Articles Tagged "homeownership"

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Area Information | 31 Posts
Buy a Home | 2 Posts
Home Improvement | 12 Posts
Sell a Home | 2 Posts
September
19

When to Get Your HVAC Serviced

HVAC Service

Your HVAC system is one of those appliances it's easy to forget about until it stops working. However, when it stops working, it can be a major problem, and you can be left without heating or cooling at the most inconvenient times. Unfortunately, many people wait until this point before taking action.

The truth about HVAC systems is a little preventative maintenance goes a long way. Our real estate agents always treat HVAC systems like their cars -- even if they're working fine, regular maintenance and annual inspections are still necessary to keep things running. Read on to learn more about the importance of HVAC maintenance, the type of service your system needs, and the best times of year to get the work done.

The Importance of HVAC Service
We depend on our HVAC systems for comfort all year long. When they break, it can be a major inconvenience, and scheduling service during the busiest times of the year can be challenging. Regular maintenance not only helps prevent breakdowns but it also improves the efficiency of your appliances and extends their lifespan.

Regular maintenance is also important for safety. If your heating or cooling goes out during periods of extreme heat or cold, it can pose a safety risk, especially for kids, elderly adults, and pets. Also, when it comes to gas heaters, certain problems can lead to fire hazards of Carbon Monoxide exposure. Ensuring the system is regularly serviced can help lower the risk.

What Type Of Service Does My HVAC System Need?
On an annual basis, your heating and cooling systems should be inspected and tested. Your HVAC technician will run through a checklist to ensure all elements of the systems are working properly. HVAC systems can accumulate a lot of dirt and dust throughout the year, which can negatively impact the performance of the unit. A thorough cleaning should also be done annually, which can help improve the overall efficiency of the appliance and lower your utility bills. 

When Should I Have My HVAC System Serviced?
Inspections, repairs, and cleanings should be done on an annual basis. The best time of year to service your HVAC system is prior to the start of the season you'll need it the most. For example, the owners of these St. Louis homes for sale often have their air conditioning units serviced in early spring, just before the hot Midwest summer sets in. You should also have your furnace serviced every fall before freezing temperatures arrive. Don't forget to also make sure you're changing both systems' air filters every few months on top of the annual service.

It's easy to forget about HVAC maintenance, but skipping it can lead to big problems. Make sure servicing is a part of your regular fall and spring home improvement checklist, and contact us today for more home maintenance tips.

July
18

Bring the Spa Home with These Bathroom Upgrades

bathroom updates

Make spa-style relaxation part of your daily routine by upgrading your bathroom. If you're considering a bathroom remodel, our real estate agents recommend these luxurious upgrades.

  • Add a Free-Standing Soaking Tub
    It has become the standard for luxury bathrooms to now offer both a separate, walk-in shower and a free-standing soaking tub. For the most spa-like experience, design your bathroom remodel around the soaking tub as a focal point. A soaking tub offers a much more luxurious bathing experience, with options such as deeper water, a comfortable sloped back, and Jacuzzi jets.

  • Spring for Heated Floors
    If you're remodeling your entire bathroom, you might as well install heating elements while the floors are being re-tiled anyway. With heated floors, you can say goodbye to cold toes and icy tile in the winter. Whether you're stepping out of a relaxing bath or a rejuvenating shower, the floor under your feet will be heated to a comfortable temperature.

  • Install Plush Seating
    One of the main differences between your favorite spa and the typical bathroom is the availability of comfortable seating. This could be an upholstered chair, a vanity seat, or a cushioned, built-in bench. Make your bathroom a place to relax and put your worries behind you by ensuring you'll always have a comfortable place to sit, whether you're waiting for your bath to fill, applying makeup, or putting on your shoes.

  • Create Airy Spaces
    If you browse the most luxurious bathrooms found in the best Saint Louis homes for sale, you'll notice that one thing they have in common is that they are light, bright, and often white. Take that small, dark bathroom and remodel it to make it open and airy, giving it the sense of being a getaway right in the middle of your own home.

