September Home Checklist

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Will Your Current House Fit Your Needs in Retirement?

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether or not to sell their homes and move will become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.1

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to afford your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.”

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association (HOA) fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $16,300 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind in knowing that you do not have to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or moving in to a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Having to install handrails and make sure that your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Are you looking for a new home? Visit our website to see all homes for sale in the mid-MO area!

How to Water a Lawn, and When: Odds Are, You’re Doing It All Wrong

Aspheric/iStock

Wondering how to water a lawn? Sadly, it’s not quite as simple as just turning on the sprinklers and walking away. The number of times you water your lawn throughout the year and how much water you give the grass matter—so if you’re foggy on the details, allow this latest installment of our Lawn Lover’s Guide to show you the ropes!

Read on to learn how to water a lawn, and when, how often your grass needs water, and a whole lot more to amp up your lawn care.

Why you should water your lawn

Grass may not be as difficult to maintain as a vegetable garden, but if you want to keep your yard looking green and gorgeous, you can’t just treat it with benign neglect. Aerating, seeding, and watering your lawn are all part of keeping your curb appeal intact.

“When you don’t give your lawn enough water, it grows with shallow roots,” explains Don Botts, the president of Quality All-Care Services, in Bonner Springs, KS. “This can stunt the growth of your grass and make it harder for your lawn to survive severe temperatures or disease.”

If you stop watering your lawn entirely, warns Chris Bartells, owner of Green Mountain Turf Sprinkler Repair in Lakewood, CO, you’ll start to notice brown patches emerging in a matter of weeks, as the grass begins to lose moisture.

“Pretty soon, your lawn will be more brown than it is green, the soil will harden, making it harder for water to penetrate it when you do water it, and will likely need a reseeding if you ever plan on restoring it to its former glory,” Bartells says.

There is one exception to the watering rule: If you live in a climate where it rains regularly or you’re going through a rainy spell, it’s OK to skip out on watering your lawn—it can actually be more harmful to your grass to overwater, increasing the risk of grass disease.

That said, you probably need to water your lawn, so let’s talk about how to do it the right way.

When to water your lawn

Before you even think about hitting the grass with a steady spray of water, you’ll want to make sure you know the best time of day to do it. Although many folks assume night time is best, most experts will tell you that’s a myth.

“There are a lot of people who are surprised to find out that watering your lawn at the wrong time of day can have such an impact,” says Botts. “Watering at night often means that water will sit on your grass overnight, which can lead to disease.”

Another no-no? Watering in the hottest part of the day. Although you may think your thirsty lawn wants a drink midday, the heat will cause evaporation to happen quickly, before water has had a chance to reach the roots of your grass.

The best time of day to water is in the morning, if possible some time between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., Botts says. 

How to water your lawn if you have sprinklers installed

If you’ve moved into a home with sprinklers already installed in the lawn, you’re in luck. They will do the bulk of the work for you.

Bartells suggests placing a few empty cans of tuna or cat food in the spaces between your sprinkler heads, then turning your sprinklers on, allowing them to run for 15 to 20 minutes.

“Then measure how many inches of water is in each can, using a ruler,” Bartells suggests. “Average that by the amount of time you ran your system, and you should end up with a pretty good estimate of how long your lawn needs to be watered to get the full inch or two of water that it needs [per week].”

Depending on your soil type, you may want to water your lawn all at once, or break it into two or even three equal applications throughout the week. Longer stretches of watering are better for the lawn than quick daily sessions.

“You want deep roots, but watering them for short amounts of time daily instead of watering them for 20 minutes or so once a week or every other day is like splashing them with water without actually letting them drink it,” says Bartells.

How to water your lawn (without installed sprinklers)

Watering your lawn when you don’t have sprinklers means more work for you, but just looking at that gorgeous greenery will ensure that hard work is worth it.

Botts advises investing in a rain gauge, so you can determine just how much water your lawn is getting from nature. If it’s less than 1 to 3 inches, you can set up a rotating sprinkler (the type kids like to run in and out of during the summer works well), setting it in one part of the lawn for 15 to 20 minutes, then moving to spots that weren’t reached and allowing it to run again for 15 to 20 minutes and so on. The tuna can trick works here too, and will help you gauge just how long to run the sprinkler.

If you don’t have a sprinkler, you can use a hose, with the nozzle attachment set to “sprinkle.” Be sure to move around the yard, hitting all areas of your lawn with the water.

