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Season by Season Lawn Maintenance Calendar

4/27/2017

Season-by-Season Lawn Maintenance Calendar

By: Douglas Trattner

Published: April 8, 2013

Tips for a barefoot-worthy lawn that'll ensure your home has uber curb appeal. 

Ahhhh, that sensation of stepping onto a freshly mowed lawn sans footwear. There’s nothing like it.

Here’s how to ensure that grassy feeling from spring to fall.

Early Spring

Like so many maintenance jobs, everything goes smoother -- and you’ll get better results -- with proper preparation. Early spring is the time to get ready for lawn-growing and mowing season.

Sharpen mower blades to ensure clean cuts. A dull blade tears the grass, leaving jagged edges that discolor the lawn and invite pathogens. Sharpen mower blades once each month during grass-cutting season. Have a backup blade (about $20) so that a sharp one is always on hand.

Tune up your mower with a new sparkplug ($3 to $5) and air filter ($5 to $10). Your mower might not need a new sparkplug every season, but changing it is a simple job, and doing it every year ensures you won’t forget the last time you replaced your sparkplug.

Buy fresh gas. Gas that’s been left to sit over the winter can accumulate moisture that harms small engines. This is especially true for fuel containing ethanol, so use regular grades of gasoline. If you need to dump old gasoline, ask your city or county for local disposal sites that take old fuel.

Clean up your lawn. Time to get out the leaf rakes and remove any twigs and leaves that have accumulated over the winter. A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring. Cleaning up old debris clears the way for applying fertilizer and herbicides.

Spring

Depending on your weather, your grass will now start growing in earnest, so be ready for the first cutting. Don’t mow when the grass is wet — you could spread diseases, and wet clippings clog up lawn mowers.

Fertilizing: Both spring and fall are good times to fertilize your lawn. In the northern third of the country, where winters are cold, fertilize in fall — cool weather grasses go dormant over winter and store energy in their roots for use in the spring. For the rest of the country, apply fertilizer just as your grass begins its most active growth. For best results, closely follow the application directions on the product. You’ll spend about $50 to $75 per application for an average 1/4-acre lot.

Aeration: Aerating punches small holes in your lawn so water, fertilizers, and oxygen reach grass roots. Pick a day when the soil is damp but not soaked so the aeration machine can work efficiently.

Pre-emergent herbicides: Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from taking root in your lawn. A soil thermometer is a handy helper; you can pick one up for $10 to $20. When you soil temperature reaches 58 degrees — the temperature at which crabgrass begins to germinate — it’s time to apply the herbicide.

Early Summer

Watch out for grubs: Warm weather means that grub worms, the larvae stage of June, Japanese, and other beetles, start feeding on the tender root systems of lawns. Affected lawns show browning and wilting patches. To be certain that the culprits are grubs, pull back the sod and look for white, C-shaped grubs. If you see more than 10 per square foot, your lawn should be treated with a chemical pesticide. Milky spore is an environmentally friendly way to control some species of grubs. When using insecticides, read and follow all label directions, and water the product into the soil immediately. Cost is around $50 to $75 per application.

Grass-cutting tip: Your grass is starting to grow fast, and you might even be cutting more than once a week to keep up. To keep grass healthy, mow often enough so you’re removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade.

Pesky weeds: Weeds that have escaped an herbicide application should be removed with a garden fork. Use a post-emergent herbicide only if you think the situation is getting out of hand.

Summer

Here’s a good mantra to guide you through the heart of grass-mowing season: The taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering.

With that in mind, here’s how to ensure a healthy, green lawn:

  • Set your mower blade height to 3 inches.
  • Deep and infrequent watering is better for lawns than frequent sprinkles, which promote shallow root growth. In general, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week.

Lawns that receive less than that will likely go dormant. That’s okay, the grass is still alive, but dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month. Your grass will green up again when the weather brings regular rains.

  • To check sprinkler output, scatter some pie tins around the yard to see how much water collects in a specific amount of time. Having a rain gauge ($5 to $20) will help you keep track of how much water the lawn receives naturally.
  • At least once each month, clean underneath your mower to prevent spreading lawn diseases.
  • Although it’s OK to leave grass clippings on the lawn where they can decompose and nourish the soil, remove large clumps. Regularly rake up any leaves, twigs, and debris.

