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Cutting the TV Cable!

by Tucker Robbins


With cable and satellite costs rising constantly, many Americans are finding streaming television the way to go, and old school television antennas are taking the place of satellite dishes on rooftops.  Are you thinking about cutting the cord?  Maybe these
 ideas can help you decide: 

 

Wherever there is high-speed internet, there is the ability to use any streaming device or smart tv.  Most are affordable and have a monthly subscription fee. 

 

  • - Smart tv’s come pre-loaded with different streaming service apps.  Many need subscriptions, and most offer a free trial period to help you determine if their service is right for you. 

  • - Devices that plug into televisions from different streaming companies can be purchased, and for small monthly fees, you can stream movies, and many television series.  PCMag has the most recent information on these plug-ins, as well as cost, features, and reviews of each. 

  • - Major satellite companies are finally offering streaming services at the fraction of the cost of their monthly fees, and you can cancel at any time without fear of being charged for cancelling a contract.  Similar to their satellite services, you choose what channel package that fits your viewing choices, as well as your budget. 

  • - Are you afraid you’ll miss your favorite sports contests if you cut the cord? Don’t worry--you can stream live sports events, and GroundedReason tells you how. 

 

Cancelling your cable or satellite service may have you worried that you won’t be able to watch the major networks.  If you live in a large area with nearby local stations, (within twenty miles), an indoor antenna will work fine.  But for better reception, as well as more channels, you’ll need an outdoor antenna.  Read on to learn how this old-fashioned idea is more modern than ever: 

 

  • - Indoor antennas can be places almost anywhere in your home for good reception, or use a flat one that can be mounted on or near a window, out of direct sunlight. 

  • - Outdoor antennas still look like something from outer space, but are smaller and come with wireless remotes so you can control the direction that you need it to be pointing to pick up different channels. 

  • TechHive offers some advice on choosing an outdoor antenna, as well as their top picks. 

  • Installing an outdoor antenna can be done by anyone with a few tools, who is comfortable with climbing a ladder to get to the roof, making sure the antenna is grounded, and who has a few hours to devote to the job.  Otherwise, a good handyman with antenna installation experience should be hired for the job. 

 

If saving money is on your agenda, then choosing to watch television and movies with streaming services and antenna tv is one way to put money back into your pocket.  Not only will you no longer be paying for channels you never watch, you will be in control of what you watch, and how much you’ll pay.


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

Photo credit: wgno.com

Before You List Your New Castle County DE Home!

by Tucker Robbins


It’s time to get ready to put your home on the market, and there are some things to think about before you have it listed.  There’s work to be done, and some dos and don’ts that should be taken into consideration if you want your home to sell!
 

 

  • - The exterior of your home is the first thing a potential buyer sees; paint the siding, if necessary, and make sure the roof is in great shape.   

  • - Clean up the yard, front and back, and add some seasonal plantings for color. 

  • - A deep clean inside is necessary.  Wash windows, (inside and out), walls, draperies, scrub the bathroom’s every cranny, and shampoo the carpets. 

  • - If you have pets or a smoker in the home, a professional clean may be necessary, or even a new coat of paint on the walls. Pet odors and cigarette tar stay on everything.  Ask a friend or neighbor to come in and do a smell test and tackle any issues that they share with you. 

  • - Deciding what colors to paint the walls shouldn’t be of your personal taste.  Choosing neutral colors is best, and don’t stop at the living areas walls--paint every room. 

  • - Check all the doorknobs, and if any are sticking or simply not working, replace with similar hardware, or replace all of them.  It’s also important for all the exterior door locks to be in proper working order and replace any that aren’t. 

  • - Major repairs or restoration should be done by a pro or an experienced DIYer.  If you choose not to make a repair that you know is needed, you’ll have to be up front to your agent, make the needed fix is listed in your disclosure, and be ready to lower your selling price. 

  • - Sellers want their home to stand out, but don’t overdo it!  Using generally popular fixtures and finishes is better than going with the latest trend. 

  • - Even if your storage space is limited, make it appear like there’s plenty of room.  Remove seasonal clothing from closets, as well as occasionally used kitchen gadgets from cabinets and counters, and put them in storage with the rest of your things. 

