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6 Tips to Increase the Resale Value of Your Home

As the housing market is making its upsurge to recovery, there is no better time than now to make some necessary home improvements. Whether it’s upgrading the bathrooms, working in a fresh coat of paint or giving those kitchen cabinets a makeover, there are several important tasks that can give you numerous advantages in the event of a home resale.

CURB APPEAL

The first huge step when marketing a house to buyers is getting them to come inside.A house with outdoor debris, sloppy landscaping, and unattractive trash or recycle bins lining its curb is not going to excite anyone to step into a house. Organizing, tidying and cleaning the exteriors before marketing a home is essential.

BATHROOMS

The bathroom and all its fixtures and details are often a bigger selling point than the four walls of a bedroom. Upgrading the faucets and sinks will give an instant facelift to a bathroom. A combination of smaller improvements, such as painting, de-cluttering and redecorating, are easy and will win over buyers, too, without putting a huge dent in your wallet. Adding storage solutions, such as a vanity or linen cabinets, will have a positive impact as well.

CLOSETS AND OTHER STORAGE

Nicely designed and functional closets are always a surprise to potential home buyers. Some nice storage solutions (e.g. pantries, media units, garages) can also make a significant difference, as buyers don’t often come across these.

PAINTING

Painting walls is usually the first go-to change most people make to their homes and it is for good reason. Cold, sterile walls are not welcoming and could hinder the impression on a buyer about the homeowner’s interest in maintaining the house. It is easy, fast, and inexpensive, so it’s hard to find an excuse not to, right? If you don’t do any other project, paint!

CONVERT THE BASEMENT INTO A LIVING ROOM

These spaces tend to have the reputation of being the “catch-all” area where clutter accumulates. Get creative with the décor: Create a wine storage and cocktail lounge, game room, home theater, piano room… the possibilities are endless!

KITCHEN UPGRADES

Start with a simple pantry cabinet makeover to create an organized, welcoming kitchen. If you’re ready for a bigger investment, renovate by installing all stainless steel appliances, updating the backsplash, applying a fresh coat of paint, and adding new cabinetry and countertops. Modern elements should not be mixed with traditional or dated elements.

WOOD DECK

As far as the exterior of the home,your investment in a deck will get you the most return in cost – about 80% according to Remodeling magazine. The addition of this outdoor space moves potential buyers to daydream about the parties they can host, enjoying family dinners outside, or where they are going to place their mighty grill. Overall, it can be a huge selling point.

FALL GARDENING TIPS


Summer is coming to a close, and there are necessary steps needed to maintain a fall vegetable garden. These particular veggies would be great for stews on a crisp fall evening, numerous side dishes, veggie trays for those tailgates and Sunday football gatherings or a nice crumbly salad with some warm-breaded chicken. With some care and planning, these tips will guarantee you have an agreeable stock of healthy home-grown veggies.

  • Gardeners should start preparing for planting in July or August. This allows for plenty of time for seeds and plants to grow before the first autumn freeze.
  • To determine when to start planting, find out the number of days to maturity for the vegetable. Next, count back the number of days from the first average frost dates. You will find maturity information on seed packets and some plant labels. Some vegetables even taste better when nipped by a light frost.

10 Plants for Your Fall Vegetable Garden

Broccoli – Broccoli seedlings should be planted 10 weeks before the first frost date in your area. Feed the plants 3 weeks after transplanting into the garden. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer. 70 days to maturity.

Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts are ideal for fall gardens because they really taste best when allowed to mature in cool weather. They are ready for harvest when they are firm and green. 90 days to maturity.

Cabbage – Plant seedlings 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. If the heat of summer is still intense when it’s time to plant in your area, give the young plants protection from sun. Cabbages are heavy feeders that require fertile soil rich in organic matter and consistent moisture. 70 days to maturity.

Cauliflower – Plant seedlings 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. Rich soil and consistent watering are the keys. Fluctuations in temperature, moisture and nutrients can cause the plant to “button” or produce small, undersized heads. Blanch the heads by tying the outer leaves together over the heads when they are about 2 to 3 inches across. This keeps them from turning green and becoming bitter. 60 days to maturity.

Kohlrabi – Kohlrabi is a member of cabbage family, but it looks and tastes similar to a turnip. The bulbous edible portion grows just above the soil line. Shade young plants from summer sun. 40 to 60 days to maturity depending on variety.

Lettuce – Sow seeds in late summer. Provide the seedlings with consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun. 45 to 60 days to harvest depending on type and variety.

Mustard Greens – Sow seeds 6 weeks before the first frost. Seeds will germinate in soil that is 45 to 85 degrees F. Keep the soil consistently moist to encourage rapid growth and tender greens. 45 days to maturity.

Radish – Sow seeds for radishes 4 weeks before the first frost. Winter varieties such as China Rose, mature slower, grow larger and store longer. They should be sown about 6 weeks before the first frost. Sow the seeds evenly so you don’t have to thin them. No feeding necessary, but soil should be fertile and well drained. They are quick to mature so check them regularly. They are ready to harvest as soon as they are of edible size. 25 to 50 days to maturity depending on variety.

