Ways to Support Local Businesses

Without mincing words, times are scary. People are afraid, and beyond that there is a significant amount of uncertainty about what is to come. In times like these, it’s important to pull together as a community and support each other in any way possible. This includes the small businesses in your community, since they are an essential part of what keeps your community going; without your support during the darker times, some of them may not survive to see the sun come out again. How are you supposed to do that in a limited-contact or social isolation scenario, though? Fortunately, there are still several options available that will help you to help those local businesses that keep your community running.

Buy Gift Certificates

One great way to support local businesses is to buy gift cards and gift certificates even if you don’t need them right now. This allows you to make a simple purchase that minimizes potential contact while giving the business that issued the certificate some much-needed income. Once things improve, you can then return to the business and take your time using the gift cards you purchased. As an added bonus, they’re also easy to give to others if you know someone who’s in need.

Buy Branded Merchandise

Another good option is to buy branded merchandise such as t-shirts or coffee mugs that advertise the business. On top of the usual benefits of making a purchase, these items help to advertise the business as well. As an added bonus, buying branded merchandise helps you to show the business owner that you’re there to support the business specifically.

Order Online or On the Phone

Can’t get out? Check and see which businesses in your area offer online ordering and make use of that feature. If you can’t order online, give them a call and inquire about placing an order. You can even make arrangements for delivery or pickup while you’re on the phone.

Tip for Deliveries and Carry-Outs

A lot of people are relying on delivery and carry-out orders these days, especially from local restaurants. Unfortunately, a lot of people tip very little if at all for these services. Remember that a lot of employees are facing reduced hours in this stressful time, and every dollar helps. Be sure to tip even if you normally wouldn’t, and be generous when you do.

Spread the Word

There are many types of support. Financial support is definitely important for local businesses trying to stay open, but not everyone can help out financially. If you can’t afford to shop right now, try to get the word out on social media and other platforms. Share posts, talk about the businesses that you’d like to support and even post pictures of yourself wearing some branded merch. Every little bit helps, and someone might see your post and decide that they need to support local shops as well.

Donate Your Refunds

A major problem that small venues face is the refunding of canceled events. They’ve already spent money on advertising and racked up other costs, and now they’re losing their portion of ticket sales. If you have tickets for an event that was canceled and unlikely to be rescheduled, call the box office and inquire about donating your refund instead. While not all venues will do this, donating your ticket price lets those that do recoup some of what they spent and may even help them to stay open in the face of additional cancellations.

Be Considerate

Local businesses are a part of your community, and as such they want to see the community thrive. Situations like this are very stressful for business owners and employees alike, and the last thing that they want to see is people fighting over merchandise or those in need having to do without because someone else hoarded all the toilet paper. When shopping at local businesses, be courteous to other shoppers, maintain a safe distance so no one is crowded, and avoid the temptation to grab everything when you just need one or two items.

Shop Local

If you need to find local businesses and professionals to support, check out HomeKeepr. Not only can you open an account for free, but it will help you to find locals who need your support as well.
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Is Wallpaper Making a Comeback?

Wallpaper has been around for thousands of years in one form or another, with wallpaper-like wall coverings being used in China in 200 B.C. Modern style wallpaper with repeating patterns on continuous sheets was created by Jean-Michel Papillion in 1675, and it has remained a popular option ever since. With that said, wallpaper hasn’t been consistently loved since its invention; like most home décor trends, its popularity has waxed and waned over the years. In the past couple of years, it’s been looking like wallpaper is poised for a comeback. As more and more homeowners turn to wallpaper as an element in their home decoration plans, new trends are starting to emerge. Does that mean that wallpaper is really making a return? It certainly looks that way, and modern wallpaper is definitely leaving its own mark on interior design.

Wallpaper Textures

Textured wallpapers are nothing new, but there are several newer wallpapers that take texture to an extreme that would make older wallpapers clutch their pearls. Embossed designs, brick or wood textures, faux bamboo and even delightfully smooth and satiny wallpapers are changing what people think of when they consider what wallpaper feels like. Not only does textured wallpaper give your walls a novel tactile sensation, but some textures can even change the way the wallpaper looks by creating a 3D effect.