  • - Consider staging, and if you can’t afford to go full scale, find a designer that will use your furniture and decorative pieces to maximize space, as well as have it looking its best. 

 

Lastly, don’t go it alone; find a RealtorⓇ that knows all that you don’t about selling your home.  Using an agent gets your home “out there,” and will make the process easier for you as well as for the buyer.  
 

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

Photo credit: homie.com

Sprucing Up a Small Bathroom!

by Tucker Robbins


The poor, lowly bathroom.  Many of us don’t really know how to decorate it short of hanging a pretty shower curtain, because there’s very little room for improvement. Or so we believe. Let’s look at some ideas to make a small necessary room a more attracti
ve place to visit: 

 

  • - Just because the room is small doesn’t mean the walls have to be white.  Paint in a color you love, bold or pastel, or wallpaper that makes a statement is as appropriate for a small room as a large one. 

  • - A small bathroom means smaller-sized fixtures and splurging on a nice cabinet or sink won’t hurt the pocketbook as much, while adding style. 

  • - Contrasting shower tile is a great way to add color to a bath and gives you a reason to keep the curtain pulled back, opening up the space, and showing off your colorful shower! 

  • - If your small bath or powder room doesn’t have a window, use decorative lighting for your focal point, and add wall sconces on the wall over the toilet, and on either side of the mirror. 

  • - Floor covers, and adhesive tile is simple to install, is available in endless designs and colors, and can be the feature for your small bathroom.   

  • - When new tile, paint, or wallpaper isn’t in the budget, add color through your accessories. Brightly colored curtain or shade, rug, and artwork can make the room. 

  • - Since most small bathrooms don’t have a lot of storage, you have to be creative and practical, or use functional decor.  Check out these bathroom storage ideas from Good Housekeeping. 

  • - Weekend warriors or those who are confident enough in their skill level can create recessed shelving with this how-to from DIY Network.  If you like the idea but lack the skills, call a reputable carpenter to handle this small job. 

  • - Large mirrors aren’t just for large bathrooms; using them in your small bathroom helps bring in the light, making the room appear larger. 

  • - Keep the less-is-more attitude when adding things to a small bathroom; a small plant, soap, and hand towel are all you need on the counter. 

 

Not only can you make your little bathroom stylish, you can cut down on clutter and keep it organized for smoother mornings or guest use.  Don’t think of this project as a challenge, look for inspiration, and it may end up becoming your favorite retreat!


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

Photo credit: mileyphotos.org

Terms First-Time Home Buyers Need to Know!

by Tucker Robbins


The time has come to begin the steps of buying your first home and looking around the internet and other real estate-related media, you’re finding there’s a lot more to know than finding a house, getting a loan, and signing papers.  There are some key wor
ds that can be unfamiliar to a first-time home buyer, so familiarize yourself with these lesser-known terms so you’ll have fewer questions and stumbles along the way: 

 

  • - In order to be certain that the home is worth the amount of the loan, there will be a home appraisal performed by an unbiased inspector of the lender’s choosing. 

  • - At the final paper-signing, the buyer is required to pay closing costs, which normally include attorney fees, surveyors, inspections, and title insurance, among other things.  Be prepared to have 2-5 percent of the purchase price for closing costs. 

  • - If you’d like to pay less interest over the time of your loan, you can purchase discount or mortgage points.  To learn more about this option, check out these tips from the Nerd Wallet website. 

  • - Earnest money is money that will be paid to the seller to show good faith of the buyer towards the home purchase.  It will be applied to your down payment. 

  • - When you have funds in escrow, you will have given funds to a third party to hold until they have verified that inspections, disclosures or any disputes have been resolved.  Keeping it in escrow protects your deposit before you sign the final contract to buy your new home. 

  • - Pre-approval is very important and differs from being pre-qualified.  If you’re pre-approved for a loan amount, you have a realistic expectation of what you can buy. 

  • - If your down payment is less than twenty percent of the purchase price, you will pay private mortgage insurance typically until that amount reaches twenty percent of the loan or home value. 

