It’s Vacation Time! Will Your Home Be Safe While You Are Away?

black-and-white-sky-flying-holiday

It’s that time of year, when we all need a break from winter and going stir crazy in our homes, on vacation we go. With all of the preparations that are made to go on a vacation, it is easy to forget what you are leaving behind. Your home is your greatest asset. It holds all of your belongings, important documents, valuables and more. But it is truly the last thing you think about when you head out for great adventures.

So you may not want to go all out and hire a house sitter, or perhaps you have no one close you trust. If you own pets you may have no choice but to hire someone, unless they are traveling with you. Assuming you don’t want to have someone sit around your home for the duration of your trip, you leave your home exposed to unfortunate events.

Your home doesn’t have to be a fortress in order for you to leave to go on vacation, but it shouldn’t scream “lived in but currently vacant home” either. Below are some basic tips to help give you peace of mind while you are away.

  1. Make sure to lock all entries to your home – doors, windows, and any operable skylights.
  2. Remove or store any objects that may allow access to upper areas of your home like ladders.
  3. Outbuildings and garages should be secured as well. Many items we store in these areas are costly to replace.
  4. Use multiple timers for lights in your home. Set them at a variety of times, so if someone is watching your home they don’t pick up a scheduled pattern.
  5. Alert the post office and put a hold on mail. A build up of mail is a sure sign to a potential burglar that they have free reign to tour your home.
  6. Even if you don’t want a full time house sitter, see if someone you trust would stop by a few times during your absence; someone you know well and feel comfortable handing a key to. Chose wisely.
  7. If you have a safe that will fit them, place any valuables into it and lock it up. Just because you lock your doors doesn’t mean and intruder won’t get in. So keep your stuff safe.
  8. Install cameras. Many cameras these days are compatible with smartphone apps so you can see live what is happening in your home. Or place cameras to record, if someone does enter your home you have it all on video.
  9. Considering vacations are costly, you might not be able swing this, but have a security system installed. This way an automated system can notify you and the local police that a break in has occurred. It will also help monitor and report any incident of fire.
  10. Watch how much you are posting on social media. If you post to Facebook, tweet, or Instagram your every move, you may be sending out too much information to unwanted individuals. Check your security settings and know your friends list. Are these people you should be sharing your current out-of-town location to or should you hold off on posts until you get back?

Save yourself the heartache of a break-in and even worse the feeling of violation that comes with it. Be proactive in securing your home before taking any vacation. While you may not be able to do everything possible, at least you can feel comfortable that you did something.

Enjoy your stay!

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients in the Capital Region. Visit her website http://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

 

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Meet My Latest Listing

OK, it has been a long few months since I last updated this blog. My apologies, but I promise it has been for good reason and I have been very busy. Plus the holidays, I am sure you can all understand how easy it is to get sidetracked during that season. Speaking of which, I hope you all enjoyed yours and have been having a most excellent New Year!

I’ve been working with many buyers but was fortunate enough to be brought in on a listing in the wonderful city of Glens Falls. I did my college internship in this beautiful, historic upstate NY city and I was elated to be brought in on a listing in that area.

I would like to introduce all of you the Condos at 93 Maple Street! These luxury condo units are move in ready and are perfect for the first time homebuyer, empty nesters looking to downsize, or as vacation property. After all they are just a short drive away to Lake George, Saratoga Springs and the Adirondack Park.

Building 93 Maple

The Condos at 93 Maple Street – Glens Falls, NY

One of my favorite things about the units is that each one is different. Layouts may be similar but each unit has been professionally designed by Paula McCormick Interiors and all have their very own personalities. The high-end finishes really bring life to each space and the unique individual feel allow buyers to pick from tastefully done units rather than accepting a standard cookie cutter build.

But don’t just take my work for it. Here are a few photos:

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I encourage you to check out the condos for yourself. If you are fortunate enough to be in the Glens Falls area, around the Capital Region or traveling to Upstate New York stop by on Sundays between 11 and 1. We hold a weekly open house. Of course you can always make an appointment, just submit an inquiry on the contact page of our website. You can visit The Condos at 93 Maple Street here.

I can’t wait to find these units the perfect homeowners they have been waiting for, maybe it will be you….

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her websitehttp://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

 

 

Holiday Safety Tips For Your Home

Holiday Safety Tips Blog

The holidays are here! Decorating the home is a favorite of many people during the holiday season, some have even turned the tradition into a contest – literally! The dazzle of lights, a variety of yard ornaments, and animated displays all bring a luster enjoyed by kids and adults.

While this fun and festive activity bring much joy to the season it can also bring dangers that many homeowners are unaware of. By tweaking some of your holiday decorating habits you can have all of the feels of the holidays while making home fire safety a priority.

Your Christmas Tree:

Christmas Tree Blog Image

Every year Christmas trees are involved in hundreds of home fires, unfortunately with some being fatal. By taking simple precautions you can easily avoid this tragic outcome. Keeping in mind that both natural trees and artificial trees are susceptible to catching on fire, though many artificial trees are available with flame retardant materials, see the safety suggestions below to decide which best fits your lifestyle.

  • Always choose natural trees with lots of green, fresh needles.
  • Trim the trunk before placing your Christmas tree into the tree stand. This will help to absorb more water, keeping the tree from becoming dry.
  • Whether your tree is natural or artificial, always use the proper rated lights to decorate with. Unless you have a pre-lit artificial tree, then you are all set.
  • Set your tree up away from any heating units. These units include (but are not limited to) radiators and space heaters. Never place any tree in close proximity to a fireplace.

 

Holiday Lights:

Christmas Lights Blog Post Image

What are the holidays without lights? For decades neighborhoods have been filled with beautiful displays. Today homeowners actually compete for title of the most elaborate light displays, even tracking down decorations and lights of yesteryear.

  • Examine light strands for broken and/or blown bulbs. Replace all necessary bulbs before hanging. If you find issues with the cord itself, frayed wiring and casing or broken sockets, discard immediately and replace.
  • Make sure lights and cords, including extension cords are away from fabrics including curtains, carpeting and blankets. Also, do your best to keep them away from children and pets.
  • Always turn off lights when not at home or when you go to sleep. Using a timer can help with this during the busy holiday season.
  • Use lights and extensions cords as they are recommended. Sets should be identified as either indoor or outdoor lights, the same for extension cords. Use extension cords that are suitable for the electrical capacity they will be running.

 

Candles:

Candles Blog Image

Candles are popular at all times of the year. These home fire safety tips also apply to candle usage at all times. The holidays are just a great time for a refresher.

  • Keep candles away from flammable items. Added holiday home decor may make space tight and accidentally it ends up near a candle. Be vigilant about what items you are placing around your candles.
  • Candles should always sit on a sturdy surface. They should not be easily tipped over or move around. Keeping candles up high and pushed back is best for homes with kids and pets.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended and always extinguish them before calling it a night.

 

Holiday Fire Safety:

Like with the candle tips, these fire safety tips should be observed all year long. It is the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that sometimes catches us off our game and a reminder is always good.

  • Check your smoke alarms and make sure they are in good working condition. Replace any broken units and have one in each room in your home.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it. Make it easily accessible or keep multiples on hand for large homes.
  • Make sure to have and practice an evacuation plan. Establish a meeting place outside of the home so everyone can regroup when they are safe.

 

These safety precautions can save your home and your holiday. No one wants to experience tragedy during the holiday season and so many people do. Keep these home fire safety tips in mind as your decorate and spend time with family and friends. Knowing you have done your due-diligence can give your great peace of mind for the safety of your home and your loved one.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website http://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

 

TLC Properties: Renovation or Rehab – Smart Investment For A Must-Have Home

Renovations and Rehab Blog

Wow! It’s been a while since I was able to sit down and write. It has definitely been a busy few weeks. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.

My weekend before Thanksgiving was filled with home showings and my very first open house. Ok, so it wasn’t really MY open house, but I got some very valuable real estate experience by helping one of my contemporaries.

For today’s post though I really want to speak about my experience working with some great buyers who have entered my world. Like I did a few years ago, my buyers are looking to make a long-distance move and get back to their family, who are located here in the Capital District. This particular couple really knows what they are looking for, which to my surprise were serious fixer-upper properties.

I love fixer-upper properties. You have a chance to make something your own, you can help preserve the original nature of a historic home, you can save lots of money. My buyer has built & redesigned homes before and enjoys the process. Because of this we looked at some really fabulous homes, though many of them weren’t in what one might call fabulous shape. Actually there were some that no one would call fabulous shape. However, with my buyer’s ability to see what could be, I quickly found myself ready to get a hammer and nails and start the work myself.

All too often many beautiful homes go overlooked because they require work. Not every home is salvageable but, when you find a gem that has weathered decades or even centuries and still maintains it’s structural integrity, in lies an opportunity.

An opportunity to make a home your own. Seriously, you don’t need a brand new build to get what you want in a home. In fact, sometimes people invest in new builds and the homes still don’t necessarily meet all of your wants and/or needs. Not saying buying new is a bad thing, for some people it makes all of the sense in the world, but with a little ambition and creativity you can bring a relic into the current time. The best part, you can increase your equity rather quickly by choosing a distressed property and making the proper, cost effective, renovations to it. Always think about resale and market value when doing renovations. Spending money you don’t need to or you will never see a return on is silly, unless you have a generous budget and feel like spending.

I know, I know – renovations? Nobody has time for that. It’s true, renovations can seriously cramp your everyday style. But! Getting exactly what you want in a home, building equity, and having that feeling of pride with every project completion can be very rewarding for home buyers and owners.

My buyer’s and I stumbled upon a Craftsman, out of the original area we were looking but very close to their family. It had fallen into foreclosure and was in sad shape for how pretty you could see it had once been. It was dirty, had a top to bottom red kitchen, and the furnace was totally broken but the bones were in good shape. The “ah-ha!” feature was that none of the traditional Craftsman touches had been messed with. The original woodworking and structural elements were intact. The only exception was the peculiar red kitchen. The icing on the cake? The home was priced way below budget. When adding the estimated total cost of renovations to the listing price the figure was still way under budget – granted most of the labor cost would be offset by my buyer’s hard work. I will have to wait and see as no decisions have been made yet, but it left a lasting impression on me about distressed properties. Not only can they be a place you really feel is your home, with your personal must haves, they can also be a really solid investment for both you and the property.

Renovations and rehabs are certainly not for everyone. They are time consuming, they can end up costing a fortune, and they can make you regret ever thinking one was a good idea. But when that work is done and your home is exactly how you want it, with extra money in your pocket, that run down, dirty, red kitchen property will be a home again. There are countless tv shows out now with famous faces that feature these types of projects –  Nicole Curtis on Rehab Addict, Jonathan and Drew on Property Brothers, Flipping Virgins with Egypt Sherrod…the list can go on and on. There is tons of inspiration and education out there. Just look at Pinterest! Make sure you have a few hours if you go on Pinterest for DIY ideas, you may be on there for hours – I know from experience.

If you are ambitious enough and not scared away by homes in desperate need of a family to love them then you may find great pride in the challenge. It can really be a great investment and you just might learn a thing or two about yourself. 🙂

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her websitehttp://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

Thanksgiving Home Safety

Thanksgiving Safety

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Turkey time! Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season. A time when families come together to to give thanks and celebrate with a delicious dinner. Not to mention all of the football!

With so much going on it is easy to forget safety during the Thanksgiving holiday, though it is the leading day for home cooking fires. Neglected cooking is the number one cause of home fires on Thanksgiving. With hosts being pulled in many different ways, it is understandable how cooking may get left unattended. Turkey fryer fires come closely behind unattended cooking fires. Always make sure a kitchen is attended when anything is cooking and follow the directions on your turkey-fryer. Here are some other simple safety tips that can be applied to your Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving Safety:

  • Don’t leave food cooking and unattended.
  • Check on your turkey frequently.
  • Remove any items on the floor in your work space – you don’t want to trip and dump gravy everywhere.
  • If possible, keep kids out the kitchen. I have kids so I know this is easier said than done. At the very least, keep them away from the stove and counters where cooling food or knives may be resting.
  • Check the functionality of all smoke alarms. Replace batteries or units if necessary.

