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Property Condition Disclosure

by Scott Zeller
 

712

 

Disclosaphobia? 5 Tips for Completing a Seller’s Disclosure

 

The seller’s disclosure is one of the most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. Here are important things to keep in mind as you complete this form.

Guest post by Cara Ameer

The dreaded seller’s disclosure – it’s that pesky document that asks you umpteen questions. How many ceiling fans are in the property, what’s the make and model of each appliance, how old is the roof, A/C system and so forth. Really? Do you have to answer these questions and all of them? Well if you are selling your house, the answer is YES and you must answer to the best of your knowledge.

The seller’s disclosure is one of THE most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. If there are any blank questions or ambiguities, you are likely going to be asked for further clarification and it could delay or prevent a buyer from moving forward.

Here are 5 tips to help you overcome “disclosaphobia” and complete this document with ease:

1. Do Your Research

If you purchased your home within the recent past and had a home inspection, that document can be a useful reference as to the make, model and age of certain components in your home such as the A/C system, water heater, etc. Keep in mind that if you have replaced any of these items, then you will need to complete the disclosure reflective of that information.

2. Be Accurate

If you had a four point inspection for insurance purposes at the time of purchase, that could tell you the age and type of key components such as the roof, plumbing and electrical. Use this to help determine the present age when you are completing the disclosure.

3. Be Honest

Answer every question to the best of your knowledge. If there was something that happened such as a roof leak or water damage for example, provide as much information as possible. Buyers want to know when the issue occurred, the nature of the damage and what was done to repair or address the issue. If an insurance claim was filed, be sure to note that and what the outcome was as far as coverage. The claim could very well turn up when the new buyer works on obtaining insurance – better for the buyer to learn about it from the disclosure first. Attach any relevant paperwork as well such as receipts or invoices. Buyers need assurance that all adds up. Surprise is never a good thing in real estate.

4. Be Clear

Don’t leave a buyer guessing. Avoid vague answers or leaving questions blank. That only raises more questions for a buyer. If you don’t know or the question is not applicable to your kind of property, note that.

5. Set Expectations

The biggest challenge for disclosures arises when the party selling the property has never occupied it or only lived in it for a brief period of time. Be sure to clearly state what your occupancy situation was and to what extent if any, you have knowledge about the property. Setting proper expectations upfront in this regard with potential buyers is important.

If necessary, attach an additional explanation for anything that requires more information than what the form provides. Make sure all information is legible and will transmit clearly across a variety of mediums when printed, emailed, scanned or faxed.

In short, be thorough and provide information to the buyer that will give them confidence in their decision. Contrary to popular belief, buyers are not frustrated with too much disclosure, but rather not enough.

 

Cara Ameer is an agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not nurturing a culture of storytelling at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse. A true francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

 

Water Saving Upgrades

by Scott Zeller
 

314

 

Simple Water-Saving Bathroom Upgrades

 

Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

Guest post by Katy Caballeros 

Between the toilet, shower, and sink, your bathroom accounts for nearly 60% of your home’s water usage. With water scarcity estimated to affect 2/3 for the global population by 2025, water costs are bound increase. Make a water-saving change and an investment in the future, without sacrificing performance. Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

1. Install a Low-Flow Faucet Aerator

Although a sink doesn’t seem to use as much water as the shower or toilet, it can pour out around 3 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Those extra gallons add up, especially if occasionally forget to turn off the sink while you shave or brush your teeth. By installing a low-flow faucet aerator on your bathroom sink, you can cut your water waste in half, reducing it by as much as 1,400 gallons per year. Purchasing an aerator for your sink is one of the cheapest conservation renos, with aerators available for as little as $1.

2. Switch Out Your Showerhead

It’s easy to waste water in the shower—many of us use the shower to relax or perhaps leave the water running as we wait for it to warm. While taking shorter showers can definitely help with water conservation, new energy-efficient showerheads can help reduce water waste without sacrificing enjoyment.

WaterSense labeled products are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help save water and are worth consideration as you search for the right products for your home. Showerheads labeled “low flow” are another option for your bathroom reno, as they deliver 2.5 gpm instead of the wasteful 5 gpm of older showerheads.

Newer models, like Evolve’s showerheads, have features like smart home technology, which conserve water and reduce energy use. Here’s how it works: instead of wasting water as you wait for the shower to warm, this technology automatically reduces the water flow to a trickle when it reaches 95 degrees. When you’re ready to shower, you pull on the showerhead’s built in lever and the flow returns to normal. No more letting energy-burning hot water flow down the drain. They estimated this showerhead technology can save homeowners 2-6 gallons of water per shower!

