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Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids’ Messes While Selling Your Home

Keeping the house together during the selling process is a challenge. Making sure everything is just right for showings and open houses can be exhausting and overwhelming Throw kids into the mix, and things can get downright chaotic. Fortunately, a few small decor choices can help conceal kid clutter—changing your “for sale” sign to “sold.”

Hide in Plain Sight
With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniture’s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether it’s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your home’s cleanliness and open floor space to think about what’s inside.

Hide Within Reach
Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategy—underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your child’s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals what’s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kids’ teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot what’s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage
Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesn’t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks–kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some Style
Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesn’t. Sort into “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away.” This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? You’ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kids’ areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little style. Choose bookcases and desks with useful cubbies and shelves, and dress up the space with vibrant and unique artwork. Inspire imagination in potential buyers (and keep the space useful while your home is on the market) by choosing a few colorful supplies and knick-knacks to display.

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kids’ messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that they’ll want to make their own.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

New Chinese Tariffs to Raise Renovation Costs

Renovation demand has been growing as homeowners tap their home equity to make updates and improvements. “This year, the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index (RMI) revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2017, the RMI reached 60 for the second time since 2001,” said HousingWire. “Although the demand for home renovation has continued to increase in 2018, recently imposed tariffs are expected to reduce affordability for homeowners seeking renovations.”

So, could the higher costs associated with renos be enough to slow their roll? To be clear, the first round of new Chinese tariffs took effect on September 24, hitting “about $10 billion worth of Chinese products exclusive to homebuilding and remodeling, according to the National Association of Home Builders,” said CNBC. The tariff is expected to rise “to 25 percent by the end of the year. That would be equivalent to a $2.5 billion tax increase on the industry.”

That’s putting pressure on an industry that has been thriving even under a labor shortage, and that could bend to uncomfortable levels under higher materials costs. In addition, “Clients and contractors are having to set contracts with escalation clauses for projects that are being scheduled for six months from now, largely because we’re not sure how far prices are going to go north,” Washington, D.C.-based contractor Justin Sullivan told CNBC.

So, if you were getting ready to add a bathroom, redo your kitchen, or create a killer outdoor area, should you proceed? That all depends.

“Trump’s trade tariffs will drive up the cost of some home renovations, so you might need to speed up your plans to finish a remodel before the supply chain impact hits you directly,” said GOBankingRates. “On the other hand, some costs are already up, so it might be worth postponing your renovation until prices stabilize.”

Specifically, they recommend moving forward with new kitchens and bathrooms. “If you’ve got a new kitchen or bathroom in mind, don’t wait. The new tariffs aimed at Chinese imports will raise the prices for tile used in bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes, cabinets, wallboards and floorboards, light fixtures, and heating and cooling equipment.”

Popular countertop materials like quartz are especially tenuous, facing a “double whammy,” with the U.S. “imposing import duties on quartz, which an investigation found was being illegally ‘dumped’ into the U.S. by Chinese exporters, capitalizing on subsidies from the Chinese government. Quartz prices are already rising and will likely continue to do so,” they said.

Nonetheless, updated kitchens and bathrooms are among the most-wanted features in a new home, so if you’re renovating to sell now or even a few years into the future, by all means, don’t change those plans. GOBankingRates also recommends moving quickly if you want to “convert a basement or mudroom into a laundry room.”

As for what projects to skip until costs head back down? Adding a room or garage can wait. “Some of the first tariffs President Trump imposed were on Canadian lumber, charging that Canadian companies were being unfairly subsidized by their government,” they said. “Canadian lumber prices have also risen in response to a supply decline due to tree disease and slower transportation. Wait for lumber prices to stabilize before you build a new home, add a room, add a garage, convert a basement into an in-law unit.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Five Tips For The Best Granite Countertops

The interior design industry has been trying for years to break homeowners’ addiction to granite counters. They’ve introduced stainless, concrete, glass, quartz, wood, marble and other ideas to wean people away, but the alternative surfaces just don’t have the luxury look that granite does.

