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Lisa Salinas-gruver's Blog

By Lisa Salinas-Gruver | Agent in Austin, TX
  • Easy Tips for a lush and green lawn!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Round Rock, Curb Appeal in Round Rock, In My Neighborhood in Round Rock  |  May 16, 2014 11:53 AM  |  380 views  |  No comments
    Easy Tips for a Lush Lawn and Garden Tired of being cooped up all winter? Hungering for a taste of spring? Your lawn and garden are ready to come out of hibernation too.


    Out with the old.
    Remove leaves, sticks and other seasonal debris to give your lawn a chance to breathe. Raking with a metal rake helps to dethatch the lawn and removes dead roots and grasses. Raking also clears the way for mowing, watering and planting seed.
    Bring on the seed.
    Before seeding, rake area of dead or weak grass. Smooth and level the surface. Add new topsoil and starter fertilizer and work them into the soil. Follow by rolling with a weighted roller. Then spread the seed by sowing half in one direction and the other half at a right angle. Rake and roll again.
     Mulch for moisture.
     Applying mulch around the bases of trees, shrubs and in flowerbeds helps keep plants moist and warm. After grass seeding, Lowes.com suggests mulching with a weed-free straw, like wheat straw, to keep the seed from blowing or washing away.
    Pour it on.
    When should you water? Only when your lawn needs it. Then, really drench it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), watering deeply as needed encourages the grass roots to dig deeper into the soil and promotes healthy growth.
    Raise your mower.
    Raise the cutting height of your lawnmower to keep grass roots shaded and cooler. Keep the grass on the longer side so it will grow thicker and healthier. For most turf grasses, try keeping the length at 2 ½- to 3 ½-inches.  
    Plant early spring vegetables. You can plant common early spring crops like peas, spinach, lettuces, leeks and potatoes if the soil is free of ice crystals and isn’t too wet. If the soil crumbles easily, it’s ready for planting. If you live in an area where a hard frost is still a possibility, make sure to cover the seedlings with items you have on hand, like overturned buckets or flowerpots. Prepare perennial beds. For new perennial flowerbeds, spread a 6-inch deep layer of peat moss, compost or manure and work it into the soil. For existing beds, clear out debris and spread a 2-inch layer of mulch to prevent weeds and to retain moisture. This is also an ideal time to divide and replant overgrown perennials by digging them up and splitting them apart.
    Prune fruit trees.
    If you want a juicy, tasty piece of fruit in a few months, prune your tree before new buds begin to bloom. Doing so keeps the tree from being stressed and helps produce a more plentiful crop. Also, make sure your tools are clean and sharp to ensure cleaner pruning cuts.
    Prune roses.
    To grow stately roses with beautiful, full blooms, prune them before or just as new growth appears. Cutting your roses back helps produce strong, healthy shoots with more abundant blooms. Of course, your local climate will determine the best time to prune. Watch out for persistent pests. Even pests need a place to stay warm over winter, which is why you may find slugs, snails or aphids in your perennials. Make sure to clear last year’s pots of summer plants since certain weevils like to live there and feed on the plant roots.
    Clip ornamental grasses.
    If you love the privacy and beauty of tall ornamental grasses, help them look their best by cutting them back to about 4-inches tall just as, or before, they show new growth. This is also a good time to divide grasses and move them to other areas of your yard.

    Courtesy of American Home Sheild

  • How to stretch your remodeling dollars!

    Posted Under: General Area in Austin, Curb Appeal in Austin, In My Neighborhood in Austin  |  January 23, 2012 1:21 PM  |  1,815 views  |  No comments

    Written by:  By G.M. Filisko
    First Impressions Matter

    Looking to convince dubious sellers that smart upgrades are worth it? This year’s Cost vs. Value Report, by Remodeling magazine, provides ample support. The annual survey uses input from REALTORS® in 80 cities to rank home remodeling projects according to those that bring the greatest cost recovered at resale. And looking at the five projects that topped the list, it’s clear that first impressions really do matter when sellers list their home.

    Big-bang projects can make or break a sale from the moment potential buyers exit their car. A midrange entry door replacement brings the highest payback at a national average of 102.1 percent, followed by a midrange garage door replacement, at 83.9 percent, and an upscale redo of the siding at 80 percent of the cost. Step into the home, and a midrange kitchen remodel recoups an average 72.8 percent. Gaze into the backyard, where a wood deck addition also generates a 72.8 percent return.

    Also noteworthy in this slow-growing economy is that four of the top five projects are "midrange" projects aimed at budget-conscious sellers. If sellers still balk at the price tag, take note of our tips for completing the projects on a tidy budget.

    Project 1: Entry Door Replacement (Steel)

    Cost $1,218
    Resale value $1,243
    Cost recouped 102.1%
    (National averages)

    What this project entails: Remove an existing 3-foot-by-6-foot-8-inch entry door and jambs and replace it with a new 20-gauge steel unit, including a clear dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs, and an aluminum threshold with a composite stop. The door is factory finished with the same color on both sides. Exterior brick-mold and 2.5-inch interior colonial or ranch casings in poplar or an equal choice are prefinished to match the door color. Replace the existing lock set with a new bored lock with a brass or antique brass finish.

