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

My Blog

Home Improvements for Fall: A Checklist

September 12, 2016 1:27 am


Fall is one of the best times of year to knock out some home improvement projects, especially ones you may have been putting off. Vicki Payne, host of the television program “For Your Home with Vicki Payne,” says fall is also ideal for maintenance before colder temperatures set in.

“With cooler fall weather comes the realization that your home will soon experience [colder] weather,” Payne says. “To get your house ready, start by giving your exterior a thorough review. Everything should be checked, cleaned up and made ready to handle Mother Nature when she comes blowing in within the next few months.”

Payne’s checklist:

Assess the roof. Look for loose or missing shingles, as well as algae, deterioration, mold or splitting. If the roof is in poor shape, consider upgrading to a synthetic roof—the composite product resists elements like fire, high winds and impact. (Hot Product: DaVinci Roofscapes)

Check the doors. The weather stripping should be intact—this helps keep drafty cold air out.

Check the siding and trim. Make sure there are no insect infestations or rotting boards (if wood). Should these items need replacement, consider a low-maintenance alternative like fiber cement siding or PVC trim. (Hot Products: James Hardie, Ply Gem)

Clean the gutters. Remove leaves and debris to avoid back-ups or clogs come winter. Ensure, too, that gutters are securely attached to the home and sloped for proper drainage.

Evaluate the deck. If the deck looks worse for wear, consider replacing it with Western Red Cedar or composite decking—both stand up to the elements. (Hot Product: TAMKO)

Inspect the garage door(s). Make sure it is operating properly and has strong air filtration seals. A replacement may be in order if the door is not functioning or aesthetically outdated. (Hot Product: Haas Door)

Seal the windows. At the very least, ensure the windows have strong weather stripping. Consider installing energy-efficient panes (with the ENERGY STAR® label) to keep heating costs down.

Secure railings. Loose or unstable railings can be dangerous. Check all balusters and handrails for signs of damage. If it is time for a replacement, consider adding cable rails or glass balustrades for a contemporary finish. (Hot Product: Fortress Railing)

Spend time on landscaping. Rake leaves as they fall—remove them and any other underbrush from the property before frost or snow arrive. Re-mulch in areas that need it, and trim back bushes and trees.

“Homeownership means continually maintaining the exterior elements of a house,” says Payne. “With its cooler weather, autumn is the ideal time to evaluate, upgrade and improve those key exterior elements to ensure your home is ready for the winter months ahead.”

Source: For Your Home with Vicki Payne
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Understanding Assets and Their Role in Obtaining a Mortgage in Today's Market

September 9, 2016 11:45 am

When dealing with the prospect of buying a home, assets can be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Not only do assets come into play when determining whether you can afford a loan, they also play a large role in determining whether you’ll be able to get the mortgage you need.
 
Mortgage lenders dissect the entire credit history of a potential client, and assets play a big role in the process since they’re a reflection of a borrower’s fiscal strength. Taking this one step further, a borrower’s ability to save and properly budget could be a significant indicator to their future paying habits. Simply put, when mortgage lenders examine your worth, they look at the amount of money needed for the down payment and closing costs, prepaids such as insurance and taxes, escrow and money that would be available in reserve in case of an emergency.
 
Common assets considered in a mortgage loan application include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401k and retirement accounts, life insurance, cars, boats, antiques, jewelry and other real estate. When an asset is referred to as being “liquid,” it has cash value, or can easily be converted to cash. Liquidity is important in cases of financial emergency.
 
The source of where your assets came from is also important. Anyone who has attempted to get a loan recently knows that restrictions have tightened, and when borrowers are paying off credit cards to get their ratios in line, lenders are asking where that money came from.  
 
Perhaps you took the money from a 401k or your employer gave you a loan against your future salary. While these funds may have helped pay off some debt, they will hurt you in the long run because your finances will be less in the future. Borrowing from relatives doesn’t work either because if you use money or other assets that aren’t included on your income or tax returns, it can’t be used to help you qualify for your loan.
 
In other words, if the money came from a family member, employer or a different account, it could harm the potential of getting a mortgage. Large deposits will raise an underwriter’s eyebrows, leading them to wonder if a borrower took out a loan that has yet to appear on a credit report.
 
Before applying for a mortgage, make sure you take the time to get your assets in order and hold onto any and all documentation should questions arise. If you don’t think your assets are enough for your dream home, you might consider opting for a smaller home or waiting a little longer until everything comes together.
 
To learn more about assets, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Check Your Emotions at the Door to Keep the Selling Process Running Smoothly

September 9, 2016 11:45 am

Selling your home can be an emotional time, and often, sellers let those emotions get the best of them. When it comes time to sell your home, however, it’s important to do everything you can to keep your emotions at bay.
 
Not only can emotions cloud your reasoning, they can misguide you during a very expensive and important business transaction. Sellers sometimes overvalue their homes, adding sentimental value on top of property value. They refuse offers that, while reasonable, don’t add up to the value of their memories.
 
Some sellers might even turn down a potential offer because they find out the new owner wants to add a fence, displace the garden or even knock down the family’s beloved treehouse. But for those going through the home-selling process, it’s important that you don’t let a low offer upset you. And never turn your back on a deal out of spite for what you think the new owner may do to your home. Remember, you’re leaving the home, and what the new owners do with it should be about making memories of their own.
 
If you’re having a hard time checking your emotions at the door at any point throughout the process, be sure to turn to your real estate professional for guidance. Not only are real estate professionals there to lean on when emotions come into play, they are also instrumental when it comes to establishing a fair, unbiased asking price. Better yet, the agent you choose will be by your side until you sign the dotted line, separating you from your emotions in the process.
 
While it’s normal to get emotional as you put your home up for sale, don’t fret over lost memories. Instead, take pictures of your home and put some time aside to create a scrapbook. And last but not least, have fun imagining all the new memories you’ll make when you settle into your new place.
 
For more tips to keep your emotions at bay when selling your home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Proper Staging Key to Attracting Prospective Buyers

September 9, 2016 11:45 am

In today’s competitive real estate market, staging has become a critical piece of the puzzle for sellers who are looking to position their home in the best possible light in order to attract prospective buyers.
 
Not only will a professional stager make sure your home is staged correctly to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers, hiring a stager can also help when it comes to moving your home off the market in a timely manner.
 
While some sellers prefer to take care of staging on their own, this can ultimately work against them since more often than not, they don’t have a true pulse on what those in the housing market are looking for. Not only could this undermine the success of the staging, it could potentially hamper the sale of the home as well.
 
When it comes to staging, the first rule of thumb is to not get too personal. Home staging is meant to create a neutral canvas that will appeal to the majority of buyers. In other words, it’s not the time to bring in your unique style and create a look that appeals to just you. It’s all about de-personalizing the space, creating more of a model home look that will appeal to the masses.
 
Keep in mind that you want potential buyers to picture themselves moving into the home without being influenced by your personal taste. If the color palette or decorating style is too far out, prospective buyers will be put off by the personality of the home, making it difficult for them to visualize themselves and their own belongings in the space.
 
This means taking the time to put away all photos, children’s artwork, trophies and other knickknacks that are meaningful to you and your family. In the end, remember that you want prospective buyers to look at your house, not your personal belongings.
 
One mistake that’s often made when staging a home comes in the form of not taking advantage of the natural light within the space. Blocking off light with heavy curtains or furniture can do more harm than good when it comes to selling your home, especially if the home offers attractive views. 
 
Another common mistake can be as simple as incorporating furniture that’s too big for the space. When it comes to furnishing rooms, make sure the pieces you choose balance with the scale of the entire room—as well as the other furniture in the vicinity. Keep in mind that when selling a home, furniture is used to define the purpose of the room, so in most cases, less is more. 
 
Finally, staging a home is not meant as a way to simply cover up for poor maintenance or structural problems. It’s important to ensure your house is in good condition and use staging to make your house truly shine.
 
To learn more about staging, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Tips to Pare Down Your Belongings before Moving Day Arrives

September 9, 2016 11:45 am

If you recently sold your house and you’re preparing to pack and move to a new space, now’s the time to take stock of everything you have and decide if it’s truly necessary to bring to your new home.
 
