AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets. Homesale Realty has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices inBaltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium. Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, Lancaster, Wyomissing, Chambersburg,Gettysburg,Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.
Since it is the holiday season, many homeowners may be traveling to relatives or taking vacations. If you are planning on leaving your home for a significant amount of time you should really take a few moments to go through a few extra steps to ensure that your house is well cared for while you are away. Installing a home security system may be the first thing that comes to your mind, but there are plenty of smaller, less expensive steps you can take that are just as (if not more) effective in preventing theft.
So here is a list of things you can do to bring peace mind while you are on vacation.
1. Tell your neighbors you’ll be away.
Even if you are not close with your neighbors, it is important to give them a heads-up when you are leaving town for a week or more. If you are good friends with your neighbors, you should consider leaving a copy of your house key in case of an emergency, or at least a way to contact you while you are away.*Think twice about sharing specific details of your trip on social media. It is better to be safe than sorry.*
2. Use light timers and motion sensors.
Giving the impression that your home is occupied is one of the surest ways to deter theft. Pick up a basic light timer at the hardware store and program your interior lights to turn on for several hours each evening. You can even program your TV to turn on as well.If you don’t have outdoor motion-sensor lights, you should consider installing them before you go away. If you do have them, double check the bulbs before you leave.
3. Hire a pet sitter or house sitter.
Instead of creating the illusion that someone is home, hire or ask someone you trust to actually stay in the house. You could also hire a pet sitter to come by your house once or twice a day to make sure your animal is okay, as well as your house. You can even ask your pet sitter to bring in your mail and water your plants.
If you don’t have a pet, you could do a swap with a neighbor or family member in the area; they watch your house this time, you watch theirs when they go away.
4. Lock it up
It may seem obvious, but sometimes it is easy to forget about windows and doors that are rarely used when you are rushing to the airport. Make sure you leave enough time before you leave to make sure all your windows and doors are securely shut and locked.
5. Secure sliding glass
Sliding glass windows and doors require special care to be really secure. Luckily the fix is a simple one; just cut a wooden pole or thick dowel to fit in the groove of the tracks when the door is shut, and lay it in before you leave. This won’t stop someone from shattering the glass, but it will make your home a less desirable target if a thief can’t easily slide the door open.
6. Keep up the appearance of routines.
If you will be away for more than a week, see if your house sitter/neighbor (etc..), can bring your garbage and recycling bins out for you and back in the next day. Also don’t let mail pile up on your porch or in your mailbox. You can either have someone bring your mail inside or have the postal service hold your mail (for up to 30 days) instead. You can fill out a form online, so you don’t even have to step foot into a post office during the holiday season.
7. Maintain snow or lawn service.
Not only will it be a relief to come home to a neatly shoveled path and tidy yard, but maintaining a normal level of care will help give your house a lived-in look while you are away.
8. Move valuables away from windows.
You may want to leave a few shades open, since it can look rather off to see a house all closed up if that’s is not your normal routine. However, do be aware of what is visible from the open shades when someone is peering in from the outside. Laptops, flat-screen TVs and other pricey gear within reach of a window make an easy mark for an easy burglary.
It is the season of joy and everyone is excited for holiday celebrations! While you are eager to decorate your home, you should take some precautions as you deck the halls and start a fire in the fireplace. Here are a few helpful tips on how to maintain safety in your home and still enjoy the holiday season.
AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Homesale Realty Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets. Homesale Realty has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Homesale Realty’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium. Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, Lancaster, Wyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg,Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.
Whether you are planning on selling your home, looking to buy an older house or are looking for a few ways to give new life to your home, here are 9 easy tips on how to give your house fresh facelift.
1. Clean or Replace Carpets
Transform the room by making the space feel fresh. Deep cleaning vacuums can help remove odors and make your carpet feel almost new. If you want to take on a DIY project, you could try replacing your carpet with new carpet or even hardwood flooring.
2. Make it Cohesive
As the years go by, it is easy to lose focus or forget about making a room/entire house flow nicely together. An update here and an update there can leave the home in a state of mis-matched chaos. You should determine whether you want rooms to be the same throughout or to each have their own uniqueness.
3. Update Outlets, Light Switches & Plates
Small changes such as updating outlets, light switches and plates make a significant difference. Some may have yellowed, been painted over, various shapes & styles through the years. Updating plates can be simple but updating outlets and light switches can be tricky. Therefore, if you are not experienced hire a licensed electrician or find online tutorials to guide you through the process. While you are at it, you should also update old alarms, thermostats and smoke detectors.
4. Repair Walls
If your house has numerous holes in the walls due to hanging up pictures/mirrors, etc.., and/or have apparent DIY patching, you should consider getting your walls professionally repaired. You could even have your painters fix blemishes and fill the nail holes. Repairing your walls will make them look brand new!
5. Add Light
There are numerous ways to add light to your home beyond light fixtures. You could replace old blinds. Rethink the idea of curtains by making a curtain rod extend past the width of the window, making the window appear larger and not blocking any light. You should also consider adding or replacing light fixtures. Change out light bulbs to newer bulbs that give off a higher wattage and offer a different effect; soft or white.
Even though this is an obvious answer, changing the color or even adding a fresh coat of the same color can make a major difference. A current and cohesive paint palette brings the home into the present.
7. Remove Dated Fixtures
Updating lights and hardware are easy ways to freshen up your home.
8. New Doors/Door Frames
Replace your older doors with newer models. Sometimes older doors no longer fit in the door frame and may not lock correctly. Also adding a new front door will help with curb appeal and can even brighten up your foyer.
