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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seniors Wanting To #Downsize Struggle To Sell Their Homes

Seniors Wanting To Downsize Struggle To Sell Their Homes

In the past, financial stability within the senior population had a lot to do with financial stability in the housing market. In fact, home equity was supposed to help with retirement lifestyle. However, as the housing market went downhill, seniors were dramatically affected.

Those senior homeowners who are now ready to move are getting much lower amounts for their homes and while many would love to downsize to a condo or other senior living community, they can't afford to do so without first selling their home.

However, seniors who are interested in selling their home can follow these tips to help them sell their home without jeopardizing their retirement savings fund.

The first thing seniors can do is re-evaluate the market and be sure they are pricing their home realistically. Many homes that won't sell are simply overpriced or not in a condition that matches the price being asked. Instead of going by the tax assessment value alone, the condition of the home and the sale price of other comparable homes in the area should be researched carefully.

Next, seniors who are having trouble selling their home so they can start enjoy condo living may want to hire a professional stager. These qualified individuals will help stage a home to draw buyers into the sale. Statistics show that homes professionally staged and de-cluttered sell faster at for higher amounts than those not staged.

Staged homes are like the show homes you look at when a developer is selling. Just enough furniture and subtle colours.

Often, you can stage the home yourself, by repainting using a neutral color palette and renting more modern furniture.


Lastly, it can be extremely emotional for seniors to sell their home if they've lived in it for a lengthy period of time. The common line is "I'm not giving this place away...they don't build them like this anymore"!

However, those who want to downsize to a condo or move to seniors housing must learn to leave their emotions out of the sale.

Thanks to for these practical thoughts.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

5 Great Home Projects for Fall

5 Great Home Projects for Fall

Of all the home improvement projects Hyedi Cribben and her boyfriend had on their to-do list, building a patio was one project they were looking forward to completing so they could it enjoy it during the summer months. So why then did they get started in the fall?
“No one likes to do that kind of work in hot weather,” said Cribben. She and her boyfriend, Jesse, are lucky enough to have parents willing to help them get their Minneapolis fixer-upper into shape.

“There was some sifting through dirt, because there was a lot of rock,” she said, “and bringing in concrete. It’s pretty labor intensive.

“With the humidity and hot weather this summer, it would have been too much. With our parents helping us, I thought, for health reasons, we should wait until fall.”

Saving those heavy lifting jobs for fall makes a lot of sense, said Spike Carlsen, former executive editor of Family Handyman magazine and the author of Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual and, most recently, A Splintered History of Wood.

“If you have the time to wait until fall to do them, it will be less strenuous and more enjoyable,” Carlsen says. Here’s what else he suggests tackling this fall: 

1. Insulate the attic

“Going up into the attic on a hot day isn’t something I would choose to do,” he says. But there is another reason to wait until fall to do any projects that have to do with insulating your home. “You can feel a draft when the weather starts to cool down,” he said. “That’s an easy way to tell where you need to improve your insulation.”

2. Become energy efficient

Caulking around windows, doors, and siding is a simple, inexpensive way to save some money, said Carlsen. “Unless you keep warm air in and cold air out, money is going out the smokestack,” he says. A trick he uses to test where you need to caulk is to walk around the interior of your home with a lighted incense stick. “If the smoke starts blowing, that tells the story pretty quickly,” he says.

Carlsen recommends using silicone caulk because it’s flexible, waterproof, and crackproof. You do it on the outside of your home, so make sure you do it before it gets too cold. “If the temperature drops below 40, you shouldn’t caulk,” because the caulk won’t take as well, he warns.

3. Clean the gutters

“Moisture is the No. 1 problem in maintaining a home,” says Carlsen. “Getting moisture away from the foundation is key. And the way the do it is to clean your gutters and check your downspouts to make sure water is being funneled away from the house.” Clogged gutters in the winter mean ice can build up and cause damage. “In the spring, you want them running free and clear, so do it as soon as all the leaves are off the trees.”

Another place where moisture can build up is between the slats of a wood deck. Carlsen offers a simple way to clean them out. “Take a dull handsaw and run it between each board and push the crud out. If you don’t, moisture can build up, and you get mold. This will help the wood to breathe, and it will look better, too.”

