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: Buying Your 1st Home – Helpful Tips

You’re buying your first home and anticipating the joys of having your own place, not to mention the nice tax benefit. And while there’s a good chance that family and friends are offering helpful “advice,” you’ve likely turned a deaf ear to them – because this is YOUR home and YOU know what you want.   But for the same reasons you are working with a Realtor to help you navigate the process, you can benefit from the mistakes of first-timers who have come before you.   Consider these suggestions from other first-time home buyers:  
  1. Ask for what you really want. If your home of choice needs renovations and the sellers are willing to help, let them know your preferences. And ask for the appliances or curtains if you want them.  
  2. Don’t overlook the details. Check for adequate storage space, electrical and phone outlets, and overhead lighting. Measure to make sure your furniture will fit in the rooms – and through the hallways.
  3. Budget for expenses AFTER closing. You’ll be surprised how much blinds, curtains, paint, furniture and accessories will add up. And no one wants to wait months to make the new place look like home.
  4. Drive the commute and explore the area. How far is the home from work or school? What’s located nearby? What’s located within walking distance? (See “Neighborly Advice”)
  5. Meet the neighbors. Neighbors can become your best friends or your worst nightmare. If you’ve found “the one,” introduce yourself and gain some insight on the people you’ll see everyday.
  6. Think before you sell. Your modestly priced first home could appreciate significantly in a matter of years. Before you sell quickly, consider hanging on to it as an investment.
  Questions about buying your first home? We’d love to share more tips with you.  

Real Estate Tips: Cutting Costs In 2011- Start At Home

Many Americans have resolved to cut costs in 2011. One of the best places to start is in your home. There are several low‐cost ways to create significant savings on your utility bills throughout the lifetime of your home. 
  • Check for leaks. Cold air seeping in through your doors and windows and weak spots in your insulation can have a huge impact on your energy costs. Test for these issues by taking infrared images, conducting a blower door test, or simply locating cool air by touch. You can save 10 percent on your energy bill by plugging air leaks with caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
  • Upgrade your attic insulation. This simple, inexpensive solution can reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. The recommended insulation level is 12‐15 inches, depending on the insulation type.
  • Take a close look at your windows. Windows can also account for 10‐25 percent of your heating bill in the winter and can kick your air conditioner into overdrive in the summer by letting sunlight in. Consider installing energy-efficient windows to help block solar heat. If that’s not in your budget, simply modifying your window treatments with thicker or longer curtains can also help lower bills too.
  • Upgrade your appliances. Swapping out all appliances isn’t realistic for most homeowners, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, dryer or fridge, consider an Energy Star product.
  • Check your filters. Dirty filters slow down airflow, making your system work harder to keep your home warm or cool. Clean filters also prevent dust and dirt buildup – an issue that can lead to expensive repairs or system replacement. Filters should be replaced every three months.
  • Swap old light bulbs for new, energy‐efficient ones. Energy‐efficient light bulbs require much less power to provide the same amount of light for a much longer time.

Real Estate Tips: Want Money in Your Pocket?

Does the current real estate market have you feeling the blues? Do you owe more than you can sell your home for? Well, take a look at refinancing. You can’t afford not to refinance now and start seeing some green. There are two kinds of homeowners: those who have recently refinanced and those who have convinced themselves it won’t make a difference. If you’re in the second camp, take a look at the numbers below. Then let me connect you with my Mortgage consultant so you can start figuring out how to spend that extra money.
Year Purchased 2006 Refinanced 2010 Refinanced 2010
Sale Price of Home $300,000 $300,000 $300,000
Down Payment $60,000 $60,000 $60,000
Less Principal Paid   $11,600 $11,600
Loan Amount $240,000 $228,400 $228,400
Type of Financing Conventional30-year fixed Conventional30-year fixed Conventional15-year fixed
Interest Rate 6.625% 4.125% 3.375%
Monthly Payment $1,537 $1,103 $1,618
ANNUAL SAVINGS   $5,208 -$972
LIFE OF LOAN SAVINGS   $81,046 $188,160

Real Estate Tips: GET WINTER‐WISE – Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather

December 22 is the first day of winter 2010/2011.    In many parts of the country, cooler weather has already begun to set in. So before you curl up with a good book or head outdoors to enjoy the snow, take time to make sure your home is ready for cold weather so it can enjoy the winter as well.
  • Inspect your heating system. Breathe easier this winter. Have an HVAC professional inspect your furnace and clean air ducts to remove dust. Then, make sure you have a good supply of furnace filters on hand and make a note to change them every month. Something as simple as changing a furnace filter can reduce heating costs by up to 5%. If you have hot‐water radiators, bleed the valves.
  • Replace old thermostats. Nearly 50% of the energy used in a typical American home is for heating and cooling. Think about replacing your thermostat with a programmable one, allowing you to keep your home a little cooler at night.
  • Ready  your chimney and fireplace. Have a wood‐burning fireplace that hasn’t been cleaned recently, hire a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Chimneys should be capped or screened to keep birds or rodents from nesting there. Check your fireplace damper and make sure it still opens and closes properly. For brick chimneys, inspect the mortar and tuckpoint if needed.
  • Go outside & weatherize the exterior, doors and windows. Inspect the outside of your home. Look for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes and seal them. Weatherstrip around doors and gaps along the foundation helps to keep cold air out. Caulk around windows for the same reason. Switch out screens and storm windows in the fall, before it gets cold.
  • Do you need more attic insulation? Although insulating or upgrading insulation can be a big step, it is relatively easy to add insulation to most attics. A poorly insulated attic can be a major source of heat loss.  
  • Up on the roof top. Inspect your roof, gutters and downspouts. Replace roof shingles that are worn and check the flashing to make sure your roof is watertight. Clean leaves and debris from gutters and if you don’t have them already, think about installing leaf guards. Clear downspouts with a hose.
  • No more frozen pipes. You can prevent your plumbing from freezing with a few easy steps: • Drain and detach all garden hoses. • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. • Drain air conditioner pipes. If your air conditioning system has a water shut‐off valve, turn it off. • Leave heat on while on vacation (at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit).

Real Estate Tips: Your November Checklist…

  • Remove leaves and debris from eaves and gutters. Also a great time to test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
  • Turn on the pilot light for gas furnaces or gas fireplaces.
  • Replace bulbs in porch and garage lights and test any exterior electrical connections so you’ll be readyfor holiday decorating.
  • Check existing holiday decorations and replace any with damaged or frayed wires.
  • Test fire alarms, smoke dectors and carbon monoxide dectors. Also replace all batteries.
  • Wrap any exposed pipes to prevent freezing and bursting during the winter months. Put away any hoses connected to outside faucets.
  • Check, clean and/or replace furnace air filters each month during heating season. Also, check vents to make sure they are not blocked by furniture or other objects.
  • When the leaves have fallen, clean out wells around foundation vents to keep them working properly and to keep surface water from entering your crawl space.

Real Estate Tips: September Checklist for Your Home…


 Below are a few suggestions to keep that wonderful home in tip-top shape!

  • Defrost and clean any freezers that are not frost – free.
  • Test and replace batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors. Small task but could potentially save a life.
  • Pressure-wash exterior surfaces such as patios, sidewalks, driveways & siding. The temperature is cooling  down and makes an ideal time to tackle this task.
  • Clean out the garage and/or storage building. Remove everything from your garage or storage building and make room for (3) different areas (1) keep, (2) donate & (3) trash. The donate pile is good tax write off or you could decide to sell at discounted prices for some extra cash. You may be surprised what you will find! Don’t forget to properly dispose of any cleaners and chemicals.
  • Check and repair window and door screens. The milder weather of the fall season provides a great opportunity to air out your home while making small repairs. Don’t forget to wash the windows and doors while you’re at it!
  • Aerate your lawn. You may want to hire a lawn professional to do this but don’t wait too long!
  • Replace air filters throughout your home. This is important to keep your equipment working properly and to prevent premature failure. The less wear and tear means a longer life and increased comfort. Again, another small task that could save you big! 

Real Estate Tips: Ways to Save Money Every Day

Buy the Smaller Package – Yep, you read that right. Some supermarkets and drugstores charge more per unit for the supersize product. Swap Books and CDs – Websites make it easy to trade used books and records for titles you want. is a great place to start. Choose Refurbished – When consumers return products after opening the box, computer, electronics, and appliance manufacturers make any necessary repairs and resell returned goods as “factory refurbished.” If you buy direct from the manufacturer’s Web site, this lightly used gear often comes with a warranty. Change Your Calling Plan Because You Can – Until recently, cell phone companies wouldn’t let customers convert to a cheaper plan unless they extended their contract another year or two. Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T have announced that customers can now switch their minute allowance, text, or data options without repercussion. Source:

Real Estate Tips: 5 Tax Credits That Can Save You Money

  Take a look at the list below to see if you can start saving money! 
          Solar water heater mounted on roof
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