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Exterior Spring Cleaning

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Spring is here! Last week we did a blog on Spring Cleaning the interior of the Home. This week we will focus on exterior tasks that are good to do every year to make sure your house is functioning at its best. Being a property owner in Washtenaw County is fulfilling when you take care of your home and spring time in Michigan is the best time to do so. 

 

Image result for spring cleaning

Exterior 

  • Repair glazing and caulk around windows and doos
  • Repair cracked bricks and missing motor 
  • Repair freeze/thaw cracks in drives and walks 
  • Repair, prime, and paint areas with peeling paint 
  • Remove debris from yard and high traffic areas 
  • Search for signs of colonized insects or pests 

Roof 

  • Check your roof for damage or missing shingles 
  • Check for cracked flashing or damaged caulk seals 
  • Trim branches and trees away from the roof 

Structure 

  • Check basement and foundation walls for cracks 
  • Check your chimney for cracks and leaks 
  • Check your crawl for moisture 

Water Control 

  • Test your sump pump for proper operation 
  • Clean your gutters and window wells 
  • Extend downspouts away from your foundation 
  • Make sure grading flows water away from house or other structures 

Fuel Services 

  • Check your gas/oil tank for odors and leaks 

Property 

  • Test your lawn mower and trimmer 
  • Treat your lawn with fertilizer and pest control 
  • Power wash and seal your deck and patio
  • Remove your outdoor furniture from storage 
  • Dewinterize and start lawn sprinklers 

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Spring Maintenance Interior Checklist

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Spring is here! That means Spring Cleaning. In Michigan, we experience all four seasons, and it is important we take care of our homes during those transitions. From winter to spring is an important transition for your Home. Here is some tips on how to maintenance the interior of your home to avoid future problems. Check back next week for tips on spring maintenance for the exterior of your home. 

Image result for spring maintenance

Interior

  • Remove storm windows, install screens
  • Clean and lubricate window channels
  • Clean glass on windows and doors
  • Reverse ceiling fans to direct heat upwards

 

Insulation and Ventilation

  • Test your dehumidifier
  • Check attic for proper ventilation
  • Clean your dryer vent
  • Check vent for birds or other pests

 

Electrical Systems

  • Test all smoke detectors and CO detectors, replace batteries
  • Test and reset your GCFI and AFCI outlets/breakers

 

HVAC

  • Change your filters
  • Hire an HVAC contractor to service your system
  • Install window AC units and ensure proper fit

 

Plumbing

  • Fix all fixtures for leaks
  • Check tile joints, grout, and caulking
  • Remove hoses from storage and open spigots
  • Check faucets and valves for leaks or damage
  • Check washing machine hose

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Tom Stachler is a licensed broker and builder in the Washtenaw area. working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

How to Take Title - Different Forms of Real Estate Ownership

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

5 Types of Property Ownership – Which Is Best for You?

 

A lot of focus is placed on acquiring assets and security by advancing your career and making wise financial investments. However, what is often overlooked is how these assets are titled and the effect on your financial situation.

Unforeseen complications can arise when you have properties and assets titled in ways that create conflict within a family (who gets what or how much) or supersede provisions you make in your will. Also, significant tax benefits can be gained – or lost – depending on the characterization of your property.

In order to avoid complication, it’s prudent to be familiar with the different classifications of ownership.

Forms of Property Ownership

1. Sole Ownership

Sole ownership occurs when a single person owns a complete interest in a property or asset. Ownership is conveyed from one person to another through transfer documents, or by the laws of intestate succession. If the owner passes away, his or her interest in the property or the asset is included in the estate. Estate taxes and probate fees could diminish the value of that property if no other planning has taken place.

One positive is that the beneficiary of the property receives a full step-up in basis value. This means there will be no capital gain to worry about if the heir sells the asset because the heir receives the property at current market value.

For example, if a child inherits his or her parents’ Home when the current market value is $500,000, that child’s tax basis in the property will be $500,000, even if the parents’ basis was only $250,000 (meaning that the house was bought for $250,000). In this way, the child avoids capital gains of $250,000 if he or she sells. That said, the current market value of the home is included in the value of the deceased’s estate.

2. Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is when two or more persons share equal, undivided interests in property. Joint tenancy is not limited to spouses – anyone can share joint interests, but there is a tax benefit when this arrangement is shared only between husband and wife (qualified joint tenancy). When an asset is owned by spouses, the value of the deceased spouse’s property passes to the surviving spouse with no probate and no tax consequences. This is similar to the process of joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (JTWROS).

