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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.

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

Storage in a smaller home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

While “tiny houses” take storage planning to an extreme, your typical smaller home still needs accessible, well-planned storage to make it both efficient and livable. 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. It’s a great idea for these entryways to incorporate “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 a dedicated shelf or cubby 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 best 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 often used not only as an office, but for homework, projects, and more. Effective, multi-purpose closet storage can be accomplished by replacing hanging rods with shelving and drawers. A dresser can be repurposed 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 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 relatively 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.

Smaller homes aren’t going away, and continue to be popular as starter homes and with downsizers. But with efficient, practical storage solutions, even a smaller home can accommodate the needs of almost any family. 

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

The Vacation-Smart Home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

As summer gets into full swing, it makes sense to review some simple but important steps you should take to secure your home while you head off for a well-deserved vacation. Amidst all of the decisions about where to go, where to stay, and what to do when you get there, taking some time to plan for leaving your home safe and secure will give you added peace of mind while you’re enjoying your free time.

Here are some useful reminders and tips for protecting your home while you’re away:

  • Make your home appear occupied by using timers on a few lights throughout the house, scheduling them to turn off and on at various times after dark. You can also use a timer on a radio to provide background noise to deter potential intruders.
  • Use extra caution when communicating about your vacation dates on Facebook and other social media. Information spreads quickly, and you don’t want it to get into the wrong hands.
  • Advise your friends and trusted neighbors of your travel plans and when you’re expecting to return. Provide your mobile number so you can be reached in an emergency.
  • Have the post office hold your mail and suspend any newspaper deliveries, or ask a neighbor to collect them for you each day. A buildup of mail or uncollected papers is an obvious sign that no one is at home.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway on occasion so it looks like there is someone at home.
  • If you have landline phones, turn off the ringers so they can’t be heard from outside. Leave a note on at least one of the phones as a reminder to turn them back on when you return.
  • Arrange to have someone mow the lawn in your absence if you’re going to be gone for more than a week.
  • Close the window coverings on any ground-level rooms so that would-be thieves aren’t tempted by valuables and other items visible from outside.
  • Unplug appliances such as the coffee maker, toaster, microwave, computers, video systems, stereos, and televisions. Be sure to leave the refrigerator and freezer plugged in.
  • To avoid the potential of water damage from an unpredictable leak or a burst hose, turn off the water supply lines for the toilets, sinks, washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker. It’s easy to do and can help avert coming home to a disaster.
  • Adjust the water heater to its lowest setting or to vacation mode if it has one. Maintaining the hot water at its everyday temperature while you’re away wastes energy and money.
  • If possible, pack your vacation gear into the car while it’s in the garage so that you’re not announcing to passersby that you’re leaving for an extended period.
  • Lock the garage, gates, and storage structures. Don’t forget to lock any side doors to the garage, as well as doors leading inside from the garage.

Enjoy your time away, knowing that you’ve taken these smart measures to keep your home safe and secure.

Getting your House Ready for Sale

by Kijner & Sons International Realty

Most homebuyers will prefer a home that’s in turn-key, move-in condition. When looking at a home, buyers want to focus on what’s great, not what needs fixing or is in poor condition. Sellers can do a lot to make sure their home shows well and will get better offers than those that are in obvious need of TLC. The idea here is to take the attention off areas of superficial concern that buyers might otherwise focus on. Every negative adds up in the buyer’s mind, so it’s wise to do some basic updates and repairs before the home goes on the market.

Update Kitchen & Bathrooms

While a complete kitchen or bath remodel may not be possible or practical – and may not give a full return on the investment – some updating of these rooms will go a long way in appealing to potential buyers. In many neighborhoods upgraded and updated kitchens and baths are the norm and anything less will be looked upon negatively.

If the stove and refrigerator are clearly old and in less than perfect condition, they should be replaced. An updated kitchen faucet is another nice touch that doesn’t have to cost a lot. In the main bathroom, have the tile flooring professionally cleaned and the grout sealed. If the tile floor is in bad shape, replacing it with new, basic tile will make it a non-issue. Here, too, an updated faucet is often a good choice. If there is a shower curtain, replace it with a new, neutral style, or better yet, remove it altogether for a tidier appearance.

Clean or replace carpets

It should go without saying that carpets should be shampooed and in good condition. If the carpet looks worn and stained, the best choice is to simply replace it. The same goes for kitchen flooring – if it’s in bad shape, new flooring is the way to go. Depending on the situation, a new floor can often be installed right over the old one, which can mean less work and cost. Any replacement flooring should be neutral colored and does not have to be top-of-the line quality; the most important thing here is that it looks good and does not draw negative attention.

Enhance the Outdoors

Outdoors, replace any missing or damaged fence boards. It may be obvious that they’ve been replaced, but that’s preferable to leaving the fence in bad shape. Shrubs should be trimmed and kept neat, and weeds pulled. A thick (and quick!) application of bark mulch will help planting areas look clean and neat instead of a mess the new owner will have to deal with. Check around the exterior for any peeling paint or cracks that can present themselves as problems if not corrected.

Above all, remember that a buyer will have a better impression of a home that looks its best. After all, one of the first impressions you want a buyer to have is “It looks like this home has been well taken care of” – and let the home shine.

For more tips that will help you get your house ready to sell, just click here.

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

Safe at Home: Smoke Alarms

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Smoke alarms are an important defense against injury or death in house fires. The National Fire Protection Association states that nearly two-thirds of home fire fatalities happen in homes with non-working or missing smoke detectors. Most building codes now require smoke detectors in all residential structures, which has resulted in a steep drop in fire- and smoke-related deaths. Homeowners should check with their local public safety office or fire department for specific information on these requirements.

  • As in real estate, location is important! Smoke alarms should be in installed every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home.
  • Alarms should be placed high on a wall or on the ceiling. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement. High, peaked ceilings have dead air space at the top; in these instances smoke alarms should be placed no closer than 3 feet from the highest point.
  • For areas close to the kitchen, use a detector with a “hush button” that can be used to silence nuisance alarms triggered by cooking smoke or steam. Alternatively, consider installing a photoelectric alarm, which is better at detecting smoldering fires (vs. flames) near the kitchen. Never remove the unit’s battery to stop or prevent nuisance alarms.
  • There are two primary types of smoke alarm technology: ionization and photoelectric. According to the National Fire Protection Association, ionization alarms are more responsive to flames, while photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires. For the most comprehensive protection, both types or a combination unit should be installed.
  • Alarms should be tested monthly. It’s helpful to put a reminder in your calendar to do this on the first or last day of the month, for example. The units have a test button that will sound the alarm for a brief time when pressed. Any alarm that fails to sound should have the battery replaced. If the test button fails with a new battery, replace the entire detector immediately. Monthly testing is also an ideal time to dust off the unit so that it continues to work properly.
  • Replace the batteries at least once a year. A common rule of thumb is to do this when changing to or from Daylight Saving Time in fall and spring. Some alarms come with 10-year batteries; for these, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for battery replacement. Remember, a non-working alarm is no better than no alarm at all.
  • If the alarms are hard-wired to the home’s electrical system, make sure they are interconnected for maximum effectiveness – meaning that if one alarm is triggered, all of the others will sound as well. Any hard-wired alarms, interconnected or not, should be installed by a licensed electrician for safety and proper operation.

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: 31st Edition of CRS Consumer Article (August 19th, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

Controlling Allergens in the Home

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Household allergens can cause a variety of symptoms in many people, including sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, and shortness of breath. Allergens may also be a contributing cause of asthma, especially in children. However, it is possible to minimize the effects of such allergens by taking steps to control their presence and dispersal in the home.

The most common household allergens include dust mites, mold, mildew, pollen, and pet dander (dried flakes of skin shed by pets, particularly cats and dogs). Effective control relies on a combination of measures that, when used properly, will reduce the levels of allergens and allergen exposure.

  • Increase ventilation to the home. Opening windows whenever possible promotes good air exchange and will reduce the concentration of airborne allergens, especially pet dander.
  • Wash bedding and stuffed toys once a week in hot water to control dust mites and cat allergens in particular.
  • Keep pets clean and well groomed to control dander.
  • Use mite-resistant mattress covers and pillow covers and wash these frequently.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly, and use microfiltration or HEPA filter vacuum bags. The jury is still out on whether bagless vacuum cleaners are more effective in removing allergens than those that require bags; some studies indicate that many bagless vacuums are not sealed tightly enough and can actually make the problem worse. Wearing a dust mask while dusting and vacuuming is also a good way to reduce exposure.
  • Consider removing wall-to-wall carpeting and replacing them with easily-cleaned area rugs, particularly in bedrooms.
  • Make sure bathrooms, especially those with showers, are well ventilated. Open the window and use exhaust fans that vent to the outdoors to prevent moisture buildup, which can encourage mold and mildew growth.
  • If possible, reduce indoor humidity to 50% or less by using room dehumidifiers or the dehumidifier feature available with many central air conditioning systems.
  • Clean or replace furnace and central air conditioner filters on a regular basis. Make sure that air conditioner drain pans are clean and that they allow the water to drain properly.

Taking these simple steps can mean breathing easy in a healthier, more comfortable home. 

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: 31st Edition of CRS Consumer Article (July 30th, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

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