Your Yard

How to Host a Sizzling Summer Open House

According to the National Association of Realtors®, more than 40 percent of all homes sold last year were between the months of May and August. There are so many reasons why summer may be the perfect time to put your home on the market – families are trying to settle into a new place before the school year starts and buyers have their tax refunds firmly in hand. But with so many others reaching the same conclusion, how do you make your home stand out?

A well planned open house allows potential buyers to picture how life in this home would be, and in the summer people tend to be more relaxed; it’s the time of vacations and lazy days. So making your home’s open house a haven from the heat is the best way to help them visualize that this is the house is where they’ll want to spend all of their summers.

Here are a few tips to help your home’s open house stand out this summer.

Pump the A/C. It’s easy for a house to become stuffy and warm during the summer, especially with exterior doors frequently opening and closing, so make sure that you have the air conditioning running whenever you’re hosting potential buyers.  Just make sure to keep the temperature cool and inviting, not set to a deep freeze!

Curb Appeal. Your home’s curb appeal is its first impression, and the summer months can be harsh on your home’s front lawn. Unlike in winter, where fresh snow in the front yard can appear romantic and enticing to buyers, there is nothing attractive about the dry, dead lawns of summer. Water frequently or update your home’s landscaping to something grass-free.

Outdoor Living. If your home has a pool, a large deck or an outdoor kitchen, the summer months are the perfect time to highlight them.  Put some lemonade out for buyers to enjoy on the patio and keep the pool crystal clean.  Remember, however, that summer means kids are out of school, and they may be joining their parents on open house tours, so make sure that pool gates are kept locked tight for safety.

Embrace the Season. Potential buyers may be hot and thirsty when they arrive, so prepare for it. Have a cooler with ice-cold bottled water ready and waiting for them the moment they walk in the house, and have refreshing snacks, like watermelon or popsicles, available in the kitchen or on the patio. This will help home buyers picture your home as their oasis in the heat.

Following a few easy open house tips can help you quickly find the right buyer this summer.  If you are interested in selling or buying a home this summer, contact a local Realtor®.

The complex decision of investing in a pool

It’s summertime again, which means back to the age-old debate – to build a pool or not. It is a question without an easy answer. Before making a decision, consult a REALTOR® who has expert knowledge on how a pool affects a home’s value.

 Installation costs on an in-ground pool run in the tens of thousands of dollars. The average price of installing a pool is roughly $30,000. That is for a standard in-ground pool, not counting amenities like a waterfall or colorful lights. That alone is reason enough to think twice if this is what a home really needs.

 However, some pool owners argue that having family and friends gathered in the backyard all summer is priceless.

 Annual maintenance for a pool that operates in a seasonal setting, like Louisville, costs around $600. This number can fluctuate based on the type of filtering system, heating system and pool cover used. New and more efficient heating and filtering systems will cost more up front, but will save money in the long run. To open and close the pool at the beginning and end of each summer typically costs anywhere from $300 to $500 if a professional is used.

 For more details on how a pool affects the price of a home, contact a local REALTOR®.

Get that house sold with improved curb appeal

The key to selling a home is meeting a potential buyer’s needs. Make sure they get a great first impression before they even set foot in the house.  

Each house’s curb appeal needs are different. If there are large trees on the property, make sure they are properly trimmed. The last thing potential buyers want to worry about is a rotted tree, or worse, a tree that is hiding some of the best parts of the house.  

While easy to do, it is important not to overlook front doors, siding and outdated paint schemes. Keep these aspects of the home fresh with replacement parts or new paint.  

If the house is being shown at night, make sure there is proper lighting. Lighting can be used to make the visitor feel safe or highlight sections of landscaping. Of course, don’t forget the simple things too, like mowing the yard and removing weeds from walkways and patios. 

For more do-it-yourself ideas on prepping a home for a sale, contact a local REALTOR®.

Helping a home make a strong first impression

When a potential buyer pulls up to a home, their reaction to the curb appeal sets the tone for the entire visit. With just a little work, a strong, lasting first impression can be set before a guest ever sets foot inside the house. From landscaping to cleaning, a local REALTOR® has the tips needed to boost a home’s curb appeal.  

Next time on the way home, stop and take a look around just as a visitor would. Then, look for spots that can be improved; a bush to trim or concrete to be sealed.  

Besides landscaping, look for things like a dirty roof or loose gutters when examining a home’s curb appeal. These things catch a potential buyer’s eye immediately and leave a lasting impact on their opinion of the house. A disappointing exterior only makes for a disappointing interior.  

Most home buyers feel that what they see is what they get when it comes to a new home. They don’t see a few projects to get the home ready, but rather a home that is unfit to purchase.   

Ask friends and family who don’t see the house everyday for things that catch their eye. It may be hard for someone to see flaws while looking at the same house every day.  

Contact a local REALTOR® for the latest in curb appeal tips and trends.

Sprinklers, Siding, Sidewalks and more: A Guide to Summer Projects

Over the winter, your sprinkler system was temporarily put on hold. When the summer heat rolls around, get out there and test your system to make sure it still functions properly. After all, your grass is going to need it this summer.  

To test the sprinkler system, turn it on and make sure it still rotates and hits all of the areas it is designed to. Do this with each sprinkler head throughout the yard. Also, be wary of puddles, as they could signal a leak in the underground piping. Same goes for especially dry areas — that may mean there is a clog in the underground piping.   

Just like the rest of your home, your siding has been exposed to the harsh winter elements all season long. When the heat hits, get out there and clean it. The siding may have attracted dirt, salt and, in areas close to shrubbery or green plants, mold. To prevent the growth of mold, trim the green plants back nearly three feet from the siding. Your siding can shine bright again too. Simply apply a wash with a water and bleach concentrate that will remove all the dirt and mildew from the previous few months. 

Fences and gates are also two areas where the winter can inflict damages. Inspect the fence and gate by looking for damage to posts, boards and each part of the fence. If damage exists, use heavy-duty fasteners to fix splitting and other problems. Push and pull posts to check for rotting. If the ground soil is packed tight and the post still moves, then it may have some rotting. Support it by placing a metal or wood support beam on either side of it for stabilization. If your gate is starting to sag a bit, refasten hinges to keep the gate off the ground. 

Minor cracks in concrete and asphalt, those no larger than one-half inch wide, are easily fixed. A trip to the local hardware store for some crack filler is all you’ll need. If a large slab has tilted or sunk into the ground, a professional concrete contractor becomes a necessity. These pros typically run about $500 per slab. Also, it may be time to recoat your asphalt or concrete driveway, patio or sidewalks. Look for light-colored aggregate to begin showing through the concrete as a sign that it’s time to recoat. 

Don’t forget about cleaning your deck. Sweep it off regularly, including the corners and spaces between boards. Your local hardware store will also carry deck cleaner your can apply each summer. For more information on deck cleaning, check out our June blog at https://louisvillerealtors.wordpress.com/.

Stay active this summer and keep your home looking as good as ever.

Taking Care of Your Lawn During the Midwestern Summer Heat

It’s that time of year again, when summer temperatures creep toward 100 degrees and the kids are out playing in the sprinkler. Summer is also the time to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. Follow these tips to keep up your home’s curb appeal. 

Drainage can be a major issue in the summer, especially after all of the spring rain. David Tamny, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, says, “In the Midwest, we have a lot of expansive clay soil. Bad drainage around the house can cause foundation problems and basement wetness issues, as well as mold.” 

To avoid these problems, make sure your gutters and grading slope are clear of debris. As part of your gutter maintenance, make sure your downspout extensions are clear and extend far enough away from the house. These minor fixes help prevent further trouble, such as a bowing foundation, which can cost several thousands of dollars to fix. 

Clogged gutters are often a source of a foundation problem. Overflowing gutters send water down to the soil next to the foundation. Saturation of this ground puts pressure on the foundation, causing it to bend and crack. Take a few hours every few months to clean out the gutters. You can use a gutter scoop, your hands, or a garden hose to clean out the gutters. 

While you are out cleaning the gutters, also inspect them for cracks, breaks or poor sloping. Watch for missing gutter pieces that can lead to leaks, again causing overflow and putting the foundation at risk for damages. Look to see if there are specific spots where debris is piling up and remove the cause of the buildup — for example, a screw that has come loose. Gutters sag after time, so when cleaning, make sure the gutter is still sloping in the correct direction. 

Another simple foundation saver is correcting the grade, or slope, of the land around the house. For best results, the slope should move away from the house at a rate of 6 inches per 10 feet. Adding clay to the soil also helps deflect the water from the area. Another option is laying down plastic sheeting attached to the foundation and covering it with soil to protect the ground around the foundation. 

Besides water, another threat to your home is carpenter ants. These insects hatch each spring and invade warm spaces, especially those near wood. Locate any old piles of debris and wood you have lying around your home. If you see the ants themselves or wood shavings, like those from a pencil sharpener, you may have an infestation. If you suspect an infestation, clear the debris pile or area of your home and spray it with insecticide.

A Seasonal Guide for Deck Maintenance – Summer and Fall

Now that your deck is washed and sealed, it is time to inspect the foundation of your deck.  

Structural Deck Maintenance

 The hot, dry summertime provide the perfect months to inspect the foundation of your deck. If your deck is located near downspouts, places that frequently puddle, or other sources of water, investigate these areas thoroughly to promptly remove rotting.

If you are unsure of whether your deck is suffering from rotting, use a flat-head screwdriver and insert it into the wood to determine if it needs more attention. If the screwdriver goes more than one-fourth inch into the wood, rotting is present.

The next step is repairing the rotted areas. If the rotting is the size of a small hole, chisel it out and apply a wood preservative. If the rotted area is larger, replacement parts may be needed. Consult a professional contractor or builder to determine the next steps.

If accessible, inspect the underside of the deck too. Check for rot and other problems in places such as corners, cross beams or joints. Decks connected to the house, through a ledger, need inspection in a major place; that ledger. Inspect the ledger to make sure it is still in proper working condition. Look for the proper materials on the ledger, lag screws, and check for rust spots.

If rotting exists in inaccessible areas, extra support may be necessary. Add a secondary support beam or joint to relieve pressure on the rotted area and to avoid a collapse. If you have a surface board with a crack or showing signs of deterioration, repair or replace it immediately. While not initially a threat, these cracks and splinters get worse with time, and could potentially cause serious damage.

Don’t neglect the railing during the midsummer inspection. Test to make sure it is still working properly by grabbing and shaking it. If some weak spots appear, check for cracks around screws that tend to develop over time. Then apply a professional grade adhesive and replace the fastener.

 Preventative Fall Measures

When it comes to decks that are nailed down, nail heads tend to protrude over time. Hammer these rogue nails back down, or if necessary, remove the nail and install a screw in place of the nail.

Another preventive measure is keeping landscaping, such as bushes and tress, trimmed. Try keeping the vegetation back at least a foot from the deck, this helps contain mold growth and rot. Other tips include occasionally rearranging deck furniture to avoid discoloring of the deck.

Taking care of your deck will pay off in the long—run, as decks recoup 73 percent of their value, according to a Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine. Keep your deck from rotting and collapsing by taking care of your deck with these easy steps.