Fri, 21 Oct by realtyexecutivesnw


According to child psychologists, children can experience moving as a type of loss. “A child loses friends, a home, and her early childhood program, the losses often resulting in feelings of sadness and anxiety or even anger,” says professor Marian Marion, Ph.D.

Equipping children with coping skills and teaching them how to manage the stress of moving could help ease their sadness and anxiety, particularly if these lessons are delivered in a relatable form, like a children’s story.

Here are eight children’s books to help your child adjust to moving. Click on each book cover to learn more about each story.

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Moving to a new home is one of the most stress-inducing experiences that a family can face, but turning it into an adventure can help ease some of the tension. What are some strategies that you have used to help adjust to a new home?

How Much Personal Information Do You Need to Reveal When Buying a Home?

Fri, 14 Oct by realtyexecutivesnw


During the home buying process, you’ll be working with a range of professionals, including a real estate agent, loan officer, home inspector, appraiser, and a lawyer or representative from a title company. And while you may need to divulge some very personal information, like your annual income and debt history, not all of these people need to know the intricate details of your life.

However, knowing what kind of information you should be prepared to share at various stages of the home-buying process will eliminate some of the guesswork and stress associated with this major life event. Plus, you can get a head start and begin the documentation gathering process now.

What real estate pros need to know

The typical home-buying experience begins with pre-qualifying for a home loan, during which you’ll be working with a loan officer or mortgage loan originator. Out of all of those professionals, your loan officer will probably require the most information.

Here are some things that a loan officer might require:


Proper documentation helps to provide a complete picture of your financial standings, avoid any errors or confusion and speed up the loan approval process.

Once you’ve been approved and start working with a real estate agent or a buyer’s agent, your agent will simply need to know your budget, what you’re wanting in a home, and any needs as they relate to your lifestyle.

Safeguarding confidential information

Mortgage professionals and real estate agents have strict professional standards when it comes to handling personal information and preserving confidentiality. Mortgage Professionals Canada and the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) both protect information arising from professional relationships with clients, noting that their members cannot divulge this information without the express authorization of said client, or as required by law. Similarly, the Canadian Real Estate Association and the National Association of Realtors promote the privacy rights and interests of consumers, and have specific guidelines around data security and the handling of private information.

If you have any privacy or security concerns, ask your loan officer and real estate agent how they handle confidential information and who in their office has access to it. CEO of NAMB, Don Frommeyer, adds, “It is a good idea to ask your lender how they will handle your personal information and what do they do with it once they have completed your loan.”

Most real estate professionals have formal security policies in place, in addition to having to follow industry standards, ethical codes and the law, but asking about their common practices and security software also should help put your mind at ease.

Precautions that you can take

As a consumer, there are several steps you can take to protect your information, as well. At home, make sure you have a firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware software properly installed and running. Check your wireless network and browser security settings to make sure any networked data is protected.

If you store any private information on your computer or external hard drives, consider encrypting it first. And if you have to share any of this information electronically, be sure to use encryption software before sending it to the recipient (but don’t include the password in the message, send it separately). Note that public networks and Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure, so try to avoid sending or accessing any private information on such networks, unless you have a personal virtual private network (VPN).

Working with trusted professionals with whom you are comfortable lends itself to good communication and a stress-free transaction. Be sure to talk to your loan officer or real estate agent about any privacy concerns or questions you may have, because not only are they your best resource, they’re also your strongest ally.

The Homeowner’s Guide to Home Insurance

Fri, 30 Sep by realtyexecutivesnw


With so many insurance companies vying for your business, it can be difficult to feel confident with any one provider. Doing your research and getting quotes from a variety of companies is the best way to ensure that you not only pay reasonable rates but are adequately covered in the event of a loss.

What does home insurance cover?

A good coverage option will include most or all of the following:

  • Dwelling coverage —this will help pay to repair or rebuild essential systems of your home, such as plumbing and electric.
  • Liability insurance — if you or a family member are responsible for injuring another person or damaging someone’s property, or if an accident occurs on your property, this helps protect your assets and cover the costs that come with any lawsuit or litigation.
  • Other structures — covers the cost of repairing structures on your property that are not directly attached to your house, like a garage or a shed.
  • Personal property coverage — protects items like your clothing, furniture and other types of personal property, if damaged or destroyed.
  • Loss of use — if you need to temporarily find alternate housing while your house is being worked on after a loss, this will help you pay for housing and living expenses during that time.

