Tag Archives: Home Maintenance

Smart Homes: The Latest Connections and How They Save You Time and Energy

Smart Homes: The Latest Connections and How They Save You Time and Energy

There’s an app for just about everything today, including apps to run every aspect of your smart home. If something in your home has electricity running through it, chances are you can upgrade it to a smart device. Smart devices help you easily control your home appliances and systems with the push of a few buttons. They will also save you money by making the most efficient use of your energy and cutting down on your utility bills. Continue reading

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Keeping the Cold Out: A Winter Home Maintenance Check-Up

Keeping the Cold Out: A Winter Home Maintenance Check-Up

Now that those holiday decorations are put away, it’s time to perform your winter house maintenance checkup. Performing a yearly winter home maintenance check-up can help prevent costly repair bills, make your home safer and lower energy bills. No one wants to be stuck without heat during frigid temperatures due to a faulty furnace. The following winter maintenance check-up guidelines can help you prepare your home for the cold winter months. Continue reading

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5-Minute Summer Home Maintenance Checks

5-Minute Summer Home Maintenance Checks

Did winter storms and spring rains take a toll on your home? Was it ready to withstand the heat, humidity, pests and thunderstorms of summer? How about the upcoming seasons? Is your house prepared? The best time to answer these questions and assess the condition of your home is now, while the weather is warm. These five-minute maintenance checks will help you do just that. Continue reading

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Updating or Remodeling? What would an Appraiser Think?

Updating or Remodeling? What would an Appraiser Think?

With spring officially beginning on March 20th and the idea of fresh new beginnings in the air, many folks are eager to get started updating their homes for a sale or planning improvement projects for a future sale. While you may be interested in adding a deck or patio, updating a kitchen or bath, or even adding crown molding to enhance trim details, not all projects are created equal in the eyes of a residential appraiser. Let’s look at a few of the things THEY look at to assess value.

Cost Versus Value

Homeowners considering home improvements need to remember that cost doesn’t always equal a dollar for dollar return in value. An appraiser does not simply add the cost of your improvement to the value of your home. Instead, an appraiser will look at the age of the improvement, assess cost and calculate depreciation if the asset is not new. Then they will evaluate the current marketplace to determine if buyers are buying and contracting for homes with similar improvements. The two approaches most often used to define value are called the Cost Approach and the Market Comparison Approach.

Site Location And Exterior Improvements

There is a lot to be said for your geographic location. For instance, if you have a unique setting and live near a pond or lake, have scenic views of the mountains, or live on the 18th green of a private golf course, the attributes of the lot/land are taken into consideration and should add value. Likewise, enhanced hardscape, such as an outdoor masonry fireplace, or even an in-ground swimming pool would also be taken into consideration. Whether or not the appraiser determines the site location and exterior enhancements to be of premium value depends on the appraiser. Once again, the cost and age of the improvement and most importantly here, the market comparison assessment, may or may not cause an increase in value. In other words, the year-round use of having an in-ground pool in Texas may be of higher value than one in Virginia.

The Value Of Maintenance

Regular heating and central air tune-ups, roof and gutter repairs and replacement, septic system servicing and other routine maintenance go a long way and speak volumes to a potential buyer but do not mean a whole lot to an appraiser. An appraiser will address the overall condition of the property but will not look to see if you have recently tuned up your HVAC or checked your gutters. An appraiser is more focused on the value of the property and its assets, so a new HVAC system or roof is important for them to know about, but the routine upkeep of your home and its condition relates to its marketability.

Don’t Toss The Paperwork

Updating or Remodeling? What would an Appraiser Think?Saving receipts can really be a pain, but it can be more of a pain not to document the amounts spent. You should also keep before and after pictures of the work you have had done. The appraiser can’t always see internal and structural work that may mean a difference of several thousand dollars. A good example would be the before and after photos of a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project.

These are only a few of the many things an appraiser will consider when determining the value of your home and its improvements. Ask your realtor for an opinion on buying and selling trends and whether your future improvement project will make a difference to your bottom line. Lastly, consider broad-based improvements that most people will like instead of specific improvements that only a few people can appreciate. Choose wisely to get the highest return and value for your improvements.

If you have questions or need a professional opinion on improvement values and the marketability of your home, contact Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today.

