Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

Each season has something different to offer to a potential home buyer. Read the pros and cons of buying a home during the summer versus the winter.

You hear it a lot – there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it’s a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase.

Numerical data isn’t the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer


Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months.

If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you’ll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather.

It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it’s usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice.

If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break.

Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there’s a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter

There’s less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year’s resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn’t typically at the forefront of most people’s minds.

What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate.

They might be if the reason why they’re moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent’s holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer.

Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You’ll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you’ll notice how effective the heating system is.

While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you’ll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.

Considerations for Both Seasons
There are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons – namely, your real estate agent’s availability, and your neighbors.

Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won’t negatively affect your intentions to buy.

On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower.

Additionally, when you buy a new home, you’ll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you’re someone that cares a lot about a home’s upkeep, this might concern you.

At the same time, you’ll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.

Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?
As you may conclude, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn’t let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll know it.

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Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

While you’re packing, consider throwing out these household items and give yourself a fresh start in your new home.

 

Houzz Contributor, Aly Finkelstein

It’s a great feeling to walk into your new home and know you have a blank space to work with. But making sure your new home stays this fresh, clean and exciting is much harder. Here are five things to consider throwing away before your next move.

1. Old trash cans. Old and used garbage cans and bins can be dirty and in bad shape. And nothing says “yucky” like an old trash can that you’ve used for years.

If your family is anything like mine, you have gum, stains and sticky spots on even the cleanest of indoor and outdoor trash cans. Do yourself a favor and throw out the old bins before you move to your new home. You can buy new trash cans that match, fit the space and are clean. This rule may also apply to recycling bins you have around the house.

If buying all new cans isn’t in your budget, definitely clean your cans before packing them into your moving truck or car. Fill the inside of the can with dish soap and warm water and let it soak. Then scrub. The soak will make scrubbing easier.

2. Toys. Moving is the best time to clean out the things you haven’t used and the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Toys are a major clutter culprit, and often many of them just aren’t being used anymore. My motto: Keep the favorites and toss the rest. Once you’re in your new space, you can buy a special new toy to celebrate the move.

Pro tip: If you feel too guilty about getting rid of your child’s toy, pack up the ones you think your child may miss and leave them in a separate box in the garage. If they don’t ask for them after a certain amount of time, get rid of them.

3. Old paint. Every client I work with has gallons of old paint. Chances are the colors match your old house but not your new one, so this is a great time to clean out all the old cans.

Before disposing of paint, check your town’s rules on recycling or disposing of it.

Pro tip: If you loved some of those colors, add them to a spreadsheet on your computer. Make sure you list the room a paint was used in, for future reference. Make sure to update the spreadsheet as you repaint in your new house too.

4. Paper. As long as you’ve rectified your statements, paid your bills and set aside important documents and receipts, you don’t need to keep all the paper that’s weighing you down. File the things you need to keep, such as tax documents, health insurance paperwork and property records, and get rid of the rest.

I keep three files on my desk at all times: bills to be paid, business receipts to keep and paid bills. Once I see online that the paid bills have been registered as paid, I throw the paper versions out. This keeps the files small and manageable year-round.

Pro tip: In the weeks before you move, carve out five to 10 minutes a week to tackle the paper piles you have around the house. Almost all of the items in these piles can be thrown away if you take the time to go through them.

Read more about which papers to toss and which to keep

5. Storage containers. Do yourself a favor and get fresh storage containers for your new home! The container drawer is often a major source of clutter and frustration for my clients. Your new home will feel even newer with a full set of matching storage containers.

I store my containers with the lids on so they don’t get separated. If for some reason the lid does go missing, I repurpose the bottom or get rid of it. I’m loving glass containers these days because I can microwave, store and eat from them. They can do it all and then go back into the drawer with their matching lids.

Pro tip: Buy storage containers based on your family’s needs. For example, if you cook often and send friends and family home with leftovers, buy inexpensive, disposable containers. If you use your containers weekly for whole meals, buy larger sizes.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Buyer’s Market and a Seller’s Market

One important thing to remember about the property market is that it’s always in a state of change. Sometimes the market is favorable to buyers and sometimes it’s favorable to sellers. But don’t worry, a knowledgeable agent can guide you in the sale or purchase of your next home, no matter what type of market you’re facing.

