Monthly Archives: April 2017

7 Spring Maintenance Tasks to Tackle this Weekend


beautiful house after spring maintenance tasks completedSpring maintenance may be one of the most non-glamorous parts of home ownership.  Let’s be honest: very few homeowners (if any) sign on the bottom line so they can clean their gutters.  While it may not be the most exciting part of being a home owner, spring maintenance can actually prevent costly repairs later and maintain the value of your home (who wouldn’t get excited about that?). That’s why it makes cents (pun intended) to tackle these spring maintenance tasks now that the weather is warming up (even a little!).

Clear out gutters and downspouts.

It’s time to get out the ladder.  Spring is the ideal time to clean out the leaves, twigs, pine needles and other debris that fill your gutters and downspouts. If you don’t have the time, hire a handyman to check this spring maintenance task off the list.

Inspect your roof.

Between the wind, snow, and sleet, your roof has had to withstand a hard winter.  Now that all the wintry weather is gone (mostly), it’s time to look for shingles that are warped, buckling, loose or damaged. If you’re nervous about heights, hire a roofing specialist to evaluate your roof, repair damaged shingles, or replace the entire roof if needed.

Have your fireplace and chimney checked.

It’s spring!  Time to move those cozy fires to the deck or patio.  Since you’re giving your fireplace and chimney a break, contact the professionals to make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and safe.  A professional can also make any repairs so you’re ready next fall.

Stop the leaks.

If you don’t want all your AC’s cool air to fly out the windows, inspect your windows and exterior doors for leaks.  If the gap around one of your windows and doors is bigger than a nickel, fill the gaps with calk or hire a handyman to perform this spring home maintenance task.

Check your AC.

Before it’s time to flick the AC switch on, clean your AC and furnace, inspect the lines, check your refrigerant levels. If you don’t have the expertise, contact the pros to clean and maintain your AC and furnace so your units are ready for use when you need it.

Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

If you haven’t already, check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they work when and if you need them.  Practice your fire escape plan with your family so you are all prepared in case of emergency.

Prep your lawn mower.

All our spring rains are going to green up our lawn. Before you have to start it up, now is the time to sharpen the blades, clean out last year’s lawn clippings, and pick up some fresh gas for your next mow.

Of course, if your home is on the market, you have to do all these spring maintenance tasks and more (a complete list of curb appeal to-do’s is listed here) to prep your home for the market.  Add contacting a real estate agent to the list so you can find out how much your home is worth, and your home can be sold before our spring turns into a hot Wisconsin summer.

Condo or House? 4 Questions that Help You Decide Which Home to Buy


new home owner receiving key in hand after buying homeIf you’re like many first-time home buyers, one of the biggest decisions in your home-buying process is whether to buy a single-family house or a condo.  While you don’t have to make that final decision until you sign on the dotted line at closing (though it’s advantageous to ask your agent to see both your options), it is important to ask these questions as you compare these different types of homes.

Are you okay with shared spaces/common areas?

This is a key part of every home buyer’s decision, since many condos have shared indoor or outdoor spaces.  That space may be a lobby or outdoor yard, all maintained by the condo association.  If you are not comfortable with these shared spaces or think they are too much like an apartment, ask your agent to find condos with minimal common areas or single-family houses where you don’t have any shared spaces.

Are you comfortable with shared walls?

Whether above, below, or side walls, condo owners inevitably have to share walls with their neighbors.  As you tour a condo, decide whether you would be comfortable sharing walls with neighbors—or if there is any reason your neighbors would have problems sharing walls with you.  If you love to practice with your band in your home (loudly) or need loud music to relax after a late shift, you might want to look into purchasing a single-family home.

Do you want to take on yard maintenance?

Owning a condo comes with a huge perk: a permanent vacation from exterior maintenance.  One of the key features that sets a condo apart is the fact that the building and grounds are maintained by the condominium association.

However, if you like to mow the lawn or want to plant a huge garden, a condo may not be the home for you.  In a single-family home, it is your responsibility to do all the maintenance that comes with keeping up your home and yard.  Because these areas are yours to maintain, you can also plant the garden you’ve always dreamed about or paint your home whatever color you want (unless you buy in a subdivision with homeowners association guidelines-ask your real estate agent before you tour the property).

Have I budgeted for condo fees?

Condos may be maintenance-fee, but that maintenance does come with a cost.  As a condo owner, you are required to pay condo fees that cover the costs of maintenance, repairs to the building, and any amenities that may come with the condo.  To find out the fees, ask your real estate agent for the exact amount before you tour the property.  Budget accordingly; though condos are typically cheaper up front, the condo fees can make the total price more expensive than a single-family property.

Single-family homes do not commonly come with these fees, unless you purchase a property covered by a homeowner’s association (HOA).  Talk to your real estate agent before you tour a home to see if there are any HOA fees associated with the property. A quality real estate agent can help you decide whether a condo or single-family home is right for you—and help you find the right property for you.