Posts for Syndication

Save on Your Electric Bills

By Virtual Results

Save on Your Electric BillsWe’re all feeling the crunch of inflation. As colder weather approaches, you may be worrying about how to keep up with your home energy costs – particularly electricity. With longer nights and colder temperatures, electricity bills can skyrocket during these fall and winter months. Fortunately, there are ways you can curb your electricity bills so they don’t take such a big bite out of your bank account. Follow these tips to help you realize savings on your electricity bills now and during every season.

Check into energy audits

Did you know that many utility companies offer home energy audits to their customers – for free? These audits help you determine where you can save money on your utility costs. Contact your utility company to see if they offer this program in your area. If not, you can also perform one of your own.

Keep the fridge stocked

Here’s something you may not know – keeping your fridge and freezer full will help you save on your energy costs. The food inside your fridge and freezer can provide insulation. That means your fridge does not need to run as often to stay cool. So stock up!

Use those ceiling fans

Ceiling fans aren’t just great for keeping you cool. They can actually help you be more efficient. By using your ceiling fans, you can keep the air circulating in your home. When you do, your air conditioner and heater don’t have to work as hard to keep things at a comfortable temperature.

Use power strips

This may also surprise you – did you know that appliances that are plugged in but turned off still consume electricity? These so-called phantom loads are caused by TVs, computers, kitchen appliances, and stereos, among others. To curb the costs of these phantom loads, plug these appliances into a power strip. When those appliances are not in use, turn off the power strip, although be careful with appliances like furnaces as this could damage them, although you can also use a service like furnace replacement in Arlington, TX in case you need a new one.

Keep your HVAC maintained

One of the best ways to keep your energy costs in check is to have your HVAC system serviced every year by a professional ac service and furnace service that provides furnace replacement in Mentor. This ensures that your system is running efficiently. An added bonus is that it also helps to keep the air in your home cleaner. While you’re at it, make sure you change your HVAC filters regularly. Furthermore, you may upgrade your home insulation installation to improve your home’s overall energy-efficiency.

Switch to LEDs

If you haven’t gotten on the LED bandwagon, then now is the time to do it. LED light bulbs are far more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs – up to 90 percent, in fact. If you’re concerned about the upfront cost of switching, then start with the bulbs you use the most. Change the others as you are able.

Turn down your hot water heater

Another big drain on energy in your home is heating your water. To see savings on your energy bill, turn the temperature down on your hot water heater. Aim to keep it between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. For added savings, put an insulation jacket on your hot water heater and insulate the first six feet of pipe that extends from it. You’ll be glad you did!

If you have more questions on how you can save on your electric bills, then you may consult a residential electric professional.

What to Look for in a Neighborhood

By Virtual Results

What to Look for in a NeighborhoodA lot goes into buying a home. Not only are you looking for a home that meets all your needs, but you’ll also be looking for a neighborhood that does the same. These are big decisions, and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. While you may already know what you’re looking for in a home, have you thought about what you want in a neighborhood? If you’re still determining what kind of neighborhood you’d like to move to, then here are the questions you should ask yourself.

Is it a safe neighborhood?

One of the most important considerations you should evaluate when looking for a neighborhood is its safety. This is particularly true if you have young children. You want them to grow up in a safe environment. You can research a neighborhood’s safety by checking the crime statistics in the area. We also recommend driving or walking around the neighborhood at different times of the day to get a feel for how safe and secure it is.

Is it easy to get from one place to another?

Another thing you should consider when looking at a neighborhood is how easy it is to get from one place to another. Is the neighborhood close to the main streets and highways? Will you have easy access to public transportation with bus or train stations nearby? Is there a local airport? In addition, think about whether you’ll be able to walk or bike to nearby amenities, such as parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and local attractions.

Is it safe for bikes?

Speaking of bikes, is the neighborhood safe for bicyclists? Do the local roads include bike lanes? Are there places to park and lock up bikes near popular destinations? Do local public transit options allow you to take a bike aboard? When you visit, do you see other residents riding their bikes in the neighborhood?

Is there noise?

