- Melissa Kellerman
Buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience without the security of a trusted REALTOR in your corner.
Choose me to be your trusted REALTOR.
I will guide you through every step of this rewarding process with professionalism and dedication. My attention to detail, strong communication and 100% effort will deliver the results you deserve. It is my mission to build lasting relationships and earn repeat referrals. The key to this is providing my clients with personalized service before, during and after every transaction. I am here to help you with all of your real estate needs.
Feel free to call or email me anytime!
Monday, May 30, 2011
1 – Safety first. Follow a few common sense rules in the backyard and around the pool. Keep each child within arm's length at all times, designate an adult as water watcher, ensure that the pool's fence is always locked, and install both gate and pool alarms to alert you to unsupervised pool use.
2 – Use plants to dress up the landscape. A bit of backyard greenery can be both pretty and functional. Use shrubs for form, foliage-heavy plants for color, and sturdy perennials for reliability. Plenty of pretty perennials, such as coneflowers and black-eyed Susans, require little tending and offer cheery blooms throughout the growing season.
3 – Add years to backyard furnishings. If mildew spots appear on outside chairs and tables, wash the fabric according to manufacturer directions and dry in the sun. Then mix together equal parts lemon juice and salt; spread on the stain. Dry in the sun again and rinse thoroughly.
4 – Organize backyard toys and tools. Two simple storage rules for keeping backyard clutter to a minimum: air out wet things by storing them in big mesh bags or open-weave crates; toss all the little bits – sunscreen, dive toys, etc. – into a clear plastic shoe organizer hung on the fence where everyone can easily find them.
5 – Stay healthy with a water workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control, just 21 minutes a day of exercising in a pool can decrease your risk of chronic disease. If swimming laps doesn't excite you, there are other great ways to get moving. Try kickboxing using water as the resistance and enjoy the benefits of strength, endurance and balance. Depending on intensity, a typical water exercise session of 40 to 50 minutes can burn up to 600 calories.
6 – Maintain a perfect pool. A pool filled with cloudy water equals no fun. Fortunately there's a pool-care strategy – Circulation, Filtration, Cleaning, Testing and Chemistry – that equals a stellar pool season. Maintaining a pool, its equipment and beautiful water requires proper water treatment. Make sure to complete the proper water testing and upkeep a regular care schedule for your pool.
7 – Convert an ordinary salt pool into a backyard oasis. Try using a special blend of minerals, pool equipment protectors, water enhancers and pH adjusters that all work to make silky, relaxing water.
8 – Soak in a sensational spa. A backyard spa can offer the same soothing effects as a professional spa with a few easy, affordable ideas. Place flameless LED candles around the edge of the spa. Take tunes into the spa with a floating speaker that connects wirelessly to an MP3 player. Add a soothing scent to the water with single-use aromatherapy packs.
9 – Make a smaller footprint on the Earth. In order to be more environmentally friendly, make sure to always keep pool chemicals properly balanced. Overworked filters and motors waste energy and hike utility bills.
10 – Help pets swim safely. It may seem like fun to let the dog paddle around, but before you let a pooch jump in, make sure he can get out without damaging the pool or hurting himself. Also check with the vet - swimming in a pool should be appropriate for the breed. Finally, make additional time to monitor the pool's water. A typical dog can be the equivalent of about 50 swimmers in the pool, meaning extra vigilance is needed to maintain the chemical balance.
For more information on creating and maintaining a backyard haven, visit http://www.bioguard.com/.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Evaluate the functionality and decorative appeal of your current windows. If you have condensation between glass panes, the windows are hard to open or close, your energy bills are soaring or if there are drafts coming in around the window units, then it’s time to seriously consider replacement windows.
Vinyl framed windows are the category of windows with the highest growth rate in the country. Why? These frames are extremely energy-efficient and some of the best have fusion-welded corners and multi-chambered construction. Plus, maintenance hassles are so low you’ll forget the horrors of rotting frames, scraping and repainting that come with wood windows.
Investigate your window options and stick with a national manufacturer that can stand behind a long-term warranty. Always keep return-on-investment in mind, which may lead you to consider buying ENERGY STAR® qualified windows.
If you have the opportunity to replace your entry door or windows, make sure to finish off the job with stylish window and door trim. Lightweight and easy to install, weather-resistant synthetic moldings, shutters and entryway surrounds are a definite do-it-yourself project for any homeowner.
