Category — Real Estate News & Tips

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional Before Entering the Market!

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite the adventure. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO,’ but it’s not as easy as it may seem. That’s why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal!

The 5 reasons you need a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates and home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. So you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 230 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to ensure you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start in order to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you its true value. According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than the prices of similar properties sold by real estate agents:

FSBOs earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less on the sale of their home than sellers who work with a real estate agent.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional!

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?

 

Written By KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2018/08/07/5-reasons-to-hire-a-real-estate-professional-before-entering-the-market/

August 8, 2018   No Comments

Clever Ways To De-Stinkify Your Home

Nobody wants a stinky house. Whether you getting ready to list your home for sale or you just want a fresher smelling place every day, there are numerous methods you can use. Of course, many of them involve some sort of financial commitment and a shopping cart full of products. But, natural methods and items you already have around the house can be especially effective – and cost-effective!

Hit the liquor cabinet

According to “cleaning expert and best-selling author” Linda Cobb, a homemade air freshener is “perfect for getting rid of odors in the bathroom, bedroom, or anywhere else in your home,” said Grandparents.com. Cobb puts a combination of water, “10-20 drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus, citrus, or lavender, and vodka” into small decorative spray bottles that she places all over the house “Vodka is the secret ingredient,” she said. “It soaks up the smell and evaporates quickly.”

Stock up on vinegar

  • This versatile liquid can work wonders in your home…and not just as a dressing on your salad! Here are just a few ways you can use it to absorb odors and leave your home smelling fresh.
  • Pour it down your drain to help get rid of bad food smells.
  • Add it to your laundry. It can neutralize musty smells (and even get musty smells out of your washing machine, especially if yours is front-loaded!).
  • Need to soak up some smells after cooking a meal? It can actually deodorize an entire room. “Just stick a bowl of vinegar in the corner, and after a few hours that odor will be gone,” said Lifehacker. For lingering odors that are giving you fits, try this: “Pour about a cup of white vinegar in a sauce pan on your stove top and bring it to a simmer. The simmering vinegar will release more odor-fighting power into the air, and if you let it go for a while.”

Pet odors

If you have pets, you have some sort of pet odors. You may not notice them because you’ve become so accustomed to the scent of your own home, but visitors probably get a whiff upon arrival. If we’re talking cat, there are a few obvious steps you can take, like changing the cat litter more often or relocating the box into an enclosed space like an extra closet or garage. Or, you can make a nifty enclosure like one of these. For urine on floors and upholstery, a black light is the best way to pinpoint any areas that need extra attention.

Stinky shoes

This is a serious offender if you have teenage boys or athletes – or both. Those tennis shoes can emit such a stink that you may be tempted to just throw them out the window. But, try these tips instead. “A natural chemical element, baking soda has the ability to absorb both spots, as well as odors and moisture and is therefore the best trick to eliminate the bad smell from your shoes,” said Step to Health. “You just have to drop a tablespoon of baking soda into each shoe, in the insoles. Sprinkle well and let it work overnight. You’ll see how the next morning they seem like new shoes.” For really problem odors, add a tablespoon of cornstarch and five drops of tea tree oil to the baking soda.

A combination of baking soda and coffee filters is also effective, and so is black tea bags. “The use of black tea bag can effectively make your shoes odor free as it contains tannins that kill the odor-causing bacteria in the shoes,” said My Health Tips. “And at the same time the smell of the tea leaves will absorb the bad odor of the shoes. Put four already used and dried tea bags into the shoes and leave overnight.”

Lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels can also do the trick. Instead of throwing them out, put them in smelly shoes overnight to eliminate odors.

Repurpose your coffee grounds

Let that cup ‘o Joe do double duty. “Fresh or leftover coffee grounds will also absorb unpleasant odors in a fridge, microwave, or cupboard,” said the Farmer’s Almanac.

“They’ll also sweeten the air inside your car or its trunk. For use in the car, place the grounds in a covered plastic container with holes punched in the lid.”

Clean your disposal

Food smells can linger in there, making the whole kitchen seem funky. Running “lemon or lime rinds through the disposal, followed by lots of water,” can help,” said Good Housekeeping. “If the smell persists, pour in a 1/2 cup of baking soda while running warm water.”