What is a Seller’s Market?
A seller’s market is simply a property market that benefits you as a seller. In a seller’s market, there’s a scarcity of properties, which can drive up the price of homes, especially in desirable locations.

Sellers can depend on real estate experts to know what the market is doing, but here are some signs of a seller’s market:
– Low inventory when compared to previous months and/or years
– Homes are selling faster
– Less than six months of inventory on the market
– More homes are selling
– Median sales prices are growing
– Less information in real estate ads; just the bare details
– “For Sale” signs don’t stay up long before being replaced with “pending” or “sold”

What is a Buyer’s Market?
A buyer’s market is the opposite of the seller’s market. If you’re buying at this time you’ll be spoiled for choice as the supply of homes on the market exceeds the number of buyers, giving you the chance to score a fantastic deal.

A sharp agent will quickly be able to tell you where the market lies, but here are some signs of a buyer’s market:
– Inventory that is high when compared to previous months and/or years
– Homes are selling more slowly
– More than six months in inventory on the market
– Sales prices are shrinking
– Fewer sales are taking place
– Real estate ads are growing in size, giving more details and/or images
– “For Sale” signs are staying longer, meaning the days on the market are longer too

How Do I Figure out the Months of Inventory in a Market?
1. Look for the total number of active listings for the month prior to the current one
2. Look for the total number of sold or closed transactions for the same time frame
3. Divide the total number of listings by the number of sales. This figure represents the number of months of inventory there are.

For example, let’s say there were 6,500 listings in one month’s time. During that same time, there were 1,500 properties that were sold. Divide 1,500 into 6,500 and you arrive at 4.3 months of inventory, meaning that this is a seller’s market.

While a savvy real estate agent is the best resource for this information, other resources include real estate listing websites and/or your local real estate association.

Do All Markets Follow the Same Cycles?
Markets are always in a state of flux. At its core, people are the driving force behind the real estate market.

For example, as more people move into a location, the more need there is for housing. If the number of properties in the area cannot support the number of people moving in, prices of existing homes will likely rise until more homes can be built.

This constant change to the supply and demand in a market is how markets shift back and forth from being more favorable for either buyers or sellers.

Can I Buy in a Seller’s Market?
Absolutely, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park. You’ll need determination, knowledge, and most importantly, someone on your side who knows the market inside and out.

Something to consider – you don’t know the seller’s true reasons for wanting to sell. Maybe there’s a divorce pending or another baby on the way and they need more space fast. Whatever is going on with the seller, a savvy agent will spot opportunities to help you and the seller arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.

One key reason it’s vital to engage an agent in a seller’s market is for their negotiating skills. While it’s important to always negotiate, a seller’s market calls for serious help to ensure that you don’t pay more than you need to.

Should I Wait to Sell?
It depends. Is it mandatory that you sell right now or could you wait until it’s a seller’s market again?

Consult with an agent to get his opinion about your chances of getting what you need or want for the sale of your home. He just might have some options you may not have considered that will help you get out from under your home and get on with your life.

Don’t be afraid to sell or buy if you think the market isn’t in your favor. The real estate market can be highly varied, so trust your agent to help you get the best possible results, no matter what the market looks like.

What is the Difference Between a Short Sale and a Foreclosure?

What is the Difference Between a Short Sale and a Foreclosure?

Here is how to get a great deal on foreclosures and short sales while heeding all the risks when buying a home.

Not sure about the world of foreclosures and short sales? Don’t worry. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know to grasp the basics of foreclosures and short sales.

What Are Foreclosures and Short Sales?

A foreclosure is a process by which a lender is able to repossess a property when the borrower defaults on loan payments.

A pre-closure is the period between when the lender files the Notice of Default and when the foreclosure process is complete. If the home is sold during this period, the transaction is called a short-sale foreclosure (or “short sale” for short).

While both a short sale and a foreclosure result in the unfortunate event of the borrower not being able to stay in their home, a short sale allows a borrower to avoid the harmful effects that a foreclosure would have on their credit score.

How Can You Buy a Foreclosure/Short Sale Property?

