The Best Fall Pest Prevention Tips

apple-1122537_640As the weather gets colder this Fall, insects, rodents and other pesky, even damaging, nuisances start to make their way inside for the winter. Many homeowners can attest that it is a good idea to take preventative measures to keep pests from entering your home in the first place. Here are the best ways to pest proof your home before winter hits and the weather gets too cold.

  1. Locate Potential Pest Entrances

You will want to inspect the area below your siding. While checking the underside of the siding you can use masking tape to mark any gaps. Make sure to come back through and seal the gaps later.

  1. Seal Any and All Openings Around Your Home

Be extra careful when inspecting to ensure that you seal all openings around your home including:

  • Sealing the cracks and gaps around doors and windows
    You can use weather stripping, silicone caulk or acrylic latex caulk to seal off all of your windows and doors. Before sealing these areas, make sure to clean and remove any previously applied caulk to ensure that the new caulk adheres well.
  • Securing your dryer vent and other utility openings
    Common pest entry points include utility openings where wiring or pipes enter the foundation or siding of your home. You also will want to check and seal around gas meters and outdoor faucets. Ensure that the damper in your dryer vent isn’t stuck open or broken all together. Openings as small as 1/16 of an inch allow spiders to enter your home while only 1/4 of an inch is needed for mice.
  • Caulking all gaps between trim and siding
    You will want to use acrylic latex caulk to fill gaps between trim and siding. Keeping a wet cloth close by will help clean up stray caulk. Another helpful tip is to use a wet finger to smooth the bead of caulk as you are applying it.
  • Inspecting, cleaning and sealing off soffit gaps
    Start by pulling all nests from the gaps in your soffits. Then fill these openings with expanding foam. Once the foam hardens you can cut off the excess with a utility knife. This helps smooth the rough appearance of the foam.
  1. Examine window and door screens for rips and tears

Holes in your screens should be mended right away or replaced entirely. Large gaps allow flies and other large insects inside your home. However, some small insects can still fit through screens regardless of rips and tears. Keeping doors and windows closed and locked tight will be the best way to ensure that all pests stay outside.

  1. Install a Chimney Cap

Those who have chimneys will benefit by installing a chimney cap. The cap will keep out birds, bats and other wildlife that try to spend winter inside your home. Installing 1/4-inch wire mesh also will keep bats, squirrels and other rodents from entering your attic and the inside of your walls.

  1. Call your local pest control expert for persistent pests!

Some pests are pesky and persistent. If all of your pet proofing efforts fail, getting help from a local pest control expert or exterminator may be the best option for you.

Home Buying Process

Buying a home is a big decision. One that no matter how much research you do, there are still so much you probably didn’t prepare for. As you move through the process of buying a home, the most important thing you can do for yourself is hire a real estate agent to help you navigate the process. In the end, you’ll be glad you did. window-1601423_640

To help you prepare for the home buying process, especially if this your first time, here are 5 important factors to be aware of.

Pre-approved. Before you begin your search for your dream home, take a moment to get pre-approved. This is important so you know how much you can afford and have realistic expectations going in. Too many times first time homebuyers skip this process and they start looking at homes that are way out of their price range, which can put throw them off once they see what they really can afford.

In addition to this, being pre-approved before talking with a real estate agent will help your agent support in your house hunt—and yes, you’re going to want to have an agent help you.

Search for dream home. The house hunt can be a frustrating experience or a wonderful experience, depending what you’re looking for and what the market is like. However, with a qualified agent helping you along the way, this will take a lot of the stress away. While looking for your dream home, remember to take some time to look at various homes to give you an idea on what you’d like. Also, don’t fall in love with just one home, in case someone makes an offer before you’ve had a chance to. During this process, your agent can help and answer all your questions about making counter-offer and negotiations.

Earnest money. This can be a surprise if you’re not prepared for it. When you make an offer on your dream home, putting down some earnest money to show the seller you’re serious. Depending on the situation, either the earnest will go towards your closing costs or will be returned to you. Again, your real estate agent and loan officer can answer your questions.

Inspections. Once the seller has accepted your offer, prepare for home inspections. Three of the more important ones are a meth test, mold test, and radon test. In addition to having these tests, hiring a professional inspector to inspect the property, both inside and out. This is important to know if there are any foundational and structural problems you should be aware of. If you find out these before the set deadlines, you can pull out of your offer which out losing your earnest money.

Loan Process. This is another in depth process you should be prepared for. Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for, your credit score, and other financial documents, this may be a long process as your lender determines if you qualify for a loan. Going into this process, make sure you have your last 2 years tax information, w-2s, paycheck stubs, and any other information your lender may need.

There is a lot that goes in the home buying process and at times you may feel like it will never end and you’ll never buy your home. However, the process is worth it because in the end you’ll have a home you love, will start building equity, and have pride in owning your very home.

