All You Need to Know About Garage Security

By Susanne Dwyer

According to SafeBee.com, recent reports and social media posts are advising homeowners to use a zip tie to secure their door release mechanisms on the emergency latch present on automatic garage door openers. Although the advice is meant to help reduce burglaries, SafeBee.com says the practice can put homeowners in danger.

Using a zip tie to “lock” this mechanism basically removes this safety feature from the door operator system, putting homeowners and others at risk, as the safety function may not work when needed.

Although reports recommend the addition of the zip tie to avoid garage break-ins, those reports leave out the important safety function that may be disabled by doing so.

To enhance the security of your home while helping to ensure the safe operation of your garage door, SafeBee.com shares these tips from UL and the Door and Access Systems Manufacturer’s Association (DASMA):

  • Never interfere with or defeat the manual emergency release mechanism on your garage door operator.
  • Check with your garage door opener dealer or retailer to see what other safety or security features are available for your particular opener or door model.
  • Consider adding an automatic lock, if available, for your opener.
  • Always lock the entry door between the garage and your house, and any other door or windows that may be in your garage.
  • Consider arming your home or premises with a security system.
  • Do not leave valuables, such as bicycles, tools and equipment, visible from an open garage.
  • Do not leave the garage door transmitter visible in your car, and keep car doors locked if a transmitter is inside the car.
  • For garage doors with windows, use a frosted glass coating, if possible.
  • Finally, if your garage door operator has this feature, enable “vacation mode” when leaving home for an extended period of time, which locks out remote controls from activating the door.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

3 Ways to Throwback Style

By Susanne Dwyer

(Family Features)—When it’s time for a bathroom or kitchen upgrade, some of the greatest inspiration may come from another time entirely. Some of the most on-trend styles of today are actually throwbacks to bygone eras.

Learn how to make your updated spaces pay tribute to re-emerging trends and add your own modern touches with these three new-again looks.

Retro-Modern
A retro-modern design is unique in every way, with elements transitioning from the historically unfitted 1920s to 1950s charm and eccentricity. The result is a space that represents many eras and design styles, and the kitchen is the perfect space to bring this look to life.

Start by establishing a focal point for your retro-modern design, such as a functional nod to the past. Long before modern refrigeration, iceboxes were used in many of the homes in the early 20th century to keep foods fresh. It’s possible to mimic this look with the Wellborn Cabinet Premier Series, to achieve an icebox look that actually functions as storage space.

Use contrasting finishes, colors and textures to uniquely define a small space. For example, a modern cabinet scheme in a dark stain or paint contrasts beautifully with stainless steel hardware and a pop of color to break up the cold nature of stainless steel.

Then bring some uniformity with an option like Shaker decorative legs, which adds to the multi-era design feel. Deriving from the Shaker lifestyle and tradition, the tapering effect offers a beautiful yet simple design feature. Integrate the look across multiple elements, such as a wooden-style tapered leg icebox, along with stainless steel tapered legs on wall and peninsula cabinets, which can pair nicely with stainless-steel hardware and a 1950s Malt Shop grooved countertop.

Accessories are an important part of kitchen design, which is why they should be kept top of mind when building or designing that dream space. Features such as removable under-sink baskets and a double wastebasket kit lend ultimate practicality.

No matter the era, lighting is a must for a functional kitchen space. A carefully crafted, multi-layered lighting design is an essential component of a dream kitchen. An option like Hafele lighting, now offered through a partnership with Wellborn Cabinet, makes it possible to illuminate cabinetry, delivering ambient, accent, task and decorative lighting to create the right mood for any space.

Elegant
A beautiful, ornate bathroom with plenty of traditional features can truly be an interpretation of elegance in design. Plan for an abundance of luxurious, spa-like elements to achieve this look. Incorporate features such as warm hickory covering every inch of the walls and built-in lighting to set the tone for a relaxing atmosphere. Then incorporate antique-styled mirrors and glass hardware to create contrasts among the rich tones and texture.

You can create a distinctive alcove effect by situating the sink vanities directly between matching cabinet ends and recessing two mirrors into the wall. A decorative arch valance can add beauty and function, as this is an ideal place to tuck away lighting that provides depth and visibility.