Turkey-fryer Safety:

  • Never overfill a turkey fryer. Always fill to the recommendations of the manufacturer.
  • Hot oil can splash easily causing serious burns. Always use caution when dropping your turkey into the fryer.
  • Keep in mind that cooking oil is extremely flammable. Turkey-fryers should always be supervised in case of oil vapors igniting.
  • Always completely thaw your turkey before placing in a fryer. Unthawed or partially-thawed turkeys oil to splatter.
  • Use caution when placing a turkey in a fryer. Place it in gently to avoid spatter or tipping the fryer over. Make sure that when removing your turkey, you have a good grasp to avoid dropping the turkey back into the fryer.
  • Always fryer outside. Not in your home. Not in your garage. Outside, on a flat and level surface. The surface should also be nonflammable like a patio or driveway. Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck.
  • Fryers can easily be tipped over. Be aware of where you place your fryer; keep kids and pets away from the fryer.

Take it from William Shatner, who did actually have a turkey-fryer incident, being cautious can save you some pain. Check out the cautionary tale video he and State Farm Insurance came up with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYkRF_FmD40

Also, see just how damaging a real turkey-fryer fire can be (also via State Farm): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETBD0EqQGoU

Keep these Thanksgiving safety tips in mind this holiday, it will protect your home and your loved ones. While these tips can and should be applied to other holiday celebrations, they are extremely important to observe at Thanksgiving. I hope you have a great Turkey Day and have lots to be grateful for.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website http://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Home Sweet Home Blog Graphic

Buying your first home is exciting! You have probably spent a lot of time saving and working on cleaning up credit. Perhaps you have been looking at available properties in the areas you are most interested in. You might even be looking forward to this huge transition in your life.

Even with the most positive of attitudes being a first-time homebuyer can get overwhelming, and it can become overwhelming very quickly. The house hunting part is the easy part, it is everything that comes after. The paperwork, the dozens of people you will communicate with at any given time, inspections, extended deadlines – the list of components to buying a home can go on and on.

This list of tips is designed to help you ease through the process of buying your first home. While it won’t solve every roadblock you may run into, it will give you an idea of what to expect next and what to work on preparing with your team.

Tips for First-Time Homebuyers:

  • In advance of applying for financing, review your credit report and clean up any blemishes. Work on putting money away and building your savings.
  • Apply for a pre-qualification or a pre-approval with a trusted home loan lender. There are a variety of choices that you can go through to obtain financing, take your time looking at all of your options and choose the right one for you.
  • Understand your budget. Your pre-qualification or pre-approval will give  you the maximum you could be financed for. But that doesn’t mean that it should be your spending budget. Remember to factor in things like property taxes, homeowners insurance, fees associated with homeowners associations, condos or co-ops. Then there is also monthly utilities and maintenance to consider. While none of these are factored into your possible financing amount, they are all part of the cost of owning a home. Working with these numbers can help you determine what you can actually afford regardless of what you are financed for. This will also help you to narrow down your home search.
  • Select a real estate professional to work with during your home search. I know this tip seems somewhat self-serving, but hear me out. A licensed real estate salesperson holds the knowledge and resources to help you navigate a market of endless possibilities. This can help cut the time of your home search and allow you to make better, educated offers on the property of your choosing.
  • Create a list of needs and wants. This will help identify properties that in theory will work for you. Now of course, we know not every property you look at will be the one, even if it has all of your wants and needs. You also may need to make concessions. If you are dead set on a location and that particular location sells at a premium, you may need to make concessions to get into that neighborhood. This could mean losing a bedroom or bathroom off your your list. However, if the property speaks to you, you may not actually care about that one element coming off your list.
  • Always have an inspection done! You should never purchase a property without having a home inspection done not only to make sure the home is a sound investment but also for safety reasons. Any major problems that arise can be identified ahead of purchase and possibly negotiated for in the sales price. In New York State if certain issues total above a certain amount the buyer can actually terminate the purchase contract. Either way, an inspection puts everyone on the same page about the condition of the home. Your real estate professional should have some suggestions of who to hire or seek out your own inspector by interviewing some options.
  • It is highly recommended that you use a real estate attorney to ensure all i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Also, there is a lot of paperwork, it is possibly the most overwhelming of everything you will deal with during the buying process. Your attorney will keep track of deadlines, expiration of clauses, and they will be able to be in contact with the seller’s attorney to make sure the process is moving along from their end. While each buying situation is different, some can be really tricky. When you are a novice at something you are bound to make a mistake, but having someone on your side to make sure that the process is legal is reassuring. It also takes a lot off of your plate so you can continue with your daily life as opposed to living and breathing buying a home.

Those are just a few things you can do to make sure you are successful in the purchase of your first home Of course there are many other components to buying a home and things that you could never prepare for. The best thing you can do for yourself is surround yourself with a group of trusted professionals who will help you with the right steps to success but also educate you as you go.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. Previously she has worked in social media and marketing, with a strong background in customer service. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website at www.homeswitherinmiller.com.

My Real Estate Experience – How I Became A First -Time Homebuyer Twice and Why I Chose To Use A Salesperson The Second Time Around

Home Graphic

Prior to being an agent, I was a buyer. I purchased my first house at a county tax auction. When it came time to move we found ourselves in a unique position. While we were homeowners, we had never actually bought a house in the traditional real estate market. We were still first time homebuyers in a way – we were still clueless.

We moved from Utica, NY to the Capital District with our 3 year-old son and 3 dogs. We were between homes so my parents helped us out. I stayed with the 3 dogs at my mom and step-dad’s house with them and their 3 dogs. My husband and son stayed with my dad, about 15 minutes away. I know, weird, but it worked.

We found out I was pregnant with our second child shortly before our move. Nothing triggers super-mom feels like that news while being faced with a new job, move, and living with your parents again. My possessions were strewn about 3 separate locations. My husband and son were living apart from me. I had regular ice-cream date nights with my mom and stepdad. I knew we had to find a realtor and quickly.

No doubt Dee thought I was nuts when we met. The first thing I did was a put an offer in for a house that wasn’t showing yet. I should have listened when she warned me against doing this, but my maternal instincts required I nest. After trying to talk some sense into me she said “well ok, let’s get started.”

Our offer was accepted and we toured the home. It was reasonable for the asking price. We set up inspections and since I had my birthday off from work, I thought it was a great day to schedule everything. Don’t do this, EVER! If thing go wrong, you feel like crap on a day you should feel awesome. Also, never offer on a property site unseen. The inspection turned up an issue costing 1/4 of the purchase price to fix. My great deal shot me in the back! On my birthday!

My emotions were high, pregnancy hormones raging, and I had a strong urge to eat my feelings. I learned my lesson. Don’t make ridiculous decisions, like placing offers on a home you haven’t seen and expect no hitch. I pulled it together and sent new properties to Dee. This may seem strange, but this was going to be MY house. If I was finding homes online that I wanted to see, it seemed like common sense to tell Dee. I always found our relationship to be more of a partnership than her working for me. I enjoyed that because I wanted to be an active participant.

We took a Saturday to check out properties on the list. There are three that I recall vividly: One gave Dee the look of fear only a seasoned grandparent can possess; one where a crawl space door literally fell off the wall when I opened it, and one little blue cape. It was perfect! I had always wanted a cape AND it was blue!

We were sold, but it was a short sale. For this house, it was a risk I was willing to take. The sellers accepted our offer and I knew that we would wait on the bank. We went forward with inspections, hoping for the best. Weeks came and went. My due date was approaching…fast!

I needed to nest and get prepared for my new son. The weeks following were never ending. Constantly extending deadlines, wondering what happens next, hoping for good news any day. I was tired, stressed, and really wanted my abdomen back to myself. Dee was there for every freak out I had. She was supportive and really helped turn the craziness into a positive experience.

In mid September my mother and husband decided to move him and my son from my dad’s into my mom and stepdad’s, where we all waited for house news. By October, I had enough. I started looking at available properties online before learning the bank rejected our offer. We quickly regrouped and went to tour another house.

It was wonderful. A small brick ranch like my grandmother’s, in our desired school district, with 2 acres of land. I was elated to find this gem; out of date, having not had a face lift since its build, but great bones. No sooner had we seen it, Baby C showed up. My husband and I decided the little brick ranch was perfect. I called Dee and she came to the hospital for me to sign the offer paperwork the day of Baby C’s arrival. We even took time to document the moment. It was new one for me and I am sure a first for Dee.

Erin and Dee

Erin & Dee with Baby C

As they say – third times a charm! Our offer was accepted and things got moving. Now I focused on getting in the house. My newborn needed a nursery and I wanted my old bed back. My parents were also ready to have a Miller-free household. There was paperwork and approvals as far down as the rabbit hole goes, day in and day out. I worked full-time from home for my maternity leave, needing the income for financing. Let me tell you, doing this while taking care of a newborn is not for the faint at heart. But all of the struggle paid off.

Andy, Dee and Erin at Closing

Andy, Dee and Erin at Closing

We closed in the early part of December and moved out of my parents within 2 days. We were home. After 6 months of living with relatives, new jobs, all of the home buying disappointment and the birth of a newborn, The Millers were home. Just in time for the holidays!

Holidays with The Millers

Holidays with The Millers – Photo courtesy Melissa Duell Photography

Dee was my voice of reason and the person who brought me down a few notches when I was in a panic. Without her, we never would have survived this process. Her guidance taught me some valuable lessons that I hope I bring to the table as a real estate salesperson.

The knowledge I gained through using an agent was priceless. It made the process so much easier to have an advocate. That kind of support can really help you get it right. I will forever be grateful to Dee for being a person I could trust. Just like your real estate salesperson should be for you. It is for those reasons I will always suggest to use a real estate professional for your next home purchase.

Oh! Lastly, should any of your family or friends ever take you and your family in during a reno or a build or when you are in between homes – you owe them massive props. It isn’t easy to double or triple the amount of your human household, let alone double the dogs in your home. Make sure you let them know how much you appreciate it and pitch in what you can while you are there. It will make the rough times a little bit better. Major thanks to my mom and dads for letting us room with you all. ❤

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. Previously she has worked in social media and marketing, with a strong background in customer service. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website at www.homeswitherinmiller.com.

Prepare Your Home For Winter – 10 Things You Should Do

Home In Winter

10 Home Preparation Tips For Winter Weather

Being a homeowner is a great thing – having property you are proud of, a place to entertain or to raise a family. Owning a home gives you a place to plant roots and start a new chapter. However, with the fun and comfort that having a place to call home provides, it is also met with the burden of home ownership. Regular maintenance is a big part of owning a home and there is never a season where there isn’t a project.

With late fall settling in, we can almost feel the cold winter weather knocking on the door. Good news! It isn’t too late to get in some important tasks accomplished to protect your home during the winter months.

Here is a list of 10 things you can do to prepare your home for winter and increase heating efficiency:

  1. Take an inventory of snow removal equipment. Replace any broken shovels and make repairs to snowblowers. Make these items easily accessible in your garage or shed.
  2. Inspect your roof for any leaks of damage from previous seasons. Repair as needed or replace if necessary. Winter weather can cause major damage to a roof, so it is important to keep them in good condition.
  3. Check gutter systems for any damage and repair as needed. The weight from accumulation and subsequent ice can pull gutter systems away from your home. Also remove any debris that may be in gutters and downspouts.
  4. Trim trees and branches to protect your home and electrical wires. Snow can become heavy and break large branches or pull over trees, causing damage to your property or causing power outages. This is common in late fall/early winter when trees may still have leaves.
  5. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected – have any repairs made. This should be done yearly before using your fireplace.
  6. Have your heating system serviced by a professional. This not only ensures efficiency but safety. This is also a good time to fill up on heating fuel (if needed) and to change furnace filters.
  7. Replace screen doors and windows with storms. This will help add a barrier between the elements and your living areas.
  8. Examine windows and doors. Caulk around glass areas, replace weather stripping, and plastic if necessary.
  9. Insulate piping to prevent freezing should a power outage occur.
  10. Install additional or new insulation in attics, basements and crawlspace areas. This will help keep in heat and keep energy costs reasonable.

These simple tasks can help save money and keep your home safe. Winter weather can be harsh, especially in Northeast where just last year Buffalo, NY and Boston, MA saw amazing amounts of snowfall. While no one can predict what mother nature will do, we can do our best to prepare for it.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. Previously she has worked in social media and marketing, with a strong background in customer service. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website at www.homeswitherinmiller.com.