Purchasing a home is a big financial responsibility, but the rewards of homeownership are many. Particularly for first-time homebuyers, coming up with the down payment needed to see your dream to fruition can often seem overwhelming. There are many strategies, however, that can help you save for your down payment.
It should also be noted that various loan programs exist that would allow you to drastically reduce the amount of money needed for a down payment. For example, VA loans often require 0% down, while FHA loans see down payment options ranging from 3-6%. When you’re ready to start saving for your down payment, consider these smart solutions:
#1: Cut Back
When you realize that cutting back on certain things can help you reach your goals, it will change your perspective. Think of it as an investment rather than a loss. Here are some areas where you can potentially cut back:
• Morning coffee and stops in the car for water, drinks and snacks … carry your own
• Cable and expensive internet … use some of the cheaper options such as Netflix
• Eating out … cook at home and use leftovers for quick meals and lunches
#2: Do It Yourself
You can save on a number of the services you pay for each month by doing it yourself. While there is a time and place for professional assistance, consider these alternatives:
• Personal grooming … paint your own nails, give yourself a facial, use coupons for haircuts
• House maintenance … mow your own yard, trim the trees, clean the interior, repair what you can
• Make presents for family and friends instead of buying, especially cards and gift wrap
#3: Let Your Goals Be Known
You’d be surprised how much support you will receive from your circle of friends and family. They may opt for a game night-in instead of an expensive concert or dinner. They will also be more understanding if you can’t chip in for a trip or group present. What’s more, when you make your goals known to your friends and family, you’re more likely to stick to them!
#4: Take on Extra Work
This may sound obvious, but it’s more than just overtime or a sales commission. Try to turn your hobbies and extra time into money. Look on community boards for services wanted such as tutoring, cleaning, dog walking, errand running and even elderly companionship and driving.
#5: Save On Purchases
Take the time to research costs and shop during sales. It may take a couple extra minutes each week while grocery shopping or clothes shopping, but the end results will be worth the effort. Become a bargain hunter and you’ll quickly see the savings stack up.
Make Your Homeownership Dreams Come True
Making the conscious decision to save will be the best start to achieving your down payment goals. Create a monthly alert on your phone or computer that lets you know when you’ve reached the monthly amount. Once you’ve reached the desired down payment amount, talk to a real estate professional to start looking at homes that could be yours.
Meanwhile, give us a call and we can help put you on track with a savings program, and maybe show you ways you can save on taxes.
It’s almost Thanksgiving, and along with it comes great food, great company and a LOT of time spent in the kitchen…. especially if you’re the one hosting the holiday entertaining on the big day. You’ll be doing a lot of cooking, warming up, freezing, storing, etc., which can up your stress level and lessen your enjoyment in the holiday. It doesn’t have to be like this. Follow these simple tips and you’ll save time, energy and a great deal of potential angst, allowing you to simply relax and enjoy the day.
Make sure your oven isn’t losing heat. If your oven door doesn’t seal properly, you could be losing over 70% of its heat. Inspect the seal for breaks, tears or abnormalities and look for possible leaks. If you spot a problem, replace the seal, which is available for purchase at most home improvement stores.
Check Your Exhaust Fan:
Is it working properly? This is important, as you’ll be simultaneously using your oven and stove top and will need maximum ventilation. If you hear rattling, make sure the fan is securely bolted to the hood and any filter is installed correctly. If your fan is no longer working, refer to the manufacturer’s manual and check all wiring connections and fuses. If the motor has burned out and you must replace your fan, make sure you identify the correct part number when ordering a new one.
Organize Your Refrigerator For Maximum Efficiency
A clean, tidy refrigerator and an organized freezer will make after-dinner leftover storage easier, but keep the following in mind while loading it: Your fridge will likely be packed, meaning airflow will be more limited than usual. Foods that can safely freeze should go closer to the back of the refrigerator, where the cold air duct is located. Place foods that should not freeze closer to the door, where the air will be warmer.
Give Your Ice-maker Some Attention
Ice can become polluted with flavors from all the food in both the freezer and refrigerator (unless they have separate climate controls). Avoid nasty-tasting ice and/or running out of ice by following these tips a few days ahead of time: Empty out the compartment and allow it to fill with fresh ice, pack the fresh ice into sealable plastic bags, then store the sealed ice (now protected from circulating air) on a freezer shelf.
Don’t Forget To Clean Your Microwave
Keeping your microwave in good working order is essential as you’ll most likely be doing a lot of reheating: Cleanliness takes no time at all. Simply give it a good wipe down on the inside, and if you have a rotating plate, make sure it’s on the track and functioning properly.
Be Kind To Your Dishwasher
This is your post-meal workhorse, so make sure it’s working at top efficiency. Use the proper amount of soap, scrape off all food scraps and properly load the dishwasher.
Clear Off Kitchen Counters
This is the best and easiest place to start, to lose the clutter and boost your momentum. Load dishes in the dishwasher, clear away bills and other paperwork, give the counter a good wipe down and there you have it: A nice, clean spot to plan your Thanksgiving menu.
Did you know there’s a system to cleaning your oven? Wipe down the stove top with a commercial cleaner or go toxic free with vinegar and water. Remove the racks and clean off any loose grime from the oven’s bottom and walls. With a paste made from baking soda and water, clean the really dirty areas. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with warm water and rinse clean.
Declutter Drawers And Cabinets.
You’re going to need the extra space, so throw out any old food and wipe down the shelves. It’s a good idea to give yourself some extra drawer space for any additional tableware.
Follow the above tips and not only will your kitchen be ready for Thanksgiving — so will you!
Every piece of furniture has a story. Maybe you could finally afford your perfect couch or bedroom set. Maybe you rescued that gorgeous chair off the side of the road. Maybe you got that table at a garage sale and it has a crazy story attached to it.
No matter the reason, we know your furniture is special to you. That’s why it’s important to take extra care when cleaning it. Here’s how to clean your most beloved furniture pieces.
Read the Tag:
The biggest piece of advice we can give you is to follow the instructions on the tag for your upholstered furniture. Not every piece of upholstery should be cleaned the same way, since many pieces are made with different fabrics. You can check to see how each piece should be cleaned by turning the piece over or on its side and finding the tag.
The tag, however, is encrypted with shorthand: abbreviations that, when translated, reveal the secrets to cleaning your furniture. We can help you crack that code.
If you see these letters on the tags, here’s what they mean –
C is for Crypton cleaning
S is for solvent or water-free cleaning
SW is for water-based or dry-cleaning methods
W is for water-based cleaning
X is for professional cleaning
Virtually Spotless Vinyl:
It’s pretty tough to get vinyl dirty because it’s stain-resistant, but there are some resilient dyes and inks that can damage the material. To clean it, mop up the spill as quickly as possible with a damp cloth to avoid setting. Then, create a soap and water solution and clean the vinyl using a soft-bristled cleaning brush. Rinse the material and pat dry. The stain should be lifted!
For tougher stains, you might try concentrated cleaners. Follow the instructions on the bottle accordingly.
Wonderfully Clean Wood Furniture:
Wood is easy to get dirty, but difficult to clean without damaging or scratching it. You can avoid rings and messes by using coasters, but if the damage is already done, here’s what you can do to clean the wood.
If any kind of liquid spills on the wood, wipe it up as soon as possible. Even water can warp the wood if left unattended.
Dust the wooden surface with a soft cloth. You can spritz some wood polish on the cloth before dusting if you’d like. Avoid using a washcloth, as this will scratch the wood’s surface. If you use a certain type of wood polish, become a brand loyalist. You don’t want to mix chemicals from different products, as this can also damage your furniture.
Cleaning your furniture is the best way to prepare your home for showing. For other tips on how to upgrade your home before selling it, call or email us today.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, upper-level living rooms are becoming a sought-after space among homeowners. Many homeowners are finding these second-floor lounges can be cozier spaces than living areas on the first floor—and can offer more privacy, too.
Upper-level living rooms—sometimes labeled “pajama lounges”—are usually located right off bedrooms. They may include comfy sofas, a kitchenette, a television, and even a nook to work from. Architects are removing long hallway spaces upstairs to make room for these central living spaces upstairs.
The lounge area is intended for “the bedrooms [to] spill out, and the family can have a space to assemble,” says Kobi Karp, an architect in Miami who recently designed an upper-level living room in one of his projects. “It’s where you go on a Sunday morning and wait for the rest of the house to wake up.”
Upper-level living rooms tend to be more casual than their lower counterparts. They also tend to have recessed lighting instead of chandeliers and favor cozier seating areas over larger sectionals, Donna Mondi, a Chicago-based interior designer, told The Wall Street Journal. Mondi also says it’s not as important for the style of these spaces to match the rest of the home, either.
“Because it’s not part of the main area, all bets are off—you can do what you want with it,” says Mondi.
Madison Hildebrand, a real estate pro in Malibu and reality TV host, says he has sold dozens of homes over the past three years featuring these types of upper living spaces.
“After living in [an open floor] situation, [owners] realized that it’s nice to have the big open spaces, but also a little bit annoying,” Hildebrand says. “Now there’s a bit more compartmentalizing.”
Hildenbrand says these upstairs living areas that are geared for families in larger homes are helping properties sell faster, too. Families are looking for the extra space to lounge, without having to make an office or playroom serve double duty, he says.
The idea behind these spaces are nothing new. Historic homes often have included an upstairs “retiring room” for mothers nursing children or for resting midday, says T. Jeffrey Clarke, an architect in Philadelphia.
What’s your thought on this concept? Do you think this is going to be a trend in our area?
In this day and age, it is rare to find a television that is not a flat screen. In fact, many modern TVs come with “Smart TV” features such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity along with all of the traditional options for cable and video input, so they essentially operate as an extension of your computer system. No matter how you use your flat-screen TV, you will want to exercise care when mounting it on the wall.
Step No. 1: Find the studs.
The first step to successfully installing your new flat-screen TV is to find the studs in your wall. The studs are much stronger and more stable than the drywall, so you will want to make sure that your TV is attached to a stud when you mount it on the wall. The easiest way to do this is to use a stud finder, but if you have experience with other home improvement projects, you will probably be able to find the studs just by knocking on the wall. Another easy way to find studs is to measure 16″ from the corner of the room. This is likely the location of the first stud, and you will be able to find studs in 16″ increments from there (assuming your house is built to code).
Step No. 2: Choose a high-quality bracket.
You will need to attach the brackets to the back of your flat-screen TV before you mount it on the wall, so make sure that the brackets you have chosen are high quality and appropriate for the size and shape of your TV. A good wall mount will run you between $50 and $60, a small price to pay for a sturdy resting place for your TV. Most TVs have three or four holes in the back where you will screw in the wall mount, so double-check that the TV and bracket are compatible before you purchase anything.