Nobody wants to live near noise, whether it’s street noise or noisy neighbors. Living in a peaceful environment and getting a good night’s sleep are important to most buyers. So, if possible, visit the home a different times of the day to see what kind of ambient noise you may be dealing with. Check to see how close the property is to busy streets as well as commercial districts. Also, take into consideration how close the house is to the neighbors. The closer you are, the more likely sounds from the neighbors might annoy you.

What amenities are nearby?

You should also check out what kinds of amenities are close to the home that you may enjoy. Look for parks, cultural attractions, nature preserves, restaurants, and conveniences such as grocery stores, banks, and gas stations. Having these amenities close by may be more important to you than you realize.

How connected is the community?

Finally, you should also look for signs that residents are actively engaged with the community. Are people out walking their dogs? Do they utilize public spaces? Are there frequent community events such as live music or even fundraisers? Moving to a neighborhood where residents are actively engaged in the community can be a real asset and even influence the value of your home.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Cleaning Your Gutters

By Virtual Results

Cleaning Your GuttersIs cleaning your gutters on your to-do list this weekend? Fall is an important time to tackle this as dead leaves and other debris accumulate in your gutters and downspouts. Keeping gutters clear of debris helps to prevent the damage that can occur to your home and landscaping from water runoff. While you can certainly hire someone to clean your gutters, it’s also a task you can complete yourself. If you’re ready to clean your gutters, then here’s what you need to know to do it right the first time.

Dress appropriately

You should wear the proper gear when you’re cleaning your gutters. Wear a long-sleeved shirt as well as work pants. Remember – you’re probably going to get dirty. And some of the things you remove from your gutters could harm sensitive skin. So use a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Use a sturdy ladder

When you clean your gutters, you’re going to need a sturdy and extendable ladder. Make sure to place the ladder on an even service. If possible, have another person nearby who can help to stabilize the ladder. Practice ladder safety by never climbing above the second-to-last rung or extending your reach. If you feel uncomfortable on a ladder, then you should consider having a professional do the job.

Cleaning the gutters

Try to time your cleaning so that it is a few days after it rains. This allows debris to dry out, making it easier to remove. Start by removing debris near the downspout, then work toward the opposite end. You can put the debris you remove in a bucket or lay a tarp on the ground beneath you to catch the debris. Use your hands or a gutter scoop to remove compacted debris. Once all the debris has been removed, flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose. Start at the far end and work toward the downspout. Avoid spraying under the roof shingles. This will remove any remaining debris. It will also alert you to any cracks or leaks in the gutters.

Check downspouts

If the water isn’t flushing quickly out of your downspouts, then they may be clogged. Try to dislodge the clog by spraying directly down the spout at full pressure. If this does not work, then feed the hose into the downspout from the ground and try again. If this also fails to work, then try using a plumber’s snake to release the clog.

Check for damages and make repairs

As you clean the gutters, check for damages. This could include cracks or leaks in the gutters or downspouts or sagging gutters. These leaks could lead to water damage that may require professional water damage restoration. Fortunately, many gutter repairs are easy to complete. If your gutters are sagging or don’t slope properly, detach them from the hangers and adjust. Seal leaks or cracks with gutter sealant following the instructions on the label. If you want to take it a step further, you may finally take on a roof replacement project which will not only increase your home’s resale value but also boost your curb appeal. You may also consider pressure-washing the outside of the gutters to remove dirt and mildew. Then touch up the paint, if needed.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Autumn Curb Appeal for Home Sellers

By Virtual Results

Autumn Curb Appeal for Home SellersCozy season is in full swing! Fall is such a magical time of the year, making it an excellent season to sell your home. This is especially true if you have trees changing color in your landscape, making it all the more attractive. But just because Mother Nature is lending a helping hand with your curb appeal doesn’t mean you can’t chip in, too. If you’re preparing to sell your home this fall, then here are our favorite tips for amping up your curb appeal.

Stay on top of maintenance

Just because the leaves are beautiful colors doesn’t mean you should let them pile up in your yard. To make your home attractive to buyers, you need to stay on top of maintenance. This means keeping the lawn mowed, raking up leaves, cutting back dead plants, and patching up the grass where needed.

