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Removing Carpet

by Tucker Robbins

Homeowners of houses built in the wall-to-wall carpet phase may be pleasantly surprised to learn that there is hardwood flooring beneath rug.  If you’ve pulled up a corner of the carpeting and found just that, or simply want to remove the old carpet before new is installed, DIY’ing this job is a good idea, but be ready--here are a few tips for removing wall-to-wall carpeting: 

 

  • - You’ll need a few things--heavy duty trash bags, protective gloves, sharp utility knife, dust mask, and a crowbar, and for removing padding glue or staples, a flat floor scraper or padding adhesive remover. 

  • - Remove all the furniture from the room, as well as floor vents, and any under shoe molding.  Vacuum very well to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. 

  • - If there is a room door that swings inward, take the door off the hinges to keep it out of the way. 

  • - Suit up with the dust mask and the work gloves, and start in a corner, pulling a section back with the crowbar, taking care to be mindful of the tack strips that can be holding down the carpet around the perimeter of the room. 

  • - Once you’ve pulled the carpet back, fold it over, and, using the utility knife, cut a section of carpet from the back side for easier going. (Cutting the large rug into sections makes it much more manageable than rolling up the whole piece.)  

  • - Remove the tack strips with the crowbar if you have hardwood floors under the padding that you plan on refinishing.  Start in the middle of the strip, loosening the nails, and work towards the ends. 

  • - After the tack strips are out, tackle the padding.  Pull it up, cutting into sections the same way the carpet was cut. 

  • - Some padding is installed with adhesive, and some is stapled to the floor.  If there is glue remaining on the floor, follow the instructions on the carpet padding adhesive remover to get the glue off the flooring. The staples can be removed with the floor scraper. 

  • - Remember that if you’re planning on recarpeting the floor, leave the tack strips in place, and remove the padding anyway, as most installers require new padding to be put down.

 

Call your local municipality to find out how they would like for you to dispose of the old carpet, because the large amount may not be able to be picked up by the regular truck.  Don’t hesitate to ask about recycling programs that are available, as virtually all carpeting can be recycled.  

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: realitydaydream.com

Creating a Restful Bedroom

by Tucker Robbins

Ah, rest--it is probably one thing that many people will say that they don’t get enough of.  Something we may not realize that’s vital to a good night’s sleep is a calm atmosphere in the bedroom.  Let’s look at what we can do to create a restful bedroom. 

 

  • - Keep the room free of clutter: use storage containers under the bed for clothes you may not have room for, keep jewelry neatly hanging or in a jewelry box, have a hamper tucked away for clothing that needs to be washed, and shoes should be tucked away. 

  • - Some smaller homes don’t have a designated room for an office, and it’s important to keep the two separate, even in the same room.  Face the work area away from the bed and use a screen if you like.  Keep the desk tidy, so you’re not looking at work that needs to be done while you’re preparing to go to bed.  Turn off any electronics that can disturb the quiet of the room when you’re not using them. 

  • - Low lighting is important, so use a low-wattage bulb in the bedside lamp and add a timer for it to come one just before bedtime so you won’t have to turn on the bright ceiling light when it’s time to get ready for sleep. 

  • - Sleep experts will tell you that the bedroom is no place for a television!  If sleep is an issue for you, keep the tv in the family room, as the light and noise will keep you from truly resting.  

  • - On that note, if you need some sort of noise to help you sleep, there are many white noise machines and smartphone apps, as well as playlists on many music streaming services that have a variety of relaxing background noise.  Ditch the tv and use white or “pink” noise to help you drift off. 

  • - Room-darkening shades can be very helpful in blocking city lights and help those who must work at night sleep during the day.   

  • - Pets are like family for most of us but allowing them to sleep in bed with you may not be such a good idea.   Have a special bed or crate for Spot to sleep in, so their nighttime movements won’t disturb your deep sleep cycles.  

  • - Room temperature is very important to rest.  If it’s in the budget, have a separate heating and cooling system for the bedroom, and keep it between 60° and 67°, and if that’s not possible, use a fan to keep you cool. 