“Belinda was very helpful and patient with all the details involved in buying our home. She showed us several homes, supervised the home inspection, and made certain all necessary repairs were completed. She also recommended responsible moving companies and kept in contact with us on the progress of the loan.”  J. Lyell, Gainesville

Sign up now for a FREE copy of Belinda’s e-book, “The Real Estate Key – What You Need to Know”!

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Spring Home Fix-up: Resolve to Repair

Spring Home Fix-up: Resolve to Repair

Spring is here! It’s time to spring clean and look for those little (and big) repairs we keep putting off. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t try to ignore a home fix up, but with a bit of planning, you can be ready to tackle the projects that keep your house in great shape.

The biggest question is always where to start. Winters in Northern Virginia may not be like they are in Siberia, but they can take a toll on your house. Below is a checklist of common spring concerns for every homeowner to get you going.

Gut the Gutters

Many people see cleaning the gutter as a fall chore. However, debris falls year round and ice buildup in your gutter system over the winter may cause damage. After cleaning out your gutter system, run water through and look for dripping in odd areas that could indicate leaks. Consider gutter netting covers or a gutter guard to lessen the amount of debris collecting and extend the life of the system.

Roof Overview

Break out the binoculars and do some roof watching. Loose shingles or bowing and swelling need to be addressed right away. Repairing the small concerns on a roof can save you in repairs, as well as avoid negative appraisal values if you are getting ready to sell your home. Also look for fungus growth, the ugly black color on shingles that make your roof look unsightly. This condition and other issues can be easily remedied to improve the overall look of your home.

Examine the Exterior

How is your siding holding up? Even homes with all-weather vinyl siding need a once over to look for loose or broken strips, or perhaps a good power-wash to remove some green algae. While you are checking out the siding, also take a peek at windows and their exterior trim to make sure that there is no wood rot or cracked windows.

Look Out Below

Take a good look at your home’s foundation to make sure there are no drainage or dampness issues. Clean the vent areas out so the basement has a good circulation of air to prevent mold and mildew problems.

Clear the Air

Spring Home Fix-up: Resolve to RepairSpring is the perfect time for a HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) tune up. The Indoor Environment & Energy Efficiency Association recommends a yearly inspection and tune-up of your heating and cooling system if it is more than 10 years old. Also, remember to change your air filter routinely to lengthen the life of your heating and cooling system and provide you cleaner air.

Get a Trim

If things are looking a little jungle-y in your corner of the world, it may be time to trim the trees and shrubbery. Not only does it help with the all-around look of the property, trimming the overgrowth can eliminate some of the debris issues on a property, as well as potential large debris problems that can crop up during storm season.

Once you take a look around, you may find other projects that need attention. Just remember, if you get the spring repairs out of the way, not only will you avoid bigger problems, but you will also have more time for summer fun activities.

If you need contractor referrals to assist you with the spring clean-up, or if you considering selling your home this spring please contact, Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today.

Sign up now for a FREE copy of my e-book, “The Real Estate Key – What You Need to Know”!

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Routine Maintenance to Keep Your House Running Smoothly Through Winter

Routine Maintenance to Keep Your House Running Smoothly Through Winter

Why does the heat pump always wait until it’s -12 degrees outside to die on you? It’s not just your fantastic luck. The harsh conditions of winter weather can be tough on your home. Keeping up with routine maintenance can ensure you don’t wind up with a home repair emergency on your hands in the middle of a cold snap. Here are some suggestions to keep your house running smoothly.

  • Change your furnace filters – It’s not an exciting job, but if you want heat to flow freely throughout your home, you want to put it at the top of your winter to-do list. Clogged filters can cost you extra money on your heat bill each month and over-tax your system causing it to break.
  • Winterize your water lines and air conditioning unit – Avoid frozen pipes by draining any hoses and air conditioner pipes. Make sure there isn’t water pooled in your air conditioner. Turn off water to all pipes that connect to the outside of your house.
  • Seal up your home to avoid drafts – If you have leaky doors or windows, you might as well open them up and throw cash out into the yard. Drafts cost you a lot of additional money in energy bills and your heat is just rising up into the atmosphere. A draft can give your thermostat a false reading, causing your heat to run more than it needs to. Escaping warmth can also cause you to crank up the temperature, costing you more to heat your home. Air leaks are simple to fix. You can winterize your windows with an inexpensive kit from any home improvement store.
  • Install energy efficient windows and doors – If you have a little more money to invest, energy efficient windows and doors can save you money on your heating bill and your taxes. There are federal tax credits available for upgrading to energy efficient windows and doors.
  • Tune up your heater – Preempt an emergency visit from your friendly HVAC tech by being proactive. Get your heater a tune up before you’re in the midst of the coldest months. Many HVAC companies offer free annual system checks if you schedule early in the season, before they get overwhelmed with emergency repair calls.
  • Clear out dead tree limbs – During winter storms and harsh winds, dead tree limbs falling can cause major damage to your home and threaten your safety. Tree branches that are obviously dead, dangling or just overhanging your home or vehicle should be trimmed prior to the harsh winter weather to avoid an accident later in the season.
  • Get your chimney cleaned – If you’re lucky enough to have a cozy fireplace to enjoy, make sure that it’s safe for your family by having it cleaned regularly. A clogged chimney is a major hazard to your health and safety. Animals also enjoy building their homes in chimneys, so you want to make sure there are no additional occupants in your chimney before lighting that first fire of the year.

Keeping your home well-maintained during the winter will not only keep you warm and cozy, you will protect your investment so that when the time is right to sell, you’re ready. If you’re in the market to sell your home (or purchase a new one), contact us today!

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Give Your Home a Winter Tune-Up

Give Your Home a Winter Tune-Up

Just like we winterize our cars with new tires, a tune up and oil change, our homes need a winter tune up, too. Our homes are the largest investments we make, and keeping them in top shape keeps us comfy and our investment safe.  Below are a few suggestions to keep your house warm and winter safe.

    1. Rev up your HVAC. Call your local HVAC professional to inspect your furnace or heat pump. The pro will check your system to make sure it is clean and in good repair, as well as monitor for carbon monoxide leakage. A quick tune-up can bring your furnace back up to manufacturer-rated efficiency.
    2. Reverse your ceiling fans. Check any ceiling fans in your home to see if they are rotation reversible. Running the fan blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat produces a downdraft that recirculates the heated air rising to the ceiling. You might be able to keep the heat turned down a couple of notches and save on your heating bill!
    3. Hit the roof. Damaged or loose shingles can happen in the winter months letting in leaks from storms or melting ice and snow. If you are not one for heights, try using a pair of binoculars to scan the roof. Don’t forget to check the flashing seals around vents and chimneys, too.
    4. Drain the main. Undrained exterior water pipes and lawn watering systems can freeze, causing cracked and burst pipes as ice expands. If your home is more than 10 years old, you may not have frost-proof faucets. Check with your water department or lawn sprinkler company to make sure the job is done right.
    5. Stock the essentials. Double check your cold-weather essentials regularly. Ice melt and other essentials can disappear quickly if the winter is a long one.
    6. Focus on insulation. Most insulation can be installed year around. Check with your local weatherization company or hardware store to see about getting your attic or basement insulation as soon as possible. Think of the savings on your heating bill!
    7. Check for fire safety. Make sure your fire extinguishers are charged to their full capacity, and double check the batteries in your smoke detectors. This is especially important if you have a fireplace in your home and around Christmas time.
    8. Clean those chimneys. Chimney fires account for 30 percent of home heating fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Even if you are super-efficient about your fall chimney sweeping, be sure to check your chimney and vents are clean and in good repair regularly during the winter months. Santa won’t be the only one who will appreciate it!

My hope for everyone is to have a safe and warm winter. I am sure there are a dozen more tune-ups out there any homeowner can think of to add to their list. If you would like to stop in and give me your ideas, or if you are looking for a cozy new home this winter contact Jacobson Realty and Home Staging to get the conversation started.

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Light Up Your Home to Sell During All Seasons!