Step No. 3: Remove the base of the TV.
Many flat-screen TVs come with the option to either mount them or leave them sitting on a shelf or TV stand. If your TV has a base already attached, you will need to remove the base when you attach the brackets to your TV.
Step No. 4: Keep the TV screen protected while you are installing the brackets.
You will need to keep the TV safe and stable while you attach the brackets, and the easiest way to do this is by protecting the screen with a soft cloth. If you choose to go this route, carefully lay the TV face down on the cloth before you begin attaching the brackets. However, some manufacturers recommend leaving the TV upright (this is more common with plasma screen TVs), so make sure that you read the owner’s manual before beginning the work.
Step No. 5: Drill holes in your wall that match the bracket.
Do not try to make holes in your stud/drywall with just the mounting screws. Drill holes ahead of time, and then screw the wall mount into those holes. This will be much easier and foolproof than trying to combine the steps.
If you are trying to hide the TV cords in the wall, you will want to drill those holes now as well. Your mounting bracket should have a square hole you can line up with for this step. You will then want to cut a matching hole in the wall about a foot from the floor. The TV cords will go in the top hole (through the bracket) and out the bottom hole.
Step No. 6: Mount your TV.
Carefully line up the holes in your TV bracket with the holes in the wall mount. Bolt your TV bracket to the wall mount, tightening the bolts carefully. Exercise caution when releasing the TV and make sure that the bracket will hold.
Once your TV is up on the wall, you will be ready to watch all of your favorite programs.
We’ve had our umbrellas out a good bit this spring and summer, but have you ever wondered about a different kind of helpful umbrella? Such as an umbrella insurance policy? An umbrella insurance policy covers you above and beyond your regular homeowners insurance policy. It is meant to help you if some type of accident occurs and the coverage needed exceeds the amount of your regular policy. Basically, it covers you for an issue that you can be deemed responsible for. Let’s look at some examples.
1. When Your Dog Bites
Our dogs are our friends, but sometimes they can act out of character for whatever reason, and we may not be able to control the situation or may not be around. This could lead to a dog biting another person on your property. If this results in bodily injury to that person and he or she files a claim, it could possibly exceed your regular policy. The person could take you to court as well, resulting in even more cost to you. An umbrella policy will give you the extra cushion to cover those expenses.
2. You Have the Coolest Jungle Gym in the Neighborhood, Until Someone Gets Hurt
Having the best jungle gym or the only pool in the neighborhood can be fun when you have kids and all their friends come to hang out at your house. (Such potentially dangerous delights are known in the insurance world as “attractive nuisances.”) Then a kid gets hurt and the fun stops. While we hope that parents understand things happen when kids are playing, sometimes it is not that simple for the parent of the child who got injured. This can result in them filing a claim against you and, depending on the severity of the injury, the costs could well exceed your regular policy. Your umbrella policy will give you a cushion to fall back on.
3. Landlord Liabilities
If you own rental properties, then you can have liabilities tied to those properties. Sometimes they may be things that you haven’t noticed, like a crack in the walkway. If something like this results in bodily injury, then it is possible that you will be held responsible and legal action could be taken against you. Just as in the other examples, the umbrella policy will cover you for additional expenses above your homeowner policy.
4. Be Careful What You Say About Others
You may have been told that if you do not have anything nice to say, then do not say anything at all, but sometimes it is hard to hold your tongue. In these cases, it is important to be careful about what you are saying, as well as about what audience you are saying it to, or through what outlet. Something negative said or written could be considered slander or libel by the person it is being said about. This could result in legal action taken by that person, and — you guessed it — an umbrella insurance policy will cover you.
Thank you to all our clients! We’re the ‘Team Of The Month’ for June 2017 at Coldwell Banker Preferred in Exton, and we couldn’t be more proud. Homes are selling, buyers are buying, and we’d love to put our proven track record to work for you. Please call us today to learn how we can help you succeed with your next move!
If you dream about keeping your home cleaner longer, you’re not the only one who wants a spotless house for more than a few days. The demands of everyday life are already a lot to handle, so throwing a long list of household chores into the mix every week can be tiresome and time-consuming.
1. Seal Your Garage Floor. Paint a protective barrier between your garage floor and the elements that get tracked inside every day, so you’ll spend less time sweeping up dust and dirt.
2. Dry Your Sink and Counters. Get in the habit of wiping down basins and other wet surfaces in your bathrooms and kitchen, and you’ll find yourself spending less time spraying and scrubbing.
3. Lay Down Throw Rugs. Put out rugs you can toss in the washing machine to collect excess dirt and grime, saving yourself from sweeping and mopping all the time.
4. Wipe Down Surfaces With Dryer Sheets. Turn used dryer sheets into handy washcloths, repurposing this dust-repellent material to wipe up dust and grime while preventing additional buildup.
5. Stay Organized With Boxes and Baskets. Place boxes and baskets of different sizes in and around your house for storing everything from toys to linens, allowing you to spend less time picking up after your family.
6. Clear Out Clutter. Round up and donate the items you don’t need anymore after every season, and you’ll have fewer things to pick up and put away as well as more clean space to enjoy in your home.
7. Brush Your Pets Outside. Take the time to brush away your furry friend’s loose fur every few days, thus keeping your dog or cat from shedding in your house and saving yourself from sweeping and vacuuming.
8. Take Shoes Off at the Door. Put a mat in front of and behind every door in the house and provide a basket for shoes; you’ll trap dirt, leaves and more before they make it into your house.
9. Clear the Dishwasher Before Bed. Run the dishwasher after dinner and put the dishes away before going to sleep, so you’ll avoid a sink full of dirty dishes after breakfast every day.
10. Keep Cleaning Supplies Around Your House. Store cleaning supplies in your bathroom, kitchen and more, so you’ll find yourself carrying out fewer marathon cleaning sessions.
These ten tips for keeping your home cleaner longer are great ways to tackle your to-do list for a tidy house. Whether you’re busy with school, work or family, you can save time and rest easy knowing that your cleaning efforts will keep your place fresh for days.
Father’s Day is a time to appreciate and honor the men who have served as our role models and influenced our lives in so many ways. Thank you to all the men who make a positive difference. The Gomez Real Estate Team wishes you all a happy and relaxing Father’s Day.
It’s been hot around here for the last few days! The summer heat is often the culprit behind jumps in electricity costs during the summer months, so do what you can now to conserve energy and avoid additional costs as the weather heats up. If you’re looking to cut back on your spending throughout the summer, your utility bills are great places to start when making changes to your everyday life.
Here are 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months, adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and avoid overspending on household expenses this year.
1. Switch Off the Lights When You Leave a Room – Turning off the lights when walking out of a room is a great way to curb your energy consumption in the summer.
2. Use Rain as a Free Water Source – Collecting rainwater in buckets during a storm is an active way to cut down on your water usage while taking care of your yard this season.
3. Close Your Blinds and Curtains During the Day – Keeping the heat out on bright, sunny days is an effective way to control your energy expenses this summer.
4. Keep Doors and Vents Shut – Closing off parts of your house where you don’t spend much time is a convenient way to limit cooling costs while at home during the summer.
5. Spend Your Free Time Outside – Going out every day to embrace the warm weather and enjoy the great outdoors is a smart way to use less energy in the summertime.
6. Find Creative Ways to Cool Down – Drinking ice-cold beverages and taking cool showers are small ways to save money on utilities while making the most of the summer.
7. Put Wet Clothes Out on a Clothesline – Using the hot summer sun to dry your clothes after washing them is an effortless way to reduce utility bills and spend time outside.
8. Monitor the Temperature on Your Thermostat – Setting a default number for your air conditioning is a simple way to keep your energy bills from rising when it’s hot outside.
9. Opt for Fans Instead of Air Conditioning – Circulating air throughout your home with fans is an economical way to cool down your living space while using less energy.
10. Unplug Electronics That Aren’t Being Used – Pulling out their cords when you’re not using your electronics and chargers is an easy way to limit your energy usage this summer.
These 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months will keep you from breaking the bank when the weather gets warmer this year. Whether you’re focused on using less water, running your air conditioning on a lower setting or another method, it’s possible to cut back on power usage and save money in the process. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about how to circumvent high utility bills in the summertime, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.
While Memorial Day Weekend is often heralded as the unofficial beginning of summer, the real reason that we celebrate Memorial Day is of course to remember those who died in military service while fighting for our freedoms. Whatever you do and wherever you go this weekend, please pause to remember the true meaning of the holiday, enjoy, and be safe!
If you love gardening, you know that sometimes the summer sun is just too strong and the summer heat is just too severe for some of your plants to tolerate well. Your only option is to cover your garden when the temperature gets too hot to avoid a destructive sun. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of growing a prize-winning garden? So rather than hide your beauties under straw or mulch, try these three tips to keep your garden alive through the summer heat.
#1: Plant Shading Trees and Plants on the West
During the summer, the sun remains high and in the sky a lot longer than it does in winter. No matter where you are, the sun is going to set in the west.
Consider planting your garden on the west side of your home so the sun isn’t beaming down on your garden at the hottest point during the day. Also, you could plant certain types of trees and vining plants to protect your more sensitive flowers from the summer heat. Try sunflowers, perennials and Asiatic lilies.
#2: Choose Plants and Flowers That Like the Heat
One of the easiest ways to protect your garden through the summer heat is to add plants and flowers that thrive in the heat. Some examples of beautiful and colorful flowers that withstand a lot of heat include:
• Salvias, which tolerate extreme heat and extreme cold.
• Coreopsis flowers, which are bright yellow and need very little water to thrive.
• Coneflowers that come in a rainbow of colors and can grow up to three feet.
• Rudbeckia, also known as “black-eyed Susan” perennials, which are drought-resistant and grow 48 inches high. Plus, you can cut them and stick them in a vase inside the house; they last longer than most cut flowers.
If you are growing a fruit and vegetable garden, tomatoes are surprisingly hearty against summer heat. Other vegetables like eggplant and black-eyed peas and certain fruits will also thrive in hot and humid weather.
#3: Water Your Plants in the Early Morning
Finally, you want to be careful about how you water your plants. There are several things you may not know that will help keep your plants from drying out this summer. The first rule is to water your plants early in the morning. If you water your plants at night, chances are you’ll get some of the leaves wet. Overnight, that water can turn into mildew and disease.
Once the sun rises, the heat is going to burn off the water too fast for your plants to absorb it. In the early morning, they will have a better chance of absorbing water. Second, just because it rains, it does not mean that your plants have had enough water.
You can measure by leaving a tuna can outside in the rain. One can equals an inch of rain. Your plants need a third of that every few days to thrive. If your soil gets too dry, it could become resistant to water and will need more water than usual.
