Pros and Cons of Adding a Hot Tub

Having a personal hot tub or spa in your backyard is like having a little slice of heaven at your beck and call anytime. Sure, they are more expensive than playing in the sprinklers or sitting in a kiddy pool, however, hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub.

Purchasing a hot tub for your home is becoming more and more appealing to those looking to spark joy in their outdoor space. Even the top local landscaping designs incorporate a steamy floral energy with hot tubs and water features.

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. However, there may be some downsides to consider before adding a hot tub to your home. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub:


PROS

Relaxation

Having a hot tub just steps from your back door can add an element of relaxation to your home. You can come home from work and let the stress of the day melt away in a warm, bubbling soak outside. Hot tubs also have palpable healing properties, as the warm water can help alleviate stress and loosen tight muscles. They are a favorable choice to have for those family members with chronic diseases or injuries that would respond well to heat. Having a hot tub allows for a daily opportunity to relax and unwind.

Entertainment

Not only will your family love a hot tub but your friends and neighbors will too! Adding a hot tub that is large enough for a handful of people is a great way to entertain in your outdoor living space. You can grill out for a party and then invite everyone to change into their suits to soak underneath the stars. Kids love hot tubs and having one creates a fun opportunity to play with the grandkids without the major upkeep of an outdoor pool.

Year-Round Use

Unlike swimming pools that are usually not used during the winter months, a hot tub can be used all year long. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a hot tub under the crisp air of a recent snow. Hot tubs are also used in the summer despite the warm temperatures under the clear summer sky. Due to its smaller size, it is much easier to heat a hot tub in order to keep it available for use all year long.

CONS

Purchase Price and Upkeep Cost

The initial cost of a hot tub can leave some buyers in sticker shock. Brand new hot tubs can easily cost thousands of dollars depending on the size and features available. You can save money by buying used but run the risk of dealing with problems that aren’t covered in a warranty. Other costs to consider are the regular amounts of chemicals that will be needed to maintain the water as well as the electricity fee to keep the water at premium temperature. Owning a hot tub definitely has some costs that need to be considered before purchasing.

Attract Insects

Along with upkeep can come some pesky creatures that can make your outdoor space not so pleasant. Having any sort of water feature can make for a seemly inviting atmosphere for backyard dwellers like mosquitoes. Similarly, rodents such as mice can find a new home within a hot tub installation that can be more an infestation to deal with. Whereas this may not be a deal-breaker and prevented by using repelling plants in your surrounding landscaping and adding repellent gel and inserts in your installation–creating a relaxing space in any backyard usually means it’s rid of annoying insects or rodents.

Tricky Installation

If you purchase a new hot tub the installation may be included in the price but there may be some hidden fees as well. Consider where you will be putting your hot tub and how it will fit into the space. Hot tubs weigh a lot and heavy machinery will most likely be needed to install them correctly. You may need to take out a section of the fencing to get the hot tub into the backyard. If you want your hot tub on a deck, a crane will be needed to lift the hot tub up onto the deck which can be another added cost.

Plan for Weight

The actual hot tub can weigh a lot but also consider the weight of the water that will be added to the hot tub once installed. A hot tub dealer will most likely help you with these logistics but you will need to verify that you have an adequate spot for your hot tub, especially if you are buying used. Calculate the total weight of the hot tub, the water, and the combined weight of the maximum amount of people who will use it in order to get a good idea of how much weight will be added to the property. A firm foundation of concrete will be needed for those hot tubs being added to a backyard. Decks will need to most likely be reinforced with extra beams in order to hold the added amount of weight.

Hot tubs are a great addition to any home and can be a good selling point if you don’t plan on taking your hot tub with you when you move. Taking a dip in the hot tub is a valuable way to physically feel better as well as provide an entertainment space that you can use all year long. Make sure that you plan for the weight of the total hot tub as well as the costs to upkeep it. Prepare for these pros and cons before adding a hot tub to your outdoor living space.

(Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog)

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Fall Home Improvement, Home Buyer, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Home Tips, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In. Out. Repeat. Sound familiar?

Stop playing doorman and install a pet door in your home with this guide.

The first and most important step in determining whether a pet door is right for your home is to consider what issues might come from your pet’s new-found freedom. For instance, does your dog or cat have a tendency to run away? Or, do you live on a busy street? Will your neighbors mind if your pet is outside unattended? Keep all of these things in mind before installing a free pass to the outdoors. Installing a pet door may require first putting up a fence around your yard to ensure your pet’s safety. Whether you opt for a physical fence or an invisible one, a barrier will give you peace of mind that your furry friend won’t get lost or hurt when outdoors.

Choose the Right Door

After you’ve addressed your pet’s outdoor safety, you’ll need to determine the kind of pet door that is right for your home. Just as there are many things to consider when choosing a front door for your home, there are plenty of elements to consider when selecting a pet door.

