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How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

Allergies are extremely common in America with millions of Americans suffering from symptoms.

The most common household allergies are seasonal, which run from February to early summer, and animal allergies which can pose a risk at any time.

There are some ways you can limit some of the allergens in your home, whether you want to make your house more allergy-proof for yourself and family or your guests.

Seasonal allergies

There are a number of plant pollen and mold allergies that are common throughout the United States. During pollen season, especially on dry, windy days, these pollens are spread everywhere.

Many people who experience seasonal allergies watch local pollen levels in their area to prepare themselves for peak days when they are most likely to experience symptoms. During these times, it’s best to keep doors and windows completely shut. This includes your home, garage, and vehicle.

To clean up after times of high pollen levels, it’s a good idea to first vacuum and then use a damp cloth to dust household surfaces. The moisture will trap pollens and prevent them from escaping back into the air.

When it comes to mold, there are a number of preventative measures you can take in your home. The most important thing you can do is avoid excess moisture in your home. You can do this by using a dehumidifier, monitoring water pipes, and cleaning spills and leaks immediately after they happen.

Animal allergies

Pet owners love their pets. But the pet dander that comes with them is a leading cause of allergies. To help mitigate pet allergies in your home, focus on the areas where your pets spend the most time. If your pet sleeps on your bed or has their own bed, wash the bed linens frequently.

Since most pets spend their days inside your home, roaming the floors, it’s important to vacuum frequently with a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner. High-efficiency machines that are sealed properly and use effective filters are much better at reducing the amount of dust that escapes during vacuuming and when you empty the vacuum itself.

Air filters

The filter on your vacuum isn’t the only one necessary for reducing allergy-causing particles in your home. Heating and ventilation systems also come with air filters that need to be cleaned or replaced.

When replacing your filter, look for one that is HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) certified to remove the most allergens possible.

Don’t forget the backyard

Since many allergies are carried in on the wind and shoes entering your home from the outside, it’s important to understand which allergens you might be growing in your backyard. Some trees, grasses, and plants cause higher levels of allergies and are more likely to cause symptoms to you and your guests.

Even the most common trees like pine and maple can be problematic for some people, so it’s important to know what you’re allergic to and whether you should take steps to landscape away some of those allergens.

Selling a Home in Spring? What You Need to Know

For many people, spring represents a season of transformation. As such, spring often is a popular time to sell a residence, which means that a home seller likely will face lots of competition in the spring housing market.

Ultimately, how a home seller approaches the spring real estate market may dictate his or her success. Home sellers who allocate the necessary time and resources to prep for the spring housing market should have no trouble improving their properties and finding plenty of interested homebuyers. On the other hand, home sellers who lack the skills and know-how to get their residences ready for the spring home selling market may struggle.

What can you do to prep your home for spring? Here are three spring home selling tips that you need to know:

1. Enhance Your Home’s Interior

Spring cleaning offers a great opportunity to transform an ordinary home interior into a stellar one. And if you focus on revamping your home’s interior, you can boost your house’s chances of making a positive first impression on homebuyers.

Remember, how homebuyers feel the instant they walk through your home’s front door may impact your ability to sell your house. If homebuyers like what they see, they may move one step closer to submitting an offer on your home. Conversely, if homebuyers encounter a messy home interior, they may move on from your house and consider other properties.

When it comes to enhancing your home’s interior, there is no shortage of options at your disposal. From wiping down the walls and ceilings to polishing the wood floors, you can bolster your home’s interior in many ways. By doing so, you may be able to increase your chances of generating substantial interest in your residence as soon as it becomes available.

2. Boost Your House’s Curb Appeal

This spring, mow the front lawn, trim the hedges and clear the walkways outside your home – you’ll be glad you did.

Many homebuyers may drive past your residence to get an up-close look at it. After a homebuyer sees a freshly cut lawn and clean home exterior, he or she may be more inclined than ever before to set up a home showing.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent understands what it takes to list a property in spring. Thus, this real estate professional will work with you throughout the home selling process and help you can get the best results possible.