3. Replace Your Old Toilet

The toilet is the most water-wasteful piece of plumbing in most homes. Nearly 1/3 of a household’s total water consumption is flushed down the toilet. They can use as much as 7 gallons per flush! Luckily, toilet technology has come a long way in the past few decades. Newer energy-saving models can reduce water waste up to 67%. There are three main types of water efficient toilets:

  1. Low Flow Toilets
  2. Duel Flush Toilets
  3. Pressure Assist Toilets

Some toilets use a combination of low flow, duel flush, and pressure assist to create a conservation-friendly commode. Low flow toilets are designed to use significantly less water than older models, whereas duel flush toilets customize each flush for either solid or liquid waste. Pressure-assist toilets use an air cartridge to push water from the tank, which means using as little as one gallon per flush. With thousands of gallons a year in water savings at stake, a toilet reno is a must for water-conscious homeowners.

HomeAdvisor surveyed homeowners and found that replacing a toilet cost an average of $377. Compare that to savings up to $2,200 over its lifespan, and that’s more than a 580% return on investment.

Luckily, with innovations in water-saving technology, it’s easy to drastically cut back on water consumption without sacrificing performance. And, compared to other home updates, purchasing and installing water-saving products is relatively cheap and promise big savings on your water and energy bills. Whether you’re conserving water for your wallet, the environment, or state regulations upgrading bathroom fixtures can make a positive impact.

 

Katy Caballeros is a freelance writer who enjoys scheming eclectic home design ideas for her apartment. She can usually be found with a book and bottle of ginger beer on the weekends.

References
http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/8-water-saving-home-renos/#.Wbs63ciGNPY
https://www.consumerreports.org/home-improvement/elegant-water-saving-bathroom-fixtures/
http://thinkevolve.com/products/showerstart-tsv/
http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/12/economic-cost-global-water-scarcity/
https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/ideas-for-the-bathroom-water-use/view-all/

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

 

More Outdoor Living

by Scott Zeller
 

301

 

How to Create an Ambrosial Fragrance Garden

 

Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Guest post by LawnStarter

Creating a fragrance garden is a great way to attract hummingbirds to your home as well as provide a nice scent for guests who visit your outdoor living space. An ambrosial fragrance garden can consist of many different kinds of plants in the ambrosia plant family which is also known as Asteraceae. As an ambrosial fragrance garden may not be a super popular landscape trend in certain metros, it is a delicate gardening technique that can really vibe up the atmosphere surrounding your home, and not to mention make your backyard a unique beauty in the neighborhood. Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Plant Near Walkways

A fragrant plant that is located in the back corner of your garden will still look beautiful but the chances of you enjoying its scent are low. Make sure to plant fragrant flowers near areas of your outdoor living space that you pass by on a daily basis. Beautiful gerbera daisies would be a good option to include in a border or near a walkway. Other spots would include planting daisies in a pot near the front door or possibly an enclosed area where the scent can stick around for a while.

Plant Location Specific

A main part of creating a fragrance garden is to know how large each plant will grow. For those shorter ambrosia plants, like Marigolds, consider elevating their spot in the yard by hanging them in a basket or placing them in an elevated planter. This will allow you to get the full effect of the plant fragrance instead of leaving them near the ground where they would be hard to smell. Larger ambrosia species, like the sunflower, can be planted near the back of a gardenscape as their towering height will allow them to be fragrant to those passing by despite their far off location.

Don’t Use Chemicals

Flowers produce a fragrance based on their essential oils that evaporate into the air. Using chemical additives to your garden could mask the good scent of the flowers. Added chemicals could also hurt butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees that will be attracted to the plants. Make sure to protect your fragrance garden by using homemade options for insect control or biopesticides that are made from natural occurring elements.

Balance Out the Garden

The purpose of planting a fragrance garden is to enjoy the individual scent of each plant. Make sure to balance out where you plant aromatic varieties by placing like varieties in groups together. Spread out those plants that will give off a strong scent, like goldenrod, and plant unscented options in between the groups of fragrant ones. Doing so will help to create a balanced fragrance garden that will be pleasing and not overwhelming.

