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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 22

The Aging of Your House - How Long Will It Last?

by Desi Sowers

What is the life span of a house?  Some houses may survive for hundreds of years, but the individual components that make them up may not.  Parts of the house made of concrete or brick may last a long time, but other things such as appliances may only last ten years or so, regardless of how expensive they were to purchase. 

As seen in the graphic, components of the house made with hardy materials such as wood or stone flooring can last 100 years or more.  Other durables that can last a lifetime included natural stone or tile countertops, fiberglass, wood or fire-rated steel exterior doors, copper wiring and most types of insulation.

A study by the  National Association of Home Builders warns that life expectancy of homes will vary and the life span of an individual house’s component will depend greatly on the quality of installation, level of maintenance, weather and climate conditions and intensity of use.

Many homeowners will swap out house components or appliances before necessary due to changing styles and preferences or improvements in newer products.  Eligibility for tax credits or rebates and newer models that are more energy efficient and less costly to use may entice homeowners to replace items before the end of their useful life.

Consistent home maintenance is the best way to make your home, and all its various components, last as long as possible. 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Autumn-Home-Maintenance-Must-Do-List

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/To-Renovate-or-Not-to-Renovate-Should-You-Fix-Up-Your-Home-or-Sell-it-As-Is

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Protect-Your-Home-from-Fire-Four-Surprising-Fire-Hazards

Staging Your Home with Young Children

by Desi Sowers

You have placed your house on the market and now it’s time for potential buyers to come and look at it. Keeping it clean, tidy and ready to show can be challenging in the best of circumstances, but even more so when you have young children.  Here are a few staging tips for keeping your house ready for last minute showings while making it attractive to buyers at the same time:

  1. Begin by removing any excess toys and clutter.  Cumbersome toys like play kitchens and picnic tables take up a lot of space and can made a room look crowded and smaller than it is - so it’s a good idea to put these in storage while you are trying to sell.
     
  2. Allow your children to pick out a few favorite toys that can be easily stored in attractive containers when showing the house.  Choose an option that makes tidying up quick and easy.  Store all other toys out of sight.
     
  3. Potential buyers like to be able to see the house as they would have it. So, remove kids’ art work from the refrigerator and convert the playroom into a multi-purpose room. For example, you can stage the playroom as an office by adding a desk and chair, or as a den by adding a small sofa.  That will make the room more appealing to buyers without children.
     
  4. Consider a fresh coat of paint, especially if you have colorful rooms that were painted to appeal to your little ones.  Not only will the new paint cover finger-prints and marks on the walls, but choosing neutral colors for all the rooms will help sell your home more quickly and easily.
     
  5. Don’t forget that the outside of your house is the first thing potential buyers see.  Keep outdoor toys to a minimum and make sure they are stored neatly.  You never know when buyers might be driving by and you don’t want a bunch of toys to create and eye-sore that makes them hesitate to look at your home.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Decluttering-101

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Lunch-Logistics-Organizing-Your-Kitchen-for-Back-to-School-Lunches

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Packing-it-Up-and-Moving-it-Out

Decluttering 101

by Desi Sowers

Having a cluttered house makes life more challenging than it has to be.  The emotional toll of clutter can be surprisingly draining.  Take these steps to declutter your house and before you know it you will start to experience the positive effects of a clutter-free life!

  1. Stop the flow of stuff coming in. Some people have a rule that if you buy something, you must get rid of something. That is all fine and well if your house isn’t already cluttered.  But, if you have too much stuff you are going to need to get rid of things and NOT replace them with other things.
     
  2. Declutter at least one item a day. You don’t have to do it all at once.  You likely feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to declutter.  Take it one small step at a time.  Some days you might get a lot accomplished, others you may not. But try to declutter at least one item a day. 
     
  3. Declutter the easy stuff first.  If there are things that you know are going to be difficult to part with, don’t start with them.  Start with the easiest things.  Ease your way into the process. 
     
  4. Have a disposal plan in place. Do your research. Find out where you can donate or sell items.  After all, your trash might be someone else’s treasure. Websites like Freecycle and Ebay, as well as local thrift stores, are good disposal options.
     
  5. Decide not to keep things out of guilt or obligation. If you love it, keep it. If you use it, keep it.  But if it is meaningless to you and simply taking up space, get rid of it!
     
  6. Don’t be afraid to let go.  If you are hanging on to something because you might use it someday, don’t.  Be realistic.  If you haven’t used it in years, chances are you will never use it.  Let. It. Go.
     
  7. Only declutter what is yours.  All family members should participate and go through their own belongings to decide what to keep and what to dispose of.
     
