NMLS# 3151

Sunday, October 15, 2017

How to Winterize Your Home

Tips on How To Winterize Your Home

Owning a home in a winter climate has its challenges, especially if you do not reside in the home during the winter season, or if you take an extended vacation away from the home during the winter months. Read through the below tips and recommendations for ways to winterize your home and ensure no issues arise while you are away or upon your return.

Make a checklist.
Determine what needs to be done to properly winterize your home and write it down. Your newly crafted checklist will come in handy when it’s time to de-winterize the home upon your return.

Checklist categories should include:
  • Utilities
  • Kitchen
  • Indoor Areas
  • Outdoor Areas
  • Security

  • Turn off exterior water.
    Make sure your water is turned off completely at the main supply point.

  • Unplug your appliances.
    If you leave the electric power on, unplug all appliances to avoid the risk of fire. In case of bad electrical, a power surge, or animal/rodent activity, you want to avoid any possible electrical issues.

  • Turn down your thermostat.
    Set your thermostat to a level adequate to keep the inside temperature above freezing and to keep things dry. For more frigid locations, do not turn your thermostat off. During lower temperature times, you do not want anything to completely freeze, especially in case you forget to drain the pipes or empty a toilet.
  • Pay your final bills and notify your utility companies.
    You don’t want to pay penalties for late bills, nor do you want to deal with unnecessary utility expenses that can be avoided by informing your utility companies that you need the service shut off while you are gone.
  • Forward or stop your mail delivery.
    Be sure to forward mail to your other address if you are taking an extended leave. If your departure is only a few weeks, simply inform your local post office to hold your mail delivery until you return. Ask a neighbor to watch for packages which may be delivered by UPS, FedEx or any other service.


  • Clean out your fridge and freezer - completely.
    Do not keep anything that can go bad while you are gone or if the power goes out for an extended period of time. Wash the refrigerator and freezer thoroughly and prop open their doors to avoid mold from growing or smells from setting into the unit.

  • Remove all food.
    Any dry foods that you leave should be locked in airtight containers to keep rodents or insects out. To prevent possible issues or concerns, remove all food from the home.

  • Thoroughly clean your kitchen.
    Wash trash containers and put away soap, sponges, candles, etc. Consider placing rodent repellent under the sink and in the kitchen. Use rodent deterrents in the garage too.


  • Remove all items that could freeze.
    This includes all bottled liquids, such as water, soda, beer, and paint. Empty water from jars, vases, and decorative indoor fountains. Such items can break or even burst if they freeze.

  • Remove all fire hazards.
    Flammable, oily products, solvents, combustible products, etc. should be properly stored or completely removed to avoid any type of fire hazard.

  • Close flues and dampers.
    This will keep insects and other critters out, as well as prevent drafts from getting into the home.

  • Wash and vacuum everything.
    Remove bedding and allow mattresses to air out. Open empty drawers and closets for the same reason. Use mothballs where needed. All linens and bedding should be washed, then stored in airtight containers. This is advisable to make your return to the home easier and more comfortable. Vacuum carpets and sweep and mop floors. This ensures that no food particles are left behind.

  • Arrange for indoor plants to be watered.
    If you are leaving any live plants indoors, ask a trusted neighbor or nearby friend to stop by and water the plants once a week, or as needed.

  • Remove all trash from your home before you leave.
    You do not want to leave any trash anywhere in your home. This causes odors in the home and may attract rodents or insects.


  • Protect your yard.
    Consider what needs to be protected or taken care of in your yard and the exterior of your home. If needed, arrange to have the lawn and/or garden cared for. Cover any plants that are frost intolerant.

  • Store outdoor furniture.
    Cover and store any yard art, grills, outdoor furniture, lawn equipment, etc. Don’t leave anything that can blow over or blow away in case of high winds. Don’t leave anything out that cannot weather the season.


  • Put away and lock up valuables.
    Vehicles, bicycles, lawn maintenance equipment, and any other outdoor valuables should be put away in a garage or other secure location and properly stored. Block window views into your garage or storage space while you are gone. Consider storing such outdoor toys as boats, ATVs, or RVs in an offsite secure storage yard or facility.

  • Lock your home.
    Check that all windows and doors are shut completely and locked. Close window shutters, blinds, drapes, and curtains to deter possible break ins and to keep carpet and fabrics from fading.

  • Enlist your Neighborhood Watch program for help.
    Ask a trusted neighbor or nearby friend to drive by or make regular check-ins. Consider leaving this person a key for emergency entry, if needed.
  • Security system.
    If you are leaving your electricity on, and if you have a security system installed, share this with your local neighbor. Nowadays, there are system upgrades that allow monitoring via your cell phone.

Remember, keep a checklist of the items completed so you can thoroughly de-winterize upon your return to your home. It is also recommended that you provide some type of gift of appreciation for any neighbor or friend that helped watch your home, water your plants, take care of your lawn, or pick up your packages while you were away. Showing your appreciation will better guarantee that person will be willing to help you out again when you need them. Happy and safe travels to you!

Other helpful real estate links:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Is a Fixer-Upper Right for You?

Is a Fixer-Upper Right for You?

Sounds appealing, right? Spend less money on a “fixer-upper” home purchase, put a little time and elbow grease into it, then either have the home of your dreams for less or sell it for a great gain. Well, this is not always the case. It is wise to read up on the market and know what you are getting yourself into before you make the decision to purchase a “fixer-upper” home. The below tips can be quite useful for this decision.

Can You Afford a Fixer-Upper?
You will need to determine the costs associated with buying and repairing a property needing upgrades. Make sure it fits into your budget and overall financial plans. Complete a thorough property tour, then find out the estimated costs required to renovate the home. Don’t be conservative. And, be sure to include the hard costs for materials and any labor needed (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.) Next, add the total renovation costs to the home's current listing price. Your real estate Agent can help gather relevant market comparables to ensure the home is priced fairly. The total of the current market value plus the renovation costs will be the full cost to you to both purchase the home and complete renovation work.

Review the Inspection Report Closely
Once you find a home and put in an offer, It is essential to complete an inspection on the home. The inspector will document any serious problems that are visible during a typical home tour, and will provide a detailed report on the findings. If the house needs significant structural improvements, you may consider avoiding the purchase altogether. Most major repairs can be quite costly and hardly ever raise the value of the house enough to offset the cost of the renovation work.

Pick Home Renovation Projects that Pay
The ideal fixer-upper home is one that requires mostly cosmetic improvements. Minor repairs typically have an overall low cost with a greater selling profit once complete.  

Examples of minor repair work:
  • Drywall repairs
  • Carpet replacement
  • Tile repair
  • Install trim
  • Paint touchups
  • Minor plumbing repairs
  • Updated light fixtures
  • Replaced doors or shutters
  • Exterior siding repairs

Updated kitchens and bathrooms can also prove to be lucrative improvements, but not always...

Steer Clear of Possible Money Pits
Major additions or renovations are considered a step above common cosmetic improvements. These are usually needed to bring the house current with the market comparables and allow the home to sell under current market conditions.

Examples of major additions or renovations:
  • Replacing most or all of the flooring
  • Repairing cracks in the foundation
  • Mold repair or water damage repairs
  • Complete kitchen remodel
  • Major plumbing repair
  • Major electrical repair
  • Roof repair or replacement
  • Adding an additional room
  • Driveway repair
  • Window replacement throughout

For maximum resale value, remodeling investments should not raise the value of your house more than 15% above the median sale price of other houses in your area, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Add Enhancements During Major Renovations
If you are planning for any major renovation work, take the opportunity to add in any enhancements that can add value. Some cosmetic improvements can easily and affordably be added into structural repairs.

Examples of additional enhancements that can further enhance the house value:
  • For roof repair, add a skylight
  • For major wall repair, add a bay window or bench seat
  • For an entry remodel, add built in cabinetry and storage
  • For a kitchen remodel, add new light fixtures or new backsplash
  • For new landscaping, add a deck (or vice versa)
  • For window replacement throughout, add window shutters to the exterior

Be Prepared to Roll Up Your Sleeves
DIY home repair is quite popular and common these days. With the help of YouTube videos and Facebook recommendation posts, finding local sources and self-guided how-to videos is all too easy. Doing some of the work yourself can be a great cost-saving measure. Be sure you are skilled in the repair work you are doing yourself. Mistakes can be costly and create additional delays in the overall project. When hiring contractors, be sure to seek trusted recommendations and work with licensed professionals who will back their work. Your real estate Agent will also have several preferred businesses and local repair contacts to refer to you.
Consider the Market Conditions
When the market prices are rising or have peaked, a fixer-upper house may be too expensive an investment. It is obviously best to purchase a fixer-upper during a “buyer’s market” when prices are dropping. Additionally, major renovation work can take weeks or even months to complete. After the renovation investment, if the market is down, you may not recover your costs. All investments come with a certain level or risk, and no one can truly predict how the real estate market will turn out, but there are reliable market indicators. A reliable real estate Agent is a great resource with current information. Your Agent can help guide you on timing and recommendations for a fixer-upper home purchase.

Still needing an Agent? Call us today to get started. (801) 478-4545 info@ranlife.com

Secure Your Financing
One of the biggest hindrances to purchasing a fixer-upper is paying for the renovation work. For some, the initial purchase of the home leaves them without the extra money to start or complete the renovations. While credit is always an option, we advise avoiding this avenue and planning ahead to factor both the costs of the initial purchase as well as the estimated renovation costs. Your Lender can help in crunching these numbers and making you aware of all lending costs associated with the purchase. Your Lender will also help look through your finances and discuss options to help with the costs of the purchase and renovation work.

Looking for a trusted Lender? Call us today. (800) 461-4152

RANlife.com NMLSs#3151

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Buying Process: Broken Down Into 6 Basic Steps

The Buying Process: Broken Down Into 6 Basic Steps
To better prepare for the buying process, brush up on the following basics.

1) Begin your home search.
Your Realtor will help greatly with your home search, starting with setting up an automatic search of the local MLS (multiple-listing service) and sending you home listings for consideration. You can help too by promptly reviewing the listings sent from your Realtor and immediately following up with your Realtor on the homes you are interested in. You can further help by searching potential home options online or driving around the neighborhoods that interest you in search of for sale signs. There are usually lots of homes that fall within your search parameters. You may see a few homes or you may see several. Throughout the search, your Realtor will listen closely to your needs and will do his or her best to match home options to your expectations.

Contact us today to connect with a Realtor and get started on your home search. (801) 478-4545 info@ranlife.com
2) Secure your financing.
These days, homebuyers have a wide variety of financing options, including federally-backed loans and loans that don’t require the standard 20% minimum down payment. There may also be programs for first-time homebuyers. Remember too, your mortgage interest rate will impact the total purchase price for your home, thus impacting your monthly mortgage payment. Be sure to shop around to see what rates are being offered. Your Realtor can provide you with recommendations of trusted lenders.
3) Find a home and make an offer.
Once you narrow your search and find a home, it’s time to put some skin in the game and make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you decide how much money you want to offer, along with any conditions you want to ask for. Your real estate agent will be your point person for communication and negotiations, and will present the offer to the seller’s agent. From initial offer, the seller will either accept counter your offer. You then accept or counter again. Once both parties come to an agreement, you make a deposit on the home and the purchase transitions into escrow where the house goes off market, usually for 30 days.

4) Complete a home inspection.
Always, always, always get a home inspection. Your Realtor can provide some recommendations for great home inspectors. Even if the home you put an offer down on seems perfect, you will want a licensed, experienced inspection of the property. This will ensure the quality, safety, and overall condition of the home, including all the areas you don’t typically see and think of when first seeing a home. The home inspector will provide a full report of findings following the inspection. From this report, you can determine any necessary repairs or issues with the home. This part of the process must be complete by the stipulated and agreed upon date in the Real Estate Purchase Contract.

5) Wait on the appraisal.
Once you complete your inspection and due diligence of consideration of your purchase, your lender will order an appraisal on the home. A licensed appraiser is assigned to review the home and determine current market value. Once the appraisal is complete, the appraiser will share the total market value with your lender who will, in turn, share that information with you and your Realtor. Assuming the value comes in at your offer price or higher, the buying process will continue on to closing. This part of the process must also be complete by the stipulated and agreed upon date in the Real Estate Purchase Contract.

6) Close on your new home purchase.
The final, exciting stage of the buying process is closing on the purchase. Leading up to closing, your title company will do a thorough background search on the property title to ensure ownership and check for any defaults on the property. Assuming there are no issues, your Realtor will work with you to schedule a date to sign and close on the home purchase. Typically, once you sign and submit the funds for payment, the final transaction can take 24 to 48 hours to fund and record, transferring legal ownership from the seller to you. Once the title company confirms everything has funded and recorded, your real estate agent will inform you that the home is yours and will transfer the keys from the seller to you.

At this point, it’s all celebrations for your new home purchase - CONGRATULATIONS! Getting to this final step can seem lengthy and tedious, but a good agent and lender make it a much quicker and smoother process. Your Realtor is there to help you through the complete buying process. It can be a competitive market with lots of ups and downs. Hang in there and remember that, in the end, you will close on your perfect home.