  • Decorate with Mother Nature
    One thing most spas have in common is the amount of greenery you find inside them. Bringing nature into the spa is relaxing, and it can do the same for you in your bathroom at home, too. Decorate with greenery and flowering house plants, hanging pictures with relaxing nature scenes, and use windows and skylights to let in lots of natural light and make the most of the view.

  • Set the Mood with a Chandelier
    A chandelier helps to set the mood in any room, and your bathroom is no different. Many luxury bathrooms with a soaking tub as the focal point hang a chandelier directly over it. The chandelier adds beauty, glamour, sophistication, and most importantly, the right kind of lighting to set the mood. Who wouldn't feel relaxed while soaking in a tub with a glass of wine in one hand and a crystal chandelier overhead?

A modern, luxurious bathroom is one of the features that many homebuyers look for, so updating your bathroom will never go amiss if you're looking for ways to add value to your home. Is it time for an upgrade? To list your existing home and start the search for your dream home, contact us today.

June
20

How to Utilize a Detached Garage

Garage Tips

Need extra space in your home? A detached garage can have a lot more uses than just parking your car or providing extra storage. Here are a few suggestions from our real estate agents for making use of the extra space in your detached garage.

  • Home Gym
    Gym memberships are expensive, but fortunately, your detached garage may provide just the space you need. The ceilings in garages are typically high, providing plenty of space for taller equipment. Turning your detached garage into a gym also requires a few renovations. Durable flooring, access to electricity, and maybe a space heater in the winter are about all you need.

  • Dance Studio
    Like a home gym, a dance studio makes itself at home easily in a detached garage. You'll likely want to get some portable dance flooring tiles to give yourself the correct type of floor to dance on, and you can mount mirrors and possibly a barre on the garage walls. Like the home gym, a dance studio will benefit from the high ceilings and wide floor space in a garage.

  • Art Studio
    Do you need a place where you can be alone with your art? A detached garage makes a perfect art studio. The concrete floors and unfinished walls in most garages make it easy to make a mess and even easier to clean it up. Be aware of where the nearest water source is when you're planning your art studio, though, as access to water will be important for art as well as for cleanup.

  • Workshop
    Do you find it difficult to find a good place for your workshop? The mess and the noisy equipment may have your workshop banned from the house, in which case the detached garage is the next best thing. Concrete floors make for easy cleanup, and being separate from the house will prevent the noise from ignoring anyone inside.

  • Garden Zone
    Do you love to garden? If so, you probably always need more space than you have. Consider taking over your home's detached garage as a catch-all place for all your garden needs. In that space, you'll be able to set up a potting bench, a nursery with lamps to help baby plants grow, and an organized storage area for all of your garden tools and supplies.

  • Play Room
    A detached garage makes a perfect place to set up a rough-and-tumble playroom. Because there's so much space and it's almost like being outside, there's more room for activities such as jumping rope and roller skating, making a garage playroom almost a necessity in poor weather. Temporary flooring and tumbling mats will make the garage an inviting space for when the kids want their own space.

  • Office Space
    St. Louis homes for sale are especially appealing when they have office space! It may require a little bit more remodeling, but if you're hurting for a good place to work from home, consider converting your detached garage into usable office space. It'll enable you to have a quiet place to work away from the rest of your family members. You'll probably want to finish the space with flooring, walls, and climate control. You could even consider making the garage into a tiny apartment or carriage house that could be rented out. 

A detached garage is an often overlooked way to maximize the available space in your home. If you're looking for a way to boost your home's value, contact us today to discuss how to best put that detached garage to work.

May
16

New to Gardening? Try These Easy-to-Grow Plants

Plants Growing

If you are a first-time homebuyer, one of the things you might be excited about is that you can have a yard big enough for a garden. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect property where you can grow your own vegetables and work on a new hobby for years to come. Get started with these easy-to-grow plants perfect for the area's climate.

