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Freelance and Software Help for Small Business Real Estate Investors
by Tina Martin

When you are running a real estate investment business on your own, sometimes you feel you need a little extra help. But you might not be ready to hire anyone on a full-time basis just yet. Or you may be happy keeping your company small and operating as a solopreneur. One solution might be to hire freelancers or contract workers on a part-time basis. Another might be to purchase tech software that can increase productivity, help you find clients, and save time. Here are some of the options to consider when you are stretched thin and can’t keep up with all your tasks.

The benefits of working with freelancers.

There are many talented and experienced professionals offering their services as freelancers right now. This provides you, the company owner, with the option to work with someone who is great at what they do even if you only need their services part-time, or on occasion. It’s important to remember that hiring freelancers is not about getting cheap labor, but rather about finding someone who will work with you on your project within the specific parameters you have set, and for the time that you need.

Some areas where it makes sense to hire a freelancer.

If huge areas of your business are getting out of your control, or if you desperately need assistance with some core component of your company, this might be a sign that you need to hire an actual salaried worker. But there are plenty of areas of business where hiring a freelancer is your best bet, especially if yours is a small startup. If you only need bookkeeping services a few times a year, consider working with a freelance accountant. Or hire a freelancer to take care of your web design and make sure you are on top of your cybersecurity. Marketing and social media management are other areas of work where outsourcing makes sense. Try to find a professional who has some acquaintance with the world of real estate investing and understands your business goals.

How to find and pay great freelancers.

It’s not hard to find great freelancing professionals. You can post on online job boards and take applications. Or choose freelancers from popular freelance sites such as Upwork or Freelancer, where you can compare rates and reviews. If you’re on a tight budget, you may be able to save by hiring foreign freelancers. For example, Guru lists almost 150,000 freelancers in India who are available for work. Area colleges and universities can be great resources for connecting with skilled young professionals. Or simply take advantage of your existing social and professional networks.

When it comes to paying freelancers, you can compensate them through direct deposit or services like PayPal. If you’re hiring foreign freelancers, keep in mind that money transfer fees can be costly, so explore cheaper options. For example, if you’re working with freelancers from the Dominican Republic, you can pay them securely and affordably through a money transfer service like Remitly, which offers no-fee transfers at good exchange rates.

Online services to help you out.

If you’re stressed and overworked, sometimes simple online tools and services can make your life easier. For instance, if you have not yet registered your real estate investment business as an LLC, you should do so for the sake of the added tax advantages and liability protection – and you can use an online service to help you form your company. You can also use free online tools from Wix or WordPress to build your website or online tools from Wave or QuickBooks to help you manage your accounts.

Software for real estate investors.

Real estate asset management software can help you evaluate and compare properties and maximize the return on your investments. Look for a property management platform that will automate your processes and help you improve residence service. You may also benefit from software that will help you manage your cash flow since your small business depends on keeping this healthy and sustainable.

The time may come when you decide to expand your real estate investment company or hire some full-time team members. But for now, make your work less stressful and your life easier overall by investing in outsourcing some of your work, or having online programs or software help you streamline your projects.

When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, connect with Brenda Bonebrake for exceptional real estate service. Call (503) 386-8003!

A Guide for Seniors on How to Create an Accessible Home on a Budget
By Ed Carter- Guest Blog Post

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When you’re ready to buy or sell in Willamette Valley or Santiam Canyon, Brenda Bonebrake provides exceptional real estate service. Call (503) 386-8003 to learn more!

Aging in place is becoming more popular, with the majority of current homeowners approaching retirement wanting to remain in the houses they live in now. It's understandable, given the benefits: seniors can stay in their community where they have support from neighbors, friends, and family.

If you are preparing to enter your senior years, you may be interested in joining this trend — but is your current house suitable for aging in place? Seniors have unique accessibility needs. Everyday tasks like climbing the stairs can become strenuous or downright impossible for those with reduced mobility.

By taking the time now to ensure your house is accessible, you can spare yourself stress later. Advanced preparation will also help you save money. You won't have to move in a rush later and be forced to pay more than you'd like for renovations or a new home due to a lack of options. The following guide explains how you can create your accessible home on a budget, either by renovating your current property or buying a new one. 

Remodel your home to accommodate your accessibility needs.