Add fall plants and flowers

Every garden center in America is chock full of gorgeous fall plants and flowers. Take advantage of this bounty by bringing a few home for your front yard. You can plant them in your flower beds or display them in attractive containers. Create a beautiful focal point around your front door by grouping colorful mums and other fall flowers around it. You can also add a seasonal wreath as well as a few pumpkins or gourds to add to its appeal.

Clean the exterior

During the summer, your home’s exterior is less noticeable behind the trees and shrubs. But once these plants go dormant, your house is on full display. You can ask the advice of a tree service regarding tree trimming and other tree services. You can also make it look great by power-washing the exterior and cleaning the windows. Touch up chipped paint and paint the front door an eye-catching color. You may even repair your vinyl siding or install a new one. Also, consider power-washing your sidewalks and driveways. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make!

Check the gutters

Homebuyers will be checking out every square inch of your home – including the gutters. While nobody likes to drag out the ladder and clean the gutters, it’s an essential task that must be completed. Clean out all the dead leaves and debris that have accumulated in the gutters and downspouts.

Decorate simply

We understand the impulse to go all out with seasonal decorations this time of year – especially for Halloween. But you should keep that impulse in check if you’re selling your home. Opt for seasonal decorations like pumpkins and mums instead of scary decorations like monsters and ghosts. And remember – less is more when you’re decorating your home for sale.

Replenish mulch

After you’ve cleaned up your garden beds, then add a new layer of mulch to them. This will make them look clean, tidy, and fresh. It will also prepare garden beds for the coming winter.

Don’t forget the lights

Finally, don’t forget to light up your home’s exterior. Since it now gets dark much earlier, many of your potential buyers may be seeing your home after the sun sets. Ensure they can still get a good look at home by washing lighting fixtures. Consider swapping out your porch light for a new one and adding simple solar lights to your yard for added appeal.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Maximizing the Profit on Your Home Sale

By Virtual Results

Maximizing the Profit on Your Home Sale

Are you worried you may have missed your chance to make a killing on your home sale? While the market has been shifting as a result of rising mortgage rates and home prices, it’s still a seller’s market. If you’re selling your home, then you’re still in a good position for a favorable outcome. However, there are things you can do to ensure you get the most profit possible from your home sale. Let’s take a closer look.

Know the comps

If you’re selling your home, then it’s essential to know what’s happening in the market in your neighborhood. This means researching comparable sales that have happened in your location in the last few months. Look for homes that are the same size as yours with similar amenities. You should then use that information to help you determine the listing price for your home. If you list for more than local comps, then buyers will most likely be turned off. Conversely, if you list for less, then buyers may be worried there is something wrong with the home. Pricing it just right is the key. You should lean on your real estate agent for expert advice on how to price your home appropriately.

Be strategic about your listing price

In addition to knowing the comps, you should also be strategic in pricing your home for sale. For example, if research shows that you should price your home for $400,000, consider pricing it for just under that amount – say, $399,999. It will make the home seem less expensive and will show up in more buyer searches.

Understand your potential buyers

When you sell your home, you need to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. What is it about your home that is so attractive? Is your home spacious or does it have great views? Do you have plenty of space to entertain or a spare room to use as a home office? Maybe your home is all on one floor, making it perfect for those who want to age in place. Know what buyers in your area may be looking for so you know what amenities of your home to highlight. Don’t forget to include area amenities, such as proximity to public transportation or being located in a highly-rated school district. These are all things you should emphasize when marketing your home for sale.

