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Congratulations on your decision to start a new garden. Regardless of whether you are a novice or seasoned expert, you can enjoy the benefits of a garden with nothing more than a little knowledge, some seeds and the proper tools.

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A pest is not just a word that’s used to describe an annoyance; in fact, it’s also the term given to a destructive animal that destroys crops, food and even livestock. Whether you have a garden that has become a hot spot for neighborhood pests or you simply want to keep them from entering your home, it’s important to keep in mind several do-it-yourself pest control tips.

Spruce Up Your Space

One of the most attractive places for a pest is that which is filled with food. Ants love anything sweet, including sugar, so make sure that any spills are cleaned up completely. It’s equally important to keep your food containers and bags sealed properly to avoid a problem.

Landscape Designs That Pests Hate

If you have weeds in your lawn, remove them to avoid attracting pests. Additionally, pay close attention to the plants and/or flowers that you use in your landscaping as certain types tend to attract pests, while others repel them. For specifics, ask a local gardening professional or a representative from your local home improvement gardening center.

The Buzz On Mosquito Control

Nobody likes mosquitoes, but they are still a part of life and it’s important to deal with them. You may not be able to rid your entire yard of these nuisances, but you can make it a place where they are not welcome. One way of doing this is to remove anything that could result in standing water, which attracts mosquitoes. Remove old flower pots, tires or anything else that could be a place for water to gather. Not only is this a health concern as mosquitoes often carry diseases, but it’s also a good way to clean up the yard.

Home Repair

If you know that pests are getting into your home, the next logical step is to find out how. Once you locate the entry point, repair the area so that it no longer allows for outside intruders to enter your home. If you notice cracks, holes or other needed repairs, make sure that they are corrected to prevent future pests from setting up shop in your space.

Pest Control Products

In some cases, homeowners are forced to deal with pests by using products designed specifically for the purpose of pest control. These products, which are commonly available at any retail and/or home improvement store, should be used as directed in order to prevent harm to yourself, your family and your pets. It’s important to keep all pest control products locked in a cabinet and out of reach of children.

To clean your home is to free it from dirt, pollutants and other elements. Not only that, but cleaning can also translate into organization and proper storage of your possessions and eliminate your home’s clutter. Either way you look at it, cleaning is an important task and, although not the most fun, it can be simplified with a few tips, tricks and a little knowhow.

Roll With It

When storing clothes, roll them instead of folding. This not only prevents fold lines, but also results in your clothing taking up less space. What does this mean for you? Quite simply, you can maximize your storage space and still keep your clothes free of creases.

Stain Removal

If you want to remove stains from countertops, appliances, flooring or other surfaces, consider using baking soda or a vinegar/water combination. Either one of these is less harsh than typical cleaning products and still provides a quick fix for most of your stain removal needs. You may also consider anti-bacterial liquid soap and water for cleaning some surfaces. It’s important to note that you should never submerge any electrical appliance into water. Instead, spot clean it with a cloth.

Categorize & Organize

Before starting to clean, create categories for your clutter. By separating your items by intent, such as keep, donate and discard, you will be able to move through your cleanup quickly and efficiently.

Getting Rid Of Dust

When you clean, you are likely to stir up a little dust here and there. Regardless of how much or how often you clean, dust is a part of life and it’s bound to find its way into a few corners. If you want to reduce the presence of dust in your home, try using a portable air cleaner in the room where you are cleaning.

Cut It Out

Instead of simply tossing out your old bills or credit card offers, shred them with a cross-cut or confetti-cut paper shredder. This will prevent any unscrupulous crook from sifting through your garbage and discovering personal financial information. If you don’t own a paper shredder and don’t have the extra money in your budget to purchase one, simply use a pair of scissors and cut anything with your name, address, social security number or banking information into small unreadable pieces.

Plastic Please . . .

