Stephen M Marchese
 
Stephen M Marchese

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How Valuable Is a New Front Door?

May 17, 2016 1:28 am

Some home improvement projects are bankable for the seller—some, unfortunately, are a bust.

A new front door, according to ContractorQuotes.us, is one of the projects that can yield a high return on investment. A steel door, specifically, costs an average of $1,230 to install, but may increase the home’s value by $1,252—a 101.8 percent return.

A fiberglass door, too, may boost a home’s value, by over $2,000 ($2,107, to be exact), while costing an average of $2,926—a 72 percent recoup for the seller.

If you’re planning to replace your front door, keep in mind that some doors require maintenance. Be sure to clarify these requirements before purchasing, ContractorQuotes.us advises.

Remember, also, that the least expensive product is not necessarily worth the savings. The front door is likely the first feature buyers will notice when visiting the home.

It may be tempting to select a style you like personally, but, ContractorQuotes.us suggests choosing a style that is reflective of the exterior of the home. Will it complement the style of the rest of the house?

High-tech security features are also worth considering. A recent report by CEPro.com includes front door technology among its top trends for the home, with the doors themselves holding much promise for integrated home technology.

We'll circle back on this trendy front door tech in a future report.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Cleaning: How Often Is Enough?

May 17, 2016 1:28 am

Spring cleaning, for many, is as habitual—and as universally a pain!—as facing those annual income tax returns. We do it, grudgingly, and are rewarded by the clean, uncluttered space we come home to.

What about cleaning the rest of the year? How often is enough?

Turns out, our homes harbor more bacteria than many a public trash can, the Miami Herald reports.

Just how often do we need to clean—and what?

Refrigerators have much more bacteria in them than most realize. Experts say salad drawers alone contain 750 times what’s considered a “safe” level of bacteria. Make cleaning it a priority!

The microwave may kill bacteria, but heating days-old leftovers can be risky if the walls aren’t splash-free. Once each week, mix half a cup of vinegar with half a cup of water in a heat-safe dish. Microwave on high until the window steams up, then wipe down the interior with a clean cloth or sponge.

Toilets get the bad rap, but a recent study found more infection-causing bacteria in bathtubs. Clean it—along with the toilet—once every week.

Researchers have also found that washing your towel after only three uses removes millions of dead skin cells. Stick to this guideline to ensure cleanliness.

Your bed linens, on the other hand, don’t get as dirty as you think. If you shower in the morning or sleep in the buff, however, make it a point to wash them every one to two weeks.

Mattress and pillow protectors do shield the bed and pillows from dust and grime, but they should still be washed (or even replaced) periodically—every three months is the general rule of thumb.

Don’t neglect your home’s air quality, either. Research shows it can be up to 10 times worse than that of the air outdoors. Have carpets professionally steam-cleaned at least once year, or more often if you own a pet.

Overall, remember: just because you don’t see dirt doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Consistent upkeep throughout the year will keep your home tidy and bacteria at bay.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Study: Home Loan Shopping Takes Backseat to Car Buying

May 16, 2016 1:19 am

House hunters spend a lot of time researching homes—but not many spend time researching home loans.

Recent Zillow survey findings show Americans spend an average of eight hours researching loans, including refinancing, attaining an average of four quotes, versus the average 26 hours spent researching homes themselves.

At nine hours, millennials—likely first-time homebuyers—spend the most time researching loans; baby boomers spend eight hours, and those in Generation X spend seven, according to survey results.

Millennials are more likely to compare mortgage rates than older generations: 85 percent of those included in the survey shopped around for a loan, compared to 75 percent of Generation X shoppers and 55 percent of boomers. They are also more likely to seek out more quotes from lenders—six, on average.

The survey also finds boomers spend the most time researching a home (32 hours) and spend the most time researching major and minor home improvement projects (nine hours and five hours, respectively).

Comparatively, when it comes to researching a car purchase, millennial and Generation X shoppers spend an average of 11 hours, and boomers spend an average of 12 hours—all told, an average three hours less than the average time spent researching a home loan.

For homebuyers and refinancers, it’s important to keep in mind that you may work with the lender of your choosing, though your real estate professional may offer recommendations.

Source: Zillow

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Home on the Market? Tips for a Landscape That Sells

May 16, 2016 1:19 am

Beautifully-appointed outdoor spaces are not just a perk for today’s homebuyers—they’re expected. Landscaping, in particular, can make all the difference in selling price, according to the Appraisal Institute.

Citing two studies, the Institute shares these findings:

• Manicured landscaping can raise a home’s value by as much as 11 percent. (Michigan State University)

• Eighty-five percent of Americans believe landscaping affects the decision to buy a home. (National Association of Landscape Professionals)

While the quality of the lawn is an important consideration, the Institute recommends sellers also give due to flower beds and porches, with an eye for what’s most popular in the neighborhood.

Consider incorporating landscaping that spares the new owner money or time, such as trees or native plantings—features that could potentially increase perceived value, the Institute says. Trees indirectly reduce energy consumption, and native plantings do not require the same scope of care as other species.

Lighting is also important, the Institute advises, because it can enhance a home’s appearance (thereby, perceived value), as well as heighten the safety of the home.

“Just as job seekers shouldn’t show up improperly attired for a job interview, sellers need to ensure their property is as attractive from the outside as possible,” says Appraisal Institute President Scott Robinson. “First impressions matter.”

Source: The Appraisal Institute

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Mortgage Rates This Year Dive to Lowest Point Yet

May 16, 2016 1:19 am

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) has plummeted to its lowest point yet this year, according to Freddie Mac’s most recent report, reaching a three-year low overall at an average of 3.57 percent, with an average 0.5 point.

“Disappointing April employment data once again kept a lid on Treasury yields, which have struggled to stay above 1.8 percent since late March,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti explains. “As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate fell four basis points to 3.57 percent, a new low for 2016 and the lowest mark in three years. Prospective homebuyers will continue to take advantage of a falling rate environment that has seen mortgage rates drop in 14 of the previous 19 weeks.”

The 15-year FRM has also moved down, to an average 2.81 percent with an average 0.5 point. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) has lowered, as well, to an average 2.78 percent with an average 0.5 point.

Source: Freddie Mac

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5 Bucket List Destinations That Won't Break the Bank

May 13, 2016 1:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Cheapflights.com

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"Moving? I'd Rather Do Taxes!"

May 13, 2016 1:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.

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Redoing the Bathroom? 4 In-the-Now Trends

May 13, 2016 1:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

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Money Management 101: 3 Age-Appropriate Stepping Stones

May 12, 2016 1:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: ACCC

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BBQ Month: 5 Fun Facts

May 12, 2016 1:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: HPBA

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