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How can the influx of overseas buyers be a boon to your business?

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Kijner & Sons International Realty
is pleased to share with you a recent article entitled "How can the influx of overseas buyers be a boon to your business?" featuring Daniel Kijner in the January-February 2014 issue of The Residential Specialist, an award-winning bimonthly magazine published by the Council of Residential Specialists (CRS)*.

CRS member and senior broker owner of KSI Realty, Daniel Kijner is interviewed by Gwen Moran in a piece based on a 2013 report from the National Association of Realtors® on International buyers activities in the United States. As a Realtor® in Miami, Florida with Fortune International Realty, Daniel who works with overseas investors on a daily basis, shares his thoughts on why motivates international buyers to invest in the U.S. and how important it is to understand their cultural differences and mindset to establish trust and a successful business relationship.

To read the full article, please see below.   

Questions? Comments? Are you looking to invest in or relocate to Miami or Sarasota, Florida? We can help! Contact us today at info@kijner.com

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*"The Council of Residential Specialists is a professional network of nearly 33,000 residential real estate professionnals from across the country and around the globe (...) commited to achieving success in helping their clients and customers complete a home sale or purchase":
 https://crs.com/about-us

Fireplace Maintenance and Safety

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


A wood burning fireplace is an appealing feature of many homes. If you have not replaced your wood burning fireplace with a gas or propane fueled one, there are precautions you should take to stay safe and warm, and to maximize your enjoyment of a cozy fire.

Annual Inspections - Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional to ensure that it’s obstruction free and clear of creosote – a black, oily substance that builds up on the inside walls of the chimney. Because creosote is highly combustible, a thick accumulation creates a serious hazard that can put your home at risk of a major fire. 

Feeding Your Fire – Use dry, well-seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Avoid using pine and other oily woods, as these will not burn cleanly. If you choose to use manufactured fire “logs”, do not burn them with real wood to avoid the possibility of flare-ups. 

Plan Ahead - Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials. Use a metal mesh screen that covers the opening, whether you have glass fireplace doors or not. Leave glass doors open while a fire is burning to ensure good ventilation and airflow.

When to Clean - During periods of heavy use, clean the firebox regularly once the embers are cold. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the coals to heat faster and retain heat longer. Do not use a vacuum to clean up fresh ashes, as embers can smolder for as long as several days after the fire is out, creating a real fire hazard. 

Upkeep - Check that vents are unobstructed and able to do their job. Clean the fan and all air circulation passages. In non-wood burning fireplaces, clean and adjust glowing embers and logs for best appearance. 

Cap Your Chimney - Have a cap installed at the top of the chimney to deter animals from entering, help prevent water damage and keep debris from blocking the opening. A spark arrestor will prevent live embers from escaping the chimney and landing on nearby roofs.

Safety First - Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with charged batteries. 

Use Common Sense - Never leave the fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed, and keep children and pets away from the fireplace.

Be Community Aware – Many local ordinances prohibit the burning of wood, manufactured logs, or pellets on days or nights when the amount of particulate matter in the air reaches a predetermined level.  Be sure to check with your local air quality district or fire department before lighting your next fire.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy or sell a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 25th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (January 31st, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

How to control indoor humidity

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


High humidity in the home can cause more than discomfort. Excessive moisture can promote mold and mildew growth, and when combined with warm temperatures can also allow dust mites to thrive. The causes of high relative humidity (RH) levels are varied. Showers, clothes dryers, steam from cooking, splashing from tubs and sinks, and other activities can increase humidity. Plumbing leaks, poor ventilation, and other structural and systemic issues are also likely culprits. If not addressed, excessive moisture can lead to odors, wood rot, problems with painted surfaces, and even structural damage.

The first step in determining if a home has elevated RH is to measure it using a hygrometer, which is readily available in hardware stores. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, keeping indoor humidity below 50% is best for warmer months, while levels as low as 30% are acceptable during colder weather. Measurements should be taken in various parts of the home to determine if high RH is localized to certain rooms or areas such as the basement or attic, or if the levels are elevated throughout the home.

Using exhaust fans to ventilate bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens is a very effective way to reduce RH. Exhaust fans should be used regularly and must be installed so that they vent to the outside. Another benefit is that odors and pollutants will be ventilated along with the moisture. Many newer exhaust fans are both extremely quiet and efficient. Exhaust fans should always be used especially after showering to not only rid the room of moisture-laden air, but to discourage condensation on walls, ceilings, and other surfaces.