Factors that influence home insurance

The most common factors that can affect your premium are:

  • The age of your home
  • Your location
  • Risk factors such as certain dog breeds or a swimming pool on site
  • Your claims history
  • Credit score
  • The deductible tier you choose
  • Coverage amount you select

What home insurance doesn’t cover

Consider situations that are unlikely to be covered by any insurance company and can leave you paying a lot more than you originally bargained for:

  • Flooding — homeowner’s insurance policies don’t offer coverage for damage caused by weather-related flooding. If this is something you’re concerned about due to climate and flooding history in your area, look into opting into the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Earthquakes — most states offer special endorsements for earthquakes for an extra fee (the only exception being California).
  • Landslides — similar to earthquake coverage, some companies will offer this protection at an extra cost, but are not legally required to.
  • Wind damage — hurricane-prone areas do not offer coverage from damage caused by strong winds in their basic policies, but fee-based endorsements are available to offset the increased risk. Unfortunately, in the event of a hurricane, having wind damage but not flood damage could leave you liable for the cost from both if the damage is found to be flood-related, so consider the option to invest in both carefully.
  • Maintenance neglect, including:
    • Burst pipes
    • Sewer backups
    • Molding
    • Termites
  • Certain dog breeds — dogs that are typically aggressive could prevent you from being covered at all. Make sure to discuss your dogs with your insurance company.

Homeowners Insurance Discounts

The best providers offer discounts and incentives for your business. When shopping around for providers, keep the following discount opportunities in mind:

  • Multiple-policy discount: Available if you have an auto, life or other type of insurance policy with the same provider.
  • Protective device discount: Available if you have a home security system, fire alarm or other additional security measure.
  • Claim-free discount: Available if you haven’t filed a claim over a certain period of time.
  • Newly purchased or recently renovated home discount
  • Early shopper discount: Available if you obtain a quote before your current policy with a different provider expires.
  • Insured-to-value discount: Available when you insure up to 100% of the cost to replace your home.

Important things to keep in mind

  • You may be underinsured: Dwelling coverage has limits and when purchasing an insurance policy, most people choose a coverage limit that is equal to the cost of their home. However, in the event of a catastrophe that warrants a rebuild, rebuilding your home could be much more expensive than the original purchase price. When shopping for homeowner’s insurance, opt for coverage that will cover the full cost of a rebuild.
  • Certain valuables, such as heirlooms or expensive jewelry, may need their own separate endorsements. If your personal property coverage does not have a specific dollar amount, consider getting your valuables appraised and tacking on the additional coverage to ensure that you are fully reimbursed.
  • Understand the difference between homeowner’s insurance and a home warranty – home insurance covers damage; home warranties cover mechanical failure. Vital systems in your home, such as HVAC or water heaters are not covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.

When filing a claim

Keep an eye out to ensure that the insurance company you ultimately select as your provider has:

  • Positive user reviews and high scores from reputable agencies like and J.D. Power and Associates
  • A clear, user-friendly website with multiple ways to file a claim (e.g. via phone, online, and in-person)
  • 24-hour support
  • Local or regional offices in the event that you would like to speak with a representative face-to-face

For more information regarding coverage options for secondary homes and rates by state, check out The Simple Dollar’s complete guide to homeowners insurance.

This post was provided by The Simple Dollar, a personal finance blog providing frugality and money management tips, as well as ideas for frugal living with high quality of life.

Remodeling 101: Understanding the Kitchen Work Triangle

Fri, 23 Sep by realtyexecutivesnw


When you’re about to embark on a kitchen remodel, it helps to understand the inner workings of the space, particularly “the kitchen work triangle.” The kitchen triangle is the space between the sink, the range and the refrigerator. By knowing the tips and tricks designers use to enhance the functionality of the kitchen triangle, you can create your ideal kitchen without limiting its visual allure or practicality.

Here are five key concepts to consider when planning your space and keeping the kitchen work triangle top of mind.

1. Lighting



First and foremost, lighting is key to the function and safety of every space in your home, especially in the kitchen. When preparing food, cleaning the floors or finding your way to the fridge for a midnight snack, kitchen lighting is essential to keeping you and your family safe and making sure you’re able to use every square inch of your space.

Lighting can be hidden under cabinets, recessed on the ceiling or come from a fixture that’s a genuine work of art. Make sure lighting above the stove can be easily cleaned and withstand warm temperatures. Your refrigerator should have ample light when opened, but also near the top so that you can see when you’re reaching for the handle at night. Making sure there is light directly above the sink is a great way to ensure safety and visibility when cleaning the dishes or preparing a family meal.

