The Autumn Home Maintenance Checklist You Need Today

Get going on your autumn home maintenance today!

Autumn is in the air – you can feel it in the mornings. That means you’re probably thinking about doing some autumn cleaning. (You DO a big clean in the fall right?)  Hold on though! You also need to be thinking about some key autumn home maintenance items as well! Doing these 8 things at least 1-2 times a year will save you time, money, and a big headache down the road.  The goal is to prevent things from going wrong or catching little problems early BEFORE they become major problems.

We created a handy check list of 8 autumn home maintenance items you should be checking every year.  As a matter of fact, you can probably get these done in one weekend and then you don’t have to worry!

1.  Check your gutters and down spouts

Gutters and down spouts get all clogged up over the winter with leaves and debris.  Get up on a ladder every autumn and clear that gunk out.  It will save you leaks, breaks, pools of stagnant water and a big repair bill.  You should also do this in the spring, FYI.

2.  Get your chimney inspected and cleaned – by an actual chimneysweep

Looking forward to a roaring fire in your fireplace this autumn?  Be sure that you get your chimney inspected and cleaned by an ACTUAL chimneysweep.  They will clean out soot, remove blockages and creosote build up – all of which can ignite when you *ahem* fire up your fireplace.

A chimneysweep will also inspect the liner, firebox and damper to make sure that they are in good condition and as efficient as possilbe for heating.

They will also make sure that there aren’t any critters making a home of your chimney.

3.  Check seals on windows and doors

Check and repair any seals on window sills, door sills, and thresholds.  Look for damaged or peeling caulk, splinters, loose panes and gaps.  While you’re at it add weatherstripping to doors.  Any gaps let out warm air and also increase your heating bill in the autumn and winter. Here is a handy guide for how to caulk your windows.

4. Rake those leaves

It can be a pain to keep up on, but be sure to rake all those leaves.  If they stay on the ground over the winter under the snow, they can rot, mildew and even kill your grass.  Making your spring garden cleanup that much more difficult.

5.  Filter out those dirty filters

Guys. HVAC filters get D.I.R.T.Y.  They collect dust, pollen, pet hair and dirt.  And then recirculate all those things back through your house if you don’t clean or replace them regularly.  This is something you’ll want to check several times a year.

6.  Don’t forget about your dryer and refrigerator

When doing autumn home maintenance, don’t forget to check your dryer vent.  It gets clogged up and makes your dryer work that much harder.  Which makes your electricity bill go up.

And while you’re at it, check your refrigerator coils.  Chances are they need a good vacuum.  Not only are they really gross when they are covered in dust, they also make your fridge less efficient.

7.  Drain that water heater

Your water heater should be 100% drained a couple of times a year.  The reason?  All kinds of minerals and sediment build up in the bottom.  Which equals corrosion and water that doesn’t heat as fast as you’d like.

8.  Test your smoke detectors

This autumn home maintenance item can literally save your life.  Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and put fresh batteries in.  While you’re at it why not make sure that your family knows what to do when an alarm goes off.  A household fire drill goes a long way.

Need a hand?

Check out our list of trusted vendors, contractors, supplier and all around handy types who can help you if you run into problems (or they can just take care of this stuff for you).  They’ll give you a hand with the whole spring home maintenance thing!

Make the most of a 3 day relocation house hunting trip

You’re getting ready to move across the county in a few months.  For a new job or a new adventure or a change of scenery.  Relocation is a big, complicated step.  A lot of our relocation clients pick a 3 day window to fly out and start seeing houses a few months before the move.  We’ve compiled all the things we’ve learned to make a relocation trip that much easier for you.  Here’s how you can plan your relocation house hunting trip and condense it into 3 days.

 

Make the most of a 3 day relocation house hunting trip:
  1. Plan in advance
  2. Explore the area
  3. See some homes
  4. Write Offers

Plan Ahead

To maximize your relocation house hunting trip, find a real estate agent that specializes in relocation hunting.
Work with that agent in advance to discuss your home requirements and needs.  It will help them eliminate areas, homes and amenities that just won’t work for you.
Plan on seeing about 8-10 homes during your trip.  This means long and dedicated days with your agent – the more time you can give them to plan  the more you’ll be able to see.

DAY 1: Explore the Area

Spend the first day of your relocation house hunting trip exploring neighborhoods.  You agent can help you narrow down areas that make sense for you.  Don’t skip this step – you don’t want to find a home you love in an area that doesn’t suit your needs.
For example, if you have young kids finding are area with a great school district will be important.  If you want to have a minimal commute, targeting a spot that has good access to public transportation or is close to your office is key.
Narrow down your search to 2-4 areas and neighborhoods that you really like and focus your search there.

DAY 2: Visit homes

The second day is the day to dive in and start seeing homes.  Your relocation real estate agent should be able to plan a route to help maximize your time and keep you from driving back and forth across the city.  Set the goal of visiting 6-8 homes – a couple in each of the areas you like.

