December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays from Scates Realty!

As we enjoy the holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the season when family and friends gather, and the big picture in terms of how we're all expected to get along on this increasingly crowded planet of ours.

The holidays often put people around the table who may not normally see one another throughout the year. Far flung relatives, cousins, in-laws, and other guests-of-guests may come from all walks of life. Their political, religious, and social viewpoints may differ widely from our own. Yet when we see them during the holidays, we do our best to tolerate differences. Ideally, we look for ways to connect rather than provoke arguments.

December 18, 2015

Maximizing Refrigerator Space for the Holidays

With big holidays come big meals, and despite our best efforts, we seldom finish all the amazing food. Ever found your fridge too stuffed with leftovers?

The truth is, many of us don’t manage our refrigerator space well. There’s actually a ton more room in your fridge if you make smart choices about how your organize what you need to store. Here are some surprising ways to make the most out of the cold space you have in your kitchen.

  1. Ditch the round storage containers. Plastic storage bins are cheap enough now that you can probably afford to replace those old circular ones with stackable square ones. Square or rectangular shapes are far more efficient for the typical fridge.

December 11, 2015

’Tis the Season for Charity

There are those in this world who do not enjoy the comforts of home. Those who lack the fundamentals of food, shelter, and safety. During the holiday season it can be easy to overlook the less fortunate, even when they’re right here in our own communities.

Like many in real estate, I support causes I believe in with donations of time and money. There is nothing quite as satisfying as giving back and knowing that what I give makes a difference in the lives of others.

If you’re new to supporting causes, you may have some doubts about whether or not your donations go to the people who are most in need. There are many organizations out there which claim to support a cause, but how can you be sure they devote most of their resources to the cause and not the pockets of their directors and offices? I have two resources which might help you evaluate organizations and feel secure about your donations.

December 4, 2015

How to Spot a Gas Leak

With the winter months upon us, it's especially important to be on the lookout for gas leaks. Heaters which may not have been used recently, lines which may have been damaged in storms... they can all be the source of gas leaks.

I wanted to offer you these tips, shared by Pacific Gas & Electric in California. Did you know that an underground utility is damaged in America every eight minutes? Gas lines are among the most frequently damaged utilities.

Here’s how you can spot a natural gas leak:
  1. Smell: Natural gas supply is mixed with a sulfuric "rotten egg" smell. This way, even small amounts of gas may be detected.
  2. Sound: Hissing, whistling, or "roaring" coming from underground or a gas appliance may be an indication of a gas leak.

November 27, 2015

You have Multiple Offers. Now what?

When inventory is tight and a market heats up, sellers often dream of finding themselves in a multiple offer situation. In a multiple offer situation, more than one potential buyer submits a written offer on the home. With multiple offers on a property, the listing agent can then try and “shop the top offer” in order to try and get the best deal possible for their client.

If you live in a hot market, how do you structure your listing in such a way that you get the best possible offers in a multiple offer situation?

One strategy for cultivating multiple offers is letting buyers know that the seller will only entertain offers on a certain date. Rather than deal with offers dribbling in one at a time, there’s a deadline for offers. When this happens, buyers know they have to have a truly exceptional offer on the table if they hope to be in the running for the property.

November 20, 2015

Save on Your Heating Costs this Winter

The laws of thermodynamics can be expensive. When the big winter weather arrives, the heat can leach from your home through a variety of obvious and unexpected ways, resulting in high heating bills. Wouldn’t you rather put that money into holiday shopping or upgrades for your house?

The most obvious culprits are in plain sight: Doors and windows. The weatherstripping around doors shouldn’t admit any light, and when it comes to windows, you’ll want to look for holes in the caulking. You could even upgrade your windows to double-pane, or go with storm windows to improve insulation. But the less obvious and less dramatic options are available to you, too. Here are 5 tips you may not have thought of when it comes to heating leaks and your overall energy spend:

  1. Cover up your water heater. For $20 - $40 you can secure a water heater blanket at most hardware stores. This will help keep your water heater insulated, which in turn means the water heater will use less energy to keep you in those warm showers. You might even consider dropping your water heater temperature from 140F/60C down to a safe but reasonable 120F/49C.