Take an eagle’s eye look at your home. Most houses have louvers placed high above the attic or garage space to allow ventilation in those areas. And, most houses have wooden louvers that can rot with time. Replacing louvers with insect-resistant and rot-resistant synthetic louvers can improve the home’s appearance and functionality.
Wrap it up. Clement recommends that if you have unsightly porch posts you can easily transform them into showpiece parts of your home by using Column Wrap Kits. The decorative synthetic pieces can be installed in less than 15 minutes around existing structural posts and columns to give an upgraded look to any home.
For more home improvement tips, visit http://www.myfixituplife.com/ or http://www.nari.org/.
Know exactly what you want. What type of home will suit you and your family? Are you looking to buy new or buy an existing home? What style do you want, and how handy are you to fix things up? All of these questions are important to ask yourself. Don't forget to consider commuting time, school districts, price ranges, and recreation and entertainment as well. With a little introspection, you can communicate to your REALTOR exactly what you're looking for and you can save yourself and your agent lots of time. The quicker you declare your wants and needs, the quicker you'll be living in your new home.
Figure out the finances. It's imperative that you know exactly what you can afford. Most lenders claim that you can afford a home priced two or three times your gross income, depending on location. Create an estimated budget beforehand so you can know which homes are within your price range. Also, be sure to meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter. This letter will tell you exactly how much you are eligible to borrow. Waiting until after you've found your "dream home" to do so may turn out to be a devastating mistake.
Determine when you want to spring into action. Having a timelime is a surefire way to achieve your buying goals. If you already own, you'll need to incorporate selling as a factor. If you are building your credit, that may take additional time as well. Although it may be difficult to juggle buying, selling and multiple closings at the same time, a solid game plan will be the key to your success.
Try to remain realistic about your decisions. Refrain from being closed-minded about new possibilities. It's good to be loyal to your wants and expectations, but entertaining some new ideas may help you in the long run. There's no such thing as the "perfect" home, so try not to let "wow"-factors make the decision for you.
Planning for your future is the best way to guarantee that you'll find a home that will make you happy. By thinking long-term and mapping out your buying strategy, you will save time and facilitate the process considerably.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
"As real estate values have fallen, many people are concerned with how much money to put into their homes. Yet, discerning clients recognize that a dated interior really lowers the value of their home," says Donna Hoffman, a Philadelphia-based interior designer.
In fact, homeowners can update their interiors without starting from scratch and without incurring sky-high expenses. To reclaim enjoyment of your home, Hoffman offers five fool proof and fiscally prudent design secrets that are the budget-savvy penicillin for outdated interiors:
Deconstruct the color palette. Don't throw out an existing color palette; deconstruct it. To do this, create a new color strategy that flips the existing main room color into the secondary position of "accent color." For example, if it's a blue and mauve interior that's at issue, turn the blue into the new accent color.
Neutralize the room. Now that you've isolated your new accent color, remove all strong colors in the room except for your one accent. "This includes removing area rugs, throw pillows, accessories, dated wallpapers-anything that sings too loudly in the old color palette," Hoffman says. Keep only the 'new' accent color, letting everything else go neutral. By project's end, you'll be left with an 'accent' color that gorgeously pops amidst a new palette of neutrals. Paint the walls in a rich neutral like latte or one of the new chameleon neutrals of 2011 for a crisp current look.
Elicit the power of throw pillows. "Custom is ideal for variety and impact, but if it's beyond your budget, look for little jewels at retail," Hoffman explains. "Sprinkle mostly neutral accent pillows in varied shapes and sizes through the room to move classic color, create interest and reinvigorate older upholstery."
Evaluate draperies. If draperies boast the old color scheme, look tired or overly sagged and dated, take them down. "Go bare if you must," Hoffman cautions, "because nothing in a room is better than something bad." If you can afford to do custom in the new color strategy, this is the place to invest. "Custom draperies give tremendous aesthetic return on the dollar," Hoffman explains. "But if custom is out, then to go for the best quality you can afford at retail, not the cheapest."
Examine the sofa. Pillows can tone down a loud sofa, but they can't hide a worn eyesore or a thoroughly outdated silhouette. Opt to update a dated sofa, even if at a budget retailer. Select a solid in a classic style, like a Track Arm or English Arm. "These have the staying power of that little black dress. Keep it simple and dress it with accessories. In our case we're doing pillows instead of pearls."
