Prepare Your Home to Sell Now for the Spring Market!

Many people wait to place their home on the market for sale once spring rolls around. Selling your home isn’t a decision to be taken lightly and requires preparation that should begin as early as possible. Here are some tips to get your home “market ready” just in time for spring:

The Basics
The first thing for home-sale prep work is a careful assessment. Is there any chipped paint, worn-out carpet, or other things you might choose to live with but could be a potential turnoff to a would-be buyer? Rooms should be cleaned thoroughly and repairs made. For the exterior of your house it is extremely important to boost curbside appeal.

De-cluttering every room of your home is a key point of action. Remove family mementos and repaint rooms to more neutral colors. Your goal is to have your home appeal to wide variety of home buyers. When they visit your spring open house you want them to picture themselves living there.

Getting it Right
It’s important for homeowners to make sure everything in the house works as it should. For example, if there has been an issue with the stove’s pilot light malfunctioning it’s important to get that fixed. The same is true of testing garage door openers, sinks, toilets, garbage disposals, exhaust fans and other home appliances.

Open and close every window and door and make sure they don’t stick, creak or otherwise present a troublesome function that might frustrate a potential buyer.
Make sure any aspect of the heating and cooling system – regardless of season – is in good working order to help expedite the real estate sales process.

With today’s high-demand seller’s market, there’s a perception that homes “sell themselves.” However, if you want to get through the sales process (with hopefully multiple bids and a quick turnaround), doing all the little things can help ensure your home is in top-tip shape and will help make things go more smoothly. Work with your real estate professional to help identify the areas that could pose the biggest issues and address them in the best way possible.

Need more ideas? Look at some of our past blog articles for home staging and  selling quickly.

If you need assistance with home-related tasks to get your home ready to sell, contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can assist by putting you in contact with vetted home-related vendors.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Home-Maintenance Items to Check On as Winter Arrives

Winter officially begins on December 21, and now is the time for homeowners to perform one last check around their houses before cold and snowy weather sets in. Your home check will help keep everyone safe and warm inside as well as can save you money for utilities and repairs.

Water Pipes
Perhaps the biggest financial risk homes face during the winter is a pipe burst, according to Consumer Reports. When that happens, water can spill into the walls and cause quite a bit of damage long before a problem is even detected. It’s a very good idea for homeowners to assess where they stand with their water pipes.

Pipes that run along the outside of a home or along the ceiling in the basement and are uninsulated could be at risk. Wrapping them in an inexpensive specialized material or even just towels can help protect them.

It’s also a good idea to keep your home at 65 degrees F. or more to avoid large temperature fluctuations that could cause a pipe to burst. Know where your home’s water shutoff is located so you can quickly shut off water in an emergency.

Other Insulations
When insulating pipes, it’s also important for homeowners to make sure they aren’t losing too much heat in their homes from uninsulated attics or other spaces. Since heat rises you may lose a lot more heated air than expected through ceilings. When attics are properly insulated along floors they not only help with heat savings, but its warmth also prevents potential (and undetected) ice dams from forming on the roof.

Up on the Roof
When thinking about your roof, it’s a good idea to make sure all the shingles are in good shape and all gutters are cleared of fallen leaves and other debris that can lead to backups and potential ice dams. A quick trip up a ladder might be all it takes to identify problem areas before they become major issues.

Homeowners should also go around the exterior of their homes and look for any cracks and holes along the edges of window frames and doorways. If you find cracks, be sure to fill them with caulk which will help keep the heated air inside the home. While any individual crack or hole is going to be small, some experts estimate that the collective area of all of them across an entire house can amount to the size of an open window.

Need help with the winter upkeep of your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted service providers to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Test Your Home-Heating System Now!

ThermostatAs the weather gets colder, homeowners need to make sure home-heating systems are ready for the rigors of another winter. There are plenty of ways they can do that – some by themselves, or with professionals involved – but getting it done before the truly cold weather settles in is a must for any house.

The first thing to do when attempting to test a home-heating system is to head down to the furnace and check out your air filters. Experts recommend this should be done once a month and if they’re looking particularly dirty, the filters should be swapped out. (The absolute maximum time between replacing the filters is, in most cases, going to be no longer than three months.)

Other DIY Efforts
It’s a good idea to test the thermostat – especially older models – to make sure it can be easily adjusted to whatever temperature is necessary. Own an older thermostat? Consider installing a “smart” thermostat to give even more responsive control over the home’s temperature.

Homeowners should inspect outside-facing doors and windows carefully for any cracks or fissures. If found – and given many homes have enough small cracks to add up to the size of an open window – patching them can be a great way to increase home-heating efficiency.

When to Call in a Pro
Most people don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with heating systems themselves, and in certain situations it might be a bit dangerous to tackle repairs or maintenance, even with the help of an online guide or how-to video. When a job seems particularly daunting, it’s wise to simply call in an HVAC expert.