November 13, 2015

What to Look for When Evaluating School Districts

Given the way most communities work, the location of a home dictates the local school district. The quality of the school district can have a direct impact on the value of your home. Even if you don’t have kids or don’t have to plan kids, the quality of the local schools can positively or negatively effect your home’s value. Buyers tend to prefer homes in good school districts, either because they have school-aged children, or they are thinking of resale value down the line.

So how do you know if your local schools make the grade? What signs point towards an improving or declining school district? Here are a five things you’ll want to consider:

  1. Test scores. It’s a basic measurement of student performance and educator effectiveness. Look at the performance historically for an idea of which direction things have been heading.

November 6, 2015

Veteran's Day is November 11th

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of November in 1918, World War One ended. Arguably the most terrible war the modern world had witnessed to date was finally over. Few souls on Earth went untouched in some way by the war. So many served, so many died, and so many took the scars of their experience home with them and did their best to get on with life. All had hoped there would never be cause for such sacrifice in the future.

October 30, 2015

What is Virtual Home Staging?

When it comes to marketing and selling a home, staging can be a powerful tool. Some may argue that home staging isn't worth the cost, but there are many good arguments for making the investment in a professional home stager.  Staging not only helps a home sell faster in many cases, but it can also boost buyer desire for a home, resulting in a potentially higher closing price. What’s more, a commitment to staging can prevent you from procrastinating when it comes to decluttering. (After all, you need to have a nice clean canvas for a staging expert to work with.)

Now, though, some agents are turning towards virtual staging. Virtual staging, broadly defined, is the use of computer imaging technology to create realistic listing photos which display a staged home, even though the property itself is not actually staged. Photos of empty rooms are transformed through 3D modeling and photo editing. The results can be quite impressive.

Proponents of virtual home staging say the benefits are obvious. Not only is it less expensive than traditional home staging, but it can also be completed in less time. Stagers, on the other hand, feel the practice is somewhat deceptive. The main argument seems to be that buyers will be disappointed when they arrive at the empty home after seeing staged photos online.

October 16, 2015

What is a Pocket Listing?

Not every home sold gets a shiny new for sale sign out front. Some change hands quickly and quietly without any public advertising whatsoever. In the industry, these are known as “pocket listings.” Pocket listings are sometimes referred to as “coming soon” listings or “whisper” listings.

Pocket listings used to be the domain of the very famous or the very wealthy. People who liked to protect their privacy would typically work with an agent who could find a buyer among word-of-mouth networks of agents representing high-end buyers. Often this happened only in urban areas or in the luxury segment, but now in markets where inventory is tight and bidding wars are not uncommon, pocket listings are becoming somewhat more mainstream.

You might ask yourself: Why not advertise a home in a market where multiple offers are the norm? It can depend. In some cases, the seller may want a quick and painless sale, and would prefer not to go through the traditional process of cleaning, curb appeal sprucing, and open houses. When the seller’s agent happens to know the buyers directly, often a simple walk-through with prospective buyers is enough to secure one acceptable offer.

October 2, 2015

Is Your Home Prepared for your Retirement Years?

If you love your home and plan to live it in through your retirement years, you’ll want to be sure it’s safe for you as you face some of those little challenges aging presents. Assess your home and see if there are any changes you may need to make. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of injury, but it will also give your loved ones peace-of-mind, especially if you live alone.

Here’s what you’ll want to inspect as you consider aging in place:
  • Bathroom handrails. Next to the toilet and tub are top choices. Not only are they there for moments of instability, but they can help you raise and lower yourself more easily. You might also consider converting to a walk-in shower with a seat.

September 25, 2015

Home Renovations with Great Returns

Not all renovations are created equal. If you’re adding a luxurious new bathroom or a “man cave” for your own purposes, you’re probably not too concerned about your return when the house goes on the market. You’re spending the money for your pleasure and quality of life, not the return.

But many homeowners see their home as a financial investment vehicle and understand that it’s quite likely the day will come in 5 to 7 years when they are ready to trade up or move to a new market. With this eye, every renovation is a calculated decision. In this situation, you want to select projects which are likely to provide a good return.