2. Traffic patterns


Starting with a good floor plan ensures that logical pathways between entrances and exits are kept clear. This is especially important in the kitchen, where walkways are generally narrower. Avoid a cramped kitchen by opting for an open concept. It’s the perfect way to make sure the kitchen is an enjoyable space for everyone, from dining and cleaning to cooking to entertaining.

Appropriate space for the kitchen work triangle should be taken into consideration when establishing the floor plan and the space between all of the appliances. Not only does this make the space more usable, but it also becomes more visually appealing.

3. Work surfaces


A well-designed interior should provide adequate work space. In the kitchen, work surfaces nearest to the kitchen triangle are key aspects of the kitchen, as they are often used for food preparation. Some work surfaces are more obvious than others (like countertops and tables) and others may be subtler (like fold-down spaces or tables with extendable leaves). Durable and low-maintenance surfaces make for easy cleanup after family dinners and can prevent more remodeling in the future, if you accidentally set a too-hot pan on the counter or cause any major damage.

4. Storage


With function in mind, a homeowner should make sure to include as many storage spaces as possible, when designing their kitchen. Storage near the sink could look like an extra rack for drying dishes or open-face cabinets to store glasses. When arranging storage near the range, make sure the material of the space is durable and heat resistant. This includes any tables with drawers and storage benches.

5. Streamline


A floor plan maximized for function can appear crowded. While it may make sense to use every inch of your kitchen for a specific function, extra storage space, or usability, doing too much can actually make the space look sloppy and unrefined, and sometimes even unsafe. Add decorative appeal with quality furnishings, flooring and a subtle wall color, while avoiding multiple accessories, extraneous storage containers and excessive wall decor, especially near the kitchen triangle.

With these five tips in mind, any homeowner can create a safe and enjoyable kitchen space with a work triangle that plays well both functionally and fashionably.

This guest post was written by Kerrie Kelly, an expert on design related to the kitchen work triangle and other kitchen design points for homeowners. Kerrie advises homeowners via her California interior design firm, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. Kerrie also writes on decor topics online for The Home Depot.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Room-to-Room Remodeling: Popular Ideas that Will Transform Your Home

Fri, 16 Sep by realtyexecutivesnw


Home remodeling allows homeowners to be creative and show off their design aesthetic. Give your home a one-of-a-kind appeal by building your ideas around these popular remodeling trends and ideas:

1. Living Room

The way you design and plan your living room can make a huge difference in the presentation of your home because the living room is usually the default space for hospitality. Although most remodeling projects in the living room focus on windows, flooring and creating a focal point, current trends favor a modern and contemporary flair.

For example, digital fireplaces and gas-fed flame fireplaces are showing up in many living rooms because of their attention-catching ambiance. As design expert Brian Patrick Flynn explains, “Fireplaces provide far more than heat and a cozy place to curl up. They can fulfill architectural roles and become artistic accouterments.”

Homeowners are also investing in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and other built-in projects to promote a spacious, streamlined impression.

2. Kitchen


Because the kitchen is usually a busy place for food preparation, functionality and convenience are the two key considerations behind every remodeling project. Aside from smart and accessible appliances replacing traditional appliances, kitchen drawers and cabinets will be maximized for storage purposes.

“Smart homeowners are utilizing every inch of space when it comes to their kitchen cabinets. Don’t neglect the space above your cabinets, below your cabinets, between your cabinets or in those tight corners,” according to ImproveNet’s Jacob Hurwith.


Other functionality upgrades include installing a toe-kick drawer under your lower cabinets for personal convenience, adding containers or extra drawers above your upper cabinets for special culinary tools, and integrating a Lazy Susan in your corner cabinet for quick accessibility.

3. Bathroom


Designed to be more like elegant art décor than traditional tiles, three-dimensional tiles add a modern and contemporary flair to your bathroom, making a strong statement.

And for homeowners who are tired of cold tiles in the bathroom, designers suggest installing a heated floor. According to Green Building Specialist Joe LoConte, “an electric mat under the tile floor is the affordable heating method,” and can be accomplished for approximately $1,500.

4. Master bedroom

Finally, upgrading your master bathroom by expanding this space into a luxurious suite is an excellent way to increase the value of your home. According to HGTV, updating your master bathroom not only gives it a fresh look and feel, but it can also it can also bump your return on investment up by 40% to 85%.

