Scott Smolen Blog

March 24, 2020

Do You Want a Healthier Home? These 3 Projects Are the Place to Start

By: Curtis Fisher

Everyone wants their family to be as healthy as possible. To that end, you cook homemade meals, get active as a family, and promote healthy lifestyle choices. But have you thought about how your home is affecting your family’s health? We’re not just talking about whether your kids have a backyard to play in or the food that stocks your fridge. Your home itself also has a direct impact on your family’s well-being. Want to learn more? Here are three things that could be hurting your family’s health at home and what you can do to change them.

1. Poor Kitchen Ventilation

Foodies know that gas ranges are better, but if you’re cooking on a gas stove-top without proper ventilation, you could be releasing toxic fumes into your home. Gas appliances produce carbon monoxide that can be fatal at high levels. Cooks with electric stoves aren’t in the clear either. No matter what type of appliance you’re using, the very act of cooking releases fumes and particulate matter into the air.

Keep your air clean while cooking by installing a range hood vent. You can choose between ducted and ductless range hoods, but keep in mind that ductless range hoods only recirculate air, not vent it outdoors. Range hood installation runs $200-$500 plus the cost of your new range hood, but prices increase considerably if you need to install ductwork.

There are a lot of little things you can do to create a healthier home for your family, from opening the windows for a few minutes every day to choosing non-toxic cleaning products. However, it’s important to make sure you’re not getting so caught up in the details that you overlook the big things affecting your family’s health. From what covers your walls and floors to the gases and fumes that enter your home, make sure you’re paying attention to the ways your house helps — or harms — your health.

2. Your Flooring

Everyone has opinions on which type of flooring is best. However, if you’re choosing your flooring based on how it feels underfoot or how easy it is to clean, you may be paying attention to the wrong things.

The truth is, flooring has a big impact on indoor air quality, and some popular flooring options get less-than-stellar scores. Engineered flooring materials like vinyl are made with synthetic materials and adhesives that off-gas volatile organic compounds into your home. Carpet is guilty of this too, in addition to trapping dust mites, dander, pollen, mold, and other pollutants that taint the air you breathe.

When it comes to flooring, the best choices are natural materials like solid hardwood. While hardwood floors are more expensive than other options, their durability means you’ll enjoy your floors for years to come. Hardwood flooring plus installation averages $6-$22 per square foot depending on wood type, although you may pay more if you need sub-floor repairs.

3. Lead Paint

Older homes are filled with history and charm. Unfortunately, they’re sometimes also filled with lead paint. Lead paint was used in some homes built before 1978 and still appears in homes built after lead paint was banned from time to time. It’s possible to encapsulate lead paint that’s in good condition, but lead paint that’s chipping, flaking, or cracking requires abatement to stop it from becoming a health hazard. 

Photo by deborah cortelazzi on Unsplash

 

Posted in Home Improvements
March 9, 2020

3 of the Best Home Upgrades for Remodeling Your Way to Better Health

 

Your Way to Better Health

Spending time at home is one of the most enjoyable parts of home-ownership. Unfortunately, many household hazards can impact your family’s health. The good news is that there are upgrades that can not only increase your home’s value but also boost your overall wellness.

Remodeling Projects You Can Easily DIY

While some upgrade projects turn out best when executed by professionals, don’t discount DIY remodeling projects, either. Of course, from a ladder to quality paintbrushes to a decent set of screwdrivers, you will need a few robust tools to handle everything on your DIY list. Ladders, especially, need to be lightweight, adjustable, and easy to maneuver, which makes a telescoping ladder an ideal addition to your collection. Once you have the right equipment, making improvements like putting on a new coat of paint that’s free of VOCs and other toxins can boost your interior air quality at home. Swapping out light fixtures is another simple fix that can have you feeling brighter in no time. For more intensive projects, however, we recommend hiring a professional.