Wear comfortable shoes, carry some water, take time for a lunch break – it is going to be a long day.
As you see homes be sure to rank them for your agent – tell them which ones you like the most and the least.  It will help them get to know your preferences and dislikes when it comes to a home.  It can also help you cross off some homes without even seeing them.  Maximize time spent looking at homes you actually like in areas you love.
At the end of Day 2 of your relocation house hunting trip, you’ll want to have a couple of homes on the shortlist of possibilities.

 

 

 

DAY 3: Write offers

On the morning of Day 3 you can squeeze in a couple more walkthroughs if you want or if you only have one home that you like from the day before.
Afterwards, you want to spend the third day writing offers with your agent.  Ideally you have 2-3 homes that you’re making an offer on before you head home from your relocation house hunting trip.

 

BACK AT HOME:

Stay in touch with your real estate agent.  They will let you know if any of your offers were accepted, what they need from you next.  You agent can also help coordinate inspections, refer you to people to help with repairs or cleaning, and can even arrange for you to close on your home long distance.

Beyond Curb Appeal: Staging the Exterior of Your Home To Sell

They say first impressions are important – and the exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers will see. That’s why staging the exterior of your home is just as important as staging the interior. Here is our project list for getting the outside of your house ready beyond just curb appeal.

 

Staging the Exterior of Your Home: Repairs

The first thing you need to ask when getting your home ready to sell is if there are any obvious repairs that need to take place.  Walk around your house with a critical eye.  Look at the paint, trim, siding, roof, window casings, doors, foundation – is there anything that looks old, chipped, damaged or rough?

Sometimes when staging the exterior of your home it helps to stand back at the street and look from the point of view of a buyer that might be driving by.  What can they see?  Where are the rough spots? What are the best features of your home that you want to highlight?

 

Staging the Exterior of Your Home: Pressure Wash Surfaces & Wash Windows

Homes collect dust, grime, dirt and pollution.  Your house may look like it needs a coat of exterior paint, but it *may* just be dirty!  When staging the exterior of your home, removing the layers of dirt from your house and driveway and walkways will make it look fresh and new again.

When staging the exterior of your home you should even look at cleaning any patio furniture and potted plants – they get dusty too.

You can DIY a pressure wash, but it might be worth your time to hire a professional.

 

Staging the Exterior of Your Home: Fix Any Pet Damage

One important aspect of staging the exterior of your home is fix any damage caused by your dog!  You may love your dog – but the next owner of your house won’t want to deal with any yard problems.

Some things to look for:

  • Scratched fencing, scratched wood on the deck or scratches on the back door
  • Bare patches in your lawn or dead grass
  • Holes dug in the garden

Ideally, there should be no sign of your dog (or cat) when prospective buyers come to call.

 

Staging the Exterior of Your Home:  Think Green

During the summer, greenery makes all the difference.  Make sure that the front lawn is green, weeded and trimmed.  Flower beds should  be manicured and freshly planted and weed-free.   No one wanted to move in and feel like they have instantly have weeding to do.  Finally, adding some potted plants to the porch is a nice touch and a way to go the extra mile.

 

Staging the Exterior of Your Home:  Little Touches

A few extra touches will make a BIG impact:

  • Replace or refresh the hardware on the door
  • Make sure that any fountains, fire pits or spot lights are turned on
  • Make sure that blinds or shads look clean and well cared for
  • Refresh your home address signage – make the numbers big and easy to see from the street
  • Leave your lights on at night – it allows people to drive by and see the house in its *ahem* best light in the evening

 

Some additional resources:

 

 

Three Questions to Ask A Contractor – Before Your Hire Them

Need a contractor?  Here are the 3 questions to ask a contractor BEFORE you sign a contract!

As a homeowner, hiring a contractor to do work on your home can be stressful and time consuming. A lot can go wrong. To help you, here are our top 3 questions to ask a contractor that you may not have considered.  These questions will help you save some time and energy in finding a contractor that is the best fit for you.

1.  Ask to talk to references

Our number one on the list of questions to ask a contractor is: Ask for references.  And reviews on Yelp or Houzz don’t count.  Ask to speak to someone on the phone that your contractor did work for in the past year.  A reputable contractor will be more than willing to let you talk to a satisfied customer.

Some things to discuss:

  • What type of work did this contractor do for you?
  • What was your experience with your contractor?  Did they deliver on the agreed upon work?
  • Were they able to stick to project timelines or did they communicate about any unanticipated delays?
  • Did they stick to the budget or discuss any unexpected expenditures or overtime?
  • How would you rate the quality of their work?
  • Would you hire them again?

While you are at it, you can ask to see photos, portfolios or do drive-bys (for exterior or landscaping) of their work.

 

2.  Ask About Payment

Another one of our questions to ask a contractor is all about the money.  Always get a clear (written!) answer on payment and the fee schedule.  It is good to get full clarity on payment BEFORE the work starts.