A pet door can be installed in the wall, storm or screen door, garage door or sliding glass door. The cost of installation and complexity of the project varies with each option, storm door installation being the most cost-effective.

Before making your pet door selection, you’ll need to take your pet’s measurements. Consider that your pet will duck his head when entering and exiting, so you’ll want to find a door that is slightly taller than your pet’s shoulder height and at least two inches wider than his body. Creating a mock door out of cardboard is an easy way to test your measurements.

Ready to install? Hire a professional, or follow a step-by-step guide from your local home improvement store.

Consider Resale

While 65 percent of American households included at least one pet, according to the Humane Society, some may not be ready to commit to a permanent pet door for resale purposes. If a temporary option is best for your home, consider opting to install the pet door in your storm door or screen door, so it can easily be removed or replaced should you decide no longer need it.

(Source: Coldwell Banker Blue)

Posted in Adopt A Pet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Home Buyer, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Home Tips, Homes for Dogs Project, Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you a Maverick? A Dreamer? Find Your Financial Personality!

When it comes to managing your finances, are you more likely to be spontaneous and optimistic or stick to a formal plan? Understanding your financial personality can be important on the journey to reaching your financial goals, whether it’s something short-term like buying a home or longer-term like your dream retirement. For some of us, it’s simply about finding a better balance between spending and saving.

According to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Quiz, designed to help peopleget a better grasp on their saving, spending and investing habits, about 43 percent of Americans are “Dreamers” when it comes to their finances – they tend to live in the moment but can also feel unprepared for certain life events.

Only 10 percent are considered financial “Architects” – they not only imagine the future but take pen to paper and map out a plan to make it a reality. Other personality types, according to the quiz, are Improvisers (18 percent), Organizers (11 percent), Mavericks (10 percent) and Philosophers (8 percent).

Here are some key themes the quiz explores to determine your money personality and provide tips to help you achieve your goals:

1) Is juggling your monthly bills a breeze or a tornado?

Half of Americans say they’re able to pay their monthly bills on time and even put money into savings regularly, according to Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Survey, but a third of Americans say they typically don’t have any extra cash to put into savings after their basic expenses. The remainder say they even struggle to pay those expected monthly bills and often end up with unpaid balances.

Terri Kallsen, CFP®, head of Schwab Investor Services, said that automatically depositing part of your income into a savings account each month can help make it a habit.

“Our survey shows about 40 percent of Americans set up an automatic transfer into their savings or investment accounts each month,” she said. “That way, they don’t have to make a decision to ‘spend or save’ each month – they’ve already made it.”

2) Do you set goals or go with the flow?

While most Americans say they’ve thought about their financial goals, only 28 percent have taken the time to put their goals in writing, the survey shows. Another 25 percent say they don’t have any plan at all.

“Planning can be a key indicator of your money personality because how much you engage with your finances is often closely tied to how confident you feel about reaching your goals,” Kallsen said.

3) Are you an engaged investor or a sideline saver?

Most Americans have a traditional checking and savings account, according to the survey, but only about half have some kind of investing account.

“Savings accounts are often seen as a safe place to put your money, but to keep up with inflation and the rising cost of living, it’s also critical to invest,” Kallsen said. “The sooner you start investing, the longer your money has time to gain from rises in the market and the power of compounding and to recover from any downturns.”

Once you’re invested, it’s important to stay engaged to stay on track. Keep an eye on your investment fees and make sure to rebalance about once a year, added Kallsen.

Take Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Quiz and learn more about your money personality and tips and tricks to help reach your financial goals.

(This article information was sponsored by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., Member SIPC. This sponsored article is presented by Brandpoint.)

 

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Financial, Home Buyer, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Home Tips, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Real Estate, Relocation, Sell, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Southwest Michigan’s Summer Produce Really Blossoms!

July and August are when Southwest Michigan’s Summer Produce Really Blossoms! Farmers markets and farm stands will be overflowing with an assortment of fresh fruits & veggies from a variety of vendors. Check out our Farms & Harvest Guide for a list of community farmers markets in our area, just click here: Southwest Michigan’s Farms & Harvest Guide.Once you have your fresh produce, how do you store fruits and veggies?  What can stay out on the counter and what needs to go in the fridge?

To keep your food fresh, it’s important to know how to use the crisper drawers of your refrigerator properly. Follow the tips below for the best way to store fruits and vegetables both inside and outside of your refrigerator.

In a Cool, Dark Place ~Never store these items in the fridge. Your pantry is a great place for these fruits and veggies, which do best out of the sunlight:

Veggies:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Fruit:

  • Melons

On the Counter~These items will do fine on the counter for three to five days, if you leave them whole. Put any produce that needs to ripen in a brown paper bag for a few days to speed up the process. For longer storage, transfer produce to your fridge’s low-humidity drawer.

