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4 Not so Obvious Fall Gardening Tasks

You might be spending your weekend raking and bagging leaves, maybe planting some spring bulbs, too. But there are actually a wide variety of important – and time- and money-saving – gardening tasks you could be embarking on this seasons as well. Check out the following ideas before you roll up your sleeves and head out into the yard:

Put down mulch. The fall is a great time to spread a layer of mulch as many plants get ready to go dormant and hibernate for the winter. This will make the job easier as you won’t have to worry about damaging young plants as you’re spreading mulch around. Also use this time to dig out new beds you’re planning to plant in the spring and cover those with mulch as well.

Collect seeds. Save some money on next year’s annuals’ bill by collecting seeds to start inside over the winter and plant in the spring. Look for seeds from sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos and any other fall plants still blooming in your yard. Same goes for your fall vegetable harvest.

Divide plants. Fall is a great time to thin flower beds, especially native plants. Using a shovel, separate about one-third of a plant and house them in pots over the winter, keeping them well watered and fertilized. They make a great gift for neighbors and friends, too!

Prepare for the birds. If you take care of the birds during the winter, fall is a great time to stock up on and organize your bird seed, before snow and ice make the task more difficult. Clean and inspect your bird feeders and hang them in easy to access spots that also allow you to easily view your feathered friends.

Source: The State Journal

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

10 Ways to Save Money on a Home Renovation

Are you in the process of renovating your home? Often, major upgrades can get quite expensive if you aren't paying attention, so if you're on a tight budget, consider focusing on saving money while renovating.
 
For example, if you plan to upgrade your kitchen, it may be better to purchase low-cost materials and cabinets. You can find quality affordable kitchen cabinets online for a fraction of what you'd pay in most traditional retail stores.
 
Here are 10 powerful ways to save money during a home renovation:
 

1. Set a Budget and Stick to It
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when renovating their property is failing to set a budget. By not having one in place before you begin work, you'll often end up spending more than you originally intended. Be sure to take time to figure out how much you can afford and create a budget for your renovation project.
 
2. Make Every Effort to Save on Material Costs
Another area where homeowners get in trouble is that they spend way too much on material costs. For example, you can buy recycled or reused building materials, which will help cut down on your costs. Even better, some of these reused materials are in excellent condition, so you'll get a good bargain on more high-end items. 
 
You can also check Craigslist, eBay or Freecycle to find free or cheap materials online. Many people are often literally giving this stuff away on these sites, so take advantage while you can.
 
3. Find Good Deals on Essential Pieces
No one said you had to pay top dollar for the most essential pieces for your home renovation. Instead of spending a small fortune for new granite countertops, you can wait a little while for the materials to go on sale. The same holds true with kitchen island installations, brand-new windows and just about anything else that needs replacing during the home renovation process.
 
4. Pay Cash for Materials and Contractor Expenses
This tried-and-true idea works wonders when attempting to cut down on renovation expenses. You'll be able to save a significant amount by offering to pay cash for your materials and contractor fees for a couple of reasons. First, by paying cash instead of using credit, you can avoid the possibility of paying hefty interest charges. Second, sometimes contractors will give their customers a price break when you offer to pay cash for their services.
 
5. Don't Rush the Renovation Process
Sometimes people are eager to finish their home renovations. This can turn out to be a major mistake if you aren't patient. Instead of using your credit to pay for your expenses, wait and save up. Additionally, you might end up spending top dollar for materials or contractor fees when you could've paid much less if you were willing to wait a little while longer.
 
6. Perform DIY Renovations When You Possess the Skills to Get the Job Done

Some repairs and renovations are going to be out of your league. However, many folks will have no problem handling some DIY projects on their own. Instead of paying somebody to complete easy to moderate repairs or demolition, you can take the bull by the horns and perform these activities yourself.
 
7. Reuse Materials Whenever Possible
Instead of letting certain materials go to waste, feel free to reuse them whenever you can get away with it. This is a great way to save money without going over your budget or breaking the bank. For example, you may be able to reuse some of your cabinetry and appliances without replacing them.
 
8. Avoid Making Big Purchases Until the Items Go on Sale
If you're renovating your kitchen and putting in brand-new appliances, you should always wait for them to go on sale. Of course, this only works if you aren't under any time constraints, but instead of buying an appliance on a typical Wednesday, you could wait until a big Fourth of July sale is happening. You'll save a lot of money this way, so take advantage of these excellent opportunities.
 
9. Shop Around When Hiring Help for Home Renovations
You obviously want your home renovations to look amazing; however, that doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar for the most expensive contractors in your area. You can shop around and get multiple bids from as many contractors as you see fit. This will help you find a top-notch and inexpensive contractor that meets your needs.
 
