Articles Tagged "home improvement"

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January
14

Whether it's your first time buying or selling a house or it's your fifth, you'll likely have lots of questions about the process. We understand that, which is why we're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the home-buying and home-selling process. Read on to get the answers you seek!

Buying a Home

Should I work with an agent?

Yes! When searching for a home, it's important to know what you want. The right agent will help you determine must-haves and deal-breakers, as well as educate you on the communities you're interested in. Your agent will also help you navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. They're the expert, after all!

Should I go to the bank before starting my house search?

Getting pre-approved before starting your house search can be very helpful. By measuring factors like income, credit, and assets, a lender can determine what type of loan best suits your needs and how much home you can afford. Not only will you know your spending budget, it can also give you an upper hand as a buyer because it shows sellers you're serious about making a purchase.

How many houses should I tour?

As many as it takes until you find the perfect home for you. Everyone's needs, wants, and deal-breakers will be different, and you want to avoid settling for a house you'll dislike after a few months. Even if it takes time, it's worth the extra effort.

Do I need money for a big down payment?

Not necessarily. Today, more loan options and homebuying programs exist, giving buyers a larger variety of approaches to buying a house. While some people may still want to complete a large down payment, it is absolutely not vital to purchase a home. In fact, the average first-time buyer only puts 6% down, and many loans and programs available to first-time buyers require even less than that.

How long will closing last?

After negotiations have settled and your offer is accepted, the loan process and title work begin. Inspections and other walkthroughs will be completed as well. Most closings last 30 to 45 days.

 

Selling a Home

Should I sell on my own or with an agent?

You've probably heard from one person or another that going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route is optimal as it will save you money that you would otherwise spend on commission fees. However, the benefits of listing, marketing, and exposing your home to potential buyers an agent provides are often worth the commission fee.

What's more, you may end up spending less money by selling with an agent. A typical home sale process that requires lots of time and effort likely won't net you much savings at all if you go it alone.

When should I put my home on the market?

This is the first of many steps where an agent's expertise will help you make a decision. When there are fewer available homes to purchase to meet buyers' demands, you get a seller's market. Each home for sale becomes a hot commodity in this sort of market.

There's no truly bad time to sell, necessarily. Even in a buyer's market, your home will still draw attention so long as it's promoted properly.

Should I make any changes to my home before selling?

Definitely! Do a deep clean, make necessary repairs and replacements, organize cabinets and closets, declutter and depersonalize, and spruce up your home's curb appeal. Be careful about spending too much money on major repairs and renovations, however; you may not make back what you spent in the sale.

How should I price my home?

Determining your home's value can be tricky; setting an accurate sale price can be even tougher. Your agent will help you assess your home's value by analyzing other similar homes in the area that have sold. A home inspection will also help to paint the picture of your home's value.

Setting a sale price is a delicate art. Price it too high and you risk pushing buyers away. Price it too low and you might raise suspicions in buyers' minds. Again, your agent will help you find the sweet spot and price your home favorably.  

 

Still have questions about the home-buying or selling process? Contact one of our expert agents to have your questions answered.

December
22

If you're like 60% of people, you probably dread the idea of moving. And we get it! Packing, loading, unpacking – it can all be a bit of a drag. So you've probably considered simply reimagining the space you're in as an alternative to moving. But that has its own drawbacks, like trying to live around the messiness and noises of home improvement.

At the core of either of these decisions lies the true issue: you're not happy with at least some part of your home. Making the choice to renovate or move to a new home entirely isn't easy, but we're hoping the following guide can help you make an informed decision one way or the other.

Consider the Costs

Try to think beyond the profit, because believe it or not, selling your home can be costly. Everything from touch-ups and minor repairs to staging and various closing costs can rack up a high price. That's before you even consider paying for your new home!

Then again, depending on the scope of your renovations, you could be looking at a hefty price tag as well. Renovations also typically require immediate out-of-pocket costs, and as projects go on, you could see additional costs enter the picture.

Do You Like Your Location?

Do you love your neighborhood? Are your kids in a great school district? Are you an active fixture in your community? Sometimes the one thing you fall out of love with about where you live is…where you live.

If you've found you adore your community but your home isn't meeting your needs anymore, perhaps renovating is the route for you. Conversely, if you'd rather discover a new neighborhood, you might choose to start fresh with a move.

Think Long-Term

It's generally accepted that what you pay for in renovations, you probably won't get back when you sell. There are exceptions to this, of course, but for most folks it holds true.

So if you plan to be in your home for another 10 years, remodeling is a good idea. You'll get to enjoy the results of all your hard work and money spent. If you don't see yourself staying put for long, however, it likely won't be cost-effective to sink money into renovations.

Research the Market

For the past year and more, the market has been particularly ripe for sellers. And while that might influence your decision to sell and move into a new home, keep in mind that you'll still need to buy a new home. The market has been significantly more challenging for buyers.

The market is always fluid, however, so whenever you find yourself pondering renovations versus selling, do yourself a favor and check in on your local market.

 

What you choose will ultimately come down to your unique situation. If you're looking for an agent's expert opinion on the matter, check in with one of Watson's knowledgeable real estate pros!

September
30

For most of us, a life lived mostly inside the walls of our home became the norm for at least a year. Lots of things changed; grocery store trips became deliveries, intense hand-washing sessions occurred multiple times a day, and empty guest rooms became home offices.

It makes sense then that homebuyers' preferred features have shifted in response to the changes they've experienced. Point2 Homes examined 43 million words from more than 640,000 listings across the United States, then compared their findings to a study of the same nature in 2019.

Examining the most popular home descriptions words, phrases, and features reveals a lot about how buyers' tastes have changed.

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September
2

Litter Box Tips

September is officially Happy Cat Month, so take some extra time to appreciate your feline friend. Cats make wonderful pets, but there's one part of cat ownership that everyone dislikes - the litter box. Its appearance isn't attractive, and no one wants to have its odor or the sounds of a cat scratching away in the box invading your home's common areas.
  
With a few tools, some time, and a little bit of effort, you can hide your cat's litter box while still leaving it easily accessible for them. Check out these tips to help make your cat's litter box out of sight and out of mind.

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July
30

Front Door Paint

Once you have your dream house, the next step is to make it your own. And the best place to start is with the front door. It's the first thing people see before they walk in; it should make a decorative statement about who you are and what kind of home this is. Here are some paint options to consider.

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May
26

Composting Tips

If you're looking for a new home, one thing you may be thinking about is gardening and landscaping. Many homes have plenty of yard space for growing plants. You may want a home with room for something else, too: a compost pile. If you've never had one before, they're a great tool for anyone with a green thumb. Here's how to start your first compost pile.

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April
1

Watson List Your Home

Listing your home for sale can be overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. One of the best ways to sell your home quickly and increase your sale price is through proper home staging. Home staging is both an art and a science and often takes a good bit of experience to pull it off just right. Our real estate agents are experts at home staging and are always willing to offer tips to help you through the process.

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January
20

Ready to reimagine your kitchen? Or tackle that backyard project? Or maybe you're just finally ready to declutter and reorganize. Perhaps you don't even know what it is you want to do with your house; you just know you want change. Never fear! We've got New Year's resolutions for your home to inspire you.

Give Your Stuff a Home

Over the course of a year, we tend to accumulate lots of stuff. If you don't keep a handle on it, you can find your drawers, cabinets, closets, and counters overflowing with heaps of stuff that maybe doesn't belong there. Make it a resolution to give all that homeless stuff a place where it can live comfortably – preferably somewhere neat, tidy, and out of the way. Decluttering in this way not only frees up useful space, it'll make your home feel even roomier than before.

You'll likely have a lot of stuff that doesn't make the cut after this process. Instead of just tossing it, consider donating it to a local organization that will give it to those in need.

Restock & Organize Your Pantry & Fridge

Unless you're hyper-diligent when putting away groceries, chances are you've got a lot of clutter in your pantry, cabinets, fridge, and freezer. Dedicate some time to reorganizing theses pivotal kitchen spaces: sort out the items you'll use/eat from the things you won't, store frequently used items like flour and sugar in airtight containers to minimize the amount of unwieldy bags taking up space, and reorganize what remains in a clean, sensible fashion. It'll make cooking feel like much less of a chore when everything you need is where it should be.

Make Your Home Safe

We mean safe in two ways: safe from intruders and safe for yourself.

First, intruders. If you don't already have one, maybe this is the year to have a security system installed. They're incredibly sophisticated these days, allowing you to control many features remotely from your phone. Pair it with a smart doorbell and cameras and you'll feel safer than ever in your home.

Speaking of feeling safer in your home, sometimes it's the unseen threats that you should worry about. Invisible invaders like radon and carbon monoxide can endanger everyone living in your home. Check for radon with an inexpensive testing kit from your local hardware store. Install carbon monoxide detectors on every bedroom floor as well to monitor this deadly gas.

While we're on the topic of unseen threats, have you cleared out your dryer lint lately? Not the relatively paltry amounts caught in the trap inside the dryer, but rather the lint in the vents and ducts behind the machine? With even just a reasonable amount of lint buildup in those areas, you could be looking at a major fire hazard.

Deep Clean

New year, fresh start – what better time to give your house a deep, deep clean? Go room to room and scrub, dust, vacuum, wipe, and just generally sanitize every nook and cranny you normally glance over during your regular cleaning sessions.

Be More Eco-Friendly

Going green at home doesn't have to mean installing solar panels (though that doesn't hurt). It can happen in smaller but just as impacting ways, like recycling more than just your soda cans. From compost to cardboard and glass to grease, organize your recyclable materials into appropriate bins and dispose of them properly – your local recycling center can help you figure out the best way to approach this.

Going green can also save you money on your power bill, and who doesn't want that? Seemingly little things like turning the lights off when you're not in the room or cutting off your AC when you're gone can help the environment and your wallet. Installing LED bulbs and low-flow showerheads that use less electricity and water, respectively, are other beneficial ways to save money and the planet.

August
20

Home value is a tricky thing. Factors that are out of your control – the market, your neighborhood, and more – can cause your home's value to inflate and deflate. But there are ways to control your home's value, and that's why we're here. Whether your budget is big or small, we've gathered an assortment of projects that will help maximize your home's value.

Focus on Small Improvements

Great things often come in small packages. The same applies to home renovations and maintenance projects designed to maximize your home's value. Sure, installing a brand-new roof or completely remodeling your kitchen will likely boost value, but those sorts of projects will also drain your budget fast. Focus on smaller-scale projects to see big payoffs in the long run.

Hire an Inspector

Inspectors can identify flaws in your home that you didn't even know were there. Once you know they exist, you can take steps to remedy them.

Give the Illusion of Space

You can't magically change your square footage, but you can rely on visual tricks to give the illusion of greater space. Replace heavy curtains with blinds to let in more light – natural light helps a room feel more open. You could also try adding a large mirror to essentially double the space.

Boost Curb Appeal

First impressions matter, so make sure your home always makes a strong one with high curb appeal. Refresh the exterior paint if it needs it, decorate your front door, and consider adding accent items like light fixtures or furniture to your home's walkway as ways to ensure your home presents a handsome exterior.

Maintain Landscaping

Keep your lawn neat and tidy with regular landscaping can be a major factor in maximizing your home's value. Shrubs, colorful plants, and flowers can liven up your yard as well, but make sure to keep everything trimmed and well-manicured.

Plant a Tree

Planting a tree has a long-term payoff, but it's well worth it if you don't plan on selling anytime soon. A fully grown mature tree boosts curb appeal and can help with cooling costs by providing shade. Consider it a solid investment that boosts your home's value in the future.

Add Money-Saving Luxuries

You may not live in a multi-million-dollar beachfront mansion, but that doesn't mean you can't add affordable luxuries on a smaller scale. For instance, installing a water filtration system to your kitchen sink not only gives you clean water to drink without having to constantly drop money on water bottles, but it's also the kind of touch that will attract homeowners.

Painting

A fresh coat of paint always helps to liven up rooms or your curb appeal, and for those reasons it can have a positive impact on your home value.

Clean Up

Cleaning the house might just be a weekend ritual in your house, but if you're looking to sell, it can make a huge difference. Clean houses look better, feel better, and typically have a better chance at selling.

June
3

Floridians know all too well the dangers of hurricane season. These violent storms can cause considerable property damage, which is why it's important to start preparing your home as early as possible. If you're not sure where to start, read on to find out how to prepare your home for hurricane season.

Check for Leaks

Hurricanes bring with them torrential rain, often for days at a time. Check doors, windows, and walls – especially areas where cables and pipes enter – for leaks that could allow water to seep through. Plug any that you may find with a strong sealant.

Bring Furniture Inside

Any outdoor furniture should become indoor furniture during a hurricane. If you can't transfer items inside, secure them to the ground as tightly as possible – ideally in a spot away from any windows.

Brace Windows, Doors, & More

With winds that can reach up to 150+ MPH, hurricanes can easily shatter windows and splinter doors. Brace them with plywood to protect against winds and debris. Don't ignore your garage door, either; often made of lightweight material, they're prone to blowing off.

Protect Against Power Surges

Safeguarding against power surges protects appliances and other electronics from irreparable damage that could occur during a hurricane. Using surge protectors helps, but if you lose power, unplug your electronics. They'll be safe if a surge hits once power is restored.

Cover Your Air Conditioner

Consider shielding your AC unit with a manufacturer-approved protective cover to keep it safe from flying debris and projectiles. Don't DIY it with a garbage bag or tarp. They'll just trap moisture inside.

Trim Trees & Bushes

Give those scraggly trees and shrubs around your property a much-needed manicure before any storms threaten. Overhanging branches are recipes for disaster during a hurricane.

Clean Your Gutters

Gutters filled with gunk will only increase your chances of roof damage and flooding.

Set Your Fridge & Freezer to the Coldest Setting

If you do lose power, your fridge and freezer will stay colder even longer.

Locate Water, Gas, & Electricity Shutoffs

Knowing where to turn off these essential elements can save a small amount of storm damage from turning into cataclysmic damage.

Gather Your Insurance Paperwork

Now is a good time to lay eyes on your homeowner's insurance paperwork and store it somewhere safe. Should your house sustain any damage, you don't want to waste time digging around for it or find it at the bottom of a flooded closet.

April
15

Podcasts experienced a surge in popularity in the last few years, and it's no wonder why. They're accessible, low-investment forms of entertainment that you can listen to when you're exercising, cooking dinner, driving, or doing just about anything. Podcasts can also be about anything. If there's a niche TV show or hobby you can think of, there's probably a podcast covering it. And if you're looking for podcasts that talk about the vast topic of homes, well, you're in luck. From redecorating projects to housing market analysis, here are some of the best home-related podcasts you should be listening to.

The Minimalists

Since starting their website of the same name in 2010, multi-talented authors, filmmakers, public speakers, and yes, podcasters Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus have helped people learn to live with less. Their podcast delves into the benefits of going minimal, as well as other related topics.

Fix It Home Improvement

Fix It Home Improvement focuses on – you guessed it – home improvement projects. Most episodes clock in around a digestible 20 minutes and range in topic from how to reduce utility costs to fixing a clogged drain.

Ask a Clean Person

Whether you're a lifelong neat freak or you're looking for better ways to deep clean your home, Ask a Clean Person is the tidiness podcast you need. Cleaning expert Jolie Kerr answers your listener questions, chats with guests, and talks about things like how often people should be washing their bathrobes.

Home: On

Host Richard Gunther uses Home: On as a medium to discuss the latest in home automation and connectivity trends. From analyzing interesting new products to informing and educating, Home: On offers up some of the most thoughtful discussions surrounding smart home tech.

Real Estate Today

If you're after in-depth analysis of the housing market, Real Estate Today should be in your podcast library. The National Association of REALTORS® brings you this informative show covering topics like buying and selling to improving your home's value.

Style Matters

You know when you see a tastefully decorated living room on Instagram and you think to yourself, "Why can't I do that?" Style Matters is the design-minded podcast that will help you unlock your inner interior designer and develop a style all your own.

The Unofficial Fixer Upper Podcast

Podcasts that cover a certain TV show episode-by-episode are popular nowadays. So it makes sense you'd find one that goes through each episode of Fixer Upper, the much-celebrated TV show that introduced the world to Chip and Joanna Gaines. Though the podcast only began with the show's fourth season and went through the fifth and final season, there are still 40 episodes for superfans to enjoy.

Good to Be Home

Rather than focus on the house itself, Good to Be Home instead highlights ways to maintain balance in your life. The weekly show explores topics like entrepreneurship, family, marriage, and more in an effort to help you maintain a happy home.

The RHS Gardening Podcast

Starting your own garden can be intimidating. The RHS Gardening Podcast aims to alleviate the intimidation and show you just how easy and fulfilling it can be to flex your green thumb.

The Chaise Lounge

The Chaise Lounge is one of the top interior design podcasts, thanks in large part to how accessible it makes even the most in-depth discussions of the field. Host Nick May interviews hundreds of the country's top interior designers, revealing strategies that can bolster both entrepreneurs and budding designers alike.