If your lawn has clay-based soils, you’ll want to water once a week, Botts says. If you have sandy soils, you’ll probably need to water every three days or so.

“If there are sloped areas in your lawn where water runs off quickly, spots where the afternoon sun roasts harder than others, or areas that are heavily shaded, you may have to pay extra attention to make sure that your lawn is getting enough water,” Botts adds.

 

Posted by Jeanne Sager on realtor.com

Are You Ready to Graduate From Renting to Owning a Home?

With graduation season in full swing, many may be pondering a change in their living quarters. Some may be moving out of Mom and Dad’s house into dorms, or maybe out of dorms into their own apartments.

But what if you’re ready to take an even bigger step—moving out of a rental into a home you can call your own?

Buying a house, after all, is a great way to put down roots and build wealth (since homes tend to appreciate so you can sell later for a profit). But purchasing property isn’t a simple process, so you should make sure you’re prepared.

So, how do you know if you’re ready to move from an apartment to a house? Ask yourself these questions below to get a sense of where you’re at—or what you have to do to transition easily into home-buying mode once the time is right.

jacoblund/iStock

Can you afford to buy a home?

For starters, let’s talk money. Buying a home is a hefty purchase, probably the largest you’ll ever make. So, you’ll need a down payment (typically recommended to be 20% of the home’s purchase price) and steady income (i.e., a job) to pay your mortgage.

There are other costs also associated with homeownership:

  • Closing costs (typically 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price)
  • Home insurance (cost varies by state)
  • Maintenance
  • Utilities
  • Budget for unseen repairs and emergencies

While renting might seem more economical than owning at first glance, that’s not always the case; our rent vs. buy calculator can help you compare the costs. You might be surprised by the results!

Another good first step to figuring out whether you can afford a house is to enter your salary and town of residence into a home affordability calculator, which will show you how much you’d pay for a mortgage on a typical house in that area. Or talk with a loan officer about whether you would qualify for a mortgage, and how much you can spend comfortably. Such consultations are free, and will give you a concrete dollars-and-cents sense of where you stand.

Are you settled in your job?

Your job situation is not only important in terms of income to buy a home, but also whether you’re happy where you work and plan to stay put. Because once you own a home, your career prospects do narrow somewhat, purely because a home anchors you to one area.

“Homeowners tend to have fewer job opportunities compared to renters, since renters can easily accept a job in another city or state,” says Reid Breitman, managing partner at Kuzyk Law, in Los Angeles. “A homeowner may decline such an opportunity because they don’t want to go through the cost, time, and expense of selling their home. So, it may be better to wait to purchase a house until after you’re firmly established in your employment situation.”

Do you know where you want to live?

Since moving once you own a home is not as easy as just packing your bags (which, let’s face it, is a hassle in itself), you really need to make sure you’re picking a home in an area where you’ll be happy.

“It’s not easy to just sell a house and move to a new one if intolerable neighborhood issues come up, since the transaction cost to sell—up to 8% to 10% of the sale price for brokerage feesescrowtitle, and other costs of sale—would be relatively very expensive,” Breitman says. “So you need to really scope out the neighborhood.”

When in doubt, try renting for a few months to make sure you like the area before you start shopping for a home to own for good.

How much home maintenance are you willing to tackle?

If you love the challenge of fixing a leaky faucet and figuring out which shrubs will flourish in your yard, homeownership may be right up your alley. But if the idea of mowing a lawn or messing with the HVAC makes you depressed, then you may want to stick with renting, which gives you a roof over your head without the work.

“Apartment renters don’t have many home-related responsibilities,” explains Brian Davis, director of SparkRental, in Baltimore. “If something breaks, they call the landlord. Often, they don’t even need to worry about setting up utilities; they either come with the building, or the process is merely changing the name on an existing utility account.”

Living in a house you own is a different story. There’s no landlord to call if anything goes wrong; it’s all up to you. So you have to be either adept as a handyman, or willing to find and pay someone else to do such tasks. Or else consider buying a condo or co-op, where the lawns and public areas around your home are maintained by hired help.

Bottom line: Owning a home is a big commitment. So before you jump into it, you should have confidence that it works for your circumstances.

“No one should feel like they have to follow a template, that by reaching a certain age or having a certain number of children they need a house in the suburbs,” Davis says. “So forget the clichés and movies, and decide based on you.”

 

Posted by Julie Ryan Evans on realtor.com

Ready to buy? Visit our website to get started with one of our agents!

How to Love Your Home Again

If you’re not “feelin’ the love” for your home that you did when you first moved in, that doesn’t mean it’s time to “up anchor” and find a new place to live – often all it takes is a few changes to make your house feel like home again.

Start by remembering where it all started.

Think back to when you first moved in. What was the first meal that you cooked…you know…the one you made after all of your dishes, pots and pans were put away and the new place finally started to feel like home?

Or the first birthday party or anniversary? Then ask yourself…what’s changed?

Once you’ve figured out what’s different, you can do what you need to do to love your home again.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Banish clutter and disorganization

You might not realize it, but clutter adds to stress and can impact the love you feel for your home in a big way.

Are your closets stuffed to capacity? Do dishes try to slide out of your cabinets when you open the doors?

How much time do you waste looking for things that you’ve misplaced?

Clear out the clutter and you go a long way to feeling more affection towards your home.

Baby steps

Don’t let the idea of decluttering and organizing your home add to your stress. Set aside as little as 15 minutes each day to tackle your mess and it will be done in record time. It’s better to do a little every day than overwhelm yourself getting it done over a weekend.

Decorative storage

Once you’ve rid your home of things you no longer need or love, it’s time to organize what remains. Decorative storage (e.g. a wicker basket or vase) serves double duty as both a place for your things and a beautiful piece that makes you smile.

Use aromatherapy

Use a mister or scented candles in a fragrance that you love to wind down after a long day. While you might be tempted to save them for only those times you have company, don’t – when you bathe your senses in beautiful scents you’ll reduce your stress level and feel more affection for your home.

Put wasted space to good use

Have a spare bedroom that’s filled with clutter or a back entryway that’s sitting unused?

Repurpose those areas of your home that aren’t being used or that can be repurposed. For example, if your dining room table is also home to your computer, reclaim the table for family dinners (instead of eating in front of the tv).

Place a beautiful centerpiece and/or placemats and keep clutter from reclaiming it and you’ll be surprised just how much you’ll love having your dining room table back!

Revamp your existing furniture

Nobody said you had to spend thousands of dollars on furniture to give you warm fuzzies about your home.

Once you know how to do it, it’s really not that hard to change the feel of your home by modifying your existing furniture. Products such as chalk paint and milk paint work wonders and can really breathe new life into a tired (boring) piece of furniture.

Finally, remember that your home is your escape from the stress and pressures of everyday life. All it takes is a few small touches of colors, textures, lighting and beautiful fragrances to help you fall in love with your home all over again.

 

Posted on HomeZada

 

Don’t Put a Freeze on Home Maintenance! Your Handy Winter Checklist Is Here

Robert Kirk/iStock; realtor.com

Ah, January. The time of new beginnings, new resolutions, and, in most of the country, a seemingly endless stretch of cold and gloom. We get it: You just want to hibernate, catch up on “The Crown,” and scroll Instagram. But before you take up permanent residence on the couch (or treadmill, if you’re on that kick), take heed: This is the absolute worst time to have a major home maintenance problem.

“Catastrophic issues tend to happen in the winter—and when those occur, nine times out of 10 it’s due to failing to plan,” says Janet O’Dea, owner of Powers Plumbing in San Diego. “Taking some time to anticipate and be ahead of maintenance issues throughout the year takes a lot of pressure off.”

We couldn’t agree more. And that’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you, season by season, so you can avoid the pain (and expense) of costly home repairs. Now that’s a resolution we can get behind!

1. Get ready for (more) winter storms

In most parts of the country, ’tis the season for freezing rain, sleet, and blizzards. Ensure you’re ready for the next big storm before it strands you.

DIY: First, make sure you have a working generator, and keep a stash of batteries for flashlights and lanterns at the ready. 

“Heavy snows and ice can take down power lines and leave you in the cold and dark,” says Krystal Rogers-Nelson of home safety and security company SafeWise.

Also a must-have: a solar-powered or battery-operated radio to keep you up to date on news in case cellphone reception goes out. Check the condition of your snow shovels, gloves, and window scrapers, and store snowy weather supplies near the door where you can access them easily.

We also love this novel tip from home maintenance expert Laura Gaskill: Mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles, to help snow plowers see where to go.

Finally, a buildup of heavy snow on tree limbs can make them more prone to breaking, Gaskill notes, so brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach.

Call in the pros: If a limb is buckling, have it removed as soon as the weather permits—expect to spend $75 to $150, depending on how much of the tree you lost.

2. Clean your oven

Now we’re cooking! Clean your oven to make it more efficient.powerofforever/iStock

“Homemade food can really contribute to winter coziness at home, but unfortunately, the oven and its vents can easily turn into the dirtiest feature in the kitchen because they collect a lot of grime and grease,” says Jasmine Hobbs of London Cleaning Team.

And over time, built-up grease can cause your appliance to use more power while turned on.

DIY: To clean your hood filters, fill a sink or a bucket with boiling water; add a quarter-cup baking soda and some liquid dish soap. Mix well and submerge the filters. Let them soak for a couple of minutes and rinse thoroughly. If your oven has a self-cleaning function, use it at least once a month. If not, apply a paste of baking soda and water, then scrub.

Call in the pros: If you never clean your oven and the thought of all that stuck-on grease is putting you in panic mode, you can call a reputable cleaning service. Most pro cleaners will charge a flat rate for whole-house cleaning and will include the oven; you’ll spend between $115 and $236 for the whole kit and caboodle, depending on where you live and your home’s grime level.

3. Inspect the property

Yes, it’s cold and the last thing you probably want to do this time of year is walk around outside. But trust us, it’s time well-spent.

“Home issues that are more susceptible in the winter—such as frozen pipes, window and door drafts, and the condition of a home’s gutters—can be easily detected during this time of year,” says Patrick Knight of WIN Home Inspection.

DIY: Most big inspection issues are best left to a pro, but while you’re taking stock, check off this easy to-do: Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. You should be doing this regularly, but it’s even more important in the winter months, when windows tend to be closed and heaters are running overtime.

Call in the pros: Consider spending some of that Christmas cash on a professional inspection, especially if it’s been a while. Strong winter winds and cold temps help inspectors detect drafts and insulation failures. Plus, winter gives inspectors a better idea of how the home structure and roof holds with the extra weight of snow and ice. And fireplaces and heating systems are more active during the winter months, making identifying problems easier.

It’s also a great time to check out crawl spaces and attics, which can easily reach temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more in the summer months, making safe inspections nearly impossible.

Expect to spend upward of $300—and be sure you select a licensed, insured, and experienced pro for the job.

4. Take care of your wood floors

Woodwork: Clean your wood floors to protect them from winter’s wear and tear.seb_ra/iStock

Winter can wreak major havoc on wood floors: Rock salt can stain wood (and its rough crystals can scratch floors), while indoor heaters can dry it out, causing problems like shrinkage and cracked floorboards.

DIY: Avoid using vinegar to remove stains, advises Dave Murphy of N-Hance Wood Refinishing. Instead, place rugs and mats in the highest-traffic areas. To lock moisture in the air and prevent heat-related damage to your floorboards, run a humidifier. And, of course, engage in routine sweeping, dusting, and mopping.

“This will also prevent particle and salt buildup,” Murphy says. “And remember to mop with the boards, and not against the grain.”

Call in the pros: In the end, winter’s effects may be too harsh to manage on your own. Consider professional refinishing, which averages between $1.50 and $4 per square foot.

5. Block drafts

With temperatures down and indoor heaters working overtime, you’ll know if your weatherstripping isn’t up to par. And over time, all that unwanted cold air can increase your energy bill in a major way.

DIY: If the cold air is getting in under a door, pick up a door sweep at a local home improvement store. This doodad is typically made of hard plastic and attaches to the bottom of your door, sealing any gaps.

Call in the pros: Feel like you’re wasting way too much energy during the winter months? Conduct an energy audit. A trained auditor can assess your home’s current energy efficiency and give you a list of recommended improvements. You can also find instructions for a DIY energy audit at Energy.gov.

6. Alleviate allergens

An estimated 50 million Americans live with allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and many of their conditions are exacerbated by indoor allergens such as dust mites and animal dander.

The main sources of indoor allergens? Pets top the list, of course, but other culprits include wall-to-wall carpet, soft furniture, stuffed toys, bedding, damp areas, indoor plants, mattresses that aren’t in allergen-resistant covers, and pillows and bedding that can’t be washed in hot water.

DIY: Clean dust from your blinds and ceiling fans using your vacuum’s attachment kit, and make it a regular practice to vacuum all upholstery and carpets.

Once a week, wash your bedding in hot water (at a temperature hotter than 130 degrees), and consider investing in an air purifier with a HEPA filter, which can filter almost 98% of allergen particles in the air, according to the AAFA.

Another good buy?  A zippered allergen-resistant cover for your mattress, which the AAFA says is even more effective than an air purifier at removing indoor allergens.

Call in the pros: For your living room upholstery and other soft furniture, consider professional steam cleaning. Expect to spend upward of $200.

 

Posted by Holly Amaya on realtor.com

This Checklist Is the Key to Taking Care of Your Home (Without the Stress)

2018 is going to be your home’s cleanest, most organized year yet.

Here’s an easy way to get on top of your home maintenance checklist in the new year: Take it one small chunk at a time!

Little steps add up to big results. And if you dedicate some time to home maintenance — two hours a week, an afternoon per month and a couple of days a year — your home will remain in tiptop shape this year.

Here’s our easy-to-follow checklist:

Weekly home maintenance

Your weekly home maintenance ritual will be largely determined by the features of your home, but may include some of the following tasks:

  • Give all your carpets a thorough vacuuming. Or, if you have hardwood floors, give them a good once-over with a large dust-mop.
  • Plan to spend 30 minutes performing one small maintenance task in your yard, such as pruning a tree or shrub, painting a mailbox, or blowing leaves and debris from a garden path or sidewalk.
  • Do some bathroom maintenance. Again, we’re talking about biting things off in small chunks here! Some examples:
    • Pick a drain used by a person with long hair, and clean it out with a Zip-It tool.
    • Spend some time repairing damaged tile grout in a shower or tub.
    • Clean the mineral sediment out of a showerhead.
  • Freshen up your garbage disposal. Run a tray of ice cubes through it, along with some baking soda or lemon rinds, and voila! It’ll be clean and fresh again.
  • Clean the outside of all appliances and the inside of one appliance per week. For instance, if you clean out the refrigerator this week, run a cleaning tablet through your dishwasher next week, and wipe out your dryer the following week.

Shutterstock ID 683730031; Requester Name: Cat Overman; Project: blog post; Client/Licensee: ; Other:

Monthly home maintenance

These are the projects we all know we should do regularly but often don’t get to. Just pick an afternoon, and go for it!

  • Clean the range hood and filter. This is one of those areas that we often forget about, but if you don’t take care of it on a regular basis, it will become unmanageably greasy and dirty over time.
  • Clean the furnace filter, and replace it if needed. This will help your furnace run efficiently, keeping utility bills down.
  • Polish wood furniture, dust light fixtures and wipe down baseboards.
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re functioning and don’t need new batteries. If you have a fire extinguisher, make sure it’s fully charged.
  • Visually inspect the outside of your home for problems or issues, such as loose shingles, damaged siding, insect nests, or overgrown trees or shrubbery. Make a note to correct the problems!

Shutterstock ID 281534546; Requester Name: Cat Overman; Project: blog post; Client/Licensee: ; Other:

Yearly home maintenance

Schedule these tasks in a way that makes sense to you. You can do them on a seasonal basis or just schedule one or two days per year to knock everything out.

Here are some bigger tasks to take on once a year:

  • Clean and organize your garage, basement or attic. This is a maintenance task that everyone dreads doing, but it feels so good once it’s done! Plus, you’ll most likely discover some forgotten treasures to either donate to charity or sell online.
  • Wash windows and window screens, and let the sunshine in! While this task is often done in the spring, you can do it any time of the year.
  • Take on one major outdoor improvement project per year, and schedule a day or two to complete it. For example, you might want to install a fence, refinish a large deck, patch up an asphalt or concrete driveway, or install raised garden beds.
  • Clean out gutters, check under the eaves, remove trees or shrubbery that are encroaching on your home, and install wire grates in any holes to keep pests out.
  • Freshen up one room in your home. Pick any room, and give it a mini makeover. For instance, you can repaint it, switch curtains, move the furniture, and add plants and knickknacks to give it a whole new look. If you do this with one room per year, in a few years, your whole home will look terrific!

By following this easy checklist, you can have a wonderfully maintained home with a minimal investment of time and energy.

 

Posted by Jane Drill on Zillow