Remodeling the room to integrate expanded closets and a reading corner will further improve suite appeal and make the master bedroom more versatile and upscale.

This guest post by Paul Kazlov, a green home remodeling enthusiast and industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for Global Home Improvement and strives to educate people about green products. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulKazlov.

Images courtesy of Encore Group and Myles Burnett/TourFactory.


Sun, 11 Sep by realtyexecutivesnw


When you’re selling your home and your house is on the market, it’s almost inevitable that strangers will enter your house. Even if you don’t host an open house or showing, there may be strangers coming in and out to appraise your home, do renovations, clean the house or perform other necessary jobs related to the sale of your house.

Although the vast majority of these folks will be well-intentioned potential buyers, you have no way of knowing for sure who is and is not targeting homes for sale for all the wrong reasons. The good news is, you can take precautions in order to keep your home and family safe. Here are a few things you can do to protect your home and family:

De-personalize your home

Remove all family photos, diplomas, kid’s drawings and other display items that may inadvertently give away personally identifiable information. For example, while a school photo may seem innocuous, it could give away information like what school your child goes to, what sports they play, or what grade they’re in – all of which can be used by a stranger to potentially track down and approach your child.

Check all of the walls, shelves and display areas of your home to be sure you’ve cleared the house of all such items to help keep your family life private.

According to home staging expert Darlene Parris, depersonalizing your home also allows buyers to “picture themselves making their new home out of your home for sale,” so you’ll be helping to make your home more presentable to potential buyers too.

Speaking of photos, taking pictures of each room before and after showings is also recommended. This should help you quickly identify any out of place or missing items, especially for children’s rooms, since kids may be less likely to notice if things have gone missing. If necessary, they can also be used as evidence for a police report or insurance claim.

Protect your confidential information

Things like prescription medications, checks, or bills and letters that contain confidential information should be locked away or removed from your home completely. Don’t forget to check your trash as well, especially if you don’t shred your bills or take special precautions when it comes to sensitive data.

And be vigilant; monitor all of your accounts for fraudulent activity and consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report. In the United States, this can be done by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus and is free of charge.

“An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit,” according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In Canada, report fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center by calling them toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or by using their online reporting system.

Secure your devices and other valuables

Computer security expert Avi Rubin warns that “anything that has software in it is going to be vulnerable” and can be compromised, so tablets, phones, memory drives with personal data or any electronic devices that are connected to your email and social accounts should be removed from the house completely.

Your smart TV or refrigerator could also make you vulnerable to more tech-savvy criminals.

“Attacks such as those launched by smart TVs and fridges do not at this point threaten people’s lives. However, they do compromise people’s privacy insofar as they reveal information about victims that they might not otherwise want disclosed,” says security journalist David Bisson.

Upgrade the password and login information for all of your devices, and consider installing locator apps on all of them as well.

Other valuables like family heirlooms, jewelry and fur coats should also be locked away in a safe, safety deposit box or other secure location.

Talk to your agent

Ask your real estate agent to walk you through what they do during an open house and go over the details of the safety procedures that they follow. Check to see if they keep a visitor’s log, whether they use a lockbox to store your house key and how often they change the code, etc. Suggest enhancements if you’re unhappy with any of their policies.

“As an industry, we collectively work very hard to promote safety awareness among our members,” says Chris Polychron, president of the National Association of Realtors.

Real estate agents are particularly knowledgeable when it comes to safety and will have your best interests at heart as well, so an honest conversation voicing any concerns will be beneficial to both parties.

In case of emergency

If there is an incident at your home, or you suspect theft or vandalism, call the police immediately. The police should also be able to work together with your real estate agent, using visitor logs and other information gathered during showings.

You can also go online to create an emergency or safety profile to help expedite the information gathering process when you dial 9-1-1. Tools like Smart911 allow you to create profiles with information about your home and family that may be valuable to first responders.

“Even the simplest of details can help our officers during an emergency,” says Sgt. Brent Kock of West Des Moines Police. “From knowing the access points to the home, whether there is a pet we need to be aware of when approaching or entering the home, or just knowing the name of the person in distress can enhance the safety of our citizens and our officers.”

Check with your city or local police department to verify which tools or apps are available in your area. For example, in Toronto the police have an app that allows users to file damage to property reports, amongst other things. Edmonton and Ferguson also have similar apps.