For more information, visit http://www.interiorsbydonnahoffman.com/.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
According to the findings, the top five home improvements that real estate professionals recommend to home sellers based on average cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:
1. Cleaning and de-cluttering - ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
2. Lightening and brightening - ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)
3. Home staging - ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
4. Landscaping - ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
5. Repairing electrical or plumbing - ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)
Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2000), recommended by 99% of real estate professionals, costing less than $300 and returning a value of nearly $2,000 to the home's sale price, or a 586% return on investment.
"Sellers need to prepare their homes for sale before putting them on the market," says Louis Cammarosano, general manager at HomeGain. "Homes that have initial appeal have a better shot at selling faster and closer to the asking price than homes rushed to the market with no improvements."
Rounding out the top 10 low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements include: updating electrical systems and/or plumbing, updating the kitchen and bathrooms, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, and painting the outside of the home.
The home improvement projects with the highest price increases to a home's resale value are updating the kitchen ($1,265 cost / $3,435 price increase), followed by painting the outside of the home ($1,467 cost / $2,222 price increase) and home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase).
For more information, visit http://www.homegain.com/.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Start with the basics--recycle! Don't simply throw items away. Try to think of creative ways to reuse things you no longer need. Look around the house and see if you can repurpose. For example, if you need new pillows, try sewing new pillow covers with some fabric you already have. Take advantage of any way in which you can avoid using your wallet. If you must seek other options, try thrift stores, tag sales or asking around for items you may need. You never know what you may find!
Create your own. Why pay for decorative materials when you can make your own? If you or anyone in your family is artsy, create your own artwork to display on the walls and shelves. Centerpieces are also fairly simple to create using old vases or jars. Fill either with sand, pretty stones or seeds to give your room a unique look.
Repainting goes a long way. One of the cheapest ways to give a room a new appeal is with a fresh coat of paint. Make sure to purchase eco-friendly paint that is non-toxic with low- or no- VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Eco-friendly paint may cost a little more, but by doing the painting yourself, you'll save heaps while reducing your family's carbon footprint.
Be realistic. There's no need to completely redesign your home and spend a lot of money in order to be eco-friendly. Even doing things like replacing your light bulbs with energy-efficient ones can help the environment over the course of the year. By making environmentally-friendly decisions in all of your purchases, you can still be "green," while improving your home.
Start by thinking small. With just a little bit of time and creativity, you can be well on your way to living a greener lifestyle, all while redesigning and brightening your home.
Source: Relocation.com Blog
- Steady employment. It's essential to have a reliable source of income.
- A solid credit score. A bad credit score will increase mortgage interest rates. Potential homeowners should clean up their credit report and ensure that long-term debts are paid before considering homeownership. And when selecting a house, a potential buyer should determine the qualities that best suit his or her situation.
- An affordable price. The total cost of a home should generally be less than 2.5 years' pay. Ensure that the down payment and monthly mortgage payments are manageable.
- Location, location, location. Where a home is located can change its value dramatically. Being in a district with good schools, for example, is important-both for raising the family and for resale value. Also consider what's going on in the community. Are peace and quiet high priorities, for example? Then perhaps a rural or suburban environment would work best. By contrast, if a desire for high culture and a fast lifestyle is a factor, then an urban setting might be preferred.
- Size matters. Is the home big enough, and will it allow for future growth?
Finally, when buying the house ...
- Get some help from the pros. Using a real estate agent and a home inspector is important in selecting a good home and making an appropriate bid.
- Make the right mortgage move. When selecting a mortgage, determine whether it's better to pay additional points: One portion of the interest paid at closing may lead to greater savings down the road. If the plan is to stay around for a while (i.e., more than five years), experts say it's usually better to take the points.
Follow these tips and make your home-owning dream a reality. Buying a home is truly a life milestone, and it can be a big step towards financial security. Finding a good house in a nice neighborhood could be the key to making a home investment pay off.
Summer is the busiest season for movers, with an estimated 37 million Americans making a move. With a growing number of alarm systems protecting homes, it's important to follow these steps to ensure a smooth and safe transition to your new home.
"Have a security professional check the alarm system in your new home to make sure that it is functioning properly," suggests Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of the Electronic Security Association (ESA). "Change the password and codes which may have been shared with workers, movers and real estate agents while the home was for sale. Be sure to replace any batteries in the system, including the backup battery.
