REMEMBER TO INSPECT YOUR CEILINGS

Ceilings undergo a lot of stress—after all, they help hold up your house. Ignoring or neglecting a small problem can lead to a big problem and expensive repairs down the road, so here are a few key things to look out for with your ceilings.

Water-related issues in the bathroom: All the moisture from hot showers, baths, and splashed water can lead to damage, whether it’s mold or bubbling paint. Keep an eye out for water damage, and refer to a professional for anything that looks problematic.

Cracks: Changes in temperature cause the materials in your home to expand and contract, and that creates stress that leads to cracks. Cracks are especially problematic in newer homes, as they can be a sign of poor construction.

Paint problems: If you’re seeing a large section of peeling paint, it could be indicative of a water leak, so be sure to have it inspected immediately. Call a professional to take a look and make sure it gets fixed before there’s major water damage.




Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

FIVE ITEMS THAT YOU SHOULDN’T TRASH

Most of us fall into the habit of disposing of all of our household items when they’ve broken, expired, or simply are no longer useful. But for environmental and safety reasons, here are five items that need to be disposed of with care:

1. Old batteries: Batteries contain chemicals like alkaline, zinc, cadmium, and nickel. These chemicals can be hazardous if a battery deteriorates, so take your old batteries to a hazardous waste center.

2. CFL lightbulbs: CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they require different care once they burn out, because they contain mercury. Take them to a waste center.

3. Paint: Water-based paint is OK to be thrown in the trash. But oil-based paints can be hazardous. You could take them to a hazardous waste center, or you could donate the paint—community centers and non-profit organizations are a good start.

4. Electronics: Replacing your computer, or just getting rid of old junk? Instead of throwing your old electronics straight in the dumpster, take them to an e-waste center, or consider donating if the items are still useful.

5. Smoke detectors: Make sure to replace them every 10 years. Ionization smoke detectors actually emit a small amount of radiation, so you should mail them back to the manufacturer.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

MAKE YOUR BATHROOM EASIER TO CLEAN

Bathrooms can be the most difficult places in our homes to keep clean. However, with a few clever changes and upgrades, it can be much easier to clean and maintain your bathroom.

No-Touch Faucets: They’re not just for public restrooms, you know. A sensor on your bathroom faucet will eliminate one of the main touchable surfaces.

Install or upgrade the exhaust fan: The fan isn’t just for reducing odors or keeping the mirrors from fogging. The better your ventilation system in the bathroom, the easier it will be to prevent mildew and mold. It’ll also prevent paint from bubbling and peeling.

Easy-Clean Toilets: Whoever designed older toilets certainly didn’t design them with cleaning in mind! Newer toilets are often designed with smoother services that make cleaning a much simpler task—no more standing on your head to reach every toilet surface.

Remove grout: Germs and grime love to build up in the spaces between tile. Instead of tile, you can cover larger surfaces with glass or stone veneer, or simply use larger tiles. That’ll reduce the overall amount of grout in your bathroom.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

START HERE IF YOU NEED TO TACKLE SPRING/SUMMER MAINTENANCE

Winter is hard on your home. The weight of snow puts stress on your roof, and the cold expands and contracts the materials your home is made of. Now that winter weather is behind us, here’s where you should start with post-winter home maintenance.

Roof and shingles: It’s pretty common for shingles to get damaged or detach completely after a long cold winter. Thoroughly inspect your roof to ensure that shingles are in good condition and the roof is structurally sound. It may not be time to replace your roof yet, but consider how many more years it has left and start preparing a budget.

Check your gutters: The weight of heavy melting snow and debris is more than enough to make your gutters sag or loosen. Clear out all the leaves and other debris that’s collected in the gutters, and make sure they’re still securely attached at all points.

Check concrete surfaces: Fluctuating temperatures cause concrete to expand and contract. This can lead to damaged driveways, walkways, and other surfaces, and that can spell bad news for water drainage. Fill the cracks with an appropriate material, and seal your surfaces if possible.

HVAC service: Before you put your central air conditioner through a rigorous summer, clean the coils and change the filter. Better yet, bring in a professional for yearly maintenance.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

WHAT TO AVOID BEFORE YOU BUY

If you just bought your first home, you’re probably still celebrating and feeling the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with home ownership. You’re shopping for furniture, drawing up plans for renovations … but wait! There are some important tasks to cross off your list before you get to the fun stuff.

1. *Change the locks: A lot of people came in possession of your keys during the home sale process, whether it was on the market for a year or a day. Protect yourself by changing all the locks, just in case a set of keys fell into the wrong hands.*

2. Make copies: It’s good to have copies of all your closing documents, if only for reference. But in the worst case, you’ll be thankful you have your own copies if something goes wrong.

3. Make sure you get your mail: The post office won’t deliver your mail if the mailbox doesn’t have a name, and it’ll be difficult to sign for packages if UPS can’t get to your front door. If you’re in a multi-unit building, make sure to put your name on your mailbox and verify that the buzzer or call box is working.

4. Meet your neighbors: It’s not just about being cordial. It’s good to exchange contact info with your neighbors in case there’s a problem in the building or someone is being noisy. 

 5. Prepare for emergencies: Store the contact info for insurance agents and services like plumbers and locksmiths in your phone. You don’t want to waste time searching the internet when you’re locked out on a winter night or your home suffers fire damage.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

JUST MOVED IN? HERE ARE THE MUST-HAVES FOR YOUR NEW HOME

Moving into a new home is an exciting time in your life. You’re making plans for renovations and choosing furniture, but before you get too far ahead of yourself, there are some more important matters to attend to.