Cleaning leads to tossing those unwanted items away, which means you may have a need for a lot of garbage bags. You can use the plastic bags from your local grocer to line your small wastebaskets. The handles make them easy to retrieve, tie and discard. The next time you are asked if you want paper or plastic, say plastic please.

When it comes to decorating your home, there’s a lot more to consider than simply coordinating your window treatments with your carpet. This is especially true if you have children in the home, which presents a whole new concern for keeping them safe and sound.

Take A Look Around

When you take a quick glance throughout your home, what do you see? Is the home decorated for an adult or a child? If your little one is like most, he/she has a lot of energy and isn’t afraid to use it. To prevent a hard spill, many families replace hardwood or tile flooring with plush carpet or rugs for a little extra padding. If your child stumbles and falls, the extra cushioning will come in handy.

Do you have any furniture with glass inserts or sharp corners, or do you see a lot of breakables throughout the home? If so, it’s time to remove them. You should get rid of any furniture that could be hazardous to your youngster and this includes glass top tables and anything with protruding edges.

Lots Of Locks

When you have children in the home, it’s important that you keep all cleaning products locked away in a cabinet and/or out of reach of your little ones. If possible, consider adding an alarm that will alert you if the cabinet is opened.

Most families have a medicine cabinet, which contains either over-the-counter or prescription medication. This area is a serious concern for children and should be locked and out of their reach. It’s also important that all medications feature a childproof lid for added protection.

If there is an area of your home or a specific room that your child is not permitted in, place a child gate in the doorway to prevent them from sneaking in while you’re not looking. Children are fast, but this is one way to make sure that they are also safe.

Do Not Touch

Children are curious by nature, but there are some common household items that they simply must refrain from touching. These include a fan, paper shredder, space heater, scissors and other sharp objects that could pose a serious risk for your little one. Make sure that these items, along with anything similar, are kept out of reach. All electrical appliances, including hairdryers, styling products and appliances must be stored away from water and out of your child’s reach to prevent injury.

Speaking of which, all electrical outlets should be covered with outlet covers and any small items, including marbles and coins, must be picked up and kept out of your child’s reach. Because children love to see what they can fit into their mouths, it’s important that they not be left alone near these items.

Safety At Play

When your child is outside, make sure that the environment is a safe one. This means that your yard should be completely fenced with a locked gate to prevent him/her from wandering out into the street. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your child, but it’s even better to make sure that he/she is safe if you happen to glance away for a second.

Now that you’ve signed all the paperwork and your loan is approved, it’s time to move in. But wait! Before you put your feet up, there are a few things that you will need in order to make your new house a home.

Locks

Regardless of whether you purchase a newly constructed home or one that was formerly owned by someone else, it’s important that you have the locks changed. Everyone from Realtors and contractors to friends and family of the former owner may have a key, which is why getting new locks should be at the top of your list.

Furnishings

You can’t hang your hat without a hatrack, so don’t forget to add some necessary furnishings. Some homes may include appliances and possibly even some furniture, but most homeowners prefer to decorate their house themselves. After all, someone else’s taste in decor may not necessarily be the same as your own. If you purchase from a furniture store, they will handle the delivery for you. Otherwise, you can hire a moving company.

Appliances & Cookware

Even if your new home is equipped with appliances, you may still need to add a few items into the mix. For instance, a coffee maker, toaster, microwave or blender may be items you want for your kitchen. You will also need flatware, tableware and a quality dish drainer to hold your dishes that require the hand wash method.

Tools

When you move into a new home, there will likely be some things to do that require the use of tools. Whether you need to assemble furniture, a desk for your office or just need to tighten some bolts here and there, a good set of tools is a necessity.

Personal Touches

No home is complete without personal touches that represent the new owner’s taste, so don’t forget to include them on your shopping list. Pictures, paintings, special window dressings, accent pillows, plants, decorative throws, accent rugs and bedding sets will create a custom interior that’s all about you. Other things to consider include portable air cleaners, water filters, an answering machine, wastebaskets and a bathroom plunger.

Outdoor Décor

If you like to entertain, equipping your backyard accordingly is a must. Patio furniture, an outdoor grill, landscaping tools and garden supplies are essential to creating an outdoor atmosphere that your family and friends are sure to love. Speaking of the outdoors, don’t forget to purchase a lawnmower and trimmer unless you live in a subdivision where lawn care is included in the maintenance fees.

The best way to tackle a large list of necessities is to keep a pad of paper nearby and write down each item as you think of it. Think about each area of your new home and do a mental inventory of what is needed. There will always be new items to add to the list, but you will cover the basics with your handy checklist of necessary items for your new home.

 

The Process of Buying Your New Home

Once you’ve made the decision to buy a home, it’s time to start thinking about what comes next. Every buyer needs a checklist that will guide them through the process of searching for the perfect home, evaluating their choices and making a purchase.

Learn The Lingo

When you set out to buy a new home, you will need to familiarize yourself with various real estate terms, conduct research on the market value of homes in the area in which you intend to shop and learn the art of negotiation. This information will help as you browse homes, talk with Smart Homes and get further into the buying process.

Gather all necessary documents

You will need your pay slips, declaration of your employer and your bank statements. You should gather all these documents before you begin looking at homes in order to allow yourself enough time to identify and dispute any inaccuracies in your credit file. When you approach a lender, you will need to make sure that everything is correct and up-to-date.

Get Pre-qualified

Pre-qualification is different than pre-approval in that it gives you a possible price range that you can afford, but does not guarantee you the loan. Pre-qualification is important because it will help you narrow your search to include only homes that you can afford. Knowing what you can pay beforehand will save you both time and disappointment in looking at homes that do not fit your budget.

Speak With Smart Homes

Nobody knows the real estate business like us, so let us help you to find your new home. Based on your specific requirements, Smart Homes can locate a home that will suit you at a price that’s within your budget. When we finds one or more possible candidates, you will be invited to tour the home. At this point, you should take a camera for the purpose of later reviewing each house with visuals instead of relying solely on memory.

Make an Offer

Once you find the perfect home, make an offer that’s less than you are actually willing to pay. This way, the seller can make a counteroffer that would hopefully still be within your budget. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the art of negotiation so that you can learn how to get the best deal without insulting the seller. If you have not yet been pre-approved, make sure that your offer is contingent upon your being able to obtain the necessary financing.

Obtain A Loan

Once you and the seller agree on a purchase price, you may be required to provide an earnest money deposit that will secure the home as you obtain a loan (if applicable). A lender will require a home inspection and appraisal for the property in connection with your loan application. In most cases, you will know within 72 hours whether or not your application is approved, but the actual closing will not occur until the inspection and appraisal are complete.

Get Moving

Now that the papers are signed and you have the keys to your new home, it’s time to get moving – literally. Remember to decorate your new home and add all of those special touches that reflect your personality. After all, a house is only a house until you make it a home.

As the old saying goes, real estate is all about location, location, location. But, there is a lot more to it than just plain geography when it comes to finding your perfect home. There are a lot of things to consider during the search because, for most, a home is the most significant purchase they will ever make.

Choose a Good Area

When searching for your perfect home, the obvious place to start is with the selection of a location. If you have children, you may want to choose a home that is close to their school and is also located in a family-oriented neighborhood. Many people also look for a home close to work. If you are shopping within a specific price range, you can also narrow the choices by finding an area that offers the best value for your investment.

Select a Style

The perfect home for you is one that has all of the elements that you want. Whether it’s a garage, basement, extra bedroom or bath, a large kitchen, open floor plan, choosing the style of home that you want is an important first step in finding the perfect place to hang your hat. You may also want to consider whether you prefer a single-level or two-story home. Many home buyers also factor in floor plans when searching for a house, including those that offer an open and flowing design.

Get Pre-Qualified

Now that you know what you want and where you want it, it’s important to find out how much of a home you can afford. Pre-qualification is not the same as pre-approval. With pre-qualification, your lender will request specific information relating to your income and expenditures and will offer a possible price range for you to keep in mind while shopping. Pre-qualification does not guarantee that you will receive an approval, but it does give you a good indication of how much you can afford based on your current situation.

Talk to Smart Homes

Nobody knows the real estate business like Smart Homes, so let us help you in your search for the perfect home. We can answer questions relating to the neighborhood, recent inspections on a particular home and any needed repairs. Because Smart Homes has access to a number homes, we have the ability to show you various choices within your preferred area and price range.

Ask About Amenities

One of the most significant concerns of any home buyer is what a home has to offer. Utilities, such as water, sewer, cable, phone and electricity are just a few of the things to consider. If the home is in a subdivision that requires the payment of association dues, how will these funds be used? What amenities does the home owner’s association offer? These are all questions to ask us when shopping for the perfect home.

In conclusion, you should know that the search for your perfect home is a journey. It may be either long or short and with or without some bumps along the way, but the greatest satisfaction will be at the journey’s end and your future’s beginning.

Seven Tips For First-Time Home Buyers:

Now that you’ve made the decision to purchase your first home, a hearty congratulations is in order! Becoming a homeowner, especially for the first time, can stir up some feelings of anxiety and excitement. With the knowledge that you gain through individual research and the help of Smart Homes, you will soon begin to feel like a seasoned house hunter.

Tip # 1: Do Your Homework

Did you know that there are a number of incentives available to first-time home buyers? The best way to find out what’s available, in terms of down payment requirements and interest rates, is to do your homework by comparing offerings from various lenders.

Tip # 2: Save Money

Although many loans are geared toward offering lower down payments to first-time home buyers, it’s important to save as much money as possible so that you will have enough to provide an earnest money deposit (if applicable), pay for closing costs and still have the funds to furnish and decorate your new home.

Tip # 3: Get Your Credit Profile in Order

When you apply for a loan, the lender will ask for a copy of your source of income and will use the information to determine your creditworthiness and/or interest rate. This means that you will want to make sure that the information contained in your documents is accurate and up-to-date.

In addition to past credit history, lenders will also look at your current debt ratio in order to determine whether or not you can afford the home. This means that you may want to consider paying down some of your existing credit card debt and avoid taking on any new debt before applying for a mortgage.

Tip # 4: Start Your Search

With the World Wide Web being what it is today, it’s no surprise that many potential home buyers start their search online. A Realtor’s Web site is designed to not only list real estate, but also to educate a buyer as they move through the process of searching for a new home. In addition, the internet offers a way for consumers to browse through color photos and virtual tours, both interior and exterior, along with information pertaining to the homes themselves. The convenience of being able to find a home that you like without having to wait is just one of the many benefits to shopping for a house online. When you are finally ready to meet with a Realtor, you will already have one or more prospects in mind.

Tip # 5: Have Patience

Perhaps you will find the perfect house this week, or maybe it will take a little longer. Some buyers find exactly what they are looking for right away, while others have to do a little more searching to find their dream home. As a first-time home buyer, it’s a good idea to begin the process with an understanding that good things really do come to those who wait. You may see a number of homes, take numerous photos and may even make an offer or two, but patience may very well be the key to finding your new home.

Tip # 6: Take Notes

If you see a lot of homes, it will be impossible to remember the features of each. For this reason, you should consider taking a notebook and writing down each unique or defining aspect that you like or dislike about a particular house. This information, along with any photos that you take, will help you greatly when it’s time to make a choice.

Tip # 7: Don’t Settle

A home is a big investment and it could, quite possibly, be the largest you will ever make. For this reason, along with the fact that you will be living in the home every day, make sure that you get what you want. There could be an instance where you need to make some type of compromise, but you may want to avoid choosing something just because it’s within your price range or you feel as though it’s your only option. New houses are placed on the market every day and, as a buyer, the next one listed may just be your dream home.