If you’re getting granite counter tops for the first time, here are five things you need to know:

Choose the right stone. Granite is a general term that describes a type of granular igneous rock formed by cooled magma and indigenous minerals. Depending on where the granite is quarried, it can be stunning with streaks of gray, pink, red, green, blue or gold. The rarity of the vein of granite can drive up the price considerably, as well as the thickness and the type of fabrication you choose.

When you shop for granite, don’t choose from a sample. You’re basically buying the whole slab so that’s how you should shop. Look only at whole slabs, as the fabricators will use as much as possible to match sections and to minimize waste. Sometimes it’s possible to buy two or more slabs from the same lot. They are sliced just like pieces of toast so they can accommodate large kitchens. If they’re put back to back, they form butterfly or mirror images of each other.

The beauty of granite is the movement of color and the pattern of streaks and dapples, so choose wisely. A strong graphic pattern will be highly energizing, while a softer color and pattern will be calming.

Hold the Dumb End of the Tape. Granite is sold by the square foot. You can get an idea of the number of square feet you need by multiplying length by width for each section of the kitchen, such as counter tops, back splash, and an island. Then add the square feet of each section together.

But that’s not all there is to measuring. There’s an edge allowance, seam allowance, sinks and other things to consider. You can tell your salesperson how many square feet you think you’ll need, and he or she can direct you to slabs and lots that are large enough to fulfill your order. Once you choose, the salesperson will “hold” the slab with a deposit, until the fabricator can come out to measure exactly.

Meanwhile, your cabinets should be installed before the fabricator comes out. Most appliances fit under the countertops, but if you’re installing a new sink or cooktop, the fabricator will need those measurements, too. Let the fabricator take the measurements. That way the fit is guaranteed.

Be aware of slab thickness. Not all granite slabs are sliced the same, so expect to pay more for a three-inch thickness than a one-inch thickness. If you choose a thick granite, make sure your cabinets can support that much weight.

Next, you’ll choose an edge that is bullnose, ogee or beveled, or raw-edged. The finish can also change the look of the granite. Polished granite is glossy and reflective. Honed granite is a smooth matte finish. Leather is a textured finish.

Ask for as few seams as possible. If you’re doing a large area like a kitchen, you want to use as few seams as possible so that the flow of the granite pattern and color is less interrupted. A seamless slab in a kitchen looks beautiful and holds more value than seamed pieces because it’s like a work of art. Ask the fabricator if any parts of the job can be done without a seam. Sometimes it’s very possible, depending on the design of your kitchen.

To save money, you can choose granite tiles, which is like a tile, so there will be no seams, but they add little value to your home. You can also order from scraps the dealer may have leftover from other jobs, but they’re only be suitable for small jobs where you don’t have to match another granite, such as a powder bath or laundry.

Granite requires care. Granite is fairly heat-resistant and easy to clean, but you should keep in mind that it’s also porous. It can crack, chip, stain and show scratches.

Don’t put hot pans directly on the surface; use a trivet or hot pad. Use only granite-safe cleansers. Don’t use bleach, ammonia products, scouring pads, or anything acidic such as lemon or vinegar to clean. Don’t use dish soap to clean as it can leave a dulling film on the surface. Spills of wine, juice and tomato sauce should be cleaned up quickly.

Some finishes such as polish act as more of a seal, but you can also purchase granite sealers at your local market. Just wipe it on once a year or so to keep your countertops looking their best.

If you’re wondering whether your countertop needs sealing, spill some clean water or the surface and cover it with a paper towel. If it leaves a stain, it will go away eventually, but you’ll know it’s time for sealant.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Ideas for Saving Energy with Your Smart Home

You may feel safe inside on a hot, smoggy day, but hidden dangers could be damaging your health right in your own home. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollution. Poorly ventilated dwellings, smoking around the home and fine particles can all negatively impact your health.

Although you can try to improve your home’s health by regularly changing filters and opening the windows to let in some fresh air, you need some smart home technology to help save energy. That will ultimately help you go green by cutting down on your energy consumption. As an added benefit, saving energy can also trim your energy bills and save some money in the process. Get started with these five smart home ideas for saving energy.

Control Your Smart Home Automation

Before you start your smart home journey, look at how you can control the automation process from the start. For example, smart appliances can help reduce your energy consumption, but you need a way to control everything from turning your lights on and off to adjusting your thermostat.

