When you're selling your home it can be tempting to try and go it alone. Maybe you don't want to work with a real estate agent to try and save some money, or you just think it won't make much of a difference. Although there are people who decide to go it alone with some degree of success, there is much to consider to guarantee the very best outcome for you and your family. The truth is there's a lot that goes into selling a house you may not have considered. Depending on your level of experience with buying and selling homes you may not know even the basics of how things work. Agents do more than just bring in potential buyers and show up to have documents signed. They know all the ins and outs of both buying and selling a house.
If you're trying to sell your home you really do need to consider all your options to make your sale a success and that includes using a real estate agent. The reasons you need an agent to sell your home are the same no matter where you are. Having a good agent to sell your home is invaluable. Here are some important things you should take into consideration when deciding whether to get a real estate agent to sell your home.
Real Estate Agents Have More Experience
Unless you're selling houses every day along with your normal day job, you won't have as much experience as an agent. Experience can make a huge difference in getting your house sold quickly or having to drop the price because it has remained on the market for an extended period. Real estate agents are trained to know how to navigate the market.
They've prepared for this, taken and passed exams, they have done this before. This experience is valuable and worth the costs involved. Your end goal is the sale of your house sold and in a timely manner, and not lose money in the process. The agent's goal is the same as yours, they just know how to do it faster and better. They are equipped with information on all aspects of the sale from regulatory law to the best place to look for buyers.
Real Estate Agents are Professional Negotiators
Selling your house can be emotional. It's somewhere you've lived your day-to-day life as a family or maybe even grown into as a family. If you've put a lot of work into it, you can have an extra attachment because you know the amount of sweat equity involved in that work.
An agent is removed from all of that. Their main goal is to get your house sold and, if negotiations are involved, without the emotional ties that can prevent the making of a good deal. They aren't going to make a deal without your approval but are better able to guide and advise objectively.
Real Estate Agents Understand Contracts
Closing paperwork can be complicated. A buyer may have an agent with them during the closing, but, of course, that agent is there only to look after the buyer's best interests. You will need someone on your side, too. Sometimes last-minute issues surface right as someone is about to sign on that dotted line. For someone that doesn't deal with closings often these can be dealbreaker situations. The agent will be well versed with the language and structure of contracts, disclosures, and the proper closing process, start to finish. They will know what needs to be disclosed and what to do if something comes up as paperwork is being signed.
Real Estate Agents Can Give You Pricing Advice
Much like negotiating, pricing your home can be hard to separate emotion from. You know how hard you worked to get your home ready for sale, or the work you've put in over your years of ownership. It's difficult to keep that out of your mind entirely while settling on a price to list your home. Agents can help with this, as they know the neighborhoods, they know the market, and they know comparable housing prices. All these things factor into making sure you're pricing your home effectively. This is an invaluable resource to have when trying to make a sale.
Selling your house is not as easy as you might initially think it will be. There are many reasons you'll want to have a real estate agent on your side. From negotiation to fielding interested buyers there is much to consider. Hiring an agent to assist with the sale of your home is likely to take a lot of stress off of your shoulders, and may very well be the best decision you make during the entire process.
Achieving a lush, healthy lawn in our tropical climate, almost seems a no-brainer. Warmer climates however, place unique demands on yards and gardens. Sunnier, high-humidity environments like ours result in faster plant growth than in relatively cooler parts of the world; but watching your grass grow and grow and grow can be just as problematic and watching it dry off and die. Extreme humidity, intense heat, and heavy rains are other issues that frequently plague tropical climate lawns and other plants. To ensure your lawn does not resemble a jungle, it is important for maintain regular pruning and other upkeep, throughout the year.
During the hot humid months, from April through to October, lawns are in their element as regular summer storms bring torrential rain. This usually means lush green leaf growth that, at times, appears to be out of control. Good lawn maintenance can keep this rapid growth period at bay as well as maintain a green, healthy lawn during the cooler months.
An important part of lawn maintenance is checking the pH of your lawn during the wet season. Fertilizing is not recommended at that time, as it will promote vigorous leaf growth, which, for now, is not necessary. More than likely, you will already be watching your lawn grow before your eyes yet be unable to mow due to the rain. Instead, you can apply lime and gypsum to the soil as these acts as a soil conditioner and keeps the pH up. Due to the region's high rainfall, soils can become very acidic which can affect the health of the plant growth. The addition of lime to your yard care routine, maintains a good pH balance and promotes the uptake of soil nutrients. Gypsum is a clay breaker. One of the reasons soils is compacted and like concrete in most backyards is due to initial building activity. Usually, much of the topsoil is taken away during home construction and the ground is compacted making it difficult for water to penetrate the soil. Gypsum is good for breaking down clay soils enabling the water to penetrate.
Another wet-weather-must is to keep lawn mowing equipment in good working order. There is nothing worse when there is a break in the weather, and you are unable to mow because of failing lawn equipment due to poor maintenance. Be prepared by having mowers and other equipment fueled and ready to go. Sharp mower blades are essential to ensure the lawn has a clean, even cut. Unbalanced, blunt blades often leave a yard looking hacked and untidy. The success to an even, tidy lawn is weekly trims in the summer months, whenever possible. This will keep lawn clipping to a minimum. During the cooler and less wet months, mow every two to three weeks to keep the lawns immaculate.
After the wet season around October-November, is the perfect time to apply good a quality slow-release fertilizer to keep the lush growth achieved during the wet season. Once you have applied fertilizer, water in well as this will help keep thick leaf cover, reduce moisture loss, and keep your lawn actively growing. Pull the mower deck up one notch to leave more leaf on the grass, as this will also help reduce moisture loss within the soil.
In November, reapply the slow-release fertilizer before generally cooler temps set in. This is a must-do job as it will keep lawns green and healthy throughout the tropic's mild winter. Depending on your variety of turf, follow a recommended water schedule; whether weekly or fortnightly. This watering method is better than small top ups every night as it promotes the deep root system growth needed for a healthy lawn.
April is another good time to apply slow-release fertilizer as it will help the recovery from the winter months. Again, a good, deep watering is required. Now is the time to lower the mower deck back to the summer mowing height.
May brings spring and a burst of activity, completing the annual cycle. Birds are building nests; flowers are blooming, and worms are getting ready to launch their attack on lush green lawns. Healthy green lawns are perfect sites for pest eggs. An environmentally safe pesticide should be on hand during springtime to counterattack and ensure a healthy lawn, year-round.
Summer's finally here! Time for cookouts, backyard parties, outdoor sports, and time by the water. All this time outside can lead to potential dangers, if we aren't prepared. With proper preparation and a safety plan in place, you'll be set for, what could be, your best summer ever.
To avoid accidents and pricey repairs, prepping your home for the summer months is a must. From steamy temps and unexpected storms to the general wear and tear on the inside and outside of your home, there are quite a few things to get ready for. First, we must take inventory of what home maintenance is overdue. From repairing broken appliances to cleaning out your air conditioning filters and ducts, summer upkeep projects can save you money in the long run and keep everything running smoothly. Conduct a home energy audit once every year, to determine where upgrades can make a difference in lowering your carbon footprint and utility bill.
To help keep the outside of your home looking great while keeping your family safe, be sure to add these to your to-do list:
- Install sunshades or tinting to your windows to deflect heat.
- Reseal any cracked caulking or weather strips on external windows and doors to prevent leaks.
- Inspect outside your home for cracks and any overhanging tree limbs that could fall during a storm.
- Double-check that flood insurance is included in your home insurance policy.
- Spray your yard and home to protect it from pests and other creatures. Set traps and other deterrents, where necessary.
- Schedule a yearly inspection to help catch termites before they cause major damage to your home's structure.