Taking practical steps to eliminate any opportunities for wrongdoing is the best place to start. Work with your real estate agent to establish an action plan, and maintain an open channel of communication so you can alter the plan as needed.

10 Common Deck Defects: Solved

Fri, 12 Aug by realtyexecutivesnw

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Summer is upon us and the outdoor living season is in full bloom. In neighborhoods all across the country, people are using their backyard decks for grilling, sunbathing and entertaining, day and night.

However, it’s important to make sure your deck is safe and structurally sound before using it. Start by conducting an annual visual inspection of the entire deck. You don’t have to be a professional builder or home inspector to spot trouble; you just have to know where to look. Listed below are 10 common defects that can cause a deck to fail.

When inspecting your deck, pay particular attention to these 10 areas. Then, if you find anything suspicious, you can either fix it yourself or hire a professional carpenter. However, if you notice any serious structural problems, cordon off the deck and call a licensed engineer to evaluate the situation and offer a solution.

1. Loose Ledger

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When a deck is attached directly to the house, it’s supported by a long, horizontal, pressure-treated board called a ledger. The end of each floor joist is fastened to the ledger, usually by a metal hanger. Most catastrophic deck collapses occur because the ledger is either badly decayed or not properly fastened to the house.

To prevent water from seeping behind and rotting the ledger, there should be a continuous length of metal flashing running along the ledger. The flashing must extend up behind the house siding and overlap the top edge of the ledger. If the ledger on your deck has no flashing, you must install one, which is a relatively easy job if the decking runs parallel to the house. Simply pry up one or two rows of decking, install the flashing and replace the deck boards. If, however, the decking runs perpendicular to the house, you’ll have to raise every deck board to expose the ledger.

It’s also important to confirm that the ledger is bolted tightly against the house along its entire length. It should be fastened with lag screws or, better yet, carriage bolts. Check to be sure the lags or bolts are fastened into solid house framing, not just plywood sheathing. If your ledger is attached with just nails or decking screws, install half-inch-diameter lag screws or carriage bolts, spaced 16 to 24 inches apart. If the ledger is badly split or cracked, replace it.

2. Cracked Concrete Piers

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Most elevated decks have vertical wood posts that rest on top of concrete piers or extend down into concrete-filled holes. Either way, inspect the condition of the concrete to make sure it hasn’t cracked in half or begun to crumble and disintegrate. You should also measure the diameter of the piers. To provide proper support, each one should be about three times wider than the post.

If you have an on-grade deck that sits close to the ground, it’s probably propped up by concrete blocks, bricks or poured-concrete piers. Take a flashlight and peek beneath the deck to confirm that none of the supports has shifted out of position, cracked or sunk into the ground. If necessary, jack up the deck, install temporary bracing and then replace any damaged supports.

3. Weak Posts

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Elevated decks are typically supported by tall vertical wooden posts. In the past, 4×4 posts were commonly used, but most modern decks are supported with 6x6s, which are much stronger and more dimensionally stable, meaning they’re less likely to bend, twist, warp and split.

Carefully inspect each post to ensure that it’s firmly attached to the concrete pier at the bottom and to the deck frame at the top. Check the base of the post for water damage by poking around with an awl. If the awl sinks deep into the wood or the wood fibers are soft and spongy, then the post is rotting. If a post shows any signs of decay or damage, replace it immediately.

4. Bad Beams

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All but the tiniest decks have large horizontal beams resting on top of the support posts or piers. The beams, in turn, support all the floor joists. Therefore, the structural integrity of the entire deck is dependent upon the condition of the beams.

Check the beams for large cracks and water damage. Confirm that the beams are securely fastened to the tops of the posts or piers. Peer down the length of each beam to be sure it’s not sagging under the weight of the deck. If it is, you’ll need to shore it up by installing one or more supports. If the beams are made of untreated lumber, they must be at least 12 in. above the ground.

5. Faulty Floor Joists

As mentioned earlier, the ledger board and beams support all the floor joists, which are usually spaced 16 in. on center. The ends of the joists often sit in metal joist hangers. Be sure that each hanger is firmly fastened in place with hanger nails, not screws or common nails.

Replace any joist that’s badly cracked or has extensive water or insect damage. Pay particular attention to the ends of the joists, which have a tendency to rot and split. Check for joists that are sagging or badly bowed.

If the joists are cut from untreated lumber, they must be at least 18 in. above the ground.

