Maintenance Tips for Protecting Your Biggest Investment

While it’s not a dramatic renovation project, regular home maintenance will help you maintain your home’s value. In fact, proper maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1 percent each year, according to research from the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University.

Here are some strategies for keeping on track:

Focus on Enemy No. 1: Moisture

Slowly and insidiously, water can attack your house and wreak havoc with your home. Check and clear your gutters seasonally. Make sure your windows and doors are caulked to stave off moldy invaders. Check all water-related appliances, like your fridge, water heater, HVAC and sump pump. Don’t wait on fixing leaky faucets; the drips you see may be eroding the hidden pipes.

Optimize your home’s energy

Lowering your energy bill saves you money every month and higher efficiency will be a selling point when you list your home. Hire a pro to inspect your furnace every year, and be sure to replace filters regularly. Clean and replace filters on your AC unit, as well.

Keep your curb appeal

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see when they visit your house, so maintaining it is key to protecting your investment. Keep hedges and trees trimmed neatly to improve aesthetics, and also prevent debris from clogging drainage and damaging your home’s exterior. Power wash decks, driveways and walkways to fight mold and slippery buildup and keep them looking new.

Keep a schedule

Use a home maintenance app like BrightNest to help you keep up with maintenance tasks. Tasks can also help you keep records you can show potential buyers.

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Hardwood Flooring – DIY or Go with a Pro?

If only life were like HGTV. Rooms would be transformed in 30 minutes. Debris would magically disappear. And all the work would be done by model-quality contractors. Reality can be much different – especially when it comes to installing hardwood floor.

If you’re ready to update your flooring, here are some considerations to help you decide if DIY or hiring a pro is the way to go.

What type of floor do you want?

Laminate flooring, like Pergo, can be fairly easy to install on your own. These boards arrive pre-finished and install without nails or glue. Real wood is not only more expensive, but much more difficult to install. Your decision to hire a contractor might depend on how much you can afford to spend fixing mistakes (after the cost of materials).

Are you comfortable with power tools, or is your electric toothbrush a challenge?

True wood flooring that needs to be finished on-site requires more technical skill. If you decide to forgo a contractor, make sure you have enough knowledge of power tools to be safe during installation.

What is your time frame?

Life happens. A day job, unexpected visits from the in-laws or running out of materials can all add delays to a project. Are you okay living with an unfinished floor in the meantime? A good contractor can complete the job within a set timeline, so you can get to enjoying your updated home sooner.

When in doubt, call a pro, at least for an opinion and a quote. Your agent can also help you decide which home improvements are worth the investment and find reputable professionals to work with if you decide to go pro. One thing you can easily do yourself? Contact me; I’ll be happy to help!

5 August Maintenance Tasks to Tackle ASAP

With summer winding down, it’s time to prep your home for the changing season ahead. I know what you’re thinking: It’s still summer, and you’re being a buzzkill! Why worry now about what you can do next month? Well, as it turns out, some home maintenance tasks are best tackled in August, before temperatures start dipping.

Watch Realtor.com’s 1 1/2 minute video…

Drastically Improve Your Home With These DIY Projects

Looking for some home improvement inspiration? Here are a few suggestions for projects that won’t break the bank or steal more than a weekend or two.

  1. Make an entrance

The entrance to your home is a focal point and a few simple changes can leverage its impact. Sand and repaint your front door or invest in a brand new one. Add some bling with new address numbers, knobs, doorbells or knockers. Frame the door with planters to help complete the picture.

  1. Class up your cabinets

You don’t need to buy new cabinets to give your kitchen a new look. Add a fresh coat of paint, or try out new cabinet hardware (buy knobs and pulls that are the same size as the ones you have to save installation time) for details that give the upgrade an added level of elegance.

  1. Make a splash

You don’t need to be a pro to install a new kitchen backsplash. Many home stores offer quick classes, or you can cruise YouTube for “how-to” videos. Customize your kitchen with ceiling tiles, glass or ceramic tiles, wood or stainless steel.

  1. Crown yourself

Crown molding around your walls is a simple addition that can add a ton of character. If you don’t have woodworking tools, don’t panic. Home improvement stores can cut strips of molding to your measurements.

  1. Look to the little things

You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference swapping out old switch plates, outlet covers and doorknobs can make.

Do your ambitions extend beyond a few small projects? Maybe you’d like to tackle an entire fixer-upper? Or perhaps you know of someone else who would? I’ll be happy to help; contact me today!

6 Easy, Affordable Smart Home Features

When you’re selling your home, you may be willing to do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get.

“Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient — all of which are bonuses when you’re trying to sell a house,” says Geoff Lewis, President of RE/MAX, LLC. “Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers.”

According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That’s a 64 percent increase from 2015.

Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers’ attention and help sell your home faster:

1) Keyless/remote entry door locks

Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock — available from multiple manufacturers — you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.

2) Smart lighting

From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.

3) DIY security systems

Don’t want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.

4) Smart appliances

The Internet of Things (IoT) — everyday objects that have network connectivity — includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you — and each other — wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone — so if you leave the house and can’t remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.

While appliances aren’t always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.

5) Smart plugs

One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.

6) Temperature controls

Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today’s home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family’s needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.

“Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install,” Lewis says. “Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2017.”

If you or someone you know is thinking of selling, contact me today!

What Owners Want in Kitchen Remodels

Kitchen revamps tend to be one of the most popular home remodeling projects. About 10.2 million American households tackled a kitchen remodel or replacement work in 2015, according to a recent report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Homeowners tend to want new flooring, countertops, cabinets, sinks, and faucets in their kitchen remodels.

The majority of homeowners aren’t spending big bucks in their renovations. Forty-one percent of homeowners’ work in their kitchen remodels was devoted to replacement projects costing less than $1,500. Twenty-two percent of respondents say they had minor remodeling done, between $1,500 to $5,000; 18 percent of homeowners had major remodels completed that cost between $5,000 to $10,000; and 19 percent completely remodeled their kitchens, spending more than $10,000.

Read the full article on REALTORmag…

5 Ways to Save on Home Renovation Costs So You Don’t Go Broke

Is your kitchen hopelessly outdated, and your bathroom a blast from the past? Then it sounds like you’re overdue for some home improvements. There’s just one problem: Remodeling can be a huge undertaking—and a costly one at that. The average kitchen remodel will set you back $60,000; a bathroom overhaul, $17,908. Ouch! But hey, that’s just the average price homeowners pay. Plenty of home renovations can fall way under that wire if you know some tricks to keep your home improvement budget in check. Check out these smart ways to save on home renovation costs to achieve the home of your dreams without blowing wads of cash.