Cleaning up your yard before winter blows in.
By landscape contractor Roger Cook of This Old House magazine
Fall yard clean-up starts with the gutters, which requires setting up a ladder to reach them. Remember to always have someone holding the bottom of the ladder and don't try to stretch that extra two or three feet. Get down and move the ladder! For those who don't like ladders, there are a couple of options. First, you can have gutter guards installed to keep leaves out. Second, there are leaf blower extensions that can reach up into the gutter and blow leaves out. Either way, you'll need to be sure that the joints where the gutter meets the downspouts are cleaned out.
Once they are clean, take a hose and pour some water into your gutters and watch where it goes. Do you need extensions to direct the water away from your foundation and prevent leaks? When diverting water, be sure to avoid driveway and walkways, which could ice over and become hazards in the winter.
A LAWN WINTER
Leaf cleanup is a necessary but never-ending battle. Leaves left scattered for the winter will smother the lawn. Don't worry, however, about getting every last leaf out of the plant beds. As they breakdown, leaves can help insulate plants and provide them with valuable nutrients.
As for what do to with all the leaves you've raked, remember to recycle them in your own compost pile or at a town recycling center. If you are using the leaves on your own compost pile, either grind them up or run them over with a lawn mower to speed decomposition. To move large piles of leaves, I recommend piling them onto a tarp and dragging them to their destination?be it compost pile or trash bag.
Once the leaves are collected, cut your lawn one last time before the winter, trimming it as short as possible to prevent matting, disease and rodent damage. When you are done mowing, run the lawn mower itself until it runs out of gas. Gas left to sit in the tank over the winter will gum up the carburetor so it won't run as well next spring. Also, change the oil, grease the engine and pull and inspect the spark plug. Before you replace it, place several drops of five-weight oil in the hole and pull the start cord several times to lubricate the engine so it won't rust. In the spring, you'll only have to add gas, sharpen the blades and start mowing again.
Early in November, I like to fertilize the lawn with a high phosphorus mixture to promote root growth over the winter, so the grass will green up sooner come spring. Fall is also a great time to fertilize trees and shrubs. I don't recommend pruning ornamental trees and shrubs, as they can contract dieback and suffer from winter desiccation—although I will admit to pruning my holly trees right before Christmas.
You perennials will need to be cut back as they fade. While you are at it, scratch some super phosphate fertilizer into the soil around them. In the garden, remove leftover vegetation and put it in the compost pile. Then rake lime and fertilizer into the soil bed and sow a cover crop of winter rye.
Now's the time to get your snowblower up and running. Nothing's more frustrating than having your snowblower not start when the first snow storm hits. If you're a snow shoveler, double check that your shovels are where you left them and in working order. They have a funny habit of disappearing over the year.
If you have an irrigation system, be sure that it is cleared of water so it won't freeze up and damage pipes. If you don't, drain your hoses by laying them on a downward slope and pulling them slowly toward you, coiling as you go. Once they're coiled, tie and store them in your garage or shed. Then head to the basement to shut off the water to your outdoor spigots. On the pipe, in between the shut-off and the spigot, you'll find a weep valve that you can open and drain into a bucket. These steps will prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
FOR THE BIRDS
One of the fall activities I enjoy most is setting up my bird feeders. After all my fall yard chores are done, there is nothing better than sitting back with a hot cup of coffee and watching the birds fly by.
When you are preparing to list your home for sale, you may take various steps to stage the interior so that it is appealing to a potential buyer. In addition to various steps you may take with staging the interior, you want to pay attention to your yard as well. During the spring months, many yards look fresh and vibrant, but they also need some extra care in order to boost curb appeal and make a great first impression on buyers.
Focus On Your Flower Beds
Whether you have one small flower bed or several sprawling areas of beds, you should ensure that all of the vegetation looks fresh and tidy. Trim bushes, and add bright spring annuals to brighten up the space. Pull weeds, and add a layer of fresh mulch to your flower beds to give them a finished, well-maintained look.
Keep The Lawn Neat And Tidy
During the spring months, your lawn may revive from its dormant winter state, and you may find it growing rapidly. The green hue of a spring lawn can have a powerful benefit to curb appeal, but you want to keep the lawn trimmed and edged regularly to give it a manicured appearance. This can also minimize the impact of the look of weeds that may occasionally crop up throughout the spring months.
Pay Attention To Your Patio And Entryway
While your vegetation will require some effort to maintain while you list your home, you do not want to overlook your patio and entryway. These are often visible from the street, and they will be viewed up-close when buyers tour your home. Ensure that the area is clean, and power wash it if necessary. Consider updating front door hardware and the entry mat if they appear worn or dated. You may also need to sweep these areas regularly while your home is listed for sale.
Staging your property can help you to sell your property more quickly and for top dollar, but your staging efforts should not be focused entirely on the interior of your home. Your landscaping also requires extra effort when you are getting your home ready to sell, and these tips can all help you to spruce up your landscaping with beautiful results. You may seek more customized information tailored to your property when you speak with a real estate agent about listing your home.
Buying newly constructed real estate isn’t much different from buying an “already used” home. What variances there are, however, can make all the difference between buying a diamond or a lemon.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when buying new construction:
Tip #1: Don’t Use The Builder’s Sales Agent – Hire Your Own
If they’re the builder’s agent, they’re being paid to represent the builder, no matter what they tell you. Your own real estate agent, who is representing you, is required to tell you the negatives as well as the positives. The builder’s agent doesn’t have to tell you the drawbacks of the transaction.