Gradients

Most people think of wallpaper as having a more or less consistent repeating pattern. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Many modern wallpaper designs incorporate gradients that let the colors on your walls change from floor to ceiling. Sometimes this effect can be subtle, but other wallpapers incorporate transitions between bold colors that really stand out. These can be a great way to accent specific colors in your décor or help direct attention to key pieces of furniture.

Bold Prints

In the past, wallpaper has run the gamut from subtle coloration to full-on tackiness. Some manufacturers are now inching as close to the latter as possible without crossing the line, offering up some bold prints that really capture the eye. Complex florals, colorful graphics and even wallpapers that create volumetric effects might seem like they’re too much, but in the right room they can really bring the décor to life.

Metallics

Wallpaper that incorporates metallic tones isn’t new, but some modern wallpaper is taking it a step further. Instead of simply using metallic tones as accents or working with flat metallics, modern wallpapers use metallic coloring along with texture and design to create effects like brushed steel, metal plating and other metal-like designs. This can let you capture the look and to an extent even the feel of metal without the substantial cost and hassle that can be involved with installing actual metal plating on your walls.

Combining Wallpaper Styles

One trend that’s really coming to the forefront with modern wallpaper is combining different wallpaper styles within the same room to really make the room stand out. Similar effects were created in the past using paint and wallpaper, but the modern trend uses contrasting wallpaper styles to better incorporate the textures and other features of wallpaper within the room. This can profoundly change both the look and feel of the room, transforming it from just a basic living space into an experience that really has to be seen to be believed. Even if you don’t take things quite that far, you can use this same technique to help match that couch that never really seems to go with anything.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

While wallpaper may have been less popular for a while, it never really went away. If you’re ready to embrace some of the modern wallpaper trends that are emerging in interior design, HomeKeepr can help. Sign up for a free account today and find a painter or other wallpaper expert you need to help you create that unique look that you’re searching for.
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Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Flipped Home

Buying a flipped home may seem daunting, but our easy guide makes it surprisingly simple.
If you’re in the market for a new house, you’ve probably already looked at a flipped home. A flipped home is an older home that’s purchased on the cheap, then updated for resale. Usually, this is done by an individual real estate agent who is also a licensed contractor. Most home flippers find a formula that works in their area, and duplicate it in almost every home they buy. Usually, they create an interior and exterior that will appeal to the majority of home shoppers. In most cases, that means stainless steel appliances, fresh granite countertops, and an open concept floor plan. Sometimes, bathrooms are retiled, and plumbing is updated. Add in new faucets, cabinets, and paint, and you’ve got an updated home that’s ready for sale. But is a flipped home right for you?

Should You Buy a Flipped Home?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing a flipped home. But before you do, make sure that you stop long enough to consider why the home was flipped in the first place. In most cases, the home is simply cosmetically outdated, and the former homeowners were not in the position to update it to sell. In this case, a home flipper can do a great job with beautiful cosmetic finishes and a few minor repairs. However, many flippers get a great price on a particular home in a neighborhood that backs up to an apartment complex, a retail outlet, or a busy street. Take a close look at the house before you buy: many homes that have been flipped were bought by an investor for a reason.

Location, Location, Location

Pay attention to the actual location of the house, and be sure it is situated in a good spot in the neighborhood. Home flippers love houses just blocks from colleges, as they can command a higher rent for investors, and turnover is very good. If you work at the college and this is your scene, it may be a great place to buy. But, if you are a family looking for a serene setting, use caution when purchasing a home near a university. Is there a stealth dorm next door? Is the neighborhood overrun with college kids at night or on weekends renting homes throughout the area? Do you want to live next door to the annual fraternity crawfish boil involving hundreds of students? The same caveat goes for homes located on major thoroughfares, or very near to apartment complexes or retail locations. Think about what the neighborhood will look like in five years. Consider noise from neighbors and traffic. Ask around about who lives nearby, and notice what surrounds your potential dream home.

