How to reduce the chance of burglary by 90%

 
No one wants to deal with a burglary. How do you reduce the chances of one happening?
 
Fortunately, burglaries are a well-studied phenomenon — especially by law enforcement. These studies have identified specific things you can do to cut the risk dramatically. Here are some ideas:
 
• 34% of home break-ins occur through the front door. Experts
recommend investing in a door with a top-quality locking mechanism. (The best are those that lock at three points of contact.)
 
• 50% of burglars will be deterred if your home has some sort of video monitoring system. A thief doesn’t want his face on YouTube!
 
• Unfortunately, signs and window stickers warning of an alarm system do not deter thieves. However, 62% of burglars will immediately run away when an alarm goes off. Always turn on your alarm system when you’re not home!
 
• 22% of burglaries occur through a sliding glass door or patio door. Make sure it’s locked and also use a solid metal jammer.
 
• Some thieves use frequency scanners to gain access to garages. Police recommend changing your remote entry code regularly and putting blinds or curtains on garage windows so thieves can’t see (and be tempted by) any valuables inside.
 
As you can see, there are many simple things you can do to reduce your chances of a burglary dramatically. The effort is worth it.

Extending the life of cut flowers

 
There are few things more beautiful than cut flowers in a vase. They instantly brighten any room. That is, of course, until they wilt and die. So how do you make cut flowers last as long as possible? Here are some ideas:
 
• Cut the bottom of the stems before you put the flowers in the vase. An angled cut is best as this will enable the flower to draw in more water.
 
• Add a fertilizer to the water. Most flower shops include a pouch with the order. Follow the directions carefully. Don’t use too much.
 
• Make sure the vase is high enough to support the flowers. Too much strain on the stems will cause the flowers to die sooner.
 
• After a couple of days, re-snip the stems. This will add an additional day or two to the life of the flowers.
 
• Flowers last longer if you put them in the fridge (in water) overnight. That’s why florists store cut flowers in cool rooms.
 
Finally, watch the water level and top off as required. Older cut flowers will die quickly when starved of water — even for just a couple of hours.

The latest in kitchen fire prevention. What you need to know

 
More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Those fires can be expensive; since even a minor incident, with no injuries, can result in significant damage. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest in fire prevention.
 
The most recent research tells us:
 
• Never leave cooking food unattended. Doing so is the number one cause of kitchen fires.
• Make sure cooking appliances, especially deep fryers, are safety certified by the appropriate government agency.
• When using oil in a frying pan, always heat slowly at no more than a medium heat setting.
• Always turn off stove burners and other cooking appliances
immediately after cooking.
• Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Use baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
• Never remove or cover up a smoke detector due to nuisance alarms. The one alarm that isn’t a nuisance may save your life.
 
Finally, experts say that if you can’t put out a fire immediately, get everyone out of the home and call emergency services.

Simple ways to reduce your monthly utility costs

 
Many homeowners think there’s not much they can do about telephone, heating, water and other utility expenses. Sure, you may grumble about a high heating bill one month, but what can you do about it?
 
Turns out, you can do plenty. There are several ways to reduce monthly utility costs that can save you tens or even hundreds of dollars. For example:
 
• Shop around for a better phone plan. Then contact your phone company. They might match the rates.
 
• Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. You likely don’t need tap water to be that hot.
 
• Clean the screen on your outside air conditioning unit regularly. (Gently with the water hose.) Dirt and leaves can build up on it,
reducing the unit’s efficiency.
 
• Leverage the sun. Open curtains in the winter to gain heat. Block direct sunlight in summer to keep the cool air inside.
 
• Scrutinize your bill. There may be extras you’re paying for that you don’t need.
 
• Play with the thermostat. Experiment with setting the temperature a couple of degrees lower. You might not notice any difference.
 
It’s worth paying attention to your utility costs. Just a few smart moves can save you some serious money.

Should you "High Ball" your listing price?

 
One of the most important decisions you make when selling your home is setting the listing price. That can be tricky. After all, if you price your property too low, you leave money on the table — perhaps thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you price your home too high, many buyers won’t even bother to see it, believing it is too expensive.
 
Even with that reality, there are some sellers who contemplate setting a high listing price in the hopes of a windfall. They want some unsuspecting buyer to fall in love with the home and buy it — even though it’s overpriced.
 
That rarely, if ever, happens.
 
Instead, the listing often languishes on the market because its listing price is conspicuously much higher than its market value.
 
Think about it. If two similar homes, side-by-side, are for sale, and one is priced $40,000 higher than the other, wouldn’t you wonder what was going on? That’s exactly what the market thinks. “Why is that home priced so high?”
 
Of course, many buyers, who might otherwise be interested in the property, won’t even consider seeing it, simply because it’s outside their price range.
 
It gets worse. When an overpriced home sits on the market with no offers for several weeks, the price will often need to be adjusted down. That helps the situation a little. However, you’ve lost the excitement created by a “new listing.” Yours is now an old listing struggling to get attention.
 
There’s a better way…
 
Setting your list price at or near the market value is much more likely to generate interest from qualified buyers and maximize how much you make on your home.
 
That market value may even be higher than you think!
Interested in finding out how much? Call today.

Making your home critter proof

 
You may love animals, but with the exception of your family pets, you don’t want them in your home. Here are some tips for keeping the wildlife around your property where it belongs: outside.
 
• Don’t place bird feeders too close to your windows. Doing so may cause birds to associate a window with food and therefore try to peck their way inside.
 
