Andrea Kenney - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Metropolitan



Posted by Andrea Kenney on 8/10/2020


 


Every winter, your home faces harsh weather, and it may benefit you to examine your home during the warmer months for any areas that may need maintenance to avoid excessive and costly repairs to your home during or after the winter. Here are few things to check before the snow starts to fall.

1. The Roof: Excess snowfall on the roof during winter adds weight to the structure, which is why it's imperative to check its integrity often. Thoroughly examine it for leaks and erosion. Check the soffits and eaves for damage. Look on the ground for loose shingles. If you see any, have the roof inspected by a qualified roofer and schedule repairs as soon as possible. Correcting potential issues early could prevent any catastrophic emergencies later on.

2. The Garden: It is a known fact that the winter is unfavorable for most flowering plants. Check your garden for any plants that may need to be pruned or given any special attention before the cold months hit. Remove dead trees; add hardy hybrids and be sure to give your garden enough attention to watch it flourish even through the winter months.

3. The Garage: Even though your garage is well-secured and covered, you'll still want to maintain its upkeep during the winter. Your cars may bring in snow, mud, deicer, sand and debris. Be sure to keep the floors cleaned and check the walls and corners for any place that may house rodents or other pests.

4. The Pipes: Your water pipes are another essential thing to check after winter. During winter, pipes are prone to freezing and can split, crack, or burst, which becomes a hard problem to fix. Ensure they are in good condition before winter and recheck them after the season to fix any issues as soon as possible.

5. Chimney: Take a cursory look at your chimney after winter. There's a good chance it may have been damaged during the season. Ice can be very destructive, especially to your chimney's mortar and flashing where the chimney joins the roof, and may cause problems in the long run. Check your fireplace to ensure proper ventilation and cleanliness to avoid fire and smoke damage. Make sure to clean the creosote from the fireplace after seasonal use to promote your fireplace's longevity and maintain safety standards.

6. Garden Shed: For people that have a separate building for their garden tools, it is vital that you check this place after winter. Ensure that the ice and excessive wind haven't caused damage, and just as you did for your primary home, check the roof, eaves and flashing for damage.


Check all these places after each winter season and before the summer heat drives it from the forefront of your mind. You may want to dedicate at least one day to checking your home for early signs of damage or for areas that may need to be updated and reinforced. Your Realtor® may have a few other suggestions for maintaining your home or preparing for any regional hardships that may arise during the winter.




Tags: Maintenance   cleaning   Home Care  
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Posted by Andrea Kenney on 8/3/2020

Moving is stressful at the best of times. But when you’re moving across the country rather than across town, it adds to the number of preparations you’ll need to make.

In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to best prepare for your long-distance move, whether it’s across the state, across the country, or to another country altogether.

Packing and moving

One of the biggest concerns you’ll have during a long distance move is the condition of your belongings.

If you’re using a moving company, you’ll want to make sure you trust them to handle your belongings with care. To ensure that they’re responsible movers, read over their reviews online. It’s also a good idea to review their contracts and to make sure you have enough insurance to cover any costly damages or losses. Speaking of moving companies, be sure to shop around to find out which one offers the best prices and delivery windows.

When it comes to packing your items, air on the side of caution and start boxing items well in advance of your move. Not only is it a good idea to label your boxes by room, but you should put your name and contact information on your boxes if they’re being shipped by a large moving company.

Remember that not everything needs to be in boxes. Soft items like clothing and towels can easily be packed in trash bags, suitcases, and duffel bags. You’ll be able to squeeze in more items and they’ll take up less space in the moving truck.

When filling the moving truck, be sure your fragile items aren’t the top box on a stack of boxes. Similarly, you don’t want fragile belongings underneath too many heavy boxes. Your movers likely have their own way of securing boxes, so be sure to indicate to them which boxes are the most fragile with labels.

Downsize your belongings

The month leading up to your move is a good time to sell or donate items you no longer use. It could save you space on the moving truck, and you could earn a few extra dollars before your big move.

Larger items should be your top priority. Bicycles, lawnmowers, and other big items that you’ve been thinking of replacing can be sold now and you can buy new ones at your future home. However, don’t discount the weight and size of things like DVD and book collections. Many people lug around bookcases from house to house and hardly ever touch the books on them. Furthermore, technology like Kindle and Netflix are making owning physical copies of your media less of a necessity.

Before you start packing the rest of your items into moving boxes, make sure you set aside a “survival kit” filled with your daily use items. Things like cell phone chargers, glasses and contacts, and sanitary items should be in your vehicle or carry on, not in the moving truck.

Saving money

Moving is expensive, but there are a number of ways you can squeeze some savings out of the experience. First, take advantage of free boxes from local stores and restaurants. Then, ask for friends and family to help you pack rather than hiring professionals, offer them lunch in exchange for their help.

When it comes to getting to your new home, don’t rule out flying as being the most expensive option. Hotels, gas, and eating out add up quickly if you’re making a road trip out of your move.

Finally, see if your move is tax-deductible. If you’re relocating for work, there’s a chance some of your moving expenses will be. If so, be sure to keep all of your receipts along the way.




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Posted by Andrea Kenney on 7/27/2020

If you’re a newer homeowner, odds are you don’t really “own” your home outright. Rather, you likely have equity in your home.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what home equity is, how to use it to your advantage, and things you should avoid using your home equity toward.

 What is home equity?

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who paid for their homes in cash, you probably took out a mortgage. As you pay off that mortgage you build equity.

Home equity is essentially the value of a property that a homeowner has at their disposal due to paying back part or all of their mortgage.

However, there’s another factor at play in home equity, and that’s market value.

