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.

Holiday Home Safety

holiday home safety
Holiday home safety (ifographic from cpsc.gov)

For some, the holiday season is a time of enjoying family and friends.  For others it’s a time of giving.  Regardless, many agree that it’s a time we wish each other joy and happiness.  Here’s some thoughts on holiday home safety keeping your holiday safe and enjoyable. 

Holiday home safety includes protecting your home from fire.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc.gov), from 2014 to 2016 there were “about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires that resulted in 10 deaths, 150 injuries, and nearly $50 million in property damage each of those years.”  If you have a live tree, make sure it has plenty of water so it doesn’t become potential tinder.  If you have an artificial tree, make sure it’s “fire resistant” (check the label).  Keep your tree away from the fire place and candles.  If you’re using candles, keep an eye on them as they burn.  Make sure they are away from curtains or other flammable items.  Remember to blow out candles when leaving the room.  To lower the fire risk, consider using “flameless” candles.  When using holiday lights, check to make sure they are safety rated by a “nationally-recognized testing laboratory.”  Throw out your old lights if they have: cracked sockets, frayed insulation, bare wires, and/or loose connections.  Make sure your holiday decorations are flame retardant. 

Holiday home safety is also about avoiding accidents. More stats from the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate that the potential for accidents increase during the holiday season.  Consider that there were five holiday decorating deaths during the 2018 holiday season.  There were about 18,100 holiday “decorating-related injuries” during the 2017 holiday season.  Since many holiday injuries are the result of falls, make sure you use a proper ladder or step-stool when decorating.  Also consider having a helper to help stabilize the ladder or step-stool. 

Children are typically at high risk for injuries, especially during the holiday season.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) recommends to keep an eye on children during the festive season.  During the holidays, be mindful of age appropriate toys, some toys can be choking hazards to young children. 

Holiday season is prime time for thieves, so don’t make it easy for them.  Secure your home just as you would any other time of the year.  Security experts concur that it typically takes sixty seconds for a burglar to break into the average home. Because their risk of being caught in the act increases with every second, they will likely move to the next house if they can’t get in within a minute or two.

Don’t forget to deploy your deterrents and other preventative measures to discourage burglars from breaking-in, especially if you’re traveling.  Besides the usual measures, there are other precautions to consider during the holidays.  Don’t allow would-be thieves see your presents, place them out of site.  Be aware that trash and recycling can also reveal your new and expensive items.

If you’re expecting deliveries when you are not at home, plan ahead to thwart porch pirates.  Consider having your packages delivered at work or to a neighbor who is home during the day.  Use parcel lockbox that keeps the package out of site and locked away.  Install a camera to see front door activity.

More information about holiday home safety can be obtained from the CPSC, CDC, and your local government agencies (such as the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, and the Montgomery County Police Department).

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/01/02/holiday-home-safety/

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.

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.

Renovate Your Home

renovate your home
Home improvements from the American Housing Survey (census.gov)

Once thought of as a supporting actor in the housing industry, home remodeling is poised to take the spotlight.  The growing fascination with home remodeling is generating new renovation trends and research. It’s time to renovate your home! If you aren’t yet thinking of remodeling your home, chances are that you will be planning a home improvement project in the next five years.

Plaut & Plaut’s conclusion to their study (Decisions to Renovate and to Move; Journal of Real Estate Research; 2010; vol. 32; p.461-484) states, “Housing renovation is an important component of housing supply, yet one often ignored both in empirical analysis and in policy discussions about housing.”  They point out that that renovating a home was becoming a “substitute for moving.”  A possible cause for the trend in 2010 was twofold.  First, many homes fell into disrepair during and after the Great Recession.  During that time, many home owners could not keep up with regular maintenance, let alone emergency repairs. And second, there was a lack of quality homes for sale immediately after the Great Recession.  As foreclosure and REO home sales subsided, many homes for sale showed signs of neglect through deferred maintenance. 

Renovate your home.

Fast forward to 2019, home sale inventory continues to be a major problem for the industry (and will likely continue into the next decade).  But home remodeling is picking up the slack to improve the nation’s home stock, as well as help increase quality home sale inventory.  However, industry experts are learning there are other reasons that home owners are remodeling instead of moving.  Trends that have been identified include seniors who are “aging in place,” and multigenerational homes. 

Although a recent Freddie Mac study identified seniors who are “aging in place” as a cause of the ongoing home sale inventory shortage, aging in place is also stimulating home remodeling!  Homeownership rates for seniors are much higher today than in past generations.  Instead of moving to retirement communities or stereotypical senior housing, older home owners are staying put and renovating their homes for comfort and style.

Multigenerational homes became popular again after the recession, when grandparents, parents and adult children pulled resources to live in one home.  The trend continues as aging parents are moving in with their children, and young adults are moving back into their parent’s homes.  Remodeling a home to accommodate several generations may require turning a basement into an apartment, adding a main level bedroom and bathroom, or possibly building an addition to the existing home.

Even home owners who decide to move are remodeling their homes.  According to NAR’s Remodeling Impact Report (nar.realtor), functionality and livability are the top reasons to renovate for a home sale.  Most home buyers want a turnkey home that is functional, comfortable and energy efficient.  Home sellers who improve their homes before selling typically sell faster and for more than those who sell their home “as-is.”

While “going green” has become a standard in home improvement, a Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (jchs.harvard.edu) publication “Healthy Home Remodeling: Consumer Trends and Contractor Preparedness” identifies healthy home remodeling as a growing trend.  Healthy home building practices are intended on maintaining the physical and emotional wellbeing of the home’s occupants by using healthier building materials, such as “low-VOC paints and formaldehyde-free woods.”

When planning to renovate your home, home improvement experts recommend: create a budget and stick to it; only hire licensed contractors; and make sure your improvements have permits.

Original article is located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/09/28/renovate-your-home

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.