Real Estate News

    • 3 Steps to Maximize Your AC Efficiency

      18 July 2019

      With the sweltering summer season upon us, many are turning to our trusty AC units to keep us cool. Unfortunately, this can negatively impact our bank accounts - but it doesn't have to.

      "It can get much more expensive to keep a cool home when temperatures reach the 80s and 90s," says Michael Petri, owner of Petri Plumbing & Heating. "Finding little ways to make a home's cooling more efficient can add up to significant savings over the course of a few months."

      Petri recommends residents utilize the following tips in order to cool their homes without breaking the bank on energy bills:

      Consider home efficiency upgrades and maintenance. Double-paned efficiency windows or a solar fan for an attic can be relatively inexpensive upgrades that will keep a home's air conditioner from working as hard. Also, check seals and weather stripping along doors and windows and replace as necessary. This will prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from entering the home.

      Regularly change air filters. Be sure to look at the manufacturer's recommendation on the air filter packaging (it is typically displayed prominently) and follow those guidelines. Most air filters need to be changed every 30-90 days, but depending on one's particular living situation (such as if pets live in the home), the filters may need to be changed more frequently. Changing the air filter in your cooling system regularly will help maximize the unit's efficiency, resulting in better cooling at lower costs.

      Schedule an HVAC tune-up. Regular maintenance will ensure your unit is working at peak efficiency, can identify problems before they become bigger issues and may even be required to keep the manufacturer's warranty in effect.

      Source: Petri Plumbing & Heating

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Increasing Brand Activity on Instagram

      17 July 2019

      If you run a small business or a personal brand, you know social media interaction and engagement is critical to establishing an online presence. If Instagram has you feeling a bit lost, don't worry. Digital marketing company fishbat shares the following insights on increasing brand activity on the platform.

      Post Consistently: Posting content on your Instagram as regularly as possible can establish a much more engaged audience. Studies show that 1-2 posts a day can prove to be what is considered "consistent" or "regular." As much as it is important to post new, unique, and exciting content daily, it is also important to remember not to over-do it. Nothing can frustrate an audience more than seeing a brand pop up on their feed more than desired, especially when they aren't interested. When looking to increase brand engagement on Instagram, it's important to learn posting balance, as well as what type of content your audience is reacting to the most.

      Meaningful Material: Improving your brand engagement can be achieved in a few simple ways, including the images you are displaying to your audience. Many Instagram users search for something more than an appealing aesthetic, looking for an informative and engaging post. 

      Choose Related Hashtags: Hashtags have been a huge contributing factor to success for brand posts and individuals, alike. However, it is important to use popular and relevant hashtags for your brand and services. Anything too niche or obscure won't be picked up by those unfamiliar with your brand, and those unrelated hashtags will only disappoint Instagram users. Knowing what your brand is conveying, and capitalizing on that through the use of hashtags can bring a new audience to your content, as well as keep your current followers interested.

      Advertise on Different Platforms: Brands can utilize the vast amount of social media platforms present today to their advantage. Many individuals utilizing digital marketing can attribute much of their success to liaising between different social platforms and sectors, consequently promoting one another. For example, Carola Jain has spent her two-decade marketing career shifting brands between various sectors, thus gaining more publicity and engagement. If you already have a large following on a specific platform such as Facebook, you can expect to see even more success by moving your followers to another sector like Instagram.

      Source: fishbat

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Financial Moves to Make After Closing

      17 July 2019

      For first-time homebuyers, the lead up to and through move-in day demands the level of energy one might expend training for a marathon — or scaling Mount Everest!

      So it's not unusual or uncommon for new homeowners to lose sight of the necessary steps they need to take to ensure their financial foundation is as solid and long-lasting as the one under their new home.

      Rebecca Lake at Investopedia.com reminds new homeowners that financial planning doesn't stop once you sign off at the closing table — homeowners must protect their investment. 

      Check out the following information from this panel of experts aimed at helping new homeowners survive and thrive in their new residence:

      Maintenance cushion. A Bankrate survey estimates the average homeowner will spend an extra $2,000 per year on maintenance, including landscaping, housekeeping and minor repairs, so that's a good financial cushion to plan for. That amount, however, doesn't cover larger expenses you may encounter - like having to replace an HVAC system or roof, both of which can easily surpass $5,000.

      Homeownership savings. Freedom Financial Group founder Tad Hill recommends first-time buyers should set up a separate homeownership savings fund to cover bigger repairs that amount to at least $5,000 to $10,000 in cash so it's available when something breaks.

