Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Fresh Start

Most New Year’s resolutions involve promises to fit into last year’s suit and to avoid the fast-food lane. But don’t let your self-improvement list end there. These home improvement tips, suggested by About.com, can help make your home safer and healthier in the New Year.

Safety first. Make this the year to be truly prepared by creating a household emergency kit. Pack it with first aid supplies, a working flashlight, batteries, extra blankets, a can opener and some nonperishable food. Also take the time each month to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Purify the air in the home by swapping out furnace filters every month, and burn real firewood rather than mass-produced logs to avoid potentially harmful chemicals.

Throw it away. De-clutter your life one room at a time. Start with the kitchen: Toss and recycle containers that have long since lost their matching lids, and pare down small appliances to the ones you use most often. Then head to the bathroom and dump half-used bottles of shampoo or face wash that have gone unused in the past six months to clear up space. Finish in the living room by consolidating or recycling old magazines or newspapers.

Invest wisely. Is your refrigerator on its last legs? Saving money to update or replace aging appliances should be on every homeowner’s mind. By saving a small amount each week — say $10 or $20 — homeowners can work toward a specific goal, such as a purchasing a more energy-efficient washer and dryer set. When deciding what to buy, be sure to research any potential cost-saving tax benefits, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Selling Tips

While the weather outside might be frightful, selling your home during the winter doesn’t have to be. Fewer buyers are shopping for homes at this time of year, but those who are searching tend to be serious buyers, housing experts say. And that’s good news if you are selling your home. The following tips from Bankrate.com and Coldwell Banker can help you get your house ready for winter showings.

First, pay attention to your home’s exterior. Make sure outdoor lights and doorbells work properly. If you live in a cold-weather region, clear the sidewalks of snow and ice before visitors arrive. Plow the driveway as well as sections of the street so people have a place to park their car.

Holiday decorations are okay, but don’t overdo it. Some REALTORS® believe that a decorated home helps buyers envision whether it could become their next home, but keep decorations light and simple, such as a strand of garland wrapped around the stair railings and a wreath on the door.

Indoors, set the thermostat to 70 degrees. Cold houses don’t sell, and shivering buyers won’t stick around to make an offer. A few scented candles, a holiday wreath and a crackling fire can create a warm, welcoming environment. A furnished, organized home appeals to buyers too, so make sure the beds are made and counter tops and closets are clutter-free.

Finally, be flexible with your plans. Winter weather can change quickly, so listen to the weather forecast and be ready to reschedule if a major storm heads your way.