room by room over a few days.

  1. Protect your pipes

In the winter, exposed pipes can very easily freeze. Frozen pipes can burst, leading to a flooded home. If you’ll be away from your home for a long period of time, wrap your pipes with heat tape that you can control with a thermostat. If you haven’t already, turn off water to outdoor spigots.

  1. Check your roof and gutters

Ice dams can cause a lot of damage to your roof and to your home. When ice gets in and around your eaves, damage can be done to your roof and can cause leaks. Ice dams occur when your attic is warmer than the outside air. When ice builds up, it prevents water from draining off your roof, causing icicles. This can also cause the water to back up underneath the shingles and leak into your attic. To prevent ice dams, add more insulation in the attic to keep warmer air downstairs and make sure your attic has proper ventilation. In addition, whenever there is a snowfall, be sure to use a roof rake to get as much snow off your roof as you can without getting onto your roof. Finally, make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear, allowing for water to flow freely.

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Four Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Christmas is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time to get all your gifts finalized. If you’re struggling to get ideas for those last people on your list, here are some things that can help you win the “best gift given” prize.

  1. An e-reader

An e-reader is a great gift for the casual or dedicated reader. Basic e-readers are typically monochrome and use an e-ink, which looks like paper to make it easier on your eyes while reading. In addition, these cheaper models tend not to be backlit, meaning that you will need a light to see the text. Other more expensive options have backlit screens, touchscreens, and the ability to browse the web, play music, and run apps. Some options include the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Kobo.

  1. A spa kit

Get your creativity on by making an at-home spa kit. Grab some bath bombs, nice lotion, a candle, a face mask, and anything else that you think would make the person you’re gifting it to relax as much as possible. Maybe add in a nice blanket or robe for them to cuddle up with after their spa day.

  1. A streaming stick

Turn any tv into a smart tv with a streaming stick. The stick goes directly into your TV and grants you access to many different apps, including Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube. There are many different options that you can choose for a streaming stick but the most popular are the Amazon Prime Stick and the Roku.

  1. Subscription Box

You can get a subscription box for pretty much anything nowadays. From fandoms, to food and wine, to makeup, to lifestyle. Typically, these subscription style boxes can be bought for three, six, or twelve months but each type varies. Additionally, a subscription box is a great way to keep Christmas going, as the person will continue to get a box each month for as long as you pay for!

 

 

Ways to Hold a Title

How to Hold a Title

A title provides proof of ownership on a property, in addition to a physical description of the property. It will also have any liens that are on the property in certain situations. There are four different ways that you can hold a title.

  1. Sole ownership

There are a few ways that you can hold a sole ownership title. They are:

  • If you are an unmarried man or woman, your title should read single man or single woman
  • If you are a man or woman who has been married but is now legally divorced, your title should read unmarried man or unmarried woman
  • If you are married but wish to be the sole person on a title, your spouse needs to consent and relinquish all rights. Your title should ready a married man/woman, as his/her sole and separate property
  1. Joint Tenancy

There are two main forms of joint tenancy. They are:

  • Community property. Under community property, a property is acquired by either the husband and wife during the marriage. The property can be received through a gift, devise and descent, by bequest to them, or as a separate property of either. Either spouse can have the right to dispose of their half of the property or will it to another person.
  • Traditional Joint Tenancy. A traditional joint tenancy occurs when there is a joint and equal interest in land owned by two or more individuals. This is created under a single instrument with the right of survivorship. Under traditional joint tenancy, your title will read joint tenants.
  1. Tenancy in Common

Similar to joint tenancy, tenancy in common occurs when co-owners have an undivided interest or have equal rights to the property. However, where is differs is that tenants in common hold title individually for their share of the property. Additionally, there is no right of survivorship and no other tenants can receive a person’s share of the property. Instead, the property goes to the owner’s heirs. If you choose to have a tenancy in common, your title would read tenants in common.

  1. Trust

A living trust holds legal title to the real estate. A trustee holds the title for the trustor or beneficiary, while they retain all management rights and responsibilities.

The Garden State Home Loans Team Tries Their Hand at Axe Throwing

On Wednesday, September 12th, the Garden State Home Loans staff took on Bury the Hatchet. Bury the Hatchet is a fun-filled group activity, that allows you to throw axes at a target! After the workday, the staff took off to Bury the Hatchet. After a safety talk and a few practice throws, we started our competition. Each person went head-to-head with another person on staff, throwing ten throws at the target for an attempt to get one, two, three, four, or six points. This gave us our base points to create a bracket to find out who would be the ultimate winner. Needless to say, we all had a great time.

If you are interested in taking on the axe throwing challenge, we highly recommend it. There are many locations all over the map! Look it up and see where the closest place to where you live is. Still aren’t convinced? Here are some great things to come out of axe throwing.

