Archive for the ‘Tips, Trends, Tactics for People in the Real Estate Market’ Category

The Real Estate Market in Harrisburg PA: The New Normal…

The Real Estate Market in Harrisburg PA: The New Normal…

 

The real estate market conditions in the greater Harrisburg – Hershey area have been a bit confusing over the past six months. Depending on the day, you may see one report that shows the market going up and another that shows the market is heading down. I can imagine you are sitting back wishing we could all get our stories to line up together.

I want to share some important information about the real estate market that I think is misunderstood by the consumer as well as the real estate agents themselves.

Let me start off with some basic facts:

– The market remains to be very active

– Real Estate prices have stabilized

– Average Days on Market is still reasonable

Additional information you will find interesting:

– We have seen a “steady” trend in the amount of monthly sales transactions over the last 6 months. Values are not increasing to speak of; yet they are no longer decreasing.

– We have seen interest rates increase slightly on people with less than perfect credit.

– We are seeing a slow-down in new construction sales

– We are noticing builder discounts and incentives being advertised to get rid of standing inventory.
So, what is really happening in our market?

This is the question that everyone is asking yet very few people want to answer. The answer is not a simple statement. The answer requires a much longer explanation than you would care to read in this email. I have answered these questions dozens of times for my clients and I am happy to answer your questions as well. I can share in detail what I see and why this may be the ‘New Normal’.

 

If there is anything else that I can do for you, please let me know. I will continue to be your South Central PA Real Estate Resource. I know you have the choice to work with thousands of real estate agents yet I am the ONE Agent that is trying to keep you informed about your business. Let me know what I can do help you.

 

Your Agent Today, Your Agent for Life…

Halloween Events in the Harrisburg PA Area 2011

Halloween Events in the Harrisburg PA Area 2011

Here is a list of Trick or Treat nights in the Harrisburg PA area, along with Halloween parades, Corn Mazes, Haunted Forests, etc. Such a fun time of year!

Happy Halloween!

Harrisburg Area Halloween Events

            Trick-or-Treat:
                               
Camp Hill              Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                East Hanover      Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm

                               
Hershey                  Monday October 31 from 6-8pm
                                Hummelstown  Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                Lower Paxton     Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                Middletown         Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                Palmyra                  Monday October 31 from 6-8pm
                                Paxtang                   Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                South Hanover  Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                Swatara Twp        Thursday October 27 from 6-8pm
                                West Hanover     Thursday October 27 from 6-8

            Halloween Parades:
                                BOILING SPRINGS       Thursday, October 20 @ 7PM
                                CAMP HILL                       Tuesday, October 25 @ 6PM
                                CARLISLE                           Monday, October 17 @ 7PM
                                EAST PENN/ ENOLA    Wednesday, October 26 @ 7PM
                                HERSHEY                            Tuesday October 25 @ 7pm
                                HUMMELSTOWN           Monday, October 31 @ 7PM
                                DAUPHIN                             Saturday, October 15 @ 1PM
                                DILLSBURG                        Saturday, October 15 @ 8PM
                                GRANTVILLE (East Hanover) Thursday, October 20 @ 7PM
                                LOWER SWATARA         Thursday, October 20 @ 6PM
                                MARYSVILLE                    Monday, October 24 @ 7PM
                                MECHANICSBURG         Tuesday, October 11 @ 7PM
                                MIDDLETOWN                 Monday, October 17 @ 7PM
                                MILLERSBURG                 Wednesday, October 19 @ 7PM
                                MT. GRETNA                      Friday, October 28 @ 7PM
                                MT. HOLLY SPRINGS   Wednesday, October 19 @ 7PM
                                NEW BLOOMFIELD       Saturday, October 29 @ 10:30AM
                                NEW CUMBERLAND     Tuesday, October 25 @ 7:30PM
                                NEWPORT                            Tuesday, October 25 @ 6PM
                                NEWVILLE                          Monday, October 24 @ 7PM
                                PAXTANG                             Tuesday, October 25 @ 7PM
                                PENBOOK                              Thursday, October 20 @ 7PM
                                S. HANOVER TWP           Tuesday October 25 @ 7PM

Lancaster Halloween Events

Reading/Berks Halloween Events

York/Adams Halloween Events

These are just a sampling of some of the fun Halloween Events in the Harrisburg PA area in 2011 that are going on! Be safe… and have a Happy Halloween!

