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Home-Buying Dictionary: Words and Definitions to Know for Anyone Buying a Home

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Home-Buying Dictionary

 

Words & Definitions to Know for Anyone Buying a Home

 

Buying a home is a complicated process, and first-time homebuyers, in particular, can find the process overwhelming.  Anyone who has bought a home can attest to the fact that there are many steps to buying a home, and that there is a lot of room for mistakes to be made during the process.  This prospect is daunting enough to a first-time homebuyer, and to make things more complicated, they often are faced with a feeling of ignorance due to not being familiar with the common phrases and definitions that are associated with real estate transactions.  This is a beginner’s guide to real estate terms that are important to know.

 


Acceptance

Acceptance happens when the party who received an offer accepts its terms and thereby creates a contract between the two parties.  If a Buyer puts forth an offer to purchase real estate and receives acceptance from the seller, the contract is begun.  Likewise, if a seller counteroffers the buyers’ original offer, and the buyer accepts the terms of the counteroffer, acceptance has been reached and the contract is binding.

 

Appraisal

An appraisal is an estimation of a home or property’s market value.  Appraisals are completed by licensed appraisers, and they look at comparable homes that recently sold near the home in question.  Appraisals are typically ordered by lenders during the home financing process to ensure that the investment the lender is considering is a worthy one.  If the appraisal results indicate that the home’s value is less than the loan amount, the lender may refuse to finance the loan.

 

Closing

The closing date is when the ownership of the home is transferred from the seller to the Buyer.  A closing takes place at a title company, where both buyer and seller will settle all credits and debits before signing the paperwork to transfer ownership of the home.  The certificate of title, abstract, and deed are prepared by an attorney, and the buyer signs the lender's mortgage paperwork.  The closing date is typically established during the negotiation stage of buying a home, but it is subject to certain criteria that could cause the date to change.  The closing essentially finalizes the original contract entered into by the buyer and seller.

 

Closing Costs

Closing costs are expenses other than the cost of the property in the transaction, and they are paid during the closing.  Closing costs can be incurred by either the Buyer or seller.  Closing costs typically include such expenses as the escrow fees, the real estate agent commission, the attorney fee, the appraisal, the inspection, the attorney’s fee, and more.  Some closing costs are tax-deductible, so be sure to save your closing statement and have it handy, come tax-time.

 

Commission

The commission is the money typically paid by the seller to a real estate agent as compensation for finding a Buyer and completing the sale.  The commission can be a flat fee or a percentage of the sale price, depending on the agency agreement.

 

Contingency

Contingency is a word that means that a certain condition must be met before a contract is legally binding.  When a contract is contingent on something, a provision in the contract clearly states that some or all of the terms of the contract will be altered or voided by the occurrence of a specific event, usually by specific dates leading up to the closing.  For instance, a contingency clause in a contract can state that if the Buyer doesn’t approve the inspection report for the property, the buyer can back out of the contract.  The two most common contingencies in the home buying process are that the home must pass the inspection and the borrower must be approved for the loan.

 

Counteroffer

A counteroffer occurs when a seller has made an offer on a property that rendered a response of a different offer from the seller.  When a counteroffer is made on real property, it essentially nullifies the original offer, giving the Buyer a chance to refuse and not be accountable for their initial offer in any way.  A counteroffer is intended to begin negotiations for a transaction to occur, depending on the amount and terms agreed upon by both the buyer and the seller.

 

Disclosure

A disclosure is a legal document that a seller is required to sign when listing their home for the purpose of disclosing any major physical defects in the house that they are aware of, as well as the presence of lead-based paint, radon, or other potentially hazardous materials, conditions, or contaminants.  A Buyer, before asking their agent to prepare an offer for a home, should ask to see the disclosures to make sure that there are no major hazards within the home that would prompt them to not move forward with the purchase.  When putting in an offer, a buyer will be required to sign the disclosures to acknowledge that they have read and understood them. 

 

Downpayment

The downpayment is the amount of money to be paid by the Buyer to the seller upon signing the closing paperwork.  The buyers’ loan amount is the downpayment subtracted from the purchase price from the home.

 

Earnest Money

Earnest money is a deposit made to the seller from the Buyer.  An earnest money deposit is intended to show the sellers the buyers’ good faith in their offer and intent to proceed with the transaction.  If the sale goes through, the earnest money deposit counts toward the downpayment of the home.  Unless the offer to purchase expressly states that the earnest money will be refundable if the sale does not go through, the buyer typically forfeits the earnest money in the event that the contract is not executed.  It is important to note that an earnest money deposit is not necessary to offer; it is simply to imply good faith to the seller.  Furthermore, it is not necessary that earnest money be money at all; it can be in any form that is deemed acceptable by both buyer and seller.

 

Escrow

Escrow typically refers to the escrow account, in which funds are held until the occurrence of a sale, afterwhich the funds are released to a designated individual.  Typically the escrow account holds money from the Buyer for the lender; the escrow account will store the mortgage payments, which can consist of the principal, interest, and insurance. 

 

Home Inspection

A home inspection is usually ordered by the Buyer in a real estate transaction for the purpose of obtaining a report on the home’s condition.  A home inspection is carried out by a licensed inspector, who, after completion of inspection, provides both buyer and seller with a report detailing any concerns, repairs, maintenance, or potential issues that exist within the home. 

 

Home Warranty

Sometimes offered by a seller to give their home a competitive edge in the marketplace, a home warranty covered the costs of repairs to specified parts of the home over a specified period of time.  The home warranty, if offered, is provided by the seller as a condition of the sale.  However, a Buyer can request a home warranty and write it into their offer on the home.

 

Homeowners' Association

A homeowners’ association is an organization made up of residents in a neighborhood who are concerned with managing and maintaining common areas of a subdivision or condominium complex.  Many homeowners’ associations require a monthly or annual fee from residents of the neighborhood that contributes to the maintenance of those common areas.  The association is also responsible for enforcing any covenants and restrictions that apply to homes in the neighborhood.

 

Homeowners’ Insurance

Homeowners’ insurance is a form of insurance specifically to protect a home and its possessions from damage.  A lender will require some documentation of homeowners’ insurance while processing your loan, because the lender also wishes to protect his investment in your home.

 

Mortgage

A mortgage is a lien on real property given by the Buyer to a lender as security for money borrowed.  The loan term, interest rate, and type of loan within the mortgage is typically decided upon by an in-depth assessment of a client's finances and current situation with the help of a lender.  

 

Multiple Listing Service

The Multiple Listing Service is a computer-based service commonly referred to as the MLS.  It provides real estate agents a number of services and benefits.  Agents use the MLS to disburse their listings to other agents, so that any agents working with buyers can easily see if the property is something that their client would be interested in.  An agent can also look to the MLS to get comparable properties to help the seller decide on a fair and reasonable asking price for their home.  The MLS isn’t just a tool for agents, however.  The MLS also serves as an exporter of listings and their information to other websites that the public has access to, such as REALTOR.COM or Zillow.

 

Offer

When you find the home that you would like to purchase, your real estate agent will prepare an offer to be submitted to the seller.  This offer contains the date of your offer, a description of the property, the amount of your earnest money deposit, the amount of money you are wanting to pay for the property, financing details, your name and address as well as the seller’s name and address, the closing date, and any other special requirements or contingencies you’d want to ask for.

