Category Archives: Real Estate and Housing News

Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity During the Holidays

Despite our best efforts to remain merry and bright at all times, most of us succumb to at least a moment or two (or 10) of epic stress during the holiday season. When you feel the panic attack or Grinch-like tirade rising to the surface, here are some great tips to turn to, curated by the experts at Self:

Beware of the ‘S’ word. If you find yourself frequently saying you should be doing this or that during the holidays, stop and ask yourself what you really want to do instead. A long list of too many shoulds—aka joyless obligations—is a sure recipe for stress.

Choose three holiday experiences and forget the rest. A lot of bah humbugs are the result of exhaustion from trying to cram too much into a brief few weeks. Instead, think of the three experiences that give you the most holiday feels, such as volunteering at the senior center, hosting a cookie exchange or going to see the Nutcracker, and let the other ones go. In the end, three authentic experiences will be better than many stressful and disappointing ones.

Remember that things can go wrong and still be awesome. Holiday anxiety is often the result of striving to create unrealistic, perfect experiences. Take the pressure off by keeping a memory handy of a time when something went completely wrong and everyone still had a blast. Let it be your reminder that perfection is not always called for, and, in fact, disasters can sometimes make for the best memories.

Don’t store your credit card info. One of the biggest stress triggers during the holidays is overspending. One way to avoid doing so is taking the time to delete your stored credit card information from your computer and mobile device. This will prevent you from making last-minute impulse purchases that you’re sure to regret later.

Schedule downtime and make it non-negotiable. This may seem impossible given how busy you will be during the holiday season, but downtime will not only be your lifesaver, but also, your mood enhancer. Do this very important favor for yourself and for all those around you, 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.

5 Ways to Support Your Community this Holiday Season

(Family Features)–Each year, the true spirit of the holidays can seem to get buried further beneath mountains of wrapping paper and drowned out by commercialism.

However, when it comes to the holidays, gifts don't have to come in glossy paper with crisp edges and hidden tape (though those are nice, too). For example, author Carol Lavin Bernick recommends focusing on gifts that make an impact, such as giving back within your community.

The former chairman of beauty conglomerate Alberto Culver, Bernick published "Gather As You Go," a book sharing insights she's learned through her many roles: corporate leader, working mother, philanthropist and founder of the nonprofit organization Enchanted Backpack.

Consider these tips from Bernick for making a difference without breaking the bank.

1. It's About More Than Just Dollars. Instead of measuring your support by how much money you give, focus on the many ways you can support organizations near and dear to you by spreading the word online and in-person while recruiting new supporters. Alternatively, you can find an organization that puts your knowledge and skills to work. For example, if you're an artist or IT specialist, find a charity that needs your skill set.

2. Think Long-Term. When you're working with an organization, consider how you can help it find a long-term solution to problems. For example, if you're interested in helping young girls excel in science and math, work with your local elementary or junior high school to establish or support an after-school STEM program.

3. Start at Home. Teach your children the importance of giving back by donating gifts to those in need through charitable programs, volunteering at a food pantry or fundraising through a bake sale.

4. Shop with Purpose. This year, you can make an impact with your holiday shopping by buying gifts that give back.  Search for local or national qualifying programs.

5. Focus on Your Passions. Define your focus and make a difference by dedicating yourself to one or two causes that excite you the most. Find your passion and pursue it.   

Source: Gather As You Go

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.

Save Home Energy While Heading Out of Town

Heading out of town for the holidays? Don't let your home be fully powered in your absence.

"Many people will be traveling over the next couple of months to spend time with their families," says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. "There are a few measures they should take that will help them save on utilities, avoid frozen pipes and prevent unpleasant smells while they are away."  

Four Seasons Plumbing offers the following tips to homeowners looking to ensure their home is guarded against plumbing disasters, and saving on energy costs.  

Keep the heat on – When traveling, it's tempting to turn the heat off. This is prudent for saving money on utilities, but Rose recommends homeowners keep the thermostat above 55 degrees so pipes don't freeze and burst while they are on a holiday vacation. That will still save on the monthly energy bills, even if the heat isn't turned off completely. Those who live in areas that experience frequent power outages may want to keep the thermostat at a higher temperature.

Turn on the water heater's vacation mode – There's no need for hot water if no one is home to use it. Switching a water heater to vacation mode will save on gas or electricity. Otherwise, homeowners are paying to keep water warm that won't be used for several days.

Clean drains – Wipe out drains and pour a mixture of warm water, vinegar and baking soda into them to prevent bacterial and fungal build-ups that can cause unpleasant smells. Likewise, flushing a garbage disposal with the vinegar-baking soda mixture will help keep pests from snacking on any bits of food left in the disposal.   

