5 Yard Maintenance Tips for Fall

September 21st, 2015

Winter is on its way that is for sure. Now is the time to look ahead to what you would you’re your Spring garden to look like by doing some planting in the Fall.

“It’s a common misconception that just because most plants and gardens aren’t actively blooming in the fall, they don’t require maintenance during the colder months,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs at The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). “Many homeowners work hard all spring and summer to care for their yards and gardens, only to let them languish once colder weather arrives.”

In cold climates, taking extra care of trees, grass, shrubs and plants will ensure they survive the winter and look great in the spring.

Follow these five tips to prep your yard for winter:

  1. Start planting: The warm soil in the fall is perfect for planting flowering bulbs and perennials, and allows plants and roots to have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat.
  2. Get rid of leaves: Winter’s frigid temperatures can cause leaves, dead grass, and plants to release chemicals that run off frozen ground during spring’s snow melt and spring rains.These chemicals can end up in surface water, so removing leaves is important. Getting rid of leaves also improves the state of your grass.
  3. Mulch madness: Applying two to three inches of mulch can help to protect plant roots and grass from extreme temperatures in the winter months. You can even make your own mulch by running over leaves couple of times with your lawnmower.
  4. Wrap your plants: Burlap or frost protecting fabrics will protect many plant varieties like roses, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and crape myrtles from being damaged by sub-freezing temperatures.
  5. Apply fertilizer: Make sure to fertilize your lawn before the first frost so your grass will survive the winter conditions. Choose a fertilizer with a formula designed to meet your lawn’s needs. The numbers on a fertilizer bag show the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium on a weight basis. If you aren’t sure what kind of fertilizer your lawn needs, talk to a lawn care or landscape professional. It’s also good to know that some states are actually banning types of fertilizer and times of the year when fertilizer can be applied to reduce runoff. Check with your local extension service to see the regulations for your area.

Sources: “Top Five Tips to Get Your Yard Ready for Fall,” BusinessWire (Sept. 14, 2015) and “Winter Lawn Care: 4 Steps to Protect Your Turf,” Houselogica_man_raking_fallen_leaves_royalty_free_080818-095072-962018

Top 6 Home Buyer Concerns

September 2nd, 2015

Rising home prices tops the list of home buyer concerns this year, a shift from last year when nearly half of buyers said their chief concern was the limited number of homes for-sale, according to a new survey of more than 3,500 buyers released by the real estate brokerage Redfin.

In this year’s survey, nearly 27 percent of respondents cited high or rising home prices as their top concern. Another 17 percent of respondents said they were most concerned about competition from other buyers.

First-time buyers were particularly worried about rising home prices. Thirty-one percent of first-time buyers said that higher home prices were their top concern.

The survey identified the following top six home buyer concerns this year:

  1. Affordability: “Prices are rising too high” – 27%
  2. “There’s too much competition from other buyers” – 17%
  3. “There aren’t enough homes to choose from” – 14%
  4. “I need to sell a home first” – 8%
  5. “I might not have enough for a down payment” – 6%
  6. “Mortgage rates will go up before I can buy” – 5%

The top buyer concerns identified last year was inventory, home prices, competition from other buyers, rising mortgage rates, and home-shopping fatigue.

Source: “Home Prices Weigh Heavily on Buyers as Mortgage-Rate Worry Recedes,” Redfin Research Center (Aug. 19, 2015)

5 Popular Trends in New-Home Construction

August 5th, 2015

What building materials are trending in new-home construction? The latest Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation, reveals what buyers can expect to see in the new-home market.

1. Garages: The garage door is getting more enhancements, including windows, insulated doors, and doors made of composite or plastic materials. In 2014, 32 percent of all new single-family homes had bays for three or more cars—the most ever recorded in this study’s history.

2. Flooring: Carpeting continues to be the most popular flooring option for new construction, with about 83 percent of all new-home bedroom installations having carpeting. However, only about 40 percent of living rooms now have carpet. Hardwood flooring – both solid and engineered types – is the second most popular type of flooring, and is included in 27 percent of all new-home installations. Ceramic tile (which appears in 72 percent of all bathroom floor installation) follows in third place, making up 20 percent of all new-home floor installations, according to the survey.

3. Countertops: For kitchen countertops, granite continues to reign at 64 percent of new-home installations. Quartz/engineered stone is gaining popularity while laminate, solid surfacing, and ceramic tile are losing appeal.

4. Appliances: Cooktops and wall oven combinations are gaining in popularity and make up about 24 percent of the market, compared to freestanding ovens (at 45 percent). Freezer-on-bottom refrigerators are gaining in popularity at 19 percent, while side-by-side has fallen to 28 percent of the share.

5. Kitchen sinks: More buyers are paying attention to their kitchen sink, with the single basin kitchen sink making a comeback, growing from 5 percent to 20 percent of all new single-family homes in the past decade. Also growing in popularity are granite/stone kitchen sinks (at 8 percent). One-piece cultured marble lavatories are continuing to decline in demand, according to the survey.

