Puppy Prozac

Puppy Prozac

  Anyone who knows me, knows my love for animals – especially my two dogs. They have been constantly by my side through many things in my life, one for the last 14 years, the other for 9. The youngest one has always been full of energy. She would chase a ball or a Frisbee for hours. At some point, the energy turned a bit negative and she and her “sister” would get into fights. Something would set her off and they would just go at it. Many tears were shed and quite a bit of money was spent on vet visits and trainers. As her behavior worsened, I finally started putting puzzle pieces together.  She had anxiety, and lots of it. I found a trainer that specialized in these behaviors and we discussed medications since behavioral training alone hadn’t seemed to help much. I took her to the vet and they prescribed her what I call “Puppy Prozac”. I felt bad. For a lot of reasons. I felt bad having to put her on a daily medication. I felt bad that I couldn’t help her any other way. But most of all, I felt bad that I hadn’t done it earlier. It took some time for it to take affect but she is much calmer now. It didn’t change her personality as I had feared and it didn’t take away all her OCD and anxious behavior, but I can leave without her tearing things up and there have been no more vet visits because of sibling rivalry. I realized that I was making excuses. I was brushing it under the rug. I didn’t want to admit there was something wrong. I just thought it was her personality and that I would just have to live with it. What I didn’t consider was how much happier she would be once she took a little pill every day. I see this with homeowners. What? Puppy Prozac? Well, not exactly. What I mean is, I see houses that clearly have some issues. Anyone walking in the door would recognize it immediately but the homeowner doesn’t want to admit it. They don’t want to take responsibility, do the work, or spend the money. So, they let it go. And the result is, it doesn’t go away, it gets worse. That hairline crack that showed up a few years ago that has gotten bigger. The door that was sticking that now won’t even close. The wood that was wet that you can now stick a finger through. The gutters that have been clogged and have turned into water running down the wall in the living room. Most of these things would be fairly...

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Heat and Your House

Heat and Your House

Things are heating up! Temperatures, the real estate market, and possibly, your house. So what about heat and your house? Well, heat can cause some serious consequences. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent, avoid, or fix them. Let’s take a look. Roof and attic. When was the last time you went into your attic? You may not even know how hot it’s getting in there and it could be seriously shortening the life of your roof. When attics are hot, chances are, your roof is hot too. If you have shingles, heat can cause them to wear and shorten their life span. Consider adding attic fans and/or a ridge vent to keep air circulating. This will save you money in the long run as they are much cheaper to install than a new roof. Windows. Is the inside of your house hot even when the air conditioner is on? It may be that the cool air is escaping out your windows. New energy efficient windows with UV protection can keep your home a lot cooler and, in turn, save money on your utility bills. Now, this can be a costly investment but if you’re planning on staying in your home for many years, the cost savings on utilities will likely be worth it. If you don’t want that initial expense, you may look into a UV window film that you can add to your windows. It will save you some money on both sides and help keep you cool in the height of summer. HVAC. How old is your HVAC Unit? Is it big enough for your square footage? What is the SEER rating? It may be that your unit is just not keeping up. A simple tune-up could provide the relief you need, or it may be something more serious. My advice is to put money back a little at a time as new units can be very costly. There are financing options but when you go to sell, most of those are lines on the home that will need to be paid off. If you are looking to save some money, window units and ceiling fans can be installed and make things much cooler without the major expense. Just make sure that if you are adding window units, your neighborhood or county allows...

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Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

Have you heard of the phrase, “house poor?” I never like my clients to use all their cash for down payments and closing costs. It is important to have access to cash and expect the unexpected. When you own a home, you need to be ready for anything to cost you money. You probably have prepared yourself for buying new furniture or a refrigerator. You may have even budgeted for new blinds or carpet replacement. But what about plumbing or electrical issues or window replacement? That was probably not on your wish list when you signed on the dotted line. Picture this: You want to add a beautiful wood deck off the back of the house. You want it landscaped beautifully and have some twinkle lights inside a pergola framing the deck. Your daughter’s baptism is next month and the whole family will be in town to celebrate. You can’t wait to show off the house and the new deck. You envision evenings on your deck, under the stars and the twinkling lights with a glass of wine in your hand, breathing in the sweet smell of having put your stamp on your new home. Screech – halt! You pull a permit for the deck and the electrical and it is discovered that the existing out-building was not built with a permit and the electrical that you were going to tap into is not up to Code, so now what? Now you have to have that electrical box redone so you can have your twinkle lights on the deck because the house box is maxed out. Ok. Not so bad, but it’s going to add about $1000 to the total cost. But you proceed. Once the deck is in full swing, you begin work on the landscaping. While holes for the shrubs are being dug, the septic line is uncovered and, unfortunately, so is a leak. It could be worse, you think. It could have began sweeping into your house and causing real issues and that does explain the rotten smell in the air off and on for a couple weeks. You pause the beautification and call the plumber. It won’t add too much to repair the leak and you are glad you found it before it caused more trouble. The project continues and it is smooth sailing now. Or is it? The deck and backyard is complete and you are enjoying a warm evening outside only to go inside and realize that someone must have turned the AC off. It’s hotter inside than it is on the deck and your family is arriving in 36 hours. UGH!! You guessed it. You need a new HVAC unit and there’s...

