Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Congrats August FastStart Grads!

Coldwell Banker Triad, Realtors announced its August graduating class of new Sales Associates.

These agents have completed the FastStart and e-FastStart classes conducted by Jodi Tate, Director of Career Development and Coldwell Banker Triad Chief Operations Officer. Tate is a national senior trainer for Coldwell Banker University, an instructor for the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, and the National Association of Realtors.

Coldwell Banker has been recognized for the 5th straight year as one of the top 20 companies nationally in any industry for learning and leadership development, and Fast Start is a part of the award winning training program for new Sales Associates.

“Our commitment to the most excellent training and coaching is a cornerstone of our company. Newly licensed agents complete an extensive program their first year beginning with our live instructor-led Fast Start class. Fast Start teaches sales skills, real estate rules and regulations, client level service, and how to use the best technology tools in our industry. I am proud of the focus and commitment of these real estate professionals who have just completed Fast Start,” said Tate.

New graduates are: Rhonda Hobbs, John Belcher, Marc Atkins, Kristina Crews, Deborah Lejarre, Jon Manring and Connie Sharpe associated with the Winston-Salem Branch located at 285 S. Stratford Road 725-0506; Sean Lauten, Tiffany Lauten, Chad Peay and Soprena Mitchell from the Kernersville Branch located at 1011 S. Main Street 996-3971; Susan Caldwell, Lisa Wall, Corbett Clark, and Joe Bullins associated with the Greensboro Branch located at 1505 Westover Terrace 282-4414 and Sharon Whitfield from the High Point Branch located at 2212 Eastchester Drive 889-5300.

Since 1997 Coldwell Banker Triad, Realtors has been the premier provider of real estate services in Triad area markets with over 230 Sales Associates in 5 branches. CBTR provides complete real estate services, including residential and new home sales, commercial sales and leasing, relocation services, career development, and mortgage services through Coldwell Banker Mortgage. For more information, visit cbtriad.com or cbtriadtogo.com on your smart phone.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

6 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Landscaper

Is your yard ready for fall?
As you prepare your lawn for the fall season, why not hire a landscaper to save yourself some time? Landscapers have the tools, experience and knowledge to create the landscape you need or prepare it for the cold days ahead. To help you find the right landscaper, here are some essential tips to follow and questions to ask regarding landscaping.
As you prepare your lawn for the fall season, why not hire a landscaper to save yourself some time? Landscapers have the tools, experience and knowledge to create the landscape you need or prepare it for the cold days ahead. To help you find the right landscaper, here are some essential tips to follow and questions to ask regarding landscaping.
1. Ask around to find a landscaper. If you see well-kept lawns in your neighborhood, why not ask your neighbors who they hired? You might also ask friends and family in the area if they’ve hired a good landscaper recently. You might also check online for screened and approved landscaping contractors who have beenrated by homeowners in your area, which will save you time and effort on checking them.
2. Get multiple bids for a project.Once you have a few businesses in mind, you’ll need to get bids. You should never hire the first one to answer the phone. Once you explain the job, the landscaper will give you a project estimate, and numbers will vary from business to business. You can compare bids against project data costs for various landscaping projects to make sure you’re not paying more than you should be. Also be wary of any “low ball” bids, since this could be a sign of a poor job or additional or hidden fees.
3. List past project references. If you find the landscaper in the yellow pages or online, ask about past clients. As you speak to these clients, ask them about the landscaper’s process, communication, staff and how quickly they complete a project. These should help you learn more about the landscaper and how they would work with you.
4. Check for documentation and licenses. The landscaper should be able to prove they’re legitimate with a license. They should also have insurance for the length of the project, if not worker’s compensation to cover injuries on the job.
5. Discuss the specifics. This is where you need to hash out everything about the project before you get to the contract and putting down a deposit. Some of the landscaping questions to ask include:
  • What are your work practices?
  • What equipment and materials will you be using for my project?
  • What’s your past experience with this kind of landscaping project?
  • Does your landscaping business belong to any local, state or national landscaping associations?
  • Can you provide me with a design sketch for the project before we begin?
  • How much of a deposit will you want before beginning the project? (Pro tip: the average is 30% of the total project, so be cautionary of anyone who asks for 50% or more.)
6. Put together & sign a contract. Once you’ve found the right landscaper, it’s time to put down all the details of the job in writing. This contract should include:
  • Start and end date of the project
  • Materials involved
  • Costs and fees
  • A lien waiver
  • Guarantee, if applicable
lien waiver will keep you from being responsible for paying for materials from a supplier, as the landscaper should be paying for them and then charging you later. A guarantee for items like a deck, patio or other major projects should be for at least two to five years, if not longer. Make sure the contract is completely filled out and that nothing is left blank.
Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+
Cover Photo: Beckett Creek Ln, Humble, TX Currently listed with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors http://bit.ly/1m6rEK1

