Mitch Lichterman - TargetRate.com Santa Monica, California Real Estate


Most potential buyers for your home will have their first impression on the internet in the form of a photo gallery of your home. Therefore it’s essential to have quality photos that show off the size and features of both the interior and exterior of your house.

As smartphones are equipped with ever-improving built in cameras, taking decent photos of your home has never been easier. However, there are still a few basic photography techniques that you should keep in mind to get the best results.

In this article, we’ll give you some tips on shooting professional-looking photos of your home that will leave a good impression on potential buyers.

Lighting matters most

It may seem like most cameras these days adjust the exposure for poor lighting pretty well. However, if you’re taking photos in a dimly lit house, you can’t depend on your camera to fix the problem. When your camera or smartphone automatically adjusts the brightness of a photo you’re really losing photo quality.

You might have noticed pictures that appear grainy or pixelized. That is often because the photographer didn’t have enough light and allowed the camera to adjust. For best results, take photos in your home when the sun is high, open up the blinds and curtains, and turn on some ambient light in the room. A well-lit home looks much more inviting in photos than a dark one.

There’s only one other lighting tip you’ll need for taking quality photos of your home, and that’s to never use flash. Phone camera flashes can be good in a pinch if you’re not concerned with how a photo is going to look. But, it if you’re trying to take nice photos of your home a smart phone flash will likely ruin your photos. It will create a glare on any number if surfaces in your home and it will create an unnatural white-colored light that is typically unflattering.

Where you stand is important

You want to show off all of the features of your home, but you don’t want to have hundreds of photos in your gallery. To achieve this, it’s best to stand in a corner or against a wall to fit as much as possible into the frame.

Avoid holding the camera up over your head or kneeling down. Typically, when we see a home we see it from eye-level. Photos that are taken from a perspective that is unnaturally high up or low to the ground will appear strange and foreign to someone who is unfamiliar with your home.

Take a ton of photos

One of the most common pieces of advice amateur photographers receive is to shoot as many photos as they can. This helps you for two reasons. First, the more photos you take the more likely it is that there will be a few great shots. Second, shooting a lot of photos and then reviewing your work is the best way to learn what looks good and what doesn’t.

In a time where digital memory is cheap, there’s no reason to be economical with the number of photos you take.


Take advantage of special home loans if you're currently serving in the military or have served in the military. You could qualify for mortgage cost savings as an active duty member or as a reservist. Specific mortgage cost savings that you could qualify for include a zero down payment, low interest rates, a cap on how much you have to contribute to closing costs and foreclosure protection. However, serving in the military isn’t always a home loan savings slam dunk. Preparation and the right documents are important. So too are the following actions. Prepare to Meet and Negotiate with Mortgage Lenders Review your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Clear up discrepancies, including erroneous charges, collections and other late payments that you previously resolved. Pay down debt. Set a goal to pay off credit cards, especially high interest credit cards. Avoid opening new credit card accounts. Lenders are going to take a pulse on your overall financial health. High debts could indicate that you’d struggle to pay your mortgage should even one event change in your life. High interest credit cards could also lend the appearance that your credit isn’t good enough for you to qualify for low interest credit cards, so again, pay off high interest credit cards early. If you receive a housing allowance, provide this information to lenders. A housing allowance is a benefit that active duty military members receive but may overlook when applying for a home loan. Should your spouse and you both serve in the military, the combined amount of your monthly housing allowance should be higher than if you were single. Contact your military human resources department if you’re unsure how much you receive in a monthly housing allowance. Get your financial records in order, meaning that you get paper copies of bank or credit union statements, a copy of your Statement of Service, DD-214 (if you're retired), paystubs, tax returns and paperwork on existing loans including any small business loans you took out to start a company. Before you meet with lenders, determine how much house you can afford. Take advantage of online mortgage calculators. Factors to include in your calculations when you’re determining how much house you can afford are monthly homeowner’s insurance premiums, homeowner’s association fees (if they apply), the down payment you’re going to put on your new home, property taxes, repairs, closing costs and inspection fees. If you’re thinking about buying an older home, consider increasing the amount you’ll spend on repairs annually. Documentation together, it’s time to start the loan pre-approval process. Meet with lenders who are approved by the Veterans Administration to offer mortgage cost savings to retirees, reservists and active duty members. Do this before you meet with realtors, as getting pre-approved for a loan can yield you greater mortgage cost savings. Use your military housing allowance to prove your loan repayment power. Prepare to negotiate with lenders to get the best interest rates and mortgage premiums that you can. In addition to your financial records, other factors that lenders will review about you include your marital status and your length of service. Lenders may focus on whether you just joined the military, are soon to be discharged or if your military job requires you to relocate often.

Your mortgage isn’t the only expense that can put a hole in your wallet. There are several hidden costs that come with owning a home. If you’re not aware of these costs, they can sneak up on you and quickly put you in a position where you can no longer afford your home. However, if you are caught by surprise when these bills arrive, there are seven steps that you can take to reduce the costs.

7 easy ways to save money as a homeowner

Utility bills are one of the biggest expenses that you’re responsible for as a homeowner. If you’re like many Americans who own a house, included among your utility bills are electric, telephone, gas, water and cable bills. By themselves, these bills equally add up to $250 to $300 a month.

Save money on utility bills by cutting out a service that you don’t use or moving to a less expensive service provider. Other ways to save money on utility bills include moving to a lower priced telephone package and only paying for cable channels that you actually use.