Check the Home’s History

The house’s history is also a good thing for you to know, since so much has happened before you came into the picture. Did the home flipper get the proper permits to do the work they did on the house? Does the title need any remediation work? Have all of the house’s systems been updated to current code? If not, you could be facing expensive or dangerous problems that you’ll need to fix before you can get insurance. Checking the house’s Home Report is a great place to start, but you can also visit your local department of buildings and safety to check for previous permit applications, and make sure to look at a complete title report.

Get a Great Inspector

A house can look amazing with just a few cosmetic upgrades like a new kitchen, a new bath, and a few layers of paint. But these finishes may be covering up problems associated with old homes that haven’t been properly maintained. Get a great inspector to rule out unpleasant surprises like termite infestations, ancient plumbing and electrical systems, substandard HVAC systems, damaged foundations, moldy walls, rotted subfloors, leaky roofs, rusty gutters, and a host of other issues that no one wants to deal with. Don’t forget to ask for a separate inspection on any detached buildings, such as garages, as these structures usually aren’t inspected like the rest of the home. Remember that the home was flipped because its owners hadn’t updated it in a while, and inspect accordingly.

Your New Flipped Home

It’s a huge relief to walk into a home that has been beautifully updated and is move-in ready. That’s the advantage of a finding a home in your favorite area that has been flipped: it feels brand-new, without new-construction prices. Most resale homes will need a little work before you can move in. If you don’t want to live in the rubble of a remodel, then a flipped home may be a great option for you–as long as you do your homework. Before you fall in love with the snazzy new backsplash and shiny wood floors, check out the location, get the home’s history, and verify the home’s true condition with a very thorough inspection. It just may be that you’ve found your new flipped dream home.
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Home Detective of Minnesota Home Inspection Services

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Home Detective of Minnesota Home Inspection Services

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Homeownership Among Singles: A Growing Trend

When a lot of people think of buying a home, they picture it as a part of settling down and building a family. There’s a pretty good reason for this; couples and families do make up a significant portion of the home-buying population. But there is a growing trend among buyers that bucks this tradition: Single people have become increasingly likely to shop for a home in recent years.

The Importance of Singles Buying Homes

There are multiple reasons why the increase in singles buying homes is noteworthy. The uptick may be due in part to overall changes in society, with individuals marrying or starting families later in life, after trying to achieve stability. It also speaks to the increased economic power of the Millennial generation, with those in their 20s and 30s able to buy a home of their own even as they’re working on building a career. Of course, there is one other important thing about more singles buying homes that is easy to overlook. Those looking to sell their home may focus on making their property as appealing as possible to older buyers or those with families, missing out on this growing segment of homebuyers. Realizing that more singles are buying homes allows sellers to market their property to a wider range of buyers, increasing the likelihood of selling a home quickly and without having to compromise substantially on asking price.

Women as Homebuyers

One specific aspect of the increase in single homebuyers that is worth noting is the fact that single women are significantly more likely to buy homes than single men. In fact, as many as 1 in 5 potential buyers is likely to be a single woman according to recent trends. This is around twice as likely as a buyer being a single male. This difference is especially noteworthy when you consider that, on average, women typically earn only around 80 percent as much as men working in similar roles. This is another point that sellers should consider when putting their homes on the market. Not only is it increasingly likely that singles will be interested in the property, but when they are, they will probably be women shopping for a home. This really shakes up old mindsets that focus on married couples buying with the husband as a negotiator trying to get the best price on the home purchase.

Attracting Single Buyers

Single homebuyers may have different criteria when shopping for a house than couples or families. They may look for smaller properties, homes with large yards for gardening or other characteristics that might not be as important to couples or families. Location can be viewed differently by single buyers as well; they are less likely to be concerned with school districts and proximity to parks or other family destinations, and more likely to consider proximity to work or attractions that appeal to singles. Realizing how the priorities differ when it comes to buyers who are single versus couples and families can affect how you advertise the home you have for sale. Listings in areas that aren’t ideal for families can be targeted toward single buyers instead, focusing on those aspects that a single woman or man might find appealing. Even if you don’t target your sales specifically toward singles, being mindful of the differences can help you to create home listings that have a wider appeal across a range of potential buyers.