Harrisburg PA Real Estate Expert

Ken Huebsch is the premier real estate agent in the Greater Harrisburg area.  I am a specialist in Harrisburg real estate as well as the communities of Palmyra, Hershey, and Hummelstown.  My wife Leslye and I have a combined 40 plus years’ experience serving our clients -We KNOW Harrisburg. When you plan to buy or sell Harrisburg area real estate, allow us to work for you.  We are dedicated professionals and are here for your success.  For more information on how we can best serve your real estate needs, please complete our online contact form or give us a call.  Also, check out what our fabulous clients have to say about us on our testimonials page!

Cell: 717 514-1793                                               Email: mailto:Ken@KensHomesales.com

Presented by KensHomesales.com

How to Buy a House in Harrisburg PA – Why Days on Market Matters

How to Buy a House in Harrisburg PA –  Why Days on Market Matters

 

One of the first questions buyers ask me when considering how to buy a house, occurs when I hold an open house. They want to know its days on market. One of the first things a buyer asks about a listing is its days on market. Days on market matter when you’re on the hunt to learn how to buy a house.

How to Buy a House – Do Average Days on Market Matter?

Which is more important? The “average days” on market or the “number of days” on market of each listing? If you’re a buyer, of course, it’s the home you want to buy that matters when thinking about how to buy a house.  If you’re a seller whose home has been on the market for 60 days, you want to know how long it is taking homes like yours to sell.

How to Buy a House – How Buyers Look at Days on Market

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. When buyers see extensive days on market, they figure the seller is desperate to sell because the home is still on the market. Buyers also believe there might be something wrong with the home that caused other buyers to pass it up. Both of those assumptions, however, can be wrong.

How to Buy a House – Homes can Linger on the Market for the following Reasons:

  • The common reason is overpricing.
    The agent may have “bought” the listing by misleading the seller into believing the home was worth more than the market will bear. It’s not unusual for an agent to deliberately take an overpriced listing.
  • Little seller motivation.
    Sometimes sellers want to “test the market” by pricing too high, just to see if they can find a fool to pay that price. It’s known as a seller’s worst mistake.
  • Stubbornness.
    Sellers could be stuck on the price and willing to wait out the market until the market catches up to the asking price.
  • Down real estate market.
    In buyer’s markets, it can take longer to sell a home than in seller’s markets. A home that would sell in five days in a seller’s market might sell in 120+ days in a down real estate market.
  • Unavailable to show.
    If the property is tenant occupied, it might be difficult to obtain an appointment from the tenant. In most cases, homes with a lockbox get shown more often than those without.
  • Unsuitable to show.
    Sometimes sellers put homes on the market before they are ready to let buyers see it. They might be finishing resale repairs or painting during the first 30 to 60 days of a listing.
  • Reduced commission.
    Although buying agents are required to show all listings, many agents refuse to show homes that don’t pay the same commission as competing homes. Often these homes are listed by discount brokers.
  • Little Internet or MLS exposure.
    If the home has one photograph in MLS, buyers are likely to pass on the listing and instead choose homes to see that have multiple photographs.

How to Buy a House – Finding Out the Cumulative Days on Market

Some MLS systems refuse to let agents withdraw a listing and enter it as a new listing without first canceling or expiring the listing. In either case, it is relatively easy for an agent to determine the number of days on market; it’s not so easy for a buyer.

