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Keep Home Improvements From Destroying Your Budget

by Rebecca Shahan

Owning a home is an investment that, as we all know, will need repairs and improvements as the years go by. Many people prepare for the mortgage payment and other costs, but sudden repairs can catch anyone off guard. In fact, around 31% of homeowners don't set aside enough for home repairs.

What are some steps you can take to make sure you're ready for your next repair job or improvement project?

1. Always have a plan

Since there's many items on your to-do list as a homeowner, then logically you should make a real to-do list on paper or spreadsheet program to keep track of it all. Keep track of your regular maintenance items, such as filter replacements and gutter cleaning, as well as projects you want to take care of in the near future. Then make a list of larger updates you would like to do eventually.

Doing this will not only help you remember regular items to keep up, but you can prioritize repairs that will save money down the road. This list will also come in handy when you want to look back at repairs on particular items over the years to see if they justify replacement. And when you go to sell your home, the buyer will appreciate knowing when those items were taken care of.

2. Add to your emergency fund

Setting aside money for repairs is always a good idea, especially if you don't live in a new home. Having an emergency fund can help you take care of unexpected situations, or if you lose income. And you don't have to aim for the stars to start with. Setting aside as much as you can will add up over the months and years. There are also apps for your phone that can help set money aside.

3. Act quickly when it comes to repairs

Take care of a repair as soon as it pops up. Don't wait for the problem to get worse. For example, a leaky faucet can rot the subfloor. Fixing a faucet is far easier than replacing a floor.

4. Know your financing options

Sometimes a repair may exceed your cash on hand. Make a plan to take care of these larger repairs, such as borrowing from a bank or family member. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are also financing options.

5. Consider doing it yourself

Younger homeowners tend to do projects themselves rather than hiring a pro. This can save hundreds on a project. But there's a risk in making huge mistakes that can cost more in the end. Make sure you can handle a project before you DIY.

6. If you go pro, do your research

There's nothing wrong with hiring a pro. But make sure that you research the pros in your area and get several estimates. Ask questions, such as how they intend to do the job, what the estimated timeline is, whether they’re insured and how much experience they have with projects like yours. Don’t simply go with the cheapest contractor to save Money. Yes, they could be the best person for the job, or you may wind up spending more to fix their mistakes.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Extending The Lifespan Of Your Roof

by Rebecca Shahan

The lifespan of a roof is affected by the workmanship and materials, along with weather conditions. But there are steps you can take to keep your rood in good condition longer. The roof is a major part of your home, and keeping it in good shape will save money in more ways than just the roof itself.

Avoiding Common Maintenance Issues

Small problems left unchecked can threaten the lifespan of a roof.

Here are some of the most common issues:

  • Sagging or overloaded gutters. Leaves and debris build up over time and can cause them to sag. Clean them to avoid water damage to the deck board and the boards under the gutter line.
  • Unattended roof debris. Branches and debris can especially build up during storms. Clean these regularly to prevent rot and other damage.
  • Unknown rot or weak spots. Every few years, get up on the roof or hire a professional to check the roof's condition up close and fix any issues.

Good Ventilation

Your attic can also affect the life of a roof. Poor ventilation can lead to many problems.

During the summer, a poorly ventilated attic can reach up to 160 degrees. This hot air can get through your insulation and heat up the rest of the home. This also affects the shingles, effectively frying them and leading to decay.

Insulating the Attic

Good insulation in your attic is also important to prolonging your roof's life. Insulating your attic properly will reduce the heat transfer and reflect the radiant heat away from your roof and adding to it's lifespan.

Mold and Moss

If you find mold on your roof, you can easily clean it with a diluted bleach solution. But if you don't, it won't affect the life of your roof. On the other hand, moss can trap moisture and lead to rot, so make sure you remove moss as soon as possible.

Preparing For Damage

No matter what you do, any roof will be damaged over time. Damage can really add up during storms. If you keep on top of the smaller issues as they happen, it can lead to better protection during inclement weather.

You also don't need a ladder to inspect your roof, just a pair of binoculars. If you notice anything amiss like missing, curling, or buckling shingles, arrange for a professional once-over.