  • - Choosing the color for decorating is important, as colors influence us when it comes to different activities.  Most of us know that blues, greens and grays are relaxing colors, but if you like to make a bold statement, light colors won’t work.  Royal blue, shades of teal, and browns can still make a room feel calm and add bright style to the room. 

  • - Obviously, your bedding is one of the most vital parts of getting a good night’s rest.  Have a comfortable mattress with good pillows and bedding appropriate for keeping you comfortable.   

 

Sleeping well is so important to many aspects of life, not to mention your health, and if your bedroom isn’t helping you get a good night’s sleep, it’s time to make some changes.  The Better Sleep Foundation has some other tips and information on how your bedroom can help you get the rest you need. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: Pinterest

Brighten the Dark

by Tucker Robbins

Daylight is becoming noticeably shorter this time of year, and since Daylight Savings Time ended, most people will be coming home from work in the dark.  Options for lighting have come so far, you can customize your lighting inside and outside for safety, convenience and aesthetics.   

 

  • - Motion-sensor lighting has come a long way, and many have bright, long-lasting LED’s, timers, and motion sensitivity settings.  Battery-operated lights are the easiest to install and can be placed virtually anywhere.  Use them where you park when you come home, near walkways, as well as the entryway.  Stylish motion sensor lamp posts are perfect for integrating into the landscaping, as they look great besides offering some security. 

  • - For your garage entry, install wall sconces on either side of the door, or one light over the door, shining downwards.  Motion sensors or smart lighting that come on when you drive up are best. 

  • - Solar stake lights are perfect for your landscaping or walkway, but instead of a straight line of lights, place them in various places among plantings to add some interest.  When it’s dark, the low wattage of the solar lights will provide enough light for you to see well. 

  • - Install step or stair lights for the amazing look, as well as safety.  Add them along the sides to the railing, or on the risers.   

  • - If your entryway is covered with a porch, place a lamppost near the steps or install lighting on the porch posts closest to the steps, or consider adding an overhead fixture to the porch ceiling to light up the entire area. 

  • - Depending on the placement of your light fixtures, make certain the types you choose are going to be able to take the elements.  A light with a UL damp rating is best under a covered area, and one with the UL wet rating can handle harsh weather conditions like direct sunlight, rain and even saltwater spray. 

  • - As noted above, some lighting needs to be motion-sensored, but others can be managed by timers, while solar lighting usually has sensors to come on when it’s dark and turn off at daylight.   

  • - The type of bulb you use is a personal choice, but keep in mind that if you’re going to be using the lights all night, LED’s use far less energy, and last much longer than other types, saving you money and time.  Don’t let the memory of the harsh glare LED’s gave off when they were first produced; their technology has come a long way and the industry has taken great strides to give consumers softer, more pleasing light. 

 

Before adding bright security lighting that can affect the homes next door, talk with your neighbors, as they’ll appreciate you consulting with them.  You need to make certain you won’t be disturbing their rest or have your lights shining into their windows.  Not only do you want to have lighting outside for security, but for the ambience as well.  A nicely-lit home looks inviting and adds to the style of your home. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: Youtube

Carve, Drill or Sculpt a Pumpkin!

by Tucker Robbins

Gone are the days of using Mom’s best kitchen knife to carve a simple jack o’ lantern with triangle-shaped eyes and a toothy grin.  Pumpkin carving is an art for many, but even those who aren’t so talented in that department can create original and fun lanterns to light our front steps for Halloween! 
 

  • - Cleaning out the pumpkin is messy, and best done on a paper-covered table or done outside.  Once the inside is clean of seeds and pulp, use a spray bleach cleaner such as Clorox Clean Up to spray the inside of the pumpkin to help stop it from molding quickly. 

  • - Pumpkin carving kits can be bought for just a few dollars, and they usually contain a utility saw, hand “drill,” and scraper.  Some kits offer templates to choose from. 

  • - The amount of free printable templates are almost overwhelming, and you’ll probably end up with more than one jack o’ lantern if you go through this list of available templates from The Spruce Crafts! 