10. Sell Any Working Appliances That You Intend to Replace
Do you own a refrigerator that's in good working order? How about a well-used stove that's still in good condition? Instead of throwing these valuable items away when you replace them, you could list them on Craigslist, eBay or the Facebook Marketplace. You never know what someone may want to purchase. Selling your old, but working, appliances could help you recoup some of your renovation expenses and lower your costs at the same time.
 
It's possible to save money on your upcoming renovation. You just have to be willing to do things a little bit differently than most people. Take advantage of sales when the opportunities arise, hire good but inexpensive contractors to help with the renovations and use the rest of these tips to the best of your ability in your pursuit of saving money!
 
This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.
 
Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses like best online cabinets find their audience online through outreach, partnerships and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

Selling? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Overprice Your Home

From the way the tulips bloom in spring to the snazzy new wet bar in the basement, you’re well aware of all the reasons why your home is worth every penny you’re asking for it. Unfortunately, the market may feel differently.

No matter how many unique characteristics contribute to the value of your home in your estimation, ultimately, local market statistics, such as comparable market values, still play the largest role in determining the optimal listing price for your home. Here’s why putting your home on the market above that price can be detrimental:
  • You might miss the “new listing” allure. Sometimes, the best chance of selling your home is within the first 30 days when it hits the market as a new listing. But, if it’s priced too high for the area, buyers will overlook it and wait for a price drop.
  • You’ll help the competition. Your home may attract buyers to your neighborhood, but if it’s priced higher than others in your area, they’ll take the better deal!
  • You won’t show up in searches. When buyers are searching online—which most do before ever showing up in person—they set search parameters based on price range. If your home is priced too high for your neighborhood, you’ll be skipped over from the get-go.
  • Your home will lose interest. If your home is priced too high, it will linger on the market, which becomes a red flag for buyers. The longer it sits on the market, the more people assume there is something wrong with it.
  • You’re working with the wrong agent. If the real estate agent you’re working with agrees to list the property at an unrealistic price, that’s a red flag. An experienced local expert will strongly advise against listing too high (for all of the above reasons) and probably won’t take the listing if you insist.
When it comes to choosing the right listing price for your home, make sure you’re working with an experienced real estate professional, then follow their guidance when it comes to price.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

The Top 5 Home-Preparedness Tasks for Fall


While the bright skies and cool temperatures of fall make it prime time for weekend getaways, trips to the apple orchard, and hikes in the great outdoors, remember that this is also a critical time of year for home care. If you don’t want to spend too much of the season on house-related chores, focus on at least these five tasks. They’ll be easier and less costly to address now while the weather is still in your favor:

  1. Inventory your emergency supplies and equipment. Are you prepared for the aftermath of harsh weather? If you have an emergency generator, make sure it’s serviced and ready to go. Have flashlights and batteries gathered in a convenient spot, along with an emergency water supply, candles and matches. Make sure old fuel has been drained from outdoor power equipment and have a fresh supply at the ready.
  2. Button things up. Don’t wait for chillier temperatures to start checking for drafts. Investigate all windows and doors to see if air is escaping, and caulk and seal as necessary.
  3. Have your chimney cleaned. Before peak fire season gets underway, have your chimney professionally cleaned and serviced to remove creosote build-up, get rid of any nests, and take care of any repairs.
  4. Prep your lawn. You may think your grass duties ended with summer, but do two important things this fall: aerate and fertilize. Aerating opens your lawn up, allowing fertilizer to reach the roots that continue to grow throughout the winter. This process will set the stage for a healthy showing come spring.
  5. Prune your trees. To avoid tree branches coming down during winter storms, trim them now in the fall. For any major jobs, be sure to hire a professional. 

Get out and enjoy all that autumn has to offer…but take care of things at home, too.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

5 Things That Will Make Your House Stand Out

Even though you know all the many things that make your house so special, the average home shopper is probably a bit jaded. They’ve looked at countless homes online and have probably driven around to see many in person as well. They may even be at the point where they’re not going to bother getting out of the car if they pull up to a house and it just doesn’t grab them.

That’s why it’s exceedingly important to make sure your house stands out at a glance. The market is competitive, so you need to attract the discerning – and sometimes tired, frustrated and stressed out – eye of buyers. Here are some ways to make your house just a little more eye-catching:

1. Paint the Trim. Painting the trim around your roofline, windows and front door in a complementary color can be an instant wow that really sets your home apart. Just don’t do anything too crazy. Consult a color expert at your local paint store to find out what options may work. 

