6  Tips to Make Your Sweet Home Also a Save One

6  Tips to Make Your Sweet Home Also a Save One

You moved into a new home – congratulations! Once you unpack and have settled in, you should run through a home safety checklist to make sure you and your family are as secure as possible in your sweet home. Run through at least the following steps:

1. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Install at least one smoke alarm and Carbon monoxide alarms on each level and in each sleeping area. Make sure the smoke alarms are less than 10 years and the carbon monoxide detectors less than 7 years old and test and clean the alarms monthly. Change batteries as needed or at least annually.

2. Electrical Cords & Appliances

Electrical cords should not be frayed or cracked and you should avoid having electrical cords under rugs or run across doorways. Instead of using extension cords you might want to consider adding more electrical outlets and large and small appliances should be plugged directly into wall outlets. Keep the clothes dryer lint filter and venting system clean.

3. Home Heating

Hire a chimney sweep and have the chimney and furnace inspected and cleaned annually by a professional. Furniture and other easy to catch fire items should be at least 3 feet from wall heaters, fireplaces and baseboards. If you have a fireplace put the ashes outdoors in a covered metal container at least 3 feet from anything that could easily catch fire. Water heaters should be inspected annually and the temperature should be set not higher than 120 degrees. When using space heaters make sure to never use extension cords.

4. Candles

This should be common sense, but: candles should be in sturdy fire-proof containers and extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. Never leave your kid or pet unattended with candles.

5. Fire Extinguishers

It’s a simple thing to do, yet most homeowners don’t have a fire extinguisher. Keep one on every level and in the kitchen and learn how to use them, so you are prepared and comfortable using them if necessary. Replace as needed.

6. Home Escape Plan

The most important tip is to have an escape plan. If possible, figure out two ways out of each room. This could mean one exit is through the window if necessary. If you live in a two-story home, you might consider buying a rescue ladder. When escaping make sure you crawl low to the floor to avoid toxic smoke and once you’re out, stay out! Have a chosen meeting place in front of your house. Make sure every member of your household knows the home escape plan in advance and practice it together at least once.

by: Patricia Madigan

5 Tips to Improve Your Home Appraisal  

5 Tips to Improve Your Home Appraisal  

A low appraisal is what every home seller fears. In order to not be unpleasantly surprised by a lower-than-expected value of your home you should plan and prepare the following steps before the appraiser arrives at your door:

1. Ask If They Are Local

A homeowner cannot specifically choose an individual appraiser but they can request an appraiser with field experience in the market where the home is. If your appraiser doesn’t know the local area, creating a list of comparables of your area can be helpful (see tip number 5).

2. Tidy Up the House

Although technically an appraiser isn’t supposed to take the appearance of the home into consideration as much as the actual condition of the home, you still want to make sure your home is in good show condition for the appraisal. You want your home to look clean and offer great curbside appeal, so keep your landscape well maintained, cars out of the driveway to minimize the appearance of clutter and give the appraiser access to your entire home.

3. Make the Appraiser’s Visit a Pleasant One

Don’t go crazy here, but do the simple things that will make the appraiser feel comfortable and your home inviting. Adjust the home’s temperature and lock up your pets if you have them.

4. Make a Cheat Sheet of All Updates and Upgrades

Keep and maintain an itemized list of all updates and upgrades done to your home, especially those improvements that aren’t noticeable like electric, plumbic and a new roof. Pay attention to the upgrades that will increase your ROI. If you are planning to update the house, be careful to not over-improve your home. Cost may not equal value and whatever you spent does not necessarily translate to a dollar for dollar value increase.

5. Prepare Comps

Keep comparables from homes similar to yours on hand to show the appraiser; if you aren’t working with a real estate agent to help you, keep the following in mind: don’t just search for comps that will best drive up the value of your home. Appraisers will search for comps that are most similar to the subject property in size, location, construction etc.  Before representing comps ask yourself if the comps would be a good replacement and similar enough that a buyer would theoretically consider buying them instead of the subject property. The comps should also be located in the same neighborhood, be of somewhat similar size and be recent.

 

 

6 Ways to Make Your Home More Secure

More than 1.5 million burglaries were reported in the united states in 2015. Most home safety tips are common sense and there is not one singular action that will prevent you from robbery. Instead you have to follow multiple rules that will provide you with a greater home security. Here are seven tips to improve your home’s security:

1. Make Security a Habit

Talk to your family members and create a routine with simple rules such as to always look doors and windows, close and lock the garage door and use your alarm system if you have one. Make sure to take those steps even if you’re just doing a quick trip to a store or running errands.

2. Use Timers

If you want to pretend that your house is occupied using timers to turn on lights, radio or TVs can be helpful. These days there are even fake TVs available that simulate the flickering lights of a TV in order to fool intruders into thinking you are home.

3. Light Up

Buy and install motion-sensing outdoor lighting near each point of entry to make your home well lit or set your exterior lights on a timer. Replace burned-out light bulbs if necessary. If you are using light/timers inside of your home, put them in a spot where burglars can’t see them.

4. Assess Windows and Doors

Sliding windows and doors are an easy entry point for intruders and need extra protections. An easy hack to make them more secure is to put a wooden dowel or metal bar in the track. Another option would be to install a window sensor alarm which notifies you via text or email when a window has been opened in your home.

Even though electric garage doors are not a common point of entry, you still want to make sure the inner door is locked as well.

5. Add Warning Signs

If you are paying for a security system, post home security signs and window stickers near all entry points and in your yard. Installing fake security cameras near your front and back door could be another option as well as putting up a “beware of dogs” sign on your fence or any other visible spots.

6. Use Discretion on Social Media

We all like to share exciting news on social media, but you might want to reconsider leaving status updates broadcasting to everyone you are on vacation for two weeks. You can always post beautiful pictures of all your fun trips when you come back home.

7. Other Tricks

Piled up flyers or newspapers on your doorstep show very clearly that no one is at home. You might want to cancel newspaper subscriptions or ask the post office to hold your mail while you’re out of town. Make sure your landscaping is neat and trimmer and don’t leave a ladder just hanging out in your backyard to prevent easy access to a balcony or second-floor window.

 

By: Patricia Madigan

 

A Quick Look at Five Common Home Warranty Repairs

It’s a question that’s likely to pop up as you consider home warranties. When will a home warranty come in handy? We thought it’d be helpful to outline some specific scenarios to answer that very question. These are great examples of when you will be able to count on using your home warranty.

Scenario 1: The garbage disposal stops working.

A fussy garbage disposal is no fun, and a home warranty can be quite helpful here. Assuming the concern is normal wear and tear, this is within the scope of home warranty coverage. A plumber can help resolve the jam or replace the garbage disposal if necessary.

By the way, a good rule of thumb — if you can’t chew it up yourself, don’t expect your garbage disposal to handle it. Only put items down your sink that can be broken down with relative ease.

Scenario 2: The toilet gets stopped up.

Yes, this is another not-so-exciting, but common, concern. Similar to the garbage disposal, your home warranty will come in handy here assuming the issue is related to standard use. (Don’t go throwing anything you shouldn’t down there!) Most of the time the plumber will be able to clear the stoppage with a snake. In some more complicated cases, a full toilet replacement may be necessary and would typically be covered by your home warranty.

Scenario 3: The water heater stops heating or starts leaking.

Not heating? It’s likely an element problem. Leaky? It may end up requiring replacement. Either way, this is a typical scenario within the scope of home warranty coverage.

An extra tip — be sure to flush your water heater at least once a year. Doing so can remove some of the sediment that builds up over time and thus extend the life of the water heater.

Scenario 4: The AC stops running or blows hot air.

This is, of course, a biggie here in the Valley of the Sun. Our AC units take a big beating, so repair needs are likely. Covered AC issues range quite a bit from failed capacitors, compressors, motors and contactors to leaks within the system.

When problems arise, here’s a good first step — check for dead batteries in the thermostat or bad circuit breakers or fuses. Also make sure you’ve changed your air filters recently. (This should be done every month to maintain proper airflow.)

While we’re talking AC, we do want to go ahead and bust a major home warranty myth. A home warranty is NOT likely to cover the entire cost of replacing an aging AC unit, so be sure to plan for significant out-of-pocket expenses if your AC unit is past its prime. More likely, having a home warranty will help reduce the cost of replacement.

Scenario 5: The microwave stops working.

When your microwave decides to stop doing its thing, a home warranty can help too. An appliance technician will be able to trace the source of the problem and resolve the issue through repair or replacement.

While every home and scenario is unique, these examples help paint a picture of typical home warranty claims for you and your clients. When one of these common home issues arises, a home warranty can serve as a go-to plan for repairs that helps bring a bit of convenience and predictability.

 

To learn more about our home warranties, head here or call 602.733.5000.

 

By: Platinum Home Warranty  www.platinumhw.com

5 Things To Avoid When Buying A Home

 

Buying a home can be fun and exciting, but there are also some common mistakes that many people make. Here are 5 things you should avoid when shopping for a home:

1. Don’t buy a house without a real estate agent

In these days where everything can be done online it’s easy to forget that purchasing a home is a big financial move. Of course it is super exciting to look online and doing this can be helpful for you to figure out what you like and what not. But finding the right home is just one part of the buying process; there’s so much more to it – like negotiating, writing up the offer, ensuring a smooth transaction – and a professional real estate agent can help you through each step.

2. Don’t get a loan from a random bank

Once you have found a trusted real estate agent, it’s time to meet with a mortgage company to talk about finances and to get you pre-approved. Most likely your real estate agent will recommend a few lenders he or she has worked with and has had good experience with before. While this can be very helpful, it is up to you as the buyer who you want as your lender. You might want to talk to a couple of different lenders to get all the options and find the best loan for you.

3. Don’t over- or understate your budget

After you have spoken to your preferred lender, let your real estate agent know what your real budget is. If you can only afford a home for $250,000, but let your agent show you houses in the $400k range, it’s a waste of time for everyone. But also don’t understate how much you can and are willing to spend, otherwise you might not get to see houses that might be a great fit for you.

4 Don’t make an absurdly low offer

We all want to save money, especially when talking about thousands of dollars. But when your offer is too low you might offend the seller and risk not even getting a counteroffer back. Your  real estate agent should know the market and can help you with assessing the right purchase price.

5.  Don’t be a big spender

Now that you bought a new house you might feel tempted to buy new furniture or a new washer/dryer – don’t do it. Your credit is monitored and any big purchases will throw off your debt-to-income ratio, which could jeopardize your loan approval. Keep the the balances on your credit cards low and do not take on new debt until after the sales closes.

 

By: Patricia Madigan