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Home Ownership

Vacant Home Preparation Tips

Vacant Home Preparation Tips

Vacant Home Preparation Checklist

Whether for vacation purposes, temporary change of location due to employment or some other reason homeowners may need to leave their home vacant for a while.  Short-term leaving a house vacant is usually not much of an issue and does not require much preparation.  Long-term leaving a home vacant though requires the home to be properly prepared otherwise the homeowner could come back to disastrous conditions.  This article provides some tips on what homeowners should be doing when leaving their home vacant for an extended period of time.

Security Tips

Some people opt to turn off power and turn off internet connections to the vacant house.  By doing that though the homeowner is limiting their ability to monitor their home remotely with security cameras and security systems.  While there are home security systems that can run on cell phone service they still need power for the monitoring system and sometimes they charge more for continual cell phone monitoring versus using an internet or phone (land line) connection.  By having a monitored security system the homeowner can have peace of mind that if someone does try to break in the police can be called to check out the property.

Always on security cameras also need an internet connection so the homeowner can monitor the home from anywhere they can get access to internet and a cell phone.  Different parts of the home can be monitored so if the alarm does in fact go off the light...

Smart Home Technology in 2024

Smart Home Technology in 2024

Smart Home Technology in 2024

Smart home technology in 2024 can make home life much easier, more secure and more cost effective.  From smart security cameras, smart vacuums to smart thermostats many of these smart devices operate without the need for much homeowner input and take a home to the next level.  Buyers these days are looking for smart home features when shopping for a home and many new home construction builders add smart home features as part of the base package for their homes.  Check out what smart home features are a must have for homeowners in 2024.

Smart Home Control Panels

Many new construction homes are coming today with smart home control panels (also called hubs) installed into the home.  These smart control panels control security systems, HVAC systems, smart speakers, lighting and more all in one device and can be accessed anywhere the homeowner has access to internet and a smartphone.  These smart control hubs work with many of the home automation software AI assistant protocols like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and more.

As these control hubs support a variety of software and apps that means it is easy to add on different brands that also support one of the common protocols and control them all in one central location.  Things like smart blinds/curtains that can be controlled via the hub means being able to let the sunlight in when needed or close them when no light is needed.  As more smart devices for home use come to market the existing hub should be able to control them all at one place.

Security Systems

Security...

Luxury Home Features For Any Home

Luxury Home Features For Any Home

Luxury Home Features For Any Home

Adding features found in luxury homes can be done for any home but to get the best return on investment (ROI) the home should be in a location where it can realize some gain in value.  A home surrounded by other homes which do not have some of these high-end features may seem nice but will not get much increase in value with added luxury features.  On the other hand, homes in neighborhoods where other homes have some of the features, adding those features could possibly help the home value.  Adding one or more of these luxury features for homeowner enjoyment without regards to value though may be just what is called for if the homeowner is wanting it for their own enjoyment.  

Central Vacuum System

Having a central vacuum system is something found in luxury homes.  Rather than carrying around a cannister vacuum to vacuum the house the homeowner instead moves the vacuum hose from room to room as needed.  The central vacuum system needs to be emptied less frequently as well as usually there is a large cannister which holds all the vacuum debris in one location.  Sometimes homeowners install a kitchen vacuum port where one can sweep up debris to a single location and let the vacuum suck it up.

Typically, central vacuum systems are easiest to install when the home is being constructed.  A home being remodeled where drywall is being removed might also be an ideal time to have installed a central vacuum system as the pipes and power for the system are usually installed behind the walls.  Central vacuum systems can be installed...

How To Maintain A Sewage Ejector System In Your House

How To Maintain A Sewage Ejector System

How To Maintain A Sewage Ejector System In Your House

Some houses due to placement need a sewage ejector system in order to take the household wastewater and pump it to the sewage line outside of the house.  A sewage ejector system may be needed for part of the house that is below the sewer line such as a basement or the entire house may be built with a sewage ejector system at the lowest point of the house.  Proper maintenance and use of the sewage ejector system is a must in order to avoid a dirty backup of sewage in the basement.  In this article learn about the key components of a sewage ejector system, how to make sure the sewage ejector system runs properly and maintenance tips.