Declutter and depersonalize

Finally, we can’t emphasize this point enough. You must declutter and depersonalize your home before you list it. This means going through all the closets, cabinets, drawers, and storage spaces. If you need to, then pack up items and store them in a rented self storage unit during your sale. Once you’ve decluttered, you need to clean your home from top to bottom. Buyers will look in every corner of your home, so no shortcuts. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. And don’t forget to remove all personal items from your home. This includes family photos, travel souvenirs, and even sports team memorabilia. You want buyers to be able to imagine themselves in the home, which will be tough to do if your home is personalized to your tastes.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What to Know About Fixer-Uppers

By Virtual Results

What to Know About Fixer-Uppers

Although changes are happening in the housing market, buyers are still facing stiff competition. For some, this can mean being more open to a house that could use some work. “Fixer-uppers” have become popular options, especially with the number of television programs that show run-down homes being transformed into beautiful palaces. But buying a fixer-upper presents unique challenges, and you shouldn’t go into a deal without knowing what you might encounter. If you’re considering buying a home that could use some work, then this is what you should know.

Know the types of fixer-uppers

There are different types of fixer-uppers and they can present entirely different sets of challenges to buyers. One type of fixer-upper is an ugly house. The name is pretty self-explanatory. These are homes that are unattractive, have peeling paint, have yards that have gone wild, or have unusual smells. Most ugly houses are just in need of a cosmetic refresh. On the other hand, some fixer-uppers are actual wrecks. These are homes that need significant repairs, such as a new foundation, new plumbing, or a new roof.

Understand the costs of a fixer-upper

Knowing the type of fixer-upper you’re considering will help you understand the costs you may encounter as a buyer. Ugly houses will have fewer expensive repairs. Most of the costs will be associated with updating the interiors and landscaping. You may also encounter properties that will require you to hire a concrete foundation contractor to conduct foundation repairs. Homes that are wrecks, however, will most likely require repairs that will be very expensive. Some may have problems that can’t be solved, such as pervasive mold. Neglected homes may also have rodent problems which might require the services of a rodent exterminator. Similarly, you may discover other types of pests like bed bugs and you may have to look into bed bug pest control services. When you buy a home needing these sorts of repairs, costs could run into the tens of thousands of dollars, or even much more.

Research the loans available for fixer-uppers

If you’re buying a home that needs extensive repairs, then you’ll be happy to know that there are certain types of loans for homes like these. You may qualify for a renovation loan, for example. Or you can research a 203(k) loan, which is backed by the Federal Housing Authority. 203(k) loans often have lower interest rates and are available to those with lower credit scores. But there are lending limits and you must meet the qualifications.

Estimate your repair costs

No matter what type of fixer-upper you want to buy, you need to estimate your repair costs before making an offer on the home. You don’t want to finish the deal only to discover that you’ll need far more money for repairs than you anticipated. Research the costs of renovations in your area and talk to friends and family who may have recently had similar repairs done. Give yourself some wiggle room because there are always unexpected costs that arise.

Negotiate the purchase price

Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate the purchase price of a fixer-upper. If you’re able to offer all cash, then you could get a significant discount. Talk to the seller about the time and costs you expect for repairs and ask for a break on the price to accommodate those costs. And if you need to live elsewhere while the repairs are happening, don’t forget to factor in those costs.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Negotiating Tips for First-Time Buyers

By Virtual Results

Negotiating Tips for First-Time BuyersBuyers have faced stiff competition for the last couple of years in the housing market. There has been a huge demand for homes, but not enough homes on the market to meet that demand. As a first-time buyer, this can be an intimidating market to jump into. But the good news is that the market has begun to cool. There are more opportunities for buyers and more room for first-time buyers to enter the market. Buyers are even finding that they have more opportunities to negotiate than they have recently. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, then this is what you need to know about negotiating your home purchase.

The market is changing

First of all, buyers should be aware that the market is beginning to change. Mortgage rates have risen and home prices continue to make gains. This has dampened the frenzy that has characterized the market during the pandemic. Home sales are down, making it easier for buyers to negotiate.

You can make an offer below the asking price

Just a few months ago, it was not uncommon for a seller to receive multiple offers above the asking price. But as the market changes, more sellers may be willing to make deals. As a first-time homebuyer, pay attention to how long a home has been on the market. You should also look for homes that have reduced their asking prices. These are both good indications that you may be successful in submitting an offer below the asking price. Work with your agent to determine a price that makes sense for your local market.

