Outdoor Furniture

How To Care For Your Outdoor Furniture So That It Lasts For Multiple Seasons 

One of the more positive things that has come out of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic is the utilization of our outdoor spaces. Many people have been spending their time in lockdown updating their yard spaces to make it more accessible and aesthetically pleasing for socially distanced outdoor gatherings with friends and family. 

However, for many this is the first time they’ve invested in actual outdoor furniture and accessories, and while most pieces are well equipped to survive the elements of the world, homeowners should know the proper ways to care for their outdoor spaces and the furniture within them so that they can last for years to come. 

As a general rule, one should be prepared to pay some regular attention to their furniture and products at least once a year, typically at the start of whatever season you like to bring your outdoor furniture out. For those who live in climates where the weather is relatively warm all year, like California, you may want to consider putting in some extra TLC to your furniture twice a year. 

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Adam Taylor is the owner of The Wood Doctor, a furniture restoration company, and has been working in the industry for more than four decades. According to Taylor the “most attention people pay to their outdoor furniture is the day they buy it,” but he’s determined to change that. 

For timber and wood pieces specifically, Taylor claims that those are the easiest to maintain, and owners really just need to focus on keeping them clean. “Clean it off, removing any dust with a brush, or fine grade steel wool for more ingrained dirt. Once clean, I recommend using one of Sikkens oil-based products, which enhances and preserves the natural beauty of the timber.”

Taylor explained that “an oil-based product expands and contracts with the weather, feeding and protecting the wood without covering it. Other products that introduce a film that covers the wood. This means water gets in where there are gaps, gets trapped and causes the wood to rot from the inside out.” Ideally he believes new furniture should be given four coats of oil, applied about 16 hours apart for the most optimal protection for the year. 

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For fabric products it’s smart to have some sort of storage space that can fit all the fabric-covered items in your collection. While outdoor fabrics are equipped to handle the full brunt of the earth’s elements every day, overtime that prolonged exposure to the weather will break down the fabric and shorten the lifespan of it. 

Sweep down your fabric items with a hard-bristle brush to remove dust and other debris. Throwing outdoor fabrics in the wash on the cold setting with a color-fast detergent can help take care of bigger messes or stains, but Taylor recommends hosing off any fabric that gets stained immediately if you can. 

For wicker or cane furniture, one should make sure they use a UV-safe resin once a year to strengthen the tightness of the woven pattern. Thick bristle brushes and some basic soap and water can help dust off these surfaces in the beginning of every season as well. 

Finally, for those with wrought iron furniture the biggest order of maintenance is rust prevention and removal. Surface rust can be easily removed with a wire brush or steel wool, and then the surface can be painted over with a rust guard to help prevent further rusting. If you just bought a new set of wrought iron furniture, you should paint over it with a layer of rust guard as well. 

Millennials Buying Home

What To Do Before Buying A Home

With the current state of the world, buying a home is likely the last thing on your mind. However, with an ample amount of spare time on all of our hands, now is also the perfect time to start listing out your life goals and really break down what you need to do to accomplish them. Buying a home can be extremely stressful if you go into the process blind, so it’s important to do your research and know the basics of the industry before beginning your journey as a homeowner. 

The most important thing that you can do as a buyer is hiring the right real estate agent for you. You not only want someone you can trust, but who has experience with the housing market in the specific area that you’re moving too. Ask your friends and family for their recommendations and be sure to check as many online reviews from past clients as well, as those will offer the greatest insight. 

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The same way you want to ensure that you have a reputable and trustworthy real estate agent, you want to make sure you have the same for any builders, inspectors, and any other professional you’ll want to hire during this process. Builders especially can be hit or miss if they don’t have a lot of experience in the specific area you’re moving into. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in the industry for ten years, every town has its own specific set of rules/regulations regarding home projects and renovations, so it’s important to hire someone who is equipped to abide by those guidelines while staying on budget; this is where customer reviews are yet again going to be your best friend. 

You also want a qualified inspector for the same exact reasoning. Especially if you’re buying a brand new home that’s never been lived in before, you want to ensure that all the inner workings of your future home is running smoothly and up to code. 

Once you have your agent, and you find a home that you’re interested in, do a walk through with your agent and make a list together of home improvements and projects that you’d like to see completed before you move in. If the current owner doesn’t want to budge on certain projects, this is where you and your agent can negotiate pricing.

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This list will also be beneficial for your home inspector, as they can enforce the current owners to complete certain projects if they’re going against any legal housing codes for the specific area. The inspector can also recommend you to reliable construction/renovation companies for whatever home improvements you may have to complete after the move. 

