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Why Downsizing Isn’t Always Cheaper

There are many reasons someone might want to downsize when buying a new home. Maybe the kids have moved out and you just don’t need as much space. Maybe you want more free time and less yard and home maintenance to worry about. Maybe you’re looking for a smaller mortgage and fewer home-related expenses. If your number one reason for downsizing is to save money, tread carefully. Buying a smaller home doesn’t always mean you’ll have fewer expenses. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that could make your downsizing attempt pricier than you expect.

Higher Taxes

Before you shed your suburban skin and rid yourself of that large house to move to a smaller place in the city, do a little research on property taxes. Sure, you might be able to snag a one-bedroom that’s close to everything for a smaller price than your house in the suburbs. But you could still be looking at a larger payment thanks to higher property tax rates. Make sure those property taxes don’t cancel out any savings you gained on the sale price.

Homeowner’s Insurance

A smaller home doesn’t always necessarily come with a smaller insurance premium. Think about the location you’re moving to and what’s required in the way of insurance. Before you make an offer on a home, check to see if you’ll be required to purchase flood insurance, which can be even more costly than regular homeowner’s insurance depending on your location.

HOA Fees

If you lived in a more rural or exurban area prior to downsizing, you might not be used to paying homeowners association or regime fees. Condos, apartments, and retirement communities are popular choices for downsizing, and they usually come with HOA and/or regime fees that can be pretty hefty at times. Granted, sometimes these fees include things like exterior insurance, trash pickup, certain amenities, and some utilities. But if you’re not used to paying a monthly fee such as this, you’ll need to really look at your budget to see if you can afford it.

New Home Features

Even if you’re moving into a smaller house, if it’s brand new, it probably has a lot more trendy features than your old house did. New building materials and energy-efficient features and appliances can cost a pretty penny, which pushes up the total cost of your home. When you move into a brand new home, you also have to take into consideration the amount of “stuff” you’ll have to buy to get set up. New home buyers often forget to include things like window treatments, rugs, and other decor in their budget.

Moving Out

Don’t forget that you might actually have to spend a good bit to get your old home sold before you can move. Sometimes you don’t realize how much updating a home needs until you go to sell it. If you’re home’s on the older side, you’ll at least need to repaint, make those repairs you’ve been neglecting, and perhaps even switch out carpeting. A few other things will likely show up on the inspection report as well. And don’t forget about the cost of actually moving! If you’re not DIY-ing your move with your own vehicle, you’ll need to pay movers or rent a moving truck. There’s also the cost of packing supplies, the time and effort you have to put into the job, the possibility of renting a storage unit, etc.

Downsizing can be a pretty great feeling, but it might not feel so great to your wallet if you aren’t careful. If your end goal is to save money by downsizing, just be sure to take these factors into consideration before you make a move.

What New-Home Warranties Actually Cover

The prospect of buying a brand new, built-just-for-you home can be pretty exciting. After all, a newly built home is a clean slate just waiting for you to put your touch on it and start making memories. There’s no guesswork about what previous owners along the line might have experienced or what changes and repairs they might have made. Plus, you get that handy dandy builder’s warranty that covers any possible issues you might find with the home, right? Well…maybe. New-home buyers should be aware that builder’s warranties aren’t quite the blanket policy they might seem to be. It’s extremely important to have a chat with your builder about what their new-home warranty actually covers, the extent of their liability, and what happens if you file a claim or a dispute. Every builder is different, and not all warranties are created equal.

A new-home warranty usually lasts from about six months to two years. Some may cover major structural defects for up to ten years. They typically cover the following:

  • Concrete foundations and floors
  • Clapboard and shingles
  • Carpeting
  • Thermal and moisture cover
  • Waterproofing
  • Insulation
  • Roofing and siding
  • Doors and windows
  • Garage doors
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Heating and cooling
  • Septic system

New-home warranties usually don’t cover the following:

  • Household appliances
  • Shrinkage or expansion of the house
  • Shrinkage of joints and minor cracking
  • Insect damage
  • Dampness or condensation caused by inadequate ventilation

To be sure that you’re fully protected, have your real estate agent or a real estate attorney look over the contract and warranty to make sure everything looks legit. You can also protect yourself by having your own home inspector do a thorough evaluation of the home before closing day. If you want to go even further, consider adding a third-party home warranty, which will often cover things that your builder’s warranty won’t, like household appliances. Make sure to research those third-party warranties well, though, and get recommendations from your Realtor®.

How-To Tuesday: Extend the Lifespan of Your Appliances

Home appliances are typically pretty big purchases, which means you expect them to last a long time. Believe it or not, you are a deciding factor when it comes to appliances running smoothly for years on end or going kaput earlier than expected. Below are some tips on what to do and what not to do to extend the life of some major household appliances.

First and foremost, you should always read the owner’s manual that comes with your appliance. While they’re not exactly thrilling reading, owner’s manuals are a wealth of information about how to use, clean, maintain, and repair your appliances.

Refrigerator and Freezer

Your refrigerator is arguably the hardest worker of all the appliances in your home. It runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and when it’s not doing its best work, it can prove to be pretty inconvenient. Help your refrigerator stay healthy by doing things like keeping it clean and changing filters as recommended. One of the easiest ways to extend your fridge’s life is to make sure the condenser coils are clean. Condenser coils may be mounted on the back or the bottom of your fridge. Their job is to help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the sealed system. Simply use a vacuum cleaner or coil brush at least twice a year to get rid of dirt, pet hair, food particles, and other debris that might build up over time. You should also clean the rubber seal on your doors, known as the gasket, periodically to ensure a good seal when the doors are closed. If your fridge is on the old side and the gaskets aren’t sealing the door shut very well, you can replace them fairly easily.

Dishwasher

Even though some dishwasher are advertised as amazing marvels that clean the gunkiest, grossest stuck-on food, you should always give dishes a thorough rinsing before loading them into the dishwasher. Food particles can get stuck in the machine parts and small spaces and cause damage. Be smart about how you load the dishwasher to ensure a good clean and prevent the need to run dishes through again. You should also clean the dishwasher every three to six months. Just run the empty dishwasher with a cup of vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner to remove calcium deposits. Even if you don’t use the dishwasher much, you should still run it every now and then to stave off dry rot, mold, and mildew.

Washing Machine

Many people tend to let laundry pile up and stuff the washer full on laundry day. This is a major no-no if you want the washing machine to last as long as possible. Overloading your washer can damage the machine thanks to the extra weight of wet clothing. It throws things off balance and can cause premature wear to the drum and bearings. Keep wash loads on the smaller side, never filling the washer more than two-thirds full. Additionally, you should never use more laundry detergent than what is recommended. It might sound like more soap would equate to a better clean, but it can actually do the opposite. Too much detergent can cause a buildup of residue that omits an odor and causes machine parts to fail.

Dryer

Dryers can be a huge fire hazard in a home when they aren’t properly maintained. Clean out the dryer’s lint trap after every use. This helps prevent dust, fuzz, and pet hair from getting into the dryer vent. A lint trap that hasn’t been cleared in a while also causes clothes to dry slower, which means the dryer will have to work harder. You should also clean the dryer vent—located on the back of the dryer and connected to the outside by a hose—at least once a year. Do this by unplugging the dryer and using a vent brush to clean the venting system.

Friday Five // November 2nd, 2018

Happy November, everyone! It’s Friday again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events going on throughout the Lowcountry this weekend. Learn through play, celebrate ancient culture, attend a food truck festival, and more! Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend.

Don’t miss the 47th Scottish Games and Highland Gathering at Boone Hall Plantation this Saturday from 9am until 5pm. This is an annual event that features something for everyone: athletics, music, dancing, culture, food, beverages, children’s games, a Border Collie demonstration, and more. Last year, more than 6,000 people from all over the world attended the games. Get there early, and expect to be wildly entertained all day long!

Bring the family out to Marion Square on Saturday for FAM JAM, a signature annual event brought to you by the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Come celebrate community and family togetherness and the power of play along with more than thirty community partners. Through live music, entertainment, and hands-on activities, families are encouraged to move and stretch their bodies, minds, and imaginations. This event takes place from 10am until 2pm and is free to all.

Take a drive out to Johns Island County Park from 11am until 5pm Saturday for Harvest Festival, a fun autumn event for the entire family. The festival will have live music from five local bluegrass bands, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, archery, and more. Enjoy delicious Southern fare like Carolina barbecue, kettle corn, and other delicious festival foods. Then head over to the crafters’ market to get a jump start on your holiday shopping.

Fans of food trucks will love the Charleston Battery Food Truck Festival at MUSC Health Stadium this Sunday from 11am until 6pm. This event will feature lots of local food, drinks, entertainment, and football on the Jumbotron. Food truck vendors include Cory’s Grilled Cheese, Holy City Waffles, Semilla, Holy Rolly Charleston, King of Pops, Greekin’ Out, Happy Thai, Booze Pops, and many, many more! Bring your lawn chairs, tents, blankets, tailgate games, and dogs on leashes, and enjoy a fun afternoon of delicious food and beverages with your nearest and dearest. Oh, and by the way, admission is free!

If you’re looking for a new way to keep (or get) fit, meet people, and learn something new, come out and meet the Charleston Hurling Club at Corrine Jones Park on Sunday morning. The club will host a Hurling 101 clinic for all—men, women, and youth—to learn about the national sport of Ireland. No prior experience or special gear is required. Simply wear athletic attire, bring a pair of running shoes or cleats and some water, and join in the fun! Stick around after the clinic to watch the experienced players battle it out in their Fall Pub League championship match.

Break Up With These Bad Housekeeping Habits Now

Housekeeping is hard, especially when there are things like work, school, family time, and fun to be had. Some people take joy from completing household tasks, but for most of us, housework is a chore. We try to use shortcuts to save time, but sometimes we end up just creating more work for ourselves. In actuality, breaking just a few bad habits can save a lot of time and elbow grease. Here are some bad housekeeping habits to break up with now and help make housework a little easier.

Bad Habit #1: Getting Distracted

The number one issue many people have with cleaning and organization is getting distracted and not finishing the job. If you want to make cleaning your house easier and faster, you need to concentrate on finishing a task before moving on to something else. Let’s say you’re folding laundry, and you realize just how many t-shirts you own. You decide to go to your t-shirt drawer and start purging your collection to create more space. Then you move on to purging the closet, completely forgetting about the mountain of clean, unfolded laundry on the bed. Instead, finish folding and putting away your clothes. Then, if you have the time and motivation afterward, go ahead and do that purge.

Bad Habit #2: Ignoring Papers and Periodicals

Your email inbox probably fills up faster than your actual mailbox,but somehow  junk mail and other papers still have a way of accumulating and taking over counters and tabletops. Bills, school papers, cards, magazines, newspapers…whatever the pile is made up of, it needs to be taken care of. As tempting as it is to just toss it all in the recycle bin, DON’T. You could be throwing away an important document. Instead, set aside a chunk of time to go through your mountain of papers. Make a stack to file, a stack to shred, and a stack to recycle. Designate a line-of-sight spot for all incoming papers. Go through them once a week and shred, file, or toss accordingly.

Bad Habit #3: Post-Shower Pile-Up

Not a fan of scrubbing the bathroom? Neither are we. Hate doing laundry? Us too. Good thing we can break one simple habit to help mitigate the amount of time we spend cleaning the bathroom. After each shower, simply close the shower curtain. This will help it dry faster and discourage mildew growth. Also make sure to hang your wet or damp towel so you can get another use or two out of it before tossing it in the hamper.