Automation can be controlled right from your smartphone or tablet. It’s also best to get a smartphone that works in tandem with a reliable network for controlling your home remotely while you’re on the go. For example, a phone like a Samsung Galaxy Note8 or iPhone 7 Plus can leverage apps like Wiser EMS or Nest Mobile. Just about every smart home product on the market comes with an app to manage from your smartphone or tablet so you can improve your energy efficiency whether you’re at work or on vacation.

Use Smart Climate Control

You can go beyond controlling the temperature of your home and actually control its entire indoor climate. The Nest thermostat doesn’t need to be programmed, and instead learns your habits and adapts the climate of your home to your life. The Nest can automatically adjust itself based on your lifestyle, the time you come and go on a regular basis, and when the season changes. You can even control the individual temperatures of specific rooms so your energy efficiency remains high.

After using Nest for a week, it can program itself and significantly reduce your energy consumption so you’re saving more on your electric bill. You’ll also get an alert from Nest to your smartphone app if something is wrong like the temperature is dropping low enough to make your pipes burst or the furnace is acting up.

Switch to Purifying Floors

You may already know that your home contains pollutants based on poor air quality and ventilation. But the materials your home was built with, or even its furnishings, can continuously emit toxic contaminants including formaldehyde.

Pure Genius flooring is made without solvents, volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde. It also uses light-activated and air-purifying agents made of titanium dioxide in its Titanium floor finish line. You can ultimately help purify your air, and reduce the energy needed to run fans and ventilating systems to freshen up your home. Another option for floors with an eye on energy efficiency is radiant floors with embedded tubing inside concrete to improve more efficient heating and cooling.

Update Your Appliances

You may have heard of energy-efficient appliances already, but may not have heard about smart home appliances that can save both energy and time. Smart appliances allow you to remotely program your washer or dryer to operate in the middle of the night to reduce the strain on the electrical grid. Meanwhile, an energy-efficient smart fridge like LG’s smart fridge can tell you that you’re out of milk and save you energy at the same time.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

New Advances In Technology Make Going Green A Breeze

Did you know that an automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand, which equals an average of six gallons less per cycle, or more than 2,000 gallons per year? Considering that an individual American uses about 2,000 gallons of water per month, that’s a pretty significant number.

The idea of “going green” has come a long way in recent decades. In the 1950s, some kinds of energy efficiency weren’t really a choice. From drying your clothes on a clothesline, to cutting your grass with a mechanical push mower, people often lived green without ever consciously considering their carbon footprint. These days, the story is a little different; you can’t turn a corner or pick something up without seeing some kind of “save the earth” signage or packaging.

Reasons to Go Green

There are a plethora of reasons to go green, most falling into either the money-saving or the earth-saving categories. On one hand, you could seriously put some green back into your wallet with things like energy-efficient appliances, and green building tax credits and rebates. Also, simple things like carpooling, limiting eating out, and starting your own vegetable garden are great ways to save money and help the environment.

On the other hand, eco-friendliness means making your community and the planet a better place to live not only for us, but also for future generations. Examples of things you can do in your home are unplugging unused electronics to prevent “phantom” energy consumption, switching to LED light bulbs, conserving water by taking shorter showers, and using reusable items like Tupperware and canvas shopping bags rather than plastic.

Home Automation Technology

New advances in technology are taking much of the guesswork out of going green. With home automation systems like the Wink Hub and free app, you can control the settings on many of your home devices with the push of a smartphone button or even just with your voice. The Wink ecosystem interconnects all of your smart home devices either first through the Hub, or directly to the app. Wink’s simplicity is one of its most attractive features: according to Home Depot technology professional and Wink test user, Ramesh Chaparala, “It’s very, very simple and self-explanatory,” continuing, “Installing the Hub is a no-brainer; in five steps you’re connected.”

What Can You Control?

With the Wink home automation ecosystem, you no longer have to “set it and forget it” when it comes to your home devices. You can control many of your smart devices from your couch, bed, work, or anywhere you are in the world. Here are just a handful of devices you can install in your home that will not only bring you into the 21st century, but also make your home a smoothly running, highly efficient machine.

