New Year, New Start!

New Year, New Start,

As 2018 has come to close, you’re no doubt busy drafting up a list of resolutions to get 2019 off to a strong start.  As you’re writing up your goals, plans, and aspirations, you might find yourself looking around your current home and thinking that the time has come to upgrade.  I’m here to help you cross off buying or selling your home from that resolution list!

I’m seeing the trends from earlier in the year continuing on into 2019.  Prices on new construction are continuing to rise, which means buyers are more likely to pursue a pre-existing home.  Earlier this year, as demand outpaced supply, a fiercely competitive market led to rising home prices nationwide.  However, buyers should be experiencing some relief.  From coast to coast, the number of closings has dropped to a four-year low point.  A longer time spent on the market means that sellers will be more willing to negotiate on their list price.  This good news to buyers may sound like bad news for sellers—but have no fear.  I’m here to work with you to set a list price that will keep you happy and bring in the right buyer.

Now that the champagne has been poured and Auld Lang Syne has been sung, give me a call today!   I can help you assess your current standing and get you on the road to homeownership today.

Happy New Year!

New Year's Resolutions For Your Home

Sure, you can make a resolution to start hitting the gym or eating better, but don’t neglect your home! These New Year’s resolutions will help your space look better, which will naturally make you feel better—and there’s no kale or cardio involved!

Declutter!

Not only will it look great to have cleaned-out those closets and cleared-off those counters, but it will feel great, too. “It turns out that your well-being could also become victim to what we might call the ‘clutter effect,’” said Psychology Today.“A collection of recent studies on stress, life satisfaction, physical health, and cognition all speak to the value of streamlining.”

Donate, donate donate

There are so many worthy organizations out there who are desperate for clothes, shoes, linens, and housewares. Let The Pinnacle List help you decide what to let go of. “Employ the 6-month rule,” they said. “It’s undeniably hard to get rid of things you have fond memories of, but if you need to reevaluate your space needs, it’s time to start donating or throwing out some of your stuff. If you have clothing, odds and ends, or even appliances that you haven’t used in the past six months, odds are that’s not going to change out of the blue. If it’s hit the half-year mark and those items are gathering dust, put them in the donation bin.”

Get your credit in check

Do you check your credit report every year? You can do so for free, and keeping up with your credit report frequently will ensure that you can quickly take care of anything that’s incorrect. Make this the year that you also take care of legitimate issues on your credit. Whether you’re already a homeowner and aren’t intending to move anytime soon or are looking to buy this year, getting your credit in order and improving your score can leave you better prepared for anything that pops up.

Clear out the entry

You don’t notice the pile of shoes and tangle of jackets and umbrellas right inside your front door, but everyone who comes through your house does. Take a fresh look at your home this and resolve to streamline that entry. You know what they say about first impressions.

Invest in a good mattress

We don’t want to invoke the selling proposition of mattress companies, because, frankly, that whole seven-year rule (and the reason they say to replace your mattress every seven years) is disgusting. So, we’ll just leave it at this: You deserve to be more comfortable. And, you can do that these days rather inexpensively. Business Insider’s most recommended option is the Leese Sapira Mattress for $1,360, while the much-loved Nectar is just $699.

Clean your showerhead

Your shower could be SO. MUCH. BETTER. And don’t you deserve a better shower in 2019? Chances are, the flow is being compromised. Thankfully, the fix is easy. “If the flow from your showerhead is growing weaker, the cause is probably mineral buildup,” said Family Handyman. “Many manufacturers recommend that you remove the showerhead and soak it in a half-and-half mixture of warm water and vinegar (any type). But there’s really no need to remove the head. Just pour the mix into a heavy-duty plastic bag and attach it to the shower arm with a rubber band. The acid in the vinegar dissolves minerals, but prolonged contact can harm some plastics and metal finishes, so remove the bag every 15 minutes and check the shower flow.”

Make your money make money

This is a great time to review your bank accounts and credit cards to see if you’re getting the best yield and interest rates. There are some great high-yield bank accounts offered by online-only banks, while zero-interest credit cards are a great option for those who want to transfer a balance so they can pay it off more quickly.

Pump up your emergency fund

If you already have one, it may be time to up the amount you contribute. If you don’t have one and think you’re too strapped for cash to start putting away money for a rainy day, even the couple bucks you save here and there from skipping Starbucks can help. An “emergency savings fund provides a financial safety net, and your new home is the perfect reason to start one,” said NerdWallet. “Remember, if the furnace quits on a cold night, there’s no landlord to call. Laid off unexpectedly or surprised by major car repairs? Mortgage payments are still expected on time and in full. Without an emergency fund, these expenses could force you into credit card debt or worse. Ideally, your emergency fund should cover several months of expenses, but it’s OK to start small. Set aside a portion of every paycheck with the goal of saving $500 as quickly as possible, and then contribute as much as you can moving forward.”

Take a look at your insurance

Are your homeowner’s insurance and car insurance policies handled by separate companies? You could be missing out on big discounts. Ask friends and family for a referral to an insurance broker who can review your current insurance, make recommendations, and hopefully find you better options. Depending on where you live, you may also want to ask about insurance for things like earthquakes, floods, and fires, which may not be required but would give you greater peace of mind.