Replacing Carpet with Hardwood or Laminate

Carpet has become less popular as a whole-house flooring material in recent years. And that may be because carpet fibers can harbor many allergens and dust. The manufacturing process also means harsh chemical emissions when you install new carpeting. For many households, ripping out the carpet and replacing it with hardwood or laminate is a smart solution. However, going the DIY route means exposing you and your family to lots of dust, pollen, toxic odors, and other unhealthy elements. Instead, hire a professional to remove the carpet and install your new flooring. Look up tradespeople who offer carpet removal and flooring installation services in a complete package to save on the upgrade.

Installing a Whole-House Air Purifier

If your home’s HVAC system runs year-round, you may only be adding to the allergens and debris in the air. One solution is to install a whole-house air purifier with HEPA filtration. The EPA calls this “source control,” noting that reducing or eliminating sources of toxins is often more effective at improving indoor air quality than other methods. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 for a filtration unit, which you’ll need to have installed. Obtaining quotes from multiple professionals can help you get an idea of what’s average for your area. Be sure to ask about filtration levels, as HEPA is preferable, and ask to see the company’s licensing documents, too.

Stopping Drafts (and Removing Lead) with New Windows

Homeowners looking to make their homes more energy efficient may already be contemplating window replacement. But older homes — such as those built before 1978 — are more likely to have lead, which is another reason to replace windows. Plus, removing the draftiness and condensation (which contributes to the potential for mold growth) from your home is one way to improve your overall health.

Replacement windows can cost anywhere from $800 to $8,000 to install. Finding a reliable and experienced professional to handle your window installation is essential. And if your home is older or was built in a specific style, you’ll need an expert hand to maintain its value and appearance. Ask about the installer’s range of experience, as well as how they handle removing windows containing asbestos paint.

Ensuring your family’s wellness can be a challenge. But by making improvements to your home, you may experience fewer allergies, less dust, and even a brighter outlook. And with the help of trustworthy professionals, you don’t have to stress about the process or the result.

 

Curtis Fisher | tradesbright.org

 

curtis@tradesbright.org

Photo via Rawpixel

 

Posted in Home Improvements
April 19, 2019

Top Landscaping Trends That Boost the Value of Your Property - By Peter Goldberg

 

Source

 

Real estate agents emphasize the importance of the three Ls. No, we're not talking about location, rather landscaping, landscaping, landscaping! Making sure your landscaping and exterior portions of your home are in top condition is the best way to get a better price of your Maryland home. There are plenty of ways to upgrade your yard, but some will go further than others when attracting that perfect buyer. Those homeowners who pay attention to current trends will show their home is updated and modern.

 

Multiuse Areas

Creating an outdoor space is an important landscaping trend this year. Potential buyers want to see the yard can accommodate a quick game of catch as well as enough space to barbecue and sit out and enjoy the sunshine. Hardscaped areas pull double duty as a place to chat with friends and neighbors as well as enjoy dinner underneath the stars. Landscaping that is both beautiful to look at from afar, as well as approachable with integrated pathways, is also essential. Making your outdoor areas multifunctioning is a huge bonus when it comes to getting the best price for your home.

 

Keep It Private

Source

 

While you don't need to shield your entire backyard from view, some portions should be more private than others. Consider planting quick-growing plants, such as American holly, that will create a natural boundary. Other options for privacy include building a pergola or installing a large sun shade that will keep homeowners cool as well as secluded.

 

Low Maintenance Technology

Homeowners want to spend more time outdoors, but they don't want to spend that time working outside. Installing smart technology items to keep the landscaping low-maintenance is an essential part of modernizing a home. Sprinkler systems, automatic timers, and drip irrigation can make a big statement during a home tour. Most A large majority of Maryland homeowners mow their lawns once every week or every other week, so that’s what you want if you want to keep up with how the Joneses are mowing.

 

Go Native

Another part of keeping your landscaping low-maintenance is to add more native plants. These plants thrive in Maryland's climate and help support the local environment. Area pollinators like honey bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are more apt to visit a garden full of native blooms. Plants such as cardinal flower and blue mist need less watering and attention than others and make the yard more attractive.

 

Light It Up

Source

 

Chances are prospective buyers will return to see your home in the evening. Outdoor lighting will give your house a sense of ambiance and safety. It expands your outside living space, serves as a deterrent to burglars and enables you to use the patio well into the evening. Consider LED lights, which are much more energy efficient.

