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Home Safe Home

by The Mike Parker Team

Home is a place you should feel safe and secure. Sometimes, we take it for granted and unfortunately, we do need to remain vigilant about things we do that could compromise our safety. Here are a few tips to consider:Home Safe Home.png

  • Everyone loves an inviting home including burglars. Make sure it looks occupied and is difficult to break in.
    • Always lock outside doors and windows even if you’re only gone for a brief time.
    • Lock gates and fences.
    • Leave lights on when you leave; consider timers to automatically control the lights.
    • Keep your garage door closed even when you’re home; don’t tempt thieves with what you have in your garage.
    • Suspend your mail and newspaper delivery when you’re out of town or get a neighbor to pick it up for you.
  • Posting that you’re out of town or away from home on social networks is like advertising your home is unprotected.
  • Equally dangerous could be allowing certain social network sites to track your location.
  • Don’t leave keys under doormats, in flowerpots or the plastic rocks; thieves know about those hiding places and even more than you can think.
  • Trim the shrubs from around your home; don’t give criminals a place to hide.
  • Use exterior motion detectors and yard lighting.
  • Have an alarm system and use it when you leave home and go to bed.
  • Put 3 ½” deck screws in door plates and door hinges.
  • Have good deadbolts on all exterior doors.
  • Exterior doors should be solid core.

Friday HOME MATTERS

by The Mike Parker Team

Our weekly round-up of real estate-related tips and advice from around the web- enjoy! 


My 3-year-old is beaming as he hands me a scribbled-on piece of paper with stickers of his favorite cheeky train engine embellishing it. Clearly these illustrations represent the creative genius that is our little guy, but so did the five other art pieces that came before it today. We’re running out of fridge space with this constant flow of artistic works, so we’ve got to be picky about which masterpieces we feature and where we put them. Sorry, trains in a cloud of crayon, but you aren’t making the cut today.  
 
To reduce the precious-artwork clutter, here are a few thoughtful ways to present the favorites and feel no shame when you toss the rest. 

  

Want your place to look like those home design website images you drool over? Of course you do! Problem is, your budget may not match your design aspirations. Fear not! Making your home look high-end isn’t always about spending tons of cash. 

 

When it’s time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners at the ready — baking soda, vinegar — plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can’t beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck or so. 

 

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s advantage… 

 

Buying a home is the largest purchase many consumers will ever make, and many will turn to a lender for financing. But finding a lender you click with can be a challenge, especially if you wait until the last minute. 

 

Li-Ning Huang, a research manager on Fannie Mae’s economic and strategic research team, says buyers should start talking to lenders early in the process — before you fall in love with a home — and compare several quotes. 

 

These once-stylish decor themes are oh-so-outdated. 

Friday HOME MATTERS

by The Mike Parker Team

Our weekly round-up of real estate-related tips and advice from around the web- Enjoy! 

 

Having pet odors inside your home can turn off potential homebuyers and keep your home from selling. Ask your real estate agent for an honest opinion about whether your home has a pet smell. 


If your agent holds her nose, here’s how to get rid of the smell... 


Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Fix Up Your Home Like a Flipper – Christina El Moussa 

If you’re anything like me, you may find that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of flipping houses. I’ll admit — buying an old house, fixing it up, and flipping it for a profit is pretty exciting. But if you get too distracted by flipping houses, it’s easy to let your own home fall by the wayside. 

 

While profitable remodeling projects can be more tempting to work on, you can still benefit from tackling projects in your own home. Remodeling your home will not only up its value, but also improve the way you feel about it. After all, who wouldn’t love to cook in a newly remodeled kitchen? 

 

Here are five easy, inexpensive projects that will really make a difference in how you feel about your home. 

 

Enjoy beautiful, healthy roses with these easy tips. 

 

When you’re selling your home, you must be ready for people to pop in at a moment’s notice. And no, it’s not like when your neighbor drops by to ask you to water her plants while she’s on vacation, and leaves in five minutes without noticing how many dishes are stacked in your sink or the layer of dust on your coffee table. 

 

Nope, these people will scrutinize. And they will judge. But you’re still living in your home—how do you keep it clean enough to make a good impression, no matter the time or day? 


Some of us are just born creators. The thought of sitting still and binging a Netflix show, while nice in theory, isn't possible in reality. We'd be bored. We'd rather be out and about exploring.  

 

If this description fits your personality, then you'll feel like you already know Austin Cameron. He's a 27-year-old software developer based out of Louisville. When he's not working, electric skateboarding (huh?), and working on his next startup, he's practicing photography. And that's why we reached out to Austin. He is this month's featured Photographer Spotlight. 

How's Your Memory?

by The Mike Parker Team

How's Your Memory?

 

How old is your bedroom furniture and what did you pay for it?  Don’t know?  That’s okay, let’s try an easier question.  When did you buy the TV in your family room and is it a plasma, LCD or a LED?

Whether you are the victim of a burglary, a fire or a tornado, most people are comforted they have insurance to cover the losses.  However, unless you’ve filed a claim, you may not be familiar with the procedures.

The adjuster will want to know the date and how the loss occurred.  Assuming you have contents coverage, the claim for personal belongings is separate from damage to the home.

You’ll be asked to provide proof of purchase, like receipts or cancelled checks, or a current inventory.  If they’re not available, you can reconstruct an inventory from memory.  The challenge is trying to remember things you may not have used for years and may not miss for years more.

Relying on memory can be a very expensive alternative.  A prudent homeowner will create a home inventory with pictures or videos while all of their belongings are in the home and they can see them.

Download a home inventory to make your project a little easier. 

Before You Call the Repairman...

by The Mike Parker Team

Before You Call the Repairman

Have you ever had a service company to your home to repair something and find out that it really wasn't "broken"? It probably conjured up ambivalent feelings of joy that it wasn't something serious and frustration that you had to pay a service call for something so simple.

Before you call the repairman next time, keep these things in mind to see if it is something simple:

 

  • Disposer not working - check to see if the reset button has been thrown. It is usually on the bottom of the disposer. If the disposer is making a humming sound, the blades may be stuck. While the disposer is turned off, use a wooden broom handle as a lever to gently rotate the blades. Remove the broom handle and turn on the disposer to see if it works properly.
  • Air conditioner not working - check to see if a breaker has thrown on your electric panel. You might need to flip the breaker completely off and flip it back on.
  • Electrical outlets not working - Electrical plugs in bathrooms or outside, especially on a porch or patio, are many times connected to a ground fault interrupter. The GFI will be a wall outlet and it may be located in the garage. Locate the outlet and reset the button that may have tripped.
  • Clogged drain - a simple way to correct a slow or clogged drain is to use the water pressure from a garden hose. You'll need a helper to turn on the water full-blast once you have safely placed the hose in the drain and are holding a hand-towel around the hose to direct the water to the drain. Be prepared to tell your helper to turn off the water when needed.

Whether it's preparing a home to market or arranging repairs required by the sale, REALTORS® know reputable, reasonable and reliable service contractors. We're here to share our contacts with you to help make home ownership better.

Top 5 Tips for Tackling Home Improvement Projects

by The Mike Parker Team

In the do-it-yourself age we live in, many homeowners are ready and willing to take on home-improvement projects themselves. But while you may be ready and willing, the real question is, are you really "able?"

I have access to many great home-improvement resources thanks to being part of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®. The following advice comes from HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse. Heed these suggestions before you embark on your next project:

  1. Focus on projects that will pay you back. For example, if you're dealing with hot or cold weather, try to lower heating and cooling bills by properly sealing your home. Look for drafts around windows, doors, and vents,and then use caulk or weather stripping to seal them. It may not be glamorous, but it will pay you back down the road.
  2. Know where to start. If you have never taken on a major project, start with spaces such as the living room, spare bedroom, or the garage -- rooms that won't limit your ability to function, says Oosterhouse.
  3. Closet reorganization. Many times, people have maxed out their closet and have no more room to add, let alone organize. That's when it’s time to evaluate. Donate clothes you no longer wear to a charity, store seasonal attire in a separate location, and separate his from hers.
  4. Break down a big project. Planning is essential. As Oosterhouse says, if you think you can just start up any big job without a plan, then you are in for a world of frustration. Know your capabilities and limitations.
  5. Know where the biggest ROI is. The improvements that will most add to the value of your home include, the kitchen, the master bedroom and bathroom. These can boost your resale value and attract buyers who want a space that’s move-in ready.

These are just some of many great suggestions for tackling home improvement projects. Feel free to contact me for more ideas and please forward this email on to your fellow DIY-ers!

How to Make Sure Your Remodel Fits Your Lifestyle

by The Mike Parker Team

According to a new consumer poll from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), 49% of homeowners consider outcome and design as the greatest determinant of project satisfaction. According to NARI National President-Elect Michael Hydeck, consumers want their design to cater perfectly to their lifestyles and how they intend to use the space.