Maintaining your roof is easy with a proactive approach. With proper attention, you can enjoy your roof for years to come.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself

by Rebecca Shahan

Owning a home can be a pain at times. Home repairs can be expensive and at times, highly inconvenient. It might seem like a good idea to do a DIY on that annoying repair, but some fixes are better left to the pros. Here's a few examples for you to consider.

Electrical Repairs

Electrical repairs are at the top of the list. You might think calling in your relative or friend who's a "great handyman" to do the repair for you, but often that can cause more problems or dangers than it will solve. Electricians can be expensive, but that is because they've spent many years studying and training to get the job done safely for you and them.

Basement Makeover

A basement renovation might seem like a dream come true to a DIYer, but the basement is a very important part of a homes structure and mistakes, some possibly fatal, could occur. Even if it isn't fatal, it could wind up costing you far more than you bargained for.

Fun with Plumbing

Plumbing issues. Not a whole lot of fun to deal with one every day, leaving you tempted to take care of it yourself. You might think too, that plumbing, along with simple electrical repairs will be a walk in the park, but a fix done wrong can cause serious damage. To your home and wallet. So try calling a plumber. Why else are there at least a dozen in every town?

Gas Appliances

When it comes to gas appliances it could literally be an explosive situation if an appliance is not fixed and reconnected correctly during a repair. Similar to electrical repairs, if not done right, you could cause a leak, which could create major health problems and even a fire or explosion in your home or worse. So when it come to your gas appliances, don't DIY. Call a professional.

When it comes to health, safety and caring for your home, erring on the side of caution is always the best option.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

How to Save on Granite Countertops

by Rebecca Shahan

Granite countertops. They’re tough, stylish, low maintenance, and always a good choice. You really just can’t beat a granite countertop in your kitchen or bath. Some may feel that granite countertops are for upscale homes and out of their reach financially. The good news is that you don’t need to buy the most expensive granite to get outstanding results. Here’s what you should know about granite counters and how you can cut back the cost of installing one.

Costs

You can pay anywhere from $2000 - $4500 for a granite countertop. Granite is usually priced by the square foot. This price usually includes delivery, installation, and simple edge finishes.  You will of course pay more if you need extra features such as decorative edge treatments and cutouts for sinks or stove tops, along with plumbing hookups and disposal of your old countertop.

The grade of the countertop will affect the price as well and is based on stone availability, color, shipping and distinctiveness.  Grade doesn’t always reveal the granite’s overall quality.

Saving Money

1. Shop around

Shopping around is a huge way to save money and potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Compare big box stores, design studios, granite fabricators, and companies that specialize in prefabricated granite counters. Always hire an established company that’s insured. Compare online reviews and talk to family or friends who have had granite installed. When you chose two or three companies, make sure to visit each one so you can talk about the project and see examples of their work.

2. Buy the sink and faucet separately

Buying the sink, faucet and any plumbing separately lets you get the lowest prices on each item.

3. Use a remnant

You may be able to find discounts on smaller pieces of stone left over from other projects.

4. Go prefab

Prefabricated counters are already cut and polished, and are great for simple counters that don’t need many cuts.

5. Have the installer do final measurements

Make sure the installer takes the final measurements and make a template which the final estimate will be based on. This will avoid making expensive mistakes.

Adding a granite countertop is a great way to make your home look better and raise the resale value of your home.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

A New Garage Door Can Add Value to Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

How does your garage door look these days? Our garage door isn’t something we usually notice until something goes wrong with it. Most people don’t think about replacing their garage door unless they really need to.  But even if your garage door works fine, it may be time to replace it. Doing so can actually raise the value of your home, which is especially important if you plan to sell it. And a new garage door is relatively inexpensive compared to other home improvement projects, coming in at around $2500 including the opener. Of course that number will vary depending on size and who installs it.

Here are some factors that will affect cost and what options are available.

Size

A standard garage door is 8-10 ft wide, and a 2-car garage door is 12-18 feet wide. Garage doors come in all sizes and thicknesses. Of course, the bigger it is, the more it will cost.

Type

The more affordable doors include sectional or roll-up doors. One-piece or swing up doors, along with swing out and sliding doors will cost more.

