There are a lot of things – from changing your car’s oil to treating your home for termites to buying new underwear – that should be done in regular intervals. Often forgotten until it’s too late is servicing your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioner).
CHANGE YOUR FILTERS! – The easiest thing you can do is keep your filters clean, and it makes a profoundly helps not overtax your system. Dirty, clogged filters can lower your air conditioner’s efficiency by 5 – 15%, or even more, it can shorten your HVACs life by years. Most technicians suggest replacing your filter every 1-2 months, depending on the filter. One thing I’ve also learned in 18 years of real estate is that a dirty air filter is often a sign of a negligent seller, and if the filter looks like it hasn’t been changed in years, chances are other mechanicals are suffering from neglect as well.
SCHEDULE SEASONAL CHECK-UPS – General rule of thumb is to have a licensed technician inspect your system before systems switch between heating and cooling. April and October are good. It’s more of a safety issue with the heater – especially if it’s gas-powered – but if your air conditioner is out of coolant, it can be miserable.
MONITOR YOUR COMPRESSORS – It’s important to keep your outside system clean, and free of debris. Leaves will eventually fall into the system, the paint will eventually start to peel, but if you have cottonwood trees nearby, ivy growing, or tall grass, your exterior coils can easily become clogged. Clogged coils will decrease your unit’s efficiency and can end up drastically shortening the lifespan of your system.
BONUS: MONITOR YOUR SECONDARY DRAIN LINE – Depending on when your property was built, there should be a mysterious piece of PVC leading through a gable below your roof or above a tub or sink. This is your secondary drain line. If this is dripping water it means the primary line is clogged, which can lead to damage to the secondary drain pan or even a leak. If you see this dripping water, call your trusted HVAC technician.
What an unforgettable, terrible cold front it was it was. Record snow, near-record low temperatures…. and in typical Texas weather fashion, 70 degrees the next week.
Unfortunately those of us who don’t have a crystal ball and didn’t winterize ahead of time, the damage is largely already done. The best we can do is assess the damage and rebuild/replant/repair.
Here are a few things to consider:
Plants – When you hit a hard freeze, even “hearty” plants can suffer. During an extended hard freeze, the water within a plants cells freezes, causing destruction at a cellular level. It can take several days for the damage to appear, and like someone recovering from frostbite, gradually introduce heat to your plant will help slowly introduce warmth to the cells. Remove mushy leaves/flowers, so fungus doesn’t take hold. With wooded plants, it’s best to leave them until spring. and prune/cut as necessary. The best thing you can do for your lawn is to fertilize it in March.
Swimming Pool – Hopefully you a) had power and b) kept your pump going. There are a lot of different indicators that you have damaged pool plumbing. The most obvious is bubbles coming out of the jets. More subtle signs include: tile cracked/falling tiles, wet spots in the yard, water pooling under pool equipment, and dropping water levels. Pools can be absolute money pits, but to pool lovers they’re essential for Texas summers.
Plumbing – If there is an upside to your plumbing being damaged by freezing temperatures, you’re going to see it once your pipes thaw. “Assessing the damage after a winter freeze is a pretty straightforward process,” says Andy Parrish, owner of Pro-Bowl Plumbing, “The damage has already been done, and if you’ve had damage done to the copper or cast iron piping in your house, you’re going to know about it the moment the water starts to flow again.” If you need a great plumber referral (such as Andy), give me a call.
The election has come-and-gone, and the market didn’t miss a beat. We had a bit of quiet the first and second weeks of November, but nothing like it had been in previous years. Looking ahead, pending sales are up considerably from 2019, telling us that it will be a very busy November. December is normally among the quietest months in the year, but since when is anything in 2020 normal? It’s unlikely the market will scrape anywhere near the bottom that April and May were. After all, it’s really hard to sell real estate when you’re not able to leave your house.
It’s been a wild year thus far for property appreciation. Many ‘experts’ we worried the shutdown would lead to a collapse in prices, but it’s done the opposite. Bear in mind, average sales prices in DFW from October 2020 as compared to October 2019 were up 13%, but that doesn’t mean your property is suddenly worth 13% more. You have to figure in what area you live in (real estate is local) which varies wildly. MLS area 19 (my home town of Sunnyvale) is up an astonishing 43% (but again, if you live in Sunnyvale your home isn’t necessarily 43% more valuable than last year), while area 47 (Delta County) figured out how to drop 39%. My point being, ask me if you are curious what your neighborhood is doing.
By the time you’re reading this, we’re past Thanksgiving. In all honesty, it’s been a tough one. I’m blessed to have Kacie – in fact I don’t deserve her – but being without the rest of our families has been hard. I do hope you were able to spend yours with loved ones. When you’re younger you think there will never be an end to the number of holidays you’ll celebrate. As time goes on, you realize that’s just not the case. Everything is temporary.
Every year it’s a given that the holidays will be something that destroys all the weight-loss progress that people have made from January – October, and it starts with Thanksgiving. Does it have to be this way? Here are a few ideas that might help you keep your fat pants in the closet:
1) Be Prepared – Turkey Day and Christmas don’t sneak up on us, they’re the same day every year. In the days leading up, eat modestly but often. Your body responds most efficiently when you eat 5-6 small meals per day, or at least modest meals with a couple snacks sandwiched in between. On the day of the feasts, have a sensible breakfast and a modest snack leading up to your meals, you’ll ensure your body isn’t hungry and thus in starvation/gorging mode when you hit the buffet line.
2) Choose What You Eat – Yes, stuffing is delicious. And heck yes, dessert is too. But what else is the Holiday Season known for? Turkey. Ham. Chicken. Eat protein. Fill half your plate with it. Avoid the dark meat if possible, and keep the dressing to a minimum. If you fill up on protein, there’s much less room for that which can expand your waistline.
3) Portion Control – My nemesis. Eat one plate full of food. You may be like me, and be inclined to eat as fast as possible so you can be first in the second helping line, but DO NOT do it. Eat slowly and drink lots of water during the process. Water will help to expand the contents in your stomach (especially carbohydrates), and will help make you feel full.
4) Exercise Afterwards – Yes it’s the holidays. Yes family is in town. Yes the Cowboys are on. But your food is settling in your stomach, and in addition to drinking water, the best way to facilitate intestinal mobility (a fancy term for the obvious) is to at least go for a 20 minute brisk walk afterwards.
Historically, the months leading up to an election have been rather quiet. But what the heck, 2020 is unique for a lot of terrible reasons so it may as well be unique for a good reason or two.
Regardless of who is in the lead, uncertainty causes both businesses and individuals to hold their breath. September’s MLS stats proved that wrong, with pending sales an unbelievable 23% above those of September 2019 DESPITE a 48% reduction in for-sale inventory. Since 2014 I’ve heard people say, “I’m going to wait until the market peaks before I sell”, and I usually bit my lip. Not anymore. If you’re considering selling, now is a phenomenal time. There aren’t going to be as many buyers out there as there were in July, but the bump up in sales prices that the summer almost always provides has been apparent.
A new drink has captured my heart and is in the process of cirrhosizing my liver: Ranch Water. In my quest for an adult beverage with modest calories, this is certainly worthy of mention. Ingredients: 2 jiggers of blanco tequila, 1 jigger lime juice, large splash of Topa Chico. It’s a delightfully tart, slightly sweet, refreshing beverage with only 222 calories, and two certainly does the job.
Of the many vacations Kacie and I have enjoyed over the years, Montana has given us the worst “vacation hangover” of them all. One thing that we noticed in Montana was there was not one piece of litter anywhere we went. Friendly people for the most part (minus an outlier with a California license plate on his Range Rover), and everyone was respectful of the environment and one another. I asked a native Montanan if they ever got used to the beautiful scenery, she said she appreciates it every day.
This is the backyard view we had at our house at the Wilderness Club. It doesn’t do it justice.
I’m going to try to stay as upbeat on this as possible, but every time modern issues – be they social, political or even medical – serve to hinder or diminish what were some of my fondest childhood memories, it’s difficult to remain positive.
Halloween is almost upon us. Trick-or-Treat enthusiasm has diminished over the last 30 or so years, but it’s still been a thing lots of kids and parents have enjoyed. Unfortunately it would appear traditional Halloween in 2020 is cancelled, and here are a few Frown Upside Down alternatives thanks to our loving benefactors at the CDC:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
- Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
- Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
- Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
- Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
- Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
- Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house
Frankly, I’m all for pumpkin carving (or magic markering them if, like my mother in the 80s, your child can’t be trusted with knives and stabbing weapons), being festive, and dressing up in elaborate costumes, but not being able to go door-to-door and enjoy the Halloween spirit is frustrating to say the least.
But that’s 2020: the year that would never end.