With a real estate agent at your side, you’ll be able to promote your house to the right homebuyers. Your real estate agent will set up open houses and home showings, keep you informed about any offers on your residence and negotiate with homebuyers on your behalf. Plus, your real estate agent will answer your home selling concerns and questions and ensure that you can make informed decisions as the home selling cycle progresses.

Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can streamline the process of selling your house in spring.

How To Buy A House Out Of State

If you live in one state, but are trying to buy a home in another state, you’ll face some obvious challenges. There’s certain steps that you can take to help you get through the home buying process in another state. Whether you’re buying a vacation home, or are in a complete transition, you’ll need to follow a few steps to make life easier for you. 

Know How Much Time You Have

First, you’ll need to ask yourself when you’re planning to move. If you have flexibility and are planning a trip to the new state before you need to move, that paints a much different picture than a more rushed move. Consider:

  • The time it will take to sell your current home
  • When the closing will be on the new home

Keep that timeline in mind.

You’ll definitely want to hire a realtor to handle everything for you on both ends when you’re in this situation. A Realtor’s knowledge and experience is definitely worth it to help you.

Get Your Finances In Order

You’ll need to apply for a loan on the home you’re buying in the new state. You should start by getting pre-approved for a mortgage in that state. You don’t want all of your important paperwork to be buried in the midst of packing and moving. Also, you’ll need to have that loan secured before you even head to the new state to close on the home. Everything should be in order. This situation may be more challenging for you than a typical home purchase. Since big purchases affect your credit score, you’ll need to hold off on buying a car, furniture, or any major appliances that you may need. 

Get As Much Information As You Can

As a buyer who is from out of state, you’ll need to do your homework. Maybe you have visited the state many times before. Perhaps you know nothing about it. The more you know ahead of time, the easier that your transition will be. You’ll need to find recommendations about which neighborhood to search in. You’ll also want to learn a bit more about the lifestyle the area provides for activities like dining, entertainment, and recreation. You can learn a lot in the internet, but talking to locals- even a local realtor- can help you to find the right spot to live in. 

Find The Right Realtors

You’ll need to find the right realtors in both your home state and the state that you’re moving to. The seller’s agent will assist you in getting your old home sold. From marketing the listing to home showings to sending you all of the paperwork that you’ll need to sign, a seller’s agent is very valuable to someone who needs to move out of one state and into another. 

The buyer’s agent can help you in your new state, communicating with you on new listings and advising you on the neighborhoods that you’ll be the most happy in. Hiring these two realtors may be one of the most important steps in your feat of moving across two different states.

With the resources that are available online, moving from state-to-state isn’t as hard as it may seem. Do your research for a smooth transition. Happy moving!

Upgrades You Can Make To Your Home This Winter

You may not think of winter as time for you to make major improvements to your home, but think again. Small upgrades that you complete inside of your home can make a big difference. Even if you’re not completing major construction projects inside of your home, the upgrades and projects that you can complete in winter are certainly a big help to your living space.  

Kitchen

There’s many different things that you can do in your kitchen over the winter months. This includes adding new counters and cabinet spaces. If you keep looking around your kitchen, wondering what’s missing, it could be that it needs some updating. Replacing your cabinets and/or countertops can seem like a big project but at then end of the day, you’ll be glad you did it. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the near future this can be a ver beneficial project as well. The first place most homebuyers look is the kitchen and the bathroom!

Living Space

In the living room, an easy upgrade during the winter months is to update your flooring. There’s so many simple DIY options for flooring that you can easily make this small upgrade that will make a big impact on your home. Another simple upgrade for the living room is changing out your window treatments. You can create your own curtains out of inexpensive material like bedsheets, or simply head out and buy some new window treatments for a much needed change. As a bonus, you may even want to pick up the energy saver kind of curtains which keep heat in the house instead of letting it escape through the cracks of your windows. 

