Electronic and Smart Locks for Your Home

Locking smartlock on the entrance door using a smart phone remotely. Concept of using smart electronic locks with keyless access

Locking smartlock on the entrance door using a smart phone remotely. Concept of using smart electronic locks with keyless accessGone are the days of locking your keys in the house or forgetting to lock the door when you leave. Electronic and ‘smart’ locks provide the option of a keyless entry to and exit of your home and often allow remote smartphone access to the lock. Many of these locks even allow homeowners to receive alerts and track who is entering the home, as well as offer the feature of emailing limited-access digital ‘keys’ to visitors or children.

Electronic door locks come with many different means of entry, including radio frequency identification (RFID), biometric (fingerprint), and Bluetooth. While many locks still use keypad systems for entry, manufacturers have begun to move toward touchscreen panels that include security features to prevent intruders from cracking the code. RFID locks use a key fob or card for entry, biometric entry locks use fingerprint identification to open, and Bluetooth locks sense your smartphone when you approach.

Smart locks, another type of electronic door lock, open remotely via an app and can integrate with other ‘smart’ systems in your home such as Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. For example, if your alarm system detects a leak in your home while you are away, you can open the home remotely to allow someone to go in and check.

To view a list of some of the highest-rated electronic and smart locks for your home, click here.

Securing your home is important! Do you plan on buying or refinancing a home? Call me today and I will be happy to set up a time to talk with you.

Learn more about smart locks here.

Fireplace and Chimney Care

Fireplace and chimney careAs the temperature turns colder in the coming months, there are few things homeowners will likely enjoy more than curling up by the fireplace for a cozy evening. A gas or wood-burning fireplace is a welcome addition to any home, but there are several things you should undertake to make sure your fireplace and chimney are ready for use. Adhering to the following guidelines will reduce risks associated with the use of fireplaces and chimneys in the colder months ahead:

Wood Fireplaces

Schedule routine chimney sweeps – To ensure your fireplace and chimney are in proper working condition, schedule a chimney sweep and inspection once a year. The best time to do this is before the start of a burning season. 

Burn fires safely – Only burn wood that was cut at least six months ago. Store any excess firewood in an elevated and covered area. Although it may be tempting, steer clear of using flammable starting fluids in your fireplace.

Check chimneys outside – Make sure there are no tree branches within 15 feet of your chimney. Install a chimney cap to keep out unwanted debris or animals.

Ensure interior safety – Arrange furniture so that it is at least three feet away from your fireplace’s hearth, and install a mesh screen to keep sparks from flying.

Discard ashes – When the fire is finished burning, discard ashes by placing them in a metal container that you store away from your home so they can properly cool.

Gas Fireplaces

Review your owner’s manual – As there are many types and brands of gas fireplaces, read your owner’s manual to learn about the type of cleaning and maintenance your fireplace needs to remain functional and safe.

Inspect for problems – Look for latch issues or cracks in the glass and make sure logs are clean, free of dust, and in the proper position. Turn off the gas at the shut-off valve and test the igniter before using.

Assess the outdoor vent – Inspect the outdoor vent as it can become clogged with debris.

Schedule an inspection – Gas fireplaces require a professional inspection yearly to identify any issues, such as gas leaks.

For more fireplace and chimney safety tips, click here.

Preparing Your Home for Cold Weather

Light fades as night falls on a snowy suburban home

Light fades as night falls on a snowy suburban homeWith autumn in full swing, now is a good time to prepare your home for the colder months ahead. Your electricity bill and your family’s safety are affected by the condition of your home in the winter. Follow these quick tips to make sure your home is ready for cold weather:

Clean your gutters – Fallen leaves and other debris from the autumn months could clog up your gutters. Not only can clogged gutters decrease their efficiency, they can also create an ice dam on your roof during freezing temperatures. Watch this video to learn more.

Seal cracks around doors and windows – Cracks around doors and windows in your home could be letting cold air in and warm air out. Use caulk or weather-stripping to seal the openings. Check out this video for some easy tips. 

Give your furnace a tune-up – Sediment buildup can cause your heating system to work less efficiently and become a fire hazard. Cleaning your furnace annually helps prevent this. Also, remember that dirty filters have the potential to decrease airflow and energy efficiency, so make sure to change those regularly. For detailed instructions on cleaning your furnace, click here. 

Prevent plumbing problems – Frozen pipes can be a nightmare. If you have exposed pipes in areas such as a crawlspace, attic, or outside walls, ensure they are covered with insulation to keep them from freezing. Click here for a tutorial on how to avoid frozen pipes.

Even simple preparations for your home can make a big difference in energy costs and sustainability. I have trusted industry partners who are able and willing to help you winterize your home.

Call me today. I would love to refer you to someone great who can help protect your home from the damage of the colder months. If you are looking for ways to save money each month, now may be the perfect opportunity to get a mortgage checkup and see if a refinance could help you. Let’s plan to talk soon!

Five Festive Fall Front Porch Decorating Ideas

Heirloom white, orange and grey pumpkins with colorful mums sitting by front door.

Heirloom white, orange and grey pumpkins with colorful mums sitting by front door.Autumn has arrived in all its splendor — the perfect excuse to ramp up your curb appeal. Make your neighbors envious of your festive front porch with these five fun decoration ideas:

Corn Husk Garland – Using jute rope and dried corn husks, you can create a neutral seasonal garden to adorn your front porch. Read the tutorial here.

Add in Greenery – Balance the fall colors of pumpkins and gourds by pairing them with large planters filled with green plants. Be sure to choose plants that are frost resistant so they will uphold after cool nights. Read more here.

Pumpkin Topiary – Using faux pumpkins, run a dowel through them and place atop a large planter to create pumpkin topiaries. If there are windows surrounding your front door, place faux spider webs on them for a spooky vibe. To view a pumpkin topiary tutorial, click here.

Muted Colors – If the warm and bright hues of fall aren’t your preference, go for a more muted color palette, accenting with light greens and whites. Read more here.

Cozy Seating – Add a small seating area with pillows and blankets in autumnal hues to make your porch more inviting. Sprinkle in pumpkins and gourds for some additional pops of color. See more here.

For more great fall porch ideas, click here.

This is the perfect time of year to add some character to your home. If you are interested in selling your home before winter, give me a call to discuss some of your mortgage options.

Festive Wreaths for Autumn

Florist making beautiful autumn wreath, top view

Florist making beautiful autumn wreath, top viewAutumn is here! Give your front door some flair with a festive fall wreath. With a little work and a trip to your local craft store, you can use the following ideas to create something unique:

Dyed Husk Wreath – Using white vinegar and fabric dye, you can turn dried corn husks into a work of art! Just hot-glue the husks onto a foam wreath form, and you can create a work of art! Read this tutorial to learn more.

Candy Corn Wreath – Looking for something simple and festive? Using a foam wreath form, hot-glue individual candy corns around the wreath in tight rows until it is completely covered. Learn more here.

Harvest Wheat Wreath – Attaching dried wheat bunches to a straw wreath form can create a beautiful and neutral wreath for your front door. Read the full tutorial here.

Acorn Wreath – For another great neutral wreath option, glue large acorns onto a wreath form and attach a burlap or colored bow. Read more here.

Fall Lotus Wreath – Using dried lotus pods and the dried fall foliage filler of your choice, hot-glue the items to a wreath form to create a perfect, neutral home accent for autumn. Learn more here.

For other festive autumn wreath ideas, click here.

This is the perfect time of year to add some festive décor to your home! If you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing, please call me — we can talk through some of your mortgage options!

Prepare Your Home for Fall

Suburban home in early Autumn as the leaves begin to turn

Suburban home in early Autumn as the leaves begin to turnAfter a long, hot summer, it’s time to prepare your home for cooler weather! With the autumn months around the corner, here are some things you can do to get your home ready for the change of seasons.

Clear out gutters – To prevent clogs, be sure to remove leaves and other debris from your drainpipes and gutters.

Seal air leaks – Check your home for drafts that may occur due to cracks around windows or doors. Use a calking material to fix cracks in stationary house components such as doorframes and weather stripping.

Check your furnace – Sediment buildup can cause your system to work less efficiently or potentially become a fire hazard. Have your furnace inspected annually to reduce the risks.

Examine your air ducts – Properly seal and insulate air ducts to make sure they are working to their fullest potential. This simple step can keep you from losing 20% of the air that moves through the duct system.

Prepare the water heater – Drain the water heater to clear out any debris that has collected in the bottom of the tank.

For more information on prepping your home for autumn, click here or watch the video below.

Autumn Potted Flowers and Plants

Autumn flowers outdoor in the garden, thanksgiving decor

Autumn flowers outdoor in the garden, thanksgiving decorAutumn is around the corner and, pretty soon, pumpkins and gourds will be popping up around town! Autumn colors make for lovely, seasonable flowers and plant arrangements. Now is an excellent time to decorate your front porch or steps with vivid autumn container gardens. Begin with a trip to your local nursery or home improvement store and ask for hardy plants that are appropriate for the seasonal changes ahead.

Pansies, cabbage, violas, and mums are delightful fall flowers that you can use to fill out your containers. Plants such as ornamental kale and sage will withstand fall temperatures and add beautiful texture to any container garden. Keep in mind that kale will grow quickly once planted, so it’s best to leave space around it. Dwarf variety asters will spill over pots to add depth, and snapdragons are great autumn plants to heighten your arrangements. Many herbs, including parsley, rosemary, and lavender, will grow in the fall and mild winter weather as well.

Click here to view more herbs for fall and winter.

Make your containers more interesting by including small pumpkins and miniature gourds. For more fall plants that will add color to your garden, click here. Choose containers that will enhance the color theme or stick with classics such as terracotta or black. Metal or wooden buckets and baskets can also liven up your container gardens. Additionally, try clustering different shapes and heights in threes or plant a single pot with a few different kinds of plants.

For some simple container garden tutorials that you can put together yourself, click here.

