Category Archives: Homeownership

‘Keep It Simple’ Up Keep

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Using Traditional Light bulbs: If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its lifespan, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb.
Ignoring a Leaky Faucet: A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.
Not Customizing Temperature: Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you are away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you are gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.
Water Heater Temperature Set Too High: Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.  ***

Prepare For The Unforeseen Expenses Of Homeownership

Unforeseen Expenses Of Homeownership

Being a homeowner has been your dream since you were a kid and you finally accomplished it.

Then, moving day comes. Once all the boxes are unloaded, and the furniture is shoved roughly into the right rooms, you grab a coffee and take a breather. And that is when it dawns on you. This is only just the beginning.

As a new homeowner, there are whole lists of things you need to take care of, and almost all of them cost money.

So, if you are planning to buy a new home, have just signed the paperwork, or are moving in next week, this list is for you. And if you know someone who is moving in, be a friend and give them a heads-up as well.

Property Tax – Up to $10,000: When it comes to property tax, a lot of people get sticker shock a year after they move into a new construction. The reason for this is simple; the taxes are based on the empty lot the home was built on says, Local Records Office. But a year later, the assessors come around and put a new valuation on the lot, which now has a beautiful home sitting on it. You can also face much higher taxes based on the particular school district you live in. And of course, taxes vary greatly by state. The average property taxes paid in New Jersey are almost $7,500, as opposed to $1,500 in Colorado, as of 2017.

Major Appliances – Up to $10,000: New home builds usually include a dishwasher, microwave, and stove, with the option of a fridge/freezer, washer, and dryer. They are basic unless you opt for the upgrades in your contract, but if you do, they could add a chunk to your monthly mortgage payment. If you buy a used home, you may not have any appliances included.

HOA Fees – Up to $700 a Month: Many new homes come with a Home Owners Association, and most used homes have HOAs as well. In theory, they’re a sound idea. They are there to keep the neighborhood looking great, and deal with trash collection, playgrounds, community pools, street lighting, common areas, snow removal, and so on. A typical HOA can run $100 a month. Some are just a few hundred a year, while in the higher-end neighborhoods, you may not see much change out of $1,000 every month.

Insurance – Up to $2,000 Annually: There are a few different types of insurance you need to have when buying a home. First, you must have homeowner’s insurance. The average cost of this is around $700 annually, but this varies by state. You should also have contents insurance, based on the value of your possessions. You could, of course, skip this payment. But if tragedy does strike, you could lose everything.

Utilities – Up to $400 Monthly: Again, if you live in a mansion that figure will be greater. And in a new one-bedroom apartment, much less. But on average, when moving into a new home, you will see utility bills in the hundreds of dollars. This can be quite a shock, especially if you were formerly in a small apartment or even living with your parents.

Repairs and Maintenance – Unknown: One of the biggest unknown expenses of owning a home is the repairs and maintenance costs that can hit you out of nowhere. If you were formerly renting, that was all taken care of. Now it is all on you. If the hot water heater goes out, you pay. If the roof leaks, you pay. If strong winds blow your fence down, you pay.
Yes, being a homeowner is the American dream, but it does not always come cheap. There are a lot of hidden fees and expenses. If you make a plan to cover these expenditures, then you will be a well-prepared homeowner.  ***

Essential Maintenance Tasks for Appliances

ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE TASKS TO KEEP HOME APPLIANCES RUN EFFICIENTLY

Today’s typical family home is a buzzing hub of activity where meals are cooked, homework is done and family game nights are contested. In the background of it all: the home appliances that keep home life moving along. Focusing on a few maintenance tasks can keep home appliances performing efficiently and effectively.

Maintain tools

Keep appliances and cleaning tools running well so they continue to get the job done. Replace vacuum belts periodically to keep your vacuum cleaner running like new, and swap out lawn mowers’ spark plugs once a year to ensure the mower is easy to start. Stock up on extra batteries for cordless vacuums, leaf blowers or other lawn equipment used frequently.

Focus on filtration

Replace vacuum cleaners’ accessories often for best performance. Bags need to be replaced every one to two months, while a new filter is needed every three to six months. A full vacuum bag or clogged filter can inhibit the vacuum’s effectiveness, reducing suction and leaving allergens and dust behind. Washable filters should be replaced too, as they may begin to lose effectiveness after a couple of washes.

