Handy Tool Makes It Easier To Do Critical Home Inventory

Handy Tool

Setting aside a few minutes to create (or update) an inventory of your personal possessions will pay off if you ever have to file a homeowners insurance claim.

Get the job done quickly with the Know Your Stuff® app for iPhone and androids from the Insurance Information Institute (III).

No matter how you choose to do it, the important thing is to create a home inventory and update it when you make major purchases. An up-to-date home inventory will:


  • Help you purchase the right amount and type of insurance.
  • Make filing a claim as simple as possible.
  • Substantiate your financial losses for tax purposes or when applying for financial assistance.

You can use the Know Your Stuff® – Home Inventory website to set up an online account and store information about your insurance policies.

The software guides you through the process of creating and updating your home inventory, allowing you to set up rooms and list items within those rooms. You can also upload photographs and scanned receipts or appraisal forms, and generate several types of reports once your inventory is complete, or if you need to file a claim.

The software includes free, secure online storage at Amazon, so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime—which can be important should you need to evacuate your home in a sudden emergency.

Not An App User?

If you’re not into phone apps, creating a photo inventory is a great way to document your possessions if you ever have to file an insurance claim.

Start by creating a few photos of each room or area. Stand in different regions of the room and take several broad photos. Once done, tackle individual items. Take multiple photos of objects to capture the backside, inside, details, brand or model name, serial numbers, etc.
Create A File Naming System

To make it easier to find things in your inventory, create a photo file-naming system when you move the pictures from your camera to your computer.

For example, you can name each picture based on the room, item, age and cost. So if you have a drill in the garage that you bought in 2014 for $125, the file name would be: Garage_drill_2014_$125.

Add the photo file names when you transfer your pictures to your computer. As you build your catalog and photograph the items, periodically print out the list for safekeeping and check for accuracy.

Save A Backup

As you work, print out a running copy of your inventory list and store it in a safe place. If you like, add a thumbnail view photo beside each item name.

Check your photo software to see if it offers a gallery or catalog lay out. That’s a good option for organizing your photos.

Once your inventory-taking project is complete, save a master copy of your written list on a flash drive, print out your photos or organize them in a photo book. Store the book or photos in a location other than your home. A bank safe deposit box or a relative’s home that’s not nearby are good options.

You can also take advantage of free, unlimited storage for life of all your photos at MailPix

4 Equity-Boosting, Money-Saving Fall Home Projects

4-Equity-Boosting1. Update your kitchen island or bar lighting.

The right lighting can open up your kitchen space or create a more intimate setting for gatherings and special events. One way to enhance the space around the breakfast bar or even put a spotlight on the kitchen island is with canopy lights.

Canopy fixtures cover a wider space with multiple bulbs and you can choose from a variety of different styles, including a Rustic Barn Chandelierhttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=homea00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00M0DV2XY, Glass Pendant Shadeshttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=homea00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B008AU1BGO, or even a $17,735 bejeweled Swarovski Crystalline Icicles Pendant Chandelierhttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=homea00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B006PRD2M0 that spreads all the way across the bar.



equity boost 2

2. Replace or repaint your front door.

Exterior door replacement had the highest return on value of any project in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Valuereport. The average cost for a steel front door is $1,162 and it returned $1,122, or 96.6 percent of its cost.

If your front door is in good shape, freshen it up with a new color. Get inspired with this DIY Network slide show featuring 28 inviting colors to paint a front door.



equity boost 33. Seal the air ducts and holes in your home’s exterior.

As much as 20 to 30 percent of the air moving through your HVAC’s duct system leaks out through poorly sealed ducts and holes. Lower your utility bill by sealing the ducts in your attic, crawlspace, unfinished basement and garage. Use aluminum foil tapehttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=homea00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000HBOYZO not duct tape (which won’t last). Seal the ducts at the vents, too, so as much air as possible makes it into the rooms of your home.

Next, head outside with a can of spray foam expanding sealanthttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=homea00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0012UP804 and seal any holes you can find. Only fill the gaps one-third full as the foam triples in size.


equity boost 44. Replace your garage door.

If you have a front-facing garage, its door is a dominant visual feature of your home. Upgrading it generates an 84 percent return on cost. Looking for something distinctive?

C.H.I. Overhead Doors’ stamped carriage house line adds a warm wood tone that brings character to any home style.



Like these projects but don’t want to do them yourself? Contact me and I’ll put you in touch with a qualified home improvement contractor who can install beautiful light fixtures or an updated garage door. There are also local, home energy efficiency companies who can seal your ducts and exterior home air leaks.

Considering Selling. Prepare First!

consider sellingMillions of existing homes are sold each year and, while each transaction is different, every owner wants the same thing: the best

possible deal with the least amount of hassle and aggravation.

Home selling has become more complex than it used to be. New seller disclosure statements, longer and more mysterious form agreements, and a range of environmental concerns have all emerged in the past decade.

More importantly, the home selling process has changed. Buyer brokerage, the process in which REALTORS® represent home buyers, is now common nationwide and good buyer-brokers want the best for their clients.

The result is that, while hundreds of thousands of existing homes may be sold each week, the process is not as easy for sellers as it was five or 10 years ago. Surviving in today’s real estate world requires experience and training in such fields as real estate marketing, financing, negotiating and closing, the very expertise available from local REALTORS®.

Are You Ready?

The home-selling process typically starts several months before a property is made available for sale. It’s necessary to look at a home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out.

Ask yourself: If you were buying this home, what would you want to see? The goal is to show a home that looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers as possible.

While part of the “getting ready” phase relates to repairs, painting and other home improvements, it is also a good time to ask why you really want to sell. Selling a home is an important matter and you should have a good reason to sell, perhaps a job change to a new community or the need for more space. Your reason for selling can impact the negotiating process, so it’s important to discuss your needs and wants in private with the REALTOR® who lists your home.

When Should You Sell?

The marketplace tends to be more active in the summer because parents want to enroll children in classes at the beginning of the school year (usually in August). Summer is also typically when most homes are likely to be available.  Having said this recent trends show Southwestern Illinois peaking in early Spring over the previous few years.

Generally speaking, markets tend to have some balance between buyers and sellers year-round. For example, a given community may have fewer buyers in late December, but it’s also likely to have fewer homes available for purchase. As a result, home prices tend to rise or fall due to general patterns of supply and demand, rather than the time of year.

Owners are encouraged to sell when the property is ready for sale, there is a need or desire to sell, and the services of a local REALTOR® have been retained.

How Do You Improve Your Home’s Value?

The general rule in real estate is that buyers seek the least expensive home in the best neighborhood they can afford. This means you want to put on the market a home that fits with the neighborhood but is not over-improved. For example, if most homes in your neighborhood have three bedrooms, two baths and 2,500 square feet of finished space, a property with five bedrooms, more baths and far more space would likely be priced much higher and would be more difficult to sell.

Improvements should be made so that the property shows well, reflects community preferences and does not involve capital investments, the cost of which cannot be recovered from the sale.

Cosmetic improvements, paint, wallpaper, landscaping, etc., help a home show better and often are good investments. Mechanical repairs that ensure all systems and appliances are in good working condition are required to get a top price.

Ideally, you want to be sure your property is competitive with other homes available in the community. REALTORS®, who see numerous homes, can provide suggestions that are consistent with your marketplace.