Gunning Daily News

Quick Tips for a Speedy Sale: Give Your Home Curb Appeal

May 13, 2013 5:14 pm

Looking to sell your home this spring or summer? While market timing and pricing are important, another key factor is your curb appeal. A well maintained yard instantly increases your home’s value by as much as 10 percent, and in the season where the outdoors is at its best, you should ensure the outside of your home is in tip-top shape as well.

Here are the top tips for lawn care and landscaping, provided by Pillar To Post:

Mulch: Adding a layer of mulch to gardens and other non-grassy areas is an inexpensive way to make your yard look nicer. It also helps prevent weeds, so your yard will look better, longer.

Refresh planters: Think about planting brightly colored plants and flowers. They don’t cost that much and add instantly make your home look better. If you don’t have planters, consider investing in some. Not only can they help improve the curb appeal at your current home, you can take them with you when you move.

Trim trees and shrubs. You don’t want a potential buyer’s first impression of your home to be that you neglect maintenance issues. It’s also a good idea to take a look at your perennial plants. If a plant doesn’t look healthy, remove it. If you don’t want to invest in replacing the plant, put a decorative planter in its place.

Remove plants you want to keep: It’s misleading to show a potential buyer plants you don’t intend to include with the sale. Many states even have restrictions preventing you from doing so.

Clear clutter: Remove anything that is making the yard look cluttered, such as toys, lawn ornaments and large furniture. They can make your yard look smaller and less attractive to potential buyers.

Mow regularly: This may seem obvious, but an unruly lawn may have potential buyers wondering what else you have let go in and around your home.


Word of the Day

May 13, 2013 5:14 pm

Zoning. Procedure that classifies real property for a number of different uses: residential, commercial, industrial, etc. in accordance with a land-use plan.

Q: What Can I Do to Minimize Chaos, Danger and Stress Once a Home Improvement Project Has Begun?

May 13, 2013 5:14 pm

A: Plan ahead. Since your home will become a worksite once the remodeling begins, inconveniences will arise that can be minimized with a little planning. Begin by having a frank discussion with the contractor to set guidelines and develop a clear understanding upfront about the various project stages and the processes involved. Talk, for example, about where building materials will be stored, how to best protect your belongings from dust and debris, areas of your home that will be off limits to workers and whether you will need to vacate the home for any reason over the duration of the work. If a kitchen or bath will be out of commission, plan accordingly. It’s okay to move the refrigerator, microwave and toaster oven to the basement or another designated area where you can prepare meals to avoid eating out. Equally important are the rules that dictate how workers can conduct themselves in your home. Will they be able to use your bathroom and the telephone? Will they be prohibited from smoking, playing their radios or using profanity? Finally, remember to preserve a safe haven in your home where you can flee the chaos and dust and attempt to maintain your sanity.

7 Top Summer Jobs for Teen

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

For some teenagers, summer is a time to sleep in, kick back and enjoy. But for others, it’s all about money – a good time to earn and stow away cash for whatever is dearest to their hearts.

Summer jobs that are social and flexible are clearly the most popular. High school counselors suggest top possibilities ambitious teens should look into:

Camp counselor – Residential summer camps frequently want counselors with counselor-in-training (CIT) experience. But day camps, whether private or sponsored by churches, schools, or other local organizations, offer plenty of opportunity for responsible teens who can be good role models for children. Check early with camp sponsors for the best chance to snag a position.

Lifeguard – Proficient swimmers who are at least 15 years old can become certified lifeguards by completing a 37-hour training course including CPR, first aid, use of rescue equipment, and more. Passing written and swimming tests may also be required, but once certified, summer lifeguarding can be fun and lucrative for years.

Starting a service business – Entrepreneurial teens who can provide babysitting, lawn care, cleaning, car washing or other needed services, such as computer instruction or tutoring, may want to start a business that could continue long past the summer months. They can get a start by advertising their services at senior center, church and community bulletin boards or in free community newspapers.

Concert and event venues – It takes a lot of people to usher, sell snacks, provide security, and man the parking lots at the many summer event venues available in most communities. Apply early for the best chance of being hired.

