New Years Resolution

new years resolutions
Remodeling this year? (Infographic from nar.realtor)

It’s a new year, and there are numerous media pieces giving you the same old and trite New Years resolution.  Here are three New Years resolutions that may have meaning for you this year.

Selling a home this year?  Your New Years resolution is to not overpay on real estate commissions.  Although I have written a lot about real estate commissions this year, it’s a topic I have addressed through the many years of this column.  2019 is was the year when consumers finally became aware that they have control in how much they pay when selling a home.  Although home sellers have always been able to negotiate with real estate agents, agents are increasingly transparent about costs giving sellers more clout in deciding what’s fair compensation.  There are a number of ways of selling a home today.  Besides negotiating real estate commissions with a traditional real estate agent, consider all your options and do your due diligence.

Have you been putting off repairs?  Make home maintenance your New Years resolution.  If you’re thinking of deferring maintenance projects another year, ask yourself “What’s the cost of doing nothing?”  Putting off those small projects can be costly.  Deferring home maintenance is cumulative over time.  What may seem to be localized areas or systems that need attention, could spread to other areas and systems over time.   

Although average home prices have steadily increased since the end of the Great Recession, many home sellers have found that years of deferred maintenance, and lack of have been an impediment to selling their homes.  Homes for sale that are in need of repair typically take longer to sell and will sell for less than their updated and well-maintained counterparts.

Because many home buyers want turn-key home, many home owners and real estate agents believe that years of deferred maintenance can be overcome with addressing some of the home’s issues.  Making a few updates and minor repairs can improve the appeal of a home.  But unless the all deferred maintenance issues (and updates) are addressed, the home sale price may still be less than what is expected. 

Thinking of making updating your home?  Make a resolution for a healthy home.  A 2017 exposé revealed that green designed and energy efficient homes can be bad for your health.  To explain the potential hazard, Marisa Mendez uses the analogy of opening up the air-tight sealed bag of clothes from last summer and getting a whiff of the stale, plastic air (Breathing Easy: An Introduction to Healthy Homes; remodeling.hw.com; June 22, 2017).  But the green and efficient building trend has moved to make homes healthy environments with an emphasis on good indoor air quality.  Mendez stated that the good indoor air quality can be achieved by continuously exchanging the indoor air with conditioned outdoor air.  There are physical and environmental benefits of a healthy home, which include increased emotional wellbeing and reduced respiratory distress.

Bill Hayward of Hayward Healthy Home has been a leading voice of the healthy home movement.  In a 2016 Builder Magazine interview, he discussed how his own experience transformed his life (Advocating for Fresh Air in Homes; builderonline.com; September 29, 2016).  He started Hayward Healthy Homes after he realized his home made his family ill.  Hayward stated “After my family got sick inside our home, I started researching. Thirty percent of the population has allergies and is physically affected by the indoor air quality. The worst air that Americans breath right now is the air within their house.” For more info on a creating a healthy home, visit Hayward Healthy Home (haywardhealthyhome.com).

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/01/31/new-years-resolution/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2020

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Winter Home Cleaning

winter home cleaning
” A pack rat’s guide to shredding ” (infographic from ftc.gov)

Each spring, we talk about cleaning our homes after cocooning during the winter months.  The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) publishes an annual survey that reveals how many of us actually do a “spring cleaning,” as well as cleaning priorities and outcomes.  However, a winter home cleaning can make your spring a breeze.

According to ACI’s stats from their 2019 survey (cleaninginstitute.org), 41 percent of respondents don’t remember the last time cleaning their refrigerator (4 percent respondents never cleaned their refrigerator).   Would you be surprised to know that 23 percent of respondents don’t remember the last time they cleaned their bed linens?  Another 16 percent can’t remember the last time they cleaned their guest bathroom toilet.  Maybe not a surprise is the 47 percent who don’t remember cleaning their ovens, and the 20 percent who never cleaned their washing machines.   Of those who clean, 25 percent believe they don’t clean well, and about 33 percent don’t clean everything in their homes. 

Nonetheless, the ACI reported 77 percent (their highest number recorded) of respondents indicated they would be doing a spring cleaning.  A majority of respondents indicated their cleaning will take five or more days.  Windows take top priority during the spring cleaning, followed by closets/drawers, ceiling fans, curtains, and carpets.  Why is spring cleaning a big deal?  ACI Senior Vice President of Communications Brian Sansoni stated, “Clearing out the clutter, getting rid of dust and adding some shine. That’s why spring cleaning is such an intuitive activity for so many Americans.  We clean things that might not otherwise get cleaned all year long, and we feel happy and satisfied with the results.” 

But don’t wait for spring.  Any winter home cleaning you do is beneficial, and may reduce the load during your spring cleaning.  Additionally, cleaning tasks you do during the winter may also positively affect your health and wellbeing. 

One of the best ways to clean is to prevent winter weather dirt and debris from entering your home.  Having a large enough heavy-duty entrance mat can help with removing dirty/wet shoes and boots at the door.  Consider placing a shoe tray near the front door to place dirty/wet shoes to dry. 