If you want to stay in your current home, you may have to make renovations to improve its accessibility. Sit down and come up with a list of your current and future needs. Keep in mind that some conditions, like arthritis, worsen with age. Even if you don't need mobility aids now, that might change in the future.

The AARP provides a comprehensive list of aging-friendly improvements that you may want to consider. For example, you might want to get doorways widened to accommodate wheelchairs. If you do decide to undertake home renovations, you'll need the services of a general contractor. To find someone trustworthy, rely on referrals, and ask for credentials. Also, obtain multiple bids from different contractors to avoid overpaying.

According to the National Institute on Aging, you may be able to get financial support for home renovations to accommodate aging in place. They suggest checking with your state's housing finance agency and local community development groups for options. If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for benefits via the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs.

Another option is to refinance to pay for modifications. If you’re wondering “How do I refinance my home?” this process replaces your existing mortgage with a new loan. By giving up some equity in your home, you can free up cash which can be used to modify your home. 

Buy a new home that's more senior-friendly.

It's possible that your home simply isn't suited for aging in place, even with renovations. If you live in a multi-level home, for example, it's probably best to transition to a single-story model. In some cases, the cost of renovations can be so high that it's simply easier and more cost-efficient to move. The cost of remodeling a single bathroom to make it handicapped accessible can run from $8,000 to $10,000, for instance.

If you go this route, figure out your financial situation before you start searching for properties and make sure to estimate how much you can make from selling your current home. This can go towards the down payment on your new house (or even pay for the whole thing). Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent, because this spares you the added cost of getting private mortgage insurance. Having a set budget in mind ensures you don't pay more than you should.

If you want to age in place, it will require some investment in terms of time, effort, and money. The advantages will be worth it, however, as you will be prepared to enjoy your golden years in a house that accommodates your unique needs. The above tips can guide you through the process. 
Photo Credit: Pexels.com

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Does It Pay to Have a Smart Home? How Home Automation Improves Quality of Life

By Amy Collett

As technology advances, our lives are continually made easier. We are now beginning to apply that technology to our homes to simplify day-to-day living. It’s even a draw for potential home buyers and may benefit you as a homeowner if you ever choose to sell. Especially in a pandemic, you’re more likely to see a successful sale when you make key improvements that buyers are looking for, such as smart home automation. The Bonebrake Team presents some tips to amp up your home automation game.

What Is It?
Home automation is a network of devices that work together, managed by you through a computer or smart device. There are different pieces of tech that you can add to your home, not only to make your life simpler and more convenient but also to give you a leg up in the housing market. You can adjust your lighting with the touch of a button from across the country. The thermometer can be set remotely so your home can be the perfect temperature when you arrive home from work. 

Smart TVs can be controlled via your smart device and be played in multiple rooms throughout the home. There are sensors that can monitor levels of carbon monoxide and smoke to keep you safe. Automated vacuums also exist to make your life easier. You can also add an element of security to your home, putting sensors and actuators into place to monitor and protect your property. 

Energy Efficiency 
There are many ways that you can save energy and lower your household costs through smart technology and home automation. You can install a solar energy system on your roof, which can help with day-to-day expenses, but also be stored for future use. 

There are also applications you can run to monitor which devices and appliances in your home use the most energy. You can then turn them off remotely, rather than just keep them draining energy. It can also impact how you use your energy at home. A study based in Singapore was implemented to determine how smart devices affect energy efficiency, and the study suggested that consumption was lowered by 20 percent. 

Most of this comes down to installation. Many systems can be installed individually, or you can invest in a package deal that includes multiple pieces. The biggest question you need to ask yourself is how far do you want the automation to extend? Do you want it in every room or simply the main living areas? Once you know that, you can decide what method of installation will work best for you. Needless to say, you don’t have to do all of this alone. You’ll likely need to hire an electrician, but do your research about whom you hire. It’s best to read reviews to find a reputable licensed electrician. 

Smart Security 
Mentioned in passing, smart security deserves a good analysis. It’s one of the biggest perks, and best draws, to owning a smart home. It may seem like there are as many makers of home security as there are people looking for protection. That’s good news for consumers because it means there are more options from which you may choose, with different perks to each. You can go with a traditional security company. However, if you want the newest innovations, you will need to go the DIY route. You can purchase kits that include hubs, accessories and cameras, and any combination thereof to fit your personal preference and needs. You may even choose to just get a good camera and set up a system through your smartphone. Anything is possible in today’s market.

