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Keeping Your Packages Safe

by Tucker Robbins


With online shopping having become so popular, this time of year brings stories on the news about package thieves, as well as new gadgets to help deter someone from walking away with packages delivered while someone isn’t home.  There are several options we have that can help keep our deliveries secure, as well as help from online retailers.  
 

 

  • - Talk to neighbors that may be home during the days you’re expecting a package, and ask them to be on the lookout for a delivery to your home so they can hold it for you or stash it somewhere out of sight. 

  • - There are simple ways to hide an unattended package: have a large plant to hide boxes behind, or use a lockbox at your doorstep, with key instructions for the carrier in your delivery details. 

  • - Most large retailers will give you a “ship to store” option, and all you have to do is pick it up at the Customer Service desk.   

  • - If your package is coming via USPS, there are several ways to divert package delivery, as well as ask a carrier to leave it somewhere out of sight. 

  • - When you place your order, if you know you’re going to be at work, make sure your boss doesn’t mind if you have your items delivered to your workplace, and use that address for shipping. 

  • - Your local pack-and-ship store will receive deliveries for you for a fee.  

  • - Installing a visible security camera at your front door can deter some thieves, and some cameras come with motion-sensor options to set off a siren or other alert if someone gets too close to your front door. 

  • - Amazon is offering several delivery options:  Amazon LockerKey Smart Lock KitKey In-Car Delivery, and Hub by Amazon. 

  • - UPS offers My Choice to customize your deliveries. For FedEx deliveries, go to their Delivery Manager, create and account, and manage your deliveries. 

 

The best way to prevent “package Grinches” from stealing your deliveries is to be proactive.  Use text message and email alerts, as well as specific delivery company smartphone apps to notify you when a package is left at your door.  

 

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

Photo credit: Best Buy

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

Real Estate Disclosures and You

by Tucker Robbins

Zillow.com defines the term disclosure as “...the buyer’s opportunity to learn as much as they can about the property and the seller’s experience in it.”  In most states, this simply means that the seller must let the buyer know about problems that they are aware of.  Whether you’re selling or buying a house, disclosing issues with the house is an extremely important part of the process.  

 

What Disclosure Means for the Seller 

  • - Your listing agent will provide a form for you to fill out, answering questions with either yes, no or I don’t know about different aspects of the house.  This form should be filled out truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. 

  • - Items that most states ask you to disclose to the buyer:  lead paint or asbestos, previous repairs or additions, mold or water damage, pest issues, drainage problems, foundation cracks, problems with HVAC and other appliances, and if the roof is leaky. 

  • - If you think there might be a problem, say possible mold in the crawlspace, have an inspector come and have a look.  It’s better to be safe than sorry here. 

  • - While you’re going over the disclosure form, if you’re not sure if you should report something, report it anyway.  It’s best to err on the side of caution. 

  • - Have the disclosure ready before you’ve accepted an offer for your own protection. 

  • - Your listing agent will be aware of all government disclosure requirements--federal, state, and local--so be prepared to report all that these laws ask of you. 

 

Disclosure and the Buyer 

  • - Once you receive the disclosure statement, go over it carefully and ask questions if you’re not sure about anything listed, because you must sign the disclosure. 

  • - The extra expense of having an official inspection done on the house is vital to this part of the sale.  Have the disclosure form information with you when you meet the inspector at the house, so you can go over the problem places with a pro. 

  • - In the case of any additions to the home, check the local government building permit and zoning information to make sure the addition was done the legal way by licensed people. 

  • - If you have any issues with the seller’s answers on the disclosure statement, and don’t want to make the repairs, and can’t come to an agreement with the seller, it may be best to walk away and look for another house. 

  • - Once you are satisfied with the disclosure and have the peace of mind that the sale should go through, sign off on the disclosure. 

 

A disclosure should be a seller’s protection plan, and smart sellers will be completely honest, and maybe even over-disclose.  Also, be aware that some states even ask sellers to disclose things like traffic noise, and even paranormal activity!  Your Realtor will know everything you need to provide to buyers, so the sale of your home goes smoothly.