6. Defective Decking

While composite lumber and PVC (plastic) decking are growing in popularity, a vast majority of decks are still covered with wooden deck boards. Walk back and forth across the deck and inspect each board for signs of rot, insect infestation, water damage, splinters, large cracks and popped fastener heads.

Also, make note of any boards that are badly twisted, cupped or warped. Remove and replace all damaged decking.

7. Rickety Railings

In most municipalities, decks higher than 30 in. above the ground must have a perimeter guardrail. It’s critically important that railings be kept in good, sound condition.

Start by confirming that each railing post is firmly attached to the deck frame and free of large cracks, rot and insect damage. Railing posts should be fastened with lag screws or carriage bolts, not nails or decking screws. If the bottoms of the posts are notched around the rim joist, check to be sure the posts aren’t splitting at the notches.

Each vertical baluster must be securely fastened to the horizontal rails. They must also be in sound condition and spaced no more than four inches apart. The handrail should be free of rough spots and splinters. Sand or plane the handrail, as necessary, to create a smooth surface.

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Measure the height of the guardrail from the decking to the top of the handrail. It should be at least 36 in. high, although some towns require deck railings as high as 42 in. Check with your local building department for the correct railing height in your town.

8. Unsafe Stairs

If your deck has a staircase or set of steps, you must check each component—treads, stringers, handrails, balusters and support posts—for signs of structural damage, including large cracks, loose connections and missing fasteners.

The bottommost step and the bottom ends of the stringers are most susceptible to moisture-related problems, including water damage, rot, bug infestation, mold and mildew. Check the top of the steps or staircase to ensure it hasn’t pulled away or slipped down from the deck frame.

Make sure your handrails are in working order and aren’t coming loose. The building code requires all staircases to have graspable handrails measuring between 1¼ in. and 2¼ in. wide.

9. Busted Bracing

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Most tall decks have diagonal bracing angling up from the support posts to the deck frame. The braces help stabilize the deck and deter it from swaying back and forth. Inspect each brace for large cracks or rot, especially at the ends. Replace all damaged braces. Then, confirm that each brace is securely fastened with lag screws or carriage bolts, not nails or decking screws.

10. Hardware Trouble

Chances are good that your deck was built with some sort of metal hardware item, which helped to speed construction and create strong joints. However, these pieces of hardware can’t do their job if they’re not in sound condition.

If the ends of the floor joists sit in metal joist hangers, inspect each hanger to be sure it’s not rusted or loosely attached. It’s also important that a nail be driven through every mounting hole in the hanger. If you see any open holes, drive in a hanger nail, not a common nail.

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Metal post anchors are often used to secure the bottom end of a support post to a concrete pier. Confirm that the anchors are free of rust and in firm contact with both the pier and post.

Metal straps or hangers are often used to reinforce the connection between the top of a staircase and the deck frame. Carefully inspect the hardware to be sure it hasn’t ripped, rusted or pulled loose.

By conducting an annual deck inspection and making all necessary repairs as soon as possible, you can rest assured that your deck is safe for family and friends all summer long.

This guest post was written by Joseph Truini, a home-improvement expert who provides advice about all types of DIY projects, including how to fix your deck. To find wood decking boards and other materials that you may need for deck repairs, visit The Home Depot.

6 Renovations That Can Add Value to Your Home

Fri, 05 Aug by realtyexecutivesnw

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A lot of people get excited at the idea of a home renovation. They have grand ideas of how they want their home to look. But one thing to keep in mind is how those ideas will affect your home’s value once it comes time to sell after a tenure of nine years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

It’s important that you do some research before committing to any home renovation project. A good place to start is with a cost versus value report. The report is based on information gathered from real estate agents and RemodelMAX, an online remodelers estimator tool. It will will help you outline the average cost, resale value, and cost recouped for a number of home renovation projects, providing both national and regional estimates. City estimates are also available, but you have to register to access these reports.

To help you determine what renovation projects could add value to your home, here are seven renovations that are worth considering:

1. Bathroom

When renovating a bathroom there is no need to go overboard with a complete overhaul. In fact, according to Remodeling’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report simple low-cost renovations on average yield a 10% higher return on investment compared to upscale renovations. Instead, consider adding new light fixtures and some paint to revitalise your bathroom.

2. Kitchen

According to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 53% of real estate professionals believe that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms to prepare before putting your home on the market, so this isn’t a room that you want to ignore. However, the national average for a minor kitchen renovation is likely to set you back $20,122 with a resale value of $16,716. Since you’re only likely to recoup 80% of the cost, be sure to consider minor repairs and a gentle spruce up before undertaking any major kitchen renovations.

