Month: July 2016

5 Ways To Make Your Kitchen Last Longer


  • Choose quality appliances: Do your research prior to purchasing appliances and choose brands/models that don’t just look good but that also have a good track record.
  • Choose durable surfaces: You may need to spend more, but using surfaces that stand up to the test of time are worth it in the long run. Granite has been very popular in recent years and it is a great choice because of how durable it is. Quartz is another great option; not only is it durable but it also never has to be sealed. Avoid surfaces such as butcher block, concrete and marble since they can all be cut and chipped. Hardwood floors continue to be a very popular choice for kitchens and you should opt for pre-finished solid wood since it is more durable and they are also under warranty from the manufacturer. Vinyl is another great choice-it now comes in a variety of faux-natural patterns and it is priced very well.
  • Invest in cabinetry: Since cabinets get used frequently, it’s important to choose ones that are made of quality construction. You don’t necessarily need to invest in custom cabinetry, since some semi-custom as well as stock cabinets are great choices and feature many quality characteristics.
  • Choose the right finishes: Spending hundreds of dollars on a designer faucet and sink may not be the best choice. You can save a lot of money by choosing a simpler design made with a durable finish. Faucets made with PVD finish (physical vapor deposition) have been found to be the most scratch resistant and stainless steel sinks do best with resisting stains, scratches, and heat.
  • Keep it clean: A clean kitchen will hold up better over time. Letting spills settle on a smooth cooktop can cause corrosion and dirt on floors can wear down the finish. Pine-Sol is a top rated all purpose cleaner and cleaners made specifically for cooktops, stainless steel, etc, should be used.
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$500 In Energy Savings In 5 Rooms

Herald News


  • $215 in the living room: Replace the 5 most frequently used incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs to save $65 a year. Also, installing an Energy Star qualified programmable thermostat can assist homeowners in controlling the temperature when they are away from home and sleeping at night to save as much as $150 a year in energy costs.
  • $145 in the bathroom: Replacing the existing shower head with a 2.5 gallon-per-minute (low flow) shower head and keeping showers to 10 minutes in length can save 5 gallons of water during a typical bath and add up to $145 in savings on the electricity it takes to heat the water.
  • $74 in the laundry room: To save hot water (which costs $24-$40 to heat each year), wash your clothes in cold water only. Ensure that you use laundry detergent made for cold temperatures. Save another $34 a year by cleaning the lint trap on your dryer before each load goes in, which will allow the dryer to be more efficient.
  • $36 in the basement/utility room: Lowering the water heater temperature from 145 degrees to 120 degrees can save the average homeowner between $36-$61 a year and making this temperature change will only be noticeable as far as your utility bill goes…
  • $35 in the kitchen: Don’t allow your money to go down the drain; repair leaky kitchen faucets to avoid wasting 1,661 gallons of water per year/$35 in electricity or natural gas.
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Quick Fixes For Annoying Renovation Problems


  • Wallpaper adhesive that won’t come off the wall: Mix a solution of hot water and vinegar (80/20) and use a wet sponge to apply it to the wall in circular motions. Leave the solution on the wall for 15 minutes and then use a putty knife to gently scrape off the glue.
  • Rough wall textures that make painting a nightmare: Fill in large holes and dents with spackle and then lightly sand down uneven textures and bumps.
  • Paint ran through painter’s tape onto moldings and ceilings: Dip a small paint brush or the corner of a rag into paint remover, being careful not to soak the brush or rag, and then press it onto the paint spot for a few seconds before wiping away. Let the spot dry and repeat as necessary.
  • Paint that dripped onto the carpet: The first step is to soak up any excess paint, being careful not to spread the stain. Then pour distilled vinegar onto a clean cloth and blot the stain until all or most of the paint has lifted off the carpet. Finally, wash the area with warm water and soap.
  • Dry wall dust that seems to get EVERYWHERE after a renovation: After sweeping up as much dust as possible, use a spray bottle to spray water on the area to help any fine dust settle. Next, use a wet rag to wipe down walls, floors, counters, and any other problem areas.
  • Scratches in furniture and floors from moving furniture around: To repair light to medium wood, seep black tea until it is the desired color. Use a cotton ball to dab the tea onto the scratch and then wipe away the excess. For darker wood, mix instant coffee with water to form a thick paste and dab in onto the scratch, wiping away the excess when finished.
  • A ring of paint from rinsing rollers and brushes that won’t come off the inside of the sink: If scrubbing with soap and hot water a few times doesn’t remove the stubborn stain, a small amount of paint thinner or nail polish remover should take away the stain. Be sure to thoroughly wash the sink with soap afterwards.
  • Air bubbles and other problem areas on freshly painted walls: The best way to repair these areas is to scrape off the problem spot and repaint it.
  • Old paint color on door hinges, handles, and light fixtures: Instead of investing in all new hardware, simply remove the stained hardware and soak it in a mixture of baking soda and water which will lift off the paint and make your hardware appear brand new.
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Childproofing Your Home


  • Outlet covers: It’s important to cover up any outlets to ensure that little ones can’t stick their hands or toys in them. It’s also a good idea to put covers on power strips even if you think they are well hidden.
  • Stove knob covers: These covers can be easily removed when it’s time to use the stove but they prevent kids from turning on the burners.
  • Cabinet and drawer locks: Lock any cabinets or drawers that are within reach, especially those that contain household cleaners or sharp utensils.
  • Corner guards: Put these on any sharp corners on tables, etc.
  • Fireplace screen: Putting up a barrier in front of the fireplace is a good idea even if you don’t plan on using the fireplace.
  • Stair gates
  • Window covers: A window screen isn’t enough to keep your child from falling out of the window; a window cover is a good idea even if you live in a one story dwelling.
  • Childproof the outdoors: Look around your yard to see if there are any rocks/sharp objects that you need to remove or any holes or ditches that your child can fall into.
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The Market Is Hot!


