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When you imagine a peaceful paradise, what do you see? Is it palm trees swaying or a misty morning in a sprawling pine forest? Whatever you envision, the chances are that you’re not seeing piles of stuff in every corner. Clutter keeps your home from being that peaceful paradise — but the good news is that there’s an easy way to win the battle against stuff.

The key is to create an organizational strategy that works for you. That means you’ll actually want to use it — which, in turn, means you won’t give up on it after a few months and end up buried in clutter again.

To make that organizational strategy a reality and turn your home into a relaxing retreat, you’ll need to take these simple steps.

Don’t let mental clutter stop you from getting organized

Sometimes, clutter is just as much about what’s in your head as what’s in your home. Seeing so much stuff can be overwhelming — and if you’re not sure where to start, it’s possible that you’ll never want to start at all. This is part of the reason why clutter quickly gets out of hand: It’s easier to brush it aside than to address what’s going on under the surface.

To successfully organize and declutter your home, you’ll need to deal with mental clutter first. Here are a few things to keep in mind — and a few to get out of your mind while you’re at it.

Make a plan

Your first order of business should be making a plan to help you start organizing. It doesn’t matter which decluttering method you choose or where you prefer to begin — what’s important is that you have a clear path to follow. This helps you know where to start, which steps to take in what order and how to prioritize your rooms. Plus, having a plan means you’ll be able to see — and feel motivated by — your continuing progress.

Get others on board

Let’s face it: If you’re the only one organizing, you won’t make much ground in the battle against stuff — and that’s its own kind of mental clutter.

To be sure you’re actually making progress, it’s important to get others on board. This can be as simple as getting the kids to put their toys away or as intricate as working with your spouse to design decluttering methods that work for both of you. No matter who’s in your house, get them to help — or at least get them to stay out of your way.

Start with the easy stuff

Part of why decluttering the house feels so difficult is the sheer amount of work you expect from a job like this. To make it easier, give yourself permission to start with the easy tasks. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore, toys the dog doesn’t play with, knickknacks you never liked anyway and even furniture that just doesn’t fit in your space. By eliminating this first round of clutter, you’ll feel like you’re making great progress and you’ll have a clearer view of what still needs organizing.

Acknowledge your emotions

Sometimes, clutter sticks around because you’re emotionally attached to it one way or another. To make sure feelings don’t get in the way of your organizing journey, be sure to acknowledge your emotions — but don’t be ruled by them. The key is to find your ideal balance between logic and nostalgia.

For example, a snowglobe from your first family vacation may not serve a purpose, but it’s an important keepsake. On the other hand, a wall-hanging from a friend might stick around just because you feel too guilty to take it down — which means it’s just adding clutter to your space.

Battling stuff

To win the battle against stuff, you’ll need to know how to address different spaces in your home. Here are a few tips that can help turn the tides in your favor.

  • Use the Peter Walsh method.

This one likely won’t work in big spaces, like living rooms or kitchens, but it can be a big help for closets, kids’ play areas and more. According to Forbes, the Peter Walsh method of decluttering starts by removing everything from a certain space. Once the room is empty, start putting items back one at a time. As you do, you’ll notice what stuff you actually want in the room and what feels like clutter.

  • Try the 365-day method.

This method usually takes a year, but if you’d prefer your organizing journey to be a sprint instead of a marathon, you can shorten the timeframe.

Take all the clothing hangers in your closet and turn them in one direction. As you wear clothes, turn the hangers the opposite direction so you know you’ve used them recently. At the end of a year (or however long you want the method to take), you’ll have a visual representation of what you actually wear and what can be donated to free up extra space.

  • Don’t forget the junk drawer.

It can be tempting to take stuff without a home and cram it into the junk drawer — which is why you should challenge yourself to declutter that, too. Chances are, your junk drawer has a lot of clutter that can be reorganized, stored elsewhere or thrown away. You can use a drawer organizer or drawer divider to help win this particular declutter challenge.

  • Consider a garage sale for kids’ toys.

Having a hard time convincing the kids to let go of toys they don’t use anymore? One simple trick is to plan a kids’ garage sale. The little ones may not like the idea of their stuff walking away in a stranger’s hands — but they will be excited to help out if you give them the money from anything they manage to sell.

Designing a more peaceful home

Decluttering isn’t all about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about giving every item a home — that way, you won’t slip back into bad habits. To make your house that perfect paradise, try some of these solutions that will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of organization.

Savvy storage solutions

If you come across something you don’t want to get rid of but don’t really want sitting out, you’ll probably want to shove it into a storage space. However, these areas quickly get overwhelmed when you use them as a cure-all. To keep household items from overflowing from the drawer or spilling out from under the bed, create more storage space throughout your home. For example, you could add shelves to the garage or laundry room, use office or home gym closets for household stuff, buy furniture with built-in storage and more. According to Better Homes & Gardens, you can also consider going vertical with your storage solutions to save space.

When choosing how and where to store your stuff, remember that even the cutest storage solution is no good if you won’t actually use it. Make sure storage fits into your life — not the other way around.

Clever closets

If you have a linen closet or other storage space in your laundry room, mud room, hallways or garage, use it to your advantage. Instead of stuffing them with, well, stuff, use them as a home for items that have a tendency to get lost or end up in the way — for example, keeping shoes in a closet by the front door so they’re not all over the house, or hanging keys in a closet when you come in from the garage. That way, you’ll always know where these things are, because you’ll have to pass them to get out the door.

Choosy children

If you have young kids — or even teenagers — you’ll want to create organization techniques they can be on board with. If it’s too much work, little ones might lose interest, while older kids might just forget — so when it comes to getting kids organized, keep it simple. For example, make sure little hands can reach the drawers they need to use to put their toys away, and give teens the tools they need to organize their own space (so their stuff doesn’t end up in yours).

Helpful habits

To get into good organizing habits, it’s important to pay attention to the little stuff. For example, throw out empty containers in the kitchen and bathroom, get rid of broken items you’re never going to fix and — perhaps most importantly — don’t buy things on impulse. It’s okay to add a knickknack or decoration to your home now and again, but impulse buys can end up as clutter you’ll just have to deal with later.

Limiting future clutter

Once you get your home organized and decluttered, the last thing you want to think about is having to do it all over again. The good news is that there’s one approach that can help out: minimalism.

According to Good Housekeeping, minimalism is the practice of “living with less.” It’s all about simplicity and stress-free living areas — but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Here are a few ways to adapt minimalism to your needs and make this decluttering method a lifestyle.

  • Learn why you have too much stuff in the first place. If you’re guilty of impulse buys, recognizing that habit can help you reach your minimalist goals. Similarly, if you tend to keep things for nostalgic reasons, you could consider adapting to mementoes that don’t gather dust — like pictures stored in a digital file.
  • Don’t take it too far. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything you own. In fact, if you try to take it too far, you’ll burn yourself out — so make minimalism part of your life rather than letting it have total control. Start small — maybe just one room at a time — and see what’s most comfortable for you.
  • Pay attention to what’s meaningful. Avoid items that have no purpose or value beyond aesthetics — no matter how cute they might be. Instead, try decorating with things that are meaningful to you. Remember, “meaningful” is up to your personal definition — so even if something doesn’t feel particularly minimalist, you should hold onto it as long as it actually makes you happy.
  • Have a purpose. Good Housekeeping recommends having a purpose for your minimalist lifestyle. Understand why you’re making these changes — to save money, try a new decluttering method, simplify your life or something else — and use that as motivation to guide you.

Start fresh with Bungalo®

There are a lot of reasons to declutter — but for many people, the journey begins when it’s time to pack everything up and move to a new home. If you’re hoping for a fresh start, make sure organization is one of the first things on your list; after all, there’s no better time to get rid of extra stuff than right before you have to drag it across town or even across the country. Plus, a new home is the perfect opportunity to create and stick to organizational techniques that you’ll actually maintain.

Another thing to keep in mind is the home search itself. If you look for houses with ample storage space, like big kitchen cabinets or plentiful shelves, you won’t end up cramming things in closets or under beds while you’re trying to move in. Also, if you really want to win at your home search, keep in mind that Bungalo Certified houses come with guarantees that your new place is free of issues from electrical to HVAC and beyond — which means you won’t get any nasty surprises when you’re trying to organize your new home.

To get started finding your peaceful paradise, browse Bungalo listings today. This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

If just hearing the words “increasing home value” is enough to send a shiver down your spine, you’ve come to the right place. Upgrades and home improvements don’t have to be stressful to increase resale value — and knowing where and how to invest your time will make every project feel more like progress.

Roll up your sleeves, grab a hammer and get ready to learn about home improvements that your wallet — and every potential buyer — will thank you for when moving day rolls around.

