• Home

6 Costs Homeowners Overlook and How to Pay for Them

For many people, a house is the biggest investment they’ll ever make. And whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’re buying your third property, you’re bound to end up covering some unexpected expenses. Here are six costs homeowners tend to overlook and how to pay for them:

1. Property taxes
Be prepared to pay property taxes and keep in mind that they rarely decrease. Homeowners often pay them every month along with their mortgage payments. If your loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration, you’re required to have an escrow or impound account.

If you don’t have to make property tax payments through an escrow account, they may be due at the end of the year. In some counties, you might pay them in installments.

2. Homeowners association fees

Whenever you move into a new home or condominium, you become part of a community. In many cases, there are fees associated with the maintenance and general upkeep of shared common areas. The money collected might cover snow removal, landscaping or repairs to a meeting room.

Monthly homeowners association (HOA) fees for standard single-family homes tend to cost between $200-$300, but rates can vary depending on several factors, including how recently a housing community was built and the kinds of amenities that are available. That’s why it’s best to know how much fees cost upfront. In West Hollywood, Calif., for example, residents in Sierra Towers condos get access to a 24-hour concierge service and valet parking, but spend around $4,000 per month on HOA fees.

3. Insurance premiums
If you own a home, another cost you should include in your budget is insurance. The average annual homeowners insurance premium costs $1,120, according to recent data provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but the amount you pay may be higher or lower based on where you live and the kind of policy you choose. Homeowners insurance typically covers personal possessions, liability for injuries that take place on your property, the structure of your house and additional costs associated with living elsewhere if your home is severely damaged. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you might need a supplemental policy like flood insurance.

4. Repair and maintenance costs
Repairing or replacing a roof, furnace or air conditioner can be expensive, and at some point, you might have to address plumbing issues or trade in some old appliances.
The cost of home maintenance is another thing you’ll have to factor into the cost of homeownership. You’ll need money to keep your yard, gutters, carpet and everything in between in tip-top shape.

Financial experts generally recommend setting aside 1 percent of your home’s value to cover the cost of unexpected repairs and maintenance. If you’re trying to save money, you’re better off doing some of the work yourself. Just make sure you have enough funds for the materials you need to get the job done.

5. Costs associated with selling a home
Having a home that’s well-maintained not only lets you enjoy your house while you’re living there, but also prevents you from being saddled with additional costs when you’re ready to sell it.

Replacing your roof or furnace might be something you want to put off, but failing to make necessary repairs or meet demands made by potential homebuyers could hurt your market value or cost you a sale.

6. Pest control costs
Pests are a real concern for many homeowners. Over time, all sorts of critters—like termites, ants, spiders and rodents—might invade your home. Depending on how serious the problem is, you might need to fumigate your house.

If you’re interested in buying a home, make sure you hire an inspector to check for bugs and termites that could cause structural damage. While lenders don’t always require homebuyers to pay for pest inspections, it’s important to have one done. You don’t want to close on a house only to find out later that there’s an issue. Termite inspections generally cost between $75-$150, according to Angie’s List.

Build a rainy-day fund!
It’s always better to be prepared for a storm than to be caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Despite the high costs, owning your own home can be a rewarding experience.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst by keeping enough money in your savings account to cover unforeseen costs. Make sure you account for all of the hidden expenses and fees associated with buying a home and budget accordingly.

This appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

Hippo is an InsureTech company that’s reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners. Hippo Insurance is available to homeowners in 10 states throughout the U.S. and will be available to more than 60 percent of the nation’s homeowners by the end of 2018.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

What to Check Before Your Home Inspection

If you’re listing your home, you may be getting ready to schedule a home inspection. However, there are a few things you should do before the inspector arrives.

“A bad home inspection can be devastating to your home’s value,” says Jerry Hall, owner of Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing, “so it’s imperative to take the necessary steps to prepare.”

Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing offers the following tips to prepare for a home inspection:

Check for and repair any leaks. According to the EPA, the average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water a year due to leaks. An easy way to test for a leak is to plan a two-hour period when no water will be used and then examine the water meter at the beginning and end of the period. If it changed, the presence of a leak is likely. All faucets, indoor and outdoor, should be tested for proper water pressure, and crawlspaces and basements should be inspected for signs of water. Leaks can lead to property damage such as sagging floors and encourage the growth of mold, leading to poor and unhealthy indoor air quality.

Assess the condition of the water heater. A water heater should deliver hot water efficiently. One major issue to look for that can reduce efficiency is the presence of corrosion or scale on the heating element. Their presence can severely impact the effectiveness of the heating element, and severe corrosion may necessitate replacement. Opting to fully replace an aging unit, especially one 8-12 years of age, with a newer, more efficient model can add value to the home.

Schedule tune-ups for both the air conditioner and furnace. Both the heating and cooling systems in the home need to be serviced prior to a home inspection, and if they haven’t been serviced on an annual basis, there is even a good chance that any existing manufacturer’s warranties have been rendered void. Professional tune-ups typically involve cleaning the systems, changing filters, lubricating mechanical parts and checking safety points such as flues.

Source: Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing

Published with permission from RISMedia.

DIY deck re-do: Resurface in a weekend

(BPT) – Outdoor living season means backyard BBQs, yard games and relaxing with a good book or good friends. If you own a wood deck, however, it also means considerable time and money spent on seasonal maintenance and deck repairs.

While wood decks are aesthetically pleasing, properly maintaining them requires regular stripping, sanding and staining. The process is labor-intensive, time-consuming, messy and costly – averaging between $540 and $1,050 each time, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

Consider this: For the same time and energy you would spend maintaining and repairing those old wood boards, you could replace them with a deck made of structurally superior composite material – and never again have to worry about upkeep. As long as the structural framework of your existing deck is intact and in good condition, you are a candidate for deck resurfacing.

‘Resurfacing an aging or decaying wood deck with new composite decking is a doable DIY project that can be completed over the course of a weekend or two with just a little know-how and the help of a few friends,’ explains Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex Company. ‘You get a brand-new deck for a lot less money than starting from scratch – and a lot less hassle through the years.’

Designed for maximum durability and minimal maintenance, wood-alternative decking is resistant to fading, staining, scratching and mold and, unlike wood, requires no sanding, staining or sealing. Just an occasional soap-and-water cleaning is all that is needed to retain a ‘like-new’ appearance and durability for decades.

Ready to resurface?

Follow these simple steps to a new deck surface that you can spend less time maintaining and more time enjoying:

Step 1: Examine the substructure

Before removing any boards, check your deck’s foundation. Start from the ground up by examining the footings, posts and joists. Pay close attention to the condition of the wood. Soft wood indicates rot and should be replaced before proceeding. If the existing framing and substructure are sound, you’re good to go.

Tip: To help ensure your substructure lasts as long as your new composite deck boards, use a protective tape, such as TrexProtect, to shield wooden joists and beams from moisture that can lead to rot and the loosening of deck screws and fasteners.

Step 2: Remove old deck boards

Remove any existing railing and begin prying up the nailed decking boards, leaving the substructure and framing in place. Start from the outside and move toward the house so you have a solid, safe platform from which to work.

Step 3: Level it out

To ensure a level surface for the new deck boards, make sure the joists are flat and even with one another. If any joists are bowed, you may need to plane or cut them.

Step 4: Install new deck boards

Begin laying out the new composite boards. Starting near the house, face screw the first board to the frame. Closely follow the instructions for spacing from the manufacturer’s installation guide. As you progress, check the spacing between the house and the deck boards to make sure they stay parallel with the house. Correct variations a little at a time over several rows to avoid large, tapered gaps.