  1. Team building

Just like the Garden State Home Loans team, axe throwing is a great team building exercise. It’s a new challenge that can get everyone engaged. Not to mention the fun behind the group tournament to discover who the ultimate axe throwing champion in your office is.

  1. A fun workout

Not every bit of cardio needs to be in the gym. Each axe weighs about 3.5 pounds, so it’s a great way to get that heart rate pumping!

  1. Stress relief

What’s not relieving about throwing an axe at a target? Get out all that pent-up stress by aiming right for the bullseye!

  1. Do it for the ‘gram

If for nothing else, axe throwing makes for a great Instagram photo!

 

 

The team at Bury the Hatchet!

 

How to Clean Your Ceiling Fan

Cleaning Your Ceiling Fan

One thing that often gets forgotten about during the home cleaning process is the ceiling fan. Many people are too focused on collecting dust on the ground that they neglect to clean up the dust above their heads! Here are two easy ways to get your ceiling fan cleaned fast.

Using a Vacuum Cleaner

  1. See if your vacuum has a dusting or ceiling fan attachment

Many vacuums come with the attachment that is specifically for dusting. This gets placed over the vacuum’s hose and makes it easier to dust surfaces. If you don’t have one, you should consider getting one. A vacuum attachment typically costs around $10. The attachment you use should be wide and flat.

  1. Extend

Extend the vacuum handle so that it can reach the ceiling fan. If you have high ceilings (or you’re too short!) you may need to get a step stool or ladder to give you the elevation you need. Make sure you can reach the full length of the fan’s blade from where you are standing.

  1. Clean

Run the vacuum cleaner over the blades. The attachment will loosen the settled dust so the vacuum hose can suck it up. Go back over each blade after each swipe to make sure that you’ve picked up all the dust.

  1. Look for stray dust

Look around the surrounding area to see if any dust is on the floor or the furniture. If there is, the dust can be vacuumed up!

Cleaning by hand

  1. Use a cloth or a dusting glove

Dusting gloves slip onto your hand to let you wipe away dust. If you don’t have a dusting glove and don’t want to go out and purchase one, a cloth works just fine! If you’re using a cloth instead of a glove, dampen the cloth slightly before dusting. This will let the cloth hold more dust while cleaning.

  1. Get closer to the fan

Position yourself just under or slightly to the side of the fan. Cleaning your fan by hand makes it easier to stabilize the blades. When cleaning by hand, you will need to get up on a ladder or step stool to get closer to the fan. Be careful when using a ladder. You may want to have someone hold the ladder to prevent it from rocking.

  1. Dusting spray

Using a dusting spray, such as Pledge, will help get the best clean. However, some dusting sprays may contain wax, which isn’t good for certain surfaces. Look into what’s in your dusting spray and make sure that it reacts well with what material your fan is made of.

  1. Wipe clean

Spray the dusting spray and go over each fan blade with the cloth or dusting glove using straight strokes. If there is a lot of dust, you may need to go over the spot more than once.

What is Verification of Income and Assets?

In order to get pre-approved for a mortgage, a mortgage lender will need to verify your income and assets. This will help to determine how much of a mortgage you can afford. It will also help determine what your interest rate will be.

What is Verification of Income?

A mortgage lender requests verification of income to see if you have the means to pay your mortgage payments each month. To confirm your income, a mortgage lender will request a few documents. Typically, you will need two years of W-2s, two years of tax returns, both federal and income, and two of your most recent pay stubs. In addition to this, you should also have ready:

  • Most recent checking account statements
  • Current savings account statements
  • Monthly debt obligations
  • Other loans in your name, including personal, student, and auto loans
  • Most recent credit card statement

To verify your income, the lender may contact your employer directly to confirm your employment. This gives the lender the opportunity to verify the information on your W-2 and pay stubs to ensure it reflects your income amount.

If you are self-employed, you’ll need to show the lender proof of a steady income. This can be shown through a quarterly or year-to-date profit/loss statement and at least two years’ worth of your business and personal federal and income tax returns.

It’s possible that forms of income verifications and document requirements can vary depending on your financial situation, so be sure to confirm with your lender what you will need to provide.

What is Verification of Assets?

Lenders will also want to verify that you will be able to pay the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance in the case of a financial emergency. This is determined by your assets. Liquid assets are those that are easily converted to cash, such as savings accounts, checking accounts, and stocks. Examples of documents you might have to submit to verify your liquid assets are:

Cash can be considered a liquid asset, but it must be seasoned. This means that the cash has been in a checking or savings account for a longer period of time, typically at least two months. Most lenders will want to see at least six months’ worth of liquid assets to plan for an unforeseen financial issue.

You can also submit non-liquid assets, which are assets that are harder to convert to cash, such as property, self-owned businesses, or artwork. However, these might be harder to liquidate in an emergency.