  • Check Listing History.
    One way is to enter the address of the property into MLS to find duplicate, expired or withdrawn listings. In the Sacramento MLS, this is known as pulling the “history” of the property.
  • Look for Cumulative DOM.
    Some MLS have changed the way listings are reported and will include cumulative days on market in the listing itself.
  • Ask Your Agent.
    If you are working with a neighborhood specialist, your agent will have a fairly good idea if the home has been listed before, for how long and by whom.
  • Ask the Listing Agent.
    Since real estate agents cannot misrepresent a property, you might ask the listing agent a direct question. Do not ask how long the home has been on the market because there might have been a price reduction, so the agent will feel justified in telling you the days on market at the new price. Ask if it has expired / withdrawn / canceled and then relisted. Be specific.
  • Search Online.
    Enter the property address several different ways into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. All of its previous online listings should pop up.
  • Ask Neighbors.
    Neighbors know everything that goes on in their area and often are more than happy to tell you how long a home has been on the market.

 

When thinking about how to buy a house, buyers figure the longer a home has been on the market, the more eager a seller is to sell. If the seller is eager to sell, the seller might be willing to negotiate a much lower price. So, you can see how this piece of knowledge is useful to buyers.

 

 

Harrisburg PA Real Estate Expert

Ken Huebsch is your premier real estate agent in the Greater Harrisburg area.  I am a specialist in Harrisburg real estate as well as the communities of Palmyra, Hershey, and Hummelstown.  My wife Leslye and I have a combined 40 plus years experience serving our clients -We KNOW Harrisburg. When you plan to buy or sell Harrisburg area real estate, allow us to work for you.  We are dedicated professionals and are here for your success.  For more information on how we can best serve your real estate needs, please complete our online contact form or give us a call.  Also, check out what our fabulous clients have to say about us on our testimonials page!

Cell: 717 514-1793                       Email: mailto:Ken@KensHomesales.com

Presented by KensHomesales.com

 

 

 

 

How to Sell a House in Harrisburg, PA – Three Ways to Get Your Home Sold!

How to Sell a House in Harrisburg, PA –
Three Ways to Help Get Your Home Sold!

 

How to sell a house? The challenged market these days makes it very difficult for homeowners to sell a house.  A few years ago, it was more than enough to put up a listing and let the home sell itself.  But now, during a time when in most markets inventory levels exceed six months or more, it is no wonder that people struggle with how to sell a house. They need as many tools as possible to help the process along.

While struggling with how to sell a house, factor in that you are competing directly with your neighbors also vying to sell their homes. You really have to get an edge somehow.  In this article, there are three smart ways to sell a house,  and to do so within a reasonable time.

How to Sell a House: Accurate Pricing Sets the Precedent for Successful Selling

It used to be that it was all about location.  You know the famous phrase: “Location, location, location!” but in today’s tip, it is not so much about location as it is about price.  Simply put, your price advertises your motivation.  If you are a homeowner wanting to sell a house, but refuse to budge on a selling price despite getting no offers even after the property has had over 90 Days On Market– maybe it is time to rethink your strategy. Similarly, homeowners who price too low give off the impression that there must be something wrong with the property.

It is important to price accurately and realistically.  Study the prices of similar homes sold in the same area.  Consider a consultation with me to obtain in-depth studies and reports that demonstrate a wider scope of statistics that will help you set your price.  Examples of things that may affect your price are the amount of tax, the age of your community, whether or not it is located near a commercial zone, etc.

How to Sell a House: Making Sure Your Home is Dressed to the Nines Attracts More Buyers

Sure.. in the dating scene we need to look our best if we want to “sell” our look and get people interested.  Houses are not much different.  If you dress up your home to perfection, set it up in a way that will have potential buyers “oohing” and “aahing” over features that are highlighted because of the way you have it arranged, you’re in great shape to sell a house.

Many people have no idea how to stage homes, so there are professional stagers that can come out and help you set up your home and make it display ready.  Keep in mind that the standard you should maintain to sell a house is similar to that of a design magazine.  Imagine that a professional crew will photograph your home, so you need to make sure there is no clutter and personal items are put away.

