Archive for Home Care and Maintenance

Sell Sooner and for More Money? – More Likely If It Shows Better!

If it shows better, it will probably sell faster and maybe for more money. Once your home is on the market, it’s time to look at it like a commodity and through the eyes of potential buyers. In all likelihood, you’ll need to take care of these items eventually, so do them now to help it sell sooner.

  1. Make repairs – it doesn’t matter if it’s been that way since you bought it. You need to fix it so that the buyer doesn’t think that the rest of the house is about to fall apart.
  2. Not too personal – you may have bought your home to express yourself but if the buyer can’t see themselves in the home for all of your things, it’s going to take longer to sell than you want.
  3. Drive-up appeal – the old saying “you never get a second chance at a first impression” applies to your home too. They may never even get out of the car to come inside.
  4. The nose knows – it may not smell like home but it shouldn’t smell like a place they would never consider living.
  5. Neutral colors, decor, etc. – these are not decorating tips you’ll see in magazines but the truth is that bold colors and designs are difficult for most people to see beyond. They’ll imagine their things better in neutral surroundings.
  6. Less looks like more – removing some of the non-essential things from your home will eliminate clutter and make the home feel larger. The same suggestion applies to cabinets and closets.
A confused mind will not make a decision. Identify and eliminate items that could derail a potential sale. The preparation you make in the beginning will help the presentation to your buyers.

Before You Leave Home…

The last thing you want to do while you’re on a trip is to worry about someone burglarizing your home. Use this checklist to add some peace of mind to your travel plans.

  • Ask a trusted friend – to pick up your mail and newspaper and keep the yard free of trash and advertisements.
  • Stop your mail but maybe not your newspaper – you can easily handle this online by going to the US Postal Service’s Hold Mail Service. A recent story implicated an employee from a major newspaper who was passing customer hold requests to burglars.
  • Don’t post about your trip on Facebook and Twitter until you return – some burglars actually look for this type of announcement to schedule their activities.
  • Do notify police and/or neighborhood watch – especially if you’re going to be gone for more than just a few days. Let your monitoring service know when you’ll be gone and if someone will be checking on your home for you.
  • Light timers make it look like someone is home – use several set for different times to better simulate someone at home.
  • Do unplug certain appliances – TVs, computers, toaster ovens that use electricity even when they’re off and to protect them from power surges.
  • Don’t hide a key – burglars know exactly where to look for your key and it only takes them a moment to check under the mat, above the door, in the flower pot or in a fake rock.

These easy-to-handle suggestions may protect your belongings while you’re gone while adding a level of serenity to your trip.

Choose the Right Color!

Have you ever picked a color from the myriad of paint samples available, put it on the wall and decided that it was all wrong? It shouldn’t have to be that difficult but trying to pick the perfect color from those little swatches is just not that easy.

Painters and decorators suggest you buy a small amount of the colors you’re considering. Your paint store should be able to mix them in any brand and any color. Once it’s on the wall, it will be easy to determine if it needs to be lighter or darker or if it’s completely wrong.

Take them home and paint a 2′ x 2′ area on the wall. If you’re concerned about testing the colors on your wall, you can paint some sample boards that can be easily moved around to see how they’ll look with the furniture, floors and other items in the room.

Instead of guessing what it’s going to look like, you’ll actually see how it looks during different times of the day, in natural and artificial light.

While $30 to $40 a gallon for paint may seem like a lot of money, the cost in time and labor to put it on the wall is even more. It’s worth taking the time to test the color on the wall before you buy all the paint needed

Unexpected Home Repairs – Avoiding Them!

It’s common for sellers to consider offering and buyers might find it an incentive, but a growing number of homeowners are purchasing the home warranties themselves to limit the unexpected expenses of repairs and replacements.

A home protection plan is a renewable service contract that covers the repair or replacement of many of the components in a home. Some homeowners especially like the convenience that it organizes a qualified service provider as well as the cost of the items.

There are a variety of companies that offer home warranties and the coverage may differ but the majority of things will include heating, air conditioning most built-in and some free-standing appliances, as well as other specific items. Additional specific coverage may be available for other things like pool and spa equipment.

Some investors are even placing this coverage on their rental properties to limit the amount of maintenance repairs during the year. It is a viable alternative to managing the financial risk and the stress dealing with unexpected expenses.

If you’re interested in home warranties, I’ll be happy to send you more information.

Dripping Dollars!

Conserving water to be green while lowering your monthly bill to save green is a beneficial combination. Little things can contribute significantly to a large water bill.

  • Leaky faucets can waste over 1,000 gallons a year
  • Leaky toilets can waste 7,000 gallons a month
  • A five-minute shower saves more water than a tub bath
  • Water running while you brush your teeth or shave
  • Sprinkler heads need to be adjusted to spray on the yard only
  • Install a rain sensor on sprinkler system
  • Pool equipment can be a hidden source of wasted water
A larger than normal water bill can be your first indication you have a leak. Then, you’ll need to track it down.
  1. Turn off all the water faucets and appliances; don’t forget the ice maker.
  2. Open the water meter, usually located near the sidewalk in the front of the house. You may need a water key that can be purchased from a home improvement store or possibly borrowed from a neighbor.
  3. Locate the dial indicating water usage. It should not be moving since all of the water is off. If it is still moving, verify that you have turned off anything that might be using water.
  4. If it appears to be still, make a mark with a Sharpie and wait 15 minutes. If the flow indicator has moved, you probably have a leak.
  5. Now that you’ve confirmed that you have a leak, you may need help in locating it. A plumber or leak specialist may be able to help you track it down and repair it.

