Here’s Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist 

by Windermere Staff

The leaves changing color is a sign that you may have some fall home maintenance tasks to tackle. With summer in the rearview and colder temperatures ahead, being proactive now will keep your home in pristine condition throughout the autumn days and nights. We’ve compiled a list of several tasks to tackle around your home this fall.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist 

Clean Gutters

Water damage can spell serious trouble for homeowners. And with many climates experiencing additional rainfall this time of year, it’s time to prepare accordingly.

  • Start by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are functioning properly. (Don’t attempt this task yourself if you have a multi-story house with a steep roof; hire a professional instead.)
  • If your home is surrounded by trees, you may need to clean out your gutters a few times a year, especially in the fall. Check to make sure your gutters are flush with the roof and attached securely, repairing any areas that sag or sections where the water can easily collect and overflow.
  • Clean out the gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape, and are firmly in place. Finally, check that your downspouts direct water away from your house, not straight along the foundation.
  • If you haven’t already, you may want to consider installing gutter guards. Gutter guards create a barrier so water can get through to your gutters, but debris can’t, limiting gutter buildup (and the time you spend cleaning out your gutters). There are DIY installation kits available, or you can always hire a professional to install a gutter guard system.
  • If you have a sump pump under your house, now is a good time to test it. Run a hose to make sure draining water travels directly to the pump and that the pump removes the water efficiently and expels it well away from the foundation. For more information about how sump pumps work, go to howstuffworks.com

Check for Leaks

The best opportunity to catch leaks is the first heavy rain after a long dry spell, when roofing materials are contracted. Check the underside of the roof, looking for signs of moisture on joints or insulation. Mark any leaks that you find and then hire a roofing specialist to repair them. Waiting for leaks to show up on your ceiling is a recipe for disaster. By then, it’s too late to act; insulation and sheet rock will have already sustained damaged, and you could have a mold problem on your hands.

Don’t forget the basement. Check your foundation for cracks, erosion, plants growing inside, broken windows, and gaps in the window and door weatherstripping.  Make sure to properly seal any leaks while the weather is nice. This will ensure materials dry properly.

Fall Home Maintenance: Pest Prevention

Rodents are determined and opportunistic, and they can do tremendous amounts of property damage (and endanger your family’s health). As temperatures cool, take measures to prevent roof rats and other critters from moving in. Branches that touch your house and overhang your roof are convenient on-ramps for invaders, so trim back branches so they’re at least four feet from the house. If you do hear scuttling overhead or discover rodent droppings in your attic, crawl space or basement, take immediate action.

Maintain Your Heating and Cooling Systems 

Preventative maintenance is especially crucial for your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems. Fall is a smart time to have your systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between tune-ups, keep your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters as needed.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, always keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust-composite logs so you have a backup heat source in an emergency.

Insulate & Seal Your Home

Insulating your home is a cost-efficient investment, whether you’re trying to keep the interior warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Aside from more major improvements like energy-efficient windows and insulation, there are some quick fixes and projects that you can tackle DIY.

If an exterior door doesn’t have a snug seal when closed, replace the weather stripping; self-adhesive foam stripping is much simpler to install than traditional vinyl stripping. If there is a gap under the door (which can happen over time as a house settles), you may need to realign it and replace the vinyl door bottom and/or door sweep. Air also sneaks inside through electrical outlets and light switches on exterior walls. Dye-cut foam outlet seals placed behind the wall plates are a quick and inexpensive solution.


­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: svetikd

Selling Your Home: 5 Common Myths

by Sandy Dodge

A heterosexual Black couple discussing the terms of a real estate transaction in their dining room with their real estate agent as they work together to sell their home. The couple’s child sits next to them doing homework.

1. Home Value Calculators Are 100% Accurate

Online Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) are a great starting point for understanding how much your home could be worth. However, they are merely a first step in determining home value; to say they are 100% accurate is a myth. When it comes to pricing your home, you need to rely on your real estate agent’s Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which uses vast amounts of historical and current data on real estate listings to arrive at an accurate and competitive figure.

2. Selling FSBO Will Save You Money

Selling a home requires an intimate knowledge of the housing industry and how to solve the complex situations that arise throughout a real estate transaction. Despite this, some sellers will go it alone and attempt to sell their property without being represented by an agent.

