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Mid-Tenn Homes

-- September 20 - October 10, 2017- 3

W

hen drafting a to-do list for

home improvements that

can increase home value and ap-

peal, several renovations may be

atop homeowners’ lists. While

kitchen or bathroom remod-

els may be popular renovations,

homeowners also should consid-

er outdoor lighting schemes that

can make homes safer and more

alluring.

Outdoor lighting serves vari-

ous purposes. Such lighting can

draw attention to more impres-

sive parts of a property. In addi-

tion, such lighting can improve

security and deter criminals.

To get started, homeowners

should rst examine the exteriors

of their homes and make note of

existing lighting and where im-

provements canbemade. If you’re

not sure where to begin, speak

with an electrician or a landscape

designer, each of whom can of-

fer suggestions on lighting and

which options are the best t for

your particular property.

Next, you’ll want to consider

efciency and function. The Unit-

ed States Department of Energy

suggests incorporating energy-ef-

cient lighting, including energy-

saving LED bulbs or uorescent

lights, into your plans. Timers

and other automatic controls can

prevent waste by turning lights on

only when they are needed. Solar

lights can be used as accent lights,

further saving energy.

Beauty

When addressing aesthetics,

think about the appeal of an ac-

cented landscape. Include lights

to frame the front door and call

attention to certain elements,

such as decorative trees or water

features. Use lights to light up

deck stairways or to accent plant-

ers. Speak with a lighting profes-

sional about how to position lights

to cover the most territory in the

most attractive way possible.

Safety

Safety is an important consid-

eration when improving a home.

Lighting can help illuminate po-

tential hazards or draw attention

to borders or property boundar-

ies. Navigating in the dark can be

treacherous, so put lights along

pathways and near pools or spas.

Be sure that lights will clearly

mark other walkways around

your home, such as those leading

from doors to the yard or from

the garage to where trash and re-

cycling pails are kept. If a design

element such as a bridge over a

water feature or a particular or-

namental tree or shrub is difcult

to navigate in the dark, use lights

to improve visibility.

Security

Added security is another

reason to install more exterior

lighting. Dark homes are at-

tractive to burglars. Eliminate

dark corners by lighting up ar-

eas where thieves may be able to

gain access to your home. This

includes areas near doorways

and ground-level windows. In-

stall motion-sensor lights in

such areas so you are not wast-

ing energy.

Lighting may not only deter

human intruders, but also it can

scare away animals. A raccoon,

skunk or opossum may think

twice about hanging around

your home when your property

is bathed in a spotlight.

Revamping exterior lighting

elements can improve the safety

and the look of a home.

Exterior lighting improves the safety and appearance of a home

C

losing a pool at the end of the swimming

season can be bittersweet. Homeown-

ers may be sad to bid adieu to the lazy days

of splashing and swimming, but ready to em-

brace the cooler weather and the beauty of au-

tumn. Before the leaves begin to fall from the

trees, pool owners must prepare to close, or

winterize, their pools.

• Gather your supplies. Make a list of the

supplies you need to close the pool. Having

everything on hand will make the process far

more efcient than trying to wing it. Closing a

pool can be a large job, so it pays to have some

extra hands available. Enlist some helpers who

will be available to hand youmaterials or to as-

sist with placing the cover on the pool - which

can be challenging to do on your own.

• Don’t wait until the last minute to pur-

chase necessary chemicals. The chemicals

used throughout the season will also be need-

ed in the winterization process. Therefore, be

sure you have enough before pool supplies

become difcult to nd in area stores. These

include sanitizer, algaecide and pH-balancing

chemicals.

• Clean the entire pool area. Ensuring the

pool water and the surface of the pool is clean

can make reopening the pool easy. Vacuum

the pool thoroughly, removing any debris and

organic matter that can contribute to algae

growth. Don’t forget to brush down the walls

of the pool and clean the jets and area where

the lter skimmer meets the pool. Pool walls

have plenty of crevices where algae can hide

and multiply.

• Test the water. Leading pool products

manufacturer Hayward recommends adjust-

ing the pH to between 7.2 and 7.8 to prevent

stains, scaling and algae growth. Alkalinity

should be 80 to 125 ppm for plaster/gunite

pools and 125 to 150 ppm for other pool types.

Test the level of available chlorine, and super-

chlorinate the pool to maintain a sanitation

level of at least 4 ppm. Once the pool cover is

on, the amount of chlorine that escapes due

to sunlight and evaporation will decrease. An

algaecide may be used, if desired, as well. In

very cold climates, a pool-water antifreezemay

be necessary. Check with your pool supply re-

tailer for more information.

• Run the lter. Run the lter at least 24

hours before disassembling the lter for the

season. This will help circulate any chemicals

added through the water.

• Drain the pool’s water to the appropriate

level. Water should fall just below the skimmer

opening. Many pools do not need to be com-

pletely drained for the winter.

• Shut off the lter pump, heater and any

other equipment. Let all water drain out and

allow equipment to dry before storing them

away. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for

lubrication and covering. Install freeze plugs if

you choose to use them.

• Adjust electricity settings. Turn off the cir-

cuit to outdoor outlets that feed the pool equip-

ment, testing to make sure the power is off.

• Put accessories away. Remove any ladders,

diving boards, slides, external drain lines, and

other recreational materials from the pool,

storing them in a garage or shed so they are not

subjected to potentially harsh winter weather.

• Inate air pillows to roughly 80 percent

full if youwill be using them. Gather your help-

ers to attach the pool cover or leaf catcher net.

Secure it thoroughly with anchors, water bags,

wire fasteners, or whatever method is applica-

ble for the cover and pool type. Remember, a

quality pool cover will last for several years and

keep leaves, dust and other unwanted items

out of the water.

Come early autumn, homeowners can be-

gin closing their pools to keep them secure and

clean until the next swimming season begins.

Closing the pool for another season

O

n the heels of a reces-

sion that saw home

values drop, many would-

be investors have shied

away from buying invest-

ment properties. But real

estate has historically re-

mained a sound invest-

ment, boasting a long-term

appreciation rate that

makes it a worthwhile in-

vestment for those who can

withstand temporary set-

backs in housing prices and

hold on to their properties

over the long haul.

But investors are often

nervous as they look for

their rst properties. Un-

certainty about housing

prices aside, investing in

real estate also is risky, and

rst-time investors need to

be comfortable with such

risk in order to make the

most of their investments.

The following are a few

things potential real estate

investors should consider

as they decide if investing

in real estate is right for

them.

Personal ability

Real estate investors

typically have tenants, and

those tenants inevitably

have needs. Investors who

have experience as contrac-

tors may not nd it difcult

to renovate a property and

make it more attractive to

tenants, nor are they likely

to be inconvenienced when

minor issues on the prop-

erty need to be addressed.

Investors with no such ex-

perience will need to hire

contractors to do the work

for them, cutting into po-

tential prots down the

road. In addition, investors

who don’t have the ability

and/or the time to address

minor issues like a clogged

drainor adraftywindowon

their ownwill need to hire a

propertymanagement rm

to tend to such needs. Such

rms are effective, but also

expensive, further cutting

into your prots.

Even those investors

with contracting experi-

ence may have little or no

knowledge of how the leas-

ing process works, forcing

them to rely on a real es-

tate rm to write up leases

and ensure all leases stay

current. This, too, can cut

into an investor’s prots.

Investors who don’t bring

any relevant expertise to

the table can still make a

prot from their real es-

tate investments, but those

prots likely won’t be as

signicant when outside

companies must be hired

to ensure the property is in

good shape and all neces-

sary documents are in or-

der and up-to-date.

Time

Real estate is often a

time-consuming

invest-

ment. Tenants pay good

money to live in attractive

rental properties, and those

tenants will have a host of

needs that must be met.

Investorsmust be sure they

have the time to address

their tenants’ concerns,

especially investors with

no plans to hire property

management rms. Poten-

tial investors who already

have full plates at work and

at home may not be able to

devote the time necessary

to make the most of their

real estate investments,

and thereforemight be bet-

ter off nding another way

to invest their money.

Time also must be con-

sidered when considering

prots. Real estate is not

the type of investment that

turns a prot overnight.

Even investors who are

looking to invest in an up-

and-coming neighborhood

must be prepared to hold

onto their properties for

at least a few years, if not

much longer, to maximize

their investments. Though

real estate is a sound in-

vestment, it is not a get rich

quick typeof investment, so

investors looking tomake a

quick buck should consider

alternatives before buying

investment properties.

Size

First-time real estate

investors might be wise to

choose a smaller property

for their initial investment.

Larger properties can be

overwhelming to manage,

and investors often rely

on property management

rms to tend to these prop-

erties. Such rms charge

more to manage bigger

properties, which can eat

into investors’ nances.

Veteran investors can han-

dle such overhead costs,

but rst-timers might

nd themselves caught off

guard upon realizing the

gravity of their nancial

commitment. A good rule

of thumb for rst-time in-

vestors is to stick to smaller

properties, only moving

on to larger buildings once

they are fully comfortable

with all that comes with in-

vesting in real estate.

Costs

The cost of a real estate

investment goes beyond

the purchase price of the

home. In addition to the

mortgage on the prop-

erty, investors must pay

the taxes and insurance

on the property, as well as

any costs associated with

maintaining and manag-

ing the property. Certain

tax breaks are available to

real estate investors de-

pending onwhere they live.

For example, in the United

States, taxes on the prof-

its when a property is sold

may be deferred if those

prots are immediately

rolled into another proper-

ty (such a deferment is only

available to those investors

who arrange this exchange

prior to selling the initial

property). Potential inves-

tors need to consider all

of these costs, and might

want to hire a real estate

lawyer to help them make

the most of their invest-

ments and any prots they

yield. But evenhiring an at-

torney is an additional cost

investors must consider

before investing.

Real estate investing for beginners