 

Pre-Approval

Pre-Approval takes place after pre-qualification, and it tends to be a much more complicated and involved process than pre-qualification.  For pre-approval, potential borrowers will complete a mortgage application and supply the lender with all the documentation necessary for them to complete an extensive examination of your credit and finances.  After this analyzation, the lender can tell you the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved, meaning that you will have a more concrete idea of what homes you can look for.  With pre-approval, potential borrowers then receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact loan amount, even if the potential Buyer hasn’t yet found a property they’re interested in.  Pre-approval usually happens after finding a home on which to make an offer, but it can be done during the Home Search.  Doing this step earlier can actually give potential buyers an advantage with a potential seller, because it’s one less step that must be completed for the contract to continue.  Once a buyer has found the home they are wanting to purchase, they only need to fill in the property information and they are ready to proceed with funding.

 

Pre-Qualification

Pre-qualification is the initial step in the mortgage process, and it should be done prior to beginning the Home Search.  The process of getting pre-qualified allows you to discuss any goals or needs you may have with your lender, and your lender can explain your various options and give his or her recommendations.  The pre-qualification process begins by supplying your lender with your overall financial situation, including debt, income, and assets.  The lender then analyzes your situation and can give you an idea of the mortgage amount you will likely qualify for.  Often, the pre-qualification process can be done simply, quickly, and over the phone or online.  The reason that this step should be done before the home search begins is because it allows buyers to look only at homes in their price range.  Often, without prequalification, a Buyer will fall in love with a home outside of their price range, and will subsequently be let down by every home that comes on the market, no matter how perfect or lovely the home may be. 

 

Restrictive Covenants

Private restrictions limiting the use of real property. Restrictive covenants are created by deed and may "run with the land," binding all subsequent purchasers of the land, or may be "personal" and binding only between the original seller and Buyer. The determination whether a covenant runs with the land or is personal is governed by the language of the covenant, the intent of the parties, and the law in the State where the land is situated. Restrictive covenants that run with the land are encumbrances and may affect the value and marketability of title. Restrictive covenants may limit the density of buildings per acre, regulate size, style or price range of buildings to be erected, or prevent particular businesses from operating or minority groups from owning or occupying homes in a given area. (This latter discriminatory covenant is unconstitutional and has been declared unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court.)

 

Survey

A map or plat made by a licensed surveyor showing the results of measuring the land with its elevations, improvements, boundaries, and its relationship to surrounding tracts of land. A survey is often required by the lender to assure him that a Building is actually sited on the land according to its legal description.

 

Underwriting

The process by which a lender decides whether to make a loan to a potential home Buyer based on an in-depth analysis of credit, employment, assets, and other factors and the weighing of this risk to an appropriate rate, term, and loan amount.

 

Zoning Ordinances

Zoning ordinances are the regulations set forth by local government that dictate what kind of property use can be utilized within a certain property.  For instance, some zoning restrictions will prevent property being utilized as farm land.  Zoning ordinances also are regulatory forces regarding Building permits and what kind of improvements can be made to property.

 

While this isn't a complete list of every term that a Buyer will be exposed to during the Home Search and purchase process, it provides a basic knowledge of terms, at the least.  It is important for homebuyers to ask questions during the process, if ever they feel confused about what is happening or like things are too moving too fast.  Choose an agent that you are comfortable with and who suits your personality.  During the lending process, too, it is important that you choose a lender with whom you feel comfortable with and who gave you the best options for your situation.  Never be afraid to ask questions, because professionals in the industry know that there is a lot to know.  They have no problem helping you along the way.

Your Guide to Winter Weather Preparedness

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Your Guide to Winter Weather Preparedness

 

Winter weather can strike quickly and fiercely, and it can create an array of issues for homeowners.  When a winter storm causes a power outage, however, things can turn costly and dangerous very quickly.  The most important thing one can do to keep safe during a winter storm and/or power outage is to be prepared.  Here are some things you can do to make sure that you will stay safe and warm.

 

 


Keep these things on hand… And if you don’t have any, get some!

 

Prescriptions and Common Medications

 

If any member of your home takes medication daily, you will want to be sure, first and foremost, that you will not run out of the medications, should inclement weather strike.  It’s also a good idea to keep common over-the-counter medications on hand, just in case you should need them while you are stuck at home.

 

Stock Up on Food

 

It’s important that you have enough food at home to last you at least three days, should a storm leave you stranded at home or cause a power outage.  If the power goes out, make sure that you have a sufficient supply of food that doesn’t need to be cooked before it is consumed. 

If you want to cook while your power is out, and you want to do so with a camping stove or other appliance outside of your kitchen, it is imperative that you take the camping stove outside to cook your meal. 

 

Stock Up on Water

 

To plan for how much water to have on hand in the case of a power outage, account for one gallon per person per day, not including cooking or hygiene purposes.

 

Back-Up Power

Should a storm knock out your power, you should have a back-up source of electricity, if it is financially feasible for you to do so.  If you use a generator, however, keep it outside, and NEVER bring it inside your house or garage.  If you are planning on using a generator, be sure that you have the proper length of outdoor extension cord to bring the power into your house. 

 

Flashlights, Batteries, & Candles

 

Make sure that you have a surplus of batteries, and that you have enough flashlights and battery-operated lamps to get you through.  Flashlights and battery-operated lamps are a lot safer than candles, so be sure that you have enough of them.  Also, gather them and store them in a handy place before the bad weather hits.  Should you run out of batteries, use candles as a last resort.  Exercise all safety precautions when burning candles.  Never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything flammable, keep them out of reach of pets and children, and never leave them burning overnight.

 

Keep a Weather Radio on Hand & Know the Terms

 

If you constantly are checking the weather on your cell phone during a power outage, you will quickly drain your power and have no way to restore it.  To monitor the weather without draining your cell phone battery, purchase a weather radio and check it occasionally for any updates to the forecast.  Here are the weather terms often used during a winter storm and what they mean, for those of you who might not know:

Winter Storm Outlook – Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.

Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.

Winter Storm Watch – Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.

Winter Storm Warning – Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

 

Buy De-Icer and Salt Ahead of Time

 

Keep a stock of salt and de-icer spray on hand in case of icy or snowy conditions.  Even the slightest bit of ice can lead to injury, so it’s better to keep it on hand than to be caught without it.

 

Fire Extinguisher

 

Be sure that your home has a fire extinguisher on hand (that is not past its expiration date).  If the power outage should lead to a fire, for whatever reason, you will be happy that you have it.

 

Heat packs

 

Buy yourself a large pack of heat packs before the storm, in case you lose power and heat.  They can keep the blood flow going, keep you comfortable, and they’re great to stick in your socks or mittens!

 

 

Prepare!

 

Ease of Access

 

Before a storm hits, you should gather all the supplies you may need, as well as the ones you just purchased, and store them in an easily-accessible location.  This way, you won’t be fumbling around in the dark looking for flashlights and batteries before you take the precautions necessary in a winter power outage.

 

Make Sure Carbon Monoxide Detectors Are Working

 

The risk for carbon monoxide poisoning increases drastically in the bitter cold and during winter power outages.  NEVER turn to alternative forms of heating; their use often results in carbon monoxide poisoning or house fires.  If you are without power and your home is cold, contact your local emergency services to find a local community center that is offering warm lodging, rather than trying to heat your home in an unsafe way.