Turn off the water supply – Some homes have an emergency water shut-off valve in a convenient location that can be used to shut off the water supply. For those with a less-accessible shutoff valve, special tools can be inexpensively purchased and used to turn the water off at the water meter. Doing so can save money on utilities while also mitigating the risk of a pipe freezing and either leaking or breaking while homeowners are away.

Close and secure crawl space doors and vents – An open vent or door to the crawl space will allow cold temperatures into areas where water pipes are, which can result in frozen and burst pipes. Making sure all doors and vents are closed and secure will prevent this from happening.

Insulate well heads and remove outdoor hoses – This will protect them from freezing, expanding and breaking while the homeowner is away.  

"These tips can lower your home's electricity, water and gas consumption, while also helping to prevent an untimely plumbing leak," Rose says. "Nobody wants to come home to find that due to a frozen pipe, hundreds of gallons of water have been leaking in their yard—or worse, their home—for days on end."

Source: Four Seasons Plumbing

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.

Home Improvements with High ROI

(Family Features)–If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you're looking to add true value to your home, it's important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.

Flooring
Flooring speaks volumes about a home. Replacing and updating worn floors can instantly add value. A timeless selection like wood flooring, particularly in heavy traffic areas, is durable enough to withstand wear and complements a wide range of interior designs. If you already have wood floors that are in reasonably good condition, whether in use or under carpet, go ahead and refinish them for a budget-friendly alternative to installing new flooring. Another option that holds or even increases the value of your investment is tile, particularly in spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and laundry areas.

Roofing
Re-roofing a home gives it an instant value boost, but it's a job that needs to be repeated periodically. One longer-term and on-trend alternative to traditional roofing is metal. Performance is the big selling point for metal roofs, but not only does the roof itself increase the home's value, the safety benefits and peace of mind that come with knowing strong, fire-resistant metal roofs can last forever only add to the benefits.
With a variety of styles available, you can find a metal roof to match nearly any home style.

Landscaping
Curb appeal often counts for a lot, whether it's for your own enjoyment or a potential future buyer. Enhancing your home's exterior can pay off handsomely when you add vegetation and hardscaping that improve the overall aesthetic. Keep in mind that more unconventional styles are better reserved for private spaces like the backyard; for the street view, stick to a motif with broad appeal to garner the strongest return on your investment.

Entryway
An outdated entry point isn't just an eyesore; it can pose a security risk and even be the source of significant energy loss for your home. Replacing front doors and even garage doors can both bring a return on your investment and potentially start saving you money right away on heating and cooling costs. A new, properly installed entry door is likely to fit more snugly and allow for fewer air leaks. In addition, a heavier door and frame is more likely to stand up against forced entry.

Insulation
It may not be glamorous, or even anything that you'll see on a regular basis, but many experts agree that upgrading your insulation is a sound investment. In addition to adding value in terms of comfort and reduced energy costs, it's an attractive selling point should you choose to list your home.

If you're still uncertain about the right investments for your home, it may be wise to consult a local real estate expert who can provide insight on the features that bring the most value in your market.

Source: CertainTeed

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.

Do You Have An Emergency Disaster Plan?

Don't let disaster hit you unprepared. When every moment counts, it's important to know what steps to take to keep you and your loved ones safe. Consider the following from USAGov.

Here are some steps you can take to become better prepared:

Download the FEMA App to get alerts and warnings about weather conditions. Receiving timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe. The app also provides safety tips about what to do before, during, and after disasters.

Create and test a family communications plan. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you'll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that's familiar and easy to find.

Document and insure your property. When a disaster strikes, having insurance for your home or business property is the best way to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild, or replace whatever is damaged.

Buy insurance that covers the specific risks associated with your region. Look for homeowners or renters insurance that covers damage caused by floods, high winds from tornados and hurricanes, earthquakes, or other concerns.

Strengthen your financial preparedness. Collect and secure personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records so you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay. Know your disaster costs.

Get trained to help others. Minutes matter in a disaster, and if emergency responders aren't nearby, you can be the help until more help arrives.

Learn how to find volunteer opportunities and donate to survivors. After a disaster strikes, many people want to donate their time, money, or goods. Learn tips on how to avoid scams when you're searching for a charitable organization to work with, and the best steps to take to support first responders.

Source: USAGov, Ready.gov

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.