Home improvements that add value

Whether you’re buying a renovated house or are working on your own fixer-upper, one thing is clear: Paying attention to home value from day one will keep you from making mistakes that could hurt your chances — or your bottom line — if you ever want to sell. The truth is that every home buyer is unique, but no matter their values, they often care a great deal about curb appeal.

Isn’t curb appeal subjective?

Curb appeal might just be one of the most subjective things in the real estate world. One person’s front yard fountain installation could be another person’s blocked view of the front porch. So how do you know what to do and what definitely not to do when choosing home upgrade projects that increase a home’s value?

Your best bet is to keep it simple.

If your goal is to sell your home, whether that means now or in ten years, make sure you do everything with curb appeal in mind. That means making your choices carefully — for example, take care of the lawn (who doesn’t love a lush green front yard?) and avoid additions that might make buyers drive right on by. Basically, don’t do anything a house-hunter will have to pay to undo later, or your resale value will suffer.

Maybe you’re not really a hammer-and-nail type of person. If that’s the case, don’t worry — when you buy or sell with Bungalo®, renovation projects big and small are handled for you.

What boosts curb appeal?

Because curb appeal isn’t so easy to pin down, it may be helpful to think of other words to inform your renovation planning. For example, do you want your house to be welcoming, homey and warm, or would you rather go for stately and impressive?

Either way, curb appeal adds home value — and achieving that perfect aesthetic is a long-term project. Luckily, you can get started as soon as you walk in the door for the first time.

Here are a few things that boost a home’s curb appeal:

Gardening

Gardens are blooming with possibility — literally. Adding a garden to your yard increases curb appeal by giving your house a fresh, living component that could juxtapose wonderfully with wood, brick, vinyl or stone siding. It also makes spaces feel more dynamic — for example, gardens can make square front yards look less geometric and more like home.

Gardens also promise an element of self-sufficiency that many house-hunters are drawn to. If you can make them imagine looking out over the yard while enjoying a garden-fresh salad full of homegrown vegetables, you’ve achieved house-selling magic: getting buyers to picture themselves settling down in your home.

Patios and decks

Patios and decks, while eye-catching, are also an opportunity to get more out of your yard: more curb appeal and more home value. Adding them, however, should be a calculated decision. Going overboard can make your yard seem small and cramped, while an undersized deck or patio won’t serve much purpose for entertaining or relaxing. If you already have a patio or deck, you’re in luck—all you need is a fresh coat of paint to boost your home’s curb appeal.

Updated roofing

Your home’s roof has a big role to play when it comes to curb appeal. A worn or moss-covered roof can make even the nicest house look shabby.  Plus, savvy buyers know that roofing is a big cost, so they may not be interested in a home that could put a dent in their finances right away. That’s why Bungalo certifications are such a big deal: They guarantee that every house has had all of the big stuff, including the roof, taken care of.

Also, in the 2019 Remodeling Impact Survey, the National Association of Realtors reported that updated roofing has a big impact on sales and is highest on the list of completed projects that appeal to buyers. 33% of surveyed realtors said that an updated roof was critical in closing on a home, and the study found that roof replacements had a 107% return on project cost.

Garage door

Adding a new garage door also topped the NAR’s list of projects buyers love to see completed. Because garages can add to overall home value, increase curb appeal, it makes sense to put a new garage door at the top of your to-do list.

Long-term planning for reselling your home

Even if you’re in love with your home right now, there’s no guarantee you’ll stay in the same place forever. That’s why it’s smart to start planning high-value renovations as soon as possible, so any potential buyer might be more interested in your property, andyou get to enjoy the home upgrades until then.

What this doesn’t mean is that you need to work on every home improvement project right away. Instead, choose renovations that prospective home buyers might consider valuable, both now and in the future, and start working on those one at a time.

Thinking ahead

Today’s homebuyer won’t necessarily have the same values and priorities as tomorrow’s, and, unless you have a crystal ball, there’s no way to know for sure what the future will bring. Still, a little informed guesswork can go a long way.

Take, for example, environmental friendliness. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, 40% of U.S. energy goes toward homes and commercial buildings, meaning that energy efficiency upgrades are likely to get even more popular.

Here are a few recommendations for energy efficient upgrades:

  • Install newer lightbulbs and fixtures
  • Look for the government-backed ENERGY STAR logo when buying appliances
  • Make sure existing appliances are functioning efficiently
  • Repair air leaks in windows or ductwork
  • Install solar panels to save money on energy bills

These home upgrades will likely appeal to buyers no matter when you sell your home — and, in the meantime, you’ll enjoy the benefits (and do a little good for Mother Earth along the way).

Financing home improvements

Another element of long-term home improvement planning is, of course, the finances. How do you afford larger projects or upgrades that require a contractor? Here are a few tips.

  • Budget accordingly.

Creating a solid budget for home improvement projects is an absolute must — that way, you don’t end up spending more than you’ll get back in your home’s value. It’s also smart to plan ahead and start saving or budgeting long before you actually begin your home upgrades.

  • Get bids — and then throw out anything that seems too good to be true.

According to This Old House, you should get bids from multiple contractors so you can compare prices. Costs are broken down into three categories: materials, which should represent 40% of the cost; overhead, which should be 40%; and profit margin, which is typically 20%. It’s also important, the source explains, to take bids with a grain of salt. Prices that seem too good to be true often are.

  • Arrange payment plans.

If you budgeted ahead of time, you may have more flexibility when it comes to payment plans. Either way, make sure the contractor you choose is clear and open about their payment expectations, especially when it comes to down payments.

  • Don’t pay cash.

According to Forbes, you always want to pay contractors with checks or credit cards. Contractors asking for or insisting on cash may be trying to scam you.

Kitchen remodels that sell

Home buyers may have different priorities when touring houses, but one thing most of them can agree on is the importance of the kitchen. It’s the heart of any home — or, at least, it will be, once you’re done making a few tweaks.

Flooring

Flooring brings a space together, sure — but in the kitchen, its primary objective is to be functional. If your current kitchen flooring is doing its job, you might consider spending time and money on other home improvement projects. On the other hand, if the flooring is outdated, warped or a hazard to the home cook, it’s definitely worthwhile to swap it out. Consider choices that look good and won’t negatively impact your home’s value, but don’t feel obligated to jump straight to the most expensive option (like hardwood floors).

Stainless steel appliances

If you only have the time, money or energy for one kitchen remodel, make it this one: According to HGTV, stainless steel appliances help increase home value. Buyers like the look and functionality of a kitchen with these sleek silver accents — and you’ll enjoy how easy it is to keep your new appliances clean in the meantime.

 

DIY upgrades

If you’re not ready to go all Property Brothers on your kitchen remodel, don’t worry — there are some minor upgrades you can do as a DIYer.

  • Update the backsplash. Find an interesting pattern or attractive tile that matches your countertops. It’s easy, affordable and improves the value of your kitchen.
  • Change out the light fixtures. New or brighter fixtures can change the whole mood of your kitchen — and they might be more energy-efficient, too.
  • Paint the cabinets. If you don’t want to spend the time and money necessary to replace cabinetry, just grab a bucket of paint and a brush. Make sure to choose colors that stand out but don’t risk impacting your home’s value.

Home improvements in the bathroom

Bathrooms may not be the heart of your home, but they’re a pretty big deal — especially to buyers trying to judge the functionality of your floor plan. Here are some ways to create a bathroom oasis that you — and future buyers — will love.

Paint

According to Consumer Reports, your best bet for bathroom paint is satin or semi-gloss. Stay away from textured paints that will turn this humid part of the house into a breeding ground for mold. Plus, the source explains that flat or eggshell finishes make everyday cleaning a chore — which buyers won’t like at all.

Fixtures

Faucets, shower heads and even sinks and toilets are considered bathroom fixtures. While updating these might be more work, they are often the elements of your bathroom that draw the most attention — so start small, like choosing a new faucet for the sink, and work up from there.

Vanities

If your bathroom vanity is outdated, falling apart or just plain boring, consider replacing it with a DIY build. Dressers or cabinets from your local second-hand store or flea market make great statement pieces, especially when painted to match your bathroom’s aesthetic.

Get top dollar with Bungalo Homes

From gardens and decks to kitchens and bathrooms, home upgrades make a huge impact on your home’s value and curb appeal. When timed just right, they also provide plenty of enjoyment for you until you sell your home.

Don’t feel like grabbing a hammer to sell your house or move into a new one? Not to worry — Bungalo renovates homes for you, so whether you’re buying or selling, you won’t have to lift a finger. Start working with Bungalo today to get top dollar the easy way.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Imagine you’re sitting under the air conditioner in shorts and a T-shirt, lounging on the beach with a cold drink in your hand, watching the kids play in the pool or just soaking up some summer sun. The last thing you want to think about is snow up to your knees, right? You stuffed that winter jacket into the back of your closet for a reason.

No matter the season, you may not be ready to think about chilly weather — but for your house, it’s mission critical. Preparing home for winter is part of what keeps it feeling like home. While you may not need to pull out the warm clothes just yet, it’s never too early to get a head start on prepping your property for all the joys (and struggles) of winter.

Why you may want to worry about winter

Even if you’re the biggest winter fanatic in the world — because who doesn’t love cozy sweaters and hot cocoa in front of the fireplace? — your house probably isn’t. There are plenty of not-so-great things about cold weather, and some of them could be causing trouble right under your nose.

Here are a few reasons why you may want to worry about winter, for your home’s sake:

  • New problems can appear suddenly.

Whether you live in a “snow up to your nose” climate or a “rain until May” climate, one thing’s for sure: a winter storm can cause new problems to arise out of nowhere. For example, snow piling up on your roof can cause leaks and other pricey problems, while heavy rain could flood your driveway and cause long-term damage — all before you’re ready to get out of your warm bed on a chilly day.

  • Little problems become a whole lot bigger.

If your home has any small but chronic issues, like a cracking chimney or poorly sealed windows, winter is about to put them right in the spotlight. A problem that didn’t seem like such a big deal during warmer weather can be exacerbated by even one day of snow, rain or ice. Suddenly, that “no big deal” problem has a huge impact on your comfort or budget — and it’s all thanks to Jack Frost and his buddies.

  • You may not catch issues in time.

Say something goes wrong with your home — like a cracked gutter — in the middle of winter. Between all those old autumn leaves (who has time to rake each one?) and the possibility of a whole lot of snow, you might not even notice that small crack until the spring. By then, you’ll have missed your window for budget-friendly repairs, and what could have been a quick, affordable fix is now a serious issue.

  • You put more strain on your home’s infrastructure.

You ask a lot of your home during cold weather, and even more during a big winter storm. For example, you put strain on your furnace, thermostat, HVAC system, hot water heater, plumbing and more — all in the interest of staying warm and toasty. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean your house needs to be in tip-top shape before that first snow or heavy rain blows in.

Preparing for winter

The good news about winter is that it doesn’t have to be the bad guy. With these winterization tips, you’ll be a pro at preparing home for winter — even if you’re reading this in the middle of summer.

Protecting pipes

According to the Chicago Tribune, freezing temperature for pipes is 32F — the same as it is for just about everything else. That means most winter weather comes with trouble for your home’s plumbing. Here are a few tips to protect those pipes:

  • Insulate. The areas where pipes travel — like basements or attics — are also the areas where insulation is at its weakest. You have a lot of options, including fiberglass, foam, mineral wool and more.
  • Keep your house warm. Even if you’re a fan of that chill, be kind to your home and make sure to keep things toasty. Warm air keeps your pipes safer during a hard freeze.
  • Vacation carefully. If you’re headed out on a winter getaway, turn off the water supply and drain the pipes before taking off. You can also pour antifreeze down drains for an extra level of protection.

Fortifying faucets

According to Austin Water, you should start fortifying outdoor faucets when temperatures are expected to be 28°F or below for at least four hours. To do this, you can do what’s called “dripping.” Let your faucets drip constantly to keep them from freezing. To keep from wasting water, aim for five drops per minute. You can also find outdoor faucet covers to protect from freezing damage or create your own using foam or newspaper.

Checking the chimney

Once that chill sets in, you’ll probably be eager to grab the firewood — which means your chimney needs to be ready for action. Sweep and clean the fireplace, chimney and surrounding areas to limit the risk of a fire, and make sure the chimney is clear to minimize carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

Addressing air filters

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an important part of preparing your home — and yourself — for winter is taking good care of your heating system. Have the system serviced regularly, and don’t forget to clean or replace the air filter for your furnace at least every 90 days.

Considering certifications

If you happen to be looking for a new home, you’re in a great position to set yourself up for a highly successful winter. You have the chance to choose a home that’s already prepared, fortified and free of any structural issues that would turn cold weather into a winter nightmare — and all you have to do is look for the Bungalo® Certification. You’ll rest easy knowing that no drafts or leaky pipes are going to turn your snow day into an “oh no” day.

How to save on energy costs in the dead of winter

Does all this cold weather talk have you reaching for the thermostat? If so, you may already be bracing for a high energy bill. However, there are a few ways to save on energy costs — even when the weather outside is frightful.

  • Double-check your insulation.

Remember how insulation can protect your pipes from cold weather? Well, turns out it’s pretty good at doing the same for you. Double-check insulation throughout your home to keep the chill where it belongs — outside.

  • Install a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat gives you complete control over the temperature in your home. This device makes it simple and stress-free to decide where and how you’ll save on energy — and some of them even come with “smart” capabilities that give you advanced control, too.

  • Don’t go straight to the furnace.

If you’re worried about electricity costs, that furnace might not be your best friend. Instead, try warming up the old-fashioned way: blankets, hot drinks and a cozy wood fire — as long as your chimney has recently been cleaned, of course.  A wood fire also provides lighting (not to mention a dreamy ambiance), which means you can save on energy by turning off a few lights.

  • Know when electricity rates are highest (and lowest).

Electricity rates depend on demand — so when it’s cold out and everyone is racing to turn up the heat, you know your bill will be higher. The same goes for summer, when everyone’s trying to cool down — so knowing electricity habits in your area can help you know when it’s best to find alternative solutions.

  • Close the garage door.

A closed garage door keeps rain, snow and other winter conditions outside. That means warm air from your home will have fewer chances to escape — and water heaters or other garage appliances will be protected from the chill.

  • Check for air leaks and drafts.

A drafty window or a wall with an air leak basically means you’re paying to heat the outside. Before cold weather really sets in, take some time to check for these issues, especially in areas you usually don’t pay much attention to — like attics or crawlspaces.

The importance of homeowners insurance, especially during winter

Whether you’re buying a new home or protecting your current one, there’s a certain defense you can’t live without: homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance is your way of making sure you’re financially protected if something happens to your property. However, not everything is covered, so it’s important to read the fine print when you’re signing up for a new policy.

Here are a few winter weather hazards often covered by homeowners insurance:

  • Fire damage
  • Some types of water damage
  • Damage to outbuildings, including outdoor fireplaces
  • Extreme weather damage
  • Damage caused by falling trees

There are always exceptions — for example, if a pipe freezes and bursts due to lack of maintenance, homeowners insurance won’t cover the water damage. In general, you can count on homeowners insurance for extreme events, unexpected damage or anything you couldn’t have prepared for, while things the insurer considers “your fault” aren’t covered.

Also keep in mind that homeowners insurance is required for many mortgage and loan types — so be sure to do your research before buying or selling a home.

Find your paradise with Bungalo

Winter weather got you down? It might be time to start looking for warmer weather — or at least a warmer home — by searching Bungalo listings. You’ll find certified properties with all the guarantees and warranties necessary to keep you cozy through the long winter — and all at a price that will keep your budget cozy, too.

Ready to find your paradise? Start searching Bungalo homes today.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

There’s nothing quite like springtime: blooming flowers, twittering birds, and, of course, that annual date with every cleaning product you own. Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to shake off the dust of a long, gray winter and keep your dream house feeling like home — but don’t go for the mop just yet.

Like everything else, spring cleaning habits themselves can get a little dusty. To make sure yours are as fresh as spring flowers, you’ll want to have all the latest tips, tricks and hacks up your sleeve.

Here are a few stress-free ways to make sure you’re winning at spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning 101

What’s so important about spring cleaning, anyway?

When the sun is out and the plants are in bloom, cleaning rooms and dusting furniture may be the last thing you want to spend your time doing. However, this is one tradition you shouldn’t leave by the wayside.

Spring cleaning is important because it gives you the chance to dust, wipe down or disinfect any places you tend to avoid during your quick cleans throughout the year — like under the couch, behind those picture frames, inside the blinds or even that rarely visited corner of your closet. According to Medical News Today, a thorough cleaning can help prevent spring allergy symptoms, too.

The spring cleaning process

Don’t tackle spring cleaning without a game plan. Your goal is to keep your house cleaner with less effort — and to do that, you’ll want to start by making a list of everything you want to dust, scrub or wipe.

Once you’ve made your list, you can organize tasks in whatever way feels best to you. Maybe you’d love to start cleaning rooms one by one — or maybe you’re thinking it makes more sense to get to work cleaning floors throughout your house while you’ve got the mop out.

To simplify your process, take these things into consideration:

  • How big is your house?
  • How regularly do you perform quick cleanings?
  • What is your biggest obstacle (dust, pet hair, mud tracked in from shoes, etc.)?
  • How much time do you have to devote to spring cleaning?

Remember, spring cleaning shouldn’t take all spring. Although larger spaces like kitchens and high-traffic areas like living rooms will take more time, HGTV says you might just be able to get spring cleaning done in 48 hours (although a week is probably a more comfortable timeline).

Also keep in mind that different house styles, as defined by Better Homes & Gardens, can pose different cleaning challenges — for example, Victorian homes have a lot of angles, while craftsman-style houses have lots of built-in woodwork to contend with. It also matters what condition you bought your house in, which is why it’s important to look for guarantees like the Bungalo® home certification.

Key spring cleaning equipment and supplies

What you’ll need

To do spring cleaning the right way, you’ll need the right tools. Here are the best spring cleaning supplies to help you dust and wipe every last thing in your home:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Extra sponges
  • Old toothbrushes
  • Feather dusters
  • Your favorite spring cleaning playlist

You’ll also want to brush up on the latest spring cleaning techniques to help you get the job done in less time and with less work. Here are some house cleaning and home care tips to get you started:

  • Don’t push yourself. Although you may want to tackle everything on that to-do list, it’s not always good for muscles and joints to spend the whole day cleaning — especially if you do a lot of bending, reaching or scrubbing.
  • Keep kids, pets or the spouse busy. If your family has a tendency to get in the way of spring cleaning, plan ahead and send them outside for the day to enjoy the nice weather — or, better yet, get them to help out.
  • Open the windows. Even the most environmentally friendly spring cleaning supplies can have a strong smell, so let a breeze in whenever possible.
  • Be savvy about the sun. Spring sun makes it easy to dry oversized rugs or a freshly power-washed front porch, but according to Good Housekeeping, it can also be your enemy, causing streaks while you wash windows. Wait for cloudy days to grab the glass cleaner.

Can you spring clean without using harsh chemicals?

The simple answer is yes.

Although harsh chemicals are readily available at supermarkets and convenience stores, they’re far from your only option. Sustainable spring cleaning solutions are just as easy to come by — as long as you know where to look. In fact, you might already have one of the best spring cleaning supplies at your disposal, and it doesn’t even come with a long list of ingredients nobody can pronounce.

You’re about to become best friends with your vinegar.

Why vinegar is the ultimate cleaning solution

Vinegar as a cleaning agent

According to Healthline, vinegar is made from acetic acid, the organic compound responsible for everything that gives vinegar its unique personality — from its distinct taste to its colorless appearance. However, acetic acid is also responsible for vinegar’s real claim to fame: its ability to dissolve and remove everything from grease to mineral deposits, all while killing bacteria.

The best option for spring cleaning tasks is white vinegar, which should be easy to find at your local supermarket or even in your pantry.

Your spring cleaning checklist, vinegar style

Now that you know about the ultimate spring cleaning hack, it’s time to put it to good use. Here are a few ways vinegar can help you knock tasks off your spring cleaning checklist one by one.

Clean the glass

Nobody likes grimy windows. Let the spring sunshine in by combining water and vinegar in a spray bottle, and Healthline says your windows will be streak-free in minutes.

Keep surfaces shiny

If your home’s shiny surfaces aren’t so shiny anymore, a little vinegar can do wonders. The Spruce recommends spraying vinegar directly onto surfaces to get rid of fingerprints and other unpleasant marks.

Unclog stubborn drains

Remember baking soda volcanoes? You can use the same basic concept to clean out your sink or bathtub drains. According to Green Matters, baking soda and vinegar will bubble up, bringing stubborn clogs to the surface.

Scrub sink fixtures

Faucets, handles, you name it — vinegar is a great choice for cleaning your bathroom and kitchen fixtures. It can even break through soap scum and get rid of every last hard water stain.

Get rid of that microwave smell

According to Healthline, you can pop one cup of water and ¼ cup of vinegar in your microwave for a couple minutes to eliminate odors. Once the microwave smells fresh and clean, you can give it even more TLC by using the same warm water solution and a paper towel to break through grease and other stains.

Say goodbye to mold

This Old House says that, when it comes to removing mold, vinegar is a safe alternative to bleach. Once the mold is gone, prevent future growth by properly ventilating damp spaces like bathrooms or laundry rooms, drying wet towels or shower curtains, and using the right paint or sealant for the affected area.

A vinegar caveat

Although using vinegar is an excellent way to win at spring cleaning without relying on harsh chemicals, there’s one big thing you’ll want to keep in mind.

Remember that vinegar is made from acetic acid, which breaks down mineral deposits. This means vinegar is not a good choice for cleaning granite countertops, according to Good Housekeeping. Over time, it will break down the minerals that give your countertops their longevity and shiny appearance, making them susceptible to further damage.

When it comes time to clean the counters, holster that vinegar and reach for the dish soap instead. Just a few drops of dish soap, a cloth and some warm water can get rid of stains, dirt, spills or grease marks without ruining your granite for good.

Spring cleaning dos and don’ts

To keep your house safer and healthier with less effort, there are a few “must-dos” — and, naturally, a few “certainly don’ts.” Here are some tips to inform your spring cleaning techniques all the way from the front door to the back fence.

Kitchen

Do use white vinegar on your stainless steel appliances. They’ll be bright and shiny in just a few minutes — and, after all, isn’t that why you chose them for your kitchen?

Do track down odors in your kitchen. The culprit is usually old food — so go through your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator and throw out anything old, expired or just unpleasant.

Do toss half a fresh lemon into your garbage disposal. This will clean the disposal and create a fresh scent every time you turn it on — plus, you can use the rest of the lemon to make yourself a glass of citrus ice water, which you totally deserve after all that cleaning.

Don’t keep using the same sponge or rag. Sponges and similar cleaning supplies can start carrying bacteria when you use them for too long, so stick them in a tub of warm soapy water to wash away the dust or dirt.

Don’t leave food out while you’re cleaning. That bowl of fruit or that pan of fresh-baked cookies? Set them aside so they don’t get covered in vinegar or other cleaning solutions.

Don’t forget to wash the dishwasher. According to Southern Living, it’s an easy spring cleaning task: just put a cup of vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top shelf and run the hot water cycle.

Laundry room

Do use this chance to catch up on laundry. It’s not the grandest of spring cleaning tips, but it’s easy to toss wet towels in the dryer while you’re busy scrubbing and dusting everywhere else.

Do keep an eye out for mold. Laundry rooms can be damp, creating the perfect environment for growth — so keep your vinegar handy, and wear gloves and a mask if you spot anything.

Do wash your washing machine. TODAY recommends cleaning top-load and front-load machines by running one load with white vinegar and a second load with baking soda.

Don’t let cleaning supplies mix with detergents or laundry soaps. Depending on what supplies you’re using, this could create dangerous chemicals or fumes.

Don’t forget your utility sink. It may not be the star of the show like your kitchen sink, but it still deserves a little TLC.

Don’t dust or vacuum before you empty the lint trap. You’ll just make more work for yourself.

Bathrooms

Do put your shower curtain, bath mat or decorative towels through the wash. These items are easy to overlook, but they’re a trap for germs and odors.

Do use an old toothbrush and some baking soda to clean the grout on your bathroom countertops. This eliminates germs and keeps your bathroom looking good.

Do clean less-obvious areas, like heater vents, towel rods or baseboards. Although these places might not get a lot of use or traffic, they can still gather filth and take away from your bathroom’s overall appearance.

Don’t start cleaning the bathtub or shower until you’ve removed bars of soap, razors and body washes. If contaminated by cleaning supplies or detergents, these items could cause skin irritation.

Don’t scrub showerheads to get rid of hard water stains and buildup — soak them in vinegar instead.

Don’t forget to clean the trash can, even if you change it regularly. Scrub it inside and out (and use trash can liners if you don’t already).

Imagine spring cleaning in a new home

All the dusting and scrubbing in the world won’t make the wrong house into the right fit. If you’re pulling out all the stops to manifest your dream home, maybe spring cleaning isn’t enough — maybe it’s time to make a move.

Although moving can be quite a chore, it’s a whole lot easier when you can handle all the details without leaving the couch. Bungalo’s all-in-one home-buying platform makes every step stress-free, from finding your perfect property to finally taking the keys. Bungalo houses come guaranteed and certified, which means you won’t have renovations, repairs or maintenance to worry about — and even tasks like dusting, scrubbing, vacuuming and wiping will be less work.

If spring cleaning in a new home sounds more fun than spring cleaning in your current house, start searching Bungalo listings today.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Whether you’re ready to sell your home or are just starting to daydream about cardboard boxes and moving vans, one thing is clear: There’s a hot housing market just waiting for you to jump in. It’s easy to get eye-popping returns on your real estate investment, no matter what neighborhood you’re in — but first, you’ll need to do a little research to become your home’s best advocate.

To make sure the full property value ends up in your pocket, it’s good to know how housing prices change over time. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about your home price — and how to make buyers eager to pay every dollar.

How housing prices change year-to-year

The real estate market is like balancing yourself in the middle of a seesaw (don’t try that one at home!). Any change in the environment — like a dog running by or a sudden breeze — can shift your weight and make the seesaw dip one way or the other. In the real world, those environmental changes can be things like supply and demand or homebuyer habits, and as they change, so do property values.

Lately, though, the seesaw has been leaning steeply to one side. Housing prices are on the rise — and that’s good news for potential sellers.

Average home value increase

According to SFGate, the national average home value increase is between 3.5 and 3.8 percent yearly. That means a house worth $300,000 one year may be worth $311,400 the next.

However, as charts from VisualCapitalist show, many housing markets increase at rates higher than the national average. That’s especially true right now, when demand is so high and supply is so low. In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a 16.2% year-over-year increase in the median price of existing homes, which is significantly higher than normal home appreciation rates.

In short, real estate prices are setting records left and right — which is pretty exciting if you want to sell your home quickly and for full price.

Do property values really double every 7 to 10 years?

In the past, the “rules” of the real estate game were a little different. For example, some buyers and sellers wondered if property values doubled for every ten years they lived in a home.

According to a study by the NAR, house prices increased from 1989 to 2019 depending on length of tenure — for example, 29% appreciation after seven years, and 39% after 10 years. During the time-frame of this study, property values weren’t doubling every 7 to 10 years — but now, depending on local markets and supply vs. demand, prices could potentially double in much less time.

In fact, in the current market, your real estate value might be going up every minute.

The housing market and your home’s value

The local housing market, naturally, has a lot to do with real estate prices. Every house currently for sale in your area, as well as those that have sold recently (often within the last six months), will play a role in determining how much your home is worth.

Right now, that’s a pretty big deal. With houses selling so quickly and for so much, comparables will show buyers that your high asking price isn’t just reasonable — it’s also fair.

Here are some things to consider when looking for local comparables:

  • Architecture/design style
  • Square footage
  • Lot size
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Updated appliances
  • Age of roof
  • Age of carpet

However, the broader housing market also has a role to play. When the national demand for houses is through the roof and supply just can’t keep up, the value of every existing home, regardless of location, will increase. But where does that demand come from? According to Forbes, interest and mortgage rates are part of what drives the buying frenzy: When loans are more manageable, even on pricier homes, house-hunters are likely to be motivated to make a purchase.

How to improve your property value

What does high demand and low supply mean for your home’s value? Profit! Right now, your house is a commodity, and buyers will be happy to pay top dollar for it.

However, if sitting back and waiting for your property value to increase isn’t your thing, there are a few things you can do to make your house stand out even more on the market.

Renovation projects

If that half-bath never got redone or you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to update the kitchen, now is definitely the time. Renovation projects make your home look fashionable, welcoming, and worth every dollar.

Here are some renovation projects that can improve your home’s value:

  • Kitchen upgrades: Kitchens are often a big selling point for single-family homes. A granite countertop, a gas stove for foodie types, a butler’s pantry, double ovens — all of these upgrades can improve your home’s value while giving buyers even more reason to sign on that dotted line.
  • Guest bathrooms: Also called powder rooms or half-baths, these bathrooms can be a profitable project if you add them where pipes already exist (for example, under a second-story bathroom).
  • Master bathrooms: Everybody loves soaker tubs and double sinks in the master bath, right?
  • Walk-in closets: Consider taking a little space from a neighboring room to add walk-in closets to bedrooms. They do wonders for your home’s storage capacity — and its appeal.
  • Landscaping: Even the driest climate can be landscaped to catch a buyer’s eye. In areas with plenty of water, consider lush plants; in hotter areas, try retaining walls or rock elements to give your backyard some personality.
  • Outdoor features: From fountains and paved paths to that dreamy outdoor kitchen, backyard features can increase your home’s value and show buyers that your property is well worth the money.

Garages

Even in a world where ride-sharing and public transportation may be viable alternatives to owning a vehicle, garages can add value to your home because buyers see them as huge opportunities. They’re storage areas, home gyms, space for that band you’ve always wanted to start — and they might even be an option for extra living space, according to BBC’s Worklife.

What does this mean for your home value? If you don’t already have a garage, consider building one on; if you do have one, don’t be tempted to convert it into an office or extra bedroom. Just give buyers the opportunity to envision using the space however they want, and they’ll do the rest.

Decks

Decks can elevate your outdoor areas — literally. But how much do they improve your home value? Well, that depends on a few factors, including:

  • Deck size
  • Material
  • Quality of construction
  • Backyard square footage
  • Neighborhood/area trends

At the end of the day, if you’re particularly handy or you know a friend from school who just loves building decks, it’s probably worth the addition. However, if your area is particularly cramped or a DIY project of this magnitude would probably result in more than a few pulled muscles, it might be better to skip this one.

Guarantees

One thing that can really bring up a home’s value is a Bungalo certification. Certifications guarantee that a house is safe, well-constructed, and free of pricey problems — and, on top of that, Bungalo certifications come with warranties that buyers will love.

Understanding and assessing property prices

So now you know the ins and outs of real estate investments — how do you turn that data into profit by determining your home’s current or future value? And, perhaps more importantly, how can you be sure you’re selling your home for the best price?

To answer that question, it’s important to consider what house-hunters look for when deciding which property is right for them and determining value before making an offer:

  • How big is the home?
  • How many stories does it have?
  • Does it have a master, guest, and additional bedrooms?
  • Does it have an office?
  • Is the kitchen stocked with the latest appliances?
  • Are the roof, carpet, HVAC, electrical and other elements in good condition?
  • How long is the commute to local amenities and work locations?

Remember that different layouts, designs, and even lot shapes can perform differently in different markets — which means the selling process can quickly get complicated.

Selling with Bungalo simplifies things by paying you based on comparable properties in your area. That means you don’t have to worry about doing the research yourself — and you certainly won’t have to fight to get what your house is really worth.

Make the most of the housing market

It’s currently a seller’s market out there, and if you’re ready to list your house, there’s no better time than right now. You’ll have buyers jumping up and down to see your property, especially if you’ve spent a few weekends finishing up those renovation projects — and a Bungalo certification goes a long way, too. Even when the market changes, you’ll have access to all the tools and solutions necessary to get the deal you’ve been dreaming of.

Start working with Bungalo today to get top dollar for your home without breaking a sweat.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

We’ve all heard of spring cleaning, but what about the year-round maintenance that goes into keeping your home in top shape? From leaky pipes to malfunctioning appliances, the most costly and time-extensive repairs often could have been avoided with some preventative care.

At Bungalo, we’ve found a way to reduce those unwanted “surprises.” Our properties undergo multiple rounds of inspections before they’re ever listed on our site. That means you can focus more on how you’ll make your new house a home — and less on whether that mystery puddle is a major leak. If anything does pop up, our 90-Day Post-Close Protection gives you that extra degree of confidence.

Whether you plan to sell your house in the near future or are making preparations to move into your new dream home, keeping up with a routine is an easy way to maintain and even boost the value of your property.

Learn how you can create a maintenance checklist for your home and avoid having to pay for any unexpected repairs.

Monthly home maintenance

We have two pieces of good news for you.

First: Most of the tasks on your checklist won’t have to be done daily or even weekly. Generally speaking, some of the most important steps you’ll need to take as a homeowner can be managed on a month-to-month basis.

Second: Your monthly home maintenance and some additional peace of mind come at virtually no cost. It will just require a little time on your part. You may want to dedicate a day each month to crossing the following items off your list, or you can split them up as your schedule allows:

How to inspect your HVAC system

HVAC stands for your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system — something that you want to make sure doesn’t break, especially on the coldest or warmest days of the year.

Aside from providing relief from the weather outside, your HVAC system also plays a critical role in maintaining the overall air quality throughout your home. Dirty air conditioners or improperly operating systems can lead to the growth of microorganisms such as mold, which only serve to heighten symptoms of allergies and asthma.

The home experts at HGTV outlined some simple home maintenance tips every property owner should take to ensure their HVAC system is functioning as intended:

  1. Shut off the power: Always be sure that you’ve completely turned off your system before ever conducting maintenance on it. Look for a shut-off box on the exterior of the HVAC system itself, and to be safe, turn off the power on your breaker box as well.
  2. Remove outer debris: Either by hand or with a wet/dry vacuum, clean off any debris on the exterior of your system before removing the fan cage and working on the interior.
  3. Clean the fins: Remove the outer covers and use the brush attachment on a vacuum to remove any dirt. A word of caution: This isn’t a job for your pressure washer, as its force can easily damage the fins.

From here, put your heating system back together and turn it on. For more in-depth seasonal maintenance, it’ll be worth your time to also clean the evaporator coil and drain. Don’t forget to swap out the blower filter for a new one as needed.