Insist on a home inspection

One tactic that serious buyers were using to make a winning offer was to waive the home inspection contingency. Fortunately, the market has shifted enough in recent months that buyers can once again feel comfortable insisting on a home inspection as part of the deal. If you waive the inspection, then you could potentially be on the hook for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars of needed repairs on a home. It is in your best interest to insist on a home inspection, and in this market, you’re more likely to receive it.

Don’t rule out other contingencies

Contingencies are certain conditions that must be met for a home sale to go through. As we said above, many buyers over the last two years have waived important contingencies in their desperation to buy a home. In addition to not waiving the home inspection contingency, you can also ask to include an appraisal contingency. When you buy a home with a loan, the lender will perform an appraisal to determine the value of the property. But what happens if the appraisal comes in lower than the price you have offered the seller? If you have an appraisal contingency, you’ll be able to walk out of the deal or renegotiate the selling price with no penalties.

Consider closing costs

Finally, as a first-time buyer, you can consider asking the seller to contribute to the closing costs of the home. Closing costs are typically anywhere from three to seven percent of the home price. Many motivated sellers will be willing to pay for some or even all of the closing costs, so it’s worth asking.

Compliments of Virtual Results

When Should You Start Your Home Search?

By Virtual Results

When Should You Start Your Home Search?Have you been dreaming about buying a home of your own? Becoming a homeowner is still very much part of the American Dream. But if you’re doing it for the first time – or even the fifth – then you may have many questions about the process. One of the most common questions we get is when you should begin searching for a home. Let’s dive in and find out!

Six months is a good guideline

If you’re serious about buying a home soon, then there’s no reason to postpone your search. Finding just the right home can take time, especially in a market where buyers still outnumber the homes available for sale. As a general guideline, we recommend beginning at least six months before you want to move. And honestly, you can start looking for homes a year before you’d like to resettle.

Starting early helps you discover what you want

One important reason to begin your home search as soon as possible is that it will help you understand what you want. By casually searching homes online, you will get a feeling for the current market. You’ll see what kinds of homes are available and what the prices are like. You can also begin researching different neighbors so that you know where you’d like to focus your search. We always recommend making a list of things you need to have in a home as well as those things you’d like to have. By beginning your search early, you’ll be better able to compose that list. This will be invaluable once you become serious about house hunting.

Know what you can afford

Here’s a helpful tip – have a good idea of what you’re able to afford before you begin your search. You can use an online calculator to quickly discover how much house you can afford. This is going to make your search much easier. It will also save you headaches and stress down the line. Nobody should purchase a home they can’t reasonably afford. So knowing your budget from the beginning can help you avoid getting your heart set on a home that’s out of reach.

Continue saving

Another excellent reason to begin your home search early is that it can provide an incentive to save as much money as possible. The more you have saved for a down payment, the better position you’ll be in. You’ll have more choices when it comes to home loans. Your offer will be more appealing to a seller with a larger down payment. You’ll also qualify for better terms on your loan. Having more money saved will open more possibilities in your search.

Attend open houses

We also advise that you begin attending open houses early in your search. Nothing beats seeing a home in person. Being able to walk through homes will give you a better sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. It also allows you to explore new neighborhoods and check out the competition.

The bottom line

Ultimately, it’s never too early to begin your home search. The earlier you start, the more prepared you will be when it’s time to hit the gas on your house hunt. If you’re ready to begin your home search, then contact us today!

Compliments of Virtual Results

How To Discard Old Appliances

By Virtual Results

How To Discard Old Appliances

Did your oven kick the bucket during your last Thanksgiving dinner? Has your washing machine washed its last sock? Or maybe you upgraded your furnace or air conditioner to a more energy-efficient model? Whatever the case, big appliances do reach the end of their lifespan. This begs the question – what do you do with them when they do? How can you responsibly discard those dishwashers or water heaters that you no longer need? Here’s what you need to know to best handle this situation.