 

Fully Charge Your Electronics

 

Devices like your cell phone or tablets should be fully charged before a winter storm hits, so that if the power goes out, you are ahead of the game.  If at all possible, purchase a portable charger and be sure that it is fully charged, as well, so that you can extend the life of your cell phone’s charge.  Your cell phone can be a great tool to have in a winter storm, so that you can keep an eye on conditions, keep up on when power will be restored, and call for help should an emergency situation arise. 

 

Cozy Up!

 

Have a supply of warm blankets and sleeping bags set aside in case you lose heat to your home.  Having these handy, layer them, and stay under them for as long as possible to keep yourself warm.

Sleep together!  The more body heat under a blanket, the better!

Dress in layers to preserve your own body heat.

 

Garage Door

 

Find out how to manually open your garage door before the winter weather hits, especially if that is the primary way that you get in and out of your house.

 

Turn Off Electronics

 

As a precaution, you should turn off and unplug any electronics that do not need to be on before a winter storm hits.  This will help protect your devices in case the power surges.  If your power is already out, and your devices are still plugged in, unplug them.  It’s very common for the power to surge before it is restored fully and back to normal. 


Clean & Inspect Chimney

 

If your home has a chimney, clean and inspect it fully before a winter storm hits, especially if you plan on using it to help heat your home.  An improperly-kept chimney can lead to fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you burn wood to either heat your home or burn in your fireplace, cover your wood pile well before a winter storm hits, so that it can remain dry but accessible.

 

 

Winter Weather/Power Outage Hacks

 

Trap the Heat

 

Even if you are using a generator to heat your home, shut the vents for rooms you don’t use, shut the doors, and lay a towel against the crack at the bottom.  This will help you conserve fuel by heating your house quicker, thus allowing you to turn off the generator faster. 

 

Avoid Frozen Pipes

 

Here is a list of ways to prevent your pipes from freezing in the winter.  Should you lose heat, turn your faucets on a slow drip.

 

Perishable Items

 

After 24 hours, the food in your refrigerator may be compromised.  After 48, the food in your freezer may be compromised.  However, given that this is a winter storm, you have some options to save that food.  Packing refrigerated and frozen foods in ice can help you keep them cooler, longer, so keep a cooler and a few bags of ice on hand.  Pack your food in the cooler with ice, and store the cooler outside.  If the temperatures are below freezing, your ice should last quite a long time.  If the temperatures rise above freezing, your ice will last a long time, as well, but it is a good idea that you occasionally check to see if it needs more, in that case.

 

Drink Coffee! …Or tea! …Or hot chocolate!

 

The important thing is that you occasionally drink a hot beverage.  Drinking a hot beverage raises your body’s core temperature, which helps keep your extremities, especially your fingers and toes, warm. 

 

Cardio to Fight the Chill

 

When you feel yourself becoming very chilled, try doing five minutes’ worth of jumping jacks or high knees.  This increased blood flow helps warm your body’s core temperature.  Be sure not to do so much that you sweat, thus dampening your clothes, as that will lead to you being even colder when your heart rate normalizes again.

 

Know When to Close the Curtains

 

Opening your curtains on a sunny day can bring natural heat into your home.  Even during the winter months, open your curtains when the sun is shining and shut them as it begins to go down, trapping the heat inside.

To really help trap that heat, consider hanging quilts or blankets over your curtain rods during a power outage.  This will help keep the heat in your home.

 

Park Facing East

 

Before a snow or ice storm hits, park your car with your windshield facing east, if at all possible.  This will allow the morning sun to hit your windshield, and it may make your car-clearing project a little easier after the snow or ice hits.

 

Gas Up Your Car

 

You always want to make sure that your car has a full tank of gas before a winter storm, for a number of reasons.  For instance, if you are driving, and you get stuck in a winter storm or in traffic, you will want enough gas to get you home and keep you warm through the ordeal.  Also, a full tank of gas adds some weight to your vehicle, which, in the case of a snow storm, can make your vehicle a lot easier to manage. 

You should also be carrying a winter weather emergency kit in your car.  For some guidance in regards to what is best to keep in these kits, click here.

 

 

As with all of the tips and lists that we post, this is not a completely comprehensive instruction manual, but rather a guide to give you an idea of what to do.  If you experience an emergency, do not hesitate to contact your local emergency services immediately.  Always exercise every safety precaution, and thoroughly read through any instruction manual that came along with any of your equipment.

2017 St. Louis Housing Forecast

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

2017 St. Louis Real Estate Forecast

 

2016 was a great year for real estate, and, as we look ahead to 2017, there are general predictions that can be made, both nationally and locally.  While national trends always have an effect on local markets, that doesn’t mean that what happens nationally will apply to anyone’s local market across the board.  However, to better understand and expect what’s to come in your local market, it’s important to keep in mind what’s happening nationally.

 

 

Realtor.com® has presented a comprehensive list of expectations for the 2017 national housing market.  In this forecast, they have indicated some important trends.  Over the last few years, the real estate market has been growing rapidly.  This trend is expected to slow in 2017, but, although that seems alarming to the state of the housing market, it actually indicates that the market is finally stabilizing.  The national real estate market is expected to slow in 2017, but it is also expected to maintain moderate growth.  Nationally, home prices are expected to increase 3.9%, and existing home sales are expected to increase 1.9%.  These are both great announcements for sellers, because it translates to the fact that sellers will be, generally, getting more money for their homes in the coming year.  For buyers, there may be indications that the time to Buy in the US is earlier in the year, because interest rates are expected to reach 4.5% this year.  Realtor.com® is also forecasting that home ownership rates will stabilize at 63.5% after bottoming out at 63.9% in 2016.  They are also forecasting that new home sales are expected to grow 10%

 

There are certain trends that are driving the 2017 market predictions.  For instance, there will be a surge in buyers, leading to a seller’s market, due to the fact that many people will be looking to Buy homes this year.  There are two major demographics expecting to drive the market, Millennials and Baby Boomers.  Millennials have reached an age where they are thinking about marriage and children, leading them to desire home ownership over rental.  Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are thinking about downsizing, now that they are looking toward retirement and their kids have grown and left their homes.  These two huge groups will comprise the majority of the market this year.  Also predicted by Realtor.com® is that there are expected to be fewer homes on the market, leading to fast-moving markets.

The above information, predictions, and statistics all provided by Realtor.com® (http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/top-real-estate-trends-2017/)

 

Looking forward to 2017 on a local level is best done by looking back to the numbers for the end of 2016 by St. Louis REALTORS®.  Anyone close to the housing market can tell you that November is historically a slower month in home sales, but that was far from the truth for November 2016, when home sales jumped an incredible 31%.  Comparatively, 1,438 homes sold in November 2016, while in 2015, 1,094 homes sold.  Even with strong sales, home prices remained affordable at $164,500, despite a slight increase from the previous November, when the median sales price was $150,000.  The amount of time that homes were on the market also decreased from 172 to 117 in November 2016 from November 2015.

