Spring Fever: How to Detect If Allergy Hotspots Are Developing in Your Home

Spring Fever: How to Detect If Allergy Hotspots Are Developing in Your HomeThe spring season may be a time of cherry blossoms and longer days, but it’s also common for allergies to ramp up. While you won’t be able to stop the season, there are things you can do to limit the impact of allergies in your home. If you’re wondering what has the greatest impact on your sinus health in the home, here are a few places you’ll want to check out.

Have You Looked Under The Bed?

Many diligent housecleaners will do a sweep under the bed each time, but for those of us who want to avoid pulling everything out, this area can be a very dusty spot. Next time you clean the house, take the time to remove everything out from under the bed that’s been collecting dust, whether there are old boxes, shoes or things you’ve forgotten about. Dust everything off, vacuum the area underneath and you’ll be well on your way to a cleaner air space.

Do You Like The Retro Rug?

Most vintage looks come back for business, and the shag rug is no exception; however, this style of carpet captures a lot of dust and can greatly impact your sinus health. If this is your favorite style of carpet, you’ll want to ensure you vacuum it frequently to pull out all of the dust. In the future, you may also want to opt for a different style of floor covering, as something lightweight and durable will be a better option when it comes to cleaning and taking care of yourself.

Blame It On The Bookshelf

There are few things that will collect dust like a bookshelf lined with old books. Unfortunately, bookshelves and books can be one of the most rarely dusted areas in the house since it’s a more time consuming task to pull out each book and wipe down the shelves. If you don’t want to downsize, you may want to take a damp cloth to your bookshelf every time you clean to give it a once over. Ensure you clean it more carefully at the end of each month to avoid dust buildup.

There are a lot of areas where dust can accumulate in the home and make allergies worse, but by checking under the bed and dusting the books you can avoid its worst ills.

Predicting a Hefty Tax Refund This Spring? 3 Reasons You Should Use It for Home Renovations

Predicting a Hefty Tax Refund This Spring? 3 Reasons You Should Use It for Home RenovationsThere’s a burden that comes along with having to do your taxes every spring, but it can actually be a great benefit if you’re getting a sizeable refund this year. While many people like the idea of going on a trip or spending the extra funds, here’s why you may want to consider investing it back into your home for a profit you’ll be able to see!

It’s Free Money

Many people will argue that your tax refund is money that’s already owed to you and is part of your income, but it still tends to feel like a bonus since most don’t work their taxes into their budget. While you may have your eye on something you’ve really wanted to buy of late, you may want to consider investing it into your home instead. This can be a simple way of reaping the benefits of a renovation without having to move money around in your monthly budget.

Bumping Up Your Home’s Value

Renovations often come with a very high price tag, but you can see the benefits of renovating by using just a portion of your tax return. Instead of spending the whole amount on renovations that will not increase your home’s value, consider things like an appliance upgrade, a new paint job or resurfacing your kitchen cabinets for changes that will financially benefit you down the road. You may also want to invest in some energy efficient fixes as these will likely draw in the environmentally friendly buyer.

Spring Is Selling Time

Many people put off renovations due to the cost involved, but spring is the optimal time to put your home on the market, which means a sizeable return can instantly benefit you. Instead of weighing your options and waiting until the busy real estate season is over, invest in some relatively quick fixes that will upgrade the look of your home. By getting these things done before the spring is over, you may have a much better chance at selling success at the price you’re looking for.

There are very few people that look forward to tax time, but getting a sizeable return can be a good reason to do some renovations and put your home on the market for the spring.

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy Guide

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy GuideNow that 2017 is here, it’s time to consider which upgrades you will make to your home. If you don’t have any major renovations planned, you can still tackle smaller projects or theme rooms. In today’s post we’ll explore some of the home decor trends expected to be popular in 2017.

Paint Colors: Confident, Composed & Comfortable

According to the color experts at paint company Behr, 2017’s trend colors express confidence, composition and comfort. If you plan on painting accent walls, rooms or even your entire home this year, these are worth exploring. Confident palette colors include the bluish-green Jade Dragon, the fiery red Hot and Spicy and more. The Composed Palette is a bit muter, with blues and grays like Laid Back Gray and Polished Aqua. For those that love pastels, the Comfortable Palette has many soft notes. Life is a Peach and Everything’s Rosy are two great light link options.

Replacing DIY With Artisanal

If you’ve owned your home for a while, you may find that over time your do-it-yourself projects have added up. While DIY upgrades are fun and cost-effective, if they don’t match or pair well they can throw off continuity in your decor. Consider 2017 a chance to replace some of your older DIY items with similar ones created by artisans. You can always gift, sell or repurpose yours to ensure they find use in a new home.

Enjoy Saving Energy With Heated Floors

Heated floors are one of 2017’s decor trends that combine luxury with responsibility. It might be tough to imagine that heated floors actually save energy, but it’s true. In-floor heating can actually heat entire rooms with less energy than other central solutions. Still using electric baseboard heaters in small areas like bathrooms? Consider heating your floors instead.

Climbing Plants Are The New Art

If you’re struggling with how to fill a blank space on a wall, consider climbing plants. Indoor vines like the Pothos (or Devil’s Ivy) can add a lively splash of green to a wall area. Or, consider using creeper vines that grow upwards. Even a small shelf with a few attractive potted plants can set off an entire wall. The more life you can add to your home, the better!

With so many colors, upgrades and DIY upgrades to choose from, 2017 is set to be a great year for home renovators.

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can’t Forget to Take Care of This Winter

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can't Forget to Take Care of This WinterWinter may be a time for nesting until the cold weather abates, but there are a number of important tasks that a homeowner should be sure to do during the winter months. If you’re readying for the slow season or wondering what you might have forgotten, here are some things you’ll want to check off your to-do list.

A New Coat Of Paint

Getting out the paint may seem like a sizeable task, but any peeling paint is going to be adversely affected by the cooler temperatures of fall and winter. While you may want to hold off if it’s already cold, it might be a task worth prioritizing if the materials on your home will be damaged as a result of the coming weather.

Shovel The Snow

Shoveling snow may be important for sidewalk safety, but a build-up can actually have an ill effect on your home’s foundation. Instead of taking the risk, ensure you clear the areas around any basement windows and steps so that drainage will not impact your home’s foundation and its value.

Do A Window Check

A window that isn’t properly sealed can cause issues with the heating and cooling of your home, but in the cooler season any issues will be a lot more apparent. If you find drafts throughout the house, you may want to hire a professional or do the re-caulking on your own.

Restore The Roof

If there are issues with the viability of your shingles, you may have significant problems when it comes to heavy rain or snow. Whether you decide to hire a pro or head up the ladder on your own, make sure to take the time to check for loose or damaged shingles before the season hits.

Test The Detectors

It’s easy to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at any time, but it’s easier to remember if it’s on the year-end checklist. It may be easy to forget about the utility of a functioning detector, but it’s very important for protecting your home and your family in the event that something goes wrong.

There are a lot of things to prep for when it comes to winter, but it’s important to make sure that you’ve done your home maintenance duties so your home is prepared for the coming season.

3 Important Things To Consider Before Listing Your Home on Airbnb

Airbnb has become an attractive way for homeowners to make income from their property. Although Airbnb’s is known for its reputable insurance policy, there are a few things you should consider before listing your home online.

Time Commitment

People have a tendency to think more about what they can gain from hosting on Airbnb than what hosting will do to their life. Having a steady stream of guests is quite a time-consuming endeavor; you’ll have to respond to inquiries online, clean your guest’s space and do laundry after every booking, and make sure your home is constantly neat and tidy.

This may seem like a small to-do list, but if you have a new guest every 3-4 days that could add up to 10 extra loads of laundry per month. Yikes!

As a host, you will also need to be present to check guests in and out of your home, which means you’ll need to book time off from your other commitments to properly welcome your guests and fulfill your hosting requirements. Hosting on Airbnb is just like having a real B&B, it is a business and requires time as such.

Risky Business

Needless to say, allowing strangers to stay in your home comes with inherent risk. Although Airbnb has insurance to protect its hosts and their homes, hosts are still vulnerable to theft or property damage. This can be especially devastating if sentimental items, such a wedding rings or family heirlooms, are stolen by a guest.

Another risk for Airbnb hosts to be aware of is squatting scams. Some scammers have taken advantage of the fact that when a guest stays in a home for longer than 30 days, they may gain squatting rights to the property, making it difficult for their host to force them to leave.

To avoid this situation, do not accept bookings that are longer than 30 days, and/or be very clear in your communication to guests that they are only allowed to stay at your property until the agreed upon departure date, and explicitly state that they must vacate your home after that time.

Be Realistic

It is unlikely that listing your home on Airbnb will provide you with enough financial freedom to quit your job and travel the world, though it may provide you with extra funds to contribute towards your mortgage payments. Be realistic about your expected hosting income, and don’t make any major financial changes based on your expectations until you have experience as a host and can accurately predict your monthly Airbnb profit.

Are you ready to find an ideal income property for Airbnb guests? Speak with one of our Mason-McDuffie Mortgage professionals today!

Winter’s Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other Landscaping

Winter's Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other LandscapingFrom the approaching holiday season to the New Year, there are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to the winter. It’s important, though, not to forget about the needs of your lawn for the upcoming cold season. If you’re wondering how to ready your trees, your plants and your yard, here are some tips for saving your vegetation until the springtime.

Fertilize For Grass Growth

It might seem like a waste of time to fertilize your grass going into the winter months, but this is actually the perfect time to prep it for spring. As fertilizer will provide much-needed nutrients to the grass in the months when there is less growth, it will actually stimulate improved growth down the road. It’s just important to ensure that you provide a consistent amount of fertilizer so a patchy-looking yard can be avoided. Since weeds scale back in winter, like most other varieties of plants, it can also be an ideal time to apply a herbicide.

Garden Plants And Perennials

While plant maintenance duties like pruning can be done in the spring or fall months, it can actually be a better idea to give your plants the summer months to grow before diving in. Cutting them back will enable the plant to focus its energy on maintenance through the cold winter months, so it’s a good idea to get to work in before the first signs of cooler air set in. If you happen to have plants that won’t last through the winter, you’ll want to compost them so they can be used for soil in the next gardening season.

Clearing Away The Wood

Beyond the garden and the lawn, it’s also worthwhile to provide a little care for your favorite trees before the winter hits. While you’ll want to be cautious about what you do and may want to consult with a gardening professional, clearing away dead branches can help your tree retain its health throughout the year. You may notice the difference in your trees when the spring rolls around again, as they’ll likely have a revitalized look and show signs of new growth.

Winter is a busy time for many people, but it’s important to make the time to fertilize your grass and prune your perennials so your yard will be ready for spring.

Let’s Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your Home

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your HomeAre you on the hunt for home renovations that will boost usability and value? Look no further than that unfinished basement. In this article, we’ll show you how to turn that dusty cave into an amazing new living space.

Note: finishing a basement isn’t the easiest job. For most basements, it’s a lot more than a weekend do-it-yourself project. If you’re not comfortable with construction be sure to enlist the help of a professional.

Step 1: Plan Everything Out

The first step is to plan out how you’re going to use the space. Are you going to make an office? A full suite? Is there any plumbing or wiring involved? Will you need to create full walls? Map out how you plan to use the available space so you have an idea of what you’ll need.

Step 2: Measure And Deal With The Floor

Once you figure out how you’ll use the space, you’ll need to measure everything out. Height can be an issue — especially in basements not designed as a living space. You can solve height problems by digging out the concrete slab. Once you get down deep enough, you pour a new slab.

Step 3: Frame Everything In

Is the basement at a good height? Next you’ll need to start framing everything in. Depending on how you have your walls mapped out, this might take a while. You may also need permits or to enlist licensed tradespeople, such as an electrician. If you’re just framing in a single room to add walls, it will be easier.

Step 4: Insulate And Install The Walls

After the framing process, you’ll insulate everything before installing the walls. Adding insulation can drive energy and heating costs down by a lot. So much so that in colder areas of the country, new homes must have insulated basements. After the insulation is in place, you’ll install the drywall and ready the walls for painting.

Step 5: Paint, Carpet And Finish Up

The final step is to get everything painted and finished. If you chose to go with a carpeted floor, you’ll want to save this for last. Once the painting is complete, install the carpets, baseboard and trim. Touch up any final areas and you’re all set.

Finishing your basement into a usable space is an excellent way to add value to your home. To learn more about building your home’s equity, give us a call.