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Pets and Home Sales: How to Keep One from Hampering the Other

October 11, 2013 6:09 pm

According to a recent report conducted by the American Humane Society, Americans own approximately 75 million dogs, 90 million cats, 16 million birds, 12 million reptiles and around 20 million small mammals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. While these numbers go a long way toward proving that people love animals, prospective buyers don’t often share that same love as they’re more interested in finding a clean, odor-free home.

While your pet may be gentle and loving around you and your family, when strangers enter into the equation, animals may not be as predictable. Dogs bark, cats scratch, snakes frighten people, birds squawk and most homes with pets generally have a distinct odor that’s often hard to mask. It’s also important for pet owners to take allergies into consideration when trying to sell their home. If someone with an allergy to a cat or rabbit enters your home and immediately starts sneezing, they’re going to want to leave fast, killing the chance of a sale.

If you’re in the process of preparing your home to be listed on the market, real estate agents will often advise that you find a new place for your animals to live while you go through the process. However, if you can’t bear the thought of being separated from the family pet, there are some practical things you can do to promote a clean, odor-free home when prospective buyers visit.

Most important is getting pets away from the house during showings. Take your pet to the park or an animal daycare facility, but never let them roam free in the house when you know prospective buyers will be dropping in. While you might think keeping a pet in the backyard or locked in a cage is a solution, this could work against you as it may scare people away—especially those with small children—and keep them from admiring the positive aspects of your home.

It’s also a good idea to try to remove any and all signs that a pet lives in the house. This means putting away food and water dishes, hiding the toys in a closet and making sure you clean out the litter box. You may even want to hide it in the garage as well.

If the carpet throughout your home is littered with pet stains, spend some money and bring in a professional cleaning company to get rid of these problem areas, as prospective buyers will most likely form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the home if they spot numerous pet stains.

While pet owners may have a hard time understanding that not everyone loves animals as much as they do, these strategies will go a long way toward ensuring that a pet doesn’t hamper your home sale.

For more information about preparing your home for sale when there’s a pet involved, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Flu Season Doesn't Have to Put a Damper on Home-Selling Process - Why a Contingency Plan is Your Best Bet

October 11, 2013 6:09 pm

With flu season right around the corner, it’s never too early to come up with a contingency plan should you become sick while your calendar is jam packed with home showings. While the first few days of the flu—or any other malady—are usually when you’re most likely to spread germs among others, the last thing you want is to be responsible for getting prospective buyers who have come to see your home sick.

It’s not just being contagious that you need to worry about either. You’ll also need to consider the level of stress involved with cleaning your home so that it’s ready to be shown, as well as the interruption to the rest you should be getting.

If you’re lying in bed with tissues all about and pots of soup on the stove and someone calls to see the house, racing around to clean everything up will put unneeded stress on top of an already stressful situation. In addition, not allowing yourself to get adequate rest may set the stage for getting even sicker, as your cold or flu may develop into bronchitis or even pneumonia. Therefore, it’s important to keep your health in mind, even when your home is on the market. And if you’re feeling under the weather, concentrate on getting yourself better rather than trying to wrap up a home sale.

While it’s not always possible to avoid getting sick during flu season, if you or someone in your family happen to come down with something this winter while your home’s on the market, the first thing you should do is alert your agent and let them know that you don’t want any showings for the next few days. This also means no phone calls, emails or texts so that you can fully focus on getting healthy.

It’s also important to not worry about missing an opportunity for a sale. Anyone truly interested in your home won’t mind having to reschedule.

Once you’re feeling better, don’t forget to give your home a thorough cleaning with disinfectant and remove any signs of illness (such as medicine bottles and tissues in the garbage) and create a nice, fresh-smelling and healthy environment.

For more information about setting up a home showing contingency plan as winter approaches, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Tips for Hiring a Reputable Moving Company

October 11, 2013 6:09 pm

Moving into a new home is the beginning of an exciting adventure. If you recently completed a home purchase—and have a move on the horizon—ensuring a smooth transition begins with doing your homework and choosing a reputable moving company to safely transport your belongings.

While it’s easy enough to use Google and find dozens of moving companies within your area, you shouldn’t take the hiring decision lightly. After all, we’re talking about all your possessions and you certainly don’t want to entrust them to a company that doesn’t have experience.

A great way to get recommendations? Talk to friends, co-workers and even your real estate agent. You should also look for reviews online and be sure to ask any moving company you may be considering for references.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to your top few choices, have a representative from each company visit your home and give you an estimate. This meeting provides a great opportunity to discuss your expectations and clarify what the moving company is ultimately responsible for transporting. The representative can also explain if there are any materials they’ll need to provide.

If you’re looking for a moving company to help transport items across state lines, the company should have a USDOT number, a unique license number issued by the United States Department of Transportation. This information can easily be found online.

You should also verify that the company is licensed and insured—again, information that can be easily accessed via the Internet. The ProtectYourMove.gov website also provides links to every state’s moving regulations, so be sure to check that out as well.

Another thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the cost. Be sure to keep in mind that the initial rate you were quoted may not reflect the final amount. Do your homework ahead of time by checking to see if gas is included, or if it’s an extra expense calculated once the move is complete. Also pay attention to when you’re planning to move, as weekends and holidays are often more expensive. You’ll also want to establish whether you’ll be paying by the pound or square footage and whether or not there are extra fees if the mover doesn’t arrive on time. When it comes to fees, everything should be worked out in the contract beforehand.

If you have fragile or valuable items that need to be transported to your new home, ask about insurance and replacement policies. And make sure the company you end up choosing is aware of any heavy or unwieldy items, as these ultimately affect the price. If you wait until the day of the move, it’ll be too late to do anything regarding any extra fees that may creep into the equation.

When it comes to hiring a moving company, it’s crucial that you don’t wait until the last minute to begin looking as many movers are often booked months in advance.

For more information about hiring a moving company, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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In this Edition: Updated Appliances

October 11, 2013 6:09 pm

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters, brought to you through our company's membership in RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), examines the importance of hiring a reputable moving company as you transition from your old space into your new digs. Other topics covered this month include how to tackle home showings during flu season and pros and cons associated with selling during the holidays. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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New Options in Radon Gas Monitoring Available Soon to U.S. Homeowners

October 11, 2013 3:03 am

There are epidemiological evidences that indoor radon exposure is responsible for a substantial number of lung cancers in the general population. In the U.S. alone, more than 20 thousand people die yearly from radon. About eight million homes throughout the nation have elevated levels of radon in indoor air.

It is estimated that up to 14 percent of lung cancers are attributed to radon gas radiation. Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking. Analyses indicate that the lung cancer risk increases proportionally with increasing radon exposure. As many people are exposed to low and moderate radon concentrations, the majority of lung cancers related to radon are caused by these radon exposure levels. This indicates that in countries where radon is found, most buildings should be monitored for radon as part of general preventive health care.

In most fields, technology has for long moved from the analogue to the digital age. Not so when it comes to radon gas monitoring technology. The traditional technology – track edge film – is still the most prevalent in the market. Many countries now demand more appropriate technologies for continuous radon monitoring in homes. This has inspired the Norwegian company Corentium AS to develop accurate and affordable digital monitoring devices. The development of the monitor Corentium model QRI is largely a response to the 2009 UN World Health Organization report “WHO” handbook on indoor radon. A public health perspective which provided detailed recommendations on reducing health risks from radon gas.

The Corentium enables homeowners to continuously monitor the indoor radon concentration– making radon gas diagnostics much easier. The Corentium monitor gives the possibility to read short term average values for 1 day and 7 days, and the long term average up to a year. The Canary is also ideal for a fast disclose of the effect of mitigation done by the homeowners themselves. That brings the solutions closer to the homeowners - increasing awareness and reducing costs.

The Corentium model QR' will soon be available through US resellers. To learn more about Corentium, visit http://www.corentium.com/us.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Winter Moving Tips and Tricks

October 11, 2013 3:03 am

With the Farmers’ Almanac predicting winter to be piercing, bitterly and biting cold, two-thirds of the country is bracing for a colder-than-normal season. Just the thought of having to move house in these conditions sends a shiver down the spine, but as the housing market is on the rebound and with Americans moving at least 8.2 times in their lifetime, the dreaded task of relocating is one that many will be faced with during this cold winter.

Here are some moving tips if you’re planning on moving during the coldest season of the year:

1. Pack items as usual with one caveat. Make sure any temperature sensitive items (plants, anything that can freeze, etc.) are well protected and kept from exposure. Most trucks are not temperature controlled so special care and thought should be given to protecting these items in transport if they will be in transit for long periods.

2. Dress appropriately. You'll be back and forth, in and out of cold weather, and probably breaking a sweat regardless. Wear layers that can be easily added or removed as your temperature fluctuates throughout the day.

3. Prepare for the elements. Icy sidewalks and steps, poor driving conditions and the elements in general can make moving a box across the street a challenging adventure. Be prepared with the proper attire and footwear, or even rock salt and sand to cover icy areas. And don't forget to put down mats by the door of your home to help reduce the dirt and snow tracked in.

4. Monitor and be flexible. Some natural events cannot be avoided – and an unexpected blizzard may force you to reschedule your move. Staying on top of the weather forecasts and staying in communication with your moving company (or moving help) will help you prepare for any last minute changes you might require, including rescheduling a move in advance.

5. Keep warmth within reach. Pack a separate box or bag of cold weather gear – including extra blankets and warm clothing. Make sure to have your car checked if you will be moving long distance so you can avoid any breakdowns in the frigid middle of nowhere. And make sure to contact all the utility companies to ensure you'll have properly functioning heat and hot water when you arrive at your new home. You don't want to spend your first night shivering.

6. Pack and organize extra early. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you will complete your move. Why spend more time outside than necessary?

Source: FlatRate Moving

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Buyers Value Environmentally Friendly Features

October 11, 2013 3:03 am

Homeowners frequently see their heating bills rise as fall begins and the weather cools. For this reason, homes with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features are often a priority to prospective buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly nine out of 10 recent homebuyers said that heating and cooling costs were somewhat or very important when considering a home for purchase.

“REALTORS® build communities and know that consumer demand for greener homes and features has grown considerably over the past several years. Going green has proven to be more than a trend; many people now seek out this way of living and want homes and communities that are more resource efficient and sensitive to the environment,” said NAR President Gary Thomas. “As energy savings and green building features are becoming more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, it comes as no surprise that consumers are placing a higher value on properties with those features.”

It’s easy to understand why homebuyers tend to favor greener houses; often the higher a home’s energy efficiency, the more money is potentially saved in monthly heating and cooling costs. NAR data show that features that directly affect monthly energy costs are important to buyers; thirty-nine percent of survey respondents reported that a home’s heating and cooling costs were very important when considering a home for purchase, followed by energy-efficient appliances and lighting, each at 24 percent. Landscaping for energy conservation and environmentally friendly community features were less important but were still a factor in the minds of home buyers; nearly half of buyers found these features very or somewhat important.

Regionally, buyers in the North and South placed a greater importance on heating and cooling costs, probably due to more extreme temperatures in those areas of the country. The survey also found that buyers who purchased more recently built homes placed greater importance on environmentally friendly features than buyers who purchased older homes; nearly 60 percent of buyers who bought homes built in 2011 said heating and cooling costs were very important, compared to less than thirty percent of buyers whose homes were built before 1910.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Reasons Investing in Outdoor Space Pays Off

October 10, 2013 3:00 am

Increasingly, homeowners around the nation are investing in their outdoor living space. In fact, the majority of homeowners surveyed by American Express revealed that they have plans to engage in some sort of home improvement project in the next year. The outdoor living and landscape sector has grown into a $60 billion per year industry, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Investing in outdoor living provides a good return on investment for most people, making it an ideal home improvement project.

“Many people are finding that they want to get back to spending more time outdoors,” explains Bob Dallas, the chief executive officer at UltraOutdoors.com. “People also want to put money into their home improvement projects where it is going to pay off. Outdoor living is a logical choice that fulfills both of these needs.”

Here are five reasons investing in outdoor space pays off:

1. Resale value. HGTV claims that homeowners recoup 65-90 percent just by adding a deck. Experts agree that investing in your outdoor living space will add to the value of your home. When you put money into this area, a lot of it will come back to you, when and if you decide to sell your home. Buyers will like the fact that your home includes nice outdoor living features and spaces.

2. Personal enjoyment. Most people could use a place to unwind and de-stress. Having a relaxing outdoor living space will create an environment where the family can relax together and enjoy each other’s company.

3. Save money. Consider how many times a family leaves home in order to seek out something that could have been in their backyard. This includes leaving to use a swimming pool or going to the park. Create the environment you are seeking in your own backyard, and save the gas and fees of taking your recreation elsewhere.

4. Entertaining opportunities. Having an ideal outdoor living space creates an oasis for entertaining. Whether hosting a holiday gathering, Friday night s’mores around a bonfire, or an outdoor picnic-style potluck, you will have a great place to pull it off.

5. Benefits of nature. There are mounds of research demonstrating the many benefits of spending more time outdoors. These include such things as reducing stress, improving mental clarity and mood, improving concentration, and more. Many people find that spending time outdoors is the cheapest form of therapy there is, and it’s good for all ages.

“The pay-off from investing in an outdoor living space comes in many forms,” added Dallas. “Not only is it good for the value of your home, but it’s a solid investment for creating great recreation and entertainment spaces, and giving your family a relaxing area where they can re-charge their batteries.”

There are many outdoor living options to choose from, including outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, pools and water features, patios and decks, gazebos, sitting areas, and landscaping. The key to having the outdoor oasis that fits your needs is to work with a professional to design a custom plan.