Selling For Sale by Owner (FSBO) is a risky proposition. It requires the seller to bear added liability, fills their schedule with various marketing and promotional responsibilities, and can leave money on the table by inaccurately pricing the property, causing it to sit on the market for too long. The potential costs of selling a home on your own far outweigh the commission real estate agents earn on a home sale.

3. You Must Remodel to Sell Your Home

The question you’ll face when preparing to sell your home is whether to sell as is or remodel. The answer usually lies somewhere in between, but it depends on your situation and what kinds of home upgrades are driving buyer interest locally. When making improvements to your home, lean toward high ROI remodeling projects to get the best bang for your buck, and avoid trendy projects that can delay listing your home. If you’re considering major upscale renovations, talk to your agent about which projects buyers in your area are looking for.

5. Home Staging Doesn’t Make a Big Difference

Staging your home is so much more than a cosmetic touchup; it has been proven to help sell homes faster and at a higher price than non-staged homes.Staging ensures that your home has universal appeal, which attracts the widest possible pool of potential buyers. When buyers are able to easily imagine living in your home, they become more connected to the property. You should stage your home regardless of your local market conditions, but it can be especially helpful in competitive markets with limited inventory where even the slightest edge can make all the difference for sellers.

Buying a Fixer-Upper 

by Sandy Dodge

The exterior of a fixer-upper house with deteriorating white siding. The paint is chipped, the roof shows signs of damage, and the window shutters are cracked and uneven.

For some home buyers, a fixer-upper is their idea of a dream home. However, the process of buying a fixer-upper comes with additional responsibilities compared to properties in better condition or new construction homes. Preparing for the process comes down to creating a remodeling plan, knowing what to look for when searching for listings, and understanding what financing options are available.

Searching For a Fixer-Upper

  • Location: Whether you are purchasing a fixer-upper with plans to sell it, rent it out, or live in it, consider its location before purchasing. If you’re planning on selling or renting, location is one of the most important factors in making a return on your investment. And if you’re planning to live in your fixer-upper, keep in mind that location will be a large part of your experience in the home. If you’re looking to sell eventually, talk to your agent to identify high ROI remodeling projects that will pique buyer interest in your area.
  • Scope of Renovation: If you are looking for a smaller scale renovation, look for listings that require cosmetic projects like new interior and exterior paint, fresh carpeting and flooring, appliance upgrades, and basic landscaping maintenance. More expensive and involved projects include re-roofing, replacing plumbing and sewer lines, replacing HVAC systems, and full-scale room remodels.
  • Inspections: Beyond a standard home inspection, which covers components of the home like its plumbing and foundation, consider specialized inspections for pests, roof certifications, and engineering reports. This will help differentiate between the property’s minor flaws and critical problems, further informing your decision when it comes time to prepare an offer.
The interior of a fixer-upper house with ripped out kitchen cabinets, drywall, and flooring. The kitchen is being completely gutted and remodeled.

Financing Options

You’ll be looking at different types of mortgages when buying a fixer-upper, but keep in mind that renovation loans specifically allow buyers to finance the home and the improvements to the property together. Extra consultations, inspections, and appraisals are often required in the loan process, but they help guide the work and resulting home value. Talk with your lender about which option is best for you.

  • FHA 203(k): The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 203(k) loans can be used for most projects in the process of fixing up a home. In comparison to conventional mortgages, they may accept lower incomes and credit scores for qualified borrowers. 
  • VA renovation loan: With this loan, the home improvement costs are combined into the loan amount for the home purchase. Contractors employed in any renovations must be VA-approved and appraisers involved in the appraisal process must be VA-certified.
  • HomeStyle Loan – Fannie Mae: The HomeStyle Renovation Loan can be used by buyers purchasing a fixer-upper, or by homeowners refinancing their homes to cover the improvements. This loan also allows for luxury projects, such as pools and landscaping.
  • CHOICERenovation Loan – Freddie Mac: This renovation mortgage is guaranteed through Freddie Mac, allowing projects that bolster a home’s ability to withstand natural disasters or repair damage caused by a past disaster. 

How to Declutter Before Selling Your Home

by Sandy Dodge

A woman starts to declutter before selling her home. She is organizing items in the living room. She holds a small pile of winter clothing and prepares to place it in a box labeled “donation” on the floor.