Early Fall

The best time to patch bare or thin spots is when the hot, dry days of summer have given way to cooler temps. Follow these simple steps:

  • Remove any dead grass.
  • Break up the soil with a garden trowel.
  • Add an inch of compost and work it into the soil.
  • Add grass seed that’s designed for shade or full sun, depending. Spread the seed evenly across the bare patch.
  • Use a hard-tooth rake to work the seed into the soil to a depth of about half an inch.
  • Sprinkle grass clippings over the patch to help prevent the soil from drying out.
  • Water the area; you’ll want to keep the patch moist, so lightly water once a day until the seed germinates and the new grass gets about one inch tall.

Fall

Your main job in fall is to keep your lawn free of leaves and other debris. You can use a mulching mower to break up leaves and add the organic matter to your soil, but be sure to clean up any clumps so they don’t kill the grass. In the northern one-third of the country, now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Your grass will store the nutrients in its roots as it goes dormant over the winter, and your lawn will be ready for a jump start when spring warms the ground. This is also the time to clean up your garden.

Safe Halloween Tips

10/16/2015

Halloween is a lot of fun for adults and kids, but nothing ruins the ghoulish night like a trip to the emergency room or a lawsuit. (This is also a good time to make sure your homeowner’s insurance is current!) In that “spirit,” I thought I’d share 11 tips to help you balance spooky and safe this year:

 

  1. Survey all approaches to your home, beginning from the property line. Keep an eye out for hazards, including loose bricks/stones, or holes in the yard.

 

  1. Resist using open flames inside or outside. Use electric light effects, glow sticks, or electric candles instead.

 

  1. Check your smoke alarms and make sure all exits to the house are clear of clutter.

 

  1. Before dark, check for exposed extension cords and make sure cords avoid wet areas.

 

  1. Determine how much darkness you really want. Lighted pathways and porches are both inviting and safer for your guests.

 

  1. Make sure children can see in their costumes! Obstructed vision from masks can keep them from noticing cars, hazards, or other excited kids.

 

  1. Also make sure children can be seen by others. Glow sticks are fun “high visibility” items, especially when costumes are dark (also: reflective velcro bicycling bands around ankles or wrists can be a good idea).

 

  1. Never let a child trick-or-treat alone. If they’re going out unsupervised, make sure they stay in a group.

 

  1. Don’t let pets run loose! Halloween is a scary time for pets and they may become aggressive in protecting your home or themselves.

 

  1. Be allergy-sensitive and skip treats with nuts or peanut butter (or offer allergen free alternatives).

 

  1. Do a “treat check” before letting kids dive in, chucking anything questionable either for safety concerns or spoilage.

 

Have a ghoulishly safe Halloween this year!

Should I Keep My Home Listed During the Holidays?

10/12/2015

Most people think it is a good idea to withdraw their homes from the market during the Holiday period from November to January or maybe even wait until Spring to relist. Why is this such a BAD idea???

1.  Most homes are beautifully decorated during the season & show exceptionally well - just don't over do it.

2.  Everyone else is withdrawing their home - so that means you have SIGNIFICANTLY LESS competition on the market. Why compete against 65 in your market area wen you can compete against 10???

3. Many Relocation candidates can only get time off with their families for home searches during the holidays and would like to be settled by the next semester. We have tremendous relocation business here in Metro Atlanta - why miss out?

4. Most investors are looking to make a few deals by the end of the year (some with 1031 Exchange Deadlines) and pay cash. If it is not listed, they won't see it.

DON'T MISS OUT on the opportunity to take advantage of a Prime Seller's Market period during the later months of the year. Keep it listed. Update photos & take advantage of the market!

 What's My Home Worth???

 

 

Luxury Home Market Report

10/12/2015

ILHM Luxury Housing Report Detail: Atlanta

 

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list price, days on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

 

 

 

 

Small Lot versus Outdoor Retreat

7/22/2014

Can You Squeeze an Outdoor Retreat onto a Small Lot?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Builders increasingly are squeezing large, luxurious homes on smaller lots, at a time when home owners and home buyers say they crave outdoor retreats.