Keeping bugs at bay often entails the use of chemicals or pesticides, so safe usage should be top-of-mind. If you choose to use pesticides in and around your home, ensure children know to avoid any treated areas after application, for as long as manufacturer's instructions dictate. Always explain the dangers of all potentially harmful products to your children. This can help prevent injury from accidental exposure. Placement of a first-aid kit, with poison control information, and fire extinguisher on every level of your home is a smart idea - having them nearby helps you respond as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.
Security and Monitoring
As temps rise in the summer months, unfortunately so do the rates of home break-ins and theft. On average, there is an 11% increase in home-based crimes during the summer months. And though we are now staying home more than ever before, this increase is enough to make one nervous during a weekend getaway. Thankfully, smart home technology has vastly advanced, giving homeowners control over their home protection and monitoring capabilities. Recent additions to the smart home market include indoor and outdoor cameras, motion detection lighting, and automatic locks that can alert you on your phone any time someone locks or unlocks a door. These devices are not only helpful for identifying and stopping burglaries, but they're also great for monitoring your children's activity throughout the home. Some devices even allow you to speak to your children or play music directly through speaker systems. Ultimately, the purpose of smart devices is to help streamline your life, making everyday tasks easier.
When we are around more often, like during the summer or shelter-in-place orders, our homes, appliances, and devices go through something known as home strain. And with a global pandemic keeping us homebound more than ever before, home strain is reaching new heights. As sheltering in place continues and as more people opt to work from home, this issue is likely to persist. The most needed repairs come from issues with power surges, broken appliances, and damaged electronic devices. To help counteract the effects of home strain, it's important to thoroughly clean your home, appliances, and other devices. Electronic devices and other household appliances run faster and last longer with regular cleanings. Regular cleaning also allows you to inspect for damage and fix small issues before they grow.
Grilling and Fire Protection
Grilling is an especially popular summertime activity. Improperly operated grillware can be extremely dangerous. This is especially true when there are young children in proximity, as they can accidentally injure themselves or others. A few things to consider before grilling this summer to keep your family and home safe:
Never leave a fire unattended. Constant monitoring will help keep the fire under control and prevent any potential injuries from children or pets getting too close to the flame. It is recommended to keep your grill at least 10 feet from your home or any other structures, and away from any overhanging trees.
When returning indoors, it is important to extinguish the fire. Never let it a grill burn out. While it is recommended to keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies, a grill can be put out with water once you are done. It's also a good idea to keep a first-aid kit nearby in case of accidents or burns.
Whether you have an in-ground pool, hot tub, above ground, or inflatable pool, children should always be supervised while swimming. If possible, enroll your children in swimming lessons early or teach them yourself. As they are learning, a life jacket or other flotation device should be put on before getting in the water. Become CPR-certified and always keep an extra flotation device and first-aid kit nearby. To ensure you know when your child is near the water, consider adding back door and gate alarms to alert you of any movement near the pool or hot tub.
Setting Safety Rules
The safety of their child is the goal of every parent, but it can be easier said than done. It is important to talk with your kids about summer safety, including the limits you've set for how far they can venture out or what activities they take part in without you nearby. In addition to installing safety measures like gates around the pool and locks on medicine cabinets, it's important to let your children know what type of play is and is not allowed. Playing in a parked car, for example, can easily turn dangerous in the summer heat. Always lock your car when it's not in use, even if it's just in your garage or driveway.
As children get older, they'll likely want to venture out to play with friends away from home. Before going out to play, establish ground rules for how far they can go and for how long. Ensure they are aware of the potential dangers of your area. Mobile numbers should be memorized in case of an emergency.
Whether your yard is relatively empty or full of toys, an inspection should be part of the pre-play routine. This allows you to address any issues you find before letting your children run around.
With summer in full swing and shelter-in-place orders continuing, you'll likely be spending most of your time at or near home. This makes total home safety more important than ever. While you may be able to make most repairs yourself, some things are better left to the professionals. Carve out enough time for cleaning and repairs - plus time for summer fun too!