There are fewer foreclosures and short sales on the market today than there were a few years ago. “Default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions…are down more than 7 percent from a year ago,” according to RealtyTrac’sNovember 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

But if you’re a buyer, you can still find a great deal on a foreclosure or short sale, particularly if you work with an agent who focuses on finding these deals.

If you are interested in purchasing either a foreclosure/short sale property, talk to an agent who specializes in foreclosures and short sales.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosure/Short Sale Property?

Let’s start with the advantages.

Foreclosures and short sales are often priced below retail, which means that you can buy these properties for less than the cost of other comparable homes. Subsequently, your monthly mortgage payments will be smaller and you’ll spend less interest over the life of the loan.

Furthermore, you may build equity quickly, particularly if you improve or renovate the home. This equity increases your net worth, and you have the option of borrowing against this equity in the future if you choose.

Additionally, if you purchase a short sale, you’ll also enjoy the emotional satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone avoid foreclosure.

Although foreclosures and short sales can offer the buyer exceptional deals on real estate prices, there are some drawbacks.

Foreclosures and short sales often need renovations or repairs. It’s likely that the owner wasn’t able to maintain the property, which means that you might have to deal with deferred maintenance issues. It’s important to get a full report of the maintenance issues you might face. Ask your real estate professional if he or she can recommend a qualified licensed home inspector who can produce a full report for you.

It is possible that some foreclosed properties are vandalized while they’re vacant, which can add to these repair bills. However, this damage will generally be reflected in the pricing of the home.

Foreclosures and short sales are in shorter supply, which means there’s a lower likelihood that the property has all your wants and needs. You may need to compromise on certain features, amenities or desired location. You may also need to act quickly, as these opportunities can get snapped up fast.

For a short sale, the seller may be motivated to sell, but he or she may not be able to budge on the negotiation price due to the outstanding balance on the mortgage.

Short sales are notorious for their lengthy closing times – typically between 45-90 days. This is because the original lender needs to approve the sale. If you’re in the market for a quick closing, a foreclosure or short sale property may not be for you.

That said, however, the financial benefits of buying a foreclosure or short sale can be fantastic for homebuyers who are flexible and patient.

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

Create a vacation vibe in your at-home sanctuary and you’ll be better able to recharge.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

With warmer evenings and sunlit mornings, summer begs us to take a more relaxed approach to life. That might mean a slower-paced schedule, a breezy wardrobe or a goal of keeping the house tidy. These eight rules can help you savor the season each day from the moment you rise and pull open the shades until you tuck into bed at night.

1. I will preserve time at the beginning and end of the day for quiet reflection.Even if it’s only five minutes spent sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning or herbal tea before bed, having a smidgen of dedicated me-time in the peace and privacy of your bedroom can bookend a frantic day, or bring satisfying closure to a pleasant one. Write in your journal, read an inspiring book, meditate or simply look out the window as you set intentions for the day ahead.

2. I will treat myself to extended weekend mornings in bed. If you’re a parent, finding a way to make this happen may be impossible at times, but the bliss of a morning in bed (read: at least 20 uninterrupted minutes with a fresh pot of coffee and your favorite publications) is worth whatever scheduling acrobatics it takes to arrange.

3. I will keep my wardrobe simple. Living out of a suitcase on vacation can seem carefree because you have fewer choices. Re-create that feeling at home by editing your wardrobe down to your most-loved and worn pieces, and stash away (or consign) the rest. While editing, keep in mind that the smaller the wardrobe, the more important it is that everything goes together. Stick with pieces that mix and match (such as colorful, patterned tops and solid, neutral bottoms) to maximize outfit-making potential.

4. I will decorate with reminders of summer. Surrounding yourself with visual reminders of what you love most about summer will make your bedroom feel more like a getaway. Try nautical maps, postcards from far-flung locales, snapshots taken on your last vacation, a bedspread bought in a seaside town, or shells and sea glass collected on the beach.

Set the Mood: 5 Colors for a Calming Bedroom

5. I will keep things clean and uncluttered. Putting away clothes and shoes each day isn’t a glamorous task, but the five minutes (or less!) of effort is well worth the calm atmosphere you will enjoy coming home to when everything is neatly put away. Need inspiration? Give your bedroom a makeover at the start of summer to motivate yourself to keep the space looking sharp.