Let a large soaking tub take center stage between the sink vanity and a custom makeup area. While you can rely on cabinetry for functional features, it’s also a way to continue adding elegant touches, such as a beautifully crafted tub skirt and arch that complements the vanity area.

No luxury bathroom is complete without a standalone makeup alcove outfitted with unique features like drawer dividers (perfect for hair accessories) and countertop hideaway cabinets. Consider creating a focal point using rounded spindles to create depth and allow the custom makeup section to stand out in the design. Lastly, embellish the distinguished look with molding options that highlight the feature areas and create a defined line around the room.

An elegant, spacious master bathroom is luxurious and functional, proving that practicality can be used in a glorious way.

Retro
Going to the extreme with your aesthetic with a retro design is all about fun, with features such as pops of color in the tile behind the vanities or fun and whimsical wallpaper. A 1950s-style bathroom lets you play on your childlike senses. From bright colors to mixed metals and textures, this unique design style pays respect to the era of carhops, Airstream Travel Trailers and Lucille Ball.

The key to making a throwback-styled design work for your contemporary needs is all in the modern elements. Think along the lines of illuminated drawers and cabinets and base pull-out wire baskets. These fun twists of technology paired with retro-styled elements make for a winning solution.

When it comes to the vanities and cabinetry, remember that both style and color can bring your retro design together. Don’t be afraid to step outside more traditional wood tones, and use unexpected colors, such as the pink hue available in Wellborn Cabinet’s ColorInspire program. For the woodwork, look for details such as conical-styled, slender legs that add to the 1950s feel.

Reminiscent of days past, a fabulous ’50s bathroom is the ultimate definition of an eccentric design.

There’s no time like now to begin planning your on-trend home upgrades. Explore the latest styles and home design options at wellborn.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Interior Design Details for Winter

By Susanne Dwyer

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Are you interested in adding a little seasonal oomph to your space? Below are a handful of cozy—and inexpensive—winter updates.

Cozy blankets galore. Nothing is better than a snuggly blanket on a cool winter evening. Drape heavier blankets over sofas, chairs or reading nooks, and even fold one up by the fireplace for stretching out on the floor. Just make sure it’s safely away from the flames!

Gray space. The color gray is a winter staple. Swap out your fiery fall throw pillows for a gunmetal shade, unroll a deep gray rug in the living or dining room, or update your window coverings to a gentle ash tone.

Candle craze. Soft lighting in winter can create a romantic, warm effect. Place candles around the house and ditch the harsh overheads as you settle in with that evening glass of wine.

Bring out your book lover. Stacks of books offer an inviting way to spend those chilly winter hours. Create attractive assemblies on side tables, shelves, inside your unused fireplace, or even in corners on the floor.

Wooden wonders. Adding wood accents to your home in the winter makes you feel like you’re living in a ski lodge. Pile logs in the corner for fire (or simple aesthetics) and add a rustic wood table by the sofa for setting that warm mug of tea. No table? Try a large, seasoned stump for some real rustic vibes.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: How Can I Guide Clients Through the Home Inspection Process?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Adam Long, president of HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What can be done to guide clients through the home inspection process?

A: After being in business for 25 years and performing over a million inspections, HomeTeam Inspection Service has identified the top ways to ensure a smoother home inspection, contributing to happier clients and a better outcome.

Make It Convenient
The home inspection process—from scheduling to report delivery—should be convenient for everyone involved. Online scheduling, text messaging and electronic delivery of reports make convenience possible when it comes to the home inspection. If a home inspection company isn’t providing this, clients are missing out on the best possible experience.

Don’t Keep Them Waiting
Ten years ago, it was commonplace to wait five days or more for a home inspection, but today, consumers want it now. Plus, consumers are busier than ever today. They not only want a home inspection that can be performed soon, but also one that can be performed in half the time of the traditional three- to -four-hour inspection. That’s a large part of what makes HomeTeam successful. Our team approach allows for a faster inspection and more appointment slots each day.

Give Them Options
Clients only want to pay for services they need. While most home inspection companies offer a wide range of services, client needs vary, and the leading home inspection companies allow clients to schedule individual services like pest, mold and radon.

Ensure It’s Educational
A home inspector will not give a pass/fail grade on a home, but will give an objective assessment on the condition of the home during the inspection. Educating the client on their new home and how to maintain it is a sign of a professional inspector. Communicating information in a non-alarming manner is critical to helping clients absorb information and make prudent decisions. An inspector that’s accessible to answer questions onsite and after the inspection instills peace of mind in clients and makes them more confident in their purchase decision.

