Making It Rain – Utilize Rain Water All Year Long

Real Estate Trends

Water supply is an ongoing concern for many, especially those living in drought-stricken areas. This is one reason why the conversation about collecting and utilizing rainwater as a means for battling supply challenges is ongoing. Real estate agents can use this information to help their clients better understand this trend in real estate.  Why Homeowners Are Collecting Rainwater

By collecting rain and storing it in a barrel or tank, homeowners can create a supply of water to use that doesn’t increase water bills or overwork groundwater resources.

An additional benefit of rainwater collection is that rain doesn’t contain the minerals found in wells or the chlorine in municipal supplies. Rain collection is ideal for large water usages such as watering the lawn, washing the car, doing the laundry and showering/bathing. It is generally not used for drinking; however, it can be if properly filtered.

Understanding Rainwater Collection Systems

Collection systems range from a single rain barrel placed at the end of a gutter downspout to an elaborate system that can hold enough water to supply your entire home.

A house with a sloped roof, gutters and/or downspouts is perfect for rainwater collection intended for lawn irrigation or other nonpotable uses. All that is needed is a tank, a wire/mesh gutter screen to keep debris out, and a way to remove the water from the tank.

Your tank (or cistern) can be made from a range of materials including metal, wood, stone, cement or fiberglass. Garden and home supply stores offer rain collection systems complete with your barrel, leaf screens and spouts. The costs vary but expect to pay from $50 – $300 for a complete barrel system. Depending on how you plan to use it will determine the type, cost and complexity.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to remove water from your collection tank is by gravity. If you want a more elaborate use for your water, you’ll need a pump. Pumps provide about 8 gallons of water a minute up to 500 feet away.

Regulations

Homeowners should check with their homeowners association to ensure they comply with such rules as placement, color and aize of the rain barrel.

If using collected rainwater for the entire home, homeowners should check local codes and ordinances.

Concerns

It’s a good idea to use a roof washer to remove leaves, debris and droppings to create a clean line for the water entering the storage tank.

Mosquitoes are a natural concern for any collection of standing water, so be sure that your tank is screened and covered. If you live in areas that freeze, allow your barrel to only fill three fourths full to allow water expansion in freezing temperatures.

Aesthetics of rain barrels were once a concern, but not as much anymore. With the wide variety of collection tanks available, your cistern doesn’t have to be an eyesore. Many agree that the wooden tanks meant to resemble wine casks are actually quite charming. A carefully, yet strategically, placed tank can be hidden so as not to detract from your homes beautiful landscape.

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Cleaner Water For Your Home

Water Quality  for the Home

From appliances to paint colors to even water quality enhancements, your clients have a lot of decisions to make when they purchase their home. In particular, having clean, clear and safe running water is very important. And, thanks to advances in technology, determining what is in a home’s water and applying an appropriate filtration is easy. This article will help you inform your clients about those home water quality options.Here are the most common water problems and corresponding solutions:

The first step to improving the water quality in a home is to determine what type of water the home has and what contaminants are in it. Home kits or a water professional can determine this. Home kits are available at most hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive.

Hard water is one of the most common concerns for homeowners. Hard water – water that has a high mineral content – is most recognizable by heavy spotting on dishes, glasses, sinks, bathtubs and toilet bowls. This mineral buildup can also reduce the operating efficiency of any water-driven items and appliances and, worst of all, cause long-term pipe damage.

Once the water contaminant has been determined, the next step is choosing the best solution to remove it. It’s important to consider both operating and maintenance costs. Some solutions are as easy as choosing the appropriate filter and model, while others may require a chemical pump.

Filter systems come in various types of installation models such as:

• Faucet-mounted filters which are attached directly to the faucet.
• In-line filters that are located under the sink on the water supply line.
• Line bypass models that use a separate faucet at the sink which supplies only filtered      water when engaged.
• Point of entry (POE) systems are the most comprehensive as they treat all of the water entering the home. A POE system ties into the main water line and filters the water at every sink, shower and appliance in the home.

While faucet and in-line systems are easy to install, POE systems are the most complex and usually require professional installation.

Depending on the specific contaminant and the type of system chosen, improving the quality of water in the home is always a good idea. And what better time to do so than in August, which is Water Quality Month.

DIY Natural Pesticide Sprays

Natural pesticides are safer for people, their homes, gardens, animals and the environment. Nowadays homeowners are more conscious about the chemicals they use in and around the home, including pesticides. Here are some helpful natural pesticide recipes you can share with your clients to help them keep their yards pest and chemical-free.

Thyme-Oil-Natural_DIY_Yard_Spray.pngWhen using natural DIY pesticdes, spray in the early morning or late evening to avoid burning plants. Also remember to keep pets away during application since certain ingredients such as essential oils and cayenne pepper can be harmful if ingested. Always use sparingly and only on infected areas. And if it recently rained or will rain soon, wait until the ground is dry before spraying to avoid runoff waste and dilution.

Ready to get started?

Four DIY Ideas For a Chemical-Free Yard

  1. Neem Oil
    The oil from the extremely bitter neem plant is a powerful, all-natural pesticide.

DIY neem oil spray:  Combine ½ an ounce of organic neem oil, ½ a teaspoon of mild organic liquid soap and 2 quarts of warm water. Stir slowly, pour in spray bottle and use immediately.

  1. Diatomaceous Earth    
    An all-natural powder solution for insects of all kinds including fleas.

An all-natural powder solution for insects of all kinds including fleas. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around plants and around the perimeter of the house. It can be used inside as well. Look for the food-grade version so it is safer to use around pets.

  1. Himalayan Salt Spray 
    Effective for treating plants infested with spider mites. Spray where needed.

DIY salt spray: Combine 2 tablespoons with 1 gallon of warm water. Spray on infected plants.

  1. Citrus Oil + Cayenne Pepper   
    Works well on ants. Spray populated areas accordingly.

DYI spray: Combine 10 drops of citrus oil for every teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 cup of warm water. Shake well and spray areas populated by ants.

Growing Value – Tips For Curb Appeal

Spring rains have saturated most of the U.S. this April and now is the time for homeowners to get outside and enhance their lawn, flowers and gardens, especially if planning to sell a home this summer.

Landscaping curb appeal is a known added value for home sellers, serving as a first impression of a home. Agents and buyers agree that a lush lawn and tidy landscape add to a home’s value and reflects positively on the overall care and condition of the property.

The four most common areas of landscaping that have the biggest impact on buyers are:

Lawn and landscaping 

Outdoor lighting

Fencing

                                     Front entrance including the driveway and walkway

Home owners don’t have to take on a massive landscape transformation to benefit from a curb appeal spruce up. To instantly add curb appeal without making a large investment, homeowners should:

  1. Keep a trim and healthy lawn with weekly mowing and line trimming. Clean up outdoor light fixtures from dust, cobwebs and dirt.
  2. Add solar lights along walkways and in flowerbeds to add nighttime appeal and effect. If the home has a wood fence, paint the ‘showing’ side and repair loose boards, holes and worn areas.
  3. Weed and clean the driveway area and walkway.
  4. The front entry is a home’s welcome sign. A freshly painted front door, a potted plant, a rocking chair and a welcome mat go a long way to a great looking entry.

LAWN CARE

Know your lawns
Before throwing down any seed or sod, homeowners should know what lawns do best in their location. Grass types are classified as “Warm Season” grass or “Cool Season” grass. This is determined by the grasses’ active growth period. For example, areas in the middle of the country are known as the transition zone. Mixtures of cool- and warm-season grasses are often necessary there, but cool-season varieties are the most successful.
Test your soil
Existing soil needs to have the proper pH value and nutrients to support a healthy lawn. Soil can be tested at any time. However, if you test in the fall or early spring, you have time to make adjustments before you start planting and tending to your lawn.
Fertilize
Different types of grass require different fertilizers. As previously mentioned, know what type of grass your have in your yard and fertilize appropriately and at the right time. If you have pets or children, be sure to purchase a fertilizer that is safe for them.

Mowing a Lawn 101

Stick to the 1/3 rule try not to remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade length in a mowing.

Mow when the grass is dry. This is when grass blades are upright, and less clumping.

Mow in the morning or night. Mowing in the heat of the day stresses the grass.

Aim mower clippings (unless you bag them) towards the area you have already cut.

Leave clippings (unless you bag them, or their clumped) as it returns nutrients and nitrogen to the lawn.

If you bag your clippings, consider composting them.

Pruning
Prune away winter damage once plants have lost their leaves. Cut limbs back to live wood.

Mulching
If you’re mulching a large area, use a cheaper hardwood mulch for the ‘filler’ then top-dress it with your mulch of choice. You can also top-dress old mulch by just adding a 1-inch layer on top.  It’ll look brand new, and you’re not paying for something you don’t see.

Planting Annuals
Annuals are plants that live for only one season. Late spring is the best time to plant annuals such as Petunias, marigolds, salvia, and impatiens. Make sure roots are not too matted so they can expand into the soil.
Gardens
Flower gardens make a yard look beautiful and welcoming. Vegetable gardens give the added bonus of providing fresh vegetables to eat.

One of the best gardening tools is a monthly landscaping calendar. To download one for your area, visit The National Gardening Association’s website. Plug in your zip code and you get a specific plan for your area.

Plants, flowers and shrubbery are great ways to add allure and definition to a home’s landscape. Flowering plants are a wonderful addition, but homeowners should consider the appeal when the plants are not in season and flowering.

Planted herbs are easy to plant and maintain. They also do great in pots for entryways and backyard patios.

By investing a little time and money into the yard this spring, homeowners can increase their home’s valuable first impression and “wow” factor.

Green Home Demands Are On The Rise

Green homes with energy efficient attributes are a rapidly expanding market in real estate

Green

Home buyers, sellers and real estate professionals are experiencing a growing understanding of the importance and value of energy efficient homes. As a result, real estate professionals are finding more and more ways to incorporate the ever present green issues into their market.

It’s Easy Being Green

Trends show that commuting costs and energy efficiency are considered more carefully in home buying decisions than ever before. And experts expect that the issue will stay top of mind for clients. There are two ways The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is responding and providing opportunities for agents to serve this client desire.

  1. NAR offers a “Green Designation” designed for agents “who are looking to learn about issues of energy efficiency and sustainability in the various facets of real estate.
  1. Green MLS Toolkit was created to help agents help buyers quickly find green homes.

 Consumers Opt to Pay Now & Save Later

green

A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders showed that nine out of 10 buyers would rather purchase a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 to 3 percent less.

Household appliances account for nearly 20 percent of energy use in an average home. As the cost of electricity and heating fuel costs rise, energy efficient appliances are experiencing an increase in demand.

A comprehensive package of ENERGY STAR certified appliances can reduce energy costs, while offering improved performance, quality and durability. In addition to savings, and a mindfulness for the environment, homes with these features also garner attention for overall quality and efficiency.

Green = Added Value

Whether a home is ENERGY STAR® Certified or is equipped with ENERGY STAR® products, these features can be powerful value added selling points for clients in the market for a green home.

Appliances such as dishwashers, water heaters, refrigerators, freezers, washers/dryers and ceiling fans are among the more common household features that buyers look at.  When sellers upgrade appliances prior to listing, consideration should be given to selecting energy efficient products and including that information in the listing.

Energy Star

Get Involved

Join ENERGY STAR Day, a national campaign to raise awareness and create conscientious habits in our daily lives to reduce energy usage in our homes and work places and protect the environment from climate change.

Participation is easy. It can be as simple as turning off  lamps for the day, unplugging electronics and appliances not in use, turning lights off in unoccupied rooms and using the energy save mode on electronics with that capability.

(Blog From Keller Williams International: blog.kw.com)