Bathroom

The bathroom is a room that has so much potential. You can swap out your medicine cabinet to add a whole new look to the room. If you’re short on storage in the bathroom, you can easily add an over-the-toilet shelving unit or place baskets around the room in order to store what you need. 

Bedroom

In your bedroom, you can reduce clutter by adding display shelving and storage shelving. Especially in children’s rooms, you can update by giving them places to display their collectibles instead of using their toy box that they have outgrown. Adding shelves or a shelving unit to the bedroom is very budget friendly. You can get floor to ceiling shelving units for a great price. 

Dining Area

Your dining room is another room where simple changes can make a big difference this winter. Install a new lighting fixture in the room. If you want to go more formal, find a chandelier. If you’d like to add a few hanging pendant lights, you’ll be able to complete that project in a day’s time. For an even simpler renovation to your dining room, go shopping for a new dining table. That’s the focal point of the room and can change its entire appearance.

Stay Fit at Home This Winter

Losing and keeping weight off is challenging enough. Winter can make it harder to stay trim. Indoor warmth, shortened days and lower energy levels can make lounging on the sofa with a good book nearly too tempting to pass up. Depending on what’s in your home, winter habits could also find you snacking more, spiking your calorie intake.

This winter set a goal to get and stay fit right at home

This year,don’t give into those temptations. Write down exercises that you will do at home before you head to work or school. You don’t need to splurge on expensive home exercise equipment. Jump rope, push ups and body shaping exercises like squats are exercises that you can do at home.

You can also climb stairs, work out with balance balls and lift weights. Jogging in place is another exercise that doesn’t require special equipment. Work out until you get your heart rate up. A good test that you’ve done that is to exercise until you start to sweat.

Although it’s not necessary, if you live in a city that has long winters, months of cold weather, buying home exercise equipment may be a good option. Shoot for treadmills that fold into closets or fold against a wall. Exercise bikes and rowing machines are other home exercise equipment that makes starting and maintaining a regular winter fitness regimen easy.

Place treadmills, bikes and rowing machines in the basement. if your house doesn’t have a basement, place the equipment on hardwood floors. Running on a treadmill, rowing or riding a bike for an hour a day can wear away your carpeting.

Mood and shorter sunlight can impact weight

To keep from gaining winter weight, sit down and relax for at least 15 minutes every single day. Easy ways to do this include meditating for 15 minutes, soaking in a relaxing bubble bath and listening to your favorite soft music. Jazz, soft R&B, light rock or orchestra perhaps?

Journaling also helps to reduce or eliminate stress. Despite it being cold outside, get outdoors in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes, if possible. Natural sunlight is a great mood booster. If you can’t get outdoors, try using a full spectrum lamp. Also, open window treatments like blinds and drapes during winter.

Spend time with family and friends. Steer clear of making excuses as to why you can’t join friends, relatives and colleagues at fun events and socials. This could keep you from eating and drinking to feel full or satisfied when what you really want is to connect with someone you trust.

To track your fitness, whether you’re at home or out with friends, wear a fitness watch.They’re stylish. You can also track the quality of your sleep with a fitness watch.

Cold, snowy weather can limit your outdoor exercise routine. Even if you want to go for an early morning jog or bike ride, slick roadways might prevent you. Cold air knifing your lungs is another winter turn off. If you’re not careful, you could pack on 10 or more pounds before spring starts. Move your exercise routine indoors and watch your stress levels to avoid snacking to try to lift your mood.

Shovel Snow Safely

Snow Removal Tips

Snow removal is one of the winter’s most arduous tasks. While snow is beautiful, provides much need moisture and refreshes the landscape, snow is also an inconvenience to many folks who awake to find a foot of fresh snow blanketing their driveway. Unfortunately, the weatherman can’t schedule the storm to accommodate your busy schedule, and the snow arrives at the most inopportune time.

Plan Ahead

While you can’t avoid the next big snowstorm, you can be prepared. If your busy schedule requires an early morning departure, it is a good idea to check the weather forecast the night before and plan accordingly. If snow is predicted, set an alarm clock to allow adequate time for getting your car started, shoveling snow from the driveway, and slow and safe driving. When the roads are icy and snow packed is not the time to be running late for work and in a rush. Allow extra time and stay safe.

