EMERGENCY PLANS FOR YOUR FAMILY

Do you know what to do when a disaster strikes? Do your children? By creating and practicing an emergency safety plan, you can protect your family when natural disasters happen.

Fires. The National Fire Protection Association advises you to have at least two ways to escape the home in case of fire. Practice fire drills with your children at least twice a year.

Tornadoes. Tornadoes are fast and destructive. The Red Cross recommends the safest shelter for the family as interior rooms, closets, hallways or a storm shelter/basement.

Hurricanes. The Insurance Information Institute suggests learning where the nearest public shelters and evacuation routes are before hurricane season begins.

Earthquakes. Ready.gov says to practice drop, cover and hold-on drills, like getting under a sturdy desk or table, against an interior wall, or in the jamb of a door on a load-bearing wall.

Before disaster strikes, review your homeowner’s insurance and make sure you’re covered for flooding and wind damage. Document your belongings. Keep valuables, important files, priceless photographs in a safety deposit box.  Prepare an emergency kit with food, water, first aid and blankets.

You may lose some material objects, but you’ll keep what matters most – your family.


STAGED HOMES SELL FASTER

In a survey released this year, the National Association of REALTORS found that 83% of buyers’ agents reported that staging helps homebuyers visualize themselves living in the home and influences them enough to make higher offers. Sellers’ agents agreed that staged homes sell faster and for more money.

These are just a few of the advantages to staging your home, but there are other benefits for home sellers. 

Staging gives you a deadline. Getting your home ready to is a lot of work, but online photos and agent showings should showcase your home at its best – decluttered, freshly painted and staged with fresh new furniture and accessories.

Staging gives you great ideas. You’ll learn a lot about making rooms flow, creating focal points, increase and improve lighting, and how to use color.

Staging helps you decide what to keep or discard. If your furnishings are hand-me-downs, out of date, or not your taste, why take it all to your next home? Staging can help you separate what you love so you’ll have far less to move.

Ask your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty sales professional if staging is part of their service or to recommend a good stager.


HOW TO CHOOSE NEW KITCHEN CABINETS

Cabinets set the style for any kitchen, and with advances in functionality as well as beauty, your new cabinets should transform your food prep workspace.

All kitchens have trouble spots that can be fixed with the right design. Hire a certified kitchen designer, who’s adept at space planning, traffic control and up to date on the newest products.

The most popular cabinet doors today are flat fronted with hidden hardware for a modern esthetic. Look for “quiet closing” cabinets that close softly to prevent slamming. Storage that pulls down, rotates or lifts up can save your back and the need for a stepladder. Drawers that pull out under countertops are easier to use than shelves because you can see everything that’s stored. Cabinets that reach the ceiling can accommodate items you don’t use daily, like holiday dinnerware.

Many new kitchen cabinets come in various wood grains and stains, factory-painted wood, and porcelain or laminate fronts. Island cabinets often feature a contrasting color to the wall cabinets. 

Be open to new products that can save you valuable time, such as built-in drink stations, refrigerated drawers and large trough sinks. Visit kitchen showrooms with your designer for more inspiration.


Be Ready for Unexpected Expenses

unexpected homeowner expenses

Congratulations, new homeowner! You’ve overcome the biggest hurdle – buying your first home – and now it’s time to switch your attention to maintaining and protecting your investment. Your electrical, water, gas and A/C systems may be working fine for now, but sooner or later, you can expect a major repair or replacement expense. All you need to do is be prepared.

Plan ahead. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers a handy reference called The Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes. Compare the chart to your inspection report and you’ll be able to gauge how much life is left in your appliances and systems. If you know that your A/C unit is 10 years old and the life expectancy is seven to 15 years, you have the heads up to prepare for a major repair or replacement soon.

Review your homeowner’s insurance. How much is your deductible? That’s the amount you’re responsible for when you use your insurance for an expense like a hail-damaged roof. The higher the deductible, the more money you should set aside, just in case.

Build reserves. Many repairs or replacement costs won’t be covered by hazard insurance, so reserves are your rainy day fund. This money you’ve saved or set aside should be quickly and easily accessible through a savings account or a short-term certificate of deposit.

Set aside an emergency-only credit card. Keep one credit card at zero or a low balance so you’ll have a back-up source for payments.