Even if you’ve never purchased a home before, you’ve probably heard the term “spring market.”
Traditionally, the warmer months were thought of as the only time to get into the real estate market, but that’s not always the case.
If you’re looking to buy a home without all the heat of a potential bidding war, here’s 3 main reasons why this winter just might be the best time to buy:
1. Sellers are more motivated
Calendars become packed around the holidays. Between social events and familial obligations, very few of us would want to add yet another thing to our already busy schedules — especially something as important as selling your home.
As a buyer, you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
Sellers who are willing to market their home during the winter usually need to move right away.
These sellers are moving for a reason — a new job, a progressing relationship, or a family emergency — that’s so important they’re willing to inconvenience themselves during the busiest time of year.
It stands to reason that, if they’re willing to compromise their time, they’ll probably be willing to negotiate on price, too.
While your real estate agent is ultimately the best person to help you decide how to make an offer based on your current market, it’s something to think about.
If coming in under budget is your top priority, buying in the wintertime is probably your best bet.
2. The house’s true colors come out
Let’s be honest: everything looks better on a sunny summer day.
The reason why most agents encourage their clients to sell during spring & summer is because it’s literally the best possible light.
You’re seeing properties in their prime — the most natural light, neutral temperatures, and landscaping in full bloom.
In the winter, sellers don’t have that advantage.
Buyers will know if the heat isn’t working correctly. They’ll know if certain windows are drafty, and with less daylight, there’s more of a chance buyers will see a property after dark.
As the buyer, you should always go into showings with a discerning eye, but shopping around in the wintertime can help make potential deal breakers seem more apparent.
If you’re buying in a cold, rainy, or snowy spot, you’ll want to give extra consideration to some winter-specific details about the home.
How much shoveling, if any, will need to be done if there’s snow? Will you need to contract with someone to bring in oil? Is the house drafty or well-insulated and seale?
Make note of these factors so they can weigh into your decision making process.
3. There’s less competition
Since spring is the dominant time to buy, there might be another unforeseen advantage: less competition.
Many buyers take the “wait until spring” approach and get started with the masses.
Whether it’s kickstarting a New Year’s resolution or timing a house hunt around the kids’ school year, you can bet that the market will be its most crowded in springtime, which means you’ll be fighting over inventory with everyone else who had the same idea.
While inventory can be more limited in the winter, so can the number of potential buyers you’ll be competing against.
Sellers will be grateful to have someone willing to brave the ice, snow, or chill (if you live in that sort of climate) to come see the property.
And since there are fewer interested parties, there’s less of a chance you’ll have to deal with a high-stress multiple offer situation.
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In his latest segment, “The Deacon of Real Estate” Alex Deacon discusses the best time of the year to buy real estate! Everyone has an opinion, but what do the numbers say? Does your market’s inclement weather or busy summers affect the supply and demand? Alex breaks down those questions, and much, much more!
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Virtual Bus Tour of Current and past rehabs
Saturday, Nov 10, 2018, 10:00 AM
Hampton Inn Bridgeville 150 Old Pond Rd Bridgeville, pa
28 Members Attending
We have done a few actual bus tours in the past but with the strong turnout I dont like to have to turn down folks due to the high volume of requests. Our next workshop in November we will do a virtual tour of some current and past projects and show you where to spend your money wisely and where you can and cant cut corners in order to stay profita…
Accomplishments, even little ones, go a long way toward a sunny outlook. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy, quick home repair chores you can do when you’re mired in the thick of winter. For max efficiency, make a to-do list ahead of time and shop for all the tools and supplies in one trip. On your work days, put the basics in a basket and carry it from room to room, checking off completed tasks as you speed through them.
What to Look (and Listen) For
In each room, look around and take stock of what needs fixing or improving. Focus on small, quick-hit changes, not major redos. Here are some likely suspects:
Sagging towel rack or wobbly toilet tissue holder.
Unscrew the fixture and look for the culprit. It’s probably a wimpy, push-in type plastic drywall anchor. Pull that out (or just poke it through the wall) and replace it with something more substantial.