July 16, 2018   No Comments

Rising Interest Rates Have Not Dampened Demand

Rising Interest Rates Have Not Dampened Demand

Since the beginning of the year, mortgage interest rates have risen over a half of a percentage point (from 3.95% to 4.52%), according to Freddie Mac. Even a small rise in interest rates can greatly impact a buyer’s monthly mortgage payment.

First American recently released the results of their quarterly Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), in which they surveyed title and real estate agents across the country about the impact of rising rates on first-time homebuyers.

Real estate professionals around the country have not noticed a slowdown in demand for housing among young buyers; nearly 93% of all first-time homebuyers last quarter were between the ages of 21-35, with the largest share of buyers (51%) coming from those ages 26-30.

First American’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming had this to say,

“On a national level, mortgage rates would need to hit 5.6%, 1 percentage point above the current rate, before first-time homebuyers withdraw from the market.”

So, what is slowing down sales?

According to the last Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, sales are now down 3.0% year-over-year and have fallen for the last three months. If rising interest rates aren’t to blame, then what is?

Fleming addressed the cause, saying that:

“The housing market is facing its greatest supply shortage in 60 years of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The ongoing housing supply shortage will make it difficult for first-time buyers to find a home to buy, even when they are financially ready.”

Bottom Line

First-time homebuyers know the importance of owning their own homes and a spike in interest rates is not going to keep them from buying this year! Their biggest challenge is finding a home to buy!

Written By: KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2018/07/11/rising-interest-rates-have-not-dampened-demand/

July 13, 2018   No Comments

Top 5 Landscaping Tips to Increase Property Value

landscaping tips home

 

Landscaping is one of the most important ways to increase your property’s value quickly. In fact, a gorgeous landscape design can increase the value of your home by at least 5 to 11 percent—and maybe more. The best part about landscaping is that even though it’s one of the most valuable home improvements you can make, it’s also one of the easiest. If you’re wondering how to turn your landscape into one of your home’s most valuable assets, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Match Landscape to Your Home’s Style

The best way to get an excellent return on investment with landscaping is to make sure it fits with your home’s style. For instance, if you own a Victorian home, a Japanese garden will be sorely out of place and may even lower your home’s value rather than add to it. In this instance, you’re much better off with a country or cottage-style landscape that blends in with the old-fashioned formality of your home.

The same holds true for more modern home styles, such as the prairie or industrial style. If your home falls into one of these categories, you’ll want to stay away from square, formal gardens or a profusion of airy blooms. Instead, create a more modern landscape by relying on plenty of greenery and natural-looking beds that fit the contours of your property.

2. Design With a Strategy in Mind

You’ll need to have a good strategy. That means you shouldn’t clutter the entire yard with various high-maintenance plantings, but you also shouldn’t have plain grass with no landscaping. A study by the Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture found that a good foundation planting along with a couple of well-designed points of interest can increase your home’s value by up to 42 percent.

By that same token, you should encourage diversity among your plantings without taking it too far. The ideal landscape has a good mixture of shrubs and perennials, but it doesn’t have one of every kind of plant that you can find at the garden center. Instead, it has a uniform look with just enough diversity to make it interesting, but not so little that it becomes boring.

3. Achieve Seasonal Balance

A profusion of spring blooms won’t interest potential buyers who look at your home during other parts of the year. Think about ways to make your landscape attractive all year — blooming bulbs for spring, annual beds around the house during the summer, shrubs with brightly colored leaves in the fall, and evergreens for the winter. Even though most buyers will be looking at your home during one season, they’ll notice the balance you’ve created and they’ll think about how beautiful the home will be as the seasons change.

Related Link: 7 Exterior Home Improvements That Increase Resale Value

4. Plant Trees

A few simple trees can make an enormous difference to the sale price of your home. In one study, simply living on a tree-lined street added between 10 to 15 percent to the sale price compared to neighborhoods with fewer trees. So why are trees worth so much? Trees remove carbon dioxide and pollution from the air, so people view them as an eco-friendly option. The shade helps keep neighborhoods and homes cooler and more pleasant, which in turn cuts air conditioning costs. Trees are also a stress reliever — people enjoy relaxing in their shade or gazing at the leafy view.

5. Edge Your Lawn

Few things look nicer than a healthy, vibrant, carefully maintained lawn — except for a lawn that is all of those things and neatly edged. The confined look of an edged lawn gives it an easy-to-maintain look. In other words, no weed whipping or weeding required.

Edging along driveways, sidewalks and garden beds also shows prospective buyers how meticulous you have been concerning the property’s upkeep. They’ll know that if you’re willing to keep the edges of your yard looking nice, the rest of the property is likely in pristine condition, too.

Of all improvements to boost home value, landscape is one that will get you the largest return on your investment.  Just make sure that you design your landscape with a plan, and don’t let that design become so complex that the mere thought of all the maintenance chases away your buyers.

Rick Ryan is the president and owner of All Valley Landscaping. Rick is a certified expert in the construction industry, with more than 21 years of experience in landscape renovations, yard renovations and exterior home, tree trimming and removal services and sprinkler repair and installations.

Written By Rick Ryan

Source: http://blog.rismedia.com/2015/top-5-landscaping-tips-to-increase-property-value/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email#close

 

July 6, 2018   No Comments

Where Does Dust Come From? And How Do You Battle It?

Where does dust come from? You may be wondering that after wiping a fine layer off the coffee table you swear you just cleaned the day before. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or the burbs, dust will find its way into your home—and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Where does dust come from?

Dust is a combination of very fine, dry particles of matter found in the local environment. These particles are lighter than air and become visible only when they accumulate.

The vast majority of household dust is composed of the following:

  • Dead skin cells: Gross but true, we all naturally shed to generate new skin.
  • Pet dander: Like humans, pets naturally shed their skin.
  • Textile fibers: Your carpets, bedding, and clothing simply break down over time.
  • Dust mites and insect droppings: OK, now we’re really grossed out. Microscopic arachnids feed on human skin cells and release droppings.

Dust found outdoors is primarily made up of elements carried by the wind, including the following:

  • Soil or plant pollen: These are especially prevalent in spring.
  • Pollution: This heavy, black dust comes from the output of diesel fuel.
  • Mold spores: These come from soil and decaying vegetation.

Areas commonly missed during dusting

No matter how many feather dusters or sweeper mops you keep on hand, it’s impossible to completely rid your home of dust. Keeping windows and doors shut may prevent more dust from coming in, but it also prevents dust from blowing out. Your best defense is to dust once a week, especially in hidden or hard-to-reach areas.

Here’s a list of areas most people forget to clean.

Fans: Be it an oscillating fan, box fan, or ceiling fan, fan blades are a beacon for dust collection, says Kelly McClenahan, a storage and organizational expert at Price Self Storage. Carefully run a damp cloth over each blade to clean it.

Heating and cooling vents: Floor and ceiling vents are very susceptible to excessive dust. And, yes, this can contaminate the air you breathe. Clean the outside of vents by placing a damp cloth over your finger and running it over the vent and any slats. Clean inside air vents by rubbing your vent registers with a dryer sheet.

Houseplants: Your favorite ficus will accumulate some amount of dust over time, especially if it has larger leaves. You want to be delicate with the leaves, so use a hair dryer on the low and cool setting to blast off dust, says Rae Dolan, a real estate agent in Katy, TX.

In addition to getting clean, the plants will perk up after a good dusting because they will be able to absorb more sunshine.

Media players and devices: Dust on an electronic device equals problems because it can get into circuits, accumulate on sensors, and disrupt the flow of electricity. Use a microfiber towel to wipe down your electronics. To reach inside the nooks and crannies, use cotton swabs and a spray cleaner that’s safe for electronics.

Smoke alarm: Homeowners should clean their alarms once a year to keep them in good working order. Use compressed air or a vacuum cleaner hose to clean the openings around the alarm’s perimeter. Then wipe the outside with a cloth moistened only with water, as cleaners may damage the alarm.

Bathroom tiles: Yes, there is such a thing as “towel dust.” Towels tend to shed fluff, which sticks to the walls in a humid bathroom. Wipe down bathroom walls with a dry microfiber towel while the room is still damp.

