Creating A Home Inspection Checklist


Even when a person is buying a home in a seller’s market, they’re probably going to have it professionally inspected before signing on the dotted line. It’s important for a person who is selling a home to understand buyer expectations. A home seller will need to know where improvements should be made to meet the expectations of savvy homebuyers.

Eliminate Old Water Stains

There’s nothing uglier than an old water stain that’s been left from a roof leak or leaking pipe. If a home inspector sees this, it will create a red flag. When a person is selling a house. It’s best if they take the time to cover up these type of stains with paint so that an old problem doesn’t become a new problem.

Search For Mold

Mold is an issue that scares away plenty of potential buyers. This will usually be found in basements, bathrooms, garages, and attics. Typically, it can be taken care of by using a fungicide that can be found at most home improvement stores.

Examine Doors And Windows

All of the doors in a home should be checked to make sure they open and close easily. A sticky door can usually be fixed by spraying some lubricant on its hinges. For sliding doors that get stuck, clearing out the tracks will usually make them slide better. Windows in older houses can become sticky and hard to open. By spraying them with some silicon spray, it should help alleviate the problem.

Make Sure Lights Are Working

When a home inspector visits, they will make sure that the electrical system is working properly. One of the easiest ways to do this is by turning on all the lights. If they try a light and it doesn’t turn on, they may decide to call an electrician. By making sure that all of the lights are working, it will help lower any concerns. In addition, electrical switches and outlets should have covers that are intact. It should be easy to purchase a new one at a hardware store and replace missing or cracked covers.

Ensure That Fireplaces And Appliances Can Be Tested

A home inspector will need to test a gas fireplace and all appliances during their inspection. A seller should make sure that the pilot light is lit for the fireplace and that there is clear access to all of the appliances. An inspector may also check the current condition of any appliances that are built into a home.

from Holly Balogh | Real Estate

Indoor Exercises for Outdoor Runners During The Winter


Running during the winter time can be harsh for people who suffer during cold weather. Asthma is a major problem that some runners face. The cold can exacerbate asthma and make you feel incredibly weak. This is oftentimes a deterrent that causes many people to not run whenever it is cold outside. Fortunately, there are alternative winter workout activities that you can do indoors if the cold affects you.

Use a Flight of Stairs

You’re in luck if your home has a flight of stairs to run up and down. This is a fantastic cardio activity that will help get the blood flowing and help you develop your quad and glute muscles. See how many reps you can do going up and down the stairs without taking a break.

Light Weights

This is an excellent activity to do if you are stuck indoors. Utilizing light weights mixed with cardio is a great way to get a decent exercise in. Runners still need to get strength training whenever they can and this method is a fantastic way to help them accomplish this whenever it is cold outside.

Cardio Exercises Indoors

Many people like to perform cardio exercises outdoors whenever it is nice. Some of these exercises are planks, jumping jacks, and other body-moving activities. Fortunately, you can perform some if not all of these activities indoors. Make sure that you perform them on a non-slip surface such as carpet and you are in for one endearing workout.

Get a Workout From Doing Household Chores

Did you know that you can get an incredible workout from shoveling the snow out of your driveway? You can kill two birds with one stone and perform this chore to help clear the driveway of snow. You will get some great exercise as well as allow yourself to back out of your driveway in your car.

Practice Yoga

There is nothing quite like a relaxing experience of yoga indoors. Yoga has the ability to help you stay calm, improve flexibility, and boost your overall health. Doing it indoors whenever it is cold outside is a perfect way to wait out the harsh winter conditions. What’s even better is that yoga can help improve your ability to run by stretching your legs and reducing any joint pain you feel.

from Holly Balogh’s Sports Blog

How to Get the Most Out of a House Tour

House Tour


Depending on the market in your area, hunting for a home can put you in competition to a large number of other home buyers. Even in a poor market, just one competitor can cost you the house of your dreams. This type of competition is especially fierce when the seller hosts an open house. For that reason, you will have to turn a home tour to your advantage.

Tour the Home Quickly

Homes don’t stay on the market for long and the worst among them still only remain available for less than two months. As soon as a house hits the market, you should be arranging a tour and decide if you want to make an offer. As a general rule, sellers publish their listings on Thursdays and review offers at the beginning of the following week, so it is important to act fast.

Shop Below Your Approval

Most sellers and real estate agents are reluctant to deal with buyers at all until they have been pre-approved by a lender. When the agent asks how much you can afford for the sale of your home, it’s advisable to settle on a number below the amount for which you were pre-approved. This will give you leeway to make changes to the home, if you deem them necessary. Otherwise, you may invest everything in the purchase of the home and find out that your remodeling plans just aren’t possible.

