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Six Home-Selling Myths

by Scott Darling


When the time comes to sell your home, you get all sorts of advice from friends and family, as well as the internet.  Accepting 
all of that information as fact isn’t a good idea, because following all of this advice may end up costing you money and time. Let’s look at some of the myths you may be taking as truths about selling your home: 

 

  • “My house is worth (much more or less than you thought) according to this website!”  Online estimators are not dependable when it comes to assessing the value of your home.  They can’t see the interiors, the condition of the roof, landscaping--you get the idea.  Your REALTOR® is your best source for setting a value for your property. 
     

  • “This kitchen needs remodeling before anyone will even consider buying this place.”  A thorough cleaning, sprucing up of the cabinets with new paint and hardware and installing an inexpensive backsplash and new faucet can make your kitchen a total selling point.  Spending too much on a complete renovation can cost more if you don’t get your return on investment. 
     

  • “If I overprice the house, then negotiate an offer, the buyer will think they’re getting a steal of a deal!”  In today’s world, most homebuyers have done their research, and may overlook your home simply because of the high asking price.  Have confidence in your agent’s ability to price it right.   
     

  • “Weekends are the only days I can have the house available for viewing.”  Setting limits on when an agent can bring potential buyers to the house is like putting up a Not For Sale sign in your yard. If you want the house to sell, it must be accessible even when it’s not convenient for you. 
     

  • “I’ll wait until I get a few more offers.”  Rejecting the first offer for a wait-and-see can leave your house on the market longer, which can lead to fewer offers.  Buyers will wonder if something is wrong with the house when they see the length of time it’s been for sale, leaving your home overlooked in their house hunting. 
     

  • “Hiring a real estate agent is going to cost too much.”  When you contract with a REALTOR®, you’re getting a professional that knows the market, handles the listing, marketing, showing, knows legal aspects of selling a home, and much more.  Taking the risk of selling your house on your own could cost you much more than an agent’s commission in the end. 

 

Discuss your ideas and fears with your REALTOR® and allow them to guide you through the home-selling process.  Choosing a reputable and knowledgeable agent will help with any concerns you may have, helping you debunk the more common myths about selling a home. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: martinrealestateadvisors.com

Prepping the Fireplace

by Scott Darling


On a cool evening, there’s almost nothing better than sitting by the warmth of a fire with a cup of cocoa.  If you’re a new homeowner who is new to having a fireplace or woodstove, you may be a bit apprehensive about using it.  There are some things you sh
ould know before you fire it up, and this guide will give you the confidence to use this feature during the cold months. 

 

  • - Call a pro to inspect and clean your chimney before using it, especially if this is your first Winter in the house. 
     

  • - Check the damper to be sure it opens and closes properly, and make sure the doors are secure, as well as being certain the glass isn’t loose and has no cracks. 
     

  • - Examine a woodstove’s chimney pipe for any loose sections and clean any accumulated soot or ashes.  The door should open easily, close very tight, and the handle should lock into place once the door is shut. 
     

  • - When purchasing a mat or rug to place in front of the hearth, be certain it’s certified fireproof. 

  • Wood shouldn’t be brought inside until it’s ready for use.  Find out why you should keep it outside and other great tips about storing firewood here. 
     

  • - Gas fireplaces require a little less maintenance, but it’s important to be familiar with the operation.  If you can’t find an owner’s manual for your type of fireplace, see if online editions are available, or call the company to have one mailed to you. 
     

  • - If you see dust and cobwebs, turn off the gas off, and vacuum using the hose attachment. 

  • Ceramic logs or lava rocks inside a gas fireplace may need sprucing up as well. How to Clean Stuff.net guides us through this process in a few simple steps. 
     

  • - Soot can collect on the glass doors, and it’s best to keep them clean.  When the doors are cool, spray them with window cleaner, (have newspaper or old towels under them to catch dripping grime), and use a cleaning brush or crumpled newspaper to remove as much of the soot as possible.  Follow up with a soft cloth dampened with clean warm water to remove any film left behind.   

 

If you’re even the slightest bit unsure about prepping your fireplace, don’t hesitate to call a professional!  Many specialty stores know who you should contact and may even have a technician available.  Not only do you want to stay warm, you want your home safe. 


Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: today.com

Trick-or-Treat Home Safety Tips!

by Scott Darling


It won’t be long before the streets of your neighborhood are filled with children, and some parents, who will be costumed and carrying bags and buckets for Halloween treats!  Since many homeowners don’t regularly use the front entrance to their home, they may 
not think about all the little feet that will be tramping up the path to your door.  Make sure everyone has a safe trip for their candy by following these tips before October 31! 

 

  • - Do your own walk-up to your front door, and examine everything, including the driveway and front steps.  Make sure there are no loose pieces or large cracks that can cause anyone to take a tumble.  Porch railings should be secure. 
     

  • - Yard decor should be fixed securely so the wind can’t blow it over, or curious little hands cannot pull it down. 
     

  • - Battery-operated LED tea lights are inexpensive and much safer to use in place of lighted candles.  Many options are available for LED’s, including a flickering light that is perfect for your jack o’ lantern. 
     

  • - Speaking of lights, make sure that not only is your porch light switched on, but that the path you’ve created is well-lit. 
     

  • - Decor that hangs from the trees is scary and fun, so make certain they are hanging at least ten feet from the walkway, making certain they don’t obstruct anyone’s view. 
     

  • - Take an afternoon close to Halloween to be sure any shrubbery, trees or edging isn’t in the way of where trick-or-treaters must walk.  Inspect for loose branches in nearby trees and remove them. 
     

  • - If you have room in the garage, consider parking the car there.  The folks that are coming and going would likely appreciate the extra room to pass others. 
     

  • - A constantly-ringing doorbell or persistent knocking can cause your pets some distress and a lot of barking.  Confine them to a room, or even better, to their crate.  Check out these other great tips about your pets and Halloween from the ASPCA. 

  •  

​​Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: asecurelife.com

Get Your Kids Involved in DIY Home Projects!

by Scott Darling


Many people assume that children and home projects don’t go together, but why not?  Oh, sure, electric tools and saws don’t necessarily need to be handled by young ones, but there is so much more than can help you with than a major remodel!  
 

 

  • - Start simple:  cleaning is probably the easiest way to begin engaging your children in home-keeping.  Most love to sweep, dust, vacuum and help with dishes. 
     
     

  • - Little ones are naturally curious about what’s outside, so gardening can be a lot of fun, as well as being educational.  Not only can they assist with planting projects, but even preschoolers can be handy with a rake or help with weeding. 
     

  • - When you’ve decided that your walls need new paint, sit down with the color chip cards, and let them help you decide on color.  Painting the sample swatches on the wall is a great way to introduce a paintbrush or roller, and simple techniques. 
     
     

  • - Planning on purchasing a furniture kit?  Let the children help build it; learning how to follow directions that use symbols and handling simple tools is a great start to working those motor skills in a new way. 
     

  • - Any small repair--tightening drawer pulls, replacing a door handle or sink faucet--can easily involve any age child.  Give them an age-appropriate job, such as passing needed tools, shining a flashlight or using simple tools under your watchful eye. 
     

  • - Putting up new curtains or hanging decor on the walls are great ways to teach school-age kids about using a level or measuring tape.  Math skills in DIY?  Absolutely! 
     

  • - Do you perform your car maintenance?  Everyone should know how to check the oil and other fluids, as well as tire pressure.  Showing your children that keeping the family car in good running condition is as necessary as taking care of the house! 

 

Get your family excited about helping, have patience, and keep them safe while you’re working.   You’ll find that while you’re spending time with them, those DIY jobs will start them on a journey of learning how to be a good homeowner and a handy one at that! 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: plumbzebra

Emergency Home Generator Basics

by Scott Darling


Advertisements for full-house generators make you wonder if you really should invest in one, despite
 the high cost.  Having your home in full power during an emergency would be a comfort, but are they worth it?  There are less costly options out there, but only you can decide what’s best for your home and family. 

 

Portable Power 

  • - Portable generators are great for providing electricity to essentials:  lamps, refrigerators, freezers, fans or plug-in heaters. 

  • - Most are fueled by gasoline, and the tank must be filled as it runs, so there is a bit of labor involved.   

  • - The engines on portable generators are noisy (think lawn mower noise).   

  • - Generators that run via a solar panel are available, and the technology is getting better, but the initial cost is higher.  Keep in mind that you’ll save on fuel expenses in the end. 

  • - Prices vary with how many kilowatts you’ll need, and your budget should include enough for appropriate extension cords for each device you plan on connecting to the generator. 

 

Stand-By Energy 

  • - In order to provide power to everything in the house, including HVAC, a stand-by whole house generator is the best choice, as it will be connected to your home’s electrical system. 

  • - A stand-by system can be fueled with natural gas, propane or diesel fuel.  These types of units run more quietly than the portables and are fuel efficient. 

  • - Whole house units will cost the most, as they are ready to go almost the instant you lose utility power, require professional installation, and possibly local permits.   

  • - Installation should be done by a certified electrician, and some offer a package deal that includes the unit and installation in one price. 

 

Whatever type of generator you choose, get the size and type of generator that meets your needs, not exceeds them. There’s no need to waste money!  If you’re unsure of  just how much energy you’ll need, ask-the-electrician.com has some helpful information as well as a sizing  calculator.  Though you’ll only need it during emergencies, you want to know that you’ve made the right choice for your home, your needs, and your wallet. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: Lowes

Get Your Home in a Good Mood!

by Scott Darling


Hopefully, walking in the door of your home after a long day at work starts turning off the stressors of the day so you can recharge for the next.  If there is anything about your house that doesn’t give you a good feeling, it may be time for some redecorating!  Here are 
6 things you can do to create a comfortable atmosphere at home: 

 

  • - An unkempt yard or dirty, cluttered home can keep us feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  Once a room is cleaned, and piles of mail or schoolwork is organized, try to keep it that way.  If yard work is getting you down, find an affordable landscaping company or neighbor to get the grass mowed, leaves raked, or flower beds weeded. 
     

  • - You may not have had time to paint or do small redecorating projects when first purchased the house, and that outdated wallpaper or color is bringing you down. Color influences us, so when you are dreaming of Tiffany blue dining room walls, but yours are hunter green, take a weekend to get it done!  
     

  • - Light is so important to how we feel!  Keep shades and blinds open to allow sunlight to shine in, and that’s free!  Spending a little to improve poor lighting in a room with lamps, sconces and brighter bulbs is a mood-booster, as we are naturally drawn to light.  Add inexpensive battery-operated LED lighting to the underside of kitchen cabinetry, bookshelves and china cabinets. 
     

  • - According to Healthline, plants can boost our mood and provide many other benefits!  Where real plants aren’t practical, faux greenery will do, and it never needs watering. 
     

  • - One thing that can cause issues is keeping something on display that isn’t everyone’s favorite.  If there’s anything in a room that gives anyone a bad feeling or brings up memories they’d rather forget, remove it.   
     

  • - Aromatherapy is certainly a current trend, but scents do affect us in many ways.  There are so many ways to add a pleasant aroma to your home, so choose the most convenient method, along with a couple of different scents you love, and use them.  When you get used to smelling one, change it out with another.   

 

Finally, and most importantly, decorate with items you love.  Home shouldn’t be making you feel stressed, so hanging a piece of art that was a bargain, but you never really liked, isn’t a good bargain.  Walking into your home filled with things that bring you joy or peace--well, there’s no substitute. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: livehappy.com

Allergies and Your Home

by Scott Darling


Allergies are something we normally associate with Springtime and pollen, but our homes and yards are sources for allergies year-round.  We can combat all
 the histamine-producing allergens, and it may take some work, but it can certainly cut back on our suffering. 

 

Inside 

  • - Bedrooms are likely the main culprit of allergies.  Cover mattresses and pillows with dust mite-proof covers.  Wash bedding weekly in the hot water, and the fewer throw pillows and decorative bedding we have, the better. 
     

  • - Obviously, there are allergens in dust, so while you dust, wear a mask, and clean top-to-bottom. 
     

