Basement Flooding? Here’s What to Do!


How to Keep a Home Looking Like New

Devices to Deal with Home Dangers

As Ben Franklin once noted, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Use these basic detection-device tips to help keep you and your family safe and sound.

Smoke alarms

  • Install one in and outside each bedroom, with at least one on every level of the home.
  • Test once a month, and replace after ten years.
  • Consider interconnected smoke alarms—when one goes off, all of them do.

Carbon monoxide alarms

  • Install one outside each bedroom, making sure that one is on every level of the home.
  • Install a few feet from the ceiling, and keep them away from heat and humidity sources.
  • Test at least once a month.
  • Consider interconnected alarms and combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms.

Radon detectors

  • Test for radon—a dangerous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas—twice a year.
  • Use short-term kits (which test from 2 to 90 days) for quick results and long-term kits (several months) for greater accuracy.
  • Contact an expert about remediation if you get high readings.

Move on It: Finding a Hot Neighborhood

Trying to get in on an up-and-coming neighborhood before it gets big? The signs are clear—all you have to do is keep your eyes open for some of these big changes.

Catch a ride

Improvements in transportation—mostly in public transit—are a marker of an uptick in residents. As a neighborhood grows, so too does the need for increased mobility for its inhabitants.

Setting up shop

Large corporations won’t simply open a store just anywhere. Retail and wholesale giants like Walmart are a good indicator that there is about to be a population surge, or at least that a town is not going downhill anytime soon.

Back to work

People will always gravitate to where there are jobs. A healthy employment rate can also be a good sign that, even if the population isn’t booming yet, there should be plenty of people moving in soon.

An eclectic menu

A trendy restaurant has a knack for bringing in not only locals but also out-of-towners who will spread the word. Pretty soon, other hip businesses open up and, before you know it, the town is full of cultural attractions.

The cost of being cool

Generally speaking, as a neighborhood becomes more in demand, the cost of living will increase. Rising rent, increasing home prices, and price hikes in surrounding stores are a gauge that an area is on the rise.

In the know

Before doing the work yourself, talk to a local real estate agent who’s knowledgeable about the area. This can help you understand the rise and fall of the market as a whole, helping you move into your dream area before it gets too expensive.

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Beginner’s Guide to Being a Landlord

Taking on the role of landlord is a huge undertaking. You have renters to find (and trustworthy ones at that), a property to look after, and being the go-between for the many different people involved in this process. Follow these tips to ensure that being a landlord is rewarding, rather than being a headache-inducing responsibility.

Screen tenants properly

Too often, landlords don’t screen potential tenants as thoroughly as they should, often causing mishaps further down the line. Don’t get so bogged down by other responsibilities that you forget to screen the people who will be living in your property. Look at credit scores, references, and if they have adequate employment before moving forward with an application.

Don’t short yourself

Your profit is coming from the rent, so make sure you’re charging the right amount to maximize your revenue. Look at the comps in the area, as well as accounting for any renovations you made to the space, and set the amount accordingly. You don’t want to short-change yourself, especially after the contract is signed and rent is locked into place.

Be as organized as possible

When it comes to managing a property and the tenants who live there, spreadsheets are your best friend. Keep track of important documents, make copies of everything, and stay on track with the various transactions and events that pop up throughout this process. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute if anything were to come up.

Make your guidelines clear

All of your rules and regulations should be outlined in the lease, but remember to reiterate in person. This is especially important concerning any pet restrictions, what day of the month rent is due, and what (or if) interior changes can be made to the space. Having these guidelines in writing is important, but it’s even more crucial to emphasize in person before the lease is signed.

Being a landlord can be a breeze if you follow these simple tips!

Improvements to Increase Your Home’s Value

If you want to increase the value of your home, it’s important to do some key renovations. But not all renovation projects are created equal. Some are worth the pretty penny spent, but many can be a waste of time and money, with the return not being quite as high as expected. When thinking of what renovations to make to your home, consider the following improvements that could boost the value of your property.