How to Get a Half-Painted Wall Right

6. I will help overnight guests feel at home. When friends and family come to stay, a few special details are all it takes to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. Snip flowers from the garden for the bedside table, set out a selection of beach reads and make up the bed with light layers. Don’t have a spare quilt or even a guest bed? A tapestry (the sort pinned to dorm room walls) or even a large sarong can make a summery and budget-friendly bedspread, whether you’re covering a bed or an air mattress.

See the rest of this eclectic home

7. I will say yes to mermaids. Mermaids are equal parts kitschy and mysterious, making them the perfect motif for a summery bedroom. Plus, having something to collect makes shopping at your favorite flea markets and art fairs even more fun. Not into mermaids? Pick your own icon of summer, and start collecting.

8. I will let the stars guide me to bed. Can’t get away to that rustic lakeside cabin? Pretend you’re camping at home, and turn down the electric lights in favor of candles and lanterns a few hours before bedtime. You may be surprised at how this one simple change can make your home feel completely transformed, at least for the evening. Indulge in screen-free entertainment like playing cards or board games, and be sure to peek outside at the stars before retiring to your room.

How to Build a Cheap Shed for Your Backyard

How to Build a Cheap Shed for Your Backyard

By following these five tips, you can kick the clutter and keep your wallet fat.

Is your garage overflowing with gear and gadgets? Whether your clutter is for business or pleasure, a backyard shed is the perfect storage solution.

But, extra space comes with a price tag. Prefab sheds can put you back thousands of dollars, and a bad DIY can cost you your weekends and your pride.

What if you could build a quality shed without breaking the bank? By following these five tips, you can kick the clutter and keep your wallet fat.

#1 Cut the Frill = Cut the Costs

The average custom-made shed costs anywhere from $2,109 to $3,545 depending on the materials you use and whether you do it yourself or call in a local pro.

So, how can you keep your shed budget under a grand? Cut out all the frills. Sheds become expensive when homeowners choose costly features, like

  • Electricity
  • Shelves and built-in storage
  • Decorative trim
  • Loft
  • Ramp
  • Workbench
  • Large square footage

Skilled laborers, like electricians and carpenters, can charge up to $100/hour to add these custom features, not including the cost of added material.

Cheap sheds are basic sheds—four walls, a roof, and a foundation. Consider which features you need and which you can live without.

#2 Choose Cost-Effective Materials

You want your materials to be sturdy yet practical. Luckily, sheds can be built with a variety of materials, which we ranked from most to least expensive.

Expensive: Vinyl

Vinyl is a favorite among homeowners due to its strength and durability. Vinyl sheds are known to resist rot, harsh weather, insects, and dents.

It’s a great, maintenance-free option – especially for homeowners that live in areas that experience heavy snowfall and bad storms.

Of course, that durability comes at a price. At the cheapest, vinyl will run around $800 in material cost, and up to $5,000 at its most expensive.

 Can be Costly: Wood

Wood is beautiful and popular and very customizable. But, it can also be expensive. A lot of labor and resources are put into making those beautiful wood slabs, driving up the cost.

Expect to spend anywhere from $600 to $3,000 on materials for a wood shed.

Cheapest: Metal

Metal is a cost-cutting favorite – it is low maintenance, resists rot, insects, and decay, and can last upwards of 25 years. Depending on the size of your shed, metal material can cost as little as $300.

Your metal shed won’t be as resistant to heavy snow and high wind, but it’s the ultimate budget saver in a temperate climate.

#3 Shop Around

You know what they say about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure? There’s always someone out there with too much of something who wants to reclaim their space. Which means you can snag up materials for ultra-cheap – sometimes even free!

Lumber mills are overflowing with waste. Politely ask the yard manager if they have any scrap wood you can take off their hands.

Or, search online. A quick search for free or discount lumber revealed dozens of results for wood people wanted to get rid of.

Of course, this means you have to drive (sometimes long distances) and deal with strangers. But, with some courtesy and research, you might be able to snag all or most of the materials for your shed at an ultra-cheap price!

