Your Essential Spring Lawn Care Guide

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Tired of looking out the window at your dull, dormant lawn? A little prep now will give you a green lawn all summer long.

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Rake
First things first, gently rake leaves, twigs, and dead grass off your lawn, and remove snow mold if you live in colder climates. This allows air and sunlight to reach down to the grass roots. Avoid power-raking, as hacking away at the ground can damage shallow grasses and good soil.

Weed
Weeds like dandelions, hairy bittercress, common chickweed, and henbit go dormant in winter and re-emerge in the spring. For best results, pull as many weeds as possible by hand or use a hoe. Be sure to get the entire plant, roots and all. If you use a pre-emergent weed killer, make sure it’s a calm day. Wind can spread the chemicals onto plants you don’t want to kill and into waterways you don’t want to pollute.

Aerate
Aerating — making small holes in your soil — lets air, water and nutrients reach the roots of your lawn, encouraging healthy growth. On newer lawns (1-3 years old), aeration is encouraged twice a year, in the spring and fall. After that, you can switch to once a year in the spring. Don’t rake the plugs; leave them on the lawn as topsoil. Mow over them, and they will decompose naturally.

Overseed
Overseeding is the practice of spreading grass seed over your existing lawn. Cover bare and thinning patches of grass using a mix of seed that includes slow-growing and low-growing grasses — fine fescue or centipede grass, for example. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass and annual ryegrass benefit the most from overseeding.

Water
Watering early in the morning prevents wasteful water evaporation and lets the grass blades dry before evening, which helps prevent insect and disease issues. Watering deeply and less frequently makes the roots stronger and deeper. Soil should be moistened to a depth of 6 inches a couple of times a week. Avoid overwatering, as soggy roots will rot and attract disease and insects. As a test, take an 8-inch screwdriver and push it into the lawn. If it goes in easily, your lawn is moist enough.

Fertilize
Fertilizer helps keep your lawn healthy, so it can resist disease and weeds. Grass often needs more nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than the soil naturally provides. Use fertilizer before the heat of summer but avoid fertilizing when the ground is wet, or you risk fertilizer burn.

Mow
When the grass is growing well, it’s time to mow. The proper mowing height will depend on your type of grass, but for good lawn health, follow the “one-third” rule: Never cut off more than one-third of the length of the grass. Mow more often when growth is peaking and back off when grass growth slows. It’s also best to “grasscycle” by leaving the grass clippings on the lawn. They return moisture and nutrients to the soil, so you’ll need less fertilizer.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

How to Redecorate Your Space

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Photo by Huseyn Kamaladdin 

Interested in refreshing your home? Want a different vibe? Can’t afford a decorator, but completely lacking in decorating skill yourself?

Good news! Even with all those constraints, you can still pull together a fabulous room. You’ve been in homes you like, so you already know what you like when you see it. You can use that natural ability to your advantage.

3 Places to Get Inspiration

Here are three places to start.

  1. Start with an inspiration room. Look through magazines or websites like Houzz, Studio McGee, or Apartment Therapy. Find a room that perfectly reflects what you like. Then study that room. Understand what they’re doing that you love. Then look around your own space and translate that into your space. Don’t sweat about how you’ll do it yet. Just focus on what would be different to make it work. Later you can figure out the project management bits, like budget and steps in the process.
  2. Start with an item you love that reflects your style. Maybe you absolutely LOVE the multi-colored ceramic frog you bought on a trip to Mexico. Or you bought a blue and white Delftware cookie jar on vacation in The Netherlands, or an ornate Louie the Fourteenth reproduction clock. To design around an object, identify three main colors, as well as the general style of the object. For instance, the Louis the Fourteenth clock has gold and white color, and is an ornate style. Now Google “gold, white, ornate room inspiration.” Then see #1 above.
  3. Start with a store or shop that reflects your style, like Ikea, Crate and Barrel, Target, Pottery Barn, or Bouclair. Go there and ask the workers for advice about how to decorate your home. Take photos. Purchase a few items that can act as the color and style guidelines for your room.

How to Use Your Inspiration

Once you’ve selected a style and color scheme, sit in your space and rethink it. How would you translate your inspiration room to your own space? What is currently in your space that doesn’t reflect the style you want? What could you switch out to better match your style?

For instance, suppose I selected the picture above as my inspiration. That wall color is a perfect mossy green that makes me feel like I’m in a forest. The gray couch is similar to what I already have, but I can substitute different pillows. I like a little more going on in the pillows, so I can pick up the same tone of green, but add more design. I love the gray coffee table and want something like that. I also like the minimalist frames of the photos and can reframe some of my existing photos.

Sometimes you won’t have any existing furniture or décor that fits the style you want, and you’ll need to start from scratch. Sometimes you’ll already have a few things you can keep. And sometimes, you like everything you have and you just need to move it around and add a different paint color or additional décor.

Create a Project Plan

A project plan can be a simple list of things to do and buy. The order of redecorating is fairly linear.

  1. Start with deciding your design and budget. After spending mental time with your inspirations, get practical. Decide which pieces of furniture you’ll keep and what else you’ll want to buy. Add the cost of paint and other supplies. Then create a budget so you’ll know how much you can spend on décor and furniture.
  2. Next, remove your existing furniture.
  3. Then paint. If you need to do any wiring or other construction, do it now.
  4. Next, move stuff back in. Start with the furniture you want to keep. Move it around to different spots before settling on one place. Then add the existing décor you want to keep.
  5. Buy and add the additional new furniture and décor you want (see below).

Buy What Else You Need

Main pieces: Some items carry more weight than others. For instance, lamps and light fixtures can set a tone or style. If you don’t already have lamps that fit the style you want, put them on your buy list. Curtains or window coverings are another highly visible décor item. Finally, end tables or coffee tables or other “main” pieces of furniture can affect the feeling of your space. If you plan to buy second hand furniture, you’ll have a better sense of what to look for.

Décor pieces: Once you have the main items in place, you’ll want to add the fun stuff. If you started with that colorful Mexican pottery frog, now you’ll want to look for other pottery, as well as other Mexican décor items. Or if you started with a blue and white Delft cookie jar, now you’ll want to find more Delft pieces, or use blue frames on your photos with white matting. Your inspiration rooms will give you more ideas about décor items.

A Few Décor “Tricks”

Mirrors: If you lack natural light and can’t add a skylight or window, then consider using mirrors. For instance, we had a living room with just one outside window. The light lit the opposite wall, but didn’t do enough to light the whole room. A floor to ceiling mirror on the window wall and the opposite wall really lit the room!

Height: Don’t be afraid to fill up your wall with a painting or photo wall. Put your curtains up higher above the window. Use very tall lamps. Use layers of height, small, medium, tall.

Groupings: Put a group of photos together with similar or even identical frames. Put a group of décor items together, like several different heights of vases or a group of masks you got on vacation.

Wallpaper: While wallpaper can be overdone, a little can go a long way. If your design idea suits wallpaper, don’t be afraid to use it as an accent.

Wood: If you plan to make wood a dominate feature of your décor, you can often use different styles of furniture as long as the wood is a similar tone. For instance, you might be able to use an ornately carved chair next to a Danish modern coffee table if the woods look similar. Alternatively, you can often use different wood tones if you keep the shapes similar.

Conclusion

You don’t need to decorate all at once! You can start by deciding what one or two things would begin changing things. Maybe your wall color. Maybe a new couch or rug. Maybe a feature wall. Then go from there. For more ideas, Google “Easy Décor Tips.”

Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

April Is Fair Housing Month, Focus Is on Harassment

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Saturday, April 11, marks the Fair Housing Act’s 52nd anniversary. Now, more than ever, it’s time to reflect why “we the people” must advance together as one nation.

In April, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) observes Fair Housing Month. The theme for the 2020 commemoration is Call HUD: Because Sexual Harassment in Housing is Illegal.

HUD says that theme serves a dual purpose: First, it’s a public awareness campaign that urges sexual harassment victims to “Call HUD” for help. Second, it reflects the Department’s continuing efforts to combat this and other forms of discrimination.

A detailed look at the Fair Housing Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act, including legal information on “testers” and 55-plus communities.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) joins HUD every April in commemorating Fair Housing Month, though the COVID-19 pandemic puts an unusual spin on it for 2020.

“Why think about fair housing in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis?” NAR asks in a release.

“Now, more than ever, is precisely the time to reflect on why the people of this country must advance together, as one nation. We cannot defeat coronavirus without foregoing our individual preferences and putting the health of the community first. And when the best public health advice is to stay in our homes, we are all at risk when the vulnerable among us confront the prospect of losing the roof over their heads.”

Many Americans lost jobs as the pandemic grew, notably those in the low-wage and service industries. In many cases, they have nothing to fall back on.

“Many face increased threats of evictions or foreclosures,” NAR says. “Some face xenophobic threats or violence. Many must take on increased unpaid caregiving work and have difficulty accessing necessary services. As community leaders, Realtors must ensure that we ease these burdens and move forward together.”