Guilbeau recommends knowing the type of protection your new home's system provides. "Are smoke detectors wired to notify a central monitoring station in case of a fire?" he asks. "Are motion detectors correctly positioned to take pets into account? Is there a carbon monoxide detector?"
Does your new community require you to register your alarm system? Some police departments will not respond without a registration number. You can find information about alarm system permits on most police department websites.
Know who is monitoring your alarm. If you decide to use the company currently monitoring the alarm, you will need to contact that company to set up your account and provide passwords and other information so that they can continue the service. You can also check to see if the company offers discounts or special offers for your new home.
Many alarm companies will provide a free security review that will evaluate security issues in your home. ESA offers a list of members who agree to abide by the ESA Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. ESA members have access to training, certification and information that sets them apart from other security companies.
For more information, visit http://www.alarm.org/.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Every year REALTORS pay particularly close attention to the annual "Cost vs. Value Report" that Remodeling magazine publishes, to learn the most important projects that could help their clients sell their homes faster and for more money. The 24th annual edition of the free report was recently released with input from some of the top remodeling professionals in the country as they ranked 35 remodeling projects based on how much money they recoup. The results were somewhat surprising.
According to the report, exterior upgrades recoup more money than interior renovations, a trend that has been progressing the past five years. The biggest recommendation on the list is replacing the front door with a steel entry door, which on average recoups more than 100% of the renovation costs.
Many people appreciate the steel entry door systems because of the superior protection they provide and equally as important, the beautiful styles and finishes they come in.
"A quality-built decorative steel door will increase the value of your home over a stock wood slab door, especially one that's aged," says Larry Neville, a contractor from New Hampshire. "As for efficiency, these doors are constructed with a polyurethane core for high energy-efficient ratings."
The report also lists garage doors as a wise investment, recouping from 69.8 to 83.9%. Other smart outdoor renovations include siding replacement (recouping 80%) and wood window replacement (recouping 72.4%).
When it comes to the interior of the home, the two areas that bring back the most money both take advantage of using space that is available. The projects that best retain their value for resale are attic renovations and basement remodels, recouping 72.2% and 70%, respectively.
"Just like an addition to the home, an unfinished space-such as the attic or basement-will instantly add value and livability to your home. It will increase the square footage and change the way your family lives in it," says Will Tomlinson, owner of a North Carolina-based renovation and remodeling company. "The most common unfinished spaces are a storage space, basement, and an attic. You will be transforming a space that likely gets very little use into a fully functional area for your family to enjoy."
The report also claims that non-essential features have less resale value. Sunroom additions recoup 48.6% of renovation costs; home office remodels recoup 45.8% and backup power generators recoup 48.5%. These are renovations that aren't necessary as not all buyers are looking for homes that contain these functions.
An affordable renovation usually recoups more of the initial investment than a costly one, reveals findings in the report. A minor $20,000 kitchen upgrade recoups 72.8% of renovation costs, but a more expensive $58,000 kitchen remodel only retains 68.7% of its value on resale.
Regardless if they made the list or not, it's important to do your homework before undergoing any renovation and it's always a great idea to check with your real estate agent to see if it will retain its value in your market.
Friday, May 6, 2011
When the housing bubble burst in 2006, the cost of buying a house was considerably higher than renting that same house in most areas. Today, the opposite is true in many states, particularly those hit hardest in the housing crash.
Rental cost has remained on the high side in many communities within these states, making it more monetarily advantageous for renters to buy a home that has dropped in value from the highs of five years ago, to the tune of the national average of 30%. Combine the decrease in home prices, high rental costs and historically low interest rates, and the time may be ideal for renters to consider buying.
To further underscore the advantages of buying, consider a recent study by Deutsche Bank that reported the share of income Americans are now paying to own their homes is 9.8% after mortgage, taxes and insurance payments-down from 17.2% at the housing bubble's peak. Conversely, the study further says that in 28 out of the country's 54 major markets, it's now less expensive to pay a mortgage and other major housing costs than to rent the same house.
For those on the fence when it comes to buying or renting, conducting an analysis is not difficult. Start with the total cost to rent a home or apartment-"total" means not only the rent, but any related cost such as tenant's insurance, and maintenance and/or association dues. Use that number as a starting point or base for comparison.
