Pros and Cons of Artificial Turf

artificial turf

Since Arizona is primarily composed of desert land, with very little rainfall, you may have considered installing artificial grass instead of real grass in your front or backyard. One of the biggest reasons to install artificial turf is the lack of maintenance. Gone will be the mornings of mowing, weeding and trimming your grass. Instead, you’ll only need to occasionally rake off some leaves and debris. Additionally, with artificial grass, you won’t have to pay for fertilizer, watering or seeding, so the ongoing maintenance costs of real grass will be nixed. Another upside to artificial turf is its appearance. Your lawns will always be green, verdant, and lush-looking. The average life expectancy of artificial turf, depending on the product itself, is 15-25 years, so it likely will be something you won’t have to worry about with the entire time you live in your home. Finally, there are many more options of artificial grass nowadays, with many more realistic artificial turf choices out there, instead of the plastic-looking turf of the past.

Some of the cons of artificial turf to consider are first, the cost. Artificial grass averages around $7/square foot, so the initial expense can be considerable. This cost, of course, should be balanced against the maintenance and landscaping costs of real grass on an annual basis. Also, in Arizona at least, the temperature of artificial grass as opposed to real grass can be a real concern. The surface temperature of artificial grass can exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes this surface a very real danger. Watering down the surface on hotter days can cool it down, but this may negate the fact that you’re trying to reduce water usage.

We’d be happy to discuss these pros and cons with you, especially with regard to listing or buying a home. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Treating Termintes

pest controlWhether you are buying, selling or living in a home, termites are likely something you will encounter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that homeowners spend more than $2 billion annually on termite pest control and on repairs caused by termite damage. Termites also damage more than 600,000 homes annually here in the United States, thus making termite prevention and control a critical part of home maintenance.

The first thing to remember is that termites do work slowly. Most termite colonies take 2-3 years to form. Therefore, if you do see evidence of termites, you have time to determine how you’re going to deal with them most effectively, and it’s not going to be an emergency situation. Generally speaking, termites become more active in times of moisture as they can’t move around without moisture. So here in Arizona, that time is typically after monsoon season has ended, and the temperatures have dropped; mid-September through December.

It’s critical that you have a termite inspection of your home at least once a year. In between the inspection times, be sure to personally walk around the exterior and interior of your home every few months to look for mud tubes. The mud tubes look like dry brown tubes about the width of a pencil on the walls. If you discover evidence of termites in the form of these tubes, it’s time to call a termite exterminator.

Finally, take steps to prevent future termites. Preventing moisture from getting inside the walls of your home is critical. Therefore, keep your home’s foundation dry by preventing irrigation systems from dripping or leaking near your home’s structure. Keep attics well-ventilated and seal all openings into your home such as cracks and knotholes. Taking these simple steps will go a long way to prevent these omnipresent wood-loving bugs.

Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

backyard photo

As summer quickly approaches, we all like to head out of town to relax and enjoy some cooler weather. The last thing you want to do while on vacation is stress about the security of your home and everything you love that is inside of it.  Living in the safest areas will provide some sense of security, but let’s be realistic, crime can happen anywhere!  Here are some tips to keeping your home safe.

-Hire a house or pet sitter. Having someone come in your home on a regular basis while you are away is a great way to deter crime. It leaves the illusion that you are home or at the very least someone is coming in and out at varying times. This option can be a little costly but may be well worth it.
-Have the post office hold your mail while away. They are able to do this for 3 to 30 days. This is especially a good idea when your mail box is on your property.
-Invest in some timers for your lights. Head over to the local home improvement store pick up a few timers and set them to go on and off every day while away.  Again gives the illusion someone is home.
-Have your landscaping taken care of if you’ll be gone for a while.  If your lawn is starting to get overgrown it is a good indication no one has been around to take care of it.
-Check your locks on everything before heading out.  It is easy to forget this simple step.  You may have opened a window and forgotten to lock it afterward, go through everything and check.
-Keep your social media announcements about traveling to a minimum. It’s fun to tell good friends and family of your travels, but be wary about posting your every move, you just never know who could be reading it. Save the photos of your trip to post till after you’re home.
-If parking in long term parking at the airport do not leave your GPS or garage door opener in the car.  A thief could break into your car and GPS their way back to your house and click your garage door open.
-Having a home security system is a great way to have your home monitored while away.  It can also detect fire or carbon monoxide.  Some systems are so advanced now you can have it programmed to turn on lights and some even have video cameras so you can see your home while away.  This would definitely be a long term investment for your home.

Taking just a few extra precautions can really give your home the added protection it needs!