HUD says this year’s specific theme “focuses on protecting individuals from harassment by property owners, managers, maintenance workers or other residents, and helps to educate the public about what behaviors and actions constitute sexual harassment and what resources HUD offers to those that experience harassment.”

“This theme, which is a call to action, is an appeal to those who experience discrimination, particularly survivors of sexual harassment, to contact HUD for help,” says HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Much work remains to be done, but HUD’s efforts in this area are already producing real results for real people.”

“Even as the nation is dealing with a health crisis unlike any we have experienced in recent history, HUD is open for business and working to ensure that no one has to tolerate harassment or unwanted sexual advances in the place they call home,” adds HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Anna María Farías.

This year, throughout the month of April, the “Humans of HUD” photoblog will feature stories from victims of sexual harassment in housing, highlighting the personal testimonies of survivors and those who helped them. FHEO will also be promoting its popular “Real People. Real Results.” (RPRR) series, which highlights the fair housing efforts of extraordinary people around the country. Every week in April, HUD will feature a fair housing hero who combats sexual harassment and other forms of harassment in housing.

Every year, HUD and its fair housing partner organizations pursue enforcement actions, work to enhance the public’s awareness of their housing rights and emphasize the importance of ending housing discrimination. Last year, the Department charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act by encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination through the company’s advertising platform. Overall in 2019, HUD and its partner agencies settled more than 600 complaints alleging discrimination based on one or more of the Fair Housing Act’s seven protected classes.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Realtors are community leaders who work to expand homeownership, build thriving neighborhoods, and uphold the highest ethical standards, NAR says, urging Realtors to continue to be those kinds of leaders in April and beyond.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®

Top tips for House Hunting online

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Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your end all be all. Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.

  1. Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale. Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter.
  2. Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But, often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms.
  3. See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, call up your real estate agent and schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. Your real estate agent will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.

Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction. We have an app to make you your home search efficient & simple!!

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com


The difference between Home Warranty & Home Insurance

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When purchasing a new home, it’s important to do in-depth research on all facets of the homebuying process. One thing you’ll need to understand is how to best protect yourself and your investment if anything were to go wrong. Check out the information on home insurance versus home warranty below to educate yourself on your options.

Home Insurance

Homeowners insurance pays for any accidental damages and loss that are caused by fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, however, damage from earthquakes and floods is typically not covered. It also covers the replacement of personal property in case of theft or damage and liability if a person were to get injured in your home or on your property. According to American Home Shield, the average annual cost of a homeowner’s insurance policy ranges between $300 and $1,000 and the bank usually asks you to obtain a policy before the mortgage is issued. Make sure to keep in mind that each type of coverage in the policy is subject to a limit and, in most cases, you will have to pay a deductible.

Home Warranty

A home warranty is designed to cover the cost of repairs and replacements of larger appliances and crucial systems in your home that may fail or break due to age and wear and tear. This includes but isn’t limited to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing components, kitchen appliances, and your washer and dryer. With a home warranty, you are required to pay premiums year-round, even if you do not use it, and it won’t cover damages if appliances were not maintained properly or if the damage is from a fire or other disaster.

Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

New Homeowner? Avoid these lawn care mistakes

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It’s easy to take a few missteps when it comes to lawn care, especially if you’re a new homeowner and it’s your first time being solely responsible for your yard and landscaping. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid lawn-related frustrations.

Cutting the grass short. Lowering the height of your mower blades may give you a few extra days between each mowing, but it’s bad for your grass in the long run. Don’t go any shorter than 2.5 inches, or your grass could be starved for sunlight.

Watch where your dog urinates. Finally out of an apartment and ready to let the dog into the back yard when it’s time to go? You might regret it. Your pets’ urine can kill your plants and grass. Try to train your dog to go in one spot, preferably in stone or gravel.

Be careful with fertilizer. Fertilizing your lawn isn’t as simple as picking up any bag at a local store. Choosing the wrong fertilizer, using too much, or ignoring the instructions is a recipe for disaster. Do plenty of research or ask a professional if you need help choosing.

Give your plants room to breathe. The nutrients in soil are a finite resource, and your plants and shrubs also need their fair share of water and sunlight. If you plant your shrubs, trees, and flowers too close together, they’ll have to compete for those resources and may become malnourished. Pay attention to the planting recommendations for each plant to make sure that they have the proper space to thrive.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Be a better landlord

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Rental properties are one of the best ways to earn passive income and build wealth, but “passive” is a little misleading—it can still be a substantial amount of work. However, with a little planning and dedication, you can run your properties efficiently while also keeping your tenants happy.

