Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

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Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features.

Whether it’s as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!

Create a pathway.

To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color.

Add a wall or border.

Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard.

Install a water feature.

Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard. You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond.

Light your way.

An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye, or highlight objects or plants.

Plant upwards.

Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and get to planting.

Source: Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

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An Increasing Surge of Wire Scams & Frauds Across the Real Estate Industry: How can you Protect yourself?

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The lucrative nature of real estate investments and transactions makes them vulnerable to the risk of fraud, robbery, phishing and cybercrimes. As opposed to bank robberies and burglaries, wire net frauds and cyber robberies don’t have a limit to the amount of money that can be looted. 

Wire fraud in the real estate industry appears to be the fastest growing amongst all cybercrimes prevalent across the US. In 2017, the authorities reported losses more than $1.4 billion while complaints were registered by 301,580 individuals and firms. Moreover, statistics reveal that more than 9,600 investors and renters were looted of $56 million in the real estate industry last year. 

So, how does a real estate fraud actually occur? 

Basically, the fraudsters and crooks conduct fake real estate transactions by adopting the identity of a real estate agent from a reputable firm or someone related to the agent handling the purchase. The fraudsters forge the identity, email and other important details to create a highly authentic and credible image that can be easily trusted by the buyer or organization. After posing as a credible agent, they scam the buyers with fallacious emails and instructions of wire to a bank account, which belongs to the fraudster. 

Earlier in June, the federal authorities have launched a coordinated law enforcement initiative, WireWire, to take down all BEC schemes that attempt to intercept and hijack wire transfers. In a short period of 6 months, this effort has managed to make 74 arrests, and recovered $14 million from fraudulent wire transfers. However, the risk of being a victim is still looming high above the buyer’s head. 

How can you protect yourself? 

Reports from the FBI reveal that business email scams and compromises have accumulated loss of over $12 billion and the numbers keep growing with every passing day. It is a common practice for fraudsters to hack the buyer’s email account and monitor all the correspondence taking between the buyers and real estate agents. 

The scammers wait until the two parties head towards the transaction, and at the very last moment, they contact the buyer with fake emails to make it appear like the agent is using a different account to ask for a money to be wired to another account. Fraudsters can also hack the email accounts of real estate agents and professionals. So basically, not only your money and your investment are at stake, but more importantly, your personal identity and your personal/financial information linked with your email account are also at risk. 

These wire transfers amount up to a great deal of money, and personal identities and information are also valuable for such scammers. It is important for buyers and real estate agents to adopt a more secure way to communicate and conduct business transactions. Most important, email accounts should be password protected. It is also important to make sure you verify all emails that ask you to wire funds or pay any kind of amount. Be sure to verify all the details and sudden changes by contact your real estate firm or agent on a verified number. 

Have any questions or are you ready to start your new home search in 2019?  Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Why You Need to Make Home Buying Your New Year’s Resolution

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Losing weight, starting an exercise plan, or giving up on smoking are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions for a vast majority of individuals. But have you ever thought that buying a home should be in your New Year’s plan? Let’s face it, you have been dreaming about moving into your own home for such a long time. You even have plans for the kitchen cabinets and a backyard where your kids can play with your dog. But somehow you have not been able to convert your dreams into reality. It is finally the time to stop postponing your decision and start the home buying process….welcome to 2019!

 

Buying a home is a great New Year’s resolution

If you have been living in a rented place for a long time, isn’t it the right time to stop making the bank account of your landlord happy? It’s time to treat your family to a place that it can truly call its own!

 

Benefits of home ownership should spur you into action

There are so many benefits of buying a home that it would take a full article to describe each one of them. But just the fact that you can have your own home with the same (or less) monthly payment that you are now paying as rent should be reason enough to spur you into action. You would need money to put forward in the form of down payment but this money helps in building equity into your home.

 

Mortgage rates are going up and so are the prices of properties. Waiting any longer will only make it that much more difficult for you to buy a home. If you make home buying as a New Year’s resolution, the first step is to contact The Hanley Home Team to help you create an achievable action plan. Give us a call and let’s make it a GREAT 2019 together – www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479 Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty

Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

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The best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

 

Source: Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

By Brooke Nally

If you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of REALTORS® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

The Best Holiday Gift – A New House!