Veggies:

  • Asparagus and celery —Stand these up in a shallow glass of water.
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kale, collards, and chard — These also do well in a shallow glass of water.
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes

Fruit:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits — Keep these in a bowl with plenty of air circulation.
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Pineapples

In the Low-Humidity Drawer~Produce that can dry out a little should go in this drawer, with the humidity slider open. This drawer is one-step removed from the main fridge, slightly less chilled but still dry. Store any cut or sliced fruits and veggies here. Place these types of produce directly into the drawer:

Veggies:

  • Corn — Leave it in the husk.
  • Peppers — Store them in a plastic bag.

Fruit:

  • Apples — Store them here if you like them cold.
  • Ripe stone fruits, such as peaches and plums — Leave them in the drawer as-is. 

In the High-Humidity Drawer ~ Produce that needs a moist environment goes in here, with the humidity slider closed so that water vapor is held in the drawer to keep things fresher for longer. Fruit does not keep well in a high-humidity drawer.

  • Beets — Cut off the tops, then store the beets in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green beans — Keep these in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
  • Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach — Wash and dry them thoroughly first.

In the Main Fridge Compartment

  • Fresh herbs — Store them wrapped in a damp paper towel in an airtight container.
  • Mushrooms — Keep them in their packaging or a brown paper bag.
  • Berries and grapes — Store them unwashed. Wash them just before you’re ready to eat them.

One of the best advantages of storing fruits and veggies in their proper place is that you are far less likely to end up with a crowded crisper drawer, which leads to soggy forgotten food. Your crisper drawers are indispensable for keeping produce fresh, but only if you use them correctly. Also, if you keep lots of produce sitting out on the counter, you could find yourself and your family reaching for it more often than bags of chips in the cupboard.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Blog

 

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Farm Markets, Home Tips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rent vs. own: Which is right for you?

keys

If you’re thinking of buying your first home, you’ve probably wrestled with the decision to rent or own your home – and for good reason.

Owning a home is a big commitment. With it comes a lot of responsibility and a long-term financial relationship.

But which is right for you? To answer that, let’s lean into the facts.

The improving housing market

Good news! Since the depths of the recession, the housing market has made a heroic comeback. That can be attributed to a number of factors, including a drop in unemployment and a stronger economy.

But as the housing market has recovered, it has experienced some growing pains. With a sharp increase in demand, housing supplies are being strained. This means, among other things, that prices are going up.

For families and individuals still recovering financially, finding affordable housing options can be difficult. This applies to home sales and rentals.

Advantages-Of-Owning-A-Home-vs-Renting

Making the decision

With rental and sales markets heading toward record highs, the decision falls back to what is best for you. Specifically, what is financially feasible.

Let’s look at the basic numbers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median gross rent paid from 2012 to 2016 was $949 monthly. Compare that with the median selected monthly owner costs with a mortgage, which was $1,491 over the same time period.

Then there are utilities. The median monthly electricity cost for renters in 2015 was $82, with owners paying $117. For piped gas, the median amount renters pay monthly is $42, while owners pay $58.

For renters, it is wise to carry renter’s insurance. Some landlords will also charge maintenance and other fees. Utility costs will also vary depending on the quality of the structure and materials used as well as size of the rental space.

Homeowners will pay property taxes, insurance and an estimated $500 annually for routine maintenance, according to the Census Bureau.

The benefits of home-ownership

buyingbenefits

At a glance, it may seem that renting is the lower cost option. But there are certain benefits to home-ownership that may offset the additional regular costs. According to the Tax Policy Center, the primary benefit to owning a home is imputed rental income. Simply put, making a monthly payment on a home that you own is like paying rent to yourself.

While that money is not taxed, it comes with another benefit – potential tax deductions. When you file your federal taxes, you may be able to deduct a portion of the mortgage interest you pay. Talk to a tax professional for more information on the expenses you can deduct and the limits for those deductions.

Beyond the numbers

Home-ownership provides a variety of benefits beyond the numbers. For many people, a home is the largest investment they will ever make. The upgrades, work and care put into the home that you own can add value to your investment. It also adds a sense of pride knowing that it is yours.

pexels-photo-269155.jpeg

“Having a place to call your own, a place to return to at the end of the day, makes life better,” said Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. President Eric Hamilton. “You can see it from the moment they make the decision – that sense of pride. It’s a life-changing event and a memory that will last a lifetime.”

Brandpoint, January 18, 2018

 

 

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, For Sale By Owner, Home Buyer, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Sell Your Home in Winter

pexels-photo-276728.jpeg

Thinking about home selling in the winter? Winter presents its own unique set of challenges.  However, there are steps you can take to brighten your home and make the showing pleasant and enjoyable for your buyers.