Use Different Colors

Choosing a variety of colored ambrosia plants is a great way to mix up the overall look of your fragrance garden as well as provide multiple scents. Those plants with white or pastel colored flowers will oftentimes produce more scent than those colors that are brighter like red or orange. There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family with many different options to choose from. If you were a big fan of chrysanthemums, which is a popular ambrosia plant, you could choose many different colored varieties just in that one plant family to provide unending fragrance to your outdoor living space.

There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family that would provide a beautiful fragrance garden. Consider adding marigolds that are placed at a higher level in the garden to easily smell their fragrance. Balancing out the garden and planting super fragrant varieties, like goldenrod, in groups by themselves will help to not overpower the garden. Placing plants near heavily used areas of the garden, staying away from chemicals, as well as using a variety of different colors will only enhance the overall look and scent of your ambrosia fragrance garden.

 

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

 

Pros and Cons of Adding a Hot Tub

by Scott Zeller
 

424

 

Pros and Cons of Adding a Hot Tub

 

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub.

Guest post by Peter Goldberg

Purchasing a hot tub for your home is becoming more and more appealing to those looking to spark joy in their outdoor space. Even the top local landscaping designs incorporate a steamy floral energy with hot tubs and water features.

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. However, there may be some downsides to consider before adding a hot tub to your home. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub:

Pros

Relaxation

Having a hot tub just steps from your back door can add an element of relaxation to your home. You can come home from work and let the stress of the day melt away in a warm, bubbling soak outside. Hot tubs also have palpable healing properties, as the warm water can help alleviate stress and loosen tight muscles. They are a favorable choice to have for those family members with chronic diseases or injuries that would respond well to heat. Having a hot tub allows for a daily opportunity to relax and unwind.

Entertainment

Not only will your family love a hot tub but your friends and neighbors will too! Adding a hot tub that is large enough for a handful of people is a great way to entertain in your outdoor living space. You can grill out for a party and then invite everyone to change into their suits to soak underneath the stars. Kids love hot tubs and having one creates a fun opportunity to play with the grand kids without the major upkeep of an outdoor pool.

Year-Round Use

Unlike swimming pools that are usually not used during the winter months, a hot tub can be used all year long. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a hot tub under the crisp air of a recent snow. Hot tubs are also used in the summer despite the warm temperatures under the clear summer sky. Due to its smaller size, it is much easier to heat a hot tub in order to keep it available for use all year long.

Cons

Purchase Price and Upkeep Cost

The initial cost of a hot tub can leave some buyers in sticker shock. Brand new hot tubs can easily cost thousands of dollars depending on the size and features available. You can save money by buying used but run the risk of dealing with problems that aren’t covered in a warranty. Other costs to consider are the regular amounts of chemicals that will be needed to maintain the water as well as the electricity fee to keep the water at premium temperature. Owning a hot tub definitely has some costs that need to be considered before purchasing.

Attract Insects

Along with upkeep can come some pesky creatures that can make your outdoor space not so pleasant. Having any sort of water feature  can make for a seemly inviting atmosphere for backyard dwellers like mosquitoes. Similarly, rodents such as mice can find a new home within a hot tub installation that can be more an infestation to deal with. Whereas this may not be a deal breaker and prevented by using repelling plantsin your surrounding landscaping and adding repellent gel and inserts in your installation–creating a relaxing space in any backyard usually means it’s rid of annoying insects or rodents.

Tricky Installation

If you purchase a new hot tub the installation may be included in the price but there may be some hidden fees as well. Consider where you will be putting your hot tub and how it will fit into the space. Hot tubs weigh a lot and heavy machinery will most likely be needed to install them correctly. You may need to take out a section of the fencing to get the hot tub into the backyard. If you want your hot tub on a deck, a crane will be needed to lift the hot tub up onto the deck which can be another added cost.

Plan for Weight

The actual hot tub can weigh a lot but also consider the weight of the water that will be added to the hot tub once installed. A hot tub dealer will most likely help you with these logistics but you will need to verify that you have an adequate spot for your hot tub, especially if you are buying used. Calculate the total weight of the hot tub, the water, and the combined weight of the maximum amount of people who will use it in order to get a good idea of how much weight will be added to the property. A firm foundation of concrete will be needed for those hot tubs being added to a backyard. Decks will need to most likely be reinforced with extra beams in order to hold the added amount of weight.