For great vacuum performance, use Arm & Hammer vacuum bags and filters to capture allergens, dust and pet hair from surfaces. The bags and filters also safely and naturally absorb offensive smells through the odor-fighting power of baking soda.

In addition to vacuum filters, make sure to replace HVAC filters. Furnaces and central air conditioners run more efficiently and provide higher quality air filtration with clean filters. Change filters frequently to keep home heating and cooling at a high level.

Clean appliances

While every appliance has a unique way to clean it, they all have one rule in common: Never, ever let spills or splatters linger. Whether it is on the stove, in the microwave or in the refrigerator, the longer deposits remain, the harder they are to clean. Keeping these appliances clean will mean that a deeper scrubbing is only needed occasionally.

Refrigerators – Twice a year, pull out the refrigerator to clean behind and under it. Mop the floor and use a vacuum to remove dust from the coils in back. This will decrease the stress put on the motor and can prolong the life of the refrigerator. Use soapy water to clean shelves, and a damp cloth to remove fingerprints from the front or sides.

Dishwashers – About once a month, check and clean the drain and wipe down the door seals and spray arm.

Oven – Embrace the self-cleaning option on the oven to do the heavy lifting whenever it is needed. Wipe down the inside of the door and creases to ensure there are not crumbs accumulating. Soak burners, knobs, racks and hood vents twice a year to keep them free of grime.

Microwave – Clean the rotating microwave plate weekly in the dishwasher. When needed, put a bowl of water with lemons in the microwave and run it for three minutes, then let stand for five minutes before wiping down the inside.

Washing machine – Always wipe out the machine to ensure there is no water left sitting in it. For a deeper clean, run the washer with bleach in the dispenser, pause the machine and let the bleach mixture settle for an hour, then complete the cycle before wiping it out.

Coffee maker – Hand wash the filter tray, exposed areas, and crevices weekly, and run water with a bit of vinegar through – without coffee – to clean the inner mechanisms.

Safety first

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in the home to keep families safe – but they need new batteries to ensure equipment is working as it should. Every six months, change the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms and make sure fire extinguishers are still in place and not expired.

 

 

Increase Kitchen Efficiency with Ease

Increase Kitchen Efficiency with Ease

Now that the busy holidays are behind us it is time to resolve how you can stay organized and create a functional space for family and friends to enjoy in the new year.

Plan in advance
Set aside time early in the week to plan the menu, from simple appetizers to the main entree. Grocery shopping apps, like AnyList, allow the whole family to share and build lists together – which can help avoid any last-minute trips to the grocery store. Also, try to identify dishes that can be prepared in advance, so more time can be spent away from the kitchen when guests arrive.

Maximize storage and counter space
Optimize counter space by designing small stations for easy access to the necessities. A coffee bar “nook” complete with Keurig cups and mugs can help kick-start a busy day. Storage near the fridge should be stocked with foil and containers, ideal for packing up leftovers after a large party. Reserve the island counter for meal prep and the cabinets below for serving ware and glassware storage.

Keep all staples in arm’s reach
Cooking can be made simple by organizing the essentials. Keep similar tools together, such as bakeware and cookie sheets in one drawer, and pantry staples in another. Spices and herbs should be alphabetized and stored near the stovetop to effortlessly add flavor. For those with design in mind, opt for open shelves to showcase dishes and small kitchen accessories, such as succulents and cookbooks, while keeping everything within reach.

Simplify kitchen cleanup
Cleaning is often the most time-intensive chore in the kitchen, but if designed right, can be a breeze for home entertainers and kids alike. There are many new kitchen faucets that come complete with features that offer laser-like precision to contain splatter, meaning less soaking, scrubbing and shirt swapping.

Top 5 Features Millennials Look for in a Home

Top 5 Features Millennials Look for in a Home

For generations, homeownership has been part of the American dream. For most Americans, it is the largest, most significant investment they will make, and because homeownership is the best way to grow their wealth, the most important investment as well.

As the youngest generation of new homeowners, millennials are entering the housing market and are eager to get a home to fit their unique lifestyles. Just as every generation has its own music, its distinct style and look, the new generation of homeowners has different expectations than buyers did a few decades ago. To shed some light on these evolving home trends, here are five of the most popular features millennials look for in a home.

