Importance of a Home Inspection

by Sara Seeger 4. March 2014

Home Inspection

Caveat emptor! You may have heard these two Latin words before, meaning “let the buyer beware.” In today’s real estate market, many homes are being sold “as-is.” This clause frees the seller from being responsible for fixing any repairs to the home, no matter how large or detrimental. Whether or not the property is being sold “as-is,” it is important for a potential buyer to schedule a home inspection before going through with the sale for many reasons.

1. Safety

The most important reason for getting a home inspection is safety. Not only does a home inspector check to ensure floors, walls, stairs, and surroundings are all deemed “livable” and safe, a home inspection can uncover health safety issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold. Many home inspectors will walk around with the potential buyers and explain to them how to work the instruments in their new home, such as the furnace, and how to operate the gas valve and the main water value.

2. Negotiating Tool

After receiving a home inspection, the potential buyer will receive a home inspection report. This report offers an opportunity for the buyer to request repairs to be done to the house, request a price reduction, or request a credit from the seller. It is important to ask your realtor what requests can and should be made to negotiate a better deal.

3. It Provides an "Out"

A home inspection can disclose important information about the condition of a home and its appliances; thereby allowing the buyer to be aware of potential repairs needed and estimated costs for these repairs, as well as required home maintenance. The buyer can then make a decision to assume the expense or to back out of the offer to purchase the house.

4. Forecast Future Repair Costs

A home inspector can estimate the installation age of major systems in a home like plumbing, heating, and cooling. He can also analyze the existing condition of the home structure. All systems in a house have a “shelf-life.” By understanding when these systems require replacement, a buyer can make important budgeting decisions.

At a minimum, the items below are an important area for an examiner to check during a home inspection.

  • Foundation
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Doors, ceilings, walls and floors
  • Roof, heating and air conditioning
  • Hazardous material concerns, such as asbestos
  • Proper insulation and ventilation

Purchasing a house could be one of the largest investments a person will make in his/her life. For a reasonable fee, a home inspection will provide the buyer peace of mind, as well as information to make an intelligent buying decision.

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5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home

5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home

by Sara Seeger 22. January 2014

Home Improvements

It's a new year, which for most of us means it’s time to make a new resolution. Perhaps you want to eat healthier, or go to the gym more frequently, or be a more patient person. How about a resolution that results in not only a better you, but a better home? Make a resolution to dedicate your time and energy to one project each month that improves the look of your home (for those of you who refuse to make resolutions, call it a “plan”). There are many small, inexpensive fixes that can be done to the inside and outside of your house to improve its overall look and value! While you’re stuck inside this winter you can channel your inner creativity and put some of those Pinterest ideas to work.

1. Freshen up Walls with a New Color

Tired of your bland eggshell bedroom walls or bright lemon bathroom walls? Paint is a great, low-cost option to improve the overall look of your home. Changing the color of your walls changes the entire personality of the room. Not sure how a color will look on your walls? The Behr Paint website offers customers the option to preview their vision with a tool that simulates the look of their choice of paint color. Paint stores also sell small jars of paint for you to test-run on a small wall area before committing to the color. The cost of paint and supplies will depend upon the size of the space and the quality of the paint and could cost as little as $100-$150 for an average-size room.

*Hint: Don't just stop at painting your walls. You can also update your front door with fresh paint, or update your kitchen by painting the cabinets which is much more cost effective than a total kitchen restoration!

Crown Molding

2. Add Personality with Decorative Molding

Decorative molding offers a more finished, put-together look. While many homes have baseboards, newer homes often lack the decorative touch of ceiling molding. Once you have the proper amount of molding, you can easily install it yourself. The cost of molding depends upon the size of the room and the style of molding and typically averages $3 a foot. I added decorative crown molding to my half bath to give it a more defined, nautical look (after a fresh coat of paint, of course).

3. Throw Down an Area Rug

Are there stains on the carpet or scratches on the wood floor? Replacing carpet or wood floors can be extremely expensive and time consuming, and in many cases will require the skills of a professional. A more cost-effective solution to this problem is to purchase an area rug. An area rug adds a splash of color to your room and serves to easily hide any unsightly stains and blemishes. Target, HomeGoods, and Bed Bath and Beyond have fairly inexpensive area rugs. Remember to take advantage of sales and discounted coupons!

