Finding the Right Realtor Makes Closing the Deal Easier

Finding the Right Realtor Makes Closing the Deal Easier

The services of a real-estate professional can be crucial to the success of your efforts when it comes to closing the deal. Listing agents can make it far easier to find a buyer who is able to meet your asking price when selling a home, and professionals who have better insight into the locations and markets you are interested in buying a home can be a tremendous asset. Finding the right realtor is often the first step towards ensuring a more successful real estate deal and is never a concern that should be left to chance.

Working with a Listing Agent Makes Finding Buyers Easy

Few property owners have the time, effort or experience needed to promote a home that has recently been put on the market. Listing agents are able to provide a range of services and resources that can help you to locate buyers who will be more likely to meet your price, often in far less time than would be possible for property owners who choose to work alone. Letting someone else do the heavy lifting provides an easier and more effective way to sell your existing home or to find a buyer for your investment property that will allow you to net a bigger profit.

Benefits to Using Your Own Buyer’s Agent

Many first time home buyers make the mistake of working through the seller’s real estate agent. Having a buyer’s agent who will represent your best interests has many advantages and can often provide you with a smoother way to broker a deal on the home of your dreams. Working with a professional who can provide you with the benefit of their experience and superior insight can make a world of difference and is an opportunity that no buyer or real estate investor can afford to overlook.

Selecting a Realtor with a Proven Track Record

Finding real estate firms and agents that are able to boast of a superior record in assisting their clients is always a smart move. Ensuring that you have selected a professional with the skills, knowledge and expertise that will better fit your needs should be of paramount importance. Even seemingly promising professionals that have the right attitude and approach may be unable to deliver on their promises if they lack for solid experience. When it comes to selling your property for the best price or finding a better deal on your new home, it pays to make sure you are doing business with only the best.

Professionals with Expertise in Your Chosen Market or Location

Location remains the most important concern when it comes to any real estate deal. Professionals who have a better understanding of the locations you are interested in and the current market conditions and trends are never an asset that should be out of reach. Even the most accomplished agent will be out of their element when dealing with areas that they may have little working experience with or markets where they may lack insight. Choosing an agent whose area of expertise best fits your needs will allow you to sell a property more easily or to find the right price on your dream home.

Superior Services Offer Superior Results

Professional assistance that will make brokering a better deal possible can allow you to save considerable amounts of time and money. Seeking out a realtor that knows the market and has the training and experience needed to better represent your interests should always be the first step of every real estate deal. Listing agents who specialize in promoting properties can drastically reduce the length of time your home spends on the market and increase the odds of finding a buyer that will be able to meet your price. Arranging for a buyer’s agent to assist you in placing a bid can offer you an easier way to find and invest in the home you have always wanted.

How to Prevent Home Flooding: 5 Tips

How to Prevent Home Flooding: 5 Tips

Home floods are expensive, time consuming, and can destroy precious family memories. Thankfully, there are a number of steps homeowners can take to prevent the most common home flood causes: ice dams, burst water heaters, burst pipes, clogged gutters, and poor maintenance. Follow the simple home maintenance tips below to prevent serious water damage in your home.

1 – Prevent Ice Dams

During cold winter months, heat can seep out through your home’s roof causing accumulated snow to partially melt. As the snow melt runs down, it can refreeze again once it hits a colder area of your roof. Over the course of a few weeks or sometimes just days, this ice can build up and cause water to pool up on your roof. The end result is a dangerous and damaging ice dam. The standing water that results from ice dams can cause severe damage as it soaks into the roof.

To prevent ice dams, make sure that your home’s attic is thoroughly insulated; escaping heat is what generally causes ice dams in the first place. Additionally, you should keep an eye out for the most common sign of an ice dam: large icicles hanging from your roof. While icicles look great, they are a sign of a major problem and require immediate attention.

2 – Maintain Your Water Heater

A poorly maintained water heater is a flood waiting to happen. A faulty TRP valve, built up sediment, or unchecked leaks can cause serious damage. Most of the time, yearly water heater maintenance, which can be performed by you, will prevent major problems from arising unexpectedly.

If you’d rather rule out the possibility of a burst water heater altogether, check into replacing it with a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater is just what it sounds like: a water heater without a tank. Instead, water is instantaneously heated on demand. Besides eliminating the risk of a flood, a tankless water heater is also more energy efficient and ensures that you’ll never run out of hot water.

3 – Insulate Exposed Pipes

As the temperature outside drops, water in exposed pipes can freeze. If the flow of water is blocked, pressure can build up until the pipe explodes. A burst pipe can cause a serious amount of damage in just a short period of time as water gushes out.

To prevent this problem, walk around your home and check for pipes that aren’t insulated. This process is especially critical in unheated parts of your home. Special jackets can be wrapped around these pipes to keep the cold air out. For a better solution, check with a plumber about redirecting these pipes to a better location.

4 – Keep Gutters Clean

Cleaning out gutters isn’t exactly on anyone’s list of favorite things to do. For this reason, far too many homeowners allow leaves, animal droppings, sticks, and other debris to build up and block the gutter. When this happens, the rain water and snow melt will have no where to go; instead it will simply sit on your roof. Overtime, the shingles will become damaged, wood can rot, and mold can grow. If left long enough, serious structural problems can occur. If you’d prefer to reduce the number of cleanings necessary, keep trees trimmed and don’t let them hang over your roof.

5 – Don’t Ignore Small Leaks

A minor leak is tempting for many homeowners to ignore; however, out of sight shouldn’t be become out of mind. Frequently, a small leak can be a sign of a much larger problem. All homeowners should look out for the following: a musty smell, discolored walls or ceiling, mold or mildew, water pooling, and peeling paint. If you find any of these in your home, call a plumber right away to check out the problem.

Critical Furnace Maintenance Tips

Critical Furnace Maintenance Tips

Most furnaces are buried behind a closet door or hidden in a garage, making it easy to forget about basic maintenance. However, caring for your heating system saves you money over time. The system runs more efficiently, reducing energy costs, and also lasts longer than a neglected furnace. Several crucial maintenance tips should be followed to extend the machine’s lifespan and keep the entire family comfortable.

Physical Inspection

Turn the system off and grab a flashlight. You want to evaluate as much of the furnace’s exterior as possible. You’re looking for cracks or loose parts across the heat exchanger or outside housing. Run the system while observing it, but don’t place any limbs into the area. Look for obvious signs of vibration or unusual sounds. Observation is one of the easiest ways to find small problems before they become huge repair bills. If you check your furnace once a month, for example, you’ll be able to decipher between normal and unusual sounds or movements.

Clean It Out

When you observe your furnace, you may see a fine dust layer across coils. As the system pulls air into its components, dust is typically filtered out by an air filter. However, dust in the surrounding air eventually settles on furnace components, reducing their efficiency. Vacuum off the coils using a brush attachment, being careful to turn the system off when you work closely with it. As you reveal the clean coils, keep a wary eye out for any small cracks. Any possible leaks could come from a hairline fracture.

Test The Thermostat

Your thermostat controls the furnace’s activation, saving you money when it runs accurately. Test the thermostat by setting it at varying temperatures. Verify that it turns on when it reaches its temperature threshold. Because today’s thermostats are essentially small computers, many people opt for appliance insurance when they buy the unit initially. Some electronic issues are covered by limited warranties, but insurance covers other problems. Look for any frayed wires around the thermostat and any extensions into the furnace itself. Don’t touch any wires. If you find a frayed section, it’s best to contact a professional for help.

Air Filter Consideration

Air filters stop particulates from building up in the furnace, providing efficiency for all components. When you let the filter fill up, however, it fails to sift the air and forms a barrier. The furnace works harder to pull air in, effectively reducing its lifespan and driving up energy costs. Replace the air filter once a month during its busy season. Alternatively, purchase a reusable filter that can be rinsed. You’ll save money on filters and reduce landfill waste simultaneously.

Drain System

Furnaces convert cold air into warm breezes, but this conversion process also produces condensate. Moisture from the air drips into the furnace’s drain system, typically evaporating from a pan or moving along a pipe to the home’s plumbing system. Check and clean out the drain system periodically. Sediment may build up, causing a blockage and subsequent water damage. The drain should always be clear because condensate drips constantly as the system operates.

Professional Inspection

One of the best maintenance tips is simply hiring a professional once a year. They can reach furnace areas safely to evaluate any possible problems. Specialized cleaning tools make the furnace look brand new. They can also tweak its performance to save you even more energy over time. Avoiding professional inspections only makes the system vulnerable to breakdowns at the worst times. You don’t want to have a failing furnace during a cold snap. Choose a yearly inspection to see if your maintenance tricks are paying off.

