Category Archives: Real Estate and Housing News

Yes, You Can Garden With Your Littles

If you have little ones afoot, the prospects of getting much gardening done may seem slim—but if you're armed with the right strategies, you'll find that not only can you still enjoy your favorite gardening activities, you can actually engage your young children in the process as well. Not only will this make you happy and keep them occupied, it will help develop their lifelong love of gardening and nature. Try some of these ideas to get those tiny green thumbs going:

Assign tasks. Structure is essential with any activity involving children, so give your kids a specific job to do, such as spreading mulch in a garden bed, gathering sticks, pulling up weeds or digging small holes for seeds.

Invest in the right tools. Buying child-sized gloves and gardening tools will be worth the investment. Not only will it excite your children to have their very own supplies; it will enable them to work more effectively in the garden, avoiding frustration and meltdowns.

Give them their own garden. If space permits, assign a small garden bed or patch of dirt to be your child's own private garden. According to DIYNatural.com, it's empowering for kids to plant as they see fit, tend their garden and watch the progress.

Let them choose what to plant. Now that they have their own space, provide a little guidance, then let them choose what they'd like to plant. Steer them toward hearty plants and vegetables so that they can reap what they sow.

Make it fun. Be sure to make garden maintenance, from watering to weeding, a fun, social time, advises LivingWellMom.com. Sing and chat together, and never do these chores in the heat of the day. Indulge in a little water fight now and then, or let them run through the sprinkler. The idea is to make sure your child associates gardening with fun.

Finally, be sure your children enjoy the fruits of their labor, whether that means helping them prepare a meal that includes the veggies they grew, or creating a floral arrangement with flowers from their garden bed. Encourage them to draw and take pictures that document their gardening endeavors each season so they can see how they've grown in the process, as well.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

2018’s Hottest Backyard Amenity: Detached Living Spaces

By Liz Dominguez

Editor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin' now at blog.rismedia.com:

Forget a pool or a BBQ area on your deck. Something else is trending this year as a must-have backyard amenity, and that's sheds. Yes…you read that right.
 
These aren't your typical sheds where you store junk or your gardening tools. They are luxurious, multi-purpose living spaces that just happen to be detached from the rest of your home.
 
The reason for their rise in popularity? Privacy, for one. There's no one—and no surrounding noises from your disruptive family or neighbors—to make you lose your focus. It's all you, the shed and whatever your No. 1 priority is for the day. Not to mention, if you have a lush and peaceful backyard, the view is a plus.
 
So, what do these look like? Anything you can imagine. From hobbit hole-style sheds to more contemporary glass structures, these can take the form that best suits your needs. And what are they used for? That depends on you.
 
For those looking to get some work done with no distractions and no access to the kitchen where you'll munch the day away, a luxury shed can be the perfect place to set up an office.
 

Credit: Tuff Shed 
 
For artists looking to find an inspired area to paint, a studio shed can do wonders. Some may even use these sheds as a fluid space that blends the outdoors and indoors, creating a relaxing place for meditation or yoga.
 

Credit: StudioShed 
 
Or, they can even be a great play space for your kids—especially those with quirky designs like the hobbit hole sheds. Whatever the need is, a backyard shed is this year's answer.
 

Credit: Wooden Wonders 
 
How much do they cost? Well, that varies depending on how large or complex you want your shed to be. According to StudioShed, a manufacturer of modern sheds, single-room studios can start around $9,600, while larger spaces, such as for guest rooms, can run around $25,000. For those who are looking for more intricate designs like the hobbit hole, that typically involves hiring an architect, and that could cause the price to skyrocket—unless you're handy and can design and build it yourself. 
 
Keep in mind that permitting laws vary by state. Check with your local government offices before ordering or building your dream shed to make sure everything is up to code or you obtain a permit, if one is required. Otherwise, you take the risk of incurring a fine, and it may be difficult to sell your home down the road. Once the paperwork is out of the way, you are free to enjoy your new backyard amenity!
 
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia's associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

National Moving Month: Raising Fraud Awareness and Protecting Your Clients

By Liz Dominguez

The internet can make the home-buying and -selling process a lot easier, but it can also add complications and introduce risk. One of the most frequently reported scams related to real estate? Illegitimate moving companies looking to swindle real estate clients out of their furniture, money, or even both.
 
In 2017, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 6,000 complaints against moving companies. May is National Moving Month; take this opportunity to engage with your clients about the possibilities of moving-based fraud and the steps you both can take to protect them.
 
