Feb. 24, 2017

Avoid These Home Buying Pitfalls

The home buying process can be both exciting and overwhelming. Narrowing down your wishlist and looking at homes are the highlight of the process. But, there are also a lot of moving parts going on at once that some important details might get lost in the mix. 

You might not always think about the technical aspects or even the often forgotten about checklist items, which we’ll share for you here.

While you’re getting ready to buy a new home, be sure you avoid these pitfalls that could put a huge damper in your plans.

Not getting preapproved for a home loan - This should be one of the first steps you take in the home buying process, but some people choose to go straight into looking at homes. If you do that, you won’t know exactly how much house you can afford, simply by calculating your income. Not only does income count, but your credit score plays an important role in the rate you receive. Establish your baseline with getting preapproved and look at homes that are truly within your reach to avoid time wasted and disappointment.

Neglecting a home inspection - When looking at homes, ask if a home inspection has been done already. Sellers are encouraged to have home inspections done to motivate buyers ahead of time, especially for older homes. In addition, it’s common that a home inspection is included in the purchase process of a home. If it isn’t on the contract, inquire about it and be sure to utilize the findings in the negotiation process. Keep in mind that inspections done by seller are only reported to them, including severe issues, so being vocal about your concerns is helpful to avoid issues down the road.

Not negotiating with the sellers - For both buyers and sellers, it’s important to negotiate the cost to come together in agreement. It can be an intimidating process, but could potentially help particularly if the home inspection yields some issues that could eat into your budget. With the right team behind you, you’ll be able to gauge the possibility of negotiation and should always consider it. 

Not asking for help - Home buying is a daunting task and don’t be afraid to lean on your real estate team to give you the answers. Unless you are a real estate professional yourself, there can be a lot of hidden costs and questions that come up - and being ahead of the curb will ensure a smooth transition. For example, our Better Properties DuPont team are here for more than acting as a facilitator of home sales and buying, we want to make the process fulfilling.

Forgetting about hidden costs - These costs could come up and add more $$ to your budget without you realizing: appraisal fees, escrow fees, homeowner's insurance fees, and property taxes. The property you're eyeing might also have a homeowner’s Association, where you would have to tack on an additional fee to your monthly mortgage. Lastly, you might have to pitch in for the moving cost, which depends on how far you are moving. When working with your budget and potential homes, consider all these things so you don’t hit a bump that could hurt the home buying process.

Not being flexible - A wish-list is critical when home buying because how else will you know what to look for in a house? However, when you are looking at an existing pool of listings, you might have to compromise some aspects. Be sure you keep an open mind when looking at homes because you don’t want to pass up a home that could be a perfect fit for your family. If you’re married to specifics so much, it could be months and even years to find the home that would check off all the points on your list. Let your real estate professional help you look past the specifics.

Not planning long-term - Jumping into home buying premature should cause for lots of pitfalls. Map out your budget way in advance considering your preapproved home loan, all the hidden costs, just to be safe, as well as move-in costs like potential quick fixes as you get settled. Save up now, so you can ensure for a stress-free home-buying process. Having some buffer room with funds will help with peace of mind and avoid slow-downs along the way.

If you have any questions or would like to get your home buying process started, give us a call at 253-292-1132 or email us by clicking here.

Posted in Buying
Feb. 17, 2017

Getting Your Credit in Order

Before you buy, getting a pre-approved for a home loan is a major detail in the process. That will help you and your family narrow down for your home search. It can be an intimidating step because your past and current spending habits affect the rate.

 

No matter where your credit score lands, it’s important to keep the number high to ensure the best rate for your family. It’s also never too early to execute good credit practices. Even if you aren’t quite ready yet to buy, start with improving your credit score to get your family where they need to be when the time is right because it could take months to a year for improvement if your score isn’t ideal.

 

Wondering how you earn an awesome credit score? 750 to 850 is considered excellent. Here are five key practices to get your credit in order in the quickest way possible:

 

Pay off or down your balances to 30 percent balance to limit or lower.