Ready to grow your own food, but not sure where to start? The idea of starting a home vegetable garden may be very appealing. Who wouldn’t be proud to grow their own food? Unfortunately, not everybody knows how to get started. Or more importantly, how to keep it maintained to ensure continued growth and production. Read below to find out what materials you need and what steps to take to start — and tend — your very own vegetable garden.
Before: How to Start Your Own Vegetable Garden
First things first: Start with a plan. Once you’ve decided the specifics about where your garden will be and what you will grow in it, it’s time to gather your materials and put your plan in motion.
We recommend starting with either a raised-bed garden or a container garden, as it can get a little hairy (and back-breaking, for that matter) if you try to work with your existing soil. Another plus? When you go the raised-bed or container route, you don’t have to worry as much about pesky weeds, and you’ll likely get a better yield.
The most important aspect to consider with either garden type is the soil. You certainly want to make sure you provide the best growing environment for your plants, so it’s wise to get advice from a professional at the nursery when you purchase your plants. He or she should recommend a mixture of soil, conditioner and compost, all of which you can purchase in conveniently packed bags.
During: How to Tend a Garden
Once you’ve established a sunny spot for your garden and planted everything in nutrient-rich soil, there’s only one thing left to do: Water, water, water! It’s one of the most vital components of strong, healthy, productive plants, so you need to make sure you stay on top of it. Review your specific plants’ watering needs, and follow them to a “T.” If you live in an area that gets especially hot, you may need to water more often. The best time of day to water the plants? Early in the morning.
In addition, don’t be afraid to pick your ripe vegetables. In fact, once harvesting season begins, pick the ripened crops regularly to encourage the plants to produce more.
After: Tips for Maintaining Vegetable Gardens
It only takes a little TLC to reap major results. However, sometimes nature appears to go a little overboard, and it requires you to perform occasional maintenance on your vegetable garden. Follow these tips to be prepared for anything nature throws at you:
• Although you’ll spend much less time removing weeds with a raised-bed or container garden, you still may find a few from time to time. To keep from being overwhelmed, try to do a weekly run-through to remove the weeds that have popped up.
• It’s almost inevitable: The nearby wildlife may discover your garden is just as appealing to them as it is to you. Prepare for pests by installing fencing, netting or wire cages around the garden. Mulch is also a good deterrent for certain animals.
• Like the wildlife, insects may find your garden to be a veritable delight. Consider planting flowers and herbs that naturally repel pests alongside your vegetables. For example, rosemary and sage repel cabbage moths, bean beetles and carrot flies.
• To reduce the chances of fungal disease, water the soil rather than the leaves of the plants. If you use a sprinkler, use it early in the day, so the leaves have time to dry by nightfall.
Wishing for efficient, effective home organization? We’re here to help you tackle everything your busy life throws at you. Below are eight tips for keeping you and your family organized by implementing a home organization routine that will streamline your life.
1. Downsize and donate. Create donation boxes dedicated to toys, clothes and household items you don’t want in order to make room for new things while also lending a helping hand.
2. Get rid of clutter. Imagine the daunting buildup of useless stuff you’ll face at the dawn of 2018 if you don’t take the time this year to give away things you don’t need while getting rid of any unnecessary clutter in and around your home.
3. Label shelves, drawers and containers. Fantasizing about your kids picking up after themselves will be so 2016 once you label the places where everything you’ve decided to keep will go, and make it easy for everyone to put things back in the right places.
4. Clean storage spaces. Enjoy your clutter-free home even more after you empty your storage areas, such as drawers, closets and cabinets; clean them thoroughly; and put the items back in an orderly fashion.
5. Plan meals ahead of time. Appreciating your clean living spaces is something you can do after you’ve completed your other duties as a parent, so start by planning your meals a day ahead to make your life easier.
6. Organize work and play time. Munching on your well-thought-out meals is much more satisfying when your kids have finished their homework and you’ve completed your full day of work, so mark designated working and relaxing hours on your calendar to keep everyone in your family on track.
7. Narrow down extracurricular activities. Benefiting from scheduled work and fun time is even easier when everyone is focused on and dedicated to their hobbies, so limit your kids to three hobbies per season, and cut back on the running around you have to do on a weekly basis.
8. Make a schedule. Bask in your beautiful, organized home and high-functioning family life once you’ve made a weekly schedule dedicated to carrying out each and every tip successfully throughout the year.
A fast, simple route to an orderly living space and a prosperous family life is what every family needs. This collection of eight tips for keeping your family organized is a great place to start, so take each one to heart and make it work for you and your loved ones. When you’re ready to take the next steps toward an active home organization system, I’m only a phone call away.
Spring is finally here, and there’s no better way to chase the winter blues away than with an all-inclusive plan to tackle your spring cleaning. With a simple step-by-step guide to cleaning every room in your house, you’ll get into the swing this spring without missing a spot of dirt or dust. Here’s the ultimate spring cleaning checklist by room, so you can hop into spring with a fresh, clean home:
The Living Room
• Vacuum and/or wash curtains.
• Wash windows and dust window sills.
• Vacuum and/or wipe down sofas and chairs.
• Wipe blinds with moist cloth.
• Scrub floor or shampoo carpet.
• Wipe down electronics.
• Dust lamps, lamp shades and light fixtures.
• Dust furniture, especially bookcases.
The Dining Room
• Dust wall hangings, picture frames and mirrors.
• Vacuum underneath dining table and chairs.
• Wipe down dining table and chairs, and polish if needed.
• Clean out drawers and cabinets.
• Dust and polish cabinets.
• Wash trash can.
• Scrub microwave.
• Clean out and wash fridge and freezer.
• Deep clean oven and/or dishwasher.
• Clean stove top and burners.
• Scrub under oven and fridge.
• Clean out and organize drawers and cabinets.
• Bleach counters, sink and drain.
• Throw out expired foods and organize pantry.
• Brush crumbs out of toaster.
• Wash pet food and water dishes.
• Go through closet and donate old clothes and linens.
• Sweep or vacuum under the bed.
• Wipe down bed frame and other furniture.
• Put on clean sheets, wash duvet and clean curtains.
• Remove items from dresser, wash drawers and put items back.
• Wash toothbrush holders and soap dishes.
• Spray and wipe down mirror, cabinets and vanity.
• Bleach and scrub toilet, shower, tub and sink.
• Replace shower curtain liner.
• Wash shower curtain.
• Wipe down countertops.
• Mop floor.
• Shake out and wash mat.
The Laundry Room
• Remove lint from dryer filter.
• Vacuum underneath washer and dryer.
• Sweep and mop floor.
• Wash inside and outside of washer and dryer.
• Disinfect light switches, outlets and door knobs.
• Clean air vents and wash registers.
• Change air conditioner and furnace filters.
• Dust and wipe down ceiling fans.
• Wash doors, walls and trim thoroughly.
• Touch up paint.
• Remove scuff marks from floors and doors.
• Disinfect electronic devices like cellphones and remote controls.
• Deep clean all flooring.
With spring fever comes spring cleaning, and the ultimate spring cleaning checklist by room is here to help you clean out the old and make room for the new. These important maintenance tasks and cleaning responsibilities let you transition into spring without a care in the world!
While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.
Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:
- They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures.
By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.
- They exercise.
Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.
- They spend money on other people.
Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.
- They surround themselves with the right people.
Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.
- They stay positive.
Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.
- They get enough sleep.
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.
- They have deep conversations.
Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.
- They help others.
Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.
- They make an effort to be happy.
No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.
- They have a growth mindset.
People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
In summary…. happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Adopting even a few of the habits from this list will be sure to make a big difference in your mood.
Remodeling your bathroom can make your home appear more valuable to prospective buyers. But be careful. Here are four common mistakes homeowners make when DIY upgrading the bathroom.
- Not taking ventilation into account
We know you’ve realized the importance of the bathroom fan if you’ve ever been in a bind when guests are over … Well, we’ll spare you the details. We know you get the whiff — uh, drift. It can be easy to forget about the fan when remodeling, though. Even if you’re not replacing the fan, be sure to clean your old one.
- Lying to yourself about your budget
Judging by your bathroom remodeling Pinterest board, you’ve got a lot of great ideas. But are they practical? Realistic? For example, can you afford that rain-simulating, foot-wide shower head? Separate fantasy from reality by being honest with yourself about what you can actually afford.
Pro tip: Something that’s easy to forget about when renovating your bathroom is your water bill. Yeah. Think about it. You’re going to be doing all this testing for your new appliances, running a lot of water — a lot more than usual. That means your bill’s going to be a lot higher. Be sure to factor that into your budget.
- Being too confident
Listen, we’re sure you’re the best DIYer there is. You made your baby’s crib from old dining tables you found at garage sales, and you’ve grated down all your old soap bars into potpourri. We get it. But it takes a strong person to know when to ask for help. If upgrading your bathroom is turning out to be a bigger DIY job than you thought it would be, call a professional.
The bulk of your time is spent visualizing your future beautiful bathroom, and most of your energy is spent gathering materials. You may spend a week or two in your paint-covered overalls, taking selfies in your demolished bathroom, effectively making it look like you’re working. But we know the truth.
You’ve gotten bored with the project, but your deadline is approaching, so you start throwing things together. You start doing a bad job. Poor construction can bring down your property value, for one. And a crappy bathroom (no pun intended) won’t make your house seem all that inviting to prospective homebuyers.
Put a deadline on visualization and material gathering, and make sure you have enough time to properly complete your bathroom and check to make sure there were no mistakes.
Need more remodeling advice? Reach out to us anytime. We’re here to help.
Thinking of selling your home? Here’s a recent testimonial that we were happy to receive from sellers who sold their 5th West Chester property with us in 2016:
Dear Gomez Real Estate Team:
We cannot thank you enough for the Herculean efforts you made to make sure this sale actually took place. You did it all with such competence, good humor and determination to handle every single unexpected event which arose. In our entire real estate life we cannot think of anyone who has had to work harder to overcome more obstacles on our behalf than you. It has been a pleasure to deal with you… and something we will surely remember.
Many, Many Thanks,
L & L
We would be happy to put our Herculean efforts to work for you, too!
Introducing our newest team member, Margaret Coleman! Many of you may know Margaret from her past years as a mortgage officer and as the owner as her own mortgage business. She’s now joined the Gomez Real Estate Team and we couldn’t be more excited to have her! Please join us in wishing Margaret a warm welcome!
Homes that are decorated according to classic tastes and today’s trends are more likely to be purchased. But redesigning your home to meet your dream standards can be expensive.
Here are five tips for decorating your “champagne” home on a “beer” budget.
Rather than adding a bunch of new furniture or upgraded fixtures to a space, you can apply a fresh coat of new paint to give it a brand-new feel. You can paint all your walls one color or you can mix things up a little. With paint you can: paint an accent wall, paint a pattern onto the wall, create a mural, paint an accent ceiling, or paint the doors and trim while leaving the walls white.
- Forget Brand Names
You can save a ton of money by buying some not-so-new furniture outside the walls of traditional furniture stores. You can purchase furniture and accessories for a fraction of the retail price within a five-mile radius of you at places like garage sales, yard sales, thrift stores, estate sales and online auctions. Tip: You can save even more money if you know how to haggle! Put those negotiation skills to good use!
- Follow The Current DIY Trends
Now’s your chance to make all your Pinterest board dreams come true. Rather than calling in experts and paying them hundreds or even thousands of dollars, you can upgrade your light fixtures, floor boards, door bells and appliances yourself to give your home that champagne feel.
- Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose
Use your creative skills to reinvent some of your yard sale finds or repurpose some of the items you already own into new treasures. Examples of reusing old items for a new purpose include: using an old window shutter as mail organizer, make a functional coffee table out of an old trunk, hang an old wooden ladder to create a shadowbox-like shelf or place to hang personal photos. Use your imagination!
- Have A Yard Sale Of Your Own
You can make room in your home and in your budget by selling some of your old clothes, furniture pieces, games or DVDs. A yard or garage sale is a fun way to remove unwanted clutter. You could also ask your customers what they plan to do with the items they purchase to get ideas on how you can upgrade your home.
If you need more ideas on how you can make your home more inviting to prospective homebuyers, reach out to us with questions.
Ever stare at your energy bill and wonder what is costing you so much money? Is it your kids’ TV habits, or the washer or the dryer that is running up your energy bills? While your initial guess might be right — yes, your furnace and air conditioners are the biggest culprits of energy usage — you might be surprised by the amount of energy some of your smaller, everyday appliances are using.
1. Your Cable Box
While everyone has their never-ending list of must-binge TV shows, could you ever imagine that the cable box alone is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home? Whether or not you are watching TV, it is still using energy. A digital recorder estimates that the cable box in your home costs around $8 per month. Surprisingly enough, even if you have your box turned off, it’s still using energy. TIP: Make a habit of unplugging your box at night; just don’t forget to plug it back in when you’re trying to watch TV again.
2. Gaming System
Second to the cable box comes the gaming system. While gaming systems are pretty energy-efficient these days, avid gamers spend approximately $40 extra per year on energy bills. TIP: Cut back gaming time.
3. Washer and Dryer
While some might think that paying $1.00 for a load of laundry at a Laundromat is expensive, the average homeowner spends around $400 per year just to keep their clothes clean and dry. A lot more than you thought, right? TIP: Since cutting back on the amount of laundry you do isn’t the most efficient solution, try using energy-efficient appliances instead. While they may seem to present a pricey upfront cost, they will be well worth it in the long term. Upgrade your appliances to newer models for more savings in the long term. Also, try washing your clothes in cold water. To dry your clothes, add a dry towel to the load to absorb some of the moisture along the way, and cut the drying time in half.
4. Computers and Wi-Fi
In the technologically advanced world of today, computers and internet access are pretty much essential to daily life. While you’re mindlessly searching the internet, answering emails and shopping online, it might quickly slip your mind how much you are spending to keep that connection going.
The use of computers and the internet costs on average $50 to $70 per year, which greatly varies depending on the number of users and what they are doing. Heavy video use and increased time online can all greatly increase this number. For individuals whose work relies on a computer and a strong internet connection, this number is likely much higher. TIP: How many times do you really need to view that video of the baby panda bears?
These are only a few of the appliances that raise your monthly bill — some more surprising than others. It’s good to be mindful of your energy usage and keep it in control to maintain your energy costs.
In 2017, your house could have a higher IQ than you do! Here are the five smart home technologies to watch for in 2017:
It can be a constant struggle to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. You want it to be cool in the summer without feeling like you’re living in a refrigerator, and you want it to be warm in the winter without feeling like you’re cooking yourself. We understand you, and we feel like these are pretty reasonable requests.
New Wi-Fi-connected thermostats can sync up with most HVAC systems and adjust the temperature in your home automatically. This not only keeps your home at a Goldilocks just-right atmosphere, but it also saves you money on your electric bill in the long run.
We know that when the Roomba was first introduced, everyone freaked out and bought one — and then were swiftly disappointed when it didn’t meet their Jetsons expectations. We’re here to resuscitate your hope, sci-fi lovers. The Roomba’s latest model is cleaning out the competition. The Roomba 980 connects to your Wi-Fi and is remote-controllable through an app on your smartphone.
Uh-oh, your in-laws say they’re on their way over to your house, but you’re still at work and didn’t have time to clean up before you left this morning? No problem. Power your Roomba from your desk and tidy up without even lifting a finger. Well, almost.
We know what you’re thinking because we thought the same thing: Why do your lights need to be connected to the internet? That seems a little excessive.
OK, hear us out: Not only are your lights controllable from your iPhone or Android, but you can also schedule when you want your lights to turn on and off, or alter the brightness or color to set the mood. In seconds, your home can go from nightclub to nighttime. We think smart light bulbs are a bright idea.
Smart alarms are the smarter, safer option for your home. Because your alarm is connected to the internet, it can alert you if it’s been triggered even when you’re not home. Oh, sure, it might have just been Fluffy setting off the motion sensor and causing a false commotion. Or it could be a burglar. Thanks to your smart alarm, you can stay away and out of harm’s way.
Keys are so 2016. Go ahead and start making jewelry out of them because they’re going to obsolete with this new technology: smart locks, the way of the future.
Imagine being able to unlock your front door from your car, using your phone. You’ll never have to juggle your keys and your groceries to get into your home ever again. Wait — did you forget to lock the front door? Now that question doesn’t have to plague you during the workday. You can just get on your smart lock app and lock your door remotely.
Setting up your home with the latest technologies is a great way to make it more marketable to potential home buyers. If you need any further advice on what you can do to make your home more enticing, give us a ring.
It can be stressful to live your life as usual but keep your home looking its best. There are a few simple changes you can employ in your messiest spaces to improve your home’s overall tidiness. These are the main places to consider:
The Junk Drawer
Ah, the infamous junk drawer. Its very existence is proof that if there is a void, it will be filled. Isaac Newton said that. (Not really.) But seriously, the sentiment behind the junk drawer is just that: Sometimes you need batteries or paperclips or earbuds to have a place of their own, but they’re so random. They don’t seem to belong anywhere.
The junk drawer only becomes a problem when you start cramming things in there without stopping to consider whether those things will be valuable in the future. Bread ties? Bottle caps? Receipts? Maybe those things are better off with the actual junk — in the trash can.
Go through your junk drawer and figure out which items can be disposed of. Once you have your miscellaneous items selected, you can organize what you’re keeping in a series of fun ways:
Bundle your earbuds or loose cables with ribbon.
Use a silverware divider to organize your things.
Purchase a series of small boxes or containers and label them.
The Laundry Room
The laundry room is a kind of strange purgatory in your home where socks go to get lost and lint goes to live. It’s a room where things happen, but not one where people go to hang out, so it often gets neglected.
It might be best to include your laundry room in your cleaning regimen. Add wiping down your washer and dryer to your list of things to do. Don’t forget to sweep and mop in there.
If you’re doing what you can to clean the flat surfaces in your laundry room, then it stands to reason that clutter — from objects like clothes or sports gear — will not collect in that space.
The Craft Closet
If your life were a soap opera, the craft closet would be the junk drawer’s (more) evil twin. You need a space for all your paints, yarn and tools — as well as a space for all the items that you hope to eventually use for those DIY projects.
To get the craft closet under control, this is our first piece of advice: Don’t buy or acquire anything that you don’t have time to craft in the very near future. We’re talking about a week, at most.
If you start to collect garage sale chairs or mirrors or window shutters with the intention of fixing and refinishing them but you don’t have the time to do it, then your craft closet will eventually become a craft room. It will eventually become a craft graveyard. Just wait until you have time to craft before adding anything to the collection.
You can easily organize your crafting tools into a manageable configuration using simple containers. Clear bins can simultaneously help you Tetris your tools into your closet while keeping them in sight, so that you know where everything is.
You can also purchase some decorative boxes that reflect your own creativity and then label them for their contents. You could even break out your hand-lettering skills for the task. You could also repurpose a shoe carousel or shoe rack to hold your paintbrushes, yarn, etc.
Tidying up your home is just one of the many ways you can make it more appealing to prospective home-buyers. For more information on how you can improve your home, you can ask us.
From everyone here at the Gomez Real Estate Team, we sincerely hope that you all enjoy the upcoming holidays with your close friends and family. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, we hope your holiday is merry and bright, and we send our warmest wishes for a wonderful New Year in 2017!
It’s still the holiday season, but some of us are already looking forward to springtime and making plans to spruce up our properties when the warmer weather arrives. Curb appeal is the first impression that anyone who visits your home receives, so you should ensure that the front of your home, from the curb to the facade of the house itself, is in the best shape it can be in — even if you don’t have the budget to splurge on huge upgrades and services.
With these easy and cost-effective suggestions, you can improve the curb appeal of your home, while giving yourself a lovelier residence to enjoy right now. To help your home look its best:
Paint your front door
Giving your front door a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for the overall appeal of your house. Make sure that it’s a color that contrasts with the color of the main body of the house, so that it pops out more than it would otherwise. This makes a home feel more welcoming, not to mention more stylish and appealing.
Spice up your front porch
After painting your door, don’t neglect your front porch! Add small, inexpensive luxuries like metal house numbers or other decorations. Make sure everything is spotless as well. Sparkling windows and a freshly swept porch make for a more welcoming home, and a more welcoming home often sells far more easily.
Get your lawn in order
Tidying up your lawn is a given. Making sure it’s spick-and-span, regardless of the season, is a great way to improve your curb appeal without spending much money — or any money at all! An unkempt lawn can make the house seem less appealing overall, so keep your lawn mowed and edged for a more professional appearance. Also try to ensure that weeds are pulled. The healthier the lawn looks, the healthier the whole house looks.
Having a garden with flowers can really make a home stand out. The pops of color can improve even the most immaculately manicured lawn, and a healthy garden can make any house feel more welcoming to anyone. It’s an inexpensive way to improve your home’s overall aesthetic, and can also give you a brand-new hobby.
Touch up your driveway
Even superficial flaws such as driveway cracks can really sour someone’s opinion of an otherwise beautiful house. And a smoother driveway is easier on your car’s tires and suspension.
Hose off the front of your home and sidewalks
No need to buy a pressure washer — your standard garden hose is usually sufficient to get most of the gunk and grime off your house.