Rather than letting dust build up, schedule periodic dusting.  Focus on a “healthy home” during your winter home cleaning. Experts recommend removing dust to relieve allergy and sinus symptoms.  Dust can build up around door jambs, window sills, hanging pictures, under furniture and appliances.  Vacuuming carpets will remove dust and dirt from carpets.  Don’t forget to dust hanging fixtures, such as chandeliers and ceiling fans.  Don’t forget to change/clean your bed linens to reduce dust mites. 

Think hygiene during winter cleaning.  Even though it may not be used often, consider deep cleaning the guest bathroom.  Odors can remain in trash cans (especially in the kitchen), sanitizing trash cans may eliminate odors and reduce bacterial growth. 

We to spend more time indoors during the winter months, and our inertia allows us to collect things.  But rather than letting clutter build up for spring, consider beginning your decluttering early.  Decluttering is one of those tasks that can be overwhelming and easily put off for another time.  But if you think about decluttering logically and create a reasonable plan, your winter decluttering can save you time in the spring.  Decluttering is one of those tasks that can be life changing.  Some experts believe that decluttering is somewhat of a portal to better health, as it can promote feelings of wellbeing and energy.

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/12/29/winter-home-cleaning/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Fall Home Maintenance

fall home maintenance
Home repairs (infographic from census.gov)

If you feel that your always doing maintenance on your home, you’re not alone.  But the truth is that homes require regular maintenance.  Fall is here and time to get to work.  Fall home maintenance can help your home keep you comfortable, dry and healthy.  Because of the temperature changes and potential for severe weather, the fall is an opportune time to check your roof, gutters, furnace, and chimney. 

Most don’t realize that hurricane season goes on through the end of November, which means we could experience sever weather events beyond Thanksgiving.  Don’t wait until a storm arrives, check your roof to make sure you stay dry this season.  Although today’s commonly used roofing materials are meant to last twenty-five to fifty years, it doesn’t mean that it is maintenance free.  Even if your roof was replaced recently, it’s a good idea to have a licensed roofer inspect it for lifting, broken, or missing shingles.  The roofer should also inspect for loose or missing flashing and damaged ridge vents.  To prolong the roof’s life, any damage should be repaired immediately. 

The trees shed their leaves during the fall, and lots of leaves end up in the gutters and downspouts.  Gutters and downspouts are designed to carry water away from your home to prevent water penetration in your basement.  If the gutters and downspouts are clogged, the system becomes inefficient or doesn’t work at all.  Many home owners clean the gutters without checking the downspouts.  A clogged downspout will essentially make a clean gutter ineffective.  Additionally, gutters can become loose over time and won’t function as intended.  Clogged and/or damaged gutters and downspouts should also be repaired immediately. 

Because temperatures tend to get colder during the fall, it’s recommended to have your furnace inspected and cleaned by a licensed HVAC technician.  The purpose of the fall inspection is to ensure the furnace is operating safely and efficiently.  A well-maintained furnace can help it last beyond the average life expectancy.  Cleaning and testing the furnace components (such as the blower, ignition, and electronics) as well as replacing filters will help increase the system’s efficiency.  Furnaces are becoming increasingly complex machines that require specialized training to inspect and repair.  Even furnace air filters can be difficult to replace in newer models (some filters are only available from the manufacturer).  If your furnace uses a combustible fuel (such as natural gas, oil, propane, etc), test your home’s carbon monoxide detectors.  CO detectors have a limited life span and must be replaced if not working properly. 

If your home has a fireplace, schedule a chimney inspection before the evening temperatures get colder.  Because proper fireplace and chimney operation is a health and safety matter, don’t put it off.  Regardless if your fireplace is wood or gas burning, regular maintenance requires an inspection and cleaning.  Any repairs should be completed prior to usage.  The chimney should also be inspected, cleaned and repaired as necessary by a qualified licensed contractor.  A well-maintained fireplace and chimney will help properly vent CO out of the home, and can prevent a chimney fire. 

Many home owners put off fall home maintenance because it’s tedious.  To save time, many home owners are hiring a “Home Service Company” that manages seasonal home maintenance.  Some maintenance programs are essentially “bundled” handyman services.  However, before hiring a home service company for your fall maintenance, check that they have properly licensed service techs.

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/10/25/fall-home-maintenance/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Summer home safeguards

summer home safeguards
Summer home safeguards (infographic from crime prevention pamphlet montgomerycountymd.gov/POL)

Did you know that the AAA estimates that there will be about 100 million Americans who will take a family vacation this year (aaa.com)?  If you’re one of those millions planning a trip this summer, you’re likely stressing over your plans.  Some of that stress is certainly vacation planning, but some may be about leaving your home vacant for several or more days.  Besides planning your vacation, you should also plan to “summerize” your home by taking some summer home safeguards.

Just like winterizing a vacant home before winter, summerizing is safeguarding your home while your away on vacation.  And just like winterizing a home, summerizing is implementing a preventative plan to secure your home and possibly save a few dollars. Here are a few common knowledge ideas for summer home safeguards.