 

Adding a fire feature is a top trend that continues to stay strong. Fire pits are warm and inviting and can boost the property value. If you don’t want to mess with wood and ashes, many DIY tabletop fire installations can help create a soft glow without the mess and smoke.

 

Creating an outdoor space that is both beautiful and welcoming is an essential part of making sure your home is ready to go on the market. Keeping up with current trends will help modernize your home and draw in serious home buyers. Consider these top landscaping trends that boost the value of your property when selling your home this year.

 

Peter Goldberg is a gardening and landscaping writer and outdoors aficionado. He likes to fire up the grill to cook for family and friends, as well as using his organically grown garden produce to create mouth-watering meals.

 

Oct. 8, 2018

Crofton Area High School Boundaries

Do you know where the new

Crofton High School Boundaries Are?

 

This is a question that is posed to me on a frequent basis.  The answer is that nobody knows yet because they have not been established.  However you can be part of the redistricting / feeder patterns for the process. 

The committee consists of two representatives each from every potentially impacted school: Arundel and South River high schools; Arundel and Crofton middle schools; and Crofton, Crofton Meadows, Crofton Woods, Nantucket, and Piney Orchard elementary schools.  The fact that a school is represented on the committee does not necessarily mean that the school’s attendance area or feeder pattern will change.

 

Make sure YOUR voice is heard - these meetings are open to the public

 

Information Regarding

the School Redistricting Process

 

Anne Arundel County

Public Schools Redistricting Timeline

 

 

Posted in Community News
Sept. 6, 2018

Why Has Piney Orchard Become a Prime Location for Residence?

Piney Orchard is beautiful. This is not just because it is the largest planned community in the whole of Maryland, but because it seems to have something good to offer everyone. Here you will not see much vacant land for sale because there are various available housing types for people to stay. This community is safe and comfortable and it is soon having some of the most attractive properties in the real estate market. Although houses are a little pricey, staying there would make you realise it is worth every single dollar. Are you also wondering why Piney Orchard is fast becoming a prime location for residence? Take a close look at the following reasons.

1.      - Real Estate

Piney Orchard is the largest planned community in Maryland, having over 3900 housing units, of numerous sizes and specifications. It records over 8000 residents and more seem to be coming by the day. The real estate industry is booming, with offers for rentals, selling and buying of apartments and homes on the rise. This is a planned community; having land for sale is highly controlled. The community has a variety of houses to suit the needs of people. Ranging from small room apartments to large luxurious homes, serving different kind of deals. It has something for you, whether you are looking to be a tenant or an agent.

2.     - Terrain

Constellation Real estate Group handled a restoration project in the 40s and 50s replacing the initial wetlands by building five large ponds. The restoration project included planting numerous trees, and shrubs that are native to the area. This took place until the 90s when the project was recorded successful and Piney Orchard Nature Preserve was officially opened. The fact that this location was planned makes it a beauty to behold. In 2018, the community blossoms with beautiful green spaces all year and clean fresh air with a clear sky. This location serves as a haven for residents providing walking and bike trails for those who wish to promote fitness.

3.     - Proximity and access to major cities

One of the major reasons this community thrives so well is because it offers an easy access to big cities such as Washington DC, Baltimore and N.S.A’s Forte Meade.  This enables residents to stay there and work in the nearby cities. Easy access is provided through MARC train that moves to Washington DC and Baltimore. Piney Orchard is also close to BWI airport and several other employment centres. This makes the community ideal for residents and easily accessible for visitors to want to live in.

4.     - Amenities

Planning is an integral part of humanity because it brings an order and meaning to so much. Piney Orchard is planned to be a beautiful residential community, this is evident by the presence of beautiful amenities required for a community to flourish. Some of these amenities include schools, public transport systems, recreational centres, orchard community centre, Parks, shopping centres, clubhouse and lots more. This community is perfect for residency, especially for families looking for a suitable neighbourhood to raise children. The community is designed to have something for everyone- a place to play for children, lots of fun for teenagers and a place to work for adults.

