If you’re planning a vacation on any extended period of time while you’ll be away from home, it’s important to take necessary steps to ensure that your home is properly secure.
Give the Appearance That You’re Actually Home
In this day and age, thankfully, we do have ways to make it look like someone is home even if they actually aren’t. Taking steps like setting times on lights, radios, and televisions so they have turn off and on automatically may be an affective way to deter criminals from breaking into your home. Now, we’re not saying you need go all out “Kevin-McAllister-style”, but making your home look occupied is definitely smart. Additionally, you should cut your grass before you head out on your vacation and, if you have more than one car, park it in your driveway. Another option is having one of your friends or neighbors park their car their while you’re gone. Window blinds and curtains should positioned normally. Do you best to keep expensive furniture or home appliances out of plain sight.
Lock Your Doors
As is the case whenever you leave your home, you should always lock up. Don’t forget to also close your garage.
Be Mindful of What You Share on Social Media
We live in a day and age where sharing photos and videos online is the norm. Everything from Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter, we’ve become very comfortable with posting what we do in our daily lives on the internet. Though this can be fun to do with close friends and family members, you’re taking a risk every time you do this because it’s a way for criminals to become incentivized to break into your home while you’re away.
In order to prevent burglars from knowing you’re away, be sure to change your privacy settings on your social media platforms to private or share them with your friends only.
Get Help From Your Neighbors
Telling a trusted friend or neighbor about your plans to be on vacation may be another option you’d want to consider. It’s good to have an extra set of eyes of someone whom you trust to be on the lookout for anything unusual surrounding your home. Providing them with a spare key is also something you can do.
Install Security Cameras or Alarms
Having security cameras in or around your home is an effective way to deter criminals from breaking into your home. After all, if they do, it’ll be much easier to track them down if they attempt to flee the scene because you’ll have a detailed image of them on camera. You may also be eligible for certain discounts on your home insurance if you do have either security alarms or cameras. Talk to you one of our experienced agents for details on this.
Remove Your Spare Key
We’ve all tried to think of clever places to hide our spare keys. It may just be easier to remove that worry from your mind altogether by removing your spare key or entrusting it to a friend or neighbor while you’re gone.
Unplug All Appliances
To prevent fires or possible power surges, consider unplugging all of your electronics and/or appliances while you’re away from home. Be sure to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and make sure they are functioning properly before you go on vacation. Although accidental fire is covered under your home insurance policy, it’s best to avoid that headache in the first place by having a fire extinguisher easily accessible.
Have you ever been curious about what it would take to increase the value of your home? There are several steps you can take to make your home more valuable. Not everyone will have the same reasons for doing this and that’s okay. Whether you are planning to add little ones to your family, having a family member move in with you, or just want to simply do something that will add some extra value to your home for resale purposes, there are several steps you can take to do just that.
Make It More Attractive
One of the best ways to have your house get more attention from potential buyers is by making it catch the eyes of people who drive by. Whether it’s beautiful landscaping with blossoming flower bushes, or a freshly painted front door, your house will get more attention if you take the time to improve its exterior.
Two of the most used rooms in a house are the kitchen and the bathroom. Therefore, it would be wise to put in the necessary time to make these two places look as attractive as possible. You don’t have to break the bank for a remodel either. On average, basic kitchen remodels recover 81% of its cost in added value while more elaborate ones that have stone countertops, state-of-art appliances, and custom cabinets recuperate 53%.
It’s a similar story when it comes to remodeling bathrooms. If you’re putting in new flooring and updating some fixtures, as opposed to mustering up cash for a more upscale remodel, if you’re more concerned about getting a better return on your investment, it’s best to take the conservative approach with the remodel. Heated floors, custom cabinets, and designer fixtures have a 56% return on investment as opposed to 70% for a midrange remodel.
Make It Low Maintenance
If you want potential buyers to be excited about the prospect of owning your home, consider making repairs to the property to take that burden off of them. By doing this, you may be justifying that potentially higher listing price.
In addition to replacing old water heaters or air conditioning systems, consider replacing the carpet floors with hardwood flooring. If you don’t want to replace the floors with hardwood, a composite material is easier to maintain and clean than carpet. It’s also cheaper.
Make It More Efficient
Depending on the area in which you live, updating your home to make it more energy-efficient may prove to be a wise choice if you’re looking to sell.
Consider double-paned windows, enhanced attic insulation, LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances in order to increase your home’s value. This could also prove as an effective way to make your home more attractive to energy-conscious buyers.
Solar Panels tend to prove effective in the long run when it comes to increasing the value of a home. However, if you’re looking for a quick boost in sale price, you may want to choose not to proceed with installing solar panels since they tend to be more costly. Additionally, installing them can be challenging.
Make It Bigger
Increase your square footage. It tends to have an enormous positive impact on a home’s value. Converting a room you’re not using into an additional bedroom or finishing a basement or building a deck are all good ways toad value to your home.
