Tag Archives: Home Ownership

Prepping Your Pet for Your Big Move

Your moving day is set and it’s time to start preparing. As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to factor in your 4 legged family members.

Moving can be stressful for all of us, but pets often experience stress that they can’t communicate leading up to a big move. Our pets are perceptive, and they notice when big changes are happening, but they don’t understand why we’re packing up. Then, once you’ve arrived at your new home, they have to get comfortable with new sights, sounds, and smells before they can settle in. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help get your family pet get ready for a big move and reduce their stress.

Here are some tips for making sure the process goes smoothly.

Medical records. When moving to a different city or state, one of the main things you need to take into consideration is finding a new veterinarian that is the right fit for you and your pet. If you have family or friends in the area, ask for recommendations or do your own research by reading reviews and news articles. Once you find one, contact your current vet to initiate a transfer of medical records. Then schedule a “get to know you” appointment shortly after your move.

Have Collars and Paperwork Handy. While you’re preparing, it’s also a good idea to have all paperwork and contact information handy. Make sure cats and dogs are wearing a collar with your phone number on it, as well as their rabies tags and any other relevant information. If there is a mishap during your move and one of your pets escapes through an open door, you want to be able to find them. If they aren’t already microchipped, now is a good time to have this simple procedure done.

Don’t Overfeed. Some animals have a tendency to overeat when they are stressed, especially if they believe you are going to be leaving them alone for a while. Make sure to watch your animals in the days leading up to the move and avoid overfeeding them. Cats especially are likely to get sick from stress and anxiety if they have overeaten and then gone for a car ride. Dogs are somewhat less likely to react negatively in the car, but each pet has its own limits.

Transportation. Whether it’s a short drive or a long plane ride, the safest way to relocate a nervous pet is with a crate.  However, if you’re in a hurry on moving day and you shove your pet into a crate and slam the door, you’re only going to make matters worse. Instead, you need to bring the crate inside your home several weeks in advance so they can smell it and explore it in a low-stress environment.  For most pets, this is a foreign concept, and they require time to get comfortable with it. Start acclimating your pet as early as possible and use comfort items like treats and favorite toys and blankets to make the experience is a positive one for your pet.

Prepare a Place for them. Pad your moving schedule with ample time to get your dog or cat acclimated to their new home. Cats and dogs react to new spaces differently, but when it comes to moving day, you’ll probably want them out of the way while you finish unloading the furniture and heavy boxes. The easiest way to manage this is to have food, water, and their favorite toys already set up in a spare bedroom or bathroom so you can open their crate and let them explore in a quiet corner of the house. Once all your other furniture is moved in, you can open the bedroom door and let them see more, but the first few hours should be quiet and calm. Once all the moving of furniture and boxes is done, make sure to clear anything that could be dangerous and block off areas as necessary then let them free to get a lay of the land on their own.

Walk Through the new House with Your Pet on a Leash. Your pet picks up on many sounds and smells that you can’t. As a result, they may react to certain scents left behind by the previous owner, or new sounds from the HVAC unit or neighborhood traffic. The best way to handle this introduction is with a leash so your pet can explore without getting beyond your reach. Help them explore inside the house, room by room, and set clear boundaries if they are not allowed in certain spaces. Likewise, walk the front and backyard slowly with a leash attached so you can inspect the fence and handle any interactions with wayward animals or children.

All of these tips will help your pet handle move-in day as peacefully as possible. Just remember, your pet will likely need a few days to adjust to the new space, and having plenty of familiar items and toys around can help them make that adjustment.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

June is National Home Ownership Month

Owning your own home brings lots of savings to the pocketbook, but with home ownership some of the other costs can add up. So it never hurts to take measures to help you reduce your monthly utility bills. Below are a few ways to do just that!

Electricity Bill

Saving money on your electricity bill can be done in multiple ways. Some easy changes include running appliances, like the stove, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, at night, opting to air dry clothes, or cooking meals in a crockpot, toaster oven, and in the summer months – on the grill outside. Set aside time throughout the year to inspect the areas around doors and windows and seal any cracks with caulk or weather stripping. Additionally, make sure to unplug electronics when not in use or use a power strip to turn them all off at once.

Water Bill

Your monthly water bill can sneak up on you, but small changes can be made to cut costs. Install WaterSense-certified faucets and showerheads and convert toilets to low flow to reduce the amount of water used. Make sure to regularly check toilets and sinks for leaks and repair them. Opt for using your dishwasher instead of hand washing and ensure it’s a full load each time. Also, don’t forget to turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving.

Gas Bill

Investing in some changes upfront can make a difference on your natural gas bill long term. Add insulation in your attic and around your water heater and pipes. Make sure to repair any leaks in your ducts, inspect your furnace regularly, and check your home for any blocked vents that could cause your gas heating system to work overtime. You can also reduce the temperature of your water heater.

Here are some other tips to help lower your utility costs:

  • Give your thermostat a nudge: Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat does the work for you.
  • Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature: Set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. This will keep your food fresh, but your fridge and freezer won’t need to work as hard to maintain the temperature.
  • Take shorter showers: Trimming two minutes off your shower time can cut your water usage by five gallons.
  • Don’t wash clothes in hot water: Stick to warm or cold water when you do laundry and cut your per-load energy usage by at least half.  And wash full loads.
  • Fix leaky faucets: That drip, drip, drip isn’t just annoying, it wastes gallons of water.
  • Adjust the temperature on your water heater: The default temperature setting on water heaters is typically 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees can reduce your water heating costs by up to 10%. Leaving town for a few days? Turn your water heater to the lowest setting to conserve energy usage.
  • Purchase energy-efficient appliances: If you’re in the market for a new washer, dishwasher or water heater, buy an energy-efficient model to yield long-term savings. A dishwasher with the Energy Star label is required to use 3.5 gallons of water or less per cycle, compared with the more than 10 gallons used by some older models. Prioritize appliances that run most often, like the fridge, HVAC system, water heater, dehumidifier, TV, washer and dryer.
  • Ask about discounted rates: Some utility providers offer cheaper rates during certain times of the day, making laundry and other energy-intensive chores 5% to 25% less expensive during off-peak times. And some utilities offer senior discounts.
  • Swap out your lightbulbs: Save $75 per year by swapping out the bulbs in your five most-used light fixtures with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label.
  • Install dimmer switches: Dimmers let you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity.

Hope you found these tips helpful.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

Fees to be Aware of When Purchasing a Home

Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don’t forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase than the price of the home. This is valuable information, especially for first-time homebuyers. These are all good reasons to hire an experienced Real Estate Agent to help navigate you through the process, plus the fact of multiple offers and homes now selling above listing price.

Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.

  1. Home inspection. This is a crucial step in the home buying process. The findings that come from the inspection can help you negotiate price and repairs. Generally, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 depending on the home and the location.
  2. Title services. Title services encompass the transfer of the title from the seller and a thorough search of the property’s records to ensure to no one will pop up with a claim to the property. Additionally, you may need to buy title insurance which will protect the lender or your investment in the home.
  3. Appraisal fee. Before getting a loan, you will likely be required to get an appraisal of the home to determine its estimated value. This will be conducted by a third-party company and the cost can land anywhere between $300 and $1,000, depending on the size of the home.
  4. HOA fees. Many communities have a homeowners’ association that enforces monthly fees. This money is used for general maintenance and updates to areas like pools, parks, and more. Typical HOA fees are around $200 per month.
  5. Taxes. The taxes each buyer pays at the closing table differ, but it is not uncommon for it to be up to two months’ worth of county and city property taxes. Additionally, there may be taxes for the transfer of the home title.

I would be happy to talk with you as you prepare to buy or sell and devise a plan to help you transition as smoothly as possible.

Sincerely,

Marie Dinsmore

The Dinsmore Team

Experience, Passion, and Commitment to Excellence

5 Important Considerations for First-Time Home Buyers

ffdaWhen it comes to finding the perfect home to rent, your job is much easier because the goal is to find a home that “meets my needs right now” instead of “meets my needs for the next 20 years.”  Plain and simple, making the decision to purchase a property is a much bigger commitment than renting, both in terms of finances and length of time that you’ll wind up staying in one place.

With that being said, due to the amount you’ll have to invest in your final decision, it’s important to do a bit of upfront homework so you don’t wind up in a bind down the road.

Therefore, if you’re getting ready to buy your first place, there are five things that should be considered in advance.

1.) ADDITIONS TO YOUR LIFE – While it’s important to shop for a space that meets your current space needs, it’s always wise to assume that you might need to make adjustments at a later date should your family expand.  Even if kids aren’t in the picture, you never know what other types of changes life may throw at you—such as having a parent move in—so it’s wise to think about your need for extra bedrooms, bathrooms, and overall square footage.

2.) KNOW THE HOME’S CONDITION – Sure, you may not be able to afford a lot of upgrades at first; however, the basics should still be in working order.  Before making the final decision to purchase, you’ll want to have the property thoroughly inspected so you don’t find yourself stuck with a complete money pit.  Speak with your real estate agent about this process and feel free to ask for the names of reputable inspectors.

3.) BE CAREFUL OF EXPECTING PERFECTION – Much like a first job, first homes tend to represent a stepping stone to something better, so finding the right place is often a matter of balancing your wants and needs with what you can reasonably afford.  Make a list of “must-haves,” “nice-haves,” and “not necessary to-haves,” and focus on the areas where you don’t mind compromising.  Are you willing to sacrifice a three-car garage for a larger kitchen?  Is the larger home worth it if it’s in a less desirable neighborhood?  Only you can measure the importance of the amenities you’re looking for.

4.) REMEMBER TO ACCOUNT FOR ALL OF THE COSTS OF OWNERSHIP – When you’re renting, things like regular maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of your landlord; however, one of the key aspects of homeownership is that the property becomes yours and yours alone.  Therefore, don’t forget to account for the fact that your budget will need to include those extra living costs such as utilities, trash pick-up, sewage fees, HOA dues, and other routine maintenance costs.  When approving your home loan, your lending will not factor in these extra costs, so it’s important to calculate them in advance.  If you’re unsure of how to do this, speak with your real estate agent to determine the appropriate price range for you.

5.) ALL THINGS HAVE A LIFESPAN – Manmade things break and deteriorate, so it’s important to not only identify a potential home’s flaws before you buy, but to have an understanding of its components.  When will the roof need to be replaced?  How old is the furnace?  What kind of shape are the appliances and carpet in?  Sure, everything may be in working order now, but all homes will need these types of repairs or replacements eventually, so it’s wise to research the expected lifespan of the larger-ticket items in your potential home.

When you’re ready to get the process started, please contact me.  I’d love to help you along the way.

Marie Dinsmore | The Dinsmore Team | www.DinsmoreTeam.com | 770-712-7789

2014 RE/MAX All Properties Top Sales Associate of the Year

10 Tips for a Home That’s Safe and Sound

burglar4There is little that is more important than feeling secure in your own home. While we can only control a small bit of the world around us, here’s some basic information to keep a home safe.

The goal of securing your home is two-fold: protecting your possessions, but also protecting the people who live there. Security professionals advise “deter, detect and delay” tactics. These 10 tips cover a lot of ground, so keep them in mind and you will be well on the road to greater peace of mind.

1. Check your doors, windows and all locks: Deadbolts and secure, steel outer doors are important, as are secure windows that lock. A huge majority of burglaries are no-force entries, where culprits gain access to your home through an unlocked window or door, so check them frequently. Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed to prevent access to windows and decks on upper floors. If a door or window is in an out-of-the-way place that is easily accessible, consider securing it with bars or an outer security door. Simply placing a piece of wood in sliding glass doors or windows can prevent entry. Automatic garage door openers ensure that access to your garage is controlled. Studies show that the more difficult it is to enter the home, the greater the chances are that the burglar will move on.

