New Home Checklist

1. Always change locks. You don’t know who has a spare set of keys to your new humble abode. Always play it safe and have all of your locks changed.

2. Next, reprogram the garage door opener. When it comes to security, always error on the side of safety. Most remotes have a reset button, but if you need more instructions, the manufacturer of your remote can walk you through the steps for your make and model.

3. Make certain you know where your water shutoffs are located. Find the main water shutoff as well as all outside water spigots and hose-bibs. You may have to ask the previous homeowner if you cannot find them yourself.

4. Know where your main circuit breaker box is located. Check out its accuracy and make sure you fully understand how things are labeled. If it’s a new home and unlabeled, now is a great time to get more closely acquainted and familiar with the circuits and clearly make your own labels.

5. Test the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, even if they were disclosed as being operational. For smoke detectors, you need one in each bedroom and on every floor. Also, place a fire extinguisher on every level and learn how to use it.

6. Figure out a strategy to use if you get locked out of your home. Use a Hide a key or leave a copy with a neighbor. (This is a great time to meet the neighbors and exchange phone numbers.) Share the key solution with family members.

7. Establish a MyLowe’s account. You can store valuable information there, such as paint colors, room sizes, furnace filter sizes, and purchase history. Lowe’s can even send you a reminder to change the furnace filter.

8. Become familiar with your HVAC system to feel confident about using both the furnace and/or air conditioner. If you don’t have instructions? Google it!. Put in a new filter, which should be changed out at minimum quarterly.

Make a list of how many and what type of light bulbs you home uses, then buy energy efficient replacements. Check all outdoor fixtures, also.

10. Replace all toilet seats. Ok, that’s an awkward moment.

11. And like I was trained in Scouts, make an exit plan for emergencies. Always be prepared!

Best return on renovation dollars spent

Remodeling Tips

Remodeling Tips
Getting the most bang for you buck spent is sometimes a challenge. Some may be necessary for your family and lifestyle, and others are driven by the market and consumers. What’s the answer? Here are the top factors to consider from consumer expert Jennifer Openshaw, author or The Millionaire Zone and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Remodeling ROI
The cost vs. value ratio is what can be expected in potential resale return divided by cost of the project. The typical remodeling return on investment (ROI) in the U.S. traditionally averages about 58 cents per dollar spent on the project.

You Best Bets
Kitchen and deck remodels are of the greatest return and highest payoff, but your choice typically depends on your bank account (see chart).

Replace vs. Refresh
Top of the charts finds that replacing a roof or furnace will return up to 10 percent more than the overall average of 58%. Refreshes can actually do even better, earning more than 100 percent. A front door replacement returns more than it costs (see chart). Paint, cabinet makeovers, and hardware upgrades return the most, because they don’t cost much.

Standing Out From The Crowd
Did you ever think that being different might pay off? If yours is the only home in the neighborhood with a full bathroom on the first floor—which is highly desirable with an aging population—you may be able to command a higher resale price.

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