Deliver Accurate Reporting
In addition to a verbal report that the client receives onsite, the most professional inspection companies will furnish a narrative, electronic report that’s emailed to the client and agent. A narrative-style report is more detailed than a checklist-style report, putting forth a clearer picture of the home with less room for interpretation. Including photos and a summary helps the client easily identify any safety concerns or areas that warrant attention.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Need a New Mattress? Read This First

By Susanne Dwyer

Thanks to a myriad of ads, promotions and persuasive marketing ploys, buying a new mattress can be confusing. But when you get right down to it, there are basically three common mattress types:

Innerspring – Composed of steel coils in various configurations, these are the most traditional and most widely sold mattresses. Most have between 600 and 1,000 coils, and some may have foam layers or pillow-top cushioning added. More coils do not guarantee superiority, though, because they may be made of thinner-gauge metal.

Memory Foam – Mostly made of polyurethane or latex foam, these are favored by people with back pain because the foam softens and molds to your body when you lie on it and springs back when you get up. Some owners say it “sleeps hot,” but newer variations infuse gel to keep it cool.

Adjustable Air – These are inflated with a pump at your bedside to suit your desired firmness. Foam layers are added for more comfort, and each side can be adjusted to suit the comfort of bed partners.

Because choosing the right mattress is an individual choice, Consumer Reports recommends five important tips to keep in mind while shopping:

Take Your Time – Spend at least 5-10 minutes on a mattress in each of your favorite sleeping positions—and don’t let the salesman pressure you. (If you are shopping somewhere where trying them is not an option, be sure there is a generous return policy.)

Know the Return Policy – Most stores offer a full refund or credit toward another mattress for a couple of weeks to 120 days from purchase, although some will require a re-stocking fee—but you’ll be responsible for the return and any damage.

You Can Haggle – While some warehouse stores and other low-price leaders are pretty firm on price, most retailers will come down a bit on the price.

Understand the Warranty – It may range from 10-25 years, but coverage is sometimes pro-rated, decreasing over time.

Do You Need a New Box Spring? – If you’re switching to a foam or adjustable air bed from an innerspring, you’ll need a boxy foundation that lacks springs and wire. Otherwise, if your box spring isn’t broken and is still structurally sound, consider keeping it and saving money.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Cleaning House on the Quick and Cheap

By Susanne Dwyer

We once met a woman who loved to clean house. She said it gave her a feeling of accomplishment. For many, however, it’s a thankless chore, and the sooner done, the better.

Consumer editors at Woman’s Day Magazine and the DIY Network offer seven ways to save time and money and still keep your home sparkling clean:

All-purpose cleaners – No need to buy cleaning solutions for a single purpose. Fill a squirt bottle with four tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water. Use it to clean kitchen counters, appliances, inside the fridge and more—or add one-third cup vinegar to a quart of water to clean glass, countertops and even floors.

Burnt food on burners – Remove burnt-on food from stove burners by soaking them overnight in a zip-lock bag filled with a cup of ammonia.

Burnt food in pans – No need to throw out or replace that badly burnt pan. Heat a cup of white vinegar in it until warm. Remove from the heat and mix in two tablespoons of baking powder. After 15 minutes, rinse with warm water and voila!

Microwave magic – To degrease and clean the inside of your microwave, cook one half-cup of water mixed with one half-cup of vinegar in it for two minutes. A clean rag should wipe the mess right off.

Forget paper towels – They’re expensive and they often leave a residue. Buy a pack of micro-fiber cleaning rags that will clean better and can be used over and over again.

Zap the sponge – It’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Disinfect it often by squeezing it out and microwaving it on high for a minute. No need to replace it until it is shredding or smelly.

Shower curtain bath – If mold or mildew are attacking the shower curtain, throw it in the washing machine with a few towels, which will help scrub it, then hang it back up to dry.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Ways to Power Through Procrastination

By Susanne Dwyer

Whether it’s cleaning out the basement or redesigning your website, nearly all of us have something lingering on our to-do list that we just keep pushing off. Below are a handful of ways to stop procrastinating and improve your overall productivity.

