Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS
 
Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS

Jeff's Blog

Trends Impacting Future Home Exterior Colors and Materials

November 3, 2011 9:18 pm

Homeowners tend to have conflicting emotions regarding their homes during economically challenging times. Wanting to embrace their need for change and feel positive about their living space, homeowners frequently want to purchase new products, while remaining financially and environmentally responsible. The marketplace is now seeing a shift to homeowners looking for items that have high value and a long lifespan.

“People are educating themselves more these days on the impact a single purchase will have on thems and on the environment,” says Kate Smith, president of Sensational Color. “For example, a homeowner may desire real wood shake shingles on a roof, but they understand the lifespan of those roofing shingles is extremely limited. They’re thinking twice about how many trees would need to be harvested to make those wood shingles.

Smith has identified several key trends related to exterior home products and colors, including:

Trend #1 – Living Simply in a Complex World –The desire for a more streamlined life motivates people to select modern technology, products and materials that make our complex lives easier.

Trend #2 – Give Me More “Me Time” – Younger buyers are now changing their home buying strategies. These individuals are embracing older homes that they can personalize by adding newer products that require minimal maintenance. They’re looking for products that help blend the older bones of a home with their modern sensibilities in order to provide a sense of connection to history and their community.

Trend #3 – Rules are Made to be Broken – Today’s homeowners are making their own rules. In the coming years, look for unusual mixing of materials and colors in ways communities haven’t previously seen. Homeowners want their homes to reflect their personalities, but they also want to express themselves on the exterior of the home.

Trend #4 – Naturally Inspired and Improved – Colors and materials that harmonize with the natural surroundings of a home are increasingly important to homeowners. Homeowners are basing their purchasing decisions on their increased understanding that the manufactured products they select will have a longer life span, thus reducing the need for replacement. And, in many situations, these man-made products that look, feel and have natural colors incorporated, require less maintenance and reduce the negative impact on the environment.

Trend #5 – Inside Out Harmony –Regional colors and materials on a home exterior help anchor people to their community, providing a unity within a neighborhood or subdivision. In many cases, homeowners are also bringing the outside indoors by adding plant walls, gardens and water features into the home. On the exterior, they’re adding fire pit areas, and outdoor living and dining room spaces that blur the boundaries of the living both inside and outside the home.

Smith predicts that many of these trends will take off between 2012-2015. For more on color selection for the home, visit www.sensationalcolor.com.
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Explore Various Options to Move with Ease

November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

By Nick Caruso

Whether you're moving in state or across the country, there are many different options for those seeking professional moving help. For those on a budget, full-service moves may be too pricey, while doing everything yourself is back-breaking and tiresome without an army of friends bribed by beer and pizza. Fortunately, there is a middle ground—moving labor services.

Halfway between full service and DIY, moving labor services allow you to hire and pay only for the services you need and want. Relocation breaks down these services into the following three options: rental trucks, portable storage containers and space rental in commercial trailers.

For in-state moves, a rental truck might be all you need. For a couple hundred dollars (depending on the company), you might be able to complete your move with a single truck and a couple of hours. After renting the vehicle, you can hire moving labor to load and unload it for you. You can even hire them for additional services, such as driving the rental truck for you for an additional fee. For short moves, hired help and a rental truck may be all you need to get the job done.

For temporary storage, you may want to consider renting a portable service container. The container company delivers a container for you to fill up however you'd like. They then pick it up and store it for however long you need and then deliver it back to you at your new address. With this option, you can either load it yourself or hire help to do it for you. You can even split the labor between hired help and your own hard work. These containers are a great option—the company takes care of the entire method of transportation and you only worry about loading and unloading.

What many movers fail to utilize is rented space in commercial trailers. For long-distance moves, you can rent part of a trailer to move your belongings. Trailers are split up and shared amongst many customers so that the cost is shared and cheaper for all involved. Moving labor can be hired to help you unload your share, providing you with a cost effective way to transport your things and preventing you from having to drive cross-country yourself.

There are many different options available to you when planning for your next big move. With hired moving labor and a variety of transportation options, any mover can find a method that suits his or her specific needs and budget.
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Common Home Defects All Buyers and Sellers Should Be Aware Of

November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

Home defects come in all shapes and sizes. From structural problems to air flow and ventilation issues, a lot of things can go wrong with your home. Whether you're buying or selling your home, or simply staying put, you should be aware of some of the common home defects that abound so you can fix them quickly and easily before they become catastrophes.

