Home Maintenance


Getting Your Money's Worth - Home Renovations Paying You Back

Many homeowners look for ways to improve the appearance and value of their properties. While small investments can bring increased value, conversely large investments may not bring the return you expect. Several factors weigh in on these decisions; if you plan to continue to live in First Impressionsthe home, investments should be practical and improve upon daily living. If you plan to sell your home, only go as far as needed to gain a sizable return. It’s smart to focus on the details that buyers focus on; and you don’t want the highest priced home in the neighborhood. If the other homes are set in a certain price bracket, no number of improvements can transcend it by very much. Here are some basic tips to follow when planning home renovations or improvements, and how to get the most for your money and ensure that investment return.

First Impressions

What many call curb appeal, the exterior of your home and property is the first thing any potential buyer sees in person. Look at your home through the eyes of a stranger. Dirty siding, cracked paint, or a lackluster lawn will be on a potential buyer’s radar immediately. This can taint the buyer’s opinion before even stepping in the door. Speaking of the front door; a fresh front entry can add 86 percent investment return. Include some fresh paint and perhaps some potted flowers; a good first impression can add an overall 5 to 10 percent to the home value.

Easy Addition

Whether you plan to stay in your home, or sell it sooner or later, a deck is a wonderful addition that adds entertainment value to your home. However, do not make the mistake in attempting this jog on your own. Professionally installed decks come without the DIY headaches and mistakes. Poor deck installation usually ends up costing more in the long run to maintain, while not being nearly as aesthetically pleasing. A professional deck install is one investment that always nets a return.

Warm and Welcome

Now that your exterior is double checked and squared away, let’s look at the interior of your home. Obviously, if you are planning to sell, clutter needs to be picked up and put away, with minimalist decorative touches to enhance the home’s natural beauty. The next thing to improve the atmosphere of a home that doesn’t break the bank is by painting the walls. It’s the least expensive way to create a whole new appearance, while increasing value. Add some muted neutral colors to plain white walls, or tone down bold colors that may not please everyone. Fresh paint can also highlight dark cupboards or older home features.

The Heart of Every Home

Any homeowner will tell you, the heart of their home is the kitchen. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms any potential buyer will want to inspect. Fresh paint can indeed breathe new life into a lackluster kitchen and highlight older cabinets that aren’t cost effective to replace. In the Kitchen Getting your moneys worthpast five years, it’s estimated that 40% of all money spent on home improvements and renovations has went straight into the kitchen. For those looking to sell their home, an updated kitchen can bring a 70% investment return, while those looking to remain in their home are treated to a dream kitchen for nurturing families and entertaining friends.

The Homeowner’s Throne

The second most popular home remodeling project, after the kitchen, is of course the bathroom. Bathroom renovations do not usually net the same return for those selling a house within a year of completion; but that’s not to say it won’t pay off. With newer, larger and more modern amenities, these rooms built for privacy are still a major selling point for potential buyers in all markets. Older, ‘vintage’ style tiles can be used to add some pizazz to a new modern bathroom. Updated towel, toilet paper, and cabinet fixtures for a fresh look while staying in budget.
If you are thinking of selling your home in the Louisville real estate market, make sure you have the best by your side. Contact our professional, friendly agents today here at Brad Long Real Estate Group to help you with all of your questions and concerns about your Louisville home you want to sell.

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I want to catch the robber

What started as an unhealthy interest level has quickly turned in to a severe case of what I like to call “voluntary agoraphobia.” For the past month, the Highlands has been the target of a high number of home break ins and burglaries. Living right in the middle of the Highlands, and with several neighbors who fell victim to these home invaders, I have reached ultimate lockdown and survey mode. My lifetime full of love for shows like Dateline NBC and 48 Hours Mystery are fueling my underlying interest in my neighborhoods misfortune and my supreme goal to be the one to “catch the predator.” Being at home with two young boys all day and writing from home gives me the opportunity to be the protecter of my street. I can keep a look out for the newest suspects, write down license plate numbers, and patiently wait for the joker who tries to mess with my house.

All kidding aside, I do find it my responsibility to look out for my neighbors. Innocent people are being wiped out of important and expensive belongings so a few addicts can get their next high.

The suspects stealing from our community members are mostly white males and females who are unarmed and addicted to heroin. Because of the new laws protecting prescription drugs, heroine is apparently making a come back on the streets. These robbers usually work in groups and go after empty houses. There are two times of day when they usually strike; Between 9am and noon, and late afternoon until 4:30. The burglars work fast and aren’t afraid to hit an area more than once. On Saturday, January 12 the Bonnycastle neighborhood was hit five times in a matter of hours. How do they get away with it? Usually one member of the group, often the girlfriend, will knock on the front door with a made-up story in mind to see if anyone is at home. It is important that you always make your presence known if you expect someone might want to rob your house. If the group members feel that a house is empty they will usually find a way inside through the back of the house either kicking in the door or entering through a window. The police suggest opening the door to the robber and telling them “WE are having a family dinner” or “WE are having a reunion” anything that emphasizes that there are others home. Not sure what I would say in that situation.

My neighborhood crime watch met with some of our local police officers last week and they had some helpful advice. If you suspect your house was robbed or you suspect someone wants to rob your house, call 911 right away before looking for your belongings. It only takes the LMPD 3-4 minutes to get to the scene of the robbery. The sooner you call will only up the chances that police can either catch the thief red-handed or at their next stop two doors down. It is helpful as well to try to get as much information to police as possible. Look out for the robbers getting away in a vehicle and look for license plate numbers; don't assume there are already miles away. The Police at the meeting also told us an LMPD officer will come to your house free of charge to give you advice on how to make your home more secure against an intruder. They will even do extra patrols around your house if you give them a heads up the next time you go out of town.

Right now, police are focussed on finding Brandon Cheathem, the suspected ringleader of a burglary ring that is being blamed for over 20 burglaries and stealing $39,000 of lawn care equipment from North Oldham High School. Cheathem drives a red sedan with Indiana license plates. If you see Cheathem call LMPD’s anonymous tip line 574-LMPD.

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Now is the Time for Discounted Christmas Decor

The Holiday season is over. Christmas has come and gone and our hangovers from New Year’s have finally subsided. Right around this time, at the beginning of the new year, most folks are huddled in two categories; those that couldn't be happier the Christmas season is behind them and those feeling a bit of yule tide separation anxiety. Depending on which category you fall under, what I am about to propose will either be cringe worthy, or welcomed with delight. Although the holiday season is technically over with, right now is the best time to shop for next year’s Christmas decor. For those of you that are al “Christmas’d out,” just give me a chance to make my point. Most stores discount their Christmas merchandise 50% off and higher this time of year. You don’t even have to take what you purchase out of the bags when you get home, just throw your bags in storage with the rest of your decorations. It will all be worth the extra day surrounded by glitter reindeers and singing snowmen when you go to unwrap your decorations for next year’s Christmas and realize the abundance of great decorations you have and what great deals you got.  

Everyone is shopped out right now, so I am going to suggest a couple places I know have great deals on Christmas decor.  

Work The Metal, in the Butchertown Market, is my favorite place to go for holiday shopping. Apart from having some of the most unique gifts in town, their selection of holiday decor is amazing. Right now all holiday items in the store are 50% off. With merchandise ranging from pine cone candles, tabletop Christmas trees, and quirky tee towels, Work the Metal has everything you need to make your house a cheery home for the holidays.  

While you are at the Work The Metal shopping for your discounted holiday items, stop by the other specialty item stores in the Butchertown Market. Cellar door chocolates is based out of the Butchertown Market and has a storefront there as well.  With some of the most unique and delicious locally made chocolates right next door to Work the Metal, you have to stop in! A nationally recognized foodie company is also right next door, Bourbon Barrel Foods is located in Butchertown Market as well. Their products are available for purchase at Work the Metal. Locally made soaps, lotions, and candles, are available at Moss Hill, which you cant miss while browsing through Work the Metal. Butchertown Market is located at 1201 Story Avenue Louisville, Kentucky 40206. For more information you can visit their website www.thebutchertownmarket.com.

Pottery Barn and Pier 1 Imports are both having great sales on their Christmas merchandise and you will still be getting good quality items that will last. Not only are these stores having sales in the stores but online as well. Don't forget to take advantage of their online deals!

More often than not we say we are going to take advantage of the deals and we don't. If you have the storage space and an hour to go browse at one of these stores, then do it, it’s well worth it!   

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Louisville Home Owners Save Some Green By Being Green

Is the fridge on the fritz? Or the dishwasher on the skids? Maybe your washing machine is doing anything but? Then it could be time to make a new purchase for your home. The good and bad news is that there are seemingly endless options for how to spend your money in the world of home appliances. It’s easy to think that making environmentally friendly purchases when it comes to the refrigerator or washing machine will be cost-prohibitive, but Louisville home owners have found ways to actually save some green by being green. A few simple tips can help you do the same.

1) Size matters. The simple truth is that large appliances use more energy than smaller ones. So consider how much use your new appliance will get before just purchasing the biggest model. If you eat out a lot, then maybe you don’t need the industrial size dishwasher. If you are on a first name basis with your dry cleaner, then maybe a smaller washing machine and dryer will suffice.

2) Read the label. This is good advice when buying any product, but when purchasing an appliance, you should always look for the Energy Star label. Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency to help consumers make energy-efficient choices, appliances with this label exceed the minimum government standards for energy efficiency.

3) Check out the Energy Guide. Have you noticed the numbers assigned to the labels of appliances today? The Federal Trade Commission requires that most types of new appliances let consumers know approximately how much energy the appliance will consume in a year. This Energy Guide allows shoppers to compare the energy efficiency of one model against another. You want to find the number – and lower is better in terms of energy use - and read the whole energy guide before making a selection.

4) Don’t let first impressions fool you. Granted, appliances that are more energy efficient will come with a higher price tag. But don’t let the initial sticker shock be the only factor in your decision making. When you consider how much you can save in utility costs over the life of an energy efficient appliance, you may find that the higher purchase price is an investment that will save you money over the long term.