Any renovation which improves the value of your home in the eyes of buyers without breaking your renovation budget is an excellent choice. So how do you know which ones buyers want to see?

September 18, 2015

Buyer Beware: Don’t Neglect to Inspect a Home Yourself

Home inspection professionals are trained to spot problems and evaluate a home’s overall condition. While they have a reputation for being ethical and thorough, they are also still human. Sometimes details escape their attention.

If you’re making a major investment in a home, there’s no reason you have to leave 100% of the inspection up to someone else. There are definitely areas you can review for yourself (or hire an outside party to review).

Before you sign off on a house, don’t neglect to review these commonly overlooked areas:

September 11, 2015

Remembering our Heroes

Every year on this day, we are reminded of all of the amazing men and women who worked hard and risked their lives to help during one of the most tragic occurrences our country has seen in recent memory. 

 Homes for Heroes was formed in 2002 to support those Heroes who continue to serve selflessly in their communities. This program has allowed us to save our local heroes thousands of dollars when buying, selling and refinancing their homes. In fact, the national program has save Heroes over $10 million!

September 4, 2015

Don’t Fear a Hot Homebuyer’s Market

If you’ve found yourself paralyzed by this active market, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey of 3,500 buyers, a whopping 58% of potential homebuyers are sitting on the sidelines because they’re afraid the market is too hot. Here’s a breakdown of their top concerns:

  1. Affordability: Prices are rising or too high (27%)
  2. There's too much competition from other buyers (17%)
  3. There aren't enough homes to choose from (14%)

While it’s true we’ve seen a dramatic increase in market activity over the past few years, it’s important to remember that what you want isn’t necessarily what everyone else wants. Where you want to live and the type of home you want to live in isn’t necessarily subject to the “macro trends” in any given market situation.

August 21, 2015

Ask Your Agent the Right Questions

Odds are the day will come when you need to speak to a real estate agent to help you sell your home. When that day comes, you want to be absolutely sure you have the knowledge you need to choose someone who has the background and skills to represent your interests.

First, you’ll want to work with an agent who represents sellers as the majority of their business. You’ll find that many agents have experience on both the buying and selling side of the situation, but it’s optimal to work with an agent who has dedicated the majority of their time working with sellers.

While rapport is important, it is far from the most important factor. Yes, it is ideal to work with someone you like and someone who will communicate well with you, but there is a much more effective way to sort the amateurs and the pros: The numbers.

August 14, 2015

Your Moving Day Survival Kit

Moving day has a lot of moving parts. Almost everything you own is stored for transit, and finding one or two essential items can be a major headache, even if you labeled your boxes.

To make the day as smooth as possible, I advise my clients make a “Moving Day Survival Kit.” It’s surprising how awesome having these items at your disposal is when you first land at your new home. From paper plates and plastic flatware for lunch to toilet paper for the obvious reasons, the Moving Day Survival Kit can be a real life-saver as you sort out where the furniture and boxes need to be. Here’s what I recommend you pack in your Moving Day Survival Kit:

August 7, 2015

Don’t Get Caught Underwater: Flood Insurance

It’s a nightmare situation, and we’ve all seen it on the news before: Water lapping at people’s roofs, furniture floating in inundated living rooms, and entire livelihoods swept away by floods. Almost any waterway can become a flood threat if the conditions are right. What would you do if you found your home facing a rising water line?

Most people don’t realize that basic homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Think snow damage or hurricanes are covered by your policy? Check again. Many companies will not pay out for repairs from water events such as these.

July 31, 2015

There is No Never

When we’re pursuing our dreams, there’s a real hunger to make them happen as fast as possible. Whether those dreams involve a career goal, a creative endeavor, like writing a novel, or even buying that first home, working the long stretch to realize them can be frustrating.

The actress Solenn Heussaff once said: “There is no never… just long periods of not yet.” I like this quote because it reminds us that the best we can do is stay the course, work hard, and maintain our hope.

July 24, 2015

Good and Bad Signs in a Neighborhood

Like most things in real estate, neighborhoods are constantly changing in value. In some cases they can improve rapidly and decline gradually, but more often than not they change slowly, over time.

