4 Best Ways to Enjoy Spring

flying-a-kite
1

Go fly a kite

Take the kids outdoors and fly a kite. If you are really adventurous, make one of your own. Fly it at the park, in the schoolyard or at a nearby field. Kite flying on a sunny day is a ton of fun and a terrific way to get your vitamin D.

2

Head to the ballpark

Get tickets to a ball game for your whole family, whether it’s the major leagues or a local game. Get seats in the bleachers and bring gloves so the kids can try to catch a fly ball. Eat hot dogs and peanuts, and enjoy a day in the sun. Many teams offer discounts for the start of spring.

3

Turn on the sprinklers

Sure, the water park is a blast — but it can be expensive. Instead, invest in some cheap water guns and head outside. Turn on the sprinklers, break out the water balloons, and enjoy the afternoon sun while you cool off with some water fun.

4

Grab your camera

A sunny Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to capture some amazing shots. Take your family to the botanical garden, zoo or the beach — all wonderful backdrops. Even if you are an amateur, you can take terrific pictures these days as the cameras do most of the work for you.

Buck’s Top Ten Tips for Decorating Your Tree

This holiday season takes some tips from the pros on how to decorate your tree..

1. Use Shiny Baubles

Chritmas tree decorated with Shiny Baubles
While decorating a classic or fashionable design, glass ball ornaments are the first-class options to add a professional look into the trees. If you want a traditional look, use the solid ornaments in golden, red, white and silver colors. And if you want to decor in the modern and latest look, just select the ornaments having the lime green and fuchsia or bronze and violet.

2. Add the DIV Ornaments

Christmas tree decorated with DIV ornaments
Prepare your own handcrafted ornaments during the decoration of tree. The ribbons dyed by hand and old ornaments tied into the rural quality of handmade decorated trees. This is one of the most unique Christmas tree decorating ideas ever.

3. Blooming Design increase the beauty

Blooming Design christmas tree
The third best idea for decorating a beautiful Xmas tree is the blooming design for this purpose you have to visit your nearest craft store and purchase an array of silk flowers same like the garden roses. Then Scatter the flowers all through the branches. The addition of a rich textured ribbon and some out looking knock-knacks are sufficient to add a professional look into your tree and it will look like it was decorated by a famous designer.

4. Looks Perfectly Natural

Natural looking christmas tree
If you want to celebrate your Christmas with a natural looking Christmas tree, just mix a good combination of leaves, pine cones and birds right through the branches of  tree and if you want to boost more attraction of tree just add some gorgeous metallic elements in the designing.

5. Add Some Seasonal Sounds

Christmas tree with sounds
One of the best Christmas tree decorating ideas is to add some seasonal sounds into your creation. Just enhance the tree with jingle bells, mix into the silver ornaments which will make it like a classic theme. And watch as it will be appreciated by all your holiday guests.

6. Creature Comfort

Creature Comfort Christmas tree decorating ideas

Your creativity is the key for a good appreciation for you. So choose your favorite animal while deciding the theme of Christmas trees. In this design snowy looking owls are added into the branches. Which increases the creativity effect into the decor and rest of the tree is enhanced with the sharp green lush flowers, combination of clear red and green ornaments.

7. Patriotic looking Design

patriotic Christmas Tree decorating idea

Everyone loves with their country so if you are an American inhabitant then decorate your Christmas tree into the national color. Choose red, white and the blue color combination for the designing purpose. Because this design will not only increase the beauty of the tree but it will also highlight your love for the USA.

8. Match the Color combination and your decor

Match your Decor while decorating christmas tree

Before decorating the Christmas tree keep in your mind to match your decor. If you have a traditional looking residential home, then choose the tree which clearly fits into your design. Because outstanding design combination reflects your thinking level so you must match your decor.

9. Show Nature into your Design

Most Natural looking Christmas tree

Natural things always attract people, so you have to put a natural look into your design. Collect some mini water cans, artificial birds and flowers and put them into your tree and I hope and will increase the natural beauty. The addition of a straw gardening hat on the top of the tree is amazing decorating idea.

10. Hollywood Style into Decor

Hollywood Styel Christmas Tree decorating ideas

Oscar looks fit into the traditional red and gold color combination. So it is another amazing idea for decorating a Christmas tree, and keep them up for when you have your Oscars viewing party.

Are The Repairs Worth It?

 

Even if you have the money to repair your home… is it truly worth the time and effort to go through with it? Only if you plan on keeping the home for a while. Otherwise, it is almost always better to just discount the sale and let the new buyer spend the money on fixing it over time.