Partner With Reliable Moving Vendors
As an industry professional, consumers look to you for guidance and resources. Just as you have mortgage lenders and attorneys you commonly work with and recommend, have at least two vetted moving companies on your vendor list. This is one of the best ways to protect your clients, as these companies tend to have a solid track record with your business, along with great reviews.
 
Educate Your Clients
If your clients decide to hire a company outside of your recommended vendor list, it is your duty to educate them on how to proceed with caution and be able to spot an illegitimate company. What do they stand to lose? Many scammers posing as moving companies hike up prices, steal contents, and, in many cases, hold goods hostage until they receive additional payment.
 
Types of Scams
There are several ways these companies deceive consumers:

  • Deposit Theft – The simplest and most common scam, the company requests a deposit after providing clients with a quote, and then disappears with the money.
  • Weight Fees – In this second scenario, fraudsters add on fees, citing a heavier load than anticipated on the quote provided.
  • Hostage Situation – After receiving payment and picking up the contents, these fraudsters move the goods to a different location and threaten to withhold them until they receive additional payment from the consumer.
  • Disappearance – The most severe of all cases, fraudsters pose as a moving company and never arrive at the new home, stealing your clients' belongings and money. 

How to Spot Them 
The best weapon against fraud is knowledge. By knowing what to look for, consumers can acknowledge they are being taken advantage of. Here are the biggest signs your client may be in trouble:

  • Movers refuse to make a house call and ask for a deposit over the phone.
  • The estimate provided is a lot lower than any others they received.
  • The company requests signatures on blank or partially filled documents/contracts.
  • The moving company is not listed on the BBB website, or is not part of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). 

Being Proactive
There are steps consumers can take when searching for a moving company, the most important of which is to check licensing to ensure the company can legally operate within the state, and any other states if your client is making a long distance move.
 
Additionally, by purchasing insurance, consumers can protect themselves against lost or damaged items. To ensure fair pricing and practices, obtaining three estimates provides consumers with the ability to compare costs and more easily spot a fraudulent situation.
 
Agents should warn their clients that these scams are more common this time of year, when the majority of consumers are moving. According to the 2017 Trends in Moving report by My Moving Review, 63 percent of all residential moves were made between May and October, and, during this time, Friday was the busiest day for moving, accounting for 20 percent of all moves. 
 
Agents should remind clients that any valuables, such as money, jewelry and important documents, should be transported by either a shipping service with tracking capabilities or by the homeowners themselves.
 
To report fraudulent activity related to moving, consumers can call the BBB at 903-581-5704 or can use the BBB's ScamTracker
 
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia's associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces

(Family Features)—Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.

Take care of textiles. Outdoor textiles often take a beating from the elements. Freshen up often-overlooked things like outdoor rugs, lawn furniture cushions, pillows and umbrellas. A thorough vacuuming may be adequate to remove leaves, bugs or dirt; however, if stubborn spots persist and a deeper cleaning is needed, review the manufacturer's guidelines. Washing covered furniture from time to time helps ensure it's ready for use no matter the season.

Declare dust-off limits. Dingy light fixtures and fans lend an air of disrepair in any space. Outdoors, they'll undoubtedly collect dust and dirt quickly, but a deep clean can help make them easier to maintain. Dust and scrub as needed, and if necessary, grab a scrub brush and some soapy water to brighten up other items like decorative pieces and flower pots.

Freshen up finishes. From furniture to hard surfaces, the finishes can take a beating. Take time to bring these items back to their former glory by rinsing, scrubbing and brushing dirt away from your wrought iron, metal, aluminum or wicker furniture. If needed, apply a fresh coat of sealant or add a rust-preventive layer of new paint. The same applies for other surfaces with finishes that may be chipped and dull.

Blast away grime. A careful sweeping with a sturdy broom is a good starting point, but to get your outdoor space truly clean you may need a little more power. When used at the appropriate settings, a pressure washer can clean a wide range of surfaces from patios, decks and sidewalks to siding, windows, screens and tables.

Souce: Briggsandstratton.com/OutdoorCleaning

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Consumers Demand Improved Indoor Air Quality

By John Voket

A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS)—a collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Kennedy School—states that today's homeowners want to take greater action to address healthy-home issues; however, they face obstacles such as lack of trustworthy, clear, and actionable information. In a related blog, report co-author Mariel Wolfson says the housing industry must do better demonstrating and responding to consumer demand.

Wolfson discovered that:

– Nearly one in four households in a JCHS survey had some concern about health-related issues in their homes; more than 20 percent acknowledged uncertainty about whether their homes might contain health risks.

– Nearly half of American homeowners responding to the survey have some level of interest in healthy-home issues.
– Sixty percent had already taken action—even if minor—to create a healthier indoor environment at home.
Wolfson says data proves consumers want their homes to contain fewer toxic materials and have good indoor environmental quality overall, but they need trustworthy expertise, services and information from the industry.

