Spring Cleaning Checklist: Don’t Forget To Clean These 6 Things

Most homeowners dread spring cleaning, but it’s a necessity when you think about how many things typically get overlooked as part of everyday cleaning. You might vacuum, wash dishes, and do laundry regularly, but there are plenty of other chores that get overlooked.

You should include the following items in your spring cleaning checklist.

1. Utensil Drawers

Pull out your utensil drawers, take everything out and thoroughly clean the insides, including the back, sides, and corners. Make sure to let them dry completely before you replace all of your utensils.

2. Coffee Makers

You should not only clean out your coffee pot, but also the filter. Take your coffee maker apart once in a while to give it a good cleaning in warm water mixed with white vinegar.

3. Ceiling Fans

The blades of your ceiling fans probably have a thick layer of dust on top of them. Imagine turning them on and allowing all that dust to enter the air you breathe. It is essential that you clean your ceiling fans as a part of your spring cleaning. You can use a vacuum cleaner with an extended nozzle, a duster, or even a damp cloth to remove all the piled-up dust.

4. Window Screens

Window screens are not just designed to keep critters out, they’re also intended to trap dust and debris. After a while, window screens can become clogged with particles, which can limit their effectiveness. Additionally, dirty window screens look disgusting. For stubborn debris, you will have to remove the screens from their frames and soak them in warm, soapy water before spraying them down and replacing them.

5. Oven

There’s a good chance that your oven will collect a layer of hard-to-remove grime at the bottom or along the interior walls. Those casseroles dripping with grease or those oven-baked pizzas covered with melted cheese can leave behind a layer of caked-on grease that needs to be removed. Your job just got a whole lot easier if you have a self-cleaning oven. But if you don’t, it’s going to take a few hours for oven-cleaning products to lift all that grease. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a lot of elbow grease to scrape it off that way.

6. Under & Behind Large Appliances

Even if you regularly vacuum your floors, dust and debris can accumulate underneath your large appliances over time. Pull out the refrigerator, oven, washer, and dryer and clean the areas that have been covered by these appliances throughout the year.

While spring cleaning might not be fun, it’s a necessary task. Make sure you’ve covered everything so you can enjoy a clean home throughout the rest of the year.

Budget Projects With Big Value

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home. Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home’s value.

HIGH QUALITY CEILING FANS

In a National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans ranked No. 1 as the most-wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdated, replace them with something in the $400 range—it’ll make a big difference when it’s time to sell.

TREES

Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile. Switching from a wood to gas fireplace is a great start.

OUTDOOR LIGHTING

Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home, and you can typically expect a 50 percent return on investment.

MOLDING

You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it’s extremely desirable among prospective buyers.

Taking Interior Design Online

The internet is forever evolving how we access goods and services, so why should home décor be any different? Homeowners have a plethora of resources they can look too when searching for décor inspiration online, including blogs, online magazines, and YouTube channels, but the newest fad is online interior design consultants. These online businesses employ professional interior designers and pair them with customers through their online platform.

Focused on flexibility and affordability, the designers interact with clients through phone, instant message, video chat, or a combination of the three. They start by determining their clients’ budget, preferences, and wish list by providing a survey or questionnaire. They also request a home layout and room measurements.

As a final deliverable, the designer recommends furnishings, paint, décor, and more for each room that fits within the homeowners’ budget and providers a rending of the design. Customers then sign off on the full design or pieces of the design. They can request for the designers to purchase the items for them or receive a shopping list to do it themselves. There are a ton of interior design businesses popping up online, including the following:

Affordable Interior Design offers a free 15-minute video or phone consultation.

Modsy has packages starting at $199.

Decorist has packages starting at $299.

Decorilla has packages starting at $549.

Havenly has packages starting at $79.

Whether you need a complete home makeover or a little inspiration to revamp your bedroom, help from an online interior design consultant can be the convenient, cost-effective solution you are looking for.

5 Features Millennial Homebuyers Are Looking For

Millennials continue to be the largest segment of homebuyers according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Here are five features that tend to entice millennials who are looking to buy.