Ideally, you want to buy property in neighborhoods as they’re appreciating. You certainly don’t want to pay top dollar in a neighborhood which is in decline. So how can you tell which direction things are heading?

Home values over time are one way to tell, but they tend to lag behind the trends. Values reflect what the current situation is… they don’t predict the future.

July 17, 2015

Socialize with your new ‘hood: Garage sale!

It’s common sense to have a garage sale before your big move. There’s no reason to pay movers to load boxes of items you can do without. Plus, who needs the clutter in their new home?

But have you ever considered a garage sale after you’ve moved into your new house?

It’s actually a great idea for a number of reasons:

July 10, 2015

Home Office Remodeling: So 1995!

Many home remodeling projects do wonders for the value of the home. Certain upgrades and renovations pay dividends when it comes time to sell, and you often can recoup the money you’ve invested in the upgrade.

There are exceptions, however. And one stands head and shoulders above the rest (or should I say below) when it comes to return on investment:

The home office.

Surprised? It may seem like a home office would be a boon for your home at sale time, especially considering the number of people who telecommute and work online. But the fact of the matter is, a home office seldom recoups more than 45% of the money invested in the remodel.

Why? A couple of main factors.

July 3, 2015

Have a Safe 4th of July: Fireworks Safety Tips

Independence Day is here, and all summer long, people enjoy amazing displays of fireworks. From the spectacular hometown shows to the simple backyard celebration, pyrotechnics are an essential part of the party.

But according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 240 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. Don’t spend a night in the hospital when you can easily prevent injuries to eyes, hands, fingers by observing some simple safety tips.

June 26, 2015

Cleaning Projects to Help Your Home’s Curb Appeal

By User:Randall1022 (Own work)
 via Wikimedia Commons
Whether your home is two years old or a classic concrete block ranch from 1950, you can help your house hold its value and scream curb appeal with a few simple fair weather cleaning projects. Keeping a home in shape in a little like good dental hygiene… routine attention prevents major renovation!

With the sun shining, here are the top projects you should schedule before settling into vacation mode. Stay on top of these at least once a year and you’ll not only help your home shine, but you’ll fend off the threat of more costly repairs and replacements in the future:

1. Power wash. Blast off mold, oxidized stains, kicked up mud, and the grim insect life which can build up over the course of a year. This is good not only for your exterior walls, but also driveways, patios, and panel fencing (both sides, please!). If you don’t own a power washer, you can usually rent one affordably. Be careful with power washers, though, as they can also strip paint when dialed up and used improperly. If power washing isn’t your bag personally, hire someone with a track record to handle this wet-and-wild job.

June 19, 2015

Tips for the Summer Home Seller

Spring kicks off the peak home hunting months of the year, but it isn’t until summer that things really get cooking. While there are pros and cons to buying and selling homes at various times throughout the year, summer can be, on average 25 to 30 percent more active than the annual average.

In summer you have a real mix of buyers and sellers… some serious and some not-so-serious. In the winter months, many buyers searching for homes would only do so if they absolutely had to. In the summer, there are often a larger number of buyers just toying with the idea. (Many of the serious buyers are eager to get settled before school starts in the fall.)

Selling homes in the summer requires its own brand of seasonal marketing and showing. Here are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you invite buyers to consider your home:

June 12, 2015

Why overpricing hurts sellers in the end

All sellers want their home to sell for the highest possible price. This is one reason it’s why it’s so easy for agents to “buy” listings. If you’re not familiar with the concept, “buying” a listing is when an agent (unscrupulously) tells a client their home is worth far more than the market value in order to win the listing.

Sellers are susceptible to this tactic because they want to believe, however irrationally, that their home is for some reason or another worth more than comparable homes on the market. Sometimes, though, sellers believe high home pricing is either an acceptable risk or even a benefit. Here’s what they say, and why it’s a problem:

1. “I can always come down in price later if I have to.”

Yes, it’s possible that someone will find the house irresistible and pay the inflated price, but the odds are the house will languish on the market until the price comes down. Buyers, though, will see this from a different perspective. They’ll be thinking: What’s wrong with the property? Maybe I can get this house for significantly below market value. Holding out for a high could end up leading to a desperation low.

June 5, 2015

Are you prepared to be an historic homeowner?

