10 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How To Do

There are ten things every homeowner should know how to do…because chances are, you’re going to have to learn them eventually and a lot of us learn them the hard way! Take a peek at this list:

1-Change your own HVAC filters. 

2-Unclog a drain without using chemicals. 

3-File a property tax appeal. 

4-Shut off your water main line. 

5-Clean out the dryer vent. 

6-Find the studs in your walls. 

7-Protect hardwood floors from furniture. 

8-Clear out the gutters. 

9-Reset a circuit breaker after a blown fuse. 

10-Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

How many of these can you do? What would you like to learn? 

Sparkling Spring Cleaning Tips

About 76% of Americans make it a tradition to complete their spring cleaning every year. Another 63% make an effort to clean the majority of their home. On average, spring cleaning takes around six days to finish. About 29% of people finish within one to two days. With the right plan and these spring cleaning tips, you can make the most of your time! Are you ready to get cleaning? With this spring cleaning checklist, you can stay organized and tackle your entire home!

1-Set a Schedule

Don’t reach for your mop or window cleaner just yet. First, take a look around your home. Which areas are going to take the longest to clean? Which rooms require the most attention? When you quickly clean throughout the year, what areas do you tend to avoid? Focus on tackling your big problem areas first. That way, you’ll have more energy to complete smaller tasks as you go.
Before you start cleaning, set a schedule for yourself. How many days do you want to spend cleaning? Break your tasks apart by room.Then, establish a plan of attack for every room in your home.

2-Declutter Every Room

Remember, clutter can cause stress. Start learning how to clean your house by decluttering every room. Remove any objects you no longer need. Then, give every item in your home a designated space. Once you use that item, put it right back where it belongs! Using this tactic will keep your home from getting cluttered in the future.

3-Room by Room

Entryway: Wipe the walls and baseboards, sweep and mop the floors, clean the door and doormat, and organize your shoes and hang your jackets.

Office: Recycle any paperwork you don’t need. Dust and polish the furniture and bookshelves. While you’re at it, don’t forget to sanitize your keyboard and mouse.

In the garage: Declutter the toys, sporting equipment, and tools. Open the garage door to air the garage out. Wipe down the walls and sweep the floor. Clean the garage door and frame. Replace the batteries for your garage openers.

Children’s playroom: Sanitize any plastic toys using soap and water. Consider washing the stuffed animals as well. You can declutter by donating unused toys. Clean the rugs, carpets, and floors. Keep everyone’s toys organized, too.

Living room: Dust and polish the furniture. Wash or vacuum the curtains. Clean the ceiling fans. Vacuum the sofa and chairs. Dust the blinds and curtain rods.Wash the slipcovers, blankets, and pillows. Clean the window sills and wash the windows. Sanitize the remotes. Shampoo the rugs or carpets. Vacuum or mop the floors.

Bathroom: Wipe the mirror down. Discard any expired products and clean up your makeup brushes. Clean the vanity, tub, shower, and showerhead, too. Don’t forget to give the tile grout a good scrub. Then, clean the toilet, hardware, walls, and baseboards. Sweep and mop the floors, too.

Kitchen: Clean the stovetop, microwave, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator (inside and outside), countertops, cabinet doors and backsplash, kitchen drain, floors, baseboards, and walls.

Upgrading Your Home When Selling

Upgrading your home can be a good way to help you get back even more on your investment when the time comes to sell. If this is the main reason behind the idea of upgrading, then you should pay special attention to the renovations that bring in more money when it comes to resale value in today’s housing market.

Exterior

Spruce up the outside of your home before you try to put it on the market. Repaint the house if it’s looking a little faded. Consider painting the doors as well to help improve the curb appeal. And don’t forget about the landscaping. A small investment will go a long way toward making a good first impression.

Bathroom

Redo your bathroom, but don’t worry about trying to take apart the whole thing. A bathroom remodel should really consist of a replacement for your tub, toilet, sink, and tile. You don’t have to change the layout of the room, which may be very costly, but you should update the fixtures to suit what’s popular at the time. Don’t forget to redo the wall coverings if they’re outdated, too.

Kitchen

Just like the bathroom, you don’t have to gut your kitchen and redo the whole floor plan to update it enough to sell well. Bring in a new oven, sink, and new countertops, and consider redoing the cabinetry if it’s very outdated. The refrigerator may not need to be updated, but don’t forget to replace it too if it does. Recessed lighting and a kitchen island if you have the space for it are both great options, too. And don’t forget, a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen and any other room in the house that needs a fresh look.

Patio

Everybody enjoys outdoor spaces, and if they’re ready to use as soon as someone buys your home, that’s even better. Consider extending your patio or adding ceiling fans to encourage buyers to look twice at your home. The nicer your outdoor space, the better off you’ll be.

