Useful Tips Archives - Comey & Shepherd Realtors

Category Archives: Useful Tips

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs

When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you’ll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”

It’s important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.

The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.

The same article continues to say,

“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community’s CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can’t live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”

Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.

There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, talk with a Comey & Shepherd agent so you have a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home.

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase…and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal market. This means that in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Source: KCM Blog

4 Tips to Sell Your Home Faster

Since June of last year, we have seen an increase in the inventory of homes for sale month per month. Every spring and summer, the inventory increases because people want to sell their home. For those with children, they may want to be in their new home for the beginning of the school year.

If you are one of those sellers, you may find these 4 tips helpful in getting your home sold more quickly.

1. Make buyers feel at home

Declutter your home! Pack away all personal items like pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings. Make them feel like they belong in this house! According to the Profile of Home Staging by the National Association of Realtors,

“83% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Not only will your house spend less time on the market, but the same report mentioned that,

“One-quarter of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered between 1 – 5%, compared to other similar homes on the market that were not staged.”

2. Keep it organized

Since you took the time to declutter, keep it organized! Before the buyers show up, pick up toys, make the bed, and put away clean dishes. It is also a good idea to put out some cookies fresh from the oven or a scented candle. Buyers will remember the smell of your home! According to the same report, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers.

3. Give buyers full access

One of the top four elements when selling your home is access! If your home is available anytime, that opens up more opportunity to find a buyer right away. Some buyers, especially those relocating, don’t have much time available. If they cannot get into the house, they will move on to the next one.

4. Price it right

As we mentioned at the beginning, more inventory coming into the market guarantees there will be some competition. You want to make sure your home is noticed. The key to selling your house in 2019 is ensuring it is Priced to Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the greatest amount of buyers and will sell at a great price before more competition comes to market!

Bottom Line

If you want to sell your house in the least amount of time at the best price with as little hassle as possible, a Comey & Shepherd professional is a useful guide. Call them today to find out what you need to do to sell your home more quickly.

Source: KCM blog

5 Powerful Reasons to Own Instead of Rent

Owning a home has great financial benefits.

In a recent research paper, Homeownership and the American Dream, Laurie S. Goodman and Christopher Mayer of the Urban Land Institute explained:

“Homeownership appears to help borrowers accumulate housing and nonhousing wealth in a variety of ways, with tax advantages, greater financial flexibility due to secured borrowing, built-in ‘default’ savings with mortgage amortization and nominally fixed payments, and the potential to lower home maintenance costs through sweat equity.”

Let’s breakdown 5 major financial benefits of homeownership:

1. Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available

Homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. A 20% down payment results in a leverage factor of five, meaning every percentage point rise in the value of your home is a 5% return on your equity. If you put down 10%, your leverage factor is 10.

Example: Let’s assume you purchased a $300,000 home and put down $60,000 (20%). If the house appreciates by $30,000, that is only a 10% increase in value but a 50% increase in equity.

2. You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent

Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of property taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs (property taxes, repairs, insurance, etc.) are baked into the rent payment already – along with a profit margin!!

3. Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”

Studies have shown that homeowners have a net worth that is 44X greater than that of a renter. As a matter of fact, it was recently estimated that a family buying an average priced home this past January could build more than $42,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Owning is a hedge against inflation

House values and rents tend to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation. When you own, your home’s value will protect you from that inflation.

5. There are still substantial tax benefits to owning

We know that the new tax reform bill puts limits on some deductions on certain homes. However, in the research paper referenced above, the authors explain:

“…the mortgage interest deduction is not the main source of these gains; even if it were removed, homeowners would continue to benefit from a lack of taxation of imputed rent and capital gains.”

Bottom Line

From a financial standpoint, owning a home has always been and will always be better than renting.

Source: KCM Blog

Top 5 Reasons You Should NOT FSBO

Rising home prices coupled with a lack of inventory in today’s market may cause some homeowners to consider selling their home on their own (known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner). However, a FSBO might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

The top 5 reasons are listed below:

1. Online Strategy for Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 95% of buyers search online for a home. In comparison, only 13% use print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 50% on the Internet
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 28% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by putting up a sign and listing it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong Internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become Increasingly Difficult

The paperwork involved in the process has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 7% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, they may actually cost themselves more. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance of a bidding war for the property. The study found the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6%.