To sell your home for the best price, it needs to be in pristine condition. You’ll work with your agent to identify high-ROI remodeling projects and various ways to improve the property, but all that is a moot point if you don’t declutter before selling your home. Here are some helpful tips to get started.

Declutter Before Selling Your Home

Getting your home cleaned up and organized is a precursor to capturing appealing listing photos and having successful open houses. You’ll be opening your doors to crowds of interested buyers, and it’s essential that your home feels like a place they want to live. Decluttering will also get you prepared for home staging, whether you’re hiring a professional or staging your home DIY. All these preparatory measures work together to make your home as appealing as possible to a wide pool of buyers.

Decluttering also helps to kickstart the transition of moving out. Homeowners are attached to their homes, and the selling process can bring a lot of those emotions to the surface. By going through your home room by room, sorting through your possessions and paring them down, you’re simultaneously beginning to process the life changes in your near future. Plus, by getting an early jump on organizing your home, it will make moving day a whole lot easier.

For buyers, space equals opportunity, so a tidy, uncluttered home allows them to fill it with their imagination. As such, it’s crucial that buyers see decluttered, spacious areas when they walk into your home or browse through listing photos online.

A young Caucasian woman starts to declutter before selling her home. She places books into a box labeled “donation books” in her home office.

How to Declutter Your Home

Take a deep breath; your decluttering doesn’t have to get done all in one sitting. Tackle your home room by room, taking stock of items as you go. The tried-and-true home organization method of keeping boxes labeled “donate,” “keep,” and “throw away” applies here. Separating items by their destinations will help you reduce piles of clutter in no time.

To properly declutter before selling, consider your moving timeline. Between your discussions with your agent and your preparations for your next home, moving day can go from a seemingly distant point in the future to tomorrow in a hurry. Planning a yard sale can help to give yourself a specific deadline by which you need to have finished giving the house a clean sweep.

Emphasize tidiness in small and narrow areas such as hallways, closets, and storage rooms and consider hanging mirrors to make these areas feel less cramped. These little tricks of the trade can help to give the impression that even the spatially limited areas of your home feel bigger. Scrub, wash, and dust the house top to bottom, even the commonly missed cleaning spots. A home that’s sparkling clean is more welcoming to buyers.

10 Important People in the Home Buying Process

by Sandy Dodge

An older heterosexual Caucasian couple talks to an important person during their home buying process, their real estate agent. The real estate agent smiles as they review the terms of a real estate contract.

It takes a village to purchase a home. Though it’s ultimately you who is paying for the property, successfully purchasing a home is a result of several people’s contributions. It helps to know who these individuals are, how they responsibilities pertain to your home purchase, and when you’ll encounter them during your journey. Here are ten important people to keep in mind during the process of buying a home.

10 Important People in the Home Buying Process

1. Real Estate Agent

You’ll be represented by a buyer’s agent throughout the home buying process. Their access to resources and their specialized knowledge will help you find the home you’re looking for and make an offer to the seller. They will be by your side from day one, through closing and beyond. When searching for a real estate agent, ask questions to gain an understanding of their professional expertise as well as their personality. You’ll be working closely together throughout the process, so it’s important to identify someone who is compatible.

2. Mortgage Lender

You need financing to buy a home. Mortgage lenders offer different home loans to match what buyers can afford and what homes they’re looking to purchase. After identifying which lender you’d like to work with, a helpful first step is to get pre-approved for a mortgage by submitting financial information for their review. This helps to speed up the home buying process and solidifies your offer by demonstrating that you’re ready to buy.

3. Mortgage Broker

Your mortgage broker will work with you to find favorable mortgage terms for your home loan. Whereas your real estate agent works with you to find a home and communicates with the seller on your behalf, your mortgage broker works on the financial side of the transaction. Once you’ve chosen the right loan product, they’ll hand things off to the lender.

4. Underwriter

Another key player in the mortgage process is the underwriter. Underwriters review mortgage applications, looking at credit history to assess your ability to pay your loan. A mortgage loan doesn’t get the green light without an underwriter’s approval; if they find any issues, they’ll either deny the loan or require the applicant to provide more information before deciding.

5. Home Inspector

The home inspection is key to the home buying process. It gives you a chance to get a thorough examination of the home to discover which repairs need addressing, if any. The findings of the home inspector’s report will set the table for continued negotiations with the seller and their agent. Buyers will often include a home inspection contingency in their offer to allow for renegotiation or canceling the contract entirely.