Hot tubs are a great addition to any home and can be a good selling point if you don’t plan on taking your hot tub with you when you move. Taking a dip in the hot tub is a valuable way to physically feel better as well as provide an entertainment space that you can use all year long. Make sure that you plan for the weight of the total hot tub as well as the costs to upkeep it. Prepare for these pros and cons before adding a hot tub to your outdoor living space.

 

Peter Goldberg is a gardening and landscaping writer, and outdoor extraordinaire. He likes to fire up the grill to cook for family and friends, as well as using his organically grown garden produce to create mouth watering meals.

 

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

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Home Inspections

by Scott Zeller
 

975

 

Why You Really Need a Home Inspection

 

Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make – learn how getting a home inspection can help you get the most value for your home.

Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, and you want to ensure you get the best value for your hard-earned dollar. That’s why more and more home buyers today are turning to professional Home Inspection experts. A professional Home Inspector takes a close look beneath a house’s surface, and then prepares a detailed written report for the prospective buyer on such things as the condition of the foundation, electrical service, roof, insulation, and other critical structural factors. Your Coldwell Banker sales professional can help you connect with an experienced trusted Home Inspection service in your community.

Although costs will vary, you can probably expect to spend two to three hundred dollars for an inspection of a single family home. And who pays for it? Well, since the benefit is almost entirely that of the home buyer, it’s usually the buyer who pays the cost of the home inspection …particularly in a “hot” real estate market, where the home sellers have more leverage. All things considered, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides, and the negotiating power it can give you — especially if it indicates that there are major repairs required, but you decide to make an offer anyway.

When it comes to making your offer to purchase, your Coldwell Banker professional can provide you with good advice on how to allow for a home inspection as a part of this process. Subject to the homeowner’s permission, you can commission a Home Inspection before or even after submitting your offer to purchase. This is done by having your Coldwell Banker salesperson prepare a conditional offer that’s contingent on a Home Inspection report that’s acceptable to you. This approach gives you some distinct advantages: if the conditional offer is accepted, the property is temporarily held against other offers, yet you still have a legal escape route if the report turns up some major negative surprises, such as a bad roof or a crumbling foundation. On the other hand, if the conditional offer isn’t accepted, then the need to pay for a home inspection may never arise. Your Coldwell Banker professional can counsel you on the best approach to suit your market and your individual situation.

For more information about inspections click here.

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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Backyard is Healthy!

by Scott Zeller
 

590

 

Why Your Backyard May Be Making You Healthier This Summer

 

Buying a home with a backyard can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one.

Whether it’s dining alfresco, tending to the garden, or getting in a run, summer living is an outside affair. But, did you know that buying a home with a backyard can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one?  Here are 5 reasons why your backyard may be making your healthier this summer:
 
Better Bone Health
According to the Mayo Clinic, as little as 10 minutes in the sun is thought to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is important to maintaining normal blood levels of calcium in the body, which helps to build healthy bones. Spending just a short time outdoors, weeding, grilling or just lounging can have a positive effect on both mind and body.
 
backyard_HI
 
Slimmer Waist Lines
When the weather is warmer, salads are a great meal or side-dish.  Mix up any combination of fresh ingredients (fruits, vegetables, legumes or nuts), a heart-healthy vinaigrette and enjoy dinner with out any guilt.  For great ideas of summer salads, check out this collection of recipes from Cooking Light.
 
While the science of eating is complicated, grilling can be a healthier alternative to other cooking methods like pan frying.  Grilling lean meats like skinless chicken breasts and omega-3 rich fishes like salmon can make for a quick, tasty and healthy meal.  Add a few veggies like corn or peppers to the fire to round out a delicious summer feast.
 
Because it takes time to carry everything needed for a backyard meal out to the patio and back, you may find yourself more inclined to take your time enjoying the meal and less likely to be caught with your hand in the cookie jar after dinner.  Instead, opt for fresh fruit for a delicious after-meal treat.
 
backyard_CA
 
Peace of Mind
Nothing is better for the soul than quality time with those that we love.  Spend some time away from the screens (TV, phones, tablets, etc.) and instead enjoy some down time with family and friends in the great outdoors.  Nature has proven to give your brain a break from daily over-stimulation and can help improve focus and mood.
 
backyard_WA
 
Improved Vision
Birdwatching from the back deck may be doing more good than you realize. An Australia study has found that being outdoors can improve distance vision and lower the chance of nearsightedness.
 
backyard_FL
 
Healthier Hearts
It’s easy to stay active in the outdoors, whether you choose a run around the neighborhood, backyard yoga, or a lap in the pool.  Almost any activity you enjoy can be done within the confines of a backyard and will not only help keep those extra ice cream calories at bay, but can increase heart health.
 
To find your backyard oasis, visit coldwellbanker.com.
 

Road Trip Tips

by Scott Zeller
 

270

 

Summer Road Trip: Lock-Up & Pack-Up Properly

 

Before you hit the road this summer, follow these two check lists for locking up and packing up to keep your home safe, the car clutter-free, wire-free and the kids happy!

Guest post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

Road Trip! Remember the days when the whole family piled into the station wagon for a summer road trip with a few bags, a cooler and some mad libs? There were sing alongs, license plate games and quality family time. Today, that simple life is challenging with all of the electronic distractions we have, but with some packing knowledge and creativity, you can still create those memories for you and your kids, tech-free.  

Our digital world can help or hinder the security of your home while you are away. Home burglaries rise in July and August due to summer vacations.  Take simple steps to secure your home before hitting the gas. If you use some tech, you can actually protect your home better than ever before. There are also some good old fashion ways to secure your house, giving you peace of mind while you are on the open road.

So before you hit the road this summer, follow these two check lists for locking up and packing up to keep your home safe, the car clutter-free, wire-free and the kids happy!

Lock-Up

Secure Doors – Locks are not enough to keep a determined thief out. Ask your local hardware store about a strike plate lock. The strike plate protects your door from forced entry. And, don’t forget about sliding doors, they are the most vulnerable. So while you are at the hardware store ask them about a lock pin for your sliding door and place wooden dowels in the tracks. These three pieces of door hardware will frustrate a thief and likely cause them to give-up.

Install Timers – A dark house is a target. Don’t just flip a switch when you head out the door and leave it on the entire time. Place your outdoor lights and a few indoor lamps on timers. This way you will be green and fool potential burglars by setting them to a schedule. Put the timers on a few days before you leave to make sure your lights are going on and off correctly and mimic your regular routine.

Outdoor Lights – Install motion detectors on your outdoor lights. Illuminating a would be thief as they enter your yard is a great way to scare them off.

Refrain from Social Media – In our Facebook world, every vacation moment is shared. While it is tempting to share your fun and latest location with friends, you are also letting a whole lot of people know that you are not home. Save the pics and post them when you get home.

Smart Devices – Consider purchasing a home management system with a camera that detects movement in your home. These devices will send you alerts when there is a presence in or around your home. You can also hire a home security monitoring service, make sure they come highly recommended.

Hire a House Sitter – Have a neighbor, family, friend or babysitter stay at your home or keep an eye on it for you. There are also companies that offer house sitting services. For example, LuxxeLife, a full-service estate management provider, will watch over your home and make sure it doesn’t get into any trouble while you’re gone. This is a great way to ensure complete home security, especially if you are taking a longer road trip.

Lawn Care – An unruly lawn is a giveaway. Have a neighborhood kid or landscaper mow your lawn while you are away.

Hidden Keys – This one may seem obvious, but can often be forgotten. Now is the time to remove any hidden keys!

Mail: Make sure you’ve put a vacation stop on mail and newspapers or have someone picking them up daily. A pile of mail is another giveaway.

Pets: Never leave pets unattended. Make sure they are safely boarded or hire a pet sitter.

Pack-Up

Organized Packing 101

Plan: Think about your itinerary and pack according to your stops. For instance, pack one suitcase with the family’s clothing for your stop to hike the Grand Canyon and another suitcase for the wine tasting and restaurant tour  in Sonoma. This will make unpacking and re-packing simplified as well as finding different weather and activity clothing a cinch.

Color Code: Keep bags and suitcases different colors so that they are easily identifiable or add bright stickers or yarn to the handles.

Involve the Kids: Encourage your kids to pack themselves so that they are involved in the planning of the trip. They can have their own suitcase or backpack that is their domain.

Be An Engineer: When loading up the car, think about when you will need to access to each bag along the trip. Make sure the first stop items are accessible first and so on. Next, place bigger items on the bottom and smaller items on top.

Don’t be afraid to turn things up side down, or on their sides, to fit better.

Essential Extras: Pack one backpack that stays well hidden in the car. Include your first-aid kit, camera, tickets, etc. And, bring one big collapsible duffle bag to for dirty laundry..

Entertainment!

We all know the key to a successful family road trip is keeping the kids happy in the car. Instead of relying on the devices and streaming movies, here are some helpful tips to focus on your surroundings to make the trip a memorable one.

