Buying Homes With Swimming Pools


By Elizabeth Weintraub | March 25, 2018

My first home had an indoor swimming pool. One cold day I turned off the dehumidifier without realizing that the walls would perspire. The dampness caused subterranean termites to crawl out of hiding and zip around the room. As a result, I paid a small fortune for pest extermination, painting and floor covering replacement.

A lesson many pool owners learn the hard way, as I did, is that proper pool maintenance is of primary importance. Of course, most pools are located outdoors, which makes taking care of them a bit easier, but you should also find out if your pool complies with federal and local pool barrier laws regarding enhanced safety regulations.

Who Buys Homes With Swimming Pools?

When it comes to buying a home with a pool, most home buyers fall into one of three camps:

  • Home Buyers Who Won’t Look at Homes Without a PoolFor these buyers, a pool is paramount because a home is not a home without a pool. Pools are very popular in warm states, where they are used year round.
  • Home Buyers Who Won’t Look at Homes With a PoolBuyers with small children are often concerned about accidental deaths by drowning. Some buyers don’t want the upkeep or expense of a pool.
  • Home Buyers Who Never Thought About a PoolIf the home has everything else a buyer desires but it also has a pool, these buyers may face a quick decision they hadn’t anticipated. Some buy the house and fill the pool with rocks.

 Should You Buy a Home With a Pool?

According to the The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, the number of new in-ground pools in the U.S. is growing and, as of 2017, some 10.4 million homes in the United States have in-ground pools.

Studies show that most low-end and many middle-range buyers do not want a home with a pool. Higher-end homes are more likely to have pools, but some are never used. Some pools exist for decoration. If you enjoy swimming, then a pool might be right for you. But wisdom says buy a home with a pool only if you will use it. Otherwise, your sparkling pool could turn into an expensive pond for ducks. Ask Tony Soprano.

Types of Swimming Pools

If you’re planning to install a swimming pool, hire a reputable pool contractor. In California, for example, contractors who do more than $500 of work on a pool must be licensed and are required to have a swimming pool specialty classification for the license. The cost for a new pool starts around $30,000, but can easily soar past six figures, depending on desired amenities such as fountains, landscaping or decking.

  • Gunite Pools Gunite pool construction, which is achieved by spraying a mixture of concrete and sand into a pool-sized hole, is the most popular. Unlike above-ground pools, which are temporary, these in-ground pools are permanent structures. Gunite pools can be laid out in almost any shape the home owner desires and last for years. But gunite is pricey. It also doesn’t last forever.
  • Vinyl Pools Vinyl in-ground pools are generally rectangular, but other configurations are available. They are less expensive than gunite because the pools are lined with vinyl; however, the liners often need replacement after 10 years. They are popular in areas where temperatures dip below freezing and the pools are drained in the winter. To prepare for a vinyl pool, the ground is excavated and support walls are constructed from a variety of materials such as wood, steel, fiberglass or aluminum.
  • Above-Ground Pools The National Association of Realtors says above-ground pools add no value to the home because they are portable. Above-ground is an inexpensive option for a pool. Some home owners buy do-it-yourself kits and assemble their own above-ground pools. Unlike in-ground pools, which can require weeks to complete, these pools can be installed in a few days. When I am selling a home with an above-ground pool, I often ask the seller to remove it.

The Advantages of Owning a Home With a Pool

  • Many people believe pools increase the aesthetic value of their yard.
  • People who host a lot of parties utilize their pools as an entertainment center, and kids love pools.
  • Pools provide an easy way to instantly cool down on hot days.Some people use swimming pools exclusively for in-water exercises and say pools add health benefits for them.
  • Swimming pools can bring added value at resale, especially in hot climates.

The Disadvantages of Owning a Home With a Pool

  • Regular maintenance. Pools require chemicals, cleaning and over time, repair.
  • Children can drown. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4, says Safekids.
  • Pool homes appeal to fewer buyers.
  • Pools consume valuable yard space, and in a small yard, they can overwhelm.
  • It might cost more to insure a home with a pool, and heating it can drive up utility bills.