  • - Find a template that compliments your skills, or find an easy one that children can help with, and print.  Tape it to your cleaned-out pumpkin, and use a pointy object to trace around the line drawing, poking through the paper and into the pumpkin. Cut the pattern using a small saw, and spray the newly cut areas with the bleach cleaner, and your piece of art should last for several days! 

  • - Metal cookie cutters can also be used for a different look for your pumpkins:  using a mallet, gently tap the cookie cutter through the carved pumpkin shell.  Go around the pumpkin using this method, or place the cutter in random places for a less-structured look. 

  • - A power drill can make creating a pumpkin lantern a breeze!  Use different bit sizes to make your pumpkin sparkle, like these from onelittleproject.com. 

  • - For the more advanced pumpkin artist, grab a linoleum cutter at your local home center, and follow these directions from FromChinaVillage.com for a different approach to “carving.” 

  • - Battery-operated tea lights are perfect for lighting your jack o’ lantern, and last for several hours, as well as being safer than a traditional candle.  Once you purchase an inexpensive pack, replace the batteries when the old ones die, as the LED bulbs inside last much longer than any wax tealight candle. 

  • - For more festive and different approaches to decorating your porch with other members of the squash and vegetable family, check out these ideas from The Garden Glove. 

 

Keep the pumpkin-carving safe:  supervise younger children, and even help them when they want to use tools to cut the pumpkin’s new face.  Most children love cleaning out the “guts” of the pumpkin, so have them pick out some seeds for cleaning and roasting later for a healthy treat.  Most of all, have fun, and make memories!

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins

Photo credit: thesprucecrafts.com 

Neighborly Advice in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins

In days gone by, when someone moved into the neighborhood, casseroles, cookies, local information and cookout invites were offered by residents up and down the street.  With so many differences in today’s society, some people never even see their neighbors, let alone know their names.  Even if we don’t have “good” neighbors, let’s see how we can be one: 

 

Generally Speaking 

  • - First and foremost, keep your lawn and home maintained.  Don’t spend your first Saturday morning in the neighborhood mowing grass or hammering away at a project at dawn, but keeping your yard neat and your home looking good will let the other residents know you care about your home and community. 

  • - Noise plays a factor, especially if homes in the neighborhood are close together.  Keep music, children and animals quiet after 10 PM, and if you’re having a backyard gathering, take it inside if guests are still with you late into the evening. 

  • - Pets are a part of our families, but not everyone loves your frisky pup like you do. Keep dogs and cats off your neighbors’ property, and install fencing in the backyard if it’s not already there.  Clean up after your pet on walks. 

  • - Find out when trash pick-up is and take your cans to the curb on time.  No one wants to see (or smell!) overflowing cans or bags of garbage piled along the curbside.
     

Getting to Know You 

  • - Once you’ve gotten partially settled, if you see someone outside, introduce yourself.  Even if the neighbor doesn’t seem to want to be best friends, you can at least share what you do for a living, your name and phone number, so they’ll know your general schedule and how to get in touch with you if necessary. 

  • - Weather permitting, host a front porch gathering, and invite your neighborhood.  Offer light refreshments for the meet-and-greet, and have it in the afternoon before dinner time so no one feels pressured to stay.   

  • - Create a social media neighborhood group or join an existing one.  It’s a good way to see what’s going on, as well as getting to know those who don’t live in your immediate vicinity.   

  • - Communication is key when it comes to your neighborhood.  Let your closest neighbors know when you’ll be away, having a tree removed, planning on new construction, when you’re having a party, (invite them, whether they show up or not!), garage sale, or any other activity that can affect them and their surroundings. 

 

When you’re on a friendly basis with everyone on your street, it sure makes living there a lot easier.  Keep in mind the golden rule to treat others the way you’d like to be treated, and others will see that you’re respectful and friendly.  You’ll be helping not only keeping your community a great place to live, but living peacefully amongst your neighbors.

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: cbjenihomes.com

Back-to-School Routine

by Tucker Robbins

In most parts of the US this time of year, there is a lot of groaning by kids who are heading back to school, and some parents as well, because they dread the busyness of the school being in session.  Take the dread out by getting organized and staying organized so that it becomes a routine for you and your kids. 
 

