Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate



Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 3/22/2019

It goes without saying that buying a home is time-consuming.

 First, there’s the financial planning to determine when you’re ready to buy a home. Then you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage and start looking for homes. After viewing several homes you finally find the perfect home. Then comes the difficult process of making an offer and negotiating the cost of the home. If all goes well, your offer is accepted and you get to enter the lengthy mortgage closing process. However, your work is not yet done. You’ll have to move out of your current residence and into your new home. All of this while juggling your work and social life.

 After all of this, it might seem like the only thing left to do is relax in your new home. While it may be true that you certainly deserve a break, there are some things you should do sooner rather than later when you move into your new home.

 In this article, we’ll cover ten things you should do right away once you move into your new home.

1. Home security

Your chief consideration when moving into your new home should be making sure it’s safe. The best first step to take is to change all of the locks on your house. In spite of how trustworthy the previous homeowner may have seemed, you can never be 100% sure who had spare keys to their home. Changing locks is quick and inexpensive, especially considering what’s at stake.

Another important step in home security is to put new batteries in and test all smoke detectors, make sure fire extinguishers are up-to-date, and ensure air filters are cleaned.

2. Set up your utilities

One of the first things you have to do when moving into a new home is to call your utility companies and transfer services into your name. Make a list of the services you’ll need to set up (electricity, water, garbage removal, internet, home security, heating, etc.). This is also a good time to set up online accounts and autopay for these services. It will save you time each month and make it easier to keep track of your bills if you simplify this process from the get-go.

3. Self-inspection

You should have already had the home inspected by a professional prior to closing on the house. However, things can change in the time that someone moves all of their belongings out of a home and you move all of yours in. Wiring can be damaged, pipes banged, windows cracked, and so on. Do a thorough inspection of your home to check for leaks, broken wires, and fire hazards to be sure that your home is in good condition.

4. Deep clean

It might be tempting to just move your belongings into their new places once you arrive at your new home. However, the best time to clean a room is when it’s empty. Before you set up your furniture or fill your cabinets, give them a thorough cleaning.

5. Familiarize yourself with circuit breaker and water valves

When disaster strikes, you’ll want to be ready for it. Get to know your circuit box before the first power outage. Store flashlights in easily accessible places and make sure they have fresh batteries. Similarly, familiarize yourself with the main water shutoff valve in case you have a pipe burst. If the former homeowner lived alone and you have a large family, there’s a chance that the sudden surge in power and water usage could reveal issues with plumbing and wiring that the former owner wasn’t aware of.





Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 3/15/2019

Historic homes are coveted by many for their charm. Some want a home with history while others one with “good bones” of bygone construction methods. Whatever your motivations one thing is clear: owning a historic home is a rewarding experience.

This is usually due to the effort, time and investment put into maintaining the home’s old world charm. Those who take on a historic home should be ready for a project in some capacity either right after buying or down the line.

Maintaining, and sticking to, the classic style and shapes while working under stylistic limitations takes time and effort. Be sure that when purchasing a historic home it’s one of an era whose style you really like. This is because many historic homes have what is called an easement in place. What an easement does is dictate what owners of that particular estate can and can not do to the home to maintain its historical integrity. This can limit everything from additions to siding color.

Historic homeowners should also be ready to get creative during the renovation process. Old houses have their quirks, it’s best to embrace this when making changes and to work with them - not against them. Knocking out walls and shaving down flooring to be perfectly symmetrical compromises the entire structure’s historic roots. If you absolutely must have perfect walls and flooring a historic home is probably not for you.

With that said when viewing homes ensure that any crookedness is from settling over time and not from damage to the sill plate. The sill plate is the topmost part of the foundation and especially vulnerable due to this placement along ground level. If there is damage to the sill plate know that the entire structure of the home is also compromised and in need of serious, and expensive, attention. If this is the case, it’s best to walk for most homeowners.

A warped or compromised sill plate can also mean water damage. Another sign to look for water troubles is a sump pump in the basement. You want to keep an eye out for water damage, as this is a very serious threat to the structure and can also attract all kinds of bugs.

If you have your heart set on a historic home but find all of this overwhelming a historic home expert, either a contractor who specializes in historic homes and/or a local historian that restores homes, can help you significantly through the process. In fact, overwhelmed or not it’s best to bring an expert on board during your buying process. This person should be in addition to your home inspector - not in place of. You also want to be sure to find someone who understands that you want to preserve and restore a historical home and not just gut the building.

Plan your budget well. While restoring a home is usually a passion project for many you still don’t want to overinvest and end up taking a huge loss if you eventually resell. Know what restoration projects in your area typically go for and use these as a guideline for your own budget.

Don’t be afraid to start small if you are on a tight budget or this is your first restoration project. These projects can take years so when planning start here first: roof, windows, and masonry. Create a watertight home first to prevent any further potential damage.

The good news about historic homes is that there are plenty of grants and tax programs for homeowners planning on restoration. Not every loan option will be available to you if the home requires major work but there are loans available specifically for major repairs such as the 203k. Know your options before you start looking as this will a major determination factor of your budget and the degree of work you’ll be able to put into a home.





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Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 3/8/2019

Buying a house can be simple, particularly for those who craft a blueprint before they embark on the property buying journey. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft an effective homebuying blueprint.

1. Analyze the Housing Market

The housing market varies in cities and towns across the United States. However, if you analyze the local real estate sector closely, you can map out a successful property buying journey.

Assess the prices of recently sold residences and find out how long these homes were available before they sold. That way, you can determine whether a buyer's or seller's market is in place.

Remember, the more housing market data you review, the more equipped you'll be to understand the current state of the local housing sector. And if you allocate time and resources to analyze housing market data, you can gain the insights you need to make informed decisions throughout the property buying cycle.

2. Establish Homebuying Criteria

Create a list of homebuying criteria – you'll be glad you did. Because once you know what you want to find in your dream home, you can narrow your house search.

As you put together homebuying criteria, think about where you want to reside too. This will enable you to hone your home search to preferred cities and towns.

Don't forget to consider your short- and long-term plans as you craft your homebuying criteria as well. For instance, if your goal is to work in the city, you may want to focus on houses in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you plan to start a family soon, you may want to explore residences near the top schools in your area.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to craft a homebuying blueprint, there is no need to worry. Real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market professionals can help you put together a homebuying plan.

A real estate agent is a housing market expert who is happy to teach you everything you need to know about buying a residence. He or she also will respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions.

In addition, a real estate agent will act as a guide along the homebuying journey. He or she first will learn about your homebuying criteria and goals and help you put together a property buying plan. Next, a real estate agent will help you search for your dream residence and set up property showings. And once you discover a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this home.

For those who want to achieve the optimal results during the property buying journey, it generally is a good idea to create a homebuying blueprint. By using the aforementioned tips, you can craft a homebuying blueprint so you can achieve your desired homebuying results.




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Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 3/1/2019

When you own a home, you take over the landlord responsibilities of maintaining the property. That means you change out the lightbulbs and call the plumber when the drain plugs. Twice a year you faithfully check the smoke detectors and replace their batteries. You even take care of the lawn or hire a professional landscaping service to do it for you. But a few areas need regular attention of which you may be unaware. These sneaky tasks, when left undone, can end up costing a wad of cash down the line.

Schedule service for these items into your life:

  • Gutters and downspouts: Because you can't see into them, you tend to forget that a gutter is just a long trough. In the Fall it fills with leaves and debris that need clearing out so that it can do its job—moving water off your roof and away from your foundation. When the gutters become blocked, water piles up endangering your roof and eaves with water damage. If the water freezes, it may cause an ice dam that will further damage your roof. Debris left in the gutter clogs the drains too, so water can't drain away from the roof. If it overflows and falls near the foundation, the extra water and potential ice can wreak havoc with your home's support structure.
  • Roofs after a storm: If you live in an area prone to thunderstorms or tornados, the resultant hail and wind can damage your roof even if you can't see it. Hail hits the composite shingles causing divots not visible from the ground. If the divots are deep, or if an area gets hit more than once, your roof develops holes that cause leaks. The wind lifts the shingles away from the roof deck. If the shingle bends, it becomes weak and eventually breaks off. At least once a year, and particularly after a major storm, have your roof inspected. Any certified roofer can do this for you, but if you see granules from your roofing tile on the ground, call your insurance adjuster to see if you need a new roof.
  • Water heater: In addition to periodically checking water lines and the thermostat, your water heater needs the sediment drained from the bottom of the tank. Simple to do for standard water heaters, connect a hose to the fixture at the bottom of the tank and drain out some of the water—perhaps five gallons. The sediment resting at the bottom will flow out with the water, and your tank will be more efficient for the next year.
  • Air conditioning condensers: If your A/C is outside, weeds and vines may grow into the fins, blocking the airflow and causing the unit to overhead. Keep all plants and debris away from the unit. Protect if from animals too as shedding animal hairs can clog the grate. On the inside, change the filter monthly for best results and to keep your ducts free from dust and lint.

Owning a home is a wonderful responsibility to take seriously so that your forever home lasts you forever. If you are not able to carry out these inspections yourself, seek the assistance of certified contractors to help you.




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Posted by Fitzgerald and Associates Real Estate on 2/22/2019

Making your own compost for your garden is a rather straightforward process that won’t cost a lot of money but will offer you some great returns. Basically, home composting is all about turning your regular kitchen waste into a rich additive for your garden. If done the right way, you won’t have to deal with any smell or messiness through the process. 

To make the composting process go smoothly, you will need to pay attention to 3 things:

  1. A good composting container. A container will help you hold all the decomposing material that you are going to use. It doesn't have to be extra fancy or attractive; it just needs to be able to keep all the materials together while the bacteria do their work. The kind of bin that works is one that retains both heat and moisture as they are essential to the process. You can purchase a compost bin from any gardening store near you. Remember to situate your compost container in the sun, so it gets maximum heat.
  2. The right mixture of ingredients. You are looking for a combination of both brown and green plant material along with some moisture so the bacteria can get to work in a conducive atmosphere. Use items like newspapers, dry leaves and wood shavings, kitchen waste and grass cuttings to start the compost. Other things that should go in your compost bin include fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, straw, and wood. Some items are not good composting materials because they cause pests to gather. Avoid things like meat, fish, and dairy products as they will attract rats and raccoons to your compost bin. Also, avoid diseased plant materials as they will transfer bacteria to the soil when used eventually. Also, avoid animal feces. Always add even layers of green and brown materials for excellent balance and an even flow of moisture.
  3. Composting proper. Add water to the compost pile regularly. You are aiming for the consistency of a wet sponge so be careful not to add too much water. Keep turning the compost pile with a pitchfork every two weeks to make sure the process is going on as expected. The mix should always be warm, around 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Final use. You know your compost is ready to add to your garden when it no longer gives off heat. Then you can apply about 5 inches of compost to your garden and flower pots.

Following these simple steps will help you develop your own compost for use in your garden.




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