Don’t take them apart

It may be tempting, but don’t take appliances apart so that you can repurpose them or put them in the trash. Many appliances can contain toxic or dangerous materials that need to be handled properly by experts from appliance repair services. Don’t just go to the first place you find, instead look for a reputable appliance repair company that has been running successfully for years, as this will ensure your appliances are properly repaired and that they will last for a good long while after.

Sell or donate the appliance

Just because you no longer need your appliance doesn’t mean it can’t be used by someone else. If your appliance is still in working condition or can be repaired, then consider selling it or donating it. Many people looking to save money are eager to purchase secondhand appliances. You can list them online for sale on websites such as CraigsList, Nextdoor, or Facebook Marketplace. And some charities will accept donated appliances for resale.

Bundle the removal

If you purchased a new appliance to replace the old one, then the retailer may offer removal services. In many cases, they may remove your old appliance when they install your new one. Some stores may charge a separate fee, while others may include this for free as part of their service. Be sure to check when you make the purchase.

Check with your municipality

Some municipalities may have programs in place to help residents properly dispose of used appliances. Check with your city to see if they offer appliance collection or recycling for large appliances. In some cases, you may need to schedule a pick-up ahead of time. In others, you may be able to leave your appliance at the curb with other trash. Some cities may charge for this service while others may offer it for free.

Check with your utility company

Some utility companies may pay you for your old appliances. This is especially true for refrigerators and freezers. Contact your utility company to see if they offer any programs that will pay you to unload your old appliances.

Hire a junk removal company

Another option for unloading an old appliance is to hire a junk removal company. While this option can be the easiest, it is often the most costly. Check with different junk removal companies in your area to compare prices before you commit.

Rent a Dumpster

Finally, if you have more than one appliance to discard, then it may be smart to rent a Dumpster. This is a great choice if you’re renovating an entire home and have other junk that needs to be thrown out. Just load all your unwanted items into the Dumpster and let the company know when you’re finished. They will then haul the Dumpster and its contents away.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Small Ways to Get Organized at Home

By Virtual Results

Small Ways to Get Organized at Home

Does it feel like getting organized at home is an insurmountable task? Does it seem like it could take days, weeks, months, or even years to get on top of your clutter? Are you so overwhelmed that you don’t even know where to begin? We hear you! Getting – and staying – organized at home can be a challenge, especially if you have a family. But we’re here to tell you that you can adopt some small strategies that will help you be more organized in the long run. The best thing is that these tips don’t take much time or effort but can pay off big!

Make your bed every day

It’s such a small thing, but it can make a big difference in how your bedroom looks and feels. Making your bed when you get up in the morning gives your day a jumpstart. As the main focus of the room, having a tidy bed will make your whole room feel more organized. It will also give you a mental boost to get your day started on a positive note.

Complete tasks

This is a big one. Do you tend to start a task, get most of it done, and then…just leave it? After a while, you may have a whole house full of unfinished tasks. Going forward, when you begin a task, don’t move on to the next one until you complete the first one. That means completing it from start to finish including putting away all the materials needed to do the task. While it may feel like you’re getting fewer things done in the beginning, it will set a habit. In the long run, you’ll have more jobs completed and your house will feel less chaotic.

Use your wait time wisely

What do you do while your leftovers are heating up in the microwave or you’re waiting for water to boil? Or what about when you’re waiting for your kids to put on their shoes? Instead of reaching for your smartphone to pass the time, why not put it to good use? You can get a lot accomplished in just a few minutes. This could include wiping down the kitchen counter, emptying the dishwasher, or tidying up the foyer.

Use the one in, one out rule

It’s amazing how quickly clutter can accumulate. One day your house looks neat and tidy, and the next it looks like a tornado blew through. If this feels like you, then maybe it’s time to start using the one in, one out rule. Every time you bring a new item into your home, you need to get rid of one item from your home. This helps you keep on top of clutter before it becomes a real issue.

Keep paperwork contained

Does it feel like you’re slowly being consumed by a tower of paperwork? Papers can pile up quickly, especially with school-age kids. Have a plan for how you will deal with new paperwork when it comes into your home. Have a designated place to store papers until they are needed, and discard them as soon as you no longer need them.

Compliments of Virtual Results