Spring Into Action

Siding Me Up

Homes are like relationships. Ha! Seriously though, they kind of are! Our homes require upkeep and care year-round to keep them in tip-top shape. As homeowners, if we ignore the general maintenance and repairs needed, we are going to be in for costly repairs and extra time down the line to fix what should have been maintained in the first place. Here are a few things to add to your spring to-do list to keep your home happy.

Siding is a yearly job as a homeowner. You can use a garden hose and long handled scrub brush to clean the outside of your house, but a pressure washer can make the job go faster. Just be careful to not over do it and damage wood siding and trim. A mixture of bleach, detergent, and water can be used to remove mildew and clean vinyl siding. After the exterior of your house has been cleaned, make any needed repairs to the siding and trim, then patch and paint bare spots. Scrape away peeling paint, and lightly sand to soften the edges so it will blend in with the old paint. Caulk any cracks, and apply two coats of quality exterior paint, being careful to feather the edges with the paintbrush so the patch won’t show.

No Roofing Around

Before it becomes too hot this spring, now is the time to clean your roof. Begin by sweeping or blowing off any leaves and branches on the roof, paying particular attention around chimneys and in valleys.

Once clean, start by inspecting your roof and replacing damaged shingles. Next, examine the chimney flashing and mortar joints on brick or stone chimneys. Use masonry caulk to repair any gaps or cracks in the flashing. If the flashing is in bad condition, make a quick fix with caulk, then call a roofing contractor for a more permanent repair.

It’s All Gutters From Here

Gutters are an integral piece of your home’s well being. They serve to control the flow of rainwater to protect your roof, walls, foundation and landscape. A gutter clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home.

In preparation for spring rains, clean gutters and unclog downspouts. To make cleaning gutters easier, cut the bottom and sides off a plastic jug that’s the same width as your gutters, and use it to scoop out the debris. Then use a garden hose to rinse out the gutter and downspouts. This is the perfect time to check gutters for leaks. Repair any loose gutter hangers or spikes and use a level to make sure the gutters slant slightly down toward the downspouts. To repair leaks in gutter seams, let the gutters dry thoroughly, then seal the crack using gutter sealer, exterior caulk, or roofing cement.

There are your top 3 tips for getting your home spring ready! More tips coming next month.

New Year, New Home

A Moment of Reflection For The New Year

A New Year has a way of breathing new life into us. The thought of being able to leave everything in the past and begin anew is invigorating. We set resolutions and goals. We talk about what we want to accomplish in the upcoming year for business and personal. The end of one year and start to another gives us time to reflect on what we would like to see different or maybe just reaffirm the path that we are already on. My resolution in my business is to continue to serve my clients on a personal level. To consistently exceed expectations and earn their trust and confidence. Such trust that they are thrilled to tell friends and family! Thank you for your continued trust in me as your Realtor® and cheers to a prosperous and successful 2020!

Mortgage Minute

Mortgage Predications for 2020

Mortgage interest rates have been going down in 2019—steadily dropping below 4% for common types of loans. In 2020, economist geeks ha! think interest rates will stay around 3.7% for a 30-year mortgage and 3.2% for a 15-year mortgage. But this is never a guarantee because things like tariffs and trade wars might gradually shift the economy, which could result in the Federal Reserve slowly increasing interest rates to balance things out. What Lower Rates Mean for Sellers– If interest rates stay low, buyers will be more motivated to buy your home sooner than later. But if interest rates do start to increase later in the year, just plan for your house to be on the market a little longer. What Lower Rates Mean for Buyers-More buying power! Simple as that. You live in the payment, not the purchase price and lower interest rates allow for more home.

What To Expect In 2020

What’s Ahead For The Housing Market

When closing out another year, it’s normal to wonder what’s ahead for the housing market. Though there will be future inventory issues, we expect interest rates to stay low and appreciation to continue. According to Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow “If current trends hold, then slower means healthier and smaller means more affordable. Yes, we expect a slower market than we’ve become accustomed to the last few years…consumers will continue to absorb available inventory and the market will remain competitive in much of the country.” As we can see, we’re still going to have a healthy market. It is forecasted to be a more moderate (or normal) market than the last few years, but strong enough for Americans to continue to believe in homeownership and to capitalize on the opportunities that come with low interest rates.