A joint property interest cannot be passed through traditional documents, such as a trust or a will. If one owner dies, then the ownership interest passes directly to the surviving owner.

However, when the owners are not married, the entire value of the property is included in the deceased’s estate. In addition, the property must go through the probate process. This can catch people off guard, and underscores why you need to learn about the different forms of ownership.

It is intuitive to think that only the deceased’s share of the assets would be included in the estate, but this is not the case if the asset is held in joint tenancy. As a result, other ownership forms must be utilized to minimize taxes and avoid probate. If you are not married to the person with whom you are planning to share joint ownership of an asset, then joint tenancy is likely not the best type of ownership for the assets.

3. Joint Tenancy With Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS)

Another form of co-ownership of property is joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. Joint tenants also have an undivided right to the enjoyment of the property. When a joint tenant dies, that person’s interest passes on to the remaining joint owners. However, while a joint tenant is alive, he or she can transfer interest to another person.

For example, a father leaves a vacation home to his three children, Tom, Sara, and David, with the house under a JTWROS ownership status between them. Tom dies first, and the home is now owned by Sara and David completely and equally. Tom’s interest does not pass to any heirs. When Sara dies, David owns the vacation home completely. The ownership interest passes without going through probate.

There a few different tax scenarios in JTWROS. Using the above example, as each person passes, other owners receive a step-up in value only on the deceased’s portion of the property. So if the owners sell the property, they will still have capital gains on their portion of the asset. This can have serious consequences in situations where the surviving owners decide to sell the asset.

4. Tenancy in Common

Tenants in common own an undivided interest in property between two or more people. However, unlike other forms of joint ownership, these interests can be owned in different percentages.

A tenant in common can pass his or her interest to others with traditional documents. However, the interest does not pass on to the other owners by law – meaning, if three people own a vacation home as tenants in common and one owner dies, that person’s ownership interest does not automatically pass on to the other owners. In addition, the deceased’s interests do go through probate, unlike JTWROS. This can cause problems if the other owners wish to put the property up for sale, as they will not be able to do so until the probate process is complete.

Once probate is finished, taxes are handled in the following manner: The deceased’s interest in the property goes to his or her heirs, and the heirs receive that interest at a stepped-up basis, or current market value. The value of the deceased’s interest is included in his or her estate. If the property is sold, then taxes will be based on the entire value of the property, which means that even though the owners can apportion their percentage of profit/loss on their tax returns, the IRS can come after everyone if just one owner does not pay his or her portion of taxes on the gain.

 

5. Community Property

Currently, 10 states have community property laws: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In a community property state, any assets or income obtained during a marriage are not owned solely by either spouse. It is considered part of the “community” of the marriage, and thus each spouse owns an equal share. Each spouse can choose to leave his or her share of the assets to one or more designated heirs upon death. There are no restrictions on how each spouse can give away his or her half of the community property (upon death), and there is no law requiring one person to leave his or her half to the surviving spouse.

For example, in his will, a remarried man could leave his part of the community property to his ex-wife, and there is nothing his current wife can do about it. However, if he wanted to convey ownership interest to his ex-wife or anyone else while he is still alive, he would need the consent of his current wife.

Or, if a man remarries in California, while he is alive he cannot transfer interest in his house or investments held jointly with his new spouse to his children mothered by his first wife. However, he can declare in his will to have his share transfer to his children when he dies. If his new wife does not want that to happen, she has little to no recourse to prevent it.

Moving to a new state that is not a community property state does not nullify the community property status, nor does separation. Legally, you are still married, and so the estranged spouse still has community property on any assets acquired. Divorce is the only thing that can sever any new assets from being included as community property.

Exceptions to the community property rules are property acquired prior to a new marriage (if in a community property state – this is separate property), property acquired as an individual prior to moving to a community property state, and property obtained via gift or inheritance during the marriage.

For estate purposes, the deceased’s share of community property is included in probate. If a stock portfolio is valued at $500,000, then $250,000 will be included in probate for the deceased spouse, though some states (such as California) have different rules.

The beneficiary of the property interest receives a stepped-up basis on that portion of the property. It is important to remember that the beneficiary can be chosen by the deceased – this is in contrast to joint tenancy (and JTWROS) under which the surviving joint tenant (or tenants) automatically inherit the interest of the deceased. As spouses, it is not necessary to write in a rights of survivorship clause.