A Caucasian man home inspector works during the home buying process. He shines a flashlight at plumbing pipes in the basement.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Jupiter Images

6. Home Appraiser

A professional appraiser will determine a home’s appraised value, which ensures that the lender is loaning the correct amount of money. Home appraisers are third parties to real estate transactions; they have no vested interest in either side of the deal. The home’s square footage, features, and condition all factor into their assessment. If there’s a discrepancy between a home’s appraised value and the loan amount, you and the seller will go back into negotiations.

7. Seller

It takes two to tango. The seller is your counterpart in the home buying process, and they want to sell their home for the best price to the right buyer. Accordingly, you’ll work with your agent on how to make an offer that’s most appealing to the seller. This looks different for each real estate transaction. For example, if you find yourself in a bidding war, the seller may value offers that show flexibility toward the inspection and contingencies. Talk to your agent for more information.

8. Listing Agent

The listing agent represents the seller. Your agent will work with them to iron out the details of your offer and move the deal along toward completion. After the home inspection, the listing agent will also be the main point of contact for any repair requests.

9. Title Company

Before the home is officially yours, a title company will conduct a search of the property’s history and public records to make sure its title is in good legal standing. Titles and deeds have very specific language that makes the transfer of ownership official. Title companies will make sure that everything in these documents is properly recorded during the closing process.

10. Homeowners Insurance Company

Once you’ve purchased a home, you need to protect it. Homeowners insurance policies cover your home, your belongings, injury, or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are temporarily displaced from your home due to an insured disaster. The coverage you’ll need will depend on your home’s location and condition, but what’s most important is that you’re fully protected as a homeowner.

A Caucasian man home inspector works during the home buying process. He shines a flashlight at plumbing pipes in the basement.

6. Home Appraiser

A professional appraiser will determine a home’s appraised value, which ensures that the lender is loaning the correct amount of money. Home appraisers are third parties to real estate transactions; they have no vested interest in either side of the deal. The home’s square footage, features, and condition all factor into their assessment. If there’s a discrepancy between a home’s appraised value and the loan amount, you and the seller will go back into negotiations.

7. Seller

It takes two to tango. The seller is your counterpart in the home buying process, and they want to sell their home for the best price to the right buyer. Accordingly, you’ll work with your agent on how to make an offer that’s most appealing to the seller. This looks different for each real estate transaction. For example, if you find yourself in a bidding war, the seller may value offers that show flexibility toward the inspection and contingencies. Talk to your agent for more information.

8. Listing Agent

The listing agent represents the seller. Your agent will work with them to iron out the details of your offer and move the deal along toward completion. After the home inspection, the listing agent will also be the main point of contact for any repair requests.

9. Title Company

Before the home is officially yours, a title company will conduct a search of the property’s history and public records to make sure its title is in good legal standing. Titles and deeds have very specific language that makes the transfer of ownership official. Title companies will make sure that everything in these documents is properly recorded during the closing process.

10. Homeowners Insurance Company

Once you’ve purchased a home, you need to protect it. Homeowners insurance policies cover your home, your belongings, injury, or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are temporarily displaced from your home due to an insured disaster. The coverage you’ll need will depend on your home’s location and condition, but what’s most important is that you’re fully protected as a homeowner.

The Different Types of Home Loans for Buyers 

by Sandy Dodge

A woman sits down with her mortgage broker to look over different types of home loans.

Financing terms are the nuts and bolts of a successful home purchase. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to buy a house, it’s a matter of making the numbers work. So, which home loan is the right one for you? Knowing the different types of mortgage loans available to you will allow you to pinpoint the one that best fits your needs and is financially viable.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are the most popular type of home loan issued to borrowers. Offered by private lenders, they are not backed by the government. Conventional mortgages divide into two subsets: conforming loans; which adhere to Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA) guidelines, and non-conforming loans; which do not. Due to the added risk taken on by the lender, non-conforming loans typically have higher rates. A jumbo loan is an example of a non-conforming loan, due to its loan amounts being higher than the amount limits laid out in the underwriting guidelines. The two most common conventional loans are 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages.

