3 Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Your Property

Clever landscaping can make even a humble home look like a mansion. It immediately makes a home more attractive and it can provide functional benefits for the people that live there. There are even a few simple techniques that can have a big impact without demanding extensive or expensive maintenance work from the owners.

Focus on Usable Space

The most efficient way to improve a home’s landscaping is to focus on the areas and improvements that people will use. Simply providing a clear space with a little bit of stone on the ground and some outdoor furniture on top of it is a good starting point. It will serve as a place to hold parties or just eat outside, and the simplicity of the design means that it won’t demand much care. That provides a big boost to the owner’s quality of life without a significant investment.

Rely on Mulch

Gardens are a great way to beautify a lawn. The plants will need some care in order to thrive, but they don’t need as much as many people believe. The trick is to apply a layer of mulch around them, or even to plant them in a bed of mulch instead of grass. Most weeds will struggle to grow in the mulch, which spares gardeners the effort of pulling weeds by hand and the expense of spraying herbicides to kill them. In the long run, the mulch will also break down and provide nutrients to the growing plants. Every plant has its own needs, so it’s best to do some research on each species to figure out how much mulch is appropriate prior to planting.

Use Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is a set of techniques that exist to cut down on the water used in landscaping. The most basic method is to replace parts of a lawn with stone, sand, and other inorganic materials. That cuts down on the amount of time that the owner has to spend watering the lawn to help the grass to grow. It also reduces the need to mow the lawn, and ensures that the grass won’t dry out or wilt due to bad weather. There are also environmental benefits from saving water. This is an ideal choice for those living in hot and dry areas, but anyone can benefit from a bit of xeriscaping.

Landscaping a property is an important, yet often overlooked, part of improvement. Whether selling, renting, or landscaping for your own benefit, these tips are a great starting point for a low-maintenance outdoor space.

This article was originally published on jasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Real Estate Investment: Choosing Your Niche

The road to success is easier for real estate investors who select a niche and become an expert in that area. Deciding which niche to choose depends on the investor’s interests, resources, and financial goals. Here are the benefits and drawbacks of common real estate niches.

Single-Family Homes

Since single-family homes make up about 60 percent of the housing in the United States, it’s an obvious niche to consider. Single-family homes are easy to finance because they don’t require commercial loans. However, sometimes rents on single-family properties aren’t sufficient to cover the investor’s monthly costs. Investors also need to plan on carrying the mortgage when the home is vacant.

Small Multi-Family

Some investors choose buildings with two to four units because they can live in one unit and rent out the rest. Small multi-family properties are often easy to finance because most banks use the same standards as loans for single-family homes. Vacancies aren’t as problematic as they are with single-family homes. When a tenant moves out, the investor still has rental income from the remaining units.

Small Apartments

Apartment buildings with five to 50 units generally fall into the category of small apartments. Investors will find less competition because large companies aren’t interested in these properties and they aren’t affordable for many individual investors. Also, small apartments are financed according to commercial lending standards. Managing a small apartment building is labor intensive. Investors may need to consider the additional cost of hiring a property manager.

Large Apartments

Buildings that have over 50 units usually sell for millions of dollars. They may feature amenities like a swimming pool, a gym, or a concierge. Large apartments can be a passive investment since a paid staff takes care of the property. In addition to rent, large apartments often have some amenities offered to tenants at an additional cost, such as a parking space or storage space. Some investors purchase large apartments in a partnership with other investors. Sometimes these properties are owned by REITs (see below).


Investors in real estate investment trusts (REITs) purchase shares of a commercial real estate portfolio. Some REITs own various types of commercial properties. Others specialize in an asset class like shopping centers, hotels, or office buildings. REITs pay dividends to shareholders and are a completely passive investment. The income potential is not as great as that of hands-on investment niches, but it requires relatively little effort.

There are dozens of ways to invest in real estate, but these options are some of the most popular. One size doesn’t fit all, but knowing how hands-on of an investor you’d like to be is the first step in deciding your niche.

This article was originally published on jasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Tips for Selling a Home in the Spring

Early Spring is without question the best time of the year to sell a home. The first two weeks of May correlate with the highest real estate selling prices during the calendar year, so you should target this window of time to list your home if you want to maximize your profit while selling in the warmer weather.

The reason why prices spike during May is the fact that many buyers are starting to look for a home to purchase during the spring. Many buyers don’t want to look at homes during the winter, and those with kids often want to plan their move for after the school year ends. Because of this, the market is saturated. The higher the concentration of potential buyers, the higher your home is inevitably going to sell for, assuming there’s competition.

When it comes to selling a home, there are a few things you should do to prepare the property. Winter is a good time to get your home fully inspected by a professional, which will give you a good idea as to what needs to be repaired. It is unwise to list a home that has damage, so it is critical to address any repairs that need to be taken care of. Not only is it necessary to make any necessary repairs, but you should also think about implementing some strategic renovations to maximize your resale value.

Renovating a home before a sale can put a ton of additional money in your pocket when your home actually sells. Many people are looking for things such as new appliances and granite countertops. The costs that are associated with making these types of renovations pay huge dividends when it comes to the increase in equity your home will experience. Not only are these types of renovations proven to increase equity dramatically, but your home is also going to be a lot more appealing to potential buyers. This is likely going to increase the number of offers you receive on your home, which should lead to your home being sold for a greater amount of money.

Curb appeal is also something that should be on your mind. The better you can make your home appear to the eye, the more interest your home is going to generate. The first impression means a lot, but the interior must live up to expectations, as well.

It is a great idea to hire a professional to stage your home, both inside and out. Having your furniture laid out correctly and obtaining professional photographs will go a long way when it comes to sparking interest from potential buyers who see your online listing.

This article was originally published on jasonCohenPittsburgh.org.