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The Inspection-Ready Home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

As many of you are heading straight into your busiest time of year, it makes sense to revisit the importance of being prepared for the home inspection. By taking some important steps to prepare the property for inspection, your sellers can avoid some basic problems that might otherwise affect a clean inspection report.

  • Routine exterior maintenance is an easy way for homeowners to keep up with minor problems before they escalate. Even if the home has been well maintained overall, there are some common problems that should be addressed.
    • Prior to the inspection, repair any damaged masonry on steps and walkways, and seal cracks in the driveway. Not only will the home look better, but future problems can be prevented.
    • Recaulk around exterior doors, windows, check flashing, and replace any missing or damaged shingles.
  • Inside the home, relatively minor fixes can improve the home inspection results.
    • Repair leaky faucets and fixtures, and repair grout around tubs and sinks. An electrician should inspect receptacles and switches and make any needed replacements or repairs.
    • Replace any cracked or broken window glass, and loosen any windows that are painted shut.
      If there is a fireplace, have it and the chimney cleaned and checked by a professional.
    •  If the home inspector can’t see into the chimney because of soot buildup, they won’t be able to inspect it and may need to return after it has been cleaned.
  • Homeowners should arrange service appointments for the furnace and central air conditioning so that any issues can be addressed before the home inspection.
    • If the home has battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, put in fresh batteries and install additional units if any are missing.

When the day of the home inspection arrives, a few easy steps will facilitate the inspection process.

  • First, the buyers should allow sufficient time for the inspection. A professional home inspection will take two and a half to three hours on average, longer if the home is very large. Most sellers choose not to be present for the inspection, though the potential buyer will usually want to be there. The homeowner will need to provide keys to any locked areas, and allow access to the attic, crawl space, garage, and yard.
  • Be sure that the home inspector has access to components such as electrical panels, the main water shutoff, and gas meter. Move objects from around the water heater, furnace, and central air conditioning unit so that the inspector can reach them unimpeded. In winter, clear walkways of snow and ice for safe access to the home.
  • Make arrangements for pets to be out of the home or contained in a crate for their own safety and that of the home inspector. Dogs in particular can be disruptive, and some may even be distressed by having an unfamiliar person in their “territory”.
  • It is always a good idea to store small valuables and medications out of sight and in a secure location for peace of mind. One option is for the homeowner to simply take them along when they leave during the inspection.

Taking these steps can go a long way in preventing or addressing problems that could negatively affect the inspection. An inspection-ready home presents itself best for evaluation and makes the entire process go more smoothly.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

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Information courtesy of Pillar to Post: www.pillartopost.com.

The 5 Best Places in Your Home to Renovate or Improve

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

With the prime spring selling season heating up, here are 5 surefire ways to get the best bang for your buck and get top dollar for your listing:

1) FLOORING 

  • Remove outdated carpets
  • Replace with either laminate or hardwood flooring or ceramic tiles
  • It’s easier to clean and helps with people who have allergies
  • Also, buyers are specifically looking for updated flooring when they evaluate a potential home

2) FIXTURES & HARDWARE 

  • These include door knobs and handles on all doors, entrances/exits, cabinet hardware, bathroom and lighting fixtures, etc…
  • They are easy to replace and fairly inexpensive
  • You get a great return on investment for not a lot of money
  • If fixtures and hardware are not replaced, it can really date a property and make it appear as if it has not been maintained
  • Remember, everyone has to either touch a door or walk through it! It’s simple and cheap to fix the hardware

3) BATHROOMS 

  • If your client does opt to do a bathroom upgrade, it’s often worth the money, as it’s considered the 2nd most important room in the house 
  • Upgrades can include: new tile and grout, new faucet and hardware, new coat of paint, upgrading or replacing cabinets.

4) KITCHEN 

  • This is the most valuable room in the house, but your clients don’t need to spend a fortune in order to make it look spectacular
  • Simple add-ons such as a deluxe faucet, cabinet door hardware, upgraded or new appliances, new lighting, or adding a backsplash can help jazz up its appearance and functionality
  • They can also rebuild standard cabinetry at half the price (as opposed to custom cabinets or using expensive materials).