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By Stacey King, REALTOR

Summer is the time to sell your home, right?

You might think that from the stories out there. But the reality is that buyers are always looking for homes. You just need to find the right buyer.

During the summer, homes that are for sale usually see a significantly higher amount of traffic versus their fall and winter counterparts. Some buyers looking in the summer have the philosophy that if they find the “perfect” house and can move in before school starts, they’ll move. If they don’t, they won’t. There’s not a big sense of urgency. That leads to passive buyers flooding open houses, requesting showings and not submitting offers.

The fall is a different story.

After a small traditional dip at the beginning of September, things in the real estate industry pick up in time for fall. While there are fewer “lookey loos” checking things out but not making offers, the buyers who are looking are serious.
There are plenty of things to do during the weeks leading up to Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays. A buyer who is taking time to look for homes is doing it for a reason — because they need to buy a home. Now.

For a seller, this is a winning combination. The buyers looking at your home are serious and ready to make offers, and there are fewer “passive” buyers walking through and taking a peek at your home when they’re not pressed to purchase a home. This means a reduced inconvenience for sellers accommodating showings, and more (often stronger) offers.

Is now the time to sell your home? Call the Hanley Home Team and we’ll walk you through it! http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479 Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside

7 Ways Downsizing Saves You Money

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Downsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom:

1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of 3,500. Controlling the climate in empty spare bedrooms is pointless when you don’t need the room. What’s more, you can count on fewer houseguests with less space, and this, in turn, can decrease utility costs.

2. Maintenance costs. How big is that lawn? How many rooms need to be refreshed with a coat of paint? How many windows do you need to wash, and what about the size of that driveway that must be repaired and sealed?

3. Insurance. Your insurance bill is based in large part on your appraisal, and if your new home is smaller, your insurance bill should shrink as well. (This can vary based on location and levels of coverage, of course, but you would be hard pressed to insure less for more!)

4. Property taxes. Much like insurance, tax rates tend to be based on a percentage of assessed value. Here’s a few more dollars back into your wallet.

5. Repairs. How many toilets do you need to have fixed? Appliances? Light fixtures to keep lit? The smaller home has fewer leaking faucets and a smaller roof to replace. Your overall spend on maintenance goes down when you have less home to maintain.

6. Furniture. Downsizing is a perfect opportunity to sell excess furniture and find keep only those pieces well-loved or essential for your new smaller space.

7. Hosting and entertaining. When you’ve got that spra

wling home, your place is ground zero for out-of-town guests, relatives, and holiday parties. As your space shrinks, so does your annual hosting and entertaining budget. Besides, if you really want to throw a shin-dig, you can take some of that downsizing cash and pick a perfect venue.

Looking to downsize and redirect that extra cash? Get in touch: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

What is Absorption Rate and Why Is Important to the Sale of Your Home?

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Interest rates are going up and should again this December and likely 3 more times next year. Absorption rate directly affects the pricing of your home.  Get in touch and we can let you know the absorption rate of your zip code and even your neighborhood.  What is absorption rate?  Find out here: What is absorption rate?

Back-To-School Organization

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Back-to-School OrganizationWith school starting, it’s time to do a little reorganizing to make early mornings and after-school activities run smoothly. When starting school after moving to a new home, consider some of the additional challenges your children face and plan accordingly. Implement changes to the household gradually so that your kids adjust before that big first day!

Bedtime

Over the summer, kids typically wake later in the morning and fall asleep later in the evening. To ease the adjustment, begin walking back the bedtime hours until you reach the optimum time at least a few days before the start of school. To help in the transition, install blackout curtains in bedrooms and avoid blue light from television, computer, tablet and phone screens.

Breakfast and Lunch

Stock your refrigerator with quick, nutritious options for breakfast and to-go lunches. Choose health-conscious options that your kids like and have them help you pack their lunch the night before school.

Clothing

If your children wear uniforms, having several options so that you don’t have to launder them at night during the week is helpful. Have children pick out their clothes the night before. Create a special space in their closets just for school clothes so you can tell at a glance if you need to replenish their wardrobe before the weekend.

Shoes

Creating a shoe station at the door saves time on hunting for that lost shoe and keeps wet, dirty or muddy prints from tracking through the house. Consider a separate shoe cubby for each child and hang hooks above each cubby for jackets and backpacks. If your child plays sports, create a separate cubby for uniforms, equipment and sports shoes.

After-School Snacks

Set up an afterschool snack station in a basket or decorative bin on your counter and a specific shelf in your refrigerator for juice, sports drinks and veggies or fruit.

Homework

Create a homework station. For younger children, a specific space off the kitchen or living area keeps supplies and assignments contained and organized. Set up organizer boxes for each child to place assignments and set a calendar and bulletin board above the station to keep track of due dates, after-school activities and special events.

Older kids benefit from having a desk or study area in their rooms or a quieter office space, but a calendar on the outside of the door lets you keep track of their schedule while offering them some privacy.

Preparing For the Big Day

Starting a new school in a new neighborhood requires advance preparation. If your child walks to school, take the time to go over several routes to and from school. Learn where crossing guards assist on busy streets and where sidewalks offer safety as they walk to and from school. Locate bike lanes and the safest biking routes from your home. Locate bus stops and learn the correct bus numbers.

If you’re looking for a home in a specific school district or need information about your neighborhood schools, please give us a call!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS 904-515-2479 The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside.

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The PERFECT Summer Yard Sale

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We’ve been helping families get their homes ready for sale this summer and yard sales have been big on everyone’s to-do list.

Even if you’re not moving, yard sales can be a fun summer activity. They give you a chance to clean out storage spaces, socialize with people, and put a few dollars back in your pocket. (It’s also a safe place for kids to run a lemonade stand… one of those great summer traditions!)

While helping our clients plan their yard sales, we came across this super website for planning yard sales. Just in case you’re kicking around the idea, it’s been handy for others:

http://www.yardsalequeen.com

Have a perfect yard sale and if you are hosting a yard sale to get your home ready to sell, please get in touch – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Summertime…and the Grilling’s Easy

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BBQThe good weather’s on its way. Let’s fire it up!

Whether you’re a die-hard charcoal fan, or more of a Hank Hill “taste the meat not the heat” propane griller, we hope you enjoy these tips and recipes. One of the great joys of owning your own home is making a space for a little outdoor cooking. It can be hard to grill on an apartment balcony!

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (http://www.hpba.org/) recently shared these interesting facts for National Barbecue Month. You can see why grilling is so popular!

81% of Americans report that at least one aspect of grilling outside is easier than cooking indoors. The most convenient parts are cited as cleanup (49%) followed by the cooking process itself (40%).

The majority of adults (58%) agree that cooking out is more fun and relaxing than dining out and beneficial for avoiding travel (58%), dress codes (57%) and crowds (56%).

70% of Americans say cooking out gets them in a healthier routine, specifically by encouraging time spent outdoors instead of cooped up in the house. Outdoor cooking also encourages adults to make smarter food choices such as eating fresh rather than frozen foods (54% agreed) and cooking healthier food on the grill overall (40% agreed).

(Source: http://www.hpba.org/consumers/barbecue/national-barbecue-month-2011-summertime-and-the-grilln-is-easy)

Get your tongs, spatulas, brushes, rubs, marinades, and skewers ready. Grilling doesn’t always have to be about meat. If it grows, you can grill it, and adding garden variety fruits and veggies can transform a BBQ experience. Check out 15 amazing recipes, recently featured on the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market website:

15 Great Seasonal Grilling Recipes:

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/seasonal/4th-of-july-recipes

Also: Don’t neglect to “set the stage” for grilling when selling your home. Dressing the patio for cookouts can get your buyers thinking of the fun summer afternoons ahead.

Invite the neighbors (and your real estate agent!) over and get grilling!

Looking for a patio you can call your own? Time to upgrade from no back yard to a grill-worthy lot? Get in touch with us today! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com