3 Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Your Property

Clever landscaping can make even a humble home look like a mansion. It immediately makes a home more attractive and it can provide functional benefits for the people that live there. There are even a few simple techniques that can have a big impact without demanding extensive or expensive maintenance work from the owners.

Focus on Usable Space

The most efficient way to improve a home’s landscaping is to focus on the areas and improvements that people will use. Simply providing a clear space with a little bit of stone on the ground and some outdoor furniture on top of it is a good starting point. It will serve as a place to hold parties or just eat outside, and the simplicity of the design means that it won’t demand much care. That provides a big boost to the owner’s quality of life without a significant investment.

Rely on Mulch

Gardens are a great way to beautify a lawn. The plants will need some care in order to thrive, but they don’t need as much as many people believe. The trick is to apply a layer of mulch around them, or even to plant them in a bed of mulch instead of grass. Most weeds will struggle to grow in the mulch, which spares gardeners the effort of pulling weeds by hand and the expense of spraying herbicides to kill them. In the long run, the mulch will also break down and provide nutrients to the growing plants. Every plant has its own needs, so it’s best to do some research on each species to figure out how much mulch is appropriate prior to planting.

Use Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is a set of techniques that exist to cut down on the water used in landscaping. The most basic method is to replace parts of a lawn with stone, sand, and other inorganic materials. That cuts down on the amount of time that the owner has to spend watering the lawn to help the grass to grow. It also reduces the need to mow the lawn, and ensures that the grass won’t dry out or wilt due to bad weather. There are also environmental benefits from saving water. This is an ideal choice for those living in hot and dry areas, but anyone can benefit from a bit of xeriscaping.

Landscaping a property is an important, yet often overlooked, part of improvement. Whether selling, renting, or landscaping for your own benefit, these tips are a great starting point for a low-maintenance outdoor space.

This article was originally published on jasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Advertisements

How Cigarette Smoke Can Kill Your Property’s Resale Value

After years of school programs and radio ads, it’s common knowledge that cigarette smoke is bad for your health. However, it’s an addictive habit that many people have difficulty kicking. This is especially true for older generations who have smoked for the majority of their lives.

Two decades ago, it was completely normal for a restaurant hostess to ask if you’d prefer a seat in the smoking or non-smoking section. Smoking indoors is now banned in most public places, but this doesn’t mean homeowners have stopped smoking in their own homes.

What they may not realize is that they’re doing more damage to their wallets each year. This isn’t just because of the rising cost of cigarettes. It’s also because of the smoke damage done to the home.

Puffing Away at the Resale Value

One Canadian poll found that slightly less than half of all real estate agents said smoking reduces a home’s value. Among those who gave that answer, the exact value reduction ranged from 10-29%. Additionally, they noted that a quarter of buyers are unwilling to buy a smoker’s home.

It is very difficult to hide when a smoker lived in a home. Even air freshener, opening the windows and simmering vinegar won’t fully neutralize the smell.

When a nonsmoker is buying a home, they don’t want to expose themselves to the toxic thirdhand smoke (yes, it’s a thing) left by previous owners. Chemical compounds stick to carpets, walls, ceilings, electrical sockets, ventilation ducts, etc. The new homeowners would have to either clean or replace everything to fully get the smell and chemicals out of the house. For serious jobs, the cost could be between $1,500 and $10,000 for a professional cleaning.

Some homeowners may be tempted to paint over the smoke damage, but that isn’t a permanent solution. To prevent the tars and nicotine from resurfacing on the walls and ceiling, they must be thoroughly cleaned and repainted. A good primer like Killz is recommended for the best results. And that is just for the walls and ceiling, not considering the other home surfaces that were affected by smoke.

As a real estate professional, it’s important to keep this information in the back of your mind. Even an otherwise solid property could be tough to sell because of lingering residue from cigarette smoke. As a selling agent, you should be prepared to list the house accordingly and target the right potential buyers.

…..

I originally discussed this topic on my blog at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh - Amazon 2

Will Pittsburgh Be Home for Amazon HQ2? Part II

With over $5 billion in potential community investment and 50,000 jobs on the line, every city wants to host Amazon’s second headquarters. Since the company announced its intent to expand in BLAH, over NUMBER of cities have tosses their metaphorical hats into the ring. Over the past few months, the company has parsed through the submissions with all the quiet drama and political silence of a reality dating show. Just recently, Amazon officially released the names on its shortlist. Pittsburgh made the cut, as did Boston, Toronto, Atlanta, and Newark. But with so much drama surrounding the company’s choice, we’re left to wonder: How many names on this overhyped list are actual competitors, and which are just for show? Perhaps more importantly, does Pittsburgh stand a fighting chance? A few months ago, I published a post that assessed the city’s chances as a host – and now, I’ll take a closer look into the details that will either push the city above the rest or force it out of the game.

Many pro-Pittsburgh parties are optimistic about the city’s chances – and have ample reason to be. Pittsburgh is already well-known in corporate circles as a hub for advancement; the city hosts a thriving tech community and well-regarded talent pool. As Jim Rock, the CEO for the Pittsburgh-based robotics company Seegrid comments in an article for TribLIVE, “Pittsburgh has a long-standing reputation for innovation–long before top tech companies such as Apple, Google, Uber and even Amazon itself established a presence in the city.” More than a few high-level Amazon executives even have personal or professional connections to the city. But Pittsburgh’s culture and network isn’t the only draw in the city’s pitch; the area also financially attractive. The cost of commercial state is relatively low – especially when compared to those in its’ rival cities. The average cost per square foot of commercial real estate in Boston, for example, averages $50 per square foot. In Pittsburgh, the cost stands at around $30 per square foot.  

Pittsburgh’s advantages are clear. However, the city does face a number of challenges that may make it less attractive to Amazon’s board, including its comparatively modest workforce. HQ2 stands to make 50,000 jobs once it opens – and while that may sound impressive on paper, the open positions won’t do the community or company any good if there aren’t people to fill them. According to  a 2016 study by Allegheny Conference on Community, increasing retirement rates and an insufficient influx of workers could cause Pittsburgh to lose as many as 80,000 workers by 2025. Mayor Bill Peduto isn’t concerned, though; at a press conference shortly after the shortlist went public, he expressed his belief that Pittsburgh was more than equipped to compete with the other cities on the shortlist and could attract the workers if chosen. Currently, the city has made strides to cultivate talent and STEM interest in schools in an attempt to encourage young workers to pursue careers in tech. This all said, the city’s low workforce will be a factor Amazon will need to keep in mind when making their final selection.

It is worth noting that the so-called “shortlist” is not all that short. Amazon has approached the process with the calculation of a career politician and the dramatic savvy of a reality dating show, thereby fostering a competitive culture which will surely be to their benefit. The company even requested that those in Pittsburgh government sign a nondisclosure agreement and limit their communications to a single representative for greater confidentiality. It is unclear whether officials will comply with their request – but with the importance of the issue, silence seems likely. Pittsburgh stands as a fantastic candidate for HQ2; however, the choice ultimately comes down to Amazon.  With all of the secrecy and drama seen thus far, we can probably expect a few more months of drawn-out competitions and closed doors.

For more of Jason Cohen’s work, please visit JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh’s MLK Day of Service

Habitat for Humanity pic

Habitat for Humanity
Image: habitat.org

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh is a real estate group headed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania local Jason Cohen. When he is not providing local clients with in-depth, highly personalized real estate advising services, Mr. Cohen and his team engage in charitable activities, serving as one of the primary sponsors for the Habitat for Humanity special MLK Day program.

The MLK Day of Service is a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh event that takes place annually on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. As part of past MLK Day of Service events, the organization has completed a number of special projects including cleanups of multiple neighborhoods and homeless shelters, painting and other improvements at community centers and dance studios, and construction projects at local food pantries.

In recent years, MLK Day of Service has spread throughout the city to surrounding counties such as Braddock County, where volunteers helped paint a room at the Salvation Army Center, and Lincoln-Lemon County, where some 50 volunteers came together to make significant improvements to the Holy Trinity Baptist Church. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore also has been a beneficiary of MLK Day volunteer work. To learn more about MLK Day of Service opportunities, please visit www.pittsburghhabitat.org.