Category Archives: Brevard MLS

How to Buy a Home Without a 20% Down Payment

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But if you don’t happen to have that kind of cash on hand, you’re not alone. Quicken Loans Vice President of Capital Markets Bill Banfield notes that the most common barrier to homeownership isn’t being able to afford the monthly mortgage payment—it’s being able to save the down payment.

Thankfully, there are other ways to go about buying a home that don’t require you to put 20% down, like the following:

The Federal Housing Administration requires a down payment of only 3.5%. Compared to 20%, that’s pretty sweet—but these government-backed mortgages aren’t for everyone. To be eligible, you’ll need a decent credit score, of at least 580. Scores as low as 500 may qualify, but then you’ll need to put 10% down.

Another stipulation is that you’ll have to pay mortgage insurance, an extra fee that’s required on home loans where less than 20% has been put down. There are also limits on how much money you can borrow, with a minimum and maximum between 65% and 115% of the median home price in an area—on average between $271,050 and $625,000. Still, in spite of these restrictions, these loans are plentiful and a boon to home buyers, particularly those who are entering the housing market for the first time.

VA loans

If you or your spouse has served in the military, Uncle Sam has your back! You may quality for a Veterans Affairs loan, which requires 0% down and, unlike FHA loans, no mortgage insurance, since

To get a VA loan, you’ll need to present a certificate of eligibility, proving one of the following requirements:

  • 90 consecutive days of active duty during wartime (including from Aug. 2, 1990, to the present; see other qualifying dates), or 181 days during peacetime.
  • six years in the National Guard member or reserves.
  • You were wounded in service, even if you served for less than the specified time.
  • You’re a widow or widowers of a member of the military forces who died in action or from injuries suffered while on duty.

USDA rural development loans

The United States Department of Agriculture also offers 0% money-down loans to home buyers who qualify as having low or moderate income. And the threshold for “moderate” can be quite high depending on where you live; in San Francisco, it amounts to $141,000 for an individual.

And while eligible properties are typically in rural regions where space isn’t at a premium, this doesn’t necessarily relegate you to the sticks. A full 97% of the United States is covered under USDA loans; check whether any address or area is covered at USDA.gov.

State and local home buyer programs

The federal government isn’t the only one offering down payment assistance. In fact, there are 2,290 down payment programs across the country that offer financial assistance, kicking in an average of $17,766, according to one study.

Generally, these programs have income limitations and require you to take a home-buyer class. Find programs in your area on the National Council of State Housing Agencies website, or at the Down Payment Resource, which offers a calculator that can show you what you may be eligible for.

For information on our local Brevard County Downpayment Assistance program, follow this link to a previous post: 

First Time HomeBuyer Downpayment Assistance is BACK!- Atlantic RE Brokerage

Credit unions

You may be able to get a mortgage with no down payment or a limited down payment from a credit union—a nonprofit banking cooperative whose members can typically borrow at lower rates.

In order to qualify, you will probably have to meet limited income requirements—such as a maximum of 80% of the median area income. You’ll also need a decent credit score. But the policies can vary widely, so check. For instance, the San Francisco Federal Credit Union recently offered 100% financing for up to $2 million to borrowers with an average credit score of 747 and $219,000 income.

How to find down payment help in your area

Start by talking with a lender, mortgage broker, or your Realtor to determine not only what home you can afford, but also what programs and financial assistance you might be eligible for. You can also see how much home you can afford by punching your numbers into realtor.com’s mortgage calculator.

For information on our programs that offer less then 20% downpayment check out our previous post: 

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford


Author:   | Sep 26, 2016

Nichole Odijk-DeMario is a Chicagoland freelance writer whose work has appeared in local, national, and international outlets since 2007.

Quirky elements that can affect your home’s value

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Your home's valueBesides the obvious factors, there are some quirky elements that can affect your home’s value. Find out what they are. By Laura Agadoni 

Surprise! You might know more about real estate than you think. For example, you know that square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, and location determine home value: A 4,000-square-foot, five-bed, five-bath beachfront home for sale in Miami, FL, will almost always be worth more than a 2,000-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath home on a quarter-acre lot 20 miles inland.

But those obvious factors aren’t everything you need to calculate your home’s property value estimate. Other, less obvious features can negatively or positively come into play — features you might not have considered. Here are eight frequently overlooked (and not always fixable) things that, for better or for worse, can impact the value of your home.

