Lawn Care Tips for the Summer

summer lawn care tipsThis year, with the rainy days and cooler-than-usual temps, it’s hard to remember that summertime is here.  But to keep your house looking great, it’s important to keep your lawn and shrubs looking top-notch.  Here are a few tips to help you through the next few months.

    • When mowing your lawn, be sure to not cut it too short.  With the sun and heat, cutting grass too short can encourage it to “burn” and die.  A blade height of around 3 inches tends to be best.  Doing so will help shade the grass from the hot sun, as well as encourage deep root growth.

    • Watch for signs of insect damage and summer lawn diseases, such as summer brown patch. If you suspect something is attacking your lawn – whether it be a disease or pests – contact your local garden center agent for help.

    • Most lawns require about an inch of water per week.  If rainy days aren’t providing that, watering will be necessary.  Keep in mind that morning is the best time to water your lawn as that’s when there’s less evaporation.

    • With all the rain we’ve had, you may be seeing mushrooms grow.  Mushrooms on their own are not harmful, so you can leave them, if you’d like.  However, if you see a fairy ring – a circle of mushrooms with grass in the center – you’ll want to get rid of the mushrooms.  This fairy ring causes a competition for water between the grass and the mushrooms and can cause your grass to die.

    • Use fertilizers on your lawn sparingly during the summer.  Chemical fertilizers tend to burn lawns, though this is less likely with organic fertilizers.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist

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What Charlotte’s Growth Means for the Real Estate Market

Charlotte Skyline by Andrew Jenkins for Charlotte-PR.comForbes recently listed Charlotte as one of the top 10 fastest growing cities in the country – #4 to be exact.  The ranking was based on the percentage growth in population from 2007 to 2012; Charlotte had a 15.8 percent population gain during the five-year period to 775,202.  The ranking comes shortly after the Charlotte was ranked No. 8 on Forbes’ “Best Big Cities for Jobs” list, with 3.3 percent job growth in 2012.

So what does this mean for the Charlotte real estate market?

Obviously this means more people are moving in to the market.  This, in turn, means more demand in a market where there is already a bit of an inventory shortage.  As a result, we’re seeing multiple offers on existing homes, with the homeowners selling for their asking price or higher.  (If you’re in a multiple offer situation, check out our recent posts on handling them as a seller or a buyer.)

However, we’re also seeing a decrease in houses that have negative equity.  And while home prices are not back to their peak, this means there are fewer houses that would be in a short sale situation, which may mean a growth in inventory on the market in the near future.

Zillow reports that Charlotte is still a buyers’ market as a whole.  However, just like other major markets, Charlotte is made up of micromarkets, with some neighborhoods more popular than others.  You may find popular neighborhoods in the Charlotte area to be sellers markets, with few homes for sale and great demand for those that are on the market.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist
Image: Andrew Jenkins

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What Will You Be Doing in July?

Charlotte July 4th FireworksThere’s lots to do in July in the Charlotte area.  Here’s just a few ideas for you…

Celebrate Independence Day
This year, 4th of July celebrations start early! On Tuesday, July 2nd, you can hit the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout & Fireworks Extravaganza at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  July 3rd brings us the “Celebrate America” concert of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Park at Southpark as well as Day 1 of the U.S. National Whitewater Coca-Cola Fourth of July Festival.  And of course July 4th is a big day!  There’s Day 2 of the U.S. Whitewater Coca-Cola Fourth of July Festival, WBT Skyshow 2013 fireworks display after the Charlotte Knights game at Knights Stadium in Ft Mill and the Novant Health July 4th Spectacular at Memorial Stadium in Uptown.  Carowinds’ “Nights of Fire” fireworks celebration starts on July 4th and will be presented nightly through August 11th.  With so many choices, you’re sure to find fun!

Groove to the Music
Want a little more fun in your July 4th long holiday weekend?  July 5th and 6th brings back Jazz at the Bechtler.  This time, actor, singer and Gastonia native, Maria Howell, joins the Ziad Jazz Quartet.

The Circus Comes to Town
But this is no ordinary circus!  Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam comes to Time Warner Cable Arena July 3rd through 7th.  It’s the story of a young girl’s trip into the world of imagination, but you’ll be blown away by the acrobatics and physical feats!

Get to Know Your Pets
The Charlotte Nature Museum is hosting Petapalooza on July 20th.  Visit with rescued and exotic pets and learn about responsible pet ownership.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist

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Choosing a Contractor After a Storm

choosing a contractor after a stormWe’ve been having some crazy weather around the Charlotte area lately, and more is forecasted as is typical this time of year.  Where winds and storms hit, damage follows many times.  And if your home is damaged, you naturally want repairs done ASAP, which can make you vulnerable to unethical or untrained contractors.

These contractors are often known as “storm chasers” because they go to where the storm damage is and hunt for work.  Some warning signs that you’re dealing with a storm chaser is that they go door to door offering their services and they ask for payment upfront.  In return, you get little to no work – oftentimes shoddy work at best – and then they disappear.

To make sure you’re not falling prey to a storm chaser, here are a few tips:

  • Never pay for repairs in full upfront.
  • Never pay for repairs in cash, as this leaves you no recourse if the repairs aren’t done properly.
  • Look for warning signs like out-of-state license plates, no local office, and poor ratings online or with the BBB.
  • Choose an established company with a proven track record.  Ask companies you’re interviewing how long they’ve been in business and if they have their own crew or outsource the work.
  • Ask for, and verify, that they are insured and bonded.
  • If applicable, make sure the company you choose has insurance claims experience.
  • Get at least 3 local references from companies you’re interviewing, and be sure to check them.

Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.  Don’t let hasty decisions or panic derail your desire to take the best care of it you can.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist

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Why You Need a Home Inspection

Home InspectionsWhen you’re buying a house, it’s easy to feel like some of the inspection costs that come in addition to the home price are unnecessary.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth!

A home inspection can mean the difference in finding thousands of dollars in repairs or not finding them at all.  Good inspectors are highly skilled at finding problems and potential problems that buyers wouldn’t find on their own.  This gives you negotiating power in requesting the problems be fixed or that the price of the house be adjusted to allow you the funds to fix them.

Your home inspector will examine the following items:

  • Grounds – Driveway, Sidewalks, Patios, Decks, Porches, Steps and Railings, Fences and Gates, Grading, Landscaping, Retaining Walls

  • Exterior of Structure – Foundation Walls, Basement, Crawlspace, Slabs, Exterior Finish, Siding, Brick, Stucco, Trim, Chimney, Roof System, Flashing, Gutters, Windows

  • Crawlspace/Basement/Slab – Joists, Piers, Foundation Vents, Insulation Type/R-Factor and Condition, Subflooring, Plumbing Penetrations, Plumbing Condition, HVAC Equipment, HVAC Ductwork, Condensation Lines, Exhaust and Venting, Crawlspace/Basement Drainage System, Sump Pumps, Wood Destroying Organisms, Unusual Fungi Growth, Electrical Branch Wiring

  • Attic – Attic Access, Truss Conditions, Rafter Framing, Roof Sheeting, Roof Deck Penetrations, Adequate Ventilation, Insulation Depth/R-Factor and Condition, HVAC Equipment, HVAC Ductwork, Electrical Branch Wiring

  • Electrical System – Service Type, Amperage, Entrance Cable Type, Proper Wiring Technique, Grounding, Subpanels, Branch Wiring, Outlets, Fixtures, GFCIs, Arc Faults

  • HVAC – Type, Sizing for square footage, Fuel System, Operation, Condensation Lines, Suction Line Insulation, Air Return Seal, Filters, Ductwork Type, Ductwork Condition, Distribution System

  • Plumbing System – Main Line Type, Supply Line Type, Water Shut-Off Location, Water Heater Type/Sizing/Location/Condition, Leaks, Adequate Flow, Waste Drain Type, Waste Drain Condition, Type of Disposal System, Septic or Public Utilities, Septic System Location, Septic System Condition

  • Interior – Exterior Doors, Weatherstripping, Windows, Interior Doors, Walls, Ceilings, Flooring, Fireplace Type/Condition/Operation, Flue Venting, Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Bathrooms – Sinks, Supply Lines, Drains, Stopper Valves, Cabinets, Toilets, Tubs, Jacuzzi Operation, GFCI, Shower Enclosures, Shower Operation, Bath vent Fans, Interior Rooms and Closets

  • Kitchens – Range and Cooktops, Anti-tip Devices, Microwave Operation, Sinks, Ventilation, Cabinets and Counters

The inspector should report to you:

  • whether the problem found is a safety issue, major defect, or minor defect.
  • which items need replacement and which should be repaired or serviced
  • items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely.

Though it is not required, a good inspector will also tell you about routine maintenance that should be performed around the house to help you keep things in tip-top shape.

The bottom line is that while a home inspection will cost you a little bit of time and money, in the long run you’ll be glad you did it. Even if no problems are found, it will give you an idea of what areas you need to be aware of as the home owner.  This important step is worth every penny.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist

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Keep Your Kids’ Brains Hopping

Children on Summer BreakSummer break is here, and every parent wants to keep their child’s brain engaged.  Luckily, there are tons of options in the Charlotte area to help you do just that!  Here are just a few…

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has grown to become one of the top theatre and education organizations for young people in the United States. It is nationally recognized for the variety and strength of its programs, and it serves 300,000+ children and families a year with imaginative productions and a wide range of educational programs.  Children’s Theatre of Charlotte offers programs for children ages 3 through 18.

ImaginOn is a collaboration between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. With cutting edge services and library collections, award-winning professional theatre and innovative education programs, ImaginOn brings stories to life through extraordinary experiences that challenge, inspire and excite young minds.

Discovery Place
Spend a day at Discovery Place and you’ll be introduced you to a world of wonder, where science astonishes, educates and entertains. There’s fun for everyone in the family including hands-on learning labs, an aquarium and rainforest, IMAX and 3D theatres and more! As one of the top science museums in the nation, you can’t go wrong here.

Discovery Place Kids
Separate from Discovery Place in uptown Charlotte, Discovery Place Kids is located in Huntersville and features developmentally-appropriate experiences that encourage interactive learning through play. By participating in rich play integrated with imagination and fun, kids explore their world, discover how to get along with others, test their skills and muscles, try out new ideas and develop confidence.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist

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Start the Summer with Fun in Charlotte

calendarLooking for something to do around Charlotte this coming month?  Here are some ideas…

Bringing the Best of Broadway to You
Like the Tony Awards?  Watch them with fellow fans!  The Blumenthal Performing Arts 9th Annual Tony Viewing Party will be held June 9th at McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square.  Admission is free, and complimentary food will be served.  A cash bar will also be available.  Check out the details!

Live Music Abounds
Charlotte does not disappoint when it comes to live music!  No matter what your musical taste, you can find a big-name act to coming to Charlotte – from Big Boi and Fleetwood Mac to Brad Paisley and David Byrne.  Every Thursday, catch great bands at the Epicentre at Alive After Five or at the Whitewater Center.  If you like to ring in your weekend with a bit of entertainment on Fridays, Friday LIVE! at the NC Music Factory can help you do just that!

Celebrate the Market
Atherton Mill and Market is turning three!  Join in the celebration on Saturday, June 8th. Peter Hatch will kick off the morning at 9:45am with a brief talk and will follow with a signing of his latest work “A Rich Spot of Earth’: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello” until 11am. The Mike Strauss Band will jam until noon, and chefs from Jim Noble’s restaurant The Kings Kitchen will perform cooking demonstrations beginning at 11am. There will also be activities for the kids and shopping to do!

Enjoy Craft Beers?
Sample various American craft beers at the 2nd annual Brew Stash Bash on Saturday, June 15th at the US National Whitewater Center. This event provides an opportunity to both taste and learn about our favorite craft brews while enjoying live music performances from Railroad Earth and more. The festivities will kick off at 11am with the Brew Dash, a 6K that winds throughout the USNWC trail system.

Robin Husney, Your Charlotte NC Real Estate Specialist

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