Prepping Your Home

If you’re putting your home on the market, it’s important to keep single buyers in mind. If you aren’t sure how to do this, you might consider bringing in a decorator or interior design expert that can help you to make your home as appealing as possible to a wider range of potential buyers. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account today to find the pro that can help you find the buyer that’s right for you.
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I Love a Parade! High Traffic Flooring Options

A nice deep pile carpet can look great in your home, but if you have a lot of foot traffic then it’s just asking for trouble. Not only will you have to work harder to keep it clean, but you’ll also have to replace it sooner than you’d like because all those feet and shoes will leave their mark over time. If you want nice-looking floors without worrying about your own personal parade wearing them down before their time, you need to find a flooring option that’s better suited for high-traffic areas.

Laminate Flooring

An increasingly popular option in homes, laminate flooring uses laminated wood slats with images applied to them to create the look of a premium flooring option without the premium price. Laminate is available in a wide range of sizes and types; choose thicker 12mm or 15mm laminates to help ensure that they won’t wear down due to excessive foot traffic. If you want something a bit different than standard laminates, some companies are also now making vinyl flooring that functions similarly to laminate floors but with the water resistance and other benefits of using vinyl.

Natural Stone

If you really want something that can stand up against some foot traffic, consider going with natural stone. These stone tiles add a touch of beauty and class while giving you the wear protection that only stone can provide. Depending on the option you choose, this may run a bit more expensive than other options, but there is very little out there that can match the look of stone in the end.

Concrete Flooring

Though this may sound unappealing when you first think of it, there’s a lot that can be done with concrete flooring. You can add color, stains, etchings, stamps and even embedded features such as stones or tiles to really bring the floor to life. Best of all, you already know that concrete can stand up to a lot of traffic and use without showing any wear, so you won’t have to worry about your floors showing their age for quite some time.

Hardwood

Another option, which can be a bit pricey depending on the wood you go with, is hardwood. There is very little that can beat a hardwood floor when it comes to beauty and wear resistance. You have several woods to choose from, each giving the floor its own touch of color and personality. The maintenance of hardwood is a little higher than some other options if you want to keep it looking its best, but the little bit of extra time you spend keeping up your floor is more than worth it.

Ceramic Tile Flooring

There are a lot of benefits to using ceramic tile in your high-traffic areas. Tile is versatile, comes in a wide range of colors and styles, creates a classic look, and is relatively easy to repair and replace if individual tiles get broken. Don’t worry that the look of ceramic tile is dated, either; while you might think that tile will give you the generic “tile floor” look of decades past, modern ceramic tile is truly a sight to behold.

Traffic-Resistant Carpet

Yes, carpet isn’t always the best flooring option for high-traffic areas. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t carpeting options available for rooms that see a lot of use, however. Not only are there low-pile carpets and other options designed with higher-traffic use in mind, but you can also get carpet tiles and other carpet options that are both easy to maintain and easy to repair if parts of them start showing a bit too much wear.

Finding the Right Flooring Option

Obviously, there are a few options available to keep your floors looking nice despite the amount of traffic they see. If you aren’t sure which is the best option for your specific situation, check out HomeKeepr to match up with a professional installer who can help. Not only will you find out which flooring options are best for different situations, but you’ll also get a great deal on having your new floor installed. Sign up for free today to get started.
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Deliveries, Security and You

In our modern always-connected world, it seems like we’re always having packages dropped off from one re-tailer or another. If you receive packages regularly while you’re not home, though, you may be setting yourself up for problems. Packages left alone on your porch invite thieves to come up and take them, and if there are regularly people coming to your property to drop deliveries off then your neighbors might not think that it’s strange when one more person walks up with a box… even if it turns out to be a burglar with the foresight to throw on a brown shirt and carry a package.So how can you make sure that your package deliveries aren’t creating a big risk for you? There are a few ways.

Establish a Delivery Area

When placing orders online, you often have the option to provide instructions to delivery drivers to make sure that your packages are delivered correctly. If you’re concerned about how frequent deliveries affect your home security, you can use these instructions as a powerful tool to thwart would-be thieves. Set up a delivery area around your home that’s covered or otherwise protected but not directly adjacent to your home and leave instructions for drivers to place any packages there. If possible, place the delivery space in an area that is clearly visible from neighboring houses as well. Because this designated area stands on its own, anyone entering it to try and steal packages will be very visible. It also foils would-be burglars because they now have no convenient excuse to approach your house.

Set Up Security Cameras

One thing that you can do to keep both your home and your packages safe is to install security cameras around your front door. This will allow you to see who’s coming to your house and will also provide evidence in case a burglar or thief approaches. If someone comes on your porch and steals your packages, you’ll have video of the thief and you’ll have proof that a theft took place so you can file a claim with the shipping company or retailer. You can even put cameras in an external delivery area if you’ve set one up! Make sure that you purchase a high-quality camera, though; cheap security cameras provide grainy and washed out footage that makes it very difficult to identify a perpetrator.

Invest in Smart Monitors

If you’re worried that a burglar might dress as a delivery person to gain access to your property, consider installing smart monitors on your windows and doors. These monitors may or may not be part of an alarm system – but setting off an alarm isn’t all that they can do. When triggered, the devices can notify you not only that a window or door was opened but also which one was triggered. This allows you to call a neighbor or notify the police and provide very specific details as to where a potential burglar entered. In some cases, the monitors may even be integrated into locks so that you can lock windows or doors remotely if you realize that you left them unlocked, taking care of a mistake that might have given a burglar easy access to your home.

Install a Security System

If these solutions don’t do enough to keep your packages and your home safe, consider getting a full home security system installed. These systems are more than just alarms; they contain several components that work together, along with active monitoring to contact the authorities or take other action if something suspicious occurs. Best of all, they can protect your home from other problems such as fires and even water leaks.

Keep Your Home Secure

Regardless of how you choose to close security holes related to package deliveries, you can find a security expert on HomeKeepr who can help you get the job done right. Sign up for free today so you can have a safer and more secure tomorrow!
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Care and Feeding of Brick Siding

Having brick siding installed on your house gives it a classic look. Unfortunately, a lot of people view brick as an install-it-and-forget-it option and allow that look to deteriorate over time. Brick homes require basic maintenance and care just like vinyl and wood siding do, though the specifics of maintenance may be a little bit different. It’s just like with anything: If you want the look, you have to put in the work to keep it up.Fortunately, maintaining your brick isn’t that difficult. Even better, the maintenance you do now can help prevent your brick siding needing major repairs in the future. So long as you’re willing to put forth a little effort, you should be able to keep your home looking great for years to come.

Cleaning Your Brick

The brick on your home is exposed to the elements on a 24/7 basis, and the rough surface of most bricks make them ideal for picking up dust and dirt. This can lead to damage over time, so once or twice a year you should take the time to clean your bricks. Most of the time this is as simple as spraying them down with a garden hose to remove any dirt and grime that’s built up on your home, though particularly tough spots and areas may need a scrub brush with soapy water as well. Avoid the temptation to use a power washer as the high water pressure can damage the brick.

Vegetation and Mildew Removal

While some plants such as ivy provide what some consider a dignified look, any vegetation that grows on your brick will damage it. Remove any vines, moss or other plants that you notice growing up your brick wall, making sure to wear gloves in case the plant is something that you don’t want to touch like poison ivy. You should also periodically check your brick for signs of mildew or mold, both of which can damage the brick surface as they grow. Scrub the area where you notice these growing, spraying them with a diluted solution of bleach and water to kill off any remaining remnants or spores. It’s a good idea to wet down the brick before you spray it, though, as this will prevent bleach from collecting in deeper contours of the brick and causing discoloration.