April
3

Ask anyone who routinely flexes their green thumb and they'll happily tell you gardening is one of the most fulfilling hobbies you could have. You gain an immense sense of accomplishment from working the land to produce food for your family coupled with some great exercise outdoors.

It doesn't matter what you grow or how experienced you are, either. Even if your experience with vegetables and fruits begins and ends with eating them, you're just as capable of building and managing a garden as anyone. In fact, we'll show you just how easy it can be. Here's how to start your own garden.

What do you want to grow?

fruits and vegetables

A common rule of thumb for starting your own garden is only grow what you'll eat. If okra makes you gag, maybe leave those seeds on the shelf. Figure out which fruits, veggies, and herbs your family loves most and start there. You'll have to account for more than taste when figuring out what to grow, though.

Just as important to consider is your location. If you're local to Florida, you'll have to contend with high humidity and brutal summers. Northern gardeners, meanwhile, will have to pay close attention to frost points throughout the winter. Different plants prefer certain climates, so make sure you select plants that will work for your area.

Companion plants or flowers are also a great idea to grow alongside your fruits, veggies, and herbs. Flowers especially are great for attracting bees and other pollinators to help your harvest reach its full growth potential. They can even attract other beneficial insects to help fight pests!

One thing to keep in mind throughout this process is to start small! It might seem appealing to turn your backyard into your own personal produce department, but maintaining a large garden takes a lot of work. Plant a small crop for your first go-round, keep it healthy and pest-free, and then you can try expanding next year.

Where do you want to grow?

Plants need sun, so just set them somewhere they'll get plenty of UV, right? While it's true most fruits and veggies require approximately six hours of sunlight each day, too much or too little can ruin their ability to grow. Some plants even do well in partial shade.

Just make sure you know what your chosen plants require for optimal growth. It's best to select an area that's easily accessible for watering and tending to, as well as an area that's far from any children's or pets' play areas. Natural pests will be trouble enough; it's best not to add additional factors that can cause trauma to your garden.

And most importantly: set up your garden somewhere you can't forget about it! Out back behind the shed you never use is where gardens go to die, so plant your crop somewhere you'll see every day.

Prepare the Soil

If there's sod where you want to plant, it's got to go. You can use a sod-cutting machine or cut it out with a sharp knife for quick results, or you can smother the sod with newspaper and a three-inch layer of compost. This is a longer method (it'll take about four months for everything to decompose), but it's also easier.

Once you've got a spot picked out, start planning your garden bed. How many will you set up? What shape(s) will they be? How big will they be? Generally, you don't want your beds to be wider than three or four feet – just wide enough that your plants get enough space while still giving you enough room to water and maintain without stepping in the bed. Raised beds are a great idea for many reasons. They look great, provide better yields, help fight against weeds, and more. Raised beds also tend to dry out more easily, so be wary of that.

Before you get to planting, you'll want to pay some attention to your soil. First up, have it tested to learn its acidity, alkalinity, its makeup, and any risks of contamination it may face. You can order tests online or through your county cooperative extension office. You'll also want to give your soil a little boost before planting. A simple cocktail of organic matter like compost, dry grass clippings, decayed leaves, or old manure can enrich your soil and make it more fertile.

To seed or to transplant?

Image result for seeds

It's time to get planting! Well, after you decide how you're going to start growing your garden. You can start with seeds that you'll sow directly into the soil. If you go this route, follow the seeding instructions on the package and you should be fine.

Alternatively, you can start with transplants, which are young plants that have already started growing. They're easier – just dig a hole and drop them in – but not all plants thrive as transplants. Your best bet is to figure out what you want to grow, then do some research online or at your local home and garden store to find out which method best suits that plant.

Water & Mulch

You've done it. You've tilled the land, dug up the soil, and planted your first batch of fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers, or whatever it is your green heart desires. Now it's time to nurture them from spritely little seedlings into big, healthy plants. That means you'll need to water them daily, especially while they're small. And while your little seedlings and transplants will gulp down a ton of H2O, still be mindful not to overwater them.

Once their roots take firm hold in the soil, you can adjust your watering schedule according to your soil, humidity, and how often it rains. If there's one major defiler of gardens, it's weeds. Help keep them out (and water in) with a couple inches of mulch. Any kind of mulch will do, whether you choose pine needles, grass clippings, or bark chips. Got any of your own tips and tricks for starting a personal garden? Let us know in the comments below!

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