Conclusion

In 2005, Constellation handed over day-to-day supervision of Piney Orchard to the association of residents known as Piney Orchard Community Association (POCA). They have the sole responsibility of maintaining security the aesthetic quality of the community and have never failed to meet up to expectations. They organise community social events and encourage communal living. Where would you rather live?

 

Nov. 29, 2017

Maglev Meeting Summary from October 2017

As many in this area are aware, there is a study underway for the feasibility of a Maglev high speed train system between Baltimore and Washington DC with 1 proposed stop at BWI airport.  Personally, I do not see the need for this type of system in general.  I have been watching this as it could dramatically impact home property values in Odenton, Bowie, Crofton and Gambrills area.

However if this train is considered, it seems to me that a stop at Fort Meade / NSA would make logistical sense.  Otherwise, this train basically does very little to help ease the stress on the roads from commuters.  That being said, the more and more I have looked at it, the less and less likely I believe it will actually become a reality in my lifetime regardless.  Below is the published notes from the October 2017 meeting if you have some additional interest in the proposals which are currently being floated around.

Transcript for Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Environmental Study
Project Process & Information Video
October 2017

Slide 1
Welcome and thank you for your interest in the proposed Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Project.
Though we’re early in the process, the team encourages YOU to get involved with the environmental study. Your feedback has a REAL potential to make this project better.

Slide 2
The project team has heard your expressed concerns loud and clear, and we are listening to you. Our staff is available to discuss the project and study process with you. There will be multiple opportunities to communicate with the Project Team, whether it’s through public meetings, submitting comment cards, speaking over the phone, emailing, or posting comments to the website. We encourage you to provide your comments, speak with our staff, and visit the project website to view updated project information and responses to frequently asked questions.

Slide 3
Right now, the federal project is a grant studying the feasibility of a superconducting magnetic levitation (or ESSEE maglev) train. Engineers and planners are currently finalizing technical specifications and weighing the benefits and impacts of a proposed high-speed train service between Baltimore and Washington, DC. S-CMAGLEV trains are now the fastest in the world, with cruising speeds more than 300 miles an hour.

Slide 4
Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail (or BWRR) is a private company that is proposing to construct the SCMAGLEV system between Baltimore and Washington DC. Their proposal would provide an approximate 15-minute service between the new Baltimore and Washington stations, and would run on a new, dedicated guideway – partially through tunnel and partially elevated – with no surface-level intersections with existing roadways or other railroads.

Slide 5
Congress authorized funding to *study* magnetic levitation projects in 2005’s ‘Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act’. The Federal Railroad Administration (or FRA) awarded $27.8 Million to the Maryland Department of Transportation (or MDOT) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (or EIS) for BWRR’s proposal.
Please note, though, that no one has yet set aside money for construction.

Slide 6
At this stage, it is too early to determine if or how the project will affect any landowners because a final alignment has not been determined.
A goal of the proposed project is to maximize the use of existing rights-of-way intended for transportation uses and to minimize impacts to local communities and environmental resources. FRA and MDOT will have additional details on these factors as the project progresses and with completion of the alternatives analysis. Some alternative alignments will be eliminated from further study, and those alignments that are retained are likely to continue to evolve to minimize impacts on communities and environmental resources. Property owners can get a better idea of potential right-of-way impacts by examining maps of the alternative alignments posted on the project website (www.bwmaglev.info) and at public meetings. It is important to note, however, that FRA will likely adjust and refine alignments based on public and stakeholder input during the study process.

Slide 7
Safety is of paramount importance. The safety and security for areas adjacent to the train facilities, as well as
on-board trains and at train facilities, will be evaluated as part of preliminary design and documented in the
EIS through coordination with relevant agencies, stakeholders, and technical experts. The Project Team will
research and document safety issues and best practices related to personal safety and security for passengers,
as well as address the safety and security of operating superconducting magnetic levitation trains under
various conditions and environmental factors, such as snow events and during times of poor conductor
visibility. The Project Team will also research and plan for potential threats such as terrorist attacks, fires,
explosions, and severe weather events.

Slide 8
The project includes three proposed stations: in Washington, DC, at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and in
Baltimore City. The system would require one maintenance facility, support facilities such as ventilation shafts
along the route, and new electric substations.