  1. It needs to be energy efficient. More than other generations, millennials are particularly concerned with their impact on the environment. As such, they want to be sure the home they buy will have a minimal carbon footprint. Some energy-efficient features that are a priority for homebuyers are UV-protected windows, programmable thermostats, efficient appliances and upgraded insulation.
  2. It needs to be customized to their tastes. It is not enough to find a home that is merely “livable”; millennials want a house that is an outward and inward expression of who they are. Translation: The one-size-fits-all model is no longer sufficient. This is one reason manufactured and modular homes have become so popular. They offer diverse floor plans with a number of customizable options to suit individuals’ needs and unique styles. There are even models with built-in home features for pets!
  3. Rethinking space usage. The era of buying a house as big as you can afford is on the way out. Many millennials are forgoing the extra bedrooms and enormous living rooms. These homebuyers prefer smarter ways to utilize space for their family’s needs, while keeping a cozy and intimate atmosphere.
  4. Open floor plan. In a world where everyone seems to be plugged into their phones and staring at their individual screens, the open floor plan has emerged as a way for families and guests to come together and share the same space. Basically, the fewer walls between the kitchen, dining room and living room, the better. This floor plan also aids homeowners with their entertaining needs and provides more natural light, which is very big for this young generation. 
  1. A room for a home office. The millennial workforce is a mobile workforce, and just as this generation is transforming the home market, it is also transforming the workplace. Millions of Americans work from home and many more are often given the option to work a day or two a week from home. With this shift, many potential homeowners want to be sure there is a suitable workspace for an office.

With evolving needs and different tastes, many millennials worry that they will spend a lot of time searching for that one, perfect dream home, with an emphasis on the perfect open-concept kitchen, with outdoor living areas, and multifunctional spaces. Millennials will bring new buyers to the market, so if you are considering selling your home, let me help you make it market -ready for every generation.

 

these home improvements pay off in the long run

Sell or Stay, these home improvements pay off in the long run

Homeowners undertake home improvements for two basic reasons: to please themselves or to please others who may one day buy their home. Some types of improvements are for the sake of a speedier sale, such as planting a row of shrubs between your backyard and a busy street behind your home. Others are for your own enjoyment, like painting your rec room your favorite shade of neon pink.

The best home improvements, however, pay off in the long run whether you are staying or selling. Here are a handful of projects that are worth the investment whether you are hoping to please potential buyers or make your home more enjoyable for yourself:

Add skylights:
Buyers love balanced natural light. You probably do as well! Adding Energy Star-qualified no-leak skylights is a cost-effective improvement that enhances a home’s appeal to potential buyers, as well as its enjoyment for the people currently occupying it. They are particularly popular in bathrooms and kitchens, but skylights can go in any room where you want more natural light, an open, airy feeling, and a brightened appearance. To further differentiate home spaces such as hallways and closets, consider tubular skylights which are inexpensive and easily installed in a matter of hours.

Add or upgrade a deck:
When the weather warms up, your family will want to spend more time outdoors and a deck is a perfect platform for outdoor enjoyment. Potential buyers also perceive it as a benefit and adding or upgrading a deck can boost your home’s value. In fact, a wooden deck will recoup 75 percent of its installation costs at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

Exterior paint:
Repainting the exterior of your home is a big job, but one that is well worth the investment, whether you are trying to impress potential buyers with great curb appeal or simply make your house a more enjoyable place to return to each day. Exterior paint greatly affects the overall look of a home, plus quality paint helps protect siding from the elements.

Kitchen cosmetics:
Great kitchens sell homes, and the kitchen is also the room where many families spend a great amount of time, so anything you do to improve a kitchen is well worth the investment. Taking care of basic items like replacing old cabinet hardware, upgrading faucets and lighting, and investing in quality countertops can be cost-effective ways to elevate your home’s value and boost the usability of the kitchen.

Whether you plan to put your home on the market this spring or summer or intend to stay put for years to come, it pays to invest in home improvements that enhance both resale value and your enjoyment of your home.

TMA Farm Net blog - Sell or Stay, these home improvements pay off in the long run

DIY Home Upgrades

DIY home upgrade

Do-it-yourself home projects are sweeping the nation, and it is easy to see why. DIY is typically budget-friendly and fulfilling to complete; simply find the right project to match your skill set and needs.

Make a hardware swap. Replacing your kitchen cabinets changes the entire look of your kitchen – but it is expensive and requires considerable skill. For a simpler, smaller project that can still have a big impact, replace the hardware on your cabinets instead. Select the hardware type first, then move on to style. Crisp, sleek hardware goes best with a modern kitchen, while more detailed offerings work well with classic, traditional kitchens.

Refresh your space with a fresh coat of paint. Repainting a wall or room is the perfect way to showcase your style, without breaking the bank. Try going bold with pops of color on an accent wall. It is easy to recreate a space that reflects who you are, without making expensive renovations.

Illuminate a simple change. It does not always take a huge change to reinvent a room; it can be as easy as changing the light fixture. You could choose to repaint your existing chandelier or you could give your ceiling fan a new look by replacing the blades. If you are on the crafty side, try making your own shade for an existing lamp with some of your favorite fabric.

Invite people to your gallery. If you cannot decide on the one perfect image for your wall, then why not go for several? Gallery walls are a great way to show your favorite prints and photos artistically. Pick the wall and apply a fresh coat of paint. Once the wall is ready, pick your photos or prints and set them in frames you love. Now the fun part lay your works of art on an open floor space and rearrange them until you find the perfect layout.

Bring a new vibe to your existing furniture. If a chair or loveseat is starting to show its age, reupholstering it is a great way to give the piece fresh life. Remove the current fabric and replace it with a new fabric of your choosing. Apply staples or stitching to hold the new fabric in place, and that old piece of furniture will have a distinctive new look.

Real Estate Experts Want You To Know

Real Estate Experts want you to know

When it comes time to sell your house, things can become very personal quickly. This makes having an open, honest relationship with your real estate professional a key element to the success of the sale of your home.
Before you put your home on the market, here are some things expert real estate agents want you to know:

1. Your stuff is lovely, but – While your home may be beautifully decorated, it still looks like your home, not the potential buyers’ home. Clutter can make a home feel cramped and leave a bad first impression.
If you are going to be moving anyway, it makes perfect sense to start packing and putting a lot of your current belongings in storage.

2. Stop hiding things – Leaky faucets? Termites? An air conditioner that barely blows cool air? Do not keep any of your home’s flaws from your real estate professional because you are worried it might hurt your chances of selling your home.
Remember, your listing agent is on your side and knows what must be fixed or what can slide—so go ahead and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever you hide from an agent will most likely be discovered later and then it will be a significant problem.

3. You need to fix a few things – You need to know that it costs money to sell your home. You will need to invest money in your home to make it look good to potential buyers.
Replace the trim, clean the scuff marks off the walls, and power-wash the vinyl siding. To you, the condition of your home is totally normal because you have lived there for years. To buyers, this may mean expensive repairs, which may cause them to lowball you or not make an offer at all.

4. Your remodeling might not pay off much – Blood, sweat, tears, and a heck of a lot of cash might have gone into your remodeling projects, but that does not mean there is a guaranteed payback for any of it.
An ROI, or Return On Investment, means that some home upgrades do not necessarily increase value. It largely depends on what kind of home improvement you do. Ask me for a list of some common renovations with their projected return on investment.

5. Don’t overprice – While listing at a high price and then coming down as necessary seems like the best way to avoid leaving any money on the table, you could be doing yourself a disservice.
If you overprice your home, buyers may not catch that, but buyer’s agents will. When a home is overpriced, buyer’s agents will either avoid bringing their buyers or, worse yet, they use it as an example to sell another property.

6. Cleanliness really does count – When you are ready to sell, put in the time or the money to make sure your home is beyond clean. Everything gets noticed during a showing. The kitchen and the bathrooms are the two main areas where cleanliness – or lack thereof – is most obvious.

7. Have some patience – Yes, we know you thought your beautiful house would fly off the market the moment you list it, but that is not always the case. In fact, realtor.com data shows that homes sit on the market for an average of 66 days.
The real estate process is long: from showings to inspections to negotiations to the close of escrow. Be patient! Persevering leads to success.

The savvy homeowner’s 5-point outdoor winterization checklist

outdoor winterization checklist

(BPT) – As temperatures drop, you’re reminded that Old Man Winter will soon rear his ugly head. Before the first flurries fly, it’s important to take some winterization steps to ensure your home is ready for whatever the season brings.

This five-point checklist will help safeguard your home against winter’s woes for another year. For additional winterization ideas and detailed project plans, visit Real Cedar.com.

