5 Things You Should Know When Looking for a Roofing Contractor

Real Estate

If you’re a homeowner, the chances that you have the required amount of knowledge about roofs and sidings are quite slim. These are things that normal people tend not to know much about. That is why it’s always advised to work with roofing contractors when looking to have some roof work done. However, not all roofing contractors are the same. Here are some tips you can implement if you’re on the hunt for a good roofing contractor.

Ask Friends and Family for Recommendations.

One of the best ways to find a good company to work with is by asking people you know if they have worked with any roofing contractor lately. Friends and family whom you trust will tell you if a company delivers good service. They will also let you know if a company is not worth your money and time.

Perform a Background Check.

If you have no neighbors or friends who can give you a referral, you can certainly scout for good roofing contractors on your own. You can check online reviews to see if a particular contractor gets the job done well. Moreover, you can check out their website to find out more about them. This includes how long they have been in the business, the services they offer, etc.

Verify the Contractor’s Insurance.

Found the roofing contractor you’d like to work with yet? Make sure they have a general and liability insurance before sealing any deals. Moreover, you can also reach out to the insurance company to confirm. This insurance ensures that any services done with your house is insured by an insurance company. This will save you a lot of headache and time in the future; if anything goes wrong.

Make Sure You Put Everything in Writing.

In any business transaction, you need to sign a written contract. This includes costs, time frame, and details of the work that will be done. If you’re working with a professional roofing contractor, you won’t have to worry about this. They know how to do things professionally and this will come automatically to them. However, inexperienced contractors may not.

Clearly Communicate with Your Contractor.

Lastly, it’s important that you and the contractor can effectively communicate with each other during the span of the work. If your contractor seems to be away and busy all the time to answer queries, it may not be a good sign. Make sure you can reach out your contractor easily. That way, if anything goes wrong during the process, you always have someone to reach out to. If you have any roofing, siding, and gutter concerns, you can reach out to Bel Air Gutter and Siding for a free instant quote. When it comes to getting job done with your home, you only want to work with the most reputable companies. It’s important you don’t get ripped off and get the services that your house needs and that you paid for.

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How to Home Stage A Small Home

Real Estate

Staging a house is a very important process when you want to put your house up for sale on the market. It helps you sell the property faster as it allows prospective buyers to picture themselves in the space that is available. This becomes almost crucial when we talk about small homes. With the proper staging of furniture and other household items, even a smaller place can look more sufficient functionally. We have been very impressed with a local home staging company, Calm Castle Home Staging. Check them out if you live in Maryland and visit their website for some good tips.

Meanwhile, let us explore some tips below on how best to stage a small home.

Calm Castle Home Staging tips - remove the clutter
Turn Off to Buyers – Remove the Clutter

Remove the Clutter

Before you enter the staging process, it is imperative to remove the clutter. Keep all the essentials and only a few ‘good to have’ items. Once the clutter is out and your home is overfilled with furniture and knickknacks, do a thorough cleaning. Get rid of any unpleasant odors and try to disinfect the house. You don’t want the buyers to be greeted by any surprise visitors.

Calm Castle Home Staging tips - rooms without clutter are more appealing
Compare to a Room without Clutter


Aim for lighter colors. Cooler and pastel shades tend to reflect light and make space look bigger. On the other hand, darker and warmer colors tend to make the room look darker and more congested. Stick with a single light color for the walls. Open the blinds and pull back the curtains to let the light in. Talking about light, make sure that the light fixtures throw ample light. So, dust them, if required.


Most of us tend to collect unwanted furniture over a period of time. While staging your home before a sale, make sure that you reduce the amount of furniture in the house by as much as fifty percent, in some cases. You might need to rent a storage unit. Another challenge could be that your furniture may look dated or worn. In such a case, it might be a good idea to rent furniture for the staging phase.


Another great tip for staging a small home is to remove all unwanted doors. They will give your home a more open-plan look and feel. Of course, keep the doors where needed, like bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.

Bare Walls

It is better to have bare walls than have something obnoxious staring out of them. Remember, not all of us have the same levels of appreciation for wall art. Moreover, leaving the walls vacant will make the room seem more breathable. Don’t make them completely bare, but in this case, generally less is more.

