Archive March 2015

Design Do’s and Dont’s

Before you start your next home renovation project, consider your space needs first. HGTV and DIY Network offer these tips for taking on room projects that will give your home a fresh look.

First, think long term. Since most homeowners are likely to stay in the home at least five years before they see real appreciation, avoid installing the hottest design trends of the moment for expensive items like flooring, bathroom tile and backsplashes. Instead, design with affordable and more disposable accessories such as pillows and throw rugs, which can be changed out easily and quickly.

Don’t purchase furniture before you move in to the home. Live in the space for a few months and get accurate measurements of each room before spending your hard-earned cash on oversized items that may not fit. The same holds true for selecting paint colors. A room’s natural lighting changes throughout the day, so paint colors that stand out during daylight hours may appear muted at dusk.

When it comes to your kitchen, focus on quality, not quantity. Not everyone can knock down a wall to install a kitchen island. Develop a good space plan that includes efficient storage for your dinnerware and small appliances.

Need a second opinion? Seek the advice of a novice home designer who can give you a fresh perspective at an affordable rate. Finally, make sure all decision-makers are on board with the project and budget. Otherwise, you’ll have to start all over.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – October, 2013

Drain Trust

Spring is prime time for house-cleaning and maintenance, which should include careful cleaning of gutters. Although they’re designed to act as a drain and protect your home, they often get clogged with leaves and water. Gutters should be cleaned twice a year. To get started, consider these steps from Lowes.

First, clean the downspout. Set a ladder on the side of the house where the gutter starts and where most leaves and twigs get trapped. With gloves and a towel, remove the debris and let it fall in a bucket. Move the ladder down the gutter and repeat the process.

Check all gutters for holes, leaks, dents, and other features that may need repairs. If your hangers are loose, tighten them or replace them if they seem damaged. Sagging gutters are an indication that the hangers are too loose.

After you’ve covered the perimeter and have removed most of the debris, use a garden hose to spray the gutter to rid any remaining debris.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – March, 2013

Curb View

Everybody knows that first impressions matter. The outside of your house says a lot to guests and potential buyers before they even walk in the door. There are easy ways to clean and freshen up the exterior of your home that don’t require gallons of paint or a landscaping crew. Consider these tips from DIY Network.

Start with the front door. If you’re willing to make a bold move, paint your door a bright color like canary yellow to help your house stand out (as long as the color is complementary to the trim, shutters and the rest of the house). Also, make sure lighting fixtures match the style of your house and are working properly. Another quick way to brighten up the front of the house: Put flower boxes or pots with colorful blooms on your porch railings or around your door.

Curb appeal is all about the details. Ask yourself: Is there sufficient outdoor lighting? Are overgrown plants and bushes creating an unsightly mess? Is your home address visible? You can revitalize your door by replacing the old hardware, installing tidy new address numbers or giving it a paint job. What’s more, as simple as it sounds, installing a new mailbox — near the road or mounted to your house — can go a long way to show off your home. The options and materials are endless, but like with any other updates, make sure the style fits your house.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – March, 2013

Pending Home Sales Signal Spring Boost to Housing Market

Pending home sales jumped in January, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Friday, a sign that the housing market could perk up in the early spring despite several mixed reports this week on the condition of the housing recovery.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward looking indicator that reflects signed contracts, climbed 1.7 percent in the month to 104.2. The Index was up 8.4 percent year over year in January.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said during a webcast that the indicator shows “good, positive signs” of future closing activity. He also noted that consumer traffic on realtor.com was up. An index that tracks the number of opened locked boxes at homes for sale has also been rising – a sign that foot traffic is up.

“Even with the snowy conditions in the many parts of the country, this is implying there is a pent-up demand wanting to come to the market, and it was a convincingly higher figure than one year ago,” Yun said.

NAR is forecasting 600,000 new home sales and 5.3 million existing home sales in 2015, with prices increasing by 4 to 5 percent.

“Broadly speaking, it will be a healthy housing recovery year,” Yun said.

This latest indicator, however, comes after several mixed reports this week.

NAR reported on Monday that existing home sales fell in January to a nine-month low. Total sales declined 4.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.82 million homes in January, from 5.07 million in December, the trade group said in a news release. Total sales are roughly 3 percent higher year-over-year, however. The inventory of new homes was estimated at 218,000, which represents a still-tight supply of about 5.4 months.

Yun said during the webcast on Friday that those sales numbers were “disappointing.” He was also concerned about tight inventories and prices, noting that home prices are rising more than twice as fast as incomes.

“We cannot have this mismatch of prices easily outpacing people’s income,” Yun said.

On Tuesday, David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones said the housing recovery was faltering. noting that new construction and sales of new homes “remain weak.”

Home prices were essentially flat in December. Year-over-year, however, prices were up more than 4 percent, according S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

ITS Integrity Title Solutions, March 3, 2015

Common Scents

There is a strong connection between smells and human emotions. Given that homebuying can be a very emotional process, you’ll want to make sure home looks and smells good to appeal to more buyers. Make sure your home passes the smell test by following these tips from HGTV.

If there are any foul odors in your home, don’t just cover them up by baking cookies — try to identify the source and focus on eliminating the odors. Old carpets are often the biggest culprit. If you don’t have the time or budget to replace old rugs with new carpet or hardwood floors, wash the carpet with mild detergent soap and water solution, then go over it with a damp towel to neutralize the odor. And open the windows on opposite walls to circulate fresh air.

After you’ve rid your home of bad scents or if you just want to fill it with more pleasant smells, consider boiling fruit peels, spices or herbs in water. Rather than throwing away lemon or orange peels, boil water and let the peels sit for a few minutes, adding water every half hour or so. You can also mix the peels with other soothing scents. Using oils such as sandalwood, lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus can be therapeutic and inviting.

CRS Your Home Newsletter – March, 2013