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Sell Your Home: For Sale By Owner Gets A Level Playing Field

(NAPSI)—In the past, selling your home for sale by owner (FSBO) meant trying to reach buyers on your own by posting a yard sign or running a classified ad. With over 80 percent of buyers using agents to find homes, however, FSBO sellers were locked out of “the club” because they could not get on the agents’ Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or on popular sites like Realtor.com. Without hiring a full-commission agent, FSBO sellers’ chances of being seen by qualified buyers were slim.

Now, however, a revolution in online real estate has shifted power into the hands of FSBO sellers and leveled the playing field. There are websites that hook up sellers with agents who offer MLS listings for a low price and without any commission for the “listing agent.” The National Association of Realtors calls this “Minimal Agent Service” and, according to its latest research, flat-fee MLS listings are the fastest-growing segment of the market.

“I don’t know how it could be any easier,” says Dale R. of Texas, who sold his home using the flat-fee service at Owners.com. At first he was skeptical, but within 24 hours of listing on the local MLS, he had two competing offers on his home that were over the asking price. His home was sold within three weeks. “All day the phone was ringing...there were 20 cars parked outside.”

Just remember, a seller listing on the MLS for a flat fee is responsible for showing his or her own home and negotiating directly with buyers. The flat-fee agent who listed the home on the MLS is only responsible for maintaining the listing.

Although listing on the MLS for a flat fee bypasses the listing agent’s commission (typically, 3 percent of the sales price), you will have to offer a commission to buyers’ brokers, which typically ranges from 2 to 3 percent. On the other hand, if a buyer who isn’t working with an agent wants to buy your home, you are free to sell to that buyer and owe no commission to any agent.

Selling “for sale by owner” might not be for everyone but it’s much easier today than it was 10 years ago. At a site such as Owners.com, you can level the playing field and get the same exposure for your property as traditional agent-listed homes.

For more advice on how to sell your home or to list your home for sale, visit www.owners.com.

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Support Builds For The All-American Home

(NAPSI)—Five percent may not sound like a lot of anything, but when it comes to building new homes, it can make a big contribution toward putting Americans to work.

That’s the word from a father-and-son team of builders who contend that if contractors across the country pledged to use as little as 5 percent more American-made products when they build a new home, they would start a trend that could help to create over 200,000 jobs.

An All-American Home

Anders Lewendal and Jake Lewendal are the father-and-son building team that runs Anders Lewendal Construction and Sustainable Building Solutions out of Bozeman, Montana.

In 2011, the Lewendals constructed the first documented home built entirely from products sourced and/or manufactured in the United States. It’s said the home not only cost about the same as other homes of similar size and quality but also uses less than half the energy of average new homes its size.

Later, an analysis performed by the Boston Consulting Group demonstrated that if every builder in America were to reallocate 5 percent of construction spending from foreign to domestic products, it would in effect create 220,000 American jobs in construction and in the other industries that feed the construction industry.

The Five Percent Pledge

Recently, GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, held a press conference at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it announced its sponsorship of the All-American Home Initiative.

Together, Jake Lewendal and GAF invited show attendees to take the “Five Percent Pledge” at theallamericanhome.com. There, they can commit to using 5 percent more American-made materials in their builds. Manufacturers of American-made products can get free exposure by adding their company’s name to a directory on the All-American Home website when they take the pledge.

Later at the event, a GAF executive indicated that the company’s research shows that 83 percent of homeowners favor American-made products and 82 percent favor products from American-owned companies, and that the company was proud to be able to fulfill both of these expectations through its sponsorship of the initiative.

Founded in 1886, GAF has become the largest roofing manufacturer in North America. Learn more and take the pledge at www.gaf.com.

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Neutrals Make A Splash In Kitchens And Bathrooms

(NAPSI)—A growing number of decorators—and homeowners—are expressing positive opinions about the trend of using neutral colors.

Survey Shows

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s annual design trends survey, gray is currently used in 55 percent of kitchens and 56 percent of bathrooms, creating chic, sophisticated spaces.

Other popular looks for kitchens include:

• white painted cabinetry

• glass backsplashes

• LED lighting

• water-saving faucets

• satin-nickel finishes.

In the bath, look for more and more:

• ceramic and porcelain tiles

• undermounted sinks.

What Homeowners Want

In both, the big idea is an increase in the expression of individuality. As more and more people are deciding to stick with the home they have, many are also working on ways to improve it to please themselves as well as prospective buyers when that time comes. Kitchen and bath remodels are particularly popular and shades of white, gray and beige are what’s in.

For example, consider the color called Cinder, a striking shade of dark gray with a natural, stonelike appeal and delicate hints of brown that give it an inviting warmth.

This timeless modern hue is reminiscent of dark natural stones such as slate and goes very well with stainless appliances.

What They Can Get

It’s available in top-quality Silgranit sinks, which are crafted of 80 percent natural granite, feature the look and feel of natural stone, and resist scratches, stains, chips and heat. Because the color goes all the way through, it won’t fade in direct sunlight and is impervious to household acids and alkalis. Advanced surface technology ensures that it is nonporous, easy to clean and extremely hygienic.

These sinks come from the experts at Blanco. Family owned since 1925, the company has produced more than 40 million sinks and is recognized as a world leader in quality, innovation and unsurpassed service.

Learn More

For further facts, a color assistant to guide your choices, and pictures of great kitchens to inspire you, go to www.blancoamerica.com.

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Brighten Up—Make Every Day Earth Day

(NAPSI)—Every year on Earth Day, millions reflect on what can be done to be more environmentally conscious. But why limit it to just one day a year? Make every day Earth Day by changing out the old, energy-inefficient light bulbs in your home with LED bulbs and put money back in your pocket.

According to the Energy Information Association, lighting accounts for nearly 13 percent of electricity spending in the average household. While Americans are making smarter energy choices that save money, lighting has been historically overlooked. With all the options and acronyms on the shelf, like twisty CFLs that are slow to warm up to full brightness and don’t look like light bulbs, it can be difficult to know which bulb will provide the light you want, at a price you can afford, while still saving energy.

Thanks to Cree, Inc., the choice in the lighting aisle has been simplified. It is now easier than ever to find the energy-saving light you want. With a 40-watt equivalent selling for under $10, the new Cree LED Bulb is one of the most cost-effective light bulbs to hit the marketplace-and it looks and lights like an incandescent, but uses 84 percent less energy and lasts 25,000 hours.

The equation works—like a child, Cree’s LED Bulb will be in your house for decades; unlike a child, it will pay for itself quickly and spend the rest of its life working to save you money. Makes sense, right? With resonating lines like this one, and “nostalgia is dumb,” Cree’s television advertisements are one way the company is giving consumers a new way of thinking about the cost of not switching to energy-efficient LED lighting.

“Consumers are key to mass LED adoption,” said Mike Watson, vice president corporate marketing, Cree. “We designed an energy-efficient light bulb that looks familiar but that performs better than the incandescent bulbs consumers know and love. We are doing everything in our power to help consumers see a better lighting alternative, one that’s affordable, saves money from the time it’s turned on and is available today.”

To make every day Earth Day in your home, switch out traditional light bulbs with Cree LED Bulbs for energy savings that can pay for each bulb in about a year (based on replacing your most frequently used incandescent bulbs with Cree LED Bulb 60-watt replacements at 9.5 watts, $0.11 per kilowatt-hour, 25,000 hours lifetime and average usage of six hours per day).

You can’t argue with math.

To learn more about affordable, energy-efficient lighting for your home, visit www.CreeBulb.com.

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Great Growing Ideas

(NAPSI)—Recent research by United Minds reveals some fascinating facts about Americans’ relationship with green spaces.

