June 2018 - Comey & Shepherd Realtors

10 Ways To Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Keep your home from being a target with these easy tips.

The season of long weekends and beach getaways is upon us, and the last thing any homeowner wants to imagine when they’re soaking in the sun or taking a dip at the lake is a burglar snooping around their empty home. While there is no use in being paranoid about your belongings while you’re away, home security shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it’s the right season to be wary: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that household burglary rates are highest in the summer.

So whether you’re getting away for the day or weekend or taking an extended vacation, put these 10 summer holiday safety tips to work and make your home less of a target for robbers this season — or any season.

1. Beef up security systems
Sure, you’ve set the alarm and have motion-activated lights outside, but there are some additional things you should consider doing to protect your home. For instance, install a heavy-duty lock strike plate on your door; it’s the weakest part and where thieves may try to break in. You can also add sash pins to double-hung windows to make them more secure.

2. Make your home look lived in
One big clue to burglars that you’ve gone away during the summer? An unkempt lawn. Be sure to mow it before you leave — or hire someone to keep it trimmed while you’re gone — so your home looks well cared for. The same precaution can be transferred to winter months — if you’re expecting a big snow, have someone on retainer to shovel your walk and driveway.

3. Don’t keep your windows open
String lights can be a great way to illuminate a deck or outdoor space during summer months, but don’t run electrical extension cords through your windows. If your windows don’t close and latch, you’re sending burglars an invitation to invade.

4. Don’t fall for door-to-door solicitations
A common way to scope out what kind of goodies you have in your home is by posing as a charity asking for donations. If someone comes to your door, don’t open it, or ask for an ID that links them to the charity — and don’t let them see inside.

5. Use the latest tech
Take advantage of a devices like FakeTV, which mimics the flickering light of a TV to make it look as though you are home. Other home automation devices, like Wi-Fi-enabled security systems or plug-in devices that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely with your cellphone, can also help ward off thieves.

6. Keep your valuables out of sight
That shiny new laptop, your favorite jewelry, or basically anything valuable you’ve forgotten to stash out of sight could tempt burglars. Before you head out of town, do a quick walk-through in each room and hide all valuables.

7. Make a record of valuables
It’s a good idea to take pictures of your stuff — particularly big-ticket items such as laptops and TVs — and keep serial numbers in a safe place. Should the worst happen, you’ll have a record of what was taken and be able to confirm your things are truly yours if they are recovered by police.

8. Do your packing out of sight
Sure, you have to make room for the bikes, load up the boogie boards, and stash away some snacks, but be smart about where you pack up the car. If possible, keep your car in the garage or out of sight, advises Heather Dodson, a real estate agent at Team Leung in Greensboro, NC.

9. Be smart about boxes
If you’ve bought new gear to bring along on your summer vacation, don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for everyone to see. Instead, break down the cardboard and put it in your container for recycling or trash pickup.

10. Don’t publicize your vacation plans
It’s hard to fight the allure of Facebook and Instagram. But it’s probably not the best idea to share your travel plans online with your 500 closest friends. Your Facebook profile might not be as private as you think — and it’s better not to take the risk.

Top 5 Home Improvements That Increase Your Home’s Value

With all the home improvement ideas out there, discovering the ones that’ll increase your return on investment can be difficult. The bathroom and kitchen are the hubs of the home and improving these will instantly add value to your property. These two areas are always an excellent place to start your home improvements. However, if your kitchen and bathroom already look great and are in excellent condition, there’s no reason to disturb their aesthetics. Instead, implement these five budget-friendly home improvements throughout your home to boost your home’s value.

Hardwood flooring

Updating the floors is one of the best home improvements you can do to increase your home’s value. However, you don’t have to tear apart the entire house to receive these benefits. Instead, focus on larger and/or weathered areas to highlight your home improvements. Replacing old carpet or tile with modern options, such as hardwood or mosaics, will bring an immediate rise in property value.

  • Refinish hardwood floors for a cost-effective home improvement

Update fixtures

Some of the best home improvements can be done throughout your entire house without having to tear or rip anything apart. Old fixtures can be found in every room, including light fixtures, door handles, faucets, and cabinet knobs.  Although small, if the fixtures are worn and dated, they can negatively affect the entire appeal of your home. It’s a small, yet incredibly effective update.

