Archive for May, 2013

May 30, 2013

Homeowner Survival Skills

Sooner or later, little things around your home will start to go wrong. 

Use this information to help you correct these common mishaps.

Fix a leaky faucet

Usually due to a bad washer or cartridge in the handle.  Turn off the water supply (under the sink), and cover the drain so no small parts go down it.  Pop the cover on the handles, remove the screw, and the handle.  Disassemble the stem next, using a wrench and lining up the parts in order so you will know how to put it back together.  Remove and replace the damaged or cracked parts and reassemble the stem and handles.

  keylockOpen a seized dead bolt

Spray some WD-40 into the keyhole to lubricate the mechanism. Prevent it from seizing by spraying once a year with Teflon spray.

Stop an overflowing toilet

The float inside the tank drops when the toilet is flushed and water from the tanks moves into the bowl.  It then rises as the bowl and tank are re-filled.  To prevent more spillage when the bowl is brimming over, lift the lid on the tank, grab the float and lift it to close the valve.  While holding the float, turn off the toilet’s water supply.  Now it’s clean up time!

  Pick an interior lock

Toddler locked in her bedroom?  Look for a small hole on the knob or the plate around it.  Take a slim piece of metal (screwdriver for eyeglasses, ice pick, metal skewer) and slip it into the hole to compress the spring inside.  In some cases, you will need the flathead screwdriver to insert into a slot on the spring and turn it.  Either way, you’ll disengage the lock and set your little one free!

fireUse a fire extinguisher (remember PASS)

P – Pull the Pin

A – Aim nozzle at the base of flames

S – Squeeze the trigger

S – Sweep the spray from side to side

Work calmly but quickly!! (most extinguishers have 8 seconds of life)  Call 911 and let the pros confirm that the fire is really out.

  hedgePrune a sick hedge

Trimming a shrub from the top only will make it too bushy and will prevent the sun from reaching interior branches and roots.  Pruning from the interior out will help bring it back to health.  Pull back outer branches so you can reach the interior to clip away dead branches.  Cut back tall shoots where they join the branch rather than snipping the end.  Use this method to prune about 1/3 of the bush for 3 years and your bush will thrive!

Unclog a sink

Skip the liquid drain cleaner and remove manually.  Remove the stopper and block off any overflow holes.  With water in the sink, use a flat-faced plunger to plunge the drain and remove clog.  If it doesn’t move, use a wrench to remove the U-shaped trap under the sink and look for the clog there.  If the clog is deeper, rent a hand-snake to reach it.  Slowly feed the coil into the drain, when you get to the clog carefully, twist, pull and push the coil to dislodge the clog.

  Unstick a door

Excess humidity in summer can cause a wooden door to swell and stick.  A gap of 1/8” to 3/16” between the door and jamb is recommended to accommodate seasonal changes.  Note where the door sticks and use a bench plane to shave off the high spots.  Round over any sharp edges with sandpaper and paint the exposed wood.  Allow to dry completely before closing the door.

Bypass garage door opener if your power  is out

Pull the red cord that dangles from the ceiling-mounted operator to disengage the electric chain drive.  Then you can slide the door open manually.  Be careful, a full-size garage door can be very heavy!

  Remove the base of a broken lightbulb

Unplug the lamp or turn off the fixture.  Cut a potato (russets are best) in half and gently press it onto the jagged glass.  Turn slowly to remove the base.

 

 

Did you like this article? Then you may like our article on “Repair or Replace

Have a real estate question? Contact a Prudential Homesale real estate experts today to find out more about the home buying and selling process.

May 22, 2013

Dress Up Your Outdoor Living Space

Looking for a fun way to dress up your outdoor living space? check out these great do-it-yourself projects using recycled wooden pallets.

It is no secret that wood pallets can be repurposed into impressive furniture and decor.It is amazing what people have created from these abundant, often discarded resources that can usually be found for free with little effort.

Dress Up Your Outdoor Living Space

Pallet Sofa Materials:  4-5 Pallets, Plenty of workspace, good pair of gloves, Circular saw, 3×3 or 4×4 posts for frame, wood screws, sander for smooth finish, clear wood sealer, outdoor cushions/pillows, and some creativity!