For example, the Global Green Space Report, produced by the Husqvarna Group, found:

• 74 percent of people would like their children to spend more time in gardens and yards;

• Two-thirds of respondents believe that visiting and interacting with green contributes to their quality of life;

• When asked what impresses them about other people’s gardens, the top three things were:

1. Flowers—52 percent

2. Fruit trees—52 percent

3. A well-trimmed lawn—46 percent.

To get the grass greener on your side of the fence, consider these suggestions:

• Water, water, every day—at least at first. From when the lawn is first planted until the shoots start to show, keep the top half inch of the soil moist.

• Stay sharp. Make sure the blades on your lawn mower are sharp so as not to injure the blades of grass.

• Mow less. Don’t remove more than a third of the top growth in a single cutting.

• Mow more easily. To help homeowners make the most of their mowing, the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products has come up with two new machines.

Homeowners determined to mow more securely on hilly terrain or damp grass can now experience with a walk mower the kind of traction and handling they can get in an automobile—All-Wheel Drive. Designed for uneven terrain and the toughest mowing conditions, the sleek yet rugged HU800AWD features a heavy-duty steel deck and a powerful Honda GCV 190 engine. The wheels’ aggressive tread pattern provides additional traction and maneuverability so you can mow comfortably, carefully and without damaging your lawn.

It shares a number of features with the complete line of Husqvarna walk mowers, including a three-year warranty; a side guard and grass comb, to improve edging performance; a large, dust-blocking bag; a premium, comfort-grip control bail to reduce operator fatigue; a variable drive speed; and a water hose connector for easy deck cleaning.

When you have a lot of lawn to mow, there’s the new R 120S Rider. It has a front-mount, 42-inch side discharge deck, which offers excellent visibility and makes trimming and mowing underneath overhanging objects easier than ever.

These mowers are available exclusively at Lowe’s and authorized Husqvarna dealers.

Learn More

Further facts are at www.husqvarna.com, www.facebook.com/HusqvarnaUSA and Twitter. Learn more about green spaces and people’s feeling toward green spaces at http://greenspacereport.com/.

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Top Tips For Remodeling A Basement

(NAPSI)—A remodeled basement can add comfort and value to a home. In fact, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, basement remodels are still one of the top remodeling projects and typically consist of about a third of the entire home’s available space.

When it comes to finishing a basement, whether it’s for a “man cave,” laundry room, playroom or home office, hiding concrete or cinder blocks behind drywall, wood and carpet is the easy part.

However, building new spaces that won’t encourage mold and mildew or become damaged by condensation is much more difficult. That’s because since concrete is porous and in contact with the cool ground, it can become a condensing surface for water vapor.

As a result, moist drywall and carpet can begin to grow mold and mildew, causing musty odors and decay; this can even become a health risk for those who live in the home.

High relative humidity in the basement can also affect the electronics, furniture, woodwork, painted surfaces, and personal belongings that are stored there. To help, here are some tips.

Moisture Control Techniques

1. To manage exterior moisture, ensure that the rain gutters are in working order and the foundation is properly graded to carry water away from the house.

2. To manage interior moisture, fix cracks and faulty seams and add the proper vapor barriers and insulation.

3. Use proper construction methods and materials to control water, air movement and vapor diffusion.

4. Use an Energy Star−rated dehumidifier to control high humidity levels.

Several organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association, and American Medical Association, all recommend using dehumidifiers to maintain humidity levels of 50 percent or less in the home, like the ones offered by Santa Fe.

Santa Fe high-capacity dehumidifiers are designed to be energy efficient and operate effectively in the cooler temperatures of a basement. That can help maintain the structural integrity of your home, inhibit mold growth, and improve the indoor air quality of your home by removing odor-causing moisture.

Also, remember that air in the basement is also circulating through the rest of the home, contributing to poor indoor air quality and causing uncomfortably high humidity levels. This may lead to costly problems such as mold growth, increased air conditioner loads, and swelling of millwork and cabinetry.

To learn more, visit www.DehumidifierSolutions.com.

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Simple Tips For A Cleaner, More Efficient Home

(NAPSI)—There’s good news for those who want to get a handle on cleaning their home but don’t know where to start.

The experts from the Institute of Home Science have some practical advice and useful guidelines to help you get your home in tip-top shape. From the laundry room to the kitchen, here’s how to kick- start your cleaning.

The laundry room: This is the room where stains are treated, clothes are folded, and washers and dryers take on all sorts of fabrics. It can be a daunting place, but a little effort goes a long way.

• Organization is key—Make sure to pre-sort your laundry into designated baskets for lights, darks and whites. When you’re ready, your laundry will be too.

• Less is more—Don’t overload the washer or dryer. Clothes will come out cleaner and less wrinkled when given room to move freely.

• Go easy on the suds—If you have a high-efficiency (HE) washer, use only HE detergents in the proper amount to help prevent oversudsing and the buildup of odor-causing residue. With a regular washing machine, remember that concentrated detergents require using smaller amounts.

• Don’t overdry your clothes—Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a lack of moisture that causes your clothes to shrink.

Next, the kitchen: This room is typically both the busiest and messiest room in a home. So how do you keep it looking spotless?

• Declutter the countertops—Rather than displaying your small kitchen appliances, store them in easy-access cabinets and take out only when needed. Appliance garages have become a popular feature in newer homes to create a streamlined kitchen experience.

• Shield your cookware—To make cleanup a breeze after cooking or baking, line your cookware with tinfoil before placing in the oven. After dinner, just toss out the foil and wipe down any spilled residue.

• Stop prerinsing the dishes—Remember, most dishwashers are designed to sense the amount of soil on the dishes and will run the cycle accordingly. Scrape food items off, but there is no need to rinse.

• When in doubt, throw it out—Start clearing the refrigerator by putting contents on the counter. No idea how long that mustard has been in the fridge? Get rid of it. Use the three “E” rules as your guidelines—if it’s expired, empty or makes you say “ew,” toss it.

With over 100 years of practice, Whirlpool Corporation knows a thing or two about household chores; this practical experience led to the creation of the Whirlpool Institute of Home Science. For more ideas and information, visit the Institute of Home Science on Facebook.

 

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Make Your Water Work Harder This Year

(NAPSI)—Many homeowners looking to maximize the efficiency of their outdoor water use turn to drip irrigation systems as a solution for keeping weeds, diseases, garden pests, scorching heat and high water bills at bay. Drip irrigation systems are easily set up by even a novice gardener and will deliver an immediate water savings as they place the exact amount of water slowly and evenly at the plant’s roots—where it’s needed most.

Here are some drip basics to help you save water:

1. Start by estimating the water needs of your plants. Knowledgeable and helpful staff at a garden center can assist you in determining just how much water your plants need to be healthy. Different plants will have different requirements depending on their variety and the conditions of your yard, such as sun exposure and soil type.

2. Drip systems can either be incorporated into an existing automatic sprinkler system or through a manual connection to an outdoor hose faucet. A manual hose-end connection can also be easily automated by using a battery-operated timer such as the Rain Bird Electronic Garden Hose Watering Timer.

3. For optimum performance, keep your water pressure under control with a pressure regulator. These simple devices keep your water pressure in the ideal range of within 20 to 50 psi. Drip systems are most efficient when operating at the correct pressure.

4. Include a filter in your system to prevent clogging. Drip uses smaller diameter openings than traditional sprinklers, so tiny bits of dirt and debris may clog your system if you don’t use a filter. The good news is that filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

A well-designed drip irrigation system will lose practically no water to runoff, deep percolation or evaporation. Steady, consistent watering can also lower plant stress, which leads to healthier and happier plants while lowering your water bill.

Rain Bird, a global leader in irrigation technology, offers an online step-by-step guide to drip irrigation in addition to interactive demos and a drip calculation program to help homeowners and contractors design and schedule drip irrigation systems correctly. You can check it out at www.rainbird.com.

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