Become more water-wise

A few simple changes can reduce the amount of water you use at home and save you money “Our houses are thirsty,” said Houselogic. “The average household uses about 400 gallons of water each day, or almost $700 per year in water and sewer costs. Making a few simple changes, such as installing EPA-certified WaterSense products, could trim up to $200 from your annual water bill. Add to that energy savings from reduced costs to heat water, and your yearly savings could reach $300 or more per year. Replacing your pre-1994, water-guzzling toilet with a low-flow toilet prevents $90 worth of water costs from being flushed away. HE (high-efficiency) toilets use compressed air and electric water pumps to flush with less than 1 gallon of water; older models required up to 8 gallons.” 

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Keeping Up Your Home's Curb Appeal

Homeowners are responsible for the quality of their home with the maintenance and care that they provide for the building throughout the year. Every home requires a specific amount of upkeep to ensure that it maintains its value and has a high level of appeal. To keep your neighbors in awe of your home, there are a few important steps to take to allow it to stand out in the local area.

Install a Fence

The curb appeal of your home is one of the most important features of the property and determines how much it stands out in the neighborhood. A fence can enclose your yard and prevent animals or those passing by from walking on the grass. The fence is also considered to be an extra security measure that can deter intruders from accessing the building if they are planning a break-in.

To enhance the design of your home, choose a cast iron fence to create a contemporary design that looks high-end and increases the value of your home with a regal touch. You can also add a white picket fence that is classic with its style and will look timeless in future years.

Add a New Mailbox

The mailbox is one of the first features of the home that is noticed by your neighbors and should be updated. If your mailbox is worn or the letters have faded, consider installing a new box that has fresh paint and is visible for the mailman to see while passing by your home. Choose a mailbox that matches the style of your house to ensure that it blends in well with the property. You can also install a new mailbox on the front porch to make it easy to access and visible from the outside.

Paint the Exterior

The color of your home will determine the appearance of your property, making it important to paint the exterior with a fresh coat of paint that allows the home to look updated. Consider choosing a neutral color that blends in with the rest of the houses on the block to ensure that it doesn't stand out or look awkward. Using a bold color can cause it to lose its value. The trim or paint on the shutters should complement the main shade of the home.

Purchase the Required Backings

There are many features of your home that may become damaged due to natural disasters or water damage on the property. You can protect your pocketbook by obtaining a home warranty. This will cover the cost of repairs when they're needed. The service contract can replace your wooden floors if pipes burst or appliances that have worn out, to ensure that you save money over time and still maintain the quality of your home.

Remove Clutter

Keeping your yard tidy will allow it to stand out by removing toys, equipment, or lawn decorations that can detract from the appeal of the property. Make it a point to remove clutter that develops during the week, which will create an appealing environment that makes it look like the home is maintained well.

Increase Your Landscaping

The landscaping is the first impression that is made on your guests and neighbors. Knowing this makes it important to mow the lawn every week or two and pull weeds that can damage the yard over time. You can also add extra color to the property with flower pots on and around the porch and shrubs that fill in bare spots near the siding of the home. Add fertilizer to the lawn to increase the color of the grass and water it in longer increments to allow the soil to soak in more moisture, which will penetrate the roots and will allow it to grow more in the spring and summer seasons.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

6 Reasons To Adopt A Green Lifestyle

While the planet we live on has suited human needs for thousands of years, Earth's bounty may not last forever. Based on research and observation, scientists and environmentalists have good reason to believe our planetary home is in trouble.

According to the United Nations, a whirlwind of issues, many of which are likely caused by man, threaten to harm our precious Earth in irreversible ways. From greenhouse gas emissions to air pollution, deforestation, and issues with water and waste, the human impact on our planet has become real. And if we don’t change, we face both unintended and potentially permanent consequences.

According to most experts, the biggest issue we face is climate change. Although the Earth’s temperature has ebbed and flowed throughout the course of history, some evidence suggests human activity is altering its natural path.

While some environmental changes can be easily explained, much of the evidence for climate change is compelling. According to NASA, global sea levels are rising faster than in recorded history and global temperatures are surging, with 15 of the 16 hottest years in history taking place since 2001. Ocean temperatures continue to rise while artic sea ice retreats. Decreased snow cover, ocean acidification, and global weather events provide even more proof our planet is changing.

Fortunately, there is plenty anyone can do to change the course of history. If you’re losing sleep over environmental issues, you can do more than worry – you can act. With the introduction of new technologies and new, Earth-friendly products, it’s easier to “go green” than ever before.

You can’t change the planet on your own, but you can take steps to reduce your environmental footprint, limit waste, and create a sustainable lifestyle. Keep reading to learn more about cheap green living and the steps you can take today.

Why Go Green?

When you think of “going green” or adopting an Earth-friendly lifestyle, what comes to mind? Do you picture living “off the grid?” Radical left protesters? Hippies abandoning regular lives to live among the animals?

Those ideas probably make you chuckle, and that’s okay. The good news is, you don’t have to be a radical or drastically change your life to help the planet or reduce your impact. When it comes to “going green” this is one of the biggest misconceptions we face. Many families assume they must uproot their lives or make huge changes to reduce their impact on the planet.

And even once you get past the stigma, you’ll also find that far too many people overestimate the costs of caring for the environment. Maybe they read how expensive going green can be in the past. Or, perhaps they just wrongly assume any potential changes they could make would be expensive.

Regardless of what you’ve read or heard, taking steps to help our planet doesn’t have to break the bank. For every costly change you make, there are several Earth-friendly alternatives that are 100 percent free!

We’ll get to some of those steps in a minute. But first, let’s talk about why. Why should you care about the Earth? Why should you take steps to change? Further, why should you spend your own money “going green?”