Treat it like a business
Successful businesses have plans and procedures that keep things running smoothly, and the same should be true for renting and managing your properties. That means committing to customer service, outsourcing work appropriately, and paying close attention to income and expenses. Don’t just assume that you’ll collect a check each month and everything else will be a breeze.

Thoroughly vet your tenants
Collecting applications, interviewing tenants, and checking references means a lot of legwork up front, but it’s worth it in the long run. Choosing the right tenant could mean going years without incident—no late payments, no legal issues, and no property damage. Choosing the wrong tenant could mean monthly calls and visits to collect late rent, expensive property damage and repairs, eviction processes, court dates, and a whole lot of stress.

Make sure your lease is rock solid
Lease agreement laws vary from state to state, so don’t cut corners—find a lawyer who specializes in lease agreements. You’ll be glad you were thorough if you ever have legal issues with a tenant.

Are you ready to purchase an investment property? We can help! Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

How can you refinance your Home Renovation?

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Outdated kitchen. Overrun backyard. Unusable basement space. If you have a home renovation project on the mind, the first thing you have to consider is how you are going to finance it. Here are the most common options to make your dreams become a reality.

Cash. Paying in cash is the most straightforward financing option, just save until you have enough money to cover the expenses. This will help eliminate spending outside your budget; however, it can also extend your timeline.

Mortgage Refinance. If you’ve been making payments on your home for a few years and your interest rate is higher than current market rates, you may be eligible for a mortgage refinance, reducing your payments and freeing up some money.

Cash-Out Refinance. You can tap into your home equity and borrow up to 80 percent of your home’s value to pay off your current mortgage plus take out more cash to cover the renovations. This option is encouraged only when you’re making improvements that will increase the value of your home, as it can add a lot of interest and fees.

Home Equity. Getting a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your home. You receive usually up to 80 percent of your home’s value, minus the amount of your loan.

Retirement Funds. Homeowners can consider pulling money from a 401K or IRA account, even though they aren’t specifically meant to cover a home renovation. This option might incur additional penalties or tax payments, but may be worth it when making improvements that will benefit them financially in the long run.

Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com


Home appraisal 101

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Your Guide to the Home Appraisal

You’ve found your dream home and now it’s time to cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s before it’s all your own. And one of the first items on your closing checklist the home appraisal. So, what exactly is that?

The home appraisal is essentially a value assessment of the home and property. It is conducted by a certified third party and is used to determine whether the home is priced appropriately.

During a home appraisal, the appraiser conducts a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. He or she factors in a variety of things, including the home’s floor plan functionality, condition, location, school district, fixtures, lot size, and more. An upward adjustment is generally made if the home has a deck, a view, or a large yard. The appraiser will also compare the home to several similar homes that were sold within the last six months in the area.

The final report must include a street map showing the property and the ones’ compared, photographs of the interior and exterior, an explanation on how the square footage was calculated, market sales data, public land records, and more.

After it is complete, the lender uses the information found to ensure that the property is worth the amount they are investing. This is a safe-guard for the lender as the home acts as collateral for the mortgage. If the buyer defaults on the mortgage and goes into foreclosure, the lender generally sells the home to recover the money borrowed.

Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS.

Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com


Townhouse vs. Condo, which should you buy?

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Photo by Sam Johnson 

Whether it’s your first time buying or you just want to purchase something smaller, townhouses and condos are both great options. Check out the differences between the two to help aid you in your search!

Condominiums

Condominiums are similar to apartments in that you purchase an individual unit inside of a larger building, but not the property it sits on. This generally includes access to the building’s amenities, such as the clubhouse, pool, and gym. However, condo owners are not responsible for the upkeep and repair of these common areas. Because of the number of shared spaces, living in a condo often allows for meeting new people and building a strong sense of community. There is a fairly similar vetting process for loan approval as for a full-sized home; however, the lender will also look at the health of the condo association.

Townhouses

Those who purchase a townhome are generally purchasing the complete unit, both inside and out, including the land it sits on. This might also include the driveway, yard, or roof. Traditionally, these units are two- or three-stories tall and may also include common areas like pools and parks. Townhome owners pay a fee to a homeowners association every month and the loan process is the same as buying a full-sized home.

Which is the best choice?

Both townhomes and condos offer less maintenance than a traditional home and generally offer great shared areas. Your decision ultimately comes down to you and your family’s needs and wants. Things you’ll want to take into consideration include location, lifestyle, family growth, and price.

Give us a call today; we are happy to lead you in the right direction.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com