  • - Your lender will require the purchase of title insurance, which protects real estate owners and lenders against any property loss or damage for whatever reason.  Learn more about what title insurance is and what it covers from the CFPB. 
     

There are other terms and abbreviations you may find in your search for a house in their descriptions and about real estate in general that you won’t be familiar with.  Here’s a longer, more comprehensive list from realtor.comⓇ.  The more you know before you get started, the smoother the home-buying process will be!


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

Photo credit: activerain

Buying an Older House in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins


Many people dream of living in an older home, whether it be a 100-year old farmhouse, or a vintage ranch from the 50’s.  There are certain things that should be taken into consideration, good and bad, when that dream starts to become a reality, and you’re 
on the hunt for an old new home.  

 

  • - If the house was built before 1978, make sure the home inspector looks for lead paint and asbestos, as both can be health hazards. 

  • - Have the foundation thoroughly checked if it is original to the house.  Even the most solidly-built houses can have settling, water damage or corrosion. 

  • - Not only are older mechanical systems likely to fail since they’re at the end of their lifespan, they are less energy-efficient.   

  • - Plumbing and electrical systems can be old enough that they need to be replaced; old pipes can affect water quality and worn out wiring can be a fire hazard. 

  • - Unsafe features that may be charming may not be up to current code.  Check for steep stairs, non-working fireplaces, and laundry chutes, especially if you have younger children. 

 

While all those things are expensive solutions, there are some things that you can’t get with a newer home: 

  • - Older homes are usually in established locations, and are in good school districts, as well as being close to shopping and restaurants. 

  • - Houses built before the 1970’s are generally sturdier, simply because the lumber used to build them was made from old growth hardwoods, something that isn’t available today. 

  • - The lots in areas where you find older homes are usually larger, and that may mean more maintenance, but it also means more room for playing, pet exercise, and outdoor entertaining. 

  • - You just don’t get the charm and character in new construction like you do in an older home, even if the styles are similar. 

  • - Prices of older homes are usually lower, unless there is historical significance to the house itself or to the area. 

 

Do your research, list the pros and cons as they pertain to your life.  No matter what age house you finally decide to buy, the choice should be made because it’s what is best for you and your family. 


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

Photo credit: myoldhouseonline.com

Giving Locally in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins


Making the decision to give charitably is a personal thing, because we normally give to organizations that share our beliefs, or support something close to our hearts.  National charities are great, but most of those larger organizations receive funding fr
om large corporations and very wealthy philanthropists.  Have you ever thought about local non-profits that may need your help?  

 

  • - Some veterinarians have funds set aside specifically to assist pet owners who can’t always afford care for their pets. Most accept donations, and this would be a great way for pet-lovers to give to other pets in their community, just in a different way. 

  • - Speaking of pets, most shelters need assistance with everyday things like food, toys, litter and bedding, and will gladly accept these items, too.   

  • - Local schools usually don’t have a lot in their sports, clubs, or extracurricular budgets.  Call your local school system office and find out where you can help the most. 

  • - Free housing for cancer patients (like Hope Lodge) and families of sick children (Ronald McDonald House) is another great way to help those who are going through a tough time.  When you donate through the main websites, you can choose where your donation goes. 

  • - Community centers are a great place for people to take classes of all kinds, play sports, or gather as hobby groups.  Get in touch with your local community center director to see if you can donate to a certain program or help get a new program off the ground. 

  • - Organizations that help protect victims of domestic violence is more than most people realize: they help victims relocate and set up new homes. Cash donations are great, but many accept used household items in good condition, diapers, personal hygiene products, and even gift cards to help their residents have a night out. 

  • - Food pantries and soup kitchens can always use monetary donations besides shelf-stable food items--people are hungry year-round, not just during the holidays. 

  • - Local theater groups are on very tight budgets--they gladly accept donations and volunteers! 

  • - Orphanages are commonly called “children’s homes,” and you may have one in your area and not realize it.  If you find one locally, give them a call and see what they need.   

  • - Government-funded senior centers are great places for those in the retired community to gather and can always use extra for programs that enhance the lives of those who are on fixed incomes. 