As Kermit said, it isn’t easy being green, but it can be both environmentally and financially wise. You can join the many Louisville home owners who are saving some green by being green simply by following these few tips when shopping for a new appliance.


Three Home Staging Tips for Louisville Home Sellers

Selling a home is so much more than listing it with a good agent and hoping for the best. One of the best things that a Louisville home seller can do to make sure that his house sells fast and for the best price is to “stage” it properly. Once thought of as an unnecessary “extra,” something only interior designers and real estate experts knew much about, home staging is now a must for anyone who wants to make top dollar. Even making a few simple changes—some that cost absolutely nothing—will make a world of difference when it comes time for the open house.

Don’t forget about the outside
Too often, people focus all of their attention inside a home and do nothing to the outside of the house. But when you are selling Louisville real estate a home’s exterior is the first impression that any would-be home buyer will notice. Perhaps the cheapest way to make that first impression a good one is to tackle the weeds. Get rid of all weeds as well as anything that is dead or simply unattractive, and remember that “simple” is often better than overgrown and complicated. Also, keep in mind that the outdoors is the new indoors. People today often see their deck or porch outside as another living room. Make sure the outdoor areas of your house not only make people feel welcome but also tempt them to put up their feet and relax a while.

Put aside the personal
We love to decorate our homes with pictures of our families and friends and display other knick-knacks and personal items that mean so much to us. But when a house is on the market, it’s best to box up those items and decorate instead with a small number of more impersonal accents. Prospective buyers have a hard time picturing themselves in a home that clearly belongs to someone else. The other important step in depersonalizing a home is evaluating the color scheme. You might love having bright pink or deep purple on the walls, but such loud colors appeal only to a limited number of personal tastes. For $20 bucks, you can pick up a gallon of paint in a clean, neutral shade which will appeal to a whole lot more prospective buyers.

Furniture: less is more
Evaluate the furnishings in your home to see if how many you have and the way they are positioned actually help or hurt your chances at a successful sale. Many people try to stuff too many pieces of furniture in a room. Maybe you like to have two couches, a love seat, two chairs and a recliner in your family room because you need lots of seating for all the entertaining you frequently do. That’s fine when your house is not on the market, but when it’s for sale, all of these pieces can make even a large room look small. Consider leaving just the couch and loveseat while the house is listed and arrange them to allow for an easy, smooth traffic pattern through the room. This will help buyers be able to appreciate the real size of the room and picture their own furniture in it.

It doesn’t take loads of money to stage a house for the best possible sale. Some simple fixes—that cost little or no money—can help increase the likelihood of a sale, reduce your home’s time on the market or even help justify the sale price. You can even consider it getting a jump-start on the moving process!

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Winter Maintenance for Homes in Louisville

Black Friday is now a distant memory, Santa can no longer be found at Mall St. Matthews and all the holiday decorations have been put away for another year. That can only mean one thing – the birth of a new year is upon us.  And that means it’s time once again to make New Year’s resolutions.  We could promise anew actually to use our gym membership this year or we could try yet again to swear off chocolate or ice cream. But perhaps a better pledge for 2012 might be to get our homes in Louisville ready for winter. That’s a resolution that will not only bring us comfort during the coldest months of the year, but it may also be something we can accomplish more successfully than the latest fad diet or strenuous exercise program.

Since Louisville winters usually bring a few snow storms with average temperatures in the 20s during January and February, making sure that your house is ready to keep you warm should be a top priority. January is not too late to make some simple changes or modifications that will produce results you will benefit from before spring rolls in. Here are a few winter home maintenance tips that will keep you toasty and save you money as well!

  1. Change out your furnace filters and inspect the insulation around the crawlspace and attic.  Make sure that the seals around plumbing, lighting fixtures and the attic door are tight to keep air from escaping.
  2.  If you have double-paned windows, you’re in great shape.  These help keep the heat in and the cold out.  If you don’t have this kind of window though, there are still things you can do to help.  Replacing the screens with storm windows will go a long way in keeping your house warm.  If purchasing storm windows isn’t in the budget this year, then get a plastic film sheet kit from a home improvement or hardware store.  This will only last one season, but it’s an inexpensive fix that works.
  3.  If unusually cold temperatures are in the forecast, let your cold and hot water faucets drip during the night to keep the pipes from freezing.
  4. Even though it’s winter, don’t forget about the yard!  Trim branches of trees and shrubs to make sure they aren’t too close to the house.  Ice-covered limbs – like those we saw during the January 2010 ice storm – can cause a lot of damage when they fall onto the roofs or against the sides of our homes in Louisville.

Even though the holiday festivities are over, there’s still quite a lot that can be done to make this winter the best ever.  And by turning some basic winter home maintenance activities into our New Year’s resolution this year, we’re likely to be far more successful than we were getting into our old skinny jeans or developing rock hard abs like we tried to do in the past.   Plus, we’ll save some money and have the satisfaction of knowing our families will be warmer in their homes in Louisville this year.