Poor Drainage

Poor drainage is the most common problem found by home inspectors. To improve your drainage, you may have to install a new system of eaves, troughs and downspouts to better aim water away from the house. Inadequate drainage can be a devastating defect. Water can damage basements, garages and crawl spaces, compromising the foundation of the home and creating mold. Taking care of this issue is of dire importance, and buyers should avoid purchasing homes that may have drainage problems.

Rotted Wood

Another important defect to watch out for is rotted wood, both inside and outside the home. Wood exposed to excess moisture is bound to rot. This can happen in bathrooms, on flooring or even in the kitchen. Find these problem areas in your home and protect them with a special paint or finish. Don't forget to check your deck and outside trim as well.

Bad Roofing

Always be attentive of a structure's roof. Damaged shingles or improperly installed flashing are severe warning signs that trouble lurks ahead. Check for leaky ceilings as a sign of a damaged roof. Repairing the roof is crucial in order to prevent further damage later. Although it may be an expensive repair, it's always best to take care of it before it affects other parts of the home.

Inadequate Ventilation
Without proper ventilation, a build-up of moisture can attack a home's interior walls and structural components. Ventilation fans are a good idea for bathrooms without windows, and opening all of the home's windows during bouts of good weather also helps keep the air moving. Doing so can help prevent drywall replacements or other more expensive structural replacements. Find out the best way to keep your house ventilated and keep that air flowing.

Poor Overall Maintenance
Has the house been properly maintained over the years? How confident are you in the previous owner's repair skills? Sometimes improper maintenance can affect many parts of the home, such as the plumbing and electrical systems. Scope out any makeshift repairs and have a professional take a look, if necessary. Faulty wiring jobs and plumbing situations are not cases to be taken lightly. If a house doesn't look well-kept, this may be reason enough to send buyers running.

With the proper maintenance, any home defect can be righted to ensure a safe living environment for any family.

For more information, visit http://www.elsahomeinspections.com and http://www.hometeaminspection.com/.
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Celebrate Caregivers' Month with Tips and Tweets

November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

In commemoration of National Family Caregiver’s Month beginning November 1, the CareGiver Partnership will Tweet daily healthy tips for caregivers throughout the month.

“Because being a family caregiver requires a high level of compassion and personal sacrifice, it’s easy to neglect one’s own health and interests, and that can lead to burn-out,” says Lynn Wilson, co-founder of The CareGiver Partnership.

To remind caregivers to take care of themselves in order to effectively care for others, the Partnership offers the following tips as a starting point:

• Keep a journal in which you can acknowledge your feelings and plan the week’s activities.
• Stay connected through online resources, such as forums, Facebook communities and Twitter feeds.
• Spend unhurried quality time with your loved one. Look at photos, read or just talk.
• Tell family members you may need help at some point and you expect them to pitch in.
• Strike a balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself. Make sure to set aside alone time to unwind.
• Utilize respite care services for short-term needs. Doing so will give you time for errands or caring for your own family.

When caring for others, caregivers sometimes neglect their own health. It is vital for caregivers to take steps to make time to care for themselves. Follow Caregiver Tweets (www.twitter.com/CaregiverTweets) for daily help and inspiration, or visit www.caregiverpartnership.com for more information.
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Maintain Your Fireplace and Keep It Safe

November 1, 2011 9:16 pm

Homeowners are now getting ready to put their fireplaces to good use. Heed the following safety tips to help aid in the prevention of chimney fires and carbon monoxide intrusion, and to help keep heating appliances and fireplaces functioning properly.

1. Get an annual chimney check. Have chimneys inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a qualified professional chimney service technician. This reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimneys.

2. Keep it clear. Keep tree branches and leaves at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney.

3. Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.

4. Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months to one year and stored in a covered and elevated location. Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

5. Build it right. Place firewood or firelogs at the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate. To start the fire, use kindling or a commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids.

6. Keep the hearth area clear. Combustible material too close to the fireplace, or to a wood stove, could easily catch fire. Keep furniture at least 36” away from the hearth.