1. The name of your street (really!)

People typically prefer the street they live on to have a name versus a number. It’s true nationwide (with the exceptions of New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA, where there is no difference, and Denver, CO, where numbers are favored). According to a study by Trulia, “street” is the least expensive address suffix by price per square foot, and “boulevard” is the most expensive.

2. Your house number

Ever heard of house numerology? This is the practice of assigning a single-digit number to your home based on its address. Let’s say your address is 1219 Main St. Add 1 + 2 + 1 + 9 to get 13. Then add 1 + 3. Your house would be 4: good for investments and security but bad for adventure and excitement. While this type of house numerology may be passed off as a superstition, buyers who subscribe to this theory may overlook potential homes because of their numerology calculations. However, whether or not you’re into numerology, house numbers do matter. If your address is 13 (a universally unlucky number), you might choose to price your home slightly less than your neighbor at number 12 did.

3. Sketchy neighbors

The closer you live to your neighbor, the more important it will be for your tastes, habits, and personalities to jibe with theirs. “In a condo, the last thing a potential buyer wants is to purchase a unit where the neighbors above are noisy or inconsiderate,” says Thomas Miller, who specializes in Washington, DC, real estate. Owners of single-family homes can thank fastidious neighbors with good taste to increase the values of all nearby homes. But, of course, the opposite is also true: “I know a homeowner who had great difficulty selling their home because their next-door neighbors constructed a giant memorial dedicated to Michael Jackson on the front lawn,” says Miller. The next time you want to complain about your homeowners’ association, picture that image.

4. Mature trees

Tree-huggers and environmentalists unite! It’s common practice for developers to cut down most of (or all!) the trees on a property to build homes. But mature trees almost always enhance property values. Still don’t believe it? Check out the National Tree Benefit Calculator to see the full benefits of planting specific types of trees. If you have the space, make a trip to your local nursery to discuss the best tree options for your home.

5. Crown moldings

If you’ve worked hard to select just the right neutral and serene paint color scheme that will probably attract the most buyers, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you neglect one important element: crown moldings. “People love crown moldings,” says Alexander Boriskin, a New York, NY, agent. “Of course, everyone loves high ceilings too,” he says. Although you can’t do anything about how high your ceilings are, you can put in crown moldings — even with lower ceilings. Just make sure they work with the scale of the room, and don’t veer too far into the trend zone.

6. Yankees paraphernalia

Yankees fans, relax. We’re not picking on just you. Although this anecdote from New Jersey real estate agent Kevin Lawton happens to be about the New York baseball team, you could insert any team here. “Everything in the home was Yankees,” he says. “[The sellers] even had carpeting in the family room that had baseballs on it.” The verdict? Many people were turned off, especially Red Sox fans. If you don’t want to alienate a potential buyer, you might want to stash the fan gear away while your home is on the market.

7. Starbucks

And Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. If you have any of those establishments close by, typically within a mile, up goes your property’s value. “Homes near Trader Joe’s have increased in value by an average of 40% since purchased,” says Chris Leavitt, a South Florida and New York, NY, agent and past star of the TV series Million Dollar Listing Miami. “Nearby Starbucks and Whole Foods Markets also enjoyed double-digit gains on home value.”

8. A death on the property

In some states, such as California, sellers must disclose whether there was a death on the property, which can be a deal breaker for some buyers. California agent Tracey Hampson once showed a home where a fatal drug overdose had occurred in the master bedroom. “On average, once the buyers found out there had been a death on the property, two out of five buyers that were interested suddenly said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’”

There’s even a name for a home someone died in: stigmatized. “It refers to a home that has been the site of a murder, suicide, or paranormal activity or haunting,” says Michigan agent Kelly Jo Choate. But even if your state doesn’t have a death disclosure requirement, certainly if someone asks, you should fess up. It’s the right thing to do.

 

Decorating Mistakes – Atlantic RE Brokerage

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Decorating Don'ts

Hey, we know: Moving into a new home is exciting. Like, obsess over decor blogs and catalogs, binge-watch HGTV for eight-hour stretches, find ways to interject phrases like “open kitchen shelving” into everyday conversations .exciting. So it’s understandable that you’re dying to start filling every corner with stuff as soon as you’ve unpacked your last box. Beware: Time and again, interior designers see overeager new homeowners make the same mistakes when furnishing their home. Big mistakes!  Read all about these Decorating Mistakes and tread carefully into your new space.

