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The Advantage Blog

December 8th, 2016 Winterizing Your Home

If you haven’t winterized your home, do not wait!   It should be done now!!!!!  Winter maintenance will help you avoid costly weather-related repairs that are so common in the coldest months. Here’s what to focus on when winterizing your home:

  •       Pipes – Frozen water can cause breaks, leaks, and cracks in your water pipes. Piping is the most susceptible part of your home when it comes to cold weather damage, particularly pipes located in the attic, basement, crawl spaces, and near outer walls especially on the north side of a home. Proper insulation will keep these outer pipes from freezing, but if they are not well-insulated, you need to take steps to ensure they withstand a cold snap. When the forecast calls for unusually cold temperatures, let water drip from hot and cold faucets overnight. Keeping cabinet doors open will allow warm air to circulate in places like below sinks. If you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time during cold temperatures, you should shut your water off completely.
  •       Heating System – Your heating system is about to get its big annual workout, so now is the time to make sure it’s all tuned up and ready to go when winter hits. Have your furnace  checked by a licensed contractor before a freeze, and clean or replace your filter on forced air systems. Stay energy-efficient by making sure your heat isn’t escaping through poor insulation or gaps in your windows and doors. Use weather stripping on doors and shrinkable plastic wrap on leaky windows.
  •       Insulation – In addition to adding weather stripping  to doors and windows, we recommend calling a home insulation contractor to inspect your insulation and perform any upgrades if necessary.
  •       Chimney – If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll need to get your chimney checked for soot buildup once a year, preferably in the fall before you begin using it regularly. Soot buildup can be very dangerous, posing a fire hazard and carbon monoxide poisoning risks. The Chimney sweep should also check the damper as well as  the exterior of the chimney.

In addition to taking the above steps to winterize your home, it is always a good idea to have an emergency plan in place. Keep flashlights, a first aid kit, and plenty of blankets readily accessible, as well as a stock of bottled water, nonperishable food items, batteries, and emergency contact phone numbers. For those of us that might experience freezing rain and ice causing power lines to snap as well as trees to fall, winter preparedness is important!

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October 28th, 2016 How Can You Save On Your Water Bill? A Smart Meter!

Are you looking for an efficient way to save money on your water and electricity bills? A smart meter is a specialized technology that helps both consumers and utility providers monitor usage to create an energy plan. The two-way information flow offers real-time information that monitors usage patterns to improve efficiency. The most common form of smart meter is for the electric power sector; however, it is also becoming more prevalent for water utilities. Some of the benefits of smart meters include:

  • Detect in-home leaks – Smart water meters can save the customer money by detecting the daily usage. If the hourly usage stats do not drop to zero periodically (especially overnight) this could be the sign of an on-site leak.
  • Detect off-site leaks – Issues outside of the home can be detected by comparing the usage reading stats among a block of customers to the main water server for that area. This can help pinpoint small leaks before they become a major emergency.
  • Identify water main break locations – A significant drop in water pressure can be detected by the utility provider, allowing them to make quick decisions in the event of a catastrophic break.
  • Monitor usage compliance – Water shortages in some areas of the United States have created the need for water restrictions in certain communities. A smart meter allows the utility provider to ensure that residents are complying with the usage rules.
  • Provides usage breakout – Both smart water and electric meters give the consumer a real-time breakdown of energy consumption. This allows them to more carefully monitor their usage and create a plan to help them manage their utility expenses more accurately.
  • Historical data – In addition to real-time information, smart meters give consumers a historical breakdown. This allows them to more accurately pinpoint times of the year when their usage levels will be higher so that they can more carefully budget.
  • Aids in conservation efforts – One of the biggest benefits to smart meters is the impact they have on your energy consumption. These smart devices give the consumer the ability to cut their energy usage (and ultimately their energy bills) in very significant ways because they are more aware of exactly how much of our natural resources they are consuming.

If you would like professional advice on how to increase energy and water efficiency in your home, contact Advantage Real Estate! Our professionals are happy to provide each client with advice or even direct you to the right resource for your real estate needs. Contact the professionals at Advantage Real Estate to discuss your options.