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent without additional cost?

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house on your own, let’s get together to discuss your needs.

 

Source: KCM Blog

5 Reasons to Sell Your House This Summer

Here are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other for the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in most of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners are granted the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their home over the last couple of years for fear that they would not find a home to move in to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you to decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. Buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 43 days. (Last numbers available.)

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, it will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to start living the life you desire.

Source: KCM blog

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process, but the most common moving nightmares fall into three categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. Regardless of the excuses you receive, the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late or lack the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated, based on alleged extra services. They may also hold your belongings hostage until you pay an extra “fee” as ransom or steal your more expensive belongings and discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed, and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. If there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from your home’s entrance. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time but also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

Moving involves a lot of loose ends, and even the smallest oversight can result in a disastrous move.

  • Packing chaos. You realize you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers, and some items can’t be loaded onto the moving truck. Or maybe you don’t label the boxes properly. Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may have to leave treasured pieces behind or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and delay your move.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget or pack all your items without sorting them out first, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of these all-too-common moving ordeals.

Source: Zillow.com

4 Tips for Making a Competitive Offer

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call ‘home,’ and you’ve finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Below are 4 steps provided by Freddie Mac to help buyers make offers, along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Determine Your Price

“You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? Your real estate agent will be by your side, helping you determine an offer price that is fair.”

Based on your agent’s experience and key considerations (like similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood or the condition of the house and what you can afford), your agent will help you to determine the offer that you are going to present.

Getting pre-approved will not only show home-sellers that you are serious about buying, but it will also allow you to make your offer with confidence because you’ll know that you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.

2. Submit an Offer

“Once you’ve determined your price, your agent will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! A licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.

3. Negotiate the Offer

“Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent, detailing their desired changes, at this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.

Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.

4. Act Fast

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as quickly as possible.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a Comey & Shepherd real estate professional who is an expert in his or her market on your side is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s talk about how we can make your dream of homeownership a reality!

Source: KCM blog

Real estate ready: Smart tips for first-time homebuyers

(BPT) – Today’s first-time homebuyers face a variety of hurdles when trying to enter the real estate market. While interest rates have declined recently and there are signs that more inventory may be coming onto the market, many buyers continue to feel frustration in finding and financing a home.

Additionally, high levels of student loan debt and entry-level jobs that didn’t pay as much as expected have made homeownership financially difficult for millennials. Many have opted to move in with their parents, and since then have been saving money to purchase a home.

Although being a first-time homebuyer is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. Whether you’re purchasing a home for yourself, with your spouse, or because you’re growing your family, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth process and happy outcome so you don’t have to delay your decision to buy a home.

Explore what you can afford
It’s important to purchase a home that is within your means, but it’s often difficult to know what you can actually afford. Start by using the Shop by Payment feature at Vylla (www.vylla.com.) If you know what you can afford for rent, use that as a guide for your search to see how it translates into monthly mortgage payments. Many renters are surprised to find out they can become homeowners for about the same monthly amount they’re currently paying their landlord.

Save for closing costs
There are some “hidden costs” associated with buying a home. Closing costs, or fees included at the closing of a real estate transaction, can include a number of charges such as appraisal and attorney fees, recording fees, title and escrow charges. Buyers and sellers often split closing costs, and buyers can typically expect to pay 3 to 4 percent of the cost of the home in closing costs. That means if you buy a $200,000 home, estimated closing costs will be between $6,000 and $8,000. Working with a transparent real estate and mortgage company will also help you manage costs to ensure there are no surprises along the way.

Manage debt and down payments
You may have heard that you need to eliminate debt and save 20 percent down to purchase a home. Although those are good goals, there are more flexible loan products available today for many types of borrowers. Many lenders have loan programs that make it possible for borrowers with some debt or less-than-perfect credit to qualify for mortgage loans, eliminating some of the barriers first-time homebuyers face. You may be able to qualify for a loan with a down payment of just 3.5 percent.

Research neighborhoods
Housing varies greatly from city to city, and even block to block. It’s important to research the areas you want to live in to ensure you’re happy and making a good investment. This will be unique to each homebuyer, but it may be important for you to consider school boundaries, population demographics, crime rates, access to resources like public transportation and commute times to work.

