Questions and Answers - Other
WHAT MAINTENANCE WILL BEST PRESERVE MY HOME'S VALUE?
The key to good home maintenance is taking care of small defects before they become big ones. Outside the home, metal work, windows and doors are items that should not be neglected. Inside, heating and cooling systems, cabinet hardware, and cracks in walls and ceilings should undergo preventative maintenance. Dripping or leaking pipes, crawl spaces, and problems with condensation on walls, windows, or ceilings are other important areas. When you sell your home, uncorrected problems may lead buyers to suspect more serious defects exist. This can cost you far more than the time and effort needed to keep your home in good condition as you go along. For more information on protecting your property's value, consult a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OR REALTORS®.
I'M THINKING ABOUT BUYING MY FIRST HOME, BUT MY NEIGHBOR SAYS I SHOULD INVEST THE MONEY IN STOCKS. WHICH IS BETTER?
Because an investment in real estate is usually done with borrowed money, the rate of return on the investment, even at a modest return, is very good compared with other ventures. Keep in mind that real estate differs from other investments because of its special characteristics. It is a good that you can consume and enjoy; it typically increases in value; and it can help you build tax-free or tax sheltered assets. Another consideration is that you are in control of your real estate holdings, something that may not be true of other investments. For more information on the many benefits of homeownership, contact a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
I JUST BOUGHT A VINTAGE HOME. IS IT TRUE I CAN REDUCE MY FUEL BILLS BY IMPROVING MY INSULATION?
In certain instances, upgrading insulation can save a homeowner money. If extensive, remodeling is necessary or if installation does not post a major expense, insulation can improve on heating and cooling expenses as well as the comfort of your home. In some older homes, however, the cost of tearing down walls and installing insulation may be very expensive and not worth the expense in terms of fuel bill savings. For additional ideas on increasing your home's comfort and value, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREPARE MY GARDEN READY FOR WINTER?
There are a number of steps you can take to protect your lawn and garden from the harsh winter weather and to prepare them for spring. Before the first heavy frost, rake your lawn and clean away all debris. Cut the lawn to 2 ½ to 3 inches and apply fertilizer or manure to needed areas of the lawn and flower beds. Now is the time to plant hardy bulbs to bloom in the spring and to transplant herbs and other plants you want to take inside for the winter. Also, do any final transplanting of trees and shrubs. To protect fragile plans and the trunks of woody plants, cover them with sheets or plastic. For additional beautification ideas to increase the value of your home, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
WHAT'S THE EASIEST WAY TO KEEP THE PIPES IN MY VACATION HOME FROM FREEZING THIS WINTER?
If you'll only be away from your vacation home for a month or two, you may want to consider a partial shutdown. By shutting off the water supply and reducing the thermostat to 45 to 50 degrees, you can alleviate the amount of work and the maintenance cost associated with a total shutdown. If you want to proceed with a total shutdown, it is necessary to drain and protect all pipes and appliances containing water to avoid freezing. Dowfrost RV, an antifreeze sold under a variety of brand names, is a product that can aid in this process. It has no toxic residue like automotive antifreeze and, although it is intended for campers and motorhomes, works well in home plumbing. For additional information on preserving your home's value, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
WILL INSULATING MY HOT WATER HEATER HELP BRING DOWN MY FUEL BILLS?
Insulating your water heater is critical to energy savings. The water heater is the second largest user of energy in most households, accounting for about 20% of an average home's energy use. Insulating usually will pay for itself in the first season, and you can do the work yourself with materials available from a hardware store. Additional ideas to save energy and maximize hot water usage include installing low-flow showerheads, reducing the setting on the water heater, insulating hot water pipes, and repairing leaky faucets. These measures are easy and relatively inexpensive and can result in substantial fuel bill savings. For professional advice regarding your home, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
WHAT CAN I DO MAINTAIN MY OUTDOOR IRONWORK?
Iron that is set into masonry should be scraped, primed, and painted. Use of special paints intended for ironwork will help correct old rust damage and prevent new rust. If the ironwork is old, damaged, or badly deteriorated, it may need to be disassembled and reset. With antique pieces, extensive mending and rebuilding may be required to restore it to its original condition and preserve its value. Generally, welders can do simple repairs more inexpensively that professional ironworkers. However, if casting of replacement pieces is required, arrangements may be made with a foundry. Once your ironwork is repaired and rust treated, modest routine care should keep it in good condition for many years. For professional tips on preserving your home's appearance and value, contact a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
CAN LANDSCAPING HELP ME SAVE ON MY ENERGY BILLS?