Remember buying your first home? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

3 Important Things To Remember When Moving Into Your New Home

picture-763262_640This is an exciting time! You’ve bought your dream home and are ready to move into your new home. However, in the excitement of the moment, it’s easy to get wrap up in the decor, binge watch your favorite home improvement show, go crazy on Pinterest, and fill every corner of your new home with your personal items.

Before you get too eager about furnishing your home, here are 3 mistakes many new homeowners make.

  1. Buying everything at once. In the excitement of the moment and your eagerness to get your home decorated, it can be easy to go out and buy all sorts of furniture for your home. This can lead you to wasting a lot of money and leave you with little space.

Instead, grab a pen and paper and map out the room. Decide which items you’d like in what rooms, take measurements to know which pieces will fit in the room, and explore the possibilities of what you can do in each room to make them comfortable and unique to your style.

  1. Cramming rooms with so much stuff. When you go into decorating your home with no plan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and cram too much stuff into the space. Use this time to strategize and place the pieces in a way that creates an openness which is both inviting and cozy.

This is also the perfect moment for throwing out pieces that you longer love or fit within your home. Choose fun pieces of furniture that fit into the room and match your style.

  1. Trusting your eye over a tape measure. Measuring your space in important to ensure each item fits perfectly in your home. Too many times people run into the mistake of not properly measuring their space and end up with items that are either too big or too small for the space.

While taking some time to measure the space and furniture, remember to also measure the doorways. When bringing furniture in and out of your home, many times the doorways are forgotten and people run into problems getting their furniture to fit through.

Do you have some tips for staging a room? Have something to share about your last move into your home? Share your insights with us in the comments or on Facebook.

5 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell


stilllifeAre you getting ready to sell your home? When it comes to selling your home quickly, you want to make sure it
stands out to potential buyers. Not only do you want the curb appeal to stand out, but you want to create a space that is inviting and something they can picture themselves living in.

  1. Clear off countertops. Remove all the clutter from your countertops (kitchen and bathrooms) to make the home more inviting to potential buyers. People want to picture themselves living in the home and the kitchen is a key location where people hangout. Make this space as organized, clean, and spacious as possible for buyers to get a good idea of the area.
  1. Minimize art and decorations. As you stage your home to sell, incorporate more abstract art or landscapes in your home. Something that gives each room a little color yet doesn’t overwhelm and isn’t too specific.
  1. Declutter and depersonalize. Like the art and decorations, this is the time you want potential buyers to visualize themselves in the home. Remove any objects or items that are uniquely you, clearing any books and family pictures that can pull buyers out of seeing themselves living in the home.
  1. Turn on the lights. If your home doesn’t have enough light it can look drab and turn potential buyers away. Add a lamp or other lighting piece in the corners of the room to make it more cozy. Your real estate agent can help you decide which areas of your home would benefit from some extra light.
  1. Keep furniture proportional to the room. Don’t overcrowd your rooms with large furniture which can distract from the overall design of the room. Instead arrange furniture in a way that complements and fits the room.

Selling your home can be stressful, so do what you can to make the home stand out to potential home buyers. Your real estate agent can help, answer all your questions, and offer suggestions to help your home sell quicker.

5 Reasons To Hire A Property Manager


Are you interested in renting out your home? Many people enter the home rental business thinking it will make them a lot of money. While most renters will take care of your property, some aren’t as considerate and may leave you with a lot of stress and headache associated with being a landlord.

One way to help keep the stress is by hiring a property manager. If you’re fed up with the stress of being a landlord or are interested in owning rental property, here are 5 reasons to hire a property manager.

  1. No more wake-up calls. One thing about being a landlord is that if problems or emergencies arise, you’ll be the first person called. However, by hiring a property manager, they’ll be the ones dealing with any issues that may arise in the night.
  1. Tenant sourcing and screening. Property managers have access to a lot of great resources to help them find new tenants fast, keeping those vacancy rates down. In addition, because of the resources they have, property managers are able to thoroughly screen tenants.tie-690084_640
  1. Regular upkeep and repair. Not a fan of all the maintenance that come from rental property? Well, that is another great part of hiring a property manager. When repairs are needed, property managers are the one’s who’ll be there the moment trouble arises. Plus, they have access to all sorts of vendors and contractors who can do the repairs at reasonable prices.
  1. Avoid legal problems. Another part of being a landlord is keeping up with the landlord-tenant law, which can be time consuming and expensive (if you’re not up to regulations). New regulations and other requirements are always changing and staying current is important to avoid any legal trouble that may come up. With a property management company, a professional property manager can make sure everything is on the up-and-up.
  1. Keep an eye on your property without having to watch it. Regardless if you’re a long-distance landlord or are renting from down the block, a property manager will check the property often and make sure everything is in order and the home looks lived in. This can be extremely important when the home goes through vacancies to ensure the empty property isn’t prone to vandalism or break-ins.

Have some other questions about hiring a property manager? Check out the full article here at Realtor Magazine. Have you rented out your property before? Tell us about your experience.

 

3 Areas To Check Before Making An Offer On Your Next Home

Spring or Fall, either season is good for home buying. However, some might say the autumn is the best time for house hunting because there is less competition and more inventory to choose from. As you move forward with your search, here are 3 things to pay attention to: slide6

  1. Air conditioner. Most A/Cs aren’t in use during this time of year so it is something you probably aren’t thinking about. However, once the summer months hit again, you are going to be wanting this…and working. First of all, check to make sure the house has an air conditioner. Next, have an inspector check out the unit to ensure it is working properly and if it needs a new filter or has any blockages. Also, check the ductwork for rust and see if the machine is making any strange sounds.
  1. Inspect the drainage. Besides checking the gutters, be sure to also check the drainage of the home. Take a walk around the property and look for areas where water has accumulated into small puddles which could indicate a leak in the pipes or other problems that may need to be addressed.
  1. Window conditions. Make sure to check all the windows in the home to ensure they have the proper installation. There is nothing worse then sitting down in your new home to find you didn’t check the window installation.

Learn more about other areas you should check in this article by Realtor.com. If you are ready to make a move into a new home, give me a call today and let me help you find your dream home.

How To Winterize Your Bushes

Winter is not too far away and, with the cooler months, you will want to take some time to wrap your plants with burlap to protect them against frost, snow, and ice. By wrapping your plants you will also protect them from winter burn.this-winter-1354390818m7j

Burlaps are the perfect, and most effective, way to protect your plants because the material allows the plant to breathe. Air circulates around the plant, not allowing heat to get trapped inside. If you don’t have any burlap bags, a burlap sheet can be purchased at most fabric stores.

When you first go about covering your plants, place three to four stakes around the plant; allowing for a few inches between each stake. Drape the double layer of burlap over the stakes, taking care not to allow the burlap to touch the foliage which can damage the plant if it gets wet and freezes.

Not all plants need to be wrapped during the winter, but if you live in a mild climate or has an occasional light frost, you plants may not need more than just a layer of mulch. However, newly planted shrubs and trees need the protection, especially during those first 3 winters.

Find out more about protecting your plants here.

Create Your Dream Backyard

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. The warm weather, all the fun outdoor activities, and spending time outside in the garden. This is a great time to get creative with your backyard design and find inspiration through your hobbiesoutside-254716_640

Add some beauty to your yard by choosing complimentary colors to enhance your garden and offer contrast. White and grey are two excellent colors to compare with teal blues. rich reds, or golden yellows.

Another great feature to add to your home for some ambiance is to add an outdoor fire pit or movie theatre to your yard.

Do you love water? Incorporate fountains and other water pieces into your garden space. The sound of a trickling fountain can add a soothing atmosphere to your backyard. There are many different types of water features you can put in your yard from ponds to a dry fountain.

In the end, the key to building your dream backyard is find inspiration from the things you love. Find more inspiration from some of your favorite magazines, Pinterest, and even from around your neighborhood. There are so many great ideas out there, you are bound to feel inspired.

Perks of Spring Cleaning

Spring is officially here and with the warmer weather, for many, now is the time to get a start on their spring cleaning. Although not many are excited of the idea of spring cleaning–sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do–there are a lot of benefits to cleaning out your home and getting things organized. small faucet

How are your new years resolutions coming along? For those who put on their 2015 goals to get their homes in order, there is still time to accomplish all those things you wanted to get done. Use this time to get all those things patched up, thrown out, and repainted.

While you are cleaning your home from top to bottom, you are getting a great exercise in and without the hassle of going to the gym. Put on some great music and you can make your workout even better.

You know that pile of dust and all those dust bunnies behind the fridge? Just think how great you will feel when all that is gone. Although it won’t last forever, you will feel great when you’re done and can look around at your sparkling home.

Do you have any spring cleaning tips you want to share? Feel free to tell us about them on our Facebook page.

 

How to Downsize and Stay Sane

Not everyone wants to move into the biggest house on the block or are tired of maintaining a large home. Whatever your reason, how do you decide if downsizing is the right choice for you?

There are a lot of things to weigh when you begin to consider downsizing. If you are like most people, you have a lot of furniture, mementos, and clutter you’ve collected over the years, downsizing may not be the right decision. If you are overwhelmed with stuff, trying to put all of that in a smaller home could add to your stress and frustration.SmHuts

To get a better sense of the pros and cons of downsizing, talk to people who’ve downsized before. What was their experience like? What were some of the challenges they faced? Would they do it again? Through your conversations you can gain more clarity and decide if you should downsize.

When you have a better idea of what would be your best option, you find move forward with certainty and find ways to reduce any additional stress in your life.