Warm Up

Before heading out to shovel the walkway, make sure to do a few stretching exercises to warm up your muscles to avoid injury. Dress appropriately for the weather in layers, hat, gloves, and waterproof slip-resistant boots. Traction is crucial to prevent slips and falls. If the sun is out, protect eyes with glare blocking sunglasses and don’t forget to protect exposed skin with sunscreen.

Wear bright colored clothing and be aware of your surroundings when shoveling near the street or roadway. An oncoming auto may not be able to stop or control their approach.

Select The Correct Shovel

For light and fluffy snow, use a snow blower. There are different types of snow blowers available for purchase online or at local home and garden supply stores. Do the research and determine the power and capacity you need for the predominant type of snow falls in your area.

For removal of heavy snow and ice consider selecting an ergonomic snow shovel that matches your size and strength. When you use an ergonomic snow shovel, you do not have to bend your back as much.

Using the wrong shovel and trying to remove more snow than your back can comfortably lift promotes strain and injury. If you are a shorter or slender individual, a lightweight shovel with a short handle is a good choice. Make sure that the shovel has the right size of blade to remove snow efficiently without physical strain. An aluminum blade is stronger and more durable than plastic and lighter than steel. However steel is best for removing ice. Choose the lightest weight shovel that will do the job.

When it comes to over doing it physically, it is better to push snow, rather than to try to lift it. A push-type snow shovel with a U-shaped handle works great for walks and driveways where you can push the snow off to the side. Select a push-type snow shovel that is no wider than your narrowest walkway.

Play It Safe

Pace yourself. Don’t overexert yourself; doing so can lead to muscle strain or a heart attack; take a break and stay hydrated.

Understand Your Credit Score

Credit scores are complicated. There are numerous companies who calculate credit reports. What’s more, those companies have different versions of their credit calculators, so any given person can have tens or even hundreds of different credit scores. In this way, credit reports can seem subjective or arbitrary. While that may be true, credit scores can play a role in which credit cards we receive and what loans we get approved for. And now some employers are even running credit checks on their potential new hires. Read on to learn all you need to know about what goes into your credit score.

Who’s FICO?

The industry leader when it comes to credit scores is FICO. They set the standard and started releasing credit scores to lenders in 1989. Since then, however, a number of new names have entered the market like VantageScore and CE score.

How is my score calculated?

Your FICO score is broken down accordingly:

  • 35% – Payment history
  • 30% – Amounts owed (debt)
  • 15% – Length of credit history
  • 10% – Types of credit used
  • 10 % – New credit
  1. Payment history

    The most important aspect of your credit score is repayment history. It includes information on all of your payments (or lack thereof) and whether you were late or on time. It takes into account things like foreclosures, repossessions, and settlements.

  2. Amounts owed (debt)

    This section is complicated by the fact that having debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your credit score. It includes your debt-to-limit ratio, the number of accounts with debt owed, and the total amount of debt across all accounts. If you’re keeping up with payments and not hitting credit limits, this section can work to your advantage. Owning huge amounts and having poor repayment habits will certainly harm your score.

  3. Length of credit history

    Being consistent in paying off your debt over a long period of time can be reflected positively on your credit score. Similarly, if you have a very short credit history, lenders are less likely to approve you for what they see as potentially risky loans. This section also includes the amount of time you’ve had certain accounts and how long it has been since you used those accounts.

  4. Types of credit used

    If you have proven that you have successfully managed multiple types of credit (retail cards, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, etc.) this will reflect positively on your credit score. A lack of credit diversity won’t win you any extra points.

  5. New credit

    Beware of opening several new cards or taking on multiple loans within a short span of time. It will raise red flags to lenders that you are having financial difficulties and are a risky borrower.