Attend Several Open Houses

Your first open house tour may not result in an offer to buy, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t serve a purpose. As you tour open houses and discuss your thoughts with the agent, he or she will learn more about your interests. By the time you’ve attended three or four open houses, your real estate agent will have developed a keen eye for what you want in your next home. Home tours can help your agent provide you with properties that are more in line with your needs, which can help refine and shorten your search.

As you tour homes, don’t be afraid to pay attention to the community and visit at various times of the day. What goes on in the neighborhood is just as important as the home’s features. Attending as many open houses as possible will help you learn how to watch for these characteristics in each property, so you’ll be able to tour homes more efficiently.

from Holly Balogh | Real Estate

Essential Cycling Tips That Beginners Need to Know

Cycling consistently ranks as one of the most popular physical activities in the United States. According to Statista, roughly 67 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 64 have cycled at least once in 2018. But whether it’s for leisure, exercise, transportation or a combination thereof, beginners should follow some basic tips when cycling.

Use Both Brakes to Decelerate When Going Down a Hill

To decelerate on even terrain, beginners should only use their bike’s front brake for maximum stopping power. When going downhill, however, beginners should use both brakes to decelerate. Only using the front brake when going downhill can have disastrous consequences, potentially throwing the cyclist over the front of his or her bike. Applying even pressure on both the front and rear brakes allows cyclists to safely decelerate on a descent.

Learn the Gears

A typical bike has one to 27 gears, and it’s important for beginners to learn them so that they can cycle more efficiently. The gears on the front of a bike, for instance, can help cyclists climb hills using less energy. The rear gears, on the other hand, allow for a deeper level of tuning across all types of terrains.

Wear a Helmet

Because there’s no federal law requiring cyclists to wear them, beginners often assume that a helmet isn’t a necessity. A study cited by Big Think, however, found that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injuries when cycling by 85 percent. Therefore, beginners should invest in a high-quality helmet before hitting the road with their bike.

Face Forward

Looking down doesn’t improve aerodynamics when cycling. Rather, it increases the risk of injury by restricting the cyclist’s field of view. Unless a cyclist is on a closed course, he or she will likely encounter a variety of hazards while cycling. From road debris and animals to potholes and passing motorists, cyclists must look for common hazards such as these by facing forward.

Turn Corners By Leaning Bike

When approaching a corner, cyclists should lean their bike into the turn. Some beginners make the mistake of leaning their body into turns, which destabilizes their body and increases the risk of an accident. The correct way to turn is to push the handlebar into the direction of the corner just enough so that the bike leans.

Cycling, like most physical activities, requires practice. By spending more time on their bike, beginners can strengthen their cycling skills while improving their health in the process.

from Holly Balogh’s Sports Blog

How To Maximize Your Weekend Training Time For Triathlons

A number of triathletes have jobs and busy lives to juggle. This makes training difficult at times. One solution is to maximize weekends by creating specific training blocks for running and biking. Here are suggestions for weekend blocks that will help athletes who are focused on improving their performance in 70.3 races. For these blocks, 8 to 9 hours will be used for training.

Saturday Block

On Saturday, the first block includes a moderate pace bike ride, and the second block includes an endurance run. Total time for both workouts should be around three to 3 1/2 hours. The bike ride should be done for an hour to an hour and a half with an exertion rating of about five to seven on a scale of 1 to 10. The endurance run should be about one hour 45 minutes to two hours long. It should include 3×10 steady-state intervals, which are to be spread out during the run. The intervals should be completed at a 70.3 run pace. For the second half of the run, the pace should be increased.

Sunday Block

Sunday includes a five-hour bike ride, which focuses on endurance. After the first 30 minutes, a 4×15 min tempo should be completed at a pace that’s equivalent to one that is run for a 70.3 race. This should be separated by biking at a moderate pace for 15 minutes, which doesn’t include just easy spinning. By placing these intervals in the early part of the bike ride, it helps a triathlete use more power, which should equal an effort that’s better than doing the intervals later in the ride. This should be followed by a 20 to 30-minute recovery ride.

Swimming On Weekdays

It Is usually best to do rides and runs during the weekend. If a person has time to do a race simulation of an open water swim, it can be worked into the schedule. However, benefits will be best by focusing on running and biking, especially for individuals who are involved in 70.3 events.