Step 5: Complete with railing

Measure for each post location, and cut placement holes with a jigsaw. Then, drop the posts into the holes and bolt them securely. Slide sleeves over the posts and assemble railing and balusters per the installation guide. Finish off by adding your choice of decorative elements, such as post caps and top rail caps.

For more guidance on deck resurfacing, watch a step-by-step video from Trex at https://youtu.be/ZI8CYwI0MYM.

Categories: BPT

Speed Clean Your Space in 15 Minutes

We’ve all been there: That afternoon you planned to spend cleaning got eaten up with other commitments, and now your dinner guests are on their way, but the house is a mess. Whatever the reason, here are 7 ways to fake that clean home, fast.

All hands on deck. If you’re lucky enough to have family members or roommates around, ask them to pitch in. Divvy up rooms to declutter and tidy. If you don’t have any helping hands, you’ll just have to continue to the next steps, solo.

Focus on trafficked areas. Since time is short, make sure to focus on rooms your guests will frequent, like the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The entryway is also important, as it’s the first thing your guests will see, so hang the jackets, straighten those shoes and stash that mail stack.

Freshen air. As you begin to clean, throw open the windows to let fresh air in. Too cold for open windows? Light a mildly scented candle or spray odor neutralizer.

Declutter. Step one is to run through your high traffic areas and remove clutter. Piles of mail, shoes on the floor, blankets unfolded, and errant clothes all need to be stashed. If you don’t have time to put things where they belong, do a tornado sweep with a laundry basket, nabbing all out-of-place items to rehome when you have more time. Simply stash your full basket in a hidden area, like a closet or laundry room.

Tidy. Now that the clutter is gone, tidy tables and counters to make your space look open and kempt. Stack those magazines in an orderly pile, arrange the remotes, put away those drying dishes, and take out the trash.

Wipe down. Head to the kitchen and bathroom with a rag and disinfectant and wipe down counters, mirrors and toilets that your guests might encounter.

Vacuum. Now that your surfaces are fully clean, run a vacuum over the floors (and furniture!) to pick up pet hair and dirt. Nothing says “clean home” like vacuum lines on the carpet, so fake it until you make it.

By Zoe Eisenberg

 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Safety Tips for Your Electrical System

The safety of our home’s electric system is often something we take for granted. From hitting a switch to illuminate your space, to plugging in and charging your devices, we rarely consider the currents coursing through our walls. However, to keep your family safe and your home secure, it’s important to consider your electrical system, and whether or not your system is safe.

 

Get to know your electrical system better – First and foremost, spend some time becoming more familiar with the home’s electric system. Learn what runs on each circuit, and get to know the limits for each. Overloads can be dangerous, and electrical fires from overloads can do a lot of damage in a little amount of time.

Don’t overdo it with extension cords – Extension cords are great for reaching a little further with items like electric blowers or work lights, but it’s important to remember to use them safely. Don’t daisy chain multiple cords together, and don’t use them for items that will pull more power than the extension cords are designed to handle. They can overheat, short and even be the cause of a house fire.

Practice extra care around swimming pools and hot tubs – Swimming pools can make the spring and summer heat bearable, but homeowners should exercise caution when using electricity in their vicinity. One electric grill or sound system tumbling into the water can be fatal to any present occupants. Keep a good amount of space between the pool and items like these, and make sure to dry off before using them. If there is concern about the proximity of any power lines, contact a professional for advice.

Operate backup generators responsibly – When a spring storm knocks out the power, a backup generator can save a lot of money, time and heartache by keeping important appliances like refrigerators and hot water heaters running. However, they can quickly become dangerous if used carelessly. Make sure not to overload them by attempting to power more than they are rated for, as this can cause shorts and electric fires. Also, take care not to operate them near windows or inside a garage as they can introduce poisonous carbon monoxide to your living spaces.