Changing a Lock is Key!

There are times when you need to change the locks on your home to protect your family and possessions. It should always be considered when you move into a new home; when keys are lost, stolen or unreturned; or a cleaning or other service provider hasn’t returned the key.

Replacing the lockset would give you a totally new mechanism that should work better and if you go back with the same manufacturer, you’ll probably avoid any carpentry. You can order the locks online and have them work with the same key at no extra charge.

Another alternative is to have a locksmith rekey them. The locksmith can easily make all of the locks work with the same key. Compare the cost and decide which would be a better expenditure.

While you’re considering your security, a key safe might be a very convenient addition. Most makers say that it is much easier to break into a home than a key safe. The cost is reasonable and you can attach it to your exterior wall. Generally, they’re combination locks that would allow you access if you or another family member forgot their key. It’s also convenient to give a house keeper the combination and can be easily changed if necessary.

Water Damage – Covered or Not?

A number of things can cause water damage to a home and it’s important to know whether they’re covered by your insurance policy. Some water damage may be covered and other may not be. Generally, you need an incident to invoke coverage rather than something gradual due to lack of maintenance.

However, some incidents are specifically exempt from homeowner policies such as floods. A flood can be described as rising water due to overflow of inland or tidal waters or unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source.

Homes in designated high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance.

Even if you don’t live in a dedicated flood zone, you could be affected by flood damage. Review your policy about water damage and call your insurance agent to get a better understanding. Ask if you need to purchase additional coverage or separate flood insurance along with other questions.

Flood insurance can be purchased for the building and the contents. The average flood insurance policy costs about $600 per year. For more information, see the National Flood Insurance Program.

Who Do You Call ?

While the Internet is a great resource to locate information about food, travel and a number of other things, it isn’t necessarily the best place to find a local service provider.

Sure, you can run the search, get quick results and may even see some fairly impressive websites. The problem is that sometimes, those sites are run by companies that sell the leads to providers who may not be as experienced as you’re expecting.

Instead of taking a chance on a total stranger, a personal recommendation could yield you more satisfactory results. Most real estate transactions require some work to be done to the house either in preparation prior to the sale or to meet requirements from the buyer or inspector after the sale is made.

Looking for a service provider on the Internet is easy. Contact me for a recommendation is easier still and you can trust that they’ll be reputable and reasonable. I want to be your personal source of real estate information.

Safety and Security at Home

A quick once-over of the items on this list may improve the safety and security of your home and could protect your family and friends. It is important to periodically pay attention to these things because things change over time.

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  • Does each exterior door have a deadbolt?
  • Does the lock on each window work?
  • Have you added pins or clips to your windows for additional security?
  • Do you have dowels or broom sticks in the track of windows and sliding glass doors?
  • Do you have security company labels or signs displayed prominently?
  • Do you have an alarm system? Is the system monitored?
  • Do you have a dog that barks when strangers approach the home?
  • Are emergency numbers posted near the telephones?

Fire

  • Do you have smoke detectors near all sleeping areas?
  • Do you check the batteries monthly and change them annually?
  • Do you have two carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Do you have an escape ladder for upper floors?
  • Do you have fire extinguishers near exits and in the kitchen?
  • Do you have an emergency escape plan and is the family familiar with it?
  • Are any outlets or switches warm to the touch?
  • Are kitchen ventilation systems working properly?
  • Is the dryer ventilated to the outside and is the exhaust free of lint?
  • Is the furnace cleaned and serviced yearly?
  • Is the space around the hot water heater clear of combustible materials?

Falls

  • Are all electrical and phone cords out of the flow of traffic?
  • Are rugs and runners slip resistant?
  • Is your step-stool sturdy and in good condition?
  • Are stairs clear of objects that could cause a fall?
  • Are all entrance ways, exits, halls and walks well lighted?
  • Do bath tubs and showers have non-skid strips or suction mats in them?

Other

  • Do you keep drugs and medicines out of reach and sight of small children?
  • Are interior doors designed so small children cannot lock themselves in rooms?
  • Are pool and play areas fenced to keep small children in and uninvited guests out?
  • Are firearms kept out of reach and sight of children?
  • Is a well-stocked first aid kit available for emergencies?
  • Is there one member of your family trained in first aid, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver?

Neighborhood Eyesore!

It can be unsightly and upsetting when a home in a neighborhood isn’t being maintained like the others. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, paint peeling on the home or even a car parked in front of the home that hasn’t moved in weeks.

I believe most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct the issue once it is brought to their attention. In some cases, they may not agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.

The most expedient solution may be to contact the responsible person and describe your perception of the problem. An owner-occupant may be sympathetic to the neighbors and more than willing to correct the issue.

However, if you suspect that it is a rental property, check with the county tax records to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and would actually welcome the “heads-up” to protect their investment.

The next step might be to notify the homeowner’s association if there is one. The covenants or bylaws will specify how properties must be maintained and the association can enforce them.

The final step would be to notify the city for a possible code violation. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance.