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Simple Fixes To Help Your Home Sell More Quickly Simple Fixes To Help Your Home Sell More QuicklyComments Off on Simple Fixes To Help Your Home Sell More Quickly

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to sell your Lombard home, there are a few simple steps you can take to help prepare it for showings.

With a prospective buyer in mind, take a tour of your home, making a list of the good, the bad, and the not-so-bad. You may spot areas in need of major renovation; and areas which could benefit from just a basic touch-up.

It’s these latter areas which will likely yield the biggest return on your investment so, in preparation for making your home “buyer ready”, consider these steps.

Landscaping
The first thing a buyer will notice is the outside of your home. Sometimes called “curb appeal”, first impressions are very important to the sale of your home. Therefore, be sure to trim bushes, rake leaves, and clean up the yard in order to make your house seem more inviting. Clear unnecessary clutter from the yard and walkway to your home.

Bedrooms
Paint the walls of the room a light, neutral color to “open up” the space. Replace old light fixtures with new modern ones; replace all old bulbs; and consider adding a ceiling fan to each bedroom. This can increase the room’s appeal.

Bathrooms 
If your tub has seen better days, have it resurfaced. Remove mildew stains in, or around, baths and showers. Replace stained silicone seal and grout, where needed. Check all light fixtures for burned out bulbs. Add lighting, if necessary, to make the bathroom brighter.

Kitchen
Your kitchen might also benefit from sprucing up. Do not gut-renovate your kitchen. Rather, refinish or paint its cabinets. Install new, clean-looking handles. Add a new back splash, if you think it will help.

You’ll spend a small sum to make these improvements but the rewards can be more home showings, which can lead to more home offers, which can help you get the price you want for your property.

Your home may also sell more quickly.

Selling? Improve The Appearance Of Your Home’s Bathrooms. Selling? Improve The Appearance Of Your Home’s Bathrooms.Comments Off on Selling? Improve The Appearance Of Your Home’s Bathrooms.

Full-scale bathroom remodeling can be expensive and, in today’s Chicago housing market, you won’t likely get all of the money back that you put into it at the time of sale.

Knowing that bathroom projects tend to have a low return on investment, therefore, here are a few inexpensive changes which you can make to spruce up bathrooms in a home for sale.

Fixtures
Most sellers will notice if the fixtures in a bathroom are old, and it can have a negative effect on their view of your home. Buy a new set of bathroom fixtures at a home improvement store. Most stores have matching towel racks and bathroom tissue holders, too. There is a wide selection of stainless steel, wood or ceramic fixtures available at most stores, too.

Paint
A fresh coat of paint is a simple way to improve the overall look of a bathroom. Choose paints with a light, neutral color to make the room seem more spacious.

Floors
If your bathroom floor has tiles, it’s a good idea to add fresh grout to brighten up the bathroom’s overall look, or, at least, to clean the grout so that it looks like new. Scratched linoleum should also be replaced. There is plenty of inexpensive flooring which is easy to install, in a variety of patterns and colors at your local hardware or flooring store.

De-Clutter
Prospective buyers should be able to imagine themselves living in your home. It’s easier for them to do that when your home is free of clutter. This is even true in the bathroom. Clear out your medicine cabinet. (Yes, many buyers will look in there.) Leave only the essentials such as toothpaste and hairbrushes.

Making a good impression on your prospective buyers can be easier when you’ve redone a bathroom.  It doesn’t require much money, and it may increase the final sale price of home.

Help Your Pets Adjust To Your New Home Help Your Pets Adjust To Your New HomeComments Off on Help Your Pets Adjust To Your New Home

Moving to a new home can be a difficult transition for everyone in the family, including the furry, four-legged members.

Dogs and cats develop a strong bond with their environment so when they are relocated from their territory it can cause them stress.

Here are some tips to ease your pets’ transition to a new home :

Keep Your Mood Calm
Pets are very tuned-in to your emotions and will sense your mood. If you are stressed throughout the moving process, your cat or dog will pick up on this and it will make him anxious. Try to remain calm and give your pet plenty of attention and reassurance during the process of moving.