“Always remember that too much confidence can be dangerous when it comes to electricity,” says Tommy Webber, owner of T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning . “As electrical professionals, even we practice caution at all times. We encourage homeowners to follow these tips for safety, and always contact a professional when electrical problems or concerns arise.”

Source: www.twebber.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Sprinkler Tune-Up Tips

Dragging the sprinkler out of the garage for the spring and summer? Before you begin your first water, consider the following sprinkler tune-up tips from Rain Bird.

Make sure spring has sprung. Although all signs might be pointing to the arrival of spring, the soil beneath the landscape is always the last to thaw, especially in colder climates. Starting the sprinkler system while the ground is still frozen can result in damage to the pipes. Use a shovel to make sure that the soil is frost-free 12 inches deep. If it is still frozen, wait another week and test it again before starting the sprinkler system. (Before digging, make sure there aren’t any utility lines to hit!)

Take control. Run a check of the irrigation controls and programs. This includes dusting away the cobwebs on the timer, making sure the date and time are correct, and that the settings are appropriate for your landscape’s watering needs and meet local watering regulations. Replace the back-up battery in the timer/controller annually and keep a copy of the watering schedule in a handy location.

Check for blockages. Check for rocks, dirt, sand and other types of debris that may block the even flow of water from the sprinkler heads. Uneven distribution can lead to too much water in some areas and not enough in others, resulting in an unhealthy landscape and wasted water. Inspect spray heads and make sure they haven’t become buried. Clear any debris that may have accumulated around them during the winter.

Inspect for broken or worn components. Nozzles and sprinkler heads are designed to withstand normal wear and tear of irrigation, but are no match for errant lawn mowers, the neighbor’s dog or snowplows. Replace cracked, chipped or worn components, such as sprinkler heads, nozzles, valves or pipes. A broken sprinkler can wreak havoc on lawns, gardens and water bills, so it is important to check and replace them periodically.

Examine the valves. Valves are the heart of any irrigation system; they regulate the distribution of water throughout the entire system. A leaky valve will waste water and increase water bills. Visually inspect each valve to make sure they are operating properly. Before turning on any water to the system, make sure all manual drain valves are returned to the closed position. Be aware that overly wet areas in the lawn, resulting in muddy and/or barren patches, may be a result of a leaky valve.

Restore water pressure slowly and pressure-check the system. When restoring water to the sprinkler system, open the main water valve slowly to allow pipes to fill with water in a gradual and controlled manner, thus preventing pressure surge and costly damage. It’s a good idea to get a pressure gauge that attaches to a hose faucet to make sure the pressure is at a safe operating range for sprinkler systems—typically between 40-65 PSI. A system with too much pressure will result in cracked pipes, busted valves, sprinkler head leaks and inefficient watering. If your water pressure is too high, consider adding a pressure regulator.

Time for an upgrade? Spring is also a good opportunity to consider upgrading your system to take advantage of improvements in sprinkler and controller technology. Pressure-regulated and water-efficient sprinkler options can reduce overall irrigation water use. These upgrades can save money on water usage and possibly qualify for a rebate from the government.

By following these seven simple steps, homeowners can have more than luck on their side to avoid some of the more common—and expensive—problems with automatic sprinkler systems.

Source: www.rainbird.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Home improvements to help your home sell faster and for more money

(BPT) – The real estate market is heating up, and if you’re planning to sell your home in the future, you want it to sell quickly and for as high of a price as possible. By taking proactive action now, you can make a few strategic home improvements that can help you achieve both your goals.

To boost your home sale and reduce time on the market, consider these top home improvement ideas to catch buyers’ eyes.

Garage door: When potential buyers visit your property, you want to make the best first impression before they even come inside. That’s why it’s wise to replace your garage door. It takes up a significant amount of exterior visual real estate and helps define the home’s aesthetic. What’s more, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report, a garage door replacement recoups an astonishing 98.3 percent of cost upon resale.

Bathroom addition: More bathrooms typically mean you can charge more for your home.

