Kerry Ziegler
Phone:  215-679-6877Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  kzhomes@comcast.netFax:  267-354-6922
Kerry Ziegler
Kerry Ziegler

My Blog

Fall-Inspired Decor Tops the List When It Comes to Attracting Prospective Buyers This Season

October 9, 2015 10:42 am

Now that autumn is in full swing, there are less house hunters hitting the pavement looking for their dream home, driving competition among sellers to a whole new level. If your home is currently on the market, taking advantage of all that comes with the fall season can go a long way toward attracting those who are seriously looking for a home they can settle into before the holidays.

Start by adding a lovely wreath to your home’s front door, as this is the first thing prospective buyers will see. Wreaths made out of pinecones are not only popular for decorating during the fall season, they’ll also exude a fresh aroma that screams fall anytime someone walks through the front door.

When it comes to the inside of the house, the dining room and kitchen are perfect areas for incorporating fall colors by way of freshly picked flowers or even a bowl of bright red apples. You can even mix berries or colorful leaves in a planter to bring some nature into the space. Corn is another popular decorating item that can be incorporated into many areas of the home. Not only can it be placed in a bowl, it can be hung up in a tasteful design or used as the centerpiece of a display.

If you’re looking for a more subtle touch, the addition of plaid or fall-colored fabric is a great way to liven up a living room or family room. From table runners to pillows and even simple throws, the options are endless. Something as simple as placing a plant in the corner of a room will also go a long way toward livening up the space.

It’s also important that you don’t neglect the exterior of your home. With a plethora of fall offerings available at your local gardening store, including mums, pumpkins and gourds, creating an eye-catching fall garden out front is an easy way to incorporate a festive atmosphere into your landscape.

If your lawn is flush with trees, take the time to rake regularly and clean up any branches or debris that might litter the ground after heavy rains and wind whip through the area.

As Halloween approaches, take care not to go overboard with decorations. While spider webs and animatronics are festive, the last thing you want is for Halloween decorations to become the focal point of your home when prospective buyers drop in to visit.

There’s no reason that the autumn season can’t be an important one for sellers. By taking advantage of fall décor and colors, you’ll hopefully be seeing plenty of green in the future.

For more fall-inspired decorating tips, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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In this Edition: Game Rooms

October 9, 2015 10:42 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines how to tastefully incorporate fall décor into your decorating scheme in order to attract prospective buyers who are serious about purchasing a home before the holidays. Other topics covered this month include simple tips for finding the mortgage that’s right for you and the importance of fixing plumbing issues before you list your home. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Financial Organization Tips When Disaster Strikes

October 9, 2015 2:01 am

Protecting your financial documents may be far from mind when a natural disaster strikes, but it’s one of the most important factors to consider, say the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA). “While the first priority is the safety of you and your family, knowing that your banking documents and private financial information are safe gives you one less thing to worry about during stressful times,” says ICBA Chairman Jack Hartings.

“Natural disasters of any kind quickly remind us how important it is to be organized and have a plan ahead of time. Having a financial preparedness plan will protect you and your family from the long-term effects of damaged, destroyed or lost financial documents,” Hartings adds.

To prepare for that possibility, the ICBA advises:

  • Keeping marriage licenses, birth certificates, adoption papers, property deeds, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns in a bank safe deposit box. Put each of these documents in a sealed plastic bag to keep out moisture;
  • Making and safeguarding additional official copies of critical documents, such as birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage licenses and the deed to your home, and notifying a trustee, close relative or attorney where important financial information is located;
  • Keeping names and contact numbers for executors, trustees and guardians in a safe place, either in your safe deposit box or with a close relative;
  • Taking an inventory and keeping a list of household valuables. Taking photographs of these items can help as well;
  • Including extra cash, preferably small bills, in your home emergency kit, which should include a three-day supply of water and food, a first aid kit, a manual can opener, flashlights, a radio and extra batteries;
  • Securing online data storage, which can serve as a supplement or back-up to paper copies.

Source: ICBA

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Window Treatments: Why Cordless Matters

October 9, 2015 2:01 am

Decorative window treatments may be stylish, but those with exposed or dangling cords can pose serious risks to youngsters. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) strongly recommend that only cordless window coverings, or those with inaccessible cords, be used in homes with infants and young children.