  • - Opt for hard flooring with wool or wool-blend area rugs.  When you must deal with wall-to-wall carpet, vacuum often, and have them steam-cleaned at least twice a year. 
     

  • - Speaking of vacuums, make sure yours has a HEPA filter, and keep the appliance clean. 
     

  • - Start the habit of removing shoes as you come in the door.  Have a pair of indoor-only slip-on shoes to wear around the house.  Having a doormat outside and one inside as people walk in will cut down on pollen and mold being brought inside as well. 
     

  • - Machine washable slipcovers are perfect for upholstery, but on occasion, go over the sofa and any other fabric-covered furniture with the vacuum. 
     

  • - Use bleach or other mold-killers as you clean bathrooms and watch for mold growth anywhere water is used. 
     

Outside 

 

  • - Wear a maskis while mowing--the blades of your mower are stirring up all types of mold spores, and you may blame it on grass, but your allergies could be coming from the mold. 
     

  • - Keeping your grass fertilized will inhibit growth of weeds that can make you sniffle and sneeze. 
     

  • - If you love to garden, but not sure what to plant so you won’t feel miserable while you’re working, check out these tips from HGTV. 
     

  • - That morning walk or jog is great for your general health, but if you must deal with allergies, move your exercise time to evenings when pollen is low. 
     

  • - Shower as soon as you come in, or at least, change clothes that pollen and other allergens cling to. 
     

  • - Wipe the pets down with a damp cloth whenever they come in from outside, as their fur is the perfect place for irritants to hitch a ride. 

 

The best tip is not to allow allergies to control your life.  Talk to your doctor about antihistamines that you can take so you can enjoy the great outdoors and so you won’t feel like you should be cleaning every single day.  Allergies can make life miserable, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 


Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: health.howstuffworks.com

Keeping Cool Without Turning Down the AC

by Scott Darling


Let’s face it:  Heat waves can drain the energy from our bodies, but it can also 
drain the money right out of our bank accounts when the energy bill comes due.  Turning the thermostat down seems logical, but not always the best thing to do to cool the house off.  Here are some practical things we can do to help our AC keep the home comfortable: 

 

  • - Keeping shades drawn in rooms where the sun comes streaming in is a great first defense on staying cool inside.  Doing this simple thing can lower the inside temps 30%! 
     

  • - When you’re away, program the thermostat to 80°, and then down to 75° once you are home.  No need to cool an unoccupied house, and leaving it off completely causes not only heat, but humidity, to build up. If those settings seem warm, give it a week, and you’ll find that your body acclimates to the warmer temperatures! 
     

  • - Utilizing fans is an inexpensive way to help stay cool; your ceiling fan should be turning counterclockwise (find the direction toggle switch near the fan speed chain), and floor fans should blow towards you at a comfortable speed. 
     
     

  • - Planting large shrubbery and plants with heavy foliage on the sunny sides of the house not only makes the landscaping attractive, the plants help block the heat, making the outside cooler, thus, the inside will stay cooler. 
     

  • - Permanent awnings and shutters are easy ways to block sun, as are retractable curtain awnings.  
     

  • - Allowing all interior doors to stay open will help the air circulate fully and helps keep hot spots from forming.  Leave air registers open, even in unoccupied rooms, to avoid putting a strain on ductwork over time. 
     

  • - Using a dehumidifier will, obviously, reduce the moisture in the air, making the house feel cooler. 
     

  • - Time your clothes-drying and dishwashing for nighttime hours and keep the house cooler in the daytime and save on your electric bill. Most energy companies have off-peak consumption hours at night and early mornings. 
     

  • - Cooking will heat up the kitchen, so learn how to cook plan your cooking early or later in the day and make use of a toaster oven creates less heat than turning the oven on. 

 

One of the best things you can do to help your unit running well and keeping things cool is maintenance!  Have a pro come and service it, change filters when they are visibly dirty, make sure the evaporator drain can run freely, and keep the air flowing nicely around the unit.   