1) Clear a Pathpexels-photo-280204.jpeg

  • Continually shovel a path through the snow, especially if snowflakes are still falling.
  • Footprints on freshly fallen snow will turn to ice if the temperature is low enough, so scrape the walk.
  • Sprinkle a layer of sand over the sidewalk and steps to ensure your buyers’ stable footing.
  • Remember to open a path from the street to the sidewalk so visitors aren’t forced to crawl over snowdrifts.
  • If it’s raining, put a rubber mat by the front door or a container to hold wet umbrellas and shoes.

2) Let in the Lightpexels-photo-545034.jpeg

  • Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.
  • Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights.
  • Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
  • Turn off televisions, speakers and computers.

3) Turn on the Heat

  • Pump up that thermostat. It’s better to heat the house a degree or two warmer than usual and then set the temperature at normal. This prevents the heat from kicking on when the buyer is present, because some HVAC systems are loud.
  • You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on a cold day.
  • Light the fireplace, but open the damper, place a grate in front of it and don’t leave it unattended for very long. You don’t want your house to catch fire!

4) Create a Moodcoffee-cup-books-home.jpg

  • Make your living room appear romantic by placing two champagne glasses near a champagne bucket on the coffee table.
  • Toss afghans or throws across the arms of your sofa.
  • Turn your bathroom into a spa:
  1. Hang plush robes.
  2. Roll up wash cloths, tie with a ribbon and place in a basket on the counter.
  3. Set up a grouping of soaps, lotions and shampoo.
  • Place vases filled with winter flowers around the house.
  • Set a breakfast tray on the bed containing a coffee cup, saucer, napkin, reading material.
  • Dress your dining room table for a dinner for two.

5) Turn on the Music

  • Turn on soft music. I used to play Enya until one day I heard it piped in at a mortuary.
  • Jazz or classical is soothing.
  • Don’t turn on a commercial radio station – set your tunes to random selection so your music will be continuous, try Spotify.

6) Ease Up on the Scents

  • Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers, so don’t spray the air or plug-in air fresheners.
  • Don’t burn candles or spray perfume in the bedroom for the same reason.
  • If you’re going to bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove, put out munchies so buyers aren’t disappointed. More than one sad buyer has said, “Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!”

7) Make it Visually Pleasingcoffee-cup-mug-apple.jpg

  • Display photographs showcasing your summer flower gardens and lush green lawns.
  • Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.
  • Make Your House Sparkle:
  1. Wash windows
  2. Clean out cobwebs.
  3. If necessary, re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
  4. Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
  5. Clean out the refrigerator (you know it needs it anyway).
  6. Vacuum daily. If your carpeting is plush, vacuum in one direction.
  7. Wash or polish floors.
  8. Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
  9. Bleach dingy grout.
  10. Empty trash and recycling bins.

8) Serve Winter Foodspexels-photo-189537.jpeg

  • Don’t serve muffins or any other kind of food that can be quickly popped into the mouth because you want buyers to stay for a while and notice elements they might otherwise miss.
  • Hot soups such as tortilla, tomato, potato or squash are delicious on a cold day.
  • Chili or stew is a great alternative to soup, but leave a receptacle for disposal of the paper bowls and spoons.
  • Hot apple cider or cups of cocoa make great beverage choices.

9) Provide Specific Information

  • Attach printed cards to items and in rooms that provide further information the buyer might miss or might not know. You have so little time to make an impression.
  • If you have an antique chandelier in your dining room, put a card on it that discloses its age and other important details.
  • If you have removed the washer and dryer from the laundry room, attach a card to the wall describing the room so visitors know where they are.
  • If your basement stairs are steep, attach a card to the railing that cautions buyers to watch their step or their heads.
  • Take care when placing a card that says: “Not included in the sale.” That will make a buyer want it, but you can play that later to your advantage.

10) Use Timers and Technology to Your Advantagepexels-photo-225232.jpeg

  • Plug indoor lamps into a timer to automatically turn on at times buyers will be present.
  • Consider using motion sensors that will light up in the evening when a buyer approaches your doorstep.
  • Set your crock-pot on a timer to warm up soup at designated time.
  • If you use an answering machine, turn it off or mute messages.

To find out more, contact one of our Coldwell Banker Advantage Real Estate Professionals today!

The Balance

 

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Get Your Home Back in Shape After the Holidays

Putting your home in order can be a great way to transition from the holiday season to a fresh new year.

For many people, the week between Christmas and New Year’s can be chaotic, with the kids home from school, the grown-ups off work and winter weather keeping everyone indoors. New toys and books may be scattered across the living room, and gifts to return piled up under the tree. By Jan. 2, we’re often ready to be done with the whole holiday season. 

In case that describes you, here are some tips for getting your home back in order for the start of the new year. With a little extra effort, you can get your home in better shape than before the season began.

 

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, For Sale By Owner, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment