Time for Spring

Time for Spring

On February 2nd Punxsutawney Phil stated we can expect an early Spring this year.  This means it is the perfect time to get your home and garden ready for sunny days and warmer temps.  We’ve all heard the term “spring cleaning,” and this month’s blog is going to give you a few tips on what you can do to make your home look and feel summer-ready.  

In the Fall Maintenance blog, we shared some ideas on how to get your home winter ready.  Many of those same tasks should be done in the Spring as well.

1.  Clean the gutters

Make sure they don’t have holes and all the downspouts are still attached and taking water away from the house.  Clogged gutters can also cause mosquito infestations, mold and mildew from decomposed leaves and other problems.  Cleaning the gutters is an easy job that you could tackle yourself. 

2. Get your air conditioner system ready

Change or wash your filters (which should be done monthly).  Clean the coils and wash the condenser outside.  Trim away any bushes away from the unit and make sure the drainage line isn’t clogged.  The last thing you want is for your A/C unit to quit working on the hottest day of the year.  Many HVAC service companies offer plans allowing them to come out and perform maintenance on your system periodically to help keep it running for a long time.

3. Power wash driveways and walkways

This is a chore that you can easily do yourself.  You can rent a power washer at your local home improvement store and even borrow from a friend if you don’t have one.  Power washing your home helps wash away discoloration and mold and mildew.  Be careful before washing your wood deck as the force can strip away wood fibers.

4. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

You should change the batteries in your smoke and carbon detectors at least twice a year (changing them when the time changes makes it easy to remember to do) and you should run a test monthly to make sure everything is running properly.  This is not something you want to take for granted.  

5.  Fertilize your lawn 

Investing in a push fertilizer spreader and some fertilizer will allow you to quickly and efficiently fertilize your lawn.  This will help keep weeds and crab grass from ruining your green lawn during the summer.

6.  Plant flowers for summer blooms

Planting seeds and bulbs in the spring will ensure bright beautiful blooms in the summer.  Check out this website for tips when and what to plant in North Texas.

https://www.jclandscapingllc.com/gardening/best-flowers-to-plant-in-north-texas/

7.  Declutter

Spring is the perfect time to declutter and organize your home.  Go through your closet and donate clothes and accessories that you have not worn in at least 6 months (or a year for seasonal).  Take the time to organize by color to ease the stress of getting ready in the morning.  Tackle that junk drawer(s) once and for all, and clean out your purse.  

8. Deep clean and freshen 

Your comforter and mattress pads need to be cleaned 2-3 times a year.  While everything is washing, take the time to give your mattress a little TLC too by vacuuming the crevices with your vacuum attachment, spot clean any spots with some vinegar and baking soda and spray down with Lysol®.  Curtains also need to be freshened up a couple of times a year.  Always check the labels before putting anything in the washer machine.  

These few chores will help make your home feel fresher and ready to enjoy during the lazy days of summer.  For more ideas on spring cleaning your home, check out these websites:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/g3345/spring-cleaning-tips/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/cleaning-tips/g601/spring-cleaning-tips/

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Resolutions

Resolutions

It is already January 20th!  It is said that 40% of people ditch their resolutions by January 17th and 80% by mid-February.  Have you already given up on yours?  Did you just not make any this year for fear of failure, again?  Here are a few tips to help you get back on track or maybe to begin:

Don’t start on a particular day/date

You know how it goes, “I’ll start on Monday,” or The first is next week, I’ll start then.”  Don’t wait until a specific day or date to start working toward your goals. Start today!  It’s too easy to keep putting off a goal until the next week, month, year, or even decade.  Once you decide what you want, start immediately before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve actually been eating a hamburger and fries while talking about eating healthier.  I laugh at myself and think “here I am eating junk food while talking to my companion about the importance of healthy eating.”  That’s a tad hypocritical.  That’s when I decide right then that I will begin at the very next meal.  If that meal is breakfast – great! If it’s dinner – that’s good too.  I just have to get started. 