  8. Do not waste your life on clutter! Clutter drains your energy.  It’s a physical manifestation of chaos that can often make you feel like you are not in control.  Take that first step and start enjoying life without clutter!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Autumn-Home-Maintenance-Must-Do-List

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Lunch-Logistics-Organizing-Your-Kitchen-for-Back-to-School-Lunches

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Packing-it-Up-and-Moving-it-Out

Majestic Fall Flowers

by Desi Sowers

If you’re lucky enough to live near the mountains in VA, you know that fall foliage provides a natural, extraordinary backdrop of color during the autumn months.  But if you would like to add some of the glorious autumn colors to your home’s landscaping, now is the time to start planning and planting.  Whether you are partial to yellows and golds, burnt oranges and rusts, or deep reds and burgundies (or if you like to mix it up with a variety of hues), there is something for everyone when it comes to fall flowers.  Here are some favorites:

Chrysanthemums -  These popular flowers come in a variety of sizes. With seasonal, festive shades of yellow, red and orange they provide a perfect backdrop for all your outdoor fall décor.  Learn how to plant and grow chrysanthemums here.

Pansies - Found in just about every shade of the rainbow, these versatile flowers create a majestic ground cover and look equally amazing in hanging baskets.  If planted in fall, pansies can last up to eight months, so you definitely get your money’s worth of beauty with these hardy plants!

Celosia - These lovelies are durable and easy to care for.  They provide bright yellow, warm orange, crimson red, and rich burgundy accents to your container gardens.  You can also add celosia to your landscape beds and borders.  Their flame-like plumes add a whimsical look to any fall garden.

Croton - An ideal plant for autumn, this plant has brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and purple.  It works as a houseplant in cold-weather regions or as a shrub in frost-free areas.  It also can be grown outdoors as an annual. Be on the lookout for different varieties to find the best crotons to complement your fall garden.

Black-Eyed Susan - These golden-yellow stunners bring to mind happy daisies.  Bees and butterflies love them and they brighten up any landscape or container garden. Learn how to plant and care for black-eyed Susan and create a blanket of color for fall!

Helenium - Also known as “sneezeweed” (don’t worry, it doesn’t make you sneeze…the name comes from when they used to make snuff out of their dried leaves) they look like small, copper hued coneflowers.  They can grow quite tall and add a burst of warm cheer to your fall garden.  Get planting and maintenance tips for Helenium here.

Take advantage of what’s left of late summer and start your fall garden while the days are still longer and the temperatures are still mild.  Before you know it, you will be enjoying the glory of Autumn!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Autumn-Home-Maintenance-Must-Do-List

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Ten-Décor-Trends-to-Avoid-in-2017

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Creative-raised-bed-and-planter-gardening

 

What You Need to Know About Renting Out a Room

by Desi Sowers

With college football season upon us, there will be an influx of people trying to find accommodations in the New River Valley area.  Homeowners may be tempted to rent out rooms to earn a little extra income.  Why not?  It sounds easy enough.  Clean up that spare room or basement and you can rake in the big bucks from people desperate to find lodging.  But there are things you should know before taking this on.  It may not be as simple as it seems.

  • There are several online peer-to-peer marketplaces for renting out your house or a room in your house. Airbnb is one of the largest and most popular. Some others include HomeAway and FlipKey. Your first step should be to investigate the various options and decide which one will work best for you.
  • Educate yourself about the laws involved with renting out a room in your home. When listing your home on a website, they might not indicate whether you’re complying with local laws.  You are responsible for knowing the regulations and following the rule of the law.  Don’t get yourself in a situation like the hosts in New York City who were fined thousands of dollars for renting their apartments through peer-to-peer services.  This type of rental activity is allowed in the Town of Blacksburg, but it is subject to standards adopted by Town Council.  Make sure you know the rules and regulations before placing your room for rent.
  • There may be taxes involved.  Depending on how much you earn by renting out all or part of your home, you may receive a tax form from the marketplaces that list your property.  Regardless, you must report the earnings when filing your taxes.  This is something to consider when deciding if it is worth the cost to start renting out space in your home.
  • Something else to think about when deciding if your profits will outweigh your costs is the expense of having guests in your home.  You will be providing consumables such as soap, toilet paper, shampoo and cleaning supplies. In addition, your utility bills may increase.  You may also want to hire a cleaning service if you don’t have time to clean between guests.
  • To increase your chances of being booked, consider listing on multiple sites.  The more people that see your listing, the better the chance it will be rented.  But remember, each site has its own rules, fee structures and insurance requirements, so you need to know this information for every site you use.

Should you decide to rent out a room in your home, the rental site that you choose will help you get started.  You can also check out College Weekends; a site specific to Blacksburg for renting out spaces for football weekends.  Go Hokies!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Bedand-Breakfast

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Welcome-to-the-New-River-Valley

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Real-Estate-Myths-Dont-Let-Them-Fool-You

Autumn Home Maintenance Must-Do List

by Desi Sowers

Summer is winding down and Autumn is just around the corner.  Take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather and get started on your Fall home maintenance to-do list now!