Smart Thermostats

Thermostats are a great way to control your home’s energy consumption, and when you apply smart technology, you can control it from anywhere. One Wink App Ready device is the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which not only adjusts to your schedule, uses automatic energy-saving settings, and Smart Response technology for precise temps, but also has a full-color, customizable screen to match your decorating scheme. You can be sure your home is aesthetically pleasing and at your exact desired temperature at all times.

Custom Window Shades

Motorized window shades allow for a clean, uncluttered look, are safer for pets and children with cordless technology, and help insulate your home with the setting of a timer or the push of a button. One quality option, Bali Custom Blinds and Shades with Somfy® automation & controls, utilizes a single control, wall switch, remote or programmable timer to operate single or multiple window coverings. Keep the shades drawn during summer to keep your home naturally cool, or leave them open in cooler months to let the sunshine warm your space.

Remote-Access LED Lights

Huge energy and money savings start by simply swapping out incandescent and even compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home for LED bulbs. LED solutions outlast incandescent and halogen bulbs up to 35 to 1, consume 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and emit less heat, which altogether drastically reduces replacing costs and landfill waste. Once you’ve decided to install LEDs, take it to the next level by installing smart light bulbs, like the TCP Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Kit with (2) A19 LED light bulbs. With this kit, you can remotely control lighting, dimming and smart lighting features from anywhere in the world with any computer, tablet, smart phone, or connected remote control. They have an estimated yearly cost of $1.32 and a life expectancy of 22.8 years (both figures based on three hours of use a day.)

Home Automation Technology is an Environmental No-Brainer

When it comes to eco-friendly new gadgets, it’s clear that home automation takes the cake. Having nearly complete control of your energy-consuming home devices right at your fingertips is certainly a big step forward for earth-conscious homeowners. In addition to these devices, several other smart green products are energy sensors, HVAC systems, irrigation systems, and outlet controls.

Which environmentally friendly automated devices will you install in your home?

Best New Security Tips To Keep Your Home Safe While You’re On Vacation

Nothing kills your vacation buzz like getting a call from the police back home letting you know your home has been burglarized. Basic home security tips are great, but safety measures are continually evolving, with new and more refined ways to keep you and your home safe.

Vary your inside lights

“There are differing opinions on whether or not you should leave your lights on the entire time you’re on vacation,” said A Secure Life. “If you leave your lights on the whole time you’re gone, it wastes a lot of electricity and raises your electric bill. Also, having lights on 24/7 can look just as suspicious as having them off. Electronic timers may be helpful. The danger here is that if someone was really intent on robbing you, they will likely be watching the house for a period of time. If they notice that the lights go on at exactly 7:05pm and off at exactly 10:35pm each night, it would not take a genius to figure out they are on a timer.”

The answer: A project like Caséta. “Scheduling lights to turn on at varying times is a great way to deter burglars, and the Caséta Wireless kit lets you control the lights in your home from anywhere through the Lutron Electronics app,” said USA Today 10 Best. “Its new Smart Away feature randomly turns lights on and off between 6pm and 11pm to make your home look lived in – even when you’re on vacation. Caséta Wireless also ensures you never have to walk into a dark house again – or get out of bed to turn off the lights.”

Hold your mail – even if you’re only going away for a weekend

Mail theft is up, and consequently, so is identity theft. “According to a US Postal Service official, mail theft is on the rise, with the objective of getting access to financial information to exploit for personal gain,” said ABC 10. Asking your neighbors to get your mail is great, but what if they don’t get to it right away? You don’t want thieves putting a plan of credit card fraud into action while you’re getting a massage.

Hire a dog sitter

You may think you have thought of everything when it comes to protecting your home on vacation. But if your dogs are also taking a little vacation at your fave boarding spot while you’re away, you might be removing one of the top obstacles to home break-ins: a barking dog. Nextdoor and Rover are great places to find a qualified dog sitter who can stay with your pooches and watch your house at the same time, and, often, it will cost you less than boarding, especially if you have more than one dog.