Final Word

All too often, people do not understand the differences and ramifications of the various forms of ownership until it is too late to change them. For example, in an age where divorce rates are high and remarriage common, knowing that you are in a community property state is key. It’s also prudent to know which forms of property go through probate and which do not to avoid the complications and expense of probate. As you move down the road of life and build your assets, consult a professional to create a detailed, personalized plan that addresses your needs and eases the process of inheritance for your loved ones.

Do you own property? What type of ownership is it under?

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Tom Stachler is a licensed Michigan Real Estate Broker selling property in the Saline, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Dexter and surrounding communities.  Please reach out to us today for additional real estate resources or properties both Residential, Income, Vacant or commercial realty types.  

Is Your House Affecting Your Love Life?

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

In lieu of Valentine’s Day, we’ve dug into the truth of whether your current housing situation is helping or hurting your love life. Does homeownership = marriage material? Are your roommates or parents affecting your romantic relationships? 

 

The website house Method surveyed single men and women about deal breakers and turn-offs of a dating prospect's Home. If you're not having luck in the love department, your living situation could be the culprit. 

 

Here is a fact: For the first time in 130 years, more young adults live with their parents than live with partners.  In fact, 32% of adults aged 18–34 live with their parents.

 

With so many young adults living with parents, is the dating pool accepting the situation? Well, more than 83% of women surveyed say that they would not date a partner who lives with their parents, and 63% of men say the same.

 

What about roommates? Only 20 percent of women say that a partner having a roommate is a deal breaker in a dating relationship, while 39 percent of men say that a roommate situation would be enough to call it off.

If you live on your own and are still not attracting the right partner, it could be what is inside your home. Women and men seem to have similar turn offs. Women and men alike don't like seeing guns on display and a junky home both ranking as the two highest no-nos. Ranking in the middle of highest turn offs for both sexes is empty alcohol bottles and politically affiliated decor. At the bottom, 5th biggest turn-off, lies a difference for men and women. Women don't like Disney paraphernalia while men don't like to see small pets (like a hamster or gerbil). Now, we're not saying get rid of your pet, but perhaps if you have a messy home or weapons out, work on getting those issues handled before your next date. 

 

Happy Valentine's Day!

 

 

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Saline, Ann Arbor and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please click the helpful Links here for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for this area's best real estate brokers.

 

 

 

Extreme Cold Weather Safety Tips

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

How to Keep Warm in Your Home

 

 
 
  • Have your furnace inspected before cold weather arrives. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a new air filter, and check the thermostat to see if it’s working properly.
  • Inspect fireplaces, and chimneys before using, and make sure they are clean.
  • Keep drapes and blinds closed, unless windows are in direct sunlight.
  • Put up storm windows, or install sheet plastic window insulation kits on the inside of windows.
  • Cover or remove any window air conditioners.
  • Insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals available at home centers.
  • Caulk any cracks or holes on the outside of your house.
  • Repair or replace weather stripping and areas around doors and windows.
  • Run ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air around the house.
  • Put draft snakes on window sills, between window frames, and against doors- anything with openings.
  • If you heat with propane or fuel oil, make sure the tank is full.
  • If you heat with wood or coal, have plenty of fuel on hand.

House surrounded by snow

How to Stay Safe in an Ice or Snow Storm

 
 
  • Stockpile nonperishable food and water.
  • Refill prescription medications in advance of storm.
  • Fill car with gas. Have a snow brush in the vehicle. 
  • Charge cell phones fully.
  • Have flashlights, batteries, non-perishable foods, and a manual can opener on hand.
  • A portable generator can come in handy if the lights go out, but take precautions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when using.
  • Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and the batteries powering them will last.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.
  • A chain saw can come in handy for removing broken limbs after an ice storm.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Easy Living Room Design Ideas for the New Year

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Easy Living Room Design Ideas for the New Year

home staging
 

Some of us watch TV every night in our living rooms, while for some, the living room is strictly for entertaining company. Whatever role your living room plays in your Home, odds are good that it’s due for an update — or at least a little freshening up! Once the holidays are over, many of us fall into a bit of a post-holiday funk, and a living room re-do can be just the thing to lift your spirits and provide an indoor project to see you through the cold and gloom of January and February weekends. The best part? You don’t necessarily need a big budget to make noticeable — and stylish — living room design changes!

