The Melanie Henderson Team
 
The Melanie Henderson Team

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Closing Time: 5 Tips to Prep Your Vacation Home for Vacancy

September 2, 2016 12:27 am


Summer is coming to a close, and, with it, the task of closing up a vacation home for the season.

Preparing your vacation property for vacancy involves several steps, says Charles Crews, spokesperson for Michigan-based Consumers Energy. The most important measures, listed below, can help minimize damage brought on by the harsh elements of winter and early spring.

1. Shut off the water supply. Shutting off the water supply to your vacation home will reduce the chance the pipes freeze and burst, which can be costly to repair. Once the supply is off, drain the hot water tank, pipes and sewer traps, or, place antifreeze (the product designed for RVs, Crews recommends) into empty toilet bowls.

2. Clean the fireplace. Cleaning the fireplace will prepare it for use next season—be sure to close the damper flue once it is swept, Crews advises. Remove any debris from the chimney opening, and place a cover over it to keep hibernating animals out.

3. Store outdoor equipment. Storing outdoor equipment will prevent it from damage should severe weather occur while you’re not present. Stow away chairs, grills and tables in a secure area. (Remember to disconnect the grill’s propane tank and store it, too!)

4. Remove edibles. Removing edibles from your vacation home will keep rodents and pests at bay—they can cause extensive damage if they access the home. Do not store food, even if it is non-perishable.

5. Arrange for maintenance. Arranging for winter maintenance on your vacation home can lessen the potential for damage come spring. If you expect your home will weather a winter storm or two, consider having a local snow removal company stop by periodically throughout the season to remove ice or snow from the driveway, roof and walkways.

In the market for a vacation home? Contact a real estate professional today!
 
Source: Consumers Energy

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Off to College? Money-Saving Tips for First-Years

September 1, 2016 12:18 am


Starting college is exciting, but move-in can overshadow important financial considerations for freshmen.

“A college career comes with newfound independence, and for many students, this change comes with a new level of personal responsibility,” says Joe Mason, chief marketing officer of Allianz Global Assistance USA.

One of the first steps incoming students should take, Mason says, is to locate an area bank. Proximity to charge-free ATMs is key, especially if the student is studying far from home.

Allow for parking expenses, as well—many institutions impose fees on students who park on campus, Mason explains. Keep an allowance handy to avoid more costly tickets.

Password-protecting all electronic devices is also important, because it will prevent cyber criminals (on campus and off) from accessing identifying financial information, Mason says.

Look into tuition insurance, Mason adds. Tuition insurance will cover losses should the student have to take an unexpected leave of absence.

“While day-to-day money management strategies are important, it is just as critical to prevent larger financial losses,” Mason says. “Increasingly, parents and students are choosing to protect their college savings with tuition insurance, just as they protect other large investments, such as their homes and cars.”

Eight in 10 financial advisors recently surveyed by Allianz recommend tuition insurance for students taking out loans to finance their college education.

“Safeguarding your tuition investment is a smart financial decision. Even the best students can struggle with adjusting to the demands of a university, fall ill or need to leave school for another unforeseen reason,” Mason says.

Source: Allianz Global Assistance USA
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Starting Your Smart Home Transformation

September 1, 2016 12:18 am


(Family Features)—The smart home movement is here to stay—but converting yours may seem intimidating. Transform your home to the times in just a few simple steps, courtesy of the experts at Chamberlain (Chamberlain.com):

Budget
Smart home technology once reserved for the well-off is now mainstream, so your budget will go further than it used to—in fact, you can get smart for less than $100. Two of the most important considerations when establishing your budget is your desired level of integration and the size of your home.

Brainstorm
Consider products that will make your household more convenient—a smartphone-controlled sound system if you entertain often, for instance, or a wireless washing machine starter for those days you forget to turn it on. Brainstorm room-by-room to determine areas that could benefit from smart home efficiency.

Pair
There are several smart home products available on the market today, so it is important to purchase ones that integrate with one another, as well as function with products you may add in the future. Pairing products will not only improve your smart home experience, but also spare you the expense on extraneous support products.

Prioritize
Going smart at home can be overwhelming. Install the products you plan to use daily first—an automatic garage door opener or a programmable thermostat, for example. Reserve seasonal products, like a smart sprinkler system, and install them at a later date.

Make your smart home transformation seamless with these steps—they’ll get you across the threshold into your new smart home!

Source: Chamberlain
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Design Book: The 2017 Color of the Year

September 1, 2016 12:18 am


The Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year informs interior décor decisions for designers and homeowners, echoed in seasonal trends throughout the year. In 2017, that color will be Poised Taupe, an understated, “modern take on a timeless classic” blending the best of browns and grays.

“Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of brown, taking a color to an entirely new level,” explains Sue Wadden, director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams, of the choice. “Not cool or warm, nor gray or brown, Poised Taupe is a weathered, woodsy neutral bringing a sense of coziness and harmony that people are seeking.”

According to Wadden, Poised Taupe signals a new direction in neutrals, which have historically been either cool or warm. Two in five surveyed by Sherwin-Williams identified taupe as a “timeless neutral,” neither too cool nor too warm.

Poised Taupe is drawn from Sherwin’s “Noir” palette, and pairs with a range of colors, including aureolin yellow, lava red, pomp-and-power purple, and teal.

“Consumers yearn for spaces that feel welcoming and hug them as they enter,” Wadden says. “Earthen brown combined with conservative gray, creating Poised Taupe, embodies all of these emotions.”

Source: Sherwin-Williams
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Last Holiday: What's in Store for Travelers This Labor Day

August 31, 2016 12:12 am


The unofficial end of summer is almost here, when scores of travelers will take to the roads for one last holiday in the sun.

So, what’s in store this Labor Day Weekend?

A recent poll of Labor Day travelers, conducted by Hankook Tire, reveals:

• Most travelers (73 percent) will drive to their Labor Day Weekend destination.

• Most travelers will have a wet Labor Day Weekend, with 55 percent heading to a beach, 29 heading to a lake and 13 percent heading to a water park.

• Most travelers agree: traffic is the worst part of Labor Day Weekend (71 percent), followed by long airport lines (24 percent) and no train seating (5 percent).

• Most travelers agree: an SUV or truck (48 percent) is the best vehicle to take on a Labor Day Weekend trip, followed by a luxury car (26 percent), a convertible (10 percent) and a sports car or an off-road vehicle (8 percent each).

• Most travelers (90 percent) will check their gas before trekking to their Labor Day Weekend destination, but many (45 percent) will not check if they have a spare tire on hand before departing.

That last finding is important—no matter where you’re off to this Labor Day weekend, conduct a thorough check of your vehicle before traveling. Hankook Tire’s experts say this includes checking the oil and tire pressure, as well as the spare tire.

Source: Hankook Tire America Corp.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners Ask: Should I Replace or Repair Flood-Damaged Systems?

August 31, 2016 12:12 am


It is no secret flooding can severely damage the HVACR systems in your home, but it can be difficult to determine whether to repair or replace them once water has receded.

Replacement, it turns out, is generally the best course of action, says Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

“Standing water in a yard, house or basement can damage a home's heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment in ways that are not always readily apparent, putting families at risk,” said Yurek in statement. “We advise homeowners to play it safe and replace, rather than repair, flood-damaged heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment.”

Yurek and the AHRI recommend:

Replacing the air conditioning system (and heat pump, if contained in a split unit) only if floodwaters have displaced its indoor or outdoor components, which could result in leaking refrigerant; if the system survived flooding, have it cleaned and inspected by a qualified service professional

Replacing the ductwork for a central air conditioning system only if it has been exposed to floodwaters; a qualified service professional should replace the ducts

Replacing the water-heating system, no matter if it is powered by electricity, gas or oil, only if in contact with floodwaters; many components in the system can corrode if not replaced

Yurek suggests consulting the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) organization to locate a qualified HVACR contractor in your area—it is imperative you have a professional perform any replacement work. This list can be found at www.hvacradvice.com/site/1/Home.

Source: Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Home-Buying Equation

August 31, 2016 12:12 am


Buying a home for the first time can seem daunting. One way to alleviate the process is to organize your finances before embarking on the house hunt. Unsure how to get yours in order? Remember A + B + C + D + E:

Ask + Budget + Check + Differentiate + Estimate

Before you start searching for a home, ask a real estate professional for guidance. He or she will have expertise related not only to financing, but also to negotiating a deal in your favor.

Next, set a budget that takes into account your down payment, your anticipated monthly mortgage payment (with interest), and your closing costs. These figures are all important considerations in the home-buying process.

Prior to house-hunting, check your credit report and score. Your credit is a determining factor in a lender’s approval or denial of your mortgage loan application, as well as your mortgage interest rate. Take steps to correct any errors on your report, or improve your score, if necessary.

Shop around for mortgage lenders to differentiate between loan offerings—even a slight variation in rates or terms can lead to significant savings over the life of your loan. Your real estate professional may recommend a lender, but it is ultimately your choice with whom to obtain a mortgage.

Estimate oft-forgotten homeownership-related expenses, such as your monthly homeowners insurance premium, your maintenance costs, your moving expenditures, your property taxes and your utility rates. These will all play a role in your overall affordability.

Completing A, B, C, D and E will not only prepare you for the home-buying process, but also lay a strong financial foundation for you as a new homeowner. The result of the equation speaks for itself!
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Away from Home: Packing and Protecting Your College Student

August 30, 2016 12:06 am


Millions of students are in the throes of college move-in, preparing to venture to their homes away home for another school year.

For freshmen, knowing what to bring—and what to leave behind—can be a challenge. New students should familiarize themselves with their school’s policies on acceptable belongings before packing. Students can then use a checklist (such as the one from DormSmart.com, below) to inventory what's packed upon arrival on campus.

A checklist can also be used if obtaining a College Property Insurance Policy—though students may never need to make a claim if they take secure measures, such as installing dorm locks or using a laptop safe.

One retailer, DormCo.com, offers security products for students:

Fire Gone – A dorm-sized fire extinguisher that delivers a strong, targeted stream of eco-friendly foam ($14.95)

Chipolo's Tracking Tag – A bluetooth system that connects matching tags with a smartphone to track down lost items within a 200 foot-range

TabletSafe – A three-dial padlock safe for tablets, wallets, cash, passports, and other valuables ($59.99)

To print the DormSmart checklist, visit DormSmart.com/assets/images/Dorm_Room_Checklist.pdf.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Preventing Water Damage at Home

August 30, 2016 12:06 am


Any homeowner who’s experienced flooding knows how damaging water can be. Millions of dollars are spent on water-related repairs and restorations each year, says Eric Corbett, owner of Larry & Sons, Inc., a Maryland-based air conditioning, heating and plumbing company.

“Water damage can be caused by any size leak,” Corbett says. “Even if it starts out relatively small, it has the potential to create a major problem inside your home. This leads to costly repairs if proper precautions are ignored."

Water leaks account for up to 14 percent of water usage in the average household, Corbett notes. Waterproofing potential leak sources is one way to not only reduce that percentage, but also lessen damage should a leak occur.

One of the most common leak sources is a running toilet, Corbett says. To determine whether a leak is present, drop a few drips of food dye into the toilet tank—evidence of a leak will be obvious after about 20 minutes. Replace the valve inside the tank to prevent further leaking.

Many leaks occur in basements, Corbett adds. A damp basement should be remedied by a professional as soon as possible to mitigate appliance damage and mildew and mold growth.

Weathered pipes can also cause leaks, especially if they are rusted. Signs of a pipe leak include visual indicators of accumulation, such as wet drywall, and dripping sounds, Corbett says.

Leaks can happen outside of the home, as well. Vibrant green vegetation or moss growth around a sprinkler head could be a sign of a broken head or damaged valve—a leak that must be addressed by a professional, says Corbett.

“These are common water hazards that every homeowner faces at one time or another,” Corbett concludes. “It's a lot simpler than many people think to waterproof their homes and avoid those issues.”

Source: Larry & Sons, Inc.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Cost of Housing: 25 Metros and the Salaries Needed to Live in Them

August 30, 2016 12:06 am


Homeownership comes with costs—in some markets more than others. How much will you need to earn to purchase a home in your area?

HSH.com recently calculated the salaries needed to afford housing payments on a median-priced home in 25 metropolitan areas, including mortgage principal and interest, taxes and insurance. HSH assumed a 20 percent down payment and weighed the standard 28 percent “front-end” debt ratio with the most recent median home prices reported by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The salary minimums, according to HSH’s calculations, are:

1. Cincinnati, Ohio – $37,179
2. St. Louis, Mo. – $38,131
3. Detroit, Mich. – $38,542
4. Atlanta, Ga. – $40,092
5. Phoenix, Ariz. – $44,716
6. Tampa, Fla. – $44,875
7. San Antonio – $48,753
8. Orlando, Fla. – $49,382
9. Minneapolis, Minn. – $51,794
10. Houston, Texas – $52,275
11. Philadelphia, Pa. – $53,422
12. Dallas, Texas – $54,764
13. Baltimore, Md. – $56,837
14. Chicago, Ill. – $62,456
15. Miami, Fla. – $65,120
16. Sacramento, Calif. – $65,363
17. Portland, Ore. – $70,613
18. Denver, Colo. – $72,847
19. Washington, D.C. – $81,940
20. Seattle, Ore. – $82,671
21. New York, N.Y. – $86,215
22. Boston, Mass. – $87,557
23. Los Angeles, Calif. – $92,092
24. San Diego, Calif. – $109,441
25. San Francisco, Calif. – $161,948

Don’t see your area listed? Consult a local real estate professional for the most accurate affordability estimates for your area, or visit HSH.com/finance/mortgage/salary-home-buying-25-cities.html.

Source: HSH.com
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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