Materials

Steel: Steel doors are a popular option because they are durable and low maintenance, along with being affordable. Two-car garage doors range from $750 to $3,500 depending on style and construction. But they are also heavy, easily dented, and put more strain on the opener.

Aluminum: Aluminum is also affordable like steel, but is a poor insulator and easily bends. On the up side, they are lighter than steel, rust-resistant and ideal for wider doors.  This type of door typically ranges from $1,500 to $2,000.

Wood and composite wood: Solid wood garage doors are heavier than steel and aluminum doors, require upkeep and are more expensive. Composite doors are lighter and less expensive than solid wood, but not as durable as metal or synthetic materials. Wood or composite wood two-car garage doors range from $1,200 to $4,000.

Fiberglass: Fiberglass doors are affordable, light, and available in many styles, along with being resistant to rot. They can however yellow with age and sometimes cracks in extreme temperatures, making them a less desirable option in hot climates. These garage doors typically range from $1,500 to $2,000 for a two-car garage.

Vinyl: Vinyl garage doors are lightweight, low-maintenance and can take a beating, which makes them great for high-traffic homes. The down side is that vinyl can fade, and style options are limited. These range from $900 to $1,500.

Professional installation

In almost all cases, it’s best to hire a professional to install your garage door. They have the right equipment and the experience. Hiring a professional may cost up to $500, but is well worth the price.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home Sell

by Rebecca Shahan

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home SellLast week we talked about some simple home staging ideas to get you on the way to selling your home faster in Austin and Lake Travis. But those ideas only scratch the surface of all the ways you can improve the appeal of your home for sale.  What are some further ways you can get the edge on the competition? Here's some advanced tips that can help.

Bring Balance

Last week we talked about the importance of cleaning and de-cluttering. Now that you have a cleaner slate, it's time to selectively bring back some items that will add appeal to your home. You can use tasteful decor such as a vase of cut flowers, a bowl of lemons by the sink, or perhaps some fresh produce on the kitchen counter, preferably from a local Austin area farmers market.

Add Style to the Dining Room

The dining room often gets overlooked when it comes to decorating a home. Empty tables can look unwelcoming, so style it up a bit with a series of small vessels down the center of the table.  Try to stay away from one large item in the center as this can look too stiff and formal.

Look at the Floors

You should at a minimum clean all the carpets. How worn are your wood floors? If they show their age, you should get them refinished. And if you can't afford to refinish them, try adding some carefully placed area rugs.

Symmetrical Furniture

Symmetrical furniture placement usually works best. You can create a more inviting area by pulling furniture away from the walls to create a conversation area.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Remodeling to Get the Most ROI Selling Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Get the most ROI on selling your home in AustinAre you planning on selling your home in Austin or Lake Travis? If so, you no doubt want to do what you can to get the most money from the sale.  How old is you home? When was it remodeled or painted last?  If it's been a while, then it may be a good idea to look into updating your home. A dated or worn down appearance can take away from the resale value.  But where's the balance to avoid spending more than you get back in the sale?  Which projects will get back the most money and add to the appeal of your home to buyers? 

Not every improvement will increase the value of your home. Certain projects will only preserve the value, while others will help increase it.  In the end, you need to focus on what will increase the value.

So to get down to it, what are the projects that get the highest ROI?

Outside Projects

Nothing improves a home more than enhancing curb appeal. Most buyers will judge a home by how it looks from the outside.  Just about any project that enhances how your home looks on the outside will enhance the value. The projects that can get back the most money in the sale are replacing the garage door, replacing a steel door entry, adding or improving a wood deck, along with siding and facade projects. If you don't have enough money for those improvements, just adding a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference. Make sure you keep with neutral colors so as not to put off any potential buyers.

Kitchens and Baths

We all know that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  We rely on our stove and fridge, along with other appliances. If your kitchen has older appliances, you may want to update them. Baths are also an important place to keep fresh.  If the baths have dated flooring and counters, you should think about updating them as well.