Squeaky door hinges.
Eliminate squeaks by squirting a puff of powdered graphite alongside the pin where the hinge turns. If the door sticks, plane off a bit of the wood, then touch up the paint so the surgery isn’t noticeable.
Creaky floor boards.
They’ll shush if you fasten them down better. Anti-squeak repair kits feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal. A low-cost alternative: Dust a little talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet…the talcum acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other.
Rusty shutoff valves.
Check under sinks and behind toilets for the shutoff valves on your water supply lines. These little-used valves may slowly rust in place over time, and might not work when you need them most. Keep them operating by putting a little machine oil or WD-40 on the handle shafts. Twist the handles back and forth to work the oil into the threads. If they won’t budge, give the oil a couple of hours to penetrate, and try again.
Blistered paint on shower ceilings.
This area gets a lot of heat and moisture that stresses paint finishes. Scrape off old paint and recoat, using a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Also, be sure everyone uses the bathroom vent when showering to help get rid of excess moisture.
Loose handles or hinges on furniture, cabinets, and doors.
You can probably fix these with a few quick turns of a screwdriver. But if a screw just spins in place, try making the hole fit the screw better by stuffing in a toothpick coated with glue, or switching to a larger screw.
You know those routine safety checks you keep meaning to do but never have the time? Now’s the time.
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
If you don’t like waking up to the annoying chirp of smoke detector batteries as they wear down, do what many fire departments recommend and simply replace all of them at the same time once a year.
Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.
You’re supposed to test them once a month, but who does? Now’s a great time. You’ll find them around potentially wet areas…building codes specify GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and for outdoor receptacles. Make sure the device trips and resets correctly. If you find a faulty outlet, replace it or get an electrician to do it for $75 to $100.
Exhaust filter for the kitchen stove.
By washing it to remove grease, you’ll increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent; plus, if a kitchen stove top fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.
Clothes dryer vent.
Pull the dryer out from the wall, disconnect the vent pipe, and vacuum lint out of the pipe and the place where it connects to the machine. Also, wipe lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opens and closes easily. (You’ll need to go outside for that, but it’s quick.) Remember that vents clogged with old dryer lint are a leading cause of house fires.
Inspect your clothes washer, dishwasher, and ice maker. If you see any cracks or drips, replace the hose so you don’t come home to a flood one day.
Replace any that are brittle, cracked, or have damaged plugs. If you’re using extension cords, see if you can eliminate them. For example, replacing that too-short lamp cord with one that’s longer. If you don’t feel up to rewiring the lamp yourself, drop it off at a repair shop as you head out to shop for your repair materials. It might not be ready by the end of the day. But, hey, one half-done repair that you can’t check off is no big deal, right?
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Home exterior upkeep has gone from mowers and hoses to rakes and ladders. No other outside component of your house is as susceptible to the conditions of autumn than your gutters. Leaves, twigs, rain, and low temperatures are locked and loaded and ready to put your gutter system to the test. Now that it’s the last week of October and you’ve procrastinated enough, it’s time to officially prepare your gutters for the season!
CLEAN AND INSPECT
The first rule of fall season gutter preparedness is clean and inspect. Unravel your garden hose one last time before it’s tucked into the garage until spring and flush out your gutters and downspouts. Give it a high pressure hosing and then put on your outdoor work gloves to pick up and wipe away any remaining debris. If it’s been a long time since you’ve cleaned your gutters you will want to fill up a bucket with warm water and liquid dish soap and wipe them down with a sturdy sponge. Only when your gutters have been thoroughly cleaned can you perform a proper inspection. The reason for the subsequent inspection? To check for loose brackets/screws, uneven sections, leaks, or any form of excessive wear and tear.
