Entries in Fall (6)

Friday
Sep232016

6 Advantages to Selling Your Home In the Off-season

Selling your home in the off-season may be a better idea than you think: OpenHouse brings you 6 advantages to selling your home in the autumn.


Fall may not seem like the optimum time to sell your home, with a slower market, cooling weather, early sunset and more apparently working against you. But believe it or not, some of these factors may actually work in your favor, if you know how to take advantage of them. Here are 6 advantages to selling your home in the off-season.

1. Less competition

The market may be a little slower in the fall, but a smaller pool of homes for sale can actually mean a seller’s market: if you find a motivated buyer, there are fewer homes to choose from, and your property will be in higher demand. You may be in a better bargaining position than you think. It will be easier to schedule a showing, and appraisers and inspectors will be more flexible as well.

2. Realtors have more time for you

In the slower off-season, realtors may have more time to devote to you and your sale, giving you a better, more personalized experience. With more attention from your realtor, you have more chance of selling your home quickly, and more chance of getting asking price or better. A realtor with more time for legwork and paperwork means a better all-around experience for you, the seller.

3. Motivation

A buyer in the off-season probably has a strong reason for buying now, and is highly motivated. If they need to move quickly, you have the advantage when it comes to making a deal. A smaller, more motivated pool of buyers means fewer “tire-kickers” and more great prospects for a sale.

4. Staging

Colonial style New England Home - House Exterior

A little outdoor staging goes a long way in the autumn. If you have deciduous trees around your house, the colorful leaves can make a fantastic impression. Any outdoor improvements (paint touch-ups, decorations, lighting) will stand out immediately against the lawn and garden as they fade with the season. Fewer distractions means more chances for your home to make a great first impression.

5. Shorter days

Selling in the off-season: Suburban house with garden at dusk

Use lighting to your advantage. As the days get shorter, more of your showings will take place in the dark of the evening. Beautiful lighting can make for a comfortable, homey feel indoors, and judicious outdoor lighting can do amazing things for your curb appeal.

6. Cooler weather

Cooler weather can actually enhance the buyer’s experience when you’re showing your house. While the summer months are busier, the fall weather may be more comfortable for potential buyers – and a more comfortable buyer is a more agreeable buyer.

Bonus tip: Photos

Luxury house in autumn

Selling in the fall? Make sure to take up-to-date pics of your home. Use this to your advantage and bring some colorful fall foliage into the picture, or light your home beautifully to contrast with the subdued autumn hues.

Thursday
Nov192015

Getting Ready for Winter

Fall Maintenance Checklist

By: John Riha

You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.

 

Fall maintenance checklist

1. Stow the mower.


If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.

Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it. 

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole. 

2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

2. Don’t be a drip.

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. 

While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve. 

2. Shut off the automatic controller.

3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.

4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

4. Seal the deal.

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

5. De-gunk your gutters.

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement. 

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

6. Eyeball your roof.


If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. 

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar -- called a boot -- that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

7. Direct your drainage.

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

8. Get your furnace in tune.

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter. 

9. Prune plants.

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees -- when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

10. Give your fireplace a once-over.


To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.



Read more:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/fall-checklist/preview/#ixzz3rx9E9H00 
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

Thursday
Oct222015

Pumpkin Spice and All Things Nice

An Ode To All Things Pumpkin Spice

 
 

We look forward to fall for many reasons – football, changing leaves, Halloween and all things pumpkin spice. If you can’t get enough of pumpkin-inspired scents, tastes and colors, we’ve got some suggestions for creative ways to spice up your home all season long.

Indulge in something delicious. You can find pretty much any food or drink in pumpkin flavor from September well into the Holiday season. Coffee, beverages, Oreos, bagels, cookies, chocolate, cheesecake, yogurt and even butter, are just a few items you can buy in the season’s must buzzed about flavor. Choose one of these fall-friendly crock pot recipes to come home to after a long work day or enjoy with a group of friends at a tailgate party.

Fall-worthy scents. Pumpkin scented candles are lining the shelves so it won’t be hard to snag one for the home or office. If you’re looking for a more inventive way to keep your home smelling festive, create your own scent with a simmering stovetop potpourri. Try out this recipe:

Ingredients:
Cinnamon sticks
Apple peels
Orange rinds
Whole cloves

Directions:
Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the ingredients and continue to boil for a few minutes, then turn the heat down to simmer. Add water as needed, usually every 30 minutes or so.