Food services – Teens who like interacting with people can choose from cashier, host/hostess, server, bus girl, dish washer, and prep cook positions. Food industry jobs often open up in summer as restaurants seek to staff expanded outdoor dining.

Movie theaters – Indoors or at summer drive-ins, teens can enjoy free movies, free popcorn, and socializing by working at a movie theater in concessions, tickets sales, or cleaning.

Business internship – While many internships are unpaid, some do offer a stipend – and teens can gain invaluable experience to support their professional futures by pursuing a summer internship in a career field of their choice.

Ways to Gift Back without Emptying Your Wallet

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

You may feel you can't afford to give back if you are struggling to make ends meet. But, if you look closely, there are ways to make a meaningful gift without emptying your own pocketbook.

Don't sell yourself short by thinking you don't have enough time or the skills to make a difference. Get involved and you'll see the value you can bring to a non-profit organization and how it impacts the world around you.

BMO Harris Bank recommends five easy ideas for maximizing your non-profit gift:

Get an employer match
. Many companies will match employee donations, sometimes up to triple the amount. Contact your company's human resources department to see what options are available. You should also see if your company will donate dollars on behalf of your volunteer hours. For example, if you volunteer with a soup kitchen, some companies will donate money to that organization on your behalf.

Donate your professional skills. Many non-profit organizations have small staffs and can greatly benefit from volunteers with marketing, accounting and computer programming skills. You can help even if you can't donate a lot of money. If you consider the salary value of your skill-based volunteer hours, it adds up and can make a big difference to the organization.

Host a party. Invite a representative from your favorite non-profit organization as the guest of honor. During the evening, allow him or her to give a brief talk about the non-profit's mission, needs and upcoming events. Consider scheduling your party a few weeks before an event at the non-profit so people have an easy way to take the next step in getting involved.

Ask for donations in lieu of gifts.
With the birthdays, holidays, and other gift-giving occasions, come plenty of gifts -- but do you really need another coffee table book or scarf? Instead, ask your family and friends to make a donation on your behalf.

Race for your favorite non-profit.
Help a non-profit's bottom line -- and your waistline. There are countless run/walks scheduled throughout the year and many have a charitable component. A portion of your race registration benefits the organization, but you can also choose to fundraise or donate additional dollars.

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Easy Exterior and Interior Painting Tips

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

(Family Features)—The task of home painting projects may seem daunting, but by following a few helpful steps you can give your home a fresh, clean appearance and incorporate some of your favorite new home décor trends.

"Whether your painting projects call for sprucing up your indoor space or freshening up outdoor trim, a little advance planning, sweat equity and the right tools can go a long way in ensuring a professional looking result," says Carmen De La Paz, designer and former host of HGTV's Hammer Heads.

De La Paz offers these tips to help you paint like a pro.

Start with the Right Tools
Whether working on interior or exterior projects, be sure to use the right tools -- especially the appropriate tape -- to ensure a professional looking result. For indoor projects, make sure you read the label to find a tape that is appropriate for the surface you are working on and that has EdgeLock technology to ensure sharp, clean lines. For exterior projects, ScotchBlue has an Exterior Painter's Tape specifically designed for exterior paint jobs and is resistant to sun, wind and moisture.

Tips for Exquisite Exteriors
With its exposure to the elements and various surface types, exterior painting has its list of challenges. Here are a few tips to make outdoor painting a breeze:

  • Always use the appropriate nap, or thickness of a roller, for the surface you are painting. Some surfaces, like stucco, tend to have a rougher texture, so be sure to use a thick nap roller to help pull paint in and out of crevices. This will save time and frustration.
  • Remember to pick paint designed for the surface being painted. For example, choose masonry or stucco paint for outdoor projects, or paint that is compatible with wood or metal when painting other exterior surfaces. Remember, outdoor elements will influence how well paint sticks to a surface; some surfaces will even reject the wrong paint. You can avoid this by using the right paint from the start.
  • Be sure to "back prime" any newly installed woodwork. This means you should prime and seal the whole board before installing it. This will protect the backboard from moisture and prevent bloating and cracking once new woodwork is applied.

Ideas for Impressive Interiors

When approaching interior projects, use these tips to make them flawless:

  • When painting big surfaces, such as a wall, use a roller and paint in "X" and "W" patterns for even distribution of paint. This helps you avoid "lap marks" where paint builds up thicker in some areas due to overlapping.
  • When using a brush, load your brush and start by painting strokes in the middle of the paint area -- working your way to the edges. The goal is to lightly whisk the paint on. The brush has more paint on it than you think, so let the brush do the work.
  • If your painting job is ongoing, don't wash the brushes. Instead, put them back in their bags and keep in the freezer overnight. Then, pull the brushes out about 15 minutes before you plan to use them again and you're ready to go. This saves time and water for brushes that are already in great working condition.

You'll be amazed by how beautiful your home can be when you take the time to tackle those painting projects and do it right. Incorporating these tips into your painting routine will get you painting like a pro in no time.


Word of the Day

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

Property tax. Assessment levied by city and county governments on real and personal property to generate the bulk of their operating revenues to pay for such public services as schools, libraries, and roads.

Q: How Does the Seller Determine What Interest Rate to Provide?

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

A: The interest rate on a purchase money note is negotiable, as are the other terms in a seller-financed transaction. To get an idea about what to charge, sellers can check with a lender or mortgage broker to determine current rates on mortgage loans, including second mortgages.

Because sellers, unlike conventional lenders, do not charge loan fees or points, seller-financed costs are generally less than those associated with conventional home loans. Interest rates are generally influenced by current Treasury bill and certificate of deposit rates.

Understandably, most sellers are not open to making a loan for a lower return than could be invested at a more profitable rate of return elsewhere. So the interest rates they charge may be higher than those on conventional loans, and the length of the loan shorter, anywhere from five to 15 years.

Home Cures That Really Work

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

If Grandma handed you a moist tea bag to take the sting out of a minor burn, she probably had no idea why it worked – but doctors at a recent community forum confirmed that the home-grown remedy may be just as effective as some over-the-counter creams.

“Soak a towel in cold tea,” confirmed Pennsylvania doctor Marie Savard, MD. “The phytonutrients will reduce inflamed blood vessels.”

The panel of medical experts put a seal of approval on seven other useful home remedies:

Mosquito bites – Crush a low-dose aspirin and dissolve it in an ounce of water. Apply the paste and the salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce redness and itchiness.

Healing wounds – Reduce scarring as the wound heals by keeping it covered with petroleum jelly and a bandage for three to five days. Keeping the skin soft as it heals is better than allowing it to scab over.

Queasiness – Whether it’s motion sickness, morning sickness or a little stomach bug, try drinking the fruit syrup from a can of peaches. It works as well as some expensive over-the-counter nausea remedies, which are mostly composed of sugar.

Food poisoning – Try ingesting some black tea and a few slices of burned toast. The tannic acid in the tea and the charcoal in the toast should neutralize the toxins and soon have you feeling better.

Hangover – a cup of tomato juice mixed with a splash of Tabasco sauce will stimulate the liver and provide the antioxidants your body needs to replenish.

Congestion/bronchitis – Medicated vapor rub applied to the chest can help. Or boil a pot of water, let it cool for a minute, then pour it into a bowl and mix in a teaspoon of vapor rub to melt. Lean over it with your head about a foot from the steam. Use a towel to form a tent over your head and inhale for five minutes.

Toothaches – Cloves really work. Keep a bottle of eugenol (clove extract), purchased at the pharmacy, in your medicine cabinet. If a toothache strikes, soak a cotton ball in it and apply directly to the tooth to ease the pain until you can see a dentist.

It’s Electric: Six Safety Tips

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

May is National Electrical Safety Month, and with the weather warming up, it’s time to make safety a priority when working outside near overhead power lines.

Safe Electricity reminds everyone to take note of overhead power lines when working outside:

  • Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long tools like ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning poles. Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep in mind that wind can blow large objects out of your control.
  • Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from power lines. Even if you do not come in contact with a power line, the electricity can arc to close objects and people.
  • Be careful when working on or around your roof—installing or cleaning gutters, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, or doing repair work. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.
  • Never climb trees near power lines.
  • Never trim trees near power lines. Leave that to the professionals.
  • Always follow safety procedures, no matter how boring and mundane they seem.