3. Income Suite

One of the most direct ways of adding value to a home is to have an income suite. Whether you have a beautifully finished basement or an attic/apartment living space, having the option for a tenant (or even just a guest room), will no doubt boost your value.

4. Make A Good First Impression

First impressions count and they also generate a higher return on investment. Entry and garage door improvements feature near the top of the Cost vs. Value rankings, so if your entrance way looks a little dated this may be a good place to start.

5. Energy Efficient Windows

The real estate world continues to go green, so the more energy efficient your home is, the better. Energy Star claims that adding Energy Star-rated windows can save you up to $500 a year. If your windows look like they’re from the 1970s, it could turn off potential buyers.

6. Energy Efficient Insulation

Attic insulation has the highest return on investment of any project listed on the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, with a 116.9% return on investment. If your attic lacks proper insulation, the average cost of installation is estimated at $1,268 with a resale value of $1,482.

Do some research before making any major renovations and you’ll be more likely to make decisions that will pay off when it comes time to sell.

This guest post was written by Sara Luckman of CityBlast. The team at CityBlast helps over 10,000 agents and brokers with their social media marketing, keeping their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn up-to-date and professional.


Sun, 17 Jul by realtyexecutivesnw

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Your home is on the market and ready to sell – it could be snapped up any day now, but you have a vacation coming up or would like to take a trip out of town. So what do you do?

Consult your real estate agent

“Communication is at the center of real estate,” insists Todd Mobraten, former president and CEO of USRES Inc. and its subsidiary, RES.NET Inc.

Good communication between you and your real estate agent is key. Be upfront and tell your agent that you’re planning a vacation, well in advance. Your agent can tell you your options and help you develop a plan for how to handle any queries or issues in your absence.

Check in with your loan officer, lawyer, home stager, photographer, handyman, escrow officers and any other real estate professionals that you’re working with. They need to be looped in case they have to jump in to help while you’re away. Let everyone know that they may receive a call from you or your real estate agent.

If you have not already done so, give your agent the contact information of all the players on your home-selling team. In the interest of home safety, ask that all parties involved keep your trip confidential, to lessen your home’s vulnerability as a target for burglars.

Develop a plan of action

Once everyone on your home-selling team is on the same page, make sure you’re aware of what is expected of you, so you have a game plan for handling anything that comes up and know what you can manage remotely. Some things can be coordinated over the phone, via email or using signature software and other tools, but for those that can’t, make sure you have a proxy or a clear set of instructions for your real estate professional.

Your plan should also include check-ins and status updates, as well as expected response times to prevent a communication breakdown.

“The real estate transaction centers on the negotiation. It is during the offer negotiation process that communicating accurately and in a timely manner is absolutely paramount,” adds Mobraten.

Prepare your home

Before you leave, make sure your home is set to make a great first impression. Staging your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be effective, and goes a long way to keep a prospective buyer interested versus turning them off immediately. Ensure your home is clean, and don’t neglect the exterior. Your yard should be extra tidy and well-maintained too. Even if you normally DIY, you may need to schedule landscaping services if your vacation will be a lengthy one.

Same goes for the inside; consider hiring a cleaning service, even if you just have them come by right before you leave for vacation or just before any open houses your agent may have planned while you are away.

Owner of Accent Maid Service, Inc. Cheri Forslund says, “Using a cleaning service regularly while your home is on the market will pay off. But if you are on a tight budget use a cleaning service just for your open houses.”

And if you have pets, placing them in a pet hotel so your real estate professional and housekeeper won’t have to worry about them when entering your house may be a good idea.

Don’t forget about security

Call your security provider to let them know you’ll be out of town. Ask about off-site monitoring, video surveillance and patrols. Your provider should also have some tips on how to make it look like your home is occupied, such as the use of timed lights, and other suggestions on how best to secure your home while you’re away.

“Burglars often target unoccupied homes. Therefore, whether you’re gone for two weeks or two months, it’s important to make it seem like you never left,” Jeff Bates, CEO of Vector Security.

Piled up mail is a sure sign that there’s no one home, so be sure to have someone collect it for you or have the post office hold it until you get back.

For showings, give your real estate agent a separate alarm code for the house and ask that a list of visitors is maintained so you know who enters your home at all times. Also, ask your agent to ensure all windows and doors are locked before leaving the home.