    Project 2: Garage Door Replacement

    Cost $1,291
    Resale value $1,083
    Cost recouped 83.9%
    (National averages)

    What this project entails: Remove and dispose of the existing 16-by-7-foot garage door and tracks. Install a new 4-section garage door on new galvanized steel tracks; reuse the existing motorized opener. The new door is uninsulated, single-layer, embossed steel with two coats of baked-on paint, galvanized steel hinges, and nylon rollers. 10-year limited warranty.

    Project 3: Siding Replacement (Fiber Cement)

    Cost $13,382
    Resale value $10,707
    Cost recouped 80.0%
    (National averages)

    What this project entails: Replace 1,250 square feet of existing siding with new fiber-cement siding, factory primed and factory painted. Include all 4/4 (1-inch) and 5/4 (1.25-inch) trim using either fiber-cement boards or cellular PVC.

    Project 4: Kitchen Remodel (Minor)

    Cost $21,695
    Resale value $15,790
    Cost recouped 72.8%
    (National averages)

    What this project entails: In a functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops, leave cabinet boxes in place but replace the fronts with new raised-panel wood doors and drawers, including new hardware. Replace the wall oven and cooktop with new energy-efficient models. Replace laminate countertops; install a mid-priced sink and faucet. Repaint the trim, add wall covering, and remove and replace resilient flooring

    Project 5: Deck Addition (Wood)

    Cost $10,973
    Resale value $7,986
    Cost recouped 72.8%
    (National averages) 

    What this project entails: Add a 16-by-20-foot deck using pressure-treated joists supported by 4-by-4-foot posts anchored to concrete piers. Install pressure-treated deck boards in a simple linear pattern. Include a built-in bench and planter of the same decking material. Include stairs, assuming three steps to grade. Provide a complete railing system using pressure-treated wood posts, railings, and balusters.

    Cost vs. Value: Trending Down

    The annual Cost vs. Value Report, produced in cooperation with Remodeling magazine, shows the average cost recouped for 35 home improvement projects. In the 2010-11 report, slumping home values pulled the overall cost-to-value ratio down to its lowest level this decade, extending the downward trend that began in 2006. In fact, the slide from 63.8 percent to 60.0 percent in costs recouped is a slightly greater than last year’s 3.5-point drop. Projects were more affordable to complete, with construction costs down 10.4 percent overall, but those lower costs were overmatched by a 15.8 percent drop in estimated resale values, the biggest decline in the last eight years.

  • 8 things to do to sell your home faster in Austin, Texas

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Austin, Curb Appeal in Austin, Design & Decor in Austin  |  June 4, 2011 10:17 PM  |  957 views  |  No comments

    Even though we are in a buyers market, don't let that discourage you, here are two important things to remember.
    1. Homes are selling in the Austin, Texas area everyday, make yours one of them!
    2. It take only one person to buy your home, that is why it is important to make yours look the best in the neighborhood.

    Here are some tips from the National Association of Realtors.

    1. Buff up curb appeal. You’ve heard it before, but it’s critical to get buyers to want to look on the inside. Be objective. View listings from the street. Check the condition of the landscaping, paint, roof, shutters, front door, knocker, windows, house number, and even how window treatments look from the outside. Add something special—such as big flower pots or an antique bench — to help viewers remember house A from B.

    2. Enrich with color. Paint’s cheap, but forget the adage that it must be white or neutral. Just don’t let sellers get too avant-garde with jarring pinks, oranges, and purples. Recommend soft colors that say “welcome,” lead the eye from room to room, and flatter skin tones. Think soft yellows and pale greens. Tint ceilings a lighter shade.

    3. Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom. These make-or-break rooms can spur a sale. But besides making each squeaky clean and clutter-free, update the pulls, sinks, and faucets. In a kitchen, add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker. In the bathroom, hang a flat-screen TV to mimic a hotel. Room service, anyone?

    4. Add old-world patina. Make Andrea Palladio proud. Install crown molding at least six to nine inches in depth, proportional to the room’s size, and architecturally compatible. For ceilings nine feet high or higher, add dentil detailing, small tooth-shaped blocks used as a repeating ornament. It’s all in the details, after all.

    5. Screen hardwood floors. Buyers favor wood over carpet, but refinishing is costly and time-consuming. Screening cuts dust, time, and expense. What it entails: a light sanding, not a full stripping of color or polyurethane, then a coat of finish.

    6. Clean out, organize closets. Get sorting—organize your piles into “don’t need,” “haven’t worn,” and “keep.” Closets must be only half-full so buyers can visualize fitting their stuff in.

    7. Update window treatments. Buyers want light and views, not dated, fancy-schmancy drapes that darken. To diffuse light and add privacy, consider energy-efficient shades and blinds.

    8. Hire a home inspector. Do a preemptive strike, since busy home owners seek maintenance-free living. Fix problems before you list the home and then display receipts and wait for buyers to offer kudos to sellers for being so responsible.

    Even before you start prepping the house for sale, call a Realtor.  Have them come out and walk through each room with you, giving you ideas for the house.  As a Realtor, we see homes everyday with buyers and we know what is important!

    Selling?  Call me to do a free market analysis and free information on preparing your home for sale!!
    Lisa Salinas-Gruver 512-423-5781
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