 

According to John Gormley, St. Louis REALTORS® CEO, there are two trends that drove this jump in sales for November 2016.  St. Louis is maintaining a level of affordable housing, and buyers are also concerned about rising interest rates, driving them to take the plunge and enter the market.  “Those two drivers served as the underpinnings of our whopping double-digit home sales growth in November.  We’ve discussed the remarkable housing affordability in St. Louis throughout 2016.  Obviously, buyers have been listening and paying attention to the Federal Reserve’s public comments about raising interest rates,” says Gormley. (http://www.stlrealtors.com/wp-content/uploads/November2016HousingReportpressrelease.pdf).  As indicated by the national predictions, it is likely that these circumstances will continue driving trends for 2017, as well.

 

As for the 2017 outlook, it looks strong, but if there’s anything that November 2017 taught us, it’s that sometimes the best predictions can be wrong.  “It’s true no one knows exactly what interest rates will do in the coming year, but there’s a good bet they won’t be going down.  So, if you’ve been waiting to Buy a home, it’s time to jump off the fence as mortgage rates are expected to increase at least two or three times next year,” Gormley continues.  “What that means for buyers in St. Louis is that it’s time to engage a St. Louis REALTOR® to find your home and lock in the best rate now, so you can Buy the home you want at a price you can afford.” (http://www.stlrealtors.com/wp-content/uploads/November2016HousingReportpressrelease.pdf).

The above information, predictions, and statistics all provided by St. Louis REALTORS® (http://www.stlrealtors.com/wp-content/uploads/November2016HousingReportpressrelease.pdf)

 

 

How to Avoid Frozen Pipes in Your Home

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

 

Every Winter, it happens.  The temperature outside drops, and an unfortunate person wakes up to a flooded basement, kitchen, or bathroom.  A burst pipe in one’s home can cause thousands of dollars in damage, in addition to a huge mess and loss of important documents, memorabilia, and keepsakes. 

 


 

If you are planning a trip over the colder winter months, it is so important that you remember to turn off your home’s main water valve while you’re gone.  Frozen pipes can happen at any time, and they can prove extremely costly to a homeowner, even when found and noticed very quickly.  Standing water in one’s home for a number of days during an absence is something to avoid at all costs, and that’s why it’s suggested that you simply turn off your home’s water valve any time you will be leaving for more than a day.

 

Although it may seem like there is little that can be done to prevent frozen pipes when the weather turns bitter cold, there are some signs you can look out for that may alert you that your pipes are at risk of freezing or are in the process of freezing.  The most important and most effective way of predicting a frozen pipe is a change in water pressure.  If a faucet or toilet is flowing at a lower pressure than normal, it’s likely a sign that your pipes are freezing or have already frozen.  If you notice this happening in your home, it’s important to try to thaw the pipe at risk with some of the tips offered below. 

 

You should know the risk level for frozen pipes within your own home.  For instance, older homes are often poorly insulated, leading to a much higher risk of burst water pipes.  This risk becomes even higher if the old home is situated over an uninsulated crawl space.  It is important to know what steps you can take to prevent frozen pipes, as well as what to do in the event of a frozen pipe within your home.

 


Wrap the Pipe

 

You can wrap any non-insulated pipes in insulation foam or heating tape to give them extra protection from the cold temperatures.  Both products are relatively inexpensive, especially when weighed against the potential costs of a burst pipe in your home.

 

If you find yourself in a situation where your pipes are already at risk of freezing, or if you notice a change in your water pressure, you will want to act quickly, and a trip to the hardware store to purchase insulation foam or heat tape is not in your best interest due to the time-sensitive nature of the situation.  In a case such as this, there are some quick actions you can take to prevent the pipe from freezing completely.  The goal is to cease any further freezing as quickly as possible, and then work on thawing any freezing that may have already occurred. 

 

Newspaper as Insulation

 

If you have no heat tape or insulation foam on hand, but have noticed a pipe in your home is freezing, wrapping your pipe in newspaper can be an adequate insulator in a pinch.  It can create a nice barrier between the cold temperatures and the pipe. 

 

Foam Board Insulation

 

Another adequate insulator when you are in a pinch is foam poster board for large areas that need extra insulation.  Placing the foam board around a section of pipes that are at-risk of freezing can be the difference between a frozen pipe and a thawed pipe.  While this is certainly not the recommended way to insulate your pipes, it is certainly worth a shot in a pinch.

 

Use a Hair Dryer

 

If you see a pipe freezing, grab a hair dryer and an extension cord and begin blowing hot air on the pipe of concern. 

 

Never, never, use a torch or open flame to thaw your pipes.  Even the smallest ember can ignite and smolder for days.  Many homes have burned to the ground as a result of this method of thawing frozen pipes; don’t let yours be the next statistic.  A hairdryer will get the job done just fine.

 

Use a Space Heater

 

If you notice that your pipes are freezing, plug in a space heater to begin raising the temperature in the area where the at-risk pipes are.  Remember, your goal is not to make the space comfortable and cozy, your goal is to raise the temperature above freezing.  As with the use of a space heater at any time, follow the recommended safety guidelines for your particular model, and keep the heater and cord away from anything that could ignite.

 

Open Cabinet Doors

 

If you find that the temperature is drastically colder under your sink than in your home, it’s not a bad idea to open the cabinet doors to allow the temperature around the pipes to rise, especially on those particularly cold nights.  This simple act can prevent a flooded kitchen or bathroom.

 

Turn Up the Heat

 

If you are at-risk for frozen pipes, especially if you live in an older home with poor insulation, it’s a good idea to turn up your thermostat during the bitter cold.  A higher utility bill is certainly cheaper than the cost of a frozen pipe.

 

Keep Your Garage Door Closed

 

By keeping your garage door closed, you are allowing the temperature inside it to rise more than the outside temperature, which can prevent any pipes around that area from freezing.  Pipes don’t need to be toasty warm to prevent freezing; they only need to maintain a temperature above freezing.

 

Check Your Heat Tape Annually

 

If you have insulated your pipes with heat tape or foam installation, it is imperative that you check your insulation once a year.  Make sure that the insulation you have installed isn’t peeling, falling off, or showing signs of damage in any way.  If you notice that there are some trouble spots with the insulation you have around your pipes, be sure to replace and repair them.

 

Take Necessary Precautions on Vulnerable Outdoor Faucets


The biggest risk every home has for a frozen pipe is within the outdoor faucets.  Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you have already disconnected your hoses from your outdoor faucet.  However, there is a bit more that you can do to protect those pipes in addition to disconnecting your hose.  Here’s a guide for safeguarding your outdoor faucets:


  1.  
    1. If your home’s outdoor faucet is equipped with an indoor shut-off valve, shut it.
    2. Place a bucket under the drain cap and open the cap to begin draining the water.
    3. Go outside and turn on the faucet until it runs dry.
    4. Once the faucet is cleared, turn off the exterior faucet and close the drain cap inside the house.


Following these steps will ensure that your exterior faucet has no water in the sillcock or hose bibb.  If there is water in those places, it is likely to freeze, which will cause the change in water pressure that leads to busted pipes.

 

If your home is not equipped with an indoor shut-off valve, the best thing you can do to safeguard the faucet from freezing is to make sure that the faucet does not drip.  Even a slow drip can freeze, causing a blockage in the hose bib.

 

A frozen pipe can lead to thousands of dollars in damage to a home.  Knowing your home's risk level, as well as knowing what to do in the event that a pipe freezes in your home, can be invaluable information to have.  The more prepared you are, the better your chances are of preventing damage to your home's pipes at all.