Top Bathroom Renovation Tips That Can Add Value to Your Home

By Hannah Whittenly

A bathroom can be among the top selling points in a home. Upgrading your bathroom prior to listing the home for sale may enable you to sell it at a higher price point. Here are some of ways that you can improve your bathroom and get the highest possible return on your investment:
 
Add More Storage
There are many items that you want or need to keep in a bathroom at any given time. For instance, you'll likely want to keep extra rolls of toilet paper handy or have extra hand towels available. You'll also want to keep your toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant in the bathroom. Adding a closet, a larger vanity or extra drawers underneath your current vanity, you provide plenty of space for multiple people to share the bathroom peacefully.
 
Add a Touch of Luxury
Buyers will have a harder time not putting an offer on a home when it has a luxurious feel to it. Adding a Jacuzzi to the bathroom will make a buyer feel as if he or she were about to buy a spa instead of a residential property. Working with companies can make it possible to make your bathroom luxurious yet affordable at the same time.
 
Put in New Tile
Replacing your current floor in favor of a tile one can improve the look and feel of the entire space. In fact, a remodeling contractor can add a heated floor that is ideal for those cold winter days or those chilly spring mornings. It can make it easier to face the prospect of walking to the shower or sink without the need to find your socks and slippers first.
 
Add an Additional Sink
If you have to share the bathroom with your spouse or kids, it's important to have multiple sinks. This allows both parents to get ready for work at once or both kids to get ready for school at the same time. It also allows each person to keep their area of the vanity as clean or as messy as they want without infringing on others.
 
Even if you don't have a large remodeling budget, you can still make your bathroom look and feel like the best room in the house. When done properly, this space can be the centerpiece of the home and help to attract eager buyers willing to pay top dollar for it.
 
This appeared first on RISMedia's Housecall.
 
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, Calif. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

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.

How to Pick a Color for the Outside of Your Home

Deciding what color to paint your house is not like picking a new shade for your bedroom – if you’re not happy with the results, you’re either stuck with a color you don’t like for many years or you’ll have to live with the cost and time it will take to redo the job. So choosing the right color the first time around is essential.

But how do you choose? Here are some guidelines to help:

You can’t rush this one. Before you do anything, take a deep breath and commit to taking your time with this decision. Do the research necessary until you are 100 percent confident you’ve found the right color.

Consider your neighborhood. While you’re not obligated to conform, you might want to take into account the color scheme of other homes in your neighborhood. Are you in an area where homes are generally neutrals like tan, gray and white, or are you surrounded by colorful beach-area homes?

Think about your home’s permanent features. Does your home’s facade include brick, stonework, slate or shingles? Take these colorations into account when selecting an exterior paint – you’ll want to choose something complimentary.

Be observant. Every dog walk and trip to the grocery store is now field research. Don’t just look at the main color of a home, but how the owner has coordinated the color with the front door, shutters, trim and roof. Snap a quick picture of homes whose color palette you admire.

Consider the style of your home. Is your home an old Victorian? A mid-century modern? Or a classic cape? Color and style often go hand-in-hand.

You need to play it a little safe. While you may be itching to make a statement, reserve those daring colors for the front door or trim work, and make the primary color something more mainstream.

What’s your end-game? If you’re putting your home on the market soon, then paint with that in mind. If not, then feel free to indulge your personal preferences.

As you narrow down your choices, be sure to get samples of your finalists and test them out on your home before making your final decision. Chatting with paint specialists at your favorite home improvement stores will also help you sort through options.

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.

Selling a Home? Check Your Plumbing

If you're selling your home, you're to-do list is likely stacked: find a REALTOR®, get an inspection, make needed improvements, up your curb appeal, and the list goes on. Another important facet to keep in mind before listing is to make sure your plumbing is up-to-date.

"When selling a home, you're going to find each buyer's home inspector will examine some of the same items," says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. "It can be a worthwhile investment to make some repairs to strengthen a home's appeal to potential buyers and give sellers more negotiating power."

Rose recommends sellers evaluate the state of the following items:

Water heater – The water heater is one of the more common big-ticket repairs that can arise from a home inspection. If the water heater is on the older side, a buyer may request it be serviced and flushed, if not replaced entirely, as a condition of going through with the home purchase.

Water pressure regulator – One point of a home inspection is to check the water pressure. If the pressure comes back high, that can be indicative of a larger (and costlier) problem.

Leaking pipes – If the home has a crawl space, it can be relatively easy to check for leaky plumbing. If there are leaky pipes, that could be a red flag for the seller. Depending on the age and material of the pipes, fixes may range from a patch to whole replacement.