Transporting Your Pet
A few weeks before the move, introduce your pet to his pet carrier so that he becomes familiar with it. It will be much less scary for him to be transported in a carrier, which already has recognizable smells and perhaps a favorite chew toy or blanket inside. When you are moving your pets to your new home, it is a good idea not to feed them for about three hours before setting off, as this can help to prevent accidents while in transit.

Upon Arrival
When you get to your new residence, place your pets in one room of the house and provide them with water, food, and a few familiar possessions. Keep them in a closed room while you move things in, as the process of moving boxes and furniture can be chaotic and doors can be left open. Once everything has been moved in, you can take the time to give your pet some one-on-one attention.

Dogs find routines comforting, so try to stick to the same schedule of feeding and walking in your new home. Cats will want to explore and rub their scent all over the house to claim it as their territory. A cat might attempt to return to its old home after a move, so keep it indoors for a few weeks at first.

These are just a few ways that you can make moving to a new home a better experience for your beloved pets. If you’d like more suggestions for helping your pets and family adjust to a move, call or email me with your questions.

Choosing “Green Homes” Choosing “Green Homes”Comments Off on Choosing “Green Homes”

“Green” homes can be great for the environment and can save you money over time.

For environmentally-conscious homeowners wanting to minimize their footprint and their energy bills, there are four areas upon which to focus.

In-Home Energy-Efficiency
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as of December 2012, buildings account for 68 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption. Green homes can reduce this figure via energy-efficient appliances; well-sealed, double-glazed windows; and good insulation. Alternative energy sources such as solar panels can also reduce energy use.

Green Building Materials
Building materials are determined to be “green” based on manufacturing, shipping, and reclamation procedures, and are composed of renewable resources. Reclaimed materials such as wood from an old barn; or recovered newspapers for use in insulation are often considered to be green. Counter-tops made from recycled materials are often considered green, too. Ceramic tiles, because of how much energy is required to form them, are often not considered green unless reclaimed from a demolition project.

Home Location And Orientation
A home for which the main living areas are facing south will be warmed by the sun in winter, and will not be overheated by the sun in summer. This is considered “green”, as is proper window placement which allows for cross-breezes which can lower energy costs on warmer days. Living in proximity to work and other frequented spots can reduce automotive energy consumption, too.

Indoor Air Quality
Good air quality means promoting a safe, toxin-free environment. Using non-toxic paints in your home plus other green materials can improve air quality. Most notably because, over time, synthetic paints and materials break down, releasing harmful particles into the air.

When buying a green home , be sure to ask questions of the seller including how the home was built, which materials were used in construction, and whether the home’s appliances are Energy Star-rated.

How To Make An Emergency Preparedness Kit For Your Home How To Make An Emergency Preparedness Kit For Your HomeComments Off on How To Make An Emergency Preparedness Kit For Your Home

Some natural disasters can be forecast — hurricanes, snow storms and, in some cases, flooding. Other disasters occur unexpectedly, such as tornadoes and earthquakes. 

As a homeowner or renter , it’s a safe idea to prepare for disaster or unexpected emergency. Every home should maintain a ready, working emergency kit for such a time.

Here are some items to include in your home’s emergency kit :

  • Waterproof Container : Store items in a locking, plastic container
  • Battery-Powered Radio : A small radio can receive weather updates and emergency broadcasts. Pack extra batteries, or use a hand-crank radio, instead.
  • Light Source : Pack multiple flashlights and many spare batteries. LED flashlights are more expensive than “older” flashlights, but won’t lose battery power as quickly. Pack candles and matches, as well.
  • Water : Pack bottled water, storing larger bottles in a cool, separate place. Add several bottles of sport drink for variety, if desired.
  • Food : Pack non-perishable food such as canned fruits and vegetables; protein sources such as peanut butter or canned tuna; crackers and cookies; nuts and dried fruits. Remember to pack a can-opener, if needed. Include plastic utensils, if necessary.
  • Blankets : At least two blankets should be packed. Consider packing multiple sets of clothes, for different temperatures and seasons.
  • First-Aid Kit : A proper first-aid kit should include antiseptic, bandages, aspirin, an ace bandage, and allergy medicine for allergic reactions.
  • Emergency Contact List : Include a list of your local utility companies; phone numbers at which to contact friends and loved ones; and, your primary care physician’s number.

