Real Estate Tips: Preparing Your Yard for Winter

Autumn-Leaves-Blowing 2015 The weather is turning colder and the days are getting shorter which means winter is on the way. So you can pack up those gardening tools until next spring, right?…Wrong! You can save yourself some time in the yard next spring if you do a few maintenance tips now.

1) Stay on top of the falling leaves. Leaves can smother your grass and to keep your lawn looking nice either rake leaves regularly or mow. If you decide to mow, make sure you use a bag to collect the clippings & shredded leaves which you can use for your garden or landscape beds.

2) Prune rose canes back to knee height, mound the base with fresh compost (about 12 inches) and cover the rosebush with shredded leaves. This will help protect the bush & roots during the colder months.

3) Mulch landscaping beds with chopped leaves or pine needles. Again, this is extra protection and helps reduce the effects of extreme temperature changes.

4) Plant spring bulbs now and your yard will come alive next spring. Examples of spring bulbs to plant are tulips, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinth to name a few.

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Real Estate Tips: Fire Safety Month- Are You Prepared?

fire

October is Fire Safety Month!!!

    These simple tips could prevent a home fire  
  • Change your smoke detector batteries at least once a year. A good rule of thumb when you set your clocks back in the fall, change your batteries. Check to make sure the alarm works after replacing the batteries by pushing the test button.
  •  Vacuum your smoke detectors at least once a month.
  • Keep a flashlight by your bed and check it at least once a month to make sure it is working properly. Also keep one near your child’s bed  and check that one as well.
  •  Check your fire extinguisher annually if you do not have one you can get them for less than $30.00. You will want an all-purpose one and make sure it has classes A, B & C listed on it. They do expire after a time so when it gets close to the expiration date you will need to toss it and get a new one. You want to have at least 2 available one in the kitchen is essential!
  •  Create at least 2 escape routes and practice them with your family. If you have a multi-story home you want to get a portable ladder. Children get confused during fires and can get disoriented from the smoke so you want to practice with them.
  Statistics  
  • Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires causing 36% of home fires in the US during the months of December through February.
  •  Kitchen fires comprise 34% of home fires
  •  74% of reported home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms
  •  Children age 5 and under and the elderly are the most likely to die from home fire
   Fireplaces & Space Heaters          
  • If your home has a fireplace you want to have it inspected and cleaned annually by a licensed professional. This can cost you around $175-$200 for a cleaning and inspection.
  •  If you use a portable heater – it must be at least 36 inches away from ANYTHING that can burn. If it is an electric space heater check it when you bring it out in the winter for fraying or splitting wires. If the wires are damaged toss the unit and get a new one.
   Dryers and Dryer Vents  
  • Check your dryer vent at least once every 3 months and remove built up lint
  •  Clean lint from the lint filter every time you use your dryer
  •  If you have a plastic dryer hose replace it with a flexible metal one
  •  Do not use your dryer when you are not at home
 

Real Estate News: TWO Ways East Lincoln Fire Department Substation Could Help Homeowners

There’s good news and maybe some not-so-good news for hundreds of homeowners in the East Lincoln Fire District.   The good news is that the fire department will open a substation in a rented facility on Commerce Drive near SmithStone. Which will shorten the emergency response time in that area, and hopefully head off huge insurance rate hikes that homeowners faced beginning this fall. The fire department notified county officials recently that 352 homes did not fall within the five-mile distance requirement to receive a Class 5 insurance rating. That meant their rating could jump to a Class 9, resulting in increases between 30-70 percent, according to county manager George Wood.   The bad news is that the department has to get a loan from the county to pay expenses for the new substation for the remainder of the fiscal year, and will seek a district-wide tax increase next year to operate the substation. The department currently has tax revenues of $1.37 million, but would need an additional $75,000 beginning next year to cover the substation. That would mean taxpayers would see an increase in their tax rate from 6.8 cents per $100 valuation to 7.17 cents.   The county manager, George Wood, stated that none of the rules have changed, but “insurers are now being told by the state that they must write the policy based upon the actual travel distance requirement. That is what created this issue.” “We didn’t know this was coming until a week and a half ago,” said fire marshal Mike Futrell. “ELVFD has been looking to purchase land for its second station and this would correct the problem, but cannot happen fast enough to avoid these higher premiums,” Wood stated to commissioners. Wood’s recommendation for the loan and the new substation was approved by the board upon a motion made by Commissioner Carl Robinson Jr. of Denver.   Source: News@Norman