7. Use a fireplace screen. Use metal mesh or a screen in front of the fireplace to catch flying sparks that could ignite or burn holes in the carpet or flooring.

8. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Place detectors throughout the house and check batteries in the spring and fall. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, remember to check your batteries.

9. Never leave a fire unattended. Before heading to bed, be sure that the fire is fully extinguished. Supervise children and pets closely around wood stoves and fireplaces.

For more information, visit www.csia.org.
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Five Tips for a Show-stopping Fall Landscape

November 1, 2011 9:16 pm

Kids are back at school, football games have kicked off and in some parts of the country leaves are falling. Even with brisk temperatures on their way, anyone can create a beautiful fall landscape by giving show-stopping plants center stage in the garden. Landscape designers from around the country offer these tips to create a show-stopping fall garden you will enjoy for years to come.

1. Consider Your Space
There is never a dull moment in the fall landscape. Consider what shapes and colors currently exist in your garden. "Although we may lose some of the plant material framework in the garden during the autumn months, we gain fall foliage color, sculptural shapes of the deciduous trees and shrubs, and the architectural details become the focal point. If a garden is pleasing to look at or walk through in autumn or winter it is usually because of the use of space--patterns created by paths or walls, shapes of plant material and the silhouettes of tree trunks and branches," says landscape designer Suzanne Arca.

2. Do Your Homework
Visit your local garden center and make a list of your favorite plants and color combinations. The colors and combinations of plants can give you inspiration and highlight what is available.

3. Plant Trees and Shrubs Now

Plant now to give plants plenty of time to establish roots before summer. Planting in the fall lets your plants have months to settle in before the heat of summer.

4. Try Something New
Laura Kuhn, a professional landscape designer in Arlington, Massachusetts reflects on fall landscapes with a unique perspective. “Interest can be created by what you don’t do rather than what you do, so think about implementing a low-maintenance plan for garden care: leave seed heads and stems on the plants to create instant ornamental appeal,” says Kuhn.

5. Avoid Common Mistakes
Avoid common mistakes that can work against your hard work in the garden. Mulch pushed up against a tree trunk ensures that a moist environment will ensue, thus providing the perfect environment for diseases and pests. Instead, create a saucer with the mulch to trap water and give the tree some breathing room.

For more information and for help finding a professional landscaper, visit www.apld.org.
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Do's and Don'ts of Black Friday Shopping

November 1, 2011 9:16 pm

It's been predicted that more people than ever will be out shopping on Black Friday this year, and those shoppers will be looking for better deals than ever due to the shaky economy. Although many Black Friday sales will attempt to point shoppers in the right direction of the best deals, buyers are urged to really compare prices when shopping for the right gifts.

Don't assume that a Black Friday deal is the best find out there. Here are a few tips to help you while shopping on one of the busiest days of the year:

-Don't automatically assume that everything in a Black Friday ad is a genuinely good deal. You'll even see items advertised in ads that are at the store's "everyday low price." Do your homework and go after the cream of the crop when it comes to deals.

-Do try to order as much online before leaving the house. Many retailers will put their Black Friday sale online starting as early as Wednesday night. The more you can buy online, the more room you'll have in your trunk for other purchases.

-Don't assume that you'll be able to price match Black Friday ad items at your favorite store. Each store has its own policy, which can sometimes change for Black Friday. Call ahead and speak to a manager to find out exactly what you are allowed to do.

-Do shop with others if possible. Split up purchases between your group into different parts of the store to maximize your chances of getting what you want and minimize the time spent in the crowded store.

For more do's and don'ts, and further tips, visit http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/DosDonts.
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Easy Tips for Staying Warm and Saving Money

October 31, 2011 9:16 pm

With Winter creeping up earlier than expected for some parts of our country, homeowners are already on a quest to find options that keep their houses warm without emptying their wallets. There are many easy steps you can take to ensure that your energy bills remain low throughout the season, starting with an annual assessment to ensure that your heating system is operating properly and efficiently before the harsh winter weather hits.

To combat winter weather, homeowners should have their heating systems inspected annually by a Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) professional. Be sure to shop around to find the highest qualified inspector and the best prices. Check to see if technicians are NATE certified (North American Technician Excellence). With your system running at its highest efficiency, consider the following to keep costs low:

Check heating filters every couple of weeks and change them at least twice in the season.