 

A new buyer will, presumably, stay for a while, whereas you are just trying to sell your home. Instead of spending huge amounts of money on your outdated kitchen, just discount the price and let the new owner take care of it. You’ll make more money on the sale overall.

 

The exception to this rule… is when you have to make repairs in order for the new buyer to pass inspections set down by his/her mortgage lender (i.e. if they are getting an FHA loan). It depends on the state of your home, but occasionally, the buyer may not be able to secure a mortgage until repair work has been performed.

 

If your house needs extensive repairs, yet you cannot afford them, you may be stuck looking for a cash buyer – someone who has the available capital to buy your home without securing a mortgage. If this is the case, look around to your community. Do you know anyone who loves a fixer-upper? Do you know anyone who may have relatives in desperate need of a home?

 

Some repair costs can spiral out of control… such as foundations or a new roof. Foundations can cost up to $30,000 just to repair. While there are many methods for fixing foundations, there is almost no way that you will be able to do it yourself. Roofs are also extremely pricey to repair, yet they are absolutely necessary to fix. Ignoring roof repairs can lead to extensive water damage inside a house, which in itself can drive up the cost of repairs.

 

So, what if you don’t have the money? That’s what we are here for! If your home needs extensive repairs, yet you are trying to sell, give us a call to see how we can help. We buy houses “as is” – any condition, any neighborhood. Call us for an offer within 24 hours!

 

Buck Buys Houses.

Best Small Cities to Move to in America

Based on living expenses and the overall life experience here are Buck Buys top 10 small cities:

1. Rowlett, TX
2. Idaho Falls, ID
3. Cedar Park, TX
4. Noblesville, IN
5. Hendersonville, TN
6. Mansfield, TX
7. North Port, FL
8. Barlett, TN
9. Tinley Park, IL
10. Moore, OK

What Makes a Superior Small City

We created this list based on demographic and other data we collected about 100 cities with populations under 60,000. Six criteria in total were surveyed:

  • Cost of living
  • Crime
  • Median household income
  • Unemployment rate
  • Median home price
  • Homes for sale per capita

Below, you’ll find details on the economy, crime, and housing markets of each city to give you more insight into why they ranked so highly.

1. Rowlett, TX

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Rowlett is a suburb of Dallas of 57,703 resident earn a median household income of $82,466—56 percent more than the national average.

Crime in Rowlett is quite low at 42 percent below the national average, something that no doubt helps its residents sleep soundly in their homes, which cost about 19 percent less than the average for the rest of the U.S. at a $161,400 median list price. There is one home on the market in the city for every 164 people who live there.

Rowlett’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate is 12.5 percent below the national average.

2. Idaho Falls, ID

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Known as Eagle Rock until 1891, Idaho Falls isn’t a stranger to “best places to live” lists. In the case of our ranking, the city really stood out in terms of its cost of living, which at 12 points below the national average is the best of any city in our top 10.

The city’s crime rate, at 5 percent less than the U.S. average, isn’t nearly as good as Rowlett’s, however. Its median home price of $126,000—37 percent below the national average—is better though, as is its ratio of one home for sale for every 92 people. The city’s 57,899 residents bring home less than their counterparts in top-ranked Rowlett, though, managing a median income of $46,161, or 13 percent below the national average.

The 5.6 percent unemployment rate in Idaho Falls is 22 percent below the average for the rest of the nation.

3. Cedar Park, TX

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

We head back to Texas for our No. 3 on the ranking, Cedar Park. Located near Austin, TX—in fact, Cedar Park also appeared on our ranking of best suburbs in the country—the city has the lowest crime rate in this top 10 ranking at 51 percent below the national average.

Cedar Park’s median household income of $70,914 is 34 percent above the average for the rest of the country, and at $258,000 its median home price is 30 percent above the associated average. With one house on the market for every 182 residents, it might be harder to find a home there compared to our top two small cities.

At 5.2 percent, Cedar Park has the second-lowest unemployment rate in our top 10; it is 28 percent below the national average.

4. Noblesville, IN

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Located not too far from Indianapolis, IN, Noblesville and its 55,075 residents are situated in the middle of America’s Corn Belt.

Crime in this small city is 38 percent below the national average, which comes at a bit of a premium as the cost of living is seven points more than the average for the rest of the country. Household income, however, is also above average by 27 percent at $66,936. Noblesville’s median home price is six percent below the national average at $186,300 and there is one home on the market for every 84 residents there.