Since the housing market fluctuates, the value of your home does as well, and as a result, your home equity changes with the market value of a house. That might sound worrying, but the good news is that due to something called appreciation.

In the same way that the cost of living tends to rise each year with inflation, so do housing prices. However, appreciation isn’t the only factor at play in the valuation of your house. As your home ages, it will likely need some renovations, which could decrease the home value.

Generally speaking, however, your equity achieves a net gain as you pay your mortgage and the value appreciates.

Increasing equity

Now that we know why equity can be so beneficial as an asset, let’s talk about ways to build it.

The best way to build home equity is to repay your home loan. However, more than simply repaying, you’ll want to repay in the fewest number of years to avoid paying more in interest. The longer you take to pay your mortgage, the more interest accrues that could have been used toward other investments.

The second way to increase equity is one we mentioned before--market fluctuation--namely appreciation. To improve the chances of getting a high appraisal of your home, it’s important to keep up with maintenance and make smart renovation choices that will have a high return on investment.

Using home equity

The best use of home equity is to leave it be and increase its value over time. However, that isn’t always possible for all of us. Since many of us need to move before repaying our full mortgage, equity allows homebuyers to use their equity toward their next mortgage.

Another option is to take out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. Ideally, you’ll only use these loans if you’re planning on using the loan money to increase the value of the home via home improvement projects.

Borrowing against your home equity does come with risks. Since you are putting your share of your home on the line, there is a chance of your home being foreclosed on if you don’t repay the home equity loan. However, lenders typically seek other methods of repayment or settlement before foreclosure.





Posted by Andrea Kenney on 7/20/2020

Looking to buy a house in the near future? If your answer is "Yes," you may want to start reviewing housing market data. That way, you can gain the insights that you need to make data-driven decisions throughout the homebuying journey.

Ultimately, there are many housing market data that you'll want to assess as you prepare to buy a house, such as:

1. Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates fluctuate constantly. As such, if mortgage interest rates are low, you may want to move quickly to capitalize on them.

Meeting with banks and credit unions generally is a great idea if you plan to buy a house. These financial institutions can keep you up to date about mortgage interest rates and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, once you have a mortgage in hand, you'll be ready to pursue your dream house.

2. Average Amount of Time That a House Stays on the Real Estate Market

Differentiating between a buyer's market and a seller's market often can be difficult. Fortunately, if you examine the average amount of time that houses are listed in your city or town, you may be able to determine whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market.

In a buyer's market, houses may be listed for many weeks or months before they sell. Also, these houses may be sold below their initial asking prices.

Comparatively, in a seller's market, homes may be available for only days before they sell. Homes that are available in a seller's market may be sold at or above their initial asking prices as well.

3. Prices of Houses in Various Cities and Towns

If you're open to living in a variety of cities or towns, you'll want to evaluate the prices of houses in many areas. That way, you can narrow your house search accordingly.

Oftentimes, homes in big cities are more expensive than those in small towns. On the other hand, big cities may provide quick, easy access to a broad range of attractions and landmarks that you simply won't find in small towns.

If you are ready to check out housing market data and begin a home search, it pays to hire a real estate agent too. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble enjoying a quick, seamless homebuying experience.

A real estate agent is happy to provide you with a wealth of housing market data. Plus, a real estate agent will teach you the ins and outs of buying a house. He or she also will keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to ensure you can acquire a terrific house at a fair price.

When it comes to buying a house, it helps to be informed. If you assess the aforementioned data, you can obtain comprehensive real estate market insights to help you throughout the homebuying journey.




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Posted by Andrea Kenney on 7/13/2020

Being in the market for a new home can be both an exciting experience and a scary one! It not only represents a huge financial commitment, but it also forces you to step out of your "comfort zone."

That's especially true if you're a first-time home buyer. When you make the switch from being a renter to a home owner, you no longer have the "luxury" of depending on your landlord for repairs, yard maintenance, or help with plumbing emergencies. Now, when the AC quits or the furnace conks out, the responsibility (and cost) of getting it fixed rests squarely on your shoulders!

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the possibility of incurring major expenses during the first couple years of owning a home. While there are (usually) no guarantees that household mechanical systems won't fail or that other crises won't befall you as a new homeowner, there are choices you can make that will reduce the chances of being saddled with unexpected expenses.

Buying a home with a newer roof, energy-efficient appliances, updated HVAC system, and a dry basement are four ways you can sidestep many predictable problems down the road. Wear and tear will eventually take its toll on everything from hot water heaters to microwave ovens, but if you can postpone having to replace appliances, roofs, and climate-control systems for several years or more, it will be a lot easier on you and your budget!

So all things being equal, home ownership will be more pleasurable and affordable if you choose a home with recent upgrades, replacements, and improvements -- preferably, those done within the past five or ten years. Besides comparing the maintenance history of houses you're considering, there's also the essential step of hiring an experienced structural inspector. When you've narrowed down your house-buying possibilities to one preferred home, a property inspector can help you identify "red flags" and potential problems before you close on that house.

As your real estate agent will probably tell you, if any major problems are identified in the home inspection process, you may be in a position to renegotiate the agreement or withdraw your offer, entirely. Since legalities are often complex and every real estate transaction is different, however, it's always essential to consult with an experienced real estate attorney whenever questions, problems, or complications arise in a real estate purchase or sale.

While it's a good idea to "expect the unexpected" when purchasing and moving into a new home, it pays to work with a team of trusted advisors. Working with a seasoned real estate agent, a knowledgeable real estate attorney, and a reputable property inspector will help make sure that your experience is both satisfying and relatively problem free! Knowing what you want and being adamant about what matters most to you should also serve you well in the house buying process.







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