Gift It: Wrap items like car games, deck of cards, sticker books, puzzle books, reading books, crayons, etc. as presents—try reusable bags to be eco-friendly. When you make stops along your route place the presents on the kids’ seats. When they come back to the car they will have an exciting gift to unwrap and play with! Bring extra backpacks to place the toys in once they are unwrapped.

Map It: Before you head out, sit down with your children with a map. You remember maps, right? Remember? AAA has them. Have your kids help you plan the trip out and then have them follow the map as you make your way to your destination. Do some research on each of the places you’ll be passing along the way. Print out a fact sheet for points of interest and use it to create a trivia game.

Happy Tummies: Hunger free kids are happy kids! Bring healthy snacks such as grapes, apples, carrots and string cheese. Include a loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter/almond butter and jelly, as well as treats like snack size packs of crackers and cookies. Avoid juice boxes as they tend to explode. Instead pack bottles of water and glass juice bottles that you can recycle at rest stops. Pack these items with plastic utensils and napkins in clear plastic bags in a cooler. Use blue ice – it is thinner and will easily fit into the mini-freezer in the hotel room.

Don’t Leave Home Without…

In addition to your luggage, the following items will come in handy during your road trip to keep everyone safe and happy.

  1. Kleenex
  2. Hand sanitizer
  3. Baby wipes
  4. Paper towels and window cleaner
  5. Extra snack bags
  6. Medications
  7. Personal pillows
  8. Cell Phone Charger (yes, still bring the cells for emergencies and confirming reservations)
  9. Bug repellent
  10. Sunscreen
  11. Reservation confirmations for flights, rental cars, camp sites and hotels

 Now gas up (or plug in that electric car – be sure to know where the charging stations are!) and head down memory lane!

 

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com

 

Storage Space

by Scott Zeller
 

354

 

How to Build a Cheap Shed for Your Backyard

 

By following these five tips, you can kick the clutter and keep your wallet fat.

By Chelsea McGrath

Is your garage overflowing with gear and gadgets? Whether your clutter is for business or pleasure, a backyard shed is the perfect storage solution.

But, extra space comes with a price tag. Prefab sheds can put you back thousands of dollars, and a bad DIY can cost you your weekends and your pride.

What if you could build a quality shed without breaking the bank? By following these five tips, you can kick the clutter and keep your wallet fat.

#1 Cut the Frill = Cut the Costs

The average custom-made shed costs anywhere from $2,109 to $3,545 depending on the materials you use and whether you do it yourself or call in a local pro.

So, how can you keep your shed budget under a grand? Cut out all the frills. Sheds become expensive when homeowners choose costly features, like

  • Electricity
  • Shelves and built-in storage
  • Decorative trim
  • Loft
  • Ramp
  • Workbench
  • Large square footage

Skilled laborers, like electricians and carpenters, can charge up to $100/hour to add these custom features, not including the cost of added material.

Cheap sheds are basic sheds—four walls, a roof, and a foundation. Consider which features you need and which you can live without.

#2 Choose Cost-Effective Materials

You want your materials to be sturdy yet practical. Luckily, sheds can be built with a variety of materials, which we ranked from most to least expensive.

Expensive: Vinyl

Vinyl is a favorite among homeowners due to its strength and durability. Vinyl sheds are known to resist rot, harsh weather, insects, and dents.

It’s a great, maintenance-free option – especially for homeowners that live in areas that experience heavy snowfall and bad storms.

Of course, that durability comes at a price. At the cheapest, vinyl will run around $800 in material cost, and up to $5,000 at its most expensive.

 Can be Costly: Wood

Wood is beautiful and popular and very customizable. But, it can also be expensive. A lot of labor and resources are put into making those beautiful wood slabs, driving up the cost.

Expect to spend anywhere from $600 to $3,000 on materials for a wood shed.

Cheapest: Metal

Metal is a cost-cutting favorite – it is low maintenance, resists rot, insects, and decay, and can last upwards of 25 years. Depending on the size of your shed, metal material can cost as little as $300.

Your metal shed won’t be as resistant to heavy snow and high wind, but it’s the ultimate budget saver in a temperate climate.

#3 Shop Around

You know what they say about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure? There’s always someone out there with too much of something who wants to reclaim their space. Which means you can snag up materials for ultra-cheap – sometimes even free!