Décor. If you’re more into carving or decorating your pumpkins than eating them, purchase a variety of sizes to display on your front porch and around your home. Pair your pumpkins with colorful mums, gourds, wreaths, and lanterns. Pumpkins can also make a great table-scape like this one!

Once your home is decked out and ready for the new season, grab your coziest throw, your favorite fall beverage and pop in your favorite flick. Enjoy!

Tuesday
Sep152015

6 Tips for Planning Ahead for an Eye-Popping Spring Bulb Garden

Contributed by Longfield Gardens

Fall is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and alliums. Before ordering your bulbs, here are a few tips to guarantee great results come spring.

1. Pick a color theme.

longfield1Interior designers often work with a color palette – a selection of colors chosen to give a room or a home a particular look, mood or style. This technique is equally effective in gardens and landscapes.

“One option is to choose a single color scheme,” says Marlene Thompson, creative director at Longfield Gardens. “The effect is simple and always has a big impact.”

Thompson says that you can also build your design around a pair of colors such as pink and white, red and yellow or orange and purple. Another approach is to use the color wheel and choose a harmony of several related colors, such as pink, lavender, burgundy and purple or cream, yellow, orange and red.

2. Include different bloom times.

From early-blooming crocuses to late-blooming tulips and alliums, the spring bulb season can stretch for as long as 8-10 weeks. When choosing your bulbs, be sure to include a few from each bloom time: early, midseason and late season. This way you’ll have flowers in bloom for as long as possible.

groups3. Plant in groups.

Fall planted bulbs look best when the plantings are generous and the bulbs are spaced just a few inches apart.

Small bulbs such as scilla or chionodoxa should be planted in groups of at least 25 bulbs. Tulips look best in groups of at least a dozen bulbs. Daffodils and alliums can be planted in threes, though groups of seven or nine bulbs look even better.

repeat4. Repeat shapes and colors.

Landscapes are more pleasing and cohesive when the same plant or grouping of plants appears in multiple locations.

“Our eyes connect these similar shapes or colors into one scene rather than a collection of separate elements,” says Thompson.

In a formal setting, plant in squares, rectangles or circles. For a more natural or informal look, use ovals, triangles, kidney shapes or a free-form shape that fits the location.

5. Plant both annual and perennial bulbs.

Many spring bulbs, including daffodils, scilla, chionodoxa, alliums and muscari, can be considered perennials, as they will return and bloom again every spring. In fact, most of these hardy bulbs will naturalize and multiply over time.

Tulips and hyacinths are often treated as annuals because they usually put on their best show the first spring after planting. In the right growing conditions (full sun, well- drained soil, hot dry summers), some tulips, such as Darwin hybrids, will re-bloom for several years. To ensure the most dramatic spring display, treat these bulbs as annuals and plant a fresh batch every fall.

6. Shop for large, high quality bulbs

When you are shopping for flower bulbs, pay attention to bulb size. Larger bulbs will produce bigger plants with more or larger flowers. Also remember that bulbs are perishable, so it’s important to purchase the freshest bulbs possible and store them in a cool, dry place until planting time.

Longfield Gardens is an importer of flower bulbs. For more information, visit the company’s website at longfield-gardens.com, or for more planting tips, visit Longfield Gardne’s blog at blog.longfield-gardens.com.

Thursday
Sep182014

Fall Maintenance Checklist

You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.

Fall checklist


1. Stow the mower.


If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.

Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it. 

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole. 

2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

2. Don’t be a drip.

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet. 

While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve. 

2. Shut off the automatic controller.

3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.

4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

4. Seal the deal.

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

5. De-gunk your gutters.

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

6. Eyeball your roof.


If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. 

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

7. Direct your drainage.

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

8. Get your furnace in tune.

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter. 

9. Prune plants.

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

10. Give your fireplace a once-over.


To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service. 

John_Riha John Riha

has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Follow John on Google+.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/seasonal-maintenance/fall-checklist/#ixzz3DhD00KtN 
Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook