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

My Blog

Simple Ways to Make Your Older Home More Energy Efficient

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

While older homes are full of charm, characteristics and nuances that won’t be found in a newly constructed home, the odds are good that unless there have been some major upgrades over the years, its energy efficiency rating will be nowhere near that of a new home.
 
Still, older homes appeal to many buyers, and it’s easier to incorporate eco-friendly elements into an older home than it is to add charm to a newly built home.
 
If you’re attempting to sell an older home, and want to attract the eco-minded buyer, there are numerous things you can do to make the house more energy efficient.
 
To start, hire someone to come in and conduct an energy audit, or check with your utility company to see if they’re offered for free. During the audit, a professional will analyze the home and recommend a set of measures to improve energy performance, alerting you to areas of the home that are most vulnerable to energy inefficiency.
 
One of the easiest things you can do to increase an older home’s energy efficiency is better insulate the space. Purchasing insulation won’t break the bank, and a novice handyman can most likely handle the job. If you’re interested in going this route, there are plenty of DIY videos on YouTube to help guide you through the process. Be sure to pay attention to attics, crawl spaces, basements, heating and cooling ducts and the area around water pipes, as these spaces are typically lacking when it comes to insulation.
 
It’s also a good idea to cover your water heater with an insulated water heater blanket so the heater retains more heat and consumes less energy to heat the water.
 
Windows are another important area that can’t be overlooked when it comes to making an older home more energy efficient. If installing energy-efficient windows is out of your budget, another alternative is to use interior window Low-E (low-emissivity) films. Energy films block 97 percent of UV rays and 70 percent of thermal infrared light. Not only will this keep heat from getting in during the summer months, it will do wonders when it comes to retaining warmth during the colder months.
 
Ceiling fans are another great alternative for older homes. During the summer months, fans should circulate in a counter-clockwise direction to push cool air down. During the colder winter months, fans should rotate in a clockwise direction to produce a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.
 
As far as upgrading appliances, adding energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers or washers and dryers will ultimately make the home more attractive to prospective buyers, however, it’s up to you and your agent to decide if the money spent updating appliances will lead to a faster sale.
 
And last but not least, if your foundation has cracks or your windows have holes, these should be fixed by a contractor, as repairing these items will help save money on heating and air conditioning bills. If you want to handle the job yourself, seal any areas where you feel air infiltrating your home.
 
To learn more about incorporating energy-efficient features into your home, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hardwood Floors Top Wish Lists When Searching for Dream Home

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

From open floor plans to updated appliances in the kitchen and everything in between, prospective buyers are all over the board when it comes to what they’re looking for in a home. But hardwood floors are one feature that many prospective buyers have at the top of their wish list when searching for their dream home, something that sellers should take note of as they prepare their home for sale.
 
In fact, according to a survey by the National Wood Flooring Association, 82 percent of real estate professionals said that homes with hardwood floors sold faster—and often for more money.
 
Not only are hardwood floors ecologically friendly, many leading health associations agree that they’re the perfect choice for those looking for a healthy home because they don’t collect dust and other allergens. In addition, a recent EPA study found that pesticides used in gardens and homes accumulate on floors and other surfaces in the home, but wood floors greatly reduce the accumulation of such toxins. Hardwood floors don’t trap or harbor dust mites or molds either.
 
Homes with open floor plans stand to benefit from hardwood flooring because it creates the feeling of continuity homeowners are looking for, which will go a long way toward attracting house hunters.
 
Despite the existence of modern architectural trends in flooring, hardwood has come a long way over the years. With more colors, styles and species available than ever before, hardwood flooring can still compete with floor tiles and other artificial materials. 
 
Available in a variety of colors and grains; light, medium or dark shades; and a variety of sizes, styles, finishes and species, the options are endless. While maple, mahogany and oak are the most popular choices today, some homeowners are going the extra mile by investing in exotic species such as Brazilian Cherry and Purpleheart. It’s also important to remember that more traditional hardwood flooring is less expensive, and solid wood flooring can be refinished several times to increase its lifespan.
 
To maintain your hardwood floors, regularly sweep them with a soft-bristle broom or dust mop to remove surface dirt and debris. If your floor contains beveled edges, use a vacuum with a soft bristle brush attachment to remove dirt and debris from between the floorboards.
 
In the end, remember that when someone enters your home, they usually look down before they look up, so that first step is vital for making a great first impression.
 
To learn more about hardwood floors, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Unkempt Gutters Can Be a Costly Mistake When Selling Your Home This Spring

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to get your home in tip-top shape before putting it on the market. In addition to cleaning your home’s interior and sprucing up the landscaping, you’ll want to pay attention to the gutters as well.
 
Depending on where you live, if you’ve experienced a brutal fall and winter—or your property has an abundance of trees—the gutters could use some extra attention.
 