#4 Rent Power Tools Instead of Buying Them

Unless you are a professional handyman, you probably don’t have a huge supply of power tools in your garage.

Contractors estimate you’ll need the following tools to build a shed, though you may need others depending on your materials and construction plans:

  • Safety glasses / hearing protection
  • Hammer
  • Power drill (Cordless) & drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Nail gun
  • Circular saw
  • Speed square
  • Stepladder
  • Sawhorses

While building a shed is a fun excuse to go tool shopping, it doesn’t make sense to drop a huge amount of dough for a tool you’ll only use twice a year. Buying all these tools could costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Not to mention, finding a place to store rarely used tools may be why you’re building a shed in the first place.

Thankfully, many local hardware stores allow you to rent tools for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, if you hire a contractor, they’ll already have all the tools, so you save costs.

#5 Check Permits to Avoid Hidden Costs

Check local building codes before building a shed in your backyard. Even though you’re building on your property, the city can fine you or force you to dismantle your shed if you don’t have the right permit.

Make sure you do your research to avoid unexpected fines and the cost of having to rebuild an improperly placed shed.

#6 When in Doubt, Go With a Pro

DIY projects often seem like the most cost-effective practice. But, consider the cost of materials, the amount of time you’ll have to commit, and your skill level.

Some parts of your project may be out of your skill range and require hiring a carpenter, contractor, or electrician.

Better to hire a professional than spend money and time fixing mistakes and making repairs.

Whether you want to relax by the pool or you have a list of DIY projects, an organized space makes it easier to take full advantage of your summer.

Ready, set, build.

Chelsea McGrath is an Editor at HomeAdvisor with a love for all things home, health, sports and nature.

References:

http://www.homeadvisor.com/task.Shed-Barn-or-Playhouse-Build.40347.html?4329=7048&4330=6112&4331=4873&502713=10002&step=location&sar=true

http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/additions-and-remodels/build-a-barn-shed-or-playhouse/?st=&sc=1.768097

http://www.toolcrib.com/blog/2008/10/lumber-salvage-the-top-10-sources-for-cheap-free-and-recycled-wood

http://www.cheapsheds.com/metal-sheds/

http://www.lifetime.com/customerservice/tipsandsolutionsdetail/194/which-shed-material-is-best-for-you

https://www.familyhandyman.com/sheds/how-to-build-a-cheap-storage-shed/view-all

2017’s Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

2017’s Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas.

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.

  1. Windows

Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.

While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.

You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.

Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes.

  1. Roof

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.

While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.

Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.

Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.

  1. Exterior

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.

While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.

  1. Foundation

Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.

Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.

  1. Heating and Cooling

You’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.

At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.

Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.

How to Re-Do a Half Bath on a Budget

How to Re-Do a Half Bath on a Budget

With some paint and a carefully chosen storage solution, you can beautify a half bath on a tight budget!

The half bath is often the most forgotten part of the home. A room the homeowner themselves rarely ventures into, the half bath is often overlooked when other, more central rooms, are redecorated. In some circumstances, however, the half bath gets too much use, normally when it becomes the children’s bathroom. This designation usually results in a cluttered mess that features Barbie dolls and shampoo bottles covered in cartoon characters—not exactly a room to showcase to visitors!

How can you control this chaos and make it a more attractive space should guests stumble upon it? Storage! Even if you have a cupboard or shelf in your half bathroom, putting more storage in is never a bad idea, especially something that can become a focal point of this small room and help you dress it up in a few minutes before guests come to visit. Here we look at how with some paint and a carefully chosen storage solution, you can beautify a half bath on a tight budget.

When we moved into our 1960s home, we had a half bath that boasted a retro brownish-greenish-yellowish laminate countertop, white floor and wall tile, some under sink storage and a bathtub.Without a complete refurb, there wasn’t a lot we could do to the space to update it, and as it was situated between two upstairs bedrooms, it made the perfect children’s bathroom.

This designation meant it quickly descended into unorganized chaos. The tipping point for me was the multiple bottles teetering on the back of the toilet seat. I realized we needed storage that was open, easy to access and attractive. We also needed a new countertop—that retro mish-mash of colors didn’t look like it was coming back into style anytime soon.