Friday, September 19, 2014

5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

Now is the time to get your home ready for storm season. Here is what you need to know.
My alma mater, University of Miami–home of the Hurricanes, taught me a lot about tropical weather. After 2 severe storms hit the Miami area only weeks after I moved into the Freshman dorms, I knew I wasn’t in Jersey anymore. Since then, I’ve lived through several hurricanes, a few tropical storms and one unforgettable ‘Super Storm Sandy.’
As a ‘Cane, I know that the key to making it through hurricane season is being aware and prepared. First, it’s important to know that Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1st and ends November 30th, with most activity peaking from mid-August to early October. While the majority of Atlantic activity happens in the Southeastern U.S., many of us in the Northeast remember all too well that we’re not immune to these natural disasters. So, now is the time to get your home ready for storm season.
Here are 5 ways to prepare your home for hurricane season:
1.  Keep an Emergency Kit – Packing an emergency kit can sometimes feel over-cautious, but when a big storm strikes, you’ll be happy you did. Compile a hurricane emergency kit complete with:
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
(list from ready.gov)
2. Get Cash and Gas (early) – Should the power go out in your area, ATMs and gas pumps are no longer functional. We quickly realize the vitality of two things we take for granted in our everyday lives. To avoid long gas lines or running out of liquidity while power lines are down, get to the ATM and gas station before the storm (and before the crowds).
3. Know your home – Do your research ahead of time to determine if you live in an evacuation zone. You might be surprised (like those in downtown Manhattan) to find that your home is in a flood zone.
Also, because standard home insurance does not cover flood damage, it is also important to know if you live in a flood-prone area. Visit the National Flood Insurance Program website to learn more about obtaining flood insurance for your property. Ready.gov has some great information about which natural disasters different parts of the country should be prepared for.
4. Protect your home – Dorothy may have coined the phrase, “there’s no place like home” for the tornado belt, but it applies to hurricane protection just as well. Of course, for your own safety, it is important to yield to all warnings and mandates for evacuation; however, there are things you can do to protect your home from the elements. Home hurricane protection doesn’t just have to mean tape or plywood over the windows. Companies like Alutech United offer more comprehensive storm protection options like roller hurricane shutters, designed to fit seamlessly with your home’s aesthetic and built to withstand 140 mph hurricane force winds. If you live in an area with frequent inclement weather, storm protection can be a necessity. Some also opt to install roller shudders for the added privacy and protection they provide.
5. Prepare a Family Emergency Plan – For those who live in low-lying, coastal, or flood-prone areas, consider where you’ll go if evacuation is mandated. While most towns have designated safe places should natural disaster strike, it is always a good idea to have a family emergency plan of your own.
The Red Cross has created a great hurricane preparedness checklist that you can use to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases (and windows).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Your Home’s September Honey-Do List

Transition your home from summer to fall with this month’s list of around-the-house to do’s.