REPAIR WHERE NEEDED
Once you’ve cleaned and inspected your gutters you will have a good idea of where repair is essential. This can’t wait. Buy exact-fit brackets and screws and then replace and secure them where needed. If you’ve uncovered leaks, it may be possible to patch them. For good measure, clean the area surrounding the leak again, but this time using a wire brush and water, then scrub with an abrasive pad once it has dried. Apply plastic roofing cement over the hole with a putty knife while smoothing out the edges of the cement. If the hole is too big, you can apply a strip of aluminum flashing to the area, and seal the edges with the cement. If the repairs are significant enough that they have impacted the appearance of your gutters you can always paint them when the weather forecast permits.
KEEP COLD WEATHER INTRUDERS OUT
Autumn doesn’t just bring falling leaves and rainfall, its cold snap sends rodents (mice, rats, squirrels and raccoons) packing for higher ground. The cozy beds presented by your concave gutters and downspout exit points gives them a place to nest. Pay a visit to your local home and garden store for humane rodent repellent and check your gutters often through the season to ensure they are free from nesting intruders.
INSTALL GUTTER GUARDS
No matter how well you’ve trimmed your trees and raked the yard leaves will still find their way on to your roof. It’s what they do. If you don’t yet have them, autumn is prime time to finally install gutter guards. A gutter guard, is a fitted screen with pinpoints wide enough to allow rainwater to collect within and funnel through while preventing leaves and twigs from entering. A sound leaf protection system will accommodate both vinyl and aluminum gutters, will be maintenance-free, and can be installed on your existing system by a professional without hassle to you, the homeowner.
WHEN IN DOUBT…INSTALL A NEW GUTTER SYSTEM
Ok, so this isn’t the answer for everyone. However, if your inspection, cleaning, and attempts at repair may have hinted that your gutters need replacing in the near future. If that’s the case, then it may as well be now. Delaying the inevitable and waiting another year or two can spell big trouble. One harsh autumn storm could deal the final blow that results in significant gutter damage, damage that will impact your landscape, home exterior, and worse…the interior. The good news, is that you are entering the best season to make your decision on a new system.
Depending upon the height of your roof and exposure to foliage (trees in close proximity) a new standard system may be all that you need to get you through numerous autumns to come. A 5 or 6-inch continuous or eavestrough system can be professionally mounted on your fascia board with relative ease and in time for autumn’s first bite. A 5-inch fascia or eavestrough gutter system (for roofing without a fascia board) can also be installed with minimum turnaround time. Don’t delay your installation…contact a professional as soon as possible, before the weather catches up with the calendar!
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Winter storms aren’t uncommon in the Northeast and here in Pittsburgh. One prime example is the massive storm of 2010, known as Snowmageddon.
Now in its eighth anniversary, folks are still reminiscing about the February 2010 storm that wreaked havoc in cities from the West Coast to the East Coast, but most notably the Mid-Atlantic. The storm caused more than 40 fatalities, including deaths in Mexico as well as the United States.
Pittsburgh was the first major city to experience part of the nor’easter’s heaviest snow, raking in 11.4 inches on Feb. 5 and an additional 9.7 inches on the 6th (that’s 21.1 inches in two days)!
Three days later, almost 8 more inches of snow fell over a two-day span.
Snowmageddon is currently ranked as the fourth largest snowstorm on record, just behind the March blizzard of 1993 in which 25.3 inches of snow fell.
The 2010 storm dropped heavy and wet snow on cities across the state, which caused more damage to trees and power lines compared to the infamous blizzard of 1993. Power was out for thousands of people in southwestern Pennsylvania for a week or more.
In the end, the city of Pittsburgh spent several weeks clearing out. The cost of the clean-up from Snowmageddon, as well as the storm immediately following, added up to more than $5 million.
There are two kinds of home winterization tips. The first variety often involves spending a load of money to upgrade your energy efficiency. While definitely worthwhile and timely, these fixes can still be very costly (think adding insulation, getting a new energy efficient furnace, energy efficient windows, etc.).