No time for a vacation? Then let’s find your dream home so you feels like you are living on a vacation every day! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Swimming Pools and Homeowner’s Insurance

backyard pool
Having a swimming pool in your backyard can be a huge benefit and provide fun for you and your family. Yet, many homeowners question whether it’s a good idea to add a pool to their backyard, or buy a home with a pool, due to the safety concerns and maintenance. It’s no surprise that a home with a pool increases your homeowner’s insurance, but is it worth it?

Your home owner’s insurance premiums will likely increase if you own a home with a pool. This is because they’re considered an “attractive nuisance,” meaning that an unsupervised child might be attracted to a pool and could cause harm to them. Homeowners are responsible for taking safety measures like including a fence around the perimeter of the pool, putting a safety cover on the pool or posting a sign warning of the dangers.

If you are considering installing a pool, you should likely take preemptive measures to protect yourself from any incidents that happen while you own the home. This means increasing your homeowner’s insurance coverage and limits. Research indicates it might be a good idea to increase your liability insurance from the standard $100,000 to $500,000 if you install a swimming pool.

When installing a pool, it’s also important to take into consideration the difference between in-ground and above-ground pools. Most in-ground pools are considered part of your home insurance policy, while above-ground pools would be covered under personal property insurance. It’s important to consult with your insurance agent and discuss how adding a pool could potentially affect your premiums.

Despite the increased costs, adding a pool can also greatly increase your home’s value and offer a fun summer activity for you and your family. With proper knowledge of the pros and cons of a pool, you can be prepared for any unexpected costs associated with it.

Are you looking for a home with a pool? Give us a call to begin your search! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Appliance Disposal Tips

Appliances

When preparing your home for sale, we often suggest to replace your old appliances with new ones or you may have just bought a home with old appliances and you replaced them…so what do you with the old appliances?

Recycle
You can recycle your smaller appliances with most cities. The Cities of Scottsdale and Phoenix both offer quarterly electronic recycling events, look for announcements of these events in your monthly water bill.

Give Away
Check with local charities to see what their policies are regarding used appliances donations. Charities that accept appliance donations will often offer free curbside pick-up service. You may also be able to write your donation off on your taxes.

Have It Hauled Away
You may decide you just want the appliances out of your home. When that happens, you can call services for responsible appliance removal. There will be a fee, so you might want to go through your house and find any additional items in need of being hauled away to make the fee worth the money.

Sell Them
Are your appliances still running? Head over to Craigslist or to sell them. There is a growing market of shoppers looking for a bargain. There are also customers who want to strip your appliances for parts to re-sale. Fielding offers from bargain shoppers can be a more time-consuming option, but with a little effort, you could put some cash in your pocket!

Are you thinking of selling your home? Our complimentary home stagers will help you make the decisions needed to get you top dollar! Call today for more information. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Dividing Real Estate Assets When Unmarried Couples Split

When the more traditional couple, aka married folks, divorce and go their separate ways, the process of dividing up the property is dictated by the law, for the most part. But what about those who choose to live together without the legal binds of marriage, which is approximately 14 percent of those in the age group of 25 to 34 years. 

And many of those 14% have more than divvying up the dishes, linens, and CD collection. They plunged in together and purchased a house. The rules for this situation is different, so if you find yourself considering cohabitation without a walk down the aisle and that legal piece of paper, here are some things you should know if that relationship doesn’t hold. 

Dividing Real Estate Assets – The Difference When You’re Not Married

There are options for married couples that divorce when it comes to dividing property such as a house or other real estate. For instance, one spouse can buy the other spouse’s part, or the property can be sold outright, and the profit is split. If the couple can’t come to an agreement, the court can make the decision for them and force a sale. 

However, the court doesn’t have much jurisdiction when it comes to unmarried homeowners, if the property is equally owned by the unmarried couple. This means that both names need to be on the title. Who paid the most of what is irrelevant.  If one person is determined not sell, it is a problem for the other person to resolve, not a divorce court.

So, what happens if one of the persons agrees to buyout the other person? This can be an expensive move because the transferring of assets also entails tax issues. For a married couple getting a divorce, this is a tax-free transaction. It is recommended that the unmarried couple seek the advice of an accountant and determine what the taxes are before making this decision. 

How Can Unmarried Couples Protect Themselves? 

Because there are legal complications such as that discussed earlier, experts advise for unmarried couples have a written agreement in place before making a major purchase like a house. Yes, this can take the romance out of the relationship, but it is the best way for both parties to protect themselves.

Today, a handshake just isn’t enough if an unmarried couple decides to buy a home as a couple. In just about every state, any agreement made regarding real estate, must be a written agreement. It doesn’t need to be a formal document drawn up by a lawyer either. It can be a simple one-page agreement that states how the property will be divided if the relationship ends. 