You can never visit a property too much, the only thing you have to worry about is someone else coming along and snatching it from under you before you even had the chance to make a decision. However, it’s important to visit a home a few times before making any final decisions. Try to do your walk throughs on days where the weather is different from your last visit. This way you can see how the landscaping fairs in different climate conditions, and also see how well things like heating/cooling in the house work. 

Finally, before you make any decisions, make sure you have a nice long talk with your agent and loved ones so that you can really break down every specific and clear up any confusion you may have. Remember, you hired your agent to be knowledgeable on all things real estate, so no question is too small or stupid when it comes to your future home.

Selling Home and keys

Supply of Homes for Sale Slumps in December

The final month of 2019 saw a greater slump in real estate sales than previously anticipated by the market. With the holiday season in tow, December is never a popular time to list a home for sale – however this past month’s supply of homes for sale was 12% lower when compared with the same month in 2018, according to This was also a much steeper decline than the 9.5% drop witnessed in November.

As expected, the shortage of homes for sale has taken the biggest hit at the low end of the market, but the drain in supply is actually accelerating across all markets, including the most expensive properties. The end of the year saw the supply of entry-level home priced at less than $200,000 drop more than 18% annually, compared to the 16.6% drop witnessed in November. Midrange houses priced between $200,000 and $750,000 dropped 10.2% annually, compared with November’s decline of 7.4%, while the top end houses priced over $1 million reported a drop of 4.4% annually compared with November’s 2% slump. The median listing price on a U.S. home is currently just under $300,000.

While low-cost homebuilders are continuing to tap into a market of millennials – around 4.8 million of whom will be turning 30-years old in 2020 and looking to buy for the first time – the supply of houses being built and listed simply isn’t able to meet the sizable demand.

The drop noted in December suggests continuing unevenness in the housing market, with many predictions expecting historically low levels of houses for sale to come. December’s slump represents a loss of approximately 155,000 listings, compared to the same period in the previous year, and the amount of new listings is decreasing as well.

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So what is causing this difficult time for the housing market? Higher prices are discouraging many potential movers from listing their homes; increasing numbers of older homeowners are choosing to stay where they are rather than selling their property; and a large number of investors have spent the past decade transforming previously sellable homes into rental properties, which has removed them from the market for prospective buyers.

Real estate is a local business however, meaning not all markets are encountering the same effects. While areas such as California, Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose all encountered a 30% drop in inventory in December, the major markets of San Antonio, Las Vegas and Minneapolis-St. Paul saw their supply of for-sale homes increase. This may appear to suggest that the struggling locations have simply faced an unfortunate year, but the problem is far more widespread than just a few bad districts.

Demand for houses will inevitably increase into the year. With mortgage rates still low potential buyers have greater purchasing power available, but this short supply is likely to push prices up across the board, and currently the majority of new homes in the U.S. are already on the mid to high end of the scale. While many builders are beginning to develop lower-cost properties, as well as ramping up production in general, it will likely be some time before their efforts begin to make a real impact across the market.

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So what next for the housing market? If you believe the gloomiest predictions, the U.S. could be due for another market crash. Just like in 2008, slow wage growth has made it difficult for potential buyers to keep up with the rising house prices. Property sales are currently expected to drop by 1.8% this year, and it’s likely that potential buyers pull out as they struggle to afford the few properties on sale. Combined with a greater uptake of low mortgage rates, this does not paint a pretty picture for real estate. As sales decline, prices may follow – this could leave buyers struggling to make payments on houses that were too expensive for them in the first place.

This is a worst-case scenario prediction however. New homes are being built across the country and the rate is increasing – construction began on 1.37 million new homes in November 2019, a 3.2% increase on October’s numbers and a 13.6% increase on the same month a year prior. If these numbers are accurate and production is successfully ramped up, the construction industry may be able to alleviate the strain that the housing market is currently facing.

Right now, the best advice may be for prospective buyers to hold on to their cash. Low mortgage rates may seem tempting, but the lack of houses available will mean paying out an unjustifiable fee overall. The situation may improve further into the year as more and more properties are built, but if possible it’s worth waiting to see if the market steadies out over the coming years before making such a sizable investment.

Global Warming

Climate Change’s Present and Future Impact on Real Estate

Already, climate change is having a serious impact on global political and economic systems, and as temperatures continue to rise, this impact will only become more severe. Climate change touches nearly all aspects of human life, as governments around the world grapple with the logistics of dealing with the problem, and powerful industries such as oil and gas struggle to adapt to changing attitudes and environments. Perhaps a less-expected area affected by climate change is real estate; as the sea level rises and weather patterns shift, some properties, particularly ones close to coastlines and beaches, are experiencing a decrease in valuation as their long-term viability is called into question, whereas properties in once-undesirable locations are becoming more popular. The reality of climate change has already taken hold in the real estate industry, as investors, landlords, and homeowners attempt to prepare for the often-unpredictable effects of the phenomenon.

Investors are wise to recognize that the problem of climate change is not going away; in fact, recent studies have revealed that the impact of climate change is likely to be even more significant than previously feared, with polar ice caps melting at an alarming rate and sea level rises now expected to displace 150 million people worldwide. Moreover, the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events brought about by higher global temperatures poses a threat to the integrity of real estate fixtures, and buildings constructed in vulnerable areas, without appropriate fortification, are at risk of collapse. Low- and moderate-income communities are at particular risk, as residents in these places are less likely to be able to afford dealing with the impacts of climate change, which at best causes property destruction and at worst can kill. 

Certainly, one of the factors in the real estate industry’s slow reaction to climate change is denial; oftentimes, the position that trends in the industry will continue as they always have is far more palatable than grappling with an unpredictable, substantial destructive force.

The Federal Reserve Board of San Fransisco recently published a collection of reports detailing the intersection of climate change and real estate. The organization warns that climate change could cause home values to fall significantly, could disincentivize banks from lending to affected communities, and towns and cities may not have the necessary resources to build sea walls and other infrastructure to protect against climate change. However, the reports also detail economic opportunities that could arise from climate change. Despite the breadth of scientific data available about climate change, the real estate industry has been slow to react, meaning plenty of investors could be caught off-guard by climate-related devaluations in their properties, whereas shrewd investors can take advantage of their understanding of climate change by investing in properties that will become popular as people relocate away from the coasts and areas where extreme weather events will be most prevalent.

A number of factors complicate the real estate industry’s response to climate change. One such factor is the nature of how flood insurance is calculated; despite the presence of more up-to-date data, calculations for the probability of floods occurring in particular locations are based on outdated maps and figures and don’t take into account rising sea levels. Additionally, the federal government subsidizes flood insurance programs, incentivizing developers to invest in coastal properties even though they are at increasingly-greater risk of destruction. Certainly, one of the factors in the real estate industry’s slow reaction to climate change is denial; oftentimes, the position that trends in the industry will continue as they always have is far more palatable than grappling with an unpredictable, substantial destructive force. As such, experts in the field are advising business leaders and other high-impact decision makers to adapt to a “new abnormal,” which involves taking a radically different and unprecedented approach to making real-estate choices, even when they may seem counter-intuitive to those who fail to consider the extent of climate change and its impacts.

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Real Estate Meeting

Real Estate Industry In Need Of Affordable Housing Solutions

The real estate industry is like the stock market, one day you’re way up, and the next you’re crashing. The housing market always fluctuates with the economy and today is no different. Due to a slew of combined issues, the real estate industry is suffering to find and maintain affordable housing in the US for clients looking to live in metropolitan areas. Phoenix, Arizona is seeing some of the worst of it currently, according to Chamber Business News (CBN).  A combination of lack of labor, high demand for properties to be built fast, and rising development costs is taking a hit on the entire industry, (CBN).

“I refer to it as the perfect storm. It isn’t just building and labor costs, but building products have gone up, too, and, today, the most severe labor shortage is for lot development, the folks that put in the sewer, concrete curbs and gutters, dry utilities, everything underneath the house, and the infrastructure to get to and from the home site,”  said Jim Belfiore, President of the firm Belfiore Real Estate Consulting in Phoenix. 

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Homeowners themselves are trying to take some of the heat off the companies they work with by providing additional costs, but even the real estate agents working with them know that what they’re paying additionally is way above what’s considered “normal”. The lack of labor is one of the biggest hurdles the industry is trying to get past, especially in Phoenix. According to CBN, construction costs overall have increased almost 40% over the past four years, give or take based on the specific residential market of course. Since a majority of the market’s clients can’t keep up with the rising costs, more labor workers are left without jobs. 

The labor shortage is affecting the whole country, but Arizona is especially feeling the negative effects. With an increase in anti-immigration laws and stricter policies regarding immigrant workers, many individuals have fled the state to avoid any threat of deportation. 

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“The labor shortage has really affected the schedule that home builders can deliver on because of a lack of contractors. There are projects that are going out to bid and getting zero bidders responding with proposals. It’s not unusual once you find bidders who can’t meet their schedule,” said Ron Hilgart, managing principal of a Phoenix construction management firm, to CBN.

Arizona alone has seen one of the highest influxes in population throughout the country, but they’re definitely not alone in the struggle of maintaining the growing clientele. According to a survey done by Freddie Mac, two-thirds of renters in this country can’t currently afford to become a homeowner, this is a 59% increase compared to last years renter statistics. The biggest and simplest solution to this growing problem is acquiring more land to develop properties. The need for property space is one of the leading causes to the decline in everything else within the industry. Agents are attempting to fulfill their clients specific limitations while finding them a proper space to call their own. Clients are demanding large and extravagant additions to be made to their homes that just aren’t necessary, such as large porches, grand foyer entrances, and garage spaces. These additions increase property value, which is currently being viewed as a bad thing due to a lack of clients that can afford those spaces.