Believe it or not, embracing a greener lifestyle isn’t just about saving polar bears; it can also improve your health, boost your bank account, and improve your quality of life. With all those potential benefits, shouldn’t everyone want to get on board?

Here are six of the most important reasons you should adopt a green lifestyle today:

Reason #1: This is the only planet we’ll ever have.
The top reason to go green is an obvious one; planet Earth is our only home. If we spoil our planet, we can’t move to Jupiter or Mars and start over.

Reason #2: Real food is better for you.
The big benefit here is that most Earth-friendly foods are also foods that are good for you. Fresh vegetables and fruits farmed locally are some of the best foods you can find, for example.

Reason #3: Some “green” technologies can help you save money.
While it’s commonly believed that going green is crazy-expensive, this is no longer the case. Even energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, which are somewhat expensive upfront, will help you save money on your home energy bills over time. Meanwhile, the price of newer technologies like solar panels continues to decrease every year.

Reason #4: Going green can increase your home’s value.
Adding energy-efficient appliances or upgrades to your home will help you save money over the long run. And since buyers love the idea of saving on utilities and energy, you can increase your home’s value and fetch a higher sales price, too.

Reason #5: We need water to live.
If you don’t care about the health of our water, you’re forgetting one crucial detail: We need water to live. As humans, we cannot afford to ignore the health of our water supply.

Reason #6: Green living is often more humane
As the scientific journal Nature noted earlier this year, human diets are directly linked to the health of our planet. More than anything else, a vegetarian or mostly-vegetarian diet is the best way for humans to reduce carbon emissions and stop global warming.

For more great tips on green living, check out "The Ultimate Guide to Cheap Green Living" on couponchief.com.

Michael Tamez is a certified eco-consultant who shares tips, tools and strategies for green living on his website, MichaelTamez.com.

Jeff Wilson has hosted over 200 television episodes on environmental topics for HGTV, The DIY Network, and public television. He currently writes over at The Greenhouse Effect and you can find him on Twitter @tgheffect.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Essentials For Building A Home Office

With more jobs moving outside of traditional offices — it’s been said that 50% of the American workforce will work remotely by 2020 — many career-minded individuals are facing the new reality of having to create their own workspaces. For some, this situation is an exciting possibility; cutting out a commute and staying close to home adds a lot of convenience. However, working remotely introduces new challenges too, especially when it comes to staying productive during those long days without an office space.

The key to staying efficient and on-task is to set up your own dedicated workspace. If you’ll be working at home, building a home office helps create an environment of productivity and replicate a traditional office feeling within your own home. Of course, you should consider a few essentials when setting up an office of your own.

Lighting

According to some sources, the fluorescent lights many traditional office buildings use can be damaging to your eyes. When designing your own office space, you have control over the types of lighting you choose, as well as how bright or dim they are while you work. Choosing options that fit the projects you work on will help you create the perfect lighting system. You should also consider factors like what can protect your eyes and adjust to outside conditions if your home office has a window.

Desk and chair

Getting a desk and chair for your office may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s more to it than picking out something to write on and something to sit on. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in your office chair, you should make sure it provides adequate support and comfort for the long haul.

You should also make sure your desk is well-suited for long days of work. Set up a system of organization for paperwork and any knickknacks you have lying around. In addition, try to use your desk only for work as much as possible. Training your brain to have a dedicated space during work hours can help you stay on-task when you’re working at home.

Necessary technology

Remote workers often lean on technology to connect to others they work with and complete tasks. It’s important to invest in good equipment, from keyboards to storage. In addition, because you’ll most likely be working online, it’s important to have a strong internet connection. Keeping up-to-date on all the technology you’ll need will help prevent tech-based headaches, especially because you won’t have an in-house IT department to fix any issues.

Decorations

Since you’ll be spending a good chunk of each week in this one room, it needs to be a place you find aesthetically appealing. Adding a few decorations can personalize your office and make it a place where you feel comfortable and happy. A word of caution: it can be easy to go overboard on decorations and end up creating visual distractions for yourself. With this in mind, be thoughtful about the items you choose to put in your space. Plants and simple wall art can help your space feel inviting without catching your eye every time you sit down.

Conclusion

Once you’ve got your home office set up and ready to go, you’ll be able to promote a productive and enjoyable workday in the comfort of your own home. Fostering the perfect space to foster productivity and creativity is key to a successful remote working experience.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Should You Decorate With The Color Of The Year?

Pantone just announced the 2019 Color of the Year, and if you’re thinking warm and inviting sounds pretty good this time of year, you’ll love their choice of Living Coral. But should you rush to incorporate the shade into your house? The short answer is: Only if you plan on redoing it again next year, when the 2020 color is announced. The long answer will take a bit longer.

Staying on trend

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, or if you simply love to be on the forefront of trends, using the Color of the Year is a great place to start. Of course, you may not want to splash it all over the walls. As “animating and life-affirming” as this year’s winning color may be, coral is still a bold choice for such a broad expanse.

Wallpaper that features the hue—especially in a temporary version like this WallPops NuWallpaper Coral Grove Peel & Stick Wallpaper if you’re selling your home soon, is a great option that can bring new life to a boring space. A few accessories can also make a big impact in a trendy color. Freshen up the living room couch with a few pillows, drape a throw at the foot of the bed in the master, and swap out a few tired tchotchkes for something more current.