This type of contract is referred to as a “Cohabitation Agreement,” and it should state at the minimum the following:

  • If the relationship ends, how will the real estate be divided? Options are selling the property and divide the proceeds, or one person buy the other person’s part. 
  • Determine what percentage of each party will receive of the profits when the property sells
  • If the two parties can’t come to an agreement at the time of the split, how will those disputes be handled? Before going to court, seek the services of an unbiased mediator is the less expensive route.

What If There Isn’t A Cohabitation Agreement?

If no written agreement is drawn up between an unmarried couple prior to buying a home, it can become an expensive and long legal battle.  The legal fees alone can reach $25,000 and upward quickly and can even be more than the property is worth. With that being said, it would be less expensive to have a lawyer draw up the agreement prior to making the purchase. 

Of course, for one person to bring up the cohabitation agreement can be a delicate time, which is why more unmarried couples buying a home together won’t bring the subject up. It can be an awkward situation for a couple, but the future is unknown and protecting one’s self is key to these things. By mapping out how things will be done and stating who owns what ahead of time is only wise. 

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Build Your Dream Backyard with These Online Tools

Picture this: Your perfect backyard, as designed by you. When we had our vision for a backyard revamp, we started with a pencil and paper to try and capture our thoughts. But the availability of free online tools taught us there’s a better way to get your ideas out there and start building your dream backyard. Here are a few tools that we came across that were useful:

1. Garden Planner Online

This versatile planner lets you change the size and color of everything in its arsenal, which is a lot. Bushes, trees, flowers, pavers and ponds, furniture, walls, herb gardens and more are just some of the things you can drag, drop and edit. You can even draw your own shapes and paver paths.

Tip: You will need to download free software if you would like to save your work. If you want to keep what you are working on, you can print it from the browser (just don’t close it before you are done!)

2. Plan-A-Garden

Offered by the well-known Better Homes & Gardens publication, this resource requires some personal sign-up information, but the app is worth it. All items you can drag and drop on the screen appear 3D over a changeable background of a home’s exterior in real space. You can sort plants by the amount of light they’ll receive, and even color on a base texture. 

Tip: You can save your project any time right in the browser to come back to it later. 

3. Marshalls Garden Visualiser

3D space and plenty of useful objects make this garden planner a breeze to use. It also effectively captures the dimensions of your space, and allows you to move around inside the garden to get an idea of how it will look. You can add features like paths, fences and buildings as well.

Tip: This online planner specifically does not work in Chrome and requires download of the Unity Web Player to work.

If you are looking for even more powerful tools, there are plenty of options for paid software to help you landscape and design your yard.  But for something simple and free, these resources should do the trick.  Having an inviting backyard is not only a great extension of your home but also a huge part of your curb appeal when trying to sell.  Our team offers a free one hour home staging consultation.  Contact us for more information.

Happy planning!

 

Hey, Homeowner: Are You Making These 9 Mistakes At Your House?

Whether you’ve just closed on a home for the first time or consider yourself a seasoned mortgage-paying pro, you might be surprised by these ten common mistakes homeowners make. It seems we all live in the fast lane this day and time and I think we are all guilty of taking some short cuts that ended up costing either time and money to correct.  Here’s a list of what we think are some of the most common blunders to avoid:

1. Forget to change your locks
This applies to new homeowners who, in the excitement of moving in, forget about swapping old locks for better security (who knows who has a copy of that old key?). Hire a locksmith to swing by and rekey while you work on other things.

ceiling fan photo2. Let your ceiling fans run in every room
Ceiling fans are effective only when you’re in the room, since the breeze cools your skin and makes you feel comfortable enough to change the thermostat. Turn them off and save the motor when you’re not there.

3. Confuse classic with trendy.
If you’re thinking, “bye bye, brick” and “hello, outlandish exterior color,” you might want to think again. Your resale value could rely on those original character traits, like a brick fireplace or mid century modern fixture.

4. Let problems pile up
A simple rule of thumb is: When something goes wrong, fix it immediately. Because little things become big things if left unattended, like a small leak that becomes a big burst.

5. Throw potato peels in your garbage disposal
Spoiler alert: This always ends in disaster. The starchy peels thicken into a paste that clogs up the disposal.

6. Dig holes without calling 811
Do you know where your gas and electrical lines are? Call 811 and someone will come for free to mark the underground lines for you before you dig.

7. Plant trees too close to the house
And while we’re on the subject of digging, be mindful of where you’re planting your trees. Even though they provide shade, closer isn’t better when there is a danger of branches falling on the house. Large trees should be at least 20 feet away.

