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

My Blog

Post-Storm Electrical Hazards to Watch For

October 12, 2015 12:19 am

In the days following a severe storm, flooding can result in electrical hazards in the home and on the surrounding property. In fact, electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely dangerous if reenergized without property reconditioning or replacement, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Damage to electrical equipment can also result from exposure to flood waters contaminated with chemicals, sewage, oil and other debris.

“As families begin cleaning up after a flood, there are many hidden electrical hazards throughout the home,” says ESFI President Brett Brenner.  “Water and electricity don’t mix, and the dangers associated with submerged electrical equipment can be deadly.”

The ESFI strongly advises homeowners not to use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been examined by a qualified service repair dealer. Certain equipment will require replacement, while a trained professional may be able to recondition other devices.

Electrical items, such as circuit breakers, fuses, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), receptacles, plugs and switches, can malfunction when water and silt get inside. Discard them if they have been submerged.

Keep in mind ocean water and salt spray can be particularly damaging to electrical equipment due to the corrosive and conductive nature of the salt water residue.

When it comes to downed power lines, always assume they are energized. Contact your utility company immediately to report downed lines, and stay at least 10 feet away from the line and anything it may be touching, such as a fence, tree limb or water. Never touch a person or object that is in direct or indirect contact with a downed power line. Instead, call 911 immediately.

Additionally, never attempt to move a downed power line – leave it to the professionals. Do not try to move a downed power line with another object. Even non-conductive materials like wood or cloth that are slightly wet can conduct electricity.

Portable generators can also be dangerous if not used properly. Do not operate a portable generator in your home or in any other enclosed or even-partially enclosed area. Generators can very quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. Make sure that there is at least one battery-operated or battery backup carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Test it before using your generator.

Do not connect generators directly to the household wiring unless an appropriate transfer switch has been installed by a licensed, qualified electrician.  Always turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling.

Source: ESFI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Keep Your Home Sale from Going Down the Drain by Paying Attention to Plumbing Issues

October 9, 2015 10:42 am

From increasing your home’s curb appeal to updating fixtures and appliances, the tasks associated with getting your home in tip-top shape before listing it can seem daunting. While putting your home’s best foot forward is the name of the game, real estate professionals stress that it’s just as important to make sure your plumbing is in good condition before listing.

In today’s competitive market, the last thing you want is for a sale to fall through because you didn’t take the time to fix a simple plumbing issue. In fact, many prospective buyers are taking it upon themselves to check for plumbing issues when viewing homes. That means they’re flushing all the toilets, turning on all the faucets and checking out the showerheads. A more seasoned expert may even look under the cabinet for leaks or check for water spots on the ceiling and in key areas around the tub.

While plumbing renovations aren’t typically necessary, it’s important to take care of any leaks in your plumbing system, as these can be an instant deterrent for buyers. You should also check the plumbing within your home for corrosion or rust. Be sure to thoroughly check any plumbing that’s easily accessible since potential buyers will likely be checking for signs of problems in highly visible areas.

Before allowing prospective buyers into your home, make sure your water pressure is strong and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain within the space. If you locate a difficult stain, you may want to consider hiring a local cleaning company.

When it comes to water damage, it’s important to remember that if you’ve fixed a water issue in the past, the signs may not necessarily be gone. Be sure to take the time to paint any walls or ceiling where there’s evidence of a long-ago problem.

In addition, make sure sinks and tubs are draining easily. If not, invest in a solution designed to unclog these areas, or check the drain yourself for any hair or debris.

Prospective homeowners tend to focus on things where they can use their hands, so make sure the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the washers.

By taking care of these simple plumbing issues ahead of time, you can keep a sale from going down the drain.

To learn more about the importance of keeping your plumbing in tip-top shape, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Simple Tips to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Mortgage

October 9, 2015 10:42 am

Aside from searching for the perfect home for you and your family, obtaining a mortgage that fits your needs can be just as time-consuming a process. Whether you’re a first-timer—or even a seasoned buyer—you shouldn’t simply walk into your local bank and agree to the first mortgage you’re offered. It’s also important that you don’t choose a lender simply because you worked with them in the past. No matter what the market looks like, getting the mortgage that works best for you begins with shopping around and doing your homework.

Before applying for a home loan, take the time to inspect your credit report to make sure the information is correct. While mistakes and outstanding debt can be fixed, the process will take time.

Once your credit report is in good condition, and it’s time to look for a mortgage, you’ll want to compare and contrast various mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, banks and credit unions.

From there, narrow down your choices and take a closer look at your top few offers by examining the numbers more closely. Looking beyond the basics, you need to determine all loan cost information, not just the monthly mortgage payment and annual percentage rate. Check the cost of points in dollar amounts, broker fees, origination fees, underwriting fees, administrative costs, mortgage insurance, yield spread premiums, commissions, escrow and closing costs. Without these numbers, you won’t be able to make a fair comparison.