Even if you’re moving up to a larger space, you shouldn’t go into the process thinking that you need to fill every nook and cranny. While deciding to get rid of possessions may be overwhelming, taking the time to do it before you move will be worth it in the long-run. 
 
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to go through your stuff and get rid of anything you no longer need, the best and easiest way to accomplish this goal is to hold a garage sale. Not only will this allow you to start getting things out of your house while you’re packing, it’ll also help generate a little money in the process. You can then use this money to buy new stuff for your home—or to help offset the cost of the movers you hired to help with the transition.
 
Anything that doesn’t sell can be donated to Goodwill or given to friends, family or neighbors who may be in need. You can also ask your local theater company whether they’d be interested in any furniture or clothing, as these items are often needed for sets.
 
If you have large pieces of furniture, old patio chairs, a grill that’s outdated or even a pool table that no one uses, consider asking the new buyer whether they want these items included as part of the sale. Not only could these pieces come in handy for new homeowners, it will save you from having to pack and move them to your new home. If the items are no longer needed, post them on craigslist or Freecycle for individuals who are willing to come pick them up.
 
For more tips on clearing out the clutter, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Single Buyers Entering the Housing Market in Full Force

September 9, 2016 11:45 am

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, 15 percent of homebuyers were single women and nine percent were single men. This equates to almost a quarter of all homes being purchased by single people—the largest percentage ever.
 
If you’ve never entertained the idea of marketing your home to a single buyer because it has too many rooms or is located in a neighborhood full of families, you may want to think twice. In fact, selling to a single buyer may be easier than you think because comps in your area are thinking the same thing. By making a few adjustments to the home and/or listing, the single buyer is a segment that sellers can easily appeal to.
 
While the days when unmarried people—especially women—were thought to be giving up on the prospect of marriage if they bought a home on their own are gone, savvy singles understand that real estate is an investment, and more likely than not, they can probably get a price that won’t stop them from enjoying their single lifestyle.
 
Even with millennials flocking to apartments in live/work/play areas, this type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone, causing many to decide that it’s time to leave these apartments behind and find a home of their own.
 
Plus, many single buyers are concentrating on their careers and still envision getting married and having kids at some point in the future. Others may be divorced and looking to start fresh.
 
In her book “Buying a Home When you’re Single,” Donna Albrecht walks readers through all the steps associated with searching for a home, getting pre-qualified, finding an agent and going through the escrow process. 
 
“Before anyone buys a home—single or not—they need to consider what they want their future to look like,” says Albrecht. “If kids are a big hope, buying a studio condo could be a mistake. Going the other route and buying a five-bedroom place may not be the best idea either.”

When you’re single, buying a smaller home with two bedrooms or less has a number of advantages. The lower purchase price will likely net you a mortgage payment that’s lower than rent, and you’ll also save on utilities, maintenance and cleaning costs. In addition, you’ll have fewer rooms to furnish and decorate.
 
And last but not least, a smaller home will be easier to sell when you’re ready to move. Single buyers know that their circumstances may change, so they should be prepared. Making sure the home can be easily sold or rented out is often of utmost importance to this group.
           
With the growing number of single people taking advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and the current housing market, making sure your space appeals to single buyers can make all the difference.
 
To learn more about what you can do to help your home stand out to single buyers, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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In this Edition: Assets

September 9, 2016 11:45 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines the importance of marketing your home to single buyers. Other topics covered this month include simple tips to pare down your possessions as you get ready to move and how staging your home will go a long way toward helping draw in prospective buyers. 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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Is Your Workout Class Working?

September 9, 2016 1:24 am


More of us than ever are signing up for workout classes—and that’s a good thing. But, as the editors at Women’s Health point out, there’s a tendency for beginners to do too much, too soon, instead of gradually building strength. They caution signs of a too-strenuous workout:
 
Your Breathing Is Choppy
In any workout class (especially yoga, where rhythmic cadence is important), you must pay attention to your breath. If it’s getting shorter and shorter, or you start to gasp, slow down until you feel you’re breathing normally.
 