Have any additional questions on what to expect in 2020? Give me a call! 616-588-3625

Home For The Holidays

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving and the Black Friday craziness seem like ages ago as we dive into the last month of 2019. Where has this year gone? Overcast days and powdery snow covering our lawns for the unforeseen future will be our new norm. But you know what? It’s hard not to love it this time of year anyway. As we stare into a new year, let’s take a final dive into the housing market and how 2019 has shaped up. And of course, some killer holiday tips and tricks for my travelers and even those who are taking the leap and hosting the whole gang this year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ~Alicia

Mortgage Minute

With mortgage rates at a three-year low and a healthy job market, housing affordability rose to its highest level in three years in the third quarter of 2019, according to the National Association of Home Builders. In all, 63.6 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $75,500. The national median home price remained steady at $280,000 in the third quarter, flat from the previous quarter, but significantly higher than in the first quarter ($260,000). At the same time, average mortgage rates fell from 4.07 percent in the second quarter to 3.73 percent in the third quarter, reaching a three-year low.

Cue Super Host

Having the whole gang over for the holidays this month? Here’s what you need to know to knock it out of the park. 1. Take Inventory Of Your Serveware: Open up your cabinets, peek into your closet — Knowing which trays, bowls, and platters you have on hand at the beginning of the season will help you know what you may need to buy or borrow. 2. Use Tools That Will Speed Up Clean Up: To maximize time spent hanging out with friends and family, it’s essential to find ways to make kitchen clean-up easier. Lining baking sheets with parchment paper will let you roast vegetables without fear of any burnt, stuck-on bits needing a long soak. 3. Let Guests Help Out With Breakfast:  After cooking up a holiday meal the night before, you might not want to spring awake and make a big breakfast the next morning. But if you have overnight guests, they’ll probably appreciate something more than coffee when they wake up. The solution: let guests pitch in at an egg scramble bar! Set out some toppings (cheese, bacon, even leftover roasted veggies) and let guests go to work! 4. Serve Up A Drink Everyone Can Enjoy:  A big pitcher of iced tea is your secret to satisfying kids and adults alike. Pair with a bottle of infused simple syrup (I tend to go with something fun and floral like lavender) to appeal to those with a sweet tooth, or a bottle of bourbon for anyone looking for something boozy. **Cough, Cough** Aunt Judy, I’m talking to you!

5 Things You Must Do With Your Garden NOW

Summer Is In Full Bloom

Marigolds

Summer will be here before you know it (you may be feeling it already) and this means long, hot days and bright, cheery flower gardens. You may think you should have already done this during our spring months BUT no need to worry, there are still flowers you can plant that will withstand the heat and thrive during this time of year. Read on for my favorite list of the best flowers to plant during the summer and how to keep them going all season long.

Garden Genius

Michigan often has a cool spring, with June being the real start of the gardening season. Here is what to do in your garden in June:

• Add tender annual wildflowers and bulbs to the garden once the danger of frost has passed.

Tulips

• Give your houseplants a much-needed dose of sunlight and bring them outdoors for the summer.

• Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs as they finish blooming.

• Weed and add mulch to garden beds as needed.

• Deadhead any spent spring-flowering bulbs like Daffodils and Tulips, leaving most of the foliage in tact until they die back

Top Flower Picks

It’s hard to find a flower that’s more cheerful than the classic Marigold. Available in bright, warm yellows and oranges, Marigolds are a must for your summer garden. These flowers require lots of sunshine and very little maintenance. Second on the list is the Lantana. These low-maintenance flowers come in a wide array of colors, including red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple. They’ll bloom all season long and are extremely drought tolerant, making them the ideal summer flower to really make your garden pop. My personal favorite is the Black-Eyed Susan.These flowers are usually bright yellow with brown, fuzzy centers. They are especially fragrant and attract butterflies and birds, including hummingbirds. Growing up to 3.5 feet tall and being drought-tolerant, these are the perfect summer flower to plant in any garden.

Home Inspector Words of Wisdom

Landscaping Done Right

We can get caught up in beautifying our outdoor space, but there are some things we can’t forget when it comes to the exterior of our homes. In a nutshell, no vegetation should be allowed to touch the exterior cladding or foundation or to obstruct a window view. Ideally, a minimum of twelve inches of clearance should be maintained between shrubs and exterior cladding and windows to prevent moisture from being trapped against the building structure, which may promote rot on and beneath vulnerable exterior components.