Checking for Damage

There are two types of damage you should check for at least once per year when you have a brick home. The first is impact damage, resulting from something hitting the brick and causing cracks, chips or other damage to it. This can come from a variety of sources, including things as ordinary as a lawnmower throwing a rock. The second type of damage to look for is water damage, which occurs when rain or splashing water repeatedly hits an area of the brick and starts to wear it away. Both of these can damage not only the bricks but the surrounding mortar as well. When damage is found, scrub the area to remove any loose material and keep an eye on the area to see if the damage gets worse over time. If the damage is caused by splashing water or other environmental issues, you might also adjust your landscaping or install additional drainage to redirect water and prevent further damage.

Repointing and Repair

As brick and mortar become damaged, you may need to make repairs from time to time. If the damage is just to the mortar, scrape and chisel away any damaged portions and apply new mortar to the entire area where wear and damage is present; this is typically known as repointing. If there are bricks that are damaged to the point that they need to be replaced, chisel away the mortar surrounding those bricks until they can be removed. Apply fresh mortar and new bricks to fill the damaged area.

Getting It Just Right

If the thought of replacing bricks or mortar intimidates you, we can help. Sign up for HomeKeepr today and we’ll help you find the masonry professional that can get the job done exactly the way you want it.
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What Color Should I Paint My Walls for the Best Return?

Painting your home is a great way to express yourself and let your personality shine through in your living space. The colors you choose for your rooms can really bring them to life in ways that few other changes can. However, a fresh coat of paint can do more than just give your rooms some personality. With the right colors, the paint you choose can even increase the likelihood that your house will sell at a good price when you put it on the market. To maximize this effect, there are a few colors you should consider (and a few you should avoid.)

Picking the Right Color

If you’re looking for a good color to apply throughout the house, consider a light shade of gray or beige. Both of these colors help to liven up rooms by adding just a bit of color but are neutral enough to let each room’s other accents take command. If you want something a bit different, taupe or so-called “greige” colors (mixes of gray and beige) can also work well. Some off-white colors, especially those with hints of brown or other warm shades, can also brighten up your rooms. Many of these colors pair well with white or beige baseboards and trim.

Good Kitchen Colors

If you’re going room by room, the kitchen is a good place to add a bit of darker color. Darker grays and grays mixed with darker blue shades do well in the kitchen; in fact, some reports have shown that homes with a gray-blue shade in the kitchen sell for an average of $1800 more than similar homes with other kitchen shades. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the amount of wall that’s actually visible behind the cabinets and appliances, you may be able to get away with hotter colors such as deep red or dark orange. Just avoid going too bright with whatever color you choose.

Living Room and Bath Colors

The living area and bathroom both benefit from more neutral shades such as beige and gray, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change things up in some cases. Consider the flooring and other fixtures as well as the amount of natural light that comes into the room and look at colors that take advantage of what’s already there. Light green, blue or brown can sometimes work wonderfully, especially if they include hints of gray to keep them from being too bright. You can even choose a bit stronger blues in the bathroom as homebuyers tend to respond well to blue there, just so long as you don’t go for too bright of a shade.

Bedroom Colors

Blue is a popular bedroom color, especially in shades such as cerulean. There are several bold color choices that you can get away with in the bedroom, though. Don’t go crazy with the bedroom colors and avoid anything that’s too bright – but giving the bedroom a splash of color in blue, green or even red or brown can work well so long as it’s not too much of a departure from the rest of the house.

Colors to Avoid

There are, of course, a few colors that you should avoid when painting your walls. Anything too bright or garish should obviously be avoided since it could turn off potential buyers. Black is another color to avoid; not only do many people find it depressing, but it will also be difficult for future homeowners to cover up. Also on the list of colors to avoid? Bright white. You might think that this would give your home a clean look or make it ready for a new homeowner to customize, but bright whites (especially when paired with white trim) often create a clinical look that actually makes buyers less interested in the space.

Making the Choice

If you’re not sure which colors will work best in your home, consider bringing in an interior designer or painter to help you pick the perfect hue. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account today and you can find the perfect helper for your budget and your sense of style.
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