Aaron Wluka - Twisted Spoke Realty, LLC


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Whether to protect your belongings when you’re not home or to protect your loved ones when they are, you might consider a security system. Burglars are getting smarter, and your home should follow suit. One way to improve your home’s security is by installing a smart lock.

Replacement or Add-On

In general, there are two categories of smart locks: (1) those that replace your traditional bolt lock entirely, and (2) those that install over the top of your existing door lock system. When you replace your current lock with a completely new locking mechanism, the device changes the appearance of your door handle on both front and back. When you use a retrofitting lock, it typically keeps the appearance of your traditional door handle. This distinction is crucial if you have a specific aesthetic you need to follow. 

What Features to Look for in a Smart Lock

The idea of electronic, wireless entry with remote identification is excellent. However, technological advancement does have its issues. For example, if your Bluetooth or wireless connection is blocked, your lock could end up keeping both you and intruders out of your home. Insist on a system that offers an alternative to wireless entry such as a key fob, keypad, fingerprint reader or self-powered touchscreen.

Here is an abbreviated list of other features to look for in a smart lock system for your home:

  • Auto-lock and unlock – some systems detect when the person with a key fob or smartphone app, for instance, is near to the door and will instantly unlock for them. This is useful when your arms are full of groceries or luggage. The detection distance (geofencing) is typically set by the user.
  • Voice activation – Many new locks offer control through a household or smartphone operating system such as Siri, Echo or Alexa. Typically, these require voice recognition or a PIN code to enable the "unlock" command.
  • Power systems – Many smart locks operate on batteries that alert you when they’re low on power and need replacing or recharging. LED indicators also inform you when you need to change the batteries. Depending on the functions your lock performs and the type of battery it has, battery life can be from three months to a year.
  • Assigned PINs or keys – Many smart locks, including retrofit models, allow the user to assign separate keys or PINs to those approved for entry. Temporary PINs could let in a delivery person or cleaner, while permanent PINs monitor when family, housemates or clients (such as for short-term rentals) enter and leave.
  • Compatibility with other smart home systems means integration into your home’s other routines such as dimming the lights or controlling the temperature. Make sure your smart lock integrates with the system you have.
  • Finally, determine how weatherproof your system needs to be. Locks rated as having IP water/dust-proof protection from solids and liquids means your lock will operate through most wear and tear and outdoor conditions. Look for the IP ratings for the inside electronic works as well as the exterior parts.

If you’ve retrofitted your home’s lock, let your agent know to promote your home’s smart features when you sell it.  



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Some home projects and improvements can't wait - a leaking hot water heater or a water damaged floor need to be replaced right away. Other, planned renovations and upgrades are optional. Consider not only your current needs, but the potential impact of any large planned upgrade on your home's value before you proceed. If you are upgrading your home to sell it soon, the improvements you make should add value to your home and be recouped when you are ready to sell. 

4 Home Improvements that Add the Most Value to your Home (and 3 That Don't)

Some upgrades enhance the overall value of your home, while others allow you to improve the look of your home, and recover the majority of your costs when you sell. According to Bankrate.com, the best places to invest your upgrade dollars include: 

A new garage door: It may not be fancy or a feature you notice, but replacing a sagging, out of date or ailing garage door with a newer, more secure model is a money savvy upgrade. The average garage upgrade costs about $3,600 -- and adds about $3,500 to the selling price of the home, making this a renovation that (almost) pays for itself. 

Kitchen Update: Bringing a dated or worn kitchen up to current day standards -- a makeover that usually costs about $22,000 for the average home -- can improve the selling price of your home by thousands of dollars. The average kitchen update boosts the value of a home by up to $18,000.

Enhance your yard with a deck: According to the Balance, adding a deck in your backyard expands your living space and allows you to add value to your home. The average cost of a wood deck is $10,000 -- and that deck adds an average of $9000 to your home's value, making it easy to add space without a huge investment. 

Replace siding: The curb appeal of your home has a significant impact on your ability to sell it and on the price you receive. According to the Balance, replacing aging siding with a similar quality new version allows you to recover about 75% of your investment. It will also make your home more appealing to buyers. 

Projects that Don't Add Value to your Home

You should not take on these projects if you truly want to enjoy the results for a while, as they won't have much of an impact on the selling price or value of your home. Some, like swimming pools, can even scare away buyers that would otherwise be interested in your property. According to the Balance, the worst home upgrades include swimming pools of all types, interior painting (because buyers may prefer different colors) and whole roof replacement (except in emergencies).  

 


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If you're getting ready to sell your home, then you might suddenly find yourself faced with deciding which home improvements are the best to tackle. Though it can seem like a hassle -- and it's going to cost you some time and money -- the reality is that even a few improvements could be beneficial. You might find that not only does your home sell more quickly than you expect but that the final sale price is above your listing price. 

1. Landscape Your Yard

Your home's exterior is the first thing interested homebuyers see when they show up so make sure the yard is welcoming. In addition to keeping the grass mowed, be sure that any trees and bushes aren't overgrown. Plant some perennials if your yard needs some color or put some in a couple of pots by the front door. 

