Archive for November, 2012

November 29, 2012

Oh, the Joys of Packing

Finding the home of your dreams is fun and exciting. Preparing to leave the old one can be a bigger task then expected. Starting weeks ahead of the move and being organized is the key. Here are some ideas to help you prepare and simplify the process.

Items you may need:

  • Boxes
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Packaging Tape
  • Markers
  • Moving Company (or friends and family)

Purge – Packing items you don’t need is a big waste of time, box space, and moving manpower. Take the time to go through drawers, cabinets, closets and be honest with yourself about what you need and no longer use. If it is something you haven’t worn in the past 12 months it should go! Some items could be sold, some trashed, and others donated to your local Goodwill or shelter.

Clean – Once you have eliminated the items you no longer need, give everything in the house a good dusting. You will be very grateful to have clean items to unpack after a long day of moving. This is one step that is better to do now, rather than later!

Create a system – Devise a packing plan and schedule. If time allows, plan on packing one room every 2-3 days. If you are in a time crunch, order some pizza and host a packing party for your friends. Start by packing the items you use most infrequently. Be sure that each box is sealed tight with packaging tape and clearly labeled. Always label the box on more than one side so finding its new location will be easy!

Packing pointers – Even if you’re not moving far, wrap delicate items in bubble wrap and label as fragile. Fill each box to the top to avoid having it smashed during transit, but don’t over-pack. Over-packing a box can put your items at risk of being damaged. If it is an option, you may want to keep valuable, irreplaceable items with you rather than the movers. Also create a plan on how to move un-packable items, such as pets, plants, etc.

Use it or lose it – Start using the items you can’t or won’t want to pack, like frozen and perishable foods.

Not to be forgotten – Aside from the physical work involved in preparing for a move, there are other important tasks that require your attention prior to moving day. File a change of address form with the postal service, forward medical records and children’s school records, arrange time off work to move, clean out safe deposit box, refill necessary prescriptions and consider a tune up on your car, especially if you will be driving a long distance for the move. The last thing you need is a roadside break-down!

On your way out the door – Keep a box or two for the very last day. As you go through your home one more time, you are bound to find a few missed items and items that you used up to moving day. Pack these remaining things to take along with you or ship to your new home.

A little planning will help you and your family to navigate the thrills and frustrations of moving and get you well on your way to having fun and making memories in your new home!

 

Relocating to Maryland or Pennsylvania? Take a look at our relocation services to help you with all your needs in the search of a new home.

November 26, 2012

Tis’ the Season…To Sell or Not to Sell?

Ask any Realtor® if you should keep your home on the market over the holidays, and their answer will most definitely be, YES! Their belief is that buyers who are home-shopping this time of year are serious buyers.

If you decide to make the commitment to have your home listed, here are some helpful tips for keeping you and your Realtor® jolly!

Price it right – No matter what time of year, a home priced right for the market will make any home buyer merry! It is better to start at the right price and then make small, gradual price reductions.

Find a reliable Realtor® – Ask friends and family members for a good recommendation. You’ll want an agent who will go above and beyond to sell your home, not disappear over the holidays. This will ease your stress and give you time to enjoy time with your family!

Curb appeal – Maintaining the exterior of your home during fall and winter is probably more important than any other time of year. Keep stairs and walkways free of leaves, snow, and ice. Bare trees expose more of your home, touch up the paint, clean the gutters, and spruce up the yard if necessary.

First impressions – When the weather outside is frightful, many buyers will house hunt from the comfort of their own home via the internet. Make a good impression with top quality photos, including some taken during spring and summer to give the buyer a view of your home all year-round.

Keep it cozy – Welcome potential home buyers into the warmth and comfort of your home. Keep temperature at a comfortable setting and offer some delicious holiday treats. The longer you keep them in your home, the more time they have to admire its many wonderful features.

Deck the halls – Homes often look their best in their holiday finery…be careful not to go overboard! Make sure your decorations are kept simple. You don’t want to hide any notable focal points in your home or distract the buyers.

Relax – This time of year can be stressful enough. Remember, if your home doesn’t sell, there is always next year….which is just around the corner!