15-Year and 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgages 

The terms of your loan will drastically impact all aspects of your mortgage. With a 30-year mortgage, you’ll have lower monthly payments and a higher interest rate than you’d have with a 15-year mortgage, meaning you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. With a 15-year mortgage, you’ll pay less interest, but you’ll have a higher monthly payment. Compared to a 30-year mortgage, a 15-year mortgage can save you money over the life of the loan, simply because you’re in debt for half the time; however, the higher monthly payments may be unaffordable for some.A woman sits at a table signing her mortgage paperwork.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: guvendemir

Government-Backed Loans

Whereas conventional loans are not backed by a federal entity, there are several unconventional loans that are backed by the U.S. government. These unconventional loans can often provide a path to homeownership for borrowers who don’t have the credentials to qualify for a conventional loan.

FHA and USDA mortgages are two common types of government-backed loans. Instead of having to make a 20% down payment on a conventional loan to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), an FHA loan allows buyers to qualify for a mortgage with a down payment as little as 3.5%. USDA loans enable buyers to purchase a home with reduced interest rates. VA loans offer several benefits for active service personnel and veterans looking to buy a home, including not having to purchase mortgage insurance.

Fixed-Rate vs. Adjustable-Rate Mortgages 

Fixed-rate mortgages allow you to lock in a specified interest rate for the life of the loan. With an unchanging monthly mortgage payment, a fixed-rate mortgage makes financial planning easier. Adjustable-rate mortgages’ interest rates will go up and down based on market conditions. Many ARMs will start with a fixed-interest rate period followed by a variable interest rate until the loan amount is paid off. Keep in mind that a sudden change in your financial situation could make your monthly ARM payments unaffordable, which could result in a loan default.

Other Home Loans 

There are other more niche financing options available for prospective home buyers. For example, a construction loan can be useful if you’re planning on building a home. Balloon mortgages and sub-prime mortgages can make homeownership feasible for those who aren’t financially prepared for the typical repayment structure of a mortgage. These loans, however, come with greater risks. Talk to a mortgage broker to understand the terms of these agreements before making a final decision.

When you are ready to create the project plan for your home-buying project give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com

Deciding to Sell Your Home 

by Sandy Dodge

An elderly man and woman discuss selling their home with their Windermere agent.

Deciding when to sell your home can depend on a variety of factors. Perhaps your local market conditions are favorable to sellers, or you’ve recently changed jobs, or your family is growing and you need to upsize. Whatever the case may be, making the decision to sell your home is the first step in your selling journey

Deciding to Sell Your Home

Once you know it’s time to sell your home, it’s natural to feel a wave of emotions. A home is an integral part of a homeowner’s life. They provide countless memories and, for many homeowners, are their greatest investment. But once you’ve decided to sell, it’s important to look at your home with an objective eye to appeal to a wide variety of buyers.

Which repairs should I make before selling my home?

To get your house in top selling shape, identify its outstanding repairs. As you fill out your list, separate the projects into categories which are DIY-eligible, and which require a professional. This will help you to budget for your overall repair expenses and build a reasonable timeline. Some of the most important repairs to make before listing your home include fixing appliances, making sure your sinks and faucets work properly, repairing any cracks or holes in the walls, fixing all leaks and water damage, and ensuring that all systems in the home are functioning properly. Making repairs before you list your home will bode well for home inspections, negotiations, and can even give your home an advantage over other listings. Your agent may suggest a pre-listing inspection to make your home more competitive in a seller’s market.

Which upgrades should I make before selling my home? 

When you sell your home, you’re inevitably competing against other listings in your area. The aesthetics of a house play a significant role in its ability to catch buyer’s attention, which emphasizes the importance of improving your curb appeal as you prepare to hit the market. Landscaping projects, new exterior paint, and upgrading your front entry are just a few ways you can spruce up the outside of your home.

And what about the interior? Consider upgrading your appliances to energy-efficient models, which are known for their high ROI potential. This is a great time to repaint your home’s interior as well. Consider using a neutral color palette to make it as appealing as possible to a wide-array of buyers. It’s also a good idea to identify rooms in which the flooring should be replaced or repaired. If it makes most sense to completely re-do your home’s flooring, choose a material that is within budget and has good resale value.