When discussing energy efficiency, it is common for experts only to consider improving the savings results for homeowners in colder climates. It is a topic that our neighbors to the north and west must give consideration as most energy needs will increase when temperatures begin to fall. Having an energy efficient home, however, is also incredibly important in warmer climates. With the proper energy-saving strategies and smart design choices, Bahamian homes can become just as energy efficient as those in other regions.
BUILDING DESIGN & LAYOUT CONSIDERATIONS
For the highest energy efficiency, a home should be designed from the ground up with respect to how the light and other natural elements will affect energy needs. For example, West and East facing glass windows and doors can have about five times the heat gain of north-facing glass. For the most favorable outcome, a home should be constructed so that windows are positioned within 20 degrees of North or South, wherever possible. Choosing colors for your home, that are reflective as opposed to absorbent for roofing and siding can also help to control the heat inside the home.
Landscaping should be planned to work with the design elements of the home. Where there are windows or doors installed on the west or east sides of a house, trees and shrubs can be positioned to block the sun at the hottest times of the day.
Shady trees also work well for controlling heat gains in the home. During the warmest months, the trees will have leaves and block out sunlight. During the cooler months, the trees will lose leaves and allow greater heat gains. Shrubs and trees can also shade pavement so that sunlight is not reflected indoors.
Materials selected for the walls, floors, and roof, the type of windows and doors, and many other construction elements can all have a major impact on home energy efficiency. Materials with low heat conductivity should always be used and be thick enough to keep out any unwanted heat. Windows should be shaded or tinted to keep out the heat as much as possible, possibly even using a recessed window design for consistency. Ceramic tile floors are best for energy efficiency in hot climates, with carpeting typically raising the average temperature inside the home.
INSULATION FOR SAVINGS
Proper insulation is important for hot climate energy efficiency. About two inches of foam insulation is generally sufficient to help keep heat gains out and keep cool air inside. A carefully sealed building is of utmost importance.
ENERGY STAR APPLIANCES
Investing in Energy Star appliances boosts your home's energy efficiency. There are other ways to reduce energy expenses with your current appliances, as well. The refrigerator is often the leading energy user among a home's appliances, so it must operate efficiently.
ADJUST TEMPERATURE SETTINGS
The smallest temperature changes can greatly impact your home's energy efficiency. Adjust the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower on cooler days, and 78 degrees or higher during the summer so that you use less energy.
ADJUST WATER HEATER SETTINGS
This is typically something homeowners do not consider doing. However, this small change can go a long way in saving you money. A maximum temperature of 120 degrees is adequate for most homes. This prevents accidental scalding and is proven to slow the buildup of minerals in your water heater tank.
ADJUST REFRIGERATOR SETTINGS
The temperature of the refrigerator itself should be set to 35°-38°F, and the freezer to 0° F. The refrigerator is often the leading energy user among a home's appliances, so it must operate efficiently. Keep the door closed as often as possible. Check the door seals to ensure they are tight and secure. If a dollar bill placed between the door gaskets slips out easily, the seal is not as tight as it should be. Consider replacing it.
UNPLUG ELECTRONICS WHEN NOT IN USE
Always remember to unplug rarely used appliances to decrease energy usage around the house. Unplugging electronics like charging devices for phones, tablets, and digital cameras can increase your energy efficiency. Using a power strip with an on/off switch makes it easy to decrease electricity use by powering off multiple electronics at once.
Beyond construction, landscaping choices, and other big-ticket items, there are many ways homeowners can save. Lowering your energy bill can be accomplished by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Simple lifestyle changes go a long way to impact and improve your bottom line. When followed consistently, these practices could lead to substantial energy savings and lower utility bills. Making use of the strategies outlined above will help you and your family to live more energy efficient and boost the savings you see on your monthly energy bill.