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How-To Tuesday: Stain an Interior Concrete Floor

So you want to get rid of your old, worn-out, wall-to-wall carpeting. Good choice! But what are you going to do next? Hardwood floors can be expensive and are sometimes a pain to maintain. Laminate flooring is the next best thing, but maybe you’re just not into it. Tile can take forever to install and isn’t doesn’t exactly create a warm vibe in living rooms and bedrooms. So what else is there? How about…nothing? That’s right—there’s nothing to say you absolutely must replace your carpets with another type of floor covering. Why not just leave the concrete subfloor bare? Concrete floors have become very popular in homes everywhere. They’re low-maintenance, highly customizable, and can work with pretty much any style of decor. The only problem is that “as is,” bare concrete isn’t all that nice to look at. Luckily, staining concrete floors is a relatively easy process, and we’re here to tell you how to do it!

1. Decide what type of stain you want to use: acid-based or water-based.

Water-Based Stains

You can get almost any color with water-based stains, and since they don’t interact with the concrete like acid-based stains do, the color will stay consistent. Water-based stains are easier to apply and clean up, and they’re not toxic. The stain adheres pretty quickly, so if you make a mistake it can be challenging to fix. There are certain situations that dictate a need to use a water-based stain instead of acid-based:

*There are stains like oil or grease that you can’t remove.

*The concrete has already been cleaned with acid.

*The concrete was sealed during installation. The sealer must be removed before staining.

Acid-Based Stains

Your color choices will be more limited with acid-based stains. They typically come in earth tones and are translucent, allowing variations in the concrete to show through. In fact, acid-based stains often take on a more natural look that mimics wood or stone. Acid-based stains usually last longer than water-based stains and won’t fade, peel, or chip. This makes acid-based the best choice for high-traffic areas.

2. Gather your tools and materials.

For this project you will need:

Airless Paint Sprayer

Mop

Paint Roller and Extension Pole

Painter’s Tape

Plastic Sheeting

Respirator

Safety Glasses

Sander

Shop Vacuum

Work Gloves

Masonry Sealer

Concrete Stain

Degreaser

Floor Cleaner

Liquid Wax

3. Prep your work area.

Some prep work is required to ensure that you get the best coverage possible from your concrete stain. Remove all furniture, rugs, and accessories from the room, and clean the concrete thoroughly with a regular floor cleaner. You may need to use degreasers, paint remover, or mastic remover if needed. Take artwork and mirrors off the walls just in case. It’s also a good idea to remove baseboards.

4. Sand the surface.

Using a sander, polish away any rough spots and sand the concrete down to create an even surface. If the concrete you’re staining is new, you can skip this step. (Note, however, that it should be at least one month old before staining.) Use a shop vacuum to clean up the dust and debris from sanding. Next, repair any cracks or pits with concrete sealant and a putty knife.

5. Protect the walls.

Use plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to prevent any stain from getting on the walls. Cover walls from the bottom and up to about two feet.

6. Apply the stain.

Water-Based Stain

  • Test a sample in an inconspicuous area to see how many coats you’ll need to apply for the desired color and effect. Once you’ve figured that out, pour your water-based stain into a handheld airless sprayer. Spray evenly across the floor in a circular motion, being careful not to let the stain puddle in any one area. If it does puddle, just wipe it up with a clean cloth before it dries. Let the first coat dry, then add additional coats as needed.
  • Let the stain dry completely, and wait at least 24 hours before applying the sealer. Once the waiting time is up, use a paint roller with an extension pole to roll the sealant evenly over the floor. Use a synthetic roller for the smoothest application and finish.
  • After the sealant is dry, it’s a good idea to wax the surface. This enhances the color and allows the stain to last longer. If you don’t like a glossy surface, use a wax with a matte finish. Pour liquid wax for residential use into a spray bottle and spray small surfaces at a time. Using a mop with a microfiber pad, spread the sprayed-on wax in a circular motion. Repeat until the room is finished. You’ll need to reapply wax to your concrete floor about once a year, depending on how much traffic the room gets.
  • Allow the floor to dry completely before walking on it or returning baseboards and furniture to the room.

Acid-Based Stain

  • Please be aware that acid-based stain is toxic, so you’ll need to use extra care when applying it. Use protective eyewear, clothing, and footwear as well as a respirator. Always mix the stain outdoors, and make sure there’s plenty of ventilation in the room while you stain the floors.
  • Again, test a small, inconspicuous area to determine how many coats you’ll need. Then pour the stain into a handheld airless sprayer that’s primarily plastic (the acid will corrode any metal parts).
  • Spray the stain evenly over the floor. Have someone follow behind you with a broom working the stain into the floor to help create a more consistent finish. Allow the first coat to dry before applying a second coat.  
  • Once the stain is dry, acid residue must be removed before you can apply the sealer. Create a neutralizer pouring four parts water to one part ammonia into a spray bottle. Spray the floor and allow it to dry, then mop the floor with clean water. Use a shop vacuum to clean up excess water, and allow the floor to dry overnight.
  • After the neutralizer has dried, apply the sealer. Just like with the water-based stain, use a synthetic paint roller with an extension pole to apply the sealant to the floor. Apply two coats. Make sure the floor is completely dry before walking on it or moving furniture and baseboards back into the room.

Enjoy your newly stained concrete floors!

House Hunting Deal Breakers

Everyone has that certain deal breaker that shuts down a date, a business deal, or a major purchase faster than you can say, “Thank you, next.” House hunting is no different. There are several red flags you should be on the lookout for when searching for your next home. They’re cues that you should either walk away or do some major negotiating and prepare to deal with a hassle. Unless we’re getting a major, can’t-pass-it-up deal on the home, we prefer to chalk the following up as deal breakers and call it a day.

Flood Risk

Purchasing a home in the Lowcountry can come with a threat of flooding. It’s the risk you take on when you buy a home on or near the water. Most real estate agents will be sure to make notes in the listing information if a home is in a flood zone, but double check for yourself at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood map database. You might find yourself paying a hefty premium for flood insurance, which will usually be a requirement if the house is located in a flood plain, not to mention the turmoil of dealing with cleanup and repairs after a flood happens.

Suspicious Odors or Stains

If the first thing you notice when you walk into a house is a foul odor, consider it a huge red flag. A strong pet or cigarette smell might not indicate that there’s something wrong with the house, but it might mean you’ll spend a lot of time and money trying to get rid of the odor. If you get a whiff of a mildewy smell, you should absolutely have a professional take a closer look. Check for water stains on ceilings or around baseboards. Even if there’s not currently a leak in the house, water damage from previous issues could have caused mold or mildew growth.

An Old Heating System

Depending on how well it’s been maintained and the quality of the unit, the average lifespan of a heating system is 15 to 20 years. Ask the owner or real estate agent how old the current system is and inspect it for yourself. Some warning signs are strange noises like banging, grinding or squealing; moisture, cracks, or corrosion on or around the unit; inconsistent temperature; and unreasonable fluctuations in utility bills.

Undisclosed Structural Issues

The law requires home sellers to disclose any and all known structural issues. Unfortunately, there are some not-so-honest sellers out there who might omit certain known issues and claim ignorance when they pop up on the inspection report. If your home inspector does find one or more big issues that weren’t previously disclosed by the seller, consider it a major red flag. If the seller failed to report an obvious and major structural problem, what else have they not told you about the house?

An Overpriced Property

Even if the property you’re considering making an offer on has a price that fits your budget, it’s important to ask your Realtor® about the home’s fair market value. No matter how much you fall in love with a certain home, paying more than it’s worth isn’t the smartest move. If the seller insists that the home is worth more than its fair market value and refuses to budge on the listing price, it’s time to walk away.

Below Average School District

Unless you work in the school system or have other means of choosing where your children go to school, a bad school district should be a big-time deal breaker. Finding this information will be up to you as the buyer since agents aren’t supposed to give this sort of information out. They can direct you to websites that will tell you all about school performance, but other than that, you’ll have to do your own research and talk to neighbors. Even if you don’t have children and don’t plan to in the future, be aware that the school district your neighborhood is in can have an impact on the resale value of your home in the future.

A Floor Plan That Doesn’t Work for You

Unless you’re willing to take on a major construction project and invest even more money in a house, consider a floor plan that doesn’t work for you and your family a deal breaker. It’s perfectly fine to look past pretty much any cosmetic issues a house may have, but you should definitely be pickier when it comes to the bones of the house. Your ideal home should have the right number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and enough square footage to fit your family.

 

Friday Five // April 5th, 2019

It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening around the Lowcountry over the weekend. There is so much fun to be had in the greater Charleston area this weekend. Attend a few of Charleston’s most well-known and beloved yearly events, catch a free movie, watch some of the world’s best tennis, and more. Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a safe and happy weekend!

Take the family out on Friday night for Free Movie Night at Charles Towne Landing. Aquaman is the movie of choice for this free event. Bring cash for snacks and drinks if you so desire. The movie will be shown outdoors if the weather permits. In the event of rain, the movie will be shown inside Founders Hall.

Lace up your running shoes and get ready to Get Over It! This Saturday is the 42nd annual Cooper River Bridge Run, one of Charleston’s most popular and beloved events. Run, jog, or walk your way over the Ravenel Bridge in this well known 10K event. Be sure to grab your finisher medal as you cross the finish line, then head to Marion Square for the Finish Festival, featuring entertainment, vendors, food, souvenirs, refreshments, and lots of fun. Then spend your evening at one of the many after parties at participating bars and restaurants around town.

This weekend also marks the 47th Annual Flowertown Festival, the Summerville YMCA’s premiere fundraiser founded in 1972 to support health and wellness programs at the Y. Every spring, thousands of visitors and residents flock to Summerville to take in the festival, complete with gorgeous pink azaleas, purple wisteria, and delicate white dogwoods; delicious local foods; arts and crafts vendors; and good old southern hospitality. Enjoy over 200 jury-selected artists from all over the country, yummy foods from local restaurants at The Taste, fun activities and rides for children at the Children’s Jubilee, Farmer’s Market (Saturday and Sunday only), and Food Truck Friday. Admission and parking for this event are free.

The 28th Annual Lowcountry Cajun Festival takes place this Sunday from 12pm until 6pm at James Island County Park. The Lowcountry Cajun Festival brings Louisiana to the Lowcountry with a full day of Zydeco music, Cajun and Creole foods, kids’ activities, and all around ragin’ Cajun fun. Some of the classics that will be served include alligator, jambalaya, andouille sausage, crawfish, and etouffee. There will also be seafood, Southern barbecue, and other traditional festival foods like hot dogs, snow cones, and funnel cakes. No coolers, outside beverages, or pets are permitted at this event. General admission is $15. Gold Pass members and children 12 and under get in free.

Every spring, the Volvo Car Open welcomes close to 90,000 spectators and more than 100 of the best female athletes to Charleston to compete in the largest women’s-only event in North America. This nine-day event, packed with match-ups that will have you on the edge of your seat to see who will win the fight to the finish, wraps up this weekend. When the final ball is served on Sunday afternoon, a winner will rise from the field and be crowned the 2019 champion. The fun continues off the court with a variety of activities for all ages. From happy hours with live music to a two-day Family Weekend, theme nights, and food trucks the Volvo Car Open is fun for everyone. Visit the link above for more info and to purchase tickets.

 

Who Pays a Real Estate Agent’s Commission?

Have you ever really thought about how real estate agents get paid? Pretty much everyone understands that they work on commission, but do you know exactly whose pocket that commission comes from? If you don’t know, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent survey done by Clever Real Estate, almost half of the population has no idea who actually pays their agent’s commission. The good news is we’re here to clear up any confusion about how commission works in a real estate transaction, including who pays for it and how it gets disbursed.

How Commission Works

When a homeowner wants a real estate agent to help them sell their house, they’ll usually sign a listing agreement with the agent’s brokerage firm. This agreement stipulates details like the listing price and other information about the home as well as the percentage of the sales price that will be paid to the brokerage as a commission. That percentage is commonly in the neighborhood of 6%. That might seem like a lot, but that 6% actually gets divided among a few different parties. The listing brokerage offers a split of the commission—usually half, so 3% in this case—to the agent that finds a buyer for the home. Each agent will have a certain commission split with their respective brokerage as well. The amount the agent gets depends on their contract with their broker. Brand new agents may get as little as 40% or 50% of their agency’s share of the commission. More seasoned agents will have a higher commission split. Some might even get to keep 100% of their share and pay monthly fees to their brokerage. To be clear, the only person who can physically pay a real estate agent is his or her broker. Commission checks are made out to the brokerage firm, which then pays its agents their part of the commission.

Who Pays the Commission?

Since the listing agreement that spells out the agent’s commission is a contract between the seller and his or her broker, the seller is officially the one who is responsible for paying the commission. You might argue that since the commission comes out of the sales price of the home, the buyer is actually paying it. That may be true, but the money actually comes from the proceeds of the sale of the home. Plainly stated, it eats into the seller’s profit. That might not seem all that fair, but the seller will usually take the listing agent’s commission into consideration when they set the listing price for their home.

Can I Save Money By Not Using an Agent?

A report from Porch, a home-improvement networking site, said that a little over 35% of Millennials aren’t using real estate agents. When asked why, 60% of them said they thought it would help them save money. It may seem like we’re being biased when we say this, but it’s really not a good idea to buy or sell a home without the help of a licensed real estate agent. There are so many legalities and negotiation details involved that the general public doesn’t understand. If you try to do it on your own without an agent’s help, you might actually end up spending more in the long run. There’s really no reason a buyer shouldn’t enlist the help of an agent. If the seller is using one, they’re paying the commission no matter what, so the cost will already be built into the listing price. The only difference is they won’t have to share it with another brokerage firm.

 

Buying a Home Soon? Avoid These 5 Things

If you’re planning on buying a home anytime soon, you’re probably already knee-deep in research and advice. We’re sure you have a whole list of what you need to do in order to get pre-approved for a mortgage and find your perfect home. Today, however, we want to talk about five things you shouldn’t do if buying a house is in your foreseeable future.

1. Don’t wait to get organized.

Get a binder or accordion file and start organizing your paperwork now. Get copies of bank statements, credit reports, tax returns, proof of employment, etc. to ensure you have them all if and when you need them. When you meet with your lender, you’ll have it all ready to go.

2. Don’t overspend or take on unexpected debt.

Create a budget and stick to it. Now is the time to trim your spending where you can and pad your bank account. Avoid making any large purchases or take on any unexpected debt. You want to keep your credit report clean and keep balances as low as you can until after closing day. Try finding little ways to cut your spending here and there, like making coffee at home and brown-bagging it for lunch.

3. Don’t forget to monitor your credit score.

You definitely don’t want any surprises cropping up in your credit report when you go to initiate the approval process. There’s no standard for credit scores when it comes to getting approved, but the higher your score, the better your chances are of getting approved and locking in a lower interest rate. Check your annual free credit report or sign up for credit monitoring, available for free through many credit card companies and banks if you already do business with them. If anything looks suspicious, check into it and dispute it if needed. If everything looks legit, keep credit balances low and don’t close any accounts. Lenders need to see that payment history that tells them you’re a responsible spender.

4. Don’t change jobs.

Lenders look at more than just your debt-to-income ratio before approving you for a home loan. They want to see job history and longevity in order to secure their investment. It’s important to show that you have job security and will be able to make your mortgage payments on time each month.

5. Don’t wait to get started.

You might not be ready to buy right away, but don’t wait until you’re ready to pull the trigger to start house-hunting. It usually takes a lot of looking to find the perfect home. Get started now so you can make a solid list of your needs and wants and get to know what’s on the market. This way you won’t be surprised at what you’re able to afford when it’s time to buy. It’s also a good idea to go ahead and hire a Realtor® and get in touch with a lender so you can start getting your ducks in a row.

 

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