Build good credit habits

Credit scores are daunting and we often overlook them if we aren’t in current need of loans. But like maintaining your health, it’s important to take preemptive measures to nurture your credit score. Here are some good habits to build that will save you money and stress in the long run:

  • Check your free credit report annually
  • Set up auto-pay on credit cards and loans and keep an eye on your checking account to make sure it has sufficient funds
  • If you are in financial trouble contact your lenders and ask about your options. Going AWOL is the worst thing you can do on your credit debt
  • Keep credit card balances low and avoid opening several cards within a short period of time
  • Take advantage of free online tools like Credit Karma to calculate your debt repayment

 

Tips For Home Improvement

If you are contemplating remodeling your home, you are likely wondering if doing these projects yourself will really save you a substantial amount of money.

If you are an experienced do-it-yourself homeowner, yes, many home remodeling projects can be done yourself if you have the time available to invest in the project. However, other projects, especially those that affect the structural integrity of the property are best left in the lands of the professionals.

Flooring

If you are considering replacing the flooring in an older home, consult a professional flooring contractor to investigate the condition of the current flooring. You may discover that you have beautiful hardwood flooring, covered by linoleum or carpeting. An old natural hardwood floor may be able to be refinished to “like new” condition at a fraction of the cost of replacement hardwood flooring. A professional flooring installation professional can also determine if the sub-floor is sound before you proceed with the job.

Dependent on the care and maintenance the property has received over the years, the sub-floor may be damaged by water, mold or decay, or may be infested with termites. Even if you ultimately decide to tackle the flooring project yourself, an estimate from a licensed and bonded reputable flooring contractor will allow you to have an accurate estimate of the amount and cost of materials as well as the work involved.

Roofing

Replacing the roof is one of the jobs that homeowners should not tackle on their own. Check with the company that writes your homeowner’s insurance. You will likely find out that if a licensed professional roofing contractor does not install your roof, future damage from a storm, wind, or snow accumulation will not be covered under your policy.

Lighting

In older homes, updating lighting fixtures can make a big impact on the comfort, convenience and appearance of the home. Changing out a dated lighting fixture is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project. If new wiring or breaker boxes need to be installed, it is best to enlist the services of a professional electrician. To add safety and security to the exterior areas of your home, consider adding motion detection lights to brightly light up sidewalks, driveway and the entry to your home.

Painting

Small painting projects such as refreshing a bedroom or painting a bathroom are simple do-it-yourself projects that can be easily accomplished in a weekend. If you have high vaulted ceilings or live in a two-story house and wish to repaint the exterior, you may find it is prudent to call in professional housepainters. A professional housepainter will have all the safety gear, ladders and scaffolding required to do the job correctly and quickly. If you factor in the time the job will require, the cost of renting painting equipment and the hassle involved in moving equipment on and off site, you will likely find that it is actually less expensive to hire a professional.

Creating a Yearly Home Maintenance Calendar

Being a homeowner can be a bit overwhelming at times. It can easily become difficult to juggle your homeowner responsibilities with your family and work obligations while still taking time for yourself to relax. It’s a problem made even more difficult when you don’t plan ahead for things like home maintenance. Aside from keeping your home in good condition, some maintenance issues are also safety issues, making them all the more important to find time to tend to.

So how can you make time to complete maintenance tasks and ensure you don’t forget about them? In this article, we’ll help you make a maintenance calendar that will help you hold yourself accountable to keep your home safe and in good condition.

 

What should be on your calendar?

Each home is unique and will require different types of maintenance. But in general, most homes share characteristics that can be applied to your situation. We’ll break up maintenance into two categories: safety and upkeep.