Here are two colorful autumn container garden ideas:

  1. Pile on the pumpkins and place potted mums into decorative containers. Mums come in several vibrant autumn colors and require little maintenance. By stacking pumpkins and mini gourds in and around the containers, you can create the perfect, easy fall arrangement!
  2. Create a fragrant fall hanging basket! Fill a hanging basket with high quality potting soil, pansies, marigolds, ornamental cabbage, and herbs. The herbs will provide both fragrance and utility, while the pansies, marigolds, and cabbage will boast the colors of the season! See more here.

For more about creating the perfect fall container garden, watch the video below.

Create an Outdoor Entertaining Space

Cozy wicker sofa set and hanging chair in the garden

Cozy wicker sofa set and hanging chair in the gardenAutumn is almost here! We know this means cooler weather and the chance to fully enjoy your outdoor living spaces is nigh. Whether it’s football on the big screen or simply indulging in a glass of wine by the fire, your porch or patio is the perfect place to enjoy all that the season brings.

Here are some terrific tips to help you outfit your outdoor entertainment space:

  1. If you have an enclosed or screened-in porch, consider mounting a television for viewing fall sports and movies. This provides an outdoor living space for hosting your friends and family.
  2. Install a fire pit! What better way is there to enjoy the crisp weather than cozying up by the fire with loved ones? Find easy ways to build your own fire pit or purchase one for around $100.
  3. Consider investing in a new outdoor furniture set. Many outdoor furniture sets are on sale this time of year due to summer clearance, making it a great time to purchase one to spruce up your patio. Check with stores such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s for great end-of-summer savings.
  4. Outfitting your patio furniture with autumn-hued pillows and blankets is a wonderful way to add a touch of fall. To view some beautiful outdoor entertaining spaces, click here.

Are you interested in buying a home during the fall season? If so, please call me! I would love to discuss your home financing options and get you moving before the holidays.

Fall Gardening Tips

A fan rake and gloves lie on the grass next to fallen autumn lea

A fan rake and gloves lie on the grass next to fallen autumn leaWith the first official day of autumn drawing near, it may be time to begin thinking about preparing your garden for cooler temperatures. There are many things you can do to make the most out of the crisp autumn weather as well as prepare some beautiful blooms for next spring. Here are some great fall gardening tips:

Grass – The first six weeks of autumn are the best time to plant and fertilize cool-weather grass such as fescue and rye. This gives the grass seed time to germinate and develop a good root system before colder temperatures arrive.

Vegetable Gardens – To prevent pests and diseases from overwintering in old plant debris, remove old plants and add them to your compost pile. If you’re growing cool-season crops such as broccoli and lettuce, floating row covers can provide protection from light frosts.

Landscaping – If you intend to plant any trees or shrubs, fall is the best season to do it. The soil is still warm enough for roots to develop a healthy root system before the cold months of winter. Once trees or shrubs are planted, be sure to water them regularly since the winds of cooler weather can dry out the plants. If rain is sparse, it is best to water once a week.

Flowers –Tulips, daffodils, crocus and iris are all great bulbs to plant in the fall for spring blooms. In cooler climates, bulbs can be planted in October. In warmer climates, mid-to-late November is ideal. This is also a wonderful time to divide perennials and plant perennial seeds for spring.

Mulch – As you plant new items this fall, don’t forget to cover them with a layer of mulch. You can also use this time to replenish mulch around already existing plants. Mulch keeps the ground moist and also provides a layer of protection to your plants in cooler temperatures.

For more fall gardening tips, click here or watch the video below.

Indoor Plants to Brighten Your Home

Stylish interior with different houseplants on table over grey wall, copy space

Stylish interior with different houseplants on table over grey wall, copy spaceAdding houseplants to a home not only makes your living space feel warmer and more inviting, but it has been proven to boost moods, reduce stress and make the indoor air cleaner. With so many options from which to choose, finding the right plants for your home can feel overwhelming.

Begin by identifying the locations where you want to add plants and then survey the type of lighting that area receives. Different house plants need different levels of lighting and care, and you will want to choose a plant based on those factors.

Here are some excellent house plants for beginners:

Snake Plants – These tall, spindly plants come in many different varieties and don’t demand direct sunlight. Snake plants require minimal water and should only be watered when their soil has dried out completely.

Pothos – Similar to a snake plant, a pothos plant does not require much light or water. Pothos plants are ideal for hanging pots and don’t have to be pruned. To best care for pothos, only water when the leaves appear to be drooping and the soil is dried through.

Spider Plants – Spider plants prefer direct sunlight but can withstand many different lighting situations and don’t need a strict watering schedule. Keep your spider plant away from AC vents and be sure to water regularly.

ZZ Plants – ZZ plants are among the lowest-maintenance house plants available. Their waxy leaves look great in your home, but they require little attention. Place your ZZ plant in a spot away from direct sunlight and only water when soil is completely dried out.

Be sure your plants are potted in a container that has holes in the bottom to provide adequate drainage. For more information on good houseplants for beginners, click here.