 

Having a credit card is an important step to building a credit score, but if you don’t use it, it won’t benefit you at all. Be sure you’re using your card and keeping track of your spending so you know where you are at when it’s time to pay it off. Pay off your balance when it’s possible or get it down to 30 percent or lower to avoid any penalties in your score.

 

You want to show that you are responsible for maintaining your balances and can pay off your debts in a timely manner. This is a big component of building your credit score.

 

Pay them on time.

 

Punctuality is an important quality for a lot of things in life. It also helps with improving your credit score. Use a calendar to write down deadlines and pay off or down your balances on time.

 

If you are unable to get your balances as low as you’d like, pay the minimum to avoid any drastic decreases in your score. Paying on time shows companies you’re responsible and ready to take on the funds that put you in credit. Never skip a payment.

 

Keep all your accounts.

 

A big misconception is that it’s bad to have lots of credit cards at once, so you should work on closing accounts. However, closing accounts is actually NOT the best thing you can do to boost your credit score.

 

Credit history is very important for building your credit score and if you close an account that you’ve built a long history with, it will directly affect your overall credit score like you are starting over. Even if you aren’t using all your credit cards, keep them on the back burner because together they are actually helping your overall score.

 

Be consistent.

 

If you have three credit cards and you’re using all three of them for small transactions, it might bump your credit score for the worse. Use your cards consistently to keep get your score up or maintain a good score.

 

Another way to be consistent with your credit is not to be drastic with credit charges one month and then minuscule the next. Keep your spending at the same rate and that will help with getting your score at the level you want it.

 

Be patient.

 

Improving your credit score can take months or maybe years as mentioned before to get at the level that is best for acquiring the ideal home loan for you. You can’t necessarily speed up the process. To help with the process, especially if you notice your score is below 650 because that is considered the borderline of poor credit, reach out to a credit counseling group. They will work with you and creditors to improve your score and assist with getting yourself on the right track.

 

Companies like Money Management International have programs that are aimed to keep you on top of your credit and set you up for success. They also have home buying classes that could help with the financial aspect as you are prepping to get a home loan.

 

Remember, all you can do is be patient and make sure you are taking all the tips mentioned above to heart. If you execute them all, you’re bound to see your credit score increase over time. Sometimes as quick as 3-6 months or it could take a bit longer. Keep monitoring your score regularly to ensure you are going in the right direction.

 

If you have any questions or would like to get your home buying process started, give us a call at 253-292-1132 or email us by clicking here.

Posted in Buying
Feb. 2, 2017

5 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare Your Home for Sale and Improve Price

It might be hard to think of warmer weather as the temperature keeps dropping, but don’t let that distract you on tips and tricks to get your home ready for a spring sale now. 

We’ve put together five important components that are easy to do, especially if started early, and that won’t break the bank. Plus, once completed, these suggestions will help boost your home’s selling price and attract buyers!

Improve Curb Appeal

From DIY Network

As much as we say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” first impressions still stick. If your home has an unruly front yard, it could scare potential buyers from walking in the front door, even if it’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous inside.

Utilize these winter months to outline your landscaping efforts like weeding and grooming your lawn. With the right care and planning, it can be done on a dime. 

Cheap touch-ups like freshening up the paint on your front door or mailbox would call --attention to your home. Some other great options are adding flower boxes or planting a new tree to add more life on your property. 

Here is more comprehensive exterior home checklist to run through for your home:

  • Get new or paint front door
  • New hardware for front door
  • Add shutters or paint accent trim and shutters
  • New mailbox
  • Update house numbers
  • Add new foliage
  • New outdoor lighting
  • Add flower beds or boxes
  • Manicure/reseed lawn
  • Trim hedges

Easy Interior Updates 

From This Old House

With your home now open and clean, updating what’s worn and old would also motivate buyers. Similarly to improving your curb appeal, interior fixes don’t have to break the bank either.