Sticking with classics

The major downside to following trends: “You need to be prepared for the possible necessity of redesigning your rooms once tastes change, especially if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market,” said Freshome.

Neutral colors and classic patterns are two elements that can help you create timeless design that won’t need to be updated every year. “Popcorn ceilings. Shag rugs. Gold fixtures. Open floor plans. Chevron. Shiplap. Each decade has its fair share of home decorating clichés,” said Cheat Sheet. “And no matter how stylish they seem at this moment, every bold choice is bound to become cringe-worthy not too far in the future.” Will Living Coral be on that list by the time the next Pantone Color of the Year rolls around? That remains to be seen.

Going with what you love

Regardless of the trends, it’s your home. And unless you’re planning a home sale imminently, you get to take creative license. That could mean embracing every new trend, color-related or otherwise, ignoring them all, or, most likely picking and choosing to create a home that’s uniquely you.

Want bright red walls in the living room? A dining room with a poker table instead of a place to eat? When it’s your house, you get to make the rules. “Ditch ‘safe’ designs in favor of creative accents and personal touches to make your abode feel one-of-a-kind—just like you,” said Martha Stewart, for “home decorating tips to begin adding a healthy dose of personality into your home.”

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

What To Consider When Buying Your First Home

Buying your first house? You’re likely driven mainly by budget, but there are some other important considerations you may not have thought of that can help you find the perfect place. Not only can these tips help you find a home that really suits your lifestyle, but also helps you afford to live there comfortably.

Can you afford to heat and cool it?

You may only be thinking of home size in terms of the number of rooms or square footage you want. But, in many cases, a larger home costs more to maintain. More space means more space to heat and cool. Although, a home that’s newer or that has updated systems can help defray costs because it’s more efficient. Your real estate agent may be able to get an idea of the monthly utility costs so you can have this information up front.

Who's going to mow the lawn?

If you’ve never had your own lawn or garden, you may not know if you have a green thumb or if you’ll regard the time it takes to care for it as a pleasure or a bummer. Then again, if you’re already dreading the idea of having to spend a couple hours out there each week, perhaps a single-family home isn’t for you. Yeah, you could pay someone else to do it, but you’re already stretching to buy your own place, right? Perhaps the lower-maintenance lifestyle offered by a condo or townhome is the best option for you.

What’s good for resale?

Are you thinking about how easy it will be to sell your home when you’re just about to buy it? Maybe not, but, the truth it it’s always a good idea to think like a seller when buying. Chances are, this starter home won’t be your forever home, and the same questions you have about the floorplan or location are likely the questions would-be buyers will be asking when you go to sell.

As it relates to the floorplan, it’s a good idea to think beyond what you think you might want and consider what’s popular in the area. If homes with downstairs master suites sell especially well and you haven’t considered that plan, this info may make you rethink your strategy.

How close are the schools?

Dying to walk your kids to and from school every day? That’s the dream for many a parent. But what you might not be envisioning is being able to watch—and hear—every kid in the school walk by twice a day, every day. What seems like a super-convenient location right on the walking path to the elementary school may just turn out to be too much of a good thing if it impacts your privacy and peace of mind.

Did anything weird happen there?

Yes, the seller will be required to disclose physical defects and also defects that create the potential for stigmatization. “What you’re talking about is the issue of ‘psychological damage’ to a property, to be distinguished from ‘physical damage,’” said NOLO. “In some cases, the psychological damage is so great—such as after a violent or highly publicized murder or suicide, or widespread reports of haunting—that the house is considered ‘stigmatized’ and therefore less valuable. In most states, the owner would indeed be expected to disclose a defect causing the house to be stigmatized, so that buyers could adjust their expectations and purchase price accordingly.”

A natural death in the home, however, is not generally something that needs to be disclosed. If that’s the type of thing that could keep you from wanting to live there you, just ask. “If a prospective home buyer asks you outright about whether anyone has died in the home, you cannot lie (unless you want to risk being later sued for fraud),” they said. “Also, be prepared for any buyer who is interested in this issue (or shall we say obsessed by it?) to find out the information online, at a site like DiedinHouse.com.”

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Season's Greetings!

Season’s Greetings!

Thanksgiving has ended, you’ve survived the Black Friday shopping crowds, and now it’s time to chop down that tree and string up those lights. But maybe while you’re getting out all of your decorations, you take a look at your current housing situation and think you’d like to give yourself the present of a new home this holiday season.

Continuing the patterns we saw last month, the market is continuing to slow nationwide. Based on current trends, we expect that this is likely to persist possibly all the way into spring. This means that the average selling price for homes has begun to level out. However, good news for buyers may be worrisome for those looking to sell. But don’t get too concerned—talk with your agent today in order to set a fair price for your home that both you and prospective buyers will find mutually agreeable.

The holidays can be stressful—don’t add anxieties about buying or selling your home this winter to the pile! I’m standing by to help you find your next house and evaluate your current standing. You’ll be ringing in the new year in the ho-ho-home that’s perfect for you and your family!

Happy Holidays!

Tips For Selecting An Interior Door

Take a minute to count the number of doors in your house. Surprising, right? Consider then, the impact that a little attention to the doors can have on the overall style and design of your home. Whether you're just moving in or staging for a sale, new doors are a simple way to dramatically update the space. The good news is that there are as many styles of doors as there are doors in your home. Making the decision is the toughest part.

Let's take a look at the options:

Materials

Prices for interior doors vary depending on what they're made of. There are pros and cons associated with the materials themselves that are worth considering before you start thinking about the different styles available.

