Monthly Archives: January 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

Happy 2015!! I trust your year has gotten off to a tremendous start!! Mine certainly has!

First, a quick look back at 2014: Once again, I had my best year ever in the real estate business! The market remains strong, and I continue to be blessed to work with the best clients and partners around!! Inventory is still low, so if you’re thinking about selling, now is the time to pull the trigger! Let me know if you’d like to talk!

The holiday season was fantastic! We kicked off the holidays with Thanksgiving with my dad and brother (and families) in Myrtle Beach. We awoke each day to a beautiful sunrise coming up over the ocean, and it was so nice to spend quality time with family. The food and the company was excellent!

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We spent Christmas at home, which is always nice! Our “big” family present this year was a trip to New York City for a long weekend! We will be headed there this month, and we can’t wait!! My sister, Amy, and her family will be there as well, so it will be great to connect and spend time with them.IMG950370

The girls are off to a great year. McKenzie landed her first “official” job in December, so she has

been very busy with that, school, and church activities. She is working for Harris Teeter, a local grocery store chain, and she is enjoying it very much. She’s a cashier, and she’s doing extremely well balancing her life! She also is preparing to take the SAT in late January; here’s wishing her much success there!!

 

Anja’s swimming is going well. She had a great meet in December, called the “Snowflake Invitational.” She dropped time in all but 1 event, so her training has paid off! Her middle school team also continues to dominate the pool. We will have a couple of travel meets coming up – we will travel to Hickory, NC, in February and then to Greensboro, NC, in April.

With my swimming, I have a meet coming up at the end of January. It’s my team’s biggest meet of the year, and we will participate in full force!! Our first year participating at this meet (3 years ago), we had just 8 swimmers. Last year we had 32 (and placed third), and this year we expect to have around 50! We can’t wait. Even as an adult, swimming still holds a special kind of camaraderie. It’s so fun being part of my team!!

Roger has been extremely busy at work, but he was able to take some time off over the holidays to enjoy family and events. In particular, he really enjoyed his time with the girls. His tradition with them is to spend a day with each – shopping for Christmas, and also enjoying a nice lunch or breakfast. They love that time together!

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On the community front, I supported two great charitable organizations in December. I attended and event in support of Turning Point, which is an organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and their children with safe shelter while those victims learn how to break free from their abuser. It’s simply a fantastic organization that has helped so many.

I also supported the USO of NC at an event to raise money and awareness for its mission. The USO of NC has a multitude of programs to support the morale, health and recreational needs of our troops and their families, free of charge to them.

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Both of these organizations do such outstanding work, and I was proud to support each!

 

I hope your 2015 has started with a bang, and here is to great health, happiness and much success!

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One Small Tip to Make a Room Seem Larger

Got space problems? Changing the way your door swings might help, and you can change the look and feel of your room. Here’s how.

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In order to make more room to maneuver in this petite bathroom, the homeowners reinstalled the door so that it swings out.

A 32-inch door typically eats up about 13 sq. ft. of floor space when it swings. Change the door swing and you can decide where to place that wasted space — on the left or right of your doorway, or on the inside or outside of the wall.

Here are some advantages of changing the swing:

  • Change the swing from inside to outside, and you can reclaim the entire 13 sq. ft. in a small room, which could let you have that sofa after all.
  • Change the swing from left to right (or vice versa) and you free up the wall space where the door would rest. Now you’ve got room for a desk, table, or dresser.
  • Remove the door and switch to a sliding or pocket door, and you have 13 sq. ft. to use any way you want.

DIY Basics
Changing the way a door swings might take a carpenter about an hour to do. But you can do it yourself if your carpentry skills are up to snuff. Here’s how:

1.  Remove the existing door, hinges, and strike plate from the doorjamb. (If you’re moving the door so it swings from the opposite side, but still swings into the same room, you won’t have to change the door stop molding.)
2.  Router or chisel new hinge and strike plate recesses on the opposite jamb.
3.  Repair the old hinge locations with wood putty or filler, then prime and paint the jamb.
4.  Rehang the door.
5.  Relocate the doorstop bumper that prevents the door from hitting the wall. Patch and paint the old hole.