• Make sure window screens are secure. If you can push a screen loose with your hand, so can a bird or other animal.
 
• Check screens on dryer vents and chimneys. If they are damaged, fix or replace them.
 
• To determine how animals are entering your home, stuff wadded paper in the suspected entry point. If the paper is disturbed the next day, you’ll know where they got in.
 
• Never leave food outside, unattended. After a barbeque, for example, take all remaining food inside.
 
If you do find an animal in your home, never try to pick it up. It may bite or have rabies. Instead, call a professional.

When Is the Right Time to Talk to a REALTORĀ®?

 
When would you talk to a car salesperson? Probably only once you’re ready to buy a new car. You would do some initial research (perhaps on the internet), get an idea of what you want, and then go to the dealership to meet a salesperson, test drive the car and make the purchase.
 
Although that approach may work when you’re buying a car, it’s not the best approach when it comes to real estate.
 
You see, successfully buying or selling a home requires a lot of planning and legwork. You want the process to go smoothly, the right decisions to be made, and the best possible deal to be negotiated.
 
After all, this is the purchase and/or sale of your home!
 
So, the best time to talk to a REALTOR® is as early in the process as possible.
In fact, even if you’re just thinking of buying or selling — and simply want to explore the possibility of making a move sometime this year — you should have a conversation with a good REALTOR®.
 
A REALTOR® will answer your questions, provide you with the information and insights you need, help you avoid costly mistakes, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction
.
When you are ready to buy or sell, having worked with a REALTOR® early in the process will help ensure you get what you want.
 
So talk to a good REALTOR® when:
 
• You have a question about the local market.
• You want to know what your home might sell for today.
• You’re interested in checking out homes currently available on the market.
• You’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to make a move.
• You’ve decided to buy or sell.

How much should you budget for home maintenance?

If you own a car, you know there’s more to the cost-of-ownership than just finance payments and gas. You also need to budget for maintenance and repairs. If your car is older, those costs are going to be higher. That’s just common sense.

The same is true of your home. It’s wise to budget for anticipated repairs and maintenance. Otherwise, you might be caught by surprise when you find that your furnace stops working and needs to be replaced. That can easily be a four-figure expense.

Experts recommend that you set aside 1% of the value of your home for repairs and maintenance. For a $500,000 property, for example, that would be $5,000. That is, of course, merely a rule of thumb. If your home is older, you may need to budget more.
Another recommended method is to budget $1 a square foot. If you have a 2,500 square foot home, that would be a budget of $2,500. Again, that number would need to be higher for older properties.

When budgeting, consider things that are getting old and will likely need to be replaced within the next three years. Examples include roof shingles furnace, A/C unit, deck, fence, plumbing, and windows. Depending on the size and model, a new A/C unit will cost at least $5,000. Anticipating that expense will help you plan accordingly and avoid the shock of an unpleasant and costly surprise.

Keep in mind that budgeting $2,000 for repairs and maintenance doesn’t mean you’ll actually spend that money this year. But, if needed, the budget will be there, and that’s peace-of-mind.


Discovering that a home you like has "issues"

Say you’re viewing a home and are impressed with how it looks. The walls are freshly painted. Everything seems bright and new. You’re considering making an offer.

Then, while standing on a mat in the kitchen, you hear a squeak below your feet. You lift the mat and see that some tiles are broken. Obviously the mat was there to, literally, cover up that defect.

A few broken tiles are not a big deal. But now you’re thinking, “What else might be wrong with this house?”

There’s no reason to worry that every home will have maintenance issues hidden from view. However, it’s smart to do your due diligence to ensure the home you’re considering is truly as good as it looks.

One way is to have a professional home inspector check out the property as a condition of your purchase offer. He or she will inspect the home from top to bottom, inside and out, and point out any issues you should address.

It’s also smart to ask questions. Find out the age of certain features, such as the roof, furnace, and appliances. Ask about any recent renovations, and determine whether they were done by a professional or by the homeowner.

Most importantly, work with a good REALTOR® who can provide you with information on the property that you would have difficulty getting on your own. Your REALTOR® has a stake in making sure you buy a home with your eyes wide open — knowing all the potential maintenance issues you’re likely to encounter.

Want to talk to a good REALTOR®? Call today.


The "3 Up" Strategy for Selling Your Home Quickly

There are many reasons why you may need to sell your home quickly: a sudden job relocation; a change in family situation; or perhaps an opportunity to purchase a new home that you just can’t pass up.

Whatever the reason, this strategy will help when you need to sell fast. It’s called the “3 Up” strategy.

• Fix it up.
• Clean it up.
• Spruce it up.

First, you need to fix it up. That simply means getting things repaired around your property, such as a broken floor tile in the kitchen or a sticking patio door that’s difficult to open and close. Maintenance issues like these distract buyers from the appealing qualities of your home. Fortunately, repairs can usually be done quickly.

Second, clean it up. Obviously, when your home is clean and tidy it’s going to look its best. You also want to eliminate as much clutter as possible. You don’t need to make every room look like a magazine cover — but that’s a good attitude to have when prepping your home for a quick sale!

Finally, spruce it up. That means making any quick improvements that are going to make your home even more appealing. It might mean replacing the kitchen counters or giving the main rooms a fresh coat of paint.

Of course, the number one strategy for getting that SOLD sign on your front yard is to select a great REALTOR®.

Looking for a great REALTOR®? Call today.