Kitchen upgrade: A complete kitchen remodel is costly, but a few smart upgrades can make the heart of the home shine. Consider replacing worn laminate countertops and updating hardware for a fresh look. For extra ‘wow factor,’ add an island .

Fresh flooring: You don’t have to replace all your flooring, but focal areas like the kitchen or family room, as well as areas that tend to experience higher wear, such as the entryway, can benefit from a new floor. Forget expensive tile or hardwood replacements. Vinyl wood flooring looks incredibly similar to real wood, and modern luxury vinyl tile mimics the gorgeous look of stone or ceramic tile but is more durable and affordable. You may be able to simply add new flooring on top of old, making it a much easier DIY project.

Neutral paint: Don’t ever underestimate the value of a fresh coat of paint throughout your home. Walls get dingy and colors get dated. Repaint rooms with modern, neutral tones. As much as you love plum, buyers may not, so stick with whites, creams and grays whenever possible. Visit your local paint store and you’ll see there are many neutral options to add excitement to interior spaces. Don’t forget the ceiling, too! A fresh coat of white can do wonders.

These five projects will enhance your listing so you get more attention and book more showings. You may even start a bidding war with enough interest, and that can really drive up the price. Take action now and these home improvement efforts are sure to make an impact.

Categories: BPT

3 Kitchen and Bath Trends for 2018

(Family Features)–When it’s time for a home remodel, specifically of a bathroom or kitchen, many homeowners turn to trendy looks as inspiration. Color, texture and material variance, like using different types of tile, lead the way in this year’s kitchen and bath trends.

To help amplify the look and appeal of your space, consider these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry:

Try Different Shades
White is classic, crisp and always in style, while gray also provides a traditional look. Many designers pair white or gray cabinets, tile and wall color with a pop of color to add interest without overwhelming the space. There are many ways to introduce color, such as a bright island or items that are easily switched out like window treatments and artwork.

Combining different shades of white, gray and other neutral colors like beige is an effective way to create a warm and inviting space. One important note to consider when mixing these hues is that they need to be in the same color family. When incorporating white and gray, go for colors that have the same base – either yellow or blue. Mixing a yellow-gray with a blue-white can result in discord that may not “feel” right. A qualified remodeler who has experience in design can provide expert advice and guide the decision-making process to help avoid costly mistakes.

Consider Various Tile Types
Another popular treatment in kitchens and bathrooms is to use different types of tile and surface stone. Incorporating tile of different shapes and texture such as quartz, marble or granite can energize even the smallest space.

Scale provides another way to create interest. To achieve a mosaic feel, look for 1-by-1-foot tiles prepped on larger 12-by-12-foot sheets. Sometimes these sheets include a predefined pattern that can help simplify installation.

Pick Alternate Patterns
Tile options are available in many varieties, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Subway tile, a classic standby, can be invigorated by arranging the rectangular 3-by-6-inch shapes in patterns like herringbone or basket weave. This versatile tile can be used in both traditional kitchens and bathrooms as well as transitional or more contemporary spaces.

Many manufacturers now include textured tile, featuring patterns that carry the look of wood grain; tiles are also available in three-dimensional textures adding movement and interest with easy care. For example, using a variety of gray hues can create a relaxing and warm environment.

Source: National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Published with permission from RISMedia.

5 musts for a low-stress, on-budget DIY home project

(BPT) – Owning your own home is a life accomplishment for many adults, and keeping it looking sharp and adding your personal touches brings a sense of pride. It seems there are always things you want to improve, so don’t let a limited budget or lack of know-how hold you back from dreaming. There are plenty of ways to enhance a room or remake a space without breaking the bank, along with many resources out there to show you how.

With a little research and a weekend or two of elbow grease, your budget and your abilities are more than enough to take on many smaller jobs. When you’re done, the satisfaction you’ll experience from a successful DIY project will give you plenty of motivation to start the next improvement.

