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Deborah Bremner's Blog

By Deborah Bremner | Agent in 90049
  • Winterize your home…even in California?

    Posted Under: General Area in California, Remodel & Renovate in California, Property Q&A in California  |  January 9, 2012 3:04 PM  |  1,967 views  |  1 comment
    The cold weather is finally here, so it's time to make the small changes that will make big differences in your energy consumption, comfort, and safety around your home this winter.

    Inside your home


    ✔Check smoke detectors: Don't neglect that smoke detector any longer! Take some time right now to check the operation of detectors, and to change the batteries. If you have an older house with a limited number of smoke detectors, install additional ones at each sleeping room, and make sure there is one centrally located on each level of the home as well.

    ✔Install a carbon monoxide detector: As houses get closed up for winter, the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning from malfunctioning gas appliances increases substantially. If you have a furnace, fireplace, water heater, or other appliance that's fueled by propane or natural gas, or if you have an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide detector. They're available inexpensively from many home centers and other retailers, and offer easy, plug-in installation.

    ✔Service your heating system: Perform a complete system check of your furnace annually, either by yourself or by a trained furnace technician. Check for worn belts, lubrication needs or other servicing that might be required; refer to your owner's manual for specific suggestions, and follow any manufacturer safety instructions for shutting the power and fuel to the furnace before servicing. Check the condition of duct joints and insulation, and of course, change the filter.

    ✔Upgrade your thermostat: An older thermostat that's a couple of degrees off can result in a lot of wasted energy, and so can forgetting to set the thermostat down at night. You can take care of both of those problems with an upgrade to a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are digital and typically very accurate, and they allow for easy, set-and-forget programming of temperatures for different times of the day, including energy-saving nighttime and workday setbacks.

    Outside your home


    ✔Trim trees: Trees that are overhanging your home can be a real hazard. They can deposit debris on your roof, scrape against shingles during wind storms, and, worst of all, snap off with potentially devastating results. Have a professional tree trimming service inspect the condition of overhanging tree limbs, and safely cut them back as needed.

    ✔Check the gutters: Clear the gutters of leaf and pine needle debris, and check that the opening between the gutter and the downspout is unobstructed. Look for loose joints or other structural problems with the system, and repair them as needed using pop rivets. Use a gutter sealant to seal any connections where leaks may be occurring.

    ✔Break out the caulk: A few hours and few tubes of caulking can make a big difference in both your heating bills and your comfort levels this winter. Caulk around windows, doors, pipes, exterior electrical outlets, and any other exterior penetrations where cold air might enter. Use a good grade of acrylic latex caulk, either in a paintable white or, if you don't want to paint, use clear.

    ✔Drain sprinkler systems: In colder areas, now is the time to be thinking about having your sprinkler and irrigation systems blown out. You can rent a compressor and do this yourself, or contact a landscape or irrigation system installer and have them handle this for you. This is also the time to shut off outdoor faucets and install freeze-proof faucet covers as needed.

    ✔Adjust exterior grade: Fall is also a great time to look at the grade around your home, and make sure that everything slopes away from your foundation to avoid costly problems with ground water. Add, remove or adjust soil grades as necessary for good drainage.

    ✔Change light timers: If you have exterior lights that are controlled by timers, including low-voltage ones, check the timer settings. Change the "on" times to an earlier hour to reflect the earlier winter darkness, so that you always have adequate outside light available.

    Deborah Bremner
    The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
    REALTOR, 00588885,
    ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
    (O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
    (D) (310) 800-2954
  • Which Home Improvement Projects Offer the Best Returns?

    Posted Under: Home Selling, Remodel & Renovate, Design & Decor  |  January 5, 2012 12:00 PM  |  1,655 views  |  No comments
    When it comes to remodeling, exterior replacement projects have routinely rewarded home owners with more bang for their buck. This year is no different: REALTORS® recently rated many exterior improvements as among the most valuable home investment projects as part of the 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. 

    "This year's Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report shows the value of putting your home's best façade forward, so to speak," said National Association of REALTORS® President Moe Veissi. "Inexpensive exterior replacement projects are not only crucial to a home's regular upkeep, but are also expected to recoup close to 70 percent of costs. Specific exterior projects such as siding, window and door replacements are part of regular home maintenance, so many homeowners are already undertaking them. These projects also do not require expensive materials and they have the added bonus of instantly adding curb appeal."

    HouseLogic.com, NAR's consumer Web site, includes dozens of remodeling projects, from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, which indicate the recouped value of the project based on a national average. According to the Cost vs. Value, seven of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. REALTORS® judged an upscale fiber-cement siding replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 78 percent of costs recouped upon resale.

    Two additional siding replacement projects were in the top 10, including foam-backed vinyl siding, expected to return 69.6 percent of costs, and upscale vinyl siding, expected to recoup 69.5 percent of costs. Three door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,200 on average and expected to recoup 73 percent of costs.

    The upscale garage door replacement jumped seven spots to number six this year, primarily due to the average cost of the project declining more than 15 percent nationally. The upscale and midrange garage door replacement projects are expected to return more than 71 percent of costs. One window replacement project - upscale vinyl - rounded out the last exterior replacement project in the top 10, expected to recoup 69.1 percent of costs.

    The 2011-12 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels, and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 14th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood LLC, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

  • Did You Know?

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate, Property Q&A  |  December 9, 2011 3:09 PM  |  2,358 views  |  No comments

    The average cost to replace a heating system is $___________.

    Answer: $2,442

    *As reported in the survey A Study of Homeowners’ Appliance and Home System Service Experiences, Decision Analyst (2011)

    Deborah Bremner
    The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
    REALTOR, 00588885, 
    ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
    (O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
    (D) (310) 800-2954
  • Five Tips to Stage Your Home for Few $$$$

    Posted Under: Home Selling, Remodel & Renovate, Design & Decor  |  September 16, 2011 8:46 AM  |  1,261 views  |  2 comments

    Professional home stagers set up furniture, decor and accessories to present homes in their best light.  But their services can be costly.  In this economy, more and more sellers want to "do it themselves", and are looking to their Realtor for advice on how to save money but get a polished look.

    Using the tricks of professional home stagers, you can "stage your home" to sell.

    Show up the strengths, downplay the weaknesses

    The key element to staging your home like a professional is to highlight the strengths and draw attention away from weaknesses.

    Organize all of the cabinets, and remove clutter.  Messy cabinets make it look like you don't have enough storage. Storage sells. This is the #1 trick I tell my clients, and the biggest “bang for the buck” trick you can use.  Toys, tools, and extra countertop appliances must go.  Clean out medicine cabinets.

    Too many books?  Pack most of them up, and keep a few “special items” to stack on the bookshelves.  Place them alongside a few treasured or unusual pieces to break up the space. If there is a weakness in a room, then decorate the room to distract attention from it.  

    Float your furniture

    When arranging furniture, make the rooms look spacious. Control the flow of the room. Home sellers tend to push furniture against walls to create space, but "floating" the furniture -- creating furniture groupings away from walls -- adds space to the room.

    For example, group a love seat, coffee table and two wingback chairs across from the sofa, all in the middle of the living room on a decorative rug. Furniture should be in good condition, but less is more.  The bare minimum looks best.

    Repurpose rooms

    Give each room a purpose. If you have a spare bedroom that can be used as a storage room, start by decluttering the room. Instead of a junk room, create a craft room, sewing room, reading room, office or game room.  When each room has a purpose, you show how the space can be used -- without clutter.

    Rethink your lighting

    Lighting makes a home appear welcoming and inviting. Unfortunately, many homes do not have the proper lighting to create this ambience.

    This is not the time for saving energy.  Replace low-wattage light bulbs with higher wattages. Have 100 watts of light for every 50 square feet of the room. Each room should have three types of lighting: general (overhead), task (pendant or reading lighting), and accent (lamps or sconces).

    If you are fortunate enough to have natural lighting, then use this to your advantage when showing your home. Open all the shades halfway so light streams in. Remove heavy drapes -- they block light and make rooms appear smaller.  Try light linen panels for privacy yet airiness.  

    Turn bathrooms into spas

    Buyers are looking for restful and relaxing spaces to make their home a sanctuary.  Add accessories to your bathroom that transform it from a regular bathroom into a spa. When you visit a spa, you often find large and small towels rolled up and displayed inside of a basket or arranged on a decorative tray. Adding candles (lit or unlit) is another way to create a peaceful and calming atmosphere in the bath.  Fill the tub for photographs as well.  It's all about creating a welcoming space.

    No matter what the situation is in the housing market, you want to make your home as appealing as possible to potential buyers. Presentation is everything and can mean the difference between offers rolling in and your house languishing on the market.

    If you would like our CHECKLIST FOR SELLING YOUR HOME, please feel free to contact us below.
    Deborah Bremner
    The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
    REALTOR, 00588885, 
    ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
    (O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
    (D) 818.564.6591


  • Home Staging Mistakes; Healthy Eating

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Remodel & Renovate, Design & Decor  |  August 10, 2011 10:04 AM  |  1,692 views  |  No comments
    In this publication, we show you how to avoid common home staging mistakes, simple ways to conserve water, and several websites for healthy recipes. 
    Deborah Bremner
    The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
    REALTOR, 00588885, 
    ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
    (O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
    (D) 818.564.6591
    Accredited Buyer Representative
  • Update on Landmarked Barry Building (Brentwood)

    Posted Under: Shopping & Local Amenities in Brentwood, Remodel & Renovate in Brentwood, In My Neighborhood in Brentwood  |  May 13, 2011 1:39 PM  |  2,528 views  |  No comments

    Barry Building (Milton Caughey, 1951)

    As mentioned in a previous blog post, I wrote about Brentwood's Barry Building, and my belief  that the landmarked Barry Building, which is a recognized historic resource, must be reused as part of the Green Hollow Square project.

    The comment period for the Green Hollow Square project draft environmental impact report (EIR) ended on April 20, and the members of the LA Conservancy, along with numerous residents and friends, sent in over 65 letters to the LA Planning Commission supporting the retention of the landmark building.

    The next step in the process will be the release of the final Environmental Impact   Report, which may occur later this year. Following the release of the final EIR, there will be an opportunity to provide comments before the Los Angeles Planning Commission and City Council.

    We will keep you updated on this issue. To stay informed of the latest developments and make sure your voice is heard, please subscribe to our email updates.

    Deborah Bremner
    The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
    REALTOR, 00588885, 
    ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
    (O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
    (D) 818.564.6591
    (C) 310-422-4288
    Accredited Buyer Representative|Certified Distressed Property Expert |Pre-Foreclosure Specialist Certified
    I want you to know that I appreciate any referrals from friends and associates who may be in the market to buy or sell real estate. You can count on me giving them the same high-quality service I provide to all of my clients.

  • May is Deck Safety Month

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Curb Appeal, Remodel & Renovate  |  April 20, 2011 5:06 PM  |  1,486 views  |  No comments

    Screen_shot_2011-04-20_at_4
    Your deck is the perfect place to enjoy the warm weather with friends and loved ones.

    The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks. For full article visit the NADRA site:www.nadra.org/DSM_checklist2008.pdf

    Split or Decaying Wood

    • Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is still sound. This includes the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house and a common source of deck failure), support posts and joists under the deck (if you can reach them), deck boards, railings and stairs.

    • Pay special attention to any areas that tend to remain damp or are in contact with fasteners. Use a tool like an ice pick or a screwdriver to penetrate the wood surface. If you can easily penetrate 1/4—1/2 inch, break off a sliver of wood without splinters, or the wood is soft and spongy, decay may be present.

    • This is also a good time to look for small holes in the wood, which may indicate insects.

    Stairs

    • Check any railings or handrails to be sure they are firmly held in place; check also the risers and stringers to be certain they are securely attached and not decayed.

    • If the area behind the stair treads is open, this opening should be no more than 4" high.

    • Also, always keep stair pathways clear of planters, décor, toys and other items that can present a tripping hazard.

    Cleaning and Maintenance

    • Clean away any leaves and debris, since these can be slippery and promote mildew.

    • If mildew is present or the deck coating has worn away, make time to clean and apply a new waterproofing coating. It can help prevent the split, decayed wood and loosened fasteners mentioned earlier.

    Screen_shot_2011-04-20_at_4

    Deborah Bremner
    The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
    REALTOR, 00588885, 
    ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
    (O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
    (D) 818.564.6591
    (C) 310-422-4288
    Certified Distressed Property Expert | Accredited Buyer Representative |Pre-Foreclosure Specialist Certified
    I want you to know that I appreciate any referrals from friends and associates who may be in the market to buy or sell real estate. You can count on me giving them the same high-quality service I provide to all of my clients. 

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