The more you know.

Top 3 Vegetable Garden Tips For May

Finally warm temperatures are here to stay and you don’t have to worry about that frost. You may think it’s too late to grow all your favorite vegetables from seeds, but warm May temperatures have made the soil perfect for sowing seeds. Warm soil will allow for fast germination and growing plants!

Good choices are summertime kitchen garden staples like squash, beans, cucumbers and melons. Fresh, crisp peppers are a garden favorite. Peppers take up little space and can produce high yields when planted close together. May is not too late to plant as many different varieties as possible! They come small, big, hot, mild, and an array of different colors. Throw one in your next homemade guacamole recipe.

Nothing to Guac About

Heavenly Guac

2 avocados, peeled and pitted – 1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped onion – 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Mash avocados in a bowl until creamy.

Mix tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and jalapeno pepper into mashed avocado until well combined; season with salt and black pepper.

Top Tricks for the Best Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes from the garden are the perfect compliment to salads, sandwiches, burgers and well, pretty much anything! May is the time to transplant your tomatoes if you haven’t already. Make sure to transplant to an area that gets full sun. To encourage a strong plant, bury at least two-thirds of the stem when planting. Tomatoes like full sun and plenty of water,

at least 1 inch per week. Always water the base of the plant and not the leaves. Tomato plants do best in a crumbly, loamy soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. To retain moisture and deter weeds, add 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the tomato plants. Tomato plants need to be staked, so use a stake, cage or trellis when you transplant the seedlings so not to damage the plants later on.

Top 3 Outdoor Spring Tasks For Your Home

The sun is out, the temperatures are warming and it’s time for us to get outside! While spring calls for hiking, walks in the park & lounging on the patio, we can’t forget to care for the exterior of our homes. After all, it’s the biggest investment the majority of us make. But where to start? Here’s a list of the 3 BIGGEST things we need to care for and maintain.

Siding Me Up!

You can use a garden hose and long handled scrub brush to clean the outside of your house, but a pressure washer can make the job go faster. Just be careful to not over do it and damage wood siding and trim. A mixture of bleach, detergent, and water can be used to remove mildew and clean vinyl siding.

After the exterior of your house has been cleaned, make any needed repairs to the siding and trim, then patch and paint bare spots. Scrape away peeling paint, and lightly sand to soften the edges so it will blend in with the old paint. Caulk any cracks, and apply two coats of quality exterior paint, being careful to feather the edges with the paintbrush so the patch won’t show.

No Roofing Around

Before it becomes too hot this spring, now is the time to clean your roof. Begin by sweeping or blowing off any leaves and branches on the roof, paying particular attention around chimneys and in valleys.

Once clean, start by inspecting your roof and replacing damaged shingles. Next, examine the chimney flashing and mortar joints on brick or stone chimneys. Use masonry caulk to repair any gaps or cracks in the flashing. If the flashing is in bad condition, make a quick fix with caulk, then call a roofing contractor for a more permanent repair.

It’s All Gutters From Here

Clogged and overflowing gutters can damage your home’s eaves and foundation when rainwater overflows. In preparation for spring rains, clean gutters and unclog downspouts. To make cleaning gutters easier, cut the bottom and sides off a plastic jug that’s the same width as your gutters, and use it to scoop out the debris. Then use a garden hose to rinse out the gutter and downspouts. This is the perfect time to check gutters for leaks.

Repair any loose gutter hangers or spikes and use a level to make sure the gutters slant slightly down toward the downspouts. To repair leaks in gutter seams, let the gutters dry thoroughly, then seal the crack using gutter sealer, exterior caulk, or roofing cement.

4 Top Spring Tasks for Your Home

Spring will be here before you know it and every homeowner knows what that means. It’s time to “spring~erize” our home.  Yes, I made that up.  Michigan winters will do that to you!  Here you will find some useful information to check off your spring to-do list to make sure your home is up and running before the warmer weather arrives.

Fan It Out!