From vacuuming the furnace to simply changing the filter, your consistent maintenance does pay off in the long run. It’s possible for this appliance to last a decade or more with diligent care and observation.

Washer and Dryer Maintenance: Protecting Your Home From Water and Fire Damage

Washer and Dryer Maintenance: Protecting Your Home From Water and Fire Damage

A burst washing machine hose can spill hundreds of gallons of water in your home in just an hour. Dryers with excessive lint build-up can burst into flame and cause a fire in the home. Property damage from ill-maintained washers and dryers can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. These kinds of emergencies can be easily avoided by taking care of the washer and dryer throughout their lives. These maintenance tips will illustrate how to take care of your home through proper washing machine and dryer maintenance.

Upgrade Old Parts

The hoses of older washing machines are often made of rubber that can burst much easier than newer hoses. Replacing these old hoses with steel-jacketed ones will prevent their splitting open and spewing water into the home. Older dryers also come standard with vinyl ducts that are flimsy and flammable. It’s no wonder they are so prone to fire. Regularly cleaning the lint trap is not enough to prevent dryer fires as lint can also become trapped in the ducts; replace those vinyl ducts with non-flammable metal ones.

Clean Filter Screens

Filters are built into washing machines to catch debris and sediment as it washes off of your clothes. If this screen becomes too backed up with sediment, water cannot flow properly into it. Clean the filter screen with a bristle brush to keep water flowing quickly.

Add a Drip Pan

By placing a drip pan underneath the washing machine, any potential leaks are caught in the pan and fed into a floor drain. This not only prevents your home from water damage, but it also provides a convenient way to check for leaks. After washing a load, check the pan for any excess water that is flowing from the machine. In this way, you can catch leaks while they are still small and call for some home appliance repair.

Turn Off Water If Not In Use

If you are planning on going on a long vacation or do not plan to do laundry for an extended period, turn off the water flow to the washer. This relieves the constant water pressure felt by the washer that can create leaks or cause them to become worse. Going out of town means you won’t be able to detect the leak until it’s too late and water has already flowed out and damaged the home.

Use Gently

Overloading a washer or dryer makes it run inefficiently as it works extra hard to accommodate the load. Break up larger loads into several smaller loads to prolong the life of your washer and dryer. You should also leave the lid of the washer open if it is not in use to let the drum dry out. Odors can sometimes arise from a continually wet and mildewy drum. If the washer is a front-loader and the door cannot be left open, towel dry the drum and rubber gasket after each load is removed.

Treating your washer and dryer gently can go a long way to elongating their lifetimes. Regularly check for leaks and for hose brittleness. Old hoses need to be replaced and not ignored to prevent a burst or split hose. It is much better to spend the money now to take care of the washer and dryer than to spend thousands of dollars later to repair damage to your home. Water and fire damage are expensive problems to have; steps should be taken when possible to limit the possibility of their occurrence. Keep your family and your home safe and sound by keeping regular washer and dryer maintenance a priority.

Tips for Fireplace Use and Maintenance for Safety

Tips for Fireplace Use and Maintenance for Safety

Fireplaces are a beautiful addition to any home. Whether it’s a modern fireplace with state-of-the-art technology or a traditional brick fireplace, the upkeep and maintenance should be the same. It’s important to keep up with cleaning and maintenance for aesthetic as well as safety reasons. It’s also vital to have a home warranty that can cover appliances damaged in a fire.

Routine, Scheduled Maintenance

Once a week, or after every fire, clean the fireplace of any residue from previous fires. Ash and soot builds in the bottom of the fireplace, along the inner walls and on the grates. It becomes messy and dangerous if left to build up over time.

Wait 12 hours before attempting to vacuum or dust the fireplace. There can’t be any chance of the embers being hot, or it could start an unintentional fire. Homeowners with a fireplace might want to consider a firebox for old ashes. After waiting until the fire cools completely, the fireplace should be swept and vacuumed.

At least once a week, the fireplace should be given a deep cleaning. The inner walls should be scrubbed with a stiff brush. If the fireplace is made of brick, be careful since the masonry could crumble and allow fire access to the home’s walls. Any grates, fireplace implements and grills should be cleaned too.

Yearly Maintenance

Once a year, the homeowner should hire an inspector to make sure the chimney is in good physical condition and to clean out the chimney. Over time, creosote from burning wood builds in the chimney walls. This substance is extremely flammable and could ignite the inner walls of the chimney.