Portable dehumidifiers can be used effectively in locally damp spaces such as a basement. Dehumidifiers work best at minimum temperatures of 65°F/18°C. If the space is cooler than this, the unit may ice up; some models have an automatic shutoff functions should this occur. The manufacturer will indicate the square footage appropriate for various models. A unit with insufficient capacity for a particular space will not effectively reduce humidity to desired levels and wastes energy, too.

Find and fix any local sources of excessive moisture. A leak in a basement or crawlspace wall can significantly raise humidity levels and should be addressed. Once the source of moisture is eliminated, RH in that area should fall. Be sure that clothes dryers vent to the outside at all times, and check the hose leading from the dryer to the vent to make sure it is clear of lint and other debris.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy or sell a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 25th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (January 15th, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Updating the kids’ rooms on a budget

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Whether it’s food, clothing, or especially their rooms, children’s likes, dislikes and tastes are ever-changing. “Themed” bedrooms are constantly being outgrown, yet most parents want their kids to have an environment they’ll enjoy spending time in for play, homework, and sleep. No need to break the bank -- it’s possible to decorate and equip a child’s room using some imagination and not a lot of money. Here are some ideas on how to pull it off.

  • Paint is your friend. Nothing transforms a room like a new coat of paint, especially if you go with a bright or trendy color selected by your child. If your child is old enough, get him or her involved in painting the walls or trim, and be sure to keep some extra paint for sure-to-be-needed touchups. Changing the color again in a couple of years is not difficult or time consuming; watch the home stores for paint sales and make your move. Add to the color scheme with inexpensive throw pillows or pillow covers.
  • Think twice before creating an entire room based on a very specific theme, such as a popular cartoon character, dinosaurs or space travel. Kids often lose interest quickly and shift their attention to the next thing that captures their imaginations. Instead, consider using just a few relatively inexpensive elements to recognize these interests – posters and collages are just a couple of ways to include a theme without going overboard. Garage sales can also be a good source of well-priced themed items that were previously loved by another child.
  • For larger items such as dressers, bed frames and other furniture, see if your community has a website that lists items for sale or trade. A quick coat of paint and minor repairs may be all that’s needed to transform an inexpensive (or free) piece into a real find. This ultimate form of recycling is also a great way to find new life for unwanted items from your own home.
  • Shelves and bookcases make great places for children of any age to create ever-changing displays that reflect their interests – from artwork and action figures to favorite books, or gear from their sports teams of the moment. The flexibility of these spaces will be appreciated by small children to teenagers for years to come.

With some creativity and resourcefulness, you and your children can create personal spaces that they’ll love, and that can be changed and updated without spending a fortune.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy or sell a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 24th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (January 5th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Considering Pre-Listing Home Inspections

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

As a real estate professional, you invest a great deal of time, money, and energy to market your listings. Between advertising, open houses, and meeting with clients, you need to get a good return on that investment. Don’t be caught unaware of problems that could seriously undermine your dedicated efforts to sell a home. Having a home inspected before it’s listed is more important than ever in the current real estate market, so make the most of your time and effort by recommending a professional home inspection prior to listing.

A pre-listing home inspection can uncover previously unknown problems – major and minor – allowing sellers the opportunity to make repairs or replacements as needed or as they wish. By addressing these issues before the home goes on the market, you can list a home with greater knowledge of its condition and will have a better chance of maximizing its value. Being aware of issues in advance will also allow for disclosure of problems when selling, which can result in cleaner offers and a smoother transaction for both parties. Having well-informed sellers and buyers will work to everyone’s advantage, including yours.

Be sure that the home inspection is comprehensive and that you can get the report immediately upon completion of the inspection. This will allow your sellers to get the information they need right away, so they can decide on their next steps prior to listing. Photographs should also always be part of a professional report so that full documentation of conditions is available to both the sellers and potential buyers. This is especially important when it comes to disclosure of issues that might not be addressed or repaired prior to sale.

With a pre-listing inspection in hand, you can market your sellers’ homes with confidence.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy or sell a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 24th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (December 19th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Pre-sale Home Repairs Can Add Value

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Many home sellers often overlook easy and relatively inexpensive fixes that can add real value to a home’s selling price. While major remodeling is costly and may not address the needs and tastes of prospective buyers, these repairs and maintenance suggestions have universal appeal and may help a home sell more quickly – and for a better price.