Mistake No. 1: Buying everything at once

Of course, you want to make those empty rooms look like home, sweet home, pronto. So you whip out your laptop and go on a mad room-by-room shopping spree for every stick of furniture from coffee tables to your canopy bed. 

But Mark Clement of MyFixItUpLife.com urges a completely different strategy: “Stop, sit down, get out a piece of paper, and plan.” Great decorating, he says, is about taking your time to think through the rooms. Make a list of what you need to furnish the whole house; then focus first on the two to three most important rooms—generally the more exposed parts of the house such as living room, kitchen, and family room. From there, proceed at a pace where you’re certain you love (or at least deeply like) each purchase you make.

It really is OK to take up to a year to decorate a new home. You’re going to be living there for a while, remember?

Mistake No. 2: Decorating around a legacy piece

It might be your mother’s armoire or that overstuffed chair your husband bought when he was still single, or maybe it’s a bookshelf you paid a ton of money for and wouldn’t consider tossing. Regardless, trying to decorate around some of these pieces will only cause you grief. Odds are they’ll push you into a certain layout or color scheme—even one that might be completely wrong for you or your new home.

I’ve personally been saddled with two wide, black Barcelona chairs for the past decade, creating a living room motif that is simply too dark and cluttered for the space. (Welcome to my pain.) What I should have done, according to experts, is place them in a different context (a bedroom, perhaps), sold them, or put them out on the street. Hello, Goodwill? 

Mistake No. 3: Trusting your ‘eye’ rather than a tape measure

Professionals know that measuring accurately is a critical step in design.  “Measuring a space is imperative before you purchase anything,” says Homepolish designer Will Saks. It’s not just a question of whether a piece of furniture will fit, but how it will look sitting there. “You need to understand the dimensions of a space so the scale will feel balanced,” Saks adds. 

Everything needs to be proportionate to the architecture of the room. “While a large, overstuffed Chesterfield might look great in the store, in a tiny apartment it might end up looking like a fat guy in a little coat,” says Saks.

And always remember to measure doorways and hallways before purchasing large pieces. There are few things more soul-crushing (or, for the delivery guys, more backbreaking) than lugging a sofa up six flights of stairs only to discover it doesn’t fit through the doorway. Most companies will give you the minimum clearance you need for delivery, but it’s up to you to ensure that it will truly fit. In most cases, it’s the height of a sofa that is the key measurement, not the width or depth.

Mistake No. 4: Cramming rooms like a clown car

Take a deep breath: It’s OK to have some empty spaces and walls. You want to be able to move around freely without having to hurdle a cocktail ottoman. Granted, while Saks maintains that “how much furniture you decide to put in a space is completely dependent on the aesthetic you want to achieve,” if you’re going for a more sleek look, stick to a few key pieces in a room to create the feeling of openness. The same goes for artwork—one large frame can create an art gallery feeling. 

Mistake No. 5: Looking like a page from a catalog or decor mag

Ah, it all looks so great in print, but in your home, it’s a different story.

“I know it’s tempting to want to buy everything all at once and from the same place—those catalogs and stores are styled so well,” says Saks. “But refrain from doing so. To me, the most interesting designs are the ones that are aesthetically mixed.”

His tips: Incorporate vintage or one-of-a-kind pieces into your space to make it feel personal and curated. Pair that spanking new sofa with a beautiful, vintage credenza. Shop for accessories and artwork on Etsy and at flea markets so that your home feels unique. Because as nice as catalogs look, ask yourself this: Do they look like a home? Like your home? 

Rosie Amodio is a writer/editor who has written for brands such as Self, InStyle, Wetpaint, and The Nest. A native New Yorker, Rosie is obsessed with NYC real estate, though she dreams of living on the beach in Southern California.

Contract to Close – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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Contract to close

Contract to Close

Contract to Close :  Keep Your Home Sale from Falling Apart

After finding a buyer, all you have to do to make it to closing is to avoid these five traps. Finding a buyer for your home is just the first step on the homeselling path. Tread carefully in the weeks ahead because if you make one of these common seller mistakes, your deal may not close.

