13 Life Hacks For Homeowners

 1. Porcelain sink stains: Use a toilet cleaning product and scrub in circles. If that doesn’t work, try the tried-and-true Bar Keeper’s Friend. As a last resort, use a pumice stick.

2. Fix curling wallpaper: Use an artist’s brush to apply wallpaper repair adhesive to wall. Press into place with a seam roller, then remove excess with a damp sponge.

3. Patch a gutter hole: Using tin snips, cut away any rusted or corroded metal surrounding the hole. Make a patch using the same material as your gutters (aluminum, vinyl, copper, zinc, etc.) several inches larger than the hole. Glue the patch inside the gutter with a bead of roofing cement.

4. Seal air leaks around an outlet cover: Whatever you do, do NOT fill the electrical box with foam. It traps heat from wires and becomes a fire hazard. Instead, remove the plate and caulk the seam where the electrical box meets the wall board. Get a foam gasket and place it around the receptacle, then reinstall the cover/plate.

5. Get rid of a bee’s or hornet’s nest: After dark (when the insects are less active or dormant), take a jet-spray insecticide and soak the entrance to the nest, standing 10 to 15 feet away for safety. If the hive shows no activity the next day, throw the nest away.

6. Get rid of stubborn weeds: Instead of hand-weeding, cut the weed to the ground. When it begins to grow leaves again, paint an herbicide like Roundup on the leaves with a foam brush, coating them all. The weed, including the roots, should die completely.

7. Measure without a tape measure: Use household items like a dollar bill (6 inches long), a credit card (2 inches wide), and a soda can (5 inches tall).

8. Get rid of ants: Don’t just poison the visible ants. Set out bait (or have an exterminator do it) for them to carry back to the entire colony.

9. Speed up compost: Take a bit of last year’s completed compost and add it to the new pile. It already possesses the fungi that jumpstart the process.

10. Thaw a frozen pipe: Use a heating tool such as a hair dryer, a heating pad, or a space heater and point it at the pipe. Do NOT use a blow torch!

11. Touch up flat paint: Flat paint is incredibly unforgiving. To do a touchup without it looking obvious, use a foam brush or roller and paint with vertical strokes. Apply the thinnest coat possible.

12. Clean window screens: Vacuum both sides of the screen with a brush attachment, and then clean with a sponge using a regular household cleaner. If possible, you can clean the screens in a bathtub filled with hot water. Rinse them under the shower.

13. Clean a greasy range-hood filter: Run the filter through the dishwasher. If it’s extremely dirty or clogged, though, you should buy a new one.

 Check back in the future for more installments of life hacks for homeowners! 


Is Home Flipping More Complicated In An Up Market?

Flipping isn't as easy at is was just a couple of years ago. 3.2% of all single family home sales during the first quarter of 2014 in South Carolina were flips. That number is down from 9% during the first quarter of 2013. Why has that number decreased? It's partly due to the fact that the real estate market has recovered so nicely. Home prices in Charleston County have increased by 3.3% over the last year alone. The bottom line is this: quick cosmetic fixes aren't cutting it anymore.

Home flippers are facing a more complicated time. A new coat of paint and new flooring might do a lot to make a home's interior look fresh and new, but it's only scratching the surface. In a better economy, buyers have more leeway to demand more from a house. What can flippers do to appeal to potential buyers?

First, stay away from homes that have a feature that can't be fixed. For example, a home that is located next to a busy road will certainly be crossed off a lot of potential buyers' lists. In addition to cosmetic fixes, details that could bring more potential buyers include added square footage, a new roof, quality countertops and cabinets, and new appliances.

For flippers who are new to the game, this shouldn't be a huge change. But experienced investors who are used to flipping homes quickly might find the process somewhat more complicated these days. The key to a successful flip is to thoroughly inspect what needs to be fixed and compare it to the cost of the home and the desired profit. Make a budget, stick to it, and don't forget to allow wiggle room for any surprises that crop up along the way.

Last, but not least, don't be fooled by home-flipping shows you see on TV. They make it look incredibly easy, but what you don't see is all the work (both physical and administrative) that goes on behind the scenes. Only take on a project like this if you're ready to work hard and handle the inevitable unexpected issues.

Do you have experience with flipping homes? What other advice to you have for aspiring flippers?


How-To Tuesday: Make a Big Impact With a Small Bathroom

Powder room. Water closet. No matter what cute, creative name you give them, small bathrooms can cause big problems. Of course there are issues like lack of storage and room to move about, but there's also the question of how to make a tiny bathroom look appealing. Here are a few quick tips for opening up and adding character to any small bathroom. 

