Buyer and Seller Tips

    • Boost Your Home’s Value With These Low-Cost Ideas

      29 November 2022

      Your home is likely the largest investment you’ve made in your life and, as such, should be carefully guarded and nurtured to increase in value over time. That means enhancing your home to continually build equity and ensure maximum market value.

      But not everyone has the funds to go all-out on a kitchen re-do or tack on an addition. Fortunately, there are many more affordable ways to improve your home and add to it’s value. Consider one of these suggestions from Real Simple and the experts at Zillow and Houzz.

      Paint the bathroom light blue. Believe it or not, the right paint colors in certain areas of your home are known to increase the sales price. Light blue paint in the bathroom is one of them. Perhaps a reflection of the need for tranquility during pandemic times, homes with light blue bathrooms can fetch nearly $5,000 more when it comes time to sell, according to a paint-color analysis from Zillow.

      Install a touchless kitchen faucet. If you’re a bit handy, you won’t even need to hire a pro to install a new kitchen faucet, and going with a touchless variety may gain you a 0.6 percent increase on your home’s sale price. The touchless faucet is a sign of the increasing popularity of smart home features, not to mention the increased attention on germ-free living. 

      Upgrade your lighting. Good lighting can indeed present your home in a whole new light. Replacing dated fixtures with dimmer switches will help show the many moods of your home and help enhance its positive features. Want to sell your home more quickly? Install a pendant light in the kitchen, says Zillow.

      Declutter your space. This particular endeavor won’t cost you much more than sweat equity but will go a long way in improving the value of your home. Homebuyers covet space, so streamlining your closets, cabinets and living areas by getting rid of unnecessary belongings will work wonders in selling your home for the best possible price. Your organized home will feel larger and more manageable to would-be owners and therefore, more attractive. With that in mind, the investment in an organizing pro may be well worth it.

      Extend your living space outside. No longer just a nice-to-have, outdoor areas are now considered an extension of a home’s living space. With that in mind, make sure your yard, patio or deck are both functional and inviting. Invest in engaging outdoor lighting, comfortable furniture and a cozy eating area where family and friends can gather. Setting the right outdoor scene can surely give your home’s value a boost. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Financial Guidelines Every Working Adult Should Know

      29 November 2022

      While situations vary and there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules for managing money, there are sensible guidelines for spending and saving that have long stood the test of time. Here are five basic financial guidelines consumer advisors recommend.

      • 50/30/20 for Budgeting - Perhaps the oldest but still relevant rule for budgeting is that of 50/30/20; that is, 50% for necessities like housing, food and bills, 30% for discretionary spending on vacations, dining out and entertainment, and 20% for paying off debt, saving for retirement and other financial goals.
      • The 10% Retirement Rule - Saving 10% of gross income for retirement has long been the gold standard. But at the current rate of inflation, and given that people are living longer, saving 20% for your golden years may be wiser.
      • The Six-Month Rule for Emergencies - Job loss, unexpected expenses and all sorts of other emergencies can upend anyone’s life. That’s why it’s important to have six months’ worth of expenses in a readily accessible account.
      • The 20% Rule for Buying a Home - While there are many ways to finance a home with less of a down payment, sticking to the traditional 20% down payment guideline will not only increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage, but can significantly lower your monthly payment.
      • The 20/4/10 Rule for Buying a New Car - Buying a used car makes good financial sense. But if you purchase a new car, be prepared to put at least 20% down, finance it for four years to incur little or no interest and allocate no more than 10% of your income on your car payment. For maximum value, plan to drive it for 10 years or more.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 10 Hostess Gifts That Are Sure to Delight

      29 November 2022

      If you’re looking to expand your hostess gift-giving beyond a bottle of wine, many thoughtful alternatives will delight your host. From cooking accessories to self-care products, a gift that speaks to your host’s interests shows an additional level of appreciation. If you need some inspiration for hostess gifts that delight, read on for a curated list.

      Cocktail Recipe Book
      A cocktail recipe will keep your host’s cocktail repertoire feeling fresh and adventurous. While she may have many favorite cookbooks, a cocktail recipe book is a fun alternative to experiment with at home.

      Kitchen Towels
      Everyone could use a refreshed set of kitchen towels. In addition, purchase a set for your hostess that coordinates with her kitchen to show your attention to detail.

      Gourmet Sea Salts and a Salt Cellar
      While sea salt is a staple in most kitchens, gourmet sea salts aren’t as common. Whether it’s truffle salt or various exotic salts, every home chef will love something new to spice up their cooking. Additionally, a salt cellar can be a beautiful yet understated accent that can functionally hold the salt and add an aesthetic touch to any counter

      Balsamic Vinegar and Cruet
      Visit your specialty spice store for gourmet balsamic vinegar and a cruet to store and dispense the vinegar. Cooking with an elevated ingredient and distributing it through an elevated vessel makes the entire cooking experience feel more special.

      Olive Oil, Cruet and Dishes
      Like balsamic vinegar, a specialty olive oil and cruet will elevate your host’s cooking experience at home. A set of dipping dishes is the perfect complement to a specialty olive oil and can be used for the next gathering.

      Charcuterie Board and Accessories
      A charcuterie board and cheese knives are the perfect gifts for the hostess who loves to entertain. Including your favorite cheeses, meats and crackers will make the gift feel extra personal.