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

Photo credit: davesellsmetrodenver.com

Get These Fall Jobs Done

by Tucker Robbins

The weather is cooler, but the days are still long enough to get some regular Fall maintenance done.  Get your home prepped for cooler weather now so it won’t be a problem later.   
 

  • - Clean gutters before the leaves fall so they won’t get clogged.  Consider installing some gutter protectors so the coming leaf drop won’t cause further problems. 

  • - Raking leaves is a job many don’t care for, but if you do, and plan on burning them, check with your local government offices or HOA guidelines to make certain it’s allowed.  If not, it’s best to bag them for curbside pick-up, or find a gardening neighbor that would appreciate the extra composting material. 

  • - After you’ve mowed and raked one last time, fertilize the lawn.  The roots are still active, and the extra nutrients will help the grass overwinter safely. 

  • - Speaking of using the lawnmower one last time, drain the fuel and oil from gas-powered equipment, and clean them well.  This Old House offers some excellent tips on putting up the lawn mower for Winter. 

  • - Give the roof a good look and replace broken or missing shingles. 

  • - Check windows and doors--inside and out--for drafts and apply weather-stripping or caulking where it’s needed.  Today’s Homeowner has a video that shows us how to apply caulk around our windows. 

  • - Call your HVAC serviceperson, and have the heater checked and serviced, if necessary.  Go ahead and make sure your filters are new--buying them in bulk keeps you from having to remember to get one every couple of months and saves you money. 

  • - If you use wood for heating, hopefully it’s already cut and seasoned.  Store it at least 30 feet from the house, covered, unless you bring it in a few days before you burn it. 

  • - Turn off your sprinkler system timer, shut water off at the main, and drain the system. If you’re not able to drain it yourself, it may be worth the money to hire a pro to blow the pipes out and drain the sprinkler heads. 

 

It may take a couple of weekends to get all of these done, but all are important to do, and hopefully save you from a headache and spending a lot of money later in the Winter.  Some of these chores could be done by a teenager looking to earn a few extra dollars, and they can learn something in the process. You’re never too young to learn about taking care of your home.

 

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

 

Photo credit: perrycarroll.com

National Fire Prevention Month

by Tucker Robbins

It’s the time of year to check not only your battery-operated smoke alarm, but anything you have in your home that could start a fire if not properly used and maintained.  This is also the time to talk with your family about your emergency plan in case of a fire.  These tips will get you started: 

 

  • - Every kitchen should have an easily-accessed fire extinguisher.  If you don’t have one, purchase one, and if your old one hasn’t been serviced recently, call an official inspector to make sure yours is in good working order. 

  • - Smoke alarms are a must!  Older smoke detectors can be sensitive and go off while someone is cooking, and we inadvertently disconnect the battery to stop that, and forget to reconnect them.  - More recently-produced types have a sensitivity button that can reduce that problem for a set period of time and return to normal after the time is up. 

  • - Homes with more than one story should have an escape ladder close to an easily-accessed window on the upper floor.  Safewise.com has a list of their best-rated ladders, and offers tips for choosing the right ladder for your home. 

  • - Don’t overload electrical outlets, and use extension cords only on a temporary basis.  If you need more outlets, call an electrician to install them.  The cost of this greatly outweighs the cost of a fire. 

  • - A visit from an electrician is also warranted if you have outlets that spark when you use them, lights that flicker, or a circuit breaker that trips regularly. 

  • - Clean your dryer’s lint screen after each load, and keep the vent and back of the dryer clean from lint build-up. 

  • - Have chimneys and furnaces checked out before you use them to make sure they’re clean and in good working order.  If you use a wood fireplace, make sure the screen protector has no holes, and use only a flame-retardant rug in front of the hearth. 