2. Get creative with shutters. Adding fixed shutters to your windows is another eye-catching feature from the curb. A contrasting or coordinating paint will make them especially appealing, or they can be stained for a natural look. Architectural elements or gingerbread can be added for additional appeal.

3. Make the front door a focal point. The front door is possibly the first thing homebuyers will see from the curb, so make sure it’s special. Paint it a stand-out color, such as red, black or cobalt blue. Frame it in stonework or panels of decorative or stained glass. Go with a natural wood look and add cast iron elements, such as a door knocker and sconces. 

4. Put plants in focus. If you’ve got a green thumb, let your landscaping lend a hand with curb appeal by adding attractive potted plants to your front stoop or porch, window boxes with trailing vines and flowers, and neatly trimmed grasses and shrubs along the front and side border of your home. 

5. Light it up. The right accent lighting will work magic for your home’s presentation, so make sure your front door is lit properly, add atmospheric lighting along walkways and can lights to shine a spotlight on trees and other important features of your lawn or home. 

These few steps will serve as immediate attention-getters to prospective buyers and leave an indelible impression as they narrow down their choices. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

10 Gutter Facts You Should Know

How important are your gutters? According to gutter company The Brothers Who Just Do Gutters, pretty important! Below are 10 facts about your gutters they think you should know, from gutter history to maintenance and more.

– If gutters are not maintained properly, they can trap moisture and rot the wood boards of your home’s roof and siding.

– Neglected gutters can be harmful to your physical health as well. Debris caught in gutters can decompose and generate mold. Standing water becomes a breeding ground for disease carrying insects.

– Mesh guards may be the most effective way to keep gutters clean. If you live an area with high pollen conditions, try to find mesh gutter guards with a lower micron count (larger holes) to prevent pollen from clogging the screen.

– Electrically heated gutters are also available for those living in climates with extreme snow and ice. These devices prevent ice dams and the damage they cause.

– Cleaning gutters is a dangerous job. Falls from ladders are the number one cause for accidental injuries at home and account for hundreds deaths in the U.S. every year.

– Gutters impact the value of your home. Even if you haven’t experienced water damage to the structure of your house, gutters in poor condition can detract approximately $500 – $1000 from your home’s selling price.

– The first people to incorporate gutters on their dwellings was the Indus Valley civilization, the area that is now Pakistan and northwest India. Their clay brick gutters date back to approximately 3000 BC.

– The Romans brought gutters to Western civilization when they introduced them to Great Britain in 47 BC.

– Gargoyles are essentially gutters with faces. These structures were originally designed to direct water away from the side of the buildings they were installed on.

– Before the 1980s gutters were commonly featured on automobiles to prevent drivers and passengers from getting wet when they exited the vehicle.

Source: The Brothers Who Just Do Gutters

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Are You Ready for Your Long Island Summer to School Switch?

September is just around the corner and with Long Island schools starting between September 3rd – 5th (find you school’s start date) we have a few tips for you.

School kids running in elementary school hallway, front view
  1. Enjoy Summer: Make the most of August and enjoy the rest of your summer! Take a trip and if your schedule is limited there are plenty of beautiful beaches or you can make it a day trip to explore long island.
  2. Get Organized: Transitioning from summer to school takes a toll on all families, start by building routines and planning for the upcoming school year. Have your children practice prepping their clothing for the next day and going to bed/waking up to a schedule that suits the school year.
  3. Shopping: By now you’ve seen advertisements for back to school sales in just about every store, now is a great time to save money on school supplies and clothing. Prior to shopping it is important to do an inventory of clothes to see what still fits and what is needed. The same is true for supplies, compare your school supply list with items you already have in order to determine what you will need to buy.
  4. Monitor: Keep an eye on your children as the school year starts and made adjustments as needed.

Make the most of your remaining summer and if there is anything we can do for your Real Estate needs please give us a call or use our website to search for homes!

How-To Better Invest in Your Home

Many Americans own homes that need a little work. Whether you need to revamp a few fixtures or totally renovate, you want to make sure you’re making the smartest decision for your style, and wallet. To help, HGTV host and real estate expert Egypt Sherrod offers the following home improvement insights, in partnership with LightStream.

Good bones add the most value. While personalization is important in creating your dream home, don’t overlook the less glamorous—but essential—elements. You may not get as excited about upgrading your HVAC units as you do about making over a bathroom. However, tending to projects that improve the functionality and systems in your house often lead to a higher ROI compared to aesthetic-focused ones.

Choose “timeless” over “trendy”. It’s easy to be tempted into the latest trends during home renovations, like shiplap walls and waterfall countertops. They may be hot right now, but could become dated very quickly. Remember how cool wood paneling and shag carpets used to be? Choose timeless, classic styles and easily updatable accessories that won’t cost a fortune to replace down the road.

