Termites in Arizona

foothills home photoA popular myth is that termites aren’t residents of our desert environment thanks to the hot weather and compacted dirt.  Quite to the contrary, Phoenix is one of the most hospitable environments for subterranean termites given the city’s rapid expansion in the last three to four decades.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that homeowners spend more than $2 billion annually on termite pest control and on repairs caused by termite damage.  Therefore, termite prevention and control are a critical part of home maintenance, even here in Arizona.

There are two kinds of termites:  dry wood and subterranean.  Both of these types are found in Arizona.  Subterranean termites, quite obviously, live underground, while dry wood termites fly and can enter via attics where they start colonies within the walls of a home.  Subterranean termites enter your home by building tubes made from mud, and then once they gain access to your home, they will mix the mud with drywall from your home’s interior.

The first thing to remember is that termites do work slowly.  Most termite colonies take 2-3 years to form.  Therefore, if you do see evidence of termites, you have time to determine how you’re going to deal with them most effectively, and it’s not going to be an emergency situation.  Generally speaking, termites become more active in times of moisture as they can’t move around without moisture.  So here in Arizona, that time is typically after monsoon season has ended, and the temperatures have dropped—mid-September through December.

It’s critical that you have a termite inspection of your home at least once a year.  In between the inspection times, be sure you personally walk around the exterior and interior of your home every few months to look for mud tubes (dry brown tubes the width of a pencil on the walls).   If you do discover evidence of termites in the form of these tubes, it’s time to call a termite exterminator.  New homes in Arizona are required to have a termite pretreatment (which consists of a soil treatment applied before the slab is poured).

This is a matter of opinion, but there’s an argument to be made that you should sign up for a termite service that will be around in the next several years so they can repeat the service if there are problems later on.  Finding a warranty service that will warrant the service is very important.

Finally, take steps to prevent future termites.  Preventing moisture from getting inside the walls of your home is critical.  Therefore, keep your home’s foundation dry by preventing irrigation systems from dripping or leaking near your home’s structure.  Keep attics well-ventilated and seal all openings into your home such as cracks and knotholes.  Taking these simple steps will go a long way to prevent these Arizona-loving insects.

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Kitchen Design Trends

If you’re considering a kitchen remodel, here are some current trends to consider. Whether you have just purchased your home and want to update the kitchen, or whether you are looking to you’re your home in the future, you should consider the long-term resale value of any updates you undertake in the kitchen.

white kitchen photoMost home buyers are looking for homes that are updated, because simply put, they don’t want to do the work of updating. Therefore, if one of the most important rooms isn’t updated (the other is the master bathroom), many potential buyers will start adding up the cost to update the kitchen, at minimum, and may not offer as much for your home down the line.

Therefore, if you are considering updating your home to maximize the sales price, as well as to compete with similar homes in your neighborhood, here are some design trends to consider:

1) Paint. Painting your kitchen in a soft, neutral color, especially if it hasn’t been painted in the past five years, is a simple, inexpensive and quick way to update this area of your home. Be sure to pick a color that will appeal to the widest range of buyers, and that will coordinate with your existing cabinets, countertops and appliances.

2) Stainless Steel Appliances. Buyers still want stainless steel appliances, and this trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. After paint, updating your appliances is another cost-effective, yet simple way to quickly update your kitchen. Black stainless steel is quickly gaining momentum as being on trend in kitchen appliances as well, so you may want to consider this color if it coordinates with your existing cabinets and countertops (ie, whites and grays rather than browns and beiges).

3) Flooring. After paint and appliances, take a look at the flooring in your kitchen. Buyers prefer tile or other hard flooring in the kitchen. Eighteen-inch porcelain or ceramic tiles in neutral colors are relatively inexpensive, yet provide a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to updating the look of your kitchen. While hardwood flooring is always in style, it’s not a favorite in kitchens due to potential issues with water damage. Wide plank porcelain tiles are absolutely on trend, especially in larger dimensions (for example, 12 by 24 inches).

4) Countertops. Non-laminate countertops in kitchens are very important to buyers in today’s market. Granite or quartz countertops in the kitchen are upgrades that will quickly update the look and style of your kitchen, and because they are very low-maintenance, they will stay popular. There are various levels (or pricing) of granite, and I would be happy to suggest which level of granite would be appropriate for the price range of your home as you don’t want to price yourself out of the future resale market.

5) Cabinets. Assuming you’ve already implemented the above updates, when it comes to prioritizing updates in the kitchen, the last piece of the puzzle is updating your cabinets. Depending on the type of wood and the style of cabinet you currently have, simply painting or refinishing your cabinets may do the trick. If the interiors of your cabinets are in good condition but the style of the doors is not current, re-facing may be a better option to update your cabinets. With re-facing, the doors and drawer fronts will be removed, and they can be replaced with any style or finish. A finished wood veneer will be affixed to the cabinet sides, and new knobs and handles can complete the updated look. White and gray colored cabinetry are more updated and on trend than maple or blond cabinetry. A current trend with cabinetry is contrasting the colors of cabinetry with one color of cabinets in your kitchen island and another color (typically lighter) in your perimeter cabinetry.

Updating your kitchen with any of the above suggestions and trends will be sure to help you maximize the final sale price of your home. I look forward to working with you to prioritize the costs of any remodel or update you plan to undertake with an eye toward maximizing the sale price of your home.

Maximizing Curb Appeal

Desert Highlands real estate photoFirst impressions matter.  Curb appeal is the initial advertisement of the home for potential buyers.  Taking a few simple steps to update and maintain your home’s exterior will invite potential home buyers to go inside to check out all that your home has to offer.

First, take an objective look at your front yard’s landscaping.  Nothing says deferred maintenance like a desert landscape riddled with weeds and overgrown trees, or a lawn that isn’t trimmed and freshly watered.  Pruning and trimming all trees and shrubs will allow potential buyers to actually see your home, and will also demonstrate that the current homeowners care about their property, which is a good sign.   Placing fresh flowers or desert plants in pots near your walkway or front door is also another quick and inexpensive step to freshen up your home’s exterior and landscape.   A good rule of thumb:  no empty pots.

Second, power-washing your driveway, walkway and front entry way are other inexpensive steps that will pay off with a big impact when showcasing your home’s exterior.   Then, be sure to keep your front walkway and entryway swept clean before all showings.  While you are at it, be sure that your windows sparkle in the Arizona sun, so buyers looking out to the front yard can appreciate and enjoy the fruits of your labor.   Clean windows also maximize the amount of interior light in the home, and light-filled homes are desired by most, if not all, potential buyers.

Third, if you have a patio area or large entry way, place a chair or two here, to showcase a conversation area to your potential buyers as they are walking into your home.  Only implement this suggestion, however, if this furniture is in good condition.   Additionally, the decluttering and simplifying rule that applies to the interior of your home also applies to the exterior and landscaping, so be sure to remove any yard or lawn art from your front yard and entry way.  Keeping the door clean of decorations is another way to showcase the architecture and beauty of your home without providing unnecessary distractions.  Finally, making the sure the hardware on your front door is updated (ie, brushed nickel instead of brass) and in good working condition is critical to a good first impression.

As your realtor, I’d be happy to give you more advice specific to your home and situation to help you maximize your home’s curb appeal.

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