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Celebrity Closets

Celebrity Closets

  Confession: For years I have dreamed of having a master closet like you see in celebrity homes. You know, the wall of shoes, handbags on display, color coordinated, separated by season. Well, though you may not have the bank account of a celebrity, you can still have a closet fit for one if you’re willing to do a little research and maybe a little construction. Let’s look at some options. “Almost” DIY closet. This is a closet system that you can find at places like Ikea, Home Depot, Lowe’s, or The Container Store. You will most likely design it yourself and assemble it yourself. It has the shelves, rods, drawers, hardware, etc. and you put it all together. These can be quite affordable and look great. Most retailers have loads of accessories just like the more custom companies, possibly just not as many options in style, color, or specialty accessories. If you are on a budget, like the DIY, and are confident in your ability to plan your space, this can be a great solution. In some cases, you can even pay a little extra to have it assembled in the space. You can dream it today and have your closet tomorrow if you go this route. “Almost” Custom closet. This closet is purchased from a closet company like Closets by Design or California Closets. A designer comes to your home or you can visit a showroom. They will measure your space, look at your wardrobe, pantry, garage, or office, and help design storage options to best suit your needs. They will show you a rendering of what your closet will look like and you can make any adjustments necessary. They have a nice selection of styles, colors, and accessories. After design approval, they will set a time to come install your closet. In some cases, they will tear any existing closet out as well. You will typically wait 3-6 weeks for this option, depending on the size of the space but you won’t have to do any assembly so it could be a great trade-off. This is a great solution if you don’t like DIY, aren’t sure what you want/need, or you just want a little more custom feel. Celebrity Custom. If you want to be the envy of all your friends, this is the closet for you. A designer will come to your home, look at your space and your items you would like organized. They may bring pictures of work they have done in the past to give you ideas but they won’t have boxed systems to choose from. They will assess your needs and priorities and design a closet that fits you specifically. This...

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Refinancing – When and How to Do It

Refinancing – When and How to Do It

  Have you been thinking about refinancing? Are you confused about if you should refinance? Or do you just need to know how to refinance and what’s involved? Well, I’m a Realtor, not a mortgage professional, however, I can give you an overview and things to expect when refinancing. Typically, you want to refinance when the current interest rate you qualify for is lower than the one you currently have. Notice what I just said. Just because you had some low interest rates pop up in an ad on your Google feed does not mean that is the rate you would be getting or that there won’t be other charges to inflate the rate or overall cost. This is where talking to a trusted, local professional can be very helpful. I am not slamming online companies. I have actually had some good experiences with them. I have also had some bad experiences with them – but I have had bad experiences with local banks as well. Anyway, I digress. However you go about checking a rate, make sure to ask all the questions: What interest rate do I qualify for? What type of loan is that based on? Does that loan and rate assume I am paying points? What are the other fees associated? How much will I need to bring to closing? If you remember the loan process when you purchased your house, that is the same thing to expect with a refinance. The only thing I have experienced that is slightly different is that you do not have a hard closing date to shoot for so you will only have a general timeframe of when you will close. The only true date to consider is that your interest rate is only locked for a certain period of time. There are typically several people you will communicate with through the process. A loan officer, processor, an underwriter, a title company, and perhaps even an assistant and someone from the corporate office. In a perfect world, all of the necessary paperwork and documentation would be requested of you immediately upon applying for the loan. The reality is, that is rarely or never the case. As the processor and underwriter go through the process of gathering and approving, there will likely be other documentation they will need to make the final decision and approval. When any of these people ask you for any kind of document, feel free to ask questions, however, chances are, if you want the loan, you will have to provide the information they request. You will have an appraisal done on the property so be prepared to be available to allow access to the appraiser when...

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Home Renovations

Home Renovations

  Anyone who has lived through home renovations knows that the process is not the most pleasant thing ever. The contractors get to your house early, probably about the time you are getting ready, getting the family ready, and/or trying to get out the door to go about your day. They are noisy and messy and sometimes they have no regard for your property. Hopefully the end result is worth the hassle. Getting a good contractor is key to a good home renovation experience. But what type of home renovations are the best? What will give you the most return – biggest bang for your buck? Let’s check it out.   Kitchen             We’re not talking a total gut job here. Do a facelift. If your cabinet doors aren’t quite modern enough, leave the boxes and just replace the doors. Refresh with new knobs and pulls. Replace counter top with a less expensive solid surface option. You may consider new appliances if yours are old or don’t match. Paint and call it a day. Bathrooms             Some people are opting to remove bath tubs and have extra-large showers instead. While this is not necessary for resale, you may personally enjoy it. Just remember, if you remove any bathtubs, make sure there is at least one in the house. You could remove a complete buying sector from looking at your house if there is no bathtub. The master bath is the bath with the most value-add, however, a small powder room could be a very inexpensive cosmetic update and have a lot of impact. Master baths with nice vanities, solid counter tops and unique storage solutions are all the rage. Again, unless you have a 1950’s house that hasn’t had the shag carpet removed, you may be able to get by with some minor updates. A new faucet and a coat of paint can really change the look of a vanity. A new framed mirror or medicine cabinet can transform the entire space. Exterior When you are looking to do updates, not much has the bang for the buck like a good cleaning and fresh paint. A lot of exteriors could use a pressure washing. Painting trim and shutters can really freshen the look of a dull exterior. If you really want to change the look but not get into a serious renovation, try adding some stone veneer or cedar shake if the home style allows. This small detail can magically change the appearance with not a lot of cost. A trend that we are continuing to see is outdoor spaces so consider adding a covered or screened patio or deck. You will likely get a lot of use out...

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