Working with an agent 

Listing agents are trained professionals who work with homeowners to sell their homes. Your listing agent will be there to answer any questions you may have throughout the selling process and will negotiate with buyers’ agents to get the best price for your home. But their value doesn’t stop there. A listing agent will list the home, coordinate showings and open houses, and market the home. When choosing an agent, find someone with whom you are compatible both emotionally and professionally, and who cares about the goals of you and your household.

What’s my home worth?

Homeowners can get a general idea of how much their home is worth by using online home value estimators, like Windermere’s free Home Worth Calculator. Though these tools can provide some context behind the value of your home, nothing compares to the in-depth analysis of an agent’s Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Using a CMA, an agent can accurately price your home to get it sold quickly.

For more information on your local housing market and how to sell your home, connect with a Windermere agent today by clicking on the button below. 

Renovating Your Short-Term Rental

by Sandy Dodge

A man and woman take measurements on a table as they renovate their home.

Renovating your short-term rental property will not only keep it in peak condition but will also help it stand out to potential renters. Completing remodeling projects with the goal of increasing the return on your investment is a matter of identifying which renovations make sense for the home, putting together a plan, and taking steps to minimize the risk of the projects going over budget.

Start with Repairs

Because rental properties are by nature a source of income, it’s worth your while as the homeowner to reduce maintenance costs wherever possible. This can often mean spending money in the short term on repairs and replacements in order to save money down the road. Furthermore, by upgrading your appliances, fixing leaks, and updating any outdated features, you will provide the most accommodating environment for your renters. Making these improvements can also help set your rental apart from other properties, giving you a competitive advantage in the market. As you go about making repairs, don’t forget to check the working condition of all faucets, electrical outlets, and lights.

Renovating Your Rental

Understanding the scope of your renovations and the motivation behind them before you get started will help formulate your plan moving forward. Are you looking to upgrade the home to sell it in the future? Are you renovating to increase rent? Or are you simply looking to be more competitive in the local rental market? Knowing the answers to these questions won’t necessarily change your renovation plans, but it will provide guidance as you enter the remodeling phase. Consider talking to your Windermere agent about how different projects may affect the value of the property.

Even a small-scale renovation can make a big difference in the minds of renters. To create the best first impression from the get-go, consider boosting your home’s curb appeal. Projects like exterior painting, refinishing a deck, and power washing your siding and walkways will help provide an inviting outdoor setting for your renters.

When it comes to interior renovations, kitchens are a great place to start. Thankfully, kitchen makeovers can be simple.Identify the areas of your kitchen that need repair first, then expand your project list from there. Next, consider upgrading the bathroom. Begin by checking your pipes, drains, and p-traps for any signs of wear and tear. Simple things like painting the vanity and updating the bathroom hardware can also make a big impact.

Last but not least, if you decide to hire a professional to renovate your rental property, be sure to gather multiple bids and compare prices before making your final decision.

If you are interested buying or selling short-term rental property give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.

8 Tips for a More Energy Efficient Home

by Sandy Dodge

A child sits in a large chair under a lamp reading a book.

Whether they are motivated by rising energy costs or a desire to cultivate a more sustainable home, homeowners are constantly searching for ways they can go greenreduce their home’s energy waste, and save money in the process. Here are some simple methods for a more energy-efficient home.

1. Determine Your Energy Output

A natural first step in your energy-efficient journey is to get a gauge of how much energy your home is currently using and where it is being used. Analyze your recent bills to get a picture of your home’s energy consumption and the habits that are tied to that level of usage. From there, you can determine what kinds of cutbacks can be made to save energy. You might also consider hiring a professional energy auditor to fully inspect your home’s energy practices and identify where there’s room for improvement.

2. Laundry Room Best Practices

Adjusting your methods in the laundry room is an easy way to make an impact on your home’s energy output. When it’s sunny, air-dry your clothes to save energy. Most of the energy consumption generated by doing laundry comes from the heating of the water, so use cold water when possible. Wait until you have a full load before running the washer to maximize your laundry room’s efficiency.

3. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting

Replacing incandescent lights with newer, more energy-efficient options is a productive step towards reducing your home’s energy waste. A change of lightbulbs is a relatively cheap solution compared to more expensive energy-saving methods like replacing appliances. Because energy-efficient lightbulbs use less energy than standard bulbs, they commonly last much longer as well.