Source: “Material World: The Hottest Trends From the 2015 Builder Practices Survey,” BUILDER Online (July 29, 2015)

In Kitchens, the Design May Trump Cooking

July 7th, 2015

Posted in Home Trends, by Melissa Tracey on July 6, 2015

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Home owners continue to invest in their kitchens but cooking appears to be coming in secondary to the design of the space, according to the latest American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey which focused on kitchen and bath design trends.

“The major point of emphasis in kitchen design nowadays revolves less around actual cooking activities,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. ”Rather, home owners are looking for kitchens that are gathering spots for family and entertaining, as well as serving as a hub for electronic devices and recharging stations.”

Many of the architects surveyed by AIA noted the revival of kitchen as the “hearth” of the home in the traditional sense: for family gathering, for entertaining, and for daily activities.

“The design requirements often include high functionality to accommodate multiple activities,” Walbridge says. “The aesthetics of the kitchen have also changed as the composition and material selections have elevated the space to become an essential focal point of the total design.”

Traditional Kitchen by Tampa Interior Designers & Decorators Paul Anater

The following are some of the most popular kitchen products and features identified by architects in the latest AIA survey:

  • LED lighting
  • Computer area/recharging station
  • Larger pantry space
  • Upper-end appliances
  • Double island
  • Adaptability/universal design
  • Drinking water filtration systems

5 DIY Projects That Save Money

June 30th, 2015

Home improvement projects don’t have to be large-scale to return a big value. In fact, the 2015 Cost vs. Value report points out that even something as simple and cheap as replacing a steel door returns on average 101.8 percent nationally.

“Going DIY is the ultimate money-saving tool,” says John Riha, editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library. “You’ll also get tons of satisfaction and enjoyment from creating a better home environment, and from learning home improvement skills that’ll last a lifetime.”

Before deciding to DIY, there are some things to keep in mind. Some projects are worth the cost of hiring a contractor, including fixing electrical work, or big home exterior improvements, like replacing roofing and siding. Also, it’s important to consider the time and labor trade-off involved in DIY projects.

Learning the tricks of the DIY trade is easier than ever.  There are instructions for almost every project on Youtube, and many manufacturers have DIY tutorials online. Or if you’re truly old school, the local library offers how-to books on many home improvement projects.

Here are the five best home improvement projects with great ROI:

  • Deck addition: Building a 12-foot-by-16-foot wood deck addition is fairly simple, and may only take three or four days to complete, depending on the decision to use concrete piers instead of poured concrete footings. The ROI of doing this type of project is an incredible 490 percent, compared to 80.5 percent when a professional is hired. When it’s time to sell, owners can expect to get back $8,085.
  • Small bathroom upgrade: Installing ceramic tile may be one of the more labor intensive DIY projects, and one that typically requires being without a bathroom for six to eight days, but it provides a great ROI at 170 percent compared with the 70 percent if a professional handles the job.  The profit when it comes time to sell? $11,707.
  • Installing a new front door: Steel door replacement not only provides great curb appeal, it has a huge cost return. The ROI if it’s replaced by a professional is 101.8 percent, but if done as a DIY project the ROI is an incredible 501 percent. When it comes time to sell, owners can expect getting back $1,252.
  • Replacing the garage door: This easy DIY project can net$1,410 when it’s time to sell. Swapping out an older garage door for a steel door has a ROI of 166 percent if done by the owner, and 88.4 percent if hiring a professional.
  • Window replacement: If replacing more than three windows, or windows on a second story, it’s best to leave this to the pros. Window replacement has an ROI of 72.9 percent if done by a professional, and 320 percent if handled by the owner. DIY window replacement can expect to gain $816 when it’s time to sell.

Source: “Best Money-Saving DIY Projects (and Tips for Doing Them Right),” Houselogic, June 2015.

90% of Properties Now Have Equity

June 23rd, 2015

As home prices rise, more home owners are regaining equity. During the first quarter of this year, about 254,000 properties regained equity, according to CoreLogic’s latest equity report.

Five states alone accounted for 31 percent of negative equity in the U.S., according to the report. Those states with the highest percentage of properties with a mortgage in the negative equity position in the first quarter are:

  1. Nevada: 23.1%
  2. Florida: 21.2%
  3. Illinois: 16.8%
  4. Arizona: 16.8%
  5. Rhode Island: 15.7%

The number of negative equity households stood at 5.1 million, or 10.2 percent of all properties with a mortgage in the first quarter of this year, according to CoreLogic’s report. That represents a slight drop from 5.4 million homes, or 10.8 percent, that had negative equity in the fourth quarter of 2014.

“Many home owners are emerging from the negative equity trap, which bodes well for a continued recovery in the housing market,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “With the economy improving and home owners building equity, albeit slowly, the potential exists for an increase in housing stock available for sale, which would ease the current imbalance in supply and demand. There are still about 5 million home owners who are underwater and we estimate that a further 5 percent appreciation in home values across the U.S. would reduce the number of owners with negative equity by about one million.”

The following states had the highest percentage of properties in the positive equity territory by the end of the first quarter:

  • Texas: 97.7%
  • Hawaii: 96.9%
  • Alaska: 96.8%
  • Montana: 96.8%
  • North Dakota: 96.2%

In general, the majority of positive equity properties are centered at the high end of the housing market, according to the report. For example, 94 percent of homes valued at greater than $200,000 have equity, compared with 85 percent of homes valued at less than $200,000.

Source: CoreLogic


Repairing your credit

March 24th, 2014

If home ownership is one of your dreams; however, your credit is not the best.  Following are some tips to help you repair your credit and move you on your way to home ownership.

Check your credit report – Credit score repair begins with your credit report.  If you have not already done so, request a copy of your free credit report and check it for errors.  If you do find errors, report them immediately to the credit bureau and reporting agency.

Set up payment reminders – Making payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit score.

Reduce the amount of debt you owe – The first priority with this step is to stop using your credit cards.  Next would be to establish a payment plan to start reducing this debt.

Payment history tips – Pay your bills on time.  If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.   The longer you pay your bills on time, the sooner your score should increase.  Be aware that even though a debt is paid it still remains part of your credit score.

Credit balances – High outstanding debt can affect a credit score.  Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score.

Future accounts – Please know that just by closing an account does not make it go away.

If you are having more complicated issues than originally thought, contacting a credit counselor is your next step as they are the experts.


Repairs to consider from winter damage

March 18th, 2014

 HouseA recent article on MSN shared some repairs to consider making, especially considering the harsh winter we have had in the U.S.  Fixing these problems will eliminate bigger problems in the future.

Roofing and guttersSnow and winds cause a lot of damage through the winter.  Ice dams are common after a snowstorm because the snow melts and reforms as ice near the edge of the roof.  This prevents proper drainage in the gutters, which allows the ice to seep under the roof for more damage.  Removing snow as soon as possible is the best way to prevent future damage.

PipesBecause of below-freezing temperatures or improper insulation, pipes freeze and sometimes burst.  Contacting a plumber immediately is basically your safest bet to fix the problem and get the water flowing again.

Damaged or fallen treesSnow and wind cause trees to fall and limbs to break, sometimes close to homes and on power lines because of high winds and heavy snowfall.  Hiring a professional can sometimes be your quickest place to start.  If is directly on a power line, calling the company directly is the way to go.

Siding  – The winter winds can cause siding to blow off.  This allows the house’s inner siding to get wet, which can lead to mold.  It can also allow for pests if there are holes or leaks, so homeowners should fix these issues as soon as possible.

Structural issues and leaks  – Leaks are common winter storm problems homeowners need to tackle immediately also.  Common places for these are the roof, windows, doors or siding.  If there is a basement, homeowners should also check for leaks in the foundation to avoid flooding or future structural issues.

Heaters and furnaces  – Freezing temperatures can cause furnaces to be pushed to their limits.  Seeking a professional for any heating, ventilation and air-conditioning is highly advisable to keep systems running smoothly.

These simple repairs will keep your home from being damaged further from winter’s wrath and ensure your home’s condition for the future.

Improving your home’s property value with landscaping

March 4th, 2014

The spring real estate market is coming soon!  Landscaping is a perfect way to increase value to your property.  Follow these great tips to get your house noticed and sold more quickly:

Lawn maintenance:  A well mowed lawn adds instant appeal to a property.  If your lawn is patchy or has bare areas, some lawn repair may be needed.

Pruning:  Prune any overgrown shrubbery or trees on the property.  If you are unsure how to do this properly, contact a local landscaper for help.a_man_raking_fallen_leaves_royalty_free_080818-095072-962018

Weeding/mulching:  Weeding flower beds and mulching right before listing your house also adds instant appeal to your property.  Also remove weeds between pavers and concrete cracks.

Storing the extras:  Remove any kid’s toys, bikes, etc. and put in storage.  Get rid of any trash, junk or anything else that is cluttering the lawn and toss any dead plants left in containers.

Plants:  Plant areas of color to last throughout the growing season.

Miscellaneous:  Sweep porches, decks and other hard surface areas and remove any cobwebs in corners.  If necessary, powerwash the house, wood and concrete surfaces to remove caked-on dirt and possible mold.

Follow these quick, simple tips to help your property appeal to buyers and be prepared to start packing!

Feature property at 2244 Sacia Lane, Hudson WI

February 14th, 2014

001_Front Left~2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom

~Lot is 0.13 acres  (40×152)

~Gas fireplace in living area

~2 car attached garage—insulated and tile flooring

~Stainless steel appliances

~Open concept floor plan

~Beautiful landscaping

Call us today at 715-410-3883 or 651-261-4600 to schedule a showing

Keller Williams Integrity Realty – Licensed in WI/MN