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Help for Homeowners: Choosing a Handyman

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Whether it’s a big project such as a bathroom remodel, something small like putting up shelves, or repairs and routine maintenance, many homeowners turn to handymen to get the job done. It used to be that everyone knew “a guy down the street who can do everything”, but these days finding a qualified, professional, and reliable handyman can be a real challenge. Here are some tips for homeowners to ensure that they have the right person for the job:


Certain projects require specific skills that all handymen may not have. You will of course want to know that they have the qualifications and experience to do the job. In addition, many states require persons performing certain work to be licensed; electrical and plumbing often fall into this category. Check with your state on whether such licenses are required and verify the status of the contractor’s license if it applies.


Request at least two local references from previous customers. The handyman should be willing to do this without hesitation. Then, contact those references! Ask about the quality of the work, timeliness, professionalism, and how the handyman handled any changes that may have occurred during the course of the project. Also ask how satisfied they were with the work overall.


Online review sites such as Yelp and Google Places can offer insights into what kind of experience people have had with specific handymen. These types of reviews can be helpful in getting an overall impression, but a straight “thumbs up/thumbs down” review may not provide the information you’re looking for. Membership sites such as Angie’s List are another good source of reviews.


Liability insurance is always a good idea. If the handyman or another worker is injured while working on your property, you may be held liable for medical costs. Ask for evidence of coverage before agreeing to any work. Uninsured handymen often charge less for their services because they lack the overhead expense of insurance, but it could cost you in the long run.


Ideally, ask three handymen for written estimates for the work you have in mind. Be sure that each estimate contains enough detail so that you can make a comparison between them. For example, are the specified materials of the same quality? Does the cost include cleanup and hauling away any debris or old/broken items? Read all contracts carefully and be sure to ask about anything that you are unsure of.


Beware if you are asked to pay for the entire job up front – this is not an accepted business practice and could leave you open to fraud. Handymen will often ask for 50% when the contract is signed, which will allow them to purchase materials for the job and assure them that you are committed. Be sure to request receipts for all payments.

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


Source: 30th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (July 16th, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Selling Smarts: Planning Ahead

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


When it comes time to sell your home, planning ahead can help make the process smoother, the transaction faster, and the price better. It takes time and effort, but the results can make a big difference in the experience and the outcome even in markets that have seen a significant jump in housing demand going into the summer months.

First, enlist the help of a qualified real estate professional. He or she will be your representative in the home selling process, and is therefore beholden to work in your best interest as the listing agent. Your agent will help you price the house realistically, taking into account aspects of your local real estate market, your neighborhood, and how your home compares to similar properties that have recently sold (“comp sales”). A professional who is familiar with your local area will have valuable insight as to what may make potential buyers pay attention to your listing. He or she will also be responsible for marketing your home, including multiple listing service (MLS), advertising, promoting your property to buyers’ agents, and open house scheduling. The listing agent will also help you through the complex transaction process that comes with selling a home.

A professional pre-listing home inspection will help identify existing and potential problems with your home that can be addressed prior to putting the home on the market. The inspection should cover heating and cooling systems, the electrical system, plumbing, built-in appliances, the roof, and basement and crawlspace areas. An inspection report will then be issued with complete, objective findings. If you choose not to make needed repairs or system upgrades, this may need to be reflected in the selling price, or a credit may need to be given for the additional amount that the new owner will need to spend to have the work done. Your listing agent can recommend a qualified professional home inspector in your area. 

Before your home hits the market, it needs to be de-cluttered in order to show well. If the home is already vacant, consider having it staged to showcase its potential to prospective buyers. Staging is usually done with furniture, lamps, indoor plants, and a few accessory props, but is kept clean and spare overall to highlight the spaces. If you are still living in the home, minimize distractions by removing excess furniture, accessories, and personal belongings from each room. Understandably, you may want potential buyers to see how you live in your home, but they will want to envision themselves and their family in the home instead of focusing on the details of your life there.

Take a look around the outside of your home, too. Consider its curb appeal – what a buyer will see when they first drive up to – or by – your home. Maybe it can use a fresh coat of paint, or at the very least make sure that the trim around windows and doors is in good shape. Clean the exterior windows to brighten the overall appearance. Don’t ignore the landscaping; take some time to trim shrubs, mow the lawn, rake up leaves, and remove weeds. Seal any cracks in the driveway and walkways. Bright flowers near the street and front door are an easy and inexpensive way to welcome potential buyers.

By planning ahead and utilizing the help of your listing agent, your home may sell faster and at a better price, a winning combination.

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


Source: 30th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (June 28th, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

What buyers look for, or look out for when purchasing a home.

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

What should buyers look for, or look out for when purchasing a home in the Sarasota or Miami Florida areas? This article will help sellers look into some important aspects of selling their home and what potential buyers look out for as well.

The way you live in your house is not the way to sell your house. So, what makes a house a home for sale on the market, and one that soon has a “SOLD” sign out on the front lawn? And what aspects are important to look at because potential buyers will ask the question, “How much work are we going to need to do prior to moving in and beyond?” The appearance and cleanliness of the home are significant. Always have your home ready to be shown at a moment’s notice with Kijner & Sons International Realty, your agent, because this is what buyers are looking for. And a tip - burned out lights need to be replaced; classy lighting and upgraded fixtures can ameliorate the value of a home. Also, buyers said they would be willing to pay more for a home with a renovated kitchen.

Here are some things a buyer will look out for when dealing with the purchase of a home. The buyer will consider the following:

  • Exactly what property is included in the sale? Lighting fixtures, drapes or blinds, refrigerators, stoves, washing machines and dryers are often problem areas.
  • Is the neighborhood quiet, friendly? Are the homes well kept?
  • Are there any development plans that will affect the property?
  • The inspection report - are there any substantial problems with the house?
  • Real estate taxes - what are the current property taxes, and what impact will your purchase have on the taxes?

Another issue that raises concern regarding buyer appeal is that sellers often mistakenly think that viewing empty properties will give the buyers an accurate sense of the space available. On the contrary, it is more difficult to really judge the size of a room without furniture and other objects as reference points. An empty room even allows buyers to focus on negative details instead of getting a sense of the overall space and the flow of each room to the next. Buyers need to ask themselves the question, “Can I see myself in this home?” Therefore, staging really helps buyers envision themselves in the space.

The idea of “staging” a home to make it look alluring to buyers has become popular during the last decade, as manifested by the proliferation of numerous home staging companies offering advice about how to make the house more attractive to buyers. Check out next’s months article about “Staging a Home.”

When selling your home with Kijner & Sons International Realty keep in mind what buyers look for, or look out for before coming to look at your home in the Sarasota or Miami Florida areas.

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