May your holidays be merry and bright

and your home sell when the time is just right!

 

Take a look at our blog on “How to Sell your Home in the Winter” for some helpful ideas on how to improve your homes appeal during the winter months.

November 19, 2012

SAFETY Tips for Deep Frying your Holiday Turkey (w/ Video)

Each year more than 45 million turkeys are prepared for Thanksgiving holiday feasts. And each year fire fighters are called to at least 1,000 major fires and explosions due to DEEP FRYING TURKEY accidents!! These fires have caused more than $15 MILLION in property damage!

Deep frying a turkey is a cooking fad that took off about 10 years ago; many claim it is the best way to prepare a delicious, juicy turkey. However it is also the MOST dangerous cooking method. People have been known to set themselves and their homes on fire. More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day. It is an easy time to get distracted and it only takes seconds for a fire to get out of control.

We urge you to keep these tips in mind to help PROTECT your FAMILY and HOME!

Read directions – Take some time before the big day to read ALL instructions on your deep fryer; be fully informed. Make sure you buy a thermostat if your fryer does not have one.

Stability – Fryers can easily tip over. Place your fryer on a flat stable surface, FAR from your home! Do NOT cook your turkey in your garage or on a wooden deck.

Don’t overheat the oil – Always use an accurate thermometer. If the oil overheats it could combust. Best oils to use are peanut, canola, or safflower oil.

Measure – DON’T guess how much oil your fryer will hold (most will hold 5 gallons). Best method is to place your turkey in the empty fryer (turned off!), fill it with water, and then remove the turkey. This will show you how much oil your fryer will hold WITH your turkey in it! Too much oil will overflow and cause a fire.

DRY YOUR TURKEY – This is one of the biggest causes of fryer fires. Why does the fire start and react so violently? Water left on your turkey boils when it hits the hot oil causing steam. Steam expands at a volume 1,700 times greater than water volume. The expanding steam pushes the oil out of the fryer, down the pot and onto the burner assembly where the oil will burst into flames! Be certain your turkey is completely THAWED and as DRY as possible! Dry the cavity of the turkey as well and never stuff a turkey that you will be deep-frying!

Shut off the gas – Always turn off the gas while you lower your turkey into the pot (and when you remove it). Once your turkey is in the pot, you can turn the gas back on. This will help prevent a fire if the oil spills over the sides of the pot.

Don’t get burned – Wear heavy leather gloves. The pot, lid and handles on the fryer will get extremely hot. A typical kitchen hot pad will NOT protect your hands from the high heat of the fryer. The pot and oil will remain hot for several hours after cooking; keep children and pets away from the fryer until cooled.

Go Slow – Lowering your turkey slowly will help prevent from boiling over. It will allow any small amounts of moisture to cook off gradually, as opposed to putting it all in at once.

Stay focused – NEVER leave your turkey fryer unattended, even when pre-heating! Constant adult supervision is highly recommended!

Safety videos such as this one have been released to illustrate the dangers of this cooking trend; reducing property damage claims in the past year. PLEASE pay attention to the cooking directions closely this holiday; don’t let your family and home become one of the horrifying statistics.

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

November 16, 2012

Holiday Decorating Tips

 Spruce up your home this holiday season with these simple suggestions. In a few easy steps, your home will be full of holiday charm and cheer.

Gearing up for the winter holidays? Check out our blog on winterizing your home to help keep your house warm and save you money. Also give our Fall clean up tips post a read for ways to clean up your home before winter begins. Happy Holidays!

November 15, 2012

Home Equity Loan$

A new car, home improvements, debt consolidation, a dream vacation; one of these could be the reason you are considering a loan. Perhaps a home equity loan would be the most practical type of loan for your personal financial situation.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

A home is a source of great pride and satisfaction; it can also be a source of equity. Equity refers to the cash value that has accumulated in your home since you began making regular payments. It is the difference between what your home is worth and your outstanding mortgage balance.

Why do people opt for a home equity loan? Simple, the interest rate is lower. Your rate will depend on your credit history, earnings, etc. but will typically be lower than credit card rates or a personal line of credit.

Another reason is the ability to have a longer repayment term because it is secured by the largest asset you possess, your home! A home equity loan could be amortized for up to 15 years, if approved by your lender. Since your home is the collateral on the loan, it must be paid back before you decide to sell. Also keep in mind that should you default on the loan, the lender could foreclose on your home. Be sure this is the right time for you to take this financial risk and that you can afford to make the payments. A home equity loan or line of credit does require your collateral to be your primary residence.

More reason to consider this financial tool…many times a home equity loan is tax deductible (contact your tax professional for more information).

What is the difference between a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit? A loan is a one-time funding to you. You will receive the funds you’ve borrowed and will re-pay it in predictable monthly payments. Should you need more money, you are not able to access the funds you have already paid back. You would need to apply for another loan.

A home equity line of credit is a revolving, variable-rate line of credit that allows you to access some of the funds again once you have paid them back. For example if you borrowed $8,000 and have re-paid $5,000 of it, you can use that $5,000 again if the need arises. With a line of credit your payments can vary depending on the current amount you have borrowed; the rate may also fluctuate.

Keep in mind the terms, rates, and features will vary by lender. Protect yourself, save money…shop around, compare, and negotiate!

For more answers to your questions contact HomeSale Lending, LLC. They can discuss home equity loans, lines of credit, and many other financing options. Financing 101.

November 12, 2012

How to Avoid Potential Deal Breakers

It is highly beneficial to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional who can advise and guide you through your home buying or selling experience. Since the unexpected is still a possibility, below are steps on how to avoid potential deal breakers.

Foreclosure date falls before buy date: With the high number of foreclosures in today’s economy, this is all too common. You find the perfect home, sign the papers, and then the home is foreclosed before you can secure your funding and seal the deal!
How to avoid: Find out the foreclosure date in the beginning and work hard to get everything done as quickly as possible!

Credit problems: The amount and type of debt you have can influence your ability to get a mortgage. Lenders do not like to see delinquency on loan payments, arrears on child support, or a high debt to income ratio.
How to avoid: Prepare ahead of time and take the steps to clean up your credit. Do your best to make timely and full payments on all your debts. Another thing to avoid…do not make large purchases (appliances, new car, etc.) until after your mortgage has been funded!

Who owns what? A home buyer thinks they are getting a 6000 sq. ft. lot, only to find out otherwise. Lot lines, shared driveways, and fences can be big stumbling blocks in a real estate transaction.
How to avoid: Review the title report carefully! They are not always easy to read, but take the time to do so carefully. Still not sure, have your real estate agent review it with you!

Proposed property use: Planning to run a business from your new home? Your dream may fizzle, if the home is not zoned for a particular use or if a homeowner’s association has the ability to deny your request.
How to avoid: Be sure to check into the zoning requirements and review any by-laws that may exist for the home.

Personal property and fixtures: Disputes over fixtures and personal property are common. It’s important to know the difference. Wall-mounted TV’s have become a frequent issue! Property that is permanently attached or fixed to real property which once removed will cause “permanent” damage to the real property is considered a fixture. Fixtures remain with the property!
How to avoid: Home sellers – if it is something special to you, remove or replace it before you list your home. Also make sure it is excluded when the offer is written.

Unexpected inspection findings: On a purchase of this size, home buyers should know what they are getting. Inspections can be deal breakers when an agreement cannot be reached on who will pay for repair costs, should a problem be discovered.
How to avoid: Sellers can have inspections done prior to putting the home on the market and can have problems fixed in advance. Home Buyers still have the option to get their own inspections performed. Repairs almost always cost the seller less if the buyer knows about if before making an offer.

Being an educated consumer and being “prepared” for the unexpected
goes a long way with holding a deal together!

November 8, 2012

Be a Savvy Home Buyer

When searching for a home, you will find some things you can live with, but others should raise a red flag! Read on to discover the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid and which ones you can fix!

Some Red Flags 

 Asbestos – Asbestos has been proven to pose serious health risks. Check attics and around plumbing for asbestos insulation. Be sure to opt for a home inspection when looking at older homes if the insulation looks worn or is disintegrating.

 Plumbing and Wiring – Amateur plumbing could cost big bucks if you have to rip out pipes and replace floors or walls because of leaks! This is also true for novice electrical work. Non-professional wiring can lead to shorts and cause sparks and fires. Look for exposed wiring in the basement and S-traps under the sinks; these are sure signs of shoddy workmanship!

 Buried Oil Tank – Removal of an old tank can be very expensive! If left intact, you run the risk of an environmental issue; the clean-up and repairs from this could easily cost upwards of $40,000! Since this is a hidden pitfall, be sure to ask the home seller and check all details of the home’s listing information.

 Water damage –Water damage found on basement walls could indicate poor drainage around the home and result in having to hire expensive experts to dig, repair, and re-grade! Water spots found in high corners could be a sign of a leaky roof or pipe damage. Check out this blog post on dealing with water damage in a flooded basement.

 Shaky foundation – Take notice of uneven floors, crooked chimneys, cracks in the bricks, or even doors and windows that stick. These can all be signs of a structural issue with the home’s foundation. Serious structural issues could cost thousands of dollars if you need to repair!

 Pests – Hard to spot on your own, you’ll want to hire an inspector to check the home thoroughly before buying! Wood-destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, etc.) could cost you thousands, if undetected and untreated!

Problems you can fix: 

 Old Roof – Old does not necessarily mean bad, just make sure you start saving $ right away so you are prepared to replace in the future.

 Ugly carpet or wallpaper – Not deal breakers! Can easily be replaced, as long as they are not being used to disguise a bigger problem!

 Electric appliances – If you prefer gas, you can replace them and have a propane tank installed or the gas company run a line to your home.

 No Central A/C – Window units can be used until you decide to spend the money to have a system installed.

Being a smart home buyer can make
your biggest purchase, your best purchase!

November 5, 2012

Winterizing Your Home

For those of you dreading the long, cold months of winter that lie ahead, taking the time this fall to follow these simple steps will save you money on heating while keeping you warm.

Block the leaks – With energy costs on the rise, nothing makes more sense to homeowners than checking for any and all leaks around your home. On a breezy day, walk around and check the obvious sources of leaks: windows, doors, electrical outlets, etc. Caulking and adding outlet gaskets are two easy fixes for these trouble areas.

Windows – As you check for leaks, it is also a good time to replace your screens with storm windows.

Clean the gutters – This may be an ongoing chore through-out the fall season. Keep all spouts, gutters, and drains free of leaves and debris. Clear gutters will keep water moving away from your home and prevent icy clogs and back-ups.

Reverse the fans – Not often thought about, but your ceiling fans can impact the comfort of your home during the winter. Adjusting the fan to rotate in a clockwise direction will push warm air down into the living area.

Wrap the pipes – A pipe burst in the dead of winter is a nightmare! Check for un-insulated pipes in your home (crawl spaces, garages, basements) and get them wrapped. Remove hoses and drain all water from outside faucets before the first frost.

Check the furnace – This should be done monthly to keep the furnace filter clean and air flowing efficiently. Replacing the filter is an easy way to keep your home comfortable ALL year round. An annual “check-up” by a professional is also a good idea.

Thermostat –Turning the temperature down a few degrees when you leave is a huge energy saver; every degree lower can save you between 1% and 3% on your energy bill. A programmable thermostat is a great way to eliminate this from your morning to-do list.

Insulate – Check the attic and other unfinished areas. It is recommended that you have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation. If you decide to add more insulation, avoid the type with paper backing, this will act as a vapor barrier and cause moisture problems.

Check the chimney – Last but not least…take a look at your chimney if you plan on using it over the winter. This should be done at least once a year, more often if you are using a woodstove. A chimney cap is also good idea for keeping foreign items out of the chimney. If not in use, close the damper to avoid cold drafts.

Stay Ahead of “Old Man Winter” and Protect Your Home!

 

Check out more tips for homeowners at http://askhomesale.com/category/for-homeowners/

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