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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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Summer Maintenance Projects

by Scott Zeller

279

 

Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

 

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas.

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.

  1. Windows

Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.

While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.

You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.

Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes. 

  1. Roof

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.

While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.

Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.

Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.

  1. Exterior

     

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.

While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.

  1. Foundation

Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.

Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.

  1. Heating and Cooling

You’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.

At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.

Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.


DIY Projects

by Scott Zeller
 
 
 
 
 

How to Repair Granite Countertop Chips

 

 

Granite countertops are highly durable, but like any other furniture in the home, they can get damaged or chipped during its use over time. The cost of hiring the help of a professional to make repairs can cost too much and buying a new one may not exactly fit within your budget at the current time. Making DIY repairs, therefore, may be the best choice for you.

Step 1 - Clean the Chipped Countertop

Mix warm water and mild dish soap in a bucket to make a cleaning solution. Dip the sponge into it and wipe on the entire area around the damage. Make sure that the chipped portion of the granite, as well as the surroundings, have been thoroughly cleaned of debris, grease, and any form of dirt otherwise your patch job may not take.

Step 2 - Dry the Countertop

Wipe the surface with a clean, dry towel after scrubbing it clean, and leave for at least one hour to dry. The surface of the countertop must have no moisture remaining on it before going on to the next step of the repair process.

Step 3 - Isolate the Chipped Area

Protect the surrounding areas of the countertop by taping them off with masking tape. Only the portion that needs to be repaired should be visible or not covered. Likewise, keep appliances, wires, and power outlets secured and protected. They may also be covered with masking tape to ensure they stay in optimum condition while you are working.

 

Step 4 - Apply Epoxy to the Chipped Area

Put on latex gloves and start mixing the granite epoxy resin and hardener; refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the proper procedure. Apply the mixture to the chipped area. Smooth it using the tongue depressor, and clean off any excess with the razor blade.

Step 5 - Leave to Dry

Give time for the epoxy to dry completely. Drying time may vary depending on the type of granite epoxy resin used. For information on the exact time needed, you may refer to the product specifications provided by the manufacturer.

Step 6 - Apply Sealer

Coat the repaired area in sealer once the epoxy mixture has completely dried out. Recommended application is usually 24 hours after the epoxy has been applied. The sealer will help restore the beauty and luster of the chipped countertop, and provide added protection.

Extra Safety Precautions

The epoxy used in the repair of granite counter top chips is flammable and may react with heat. As a result, the epoxy to emit poisonous fumes, causing harm to the household. Therefore, it is important not to use the oven or any other appliance that produces heat while repairing the chipped counter top. To ensure the safety of everyone in the household, repair granite counter top chips away from heat-producing appliances if possible.

Buying a Home in different Seasons

by Scott Zeller
 

357

 

Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

 

Each season has something different to offer to a potential home buyer. Read the pros and cons of buying a home during the summer versus the winter.

You hear it a lot – there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it’s a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase.

Numerical data isn’t the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer


Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months.

If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you’ll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather.

It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it’s usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice.

If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break.

Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there’s a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter

There’s less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year’s resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn’t typically at the forefront of most people’s minds.

What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate.

They might be if the reason why they’re moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent’s holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer.

Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You’ll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you’ll notice how effective the heating system is.

While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you’ll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.

Considerations for Both Seasons
There are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons – namely, your real estate agent’s availability, and your neighbors.

Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won’t negatively affect your intentions to buy.

On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower.

Additionally, when you buy a new home, you’ll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you’re someone that cares a lot about a home’s upkeep, this might concern you.

At the same time, you’ll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.

Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?
As you may conclude, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn’t let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll know it.

 

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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Outdoor Living

by Scott Zeller
 

1271

 

5 Plants That Naturally Repel Mosquitoes

 

Check out these plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.

Guest post by Rachael Baihn

Many homeowners want to enjoy their outdoor living space but don’t want to get eaten by mosquitoes while doing so. Bug repellents and bug zappers are effective but don’t keep those nasty bugs away from your outdoor living area. Check out these plants that naturally repel mosquitoes and other annoying bugs that keep you from using your outdoor space more often:

1. Lavender

This beautiful purple colored plant is a natural mosquito repellent with a wonderful fragrance. Lavender is a great addition to an outdoor space as it adds color as well as keeps bugs at bay. Its unique scent will keep insects and rabbits away and is very hardy. Lavender tends to spread out and can get quite large so make sure that you have enough space when planting this beauty. Lavender does well in warmer climates but can withstand a wide variety of environments as well.

2. Citronella Grass

This plant is a no brainer when it comes to its ability to keep mosquitoes at bay. Citronella is a commonly used ingredient in many natural mosquito repellents and this grass does well in doing just that. The lemon scent of Citronella Grass is incredibly good at repelling bugs and does well in planters. Place a few pots around an outdoor living space for ultimate protection against biting insects.

