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8 Best Home Improvements to Make Right After Moving In: Have You Done Them All?

August 27, 2019


Getting ready to move into your new home? Before you settle in, there are some important home improvement projects you’ll want to tackle.

We totally get that home improvement is probably the last thing on your mind while you’re unpacking boxes, but trust us. You’ll regret not tackling these tasks while your home is a blank slate. Some of these projects are just easier to do before your furnishings are all set up, whereas other things are essential for your safety.

Curious about what you could be missing? Take a look at these eight essential home improvements to do after moving in—or even just before—to start your new life right.

1. Change the locks

Here’s a basic safety check: Those old locks at your new house need to be replaced or rekeyed, says Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design at The Home Depot.

It’s not that you shouldn’t trust the sellers—it’s that you shouldn’t trust all of the people who’ve had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.

Unfortunately, more than half (52%) of baby boomers and about a third of Gen Xers (33%) and millennials (31%) who moved in the past year have not changed their locks, a recent Home Depot survey found. Don’t join them.

2. Change alarm batteries

Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seem like a pressing issue when you’re in the middle of a stressful move, but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. It’s better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can replace the old batteries without having to move furniture to make way for a ladder.

3. Caulk cracks and gaps

Using caulk to seal cracks around bathtubs, windows, doors, and other crevices around the house will help you stop leaks, drafts, and other nuisances that could inflate your utility bills.

“Caulk serves multiple purposes: It lowers heating and air-conditioning bills by reducing airflow into and out of the home; it prevents moisture that can cause wood rot, mold, mildew, and water damage; and it keeps insects and other pests out,” says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman.

Pro tip: Mark Clement of MyFixItUpLife recommends using a latex-based elastomeric caulk, specifically DAP Dynaflex 230.

“It’s versatile: You could use it for molding, repair for paint jobs, both interior and exterior,” Clement says. “It’s the best jack-of-all-trades caulk.”

4. Spackle holes

Cracks, scratches, and holes in walls can form over time from regular wear and tear, or simply from nails that were used to hang artwork. A bit of spackling and spot painting will make rooms look fresh again, says Fishburne.

Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) new homeowners patch and paint their walls themselves, a Home Depot survey found. If you have only a few holes and scratches, you can fill them with spackling compound, which is sold in small qualities. For a greater number of gashes and holes, use joint compound, which is sold in quarts or 5-gallon buckets.

When you’re done spackling, you’ll want to repaint those areas. If you don’t have any of the original paint lying around (ask the seller if there’s left any), peel a dollar-size piece from the wall and bring that to your local paint store, which can match the color.

5. Build extra storage

If your new home is short on storage space, installing some storage units around the house can make your new home a lot less cluttered after you move in.

Specifically, entryway storage is crucial, especially in the winter, when puffer jackets, snow boots, and scarves demand extra space. So, consider mounting a shelving unit near your front door or in your mudroom (or both).

The only tool you’ll need is a power drill. If you don’t have one, you can rent one from a hardware store—or, better yet, borrow a drill from one of your new neighbors.

6. Childproof your new home

If you have young kids, take a day to childproof your new house. After all, accidental injuries are the leading cause of death in children aged 14 and younger, and more than a third of these incidents happen at home.

Installing safety gates at the top and bottom of all stairs is a must for small children. Choose a gate model that needs to be mounted with nails or screws to the wall or banister, rather than one that stays in place with tension, which kids can potentially push out of place, says Sharalyn Crossfield, a child safety expert and owner of Gate Maven Childproofing Services.

Blind cords are another problem—every day, at least two kids head to the ER for blinds-related injuries, often involving little ones getting entangled in (or strangled by) these strings.

To keep window blind cords and strings out of a child’s reach, place them on high, wall-mounted hooks.

7. Deep-clean carpets

If your new home has older carpets that are crying out for a deep clean, do it before you move in so there’s no furniture in your way.

Going up against deeply embedded dirt? You’ll want to rent a powerful, industrial-style carpet-cleaning machine such as a Rug Doctor, which sprays hot water with a detergent over the carpet and extracts it with a high-powered vacuum. These have more washing and sucking power than most consumer carpet cleaners, but they’re expensive to buy—about $400 to $700—so it’s more economical to rent one from a hardware store for about $25 to $30 per day.

Transporting the equipment and operating the machine can be cumbersome, but it does a better job cleaning your carpet than a regular vacuum cleaner and is less expensive than hiring a professional carpet cleaning service, which costs on average between $121 and $233, according to HomeAdvisor.