Safety

For the well-being of you and your family, be sure to add these items to your list:

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors checked (monthly)
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide batteries changed (every 6 months)
  • Fire extinguisher checked (every 12 months)
  • Test door and window locks (every 12 months)

Upkeep

Many items in your home will stop working properly if you don’t practice good maintenance. Some of the most important items to practice maintenance on are:

  • Inspect your HVAC filters (every 3 months)
  • Clean the drains of your sinks and shower (every month)
  • Test seldom used objects like spare bathroom sinks and toilets (every 2 months)
  • Clean refrigerator coils and vent (every 6 months)
  • Replace water filters in refrigerator, sink, etc. (every 6 months)
  • Clean your gutters and drainage system (every 12 months)
  • Repair ripped window and door screens (every 12 months)

Seasonal maintenance

If you live in an area that has significant climate changes throughout the seasons, then there are an whole host of maintenance tasks required to prepare for the change of weather. Some common tasks include:

  • Turning off outdoor water to avoid frozen pipes
  • Replacing door screens with glass
  • Cleaning, installing, and uninstalling air conditioners
  • Sealing or repaving walkways and driveways
  • Cleaning chimneys
  • Dusting off heaters
  • Inspecting your roof shingles

Creating your calendar

Now that you know what to put in your calendar, its time to decide how you’re going to make it. If you carry your smartphone with you everywhere and check it constantly, it might be a good idea to use a good calendar app, preferably one that syncs with your other calendars (work, Facebook, etc.). Google Calendar allows you to categorize calendar events by colors, sync between accounts, and invite others to events (such as when you need your family’s help with something on your list).

If you’re not big on technology, you could always keep a calendar attached to your refrigerator or in a frequented spot in the house that you and your family will remember to check often. Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to find one that works for you so that you don’t forget these important items to keep your house, home, and family safe.

 

 

Common Curb Appeal Mistakes That Home Sellers Need to Know About

When prospective homebuyers see your residence, are they impressed or disappointed? A homebuyer’s first impression might depend on your house’s curb appeal – something that can make or break a home sale.

For home sellers, ensuring your home is attractive to homebuyers is paramount. Thus, it is essential for home sellers to spend some time avoiding these common curb appeal mistakes:

1. Keeping Clutter on Your Front Lawn

Lawn ornaments like a bright pink flamingo sculpture or large pinwheels may help your home’s front lawn make a bold statement. At the same time, however, they can clutter up your front lawn and may be an eyesore for prospective homebuyers.

When it comes to clutter, you’ll want to do whatever it takes to eliminate it from your front lawn entirely. By doing so, homebuyers will be able to focus on your home’s outstanding exterior and its other stunning features.

Remember, your goal as a home seller is to keep your residence as neat and clean as possible and allow your home to make a positive first impression on homebuyers. And if you devote time and resources to remove clutter from your front lawn, you’ll be able to showcase the size and beauty of your front lawn day after day.

2. Ignoring Peeling Paint on Your Home’s Exterior

Adding a fresh coat of paint to your home’s exterior is never a bad idea, particularly for home sellers who notice peeling paint.

Typically, you can touch up areas where peeling paint is present and eliminate such problems instantly.

If your home needs an extensive paint job, you may be better off hiring a professional home painter as well. This home renovation expert will help you take the guesswork out of repainting your home’s exterior and work toward transforming a drab exterior into a fabulous one.

3. Failing to Replace Outdated Light Fixtures

You know the light in your driveway that constantly flickers at night? Well, now may be a great time to replace it, especially if you’re a home seller who wants to boost his or her house’s curb appeal.

Outdated light fixtures will do more harm than good for your home’s curb appeal. But if you install new light fixtures, you’ll be better equipped to enhance your home’s curb appeal at night.

As a home seller, you’ll want to ensure homebuyers can view the beauty of your residence during the day and evening. Meanwhile, installing new light fixtures enables you to brighten up your home’s exterior and improve your house’s chances of making a great first impression on homebuyers.

Curb appeal represents an important factor for home sellers, and if you ever feel unsure about how to improve your house’s curb appeal, hiring a real estate agent usually is a wonderful idea.

A real estate agent possesses industry experience and know-how and can help you explore innovative ways to improve your home’s curb appeal. And ultimately, this professional can empower you with the insights and resources you need to accelerate the home selling process.

Enhance your residence’s curb appeal, and you may be able to reap the benefits of a fast home sale.