To save a few dollars, many homeowners adjust the HVAC thermostat while vacationing.  Some even turn off the HVAC system.  However, if you have a basement or cellar, consider adjusting the thermostat to a reasonable temperature (and/or use a dehumidifier) to prevent mold growth in a dark and potentially humid area of the home.

If your home will be vacant for an extended period, consider unplugging “zombie” appliances.  Zombie appliances are appliances that consume electricity even when they are not in use.  Many small appliances and internet connected appliances (such as your TV and other entertainment devices) are included in this category. 

One of the biggest concerns while away is the potential of returning to a waterlogged home.  A faulty valve or supply line can leak at any time.  If you’re away, you obviously can’t immediately respond to this scenario.  Although some home owners turn off the water at the main valve, this can interfere with a sprinkler system.  Most shut off specific valves to appliances and fixtures.  Some vacationing home owners also shut off outside water hose bibs to prevent others from using water at their expense.

Securing your home can deter burglars and pests.  Although it’s tempting to brag to your friends about your vacation, refrain from posting about your plans on social media.  Store your valuables in a safe, inconspicuous place.  If you don’t have a security system, consider installing a camera and lighting system that can alert you of unexpected activity.  An exterior camera and lighting system can be a major deterrent.  However, interior cameras can also alert you of a determined intruder so you can take appropriate action. 

To deter mice and other rodents from ransacking your home while you’re away, ensure that the home’s doors and windows are shut and secure.  Also, make sure the exterior dryer vent cover is closed.  Find and seal any holes where rodents can gain access your home. 

You may also want to employ some common some summer home safeguards strategies that make it appear as if you never went on vacation.  Connect a few lights to a timer to give the impression that someone is turning on lights at night.  Ask your neighbor or a friend to park in your driveway (or reserved space).  Although stopping the paper and mail while on vacation may seem clever, some home owners have a friend or neighbor pick up the daily paper and mail. 

One of the most common aspects of some summer home safeguards is having a trusted neighbor and/or friend occasionally check on the home.  They can ensure the home is secure, pick up any packages left at the door, and deal with any necessary maintenance (such as adjusting the thermostat).  Spreading this responsibility among multiple “guardians” can make it less of a burden and increase the frequency of “check-ins.”

Many local police departments offer a home security survey. Consider going through the survey to help with your planning.

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/06/15/summer-home-safeguards/

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

After you move in

after you move in
After you move in

Moving into your new home is exciting.  You just went through an intensive process that tested your character.  You feel a sense of relief it’s over.  But the work is not over, it’s just beginning.  What you do after you move into your new home can help maintain its value. It also can save you time, money, and keep your home functioning.

Of course, there are the standard items that needs immediate attention after you move in.  Changing the locks is the number one item on the new homeowner list for obvious reasons.  Deep cleaning the home is a task that is also performed, especially if the previous owner had pets.  Keep all warranty information, including a home warranty policy (if you have one), in a safe place so you can find it if you need it.  Make sure you know where the water shut off valve and the main electrical breaker is located in case of an emergency.  Change of address forms from the USPS need to be completed to ensure you receive your mail.  A visit to the DMV is necessary to change the address on your driver’s license. 

But what else can you do after you move in to make life easier in your new home?  Revisit your home inspection report.  If the home seller made repairs, make sure you keep those invoices (your agent should have asked for those receipts prior to closing).  If there is a problem with any of the repairs, you can call the associated contractor to reinspect the repair.  However, it’s likely that the seller didn’t repair everything in the inspection, or maybe they didn’t repair anything.  Review the report to see which items require your immediate attention, or may require attention within the year.  Make sure you install any missing safety items (such as smoke and carbon dioxide detectors).  Taking care of the urgent items immediately will likely prevent expensive repairs down the road.  Keep the list of items likely needing attention in the future, so you can check them when you conduct regular maintenance.

Next on the list , after you move in, is to create a maintenance schedule.  For most new home owners, maintenance seems to be a dirty word.  After all, you just moved in and the last thing you want to focus on is “upkeep.”  But putting off repairs can make the likelihood of damage to your home and repair expense increase over time.  Research has even verified that deferred maintenance lowers your home’s value.  Your home inspection report also should have information about maintaining systems such as (but not limited to): HVAC, electric, plumbing, roof, and exterior.

If you haven’t yet created a maintenance budget, do it now.  Some of the systems may need replacing sooner than others.  Check your home inspection report for the systems’ age and average life expectancy.  Start saving to replace systems (HVAC, roof, etc.) so it’s not as much of a financial burden when the time comes to replace them.

Life happens and so does the occasional surprise.  It is not uncommon for maintenance and other “surprises” to occur your first year in the home.  Although it may seem correct to blame the home inspector, they are not perfect.  They are limited to what they can see.  “Surprises” often occur in a system or area that was not observable during the time of the inspection.  It is my experience that home inspectors make themselves available within the first year of ownership to answer questions relating to their report.  Some will even reinspect the item in question. 

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/04/09/after-you-move-in/

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2019.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.