Real Estate Tips: Unwanted Party Guest?

Backyard Birthday Party  
Summer time is a great time to invite friends over for backyard parties. However, many of us have unwanted guest that regularly attend these parties…mosquitoes. Below is a list of some things to help keep the guest away. 

mosquito warning

1) Prevention – Mosquitoes begin their lives in water. Walk around your home and look for standing water. All it takes is a bottle cap full of water to welcome mosquitoes to your home. 

2) Lemongrass – A mature Lemongrass plant can help keep these unwanted guests away. You must trim the top and plant it in a clear container of water. 
lemongrass likes sun so place it in a windowsill that gets plenty of sun. Once the roots have been developed, you can transplant the plant outdoors. 

3) Citronella & a Wine Bottle – Mosquitoes do not like the smell of citronella. Here is a way to use old wine bottles & citronella to keep them away.
– 1 empty and clean wine bottle
– 1 Tiki torch wick refill (thick)
– 3/8″ diameter metal washer (or adjust for size of openings)

     Feed the wick through the openings of the washer. Try leaving about 1/4″ of     the wick sticking out of the top for a snug fit. Make sure there aren’t any gaps between the washer and the wick. This may cause the bottle to fill up with smoke.

     Pour the oil into the bottle to cover half of the wick. Feed the longer side of the wick into the bottle. Light the top wick and enjoy the smell. 

4) Maintenance spray – Many local business have a mosquito sprays. The company comes out once a month for 4-5 months and sprays bushes and small trees around your home. From experience, this treatment does help. 


Real Estate Tips: Kid Friendly Spring Cleaning

kids cleaning house
It’s time for spring cleaning! Make it a family affair and get the family involved. Here are a few cleaning tips for different age groups.

2-4 years old 
  • Dust- windowsills
  • Dust- baseboards
  • Help feed pets
  • Sweep (with supervision)
  • Clean up toys
  • Check under tables, beds and furniture for items that don’t belong

5-8 year old
  • Everything listed under 2-4 years old
  • Load and unload the dishwasher
  • Dust- table tops & furniture
  • Clean the windows
  • Help with groceries 
  • Set the table
  • Clear the table
  • Make beds
  • Hang up clothes
9-12 years old
  • Everything listed from 8 & under
  • Clean bathroom
  • Help with laundry- run washer & dryer
  • Fold clothes
  • Wash dishes
  • Take out the trash
  • Rake leaves 
  • Walk pets
13-17 years old
  • Everything listed for 12 & under
  • Vacuum and/or mop floors
  • Help prepare meals
  • Change bed linens



Real Estate Tips: Take Your Window Screens for a Swim

cleaning-window-screensApril is the month to start talking about spring which also means spring cleaning. One of the hardest things to clean is window screens. Here is a tip to help get the job done. Children can help you with this as well. 

To get started, you will need the following items…
  • Kiddie pool
  • Water & water hose
  • Dish soap
  • Soft bristle broom
First, fill the kiddie pool with water and a few squirts of dish soap. Grab the broom and swish the water around to create a foam on the water.

Place all screens in the pool and let them soak for a few minutes (5 minutes max). 

Once the screens are finished soaking, swish them back and fourth. You can use the broom to assist you in this. Repeat for both sides.

Now that both sides are cleaned, take the screen out and rinse with a hose to remove all soap. Then, lay screens out to dry before putting back in windows. 


*If you would like to clean your screens on a weekly basis, use your vacuum cleaner by running the hose up and down the screen very lightly. Don’t push too hard or it could cause stretching.

Real Estate Tips: Home Grown

basic-vegetable-garden-design
March is the ideal month to get your garden started. Whether you dream of a lush herb garden or vegetable garden, now is the time. Below is a list of some vegetables and herbs to get your garden started. 

First you must get the soil ready. For most, you can simply start by mixing in compost. However, if you are planning for a large garden, getting your soil tested is the best way to start. 