Installing smart tech and automation in the home is an investment. It not only improves quality of life, but it lowers energy costs, which alone may be enough to draw buyers should you choose to sell your home. It’s time to put your best foot forward and step into the technology of today.

The Bonebrake Team will use our expertise to help you find a great new home. Get in touch with principal broker Brenda Bonebrake by calling (503) 386-8003.

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Thinking About Buying or Selling a Home?
Follow These Tips Before Hiring an Agent 
By Ed Carter

The first thing to keep in mind before making a move is that buying or selling a home involves a whole host of complicated factors. Part of a real estate agent’s job is to put all the pieces together to make this process as easy as possible. In order to make that happen, it helps your agent when you do a little prep work before hiring them so they know exactly how they can serve you best. Before contacting an agent, buyers should decide on what town they want to live in, their price range, and the number of bedrooms they want. You and your agent can hammer out the other details later, but let’s start with these key necessities, presented by the Brenda Bonebrake Real Estate Team. 

Budget Comes First
Knowing your price range is absolutely essential and can affect other elements of your search criteria, such as neighborhood and square footage. CNN Money recommends getting a credit report first. You need this information at the outset because having a low credit score could make it harder to get a good interest rate.

The next step is to set a home-buying budget. You should plan for your housing cost to be no more than 33 percent of your monthly income. An online calculator can help you find that number by factoring in your down payment along with your income. Set a price range you are comfortable with, though, keeping in mind that you will have other expenses from owning a home in addition to your mortgage payment. Once you have a budget, start looking into lending options and get a pre-approval letter.


Research Neighborhoods
Think about the ideal town and neighborhood for your family’s lifestyle and needs. Do you need to be close to work? Do you want a walkable neighborhood? If you have children or plan on starting a family, what are the school districts like? These are all qualities that you can’t change about a home, so do some research now to narrow down exactly where you want to be. CNBC suggests thoroughly exploring the neighborhoods you’re looking in. Take a walk around them, not just during the day but also at night.


Prioritize Your Wish List
Once you have a neighborhood in mind, start looking into what’s on the market there and explore those homes with a list of what you want and need. Spend a little time actually writing down a list of what you absolutely must have in a home, such as the general size and number of bedrooms, along with what you want to have but can compromise on. When you start looking at homes, you can easily fall in love with a place that really doesn’t suit your needs. Having a wish list will help keep you on track. A great way to see what’s available in your desired neighborhood is to visit some open houses. Go with your wish list in hand to get an idea of what’s out there in your price range that meets your must-haves.

Most people are aware that buying a home is a complicated process, but sellers need to do a little prep work too. You can start out by using online tools that will give you an idea of home trends in your area.

Sellers should get their homes appraised and fix any cosmetic issues with their homes. It is also crucial to declutter, depersonalize, and deep clean. If necessary, it’s also important to look for a professional who can eliminate pests like mice that may have taken up residence inside the home. Whatever you can do to get interested buyers is a step in the right direction.

Buying or selling a home is perhaps the biggest transaction you will ever make. Your agent’s job is to help make sense of it all so no detail goes overlooked. As a buyer or seller, when you use these tips to get ready for this big step, you and your agent can work together to find your ideal fit.

Published June 17, 2021 


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How to Upsize Your Home to Build a Business

By Tina Martin

Are you starting a business from home? Home-based businesses are a savvy way for first-time entrepreneurs to break into small business ownership. However, not every home is built for business. In fact, the need for home offices has been a major impetus for homebuyers in 2020.

Before contacting the Bonebrake Team to upsize your home for business, consider how you can do more with your existing space. This guide will help you decide if your house is fit for business or if you need to buy, build, or remodel to meet your home business needs. 

What does a home business office need? 

A desk in the living room may suffice for the occasional telecommuter, but real businesses need real offices. That includes a door, a bathroom, and a private entrance. Home offices should also have plenty of electrical connections for office equipment, ample storage, and good lighting. You may also need space for employees.