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September 1st, 2016 Join Advantage Real Estate in Celebrating SAFB

Three Giant Anniversaries

 

Sheppard Air Force Base 75th, German Air Force 50th, ENJJPT 35th

Wichita Falls, Burkburnett, Iowa Park, and Henrietta, PLEASE join together with us as we celebrate our military and civilians at SAFB. This area received the Altus Award as the best community in the Air Force four years ago.  Let us show the men and women who are willing to give their lives to protect our freedom just how much we do support and appreciate them. Opportunities to participate in various activities are provided below.

Located in the heart of Wichita Falls, Sheppard Air Force Base is the largest US Air Force training base in the nation. For the past 75 years, Sheppard Air Force Base (SAFB) has been one of the Air Force’s premier training bases with more than 75,000 training graduates. Advantage Real Estate would like to take this opportunity to spotlight the 75th anniversary celebration of SAFB, the 50th anniversary of the German training and the 35th anniversary of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program.

Sheppard Air Force Base 75th Anniversary

On September 17th and 18th at 9 am, Sheppard Air Force Base will be holding an Open House & Air Show dedicated to the history of SAFB and showing its impact on the Air Force. This FREE event will take place at Sheppard Air Force Base. Not only will there be an air show from the US Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Team, but also music from country artist Pat Green.

German Air Force 50th Anniversary

On August 19, 1966 the first class of jet pilot students arrived from their homeland in Germany to the heat and high plains of Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas. This began a 50 year relationship with this area.  As many will remember, the great community relations with this area played a role in SAFB being selected as the home of ENJJPT.  To celebrate this occasion, the Germans will hold several events during the week of September 22nd.  Activities will include an undergraduate pilot training graduation September 23, followed by Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 24.

ENJJPT 35th Anniversary

Over the past 35 years, Sheppard Air Force Base and the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program has trained and delivered more than 7,100 combat pilots for the NATO alliance. With only 13 countries participating in this unique ENJJPT program, it is an honor for the NATO pilot training to take place in the Wichita Falls area. If you would like to help Sheppard Air Force Base celebrate 35 years of ENJJPT, stop by the Open House & Air Show on September 17th and 18th. Gates open at 9 am and the Air Show starts at approximately 11:30 am.

Advantage Real Estate salutes the men and women of Sheppard Air Force Base who have helped shape Wichita Falls into a vibrant community. The Martin Team at Advantage has over 40 years of experience working with families coming to this area to be stationed at SAFB.  It is important to us to make our military and civilian families feel a part of our great community.

As a local North Central Texas real estate firm, Advantage Real Estate uses our years of combined experience to help residents of Wichita Falls and the Sheppard Air Force Base community with their housing needs. To set up an appointment with a real estate agent at Advantage Real Estate, visit our website, wichitafallshomes.com or call our office at 940-696-3300.

Please join us as we say “Thank You” to our military families and friends.

COME CELEBRATE SAFB!!!

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August 29th, 2016 Potential Downsides to Wind Farms

Is This What We Want Surrounding Sheppard Air Force Base?

Right now, there’s a lot of initiative to “go green” and find renewable, cleaner sources of energy. Wind power is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world, along with solar power. Wind energy doesn’t generate the greenhouse gases that are harmful to our atmosphere, and helps reduce our reliance on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. While there are plenty of advantages to wind energy, since the government subsideses it so much, it is important to note there are many disadvantages as well, especially when you live in an area with a military training base is located.

  • Reliability. Since weather and wind cannot be controlled, wind energy cannot be relied upon exclusively. Wind turbines only generate power when wind is blowing, therefore when the air is calm and still, you could find yourself without power and will need to rely on a backup energy source.
  • Threat to Wildlife. Wind turbines can be unsafe to wildlife, particularly flying creatures like birds and bats. Sky-bound wildlife may accidentally collide with the blades of a wind turbine. Chances of surviving a direct hit from a turbine blade is grim for these animals.
  • Threat to Human Life. Although the chances are slim, severe storms or high winds can cause potential safety hazards to people near wind turbines. A blade that breaks may fall and injure anyone standing too close.
  • Noise Pollution. Those who live within close proximity of wind turbines may be bothered by the noise they generate.
  • Visual Pollution. Wind turbines are large and visually dominate the landscape on which they sit. Their industrial presence disrupts the natural beauty, and are considered by many who live near them to be eyesores.

Wind farms can also pose a risk to pilots in small planes, helicopters, and other low-flying aircraft. Last year a UK newspaper revealed Royal Air Force pilots had reported several near misses with wind farms leading to over 1,000 manual corrections to their charts every month to try and keep up with the changes.