Before you launch your plans, here are a few tips for an affordable and stress-free DIY project.

1. Map it out

Prioritize the projects you’d like to tackle first. Whether it’s painting the living room, replacing the kitchen countertops or retiling the bathroom, the project will be much less stressful when you have solid planning behind it. Set a realistic schedule, gather your supplies in advance and be sure and review instructions before starting. If you’re making an improvement for a special event or out-of-town guests, give yourself ample time to complete it so you’re not adding stress to the project.

2. Find creative ways to cover costs

Make a budget for your project that includes a list of expected expenses and add padding for the unexpected. Assess what funds you have available, and if you don’t have enough, consider a savings plan so you can avoid paying interest and fees on a credit card. To speed up your progress, grab your change jar and bring it to a Coinstar kiosk where you can select cash or a no-fee eGift card from retailers including Amazon.com, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Sears. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a jar of coins can add up to purchase needed supplies on your list.

3. Learn through many available resources

If you’re like most DIYers, you’ll find online videos and home improvement websites are great sources for how-to tips and information. And if you’re a novice, take advantage of the vast information that’s available at your fingertips and review several sources so that you completely understand the process and are confident before your dive in. Don’t be afraid to tap friends, family members and neighbors who have completed similar projects, as they can be good advisers and may even offer to help! You can reward them by inviting them back to your newly improved home to just relax and enjoy.

4. Keep it light

Doing DIY projects with a spouse or a family member can be fun if you take the right approach. When working alongside each other, it’s all too easy to take a frustration out on each other. Two-thirds of those surveyed in a recent Coinstar survey said they do projects with others in their household, and 65 percent said they got into a disagreement during a home DIY project. Minimize tension by creating clear expectations and give everyone a defined role. Take needed breaks and acknowledge accomplishments along the way. Keeping things calm and positive ensures everyone feels good about their contribution.

5. Permission to make mistakes

Most homeowners are not professional contractors and projects can and do go wrong. If you make a mistake, do your best to correct it and don’t beat yourself up. Focus on the fact you’re making progress in getting your house just the way you want it and saving money by doing it yourself. Next time, you will be that much more proficient! According to the survey, 90 percent of homeowners say they feel a sense of pride after completing a DIY project. Pat yourself on the back and plan your next DIY endeavor!

To learn more about how Coinstar can help you find the cash you need for your next DIY project, visit coinstar.com.

Categories: BPT

Our Offices

Elmhurst Office

76-26 Broadway

Elmhurst, NY 11373

718.446.1300

Wantagh Office

1897 Wantagh Avenue

Wantagh, NY 11793

516.826.4600

East Meadow Office

1856 Hempstead Tpke

East Meadow, NY 11554

516.796.8900

Fresh Meadows Office

188-13 Union Turnpike

Fresh Meadows, NY 11366

718.206.1340

Syosset Office

40 Underhill Blvd.

Syosset, NY 11791

516.826.2100

Lynbrook Office

129 Broadway

Lynbrook, NY 11563

516.881.7700

Oceanside Office

2911 Long Beach Road

Oceanside, NY 11572

516.223.2525

Long Beach Office

28 E Park Ave

Long Beach, NY 11561

516.665.2000

Levittown Office

2694 Hempstead Tpke

Levittown, NY 11756

516.735.9500

Merrick Office

55 Merrick Avenue

Merrick, NY 11566

516.302.8500

Farmingdale Office

392 Conklin Street

Farmingdale, NY 11735

516.293.2323

Franklin Square Office

1069 Hempstead Turnpike

Franklin Square, NY 11010

516.825.6511

Westbury Office

838 Old Country Road

Westbury, NY 11590

516.334.4333

The CENTURY 21 American Homes App

Download the CENTURY 21 American Homes app to take your search on the go and access your saved homes and searches from anywhere. Try it for free and get notifications directly on your phone about new homes on the market!