Tips for Preventing Water Damage to Your Home's Foundation

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


Tips for Preventing Water Damage to Your Home’s Foundation

 

Winter is coming, bringing with it many dangers to your home and property.  The cold temperatures, fallen leaves, and dreaded winter precipitation can become a combination to wreak havoc on your property. 

 

It’s so important to make sure that your home is equipped with a proper drainage system.  Keeping up on your home’s drainage systems can help you avoid major damage to your home’s foundation.  Here are some tasks you can complete to help make sure that water is properly draining from your home and prevent any future damage.



 

Locate your water shut-off valve

 

The least you can do to avoid any potential water damage that may be happening to your home is to know where your water shut-off valve is, so that if something catastrophic happens, such as a pipe bursting, you can quickly prevent any further damage.  It’s important for all members of your household to know where the shut-off valve is and how to use it.  It’s always better to be prepared for the worst than to have to deal with the consequences of your unpreparedness.


Clear and clean your gutters

 

Clogged gutters can mean a lot of water is making its way to parts of your yard and home that should not be exposed to very much water at all.  It is so important that you don’t wait until spring to clean out your gutters, because winter brings snow, ice, and rain, which mean a lot of water around your home.  The best way to make sure that your gutters are functioning optimally is to first clear dirt and debris from the gutters, then rinse them with a hose, and finally spray the hose through all the downspouts to make sure that they’re clear.  You also should be checking for any damage to your gutters or leaks that are evident, so that you can get those issues fixed before the winter weather arrives.  Ensure that your splashpans divert water at least three feet away from your home and that the water is on a slope such that it will flow away from your house.

 

Check the soil around your home

 

Keep an eye out around your home for signs of soil erosion or areas that remain wet for extended periods of time.  Finding an area like that near your house can mean that your gutters aren’t functioning properly or that your yard is not draining properly.  If this water is near your foundation, your home is becoming increasingly more vulnerable to water damage. 

 

Vegetation

 

Vegetation around your home is a bit like a double-edged sword.  For one thing, the vegetation can do a lot of good for preventing excess water around your home, sucking up any excess moisture that may otherwise find its way into your foundation.  On the flip side of that, however, having any plant too close to your home can lead to extra pressure on your foundation from the roots of that plant wanting to spread.  A good rule of thumb is to plant the vegetation the same distance away from your home as the plant will grow tall.  For instance, if you are planting a shrub that can grow up to three feet tall, plant the shrub no closer than three feet from your home. 

 

Check your roof for signs of damage

 

It is important that, before the snow starts Building up on top of your home, you check your roof for signs of damage.  If you see any damaged or missing shingles, it is imperative that you get them fixed as soon as possible, especially when they are located in the valleys that connect the different slopes of the roof.  Water can seep into your home through those damaged shingles, and, although the damage it will cause will not be to your foundation, it will still do damage.  Also, be sure to check the metal flashing around chimneys, vent pipes, and roof joints for any signs of damage or evidence that the flashing is beginning to pull away from the house. 

 

Check wood siding for signs of damage and rot

 

The minimum amount of space you should have between wood siding and the ground is 8 inches.  This is because any less space can risk moisture from the ground reaching the wood, leading to mold, mildew, and rot.  If damage occurs to the wood siding, you now have openings where water can penetrate, which can drip down toward your foundation and grow mold inside your home.  It’s also important to clear the leaves and sticks that fell before the winter arrives, because that debris will hold moisture and inch closer and closer to the siding on your home, risking water penetration.  Be sure to also check to make sure that your home’s siding and vulnerable areas are properly painted or sealed, since that can be your best defense for prevention.

 

 

8 Ways to Give Gratitude this Thanksgiving

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Ways to Give Gratitude this Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving is our next up-and-coming holiday, so it’s time we started thinking about ways that we can show our gratitude to others this year.  After all, it’s called Thanksgiving for a reason.

 


Thank You Cards

Sending thank you cards is arguably a dying art.  It’s one, however, that we should desperately be trying to save.  A handwritten thank you note can be such a wonderful thing to receive, especially when it comes from an unexpected source.  Consider these thank you card ideas for this Thanksgiving season:

Make a list of people who deserve thanks.  Look for these folks in the monotony of everyday life.  The mail carrier who delivers your mail no matter the weather, your trash service men, a family member or friend who often shows you kindness.  Whoever they are, write a thank you note to them.  It will mean more than you can even realize.  If you have children, get them involved in this activity as well.  Prompt them with some suggestions of who you chose to send thank you notes to; this should get them thinking about those in their lives who may usually be overlooked.

In addition to personal thank you notes, consider coming up with a generic thank you note to keep in your wallet or purse to hand out to anyone who shows you or someone else kindness, consideration, or helpfulness.  When the retail worker is especially friendly to you, hand them a note before you leave the store.  If you see someone doing something kind for someone else, hand them one.  Not only are you showing your own gratitude for those who show kindness, but you are encouraging further acts of kindness.  You can even include this on your card: “Please pass this on to someone you see showing kindness during this season!”

 

Those Who Serve

The first responders in your community work crazy hours, sacrifice time with their families, and put others before themselves.  If anyone deserves a “Thank you,” it’s them.  To thank your first responders, consider dropping off a baked good to their office while on your way to your own Thanksgiving celebrations.  Baked goods are a wonderful treat to give; they cost very little to make and are handmade, making them delightfully personal gifts.  First responders, like many others, are working on a holiday reserved for family and friends, and they have committed to this career because of their devotion to their community.  Send a small “Thank You” their way!

So many men and women serving in our Armed Forces spend the holidays away from home, missing precious time with friends and family, and often enduring loneliness and many other issues relating to their service.  There are also so many veterans who have returned home to fall on hard times and are currently fighting their own battles, often related to their service.  What better way to give back this season than sending something their way to let them know that they are appreciated and cared about.  Click here to find a link to Operation Gratitude, an organization that works for both active and inactive military members.  The name couldn't be more fitting, am I right?

 

Teachers: Get the Kids Involved!

It’s no secret that teachers are not compensated properly for the work they do for the future of our country: the education of our children.  It’s traditional to give your child’s teacher a gift around Christmas time, but consider doing an additional gift on the holiday reserved for gratitude.  For this one, however, mix it up!  It’s great for a parent to pick out something special for a teacher on Christmas, but for a teacher, have the child in your life come up with the idea of how to show their teacher that he or she is appreciated.  This gift does not have to be anything big or expensive.  Even giving your child 5 dollars at the dollar store and helping them choose the gift for their teacher would be suitable! For a little extra “thanks,” have your child write a thank you note on one side of a card’s interior, and write your own note on the opposite side.  It’s important for our teachers to know that we are grateful for their hard work!

 

Give your Time

Whatever your circumstances, there is something you can do to help spread gratitude this season.  Find a local organization that runs on volunteer work, and offer your time to them as a way to help.  Giving your time costs you absolutely nothing, but can do a world of good for an organization working to help others.  Your local food bank, homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or animal shelter are all great organizations that you could choose to volunteer at!