While maintaining your gutters can be messy and time-consuming, the last thing you want is for a potential buyer to cross your house off the list because of unsightly gutters. In fact, leftover leaves may be enough to get prospective buyers thinking about whether or not the property has been properly maintained.
 
Besides, gutters are an important part of the home as they transfer rainwater and runoff from the roof away from the house. If they get clogged, numerous problems can occur. From leaks inside the home to foundations becoming more vulnerable due to an excess amount of water, clogged gutters can also cause driveways and pathways around the home to sag and crack.
 
As the temperatures continue to warm up, it’s also important to remember that unkempt gutters can serve as a nesting home for insects and birds. 
 
If you don’t have the time or inclination to clean the gutters yourself, it’s worth spending a little money to hire a gutter cleaning service. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, make sure your ladder is sturdy and you have someone to help. Once everything is removed, take a hose and rinse the gutters out to make sure everything is running smoothly.
 
While it might not seem like a big deal to you, cleaning your gutters in the spring is a project that should be on every sellers to-do list, so be sure to take action before it’s too late.
 
For more information about cleaning your gutters, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Terminology 101

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

Navigating the home-buying process can be a challenge, for first-timers and seasoned buyers alike. In addition to looking for the perfect home, prospective buyers need to be knowledgeable about the ins and outs associated with choosing a mortgage, beginning with having a general understanding of the terminology involved in mortgage papers.
 
While many borrowers simply seek rates and terms that appear reasonable, it’s important that they understand the type of lender they’re dealing with. 
 
Following are some of the most common terms you’ll come across when going through the process of choosing a lender. 
 
Mortgage Lenders. Lenders are the ones who make the loan and provide the money you’ll use to buy your home. When meeting with lenders, you’ll have to provide a lot of financial background information. The lender will then set the mortgage interest rates and other loan terms accordingly.
 
Mortgage Brokers. Brokers work with multiple lenders to find the loan that’ll offer you the best rate and terms, so when you take out the loan, you’re really borrowing from a lender, not a broker. This is often one of the most confusing parts of the mortgage process for prospective buyers.
 
Mortgage Bankers. Most mortgage lenders are mortgage bankers, which means they don’t lend their own money, but borrow funds at short-term rates from warehouse lenders. Larger mortgage bankers will originate their own loans, which they’ll then sell directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or investors.
 
Portfolio Mortgage Lenders. These lenders originate and fund their own loans, offering more flexibility in loan products because they don’t need to adhere to the guidelines of secondary market buyers. Once these loans are serviced and paid for on time for at least a year, they’re considered “seasoned” and can be sold on the secondary market more easily. 
 
Hard Money Lenders. If you’re having trouble getting a mortgage and working with a portfolio mortgage lender, a hard money lender may be your last resort. These lenders are private individuals with money to lend, though interest rates are often much higher.
 
Wholesale Lenders. Wholesale lenders cater to mortgage brokers for loan origination but offer loans to brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. The result for the borrower? The loan costs about the same as if it were obtained directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.
 
Correspondent Mortgage Lenders. These lenders have agreements in place with one or more wholesale lenders to act as their retail representative so they lend directly to buyers and use wholesaler guidelines to approve and close loans with their own money. They also agree to buy back any loans they close that deviate from wholesaler guidelines. 
 
Direct Mortgage Lenders. A direct mortgage lender is simply a bank or lender that works directly with a homeowner, with no need for a middleman or broker.
 
To learn more about mortgage terms you need to be familiar with, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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In this Edition: Foreclosures

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines the importance of understanding common terms you’ll most likely come across as you make your way through the process of choosing a lender. Other topics covered this month include simple tips for increasing your home’s energy efficiency and how unkempt gutters can cause prospective buyers to walk away. 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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5 Bucket List Destinations That Won't Break the Bank

May 13, 2016 1:13 am

Bucket list destinations around the world have become much more affordable, thanks to low airfares and a strong dollar. Jet off to one of these exotic, now-inexpensive locales, recently named to Cheapflights.com’s “International Destinations That Won’t Break the Bank."

1. Goa, India
Known for its signature fish curry, Goa boasts plenty for explorer types, with scores of beaches, churches, forts and temples in architecturally diverse styles.

2. Kandy, Sri Lanka
The country’s ancient capital, Kandy’s accommodations are relatively inexpensive, and in proximity to sightseer hot spots, including museums, monasteries, temples and Kandy Lake.

3. Lima, Peru
Bargains abound in Peru, and Lima is no exception. From hiking Machu Picchu and sunning at the beach to dining at world-renowned restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Peru’s capital.

4. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is ideal for travelers seeking experiences similar to Beijing or Hong Kong—without the premium price tag. While there, take time to ascend Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest structures—it’s worth it!

