30 Minutes to a Clean Fridge

Feature2ImageBigThere are plenty of reasons to clean a fridge (unidentifiable leftovers, funky odors) and one big excuse not to — namely, lack of time. But you don’t need to set aside several hours to complete a basic clean out and scrub down. Get it done in 30 minutes when you follow this guide.

Before you start.
There’s no reason to clean out your fridge the day after a big supermarket trip. Pick a day just before you go shopping, when your fridge is relatively empty.

For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to unplug your fridge before you start cleaning it.

Gather your supplies:

  • small bucket
  • small cleaning brush
  • terrycloth towel
  • large sponge
  • new box of baking soda

Get to it.
Take food from the fridge and place it on the table or counter. As you do this, check expiration dates and toss anything that’s no longer edible.

Fill the bucket with warm water, and add a half cup of baking soda. (Save the rest of the baking soda — you can put the box in the fridge later to neutralize odors.) Use this solution to wipe down the empty shelves and interior with a sponge, starting from the top and working your way down.

Use a brush to clean around brackets and gaskets and to dislodge any dried food. Wipe the interior dry with a terrycloth towel.

Rearrange, reseal, restock.
Before you put the food back in the fridge, take a moment to group similar foods together. This will help you find items easier. Separate ethylene-sensitive produce (e.g., apples, broccoli) from produce that releases ethylene gas (e.g., bananas, pears) to prevent premature decay. Make sure that all containers are sealed properly and that anything wrapped is covered completely. Airtight storage will help prevent spills and spoilage.

As you begin to put items back in the fridge, be careful to space food out to allow a free flow of air. Keep eggs, poultry, meat and seafood separate from all other items to help limit the spread of bacteria. For more food safety tips, visit foodsafety.gov . And if you’ve unplugged your fridge, don’t forget to plug it back in!

A final note: A basic cleanout like this is no substitute for a thorough cleaning, which your fridge and freezer require periodically. To do that, you’ll need to remove and clean shelves, vacuum coils and wipe down the exterior. Consult manufacturer’s instructions for details.

– See more at: http://ahs.com/home-care-advice/pages/feature.jsp?featureId=m1340049&utm_campaign=nl_b2b_april_2013_ahs-mobile&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ahsemail&utm_content=cleanfridge_mostpop&full=true#sthash.OfbB0j8n.dpuf

10 Remodeling Ideas for Maximum ROI

The cost of home remodeling has dropped 10 to 15 percent in the past five years, paving the way for low-cost construction for San Diego homeowners. It goes without saying that remodeling is one of the best ways to increase your home’s curb appeal in addition to bolstering its value.

“Replacement projects are really strong because they’re cheap and they make the house look good immediately. If you get new windows, new siding and replace the front door, the house looks great. It sells faster and for more money,” says one expert according to MSN Real Estate.

Despite the positive sentiments associated with remodeling, some investments have eroded in payback according to experts, with some returns equaling less than 57 percent after the sale of the home. That’s why it’s essential to know how to use your money wisely when remodeling your home.

When it comes to the best financial decisions for your home, here are the top 10 construction projects to consider according to MSN Real Estate.

1. Replace exterior siding. Upscale fiber cement is one of the most elegant and cost-effective choices for home exteriors. Siding pays goes miles to improve the curb appeal of your home.

2. Replace entry doors. Nothing makes a first impression quite like a beautiful entry way and door. Replacing old doors and retro-fitting a patio can make a house look like a home.

3. Attic remodel. If you have the space, an attic remodel can add additional square footage to your home. Attic remodels appeal to families who may use the space for an extra bedroom or play area for the kids.

4. Minor kitchen remodel. Sometimes, all a kitchen needs is a fresh face to shine, especially when you’re trying to sell your home quickly. A minor kitchen remodel will generally consist of new countertops, sink, faucets and appliances.

5. Midrange garage door replacement. A home needs curb appeal and a garage door is just the ticket to achieving a fresh look to the exterior of your home. Garage door replacement is also one of the best ways to reviving the exterior of an older home.

6. High-end garage door replacement. For luxury homes, a high-end garage door looks impressive and accurately conveys a more grandeur lifestyle.

7. Wood deck. Backyards can make a difference when it comes to the quick sale of your home. A wood deck may be an excellent choice to add more selling appeal to your home.