While most prospective buyers tend to think that a 30-year loan is the way to go, over the years, 15-year loans have continued to gain in popularity. However, in the end, the most important thing is to pick the loan that’s best for you and your family.

In addition to 15- and 30-year loans, prospective buyers can also choose between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. If you’re interested in an adjustable-rate loan, you need to consider more than just the rate at the beginning of the loan period. It’s also important to understand and pay attention to the rules related to when and how often adjustments can occur, limits on what they could cost, as well as the loan’s ceiling rate. This is something that you should discuss closely with your lender.

If you happen to discover a better price with a different lender, but prefer one that you already know, don’t be shy about negotiating the terms, especially if you have a solid credit history. You may be able to lower the points, reduce some fees, eliminate some broker fees or even bring the rate down a small percentage.

Once you find the terms you’re comfortable with, lock it in, in writing, so that things don’t change. The lock-in should include the rate that you have agreed upon, the period the lock-in lasts, the number of points to be paid and a lock on as many other costs and terms as possible.

Finding and obtaining a mortgage may not be the most exciting part of the process, but it’ll set you on the path toward owning your own home, so do all you can to make sure you can live with the terms and payment conditions.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Home Purchase on the Horizon? Keep Red Flags at Bay

October 9, 2015 10:42 am

When it comes time to buy a new home, the last thing you want to do is send up red flags that could ultimately hurt your chances of getting into your dream home. One of the worst mistakes prospective buyers make is purchasing big-ticket items like cars or jewelry in the days or months leading up to a home purchase.

In fact, a good rule of thumb is to avoid making any major purchases (over $1,000) for a good six months before you even begin the house hunting process. This means no lavish vacations or new appliances. Large purchases are never a good thing when banks go to review your financial information, so it’s also important to stay away from buying furniture, even if you’re planning on using it in your new home.

Another common mistake that people make is constantly moving their money around (taking money from one bank account and shifting it to another, be it stock, mutual funds, a 401K or just another bank account). The problem occurs when lenders look at your financial history and see a lot of big withdrawals and deposits that need an explanation. In the end, this could cause a mortgage provider to back away from the deal.

If you’re looking for a home in a new town or state, understand that the process will take time. If you have a steady job, don’t quit with the hope that you’ll find the house of your dreams quickly. More often than not it takes several months to a year to find the perfect home, and the last thing you want is to be in a situation where you don’t have a job when you find the home of your dreams.

Another thing you’ll want to avoid is jumping at the first house you see. Even if the price is right, if the space doesn’t meet all of your requirements, you’ll most likely end up paying for your decision well into the future. Make sure you know well ahead of time what you want in a home and what you’re willing to concede. The last thing you want to do is make a quick decision without giving yourself ample time to look around.

And last but not least, take the time to find a trusted real estate professional to help you through the process. While you may be confident in your ability to handle everything that comes with the process of searching for and purchasing a home, it’s been proven time and again that having an agent by your side will lead to a better deal, a faster turnaround and a smoother process all the way through.

For more information about preparing to buy a home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Game Rooms Sweeten the Deal in Today's Competitive Market

October 9, 2015 10:42 am

If you’re in the process of preparing your home to be listed on the market, adding a game room where friends and family can gather for a little fun is one way to help your home stand out from the competition.

While it’s not necessary to turn your extra bedrooms into game rooms, decking out a basement, family room or study as a room for fun and entertainment could be an enticement among today’s prospective buyers.

No matter what you plan on incorporating into the space—from a pool table to a ping pong table or even foosball—make sure it’s clean and devoid of any junk. You’ll also want to be sure that any gaming equipment is staged to play. Not only will this allow prospective buyers the chance to play around a bit when viewing your home, it’ll also go a long way toward helping them envision entertaining friends and family in the space in the future.

One thing sellers should be wary of, however, is the fact that prospective buyers may expect gaming tables to be included in the sale. Before refusing a buyer’s request, consider the cost of a new table vs. how much it would cost to move the equipment into your new space. In the end, selling your home may be worth the extra money it costs to buy a new table.

If you really want the room to pop, incorporate eye-catching furniture, top-of-the-line gadgets and accessories such as bar stools, overhead lighting and even beanbag chairs into the space. You can also create a fun atmosphere by hanging movie posters or vintage bar signs around the room.

Having a dedicated game room will not only appeal to buyers, it’ll also get the wheels turning when it comes to envisioning the space being used for entertainment among family and friends. And last but not least, a game room could be the thing that puts your home over the top.

To learn more about incorporating a game room into your home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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.


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.


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

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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 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. 


Published with permission from RISMedia.