This may feel like a less cost-effective option, however, you must consider the trade-off between that initial cost versus having both the initial problem and the mistakes repaired. That comes in addition to the obvious safety risks with fixing a furnace with little experience or know-how. It’s also worth considering that, for new homes with potential heating problems, there may be some fixes that end up voiding the furnace’s warranty, which can be even more costly.

Need a Recommendation for Servicing Your Furnace?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted HVAC professionals to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Seven Tips to Prepare your Home for Winter

Fall is the best time to take advantage of the weather to winterize your home. A handful of quick and easy projects can help avoid serious issues and potentially even save money. Here are seven tips for getting your property ready for the snow and sleet, whipping winds and frigid temperatures that come with winter:

1) Start with the Heat
Perhaps the easiest way to prepare a home for winter is to look at the furnace and make sure it’s in good working order, according to Popular Mechanics. We recommend hiring a professional to review your heating system yearly.

Additionally, you should swap out old air filters at this time of year. Why change them regularly? Fresh filters will not only make the heating system run more efficiently (which can save a lot of money), but also improve overall air quality in your home.

2) Look for Drafts
A critical aspect of keeping a home well-heated when winter weather arrives is making sure the whole house is as efficient as possible. It’s important to confirm there are no parts of the home where heated air is leaking out. Some home experts note that all the little cracks, fissures and holes around doors and windows in an average house can add up quickly, becoming equal to the size of an open window. Inspect every window for fissures that can be easily patched with caulk or other sealants.

3) Take Care of the Water
Many homes have water lines that run outside of them to spigots on the side of the house or into lawn sprinkler systems. Shut off water access to these water spigots and then flush them out so they’re completely empty to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.

If basements aren’t kept at warmer temperatures or some plumbing runs along the outside of the house, it’s important to properly insulate any pipes in those places to reduce the risk of rupturing or bursting.

4) Up on the Roof
The average homeowner might not put a ton of thought into the condition of the roof simply because there is not an occasion to get a good look at it. Now is the time to get out the ladder and inspect it, because things like missing tiles and damaged shingles can become big problems. When snow piles up on a roof on top of a damaged or missing protective material, the weight and the wetness can combine to cause leaks and even collapses in some extreme cases.

Fall is also the time to clean out gutters so nothing gets clogged during winter months. Ice dams can build up quickly and create some potentially serious water damage that compromises the integrity of that part of the roof.

5) Invest in a New Thermostat
For those with older homes, now is a good time to install a new, advanced thermostat that’s programmable (and possibly Internet enabled). These devices give homeowners a lot of control over their home’s temperature on an ongoing basis. Homes can be programmed to turn down the heat when no one is home – during the school or work day – while maintaining a safe level for the plumbing system. This reduces heating bills and doesn’t strain the furnace. This will save a lot of money in utility bills.

6) Bring it Inside
Homeowners should store lawn furniture and other items to keep them in good shape for upcoming warmer months. Portable generators, grills and lawn equipment shouldn’t be left to the elements and need to be stored safely in the garage, shed or basement.

7) The Fireplace
For anyone with a fireplace, it’s a good idea to make sure it is free of debris for winter. The residue from having too many fires can build up in the chimney or there may be problems from animals nesting there. These issues could lead to some backup of smoke or fire.

Need Assistance with your fall home projects?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for assistance with your home-related projects. They can recommend vetted local service vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

 

Quick and Easy Home-Maintenance Tips

DIY construction toolsA properly functioning house can save homeowners a lot of headaches and money. Not all home repairs have to be complicated with a little know-how. A bit of online research and some elbow grease is more than enough to tackle many issues that can arise. And, there are many home repair and maintenance jobs that can be accomplished in less than an hour with minimal investment

Just like any other kind of home DIY project, home owners should take all due caution when picking up these tasks, investing in the right safety equipment and tools, and proceeding carefully to ensure everything is done safely.

Quick Fixes
If you have a garbage disposal that is not working properly or has smelly odors, simply disconnect it from the power source. Usually it’s a matter of taking it apart and cleaning it out thoroughly.

If you have growing stains on your home’s ceilings, there are a number of products that will cover up stains and reinforce those areas of potential weakness. A hardware professional will be able to recommend which will work best for specific situations. Be sure to put plastic covering and drop cloths in place so the products don’t drip.

Need a new commode in your bathroom? Replacing a toilet is another DIY project. It requires a few tools and materials.

Cut the Noise
If you have a creaky staircase or a floorboard that just won’t stop squeaking, the “know how” needed to fix it is usually minimal. All it takes is locating the joist with a stud finder and applying a small screw to the area (right through the carpet). If one doesn’t work, try adding one or two more until the floorboard is more firmly in place and not making noise. This is the kind of job can be completed in a matter of minutes.