2. Paint the Interior

Even though painting the interior of your home has one of the lowest costs of all home improvement projects, it also has a high rate of return. About 36 percent of homeowners decide to tackle this project. Be sure to opt for a neutral color though you might need assistance from a professional to determine what that is. It really depends on aspects like the flooring and cabinets, for example. Gray has been trending as a paint color for a number of years so it's a safe choice for interiors. 

3. Replace the Flooring

More than a quarter of home sellers decided to replace the flooring before putting their home on the market. Upgrading to wood or faux woods floors throughout your home has several advantages. It creates a seamless flow from one room to the next. The right kind of wood flooring is also easier to maintain than carpeting. 

If it's too costly to replace all the flooring in your home with wood, then new carpeting can still be a strong selling point. Just make sure that you choose a neutral color. 

4. Update the Bathroom

Did you know that your bathroom can make your house seem outdated? Adding a few new touches such as new cabinets, countertops, fixtures and flooring can breathe fresh life into one of the important rooms of the house. Just make sure to go with a minimalist look to make the room look bigger. 

Opting for any of the four home improvements noted above can really boost your return on your investment. If you aren't sure which project is the best one to tackle, ask a real estate agent. Their objective advice is grounded in the realities of what's selling in your area currently. 





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4 Improvements That Increase the Value of Your Home

Home improvement projects add useability, beauty and convenience to your house, and those characteristics make the house more desirable to potential buyers. If you’re considering a home improvement project, here are four that will increase the value of your home.

1. An Addition Increases Square Footage

One of the most impactful home improvements you can make is putting on an addition. Whether a family room, bedroom or home office, an addition adds useable square footage to your house -- and extra space is something that every prospective homebuyer can appreciate. 

While not a perfect measure because value varies with the type of room, you can roughly estimate how much value an addition would have by multiplying the average sale price per square foot in your neighborhood by how many square feet an addition is.

2. A Finished Basement Increases Useable Space

A cheaper alternative to installing an addition, finishing a basement is relatively easy and likewise increases useable space. 

Exactly what constitutes a finished basement can vary. You might simply want some shelves, carpeting and a few games, or you may want a full in-law apartment that’s complete with a bathroom and kitchenette. However you finish your home’s basement, though, the project will add value because anything is more useful than undeveloped storage space.

3. A Complete Kitchen Remodel

If you’re tired of cooking in an outdated kitchen, remodeling your kitchen will improve your day-to-day experience and let you recoup some of your investment. You probably won’t get the full cost of a kitchen remodel back when you sell your home, but you can regain most of the improvement’s cost if you’re wise in the changes that you make. Additionally, a remodeled kitchen can help sell your house faster if you’re in a slow real estate market.

4. A Master Bathroom Remodel

A house’s master bathroom is usually one of the three main rooms that potential homebuyers look at (with the kitchen and master bedroom being the other two). Thus, a master bathroom remodel is an improvement project that many will appreciate and be willing to pay for. 

When you remodel a master bathroom, consider what high-end aesthetics and luxury features would add the most perceived value from someone else’s perspective. Then, pick the ones you think will have the biggest benefit and that you personally like.

Ask a Real Estate Agent

For help deciding how to approach any of these home improvement projects, get in touch with one of our real estate agents. We’re professionals who every day see what attracts prospective homebuyers, and we’d be glad to help you design an improvement that will add true value to your home.


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You recently purchased a home, and as a new homeowner, you’re itching to get moved into your new kitchen so you can get settled and start entertaining. Wait! Before you get caught up organizing your pots and pans, do a little preventative care. If you want a kitchen you can entertain in hassle-free, take the time to do these things.

Deep Clean

Whether you purchased new construction or an adorable 1920s bungalow, you need to deep clean. Either hire a reputable company, or take on the task yourself, but do it. Clean all the cabinets high and low, doors, knobs, any framing, behind and under all appliances that may have come with the house.

Next to tackle the sink hardware. Clean the faucet, remove calcium build up and run drain cleaner to preventatively tackle any clogs hidden just under the surface.

If your home came with an oven and dishwasher, use the self-clean settings they have and clean them yourself after. Starting with a fresh, clean slate will ensure your kitchen stays in good shape with just a little ongoing maintenance.

Test and Clean Your Hardware

Check that all cabinet doorknobs and drawer pulls are properly attached. Make sure that all your drawer tracks align and slide in and out well. Ensure that all hinges are tight and squared.

Pest Control

Check your countertop and backsplash for any cracks or holes that could be the perfect escape route for any ants or roaches that may try to find a way into your home in the future. Seal up any gaps you find with caulking or grout. Then, treat the whole kitchen with preventative pest control. You can find industrial-grade solutions online that are very affordable and will last you through the lifetime of your house. Once you treat the kitchen space, you’ll want to let it stand for at least a few hours before you wipe down the counters again and start putting away your belongings.

Preparing your kitchen for daily use and entertaining is important and is not an area you want to neglect during your move in. With these steps you’ll be ready to get things organized just the way you like and get to entertaining.