According to one study, energy-conscious landscaping designed to shelter your home from cold in the winter and hear in the summer can save you from 10 to 30 percent on annual heating and cooling bills. For example, appropriate location of trees can help shade your home during the summer and expose it to sun during the winter. Evergreens, which keep their needles throughout the year, are well suited as windscreens and year-long groundcover. Also, properly placed windbreaks can divert winter winds as well as direct cooling summer breezes. The key to successful energy efficient landscaping is to match the types of trees and plants to your area's climate. Local plant nurseries are a good source of information and ideas. For professional advice on improving your home's appearance and value, consult a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
WHAT IS A "GRANNY FLAT" ?
The term is used to describe an "accessory unit," or an additional rental apartment or cottage which is carved out of an existing property. Although the practice is not very widespread, it seems to be gaining popularity, especially in certain parts of the country. Accessory units are often attractive to older homeowners who do not want to give up homes too large for their current living needs. They may decide to carve out an apartment for their own use, for a family member's use, or for rent to a tenant. The creation of such a unit must comply with zoning, building, and occupancy codes. Consult a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, for professional advice and information on local code requirements.
THE MORTAR ON MY BRICK HOUSE IS STARTING TO CRUMBLE IN PLACES. HOW SERIOUS IS THIS PROBLEM?
This can become a very serious problem if left untreated. As mortar ages, it can crack and crumble, allowing water to enter. This can result in deterioration of the joints, leading to leaks in brick walls or chimneys. This is especially common in climates where temperatures drop below freezing in the winter. Repairing minor mortar defects as they occur is good preventive maintenance. The technique, called tuckpointing, requires only simple materials and equipment available at most hardware stores. It is a fairly easy procedure for most homeowners to do and written instructions may be available from your hardware dealer or local library. Occasionally, more extensive damage may require the services of a professional tuckpointer. For professional advice on ways to preserve or increase your home's value, consult a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
I'M CONSIDERING BUYING AN OLDER HOME. SHOULD I BE CONCERNED WITH LEAD PAINT DANGER?
Lead paint is a factor to consider when looking at homes over twenty years old. Lead has been used for centuries to make paint more durable and to keep the colors more intense, but only in recent years has is been found to present potential health hazards. Lead paint can prove dangerous if eaten or inhaled and should be removed if it is peeling or if young children are present. An independent agency can test a home for interior lead paint and removal can be conducted by the homeowner or a paint contractor. For additional information on lead paint, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. For professional advice and service when buying or selling a home, contact a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
I'M INTERESTED IN THE INVESTMENT POTENTIAL OF REAL ESTATE INCOME PROPERTIES, BUT I HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF CASH. HOW CAN I GET STARTED?
One popular way is to buy a small apartment building, live in one unit and lease out the others. For many people, this provides an opportunity for substantial long-term growth of the investment, reduced housing costs and the possibility for significant tax benefits. For a relatively small monetary commitment, an investor who purchases a small rental property can live reasonably while taking advantage of possible tax shelters. To explore the availability of suitable properties in your area, consult a real estate agent who is a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS®.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY NEW APARTMENT SEEM MORE LIKE "HOME" WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE?
Personalizing your apartment can be a challenge, but with some creativity it can be done--and on a limited budget. If your landlord permits, you may want to paint or wallpaper. Often changing one wall in a room can create a dramatic look. Addition an oriental or decorative rug, even on top of existing carpeting, can add warmth to a room. Another area to focus on is lighting. Adding track lighting or floor lighting can product a contemporary look. Plants and decorative window treatments are other inexpensive additions to consider. One good rule to follow--only put big money into buying good furniture and decorations--pieces you can take with you when you move. For expert advice on real estate matters, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
WHAT IS THE REALTORS® CODE OF ETHICS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?
The Code, based on the "Golden Rule," provides a standard of conduct for the members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. When the Association adopted its Code in 1913, it was the second business group in the nation to follow the professions of medicine, law, and engineering in the formation and enforcement of a code for its members. A REALTOR®'s strict adherence to this Code of Ethics ensures that your property transaction will be handled in a fair and ethical manner. It is a pledge to act fairly toward you, whether you're a buyer or a seller. For professional advice and service in real estate matters, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
I WANT TO INCREASE THE COLD WEATHER ENERGY-EFFICIENCY OF MY HOME. WHERE SHOULD I START?
The first step is to determine where you are experiencing heat loss. If you have adequate insulation in place, concentration sealing leaks in your home. To locate leaks, you can hire an energy consultant or conduct a self-test. Check areas where major heat loss typically occurs, including walls, windows, doors, floors, chimneys, and the roof. Specifically, close up everything as tightly as possible and walk around the house with incense or a lit cigarette to observe where the smoke is blowing. For technical advice on sealing leaks, consult your local utility or home improvement store. For additional ideas on adding to the value of your home, consult a real estate agent who's a REALTOR®, a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.