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Date Archives: August 2015

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August
19

All good things must come to an end—at least for a short time. The summer holidays have been just what Indian Lake area residents needed to recharge their batteries, but now it's time to pack up summer and look toward the oncoming Fall. School and work routines await, but they don't have to be stressful. With a few end-of-summer DOs, you won't have to deal with beginning-of-fall DON'Ts.

 

August is a popular time for getting in those last minute travel opportunities, and burglars know this. If you're going to take advantage of a week away, be sure to take extra security measures so that you don't return home to the logistics nightmare of dealing with a break-in. (SEE our earlier post: Keeping Your Home Safe While You're Away on Vacation)

 

Organize the Closets. Before you start any back to school shopping, sort through your closets. Put together a donation bag of any items that are too small or you no longer wear. This will allow you to take stock of what you need and what you have room for. Now is a great time to also begin pulling out the winter wardrobe for assessment.

 

Time to Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. These detectors should be located outside the kitchen along with outside each bedroom of the house (multi-story houses should have detectors on EVERY floor). Make it a habit to annually test them, and replace batteries as needed throughout the year.

 

Clean the Bathroom Fan. Nobody wants mold or mildew in their bathroom. Unfortunately the extra humidity which summer brings means bathroom fans have to work even harder than usual to clear the air. It's recommended that you leave them on for a full 30 minutes after each shower to prevent mildew from forming. Cleaning is simple: remove the cover and use a vacuum attachment to suck up dust and dirt.

 

Prep Meals NOW for Rushed Nights LATER. Fall is busy with back to school, fiscal year ends, meetings, and the Holidays. Prepare for those nights that you'll be doing three things at once by making up meals ahead and freezing them. This is also a good time to go ahead and clean out your cupboards and pantry, eliminating old spices and stale cereals and crackers.

TIP: When you do your shopping, go ahead and put the extra effort in when putting your groceries away to wash, chop, and package. Finger-friendly fruits and veggies WILL get snacked on by kids, and are great for throwing lunches together. Prepare hamburger patties (season and form them), then freeze. Cube meat and veggies and freeze for an easy crock-pot meal. The options are limited only by your imagination.

 

Makeover the Mudroom. Get the kids excited about Back to School by freshening up the mudroom. Do a wall with chalk paint for a 'family communication board', add a few baskets or wall hooks for organization and storage. Giving kids their "own" designated spaces for backpacks and coats makes them feel special.

 

There's Never a Wrong Time to Prepare for an Emergency. Keep emergency kits up to date at all times with food, water, clothes, flashlights, first aid supplies, an emergency radio, prescription medications, and any other necessities you might need to survive.  

 

Inspect and Clean Gutters. The wet, cold months are coming. Clean and check gutters for any damage, and get them repaired before the weather moves in.

 

And last, but not least . . .

Give the Summer Toys a Damage Check and Cleaning. You know the saying about putting a horse away wet? You don't want to store your summer gear in less than good condition otherwise you'll have to deal with repairs, or worse, replacement, when you pull it all out next year. Not a fun way to start your summer.

TIP: This is the time of year for end of summer sales. If you've lost anything, like beach gear, keep an eye out for some deals that your wallet will appreciate! Remember, if you have to get these things at the START of next summer, the prices will be exorbitant.

August
17

 

 

Purchasing a home will be one of the most important investments of your life, and can be slightly overwhelming and even a bit scary at times throughout the process.  Here are some helpful tips to ensure that your first home purchase will run smoothly and be an exciting time of your life:

 

Save Up For a Down Payment

 

A majority of mortgage lenders will require a down payment of 5%-20% of the home sale price. First-time home buyers today may find it difficult to come up with such a large amount of cash, especially those who have recently graduated college with excessive amounts of student loan debt.

Luckily for young adults, home affordability and down payment assistance programs are offered by a majority of mortgage lenders.  

 

Find the Mortgage That Fits Your Needs

 

It's important to find a lender that is willing to communicate with you on an ongoing basis. The first step in your home buying process should be to find a  The First-Time Home Buyer Pulse revealed that saving for a down payment is a barrier to homeownership for many first-time buyers. That's why it's important to find a lender that helps buyers understand what they can afford and share what financing options are available. Today, mortgages are not one size fits all—to find the option that best fits their needs, buyers should discuss their financial situation with a lender they trust.

 

Factor Renovation Costs & Monthly Expenses

 

With today's low inventory of affordable homes for first-time buyers, many buyers will find themselves settling on a home that requires renovations or upgrades. These costs should be factored in at the start of the financing process so buyers are comfortable with their down payment and monthly payment and will have money available to make improvements. For buyers who have not lived on their own or for those who previously rented, the added costs of running a household can be a shock. Monthly costs for utilities, homeowner's association fees, cable, and Internet, can add up quickly. Factoring these expenses in at the beginning of the mortgage financing process can help borrowers better assess their overall budget and a realistic monthly mortgage payment.