By: G. M. Filisko

Mistake #1: Ignore Contingencies

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If the buyers make the sale contingent on certain repairs, don’t do cheap patch-jobs and expect the buyers not to notice the fixes weren’t done properly.

Mistake #2: Don’t Bother to Fix Things That Break

The last thing any seller needs is for the buyers to notice on the pre-closing walk-through that the home isn’t in the same condition as when they made their offer. When things fall apart in a home about to be purchased, sellers must make the repairs. If the furnace fails, get a professional to fix it, and inform the buyers that the work was done. When you fail to maintain the home, the buyers may lose confidence in your integrity and the condition of the home and back out of the sale.

Mistake #3: Get Lax About Deadlines

Treat deadlines as sacrosanct. If you have three days to accept or reject the home inspection, make your decision within three days. If you’re selling, move out a few days early, so you can turn over the keys at closing.

Mistake #4: Refuse to Negotiate Any Further

Once you’ve negotiated a price, it’s natural to calculate how much you’ll walk away with from the closing table. However, problems uncovered during inspections will have to be fixed. The appraisal may come in at a price below what the buyers offered to pay. Be prepared to negotiate with the buyers over these bottom-line-influencing issues.

Mistake #5: Hide Liens from Buyers

Did you neglect to mention that Uncle Sam has placed a tax lien on your home or you owe six months of homeowners association fees? The title search is going to turn up any liens filed on your house. To sell your house, you have to pay off the lien (or get the borrower to agree to pay it off). If you can do that with the sales proceeds, great. If not, the sale isn’t going to close.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who wanted a successful closing on a Wisconsin property so bad that she probably made her agent rethink going into real estate. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

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Get your Dream Home – Use a Buyer’s Agent – Atlantic RE Brokerage

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Buyers agentYou need a Buyer’s Agent if you want to purchase a home

Great homes are selling in days, even hours!    Without an expereienced Buyer’s Agent working for you, your chances are slim that you will get your dream home under contract.  You can drive around and call the names on the signs or you can HIRE A BUYER’S AGENT.

A Buyer’s Agent is a REALTOR that represents the Buyer.  When you see a property with a sign and a name on it, that REALTOR represents the Seller.  When you are thinking about purchasing a home, hire a REALTOR to represent YOU.  There is NO COST to you to hire a REALTOR to represent you in a home purchase.

Many people ask the question, ” If there is NO COST to me, the Buyer, then how does the REALTOR get compensated?”   A Buyer’s Agent is compensated only when you close on a home.   Generally speaking, the Seller agrees to pay a REALTOR commission at closing and it is built into the Seller’s Closing costs.   At closing, the REALTOR commission is shared between the agents.

Hiring a Buyer’s Agent is important and finding the right REALTOR can make the process much less stressful for you. A Buyer’s agent will be with you every step of the way.  The entire buying process generally begins with a consultation about your financing, what your needs are, and the features that you would like to have in your new home.  From there, your Buyer’s Agent will help you find the perfect property and then negotiate the price on your behalf.

Once the contract is executed the fun begins with a page full of deadlines for deposits, loan applications, inspections, surveys, approvals, etc. This is a time when you can really see the benefits of your REALTOR.

The moral of the story, when thinking of buying, find the best Buyer’s Agent you can and get ready for the ride of your life.

About Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage – Satellite Beach, FL

Laura D Hazlett has been a Florida Broker for over 8 years and in the Real Estate Management Industry for over 20 years. She is a proud mother of a college graduate (USF), is a graduate of University of Miami, and a successful business owner.  Laura’s no-nonsense approach to real estate makes transactions easy, because of her direct style of communication and her team of successful partners. Her husband, Mark, serves as the CFO and provides great insight for investors and commercial real estate enthusiasts.  You get a great team when you work with Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.

Laura has assembled a great team of Agents. Selected with professionalism and a concierge approach to clients and vendors, Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage Agents are the best in their field.  They are selective with their client base which proves to be an effective way to serve all clients with world-class service.

Why do I need a Pre-Approval Letter- Atlantic RE Brokerage

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Why do I need a Mortgage Pre-Approval Letter?

pre-approval

So, you are ready to buy a house, now what?  The first step in the entire process is to meet with a lender and obtain a mortage pre-approval letter.  Be sure to select a local lender with multiple great references.  Feel free to speak with more than one lender.  Your lender should be one you trust and comes highly recommended.

Pre Approval vs. Pre Qualification

A pre-approval letter is the result of a meeting with a lender where your credit was checked and documentation verified in order to give you a  “pre- approval” to obtain a loan of a specific amount.  The lender will also let you know the TYPE of loan(s) that you qualify for.   This is step one in the home buying process.  You can never skip step one in this process.

How much can you afford?

A pre-approval letter will let you know the maximum loan amount you can afford.  It is important that you know this before your home search so that you are searching homes in the correct price range.

How much do you want to pay monthly?

Your pre-approval letter will let you know the maximum loan amount you qualify for and the loan officer will review with you the monthly payment for that loan amount.  It is important to review your budget and goals to find a monthly mortgage amount that you are comfortable with.  If your are approved for an $1800 mortgage payment, but want to stay in the $1500 payment range , the lender can advise you on what price point you will want to focus your search on.

Required when making an offer on a home

A recent pre-approval letter signed by your loan officer will be required when you find your dream home and want to make an offer.  In today’s market you may actually be competing with another buyer to purchase your dream home, so having a pre approval letter is necessary when making an offer.  Many Sellers will not entertain an offer witout a Pre-Approval so in today’s market dont take a chance.

Next Steps

Once you have a pre approval letter in hand, then it is time to meet with your REALTOR and begin your home search !!  Your REALTOR will help you understand the dymanics of your specific maket.  For example, in our market here on the Space Coast right now, homes are selling very close to list price and often there are multiple offers.  It is important that you look at homes in your budget and not assume that the Seller will take an offer significantly lower then their asking price.  You will rely on your REALTOR to provide a market analysis of any home you are interested so that you will feel comfortable with your offer.

 

About Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage – Satellite Beach, FL

Laura D Hazlett has been a Florida Broker for over 8 years and in the Real Estate Management Industry for over 20 years. She is a proud mother of a college graduate (USF), is a graduate of University of Miami, and a successful business owner.  Laura’s no-nonsense approach to real estate makes transactions easy, because of her direct style of communication and her team of successful partners. Her husband, Mark, serves as the CFO and provides great insight for investors and commercial real estate enthusiasts.  You get a great team when you work with Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.

Laura has assembled a great team of Agents. Selected with professionalism and a concierge approach to clients and vendors, Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage Agents are the best in their field.  They are selective with their client base which proves to be an effective way to serve all clients with world-class service.

 

Binding Insurance in Hurricane Season – Atlantic RE Brokerage

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binding insurance in hurricane seasonBINDING INSURANCE IN HURRICANE SEASON

 

Home Buyers must put a high priority on binding insurance as soon as they go under contract on their new home.   During hurricane season, binding homeowner insurance needs to be put on the top of the to do list.

When purchasing a home with a loan, homeowners insurance (and possibly flood insurance) will be required by the lender for buyers to be able close on their new home.  No Insurance — No Closing.

When a named storm is approaching, insurance companies suspend writing new insurance  policies.  There are no laws as to those timeframes.  If a named storm comes close to Florida and a buyer has not secured their homeowners insurance, they can not close on their new home.  This is why we are including this task as one of the first three for home buyers to complete after going under contract.

Purchase Insurance Early

The first three things to do after going under contract are

  1.  Make formal loan application
  2.  Schedule inspection(s)
  3.  Speak with homeowner insruance provider(s) to get quotes

Connect the lender and the insruance agent right away

The lender will require insurance.  Once the required policy(s) are identified, shop insurance quotes.  Feel free obtain multiple quotes.  Once an insurance agent is selected, be sure to connect the  agent with the loan officer right away.    The most important thing is that all insurance requirements are met for the purposes of the loan.

About Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage – Satellite Beach, FL

Laura D Hazlett has been a Florida Broker for over 8 years and in the Real Estate Management Industry for over 20 years. She is a proud mother of a college graduate (USF), is a graduate of University of Miami, and a successful business owner.  Laura’s no-nonsense approach to real estate makes transactions easy, because of her direct style of communication and her team of successful partners. Her husband, Mark, serves as the CFO and provides great insight for investors and commercial real estate enthusiasts.  You get a great team when you work with Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.

Laura has assembled a great team of Agents. Selected with professionalism and a concierge approach to clients and vendors, Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage Agents are the best in their field.  They are selective with their client base which proves to be an effective way to serve all clients with world-class service.

