• How to Stay Energy Efficient in Your New Home

    by Ryan Cox | Mar 01, 2015
    Are you hoping to improve the energy efficiency in your new home? Getting a fresh start in more ways than one can be a great way to drive home the notion of new beginnings—while your old home may have been a notorious energy hog (or even just a reminder of bad habits), getting the jump on efficient energy practices in your new place will provide a great way to start off on the right foot and save yourself thousands of dollars in the years to come.

    Below, you’ll find our rundown on all things energy efficient, from summer home cooling tips to the pros and cons of updating your light fixtures. And remember— minor home improvements go a long way over time!

    If your home rests on the newer side of the real estate spectrum, there’s a good chance it may already be host to many of these smart technologies. Oftentimes, however, you’ll find yourself in a home that can stand to benefit from a great deal of minor fixes and upgrades. Knock these out before you’ve fully moved in and save yourself a great deal of hassle!

    Fluorescent Bulbs

    Dropping the dough on a handful of modern fluorescent bulbs to replace your old-school yellow glow bulbs will not only save you a lot on electricity over time, but they generally last many extra years before burning out as well.

    Low-Flow Water Fixtures

    A lesser-known way to improve the energy flow in your home is to install “low-flow” or similar water fixtures that essentially perform the same while using substantially less water. Some report on saving on water by as much as 50 percent!

    Water Heaters

    Newer-model water heaters have come a surprisingly long way in saving on your utilities in a variety of ways. Not only are more up to date heaters able to do more with less heat, but some models even do away with the water tank entirely, saving you a ton on water over time.

    Dishwashers

    Along similar lines, newer model dishwashers have the propensity to be substantially smarter and more efficient when it comes to using your water—a more rigorous washing using less water is win-win.

    Insulation

    A great deal of your home’s heating and cooling efforts may be due in part to insufficient insulation throughout your home causing energy to be squandered. With the right insulation upgrades, your home may require phenomenally less energy to stay hot/cool.

    Thermostat

    A “smart” thermostat has the potential to make just as much of a difference in efficient heating/cooling as your system itself—many newer thermostats have the ability to only run when needed, automatically shut themselves off when the house is unoccupied, and more.

    Double-Pane Windows

    Although a technology of some contention, there’s no argument that newer double-paned window models insulate much more efficiently than their older single-pane counterparts. If you have the money to spare, these window upgrades can save you a great deal of energy hassle over time.
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  • Brooklyn vs. Manhattan

    by Patrick Redmond | Feb 25, 2015

    New YorkHiring a moving company and heading to NYC to try your luck in the city that never sleeps is a dream come true for many people. After all, this is a place where life happens in a big way—and there are over 8.4 million people living within the city boundaries to prove it. However, what you’ll experience when you get here depends on where you’re living. Because New York is made up of five distinct boroughs, there are essentially five different towns to choose from.

    Which is the best of those five boroughs? Well, that depends on who you ask…but for most people, it all boils down to a fight between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

    > Who Needs a Backyard: One aspect of New York living everyone can agree on—space is limited. Apartments come in at around $1,363 per square foot, and outdoor living space is a joke. Unless, of course, you live in Brooklyn. Although you aren’t going to find a spacious, rolling lawn, you will find private patches of greenery you can call your own. If you have kids or want to spend more time entertaining at home, this can make Brooklyn highly appealing.

    > Life is an Island: There are people who live and die by the idea that everything they want from life can be found on the island of Manhattan—and they aren’t wrong. With just 22.7 square miles of space, Manhattan isn’t the largest of the NYC boroughs, but it’s by far the most active. If you want a faster pace of life where everything you need is within walking distance, Manhattan is ideal.

    > Commutes Mean Almost Nothing: One aspect that puts potential residents off Brooklyn is the lengthy commute into Manhattan. However, most people will tell you that the commute from Brooklyn is actually shorter than a cross-Manhattan trek, making this a moot point.

    > Tourists Don’t Flock to Brooklyn: New York is filled with a mixture of people from all over the world, many of whom live there, many of whom are visiting as tourists. For residents, tourists can be off-putting, since they don’t follow many of the “rules” of sidewalk transit and NYC culture. Since Brooklyn is hardly a tourist mecca of the same caliber, residents find it much more restful on weekends and during high-traffic vacation times.

    > Your Age Matters: It’s impossible to break New York living down into age demographics, but for the most part, Manhattan appeals more to young, childless professionals who want to take advantage of the opportunities and nightlife. Brooklyn is better suited for families, retirees, and those who might not be up to going out seven nights a week.

    One thing you probably won’t have to choose between is the cost of living in Brooklyn versus Manhattan. Although home prices are a little lower in Brooklyn, the relative price of everything (from groceries and transportation to entertainment) tends to be fairly similar. In the debate of Brooklyn versus Manhattan, it usually all boils down to lifestyle.
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  • Spring Home Improvement Projects

    by Ryan Cox | Feb 23, 2015
    Putting your best foot forward after a long and dreary winter season often means you’ll need to kick the warmer weather off with a round or two of extreme spring cleaning. While not everyone is the biggest fan of the rush of chores that come with the blooming blossoms, most will agree that the sunnier season is a great time to spruce up your pad—but should you go above and beyond the conventional Swiffer sweep?