Give yourself some grace

One of the biggest challenges in keeping resolutions is what to do once we fail.  I know I have had the mindset that once I messed up, I may as well just quit.  I can’t do it.  I ate that donut (or three) for breakfast at the office, or I bought an expensive coffee drink when I’m trying to save money for a house.  I guess I’ll never lose weight or move out of my apartment.  Whoa Nelly!  Since when did three donuts or a coffee drink determine your entire future?  Give yourself a break.  We all make mistakes, we all fail, it’s how we proceed afterwards that determines the outcome.  Okay, so you ate the donuts, no biggie.  At lunch maybe go for a big veggie salad instead of the grilled chicken sandwich and baked sweet potato fries.  The important thing is to start back immediately on your journey. Just remember on every road trip you are bound to go over some pot holes.    

Ask for help

One of the hardest thing for people to do is ask for help.  No matter what goal you are trying to accomplish, it’s always easier (and usually more fun) to get there with help.  The internet is a wonderful thing with groups, chat rooms, blogs, vlogs, and websites that enable you to meet other people going for the same thing you are.  Accountability is paramount in success.  Friends and family want to see you success, ask for their support.  Talk to them about your resolution and what you need from them to make it work.  If they are not ready to help and be supportive, perhaps distancing yourself from them for a while until you are seeing results and finding other means of accountability.  

Starting resolutions always seem so easy in our minds; it’s keeping them that can be difficult.  Just remember to take it slow and be kind to yourself.  It’s up to you to reach that goal.  Are you up for the challenge?  If so, start now!

I’d love to hear about your successes!

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Is Winter a Good Time to Buy a Home?

Is Winter a Good Time to Buy a Home?

Winter has arrived! The temperatures have dropped and Christmas is only days away. So one may wonder is this a good time to buy a home?  The answer is a resounding YES! 

Buying a home during the winter may seem like a fool’s errand, but it is actually a clever time to buy.  Here are a few reasons why:

Even though there is less inventory, there are also less buyers.  Everyone knows that Spring and Summer are the best times to buy a home.  It is warmer and those with families or are planning to start one, begin looking at school districts and wanting to get into the best neighborhoods.  This also means that even though you may find your dream home so have a dozen other potential home buyers causing a bidding war that you may not be prepared to fight.  During the colder times of the year, fewer people are looking and fewer people are selling.  This can be great news for you as you may not have quite so many cash buyers and those willing to pay over the asking price. 

Thespruce.com tells us all the low activity in the winter will result in sellers being far more motivated to sell. Real estate agents know that the slow winter months are when sellers are more willing to negotiate, whether it is on selling price, closing costs, closing date or even terms of the sale, including what household appliances and items are included in the sale. And these are all the very reasons that many real estate agents recommend that their clients delay listing their homes till at least the spring. The winter is not a great time for sellers, in general.

Winter is also the perfect time to take a look at how the house looks and feels in harsher climate.  During this time you can check the windows to see if they are drafty, how warm does the house feel with the furnace running, are there ice dams on the roof (if you live in a colder climate than Texas), and is the home still aesthetically pleasing with bare trees and bushes? 

Anyone who has purchased a home before knows that during peak real estate months, you must work around your lender’s schedule for your closing.  At the end beginning of the year home sales drop 25-30% hopefully allowing you to close on your new home quicker.

Speaking of having to wait, did you know that it is easier to hire movers during cooler months as well?  Since the moving busy season tends to be during late Spring to late Summer, hiring movers can be daunting to say the least.  Sometimes you may even get lucky and get a break in price because moving companies need the work.  

Many people may feel that searching and buying a home during the winter months isn’t ideal, but with a little knowledge and open mind, you could be sitting by your new fireplace in less time that you thought possible.  

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Types of Mortgages

Types of Mortgages

Buying a home today can be a daunting task.  There are so many choices to consider:  condo, townhome, single family home, HOA, school districts, commute, the list goes on and on.  Add to that the type of mortgage you should get and you may feel like quitting before you even get started.  While I can’t help you decide on the type of home you should consider in a blog (I’m better at that in person), with the help of payoff.com I can help you learn the differences between the different types of mortgages to help you make an informed decision.  