8. Clean hardwood floors—without ruining the finish

This is another task you’ll want to tackle before moving in so that you don’t have to move heavy furniture around to get the job done. Using the right cleaning solution is crucial. Most wood floor installers or manufacturers recommend cleaners that contain isopropyl alcohol, which dries quickly, and are available at home supply stores.

To make your own solution, add a capful of white vinegar to a gallon of water, which will help dissolve grease and grime on the floor without stripping the finish.

To remove shoe scuff marks, rub marks with a tennis ball. Whatever you do, do not clean wood floors with a steam mop, says Brett Miller, vice president of education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association, in St. Louis.

“Steam is horrible for wood floors,” he says. “It opens the pores in woods and damages the finish, causing irreversible damage to any wood floor.”

Jamie Wiebe contributed to this report.

The post 8 Best Home Improvements to Make Right After Moving In: Have You Done Them All? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Selling Your Home? Be Prepared to Cry—Here’s Why

August 28, 2018

We hated our house for much of the past five years we lived in it. Located in a suburb of New Jersey, it was too far from where we worked. It was also old, with an outdated kitchen we couldn’t afford to fix. And, oh yeah, as our family grew, it became way too small.

So when my husband was transferred to London for this summer, it seemed like a no-brainer to put the place on the market. Good riddance!

And yet, while preparing our home for sale, something strange happened: We started noticing things about our home that were always there, but that we’d become blind to over the years.

Granted, this awareness arrived in part because our real estate agent made it clear that many of the things we’d let slide wouldn’t fly with potential buyers. Yet other things we became conscious of made us realize that in spite of our home’s many flaws, we’d miss this place after we’ve moved on. Maybe a lot.

Whenever the time comes to sell your own home, you may have the same bittersweet epiphanies while walking those halls you thought you knew so well. To give you a sense of what may be in store, here are some things about our house we’d never noticed before putting it on the market.

Wow, so many ‘My Little Pony’ stickers!

My daughter’s extensive sticker collection

Sasha Brown-Worsham

We tried to stop her. Every time our preschooler came home with a pack of stickers, she peeled them, one after the other, and stuck them on the walls. They are on our kitchen cabinets, the trim in the dining room, the hardwood floors… The sheer volume of the stickers was something we didn’t fully consider until the first walk-through with our listing agent.

“That’s a lot of stickers,” she said. Sadly, most buyers aren’t looking for Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and the gang to be part of the sale. So we started peeling them off the walls, feeling a little sad each time we scraped one off.

What happened to our ceiling?

The ceiling before we fixed it.

Sasha Brown-Worsham

Our house had wallpaper on the walls and the ceiling; however, thanks to an unfortunate incident with a storm and our stove vent, much of it had sagged off. Weirdly, though, it never bothered us until we decided to sell, at which point the full horror of this eyesore struck us: Man, this was heinous. Was it always that big, or had it grown larger over time? Sure, we were busy parents with three kids, but come on, why didn’t we fix this sooner? This, too, was sort of sad.

Our bathroom may be dated, but it’s beautiful

My third daughter after her bath

Sasha Brown-Worsham

Granted, our bathroom looks nothing like what you see on HGTV. The tile is dated and dirty, and the walls are in dire need of a fresh coat of paint. And yet, it’s the bathroom where I spent hours in labor with my third daughter, a space where we dumped all three of our kids for bubble baths, their hair damp and smelling of roses. This bathroom was an intimate place, a personal place, and because of this, it was more special than we ever knew.

Wall fingerprints everywhere

Fingerprints are everywhere!

Sasha Brown-Worsham

Look closely at the wall below, and you’ll see smudges where my kids stuck their grubby hands—and left a mess that my real estate agent insisted must be painted over. But look! You can almost make out the shape of my baby’s thumb! She’s 4 now. Where will I ever find such beauty again? Each one of those scuzzy black marks is a moment in time my baby’s hand touched that white wall. You say it’s ugly. I say it’s magic.

We have too many shoes

Shoes for 100?!

Sasha Brown-Worsham

Who wears these shoes? How many people live in our house? A small army? Our mudroom is full to the brink with shoes of people I’ve apparently never met who live in my house. If you see them, can you tell them to put their shoes in their room where they belong?

That dust isn’t just dust

Just prior to showing our home to buyers, we hired cleaners to thoroughly scour the house. And yes, the dust was gross and absolutely had to go. And yet somewhere in that dust was a tuft of hair from our dog, Rocky, who had died just weeks earlier. I realized that once those areas were swept clean, we’d never get those pieces of him back. That dust wasn’t just dust, but the accumulation of life—pets, kids, parents, family—in a home we’d soon never see again.

We let the cleaners continue, but not without crying.

The post Selling Your Home? Be Prepared to Cry—Here’s Why appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.