 

Vegetable Gardening in Arizona

gardenVegetable gardening in the Arizona desert can be challenging. Gardening tips that may work in other climates, often don’t apply to gardening in the low desert of Arizona. Yet, growing a successful vegetable garden in the desert is absolutely possible!

Benefits of vegetable gardening in Arizona:

-Ability to garden outdoors year-round. 
-Abundant sunshine – necessary for all living things.

Challenges of vegetable gardening in Arizona:

-Extreme heat. A few vegetables (okra, Malabar spinach, Armenian cucumbers) tolerate the heat and continue producing. Some die, and others go into dormancy only to take off again when the humidity of late July or August sets in. 
-Low humidity. Many desert-adapted plants such as cactus, succulents, and plants with waxy leaves are adapted to less humidity. However, most vegetables and garden plants need more moisture in the air to grow well in the low desert of Arizona. 

SUCCESSFUL GARDENING TIPS

Take advantage of microclimates in your yard:

-Some parts of the yard will be warmer or cooler than others. Use those areas to your advantage by growing plants whose requirements match up to the specific microclimate available. 
-Notice in your yard which areas receive the most sun and shade during different seasons of the year. Learn the sun requirements and heat tolerance of different plants. Consider adding shade parts of the garden that need it during the hottest times of the year. Take advantage of the shade provided by larger plants to interplant different crops. 

Water your Arizona vegetable garden correctly:

-Vegetables and fruits do not produce well if they are stressed. Problems in the garden can often be traced back to watering – not enough, too much, or inconsistent water. Plants become stressed and are more prone to diseases and insects. 
-Spend time in your garden each day. You will notice the watering needs of your plants and be alerted to issues with your watering system.
-Water in the morning. Wilted leaves at midday don’t necessarily mean a plant needs water; always test soil a couple of inches deep to see if the soil is dry before giving droopy plants more water. They will probably recover once the sun goes down.

Looking for a new yard to start your garden? We’re ready to start searching for the perfect yard for gardening! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

 

Principles of Feng Shui

This concept of feng shui is derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it. The Chinese words “feng” and “shui” translate to mean “wind” and “water.” The feng shui philosophy is a practice of looking at our living spaces and working environment while striking a balance with the natural world.

Remove Obstacles

Think about how you move through your home and try to make the paths as clear as possible. Efficiency is everything in feng shui, so it’s important to clear obstacles from your path and make your flow as easy as possible.

Keep Things Clean

Having too much clutter around is probably not going to do your mental clarity any favors. In feng shui, clutter is believed to take up valuable space that new incoming energy needs. If you are working from home, make a habit of cleaning up your workspace each day. Not only will it make you feel less stressed out, but it’ll also create a sense of order in such chaotic times. Plus, you’ll get a clean start each day, which should benefit your productivity.

Declutter the Entryway

In feng shui, your entryway represents the way energy enters your home and your life. Remove piles and balled-up socks. If you have space, add some plants and artwork to make the area feel inviting.

Add Plants

Your new life motto should be: When in doubt, add more plants. We’ve got a more detailed primer on which ones will help you find your ideal chi and where they can be best positioned, but the short answer? Plants embody life energy, so they’ll add freshness and vitality to your home.

Go Vertical

Integrating some vertical shapes and lines in your home represents growth and expansion. You can make this happen in a variety of ways by adding some lighting where the light travels upward or add a tree to a corner to make the space feel taller.

Summer Home Maintenance

Summer is in full swing and now is good time to inspect your house to see how your it is doing in the summer heat. Here’s a quick list of 7 summer home maintenance tips and projects you can do to spruce up your home and keep everything running smoothly throughout the year:

Attic Inspections

Attics can be claustrophobia-inducing, but it’s a good idea to brave those tight confines at least once a year. You want to check your attic for any indication of pests or insects, water leakage, mold or mildew.

Rain Gutters

It’s easy for desert dwellers to forget about checking the rain gutters. Gutters can become clogged with dirt and grime, especially after a monsoon season so it’s a good idea to flush out your gutters with the hose at least once a year.

Washing Machine Maintenance

Your washing machine is one of those appliances that needs some light maintenance every now and then. When your washer is not in use, inspect the seal between the door opening and the drum for areas of soil buildup or any stains. If you find any, you can clean it with a mixture of ¾ cup of chlorine bleach and a gallon of warm water. Wipe the area with the bleach-water solution and then let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then wipe dry with a clean cloth, and let it air dry. This will remove any odors and keep your clothes from getting stained by dirt deposits inside the seal.