 

Low-Budget Living Room Design Updates

Even if the most you can see your way clear to spend is $100, you can still make some high-impact changes to your room. Here’s a little inspiration …

 
 
  • De-clutter! This will make your living room look and feel larger and won’t cost you anything but your time.
  • Paint an accent wall in a beautiful color. (Bear in mind that this wall will stand out, so make sure it’s a wall that’s behind a piece of furniture you love, showcasing a nice piece of artwork or one with an architectural feature like a fireplace.)
  • Rearrange the furniture — especially if it’s currently lining the walls. Push furniture more towards the center of the room (if space allows) to create a conversational grouping, and an instant update that again, costs you nothing!
  • Update the lighting. Many people treat lighting as an afterthought, but good living room lighting can completely transform the look of a room. Make sure that you include an ambient (overhead) source of light, some task lighting (a reading lamp or two), and some accent lighting to create some mood.

Got between $200 and $300 to spend? You can build on the inexpensive (or free) stuff listed above to spruce up your living room design  …

  • Buy a piece of art that adds color and that makes you happy whenever you look at it. If it’s opposite a window, make sure to ask for non-glare glass so it won’t reflect the outdoors during the daylight hours.
  • Add a large houseplant in a really nice pot. A distinctive plant visually warms up a room and it’s good for the air quality too, which is important during the winter months!

Pricier Updates

If you’ve got your heart set on a completely new look but your budget can’t handle the strain, relax. You can stretch the project over the entire winter, so focus on making one change at a time and don’t sweat making slower progress than you would if you had a few thousand dollars to spare! Some examples …

 
  • Spring for new window treatments. Depending on what you choose, you can make your living room look more formal, more casual, more modern, or just more colorful.
  • Add some colorful throw pillows in nice fabrics. Mix patterns and solids, or go for a bolder look by mixing patterns (large with small) that are unified by similar hues. Add a soft throw for even more texture.
  • Add a beautiful new area rug — and make sure it’s big enough so that at least the front legs of your sofa and side chairs fit on it. (A too small area rug is an oh-so-common decorating mistake that makes interior designers cringe!)
  • Update a piece of furniture. If you can’t afford a new sofa and your current one is still in good shape, consider having it reupholstered or covering it with a custom-made slipcover.

Keep in mind that pricier living room design updates can be done in stages. Even if it takes you months — or even years — to accomplish all of your living room decorating updates, you’ll end up with a beautiful new living room that’ll make you and your family happy and comfortable for years to come!

Tom Stachler is a licensed Real Estate Broker specializing in the Ann Arbor, Saline, Dexter, Ypsilanti and surrounding markets.  Please stop check out the helpful Links above for more information.  

5 Tips to Reduce Your Home’s Holiday Energy Consumption

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

5 Tips to Reduce Your Home’s Holiday Energy Consumption

 

holiday energy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The smell of pine and cinnamon, cookies baking in the oven, lights twinkling inside and outside your home, and…

An enormous electric bill. Ouch.

The holidays in America are known for being a little over the top, and excessive energy consumption from lights, decorations and appliances are no exception. While it may be exciting to make your house light up like a beacon that can be seen from outer space, it’s not actually that great for your wallet (or the planet, for that matter).

If you’re thinking about having a greener holiday season, try the following tips:

Use Better Lights
Based on a report from WIRED, Americans spend an extra $233 million on utility bills each year because of holiday lights. To keep your energy consumption in check this season, try LED or energy-efficient bulbs instead of traditional ones. Incandescent lights draw up to 90 percent more watts than LED lights, so switching to LED strands—or going with wreaths, bows and lawn ornaments that don’t use energy—can save you a ton.

Use Smart Plugs
It’s easy to forget to unplug decorations and lights, but doing so can make a real ding in your monthly budget. That’s where smart plugs come in handy. Smart plugs monitor your energy usage and break it down into an easy report each month so that you know exactly how much energy your holiday decorations consume.

Some smart plugs can also be programmed to run on a timer or manually from an app on your smart device. When you’re toasty in bed, you can turn off your lights to save on energy. Plus, if you’re away on vacation, you can pull a "Home Alone" and make it look like you’re home, which can help deter holiday theft.

Cook Wisely and in Batches
Holiday cooking is one of the best parts of the season. (Hello, pumpkin pie.) But, firing up the oven and stove accounts for 4.5 percent of your home’s energy consumption, and that number jumps to 15 percent if you add in the energy your fridge and other kitchen appliances consume. This season, when you’re making lots of cookies, roasts and goodies, remember to bake in batches so you don’t waste energy heating and re-heating the oven.