We’re all busy shopping this season, and more and more of that shopping is being done online. How to be sure you’re shopping online safely? Here are a few tips:
1. Patch security vulnerabilities in your devices. Install Operating System updates to patch security vulnerabilities and enhance the performance of your computers and devices. Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in your devices to obtain your personal and financial information. Don’t allow it. If you need help performing these updates, please give us a call. We’ll walk you through the necessary steps.
2. Ensure your Anti-Virus, Malware and Ransomware protection is operating optimally. Before transmitting personal and financial information online, be sure your protection software is performing well. All these security measures running in the background are important to safeguard your well-earned money and identity.
3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi when shopping or banking. Don’t transmit any personal or financial information, such as passwords, credit card info, etc., when using a public Wi-Fi. Unsecure connections are just too risky.
4. Shop trusted merchants. Carefully read the merchant’s Shipping fees, Delivery and Return policies and other Terms and Conditions prior to purchasing goods or services. Read the item’s description and, if possible, also research merchant and product reviews as well.
5. Research less-known merchants. Sometimes that unique, amazing item is listed in a one-of-a-kind website. Before being hasty, research the store’s physical address and telephone number as well as their reputation. Assess the risk of the unknown before going forward.
6. Ensure a secure payment page. Be sure the merchant uses a secure connection on the payment page by using https:// in their URL and/or the image of a lock.
7. Be extra diligent about possible fraud on online classifieds ads sites such as Craigslist. Scammers can be very sophisticated in their con. They may even create dummy Google Checkout websites to take your money without delivering the product. Verify the legitimacy of the seller, the product and the method of payment before you pay. Read more about this topic here.
8. Be alert for phishing scams. Pop-ups for sites that you are not actively visiting may be the work of cybercriminals. The pop-ups could be of familiar ‘Banks’ or ‘Virus Checks.’ If you did not initiate contact with these companies, don’t give out your personal data or download anything. If you have any questions about the security on your devices, give us a call. Learn more about phishing scams here.
9. Use your credit card, instead of your debit card. Typically, it is easier to dispute the charge on a credit card than a debit card. It is also harder to get a refund on a debit card.
10. Monitor your bank and credit card statements. Save your receipts and compare them to your credit card and bank statements regularly. Report any questionable charges to the issuer of the card.
(Article courtesy of our local Suburban West Realtors Association)
The price for Ed’s listing at 650 Summit House in West Chester has just been adjusted to $159,000! Don’t miss this 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath condominium with balcony and views!
We all worry about getting the best possible mortgage rate when we apply for a mortgage to purchase a home. While obviously the rates in large part are outside of our personal control, here are a few tips you can use for getting the best mortgage rate for your particular situation:
Shop around. Different lenders can offer drastically different rates. It is best to explore options at your regular bank and other banks and local credit unions. A larger down payment can increase your options as far as loan types.
Know the differences between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages.There are two common types of mortgages: fixed rate and adjustable rate. A fixed-rate mortgage will have the same interest rate for the life of the loan — the only way to change it is to refinance. An adjustable-rate loan, on the other hand, will fluctuate along with the market rate. These loans usually begin with a fixed-rate introductory period, usually one to 10 years, and then will change based on the bank’s interest rate index. Typically, these rates will be based on the prime interest rate plus a certain constant percentage.
Which type of interest rate is better? Adjustable-rate mortgages can be appealing since they can have very low introductory interest rates, but if you choose to go this route, prepare yourself for the possibility of a rate increase after the introductory period expires. If interest rates are fairly low at the time, a fixed-rate loan can be a good idea. When interest rates are low, a future increase is very likely. Alternatively, if interest rates are high, most people will expect them to drop in the future. When this happens, you might want to consider refinancing or you will end up paying an interest rate that is higher than the current market rate.
Maximize your credit score. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate will be on your mortgage. One important part of this is paying off debt. Your debt-to-income ratio is an important factor in determining your mortgage interest rate.
Decide whether you want to pay for points. Buying a point — usually by paying a fee of 1 percent — will lower your long-term interest rate by a set amount — usually 0.125 percent. This may seem like a very small amount, but it can add up over the life of the loan. If you are planning to keep your home for a long time, paying for points can be a solid financial strategy. Average homeowners, however, will live in their home for nine years. On this shorter horizon, the upfront cost will usually be greater than the long-term interest rate savings. If you aren’t sure how long you will live in the home, it is usually best to skip paying for points.
You might also be presented with the option to select negative points. This is exactly what it sounds like — a higher long-term interest rate but lower upfront fees. Carefully weigh your options before settling on a strategy.
Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a seasoned veteran in homeownership, there are a few home maintenance tasks that all homeowners should master in order to keep their home in tip-top shape. Use these seven tasks as a general guide:
Clean the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink. It is widely agreed upon that the best way to keep your garbage disposal blades clean and sharp is to run vinegar ice cubes through it. This easy task can eliminate odors as well as maintain your garbage disposal unit, keeping your kitchen clean and functional.
Check fire safety equipment. Test the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors every six months. If you ever need either one, you’ll be glad you kept them both well-maintained. At the same time, you should check to make sure that your fire extinguisher is easily accessible and not nearing its expiration date.
Inspect/replace HVAC filters. Your furnace and air conditioner units play a vital role in keeping your home comfortable during all seasons. Keeping the filters clean and free of pet hair, dust and debris can go a long way toward prolonging the life of your HVAC units. This simple task can mean the difference between a quick fix and a costly repair down the road.
Vacuum the dust-collecting parts of your major appliances. Vacuuming your dryer’s exhaust duct each year can prolong the life of your dryer. Same for the coils underneath your refrigerator. Trapped dust can result in trapped heat, leading to energy inefficiency and decreased life expectancy.
Test your garage door sensors. If you have a garage door, it is important to make sure the auto-reverse feature is in working order. This feature can keep your garage door from being damaged — or damaging any of your personal property, family members or pets.
Clean the gutters around your home. If your home has gutters, it is important to keep them clean and free of debris, especially during the rainy season. Standing water can create all kinds of problems. It can damage your home as well as provide a breeding ground for insects. Keeping your gutters clean will ensure that they are draining properly at all times.
Keep up with landscaping. In addition to improving your home’s curb appeal, clearing away dead plants or shrubs on a regular basis can help you notice any issues early on. Also, make sure to check for any dead or dying limbs that overhang power lines, parking spots or your roof. Clearing away dead limbs before they become a problem can minimize stress down the road.
Keeping up with a few simple tasks can mean the difference between a routine repair and a costly replacement. Taking these steps can maintain the value of your home.
Today we take a moment to remember and appreciate the thousands of men and women who have risked their lives for our country. To all the military personnel, veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much, we extend our gratitude. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you have given to our great country.
We can expect a hot year for home sales in 2017, according to recent forecasts from the National Association of REALTORS®, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and more.
NAR is predicting existing-home sales to reach 6 million in 2017, higher than its 5.8 million forecast for this year. But other entities are even more bullish. MBA is predicting home sales to eclipse 6.5 million next year, while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are both predicting 6.2 million.
A huge wave of Generation Y-ers, who have delayed home buying, are emerging into their key buying years. They are predicted to keep home sales and condo sales strong well into 2020, according to economists.
The top markets for price appreciation likely will be in Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Denver, Colo.; and Boston, predicts Eric Fox, vice president of statistical and economic modeling at VeroForecast. These markets’ robust economies have growing populations but a tight supply of homes for sale on the market that will likely lead to some of the largest price increases across the country.
Meanwhile, new-home construction starts likely will tick up to about 1.5 million per year to 2024, predicts Forisk Research.
Home builders likely will continue to be more subdued, despite calls for more inventory. “Home builders behavior likely is a continuing echo of their experience during the crash,” Pantheon Macro Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson told MarketWatch. “No one wants to be caught with excess inventory during a sudden downshift in demand. In this cycle, the pursuit of market share and volumes is less important than profitability and balance sheet resistance.”
Source: “Home Sales Expected to Increase Nicely in 2017,” Keeping Current Matters (Sept. 29, 2016) and “U.S. Housing Market Forecast – Strong 2017 to 2020,” GordinCollins.com (Sept. 24, 2016)
Getting ready to sell your home? One of the easiest home improvements to get buyers’ attention is a fresh coat of paint. It’s a cost-effective fix that will make your home look updated, which can translate to increased value. Here are a few expert tips from Dunn-Edwards Paints on choosing interior colors that appeal to buyers:
Don’t Go All White or Beige: It’s true that you want to make your home appealing to the widest possible audience when you are selling, but going strictly white might make your house end up looking more utilitarian than stylish. Stick to earth tones and nature-based colors like warm browns and milky tans (think latte). Light greens and blues are classy, and warm grays are popular now. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade can also add a designer look.
Take the Flooring Into Consideration: Lay color chips on the floor to see how they pair-warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood, whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may warrant other colors.
Focus on Key Rooms: Don’t want to spend the next few weeks painting your entire home? Don’t worry – you don’t have to. Focus your painting efforts on the rooms that will have the most impact – the kitchen and baths. In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular, and olive and sage greens can make it feel garden-y and fresh. Bathrooms (and the laundry room) can tolerate brighter colors because they’re smaller.
Kris’s latest listing at 4 Bellbrook Drive in West Chester was active on the market for ONE DAY before it went under contract! Let us know if you’re interested in speaking to one of our team members about listing and selling your own property with similar results!
Mike has just listed 318 Nottingham Drive in Spring City’s popular “Barton Meadows”, a former model home with lots of amenities, 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 powder rooms, a terrific finished walk out basement, front and back stairs, an impressive two story entry foyer, central vacuum, 3 car garage, security system and efficient geothermal heating. We’ll be holding a Sunday Open House at this home on October 16h, hope you can join us!
We wish everyone a safe and happy Labor Day! According to the US Department of Labor, the day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” Enjoy everyone!
News flash: the price for our listing at 7 Surrey Lane in Downingtown has just been adjusted from $325,000 down to $309,900! This 4 bedroom, 2/1 bath colonial sits on a peaceful 1.6 acre wooded lot with in-ground pool, 350 SF sun room addition and a location near Marsh Creek State Park in award-winning Downingtown schools. Please contact us for more information — call Kris at (484) 433-8001 or email email@example.com!
There are many reasons why our team is happy to be at Coldwell Banker Preferred, it’s an incredible company with so many benefits to us and our clients. One thing that makes a big difference to our sellers is our wide reaching Internet presence for our listings. Our Internet advertising program sends our listings out to over 725 websites! No other real estate company has a stronger Internet presence, and since 92% of all buyers find their homes online that’s more important than ever. Of course there are lots of other reasons why we believe we stand out among the other real estate agents and companies out there… give us a call today to find out what we can do to help you get your home sold for more money in less time.
