Got Lint? Clean Your Dryer Vent

Dryer Vent Lint

Lint From A Dryer Vent

There were big gray clumps of lint and this is only 1/4 of what was removed from the clothes dryer vent!   Ironic, since the dryer vent had recently been cleaned out in a do-it-yourself project, which apparently had not worked.  The duct work is a fairly long line, which makes it even more difficult for a do-it-yourself job.

Bel-Red Energy Solutions* cleaned out my dryer vent which was loaded with lint, even though I thought it had been cleaned out weeks before. Dryers are among the major causes of house fires.

Check the vent on the outside your home to see if the air flow is moving well.  Do this on a regular basis. You’ll know if the air flow becomes weak, which is a good indication of blockage in the vent line.  Here are some other warning signs from

  • Clothes take longer and longer to dry;
  • Clothes don’t fully dry;
  • Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle;
  • The outside of dryer gets very hot;
  • The outside exhaust vent flapper does not open very much indicating low exhaust velocity;
  • Laundry room becomes more humid than it is usually;
  • Burnt smell is evident in the laundry room.

So mark your calendar.  Have your dryer vent cleaned regularly  to eliminate a fire hazard.  Do-it yourself systems may work for some duct lines, particularly if the dryer duct line is short.  I was impressed, however, by the motor Bel-Red brought along to power the hose that cleaned out the vents.  That puppy really sucked the lint out of the vent.

Here are some more tips on dryer vent cleaning, maintenance and safety.

And the silver lining in all this? A dryer vent that works more efficiently will save you money on your monthly utility bill.

*As always, choose your contractor wisely. Check out any contractor you hire.   Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured.  Obtain recommendations from other clients and check the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and other resources.

Posted on June 29, 2010 at 7:38 am
The Beaupain Team | Category: For Buyers, For Homeowners, For Sellers, Home maintenance tips | Tagged , , ,

Make More Money Selling Your Home, Part 4, Dress Up the Front Door

You’re a home buyer out looking at homes. You pull in front of a home that looks kind of interesting.  You stand by the front door as your agent gets the key out of the key box to open the door.  You look around the entrance and notice dirt and scuff marks on the front door.  The brass plate is all tarnished, there are scratches by the key hole and the door mat is dirty.  It looks like there’s been years of wear and tear and you haven’t even been inside. 

A dirty front door and scratched hardware is not a big deal, or is it?

Buyers, what do you think?

Tarnished door handle

Tarnished front door handle

Dinged front door key hole

Scratched front door key hole

I heard from past buyers that it raises a lot of questions. Mostly, the buyer is wondering how well the home has been maintained if something so obvious sticks out when you first walk up.    Will this buyer be taking a closer look at the house?  Will the buyer start wondering if there might be maintenance issues.  Possibly.

A nice front door and shiny hardware make a big difference. It keeps the level of positive energy and interest up.  It’s like seeing a blind date for the first time, you want that person to look good from the “get go,”  not with messy hair or dirty clothing.

Dressing up the entrance to a home for sale

A Beautiful Front Door Creates a Great First Impression

Put flowering plants by the front door to dress it up

Flowers By The Front Door Add a Nice Touch

So home sellers, stand out in front of your home by the front door, just as a buyer would.  Look at what the buyer would be looking at when standing at the front of your home.

  • Is your front door dirty?
  • Is it in need of paint?
  • Is the hardware gleaming and fresh or is it scratched?
  • Are the railings in good shape?
  • Are the steps neat and clean?
  • Do you have flowers providing color by the front door?
  • Is the doormat, fresh and clean?
  • Do the house numbers look clean and stand out?

None of the fixes for the above should cost a lot of money.  It can actually cost you more money if these items are not in good condition. Here are some more suggestions for creating that great curb appeal.

So before you sell your home, think of it like getting ready for a date or going to a party hoping to meet someone.  In this case, your home is meeting a potential buyer.  The buyer has a lot of options to choose from, like you might at a party.  Help the buyer to choose your home by getting it ready for the party, oops, I mean to sell.

Posted on April 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: For Sellers, Home maintenance tips, Make More Money Selling Your Home, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion | Tagged , , , , , ,

Make More Money Selling Your Home, Part 3, Clean Up Your Yard

Want to Make the Most Money Selling Your Home?  Clean up your yard. I spoke about planting flowers previously, now I’ll talk about having your yard looking good.

Bad looking lawn

Unsightly looking lawn hurts a home sale.

You’ve heard of a “bad dye job”?  This is a bad lawn job.  This lawn exists in front of home for sale, a home that has a sign in front of it!  Seriously.

If you were a buyer, what would you think?  Would this lawn make you question how well the home is maintained?  Would you question whether the owners cared for their home?  It leaves a terrible impression.

Preparing for your lawn when you're selling your home

A green lawn that's ready to go

This is the front yard of another home.  The yard is not fancy, but it looks well taken care of, creating a nice first impression. It doesn’t raise any red flags about maintenance, but instead helps a buyer focus positively on the home, rather than creating a negative feeling from the “get go.”   Help buyers get out of their car to see your home.  Make them want to come inside, not drive away.

Unkempt corner of a yard

A yard should not look like this when selling a home

The yard above should look more like the one below.  Some homeowners neglect the little back corners of a yard.  There can be some simple, inexpensive fixes, which make the corners of the yard look neat and organized.  Gravel, bark, and some edging, whether it’s bricks or stones or something else, give it a finished, neat feel.  None of these materials cost a lot of money.  They can be somewhat labor intensive, so the choice would be to pay for it and do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.  It would depend on your budget, time, and energy. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, this video form the DIY network gives some basic tips for ‘greening”  your lawn.

This yard helps to sell the home

A Nicely Organized Corner of the Yard

Regardless, you need to clean up your yard to make the most “green” when selling your home.

Posted on April 16, 2010 at 12:14 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: For Buyers, For Sellers, Home maintenance tips, Real Estate | Tagged , , ,

Fixing Up Your Home to Sell? Call Your Real Estate Agent First.

Getting ready to sell your home and needing to get it in show condition? There was a great article filled with tips on what to fix to get your home ready in last week’s Seattle Times. But there was one important thing I disagreed with in the article.

So before you call a real-estate agent, go over the property to determine what needs to be repaired or possibly replaced. Make a list of both major and minor jobs. Tackle big projects first.

I disagree, call your Real Estate agent first!  Why?   Because your agent can help you with this list, saving you time and money.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

I’ll never forget the time an excited client called me to list their home.  They’d spent several months preparing their home for sale.  Teal blue carpet greeted me when the front door was opened.  My heart sank. It was brand new carpet. They were so proud of it.  They just loved the color.  Unfortunately, this carpet color was the number one complaint I heard from buyers and other agents.  Buyers didn’t love the teal blue.  It took a lot longer to sell the house because of the carpet color, costing the sellers time and money with the sale of their home.

I could give other examples, but the point is a seasoned real estate professional who’s out working with buyers on a regular basis will be in a position to tell you what needs to be done.  Since agents are out seeing homes all over Seattle’s eastside and work with both buyers and sellers, they’ll know what’s expected in the marketplace. Buyers will need to be excited about your home, see it as fresh and ready, and a good value in order to buy.  The agent can help you establish what the right amount of repairs and remodeling is so to meet the expectation of your local real estate market and the local buyers.  You don’t want to overdue it nor do you want to “under do” it either.   You don’t want to replace your bathroom vanity, as an example, if you don’t need to do so.  Maybe a dimensional formica or engineered granite will work in your home instead of granite.  Maybe you don’t need to do a complete kitchen remodel, but new appliances will do the trick. The goal is to have your home looking “mahvalous” as Billy Crystal would say, by only doing the things that really should be done.

Your agent will help you develop a list of the important things that must be done down to the “it would be nice to be done” category.  By doing so, the real estate agent will help you spend your money wisely. A good agent will know some of what an inspector, appraiser, and a buyer will expect to be done. It’s impossible to know everything, since not all things are visible and every home and buyer are different, but a real estate agent can add quite a lot from past experience.  They’ll have a list of skilled contractors who show up on time and do the job right.  Your real estate agent may also know contractors who are more reasonably priced who could do the job.

If you don’t already have an established relationship with an agent, interview agents right away.  Establish a working relationship with the agent you select to represent you.  Expect this agent to be your home advisor from the “get go,” well before the buying public knows you want to sell. The agent should spend time helping you create your repair list, making contractor and materials suggestions, and provide general advice about the local real estate market.  This should all happen well before you go on the real estate market and the “For Sale” sign is posted in your yard.