As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have seen countless times how good design involves much more than customization of the home. Design work can bring multi-functional capabilities to a room -- like a kitchen that also serves as the family room -- or it can enhance the flow of the space by widening walkways and adding more access to the space from various parts of the home.

If you are considering a home remodel in 2011, make sure your remodeler works with you to get to the root of your lifestyle needs. According to Hydeck, many remodelers actually put their clients through special exercises to see how the remodel can best enhance their lifestyle, such as having them complete a questionnaire or take them on a walk-through of the entire home.

Hydeck also recommends, prior to starting a remodel, that you take a few days to take note of everything you do in your home and how you access it ... the paths you take, what counters or areas you place items on, where you sit most often to relax, etc. Being aware of these patterns will help make your remodel as successful as possible.

For more advice on remodeling, visit www.nariremodelers.com, or e-mail me. I can provide you with my recommendations for remodelers in your area. Be sure to forward this information on to any friends and family members who may also be considering a remodel.

10 Tips for Hiring a Home Remodeling Contractor

by The Mike Parker Team

 

Given the economic difficulties that still exist, it's not surprising that many homeowners are looking to home improvement and renovation, rather than buying a new home.

When deciding to undertake a remodeling project, however, there are several invaluable tips to keep in mind as you discuss your home makeover with potential contractors.

Thanks to my network of leading real estate professionals, the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I can offer tips to make your home renovation a more streamlined, more palatable experience, courtesy of Stageoflife.com:

Tip #1: Does Your Contractor Have Proof of Insurance?
Ask the contractor to have his insurance company mail or fax a copy of his current contractor insurance card to you. If the contractor can't do this, stay away. Why? If there is an accident at your home, you are then liable. This also applies to any sub-contractor or employee that the contractor may use; those individuals should have active insurance cards faxed or mailed to you as well.

Tip #2: Did You Check References and See Photos?
Ask for at least three references — with two of them being for the same type of project you are planning — and then call the references. Additionally, ask the contractor to provide photos of previous work, especially for the same type of project. If he produces lawn and garden photos and you're planning a bathroom remodel, you may want to check out another contractor.

Tip #3: Does Your Contractor Take Debit or Credit Cards?
Besides your ability to earn a few points, bonus miles or cash back on your project, a good sign that a contractor is financially savvy and has a bank behind his business is his ability to take debit and credit cards. This doesn't just apply to big contracting companies. Many small, one-man shops will take cards if they have a good relationship with their business bank or credit union.

Tip #4: Manners and Appearance?
If the contractor drove his vehicle to your home to give you an estimate, take a look at the way he keeps the equipment and vehicle. Are things clean? Neatly arranged? If not, that's a big warning. The way a contractor treats his tools is a direct connection to how he'll treat your home. During the initial meeting, does the contractor present himself in a professional way? Do you feel comfortable around him or his employees? They will be working in your home after all.

Tip #5: Clean-Up Policy?
Ask about the clean-up policy. For example, if your home improvement is a multi-day project, will the contractor be cleaning up at the end of every day or will he leave the dust, wood chips, and other mess laying there for day two? The more mess in your home ... the more it gets tracked around. Many homeowners find themselves with mouths gaping wide after the contractor has left for the day and their floors and home are dirty and messy around the project area.

Tip #6: Will the Contractor Put It In Writing?
Is your contractor willing to put both his bid and the scope of work in writing? If not, walk away immediately. You'll be surprised how many homeowners have been duped by contractors who verbally tell you what's included in their scope of work, but will then, in the middle of everything, require extra money to finish the remodel, thus holding you hostage with an uncompleted home project.

Tip #7: Availability?
Can the contractor get the job done in your timeline rather than his? There's nothing more frustrating than if a contractor tells you that a job will be done by a certain date and then it isn't. On the flip side, if you can't find a good contractor that's willing to commit to your timeline, your expectations may be too high and you may need to adjust your timeline.

Tip #8: Does Your Contractor Use "Subs?"
Does your contractor plan on doing everything himself? Or will he "sub out" work to the "trades?" For example, if you are remodeling a bathroom, you may need a plumber, electrician and carpenter. It's okay if the contractor subs work out to these specific trades — it shows he wants the work done right.

Tip #9: Quoting & Billing Procedure?
Ask the contractor about his quoting procedure. Will it contain general information, or will it be specific? For example, most contractors will charge you for a fuel surcharge, material up-charges, waste removal, labor, etc. Some will show you these exact costs in a line item invoice, but others roll it up into one big bill. How much detail do you want? You should clarify that with your contractor upfront.