Summer is coming (well, kinda) so it’s time to change the direction your paddle ceiling fans rotate. During spring and summer, ceiling fans should rotate counterclockwise when looking up at the fan. This creates a downdraft that makes you feel cooler when it blows on your skin. To change the direction of your ceiling fan, turn the fan off, allow the blades to stop, then flip the switch on the fan housing. On many fans the “down” position on the switch indicates downward air flow. If your fan has a remote control with a direction setting, this job doesn’t even require a ladder.

No Chimney Guests Allowed

After the last fire of the season, don’t forget to close your fireplace damper to keep drafts, rain, animals, and insects out of your home. The damper is a metal flap inside your fireplace that covers the opening to the chimney. It will have a loop, lever, or chains for opening and closing. Close loop dampers by hand or by inserting a poker into the loop. To close lever dampers, lift up slightly on the lever, then push or pull to close. Chain dampers are closed by pulling on the longer chain to disengage the mechanism, then pulling the shorter chain to close the flap.

What Allergies?

Replace the air filter on your central heating and cooling system every one to three months so it will run more efficiently and keep the air in your home cleaner. It’s easy to change the air filter by removing the cover on the air return, sliding out the old filter, and replacing it with a new one with the arrows on the filter pointing in the direction of air flow. If you suffer from allergies, this is a great time to upgrade to a high-performance allergen air filter for your home.

Waterproof Advice

Over time even small plumbing leaks can add up to thousands of gallons of water wasted. After the last winter freeze, it’s a good idea to check your water meter for plumbing leaks. If the triangular shaped flow indicator on the water meter is turning when water isn’t running in the house, you’ve got a leak. Finding a plumbing leak can be difficult, but the main culprits to check are toilets, outdoor spigots, irrigation systems, and pipes on exterior walls that may have been damaged in a freeze.

Top 3 Michigan Lakes for the Perfect Weekend Away (Maybe it’s time to invest there too)

Yet another snowy day in West Michigan has us of dreaming of long summer days gathered around a fire pit with gorgeous views of water in the background. Michigan is the perfect spot for memory-making days out on an all-sports lake or lounging on the beach with a cocktail in hand. But where should you go? There’s almost too many choices! I’ve gathered the top towns and lakes to check out this summer, so go ahead, add this to your summer calendar and explore Michigan!

Don’t want to drive far, yet want to still feel like you are away from it all?  Check out Gun Lake in Middleville.  Definitely the biggest inland lake within a 45-minute radius of Grand Rapids, Gun Lake offers all the recreational opportunities (on and off the water) that you can imagine. From fishing, swimming, boating and watersports to hiking, biking, and camping, Gun Lake has you covered. Encompassing almost 10 square miles, Yankee Springs Recreation Area is an extremely popular recreation destination for those from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. There is plenty of room to spread out on this nearly four-square-mile lake.

The bustling vacation town of Empire located along Lake Michigan has made the list of most popular vacation spots in the country. People who want to vacation here tend to gravitate toward vacation home rentals, so there is the possibility of income for a vacation home owner who plans to only use the property for short spurts throughout the year.

Another spot to consider is Hamlin Lake, located at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River and Lake Michigan. Ludington is the county seat of Mason County. A bustling calendar of events and several outdoor activities keep people in this area busy. The S.S. Badger Car Ferry offers an experience that many people don’t ever get to enjoy. Disc golf and golf courses, sandy beaches, and historic lighthouse tours provide entertainment for visitors and residents alike.People who are searching for a vacation home on Hamlin Lake will get to enjoy a wide range of pricing. The offerings range from single-family homes to townhouses and condominiums. Inland homes tend to sell at a lower price point than beachfront homes, but even the inland homes are close to the fun of the lake.

Thinking about buying and not just visiting for the weekend?

Michigan is a phenomenal location to own a vacation home, and renting out your home while you’re not using it with friends and family can be a great way to offset the costs of homeownership. But there are many challenges to buying, owning, and renting a vacation home. You need to know the area and what you want in a home for your own use and enjoyment, plus what your home should have to attract renters. You’ll need to be familiar with local tourism, real estate trends, and the state and local regulatory environment.  In addition, you will need to plan how you will maintain your home and manage your rental property from a distance without diverting too much of your personal time and energy away from your other priorities in life.