There’s much to admire about owning an historic home. You probably don’t need to be sold
(WT-shared) Jtesla16 at wts wikivoyage
via Wikimedia Commons
on the beauty of a grand old house, and in all likelihood the home is in an established neighborhood or district where prices are projected to appreciate at a better clip than other areas. Plus, if it’s truly classified as an historic home, and not simply an old house, you probably can take advantage of tax breaks other owners might not enjoy.

But before you fall in love with the gleam of summer light cascading through a century-old stained glass window, pause and consider what you’re really in for when you buy an historic home.

May 22, 2015

A Guide for Relocating with Your Pets

By Joshua T. Beck (Own work)
Moving is stressful. Organizing, packing, cleaning, scheduling… the number of tasks can seem overwhelming. One thing that makes the stress worthwhile is the idea that soon you’ll be settling into your new home.

But what about your pets? For them, moving is an extremely unsettling experience. While you know the big picture, your furry and feathered friends only see their world falling apart. This can result in stress-related behaviors or even illness. So how do you preserve your pets’ sanity during the change?

May 15, 2015

An investment property with a twist

Now is an excellent time to invest in a property. Whether you’re an all-cash buyer or looking to lock in a favorable rate on a loan, there are perfect properties out there you can leverage into a cash-flow-positive asset.

If you’ve ever considered owning a rental property, but haven’t much liked the thought of a traditional tenant/landlord relationship, perhaps some of these alternative ideas will spark your imagination.

May 8, 2015

Scoring the Scoreless: New FICO Approach

If you’re in the market for a home, you’re probably in the market for a mortgage. With the exception of all-cash buyers, most buyers will find out soon what their FICO score is and what banks think about it.

The FICO score has a huge impact on whether or not lenders consider you an acceptable credit risk, and yet there are more than 53 million Americans out there who don’t have a credit score at all. This doesn’t mean they’re a bad risk, necessarily… it just means they haven’t used credit cards, held a previous mortgage, or had an auto loan. They may be perfectly responsible financial citizens. So how do they apply for a mortgage?

May 1, 2015

FHA Condo Buyers Beware

By Mofadz at ms.wikipedia (Own work Transferred from ms.wikipedia)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
If you’re looking to take advantage of an FHA Loan and are considering a condo, you should be aware that not all condos are eligible for FHA Loans.

A condo can be a great choice for a first-time buyer. Also great for first-time buyers? FHA Loans. Many FHA Loans require down payments as small as 3.5% of the purchase price of the property. They also create loan opportunities for people with less-than-perfect credit or other financial challenges.

April 24, 2015

Tips for choosing the right real estate agent

By lumaxart (3D Realty Handshake)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
As you probably know, having a real estate license doesn’t make someone a great agent. In fact, in any given market, a relatively small percentage of the total number of agents are responsible for a majority of the business. This means that when you’re evaluating agents, the odds of picking someone with relatively little experience or true skill can be disconcertingly high.

So how do you know you’re in danger of working with a rank amateur? Here are some common “sniff tests” to help you sort through the masses:

April 17, 2015

Cheap ways to increase your home’s value

By Ekyono (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Want to boost your home’s value, but don’t have the budget for a big renovation? Good news: You don’t need a big budget to make material improvements.

When evaluating home improvements, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if the money invested will be recouped in the sale of the home. The best renovations not only cover their costs, but they can actually provide a nice return. The key, of course, is identifying those improvements which deliver the biggest return for the smallest investment.

April 10, 2015

Answers for first-time home buyers

Okay, first-time buyers… it’s time to turn the dream into the dirt you can stand on. Your very own home. I’m sure you have questions. In fact, I’m sure your questions are like most first-time buyers. Which is why I’ve put together this down-and-dirty answer guide for the most common questions home buyers have.

April 3, 2015

Get more out of your golden years by relocating

Derek Harper 
Unlike earlier generations of retirees who paid off their mortgages and retired in their family home, today's Baby Boomers are looking to capitalize on home equity to enhance their retirement savings. If you’re thinking how relocating might stretch your retirement dollar, below are a few points you should consider before relocating, downsizing, or trading up: 

March 27, 2015

What do I mean when I say “MLS”?