We wish all of the fathers a Happy Father’s Day this weekend, and hope you are able to celebrate with family and friends!
As you take time to enjoy this Memorial Day weekend with friends and family, please remember that the holiday isn’t just the beginning of summer. It’s a very special opportunity to honor the many men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our great nation. Every single day they ensure that we all experience freedom. Let’s remember to thank them and honor them for their unwavering service to America.
Here at the Kris Gomez Real Estate Team, we love dogs! Pets play an important role in our emotional connection to the place we call ‘Home’, so we’re happy that Coldwell Banker is extending its successful Homes For Dogs Project into 2016. Last year the project found homes for more than 20,000 dogs as various Coldwell Banker offices partnered with local shelters and rescue groups through their association with Adopt-a-Pet.com.
In 2015 Coldwell Banker’s ‘Homes Best Friend’ commercial (link below) was rated the highest performing ad in the real estate industry!
We had a great time at the Coldwell Banker Preferred Awards Ceremony on Tuesday night, where our team was recognized for earning the President’s Circle Team Award for 2015. Here are a few photos of our fun evening at the Hilton Hotel – City Avenue. And congratulations to all of the Coldwell Banker Preferred award winners!
Four of our listings will be open this Sunday, March 13th, from 1-3PM! Please join us at 202 Whispering Brooke Drive in Newtown Square, or 209 Jacqueline Drive in West Chester, 1100 Cotswold Lane in West Chester, or 470 Lake George Circle, which is also in West Chester. We hope to see some of you on Sunday! The spring market has arrived!
Also beginning is the spring real estate market! If you’re thinking of buying or selling this spring, it’s time to start making your plans. Give us a call if we can help you make the right move!
Ed Gomez likes to cook and he also likes these Mexican style chicken wings for Super Bowl food!
1 cup purchased ranch salad dressing
1 (4.5-oz.) can Old El Paso™ Chopped Green Chiles
½ cup Pillsbury BEST® All-Purpose Flour
1 (1-oz.) pkg. Old El Paso™ Taco Seasoning Mix
2 teaspoons oil
24 chicken drummettes or chicken wings (about 2 lb.)
Dried parsley flakes
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with foil. In blender container, combine salad dressing and chiles; cover and blend until smooth.
Spoon into small serving bowl. Refrigerate while making drummettes.
In shallow dish, combine flour and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Stir in oil with fork until well blended. Coat drummettes with flour mixture. Coat drummettes again to use up flour mixture. Place on sprayed cookie sheet.
Bake at 350°F. for 15 minutes. Turn drummettes; bake an additional 14 to 17 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender and juices run clear. Sprinkle parsley flakes on salad dressing mixture; serve as dip with warm drummettes.
Enjoy and root for your favorite team!
Are you ready for Super Bowl 2016? This Sunday, February 7th, the Denver Broncos meet the Carolina Panthers for the 50th Super Bowl. The game airs at 6:35PM Eastern Time on CBS, and if you’re like most people we know you’re probably getting ready to eat and drink your way through the game. Here are some recipes in case you’re looking for some variety……
There are lots of ways to make guacamole, but they all start with mashed ripe avocado. To that you can add to taste 1) red onion, diced tomato, diced serrano chili peppers, garlic, lime juice and salt — if you want it spicy, or 2) minced jalapeno, crumbled blue cheese, crumbled bacon, lime juice and salt — if you want it loaded like a baked potato, or 3) pureed thawed frozen green peas, lime juice, minced pickled jalapeno, minced garlic and salt — if you want it “light”.
Chips piled with various toppings are always popular game food. Traditional nachos start with tortilla chips and toppings including cooked ground beef or pork, shredded pepper jack cheese, sliced chili peppers, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. But you can switch things up and make 1) seafood nachos with tortilla chips, cooked shrimp, shredded crabmeat, pepper jack cheese, diced red and green bell peppers, guacamole, pickled jalapenos and pineapple-mango salsa, or 2) greek nachos with pita chips, red pepper hummus, cooked ground lamb, red onion, tzatziki sauce, crumbled feta cheese, black olives, diced tomato, diced cucumber and parsley, or 3) pork galore nachos with tortilla chips, monteray jack cheese, pulled pork, crumbled bacon, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and cilantro.
Try making your own instead of buying it! Start with refrigerated pizza dough, top it with pizza sauce and add 1) for Mexican pizza – pepper jack cheese, cooked chorizo sausage, carnitas, red onion, guacamole, sour cream and cilantro, or 2) for mushroom pizza – shredded italian cheese blend, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and parsley, or 3) for something completely different – sauteed shredded brussel sprouts, crumbled bacon, diced shallots and shredded gruyere cheese.
Enjoy the game and the half-time show!
The event was held at the relatively new Fillmore in Philadelphia, what a choice for the venue! We heard some powerful speakers, had a delicious breakfast courtesy of our title company affiliate Keystone Title, networked with other agents from the different offices in our company, and came away with tons of motivation to do an even better job for our clients in 2016! The spring market starts now, and we are definitely ready!
One of our team members has received several different phone calls from someone claiming to be from “The IRS.” Luckily, she knew these calls were a scam and hung up. However, many unlucky folks have unfortunately fallen victim to this sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers throughout the country.
Here’s how it works — The caller identifies him or herself as being with the IRS. They tell you that you owe back taxes and have to pay the money immediately through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Refuse and you’re threatened with arrest, deportation or the suspension of your business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. And if you give the caller your credit card information, they’ll use it to transfer your money into their own pocket.
This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. Rest assured, the IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling. Almost every legitimate contact with the IRS starts with a letter.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
Scammers can spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. The IRS can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.
If you’ve already been targeted by this scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. If you get an email claiming to be from IRS, don’t open any attachments and don’t click on any of the links. Instead, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS also won’t text you or contact you via social media. And, no real IRS official would ever ask for your PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
Your home is a reflection of what’s important to you. Ideally, it’s a place that energizes you and serves as a restful base. No matter what the size of your home, it should be functional and comfortable, so having what you need is essential. What you choose to keep is about living well and controlling how you spend your time and resources.
If you’re planning to downsize, you will likely need to cut down on your possessions to some extent, and this is a great opportunity to take a look at how closely what you have lines up with what you want. Downsizing can help you free yourself from stuff that you may not even remember you have. Evaluating your needs is a way of checking in with yourself and something that we often don’t take time for.
As you prepare for a move to a smaller home, keep these tips in mind:
Give yourself time: You know your schedule and how much organizing you’ll need to do; be sure to start well ahead of time. Many experts recommend 3 months.
Take inventory and assess your needs: Make sure there’s a purpose for everything you have, and that you’ve taken the time to inventory the items you’ll want to bring with you on your new adventure.
Cut back: Eliminate duplicates and get rid of things that have been stored for years. If it’s broken or stained, get rid of it. Categorize items: things to keep, sell, and give away. Get an appraisal on high value items. If you’re keeping something to give to someone “someday,” do it now! Your new friends: Ebay, Freecycle, 1-800-got-junk, Craigslist.
Look for storage options: Always look for quality over quantity. Furniture that does double duty as storage is excellent for smaller spaces. Consider ottomans that open for storage, and chests and tables with drawers or storage areas. Don’t go out and buy a lot of plastic storage containers! Just more clutter.
Measure your furniture: Before the move, measure all of the furniture you plan to take, to insure that it will fit the new space. This will help you decide on whether to keep different pieces.
Move large items first: As the move commences, start with the large pieces and get them situated in the space. This gives you an accurate idea of how much space you’ll have for smaller items, and may lead you to eliminate more stuff. Try not to bring things along to “sort out later.” Later can be very elusive, as you know.
Whatever the circumstances may be that are leading you to downsize, it can be a very positive time. Reduce the stress you may feel by giving yourself time and listening to yourself. Be realistic about your needs, but don’t deprive yourself. Your home should be a comfort, so if you really need that painting that you did in 8th grade, by all means bring it with you! And remember, The Kris Gomez Real Estate Team can help you accomplish your move to a smaller home. We can even recommend organizing services that specialize in assisting with this kind of a move, so please call if we can help in any way!
You won’t want to miss Kris’s latest listing at 294 Cotswold Lane in West Chester’s popular “Canterbury” development. Here you’ll find casual elegance, gracious living, classic design… a warm and inviting 4 bedroom, 2/2 bath home with finished walk out lower level and inground pool. It’s a beauty, and it’s in a prime location too! Listed at $518,900 this home is waiting for your tour!
Ed has just listed 93 Knollwood Court in Aston’s “Ballinahinch”, with 2 bedrooms, 1/1 baths and a finished lower level with family room. The rear deck overlooks peaceful wooded views, and the home will be open this Saturday, September 19th, from 1PM to 3PM. This townhome is in move-in condition! Don’t miss it!
Won’t you join us for our Sunday Open House this weekend at 922 Craftsman Lane in Norristown’s desirable “Regents Park”? This delightful townhome features 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a full basement, many updates including the roof, HVAC system and windows, plus low HOA fees and utility costs. Priced at $159,900 this light and bright townhome is so affordable!
We often hear talk about reverse mortgages, there are television ads about them and they are often advertised in the print media. But what exactly is a reverse mortgage? How do you know if you qualify for one? When should homeowners consider a reverse mortgage?
What Is a Reverse Mortgage?
First of all, a reverse mortgage is a loan available only to homeowners who are age 62 or older. A lender agrees to pay you an amount each month based upon a portion of the equity in your home. Each month, you receive a payment based on this amount. As long as the borrower remains in the home, the loan doesn’t have to be repaid. However, when the borrower moves from the home, the loan must be repaid. Typically, the home is sold and the proceeds repay the loan.
Who Might Benefit From a Reverse Mortgage?
Reverse mortgages are available to people age 62 or older for a reason: many of them face high medical bills. Some people facing terminal or chronic illnesses have only the equity in their homes as their primary asset. For these people, a reverse mortgage may provide the cash needed to pay outstanding medical bills — while letting them remain in their homes.
Reverse mortgage payments, according to the Federal Trade Commission, do not affect Social Security or Medicare coverage. You can still receive both even if you are tapping into a loan based on your home’s equity.
What Are the Drawbacks of Reverse Mortgages?
Banks need to make money off of the transaction, so they charge fees and interest for reverse mortgages. These amounts are added to the loan amount; consequently, when the final repayment is due, it may be considerable. Additionally, the interest rate is variable instead of fixed. Over time, rising interest rates may add greatly to the cost of a reverse mortgage.
Because you’ll still own the title to your home, you’re responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. Bills for repairs must be paid and the home must be kept in good condition to satisfy the loan.
How Does a Reverse Mortgage Impact Estate Planning?