After packing your emergency kit, make sure to store it in an easy-to-reach location away from power lines, power sources, and any place that may be “extra dangerous” during a crisis. For example, storing an emergency kit in a garage or a shed may be safer than storing it in a basement or in a bedroom closet.

In an emergency, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Be prepared and be safe.

Fixing Up An Historic Home : The Three Rs Fixing Up An Historic Home : The Three RsComments Off on Fixing Up An Historic Home : The Three Rs

If you enjoy both history and fixing things, then you may have trouble driving by historic homes for sale without feeling the urge to buy and fix one up.

Before you do, however, you should know the three R’s of fixing historic homes — Restoration, Renovation, and Repair.

Restoration
“Restoration” is the process of returning a home to its original state. Restoring historic homes often requires city and state permission. It’s essential that you check to see whether your home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP); or, whether it’s located in a historic district. If either is true, there may be a specific set of rules to follow while renovating.

Restoration can be an expensive endeavor. For a home to keep its historic value, the materials used must match the home’s original materials, including furnishings. This can be costly because of antique value.

Renovation
Renovating is less complicated and less restrictive as compared to restoring. However, via a renovation, a home often becomes a more “modern” living space, which can lower the home’s historic value. Be sure that your home is not listed in the NRHP or located in an historic district before beginning renovations.

Depending on size of the project(s), renovations can be expensive, too. However, it’s easier to find great deals on modern appliances as compared to the antique appliances required for a restoration.

Repair
Repairs are often less intensive than a restoration or renovation. For repair, be sure to use materials which fit the home’s character, which may include plaster walls and wooden floors, for example. Matching original materials is not important in the home repair process..

The cost of a repair project will depend on the size and volume of required repairs.

The differences between a restoration, renovation and repair of an historic home may be minor, but those small differences will change your costs, your timeline and your procedural red tape. Speak with an qualified architect if you’re unsure of your obligations as the owner of a historic home.

How To Install A Water Heater Jacket How To Install A Water Heater JacketComments Off on How To Install A Water Heater Jacket

A simple way to save money is to improve your home’s energy efficiency rating.  For example, homeowners can save up to 9 percent per year on water heating costs simply by installing a water heater jacket.

Water heater jackets are easy to install. Here’s how you do it :

First, before you go shopping, check whether your water heater is a gas model, or an electric one. Then, write down your water heater model number. Most water heater jackets list compatible water heater models on their respective packaging. Look for jackets with a value of “R-8”.

Then, as you start your project, be sure to turn the water heater off.

Water heater jackets are pre-cut to make installation simple. Remove the outer packaging and separate the jacket’s pre-cut pieces. There will likely be a top, a body and belts. You’ll want to have plenty of duct tape on hand, too.

Next, shape the top of the water heater jacket to fit your appliance.  Trim around the pipes which enter the water heater, then tape the areas closed. This will form a strong seal.

Tape the top edges down to the side(s) of the water heater.

Then, take the body of the water heater jacket and wrap it around your water heater’s mid-section. Have the belts ready and secure them, taking care that the belts don’t push the insulation down more than one-quarter of its thickness.

Lastly, outline the access plate with a pencil on the insulation exterior, and use scissors or a knife to cut the insulation out. Tape the edges to avoid fraying and set the water heater to a temperate no higher than 130 degrees.

Note that outfitting a gas water heaters with jackets can be more complicated than with electric water heaters because of construction. If your water heater is a gas model, consider hiring a professional to handle your installation.

Energy-Saving Tips For The Holiday Season Energy-Saving Tips For The Holiday SeasonComments Off on Energy-Saving Tips For The Holiday Season

With the holiday season comes more than colder weather — there are the parties, the baking, the fixing of family dinners, and, in some cases, the stringing of holiday lights. It’s also a time of year when home energy use can spike, leading to a very large January electricity bill.

This year, do what you can to conserve energy through the holidays and the New Year. Try following these simple tips.

Go LED
If you string lights outside of your home, try LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting. LED lights use 86% less electricity than comparable incandescent lights and have numerous safety advantages. For example, LED lights are shatterproof, present no fire hazard, and, because they emit almost no heat, are safe to the touch. 

Reduce Your Home Thermostat
When you home is filled with people, or the ovens are working overtime, or both, the temperature can rise by several degrees. Rather than opening a window or leaving a door ajar, consider lowering your home’s thermostat, or turning off the heat altogether. Each degree “colder” that you set you set your thermostat decreases your home’s energy usage up to 3 percent.

