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Before You Fall Head over Heels for a 100+ Year Old Home

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

There can be something quite romantic about buying an older home. Prospective homebuyers are often smitten when they first encounter the unique character and charm of a 100+ year-old home. Decades of history and stories are reflected in its small imperfections and quirks. The unexpected nooks and crannies, ornate woodwork and beautiful built-ins can be hard to resist. Or perhaps it’s simply the lure of an affordable fixer-upper situated in a desirable location.

Love at first sight is a good thing when you’re shopping for a new home. But when that home is 100+ years old, you need to make sure you’re not sweeping potentially costly issues under the rug as you get swept off your feet.

If you want to buy an older home, there are a few important issues you should be aware of before you close the deal. Here are some ways to help avoid future heartache (and pocketbook pain):

1. The Dreaded Lead. Approximately 87% of homes built before 1940 contain lead-based paint, according to the U.S. EPA. The toxic substance, known to cause a variety of health problems, especially in young children, was frequently used in household paint prior to 1978, when its use was banned by the federal government. Even if the home you’re considering has newer paint, it’s highly possible lead could still be hidden beneath the fresh paint layers. 

The good news is that if the paint is in good repair, the lead usually doesn’t pose a risk. The hazard comes when lead-based paint starts breaking down, peeling or chipping. If that’s the case, or you have particular concerns about lead exposure, the best course of action is to hire a certified inspector to test for lead. According to the EPA, the average lead removal project costs about $10,000, so if the home tests positive, you need to consider that in your overall budget.

2. Energy (In)efficiency. Charm may not be the only thing oozing from those lovely double-hung 19th century windows, old steam radiators or original faucets. While charming windows, mechanicals and fixtures might match the style of an older home, they also tend to be inefficient in their energy use. That means you could be facing some surprisingly steep energy bills after you move into the home. 

If possible, ask about the previous owners’ average monthly gas or electricity costs to get a sense of what to expect. You’ll also likely want to plan and budget for energy-efficient replacements (or refinishing, in the case of windows). Consider smart home products like smart thermostats that can help save you time and money.

Find out the age of major mechanicals, price out the cost of new units, and make a schedule for replacing them based on when they’ll reach the end of their useful life. Also, make sure you leave some wiggle room for unexpected discoveries, like replacing a leaky toilet or faucet. 

04.11 buy old house - home inspection

3. Structural struggles. Even the most well-built homes fall prey to the ails of time, meaning foundations sink, structures shift and moisture can find its way into pilings and foundation supports. You should keep a close eye out for signs of trouble, in the form of wall cracks, sloping floors, stuck windows and doors that refuse to close. If you see any signs of trouble, have your inspector take a look to provide a second opinion (ask them to pay particular attention as well). If you identify issues, you’ll want to bring in an expert, such as a structural engineer, to better assess the problem and provide an estimate for fixing the damage. A few hundred dollars may remedy small exterior cracks, while extensive repairs to the foundation could run tens of thousands of dollars.

4. Careless renovations. Sometimes an older home has remained relatively untouched over years, or has been tastefully and professionally updated. In other instances, previous owners may have attempted renovations that didn’t go so well. If there are clearly apparent additions (like a basement bedroom) or major renovations, it’s a good idea to confirm the work was permitted by the city. If it wasn’t, you may want to dig a little deeper to ensure the work was completed with a high level of quality and meets legal requirements for the space, especially when it relates to electrical systems and structural changes or additions. Also beware of partially-completed renovations. It could mean the work was a DIY project and not performed by a professional, or that the person doing the work discovered a larger issue and abandoned the problem rather than fixing it.

 Buying an older home can be a very rewarding experience, but it’s especially important to be aware of potential issues to avoid unexpected problems in the future. Talk to your agent about finding the right home for you. 

Word of Advice Wednesday- What Exactly to Expect with a Home Inspection

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What exactly can you expect with a home inspection? Jim Hibbs will fill you in! #WordOfAdviceWednesday

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

Friday, May 19, 2017


On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps, that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Babies love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use nap time and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. 

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

Word of Advice Wednesday- 5 Reasons to Buy

Thursday, May 18, 2017

For this week's #WordOfAdviceWednesday, Kate Anderson explains '5 Reasons to Buy'!

Expert Advice on Hosting an Open House with Dogs

Thursday, May 18, 2017

At Coldwell Banker, it’s clear that we believe a pet is Home’s Best Friend…

And while we truly believe a pet does make a house a home, we wanted to get the inside scoop on proper Open House etiquette for homes with pets. Here is what our Coldwell Banker experts had to say…

“Want to Go Bye Bye?”

Yes, the #1 tip from nearly every one of our agents was “take your pet out of the home during open houses.”  Christina Koch of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate put it best with “No Family Member Left Behind.” And while some may consider finding a “safe room” for their pet, Deborah Wynkoop offers this advice…

Please take your pet with you during an open house; strangers can be very upsetting to your pets even if they are secured in a garage, etc., people want to see the entire property and no matter how careful everyone is, there is always a chance a pet can escape.

Safety and creating a stress free environment for all parties on open house day plays a major factor. Heather Ostrom echoes Deborah’s Advice…

Nobody wants a prison break of furry critters, nor limiting access to parts the home, it’s best to make a pet family day out of the home. Whether it’s a hike, walk, visit to the (dog) park or friend’s house. This also  helps with keeping all windows “nose-smudge-free.” 

Audrey Hurley rounded out the idea of removing a pet during open houses with this remark:

While crating is a wonderful training tool and can be a humane way to keep a dog contained for a short time, it always causes me sadness to see a crated dog while I am touring. Consider your open house a time for everyone to take time-out to play! Find a new hike, go to a dog park or window shopping!

The Nose Knows

We laugh at the Febreze® commercials that over dramatize common household odors from cooking and pets, but during an open house those smells can be a real turnoff for prospective buyers. Patricia Spinner says:

Keep a bottle of Febreze® handy. Even though we don’t notice our own pets’ smells buyers can be very sensitive.

And while you’re at it, pay special attention to putting away dog beds, toys, etc. Not only are these items distracting but they could also cause your open houses guest to have allergy attacks.

And last but not least, some good news for our friends with gills 🙂

Dava Behrens finished off our survey with…

Fish can stay.

 

7 Things Worth Saving Space for in a Small House

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Advice for decorating a small home is often about eliminating and deciding what to compromise on. But there are some things every home should have. Here are seven essentials that are always worth making room for.

1. A landing pad. You may not have a grand foyer, but you deserve somewhere to decompress for a moment when you arrive home.

Take a little bit of space by the front door to include somewhere to drop your coat and keys, as well as a seat for quick moments such as when tying a shoe. A mirror and a glass table will open up the look of the space, and a bouquet of flowers will provide a welcoming touch.

2. Color and pattern. Sure, using lots of white and neutrals will make a small space look as big and breezy as possible. That doesn’t mean that all color and pattern should be strictly forbidden. Embracing some drama will make the look personal and inviting.

To get the best of both worlds, fit color into high and low places and keep the walls neutral so the main sight lines are still clear.

Try using a fun paint color on your ceiling, or go for a low-slung sofa or other piece of furniture, so it pops without overtaking the natural field of vision.

Ceiling paint (similar): Your Majesty, Benjamin Moore

3. A real dining surface. In a small home, you rarely find a dedicated dining room. That doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate somewhere for a proper sit-down meal that isn’t at your desk or in your lap. Try pushing a small dining table up against a wall or window to seat just two diners.

If you don’t have room even for a small fixed table, try using a fold-down table with stackable seats that can be pulled out when needed, or a convertible coffee table that can be raised to dining height so you can eat at the sofa in proper comfort.

4. A truly comfortable place to sit. While it’s often tempting to try to stuff many compact pieces of furniture into a small home, you shouldn’t skimp on a full-sized place to sit.

Including a truly comfortable sofa or lounge chair, rather than many tight modern seats, will make the whole home much more satisfying. To fit in occasional extra guests, have compact side chairs on hand that are only meant for sitting in for a few hours while someone visits, or you can even use a plush ottoman.

5. Great lighting. In a small space, the lighting is often inadequate, as it tends to be assumed that a single fixture can properly light each area. In reality, good lighting can never come from just one source, so it’s always important to include a diverse palette of fixtures.

To save room while adding a lot of light, choose a plug-in sconce with multiple bulbs, like the one here. It will brighten the walls in a rich way without taking up any square footage from your floor plan or table surfaces.

6. A living plant. Speaking of your floor plan, now that you’ve saved a little space with a great sconce, why not use that square footage for a healthy living plant?

Including an element of living greenery will make the space feel more human and welcoming, bringing a sense of the outdoors in.

See the perfect houseplant for people who kill houseplants

7. Space to breathe. Lastly, when decorating your small home, don’t forget to leave room for one very important thing: empty space.

Filling every square inch of your walls and flooring with decorative baubles and unneeded furniture leaves the space feeling cluttered and cramped. Let some walls remain empty, and keep lots of circulation space open so you can move about freely and really enjoy the great pieces you have.

Meet the Builder Monday- Accent Construction

Monday, May 15, 2017

All homes by Accent Construction are intended to look, feel and live like custom homes with better functionality in their design, better products used in construction and finish and fresh looks to stand apart from the rest.

To get the details on all things Accent Construction, visithttp://bit.ly/2oU0InX!

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Friday, May 12, 2017

Is your home a smart home? If you’re like most U.S. homeowners, the answer is probably yes, or it will be soon. What were once seen only as gimmicks reserved for the tech-savvy homeowners have quickly become the norm. We conducted a survey and found that almost half (45%) of Americans own some sort of smart home technology. More surprisingly, 36% of that group don’t consider themselves to be early adopters of technology.

Whether you’re shopping for your first home, looking to sell your home, or planning home renovations to add value to your house, smart home technology should be at the top of your must-haves list. 54% of homeowners said they would install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. In fact, about 33% of agents said homes with smart features sell faster.

What Makes a Smart Home Smart?

So, which smart features and home renovations should homeowners and home buyers be most interested in next year? Our survey found the top “smart” features were:

  • Voice Control
  • Security
  • Temperature
  • Lighting
  • Safety

Most Americans (60%) agree that a home needs to have at least three of these features to be considered “smart.”

Voice Control

One of the fastest growing smart home features in the last year is voice control. The list of products that operate with voice control features is growing by the day, from music players to TVs to even security products, lighting, and shopping. 

smart home technology trends - watch

Security

Most Americans think a home can be considered “smart” when it has smart security locks and alarm systems. Security features lead the way for smart features in terms of adoption and appeal. Even though 58% of home buyers say smart security is the most appealing type of pre-installed smart home technology, only 31% have smart security installed.

Temperature control

Smart temperature control is more widely adopted with homeowners over the age of 65 – about 40% have smart temperature products, while only 25% of 18-34 year olds have the technology installed. The favorite features of smart temperature controls are:

  • Improving the comfort of the household (71%)
  • Reducing energy consumption (68%)
  • Monitoring or controlling their device while away from home (41%)

Safety

The safety of the household should be a top priority for any homeowner. Smart technology offers new features for fire and carbon monoxide detectors, nightlights, and other renovations to make your house safer. Homeowners look for safety features that allow them to monitor and control the safety of their home either when they are away (52%), or from anywhere inside the home (30%).

The leader in smart thermostats, Nest, has also released a smart Smoke and CO Alarm, Nest Protect. One feature of this device that is quickly becoming the norm for smart technology is interconnectivity. If your Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it will tell your Nest Thermostat to turn off the furnace automatically.

Lighting

For homeowners looking to improve comfort with the ability to make easy changes in the mood of their home – while reducing energy consumption – smart lighting is just the thing. Many new smart technologies emerged this year for a smarter lighting experience:

  • C by GE uses Bluetooth connectivity so you can personalize your light temperature settings throughout the day. This allows your lighting to sync with your body’s circadian rhythm and improve your sleep cycle.
  • FlipFlic is a device installed on window blinds that automatically adjusts the blinds based on light, temperature and time of day. Natural lighting can play a major part in your home’s mood and vibe and this device gives you more control over it.