 

Make a Little Extra

During this season, consider occasionally making a little extra when you’re fixing tea, coffee, cookies, or dinner.  Invite over an elderly neighbor or lonely friend, or bring it to them.  Enjoy a little bit of it with them, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes, it can make a world of difference to someone who is facing loneliness at a time reserved for loving those closest to us.  Once again, it costs you very little, but it could make a world of difference for someone who may be struggling more than you know.

 

Donation in Lieu of Host Gift

Before you head to your own Thanksgiving celebration this year, you may be thinking about what gift to give to your host or hostess as a thank you for putting on the dinner.  Consider giving a donation to a charity you know that they support in their name & giving them a receipt or note with it, explaining the gift.  If your host is an animal lover, consider donating to your local no-kill shelter; if they are passionate about the outdoors, consider giving to the National Park Service.  Chances are, they will cherish this gift much more than the bottle of wine you would’ve brought instead, no matter how much they love wine.  ;)

 

Make Care Packages for the Homeless

Although the homeless are in need all year ‘round, it is often even more difficult during the winter, for a number of reasons, from loneliness to the bitter cold.  Consider making up small boxes or bags with necessities inside and carrying them in your car to hand out when passing a homeless person by a store or in the street.  Many necessities can be purchased at the dollar store for a very little total, but they could make a world of difference to someone encountering the struggles of homelessness and poverty.  Some things to include in your packages are:

-Hat -Gloves -Socks -Toothbrush -Toothpaste -Bottled Water -Soap/Shampoo Combo -Deodorant -Comb -Tissues -Toilet Paper

 

Give Kindness

The last thing you can do for others during this Thanksgiving season is the easiest, least expensive, and arguably, the most important.  Work hard to be kind and considerate of others during this time.  The holidays can be immensely stressful; the stores get busier, people are stressed out, and there is so much to be done within the next month or so.  However, putting the effort in to keep your frustrations at bay, being understanding of others (even if you may want to be upset), and conducting small acts of kindness all can make a huge difference to the way others feel this holiday season.  You never know what another person is dealing with in their own life, so try to combat rudeness with a politeness, fight impatience with patience of your own, and give a smile when someone else gives you a frown.  Hold the door open for others, compliment the woman whose scarf you adore, and ask the retail worker what their holiday plans are.  A little extra kindness can make a world of difference.  It will make you feel better, and, chances are, it will make another person reconsider their mood. 

 

All in all, this season is about so much more than shopping, turkey, and pies.  Help yourself and others get into the true spirit of the season by giving back to your community in whatever way you can, even if it’s just the flash of a smile to a stranger.  Spread gratitude this season!


Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

 

The weather is beginning to get colder, and as it does, the threat of winter weather looms ever closer.  Everyone knows that before a winter storm hits, they've got to go to the store and pick up milk, bread, and eggs to survive,  but there are more things you can be doing right now, before that imminent occurance is upon us.  The Fall is a great time to get your home ready to brave the cold weather, whether you're worried about making your life easier come Springtime cleanup, you'd like to keep your house warmer this Winter, or you are looking to avoid a home disaster following a Winter storm.  So, we present you with this list of things you can do now, before that cold snap sets in, to help you with whatever your concerns are for this coming Winter.

 


Clean the Gutters

 

When Winter hits, the Midwest tends to be hit with a mix of wet and frozen precipitation.  It's important to remember that even the frozen precipitation turns to liquid at some point, and as it does, the liquid will drain to your gutters, down the spout, and be deposited a distance from your home and in a manner that will drain away from your home.  That, at least, is true if you have your gutter system set up properly.  Now is the time of year to unclog your gutters to prevent water overflow.  Also double check to effectiveness of your gutter drainage system to ensure that the water is being dispensed away from your home (and that it won’t make its way back toward your home down a decline).

 

For proper drainage around your home, it is important to fill in any holes that have developed around your foundation to prevent melting snow and ice finding its way toward your home.

 

Seal Your Window & Door Frames

 

Unsealed window and door frames can lead to a striking amount of heat loss during the colder months of the year.  To ensure that your home isn’t losing significant heat during this Winter, check your home for air leaks, and seal the problem areas with caulk.  Adding weather stripping is a great choice for cutting back on air leaks, as well, and it’s cost efficient, at less than $5 a roll.

 

Protect Your Roof

 

Snow and ice accumulation on trees can become incredibly heavy.  To ensure that your trees won’t crash down on your home from the weight, trim your trees before Winter hits.  When doing so, you should be trimming any limbs that hang above your home, as well as any that are visibly dead. 

 

To help prevent any potential damage to your home or roof, inspect your roof and replace or repair any damage to the roof or shingles.

 

Service Your Furnace

 

When the cold weather arrives, HVAC service providers are extremely busy, and there is often a bit of a wait to have any services performed, should you encounter a problem with your furnace.  To avoid the hassle and stress, and to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible, it’s a great idea to have your furnace serviced now.  This increases your chances of making it through the winter months without any major furnace issues.

 

For maximum efficiency, it is also the time of year to change your furnace’s air filter.  This keeps your system running properly, especially as the air dries out, increasing the amount of dust in the air in your home.

 

Seal Your Driveway

 

This task is one that is often not suggested, but it is a great tip for cold weather preparations.  The melting and freezing of snow and ice often leads to the breaking down of asphalt and concrete, causing holes and cracks in roadways, sidewalks, and driveways.  Applying a layer of sealant to your driveway in the Fall can significantly decrease your chances of encountering damage, because the sealant creates a protective layer that prohibits the water to penetrate the concrete or asphalt.  This project is fairly quick and easy, and the supplies are easily obtainable at any home improvement store.

 

Service Summer and Winter Equipment

 

To maintain optimum performance of your lawn equipment that is utilized in the Summer and Spring months, it’s important that you drain the gas and oil from your lawn equipment.  On Fall and Winter equipment like your leaf blower and snowblower, perform your tune-ups now in the Fall, and be sure to turn on the equipment before you need it to make sure that it starts easily and is in optimum working condition. 

 

Roll Up & Store Hoses

 

Before freezing weather hits, remember to unhook any hoses, drain them, and turn off water to your outdoor spigots.  Also, winterize your sprinkler system, if your home is equipped with one.  Freezing water lines can create a nightmare of problems, but these simple steps can help you avoid any in your home.

 

Have Chimney Cleaned & Inspected

 

Having a woodburning fireplace or furnace is wonderful in the Winter months, providing your home with cheap heating.  They can also be incredibly dangerous if not maintained properly.  It is important to have your chimney serviced every year to avoid excessive build-up of soot, which can consequentially cause a fire in your home.  If you aren’t sure how to properly perform the cleaning and inspection, contact a professional to have them do it for you.  You will still save money on heating this Winter by burning wood for heat, and you will avoid any tragedies.

 

On a side note, if your home is heated, in part or in full, by a wood burning fireplace or furnace, be sure that the wood you are storing outdoors is at least fifteen feet from your home in order to prevent a termite infestation.

 

Drain Hot Water Heater

 

Sediment can build up and clog the pipes of your water heater, and draining your system to get rid of some of that build-up can increase your water heater’s energy efficiency by up to fifty percent!  It’s beneficial by increasing the lifespan of your equipment, and it saves you money on your energy bill… A true win-win!