Solid Wood: Believe it or not, most residential doors are not solid wood, but they offer such excellent soundproofing that they are a very popular upgrade. The weight of a solid wood door also lends a high-end feel when you swing it open or shut. Available in all kinds of wood, from exotic mahogany to the most common pine, solid wood gives you the option of staining to accentuate the beauty of the wood or painting to work with your decor.

Solid Core: These doors are actually constructed of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which is essentially an engineered hardwood that is available in wood-grain or smooth finishes. These, too, offer great sound proofing and that high-end heft, and are arguably the best value for your money.

Hollow Core: These are the most common and affordable doors available. Hollow-core doors are constructed with wood grain or smooth panels that cover a honeycomb-like center. Hollow-core doors are much lighter in weight and offer less soundproofing, but the upside is affordability.

Prehung or Slab: Finally, it's important to consider whether you will hang the door in an existing door frame, or purchase a door that is prehung in its frame. Hanging a heavier door is a more delicate process, so we recommend homeowners interested in solid wood doors consider prehung options. A lighter, hollow-core door is simple to hang from existing hinges as it doesn't have much impact in terms of weight.

Style

Once you've decided on the type of door that best fits your needs, it's time to think about style. Regardless of construction material, these are some of our favorites:

Panel: Panel doors offer a little detail and history. The panels are constructed of rails and stiles to create two-, four- or six-panel options. Rails and stiles can be straight or curved to match your design aesthetic. Straight lines tend to fade to the background, which is often the best option when you're upgrading several doors in one space. Panel doors work well in more traditional design styles. Whether solid wood or hollow core, a black, six-panel door adds instant style and interest.

Flush: Flush doors are just that: smooth, with no detailing. The lack of detail makes them a good choice in any decor, but especially if you're working with more contemporary styles and accessories. This is also a style that can carry bright, citrus colors without overwhelming the space.

French doors: French doors are a beautiful upgrade in the right spot. The detailing of the panes—and the light they bring—improve the look of any space, and the value as well. Great for exterior doors, they can also help open up interior spaces while still offering boundaries, both visually and spatially.

Pocket doors: Pocket doors are problem solvers. They are the perfect solution in tight spaces, or as a way to add a little privacy within a larger space. They also add a custom flair. Installation requires wall space on one side of the door large enough to accommodate the door when it's open. Don't forget that these are also available in flush and panel styles.

Specialty doors

Of course, there are a few door styles too stylish to leave off the list. These are our picks:

Barn doors are a beautiful way to add real visual interest and architectural flair, and are much simpler to install than you might guess. A simple track above the door holds the panels and allows them to slide open and closed. Choose rustic, natural wood tones and textures or more tailored and polished door panels.

Frosted glass inserts are a great way to let in the light and maintain privacy while adding a very custom, high-end look. Great for closet doors, they also work well in other interior and exterior situations.

Those are just a few of our favorites. What's on your wish list for interior doors?

Kerrie Kelly is an award-winning interior designer and the founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in northern California. Kerrie writes on interior design topics for Home Depot. Many of the interior doors mentioned by Kerrie in the article can be viewed online at www.homedepot.com/b/Doors-Windows-Doors/N-5yc1vZas82.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

A Guide To Family-Friendly Pest Control

Your home is a safe haven for your family, a harbor from the rough waters of life, an abode full of treasured memories and love. But sometimes it can become a home for uninvited guests of the six-legged variety. When this occurs, it's time to take action. Addressing and preventing pest infestations keeps your family healthy and staves off potential damages to your home. Here are the steps necessary to take before and after noticing signs of pests in your home.

#1: Set a Threshold

In contrast to old-school seek-and-destroy methods of dealing with pests, the more modern, moderate and effective approach is the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Described as a series of evaluations, informed decisions and control actions, IPM manages pest issues economically, with minimal risk to the environment, property and people.

The first step in an IPM program is to decide what the pest threshold is in your home. Catching a glimpse of one bug scurrying off into the night does not qualify as an emergency. You and your family need to come to a consensus based on the quantity and frequency of sightings as to if the presence of pests in your home poses an economical, environmental or health threat to you or your loved ones.

#2: Know Thy Enemy

After defining your problem perimeters, the next step in this process is to know what you are dealing with. By identifying and researching the type of pest, you will know what it is you are up against. Different insects require different tactics, so before declaring war, learn their behaviors and motivations and understand their weaknesses. Plus, the more you know about your unwelcome visitors, the more likely you will be able to prevent infestations in the future.

#3: Understand the Dangers

When most people think of pest control, they automatically think of pesticides. Though clearly they are a mild form of chemical warfare, pesticides have been widely utilized since the 1950s. It was not until recently that the health and safety of users, as well as the possibility of negative environmental effects, came into question. In the U.S., the average citizen has more that 40 different kinds of pesticides present in their system, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are not the ingredients of a healthy, happy family home, especially since children have weaker immune systems than adults and tend to spend more time in close proximity to the floor, the surface where pesticides are usually applied.

Children are also more vulnerable to the toxins found in pesticides and exposure to these chemicals could potentially cause neurological complications. Extreme subjection to weed killers, pesticides and insecticides has been linked to the onset of learning disabilities, and 50 percent of pesticide poisoning cases in America have been in children under the age of six.

#4: Prevent and Defend

Not only do traditional pesticides pose threats to humans and the environment, but they are sometimes ineffective. Many products only target pests at one phase in the life cycle, usually the adult phase, leaving larvae to hatch and perpetuate the infestation. In some cases, the insects develop an immunity or resistance to the pesticide, making the infestation even worse.