Slide 9
The project team is led by FRA. Working for FRA at the state level is MDOT. MDOT serves as the grantee and
oversees the work being performed by the Maryland Economic Development Corporation or MEDCO, and the
Maryland Transit Administration or MTA, a transportation business unit of MDOT.
MEDCO is coordinating the engineering and design efforts being developed by the Private Project Sponsor
BWRR. MDOT-MTA is overseeing the NEPA compliance and EIS process, which is being conducted by the
Environmental Consultant AECOM.

Slide 10
The Alternatives Report will be published in the winter/spring of 2018, followed by the Draft EIS and
corresponding public hearing in fall of 2018. Once comments on the Draft EIS have been addressed, the Final
EIS and Record of Decision will be published in the Winter of 2019. Comments from the public and agencies
are welcomed and encouraged throughout the process.

Slide 11
The study area for the evaluation of potential environmental effects extends 40 miles from downtown
Washington, DC, north to downtown Baltimore, and from the I-95 corridor east to central Anne Arundel and
Prince George’s Counties, a distance of about 10 miles. The Study Area was developed by the Study Team to
define the area where SCMAGLEV could be implemented and the surrounding areas that could be affected by
the construction and operation of the proposed system.

Slide 12
In addition to neighborhoods and communities, the study area contains a number of important natural and
cultural resources. Most of the land in the study area is privately owned, but large federal, state and
institutional properties are located throughout the corridor.

Slide 13
There are many Parks located throughout the study area, some are large Federal and State lands, while others
are smaller community parks. The study team recognizes the importance and sensitivity of these parks and will
work to avoid, minimize and mitigate potential impacts as part of the study process.

Slide 14
Many key environmental considerations will be studied as part of this project such as environmental justice,
noise and vibration effects, electromagnetic fields, safety, and construction.

Slide 15
FRA and MDOT are coordinating with more than two dozen resource agencies to evaluate potential impacts to
natural resources and ensure ecosystems within the study area continue to thrive.
For each alternative alignment retained for detailed study, the team identifies these resources and evaluates
the nature and extent of the potential impacts.
Where possible, alignments are shifted to avoid or minimize impacts.

Slide 16
The proposed project is being studied with federal funds. Therefore, its potential environmental effects must
be evaluated and compared to a No-Build option, and comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (or
NEPA) review process.

Slide 17
On large projects like SCMAGLEV, NEPA studies are a multi-year process involving many steps, many agencies
at all levels of government, and many opportunities for public input. The goal of NEPA is to identify the
potential negative effects of the project, study alternatives that do the least possible harm, consider a ‘nobuild’
option when the adverse impacts could possibly outweigh project benefits, and throughout the process,
provide the public with the opportunity to provide input.
The results of this NEPA study will be published in an Environmental Impact Statement (or EIS) and available
for public review and comment. Federal, state, and local regulatory agencies will review the EIS and associated
public comments as part of the decision-making process.
Correspondence and feedback from citizens, residents, and other project stakeholders is encouraged
throughout the NEPA process and can be done a variety of ways. Perhaps the simplest way is through our
project website and email address. Please visit www.BWMaglev.info or email us at info@BWMaglev.info.

Slide 18
NEPA is also an umbrella law that encourages integrated compliance with other environmental laws. Because
this project is funded by the Federal Government, it must comply with the NEPA process and all corresponding
environmental laws and approvals.

Slide 19
The NEPA process consists of five steps, requiring significant coordination between the project team, public
stakeholders, elected officials, and governmental regulatory agencies.

Slide 20
Step 1 consists of initiating the NEPA process by publishing a Notice of Intent, submitting a draft Purpose and
Need, holding agency and public scoping meetings, developing initial preliminary project alternatives, and
accepting comments from the public during a 30-day comment period. For this project, the Notice of Intent
was published on November 25, 2016.

Slide 21
Step 2 consists of collecting data on existing conditions and screening potential alternatives. The alternatives
that do not meet the project purpose, sufficiently address needs, or contain fatal flaws or disproportionately
high impacts or costs are screened out and dropped.