  • Bush Beans – Bush beans are probably the safest bet if you want to grow a vegetable that you can't mess up. Plant them. Keep the weeds away and watch them grow!

  • Corn - Corn, along with beans and squash, make up the three sisters of the garden. The corn creates the foundation for the beans to grow around, and the squash creates the base. When all three are cooked together, you have succotash.

  • Peas – Peas are exceptionally easy to grow but difficult to harvest. Since you can eat them right from the garden, you will often find children grabbing handfuls for a quick snack. Watch out for the adults too!

  • Cherry Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes are almost as hard to harvest as your peas. Once you get a few on the vine, though, you can harvest them for a salad or as a garnish for one of your home-cooked meals.

  • Summer Squash – Summer squash is also extremely easy to grow and is known as one of the staples for many families who garden from year to year. You can find various types of squash growing at many St. Louis homes for sale.

  • Garlic – Garlic is similar to onions and will produce a strong odor as it matures. It is easy to grow and you can harvest it as you need it.

  • Cucumbers – Cucumbers look a lot like squash, but the plants have smaller leaves. Both squash and cucumbers grow quickly once they begin to appear on the vine. Harvest them when they are mid-size for the best texture and taste.

  • Radishes – Radishes grow very fast. You may be able to plant and harvest twice during the summer months if they don't get too hot.

  • Leafy Vegetables – Leafy vegetables like lettuce and kale are easy to grow and will provide you with everything you need for a tasty summer salad.

  • Garden Herbs - No garden is complete without a little flavor. Many herbs are easily grown in your garden or in small pots in your kitchen. Rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley, and thyme can all be grown in your garden and harvested fresh whenever you need them. 

Other Tips for Your First Garden

Besides picking out the right plants to grow in your first garden, you also have to keep in mind how you'll keep pests away from your sprouting plants. In our corner of Missouri, rabbits, squirrels, and even deer are known to cause havoc in some gardens. Luckily, there are a couple of ways you can keep them at bay and protect your garden.

  • Fencing – a variety of materials can help you keep any pests away. 

  • Hot Pepper Sauce – Sure, you might like spicy food, but rabbits don't. Mix a hot pepper sauce with dish soap for a natural (and spicy) way to deter them from your garden.

  • Identify the Plant Pests Like the Most - Are pests targeting one plant in particular? Head to your garden store and see if you can surround this plant with chicken wire to give it extra protection.

If you're ready to dive into gardening and are looking for the perfect home, contact us today. We can help you find a yard perfect for your gardening goals. 

April
18

Don't Forget These Spots While Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Longer days and warmer weather are almost here, making it an excellent time to make a plan for your spring cleaning. When compiling your list of spring cleaning tasks, it's easy to stick with the same chores.

Our real estate agents know that it's easy to inadvertently overlook an area needing cleaning when it isn't typically on your to-do list. Here are some spots to clean and organize this spring.