 

Care for Your Lawn

 

As soon as the weather turns frigid, we all start longing for the warmth, sunshine, and life that Spring will bring.  To make your Spring cleaning a little easier this year, consider prepping your lawn for the warmer months now, before it turns cold.  You can aerate, fertilize, and seed your lawn now, and it can actually very beneficial to do so.  The precipitation that comes in Winter will help the nutrients penetrate your soil effectively, meaning that your lawn will be richer and fuller in the Spring.  Also consider mowing your leaves instead of raking and burning them, turning them to a mulch that will break down and become a natural fertilizer compost that costs you nothing! 

 

If your home is equipped with a wood burning fireplace or furnace, consider this tip as well: Saving the ashes from this Winter.  If you have a vegetable garden, till it this Fall, spread the ashes over it as Winter continues, enabling the precipitation to soak the nitrogen into your soil.  You will be amazed at the richness added to your soil!  If you don’t have a vegetable garden, consider spreading the ashes in your flowerbeds for a wonderful fertilizer that will help you have more blooms!

 

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

Reversing your ceiling fans in the Fall can help with heating costs in the Winter.  Rather than blowing air downward, the fans will keep the air in your home moving, which is a big help to the comfort level in your home, considering that heat rises.

 

 

Small Projects to Add Curb Appeal to Your Home

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

Small Projects to Add Curb Appeal to Your Home


Everyone wants a home that looks stylish and inviting.  Some simple DIY improvements can make a huge difference to the curb appeal of a home.  Curb appeal is hugely important to the sale of a home.  As they say, there's never a second chance to make a good first impression, and when it comes to potential buyers for the home you're looking to sell, they will first be seeing the outside of your home.  Here are some great ideas to help you bring the WOW factor out in your home. 


Paint Your Front Door

This trend is HUGELY popular right now, and if you choose to move forward with this project, your house will not only look updated, it will attract more eyes.  The matter of choosing a color is one of personal preference.  If you choose color, your front door will pop out from the home, making your house look more inviting.  If you choose a more neutral hue or even a grey, the contrast of the door compared to the outside of your home will draw the eyes, as well.  
Try out different colors on your home with the Paint My Place app, available here.




Paint Your Door Hardware

This can also be a great way to update your front door.  Almost anything is more modern than contractor's brass.  You will need to remove the hardware from the door when you are doing this, and if you plan on painting your door as well, you should paint while the door hardware is off, to avoid showing the old paint when you re-install the hardware (you're never going to get it in the exact same spot).  For this project, remember two things: 1. Clean the hardware very well before you paint; and 2: Prime your hardware before you paint it.  I suggest middle-grade primer and paint for both of those steps.  The metallic finish spraypaints would work beautifully for this project!

Sometimes, dinged up door handles and scratched up keyholes can be an ugly sight; what's worse, a door handle that looks dirty.  If you are looking to sell your home, think about this: you don't want a prospective Buyer to not want to touch your door handle as they walk into your home.  Walking into the home should be inviting; they should be imagining that space as their own.  They should not, however, want to wash their hands after they open the door.
 

Update Your House Numbers

This simple step can give your house an updated look and also serve to set it apart from the rest.  There are so many fonts available online, and there are a lot of very affordable ones!

To browse some unique house numbers that would add a little personality and flair to your home, click here.




Frame Your Front Door

Update the paint around your outer door frame as well, to make sure that the whole project is done equally, and it looks balanced.  If you're really handy, try installing moulding around the top of your door frame.  This adds a decorative element to your home, and can actually look incredibly elegant.



 

Add a Stylish Door Knocker
 
Another fairly affordable, easy project that can add a bit of flair to your home.  There are so many options out there for door knockers, from the classic to the eccentric, so you can use the door knocker as a way to give a little personal flair to your home.  However, you should make sure the knocker fits in with the theme you are going for with your home.  You should be able to stand in front of the door and feel how beautifully it fits, as well as stand on your curb, where you wouldn't even be able to see it anyway, and still think it fits beautifully, even when compared with the whole home, yard, and landscaping. 

Find unique door knockers here.



 

Buy New Porch Lights 
 
If the ones you have fit the look of your home, or you simply don't feel like you necessarily need an upgrade, simply take the time to thoroughly clean the ones you have.  Remove the dust and grime, and be completely surprised at the difference it makes.

Find a wide variety of porch lights, from modern to classic, here.
 

Buy a New Welcome Mat
 
You want your house to look clean and fresh when showing it to prospective buyers.  Don't think that your worn down, faded, old welcome mat won't make an impact on the way your home feels.  This is an inexpensive way to update your home, and everyone loves the front porch appeal!

You can find unique welcome mats here.
 

Faux Tile Your Concrete Front Porch
 
Select the stencil design you think would work best with your home, Buy the stain in a color you love, and get to work! You won't be able to believe how awesome your concrete looks. It won't be until after you finish that you realize how boring the plain concrete looked before.
You can browse stencil designs for concrete staining here.



Faux Runner Your Steps
 
If you have concrete steps, consider going with the concrete stain or paint with this project:  Painting a solid bar going up your steps, like a stair runner would.  This can be a beautiful alternative if you don't want to faux tile your porch, or if you don't think the look of faux tile would work with your home.  This option is much simpler; it is more easily adapted to the many looks a home can have.  Also, if you opt for stain, you won't need to Buy as much!

To browse concrete stain products and find some tips for staining concrete, click here.


Cover Exposed Foundation 
 
Since we're on the topic of concrete already, I'll talk about this one last thing.  Exposed foundation showing on your home is something that we tend to simply "look past" when looking at a home.  However, just because it gets passed over does not mean that it couldn't be improved upon.  Take that looked-past part of your home, and install stacked stone veneer panels over the exposed sections.  Now, your home has a beautiful accent rather than a section that gets ignored!

Check out some of your options for veneer panels here.


Add Faux Shutters to Your Windows

If your home already has faux shutters, consider updating them with a color that works well your new accented door!  If your home doesn't have them, consider installing some.  They can lend a pop of color to your home, just as the new front door color does, and they can make an ordinary-looking home look a little more cozy.

You can find a wide variety of styles and colors here.



 
 

Pressure Wash Everything
 
This makes such a huge difference to a home.  Sometimes, we don't even notice how dingy our homes have gotten.  Blame it on our busy lives; blame it on the fact that we saw the change happen gradually, dulling our ability to see it.  Wherever you place the blame, the same thing is true: your home needs a good washing.  The pressure washer makes things a lot quicker than doing this by hand.  If you don't have a pressure washer and have no one to borrow from, consider going to an equipment rental facility and renting one for the day.  Just a hint: these places are often closed on Sundays, so if you rent on Saturday, your return date is Monday, but because they are closed on Sunday, some places won't charge you for the extra day.

Don't have a pressure washer?  Rent one!  You can check out the varieties that Home Depot rents out here.


Hang Up Your Hose

If you don't have a nice way to hang your hose, consider even mounting a large decorative hook, like a plant holder hook, to a wooden pole and installing it next to your hose.  This will look so much nicer than that old cracked plastic hose hanger you had before, or worse yet, no hose hanger or reel at all!

Check out some of your options here.
 

Bring Out Your Green Thumb
 

If your house is going on the market in Spring, Summer, or Fall, plant flowers around your home.  If you haven't got much of a talent for gardening, be sure you are buying flowers that thrive in the conditions in which you are planting them.  Don't Buy Full Sun flowers for a shaded spot, because they will not fill out, and you'll never get all the flowers you want to see. 

