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New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch For July 2018

by Tucker Robbins

New Castle County DE active listings are down 23% from last year and did not change from the previous month. The median listing price was just over $270,000 and the median sales price was just over $240,000. Compared to last year, the average days on market is down 14%. The number of units sold decreased 2% year-over-year and increased 15% month-over-month. 

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

 

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

How Long Will Your Home Last?

by Tucker Robbins

Unless you’re buying a newly constructed home, you should be aware in your new abode of the ages of different elements. The National Homebuilders Association conducted a survey of different manufacturers to determine just how long components of a house lasted with normal use.  This information can be a very useful guide to every homeowner: 

 

General House Components 

  • - Masonry, including foundations, chimneys and fireplaces can last over 100 years.  If you live in an older or historic home, pay close attention to and repair damage to mason work, especially if it’s in the foundation. 

  • - A house with good bones can last an indefinite amount of time, which is evident when you tour historic neighborhoods.  The framing and roof trusses of a house can last many years with proper care. 

  • - The lifespan of your roof depends on the material; shingles are made to last 20-30 years, determined by material make-up, and stronger materials such as copper and slate can last up to fifty years. 

  • - Most exteriors, vinyl, wood, stucco, etc., and interior walls that are well-maintained can last the life of the house.  Wooden windows have a life expectancy of 30 years, while aluminum windows will survive 15-20 years. 

  • - Floors are normally made of strong wood or wood composites and should last upwards of fifty years. 

 

Kitchen 

  • - Your cabinetry takes a lot of abuse, but well-constructed cabinets will last fifty years. 

  • - The sink’s lifespan depends on the material, and can last a lifetime.  Faucets, however, will work well for fifteen years or so before needing work or replacement. 

  • - A dishwasher used regularly will function well for about nine years. 

  • - A gas stove seems to last longer than electric ranges, about fifteen years versus thirteen years. 

 

Bathroom 

  • - Toilets, bathtubs and sink are made to last a lifetime, even though some of the working part need work or replacement over that lifetime. 

  • - If your tub is enclosed with shower doors, they should serve you well for twenty years. 

  • - A tub with jets will last at least twenty years, once again, depending on use. 

 

Major Appliances 

  • - The whole-house system you use to heat and cool should give fifteen years of service before needing some attention or replacement parts. 

  • - You can expect your hot water heater to last about ten years, but a tankless heater can last twice that long.   

  • - Most washers and dryers will do your laundry for up to ten years. 

 

There are many more components to your new house, and MetroHome’s website offers the full NAHB survey including doors, paint, and specific types of flooring, among other things.  If you’re not sure of the age of an item in your home, call a trustworthy expert who can inspect and offer some advice.  A well-taken care of home can last many years, and not only maintain its value, but shelter you and yours for a lifetime. 

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

Photo credit: sednainsaat.com

Home Improvements for Seniors in New Castle County, DE

by Tucker Robbins

Whether you are simply making your elderly father’s home a little safer, or if you plan on moving your parents in because then don’t need to be living along anymore, a few changes in the house need to take place.  While every family is unique, most needs of our aging parents are the same.  Let’s see how we can make some small improvements that have big impact on their safety and comfort. 

 

  • - Since it isn’t always possible to add a full “in-law” suite to your home, you may decide to give Mom and Dad the master suite, so they can have their own private bathroom. 

  • - Change out the door knobs to lever-type handles for easier opening for those with arthritis or other small motor skill issues. 

  • - Install grab-bars to the shower, bath and toilet walls, for those who need assistance in moving around in the bathroom.  This will offer some independence for the elderly person who hates to ask for assistance. 

  • - For the wheelchair-bound parent, or one who needs to use a walker, consider adding an accessibility ramp to your most-used entry.  Costs vary on this job, but a contractor that specializes in the construction of a ramp will take care of this job swiftly and efficiently. 