How to maximize space in your home office

That’s a tall order for a home office, but you can accomplish more than you think in a small space. If you have a spare bedroom or flex room to convert into a home office, use these ideas to accomplish more with less: 

●       Install folding wall desks for employee workspaces that fold away when not in use. Not only do folding desks save space, they’re budget-friendly too.
●       No chair? No problem. An office stool like the Autonomous ErgoStool supports good posture and is small enough to stow away.
●       Swap bulky PC computers for lightweight laptops. Today’s laptops do more than ever, including protecting your data with biometric readers and privacy screens. They also cost less than you think if you take the time to look for sales.
●       Take advantage of vertical space with modular shelving, a versatile alternative to built-in cabinets. With endless configurations, you can customize modular shelving to any space and grow it alongside your business.
●       Don’t forget the file cabinet! A wooden lateral file cabinet or file ottoman doubles as a piece of furniture for functional storage that also looks good.

Six options for home office additions 

A spare room is the obvious pick for a home office, but what if your spare room is too small or out of the way? Here are six options for home office placement you might not have considered:
●       Attic or dormer.
●       Loft.
●       Finished basement.
●       Converted garage.
●       Bonus room over the garage.
●       Shed or outbuilding.

Is remodeling worth the cost?

Converting an unfinished space or building an addition provides the space your home business needs, but at what cost? Building an addition costs anywhere from $10,000 to over $50,000, depending on whether you’re finishing an existing space, expanding up or out, or building a new structure.

Before undertaking a major remodel, talk to your realtor about the returns you can expect from your investment. Certain additions may add more value to your home than others. 

Keep in mind that home office improvements are tax-deductible. You can claim the home office tax deduction even if you haven’t formally registered as a business entity as long as your office meets the criteria. However, it is worthwhile to register your business as an Oregon LLC to protect personal assets like your home.

When buying is a better choice

For many home business owners, buying a new home is more cost-effective than remodeling. You’ll also save time buying a house that already meets your needs. Your agent can help you decide if it’s worth remodeling your current home or if moving will be more cost-effective in the long run. 

Before selling, prepare your house for a quick sale and identify your must-have features in a new home. Every home business is different. Whether you need a professional office, a workshop for crafting cottage goods, or space for inventory storage, finding your ideal home starts with defining it.

Are you planning to upsize your house for a home-based business? Before investing in your home, connect with the Bonebrake Team to learn how you can get the most for your money. Whether that’s remodeling or relocating, the Bonebrake Team can help you make the right choice for your home and business.

Tina Martin stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance. She is also working on her first book, Ideaspired: Put Your Ideas, Your Inspiration, and Yourself First to Make Your Dreams Come True. 

Published on December 9, 2020- KeyToOregon.com/GuestBlogPost

Smart Budget-Minded Tips for Selling Your Home Quickly
Guest Blog Post by Suzie Wilson  

Are you getting ready to put your house on the market? If so, now is the time to make sure you fully understand the best ways to make your home move as quickly as possible. The faster you can manage to secure a buyer, the more likely you are to get a great price. As a homestays on the market for longer, the odds increase that you’ll need to reduce the price. It’s also harder to get bites; buyers see the long timestamp as an indicator that there’s something wrong.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure you start off on the right foot when it comes to selling your home. There are several things you can do to ensure that your house sells quickly. Here’s a look at a few of the best techniques sellers can use to secure a fast transaction.

Stage Well

When it comes down to it, the buyer’s first impression of your property is going to make a huge difference. People use that first look to set the tone for viewings; if it’s lackluster, the property will have to overcome it, making it a harder sell. That’s why staging is so important. 

Your goals with staging boil down to depersonalization. You want the space to look livable, but not necessarily lived in. This means taking down personal photos and removing especially stylized décor. You can check out stores like Walmart to find sales, discounts (don’t hesitate to shop the refurbished or clearance sections), and cashback deals on affordable decorations that will suit nearly anyone’s tastes. This allows buyers to imagine themselves in the home and project their lives into the space, making them more likely to buy. 

It’s also important to make sure it’s clean and decluttered. Before you have viewings or get photos taken for the listing, pack or store away any items you don’t actually use or need. Then, do a thorough deep cleaning, or consider hiring a cleaning service to knock the job out for you. This will ensure that your house looks inviting and appealing to potential buyers.

Get the Right Help 

If you’re not already pretty familiar with the home-selling process, it’s best to have a real estate agent on your side to help you sell. Access to a network of interested buyers alone is an invaluable aspect of the relationship you develop with your agent. Moreover, they’ll be able to give you informed insight as to what kind of sales price you can justify, what the most appealing parts of your property are, and when will be the best time to put your home on the market. These will all ensure that you save — and make — money in the process of your sale.