Talk of a wind farm possibly being built near Sheppard Air Force Base is raising some legitimate concerns for the safety of the pilots and the impact wind farms have on the radar used to track aircraft. There’s also an economic disadvantage in this case, as the installation of wind farms could cause the Department of Defense to move SAFB’s pilot training programs to another Air Force base. For Wichita Falls and the surrounding areas, that could an annual revenue loss of $750 million.

While there are many advantages to wind energy, in some areas – particularly near SAFB – the payoff will not be worth it!!!!!

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August 19th, 2016 Preparing An Emergency Plan For Your Home

When an emergency strikes, will you be prepared? In order to protect you and your family, it’s important to implement an emergency plan. Texas is no stranger to severe weather and the best way to prevent disaster is to prepare your home and inform your family.

Here is a rough guide to follow when creating an emergency plan for your home. These steps should help you avoid disaster and remain safe.
Emergency Plan for your Home

Communicate with Family Members:
Depending on your emergency – severe weather, fire, flood – your family will need to follow a different emergency plan. Sit down with your family and discuss all possible disasters and what everyone needs to know in case of a crisis. This way, everyone will know what to expect when disaster strikes.

Maintain Emergency Supplies and First Aid Materials:
Is your home packed with emergency supplies? We recommend you have enough food, water, batteries, and first aid materials to last at least 7 days. This includes 1 gallon of water per person/per day, non-perishable food items, a flashlight, emergency blanket, batteries, charged radio or cell phone, medication and any other essential items.

Have a Safe Spot:
Pick several places to meet depending on the disaster. One spot in case of tornado warnings should be a storm shelter or a safe room/safe place in your home where the family can be together. NEVER get in a car to outrun a tornado!!!! In case of a fire another place for where the family should determine to gather is outside of your home. For other emergencies in your neighborhood one meeting location should be outside of your neighborhood in case you are required to evacuate the area. The most important step in choosing a safe spot is communicating over and over with family members and making sure everyone is on the same page. This will normally alleviate much of the stress
when a good plan is established.

Emergency Contact Information:
All family members should know how to call 911. In addition, emergency contact information should be in a convenient location or saved on cell phones. This way, you can keep in contact with your family and let them know you’re safe.

At Advantage Real Estate, we know the destruction that severe weather can bring. Preparing an emergency plan and informing your family of all steps is necessary to ensuring safety. Located in Wichita Falls, we are real estate leaders in North Central Texas for those looking to buy, sell, relocate, lease or have a property manager. To schedule an appointment with our professional realtors, visit our website or call 940-696-3300.

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July 8th, 2016 Landscape and Gardening Tips

If you’ve bought a new property or need to impress potential buyers in your current house, know that a beautiful landscape can complement and enhance the appearance of any home.  The options are endless when deciding on landscape and garden arrangements.  If you are looking for an easy guide, follow these tips for adding great curb appeal to your home:

Design Is Key

Every house will benefit from a beautiful green lawn, blooming plants and fresh hardscapes that enhance existing features.  The problem starts when deciding where to place things.  If you’re a beginner, start by slowly drawing out a plan.  It helps to find inspiration on Pinterest or even from your favorite DIY-ers!  Focus on size, shape and color when deciding where plants and stones go.  Remember that landscaping is more of an art than a science – being open to change will make a big difference in your results. 

Tidy Up Hardscapes

After designing the perfect landscape, the next step is appearance.  Rake runaway gravel back into the appropriate spots for both safety and convenience.  Make sure your walkways have not shifted from weather and be sure to add gravel to any depressions in the pathway.  With a completed design and plenty of determination, your landscape will be looking better than ever!

Prepare the Garden

Prepare your lawn by cleaning up the dead leaves, damaged foliage and weeds from your garden.  With summer here, now is a great time to prune your plants and get the sprinklers going.  The strides you take now will make a big difference in the curb appeal of your home.

At Advantage Real Estate, we are one of Wichita Falls top real estate firms with years of experience in buying, selling, relocating and leasing. If you need help from a real estate professional, contact the team at Advantage Real Estate by calling 940-696- 3300.

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May 26th, 2016 8 Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make

Buying a home comes with a myriad of decisions and responsibilities. If you are a first- time homebuyer, the process can be even more challenging as you wade through the homes for sale in search of one to call your own. With that in mind, here are eight things to consider when purchasing your first home. In many cases they can save you money and make for a smoother transaction.