Draw the eye up. Extra tall wainscoting is a good way to make a bathroom look taller, creating the illusion of more space. If you're not a fan, try installing another interesting detail close to the top of the wall.

Use a chair rail as shelving. Extend the top of your chair rail to create some space above-the-counter storage.

Get a claw-foot tub. It takes up less room than a traditional tub or surround shower and lend a vintage feel to the space.

Lighten it up. If your small bathroom has a window, think about expanding it. As with any other room, the more natural light you have, the bigger a space feels.

Cut it out. Create niches in walls where toilets, vanities, or storage items can be pushed back. You'll be grateful even if it gives you just a few more inches of floor space.

Install a pedestal sink. Choose one with pretty details. Bonus points if it has room underneath for a small nightstand or other piece of furniture to act as storage.

Give it character. A smaller room is perfect for a vintage or bohemian look. A unique paint job, like wide horizontal stripes, can also help widen the room. (Don't wince at the idea of stripes. They can be done subtly with neutral colors!)

Open up the shower by taking away the curtain or other enclosure and adding a glass wall and door.

Any other ideas for opening up a small bathroom?

June 2014 Charleston Real Estate Market Statistics

The Charleston real estate market is continuing to improve, as evidenced by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors' preliminary data for June 2014. 1,423 homes sold in the tri-county area at a median price of $227,500. That's up from 1,214 at $219,340 in June 2013.

Statistics for the midway point of 2014 also prove that the market is alive and well. During the first half of the year, a total of 6,613 homes sold at a median price of $216,273. That's an 8% increase from 2013.

Below is a breakdown of Charleston market statistics by county.

The ABC's of Real Estate

Like most types of business, the real estate industry has a lot of jargon that you might not be familiar with. With that in mind, we bring to you today a short list of the ABC's of real estate. How many of the following real estate terms do you recognize?


Appraisal: an expert estimate of the value of a property as determined by one of three methods: comparable sales (residential), replacement cost (insurance), or income approach (commercial).

Broker: a person who acts as a mediator between two or more parties for the purpose of negotiating a transaction agreeable to all parties.

Closing: the formal meeting where loan documents are signed, funds are disbursed, and keys are exchanged.

Deed: conveys or transfers title to land or other real property.

Earnest money: a monetary amount or something of value given by a prospective buyer of real property as evidence of good faith.

Foreclosure: the process of terminating an owner's rights to property due to delinquent payments.

Gain: an increase in money or property value.

HOA (Homeowners Association): organization of homeowners in a subdivision, planned use development, or condominium created to enforce deed restrictions and manage common elements of the development.

Interest rate: percentage of loan amount charged for borrowing money.

Joint tenancy: ownership of real estate by two or more persons, each of whome has an undivided interest.

Kickout clause: seller contingency that allows the seller to accept a buyer's contingent offer to purchase, while allowing the seller to continue to market the property and take backup offers. Also known as the 72-hour clause.

Lien: claim on a property of another as security for money owed. Example: judgments, mechanic's liens, mortgages, and unpaid taxes.

Mortgage loan: loan secured by a lien against real property given by borrower to a lender.

Net cash flow: investment income after expenses such as principle, interest, taxes, and insurance are subtracted.

Ordinance: municipal rules governing the use of land.

PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance): monthly payments required by an amortizing loan that includes escrow deposits for taxes and insurance in addition to principle and interest.

Quiet enjoyment: an owner's or tenant's right to use and possession of property without interference.

Realtor: designation given to licensed real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors.

Section 8: privately owned rental swelling units participating in the low-income rental assistance program created by 1974 amendments to section 8 of the 1937 Housing Act.

Title insurance: an insurance policy that protects the holder from loss sustained by defects in the title, which is evidence of ownership.

Undivided interest: ownership right to use and possession of property shared among co-owners, with no one co-owner having exclusive rights to any portion of the property.

VA Loan: a home loan guaranteed by the U.S. Veteran's Administration under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 and later to compensate the lender in the event of default.

Warranty Deed: deed that contains covenant that the grantor protects the grantee against any and all claims and ensures good title, freedom from encumbrances, and quiet enjoyment.

Regulation X: also known as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures ACT (RESPA). Concerned with the process of completing real estate sales. Monitored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Yield: effective return on investment

Zoning: a legal mechanism for local governments to divide an area into zones as to restrict the number and types of buildings and their uses.





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