“At the end of the day, anywhere there is land to build on today that is appropriate for residential use, I think our municipal leaders and our builders need to come together and allocate some share of that remaining land towards affordable housing and we need to have different requirements” concludes Belfiore.

Electrical Wiring

How To Tell If Your Home’s Electrical Wiring Is Safe

According to The Electrical Safety Foundation, the leading cause of all home fires are electrical mishaps. While there are incidents where these mishaps are out of the homeowners control, there are plenty of preventable electric mistakes that can cause extremely uncontrollable fires to spark. 

Apartment Therapy is an online real estate/home and garden website that gives the best tips for maintaining an amazing, and SAFE, living space. The site recently surveyed and interviewed a large group of professional electricians who have experienced homeowners making simple electrical mistakes that have left them devastated by fire damage. The first tip is to avoid putting any sort of power adapter/surge protectors into two prong outlets.

“Three-prong outlets didn’t become standard in North American homes until the late 1960’s, so while modern homes should be in good shape, there are plenty of homes out there with old two-prong outlets. Because many new appliances—computers, blenders, and more—use three prongs, you might be tempted to nab adapters. Don’t do it, instead, you should consider upgrading the outlet if you need to regularly use three-pronged plugs,” says Mark Dawson, chief operating officer at Mister Sparky, to Apartment Therapy

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Avoid putting your outlets through this

Two prong outlets in general are much weaker, since most houses developed after the 1960’s weren’t even built with them. Because of this, these outlets tend to be much older as well, which leads us to the next mistake. Old outlets that are loose or breaking down are extremely unsafe for children, pets, and just in general, as they can lead to fires. When outlets are loose, the wiring and “blades”, which are the pieces that attach the outlet to the wires, can heat up quickly from not being in their proper place. 

Two-prong outlets in general are outdated, and if your outlet is broken then it’s definitely outdated, so you should get them checked out, which brings us to our next tip; make sure you’re checking any old wiring in your home! According to Apartment Therapy, electric wiring is meant to last anywhere from thirty to forty years, anything more can pose a serious fire risk. If you’re in an older home, or just in general believe the wiring in your house is outdated, Dawson recommends getting a local trusted electrician to perform an electrical survey of the home. This is a common procedure in the electrician community in which they would assess all the electric wiring, outlets, power sourcing, etc. in the house to make sure it looks up to code. 

Dawson also says to make sure you’re keeping an eye on flickering light bulbs that are connected directly into your power sources. This would include the lighting installed into the ceilings and walls directly as opposed to a lamp or anything else with its own wiring system.

“While the most likely explanations are harmless and easy to fix, a flickering light could also be an early warning sign of dangerous wiring problems. Start by troubleshooting the bulb by screwing it back in to check the connection and, if that doesn’t work, replace the bulb. If the flickering continues, you may have an unknown power surge or faulty wiring,” Dawson says.

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An example of breaking electrical panels in the home

Dawson also warned in the same sentiment to make sure you’re being careful not to overload your home’s circuit board panels. Signs of this include blinking, dimming, or flickering lights, frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses, warm or discolored outlet covers, and crackling and buzzing sounds from outlets. If even one of these things is occurring in your home at a consistent rate, contact a local electrician, and get that survey! You might have to update your homes entire panel or rewire, which are heavy costs but better safe than sorry. 

The last major tip that homeowners should be aware of is making sure that everything they’re using in their home is being used the right way and is working properly. To specify, all appliances in the home should be working. Don’t keep using a hairdryer or microwave or blender if its integrity has been impaired. Broken appliances can send electrical signals into your homes wiring improperly, causing wear and tear which can lead to a large electrical fire. In addition, make sure any electricity used outside is being used correctly. For instance, any extension cord that’s used in an outdoor setting (Christmas lights, driveway lighting, etc) needs to be specifically made to withstand outdoor conditions. 

“If an extension cord is not rated for outdoor use, it’s at risk of overheating and potentially causing a fire. On new extension cords, check packaging for outdoor use ratings; on extension cords you may already own, check the cord itself for the letters “W” or “S.” A “W” is for outdoors, while an “S” is typically for inside the home,” says Dawson. 

Overall, just make sure that you’re keeping an eye on all the electrical aspects of your home. Faulty wiring can be easily overlooked, but there are signs that can help you prevent any sort of fire from occurring in the first place. If you’re unsure about your homes wiring and electrical status, take a few minutes to call a local electrician to get information about getting your home surveyed. It’s typically on the cheaper side for electrician costs, and will give you the security you need to know your home is up to code and running smoothly.