 

Educate Yourself

 

Perhaps the single most important aspect of purchasing a home is to fully understand the mortgage and the overall home-financing process. Take advantage of educational courses offered by local financial institutions and government programs. In fact, TD Bank offers a First Time Home Buyer Seminar series that addresses all aspects of a home loan—starting with helping buyers decide if they're truly ready to own a home. Following that, the seminars share information on the criteria lenders use to evaluate a borrower, the documentation buyers will need to provide, what each portion of a mortgage payment goes toward, and the mortgage team that processes and approves the loan. These seminars are useful tools and provide valuable background for borrowers who are daunted or overwhelmed by the process.

 

 

While buying a home may feel overwhelming for first-time buyers, finding a lender you can trust will guide you in the right direction and help you prepare for the mortgage process.

August
10

 

Everybody loves the lazy days of summer in Ohio; sunshine, sleeping in, picnics, adventures. The one thing that makes summer a little unbearable at times is the HEAT. Let's face it, scorching temps lead to sweltering if you don't have access to air conditioning. Here are some budget-friendly tips and tricks for staying cool and keeping the utility bill from skyrocketing August to September.

 

Regardless of which brand, make, and model HVAC system you have, the ultimate savings on your energy bill will come from how you adjust your thermostat(s). To start, set the thermostat as high as you can while still being comfortable, but where the difference between the indoor and outdoor readings are as small as possible.

 

If you've been away, don't crank the thermostat down as soon as you get home to try and speed up the process. This will only strain your machine, making it work harder and expend more energy. It will not cool your house down any faster. Even better would be to take advantage of the Energy Saver programmable modemost thermostats come with for multi-room systems.  

 

How is the ventilation in your Logan County home? Proper ventilation can aid your cool-down efforts by improving indoor air quality, removing moisture and odors, and allowing refreshing outside breezes to transfer with stuffy indoor air. Evenings are a great time to open the doors and windows. Encourage airflow by installing fans throughout the house to help push the stuffy hot air out and pull the cooler evening air in.

  • ceiling fans should be set to run in a counterclockwise direction during summer months (draws cooler air up from the floor)

  • attic exhaust fans will pull hot air into the attic where vents can dissipate the heat

  • position portable fans near windows or basement door at night to pull cooler air from these areas into the home

 

If you're fortunate enough to be in the roughly 90% of US homeowners who have a/c, then you should cherish this appliance … take care of it, appreciate it, and keep the maintenance current. The last thing you want when it hits triple digits outside is to discover your unit isn't cooling.

  • Ensure you have adequate insulation in the walls and ceilings to keep hot air out and cool air in.

  • Caulk leaking windows and doors, and/or use draft stops (sometimes called 'snakes') to cover the gaps at the bottom of these entry points.

  • Aluminum blinds, insulated curtains, or window tint film can block sunlight from entering your home and heating up the place during the day.

  • CHANGE YOUR FILTERS REGULARLY. Easy and quick, this reduces the workload on your air conditioner and improves indoor air quality. Check filters once a month and clean out any dust particles which may clog.

  • Clean the coils. Outside units should be kept unobstructed and cleaned regularly. Use a soft-bristle nylon brush to gently remove any debris, and hose off any leaves or caked-on dirt. Clean the inside coils using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, or wipe down with a soft, damp cloth.

  • Call in a pro. It is still important to call in a reputable HVAC contractor to regularly look at your system. An annual tune-up will help guarantee you have an efficiently working air conditioning system and keep any warranties you have on the system active.
August
10

 

Moving is one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through. So many variables are up in the air and the days seem to disappear, leaving you with too much to do and not enough time to do it. At least it feels that way. Slowing down just a bit, and opening yourself up to having some fun with the move, can help reduce stress and alleviate tension for everyone involved. You, the kids, the pets . . . you want everyone happy where you end up, not miserable and drained from the whole experience.

 

Say Goodbye to the Old Home

Take photos before everything gets packed up. Document each room so you can revisit it later—either for the walk down memory lane or as a reference to help you recreate the space at your new house.  Be sure to grab shots of your kids or pets, if you have them, because these will help preserve the emotional record of your soon to be previous home.

Don't forget the messy photos, too! In the name of preserving that emotional record, take pictures of your home on an average day, when it's not clean, tidy, and perfect. This will help create lasting, meaningful memories. Some days you may find yourself looking at these when you wonder if moving was the right thing to do.

Leave your mark. Go for the classic time capsule, hidden in the attic or basement. Perhaps you could write a letter to the new owners, welcoming them to the house and sharing some of what made it a home for you. You could even go so far as to sign your name somewhere (linen closets or cupboards are great places) and date it.

Host a goodbye party. We always have housewarming parties, so why not have one to say good bye as well? This is a great chance to get all your neighborhood friends together for a final hoorah, as it were. You can pass out party favors with your new address. Maybe make the goodbye party a packing party? Be creative, have fun.

 

Getting Settled In Your New Home

Clean up. Start by cleaning surfaces, floors, and inside cupboards with a familiar, fresh-scented product to help make the place feel like yours.

Get fresh. Air out and freshen the house on moving day … fling open the windows. In the evening, light a few scented candles.

Reward yourself. When facing days of unpacking and putting away, having a few special goodies will help quell the chaos and encourage you to keep going. Fresh flowers, quality hand soaps, or maybe some new towels can add vibrancy and something special.

 

Moving is hard for pets, too!

To help the family kitty acclimate, keep the cat in a closed room for the first few days with water, a litter box, and its bed (if s/he uses one). Feel free to let your cat out for monitored exploration, but keep those contained to a few rooms at a time so that your four-legged friend doesn't get overwhelmed. If your cat is an outside animal, it's best to keep them in for at least a week to discourage them trying to return to the old house out of instinct and habit.

Now for man's best friend. Introduce your dog to the new house while on a leash. Take Fido around the key rooms, one at a time, allowing him to sniff and explore under your supervision. Point out where the doggy bed and food dishes will be kept. Consider keeping Fido to the first floor in the early days if you have a multi-story house, opening up the rest of the house as he adjusts to the new digs. Use this same approach out in the neighborhood as well. Daily walks will let your friend learn all the new scents and sounds, and get to know your neighbors while 'establishing' its new territory.

 

Personalize the place.

Full decorating may take months to get finalized but that doesn't mean the personal touches have to wait. Paint an accent wall, hang photos, or buy some new blinds.

Host a housewarming. You can start small and intimate with close friends and family, just a little get together to let them see the new place. Or you can go BIG … invite the whole neighborhood and make it a party! TIP: Don't place expectations on your guests to bring housewarming gifts. It'll be nice if they do, but just having them there to celebrate your new beginning should be plenty.

 

August
10

 

We all love getting to take vacation. In fact, for most American families, focusing on that coveted time off during the summer months is a beacon in the darkness of daily repetition. We need the time to recharge. What we don't need is to discover our sanctuary was invaded while taking that time to recharge, however.

Here are some handy ways to keep your Indian Lake home safe while you're traveling which won't break the bank. With a little pre-planning, you'll have peace of mind so you can relax and enjoy your down time.

 

1. Let Your Neighbors Know. It's important to give neighbors a heads-up if you'll be leaving town for a week or more.  Consider leaving an extra key (or at least your contact info and the phone number of someone local who has a key) with a neighbor that you have a good relationship with, in case of emergency.

TIP: While vacations are exciting, consider before posting upcoming plans to social media. This can be a big flag pointing to your EMPTY house. Better safe than sorry, wait to share details about your trip after it's happened and you're home again.

 

2. Timed Lights and Motion Sensors. Making your home appear occupied is the best way to deter break-ins. Basic timer kits can be picked up and installed to go on and off throughout the day in various parts of the house. Consider installing outdoor motion sensing lights if you don't already them. If you do, don't forget to make sure the bulbs are good.

 

3. Hire a Sitter. If you have pets you'll need to do this anyway, unless you plan to board them. However, having a person actually stay at your house, or at least coming and going on a regular basis during your absence is the best deterrent to unwelcome visitors. This person can collect the mail, newspapers, packages that may be delivered in while you're gone, and water your plants.

 

4. Lock It Up.  Not just the front and back doors. Be sure to go through the house and check all window latches, doors, and main entrances before you depart. Vacation day usually translates to controlled chaos. Sometimes not so controlled. Don't take chances, if you have to, put a large note on your keys or bags so you can't miss it.

 

5. Secure Sliding Glass Doors/Window. Place a wooden pole or thick dowel in the groove of the tracks after the door/window is shut. It won't stop glass from being busted out to get in, but will make your home a less desirable target.

 

6. Routines Are Everything. If you will be away for more than a week . . .

  • Ask a neighbor to handle your garbage and recycling bins out on trash day.

  • Don't let mail pile up. Either get a hold placed on it at the post office for while you're gone, or ask a friend/neighbor to collect it every couple of days. Same goes for your newspaper delivery.

 

7. Keep Landscape Visibility Friendly. Trimming trees and shrubs so that windows and doors are not blocked make it difficult for someone to break in unnoticed.

 

8. Don't Suspend Regular Services. If you have someone who comes on a regular basis to do yard work (regardless of season or weather), keep them coming. The routine is important, but coming home to a tidy yard or a shoveled driveway will prolong those vacation feel goods.

 

9. Hide the Valuables. You may leave an odd curtain or blind open for the sake of appearances. However, be aware that this could also invite a would-be burglar to scope the joint. Laptops, flat-screen TVs, and other expensive electronics within reach of a window make an easy mark for a smash-and-grab-type burglar.

 

10. Pipes! If you live in a cold area, wrapping outside faucets and asking a friend to stop by to flush toilets and run the inside faucets every now and again will go a long way towards preventing freezing pipes. And the subsequent destruction that come from burst pipes.

 

Now you've thought of everything. Make your list, check it off twice, and then get out of here … your vacation is waiting.  For information about vacation homes in Indian Lake, contact one of our agents!

 

August
3

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