In fact, all the improvements you make can overall contribute to the value of your property.  

This Old House suggests adding shade and privacy with affordable shutters for charm and functionality, especially with warmer months ahead.

Here is a more comprehensive interior home checklist to run through for your home:

  • Repaint rooms
  • Renew old flooring
  • New electrical switch plates
  • Replace or paint inside doors
  • Focus on entryway
  • New flooring, lighting, etc. - update and re-caulk bathroom
  • Refresh kitchen cabinets - with paint and/or updated knobs
  • Shutters for added charm
  • Update faucets - in kitchen and bathrooms
  • New door knobs
  • Re-insulate
  • Update backsplash
  • Add ceiling fans

More detailed wallet-friendly and long-term investment ideas are in their article here: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/21-quick-and-easy-budget-upgrades

Spring Cleaning/Purge

Families from coast-to-coast think about spring cleaning at the end of winter, so piggyback with that mindset as you’re preparing your home for sale. 

Purging unneeded or unwanted items open up space and takes away added goods for your own move to your future home. It’s a win-win situation!

In addition, a clutter-free house does encourage potential buyers to view the home you’re selling as their own. When given a clean place to look at, it helps them paint a better picture of themselves in it.

Realtor Magazine highlights different steps to make your home shine to potential buyers here: http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2013/10/clean-declutter-discard-make-house-shine-for-resale.

Thorough Inspection

From HGTV

Nothing scares a potential home buyer like an old house! Even with cosmetic updates that add value to your home for the aesthetics, it’s big turn is knowing a home hasn’t been looked at by a professional in ages. 

During the spring and summer months, homebuyers can think more about the effects of heat on your home because it’s top of mind. With a stamp of approval from a home inspector, it gives you an edge over other comparable houses and helps motivate buyers to look at your home at the top of their list. 

HGTV explains the importance of inspection in their piece here, in case you aren’t sold yourself, read this: http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/get-an-inspection-before-selling-your-home.

Stage for the Season

From HOUZZ

According to The Mortgage Reports, staging your home improves your chances to sell more than 70 percent. That’s an incredible amount!

Our team can help you with bringing out the best in your home and offer tips to stage your home the right way. HOUZZ has some great advice too, one that suggests creating functional spaces with otherwise confusing spaces.

For example, putting a desk and storage solution in an under-stair nook. It’s such a clever idea that allows potential homebuyers to be creative and appreciate your home.

Find more great ways to stage your home here: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2661221/list/sell-your-home-fast-21-staging-tips

For a list of 2016 cost vs. value of remodeling in the Seattle / Pacific Northwest Region to determine which projects will get you the biggest bang for your buck, click here.

Posted in Selling
Jan. 26, 2017

10 Reasons Why it's Time to Sell

If you’re not aware of the real estate market, you would think summer is the best time to sell. The days are longer and warmer. That’s when children are off school and families are most likely to buy, right?

Because of the large focus on the summer months, it actually makes spring an appealing time for sellers. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider to sell your home in the upcoming season:

  1. It’s a seller's market. The winter months turns off both buyers and sellers because of the cold weather and holiday season taking the forefront of family matters. With spring right after, families are now putting the holidays behind them and looking ahead, especially buyers. There is an advantage to sell now because there are more buyers than homes for sale, which leads to…
  2. Less competition. Because buyers are only looking at a smaller than usual pool of available houses, your home has the likelihood to stick out. To add more appeal to your home, consider our tips and tricks to prepare your home for a spring sale. 
  3. Rates are still low. Buyers are realizing that rates are also low, so the odds of selling are higher. Utilize the current climate for buyers to benefit your efforts to sell your home.
  4. Prices are in your favor. Conversely, you can generously price your home. Refer again to our article about preparing your home because you can also add value for doing small upgrades and edits to entice buyers to at least view your home. 
  5. With that said, the future rates and prices are up in the air, so don’t let the previous years of low rates and favorable prices fool you! This year is very similar to 2016, but as the economy is shifting, years following might not be as beneficial. If selling and buying a new home has been on your mind for awhile, now is the time to jump. We’ll be happy to go through your thoughts, so you can make the best-informed decision. 
  6. Undoubtedly spring is a time of year brings more warmth. People are attracted to images that are warm and inviting and the weather can highlight the beauty of homes otherwise hidden by snow. Trees are being revitalized and lawns are greening again. As people pack away winter coats, people are more likely to explore and consider new things, i.e. buying a new home!
  7. Your family is growing. Was it tight fitting everyone around the holiday tree last month? This is a general point on why it’s time to sell, but still important nonetheless. Even if your family isn’t growing by numbers, your children might be growing in height and stuff. Think about how your family is utilizing space now.
  8. The opposite, are you facing an empty nest or will it be coming soon? With the 2016-2017 ending in a handful of months, are you beloved kids packing up and embarking on a new adventure of their own. If you’re already at the point where you are going to them for the holidays, our current house might be a little too much for you now.
  9. A new generation is itching to buy. In addition to the first five points that speak to this year specifically, it’s hard not to leave out the generation that has already been penetrating the housing market. Millennials have been saving up and are ready to buy - and buy now. 
  10. Even if you’re not necessarily ready, now is still the time to dip your toes. Meaning, it’s early enough in the year to start going through the pros and cons of selling. Start doing your due diligence with your family to make sure you are all on the same page and ready for the process.

Call us or click this link to send us a message with any questions you have about buying or renting in DuPont, Lacey or Steilacoom! 253-292-1132

Posted in Selling
Jan. 23, 2017

Number 1 Real Estate Company in Sales

The Better Properties DuPont team had a very busy and successful 2016! We are so proud to announce that we ranked #1 in Real Estate Sales in DuPont, WA. 

The Better Properties DuPont team wants to thank our clients for the privilege of serving their real estate needs, resulting in our team closing the most sales transactions completed in DuPont during 2016!  Please let us know if we can serve you in the future.

We welcome 2017 and will continue to provide our clients with the highly professional and caring service they deserve.  If you or someone you know can benefit from our expertise, we welcome the opportunity to earn your business. 

Our stats from 2016:

  • 17 days on market average DOM
  • 99.72% list to sales price 
  • 4.9 out of 5 star reviews from 62 sales in last year

Looking to buy a new home?

Want a home valuation? 

 

Better Properties DuPont Team, call us at: 253.292.1132

 

 

Posted in Selling
Dec. 9, 2016

Holiday Safety in the Home

The holiday season is a magical time of year full of excitement and anticipation as decorations go up and friends and family gather together. To make sure your holiday season is memorable with good times, follow these 10 tips to keep your home safe and free from accidents.

Watch your step: The most common accident during the holidays is falling. To keep hazards at a minimum, pick up as you decorate. Make sure wires from lights are tucked away; keep stairs clear and well lit. Put away things you don’t need so you aren’t tripping over them.

Prevent choking hazards: If there are children in the home, make sure there aren’t any potential choking hazards from fallen ornaments, hooks, lights, or broken toys.

Put holiday décor out of reach: While many novelties look like toys, they are not and have not necessarily met any safety standards for children. Put breakable items and those with small parts out of reach of children.

Maintain safety with lights: Before you string up lights, inspect them for damage. If cords are frayed, cracked or old buy new ones. If a bulb needs to be replaced, unplug the lights before removing it. Always turn lights off when you go to bed or leave your home.

Keep children away from lights: It can be tempting to photograph your children with lights, but there are hidden dangers. Many lights have a warning, California’s Prop 65, that they may be carcinogenic and potentially cause birth defects from the lead in the plastic coating. Playing with electricity is never a good idea. If the wires are damaged, a child may get hurt. Don’t take the chance.