Tip #2: Find Your Own Lending Agency
Again, if you go through the builder, the lending agency may offer you a deal that isn’t in your best interest. In addition, the builder may actually own the lending company, and will have full information on your personal progress.
Your real estate agent can refer you to a reputable lender, if you don’t already have one of your own.
Tip #3: Talk To A Real Estate Agent Or Lawyer
Although standard agreements are made to keep everyone out of court, they aren’t necessarily in your best interests. Ask about cancellation rights and make sure you understand both your liability and your commitments. Also, check your contract to make sure it doesn’t contain warnings about health issues.
Tip #4: Decide What Options Or Upgrades You Want
Remember that the profit margin for many builders is highest in upgrades. Find out if your lender allows the options and upgrades you’ve chosen to be added to the loan. If your lender doesn’t allow this, the cost of the upgrades will come out of your pocket in cash.
Tip #5: Research The Builder
It’s amazing how many people think a builder is good, simply because they can build a house. Unless you’re a licensed home inspector, the chance of you catching a cut corner or shoddy building practices is slim to none.
Check out the neighbors’ homes and talk to them. Are the homes a consistent size or are they shrinking in size? Do the neighbors have consistent complaints about the quality of their homes? Also, check public records for lawsuits.
Owning newly constructed real estate and knowing that you’re the first person to live in the home can be a wonderful, exciting experience. Make sure that you protect yourself so you can enjoy it!
Thinking of buying newly constructed real estate? Talk with me before you start shopping. If you visit a builder prior to working with me, I won’t be able to legally represent you with that builder.
To find out more about how I can help you save money and get the best terms when buying newly constructed real estate, call or email your trusted mortgage professional for more information.
Are you thinking about using a mortgage to buy a new home? Buying your own piece of local real estate is a major financial investment and one that can require some pretty complex math to fully understand.
In this blog post we’ll discuss mortgage calculators and how to use one of these tools to determine your monthly mortgage payments, interest charges, amortization periods and more.
Determining Your Principal and Down Payment Amounts
To get started with a mortgage calculator you’ll need to know how the price of the home and how much you intend to contribute as a down payment. Generally speaking you’ll want to place a down payment of at least 20 percent in order to avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance and to give you access to better interest rates.
Choosing Your Interest Rate and Amortization Period
Now that you have an idea of the amount of mortgage financing you’ll need, the next step is to choose your interest rate and amortization period. Different lenders will offer different interest rates for every one of their mortgage products, so again you’ll want to play around with these numbers and run the calculation to see which combination of mortgage financing, interest rate and amortization period gives you a monthly payment that suits your budget.
Using a Mortgage Calculator for Refinancing
If you’re thinking about refinancing your current mortgage you can also use a mortgage calculator to help make the math a bit easier. Simply use your outstanding mortgage balance as the principal amount and then choose an amortization schedule that fits your financial goals. Be sure to keep an eye on your interest payments, as you may find that by refinancing to a longer amortization period your monthly payments go down but your total interest paid is quite a bit higher.
Don’t Forget the Closing Costs
Finally, don’t forget that there are numerous “closing costs” – fees, taxes and more – which you’ll need to factor in to your overall calculation. Closing costs will include everything from home appraisal fees to government filing fees and property taxes, and will vary depending on the home and the city or community you’re buying in.
While online mortgage calculators can handle the tricky math to determine monthly payments and interest costs you may still find that you have questions about your mortgage or some aspect of the process. For more information, contact your local mortgage professional and they’ll be happy to share their advice and expertise.
Can you believe that autumn is already here? Autumn is not only a great time to enjoy some cooler weather, but it is also a perfect time to sell a home. If you want to sell your house this autumn, these home staging tips will have buyers pounding down your door.
Improve Your Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is easily the most important factor when it comes to selling a home, and it is even more important in the autumn. Maintaining great curb appeal can be difficult in autumn because of all the falling leaves.
Raking the leaves and planting some autumn flowers will make your home inviting to buyers. You can even add some pumpkins around the porch, if you desire.
Brighten Up The House
The shorter days of autumn make lighting more important when staging a home, because nobody wants to walk into a dark and depressing house. The best way to brighten up any house is by opening the blinds and turning on every light.
While it may not be great for the electric bill, the extra lighting will help the home sell quicker. You can even place some spotlights on the floor behind furniture to brighten up the darker rooms.
Make It Feel Comfortable
There is something about the cooling weather of autumn that makes people want to stay inside. Showing off how comfortable your home is will definitely pique buyers’ interest. A great way to make your home more cozy during a showing is by playing seasonal music and handing out some fresh baked cookies – it adds a personal touch and a subtle sense of coziness.
Accent The Home With Autumn Colors
While it is impossible to change the color scheme of your home to fit the season, you can add some accent colors throughout the house. If you have a neutral colored couch, then you can easily throw some red or orange pillows on it to make it really stand out. Adding some autumn decorations to each room is also a great way to accent your home with autumn colors.
Autumn is an extremely popular time to buy or sell a house, and for good reason. Taking advantage of autumn’s vibrant colors when you stage your home will give your house an irresistible appeal. For more information about how to sell your home in the autumn, or if you’d like to list your home for sale, contact an experienced real estate professional today.
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