After considering a complete vanity overhaul, we decided to try simply repainting the laminate. Using two coats of Rustoleum Countertop Coating ($20), we gave the room an instant facelift. The light grey color we choose complements the variety of different toned metal fixtures in the room and is a lot cleaner and brighter than the original color.

Next, we installed a simple chrome and glass wall shelf ($45) above the toilet. This fixture works perfectly for corralling the multiple bottles required to keep our children clean during everyday life but is also simple to dress up when guests come to stay.

So, don’t just shut the door on your chaotic half bath until you can afford to gut it. Consider some quick, inexpensive upgrades, such as paint and new storage, that will make it a more pleasant space to live with—or an easy update if you’re getting ready to sell.

Why You Really Need a Home Inspection

Why You Really Need a Home Inspection

Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make – learn how getting a home inspection can help you get the most value for your home.

Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, and you want to ensure you get the best value for your hard-earned dollar. That’s why more and more home buyers today are turning to professional Home Inspection experts. A professional Home Inspector takes a close look beneath a house’s surface, and then prepares a detailed written report for the prospective buyer on such things as the condition of the foundation, electrical service, roof, insulation, and other critical structural factors. Your Coldwell Banker sales professional can help you connect with an experienced trusted Home Inspection service in your community.

Although costs will vary, you can probably expect to spend two to three hundred dollars for an inspection of a single family home. And who pays for it? Well, since the benefit is almost entirely that of the home buyer, it’s usually the buyer who pays the cost of the home inspection …particularly in a “hot” real estate market, where the home sellers have more leverage. All things considered, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides, and the negotiating power it can give you — especially if it indicates that there are major repairs required, but you decide to make an offer anyway.

When it comes to making your offer to purchase, your Coldwell Banker professional can provide you with good advice on how to allow for a home inspection as a part of this process. Subject to the homeowner’s permission, you can commission a Home Inspection before or even after submitting your offer to purchase. This is done by having your Coldwell Banker salesperson prepare a conditional offer that’s contingent on a Home Inspection report that’s acceptable to you. This approach gives you some distinct advantages: if the conditional offer is accepted, the property is temporarily held against other offers, yet you still have a legal escape route if the report turns up some major negative surprises, such as a bad roof or a crumbling foundation. On the other hand, if the conditional offer isn’t accepted, then the need to pay for a home inspection may never arise. Your Coldwell Banker professional can counsel you on the best approach to suit your market and your individual situation.

5 Home Insurance Tips for Moving to Unfamiliar Weather

5 Home Insurance Tips for Moving to Unfamiliar Weather

Ready to relocate to a new region of the country? Consider the local weather, particularly when you evaluate your home insurance options.

Home insurance is a must-have, regardless of where your house is located. With the right coverage in place, you can safeguard your house and personal belongings against many natural disasters. But not all home insurance policies are created equal. As such, coverage that works for a homeowner in a hot, humid climate is unlikely to meet the needs of a homeowner who deals with excess snow, ice and other inclement winter weather.

To better understand the link between home insurance and weather, let’s consider a few examples.

Southern California experiences roughly 10,000 earthquakes annually, so a Southern California homeowner should have sufficient coverage to protect his or her house and personal belongings against damage or destruction that takes place due to an earthquake. However, Atlantic Coast homes may be susceptible to hurricane storm surge flooding that is not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

If you’re moving to a new area of the country, it may seem simple to transfer your existing home insurance coverage to your new residence. Yet doing so could leave you without coverage against natural disasters that may be more likely to affect you as a homeowner in a new region.

Here are five tips that you can use to purchase the right home insurance if you’re moving to an area with unfamiliar weather:

  1. Understand What’s Covered by a Standard Home Insurance Policy
    A standard homeowners policy offers the following coverage:
  • Dwelling: Ensures you can repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged by a covered cause of loss. For homeowners, it is paramount to have dwelling protection to cover the full cost of home repairs or a complete home rebuild.
  • Other Structures: Offers coverage against damage or destruction of garages, sheds and other detached structures on your property.
  • Personal Property: Provides reimbursement for clothing, electronics and other personal items in your home that have been damaged or destroyed by a covered cause of loss.
  • Loss of Use: Covers the costs associated with housing and assorted living expenses if you’re forced to move out of your residence while it is being rebuilt or repaired.
  • Liability: Helps safeguard your assets and covers various legal defense expenses if you face a lawsuit because you or a family member caused damage or injuries to other people on or off your property.