Also, use appropriately-sized cookware. Glass or ceramic pots and pans can be heated to 25 degrees less than recipes recommend, and cast iron retains heat easier, making these types of cookware a good option to help you save more on energy costs. You can even go green entirely by making recipes that require low or no energy to prepare. And don’t forget that the oven will act as a temporary space heater when you're cooking, so be sure to turn down your thermostat.

Light a Fire
A roasting fire is a festive holiday accessory—and it’s a great way to cut down on grid-powered electricity this season. Fireplaces can actually be an eco-friendly (and super cozy) way to heat your home. You don’t even need chestnuts to get the full effect.

As you’re doing this, try keeping your thermostat 7 - 10 degrees cooler than normal for eight hours per day to save up to 10 percent on your utility bills. For example, you could turn your thermostat down early in the morning and at night, then turn it up during the day. It’s sweater weather after all, so bundle up and let a fire warm you.

Use Your Foyer Wisely
The more the merrier, but when guests come and go for the holidays, your home can lose a lot of heat through the opening and shutting of doors. Try adding a draft-blocking device to insulate your home. You should also open other doors inside your home to increase proper air circulation and make it easier for your furnace to heat the space.

Trying to make your home eco-friendly through the holidays doesn’t have to be a burden. In fact, besides saving you some serious change and reducing your carbon footprint, it can actually be a holiday mood booster as you make things more nostalgic and cozy. Who knows? You might even create a new holiday tradition.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Start Your Home Maintenance Before the Holidays

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
  1. Wake your heating system from hibernation.
    No homeowner wants to wake up seeing their own breath because the furnace broke down in the middle of the night. Schedule a furnace check-up now with a heating system professional to ensure everything is running properly and that your system meets the manufacturer’s rated efficiency. One of the biggest causes of wasted energy is restricted air flow to the heating system, so have a contractor check that the filters and coils are allowing for enough air flow. Getting ahead of this issue will help you avoid appointment delays during the busy winter season and give you peace of mind.
  1. Give your gutters a fresh start.
    Leaves, twigs and other debris can easily clog gutters, which can lead to ice dams. Ice dams cause melting water to back up and flow into the house, resulting in a very expensive repair. Save yourself the money and trouble by thoroughly cleaning out your gutters after the leaves have fallen. Make sure to tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn sections before it’s too late. Check that downspouts extend at least five feet away from the foundation. If they don’t, buy an inexpensive extension.
  1. Mind the gaps.
    Walk around the inside and outside of your home and check it for air tightness, carefully looking for any signs of cracks where air could leak out, as this can be a significant source of energy loss. An inexpensive tube of caulk can help seal the leaks and also help prevent moisture from getting inside the walls of your home. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls or floors.
  1. Get smart—a smart thermostat, that is.
    The Wi-Fi rage is real, especially when it comes to your thermostat. If you still have a manual thermostat or even a programmable one, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Today’s models can learn your living patterns, heat only rooms that are occupied, turn up the heat as you near your home, allow you to make adjustments remotely from your phone, and much more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent a year in energy usage (and on your utility bills) by making smart adjustments to your thermostat.
  1. Double-check doors
    Inspect all doors that open to the outside or to the attic and be sure that they close tightly. An easy way to check for air leaks: place a piece of tissue in a clothespin, hold it at various points along the doorway and watch for any movement near the edge of the door and the frame. If you have a leak, take a photo of your door and door jamb, and ask an employee at your local hardware store for help finding the right weatherstripping or door sweeps. Air leaks cause your heating system to work harder, which costs you more money on your utility bills—and can shorten the lifespan of your system. 

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

Preparing Your Home for Winter

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
 

Q: What can homeowners do to ensure their Home is well prepared and more energy-efficient throughout the coming months?

A: Fall officially begins this month and Tom Stachler with Real Estate One in Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan areas offers the following home maintenance tips.


Gutters and Downspouts - Roof
Inspect the roof covering and flashing from the ground for indicators of wear, like missing, loose or cracked shingles or tiles. Water can seep into these areas and cause damage if left unattended. Contact a professional roofer for repair or a replacement evaluation if water intrusion is occurring or suspected.

Gutters and downspouts are critical in protecting your home from water damage. Fall is one of the most important times to check your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re not rusted, rotted, disconnected or full of debris.