INTERIOR

  • Bathrooms and the kitchen should be given a deep cleaning. Sellers should consider having a cleaning company that offers “move in / move out” cleaning services to do the job.
  • If kitchen cabinet exteriors are in bad shape, refacing may be an option. Far less expensive than new cabinetry, refacing can give old and worn cabinets new life and can visually update a kitchen.
  • Consider replacing kitchen or bathroom counters with a neutral colored laminate surface if the current material is badly worn or stained. This gives everything a fresh look and prevents buyers from focusing on an eyesore. 
  • Fresh paint on the walls and ceilings will do wonders for all rooms in the house. Stick to neutral colors so that buyers aren’t distracted by colors that make a statement. They’ll be able to imagine themselves and their furniture in the space much more easily.
  • If carpet covers up hardwood floors, consider having it removed to expose the hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are desirable, so they should be shown off. If carpet is to remain, it should be thoroughly cleaned.

EXTERIOR

  • If the entire exterior needs painting, do it. Buyers notice if paint is faded and peeling. If the paint is in good shape overall, renew the doors and trim with a fresh coat.
  • Clean the windows inside and out so they sparkle. It’s amazing what a difference this can make in a home’s appearance. Hiring a professional window cleaning company is the easiest and safest way to get the job done on a multi-story home.
  • Clear clutter from the yard, keep the lawn mowed, and trim any overgrown shrubs that are detracting from the home’s appearance. The home should look well maintained even at first glance.
  • Plant some bright, colorful flowers along an entry path and doorway to add a welcoming touch.

Homeowners should save major remodeling projects – and the budget required – for their new home, not the one they are about to sell. But implementing some of the steps above can increase the appeal to prospective buyers without a huge investment in time or money.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 23rd Edition of CRS Consumer Article (November 30th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Looking up: Ceiling Issues and Maintenance

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


While it may not get the attention of the walls and floors, the ceiling can be an indicator of certain problems affecting a home’s condition, so it’s important to identify and address any issues that arise.

From “popcorn” to plaster, wood to drywall, there are many different ceiling materials in today’s homes. Look for signs of damage no matter what the material. Ceiling stains can indicate water damage from leaking pipes, a bathroom fixture overflow, or a leaky roof. Before any attempt is made to repair water damage, it must be determined if the cause of the leak will continue to affect the ceiling, or if it the damage is related to a single event in the past. If water is dripping from the ceiling, the source of the water will need to be found and stopped, and the ceiling material will need to be thoroughly dried before attempting any repair work. If the damage is severe, a professional contractor specializing in structural drying should be consulted.

Mold is a real threat when moisture is allowed to remain in the ceiling and the space above it. It can take a little as a few days for mold to begin growing inside a ceiling, so acting quickly to get everything completely dry is the best course. In addition to being a health hazard, mold can eventually cause structural damage to the home if left to grow and thrive. Mold removal should be done by a qualified professional who will certify that their work is done correctly.

Minor ceiling cracks are not uncommon and may simply be the result of the home settling. Even older homes can continue to settle for decades. If the cracks are minor, they can be repaired with relative ease. The technique used will depend on the ceiling material. Old plaster ceilings will often sag and crack over time, and can be patched with drywall instead of new plaster. Cracks in a popcorn ceiling can be covered with aerosol sprays made specifically for this use. Major cracking can be due to seismic activity or structural issues and should be assessed by a professional before repair or replacement.

Paying attention to the ceiling can really pay off by allowing the discovery of small problems before they can become big ones – avoiding serious and potentially costly problems down the road for homeowners.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 23rd Edition of CRS Consumer Article (November 16th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Saving Energy: Watch Out For Phantom Loads

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Phantom loads – you may not have heard of them, but they’re almost certainly lurking in your home. Also known as vampire loads or the vampire effect, phantom loads occur when electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are turned off, but still plugged in. Televisions, computers, game consoles, routers, printers, and rechargeable power tools are common culprits; even though they may be turned off, their systems stay in standby mode – using power unnecessarily and wasting money. By some estimates, phantom loads comprise 6% to 10% of residential electricity consumption in the U.S. Even more amazing: according to the U.S. Department of Energy, household electronics in the average home consume 75% of their power while they are turned off. That’s a lot of waste and is easily avoidable.

Power up – and down – with power strips. Plugging devices into a power strip lets you to turn off the power to all of them with one switch. However, because turning off all connected devices may not always be desirable, consider using “smart” power strips. Much more practical than unplugging each device that’s not being used, a smart power strip senses when a printer or TV, for example, has gone into standby mode and will then cut the power to that device completely. Some smart power strips have one or more always-on outlets, which are perfect for your cordless phone base or other items that you need to keep powered up at all times. Using power strips is the most convenient way to minimize phantom loads almost anywhere in the house.

Unplug those chargers. Plug-in chargers continue to draw power even when they are not working to charge your cell phone, Bluetooth device, tablet, or smart phone. Though the amount of energy they use in this state is small, you’re still paying for it on every utility bill.

Think Energy Star. For appliances that need to be plugged in at all times or that would be impractical to turn off, such as refrigerators, freezers, or washing machines, Energy Star approved models will help reduce overall energy consumption in your home.

Limiting phantom loads in your home saves energy resources and can help extend the life of your devices – and will leave you with more money in your wallet at the end of the month.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source: 22nd Edition of CRS Consumer Article (October 31st, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Alternatives to masonry fireplaces

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Nothing beats the ambience of a wood burning fireplace – cozy heat, beauty, and that familiar, inviting crackle. However, traditional wood burning fireplaces require specialized masonry construction, a fair amount of space, and often additional structural support due to the heavy weight of materials used. For new construction or remodels, homeowners can consider the alternative of zero-clearance fireplaces, which are available in wood burning, gas, or even pellet burning versions.

Zero-clearance fireplaces that burn fuel (as opposed to electric models) require special ventilation systems for safe and efficient operation. However, these fireplaces can be installed almost anywhere in the home. Unlike traditional masonry fireplaces, zero-clearance fireplaces can be located very close to existing walls. The exteriors of these units do not get hot enough to ignite nearby combustible materials like walls or floors, so a brick or masonry hearth or firebox isn’t needed. This flexibility of placement means a master bedroom, den, or even a kitchen can take on a newly inviting atmosphere with the addition of a fireplace. Available in many different sizes and styles, zero-clearance fireplaces can be customized after installation with mantels, surrounds, and doors to suit any room’s décor. In addition, many models are quite energy efficient compared with traditional wood burning fireplaces and are appropriate for heating a room.

Another alternative to masonry fireplaces is a prefabricated type. Prefabricated wood fireplaces are wood burning units that look like traditional fireplaces, but don’t require the structural support that masonry does. The firebox is typically metal and lined with firebrick, and the venting system is metal as well. As a result, these fireplaces are considerably less expensive to install than a masonry unit, and are more efficient. Typically, these types of fireplaces are not used for heating but to provide the experience of a masonry unit without the expense. Like zero-clearance fireplaces, prefab units can be given a unique look with mantels, surrounds, doors and hearths in almost any material imaginable.

As winter fast approaches, these masonry alternatives may be the perfect fit for homeowners seeking the look, warmth and feel of a traditional fireplace without the inherent expense and limitations. Stay warm and cozy this winter!

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source22nd Edition of CRS Chapter Newsletter (October 12th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection


Storage in Smaller Home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


More and more homeowners are downsizing, especially as they enter retirement years. Average new home sizes have scaled back from previous years. While this often means getting rid of - or acquiring fewer - belongings, there is still a need for accessible, efficient storage throughout the home. Making better use of existing space is a leading trend in home design and usage patterns throughout the home in both remodeling and new construction.

Most people use a back or garage entrance to the home rather than the front door. These entryways are now incorporating “drop zones”, where everyone can unload their backpacks, shoes, bags, sports gear, and outerwear. Baskets under benches provide both seating and storage. Some drop zones incorporate shelves or cubbies for each family member’s gear. A tray or shallow box for mail keeps it visible but doesn’t let it pile up too high. As a high-traffic area, a drop zone should be well organized and systematic in order to really work. If one system doesn’t quite function well for a particular family, it will always be better to try another arrangement until settling on one that really works.

Home offices are another area where storage is at a premium as functionality changes. These spaces are now used not only as an office, but for homework, projects, and more. Effective storage can now mean adding shelving and drawers to a closet to replace hanging rods. A dresser can be used to store project materials for easy access. With multiple users, this multi-function room, like the drop zone, needs to have a workable system that everyone can follow.

In the kitchen, pantry space has become more important as more people cook and eat at home. In large homes, a pantry might even be a separate room with plenty of space for storing everything from china to dog kibble. Newly popular smaller homes, generally with smaller kitchens, need to at least accommodate kitchen staples and larger, bulky items that aren’t often used such a large mixing bowls, seldom-used small appliances, and serving pieces. Pantry shelving for food items should be somewhat shallow so that everything is easy to find and reach. This type of shelving can even be added to a niche in the wall between two studs.

Home sizes may indeed be shrinking. But with efficient, practical storage solutions, even a smaller home can accommodate the needs of almost any family.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source19th Edition of CRS Chapter Newsletter (July 12th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection



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