Final thoughts

Check your homeowner’s insurance to make sure it’s up-to-date and your coverage is comprehensive and includes personal liability coverage.

“Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home and your personal property, as well as your personal legal responsibility (or liability) for injuries to others or their property while they’re on your property,” according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

In the off-chance that there is damage to your property or somebody has an accident while you’re away, you want to make sure that you’ll be covered.

This is a great opportunity for your real estate agent to schedule multiple showings because with you out of town, your house will be like a model home. Keeping this in mind, you can relax and enjoy your vacation knowing that you’ve left your home in the care of competent professionals who have your best interests at heart.


Sat, 09 Jul by realtyexecutivesnw

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Approximately 17 to 20 million people are expected to move this summer, and according to U-Haul, the majority of Americans move between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“People feel more comfortable with the idea of moving house during these three to four months because of the favorable weather conditions, the summer holidays, and various other seasonal factors that seem to promise a safe, comfortable, and efficient relocation,” says relocation professional Ethan Greenfield.

If you’re planning on relocating your family during peak moving season, start planning as early as possible in order to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

Here are some tips to help make your move stress-free:

Have a moving checklist

Your moving checklist should cover all aspects of the move, from filling out a USPS change of address and notifying all relevant parties of your move, to unpacking and organizing your home on arrival. Break your tasks down into manageable phases starting several weeks out.

Once you’ve covered all of the necessary detail, create a version of this list for every member of your household. You can create a printable coloring checklists for young ones and have them color in each item in lieu of checking it off the list, and create a digital task list for your teens using an app like Moving Planner.

Help your kids pack

Depending on the ages of your children, they may be able to help you — or even independently pack up their own rooms. Determine what they can handle and give them some age-appropriate tasks. Make packing fun by turning it into a game or offering them rewards as they complete their assigned tasks. Apps like Chore Wars that gamify chores will help you keep track of everyone’s progress.

For little ones, Bright Horizons Family Solutions® suggests letting children pack and label one box of their favorite things that they can look forward to opening upon arrival at their new home.

U-Pack moving expert Brittney Lee also suggests packing some surprises for your kids. “Sneak a few surprises into your kid’s moving boxes. In their clothing box, leave a new shirt for their first day of school. Or add a new toy to the toy box. These fun surprises will make unpacking much more enjoyable!”

Get professional help

If you’re planning on managing the move yourself, consider enlisting the services of movers, cleaners, and baby and pet sitters, especially for moving day. Although they may try to sell you on their full services, keep in mind that you can typically customize packages to fit your needs. If you don’t need help packing, just hire movers to collect and deliver your belongings.

Don’t be afraid to ask about deals and discounts. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, movers are required by law to observe the 110 percent rule, so they have to deliver your possessions for “no more than 10% above the price of a nonbinding estimate.” Shop around for the best deal for you and then be sure to negotiate based on what you can afford. The FMCSA also suggest protecting yourself by being aware of your rights and responsibilities when moving.

Pro Tip: If you don’t plan on hiring a cleaner, don’t pack your cleaning supplies.

Have a moving day plan

“Moving day is one of those tasks we all want to get done with as fast as possible, [so] it’s best to have a solid, uncomplicated plan to make moving day as easy as it can be,” says real estate and finance expert Craig Donofrio.

Make a list of everything that needs to get done on the day of your move, including who is responsible for what tasks. Don’t forget to incorporate time for breaks, meals and refreshments into your plan. Building buffer time into your schedule will also help you stay on track in case any last minute tasks or issues pop up.

If you’re donating any clothing or household items, today is also a good day to schedule pickups. Organizations like Donation Town (in the U.S and Canada) and Pick Up My Donation (just in the U.S.) allow you to look up nearby non-profits and schedule a pickup online.

And don’t forget to designate a safe spot for any items that you plan to travel with. Make sure that the movers know you’ll be handling them yourself.

“Have your essentials with you – [keep] in mind that your shipment may be delayed considerably during the peak moving season. You may have to survive for a week or so in your new home without your belongings, so make sure all your valuables and essentials travel with you,” adds Greenfield.

What about the kids?

Keeping your children safe and busy on moving day will be a priority. Consider enrolling them in a summer program or daycare for the day, or hiring a sitter to watch them while you’re working with the movers and checking things off your to-do list. Scheduling a farewell playdate with their friends, having friends or family watch them, or even asking your neighbor to watch them while the movers are at the house are also viable options.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Grande Prairie Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.