4. Check Your Windows

Excessive air conditioning and heating are often the culprits behind wasteful energy practices. Weatherstripping and caulking your windows help to regulate the flow of air, keeping your home warmer in the colder months and cooler in the hotter months. Old, drafty windows let in air that can increase your home’s energy usage, regardless of the season. The upfront investment in purchasing new windows will pay off in the long run and will help to reduce energy waste.

5. Check Your HVAC Unit

A fine-tuned HVAC system is critical to making your home as energy efficient as it can be. Maintenance of your HVAC unit periodically to make sure it’s running in tip–top shape and to avoid replacements, which can be quite expensive. The cleaner your HVAC filters, the more efficiently they can run. The filters should be swapped out a maximum of every three months, more often if you use it year-round or if you have pets at home.

6. Insulate Your Home

A well-insulated home can deliver significant savings on heating and cooling costs. Walls and windows are common areas where air can escape, but so are pipes and ducts. Wrapping all these areas in insulation will pave the way for saving energy throughout the house.

7. Turn Down Your Thermostat

Turning down your thermostat is an effective method of reducing energy consumption. Even lowering it by one degree will lower your furnace’s energy output and can make a difference in your home’s overall energy efficiency. Remember to clean your furnace filter often. A clean filter will allow your home’s heating system to run more efficiently and cost-effectively.

8. Set Energy Efficiency Goals

Once you’ve begun to implement some of these strategies to make your home more energy-efficient, you’ll discover new ways to reduce your home’s energy waste while saving money. Set goals for your home’s overall energy output in a given month or set a target number you’d like to see on your next energy bill. Track your home’s progress in energy efficiency and the savings you’ve generated over time to see the difference you’ve made.

When you are ready to find the right agent give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.

How to Handle Water Damage In Your Home

by Sandy Dodge

A man and a woman hold buckets catching water dripping from the ceiling.

Even if you’ve done all you can to prevent water damage in your home, there’s still a possibility it could occur. During a water damage emergency, it’s important to have a plan in place and be proactive to make sure things don’t go from bad to worse.

How to Handle Water Damage

If your home is in danger of flooding, evacuate the area until it is safe to return. In all other situations, as soon as you notice any water damage, it’s time to act quickly to prevent further damage. Water reaching an electrical source spells danger, so be sure to switch off your circuit breakers to cut the electricity. If your circuit breakers are in the same room as the source of the water damage, it’s best to stay away and call an electrician. Unplug devices from outlets as well to avoid getting shocked. In all situations, wear rubber boots, gloves, and protective gear.

After the electricity has been turned off, the next step is to find the source of the water damage. In the case of a burst pipe or a leaking hot water tank, cut the water supply by switching their shut-off valves. If the water damage has occurred in a small, contained area, you may be able to handle the repair independently. But if the water damage has spread to a large area, it will require a professional.

Moving furniture, household items, and possessions not only helps to protect them, but will also clear the area for when professionals arrive, allowing them to get right to work. If the water continues to flow while the technician is on their way, try to prevent further damage by slowing its spread using buckets, towels, and mops. These items don’t have the salvaging power of a professional’s tools, but anything you can do before they arrive could help to prevent further damage.

Water Damage – Insurance

Contacting your insurance company as soon as possible will help to navigate the situation. Find out what steps they may require you to take in the event of a flooding emergency. It’s helpful to get a claims adjuster to your home quickly to assess the situation and provide estimates on the potential cost of making repairs. Water damage can easily feel overwhelming and chaotic, but it’s important to photograph the incident. Take photos of the source of the damage, where it spread, and the damage it caused—both to the home and any personal items of value. Documenting the incident will inform your claim with your insurance company.

Whether the damage is covered by your insurance depends on the source of the problem and how your policy is arranged. If the damage was a result of an underlying condition that worsened over time, your claim may be denied. If this happens, ask for a detailed explanation to understand the gaps in your policy. This emphasizes the importance of regular home maintenance on the systems that control the water in your home. Even if you run into a costly repair, it’s better to be aware of deficiencies and fix them than to wait and be faced with a full-fledged emergency later on. Take time to review your policy as is and understand what you as the homeowner are ultimately responsible for in the event of an emergency.

For more information on how to get ahead of potential home emergencies, read our guides on preparing for wildfiresand winter storms.

If you are interested buying or selling on Orcas Island give me a call or a text at 619.224.9015 or email at Roxy@RoxyMarck.com.