Plan Your Meal
Holiday meals are often prepared in advance of dinner and then reheated or warmed to be ready for company. This leads to running the oven, microwave or stove-top multiple times for each served dish. When possible, prepare foods at the same time and warm in the oven at the same time. In running your appliances less, you will save on energy costs.

Use Your Dishwasher At Capacity
Some dishes require hand-washing. For everything else, use a dishwasher. Dishwashers use less water than is required to wash and rinse plates, utensils and pots and pans by hand. They can also use up to 50% less energy than is required to heat the water you’ll need to wash your dishes manually.

The holiday season can be full of excesses. Don’t let your energy bill be one of them.

Simple, Inexpensive Ways To Prep Your Home For Sale Simple, Inexpensive Ways To Prep Your Home For SaleComments Off on Simple, Inexpensive Ways To Prep Your Home For Sale

When Washington, DC homeowners get ready to list, advice will often come from all corners of their personal and social network — what within the home to upgrade; what to repair; what to replace.

And, although some advice remains valuable, much of it can be ignored.

The costs of an expensive upgrade are rarely recouped at the time of sale and studies show that smaller, simpler actions can yield a bigger return on your investment of time and money.

Here are four inexpensive, yet highly effective, ways to prepare your home for sale.

Improve the curb appeal
It’s not just the inside of your home which should be inviting to buyers — the outside of your home should be, too. Trim hedges, maintain the lawn, power wash the walls and try to inject some color, where possible. Your yard is your home’s first impression on buyers. Make it a great one.

Lighten up the place
Extra sunlight lends an airy feeling to your home, and interior lights provide cozy glow. Therefore, wash your windows, pullback your drapes, replace burnt-out bulbs, and add outdoor lighting to your landscaping, if possible. Also, keep your home lit in the evenings in the event that potential buyers drive by after-hours. With the lights on, your home will look cheery instead of dark and gloomy.

Store unnecessary furniture and personal objects
Less can be more when it comes to showing your home so put your knick-knacks, your stacks of books and your fridge-covering artwork in storage. Be sure to avoid stashing personal items in closets because buyers expect closets to be clutter-free as well.

Paint a pretty home
A new coat of paint will freshen up any room so paint where needed. However, stick to neutrals such as grays and tans. Also, consider repainting rooms bathed in bright, fun colors — this can divert a buyer’s attention away from the home and toward money-costing “projects” that would come with buying the home.

With the help of your REALTOR® and a little hard work, these tips should help you increase your home’s appeal to a wide variety of buyers without breaking the bank. It may even help you sell your home more quickly.

Your November Gardening Task List Your November Gardening Task ListComments Off on Your November Gardening Task List

For homeowners who keep a garden, with the change of seasons comes a task list.

There are basic tasks for gardeners — for example, raking the leaves, sharpening your tools. And, there are advanced tasks, too, which includes identifying and removing plants and trees which may be dead, and covering compost to prevent rain storms from leaching nutrients.

For homeowners in frost-free areas, November is a good time to plant roses and azaleas; prune flowering trees; and, start your fall vegetable garden.

The cooler fall and winter months are terrific for leafy greens such as spinach and kale; and carrots. Protect plants with row covers, when necessary.

For homeowners in colder parts of the county, November is when you should circle evergreens with burlap and wrap the bottoms of young trees with mesh wire to protect from wildlife; and empty and roll up garden hoses for storage.

It’s also when bulbs should be planted. Tulips, crocuses and hyacinths are easy to plant and will welcome you come springtime.

For all homeowners, consider this list :

  • Aerate lawns to improve root development and drainage
  • Check and clean gutters from fallen leaves, needles, and twigs
  • Perform a round of weeding

And then, to discourage weed growth throughout the winter, place down a pre-emergent, and mulch around bedding plants, shrubs, and trees.

If your temperatures in your area tend to go below freezing, be aware of your plants which are sensitive to de-icing salts. Consider buying sand or sawdust for traction purposes near these plantings instead.

Lastly, remember that the fall months are a terrific time to take note of what worked in your garden during the summer, and what didn’t. Use a notebook and put your findings to paper. Attention paid now will pay dividends next spring.

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