The other variety of home winterizing tips focus on the things that you can do on a weekend afternoon for very little money (or free) with a little bit of elbow grease. The cost savings of doing such work generally comes in the form of preventing costly fix-it repairs that come from neglect. Since the weather in the Steel City will probably fluctuate for the next 3 or 4 months, take advantage of one of the more temperate days we have coming and keep your home warm for the rest of winter!
Clean Out Your Gutters
Gutters that are dammed up with leaves can result in ice dams, which can lead to all kinds of costly outdoor repairs (damaged shingles, roof leaks, broken gutters, etc). Additionally, if your gutters are clogged up, water could be falling right next to your foundation and leads to possible flooding in the basement.
Drain Your External Faucets
Water that is sitting in pipes that lead to outside faucets can freeze and burst, ultimately flooding your basement and leading to possible water damage and mold problems. Simply close off the interior faucet valves by turning them clockwise all the way to the right. Then go outside and make sure that every last drop has come out of the faucet.
Search for drafts around windows and doors on a cold windy day. Place a tissue paper over the suspected draft area. If the paper flutters, you’ve probably located the draft. For drafts under doors, you may have to buy a rubber draft stopper to place at the bottom of the door.
Repair Your Shingles
If you have cracked, missing, or otherwise damaged shingles, have them replaced immediately so that you don’t get roof leaks. Strong winds, falling tree limbs, and sun weathering can all lead to damaged shingles. You might as well check them out while you’re up on your roof cleaning out your gutters.
Flush Your Hot Water Heater
You can flush a hot water heater any time of year, but you might as well throw it in with the other maintenance work you’ll be doing since you really only need to do it about once a year. If you don’t, sediment can build up at the bottom of your water heater and cause it to lose efficiency or even leak.
Simply take one of your water hoses and fasten it to the water faucet at the bottom of your water heater. Turn off the water heater so that you don’t get burned by hot water accidentally. Run the hose outdoors, preferably, but if you can’t do that, then a laundry tub should be sufficient. Open the valve and let the water drain out completely, rinsing out the sediment with it.
We hope you enjoyed the 2 day reprieve from the winter chill here in the Pittsburgh area, but alas…WINTER IS BACK! For some, however, extreme temperature and seasonal changes can be a nightmare. A nightmare where all you want to do is close yourself off from the world, and hibernate until Spring breaks.
But as life goes, few of us have the luxury to opt out of our active lives for the darkest months of the year. The good news is there are things you can do on your own to fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the mood-altering effects of limited sunlight in winter. Most of them are easy and low-cost as well.
(It is important for us to note that we’re not medical professionals here at Deacon Hoover Real Estate, and the information provided has been found through personal trial, error, and research. If you or a loved one feel you need to speak with a medical professional due to the severity of your particular condition, please contact your physican or the national suicide/crisis prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.)
1. Decide if you have mild winter blues or full-blown SAD.
The first thing to do if you feel the winter weather is affecting your mood is to be honest with yourself and determine just how bad a problem you have. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 4 to 6 percent of the population may have true SAD or winter depression. If that describes you, you may need more than a do-it-yourself solution. Counseling, professional light therapy, and even antidepressants might give you serious relief, so if you have a deep case of winter sadness, please consider seeking professional help.
Another 10 to 20 percent of the population may have a milder form of SAD. Statistically, women are more susceptible than men, as are people who live far from the equator (because winter days get shorter as you move toward the North and South poles).
2. Get as much indoor daylight as you can.
Position your workspace near a window. Get a room with a skylight. Insulate your porch so you can spend time there in the winter. One way or another, make sure to let as much sunlight fall on you throughout the day as you can. We need the sun as much as the Earth does, and the difference is noticable.
3. Get outside as much as you can.
Whether it’s cloudy, rainy, or gloriously sunny, the light you get by going outdoors is dramatically more intense than light coming through a window, and window light intensity drops dramatically for every foot you move away from that window. Take advantage of this dynamic by getting outside, at least for a little while, every day, or as often as possible. The ideal time to do it is around noon, when sunlight is at its brightest.
4. Get regular exercise.
Exercise is a proven depression fighter and mood booster, and it has been shown to help alleviate SAD. To get the best benefit, do your exercise outside during daylight hours and get extra sunlight as well. Take a walk at lunchtime, for example.
5. Use a light box or dawn simulator.
A light box is specially designed with fluorescent lights to supplement your need for light. You will usually sit in front of the light box, (or wear a special light visor) for at least 30 minutes a day during low light times of year. A light box should emit about 10,000 lux to be effective. You should use the light box within the first hour after you wake up, sitting about 16 to 24 inches away, with your eyes open but not looking directly at the light box. Avoid using the light box late in the day, or it may interfere with your sleep.
A dawn simulator is a second alternative. Dawn simulators mimic the effect of dawn brightening to full sunrise over a course of 30 minutes to two hours. They’re usually used right before awakening, gradually brightening your room until you wake up (with or without an alarm) at full sunrise. Dawn simulators usually emit much less intense light than light boxes, and since most of the treatment takes place while you’re sleeping, they are often a more convenient choice and easier to stick with. Studies comparing light boxes and dawn simulators have shown varied results in which sometimes the dawn simulator appears more effective, and sometimes the light box. So use whichever you prefer, or try them both to see which works better for you.
Ultraviolet lights and “full spectrum” lights are not replacements for a light box or dawn simulator, so don’t use those. In particular, don’t use a tanning bed, which, besides having no effect on your SAD, can be harmful to your eyes and skin.
6. Take vitamin D.
Many doctors have begun urging patients to up their vitamin D intake. This is especially useful during winter months, since low levels of D were shown to be connected to SAD in at least one study. So start taking D or up your D intake during the winter months.
7. Have a sunny getaway.
If you can swing it, arrange to go away for a few days or even a weekend to someplace where there’s a lot of sun. Getting even a brief vacation is likely to lift your mood in itself, and getting some extra sunlight, even for a couple of days, will do a lot to take the edge off your winter blues. That effect will last for a while after your vacation, and maybe even long enough to get you to spring.
(Again, if you are experiencing symptoms related to or think you have seasonal depression, please contact your physician or support hotline. We can not stress that enough. WE ARE NOT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS! With the weather fluctuating between pleasantly mild and bitterly cold days, we felt this could be used as a guide to help others who may be struggling this time of year.)
Although we’re getting a slight break in the latest Steel City cold spell, winter has been in full force…which means you’re likely to be spending a lot more time indoors!
The first few months of the year are a great time to tackle some simple projects around the house that can increase your comfort, cut energy costs, and improve your family’s health. Many of the items on the following home improvement checklist are easy DIY tasks, so you can save even more money.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
– Upgrade your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
With the house closed up and the furnace and fireplaces going, it’s essential to have working smoke and CO detectors. For around $40, you can get a combination unit that contains both types of sensors. Better still is an interconnected system, which sets off all the alarms in the house when any single unit detects a hazardous condition.
– Change the furnace filter.
Most filters should be replaced every couple of months, an easy DIY task. A simple flat filter is pretty inexpensive at a home center, but it’s worth upgrading to a high-efficiency pleated filter which has increased surface area to trap mold spores, pet dander, and other allergens.
– Vacuum out dryer and kitchen vents.
Now that the rush of holiday-season cooking and cleaning is over, take a look at your dryer and kitchen vents. Removing built-up lint and grease cuts down on fire risk and keeps those systems running more efficiently, which reduces energy costs. It’s a job for a pro, who has the equipment to access hard-to-reach ducts. Expect to pay around $100 to $150.
REPAIR & MAINTENANCE:
– Take care of the little things.
Like contractors, handymen also tend to be less busy in the new year. A cost-effective strategy is to gang together small projects (dripping faucets, cracked plaster, paint touch-ups), and hire someone to do them all at once.
– Beef up insulation.
Adding fiberglass to your attic is one of the highest-value home projects, with a return on investment of 117%, per Remodeling magazine (average job cost: $1,268). Sealing air leaks into the attic can save you big, on both energy (up to 15% of your total annual bill) and potential repairs. In cold climates, poorly insulated attics are a chief cause of ice dams, which often lead to expensive roof damage.
– Install smart meters.
A programmable thermostat will pay for itself, saving about $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energy Star. A smart water meter can help conserve water and alert you to leaking or burst pipes.
– Retrofit fireplace doors.
An open firebox is notoriously inefficient, sucking warm air right up the flue. Adding glass doors doesn’t detract from the look, while making the fireplace much more effective at radiating heat. Although this should be common sense, doors are also a fantastic safety feature, keeping kids and pets from getting too close to that pretty flame. 😉
Snowstorms can be beautiful. Some can be a nuisance. But here’s a way to consider some snowstorms as a friend with a message for you.
In the few days following a snowfall, when you are out for a walk, look along the road at the roofs of your home and your neighbors’ homes. Some will still be covered with snow, some will have lost it all, while some will look kind of patchy. A keen observer will notice that the patterns are pretty consistent time after time.
The patterns relate to attic insulation. If your attic has little or no insulation, the snow will disappear quickly. If your attic insulation needs a fix, the pattern will be patchy. If your attic insulation is good, the snow will stay on for a long while (and actually will add insulation to the roof, since snow is an insulator).
The best snowstorm for these observations will be one that drops about 1 inch, without wind. So, you should get outside after a gentle snowstorm to examine your roof and compare it to the neighbors.
If your roofing is asphalt shingles, the snow should stay for days unless the air temperature rises above 32 degrees. If it melts unevenly, make a note of where the bare roofing shows through first. That is likely to be a place where extra heat is escaping from your house into the attic. Remember, heat rises. Go inside and check the following:
• Recessed lighting fixtures that join living spaces to the attic are perhaps the worst culprits for heat loss. They function like straight conduits from your warm world to the outside. The best advice is to replace such lighting (try track lighting next time).
• A leaky seal to the attic entry hatch can be sealed with foam weather stripping.
• Gaps between fiberglass insulation. If the layers of insulation look thick enough, it probably would be best to hire a contractor to blow in a 2-inch layer of cellulose fiber all over the tops of the batts. This will seal up the air movement through the gaps.
• A bathroom or other vent that empties into the attic may have caused mold to build up on the attic ceiling (the roof decking). The vent should be extended to the outside of the attic and likely will require plumbing.
• Icicles that form along the bottom edge of the roof or eaves are another indication of insufficient attic insulation. Icicles, combined with an ice dam at the eaves, can cause leakage between the shingles with water dripping into your ceiling or walls. It is always best to identify and fix the cause of the problem before you have internal damage.
If you have a metal roof and its slope is 45 or more degrees, these observations are difficult because the snow generally slides off quickly. Keep looking, especially after a big snowstorm.
Here are a couple of special cases you may have to deal with:
• If your home has flat roof, you’ll need to get up on the roof. If you feel slushiness under your feet you have a problem. Under almost every flat roof, there is usually a space between the ceiling of the top floor and the roof decking itself. If you cannot get into that space, you’d be wise to cut an entry so that the space can be insulated, preferably by blown-in cellulose.
• If your home has a cathedral ceiling, once again there is a space between ceiling and roof. If it appears to have been insufficiently insulated (by the quick melting of the snow), you have a few difficult choices: You could remove the ceiling and foam the underside of the roof decking, or you could install sheets of foam externally and then re-shingle. However, there are now ceramic paints that can be applied inside to increase the insulating value of the ceiling.
Your observations and efforts will pay dividends by cutting your heating costs and increasing your comfort!
In this episode of The Deacon of Real Estate Podcast, “The Deacon” Alex Deacon discusses the importance of understanding and maintaining plumbing in ALL of your properties, and how knowledge and preparedness can save you thousands of dollars!
This audio short is presented by Deacon Hoover Real Estate Advisors. For all episdoes, full length informative broadcasts, and other questions, visit dhrea.com/learn!