Collins & Demac Real Estate



Posted by Collins & Demac Real Estate on 1/18/2018

When it comes to making your home and property safer for your family and others, the Boy Scouts motto says it all: "Be prepared!"

While it's next to impossible to completely eliminate all risks and potential hazards in and around your home, there are dozens of things you can do to make your property safer.

Every family's safety needs are unique, but here are a few basic precautions that can help reduce the chances of home accidents occurring -- both large and small.

Stair safety: All things being equal, it's riskier to walk down a flight of stairs than it is to walk on level ground. While that may seem obvious, most people don't stop and think about the potential risks of descending stairs as they're about to do it. Although tripping and falling on stairs can be injurious to just about anyone, it's especially dangerous for elderly people. From a homeowner's standpoint, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of family or friends stumbling on your stairs. On an ongoing basis, it's necessary to make sure there are no loose objects on the stairs that could cause someone to lose their footing. Keeping stairs clear of toys, building blocks, and slipping hazards can be challenging if you have young children. Until they're taught to pick up after themselves -- which might occur sometime between now and college -- stair safety is an important issue to be aware of. Another key strategy for preventing household accidents is to make sure railings are properly installed and firmly anchored. Basement stairs can pose additional risks because they're sometimes inadequately lighted. Concrete floors at the bottom of some staircases can make a fall even more hazardous (not to mention painful). Increasing lighting, if needed, and making the bottom step more visible so that it's not accidentally skipped, are two preventative measures for reducing the chances of anyone falling on basement stairs.

Fire safety: Most people are aware that it's essential to have several working smoke detectors placed in strategic locations in your kitchen, bedroom area, and other parts of your house. Even though it's common knowledge, people don't always remember to install enough of them, replace worn out batteries when necessary, or test them every few months to make sure they're in good working condition. Some people remove the battery to silence smoke alarms while they're cooking, which can be dangerous if they don't remember to put them back afterwards. If your kitchen smoke detector has a "push to hush" button, then that can be a safer way to temporarily quiet a smoke detector when you're cooking dinner. Home fire safety also entails several other precautions, including having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (and other areas), having a second-floor fire-escape ladder available, and teaching children how to avoid and respond to potential fire dangers. More detailed information and educational materials on fire safety is available from government agencies and non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association.

Stay tuned to this blog for more helpful tips, pointers, and ideas for keeping your home safer and more secure.





Posted by Collins & Demac Real Estate on 1/11/2018

When spring arrives it brings everyone out to the backyard for games, cookouts, picnics, and a number of other fun, fair weather activities. It also brings yardwork.

With the busy schedules that most homeowners have, it can be difficult to find time to spend hours working in the yard each weekend. Depending on where you live and the size of your backyard, there are many options for making it a bit easier to take care of your lawn and garden.

In this article, we’ll give you some advice on how to make caring for your backyard a lot simpler so that you can spend your time outside enjoying the weather rather than working up a sweat.

Lawncare

In most suburban and rural neighborhoods, lawncare seems like a competition. Everyone wants their grass to look as green as their neighbor’s. But keeping a meticulous lawn can be difficult if you have kids, pets, or just don’t have the time to spend manicuring and fertilizing your lawn. What’s more, lawncare can get expensive quickly and can go wrong just as quickly in the case of droughts and pests.

There are many ways you can simplify your lawn care. If you love having a lawn, but mowing is a pain, it can be easier to remove some obstacles from your yard. Bird baths and other decorations can be a nice accept, but sometimes they make mowing more difficult than it needs to be.

If you don’t want to deal with grass at all, or want a smaller area to mow, you have a few options.

You could make your yard more of a natural meadow by planting wildflowers and encouraging long grasses. Laying a brick path down the middle creates the air of a walkthrough garden where you can view the many florae that will be ever-changing in your yard.

If you like your yard to look neat and tidy, creating a patio and placing a few choice potted plants and trees on it will save you a lot of time pushing the lawnmower.