8. Foam-backed vinyl siding. Both beautiful and practical, vinyl siding is a good way to improve the aesthetics of your home while keeping it warm in the winter months.

9. Midrange replacement vinyl siding. If a luxurious look is desired, higher-end vinyl siding may be an excellent choice for sellers who are focusing on the top end of real estate sales.

10. Replacement windows. Upscale vinyl windows can make all the difference in the curb appeal of your home. Plus, it’s one of those upgrades that homebuyers can appreciate since it focuses on energy savings and curb appeal all at the same time.

Georgia in Top 6 Places to Retire

Kiplinger recently ranked the top states in which to retire based on special tax breaks for seniors, easy access to amenities, and active lifestyle opportunities for older adults. Using dasta from Kiplinger’s, AOL Real Estate recently determined Georgia ranks among the top 6 states empty-nesters and retiring baby boomers should consider. Along with reasons you might have already considered like climate, tax breaks are the main reason Georgia ranks high in attractiveness for places to retire. Social security income and up to $35,000 of most types of retirement income are exempt from taxes. You can read the full article on AOL. Other states that ranked high are:

  • Arizona: Home owners who meet certain residency requirements and are ages 70 and up can apply to defer their property taxes.
  • Delaware: It has no state or local sales tax, and older home owners may be able to qualify for a property tax credit up to $500.
  • Florida: The state has no inheritance tax, state tax, or retirement income tax.
  • Louisiana: Civil service, state and local government pensions, as well as military income and social security, are exempt from the state’s income taxes.
  • Mississippi: It has one of the lowest property taxes in the nation.

Greater Metro Atlanta Real Estate Update

  • For the Greater Metro Atlanta area, listed inventory is up 27.7% from the lowest point in February 2013.  But inventory remains down .4% compared to 2012 levels and down 36.7% from 2011.  The limited availability of quality properties with reasonable value has turned many local areas into a seller’s market.
  • The available “months of supply” was 4.7 months based upon closed sales (6 months is considered normal).  This is up 30% from last month.
  • Closings in September were down 20%.  All price points showed a drop with the $1 mil+ price range showing the greatest drop at over 40%.  Year-to-date closings were down 1% compared to the same period from 2012.
  • Closings under $100,000 are now 21% of all closings.  Two years ago, over 50% of properties sold were in the price range.  The exit of large investors has allowed the distribution of properties to return to normal.
  • The pace of short sales and foreclosures coming on the market has slowed considerably.  In 2010, over 60% of sales were distressed properties but in September we only saw 139 foreclosures and 189 bank-owned sales.  Resales and New Homes are the larger mix of sales.
  • New Homes are making a slow but sure comeback.  New home closings are up 55% from last quarter. There are some wonderful new home communities coming online with the latest innovations in smart building that may be great options for buyers.  Click here to view new home communities.
  • The Case-Shiller Index reports that Metro Atlanta home values have increased 35% from the bottom of March 2012.  But values remain down 18.27% from the peak of July 2007.  Click here for the latest report.
  • Click Here for a detailed set of slides that show the National Market, the Metro Atlanta Market, The New Homes Market and how our company is performing. There is a reason we are ranked #1 in Metro Atlanta.
This is an unprecedented opportunity to buy the home of your dreams while prices and financing are historically low.  But these conditions will not last as the real estate market continues to recover. For your FREE market analysis, contact us at info@petersenpartners.com today!

Tips on How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

Rockwell-freedom from wantIs your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.

I’m lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.

Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.

Prioritize

The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.

If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.

Safety

Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.

Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.

Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.

Entryway upgrades

Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.

  • Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
  • Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow.
  • Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
  • Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
  • Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.

Kitchen prep

Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.

  • To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
  • Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
  • If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.

Sleeping arrangements

If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house.

To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.

Bathroom storage

Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.

If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.

Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).

What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?

Becoming the Most Respected Company in the World

80107_photo8_GXWe recently shared some big news for Georgia and Metro Atlanta’s real estate market in our article Who Is Berkshire Hathaway Home Services? It’s an exciting time to be a part of and we can’t wait until Prudential Georgia Realty officially becomes a part of the Berkshire Hathaway family on December 10th.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) leverages the power of one of the world’s most respected brand names. Did you know Berkshire Hathaway has earned the prestige of being Barron’s Most Respected Company Name in the world? That’s a pretty impressive ranking to combine with the knowledge, experience and professionalism of our own established brand.

Warren Buffett, the Chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said, “When people are making the decision of the magnitude of buying a house, it’s the biggest decision a great many families will ever make. They want to know who they’re working with and we think that the Berkshire Hathaway name will be reassuring to many of those people.” We couldn’t agree more.

BHHS is a good name to know and we’re proud to be a part of such a distinguished brands backed by one of America’s most admirable leaders in business. As Teresa Palacios Smith, Prudential Georgia Realty’s VP of Business Development & Cultural Initiatives recently commented, “Warren Buffett has been a champion of building wealth for Americans. Everyone’s home is their castle, no matter the size or price. For many people, the single largest investment they will make in their lifetime is when they buy a home. By investing in a home, they have taken the first step in wealth creation. Berkshire Hathaway is the sign of Mr. Buffett’s legacy and his legacy is that all who have the desire and the means will realize the dream of homeownership. Who comes to mind that I could help?”

As December draws near and champagne and wine colored signs begin to redefine the real estate landscape around metro Atlanta, we invite you to learn more about Berkshire Hathaway by visiting BHHSGeorgia.com.

Clean Your Fireplace

textimagecomp-1.img.image.pngWinter’s coming and it’s time to take care of chores you might have forgotten completely about over the summer. One of these is cleaning your fireplace. MyMove.com and Lowe’s Home Improvement have some handy suggestions:

Fall is the perfect time to prepare your home for winter, and this includes performing fireplace maintenance. Get a jump on cold weather, and ensure your fireplace is functioning safely and properly. Minimize dust and soot in your home by giving it a good cleaning.

Tools and Materials
Rubber gloves
Goggles or protective eyewear
Facemask
Plastic drop cloth or Old Sheet (to cover hearth and floor)
Newspaper
Nylon scrub brush
Vacuum with a hose extension or a hand-vac
Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) or another heavy-duty cleaner
1- or 2-gallon plastic bucket
Trash can
Metal polish (optional)
Towels
Remove Soot and Debris From Your Fireplace
Before cleaning your fireplace, follow these steps to remove soot and debris:

Remove the andirons and grate from your fireplace and take them outside. Scrub them with a nylon brush to remove soot. Rinse them with water and wipe dry. Apply a metal polish for extra shine.
Wear protective eyewear or goggles and a facemask to prevent the inhalation of ashes and dust. Cover the hearth and the floor around the fireplace with a drop cloth or newspaper. Use a fireplace shovel to remove piles of ashes and debris, and discard in the trash can.
Scrub the walls of the fireplace with a nylon brush after the ashes and debris are removed.
Use a vacuum or hand-vac to remove excess dust.
Deep-Clean Your Fireplace
After dust and debris have been removed, it’s time to thoroughly clean your fireplace:

Use a mixture of warm water, bleach and TSP to deep-clean your fireplace walls and floor. Mix 6 tablespoons of TSP, 1 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of warm water into the plastic bucket.
Dip a nylon brush into the bucket, and use the solution to scrub the walls and floor of your fireplace until they’re clean. Remember to wear rubber gloves while doing this. Some older fireplaces may contain stains you can’t remove.
Rinse the walls and floor with clean water and towel dry.
Replace the grate and andirons.

 

Keep Your Home Safe While You Vacation for the Holidays

textimagecomp.img.image.pngWhile property crimes generally spike during the summer, especially July and August, the holidays are always a prime opportunity for burglars. If you’re planning to vacation during this holiday season, consider these tips before heading out:

Stay secure.
Before you leave, double check that all doors and windows are locked. Don’t forget the upstairs windows: AC units, ladders, nearby trees, and even garbage cans can give thieves access to those windows. Trim or remove shrubs that offer easy hiding places. Don’t leave spare keys outside; thieves know where to look, too.

Privacy matters.
Don’t post vacation plans on social media sites. You can’t completely control who sees your updates, regardless of your privacy settings. Have a trusted friend periodically check your home, but resist the temptation to announce your departure on the Internet.