The next step is to determine the cost of buying comparable housing; for this a little research is necessary. Look at the houses for sale in your price range and find out the price similar homes have been selling for recently. A local REALTOR can help in this regard. Once the price of the home has been determined, ask the REALTOR what you can expect in the way of real estate taxes, utilities and insurance cost for a home at this price.
Lastly, talk to a local bank or mortgage broker to ascertain the availability and cost of the mortgage needed to buy the home.
Ultimately, real estate is local in nature. National, regional and municipal markets are all "macro markets" comprised of thousands of micro markets specifically made up of communities, neighborhoods and price ranges, where market conditions can vary significantly from the macro markets in which they exist. Even in distressed market areas, healthy micro markets do exist.
For more information, visit http://www.housesavvy.com/.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
What to Expect During a Home Inspection
Once your professional, licensed home inspector is on the premises, he or she will review the major, visible and accessible components of the home and provide a detailed written report rating each element. The report should objectively include information in a detailed manner (sometimes even photos or charts) that allows you to make informed decisions.
After speaking with the home inspection professional and hearing your prospective home's report card, it's time to make some decisions. Were the details relatively acceptable? If you're shaking your head because the inspection resulted in a costly item, don't freak out just yet. Instead, have your REALTOR request an extension of your contingency or objection period to take some of the pressure off while you collect more information. Follow these steps in order to help avoid panic:
Assess. Immediately decide how much work you are willing to complete after close of escrow, considering both cost and inconvenience.
Collect. Obtain at least three contractors' bids for the repair(s) at issue-for your own information and to increase your credibility in your renegotiations with the seller. Don't forget to collect competitive bids from a general contractor or plumber and ask the home inspector whether any of the repairs can be done over time or legally completed by an unlicensed handyman. You can reduce the costs of repair bids by sometimes 30% or 40% this way.
Request. Through your REALTOR , approach the sellers with a request for them to pay a closing cost credit to free up some of your cash for post-closing repairs, to complete some repairs or to reduce the price-in that order. Prioritize the strategies that would result in the repairs actually being completed, saving a price reduction as a last-ditch effort.
Assess, again. Once your renegotiation with the seller is done, assess whether you are satisfied with the condition of the property given the final terms of the purchase, including any credits, repairs or price reduction agreed to by the seller.
With so many homes on the market today, your first instinct might be to think it's easier to just move on to the next property. However, if you take the time to properly review your overall situation, including any credits, repairs or price reduction agreed to by the seller, you'll be able to better gauge the right decision for both you and your wallet, all while keeping your cool.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
For example, more than half (57%) of prospective home buyers who were polled do not understand how adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) work. When asked if interest rates on 5/1 ARMs always reset higher after five years, the majority of home buyers answered yes. In fact, the interest rate will adjust to the prevailing rate after five years, even if rates have declined. Currently, many borrowers whose ARMs have recently reset have lower interest rates than they did when they took out the loan.
Additionally, one-third (34%) of the respondents who are prospective home buyers do not understand that lender fees are negotiable and that they vary by lender. They believe lenders are required by law to charge the same fees for credit reports and appraisals, when in fact home buyers can save money by shopping for the lowest fees.
"Most people wouldn't jump out of a plane if they didn't know how to use a parachute, yet each year many buyers commit to the largest loan they will take out in their lifetimes without understanding essential information about mortgages," said Zillow Mortgage Marketplace Director, Erin Lantz. "By simply spending a few hours researching how a mortgage works, and by shopping around for the most competitive rates and fees, buyers can save a lot of money."
Additional Survey Findings:
Nearly half (45%) of polled prospective home buyers believe they should always buy mortgage discount points when obtaining a mortgage. However, because mortgage discount points are simply prepaid interest, the decision should depend on how long you intend to own the home. In some cases, you may not plan to remain in the house for long enough to break even after buying points.
More than half (55%) of prospective home buyers in the study do not understand that mortgage rates vary throughout the day. In reality, mortgage rates can change rapidly, similar to how stock prices can change throughout the day. To get the optimum rate, it is important to monitor rates and shop around.
More than one-third (37%) of prospective home buyers who were polled believe that pre-qualifying for a loan means they have secured financing. In fact, "pre-qualification" is used to describe the earliest step in the process when a lender approximates how much you can afford, but does not run your credit or request any sort of documentation to verify the information you provide. Although there is not a reliable industry standard definition of pre-qualification, it is not until a lender has approved your loan application without conditions that you can rest assured that the lender has committed to financing your loan.
More than two in five (42%) of the polled prospective home buyers do not understand that Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are available to all buyers. Instead, they believe only first-time buyers qualify. FHA loans can cost less for many buyers, including repeat buyers with low to average credit scores and with down payments of less than 20%.
An online version of the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace survey, the "Mortgage IQ Quiz," is available at www.zillow.com/mortgage/quiz/ and contains the correct answers and detailed explanations to each question. Following the quiz, participants are given a score and resources to learn more about mortgages and the mortgage process.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A leaky roof is one of the most common challenges faced by homeowners. And for someone with their house on the market, there's nothing quite so frustrating than to all of a sudden have water dripping from a ceiling or window. When the roof leaks, a variety of problems can follow, from infestations of mold and mildew to damaged foundations.
"A leaky roof is more than just a nuisance. A roof leak mean that water is invading your home or business," said Paul Bange, a roofing company owner. "Long before you notice that telltale spot on the wall or ceiling, water can cause rotting, mold and permanent damage."
Many times a roof leak can be repaired, with low expenses and minimal time commitment, so it's important to get to the problem early and bring in experts to discover the source of the leak.
"A minor leak can become a major problem in no time at all," said Jacob Liggett, managing partner of an exterior contracting company in Nashville, Tenn. "To the surprise of many property owners, many leaks can exist for years before any damages become obvious to the untrained eye. These leaks are usually slow at first, and if they continue to go undetected, they can cause harmful growth of mold, structural damage and, in some severe cases, a complete roof collapse."
Liggett said that common areas for roof leaks include skylights, wall step flashings, valleys or low spots in the roof, missing shingles and plumbing vent flashings.
The first sign of a roof leak is often wet ceiling tiles. Finding the source of the leak can be found simply by tracing the leak backwards to its source on the roof, keeping in mind that the source of the leak may be some distance away from where it is dripping into the home.
"If the leak is running along the wall, it may be necessary to remove the top tiling to get to the source of the leak," Bange said. "Some leaks may originate further up on the roof, making the source somewhat difficult to find. If the source of the leak turns out to be as simple as a missing block of shingles due to a recent windstorm, the solution may be as simple as replacing those missing shingles."
More complex problems may be more expensive but still necessary for getting your home in selling shape.
Nearly 99% of all roof leaks occur at transitions or penetration points, which are places where the roof meets a wall or an adjacent roof, and where equipment such as air conditioning units, vents, railings, drains, and even satellite stands are secured.
Often, a clogged gutter or downspout can cause the roof to start leaking, so it's necessary to clean out all gutters and downspouts on a regular basis to keep the roof looking like new.
Remember, most states require the seller to disclose all known issues, including roof leaks, so you don't want to hide it and hope to get away with it. Besides, the buyer's house inspector will see the signs of an undisclosed roof leak and this could leave one liable for repair costs or cause the house sale to fall through altogether.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Talk to several landscapers before deciding to hire one. Scheduling consultations with multiple landscapers is important. Have them come survey your property and make recommendations on what needs to be done. Use them as consultants, helping you narrow down the work that needs to be done versus extra frills you would like to add to the process. For smaller tasks such as mowing, weeding, gardening or raking, you may want to consider hiring a local teenager or family member in order to save money.
Request estimates. Now that you know what it is you want to have done, request an estimate from at least three of the consultants you met with. Depending on the company, costs could range greatly and the differences could be thousands of dollars. According to the Consumers' Checkbook, a tree-removal job could cost anywhere from $1,935 to $6,300 and lawn care could range from $229 to $805. Finding out what each company will charge you for the job is crucial to staying in budget.
Don't be hasty on saying 'yes.' If your landscaper suggests an add-on of any sort, think it through before OK-ing it. Sometimes your company might recommend various fertilizers, treatment or sprayings, but make sure there is a good reason and necessity for it. The more your landscaper provides, the higher your bill will be.
Quite possibly the most important step: Don't pay until the job is finished. If possible, pay nothing until the job is fully completed. If the landscaper requires a payment, do so with a credit card. If the job isn't finished to your satisfaction, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company. By not paying up front, you also have more leverage in terms of ensuring that the job is completed the way you want it. Keep this in mind while you're hiring professional help.
Hiring a professional landscaper can improve your curb appeal by leaps and bounds. However, keep these tips in mind to make sure you get the most for your money.
Source: Chicago Tribune, Consumers' Checkbook