Here are six more ways to save on home expenses:

  • Water your lawn during the evening. It helps the earth to absorb water better, eliminating the need to use more water during the heat of the day to keep your grass from turning brown.
  • Perform regular maintenance on your house. Clean the gutters and repair cracks in your driveway and sidewalk when you see them instead of letting these damages get so big that they cost you hundreds of dollars to fix.
  • Rid of pests immediately. Pests can chew through your walls and damage furniture.
  • Work with your homeowner’s association to have them care for property around your home. Don’t take these projects on yourself if you don’t have to.
  • Bundle your homeowner’s insurance with your auto and life insurance. Ask the insurance company agent to give you a discount based on where you work and how long you have been a customer. Some employer’s offer discounts on insurance to their employees.
  • Install your own security alarm system. Depending on where you live, a security system that you buy from a housewares store might do the trick.

Another way to save on the cost of owning a house

Regardless of where you live, property taxes will probably rise at some point. The best way to save on property taxes is during the home buying process. Ask your real estate agent to find you a house that’s located in a thriving area that doesn’t have an enormous property tax attached to it. Let your real estate agent do the legwork for you. Don’t just look for a house that’s located in an area that has reasonable property tax rates. Go with a house that’s in an area that doesn’t experience frequent property tax increases.

If you’re a first time homeowner, you might be shocked at the hidden costs of home ownership. The sooner you familiarize yourself with the additional costs,the sooner you can prepare to meet the expenses. Knowing about the hidden costs of owning a house could also prevent you from getting in over your head and taking on more mortgage than you can afford.


Especially if you’re starting in a room from scratch, it can be hard to figure out where you should place everything in a room. Your bedroom can be one of the most challenging rooms of the house to decorate. If you break down the room into small pieces, you can create a bedroom that’s right for you. Bedrooms need to hold more than just a bed. In today’s world, a bedroom can become a very multipurpose room.  


Think Of The Components Of The Room


Bedrooms tend to be more of a multi-functional in a home due to the shifting nature of families. You do everything in there from sleep to watch television to get dressed in the mornings and evenings. This means that you’ll need some or all of the following in your bedroom:


  • Storage for clothing
  • A comfy bed
  • A media Center  
  • A chair
  • Home office supplies
  • Bookshelf
  • Television stand

Whatever purpose that your bedroom has to serve is what you’ll need in the room. This all depends upon the size of your home. You’ll have to arrange the room accordingly after these parameters are set. Your bedroom should feel personal; a place of self expression and comfort. Your bedroom is the place where you can display little pieces of your life. These should include personal photos, antiques, and all of your favorite things. This helps to make your bedroom your own. It will become a peaceful sanctuary that you love.  

  

Focus On Function


If your bedroom is well-lit and well arranged, the room undoubtedly will be more comfortable. The easier it is for you to find things and use the room the way it needs to be, the more comfortable you’ll be. While your bedroom should look nice, it’s yours to use. Your bedroom is the room of the house that should provide the most comfort for you. 


Get Creative


When it comes to the way that you arrange your bedroom, you can get as creative as you want. If you’re short on space, don’t hesitate to push the bed against a window. If you’re tired of the same old same in the bedroom, shuffle the furniture around. If you ensure that you have adequate lighting and seating in the room, you can do anything with it!


Don’t Multipurpose The Room If You Don’t Have To


Although it’s nice to have access to everything in one room, bedrooms work best when they are singularly purposed. You’ll sleep better and get more rest if you keep things like computers and televisions out of the bedroom. You can easily arrange a bedroom when you keep your own desires at the heart of the design.


We’ve all had those times when we can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep. If you recently moved to a new home or if you’re on vacation, the new environment or mattress can make it difficult to fall asleep.

It’s even more frustrating when you’re in the comfort of your own home but are still having trouble sleeping.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips and habits you can build to help better your sleep. We’ll talk about ways to get to sleep on time, how to improve your sleeping habits, and how to sleep through the night.

Getting to bed on time

Most of us live busy lives that make it hard to unwind at the end of the day. Others simply have a hard time calling it quits on the show or movie they’re watching when they should be getting some sleep. Either way, it’s essential to build a good bedtime routine to make sure you’re falling asleep at an appropriate time each night.

To start, you’ll want to make sure you assign yourself a bed time. Though bed times seem like a rule for children, it can help adults vastly improve their sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning reinforces your body’s natural sleep cycle.

To ensure you go to bed on time, you can set a reminder or alarm on your phone for a half-hour before you need to be in bed. This will give you time to finish what you’re doing and get ready for bed.

There are also apps that will help you do this, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

Monitor your sleep

Sleep is deeply important to how we function throughout our day. A poor night’s sleep is a short-term hindrance, putting us in a bad mood or making it difficult to focus. But, in the long run, lacking sleep is a health risk that has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

The takeaway? We should all take sleep seriously. To do so, a good way is to monitor your sleep. One easy way is to download an app that does just that. For iPhone users, the pre-installed Bedtime feature (part of the Clock app) is a simple way to set reminders and gain insight into your sleeping habit.

A more thorough way to monitor your sleep is to keep a sleep journal or to buy a smartwatch that tracks your sleep for you. Regardless of your method, keeping tabs on your sleep quality will help you prioritize your health and wellness.

Quick tips for improving your sleep


  • Go to bed at the same time each time

  • Avoid bright screens (phone, TV, laptop) for an hour before bed

  • Read, knit, or do some other relaxing hobby before bed

  • Don’t eat for two hours before bed

  • If you can’t sleep, try listening to calming music or a guided meditation

  • If you’re a light sleeper, try wearing comfortable earplugs and an eye mask to bed





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