Flooring (Average ROI: 90%-100%)

While carpeting may have been popular at one point, now it could seriously deter a potential buyer from putting an offer in. Hardwood floors may be a large expense, but they’re the way to go for any flooring renovation projects. If you have the time and money, this is an investment to think about. But if hardwood is too much out of your price range, consider laminate wood flooring, which gives you a similar look at the fraction of the cost.

Exterior (Average ROI: 85%-100%)

When potential buyers pull up to your property and notice overgrown grass, poor landscaping, and a neglected walkway, that doesn’t give them the best first impression. The opportunity that curb appeal presents for your home is substantial. This includes everything from your front door to your roof to your garage door, which, let’s face it, could always use a fresh coat of paint.

DIY tip: Put out seasonal doormats, decorate your front door, and power wash the walkway.

Kitchen (Average ROI: 80%-98%)

There’s a reason many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home—it’s the room where the most time is spent. People walk in and immediately look to the kitchen to make a quick judgment. If your microwave, stove, dishwasher, countertop, or any other commonly used appliance is over ten years old, it may be time to start thinking of updating.

Making improvements to your home can be quite the commitment, but it’s important if you want to Improve your home’s value on the market.

Vacation Home Buying 101

House hunting for a vacation home is no small feat—there are things to think about like location, price, and how much use you’ll get out of such a large investment. These tips are sure to put you on the right path so you can enjoy the process and kick up your feet in no time.

Stay in your price range.

Looking at different vacation properties and seeing how luxurious some can be (not to mention the priceless views) can often lead to unrealistic expectations. Establish a budget, and stick to it throughout this process. Don’t look at homes you can’t afford, as this will only lead to disappointment.

Be sure about the location.

Buying a home—particularly a vacation home—in an area you’ve never been to can have the opposite effect you intended. Make sure you’re familiar with the town before automatically buying a house under the assumption you’ll love the area. Try renting a home in the area a few times before jumping right in and making the investment.

Do your research.

If you plan on renting out a property, research the rules on how often you can rent, and be sure to comply with any state and county regulations (homeowner’s association, city boards, etc.). The same goes for researching an agent who knows the market well and can guide you in the right direction on all things vacation home buying-related.

These Home Extras Bring High ROI

If you’ve been living in your home for a while—or even if you just moved in but have big goals for your new space—tackling renovations can be a fun but challenging prospect. You might have a lot of ideas on your to-do list, but only some of these will bring you the most bang for your buck.

When it comes to getting the most ROI on your home add-ons, stick to these features.


Detached garage

Maybe you have a lot of cars you want to keep in tip-top shape, and your current garage isn’t cutting it for space? Maybe you don’t currently have a garage but would like one? Either way, a detached garage is a costly investment, but one that can bring you big ROI when it comes time to sell. This project can run up to $20,000, depending on size, but if you consider adding a home office or additional rooms above your garage, you can expect an even greater return.


Geothermal heating

Geo-what? If you’re thinking this is just another ecofriendly energy system that isn’t worth the time or construction cost, think again. A geothermal heating system uses the ground’s constant temperature of near 60 degrees to heat your home through underground coils. There is a federal tax credit of 30 percent, plus lower energy bills.

Additional bathrooms

A house with three bedrooms and one bathroom is almost always going to sell for less than a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms. Bathrooms are desirable, and if you have the ability to construct an additional bathroom—be it a half-bath or a full—you should take it. This investment can be inexpensive or quite costly, depending on the size and materials you choose. However, there are lots of options to keep costs minimal and still see at least a 60 percent ROI.


Deck, patio, or sunroom

Though slightly different, these amenities all add a certain feel of luxury and relaxation to your home. If you live in an area that experiences a fair amount of warm sunny days, a deck or patio can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors in a comfortable space. The same goes for a sunroom, only this allows you to enjoy the outdoors without having to really go outside. If you opt to build this space with high-quality materials, you can expect a near full return on your investment, which will be highly attractive to potential buyers.

Wine cellar

This might sound like a completely unnecessary and extravagant addition, but wine cellars are increasing in popularity among buyers—especially in the high-end market. It’s not for everyone, but you might be surprised how quick buyers will be to pay more for an addition like this. If you live in a market with $800,000 homes or higher, a wine cellar might be make or break for interested buyers.