4. Plant a tree

Because trees are dormant in the fall (as they are in the spring), it’s easier on the root system, says Carlson. Think about where you plant it so that it can help with saving energy, he advises. If you get it in the right position, it will be a windbreak in the winter, and provide shade in the summer. “Plus,” he says, “It’s a fun project.”

5. Organize the garage

Right now, you’ve probably got bicycles, lawn tools and the beach umbrella taking up the space your car could occupy, if only you could get everything back where it belongs. “A lot of people never get their car inside the garage in the winter because the garage is overflowing with stuff,” said Carlsen. “There are so many great organizing systems — shelving, hooks that allow you to hang bikes from the ceiling — that you can get everything into a place and find room for your car.” And it’s easier to get junk to the dump on a nice fall weekend than a cold, wet, winter day.

And while you are in the garage, advised Carlsen, check the snowblower, shovels, and snow brushes to make sure everything is in working order. It’s easier to buy replacements in the fall, before the first snow sends everyone to the hardware store.

One other benefit to cleaning the garage: It allows you to be outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

That is what Hyedi Cribben and her boyfriend intend to do, after all the hard work they’ve put in earlier this fall on their patio. Cleaning that site, putting up a fence, and laying stone and sod have taken up all their free time since the weeks after Labor Day. And now, two weeks into October, it’s nearing completion. Said Cribben, “We might even have a week or two to enjoy it before it gets too cold here.”

This article originally appeared on AOL Real Estate: Top 5 Home Improvement Projects for Fall

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Evaluate Your House for Basement Finishing

Evaluate Your House for Basement Finishing

  • Published: December 11, 2009
  • By: 

  • Basement finishing is a great way to add that extra bedroom or playroom you’ve always wanted, if you have the money and space.

    Basement remodel cost
    When it comes to basement finishing, not all unfinished space is created equal. Consequently, the per-square-foot price of basement finishing starts at $100/sq. ft. and can climb higher depending on how much or how little remodeling you must do.

    Granted, you won’t have to dig and lay a foundation or frame and insulate exterior walls—that’s already done.

    Depending on your circumstances, here’s what you’ll need to know:

    Building to code
    The International Residential Code (IRC) says a basement living space must have a clear, floor-to-ceiling height of at least 7 feet (6 feet for bathrooms). Local codes for basement finishing may vary, and exceptions are made for the presence of exposed structural beams, girders, or mechanical system components along the ceiling, but only if they’re spaced at least 4 feet apart and extend no more than 6 inches from the ceiling.

    If your existing basement ceiling height doesn’t meet those specifications, you have two options, and neither is cheap:

    ·         Raise your house and build up the foundation around it to gain the ceiling height you need.
    ·         Lower the floor, which entails removing the existing concrete slab floor, excavating to the desired level, and pouring new concrete footings and a floor slab.

    Both options during basement finishing require professional and precise engineering, excavation, and structural work that will cost at least $20,000.

    Add a staircase
    The IRC also governs the staircase that leads from your home’s main level to the basement remodel. Requirements include a handrail and stairs with proper width, tread, and riser dimensions. There must be at least 6 ft. 8 inches of headroom at every point along the staircase.

    If the stairway isn’t wide enough (at least 36 inches) or the steps aren’t to code, you may have to rebuild them during basement finishing, an extra cost of about $2,000.

    Condition the space
    Heating and cooling your basement finishing can be as simple as tapping into existing HVAC main trunks and adding a couple of vents ($1,000) or as complicated as upgrading your entire heating and cooling systems ($7,000 to $15,000).

    Your contractor will have to “size” your existing system to make sure it can handle the additional load and will comply with building codes that consider health and safety, such as adequate venting of furnace combustion gasses.

    Cure moisture problems
    You’ll have to fix moisture problems before basement finishing begins. You may have to waterproof walls and floors, grade the yard so water falls away from the foundation, install a sump pump, or install drains around the foundation, all or any of which can add thousands in costs.

    Add emergency egress
    Code dictates that basement finishing have at least one door or window big enough for people to get out and for help to get in during an emergency: If you’re including a bedroom, it must have its own point of egress. Each egress opening must be at least 5.7 sq. ft. with the windowsill no more than 44 inches above the floor.

    Most basement walls are built using poured concrete or masonry blocks, which can be cut (although not as easily as wood-framed walls) to create openings for egress windows or doors.