Real Estate News

    • Home Improvement? Totally Worth It

      5 December 2019

      If you’re on the fence about a home improvement project, wondering whether or not it will be worth the time, money and disruption to daily life, consider the results of a recent survey.

      According to the 2019 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), with insights from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), homeowners who decide to undergo a home improvement project, whether it be interior or exterior modifications, often find that the task was worth the investment and time.  

      The report examines a variety of remodeling projects, using responses to rank the appeal of a given project, rank the value of the project in terms of resale and determine its overall functionality. The findings also reveal the reasons for remodeling, the success of taking on the various projects and the increased happiness reported in the home upon completion of the job.

      According to the report, after completing a remodeling project, 74 percent of owners have a greater desire to be in their home, 65 percent say they experience increased enjoyment, and 77 percent feel a major sense of accomplishment. Additionally, 58 percent report a feeling of happiness when they see their completed projects, while 38 percent say they have a feeling of satisfaction.

      NAR also went on to calculate what they refer to as a "Joy Score" for each project. The score is based on the happiness homeowners reported with their renovations; the more pleased with a given project, the better the Joy Score, with the highest possible score being 10. Interior projects that received some of the higher Joy Scores are complete kitchen renovations, closet renovations, full interior and individual room paint jobs, kitchen upgrades and basement conversions to living areas. Exterior jobs with the highest Joy Scores were new fiberglass or steel front doors, new vinyl and wood windows and new roofing.

      The most important result of a kitchen renovation is improved functionality and livability, according to 46 percent of those polled. As to the reasons why they decided to take on the project, 24 percent say they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces and materials. Another 20 percent report they had recently moved into their home and had a desire to customize the kitchen to their particular tastes.

      Upgrading home closets was another task that received a 10 Joy Score. This is due, in part, to the inconvenience of a disorganized closet, which is something a homeowner encounters daily, often at the start of their day. When a closet renovation is finished, the sense of achievement is immediate. Therefore, 68 percent of those surveyed say they feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the completed project. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) report having a greater desire to be at home since finishing the job.

      Of course, homeowners often take on projects with resale in mind, rather than their own home preferences. The report found the top projects for recovering cost are new roofing, hardwood floor refinishing and new hardwood floor installation. NARI Remodelers estimate that new roofing costs $7,500, and REALTORS® estimate that new roofing helps sellers recover $8,000, on average. That equates to 107 percent of value recovered from the project.

      Finally, NARI remodelers estimate that new wood flooring costs $4,700, with REALTORS® estimating the project helps sellers recover $5,000, or a 106 percent value recovery. NARI Remodelers estimate that hardwood floor refinishing costs $2,600, and REALTORS® estimate that the hardwood floor refinishing would help sellers recover $2,600.

      Consider these stats when you’re contemplating your next home renovation. Your future happiness and the financial return may make it well worth it.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Ways to Share the Holidays With Your Pet

      5 December 2019

      (Family Features)--The holiday season is filled with traditions, seasonal meals and festivities. With busy calendars, it can be easy to get caught up with a long to-do list when the true joy of the season is in creating meaningful memories with loved ones, including pets.

      It can be easier than you think to share the season with your furry companions simply by incorporating them into your regular holiday activities. Consider these tips to include your pet this holiday:

      Enjoy the season with a stroll. Many families brave winter weather to take in the holiday lights and decorations around their neighborhoods. Taking a stroll with family and friends can be a joy for not just you, but also your pup. Bundle up and soak in the season, and make sure your pet is ready to brave the weather with any necessary accessories.

      Include pets during mealtime. Make mealtime special for you and your furry friend by mixing up his or her usual dinner routine.  

      Welcome pets to family gatherings. Spend time bonding with the whole family by including your pet in a seasonal activity like watching a holiday movie or decorating your tree. Snuggle under blankets, sip cocoa and offer your furry friend belly rubs on a cozy night in.

      Check your list twice. Take a breather from thinking about hard-to-buy-for friends and family members and grab a gift for someone who loves everything. Pick up a treat or new toy to gift your pet when the family is opening presents. Keeping your pet engaged with a favorite toy or treat also offers focus during a time that can be overly exciting for your pet.

      Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 8 Things to do Before Leaving Home for the Holidays

      5 December 2019

      Leaving home for the holidays can be the highlight of the year, whether you're off to grandmother's house with the family, or headed to that annual tropical getaway. However, homes left vacant during the holidays can be a prime target for theft, or vulnerable to severe weather damage. 

      To help, Erie insurance offers the following top-of-mind tips before you pack your bags and hit the road or runway.  

      Share your itinerary. Let a few trusted people know where you are going and when. They will more than likely text you if they need to reach you, but you should still share the rundown of your travel plans, including departure and arrival dates, flight numbers and times, and a contact number where you'll be staying. After all, a backup is always good in case something happens to your phone (or your ability to charge it). 