Some things to ask about:

  • Do you require a deposit?  How much
  • Who pays for materials and supplies?
  • When is final payment due?  Is it when you finish the work, within 30 days, etc.
  • How do you invoice? Is the invoice itemized?
  • What forms of payment do you accept?

Estimate vs. Quote?

Another question you will want to ask: Is this an estimate or is it a firm quote?  Keep in mind that an estimate is just a guess based on what they think a job might cost.  A firm quote is much more definite (assuming of course there are no major surprises or add-ons to the job).  Again, be sure to specify and get all quotes in writing.

 

3.  Ask to See Their Credentials

Another one of our questions to ask a contractor has to do with making sure they can safely provide you with the services you need.

Always ask for:

  • License and any certifications
  • Proof that they do background checks on their employees
  • Proof of insurance – you don’t want to be liable if someone is injured on your property
  • And if it is a major remodel you can even ask to be added as co-insured on their carrier

Remember, your contractor is going to be working in your home – you want to be sure that, like any guest, you feel comfortable with them being there.

 

Finally some resources:

If you have any thoughts on questions to ask a contractor, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

The Spring Home Maintenance Checklist You Need Today

Don’t just spring clean… Get going on your spring home maintenance today!

Spring is in the air and that means that you’re probably thinking about spring cleaning.  Hold on though! You also need to be thinking about some key spring home maintenance items as well! Doing these 8 things at least once a year will save you time, money, and a big headache down the road.  The goal is to prevent things from going wrong or catching little problems early BEFORE they become major problems.

We created a handy check list of 8 spring maintenance items you should be checking every year.  As a matter of fact, you can probably get these done in one weekend and then you don’t have to worry!

 

1.  Check your gutters and down spouts

Gutters and down spouts get all clogged up over the winter with leaves and debris.  Get up on a ladder every spring and clear that gunk out.  It will save you leaks, breaks, pools of stagnant water and a big repair bill.

2.  Inspect your roof

Most roofs will last around 12-25+ years (depending on the material) IF, and only if they are inspected regularly and repaired.  While you’re up on the ladder cleaning your gutters and drain spouts, take a moment and climb up on your roof.  Look for loose roofing, pooled water, or curling shingles.

It can be very affordable to repair your roof regularly.  If your roof ends up leaking during those springtime showers, it can cost you thousands in damages PLUS the money to repair or get a new roof.

It’s a good idea to check your roof both in the spring and the fall. Just to be safe.

3.  Check seals on windows and doors

Check and repair any seals on window sills, door sills, and thresholds.  Look for damaged or peeling caulk, splinters, loose panes and gaps.  While you are at it, check and repair any screens – you’ll be glad to be able to open those windows and air out your home without bugs getting in!  Here is a handy guide for how to caulk your windows.

 

4. Give some love to your deck

Already planning the first BBQ of the season?  Better get that deck ready.  Just like your roof, you want to inspect it every spring.  Look for cracks, greying wood, loose joints and water seeping in.  Every 3-5 years you’ll want to stain and seal your deck to keep it from weathering.  A final step?  Give it a good pressure wash to get it ready for that backyard party!

5.  Filter out those dirty filters

Guys. HVAC filters get D.I.R.T.Y.  They collect dust, pollen, pet hair and dirt.  And then recirculate all those things back through your house if you don’t clean or replace them regularly.  This is something you’ll want to check several times a year.

 

6.  Don’t forget about your dryer and refrigerator

When doing spring home maintenance, don’t forget to check your dryer vent.  It gets clogged up and makes your dryer work that much harder.  Which makes your electricity bill go up.

And while you’re at it, check your refrigerator coils.  Chances are they need a good vacuum.  Not only are they really gross when they are covered in dust, they also make your fridge less efficient.

 

7.  Drain that water heater

Your water heater should be 100% drained a couple of times a year.  The reason?  All kinds of minerals and sediment build up in the bottom.  Which equals corrosion and water that doesn’t heat as fast as you’d like.

 

8.  Test your smoke detectors

This spring home maintenance item can literally save your life.  Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and put fresh batteries in.  While you’re at it why not make sure that your family knows what to do when an alarm goes off.  A household fire drill goes a long way.

Need a hand?

Check out our list of trusted vendors, contractors, supplier and all around handy types who can help you if you run into problems (or they can just take care of this stuff for you).  They’ll give you a hand with the whole spring home maintenance thing!

Staging with Nicole

In this video we have Nicole Kampenhout of Nicole and Company showing us how she would stage our dining room. Everything she uses are items that we had already. Virtually all of our listings we have a stager come out and make suggestions or changes in order to get the best experiance for the soon to be buyer. We have found that Buyers buy on emotion and then justify the price. Nicole, helps us create that emotional experiance for the buyers.

 

Before / After Photos