  • - With sales and coupons abounding at every store this time of year, we usually end up with more school supplies than we need.  Have a dedicated storage spot for everything for easy access when it’s time to replenish.  Donating some of those extra supplies to the school or organization who help kids in need is a good thing, too. 

  • - If your school requires uniforms, go through old ones, and if they’re not worn or stained, take them to your school office so other students have a change of clothing in case of spills or accidents.  

  • - Getting ready for school begins the night before.  Set a bedtime, get a good routine going, and stick to it.  It can help reset your child’s body clock so that even when things get busy, they’ll be ready for sleep at their set time. 

  • - Even if they haven’t yet learned to tell time, get your child an alarm clock.  Set the alarm and help them be responsible for getting themselves up.   

  • - Have all their school clothes for the week hanging on a wreath hanger on the back of their bedroom or closet door or folded on their dresser.  This way, they can decide what to wear each day without staring at a closetful of clothes. 

  • - Let the kids pitch in with lunch prep.  Have their lunchboxes, storage containers, plastic bags and drink containers all in one easily-accessed spot in a kitchen cabinet. Good Housekeeping has a video with some great tips for packing up lunches. 

  • - Breakfast on the go can be so much more than a toaster pastry and juice box.  Mique from Thirty Handmade Days has compiled a list of links of 31 healthy make-ahead meals that kids will love! 

  • - Whether you have a mudroom or not, place some baskets or totes near the door for shoes, bookbags and sports bags.  It certainly helps with “I can’t find…” when it’s time to get them out the door. 

  • - After-school routines can vary, with extracurricular activities, sports, and lessons.  Keep a white board in a prominent place and have everyone’s schedule listed by days of the week.  Have the kids go over their schedule the night before so they’ll be prepared for their activities the next day. 

  • - Sometimes children come home from school and can’t wait till dinner and want to eat a full meal.  Have some snack bags of sliced fruit or veggies keeping cold in the fridge.  Add some fruit dip or ranch, and they’ll have a yummy snack that will tide them over until meal time. 

 

Getting in a routine doesn’t mean there won’t be mishaps or struggles or lost socks.  Go with the flow and remind the kids of the importance of putting things in their place or having things ready to go.  When they see you getting things ready beforehand, they’ll pick up your habits, get used to it, and it will soon be second nature.   

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: 01 Insurance

Ready to Buy a Home?

by Tucker Robbins

Buying a home is likely the largest investment you will ever make.  There is plenty of preparation before you start house-hunting, so make the process as smooth as possible with this guide to buying a home. 

 

  • - We can’t say it enough:  mind your credit!  Unless you have the funds to pay for a house in cash, then you need to keep an eye on your credit. Get a report from all three credit reporting agencies from the Annual Credit Report website. 

  • - Know what you can afford.  Make a budget and stick to it, recording everything on paper or using budgeting software.  Once you see where your money is going, it’s easier to cut some unnecessary things to put towards your down payment. 

  • - That said, start saving now, not only for your down payment, but any other expenses associated with a home purchase:  inspections, closing costs, and taxes are a few to expect. 

  • - Once you are close to having all of your down payment, start shopping for the best mortgages, and get pre-approved.  Being pre-qualified is great, but it’s not much help if you’re not approved for the loan. 

  • - Be ready to compromise on certain home aspects:  square footage, having to make minor repairs, or even living on a busy street.  If the price is right, the house fits your needs and wants, then put the it on your possibilities list. 

  • - Just because you’re approved for a certain home loan amount doesn’t mean you have to max that budget.  You need as much leeway in your finances for emergencies and unexpected costs. 

  • - Prepare yourself for possible let-downs:  some perfect-for-you homes are also perfect for others who are on the search for a new house.  If there are several offers on a house, you may have to walk away from it and keep hunting. 

  • - Don’t go through it alone!  Find a Realtor that you trust and like.  These real estate professionals are your ultimate guide through the home-buying process, and will make it so much easier for you.   