Lumber mills are overflowing with waste. Politely ask the yard manager if they have any scrap wood you can take off their hands.

Or, search online. A quick search for free or discount lumber revealed dozens of results for wood people wanted to get rid of.

Of course, this means you have to drive (sometimes long distances) and deal with strangers. But, with some courtesy and research, you might be able to snag all or most of the materials for your shed at an ultra-cheap price!

#4 Rent Power Tools Instead of Buying Them

Unless you are a professional handyman, you probably don’t have a huge supply of power tools in your garage.

Contractors estimate you’ll need the following tools to build a shed, though you may need others depending on your materials and construction plans:

  • Safety glasses / hearing protection
  • Hammer
  • Power drill (Cordless) & drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Nail gun
  • Circular saw
  • Speed square
  • Stepladder
  • Sawhorses

While building a shed is a fun excuse to go tool shopping, it doesn’t make sense to drop a huge amount of dough for a tool you’ll only use twice a year. Buying all these tools could costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Not to mention, finding a place to store rarely used tools may be why you’re building a shed in the first place.

Thankfully, many local hardware stores allow you to rent tools for a fraction of the cost. 

Of course, if you hire a contractor, they’ll already have all the tools, so you save costs.

#5 Check Permits to Avoid Hidden Costs

Check local building codes before building a shed in your backyard. Even though you’re building on your property, the city can fine you or force you to dismantle your shed if you don’t have the right permit.

Make sure you do your research to avoid unexpected fines and the cost of having to rebuild an improperly placed shed.

#6 When in Doubt, Go With a Pro

DIY projects often seem like the most cost-effective practice. But, consider the cost of materials, the amount of time you’ll have to commit, and your skill level.

Some parts of your project may be out of your skill range aHomd require hiring a carpenter, contractor, or electrician.

Better to hire a professional than spend money and time fixing mistakes and making repairs.

Whether you want to relax by the pool or you have a list of DIY projects, an organized space makes it easier to take full advantage of your summer.

Ready, set, build.

Chelsea McGrath is an Editor at HomeAdvisor with a love for all things home, health, sports and nature.

References:

http://www.homeadvisor.com/task.Shed-Barn-or-Playhouse-Build.40347.html?4329=7048&4330=6112&4331=4873&502713=10002&step=location&sar=true

http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/additions-and-remodels/build-a-barn-shed-or-playhouse/?st=&sc=1.768097

http://www.toolcrib.com/blog/2008/10/lumber-salvage-the-top-10-sources-for-cheap-free-and-recycled-wood

http://www.cheapsheds.com/metal-sheds/

http://www.lifetime.com/customerservice/tipsandsolutionsdetail/194/which-shed-material-is-best-for-you

https://www.familyhandyman.com/sheds/how-to-build-a-cheap-storage-shed/view-all

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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Lawn Maintenance

by Scott Zeller

Thought this would be helpful.

HGTV.COM
 
The home and garden experts at HGTV.com share easy tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful lawn.
 

Military Moves

by Scott Zeller
 

313

 

Military Moves in a Seller’s Market

 

If you’re an active duty servicemember, you’re more exposed than others to the cyclical swings of the real estate market, since you have little control over when your moves happen.  

About USAA Real Estate Rewards Network:  For over 25 years, the USAA Real Estate Rewards Network offers support in helping USAA Members buy and/or sell a home — and Members can earn cash reward in the process.

It’s often said that only three things matter in real estate: location, location and location. That’s not entirely true—timing can also make a huge difference in a property’s price. If you’re an active duty servicemember, you’re more exposed than others to the cyclical swings of the real estate market, since you have little control over when your moves happen.  

Take for example, when real estate is in a “seller’s market,” and there’s more demand for houses than there is supply. That results in higher prices and a tougher time finding a house that meets your desired specifications.

A seller’s market is a great condition if you’re selling, but a tough one if you’re buying. No matter which side of the market you’re on, we’ve got pointers to help you make the best of the situation.

Tips for Buyers

Consider your alternatives. If the market’s pricey and supply is low, consider the possibility that buying may not be the best choice, particularly since a hot market may cool off by the time you move again, and could be facing the prospect of selling at a loss.

There’s always the option of renting.  And as a service member, you may have an ace in the hole—the option to live in government-provided quarters. In a tight market, however, on-post or on-base housing may also be in short supply. Even if you’re planning to buy a home, get on the housing wait list at your next installation list as soon as you can so the option will be there.