  • - Widening doorways is something you may need to do if you anticipate wheelchair use in your parent’s future.  Enlarging them to 36” is the general width for ease of use. 

  • - The type of flooring in the home can impact whether it’s a fall risk for someone who has trouble getting around.  Consider installing low-pile carpeting, but in areas of hard flooring, where carpet isn’t necessarily an option, secure low-pile area rugs with double-sided carpet tape, or no-slip rug padding. 

  • - Remodeling the bathroom may be an option, and a walk-in or wheelchair-accessible shower with a “curbless” entry is a safe choice.  A built-in shower seat and adjustable showerhead are added benefits. 

  • - Changing faucets in the kitchen and bath with a single-lever handle for ease of use, or even a faucet with a motion sensor or touch off-and-on upgrade. 

  • - Electrical issues to consider:  light switches that can be pressed for turning off and on, electrical outlets placed higher than the standard height, and adding more lighting. 

  • - Privacy may be an issue for a still-independent older person, especially if there are children in the home.  Providing a sound-proof door will cut down on noise when Mom wants to sleep in, or if Dad would like to watch the game without interruption. 

 

Having your parents or grandparents move in is life-changing for everyone in the family home.  AARP offers a guide to multi-generational living, with questions to ask yourself as well as your aging parents before you finalize your decision.  Don’t look at this stage of life as a challenge, but rather a way to be a watchful eye over your parents while they maintain their sense of independence and quality of life. 

 

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

Gardening with Fewer Chemicals

by Tucker Robbins

When it comes to gardening, going organic can be difficult, especially when there are so many manufactured products to keep weeds and insects at bay. It’s not uncommon knowledge that the fewer chemicals we use in our lawns and gardens, the better it is for everyone.  Follow these tried-and-true tips to get you started on a more natural approach to a healthy garden. 

 

  • - Make sure your garden soil is enriched with natural compost, and one way to do that is with grass clippings!  According to Mother Earth News, a mulch of 1”-2” of cut grass can feed your garden for the season.   

  • - Another way to get free compost is saving vegetable scraps from your kitchen. When you’re prepping for dinner, keep the parts you would normally throw away in a small bucket or jar with a lid nearby, and throw it in your compost pile or worm bed. 

  • - Speaking of earthworms:  vermicomposting is one very beneficial thing you can do to improve your soil.  Learn how to have your own worm beds from gardeningknowhow.com.  Kids love this project! 

  • - The little tags in the cell packs of plants aren’t there for nothing.  They have important and necessary planting information on them.  Put your plants in the right place, in the right amount of sun, and it will reward you with good growth. 

  • - When and how you water your garden plays an important part in keeping diseases and pests at bay.  A morning shower with a water hose can rid your plants of nasty aphids.  - Watering your plants in the evenings can cause fungi and mildew to grow, and neither is easy to get rid of once they set in. 

  • - Learn the difference between detrimental and beneficial insects.  We don’t want to be bitten, but many stinging insects are taking care of the bad ones that are eating up our vegetables.  The Sod God offers some excellent information as well as infographics to help you distinguish between the good and the bad. 

  • - Row covers are a great and chemical-free way to keep not only insects away, but veggie-loving birds as well.  As long as they cover your plants completely as they grow, they will provide a barrier between your plants and the bad guys. 

  • - If your plants are being taken over by soft-bodied insects like aphids and whiteflies, make your own insecticidal soap--it’s easy with these instructions from Horticulture magazine. 

 

Whether you’re interested in going completely organic in your gardening, or just trying to cut back on man-made chemical use, it takes knowledge and a little extra work.  Growing a Greener World is an excellent television source for all things natural, and there are many books and magazines on the subject.  Look for sources that have been certified as an organic entity or is written or produced by someone who has been gardening the natural way and has lots of experience.  Reap the rewards of not only a great vegetable harvest, but the rewards of keeping chemicals out of the ground, and our water sources. 

 

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

 

Photo credit: thegreatcourses.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)