Posted on March 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: For Homeowners, For Sellers, Home maintenance tips, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion, Real World Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

Latest Cost Effective New Products for Your Home Remodel

A big part of my job as a Realtor is to help home sellers prepare their homes for the market by giving people ways to add value to their home so they’ll get the highest sales price. I’m constantly looking for different and cost effective ways to give sellers options for updating a home. I also encourage past clients to contact me when thinking of remodeling, so I like to keep up with the latest home remodeling ideas.

The Styled, Staged, and Sold blog discusses “hot home products for 2010.” Their list of favorite new home products had great ideas for remodeling, safety, energy savings tips, and locks that can’t be bumped.

Did you know most locks on the doors to your home can be “bumped”open?

Not something you want to have happen with your home.   I first heard about locks that can’t be bumped open when a client of mine told me about changing the locks on her home.   Her  home security alarm had gone off 4 times.   She thought it was time to upgrade her home’s door locks to the bump proof variety.

Home locks that cannot be bumped

After hearing about this situation from my client and reading about unbumpable locks online, I thought I’d pass this information on.   In reading about unbumpable locks, I also learned the brand of “bump-proof” lock you buy for your home should be checked out to make sure it’s truly “bump proof.”

The blog post also talls about some other interesting home products. I really like the metal tiles that could be used as a kitchen backsplash. The tiles come in brushed nickel, bronze, and copper finishes. They looked really cool and could dress up a kitchen for not a lot of money.

The inexpensive crown moldings sounded like they could be a great way to dress up a room.

Stainless steel paint? It sounds like it could be a terrific way to go, but I’m having trouble picturing  paint looking like smooth, cool stainless steel.  I’d love to know if this really works.

Has anyone tried it?  If it does work, it would be a great thing.

Check these home products and remodeling tips out.  Let me know if you try any of the items. I’d love to be able to tell people about experiences you’ve had with these products or other cost effective remodeling ideas.

And while you are at it, change your locks!

Posted on February 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: Architecture, For Homeowners, For Sellers, Home maintenance tips, Real Estate, Remodeling and style trends | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Top Ten Structural Items to Check When Preparing Your Home For Sale

Since I’ve been busy telling people now is the time to sell a home if planning to sell in 2010, I thought I’d bring up a friendly reminder about some of the top things to do around your home before you go on the market.  This is by no means a complete list, but it focuses on some of the most obvious structural items both buyers and building inspectors will notice about a home.  This list also is separate from a list of strictly cosmetic suggestions such as updating carpet and flooring or painting walls.  Many blog posts could be written about the items you should check when preparing your home for sale, but this list is a good start.

Here’s my top ten list, with an added #11 thrown in because I’m dealing with it right now:

1. The Condition of roof – Does it need to be cleaned?  Repaired?  Replaced?

2. Earth/wood contact – Be sure all soil is 4 – 6 inches away from siding, planter boxes, decks, skirting, posts, etc.

Check any earth to wood contact on the side of a house

Pull any dirt or bark away from the siding so you can see the foundation wall

3. Deck material rotted?  Railings, steps, deck boards, joists, beams, etc.?

This is not a deck that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Check all deck boards and supports

4. Electrical – Non professional work?  Panel breakers match wire size?   Non grounded outlets?
5. Handrails  Are they secured to wall?  Are they installed where they should be?

Make sure there's s a sturdy railing so no one goes sailing down the stairs

6. Shower tile grout and sealant conditions?

Does the grout look clean and fresh?

7.  Condition of the bathroom floors at tub/shower and toilet?

check out the bath and tub grout

Check the floor for soft spots, clean, regrout, and reseal

8. Smoke detectors?  Are they working?  Do they need batteries?

9. Furnace     Has the furnace been serviced recently?  Does the filter need cleaning or replacement?

Your furnace must be a clean machine

10.   Crawl space?   Is there moisture in crawl space? Is a vapor barrier installed?  Ventilation adequate?  Wood scraps or debris which needs to be removed?

11.  My new personal favorite is to check your chimney and fireplace.    Hire a professional if you have not had your chimney checked or serviced.  Make sure  it is safe to use.  (I’m having some fun doing this now and will fill you in at a later date as to what is involved.)

If you want to get more into it, check the home builder’s inspection checklist or the list from the American Home Inspectors Directory

What other things should be checked out before a home goes on the market?

Posted on January 29, 2010 at 11:05 am
The Beaupain Team | Category: For Buyers, For Sellers, Home maintenance tips, Real Estate, Real Estate Tips | Tagged , , , , ,