  • Check for peeling paint on the exterior of your home.  Don’t ignore it!  If paint is peeling or blistering, it’s a sign that it is no longer providing a protective covering for your siding, which can leave it vulnerable to damage that will cost you dearly in the future.  This doesn’t mean you have to repaint the entire house though.  You can repair the damaged areas and save yourself a lot of grief and money.
  • Clean your gutters.  Clogged gutters are a major source of wood rot problems and pest infestations.  Make sure downspouts are clear and joints and brackets are in good working order.  If they are damaged, replace them
  • Make sure windows and doors are sealed properly. Caulking and sealing is an inexpensive way to protect you home from the elements.  It also saves you money by preventing heat from escaping during the colder seasons.  Check your weather stripping as well. Replace it if it is damaged.
  • Take a good look at your roof.  Make sure there are no missing or loose shingles. Avoid having to deal with a leaky roof during the first snow by preemptively repairing any problems
  • Get your fireplace and/or wood stove ready.  If you have a wood burning fireplace, have a professional come out to clean your chimney. Making sure your fireplace/woodstove are in good working order is crucial for home safety.

Check these home maintenance projects off your list now and you can enjoy your Fall weekends in your cozy, warm house!

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/To-Renovate-or-Not-to-Renovate-Should-You-Fix-Up-Your-Home-or-Sell-it-As-Is

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/4-DIY-projects-for-your-first-home

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Upcycle-your-summer-treasures-with-these-5-DIY-tips

Investing in Real Estate - Tips for Success

by Desi Sowers

Real estate investing can be a great way to make money.  But to be successful at it, you need to do your homework first and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose an experienced real estate agent .  Finding the right agent is critical to successfully capitalize on real estate investments.  You want to find someone who has the knowledge to make the process easier for you.  They should have awareness of location, value and return on investment.
  • Location, location, location!  Research what areas are declining and which ones are on the rise before deciding where to purchase an investment property.  If large retailers such as Lowe’s or Home Depot are setting up shop there, it’s probably a good place to invest because big chains do a lot of research before moving in.
  • If you plan to invest with a partner, make sure you have a partnership agreement drawn up to protect all parties in case something happens.  Relationships can sour and expensive mistakes can happen. Making early decision about how to handle bad situations will help prevent catastrophic results.
  • Be prepared to invest for the long term.  When you hold onto a property for a long time, you can manage expenses and income easier and use the money to pay the mortgage.
  • Be picky about renters.  If you are going to rent to students or rent rooms to different people verses to a family, you may need special permits, depending on where you live. Educate yourself about rules and regulations for renting out your property.
  • If you have more than three properties you’re renting out, you would benefit from hiring an experienced property manager. It can be overwhelming when you are trying to take care of multiple homes (including your own!). A property manager will handle repairs and minor problems for tenants. They will help find new tenants as well.  Just keep in mind that property managers usually get around 10% of the monthly rent.

Being a landlord isn’t always easy.  But with the right investment, it can be very rewarding!

Contact Desi Sowers for all your New River Valley real estate needs.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Selling-Your-House-or-Renting-It-Out-Pros-and-Cons

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-is-a-Sound-Financial-Investment

Welcome to the New River Valley!

by Desi Sowers

As a new resident of this beautiful area, you have probably been so busy unpacking and getting yourself situated that you haven’t had time to really take it all in.  I want you to feel at home in your new community, so here are a few tips for getting to know the wonderful people and places in the New River Valley:

MEETING YOUR NEIGHBORS:

Often people don’t want to intrude when they see you are busy unpacking and setting up house.  But there are a lot of ways you can still meet your neighbors:

  • Take a walk around the neighborhood.  Chances are others will be out strolling with kids and pets.  Pets are fabulous ice-breakers!  Don’t hesitate to say hi and introduce yourself.
  • Join the neighborhood civic league and attend meetings.  If there is a home owners’ association, become an active participant.  Not only will you hear lots of good information at meetings, but you will find about fun activities that are happening.
  • Once you are settled, take some treats to your immediate neighbors thanking them for accommodating your moving truck. Include a note introducing your family. 
  • See if your neighborhood has a social media page and join if they do.

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR HOMETOWN

Take some time to explore your new surroundings. There is so much to see and do here!

  • Play tourist for a day.  Check out local travel guides and city websites to see what’s going on in your new town.
  • If you are a stay at home Mom, check out Moms' Groups; an excellent way to meet other Moms!
  • Join your University alumni association.  These groups offer you the chance to socialize locally while maintaining a connection with your college.
  • Check out social media for local groups, book clubs, meet ups and community events.
  • Join the YMCA or Community Recreation Center and meet people while staying in shape!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at (540) 320-1328.  As a resident of the New River Valley, I am happy to welcome you home!

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Moving-Day-Survival-Kit

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Perks-of-Retiring-in-a-College-Town

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Upside-to-Downsizing

Packing it Up and Moving it Out!

by Desi Sowers

Let’s face it, no matter how prepared you think you are, moving is stressful .  One of the worst parts of moving is packing up your current house.  You are probably busy enough already, and now you are adding this huge task to your “to do” list.  It can be overwhelming.  One way to make it a little easier is to spread it out over several weeks instead of trying to do it all right before you move.  Here is a general timeline for packing that you can use as a guide. 

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: PRE-PACKING - If you are lucky enough to know a full month before you have to move, take advantage of it.  Pre-pack items that you won’t need or use before you move.  Out of season clothing, tools and small appliances, and collectibles/knick knacks are items that you won’t miss and you can get them out of the way.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: NON-ESSENTIALS - Among the items that you didn’t pre-pack, choose those that you know you likely won’t need before moving.  Books, extra linens, and kitchen items can be packed up because you likely won’t be doing much reading, and you only need enough linens, plates, and utensils for the number of people living in the home.  CDs and DVDs can go as well.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: TIME TO GET SERIOUS - Yes…now it is time to really start paring down the amount of “stuff” still in your home. If you have children,  allow them to choose a few toys/games to keep out, and pack up the rest.  If you have a home office, clean it out and box up what you plan to take with you.  Jewelry and shoes that you don’t wear daily can go as well.  You may feel that two weeks is a long time to go without these items, but trust me, it will go by fast!

ONE WEEK BEFORE MOVING DAY: SEVEN DAYS AND COUNTING: Now it is time to pack up all but the few things you will need to get through the last few days at your current home.  The rest of your clothes and kitchen items can go (leaving yourself what you will need until the move, of course).  Go through your medicine cabinet and toss any expired medications. Pack the rest except for the ones you take daily.

TWO DAYS BEFORE MOVING DAY: NOW IT’S GETTING REAL: At this point the stress might reach maximum levels, but if you have been following the time-line and packing a bit each week, you should be almost finished!  Box up your electronics (in their original packaging when possible), bathroom items, and any miscellaneous items that are left.  Keep a box for essential items that you will keep with you as you are moving.

MOVING DAY: IT’S HERE! All that should be left is furniture and appliances.  Whether you have hired movers to load the large items or you are doing it yourself, it will be so much more manageable with everything else already boxed up and ready to go.

IMPORTANT TIP: Label every box.  You can either write what is in the box or what room the box should go to.  Or both.  You will be glad you did when you are unpacking!

Remember that this is simply a general guideline.  You should do what is right for you and your family when it comes to packing and moving. But hopefully this will make what can be a trying and overwhelming time a little more pleasant.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Moving-Day-Survival-Kit

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Top-Ten-Things-to-Look-for-When-House-Hunting

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Upside-to-Downsizing

What Women Want - She Sheds!

by Desi Sowers

The she shed trend has arrived and it looks like it’s here to stay. And really, what took so long?  Men have had their “caves” for years.  Women should have their own space to get away and unwind too!  Whether a she shed is used for relaxation and contemplation, watching chick flicks, or as a space for hobbies, it is a long overdue oasis for hardworking women who deserve a peaceful space to call their own.  If you’re ready to create your own she shed, here are some ideas for you:

If you already have a backyard shed, you are going to need to clean it out.  Completely.  You will want a blank slate for designing your perfect environment.  Find new storage options for the items you are keeping and give away the rest.  If you don’t have a shed, you can build one with an  easy-to-build kit purchased online or from a local home improvement store.

Show off your one-of-kind sense of style by giving your she shed a fresh coat of paint.  Choose colors that you love.  Do you want a rustic look, or do you dream of a storybook cottage?    The ideas for designing your personal retreat are endless.  Remember, it’s all about YOU!

Think about what you want the purpose of your shed to be.  Will you use it as a peaceful sanctuary where you can curl up with a good book?  Perhaps you might set up an easel and use it as your art studio.  Whatever your intent, be sure to keep it in mind while coming up with your design. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to furnish and decorate your she shed.  Search antique stores and flea markets for unique pieces.  The idea is to make it feel relaxed and cozy.  You might already have everything you need, but just needed a special place for it all. 

Choose a spot in the yard that takes you away from your day to day grind and makes you feel surrounded by nature.  Lush plants and window boxes full of flowers will give you a tranquil ambiance that will provide the calm environment needed for quiet serenity.

The most important thing is to make your she shed a reflection of yourself.  And remember…it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, so as your interests and hobbies shift, your shed can transform with you and always be there to fulfill your needs and desires.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Heavenly-Homes-Churches-Converted-to-Residential-Living-Spaces

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Ten-Décor-Trends-to-Avoid-in-2017

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Bedand-Breakfast

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 22

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