  • - While cooking, don’t leave the kitchen, and even though your children may like to help, have their station set up far from any hot items. Keep towels and paper products away from anything hot, and don’t leave cooking oil unattended. 

  • - Although it isn’t very common, lightning can cause a house fire.  Lightning rods may seem like an outdated tool, but they are not only helpful for redirecting lightning and prohibiting a fire, they can save your electronics from lightning damage.  Lovetoknow.com describes several different types of home lightning protection styles, and how they all work. 

 

Most importantly, you need a family fire plan, and everyone should be familiar with this plan.  For tips and a guideline to setting up your own fire escape plan, consult this page from the National Fire Protection Association, where you can find free printable tools to make your planning process go smoothly.  No amount of time taken to put a plan into place and practice is too much when it comes to protecting your home and family from a fire.
 

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

 

Photo credit: servproclifton.com

New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch For September 2018

by Tucker Robbins

New Castle, De Sales Activity


Q2 2016Q3 2016Q4 2016Q1 2017Q2 2017Q3 2017Q4 2017Q1 2018Quarter50100150200

New Castle, De Home Sales Price Trends


Q2 2016Q3 2016Q4 2016Q1 2017Q2 2017Q3 2017Q4 2017Q1 2018Quarter120K140K160K180K200K
 Median      Average
Period Total Sold Average Price Median Price
2018      
JAN-MAR 83 $154,348 $120,000
Total 83 $154,348 $120,000
2017      
OCT-DEC 142 $182,089 $140,650
JUL-SEP 173 $181,614 $150,000
APR-JUN 142 $163,863 $139,950
JAN-MAR 135 $140,735 $124,900
Total 592 $168,148 $139,900
2016      
OCT-DEC 126 $193,530 $158,950
JUL-SEP 187 $188,611 $162,500
APR-JUN 180 $161,890 $137,500

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

Getting the Best Home Inspection in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins

Whether your offer on an older home has been accepted, or you’re buying brand-new construction, it’s highly recommended that you have the house inspected.  Yes, it’s an added expense to the home-buying process, but it could save you money and heartache in the end.  Get the most out of the inspection by following these tips: 

 

  • - Ask your RealtorⓇ for a list of qualified inspectors in the area.  Be sure to check reviews, and ask other recent home buyers for recommendations. 

  • - Call at least three different inspectors for price, experience, and whether your state requires a license and bonding or not, ask about these anyway.  A top certification they could have is one by ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). 

  • - Once you choose an inspector, choose a date for the inspection when you can accompany them.  If they have a problem with you being there, find another inspector. 

  • - Ask the seller if you can go in the house on your own before the official inspection to get an idea of the condition of the property for your own satisfaction.  Popular Mechanics offers a thorough list of things to look for in your new prospective home. 

  • - While you’re in the house, look for cosmetic things like paint and patching that could be covering bigger issues. 

  • - The inspector will have a process of their own, complete with checklist, but make one for yourself so you can have a record of your own for issues they show you as you walk through the house. 

  • - Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the inspection--a reputable inspector welcomes questions, plus, you’re paying them for their knowledge.  Getting answers before you get their final report will help you understand it better. 

  • - If you’re not quite sure of how to change the hot water heater temperature, how to work the circuit breaker box, or where the water shut-off is, the inspector can help you become more familiar and knowledgeable about the house.  Use your smartphone to take photos and video as they give you a how-to lesson, so you’ll have it in case you need it. 

 

Once you get your report, go over it carefully.  If there are major repairs that need to be made, ask the seller to make the repairs or offer you a credit or reduction in selling price.  Being as knowledgeable as you can be during this process can mean more money saved.  Just be sure to hire a good inspector, and stay involved in the process. 

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

Photo credit: drakeshomeins.com 

For Sale and Secure in New Castle County, DE

by Tucker Robbins

Sometimes it’s necessary to leave your old home before it sells, and even if it’s in a safe community, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the home and its components are secure.  Criminals are pretty savvy these days, and you don’t want your home compromised, especially when potential buyers are there for a showing. 

