Decorating For Fall: The Changes You Want To Make Now

Fall is here, and if you can’t wait to break out your sweaters, boots, and scarves…well, neither can we. When it comes to decorating, there are numerous quick fixes you can do to bring some fall flavor into your home – without turning your entire house into a pumpkin patch. But if that’s your thing, hey, go for it. Pumpkins for everyone!

If you love fall décor and autumn colors as much as we do, you might just want to keep your fall decor all year long! Get some inspiration below.

Hang a wreath

Not only is it welcoming, but it’s also a great opportunity to do a family craft if you don’t want one that’s store bought. House Beautiful has some great wreath ideas here.

Change your pillows

A pillow swap is the easiest change you can make from season to season, and one that takes mere seconds for an updated look. This Sarah Richardson-designed living room blends a more traditional autumn color in the pumpkin-hued pillow with some unexpected choices like the pink floral and burgundy velvet for a distinctive look that can take you all through the year.

 

It might not be cold weather time yet, but bringing in some more substantial textures will get you feeling cozy. Start with a ruddy throw draped over the couch, and another in the master bedroom. “Getting out of bed is already a struggle, but a plush blanket and matching pillows will make you want to hit the snooze button just one more time,” said House Beautiful.

 

Create a centerpiece

A bunch of mini pumpkins, pinecones, or nuts in the shell piled into a hurricane or under a glass cloche make for a festive, elegant presentation, even if you have no plans for company. If you’re planning a party during the fall, check out these centerpiece ideas from Elle Décor.

 

Address the windows

The sheer, gauzy, and/or lightweight curtains that filtered the light so beautifully throughout the spring and summer might need to take a hiatus until next year’ warm-weather seasons. Heavier fabrics look great in the fall and winter, and can also help insulate the house against harsh conditions.

Warm up your tootsies

At the first sign of cooler weather, pack away your bath mats in favor of something luxe and cozy. A fuzzy or furry mat will keep your feet warm and bring in a touch of elegance.

 

Redo your mantle

Box up your beach-themed vignette and bring on the leaves and pinecones. Is it a tad traditional to showcase autumn’s bounty of nature? Sure. But that does little to diminish its charm. Huffington Post has 26 fall mantle ideas here.

Deck out your front porch

Pumpkins and decorative gourds are a given for the front of the house. We buy as many as will fit in the car! But fall is also a great time to take a look at the exterior of your home and see where you might be able to freshen it up. Some turquoise paint on your front door should do the trick!

 

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The 3 Factors That Have the Biggest Impact on Your Home Insurance

Although your homeowner’s insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense at times, it is an invaluable safeguard.

Property and casualty risk research firm ISO — Verisk Analytics states 5.3 percent of all insured homes made a claim in 2014. In addition, the Insurance Information Institute (III) and SNL Financial reported that the incurred losses for homeowner’s insurance in the United States totaled $39.84 billion in 2014. This data indicates that even though only a small percentage of homeowners submit home insurance claims, the overall costs associated with these claims can be substantial.

Clearly, home insurance can make a world of difference for homeowners, but that does not mean you should be forced to break the bank to find the proper coverage.

If you understand the factors that impact your home insurance, you should have no trouble picking up the right coverage at the right price. Ultimately, you’ll be able to insure your home against a wide range of risks for a reasonable cost.

Here’s a closer look at three factors that have the biggest impact on your home insurance.

1. Your Home’s Value

Consider the price of your house as well as the total cost it would take to rebuild your residence as you study home insurance options.

Remember, if your home is damaged or destroyed, you’ll want to be insured for the full cost to replace your residence. In many cases, this cost will exceed the price you paid for your home, so you should purchase a policy that guarantees you’re fully covered against any damage or destruction.

To determine the replacement cost of your home, get an estimate from a reputable builder who can evaluate your current residence and give you an accurate idea of how much it would cost to replace your house. After a builder’s evaluation of your home, you’ll be able to insure your residence accordingly.

2. Your Home’s Location

Location is everything. From the town or city where you live to the number of fire stations near your house, many factors associated with your home’s location can affect your home insurance.

Some of the key factors linked to your home’s location that can impact your home insurance include:

  • Fire Protection — Insurers frequently use Public Protection Classification (PPC) grades to measure the fire protection capability of local fire departments.
  • Wind Storms — III points out that many insurers in coastal states along the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico provide homeowner’s insurance with percentage deductibles for hurricane damage instead of traditional dollar deductibles. This means that some homeowners may end up paying higher deductibles due to wind storm dangers.
  • Crime — Risk is lower for homeowners in low-crime areas. Thus, these homeowners often pay less for home insurance than those who live in high-crime areas.

Performing research about your home’s location is paramount. If you spend some time learning about risks related to your home’s location, you can make sure your home is adequately insured.

 

3. Your Home’s Condition

The age and condition of your home may affect your homeowners insurance, but it is also important to recognize that the design of your residence may impact your home insurance.

For example, a home that features a custom design with many exterior corners may be more expensive to replace than a residence with a simpler design. Therefore, the price to insure the former may be more expensive than the cost to insure the latter.

Insurance companies also consider what’s called “morale hazard” when deciding to offer you coverage or not, which is an increase in the risk of hazards caused by a person’s apathy due to having insurance. Because of this, maintaining the condition of your home can make you more attractive to insurers. If you fail to perform regular home maintenance, your insurer may have the right to void your coverage in the event of damage or destruction to your residence.

The aforementioned factors will likely have the biggest impact on your home insurance. Furthermore, many insurers now review your credit score to perform a predictive analysis of your risk levels.

Your credit score is affected by a number of factors, including:

  • Payment history
  • Credit report inquiries
  • New and existing credit accounts

A higher credit score means a lower risk. However, if you pay your bills on time, avoid excessive credit card debt and understand your credit history, you may be able to lower your home insurance costs.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once a year. Request a copy of your credit report from these bureaus annually and you’ll be able to identify any credit report issues that could affect your home insurance.

Lastly, don’t forget to work with an insurance agent as you explore your home insurance options. These professionals will help you identify risks and guarantee you can protect your home against loss both now and in the future.

 

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Why The “Best Place To Raise A Family” May Be All Wrong For You

For those who are looking to relocate, the idea of starting over in a new city can be exciting. But deciding exactly where to do it isn’t always easy. If there isn’t a job or another factor dictating the “where,” how do you know where to go?

For most people today, a few (hundred) Google searches are part of the process. “Best of” lists can help narrow the field. Search “Best place to live” and you’ll have plenty of reading material. And even more if you get more specific with searches geared toward the “Best place to buy a home,” or the “Best place to find a job,” or the “Best place to retire,” or the “Best place for millennials.”

But, while these lists are certainly helpful, they’re perhaps best thought of as a starting point, not a mandate. Because, while it’s nice that someone else has done some research into the best place to raise kids who are emotionally mature and kind to others (not a real thing, but should be), looking beneath the surface reveals important details that might disqualify a particular city, even though it’s been rated the Most Pet-friendly City or the one where your paycheck will stretch the farthest.

Case in point: Forbes’ brand-new list, America’s Best Cities for Raising a Family. Here’s the full top 10, with Forbes’ mini analysis that breaks out strengths and weaknesses of each of the cities.

  1. Provo, UT (Strengths: low crime, young population, quality of schools, light traffic, homeownership)
  2. Ogden, UT (Strengths: homeownership, low crime, young population, light traffic; Weaknesses: quality of schools)
  3. Oxnard, CA (Strengths: low crime, median income, light traffic; Weaknesses: housing affordability)
  4. Richmond, VA (Weaknesses: quality of schools)
  5. Allentown, PA (Strengths: low crime, homeownership; Weaknesses: quality of schools
  6. Honolulu, HI (Strengths: median income, quality of schools; Weaknesses: homeownership, cost of living)
  7. Harrisburg, PA (Strengths: homeownership, light traffic; Weaknesses: median income)
  8. Bridgeport, CT (Strengths: median income, homeownership; Weaknesses: quality of schools)
  9. San Jose (Strengths: median income, quality of schools; Weaknesses: cost of living, traffic, homeownership
  10. Hartford, CT (Strengths: homeownership, median income)

 

It’s the strengths and weaknesses part that could be concerning for people in need of counsel about where to move their family.

Let’s take No. 1, Provo. You don’t have to be a practicing Mormon to live here, but you’ll be in good company in Provo if you do. It’s nearly 90 percent Mormon, according to Sperling’s Best Places. It’s a college town (BYU), but also a notoriously conservative one that is said to revolve around religion. For many people seeking a more faith-based environment, that’s a blessing (literally). For others, maybe not so much.

 

No. 3 on the list is Oxnard, CA, a bedroom community north of Los Angeles with homes on and near the water that’s known for its strawberry fields, for being the site of the Dallas Cowboys training camp, and for beaches where you can actually spread out a blanket without running into three more. Forbes counts “light traffic” as one of the city’s strengths, and while that may be true in town, the commute to anywhere outside of Ventura County is going to be brutal. Expect to spend HOURS on the 101.

No. 4 Richmond, VA has the the nation’s fourth-hottest housing market in 2016 (behind Denver, Seattle and Dallas-Fort Worth). The city of Richmond credits its “strong and diverse economy” as “the driving force behind Richmond’s high income growth, with government, finance, education and manufacturing.”

What it doesn’t have: good schools. The plight of the city’s educational system has been widely discussed, as Richmond’s public schools have been plagued by funding issues, teacher attrition, and low test scores, with several schools recommended for shuttering. this year because of budget cuts. What that means for homebuyers is that, even if homes are affordable in the city, you probably have to factor in the cost of private school for your kiddos.

No. 6 is Honolulu. In addition to making this list, Honolulu has also been named: America’s most overpriced cities, one of the Most Expensive Cities in the U.S., and America’s Most Expensive City for Coffee Lovers, so if that’s important to you, BEWARE!

 

Many of us have heard – at least anecdotally if we haven’t experienced it firsthand – that Hawaii is expensive. But just how expensive is Honolulu? According to 24/7 Wall St., “The average American household spends $53,495 each year on food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, and other expenses. In Honolulu, Hawaii, prices of goods and services are 23.5% greater than the national average, with prices in the San Jose, California and New York City, New York areas following nearly as high.” Better be making some cash if this Hawaiian city is on your mind.

No. 9 is San Jose, CA. If you’re a techie, it makes sense you’d want to be in this Silicon Valley city. But the cost of housing, which Forbes wisely listed as a weakness of the city, makes it unattainable for many people.

“This week’s new joint analysis by the Point2homes.com and PropertyShark websites points to San Francisco as the costliest housing market in the U.S. and Canada, with a median home price of $1,085,000,” said the San Jose Mercury News. “Manhattan captured the No. 2 position ($1,059,000), while San Jose ($700,000) took the third spot.”

The upshot is this: When looking to relocate, no list or research culled by someone else can make the decision for you. It can introduce you to places you may not have thought of or put cities you may have mulled over but not seriously considered higher up on your radar. But the key to finding the perfect place is to take the lists with a grain of salt. Just because a particular city has enough of the right stuff to be considered a “best place” to live doesn’t make it the best place for you.

 

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10 Fall Home Improvement Tips

Now that summer gear has been stowed away, it’s time to focus on fall home improvement projects. According to Vicki Payne, host of the For Your Home with Vicki Payne television show, autumn is the key time to evaluate your home exterior and prepare it for the harsh winter months ahead.

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“With cooler fall weather comes the realization that your home will soon experience cold, snowy weather,” says Payne, a nationally recognized home improvement expert on the country’s longest running home and garden television show. “To get your house ready, start by giving your exterior a thorough review. Everything should be checked, cleaned up and made ready to handle Mother Nature when she comes blowing in within the next few months.”

Payne recommends this checklist for exterior fall home improvement projects:

Tip #1 – Evaluate your roof. Look for missing or loose shingles, deterioration of asphalt shingles along with mold, algae or splitting of real wood shingles. If the roof is in poor shape, consider upgrading to a synthetic roof, like those from DaVinci Roofscapes®. The composite shake and slate products resist fire, impact, high winds, insects and mold, making them an ideal long-term investment for a home.

Tip #2 – Clean your gutters. Get leaves and gunk out now so that gutters won’t get backed up, clogged and frozen in the winter, causing ice formations. Gutters should be securely attached to the home and sloped for proper drainage. Also check to make sure all downspouts are clean and connected.

Tip #3 – Check your siding and trim. Make sure there are no rotting boards or insect infestations in any wood exterior products. Determine if a new paint job is needed before the winter weather hits. Should these items need replacement, research man-made low-maintenance products, like James Hardie® fiber cement siding or Ply Gem® PVC trim as reliable replacement options for key exterior parts of the home.

Tip #4 – Evaluate the deck. If your deck has seen its last summer party, look at replacing it before the winter with either a Western Red Cedar deck or composite decking from TAMKO®. Both products stand up extremely well to all types of weather and will make you happy to step out onto the deck every time.

Tip #5 – Check the functionality of your garage door. You’re in and out of your garage door many times each day. Make sure it’s functioning properly and has strong air infiltration seals to help keep energy bills down. If you’re ready for a new look or a harder-working garage door, consider the steel and aluminum options from Haas Door.

Tip #6 – Seal up the windows. Make sure your windows have strong weather-stripping in place with energy-efficient glass that is still working. If it’s time to upgrade your windows, investigate those with ENERGY STAR® ratings to help keep your home warmer during the winter months.

Tip #7 – Consider a privacy window upgrade. Tired of closing blinds or shades to gain privacy in your bathroom or bedroom? Think about replacing key windows with decorative glass or acrylic block privacy windows. Available from Hy-Lite in both operable and fixed styles, these windows add a beautiful accent to a room while protecting your privacy.

Tip #8 – Check out your doors. As with windows, your entry doors should have weather stripping that’s not worn out around the entire opening. This helps keep drafty cold air out of your house during winter months.

Tip #9 – Secure or replace railings. Loose or unstable railing systems can be dangerous. Check all balusters, handrails and elements of front and back rail systems to assure they’re functioning properly. If it’s time for a replacement, consider a new look by adding cable rails or glass balustrades from Fortress Railing Products.

Tip #10 – Spend time with your landscaping. Once the leaves have fallen, get out the rakes. Remove dead leaves and underbrush around the house and garden area before the snow falls. Re-mulch key landscaping areas. Trim back trees and bushes away from the house to get your home ready for winter snows.

“Home ownership means continually maintaining the exterior elements of a house,” says Payne. “With its cooler weather, autumn is the ideal time to evaluate, upgrade and improve those key exterior elements to assure your home is ready for the winter months ahead.”

 

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Local Statistics- Boulder, Longmont & Frederick/Firestone

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Don’t Miss These Upcoming Events In Longmont!

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How Much Does Location Really Matter When Buying A Home?

The old saying, “Location, location, location” is more like a mantra when it comes to real estate. Buy in the wrong one and you could be setting yourself up for financial ruin. Or at least an unhappy experience. Right?

In some cases, yes. But also, maybe not so much. Let’s get into it.

The argument for buying in the best location you can afford

You can change your home, adding, updating, and renovating down to the last square foot. What you can’t change is where it’s located. Add in an inherent desire to build equity when you buy a home, and it’s not surprising that real estate experts often recommend buying not only in the best location you can afford, but, if given a choice, buying the worst house in the best neighborhood instead of the other way around.

“A home is an investment – and the best investments have the most room for improvement,” said Realtor.com. “Ideally, you’ll be adding to the home during your ownership, building equity in hopes of a payoff when you (eventually) sell. Brendon DeSimone, author of “Next Generation Real Estate,” told them. “You can add value on your own. If you’re choosing between an awesome house in a crappy location or an awful house in a great location, I would choose the latter.”

 

Multiple recent studies bolstered the idea of buying in the best location you can, but identified new factors for determining location-worthiness. Namely, you need to buy a home with a Starbucks nearby. Or a Target nearby. Ideally, both.

“Among homeowners who sold in 2015, those near a Target saw an average 27 percent increase in home price since they purchased their home, which equates to an average price gain of $65,569,” said the Washington Post.

As for Starbucks, “Between 1997 and 2014, homes within walking distance, or one-quarter mile, of a Starbucks appreciated 96 percent,” said Forbes. “Compared to the national average for the same time period, 65 percent, it seems having a barista close by is a smart real estate move.”

Buying the house, not the neighborhood

Yes, buying in a neighborhood that seems to offer some cushion when it comes to values makes sense. But what if you fall in love with a house that’s not in your preferred neighborhood? What if it’s not in anyone’s preferred neighborhood?

The opportunity to buy a more affordable home can tempt people to take a chance on an iffy location. But how iffy is too iffy? The potential for losing money on a home that may not ever appreciate because of the neighborhood is only the beginning. Buying into an area that has higher crime can be dangerous to more than your finances.

Not sure what you’re getting yourself into? Here are a few ways to investigate the neighborhood:

  • Look at sales data – Beyond the safety issues, you want to know what you’re in for in terms of your investment. Just because a home in a questionable area is priced low doesn’t mean it’s a good value.
  • Check crime records – You’ll obviously want to pay attention to murder and violent crime rates, but also property crimes including break-ins, home robberies, and car thefts.
  • Check the sexual predator registry – That’s a given for any move.
  • Talk to neighbors and area business owners – Sometimes, the people that live and work there can provide the most telling information.
  • Consider the type of businesses in the neighborhood. Remind yourself about the Starbucks and Target value conversation. Those aren’t around? What’s in their place?

The quality of the businesses in the area can be one of the main determining factors when considering a neighborhood. A story from attn: asked the question, “Do Certain Businesses Attract Crime?” Their findings: “The prospect of a new liquor store or marijuana dispensary can spark safety concerns in some neighborhoods. But while the idea that particular businesses are crime magnets holds up in some cases, it’s not always true, and people’s concerns can be based on real evidence or flawed perception.”

 

However, they note that businesses like liquor stores, nightclubs, and pawn shops can be linked to higher crime trends. A careful examination of police reports can either put your mind at ease – or send you in another direction.

Perhaps toward a neighborhood with a strip club. Yes, the establishment once thought to be a neighborhood killer has actually been found to have little or no effect on home values. “A new study found that proximity to strip clubs doesn’t put downward pressure on home prices, said Inman. In addition, “The research undercuts legal arguments that municipalities have used to justify placing zoning restrictions on strip clubs.”

The new study was conducted in Seattle between 2010 and 2014, analyzing more than 300,000 home sales. “The basis for the study was as follows: The relationship between the City of Seattle and local strip clubs is tumultuous, at best. For more than 20 years, the city limited the number of strip clubs in operation using various forms of bans, ordinances and zoning regulations… to prevent a decline in property values due to possible negative externalities, or ‘secondary effects’ generated by the presence of strip clubs in local neighborhoods.”

The upshot: “The study found no empirical evidence that strip clubs drive down home prices, as property values in Seattle neighborhoods near the opening or closing of an establishment did not change in value per the study’s findings.”

 

Buying in a transitional neighborhood

Transitional is code for “might be on its way up” which also translates to “‘might be a great investment.” Many buyers seek out these changing neighborhoods when their ideal neighborhood is out of reach and/or to get more for their money and be on the “ground floor” as the area appreciates.

So how do you know if your neighborhood is transitioning? If they’re building a Whole Foods, a Trader Joes, or a café on the corner, that a good sign. Forbes offered a few more tips:

  • It’s Accessible, with “proximity to public transportation.”
  • “Hot hoods border it – A neighborhood that’s adjacent to a much-desired one is much more likely to gentrify than one that’s surrounded by less prime areas.”
  • Days on market are dropping – Your real estate agent will be able to pull data and show you trends.
  • “It Has an Art Scene. A large population of artists tends to mean galleries and restaurants will soon follow suit – which, in turn, attracts more residents and businesses.”
  • “It Has Historic Architecture – Historically significant styles, in particular, are a good indicator that an area is ready for a renaissance.”
  • Renovations are being made – “One of the most obvious signs of a turnaround neighborhood is homes that are in the process of renovation. Drive around and see if you spot construction trucks and dumpsters—then you know there’s activity in the air.”

 

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