2. Have adequate lighting: On the outside of your home, lighted entryways and flood lights with motion sensors ensure that everyone, including you and your neighbors can see who is entering your abode. However, care must be taken to replace burned out or disabled bulbs, and to place such that there is minimal annoyance to neighbors. Inside your home, ensure that there is adequate lighting so intruders are easily visible.

3. Create limited entries with a perimeter and gate: Gates and fences can provide a feeling of stable security or of paranoia, depending on how they are used. Tasteful fencing can create a feeling of “place” that provides a positive look and feel to your home, while also adding a deterrent and a delay to criminals. Limiting vehicular traffic to your property and creating barriers to individual entry make your valuables more difficult to remove, and cameras at these points of entry can more effectively capture any activity.

4. Be a friendly and observant neighbor: Neighborhoods with a “community watch” where each person is looking out for the next provide a sense of security. Generally people know each other and who lives where. This activity makes it easier to talk about crime and helps homeowners to solve problems. Let neighbors know that you are crime conscious, and encourage them to be so, too. Provide your neighbor with contact information if you are leaving on vacation so that they can be in touch should there be unusual or unexpected activity around your home.

5. Be discreet: While you do want neighbors to be informed to some degree, advertising more widely that you will be away from your home is less desirable. When seeking to find a house sitter or pet sitter, avoid advertising the dates of your travel. With an increase in social media and local email lists, people who are outside of your immediate circles could gain access to your plans and make use of that information.

6. Put on a good show: When you are going to be away from home for any period of time, one deterrent might be to make it look like someone is home. Often people who break in are simply looking to steal valuable items and prefer not to encounter people at all. Keep shades as they would normally be open or closed, and use timers to control lights and even music. Increasingly, “smart home” technology can enable homeowners to control the environment from a distance. Consider stopping deliveries or better yet, have someone stop by daily or stay in the home to pick up mail and newspapers, and to check on the house while you are gone.

7. Get a dog: In addition to companionship, a dog could be an excellent deterrent to a burglar. Barking serves as an alarm, helping to detect an intruder as well, but often seasoned criminals know how to deal with dogs by feeding them treats (sometimes laced with poison) or locking them in a room. Still, this added unknown might keep a less determined stranger away.

8. Get a security system: There are many types of systems with and without monitoring available. Some produce loud alarms that are designed to alert neighbors, others are silent and contact police. With the advent of inexpensive cameras, homeowners can set up video surveillance as well. While it is good to have a system in place and to post that a system is in use, beware of giving away too much information so that criminals don’t know which system they are dealing with. Typically these systems monitor entries, but many also include motion sensors. Using these systems requires some understanding on the part of the homeowners so that false alarms are not triggered. Also note, these systems require power to run, so during power outages unless there is a backup power source they will not be functional and other preventative steps will be required.

9. Get a safe: Using a home safe to secure valuables, guns and ammunition is an excellent idea. Consider using it to store important paperwork, like deeds, wills, other legal documents, social security cards, passports, as well as computer backups and photos. While safes are often quite heavy, ensure that they are bolted down so they might not be easily stolen in their entirety. Safes can also provide critical “delay time” – enabling police to arrive before the contents are looted.

10. Don’t leave your keys around: If a burglar sees a car in a garage or driveway and the keys are present, the temptation might be too much. In fact, you might be providing a vehicle to take more items than the burglar was intending to originally take! Keys to additional homes or properties are invitations, as well. Have a place for keys that is not well known or easily seen.

Having an eye for security can be like a game. The winning move is to create a home that provides you with a real feeling of security because you have addressed the issues. It isn’t paranoid to “think like a criminal” and imagine that your home is full of valuables. Take the time to follow these tips, and you can deter, detect, and delay crime in your home.

Marie Dinsmore, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist

The Dinsmore Real Estate Team  |  www.dinsmoreteam.com

Marie@DinsmoreTeam.com | 770-712-7789