1. An Up-to-date Kitchen And Bath
Younger buyers often have limited funds for renovations, so it’s important that they have functional and inviting bathroom and kitchen spaces from the very start.

2. An Open Floor Plan
Having a formal dining room isn’t of particular importance to millennials, in fact, many prefer open spaces with no separation between kitchen, living room, and dining room. An open concept makes it easier to entertain everyone at once.

3. An Office
More and more jobs are offering work-from-home options, and there are also plenty of freelancers and telecommuters among millennials. A dedicated space for getting some work done can be a key attraction.

4. Friendly Location
With gas prices rising, many millennials prefer walking, biking, or public transit for their commutes. A great location is key.

5. Energy Savings
Millennials are often more conscious of energy conservation and efficiency. Energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, and quality insulation can make a huge difference.

5 Amazing Smart Kitchen Products

As technology continues to evolve year after year, new products hit the market that help make our lives easier. Check out these five amazing innovations that can assist you in the kitchen!

1. Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi 8-in-1 Multicooker

This handy appliance is an electric pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, warmer, and more. It’s compatible with Alexa and connects to Wi-Fi, allowing you to access more than 1,000 recipes, control cook settings, and check on your meal’s progress with their free app or voice assistant.

2. NutriBullet Balance Bluetooth Enabled Smart Blender.

Using Bluetooth to connect the blender to your smart device, you can use the free NutriBullet Balance app to set your health goals and select from hundreds of recipes. Then the blender counts calories, proteins, carbs, and more based on the volume of each ingredient you add.

3. Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker

By pairing this smart coffee maker with an Echo Dot, your morning routine becomes a little easier. Ask your Alexa app or the smart speaker to start brewing up to 12 cups of coffee, switch between regular or bold brew, or turn the coffee maker off.

4. Qi Aerista IoTea Brewer

Not a coffee fan? Not to worry, we have you covered. This smart tea brewer has 9 automatic tea programs for different types of tea and can be controlled with the free Qi Aerista app.

5. COSORI Smart Wi-Fi Air Fryer

Combining the power of this air fryer with the Echo Dot, use the voice assistant or the VeSync app to cook your favorite meals or choose from 100 pre-programed recipes.

Five Tips For Funding Your Next Vacation

There’s nothing quite like some well-earned time off in a cool new place, but vacations certainly don’t pay for themselves. Here are a few ideas for funding your next getaway.

1. The change jar: It’s not groundbreaking, but it works. Here’s an eye-opening stat: Putting $1.37 per day into your change jar adds up to $500 in a year!

2. Sell your stuff: We all have some clutter that we don’t need and have been looking for an excuse to get rid of, and that stuff can be pretty valuable. Think of what might be stored in your attic or basement—baseball cards, furniture, etc. It’s not junk, but it’s not doing you any good, and someone might find it valuable.

3. Set up a dedicated savings account: You could do this in your current bank account, or use one of several online services that are tailor-made for vacation savings. Have the money transferred directly from each paycheck so that you’re always saving on schedule.

4. Get the kids involved: Vacations are even more expensive when you’ve got a family. If your kids get money from jobs, chores, or an allowance, ask them to put a little money away for vacation here and there—it could end up paying for a meal or a night in a hotel.

5. Volunteer: Your church or community center probably organizes low-cost vacations where you can visit a new place and do some good by giving back to the community.

Choose The Right Paint Finish

It can be intimidating to stand in front of the paint swatches at the paint or hardware store and try to make a decision. Picking a color can be difficult enough—and then you have to choose the finish. Choosing the color is up to you, but here’s a simple guide to choosing the correct finish for your project.

High Gloss
High gloss paint has the most sheen, and will be the most durable. That durability is best suited for the kitchen, on surfaces like cabinets, door frames, and window trim. It’s best to avoid using high gloss on walls, because it will be too reflective.

Semi-Gloss
It’s not as shiny as high gloss, but it’s still great for kitchens and bathrooms, because the sheen protects from drips, splatters, and other moisture.

Satin
Satin has a velvet-like look, but is still a durable finish, and works best in high-traffic areas. Be careful when applying, because satin paint will reveal sloppy brush strokes.

Eggshell and Flat
These finishes have the least amount of sheen, and are the least durable. They’re great for hiding imperfections in your walls, but the low durability means they should be avoided if the room is subject to wear and tear from kids or pets. Use these paints in dining rooms, bedrooms, and other low-traffic rooms.

Five Home Repairs To Budget For

You’re going to have to do some regular repairs and maintenance on your home—it’s just a fact of home ownership. So that you’re not caught unprepared, it’s a good idea to keep a budget and set aside some funds for when the following repairs inevitably come up.

Light switches: Beyond your typical light bulb replacements, the wiring can occasionally go bad in a light fixture, causing it to be unresponsive when you turn the light on. An electrician can fix it quickly for around $100.

Gutter maintenance: Over time, the weight and weather will be too much for your gutters, causing them break away from the home and require fixing. It’s possible to fix them yourself, but it will typically cost up to $400 to have them fixed professionally.

Drywall repairs: It’s easier than you’d think to put a hole in your walls, especially if you bump them when moving furniture. It can cost up to $300 for professional repairs.

Running toilet: The moving parts and valves in a toilet can wear out over the years, and you’ll want to get it fixed quickly to save on water bills and keep your bathrooms usable. It’s about a two-hour job to fix for professional plumbers, and they charge up to $150 an hour, depending on your market.

Tile repairs: Tile goes through a lot of abuse, and it’s not just impact from heavy objects that can damage individual tiles—years of foot traffic will also cause damage. Repair costs can vary greatly because of the cost of individual tiles, but it’s good to set aside around $200.

The Ins And Outs Of Home Inspection

Home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. After finding the perfect house, you will want to ensure that there are no hidden faults that may require lengthy and expensive repairs or renovations down the line.

To prepare you for this process, here are the top four things you need to know.

The buyer is responsible for the inspection. Make sure you give yourself ample time to find a reputable, certified home inspector by asking for referrals from your real estate agent, friends, and family and do your research online. Plus, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the inspection into your budget.

Home inspectors are usually generalists. They will evaluate most areas of your home, such as the foundation, basement, plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, walls, floors, ceilings, and attics. But, if your home is equipped with special features, like a pool or chimney, you may need to hire a specialist.

Buyers can attend the inspection. In fact, a lot of inspectors suggest it! This is an opportunity for you to get any outstanding questions regarding the condition of the house you are purchasing answered.

You have options if the inspection uncovers a problem. If the problems discovered are serious, like structural damage or safety issues, the seller is legally required to fix them. You also have the option to back out of the purchase without facing any consequences. If the problems are smaller, you can submit a formal request for repairs and negotiate for them to cover some or all of the cost.

How Do HOAs Work?

When you purchase a home, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay a homeowners association fee, especially in gated communities, townhouses, condominiums, and other similar planned neighborhoods. The idea is to keep common areas clean and maintained, and there’s usually an HOA board that is responsible for setting the rules and regulations.

Each HOA is different, but most have the same core elements. You’ll typically pay your HOA fees either monthly or annually, and it’s an important factor to consider when you’re weighing your options for a new home. So what is typically included in your HOA fees?

First, the fun stuff
Amenities are typically the big perk of living in a community with an HOA. While you lose out on some of the freedom of living without an HOA, you instead get community amenities like a maintained pool, gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. The HOA fees pay for cleaning and maintenance, so—in theory—you’ll always have a clean pool whenever you want to use it.

Protecting the community
HOA fees often contribute to insurance for the community amenities, as well as a fund for unexpected repairs to damaged community property—think damage from weather or accidents.

General maintenance
Your HOA fees will go toward maintaining the general safety and upkeep of the community. This means things like elevator maintenance for condominiums, snow removal, and trash/recycling services.

Be active in the association
There may be a board of directors, but homeowners associations exist for the betterment of the entire community, and every voice matters. HOA meetings—and the amenities they support—provide great opportunities to meet your neighbors and make your community a better place.