      Take care of deliveries. Don't forget to have something done about your mail. If a neighbor can collect it daily, that's an easy way to also keep tabs on your place. Otherwise, simply request that the postal service hold it for you. This is the holiday season, of course, so leave instructions for all packages too.

      Don't forget snow removal. Nothing screams "No one's home!" like a driveway heaping with untouched snow. Hire someone to come by and remove the snow and ask a neighbor to pull up and turn around in your driveway from time to time, just to leave tracks.

      Lights. What's the easiest way to deter a burglar? Make them doubt that they are working with an empty house. Invest in a set of timers for your TV room and bedrooms and set them to switch on lamps at various times. Also leave a radio tuned to a talk radio station—the sound of voices coming from inside could help deter a burglar. 

      Thermostat. If you have a pet-free home, you can lower the temperature to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm enough to keep things from freezing, but cool enough to give your furnace and energy usage a break.

      Water. Should a pipe burst or even leak while you're gone, it could slowly empty water right into your basement and damage appliances, furniture and much more. Turn off the water main in your home before you leave and drain the pipes by flushing the toilets and turning on the faucets. Also turn your water heater down to "vacation mode" so you aren't spending money on keeping water warm when you're not around.

      Electronics. Unplug everything that will not be in use while you're away, including your washer and dryer, television, computer, toaster and coffee maker. Appliances can still consume energy when they're plugged in and not in use.

      Winter kit. Since a winter storm can hit with little warning, it's a good idea to round up a few items to store in your trunk should you get stranded or stuck. Consider a sleeping bag, fresh water, non-perishable snacks, boots, jumper cables, shovel, a plastic jug filled with sand or cat litter and a red bandana. 

      Source: Erie Insurance Group

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Nine Hostess Gifts for Happy Holiday Hosting

      4 December 2019

      December is holiday party month, and you’ll likely be invited to several. If you’re loath to give another bottle of wine or a box of candy, and are looking for more creative hostess gifts likely to be treasured, take a tip or two from creative contributors to Pinterest: 

      Kitchen helpers - Using a length of colorful ribbon, tie a few wooden spoons and/or spatulas to a pretty, folded dishcloth. Add a note of thanks, and you’re good to go.  

      Italian basket - Line a basket with a couple of red-checked cloth napkins and fill it with fun-shaped pastas, a jar of homemade marinara and a good-sized chunk of parmesan cheese.

      Yummy jams - Wrap a jar or two of fancy jam in clear or colored cellophane and tie it with a wide red ribbon bow.

      Cinnamon cocoa - Fill a pretty mug - or a monogrammed mug - with imported cocoa and a cinnamon stick, wrap it in cellophane and tie it with a ribbon. Or buy two mugs, fit them into a small basket and pack the goodies in the basket before wrapping.

      Holiday candles - Wrap a few tapers in cellophane with a big bow, and/or wrap up a box of votive candles. What hostess won’t appreciate these?

      Homemade salsa, dry rub or ice cream sauce - Have a recipe you love? Tie a ribbon around a jar or two of your own, along with the recipe to share.

      A breakfast loaf - Bake up a loaf of your favorite banana bread, cinnamon raisin loaf or another yummy breakfast standard, and wrap it up with love and cellophane.

      Guest towels - Choose a short stack of initialed, holiday or all-season fingertip towels, wrap a ribbon around the middle of the stack and you’re good to go.

      Cheese board - Tape a round of brie or gouda and a wedge of Swiss or cheddar to a small cheese board and wrap it all with see-through holiday cellophane and ribbon.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Help Your Trees Survive a Storm

      4 December 2019

      If you’re expecting severe weather in the season ahead, it’s time to help your trees get ready to withstand the storm. The National Association of Landscape Professionals suggests you take these six steps right now to make sure your trees are up to the next weather challenge:

      1. Carefully inspect your trees. Look for peeling bark, chips or cracks in the trunk. Is the soil heaving at the base? Are there holes or cavities, dead branches or leafless twigs and budless branches? All of these symptoms are signs of a weakened tree that needs pruning or possibly removal, depending on how widespread the damage is.

      2. Start pruning. Cut away dead, weak or diseased branches and twigs. While this will protect your tree and your property, and added benefit is that it will let in more light for your yard and garden.

      3. Add support. If you have a weakened tree, add flexible steel cables or braces to help support it. This will help transfer the tree’s weight from weaker branches to stronger ones, preventing it from bending and snapping.

      4. Install lightning protection. If thunderstorms are a frequent threat in your area, consider installing a lightning protection system to help direct storm-related electricity aways from trees and through cables that direct it into the ground. 

      5. Keep up with maintenance. Don’t neglect routine maintenance, like watering, mulching and fertilizing, all of which play a big part in keeping trees healthy. 

      6. Treat as necessary. If your trees are afflicted with pests or disease, contact a professional who can treat them accordingly before the problem spreads throughout your property. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.