Inspect windows

Inspect each window from the outside to see if any gaps or cracks are present. These small openings let in cold air and are also inviting to small critters looking for protection from the cold.

If you find some gaps, it’s important to seal them quickly. Apply caulk to the openings to prevent cold air from seeping in, helping to cut down on heating bills. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bugs making your home their hibernation haven. Note: never caulk above or below the window and door openings, as this may block moisture drainage.

Prep the deck

The amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.

To preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm, soapy solution and a soft-bristle brush. Do not power wash as this can damage the wood. It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from the surface as well as in between the boards to improve ventilation.

Next, inspect the deck for mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface such as furniture, planters and mats.

Protect planter boxes

The majority of planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because the wood is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into soil and plants. But like all garden beds, real cedar planters need protection during the winter months.

Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then, if possible, store emptied planters in a garage, shed or under the porch. If you don’t have the space to store them this way, then cover them with a water-repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup, but don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.

Trim trees

Look for weak trees or those with dead branches, particularly those near your home. As snow accumulates, the weight may bring down a tree or branches, potentially damaging your house.

Eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or dangerous branches now before the first snow. Be safe by using the proper equipment for tree trimming and removal, or, consider hiring a pro to do so. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and handling this issue now could prevent costly damage to your home down the road.

Clean the roof

Your roof is a large portion of your home, and it also holds a lot of snow over the winter. To prevent ice dams and other roof problems when freezing temperatures arrive, it’s important to clean gutters and check your roof for problems now.

Start by taking all debris out of gutters to ensure free flow for water. Next, walk around your roof and inspect it for any damage. Repair loose shingles and make sure the chimney and vents look intact and secure. Your roof takes on a lot of weight from ice and snow during the winter months and you want it to be as strong as possible.

A few simple steps now can mean a cozy, safe winter for you and your entire family. Add these five steps to your winterization to-do list for this weekend and give yourself valuable peace of mind.

5 DIY home upgrades anyone can do in a day

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(BPT) – Do-it-yourself home projects are sweeping the nation, and it’s easy to see why. DIY is typically budget-friendly and fulfilling to complete; simply find the right project to match your skill set and needs.

To get started, here are five inexpensive projects that can be tackled by any DIYer, each of which will have an impact on the entire home.

* Make a hardware swap. Replacing your kitchen cabinets changes the entire look of your kitchen — but it’s expensive and requires considerable skill. For a simpler, smaller project that can still have a big impact, replace the hardware on your cabinets instead. Select the hardware type first — knobs for doors and pulls for drawers, for example — then move on to style. Crisp, sleek hardware goes best with a modern kitchen, while more detailed offerings work well with classic, traditional kitchens.

* Refresh your space with a fresh coat of paint. Repainting a wall or room is the perfect way to showcase your style, without breaking the bank. The Unity palette from Sherwin-Williams® 2018 Colormix Forecast offers unique color choices that pair together perfectly, making it easy for homeowners to create a cohesive look in their space. Try going bold with pops of a peacock on an accent wall, such as Sherwin-Williams 2018 Color of the Year, Oceanside SW 6496, or you use the palette’s grounded browns to put a new spin on traditional hues. It’s easy to recreate a space that reflects who you are, without making expensive renovations.

* Illuminate a simple change. It doesn’t always take a huge change to reinvent a room; it can be as easy as changing the light fixture. You could choose to repaint your existing chandelier, or you could give your ceiling fan a new look by replacing the blades. If you’re on the crafty side, try making your own shade for an existing lamp with some of your favorite fabric.

* Invite people to your gallery. Can’t decide on the one perfect image for your wall? Then why not go for several? Gallery walls are a great way to show your favorite prints and photos artistically. Pick the wall and apply a fresh coat of paint before building your gallery — after all, this wall will now be part of the exhibit. Once the wall is ready, pick your photos or prints and set them in frames you love. Now the fun part lay your works of art on an open floor space and rearrange them until you find the perfect layout. Once you’ve found it, grab your hammer and nails and bring your gallery wall to life.

* Bring a new vibe to your existing furniture. If a chair or loveseat is starting to show its age, reupholstering it is a great way to give the piece fresh life. Remove the current fabric and replace it with a new fabric of your choosing. Apply staples or stitching to hold the new fabric in place, and that old piece of furniture will have a distinctive new look.