Under area rugs: “You might be surprised by what is being collected under the living room rug,” says McClenahan. “You’ll find textile fibers, skin cells, and even soil from shoes.”

Be sure to vacuum underneath all rugs on a regular basis.

Blinds: Whether you have miniblinds, accordion blinds, or slat blinds, they can benefit from a good dusting. Try putting a sock over your hand and running it horizontally over each slat.

Outlet covers: If left full of dust long enough, they can develop a dirty-looking film. To clean them, remove the covers and wipe them down with soap and water. Let them dry thoroughly before putting them back on the wall.

Written By:

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/where-does-dust-come-from/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest

 

June 28, 2018   No Comments

Annuals and Perennials: What’s the Difference? Flower Facts You Ought to Know

What’s the difference between annuals and perennials? If you’re a novice gardener, you’ve probably asked yourself that question when picking out flowers at your local garden store.

Annual and perennial are classifications based on the lifespan and bloom cycle of a particular flower. It’s something that gardeners need to pay particular attention to so they can make sure their blooms thrive.

Annuals and perennials bloom at different times and need to be maintained differently, so be sure you know what type of flower you’re planting before putting it in the ground (or flowerbed, or pot).

What kind of plants should you choose? We’re here to help you decide. Dig in to discover everything you ever wanted to know about annuals and perennials.

Annuals and perennials: What’s the difference?

The biggest difference is the length of time these two types of flowers live: Annuals last only one year and perennials come back every year.

Annuals produce constant color, while the blooming period for perennials is short (just six to eight weeks). And maintaining annuals is far less demanding than perennials, which require more work and are better prospect for active gardeners.

Annuals offer color

Annuals expend all of their energy in a single year, which gives them brighter colors, says Mark Ruibal of Ruibal’s Plants of Texas. But this also means they have a shorter lifespan. However, some annuals planted in the spring will make it all the way through the summer—it just depends on the type of flower.

While annuals look great in just about any garden on your property, a popular place to plant them is near the front porch, where their bright colors create curb appeal. Plus, you can change your color scheme once a year!

Not sure which annuals to plant? Our experts recommend starting with these:

  • Angelonia
  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Calibrachoa
  • Coleus
  • Dragon wing begonia
  • Impatiens
  • Marigolds
  • Petunia
  • Torenia
  • Vinca

Note: Depending on your location, some of these annuals might be considered perennials. So, it’s best to read the plant’s tag and talk to your garden center expert about which blooms will thrive in your climate.

Perennials come back each year

Perennials will bloom in their peak season and then go back to green. You can divide your perennials into three seasons of blooms, Ruibal says—spring, summer, and fall—so you always have a portion of the perennials in peak form. That also means you’ll have a garden that encourages pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all year round.

Perennials are a better choice if you have the time and patience to maintain them. They have spreading roots that usually require more water and fertilization than annuals, and regular pruning is also a must. They can also get damaged during an unusually wet winter, so you need to make sure there’s good drainage; otherwise, the flowers’ roots will rot.

“That’s the biggest problem for why mums don’t come back,” says Rick Effinger of Effinger Garden Center in Belleville, IL.

Here are some perennial suggestions:

  • Astilbe
  • Butterfly weed
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Dianthus
  • Fern
  • Hardy geranium
  • Hardy hibiscus
  • Heuchera
  • Hosta
  • Milkweed
  • Mum
  • Nepeta
  • Sedum
  • Shasta daisy

Tips for planting

Before adding plants to your garden, check the plant’s tag for information about sunlight and height. Figure out how much light your yard gets (specifically the area you want to plant in) and then choose plants accordingly.

Some thrive in the direct sunlight. Others like partial sun, while still others prefer the shade.

Also, look at the eventual height of that plant to make sure it fits your garden. You don’t want a plant to take over your garden and leave full sun plants in the shade. If you get a tall perennial, put it in the back of the bed with shorter items in front so that they can enjoy the sun, says Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, MO.

No matter what type of flower you plant, you must make sure to put them in the right soil. This means preparing your beds before planting.