Rutabaga – Sow seeds 12 weeks before the first frost. In regions where summer is long and hot, wait to sow seeds until night time temperatures are consistently around 50 to 60 degrees F. Rutabagas are a cross between cabbage and turnip. Although they are suitable for early spring gardens, they seem to have the best flavor when grown in fall. Keep the soil consistently moist to prevent roots from forking. 90 days to maturity.

Spinach – Sow seeds 5 weeks before first frost date. The short days and cool, moist weather of fall is even better for spinach than spring. An established spinach crop will last well into winter and can survive temperatures down into the 20s. Spinach prefers very fertile soil to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves. 45 days to maturity.

WINTER HOME CARE TIPS


Winter is the perfect time to start fixing things up inside your home as many of us try and avoid the cold air outside! Here are some ideas that you can use to keep your home looking nice.

Inspect and touch up interior paint:

Let the inner artist come out of you and add a splash of color to your walls to add some personality to your home. If you want to stick with white walls, it is nice to touch them up and make your home brighter with a new coat of paint.

Professionally clean curtains and drapes:

As we all know, dust accumulates over time. Cleaning your curtains and drapes can freshen up your home. Don’t have time to send to the cleaners? Just take them down, shake them, and clear the dust from the air.

Professionally clean carpet and/or wax & buff wood floors:

Over time, you may have a spill here or there on your carpet so getting it professionally cleaned will brighten up your rooms and make it seem more open. Waxing or buffing the wood floors will make the floor look shiny and brand new! Don’t have time for a professional cleaning? Set aside time to do spot cleaning on your carpet.

FALL HOME CARE TIPS


The fall season is here, but before you know it the cold winter will approach! Here are some home care ideas to focus on during the fall season.

Gutters:

The leaves are beginning to fall so this is the perfect time to clean your gutters, inspect the downspouts, and clear them of any items that have fallen down into them.

Check for Drafts:

With the winter season approaching, cooler temperatures will begin to roll in. Checking for drafts along the edge of windows, doors, and molding will help keep you warmer and keep your utility bills down, as the winter approaches.

Humidifier Maintenance:

It is a good idea to clean and adjust the humidifier on the furnace. You can replace the old filters or soak the interiors with un-distilled white vinegar and scrub them with a soft brush.Click here to learn more about the Home Warranty Plus Program with A.B. May and see what they have to offer for home warranties.

SUMMER TRAVEL TIPS


As you get ready to travel—even if it’s a short trip – don’t forget to take these few easy steps at home before you leave:

Turn up your thermostat to 85 degrees (unless you’re leaving pets at home, of course). Experts agree that the energy saved from turning your thermostat up in the summer while you’re away is greater than the energy used to cool your house back down after you return.

Close window blinds and shades to block out the sun’s heat. It’s amazing how much indoor heat simply comes from the heat of the sun though the windows. Most ENERGY STAR qualified windows reduce the “heat gain” into your home more than typical windows do, without reducing the visible light. You get the light you need without the uncomfortable heat.

Avoid wasting energy on unused electronics while you’re away by unplugging them—including hand-held electronics that might be charging, such as phones, MP3 players, chargers, and even laptops.

Aside from those one or two lights that you may want to leave on for safety, make sure everything else is turned off—all lights, ceiling fans, the alarm on your radio, and other small appliances.

And perhaps the best thing you can do to save energy this summer is to choose hotels that have earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR label. These hotels listed use at least 35 percent less energy and emit at least 35 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than other hotels—making a stay with them a carbon-saving experience.
For more tips on bringing your green on the road, visit the EPA’s website.


Written by A.B. May

6 TIPS TO AN ENJOYABLE WINTER


I hate to admit it but I’ve been noticing the days are starting to get shorter. That can mean only one thing, winter is on the way and I need to get ready for the days of coats, boots, gloves, and hats. I also need to make sure that my home is just as prepared. I’ve learned from past experience, I’ll be a lot more comfortable dealing with the dog days of winter if I get my autumn to-do list out of the way now. The following is a list of easy winterization tips.

Check the furnace.

In order to keep your furnace in optimal condition, it should be cleaned and tuned annually by a certified HVAC technician. During the winter you should check your filter monthly.

Insulate.

Make sure all cracks and leaks are sealed and that your attic has at least 12” of insulation on the floor. If you go into the attic and you can see the floor joists you know don’t have enough.

Wrap those pipes.

Be sure all out door plumbing is turned off and properly drained including the sprinkler system. Disconnect all hoses to prevent frozen hose bibs. Also insulate all plumbing that passes through unheated spaces.

Check all detectors.

Replace batteries in the smoke alarms and CO detectors. If you don’t have a CO detector install one.

Reverse the ceiling fans.

It sounds like a small tip but it will push the warm air downward and help keep you more comfortable.

Clean the chimney.

Also make sure the chimney cap is secure. If you don’t have a protective cap you might want to consider getting one with a mesh screen. To keep the cold air out the damper should be closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Learn more about HomeWarranty Plus.


Written by A.B. May.