9. Refinish Hardwood
If your hardwood floors are scratched up and have lost their shine you should consider refinishing your hardwood floors. Choose an appropriate stain and give your floors a makeover. This can either be a DIY project or you can hire a professional.
According to AARP, for the next 18 years, baby boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day. This means that a large portion of American homeowners will be reaching retirement age and will have to start thinking about the next phase in their life. Part of this next phase may include packing up their large family homes in favor of spending their ‘empty nest’ years enjoying a newfound freedom. When you think about the combination of approaching retirement and your children are off on their own, it may not be necessary to keep so much space. Many couples may have a disproportionate amount of their wealth stored in home equity. Downsizing can be a useful way to convert some of this wealth into liquid financial assets to be used for other expenses. Downsizing can also provide the opportunity to sort through belongings and get rid of things that are no longer needed. Are you ready to make the move? Here are 9 downsizing tips to consider.
Have a plan –
Think about what kind of lifestyle you want. Do you prefer an urban setting? Or do you need a yard? Do you want to be part of a community that offers lots of activities and amenities such as golf courses and swimming pools? Or are you a more independent type who seeks out opportunities on your own? You should investigate your options and not limit exciting new possibilities. If you’ve raised your family in the suburbs and don’t want to leave, you could start looking at newer condominium buildings that are close to shops and restaurants. Living in such an area can provide a similar lifestyle to the city while still remaining in the suburbs.
Consider a short distance move -
Not everyone wants to move to a warm-weather destination, such as Florida. Many downsizing Boomers would rather stay in their current location. Remaining in the same vicinity would be ideal if you want to stay close to your children and their families. This would make visiting your family easy and holiday gatherings less stressful without the hectic holiday traffic.
Age restricted –
Before moving, you should decide if this next move will be your last move. You should consider whether or not you want to live in a neighborhood with younger families or people who are closer in your age bracket. Whether you want to move into a neighborhood with people your own age who share similar interests or a neighborhood with an eclectic community of people, the decision is up to you and your personal preference.
Look for universal design –
A house should be accessible to those of any age or ability, with features such as wide doorways and flat thresholds. This may not seem important to vigorous Boomers, but it could be an issue in the years ahead. Will you still be able to live in the home as an 80-year-old? Advanced planning in this regard can help ease the transition for health and physical changes in later life. A single-story house may be ideal. Other important features to consider: slip resistant floors, lever door handles, and reinforced bathroom walls that can support grab bars. Another consideration is indoor air quality. Clothes dryers, bathrooms, stoves and fireplaces should vent outdoors.
The downsizing phase of life usually means you won’t be earning as much money as you did when you were younger. What are your sources of cash? How long will you work? How much can you expect from social security payments, or a pension? Will investments generate enough income to cover expenses? Many Boomers think they’ll sell an expensive house and buy a cheaper in hopes of saving money.
Consider a mortgage –
The American Dream may be to live mortgage free, but it often makes sense to have a mortgage, even a small one. Assuming you make a profit when you sell your current home, the proceeds can be invested and used for future living expenses. If you sink all the proceeds from the sale of your house into a new house, you may not be able to generate enough cash to cover expenses. Renting could make sense, too, if rents are less than the cost of owning.
Watch the taxes –
Many Boomers consider moving out of state to places like Florida that have no income tax, in order to lower their overall tax bill. But don’t forget other hidden costs, such as travel back and forth to visit family. Also, you may be eligible for a tax free gain on the sale of a house. Any gain, up to $500,000 for a couple, is tax free. “It is one of the most generous provisions in the tax code,” says Bob Meighan, vice president at Turbo Tax, a software tax preparation company in San Diego, Calif.
Make a smart move –
Before the move, focus on how you want to live. Think through your new lifestyle and which items will make that possible. If you’re moving to a community that provides outdoor maintenance, you won’t need the shovels and lawn mower. Think about using the extra room in the new place for the hobby you’ve always wanted to start, instead of saving it for guests who rarely visit. Look forward, not back.
Downsize thoughtfully –
If you’re selling a house, you’ll probably spend time de-cluttering the place so it looks good for prospective buyers. But don’t stop there. You can sell unwanted items on craigslist or eBay, have a garage sale or even give items away on the website Freecycle.org. Remember to save family treasures that can’t be replaced. If you don’t have room for all the treasures, give them to family or friends who can appreciate them.
In the end, choose what matters to you at this stage of life by knowing more about who you are and who you are not. If you are not ready to move again, then walk that direction. Talk with yourself and your partner about what roles you will play in making a downsize happen. Pull up those resources you need to enjoy the life you are heading towards. If you have decided that it is time to move, contact your local real estate agent at Homesale Realty. Cheers to embracing the idea of changing the scenery and designing a new stage set for your future!
Wall Street Journal
Whether you have just moved into your new home or have been a homeowner for a while, hosting a holiday party is stressful. You want to impress your guests and the last thing you need is a problem you can’t fix. Imagine you’re preparing to host your holiday party, and you’re past the point of no return. The veggies and meats have been bought. Guests are already braving busy airports and crowded highways to get to your home—and then your oven won’t turn on. Your home-cooked meal has quickly turned from a 5-star dinner to take-out.
That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday gathering before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to steer clear of a disaster.
Problem: The oven
For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roast beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.
- There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.
Problem: The kitchen sink clogs
The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.
- Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
- If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
- To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.
Problem: The heat goes out
As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats—not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.
- The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
- Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they’re missing or damaged.
Problem: The toilet stops up
Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.
- Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.
Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.
- Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
- Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.
Winter weather is on its way! Whether you are preparing to sell or purchase a home, it is important to keep your house warm throughout the winter months (especially if you have showings). However, keeping your home warm can be costly. Here are a few tips on how to winterize your home without breaking the bank.