  • The Crevices in Your Furniture
    When you vacuum your furniture or wipe it down, it's typical to focus on the upholstery since it's the area that you sit on and see the most. However, make sure that you also clean the crevices of your furniture. Use your vacuum cleaner's crevice tool to get into these tight spaces. You should also lift your cushions up so that you can clean the areas behind and underneath them. 
  • Your Washer and Dryer
    Your appliances often accumulate lint, dirt, and other laundry debris around them. If possible, pull your washer and dryer completely out so that you can clean underneath and around them. This will make it simple for you to sweep and mop the areas that formerly housed the appliances. If moving your appliances isn't an option, your vacuum's most narrow crevice tool can be used to vacuum under the appliances and in tight areas between them. Make sure to also clean your dryer duct. There are attachments that attach to your vacuum so you can extend the vacuum into the duct to remove as much lint as possible. 
  • Your Garbage and Recycling Cans
    Garbage and recycling cans are often sticky and smelly, thanks to leaking trash bags and product residue left in items thrown into the cans. While it's not hard to clean them, it's a task many homeowners overlook. Begin by donning a pair of gloves; remove any debris or trash in the cans. Then, spray the interior with your water hose. Combine four cups of water with half a cup of blue Dawn dish detergent. Use an extendable scrub brush to apply the cleaning solution and clean the inside of your garbage can. If there's still debris in the can, you may want to lay down a tarp or large trash bag, so the debris doesn't get in your yard. Rinse the inside of the can out. Use your cleaning solution to then scrub the outside of your trash can before giving it a final rinse. 
  • Your Windowsills, Window Screens, and Window Coverings
    While many homeowners clean their windows in the spring so that dirty windows don't obstruct their home's natural light, it's common to overlook the other parts of your window. An extra benefit of this task is that if you're adding your home to the list of St. Louis homes for sale, potential buyers will find a home that's meticulously cleaned more attractive. Some curtains and drapes require dry cleaning, while others may be washed. Follow the laundering instructions for your set. When you take them down, dust your curtain rod with a wet cloth. Remove all your window screens. Then, vacuum them to remove dirt and debris. Spray vinegar on the screens and wipe them. You can then spray them off with your water hose before drying them. Open your windows, and vacuum your windowsills. Sprinkle a little baking soda before spraying a little vinegar. Scrub your windowsills to remove grime and mildew. Wipe them with a warm, wet cloth when you're done before drying them with a clean towel. 

Planning on completing extra spring cleaning tasks to get your home ready for the market? Contact us to get started!

November
22

What Appliance Upgrades Add Value?

Appliance Upgrades

If you're selling your home now or plan to in the future, outdated appliances can make prospective buyers turn away from your home to look at another house with newer ones. Buyers can replace your appliances when purchasing a home, but they usually don't want to go to the trouble or expense to do so. And even if you're planning to stay in your home awhile, outdated appliances can make your home less attractive and functional than it could be.
  
Here's what you need to know about appliance upgrades that can boost the value of your home:

  • Think of What Fits Your Home
    Consult one of our real estate agents to find out what type of appliances are popular in your home's price range. While you want to make your home more valuable, you don't want to price yourself out of the neighborhood.
      
  • Look for Energy Star Appliances
    Appliances with the Energy Star sticker or tag meet strict energy-efficiency requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They'll help you save money on your energy bill, and when you're selling your home, they'll appeal to prospective buyers. Leave the Energy Star sticker on your appliances, so buyers know they'll save as well.

What to Replace  

  • Refrigerator
    Kitchens can make or break a sale, so if you have money to spend, this is an excellent place to start. An upgraded refrigerator that has French doors, as well as built-in filtered water and ice dispensers, will appeal to the majority of buyers. The same is true of a stainless steel finish, which remains extremely popular. If you're thinking of going for a high-tech option like a TV-embedded fridge, it may not be a wise move unless you have a luxury home.

  • Laundry sets  
    An appliance upgrade is definitely in order if your washer and dryer don't match. Not only does this make the set less attractive, but it also makes a buyer immediately realize that one appliance is older than the other. This makes them likely to wonder just how old it is and how long it will keep running efficiently. Aside from a nice, matching appearance, buyers want high-efficiency front-load and top-load units. And if you have a large home that might appeal to families, a large capacity washer and dryer is a good investment.

  • Stove  
    A stove that's built-in will be more popular than a standalone one. And buyers also appreciate flat tops and stoves with self-cleaning functions since they're easy to keep clean. And if you have some gas utilities, gas stoves generally appeal to serious cooks.

  • Appliance sets   
    Retailers often discount sets of appliances, so they can help you save money while ensuring that you have matching sets. For example, a kitchen appliance set may include items such as a stove, refrigerator, built-in microwave, and dishwasher. While there's usually no need to select the most expensive options with every imaginable bell and whistle, the cheapest set is usually not the best choice either. Instead, choose a mid-range set that will appeal to a larger number of buyers.

Contact us if you'd like to visit St. Louis homes for sale or, if you're selling your home, to receive expert advice on what kinds of upgrades can help boost its value. 