Planning For Recovery

A person may not want to work out on the Friday before these blocks. It is probably ideal to do a swim on Thursday and rest on Friday. After completing the blocks on Saturday and Sunday, it’s important to take one or two days to recover, especially if any workout was done on Friday. Light training can be done on Tuesday after rest has been completed on Monday. The training for Wednesday and Thursday should be done with full intensity.

from Holly Balogh’s Sports Blog

Real Estate Offer Mistakes to Avoid

House Offer


The offer is the most critical part of the home buying process, yet so many home buyers blow it. By knowing how most home buyers sabotage the offer and lose their chance of buying the home they want, you can avoid similar mistakes. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes are all too common.

Low-Balling the Offer

While it would be nice to pick how much you’ll pay for your next home, this should not be the focus of your offer. The seller is trying to get a fair price, so making a ridiculously low offer can often put a crimp in negotiations. While you want to want to get the home for a good price, don’t try to insult the seller with an unreasonable offer.

Paying More May Be Worth It

Instead of trying to go low, keep in mind that the seller is trying to get the most he can for his property. On the other hand, your monthly mortgage premiums will be affected in the smallest ways by a discount of a few thousand dollars. It may be a good idea to use a mortgage calculator as you prepare to make an offer, so you can really see how a lower offer will benefit you. If it won’t do much for your budget, meeting the seller’s asking price can help ensure you get the home you want.

Limit Your Contingencies

A contingency is a condition that must be met by the seller before the transaction can be finalized. If a contingency hasn’t been met, the buyer may back out of the transaction and keep his or her deposit. As this suggests, sellers aren’t keen on too many contingencies. While a few may be necessary and understandable, too many can place an extra burden on the seller. If the seller feels imposed upon by too many contingencies, they may decide to accept another buyer’s offer.

Ultimately, the best approach is to remember that the seller is trying to make a profit from the sale of the home. If you seem to understand that and work with the seller to come to a mutually agreeable deal, you’ll have more luck in getting your offer accepted. When an offer is accepted, be sure to submit your paperwork and payment promptly. Taking too long is another way you could end up losing out on your next home.

from Holly Balogh | Real Estate

Home Inspections are Great for Buyer Negotiations

Home Inspections


The home inspection is an essential part of any real estate transaction because it gives a potential buyer a thorough understanding of the quality of the home. It can also serve as a tool for negotiations, bringing up points that may have even been unknown to the seller. There are a few ways that a thorough home inspection can help you negotiate a fair price for your new home.

Shop Around for a Good Inspector

Even before you begin negotiating, your position will be affected by the quality of your home inspector. Hiring an individual with thorough training, years of experience, and a good reputation will ensure the report you receive will be accurate and in-depth. Alternatively, hiring the wrong inspector can prevent you from discovering important defects in the home.

Time is Important

Scheduling the initial home inspection as early as possible is essential. If the inspector finds some major defect in the home, such as a damaged roof or a faulty HVAC system, you will want a professional contractor to provide you with an accurate estimate for repairing the item. Since this will influence your negotiations, you will want the additional time to go through this process.

Evaluate the Needed Repairs

You should have two repair lists, following the inspection. Some repairs may not require immediate attention or may represent only a small investment. You can take care of those items on your own as time and finances permit. However, there may be more important and urgent repairs needed, such as damage that represents safety issues or affects the habitability of the home. Those are the items you should submit to the seller to determine if he’s willing to accommodate those repairs.

Ask for a Credit at Closing

The seller may make only superficial repairs that won’t address the underlying problem. Unless you protect against this possibility with a credit at the closing request, you may still be stuck with correcting improperly done repairs. If a credit at closing isn’t possible for some reason, you should at least insist that the work is done by a certified contractor.

While you will have to accept responsibility for making minor repairs on your own, major issues with the home should be addressed by the seller. It’s up to you to ensure the work is done according to your expectations. Damage to the home may constitute grounds for lowering your offer or demanding that the seller repair the items in question. Otherwise, your dream home may soon become a financial burden.

from Holly Balogh | Real Estate

Women are Working to Improve Their Endurance

Despite meaningful political and social movements towards female empowerment, it’s still a man’s world out there. A large amount of attention, in terms of gender equality, is focused on the gender disparity in industries and how we can find a better representation for women in the professional world. But there are also severe disparities in the sports world. The majority of the most popular team sports distinguish between male and female leagues, and for reasons physiological or social, public perception is that women simply don’t perform as well as men in many of these athletic events. But there are plenty of signs that women are equally as capable of athletes as men, and that’s most obvious in the world of endurance sports.