Pallet Coffee Table Materials:  Wooden pallet, sander for smooth finish, 4 wheels, paint or sealer to create a colorful, water-resistant finish.  Don’t forget to personalize with a few flashy items to sit on top!!

Pallet Benches Materials:  Several wooded pallets (depending on how many benches you want), tape measure, saw, sander, wood screws, paint or sealer to finish, and more creativity!!  Keep in mind….if your benches are not against an outdoor wall you will need to be sure the backs are well supported!

Outdoor Lounger Materials: 2 Pallets, sander to smooth, 2-3 metal hinges, chains & hooks to secure adjustable back of lounger, paint or water sealer to protect wood, colorful, outdoor cushions, And of course a good book and icy, cold beverage to enjoy when you are finished!!

For detailed instructions and more do-it-yourself decorating ideas visit: http://goodideasforyou.com/ideas-a-inspirations/summer-a-gardening/patio-furniture.html

May 16, 2013

Planting your Garden

planting“No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden”.

~Hugh Johnson 

It may seem like there is no end in sight to these cold days of winter but time passes quickly and spring will be here before you know it.  Now is the perfect time to do a bit of garden brainstorming.  Some things to consider may be what type of garden you want to plant, how big or small it will be, and what purpose will your garden serve.  Read on for some helpful gardening tips…

 

Wildlife Garden

One perk of a garden is watching the wildlife it attracts.  If you provide food, water and a place to nest, they will come.  Some plants attract more wildlife than others.  If you want to ensure you’ll always have guests in your garden, it’s good to know which ones to plant.

 

Butterflies -A butterfly bush will attract them, but a wider variety of plants will entice other species to visit your garden.

  • §Butterfly bush, Red Hot Poker, Iris, Lavender, Rosemary, Zinnia, Bee Balm, Phlox

Birds- Trees or plants that produce seeds or berries, a birdbath and a nesting “space” will draw wild birds to your backyard haven.

  • §Eucalyptus tree, Yucca, Iris, Beech Tree, Lime Tree, Rosemary, Crabapple, Elderberry, Oregon Grape

Hummingbirds- Hummingbirds are drawn to things that are red and very fragrant.

  • §Honeysuckle, Red Hot Poker, Yucca, Iris, Lily, Lavender, Canna, Cardinal Creeper, Bee Balm
 

Fragrant Garden

Now you can enjoy a fragrant garden by creating a sweet-smelling haven right in your own backyard.  Where you live will dictate the kind of plants you grow and what time of year to enjoy them.  Also consider whether you are looking for plants to enjoy in the garden or to cut and bring indoors.

 

Gardenias – They don’t have much of a stem, but float well in water and make beautiful short bouquets

PeoniesLow-maintenance, deer-resistant flowers that are easily cut for bouquets and arrangements

Irises - Look delicate, but are actually tough, drought-tolerant flowers that thrive in sunlight

Sweet peas – Come in a variety of different colors, some with stronger scents

Lilies – Come in many vibrant colors, making them great both for bouquets

Rosemary – Brings fragrance to the garden and flavor to the kitchen

Lavender – Smelling lavender helps reduce anxiety

     

Family Garden

This garden isn’t about finding all the right plants, it’s about creating a space children, adults, and pets can all enjoy together.

 

Create play areas surrounded by cheerful plants that attract butterflies

Rotate toys to prevent boredom

Include plants children can help with and call their own

Hang a simple tire swing from a sturdy tree branch

Water features are nice, but be sure your children are old enough to enjoy it and it doesn’t pose any danger

Look for and talk about the various wildlife that visits your garden

Dogs can enjoy the garden too by creating a shady rest spot for them and setting clear boundaries (raised) to keep them out of other areas

Plant a pad of catmint for your feline family members; they love it!

 

 

Vegetable Garden

Enjoy the delicious harvest that a small vegetable garden can provide.  Things to think about…

 

Start small so you are not overwhelmed by care and maintenance.  A 10’x12’ garden provides a surprising amount of food

Most vegetables enjoy 6 hours of sunlight a day

A healthy garden requires rich, well-drained soil.  Use an organic fertilizer.