Crown Molding

4. Accent with a Backsplash

Two rooms in a home that really add value are the kitchen and bathroom. What better way to add a touch of elegance to these rooms than by adding a pop of color in the form of a backsplash. At first thought, adding a backsplash sounds like an intimidating do-it-yourself project, but I decided to dive in and try it. To my surprise it was much easier than I expected! I found the cost of most tile to be about $10 a sheet (I used two sheets), a tub of grout runs about $8, and two self-adhesive panels for the tiles cost me $2/sq. ft. For me, the result was a very affordable bathroom transformation!

5. Plant a Garden

Spring will be here before you know it. Landscaping your front or backyard doesn’t have to be expensive to improve the overall look of your home. Visit your local nursery and grab some colorful flowers. You can plant them around the front of your house or even edge your walkway. Add some fresh mulch to help curb appeal. Don’t have room for a garden? I live in a row home in the city with no grass, so I bought a big, decorative flower pot to sit outside my home. I’m able to change the plants and flowers depending on the time of the year, and a decorative solar light adds interest and showcases the plants.

For more cost effective ways to improve the look of your home- check out our Pinterest board!

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Digital Tools That Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

by Sara Seeger 13. January 2014

New Year’s resolutions are one of the hardest promises to keep. It’s not uncommon for us to surrender our commitment shortly after we start due to lack of energy, willpower, support, or a plethora of other lame excuses. Fortunately for us, there are convenient apps and digital tools that we can use to help us achieve our resolutions.

Healthy Produce

1. Dieting and Healthy Eating

After all of that holiday overindulging, many of us resolve to eat healthier or diet. MyFitnessPal has a free app and an online tool to assist us with a healthier lifestyle. This digital tool has an easy to use calorie counter where we can search for food and track calories from more than 3 million entries. Record what you eat and the app will calculate the number of calories you’ve eaten. The app also offers numerous exercise options and a motivational tool for you to share your progress with others who use the app. A little friendly competition to keep us on target can’t hurt.

2. Smoking Cessation

There are numerous apps that can help smokers nix the habit. One such app is called, Quit It Lite. Quit It is a free app that uses motivation to encourage and support smokers to quit and to motivate ex-smokers to stay away from tobacco. This app tracks the number of cigarettes a person doesn’t smoke, the amount of money a person saves by not smoking, and shows the health benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle, all while calculating a ranking that is specific to the individual. So, if the health benefits aren’t enough to motivate a smoker to quit, the financial savings may do the trick!

3. Learn Something New

Tired of trying to achieve the same New Year’s resolution year after year? Why not set your sights on learning a new language? Duolingo is a free app and website tool that allows users to master up to six languages through engaging games that assess reading, writing, and speaking skills. You can choose to compete against yourself to maintain high scores, or if you need a little extra motivation, you can compete against friends. This app makes learning a language fast, fun, and convenient.

Organization

4. Get Organized

Do you have a lot on your mind? Do you forget important events like meetings, birthdays, or (yikes!), wedding anniversaries? EasilyDo Smart Assistant is a free app that proactively reminds you of important events. It also organizes contacts, checks traffic reports, sends bad weather notifications, and tracks packages- all in the convenience of one app. This app allows you to save time and stay on top of everything you need to remember so you can stay out of the “doghouse.”

5. Help Others

Interested in giving back to your community? VolunteerMatch is a free app and website tool that allows users to connect with great causes. Users can search more than 62,000 available volunteer opportunities to find the perfect match for them. The app enables users to search geographically to choose organizations near their home, work, or school. This option gives people the flexibility to volunteer outside of their own “backyard.”

6. Get Your Finances in Order

Many people resolve to manage their money better, specifically to spend less and save more. Mariner360, from 1st Mariner Bank, can assist with this goal. Mariner360 is an online individual money management tool that helps users develop, track, and continuously monitor their expenses and budgeting strategies. It is free to all Online Banking customers, and is robust enough to track all of your accounts, regardless of financial institution. Start your New Year off on the right foot and set solid financial goals with Mariner360.

Organization begins with Mariner360

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