Month: November 2016

Preparing To Move


     

Photo of a mother and baby near moving boxes to discuss preparing to move.

Moving to a new home can be a very exciting time, although dealing with packing up your belongings, moving all the boxes, and unpacking everything can be daunting. Here are 8 things you can do to make your move go smoother!

1. De-clutter your house: When going through your belongings, ask yourself questions such as Do I need it?, Do I love it?, Will I use it? , etc. If you cannot honestly answer yes to two of these questions, consider getting rid of it before your big move. Hold a garage sale, sell items online, etc. Having less to move will reduce your moving costs and make your life easier.
2. Storage Unit: If you are selling your home, you may want to consider putting some of your belongings in a storage unit and only keeping items in your current home that may assist with staging.
3. Cut down on your food items: Before you move, start using up your canned goods, frozen food, and other foods that will not travel well. Make an effort to only buy food that will get consumed before the move.
4. Pack items room by room: Pack your boxes according to what room they belong in and label them accordingly. For important necessity items, place those in boxes market open first. These boxes may contain items such as some clothing, toiletries, etc.
5. Put aside your most important items: Things such as medication, passports, checkbooks, etc. should be put aside. Consider not putting them into boxes that will be on a moving truck, just to ensure their safe keeping.
6. Arrange care for your children and pets on moving day: Having your kids and pets away from the home on moving day will ensure their safety and also make moving easier.
7. Don’t forget about your utilities: Schedule the disconnection and transfer of your utilities and cable for the day after you move out of your home to make sure that you will have access to them.
8. Pay attention to your home’s condition: If you are selling your home, be sure to document the condition of it, noting an damage that was done before the moving crew shows up.

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Holiday Home Repairs

Photo of a living room decorated for Christmas to illustrate points about holiday home repairs.

Holiday home repairs are very important to think about as you get your home ready for holiday gatherings. Here are just a few simple repairs that should be made before hosting your holiday event:

  • Spruce up the bathroom: Use hydrogen peroxide to clean dirty grout. Just spray on the hydrogen peroxide, let it work for 10 minutes and then wipe the grout clean.  Fresh flowers, holiday decor, and/or new pictures on the wall will go a long way in making your bathroom guest-ready.
  • Clean the floors/carpets: Even though giving your whole home a thorough cleaning may be ideal, there may not be enough time for that before the big party. Having clean floors instantly makes your home look better and will go a long way in making your home ready for the party.
  • Illuminate the entrance: Make sure that the front of your home, especially the front porch and walkway, is well lit. Replace any bulbs that may be out or install new lighting, such as solar lights, along the front walkway.
  • Check kitchen appliances: Check over the appliances to make sure they are working well. Clean the oven if it needs it and be sure that the dishwasher is working properly.  It’s also a good idea to clean out the refrigerator since guests may be using it during the party.
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5 Reasons To Replace Your Home’s Insulation


Photo of a man replacing home insulation.

 

  1. High utility bills:  A rise in your utility bill can mean that the insulation in your home has worn down and is doing a poor job of keeping your home warm or cool, depending on the season.  Replacing the insulation can regulate the temperature in your home and save you money on your utility bill.
  2. Varying room temperatures: If rooms in your home differ significantly in temperature, such as an extremely cold living room and very warm bedroom, chances are there are insulation problems and it should be replaced.
  3. Aging insulation: Insulation that was installed in older homes is usually of lower quality than what is available today. A good test to use to determine the quality of the insulation is to put on a glove and feel the insulation in the attic; if it crumbles when touched it’s time to replace. Also, there are green options for insulation for older homes as well.
  4. Pests: Pests usually like to make their homes in the insulation present in basements and attics. If you have ever had a problem with pests, it’s best to replace the insulation to avoid future issues.
  5. Water damage: Heavy rains and flooding can cause water to soak through the roof or walls and that water gets into the insulation and soaks in. If the insulation is not dried out completely, mold will grow and cause a large problem. If your home has been through flooding or had any issues with heavy rain, there is a good chance that the insulation does need to be replaced.
*The national average for replacing insulation is between $1,400 and $1,800. It’s best to replace the insulation before the extreme heat of summer or cold of winter.
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Single Homebuyers-5 Tips For Home Shopping

Photo of a ranch home to illustrate things that single homebuyers should keep in mind when purchasing a home.

Single homebuyers should keep these few things in mind when searching for a home:
1. Stay within your budget- Buy a home well within your means and ensure that you can afford it even during lapses in employment that you may experience.
2. Be aware of maintenance- If you are concerned about lawn care and other exterior maintenance, you may want to lean towards a home with a smaller yard or even in a newer community with homes requiring less up keep. If you are not interested in lawn manicuring or outdoor fixes you should look into a town home or a condominium.
3. Security- Being single means your home will be unoccupied more often than not and you want to ensure that you are in a safe neighborhood with a low crime rate so you can lock down your home before you leave and not have to worry about it.
4. Think about resale value- You may find yourself moving after a few years due to a job relocation or life change so when you are shopping for a home-keep the resale value in mind so that if you ever find yourself wanting to sell, you can do so easily.
5. Buy for the future- Although you are single now and may not need much room, plan for the future when you may add a spouse and children to your home. If you can afford it, it’s a good idea to buy a home with an extra bedroom or two to spare.
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Fire Hazards In The Home

Photo of a full dryer lint screen to illustrate points about fire hazards in the home.There are many potential fire hazards in the home that may be overlooked even though they pose a real danger. Here are just a few things that should be avoided:

  1. Dirty range hood: Grease builds up in a range hood if it is not cleaned periodically which can lead to a fire.
  2. Dirty towels: Leaving oil soaked towels around can be extremely dangerous. The rags can oxidize and suddenly start a fire. Put rags used from staining furniture or other oil based projects in a water filled metal can and then place a tight lid on it or put the rags outside laying flat to dry.
  3. Home appliance recalls: It’s always vital to stay current on your appliances and be aware of any recalls that may be made. Thousands of house fires are caused every year by faulty appliances.
  4. Dryer lint: Many homeowners know that they should routinely clean out their dryer vent in order to increase the dryer’s efficiency but it also is an important safety issue. Dryer lint is a huge fire hazard and when it’s mixed with heat it can cause a fire. Always clean out the vent screen and make a habit to regularly clean out the dryer vent to prevent fires.
  5. Using electric blankets improperly: Snuggling up with an electric blanket in the middle of winter can be a little luxury but it can also be very dangerous if not used properly. Pets should never lay on top of the blanket and extra blankets shouldn’t be layered over the electric one due to excessive heat build up.
  6. Allowing your laptop to overheat: Leaving a laptop on a bed, pillow, couch, etc. can block air from flowing through the cooling vents causing the computer to get too hot and possibly catch fire.
  7. Not using the correct wattage: It’s super important to use the correct wattage bulb in all light fixtures. Using a 60 watt bulb in a fixture meant for a 40 watt bulb can cause an electrical fire.
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Reasons To Own A Home

Reasons to own a home a numerous, including financial benefits as well as security.  These are just a few of the many reasons it makes sense to buy a home:

Photo of a nice home to illustrate points regarding reasons to own a home.

  • Building equity: When you rent, that is money spent that you will not see benefits to down the line. When paying down a mortgage, that money spent goes towards building equity in your home.
  • Important tax benefits: The Tax Code allows homeowners to deduct interest paid on the mortgage, some costs associated with purchasing a home, and property taxes which add up to a huge financial benefit.
  • Appreciation: Real Estate is known for having stable growth in value. Even within the last ten years, which includes hard times within the economy, home values are still up 7% overall (Realtor.org).
  • Savings: As a homeowner builds equity in their home, it’s similar to having a built in savings plan. When a homeowner sells their home, they can usually take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) without having to owe federal income tax on it.
  • Stability: When someone rents, they never really know what their rent payment may increase to year after year. Their rent payment can fluctuate beyond their control. On the flip side, a homeowner’s mortgage payment will stay the same if they have a fixed rate mortgage and may even go down over time if they are able to refinance to a lower rate.
  • Ownership: When you own you are free to decorate your home any way you like and to install any upgrades that you choose.
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Thanksgiving Prep Tips

Photo of cooked turkeys to illustrate Thanksgiving prep.Thanksgiving prep needs to start soon as the holiday is already next week!

 

  • A frozen turkey needs one day to thaw for every 4 pounds. If you are going to brine the turkey, you need to start thawing it a day earlier.
  • Take inventory of cookware and kitchen utensils: Now is the time to figure out if you need any additional kitchen items such as a roasting pan or meat thermometer.
  • Cook the cranberry sauce: The sauce doesn’t need to be made the day of the holiday; since it contains so much sugar it can be treated like a jam and refrigerated ahead of time.
  • Bake and freeze dinner rolls
  • Make the pie crust
  • Create a timeline for the big day: The list should include what dishes need to go into the oven at what time so that everything runs smoothly.
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Mortgage Preapproval-What Do You Need?

Mortgage preapproval is very important when house hunting because it shows the sellers that you are actually able to purchase their home. There are several documents that are needed in order to be preapproved-here is a list of what you will need:

Photo of the exterior of a home to illustrate getting mortgage preapproval.

  • The last two years of W-2 forms
  • Documents showing mortgage or rent payments made for the last year
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • Paycheck stubs from last few months
  • A list of all assets: auto titles, real estate, investment accounts and bank statements
  • Documents of all debts including student loans, credit cards, alimony and auto loans

Tips to keep in mind while preparing to buy a home include not changing jobs if possible, do not miss any debt payments (credit card, auto loan, student loan, etc) and do not make any large purchases, especially ones that rack up your debt.

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Closet Staging: How To Showcase The Space

 

Closet staging is a crucial step that needs to be taken while getting a home market ready. One of the number one things that buyers look for is adequate closet space so taking the time to maximize the closets in your home is very important.

  • Clean it out: Having an overstuffed closet really detracts from the space. Get rid of clothing and other items that aren’t being used.
  • Keep the floor clean: Shoes should be off the floor and in a shoe organizer or on a shelf. Any items that are on the floor should be stored away in a bin or put away somewhere else so the full size of the closet can be seen and appreciated. A cluttered closet floor will give the illusion of less space than the closet actually has.
  • Use opaque bins instead of clear: Even though it may be convenient to use clear bins in order to see the contents inside, they make the space look very cluttered. Using opaque bins will look much nicer and create a much cleaner look.
  • Arrange clothing by color: This is a great (and free) tip! Group clothing together by color and then arrange each color group according to clothing type. Not only is this free, it makes a huge difference in the overall look of the space!
  • Use matching hangers: Using hangers that don’t match makes the closet look very disorganized. It makes a huge difference to use hangers that match and it doesn’t have to be expensive to purchase new hangers-they can be found at discount stores such as the Dollar Tree. Using matching hangers goes a long way with closet staging.

 

Photo of a well organized closet to illustrate how closet staging is important while getting a home market ready.

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