Calm Castle Home Staging tips - use mirrors to make rooms look bigger


Now that your walls are more bare, you might want to hang a few mirrors on them. Mirrors not only brighten dark spaces they also make the area look bigger than it is. Don’t overdo it though.

Furnish Wisely

Decorators swear by metal and glass furnishings when it comes to staging small homes. In comparison to wood, they give the room a lighter and brighter look. Likewise, when it comes to curtains, go for lighter colors as well as fabrics. Streamline the fabric and the color palette. Don’t put everything on the bed. If you want to mix and match, then stick with two options only.

Smaller homes are much more in demand today than they were a decade ago. So, even without an elaborate staging exercise, you can still sell the property. However, staging done right can get you a better price. Typically, 10 times what you spend on staging. That seems high perhaps, but remember, the value of a house is a relatively large number. Increasing the sales price by 5 or maybe 10% can mean several tens of thousands of dollars.

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How to Tell If You Need A New Roof?

Real Estate

Roofs shield us from all the risks and perils of weather. With time, it will need a replacement. If water has started dripping from your roof on your heads, you have waited too long to repair or replace your roof. Here are some subtle but sure signs that indicate that a roof replacement is required.

It’s About Time:

Generally, a roof is made to last at least 20 years. But this is not a hard and fast rule. A roof may or may not last this much. Or it could last much longer. It depends on the material, weather conditions, humidity, and salt levels in the air, and how it was fitted. But to be on the safer side, you may start looking for signs of decay (which we will point out below) once your roof hits the 15-year mark. If houses around you are wearing a new roof and they were as old as your house, then you need to consider roof replacement too.

First Stop, Attic:

For inspecting the quality of your roof, start from within. Get up and go inside your attic with a strong flashlight. Look for the following signs there:

Sunbeams: Before you turn on your flashlight, look for any sunlight penetrating through the cracks. It will be easy to identify, as the attic is dark, and you can see beams of light entering the attic through cracked shingles.

Seepage: After that, turn on your flashlight and see any signs of water leakage. The telltale sign of water leakage would be dark spots, stains, moisture, damp smell, and even water drops hanging on or dripping.

This attic looks “healthy”

Drooping Area: Inspect the structure of the roof from inside and see if it is slacking or feels shapeless anywhere. If you see any such spot, poke it gently with your hand or a stick. If it feels soft, and wet it shows the roof has been damaged from the outside to let the water seep in.

Get on Your Roof:

After inspecting from the inside, it is time to go up on the roof. But it can be dangerous too. Do not attempt it, if you are not comfortable going up or have the proper equipment. Ask for professional help instead. If you can go up easily then look for the following signs on the exterior of the roof:

  • Rotting shingles
  • Curling shingles
  • Cracked shingles
  • Broken shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Shingles that are missing granules
  • Shingles with cupped tabs
  • Decaying shingles
  • Damaged flashing
  • Damaged decking
  • Unwelcome plant, moss, or algae growth. It could spell trouble in the long run.
  • Inspect the roof valley; where two parts of the roof meet. It often develops cracks.
  • Sagging or uneven ceiling surface
  • Any other sign of rot or wear and tear that you could be of concern
A roof that requires closer inspection for potential repairs

Granules Build-Up in Your Gutters:

Poor or low-quality shingles lose their granules rapidly, especially after a rain or two. If you notice a lot of shingles granules gathered in your gutter, then it means your roof needs an inspection and might need a replacement. We hope by following these steps you will be able to tell if your roof needs a replacement.

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Used Appliance Stores a Great Option for Rental Units

Real Estate

When renting out your property, you usually have a target client in mind. If you live near a university, for example, it is easy to imagine offering your apartments to students. If that is the case, you should be aware that students often prefer furnished properties.

Microwave Oven

Why Should You Furnish Your Homes with Appliances?

Students also add their personality to the property by bringing a few of their own items. They may bring along a beloved ottoman, a couple of personalized pillows, and books. However, they will likely expect that everything else will be there. This preference for furnished homes is especially true if they are moving from a different town or state. It can be inconvenient and expensive to get several heavy items hauled for moving.