Dedicate the necessary time and resources to learn about your current homeowners coverage – you’ll be glad you did. As an informed homeowner, you can review numerous coverage options and choose the right coverage based on your home’s location. Don’t forget to discuss your home insurance needs with an independent agent. With an insurance professional at your side, you can explore a wide range of coverage options and select a home insurance policy that will match or surpass your expectations.

  1. Find Out What’s Not Covered by a Home Insurance Policy

A standard homeowners policy is not always a surefire solution to all of your coverage needs. In fact, some of the weather-related problems that are not covered by a traditional homeowners policy include:

  • Earthquakes: If an individual requires earthquake coverage, he or she may need to purchase a supplemental insurance policy.
  • Floods: Flood insurance can be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers both home and personal property coverage if your home is damaged or destroyed due to flooding.
  • Hurricanes: In some instances, you may need to purchase additional flood and windstorm insurance to guarantee that you’re fully protected against hurricanes.
  • Mechanical Breakdown: If your car breaks down while you’re traveling to a new home in unfamiliar weather, mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is available to cover bad brakes, transmission issues and other major vehicle system malfunctions.
  • Tornadoes: Many tornadoes are accompanied by powerful winds that can damage fences and other structures on your property, but it is important to note that a standard homeowners policy only provides limited coverage for this type of property damage.
  • Water Damage: Hail and ice damage commonly are covered by home insurance, but water damage limits may vary.

When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you’re unsure if a weather-related issue is covered by your homeowners policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to an agent for extra assistance.

  1. Contact Your State Insurance Commissioner

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) helps state regulators protect the interests of insurance consumers, including those who are relocating to a new region of the country. This association also provides many valuable resources to help you discover the right home insurance policy based on your home’s location.

For instance, the NAIC offers a guide to shopping for homeowners insurance. This guide helps homeowners understand various declarations and basic insurance terms to ensure an individual can choose the ideal coverage.

You can always reach out to your state’s insurance commissioner to provide honest, unbiased recommendations about homeowners coverage, and can help you make sense of home insurance information that is not clear.

  1. Know the Cost of Home Insurance

What you’re paying for home insurance today may increase if you need to upgrade your homeowners coverage based on an upcoming move to a location with unfamiliar weather. Those who plan ahead for the increased cost of home insurance will ensure they can afford the coverage they need at a new location.

The Federal Reserve Board estimates the average homeowner spends between $300 and $1,300 per year on home insurance at an average coverage rate of $3.50 per $1,000, according to Zacks. At the same time, it is essential to note the cost of home insurance may increase based on a number of risks that extend beyond natural disasters. These include:

  • Attractive Nuisances: Swimming pools, trampolines and other “attractive nuisances” may force you to pay more than other homeowners for home insurance.
  • Proximity to a Fire Station: Those who live close to a fire station may be eligible for lower home insurance premiums than others.
  • Your Dog: Some insurance providers won’t offer full homeowners coverage if you own certain dog breeds.
  1. Shop Around for the Right Coverage

 If you’re moving to a location with unfamiliar weather and need to buy home insurance, why should you be forced to settle for subpar coverage? Instead, shop around for home insurance, and you can purchase the ideal coverage at the best possible price.

The right insurance company should boast plenty of industry experience, a proven reputation and best-in-class customer support. Plus, this insurance provider will employ friendly, knowledgeable professionals who are happy to respond to any home insurance queries.

No one should be forced to overspend to insure their home and personal belongings. But with the right insurance company at your disposal, you can minimize your risks without having to worry about breaking your budget.

Lastly, an independent insurance agent can help you obtain the optimal coverage based on your location. This insurance professional can teach you about assorted home insurance options and help you make informed coverage decisions.

Take the guesswork out of getting the homeowners coverage you need at a new location. By using these tips, you can move one step closer to acquiring the right coverage any time you choose.


Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, Content Warfare. Ryan has over 10 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.