Fireplace
Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney, fireplace and vents at least once per year, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. A do-it-yourself inspection for creosote buildup can be performed by wearing goggles and a basic disposable dust mask. Take a flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface above the damper (smoke chamber). If the groove you scratch is paper thin, no cleaning is needed. If it’s 1/8 inch thick, schedule a cleaning. If you have 1/4 inch of creosote, don’t use the fireplace until it’s cleaned—a chimney fire could occur at any time.


Ensure that all supply and return vents aren’t blocked or closed, as this causes the return duct to pull in cold air from cracks in windows and doors. In addition, the warm air that’s still trying to push up through closed vents will either start to leak out ducts that aren’t sealed properly, or be forced back down into your basement or floor cavities.HVAC
Get your furnace cleaned and serviced by a professional before the heating season begins. Also, clean or replace your furnace filters as recommended throughout the year. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.

Trees and Bushes
Trimming trees and bushes provides many advantages to your home’s exterior. Trim so that all leaves and limbs are at least three feet away from your house. This prevents them from hitting the sides of your house when it’s windy, decreasing the amount of leaves and debris that will end up in your gutters.


Windows and Doors
Cracks in the seals around windows and doors allow heated or cooled air to escape, which can cost you money. Caulking and weatherstripping can wear over time, so check the seals around your windows and doors. One of the easiest ways to diagnose this issue is to close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. If the flame flickers at any spot, you likely have an air leak. Replace or add caulk or weatherstripping where needed.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home

 

Custom white toned master bathroom with jacuzzi tubBefore you move into your new house, you may want to make upgrades. These add value to your investment, improve your home's function and allow you to express your personality. Plus, making upgrades before you move in reduces inconvenience later. Consider the following upgrades to make your new house feel like home.

1. Enhance the Kitchen

Quality kitchen upgrades ensure this room meets your family's needs, and they add value to your home. Consider several changes that improve the quality and function of your kitchen.

  • Get high-end, energy or water saving appliances.
  • Lower the bar counter from 42 to 36 inches so it's more accessible.
  • Install quartz countertops.
  • Add lighting under the counters.
  • Choose matching fixtures and hardware.

Worried about staying on budget while renovating the most expensive room in the house? It costs the average homeowner between $12,500 and $33,500 for a full kitchen remodel.

2. Redo the Flooring

It's definitely easier and more affordable to upgrade a house's flooring before you arrange all the furniture. Consider stain-resistant carpeting in high-traffic areas, or install hardwood in connected rooms for a sleek appearance.

3. Update the Bathroom

Spruce up a bathroom already in the house or add an additional bathroom before your move. When renovating a bathroom, consider your current and future needs, such as your family size or entertaining habits. Several possible changes include:

  • Install a double sink.
  • Install a walk-in shower or jacuzzi tub.
  • Choose decorative shower, floor, or wall tile.
  • Customize the lighting or fixtures.
  • Hang extra shelves for storage.

4. Bring in New Cabinetry

Before you unpack all your possessions, install new cabinetry that helps you get and stay organized. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets have a big effect on your home's function and appearance. Choose cabinet finishes and designs that match your personal style and color scheme. You can hang the old cabinets in the garage or attic to expand your storage space.

5. Update Electrical Wiring

Older houses may have outdated wiring or you may find that you need additional outlets in certain rooms. Walk through your house, visualize how you will use each room and plan any electrical wiring updates. With help from an electrician, you can add outlets in the living room to accommodate your gaming systems or wire the den ceiling for a new fan.

6. Wire for Internet Service

Improve security and speed in your new home with wired internet throughout the house. It allows you to install and use a variety of electronics, including security cameras, in any room. Full-house wired internet also prevents outside users and hackers from accessing your network and potentially harming your family.

7. Add Lots of Storage

Getting extra storage throughout your house before you move helps you completely unpack and organize your home the way you want. The price of installing a new closet is about $1,800,  Choose from a variety of cabinet types, shelving, and overhead storage designs and materials that match your needs and preferences.

8. Transform the Laundry Room

While you probably plan to use your laundry room primarily for laundry, you may wish to transform it into a functioning pantry, drop zone or mud room. Rearrange the washing machine and dryer hookup to make room for pantry storage. Consider adding a bench and hooks for shoes, backpacks and umbrellas, too.

Tom Stachler is a Michigan licensed real estate Broker and Builder working in the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter Real Estate markets.  Please refer to the helpful Links above for more information about Buying or selling real estate, homes and condos when searching for one of the area's best real estate brokers. 

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