The Basic Types of Loans

1. CONVENTIONAL / FIXED RATE MORTGAGE

Conventional fixed rate loans are a safe bet because of their consistency — the monthly payments won’t change over the life of your loan. This is your standard, plain-vanilla mortgage.

They’re available in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40-year terms but 15 and 30 are the most common.

2. INTEREST-ONLY MORTGAGE

Interest-only mortgages give you the option, during the first five or 10 years, to pay only the interest portion of your monthly payment instead of the full payment. You aren’t required do this. This slows down your repayment time but can be useful in a pinch. Afterward, the rest of the mortgage is paid off in full like a conventional mortgage.

3. ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM)

There are many different ARMs. The basic idea is that their interest rate changes over time throughout the life of the loan. The rate changes reflect changes in the economy and the cost of borrowing money. A common ARM is called the 5/1 loan — the interest rate stays the same for the first five years and then is free to change for the remaining 25 years.

Special Assistance for Certain Groups

4. FHA LOANS

These are mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. They come with built-in mortgage insurance to protect against the possibility of not being able to repay the loan. The required down payments are smaller with these loans.

5. VA LOANS

These loans make it easier for veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and sometimes their spouses, to buy homes. They don’t require a down payment and are guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

More Exotic Types of Loans

6. COMBO / PIGGYBACK

The combo occurs when you put a down payment of less than 20% and take two loans of any type in combination to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance.

7. BALLOON

On a balloon mortgage, you pay interest only for a certain period of time — five years for example — and then the total principal amount is due after this initial period.

8. JUMBO

Jumbo refers to a mortgage that’s too big for the Federal Government to purchase or guarantee. Currently, the limit is about $700,000. This means that the borrower wouldn’t get the lowest interest rates available on smaller loans.

Now that you have a basic idea of what kind of mortgages are available, you are in a better place to work with your mortgage broker in finding the best type of loan for you.  Once you are pre-approved you can begin shopping for your new home with confidence and excitement.  

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Fall Maintenance

Fall Maintenance

The signs of autumn are quickly approaching. School is back in session, the days are getting shorter, and the temperature is beginning to cool down. This is the time of year to begin getting your home ready for cold wintery weather. Here are some things that you can do yourself to winterize your home.

1. Clean out the gutters – Once the leaves have fallen is the perfect time to clean out your gutters. If the gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, water has no place to drain and can back up into your roof causing leaks. Ask for assistance if you are uncomfortable on a ladder or contact a local company to clean them for you.

2. Winterize your landscaping – Before the ground begins freezing or the temperatures dip into the 30’s, make sure to blow out your sprinklers and turn them off. Blowing out the sprinklers will remove any left over water in the pipes that can burst during a hard freeze. The same goes for hoses and exterior faucets. Wrap up your hoses and store them away and cover your faucets to keep them from freezing up. This time of year is also a good time to feed your lawn. There are many choices of feed and seed at your local home improvement store. Feeding your lawn in the fall will help make your lawn grow lush and green in the spring.

3. Walk around your home for damage – Take a long look at the exterior of your home and assess any damage to siding, railings, roof, windows, etc. Damage to the structure can cause leaks or wildlife to take up residence in your walls or attic. Fill in small holes and use heavy duty hardware cloth to block larger gaps.

4. Add weather stripping to windows and doors – Weather stripping will seal gaps keeping cold air out and will save energy keeping your home warmer and your energy bill lower.

5. Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance – Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney!

6. Spring is not the only time for a good deep cleaning – Autumn is the perfect time to clean bigger appliances like the dryer vent, refrigerator and vacuum the coils, oven, and degrease the stove and hood. Staying indoors more will give you more time to scrub tile grout, wipe down smaller appliances, wipe down baseboards, and give light fixtures a good cleaning as well.

Taking the time to care for your home will allow you to rest easy knowing that your home and yard are ready for winter.

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