While the findings are still preliminary and will likely need more support, studies indicate that women operating on a competitive level perform as well or better than men in open water swimming. This is particularly true in the field of marathon swimming. That’s not to say that the world of competitive sharing is necessary a perfect and sterling example of gender parity. Men still outnumber women in the field nearly two to one, but when they do compete, female athletes hold their own. Compare that to the world of running, where the average man’s time for a marathon is 30 minutes shorter than that for women. There are similarly distinctive disparities in triathlon competitions. While women are slowly catching up to men regarding performance, they still have a ways to go.

But while there are noticeable physiological differences to men and women that can have an effect on performance, the competitiveness between men and women in endurance swimming suggests that these differences may not be as great as many people believe. If women manage to perform on the same level despite their lower visibility in the sport, one must question why there are such distinct gaps in other endurance sports. It’s quite possible that the difference is one of engagement. If sports favor and encourage men far more actively than women, that suggests that they’re provided with more encouragement, resources, and training over the course of their lives. These new numbers about endurance swimming suggest that we should be engaged with women in sports as actively as we do in other professional fields. Encouragement, backing, and exposure can go a long way towards closing the gender gap.

from Holly Balogh’s Sports Blog

The History of the Ironman World Championships

The inaugural Ironman race, held in 1978, contained a handwritten note on the final page of the rules and regulations. “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!” A phrase that is now trademarked.

The Ironman Triathlon is a series of long-distance triathlon races established by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), which are comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.22-mile run. The events are executed in that order and without rest. The Ironman Triathlon is one of the most difficult one-day sporting challenges.

The idea for the triathlon race came into existence at the awards ceremony for the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay. The Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club got into a debate concerning who was more fit. Navy Commander John Collins suggested a race combining the courses of the Waikiki Rough Water Swim (2.4 miles), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (112 miles), and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 miles) to iron out their differences. “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call the Ironman,” said Collins, in honor of a local running legend famous for his vigorous workouts.

On the premier race, held on February 18, 1978, 15 men answered the call at the starting line; twelve finished. Of the twelve, all of whom were required to supply their own nutrition and hydration, Gordon Halle was the first individual to rock the title Ironman, completing the course in 11 hours, 46 minutes, 58 seconds. John Dunbar, the runner-up, had led after the second transition, but he ran out of water on the marathon course, which caused his support crew to resort to improvising with beer.

The next year, fifty athletes showed. When severe weather postponed the event, fifteen competitors raced. Tom Warren of San Diego came in first; Lyn Lemaire of Boston crossed the line in sixth place, becoming the first “Ironwoman.” A “Sports Illustrated” journalist chanced upon the event and marketing took off.

In 1982 a mantra was born when Julie Moss, who was in first place, was felled by dehydration and fatigue just yards from the finish line. Although Kathleen McCartney placed first, Moss crawled to the finish line, and the philosophy that just finishing is a victory was made flesh.

Today the annual event on Kailua-Kona is known as The Ironman World Championship.

from Holly Balogh’s Sports Blog

How to Save on Rent When Looking to Buy a Home


When you decide you’re ready to buy a house, it’s a time of looking for ways to save on your expenses. Even if you have saved what you’ll need for a down payment and closing costs, setting aside as much money as possible will prepare you for paying unexpected expenses. By looking for ways to save on your rent, you may be able to save a significant nest egg.

Can You Get a Roommate?

Bringing in a roommate may be one possibility, especially if you have the extra space. Even if there isn’t a spare bedroom, a home office or den can easily be converted into an extra bedroom. This can help you save half of what you would normally pay in rent.

Move into a Cheaper Place

If your lease is up, it may be time to think about seeking out more temporary housing. If your ultimate goal is to buy a home of your own, consider finding a place that boasts fewer amenities and maybe in a less desirable location. This can help you save money, while you look for your ideal home.

Negotiate for a Lower Rent

If you know it’s going to take some time to get through the home buying process, use that time to your advantage. When you’re looking for a new place to rent, try negotiating for a lower monthly rent. If you’re willing to sign a two-year lease instead of the standard one year lease, point out that to your prospective landlord that you’re giving him two years of not having to worry about a vacant unit. This may be worth a rent decrease or a guarantee that the rent won’t increase during your stay.

Make Sure You’re Actually Saving That Extra Money

However you choose to save money on your rent, it’s equally important to deliberately set that money aside. The best way to do this is to set up a savings account especially designated for this purpose. Whatever money you save on rent each month should be deposited directly into this account. You can also add spare change and any other funds you manage to save, so this account will grow that much faster.

In addition to saving on your rent, looking for other ways to curb your spending can help you grow your savings. When you do find your dream home, you’ll have the savings to help you get through the transaction successfully. If you start saving early enough, you may even have a little left over to help you rebuild a nest egg.

from Holly Balogh | Real Estate