If you are looking to go the easier route, do a little research into what flowers and plants are native to your area.  These plants will do well at your home, and they will require less work, because they are predisposed for your area's particular environment.

You can find your area's native plants here.



 

Be a Good Gardener

Make sure that while you are showing your house, you are keeping up with the weeding, the mowing, the watering, and the trimming.  Keeping that yard looking trim and tidy will, in turn, keep up your curb appeal game.  

Matching flower pots framing your front door, adding edging to your flower beds, installing hanging window planters, planting flower beds around your trees, layering plants to add dimension, and placing hanging planters on your porch are all good ways to add a little color and flare to your home!






Creating a theme that doesn't feel forced is the ultimate goal here, so even if you are one of those people who "doesn't have the eye for these things," remember this: you like what you like.  The things you like comprise your style.  Go with your gut when shopping, and Buy the things you really love.  It should all come together, and you'll soon be admiring the difference your improvements have made!

De-Clutter Your Home with These Tips!

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

De-Clutter Your Home with These Tips

It's Always a Good Time to Clean Up a Bit!


We've all been there- You have a space in your house that has gotten so cluttered, so messy, so "overgrown" with stuff, for lack of a better term, that just looking at that area of your home gives you a knot in your stomach.  We all want our homes to be organized, well-maintained, and free of junk we no longer use or need, but sometimes these things just get away from us.  When this happens, sometimes the anxiety we feel toward that messy space prohibits us from cleaning it up.  It seems like such a huge challenge to take on that we, with our busy day-to-day lives, push it to the back of our minds.  If we had a way to organize, de-clutter, and rid our homes of our no-longer needed possessions that would take less time, we might never let it get out-of-hand in the first place!  Here are some tips that should drastically cut down on the amount of time you put in to de-cluttering your home.  Plus, a little guidance is sometimes all you need to get motivated.  Fall cleaning, Spring cleaning, it's always a good time to straighten up a bit!


Questions to Ask Yourself 

While going through that cluttered space, ask yourself some questions of the things you unearth:

  • Is this something that I would Buy in a store if I saw it today?
    • This question is so important.  If you don't love it enough that you would Buy it again, there's no sense in hanging onto it.
  • Do I like this anymore?
    • This seems like a silly question to have to ask yourself, but sometimes you can be so used to looking at an item that you don't even recognize the fact that you no longer like it.
  • Do I use this anymore?
  • Do I have more of these items?
    • If you answer, "Yes" to this question, ask yourself, realistically, if you really that many of that item.
  • Would something else I own do the same job as this?
    • There's no need to keep items that do a job that can be done by other items you own.  They are serving no purpose but contributing to the mess.
  • If I keep this item, what item will I get rid of in its place?
    • Sometimes, it's hard to let things go.  If you find a cluttered space from which items need to go, but you find yourself wanting to keep the items you find, ask yourself this question.  You will find yourself ranking the items.  The lower on the list the item is, the closer it gets to the donation box or trash can.
  • Books and magazines: Realistically, will I ever read this again?
    • Tear out the recipe you were keeping the magazine for, and donate that book that you know you'll never read again.
  • In regards to bills, documents, and receipts: Will I need this come tax time? Am I going to return this item?
    • If the receipt is too old to even return the item or you are planning on keeping the item, you do not need to keep that receipt.  If you won't need to provide that document, receipt, or bill when tax time comes around again, get rid of it.
  • If it is clothes, jewelry, or shoes: Have I worn this in the last 12 months?
    • If you went through an entire season without wearing that blouse even once, it's time to let it go.
    • Seasonal wear, like winter coats, gloves, hats, and scarves- Did I wear it last year?
    • Seasonal wear, like swimsuits- Did I wear it last year?
      • Tip: If the elastic is losing its stretch on your swimsuit, get rid of it and treat yourself to a brand new suit next year!
  • Holiday items: Have I used this decoration in the past three years?
    • Holiday items, because we only get them out once a year, tend to pile up in storage areas.  Often there are boxes of holiday decorations that don't even get taken out of their spot in the storage area because we no longer decorate with them.  When it's holiday decorating time again, take out those extra boxes that haven't been used in three years or more, make sure there's not a special item enclosed in them, and put them in the car to be thrift store-bound!

Sometimes, it can be hard to let go of items, whether it be because we think we will use them again, or because we still like them, even though we truly know we will never use them again.  So much evidence points to clutter and mess being a huge stressor on individuals, causing damage in many aspects on our lives, from relationship troubles to the amount of free time that gets wasted while we are clearing clutter.  Clean house, Clean mind.  Let go of some items you have been holding onto for too long, and let the freeing feeling you get when they're gone be your motivations for keeping up with it!


Keep It Up!

Here are some tips to keep that space clear once you've successfully de-cluttered:

  • As you're de-cluttering, write down any organizational tools you think you could use that would help you keep things sorted and organized in the future
    • Those "mental notes" tend to get "lost" after we make them, but if you make a real note of the things you need, you're much more likely to actually purchase the items you need.
  • Deal with it as it comes in the door
    • When you take those receipts out of your wallet, pay those bills, or bring in the mail, actively put away the things you need to keep, and toss those you don't.  If you do it as it comes in the door, rather than piling it up to deal with later, you will find those piles are no longer appearing in your home.
  • One in, One out
    • When you bring home a new toy for the kids or a new shirt for yourself, take one less-used item out of your closet.  If you see that things are becoming overcrowded again, change that rule to One in, Two out.
  • Aggressively deal with piles
    • When you see that things are starting to pile up again, whether they be shoes in your mud room or paperwork on the desk, actively and aggressively go through them.  You'll feel so good once you do!
  • Always have a donation bag ready to be filled
    • This tip is so helpful, because if you keep this at the ready at all times, you will find yourself purging items much more often than you do without the donation bag ready.
  • Make de-cluttering a habit
    • Truth be told, it is so easy for clutter to build up in a home.  If you make a habit of actively sorting, pitching no-longer needed items, and donating gently-used items, you will find your home and mind clearer and happier.
Don't forget, there are people out there who can use your unused items! If the item is gently used, still in good shape, and still works, consider donating it rather than tossing it in the garbage.  You can cut down on your waste contribution, and you can give that item new life with someone who might just love it!

Research thrift stores in your area to find one that donates much of its profits to a charity you'd like to support, and feel even better about getting rid of the things you no longer need!

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The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group
Century 21 Advantage
103 S Main St
Columbia IL 62236
IL: 618.281.7621

138 Concord Plaza Dr
Saint Louis MO 63128
MO: 314.649.0221
Fax: 618.281.4311

Linda Frierdich is the area's premier real estate professional, offering services in St Louis, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Crestwood, Ballwin, Arnold, Fenton, Oakville, Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Valmeyer, Dupo, Belleville, O'Fallon, Mascoutah, Fairview Heights, Smithton, Ruma, Hecker, New Athens, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Caseyville, Shiloh, Swansea, Monroe County, Madison County, St Clair County, and Randolph County.  Her team focuses on resale homes, new construction, first time home buyers, condos, farms, land sales, subdivisions, lot sales, single family, multi-family, commercial, foreclosures, bank owned property, military relocation, and building. This site offers options to search real estate in Columbia Illinois and other areas. We offer buyer and sellers services second to none!

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