What Is the Most Straightforward Setup?

To set up, you can place a worn couch and a simple bed in your apartment to withstand several years of usage by various tenants. They do not have to be fancy. The duller they are, the easier it is for them to blend in with the student tenant’s own furnishings seamlessly. However, setting an appliance is a different thing altogether. Appliances can be expensive and may take more maintenance. It may be more challenging to scrounge enough money for appliances that your tenants will be using.

Ceiling Fan

How Do Appliances Come into The Picture?

So, here is where used appliance stores come in. These stores can provide you with affordable options for your rental units. Even if you are renting out for families, these used appliances may still be your best move to save some money.

Imagine having to buy expensive and brand-new appliances for your rental units. Then, come in distracted teenagers or families with kids. Imagine heavy loads being rammed into washing machines and coffeemakers getting their daily swirl.

However, you also have to think about whether you are providing your tenants with good appliances. You want them to be happy, comfortable, and satisfied. Your rental unit is a reflection of you as a business owner. You don’t want to come off cheap and uncaring.

Here Is How You Can Pick the Right Used Appliance Store to Buy from:

They Are Known for Refurbished Goods.

Some appliance stores do not just directly sell their goods. They also make sure that they are in tiptop shape. Some of their items also look new, although a closer look will reveal its wear and tear. The prices reasonably reflect their age.

They Also Sell Unused Stock Appliances.

Sometimes some appliances just don’t get sold. There is nothing wrong with them. It is just that often, the next model of machines arrives and take precedence. So, they get ignored, unused and unsold. New appliance stores that sell such appliances could hurt their reputation. So they sell to used appliance stores. That means you can get last year’s model, never used, from a used appliance store for a great price.

They Are Willing to Negotiate.

Go for used appliance sellers who are more willing to negotiate. They can lower the price for you. Do not hesitate to ask if there is a chance to do that.

They Will Show You the Actual Product Before You Buy It.

Of course, make sure these sellers show you the product before selling it to you. Pick a brick and mortar shop that house the products so that you can inspect them before buying.

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Marketing for Real Estate Agents

Real Estate

The world of real estate is often fast paced and merciless to those who aren’t prepared. As an agent, you’re also unlikely to become renowned or relied on by your clients if you can’t get your name around enough. Just like with any product or service, you’ll never get business unless you get your name out there, and word of mouth is the most tried and true means of doing that.

Real Estate Deal

Word of Mouth

People are much more likely to talk about you and refer your services to friends, family, or even acquaintances the closer in contact you stay with them. After you’ve shown a house or two off to a client, don’t just wait for them to come to you. Show them you’re interested by keeping in contact, and they’ll be likely to give your card to their Aunt Sally who is looking for a fixer upper to rent out.

Likewise, if you offer sub-par service, it’s just as likely that word will spread to avoid you, so this can be a double edged sword if you’re particularly bad at what you do, but you’re here reading this because you want to be a great agent, so we’ll move on to the next point.

Keeping in touch with your clients is the best way to market yourself and keep your reviews nice and hot. Because of this, word of mouth, and glowing reviews online benefit greatly if you make sure that your clients are happy even after you’ve sealed the deal. Give them a call, let them know you’ll stay in touch, take them to lunch to celebrate their new home.

Open Houses

A big thing you can do to really make a great impression on potential clients is hosting open house parties that will give you an excuse to talk to those looking for a house. Open house parties can help you get people both interested in buying a house, looking to buying one, or just get your name out there. Often times, people are on the fence about investing in a new domicile, or don’t really have any expectations, but if you put out the chips and dip for them, chances are you will have them thinking about it while they’re making their way through the tiny sandwiches. After all, who doesn’t love a good party?

Open House

Social Media

Another important thing to do is to take advantage of modern social media and networking platforms. BombBomb is a popular means of doing this, giving you tools you need to be successful and keep your name on people’s lips during lunchtime. Video emails are a unique feature to this app that allows you engage with past clients in a convenient way, and automated drip campaigns sent to former clients will keep your services on their minds. With updates as frequent as every month and newsletters on top of that, it’s got everything and anything you’ll need to keep your networking at its prime. Since it has a free trial and everything, there’s really no reason not to give it a try.

Social Media Marketing

Online Advertising and SEO

It is also possible to target people with online advertising to get new clients. Unless you are really knowledgeable, it is probably better to hire someone to do it for you. It’s a good idea to find out their track record. In addition to that, you need to work on your website and structure it properly, so people find it when doing a search on the web. And you want to have lots of good Google reviews. If you don’t have that and you are spending money on everything else, you are probably wasting your money. Experts can help with the website by doing search engine optimization (SEO) and with the reputation management for the reviews. At the end of the day, the main thing you’re going to need to keep your networking strong is effort and a willingness to try. So don’t dawdle for even a moment. That client who was on the fence about wanting to look at that house down on Cherry Street? Set up a day to tour it and toss them a text or leave a message, and bring them some donuts and coffee while you’re at it.

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8 Tips on Investing in Real Estate

Real Estate

Most of us make at least one major real estate investment in our lives. A real estate investment can be for living in it or as an owner you can rent it out and the property becomes a source of income for you. You can also invest to build a retirement nest egg for later years. Whatever, the ultimate goal, you can do this right if you follow these 8 simple tips on real estate investment.

Real Estate investment in condos and apartment buildings
Invest in Apartments or Condos

Budget Awareness

Real estate investments require a substantial amount of money. Therefore, be aware of financial capability and align your purchase to your budget. A pre-approval on loan from your bank can help you arrive at your budget.

Market Awareness

It is important to do your homework and research the market rates before you go hunting for prospective properties. For instance, if the market rates are over your budget, then you might want to wait before the situation changes to suit your requirements.

Demand Awareness

A property might be beautiful, but it may lack in rental potential. To ensure that your investment does not become a liability, do an area survey before you make the purchase. It is often seen that properties near educational institutions and convenient transportation will always remain in demand.

Investment Goal Clarity

Be clear on what you want to gain from the property. Do you want to hold on for longer? Or, are you aiming for quick capital growth? Being clear about these aspects can help you decide better.


More than anything, the property must be livable. You can invest in an exquisite piece of real estate but if it has poorly designed interiors, then you might find it difficult to rent out or live in.


Simply put, don’t get caught in your emotions. Buy with your head and make a practical purchase. Weigh the plusses and minuses before you enter into the contract.

Building Inspection

You might not be presented with a clear picture of the property. Therefore, a third-party building inspection is always a good idea. This will not just make sure that you get a detailed inspection report on the property’s situation, but it will also help you avoid any future repairs.

Legal Advice

The documentation involved can be complex and filled with jargon. So, to make sure that your interests are covered, run the contracts through a property lawyer before you sign on the dotted line.

Apart from following these tips, make sure that you avoid the common mistakes like making hasty decisions before due diligence. Also, avoid too much risk like relying solely on rental income to pay off the mortgage installment payments or going ahead without legal advice. Most investors invest in real estate intending to make handsome profits, but only a handful of them progress beyond their first investments. If you are one of the lucky few, then hiring a property manager can prove to be a wise decision.

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How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent


Hunting for the best real estate agent can take a toll on you. It takes time but it’ll pay off in the end.

Here are a few tips to finding that right agent for you.

How to find realtors. Look for sold signs in the neighborhood

Get Referrals from People You Know and Trust

Perhaps the easiest way to look for an agent is from a referral or a recommendation from a trusted person you know like a friend or a family member. They will most likely give honest opinions and assessments of a certain agent they have worked with. However, be careful when selecting an agent based on a friend’s or family member’s referrals. Their real estate needs may differ from yours, so make sure to interview the prospects to ensure the agent has the expertise you require.

If in any case, if you can’t find a real estate agent through referrals, there are other alternatives you can choose in your agent-hunting adventure.

Look for those “For Sale” Signs in the Neighborhood

A “For Sale” sign might pop up around in your neighborhood. If so, check them and take note of the agents working in the area. You can also note when these “For Sale” signs go up or disappear, or when it is replaced by a “sold” sign. You might want an agent who sells listings the fastest rather than go for an agent who keeps putting up a large number of “For Sale” signs. Results will tell you an agent’s quality.