Make It Smarter
Everyone wants to feel safe inside their homes, especially those who have small children. Devices such as thermostats, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, door locks, and enhanced lighting all help to make homeowners feel safer.
Although having these devices inside your home may not add value in terms of cash, it does make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Installing these devices is also a lot cheaper than replacing a roof or renovating a bathroom.
On April 1st, Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed the month of April as Maryland’s Flood Awareness Month. And for good reason. Each year, floods are responsible for more deaths than any other natural disaster.
As it is predicted that storms are going to increase in both frequency and intensity over time, the necessity and importance of obtaining flood insurance is becoming even more essential.
Governor Hogan’s Administration is joining forces with the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the Maryland Insurance Administration, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Environmental Service, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and the Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers in an effort to encourage residents of Maryland to learn more about the various flood hazards they could face.
Maryland’s bays and tributaries are subject to flooding after either short periods of heavy rain or prolonged steady rain. Additionally, hurricanes and tropical storms can cause tidal flooding.
Flood Insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), not specifically though any particular insurance carrier or provider. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood insurance; it needs to be purchased separately. It is important to note that flood insurance policies can be purchased from an insurance carrier under contract with FEMA.
You may be wondering what exactly is covered under a flood insurance policy. If disaster strikes and your home is flooded, it can help cover: your home and its foundation, your electrical and plumbing systems, air conditioning equipment, furnaces and heaters, appliances i.e. washers and dryers, refrigerators and stoves. It can also cover damage to your personal possessions like your clothing, furniture and electronic equipment. Under a typical flood insurance policy, your personal property is only covered on an actual cash value basis. The maximum coverage amount for a flood insurance policy is $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for the contents of the home.
When you buy a flood insurance policy, it is also important to remember that there is a waiting period of 30 days before your flood policy takes effect. Do not wait until you need it to get it.
Without a flood insurance policy, relief from damage caused by flooding usually comes in the form of loans. If your area is deemed a disaster area, the federal government may provide no-interest or low-interest loans as an effort to assist in the recovery process. You are still responsible for paying these loans back out of your own pocket. Having a flood insurance policy in place just in case a disaster strikes could protect you against possible financial ruin.
As stated earlier, there is a waiting period of 30 days before a flood insurance policy goes into effect, so it is best to get the ball rolling towards obtaining a policy sooner rather than later.
Winter weather has the potential to cause serious damage to our lawns. Frigid temperatures reek havoc on grass, plants, and flowers. With spring comes warmer weather and conditions in which lawns and foliage can really flourish if properly tended to. Caring for your lawn in spring is not difficult and regular attention to your lawn may prove to be exactly what your lawn needs in order to be in tip-top shape throughout the season. Your lawn may just end up being the envy of the neighborhood.
If you want to have an immaculate lawn for spring, follow these easy, important steps:
Tune up your lawn mower: Everything from changing the oil, air filter and spark plug, making sure that your mower is clean will ensure that it is functioning properly.
Spend some time raking: When it comes to preparing your lawn for new growth, the first step you should take is to rake. Raking helps break up something called thatch: the layer of dead turfgrass lying between the healthy vegetation of the grass above and the root system and soil underneath. If this layer becomes too thick, it can pose problems for your grass.
In addition to raking in the fall, do not become complacent and ignore your lawn in the spring time. In fact, because winter weather can cause so many damage to your lawn, it is especially important to rake in the spring in order to remove all of the dead blades of grass from the winter. Another benefit of raking is that it may help to prevent something snow mold, which is a lawn disease that makes it extremely difficult for new, healthy grass to penetrate the diseased areas. Raking can fix this.
Get a Lawn Aerator. A lawn aerator creates openings in the turf which allows both water and air to get through the soil and reach the grassroots. It is important to note that spring may not be the ideal time to do this because aeration holes provide a perfect opportunity for weeds to grow. You don’t want to spend your spring cleaning up all of those weeds that could potentially damage your lawn.
Assess your Soil
Grass likes a neutral pH level. So, if you ever see moss coating the ground, it may be a sign of acidic soil which can be neutralized by adding ground limestone. This process does take some time as the liming holds gradually.
If your lawn has a lot of bare patches due to consistent heavy traffic, it may be in need of grass seed. Grass seed will help your grass grow more efficiently. Once you pour seed over existing grass, apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Once the grass germinates (typically after 5 weeks), apply quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.
Although it is important to fertilize, you want to be careful when you do it. Too much fertilizer in spring may lead to disease and problems with weeds. Many lawn experts recommend a lighter feeding in the spring and a heavier feed in the fall.
Apply Postemergent Herbicides (Or Pull Weeds)
If you do not want to spend a lot of time and energy pulling weeds, consider applying a postemergent herbicide to kill your weeds. It is more effective to use one for broadleaf weeds. Do this in the fall rather than the spring. However, reaching down to the root of the problem by weeding may prove to be more effective long-term.