Real Estate and Home Improvement


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SandCastles, August 2014

SandCastles

 
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Fewer new homes for sale

Sales of new single-family houses in March 2014 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000, according to estimates released jointly April 23 by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The number is 14.5 percent below the revised February rate of 449,000 and 13.3 percent below the March 2013 estimate of 443,000.

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Fresh paint can work wonders in the bathroom

 Applying a light-colored paint scheme can Applying a light-colored paint scheme can Recent surveys show that the bathroom has overtaken the kitchen as the most frequently remodeled part of the home. But unless your plumbing is wanting or your tile is intolerable, you can often beautify the bath simply by painting it.

"In a lot a cases, people remodel the bath not for functional reasons, but just to change and enhance the appearance. If that's the goal, it can almost always be achieved with an attractive paint treatment," said Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute.

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Nine ways to improve curb appeal

 Nine ways to improve curb appeal  Nine ways to improve curb appeal

Homeowners who want their homes to make strong first impressions must prioritize curb appeal. Homes with strong curb appeal sell well and can impart a welcoming feel to all visitors. Improving curb appeal need not be expensive, and the following are a handful of ways to improve the appearance of your home.

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Walk-in closets are in demand among home buyers this year.

 Walk-in closets are in demand among home buyers this year. Walk-in closets are in demand among home buyers this year.   During New Homes Month in April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is sharing with home buyers the most popular features in new single-family homes in 2014.

Builders from across the country were surveyed on what features they were most likely to include in a typical single-family home this year, revealing that convenience, livability and energy efficiency are top priorities.

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Home improvement tips learned the hard way

 HI-tips-664-0410 HI-tips-664-0410 'Tis the season for home improvement projects, and weekend warriors will soon be visiting home supply retailers to buy everything from paint to plywood. There are many advantages to making home improvements on your own, including the opportunity to test your mettle at projects big and small.

Many a novice DIYer has learned the ups and downs of home improvement through trial and error. But the following are a handful of lessons first-timers can heed before beginning their maiden voyages into the world of DIY home improvements.

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EPA offers cooling tips for every budget this summer

 Add insulation to your attic to keep cool air in. If every American household did so, Americans would collectively save more than $1.8 billion in yearly energy costs.

Add insulation to your attic to keep cool air in. If every American household did so, Americans would collectively save more than $1.8 billion in yearly energy costs.

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The basics of cleaning windows

  Following some time-saving tips can cut the work of washing windows considerably. Following some time-saving tips can cut the work of washing windows considerably.  After a long winter of snow and ice, many people are ready for the warmth and sunshine synonymous with spring. But dirty windows can block that sunshine from finding its way into a home.

Washing windows can be quite an undertaking, particularly in those homes with many windows on multiple levels. However, there are several time-saving tips available that can cut the work considerably.

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The basics of spring lawn seeding

 Spring is the season to assess lawn health and reseed as necessary to ensure a healthy lawn. Spring is the season to assess lawn health and reseed as necessary to ensure a healthy lawn.

Spring has sprung, and there are many activities to enjoy now that the warmer weather has arrived. Many homeowners make the most of warmer weather by tackling projects around their properties.

While autumn is a better time to overseed a lawn for new growth, satisfactory results still can be had if seeding is done early enough in the spring. Grass needs ample time to establish roots and grow strong before the summer heat takes its toll. Many types of grass need six to 12 weeks of ideal temperatures and growing conditions to germinate and produce a sturdy grass that will grow and endure.

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Sealing a driveway can extend its life

  Driveway sealants preserve the look of the driveway and can make the surface durable and impervious to stains. Driveway sealants preserve the look of the driveway and can make the surface durable and impervious to stains.  Installing an asphalt or a concrete driveway can be an expensive undertaking. To preserve the fresh, new look of the driveway, have the driveway sealed and then routinely seal it to keep it looking pristine.

A good sealant can keep a driveway looking new longer and also can rejuvenate the appearance of an older driveway. Sealant can be compared to car wax. It provides an outer coating that will repel stains, stop UV rays from fading the driveway and help to protect against cracks and driveway degradation.

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Existing-home sales remain flat in March

Existing-home sales were essentially flat in March, while the growth in home prices moderated, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest were offset by declines in the West and South.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slipped 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million in March from 4.60 million in February, and are 7.5 percent below the 4.96 million-unit pace in March 2013.