If you are attempting to fend off your family garden from nefarious attackers, instead of using pesticides, try alternating the kinds of crops you plant, using pest-resistant varieties and prepping the garden area with pest-free rootstock. Inside your home, repair any torn or broken door and window screens and caulk all cracks in your kitchen and bathrooms. Plug any openings that are bigger than one quarter inch with steel wool or cement to prevent vermin like mice from crawling through or chewing through the material.

#5: Assert Control

If you have completed steps one through four and still have unwanted guests, it is time to select a method of control. In this phase, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you take into consideration two things: risk and effectiveness. Try less abrasive pest treatments first, like disrupting and disorienting the invaders through the use of pheromones or non-toxic traps. If necessary, more aggressive control methods should be employed through targeted and limited use of pesticide sprays.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

7 Reasons Quartz Counters Are The Answer For Your Kitchen

Has the tide finally turned on granite? In the last few years, granite has continued to be a popular choice for kitchen counters, but has lost ground to quartz, which is now the go-to for homebuyers and renovators, not to mention design shows and flippers. If you're getting ready to redo your kitchen or are building a new home, here are all the reasons to swaddle your counters in quartz.

1. Endless options

Whether you're looking for something super sleek or want to replicate the look of natural stone without the maintenance, you can find it in quartz.

"One of the main reasons quartz has exploded in popularity is due to appearance," said HGTV. "Quartz has the look of stone while also allowing homeowners to customize the design. While granite offers many options in terms of appearance, you may have to search for the right piece that matches your color scheme. With quartz, the selection process is much easier."

2. May be better for larger surfaces

The prevailing trend in kitchens today is an open kitchen with a large island. But large slabs of granite to cover an entire surface in one piece are hard to come by, sometimes even nonexistent depending on the size, and are expensive if they are found. More likely, more than one granite slab will need to be used for a large island or expansive countertops. Because quartz is engineered, it can be created in larger slabs. And if more than one slab is needed, seaming them together looks, well, seamless because there is no need to carefully color match natural pieces together as you would do with granite.

3. Easy maintenance

Granite needs to be resealed one a year, which is no big deal for most people. But the daily care required of granite can push them toward toward a solid surface like quartz. "With quartz, cleaning the counter is easy. The quartz washes off with soap and water and looks as good as new. You don't have to use special bacteria-preventing soaps," said Leeza Surfaces.

4. No staining

A main consideration for many people when choosing countertops is warding off stains. Juice, wine, or other food and drinks can permanently stain granite. According to HGTV, "Some oils and acids can stain" as well.

5. Scratches and burns

Granite can also scratch and burn, ruining the look. Quartz is scratch resistant and able to handle hot pots without burning or discoloring, although it's not recommended you put anything super hot directly down on either surface.

6. Cost

Granite can be less expensive than quartz depending on the grade of the stone, but, when it comes to exotic granite, "Quartz is less expensive," said Leeza Surfaces.

7. Eco-friendliness

"The only way granite ends up in your kitchen is if it's quarried and that uses a lot of energy. If you opt for a high-end slab from Italy, for example, there will be considerable transportation involved. Try using indigenous stone when possible or visit salvage shops for pieces that can be cut to fit your needs," said HGTV. "Since quartz is engineered, it can be more environmentally-friendly than granite if you use regionally manufactured stone and local fabricators. This cuts down on the distance the material needs to be transported."

If that's not enough to convince you, maybe these quartz kitchens will do the trick.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Most Desirable Features For Home Buyers Revealed

Some main features seem to be appreciated by all home buyers. This is why it is wise to try and second guess those, and adapt your property to those, previously to listing your property. Over the years, buyer’s preferences have changed, but some main improvements and additions seem to be maintained at the top of the list.

A generous garden

When it comes to those extra advantages brought by a property, one of the main preferences that most buyers seem to have in common is a generous garden. If it’s a well-defined space, even better. Keep the garden clean and tidy, in such a fashion to clearly delimitate itself from the neighbouring properties. This seems to be highly regarded by all home buyers. Invest in your garden’s appeal, as well. Buyers love to be presented with the opportunities offered by such spaces. Invest in some garden furniture and try to create an intimate and cozy space. Flower pots and some ornamental bushes will certainly help you meet the most severe demands of your potential buyers.

Hardwood floors are more popular than carpets

There is no secret that all buyers seem to be searching for those extra features in a home. And most obviously, a hardwood floor will be more valued in their opinion than a basic and unappealing carpet. Instead of investing your money in a carpet replacement, make sure to uncover the beautiful floors underneath. In some cases, you may discover a precious hardwood floor. With a little sanding and a fresh top coat, you will bring it to an exquisite design, a design to die for, at least in potential buyer’s opinion.

A properly insulated house will sell faster

In buyer’s opinion, investing in insulation is nothing more than an extra step – a lengthy one, even – to their happiness in their new house. If you want a fast and profitable house sale, you should urgently hire some attic insulation services and extensive insulation services, if the property lacks proper insulation. Sure, this may translate into more expenses for you, but these expenses will be recovered at the sale. Sure, all of us might prefer finding this highly important aspect already fixed when moving in a new home, wouldn’t we? Keep in mind that proper insulation is due to decrease electricity bills, and most house buyers tend to look for those properties with increased energy efficiency.

