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Ways to Stay Cool in Your Home Without A/C

Summer’s can be rough if you are not fortunate enough to live in an air-conditioned home. If you are one of those people, you looking for some ways to beat the extreme heat that we have been seeing across the Midwest/east coast.

Here are some ideas on how to cool down your home to avoid overheating during these hot, humid days.

  1. Cover your furniture
    A great way to make your furniture more comfortable is to cover it with smooth, light-colored fabric.  Put a smooth light-colored fabric on your couch. Cover your pillows with satin pillow cases. You want a cool surface against your skin – not cozy knits.
  2. Hang out in your basement (or lowest level of your home)
    Plan activities that take place in the lower level of your home, even if it’s just hanging out or reading. Warm air rises so your coolest place is going to be on the lowest level, closest to the ground.
  3. Suck up cooler air with a fan
    Set up a portable fan so that it sucks up the cooler air from the floor below and blows the hot air towards the ceiling. Another great idea is to purchase a window fan. These usually have inside and outside air exchanges so you can control the direction the air blows. You can also turn on the vent fan on your stove to draw hot air up out of the house.
  4. Close your blinds and curtains
    Block the sun’s heat during the day but keeping all of your blinds and curtains closed. When it cools down at night, open up your windows to let some of the cooler air into your home.
  5. Turn off all sources of heat.
    Try not to use your stove or oven to cook food. Make a cool, crisp salad or a hearty sandwich. Even the microwave can throw off heat so it’s good to try to use that minimally as well. Make sure to turn off your lamps, tv and computer when you’re not using it. You should even unplug your power adapters, as some give off heat as well.

I hope you are all staying cool and that these tips will help you do so. We are supposed to be able to relax and enjoy being in our home, not sweating to
death.

Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!

-Cheryl

7 Tips for Buying in a Down Market

It’s very important that you know the difference between avoiding an impulse buy and jumping on a great deal. Knowing the difference could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

I found some great tips from Investopedia that will help guide you through the appropriate steps to take when looking to buy a home in this down market.

  1. Do Your Homework
    Search the internet and local newspapers for listings. Inquire with a real estate
    agent to help you narrow down your options. Your main goal is to get to know
    the price range for the area you are looking to live in. Get a sense of what a
    “low price” is for that neighborhood.
  2. Get Your Ducks in a Row
    Make sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you even start the house hunt.
    There’s no sense in falling in love with a property you can’t afford or
    settling for something you THINK is all you can afford when really you can get
    approved for more.
  3. Watch for Motivated Sellers
    If the home has been on the market for awhile, chances are the seller is going to
    want to get rid of the house as soon as possible. Upon finding a property in
    this situation, ask the seller to cover closing costs or make some upgrades.
    Never be afraid to offer lower than the listing price either.
  4. Negotiate with a Realtor
    Be sure to ask your real estate agent to reduce the cost of the home. While houses
    are selling at a slow pace, many realtors are struggling. Both agents and firms
    may be more inclined to knock a percentage or two off their commission to close
    a deal.
  5. Make Sure you have a Clear Title
    To avoid inheriting any liabilities, have a title insurance company perform a
    title search to make sure there are no liens on the property and that it can be
    transferred.
  6. Avoid a Bidding War
    Do not let your emotions get the best of you. We are in a down market, which is
    all about getting a good deal, so if you are in a bidding war, set a price
    limit and stick to it. There are plenty of homes out there!
  7. Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
    There are always many choices in a down market so keep that in mind. If you are not
    getting the deal you feel you deserve, do not be afraid to walk away and look
    at other homes out there.

I hope these tips help you in your home buying process! If you have any questions or are looking for advice, please feel free to contact me directly and I would be more than happy to help you!

-Cheryl

Summerize Your Home with These Great Decor Tips!

Now that we are all in the groove of summer, it’s time to take a look at our home décor. I always like to change up my decorations and themes for the season and now that the fruit is ripe and the flowers are blossoming, the time is now.

About.com gave some great ideas on how to bring the fresh look of summer into your home. We don’t all have the luxury of relaxing at the beach house so let’s brighten up our home instead!