Your Heart Rate Is off the Charts
Monitoring your heart rate throughout your workout is a good way to ensure you’re training without overdoing it. If you’re not monitoring your heart rate, listen to your body—if you’re unable to string words together, or if you feel faint, rein it in.
 
Your Muscles Are Quaking
A little shaking is fine—it can be an indicator of the muscle fatigue your instructor is aiming for—but if you can’t control the quaking, you’ve likely gone too far and could be putting your joints at risk. Reduce your intensity, or rest, before attempting to join in again.
 
Your Technique Is Off
If you’re not performing exercises properly, the class may be too challenging for you—but a good instructor will provide modifications as needed so long as you are continuing to gain strength and endurance.

Fitness classes can support a healthier lifestyle, but don’t hesitate to dial back if these signs crop up in the first few sessions. Exercise to your capacity, and only push your limits when you—and your body—are ready.
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hurricane Mid-Season Reminder: Check In on Insurance

September 9, 2016 1:24 am


Hurricane season presents insurance considerations for homeowners in many areas of the country. Midway through the season is an ideal time to check in with your insurance provider regarding coverage, advises the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“This is the midpoint of the season, and it's vital to remain vigilant,” says Lynne McChristian, a representative for the I.I.I. “If it's been a year since you last talked to your insurance professional about your coverage and options, then have the conversation now while you still have time to make changes.”

According to the I.I.I., many insurers, especially in Florida, will not permit changes to policies once a hurricane warning or watch is in effect. As such, it’s essential to consult with your provider before a storm strikes, if only to confirm you’re covered.

The I.I.I. recommends updating your policy if you’ve made improvements to or remodeled your home, or if you’ve obtained new belongings. Ensure your policy provides coverage not only to rebuild your home in the event of disaster, but also to replace your possessions.

“Ask about additional coverage you should consider,” McChristian says. “For example, does your policy cover sewer backup? If your home is more than five years old, you may also need building ordinance and law coverage, which covers the added costs to rebuild a damaged home up to the improved, latest building codes.”

Updating your home inventory, which is a list of your possessions and their value, can also be beneficial should you need to file a claim. According to the I.I.I., doing this not only hastens the claim process, but also makes filing for federal disaster aid simpler. A free home inventory app is available at KnowYourStuff.org.

Consider flood insurance, as well, the I.I.I. suggests. (More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to those living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones.) Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through a private insurer.

Source: Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Macro Trends in Home Design

September 9, 2016 1:24 am


From health-centric workplaces to socially-connected shops, macro trends inform design in industries across the board. Macro trends in the home, however, have higher staying power.

The macro trends currently shaping the design in our homes are the “country chic/farmhouse,” “glamour/Hollywood regency,” “gold,” “industrial” and “mid-century modern” aesthetics, says Ted Roberts, manager of Industrial Design for Schlage®. Roberts, who ascertains trends through industry events and tradeshows, believes these movements are going nowhere soon.

“While home trends tend to stay relevant longer, with homeowners updating decor about every five years, our team is continually monitoring art and fashion trends to inform home decor,” Roberts says.

The country chic/farmhouse aesthetic, according to Roberts, has evolved from being rooted in dark-toned woods to supporting lighter wood finishes. Often, it overlaps with industrial-style products, such as exposed plumbing and light fixtures. The industrial trend, conversely, has transitioned from an all-encompassing theme to well-appointed accessories, like Edison bulbs and pulleys.

The hallmark of the glamour/Hollywood regency aesthetic, on the other hand, is geometric designs, seen in accent pieces, lighting and small furniture, Roberts explains. The trend has moved from clean, drastic contrast to black-and-gold and softer grays, with Art Deco elements.

The gold component in the glamour/Hollywood regency trend is echoed in the gold and satin brass finishes now standard in new home design, Roberts adds. The patina is now being paired with whites and tans, rather than dark shades.

The mid-century modern take, too, is as popular as ever. The aesthetic’s color palette, which conventionally popped with oranges and yellows, is now brimming with blacks, blues and grays. The trend, Roberts says, is one of the most of-the-moment designs, and will continue to be more so than any other macro trend.

Do these macro trends make an appearance in your home?

Source: Schlage®

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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