Check and maintain your insulation. Improperly insulated walls, floors, attics, basements and crawlspaces drain away heat and can lead to moisture imbalance.

Turn down your thermostat. Keeping your thermostat five degrees cooler can lower your heating bills without affecting your home's comfort.

Install a programmable thermostat and adjust the settings to reduce the temperature when you're not at home.

Clean the furnace area. Don't keep chemicals or cleaning products near your heater, and don't store anything next to it that could impede ventilation.

Install a humidifier. Humidity in summer makes you feel hotter, and the same is true in winter since dry air feels cooler than moist air. A simple humidifier may make the home feel five degrees warmer than a home with dry air.

By properly maintaining your heating and cooling system, you can ensure maximum efficiency to keep your family comfortable throughout the long and frigid season.

For more information, visit www.hvacradvice.com.
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Home Buyers Need Better Representation During Tough Economic Times

October 31, 2011 9:16 pm

Due to the state of our current U.S. economy, having a buyer's agent in your corner is becoming increasingly important for home buyers. Home buyers should avoid situations where the agent is representing both buyer and seller. This often occurs when a prospective buyer finds a home listed on the Internet and contacts the selling agent directly. Since there are laws that require real estate agents to protect their client's interest, the duty of the selling agent is with the seller, not the buyer. As a result, the sales contract may not favor the buyer.

"As people go online and educate themselves about buying a house they realize that they need someone to represent them," says David Kent, president of the National Buyer's Agent Alliance.

When working with an exclusive buyer's agent, home buyers know their real estate agent is committed to hammering out the best agreement possible on their behalf. In fact, buyer's agents have helped to negotiate better deals for their clients. Buyers can be assured that their buyer's agent will concentrate on finding a property that best met their needs. Also, the agent's knowledge of the local real estate market and legal requirements was a critical success factor.

There are two types of buyer's agents: exclusive and non-exclusive. An exclusive buyer's agent works for a real estate agency whose sole purpose is to represent home buyers in their real estate transaction to purchase a home. Although they are licensed real estate agents, they do not list or sell houses. On the other hand, a non-exclusive buyer's agent is a licensed real estate agent who works with a company that is able to represent both buyers and sellers, and therefore, may not be able to represent the buyer in all transactions. The fiduciary duty of an exclusive buyer's agent always remains with the home buyer.

Finding the right buyer's agent can be a difficult and time-consuming process. This is compounded if you happen to be relocating to an unfamiliar city. You need to do your homework to make sure the buyer's agent you hire has a good track record for getting the best terms for his or her clients. In the current market, having a buyer's agent on their side has helped many home buyers close transactions that otherwise might not have closed.

For more information about the benefits of having a buyer's agent, visit www.buyersagent.net.
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Energy Efficiency Funding Can Create 1 Million Jobs

October 31, 2011 9:16 pm

A recently-released report outlines ways to finance $150 billion per year in energy efficiency projects that yield double-digit financial returns.

“Energy Efficiency Financing: Models and Strategies” by Capital-E and partner organizations says that within 10 years, investment at this level would save U.S. businesses and households $200 billion annually and would create more than 1 million new full-time jobs. This level of funding represents a more than five-fold increase from current levels of about $20 billion per year and would cost-effectively make the American economy more competitive, enhance national security and help slow the impacts of climate change, according to the findings.

“This important report reflects our commitment to providing insight into market trends and to supporting the appraisal industry’s critical role in valuing the impact of all property features, including ‘green’ and energy efficient buildings,” says Appraisal Institute President Joseph C. Magdziarz, MAI, SRA. “As the real estate valuation industry’s leader, the Appraisal Institute is in the forefront of preparing appraisers to analyze energy efficient buildings.”

With the end of the 2011 fiscal year, some $40 billion in public stimulus funding for energy efficiency and clean energy is rapidly winding down, leaving a huge financing gap that only the private sector can fill, according to the report. “Energy Efficiency Financing: Models and Strategies” details how the private sector can rapidly and cost-effectively expand private investment in energy efficiency.

The Appraisal Institute was among the major real estate and industry organizations that helped develop the report by Capital-E, which also partnered with five of the 10 largest U.S. banks.

For more information, visit www.appraisalinstitute.org/.
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