Sewage Ejector System

The sewage ejector system consists of several components.  There will be a sewage basin where all the wastewater is collected until pumped to the outside sewage line, a sewage ejector pump or sewage grinder pump (sometimes two pumps with one serving as a backup), and a high-water alarm.  There are also various piping for draining wastewater into the sewage basin as well as pipes connected to the sewer line and a vent line pipe.

A standard sewage ejector pump is designed to pump out sewage and can handle a certain size of solids to be pumped out of the basin.  These pumps are submersed in the wastewater and when the wastewater level reaches a certain level a float sensor is triggered causing the motor to power on and pump the waste out of the basic.  These sewage ejector pumps usually only run when the wastewater is at a certain level and should not be running continuously.  If...

How To Maintain A Septic System

How To Maintain A Septic System

Tips For Maintaining your Septic System

Maintaining a septic system is essential for its longevity and to prevent potential issues and public health/environmental impacts. We will provide a comprehensive guide on septic system maintenance.

It covers topics such as understanding its importance, how systems work, essential maintenance tips, effective management strategies, troubleshooting common problems, prolonging system lifespan, and educating others.

Regularly pumping a septic tank is the most vital part of system maintenance. From experience as a Realtor over many years, many homeowners don't realize the importance of proper care. We will aim to change that.

Understanding the Importance of Septic System Maintenance

Maintaining a septic system is essential for the long-term functionality and protection of human health and the environment. By properly caring for your septic system, you can prevent potential hazards and ensure its efficient operation.

The Impact of Proper Septic System Care on Health and the Environment

Proper septic system care plays a significant role in safeguarding public health. When septic systems are not well-maintained, untreated sewage may contaminate nearby groundwater or surface water sources.

This contamination can pose serious health risks, such as waterborne diseases and pollution of drinking water supplies. By prioritizing regular maintenance and inspections, you can prevent these potential health hazards and protect the well-being of your community.

Environmental Guidelines and...

What To Know About Remodeling A Bathroom

Bathroom Remodel

What To Know About Remodeling A Bathroom

Remodeling a bathroom can add some freshness to a home and increase the utility of the bathroom when done right.  When done wrong a bathroom remodel can make things look and run worse.  The bathroom needs to be functional otherwise there will be no benefit for the remodel.  The tips in this article provide homeowners with some smart tips on how to properly remodel a bathroom.

Try Not to Take Away Bathroom Space

Taking away bathroom space by either adding in large fixtures like cabinets and showers or taking away bathroom space for other rooms can quickly turn a bathroom remodel into a disaster.  Bathrooms are usually made smaller compared to other rooms and taking away space from an already small bathroom will not result in a positive return on investment even if the space is used someplace else.  Tiny, cramped bathrooms are more likely to turn off future buyers.  If a bathroom is already on the smaller size then best bet is to remodel without taking away any useable space from it.

Adding or Removing a Shower/Tub

If the bathroom has enough space to add a shower or a tub where none is currently present this may or may not help the home value.  Some home buyers still expect there to be a half bath where there should be one and where there are already plenty of full baths in the home.  On the other hand, where a home has fewer baths as it is, adding a shower/tub to a half bath can improve thefaucet value of a home.  Where a home goes from one and a half bath to two full baths more buyers will appreciate...

Do You Need A Permit For That Home Improvement?

Do You Need A Permit

Do You Need A Permit For That Home Improvement?

Whether one is expanding a deck, putting on a new deck, adding a she-shed, remodeling a kitchen, adding a bathroom or something else it pays to check with the local zoning and building department to make sure whether a permit is needed.  Every location will vary in what does and what does not require a permit.  Certainly the work can be done without a permit and there are contractors out there who will do the work permit or no permit.  The risks though from having no permit for a home improvement job include fines, being forced to undo the work, buyers walking away from a purchase contract, insurance denying a claim and more.  Be sure to understand local permit rules in order to stay above board with your home with the tips in this article.

Is a Permit Needed?

Different cities and states have different requirements, so it is always helpful to call first and make sure whether a permit is needed or not.  Just because a permit was not needed in the last place a homeowner resided in does not mean a different city won’t require a permit for the same work.  While there probably will be an expense associated with getting a permit, failing to get a permit will cost much more, especially if the homeowner is required to undo the work or the contractor decides to take shortcuts that result in unsafe work.  Local building/zoning departments have staff to guide homeowners on the process of applying for a permit if one is needed.  

Benefits of Doing Permitted Work

During the permit process the work is usually inspected to make sure it is up to code.  Things like HVAC, electrical and plumbing are not areas where one should take...

What to Know About Adding Solar Panels to Your Home

What to Know About Adding Solar Panels to Your Home

What to Know About Adding Solar Panels to Your Home

Are you considering adding solar panels to your home?

With solar panels on your roof, you will save on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint, but can they increase the value of your home?

The question of does solar panels increase home value is something you’ll want to ask before investing in this home improvement. We will look at what factors affect the value when you have solar panels installed at your home.

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?

Many homeowners ask themselves if they should install solar panels on their homes. It could make sense if you plan on staying in the home for a while.

With solar panels fitted to your home, you can expect to make long-term savings on your electricity bills, boosting the value of your home at the same time.

Estimates suggest you could realize an increase of $20 for every dollar you make in savings thanks to your solar panels. So if your solar panels save you $1,000 a year, your home should be worth $20,000 more on average.home on scales

Solar power is more valued by buyers as well. A report from Zillow found 67% of buyers valued energy efficiency as extremely important when searching for homes. The Department of Energy also found buyers were willing to pay $15,000 more for a home using solar power.

These findings show that the drive toward more...

Should You Put Your Home Into An LLC?

Should You Put Your Home Into An LLC?

Should You Put Your Home In An LLC?

Homeowners are always looking for a way to protect themselves and their assets.  Homeowners insurance is a great way to protect a home from natural disasters and also can provide protection from someone getting hurt on the property.  There are additional insurance policies homeowners can consider as well to expand that coverage.  Some homeowners may think that by moving their home into a Limited Liability Company (LLC) they can get much better protection from lawsuits.  While that could be true there are risks involved as this article explores.

What Kinds of Protections Does an LLC Provide?

The types of protections provided by an LLC may vary state by state but for the most part the LLC is treated as a separate entity from the owner of the LLC.  If the owner is sued for their actions as a person the assets of the LLC should be shielded from a lawsuit if the owner was not acting on behalf of the LLC.  For instance an LLC owner is driving their vehicle to do a personal errand and run a red light causing an accident.  The person injured by the accident can sue the owner and the courts can look to all assets owned by the owner to help pay for the injuries.  If the owner owns assets in an LLC those assets would be considered separate from the owner and not subject to the liability of the owner.

By moving title to a home into an LLC the homeowner then is attempting to protect their home from any judgment claims.  For instance if the homeowner did not have enough insurance coverage or other assets and were found liable in the accident described above their home could be used to help...

Important Things To Maintain In A House

Important Things To Maintain In A House

Important Things To Maintain In A House

Homeownership involves much more than living in the house and slapping on some paint here and there periodically.    Homeowners need to be actively maintaining and updating the house in order to have the home retain value.  Certain areas are overlooked when it comes to maintenance and this article provides tips on where homeowners should be focusing on routine maintenance.  Skipping this maintenance can mean much larger bills down the line when something does fail in the home.

Garage Doors

The garage door themselves and the garage door opener need to be properly maintained in order to get the best possible life span out of it.  Over time the metal parts can wear down if not properly lubricated.  Metal moving parts of the garage doors will need replacement when they do wear down.  The garage door opener itself has moving parts and electronics to help it safely operate.  If the sensors that tell the garage to reverse when something crosses its path fail to work it can cause harm to people, animals and even damage a car that is in the path of the garage door.  By having the garage door and opener regularly tuned up/maintained on a regular basis the homeowner can ensure it operates safely and effectively for a long time. garage doors

HVAC System

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) are basically the lungs of the home and keep the home’s air cool in the summer, warm in the winter...

How To Keep Your Home Cool During The Summer

How To Keep Your Home Cool During The Summer

How To Keep Your Home Cool During The Summer Heat Wave

The summer heat is raging in many areas.  Keeping your house cool during the summertime not only helps one stay comfortable but when done right can also save money.  Cooling is a major expense for homeowners during the summer.  Check out the great tips in this article to help keep your home cool.

HVAC

Homeowners need to make sure their HVAC is tuned up and the filter is changed on a regular basis.  Clogged or old HVAC filters lead to less cool air being pumped through the home as well as result in increased cost when running the furnace.  HVAC filters need to be changed based on the recommendations of the HVAC manufacturer and the filter maker.

Regular tune-ups on the HVAC system make sure things are operating smoothly and at peak efficiency.  An inefficient HVAC means less cooling capacity and increased energy costs.  Professional HVAC companies can come out, tune-up an HVAC system and make sure problems don’t happen.  Having an HVAC system go out during the hottest days of summer will lead to plenty of discomfort for the homeowners and can possibly cause damage to the home through excess heat and humidity.

Dehumidifier

Homes located in humid regions, close to rivers, lakes and oceans can experience high humidity which makes it feel hotter.  Homes in general can build up humidity through everyday activities like cooking, bathing, and more.   A dehumidifier takes that humidity out of the air resulting in the body feeling more comfortable.  While an air conditioner...

Tips For Saving Energy In and Around The House

Tips For Saving Energy In and Around The House

Tips For Saving Energy In and Around The House

With energy prices increasing along with the cost of everything else, saving energy in the home should be a priority for homeowners.  During the extreme periods of hot and cold weather homeowners can save quite a bit of money but making energy efficient improvements in their home.  As with anything the homeowner needs to weigh the cost of making the improvement versus the potential savings.  Spending five dollars to save one dollar on a one-time basis is a bad investment.  On the other hand spending five dollars to save one dollar a month for the foreseeable future would be a good investment.  This article provides some tips on how to save energy in and around a home.

Adjust Your Thermostat

Are you used to cooler temperatures in the summer and warmer temps in the winter?  Adjust the thermostat one degree above or below your normal setting is a great way to save on the heating/cooling bill.  It will take a little getting used to body comfort wise but once changed and forgotten the money savings can add up over time.  Couple that with using a programmable or smart thermostat and additional savings can be had.  Some smart thermostats know when no one is home and can automatically adjust the temperature up or down to save money.

Mind Your Windows

When the weather outside is mild opening one’s windows is a great way to let the fresh air into the home. Inside air can get stagnant with cooking, household cleaning products and more.  When...

Garage Updates That Can Help Increase The Value Of A Home

Garage Updates That Can Help Increase The Value Of A Home

Garage Updates That Can Help Increase The Value Of Your Home

The garage is often one of the under looked areas of the house when it comes to making updates.  While some homeowners are using their garages for keeping cars there are plenty of other homeowners who use the garage for more.  Generally, the garages on the whole should be kept with the main purpose of parking cars when making updates regardless of how it is used.  This article looks at some useful updates that improve the look of the garage and can help boost the value of the home.

Garage Updates The Make Sense

Organization

Unless a garage is only used to park cars and nothing else it can always benefit from better organization.  Adding shelves, wall hooks, cabinets and more make the garage more functional and give a place to put everything in or on.  A cleaner more organized garage looks better and makes it easier to find things when they are needed.  Garden/lawn tools that are set out of the way secured by wall hooks means lower chances of injury to the homeowner and to the cars as they come in and out of the garage.  

Many companies sell garage specific cabinetry that are more durable and designed to fit tall tools.  With those cabinets regardless of what is stored in there they are designed to take a beating and still look great.  They come in different color options depending on what works for the home.  If the goal is to sell the house, a clean and well-organized garage is a big selling point for home buyers.

Flooring

Most garage floors are plain concrete.  While concrete...

What To Know About Remodeling A Bathroom

What To Know About Remodeling A Bathroom

What To Know About Remodeling A Bathroom

Remodeling a bathroom can improve the look of a home, increase its value and maybe even save the homeowner some money over the long term.  Homeowners need to understand the process of remodeling a bathroom so they can make sure it is done correctly.  This article looks at some of the steps a homeowner should take when wanting to remodel a bathroom.

Steps To Take Prior To Remodeling

Homeowners need to consider whether they plan to take the do it yourself (DIY) approach for the remodel or hire a contractor.  While the DIY approach can save money, if the homeowner does not have the necessary skills to lay tile, update or move plumbing and install electrical fixtures it might be best to leave it to the pros.  It will cost more to redo work than it would had the homeowner hired a pro from the start.

The homeowner should be considering what are the goals for the bathroom remodel?  Are they simply looking for an update of the bathroom or do they want to do more like add or remove a shower or tub?  A simple bathroom update which usually means new vanity, sink top, faucet, toilet, tile and man holding hand uppaint will not be as expensive as would be adding a shower or tub to an existing bathroom along with the remodel.  Adding a shower or tub to a bathroom that does not have one can increase the value of the home since full bathrooms are valued higher than half baths.  

On the other hand, removing...

What Can Cause A Home’s Foundation To Go Bad?

What Can Cause A Foundation To Go Bad?

What Can Cause A Home’s Foundation or Structure To Go Bad?

The foundation of a home is a critical part of the home and it what keeps a home standing up.  While factors outside of a homeowner’s control (such as severe storms, earthquakes, sink holes and more) can cause foundation problems there are things the homeowner can do to prevent foundation problems.  Foundation problems can lead to uneven floors, broken windows, stuck doors and much more.  Therefore, preventative maintenance to control what is in the homeowner’s control is important and this article looks at some of the common problems that can cause issues with the foundation and house structure.

Water Caused Foundation Damage

Water related issues are one of the biggest causes of home damage in general.  Water and excess humidity can lead to mold, wood rot, and more which can make a house unlivable.  Water when not properly diverted away from a home results in water entering collecting close to the basement walls.  As the water builds up it creates inward pressure on the wall which can cause cracking and can even force walls to fall inward into the basement.  Homes have gutters and downspouts to help properly divert water away from the foundation of the home.  Gutters or downspouts that get clogged means water is not drained away properly which then results in the foundation issues noted above.

When water enters into the basement either through gaps in block foundation mortar or cracks in concrete and stone walls that water over time causes the gaps to get bigger if left untreated which means more water entering the basement.  Over...

Smart Tips For Automating Your Home

home automation tips for your home

Tips For Automating Your Home

Home automation can help reduce some of the effort of managing a home and make it overall more enjoyable to live in.  Certain automation tools available for the home can maintain proper temperatures, keep an eye on security, and even report serious issues like HVAC or water heater issues.  This article explores some of the home automation technology out there and how it can benefit homeowners.

Leak Monitoring

A flooded house can be a huge disaster for homeowners especially if not caught in time.  Many homes have finished basements with carpeting, furniture and electronics that if exposed to water can result in a total loss to those items.  Even worse, water that is allowed to sit in a basement for any length of time can make the entire house unlivable since water will cause mold to grow and that mold will spread to the rest of the house.  Smart water leak monitoring devices can keep an eye on leaking pipes and basement floods in general which will alert the homeowner to water issues before it is too late.

Things like sewage ejector failing to work or leaking from the ejection pipe, back up in the sewer lines can be make for even a worse (read stinky) situation.  The sooner one knows about sewage leaks/backups in the basement the sooner one can act to stop any further damage.  There are a number of companies who make smart water leak sensors and some of them will integrate with existing smart home systems like Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and more.

Smart Thermostats

Maintaining the proper temperature in a home helps keeps the inside of the home healthy.  Too much heat and humidity...

What Should You Do With A Bonus Room In A House?

What Should You Do With A Bonus Room In A House?

What Should You Do With A Bonus Room In A House?

A bonus room is one of those extra spaces found in the house that does not fit within the definitions of the other rooms found in the house.  Bedrooms and other rooms have their names and particular uses whereas the bonus room does not.  The bonus room still can be useful for the homeowner and this article explores what homeowners might want to utilize their bonus rooms for.

What Exactly Is A Bonus Room?

As mentioned above a bonus room is usually not one of the other typical rooms like bedroom, family room, living room, or den.  Sometimes the bonus room is found in the upper levels of the home like an attic space that has been finished.  The room may not be large but is still big enough to utilize in some way.  When in an attic there may be slanted ceilings or lower than normal ceilings.  Basically, it is not a typical room and rather than let that room be wasted space someone (builder or the homeowner) decided to covert that room to usable space.

Can A Bonus Room Be Used As A Bedroom?

Depending on the size of the bonus room, some can be used as a bedroom.  Whether it can be described as a bedroom in marketing remarks when selling a home is a different story.  In most locations a bedroom has to have a closet and two ways in/out of the bedroom (a window can be one of those ways) in order to be legally called a bedroom.  So, a bonus room on the third-floor attic space may not be technically called a bedroom that does not mean people won’t use it as such.  Even without a closet there are plenty of furniture stores that offer...

Does A Mortgage Payment Always Stay The Same?

Does A Mortgage Payment Always Stay The Same?

Does A Mortgage Payment Always Stay The Same?

When one buys a house with a mortgage the common thought may be that now my house payments are fixed for thirty years and there is nothing else to worry about.  Depending on the type of mortgage a house is purchased with and whether taxes and insurance are escrowed the monthly home payment may not stay the same for thirty years.  This article explores what a home mortgage payment actually consists of and how sometimes the monthly payment can go up or down at times.

What Does A Mortgage Payment Consist Of?

The most common parts of a mortgage payment consist of the principal and interest payment.  As the homeowner pays off their mortgage over time they are paying a certain amount towards the principal balance of the mortgage (the amount of the actual loan) and towards interest.  The principal and interest payment rarely will be the same amount and will change over time where the balance being paid towards principal will increase and the amount going towards interest will decrease.  One common way of paying down a mortgage faster over time is by paying extra towards the principal so that way less interest is paid overall for the mortgage.  

If a homeowner has paid less than 20% down towards the purchase of their home then the lender will require that the homeowner also pay into escrow a pro-rated monthly amount to cover the payment of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.  Generally, whatever the total amount of annual taxes plus the insurance premium will be is divided by twelve in order to determine the monthly required house picture...

What Is Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure?

What Is Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure? graphic

What Is Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure?

Deed in lieu of foreclosure is a term used by mortgage lenders to mean the homeowner gives up their ownership of the home to the lender in order to avoid a foreclosure action against them.  There may be any number of reasons why a homeowner wants to give up ownership of their home and a foreclosure is a huge negative mark on one’s credit score.  For the mortgage lender a foreclosure action can be a lengthy and costly process.  This article explores deed in lieu of foreclosure and why a homeowner may want to choose that option.

How Does A Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure Work?

Sometimes deed in lieu of foreclosure is referred to as jingle mail since the homeowner is literally mailing the keys of their home to the lender as a statement that they are giving up their ownership of the home.  The process is not that simple though as title to the home needs to be transferred back to the lender.  Usually this can be done by signing the deed over to the mortgage lender and filling out any other paperwork the lender requires.

Generally, lenders are willing to take a deed in lieu of foreclosure since it will be less costly than pursuing the foreclosure process.  Of course, this assumes that there are no other liens or other loans secured by the property.  If there are tax liens, mechanics liens, home equity loan liens on the home that could make the process a little more difficult for the primary mortgage lender.  If the home still has equity in it the mortgage lender may be willing...

What Should A Homeowner Do When The Mortgage Forbearance Is Over

What Should A Homeowner Do When The Mortgage Forbearance Has Ended

What Should A Homeowner Do With Mortgage Forbearance

During this pandemic that started in 2020 many homeowners found themselves out of a job due to local economy shutdowns meant to slow the curve.  Through government action homeowners with certain types of home loans were allowed to defer paying their mortgage due to impacts from COVID shutdowns.  For those who were impacted economically by job loss or reduction in pay and have their mortgage payments in deferral may be wondering what actions they should take once the deferral of payments come to an end.  This article explores what homeowners should be considering about their current home situation and their deferral of mortgage payments.

What Did The Deferrals Allow?

People had to prioritize their spending due to either being temporarily or permanently out of work because of the the virus related shutdowns.  Mortgage payments along with the corresponding insurance and property tax payment account for a large part of many homeowners monthly spending.  Some homeowners were faced with not spending on food or medicine or not paying their mortgage and facing possible foreclosure and years of a wrecked credit report.  Through the CARES Act the government postponed lender foreclosures until December 31, 2020 and also gave homeowners the ability to ask for forbearance of their mortgage payment if they were experiencing financial hardship caused by the pandemic.  The CARES Act applies to mortgages sponsored by government entities and include mortgages like FHA, USDA, VA and more.  Other mortgages...

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