“Parents with young children should replace their corded window coverings with the cordless products available,” says Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) Executive Director Peter Rush.  “There are many cordless products available in different styles, colors, and sizes that will soon be easily identified with the ‘Best for Kids’ label.”

The ‘Best for Kids’ certification program helps consumers and retailers easily identify window covering products that are suitable for use in homes with infants and young children.  For a product to be eligible for this certification program, manufacturers must meet specified program criteria and submit their window covering products to a designated third-party testing laboratory.  Once a product passes the third-party testing, the manufacturer will be allowed to label the product with the ‘Best for Kids’ certification seal.

Multiple cordless products are available, and all of come in a variety of sizes, patterns, and fabrics. These include:

  • Cordless drapes
  • Sheers
  • Light-filtering cordless shades
  • Cordless blackout shades
  • Cordless roman shades
  • Cordless mini-blinds
  • Faux wood blinds
  • Shutters
  • Cordless pleated shades
  • Cordless motorized shades

Additionally, it behooves homeowners and renters with young children to move all furniture, cribs, beds and climbable surfaces away from windows, ensure windows cannot open more than four inches, and mount window guards or window stops.

Source: CPSC

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5 Tips for Tackling a Home Improvement List

October 9, 2015 2:01 am

(Family Features) From aesthetic upgrades to practical necessities, there is no shortage of projects for homeowners to tackle. To take the stress out of home improvement, blogger and author Justina Blakeney and YP.com serve up the following tips:

  • Prioritize projects by needs, not wants. Blakeney advises making sure important projects (functioning air conditioning, for example) are set before tackling less crucial ones, like popcorn ceilings. Be realistic with your goals and always factor in 20 percent more money and time than you think the project will take.
  • Some projects are simple enough to DIY, but other projects may be better handled by experts. Honestly assess your own level of expertise, permit requirements and local regulations, your budget, your timeline and ultimate goals before deciding whether to DIY or hire an expert. Whether you need a personal organizer or a painter, a foundation specialist or a handyman, ask friends for referrals and then head online to dig a little deeper before getting a project bid.
  • Create a collection of professionals you will be working with and all the stores you will source materials from. You'll have all of the info in one place for follow-ups, and it's easy to share the info with friends once they start asking for recommendations. Also get a clear breakdown of all elements involved in each project, how much each step will cost and deadlines for each step along the way. A clear plan of action will help keep the budget and timeline in check. 
  • One of the best ways to save time and money is to find things second-hand. Thrift shops, salvage shops and flea markets are great places to find furniture, appliances and hardware on the cheap. Or, repurpose items you already own by moving them to a different room or by painting them different colors. Explore all of your options and resources before going out and spending that hard-earned cash. 
  • It’s okay to start small. Swap out the old hardware on your kitchen cabinets or fix the broken brick on your patio. Just start somewhere and build your way up to the larger stuff. If you're feeling overwhelmed, try setting and accomplishing one small home improvement goal every week. 

Source: YP.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Survey Highlights the Struggle to Save

October 8, 2015 2:01 am

“How much money do you have saved in your savings account?”

A simple question with a not-so-simple answer, as a recent GoBankingRates.com survey found. According to the survey, one-fifth of Americans do not have a savings account, and nearly two-thirds have no more than $1,000 saved.

Those who have money saved, however, have much more than $1,000 – ten times more, per the survey’s findings. Perhaps attributable to age, seniors, or those aged 65 and older, are most likely to have $10,000 or more saved. Millennials, or those aged 18 to 24, are most likely to have less than $1,000 saved.

Interestingly, Gen Xers, or those aged 35 to 54, are most likely to have a savings account balance of $0.

“It’s troubling how many Americans aren’t thinking about long-term planning or retirement, with little to nothing stashed away in a savings account,” says Casey Bond, editor-in-chief of GOBankingRates. “Saving money is an uphill battle for many, but there are a number of simple ways people can consistently grow their nest egg over time, such as automating their savings. Even a small contribution is better than nothing at all."

