Alexander Chandler Realty Real Estate Blog

By: Dona DeZube

Published: December 12, 2013

It’s the last year for three sweet home tax benefits, but the first for a way simpler home office deduction.

These days few things start a fight on Capitol Hill faster than taxes. Despite the fact that three important tax benefits used by millions of American homeowners are days from expiring, Congress is unlikely to do anything to re-up them any time soon.
So if you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013.
At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the

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By: John Riha

Published: October 1, 2012

You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.

2. Don’t be a drip.

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and

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10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Published: April 19, 2012
  • By: Courtney Craig 
Is hydrogen peroxide a non-toxic weapon in your green cleaning arsenal? It should be!
  • Effort: Low 1 hr. (cleaning)
  • Investment: Low $1 (16-oz. bottle)
Bottle of hydrogen peroxide in a cabinet

Hydrogen peroxide is a non-toxic cleaner for many areas of your home. Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

When it’s time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners at the ready — baking soda, vinegar, castile soap — plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can’t beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck.

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s

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Fence Etiquette: Tips to Avoid Neighbor Disputes

By: Ann Cochran

Published: March 23, 2011

If you practice fence etiquette and bone up on local zoning regs, you can avoid neighbor disputes.

Must-dos

Observe boundaries: Don’t risk having to tear down that fence by going even one inch over your property line. Study your house line drawing or plat or order a new survey ($500 to $1,000) from a land surveyor to be sure of boundaries. Fence companies usually install a foot inside the line, to be on the safe side.
 
Respect limits: Fencing companies obtain permits and must know local zoning regulations for height, setbacks, and other restrictions. Height limits typically are 6 feet for side and back yards; 4 feet for front yards. More restrictive

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What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

By: G. M. Filisko

Published: March 12, 2010

Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science

When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home

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What I Learned About Portable Generators One Dark and Stormy Night

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: July 3, 2012

A sudden and long-lasting power outage makes a portable generator a must. But finding one when you need it isn’t easy. Here’s one home owner’s odyssey.

A land hurricane blew through the mid-Atlantic Friday night and left 1 million of us powerless — no lights, no air conditioning, no nothing.

This isn’t the first time — or the 10th time — we’ve been without power in the 15 years we’ve owned a home in McLean, Va. Each time, I swear to buy a generator so we’re not caught with our watts down again, but after the lights return, the urgency passes.

What kills me is that I urged my husband, Greg, to buy a generator last week when we were

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Checklist for HVAC Maintenance

By: Douglas Trattner

Published: July 17, 2013

Here's an easy, doable preventative maintenance plan to keep your HVAC in top shape.

But you can prolong the life and increase the efficiency of your system if you follow this simple maintenance plan:

  • Buy a better filter if you haven't already. The new high-efficiency pleated filters have an electrostatic charge that works like a magnet to grab the tiniest particles — even those that carry bacteria.
  • Replace the filter at least every 90 days. But check it monthly. If it looks dark and clogged, go ahead and change it. If you have pets, you'll probably need to change every month.
  • Check to make sure there's at least two feet of clearance around outdoor
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Create a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

By: Wendy Paris

Published: August 28, 2009

Preparing and keeping a fully stocked home emergency preparedness kit could be the key to your family's safety if disaster strikes.

First, make sure important papers are in order

If a flood destroys your home, you could spend weeks or even months just trying to re-create the essential documents you'll need to get back on track. That's why it's critical to have backups of important papers, including the deed to your house, proof of insurance, medical records, passports, social security cards, and a list of personal contacts. Keep one copy at home in a portable case and another offsite in a safe place. And while you're at it, use the opportunity to check

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7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

By: John Riha

Published: March 4, 2011

Here’s how to get the bathroom of your dreams without making your budget a nightmare.

A mid-range bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. An average bath remodel of $15,782 will recoup about 65.2% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home, and a more extensive $50,000 job returns about 58%. In addition, you can maximize the value of your investment by using these smart strategies, which will create a stylish yet budget-friendly bathroom.

1. Stick to a plan

A bathroom remodel is no place for improvisation. Before ripping out the first tile, think hard about how you will use the space,

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8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home

By: Pat Curry

Published: February 18, 2011

Here are eight ways to help your home put its best face forward.

The way your house looks from the street -- attractively landscaped and well-maintained -- can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. But which projects pump up curb appeal most? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color.

Tip #1: Wash your house’s face

Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.

A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can

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