Source: www.UltraOutdoors.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips on Mold Pricing

October 10, 2013 3:00 am

Home and business owners often do their best to prepare for the inherent dangers that come along with being a property owner. Dangers like home or office security, fire damage, severe storms, and water damage are on the short list of what keeps a property owner up at night. While these hazards can prove to be extremely costly and dangerous, a silent threat that is often forgotten about can be just as detrimental to the wallet and to the health of a property's inhabitants. This silent threat is simply known as mold.

Mold growth is actually a necessary part of the everyday environment as spores can often be found both indoors and outdoors. However, when toxic mold spore counts are elevated inside the home or business, indoor air quality can negatively affect the health of families, colleagues and customers respectively. Also, the physical toll mold growth takes on the structural integrity of a property can be catastrophic.
Needless to say, removal of the toxic fungus must be done immediately in a safe, effective way. Property owners often do not take mold remediation into account when budgeting for repairs. Oftentimes, home and business owners look for the least expensive option when shopping for a remediation specialist.

Value of mold remediation depends on a variety of factors. First, it is important to understand how mold behaves and how the colony can spread throughout the home or business. Whenever mold is attacked, it sends its spores into the air to find a suitable replacement area to regrow the colony. Therefore, if a general contractor without the proper equipment or insurance simply cuts away areas affected by mold without treating it properly, cross contamination will occur as spores populate other areas of the property.

Mold spores can regenerate a colony whether they are dead or alive. Valuable residential and commercial mold remediation pricing includes:

• Containment of the affected area
• Removal and safe disposal of mold affected materials (eg. drywall, carpet, padding, wood, etc.)
• Scrubbing of support beams and concrete with brushes and EPA-approved biowashes
• Eradication and removal of live and dead spores with a HEPA filter vacuum

Along with these general practices, which provide a level of safety and efficiency necessary to mitigate mold, technicians should also wear Personal Protective Equipment, maintain proper insurance and bonding, and complete training and certification. These practices will ensure the safety and health of the technicians and the property inhabitants who are counting on dependable mold removal.

Cheap mold restoration does not provide true value. While initial costs may be less by choosing an uninsured, uncertified contractor who does not follow the mold removal guidelines listed above, costs will increase exponentially in the long run when spores contaminate other areas of the home or business.

Source: SI Restoration

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners Excited About Remodeling Again

October 10, 2013 3:00 am

Planese, Inc. announced that homeowners across the country are now willing to spend 30 percent of the value of their home when they remodel; remodeling expense as a percentage of home value has been trending upward since 2007. Consumers also plan to use materials that are more expensive and spend an average of $102,000 to improve their homes.

These findings are part of the Fall 2013 Remodeling Sentiment Report, a forward-looking report based on data from the Planese and remodelormove.com survey of homeowners nationwide that analyzes and documents trends in the home improvement industry. Planese compared the responses of today's homeowners throughout the nation against the findings reported both during the recession in 2010 and at the height of the remodeling boom in 2007.

"The wealth effect is taking hold; consumers are spending again, which bodes well for the entire home improvement industry," said Dan Fritschen, CEO and co-founder of Planese, Inc. "More people are feeling secure enough during this economic environment that they are remodeling. It's no longer the most affluent; we are at the beginning of a multi-year trend."

More homeowners (74 percent) plan to hire a general contractor, which is up significantly from the 64 percent reported in 2010 and 2007. The percentage of people who plan to engage an architect (56 percent) has bounced back from the low of 47 percent in 2010 during the recession. As the scope of projects increases, so does the need for an architect.

The projects planned are larger; the average number of rooms to remodel is four. Homeowners are more likely to remodel a kitchen (55 percent), which tends to be expensive and often is a discretionary expenditure, than a bathroom (48 percent), which is often viewed as a necessity.

The survey also found that homeowners are less likely to do any of the work themselves. Today, 43 percent plans to do none of the remodeling work themselves as compared to 36 percent in both 2010 and 2007. In addition, more homeowners say they will use expensive materials when they remodel (17 percent) today, as compared to 9 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2007.

Survey Results:

Cost to remodel /home value
2007 – 25 percent
2010 – 28 percent
2013 – 30 percent

Plan to perform none of the work
2007 – 36 percent
2010 – 36 percent
2013 – 43 percent

Plan to use a general contractor
2007 – 64 percent
2010 – 64 percent
2013 – 74 percent

Plan to hire an architect
2007 – 54 percent
2010 – 47 percent
2013 – 56 percent

Plan to use expensive materials
2007 – 9 percent
2010 – 10 percent
2013 – 17 percent

Plan to add a bathroom
2007 – 52 percent
2010 – 53 percent
2013 – 48 percent

Plan to remodel a kitchen
2007 – 57 percent
2010 – 48 percent
2013 – 55 percent

Source: http://www.planese.com/

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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