 

The house-buying process for most Americans takes a bit longer than what we see on the home-buying television shows. It takes planning and patience to find what you need and want.  So, do your “home” work, and you’ll soon be on your way to being homeowners! 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins

Photo credit: Realtor.com 

Summer Remedies From Your Pantry

by Tucker Robbins

A day in the sun is over, and you notice that the white straps on your bathing suit have turned an ugly light brown or orange color, stained by the sunscreen we all need.  You might have just what you need to remove those stains in your cleaning supplies, and many remedies for Summer maladies can be found in your kitchen and bathroom.  Save some money with these home remedies! 
 

  • - Powdered cleansers that contain oxalic acid, like Bar Keeper’s Friend, are perfect for sunscreen-stained swimsuits and clothing.  Wet the stain, apply the cleanser, and let it sit for a few minutes.  - - The stain may take some rubbing, or reapplication, but it usually comes out and your suit isn’t ruined! 

  • - Bee stings are a common ailment, especially for those who like to be barefoot.  In the case of a minor allergic reaction, such as pain, itching and swelling, apply an ice pack for several minutes.  If the symptoms return, reapply the ice.  

  • - Baking soda has a long list of uses, and add “soothing heat rash” to that list.  Add one cup of baking soda to a tepid bath, and soak for at least twenty minutes.  The alkalinity of the soda will help dry the affected areas. 

  • - Spending a lot of time at the beach may inevitably mean getting too close to a jellyfish.  White vinegar poured on the wound will dissolve the stingers that the jellyfish leaves on the skin, allowing the pain to subside.  Fill a small spray bottle with vinegar and add it to your beach bag, just in case. 

  • - Your hair can suffer from hot wind, sun, and chlorine in swimming pools.  Rehydrate it with a coconut oil treatment!  Apply it from root to ends, wrap your hair in a warm towel, and allow to soak in for a half hour.  Wash it with your regular shampoo to remove the excess oil. 

  • - Mosquitos, biting flies, and fleas are the most common insect bites in the summer.  Dab bites with peppermint oil to cool the skin and reduce the itch. Do not apply to a bite that’s been scratched red nor to broken skin--the result will not be cooling at all! 

  • - Many gardeners and hikers come across poison ivy in spite of the “leaves of three, let it be” mantra.  An oatmeal bath will soothe itchy, irritated skin:  pulse one cup of oats in a blender or food processor until they’re ground, and add it directly to a warm bath. 

 

Use common sense with any side effects from bites, stings, or any other skin issue:  if the problem persists, by all means seek medical attention.  Don’t let your warm weather fun turn into a recuperating period!  Summertime ailments don’t always require a trip to the drug store, so look in your pantry for items you need in a pinch, and enjoy your time in the sun! 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: Free People Blog

Pet Summertime Safety in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins

When we’re enjoying the warm weather, our pets usually are, too.  When we’re spending time outdoors with family and friends, we usually include our pets.  Keeping our furry family members safe should always be a priority, and these tips may be a refresher course for some, but it never hurts to make sure all our loved ones are kept out of harm’s way. 

 

In the Backyard 

  • - Fencing should be examined to make sure there are no gaps at the bottom, and that all materials are in place and secure.  You don’t want Fluffy taking a neighborhood excursion by himself. 

  • - The garden and landscaping bring us great satisfaction, and animals like to take a bite of growing things occasionally.  Check these lists for cats and dogs from ASPCA to make sure you keep your pets from chewing on them. 

  • - Keep any swimming pool chemicals and mechanical lawn tools sealed and out of your pets’ way.  Some of these products have a scent that is enticing to animals, and they wouldn’t hesitate to give them a try.   

  • - It may sound sensational, but if you have an animal that is a toy breed, or weighs five pounds or less, keep an eye and ear out for any predatory birds.  Owls, hawks, and eagles have been known to attack small pets, mistaking them for a wild meal. 

  • - Sometimes it’s necessary to leave your dog or cat outside while you’re gone for a while.  Make sure they have adequate shelter to keep them cool, and plenty of cool water to prevent heat stroke or dehydration. 

  • - Allowing your cat to roam in the yard is great for them, as they are natural hunters, and they find great pleasure in all the sights and sounds.  Keep an eye on them in case they see a bird they’d like to get to know better, or find a snake in the flower bed.  Protecting wildlife and your feline friend go hand-in-hand. 

 

Out and About 

  • - Does your dog go with you for exercise while you’re biking or jogging?  Some active pet owners take a water bowl with them, so they can offer a cool drink to their pet, and you can train them to drink directly from the bottle using an adaptor created especially for dogs. 

  • - Going fishing or water skiing?  Make sure you have a life jacket for them, as well as an overboard plan.  If you think Fido would enjoy jumping into the water, maybe you should leave them at home or at the kennel for their safety as well as your own. 

  • - vetSTREET offers some great tips for taking your dog to the beach.  Heat, waves, and hot sand can all play a role in just how much fun everyone will have--or not. 

  • - It’s vacation time, and you’d like to bring your pet with you, so call ahead for information on pet-friendly lodging, and where they can stay for events where pets aren’t welcome. Make sure you have a vehicle safety harness or seat belt for them or their carrier while you’re traveling. 

 

Summertime brings water fun, cookouts, and don’t forget the insects!  Keep your pets safe from biting insects, and be sure they get a flea and tick repellent treatment and heartworm prevention to avoid any diseases these insects can cause down the road. Pets need to be kept as safe as small children, so take preventive measures so you can have a fun and healthy Summer with the whole family.   

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: Pets Animal Hospital 

Warm Weather Water Savers in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins

Days of lounging by the pool or in a hammock with a good book while the children play in the sprinkler are on the horizon, and you can’t wait to wash the pollen off the car, not to mention the grime from Winter on the car tires.  Spring and Summer is probably when we use more water than other times of the year, and there are ways we can conserve and avoid a high water bill for the next few months. 

 

  • - We shower more in the Summer, so conserve by shortening your shower time by just two minutes, and save 150 gallons of water per month! 

  • - Keeping our landscaping green uses a great deal of water, and if you have a sprinkler system, make sure the timer is set for morning or evening, and that the showers aren’t falling on the driveway.  Pay close attention to the weather, and turn off the timer whenever a good chance of rain is predicted. 

  • - Keep a pitcher filled with water inside the fridge for a thirst quencher instead of running the water from the faucet and waiting for it to get cold. 

  • - Cut your grass on a higher setting, because the longer blades help shade the turf, and in turn, holds water better, so you’ll have to water it less. 

  • - For the garden, landscaping and lawn, use a drip irrigation system instead of sprinklers or hand-watering with the hose.  Water is directed to the roots, where it needs to be. 

  • - When the car needs cleaning, take the bucket and sponge to a car wash instead of washing it at home, and save about one hundred gallons of water!  

  • - Purchase and set up rain barrels under gutter spouts or areas of the house where water runs off the roof.  You can get some very sophisticated barrels with faucet attachments for gravity-watering with the hose, and covers to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. 

  • - Placing a cover on your pool not only helps keep it clean, but it can save the pool water from evaporating.  The Spruce lists several swimming pool water-saving tips. 

  • Instead of washing fresh vegetables from your garden under running water, fill a large bowl with water, and give them a bath.  Once they’re clean, use the leftover water for houseplants or potted plants outside. 

  • - Growing native plants will help cut down on water usage, as they are adapted to your local climate.  Contact your local cooperative extension agent to find out how to plant a native plant garden. 

  • - Place a five-gallon bucket with small holes in the bottom near plants or a tree that need a drink, and fill it with water.  The holes will allow the water to trickle out at a slow pace, and soak the soil, where the water should be, instead of the leaves. 

 

Water conservation isn’t just good for your wallet, it’s good for the environment. If you’re interested in learning more about using less water year round, check out the Water Calculator website to calculate your water footprint, and what you can do to use water more efficiently. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.  

 

Photo credit: segurgent.com​

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Photo of Tucker Robbins Real Estate
Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)