Also, what is the payment or billing policy? Is money required upfront? If so, go back to #1 and #2 above to make sure you have the contractor's references checked and have a copy of his contractor's insurance.

Tip #10: Did Your Contractor Get the Permits?
Ask your contractor to take care of the permits. Although permits cost you money, the inspection process is meant to protect you from poor workmanship and to make sure that everything is being built to code.

For more information on home improvement and renovation, please e-mail me and please feel free to forward these tips to any family and friends.

Looking For A Summer Remodeling Project? These Tips Might Help

by The Mike Parker Team

Other than vacations, summer is the time of the year most popular for home improvement. The long days and warm, sunny weather make a great time to work on repairs and renovations without much of the hassles and delays that rain and other elements bring.

As a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have years of experience and understand how taking on a remodeling project is beneficial to you, both now and then later down the road should you choose to sell.

For these reasons and more, a good number of homeowners undertake home improvement projects, especially during the summer.

 

Following are tips and projects—both large and small—for homeowners looking to spruce their homes up this summer.

Patios and Decks
What better way to enjoy the warm days than by creating an outdoor living space for the family to enjoy.

 

Decks and patios are among the most popular summer remodeling ideas. There are various factors to take into consideration when deciding on whether a patio or deck is the most appropriate project to undertake. Such factors include soil condition and consistency, site terrain, use, capacity and privacy, as well as the cost and maintenance you are willing to put up with.

Home Maintenance
Throughout the seasons, your home has taken good care of you and your family and now is the best time to give back.

 

Go through your property to evaluate and create a checklist on areas that need mending or replacement. This list is a crucial preparation before calling a contractor or handyman for maintenance/repair services. Some common maintenance and repair include:

  • Waterproofing the basement
  • Re-caulking and replacing weather-striping
  • Cleaning and sealing wooden decks
  • Trimming bushes and trees
  • Realigning downspouts and gutters
  • Repairing the roof
  • Cleaning the pool
  • Mending the fence
  • Sealing cracks along driveways, foundation, walkways, etc.
  • Maintenance of HVAC systems

Energy-Efficient Renovation
When it comes to summer remodeling, there's no better way to invest your hard-earned dollars than by making your home energy efficient. An energy-efficient summer remodel is truly a worthwhile endeavor as it will result in years of savings on your energy bills. Some of the common items you can buy and integrate into your energy-efficient renovation include:

  • Insulation systems and materials
  • Roofs that resist heat gain
  • Biomass-burning stoves
  • Energy-efficient windows
  • HVAC systems with the highest efficiency tier
  • Solar panels
  • Fuel cells
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Wind energy systems

Taking on one (or more!) of these projects is a great way to give back to your home this summer…and, in some cases, save you a bit of money, too. For more information on home renovation projects, please e-mail me - and please feel free to forward these tips to any family and friends you think might benefit from them as well.

Checklist for Improving Indoor Air Quality

by The Mike Parker Team


June not only marks the commencement of the summer season, but more importantly for homeowners, National Home Safety Month. While our thoughts turn to smoke detectors and child safety locks when considering a safe home, many homeowners often overlook the risks of poor indoor air quality—especially important as the temperature and humidity rise with summer.

As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I’ve worked with many clients who have suffered from health-related issues due to poor air quality in their homes. Yet rarely do people think about the quality of their indoor air. Service experts recommend using the following checklist to ensure your air is as healthy as possible:

  • Do you smoke in your home?
  • Do your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room have ventilation and exhaust fans?
  • Do you change your air filters once a month?
  • When cleaning or doing laundry, do you use bleach, ammonia, or aerosol spray cans?
  • Is your gas fireplace and/or gas stove checked yearly for emissions?
  • Was your home built before 1978? If so, has it been checked for lead-based paint?
  • Do your bathrooms have carpet where moisture and dust can build up?

If you have answered "yes" to any of these questions, it’s time to consider making some changes. Many of the quick fixes to improve one’s indoor air quality at home can be accomplished through a few simple adjustments to your regular maintenance practices.

Others, like checking for lead paint, can often be handled through local, county or state programs that are partially or wholly subsidized, and heating source emissions checks can often be done through one’s own utility provider.

For more information on home safety or for a referral on companies that can help you with home maintenance, please e-mail me. And feel free to pass this email on to friends and family members who may have concerns regarding their indoor air quality.

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Photo of Mike Parker - CRS Real Estate
Mike Parker - CRS
HUFF Realty
60 Cavalier Blvd.
Florence KY 41042
859-647-0700