 

If you can’t afford a donation once a year, set up a monthly donation program for yourself, choose wisely, and give back to your community.  We all want to live in a happy place, and when we help our fellow citizens, everybody’s happy.

 

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

Photo credit: http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.com

Choosing a Home Security System for Your New Castle County DE Home!

by Tucker Robbins


The home security business is booming, and with so many different brands, subscriptions, and DIY systems, it’s hard to decide what’s right for you and your home.  Let’s take some confusion out of the process with these tips and suggestions:
 

 

  • - First, decide on whether you need round-the-clock monitoring, or if you want to keep an eye on things yourself using your smart phone. 

  • - Major strides have been made over the past few years with third-party monitoring systems, and many companies offer apps for your phone so that you, as well as the company, can watch over things. 

  • - Most monitoring companies offer a free trial period as well, some up to 30 days.  If you’re not happy, you don’t have to commit to their service and worry about extra fees if you cancel before the trial period is up.  Ask before you commit. 

  • If you’re a renter, and worry about the permanent installation, most companies are offering wireless sensors and cameras that can be moved as you move. 

  • - For the DIYer, you or someone you know should be comfortable with setting up your system, not only the physical installation, but connecting it to your home’s internet or home management system. 

  • Safewise.com ranks their favorite 24-hour, monthly fee-based systems, and gives you all their pros and cons for each company. 

  • - Find the self-monitoring system that will work best for you with safehome.org‘s top systems, as well as their highest-ranked third-party systems. 

  • - Is there an elderly person in your life that lives alone?  Consider purchasing a security system for them, and Safe Home offers their favorites for ease-of-use and cost. 

 

There have been so many improvements to home security systems to accommodate busy families and the ease-of-use for setting and deactivating the alarm system as you come and go, you can find a system that best fits not only your home’s needs, but your family’s needs as well.  If you decide on a third-party service, make sure you budget accordingly, since there is a monthly fee, and usually a cancellation fee if you change your mind mid-contract. 


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

Photo credit: tymhomes.com

Save on Heating Your New Castle County DE Home!

by Tucker Robbins


Turning the heat on is such a simple thing these days, usually the flick of a switch, or just a tap on our thermostats.  Heating costs are something we need to be mindful of, much like our air conditioning in the Summer.  Let’s look at these ten ways we ca
n save while staying warm: 

 

  • - Have your heating unit serviced by a reputable service company.  They can go over your unit thoroughly and make certain it’s ready for Winter. 

  • - Central heating units use the intake filter just like the AC.  Check it monthly and replace when covered with dirt and dust.  Your system will run more efficiently. 

  • - If you use propane, ask your provider if they will lock in the price per gallon if you pay up front for the season.  This can keep you from being hit with a surprise when your tank needs filling, and the price has unexpectedly risen. 

  • - Get an energy audit performed on your home. Find a professional to do this assessment, and you’ll be able to see what you can do to your home to keep the heat in and the cold out. 

  • - Check for cracks around doors and windows, and if possible, fill with spray insulation, which can be purchased by the can at home centers. 

  • - Install a smart or programmable thermostat and use the feature religiously!  There’s no reason to keep the temps inside your home on the tropical level if no one is there.   

  • - When you are home, keep the temps low, and wear layered clothing.  Just turning the thermostat down a few degrees can make a big difference in costs. 

  • - Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you have to turn the ceiling fan off.  Flip the toggle switch on the side so your fan is turning clockwise and keep the fan on low--it pulls the cooler air up and moves the warm air away from the ceiling. 

  • - Use cooking and baking to your advantage:  once the oven is turned off, if it’s safe for other family members, leave the door cracked open and use that heat to warm up the space! 

  • - Upgrading your furnace is a big expense, but if yours is more than fifteen years old, it may save money in the long run to have a new unit installed. 

 

During these cold months, keep a check on elderly family members and neighbors.  If they need some help weatherizing things, organize a day where you and other volunteers can help them save money and stay warm.  If you know of someone who is struggling to pay for heating, contact your local health and human services, as there are programs through power companies and local government agencies to help them pay for their heating source.
 