Choose the right plants

Many people plant bushes, trees, and flowers based solely on the fact that they like them. It makes more sense in the long run, though, to choose your plants based on their hardiness, and your ability to care for them.

Some plants are marketed as being impossible to kill. However, you should still read the care requirements to make sure they’ll work with your yard’s climate, light, and water conditions.

In warmer climates, cacti and succulents are a good choice and will likely fit the scenery. For colder climates, there are a number of conifers, shrubs, and bushes that will stay green throughout the winter, adding a bit of color to the dreary season.

A good way to make sure your yard will be low maintenance year-round is to use plants and trees that are native to your area. Since they’re in their natural habitat, they’ll likely require less work on your part.




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Posted by Collins & Demac Real Estate on 1/4/2018

Most of us toss things into the trash without considering where it goes after. The fact that items end up in rivers, water supplies, the ocean, and landfills escapes us because throwing something into the trash is such a seemingly simple act. However, many common items throughout your home are considered household hazardous waste. The EPA defines household hazardous waste as products that can "catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic." The EPA, state and local government regulate the use, storage, and disposal of such materials. Improper disposal includes pouring them into the ground or down a drain, as well as throwing them out with the garbage. Learning which products you need to dispose of properly will help you and the environment. Read on to learn which products you might not realize shouldn't be thrown out with the trash, and how to properly dispose of those items.

Where do I dispose of __________?

  • Batteries  Anything in your home that is battery-powered is considered household hazardous waste. Batteries contain strong, corrosive acids that can harm us and the environment alike. There are many different types of batteries and disposal methods vary accordingly. Contact your local hazardous waste disposal site or bring small alkaline batteries to a recycling center than some stores have.
  • CFL light bulbs CFLs contain mercury and are therefore considered household hazardous waste. You can bring them to your local hazardous waste disposal site or bring them to a store that recycles CFL bulbs, such as The Home Depot. Just call first to make sure your local store participates.
  • Medication, needles, and lancets Many medications can be disposed of in the trash. However, prescriptions should be brought to a take-back facility. Check with your local law enforcement for a time and place to bring expired or unused medications. For sharps like needles and lancets, put them in a sharps container and ask your doctor about local disposal areas.
  • Pesticides and herbicides These chemicals can be dangerous to local plant and wildlife. They can also be flammable and should be disposed of at your local hazardous waste disposal site.
  • Ink cartridges Many stores will collect your used up ink cartridges and give you a discount on your next purchase. Other companies offer rebates for mailing in empty cartridges. Try your local Staples first.
  • Automotive liquids Fuel, oil, antifreeze, and other automotive liquids are all considered hazardous. Many auto parts stores accept used oil and other automotive liquids, or you can bring these items to your hazardous waste disposal site.
  • Household cleaners  Cleaning supplies like ammonia and drain cleaner contain harsh chemicals that may be considered hazardous in your area. If you can't use up the products, you could consider donating them to a local store or organization who could. Otherwise, check with your local hazardous waste disposal center to determine the best option.
  • E-waste (electronics waste) E-waste is growing more and more common with advancing technologies that are becoming outdated faster and faster. Many state and local governments regulate e-waste. Some stores, like Staples or Best Buy, accept electronics and electronic appliances for recycling but you should call before dropping your items off. Another option is to donate your working electronics to a place like Goodwill, Savers, or The Salvation Army.