If you’re changing the door so it swings into a different room, you can remove the entire doorjamb and turn it around:

1.  Remove the hinge pins and take off the door, leaving hardware in place.
2.  Pry off the casing. If you can save it, great, but it often breaks so be prepared to buy new casing.
3.  Pry off the doorjamb, or use a reciprocating saw and metal-cutting blade to cut the nails holding the doorjamb in place.
4.  Reverse the doorjamb and reinstall it.

You can save yourself a lot of hassle by installing a new, pre-hung door ($240-$401) that swings the way you want. That way you avoid all that moving, routing, and patching.

Code Issues
The International Residential Code (IRC) doesn’t rule on bedroom door swings. But, unless space is an issue, most bedroom doors swing in. That way, if you’ve got to get out in an emergency, the bedroom door doesn’t swing into a hallway blocking or hitting others also fleeing for their lives.

Of course, each local ordinance has its own building code, though most work off the IRC. To be safe, check local codes before construction.

From: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/windows-doors/door-handing/

9 Surprising Things That Add Value to Your House

A home’s value is dependent on many things. Here are nine factors you might not have thought about.  What do surf breaks, Walmarts, and public transportation have in common? Being near any of them can add thousands to your home’s value.

At least that’s what various university researchers have found based on their evaluation of variables that could be influencing home prices. Their conclusions might surprise you. Here’s what they found:

1. Surf Breaks
Being within a mile of a surf break (a spot where surf-able waves happen) adds about $106,000 to a home’s value, according to surfonomics experts at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Reality check: Mother Nature makes surf breaks, so it’s not like you could build your own DIY break to boost your home’s value.

2. Parks and Open Spaces
A desirable public park or other recreational open space boosts the property value of nearby homes by 8%-20%.  One study looked at 16,400 home sales within 1,500 feet of 193 public parks in Portland, Ore., and found these boosts to home values:

  • Natural areas: $10,648
  • Golf courses: $8,849
  • Specialty parks: $5,657
  • Urban parks: $1,214

Reality check: A park that’s not maintained and overcrowded can drag down nearby home values.

3. Living Near a Walmart
Along with making it easier to run out for a gallon of milk at midnight, researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that living within a mile of a Walmart store could raise your home’s value by 1%-2%, and living within half a mile could boost your property value by an additional 1%.

For an average-size home, that’s an uptick of $4,000-$7,000.

Realty check: What you gain in home value, you may end up spending at Walmart.

4. Solar Photovoltaic Systems
California homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems sell for a $17,000 premium over homes without solar systems, according to research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Reality check: Although costs for residential solar power systems are falling, they’re still rather pricey at $15,000-$40,000, depending on the size of your house.

5. Walkability
Being able to stroll to schools, parks, stores, and restaurants will raise your property value anywhere from $4,000-$34,000, says a 2009 study from CEOs for Cities.

Reality check: The biggest boost in walkability values occurred in large, dense cities.

6. Accessory Dwelling Units
Whether it’s a granny flat, an in-law apartment, or a carriage house, having a separate unit can increase your home’s value by 25%-34%, according to a study of 14 properties with accessory dwelling units in Portland, Ore. You can also get a steady stream of income from a second unit.

Reality check: Local governments often ban accessory dwelling units, so check zoning laws, building codes, and homeowners association rules before you add a unit.

7. Professional Sports Arenas
A new pro sports stadium can raise property values in a 2.5-mile radius by an average of $2,214. The closer you are to the new facility, the larger the increase in home value. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Alberta examined house sales in Columbus, Ohio, before and after the city added two sports stadiums.

Reality check: If a stadium is proposed, home values can decline a bit until the project is complete. And if you live really close to a stadium, you may encounter traffic and parking issues.

8. Community Gardens
Planting a community garden raises the value of homes within a 1,000-foot radius by 9.4% within five years, according to research by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and New York University School of Law.

The impact increases over time, and high-quality community gardens have the greatest positive influence. Poor neighborhoods saw the biggest gains in home values.

Reality check: Gardens on privately owned land and in higher-income neighborhoods don’t have the same beneficial influence.

9. Trees
No real surprise here — whether trees are in your yard or just on your street, they’re a valuable asset you should be aware of. Here’s a gauge of how much trees are worth to your home value according to a University of Washington research survey:

  • Mature trees anywhere in your yard: 2%.
  • Mature trees on your street: 3%.
  • Trees in your front yard: 3%-5%.
  • Mature trees in high income neighborhoods: 10%-15%.

Reality check: Trees usually mean work — raking leaves, trimming branches, and keeping roots out of sewer lines.

 

From: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-improvement/9-surprising-things-add-value-your-house/

How to Protect Your Home From Severe Cold

The right tools and pre-winter maintenance will ensure that your home and your family are safe from cold-weather threats.

Homeowners in cold-weather climates, such as the Northeast, Midwest, and mountain areas, are used to facing icy conditions, blizzards, and other cold-weather storms. But here in the southeast we are out of practice for prepping our home for severe temperatures.  Snow, ice, freezing rain, and extreme cold can threaten your home’s structure and your safety. Therefore, it’s important to take measures and invest in the resources you’ll need to deal effectively with winter’s challenges before it gets into full swing.

Understand the Threats

Blizzards: Storms with heavy winds and large amounts of snow accumulation can cause roof or other structural damage and leave you isolated.

Ice storms and ice dams: Ice storms coat structures, trees, power lines, cars, roads — and virtually everything else — with ice. As the ice melts, large chunks can fall and cause injury to anyone below. When ice melts during the day and then re-freezes at night, ice dams, which block water from flowing in the gutter, may form. This condition can force water back under the roof line and cause leaks.

Sleet or freezing rain: Combinations of snow and freezing rain may cause slippery conditions and coat roads, sidewalks, and driveways with ice when temperatures drop.

Protect Yourself
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that home owners have shovels on hand, as well as melting agents, such as rock salt. Some of the new, more environmentally friendly deicers include calcium magnesium acetate and sand to improve traction. Be sure to stock up early in the season, as these agents tend to be in short supply during periods before a well-publicized storm.

FEMA also advises you have enough fuel to maintain heat in your home, as well as a backup heating source: firewood if the home has a working fireplace, or a generator to power heaters in case of power failure. However, use caution as these can represent fire hazards when not used correctly. Be sure to follow directions explicitly and keep a fire extinguisher. Some generators and fireplaces also require proper ventilation, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, so follow directions carefully and keep them away from curtains or other flammable items.

Stock up on extra blankets, warm clothing, and enough food and water to sustain your family in case of a few days of isolation. And a transistor radio with fresh batteries can help keep you updated on news and information in case of a power outage.

Protect Your Home
Before winter, there are some precautions you can take to protect your home from the ravages of cold weather storms:

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Winterize your home. Check shutters, siding, and other exterior materials to ensure they’re secure, says retired contractor and home improvement expert and writer John Wilder of Jacksonville, Fla. High winds, ice, and moisture from winter storms can easily strip off such outside elements if they’re loose.

Be sure that gutters are clear of debris and that walkways are even and don’t represent tripping hazards that can be exacerbated with snow or ice. Caulk drafty windows and apply weather stripping to doors — both inexpensive strategies that can keep heat in your home. Air sealing can help you save about $350 in energy costs or one-third of your average annual heating and cooling costs. The average annual home energy bill is about $2,200, according to Energy Star, of which about $1,000 represents heating and cooling. An assortment of air sealing materials and tools, including silicone foam, caulk, aluminum flashing for flues, and additional insulation, will run roughly $100 to $350.

Winterize pipes. Be sure your pipes, especially those exposed or in unheated areas like crawl spaces, are wrapped in insulation to prevent freezing and bursting. Also, learn where your water shut-off valves are so you can turn off the water supply in case of a leak. Six feet of insulation can cost anywhere from $7 to $17; it’s available at most home improvement stores.

Trim tree branches. Branches that overhang roofs or areas where you park your car — or which are simply overgrown — represent a risk to structures, vehicles, and people. Keep trees trimmed and remove those that are weak or sickly to prevent them from falling on or near your home. Tree trimming and removal pricing varies greatly, and you may have additional restrictions if you live in an historic community or if the trees are close to power lines.

Check with your municipality about any regulations and contact your local Chamber of Commerce, municipal offices, or contractor rating sites like MerchantCircle.com or AngiesList.com to get the names of reputable pros. Tree trimming and removal can be dangerous, so don’t attempt it on your own unless you’re experienced.

By keeping your home in good repair and stocking up on the supplies you’ll need before the rush for rock salt and shovels begins, you’ll be as ready as possible to tough out the storm.

From: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/seasonal-maintenance/protect-your-home-cold-weather-threats/