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Steps to take before erecting a fence

 As a courtesy, speak with your neighbors about your fencing plans. The fence will separate your properties from one another, and your neighbors may have certain feelings about what they want to look at. As a courtesy, speak with your neighbors about your fencing plans. The fence will separate your properties from one another, and your neighbors may have certain feelings about what they want to look at.  Fences serve many purposes on a property and can even add visual appeal and value to a home. A fence can effectively delineate property borders, serve as a safety barrier and keep pets and children from wandering into the street.

According to Zillow, an online real estate database, erecting a fence on a property in an area where fences are common usually increases the value of the home, putting it in line with similar properties nearby. However, this may only be the case if the fence is installed professionally and matches other fences throughout the neighborhood.

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Debunking common myths about carpeting

  Carpeting is actually better at trapping allergens and dust in its fibers than smooth-surface floors. Carpeting is actually better at trapping allergens and dust in its fibers than smooth-surface floors.

Carpeting has long been a reliable flooring option to keep rooms looking good and feeling comfortable underfoot. There's something to be said about having a plush, warm cushion on the floors of a home. Carpeting can help buffer sounds and minimize injuries from falls. Walking around on a padded surface may minimize back and joint pain as well as feel more comfortable when going barefoot.

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The dos and don'ts of basement finishing

 An unfinished basement allows homeowners to transform the room into anything they desire. But there are some dos and don'ts to finishing a basement, including ensuring the project adheres to local building codes. An unfinished basement allows homeowners to transform the room into anything they desire. But there are some dos and don'ts to finishing a basement, including ensuring the project adheres to local building codes.  Remodeling a basement is a popular home improvement project. A finished basement makes the space more functional and, when done correctly, can add a considerable amount of living space to a home.

Finishing a basement pays dividends in additional space in a home that doesn't require the same level of investment as putting an addition on the house. Also, the groundwork for a finished room is already there, as most basements are already set up with a poured concrete floor and some walls, usually cinder blocks. Some electrical components, plumbing and the creature comforts of drywall and a more inviting floor might be all that's necessary to finish a basement.

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Leave cutting damaged trees to the professionals

When yet another storm brings distress into your yard in the form of large branches and even entire trees that have broken and fallen into your world view, it’s best to think before your dig out your brother's old chain saw.

The first question should be, "Am I capable of removing this large tree/limb myself or should I seek professional help?"

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How to inspect for roof damage

  Spring is a good time to inspect roofs, which are often at the mercy of harsh conditions throughout the winter. Spring is a good time to inspect roofs, which are often at the mercy of harsh conditions throughout the winter.

Many homeowners do not think twice about their roofs. But when leaks develop, roof repairs and the subsequent costs of such work shed light on how important it is for homeowners to pay closer attention to the roofs over their heads.

Though certain roof issues, like shingles lost to inclement weather, are unforeseeable, many problems can be avoided with routine roof inspection. Checking roof conditions twice a year can help homeowners avoid potentially costly repair work or even more expensive roof replacement projects.

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Recognizing termite damage

 Recognizing termite damage   Home ownership can be an unending series of adventures, especially for those homeowners who love good home improvement projects. Some projects are fun and improve the value of a home instantly, while others are undertaken to address a potentially serious issue.

Discovering that termites are taking up residence where you live can be disconcerting, but termites are a very common occurrence. Understanding termites and recognizing the signs of termite damage early on can help homeowners reduce the havoc that such critters can wreak on their homes.

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Honda and Toro top Consumer Reports lawn mower ratings

 mower In the self-propelled, gas-powered mower category, the Honda HRR2169VKA (pictured), $400, and the Toro 20381, $520, were both CR Best Buys.  In Consumer Reports’ tests of nearly 40 lawn mowers, models from Honda and Toro led the pack for getting most lawns back into shape after a brutal winter. The full report on lawn mowers and lawn care, which also includes Ratings of tractors and riders, string trimmers, and the best leaf blowers, plus ways to save money on lawn care, and more is featured in the May 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org .

“A great-looking lawn is easy if you have the right tools,” said Peter Sawchuk, test program leader for home improvement at Consumer Reports. “The best mowers and riding machines can help get a lawn back into shape in time for summer.”

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Home and Garden - Spring 2014

Home and Garden Spring 2014

 
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Sellers should be prepared for a home inspection

People who are in the process of selling a home should be prepared for a thorough home inspection, according to RealtyPin.com, a listing and search service for real estate buyers and sellers.

Smart buyers will make their offer contingent on the home passing an inspection, the site says. Sure, a home may look fine to the casual observer, but do you know what could be lurking underneath that fresh coat of paint or those new roof tiles?

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