5) ADD AN INCOME-SUITE

  • Depending on the city or municipality, if the neighborhood allows for Income Suites, your clients could potentially add 150-160% of equity into their home by putting in an extra suite 
  • This allows the owner to also potentially receive additional income through a tenant 
  • Depending on the specific market or city, demand for double unit homes can rise by more than 25% 


Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at 
info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

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Information courtesy of Pillar to Post: www.pillartopost.com.

Radon: What You Need to Know

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

WHAT IS RADON?

Radon gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas. It is formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater.

WHY IS RADON IMPORTANT?

It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. In the United States, the EPA estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are radon related and in Canada that number stands at approximately 3,000.

WHAT IS THE RISK OF RADON FOUND IN THE HOME?

Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States and Canada is estimated to have an elevated radon level.

HOW DOES RADON GET INTO THE HOME?

When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it gets diluted to low concentrations and is not a concern. Within homes, it typically moves up through the flooring system and other openings between the ground and living spaces. Your home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem – this means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. Even if you live in an area with fairly low environmental radon, you could still have significant levels in your home.


WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Radon testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Pillar To Post conducts a short term test using a continuous monitor to provide a snapshot of the home to see if it has elevated levels of Radon. Testing takes approximately 2-3 days and results are provided are interpreted and the report is sent directly to the client.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

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Information courtesy of Pillar to Post: www.pillartopost.com.

Oldies but goodies: living with an older home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

The charms of living in an older home can be many – history, style, craftsmanship, quirks. But there’s no denying that living in such a home has its challenges. Maintenance can be tricky and expensive, especially if certain systems and features have been neglected over the years. Let’s take a look at some common situations found in many older homes:

  • Energy inefficiency is probably the number one issue with older homes. Most older homes were constructed with single-pane windows; if these windows are still there, they likely don’t fit very well. Replacement windows can be very expensive, but will contribute immensely to reduced energy use and lower heating and cooling costs. Most replacement windows are available in several styles and at different price points, so finding one that suits the look of an older home is easier than ever.
  • Like single-pane windows, poor insulation will also waste energy and money. The most important and easiest area of the home to insulate is the attic, but walls and floors above ventilated crawlspaces should be insulated as well if possible. The attic may already have insulation but it may be inadequate by current standards.
  • If the home has older water pipes, they should be checked to identify the material and determine if they need to be replaced. Some older materials such as galvanized steel, iron, and even lead are still in use today even though new construction does not allow them. Replacement options include copper and CPVC piping.
  • Outdated electrical systems can still sometimes be found in older homes and may not only be dangerous, they can make the house uninsurable in some situations. Even if no danger is present, we use much more electricity in our homes today and the capacity of older systems may be inadequate. Only a qualified electrician should attempt any repairs or updates to a home’s electrical system. 

With careful maintenance and a nod to history, older homes can be comfortable, stylish, and even energy efficient in the right hands.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

Holiday and Winter Fire Safety

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives and destroyed property. The fact is that many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home – and can save lives should disaster strike. Here are some important recommendations for homeowners:

  • All electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires under carpet or rugs as this creates a fire hazard. 
  • Wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep each year to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • If using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers – anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over. 
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home’s electrical system. There are also some newer models with ten-year batteries. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Most municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences. 
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene or propane should be stored outside of and away from the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures you can take to prevent death in a fire. Your local fire department can provide detailed recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. Another excellent resource is www.ready.gov. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
  • Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree, which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights on a dried-out tree. 
  • Candles should be placed in stable holders and placed away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Holiday lights should be checked for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when joining two or more strands together, as a fire hazard could result from electrical overload. Enjoy your indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn the lights off before going to bed at night.

 Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

Tips for Maintaining Fireplaces

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

A wood-burning fireplace is an appealing feature of many homes. Here are some reminders and tips for keeping safe and getting full enjoyment from your fireplace this season:

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 can build 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 hardwoods 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 serious flare-ups.

Plan Ahead – Keep the area around the hearth clear 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 out the firebox regularly once the embers are cold. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the new fuel to heat faster and retain heat longer. Never 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. If you have a fireplace fan, keep it clean. 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 your roof or on other buildings.

Use Common Sense – Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed, and always 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.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com.

Tips For Fall Maintenance 2

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Fall is a great time to prepare the home for the upcoming season. It’s also a good reminder to check key areas around the home for defects or repairs.

We are pleased to share this list with you courtesy of the nationwide experts at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors:

INTERIOR

✓ Check ceiling & surfaces around windows for evidence of moisture
✓ Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet base
✓ Verify ceiling areas beneath bathrooms have no leakage
✓ Ensure all stairs & railing do not have any loose sections
✓ Test all fire & safety systems regularly, including carbon monoxide (CO) detectors
✓ Know the location of all gas shut-off valves

HEATING & COOLING

 Clean or change furnace filters every three months of operation
✓ Lubricate fan and motor bearings (only where indicated)
✓ Check fan belt tension and listen for unusual noises
✓ Keep area around heating and cooling equipment clear
✓ For boiler systems, check water level and shut-off valve for leaks
✓ Have system serviced annually prior to the start of the season

ELECTRICAL

✓ Periodically check exposed wiring and cable. Replace as necessary.
✓ Check all lamp cords, extension cords & receptacles for wear.
✓ Trip circuit breakers every six (6) months & ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI’s) monthly to ensure proper function
✓ Learn location of electrical service panels and label each circuit
 If fuses blow, circuit breakers trip frequently, or any appliance sparks or shorts out, contact a licensed electrician for repairs

DOORS & WINDOWS

✓ Look for loose or missing glazing putty
✓ Check caulking for deterioration at the openings and joints between dissimilar materials (e.g. wood and masonry)
 Check weather stripping
 Check for broken glass and damaged or missing screens
✓ Inspect all window and door hardware

PLUMBING

✓ Check all faucets, hose bibbs and supply valves for leaking
✓ Check for evidence of leaks around and under sinks, showers, toilets and tubs. Check all joints for adequate grout.
 Inspect lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves and exposed lines
✓ Have the septic tank cleaned every two (2) years
✓ Check the main water shut-off valve for operation and leakage

ROOF

 Check for any missing, loose or damaged shingles
✓ Look for open seams, blisters, bald areas on flat roofs
✓ Clean gutters, strainers and downspouts. Make sure downspouts divert water away from the foundation.
✓ Verify the attic has no evidence of any leaks
✓ Check flashing (sheet metal placed on joints of the roof to prevent water seepage) around all surface projections, sidewalls and protrusions
✓ Trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof
✓ Check fascia (board or roof trim) and soffits (connecting the roof overhang and the side of your building)  for deterioration and damage

FOUNDATION & EXTERIOR

✓ Check foundation walls and floors for cracking, heaving, spalling, deterioration or efflorescence
✓ Inspect chimney for loose, deteriorated or missing mortar or bricks
✓ Check grading for proper slope away from the foundation
✓ Verify basement and crawlspace has no moisture or leaks
✓ Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure
✓ Inspect all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for deterioration
✓ Cut back and trim all vegetation from structures

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com

Fire Prevention - Tips and Reminders for Staying Safe

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Fire Prevention Week falls during October, and this month is a great opportunity to review fire safety and preparedness for your home and family. Preventing a fire in the first place can mean the difference between safety and devastation.

Cooking is the most common causes of house fires, and as a daily activity the potential for problems is high if care is not taken around the kitchen. While cooking, never leave cookware on the stove unattended. It can take just moments for hot oil or grease to flare up, and a pan of forgotten food can go up in flames. Baking soda can be used to put out a small kitchen fire if caught right away – keep a package close at hand for ready use. Avoid wearing clothing with very long or loose sleeves while cooking as they can easily catch fire if they make contact with an open flame or hot burner. Keep towels and flammable pot holders away from the stove. 

Electrical cords and appliances should be kept in good repair, and any damaged wires or sockets should be replaced right away. Don’t overload electrical outlets – use power strips only when necessary and make sure they are properly rated. Electronics and small appliances should be unplugged when not in use to avoid potential problems.

Keep the dryer vent hose free of lint and other buildup, as dryer heat can easily spark a fire there. Check and clean the hose at least once a year for best results. Depending on how and where the hose is installed, the process can be as simple as using your vacuum cleaner to remove buildup. Bonus: the dryer will also run more efficiently with a clean hose. There are also professional services that will clean your venting system for a nominal charge. Never leave the house while the dryer is running – if a fire should start, you will only discover it too late.

Should a fire occur, fire extinguishers need to be easily accessible to the kitchen and laundry areas. Make sure any extinguisher is labeled for use on the three common types of fires – grease, paper/wood, and electrical. These multipurpose extinguishers are labeled as “A B C rated.” Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a particular fire can make the situation worse and can even be life-threatening. Water should never be used on an electrical fire or on grease fires as this will just cause the fire to worsen. 

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas. The newest types of residential smoke detectors have 10-year batteries, and many are available in updated, low-profile designs. If your smoke alarms use replaceable batteries, change the batteries once a year; many people use the transition from Daylight Saving Time as a reminder to do this task. Hard-wired smoke alarm systems should be inspected according to the installer’s or manufacturer’s instructions.

Make – and practice – a family escape plan. Make sure each family member knows how to quickly get out of the house to safety in the event of a fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends having two ways out of the house, in case smoke or flames make one of the exit routes impossible to use. Smoke can fill a house within minutes, making it difficult or even impossible to see the way out. With preventive measures, you can lower the chances of a fire, but careful planning can help you and your family survive if the worst happens.

Questions? Comments? Are you looking to buy or sell a house, a condo, a coop or a villa in Miami Florida or New York City? Contact us today at info@kijner.com.

Sick House Syndrome

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

What Is Sick House Syndrome, and What Causes It?

Sick House Syndrome occurs when a house can’t “breathe” and rid itself of indoor pollutants, resulting in poor indoor air quality – a “sick house”. Inadequate ventilation allows these pollutants to build up, causing potential health risks to the home’s occupants. Young children, the elderly, and some chronically ill persons are most susceptible to the effects of Sick House Syndrome.

Common sources of indoor pollution include tobacco smoke, certain carpeting materials, furnaces and fireplaces, pressed wood cabinets and furniture, and household cleaning products. In addition, a buildup of moisture can cause mold, which can grow uncontrolled inside walls, crawlspaces, and other areas. Mold spores are released into the air and can also travel throughout the home via heating and cooling ductwork.

How Can Indoor Pollution Be Reduced?

Source control is usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality. In some cases, eliminating the specific sources of indoor pollution – for example, removing carpets, repairing and maintaining faulty furnaces – is all that is necessary. It’s also a good idea to have heating and cooling ducts cleaned every few years.

For many other offending substances, improving ventilation is a key means of decreasing indoor pollution. These include tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and moisture buildup. Many newer homes in particular are so well insulated and sealed that only a very limited amount of fresh air can get in. In this situation, using attic or window fans and opening windows when weather permits are easy and inexpensive ways to increase ventilation. Over the years, tobacco smoke can actually be absorbed by walls, floors, and ceilings and may need to be professionally removed.

Asbestos and lead do not normally cause problems if they are undisturbed, but these and other hazardous substances should be analyzed by a qualified professional to determine if sealing, abatement, or removal is warranted. The presence of these materials may also need to be included in disclosure forms when selling a home, so special attention is warranted in these situations.

Questions? Comments? Are you looking to buy or sell a house, a condo, a coop or a villa in Miami Florida or New York City? Contact us today at info@kijner.com.

 

Tips For Fall Maintenance

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

The leaves are turning, the air is cooling – autumn is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to get your property in shape before winter rolls in so that you can help avoid problems in the months ahead. Here are some tips to get you started:

Seal it up: Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well. Not only does heat escape from these openings, but water can enter and cause mold problems and even structural damage.

Look up: Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home. Always have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, but you can use binoculars to do a preliminary survey from the ground.

Clear it out: Clear gutters and eaves of leaves, sticks, and other debris. If the gutters can accommodate them, leaf guards can be real time-savers and can prevent damage from clogged gutters. Check the joints between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.

No hose: In climates with freezing weather, garden hoses should be drained and stored indoors to protect them from the elements. Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can easily freeze and burst, causing leaks and increasing the potential for serious water damage.

Warm up time: The furnace should be inspected to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide no-cost furnace inspections to their customers, but schedule early as there can often be a long waiting list as the weather cools down. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving money and energy.

Light that fire: A wood-burning fireplace can be a real pleasure on a chilly fall evening. For safety, have the firebox and chimney professionally cleaned before use this season. Creosote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a serious chimney fire if not removed.

With these easy steps, you’ll enjoy the comforts of your home all season long and know that you’re protecting your investment, too.

Are you looking to sell or buy a house, a condo, a villa or an apartment in Miami Florida or New York City? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@kijner.com or visit us at www.kijner.com

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