Leave the light on.
Make it appear you haven’t left home at all. Stop your mail, or have a friend or neighbor collect it. Have someone mow your lawn if you’ll be away for a longer period of time. Set timers for inside lights or even a television. Don’t leave a porch light on continuously, though, as that could signal that you’re not home. Instead, install motion-sensing floodlights, even on the sides of your home. Many homeowners light up the front and back of their houses, but leave the sides dark, making it more inviting to burglars.

Don’t forget tiny invaders.
Bugs can also take advantage of empty homes. Before you leave, make sure all trashcans are emptied and cleaned. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, and wipe any stray crumbs from kitchen countertops. Many bugs come inside in search of water, so fix any leaks before you leave.

Seasonal Tips for a Great Looking Property This Fall

Charlene_pumpkinsIt’s hard to believe that fall is already upon us. Summer may be over, but now is not the time to neglect a home’s exterior, especially if it’s going to soon be listed for-sale this season. Here are a few tips to help you embrace the fall season and keep your property looking its best:

·     The most obvious tip: rake up leaves on a frequent basis;

·     Inspect your gutters regularly and remove any leaves that get trapped;

·     Carry on weeding garden beds and walkways;

·     Remove all annual flowers that are no longer blooming and plants that are past their “best before” date.  Dead vegetation gives the impression of a home not cared for;

·     If you’re experiencing a warm, dry fall in your area, you’ll still need to irrigate your lawn (according to local by-laws of course);

·     Fertilize your lawn before the ground freezes (unless you’re lucky enough to live in a year-round warm climate).  This will give your grass a head start in the spring.  However, check with your local garden center first to find out if this is the right course of action for your particular environment;

·     Readjust the timers on outdoor lighting displays since it now gets dark earlier;

·     Give your gardens some liveliness by planting fall flowers such as chrysanthemums. Choose a color that compliments the exterior of your home;

·     Redesign your urns and flowers pots – it’s time for a fall theme;

·     Add some vignettes. Sometimes, it’s the little things that produce the most attention.  My personal favorite for generating anticipation in potential buyers is to create a simple fall vignette on the porch. Pumpkins add a punch of color and provide a warm, welcoming look when blended with something interesting like a couple of antique lanterns, for example.  Be careful not to add too many items to the vignette or it will appear too cluttered.

If there’s a swing or rocking chair on the porch, add cushions with a generous amount of orange in them to tie everything together.  If you pay this much attention to the exterior of your home, buyers will be anxious to see what awaits them behind the front door.  The photo above was taken at the side door of a property that was never used as an entry point. Be sure when creating your vignette that you don’t block access to the front door.

These are just a few things that will help keep the exterior of your home looking terrific right through to the next season: The dreaded winter.  We won’t think about that right now though!

Are the Holidays a Good Time to Buy a Home?

Screen Shot 2012-08-27 at 10.49.57 AMThe weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean home shopping at this busy time has to be. True, fewer homes are on the market around the holidays as sellers take some time off to enjoy the season with their family. And fewer open houses are held during the often freezing, messy weather.

Shopping for a home at this overlooked time of year has a few perks you might not realize, though, according to MSN real estate.

 

  • Sellers who keep their homes on the market at this time are very motivated.
  • You have less competition from other buyers than you would in the spring.
  • Lenders, agents and others have more time to work with you.
  • Interest rates are typically lower than in the spring.

Plus, consider that getting your move over with in the winter means that, come Spring, you can be completely unpacked and ready to enjoy the warm weather on a new patio, taking walks in your new neighborhood, or digging in the flower beds of your new digs.

Realtor.com agrees buying a home in the off-season can bring some real perks. Two of those perks include a potentially faster closing and the ability to take advantage of some tax breaks.

Buying a house and closing before the end of the year may give you a much-appreciated tax deduction. You have a good chance to be able to subtract the interest component of the initial mortgage payment from that year’s taxable income. Speak to a qualified tax advisor to find out how mortgage interest deduction may be applicable to your circumstances.
Faster closings are historically more available in November and December, because of fewer overall transactions in the industry. Because lenders want to close their books at the end of the year, they may be inspired to close a transaction more quickly for people buying homes at this time.

If you put in some planning and effort to buy a home during the winter months, then you can relax and enjoy yourself more than those caught up in the spring and summer house-buying frenzy.

Just because the market has cooled a little along with the weather doesn’t mean there aren’t some great homes available right now. Visit www.PetersenPartners.com to check out the latest listings in your neighborhood.