Winston Salem Real Estate and Community News

Welcome to the place where I will share up to date information about "the happenings" in real estate and in the Triad region of North Carolina. I hope that you will come back to visit often as Pam's ponderings will be many!

Talk to you soon ... Pam

July 5, 2019

10 things you must do after closing

From decluttering to packing to labeling and organizing your belongings, there’s a lot that goes into packing up one home and moving to another. But what about all the items that need to be accomplished after you sign your name on the dotted line?

Overwhelmed with odds and ends? Use our complete guide to make sure no task is left undone.

1. Turn on the lights

Don’t get caught in the dark. Make sure to transfer power, water and gas (if applicable) to your new address. It’s a good idea to go ahead and get on the schedule for cable and internet service, too.

2. Plan for moving day

If you have small children or pets, you’ll need to do some planning ahead of time to ensure they are taken care of during move-in day. Pack a small bag that you can take in your car (not in the moving truck) with the necessary essentials.

While you’re making plans for moving day, arrange for food to be delivered, too. No one likes to move on an empty stomach.

3. Change your address

No need to step foot in your local post office— hop on USPS.com and complete the five minute process to change your address. Kill two birds with one stone and update your address with your bank, major credit cards and driver’s license while you’re at it.

4. Change the locks

Don’t wait until you’re attending a Christmas party six months post-move to find out several neighbors have spare keys to your new home. Call a locksmith and get those locks changed out asap. Be sure to ask the locksmith to make copies for you and your family members while he’s there.

5. Make sure the home is safe

Don’t wait for a break in to think about home security. Call a security company you know and trust to set up peace of mind.

Additionally, make sure to test your new home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, too. You should also purchase a fire distinguisher and familiarize yourself on how to use it should an emergency happen.

6. Clean your carpets

Your new carpet may look clean, but you’ll feel so much better knowing you’re walking around on your germs, not the previous owner’s. Check nextdoor for carpet cleaning companies that do a good job— or better yet, go meet one of your new neighbors and get their recommendation.

7. Schedule pest control

If bugs and spiders aren’t your idea of a good time, call pest control to get on a routine service schedule. Consider looking into termite protection, too. Pro tip: If the previous homeowners had termite protection you won’t have to start from scratch, and it’s often times pretty cost effective to just pick up where they left off.

8. Call an appliance tech

Unless you were fortunate enough to be left with owners’ manuals for each new appliance you just acquired, you might have a difficult time operating or understanding the ins and outs of your new hardware. Most local appliance companies charge a nominal fee to come out, inspect the appliance and walk you through how to use them. Money well spent.

9. Service your a/c

Air conditioning experts recommend you schedule a tune up each year to keep your air conditioner running efficiently. It’s a good idea to schedule a technician to come out and check on your system before warm weather strikes.

Likewise, rather than guess when the previous homeowner changed the air filters last, pick up some new ones on your next target run.

10. Learn the HOA rules

If your new neighborhood has an HOA it’s a good move to figure out the rules. Many HOAs have stipulations on paint colors, additions, yard appearance, etc. If you’re unsure where to find the bylaws of your HOA, ask your neighbors— chances are they can help.

July 1, 2019

The Property Brothers Reveal One Easy Update That Changes a Home's Whole Look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan and Drew Scott get it: An awful lot can change in 17 years, and the latest episode of their HGTV show "Property Brothers: Forever Home" is living proof.

In the episode titled "Suburban Las Vegas Upgrade," they meet Vegas couple Becky and Michael, who have three teenage sons. Now that the boys are (hopefully) past the age of throwing around food and toys and generally wrecking the place, they want the Scott twins to take the family's home decor from generic to elegant.

 

Let's face it, when you're using a foosball table as a coffee table, it's time to switch things up!

Becky and Michael both love modern decor, which makes things easier for the Scotts.

"You basically kicked traditional to the curb," Drew tells the couple as they describe their dream decor.

The challenge comes in defining the huge, high-ceilinged open floor plan so it feels more like a warm living space, and less like a giant cavern with little personality.

As Jonathan and Drew attempt to make this happen on a budget of $87,000, they give some slick remodeling tricks that could well be adapted to our own living space. Take a look!

An instant exterior update

You don't have to update everything to make a home look like new. In fact, there's one tiny update that can overhaul a home's whole look: the front door.

"A modern front door updates everything," Drew tells Jonathan as they give the house an instant face-lift by simply removing the dated, double front doors with the frilly leaded-glass window, and replacing it with more geometric doors that have a series of small, rectangular windows running down the middle.

Interestingly enough, the new doors blend well with the Mediterranean-style exterior, while bringing the home into the 21st century. It may have cost $4,300 (they're very big doors, after all), but that's a lot less expensive than trying to change the entire exterior.

New modern barn doors and front doors
New modern barn doors and front doors

HGTV

Make sliding barn doors work in a modern setting

Jonathan is making sliding barn doors to separate the home gym from the rest of the house. He explains that the signature crisscross pattern on most barn doors will simply not do here. Instead he devises a pattern that angles the wood diagonally, instantly adapting a popular farmhouse feature to a modern home.

What's with the floor on the wall?

Jonathan is working on the fireplace accent wall, and decides to use luxury, wood-look vinyl on the wall, instead of tile, wallpaper, or actual wood. It looks great, but Drew just has to rib him.

"You're just flipping everything on its head, putting flooring on the wall," he says. "Maybe we should put some wallpaper on the floor!"

"That's a terrible idea," says Jonathan, deadpan. Indeed.

Jonathan is proud of the freshly oiled mantel, and the accent wall lined with high-end, wood-look vinyl flooring.
Jonathan is proud of the freshly oiled mantel, and the accent wall lined with high-end, wood-look vinyl flooring.

HGTV

Oiling wood can help bring out the grain

Jonathan has built a wooden beam–style mantel for the new fireplace facade, and the brothers believe that painting it just wouldn't be right.

"To bring out the natural beauty of the wood, I'm just going to oil it, and that will bring out the grain," Drew explains. "The biggest rule when oiling wood is you just want to make sure that you don't leave any pools anywhere, and also don't splash on your clothes, because it's very hard to get out."

Moisturizer is a must

Jonathan notes that Drew's hands are still soft, even after doing a lot of manual labor—they're not hard and rough like his own.

"I use moisturizer as I work," confesses Drew. "I keep moisturizer in my tools belt!"

"Drew moisturizers as he goes to keep his hands soft," Jonathan says with a laugh, adding that he keeps a hammer, a trowel, and moisturizer on hand at all times.

Enhance those high ceilings

There's a lot of overhead space in this house that just makes it feel cavernous rather than cozy. The brothers come up with an amazing remedy that exponentially ups the elegance factor in the home.

"Sixteen-foot, floor-to-ceiling drapes accent the fantastic height of the ceiling," says Drew. And boy, is he ever right!

Spectacular 16-foot, floor-to-ceiling drapes really up the elegance factor.
Spectacular 16-foot, floor-to-ceiling drapes really up the elegance factor.

HGTV

Get by without a little help from your friends

"Everybody's got a friend of a friend who knows how to do stuff," grumbles Jonathan as he's working on the wall where the TV and speakers were positioned.

It seems someone has jerry-built the wiring through the wall without sealing it, and moisture has gotten in, soaking the insulation. A few more years of that, and the wall would have been ruined, according to Jonathan.

The lesson: It's best to leave those types of chores to the professionals.

Do the 'Property Brothers' stars deliver?

As usual, the homeowners are thrilled when they see what Jonathan and Drew have done, using words like "amazing" and "unbelievable."

"It's well beyond our expectations," says Michael.

"Now we'll never have to move. We're in the perfect spot!" exclaims Becky.

Which is Drew and Jonathan's cue to happily move on.

Original Article via Realtor.com

July 1, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Bathroom Tile for Your Walls, Floors, and More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selecting bathroom tile can be a daunting task, because there are just so many gorgeous options out there. Where to begin?

In this latest installment of our Dream Bathroom Remodeling Guide, we'll lay out all the information you need to know. Here's what you should consider to find the right bathroom tile for your project.

 

Types of tile: Pros, cons, and price

Let's talk about tile choices. "The first thing you need to understand is that all bathroom tile is going to get wet, due to moisture and water vapor," says Cristina Miguelez, a remodeling specialist at Fixr.com.

That means that every single piece of tile in the entire bathroom—yes, even walls far from a shower or sink—should be able to withstand water. So you want a nonporous tile in the bathroom whenever possible. Porcelain, ceramic, and glass tiles are nonporous and hold up well; meanwhile, marble and many natural stones are porous and should be avoided.

Here's what else you need to consider:

Porcelain tile

Cost: About $2 to $15 per square foot.

Pros: This low-maintenance tile is ideal for both bathroom floors and walls, because the surface absorbs little moisture. That means it also resists stains. In addition, only soap and water are needed to maintain it.

Cons: The one big downside of porcelain is that it's a pain to install. The material is very dense, which makes precise cuts harder and means that the installation takes longer to complete. This type of tile also requires a fair amount of grout, which can easily get dirty if it isn't sealed properly.

This porcelain tile floor brings the wow factor.
This porcelain tile floor brings the wow factor.

HomeDepot.com

Ceramic tile

Cost: About $3 to $30 per square foot.

Pros: Ceramic tile not only comes in classic white subway tile but offers a range of colors and patterns that give remodelers a lot of possibilities to choose from. It is exceptionally durable, and examples of ceramic tile have survived intact for thousands of years. It is often used on shower walls.

Cons: Ceramic is softer than porcelain, so it's not a good option for high-traffic bathroom floors. And when ceramic chips, the color underneath is different from the shade on top, which makes the breakage more noticeable (porcelain is the same color throughout). The tile is also not as water-resistant as porcelain.

Photo from Houzz.com

Stone

Cost: $1 to $18 per square foot.

Pros: The biggest advantage of stone tiles is their uniqueness and beauty. These eco-friendly tiles are also not as slippery as porcelain and ceramic tile, and their durability makes them a good choice for showers.

Cons: Acid like vinegar can stain or damage natural stone, so you have to be very careful when cleaning it. And because the stone occurs naturally rather than being fired in a kiln, it can have small natural cracks that get larger over time. Just make sure to seal the tile to make it water-resistant. "Never use natural stone in a steam shower, and try to keep green marbles out of the bathroom, as they have a tendency to get flaky around water," says Miguelez.

bathroom remodel
Stone tile around a soaking tub adds a luxurious touch.

HomeDepot.com

Glass tile

Cost: About $30 to $40 per square foot.

Pros: Glass tiles add an opulent touch to any bathroom. Since they are resistant to stains, mold, and mildew, they are easier to keep clean. The tile is available in a rainbow of colors, as mosaic collections with a mesh backing and also as individual tiles.

Cons: The upscale feel of glass tiles comes with a price tag to match: This is one of the most expensive tiles. Glass can also be tricky to install. The tile is also easily scratched, which means that a floor of glass tiles will only look good for a few years.

Tile guide
Glass tile is the perfect choice for making a mirror pop.

HomeDepot.com

How to save money on tile

When you're pricing out home upgrades, you'll find that remodeling a bathroom has one of the highest costs per square foot in the entire house (a bathroom upgrade typically costs about $9,000, and tops out at $20,000). So before getting started, determine the style you want, and make sure you can live with it for years to come, advises Jay Kallos, senior VP of architecture for homebuilder Ashton Woods.

One way to save money is to skip tiling a bathroom from floor to ceiling. Instead, tile only the areas that truly need it, like the shower, bath, and sink backsplash. Find alternatives to covering the other areas: for example, wallpaper, panels of reclaimed wood, or shiplap.

You can also use more expensive tile as an accent in your bathroom.

"Custom handmade tile and natural stone can add up quickly, so if you have a small budget, use these sparingly, such as in the back of a shampoo niche or the backsplash at the vanity," says Erin Davisof Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, Oregon. You can also use less expensive tiles in an unexpected layout, which can make them look more sophisticated. "Try a herringbone or chevron pattern."

Wall tiles vs. floor tiles

Any floor tile can be installed on walls ... but wall tiles can't necessarily be installed on the floor, depending on the finish. For instance, glass mosaic tile isn't typically rated to go on the floor, because bathroom floors get slippery. Instead, use a small tile with a lot of grout lines, or a non-skid tile, to keep the floors safe.

"Keep in mind that softer ceramic floor tile can crack or may stain over time, making porcelain your best bet for flooring," says Miguelez. Another tip? "Try choosing one tile that comes in several sizes and using it on the bathroom floor, shower floor, and walls of the bathroom, to make the space appear larger."

Tile tips and tricks

Just as when you pick out a paint, "Be sure to look at physical samples in your own home when selecting a tile for your bathroom," says Abby Sanders of Pennsylvania tile installer Stone Interiors. "Every space has its own unique lighting, wall colors, and layouts, which can alter the look of your tile, compared to the version you may have seen at the showroom." Ask your installer for a few samples of similar colors, and take them home for a few days before making a final decision.

And don't forget about grout. "There's a growing trend of pairing plain tiles with colored ‘designer’ grout as an accent," says Curt Rapp, CEO of The Tile Doctor. "For example, use grout in bold hues like oranges, blues, and even reds, with simple white or black tiles." The contrast creates a fresh, unexpected look.

Original Article via Realtor.com

July 1, 2019

4 ways to be a competitive buyer in a sellers’ market

Feel like looking for a home these days is akin to gearing up for battle? You’ll need thick skin and a game plan to conquer today’s real estate market.

Quell the competition and declare victory over your next offer submission when you arm yourself with these four tips.

 

1. Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is quite possibly the most important step you can take in the beginning of the home buying process. You should do this before you ever step foot in a Realtor’s office and before you even browse for properties online.

Unlike a pre-qualification, which is traditionally an automated review of your credit report, credit score and stated application information, a pre-approval scrutinizes every aspect of your creditworthiness.

A pre-approval determines exactly how much you may borrow under a specific mortgage program. It’s also a great way to distinguish your offer in a highly competitive, low inventory market. In other words, once you’ve obtained your pre-approval you can shop for homes with confidence!

2. Go local 

Would it surprise you to find out that shopping locally for a mortgage is actually one of the best things you can do when it comes to having your bid accepted?

“A lot of people think that the highest bid is the one the seller automatically chooses— and ultimately there’s a lot more to it than that,” says Allen Tate Mortgage’s Vice President of Loan Origination, Lisa Green.

“Good Realtors will advise their clients to look beyond the dollar signs of the offer— not that offer price isn’t something that’s important, because it is, it’s just not the only thing sellers should consider,” says Lisa. “Just like conditions are important to weigh in the decision process, sellers should also think about whether or not the prospective buyer has been vetted and truly pre-approved by a local lender.”

Having a local lender who understands the market is key, Lisa explains. “Having market knowledge enables an underwriter to easily tackle each element involved in going from contract to closing.”

Find a local, experienced mortgage professional with Allen Tate Mortgage today.

 

3. Understand the market

In a seller’s market each home for sale may receive multiple offers, due to low home inventory levels. So you’ll need to come to the table with a strong offer or you’ll likely be kicked to the curb fairly quickly.

Fully understanding the market can help you be highly competitive. Don’t make the rookie mistake of perusing the interwebs to look at popular websites like Zillow or Trulia to try and conduct your own research.

These third-party sites often pull inaccurate data from various sources to report property value estimates. Trust us, your Realtor’s got your back on this one.

Your Realtor will work to pull data from recent home sales that match or closely resemble the value of the home you want to purchase. Use this information to make a competitive offer.

Want to get a head-start on gaining market knowledge in a specific area or neighborhood? Sign up for Market Report and keep track of current listings, average list price, days on market and more!

4. Make a clean offer

Normal contingencies— things like an inspection or available financing— are to be expected and won’t throw the seller off.

On the other hand, attaching too many contingencies to your offer— especially in a seller’s market— could seriously impede your ability to get the offer accepted. Work with your Realtor to decide which contingencies are best to include in your offer.

Ready to find your dream home? Then you need a Realtor.

 

Posted in Buying a Home
July 1, 2019

10 spectacular weekend getaways within 3 hours of Charlotte, North Carolina

Even though we love living in Charlotte, a charming town between the coast and the mountains, it’s nice to get out of town and explore every now and then. Fortunately, we have access to so many incredible destinations within a three hour drive! From bustling cities to natural hot springs and picturesque small towns to national parks, there are plenty of opportunities for travel.

Make it your goal this summer to visit one or two of these spectacular road trip destinations close to Charlotte and experience our area’s natural beauty, historic architecture and cultural attractions. Adventure awaits!

 

Lake Lure, North Carolina
Lake Lure

Photo courtesy of Liza Goodlett via The Lodge on Lake Lure

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: This famous Lake was the setting for the classic film Dirty Dancing, but is even more gorgeous in person. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the quiet getaway features lush greenery, a flowering bridge, a beach and nearby attractions, including Asheville and Chimney Rock. We’re sure you’ll have the time of your life!

Where to stay: The Lodge on Lake Lure makes it easy to experience life on the lake with complimentary paddle boards, canoes and kayaks. Plus, you can enjoy luxurious features like an on-site restaurant with locally sourced fare, plush bathrobes, and a wine and cheese hour.

 

Boone, North Carolina

Boone, North CarolinaPhoto courtesy of Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: Outdoor adventurers, take note. Boone is a lesser-known outdoor haven in the Blue Mountains! Here, you’ll find bouldering, zip lines, tubing opportunities, hiking, kayaking, mountain bike trails and so much more. Once you’re done tackling your adventure of choice, there are plenty of opportunities for top-notch relaxation as well. Pamper yourself at a world-class spa, go wine tasting at the local vineyards and shop along King Street. It’s an incredible place to visit at any time of year!

Where to stay: Set in a Greek Revival-style mansion, the Westglow Resort & Spa is a romantic getaway with impeccable service, delicious food and a full-service spa. It sits on a secluded 42-acre estate in one of the state’s most beautiful locations! And we’re not the only ones who have recognized it as one of the bests — it has earned accolades from Condé Nast TravelerTravel & Leisure MagazineOpen Table and more.

 

Greenville, South Carolina

GreenvillePhoto courtesy of Mary Beth Thomas via VisitGreenvilleSC

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours

Why we love it: There is so much to love about Greenville, South Carolina. The town is famous for the park in the town’s center, Falls Park on the Reedy, which features spectacular riverfront gardens and waterfall views. But it’s also famous for the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which attracts more than 1,000 visitors each day to traverse the 22 miles to nearby Travelers Rest by bike. While you’re in the area, make sure to check out some of the town’s best restaurants (The Lazy Goatfeatures top-notch Mediterranean dishes and views of the river), or try one of these fun and romantic date ideas.

Where to stay: There are several awesome Bed and Breakfast options in Greenville, but we recommend the Swamp Rabbit Inn. This charming and quirky hotel is a haven for families, cyclists and couples alike — offering private cottages, an on-site bike shed and super friendly staff to help provide local recommendations.

 

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North CarolinaPhoto courtesy of Explore Asheville

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Why we love it: Asheville is a little slice of paradise tucked into North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Known as Beer City, USA, Asheville features the most breweries per capita in the country, but is also famous for its vibrant art scene, incredible restaurants and historic architecture. You could spend the entire weekend hopping from restaurant to restaurant (think: tapas at Curate or tacos at the White Duck Taco Shop), but make sure to stop into some of the shops and museums along the way. Or, step outside of town for a wildflower-rich hike at Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail!

Where to stay: The Omni Grove Park Inn features a $50 million spa underground that has been ranked as one of the top 20 in the country by Condé Nast Traveler. That’s reason enough to visit, but the inn also offers easy access to nearby breweries, gorgeous scenery and an on-site piano bar.

 

Brevard, North Carolina

Brevard, North CarolinaPhoto courtesy of BrevardNC.com

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Why we love it: Situated 130 miles west of Charlotte, Brevard, North Carolina is known as the land of the waterfalls. And trust us, it’s just as picturesque as it sounds. Visit during the summer for the ultimate waterfall experience — hiking and swimming opportunities abound! After exploring the outdoors, you’ll be able to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the charming small town, which features delicious restaurants, shops, and festivals or concerts almost every weekend.

Bonus: While you’re here, make sure to check out Sliding Rock, a popular swimming hole with a natural rock waterslide. It is sure to be a hit for adventurers of all ages!

Where to stay: Book a cabin through Deer Ridge! These charming cottages feature mountain views, fireplaces and other upscale amenities, and most of them are dog-friendly!

 

The Research Triangle, North Carolina

Washington Duke InnPhoto courtesy of the Washington Duke Inn

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 30 minutes (to Durham)

Why we love it: A large chunk of Charlotte’s population is made up of graduates of UNC Chapel Hill or Duke University, so if you’re a Tar Heel or Blue Devil reading this, you already know the lowdown on the Research Triangle. This area, linked by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, is ripe with opportunities for exploring — including top-notch nightlife and culinary scenes.

There are also plenty of cultural experiences, art and history museums, and historic architecture! While you’re here, taste moonshine at Topo Distillery, experience the exclusive atmosphere at the Crunkleton ($5 buys a membership), enjoy farm-to-table fare at the area’s restaurants, explore Durham’s American Tobacco Campus, and visit the Peanut Roaster in Henderson. There is also easy access the outdoors at the nearby Eno River State Park!

Where to stay: The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club allows for an exclusive, resort feel without the astronomical price tag. Golf enthusiasts will love the proximity to the on-site course, but everyone will enjoy exploring the 300 acres of tall pines and hardwoods in Duke Forest! The Inn is conveniently located on the Campus of Duke University, and offers easy access to everything the Research Triangle has to offer.

 

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia

Driving time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Why we love it: Welcome to one of the most picturesque places in the country. Grayson Highlands State Park is located within Jefferson National Forest near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, and is a haven for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Hiking trails lead to waterfalls and spectacular overlooks, and the camping throughout the area is top notch.

Where to stay: Pitch a tent or stay at one of the local cabins! You can find all of the information you need for that on the park’s website.

 

Hot Springs, North Carolina

Hot Springs North Carolina

Photo courtesy of the Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Driving time from Charlotte: 3 hours

Why we love it: Imagine soaking in an all-natural pool of hot, crystal clear mineral waters with healing properties. Now, imagine doing that with incredible views of the mountains! Hot Springs, North Carolina is a small town that surrounds a 100-acre resort and spa with modern jacuzzi-style hot tubs positioned along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River. The tubs are supplied with the world famous hot mineral water that put this little town on the map, and there are also massage therapists on site to complete the spa-like experience.

Where to stay: The Hot Springs Resort & Spa offers several different lodging options for your relaxing getaway, including luxury suites, a deluxe cabin with a private outdoor tub, primitive camping sports and more.

 

Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

Driving time from Charlotte: 3 hours

Why we love it: Lake Jocassee is a magnificent, 9,000-acre, spring-fed lake located in northwest South Carolina. In the morning, the glassy surface of the water reflects the pristine shoreline and the surrounding rock formations, and at any point on the lake, you can enjoy staggering mountain vistas. It’s certainly one of the area’s most gorgeous natural attractions! There are three boat ramps offering public access to the lake, 20 lakeside villas, an abundance of campsites, several hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities — all you need for a memorable weekend adventure.

Where to stay: Either pitch a tent at one of the campgrounds or book one of the spectacular lakeside villas for a more luxurious experience. Either way, you will be graced with excellent views and easy access to the lake!

 

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston

Driving time from Charlotte: 3 hours

Why we love it: Charleston’s historic district is second to none. Showcasing colorful historic homes, ornate balconies, charming churches and horse-drawn carriages to take in the views, it feels like you’ve stepped into the past! Of course, that’s not all that Charleston has to offer. Perched on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, the city offers an abundance of fresh seafood and stunning beaches for soaking in the sunshine. In fact, the city was voted the #1 city in the US and Canada by Condé Nast Traveler in 2017! You might need more than a weekend to see everything.

Where to stay: If you’re going to Charleston, you might as well go all out! The Wentworth Mansion is one of the city’s most historic, unique and luxurious hotels — and the only one in town with a five-star rating. The Wentworth offers a true dose of Southern hospitality and easy access to the area’s best attractions.

 

Posted in Community News
June 26, 2019

7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in July

The summer solstice has passed, July is upon us, and the temperature outside feels like the surface of the sun. We get it—manual labor around the house might not be your top priority (especially when compared with, say, an air-conditioned, sangria popsicle–fueled "Game of Thrones" binge on the couch).

Since we know home maintenance can be one of the least appealing parts of adulting, we're here to help. Read on for a trusted list of quick, relatively painless tasks that'll potentially save major repair costs down the road.]

Task No. 1: Seal up your home

"Using caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home is one of the most inexpensive ways you can save money on your utilities," says Dave Quandt, vice president of field operations for American Home Shield. "It can also help improve your home's air quality, prevent moisture problems, and prolong the life of your HVAC system."

Shortcut: Pay particular attention to leaks around doors, windows, attic access panels, recessed ceiling lights, electrical outlets, and switch plates.

Call in the pros: Quandt also recommends sealing and insulating air ducts, which can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.

"Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30% of a cooling system’s energy consumption," he says. He recommends calling in a professional to do the job, which costs $400 to $1,000—an expense that can easily be earned back with a hefty return on energy savings.

Task No. 2: Scrub the decks

Prime your outdoor space for backyard barbecue blowouts by decluttering and deep-cleaning. Use a broom, leaf blower, or wet-dry vacuum to remove debris from all patio surfaces. Next, tackle the furniture.

Use a mixture of warm water and dish detergent to gently wipe down furniture cushions before leaving them out in the sun to dry. Open your patio umbrella, and use a vacuum or broom to remove any cobwebs. Wash the umbrella with soapy water and leave it open to dry. Finally, wash the patio furniture frames with soapy water, and rinse everything off with a hose.

Shortcut: To really make your deck gleam, considering renting an electric pressure washer (typically $40 per day from home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's).

Call in the pros: You can also hire a professional power washer for $250 to $420.

Task No. 3: Freshen your pool

Nothing kills your summer party game like a pool full of algae, so take a few easy steps this month to keep your water in the clear.

Shortcut: Test the pH level weekly with a pool water test kit to make sure chemicals are balanced and safe. Chemical level guidelines vary depending on the season and weather conditions, but the pH level should remain between 7.2 and 7.8 for the cleanest and safest water.

To destroy any contaminants, you'll want to shock the water—preferably at night so the sun doesn't burn off the chemical cocktail. Take care to never add the shock directly to your skimmer or directly to the water (which can bleach and weaken your liner). Instead, dissolve the shock in a bucket of water before adding it to your pool.

Call in the pros: If chemistry isn't your thing, routine pool maintenance will typically set you back an average of $243 a month.

Task No. 4: Inspect your windows

Poorly insulated or installed windows can sap energy from your home—and let in summer's delightful brood of insects.

Shortcut: Check for any gaps between your windows and their casings, and inspect your screens for holes. The price for new screens vary depending on a variety of factors (including the size of your window and your geographic area), but you can plan to spend between $5 and $15 per screen.

Call in the pros: A professional can take care of this for you, but you'll pay a premium on those hourly rates. A professional window screen replacement service will run anywhere from $90 to $200 for five windows, or a handyman could cost up to $340 for five windows. (You should always ask about discounts for having multiple windows done at one time.)

Task No. 5: Give your washer and dryer some TLC

In these dog days of summer, you're probably sweating through a few more outfits than usual. (No? Just us?) If you're buried in laundry, you'll want to make sure your washer and dryer can handle the load. Nurture those appliances now so you aren't schlepping to a laundromat later.

Shortcut: A bit of diluted bleach or white vinegar in the washer drum will usually take care of most cleaning needs and prevent mold from growing, according to Chris Granger, vice president and general manager of Sears Home Services.

If you have a front-loading washer, make sure to clean the gasket (that circular piece of rubber that seals the door). Use a diluted vinegar or bleach solution, and wipe behind the gasket to remove any detergent buildup or debris. Leave the door open when you're done to allow the gasket to dry.

Finally, take it easy on detergent.

"Using too much detergent can damage your washer," Granger says. "Detergent residue can build up in the washer—and on clothes—resulting in unpleasant odors in the machine, clothes that are not completely rinsed, and, over time, machine components that can fail."

In the dryer, remove and wash the lint screen—especially important if you use dryer sheets. And if you find that the automatic cycle isn’t fully drying your clothes, check for excess lint in the dryer vent tube.

Extra credit: If you have moisture sensors (the thin strips typically located near the dryer vent), clean them with soap and water to remove any residue, which can trick the sensors into thinking your clothes are prematurely dry.

Call in the pros: Consider calling a professional cleaning company to ensure your dryer vents are clear ($90 to $160—money well-spent to mitigate a potential fire hazard).

Task No. 6: Drain your water heater

Just like changing your car's oil, flushing your water heater improves your unit's efficiency and life span—and keeps your showers as scalding hot as you like them. You should drain your water heater once a year to clear out built-up sediment and minerals that could affect its performance.

Shortcut: To drain your water heater, turn off the electricity or gas to the unit, close the cold water supply valve, and affix a hose to the drain valve. Snake the hose outside and open the drain valve first, followed by the pressure relief valve. This will allow water to drain from the tank. Once the tank is empty, open the cold water valve again and let the water run clear from the hose. Close the drain and pressure relief valves, allow the tank to refill, and detach the hose. You're now ready to turn your clean water heater back on.

Call in the pros: A professional plumber will charge between $75 and $150 to tackle this task.

Task No. 7: Plant your fall veggie garden

This, of course, depends on your location and climate—but in general, midsummer's a great time to plant certain fall harvest fruits and vegetables. Think basil, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens such as chard, spinach, and collard greens.

Shortcut: Check out this handy guide for a region-by-region list of what to plant where.

Call in the pros: If you want the fruits of someone else's labor, you can hire a professional gardener. Prices will vary, but you could expect to pay $20 to $50 an hour for a skilled gardener.

Original Article via Realtor.com

Posted in Home Maintenance
June 26, 2019

Open House! June 30th

Open House! Sunday, June 30th 2:00 - 4:00 PM!

2230 Elizabeth Avenue, Winston Salem, NC 27103

Stunning Craftsman bungalow on premiere, tree lined street in Ardmore. Enjoy the bright spacious rooms & tile & newly refinished hardwoods throughout. Beautifully updated kitchen with abundant cabinetry, tile backsplash, quartz countertops, beaded ceilings & tile flooring. Formal dining room with built ins. Classic wood panelled den features fireplace, built-in desk & bookcases & access to the side porch with Bahama style shutters. Other amenities: new roof (2018), replacement windows & 2 car garage!

Posted in Homes For Sale
May 28, 2019

Summer House Backyard Retreat

Summer House Backyard Retreat

 

1. Add architectural interest to the exterior.
"It's important to take design cues from the main house," says Norman. Keep elements consistent with your home and its surrounding features.

2. Use an unexpected material on the floor.
Marble is used for outdoor fountains and planters, so why not a covered-porch floor? A graphic black-and-white check is striking and sophisticated.

3. Bring the comfort of the indoors outside.
"Outdoor rooms can be just as stylish as indoor rooms," says Craig. Give your covered porch the feel of a true living room with upholstered furniture. Choose woods that hold up to the elements, such as teak and mahogany, and use outdoor-grade batting and foam.

4. Get bold with a signature color.
You can never go wrong with lots of white on a porch, but add punch with accents of a strong color. A coat of marine varnish over brightly painted furniture increases its durability.

5. Pay attention to the details.
Trims such as box-pleated grosgrain, gimp, and fringe upgrade plain outdoor pillows to star status.

Get the Look:
Lantern | Nantucket Lantern (9130 3c), $875; solaria-home.com
Bench | Chippendale Garden Bench in Dark Red (46931), $299; grandinroad.com
Ottoman fabric | Bolton in Putty (W8452); thibautdesign.com
Furniture paint | Mai Tai (RLIB228); ralphlaurenhome.com
Stool | Diamond-Pattern Stool (W5398), $275; wisteria.com
Mirror | Observatory Mirror in White, $299; potterybarn.com

Architect: Norman Askins, Norman Davenport Askins Architect, Atlanta; normanaskins.com or 404/233-6565. Builder: Rex Friedlein, Pupshire Builders, Atlanta; 404/876-1598. Interior designer: Craig Duncan, C.W. Duncan Designs, Atlanta; cwduncan@gmail.com or 404/374-1641. Hanging lantern: Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts Inc., Atlanta; boxwoodsonline.comBergère chairs: custom by C.W. Duncan Designs, Atlanta; cwduncan@gmail.com or 404/374-1641. Pillow trims: Lewis & Sheron Textiles; lsfabrics.comStool: Drum Garden Stool in White (1254WT) by Emissary (emissaryusa.com), available through decor-decor.comSide table paint: Hearty Orange (SW 6622); sherwin-williams.comTable lamps: custom-made from antique ginger jars, available through Lamp Arts, Inc., Atlanta; lampartsinc.com.

Original Article via Southern Living

Posted in Home Decorating
May 23, 2019

8 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Damaging Delicate Surfaces in Your Home

It's easy to misuse all-purpose cleaners and DIY substitutes in routine home upkeep, so think twice and make sure the tools you gravitate to aren't doing more harm than good.

Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Don't Use Abrasive Scrubbers to Clean Laminate Countertops

Steel wool and other scouring pads can be too abrasive for laminate, and if you're not careful, they'll leave permanent and irreversible scratches, and dull a glossy finish.

Instead: Opt for a paste of water and baking soda to lift stains that set into your laminate surfaces, and use a soft sponge to tackle messes on these surfaces.

Don't Use Vinegar to Clean Granite Countertops

Avoid all acidic cleaners like vinegar, ammonia, bleach, and lemon, as they can damage granite countertop's sealant and lead to discoloration and erosion in the surface of the stone.

Instead: Opt for a store-bought granite cleaner, or use a soft sponge with dish soap to keep it clean on a daily basis. It may seem expensive to reseal the granite annually, but the routine maintenance will help to keep the countertop durable and free of stains.

Don't Use Water to Clean Microfiber Upholstery

Gilles Mingasson / Getty Images

Though marketed as a tough, easy-to-clean blend of (typically) polyester/nylon, many microfiber products are damaged when homeowners clean stains with ordinary water, as it can leave watermarks and spots.

Instead: Rubbing alcohol is better for spot treatment on microfiber. Apply it with a spray bottle, and use a dry, clean cloth to lift the stain as it loosens.

Don't Use Disinfecting Wipes to Clean Leather

Harsh wipes saturated with cleaner and disinfectants will damage leather upholstery in your home or car. Cleaners with bleach and bleach substitutes can dehydrate the natural material, and you'll even risk lightening the color of the leather.

Instead: Use Castile soap or liquid washing soap diluted in water, and apply it to the leather gently without letting it saturate the material. Wipe it clean with a second wet, damp cloth, and then dry the surface with a clean, dry towel. If necessary, add a natural leather conditioner to polish and protect the refreshed surface. For more ideas, see this tutorial on cleaning leather in your car.

Don't Use Bleach, Glass Cleaners, or Steel Wool to Clean Stainless Steel

Carley Knobloch

Chlorine-based bleach and ammonia-based glass cleaners can both cause permanent damage to stainless steel appliances or sink basins, and abrasive scrubbers like steel wool can also quickly scratch and dull appliances surfaces if you scrub against the grain. Both harsh chemicals can lead to a ruined or discolored finish, and over time, they can also deteriorate the finish.

Instead: Apply gentle cleaners using a microfiber cloth, and if polishing, always work with the grain for an even application.

Don't Use Harsh Cleaners on Wood Flooring or Furniture Surfaces

Emily Fazio

Tough cleansers can weaken and remove the polished finish that protects floors and furnishings, leaving the wood itself susceptible to damage.

Instead: Keeping wooden surfaces dust- and dirt-free is the best routine for wooden finishes, as it helps to keep the polished finish intact. Don't forget to refresh the polish occasionally to keep the finish looking like new.

Don't Use a Steam Mop to Clean Laminate Floors

ymgerman

The intensity of a steam mop can cause irreparable moisture damage when used to clean laminate flooring.

Instead: Sweep often, and use soapy water and a well-squeezed mop to tackle dirty spots. Always make an effort to dry the floor by hand to avoid excess water soaking in between the floorboards or tiles.

Don't Use Soap to Clean Cast Iron

Sam Henderson

Soap and heavy scrubbers will remove the seasoning on the surface of cast iron cookware, and as it can take a while to achieve that perfect cooking finish, you'll want to leave it in perfect condition if possible.

Instead: To clean cast iron, you can rinse it in hot water with a soft, non-abrasive sponge, but if the mess is mild you can also simply wipe the pan clean with a dry dishrag. In all instances, be sure you avoid soaking the cast iron, and allow it to dry completely to prevent it from rusting.

Original Article via HGTV

 

Posted in Home Maintenance
May 10, 2019

This Is How Much Money Folks Can Save by Shopping Around for a Mortgage (It's Quite a Lot)

We all know to shop around and check the sales when it comes to buying pricey items like a new car, a big-screen TV, or even a refrigerator with smart features. But many buyers don't realize they should do the same when it comes to mortgage lenders.

The average home buyer can save nearly $90 a month—or more than $31,000 over the life of a loan—simply by comparing interest rates offered by different companies, according to a recent LendingTree report.

The online financial services marketplace looked at mortgage rates and fees over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the 50 largest U.S. cities to come up with its findings.

"Different lenders will give you both different mortgage rates and fees," says LendingTree's Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze. "If lenders want to attract a lot of borrowers, they may have a low interest rate to be more competitive. ... [So] if you shop around and talk to more lenders, you might find a lender offering a better interest rate."

Nationally, the median home list price reached a new high of $310,000 in April, according to realtor.com data. That makes every extra dollar count all the more.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates were an average 4.14% on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages as of May 2, according to Freddie Mac. For even 1 additional percentage point, borrowers can be charged tens of thousands of dollars before the loan is paid off.

Where can home buyers save the most money?

Those in the priciest cities can potentially save bundles. Buyers in San Francisco can potentially shave more than $44,000 off their mortgage payments over the length of their loans by shopping around.

And they'll want to save every dollar they can. The median list price in the city was a whopping $1.35 million, according to realtor.com data.

"The more you borrow, the more you can save by lowering your interest rates," says Kapfidze.

Other cities seeing the most potential savings were San Diego, where buyers may be able to keep nearly $43,000 in their pockets. It was followed by Denver (more than $42,000), Seattle (more than $41,000), and Albuquerque, NM (just over $40,000).

The big savings aren't just for people living on the coasts. Even buyers in cheaper parts of the country, such as Oklahoma City, can save about $24,000 by finding a lender offering lower mortgage rates.

"Wherever you are, there's going to be an opportunity to save," says Kapfidze.

Original Article via Realtor.com