Hang outside lights carefully: Make sure when connecting cords that they stay off the ground and away from metal gutters. Use plastic clips and insulated tape to hang lights instead of nails and tacks. Check packaging to see how many light strings you can connect, generally only three, and only use lights approved for outdoor use. Do not connect more than one extension cord to another. Check your lights periodically to make sure they are not warm to the touch as well. If you will need a ladder to hang lights, choose one that is made of wood or plastic, as opposed to metal.

Use a timer: You can purchase indoor and outdoor certified light timers. This will keep you from touching cords and can save you money. By turning lights on after 7pm, you’ll miss the peak electricity use.

Check smoke alarms, fireplace and furnace: Change and test smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm batteries. Have your wood burning or gas fireplace inspected by a professional. Having your furnace inspected once a year is a good idea as well to prevent carbon monoxide problems.

Prevent fires: Do not leave candles unattended. Keep all paper and flammable items away from open flames. Use lights instead of the traditional candles to decorate your tree. Purchase a freshly cut tree. A dried out tree is more likely to catch on fire. Keep a fresh tree watered and away from flames.

Take your time: Don’t rush getting everything ready. Take your time to prevent accidents and make a list if it will help. Give yourself enough time to wrap presents, decorate and cook dinner to avoid cuts, burns and broken items. Place scissors and screwdrivers in a safe place near you to open gifts without cutting or hurting yourself trying to do it with your hands.

Considering safety in your home is always a good idea. By following these tips, you are likely to have a safe holiday to enjoy in your home with family.  Remember, it is always better to play it safe. If you are questioning yourself if something is ok or not, it probably isn’t. Keep your family safe and the holidays enjoyable.

 

Dec. 1, 2016

Holiday Décor Roundup

The holiday season is here and that means it’s time to decorate. Get into the holiday spirit by unpacking your favorite items. This is a great start to begin the holiday fun. You’re sure to find great holiday memories and you’ll be able to get an idea of what you have and what you would like to add this year. Perhaps you’ve moved to a new home or have recently reorganized your living space. That means you’ll have new areas to decorate. You can shop for new decorations or better yet, create new ones. Adding to a holiday collection is always fun. Here are ten great ideas to help make your home a festive wonderland.

Bring a little fun into the holiday season with these outdoor decorations

The holidays should be fun filled with magical moments and laughter. Bring a bit of fun to your yard with these outdoor decorations.

Make your banister stand out

Ann Drake of Life on Sutton Place did an outstanding job bringing warmth to her home by decorating her banister with garland, lights and ornaments. It looks elegant and with little effort.

Complete your tree with an elegant topper

You’ve spent the time finding the perfect ornaments; complete your tree with an elegant tree topper that will bring it all together. Balsam Hill has a wide selection to choose from that we love.

Find a decorative centerpiece

The centerpiece of your table should reflect your style. Do you like classic decorations or bright glittery designs? Will you choose a small centerpiece or a large one? HGT has a great photo gallery with options.

Have fun with edible decorations

Bring some fun into your decorations with these edible ornaments from Taste of Home. You’re sure to find a sweet idea you’ll want to make.

Brighten your home with a new wreath

Welcome your guests with a beautiful wreath hanging on your front door. You can make your own, purchase an inexpensive one or buy a luxuriously handcrafted wreath. Petal Pusher’s Wreaths and Designs has a great collection of festive wreaths to inspire you.

Spruce up your mantel

The fireplace is the center of the home, full of warmth. Sure you can just hang your stockings and be done with it, but adding garland, lights, holly or scented candles can really improve the space. Here are a few ideas to get your creativity going.

Display your holiday cards

Better Homes and Garden has a few creative ways to display your holiday cards. How do you usually place your holiday cards? Consider some of these fun ideas this year.

Have crafty kids?

Get them into the holiday spirit with fun crafts appropriate for their age. Parents.com has a great selection of age appropriate crafts to make with children. You’ll find wonderful ideas to get the kids truly in the holiday spirit.

Add a personal touch

Crafts aren’t just for kids. Put a personal touch in your decorations with some DIY ideas.

Still need some holiday decorating ideas? You’ll find plenty at House Beautiful.

 

Nov. 15, 2016

Home Winterization Checklist for the Northwest

Winter is quickly approaching and for the Northwest that means it’s time to get ready for wet weather. Prepare your home for the changing season by taking these steps to stay warm and safe and to prevent structural damage from moisture problems.

Make sure that you are prepared by following our winterization checklist.

Inside Your Home

  1. Start by cleaning the chimney and inspect it for damages that could cause a fire.
  2. If you don’t planning on using your fireplace, you can buy a chimney balloon to prevent drafts.
  3. Look at the weather stripping and caulk on your doors and windows. Fill in any gaps with caulk and replace weather stripping if needed. 
  4. Purchase a carbon monoxide detector. Homes that use gas heat should have one to ensure your family isn’t exposed to toxic levels of carbon monoxide that can stem from a gas leak or plugged flue.
  5. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
  6. Flush your water heater to make it more energy efficient and to potentially extend the life of it.
  7. To force hot air back down and keep you warm, switch your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise. 
  8. Replace your furnace filters to make it more energy efficient.
  9. Schedule a furnace inspection by a professional. This could cost between $50 and $100 and should include checking fuel connections, burner combustion, and the heat exchanger. 
  10. Put draft guards on entry doors to block cold breezes.  
  11. Adding a layer of insulation to your crawl space and attic can not only make your home warmer in the winter, but it can keep it cooler in the summer as well.
  12. If you plan on leaving your home for a few days, make sure the heat is set to at least 55 degrees.
  13. Upgrade your thermostat to a programmable one. You can set these digital thermostats for different temperatures throughout the day to save energy. 

The Yard

  1. Move potted plants inside and store outdoor furniture and barbecue grills inside as well or at least cover them.
  2. Consider adding a new coat of sealant to your wooden deck to combat high moisture.
  3. Seal cracks in your driveway or sidewalk.
  4. Buy bags of ice-melt or sand in case snow sticks.
  5. Check your yard drainage do ensure water flows away from your home.
  6. To prevent pipes from freezing and potentially bursting, drain all outdoor faucets and turn off the water.
  7. Drain garden hoses, roll them up, and store them in the garage.
  8. Winterize your lawn irrigation system by draining it as well. If you have a complicated system, you can have a professional help, but it will cost between $50 and $150.
  9. Too much moisture shortens the lifespan of building materials. Prune trees around your home to make sure trees do not touch the roof or siding.
  10. Seal entry points that small animals might use to crawl under the house.

 The Roof

  1. Inspect the flashing to make sure water will not seep into your home.
  2. Check for shingles that are loose and secure them. Replace old worn shingles or tiles.
  3. Clean out your gutter and downspouts. Winter can bring heavy rain, making it imperative to have clear drainage. 
  4. You can install leaf guards on your gutters as well as extensions on downspouts to send water away from your home.
  5. A big problem over the wet winter is moss on rooftops. Now is the time to apply moss killing granules or a liquid solution. Ensure you purchase roof specific granules as lawn granules contain iron, which would create rust on your roof. 

Plan ahead and follow these winterization steps. Taking action now can save you from a big headache and a lot of money on home repairs if you don’t do anything. Don’t forget in January to do a follow up on your crawl space. Standing water from drainage problems and moisture might not be visible in crawl spaces until this time. If you have followed these suggestions though, you’re likely to have a safe and warm winter in your home. 

Nov. 9, 2016

Honoring You and Your Family During Military Family Appreciation Month

Each November the president officially marks this month as military family appreciation month. All over America individuals and businesses celebrate family members of the brave men and women that defend our nation.

As veterans and military family members, with a combined total of 67 years of service, we understand the commitment it takes to be part of the military family. We know the sacrifices families make to keep service members strong and able to do their job. Military life has its struggles. How many times have you had to move and start all over again making friends and finding your way around a new town? Collectively, we’ve moved over 30 times. That’s a lot of change and a lot of stress.