If your kitchen cabinet doors slam unpleasantly when being closed, simply attach little rubber bumpers to their corners. If you prefer to install “soft-close” fixtures, they are a little more expensive but add a nice element to the way closing a cabinet feels. In either case both are relatively easy to install.

Wall maintenance

Other DIY Home-Maintenance Projects
There are many other projects that can be done by a DIYer, such as adding weather stripping, patching a damaged wall, etc… Go here to learn about these and even more more DIY home-maintenance tips.

If DYI is not appealing to you, be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted home-related vendors and services.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

Six Tips for Fall Home Maintenance

Leaves in guttersDuring the fall season it’s important to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your home in good shape before colder weather arrives. Winter weather can inflict some damage on a home and so making sure everything is in good shape now – while the weather is still mild – is always a good idea. Here are six fall home-maintenance tips:

One (1) – Water and Sprinklers
Perhaps the most important place to start with fall home maintenance is outside, especially around driveways, front steps and other parts of the home where people are going to be walking and where ice, snow and slush can make their unwelcome presence felt. Identifying areas where stairs may need to be repaired, cracks and holes patched or smoothed, will help keep you safe from dangerous slip-and-falls. Also, be sure there are lights to illuminate pathways and sidewalks.

Homeowners should also make sure sprinkler systems are flushed out and exterior water connections are shut off to sprinkler systems and outdoor spigots. This will prevents the possibility of having pipes freeze and later bursting. Store all water hoses inside the garage.

If you know there has been water buildup in certain parts of your lawn – especially around the home’s foundation – think about ways to redirecting it. Experts recommend ensuring a six-inch vertical slope over 10 feet of space to usher water away from a home.

Two (2) – Leaves
Be sure the lawn is in good shape as fall arrives. Stay on top of raking when foliage starts to fall. Letting all those fallen leaves sit on a lawn over the winter, especially when compacted by snow, can create dead spots in the grass next spring, so clearing leaves before serious snowfall arrives is a must.

Three (3) – Gutters and Roof 
In addition to clearing leaves, it’s also important to clear out the gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which then result in water building up as snow melts – and potentially leads to a leaky roof.

And while you’re up on the ladder, you should also make sure everything is in good shape on the roof. If any shingles appear to be damaged or missing, they need to be replaced before harsh weather arrives. (Depending upon the scope of any roof issues,  these might not be tasks you personally tackle.)

Four (4) – No Air Leaks
Don’t let warm air escape your home this winter. Use exterior caulk around your home’s exterior to seal any cracks between the trim and siding, windows and door frames.

Five (5) – Furnace
It’s always a good idea to schedule check-up professional maintenance for your heating system to make sure it is in tip-top shape for colder days. Be sure to change your furnace filters regularly.

Six (6) – Fireplace
Make sure the damper opens and closes. Look up into the flue to make sure it is not obstructed with leaves or bird nests. Consider a fireplace and chimney inspection to fix any damaged bricks and mortar.

Need help with your list of things to do this fall? Be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted, home-related services and vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

 

Take Care of these DIY Home Projects Before Summer Ends

Ceiling fanHomeowners often run out of free time once summer ends, so now may be a good time to complete a number of do-it-yourself home projects. Here are our suggestions:

Ceiling Fans
One task many homeowners might not realize is helpful all year long is installing ceiling fans, specifically those that rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. Installing them now, while the weather is still hot, can significantly reduce cooling costs.

Because hot air rises, a ceiling fan that runs clockwise will pull cooler air up from the floor and redistribute it from the top of the room. This can have the effect of cooling a room by as much as 10 degrees in the summer, without the use of an air conditioner. Likewise, a ceiling fan running counterclockwise in the winter will push more of the hot air coming out of heating vents and radiators back toward the floor.

Your Home’s Exterior
Great summer weather for most folks won’t last and it’s always a great idea to ensure your home is completely prepared for fall and winter. Pressure-washing pathways, decks and siding is a great way to beautify your home in just a few hours, without the need to repaint or repave. Renting a pressure washer for the day will usually cost less than $100 from a local hardware store.

Taking the time to clean out gutters and repair them before leaves start to fall and potentially clog the drainage. Getting this done ahead of the winter months, when melting snow and ice can create major problems if left unaddressed, is vital.

The Right Approach
Now might also be the time to make sure you have the proper guidelines to actually do the DIY jobs you set out to do. For example, using a power washer is a great way to keep a home looking beautiful, but if operated incorrectly, this tool can be dangerous both to the user and the property. Study up on how to use your tools properly and have the right safety equipment on hand.

Likewise, when cleaning out gutters, having another person there to hold the ladder is a minimum safety measure that should be undertaken.

Furthermore, there are some home improvement jobs that should not be undertaken by inexperienced homeowners under just about any circumstances, and a little research can go a long way toward determining what’s a reasonable project to DIY and what’s better left to the pros.

Need help with your project? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted home-service professionals!

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com