The market is hot right now! If you are interested in more information about the housing market or are ready to sell your home, call the Dawn Dause Group today at (815) 954-5050!

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Tips To Win A Bidding War


  • Speak with a lender beforehand: Many homebuyers speak with a lender while they begin their home search. Instead of doing these things simultaneously, it’s best to meet with a lender, choose a loan, and obtain a pre-approval letter before looking at homes so that when you find your dream home, you are prepared to put in an offer.
  • Make a quick, personalized offer: If you know you love a home, making an offer as quickly as possible may help you get ahead of the game. Also, make the offer personalized-for example, if your agent finds out that the sellers are motivated to move quickly or that they may want to postpone the closing, state that you can settle on the seller’s schedule.
  • Have your home inspector on speed dial: While it’s vital to have a home inspected, adding a home inspection contingency to an offer may put you behind other offers that do not include this. If possible, have your home inspector come out and look over a home as soon as you know you love it, and if you are satisfied with the report, you won’t need a home inspection contingency included with the offer, which may put you ahead of other potential buyers.
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The Best Ways To Add Value To Your Home

House Logic


  • Steel entry door: A new steel entry door boots both energy efficiency as well as curb appeal. Steel doors come in many different colors and they can also be painted. The average cost is $1,230 and the average ROI is 101.8%.
  • Wood deck: These cost about $30 per square foot and they allow you to enjoy the outdoors for less than the cost of an enclosed addition. The average ROI is 80.5%.
  • Attic conversion: If you need more space, finishing your attic provides more living space without changing the footprint of your home. The average cost is $51,696 and the ROI is 77.2%.
  • Garage door replacement: A new garage door makes a huge difference in the look of your home and they can be found in a variety of style choices. The average cost for a midrange steel door is $1,595 and the ROI is 88.4%.
  • Fiber cement siding: Fiber cement siding is high quality, resistant to moisture, termites, rot, and fire. It also doesn’t flex so it doesn’t need to be repainted as often as traditional siding. The average cost is $14,014 and the ROI is 84.3%.
  • Replacement windows: New windows look good and they also help save money on energy costs. The average cost for 10 midrange vinyl windows is $10,316 and the ROI is 77.5%. The average cost for 10 midrange wood windows is $11,341 with an ROI of 78.8%.
  • Vinyl siding: Vinyl is low maintenance, low cost, and lightweight and is the preferred choice for siding. The average cost for midrange vinyl is $12,013 with an ROI of 80.7%.
  • Updated kitchen: One of the highest average of returns for home projects over the last 10 years has been a minor kitchen upgrade including new cabinet doors and drawer fronts, new appliances, countertop and flooring. The national average cost is $19,226 with an ROI of 79.3%.
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Ways To Quickly Raise Your Credit Score

The first step to improving your credit score is to know what your score is. The three major credit bureaus are required to provide a free copy of your report every year, so go to to request a free report every 4 months.

  • Correct errors: Go over your report and look for any mistakes that there may be and remedy those online with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  • Negotiation: Maybe you missed some payments on your credit card while unemployed-that fact can’t be disputed but you can attempt to negotiate. Try offering to pay the remaining balance on the delinquent account in exchange for the late payments being removed from your report or that account marked as “paid as agreed”. Just be sure to get that agreement in writing before you pay off the balance!
  • Know your limits: Ensure that your current credit card limits are reflected accurately on your report. Perhaps the lender forgot to update your newly increased limit; if that’s the case, request that the limit information is updated.
  • Don’t max out: Using all of the available credit on your plastic will lower your score; ideally only 30% of available credit should be used.
  • Increase your credit limit: Try contacting your credit card lender and asking for your limit to be increased. Be careful not to go on a spending spree after that is done- using 30% or less of your available credit is best.
  • Don’t close out accounts: You may be tempted to close out a credit card once the balance is paid, however, that will lower your available credit and can result in your credit score dropping.
  • Switch it up: Using different types of credit can increase your score. Try putting a large purchase on an installment or taking out a small loan from your credit union. Only do this though if you are sure you can make the payments on time.
  • Pay on time: Paying your bills on time is hugely important and late or missed payments definitely put a ding in your score. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score so strive to be on time. If you frequently forget payments, try making them automated so you don’t need to sweat it.
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Kitchens For All Budgets

Around 1.5 million homeowners will redo their kitchen this year; here is a quick look at what various remodel budgets will get you:

  • Do it yourself: Costs around $5,000 and takes around 1 month to complete. This would mainly include painting the cabinets and walls yourself, installing a vinyl floor, laminate countertop, basic appliances, top mount sink and a two-handled faucet. The return on this investment would vary upon what your time is worth.
  • Minor midrange: $19,000 and takes about 3 months. This job would consist of professionally installed wall oven and cooktop, vinyl floors, laminate counters, median priced sink and faucet, refaced cabinets and painted walls. ROI is about 83%.
  • Major midrange: Investment of about $55,000 and would take approximately 6 months. This remodel would include professionally installed semi-custom cabinets, standard appliances, vinyl floors, laminate counters, stainless steel double tub sink, single-lever faucet, and painted walls.  ROI=73%
  • Major upscale: Costs about $110,000 and can take 6 months or more to complete. This remodel would include professionally installed custom cabinets, stone countertops, professional appliances, cork flooring, backsplash, undermount sink complete with a designer faucet, and new lighting. The approximate ROI for this project would be 64%.
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Please contact me with any questions or to request a Free Home Market Analysis