White kitchen cabinets over darker shades

This might be an unconscious choice, but buyers seem to be more likely to buy a property where the kitchen is equipped with light cabinets. In case the property lacks proper natural light, these will lighten the room and make it look more spacious than it actually is. Dark cabinets are more likely to make the space look gloomy and closely, which is an instance that you preferably want to avoid.

Properties with home offices are selling better

More than 12 million of Americans work from home or freelance. This is a common trend especially amongst young individuals, that find themselves at the age of their first home. Many potential buyers don’t give themselves too much time to think about a certain property if it is equipped with a home office. They simply buy it! As technology and flexible hours make their entrance into worker’s lives, they seem to appreciate the availability of an extra room that can be successfully used as an office.

Low-maintenance properties

Especially amongst young buyers, low-maintenance properties will certainly sell better than those crowded and easy to clean and maintain ones. A granite countertop, a carpet-free property is preferable to the opposed options, as these are perceived as hassle-free options. A property equipped with a dishwasher and “disposable” elements will also sell better. We are more inclined, as a society, to replace than to repair. The new homebuyer generation is fundamentally different than the previous ones. This generation wants to have their spare time to themselves and despise daunting hose chores. A low maintenance property will certainly appeal to them.

Energy efficient homes

We previously mentioned how today’s home buyer is looking for already insulated properties. With energy costs always on a peak, today’s buyer will appreciate properties equipped with solar panels that allow them to save even more on energy expenses. Not only a finances matter, for the new homebuyer generation, but also an environmental concern. This is one of the reasons for which young buyers would prefer to spend a little extra only to pride themselves on a self-sustainable property. Buyers tend to factor extra costs that appear in the long run for properties that aren’t energy efficient and seem to be very likely to dismiss those from the start.

Online photos of the property

This seems an incredibly superficial reason to purchase a property, but today’s buyer is less likely to take a trip to only see a property, if there aren’t available some reliable pictures on the listing website. For them, this is an utter waste of time, time that we previously established that they value very much. This new trend emerged with the technological revolution. As buyers are more likely to search for properties online, they also expect to be provided with reliable research materials – photographs of the property, in this case. Viewing the property’s location on online maps will also help them make a decision faster. In 2014, more than 60% of the buyers claimed that they viewed after seeing an online listing. This is why you need to take some appealing shots of your property, before uploading your ad to a local real estate directory.

These are some details for which today’s buyer will search for when looking for a property to invest in. Keep in mind that today’s buyer is nothing like the previous generations that were choosing to purchase their homes instead of renting them. Make sure to accommodate the needs of these young buyers, if you want to increase your chances for a fast and profitable house sale.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Selling A House? Your Guide To The Housing Market

The US economy is doing fine. It is the hottest we have seen since the 1990s. Salaries are high and unemployment is low. Generally, that brings good news for the housing market. Sellers benefit from the fact that there are more buyers in the market. In retrospect, 2018 was largely a seller’s market but things seem to slow down since August.

Higher interest rates and rising home prices are driving sellers away at the moment. Stats from August till October point toward a cool down. Home sales are around 13 percent down compared to last year.

Does that mean the market will soon flip in buyers’ favor? What does that mean for someone interested in selling a house?

Things aren’t as simple as they seem. Real estate experts believe that the market will stay on the seller’s side for yet another year. Despite the lack of buyers, sellers will still be able to take advantage of the booming economy and lack of inventory.

If you are interested in selling a house fall may not be a bad time for you. To know if the market is still on your side, you need to understand how and why the market swings between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market.

When Is the Market in Seller’s Favor?

Seller’s market shows a good time to sell a house while a buyer’s market means buyers are more likely to find a good bargain.

Many factors affect the market such as the number of buyers and volume of inventory. A higher number of buyers means a better chance of selling your home at a good price. A higher volume of inventory means buyers have more choices and an upper hand.

Economic factor also plays an important part. As the economy improves, so does the affordability. More and more people will own a home because they are more confident about their affordability power.

However, excessively high property prices and mortgage rates can often overshadow these economic factors.

So, who does the market favor at the moment? Here are some key facts and findings that will help you get a clearer picture of the current housing market in the US.

Higher Prices, Lower Inventory

Higher prices push buyers away from the market, forcing sellers to reduce prices. However, a flourishing economy boosts buyers’ confidence despite the price hike. People are still looking for a home to buy.

There may be fewer buyers at the moment, but lack of inventory balances the equation for the sellers.

Almost all the major housing markets in the US suffer from an inventory shortage. This means even though there are fewer buyers, they have fewer options to choose from. Together, both trends play out well for the sellers. The property might spend more days on the listings, but there is still a better chance to sell it at your desired rates.

Recently, the market has seen an improvement in terms of inventory. The rate of inventory decline is down 2.2 percentfrom the last year. It is the first annual increase in the housing stock in three years. While it may not be enough to balance the supply and demand equation as of now, it puts sellers in “better now than later” situation.

The Fear of Future

The housing market is always riddled with uncertainty. Even these uncertainties favor either the buyers or the sellers.

As for sellers, housing prices are unaffected by the gradual rise in inventory. If new homes continue to be constructed at the same rate, it will eventually become more difficult for you to sell your property. The buyers will have more choices and options, and sellers will have to decrease the prices to sell.

On the flip side, buyers are also in a similar dilemma. Mortgage rates don’t seem to slow down and the feds have shown no intention of bringing them down in the near future. As a matter of fact, mortgage rates are expected to rise by 5 percent in 2019. Shall the interest rates rise, most buyers can no longer afford a home despite the increasing inventory and negotiable housing prices.