3. Catnip

As a variation of the mint family, catnip is very good at deterring insects. It is low maintenance and does well in planters as it has a tendency to creep into other areas of the garden. A recent study showed that catnip was actually much more effective than DEET and the natural repelling aspects are impressive. If you do decide to choose this mosquito repelling plant have a plan of action for neighborhood cats who may be attracted to your outdoor space as well!

4. Marigolds

This annual flower produces a scent that repels mosquitoes as well as other bugs such as whiteflies, aphids, and hornworms. Marigolds are an easy addition to an outdoor space as they do well in pots that can be spread out around a patio area or even placed directly on your outdoor table. They do well in borders or edging as well and should grow well all summer long.

5. Rosemary

As an easy to grow herb, Rosemary extracts a woody scented oil that repels both moths and mosquitoes. It does well in containers but can also thrive along borders or in garden beds as well. Rosemary has the ability to grow quite large so regular trimming is recommended. It does best in dry and arid environments but can withstand colder areas when placed in pots. Enjoy the mosquito repelling qualities of this plant as well as snip off a few sprigs to use in summer cooking.

Take charge of your outdoor space and plant different varieties that will repel pesky mosquitoes the natural way. Choose a few favorites and see which plant does best in your outdoor space. Consider placing them close to the outdoor seating area for greatest impact on keeping the biting insects away from your outdoor space this summer.

 

Rachael Baihn is an avid gardener, both indoors and in her backyard sanctuary. She can often be found exploring the Austin greenbelt or enjoying the company of neighbourhood dogs.

Sharon is the Digital Content Specialist for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She is passionate about giving back to the community and enjoys teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the local Boys & Girls Club. She loves pun-ny jokes and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day.

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Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent

by Scott Zeller

What Is the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?

 

A real estate agent, realtor, and broker are three separate individuals with differing levels of education, experience, and affiliation. In terms of their qualifications and the services they offer, you might be best suited with a realtor VS a real estate agent, or vice versa.

Are you working with a Realtor or a real estate agent? Often, people use the words interchangeably to refer to any individual who handles real estate transactions, but that’s not correct.

A real estate professional can be classified as a real estate agent, realtor, and/or broker.  The difference between these titles are the levels of education, experience, and affiliation. So, who are these individuals and what do they offer? Are all real estate agents realtors or is there more required to be one or the other? We’ve got the inside scoop.

 

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a person who is licensed to represent buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction. The steps to becoming licensed vary by state but typically include a minimum number of instructional hours and the passing of a real estate licensing exam. Additionally, many real estate agents have also passed a state background check and have business insurance.

Agents are the most common real estate professionals that you’ll run across. All real estate brokers and realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are brokers or realtors.

 

Real Estate Broker

The differences between a real estate agent and broker have to do with education. A real estate broker has pursued a higher level of licensing after working in the industry for a set amount of time. In addition, to become a broker you should be verified by a principal broker and pass a broker exam specific to your state.

In the end, the most telling differences between a real estate agent and broker are their level of experience. A broker has at least worked in the industry buying and selling homes for a few years.

 

Realtor

The final title is that of a realtor. A real estate agent and a real estate broker can both be realtors. The key to being a realtor vs. a real estate agent is belonging to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only members of this association can be identified as a realtor.

What makes a realtor unique? members of the NAR have all taken a pledge to follow a set of ethics and guidelines that ensure their integrity. These codes of ethics carry weight for a realtor in their day-to-day business practices and cover a wide range of pledges:

  1. Shall put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own.
  2. Shall cooperate with other brokers and agents if it’s in the best interest of the client.
  3. Shall refuse fees from more than one party without consent.
  4. Shall not discriminate in any fashion.
  5. Shall always present the truth in advertising.

All in all, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics offers a very specific outline for how an agent or broker should think, act, and perform their duties. This is not to say that the main broker and realtor difference is the type of individual—an ethical or non-ethical person. A broker can follow these same ethics guidelines without being a member of the National Association of Realtors. However, being a member of the NAR does offer a course of action if you have a complaint; you can contact your local board of realtors.

 

Choosing Your Real Estate Professional

So, how do you choose the right real estate professional for you? The right individual will be different for every transaction, homebuyer, and seller. You need to decide if having a few extra years of experience and education or adherence to a specific code of ethics makes you feel more comfortable hiring one person over another.

No matter whom you decide, we recommend carefully vetting all your candidates and reviewing their qualifications before making your choice. A realtor isn’t necessarily better than a broker, and an agent isn’t necessarily less experienced than a broker. It all depends on their qualifications. Vet wisely.

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Coldwell Banker Snow and Wall
1980 Old Fort Parkway
Murfreesboro TN 37129
Mobile: 615-479-4776
Business: 615-893-1130
Fax: 615-893-3246

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