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Posted by Heidi Mahoney on 1/22/2018

Many first time home buyers go into the market looking for the home of their dreams. They picture a house filled with their favorite furniture, illuminated by plenty of natural lighting, and highlighted by bright and cheery wall colors. While it's good to have aspirations for your new home, it's also important to remember that the house you're buying is essentially a box. Sure, you'll put plenty of nice things in that box, but ultimately you want to make sure it's a sturdy box that's in good shape before thinking about the contents. When shopping for a new home, here are some things you shouldn't let influence your decision.

Walls and carpets

It can be off-putting when you go and view a home and the walls are covered in antiquated wallpaper or painted a color you can't stomach. It can also be hard to ignore, since the walls make up such a large, visible portion of the house. Instead, try to envision the room with the walls painted the colors you would use. If a home has a carpet that looks straight out of the 70s it can definitely be a distraction and give you trepidations about the house. However, just like walls, this is a relatively simple fix if you have the budget for it. Imagine how the room would look with hardwood floors, tile, or a carpet that's more to your liking.

An unkempt yard

The first thing you see when arriving at a house is the yard and driveway. Maybe the grass hasn't been mown in a while, the mulch is looking faded and there are weeds growing up along the walkway. These are all aesthetic problems that can be easily and, if planned correctly, inexpensively fixed. A good rule is to determine if the parts of the yard you dislike can be cleaned up in a few afternoons or if they would require a lot of time and money.

It feels like someone else's home

Viewing a home can be awkward. If the seller still lives in the home you might feel like you're intruding. In some cases, they could even be at home while you're viewing the house. As you walk through the home, be sure to remind yourself that if you lived here the picture frames would have your family photos in them instead. Similarly, if the seller has (to put it nicely) a "different" taste in decoration it can seem distracting and off putting. Fortunately, they'll have to take all their decorations with them when they move--even that wall mounted deer head in the living room.

Decide based on these factors instead

Now that we've talked about the things to ignore, here are the details you should look for when shopping for a new home.
  • Size. The size of the home, the rooms, the yard, and the driveway will all be a huge factor in your decision.
  • Architecture. Take note of how the home was built and if there are certain architectural aspects that you love or hate.
  • Windows and lighting. Natural lighting is an oft overlooked feature that really enhances the atmosphere of a home.
  • Plumbing and electrical. Make sure you're happy with the condition of the home's HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems because these will be time consuming and expensive upgrades.
  • Kitchen and bathroom features. Look for a home that has the kitchen and bathroom design elements you love, the space you need, and the features you desire (appliances, shower type, sink type, etc.)




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Posted by Heidi Mahoney on 8/28/2017

Behind your doors and windows lies everything you hold dear. Your family, pets, important documents, expensive laptops and televisions, and any number of things rely on the hope that no one will break into your home. In spite of this, many people choose not to take the best safety precautions available, whether it is because they feel safe in their neighborhood or they think they can't afford a security system. As home security technologies advance, homeowners and renters get a growing selection of security systems. Finding a security system that works with your budget while still keeping you safer is possible. However, learning about the various systems and choosing one that works best for your needs is the hard part. In this article, we'll cover the basic types of security systems and what they offer so you can make the best decision for your home and family.

Monitored or unmonitored

One way of dividing up security systems is monitored and unmonitored. Monitored systems depend on landline, cellular, or broadband connection to communicate with the security provider who will call your home and alert authorities in case of a break-in. Unmonitored systems, on the other hand, rely only on alarms such as sirens and flashing lights. Monitored systems that are connected via landline have the disadvantage of being cut or by losing connections due to power outages. Cellular-based systems (a.k.a. wireless monitoring) have the advantage of staying up even if your telephone line is cut. One disadvantage of monitored systems is that they often come with monitoring fees. The disadvantage of unmonitored systems is that it relies on your neighbors to call the police in case of an emergency. The problem with this is that not all neighbors are going to go see if everything is okay until it's potentially too late.

Contracts and Installation

Depending on whether you rent or own your house and how long you plan to stay in your house, you'll want to read over contracts before signing away. If you plan on moving or are only leasing your apartment, it might be a better option to buy a system outright that you can set up yourself at your next home. Systems that rely on technicians for installs may charge you fees for having to relocate or uninstall your system.

Added features

Home security and home automation are two separate industries that have become one due to similarities in the way they function. Many home security companies now offer automation technologies that allow you to control various items in your home remotely. If you can't remember if you locked your door or if you need to unlock it for a house guest, there's no need to leave work--just hit a button on your smart phone to unlock the door. Other systems even allow you to answer your doorbell remotely from your smartphone in the same way that you would have a conversation on your phone. If you are paranoid about checking up on your house, you could go with a system that allows you to view your security cameras live feed right from your phone or computer.   Now that you know the basics of home security systems, go check out some of the top rated providers and compare prices. You'll soon be on your way to making your home an even safer place for you and your family.  





Posted by Heidi Mahoney on 11/21/2016

There's nothing more frustrating than being at a climactic moment in your favorite show on Netflix and suddenly losing internet connection. On my TV, it actually shows my download speed slowly disappearing. 10mbps... 7mbps... 2mbps... flatline. At this point, many people are prone to either throwing their remote across the room or calling their internet provider to complain about horrible service. However, there are some things you can do right in your home that can help you boost your internet speeds.

Diagnosis

Before you start buying new routers or range extenders, you should first get an idea of what your average download speed currently is. There are many free websites out there that can tell you this information, but speedtest.net is one of the veterans in the field that is user-friendly and widely trusted as one of the best. Run the test at different times of the day. See how it's affected by someone else streaming videos on a another device. This will all help provide insight into the issue you're having. If you notice a problem only at certain times of the day, the problem might not be your modem or router, but rather that your internet provider is oversubscribing and getting backed up during internet rush hours. It's also a good idea to change the password on your Wi-Fi network in case you have a neighbor that you're providing free internet too.

Update your hardware

If you're paying $60+ per month on high speed internet but can't ever stream videos there's a problem. Many people assume that paying more for internet automatically means they'll get faster download speeds. If you're using an outdated router, however, it won't matter how much you pay monthly, you're still going to see slow speeds. Check out some of the latest model routers on Amazon or at Best Buy and read the customer reviews. You won't want to buy any routers that are more than a couple years old as Wi-Fi technology progresses somewhat rapidly.

Tweak your router

If you recently purchased a brand new router but aren't getting the results you expected, maybe you need to make some changes to the router itself. Try setting the antennas vertically and placing the router on top of a cabinet in your house for better signal reception. Alternatively, you could look into replacing the antennas on your router for ones that will emit a stronger signal.

Expand your signal

If you live in a large house or often use devices in the basement, far away from your router, you might consider buying a wireless range extender. Extenders come in various shapes and sizes. Some are tiny adapters that stick out of your power outlet, others look just like routers, and others work as a system of small routers that you place around your home to provide blanket internet coverage.

Pretend you're in IT

There might be some changes you can make to your router that will make a huge difference in internet speeds. Sometimes that means updating the firmware of your router, other times it means switching the channel your router is broadcasting on to avoid interference with other routers or wireless systems. To make these internal changes, type in the IP address (usually located somewhere on the bottom or back of your router) into your browser and type in your username and password, then follow instructions for your specific router.




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