Fall is almost upon us and with falling leaves and more hectic schedules, it’s time to get organized at home.  On your home’s September Honey-Do List, we’ll get you and your house ready for the cooler months ahead.
1. Enjoy the outdoors – If you’re like me, you’re still in denial that summer is almost over. If you’re not ready to move inside, consider transitioning your summer patio to a cozy fall retreat. Add a few autumnal touches, like a chiminea and garland lights to make your outdoor space work even as the nights get longer and cooler.
2. Apples, apples & more apples – Nothing screams fall more than the blissful smell of apple pie wafting through the house. Take a trip to a local pick-your-own farm for a festive activity and cook up some fall favorites like applesauce and apple pie.  We’ve shared the World’s Best Apple Pie recipe before, but it’s certainly worth mentioning again.  After all, an apple a day…
3.  Schedule doctor’s appointments - An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it’s still best to see him at least once a year.  Schedule annual physicals, dentist appointments and eye exams around the same time each year so you’ll have an easier time remembering to check all the necessary boxes.  Booking appointments around back-to-school time is usually best as some extra-curricular activities will require a check-up anyway.
4. Get into back to school mode – Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas for school lunches, or tips to make it out the door on time, we have what you need to make back to school easy as the above mentioned apple pie.
5. Prep your yard for fall – With fall around the corner, there is plenty to do to prep your yard for the change of seasons. Download this printable September Lawn & Garden To-Do List, which covers everything from lawn care to building a compost bin for falling leaves.
6. Fall into home improvement – Before the weather turns too cold, plan your final outdoor home improvement projects. Roof repairs, gutter and chimney clean-up are particularly important before the winter arrives.
7. Get organized – In the coming weeks, it will be time to put away the summer attire and break out the warmer clothing.  Take time now to make room in your coat closet, donate unworn summer items and assess what fall clothing no longer fits.  Spring cleaning gets all the glory, but the fall sweep is where it’s at!
8. Start holiday prep – We never have enough time before the holidays, so make a point of starting prep early. Begin the Halloween costume brainstorm, collect Thanksgiving Day recipes, and start your holiday card address list. By doing a little holiday organization ahead of time, you can actually relax and enjoy the most important part—spending quality time with those you love!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Guide to Underground Storage Tanks for Homeowners, Buyers & Sellers

The Guide to Underground Storage Tanks for Homeowners, Buyers & Sellers

Why you should be concerned about what may be buried in your backyard.

Underground storage tanks (USTs), which often contain petroleum or other hazardous substances, can cause major issues for homeowners, buyers and sellers. Because of an inherent risk of leaks, which in turn can contaminate soil, these tanks must be carefully maintained and even removed.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are approximately 575,000 underground storage tanks (USTs) nationwide that store petroleum or hazardous substances. Here’s what you absolutely need to know about USTs before you buy or sell to avoid major headaches down the line.

What you need to know about USTs as a…

Home Owner
Because of the inherent health risk involved with contaminated soil and water sources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created the Office of Underground Storage Tanks to set regulations for UST maintenance and removal. USTs may be regulated by state. For more information regarding the state and county regulations that apply to you, visit EPA.
As a homeowner with a UST, you have a few options. You can maintain, replace, empty or remove your underground storage tank.
·                       Maintain – If you decide to maintain your UST, the EPA provides a guide to preventing UST releases, including information about spill, overfill and corrosion protection as well as correct filling practices.
·                       Replace – If replacing your UST, be sure to consult local regulations before doing so. Additionally, you should remember that piping should be replaced at the same time as the tank.
·                       Empty – If you choose to close your UST, you should be sure to follow the specific requirements outlined here. Note that written approval may be required for abandonment.
·                       Remove – Most experts recommend this option as removing a UST avoids risk of future soil contamination and sink holes. This process must be handled carefully, so be sure to do your research and select a professional.

Home Buyer
Before buying a home, be sure to do your research. Your lender may not approve a mortgage loan for a home with a buried oil tank, or they may make the oil tank’s removal a condition of loan approval.  Even if the UST doesn’t currently show signs of leakage, you cannot predict what will happen 5 years from now. Avoid inheriting a larger problem by doing your homework and working with the seller to have the tank properly emptied and filled or removed.

Home Seller
It’s important to understand the expectations and limitations of potential buyers of your home. As noted in the paragraph above, lenders may not approve a mortgage loan for homes with a buried oil tank. USTs can also be a scary liability to potential homebuyers.
It may be in your best interest to empty and fill or remove your buried oil tank to increase buyer interest. Depending on the state, the removal of a non-leaking buried oil tank can cost approximately $2,500. However, if the UST shows sign of leakage and/or soil contamination, removal costs can be substantial. Consult a professional to determine the best option for you.

Header Image Source: Filco Company Inc.