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OPHH BLOG

Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Friday, June 7, 2019
Is Your Buy-To-Let Property Doing The Best It Could?

Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

In the US alone, the number of people renting property, instead of owning, is at an all time high. In 2016, 36% of the population lived in rented property and the percentage of people in rented property has been increasing since 2006. Not all property value is equal, however. A property with personality, that is truly itself, will garner more of a profit than one that isn’t and there are countless properties that could be put in each other’s place, simply because they are that bland.

A Bespoke Home

For the longest time, the word ‘bespoke’ has been thrown around in commercials with no explanation. And in the simplest terms, it is something made specifically for one purpose or place. If you walk into a house and see nothing but fixtures and furnitures that you could get from a chain furniture store, that won’t excite you - or anyone. If you add in even a single piece, that has been made bespoke for you, or that you have gone out to find from somewhere that isn’t a chain. The personality the place has will rise - because it stands out.

Before the interior of a house, the exterior is the first thing anyone notices. Consider the front door, the first thing a person who enters anywhere comes in contact with. A door is just a door, if it’s plain, that is. One little detail on the front door can make a world of difference. But what could you do? A hand crafted door-knocker is one option, a little something with intricate detail for someone to stop and appreciate before they even knock. For example, a speakeasy grille, with little doors within the door, is an option that something that most people will never even come into contact with in their life. Now just imagine walking up to a front door and not knowing what the panel is until you’re inside.

A green space, something even as simple as a place where a tenant could have their own plants can be a huge boost to your property. Duncan Smith, writing for the UK government (in GLAEconomics, page 2) said that “green space was strongly related to house prices through the high attractiveness of… private gardens”. A person with their own green space is more likely to want to settle, are they not? They have been provided with this extra space that they are more accountable for, that they can grow and cause to flourish on their own. A person with roots settled, figuratively and literally are less likely to move.

Professional Help

Simply put, there are people out in the world whose jobs it is to give property advice, to help property owner make the most and get the most out of their properties. There are people whose jobs it is to help people with buy-to-let properties specifically. The most important thing for you to do, as the owner of the property, is to do your research. You may think this would go without saying, but it never hurts to have the reminder. And not only that, it never hurts to get more than one source of help. The property you’re planning on renting may well be your livelihood - so it would benefit you to make sure that you know everything you can and are in the best position possible to increase the value of your property.

There are plenty of options in the world for you to make the most of your buy-to-let property. Options to help you increase the value so it can provide a higher level of income for you and there are people, if you need them, to make sure that you’re at the highest point you could possibly be at.
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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Monday, May 20, 2019
Summer Is Here
6 Tips to Upgrade Your Curb Appeal for a Summer Sale

Summer is the prime home selling season in many parts of the country, and while it may be a lot easier to rent or sell your Chicago 3-bedroom unit for market rate in June rather than in the middle of winter with just a few showing, it’s extremely important to pay attention to the way your home appears as prospective buyers drive by.

If you have a front yard full of winter debris, overgrown plantings and a sparse weed-filled lawn, those tire house hunters may do a quick drive-by and cross you  off the list in a hurry. Following are quick ways to upgrade your curb appeal:

The Lawn

If your lawn looks like Lambeau Field in November after a season of turf-punishing games in the rain; if even the crabgrass looks yellow and sickly, if the spent dandelions look like lonely dessert signposts, and if there are more bare brown spots than green plants, you need help quick. Now before you apply a weed and feed that will just kill everything except a few select grasses, us this pro landscaper’s trick. First, make sure you water the lawn—or the weeds—so your vegetation at least turns green.
Then, cut it short. A short lawn of assorted weeds and grasses looks a lot better than an overgrown mess. Finally, get an electric edger and use it where the turf meets the concrete. A neat edge and short front yard will look a lot better no matter what is growing in it.

Foundation Plantings

These might have looked great 20 years ago, but if your junipers are 10 feet wide and 20 feet tall, get a pro landscaper to cut them back. Better yet, tear out ancient foundation plantings and replant. There is something about fresh, young landscaping that makes everything look better.

Cast Concrete Planters

Discreet and sensible use of cast stone planters can add a stately and formal feel to your home’s front yard. These are a lot more affordable than you might think. It’s also really easy to plant large items because you don’t have to dig any holes!

Combining stone planters with some awesome greenery and flowers can give your home a brand-new look that everyone can see on display as they drive and walk by. This can put you ahead of the competition when it comes to pricing for a sale. Visit this link to see installation and care information.

Annuals

OK, so you’re not a flower person and have never had good luck with annuals throughout the season. The good news here is that you don’t have to worry about keeping flowers alive past the closing date, and with a little fertilizer and water, you can have your front yard looking very inviting.

Clean It

Go to the depot and rent—or buy—a pressure washer and turn your brown concrete bright white. Even if there are some cracks and less-than-perfect areas, clean and neat sidewalks and driveway areas really add a lot of instant curb appeal.

Garage Door

Great Realtors will tell you that an investment in a new garage door can only add value to your home. If your Fiberglass door is cracked, dented or just dirty and ugly, get quotes for a new door. You want to avoid home repairs when possible, so make sure you do you research before making any new investments.

The last thing you want to do is turn prospective buyers away from your property because of easily fixable yard issues. And remember that any curb appeal dollars you spend will probably be retrievable when you sell your home.
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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Monday, May 6, 2019
Design Essentials For Living In A Tiny Home


A surprisingly 68 percent of tiny home owners don’t have a mortgage compared to 29.3 percent of all homeowners in America. This is good news if you’re thinking of owning or building your own tiny property. These micro or compact houses, have increasingly gained in popularity because of their low-cost, low-carbon and lower tax advantages. Whether you want a Prairie style home or an arts and crafts tiny house, thinking about space management is key to kitting it out with everything you need.

Design for your needs

Moving into a tiny home doesn’t necessarily mean you have to build it from scratch but can be anything from adapting a house already built to living in an old school bus. Either way, your design will be the crucial first step to setting up this type of trendy new home. Look for inspiration to guide you through the process and help to identify your needs to living in a tiny space. For example, will you have small storage ideas as part of your functional design or use Craftsman Style Plate Racks?

Design for beauty

While you don’t want to make your interior space claustrophobic and cluttered, it’s necessary to have all your home comforts to create spacious and practical solutions. Consider using all available vertical spaces such as using Craftsman Mirrors to double the size of the area. Choosing the right kind of lighting is also important so that they can be applied to specific areas of a home and can be either in the form of Quoizel Ceiling Lights or from the Arroyo Craftsman Lighting Collection. You can also personalize your tiny home with unique cabinet hardware.

Design for efficiency

Small dwellings usually rely on using organic materials so you might want to go for Barn Door Hardware or Hammered Copper Sinks to add to the rustic effect. Windows are essential for a tiny house to not only give you natural light but they are great insulators for heating and cooling too and you can even have Glass Art Panels for a more creative look. Think about what utilities you’re going to use such as installing a harvesting rainwater system to lower the costs of your water bills.
When designing a tiny house try and combine as much storage, natural elements and home comforts to live in harmony with each other. In addition, because they are so small they can easily be transported so when you decide to move, you can take your house with you!
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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Monday, February 11, 2019
Upgrade Your Mudroom

6 Reasons You Need to Upgrade Your Mudroom this Winter

Your mudroom is usually a small hallway attached to the back door that in theory will keep winter dirt, sand and mud from getting further into your home. If your mudroom is in rough shape, any time is a good time to repair it, but, for the following reasons, Winter can also be a good time to do some worthwhile general remodeling.

Mudroom essentials

Oak Park Home & Hardware offers a variety of essentials for the mudroom from welcome mats, coat racks, coat hooks, key racks, to lighting. We also specialize in door hardware from entry sets, deadbolt locks, to security latches. Check them out!

Available Labor

In northern climates, like Minnesota real estate or Chicago, outdoor construction will grind to a halt as the weather gets snowier and colder, and this can free up all lot of talented carpenters, bricklayers and drywall experts. This situation can work to your advantage because even in a tight labor market, bad winter weather can make it a lot easier to find qualified workers.

Loan Availability

If this were 2009, your chances of getting a home remodeling loan would have been greatly reduced. Banks had just been stung by Great Recession economic factors and government dictated tight lending standards, and they would only lend to the absolute most creditworthy customers. If you were not one of these, you would have been out of luck.

Today you can certainly tell the difference in the lending environment; you may receive several credit card offers in the mail weekly, and you will be greeted nicely at the bank if you’re in search of home remodeling money. Also, interest rates—although they have recently risen—are still very manageable.

Tight Home Resale Market

Home prices have risen sharply in many areas partly due to a lack of supply, and you may be tempted to put your home up for sale to cash in on this hot market. Any remodeling should of course be completed before you even contemplate selling your home.

If You Want to Rent

So, you received a great job offer in a distant city, you have to move, but you just aren’t ready to part with your beloved home. You’ve decided to rent it, cover the mortgage, and perhaps even pocket some extra cash. To do that and get a top rent, however, you’ll need to have your home in tip-top condition, so start and complete any remodeling projects now. And be sure to view trusted rent reports, like this one from Athens, Georgia for example, to make sure you know what price you can get.

You Have Time

Summer can be a busy time, and the last thing you may want is the disruption of a major remodeling project. The thought of tearing apart a room or repairing your mudroom may not be appealing during the winter either, but wouldn’t it be great if you were able to have all of this done before summer arrived?

You Really Need to Do It

If the pan has corroded in your upstairs bathroom and water is leaking through the kitchen ceiling, or if every time it rains you have a puddle on the living room floor, or if that greasy wooden paneling in your family room depresses you every time you walk past it, it probably is time to roll up your sleeves and get the job done.

Again, remodeling is a disruption, but if any of the above six situations apply to you, quit reading this article and start making plans to improve your space.

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Posted by Joseph     0 Comments Thursday, August 23, 2018
6 Tips to prepare Your Home or Apartment Exterior for Fall Weather

If you live in Delray Beach, FL, you don’t need to do much as much winterization as the folks in Chicago, IL. But If you have a place in upstate New York near Lake Erie, you may need to start getting ready now because even in a global warming environment, it is still going to be cold and snowy during the winter.

Those gray and cold winter days can be more tolerable if your house or apartment is warm and toasty on the inside and looks much brighter from the outside. Here are some tips to get started.

Windows

While it’s still nice outside, check your exterior windows for cracks and caulking gaps. Anything that will let cold air into your living space should be sealed. If you own your home, and are able, get up on the ladder on a warm and sunny day and get those windows into shape. If you live in an apartment, start talking to your landlord about necessary maintenance. No matter the price you pay for your apartment — $1,200 in Houston, Texas or $3,500 in New York City — your landlord must still take care of your maintenance needs. To make things easier, let your owner know where they can get all of the window hardware and materials they need to upgrade for the coming Fall and Winter weather.

House Numbers

The Fall weather can bring sometimes extremely low temperatures, along with weather that can wreak havoc on your exterior — specifically your house numbers. Don’t let the weather ruin the look of your entire home; we’ve talked before about the importance of curb appeal year-round.

Upgrade to solid brass house numbers. These professionally-made, heavier house numbers will hold up much better to extreme weather. We’ve all seen the houses with missing numbers or even home with numbers falling off of their house. Don’t be that homeowner; get prepared early as the Fall rolls in and upgrade your house numbers first. 

Thermostat

Consider getting a smart thermostat that will automatically regulate your daily heating and cooling. Did you know that one saved degree can equal a three percent savings on your utility bill? If you rent an apartment but are paying utilities, start talking to your landlord about getting smart.

Although this isn’t a product that lives on the exterior of your home, the smart thermostat can save you a fistful of dollars, so that you can spend a hit more on the most important exterior pieces; perhaps the all-important front door?

Doors

We all know that curb appeal and home exterior beauty oftentimes starts with the front door.

If your apartment is in a building with no exposed outside doors, you’re in good shape. If, however, you’re a homeowner and have a door to the outside, there is a TON you can do to prepare for bad weather. 

Start by picking out some great pieces to feature along with the actual door. You might consider:

·       A tough brass doorbell

·       A classic keypad deadbolt lock

·       A unique, rustic iron door knocker

There are a ton of awesome products that will stand up to colder weather. If you’re a homeowner, take some time to scope out the look and feel you want for your front door, as choosing high-quality, weather-tested products will save you money and keep your curb appeal looking exquisite in the cooler months.

The Patio

You might not plan to use the patio much during the Fall and Winter, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to keep things in order all throughout the year. You want everything to stand up to the weather, so that when Spring and Summer roll around, you’re ready to enjoy it! Plus, if you buy cheap products and expect not to buy another set after the weather destroys them, then you’re kidding yourself.

Don’t skimp on the details here. If you have poles and fences in your apartment or home patio, then make sure you get top-of-the-line caps and toppers that won’t wear down in extreme temperatures. Prepare in the fall and you’ll be ready to handle any weather that the Winter throws at you.

The Mailbox

Your wooden mailbox just isn’t holding up to the weather, now is it? How about an upgrade this Fall? If you’re sick and tired of replacing your mailbox each year, then we suggest you look into brass or steel mailboxes that will last through the test of time.

There are some really awesome stainless steel options that will help spruce up your curb appeal, while at the same time preparing your house or apartment for the upcoming Fall weather.
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Oak Park Home & Hardware specializes in lighting products in the spirit of Arts & Crafts, Mission, Prairie, Bungalow, English Tudor, Tudor Manor, and Spanish Revival styles.

We have developed unique relationships with many of our Craftsmen, and suppliers of products allowing customization for our customers. All at very competitive pricing!

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Oak Park Home & Hardware offer high quality lighting designs. We provide customized lighting solutions with manufacturers such as Arroyo Craftsman Lighting, Mica Lamp Company, 2nd Ave Lighting, and UltraLights Lighting.

We also offer quality lighting products with manufacturers such as Quoizel, James Mattson Coppercraft, and Lundberg Studios. Please check out our unique lighting designs in the style of Greene and Greene!

We offer handcrafted Mission style hardware, Craftsman style mailboxes, Arts & Crafts style house numbers and so much more. Please bookmark us!
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