Author: samuelaman23

Moving Within Your Budget

Moving is a real hassle by any standards. It is one of those things that almost everyone dreads. It is also one of those things that must get done at some point in life. Not a lot of people are lucky enough to stay in one place all their life. Hiring a moving company is one of the decisions that have to be made during this time.

Some people don’t consider moving companies mostly because of the cost. For some people, it is hard to afford the cost of hiring professional movers. It is possible to find affordable moving companies. Most moving companies charge their rates depending on the services. For someone considering moving, there are a few ways to make sure that you can afford movers.

One way to do that is do the packing yourself. Full service moving companies offer packing and boxing services. This may add to the cost of the moving process. If you can not afford the extra service, doing it yourself is always an option. When you pack your stuff you will know how to best do it. All you need are the appropriate packing materials.

Packing yourself however may have its disadvantages. In case anything got damaged during the move because it was not packed properly, the moving company would not be liable for it. This is however the risk that comes with getting moving services that fit your budget.

It is always important to check on the quotes that a specific moving company offers you. When you know what it will cost you. You can budget for it better. The amount of things you need to move will also determine the cost. You can make sure that you get rid of all the unnecessary stuff when packing.

Is the clunker in your driveway driving potential home buyers away?

WARNING!

 

This post is a bit of a rant about a house I listed several years ago when I was still an active agent.

 

Notice I’m very specific here…

 

We’re not talking about pink flamingoes, a lawn jockey, or flowers growing out of an old toilet.

 

No, but the subject of this article has already been sung about in a country song or two.

 

And while the subject of my mild rage isn’t a rusty old Ford Fairlane, the homeowner’s yard looked just as bad as the place described in that 90’s country tune.

 

Damn it, Jim! I’m a Realtor, not Grant Cardone!!!

 

I can’t sell a house that’s not fit to show. And in this case, we’re not talking about a single car. No, we’re talking six unique rust-buckets, all within different stages of decomposition.

That’s in addition to the three beaters crowding the small driveway on this tiny 3BR home. You know the type that have a different beater for each day of the week? Instead of getting one quality car from a local dealer, they try to maintain a fleet of clunkers. Yup, that was my client!

I’m not a sales assassin.

Just your ordinary (former) real estate agent.

I did the best I could given a bad situation, but it took forever to sell that one. And we probably could have gotten the seller a higher price had he taken my advice.

Listen to your Agent!

 

That’s the simple moral of the story here. Trust your agent. Listen to your agent. If they tell you something makes your house look less desirable, don’t take offense. Just resolve the issue and know that they have your best interests at heart.

 

Okay, rant over! Back to living the dream.

 

Should We Pressure Wash Our Driveway Before Staging Our Home to Sell?

Should We Pressure Wash Our Driveway Before Staging Our Home to Sell?

 

A home buyer’s first impression on your home should be a pretty good one. Most buyers would give your home less than a minute to decide whether they should enter and give it a more critical glance. So it’s very important to ensure that your house’s exterior is enticing enough for them to want to view the inside.

 

This raises a good question for many homeowners. Should you pressure wash your driveway before staging your home to sell? Yes! You definitely should. It’s the part of your property that a potential buyer would immediately notice before anything else. As soon as they step outside their vehicle and onto that pavement, a first impression is made.

 

It is a clean impression?

 

a clean driveway makes a great first impression to homebuyers

 

…or a DIRTY driveway?

 

dirty driveway before pressure washing it clean

 

The answer to that question is so important for your home marketing!

 

So, here are some compelling reasons we put together to ensure your driveway is appealing enough for home-buyers to say “yes!”.

First impression is critical.

A dirty driveway is a major turn off to a home buyer. It’s like your house saying, “Hi, there. I’m the garage and I’m quite dirty. Get in so you can see more places like me.” Well, that hurts. Especially if you did your best to clean up the entire house for the home’ buyer’s visit. So do clean it up and make your home impress buyers at first sight!

It helps your home sell faster and with less hassle.

If your house makes a good first impression with potential buyers, you have a higher chances of it being sold faster. If you were able to convince them that your house is still worth the cost because of its clean appearances and good features, chances are better that they would not take long to move forward on the home buying and negotiation process.

A clean driveway adds value to your home.

Another reason to clean up your driveway is that in can add value to your home. You’d like to get the best price for your pre-loved house right? So make sure potential buyers fall in love at first sight! A recently pressure washed home can increase it’s value from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the size, According to the National Association of Realtors.

 

Aside from your driveway, you also have to ensure that the rest of your exterior is also well-staged. Consider washing the siding of your home on the same day as the driveway:

 

pressure washing your siding is also a great idea!

 

Below are some more basic but very important exterior staging tips:

 

  1.  Clean your windows and repair screens.
  2. Pressure wash or scrub your exterior walls.
  3. Clean up your front and backyard. Do this frequently while you’re on the market.
  4. Keep unused equipment in storage.
  5. Replace busted light bulbs. You don’t have to buy expensive ones. Just ensure they work.
  6. Clean up your house address numbers.
  7. Replace your front door if needed.
  8. Consider re-painting.

 

Remember that a great curb appeal and a good impression screams “Buy me!” to home buyers. Home sellers that do these simple but important staging tips sell more quickly and have fewer concessions over the asking price.

 

Can’t find time to do it yourself? There are local pressure washing companies just like Superior Cleaning of Birmingham, Alabama all over the US. Go to Google and find a reputable local contractor to clean your house and driveway. Always be sure to ask if they carry insurance and check reviews before hiring a company to pressure wash your driveway. Happy Selling!

 

Little Known Tricks to Preventing Theft in Your Home

There are tons of little known tricks that can help you prevent theft from your home. While some of them don’t seem like that big of a deal, sometimes the most rarely thought of tricks are the ones that work the best. Did you know that if more people just took some of the precautions we’re going to explain below that the number of burglaries would drop significantly?

 

prevent crime with these tips from OSA

 

 

You’d be surprised at just how many crimes are handed to the thief because of an unnoticed opportunity that they took advantage of, such as unlocked doors and windows, conveniently placed bushes and shrubs that covered the area of penetration and more. Today, we’re going to explain some little known tricks sent to us by the security pros at Overwatch Security Advisors. Following their expert advice can help you prevent theft in your home and protect your assets.

 

 

Doors and Windows

 

 

One of the most common tactics a thief will use when penetrating a home is to kick the door in on itself. The best way to prevent this is to make sure your door is solid and install a deadbolt, as well as a chain and keyed lock. You can also install a peephole on your front door to see out so that you can identify visitors before accidentally opening the door to an intruder. If you have glass panels on or around your door, we recommend replacing them with either frosted glass or covers of some kind. If possible, install multiple locks that extend into your doorframe to reinforce the door itself.

 

burglers can break in through windows

 

Preventing Access Via the Outside

 

 

It’s important to remove the pull of easy access when it comes to your home. Install a perimeter fence or low wall to help deter a thief before they make it to the doors or windows. Trim back any of your trees, shrubs or hedges to make sure it’s easy for you to see out at potential thieves approaching your home. Don’t give a burglar the opportunity to do their work without being seen by either you or a neighbor. ALWAYS lock the doors and windows before you leave the house. We realize that it can be difficult to remember when you’re in a hurry, but this can be one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to the security of your home. Don’t leave the spare keys in obvious places and especially nowhere near the doors. Places like the front planters, under the doormat or over the doorpost is an absolute “no, no”. An intruder will check these places before trying anything else 99.9% of the time, so think like a thief and don’t leave the spare keys in any obvious places.

 

Going Out?

 

Unoccupied homes, whether for a short period of time or for days at a time are always more likely to be broken into. Take some precautions and NEVER leave tools outside that can be used to break into your home. Things like ladders, yard tools and even hammers and screwdrivers. If you’re not going to be home for even a few hours, open the curtains. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but closed curtains during the daytime make it obvious that the home isn’t occupied and it attracts burglars. Consider using automatic timer switches so that if a light goes out, it will turn back on.

 

Make Your House Look Occupied!

 

Don’t ever indicate that you aren’t home on your answering machine. Play it smart and just ask that the called leave a message. Use this same rule and don’t leave notes for any delivery or cleaning people on the front door. Send them a text or give them a call instead. When a service or delivery personnel shows up at your house, it can be smart to get their ID or confirm that you set something up and that the correct person has arrived. Don’t leave them on their own.

 

If you’re going out of town for an extended time, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway and open and close curtains for you. Ask if they’d be willing to collect newspaper and mail so that there isn’t a pile that makes it obvious no one is home. Another good trick is to disconnect your electric garage door opener if you’re going to be traveling. It’s not much, but it’s still a deterrent and it will make the job of a thief that much more difficult.

 

home security - Be careful posting to social media!

 

Don’t ever post on social media publicly that you are out of town. You never know who is watching and waiting for an opportunity to catch a house while the owner is away, and a lot of times, thieves find their targets through social media.

 

Yes, preparing your home in such a way as to deter criminals can be difficult, but if protecting your home is a high priority, we guarantee that the effort is well worth it. Don’t let someone take advantage of your home. Defend and protect your future today.

 

Infrared Heaters: Efficient or Wasteful?

Homeowners are always looking for ways to slow down the spin of the power meter and save a little cash. So today we’re taking a look at infrared space heaters. Are they efficient? How do they stack up against oil-filled radiator type space heaters? Let’s find out!

 

Infrared Space Heater

 

How do Infrared Space Heaters Work?

 

We all know that Infrared is an invisible spectrum of light. What you probably didn’t know is that infrared waves can get absorbed into your skin and heat your body from the inside out…rapidly! Before you start donning your tin foil hat and Googling articles on cancer though, you need to remember that the sun emits infrared and it’s a very natural heat source. Ever enjoy the warm, radiating waves of heat off a bonfire on a cool winter night? That’s infrared energy!

 

Need more technical details? Check out this primer on infrared heat by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute:

 

http://www.ahrinet.org/App_Content/ahri/files/Product%20Section/INFRARED%20BROsinglePGS.pdf

 

Infrared space heaters work by producing a radiating heat that can warm you up fast, and that’s part of the reason they are so popular. If you ever shop at Costco, you’ve probably walked by one of their infrared heaters on display. They absolutely blast you with heat that you can feel immediately. It feels great, but are they efficient?

 

 

Are Infrared Space Heaters Energy Efficient?

 

Yes and no. Compared to older style space heaters, the answer is a resounding yes. Electric heat space heaters are notoriously inefficient compared to central units. That is, if you’re actually needing to heat the entire home. If you only use 2-3 rooms, it might make more sense to only heat those spaces and turn the furnace off.

 

And if you’re using electric heat, infrared is one of the most efficient options for heating a single room, and that’s where the real energy savings come into play. If you don’t need to heat an unoccupied spare bedroom, why bother? You can save some money in the winter by closing off parts of your home you rarely or never visit and only heat the rooms you do live in with infrared heaters. And if you’re trying to decide between infrared and some other electric heat source, don’t bother. The only portable electric heater that’s more efficient is the oil-filled radiator type. However, they’re more expensive and it takes hours to heat up a room. Infrared heat is near-instant and directional.

 

Energy Savings from Directional Heat

 

That directional heat and rapid warm-up put infrared above oil-filled heaters in my opinion. Most of us are gone during the daytime and only need to heat a room after work. In that case, you can come home, have a seat, and point a small infrared space heaterthe infrared heater directly at you. It will keep just you and the immediate area around you warm at first, but this beats having to run an oil-filled heater all day for no good reason in my opinion.

 

Health Benefits?

 

Believe it or not, there might be some health benefits to far infrared light. Popular infrared saunas are thought to improve circulation, reduce muscle pain, and increase flexibility. They use the same heating technology available in most ceramic infrared space heaters.

 

In addition to the direct benefits, these heaters don’t produce condensation and may help reduce mold or mildew problems in the home.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about these energy-saving heating options, we’ve got it covered for you! Check out this round-up of the ten best infrared heaters on the market from our friends at Just Best 10, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Cheers!

Getting Pet Odors Out! So you can Sell Your Home

Dealing with pet odor

 

We all LOVE our furry friends! But if you’ve had a dog in your home for a while it can lead to odors that might turn off potential home buyers. Today we’re going to look at a few tips for pet owners looking to sell.

 

Can Pet Odor Really Kill a Home Sale?

 

Absolutely! Just ask an experienced Realtor. And what’s worse is that you’re probably “nose blind” to those odors since you live with your furry friend all the time. You’re desensitized to it, but even potential buyers with their own pets will probably notice the smell. If your agent brings up the smell, don’t get offended. They are just doing their job, and you want a good agent who won’t pull any punches. After all, you hired them to do everything in their power to sell your home for the best price possible.

 

 

Where do Pet Odors in the home come from?

 

If I wanted to be snarky, I’d just say “It’s the DOG dummy!” but the truth is your dog is just the source of an odor that’s permeated your entire house over the months or years. Here are just a few of the areas that probably harbor pet odors:

 

  • Carpets
  • Drapes or curtains
  • Drywall
  • Clothes
  • Linens

 

If you’re serious about selling your home, you need to address the pet odor both at the source and also throughout your house.

 

Start with the Odor Source

 

Take your dog to the groomer or give them a bath yourself. If it’s a long-hair breed, consider getting their groomer to give them a short, summertime haircut. If you’ve already bought or rented your next home, consider keeping your dog there or with a friend for a few days. Once you’ve dealt with the source, it’s time to move on to a thorough cleaning.

 

Cleaning up Dog Odor

 

It might make the most sense to start with the carpet, but I would recommend you start up high and work your way down. Remove all your curtains and throw them in the wash if the tag says it is safe to do so. The same goes for bedding, both yours and the dogs. Then you can move on to a thorough vacuum and shampoo of the carpets and rugs. If your pet isn’t 100% housetrained, a quality spot cleaning product might be in order. I would also go ahead and change out the air filter for your central AC unit at this time. It probably needs to be swapped out anyway since you’re showing your home to potential buyers.

 

 

Removing Dog Urine From Carpet

 

Extreme Dog Odor Cleanup

 

Okay, so that didn’t work and your agent still smells Fido when she walks in the door. What now? Remember our list of possible places the odor might be hanging out? If you followed my steps in the past paragraph and the odor is still present, you’ll have to focus on those other areas. A fresh coat of paint will help attract a qualified buyer while also preventing the drywall from smelling like a wet poodle. Or if you think the carpet shampoo didn’t do the trick, it might be necessary to call in a flooring pro and replace the carpet.

 

I hope you found these tips helpful, and best wishes on the sale of your home!

Qualities That Define the Best Moving Companies

Moving has never been so easy; at least the majority agree to this. And while this is the case, there are some service providers who make the whole a bit manageable. These are the moving and storage companies, who do anything and everything to ensure that people from all settings can easily relocate. In actual sense, without the existence of these service providers, moving can be very strenuous.

Whereas you can appreciate that moving companies are good and worthwhile hiring, there are some of them that have shown an outstanding performance. People actually select the same service providers times and again due to the quality of services given. These companies have the following qualities:

  • Reliability

The best moving companies can be relied upon to provide moving services efficiently. They invest in the best facilities and manpower to ensure that everything runs smoothly during the removals.

  • Professionalism

When you need to relocate, you will need to ensure that everything is handled in a professional way- from loading, transport to offloading services. Communication should also be perfect so that you are able to know the actual timing of the removals, and when the whole process will be completed. The employees are also supposed to be qualified and experience to handle the moving task at hand with excellence. This sort of professionalism is what good movers offer you.

  • Insurance cover

Anything can happen during the removals, causing damages to your luggage. Accidents, theft, misplacement of items can always lead to serious losses of property during a relocation process. It is for this reason that good movers will have pre-arranged insurance cover against such losses.

  • Affordability

The best movers do not exploit the clients. Rather, they provide services at a reasonable rate. More so, they may provide a number of moving options in which case the clients can decide on the most affordable option for them.

The best movers are well known, and as such easy to locate. Therefore, you will not take long before you hear someone mention a company with the qualities above. A little research through the search engines will also help to find the best moving companies in a given location.

All About Windows: A Guide for Homeowners

All about windows

 

Are you a new homeowner or even a seasoned veteran looking for tips about the windows in your home? Want to take steps to improve your energy efficiency or curb appeal? Maybe you’re looking at replacing your windows soon, and you need to know what your options are? No matter what, this post’s for you. Today we’re taking a comprehensive look at residential windows. Here we go!

 

Energy Efficient Replacement Options – If you’re considering a replacement, check out this page on EnergyStar.gov – https://www.energystar.gov/products/most_efficient/vertical_slider_windows

It lists different manufacturers and gives you information on which climate zones they are appropriate for. This post by The House Designers also gives you a few recommendations based on manufacturer. But you should also do your own homework and look at the U factor rating of your windows.

Choosing the right U Factor – You’ve probably heard of the R-value assigned to different insulation types. The U Factor is a similar metric used to determine the rate of heat transfer so you know how well your windows insulate. These values are usually in a range from .25 to 1.25 and are going to be listed by the manufacturer. Just keep in mind that a lower number means you have better heat insulation.

Find the right Replacement Windows – Another thing you’ll want to be aware of if you’re replacing your windows is the Low-E coating applied to some modern windows. This allows you to save a ton on cooling bills in the summer by reducing the solar heat gain that is allowed to pass through the glass. In come cases, this coating can reduce solar heat by as much as 58%.

WINTER IS COMING – Sorry, not sorry about the cheesy Game of Thrones reference here. Winter heat loss can be a big drain on your finances. It’s important to take some common sense steps to get your windows ready for winter. Here’s a great post that should get your home ready for cold temps and a fictitious medieval zombie apocalypse: http://www.onehouraircovingtonla.com/not-early-get-windows-ready-winter/ 

Failed Seals? – Just because your home already has double or even triple pane windows, it doesn’t mean you’re operating at peak efficiency. The fact is, seals can fail leaving you with air between your panes instead of the gasses normally used to improve efficiency. Check for condensation between the panes or cracking which might indicate a failed seal. Keep your window warranty information handy just in case.

Cleaning Your Windows – Cleaning your windows may seem like common sense, but what if you’re dealing with tree sap on the outside or splattered paint on the inside? Check out these 10 window cleaning tips to make your next weekend chore a little easier.

 

Now you’re all set to maintain your home’s windows to the world. Keep an eye out for zombies though. WINTER IS COMING!

Home Improvements that make Financial Sense

investing in home repairs

 

Been in your home a while? You’re probably starting to notice a few signs of wear and tear. And you’ve probably also picked out a few things that just need improving. Maybe you want to add another bedroom or convert an outdoor patio into a climate controlled sunroom. But what if you’re planning to sell soon? Even if you’re not thinking about that right now, this is life! The unexpected is about the only thing you can truly expect. So, you might want to consider the financial impact of your home repairs.

 

Safety First!

 

It might be tempting to do the improvements you want to do first, but disciplined homeowners understand the value of treating their abode like an investment. After all, a home is almost always the largest investment you own. That’s why it makes sense to look at your improvements from a financial standpoint.

 

And probably the first thing to consider is any repairs that are required from a safety standpoint. Even if you’re paying for liability insurance, there could be financial risks associated with any hazardous conditions like damaged deck railings or an out of code electrical system. What if you or a loved one gets injured and misses work? What about the medical bills? Your ability to work and bring home income must be protected, so be sure to address any safety issues around the home first.

 

Improvements that PAY!

 

So after your home is safe, what’s next? Do any improvements actually make you money on average? Or are they at best going to return a portion of your investment in the form of equity?

It turns out, you’re probably never going to get a financial gain out of home improvements. Just check out this post about investing in your home. They only found a few repairs that were even close to break even. Most major repairs like bathroom remodels and window replacements only yielded an average 80% return on investment in the form of equity. Probably the best way to increase your equity is to focus on curb appeal. Simple things like landscaping or adding a nice wooden deck can really attract more buyers.

But what about numbers? Let’s take a quick look at a few projects based on their return percentages. You might be surprised at the different results:

 

Backyard Patio – 47.6%
Bathroom Addition – 59.9%
Midrance Bathroom Remodel – 70.1%
Upscale Bathroom Remodel – 56.2%
Midrange Deck Addition (Composite) – 63.6%
Midrange Deck Addition (Wood) – 82.8%
Midrange Entry Door Replacement (Steel) – 91.3%
Midrange Kitchen Remodel – 59.0%
Upscale Window Replacement (Vinyl) – 74.3%
Upscale Window Replacement (Wood) – 69.5%

 

More percentages available here: http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2018/

 

Notice how the value changes depending on the materials you use? It seems like homeowners favor the traditional look of a wooden deck while viewing wooden windows less favorably. In both cases, the manmade material is going to be much more durable though. As I stated before, it sometimes has everything to curb appeal and less to do with reason.

 

The Bottom Line:

 

At the end of the day, you can’t really view home improvements as something that will provide a financial return on investment. You’re more or less spending that money to improve your own quality of life while you’re in the home. Sure, most upgrades and repairs will have a positive impact on home equity. But you can’t expect even a dollar for dollar return. So, keep that in mind and focus on the most important repairs and improvements first.

Make Relocation Easy With the Best Moving Companies

Moving from one place to another is always associated with headaches, hustles and tussles. This is because you have to gather everything together in a systematic way, arrange everything in their kind and then get a transportation means. This is usually not easy. The difficult part comes when you have to resettle in your new location. Some people take forever to get fully settled in their new surroundings. It is for this reason you should employ the services of the best moving companies.

There are so many of these companies in the marker right now. That is why it is very wise to know the exact one to go for.  Some companies are known to specialize on some services while others can do almost everything. That is why it is important to know exactly what you need from the moving company.

Types of Moving Companies

There are some full service moving companies which offer wide range of services. With these, you do not have to worry for anything. All you have to do is to decide on the moving date. You wake up and go to work normally and in the evening, you go home to your new house or apartment! It is that easy! The company usually comes with their professional moving staff who will pack everything in your house in the best way possible. They later move it to your destination and re-arrange it as you would want.

There are other companies though who only deal with residential moving. These are the residential moving companies. Therefore, if you are a corporation, you may want to know the nature of the company you should deal with.  This is very helpful because as a corporation, you may have some materials or documents that are very sensitive and confidential. To handle such materials, you may require a different type of a moving company.  This will also give you the highest satisfaction that all will be quite okay. With the help of professional moving companies, all your moving needs and concerns are met to the maximum.