5. Wellington, New Zealand
Get the most bang for your buck in Wellington, thanks to current exchange rates. The city features a variety of lodging options, including budget hotels, campgrounds, hostels and motels, and a number of free attractions.

Ready to go? For more destinations from this list, visit Cheapflights.com.

Source: Cheapflights.com

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"Moving? I'd Rather Do Taxes!"

May 13, 2016 1:13 am

That’s the sentiment from approximately one in five respondents to a recent poll, who’d take filing their taxes by hand over moving. Some would even prefer to give up their favorite food for a month!

Still, the trouble of moving isn’t deterring us from doing it—in fact, according to the poll, over one-third of respondents have moved more than once in the last decade. What makes moving less challenging, the poll found, are professional services:

• Approximately two in five respondents have driven a moving truck in the past, and based on that experience, more than half of them would hire someone else to do the driving in the future.

• Thirty-two percent of respondents have hired a mover to pack and/or load their possessions, and 11 percent of (lucky!) respondents report their employer hired a moving company.

What’s more, many respondents would be willing to compromise if it meant a less taxing move: 53 percent would hire a driver, but pack their items themselves, regardless of cost.

Overall, the results of the poll demonstrate moving doesn’t have to be a hassle—especially if you seek help from a professional.

Source: Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Redoing the Bathroom? 4 In-the-Now Trends

May 13, 2016 1:13 am

(Family Features)—Bathrooms may take up the least square footage in the home, but they have the most potential when remodeling—and for these rooms, function and design matter.

To achieve both in your next remodel, consider incorporating these in-the-now trends:

Floating Vanity – Tap into the minimalist movement with a floating vanity, which not only plays up the modern vibe, but also makes cramped bathrooms feel spacious.

Painted Cabinetry – Bold is the new black. For statement-making cabinets, go all out with colorful wood, or temper the trend with a glazed, rich stain—either will give your bathroom a “now” feel.

Simplified Storage – From pull-outs, tilt-ups and roll-outs to hidden outlets, simplified storage is in. Install base pullouts or toe-kick drawers, or a U-shaped sliding shelf that wraps around the sink’s plumbing, to stow your bathroom essentials out of sight.

Sleek Doors – Traditional cabinet doors add bulk. New, streamlined doors, with hidden hinges (called “full overlay”), half-hidden frames (“traditional overlay”) or inset, complement today’s popular contemporary-transitional design.

Whichever trend resonates, consult with a professional bathroom remodeler before undertaking the project—bathrooms are high selling points come resale, and you don’t want to take any chances.

Source: Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Money Management 101: 3 Age-Appropriate Stepping Stones

May 12, 2016 1:13 am

When it comes to money management, the best lessons are taught early.

“Although it can be awkward at times, talking to your kids about money at a young age is extremely important,” explains Steve Trumble, president and CEO of the non-profit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC). “The most vital lessons for children to learn [are] the value of the dollar and the importance of budgeting and saving. By learning these concepts early on, there is a better chance they will have successful financial lives.

Parents interested in teaching their children about personal finance can follow these stepping stones, recently outlined by ACCC:

For Children in Kindergarten – Grade 2 – Communicate the most basic principle: money must be earned. Set up a savings account for the child(ren), and allow them to deposit earnings they’ve accumulated from completing household chores.

For Children in Grade 3 – Grade 6 – Help the child(ren) develop responsible spending habits. Try this exercise: have them make a list of five things they need and five things they want, ranking both lists in order of importance. Show them the estimated cost for each need and want, emphasizing the savings needed to purchase them.

For Children in Grade 7 – Grade 12 – Introduce credit carefully—make it clear that it is not “free” money. To demonstrate, allow the child(ren) to borrow money from you, complete with a limit, repayment terms, and a standard interest rate.

Source: ACCC

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BBQ Month: 5 Fun Facts

May 12, 2016 1:13 am

For many homeowners, May marks the beginning of grilling season—and this year, the barbecue’s hotter than ever! Get fired up for a summer of backyard eats with these fun facts, recently released by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).

Seventy-five percent of adults own a grill or smoker. Sixty-two percent of those with a grill own a gas grill. Ten percent of grill owners have a backyard kitchen.

• The most popular days to barbecue are Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, but 63 percent of grill owners do it all year round!

Seventy-one percent of grill owners use their grills to improve flavor; 54 percent do it for personal enjoyment; 42 percent do it while entertaining family and friends.

• The most popular new accessories grill owners plan to purchase are broiling baskets, cooking planks and pizza stones. Fifty percent of grill owners have basic grilling accessories, like mitts and tongs.

• Barbecuing isn’t strictly for dinnertime meals—11 percent of grill owners have even cooked breakfast on a grill!

Source: HPBA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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