Here are the easy changes About.com suggested to “summerize” your home:

·        Take out any dark accessories
Lets stash away the fleece throws and wool covers that have kept us warm and cozy during the winter months. These are dark and heavy and that’s not what the appeal we want our home to have in the summer.

·        Choose a fresh color scheme
Brighten up your walls by choosing a yellow, orange or light blue to bring those fresh hues out throughout your home

·        Bringin fresh plants
Stop trying to revive the winter plants that are brown and droopy. Go pick up some fresh, bright blooming indoor plants and set them throughout your house.

·        Freshen the look up an upholstered seat
Sew a simple slipcover for your dining room chairs to bring that bright cheery feel to the dinner table.

·        Bring in the white
Add white wherever you can all throughout your home. It will brighten your entire place giving it a whole new feel. Curtains, trims, paint, flowers, anything!

·        Summer wall and standing decor
Frame some simple botanical prints or landscapes and hang them throughout your home and set them up on a bookshelf and table top.

·        Go all natural and casual
Nothing says summer like natural finishes on casual décor and furniture. Use wicker, bamboo, cast iron, or painted white garden furniture in place of heavyupholstered pieces. Add colorful pillows for a nice touch.

·        Recharge your fireplace
Remove the dried/burned logs from your fireplace and replace them with a beautiful fountain. Replace your brass fire screen with painted hinged shuttersor a piece of rusted, painted iron gate.

·        Raid the flea markets
Shop at flea markets and garage sales for garden ornaments, flowery dinnerware, and other accessories to add to your summer decor.

·        Choose a summer theme
Whether it be flowers, tropical, beach or fruits, choose one theme and decorate around it. Have a focus and stick with it!

I hope these great suggestions help you “summerize” your home!

-Cheryl

Buy a home without help from Mom and Dad!

I came across a great article today for first-time homebuyers called “How to buy a home without cash from your parents” and wanted to share some
of the great advice they gave.

Throughout my years in the real estate industry, I have come across many cases where first-time homebuyers have relied on parents and grandparents to help with a down payment and closing costs. In today’s economy, many families are finding it very difficult to make their mortgage payment and cannot even consider helping out their child/grandchild purchase their first home.

So what are the first-time homebuyers to do? Wait until the economy improves and everyone is back on their feet so they can go ask Mom and Dad? I don’t think so.

There’s a combination of ways to save and be able to get into your very first home. Take a look at these options below from Marcie Geffner of Bankrate.com.

Many first-time homebuyers traditionally have relied on parents and grandparents to help with a down payment and closing costs. But today, many older people aren’t in a financial position to offer this assistance to younger family members.

How can would-be buyers afford their first house or condominium on their own? For many buyers, the answer involves a combination of personal savings, a
low-down-payment loan with mortgage insurance, seller-paid closing costs or a first-time homebuyer down-payment assistance program.

Down payment help
It’s okay if you aren’t in a position to save thousands of dollars for a down payment. There are many loan programs out there that allow a small down payment
to make things less stressful.

Check into FHA loans and PMI. I can sit down with you and discuss the difference in this options and together we will find what type of loan best suits your
situation.

First-time buyer tips
If you get help from family or don’t get help, your first step should always be to meet with a lender to find out exactly how much you can borrow. There’s no
sense house-hunting only to find out you can’t afford the properties you were looking at.  This way you know the figure you should be looking at and can plan and search accordingly.

-Cheryl

Are You Barbequing in Celebration of the Fourth of July?

Host a July 4th cookoutWhat are your plans for the Fourth of July? Are you having a barbeque at your house, a park or the beach?

One of the most popular grilling occasions is the Fourth of July. To celebrate one of the biggest grilling days of the year, I wanted to share some grilling tips for the holiday weekend.

I believe that traditional American fare is the only acceptable cuisine for Fourth of July barbeques. Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, fruit – what more do you need?! Let’s celebrate independence traditionally!