Ignoring the Rental Home Option – First-time homebuyers are typically younger and less settled in their lives. Rental homes are a good option if you are unsure of the permanence of your current job or a move is in the near future.

DIY Home Shopping – Working with a real estate agent is not required for the purchase of a home, but it is strongly suggested. A good realtor has your best interests in mind regardless of whether you are buying or selling a home.

Poor Financial Outlook – Because buying real estate is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make, it is important to ensure that your finances are in order before you start the home buying process. Check your credit rating and make sure you have adequately saved for a down payment as well as any subsequent home buying expenses.

Inappropriate Financing – Before you buy a home, take some time to talk with a mortgage broker about financing options so you can arm yourself with information to make a decision that fits your needs. It is normally best to work with a local lender that you can sit across the desk to talk to.

Overspending – Sometimes homebuyers assume that because they can afford to buy a house they can afford to live in it. There are many costs associated with home ownership that can get overlooked if you are not careful. It is normally not wise to buy at the top price which you qualify.

Skipping the Home inspection – While home inspections are not required, they are important.  Without an inspection, as the new homeowner, any surprise pre-existing conditions will be your responsibility. Sometimes an astute buyer will also start by having an HVAC, electrician, plumber, and roofer check these areas.

Hasty Decisions – The old adage “sleep on it” is sage advice for first-time homebuyers. Take some time to do research on schools, the neighborhood and the surrounding area.  A hasty purchase could mean unpleasant realities once you move into your new home.

Inflexibility – Every homebuyer has a wish-list for their dream home. However, sometimes being just outside an ideal neighborhood or downgrading on items that can be renovated later saves thousands of dollars.

To find exceptional help with purchasing your first home, please contact the professionals at Advantage Real Estate by calling 940-696-3300.

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May 4th, 2016 Reverse Mortgages

There’s a lot of talk out there about mortgages, but what do you know about reverse mortgages? A reverse mortgage is a home equity loan for homeowners aged 62 and older. Essentially, it means you’re borrowing against your home’s equity while still maintaining ownership of the home. It can be a huge assist to your retirement planning by providing funds for the present time and the future, but it’s not for everyone. This blog will look at the pros and cons of reverse mortgages so you can better determine if this is the right option for you.

 

Pros:

  • You continue to live in your home and retain ownership.
  • Flexible disbursement options – you can choose to receive your funds as a lump sum, monthly advances for a set period of time, a line of credit to tap as needed, or a combination of these options.
  • You can use the funds from your reverse mortgage loan to pay off your existing mortgage (there will still be a lien on your home for the outstanding amount of the reverse mortgage), freeing you from monthly mortgage payments.
  • Loan proceeds are generally not considered taxable income (always consult a tax professional for any tax advice).
  • A reverse mortgage loan shouldn’t affect Social Security or Medicare benefits, but you should always discuss with a financial professional to be sure.
  • If your home gains value after you take out the reverse mortgage loan, you can refinance your reverse mortgage to access greater proceeds.
  • After the loan is repaid, any remaining equity belongs to you or your beneficiaries.
  • Your beneficiaries or heirs are not liable if payoff balance exceeds home value.
  • Interest rates may be lower than other options.

 

Cons:

  • Value of estate inheritance may decrease over time as proceeds are spent, meaning fewer assets available to leave to your heirs (you can still leave the home to your heirs, but then they will have to repay the loan balance).
  • Fees and other closing costs can be high.
  • The loan balance increases over time as fees and interest on the loan accumulate.
  • Although it shouldn’t affect Social Security and Medicare benefits, a reverse mortgage loan may affect Medicaid or SSI, which are needs-based programs (again, you’ll want to discuss with a financial professional).
  • Borrower must maintain their home and continue to pay property tax and homeowners insurance or the loan will become due.

 

If a reverse mortgage sounds like something that could benefit you and your plans for retirement, contact your bank or financial professional to get the ball rolling. If you aren’t at that stage in your life yet, but are looking to buy or sell your home, contact Advantage Real Estate today!

 

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April 1st, 2016 Preparing Your Home for Spring

Spring is a beautiful time of year. The temperature warms, the rain brings out beautiful flowers as the sun shines down more often, and oh how the birds begin to sing. During this time of year people get the urge to open their windows and let fresh air into their homes, as well as the desire to do a little “spring cleaning.” The beauty of spring might also highlight some of the more unsightly aspects of your home, such as leaves in the gutters and dead plants in your landscaping. Here are some tips to help get your home ready for spring:

      • Inspect your gutters. Check for loose or leaky spots.  If you find any, repair as needed. Improper drainage, especially from the gutters can lead to water getting into your home.  Always make sure all your downspouts lead away from the foundation of your house.
      • Examine your roof.  It is a good idea to have a trained person look to see if any shingles are damaged from wind or hail, or if any are missing from a hard winter. If hail and wind damage are evident, you might want to contact your insurance agent to see if you need an insurance adjuster to check for damage.   Any shingles that are damaged, cracked, or loose need to be replaced, since the summer sun can heighten the problem. If you have an old roof, and especiallyif you are considering selling your home, you may need a complete replacement. Mortgage companies require insurance when a buyer purchases a home, and therefore the roof must be insurable.
      • Have your chimney cleaned. Check your chimney from the outside to see if there’s been any damage, and hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney (this should be done annually).
      • Check outside automatic water sprinklers and spigots. Test your outside automatic sprinklers and hose faucets.  You may have broken sprinkler heads or freeze damaged spigots. Repair of these items may require a licensed sprinkler installer or a plumber.

Inside your home, you can complete basic spring cleaning tasks like de-cluttering each room, dusting and tidying your home, and going through your closet to donate any old clothes you don’t foresee wearing again this season or the next.

If you’re considering listing your home and placing it on the market to sell this spring, completing the above tasks will help ensure your home is “show” ready. Updating any of these items should help increase the value of your home.  At Advantage Real Estate, we are one of the area’s top Real Estate firms in the Wichita Falls and surrounding area.  Whether it’s a commercial or residential property you need to buy, sell, or lease or if you need a property manager for your leased property, we are here for you!  Give us a call today! 940-696-3300. 

 

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March 2nd, 2016 Pros vs. Cons of Wind Energy

Wind energy can be described as a process in which wind is used to generate mechanical power and electricity through kinetic energy. Like solar energy, wind energy is a growing resource used in the United States. With today’s advancing technology, some experts say that the available power from wind energy has the potential to replace other sources of electricity. Before you make up your mind in regards to wind energy, there are a number of positives and negatives to consider. Take a look at our information pro/con list! Keep in mind if you are a land owner, home owner or business owner of rural property, the installation of wind turbines on your property or on a neighbor’s property could conceivably bring a negative impact on YOUR PROPERTY VALUES!

Pros:

  • Wind energy is cost effective because wind is a free resource that results from the rotation of the earth.
  • As a natural resource, wind is considered a clean source of green energy.
  • After installation, wind turbines require very little maintenance and use the latest technology to maximize wind power.
  • The upfront and monthly money received sounds great, although it may end up costing the landowner or their heirs more in the end.

Cons:

  • Wind energy is not reliable because it only works in certain locations where the speed of wind is high.
  • Wind turbines are a threat to wildlife and have killed thousands of flying creatures including birds and bats.
  • Wind turbines can be a direct hazard when installed near an airport or flying training operation.
  • Wind turbines can be difficult to install and hard to maintain if there are technical difficulties.
  • Wind turbines often bring down the value of a property because they are noisy and unattractive.
  • Companies who sell wind turbines typically have contracts written to protect the wind energy companies and rarely protect the land owners.
  • Most often when the wind turbines are no longer working properly to produce wind power, it will be up to the property owners to have them removed which could cost thousands to millions of dollars depending on the number needing to be removed.


While most environmentalists and green energy activists feel wind energy is a good source for alternative energy, there is still a large amount of research to be done.  Not only does this negatively affect the property value of homes, but those who live close to wind turbines are faced with loud sounds and unsightly views.  These large, rotating white wheels tarnish the beauty of natural landscapes across the country.  If you are thinking about moving, reconsider a home near a wind energy source.

At Advantage Real Estate, we are one of the area’s top real estate firms with experience in buying, selling, relocating and leasing.  We believe that 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for the housing market!  If you need help buying or selling your commercial or residential property, contact the professionals at Advantage Real Estate by calling 940-696-3300.

 

Source: http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/pros-and-cons-of-wind-energy.php

 

 

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