Invest in your nest…without depleting your nest egg. Home improvements can be a smart investment that dramatically improve your quality of life.  The key, however, is to stay within a budget that doesn’t become a financial burden. Many homeowners mistakenly use their entire savings to pay for a renovation, which can leave them without a financial emergency safety net. 

Consider your financing options. Homeowners may opt to use credit cards for their projects, which can become expensive quickly, as balances with high-interest rates carry over from month to month.  While a home equity line of credit can be a solution for some, these often take time to arrange, and many homes haven’t accrued equity to tap. But there is an option that can provide needed funds without sacrificing your financial well-being—a fixed rate, unsecured home improvement loan.

Source: SunTrust Banks, LightStream

3 Starter Tips for Throwing a Fun Pool Party

Pool owners often love to invite friends, family and neighbors over for a seasonal splash. When planning your own pool party, consider the following tips.

Clean your space. When it comes to a pool party, it’s important to start with the basics. Make sure that your pool is working and clean. If there are leaves or other debris on the bottom, use the skimmer to get them out or, if you’re feeling adventurous, dive in yourself and grab them. Double check that your filter, heater, and any other accessories are running smoothly at least a day or two before your party. These are problems that will need at least a full day to solve, so you definitely don’t want to run into them the day of. Following the pool area, ensure that your yard is straightened up. You can start by making sure outdoor furniture is all set to perfection, your lawn is mowed and your garden is on point.

Set a theme. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive a bit deeper. A pool party typically doesn’t have a theme, therefore, creating one can really take it to the next level and separate yours from the rest of the pack. When choosing a theme, be sure to take into consideration the season and try to choose lighter, more “summery” colors like pink, yellow or light blue (or all three). Once you have picked the theme, start incorporating it into every facet of the party. If the color scheme is pink – think big. Buy pink floats for the pool, pink towels for everyone to use to dry off, get pink accent pillows for your backyard furniture, make pink cupcakes, get pink plates and cups and make a pink drink for the kids (maybe even a separate one for the adults, if you know what we’re saying!). Fully incorporating the theme gives the party more energy and a direction.

Factor in the food. The next important factor is having a tasty food menu. The food can truly make or break a party. During the summertime, grilling is the go-to and is definitely our recommendation. You can never go wrong by making fan favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken. Keep in mind, it is always important to know your audience, and if you think that they would prefer something along the lines of pizza, then feel free to venture outside the grilling norm! Whether it’s the adults or the kids, the dessert at a neighborhood pool party needs to be a head turner. The amount of excitement and energy that is common in pool party attendees will carry over into yummy treats for sure.

Source: LOOP-LOC

Published with permission from RISMedia.

When Selling Your Home (or Just Enjoying It), Lawns Matter

According to recent research from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), 81 percent of all Americans have a lawn, and a majority—79 percent—say that a lawn is an important feature when renting or buying a home. Respondents to the NALP survey ranked a nice size yard second behind a renovated kitchen when asked to prioritize home features.

And for millennials, a good-sized lawn was actually the No. 1 priority, with 82 percent reporting that having a lawn is important when renting or buying a home (compared to 81 percent of Gen Xers and 77 percent of baby boomers).

Apparently, respondents value lawns for good reason: they use them regularly. According to the survey:

– 47 percent report entertaining in their yards at least once a month
– 57 percent use their yards for recreation at least monthly
– 77 percent report relaxing in their yards at least once a month
– 32 percent garden in their yards multiple times a week

But Americans’ love affair with green spaces doesn’t stop at their garden gates. In fact, they are also enjoying grass and green spaces beyond their doorsteps. The NALP research also found that Americans visit public parks and playgrounds more often than movie theaters, pools and beaches, bowling alleys and museums.

Whether you plan to list your home soon or just want to maximize the enjoyment of your yard, the NALP recommends the following lawn maintenance best practices:

Practice “grass cycling.” Allowing grass clippings to remain on the lawn helps return nitrogen and nutrients to the soil.

Water wisely. Provide your lawn a deep watering every few days, not daily. Watering your lawn too frequently often leads to shallow root growth.

Control weeds. April is the ideal time to apply pre-emergent weed control. Weeds can dominate lawns, so taking proper care now will help keep weeds under control.

Maintain your mower. It is important to keep your mower blades sharp. When left dull, blades are ineffective and can damage your lawn.

Fertilize your lawn. Adequate fertilizer provides proper nutrients that are critical for a healthy lawn. Talk to a lawn care professional to select the best product for your lawn.

Source: LoveYourLandscape.org

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