You should turn over the soil and add compost or fertilizer.

“You want to make sure your bed is nice and loose, so more nutrients get to the roots,” Ruibal says.

Then try adding time-release fertilizer to the soil, so your plants will get a continuous stream of nutrients.

Mulch your garden after you plant. Adding mulch helps with irrigation, prevents weeds, and protects the plants’ roots during extremes of temperature.

Should you plant annuals or perennials?

Annuals and perennials are about the same price, so cost doesn’t need to be a factor in helping you decide what to plant.

Think about your garden’s goal: If you want a splash of color, go with annuals. If you’re going to tend to your garden, enjoy bringing cut flowers inside, and want to welcome back your plants each year, decide on perennials.

Selling your house in the near future? Effinger recommends planting a healthy dose of colorful annuals and throwing down a fresh half-inch of mulch.

“Color drives everything,” he says. “Color sells houses.”

Of course, you can always add both annuals and perennials to your garden. Going that route creates a well-rounded garden of color and yearly staples.

“Mixing both annuals and perennials gives you the best of both worlds,” McDonald says. “Constant color, great pollination options, and reduced yearly planting expenses.”

Written By

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/annuals-and-perennials-difference/

 

June 19, 2018   No Comments

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape (i.e. it’s decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul), you might think it’s ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldn’t expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when you’ve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But don’t be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn’t take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely won’t be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors’ yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.

Animals

While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing (unless there are severe allergy issues), they don’t want to see – and, especially, smell – evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You don’t have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.

Cobwebs

Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers don’t nitpick and find a reason to question the home’s condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? That’s what real buyers do, and if they can’t picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or it’s oddly configured – blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance – you’re keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

“Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when you’re selling a house it’s important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A home seller can do this by decluttering, lighting up the room and especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.” You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. It’s not snooping (at least, we hope it’s not snooping!) – it’s an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one “junk drawer,” but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. “Whether it’s a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your home’s closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers,” said Apartment Therapy. “Box up off-season apparel – or better yet, donate it – and remove extra hangers so yours looks spacious and streamlined.”

Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, they’re much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice/item/1017399-20180521-9-silly-little-things-that-could-be-sabotaging-your-home-sale?rtmpage=goodalemillerteam

May 22, 2018   No Comments

5 Smart, Easy Ways To Add Smart Home Technology To Your Place

Has technology passed your home by? It’s never too late to update it. Whether you just want to bring the home’s function into this century for your personal use or are looking to put it on the market, incorporating some smart home items is, well, a smart strategy.

“The stock advice for homeowners putting a house on the market used to go like this: Give the exterior, or the front door, a fresh coat of paint; tame unruly shrubs; and swap out a few light fixtures. But today’s homebuyers are expecting a little more,” said Consumer Reports. According to Coldwell Banker’s latest annual smart-home survey, most potential homebuyers want smart-home tech preinstalled.”

Specifically, “Seventy-seven percent want smart thermostats, 75 percent want smart smoke detectors, 66 percent want smart home security cameras, and 63 percent want smart locks, to name a few.”

Smart thermostats

Not only will a smart thermostat make your air conditioner function better and make your house more comfortable, it will save you money in the process. “With a smart thermostat, easily control the temperature in your home from a central control panel, with the sound of your voice, or using your mobile device,” said Vivint. “Combined with a smart assistant that intuits and learns your preferences and behaviors, your thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature – saving you valuable time, energy, and money.”

The Nest Thermostat is one of the most popular options on the market. It “currently costs $249 but projects an average savings of around $173 per year,” said UpNest. We also love the ecobee because it has multiple sensors. The latest version, the ecobee4 ($249), also has built-in Amazon Alexa.

Smart door locks

There are lots of smart door locks out there, which eliminate the need for a key and replace it with a keypad and code that are used for entry. But, we love this August Smart Lock, which takes smart home capabilities up a notch.