      Needs vs wants. Mymoneycoach.ca says good money management involves separating needs from wants. If a homeowner isn't sure if an item is a need or a want, try doing without it for a period of time. If after that time you truly can’t live without it, it may be a need. 

      Prioritize your debt. Nerdwallet.com blogger Elizabeth Renter affirms that your mortgage is likely your biggest debt, but that doesn’t mean it should be the biggest priority when it comes to paying off your debt. Renter says, before homeowners consider aggressively paying down their mortgage, they should consider eliminating higher interest debts like:
      - Credit cards
      - Payday loans
      - Title loans
      - High-interest personal loans

      Extra payment plan. Renter adds that homeowners should only start thinking of making extra payments on a mortgage after all toxic debt is eliminated, your retirement is on track, and an emergency fund like the one Tad Hill mentioned earlier has ample cash.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Ask These Questions When You’re Buying a House

      17 July 2019

      Getting ready to put an offer on a home? Before you do, ask these questions to make sure you’re moving ahead on the best possible deal. 

      Were there any renovations to the home? The sellers may have made improvements over the years that weren’t recorded at City Hall. Make sure you have a full run-down of all the changes that have been made, both to ensure structural safety and legal compliance, and to fully assess the home’s value.

      How old is the roof? Just because the roof is currently in good condition doesn’t mean it’s not soon on its way out. Make sure you know how old it is and if repairs or a replacement may be in your near future.

      How long have the appliances been here? You’ll also want to know how old the appliances are and what shape they’re in. Many home sellers update the appliances before putting their home on the market, so find out if this is the case. Make sure all manuals and warranties are left behind as well.

      What are the neighbors/neighborhood like? You’ll have to drill down to avoid getting general responses, so ask if there are families with young children on the block vs. retirees, what traffic is like, what amenities are nearby, etc. For further intel, take a stroll around the neighborhood and chat with someone out walking their dog or doing some yardwork. Their friendliness - or lack thereof - could be an indicator in and of itself.

      What’s included in the sale? Many sellers will include certain items in the sale of the home to help sweeten the deal, such as select pieces of furniture, lighting fixtures or outdoor appliances, like a lawn mower or hedge trimmer. On the flip side, you may be assuming certain items will be included that aren’t. Seller’s exclusions should be outlined in the listing description, but sometimes they’re not so be sure to ask. 

      Source: Bankrate

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Purchasing a New Home? Check the Plumbing

      16 July 2019

      When you've found your dream home after a long search, you can often feel immense pressure to make an offer ASAP.  However, it's important to pay mind to certain overlooked aspects of your home-to-be before diving in. One of these is plumbing.

      "If you double-check the plumbing before making an offer on your dream home, you're setting yourself up for future success as homeowners," says Richard Hart, co-owner of Harts Services. "Forgetting to inspect crucial plumbing elements can easily lead to higher repair costs and other expenses down the road, but knowing what to look for while home shopping can grant a peace of mind for years to come."

      Hart offers the following advice for checking the plumbing before closing the deal on a new house:

      Check for water leaks. According to the EPA, one drip per second can waste 3,000 gallons of water in a year, and unseen leaks can significantly increase monthly utility bills. To check toilets, place a few drops of food coloring in the back of each tank, wait about 30 minutes and then look in the bowls to see if any color is present. Watch for condensation inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets, near the faucets, and look for warped or discolored areas on your walls and ceilings. To check the entire home, make sure no water is being consumed and write down the meter reading. Wait ten minutes, then check again. If there's a change, there is a good chance a leak is present.

      Inspect the gas lines. If your potential new house uses natural gas for any appliances, it's important that you check all of the lines for leaks. Gas leaks are always dangerous, and can sometimes be deadly. Signs of gas leaks include a sulfur-like smell, slight hissing sounds around lines and/or wet, bubbling areas near exterior lines. Never attempt a do-it-yourself gas repair or move a gas appliance on your own. Instead, always contact a professional and verify their license before allowing them to perform gas work in your home.

      Check to see if the house comes with a sump pump. Due to the wet and soggy nature of the Tacoma area, sump pumps are commonly implemented into basements. A sump pump is a mechanism used to remove water that has collected in a low-lying sump basin. By pumping the water out of the home, the devices help prevent basement flooding that can otherwise lead to tremendous costs, like repairing water damage, mold remediation treatments and replacing destroyed property.  

      "Sometimes, homebuyers think of plumbing as one of those features that's safe to assume is working flawlessly," Hart says. "Unfortunately, that's not always the case – and it's a good rule of thumb to check on these things before you move in and become responsible for fixing them."Source: Harts Services

      Published with permission from RISMedia.