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Winterizing Your Vacant Home

by Melissa Dierks

Winterizing Your Vacant Home

Whether it is your summer vacation cottage, or your recently vacated home put up for sale, proper winterizing prevents your home from deteriorating while it’s empty and saves you money both now and later.

Make a list

Decide what needs to be done and make a list to check off as you do it. Be sure to add these areas to your list.

  • Plumbing: Turn off water at the exterior of your home. Make sure the lines completely drain by turning on all the taps until no more water comes out. Water remaining in the lines can freeze, causing your pipes to burst and resulting in very expensive repairs both to the pipes and to floor coverings and walls. Blow water from pipes using an air compressor. Pour RV-type anti-freeze in the traps. Close sink and tub drains to keep out critters and preventing odors. Cover the toilet bowl with plastic wrap to prevent sewer gasses from entering your home.
  • Appliances: Drain water from your dishwasher, washing machine and your refrigerator’s water lines. Remove your refrigerator’s water filter so that it does not freeze and break inside the refrigerator. Drain and turn off your water heater. If your power will be off, completely empty and clean your refrigerator, then prop the door open to prevent mold growth.
  • Utilities: If your home has power during the winter, set your thermostat low, but warm enough to prevent freezing and to keep your home dry so that mold does not grow. Also, unplug all appliances, including televisions and microwaves to prevent risk of fire from faulty wires.
  • Pests: Remember that mice and rats like warm places. They also like to gnaw on wires. If your home is prone to pests when it is empty, set out bait or traps, or consult a pest control professional. Remove any foods stored in boxes or bags, since pests can chew through the cardboard or plastic to get at the stale crackers or cereal inside.
  • Remove any liquids that might freeze. This includes bottled water, soda or beer in cans or bottles, and even paint.
  • Close flues and dampers, windows and vents. Seal any opening that might invite pests or the cold into your home.
  • Closing shutters or drapes will keep the sun from fading your carpet and protect your windows from inclement weather such as hail.
  • Wash linens and store them in plastic bags. The vacuum-sealed storage bags repel water, dirt and insects and protect your sheets, towels and blankets from mildew and mold.

If your home is for sale

When your vacant home is for sale, it is smart to leave the power on. If the home uses gas for heating, then be sure to leave the gas on as well. Buyers want to see the home, so if it is too cold or too dark, your home is less likely to sell. Check with us about managing your empty property.

Compliments of Virtual Results

The First Thanksgiving in Your New Home

by Melissa Dierks

The First Thanksgiving in Your New Home

You’ve invited everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with you in your new home … a joy-filled day with family and friends, good company, great food, celebrating old traditions and creating new ones!  The first holiday gathering in your new home celebrates more than the season, it celebrates the start of special memories in a new place.

To mark your first Thanksgiving in your new home, consider these ideas:

The Decor

Most likely, you’ve spent your decorating budget on long-term furnishings for your new place.

  • To add a little holiday panache, create a centerpiece of beeswax candles, gourds, mini pumpkins and dried leaves.
  • Or place some bare branches in a vase. Have everyone write something they’re thankful for on a paper leaf and tie it to the tree. As you gather for the meal, let everyone choose a leaf to read.
  • A floral basket with late blooms from you new backyard blend nicely with branches of dried berries and white pumpkins.

For more simple and beautiful centerpiece ideas, check out these great options or search on “thanksgiving decorations” on Pinterest to see what others are doing.

Realize, too, that your new home may be décor enough since many friends and family will be seeing it for the first time.

The Feast

Whether your plans include an elaborate spread or simpler fare, everyone loves to get involved. So, let Great Aunt Lydia bring her famous fruit salad, and let the kids make the green bean casserole. Part of the fun is in the doing and the best memories include both the old traditions and the new.

Speaking of new … try a simple new recipe like Sweet and White Mashed Potato Swirl, or an easy make-ahead fresh cranberry Jello salad or a cranberry mimosa. Simplify the day by making some of your meal in a slow-cooker. If you’re adventuresome, try a Cajun-style deep-fried turkey.

If your new home is smaller, consider serving buffet-style. If you live in a warmer clime, perhaps adding a portable outdoor heater can extend your dining area to the patio.

The best advice?

Enjoy the time with family and friends. Don’t make your menu so complex that all your attention is on the meal preparations instead of your guests. If there are ways to minimize the mess — foil pans, paper plates, etc. — and simplify the cleanup, so much the better. You don’t want to miss out on family tag football in your new backyard because you had dishes to do and pots to scrub.

Need a new home for the next holiday?

If you’re not yet in your new home, we can help you find one for the next holiday. Give us a call … we might even help you find a Black Friday special over the holiday weekend and get you well on your way to celebrating next Thanksgiving in your new place.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What to Know about Fall Leaves and Your Home

by Melissa Dierks

What to Know about Fall Leaves and Your Home

This time of year, leaves turn beautiful shades of red, vermillion, orange and yellow. We enjoy their beauty. We take photographs. We collect them. Our children play in them. For a homeowner, however, leaves pose the possibility of damage to their landscaping, their home and their relationships.

Leaves and lawn-care

If you’re new to homeownership, you may not know that while allowing leaves to lay a thick carpet over your lawn is beautiful, a solid mat of large wet leaves, such as those from oak, maple or sycamore trees, can damage your lawn. They promote mold growth, cause moisture to run off rather than seep into the ground, and hide the grass from the winter sun.

Experts suggest keeping your lawn clear of leaves. Here are some options to consider:

  • Raking. This historic method of dealing with leaves is still the preferred method for some lawns. If you have specialty turf, lightly raking and removing leaves protects your lawn from damage. Bag leaves or ad them to your compost pile. Remember that paper bags will decompose much more quickly than plastic ones. If your city offers leave removal, be sure to utilize the appropriate process required.
  • Mulching. Many mowers have mulch settings that chop the leaves into smaller bits that you can leave on the lawn to decompose naturally, and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Blowing. Many gardening professionals prefer blowing leaves out of flowerbeds and lawns with power blowers into large piles to then “vacuum” them up with large machinery and haul them away. Typically, you would hire a professional to do this since purchasing the equipment for yourself might be cost prohibitive.

Leaves and gutter-care

Blowing and falling leaves create problems for your gutters. Once most of the leaves have fallen, you should have your gutters inspected for clogs. A clogged gutter is more than just an inconvenience. It can cause water and ice to back up under your roof creating leaks and other damage. When rainwater overflows a clogged gutter or plugged downspout, your fascia and soffits are endangered, too. Water backing up a downspout may dislodge or warp gutters, pulling them away from your house. When water spills down the sides of your home, it damages windows, walls and even your foundation.

Consider a professional gutter-cleaning service, especially if your home has more than one story. You might investigate gutter guards if your property is particularly prone to leaf buildup. Your local gutter professional can help you determine what works best in your situation.

Leaves and relationships

Most municipalities consider leaves to be a natural product, so while a homeowner might be responsible for damage to a neighbor’s home from a falling branch, that is not the case with falling leaves. So, when the leaves from your yard blow into your neighbor’s yard, he may not have a legal claim, but it will strain your neighborly relationships. Make sure to talk to your new neighbors about the leaf situation. If she finds them a nuisance, you might offer to rake her yard as well. The best neighbors come up with a solution together.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Can I Sell My House with a Reverse Mortgage?

by Melissa Dierks

Can I Sell My House with a Reverse Mortgage?To help you through your retirement, you took out a reverse mortgage on your family home. Now, several years into your retirement, you son wants to buy his childhood home so you can move to a warmer climate. Can you sell your home?

Reverse mortgage

A so-called “reverse mortgage” is a home loan that offers regular cash payments (in a single lump sum, a monthly advance, a line of credit, or a combination of the three) to a homeowner based on the home’s equity. The borrower must be above the age of 62 (in the U.S.) and the home must be his/her principle residence. Economists proposed the loans as a means of assisting seniors in maintaining a level income, and the IRS does not consider funds from a reverse mortgage to be income, but rather, loan advances.

Repayment

Typically, the borrower can defer repayment of the loan until he dies, sells the home or moves away from the home for more than 12 consecutive months. When the loan comes due, the borrower or her heirs may refinance the loan, pay the loan with interest or sell the home, cashing out any remaining equity. Alternatively, they may turn the home over to the lender of the reverse mortgage, giving up all claims to the property or the equity in the property. With a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage), available through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), the borrower can never owe more than the home is worth, so the lender only has recourse on the property, not the borrower or the borrower’s heirs.

Selling the home

The interest on a reverse mortgage compounds over the life of the loan, which means that each month, interest accrues on both the borrowed amount and the unpaid interest. The final mortgage owed may be much higher than the original amount borrowed. If selling the home, here are the first steps to take:

  1. Determine how much is owed. You will owe all of the money borrowed to-date, compounded interest on that money, and fees that the lender may charge.
  2. Obtain a payoff quote from the lender. This gives you an estimate of the amount required to pay the loan in full. Remember that a payoff quote is for a specific date or date range, so if the sale takes longer than anticipated, the final amount likely will be higher than the quote.
  3. Contact your real estate agent. We not only can help you with the sale of your home, we can help determine the fair market value and determine if selling a home with a reverse mortgage is appropriate for your situation.

When the home sells, the reverse mortgage will be paid from the proceeds of the sale. Any remaining monies after paying off your real estate agent and any liens, fees or other loans will be yours.

Remember that the original reverse mortgage loan may be higher than what the property currently is worth. In that case, it may not be in your best interest to sell the home. We can help you determine if selling your home is the right decision for your circumstances.

Compliments of Virtual Results

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Melissa Dierks
Keller Williams Professional Partners
7025 W Bell Road, Suite 10
Glendale AZ 85308
Direct: (623)229-0154
Office: (623)643-1092
Fax: (623)201-7562

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