Archive for October, 2012

October 31, 2012

TRICK OR TREAT SAFETY

Halloween is a great time for your kids to dress-up and have some fun but it is important to keep them safe. Here are a few quick tips.

Also see the bottom of this post for a list of Trick-or-Treat Times for some areas of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Trick-or-Treat Times in Pennsylvania and Maryland

(times are provided by local TV or Newspapers and are not guaranteed to be accurate, some city’s do not provide a specific time for trick-or-treating)

Maryland

Carroll County

Central Pennsylvania

Adams County

Cumberland County

Dauphin County

Franklin County

Lebanon County

Perry County

York County

October 30, 2012

What to do When Your Basement Floods?!?

We hope you and your families are safe after the passing of Hurricane Sandy! 
Should you find yourself with a flooded basement, the clean-up can be a daunting task. Read on to learn how you can start the clean-up and repairs…

Things you will need:

  • Electric Pump
  • Spray Bottle
  • Bleach
  • Industrial Size Fan

1) Contact your Insurance Co. – First and foremost, contact your insurance company immediately to find out what your specific policy covers and what the requirements for filing a claim, cleaning up, etc. might be!

2) Fix the source – If POSSIBLE you need to stop the flooding as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of damage.  If the culprit is a broken pipe, shut off the main water valve immediately.  If the water source is Mother Nature, unfortunately you may need to wait for the flood waters to recede.

3) Remove the water – It is important to get the water out of the basement as quickly as possible.  Some homeowners may be aware that their basement is prone to flooding and already have a sump pump in place.  If this is a new problem for you, you will want to look into getting a sump pump asap!  Many hardware stores will rent them or perhaps you have a friend/neighbor who can lend you a pump.  Make sure it is powerful enough for the task at hand and that the hose is long enough to drain the water far away from your home.  A last resort would be a wet-dry shop vac, but be prepared for a time-consuming, back-breaking job!  Another good idea, if the weather permits, is to open windows in your basement.  This will help get some moisture out of the air in your basement.

4) Remove your belongings – Once the majority of water has been controlled and removed, get your belongings to drier ground and begin the process of drying them and salvaging what you can.  Spread everything out in a dry area.  All toys and similar objects should be dried and then washed with a bleach solution to get rid of bacteria.

5) Pull up carpets and discard – Carpets and padding unfortunately do not usually survive water damage!  They are the perfect soggy source for the growth of mold and bacteria.  It is best to destroy and replace them.

6) Disinfect – Not only will your possessions need cleaned, but any surface in the basement that can be cleaned SHOULD be cleaned!  All walls and the floor should be washed with a weak bleach solution and rinsed with warm water.  You can use the spray bottle for easy application of the cleaner.

7) Dry, dry, dry – Once all belongings, carpets, etc… have been removed, and everything has been disinfected……continue with the drying process!  You want to make sure EVERYTHING is COMPETELY dry!  Some hardware stores will have industrial-sized fans you can rent.  Place at least one in the doorway and/or window and point it out of the basement to suck the moisture out.  Another option is to turn up the heat, keeping the windows open to allow moisture to escape.  However, if the heating system has been damaged by the water…….contact a professional to look at it before you try to turn it on!  A dehumidifier can also be used, but if you choose this option you will want to close the windows.  Keep an eye on the holding container it will need to be emptied frequently until all moisture is absorbed.

Once DRY, you can begin to replace the flooring and put your possessions back where they belong.  Whew…….quite a task!!  Hopefully this is one you won’t have to perform too many times!!

Take a look at the services that Homesale VIP Services has to offer

See a list of our Home Services vendors

Worried about your home appliances? Maybe consider a Home Warranty.

October 25, 2012

Spooky Smells and Sounds in your House

At times the unexplained noises and odors found in your own home can seem terrifying. Below are some simple and reassuring explanations.

 Things that stir in the night

An unfinished attic space will amplify the sound of any small critter, such as a raccoon or squirrel, as it passes along the roof of your home. Rooftops are the perfect “unobstructed highway” many small animals use to pass from one place to another. Be sure your soffit, rafters, and gable roof vents are covered with screens and in good repair. Otherwise, these rooftop creepers may find their way into your home! Also keep tree branches trimmed to limit their easy access to your roof.

 A Ghoulish Odor

If you’ve taken out the trash and still can’t solve this mystery, you may want to call your gas company immediately. Natural gas is odorless, but distributors will add an odorant to it to warn you of leaks. This smell is often described as a rotten-egg odor! Leaks can occur at the gas line or any connection to your gas-powered appliances, such as fireplace, stove, clothes dryer, etc. If you suspect a leak, leave your home immediately and make the call.

 Something’s Brewin’

You can smell the odor of burnt wood, but there’s no smoke? The culprit could be your fireplace even if it hasn’t been used lately. A drafty chimney can cause a chill in the air and bring the stale, burnt smell with it. Stop drafts by making sure your damper is sealed properly. You’ll get rid of the odor and save on your energy bill too!

 Moaning and clattering

Loud groans are usually nothing more than the timbers inside the framework of the house shrinking and contracting with the fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels. Vents for clothes dryers, bathrooms, or water heaters typically exit through the roof or side of your home and have flaps designed to keep air out. These flaps sometimes move and rattle with the wind, causing “unexplained” clattering.

 Scritchity, scratchy sounds

Are usually one of two things; either a branch blowing up against the house, or a small animal scratching away behind the plaster of the walls. Again, the hollow space behind the plaster amplifies the noise and makes it much worse than it really is. To stop these noises, prune shrubs and trees away from the house, and set traps in the attic to catch the mice.

Most noises and odors can be easily explained and fixed.

Don’t let the spirits of this season or your imagination get the best of you!!

October 22, 2012

RENTING VS BUYING

Owning your own home has often been referred to as the “American Dream”. Before the housing crisis began in 2007, it wasn’t even a question as to whether or not you should try to buy a home. The thought was…..If you could afford it, you should do it!! The housing crisis has definitely taken its toll and made people stop to think before taking this leap. With current mortgage rates at an all-time low, the question has come up again, repeatedly. This could be the best time for renters to become first time homeowners.

Even though the real estate market has changed dramatically over the past few years, your thought process should still be the same as in the past. Some factors you should consider:

  • Hope for appreciation. As in the past, your home should appreciate in value over the years. The beauty of your home is more than just an increasing dollar value. Being able to make your home into something that reflects you personally is also a very rewarding.
  • Stay put. Be sure you are ready to stay in the same place for at least 4 years. Moving too early can cost you more than just the hassle of packing all your belongings. Moving too quickly will not allow you to build much equity in your home.
  • Be ready. Don’t just be emotionally ready to buy, make sure you’re financially ready as well. Build your credit and savings before buying; having both of these items in tip-top shape will help you secure a better interest rate on your mortgage!
  • Location. Buy in an expanding area. An area with a growing economy and employment opportunities will help bring greater value to your home purchase.

Still unsure about taking the big step, here are a few more items to ponder:

  Advantages Disadvantages
Buying:
  • Freedom to paint, remodel and change landscaping
  • Build Equity
  • Sense of stability, security
  • Not dependent on landlord for upkeep
  • Responsible for maintenance
  • Higher costs, taxes, insurance, etc.
  • Less mobility
  • Possibility of equity loss or even foreclosure
Renting:
  • Little or no responsibility for maintenance
  • Easier to move
  • No additional costs, like taxes or maintenance charges
  • No equity is built up
  • No control over rent increases
  • Dependent on landlord to make timely repairs, etc.
  • No freedom to decorate

Bottom line: after considering the factors above, if you feel like you are in the right place and at the right time in your life to buy a home, one of our Homesale real estate agents would be happy to help!

October 15, 2012

PrudentialHomesale.com’s Web Stats

We take pride in our efforts to expand our online exposure to help people achieve their dreams of homeownership.  These are some stats for our web traffic from January – June 2012 to PrudentialHomesale.com, our cutting-edge real estate website that helps home buyers and sellers through all aspects of the real estate transaction.

October 11, 2012

Fall Clean Up Tips

The kids are headed back to school, the leaves are turning, and a chill is in the air. If you’re like most homeowners, fall also means opportunity to spruce up your yard and cut down on the work you’ll need to do when Spring arrives. Take these Fall Tips into consideration while preparing for the upcoming winter season.

October 8, 2012

Garage Makeover (Part 2)

In today’s economy, homeowners are trying to make every inch of their home useful. They want more active and functional living space. Reclaiming attics, storage rooms, closets, garden sheds and garages is the easiest way to utilize wasted space. Garages are often full of “junk” that we no longer need or use. By giving your garage a makeover you can transform that cluttered space into a totally new and functional living area. By using these few tips you will feel confident and ready to show off your new space.

 

Furniture
Use a modern modular couch. They are
easily re-arranged and come with removable
slipcovers that can be washed easily.
Garage Door
Use colored sheets of plastic to dress-up
the garage door. These can be found at any
hardware store and can be easily screwed into
the door frame.
Windowless?
Peel-and-stick mirrors will reflect light,
creating a brighter space.
Storage
Movable partitions are the easiest way to hide
unwanted items.
Accent Color
Pick an accent color and use it sparingly.
Incorporate this color into accesories like
pillows and centerpiece for a table.
Lighting
Hanging lights create the illusion
of height and create dimension
against a flat surface.
Floors
Remove old oil stains using an acid cleaning solution.
Use paint (formulated for garage floor use), carpet,
or colorful interlocking tiles to give the floor a more
comforting and appealing look.
Door
Don’t forget about the door! Purchase a new door that fits
the style and look of your new room. Make sure to get the
correct size and allow space for weather stripping.

Information courtesy of ThisOldHouse.com and hgtv.com2010.

These tips can also help sellers who are looking to sell their home; by helping to increase the overall look of their home, and entice home buyers.

 

October 4, 2012

Garage Makeover (Part 1)

“An open garage is the window to one’s home,” says Monica Friel, an organizer with Chaos to Order from Chicago. Many of us have the typical garage dilemma…CLUTTER! We often use the garage as an area  to store items away, and it can easily get out of control. But don’t worry, there is a solution. With these simple tips, you can have your garage organized and clutter free in no time. You may even be able to park your car in there!

The first thing to do is to CLEAR OUT. Go through the things that are just lying around. If it’s broken throw it away; if you don’t need it or don’t use it, give it away or have a yard sale. Having a yard sale is a great way to make a few extra bucks and can help with the cost of new organizers.

After everything is cleared out, it’s time to MAKE A PLAN. Think about the items you have and what can be stored together. Separating your garage into different zones is a great way to keep your things organized and easily accessible. Give gardening tools, sporting goods, holiday decorations, automotive supplies and garbage their own space. Draw a floor plan, as you would for other rooms in your house, to help you visualize where things will fit best.

Next you’re going to want to CATEGORIZE. Make sure you keep all similar items together. Keep gardening tools in a rolling organizer or stow away totes, for easier access. Hang sporting goods on wall hooks. Categorize holiday decorations in clear totes with color-coded tops. Use green for Christmas, orange for Halloween and red for Fourth of July. Use shelving to organize automotive supplies and tools. Vertical storage systems or particle-board shelving are the most common way to keep tools and supplies together and organized. Make sure that any sharp or dangerous tools are kept out of the reach of children. As for garbage, use cans with lids and working wheels. This makes it easier to transport to the curb. By using a tall shelving unit, like a customizable open-wired system, you can store the cans underneath and still utilize the top space for garbage bags, recycling bins and other items to make the process easier.

 Homeowners and sellers alike can benefit from these tips. It’s just one more step in the right direction towards a cleaner, clutter-free home!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Garage Makeover” which will come out on Monday!

October 1, 2012

Projects That will Add Value To Your Home

Some improvement projects will add more value to your home than others. Read on to discover our top suggestions.

  • Tidy the lawn-Start from the outside; curb appeal is the key to adding home value. Before tackling any major landscape projects, tend to your lawn. Re-seed as needed and consider fertilizers and weed control products to increase the overall of your grass.
  • Consider a Fence-This can add privacy and value, as well as enhance the appearance of your home. Wood and vinyl are the two most popular materials. Before you start check with your local township or borough and homeowners’ association for any restrictions on fencing.
  • Lighten up- Adding an outdoor living space can be almost as valuable as adding actual living space to your home. Start by making an existing patio or deck space more inviting with warm, appealing outdoor light fixtures.
  • Gutters-Not the most exciting project, but very crucial. Make sure they are kept free of debris and replace any damaged gutters. Gutters that work properly will protect other areas of your home, such as windows and doors, from water damage.
  • De-clutter and organize-Clean up the clutter and maximize your storage space. A closet organizing system is an easy way to clean up and find a spot for all your things.
  • Refresh-Updating the look of your bathroom can be as simple as replacing outdated fixtures with something sleek and modern. Consider a vessel top sink; they are the latest trend in bathroom remodeling.
  • Upgrade Appliances-Updated appliances will look, run better, and give your kitchen more appeal. Stainless steel is the current standard, but if that doesn’t fit your budget, any new model will do. A kitchen upgrade will almost always bring you a good return on your investment.
  • Finish your basement-If your basement is dry enough for finishing, go ahead and tackle the project. This is almost always a more cost efficient way to increase your living space and even outweighs adding a whole new room!

Dust off your overalls and get to work, you’ll be glad you did!

Looking to sell your home? Contact a Prudential Homesale agent today to assist you with the home sale process.

PrudentialHomesale.com

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