Do Pools Add or Detract From the Value of a Home?

Whether a pool adds value to a home depends on where you live. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the three most popular states for pool homes are California, Arizona and Florida. The National Association of Realtors says an in-ground pool adds about 7.7% more in value to the home’s market value. However, in colder climates, such as Minnesota, a pool may add no value at all.

Pam Erickson, a Realtor at Coldwell Banker Burnet in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, says, “We price the house as though the pool does not exist and hope it does not detract from the house. But it most always does. So I keep showing until that ONE buyer comes through.”

Erickson says there is a growing segment of baby boomers who pass up buying a vacation home to invest in their own back-yard paradise. They install complete pool systems boasting waterfalls, hot tubs, climbing walls and extensive landscaping. That’s a lot of money for a pool, she says, especially in an area where pools are used three months out of the year.

Credit: The Balance | TheBalance.com

Who to Notify When You Move: The Ultimate 15-Point Checklist

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By  | Jun 26, 2018

Knowing whom to notify when you move is essential to a smooth transition. We know, we know, calling up your electric company is probably the last thing on your mind while you’re throwing your life’s belongings in boxes and moving from point A to B. But trust us, if you let those notifications slide, there are consequences!

So, in an effort to help you move with minimum traumas down the road, here’s a checklist of whom to notify when you move—and how to get it done in a jiffy. Make sure to peruse this list at least a week before you move to make sure you don’t miss anyone big!

1. The post office

You knew this one, but you might not know that you don’t have to schlep to an actual post office anymore. Visit the U.S. Postal Service site to start your official change of address.

2. Your employer

Odds are your boss and immediate co-workers know that you’re moving, because you’ve been complaining about it nonstop—but what about your human resources department? Even if your paychecks get deposited directly into your bank account, you still want tax forms, retirement account statements, and other important documents sent to your new address, as these papers may contain personal information that could be used to steal your identify.

3. Utilities

Forget to file a change of address for your utilities, and guess what happens: You end up paying the electric bill for your former home’s new resident! If you prefer to pay only your own bill, you’ll need to update your address with phone, cable, and internet providers, as well as your electric and gas companies.

Depending on where you live, you may also have to notify the water department, sewer utility company, and/or garbage collector.

When transferring your electric service, make sure service at your new house starts either the morning of your move or the evening before—otherwise you might be spending your first night or two in the dark!

4. Banks, credit card issuers, and other financial institutions

Usually, you can update your mailing address for your bank, credit card issuers, investment accounts, loan providers, and other financial institutions online. Even if you use an online-only bank or credit union, this is a crucial step. Again, you don’t want sensitive information sent to your old mailing address.

5. The DMV

After moving, you may have to file a change of address with the Department of Motor Vehicles, update your car registration, or even get a new driver’s license—and some states have tight deadlines for these changes.

If you’re new to California, for example, you must register your vehicle within 20 days of moving into your new home. Generally, if you’re making an in-state move, you can submit a change-of-address request online, but requirements vary, so check with your local DMV office.

Pro tip: DMV.org/relocation provides customized guides for moving from one state to another.

6. Insurance providers

Health insurance, dental insurance, car insurance, life insurance, and homeowners insurance providers need your current address on your policy. If you don’t update these accounts, you could potentially have trouble filing a claim.

7. The IRS

Tax returns and other forms may contain sensitive information (e.g., your Social Security number), so let Uncle Sam know you’re moving. You can file a change of address with the IRS by mail and phone, or in person.

Note: It can take four to six weeks for a change of address request to fully process, so if it’s tax season and you’re waiting for your refund, keep that in mind.

8. Cellphone provider

Cellphone companies require customers to update their billing address. This is mandatory, since your primary residence determines the tax rates on your wireless bill.

9. Social Security Administration

Although the Social Security Administration announced last year that it would send fewer statements in the mail in an attempt to cut down costs, individuals who are 60 and over, who aren’t receiving benefits, and who don’t have a My Social Security account online still receive paper statements. These statements contain detailed information on your earnings and contributions you’ve paid through payroll taxes—information that should be kept private. You can submit a change-of-address application online or by calling 800-772-1213.

Also, don’t forget to update your address with Medicare, Medicaid, or any other government programs.

10. Voter registration

If you’re a registered voter, an address change is required if you want your vote counted in upcoming elections. In some states, when you update your address with the DMV, your address on your voter registration will automatically update, but contact the office of your registrar of voters to confirm.

11. Your doctor, dentist, and other health specialists

To avoid missing and falling behind on your medical bills, update your mailing address with all of your health care providers.

12. TSA Precheck/Global Entry

If you hate waiting in long lines at customs or security at the airport, you may already have a TSA Precheck or Global Entry pass that lets you take an express lane. (TSA Precheck is valid for U.S. domestic flights, while Global Entry expedites U.S. customs screening for international air travelers.) But to keep your membership valid, you’ll have to update the address on your account by calling 855-347-8371 or submitting an update request online.

13. Shopping websites

Many online shopping sites have a one-click checkout feature that lets you save time, but this could prove problematic if you forget to change your address and order something to your old house. Take a few minutes to update your address on Amazon, eBay, and other online shopping accounts.

14. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions

Don’t want your magazines or newspapers arriving on your old doorstep? (Do you still have magazine and newspaper subscriptions?) Either update your mailing address online, or call customer service and ask for an address change over the phone. Do the same for any other subscription services you have. (If your Blue Apron ingredients show up at your old house, good luck cooking dinner tonight!)

15. Family and friends

Of course, you want to share the exciting news with your relatives and close friends. But announcing the big move on Facebook won’t cut it. Some people don’t check Facebook on the reg—and (gasp) some folks aren’t on social media, period. And you really don’t want Grandma mailing your birthday and holiday gifts to your old address, do you?

Knowing whom to notify when you move is essential to a smooth transition. We know, we know, calling up your electric company is probably the last thing on your mind while you’re throwing your life’s belongings in boxes and moving from point A to B. But trust us, if you let those notifications slide, there are consequences!

So, in an effort to help you move with minimum traumas down the road, here’s a checklist of whom to notify when you move—and how to get it done in a jiffy. Make sure to peruse this list at least a week before you move to make sure you don’t miss anyone big!

Source: Realtor.com

10 Ways to Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

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Nothing eases the pains of moving like a fully refunded security deposit. Make sure you get your cash back with these expert tips.

Getting your security deposit back after you move may feel like an impossible feat, but it isn’t. Remember that your security deposit is essentially your money, so not all hope is lost when it’s time to move out.

“It’s the landlord’s obligation to return [the deposit] at the end of the lease,” says Abbie Philpott with move-out company Pleased to Clean You.

Here’s some expert advice for making sure your security deposit money goes back into your wallet — where it belongs.

Start planning when you move in

Take precautions when you move in to save time (and money) when you move out. To avoid getting charged for damage, use removable poster putty or removable hooks to hang things, and use felt pads to protect wood floors from scratches.

Stay organized

You know all of those rental-related documents you received when you moved in? Olivia Joyce with end-of-tenancy cleaning company Move Out Mates suggests reading them thoroughly and keeping all of them in one place.

“Research the proper procedures for ending your rental agreement, and comply with them,” she says.

Document everything

Unfortunately, “fair wear and tear” is subjective.

“I’ve seen cases in which landlords stretch this phrase to the limit,” Philpott says. She urges tenants to photograph everything in the rental property to serve as proof of the property’s condition.

While photo documentation is great, sometimes it’s not enough.

Take a video walkthrough of the unit when you first move in and again when you move out,” suggest John and Melissa Steele with Team Steele San Diego Homes.

If the property manager tries to keep your deposit, your video will serve as proof that you kept the rental in quality condition.

“It makes it very hard for them to argue with you,” the Steeles add. “It has helped us save a few hundred dollars, and it only takes a few minutes.”

Further, keep a record of each time you contacted your property manager to report maintenance issues. And whenever reporting maintenance requests, do so via email or through a reporting system that sends you a confirmation. This serves as proof for your record keeping.

Contact your landlord

Confirm how far in advance you need to alert your landlord about your move-out date. While your rental agreement may already note this, a quick conversation serves as both a helpful confirmation and a courtesy to your landlord.

Clean thoroughly

In addition to the standard vacuuming and dusting, plan to do a serious deep clean if you want all of your deposit money back.

“This means behind and beneath appliances, plus details like light switches, door frames and more,” says Joyce.

And don’t forget to confirm whether your rental property is required to be professionally cleaned. If so, keep your service receipt as proof for your landlord.

Move out on the same day as your roommates

If possible, coordinate a move-out day with your roommates.

“You don’t want to leave it up to your roommate to make sure the apartment is perfectly cleaned and ready for the next tenant,” says Seth Wanta, Chicago resident. “You also don’t want your roommates to move out before you, leaving any junk for you to clean up. Make it a team effort!”

Do a mock inspection with friends

Invite some trusted friends over and go through your move-out checklist together. You may be surprised by how many things you would have missed if you went through your checklist solo.

Joyce suggests marking every damage or deterioration, because some of them are the landlord’s responsibility, while others should be deducted from your deposit.

Once you know who’s responsible for what, you can fix any issue that occurred during your occupancy.


Have your landlord do a mock inspection

Ask your landlord to do an unofficial inspection before your move-out date. This not only helps you assess what needs fixing but also allows both of you to get on the same page about what needs additional cleaning or repairs.

Give yourself a few days between this inspection and your move-out day so you have time to correct anything your landlord may be unhappy with.

Do necessary repairs

Small repairs like replacing light bulbs, filling nail holes and unclogging drains are small things that make a big difference.

“They’ll take you no more than an hour to complete, but they’ll raise the general condition of the property,” says Lauren Haynes, a supervisor with Star Domestic Cleaners. “The landlord will definitely appreciate the work done and will be less likely to claim deductions from the deposit.”

Additionally, Kristen Chuber with Paintzen advises painting a coat of the original paint color on any walls with scuffs or holes. Chuber suggests either going a DIY route for around $50 or hiring a service and asking for cheaper “whiteboxing” rates.

“Depending on the condition of your walls, this could be more cost-effective than losing that money out of your deposit, especially if your rental is small,” she says.

And if you don’t have the funds for either option? “The next best thing I’ve seen is the Magic Eraser,” Chuber adds. “It’s been my BFF when it comes to getting rid of scuffs and marks.”

Research local laws

It’s illegal in most states for a landlord to keep your security deposit without explanation, so research renter’s rights related to security deposits at the city, county and state level.

Good starting points for this information are the websites of your state’s attorney general and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. While your property manager should already be aware of these regulations, you should be too. Landlord-tenant laws exist to help you, but be your own advocate.

Finally, while following these 10 suggestions will certainly go a long way, so does being nice. Patience and politeness are memorable qualities, especially if you live in a large apartment complex where plenty of other residents are moving out around the same time as you.

If thinking about the process of getting your security deposit back is daunting, rest assured that it doesn’t have to be. With some planning and clear, considerate communication, you’re well on your way to getting your hard-earned deposit money back into your hands.

All photos from Shutterstock.


Source: Zillow Porchlight 


Fire by Dryer! Why These Appliances Can Make Your House Go Up in Flames

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By  | May 29, 2018


Appliances make household chores so much more tolerable. Dishwashers clean dirty glassware and eliminate the need for scrubbing. Ovens help you make dinner in minutes flat. Dryers … well, you get the gist. They’re incredibly helpful and will last for years—decades even—when used and maintained correctly.

But did you know that appliances can also burn your home to the ground?

Not to be overly dramatic, but appliance fires are a real concern to those who operate household appliances, especially those that generate heat, like dishwashers or space heaters.


So let’s take a look at appliances that could start a fire—and what you can do to reduce your chances of becoming a statistic.

Older appliances are more hazardous, but modern devices can have problems too

Modern home appliances are safer today than they were a generation ago, according to Kenneth Kutchek, PE, CFEI, a Detroit-based electrical engineer at Robson. “Older appliances can pose a fire hazard because they may lack modern safety protections, such as over temperature protection, over current protection, auto off controls, self-regulating heating elements, and anti-tip switches.” He also says that older appliances may have been heavily used during their lifetime.

However, Kutchek acknowledges that problems exist even with modern, popular brands. “Foreign manufacturing and foreign component suppliers have had increasing quality problems associated with extremely rapid growth,” he explains.

What causes the fires?

There’s no single culprit responsible for appliance fires; it’s a mixture of design flaws and improper use, aka human error. Dryers, for example, can catch fire because of common electrical malfunctions, according to Kutchek.

But stove fires are most common of all, and usually happen when someone is being negligent while cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments all around the United States respond to an average of 466 home cooking fires each day. “Forty percent of home fires are related to cooking, and unattended cooking accounts for one-third of these fires,” says Kutchek.

Which appliances can catch fire?

So, which appliances do you have to watch out for? All of them, but mostly kitchen appliances. Kutchek offers this (lengthy!) list of household appliances that have the most potential to go up in flames:

  • Refrigerator
  • Oven
  • Stove
  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage disposal
  • Microwave oven
  • Exhaust hood
  • Coffee pot/coffee maker
  • Toaster and toaster oven
  • Hot plate
  • Steamer
  • Slow cooker
  • Pressure cooker
  • Waffle iron
  • Blender
  • Can opener
  • Clothes washer
  • Clothes dryer
  • Iron
  • Air conditioner
  • Space heater
  • Dehumidifier
  • Box fan/oscillating fan
  • Ceiling fan

Causes of appliance fires

These issues can affect all electrical appliances in your home. To give you a clear picture of the causes of appliance fires, we broke these lists up by product defects and user errors:

Product defects:

  • Lack of safety protections
  • Poor manufacturing quality
  • Overheating due to poor wiring design
  • Poor heating insulation
  • Poor-quality components

User error:

  • Failure to use the product according to the manufacturers instructions
  • Continuing to use a worn or damaged product
  • Failure to keep combustible items, clutter, and debris away from appliances
  • Failure to clean and maintain appliances
  • Buying cheap, low-quality, off-brand products from foreign countries that do not meet U.S. safety standards
  • Overheated extension cords that are too small, too long for the purpose, or are hidden under rugs

How to avoid appliance fires

Some of the causes of appliance fires provide clues for how to avoid them. “Most people do not follow the recommended installation, use, and care of their appliances,” says Ken Canziani, IAAI-CFI, senior fire investigator at Unified Investigations & Sciences, Inc. in Sacramento, CA. “Many issues or fires can be prevented if people are aware of and follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.”

Many fires originate from dryers, which is why it’s important (and easy!) to keep the lint filter clean and emptied. “Lint builds up in the dryer, and not all of it is captured by the lint filter tray,” he says. “A buildup in the exhaust duct or base of the dryer can come into contact with the heater and ignite.” He also advises against putting cloths or rags with chemicals or oils on them in the laundry, since these items are combustible.

It’s also a good idea to check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s list of recalls to see if your appliance is on it. If a product has been recalled, you should stop using it immediately.

Kutchek provides these additional tips to keep your home safe and fire-free:

  • Replace frayed or damaged power cords. Power switches can also become worn or damaged over time. Repair or replace appliances if worn or damaged.
  • Take the time to read the appliance owners manual, and use the appliance according to the manufacturers instructions.
  • Do not operate appliances unattended. This includes ranges, ovens, dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers, slow cookers, dehumidifiers, and space heaters. Yes, this may be inconvenient, but its better to be safe than sorry, because too many fires start during the night, or when no one is home.
  • Keep combustible objects clear of heat-generating appliances. This includes curtains, towels, paper towels or napkins, cookbooks, and paper bags.
  • Keep appliances clean. Clean grease and other flammable debris from stovetops, range burners, and range hoods. Clean and vacuum under and behind refrigerators and ovens. Clean and vacuum under and behind clothes washers and dryers. Clean crumbs from toasters. Clean dryer lint traps regularly. Clean lint out of the vent pipe and outlet at least once a year (or more often if you notice that clothes take longer to dry). Clean air intakes on air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and space heaters.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • Do not use extension cords with your appliances. But if you must, be sure to use the proper size of extension cord (with proper current rating). Inspect extension cords for damage before each use.
  • Verify that a smoke alarm is installed on each level of your home and in every bedroom. Test and verify that all smoke alarms are operational. Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years.



Source: Realtor.com

7 Pool Safety Tips to Ensure You Have a Splashing Good Time This Summer

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By  | May 25, 2018

Pools are fun. But pools are also dangerous, and maintaining yours is a big responsibility. From handling potentially hazardous chemicals to safeguarding access and stocking all the right safety equipment, pool upkeep is no joke. However, the more preparation and attention you put into your backyard pool area, the safer your home will be.

The following pool safety tips will help make your summer season in the backyard the best one yet.

1. Put up barriers

A pool barrier will delay the time it takes a child to get into your pool, and may help prevent drowning. Each city or state has its own pool fence laws that spell out standards, such as minimum fence height, spacing, gate specifications, and more. In some communities, you may not be able to get an insurance policy without a gate. The general standard is that fences must be a minimum of 4 feet high (5 feet is ideal), but check with your local zoning or building authority for the specific laws in your area.

Pool covers can also prevent accidents, and should be used year round. Maria Bella, an aquatics and drowning expert at Robson Forensic in Lancaster, PA, recommends purchasing a pool cover that meets the ASTM International standards. ASTM International is an organization that develops and publishes technical standards for many varieties of products.

2. Consider a pool alarm

A pool alarm will notify you when anything that moves enters the vicinity. Some pool alarms are placed inside the pool and detect wave activity—up to 15 pounds of water displacement—and will emit a loud sound if motion is detected.

Bella also recommends the Safety Turtle wireless alarm system for kids. When they’re playing outdoors, they wear wristbands outfitted with a sensor; if the sensor gets wet, an alarm will sound. 

3. Make sure your pool is up to code

A pool inspector who is credentialed by the National Swimming Pool Foundation or the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals should be able to tell you if the pool itself or the surrounding deck material is cracked, damaged, or dangerous. You also can try finding a code official by contacting your local building or health department.

Safety requirements vary based on where you live, but the following general requirements should be fulfilled:

  • Gates need to be self-closing and should latch to lock.
  • Fences need to be at least 4 feet high and enclose the entire pool.
  • The main drain or bottom suction outlettypically located in the center of the poolcan be a drowning hazard if the cover is not properly secured.
  • With any water features like slides or diving boards, youll want to follow the manufacturers safety guidelines.
  • If part of your enclosed barrier includes one wall of your home, the windows on that side of the house may not open more than 4 inches.

4. Safely store chemicals

All pool chemicals need to be stored out of reach in a secure, well-ventilated area, and away from AC or heating units. Paint, gasoline, and other chemicals also need to be stored separately.

5. Use chemicals with caution

When you’re putting chemicals in the water, be sure to wear gloves and safety goggles. Label each bottle with the date you purchased it, and toss out chemicals older than a year old.

6. Store pool toys

When the pool is not being used, any toys should be out of the water and stored away out of sight, so children won’t be tempted to dive in.

7. Have safety equipment at hand 

It’s a good idea to give life jackets to the kids playing in or around the pool. Other safety equipment to keep near your pool are a crook rescue hook and the traditional ring buoy.


Source: Realtor.com 



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