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.

Before You Leave Town…

Along with all the planning of what you’re going to do and where you’re going to stay, consider this checklist to make you feel more comfortable while you’re away from home.

  • Ask a trusted friend to pick up your mail, newspaper and keep yard picked up to avoid an appearance of not being at home.
  • Stop your mail (USPS Hold Mail Service) and your newspaper.29938746-250.jpg
  • Don’t post about your trip on Facebook and other social media until you return; some burglars look for this type of announcement to schedule their activities.
  • Do notify police or neighborhood watch – especially if you’re going to be gone for more than just a few days. Let your monitoring service know when you’ll be gone and if someone will be checking on your home for you.
  • Light timers make it look like someone is home. Set multiple timers for various times to better simulate someone at home. There are plug-in modules for lights and appliances that would allow you to control them from your phone while your out of town.
  • Do unplug certain appliances – TV, computers, toaster ovens that use electricity even when they’re off and to protect them from power surges.
  • Don’t hide a key; burglars know exactly where to look for your key and it only takes them a moment to check under the mat, above the door, in the flower pot or in a fake rock.

These easy-to-handle suggestions may protect your belongings while you’re gone while adding a level of serenity to your trip.

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.

Owning Makes More Sense

When comparing the cost of owning a home to renting, there is more than the difference in house payment against the rent currently being paid. It very well could be lower than the rent but when you consider the other benefits, owning could be much lower than renting.31066694-250.jpg

Each mortgage payment has an amount that is used to pay down the principal which is building equity for the owner. Similarly, the home appreciates over time which also benefits the owner by increasing their equity.

There are additional expenses for owning a home that renters don’t have like repairs and possibly, a homeowner’s association. To get a clear picture, look at the following example of a $300,000 home with a 3.5% down payment on a 4.5%, 30-year mortgage.

net cost of housing.jpg

The total payment is $2,264 including principal, interest, property taxes, property and mortgage insurance. However, when you consider the monthly principal reduction, appreciation, maintenance and HOA, the net cost of housing is $1,218. It costs $1,282 more to rent at $2,500 a month than to own. In a year’s time, it would cost $15,000 more to rent than to own which is more than the down payment and closing costs to buy the home.

With normal amortization and 3% annual appreciation, the $10,500 down payment in this example turns into $112,00 in equity in seven years. Check out your own numbers using the Rent vs. Own or call me at (919) 247-4667. Owning a home makes sense and can be one of the best investments a person will ever make.

4 Tips for a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

(Family Features)–Just when it seems like you have gotten into your summer groove, it's time to get back into your school routine, which can be cause both relief and stress at the same time for parents and students alike. Even if your kids are fairly adaptable, big changes like heading back to school after a summer of limited scheduling can be stressful.

Head off potential problems as you transition into the busy back-to-school season with these family-friendly tips to get everyone back on the school-time track:

Set a Family Schedule
Rather than rushing into school season all at once, try to plan your schedule ahead of time. Easing into school season can make for a much smoother transition. This means gradually tapering off later bedtimes and enforcing an earlier wake up call. If meal times have gotten lax, it's also a good idea to start working back toward your school-time schedule.

Stay Organized
From weekly meetings to extracurricular activities and weekend sports, try using lists and charts to stay organized. Especially as kids grow older and their activities lists and school deadlines expand, keeping track of everyone can become a real chore. Find a place in the house where you can post calendars and lists that everyone can see. Try color-coding by child or type of activity (school, work, sports, etc.) for extra organization.

List Family Goals
Have each person in the family list out his or her goals for this school year. They can be small or challenging, but it can give everyone something to strive for. It's also a good way to remind kids about family values like encouraging one another and making time to support everyone's individual interests.

Buy Supplies Ahead of Time
Don't wait until the last minute to search for school supplies like notebooks, pencils and paper or the bigger ticket items like backpacks. Seeking out necessary items ahead of time can alleviate the stress of not being able to find what you need, and spreading out purchases over time can eliminate a major one-time hit to the family budget.

Source: Chinet

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 Word Homeowners Need to Understand

Acquisition Debt is the amount of money borrowed used to buy, build or improve a principal residence or second home. Under the new tax law, mortgages taken after 12/14/17 are limited to a combination of $750,000 on the first and second homes. The mortgage interest on this debt is tax deductible when itemizing deductions.12844696-250.jpg

It is a dynamic number that is reduced with each payment as the unpaid balance goes down. The only way to increase acquisition debt is to borrow money to make capital improvements.

Prior to the new law, homeowners could additionally borrow up to $100,000 of home equity debt for any purpose and deduct the interest when itemizing deductions. Mortgage interest on home equity debt is no longer deductible unless it is for capital improvements.

Acquisition debt cannot be increased by refinancing. Some confusion occurs because mortgage lenders are concerned in making home loans that will be repaid according to the terms of the note and using the home as collateral. That does not include making a tax-deductible mortgage.

Another thing that adds confusion to the issue is that the lenders will annually report how much interest was paid in a year but only the amount that is attributable to acquisition debt is deductible.

Even if the interest on the cash-out refinance is not deductible, it may be advantageous to pay off higher interest debt such as credit card debt and replacing it with lower mortgage debt.

It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to know what part of their mortgage debt is deductible. The challenge becomes more difficult after a cash-out refinance. Homeowners should keep records of all financing and capital improvements and consult with their tax professional.