Spring Cleaning Mistakes – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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spring cleaning

spring cleaning

If your first instinct is to open the windows and bring in the fresh air … Don’t do it.  The biggest spring cleaning mistake is just that, opening your windows and letting in the fresh air…  and the dreaded allergens that are rampant this time of year.

If you’re an allergy sufferer (and who isn’t?), that’s the last thing you want to do, says Dr. Neeta Ogden, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “It will allow pollen to settle in your home.”  If you really can’t skip that spring breeze, avoid opening them in the morning, pollen counts are highest in the morning; they decrease late in the day and at night.

 

And that’s not the only common spring-cleaning mistake homeowners make. Here are eight more to avoid:

1. Not Looking Up

You’ve worked up a sweat and everything’s starting to sparkle, but then you realize your ceiling fan is coated in dust. Uh, oh. Once you start wiping the fan, dust will scatter on what you’ve already cleaned. That’s why you should always look up to see what needs dusting before you start cleaning at eye level. Tackle hard-to-reach places like the tops of bookshelves, crown molding, and window ledges.

2. Starting to Clean Without a Plan

You wake up motivated — today you’re going to get all your spring cleaning done! But by noon, your house is in disarray, and not one single room is finished. Ugh. That’s why Briana Norde, owner of Caliber Cleaning Inc. says it pays to break up the biggest cleaning project of the year into smaller, more manageable tasks.

She recommends conquering your hardest job first, like the kitchen, which she calls the “most time-consuming room.” With that first accomplishment under your belt, you’ll have the momentum to take on the remaining tasks. The key is to give yourself plenty of breaks. And there’s nothing wrong with spreading it out over several days.

3. Ignoring That Weird-Looking Vacuum Attachment

Don’t let your carpet hog the vacuum. The crevice tool, Norde says, “is not used nearly enough.” Use it between your wall and refrigerator to get out the accumulated dust that’s otherwise unreachable, and run it around the edge of your baseboards to clean where standard upright vacuums can’t reach.

4. Skipping the Mattress

Think of how much time you spend in your bed. Yet, you probably clean the top of your fridge more often than your mattress. Your mattress harbors millions of dust mites, which cause various respiratory conditions including sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes (not to mention just being plain gross).

“[Dust mites’] food is human skin scales, so the bed is just heaven for them,” says Ogden.

She recommends using a vapor steam cleaner to root out the itchy devils, then wrapping it in an anti-allergen mattress protector.

At the very least, sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and let it sit for awhile. Then (using the attachment mentioned above) vacuum it up.

5. Relying on Harsh Cleaners

There’s a reason many commercial cleaners have the words “danger,” “hazard,” or “caution,” on their labels. Something in the ingredients is toxic in one form or another, and most all could aggravate allergies and asthma. So, “don’t go crazy with cleaners you don’t need,” says Ogden. Moldy bathrooms may scream for bleach, but most surfaces do not. Ogden recommends making your own solution of water and vinegar (use a fifty-fifty ratio), which will keep most surfaces clean and germ-free.

6. Using Chemical Air Fresheners

You want your home to smell fresh, so it’s tempting to reach for that mountain-rain-spring-fresh-scent in a can. But aerosol air fresheners contain high levels of toxic pollutants like phthalates, which can affect hormone levels, cause reproductive abnormalities, and increase allergies and asthma. Yikes. Try homemade (and less-expensive) alternatives, such as potpourri, or essential oils and water in a spray bottle.

7. Leaving the Clutter

All of the spring cleaning tips and advice are useless if you don’t declutter first.

“We tend to not clean well around clutter,” says Ogden. “You’re not going to reach the dust there.”

Make sure toys are put away, books are back on the bookshelf, and paperwork is filed before you begin the cleaning process. Otherwise, you’re leaving room for dust and pollen to hide — making spring cleaning all for naught.

8. Treating It Like a Chore

If you dread spring cleaning, this should make you feel better: a Harvard study found those who treated cleaning as beneficial exercise saw a decrease in weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and more. That’s what we call a trifecta: living in a clean home, breathing allergy-free air, and feeling great!

Jamie Wiebe is a writer and editor with a focus on home improvement and design. Previously, she worked as a web editor for “House Beautiful,” “ELLE Decor,” and “Veranda.”