Type of piping used – Some older homes are plumbed with piping and/or fittings that have been recalled or had class-action lawsuits filed against the manufacturer. If your home has these materials in them, there is a good chance a potential buyer will want it replaced.

"Each buyer has their own deal breakers, but if you're finding the water heater come up as a common strike point on a requested repairs list, it might be worth it to install a new one," Rose says. "Having these issues come up on a buyer's home inspection is only going to add to the stress of selling your home."

Source: Four Seasons Plumbing

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.

How to Use Less Water at Home

By John Voket

Whether you live in a drought prone area or are simply environmentally conscious, saving water is important, and you can do so both inside and outside your home.

The non-profit GRACE Communications Foundation (GRACE) developed a free Water Footprint Calculator, so consumers can see how their everyday actions – from washing dishes to watering the lawn to buying groceries – impact water use.  

Here are some great ways GRACE says homeowners can conserve water inside their homes:

– Get a dishwasher, especially water- and energy-efficient models. Hand washing one load of dishes can use 20 gallons of water, whereas water- and energy-efficient dishwashers use as little as 4.5 gallons.
– When doing dishes by hand, use a little water to get your sponge soapy, then turn off the faucet until you’re ready to rinse a bunch of dishes at once. Or plug the sink or get a tub to wash dishes in so you don’t need to let water run.
– Use dish and clothes washing machines only when it’s full.
– Choose ENERGY STAR water- and energy-efficient dish- and clothes-washing appliances if you’re in the market.
– Wash denim clothes and jeans less – washing them a lot will wear them out more quickly. Consider airing them out or even putting them in the freezer to freshen them up.
– Dry clothes on a drying rack or a clothes line. When you save energy, you also save water because power plants use a lot of water to produce electricity.
– Put a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to warm up, and use that water for plants, flushing the toilet, or cleaning.
– Install a low-flow showerhead — conventional showerheads flow at 5 gallons per minute or more, whereas low-flow showerheads typically flow at 2.5 gallons per minute (or less).
– Spend less time in the shower, and turn off the water as you soap up, shave or brush your teeth to save time.
– Avoid baths. The average bath uses 35 to 50 gallons of water, whereas a 10-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead only uses 25 gallons.
– EPA New England further advises immediately repairing leaky faucets, indoors and out.

Source: watercalculator.org.

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.

Energy Savers that Make ‘Cents’

(Family Features)–A home that operates efficiently isn't just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year.

These tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances' negative impact on the environment.

Water Heaters
The cost of heating water for bathing, laundry and kitchen use is a common home energy drain, so it's an area that deserves attention when you're looking to upgrade for efficiency. To reduce energy use from your hot water heater, try taking shorter showers and switching to cold water for some washing machine wash and rinse cycles. Other options include turning down the thermostat on your heater, adding insulation or purchasing a newer, more efficient model.

Heating and Cooling
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 40 percent of a home's energy expenses come from the heating, ventilation and its HVAC system, also known as the heating and cooling system. Like appliances and other mechanical features of your home, over time, the heating and cooling system becomes less efficient. Regular seasonal service like appropriately changing out the air filter can help ensure your system performs at its best, but once its life expectancy has passed, a new unit is usually the more cost-effective solution in the long run.

Understanding your options is important because these systems represent a meaningful investment. There are a lot of potentially overwhelming options and you want to be sure you get the right system for your home. For example, heat pumps, which were once reserved for more moderate climates, are now a cost-efficient solution for homes where temperatures dip lower.

Another option that is relatively new but growing in popularity is known as a mini-split system. These systems let you customize the temperature settings in various spaces, enhancing personal comfort and allowing you to focus your energy use on the parts of your home that need it most.  

Thermostats
While servicing or replacing an HVAC system may be the obvious change when it comes to conserving energy, you can also see reductions by using an upgraded thermostat, such as a "smart" or connected model. These devices can help you monitor the temperature setting in your home while maximizing efficiency. For example, a connected thermostat that's synced to your smartphone may allow you to adjust temperature settings when away from home. This way, if you forget to bump the air conditioner up a few degrees while you're gone more than a few hours, you can log-in remotely and set an appropriate temperature.

Weatherproofing
A great deal of energy is lost through cracks, holes and faulty seals. Take time to assess all windows, doors and openings for air leaks, adding caulking or weather stripping where needed. Don't overlook culprits like openings around lighting and plumbing fixtures, switch plates and other electrical elements. Also assess potential losses from the fireplace, attic, garage and crawl spaces, where it's common that less attention is given to thorough sealing, and determine whether additional insulation can help contain energy.

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.