Due to these uncertainties, many buyers will buy a home right now rather than waiting for the situation to worsen.

The Buyers Are Serious

Currently, millennials make for the majority of the world’s population and most of them have now entered the home buying age. Contrary to what it is said about the millennials and home ownership, recent stats show a different side of the story. With the economy in favor, millennials are now interested in buying their own homes. There may not be a lot of them looking for properties, but those who do are all serious buyers willing to pay the right price for the right property.

Moreover, fall isn’t usually a peak season. There aren’t as many sellers as there are in spring and summer. Buyers looking for a home in fall are the ones who are serious about the purchase. With a lack of competing properties, you have a better chance of selling at a desirable price.

Conclusion

Is it a good time to sell a house? It definitely is. The economy is still strong on its feet and all the factors point towards a solid seller’s market for at least another year. The uncertainties regarding mortgage rates and home prices may have pushed buyers away, but they also put many in a “now or never” situation. As a seller, this may be your best opportunity to make a move.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

4 "Big Regrets" To Avoid When Buying A Home

Fear of making The Wrong Decision can be the great immobilizer when it comes to buying real estate.

• Fear that this is “the wrong time” to buy has kept many would-be homeowners on the sidelines and unnecessarily out of equity-building markets.
• Fear of buying the “wrong real estate” can take many forms: fear of buying the wrong location to gain status or long-term value appreciation, the wrong size for family dynamics, the wrong price for financial security, or the wrong functionality for future family needs.

Regrets- manifestations of fear that can immobilize us when faced with big decisions- haunt us long after we make or defer the decision that created them. Be afraid to act and that failure to act may lead to regrets. Regrets about consequences of the delay, the resulting inertia, or the missed opportunity - regrets about what you wanted to do and what you should have done.

In real estate, buyers are faced with a series of big decisions involving often-unknown territory like downpayments, mortgages, real estate law, contracts, and life choices. Fear of making “The Wrong Decision” regarding any one or all of these issues is a common reaction. Real estate professionals work hard to keep fear in check for their buyers. Professionals aim to minimize or eliminate regrets - if buyers allow their real estate professional to help.

Head-off fear and regret by asking your real estate professional a lot of questions and listening to the answers. Using this informed approach when faced with “Big Decisions,” helps buyers avoid Four “Big Regrets”:

Regret #1: Decision Inertia or Waiting Too Long = Fear Fanned by Assumptions, Not Facts

Would-be buyers often watch a rising real estate market from the sidelines because they assume everything is priced out of their reach or because they hope prices will fall. Too often they are proven wrong. One young couple stayed out of the rising real estate market for years, convinced that city prices were too high for them. They watched and waited as prices crept higher. When they finally sought out a real estate professional to learn the facts, they did find a property at a price they could afford and in a location they love. However, delaying their purchase did end up costing them more and reducing their choices.

Act to get the facts as soon as possible and avoid regrets.

Regret #2: Choosing The Wrong Location = Fear Fanned by Lack of Confidence that Makes Buyers Followers, Not Self-Leaders.

Eager buyers who emphasize a list of must-haves based on what friends bought or on trends and fads, not a thoughtful analysis of their specific needs and how exactly a home would enhance their lives, can end up disappointed with what they buy. For instance, without analysis and with assumptions, buying in an outlying less-expensive area can seem like a smart financial move. However, the impact of commuting for work and recreation must be measured beyond the simple expense of driving or transit. Include priceless elements like time away from family, lost time with friends, disconnection from the community, and increased risk of accident, which can make living far from your ideal location a life of ongoing regret.

Research to get local facts on location preferences and avoid future regrets.

Regret #3: Buying a “Money Pit” = Fear of Missing Out, Instead of Learning as Much as Possible

Impatient buyers who jump into a purchase, pressured by multiple offers, egged on by deceptively clever staging, or who skip a home inspection can run into unwelcome expensive surprises. A house can “look” great but be full of problems: bad wiring, old plumbing, insufficient insulation, water leaks, structural issues, and other costly headaches. For example, these problems often materialize when “gut it” renovations are conducted to create the much-touted open-concept main floor. Open-concept homes, where kitchen, living room, dining room, and perhaps family room are combined as one wall-less space, can end up being considerably more expensive than budgeted for.

Investigate property condition to get the facts and avoid renovation regrets.

Regret #4: Playing Not to Lose = Fear of Perceived Risk, Instead of Playing to Win by Using Professional Expertise

Fear of making wrong decisions can make buyers overly cautious and risk-adverse. In real estate, this hesitant approach can lead buyers to settle for less. If fear of risk is out of proportion to the actual risk involved, buyers may be shortchanged, that is, they’ll make an OK real estate purchase instead of a great one. Real estate professionals understand this important distinction for buyers. Long-term financial gains coupled with future lifestyle benefits are not always easy for buyers to visualize, especially when the property is not in the best condition or staged in a style that is not their own. Professionals see beyond the current presentation of the property to anticipate what it may become for specific buyers:

• When buyers are resistant to experienced input or fixated on preconceived ideas or fads, the outcome may not be as good or fulfilling as buyers hoped.
• When the real estate professional explains present and future value to a buyer who acts on this knowledge, results can be amazing.

Act in your own best interest - play to win the best possible outcome.

Emphasize foresight when buying real estate and you’ll avoid regrets in hindsight.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.