This month we celebrate you and your hard work and dedication to family and military service. You are the ones on the home front keeping families together through deployments, TDYs, missed birthdays and special events. We’ve shared the same joys and sorrows. Between our veterans and family members, we’ve gone through 31 deployments. It can be hard to cope with the constant change, but you do it. As a military community, we all do. We push on and find strength within ourselves and within the community. We learn to do new things and to be independent. We also learn to make new friends and create memories at each duty station. We grow stronger, and eventually deployments and TDYs end, and other special occasions arise that your family is able to share.

Homecomings are wonderful moments where the burden washes away and there is only happiness and gratitude. Let’s focus on those moments and keep that joy in our hearts. You are strong, passionate and dedicated. You have a love for this country that is unparalleled. That is why we celebrate you this month, and always. We know where you’ve been, and we’re right there with you. Happy National Military Family Appreciation Month from all of us.

Sept. 2, 2016

Fall Tips for Renters and Home Owners

Whether you rent or own your home, it’s still critical to make sure it’s equipped to stand the next couple of months with the weather cooling down. Not only prep for the elements, but it’s also beneficial to start rolling out the warmer gear inside.

Our team has put together some of our favorite tips from popular home decorating and improvements sites to help get your family and home ready for fall. So, don’t forget to add these to-dos now:

INTERIOR

From HOUZZ: Get organized for back to school (and work). Consider what would make this fall run more smoothly for your family: a few extra hooks in the entryway to handle coats and bags, perhaps? Or if papers are a constant problem, take the time now to set up a simple filing system and an inbox for each family member. For more.

From Good Housekeeping: Perform a pantry audit. First, remove all the cans and boxes from the shelves, and vacuum away any lingering dust or crumbs (a lot can build up in just a few months!). Then, inspect each item before putting it back in its place, tossing anything that is expired or past its prime. Consult our shelf-life chart as a helpful guide. For more.

From Chatelaine: Bring your outdoor pillows, in. We love that so many pillows on the market this season can be used indoors and outdoors. Add to your existing pillow collection by transitioning yours inside after the summer’s over. Tip: If you’re storing your pillows instead, put them in a box or garbage bags before placing them in your garage and shed. It will keep them fresh for next season. For more.

EXTERIOR

From Kiplinger: Hit the roof. Or at least scan it closely with binoculars. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow. For home owners, if need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles ($95 to $125, according to www.costhelper.com) or a roofer for a larger section ($100 to $350 for a 10-by-10-square-foot area). Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too. If you’re renting, let your landlord know if you see anything out of the ordinary. For more.

From Better Homes and Gardens: Chill out. If you live in an area with freezing weather, take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and in-ground irrigation systems don't freeze and burst. Here's how: Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.) If you don't have shut-off valves, and your faucets are not "freeze-proof " types, you may benefit from Styrofoam faucet covers sold at home centers. For more.

From This Old House: Don't put that mower away yet. Grass continues to grown up to the first hard frost, and so will need regular cuts to keep it at an ideal 2½- to 3-inch height. If you let it get too long, it will mat and be vulnerable to fungi like snow mold. Cutting grass too short is just as bad, because it curtails the root system—root depth is proportional to cutting height—and impedes the lawn's ability to withstand winter cold and dryness. Regular mowing also gets rid of those pesky leaves, chopping them up and leaving behind a soil-enhancing mulch. For more.

From AHRN.com (a comprehensive list): Smoke detectors/Carbon Monoxide detector- Test all, put in fresh batteries, add any where a need has arisen since last time. Check expiration dates on your fire extinguishers, and if refilling is needed, call your fire department, who often does this on site gratis. Don’t have them? GET THEM! You should at least have  two around the house – one easily reachable in the kitchen. And take 3 minutes to familiarize everyone with how to actually use them! For more.

If you do rent, be sure you connect with your landlord if you come across any issues as you go through these tips because some improvements do involve maintenance jobs.

 

Posted in Buying, Selling