Watch the doggy door

If you do board your dogs, be sure to lock up your doggy door while you’re gone. Depending on the size of your dogs, humans might be able to enter your home while slithering through. If the doggy door is in plain sight and can be viewed from the street, even with the cover on (which may keep your dog from going in and out but may not keep a thief out), you may want to consider placing a chair or large plant in front of it.

Get rid of spare keys

Have a key hidden under the mat or in the planter next to the front door? Security experts will advise you this is dangerous on any given day with thieves looking for an easy way in. But, especially, when you’re out of town, a poorly hidden key is an invitation for unlawful entry. Instead, leave a house key with a trusted neighbor for emergencies.

Lock your gates

If someone can get into your backyard, they have an easier entry into your home since they’re more likely to be out of sight. If you regularly keep the gate unlocked to give access to gardeners or other family members, consider locking it while you’re away. Forgoing landscaping in your back yard for a week won’t hurt, and the extra security measure will help you feel at ease.

Cancel automatic deliveries

You may think about your mail, and even halting your newspaper delivery, while you’re enjoying your relaxing beach getaway, but have you forgotten anything? If you get regular deliveries – coffee, office supplies, diapers – be sure to call and cancel for the the time you’re gone. Packages piling up at your front door can invite theft – of your home, and the stuff you ordered.

Wipe away your fingerprints

Have a front door lock that uses a code instead of a key? They’re great for minimizing the likelihood that someone will be locked out. But, there have been recent cases in which crooks used fingerprint patterns on the touchpad to determine the code and break in. Get into a habit of wiping the keypad down every day to minimize the risk.

Get a security system

Nothing new about this, but a security system continues to be the No. 1 deterrent to break-ins, so it bears mentioning. PC Mag’s featured smart security system is Vivint Smart Home, which costs just $49. “Bottom Line: The Vivint Smart Home system offers 24/7 security monitoring and remote control of your door locks, cameras, heating system, and features the best video doorbell solution we’ve tested,” they said.

Get a security camera

In lieu of, or in addition to, a security system. Security cameras can give you piece of mind. PC Mag recommends two starter models: The iControl Networks Piper nv or the Nest Cam Outdoor. “These cameras have built-in sensors that track motion, and will send push notifications when movement is detected (the Piper nv will also send notifications when humidity and temperature thresholds are exceeded),” they said. “Both are solid, cost-saving alternatives to full-on security systems.”

Increase your protection against disasters

Protection from thieves isn’t all you have to worry about when you’re away. Nest Protect helps ward off potentially catastrophic fires and toxins. “This smoke and carbon monoxide alarm looks for fast-burning fires, smoldering fires and invisible-but-deadly carbon monoxide,” said USA Today 10 Best. “It speaks to you, letting you know what and where the danger is, and will message your phone if you’re not home. It can also be silenced from your smartphone so if you simply overcooked your dinner, you don’t have to go climbing to turn it off. Nest Protect tests its sensors and batteries 400 times a day and will notify you when the battery is running low rather than beep all night until you can get a ladder to replace it.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Easy Ways to Make Your Patio Look Great This Summer

Summer is the perfect time of year to be outside with family and friends. The cold weather, snow and rain are gone, and you see bright, sunny days ahead of you. If you’re getting ready for a season full of pool parties and barbecues, here’s everything you need to make your patio look great:

Update Your Furniture

It’s a new season with new trends, so you might be in the market for new patio furniture, or your old furniture just needs some updating. Chances are your cushions and pillows are looking faded, worn out and tattered from last year, so replace them with new cushions or fabric covers to match the rest of your decor. Don’t be afraid to go with bold and bright colors or big designs because they won’t dominate the area since it’s an open space.

You also need enough furniture and seating to fit your family and friends. Get a large round table or a long rectangular table for your guests to eat, snack and set down their drinks. Add extra chairs or a love seat around your table so you can add more people than your immediate family when you host a party. Go for items that are easy to clean so dust, dirt and spills don’t permanently ruin your furniture.

Make Some Shade

The summer sun can be intense, so you need shady areas to give yourself and your guests a break. Get a table with an umbrella in the middle to provide some shade while you’re eating dinner on the patio. Or add an umbrella on the top step of your pool or behind lounge chairs to stay cool.

If you want a larger shady area, set up a pavilion with a canopy roof in a section of your yard. Add chairs, side tables and a reading area underneath. You also can build a pergola and cover the top and sides with growing vines or climbing plants. This will add some color and nature to your patio as well as provide you with shade.

Light It Up

Transform your patio into a summer wonderland by lighting it up at night. Once the sun goes down and the temperature drops, you’ll want to relax on your patio with a nice cocktail or dessert with a lovely glow around you. For a touch of glamour, install an outdoor chandelier or light fixture over your patio table and chairs. String up hanging lights from the roof and side of your pergola to light up your ivy or plants. Put a few candles in translucent vases on side tables surrounding your other furniture or in the middle of your table. This is a great place for you to include some of your accent colors and add a delicate touch to sometimes bulky furniture.

Make It Party Ready

Now that you have the necessities, it’s time to get to the fun part. You want people to see your beautiful summer patio, so give them an excuse to come over for a party. Set up a grill, cooler for drinks and counter space to prepare and display your summertime treats. If it tends to get cool at night, get a table with a fire pit in the middle or build your own fire pit where you can roast s’mores and tell ghost stories. You also should invest in some lawn games and board games that you can play well into the night.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

5 Ways To Increase The Value Of Your Rental Property

When you hold property as a rental investment, it’s only natural to want the value of your investment to increase. While the real estate market plays a role in the value of your properties, you can take matters into your own hands with home improvements that add value.

Five great ways to boost the valuation of your rental property and how to make these improvements.

Replace old bathroom fixtures. Bathroom upgrades deliver immediate impact and value. Replace outdated sinks and toilets with low-flow models that feature new hardware. You’ll save on water bills and instantly improve your apartment’s valuation. When replacing bathroom fixtures, hire a professional plumber to do the work.

Renew kitchen countertops. Even a minor kitchen upgrade will retain roughly 80 percent of its value five to 10 years down the road, which is great news for property owners who want to make money now and sell for a profit in a few years. Replacing cheap laminate countertops with wood, granite, cement or engineered stone is a great place to start when renovating an old kitchen. Hire a countertop installer for this task.

Dump old carpet and linoleum for high-end flooring. If your rentals have linoleum and wall-to-wall carpeting, this screams cheap and ugly to renters looking for a new home. Increase your apartment’s appeal and valuation by upgrading your flooring. Natural materials like wood or stone are favorites. These materials are durable, easy to clean and hold their value once installed.

Update lighting and appliances. Adding new fixtures and appliances can brighten the apartment, increase energy efficiency and give an old unit new life. If you have pre-1990 lighting, replace it to slash energy expenses and make the apartment look more modern. Always have lighting installed by a licensed electrician.

If you have old appliances — anything from a dishwasher to a hot water heater — swapping them for sleek, stainless steel, energy-efficient models will boost your return on investment and slash your overhead. Order new appliances during seasonal sales to get the lowest price. Many stores take away your old appliance for free when they install the new ones for you, reducing your overhead.

Increase storage. Storage is a top priority for renters. Whether you add a basement storage cubby, place a shed in the backyard, add open shelving in the bathroom, or put hooks by the front door, you’ll help renters make the most of the space. You can keep things cheap and easy by using hooks and shelves you can hang yourself, or hire someone for more sophisticated storage upgrades.

Tips for Property Owners Who Want to Improve Rental Investment Value

Plan smartly by making home improvements in between tenants. Time your repairs so the unit’s ready when demand peaks in your area. This way, you can rent out the renovated unit quickly and command a competitive price. In turn, immediately starting to recoup the money spent on repairs through the higher rental property valuation and new market-rate rent.

Making Your Home More Energy-Efficient

Your home is your place to rest, play, and spend time with your family. It should be a place of comfort, and this comfort need not come at a high cost. Many homes, however, waste a lot of energy in ways that can be prevented. Here are five ways to make your home more energy-efficient.

Replace or Weatherize All Windows

Windows are one of the biggest sources of heat gain and heat loss in a home. Both heat gain and heat loss rob you of comfort and keep your energy bills higher than they have to be, whether during the summer or winter months.