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

Photo credit: fitnessandwellnessnews.com

About Reverse Mortgages

by Tucker Robbins


Retirement is a time in our lives that we should be looking forward to having time to do what we’ve been wanting to do:  spending time with family and friends, traveling, learning new things, or just enjoying days without a set routine.  Some retirees have
 found that, even though their home is paid for, the financial end of retirement may not be going to smoothly.  Ads for Home Equity Conversion Reverse Mortgage (HECM), or reverse mortgages, fill magazines and daytime television, but there are things you need to know before you’re tempted to go this route to help you meet a financial need.  

 

  • - If you’re considering applying for a reverse mortgage, talk to a financial counselor to see if there’s another route that you can take.  Don’t wait until you’re feeling desperate and signing a contract for something you’re not sure about. 

  • - HECM’s are government insured if you go through an FHA-approved lender.  Find more information from the Housing and Urban Development website. 

  • - Doing research on the internet it great but be wary of every website that is sponsored by a financial-looking institution.  It’s best to call a person in the financial business that you trust to give you correct and accurate information. 

  • - Two things you should consider before you take out a reverse mortgage are whether you plan to live in your home for a long time, or if your spouse or someone else is still living with you in the home.  Investopedia has more information about reverse mortgage requirements that may make it a poor option for you, and why. 

  • - If you are planning on leaving the house to your heirs when you pass away, and you opt for a reverse mortgage, the heirs will be responsible for the paying back of the loan in full or 95% of the balance within six months. 

  • - Property taxes can be a real burden on a retired homeowner and is a reason one would consider a reverse mortgage.  Call your local municipality and find out about any programs that will assist you with paying your taxes without fear of tax liens and foreclosure. 

  • - Consider your health as well.  When you acquire a reverse mortgage, but at some point, become unable to care for yourself and must move in with family or into assisted living for twelve months or more, the loan will have to be repaid. 

 

The Federal Trade Commission has plenty of information and links to non-biased websites for more information, to help you find a government-approved housing counseling agent, and information from AARP.  Making the decision to get a reverse mortgage isn’t one to make without a great deal of considering other options to help you through a tough time.  

 

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

Photo credit: EInsurance

What Shouldn't Be In Your Garage

by Tucker Robbins


Our garages aren’t serving their original purpose these days--very few Americans use their cars specifically for parking their cars.  We use them for storage, however, and while it makes sense to stash things in there, out of the way and seen only when we 
have to go in the garage, it’s still more convenient to get there than it is the attic.  But as sensible as it may seem, there are some items that shouldn’t be kept in the garage. 

 

  • - Wooden furniture should be kept somewhere that’s protected from temperature changes and humidity.  Unless your garage is climate-controlled, keep it in a spare room inside the house, or give it away. 

  • - Propane tanks should be stored outside, on a flat surface, away from anything that can spark.  If you have tanks inside your garage, and the valve begins to leak, it can be deathly.    

  • - Work cloths that have oily residue on them should be treated with great care, as they can spontaneously combust. The Family Handyman suggests that oily rags should be air-dried and stored inside a metal container. 

  • - Firewood is an attractant for pests, and as convenient as it may be to keep it close by in the garage, it’s best to keep most of it at least twenty feet from the house.  Bring in only what you’ll need for a day. 

  • - Paint is highly flammable, and can be rendered useless in a garage, where temperatures can be extreme.  Check for manufacturer's recommended temperatures on the can, and store accordingly. 

  • - Canned food should be stored at room temperature, so if you find your pantry overflowing, donate extra to a food pantry.  Keeping it in fluctuating temperatures can cause spoilage, or freezing and thawing could affect the quality of the food. 

  • - If you have a second refrigerator in your garage, it’s wonderful for extra food storage.  However, a fridge that isn’t manufactured to stand extreme temperatures can fail, leaving you with a mess and ruined food.  Garage kits for refrigerators can be found at hardware stores and online, and will make your extra storage more efficient. 

 

Cleaning out the garage can be a monumental task, but if you have any of these items stored there, you need to get them out and stored properly.  Keeping your home and family safe should be the highest priority, and no amount of hard work is worth the risk of losing either.

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

Photo credit: napomichigan.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)