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

 

Photo credit: koruarchitects.co.uk

8 Things Chester County PA Homeowners Should NOT Be Doing

by Scott Darling


Homeowners know that to-do lists are almost always too long, but what about don’t-do lists? Whether you’re a first-time
 homeowner or have been in your home for ten years, here are a few things you shouldn’t be doing: 

 

  • - Testing the smoke detectors incorrectly:  sure, the battery needs to be checked, but so does the smoke detection.  Light a match, preferably a kitchen match, and blow it out, holding it next to the detector.  If the alarm sounds, great; if not, replace the battery.  You may need a new smoke alarm. 
     

  • - Using incandescent light bulbs:  LED and fluorescent light bulb technology is getting better aesthetically speaking, so the extra cost to replace your incandescent bulb will make up for itself in the end.  You won’t be buying new ones for at least one year, plus your energy costs will decrease. 
     

  • - Keeping the old thermostat:  replace it with a programmable, or even better, a smart thermostat.  You will notice a difference in your electric bill! 
     

  • - Not checking gutter guards:  gutter guards are great for keeping leaves, larger twigs or pine straw from clogging the gutters, but dirt, seeds, as well as other smaller materials can still get in and cause problems.  Check your gutters at least every six months. 
     

  • - Ignoring your roof:  just because you’re not seeing it up close and personal every day, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need inspecting occasionally.  Learn more about how to be kind to your roof here.
     

  • - Setting the mower to the lowest cut:  cutting your grass too far down can cause it to die.  It will not keep you from mowing less!  Cutting the grass 1-3 inches in length will keep it beautifully green. 
     

  • - Planting trees close to the house:  small trees that can reach thirty feet in height should be planted ten feet or more away from your house, while taller trees need to be at least thirty feet away. 
     

  • - Watering the landscaping in the evening:  your way to relax after a long day may be gardening but giving your plants a drink in the evening can cause mildew and other fungi to grow.   

 

Keeping these don’t-do’s in mind will help you save money, besides keep your home safe and in good living condition!  Also think of it as less to do, thus freeing up your time to enjoy being home with your family. 
 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: desertsunsnm.com

Ideas for Shading Your Outdoor Living Spaces

by Scott Darling


You love your outdoor space, but is the afternoon sun stopping you from using if for more than weekend mornings with a cup of coffee?  Closing in the space may not be in the budget, but there are many ways you can shade the area without putting a hole in y
our wallet! 

 

  • Sail Shades For less than $100, purchase a sail shade, a piece of polyethylene fabric, normally cut into rectangles or triangles and grommeted.  Most come with a good length of rope to anchor it to your roof or attach it to a pole.  It’s practically instant shade, and weather-resistant, so it can be left up all Summer.   
     

  • Cabana A breezy cabana can be made from a simple wooden structure, or even piping!  Check out these ideas from Home Decoration Magazine. 
     

  • Vining Shade Build a vertical trellis wall, making sure it’s facing the direction the sun is shining. Plant fast-growing perennial or evergreen vines and train the plants to grow up the trellis.  The trellis itself will shield your space from the sun, and the plants will help as they grow. 
     

  • Slatted Shade Pergolas are beautiful open structures on their own or covered with trailing plants.  The price tag can be big, depending on how it’s done, but wooden pergola kits are available, as well as metal pergola kits for even less.  These instructions from The Created Home show you how to build a simple attached pergola for about $200. 
     

  • Temporary Shade  Lifehacker has a tutorial for a simple canopy that’s easy to put up, and easy to take down.  
     

  • Living Screen Visit a reputable nursery where you can get advice from a grower about good shade trees to plant as a screen around the perimeter of your patio.  Purchasing 6’-10’ trees may be a bit more expensive, but with the right planting and care, the trees will grow and thrive, providing lush, living shade. 
     

  • Container Shade Bamboo is a hardy plant, and easy to grow in containers. Using several containers together will provide lush greenery for shade or a privacy screen.  Find the best bamboo for screening, as well as what containers are best here. 

 

If building or planting your outdoor canopy isn’t your thing, then an extra-large outdoor umbrella will do the trick.  Many models are available, and have extending possibilities, and can rotate to follow the sun’s path.  No matter what you decide to use, take advantage of your own shady spot to unwind after a busy week, move family meals outside, or just soak in the outdoors. 
 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: amazon.com

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Photo of Scott Darling Real Estate
Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275