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Home Not Selling? Boost the Curb Appeal With These Updates

Home prices in major U.S. cities were up 5.7 percent in December 2015, and the market is predicted to be seller-friendly this year. If you’re planning to sell your house in 2016, you may have some competition from other homeowners looking to take advantage of a favorable market.

Improving your home’s curb appeal is one of the easiest ways to stand out in a competitive market.

The National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Remodeling Impact Report evaluated the impact of interior and exterior home improvements for people planning to stay in their homes and for people planning to sell. They ranked eight exterior improvements, in two categories: appeal to buyers and biggest boost to resale value.

Top-ranked exterior improvements:

  1. New roof. A new roof topped the list of exterior upgrades most attractive to buyers and most likely to increase resale value. This is also a costly upgrade, so if your roof is a few years old but in good condition, you might want to focus on less expensive projects.
  1. New vinyl windows. Realtors ranked new vinyl windows second in both categories. If you have a large home, new vinyl windows may assuage buyer concerns about heating and cooling costs, because so much of those costs depend on window quality.
  1. New doors. Number three in both categories was a new garage door, and a new steel front door was the sixth most appealing upgrade for buyers and seventh most likely to add resale value. The report estimated a new garage door averages an 87 percent return on investment, and a new steel front door offers a 75 percent return on investment.

If you’re going to replace either the garage door or front door, consider replacing them both, so their color and style match. Garage doors aren’t just white, utilitarian necessities these days — they’re available in a variety of finishes and designs that can add visual interest to a home’s exterior.

Other improvements

4 & 5. New vinyl siding and wood windows ranked fourth and fifth on both lists, and new fiber-cement siding and fiberglass front door also made the cut. A Realtor can help you decide which improvements would be most likely to appeal to buyers in your area and improve the value of your home.

Spring cleaning in your garage is important for keeping your home safe, clean, and functional.

5 Reasons to Clear the Clutter and Park Your Car in the Garage

If you’re like most homeowners, the available space in your garage is probably shrinking by the year. Old furniture, big plastic tubs full of who-knows-what and miscellaneous clutter can turn a two-car garage into a no-car garage before you even notice what’s happening.

And once the garage has completed its transition to a storage space, some homeowners decide it would be easier to park in the driveway than to try to reclaim their former parking spot.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and need some motivation to clear out that clutter, here are 5 reasons you should park in your garage:

  1. Security. A car that’s locked, inside a locked garage, is much harder to steal than one sitting in a driveway or on the street. Plus, small-time thieves have no problem throwing a brick through a car window to look for cash, electronics or anything of value. And if it’s a garage door opener they’re after, you could be putting your household in jeopardy too.
  1. Aesthetics. Keeping your car in the garage will preserve its paint job longer. You won’t have to wash it as often, and you can avoid a lot of environmental nuisances like berry stains and sticky sap from nearby trees, and bird droppings.
  1. Mechanics. In the winter, your car will stay warmer inside the garage, which means the oil won’t thicken as much as it would outside in the cold. When you start your car, the warmer oil begins to lubricate the engine immediately.
  1. Weather. Don’t waste precious time scraping snow and ice from your car in the winter, or thawing frozen locks — keep your car in the garage, where it’ll also be protected from costly hail damage.
  1. Random threats. Any number of random occurrences could damage your car when it’s parked outside — an errant baseball, a falling tree limb or even a curious raccoon that takes a walk across your hood could result in expensive repairs.

If you can’t get rid of the garage clutter, at least move it somewhere else for now. Paying for a monthly storage unit is a good investment, considering the direct and indirect costs that can come from parking outside.

Brown, Wooden Garage Door

Why You Need to Protect Your Family From Garage Door Accidents

Many of us take precautions to protect our families against hazards like food poisoning, falls, and fires. Unfortunately, accidents caused by garage doors are not always at the top of that list. Yet, 30,000 adults and children are injured in accidents involving garage doors every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Accidents include injuries and fatalities caused by falling doors, section joints, DIY projects, broken doors, entrapment, racing to beat the door, and riding the door.