  • Replace old fixtures with modern options to receive an immediate increase in your home’s value

Revamp old cabinets

Another home improvement tip for one of the most important rooms in the house is to revamp old cabinets. This doesn’t have to be restricted just to the kitchen. If the cabinets in your bathroom or even dressers in the bedrooms are worn, give them a paint job or re-stain them. It’s a quick fix that is also affordable and will increase the value of your home.

  • Re-stain or repaint cabinets, drawers and dressers

Enhance curb appeal

The exterior of your home should not be forgotten when executing home improvements to increase the value. When you decide to list your home, it’s the first thing prospective buyers will see. It takes a second for an initial impression to be made and you want to ensure your curb appeal entices offers instead of repelling them.

Invest in some new plants, flowers and maintain your front lawn. Analyze the exterior of the home and tackle any repairs that contribute to the overall curb appeal, such as a cracked driveway, crooked fence, chipped paint, etc.

  • By addressing the curb appeal, you’ll bring in more offers at a higher value.

Make it energy efficient

Prospective buyers are interesting in buying a home that’s affordable beyond the mortgage. Cold drafts coming through the windows, poor electrical, outdated fixtures and incandescent lights will drive buyers away due to the extra cost of living.

Spend time to upgrade various features of your home to embrace an energy efficient lifestyle. Trade out incandescent lights for LED, reseal windows, replace old weather stripping, and fix the leaking tap. Instantly, prospective buyers will see your home as being more affordable than the others.

Focus on these five elements that prospective buyers favor when purchasing a new home.

How to Know When a Home is Worth Buying

To buy a home, or to not buy a home. It’s a common debate for many people. There’s no denying that renting is basically paying for someone else’s monthly mortgage without receiving any equity from the property, but that does not always mean that buying a home is the better option for each individual. Everyone’s situation is different, and home buying can be expensive. People’s lifestyles also change and their motives for wanting to buy a house are just as varied. Determining whether or not it’s worth buying a home has a lot to do with individual specifics. It’s highly recommended to speak with a real estate agent who can give you detailed real estate advice based on the information you provide. However, the general costs and rewards of home buying can be found right now to help steer you in the right direction.

Maintenance Costs

When you buy a home, you are taking on the responsibility of maintenance costs. They’re inevitable for all homeowners, but they can be significant depending on the specific property. Before buying a home, maintenance costs and unexpected repairs must be considered. It’s recommended to hold back 1% of the home’s value annually for maintenance and appliance replacement, but that does not cover unexpected repairs.

Property Taxes

Property taxes can be a significant expense. The actual amount can fluctuate, and this must be considered before buying a home. There are a variety of factors to determine the amount of property taxes, such as the area, state, and local budget cuts, renovations, as well as many other things.

House Insurance

Many mortgage loan lenders require homeowners to have house insurance. Unlike rental insurance, which covers possessions, homeowners’ insurance covers both possessions and the cost of the property. Although it’s an extra expense, it’s beneficial to have even if it is not required. As for the cost of home insurance, it depends on the specifics, but you can get an estimate by dividing the home’s value by 1000, and then multiplying that by 3.5.

Tax Deductibility

A benefit that comes when you buy a home is the tax deductibility of mortgage interest. This number is hard to estimate from a general standpoint because it greatly depends on your specific financial situation. However, owning a home can provide you more savings than if you were to rent, simply because of the tax deductible.

Home’s Value Appreciating

The appreciation of a home’s value is generally high. However, this can change rather quickly depending on the housing market, as well as many other factors. ABC News estimates home prices will appreciate around 3%, according to the historical average. The thing that many people forget is that as a home’s value increases, the cost of maintenance and insurance does as well, due to inflation.

In terms of liquid money, home ownership won’t bring you much of that. However, buying a home does have the potential to bring you a high return on investment. More importantly, your monthly bills go towards something you own. When renting, you’re essentially paying someone else’s mortgage without receiving any ownership. Many additional factors also need to be considered when determining if buying a home is worth it, such as whether you want to buy a home as an investment property, plan on flipping the house, or want to retire in it. The first step is to answer the inevitable question, “Can I afford a home?” and these general guidelines can help you determine that.