By checking in on your HVAC system on a monthly basis, you’ll be able to save significantly on your electric bill, as your home will be running more efficiently. Plus, you’ll also extend the system’s overall lifespan.

Washing your washing machine

This one feels a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But yes, your washer needs a little bit of care to ensure it’s running smoothly and keeping your clothes clean.

The soap residue and chemicals from your detergent can get stuck inside your washing machine, creating an invisible film and trapping bacteria, as explained by the Spruce. This clogs the inner mechanisms of the machine, meaning water doesn’t get as hot and your detergent won’t be nearly as effective.

Keep your washing machine clean by running an empty load with hot water and vinegar. Open the top of the machine and let it sit with this solution for up to an hour. Then, shut the cover and let the machine run a complete cycle. Now, you can enjoy cleaner clothes and the confidence that you won’t be replacing your washer anytime soon.

Cleaning your dryer vent

While we’re on the topic of the laundry room, we can’t forget about cleaning out the dryer vent.

The U.S. Fire Administration cautions that failure to clean out the dryer is one of the leading causes of house fires every year, causing an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and over $35 million in property losses. To prevent a tragedy from occurring at your property, the USFA has outlined the following preventative steps:

  • Clean the lint trap before and after each load of laundry.
  • Clean the filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged with lint buildup.
  • Remove the lint from the vent pipe at least every three months.

And remember, do your best not to overload your dryer, and be sure not to dry anything containing foam, rubber, or plastic.

Cleaning your garbage disposal

If you’ve noticed a mystery odor coming from your kitchen sink, it’s time to take a look at your garbage disposal.

There are a lot of “hacks” and quick fixes online that can actually do long-term damage to your disposal. But, as This Old House explained, you likely have all the ingredients you need sitting in your kitchen cabinets: baking soda, vinegar, ice, and table salt.

  1. Disconnect the power from your disposal by pulling the plug or switching the outlet to “off.” Always double check that the disposal is off before proceeding.
  2. Clean the splash guard thoroughly with some detergent and a scrubby brush. Then, use tongs or pliers to remove any visible food debris — never use your fingers.
  3. Measure half a cup of baking soda and pour it into the disposal. Let it sit for half an hour. Then, pour in one cup of vinegar, letting the solution sit for three minutes before rinsing with hot water.
  4. Finally, grind up some ice and salt to loosen any remaining buildup.

If you’re really looking to go the extra mile, you can also throw some lemon peels into your disposal and turn it on to create a pleasant citrus-y scent.

Biannual maintenance

Although you’ll only need to handle the following tasks about twice a year, they’re just as important as your monthly maintenance:

Testing your carbon monoxide detector

Just like smoke detectors, your carbon monoxide detectors should be tested on a regular basis. Simply press and hold down the test button on the face of the device. Once you hear a piercing siren, you know your detector is good to go.

If you don’t hear this sound, it may be time to replace the batteries or the entire system.

Deep cleaning your home

This is a fairly intensive process, but by keeping up with weekly cleaning and routine maintenance you can cut down on how much time it takes you.

Every homeowner has a different definition of what a light versus a deep clean might mean. Typically, the latter includes cleaning under furniture, wiping downlight fixtures, and vacuuming any applicable surface. A general rule of thumb is if you don’t clean it regularly, now’s the time to do so. This may also mean handling any minor home repairs that you’ve been putting off, such as a wobbly table leg or burnt-out light bulbs.

Checking your water heater

Nothing’s worse than hopping in the shower only to be greeted by freezing cold water. To ensure your water heater is operating as intended (and to prevent costly water damage), This Old House has provided the following biannual maintenance tips:

  • Test the valves on your system by turning off the power and placing a bucket under the pipe connected to the temperature-pressure-release valve. If water flows after you’ve briefly opened the TPR valve, it’s time to replace it.
  • Drain the tank and wash out sediment by briefly opening the cold-water supply valve. Repeat this process until water comes out clean.
  • If you plan to be away from home for more than three days, turn the thermostat down to its lowest setting. For every 10 degrees the temperature is lowered, you can save up to 5% on energy costs.

If your heater does go out, you’re best off calling a plumber as it could require some fairly intensive electrical work.

Annual maintenance

When you think of seasonal home maintenance, this annual task is likely the first to come to mind: cleaning the gutters. Although it can be time-intensive, taking care of your gutters can spare you some major headaches down the road, including frozen pipes and hard-to-fix damage to your home’s exterior.

Use a sturdy and extendable ladder and place it on a solid surface. Note: If you don’t feel comfortable going up the ladder, you can always opt for a professional service. Before you get started, spread some tarps underneath you to prevent the gunk in your gutters from getting all over your yard.

Next, remove debris with a plastic scoop or old spatula. Make sure whatever you use isn’t pointed or hard enough to damage your gutters. Once this is done, flush out the gutters with a garden hose to clear out anything that’s still stuck in there — this will also reveal if you have any leaks that need to be addressed.

When gutters fill with leaves, sticks and other debris, it can cause clogs and even result in water damage reaching your roof and the foundation of your house. A clogged gutter may also lead to ice dams in the winter, making it especially important to cross this item off your checklist before the cold weather creeps up on you.

Buy your home with Bungalo

While home maintenance is an inevitable part of homeownership, keeping up with your checklist will help prevent undue costs later on. If you’re moving into a home that hasn’t been kept up-to-date or you’re moving out of your own home, making sure all of these steps have been taken care of can feel daunting.

At Bungalo, we do everything in our power to help you avoid the costly repairs that pop up when regular maintenance goes to the wayside. Our turn-key, certified homes are inspected top-to-bottom, ensuring that listings meet our standards, including critical features like plumbing, flooring and electrical. And, for those looking to sell your home, with Bungalo you can skip doing the repairs yourself and instead focus on your new house or property.

Learn more about how Bungalo works and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home has been professionally renovated and certified.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

With homeownership comes the added responsibilities of yearly home maintenance. If you’re a new homeowner, the addition of new household upkeep chores may seem overwhelming or complicated — especially if you’ve never owned a property before. However, there’s no need to panic as homes tend to follow a steady schedule of operations each season that will help you create an annual schedule that’s easy to follow.

Making a home maintenance checklist of the tasks you need to complete each year will help these chores become streamlined habits. Once you have the big stuff nailed down, your home maintenance will run smoothly and you’ll only have to worry about the occasional monthly cleanings or repairs.

Follow our tips and tricks to help you conquer your yearly home maintenance requirements. If you want more information about homeownership or the home buying experience, explore Bungalo’s blog for customer stories and more tips.

Why home maintenance is so important

Not many people want to spend their weekends draining boilers or emptying a clogged gutter, but completing these tasks can help with home upkeep and its value over time. It can be hard work, but it’s also one of the key ways to save money as a homeowner as yearly maintenance will prevent major parts of your home from breaking down before they should. It will also help you flag any potential future problems and solve them before they become costly repairs. For example, clearing a clogged pipe will be much easier and more affordable than fixing a burst pipe.

Annual maintenance can also help your home run more efficiently, which can lower your monthly utility costs. Simple tasks like cleaning your fridge’s evaporative coils will help keep your food cool with less energy, which may then lower your energy bill.

By creating an indoor and outdoor checklist of the important maintenance actions that need to be done, you’ll be able to keep your home in its best condition year-round.

Maintenance outside the home

Exterior maintenance is essential to keeping your home in its best condition. As weather and other outdoor factors impact your home, your yearly maintenance checklist will help you preserve your property while helping preserve — or even grow — its value.

Consider these tasks to keep your house in prime working condition:

Landscaping

If you have a front or back yard area, it’s important to trim any vegetation that may negatively affect your home. This means inspecting for any wayward branches or trees that need to be cut down or simply making sure that vegetation isn’t damaging your exterior walls. Loose branches can damage your roof or windows, especially in inclement weather, so it’s important to take care of those as soon as you notice them.

Also, take a look around your foundation and the ground that surrounds your home. Remove any fallen branches and remove leaves in your yard. If there’s been rain or snow, check for any potential pools of water that may cause harm, such as breeding mosquitoes or causing leaks into your basement.

Gutters

You’ll want to check and clean your gutters about twice a year — more if you live in a rainier area. Your gutters are extremely important to your home as they protect your house, roof, siding, and foundation from rainwater. If gutters are left untreated, they can become breeding grounds for mold, rot, and pests, and potentially cause flooding.

By cleaning them and checking for damage, you can prevent clogs that will allow water to enter your home and cost a lot in repairs. If you don’t feel comfortable on a ladder or clearing gutters yourself, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaner who can safely and efficiently remove accumulated debris.

Siding, Roof and Chimney

Take time to inspect your home’s exterior, especially the siding, roof, and chimney.

If you catch any potential issues with your home’s siding early, it can help you save large amounts of repairs and money in the future. Look out for any signs of cracking or mildew, so you can repair or replace that siding immediately. If the exterior paint is peeling, make sure to replace it to protect your home’s siding from future water damage.

For your roof, keep an eye out for loose or broken shingles that need to be repaired. It’s better to make small repairs every year rather than let them pile up and end up having to replace an entire roof. A professional inspector can also help you lookout for any signs of sagging, decay, or other damage.

If your home has a chimney, it will need an annual checkup — even if you don’t use it that often. Make sure it’s functioning properly and clear it periodically to ensure it’s carrying any dangerous gasses out of your home.

Maintenance inside the home

Once you’ve gone over your home’s exterior, it’s time to take an inventory of what needs to be done to maintain the interior. Just as your house’s roof and walls protect your home from outdoor forces, your indoor operations help to keep your home running throughout the year.

Below are areas you should include in your yearly maintenance checklist:

Hot water heater

Most water heaters have a long life where they can work well for a decade or more without needing any repairs. However, if you take time each year with minor upkeep, it can extend your water heater’s life, as well as improve its heating efficiency.

Each year, test the pressure-release valve and replace it, if necessary. Make sure the valve is on and working correctly. Then drain your hot water heater since sediment can start to collect and negatively affect its lifespan. Be careful as the water may be hot.

Plumbing

Go through your home’s plumbing system to check for any signs of leaks around or near pipes. This means checking under sinks, looking for water stains on walls or ceilings, and checking the toilet for any worn-out parts.

If there are water stains on any of your walls, it’s a surefire sign of a leak somewhere in your house. Fix what you can, but don’t hesitate to call a plumber for additional opinions and/or repairs to your plumbing system. A leaky faucet can quickly turn into costly water damage.

Since all homes offered on our platform are Bungalo Certified, we can guarantee that every home on our website has had a home inspection (multiple times) before you view them. We also offer 90-day post-close protection and a one-year home warranty so that you can feel extra peace of mind with your new home purchase.

Windows and doors

Maintaining the quality of your windows and doors can massively improve the efficiency of your home as they keep out weather, pests, and other harmful environmental factors.

Take a tour of your home and check each window and door for drafts. If you’re not sure whether you can feel a breeze, an easy trick is to hold a lighted candle to the edge — if it flickers, there’s a draft. Once any gaps are located, apply caulk, if possible. If your windows or doors have wooden frames, they may have water damage that can lead to rotting. In those cases, you’ll need to either remove all of the rot and apply a wood filler or replace the entire window or door. Yearly check-ins with your window and door frames can prevent that worst-case scenario from occurring.

You can also look into annual weatherstripping of windows and doors to block out heat or cool air loss throughout seasonal changes. Weatherstripping can conserve energy and improve climate control within your home.

Last, but not least, clean the interior and exterior of your windows and doors. By doing an annual deep clean, you can protect the entry points of your and prevent any buildup of harsh elements, such as pollution, rust, etc.

Maintenance that you should do more often

Beyond annual maintenance tasks, there are some chores that should be done more often throughout the year to properly care for your home. Luckily, these tasks tend to be easier and less time-consuming than annual maintenance and will also help improve your home’s value and prevent future costly repairs.

Explore our more regular maintenance must-dos below:

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential tools to have in every room of your home. First, if you don’t have a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector— go get at least one of each now! A home is a major investment, so why not do everything you can to protect it and yourself?

Next, try to check your detectors at least twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to test them at the same time you change your clocks each year. This way it becomes a regular habit that you don’t have to think too much about. Each detector will have its own instructions to easily test that they’re functioning properly. Similarly, change the batteries whenever needed. They’re designed to loudly inform you (through repetitive beeping) when batteries are low, so that won’t be easy to forget.

Kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances are constantly in use throughout the year, so it’s essential that you check in with their needed upkeep each month to keep them running smoothly.

For your dishwasher, take 15 minutes each month to clean the filter. Although the dishwasher cleans your dishes, it still needs to be cleaned itself. Remove and clean the filter each month and it’ll be able to run more efficiently and probably have a longer lifespan.

Meanwhile, another kitchen mainstay, the garbage disposal, should also be regularly cleaned. Since kitchen disposals can hold food scraps and bacteria, taking the time to clean it will help to sharpen the blades and help it work — and also prevent any unwanted smells in your kitchen.

Fire hazards

There are some fire safety tasks that you should practice regularly to ensure your home is safe. One quick task is to purchase a fire extinguisher or check the expiration dates of any that you currently own and replace them as needed.

Cleaning your dryer vent is an essential monthly chore. You should already be regularly cleaning your lint filter after each use as built-up lint is an instant recipe for home fires. To clean your dryer’s vent, remove it from the back of the dryer and use your vacuum to remove any excess lint and debris. This will both prevent any fires from occurring and improve your appliance’s efficiency.

Home maintenance is the key to good homeownership

With proper home maintenance and cleaning, homeowners can expect to see their properties improve and grow in value. Following a consistent checklist will help your home stay in prime condition, while also improving its efficiency — ultimately reducing future utility and home maintenance costs.

However, if any of the tasks seem out of your skill level, don’t hesitate to reach out to professional services to help you preserve the quality and integrity of your home and appliances.

Bungalo is an all-in-one homebuying platform that helps users search, tour, finance, and close on homes, which is how we know what it takes to maintain a home.

We have a team of dedicated experts that guide users through every step of the process, as well as inspect and renovate every home on our platform. Discover a new, streamlined way of purchasing a home and explore our easy step-by-step process through the home buying journey here.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

An organized home is a happy home, but home organization isn’t everybody’s favorite chore. Still, it’s one of those things that can really go a long way toward creating a happier and more peaceful living space for you and your family. From improving your physical health to saving you some money in your wallet, decluttering can have some serious long-term benefits for everyone.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our room-by-room guide for some expert decluttering tips on how to organize your home.

Why you should regularly clean and declutter your home

There are a range of benefits that come with cleaning and decluttering your home. If you’re getting ready to put your house on the market, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom to inspire potential buyers. But that isn’t a worry when you choose to sell to Bungalo. We’ll completely clean and renovate them and sell them to new owners in the best condition possible, taking much of the hassle off your back.

There are numerous benefits even when you’re not ready to move. Here are some of the best:

Creates a healthier living space

Decluttering can have serious health benefits. Taking the time to dust hard-to-reach areas; cleaning curtains, bedsheets, and blankets; and tossing out spoiled food from your fridge can all help limit your exposure to harmful toxins. This helps make your living space more conducive to your physical health, which can leave you feeling happier and healthier inside your own home.

Gives you greater mental peace

A messy living space can cause stress. That’s because too many pieces of paper, articles of clothing, dirty dishes, and everything else floating around can overstimulate your brain. But it’s also due to the constant visual reminder that you have stuff to sort through and get done. When you declutter your living space, you’ll automatically simplify everything around you, easing the burden on your mind and making everything feel more manageable.

Everything will be easier to find

How many times have you needed an important document and had to sort through dozens of papers scattered across your desk, only to turn up empty-handed? Maybe the most practical benefit of decluttering your home is that everything will be in its rightful place, and that means it’s easier to find when you need it. It might also mean you can save some money in the long term. Think about it: You thought you lost that item you really needed, so you went and bought a new one because you thought it was lost forever. But it turns out it was just at the bottom of your closet. No more episodes like that draining your wallet.

Where to start when organizing your home

First things first, you need to have the right mindset. There’s a reason you have so much clutter built up in your home, and it usually has something to do with having a hard time parting with old trinkets and mementos from your past. While there’s nothing wrong with hanging onto stuff that has real sentimental value, before you start organizing, it’s important to go into it with the mindset that it’s OK to toss things out that you’re not quite ready to let go of.

Learning to let go is really good for our mental health, and you might be surprised at how little you actually cared for some of the things you’ve been keeping once you’ve decided to toss them.

You also need to have a plan of action. When you tackle each room, you should plan to toss things before you start to organize everything else. This is important because tossing and organizing are two totally separate processes, and you want to make sure you’ve cleared your spaces of all the unnecessary stuff before you start reordering and putting everything else in its proper place.

According to The Spruce, every time you go to tackle a new room, it’s a great idea to start with the storage spaces. That means drawers, closets, crawl spaces, and everything in between. It’s useful to start with these areas because that helps you open up storage space where the things you intend to keep can be put once you’re ready to start organizing.

