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.

 

Storage Tips for Small Kitchens

small kitchen photoDo you have a small kitchen? Are you looking for ways to spruce up your space and make the most of what you have to work with? Whether you live in an older home with a more old-fashioned kitchen design or you live in an apartment without a lot of space to work with, don’t worry. You have options when it comes to figuring out the best way to put your kitchen storage to work for you. Check our tips below to help you find the best options for your needs.

Tall cabinets

There’s no reason why you can’t stack cabinets or install tall ones that go all the way to the ceiling. Although this may be a unique design option, it’s sure to give you plenty of space to store everything you need in your kitchen. Just make sure you put the items you don’t use as frequently up on those high shelves, and don’t forget to keep a stepstool or ladder close by so you can reach the higher items as needed.

Hanging Pots

Hang up your pots and pans suspended from the ceiling to maximize the storage space you have in your cabinets. This will help you keep everything much more organized and will give you plenty of room to store other items, such as your dishes or your slow cooker.

Drawer organization

Purchase some low-cost draw organizers to help you keep your utensils in the right place at all times. Don’t waste a drawer in your kitchen on a “junk drawer,” and try to maximize the amount of drawer space you have to work with.

Wall-mounted shelves

Hang shelves on the wall and use them for storing things like mugs, dishes you use frequently, and other items you’ll want to reach on a regular basis. This is also a good place to keep spices if you don’t have a specific spice cabinet, but take care not to let it look too cluttered or end up overflowing with spices, either.

Try an island

Some kitchens are too small for an island, and if that’s true of your kitchen, there’s no need to try to squeeze one in. However, if you have enough room for it, put in a small island and be sure to choose one that has built-in shelves, drawers, or both. This will give you a chance to store even more using the new space you’ve created. Try a rolling island that you can move out of the way as needed if you’re having trouble finding space for a stationary one.

Are you looking to purchase a condo or downsize?  Contact us today  or click here to create a custom home search 

 

 

Pet Travel Tips

Unlocking a front door photo

Do you take a lot of trips? Do you live bringing along the furry members of your family? Have you ever tried to travel with more exotic or unique types of pets? There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re planning a trip with the pets in your household, and it’s always a good idea to be completely aware of the safety and travel tips that can help you make the most of the experience. Below, we’ve put together a list of our top four favorite tips to help make traveling with your pet safer and more comfortable for everybody involved.

Practice First

If you’re driving, practice taking your pet on car trips ahead of time to get everyone used to the experience. Start with short trips around town and work your way up to an hour or more in the car to make sure your pet will be able to handle a longer trip.

Bring Everything

Make sure you pack everything you think you might need for your pet during your trip. Bring extra food, towels, bedding, a leash and collar, ID tags, vet records, treats, and favorite toys. It’s better to be too prepared than not prepared enough!

Pick the Right Crate

Whether you’re flying or driving, make sure your pet is secured in a safe, sturdy, well-ventilated crate. For flying, you’ll need a crate approved by the USDA for animal shipping. Freeze some water and put it in the crate before boarding the plane or loading up the car. This way, the water won’t get spilled before the trip begins and it will melt slowly, providing your pet with a drinking source through the whole experience.

Different Needs for Different Pets

If you’re not traveling with a cat or dog, but instead with a different type of animal, remember that there are other considerations you’ll need to keep in mind. For example, if you have a pet snake, you can transport your snake in a cloth pillowcase inside a ventilated plastic container. Birds can often be kept in ventilated cat carriers, but not always, so research your specific bird for more information. Fish should be removed from their tanks and placed in individual baggies or cups before travel.

With the right tips and tricks, you’ll be able to have an enjoyable trip with your favorite furry family member without worry. There’s a lot more to learn about traveling safely and effectively with your pets, however, so don’t forget to read up on information about the specific type of animal you’ll be traveling with when the time comes.

Are you looking to buy or sell a home? Contact us!  We are local area expert in Scottsdale, AZ and surrounding areas.

How to Keep Your Home Safe When Traveling

North Scottsdale homeWhen you go on vacation, you’re probably caught up in a whirlwind of information you need to keep track of. You want to be sure someone is taking care of your pets, that you have your travel itinerary all under control, that you’ve packed everything you’ll need and that you get to the airport on time if you’re flying. With all these thoughts to worry about, you may find yourself neglecting the house you’ll be leaving behind. Of course, if you’re only going to be gone for a couple of days, there’s not a lot you’ll need to do to take care of your home before travel. However, longer trips mean you’ll need to do some prep work at home before you ever leave.

Leave on Some Lights

It’s always a good idea to leave on a few lights in and around your home while you’ll be gone. Not only will this give the appearance of someone being at home in case any intruders take notice, but also it will make the area outside your home brighter at night too. This will make it more obvious if anyone is trying to sneak inside. If you have motion lights or lights on a timer, be sure to use them while you’re gone, too.

Let the Neighbors Know

Even if you aren’t very close to your neighbors, it’s a good idea to let someone know you’ll be out of town. This way, if your neighbor notices something odd—like a strange car parked in front of your house—they can check in with you and call the proper authorities if it’s necessary, too. You might also want to leave a key with the same neighbor just in case someone needs to be able to get into your house.

Keep the Lawn and Shrubs Trimmed

Make sure your lawn and shrubs are trimmed before you go. If you’ll be gone a long time, schedule someone to come and take care of either or both of these areas while you’re away too. This will make it look like someone is still at home, and it will also make it more difficult for potential intruders to hide behind any unruly shrubs that might have become overgrown while you’re away.

Don’t Post on Social Media

It’s tempting to let everybody know when you’ll be leaving, but remember that anyone can see the posts you make on social media. This includes those you might not want to know you’re away from your home. You can always save your vacation pictures to show off when you get back—and this might make a big difference toward ensuring your home’s safety while you’re gone.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a safer experience for your home the next time you travel. Although they’re not a requirement for shorter visits, you can always put them into practice during any trip, regardless of the amount of time you’ll be away.

We are local real estate experts helping home buyer and seller in Scottsdale, Arizona and surrounding areas.  Contact us if you are looking to sell or buy a home.