October
18

Fall 2021 Interior Design Trends

Fall Interior Design

Fall is here, and so is a new wave of interior design trends. According to our real estate agents, this season's design ethos is all about comfort and self-expression. Let's delve into 5 of the most popular interior design trends this fall, how we've seen them applied in many of our St. Louis homes for sale, and how you can bring these ideas into your home. 

  1. Earth Tones
    Fall's stunning orange and brown color palette is providing inspiration for some homeowners in 2021. In addition to rich chocolates and muted apricots, many choose to add soothing blues and verdant greens to their homes. These hues evoke the natural world. 

    Because many of these colors are very close to neutrals, they are very easy to incorporate into almost any room. Repainting the walls is the most obvious way to do this, but it isn't the only way. A small touch like a mist-colored vase or some mossy green curtains can go a long way. 

  2. Soft, Cozy Fabrics and Textures 
    In stressful times, people often try to make their homes as comfortable and welcoming as possible. This might be why homeowners are currently so eager to add soft textures to their living rooms, bedrooms, offices, and other living spaces. At the moment, most use discreet, removable items like blankets and rugs for this purpose instead of permanent fixtures like carpeting or upholstery.  

    It's easy to bring this trend into your home with a single shopping trip. Look for throw blankets and decorative pillows, especially ones made of materials like wool, flannel, and sherpa. 

  3. Dividers 
    In the past, homeowners often wanted to open up every space as much as possible. This is no longer the prevailing trend. Instead, many people are adding room dividers (screens, shelves, and other partitions) to their homes to break up those open spaces and create more intimate areas without having to actually build new walls.  

    If this idea appeals to you, experiment with different types of room dividers. An elegant folding screen, sturdy bookshelf, or long silky curtain can break up those large rooms and add some additional function or decoration to the space, depending on what you prefer. 

  4. Natural Finishes and Other Elements 
    Homeowners are also taking cues from nature when adding furniture and fixtures to their space. Faux stone finishes, light natural woods, and other rustic accents are becoming increasingly common this season, especially in conjunction with nature-inspired color schemes. Together, these two design choices amplify each other and create an even more sense of soothing respite within the home. 

    Countertops, mantlepieces, coffee tables, and other focal points are great places to incorporate natural elements into your own home. 

  5. Vintage Furniture and Housewares 
    Finally, fall 2021 has also brought an increased interest in vintage furniture and homeware pieces. After spending so much time in their homes over the last year and a half, homeowners see their interior spaces as an extension of themselves. This has led to an interest in personalizing spaces with art, furniture, or knickknacks from the past, especially if these items are family heirlooms. 

    These days, it's easy to find as many charming old items as your heart desires – if you can't find exactly what you want at local thrift stores and garage sales, hop online and see what's listed on sites like eBay and Craigslist. 

No matter how you choose to decorate the inside of your home, the most important thing is that you feel happy and at ease there. If you're in the market for a new home, contact us today. 

September
20

5 Things to Know Before Installing a Fence

Fence TipsThere are dozens of reasons to build a fence, and when done properly, it can add tremendous value to your home. But there are also several factors that will affect your decisions. We would like to make you aware of them before you make your plans. If you're considering one of the lovely St. Louis homes for sale, you may want to think about fencing before you buy. Here's what to know before adding a fence to your property.

  1. Know the Rules
    Local governments and homeowners associations often have complicated regulations with respect to height, materials, and placement. Before you have your heart set on a particular design and style, make sure you understand all restrictions and limitations. Be aware of easements. Information regarding access through the property should have been disclosed in the closing documents when you purchased the house. If they aren't listed or are incomplete, property deeds on file through the county describe nonowner rights of usage. Our real estate agents can order a title report during the purchase process and advise you accordingly.