Room-by-room decluttering tips

  • Bathroom: This one might be daunting at first glance, but decluttering your bathroom isn’t as hard as it seems. Start with your medicine cabinet. Take a look at each shelf and dispose of any medicines, prescriptions, ointments or creams that are either expired or you simply have no use for anymore. Open all drawers and cabinets and get rid of anything you don’t need, like old toothbrushes or broken hair dryers. Finish off by finding storage space where you can put all appliances when they aren’t in use.
  • Bedrooms: You spend a great deal of time in your bedroom, so decluttering this area can go a long way to giving you greater peace of mind. You might as well start with the hardest job first — the closet. Keep an open mind about parting ways with clothing in your closet. Make your decisions based on how often you wear items. A good rule of thumb is whether you have worn something in the last year. If not, go ahead and donate it. From there, move to your nightstand, desk and bureau tops. Toss out anything that’s junk, like broken glasses or old pens, and put everything else neatly in its proper place.
  • Kitchen: You’re constantly going through food items, cooking utensils and cleaning products in your kitchen, and that can leave a lot of clutter. Start by going through every storage bin and cabinet in the kitchen, throwing away anything that’s spoiled or unused. Once it’s been cleared out, you have a much better sense of how to organize everything else that remains. Designate different drawers for particular categories of cooking utensils. You can also buy a few extra bins to keep nonperishable food items.
  • Family room: Probably your most used shared space, it’s very easy for small items that belong in other rooms to stray into the family room. Start by picking out these things and putting them back in the rooms where they belong. One useful tip when organizing your family room is to simply straighten things out and make them look neat and aligned. That means picture frames, chests, lampshades and chairs. This can bring more order to the room and make the rest of the job feel more manageable.

Your options for hiring a professional

If you’re certain you aren’t the right person for the job, there are plenty of professional services out there that will do it for you. Professional organizers will typically want to meet with you beforehand (or virtually, if you prefer) to get a good look at your space and understand your cleaning goals.

Hiring a professional can be really helpful if you’re in the process of moving and can’t devote the time you’d like to decluttering, need urgent organization, or you simply just require some help. Professional cleaners can be especially helpful if you’re trying to sell your house, taking much of the pressure off you. Check out Bungalo’s blog for more expert tips on the best things you can do when selling your home.

Bungalo takes the headache out of shopping for your dream home

No one said organizing your home was easy, and it’s probably the last thing you want to spend your Saturday afternoon doing. But creating an organized space can go a long way to clearing your house of bad pathogens and, better, decluttering and settling your mind. Your physical and mental health will thank you, and you’ll finish the task with that feeling of a job well done.

Bungalo is an online marketplace that helps make the home buying process smooth and straightforward. Tour your home, choose your mortgage lender and submit an offer all right on our mobile app. Visit our website to learn more about our full listing of certified homes, and get started here.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

In a time when you can go grocery shopping from your couch and get a lift to the airport from a complete stranger, smart home technology isn’t just a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. Why? Well, we all know being a homeowner already comes with its fair share of responsibilities. So when it comes to everyday life in your home, it’s pretty darn comforting to know you’ve got a house full of cool gadgets all working to help simplify your world. With the help of these fun and functional smart home upgrades, you just might be able to get back some time in your day, some money in your bank account, and even some peace of mind.

Take a look at our favorite ways to upgrade your home… to a SUPER SMART home.

1. Your smartphone is now your house key.

Wish you could unlock the front door with only your smartphone? Wish (and access) granted. Thanks to the sleek igloohome smart lock, you can now get inside your home with an easy-to-use app—no physical keys necessary. Just pair your device, and create a bluetooth key for yourself. Or let’s say you’re not home, but you have a friend or neighbor at the door who needs to get in. You can generate a secure one-time keycode with the app, and your visitor can let themselves in. Igloohome also tracks user logs, so you can rest easy knowing your home is safe and sound.

2. A digital assistant at your beck and call.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the all-powerful Google Home. As a smart speaker and an at-home assistant, this gadget makes sure you have the entire Google universe at your beck and call 24/7. Now, you can ask Google all your pressing questions (or not so pressing questions… because sometimes you just need to know what Rihanna’s horoscope is). You can also have Google set a cooking timer or schedule an appointment for you — the more obvious uses. Oh, and Google Home can even read your fur baby a bedtime story. Once again, thanks Google for the endless possibilities (and for clearing up that Rihanna is a Pisces.) 

3. Smart lighting that learns on your schedule.

It goes without saying that lighting is one of the most essential components of your house—and smart lighting takes your interior game to the next level. A Deako light switch controls any bulb, fixture, or fan with up to three custom scenes. Find that perfect ambiance and never let it go. Need that perfect cozy date night setting? Trying to wake your brain up after a night of tossing and turning? Just tell your lighting what to do with voice-activated technology and use your smart home device (hey, Google Home!) or your personal smartphone. And for all you proactive planners out there, rest assured: you can set a meticulous schedule and on-off timers to align with your busy daily routine. 

4. Upgrade your Al Fresco living with this speaker system.

Whether you want to throw an outdoor dance party or just want a soundtrack for those intimate backyard dinners, the Sonos Al Fresco sound system has you covered. Simply connect your Sonos system via AirPlay, Spotify, Apple Music, or whatever music platform you choose to use and then sit back and relax in your patio furniture, and let the vibes flow through you. These high quality speakers are engineered to withstand humidity, water, salt spray, heat, UV rays, and even freezing temperatures. So any time of year, it’ll feel like you have a live concert right in your own backyard.

5. Welcome to your own personal climate zone.

Nest Thermostat allows you the full convenience of adjusting your house’s temperature from your smartphone, no matter where you are. It’s also worth noting that saving energy starts with your thermostat.

Did you know? Many Bungalo homes come with a built in Nest Thermostat, so you can save big on energy bills and control your home’s temp from anywhere.

Sure, you can unplug your computer when you leave the house, buy energy-efficient appliances, or replace your everyday light bulbs with LEDs… But none of that compares to the power of a smart thermostat. The Nest Thermostat learns the temperatures you like too, and programs to create a custom schedule. No more surprise 4am night sweats. 

At the end of a long day, upgrading your home with smart technology can make your days  smoother, more streamlined, and let’s be real, kind of fun too. Technology truly is making the way we go about our lives so much easier — and we’re not complaining. 

Super smart home buying.

Bungalo’s online platform guides you through every step of the home buying process, from home search, to instant home tours, all the way through move-in day. Check it out here.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

 

Avoid the pressures of date night out with these cozy nights in.

When your days are jam-packed with work stresses, social obligations, and life responsibilities, it’s common to get locked in to a hectic routine and put romance on the back burner. Pretty soon date night becomes a once-in-a-blue-moon luxury and yet another item on your to-do list.

Thankfully, creating a memorable experience with the one you love doesn’t have to be such a hassle. In fact, we’d argue you can get more out of date night more often by simply staying home. Look to these easy at-home date nights and make time for your relationship without ever leaving the neighborhood.

1. Try a new recipe as a team

Instead of waiting for a table at an expensive restaurant, find some challenging recipes and turn your home kitchen into a farm-to-table restaurant. Go shopping together at your local market, prep a full menu of gourmet courses with wine pairings, and feast as you go. Amateur cooks and seasoned home chefs alike will enjoy a sense of pride in making something as a team. And remember: it’s not about the end result. It’s about who you got there with.

2. Have a vinyl listening party

Doing date night at home means you curate the playlist. And if music is a shared passion between you and your significant other, consider curating not just a playlist, but an entire evening around the songs you love. Break out the sweat pants, cuddle up by the fire, and take turns dropping the needle on your favorite albums. Next, all you have to do is relax, listen, and just be in the moment together. We can’t think of a better reason to free that limited edition vinyl from its plastic sleeve.

3. Set up a private wine or beer tasting

If you and your significant other love visiting breweries and wineries on your downtime, why not host a private tasting under your own roof? Whether your palates prefer IPAs or pinot noirs, at home you can set a tasting menu you both will savor. We’d recommend taking some tasting notes and comparing flavor profiles as a couple. That way you’ll remember what you like later on. Need extra entertainment? Pair the tasting with a few episodes of that show you’ve been meaning to try!

4. Host a game night double date

Whatever stage you’re at in your relationship, game night never gets old. Invite another couple over for some friendly competition and turn an average night inside into a lively double date. Gather around the dining room table to play a classic (like LIFE or Sorry!) or get your Catan on as a group. You can also set up camp around the TV for interactive trivia or virtual bowling. As long as no one flips the Monopoly board, this timeless date night might earn itself a regular slot on your calendar.

5. Go for a neighborhood stroll

At the end of a long day, most of us just want to melt into the couch and chill. But you can make a lot of that little time together by taking nightly walks around the neighborhood. Getting away from the screens for a stroll in the fresh air will give you a chance to really talk about each other’s days (and let the dog get some energy out before bed!). Sure, it’s no big night out on the town. But when it comes to date night, sometimes less… is amoré.

Ready to start shopping for your next home? Find and tour certified homes on Bungalo. Browse homes.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.