Bad Habit #4: Forgetting to Clean Your Cleaning Tools

Washing dishes with a bacteria-riddled sponge. Using a vacuum cleaner that hasn’t been emptied in who knows how long. Washing clothes in a washing machine that has a mildewy odor. They all defeat the purpose of cleaning in the first place. You can’t expect dirty tools to be effective in cleaning up. Be sure to clean or replace them after each use or as needed.

Bad Habit #5: Letting Dirty Dishes Fester

Leaving dirty dishes in the sink creates a veritable buffet for pests, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and a gross odor that wafts throughout your house. In order to break this habit, you’re going to have to create new ones. First, empty the dishwasher every time it’s finished. We’ve all been guilty of using the dishwasher as storage from time to time, but it’s really not a great idea to leave your clean dishes in the warm, moist environment to invite mildew and even bugs. Plus when you have an empty dishwasher just waiting to be filled again, it won’t take any more effort to put your dirty bowl there than it will to put it in the sink.

Bad Habit #6: Stockpiling Dirty Laundry

Laundry day will be so much easier if you don’t allow your hampers and baskets to overflow. Instead of waiting for it to amass so you can do a full load, think about doing smaller loads throughout the week. It might sound like a waste of water and energy to do it this way, but most washers nowadays have settings for smaller, quicker, and more efficient loads of laundry. You’ll be more likely to fold and put away smaller loads of laundry than one giant one on your designated (and dreaded) laundry day.

Bad Habit #7: Disinfectant Wipe Abuse

Disposable disinfecting wipes like are a godsend for those times when you need to do a quick cleanup. What you don’t want to do, however, is use one disinfectant wipe to clean multiple areas. If you use one to wipe down the bathroom counters and then move on to the toilet with the same wipe, all you’re doing is spreading bacteria.

Bad Habit #8: Wearing Shoes in the House

Make a new rule that everyone must remove outside shoes as soon as they step through the front door. It’s easy to forget the amount of germs and bacteria and bits that can amass on the soles of our shoes. After all, how often do we really look at them? Place a basket, bin, or tray inside the front door for collecting shoes. Removing shoes each time you come inside will help save a lot of time and energy spent on vacuuming and mopping floors. (It also helps ensure certain family members and friends don’t put their shoes on the furniture!)

Bad Habit #9: Forgetting to Clean Out the Fridge

We get it. Life’s busy. It’s easy to forget to clear the fridge of old food and drinks. After all, how much time do you spend looking inside your fridge and freezer? Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, it’s time to make a point of cleaning out the refrigerator weekly. Toss any leftovers that haven’t been eaten after a couple of days. Even though it’s refrigerated, food that remains untouched and improperly stored grows mold and bacteria and causes bigger messes than necessary.

Bad Habit #10: Saving the Dusting for Last

Where do you think that dust ends up when you wipe down dirty surfaces? If you think every bit is trapped the cloth or duster you’re using, you’re wrong. Dust particles fall to the floor or float through the air and land on other surfaces you might have already cleaned. So do yourself a favor and clean top to bottom, completing the dusting first. Any dust remnants can be cleaned up when you vacuum or sweep and mop.

Bad Habit #11: Not Making the Bed

It may seem like such a small thing, but making your bed really sets the tone for the day. It can also make the bedroom look cleaner by half with just a few seconds of effort. To make it really easy on yourself, use non-fussy bedding that’s easily pulled up and situated, and keep things like throw pillows and afghans to a minimum.

Bad Habit #12: Skipping the Directions

If you think you can save time by not reading the directions on things like cleaning products, think again. You might actually cause yourself to spend more time cleaning up the mess you made by using a product incorrectly. For instance, some cleaners require a few minutes to sit, soak, and do their thing before you’re supposed to wipe them up. If you spray the cleaner on and get down to business with the scrubbing right away, you’re just creating more work for yourself. If you’d read the instructions, you would’ve known to spray the cleaner on, wait ten minutes, and then wipe it all away with much less effort.

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