The unemployment rate in Noblesville is 11 percent less than the national average at 6.4 percent.

5. Hendersonville, TN

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To
 
Nashville, TN suburb Hendersonville has a population of 53,080 residents who make 18 percent more than the rest of the country in terms of median household income at $62,627. The cost of living there is eight points below the national average. Crime is considerably lower at 37 percent below average.

In terms of housing, Hendersonville’s median home price is 25 percent above the national average at $249,900 and there is one available home on the market for every 101 residents.

As for unemployment, it is currently at 6.5 percent, which is 9.7 percent below the national average.

6. Mansfield, TX

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

The third small Texan city in our top 10, Mansfield is technically a suburb of Fort Worth, TX—although it’s equidistant to Dallas—and has a population of 59,317. It’s also the most competitive housing market in our ranking with one home for sale for every 239 residents. The price of its homes is 12 percent above the national average at $225,000.

Once you have a home there, you can expect low crime—it’s 43 percent below the national average—and a cost of living that’s 3 percent above what it is for the nation on average. The median household income in Mansfield is the highest above average in our top 10; at $91,959 it is 74 percent above average.

Mansfield’s unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is an impressive 25 percent below the national average.

7. North Port, FL

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Once a part of Port Charlotte, FL, North Port became its own city in 1974. Now its 58,378 residents enjoy a cost of living that’s 10 points below the national average, although the median household income there is actually 10 percent below average at $47,655.

Finding a home in North Port is actually easier than anywhere else on our top 10, as there is one available home for every 40 residents. The median price of its homes is $139,900, which is 30 percent below the national average. Its crime rate is 16 percent less.

In terms of employment, North Port’s unemployment rate is 7.4 percent, which is 2.7 percent above the average for the rest of the U.S.

8. Bartlett, TN

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

The second city in Tennessee in our top 10, Memphis, TN suburb Bartlett has a population of 55,945 and is known for its historic plantation homes. Its crime rate is 47 percent below the national average, while its median household income is 41 percent above at $74,514.

The median home price in Bartlett is 10 percent below average at $179,900 and there are 173 residents for every home that’s on the market.

As one of three cities in our top 10 with higher than average unemployment rates, 7.3 percent of Bartlett’s residents are out of work, a number that’s 1.4 percent above the national average.

9. Tinley Park, IL

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

Named a best place to raise a family by Businessweek in 2009, Tinley Park made our top 10 thanks in no small part to the fact that its crime rate is nearly 50 percent below the national average. Its safe citizens—57,144 of them—also earn a median household income that’s 45 percent above the national average at $76,605. Its cost of living is six points above the national average.

Housing-wise, homes in Tinley Park cost seven percent below the national average at $184,900 and there is one home for sale for every 127 residents.

The unemployment rate in Tinley Park is the highest in our top 10 at 8.2 percent, which is 14 percent above the national average.

10. Moore, OK

These Are America's Best Small Cities to Move To

While the 57,810 residents of Moore have to contend with tornadoes, the people who live in this Oklahoma City, OK suburb also have to be a bit more concerned with crime. That’s because the city has the only above average crime rate in our top 10 at 45 percent above the national average. Fortunately, some other factors help even things out.

For one, the cost of living in Moore is 10 points below the national average, and the median household income, at $55,710, is 5.6 percent above. The median home price is 37 percent below average at 128,000 but there are 169 residents per home for sale.

A real positive standout for Moore is its unemployment rate, which at 4.3 percent is an impressive 40 percent below the national average.

 

 

5 Tips to Improving Your Home’s Value

If looking to sell your home and need a little extra help here are our five tips to make life easier on you!

Tip 1: Spend an hour with a pro.
Invite a realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Our realtors will do this as a courtesy. Even small suggested improvements, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.

Tip 2: Inspect it.
Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems — you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don’t normally see. They may discover hidden problems that could negatively impact your home’s value. Small problems (such as a hidden water leak) can become big, expensive problems quickly; the longer you put off repairs, the more expensive those repairs will be.

Tip 3: Paint, paint, paint.
One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is paint! Freshly painted rooms look clean and updated — and that spells value. When selecting paint colors, keep in mind that neutrals appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, painter’s tape, drop cloths and brushes. So buy a few gallons and get busy!