Posted by Collins & Demac Real Estate on 12/28/2017

Chefs need their organization in order to cook good meals for everyone. Everything from ingredients to utensils to small appliances must be organized and within reach for a stress-free preparation of meals. This is where a pantry comes in handy. A pantry is a place off of your kitchen where ingredients can be stored and utensils are tucked away. You can keep your small appliances there as well. The problem is that not all homes have a pantry. You may not even think that you have space for a pantry. If your home doesn’t have a a dedicated pantry, there are plenty of ways that you can create your own pantry. Here, we’ll give you some tips on how to create your own pantry easily and cost effectively. Add Shelving To Become Your Pantry There are shelving pieces available designed specifically for kitchens. Some of these shelves are even designed for commercial kitchens. You can mount them to wall space that you have available near the kitchen. The good news is that these shelving units are incredibly affordable. You can place them anywhere from the kitchen itself to a laundry room, or any other room that connects with the kitchen. Buy Readymade Shelves This is one of the simpler methods to create your own pantry. It could be as easy as buying a bookcase and repurposing it. The great part about bookshelves is that the shelves get wider as you move towards the bottom of the unit. The smaller shelves on the top can be used for smaller jars, spices and even cookbooks. The larger shelves can be used for oils and large containers. Dedicate A Shelving Area As Your Pantry If you have an unused nook, certain unused cabinets, or any other space close to your kitchen, you can make it into a pantry. Any sort of vertical cabinet that’s open provides you with a generous amount of pantry storage. Maximize Your Storage By labeling things, organizing items by type and putting pantry items into baskets, you’ll create more room in your dedicated pantry space. You can even make your pantry mobile by adding wheels to the bottom of the bookcase or shelving unit that you choose. When you’re more organized, life becomes easier. Use Drawers As Your Pantry Many cabinet retailers have drawers available that you can use to organize your pantry items. You could install these easily into your existing kitchen cabinet units. Store items in these spaces and keep them organized for simple and effective pantry storage.




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Posted by Collins & Demac Real Estate on 12/21/2017

If you’ve been considering taking the next step toward homeownership, you’ve likely heard about FHA loans. Offered by the Federal Housing Administration (hence, “FHA”), these loans are great for a number of people hoping to purchase a home but who don’t have a large down payment saved.

There are many misconceptions about FHA loans since they’re often advertised by large, private mortgage lenders but are technically a government program. In order to clear up some of the confusion, we’ve provided answers to some frequently asked questions regarding FHA loans.

Read on to learn about FHA loans and how they might help you purchase a home.

Who issues an FHA loan?

FHA loans aren’t issued by the government. Rather, they’re issued by private lenders but insured, or “guaranteed,” by the government.

Since lenders want to make sure they’ll see a positive return from lending to you, they typically want you to have a high credit score and a large down payment (typically 20%). However, not everyone is able to meet those requirements. In this situation, the FHA is able to help you acquire a loan by giving your lender a guarantee.

Are there different types of FHA loans?

Yes. In fact, there are nine distinct types of loans guaranteed by the FHA. These include fixed rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages, refinance loans, reverse mortgages, VA loans, and more.

What do you need to qualify for an FHA loan?

It’s a common misconception that you need to be a first-time buyer to qualify for an FHA loan. However, if you have previously owned a home that was foreclosed on or if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, the foreclosure and bankruptcy have to be at least three years old.

You’ll also need to demonstrate a stable employment history, usually including two years of employment with the same employer.

Finally, the FHA will ask you for your current and previous addresses, the last two years tax returns, and the W-2 forms from any of your recent jobs.

What is the most I can borrow with an FHA loan?

The FHA sets mortgage limits on loans depending on the state and county you’ll be living in. For a single-family home, the limit ranges from $275,000 to $451,000. So be sure to check the limits for your state and county.

Can you refinance an FHA loan?

Refinancing a loan is a great way to receive a lower interest rate or to shorten the term of their mortgage to save in the total number of interest payments. In fact, the FHA typically only allows refinancing when it will result in lower interest payments on a loan.

What is the minimum credit score needed to qualify for an FHA loan?

While you don’t need excellent credit to qualify for a loan, the FHA will require you to have a score of at least a 580. You can check your score for free online from a number of companies, such as Mint or Credit Karma. Be aware, however, that scores vary between credit bureaus. So, it’s a good idea to check your FICO score once per year, which is the score used by mortgage lenders.




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