While buyers say they want outdoor space, they also are motivated by the perk of less lawn maintenance, which smaller lots offer. Also, settling for a smaller lot size may mean more space that can be dedicated to the inside of a home or getting a new home in an urban or historic area.

Whatever the reason, home owners are finding they can still make use of their small lot size and carve out plenty of luxury for dining, relaxing, or creating an oasis.

Take a look at these photos pulled from the remodeling website Houzz.com to get inspiration of how small lots can be used in big ways.

1. Peaceful dining space

2. Squeezing in a pool.

3. Lounging spot.

 
4. Perfect for entertaining

5. Growing space

6. Kid-friendly

7. Back seat perspective

 

ILHM Market Reports

7/1/2014

**Please note that the monthly updates to this report & charts can be viewed by scrolling back to my January Blog date on LUXURY HOMES. You can always find monthly reports for the calendar year in January Blog post.

9 Mistakes Homeowners Make on Their Taxes

1/30/2014

9 Easy Mistakes Homeowners Make on Their Taxes

By: G. M. Filisko

Published: January 30, 2014

Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2013, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

The deduction is complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. But there’s good news – there’s a new simplified home office deduction option if you don’t want to claim actual costs. If you’re eligible, you can instead claim $5 per sq. ft. up to 300 feet, or $1,500.

Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit

If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home improvement expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer's certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if your cost basis for your home is $100,000 (what you paid for it plus any improvements) and you sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you're single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvements in 2013, such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500; with some systems your cap is even lower than $500). But keep in mind, it's a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you're done. Fill out Form 5695.

The first part of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

Taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest on home acquisition debt up to $1 million, plus they can also deduct up to $100,000 in home equity debt.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn't be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

June Metro Atlanta Stats

7/29/2013

June 2013 Sales and Average Sales Price Overview

The average sale price for Residential Single Family Detached was $253,152 for June 2013 vs. $198,035 for

June 2012.

The average sale price for Residential Single Family Attached was $179,006 for June 2013 vs. $137,099 for

June 2012.

 

YTD 2013 Sales and Average Sales Price Overview

The Residential Detached Average Sales Price YTD through June 2013 was $225,819 vs. $175,041 for YTD

2012. This represents an increase of 29% for YTD 2013 vs. YTD 2012.

The Residential Attached Average Sales Price YTD through June 2013 was $169,758 for YTD through June

2013 vs. $130,354 for YTD 2012. This represents an increase of 30% for YTD 2013 vs. YTD 2012.

 

 

What Will the Next 5 Years in Real Estate Look Like????

7/2/2013
Inventory Shortages! The Foreclosure&Short Sale market has almost dried up. The number of homes for sale reached its lowest point since December 1994. The current level of construction is more than 60% below expected household growth. Overall, home prices are up 9.1% or more. The prices of new & existing homes will continue to increase into 2014 by an estimated 2.8%* The median number of weeks a home is on the market is 11 weeks. Many homes are selling for between 95% and 99% of asking price. 40% of sellers did not reduce their asking price; 25% reduced their price once. There's no doubt about it; now is a great time to sell if you've been thinking of putting your home on the market.

* Source Fannie Mae

Sneak Peak at 2013 Housing Market

1/3/2013
73% of people feel as if now is a good time to buy - (Wall Street Journal)
Experts predict home prices will rise in 2013 - (Kiplinger)
The median existing single family home price was up 10.2% from a year ago. - (PropertyWire)
Nearly 60% of home buyers surveyed faced competition when making an offer on a home. - (Wall Street Journal)

All of us here in Metro Atlanta know that there seems to be a shortage of GOOD inventory of homes on the market. Many Buyers are out looking but there just isn't enough homes to show them. Most of my listings in great shape are seeing increased activity (even over the past holidays) and some have multiple offers. Now is a great time to list&get ahead of the Spring Market (when you will have more competition to sell your home.) Contact me today to learn more about our local housing market & how it directly impacts you and your home, including:
  • Average Sales Price
  • Average Time on Market
  • Current Inventory
  • Number of Active Sales
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