The Little Things

This may all sound like it costs too much to take on.  But that's OK, as you can focus on the little things. Updating the little things can really help sell your home. You can give your home a fresh coat of paint, trim trees and bushes, plant new bushes and landscaping. De-cluttering and cleaning your home only costs time. If you have an unfinished basement, you can put gray epoxy on the floor and paint the walls white. Never underestimate the power of improving the little things.

Every home and neighborhood is different in Austin. If you need help deciding what improvements would be best to sell your home, we know what sells a home in Austin and Lake Travis and what buyers are looking for. And make sure to check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice. And make sure you take advantage of our Home Valuation to get an instant market valuation for your Austin area home.

 

5 Spring Gardening Tips

by Rebecca Shahan

Gardening tips for Lake Travis and AustinSpring has arrive in Austin and Lake Travis, so get those tools tools out of the shed and get ready to get your garden back in shape. How can you get the most from your garden this spring? Here's a few simple tips to help you get started on growing a fantastic garden this spring.

Cleaning

During the winter, leaves and other debris can build up. And certainly weeds have built up. If you're pulling weeds rather than using weed killer, make sure you get the roots so they don't grow back as fast.  Also take time to sharpen your garden tools if needed, since you'll be getting a lot of use out of them.

Revitalize

During the winter, your soil may get dry and compact. You can help the soil by adding organic material such as compost or manure. You may also want to test the soil to see what exact nutrients are needed so that you get the right mix.

Trim the Old Plants

You may have some plants that survived during the winter, so they will need to be pruned so that they'll have new growth during the Spring. April or May is the ideal time to prune to avoid any unexpected freezing. The best time to prune summer plants is in early spring. 

Spread Mulch

Spreading 1 - 3 inches of mulch helps control the temperature and keep in the moisture in your garden, along with preventing weeds. Make sure you keep the mulch a few inches from the roots to prevent rotting.

New Plants

Why not explore planting new flowers and shrubs this year? Here's some great spring plants you might try:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula
  • Redbuds
  • Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
  • Lilacs
  • Tulips

If you chose to plant more perennials than annuals, it might help over the years as annuals need to be replaced every year. Perennials can last up to 3 years, making them a better investment.

Join us on our blog every week for more real estate advice.  You can also search for your dream home in Lake Travis and Austin using our convenient and powerful home search tool.

Keeping Your Home Cool With Less A/C

by Rebecca Shahan

Stay cool in Asutin with less ACSpring is here in Austin and Lake Travis and Summer is soon to come, along with warmer weather.  In fact, this week the forecast is for temps in the 80's.  No doubt you're getting the A/C ready.  And if you don't have an air conditioner or cooling system, then you want every possible advantage to keep your home cool this year.  And even if you do have an A/C, running it non-stop can get expensive.  How can you keep your power usage down and still stay cool this summer? Here's a few tips that can help you saty cooler.

Run Fans

Sure this may sound obvious, but it certainly still bears mentioning.  The more air you circulate around the home, the cooler you'll feel even if the temperature remains the same. Plus it will help remove stagnant stale air that can add to your discomfort in the heat.

Run Appliances When It's Cooler

Try to schedule doing dishes or laundry during cooler times of the day.  These appliances build up heat and can cause the A/C to run longer, or make it harder to cool your home without A/C. Certainly avoid using these appliances during the mid-day heat if at all possible.

Cover Windows

Large windows let in sun, especially facing the south. Keeping them covered will help reflect the sunlight and keep your rooms cooler. Blackout curtains that have white on the side facing the window and darker colors facing the inside can help the most.

Plant Trees and Bushes

Landscaping is not only a beautiful ways to shield your home from the sun, but it's efficient and effective.

Attic Fan

An attic fan can suck the heat out of your living area, which can lower the temperature of your home.

Keep Thermostats Away From Heat

A thermostat located near a heat source can cause the A/C to run longer. Try to place appliances away from the thermostat.

Avoid Rocks & Cement

Landscaping with a lot of rocks and cement can soak up the heat and radiate it, especially on the south and west sides of your home.

Window Film

Properly installing window film can improve the efficiency of any window and help reduce heat.

With these few tips, you can stay cooler and save money during the warmer times of the year.  Check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice and helpful articles.

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9