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Prepare Your Home for Winter

Prepare Your Home for Winter

The winter months can be cruel on your home no matter where you live. Gusting winds can batter plants. A snowstorm could stress an older home’s roof. Even a few days of heavy January rain could wreck havoc on clogged gutters and downspouts.

Whether you’re looking to sell your home or you just want to keep your house intact this winter, there are simple steps you can take to protect your home from whatever wintry forces of nature come your way.

Keep your home safe and warm this winter with 6 simple steps.

  • Inspect Your Roof
    Winter weather can hurt your home’s roof in many ways. High winds, heavy rain or snowfall can cause strain, and excess leaves or debris could clog gutters and create build-up on the roof. A damaged roof will significantly Impact your home’s value, and it’s easier (and cheaper) to toke precautionary steps now before any trouble strikes in the colder months.


    Schedule a roof inspection before the winter weather hits so a professional can thoroughly inspect your roof’s condition and make recommendations.

  • Check for Air Leaks
    Leaks in your windows, doorways or walls can drastically increase your monthly utilities bill, and if you live in a colder climate, it can make your home uncomfortable, too! Luckily, it’s easy to perform your own home check and seal any leaks. Check all the window frames and doors in your home for cracks where cold air could come through. You should check any vents and phone lines as well – really and potential opening from your home to the exterior.


    The Department of Energy recommends performing a visual inspection as well as a simple pressurization test to discover where external air is entering your home. If you find a leak, use caulk and weather stripping to seal to seal out the cooler air, or consider installing storm windows for the winter months.

  • Clear the Gutters
    Falling leaves are a hallmark of the autumn months, but they can be trouble for a home’s gutters. Clogged gutters leave rain with nowhere to go, and it can cause damage to a home’s walls., soffits and fascias, as well as siding and basements. You can grab a ladder and clear the debris yourself, or you can hire local professionals to safely take care of the job. Clean gutters now will spare you a headache later this winter!
  • Clean the Chimney
    You should have your chimney checked once a year at least, particularly if you plan to use the fireplace to stay warm this winter. A blocked or damaged chimney could heat your home unevenly and boost your utility bill, but its biggest risk is as a potential fire hazard.
    You can try to clean the chimney yourself if you want to get your hands dirty. But it’s far easier and safer to hire a chimney cleaning company to inspect and clear your chimney and fireplace, so you can curl up by the fire all winter long.
  • Clean the Yard
    While many flowers need the chill of a winter season in order to bloom in the spring it’s important to prepare your full yard for cooler weather. Changing seasons will impact your garden no matter where you live.


    Consider bringing your more fragile plants indoors if you live in a colder climate, and remove any annuals you have planted. Put away any outdoor furniture you have, and clear out any fallen leaves so they don’t suffocate the lawn. Finally, store all your gardening tools for the season so they don’t rust or wear down before the spring.

  • Prepare the Pipes
    If you live in an area that gets very cold in the winter, you’ll have to take extra measures to prepare your home for winter. Before the frost hits, make sure to store garden hoses and close any inside valves that supply water to outdoor faucets. Don’t use antifreeze in any of these lines – it’s not good for the environment and could be harmful to pets, wildlife and people.


    Insulate indoor pipes in parts of the home that are typically unheated, kike the attic, garage or crawl spaces. The Red Cross recommends keeping the thermostat at the same temperature throughout the day and night so the pipes aren’t subject to drastic temperature changes, and check all the faucets regularly throughout the winter season.

11 Myths Homebuyers Should Never Believe

11 Myths Homebuyers Should Never Believe

From the open house to securing a mortgage to closing day, purchasing a home is a complex and daunting process. Here are 11 myths that home buyers should abandon if they hope to keep a clear head and maintain realistic expectations during the house-hunting process.

By Debra Immergut

Always Make a 20 Percent Down Payment


As home prices climb, home buyers have a tougher time accumulating a cash down payment that amounts to 20 percent of the typical purchase price. The good news: You can usually get your dream house with a smaller up-front payment. On the downside, however, you’ll have to buy either private mortgage insurance or government insurance for at least a few years. Be forewarned: This insurance can add hundreds of dollars to your mortgage payment each month.

A House Inspection Is Optional


Too often, inexperienced buyers agree to waive the inspection in a hurry to nail down a deal. Don’t fall for this! Skipping the inspection is almost always a mistake. Far from a mere formality, an inspection is a great way to slow down the purchase process, uncover major problems with the house before completing the sale, and find ways to negotiate the final price. Don’t omit this vital step.

Choose Only a 30-Year Fixed Mortgage


Your parents probably had a fixed, 30-year term on their home loan, and they may even have stayed in the house long enough to pay it off. But recently, other options have increased in popularity, and home buyers may find real advantages—and much lower interest rates—with 15- or even 7-year loans. Be sure to explore all mortgage options when buying a home, and discuss the decision with a banker or financial adviser.

Cash Buyers Always Win

Sure, sellers love the simplicity of accepting a big pile of cash instead of having to deal with buyers who need financing. But an all-cash offer isn’t a guaranteed winner. Home buyers who are willing to outbid an all-cash offer certainly have a decent shot at nabbing the house.

Real Estate Is Always a Safe Investment

During the housing crash of 2008, many homeowners learned firsthand the risks of investing in real estate. Since then, however, housing prices have bounced back, and plenty of young buyers are entering the market. All the same, when you’re in the process of buying a house, remember that what goes up can also come down.

Buy the Worst House in the Best Neighborhood


The strategy of searching for a low-priced steal in high-priced ZIP code isn’t always the best game plan. If the cost of making the house livable will be sky-high, or if it has too many drawbacks that can’t be fixed (for example, if it’s located next to an interstate or a noisy business), then the house may not be such a bargain after all.

Start Looking for Homes in the Spring


Sure, spring is the most active time for real estate investment, because both sellers and buyers are preparing for the summer moving season. There’s no need to wait until the daffodils bloom, though, to begin your home search. House-hunting in the fall and winter may actually save you money because you’ll probably be competing with fewer potential buyers, which should hold prices down.

Skip the Agent and Go Straight to the Internet

Sound View Home Inspections

While home buyers can certainly find listings online, they may be better off working with a buyer’s agent instead. Buyer’s agents do more than just show what’s for sale. They also give the lowdown on comparables in the market, help steer buyers away from properties that have potential problems, and provide guidance during the negotiation phase. It’s always a smart idea to have an experienced pro on your side.

Your Accepted Offer Is Set in Stone


So, the buyer has told the seller what she’s willing to pay, and the seller has accepted. While both parties have agreed to the offer, it’s still not set in stone. If house-related issues turn up during the inspection, or if the seller asks for an unusually fast closing, the buyer may be able to shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the price.

Prequalification Means an Automatic Loan

Before buyers start looking for houses in earnest, they’ll probably go through a bank’s prequalification process to find out how much money they can borrow. Be aware, however, that banks don’t always disclose how theoretical this number can be. Once the bank completes a more heavy-duty vetting of a buyer’s finances, it may decide that it’s willing to loan less than originally planned—or even nothing at all.

Buyers Without Kids Don’t Need to Pay Attention to the Schoolsn

Even buyers who don’t have school-aged children should think twice before moving to a neighborhood with poorly ranked schools. Great school districts make for highly coveted neighborhoods, so when you’re ready to sell your home in the future, the next buyer may be willing to pay a premium to be in your district. So, before you buy, take time to study up on the quality of the nearby schools.