Tip 4: Find inspiration.
An alternative to hiring a designer is to search for remodeling and decorating inspiration in design-oriented magazines, books, TV shows and websites. Simply tear out or print off the ideas you want to try and start your to-do list. Keep it simple — when remodeling on a tight budget, do-it-yourself projects are best.

Tip 5: Cut energy costs.
The amount of money you spend each month on energy costs may seem like a fixed amount, but many local utility companies provide free energy audits of their customers’ homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. An energy-efficient home will save you money now, which can be applied to other updates, and is a more valuable and marketable asset in the long run.f

“Zombie & Vampire” Foreclosed Homes are Keeping Bank Inventory High

As if rising mortgage rates aren’t scary enough, analysts have identified a lurking threat to housing: “vampire” properties.

These “vampire” properties are bank-owned foreclosed homes in which prior owners continue to live, as defined by RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace.

Former owners live in 47% of U.S. bank-owned properties, according to Realtor Magazine. These properties are “sucking the life out of the housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, an editor for Realtor Magazine.

“The concern with these homes is that they are inevitable inventory that had been delayed from hitting the market,” Blomquist said. ”We don’t anticipate these properties will derail the housing recovery when they hit, but they will certainly take some of the steam out of the recovery.”

There are particularly high rates of “vampire” properties in Virginia, where they make up 72% of bank-owned homes and Nebraska, where they make up 68%. Many states with high shares of vampire homes have relatively short foreclosure processes and a low rate of homes with negative equity.

“Homeowners may have less time to prepare to vacate the home because of the shorter foreclosure process, but also may be more motivated to fight the foreclosure because they are more likely to have positive equity in the home,” Blomquist said.

Vampire properties should not be confused with their creepy cousins, zombie foreclosures. Zombie foreclosures are properties that have been vacated by the homeowner but are “languishing” in the foreclosure process. About one-in-five homes in foreclosure across the country have been vacated by the homeowner.

Luckily, the percentage of bank owned properties in King County is much lower. As recent as September, bank owned homes and foreclosed homes in King County totaled 19%, a very reasonable number for the recent housing trends. This means that vampire and zombie homes are less common in Washington and particularly Western Washington, which means your investment is more secure.

Saving for that Down Payment: 5 Easy Steps

So you’ve decided to buy a house, and now all you need to save up for that pesky down payment. Check out these tips to help you get started!

 

1. Know How Much You Really Need

Typically, down payment requirements range from 3.5 to 20 percent of the purchase price of a home, depending on the lender and loan type. It’s important to understand what you’re looking for – find a real estate agent who will listen to you and will give you a good estimate of how much your new home will cost. They can also help estimate how much you’ll need for a down payment.

 

2. Inspire Yourself

No matter the price, it will take a while to save up enough money for your payment. Make visual reminders of why you’re saving and place them around the house. Take a picture of the house you want to buy (or even photos from a magazine), put it on a big poster, and hang it up in your living rom. Write an inspiring message below it such as “My future home!” Maybe get a countdown clock or calendar that says something like “Only 1 year and 50 days until I buy my dream home.”

 

Although it seems silly and childish, it can actually be a powerful motivator. You need this positive reinforcement to ramp up your motivation, otherwise you’ll lose sight of what you truly want. And then you can also lose momentum in achieving that goal. Reward your hard work with some inspiration, and it will pay off in the end.

 

3. Defeat that Budgeting Downfall

Now that you know how much you need, and now that you’re inspired to go get it – now all you need is to just start saving money in every possible way. Reflect on your spending from the past two-three months and identify which categories of spending can be reduced substantially. Maybe you’ve been eating out three times each week, or maybe you’ve been making a few too many trips to the mall. In examining your spending habits, you can make a plan for minimizing them, which in turn, increases your savings.

 

4. Earn Extra Cash

Side jobs can help immensely. Especially those found on the internet. Sites like Elance.com or oDesk.com connect freelancers to people all over the world who are willing to pay for certain services. For example, people are making money as virtual assistants, writers, designers, transcribers, and more. While working from home even! These types of jobs, or even traditional side jobs (babysitting, house-sitting, tutoring) can really boost your savings, earning you a few extra hundred dollars per months.

 

5. Don’t Give Up!

It’s a long and hard process to save up enough money for a down payment. Set small and achievable goals for each month, and then celebrate once you’ve accomplished them! Allow yourself a meal at your favorite restaurant when you reach every say, $5,000 instead of $30,000. You’ll never lose sight of what’s ahead if you have these rewards to look forward to. Make it fun, and it will help you overall.