Our study also found that 70% of homeowners say they plan to invest more money in smart home renovations and features in the future. This new home trend is rapidly increasing and offering homeowners new ways to improve their own standard of living while raising the value of their homes.

Which smart renovations and features do you plan on adding to your home in 2017?

10 Things You Need To Know Before Moving With Pets

Friday, May 12, 2017

Moving? Let’s be honest, moving is stressful. But, imagine if you can’t read, understand all of the chatter around you and all you see is the chaos of boxes, your home in an upheaval and stressed out humans everywhere. Sounds even more stressful, right? That’s why it is vital to look after your furry friends during the moving process.

Moving doesn’t have to be a dog-gone cat-astrophy. The good news is that with a paw-ful of wise tips you can ease their trauma. Here are ten tricks that have been approved by veterinarian Dr. Sara Sheltren, to keep Fluffy and Fido cared for during the moving process:

  1. Before Moving Day: Become familiar with pet rules and regulations. Landlords and homeowners’ associations may have specific pet rules. Become familiar with your new area’s leash laws, pet ordinances and/or pet licensing requirements. Your pet may need additional vaccinations, medications or certain certificates depending on where you are moving. A call to the local animal control facility should answer your questions.
  2. Talk To Your Current Vet: Your veterinarian is a great resource. If you have an animal that dislikes traveling, your vet can suggest behavior modification techniques or medication that can make traveling less stressful for your pet. When talking to your vet, also discuss getting Fluffy or Fido micro-chipped. Dr. Sara Sheltren says getting pets’ identification microchips can be a vital step in reuniting pets with their owners.
  3. Find A New Vet: Find a new vet in your new area before moving day. Your current vet may be able to make recommendations for colleagues he or she knows in your new area. When finding a new vet, it is recommended to set up an appointment as soon as you move in order to get established. It's always important to make sure you are comfortable with their practice before they are needed in an emergency.
  4. Get Medical Records: Before you leave your old home, make sure you get a copy of all of your pet’s medical records to give to your new vet and be sure to find the closest emergency animal hospital and keep that phone number handy.
  5. Update Your Address: Don’t forget to have new identification tags with your new address and phone number made for your pet’s collar, and if your pet has an identification microchip, remember to update your contact information in the database. Dr. Sheltren also recommends carrying a picture of your pet with you in case they get lost.
  6. Keep Things Normal: Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time so that your pet thinks everything is normal. This will keep their stress level down. If you are moving with cats, it can help to bring out their carriers out a few a weeks before the move. Put their favorite treats and toys inside their carriers so they can get used to it before the big moving day. Don’t pack the food away! Keep your pet’s food, water, bowls, medication and any other important supplies (like that favorite squeaky toy) off the moving truck and with you.
  7. Moving Day: During the actual moving day, where boxes and furniture are being moved, pets should be removed. Find a friend who wouldn’t mind pet sitting or find a place away from all the noise of moving such as a doggy day care or cat care center. If you can visit them during a spare moment, it can help reassure the pets that nothing is going on. Keeping pets locked away in a room during moving day can make them anxious from all the noise and new people that might be in your home. If you must keep them locked away, find a quiet room, water bowl and put a HUGE sign on the door.
  8. Travel with Your Pet: Unless your move is long distance or international, your pet will likely be traveling by car with you nearby. By driving them yourself you can care for them and give them a sense of familiarity as they move. To prepare your pet for this trip, drive for short distances with your pet to prepare them before the final move. Also, remember to plan ahead for any special carriers your pets may need for transportation. There are even special seat belts for large dogs.
  9. Air Travel: If you are moving your pet by air or internationally, check all rules and regulations far ahead of the day you plan to leave and remember to keep your pet’s special documentation at hand.
  10. After Moving Day: Don’t let pets roam around the neighborhood until they are acclimated. Take them out on a leash to explore their new territory and show them how to get home. If you let them out in a new place right away, they might get lost or run away due to stress. Make sure your pet’s new identification tags are secured to their collar.

Now snuggle up with your furry friend and enjoy the new home!

Word of Advice Wednesday- Why Local Matters

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

There are many reasons why local matters. AJ Anderson explains in this Word of Advice Wednesday!


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