Real Estae Market: Where House Prices Will Be in the Spring of 2012

Disclaimer: This blog covers the national housing market as a whole. Please check with a local real estate professional to discover how the following information will impact your region. – The KCM Crew Many sellers want to wait until the spring before putting their home on the market. This might be for any of several reasons:
  1. They don’t want to be inconvenienced during the holiday season.
  2. They believe that they will see more potential buyers and as a result will get a higher price.
  3. In the northern part of the country, they might not want people walking through the snow and then into their house.
  4. All of the above
In a normal real estate market, this may make sense. However, this market has been anything but normal. This spring will also see some abnormalities. The biggest difference will be the direction prices will take.  In years past, the spring market would favor the seller because increased demand would outpace any increase in supply: the number of houses coming onto the market would not be as great as the number of buyers newly entering the market. In most situations, when demand is greater than supply, prices increase. The reason this spring will be different is that the supply of homes coming to the market will be dramatically impacted by foreclosure properties being released by the banks. Many believe this increase in inventory will far outweigh buyer demand. In situations where supply is greater than demand, prices decrease.

Will This Actually Happen? 

RealtyTrac, in their latest foreclosure report, explained:
“U.S. foreclosure activity has been mired down  since October of last year, when the robo-signing controversy sparked a flurry  of investigations into lender foreclosure procedures and paperwork. While foreclosure activity in  September and the third quarter continued to register well below levels from a  year ago, there is evidence that this temporary downward trend is about to  change direction, with foreclosure activity slowly beginning to ramp back up.
This will impact prices.

What Do Experts Believe the Impact Will Be?

Here are the pricing projections by several major entities:
  • Zillow believes we will not see a bottom in prices until the first quarter of 2012.
  • Standard & Poors thinks prices will drop %5 in the next few months. 
  • JP Morgan Chase believes prices will depreciate 6 to 7% over the next six months.
  •  Barclays says prices will fall 7% by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

Bottom Line

You may pay a hefty price for the convenience of not having your property on the market right now. Source: KMC Blog

Real Estate Tips: Home Repairs or Remodeling in Your Future?

If the answer is yes, then here are some great questions to ask your contractor to insure a successful project.
  • Is a building permit required for this work? Do I need to obtain one or will you?
  • Have you detailed the scope of the project and all anticipated costs as part of my written bid?
  • Have you included written specifics about the type of lumber and materials that will be used in my project?
  • Will my project impact any underground utilities, i.e. telephone, cable or gas lines? If so, will you take care of locating them?
  • Where will my construction materials be stored during the project?
  • Who is responsible for clean-up during or after the project is completed?
  • What deposit is expected prior to the start of the project?
  • Will any materials be delivered early? If so, we you be there for the placement of the materials?
  • Will you provide me with written information about your contractor’s license, general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance?
  • Will you provide me with business references (suppliers, code officials, etc…) and current, recent and past (2+ years) customer references for projects similar to mine?
  • Do you offer a warranty on your services? If so, will you provide me written information about the warranty and for how long it’s covered?

REAL ESTATE: Appraisal Changes Effective September 1st

 Today is the official day that Appraisers must begin using the new forms, codes and standards required under the new Uniform Appraisal Delivery standards set by FHFA(Federal Housing Finance Agency),  FNMA, Freddie and the GSE’s.   What will this mean for us? Quick view of Changes
  • The quality and condition rating system is new
  • A whole new set of standardized abbreviations
  • Standardized date formatting
  • Appraiser must report separately on kitchens and baths
  • Location and views are never average anymore – each must be defined based on a drop list
  • Listing history (if listed within the past year) must be broken down for each change along the way
  • Days on market must be disclosed for all sales and subject if a purchase
  • Each sale now must be more clearly defines as an arm’s length, REO, Relocation, Short etc.
  • Treatment of bathrooms counts have changed
 In addition, we will need to understand that as Appraiser’s and Lender’s get used to the new codes and requirements that there will be possible delays in Appraiser’s turn-times, along with requests for the information to be correctly noted by Lenders.   As with any change, there is going to be an adjustment period, which we want to make sure everyone understands.  In the end, we will have more uniformity, which may lead to better overall appraisals and some information that agents can use with sellers to help them better understand their property condition in general.

Real Estate: Weather The STORM

Summer storms are here, and no matter the age of your home or your location, there are steps you can and should take to protect your home from thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash flooding and hail. Evaluate your roof Shingles, gabled roofs and other roof materials and types can be retrofitted with trusses, sheathing and other solutions to help strengthen against hurricane winds and heavy rain. Reinforce doors, windows and shutters Head- and foot-bolted doors, impact-resistant windows and specially manufactured shutters help limit storm damage. Ask your local hardware store for advice on products that fit the needs of weather risks in your area. Check for leaks Heavy rain can make a slow leak a big problem – fast. Inspect plumbing water lines for leaks, damage or corrosion, and make sure you know where your shut-off valves for the main water supply are located in the event of an emergency. Make a family plan Designate a safe meeting spot, away from windows and on the bottom floor, and stock it with a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food, water, flashlights and other emergency equipment. Evacuate safely Make sure you know your evacuation route and what to pack. Before you leave, unplug appliances to avoid a fire hazard, bring in patio furniture and other loose items, and park secondary cars in the garage if possible.

Real Estate: Maintain a Dry Home During the Spring Melt

There’s a lot to look forward to as the ice melts, but also some important things to remember. Below, tips on how to keep your home dry as winter melts into spring.
 
Know what’s covered.
Whether it’s from melted snow or broken pipes, not all policies guard against unexpected leaks, and those leaks can mean expensive repairs.
 
Stay balanced.
Excess moisture in the home relates in part to outside humidity, but temperature and other factors play a role. Learn more about balancing your home’s moisture here.
 
Check for mold.
In addition to water damage, the presence of mold can create health risks, including allergic and respiratory issues.
 
Prevent damage while you are away.
Some of the most common water damage issues occur while owners are away. Make sure you shut off the main valve, check your gutters and follow a few other key steps.
 
 
Home Moisture Checklist:
Taking these simple steps can help avoid costly water damage.
  • Avoid pointing sprinklers or hoses toward the house to keep water from seeping in at the foundation.
  • Check for leaks around windows and doors, especially corners.
  • Check your roof. Leaks are particularly common around chimneys, plumbing vents and attic vents.
  • Check for leaking faucets, dripping or “sweating” pipes, clogged drains, and faulty water drainage systems.
  • Act quickly – if a pipe bursts, turn off the water.
  • If a natural disaster hits, board up windows as soon as it is safe to help prevent additional water damage
 
 
 
 

Real Estate: Your First Home – Maintain a Home Maintenance Budget

 Something that often surprises new homeowners is the cost of home maintenance and repairs. But the investment (both time and dollars) of routine home maintenance is minimal, compared to the cost of replacing a heating system, gutters or roof.   Professional home appraisers estimate that a neglected home can lose 10 percent of its appraised value. Appraisers determine depreciation (the rate at which a house is losing value) based on the home’s economic age (the number of years the home is expected to survive).   According to the U.S. Census, the annual cost of home maintenance costs average more than $3,300. Lending institutions estimate 1 to 3 percent of the price of the home, which means $2,000 to $6,000 annually for a $200,000 property. Your budget should increase as your home ages.   Think of your home like your body. If you treat it with preventive medicine and regular check-ups, there’s a good chance you will offset problems, or at least, catch them when they are small and manageable. Researchers at Syracuse University suggest that maintenance actually increases the value of your home of about 1 percent each year – similar to how wellness activities help improve your biological age.   An easy way to be prepared is to create a “reserve for replacements” – cash to be used strictly for home repairs and maintenance. Experts also advise regular inspections to get a jump on potential problems. Tackling one room a year is a good way to manage home upkeep. It’s also a smart idea to keep a notebook of all repairs and upgrades that can be shared with potential buyers.   Allen Tate Home Services is a great resource to help with home maintenance and repairs. It would be our pleasure to introduce you.  

Real Estate: Happy Spring!

Happy Early Spring!  After the long, cold winter, it is a blessing to see some moderating temperatures.    As many of you know, North Carolina has a mandatory revaluation procedure that each county assessor must conduct a minimum of once every eight years.  Regardless of whether you own real estate in Mecklenburg County (where the revaluation notices were recently mailed) or whether you are updating your asset statement, you need to conduct an annual evaluation of real estate you own.   If you own real estate in Mecklenburg County, you need to confirm your new assessed value is correct.  If it is too high, there is a formal appeal process you may initiate via the instructions on your assessment notice.  That process will require that you defend your position and value.  Here is where we can help…   We offer two options in assisting you to determine the current value of your real estate.  First, we are happy to prepare a “Comparative Market Analysis” which will show recent nearby sales of similar properties.  This “CMA” provides an opinion of value based on the comparables.  It is a report you are free to present during the appeal process.   Second, we offer you a tool on our website that will allow you to do your own research.  Our website has over 12 months of recent sales and is very easy to navigate using the following simple steps:  
  1. Go to www.(LEEANNMILLER.com) and click the option for “Tate Map Interactive Search”.  Once the map opens, read the instructions on the welcome page, then close the instructions window.
  2. Once you see the map tool, note there is a panel that slides in and out on the left side.  At the bottom of the panel, there is a place for you to insert an address.  Type your address in the format indicated and click the star.
  3. All nearby for-sale homes are represented by red push pins.  More importantly, all nearby recent sales are represented by the slate colored push pins.
  4. As you hover over the push pins, a balloon display will appear – note you can click the “View Details” option from the balloon to see all of the information about any home.
  We hope you find the map tool helpful and if you are interested in a CMA, please feel free to call us at (704-896-5141). We are happy to help you every year with the important evaluation!   Sincerely, The Lee Ann Miller Team