Streamline to reduce stress
Many homebuying steps are disconnected, which can cause a lot of stress. Consider a one-stop platform like Vylla.com that seamlessly integrates the mortgage process with home search and home purchasing steps to provide everything under one roof. Plus, you can work with a single point of contact who works with real estate agents, title and escrow services and more for a seamless experience.

Think long-term
Although your first home won’t likely be your last, it’s important to think long-term when making such a big investment. According to the National Association of Realtors®, the average amount of time a homeowner stays in a house is 10 years. You want something that you plan to live in for at least the next few years, as well as something that suits your future plans. Don’t just think about what you want now; try to visualize your life down the road and make sure this house fits the vision as much as possible.

A few smart steps can make the first-time homebuying experience easy and stress free. With a little proactive planning and a few good resources, you’ll have keys to your home in hand in no time.

Easy DIY projects to enhance your yard and garden

(BPT) – Itching for summer to arrive, when you can get out and enjoy your yard? Why not plan a DIY project to improve your outdoor space, while encouraging everyone in the family to get outside and have fun together?

Here are some projects to consider, and the prep work involved.

Check your deck

Does your existing deck need repair? Check for loose balusters, rocky railing or other issues needing attention. If you want to resurface your deck or build a new deck, measure the area and research how much decking you’ll need. Fortunately, there are free online deck plans and design tools available, especially on your favorite home improvement center’s website or at treatedwood.com. Many include cost calculators to help determine your expenses. Check with your local municipality for building codes and a building permit before beginning construction.

When choosing materials to create the deck of your dreams, not just any wood will do. Wood is now available that is treated with more environmentally-advanced preservatives, with stabilizers that can weather the elements while still retaining the beauty of real wood. Ecolife pressure-treated wood is ideal for decking, deck framing, railing, joists and beams. Ecolife’s advanced wood stabilizing preservative system makes wood look better longer and repels water for up to two years, providing maximum protection and enhanced performance for outdoor projects exposed to harsh sun, drenching rain and heavy snow.

For projects that come in contact with or are within 6 inches from the ground, such as support posts, stair stringers and ledger boards, a higher retention level of preservatives is required to fight against fungal decay and termite attack at ground level. Both Ecolife and ground contact wood are treated to required levels to protect against fungal decay and termite attack.

Enhance your garden

To increase your yard’s beauty while encouraging plant and flower growth, make simple wooden structures for your garden that can be completed in a weekend. The easiest project is a trellis, which can be any size latticework designed for climbing plants to grow up them. Similarly, an arbor combines two trellises with an overhead arch to create a passage or gateway. An arbor beautifully embellishes any path or walkway with flowering plants growing up and over it.

A pergola takes that idea one step further, creating a scaffolding of overhead wooden beams for your yard, patio or deck that can be used for installing a ceiling fan, hanging plants or flowers, or a sun shade.

The gazebo resembles a mini “house,” usually raised from the ground, which can be screened in if desired. Gazebos are wonderful little retreats to enjoy the outdoors while still feeling the comfort of seating and other furniture, along with a roof for keeping out the elements.

Raised gardens

For the green thumb in the family, raised planter beds decrease the back-breaking work of planting and weeding, while keeping out neighborhood critters. Attach chicken wire or other screening to discourage smaller animals from munching on your garden.

Outdoor furnishings

Love to grill and eat outdoors? Why not build your own benches or picnic table? They provide a wonderfully rustic look as well as being sturdy. You can add removable cushions for comfort.

Playtime

Nothing could be more fun for kids than watching or helping to build a play set, sandbox or treehouse. If kids help, educate kids about safety rules that you follow, such as wearing gloves, goggles and a mask while working with wood.

Add privacy and beauty

A well-designed stained or painted fence can enhance the look of your garden, patio or deck while adding privacy and keeping out neighborhood animals. A variety of fence styles are available to serve many purposes. From containing pets to providing safety for your children, fences can help block wind and noise, enclose HVAC and trash bin areas and add curb appeal. All you need are posts, pickets and backer rails or fence panels to complete your project.

If you’re new to building, start with smaller projects like a trellis or sandbox. Once you’re more confident or have experience, consider larger, more complex projects you’re dreaming about. Engage the family in brainstorming ideas to make your yard and garden a great place to hang out together. For more information about Ecolife, visit treatedwood.com.