  2. Check with your Neighbors
    A fence along your property line can affect them, too. On the positive side, they may agree that a fence would be beneficial to both parties and agree to share the expense of both building and maintenance. If, however, they regard a fence or wall an encroachment on their rights or block a view, you may be asking for a longstanding feud. Talk before you plan. They may not appreciate a wall but would be fine with another type of fence. Whether or not they have legal rights, a simple conversation might help you avoid conflict of any kind.

    It's also important to verify property lines so that you don't inadvertently build on part of their property. 

  3. Match the Fence to its Purpose
    Picking a type of fence is easier when you consider why you want one in the first place. If for example, you wish to have your dog roam in the fenced-in yard, make sure it can't dig under it, wriggle through it or even jump over it. If you need the neighborhood children to stay off your lawn, you may need a short garden fence. Different materials provide different barriers, and it's important that the fence you build provides the benefits you are seeking. If your goal is privacy, you may wish to consider a hedge instead of a fence, but that will provide little in the way of security. 

  4. Consider the Cost
    A brick wall may cost $45 or more per square foot, while stone costs upwards of $80 per square foot. Fencing costs also vary according to materials from $5 to $20 per linear foot, and lumber costs are rising. Consider the length of the fence. Will it surround a large property or just circle a small yard? You may need to mix fence types in order to address your needs economically as well as functionally. Rural properties may benefit from wire fencing to block wildlife, but make sure you don't disturb migration patterns or access to water. 

  5. Learn about Required Maintenance
    Wooden fences require a good deal more upkeep than alternative materials but cost far less than most to construct. The beauty will fade when slats warp or decay. You'll need to make regular repairs to keep it looking attractive. Vegetation must be trimmed around the base of the fence. All of these issues should be discussed with your neighbors before you come to a decision.

Contact us for more information about the St. Louis real estate market. Our agents look forward to hearing from you. 

August
2

How to Add More Natural Light To Your Home

Natural Light Tips

A healthy dose of natural light is an easy way to help any space look its best. Natural light illuminates the room, making it look larger and more inviting; high levels of natural light also boost your body's production of serotonin, one of the chemicals associated with happiness and better mood levels.

Our real estate agents suggest exploring options to increase the natural light in your home before you put your home on the market. Here are a few ways to boost your property's natural light. 

  1. Choose Colors That Reflect Light
    When choosing paint colors for your home, stick with light hues that will reflect the light that enters the room. Darker hues absorb light, making the room feel smaller and more compact. If you're dealing with a room that you want to leave a darker color, try painting the ceiling, doors, and baseboards in a light color to lighten the room's look. 
  1. Add More Mirrors
    Mirrors are an excellent alternative for sleek wall decor and for maximizing a room's natural light. For the best results, position the mirror on a wall across from a window. It will reflect the sunlight the enters the room, instantly increasing the size of the space and enhancing its appearance. The same concept also applies to shiny or reflective pieces of home decor. If you already have a mirror in a room or prefer to consider other options, add decorative pieces crafted from shiny metals or with metallic finishes. These additions instantly brighten the atmosphere in the room. 
  1. Reconsider Your Furniture
    Instead of choosing furnishings crafted from dark wood tones and materials, opt for lighter tones. These light colors are another way to reflect the light already in the room. If you're craving a darker alternative, one solution is to use your throw pillows and decorative blankets to decorate in patterns or colors that aren't as effective at reflecting light. Or make sure that the largest pieces of furniture are in lighter hues.
  1. Install Larger Windows
    If you're willing to explore more drastic alternatives, install larger windows or new doors in the room. Saint Louis homes for sale that have new, energy-efficient windows are also appealing to potential homebuyers. The presence of more windows is a fantastic way to permanently increase the natural light in your home. Or, if you simply want to replace a window, look for a design with lots of exposed glass. Bay windows and bow windows are both excellent possibilities. 
  1. Wash Your Windows
    Even a property that's filled with windows will have insufficient amounts of natural light if the windows are dirty. Washing the interior and exterior of your windows is a simple way to make sure that dirt and grime aren't preventing outside light from penetrating your home. 

Interested in a property with more windows or even a sunroom? Contact us to start your search!

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