Do it first. If you’re dreading it, do it first. There’s nothing worse than a lingering aura of dread over a task, so by tackling it head on, you eliminate both the project and the anxiety around it.

Set small daily goals. If it’s a larger task (like that big basement clean-out), set small daily goals to keep you on track. For instance, choose one small corner to clean every evening, working in 15-minute increments. After two weeks, the project will be off your shoulders and it will have felt like a smaller deal.

Ask for accountability. An accountability partner is one of the best ways to slash procrastination—but choose carefully. You need to find someone not afraid to dole out a little tough love.

Remove temptation. Do you know that social media or Netflix feeds your procrastination demon? Cut those things off completely until you can get your to-do done.

Reward yourself. Kids and dogs aren’t the only ones who love a treat for a trick! Choose an affordable, healthy reward, like a massage or tickets to a play, to help keep you motivated to bump that item off your list. Or, if you’ve removed a few beloved temptations, simply adding them back in may do the trick!

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: How Should I Prepare a Home to Sell in the Fall?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What are your top tips for preparing to sell a home in the fall?

A: First and foremost, use the beauty of the season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a region that experiences changing seasons, take advantage of everything the season has to offer by incorporating autumnal flowers, plants and floral arrangements into the mix. Whether it’s colorful mums or adding intense color and drama to the home’s exterior with perennials, feature a variety of fall floral arrangements both inside and outside the home.

Next, be sure to check the roof and gutters. While a roof’s drainage system diverts thousands of gallons of water from a home’s exterior and foundation walls, it’s important to keep the process moving in order to avoid water damage. In addition to taking the time to unclog and clean the gutters, now is also a good time to inspect the roof from top to bottom. In addition to looking for damage to metal flashing in and around vents and chimneys, check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage.

While outside, take the time to check driveways, walkways and steps for any noticeable damage. Fixing any problem areas during the fall is critical in order to prevent little problems from becoming expensive headaches down the line. Look for cracks that are more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections and loose railings on steps.

Before the bitter temperatures of the winter season move in, take the necessary steps to ensure that outside faucets and in-ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst. Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to the drain line. If you don’t have shut-off valves, or freeze-proof faucets, you can buy faucet covers at your local home improvement store.

Moving inside, check the home for air leaks, as gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for 10 percent of a home’s heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While weather-stripping is the most cost-effective way to control heating and cooling costs, it should be checked and replaced as needed every six months.

And last, but not least, bring in a professional to inspect the home’s heating system to ensure it’s working properly before the cold weather arrives.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

How to Sell a Vacant Home in the Off-Season

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

There’s a reason that spring and summer are the major seasons for selling houses. Most people want to move at a time that allows them to be settled by the fall, when kids go back to school and daylight shortens.

However, you might find yourself having to sell a vacant home in the off-season. The home might be empty because the seller had to move on for reasons of work or had to move into a house he or she was paying for.

There are really two issues here. The first is selling a vacant house. The second is selling a house in the off-season. Here are some tips on how to do both:

Selling a Vacant House

Keep Up Maintenance and Repair – Even with no one around, surfaces need to be dusted and kept clean. Once people move out, minor items needing repair, like a leaky faucet or a burned-out light bulb, might not be noticed. It’s your job to notice, though, because signs of even minor disrepair or lack of maintenance can quickly turn off prospective buyers.

Clean the house or hire someone to clean it at least once a month. Surfaces need to be dusted, for example, and floors mopped or vacuumed. Do a walkthrough looking for repairs once a month, or hire a property manager to do it.

Make Sure the House Doesn’t Look Vacant A vacant property shouldn’t look vacant for two reasons: First, it’s uninviting to see an empty property. It’s less likely that a buyer will see themselves in the space; second, it’s an open invitation to thieves, vandals and even squatters. You don’t want to open the door one day and see that vandals spray-painted all over the walls.

Develop a plan. Pick up mail if the seller isn’t having it forwarded. Place lights on timers so that they go on automatically in the evening, just as they would if someone still lived there. Many have remote apps that make this easy.

Turn Heat or Air Conditioning on Regularly Don’t leave the heat or air conditioning off for long periods of time. Lack of heat can cause pipes to freeze or burst. Lack of air conditioning may make it difficult to cool the house properly when it comes time to show it. In addition, lack of proper ventilation can make the house smell musty and unused.

It’s best to run the heat and air conditioning at regular intervals while the house is vacant.

Focus on Curb Appeal Don’t skimp on curb appeal just because the house is vacant. If anything, making the house look inviting becomes even more critical if no one lives there. Keep the grounds and garden in the same pristine condition as the house. Paint the door a vibrant color. Place small trees on either side to frame it.

Stage the Interior When prospective buyers come, they need to see an interior that looks welcoming, and that allows them to visualize themselves in the house. They may not be able to do that fully if the house is completely empty.

On the other hand, completely furnishing an empty house may not be practical. What you need to do is stage the interior. Put focal pieces in each room, for example. You don’t need to create a functional room; you just have to give clients a sense of how the room would look if they lived there. In other words: a fireplace with wood, a lamp and a sofa in the living room might be enough. No need for matching armchairs and two more lamps!

Selling in the Off-Season

Price to Sell While you likely won’t attract the maximum number of buyers in the off-season, some people do look in the fall and winter. To move the house, the most prudent move is to price it to sell. If you’re in a hot market, that may be at a market price. If demand is a tad sluggish, price it slightly under. For most sellers, it’s better to sell at a price slightly under the asking price in October than to wait five more months, especially if they’re carrying the mortgage.

Sweeten the Offer Sweetening the offer may also help sell the house in the off-season. Nicely enough, sweeteners abound, depending on the property. Does a patio look as if it may need replacement in the next five years? See if the seller will replace it as a sweetener. Do the same with any major appliance that may go in five years, such as water heaters.

The other sweetener strategy is to wait for buyers to suggest things. Some may want a reseeded lawn or pruned trees. Entertain these offers if they look likely to result in a sale.

It can be more challenging to sell a vacant home in the off-season, but by utilizing these tips, you’ll place yourself at a strategic advantage in moving a house in the off-season.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Get Ahead of Home Maintenance Before the Holidays

By Susanne Dwyer

Twenty-four percent of home contractors recently surveyed by American Home Shield (AHS) reported Thanksgiving as the busiest holiday season for repairs and service. Get ahead of home maintenance with these tips from AHS:

  1. Wake your heating system from hibernation.
    No homeowner wants to wake up seeing their own breath because the furnace broke down in the middle of the night. Schedule a furnace check-up now with a heating system professional to ensure everything is running properly and that your system meets the manufacturer’s rated efficiency. One of the biggest causes of wasted energy is restricted air flow to the heating system, so have a contractor check that the filters and coils are allowing for enough air flow. Getting ahead of this issue will help you avoid appointment delays during the busy winter season and give you peace of mind.
  1. Give your gutters a fresh start.
    Leaves, twigs and other debris can easily clog gutters, which can lead to ice dams. Ice dams cause melting water to back up and flow into the house, resulting in a very expensive repair. Save yourself the money and trouble by thoroughly cleaning out your gutters after the leaves have fallen. Make sure to tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn sections before it’s too late. Check that downspouts extend at least five feet away from the foundation. If they don’t, buy an inexpensive extension.
  1. Mind the gaps.
    Walk around the inside and outside of your home and check it for air tightness, carefully looking for any signs of cracks where air could leak out, as this can be a significant source of energy loss. An inexpensive tube of caulk can help seal the leaks and also help prevent moisture from getting inside the walls of your home. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls or floors.
  1. Get smart—a smart thermostat, that is.
    The Wi-Fi rage is real, especially when it comes to your thermostat. If you still have a manual thermostat or even a programmable one, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Today’s models can learn your living patterns, heat only rooms that are occupied, turn up the heat as you near your home, allow you to make adjustments remotely from your phone, and much more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent a year in energy usage (and on your utility bills) by making smart adjustments to your thermostat.
  1. Double-check doors
    Inspect all doors that open to the outside or to the attic and be sure that they close tightly. An easy way to check for air leaks: place a piece of tissue in a clothespin, hold it at various points along the doorway and watch for any movement near the edge of the door and the frame. If you have a leak, take a photo of your door and door jamb, and ask an employee at your local hardware store for help finding the right weatherstripping or door sweeps. Air leaks cause your heating system to work harder, which costs you more money on your utility bills—and can shorten the lifespan of your system.

For more information, please visit www.ahs.com/home-matters.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893