Homeownership Rules to Live By!

Most people agree that homeownership rules! When asked, people say they want a home they can call their own, to raise their family, share with their friends and to feel safe and secure. It also accounts for the majority of most people’s net worth.

These rules can help protect your investment and make homeownership more enjoyable.

  1. Don’t overpay for your home
  2. Maintain your home’s condition
  3. Minimize your assessed value to lower property taxes
  4. Make extra principal contributions to save interest and build equity
  5. Validate the insured value of improvements and contents
  6. Stay current on surrounding property values
  7. Make mortgage interest payments deductible
  8. Invest in capital improvements that increase market value
  9. Don’t over-improve the neighborhood
  10. Keep records of capital improvements and other maintenance
We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we’re committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between.

Safe and Secure…

Home is a place you should feel safe and secure. Sometimes, we take it for granted and unfortunately, we do need to remain vigilant about things we do that could compromise our well-being. Here are a few tips you might want to consider.

  1. Everyone loves an inviting home including burglars. Make sure it looks occupied and is difficult to break in.
    • Always lock outside doors and windows even if you’re gone only a short time.
    • Leave lights on when you leave. Consider timers to automatically control the lights.
    • Keep your garage door closed even when you’re home; don’t tempt thieves with what you have in your garage.
    • Suspend your mail and newspaper delivery when you’re out of town or get a neighbor to pick it up for you.
  2. Posting that you’re out of town or away from home on social networks is like advertising your home is unprotected.
  3. Equally dangerous could be allowing certain social network sites to track your location.
  4. Don’t leave keys under doormats, in flowerpots or the plastic rocks; thieves know about those hiding places and even more than you can think.
  5. Trim the shrubs from around your home; don’t give criminals a place to hide.

Save Money…Be Comfortable

Automatic thermostats can lower your monthly utility costs while conveniently regulating your comfort by adjusting temperatures on your heating and cooling systems. These can be particularly effective in homes with zoned systems where you live in one area during the day but sleep in a different zone.

There are programmable thermostats available at home improvement stores that can make the adjustments for specific times during the day and specific days of the week. They’ll allow you to override the setting when needed without tampering with the programming. They’ll even remind you to change your filter.

An exciting development is the Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that allows adjustments from any Internet connection such as computer or Smartphone. Imagine how convenient it can be to change your temperature from the car before you get home.

Reasonably priced under $100 for most models, it makes it easy to recapture the cost of the thermostat quickly. Most of the thermostats are designed for do-it-yourselfers; however, you can always have a heating and cooling professional install it for you.

Insurance and Your Valuables

Personal computers have been around long enough that everyone has experienced or knows someone who has lost their data due to a hard drive crash, accident or burglary. If they had a backup, the loss was inconvenient but not critical.

Do you have a backup for your personal belongings? Not that you need duplicates of all the items but do you have a journal listing of all the items with a description and their approximate values? That record becomes the backup that supports the claim for your insurance.

If a building sustains a total loss, the insurance company will usually pay the face amount of the policy. When it comes to personal property which might be 40% to 50% of the insured value of the dwelling, the insurance company is going to expect an accounting with receipts or at least, a relatively recent inventory.

The better your inventory, the less likely you’ll have difficulty with the claim. Almost everyone has a digital camera that can take stills and probably even videos. The combination of the images as well as a written description will help you replace the belongings and serve as proof to the insurance company.

Once you’ve made the inventory, store it off site for safe keeping. Online storage in the “cloud” might be the best place to insure you’ll always know where it is. Contact me for a free Home Inventory form; it’s my way of helping you be a better homeowner.

Before You Call the Repairman

Have you ever had a service company to your home to repair something and find out that it really wasn’t “broken”? It probably conjured up ambivalent feelings of joy that it wasn’t something serious and frustration that you had to pay a service call for something so simple.