Slide 22
In Step 3, the project team analyzes the remaining alternatives, and publishes an Alternatives Report.

Slide 23
In Step 4, the team determines a preliminary preferred alternative based on the analysis, publishes a Draft EIS,
holds public hearings, and accepts comments from the public for 45 days.

Slide 24
In Step 5, the team publishes the Final EIS, accepts comments from the public for 30 days, reviews the
comments, and publishes a Record of Decision.
The project team welcomes and encourages public and regulatory input throughout the entire NEPA process
and will review all comments received from citizens, residents, and other project stakeholders, and incorporate
the suggestions that will contribute to a successful outcome.

Slide 25
Thank you for participating in the SC Maglev project. For the most up to date information or to provide
comments and questions, please visit our website at www.bwmaglev.info. You can also email the project team
at info@bwmaglev.info.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nov. 25, 2017

Don't Wait, Buying Will Cost More in Just One Year......

Are you on the fence about owning a home? It may be better to buy now than wait.

The nation’s median home value is expected to grow by $6,275 to $208,975 just one year from today, according to Zillow, adding on to the already considerable funds homebuyers need now to own a home. The average homebuyer, in fact, has to add $105 more each month to their down payment savings (assuming a 20 percent down payment on a median-priced home) over the next year, or $1,260 total, to keep up with the rise in values.

In other words: It costs more to hold off.  “Sky-high rents and rising home prices are putting first-time buyers in a bit of a catch-22,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Buying now with a low down payment can be riskier, and the offer may not be considered as competitive by the seller; however, a renter who saves for another year to reach a larger down payment may find that the home they love today is outside their budget a year from now.

For those considering buying in the next year, getting into the market today may make more financial sense than they think.”
Homebuyers in hotter markets have to contribute even more to their savings if they wait.

In San Jose, Calif., the average homebuyer has to add $599 more each month to their savings to purchase a median-priced home ($1,088,434) with 20 percent down ($1,088,434); in Seattle, Wash., the average homebuyer has to add $394 more each month to their savings to purchase a median-priced home ($479,451) with 20 percent down.

In other markets:

San Diego, Calif.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $267
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $569,906

Riverside, Calif.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $266
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $348,949

Sacramento, Calif.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $246
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $388,336

Las Vegas, Nev.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $229
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $247,331

Portland, Ore.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $227
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $383,348

Boston, Mass.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $206
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $443,047

San Francisco, Calif.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $192
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $876,938

Denver, Colo.
Additional Down Payment Savings Per Month: $181
Expected Median Home Value (Sept. 2018): $383,667

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nov. 2, 2017

5 Fall Chores: Do It Yourself vs Professional

Photo by Pixabay

When yellow leaves start to fall and nights grow longer—not to mention chiller—it’s time to pull out your autumn home maintenance checklist. While some projects are quick and easy, others require a little more time and skill. Some homeowners feel a sense of accomplishment tackling these tasks on their own, while others would rather leave it to the professionals. Ultimately, whether you choose the DIY (do-it-yourself) route or hiring help depends on your priorities—cost, quality, time and skill.

Some homeowners choose to keep up with this maintenance to preserve the quality of their house— one of the most common, and most lucrative, long-term investments. Not only will regular seasonal upkeep protect your home, but it will also ensure its curb appeal is pleasing to you, your neighbors and potential home buyers.

Fall Chore #1: Power Washing

Power washing—one of the easiest ways to clean siding, brick, wood, concrete and other materials of the dirt and grime from summer. It’s fairly easy to rent a power washer from your local hardware store, much more cost effective than bringing in a professional. However, the effort it takes to power wash the exterior of your house—especially if it’s two story—and can take several days. Hiring a professional can cost around $250, but save countless hours of your own time.

Fall Chore #2: Exterior Painting

Every once in awhile the exterior of your home could benefit considerably from a fresh coat of paint. It’s astounding what an updated color palette can do for curb appeal. Painting the exterior of your home, including doors and trim, can be a daunting chore depending on the size, shape and design of your house. The average national cost to paint the exterior of a house is roughly $2,581. Your skill level and knowledge can help you decide to do-it-yourself or bring in a pro. Do you know how to prep a house to be painted? Do you have the time, either by yourself or with a friend, to make sure your paint job is of the highest quality with attention to detail? If you answer no to any of these questions, a painting professional might be the best choice.