Building professionals who have relevant expertise—which includes knowledge of healthier/non-toxic materials and practices—have a distinct competitive advantage when working with individual homeowners and owners of multifamily buildings.

If you are a homeowner looking to integrate more indoor air quality (IAQ) features into an existing home, or are planning to build one and want to maximize air quality features, Wolfson says, there are a growing number of initiatives that work to help building professionals develop this expertise.

She advises consumers to steer prospective contractors or builders toward resources such as HealthyHousingSolutions.com, which offers training courses, as well as the  National Center for Healthy Housing; the Healthy Building Network; the Perkins and Will Transparency project; and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.

Wolfson also notes that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) strategy for action is another valuable resource.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

A Handy Guide to Starting a Home Remodel

(Family Features)—Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front-end—with some planning and preparation—is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project.
To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services.

Start With a Plan
Although it may sound obvious, the first step really is to decide what you hope to accomplish with your renovation. At the least, begin to outline rough ideas to discuss with an expert. Reaching out to contractors before you've determined a basic idea for your project can waste time and money. Spend time listing the features you must have, as well as some nice-to-haves if budget allows. Also think about overall functionality, design and layout. If you get overwhelmed or need ideas, don't hesitate to turn to online showrooms or magazines for inspiration.

Set a Budget
If the sky is the limit, skip ahead, but if you're like most homeowners, money matters. Have a clear idea of what you can afford to invest in your renovation before you get started, and if necessary, research the financing options available to you. Look for financing that provides deferred interest or low monthly payments to help manage the project cost. Setting a clear budget can help keep your contractors accountable, and it goes a long way toward ensuring you can enjoy your finished project without regret.

Draw Up the Plans
To help set your plan in motion, there are numerous online tools you can utilize to simplify each step of the process including design, budgeting and more. If you're planning a home remodel, a comprehensive resource, like JCPenney Home Services, offers a one-stop-shop for bathroom remodeling, countertops, custom window treatments, flooring, heating and cooling, water heaters and whole-home water treatment.

Involve a Professional
Unless you have the time and skills, you'll want a licensed and insured contractor to lead the project when you're ready to get your renovation in motion. It can be wise to solicit multiple bids, not only to ensure you get the best value, but also to find someone whose work, style and experience is most in-line with the needs of your project. After all, this person will be a big part of your life during a fairly stressful time period. Always check references and verify the contractor's standing with local associations.

Get Ready for Work
Remember that you'll need to create a work environment that is safe for your contractors and protects your valuable possessions. Establish a clear path to the project space for easy access and removal of debris. Furniture, appliances, room furnishings, valuables and breakable items should be removed from both the path to the work site and the work site itself. If your renovation project will involve an essential room, such as the kitchen or a bathroom, make alternate arrangements, such as creating a makeshift kitchen with the bare necessities, in another part of the house.

Source: JCPenney Home Services

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Homeowners: How You Can Help Your Local Wildlife

Do you love looking at the wildlife in your yard? From butterflies to birds and bunnies to bees, here are several easy and impactful ways to participate and start helping your local wildlife, from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF):

Create a habitat for your local wildlife. Think first of the birds, butterflies and bees that you can support in your garden habitat, then select plants that provide the kinds of food they need, such as nectar, berries or seeds. Plant according to your region, local environment and conditions, from sunny deserts to shady woodlands. Use NWF's "Plant Finder" to get a list of the plants native to your area that support wildlife.

Think small. No yard? No problem! For those with small outdoor spaces, select pots and planters that allow you to plant a selection of blooming pollinator-friendly native plants.

Plant for year-round diversity and beauty. Wildlife needs food, water, cover and places to raise young all year. Choose a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year, from native wildflowers to shrubs that produce berries. Evergreens provide year-round cover. Think vertically, too. Incorporate existing large trees and then underplant with smaller trees and shrubs for cover and nesting places.

Plant in groups. This will result in more color, textural impact and eye-catching patterns throughout the garden bed or landscape. This technique also draws the eye into the garden, and the close plantings will prevent weeds and minimize the need for excess mulching. Clusters of blooming plants are more likely to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Keep water sources in mind. Adding bird baths or container water gardens help attract a variety of wildlife, from birds to tree frogs.

Certify your garden. Celebrate by certifying your garden with the National Wildlife Federation and proudly display a sign! Show why you have designed your yard intentionally to help wildlife and encourage others to do the same. Certifying also spreads the wildlife gardening message to your entire neighborhood.

Source: www.nwf.org/garden

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.