      Luxurious Laundry Detergent
      A luxurious laundry detergent set, such as one from The Laundress, will make the most mundane task feel like a luxury experience. Gifting someone with a luxe version of their basic essential is always sure to please.

      Beautiful Coasters
      Coasters are always appreciated and used. A set of coasters in a luxe material like marble or agate will elevate every beverage experience.

      Gorgeous Teapot
      After the dishes have been washed and the counters have been cleaned, your hostess may need some time to wind down before heading to bed. A beautiful teapot is a perfect accessory to begin this wind-down routine. The experience of brewing a cup of tea using luxe accessories makes the whole process feel extra special.

      Potted Herbs
      Gifting potted herbs is the gift that keeps on giving. Unlike a flower arrangement with a shorter shelf life, potted herbs can last for an extensive amount of time and add flavor to nearly every dish. Every time your hostess cooks with the herbs, she can think of your generosity.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 10 Tips for Using a Generator Safely

      28 November 2022

      Whether it’s a hurricane, blizzard, Nor’easter or another variety of weather event, losing power for an extended period of time is not just an inconvenience—it can put your family’s well-being at risk.

      In light of this, many homeowners have opted to invest in a portable generator, a more affordable option than the whole-house variety. While a welcome addition to your home and emergency preparedness plan, a generator must be used properly in order to avoid risk. Be sure to keep the following ten tips in mind for safely operating a generator, courtesy of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). 

      1. Get to know your generator before you use it. Make sure your equipment is in good working order before starting it up. Do this well before a storm hits so that you are safely prepared for when you lose power.
      2. Thoroughly review the directions. Be sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions and review the owner’s manuals so that the equipment is operated safely. If you’ve misplaced your manual, you can probably find it online.
      3. Install a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in your home. This alarm will sound if it detects dangerous levels of carbon monoxide within your home. 
      4. Have the right fuel on hand. Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer. According to OPEI, it is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment. While fresh fuel is always the best option, if you have to use fuel that’s been sitting in a gas can for more than 30 days, add fuel stabilizer to it. Store gas only in an approved container and away from heat sources.
      5. Ensure portable generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home, building or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to drift indoors.
      6. Keep the generator dry. Do not use a generator in wet conditions. Cover and vent a generator. Model-specific tents or generator covers can be found online for purchase and at home centers and hardware stores.
      7. Only add fuel to a cool generator. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
      8. Plug in safely. If you don’t yet have a transfer switch, you can use the outlets on the generator. It’s best to plug in appliances directly to the generator. If you must use an extension cord, it should be heavy-duty and designed for outdoor use. Make sure the cord is free of cuts, and the plug has all three prongs.
      9. Install a transfer switch. A transfer switch connects the generator to the circuit panel and lets you power hardwired appliances. Most transfer switches also help avoid overload by displaying wattage usage levels.
      10. Do not use the generator to “backfeed” power into your home electrical system. Trying to power your home’s electrical wiring by “backfeeding” – where you plug the generator into a wall outlet – is dangerous. You could hurt utility workers and neighbors served by the same transformer. Backfeeding bypasses built-in circuit protection devices, so you could damage your electronics or start an electrical fire.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 6 Ways to Tackle Termites

      28 November 2022

      Responsible for more than $5 billion worth of damage per year in the U.S., termites can quickly wreak havoc on your home. With the ability to feast on wood and other food sources 24 hours a day, it doesn’t take long for a small problem to turn into an infestation.  

      To make matters worse, structural damage due to termites is rarely covered by homeowners insurance. That’s why taking preventative measures is essential to protecting your home and your budget. Here are some tips for staving off a termite issue before it becomes a costly crisis:

      Be on the look-out. Termites aren't always easy to spot, as they are similar to the size of a pavement ant and pale in color. When looking around your home, keep an eye out for the telltale signs, such as mud tunnels coming up the slab or piers of your home or “pinholes” in the sheetrock or paneling. 

      Get rid of cardboard. If you've just moved in or have many deliveries a day, it's important to get rid of cardboard as soon as possible as termites love to chew on boxes. When it comes to storing items, choose plastic bins instead.

      Keep things tidy inside and out. Many homeowners make the mistake of leaving debris, such as leaves and soil build-up, around the base of the home. This serves as food for termites, so be sure to remove dead trees and stumps, consider a mulch alternative and remove piles of clutter inside, such as books, newspapers and magazines, which also serve as food for termites.

      Check the wood around your house. Take the time to check the wooden beams and exposed wood (including furniture) around your house. Press your thumb or fingers against exposed wood and if the wood crumbles, you probably have termites. If you catch it early, you can get rid of termites and stop the damage.

      Reduce moisture. Keep a watchful eye on your air conditioner or leaky pipes that could moisten the wood around them, inviting termites in for a meal. Fix any broken roof tiles that may allow in moisture, and ensure proper ventilation to reduce humidity and moisture levels.

      Have an annual inspection. One of the best ways to have peace of mind, and catch an infestation early, is to have an annual inspection by a pest management professional. Look for a termite warranty as well, which may cover any future damage and repairs due to termites.

      Source: Erlich Pest Control

      Published with permission from RISMedia.