Hire a pro. If you do choose to pursue a purchase in a seller’s market, the selection of a real estate agent carries extra significance. Since you’re already starting from a position of relative weakness, it’s critical that your agent is highly competent and able to provide precision advice on pricing and strategy, so choose carefully.

Get a pre-approval. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is highly recommended in any market, but it’s an absolute must in a seller’s market. Imagine you’re a seller, and you receive two roughly identical bids. One has a financing pre-approval attached to it, the other doesn’t. Which one would you accept?

Don’t delay. With a busy weekday schedule, you may be inclined to save your home research for the weekend. In a seller’s market, that’s a recipe for failure. The early bird gets the worm, so quickly get to showings and be mentally prepared to make fast decisions.  

Your offer must reflect the market reality. Maybe you’re used to driving a hard bargain in home purchases, auto dealerships and garage sales—but now’s not the time to be brazen. In a strong seller’s market, your offer price should be very close to the asking price or maybe even above it.

Beggars can’t be choosers. The same warning about lowball prices applies to making demands and putting conditions on your offer—like asking the seller to throw in appliances or make cosmetic improvements. Don’t do it.

Get ready to duel. In some seller’s markets, bidding wars are common. If multiple bids come in quickly, you may soon find yourself in a situation that feels more like an auction than a normal residential real estate transaction.

When targeting homes to consider, factor in the possibility that the asking prices may be below what those properties will ultimately go for. And as you prepare your initial offer on a house, think ahead to how much higher you’re willing to go. That’s not to say your first offer should leave haggling room—it should be very close to your best possible offer.

Put more earnest money on the table. Earnest money is a deposit at the time of an offer that demonstrates a buyer’s seriousness about moving ahead with the deal. If things proceed as planned, it’s applied at closing.

A common amount is one percent of the offer price.

Be flexible on your move-in date. While the norm is for the seller to be moved out on the day of closing, your offer may be better received if you’re willing to give the seller a little extra time.

Tips for Sellers

Don’t get cocky. Don’t let seller’s market confidence lead you to think you can cut corners. It’s still important to spruce up your home inside and out, and consider having your home professionally staged.

Lure buyers with an attractive asking price. Particularly in a market where bidding wars are common, setting an initial price that’s slightly below the market rate may draw much more interest—and you may come out at above the market price anyway.

Put a tighter limit on showings. In a buyer’s market, it would make sense to be as accommodating as possible, letting agents show your home any time of day or night. In a seller’s market, however, you may want to chum the waters by playing a little hard to get: Restricting the available hours can lead to multiple buyers strolling the house simultaneously. With possible bidding rivals right in view, their competitive spirit may be heightened—and their offer prices along with it.

For USAA Members, the USAA Real Estate Rewards Network can connect you to an agent experienced in military moves.  In addition to having a specialized agent, Members buying and/or selling their homes with a Network agent are eligible for cash rewards.  To estimate your reward, visit USAA’s web site

DID 252869-0618
USAA® Real Estate Rewards Network is offered by USAA Residential Real Estate Services, Inc., a licensed real estate broker and subsidiary of USAA Federal Savings Bank. Program may be unavailable for employer-sponsored relocations. Not available for transactions in Iowa or outside the United States. This is not a solicitation if you are already represented by a real estate broker. Reward offer limited in some states. Reward amount is based on sale price of home sold or purchased and cannot exceed $24,000 per transaction. To receive the maximum amount offered of $24,000, the sale price of the home sold or purchased must be $4 million or more. In 2017, the average member closing in the program received $1,230. Real estate agent fees still apply. The reward is not available in Alaska, Oklahoma or Louisiana. In Kansas and Tennessee, a loyalty card will be issued that is accepted at specific retailers. In Oregon and Mississippi a credit or commission reduction may be available. In New Jersey, a commission reduction or rebate may be available at closing. Please check with the program coordinator for details. You must be enrolled in the program and be represented at closing by an approved agent with a participating real estate firm in order to qualify for the reward. Reward not available to sellers in a short sale transaction. In certain states, buyers may need seller cooperation in order to participate in the reward program. Availability restrictions apply.
Use of the term “member” or “membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change.
Bank products provided by USAA Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC.
This advertisement brought to you by USAA, 9800 Fredericksburg Rd., San Antonio, TX 78288.

 

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not nurturing a culture of storytelling at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse. A true francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

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Murfreesboro TN 37129
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Fax: 615-893-3246

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