Source: GOBankingRates.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Understanding Your Flood Risk

October 8, 2015 2:01 am

As a homeowner or renter, understanding your flood risk is essential. Generally speaking, water that comes from the top down is covered by homeowners or renters insurance; water that comes from the bottom up is covered separately by flood insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“Many consumers don’t understand what type of water damage is covered by standard home insurance, nor do they understand the various types of flood policies available to them,” says Jeanne M. Salvatore, chief communications officer for the I.I.I.

Water from the bottom up, such as overflow from a nearby lake, river or stream, is typically not covered by homeowners or renters insurance. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a few private insurance companies. Policies from the federal government have a 30-day waiting period before the coverage is activated. Excess flood insurance is also available from some private insurers if additional coverage is needed above and beyond the basic policy.

Remember: it only takes a few inches of water to cause tens of thousands of dollars in property damage. Don’t hesitate to contact your insurance professional to ask questions. Doing so will help you make informed decisions about your coverage.

You may also consider conducting a home inventory to document your belongings. Taking stock of your possessions will help you purchase the right amount of insurance, makes filing a claim easier and can be used to document losses when filing tax returns or applying for financial assistance after a disaster.

Source: I.I.I.

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7 Things to Know about Title Insurance

October 8, 2015 2:01 am

Many factors play a role in the process of purchasing a home – none understood less than title insurance. Put simply, title insurance protects your investment from title issues that may arise after buying or refinancing a home, such as lost, forged or incorrectly filed deeds or liens on a property, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

To gain a clearer understanding of title insurance, take a look at the facts recently shared by the NAIC:

• Lenders typically require title insurance; however, you are not required to use their recommended title company or agent. Keep in mind that by federal law, affiliated (referral-based) relationships must be disclosed to you in writing.

• Title insurance can be purchased from a licensed title insurance company or agent. Attorneys may also have the authority to sell title insurance, depending on their jurisdiction.

• When comparison shopping, inquire about services and fees, both included in the title premium and not. Be sure to ask about discounts.

• When selecting a policy, take time to assess your options. As stated above, your lender will likely require a lender’s policy for the amount of the loan, which protects the lender from title issues that may occur after buying the home. Though you may have to pay the policy premium, coverage will decrease as the mortgage is paid off.

• Though you are not required to buy one, an owner’s policy for the full price of the home (and potential legal costs) protects you if title issues emerge after purchasing the home. Coverage will remain as long as you own an interest in the home.

• Depending on your area, you may also have the option to purchase an enhanced owner’s policy, which covers approximately 20 percent more than a standard owner’s policy.

• Policy endorsements may be available to you, as well. An endorsement, which you may or may not have to pay for, covers a specific issue, such as a mechanic’s liens.

Source: NAIC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Steps to Keep Your Car in Tip-Top Shape

October 7, 2015 1:55 am

Taking a proactive approach to preventative vehicular maintenance helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs. Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the non-profit Car Care Council recommends 10 basic procedures to keep your vehicle operating at its best:

1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

2. Check the hoses and belts
to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.

3. Check the battery
and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.

4. Check the brake system
annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.

5. Inspect the exhaust system
for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.

6. Check engine performance
to make sure it is delivering the best balance of power and fuel economy and producing the lowest level of emissions.

7. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.

8. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.

9. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

10. Check the wipers and lighting
so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly. Replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

Source: Car Care Council

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The Top Remodeler-Approved Design Trends

October 7, 2015 1:55 am

As professionals with a presence in both the design industry and with the homeowner, builders and remodelers are privy to the trends that truly resonate with consumers. And a recent study has revealed exactly what those trends are.

According to the study, conducted by Schlage®, an Allegion™ brand, nearly half of builders and remodelers cited an interior design update as the most common reason for undertaking a renovation. Minor kitchen and bath remodels, fixture and hardware updates were also reported popular.

When builders and remodelers were asked to rank the design styles they’d most likely recommend to homeowners, traditional design ranked highest. Contemporary, eclectic and rustic designs followed, respectively.

When asked which elements have the most design impact, more than half of builders and remodelers noted paint colors, followed by light fixtures.

Much like homeowners, builders and remodelers reported deriving design inspiration from catalogues and magazines.

Source: Schlage®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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