How to Sell a House: Being Accessible To Show Your Home Shows You Are Serious About Selling

These days buyers are much more savvy than they used to be.  They know they have the upper hand with inventory levels as much as they are nowadays and with the amount of competition some sellers have to face in today’s challenged real estate market.  So making your home available to show, as per the convenience of potential buyers, can really make a significant difference in your success rate when you sell a house. There are several factors to keep in mind when your house needs to be shown.  First, declutter the space and remove all personal artifacts that might hinder potential buyers from envisioning themselves in the home.  Second, make sure there are no pets or signs of pets left behind as this can be a put off for those people who do not have pets or who might have allergies.  Third, invest some time to ensure there is sufficient curb appeal.  Remember, when you sell a house, buyers should begin to fall in love with the home starting from the moment they see it, throughout their time inside and on the way out.

If you want to sell a house, then you will have to consider things from both sides of the fence.  What would buyers be willing to pay based on other properties sold in the area?  How attractive is the space?  Could it become home for the people that are showing some interest?  Finally, are you around to make the home available for serious buyers who don’t have time to waste?  Are you willing to accommodate requests to see the home at times that may not always be the most convenient for you?  Selling success, while largely depends on the market and trends dictated by other buyers, will also largely depend on how you – the seller — set the precedent.

If you would like to learn more on how to sell a house, contact me at 717.514-1793

Harrisburg PA Real Estate Expert

Ken Huebsch is your premier real estate agent in the Greater Harrisburg area.  I am a specialist in Harrisburg real estate as well as the communities of Palmyra, Hershey, and Hummelstown.  My wife Leslye and I have a combined 40 plus years experience serving our clients -We KNOW Harrisburg. When you plan to buy or sell Harrisburg area real estate, allow us to work for you.  We are dedicated professionals and are here for your success.  For more information on how we can best serve your real estate needs, please complete our online contact form or give us a call.  Also, check out what our fabulous clients have to say about us on our testimonials page!

Cell: 717 514-1793                       Email: mailto:Ken@KensHomesales.com

Presented by KensHomesales.com

Buying a House in Harrisburg PA – 6 Reasons to Google the Address

Buying a House in Harrisburg PA –
6 Reasons to Google the Address

With virtually any type of information imaginable online, it makes sense when buying a house to do regular internet searches for the home’s address.

If you are considering buying a house, there are at least six compelling reasons it makes sense to do so, especially if it’s an address you’re thinking of renting, buying or selling. Smart homeowners would do well to search for their addresses, too, and here’s why:

Buying a House in Harrisburg PA - Google the Address

1. When Buying a House:  See If Megan’s Law Registrants Live Nearby

There is plenty of information available to the public when buying a house regarding registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Nearly every state that has a Megan’s Law-­type sex offender registry has an online version that serves up the names, addresses, sex-offense history, and even photos in many cases, of convicted sex-offenders.

So, when considering buying a house, Googling the address and “Megan’s Law”-or even the city or ZIP code and “Megan’s Law”-­will turn up a quick list of nearby registrants.

2. When Buying a House: Find Crime Reports and Data For The Home and Environs

When buying a house, consider that City, County, and State law enforcement agencies all post crime data online, but a Google search for the address or city and “crime reports” is most likely to turn up the local police office’s crime map. Or, you can check out Trulia Crime Maps when buying a house for a crime map of recent incident reports for the whole city, ZIP code or neighborhood. The map is color-­coded to represent the intensity of crimes in each area.

3. To Detect Scammers Trying to Rent or Sell Your House

Internet scammers have taken to ripping off home information and putting together fake listings offering other people’s homes for rent, or lease­to­own. They often list the home on extremely cheap and easy terms, and then ask the would-­be-­buyer or tenant to please wire or send the deposit money overseas. These scams often come to light only after the homeowner or current resident notices bargain-­hunters checking out the place.  If you start getting an inordinate amount of foot-traffic to your home, or someone knocking on your door asking if they can see the place, you may want to Google your address. If you find a fraudulent listing, identify yourself as the home’s rightful owner and ask the offending site to take the scam posting down stat!

4. When Buying a House:  See What the Neighbor’s Place Sold For and Possibly Lower Property Taxes

In real estate, the value of a home is largely driven by what is similar or how much nearby homes have sold for. When buying a house, search the address.  Trulia will first surface some sort of image of the home, a map, the basic property details from the public records (see No.5, below), and recent sales data for the home before listing out the comparable homes with similar numbers of beds, baths and square feet near yours, and what they recently sold for. When considering buying a house, if you see a pattern of homes selling for lower than the home’s assessed value, you can use those comps to petition the county to lower the property taxes!

5. When Buying a House:  To See the Home’s Property Records (attn: Homeowners, too!)

When buying a house, did you know that the home’s records online are populated from the public records? However, some of these are either so old they don’t include upgrades and additions, or they’re just flat-out wrong. If you Google the address, or search for it on Trulia, and find that the home’s description is riddled with errors, contact your county public record agency to correct them and edit your home facts on Trulia. This is particularly important if you’re planning to sell your home anytime soon.

6. When Buying a House or Selling a House:  See Your Home’s Google Street View

When you’re selling your home or buying a house, it’s especially critical to see everything that prospective homebuyers will see. That means checking out how your home’s listing looks on all the online real estate sites (yes, even on Trulia), checking out the flyer,  even stopping by to check out any staging your broker or agent did if you’ve already moved out.  One thing even the most savvy sellers don’t check out is the way Google Street View depicts your home. If you’re about to sell your home and you notice that the street view is outdated, mention it to your agent, and ask them to make a note of that fact in the listing information.

© 2011 Trulia.com · All Rights Reserved.

Harrisburg PA Real Estate Expert

Ken Huebsch is your premier real estate agent in the Greater Harrisburg area.  I am a specialist in Harrisburg real estate as well as the communities of Palmyra, Hershey, and Hummelstown.  My wife Leslye and I have a combined 40 plus years experience serving our clients -We KNOW Harrisburg. When you plan to buy or sell Harrisburg area real estate, allow us to work for you.  We are dedicated professionals and are here for your success.  For more information on how we can best serve your real estate needs, please complete our online contact form or give us a call.  Also, check out what our fabulous clients have to say about us on our testimonials page!

Cell: 717 514-1793                                                 Email: mailto:Ken@KensHomesales.com

 
Presented by KensHomesales.com

Summer Utility Tips for Harrisburg PA

Summer Utility Tips for Harrisburg PA

Saving Money on Summer Utilities Can Save Hundreds of Dollars Each Year

There are countless methods available for lowering your energy bills and one of the best times to cut back is during the dog days of summer. Making the proper adjustments to your home and your lifestyle can work wonders in helping save money on electric bills but also do your part to help the environment as well. Just like other money leaks, just spending $10 or $20 more a month than you have to is very costly over time.

1. Save Money Cooling Your Living Space

The US Department of Energy has estimated that 31% of all energy costs in the home are devoted to keeping the living space at a comfortable temperature, especially during the hottest and coldest months. For many people, summer is a big energy drain because of the need to cool the home to a comfortable level.

Saving money on your home energy bills all year round requires proper ventilation and insulation of your space as a foundation for controlling the heating or air conditioning applied to the home interior. According to Greenpeace.org, improving the insulation and ventilation can reduce heating needs to about one third (or 50 kWh heat/m2/y) to 1/10 of that of other average homes. If your home is properly insulated and has good ventilation you can save money without having to keep your house really cold in the winter and warm in the summer. You can have comfort year round.