The chimney has a cap on either end to keep small animals like birds and squirrels from entering, and to keep debris like leaves and dirt from falling into the chimney. The caps need to be inspected, cleaned and repaired if there’s a problem.

Troubleshooting

Any smoke that leaks into the home indicates a problem. A chimney packed with creosote or soot build up can cause smoke to enter the home. There might be debris blocking the chimney or the damper might not be open. There could be any number of reasons why smoke isn’t traveling out of the chimney, but it’s important that the fire is extinguished immediately so an investigation of the cause can begin.

Fireplace Tips for Safety

  • Only burn hardwoods if possible. They have less sap, will burn longer and don’t leave as much creosote.
  • Don’t start a fire in the home using liquids like gas or kerosene.
  • Stick to woods in the fire. Other materials could cause a fire to burn too hot or release chemicals into the air.

Added Protection

Glass doors are great protection from embers escaping into the room. They will increase the fireplace’s heat efficiency if the fireplace is used as a heating source too. Glass doors are heat proof when they are specially made for fireplaces. They are easy to clean and should be washed down after every fire especially if soot builds up frequently.

If there are small children in the home, adding an extra layer of protection to the fireplace is vital for their safety. There are gates and guards that will protect the children from harm. Large gates will keep the child at a safe distance, and guards will cover the raised brick to keep the sharp edges from hurting a child if he or she falls.

Fireplace maintenance is vital to fire safety in the home. The biggest problem with fireplaces is the buildup of harmful and flammable substances that are not cleaned out of the chimney. Blockages should be dealt with quickly too. The maintenance of the fireplace should be a weekly occurrence.

Transform your Electricity and Gas Bills in Six Easy Steps

Transform your Electricity and Gas Bills in Six Easy Steps

Steps to saving money on your electric and gas bills have never been easier. Making simple adjustments in your daily routine and making minor repairs around the house could save you hundreds of dollars a year. It may take some time to remember to make these changes before they become a habit, however the outcome will be worth it.

Cooking Habits

Only heat as much water as you require. The more water you try to heat the longer it will take and the more electricity you will waste. If you do this several times a day, it adds up. Consider this practice when preparing tea and cooking pasta or vegetables. Only use the amount required and using an electric kettle to heat water to cook with often takes less time than the oven. Essentially, you should reduce the amount of water you use in everything and make changes to reduce cook times.

Fridge and Freezer

Keep your fridge and freezer as far away as possible from direct sunlight and heating devices. This will reduce the number of times the fridge or freezer must start to maintain the desired temperature. And, keep the temperatures of both at the recommended rates rather than too cold or too warm. Do not forget to defrost the appliance on a regular basis. And, know what you are going to retrieve before you open the doors and organize your items and have a storage plan to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Use Technology

Sometimes the easiest way to modify behavior is to be aware of your actions. Typically, you have to wait until the electric or gas bill arrives to determine your exact consumption charges at any given time. Today, technology takes the guess work out of the equation. Purchase an inexpensive device that measures your existing consumption rate. You should also use automatic thermostats to reduce the heat or air distributed during the times you are asleep or at work.

The Water Heater

Water heaters are one of the prime places energy is lost or wasted. An overused water heater might need to be replaced, and that is where a home warranty would come in. But if your water heater is still in good shape, your energy conservation efforts start by keeping your water heater at a lower temperature. This will reduce the number of times the water heater turns on. You should also have the water heater inspected annually by a professional. Spending a few dollars each year could save you thousands of dollars in the end. If you have a small electric one, turn it off and unplug it during the times it is not in use. Turn it on 20 minutes before you wish to shower or bathe and it will be ready.

Air Ducts

According to most professionals, the air ducts are where the greatest loss in energy efficiency takes place. During the construction of homes, this area is often one that is overlooked during quality control. Simple home repairs can easily rectify this problem. Turn on the air or heat and follow the ducts throughout your home. Wherever you feel a leak, duct tape it. Also, you should ensure that all vents are free from furniture, drapes and other objects that may prevent the proper heating and cooling of your home.

Window and Door Frames

Another place where energy is lost is at the frames of windows and doors. These are often installed poorly or the protection wears away after time. A simple home repair is to use weatherproof sealant on all frames. You should also check as to whether or not insulation was used during the installation process. If you have significant drafts, you should consider installing insulation.

If you make these quick changes, you will save money. Once you have extra money, you can spend it on something you can use such as an energy-saving water heater or something you do not need like a trip to some place new.