Before you call the repairman next time, keep these things in mind to see if it is something simple:

  • Disposer not working – check to see if the reset button has been thrown. It is usually on the bottom of the disposer. If the disposer is making a humming sound, the blades may be stuck. While the disposer is turned off, use a wooden broom handle as a lever to gently rotate the blades. Remove the broom handle and turn on the disposer to see if it works properly.
  • Air conditioner not working – check to see if a breaker has thrown on your electric panel. You might need to flip the breaker completely off and flip it back on.
  • Electrical outlets not working – Electrical plugs in bathrooms or outside, especially on a porch or patio, are many times connected to a ground fault interrupter. The GFI will be a wall outlet and it may be located in the garage. Locate the outlet and reset the button that may have tripped.
  • Clogged drain – a simple way to correct a slow or clogged drain is to use the water pressure from a garden hose. You’ll need a helper to turn on the water full-blast once you have safely placed the hose in the drain and are holding a hand-towel around the hose to direct the water to the drain. Be prepared to tell your helper to turn off the water when needed.

Whether it’s preparing a home to market or arranging repairs required by the sale, REALTORS® know reputable, reasonable and reliable service contractors. We’re here to share our contacts with you to help make home ownership better.

Fix It Anyway

“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is certainly popular advice, but if you’ve ever had a serious plumbing leak, you certainly wished you had taken care of the problem earlier.

Washing machines, like all appliances, are supposed to work and when they don’t, it’s time to have them fixed or replaced. However, there is a critical connection from your water supply that may even be older than your washing machine itself.

As someone whose hose broke while my family was out of town, I can attest to how quickly the water can damage walls, and possessions.  In my case the only saving grace in this lesson was that my utility room is located in the garage – typical for the age of my home – and most the of the damage was confined to the utility room and garage.  Almost anyone can replace the hoses with a pair of pliers for under $30.00 to avoid this potential catastrophe.

As you’re shopping for the replacement hoses, consider the braided stainless steel connectors. The advantage is that the stainless steel offers additional protection should a soft spot develop in the hose beneath. They’ll cost a little more but offer considerably more protection for a nominal price.

In search of an honest man

Similar to Diogenes’ search for an honest man, homeowners want someone to do quality repairs at a fair price.  The task appears reasonably easy but if you’ve ever tried to locate someone to fix something, you know just how difficult it is.

Finding a list of companies from a phone book doesn’t mean they’ll be reasonable and reliable, it just means they have a phone and are willing to pay for an ad.  Searching on the Internet may direct you to a website that appears to be a local company but really is a marketing company who will sell the lead to a repairman or company who will pay a referral fee.

There are consumer organizations like Angie’s list who rate repairmen and contractors but they usually require an annual membership fee to be able to access the information.  There are also services like Renovation Experts or Service Magic that are registries for contractors but they may not be the most competitively priced.  

Your best recommendations are going to come from friends, family and neighbors you trust who have actually used the repairmen before and would use them again.  The problem here is that you might have to make multiple calls before you can find a friend who can recommend the type contractor you need.

Repairs are a normal part of selling homes and we certainly come in contact with lots of contractors.  This experience leads us to understand who is reputable and reasonable as well as who to avoid.  As part of our commitment to helping you be a better homeowner from the time you buy your home until you sell it, we’re more than happy to make a recommendation of good repairmen or other professionals you might need.  Give us a call…we want to help.

There’s No Place Like Home!

 

You don’t have to be Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz to feel like there’s no place like home.

Home is a place to call your own. It’s a place to raise your family and share with your friends. It’s a place to create memories. A home is a place to feel safe and secure.

Inspect all of your decorations and electrical lighting before using them. While you’re enjoying the holidays this year, it’s important to pay attention to some of the things that may affect your safety.

  • Extension cords should not be placed under the carpet or rugs or bundled together which could cause overheating.
  • Limit three standard size sets of lights to a single extension cord.
  • Consider using portable or permanent ground fault circuit interrupters with all lighting to avoid possible shocks.
  • Turn off holiday lights when you leave the home or got to bed.
  • Avoid using candles near trees or wreaths.
  • Do not allow natural trees to dry out during the time they’re displayed to potential fire hazard.
  • Make certain that all trees are on a firm, steady base to avoid tipping over.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper in fireplaces.
  • Small children are particularly susceptible to accidents and should be protected from potential harm.
Here’s hoping your time at home is special during this holiday season. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.