Soil temperature is as important as air temp.  Don’t plant your seeds too early!

Have protective gear readily available for unexpected frost

Keep a layer of organic mulch on your garden to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

A low fence can help keep unwanted guests from enjoying the fruits of your labor

Plant a marigold border, they help ward off bugs

Pick as soon as they are ready, do not allow them to deplete energy from future growth

Keep it close, you will be more likely to use it

 

Your garden is your creation.   One final thing to keep in mind; if you have allergies avoid those plants that trigger a reaction, as well as other plants in the same “family”.

 

“Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration”. ~Lou Erickson

 

 

May 13, 2013

Is it Your Time to Sell??

righttimetosellYes, it looks like it might finally be the right time to put the For Sale sign in your front yard! Rising home prices and lower inventories are creating new opportunities for home sellers; sometimes even bringing multiple offers to purchase on the same home, as buyers become more confident and try to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Read on to discover more reasons why you should list your home NOW instead of waiting…

  • PricesHomes prices are slowly making a comeback. However, it is still your best bet, to price your home reasonably from the beginning. A newly listed home will have its largest viewing audience the first few days on the market and a properly priced home could see 8+ showings that first week!
  • Inventory – The supply of homes is at its lowest point since 2005! Typically, the home inventory increases in the spring season. A stronger demand from buyers and a currently low inventory of homes could help you get your desirable sale price!
  • New Construction – The home building industry took a hard hit the past few years, but it is showing signs of making a recovery. Builders are becoming more confident and more active, creating competition for sellers of existing homes.
  • Household changes – Family formations are changing and growing, creating a need for “move up” homes. Rental occupancy is also nearing all-time highs. And those that may have fallen on hard times are getting their credit repaired; creating buyers who are more than ready to purchase!
  • Interest Rates rising? – It has been projected that interest rates may start to inch up during 2013. This possibility is enough reason to push some homebuyers off the fence and onto the path of becoming homeowners.
  • Selling faster – Statistics also show that homes are selling faster. The average days a home was on the real estate market in January was 71, compared to 99 days on the market one year ago!

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, here are some other items to consider:

 Find the right agent – Interview several, until you feel confident that you have found the right match!
 Clean it up – Clean and prep your home right away: do a little painting, some carpet cleaning, and make minor updates. You want your home to make a great first impression!
 Consider offers carefully – especially competing offers. Consider ALL terms of the offer, not just the sale price. Things to think about……closing date, inspections, cash down, appraisals, etc.
 Plan for the appraisal – Provide the appraiser with comparable sales in your area and be sure to point out special features of your home they might miss!

Happy Selling!!!

Homes for Sale in Maryland and Pennsylvania Real Estate from Prudential Homesale. Looking to sell your home? Contact a Prudential Homesale Real Estate Agent today.

May 9, 2013

Control Your Debt

control-your-debtWhen deciding if you can afford to finance a home, it is important to know how much you can afford. Lenders do not want to approve you for a loan that could potentially overload you. This is the perfect time to review your personal financial situation; comparing your monthly debt to your monthly income. You need to have the ability to cover your current bills, as well as save for the future, and pay for any unforeseen emergencies.

To determine your debt-to-income ratio, you can do a few simple calculations. Information you will need:

Monthly Income – This is any regular earned income that you can document. If you can’t document it or it doesn’t show on your tax return, then you can’t use it in your monthly income figure. There are some sources of unearned income that you can use, such as alimony or lottery pay-offs.

Something to keep in mind, gross income is what you receive before taxes are deducted and most lenders will use your gross income for their calculations. Net income is the amount after taxes, which is what you actually have the ability to spend on your expenses.

Monthly Mortgage Debt – This should include your monthly mortgage principal payment, as well as interest, insurance, and taxes. If you are unsure of what your taxes and insurance will cost, you can estimate them at approximately 15% of your mortgage payment.

Monthly Debt “load” – This includes all other monthly debt obligations like credit cards, installment loans, car loans, school loans, alimony, or child support. If it is revolving debt (such as a credit card), use the minimum monthly payment for your calculations.

