Easy DIY Projects to Prepare Your Home for Sale

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If you’re looking to sell your home quickly and for more money, CBS News recommends listing when the market begins to heat up in May. To accomplish these goals, it’s essential to make popular areas of the house look appealing to potential buyers. Fortunately, with a little DIY effort, you don’t have to spend money on expensive home repairs or real estate-staging services.

Consider these easy DIY projects that can help ensure your home is market ready when it’s time to sell. If the property is particularly appealing, you may even start a bidding war.

Paint the front door – First impressions count when it comes to a home sale. You want your entryway to be inviting so homebuyers want to look further. An easy way to update an entryway is to paint the door with a new color that complements your home and surroundings. Simply remove the hardware, clean the surface, prime and topcoat with the new paint color. While you’re at it, consider painting exterior accent features – such as shutters or window boxes – the same color for a cohesive look.

Repair and refresh walls – Painting is an easy and affordable way to freshen an entire home so that buyers take notice. However, cracks and holes in freshly painted walls can make a poor impression. For a DIY project that yields a professional result, repair walls before the first swipe of the paint brush. ALEX Plus and ALEX Flex Spackling provide unsurpassed performance and durability for filling holes and cracks on surfaces throughout the home. ALEX Plus Spackling is easy to apply, sands to a smooth finished surface, and creates the superior paintability needed to seamlessly blend with the surrounding area. ALEX Flex Spackling is perfect for eliminating those stubborn reoccurring cracks in drywall that appear as problem areas expand and contract with changes in weather and humidity.

Update kitchen and bath hardware – Do you have kitchen and bath hardware that’s decades old? If so, it may be worth your time to replace these dated details. Adding small features such as modern cabinet hardware can visually update a room, so explore affordable options at your local home improvement store. Once you select the style you like best, just get your screwdriver and swap out the old for new.

Re-caulk the kitchen and bathroom – Exposure to water and moisture over time can cause caulk to look dirty and unsightly. Potential buyers are sure to note mold, mildew, dirt, and stains on old caulk. For a clean appearance, remove the old caulk, thoroughly clean the area to remove any dirt or residue, then re-caulk with DAP Kwik Seal Ultra Sealant. Backed by a lifetime mold and mildew resistance guarantee, this premium siliconized kitchen and bath sealant repels water, liquids, soap scum, stains so the sealant stays looking clean, fresh and new. Plus, it is safe for all surfaces, even granite and marble.

Revisit lighting throughout the home – Proper illumination isn’t just useful, it can open up a room and highlight beautiful architectural features. All lighting should be dusted, but for those fixtures that are old, outdated, or broken, consider inexpensive replacement options. Something as simple as replacing glass globes can add high-impact style. Adding task and accent lighting is another smart investment. For example, under-cabinet lights in the kitchen are easy to install and are likely to impress potential buyers.

Preparing a home for sale doesn’t have to be a daunting process. With these five projects, you’ll be well on your way to have a beautiful home ready for listing.

Forecast for the Week: Housing data and first quarter GDP are on deck

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Housing data and the second reading of first quarter Gross Domestic Product headline the week as folks gear up for the long holiday weekend.

• Housing data kicks off Tuesday with New Home Sales followed by Existing Home Sales on Wednesday.
• As usual, weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be released on Thursday.
• Friday brings the second read on first quarter Gross Domestic Product along with Durable Goods Orders and the Consumer Sentiment Index.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red “candle” means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green “candle” means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds benefited recently as investors expressed dismay with Washington D.C. Home loan rates remain near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday May 19, 2017)

Last Week in Review: April Housing Starts and Building Permits didn’t signal much inventory relief for future homebuyers

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New construction data disappointed homebuyers while news out of Washington dismayed investors.

Housing Starts fell 2.6 percent from March to April, the Commerce Department reported. This was the second straight month of declines and the lowest point since November 2016. Housing Starts were up just 0.7 percent over April 2016. Building Permits in April also were down 2.5 percent from March but up 5.7 percent from April 2016.

New construction provides relief to homebuyers frustrated by low housing inventory and increasing home sale prices. April’s numbers were disappointing.

Recent political turmoil out of our nation’s capital caused home loan rates to edge lower while Mortgage Bond prices hit six-month highs midweek. In contrast, Stock markets posted the biggest one-day decline since September 2016. The main driver of the plunge in Stocks was the question of whether or not the Trump administration’s pro-growth agenda would be derailed.

The good news for homebuyers and those in the market for a refinance is that home loan rates remain attractive and near historic lows.

If you or someone you know has any questions about home loan rates and products, please contact us today. We’d be happy to help.

Small-Space Gardens: Easy Tips for Homegrown Flavors

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The new growing season is upon us. You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to enjoy the many benefits of the season, nor do you need large swaths of land and sprawling acreage to grow your favorite greens. In fact, beautiful outdoor spaces – rich with colorful blooms and hearty edibles – can be created in nearly any space, including patios and balconies.

“Small-space gardening is the fastest-growing area in gardening and is becoming increasingly important to individuals who are interested in starting a garden but don’t have a lot of space,” says Tom Batt, a horticulturist and sales associate with Burpee Gardening Products and a consultant for Tractor Supply Company. “Ultimately, people are looking to have more control over what goes into their family meals and there’s no better way to know than by harvesting food from your own garden.”

Small-space gardening is all about getting creative and having fun. So whether you’re attempting to create an eye-catching outdoor oasis or produce delicious food for cooking, the most effective way to learn is by simply digging in.

To help you get started, the experts at Tractor Supply Company compiled a list of tips on how to take a confined area and turn it into a bountiful garden.

Ready, set, prep

As with most new endeavors, preparation is key. First, determine how much space you’ll be allocating and whether or not the area has access to adequate sunlight. According to Batt, a successful garden should receive at least eight hours of sunlight per day. It’s also important to make sure your planters are equipped with a sufficient drainage system. A hole at the bottom of your containers will help prevent oversaturation while still allowing water to permeate the soil. It will also ensure adequate airflow reaches the roots.

Commit to cultivating

Now that you’ve decided on an area, it’s important to remember that a garden – regardless of its size – requires time, attention and effort. It isn’t just planting then vacating. With that in mind, try to be realistic about how much time you’re willing to put forth. Batt suggests reserving an hour over the weekend for things like weeding and watering.

When it comes to plant hydration, it’s better to water deeply and thoroughly on a seldom basis than water too little on a regular basis. That being said, plants in containers tend to dry out more quickly than plants in the ground and will often require more water, especially during warmer months. A good rule of thumb is to soak plants until you notice water coming through the drainage holes. But remember plants absorb water through their roots and lose water through their leaves, so when watering try to avoid the foliage.

Start simple

It’s almost time to plant those first few seeds, but you’re not entirely sure what to grow. Consider starting with simple, cool-season crops like cabbage, carrots and radishes. Often, according to Batt, newer gardeners attempt to grow popular products like peppers, but what they don’t know is that in order to thrive, those need to be started indoors.

Another great option for beginners is herbs, which are inexpensive, require nothing larger than a 6-8-inch container, and only take three to four weeks to yield results.

“Herb gardens involve very little space and provide gardeners with a harvestable product that’s relatively easy to cultivate,” Batt says. “It’s also a fantastic way to grow a wide variety of plants in one fell swoop.”

Time to eat

It’s vital to know what you’ve planted and how long it should stay in the ground. Carrots, for instance, will harvest in about 65 to 70 days and, according to Batt, will show signs of wilting when they’re ready to be eaten.

Try to make a trip out to the garden every day to see what has ripened or is starting to flower. Trim back herbs, such as chives and basil, as soon as they start to flower. This will help plants continue to put energy into growth and production.

Checking on your garden daily also allows you to intervene at the first sign of trouble.

When it comes to small-space gardening, a little goes a long way. To give you an idea, a 10-foot by 12-foot garden has the capacity to feed a family of three for the entire summer simply by rotating the crops.

Tractor Supply Company hosts a variety of gardening events throughout the year, featuring expert advice and special products, all geared toward getting families out from under the roof and inside the garden. The rural lifestyle store carries all the supplies a family needs to get started, including mulch and soil, live plants, regular and organic seeds, pest control and garden tools.

Check with your local Tractor Supply store for details on upcoming gardening events.

For more expert advice on lawn and garden care, visit Tractor Supply’s Know How Central, and for homegrown inspiration for your garden, visit Tractor Supply’s Pinterest page.

4 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Drinking Water

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Water is something many of us tend to devote little time thinking about, not because it is unimportant but because we take our clean, safe drinking water for granted. That is, until something occurs that shifts our focus and shows us how potentially fragile our water infrastructure really is.

News headlines from across North America have brought the threat of poor drinking water to the forefront and caused many people to be curious about their own water. Research from Culligan International shows that 75 percent of survey respondents said they were worried about the water they drink, while 73 percent had never had their water tested.

“For years we’ve taken the safety of our water for granted,” says Rick Cook, manager of industry and regulatory affairs for Culligan. “But our aging infrastructure has heightened the risks of harmful impurities such as lead and iron contaminating our water supply.”

Preserving safe drinking water is not something that can be left to chance. To protect yourself and your family and to ensure the water running in your home is safe to drink, Cook offers these tips.

• Know where water contamination can occur. Water impurities are not just limited to the water source. They can also occur in the distribution system. While many naturally occurring chemicals and impurities can be filtered at the source, it’s still possible for unsafe amounts of lead to enter your water. These issues are more common in older homes – those built before 1986 – which commonly feature lead pipes and fixtures.

• Educate yourself on the filtration system currently in place at your home. Water treatment solutions, including water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and specialty filters, can eliminate specific impurities in your water. However, charcoal pitchers and refrigerator cartridges cannot.

• Pay attention to the warning signs. Corroded plumbing fixtures, unpleasant odors, disagreeable taste, discolored water and even shortened appliance lifespan are all signs that something is wrong with your water. If you notice any or all of these occurring in your home, it’s time to get your water tested.

• Schedule a test to identify impurities in your water. Because water contamination can happen unexpectedly, through a municipality, your own well or your own pipes, it’s important to have your water tested by a water expert who can determine what harmful impurities – if any – are present and how to eliminate them. While testing can be done at any time, Culligan recommends scheduling a water test after you move into a new house, if you have appliances that are burning out or if you notice a change in the taste, odor or appearance of your water. If you have well water you should also have it tested whenever the water becomes cloudy or changes in taste or smell.

For more information about Culligan water treatment products, or to find your local Culligan representative, visit culligan.com.