Garage doors are typically the largest moving objects in a home. Like all machinery, proper installation, operation, maintenance, and testing are crucial to providing safe operation.

An improperly adjusted garage door or malfunctioning opener can cause a door to slam shut with tremendous force — enough to have deadly consequences.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Safety Counsel and the Industry Coalition for Automatic Garage Door Opener Safety have identified some routine but key, steps you can take to protect the health and safety of your family and keep your door operating properly.

  1. Reinforce the fact that garage door openers are not toys. As tempting as it may be to open and close automated doors, children should not be allowed to play with them. Take the time to discuss the dangers they can cause, including being trapped under the door. Also, stop the practice of “beating the door” to run out of the garage if you haven’t already done so. This practice has led to serious injuries or, in some cases, death.
  1. Take the time to understand how your door operates. Although you may never have to use it, locate the emergency release and practice how to use it. If someone gets trapped beneath the door, you can quickly engage the emergency release. Teach other residents of your home on how to use it as well.
  1. Perform routine maintenance and safety checks. Like other equipment and appliances in your home, your garage door system may malfunction. Regularly perform inspections and testing of the opener, door and other parts to make sure that it is functioning properly. Check the owner’s manual for a schedule of recommended maintenance for your specific model. If you can’t locate the manual, contact the manufacturer for a copy or directions on how to locate the information online.

For more tips on how to keep your family members safe from garage door accidents, read the complete guide at the International Door Association website.

Fitting Security Camera To House Wall

Make Your Home More Secure in 2 Days or Less

It’s not something we like to think about, but banks, businesses, and other commercial locations aren’t at the top of robbers’ list of places to break in. In the vast majority of cases, they’re stealing stuff from residential homes, according to the most recent data published by the FBI. Out of 2 million burglaries reported in 2010, nearly 74 percent were committed on residential properties.

You can take steps to make your home more secure against burglaries in less time than you may think. Here are several important measures you can implement within 2 days or less.

1. Make your security system visible. There’s a good chance you may have an alarm system on your home. Besides regularly activating it when you leave the home, consider installing surveillance cameras at different points of your property. Don’t try to hide them. Likewise, make sure your alarm company installs stickers in places where they are visible. Taking these measures could deter criminals from trying to break into your home, according to a study by the University of North Carolina. Out of 400 convicted felons surveyed, 83 percent said they would try to find out if a home had an alarm before trying to burglarize it. And 60 percent said they would try to find another target if there was evidence of an alarm.

If you already have an alarm system, it should only take a day or two to get some of those decals from your alarm company. Posting them on your home takes just a few minutes. And if you don’t have a security system, it’s time to get one. A professional can install a security system and those cameras in a day or two.

2. Secure your doors, garage doors and windows. Surprisingly, many burglary victims didn’t make sure their windows and doors were locked. Although 60.5 percent of burglaries were classified as forcible entry, 33.2 percent were unlawful entries — meaning that the burglars entered through unlocked doors, windows and garages. Also, if you regularly park your vehicle on the street, make sure you don’t leave your garage door remote in the vehicle. A burglar could break into the car as a way to get into the house. It only takes a minute to adopt these preventative security habits.

3. Regularly maintain garage doors. In some neighborhoods across the nation, police are reporting that burglaries of garages are spiking. In Spokane, Wash., for example, 180 burglaries of garages were reported in August of 2015 — compared to an average of 150. Have your garage inspected annually to ensure that it’s not vulnerable to break-ins.

An inspection should include checks on all of the parts, including springs, tracks and cables, to ensure they are properly operating and secure. Schedule an appointment with a garage door professional to conduct the inspection, and ask how secure your overall garage is against intrusions. An inspection and any potential maintenance only will take a couple of hours.

With some simple precautions, as well as a few changes around your home, you can help you discourage criminals from trying to burglarize your property. And it only takes a couple of days or less.

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