Staying safe: Make plans for home security and emergencies. What’s your escape route in case of a fire, or shelter in case of a severe storm? Do you have a home security system, a protective dog, or weapon available in your bedroom? Choose your “Stay Safe” tactics and make a plan for the worst-case scenarios that put your safety at risk.

A disaster kit: Even if it’s as simple an inconvenience as a power outage, you want to be ready. Stock a flashlight, non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, and warm clothes/blankets that you can access in case of an emergency.

A spare (secret) key: It’s no fun getting locked out of your house—especially in cold or wet weather—and no one wants to pay a locksmith to access their own home. Hide a key somewhere outside (just be more creative than hiding it under the welcome mat). There are plenty of devices you can purchase, such as magnetic key hiders, that can help you hide your key in places that a trespasser wouldn’t consider

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

NEW HOME? HERE’S HOW TO SAVE

Here are a few things new homeowners can do to save on energy and maintenance. 

When you’ve just purchased a new home, there’s a ton on your mind. There’s moving, decorating, getting to know your new neighborhood, and more. Here are a few things that should be at the top of your to-do list, because they’ll save you a lot of money.

Check on your water heater
Set your water heater for 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is plenty hot enough for bathing, washing dishes, and any other household use of hot water, so heating water above 120 degrees is a waste of energy and money. And if your water heater is an older model, it’s worthwhile to invest in a water heater blanket to keep it insulated.

Replace air filters
Sellers often put in a lot of cosmetic work to get the home move-in ready, but they often skip or forget about air filters in the HVAC system. Filters can be found at your local hardware store (just make sure to get the right size) and are easy to replace. Doing so will improve air flow and quality, and save on energy costs.

Get a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat, such as Nest, will cost you some money up front but is well worth the long-term savings. It’s programmable so that your AC and furnace run at lower levels when you’re not home, so you’re not wasting money to cool or heat an empty house.

Set up a space to air-dry clothes
Whether it’s a rack in your laundry room or a clothesline in the back yard, air-drying clothes is a big money saver over even the most energy-efficient dryers. Air-drying your garments will also help them last much longer.

Check for leaks and running toilets
A leaky faucet or a constantly-running toilet will use up water unnecessarily, and that’ll show up on your utility bill. And in the worst case, they’ll cause expensive water damage and mold.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

FIVE PLACES TO INSPECT IN YOUR HOME

Our homes require regular maintenance, both to protect our personal safety and to avoid costly repairs. Here are five of the most important items you should check in your home.

1. The fire extinguisher: It’s recommended that you keep at least one fire extinguisher on every floor. You should also keep one in the garage and in the basemen

2. Staircases and banisters: A loose railing or banister could spell disaster. Regularly check your stairs and the accompanying railings to make sure they’re secure.

3. Smoke detectors: Be diligent about testing your smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide detectors) and replacing batteries. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month, and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings.

4. Electrical outlets: Outlets in kitchens and bathrooms should have a “test” button. It’s part of a system that prevents electrocution. Plug in a hair dryer, and push the “test” button—the hair dryer should turn off right away.

5. Water quality: If you’ve never tested your water for harmful contaminants, you can purchase a kit to test it yourself, or hire a professional.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

GET YOUR PORCH READY FOR SUMMER

One of the best perks of owning your own home is having the space and privacy of your own porch. It’s the ideal place to relax and spend time with family during the summer months. Here are some suggestions for getting your porch back in shape after the winter.

Cleaning and maintenance
Start by removing the dirt and debris that has probably accumulated on the deck throughout winter and spring. Then give it a good inspection—and replace boards and nails as necessary— before using a cleaning solution to give it a thorough cleaning.

Consider your seating options
What’s the main purpose of your porch? Is it for kicking back and relaxing? Hang a hammock and you’ll have the perfect place for an afternoon nap. More interested in entertaining? Invest in some patio furniture, and assemble a bar cart that you can roll outside when you have guests. 

Decorate
Add some personality to your porch with some plants (perennials are ideal), ambient lighting, outdoor rugs, and any other decor that seems appropriate. Your porch may be exposed to the elements, but you still have plenty of options for creating a cozy and compelling space.

Kick back!
The hard work is over. Invite some company over and enjoy the season!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

WHAT AFFECTS YOUR HOME INSURANCE?

Research suggests that about 1 in 20 homeowners will make an insurance claim each year. So while it may seem that your monthly home insurance expenses aren’t worthwhile, the chances of needing your insurance are higher than you might think. 

There’s are countless factors that influence your insurance rates, so here are few examples—some you’ve probably considered, and some that might be surprising.

Location: Some areas are simply naturally more prone to damage than others. Potential for weather and natural disaster-related damage will factor into your insurance, as will crime rates and fire protection.

Home value: This may seem like a no-brainer at first glance, but there are some extra considerations. The value of your home and the cost to replace your home from a total loss may not be the same—it can often cost more to rebuild.

Pets: Just like certain HOAs and neighborhoods forbid specific dog breeds, your insurance company may also increase your premiums for a specific breed. Breeds with reputations for being aggressive (fair or not) like pit bulls, German Shepherds, and rottweilers can cost you more.

Trampolines and swimming pools: All that fun comes at a price! Insurance companies see trampolines and pools as big risks for injury and even death, and that’ll affect your insurance rates.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

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