When the borrower dies, some reverse mortgages allow the surviving spouse to remain in the property without penalty. Others do not. It’s important to check the fine print to make sure your spouse isn’t going to be left homeless after you pass away.
If you’re single, divorced or widowed, your estate must repay the entire cost of the loan, including the accumulated interest. Usually the home must be sold to cover these costs. If you are hoping to leave your home to someone, a reverse mortgage may make that impossible.
There are several types of reverse mortgages, each with its own rules and requirements. Be sure to read everything in the documents presented to you by the lender and discuss the situation with your spouse and a financial professional. Reverse mortgages offer financial relief to some, nightmares to others. Consider your options and choose wisely.
Look! We’ve just listed 1115 Overhill Drive in Downingtown, a spacious 3-4 bedroom, 2/1 bath ranch home on 1.4 acres in the Chester County countryside. This home features a 2 car garage, lovely lot, finished lower level and overlooks a beautiful view. For more information call Mike Gomez at 610-357-4842 or email Mike at email@example.com!
Today Kris had a closing with clients who have worked with her before. When asked about their experience with Kris and her team, here’s what they had to say……. “A+++++! As always, Kris is the consummate professional. We will always work with her!” That says it all.
Ed has just listed 311 Luke Court in “Rose Hill”, an immaculately maintained 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath condo with vaulted ceilings, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, bright open floor plan and lots of features including a double-sided gas fireplace, 42″ kitchen cabinets and more. Please call Ed today at 484-614-0977 for more info or a personal showing!
Daylight savings time returns as of 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 8th. This gives us an extra hour of daylight in the evening for the coming (hopefully much warmer) months.
Spring will officially begin on Friday, March 20th!
Most experts would advise that the best way to increase your odds of a successful sale is to price your home at fair market value. But, as logical as this advice sounds, for many sellers it is still tempting to tack a few percentage points onto the price to “leave room to negotiate”. To avoid this temptation, let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins of overpricing:
1. Appraisal Problems
Even if you do find a buyer willing to pay an inflated price, the fact is over 90% of buyers use some kind of financing to pay for their home purchase. If your home won’t appraise for the purchase price the sale will likely fail.
2. No Showings
Today’s sophisticated home buyers are well educated about the real estate market. If your home is overpriced they won’t bother looking at it, let alone make you an offer.
3. Branding Problems
When a new listing hits the market, every agent quickly checks the property out to see if it’s a good fit for their clients. If your home is branded as “overpriced”, reigniting interest may take drastic measures.
4. Selling the Competition
Overpricing helps your competition. How? You make their lower prices seem like bargains. Nothing is worse than watching your neighbors put up a sold sign.
The longer your home sits on the market, the more likely it is to become stigmatized or stale. Have you ever seen a property that seems to be perpetually for sale? Do you ever wonder – What’s wrong with that house?
6. Tougher Negotiations
Buyers who do view your home may negotiate harder because the home has been on the market for a longer period of time and because it is overpriced compared to the competition.
7. Lost Opportunities
You will lose a percentage of buyers who are outside of your price point. These are buyers who are looking in the price range that the home will eventually sell for but don’t see the home because the price is above their pre-set budget.
Most buyers look at 10-15 homes before making a buying decision. Because of this, setting a competitive price relative to the competition is an essential component to a successful marketing strategy.
(The above was originally published by Trulia.com)
When the electricity suddenly goes out, having a portable generator keeps your home (or at least parts of it) powered up. If you’re tempted to buy one, follow these tips from the National Fire Protection Association:
Choose a generator that produces enough power to run the combination of lighting, appliances and equipment you absolutely need, including the initial surge when it is turned on. The labels on your appliances and HVAC equipment will tell you how much power it takes to run those devices. For lamps, go with the light bulb wattage.
If your generator doesn’t produce enough power to run everything you want to run, plan to stagger the operating times for various equipment.
WARNING: If your equipment draws more power than the generator can produce, you could blow a fuse on the generator or damage the connected equipment. If you can’t figure out how much power you’ll need, hire an electrician to determine that for you.
Only Use Outside
Never run a portable generator indoors, including inside a garage. The carbon monoxide produced by the generator can kill you. Install one or more carbon monoxide (CO) alarms inside your home.
Let The Generator Cool Before Refueling
Store generator fuel in an approved safety can. Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator.
Store generator fuel outside in a locked shed or other protected area. Don’t store fuel in your garage, basement or anywhere inside your home. Gas vapors can make you ill and they’re a potential fire or explosion hazard.
Use A Transfer Switch To Connect Home Wiring
If you want to power your whole house with a generator, install a transfer switch device. Otherwise, power you put into your home from a generator could backfeed into the main line and cause problems for the electrical utility company, your neighbors or you.
Don’t Expect The Generator To Run Everything
Most home-use generators don’t supply enough amperage to run a furnace, lighting, appliances and all your other electronic equipment at the same time. Use your for the essential appliances and fixtures.
Coldwell Banker Preferred/Exton has just announced the year end sales statistics for 2014. We are thrilled and so proud to learn that our team was #1 For Listing Units, Buyer Units, Total Units, Listing Volume, Buyer Volume and Total Volume for 2014 in our office, and we were #5 in units sold among all real estate agents in Chester County.
It’s very simple. We love what we do! And if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, we think you’ll love what we do, too. Give us a call today! Kris: 484-433-8001, Ed: 484-614-0977, Mike: 610-357-4842.
We wish everyone reading this a very happy and healthy 2015!
If you are considering a move this year, it’s not too early to start planning. The spring market will be here before long! Contact Kris or another team member if you are interested in starting to plan your move, whether to sell or to buy, or both.
Warm holiday greetings to everyone! If your holiday plans include baking, here’s a recipe that Kris used in a recent cookie exchange. Enjoy!
3/4 Cup Shortening 2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar 2 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Egg 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Molasses 1 Tsp. Ground Cloves
Powdered Sugar 1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
Mix the shortening, sugar, egg and molasses together. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, and then mix all of that in with the other ingredients. Form the dough into balls and lightly press each one with the tines of a fork on a cookie sheet.
Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
Roll in powdered sugar while still warm.
No one wants to pay more taxes than they have to, so use these five strategies to lower the size of the check you send Uncle Sam next April:
1. Pay Bills Early
If you itemize, pay bills early to increase your deductions. Pay your January 2015 mortgage payment and your 2015 property taxes in December 2014. If you file jointly and don’t have $12,600 in qualifying expenses ($6,300 for single filers) to make itemizing deductions worthwhile, don’t prepay your expenses. Save your payments until 2015 when you may be able to take the deductions.
Before you make any early payments, use the Internal Revenue Service’s Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant to make sure you’re not subject to AMT. If you’re subject to AMT, you can lose some deductions, so you wouldn’t benefit from paying items early.
2. Recycle When You Remodel
When you remodel, do it in such a way that the fixtures and house parts you remove (including cabinets, bathtubs, wood floors, windows and doors) remain intact.
Donate these items to a salvage store, like Habitat for Humanity’s Restore to earn a tax deduction.
3. Spend FSA Funds On Home Improvements
Have funds left in your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)? You can spend them to make medically necessary home improvements to your home. Handrails in your bathroom are a good example of just such an expenditure.
Get a letter from your doctor supporting your medical need for such improvements. Many employers have adopted grace periods giving you until March 15, 2015 to spend your FSA funds.
4. Deduct Property Taxes Paid At Closing
If you bought your home in 2014, check your HUD-1 settlement statement (lines 106 and 107) to see if you reimbursed the sellers for property taxes they paid. You won’t get a 1098 from your lender showing those taxes because you paid them at settlement, and not from your escrow account.
5. Take The Home Office Deduction
Some people who have a home office don’t take the home office deduction because they fear it’s too complicated.
This year, you can take a standard deduction of $5 per square foot (up to 300 square feet) if you itemize deductions. When you use the standard home office deduction you don’t have to do the complicated calculations required to take the traditional home office deduction.
Keep in mind that tax laws and tax rules are constantly being updated and interpreted. This article contains general information, so please discuss your individual situation with a trusted tax adviser before making tax decisions.
Our “Communities” section includes information on each of the applicable public school districts that serve the communities we have listed. We’ve just updated our links to include the most recent reporting from the PA Department of Education, beginning with 2013-2014 “Fast Facts” on each district from which you can link to more details on particular schools, programs, etc. We hope you find this helpful!
One of our team members swears by her mother’s stuffing recipe. It’s easy, and it’s amazing. Depending on how many you’re serving, you may want to multiply the recipe by two or even by three because everyone tends to eat a lot of this!
Joyce’s Savory Stuffing
Package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Crumbs
One cup diced onion
One cup diced celery
1/2 pound sage sausage
1/2 pound hot spicy sausage
One cup unsalted whole cashews
One stick butter
2 1/2 cups water
Sautee the sausage until it’s crumbled and browned. Dice the vegetables. Prepare the stuffing crumbs per the package directions, melting butter into the water and adding the stuffing crumbs along with the diced celery and onion, browned sausage and cashews. Mix together, then either stuff it inside your turkey or bake it separately until done.
Candles in the home add a lovely ambience around holiday time, but real candles can be messy, they don’t last, and of course they’re a fire hazard. House fires tend to increase around the holidays because people often burn candles near highly flammable decorations, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
It’s a great time to consider switching to flameless candles for your holiday decorating this year. Home Depot, Target, Lowes, Pier 1 Imports and many other stores now sell flameless candles…. many of which now come with remote controls, scents, timers and rechargeable batteries, and they are available in many different sizes from the smallest tealight to the tallest pillar.
If you do decide to use real candles this year, please follow these safety tips:
* Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
* Keep candles out of the reach of children.
* Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle.
* Don’t leave a lit candle in a room where a child sleeps.
* Use sturdy candleholders that won’t easily tip over.
* Put candles out before they burn down completely to the holder or container.
* Never use a candle in a home where anyone uses an oxygen tank.
Last night brought the season’s first dusting of snow to our area, along with much colder temperatures. We all want to be warm and toasty indoors during the late fall and winter months, but most of us are also concerned about the higher utility bills that could follow. Here’s a simple tip that can help with that.
Applying caulk and insulation to seal the cracks and openings in your home’s exterior helps keep the air you pay to heat or cool in your home while keeping the outside air out — and that can lower your utility bill. Use these suggestions from the Paint Quality Institute to get the job done right:
Look For Problem Areas
Begin the battle with a walk-around inspection of your home’s exterior.
Make a list of cracks, gaps or holes – especially where different surfaces meet, or where pipes and vents penetrate the walls.
Look at your old caulk. Is it cracked or separated from the surrounding surface? These areas are energy sieves and prime spots to caulk or insulate.
If you find old caulk that is damaged or deficient, remove every last bit of it with a scraper or putty knife.
Clean the adjacent surfaces, then sand them smooth. Prime any areas where bare wood shows so the new caulk adheres properly and creates a weather-tight seal.
Buy The Right Caulk
When purchasing replacement caulk, choose a top quality product. The best choices are water-based all-acrylic caulk, or siliconized acrylic caulk. Similarly named “silicone” caulks can’t be painted.
Be systematic when applying the new caulk. Work your way around the exterior of your home, completing each wall or surface area before moving on to the next.
Fill every gap and seam with a generous bead of caulk. Remember, this is your defense against air loss, so you don’t want to skimp.
As soon as you apply the bead of caulk, run a wet finger over the full length of the bead, using a slight amount of pressure. By “tooling” the caulk in this way, you’ll ensure it adheres to the surrounding surface and tightly seals the space.
If some gaps are too large to caulk – typically, those that are more than a quarter-inch wide – fill them instead with a polyurethane foam insulation product.
Unlike caulk, which has a tendency to shrink slightly as it dries, some polyurethane foam products actually expand after being applied, making them ideal for filling large openings and cavities in your home.
Check Your Work
After working your way around your home and filling every gap and opening, take a short break. Then, walk around your home one last time to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Don’t be surprised if you spot a few areas that still need attention. Put the final touches on your work, then put your tools away, stay warmer inside your home this winter, and enjoy your savings!
If your home is the site for this year’s family Thanksgiving or winter holidays, spreading out your to-do list and tackling a couple projects before Halloween can give you more time to relax and enjoy your guests later.
How about these three tasks?
1. Declutter your house and garage then hold a yard sale.
You’ll raise some extra holiday cash, give a new home to furniture and household goods you no longer need and have your house looking great for the holidays.
Another option is to donate the items to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore and take the tax deduction.
2. Check your supply of bed and bath linens.
If you need new items, you’ll have time to watch for a good sale before guests arrive.
Need a place to hold extra guest towels? Swap out your towel rack for a towel bar with shelf above.
In a super-small bathroom, a shelf over the door can hold extra towels for guests.
3. Baby-proof for visiting little ones.
Are your children or other guests bringing little ones into your not-so-baby-proof home? There are lots of temporary safety devices to help keep toddlers safe so parents relax and enjoy their visit with you.
If you order childproofing items now, you’ll have them on hand to install a few days before guests arrive. You can buy a childproofing kit, or just purchase single items like cabinet latches, outlet plugs, baby gates or door knob covers.
Spending a little time planning now can ease your stress later on when it’s time to shop for meals, clean the house, and make final preparations to greet your guests!
The days are getting shorter, leaves are starting to fall, Halloween will be here soon… and you might be wondering when it will be time to set the clocks back in our area. Daylight Savings Time officially ends at 2:00AM on Sunday, November 2nd so we’ll all be “falling back” that weekend. Then it will be time to start thinking about the holidays!
To all of our clients, relatives and friends…. Happy July Fourth! We hope you all enjoy a great holiday weekend. Our office at Coldwell Banker Preferred will close at 2pm on Thursday, July 3rd and reopen at 9am on Monday, July 7th. Whether you’re having a barbecue, heading to the shore, watching fireworks or just staying close to home, please have fun and be safe!
Now that it’s practically summer, we thought we’d share one of our favorite summer salad recipes. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients, and it’s amazing. Enjoy!
Tarragon Chicken Salad
2-3 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
1 lb. box bowtie or large seashell pasta
Tarragon – approx. 2 tablespoons dried
Mayonnaise to taste
Prepare the chicken, if you’re in a hurry you can use an oven stuffer roaster and shred it, but the grilled flavor adds to the overall taste of the salad if you have the time. Shred the chicken. Cook the pasta. When pasta has been drained and cooled, add the shredded chicken, mayonnaise to taste and the tarragon. Depending on how much you like tarragon, you might want to add a little more to add to the taste. You can also add a little ground black pepper. Chill so the flavors can blend, then serve. If you like, you can add some finely diced celery or maybe even a little diced sweet onion.
Our new smartphone mobile real estate apps are now available for iPhones and Androids!
Text KRISGOMEZ to 87778 and you will receive a link to download the app to your phone.
Or, you can go to the Apple or Android app stores, search for Kris Gomez and download the app from there.
Then use The Kris Gomez Real Estate Team ~ Chester County Homes For Sale mobile real estate app anywhere, anytime to pull up homes for sale around your location using the GPS search function, or find homes based on address, city or zip code anywhere from the Philadelphia suburbs, into New Jersey including much of the Jersey Shore, down into Delaware including the Delaware Beaches, and also into Maryland.
Whether you are searching for a primary residence, second home, or investment property, our app will help you find the information that you’re looking for quickly and easily. If you are just curious about the price of a home in your own or another nearby neighborhood, open up the app and using the GPS search feature it will show you detailed information on the listings closest to you.
The Kris Gomez Real Estate Team ~ Chester County Homes For Sale mobile real estate app will show you all the details you want to know about a property, including price, square footage, estimated mortgage, taxes, features, descriptions, photos, maps and more! Save your favorite homes to view later. You can also text or email homes to your family and friends, and you can also text the app itself to another smartphone user in seconds.
Our hope is that buyers will find this app an invaluable tool. A version of our app for iPad is coming soon. And if you use the app and like it, please don’t forget to rate us in the app stores!
Spring is here, and many people are planning to put their homes up for sale to take advantage of the spring/summer market. Here are our tips for spring cleaning with an eye for what prospective buyers will be looking at:
Curb Appeal: Exterior Issues
Landscaping is to enhance a home, not hide it. One of the easiest things to do is trim the shrubs that are overgrown. They should be lowered to a height near the bottom of the windows. if there is ivy growing on the side of the home, remove it.
If there are branches hanging low in the yard, you’ll need to prune them. A simple rule of thumb is to have all the limbs high enough so that you can walk under the tree.
The next thing on the list is to clean out the flower beds and make them look good. This means getting all the weeds out and having a distinct border between the beds and the yard.
Everyone dreams of a “Homes & Garden” type home with flowers in the beds. Why don’t you invest in a few flats of flowers such as petunias or periwinkles that will last the entire growing season and will add color and beauty to the front of your home?
You might even consider putting some nice looking flower pots on the porch with some red geraniums or some other blooming plants in them.
Next, take a look at the front door and the area around it. If you paint nothing else, at least give it a fresh coat of paint.
If the doorbell is broken, replace it. Wash the mailbox. Keep the porch swept. Get an attractive mat for people to wipe their feet.
Make It Shine: Interior Issues
Start by airing out the home. You are the last person to notice any peculiar odor in your home that may be blatantly obvious to visitors. Go on a search to find the offender. It may be a kitty litter box or a dog bed. It might even be a mildewed shower.
Next, wash all the windows in the house, inside and out. While you’re at it, clean the window sills and the bottom of the window jambs, and wash the blinds.
If it has been over a year since you’ve had the carpets cleaned, now is the time to do it.
The bare floors should also be waxed or polished, even if they’re supposed to be “no wax”.
Put bright light bulbs in every socket made for a bulb. Buyers like bright and cheery so you have to keep it from looking like a dungeon. You’ll also want to keep the drapes and shades open during the day, even if you’re not in the habit, because it will make the property look better.
The next item on the required list is to clean out all of the closets, cabinets, and drawers. Get rid of things you haven’t used in the past five years and pack up everything that you haven’t used in the last year.
Closets should look as they have enough room to hold additional items. You might need to box up off-season clothes to make it look that way. Get everything off the floor and don’t have the shelved piled to the ceiling.
Remember that this weekend will be time to change our clocks by moving them ahead one hour, so spring must be almost here! Daylight savings time officially begins as of 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 9th. This gives us an extra hour of daylight in the evening for the coming months.
Our upcoming newsletter has an article that you might find helpful! To make sure that you, your family and your valuables stay safe, The Family Handyman came up with six simple places to hide valuables from all but the smartest, most determined crooks:
1. The Old Hollowed Book Trick
We’ve all seen the hollowed-out book, but there’s not much room in one of these. Instead, use several books with a plywood box attached to the back to make a hidden compartment.
2. Right Out In The Open
Any common household item that has a cavity such as a vacuum cleaner, old printers, computer towers, children toys, etc. will work. Thieves would not expect that you would leave your belonging out in the open.
3. Buried Treasure
Watch your money grow! Roll up some cash, stick it in a medicine bottle or any other watertight container and bury it in a potted plant. It’s likely safe to say that not many burglars are going to be excavating around your houseplants.
4. False Bottom Drawer
An old smuggler’s trick. Pick a deep drawer so the depth change won’t be obvious. Cut ?-in. plywood 1/16-in. smaller than the drawer opening and rest it on a couple of wood strips that are hot glued to the drawer sides. Next, hot glue some item you’d expect to find in that drawer so you have a handle to life the false bottom and reveal the booty.
5. Cabinet Hiding Hole
Between almost every pair of upper cabinets, there’s a 1/2 inch gap. Take advantage of that gap by hanging a manila envelope containing a whole lot of money. Hang the cash with binder clips that are too wide to fall through the crack.
6. Counterfeit Containers
Go online and type in “secret hiding places” and you’ll be amazed by how many brand-name phony containers are available. If you don’t want to buy one, you can craft a homemade version too. Take a mayonnaise jar and spray paint the interior with cream-colored paint for plastic.
We’re excited about our new billboard, which will be going up around February 24th at the intersection of Route 322 and the Route 322 Bypass, on the right side of Route 322 as you head in towards West Chester from Downingtown.
The billboard highlights our new website, which we’re happy to say has gotten great reviews from our friends, family and clients! Watch for the website to offer more great features in the weeks and months to come, including our latest pet project – a custom mobile/smartphone app which is being developed just for us. You’ll be able to look up photos and detailed information on homes for sale around you anytime, anywhere. We’re pretty sure you’ll find it as exciting as we do, and it will be launching soon so stay tuned!
Unfortunately, many of us in Southeastern Pennsylvania woke up this morning without power. The overnight ice storm has caused tree limbs to break or come down all over our area, and many roads are blocked. The corporate offices of Coldwell Banker Preferred are closed today due to lack of electricity, as well as most if not all of our branch offices. We hope you and yours are safe and warm wherever you are.
In the meantime, we thought we’d share some tips on being prepared for power outages that are caused by severe weather. Here’s a link to some helpful information from AccuWeather about surviving a winter storm power outage like this one:
The latest version of our bi-weekly newsletter was published this morning and emailed to our subscribers. If you missed it, or are not on the email list to receive it, a link to the newsletter is below. If you’d like to be added to our subscriber list, just let us know! The newsletter always features one of our listings, and it includes a variety of articles on topics related to home ownership. We hope you enjoy it and find it valuable!