Clean the Garbage Disposal and Dishwasher

This home maintenance tip isn’t necessarily just a summer chore, but it’s important reminder to clean out your garbage disposal and dishwasher every once in a while. You can easily clean out your garbage disposal by flushing it with hot water and some dish soap. To clean your dishwasher, you should add 2 cups of vinegar to the bottom of the machine and run the machine on low wash.

Wipe Down & Clean Baseboards

Baseboards are often overlooked when it comes to weekly cleaning, but it’s something you will want to do at least once a year to keep dust and dirt from building up. A damp cloth and a little extra time is all you need to clean up the trim around your home.

Wash Exterior Windows

Summer is a good time of year to wash your windows from the outside. Simply fill a bucket with hot soapy water and get scrubbing. If you wash your windows more than once a year, you may be able to get away with just using Windex, but a bucket of soapy water and a sponge will usually deliver the best results.

Clean or Replace Window Screens

Washing your exterior windows won’t make much of a difference if you don’t also wash your window screens. Take off all your window screens to your house and gently scrub them with hot soapy water. If your window screens are too dirty to be cleaned, you may just want to replace them.

Creating a Backyard Retreat

As we stay home more because of the coronavirus, creating a backyard retreat is on the top of many homeowners’ list of home projects.

Tips to transform your backyard space:

Finishes- Consider dark color finishes, sun shelves, complete automation, grotto waterfalls and comfortable outdoor furniture to create and inviting space to relax.

Light it Up- String lights are a simple and inexpensive solution for mood lighting. If your space is under a pergola, gazebo or large tree, dress things up with an outdoor chandelier. Battery operated candles also add a little light.

Adding TVs/Stereos- Incorporating TVs and stereo systems on the patio provide entertainment while outside. Install a TV in a shady spot on a metal, heavy duty wall mount that can pivot for easy viewing.

Add Privacy- Plants and curtains are two easy ways to create a more private outdoor space. Plants such as ficus or citrus trees work well in the desert to create privacy hedges. Hanging curtains around a covered patio or gazebo also softens the outdoor space and helps block the sun.

For more tips, or to find a new home with all the backyard features you are looking for, call us today! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Summer Monsoon Safety Tips

If you’re new to Arizona, you may be wondering what people are talking about when they refer to the “monsoon”. The term “monsoon” comes from the Arabic “mausim” meaning “season.” In Arizona, monsoon is used to refer to our summer season of high temperatures, high winds, and occasionally severe thunderstorms. Often, the more severe storms begin with towering walls of dust hundreds of feet high that move across the Valley. These dust wall are known as “haboobs,” an Arabic term for the similar walls of dust that are common in the Middle East. With the dust comes high winds, typically followed by heavy rains. Sometimes, the thunderstorms can result in microbursts, which are the result of cold, dense air from a thunderstorm hitting the ground, bringing with it intense winds. These winds spread out in all directions and have the potential to cause intense damage.

When is Arizona’s monsoon? Before 2008, the monsoon’s start date and duration varied based on the dew point average. To reduce confusion, the National Weather Service decided to set dates. The monsoon season now officially begins on June 15th and ends on September 30th.

Monsoon Safety Tips:
-Drive cautiously even if your visibility is not greatly reduced, especially at the beginning of a storm when oils and other automotive fluids can make the road unusually slick.
-If you feel like conditions are not safe enough to continue driving, slowly pull off the side of the road as far right as you can, turn off your car, turn off your lights, and keep your foot off the brake pedal. Otherwise, drivers might come up behind you and, thinking you are still in motion, rear end your vehicle.
-If you are outside, stay away from open fields, trees, poles, and other tall objects to avoid being struck by lightning. Also important to avoid swimming pools and golf clubs.
-If you have a landline, do not use it to avoid getting a shock from a nearby lightning strike. Instead use your cell phone, but even this should be minimized to keep lines open for emergencies.
-Avoid plumbing fixtures, including showers, baths, and sinks, since lightning can travel through metal pipes.
-Stay away from windows, which can be struck by blowing debris. It’s not uncommon for the high winds of a microburst to blow around large objects and for large trees to fall down.

Monsoon home shopping tip: When home shopping during or after a rain storm, inspect the ceilings for possible leaks and outside for possible flooding areas. These problems can typically be easily resolved during the inspection period and best to be remedied before closing.

House Cleaning During COVID-19

Spring cleaning your house includes traditionally includes extra dusting, window cleaning and shampooing carpets. With our home cleaning checklist, we’ll give you the best spring cleaning tips, plus additional tips for attacking COVID-19.

CLEANING VS DISINFECTING

Did you know there’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Cleaning is the removal of dirt and germs from surfaces. Cleaning doesn’t kill viruses, but it will lower them. You can clean a surface using a simple combination of soap and water, which is effective against COVID-19. Disinfecting involves using a chemical to kill germs on surfaces after you clean it, which lowers the risk of spreading infection. You can use a simple bleach combination to disinfect, which is ⅓ cup of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. It’s important to let the bleach sit on the surface for at least one minute before you dry it completely.