Talk to friends and family to get recommendations for trusted real estate agents, and interview a couple before you choose. You should value someone with a long, proven history of sales in your area. You also want to make sure that your personalities click; you don’t need to be best friends, but as you’ll work with your agent a lot, it’s best that you get along. 

Make Profitable Upgrades 

There are a number of little projects you can do around your house that won’t cost much to do but may entice buyers into making an offer. For example, if you have old curtain rods, you can upgrade them to a newer, more aesthetically pleasing model. You can do the same with any hardware in the home, such as doorknobs and drawer pulls.

However, be wary of renovations that don’t provide returns on investment. New carpeting, for example, doesn’t usually pay off. It’s pricey to do, and you never know if buyers will actually want carpet. Research any upgrades before you make them ensure they’re worth the cost. 

By putting thought into the process of putting your house on the market, you can ensure you get the most out of your property. Focus on staging your home to appeal to buyers and making the right moves for your market, and you’ll find the right match in no time.

Suzie Wilson can be reached at info@happierhome.net
Published online February 21, 2020

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4 Practical Tips for Finding an Accessible Home
Guest Blog Post by Patrick Young, Able-USA

House hunting can be a challenge for anyone. However, when you have a disability, the task of finding a place that meets your needs can feel overwhelming. One reason for this is because less than 5 percent of homes in the United States qualify as accessible. Although it may not be an easy process, knowing what to look for and doing some planning can help you along the way. Here are four tips for finding the perfect accessible home.

Look at Structural Features

First of all, you will need to consider the size of your future home. Particularly if you use a wheelchair or other kind of mobility aid, you will want plenty of floor space to maneuver around your home safely and comfortably. You will also want to think about the layout of the home, especially the stairs. Almost all accessible homes are one-story with zero-step entrances. Furthermore, doorways and passageways should be wide enough for mobility aids. These can be widened after you purchase the home, but it can be expensive to do so. Knowing to look for these features will save you valuable time on your home search.

Assess the Location

Along with the interior of your home, you want to make sure the general location serves you well. For instance, are essential establishments such as markets and pharmacies nearby? Are they close enough to deliver? If you like to visit the park, is there one relatively close so you can access it regularly? How heavy is the traffic on the roads and sidewalks, and how many ramps are on the sidewalks? You may also want to know about the nearest public transportation stops.
Do This Before Moving In

Once you find your perfect home, there are some tasks to tackle before moving in. Securing your home with new locks comes first. You can compare qualified locksmiths in your area. Also, you’ll need to change your address. Start by changing your address on the USPS website so that you don’t miss any important mail, which can be done in a few minutes. Then, you can make updates with your subscriptions and credit cards at your own pace. Here are a few other tasks to do before moving in:

●       Inspect your home for plumbing leaks.

●       Clean your cabinets, closets, and any other place with shelves.

●       Replace your toilet seats.

●       Vacuum and clean your refrigerator coils.

●       Replace the batteries in your smoke/CO detectors and make sure they function correctly.

Consider Modifications

Hopefully, you will find a home that makes this part a little easier and less expensive to manage. Nonetheless, even if you find an “accessible” home, you will likely need to make some modifications to fit your specific needs. For instance, you want to make sure your entranceway has a zero-step entrance, as well as threshold ramps inside the home. If your doorways are not wide enough to accommodate a mobility aid (e.g., wheelchair, walker), you will either need to have them widened or install expandable door hinges.

Also, you will want to make sure your bathroom is accessible and safe. This may not require a full remodel, which can cost $25,000 or more. You can make your bathroom accessible by adding items like grab bars (inexpensive models are available for under $13) in bathing areas and by the toilet and lowering your sink and vanity/medicine cabinet. Moreover, think about daily activities in the kitchen, which may require you to lower the cabinets, as well as certain appliances such as the microwave.

Finding an accessible home that you like is not impossible. Be sure to consider structural features in each home that will allow for easier and less expensive modifications to be made. Make sure the location of your home provides safe and convenient access to important establishments. Finally, make a checklist of tasks to accomplish before moving in, and make any modifications that will make your everyday living experience safer and more comfortable.

Photo Credit: Pixabay
Published January 21, 2020