Real estate open house - go to some to get idea of realtor

Attend Several Open Houses

You can also look for real estate agents in open houses. Collect their business cards and note certain details of agents you meet. If you’re selling a house, observe how the agent shows the home. A good real estate agent selling a home is polite, informative and knowledgeable about the house. Additionally, a good agent also gives out promotional materials about the home that looks professionally created. Another good quality of an agent is that he or she points out ideal home features and gives tours.

Search Online

The prospect of finding a really good real estate agent may lie with just a click of a mouse and an internet connection. Search for real estate agents in online directories like zillow.com and realtor.com. Although you can get information by this manner fast and easy, there is no guarantee that these agents are of quality. Often, these agents only pay site owners to get listed in their directories.

A better way when researching agents using online search engines is to research websites of the top real estate companies in your locale. You can look up for agents’ profiles. Check details on their experience, but not excluding novices and read comments and review of their clients.

Do Not Neglect the Print Ads

When real estate agents run ads, it’s because they want to sell real estate or they are seeking to promote themselves. Read the house advertisements in your local newspaper and take note of the agent advertising. You can even check their websites. You might just end up with the right find.

Ask the Professionals for Referrals Too!

It’s not only friends and family members that you can ask for referrals. Have you also thought of asking the pros for their referrals? Most often, they will happily recommend sellers and buyers to their associates, especially when you need a service that’s not their specialty. Other resources who might know of top-quality agents are bank loan officers and mortgage brokers.

Follow these guides and you’re sure to find an agent who will assist you in your house-hunting or sell the one you have.

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How Realtors Can Avoid Risky Circumstances


Meet First in the Office

Besides the issue of safety, this makes sense because you can find out about the person or couple and their interests and not waste a lot of your time driving around.

By having them come in to the office first, you get a chance to meet them in a safe environment and can get them to fill out paperwork. You can get a copy of their driver’s license and get them to fill out an Identification Form. A lot of brokers are making this a requirement for the safety of their Realtors.

If you can’t meet in the office, start someplace public and not a vacant house. Then make an electronic “paper trail” by taking a picture of their drivers license and license plate and emailing it to the office manager.

No Bling

Criminals look for Realtors who where expensive jewelry and watches in their ads. Also avoid ads that shows you with expensive cars. Look classy and professional, just no bling.

Minimize Personal Information

Don’t tell clients all about your kids, yourself, where you live and other personal information. Some is fine but limit it. Likewise, in ads or on business cards, don’t use your personal address and phone number and email. Give out business email, phone and address not personal.

Put a Spotlight on Clients

Not literally of course, but if you introduce them to co-workers and make them know, they are less likely to do anything. They like to stay anonymous and inconspicuous.

Check in with Your Location

When you are meeting someone, let someone else know your schedule, and where you will be when. Plus give them the contact information for the client you are meeting. Make sure to give a return time and when you have left the client, call or text your partner to know all is OK. Some brokers also have boards or web pages where you can put that information in including the return time.

Never List Properties Vacant

That is not to say don’t list vacant properties. It means don’t put that they are vacant on the listing or in advertising. That sends a signals to criminals. Besides clients knowing that you are going to a vacant house, by advertising that fact, you could go to the house and find it occupied by squatters. That creates another whole kettle of fish.

Always Keep Your Phone

Don’t leave it in the car. Always keep it with you. Plus have a security app installed on it that lets you press a button quickly to send a distress message. Also have a safe word or code you can use if you call a friend or family member.

Park on the Street

If you park in the driveway, the client can pull up behind you and block you. Parking on the street also makes your car more visible to neighbors and if you have to leave quickly you can do so faster. In addition, put your purse and laptop in the trunk before going into the house.

Showing Strategies at the House

Let the client go first and not be behind you. You can point them in the direction of different parts of the house. Also, don’t go into the basement or attic where you could be trapped. They can go there on their own.

Dress Appropriately

That doesn’t mean don’t dress provocatively although you shouldn’t do that either. It means dress appropriately for whatever the weather is. If the car breaks down or you have to go on foot, you want to have the proper clothes on.

Trust Your Instincts

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore the feeling. Try to think of alternatives, have someone come with you or whatever will help.

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