    There are a number of home improvement and home maintenance projects that might be perfect for your foray into a rejuvenated and refreshed spring season home. The improved weather can make it a great time to make the rounds on the exterior of your house, inspecting a variety of facets to gain an idea of what might benefit from being improved, remodeled, or even replaced entirely.

    Fixer-Uppers

    Oftentimes, inclement weather throughout the winter months can give rise to an unpredictable level of roof damage—older roofs are notorious for welcoming the spring sun with damaged shingles, deteriorated granules, and more. These problems will only get worse if they’ve begun—hot summer weather has the propensity to exacerbate shingle damage caused by winter storms, so the two seasons working together to destroy your roof are not something that you’ll want to ignore!

    Additionally, be sure to inspect and carefully consider the current state of your patio, especially those that are comprised of older stone or concrete that have the potential to crack—these can crumble over time if you don’t nip them in the bud.

    Outdoor Forays

    Beyond the arena of simple exterior tune-ups, however, you may find it much more rewarding (and interesting) to look into new projects—spring is the perfect time to create a welcoming environment across your deck or patio if you haven’t done so already. Interested in trying your hand at home gardening? There’s no better time to try than spring. Take advantage of the fact that winter’s gone, or you may be cursing yourself in the months to come when the weather starts getting chilly again.

    Spring Cleaning and Beyond

    A lesser-known fact of spring cleaning is that cleaning and remodeling tend to go hand in hand better than lemon and lime—take full advantage of the uprooted state of rooms in the midst of a cleaning overhaul, and run through a review of potential furniture upgrades, simple remodeling “hacks” (such as repainting an older table) and more –the possibilities of giving rooms in your home a facelift are only limited by what you truly want to do with them.
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  • Quick Renovations Before Moving In

    by Ryan Cox | Feb 22, 2015

    So you’ve sealed the deal on your new home—the paperwork is signed, the loans are approved, you’ve got a moving date set in stone, and all that’s left to do is take the leap –or is it? You may be fully ready to move into your new home, but is your new home fully ready for you to move into it?

    It’s highly important for you to be completely certain that all facets of your new home are good to go. While certain quick fixes and renovations can be completed after moving in somewhat easily, you should keep in mind the variety of projects and fixes that would benefit greatly from not being cluttered or complicated by a house full of furniture, boxes and more.

    Flooring

    The biggest no-brainer to take advantage of should be considered first and foremost—is there anything that needs to be done to your new home’s floors before you unload your furniture on top of them? If so, you’ll want to make sure to complete these projects as early as possible, both to give yourself peace of mind, and to prevent any complications that may arise from your movers working in or around any rooms with flooring in the midst of a transitional period.

    This rings especially true if your new home has carpet that you intend to replace with something like hardwood or linoleum. Ripping up carpet while trying to get moved in is a multitasking endeavor that no one truly wants to take on!

    Painting

    Along the same lines as involved flooring projects, any room that you’re certain will need to be painted should be taken on before your move-in date if at all possible—properly painting a room once moved in requires that all the contents of the room in question will need to be moved out, so opting to paint later rather than sooner means that you’ll be saddling yourself with double the effort for the same end result.  

    General Remodeling and More

    Many sections of your house that you expect to need to remodel, including everything from needed bathroom plumbing efforts to kitchen counter installations, should be carefully considered before setting your final move-in date. The bottom line for most will be that they simply won’t benefit from living in and around an active construction zone—this is of particular note for families with young kids, large pets, etc. Anything that can be completed before fully moving into your home, should be completed. You’ll thank yourself for nipping it in the bud!

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  • What to Know About Buying a Second Home

    by Ryan Cox | Feb 21, 2015
    Considering a substantial expansion to your real estate horizons? Interested in expanding, migrating, or even considering long-term vacation or retirement prospects? Whatever your reason, if you’ve found yourself in a position where buying a second home is a viable option, there will be a number of factors for you to consider before taking the plunge.

    One of the most important things to keep in mind when entertaining the idea of a second property is its intended use—are you truly intending to make full use of your new real estate acquisition as a second home, or are you hoping to rent it out, visit it occasionally, etc.? Based on the role that your property will be filling, you will need to plan and expect accordingly.

    Property Value

    As any current (or even former) homeowner can tell you, the ability for a property’s value to appreciate over time will remain paramount in its overall viability as an aspect of your net worth. This can remain true even more so in cases of secondary home purchases, as a home purchase beyond your primary should avoid potential depreciation in order to serve as an economically viable investment.

    Having two or more homes that are depreciating in value over time means that even in a best case scenario, you’ll ultimately be losing money and coming out with less net worth for your troubles at the end of the day. Considering a second home means that you’re in a position to invest, so invest wisely—a property you’ll lose money on most likely won’t be worth your time.

    Upkeep Cost

    Considerations including maintenance and insurance costs can play a larger role than usual in the overall expense of a second home—being away from your second home certainly doesn’t mean that potential problems with wiring, utilities, pests, or other issues won’t arise just as much. If anything, your need for routine maintenance and checkups will be even higher.

    Along the same lines, your need for a variety of insurance protections, from natural disaster to vandalism and theft protection, will remain considerably higher given your notable distance from your owned property. Many go into the purchase of a second home with the expectation that costs such as insurance will remain the same (or even be cheaper), but it’s important to be aware that this is the opposite of true!

    Buying a second home is an investment, and a costly one at that—the most important overall factor in your purchasing decision should be confirming as to whether or not the commitment is truly a good personal fit.
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