Curious about lake homes? Visit GRDreamHomes.com to start your search!

Top 3 Outdoor Activities You Must Do in West Michigan

While it’s certainly delightful to curl up with a cozy blanket and a mug of tea when temperatures drop, the cold doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying the benefits of time outside, which are important all year round.  The outdoors not only improve your mood and allow your body to absorb much needed Vitamin D, it also improves your memory and boosts the immune system!

Here are some of the coolest outdoor activities to do in Michigan! Whether you are looking for something for the whole family or just want to get out on your own, there’s bound to be one activity that peaks your interest.

Timberlee Hills is the largest snow tubing hill without dedicated lanes in the state of Michigan. Located just minutes from downtown Traverse City, this is a day you just have to experience and feel like a kid again! Need to warm up after? They have a lodge furnished with tables, TVs, a full service kitchen and a bar. You can enjoy pizza, nachos, cheesy bread, cinnamon sugar bread nuggets, artichoke dip with pita, hot chocolate or an adult beverage while you warm up!  www.timberleehills.com

Make a visit to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, which not only offers a family sledding area, but is also one of only four publically accessible luge tracks in the nation. Get your workout with over 2 acres of outdoor skating! Still can’t find something you love? The snowshoe trails offer the most beautiful scenery in the region! Hike the Woods Loop for a quick jaunt around Muskegon State Park or the Lake Michigan Loop and Lost Lake Trails for a more aggressive terrain and spectacular views of the lake shore. www.msports.org

When cross-country skiing in Michigan in the Great Lakes Bay, winter white trails and tunnels of trees dripping in ice are the backdrop to your Pure Michigan snow day! Explore almost 100 miles of Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, rent skis on-site for the 11k stretch inside Midland’s City Forest, see 2,000+ acres of frozen wetlands and woods at Bay City State Recreation Area, or adventure through almost 20 miles of trails at Chippewa Nature Center. All within just a few hours of Grand Rapids! www.gogreat.com

4 Tips to Get Your Home Sold For More Money

Most realtors will tell you that it is best to sell your home “as-is”. But what does “as-is” even mean in this sense? To me, this means that you are going to put the minimum amount of work into getting your home ready for the market. Your normal check-list might include the following:

#1. Declutter your home

#2. Rearrange furniture to be more visually appealing

#3. Clean up your yard

#4. Minimize evidence of pets and kids. (Before eyebrows raise; Yes! I am a lover of pets and kids. But hey, we are trying to sell a house here and get it in front of every possible buyer out there.)

Now, this is a fantastic start, but when do you need to go beyond a simple plan? The main thing you want to consider is what is your neighborhood calling for. Are you surrounded by new builds or homes that have recently been updated? Has your neighbor recently sold for more than what you thought their home would be worth? Compare. Really look at how your house holds up to the others. If you are unsure, this is what a Realtor® is for. My clients will always receive a recommended list price with the above check-list and a recommended list price with updating. Now, this can be as simple as paint colors or as extensive as renovating a kitchen. You want your home to SHINE like a pretty penny. Let’s take a look below. This home I recently sold has gone through some renovations before we sold. Here’s the kicker. The home was bought a year prior for $120,000 UNDER what it sold for the following year. “Yes Alicia, that’s great, but how much did the renovations cost?” How’s $30,000 sound?

Jaw-drop.

When the home was bought, it had cheap carpet in the living room. There was hardwood flooring in the entry way and dining, but not through the living space. We simply extended the hardwood flooring through the living room and refinished the remainder.
Orange tile not your thing? Yeah, it’s not ours either. Tile was ripped up and replaced with a modern large plank ceramic tile in a creamy white.
Notice those orange countertops are gone? A beautiful granite tile replaced what was and adds loads of light into this expansive kitchen.
Pillars? What pillars? You wouldn’t even recognize this dining room. All walls were repainted in Comfy Beige by Behr and the pillars were removed. Now, the space is open and inviting.

This home is the perfect representation of what you can do to a home to update and modernize while still maintaining the original beauty of the home. This move-in ready home was a great purchase for the sellers and ideal for that buyer who wanted a turn-key home that didn’t need an ounce of work.

Looking for ideas on your home and curious if a renovation can give you more “bang” for your buck when you sell? Call me at 616-588-3625.