2. Head Off Hot Water

Over-consumption of hot water is the second-largest area of energy usage, and should be addressed at the source of the problem — reduce the amount of water released into the house. Replace any inefficient faucet or especially shower head in the home (this alone can save almost 1500 kWh electricity if using an electric boiler, or 1900 kWh of heat using a gas or oil boiler). Not only will a more efficient shower head reduce your energy bill by cutting back on electricity or gas usage, but you’ll be simply using less water as a whole which is good for everyone.

Beyond reducing your hot water usage you can go a step further and tackle wasted energy at the water heater itself. These heaters will have a thermostat that allows you to set how hot you want the water to be, so just like knocking off a few degrees on your furnace thermostat will make your furnace run less the same is true for your water heater.

In some cases this isn’t enough and you may simply have such an old water heater that it’s using far too much energy compared to newer models. Technology has come a long way and spending a few hundred dollars on a new energy efficient model could pay for itself in no time.

3. Go Energy Star

Become more conscious of your appliances in terms of their Energy Star rating or qualifications. According to advice from EnergyStar.gov, for example, swapping out your old incandescent light bulbs for a “compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.”

Major appliances in the home that also guzzle a lot of electricity include the modern flat screen television and the refrigerator. If you have the option to turn a major appliance completely off and avoid a standby mode you can see significant savings. If your refrigerator hasn’t been cleaned in a while you can do wonders for its efficiency if you spend a few minutes cleaning all of the dust clogging the coils either behind or underneath the unit. And ultimately, like an old water heater you may be simply better off replacing your unit with a newer and more efficient model. It will cost money up front but the savings might be far greater than any small improvements you can make with the old one.

4. Dry Clothes Naturally

Clothes dryers are modern technological marvels, but highly inefficient. The increased use of home drying machines ratchets up energy consumption significantly. Try air drying clothes, especially during the warmer months of the year when it’s easier for the natural heat to do it without a machine — your utility bill will thank you for it.

5. Check Your Attic

One of the reasons the air conditioner works so hard to cool the house is that some spaces get much hotter than others, but particularly the attic since it may receive the bulk of the heat through the roof courtesy of the baking sun. Consider installing a radiant barrier roof decking product, which can prevent up to 97% of the radiant heat the sun is beating down upon the roof from getting into the attic. This will lower attic temperature by about 30% and would thereby reduce the amount of work your air conditioner needs to do in order to keep the house cool.

If installing a radiant barrier isn’t something you can do right now a cheaper option may be to install an attic fan. Installing this large fan can create a massive flow of air that pulls in cooler air at the lower levels and then expels it out through the top of the attic. These can be especially helpful in two-story houses and can save upwards of 30% on your cooling costs overall.

Can’t afford an attic fan? Here’s the ultimate frugal route if you have a multi-story house. Grab a box fan or two and take them upstairs to the highest windows in the house. Put them in the window so that the fan is blowing air to the outside. Then be sure to go downstairs and open up the windows on the lowest level. You’ll create the same effect of drawing in cool air from the lowest levels and expelling it out through the highest point. This works best when it’s not excessively hot outside.

6. Go Low-Tech

In many cases simply going back to low-tech methods can do a lot to keep your energy bills down. Installing a humble ceiling fan can reduce your needs for full air-conditioning most of the time. It will help circulate the air in the house and create a constant light breeze which may be just enough to make a warm day comfortable.

No ceiling fans? No worries. For as little as $20 you can buy a powerful standalone fan that can be used anywhere in the house. Put it next to you when you’re in the living room watching TV or take it into the bedroom when you’re going to sleep.

And finally, use some common sense and pay attention to the weather. Sometimes it can be very hot during the day but cool down to very comfortable temperatures at night. If you look ahead and see that it’s going to cool off nicely you can turn off your AC before bed and open the windows to let the night air naturally cool the house.

7. Consider an Energy-Efficient Mortgage (EEM)

Buying a new home? You may want to consider a new Energy-Efficient Mortgage, or EEM. EEMs are typically used to purchase a new home that is already energy efficient such as an Energy Star qualified home. The term EEM is commonly used to refer to all types of energy mortgages including Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs), which are used to purchase existing homes that will have energy efficiency improvements made to them. EIMs allow borrowers to include the cost of energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home in the mortgage without increasing the down payment.

While not for everyone, and certainly only if you are serious about having an energy efficient home, these loans can be a way to help you maximize efficiency without breaking the bank. For more information on EEMs you can visit the page dedicated to them on the Energy Star site.

Harrisburg PA Real Estate Expert

Ken Huebsch is your premier real estate agent in the Greater Harrisburg area.  I am a specialist in Harrisburg real estate  as well as the communities of Palmyra, Hershey, and Hummelstown.  My wife Leslye and I have 40 plus years experience serving our clients -We KNOW Harrisburg. When you plan to buy or sell Harrisburg area real estate, allow us to work for you.  We are dedicated professionals and are here for your success.  For more information on how we can best serve your real estate needs, please complete our online contact form or give us a call.  Also, check out what our fabulous clients have to say about us on our testimonials page!

Cell: 717 514-1793
email: mailto:Ken@KensHomesales.com

Fall Maintenance Tips in Harrisburg PA

Fall Maintenance Tips in Harrisburg PA

Fall is upon us and that means cooler weather is setting in. With this colder weather comes higher energy costs when heating your home, additional chores to take care of around the house, and the potential for damage to your home thanks to the weather. So, before the really cold weather arrives you should use this time to do some fall maintenance to ensure your home is ready for the winter. This can not only help you save money by making your home more efficient, but it could also prevent significant and costly damage if a problem goes unnoticed through winter.

Outside Jobs

1. Clean the gutters.

Your gutters are important part in keeping your home in good working order. Did you know that clogged gutters can lead to everything from roof damage to a flooded basement? The gutters should be collecting the water from your roof and safely diverting it down and away from the house. Clogged gutters mean the water will not flow away from the house and will fall right next to your foundation. Heavy rains could then lead to water entering your basement. Even worse, this could pose a significant problem in freezing weather when the water freezes and you end up with heavy ice dams on your roof. The weight and leaking water can also cause significant roof damage.

Cleaning your gutters is as easy as getting a ladder and going up and pulling out all of the junk that has collected in there. A pair of gloves makes this job a little more enjoyable. If you live in an area surrounded by trees you may have significant buildup in the fall as the leaves drop, so you might want to do this chore a few times. And don’t neglect the downspouts. These can also get clogged and they are vital in moving the water away from the house. If you can’t see if they are clogged you can take a small bucket of water up and dump it down the spout and see how fast the water flows out at the bottom. If it doesn’t rush right out there might be some blockage. You can try using a long pole or pipe of some sort to dislodge what’s in there. If you can’t reach it you might want to opt for replacing the downspout. The materials are fairly inexpensive and it’s usually a simple job.

2. Repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.

If you live in an area that experiences temperatures below freezing, then you should look to repair cracks in your cement before the cold sets in. When water gets into these cracks and freezes it expands. This expanding ice can not only make the existing crack worse, but it can create even more cracks and even lift portions of the cement up and make it uneven. You can find various sealers to apply to the cracks at your local hardware store and it’s relatively cheap and easy to apply. Replacing concrete can be costly, so if you can prevent damage and make it last as long as possible you’ll save money in the long run.

3. Inspect your chimney.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace it’s important you inspect and clean your chimney before using it. A clogged or dirty chimney or flue can be extremely dangerous and it could result in dangerous gasses filling up your house to starting a fire. If this is a job you’re not equipped to do on your own it’s well worth the money to pay a professional. Your life and home is far too valuable to skip this annual task.

4. Remove hoses and clutter from your yard.

As the cold weather settles in you’re probably going to be spending less time outside so it’s a good time to start picking up around the yard. If you have hoses, make sure they are drained and properly stored. If left attached and full of water they can freeze and burst, thus requiring you to buy a new hose next spring. You’ll also want to take some time and go around the yard and clean up the fallen debris, but also take some time to retrieve any tools that may have been left behind. Especially if you have kids, you don’t want to let them go play out in the snow only to have them accidentally stumble onto a misplaced rake or other item left hidden under the snow.

 

Inside Jobs

1. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Since the weather will be colder that means you’ll be spending more time with all of the windows closed and possibly even running the heat. That means there is a chance of carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer so don’t take a chance. A basic detector can be had for as little as $20 and it could save your life. And don’t forget to check the batteries in your smoke alarms. Again, batteries are cheap and it’s a small price to pay when it comes to protecting your family.

2. Clean out the dryer vent.

Did you know that the U.S. Fire Administration estimates that dirty dryer vents are responsible for at least 15,600 home fires each year? Since you’re already checking other areas of your house for fire prevention it’s a good idea to add the dryer vent to your list. Make sure it is free of lint buildup and there are no other obstructions. It is also a good time to make sure your vent is properly sealed where it exits the house. Large gaps around the vent can be a significant area of heat loss.

3. Check and replace furnace filters.

Before firing up the furnace for the first time of the season you should check the filter. Dirty filters are inefficient since air flows less freely. This results in your furnace running longer and using more energy just to keep the house up to the right temperature. You’ll usually have to replace the filters at least twice a year so if you can, see if you can buy filters in bulk or in a multi-pack. This way you’ll not only save money, but you’ll have the filters on hand so that you’re more likely to change them again when they get dirty.

4. Inspect and/or flush the hot water heater.

As time goes by sediment collects in your hot water heater. This sediment forces your water heater to work even harder and could possibly even lead to leaks. If you’ve never drained your heater and have been using it for years you’re way overdue. Generally, it’s as simple as hooking a hose up to the bottom valve and opening it and the water is drained away along with most of the sediment. In addition to eliminating the sediment you might want to consider additional insulation if your water heater is in an unfinished part of the house like a cold basement. They make special insulation to wrap around your heater and you should also insulate the pipes that are attached to the heater to minimize heat loss.

5. Check the remainder of the house for energy leaks.

When was the last time you looked up in your attic? You might want to take a peak up there and see what type of insulation you have. Losing heat through the roof of your house is the number one source of heat loss so having inadequate insulation up there can be costly. Check the R-value and see if that is sufficient for your needs. You can actually look up R-values and see how effective each is for certain climates and usage at energy.gov.

It’s also a good idea to inspect all of your doors and windows for possible leaks. Over time the weather-stripping can wear down and create gaps that is a prime source of heat loss and drafts. Usually a leak can be fixed with just a new piece of stripping or some caulk so it’s an easy and cheap fix that could save a lot of money on your heating bill.

6. Consider a programmable thermostat.

If you’re like most households and aren’t at home all day every day it can make sense to install a programmable thermostat. This allows you to specify the times and temperatures to keep your house at. For example, if nobody is home between 8am and 6pm there’s no need to keep the whole house at 70 degrees. With a programmable thermostat you can tell it to keep the heat off or at least at a much lower temp during those hours and then automatically kick back up right before you get home in the evening. Since your furnace will be running much less with this setup it will pay for the cost of the thermostat in no time.

Harrisburg PA Real Estate Expert

Ken Huebsch is your premier real estate agent in the Greater Harrisburg area.  I am a specialist in Harrisburg real estate  as well as the communities of Palmyra, Hershey, and Hummelstown.  My wife Leslye and I have 40 plus years experience serving our clients -We KNOW Harrisburg. When you plan to buy or sell Harrisburg area real estate, allow us to work for you.  We are dedicated professionals and are here for your success.  For more information on how we can best serve your real estate needs, please complete our online contact form or give us a call.  Also, check out what our fabulous clients have to say about us on our testimonials page!

Cell: 717 514-1793
email: mailto:Ken@KensHomesales.com