8. Cutting corners on plumbing and electricity
There’s a Youtube video for it, and you did fix that garbage disposal earlier, so you should be able to do it yourself – right? If it comes to ambitious plumbing and electrical work, the answer is no, unless you’re down with water damage and, you know, electrocution. Hire a pro.

9. Water the grass at night
In Arizona especially, it’s tempting to think that the less sun, the more water gets to your grass. While this is partly true (water can evaporate before it hits the ground in the heat of midday), the best time is actually in the early morning when the air is cooler but there is some sun to evaporate water clinging to blades.

Crazy Monsoon Storms This Year!

monsoon clouds photoHow about the monsoon storms this year, folks!  Have you experienced any property damage yet?  We have trees blocking our neighborhood roads in North Scottsdale and our neighbor’s pool toys ended up in ours last night.  It’s been impossible to get a hold of my landscaper to get him to clear my driveway of debris and broken branches.  Those guys must be swamped this time of the year!  So, in light of the recent crazy storms that continue to sweep through the valley, I wanted to remind you of some important precautions to avoid or minimize the damage Monsoon storms can cause:

Invest In Gutters

A typical Phoenix home may not have them already, but they are crucial for diverting those buckets of rain away from your foundation. Install downspouts that will direct water away from the home, and clean them periodically (especially after each storm) to remove debris.

Secure The Roof

There’s nothing wrong with calling in a pro for this one, because there’s nothing worse than springing a leak in the middle of a powerful storm. Call in now before it becomes a crisis, and make sure the roofer checks for loose areas, picks up debris and seals gaps. 

Tidy Up Trees And Plants

Landscaping in the summer heat is never fun, but take a cooler morning hour to trim any overgrown and errant branches on your trees, and secure the stakes on young ones. The wind is especially unforgiving to palo verdes and mesquites that have been thinned out too much, causing more pressure on individual branches to snap. If in doubt, consult a professional. One more tip: Excessively moist soil is another culprit for trees toppling over in winds. Check the forecast and lower your watering schedule in advance of a monsoon.

Power Preparedness

Do you know where your electrical panel is? In case of a blackout during a power surge, you should be able to find the circuit breaker without issue. Make sure big electronics like your computer and appliances have surge protectors, and stock an emergency kit for any extended outages with a flashlight, batteries and water. 

After Care

The day after a storm hits is an important time to take stock and reset your yard for the next one. Remove any debris, branches, roof tiles or other casualties, clean out the gutters, check on your drainage strategy, and change the air filter on the AC if it’s clogged with dust (you should be changing it regularly once a month in the summer).

Monsoons and summer storms bring much-needed rain but they can create havoc.  We have seen some amazing storm photos on social media.  Did you capture any?  We’d love to hear from you and see!

Contact Chris & Cheryl

A Few Tips When Traveling With Pets

Frontier Town Cowboy statue photoWhen you’re planning an upcoming move or just taking a trip, you may not think twice about bringing the family pets along. You’ve got packing, buying and selling, and tons of other changes to make, but don’t forget about your furry companions in the midst of all the moving chaos! Pets can be difficult to relocate, depending on the type of animals your family has, so it’s always important to brush up on the best tips and suggestions for ensuring that your animals have the smoothest and safest relocation experience possible.  After all, they’re members of the family, too, so don’t leave them out when you’re making plans for how to handle your big move.

Identification and Certification
Whether you’re going to be traveling with your pets by car or by air, you need to make sure you have everything within quick and easy reach before you set out for your new home with your furry friends in tow. Make sure your pets’ identification tags and paperwork are either on your pet’s collar or in your purse or other nearby travel luggage. ID tags should include your pet’s name, your new address, your name and a telephone number. You should also consider getting your pet microchipped if you haven’t already.

Collars, Leashes, and Carriers
Your pet should always be wearing a collar and kept on a leash or in a carrier when traveling. Once again, this is applicable when traveling by vehicle or by air. You may think it’s alright to put your pet in the car without a collar or leash on, especially if you’ve got a pet who loves to ride in the car. However, a long trip and a lot of chaos and confusion could cause your pet to jump out of the vehicle at a pit stop, and having identification on will make it much easier for you to find your furry friend if this happens.

Food, Water, and Pit Stops
Always provide your pet with plenty of food and water when traveling. And if you’re driving, be sure you stop for potty breaks as often as necessary, too. You wouldn’t expect your kids to hold it for more than a few hours on the road at a time, so don’t expect the same from your pets. Cats will need access to a litter box in the car, while dogs will be happy to just stretch their legs and do their business on a leashed potty break.