Prepping:
Make sure you get all of your grocery shopping done a few days before the party. You can’t go too early because you don’t want the buns to dry out or the
fruit to rot but plan properly so you aren’t doing last minute shopping. This should be a fun experience, not a stressful one. Making items like potato salad
and fruit bowls are nice because you can prepare them ahead of time. Boil the eggs and potatoes the day before and chop up all the veggies. You can also
prepare the fruit bowl the day before to save more time on the day of!

Heating:
Charcoal or gas grill? Either way, make sure you have enough of either to get the grill started and to keep it going all day. You never know who’s going to
stop by or if people are going to want seconds. Always make sure the grill is hot and extra food is prepared.

Vegetables:
Don’t forget side dishes! I love cooking vegetables on the grill because they always turn out absolutely delicious and full of flavor. They are super easy
too – no marinades necessary when you have that great grill flavor cooking into them! The only thing you need to be cautious of is not burning the vegetables.
They tend to cook quickly and are sensitive to high heat so you definitely want to keep a constant eye on them. Also, don’t let them fall through the grates!

By planning your cookout, things will run a lot smoother and stress will be eliminated. Make your grocery list, make what you can ahead of time, and don’t forget the simple things!

Have a wonderful Fourth of July, whatever you may do and be safe!

-Cheryl

 

Buying and Selling When It’s Hot

It’s heating up outside so how do we maximize our buying/selling results in the heat? Here are 5 Summer Real Estate Tips from Jamey Wolbert that will help us attack the summer season. There are typically more active buyers and sellers during the summer months. Here are some tips and trends to make your summer season the most effective.

1. Sellers: Don’t Forget the Outside

During summer, landscaping and outdoor space are especially important aspects of your home sale. Maximize the space by keeping the exterior clean, organized, and inviting. Pressure washing, lawn care, and other regular maintenance tasks can do wonders for your bottom line.

2. Buyers: Don’t Forget the Inside

It can be easy to get swept away by a great fenced lawn, pool, deck, and other exterior features, especially when you are house hunting at the peak of summer. But don’t let visions of outdoor relaxation and entertaining distract you from other essential home features or sway you into overlooking interior concerns.

3. Sellers: Know Your Competition

With more houses on the market, knowing what you are up against is key. Being aware of other homes for sale in your neighborhood can help you define your home’s own weaknesses and strengths. Reviewing information on area listings can also help ensure that you price your home right.

4. Buyers: Remember Your Goals

When a surge of homes come on the market at the start of summer, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options. Don’t lose sight of the features that are most important to you, and try to set reasonable expectations that suit your budget, lifestyle, and overall needs.

5. Everybody: Don’t Get Squeezed by the Season

Even though summer is a prime time for buyers and sellers, don’t let the seasonal time frame become an added stress during your house hunt or home sale. Both buyers and sellers can find success throughout the year!

If you have questions or are looking for more tips, feel free to contact me directly!

Happy Summer!!

Cheryl

Great Tips for Staying Cool this Summer!

Summer has arrived so I wanted to give you a few tips on keeping your home cool. I found great tips from Care2 that should help us all avoid the dreadful overheated home.

  1. Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate
    at night either naturally or with fans.
  2. Use ceiling fans to increase comfort levels at higher thermostat settings.
  3. If you have an older central air conditioner, consider replacing the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit.
    Make sure that it is properly matched to the indoor unit.
  4. If buying a new air conditioner, be sure that it is properly sized. Get assistance from an energy auditor or air conditioning
    contractor.
  5. Try not to use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling
    load and force the air conditioner to work harder.
  6. Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees F or higher if using ceiling fans. Don’t air-condition unused rooms.
  7. Install white window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent.
  8. Close south and west-facing curtains during the day for any window that gets direct sunlight. Keep these windows closed, too.
  9. Provide shade for your room A/C, or the outside half of your central A/C if at all possible. This will increase the unit’s
    efficiency by 5 percent to 10 percent.
  10. Clean your A/C’s air filter every month during cooling season. Normal dust build-up can reduce air flow by 1 percent per week.
  11. Turn off your A/C when you leave for more than an hour.

Hope these help you stay cool this summer!

-Cheryl