 

  • - First and foremost, make sure all your doors and windows are locked.  Most of those who are looking for easy access will find it.  They don’t care to draw attention to themselves by smashing windows and creating a lot of noise. 

  • - Check with your insurance agent and make sure you’re covered properly for a vacant house. 

  • - Talk to your RealtorⓇ about the lockbox that will be placed on your entryway.  Make certain it’s electronic, because the agent can not only get in without a key, but can keep track of who’s used the lockbox to enter, and when. 

  • - If you don’t already, have motion sensor floodlights installed around the perimeter of your home.  This will help deter anyone who is creeping around after dark. 

  • - Ask a relative, trusted neighbor or hire someone with good references to keep an eye on things, especially if you’ve moved more than a short drive away.   If you have a neighbor whose driveway is close by, ask if they would be willing to use your driveway to park in. 

  • - The landscaping should be maintained to keep any suspicion that you’re not there, and it should be taken care of by a reputable landscaper.  Your RealtorⓇ should be able to help you find someone for this job.   

  • - Secure outdoor components--your light fixtures and even the HVAC unit can be stolen, and it’s not as uncommon as you’d think. The light fixtures can be motion-detection activated, and the HVAC unit circuit box can be locked, and make it more difficult to get to with fencing or a security cage. 

  • - A home security system is now more affordable than ever, and you don’t have to pay a monthly service fee to a company. Do some online research and find a system that connects wirelessly and has a coordinating smartphone app.  You can keep an eye on things yourself, and if there’s anything suspicious, call your contact and ask them to check your house for you.   

 

The cost of keeping your electricity and Wi-Fi connected to the vacant house can’t compare to the peace of mind and protection it can offer while selling your home.  That doesn’t count the money you would save from repairs for damage or stolen items to be replaced.  Protect your investment by protecting your vacant house while it waits for new owners. 

 

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

Photo credit: protecsecuritysystems.com

Selling Your Home vs. Renting in New Castle County, DE

by Tucker Robbins

Accepting a new job, moving closer to aging parents, or looking for a fresh start, you’ve decided to relocate. You haven’t chosen a real estate agent to get your house sold, because you’re considering using your house for extra income as a rental.  There are pros and cons to becoming a landlord, so look through these tips to get you started on making the decision. 

 

  • - You need to first look at the financial aspect of renting your house. 

  • - Landlord’s insurance premiums may cost more than your homeowner’s insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about the differences in these policies. 

  • - Do the math--if you have a loss after all your expenses (insurance, repairs, property taxes, etc.) are deducted from the rental payments, it’s a better idea to sell. 

  • - If the money that a home sale would generate will help you buy a new place, by all means, sell. 

  • - One factor to consider is that if your move is temporary--you know you’ll be returning in a few years, and it may be a good idea to lease while you’re away, so you won’t have to house hunt upon your return. 

  • - Take into consideration that in larger areas, there may be times of a vacancy.  Can you handle the old mortgage and the new?  If not, put the house on the market. 

  • - If there are improvements that need to be done to the home before you can sell it, and you’re not financially able to make them, then renting may be a good option.   

  • - Keep in mind that most tenants will not care for your house like you, and, after moving, it could be at a great cost when you have to make the repairs.   

  • - Things can happen, and you may get tenants that can’t pay the rent on time, or stop paying rent, and you’re stuck with the mortgage payment, as well as having to go through the eviction process.  

  • - Do you really want to become a landlord?  Talk to a few people who are experienced in renting and leasing property, writing down questions to ask, and get their thoughts on the process. Experience is the best teacher. 

 

Renting or leasing your home is a big decision to make, especially if you know you may be coming back.  The stress of renting just might be greater than house-hunting when you move back.  Talk to other property managers in your area and look at your financial information before you make the final choice. When you decide to sell, call a trusted RealtorⓇ. 

 

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

Photo credit: homevestors.com

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.   

 

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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)