Fall Chore #3: Gutter Cleaning

Cleaning gutters and downspouts is one of the most important autumn tasks a homeowner can take on. Even if you only clean your gutters once a year, fall is the most important time to tackle the task. While some people don’t mind spending a day up on a ladder clearing the drainage areas from leaves and debris, others see the value in hiring a professional to get the job done right. The average cost of having a professional clean your gutters and downspouts runs between $105 and $177, and takes about five hours.

Fall Chore #4: Sealing Windows

Walking the perimeter of your house, examining windows for holes, leaks and gaps may or may not reveal the information you need. Occasionally these issues can be spotted quickly, but often professionals can examine windows more closely, discovering more subtle repairs that need to occur to make sure your home stays warm and your heat bills stay low during the winter. Most window repairs cost between about $150 and $500, though in some situations homeowners can pay more than $1000.

Preventive maintenance is critical to your home’s value. Making sure you’re in good shape for every season can save you substantial costs in the long run. While some tasks are easier to take on yourself, others are better left to the professionals. Give your fall curb appeal a boost by tackling these essential fall chores.

Thanks to Eugene Williams at DIYDad.info for this article.

Posted in Uncategorized
Oct. 31, 2017

A Cooldown in Housing? Not This Season

Autumn began in September, but activity in the housing market remained at summer-like levels through October, according to realtor.com®’s latest data preview. Prices in October were 10 percent higher than those one year ago, with the national median at $275,000 and the national median age of inventory at 73 days.

“This month we aren’t just experiencing still-summery weather—we’re also seeing a sizzlingly competitive housing market at a time when things are usually cooling off for the fall,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com. “With not enough homes on the market to meet the high demand, homes are selling 8 percent more quickly than a year ago even though prices are as high as they’ve ever been.

“For potential buyers who waited until fall hoping to score a bargain, the pickings are disappointingly slim,” Hale says, “but one potential bright spot for market-fatigued buyers is that new listings are up slightly from one year ago. While new listings declined in the first four months of the year, they have increased on a year-over-year basis in five of the last six months.”

The housing markets ranking in realtor.com’s Hotness Index for October:

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 30 days

Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 38 days

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 30 days

San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 40 days

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.
Median Age of Inventory: 46 days

Stockton-Lodi, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 41 days

Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 44 days

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.
Median Age of Inventory: 47 days

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.
Median Age of Inventory: 41 days

Modesto, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 43 days

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.
For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

Posted in Uncategorized
May 24, 2017

Rents Appreciating Faster in Suburbs as Demand Intensifies

Renters up against ballooning costs in sought-after cities have steadily spread outward for rent relief—but now, costs are climbing in areas outside of cities, too.

In fact, according to a recently released report by Zillow, rent appreciation is accelerating faster in suburban areas than urban ones, with the median rental cost in suburban areas up 2.5 percent year-over-year, while the median rental cost in urban areas is up 2.3 percent.

“Because walkable urban centers close to amenities are typically a big draw for renters, you’d expect rents to rise faster in the city than in the suburbs—which is exactly what we’ve been seeing until very recently,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, “but a handful of factors are helping turn the tables and beginning to push suburban rents up at a higher clip. These include deteriorating rental affordability in expensive urban cores; new apartments, albeit high-end ones, opening downtown compared to relatively few in outlying areas; and preferences among some renters toward the space offered by single-family homes in the suburbs.”

The difference represents a shift from one year ago, when urban rental costs were up 5 percent year-over-year and suburban rental costs were up 3 percent. There are starker disparities in appreciation in in-demand urban areas and their suburban counterparts, including in Nashville, Tenn., and San Francisco, Calif.

“Rents themselves are still lower in the suburbs, but if demand keeps growing for suburban rentals and supply continues to lag, that will also start to change,” Gudell says. “As more formerly urban renters move to the suburbs in coming years, we’ll likely start seeing more apartment buildings and walkable amenities popping up in those communities.”

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