“This battery operated device sells for $199, and communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth,” said Nerds on Call. “When the Smart Lock identifies your Bluetooth signal approaching, it unlocks your door, and can lock it behind you if you choose that setting. It also allows you to set up virtual keys for guests, with the ability to grant access for only certain dates and times for each key. The activity log keeps track of when each unique user comes and goes. Perhaps the best part about this smart home upgrade is that it goes over your existing lock, meaning that you can have strong security and an intelligent lock. If you choose, you can pair the Smart Lock with the ‘August Connect’ for $79, which lets guests in and locks the door behind them. The Connect also grants real time status of locked or unlocked, and alerts you instantly when somebody comes or goes.”

The August Smart Lock Pro is also a Consumer Reports fave. “We tested the previous-generation August Smart Lock and found that it offers a wealth of smart features that potential homeowners will appreciate,” they said.

Video doorbell

The humble doorbell has come a long way in the past few years,” said Business Insider. “Gone are the days when all a doorbell would do is alert you to the fact that someone’s at the door. These days, doorbells can connect to your Wi-Fi network to offer enhanced home security with built-in cameras and microphones. Of all the doorbells you can buy, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 (currently $199) is our top pick because it doesn’t have to be hard wired and it has an excellent 1080p camera.”

Smart smoke detectors

If you’ve ever dealt with a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night, this product should thrill you. But, of course, knowing your family is safe is obviously your No. 1 priority. And why not save a little money at the same time, right?

“Another smart technology product, the smart smoke detector, could not only save you money (approximately 5% on your insurance premiums), but could even save your life,” said UpNest. “One 2014 CBS news report cites a figure of 2/3 of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled — which is something many of us have resorted to at one time or other out of sheer frustration when our typical ‘dumb’ detector insists on shrieking an alarm every time we try to fry up some bacon. A smart detector will allow you to keep on frying without fear of interruption. Two such products, the Birdi and the Nest Protect, will not only monitor smoke but also carbon dioxide and general air quality. They can even send an alert to your smart phone or tablet if anything is amiss. These products retail for $119 and $99 respectively.”

Smart irrigation system

The SkyDrop: Smart Irrigation System Controller is a next-level automatic sprinkler system that allows you to control your irrigation from anywhere by using their app, and, “The best part is the irrigation will adjust itself based on your local weather,” said Nerds on Call. “The SkyDrop can be programmed to adhere to local water restrictions in order to contribute to saving water. An amazing part about SkyDrop is that it can calculate how much water your lawn uses every day and adjust the amount of watering time to keep your lawn healthy. This device sells for $200 on Amazon, and connects to your existing irrigation system along with your WiFi network.”

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1017398-20180521-5-smart-easy-ways-to-add-smart-home-technology-to-your-place?rtmpage=

May 21, 2018   No Comments

Eight Signs It’s Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Let’s face it: It’s probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, lifestyles change, and the sheer accumulation of stuff can make a small home feel even tighter. “More than a third of all homebuyers last year were families with kids,” said Dave Ramsey. “And 37% of sellers age 36 and under cited cramped quarters as their reason for moving.”

But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

You’ve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If you’re the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

You’re at each other’s throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you don’t have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary! Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if “your quality of life is suffering,” said Unpakt. “This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just can’t keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, you’re stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear.”

The neighborhood is changing…and not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary (or wanted) renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it – or get it into tip-top shape for a sale – is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You don’t want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You don’t want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because it’s overdone and considered overpriced.

“Weighing against renovation is the risk you’ll ‘over-improve’ your home compared with others on the block,” said Bankrate. “When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect.”

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If you’re still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe it’s time to find one that better meets your lifestyle needs today.

You’ve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. “It’s not just the sticker price on the house; it’s the long-term costs associated with it,” said Realtor.com. “When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance.” And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming “house poor” by “using online affordability calculators to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.

Written By Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/buyersadvice/item/1017326-20180517-eight-signs-its-time-to-move-up?rtmpage=

 

May 17, 2018   No Comments

Summer Savers: 9 Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home Before The Heat Hits

Summer Savers: 9 Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home Before The Heat Hits mdsprinklers.com

Things are heating up and school is winding down. That mean’s summer is right around the corner. But it’s not all flip-flops and sunglasses and smiles. Summer is also hot and sweaty and often expensive when you’re trying not to be hot and sweaty, or you just want your home to run more efficiently. There are things you can do and changes you can make now to save money this summer.