The CDC recommends regularly cleaning and disinfecting areas of your home that are frequently touched — three times per day if someone in your house is sick. This includes:

-Kitchen and bathroom counters
-Light switches
-Doorknobs
-Faucets
-Toilets
-Electronics

DUST YOUR HOME THOROUGHLY

Spring cleaning is a great time to both clean and declutter your home. If you’ve got major clutter to deal with, getting a portable container delivered to your driveway may be just what you need to get the job done, especially if you need to make room as you work. Having temporary at-home storage can also help if you need to separate items to go to relatives, donations, or a garage sale.

If it’s just a matter of dusting and cleaning a room, here are some quick tips:

-Before getting started, take time to peruse shelves and side tables to see if there are any books or knick-knacks -you can clear out.
-Empty all shelves and dust thoroughly with a feather duster.
-Use your vacuum to get hard-to-reach spots.
-Gently clean your books with a damp cloth.
-Disinfect surfaces before you rearrange things.
-Don’t forget to vacuum ceiling fans, the tops of your windows and moldings.
-Reach corners in rooms where cobwebs cluster with a long duster.

WASH WINDOWS

When months go by and you wonder why those trees and blue sky aren’t looking so vibrant anymore, it means it time to clean your windows! Now is a great time to give your windows a wash. If you can reach, wash both inside and out. Might as well enjoy the view while you’re staying home all day, right? If you have slatted blinds, use a damp cloth to wipe them down.

CLEAN FLOORS

Tile can really start to look dingy if you haven’t done a deep cleaning in a while. If you haven’t been able to find traditional tile cleaners in the supermarket, a simple mixture of baking soda and water will do. Just pour ½ cup baking soda into 2 gallons of water and mix well. This is a great non-toxic cleaning option for bathroom and kitchen floors. You can even do this on your tiled kitchen countertop before you disinfect. Vacuuming and carpet shampooing should be on your list for this year’s deep cleaning. Make sure you move furniture to clean underneath so you can suck up those pesky dust bunnies. Clean under beds and in closets as well.

POLISH STAINLESS STEEL

Your kitchen will look like it is ready for an open house once you polish your stainless steel appliances. First, clean your stainless steel with a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. Then, soak a microfiber towel in olive oil and slowly buff the steel. Buff again with a clean, dry cloth and your stainless will be sparkling in no time.

DON’T TRY TO DO ALL YOUR CORONAVIRUS CLEANING AT ONCE

If you try to do all your deep cleaning in one weekend, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and may want to quit before you finish, so try to break it up into easy to manage sections. Don’t forget your electronics and remote controls! Once you’re done with your deep cleaning, it’s important to keep cleaning and disinfecting for coronavirus regularly, especially the commonly-touched surfaces.

Tips on Improving Your Credit Score for Homeownership

growing moneyIf you are currently renting and are considering purchasing a home you may need to check a few things before you begin your search. One of the most important things to know before you venture into home ownership is what your credit score is.

Your credit score will tell you everything about your credit history and this is what lenders will be looking at when deciding whether to approve you for a home loan. You may have thought you were doing everything right but your credit score will be the deciding factor. You are able to request a copy of your credit report from the three reporting companies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax). If you find something on your report that is fishy you can look into it, this is another way to keep track of any identity theft that may have happened that you may not even be aware of.

Credit scores can range from an excellent rating of 800+ down to below 499 which is as you can guess, not great.  The higher your score the better chance of getting a better rate and being approved for a loan. There isn’t really a secret formula for improving your score except for paying your bills on time and being consistent. Also eliminating debt whenever possible will bump up your score. Some experts will tell you to pay off the higher interest rate credit cards or loans first, others say get rid of the smaller balances. This is really a personal decision, but either way paying off as much debt as possible will increase your credit score.

Another factor is how long your credit history is. If you have had a good history and have a had a credit card for a long time that will work in your favor. If you have cards showing on your report but they have not been used in a while you may want to charge small amounts on them every so often. These will then be considered active when the credit agency is figuring your score. Also do not open a bunch of new cards at once, this will lower the average age of your accounts and will push your score down. Another thing to consider is if you close your cards, this can lower your score as well.  Again these are all suggestions but only you can decide what your best option is.

Those that may have had financial struggles in the past may bury their head in the sand and not want to look at their credit score. However being educated on this will only help you in the end achieve the best loan rates and getting on the road to owning your home.

Have more questions, give us a call! If we can’t help you, we can direct you to an experienced lender who can. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477