These veggies can be planted in March and can withstand the last frost days.
Beets
Cabbage
Cucumbers
Onions
Peppers
Spinach

Grow these veggies/herbs indoors first, before transplanting outdoors.
Tomatoes
Peppers
Herbs: basil, oregano, thyme and sage

Real Estate Tips: Out With The Mold…

carpet…And in with the new! February can be know as a wet month, whether due to rain or snow, and this means it’s the perfect time for mold. Below is a list of some things you can do around the house to keep the mold at bay.

  • Have your carpets professionally cleaned and vacuum regularly. This helps you remove sources that are likely to come in contact with moisture. 
  • Get some fresh air. Open the windows. By doing this, you help give mold an exit and reduce the trapped moisture that can attract mold in the future.
  • Turn up the heat. Condensation is bad for your home. So if you notice that it is forming, bring those rooms to a warmer temperature so the the water vapor in the air doesn’t change to the liquid state.
  • Change your shower curtain. This will help eliminate unhealthy mold and mildew that contribute to mold problems in the shower and tub. Try to air out the shower and/or wipe down the walls before leaving the bathroom. 

Real Estate Tips: Let’s Get Organized!

Organized-mail-center
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If not, maybe we can help. Lets try to get organized this year. Below are a few tips to help you focus on your home and organization skills.

Mail call –  Most of us are guilty of getting the mail and tossing it on the counter where it piles up. It’s time to get your mail organized. Each day, toss junk mail straight into the trash or recycling bin and keep all bills and reading material in a separate area to help keep this situation under control. 

Stress list – Do you have so much to do to your home and don’t know where to begin? Start a list. Write down all the items and/or areas of your home that cause you stress. Then one by one, tackle the list until you’re finished. You will feel less overwhelmed and a great sense of accomplishment.

Five-minute rule – Have everyone in your household spend five minutes picking up toys, clothes, etc…before bedtime to help keep your home looking tidy. This will also free up some time for you.

Your Needs vs Your Wants When Searching for Your Dream Home


12.5.14 Wants vs Needs
Ready to move and excited about the prospect of getting “everything you ever wanted” in a home? Of course, that’s where we all start, but budget and other realities soon factor in.

So how do you make your dreams come true without breaking the bank?

The key is setting a realistic budget – and understanding the difference between what you want and what you need.

Start by sharing the information below with your Allen Tate Realtor to help determine what you can afford, your preferred location, home size – and what your expectations are.

  • Budget – Get pre-qualified now to determine what monthly mortgage payment you can afford and loan amount you qualify for.
  • Location – Do you want to be close to work and/or school? In urban, suburban or rural area?
  • Size and type of home – How many bedrooms, baths, etc. Single family, townhome or condo?
  • Condition of home – Are you looking for a fixer-upper, new construction or an existing home in top condition?

The next step is to create is a simple list regarding the amenities you want. This exercise will help you and your Realtor set priorities:

  • Don’t Want
  • Like
  • Need
  • Must-Haves

Be sure to include everything you’ve ever dreamed about – maybe granite kitchen countertops, a wood-burning fireplace, a three-car garage, a four-person whirlpool, the best school district in the city and other features. Then decide where these amenities belong on the list. Also include the deal breakers – a two-story home, corner lot, busy street, etc.

By prioritizing the amenities on your list, you and your agent will get a clear picture of what you might be willing to trade off for the right location.

By helping your agent play matchmaker between you and your next home, you’ll hopefully find the home with what’s most important to you – and a few pleasant surprises as well.

phyllis_brookshire2
Phyllis Brookshire
President, Allen Tate Realtors®

Real Estate Tips: Does a Learners’ Permit Require Auto Insurance?

 

(Whether Parents Should Add Student Drivers to their Insurance Policy)

 

Your child just got her learners’ permit.  Uh oh!  Besides the obvious worry about safety issues, the pushing your foot into the floor on the passenger’s side to step on an imaginary brake, and the holding on for dear life while she’s putting in her practice time, have you thought about the issue of insurance?  Do you know what is required when your little munchkin gets behind the wheel?  States and insurance companies do differ, so take heed. In the vast majority of states, all drivers need to carry some form of financial responsibility and be able to prove it, in order to buy a car, register a car, or respond to a police officer if you are pulled over for a traffic violation or if you have an accident.  Where insurance is required for licensed drivers, a young driver without a license must also have insurance.  Typically, but not in all cases, a teen driver with a permit can get away with being covered on her parents’ auto insurance policy, and there is usually no extra charge until she gets her license.  A driver with a learners’ permit must have an adult in the car at all times; this is usually a parent who owns the car and thus, carries the insurance on it.  Check with your insurance agent for the company’s procedure on including a young driver with a permit on the parents’ policy.  State law also comes into play. Most states will not require that a beginning driver with a learner’s permit have his or her own insurance. In those cases, however, the car being used must be insured; it can be insured under another person’s policy, but it must carry the mandatory minimum amount of insurance. The policyholder might be required by law to formally notify the insurance company that there is a driver with a learners’ permit driving the car. Notifying the insurance company should be done regardless of state laws or policy stipulations. Normally in these circumstances, the driver-in-training will not be officially listed under the parents’ insurance policy, but they will still be covered should anything happen while they are driving.  That is not to say that learners’ permit insurance does not exist. Insurance specifically for those with learners’ permits is sold. It is just not usually necessary. Ask your auto insurance provider for the rules in your state and you can search online to find quotes if such insurance is required.  Note that if your child is taking lessons with a driving school, he or she will be covered under the driving school’s insurance policy while driving the school’s car.  That coverage does not extend to your child driving any other vehicle, however. ***If your child makes A’s & B’s, and has taken a drivers safety course, you may be entitled to additional savings under your auto insurance policy!  Make sure to advise your insurance company if your child qualifies and they will usually request a copy of their most recent report card and a drivers’ training certificate and they will add these discounts right away! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!!  The Lee Ann Miller Team

Real Estate Market: The Spring Market Recovery

It is looking like the long-awaited real estate recovery has taken off!  While the past few years have presented a few challenges to sellers and buyers alike, 2012 has come out of the blocks very strong – exceeding our expectations.  According to the January report from the Carolina MLS service which serves Charlotte and the surrounding counties, the MLS closed transactions increased 9.2% January 2012 as compared with January 2011.  However, the Allen Tate Company Charlotte region closed sales increased 21.7% – our growth is more than double the overall market growth!  What does that mean for buyers and sellers?  Great news on both fronts.  For buyers, you should be feeling more confident that the economic rebound we have seen in the past six months provides job security.  You also should be pleased with the incredibly low rates for qualified buyers – hovering around 3.25% for 15-year fixed and 3.75% for a 30-year FHA loan.  If you plan to be in the house for a shorter period, 5/1 ARMs are near 2.5%.  And that’s BEFORE the tax benefits for mortgage interest deductions!  For sellers, you are seeing more buyers in the market as indicated by the increase in sales activity.  Properties placed under contract so far in 2012 is nearly 60% above 2011 numbers.  This is a very strong signal that the housing recovery is here.  A word of caution – there is quite a bit of “shadow inventory” that comes in two forms.  The reported foreclosure inventory has yet to be consumed by today’s buyers.  Additionally, many non-distressed sellers who chose to wait for the recovery may now test the market again.  As this inventory enters the market, it is not likely that we will see appreciation for the short-term.  If you are interested in what the market is like in your neighborhood, call The Lee Ann Miller Team or visit our website at LeeAnnMiller.com.  If you use our TateMap Interactive Search function, you can see what the houses in your market are listed for as well as two years of recent sales activity.  

Happy Holidays 2011