Windows rank high on the list because of air leakage around the frame and the heat that transfers through windowpanes. Old single-pane windows provide little protection against heat transference. If you replace these windows with energy-efficient windows you should see immediate savings and improved climate control in your home.

When choosing windows, consider the frame and not just glass. Frame material and frame design matters. Hinged windows allow less air leakage than sliding, single-hung or double-hung do. Avoid metal because these conduct heat. Choose insulated vinyl frames or insulated fiberglass frames for the most efficiency and durability.

Pay attention to glass efficiency ratings such as the U-factor and the solar heat gain coefficient. The right windows to choose depend largely upon regional climate. If you live in an area with hot summers and mild winters, you want glass that blocks out as much solar heat gain as possible.

Low-emissivity coatings on windowpanes reduce heat conduction through the glass, which benefits you by keeping hot air inside in winter and hot air outside in summer. There are other coatings and tints available, but you should still look for the Energy Star label. Only products that have met strict requirements by the EPA qualify for this special certification.

Seal the Home’s Thermal Envelope

Air leakage through your home’s exterior is another source of energy waste. Air infiltration makes your heating and cooling system work harder to maintain climate control. In order to find all of the hidden leaks, schedule an energy audit with an HVAC company. Until you do, seal the noticeable leaks. These can usually be found in the following areas:

  • Around window frames and doors
  • Beneath baseboards
  • Around flues and chimneys

When sealing leaks in most areas, you can use caulk, weather-stripping or expandable spray foam insulation. Another method to control air leaks is to replace poorly fitting doors or other features and to use hardware with a type that creates a better seal. One example is barn door hardware. This kind of hardware can create a better air seal in some cases because the door slides into place instead of swinging open. This creates fewer opportunities for gaps between the door and the frame.

Upgrade Your Home HVAC System

If your home’s HVAC system is older than ten years, consider replacing it with a new energy-efficient system that is Energy Star certified. Improvements in design make these systems far more energy-efficient than any in the past. If they are sized correctly and installed correctly, you should see lower bills and improved comfort and improved air quality.

Upgrade Insulation

Most homes have only the minimum required insulation. Older homes might even fall far short of the minimum simply because the insulation has become too wet, or it has become compressed or it has shifted.

Adding insulation to the attic will have the largest effects. It doesn’t matter which kind of insulation you use as much as it matters that it is properly installed, with no gaps, and that you use the recommended quantity for your region.

Adding insulation to exterior walls doesn’t have to be a big remodeling project. Much of the time, it can be blown into walls by a contractor.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

These thermostats make a home more energy efficient in the following ways:

  • You won’t have to remember to set the temperature lower or higher before you run out of the house each the morning, because you can program the thermostat to do it for you each day.
  • You can program different energy-saving temperature settings for special occasions, such as vacations, and you can still come home to a comfortable house.
  • Some new thermostats even allow you to check them remotely, sparing you from worrying about whether the home is getting too hot or cold while you are away.

By implementing these ideas, you have little to lose and a lot to gain in terms of comfort and savings. If it feels overwhelming or it is hard on your budget to make all of these changes at once, try to do them in steps. Each time you take even one step towards more energy efficiency, you will start saving money on energy bills.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

10 Totally Free Tips For Getting Your Home Sold Quickly

Staging your home is a critical step in getting it sold, but all the recommended updates and upgrades can get pricey. Thankfully, there are tricks you can use to make your home look bigger, better, and brighter, without spending a dime.

1. Fix up your floors

Don’t want to pay to replace or refinish your floors? No prob. Grab a brown crayon to fill in divots. A one-to-one mix of olive oil and vinegar rubbed directly on scratched areas will also help make it look new. You can also use canola if you don’t have olive, but then use a one-part vinegar, three-part oil mixture. Or, try this hack that uses walnuts to fix scratches. No, seriously.

Floors look great but don’t sound so hot? “Fix creaky wood floors with a generous dusting of baby powder,” said One Crazy House. “Work it into the cracks until the floor is no longer noisy.”

2. Make it sparkle

Presumably, you already have cleaning supplies, sponges, and paper towels in the house. Now all you need is some elbow grease to make your home look shiny and new.

When selling your home, you need to take the cleaning beyond your typical weekly run-through. Think “Spring cleaning” turned up a notch or two. Remember that potential buyers will be looking everywhere, including inside drawers and cabinets. Make sure they’re crumb-free and well organized. They may also open your refrigerator. While this can seem intrusive, you don’t want to give them a reason to walk away, so make sure to tidy up the inside, wipe up any spills, throw away rotten food, and put a nice big box of Baking Soda in there to absorb any leftover smells.

3. Let the light in

Everyone is looking for “natural light,” so show off what you’ve got by opening up those blinds and drapes. Did you just reveal a bunch of dirty windows and sills? Ewww. Grab that cleaning spray and make them shine. An old toothbrush is a great way to get gunk out of corners and in window tracks.

If your place isn’t light and bright, even with all the blinds and drapes drawn, you’ll need to depend on artificial lighting. This is no time to have lightbulbs out. Go hit that stash in your laundry room cabinet and switch out for fresh bulbs.

4. Declutter

Home stagers will tell you there is no more important step when preparing your home for sale. “If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story,” said Houzz. “It’s not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative’s garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble.”

Do a walk-through with an outsider’s eye, or ask a friend or family member to help since they’ll be more objective. Anything that isn’t used regularly or is taking away from the open feel of the house can be packed away. Small appliances and anything else hanging out on countertops can be put in a cabinet if you’re not ready to stick it in a box. You want people to see the bones of the house, not your blender.

5. Depersonalize

While, you’re decluttering, keep personalization in mind. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and they might not be able to do so if they can’t take their eyes off your wall of taxidermy.

6. Create closet space

Even if you have the world’s largest walk-in closet in the master bedroom, you can give buyers the impression that there isn’t enough space by overfilling it. Stagers recommend taking half of your clothes and shoes out and packing them away to create some airiness. Does the idea of packing up your stuff freak you out? You’re going to have to do it when you move, anyway. This is just giving you a head start.

7. Remove the stink

Does your home greet guests with a big whiff of cat box? Potential home buyers might just turn right back around and get in the car. You also want to make sure your animals aren’t irritating those who are touring or impeding them from entering certain rooms. Don’t want to board them? Surely you have a friend or family member who’d love to watch your pets during showings, right?

8. Pull those weeds

You really can’t overestimate the importance of curb appeal today. Even if you don’t want to spring for a few bags of mulch and some colorful flowers to frame your door, there are easy and free steps you can take to give buyers a great first impression. Dispose of any visible weeds, leaves, and other unwanted stuff hanging out in the yard. Give your bushes a trim and mow the yard. If you can’t power wash your home, at least wash the outside of the exterior windows that are within eye level.

And don’t forget about the area closest to your front door. Sweep that stoop and make sure your welcome mat is actually welcoming, instead of dusty and dirty.

9. Address your furniture

Some of the most common problems in homes when it comes to furniture: 1) It’s ugly; 2) It’s old; There’s too much of it; The arrangement is uninviting. Ugly and old might be hard to overcome when you’re trying not to spend money, but the rest you can do something about.

“Sometimes when sellers are trying to make a small room seem like it’s more spacious, they have a tendency to push all of their furniture against the walls to leave a big open space in the middle. This type of arrangement may leave a lot of open space, but ultimately leaves the interior design looking unfinished — a big turn off for buyers. In this situation, it’s better to create furniture groupings. First, envision the way the space should be used,” said Freshome. “Do you have a huge flatscreen TV that requires a lot of seating? Is there a corner in your living room that would serve perfectly as a reading nook? Group the furniture in ways that would make sense for the intended use. Then, make sure that there are clean and direct pathways through the room. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home and one of the quickest ways to do that is by creating a cozy seating area that’s fit for conversation.”

If the problem is that you’ve created a crowded space by using too much furniture, ditch a few pieces in a friend’s garage for the time being (or, even better, donate them!) to create an intimate seating area. You can always bring those pieces back into your new home.

10. Borrow stuff

If, at the end of the day, your home still isn’t looking show-ready, maybe it’s time to raid a friend’s house. Have a loved one who has an extra couch that’s more neutral than yours or a couple of great accessories? It’s time to test their love for you.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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