Have your sprinkler system and outdoor faucets looked at

You could have sprinkler heads that are malfunctioning or not working at all, which could harm your grass and cost you money to replace it. Leaky outdoor faucets could also be costing you in increased water bills.

Do a leak check inside

Cold air escaping and hot air intruding – it’s the reality of many a home, and not only can it make you feel uncomfortable, it can make your air conditioner work overtime. “For a thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy audit, particularly a blower door test,” said the U.S. Department of Energy. “A blower door test, which depressurizes a home, can reveal the location of many leaks.”

Do an appliance check

Have a mixer, blender, and knife sharpener plugged in on your kitchen countertop? How often do you really use any of these items? The more you unplug, the less energy you use.

Have your A/C unit checked and serviced

Not only do you not want your air conditioning to conk out in mid-summer when it’s blasting hot outside, but you also want to make sure you catch little issues before they become giant, expensive ones – and before you’re A/C guy books up. “There are two main reasons to schedule annual air conditioner maintenance with your local HVAC contractor: saving money and saving money (no that isn’t a typo),” said HomeAdvisor. “For starters, you greatly increase the chances that your A/C technician will catch small problems before they become big ones by schedules regular check-ups. Repairing a small refrigerant leak shouldn’t cost much more than the service call. Buying a new compressor when low refrigerant levels burn your current one out, however, can cost a thousand dollars or more. The other way an annual check-up saves you money is by ensuring that your A/C unit is working at optimal efficiency. When your A/C is running well it uses less energy to cool your house, and lower energy use means bigger savings for you on your monthly utility bills.”

Remember to change your filters regularly, too. According to Energy.gov, “The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”

Use the toaster instead of the oven

The heat from the oven can raise the temp in your home, causing your air conditioner to turn on. Using smaller appliances – your slow cooker is another idea – can help keep the temperature lower. Even better, use your outdoor grill, instead!

Cover up

Windows that are exposed to afternoon sun can heat up the house quickly, undermining your A/C and making everyone in the house uncomfortable.

“Air conditioning is blissful during the summer, but running it nonstop during a heat wave will have you cursing when you get your utility bill,” said Consumer Reports. “Fortunately, clever use of blinds, curtains, and other window treatments can help keep your house cool and your bills in check. The Department of Energy says that smart management of window coverings can reduce heat gain by up to 77 percent.”

Cover up inside and out for the best protection. “Studies show that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gain by 33 percent, according to the DOE. Because of the horizontal slats, it’s difficult to control heat loss through interior window blinds, although they do offer some flexibility. Unlike shades, you can adjust the slats to control light and ventilation. When completely closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent, says the DOE. They can also be adjusted to block and reflect direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling, which diffuses the light without much heat or glare.”

Outside, consider solar screens, or awnings. “Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows, according to the DOE.”

Turn up the temperature

That goes against the whole “keeping the house cool” thing, right? But, if you can stand it, a few ticks up on the thermostat can lower your costs. “According to Energy Star, almost half the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling. Even making small adjustments, such as turning up your air conditioning by only one degree, can make a huge difference,” said Huffington Post. “For each degree you reduce your air conditioning, it’s estimated you’ll save 3 percent on your utility bills. You can also save money by using a programmable thermostat. When used correctly, a programmable thermostat saves the average family $180 per year.”

Get a learning thermostat

Unlike old-school thermostats that you can program for different times and days, products like Nest actually learn from you, and your house, which can then save you money. “Why should you have to figure out your thermostat? The Nest Thermostat learns from you,” said Nest. “Just turn it up and down for the first few days. The Nest Thermostat will get to know the temperatures you like and when you like them. Then it programs itself and creates a schedule for you. The Nest Thermostat even learns from your home and figures out how it heats or cools, because no two homes are exactly the same.”

Add insulation

The upfront expense will will pay dividends later when your energy bills go down. “Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent,” said Real Simple.

Written By Jaimi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1017243-20180514-summer-savers-9-things-you-can-do-now-to-protect-your-home-before-the-heat-hits?rtmpage=

May 16, 2018   No Comments