(Mortgage Debt ÷ Monthly Income = ._ _ _ x 100 = _ _ %; should be less than 28%)
(Mortgage Debt + Other Monthly Debt ÷ Monthly Income = ._ _ _ x 100 = _ _ %; should be less than 36%)

Lenders may use slightly different formulas and consider other various factors when reviewing your personal financial situation. However, the general rule of thumb is that your housing expense should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income and the combination of monthly mortgage expense and other monthly debts should not exceed 36%.

Depending on your individual situation, there may be some flexibility in these percentages. If you are able to make a larger cash down payment, the qualifying ratios will become less critical. Having a co-signer for your loan is another way to reduce the importance of the debt-to-income ratios.

Whatever financial route you choose to go, make sure it is something you will be comfortable with for many years. Don’t forget to factor in unusual expenses such as school tuition or vacation expenses; you don’t want to choose a higher loan amount simply because it is what you qualify for – You might qualify, but you could discover too late that it is more than you can realistically afford!

There are hundreds of loan programs available in today’s lending market. So take your time and shop around with the same care and consideration you use when shopping for your home!

Also check out these tips to help improve your credit score.

May 2, 2013

Market Changes for 2013

marketchangeWith it looking like the real estate market is in recovery-mode, a lot of individuals are making the leap into buying or selling a home. The housing market is very different than it used to be; even as recently as six months ago. Read on to discover some of the ways it has changed since 2012 and what the changes may mean for you, as a buyer or seller.

  • Fewer Distressed-homes for Sale – With the mortgage crisis fading, so are the cheap deals for buyers. Some of this is due to a back-log in the processing of foreclosed homes. Other reasons include banks giving homeowners more opportunities to keep their homes, some are being auctioned as rentals, and finally a large number of homes are being sold off in portfolios to investors rather than being listed for sale to individual buyers. This is all good news for sellers who should see an increase in their neighborhood property values.
  • More New Construction – Due to lower interest rates and an upswing in hiring, the market is seeing more activity by builders. Many buyers are welcoming the chance to buy new and have it designed their way. However, the prices for new homes are also increasing. A greater supply of new homes in the future could help slow the pace of the increases.
  • Lack of Inventory – Rates are good, but the home selection is not. The supply is the lowest it has been since the fall of 2005. Many homeowners still cannot get a sale price high enough to cover their debt and provide enough money to put down on a move-up home. This should change during the year. A high demand, low interest rates, and slowly increasing home prices should prompt more sellers to list their homes. Word to the wise, if you find a desirable home, move quickly or someone else will!
  • Higher Home Prices – A slight improvement in the economy and lower interest rates are boosting buyer demand, decreasing the supply, and helping to raise prices. The past few months have shown a steady incline in the price of homes. The increases should be a bit more restrained this year, which is good news for buyers.
  • Luxury Home Sales Stumble – Due to the capital gains tax increase in January, a lot of luxury homeowners rushed to sell their homes before the hike. Due to this mass sell-off and home buyers taking advantage of it, a slowdown is expected on luxury home sales this year. High-end buyers will have less to choose from, but will also have less competition.
  • New Mortgage Rule – A new rule to protect buyers has been announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Not effective until 2014, many lenders will be putting it into place this year. It will require buyers’ financial information to be supplied and verified, along with their debt-to-income ratio. Buyers will no longer be allowed to purchase homes they cannot afford. Lenders can no longer offer a “teaser” rate on mortgages to mask the true rate of the loan and Lenders must also ensure that the loan has no excessive points, fees, or “hidden” features where the principal amount increases.
  • Home-Equity Loans Make a Come-back – These rates have fallen as well, allowing homeowners to do some long over-due remodeling. Gradually, lenders are becoming more willing to do these types of loans with the increase in home value; giving current homeowners more financing options.
  • Rates Could Rise – After reaching record lows, rates are expected to increase slightly in 2013. Costs associated with certain types of loans may also see an increase. These small changes are not expected to deter buyers.

After years of bad news, the future of real estate is finally starting to look a little brighter!!

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