Light Up Your Home to Sell During All Seasons!

 photo taken in light

Have you ever had a photo taken in light that was just not flattering? It made you cringe, right? Having the correct lighting is important, not just for your selfies, but for photographing and staging your home to sell. We think about adorning our homes with festive lights at holiday times, but you can improve the look of your home year-round with a few extra lights. Changing the lighting in your home is a simple, inexpensive way to make your home seem open, airy and warm. Here are some tips for illuminating your home to sell:

· Add curb appeal. Motivated homebuyers are viewing your home in daylight hours and after sundown so make sure it looks its best at all times. You always want to keep your front exterior lights on but you can add a few simple outdoor light fixtures to add curb appeal. Solar walkway lights can light up your sidewalk to improve safety and ambiance. A spotlight or two on the front of your house can also add to your house, improve safety and give visitors a clear view of your home’s exterior. Landscape light packages sold at your local Lowe’s and Home Depot stores provide easy install methods while providing dramatic results inexpensively. If you have a beautiful tree, shrub, or flowers let people know by complementing natural beauty with a little added light. And, of course, if you’re selling during the holiday season, a few festive white neutral lights will really show your spirit and help folks envision themselves at home for the holidays when viewing your house.

· Use natural light. Whenever possible, take full advantage of natural daylight. Keep blinds and curtains open during the daytime to light up your home, make it seem open and airy all day long.

· Use flattering light sources. Overhead fluorescent lights are typically harsh while floor lamps and touchier lamps create mood and plenty of up lighting. Use soft, warm tones and rely on smaller lamps to disperse lighting to specific areas. You can also turn lamps during the day to enlarge the sense of space and brighten up your home.

· Add subtle lighting. Small under-counter kitchen lighting shows off your countertops and makes one of the most important rooms in the house warm and inviting. Add wall sconce lighting to places that are short on space. If you have art on your walls, you can showcase it with small light fixtures.

· Change a light fixture. Swapping out dated light fixtures for sleeker, more modern versions can be a wise investment that won’t cost you a lot. Better yet, spray paint old light fixtures with new modern colors to update any look inexpensively. Installing or updating attractive light fixtures is worth the money spent and will always catch a buyers’ eye!

Still not sure what lighting is right for your home? Jacobson Realty and Home Staging can help you fully stage your home to sell quickly and for the best price.Contact us today!

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10 Things to Be Thankful For About a Home

10 Things to Be Thankful For About a Home

time of year

This is the time of year to count our blessings and be truly thankful for all the good things in our lives. Sometimes we might take our homes for granted. But while we’re being mindful of the world around us and thinking about how our lives are enhanced by what we have, let’s take a moment to think about our homes. I suggest being proactive when it comes to maintaining your home so that your home can keep you warm and comfortable this holiday season. Here are some things to be thankful for in our homes.

· A well-tuned HVAC system – I have my system serviced at least every 6 months and change the filters on a regular basis to improve energy efficiency, utility costs and air quality.

· Good quality windows – Energy efficient windows, or windows that have been properly sealed and winterized, can greatly reduce your heating costs and keep you cozy during the holiday months.

· A gas fireplace – There’s nothing like curling up next to a fire on a cold winter’s night. A good gas fireplace with a blower can help circulate the warm air instead of losing it.

· A hot water tank – Make sure it has been inspected and has no signs of leaks. Cover it to reduce energy costs.

· A sump pump that works – Have your sump pump inspected regularly, and consider replacing it after 8 years. My personal worst nightmare was having my sump pump fail on New Year’s Eve and waiting over 3 days with a flooded basement before we could get help.

· Plenty of storage – Whether it’s in your garage, spacious closets or in an outdoor shed, you’ll want plenty of places to stash those holiday decorations after the festivities are over. So make sure they are cleaned out.

· A garage – You can keep your car warmer and avoid scraping ice, frost and snow by keeping it in your garage.

· An insulated front door – This is well worth the investment when you consider the savings in energy and cutting the draft when the winter winds start to blow.

· A washer and dryer that work properly – Get through your laundry quickly and efficiently with a well-maintained washer and dryer.

· A microwave – Get your holiday feast to the table quickly by zapping a few side dishes with this time saver.

· A double oven – Especially if you are hosting your family’s holiday feasts, a double oven can save you so much time preparing the meal.

In addition to all these things, a home gives you protection from the elements, a space to gather your family on the holidays, a place to enjoy a lovely meal you’ve prepared together. If you’re looking for a new space to be thankful for, Jacobson Realty can help. We can professionally stage your home to help buyers envision their next Thanksgiving meal there. We can also help find the next place for your family to settle in and create new holiday memories together. Contact us today!And have a joyous Thanksgiving!

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