By Russellprisco (
[CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Odds are you’ve spent a little time online searching for homes. After all, most home searches begin online. You may have even used a broker’s website or a site like Trulia or Zillow to help you browse listings.

But where does listing information come from?

March 20, 2015

Planning for Your First Vacation Home

By Haleybutlerhs (Own work)
With favorable interest rates still at hand, you may be considering the possibility of a vacation home. A vacation home can be an excellent investment, providing you with a tangible asset you can also enjoy when you want to take a little time off.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you start your search for the ideal vacation home: 

March 13, 2015

Why you need a final walk-through

By Dalia.f.khalil (Own work)

When I’m representing buyers in a deal, I always like to be sure a "final walk-through" is included prior to closing. This is especially true in a market where desperate and less-than-reputable sellers may try and walk out with the fixtures. While that may sound a little extreme, the final walk-through can head-off conflict before closing.

March 6, 2015

Shopping local builds community. Here’s why.

By Caroline Culler (Wgreaves) (Own work)
As a real estate agent, one of my biggest concerns is ensuring that local real estate values continue to appreciate as neighborhoods improve, businesses grow, and people are able to sustain safe, prosperous relationships with their neighbors. There are many factors which contribute to this, but one of the most important steady investments you can make in your community is by shopping local, independent businesses.

February 27, 2015

Questions buyers often overlook

By Los Angeles (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
 ( or
GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
When you’re home hunting, information is power. The more you know before you make an offer, the better. Usually when two homes are equally appealing, digging into the details can make a difference. Here’s a list of “bonus information” that most buyers overlook or forget to ask about while they’re shopping for a house:

February 20, 2015

Handy Floor planning Tools for Your Home

When marketing a listing, lots and lots of photographs help give buyers an idea of what the home is like before they tour the property. Professional photos online increase the amount of qualified interest in a home. But one often overlooked piece of information you can provide to help buyers is an accurate floor plan.

February 13, 2015

Easy fixes for common indoor maintenance issues

By U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist
Lucy M. Quinn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When heavy snows or summer storms keep you stuck indoors, you might consider passing the time with some simple home maintenance tasks. These simple projects can alleviate your boredom while protecting your family’s safety and the value of your home.

February 6, 2015

Market vs. Assessed Value: What’s it all Mean?

“What’s my home worth?”

This simple question is often answered three different ways. Ask your public tax assessor, and you’ll get one number (usually low). Look up your house on Zillow and you’ll get another number (usually too high). The third answer is market value, and if you’re selling your house, you’ll usually figure out what that number is (for good or ill) in 30 to 90 days.

January 30, 2015

Preserving old trees means preserving home value

Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (,
CC BY-SA 3.0 (
 or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Landscaping plays a major part in your home’s curb appeal. When preparing a home for sale, it’s common practice to spruce up lawns by planting fresh flowers a bushes, weeding, trimming back trees, and staying on top of the overall condition of the lawn.

But there is one major contributor to your property’s value which you can’t just drop in when you’re getting ready to sell: old growth trees. It turns out that the number and quality of established, mature trees on your property can have a direct impact on the value of your home.

January 23, 2015

Staging Your Home for the Right Buyer

Staging a home to sell is the process of redecorating or cost-effectively renovating aspects of your home to present it in the best light. Much like cleaning up a home’s curb appeal to appeal to buyers, staging can position your house to sell faster and for a higher price than it might otherwise.

It’s important to remember with staging that you’re not decorating the home to appeal to you, the seller, but to the prospective buyer. When working with a stager, you have to learn to set aside your own aesthetic preferences and ask yourself how a buyer might see the home. Imagining who those buyers might be can help your stager make decisions about which direction to take the interior design.

January 16, 2015

Flu Season Protection for Your Home

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman
 Philip A. McDaniel. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The peak of flu season tends to be between December and February, and during these months a little extra cleaning can really pay off. When we go out and about, we can easily bring home the flu virus, and it can continue to be a threat on surfaces throughout the home.

Using a disinfectant registered with the Environmental Protection Agency is a smart move. Remember to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face while cleaning.

Here’s a checklist of places you’ll want to clean more regularly during the flu season: