Use Lighting to Add Value to Your Bathroom

Lighting is a great way to give your bathroom a whole new look and feel – and it’s an easy way to add value to your home.

Keep in mind that you can never have too much light in the bathroom. It is recommended that you layer light sources to provide enough illumination for applying makeup and for shaving while reducing glare.

· Begin by selecting an overhead fixture for general lighting in the room; cove and recessed lighting are popular choices.

· Recessed lighting in the shower area makes shaving and shampooing easier.

· Your tub area needs good general light, which can be offered by recessed light fixtures. To avoid glare, aim the light’s beam at the outside edge of the tub.

· For vanity areas, keeping in mind that recessed lighting tends to cast shadows on the face, consider adding lights on both sides of the mirror, set at eye level. Coated or frosted bulbs are a good choice because they enhance facial features and reduce glare, while warm fluorescent bulbs offer even illumination for the face. Good picks for vanity lighting include vertical strip fixtures or decorative wall sconces.

· Linear lighting systems are great for illuminating the floor. Place them in the toe space below the vanity and cabinets.

· Don’t block out the light from windows – it will supplement or replace electric options.

· Remember that fixtures in wet areas must be approved for such use.

Useful Tips to Keep Your Child’s Room Tidy

One of the greatest challenges when it comes to keeping a child’s room clean and organized is lack of storage space. It’s particularly important to keep these rooms looking tidy when you put your home on the market. Here are some tips to make the best use of space.

Beds: Consider buying a platform bed with built-in drawers to store toys or bulky clothing, or raise your child’s existing bed frame and use under-the-bed storage boxes to hold out-of-season clothes or books. Loft beds are a wonderful way to free up floor space, and many come with built-in desks and shelves for homework and books. If you have two children sharing a room, a bunk bed can also be used to free up floor space.

Double-duty Furniture: Using furniture that serves more than one purpose increases storage and frees up space in the bedroom. Benches with hinged tops can be used for storing stuffed animals, toys, or extra linens. Chests and ottomans that can be opened to store items can also be used as chairs or tables in a child’s room.

Walls: Taller shelving units will take up less floor space, while providing space for books or storage containers. Make certain to secure shelf units to the wall to prevent children from tipping them over. A nice place to store fragile or decorative items is up near your child’s ceiling. Line the top of your child’s bedroom walls with shelves, and place items up high that you would rather your child not have access to. Pegs are another fantastic way to use wall space, and young children will enjoy hanging up hats, jackets, and other items on the pegs.

Closets: Closet organizers should reach all the way from floor to ceiling to maximize storage possibilities. Place out-of-season clothes or other rarely used items on higher shelves, and keep frequently used items within your child’s reach.

Doors: Do not overlook the available space on the back of your child’s bedroom or closet door. Shoe organizers with clear plastic pockets make wonderful storage containers for small stuffed animals and cars, art supplies, and dolls.

First Impressions Count: Make Your Home Really Stand Out

First impressions at house showings are everything; when there is an excess of inventory on the real estate market, you need to make your home the one buyers just have to have – you must be the standout. Here are some ways you can do that.

Give your Realtor talking points – say what’s good about your home. Maybe it’s in a prime location with access to great schools and amenities, has a bustling nightlife, or enjoys a private, quiet setting – whatever you think is great about your home.

Show you care about your home – make it loved, and make it show. Make sure that your house is sparkling clean for every showing and impeccably maintained.

Get rid of any trash and clutter – open up your home to make it feel more spacious and sell yourselves as conscientious homeowners passing down a family treasure.

Don’t let anything in or outside of your home be in disrepair – because you’ll give the impression that this is a home not worth caring about.

As maintenance goes, painting is your number one best property maintenance investment – it’s relatively cheap, covers neglected surfaces, and gives everything a fresh, clean topcoat. There is just no better bang for your home improvement buck.

Cleaning your home for every showing is absolutely critical to selling it at a favorable price.

Is a Condo or Townhome Right for You?

Buyers from many walks of life are discovering the advantages of condo and townhome living.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer looking for an affordable way to own a home, a busy professional with little time to devote to home maintenance, or an empty-nester who’s “right-sizing,” a condo or townhome may be a good choice for you.

Advantages

· A condo or townhome is very low maintenance; landscaping and maintenance of the exterior structure are typically handled by the homeowners’ association (HOA). This is attractive if you’re not “handy” or if you have a busy lifestyle that doesn’t leave much time for home maintenance.

· Many communities offer amenities such as pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, and walking trails, which may not be available with many detached homes.

· Newer construction offers greatly improved sound barriers and fire walls.

· The proximity of neighbors may give owners a greater sense of security.

Disadvantages

· HOA dues increase your monthly outgoings and can rise in the future as maintenance and repair costs go up. Increases or decreases in HOA fees usually must be approved by the HOA, but check the community bylaws before making an offer to purchase a condo or townhome.

· HOA covenants and by-laws may restrict the way you can use or improve your property. Again, be sure to read them carefully before making an offer.

· Available parking for guests may be limited.

· Typically, there is less storage space than in a detached home.


Before purchasing any home, consider the potential for resale. To determine if the property you’re considering is a good investment, ask about the condo/townhome market in your area.

Boost Your Home’s Value with Summer Projects that Sell

Everyone loves summer and with good reason: after a long winter, the bright sunshine beckons young and old alike to sit by the pool, enjoy a little music, and soak in the warmth. Summer is also the most popular time to buy or sell a home; and by investing a little time and energy into these summer projects that sell, your home will look its best whether it goes on the market next week or next year.

Fencing: Families with pets, young children or those just seeking a little additional privacy will appreciate the functionality and appearance of an attractive sturdy fence. Major home centers sell everything required for the do-it-yourself type, including attractive, low-maintenance PVC options. If your property is already fenced, take time to make sure it is well maintained.

Outdoor Sanctuary: With a little creativity and a few hundred dollars, it is easy to turn a problem spot into the center of attention. Get creative with an easy to install garden pond, butterfly or flower garden, wind chime and outdoor seating. Consider adding a decorative fire-pit to encourage family time on those warm summer evenings.

Update the Paint: Indoors or outdoors, painting is a simple way to give your home a fresh new look. If it has been more than five years since your home has had a fresh coat, make it a priority to paint. Do not stop with the house: concrete stains and unique drive-way art are other popular options designed to attract attention. Just be sure to keep them neutral.

Relocating? Tips to Help Figure Out the Cost

Americans are mobile by nature so it should come as no surprise that relocation is a major reason for buying or selling a home.

Deciding to pick up and move to a new city can be a great opportunity to increase your standard of living for the entire family for years to come, but there are also pitfalls.

Failure to properly consider the full cost of relocation can turn a joyful event into pure stress.

Learn how to calculate the full cost of relocation with these quick tips.

Cost of Living

If you currently reside in a high cost area of the nation like D.C. or New York City, then most places will seem more affordable.

On the other hand, moving from a relatively rural area to a major city can result in daunting increases for housing, taxes, and even insurance.

Commute and Convenience

Urban warriors relocating to small town life are often giddy at the prospect of saving a bundle on mortgage and insurance.

Before you get too excited, take time to calculate the cost of the new commute and convenience. While it is true that small town living has its advantages, expect to invest more time and money in gasoline, groceries, and other routines.

Cleaning, Clearing and Leaving

Do not forget the cost of moving itself. Whether you rent a truck and do it yourself, or pay to have everything handled professionally, relocation is expensive.

Include moving fees, cleaning, utilities, insurance, down payments, and lost wages, just to name a few of the anticipated expenses.

Taxes

One frequently overlooked expense involves potential taxes. Be sure to calculate the cost of any taxes that may be due on the profit of the home if you have not owned it for at least five years.

Selling Your Home? Discover How to Avoid Costly Mistakes

With a little information and attention, expensive mistakes for the homeowner can be avoided.

Price

The single biggest mistake people make is setting the asking price too high. An amount suited both to the home and to the market conditions attracts the greatest number of prequalified buyers, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a higher price in the end.

Home Staging

Houses not shown at their best are another source of lost profit. Act on any advice you are given about cosmetic changes and minor repairs.

A clean, tidy and sweet-smelling home goes without saying.

· Set viewing hours for the greatest accessibility to buyers. In a competitive market, people can easily go elsewhere and fall in love with another house.

· Don’t be home during the showings. Prospective buyers feel more comfortable raising concerns and poking about when the current owners are not present.

· Remove as many personal items as possible. The things that mark the house as yours interfere with the buyers’ abilities to imagine it as theirs.

Other Considerations

Sell before you buy to avoid loss of negotiating position at both ends. Plan for the move early, and pack as much as you can as soon as possible.

How to Show Your Home if You Have a Pet

Selling a home with a pet in residence can be a difficult undertaking.

Many home buyers – even those with pets of their own at home – can be put off by yours.

Pets Can Make Visitors Nervous

No one thinks of their own pet as scary. But even the mildest mannered cat or dog (not to mention snakes or mice!) can make a visitor nervous.

Perhaps the most common response from a home seller about the “threat” posed by their pet is denial: “Buffy is a sweetheart. She won’t hurt anyone.”

But no owner can be certain of how a pet will respond when strangers enter the home in their absence.

An unexpected reaction could frighten potential buyers away before they’ve even looked at your home.

Ask Friends for Help

The safest course of action is to remove a pet from the home while it is listed for sale.

Ask friends or family members to care for the pet, or board it at a nearby facility.

If this is not possible, put your pet into a carrier during showings and alert visitors not to disturb it.

Remove Stains and Odors

Buyers also frequently take issue with a pet’s impact on the cleanliness and condition of the home.

Pet stains, odors and damage are a big turn-off and can significantly decrease your home’s value in the market.

Use the Professionals

To help your home bring the highest possible price, remove stains and repair any damage your pet may have caused.

Consider having your home professionally cleaned, and have a friend verify that your home doesn’t have an objectionable odor.

Store pet accessories out of sight.

The goal: to create a positive first impression with potential buyers.

How to Conduct a Simple Home Energy Audit

If you’re remodelling your home, conduct an energy audit to determine what improvements can be made to make it more energy efficient. An energy-efficient home can save you money in the form of lower energy bills and can reduce negative impacts on the environment.

An energy audit will assess how much energy your home consumes and evaluate steps you can take to make it more efficient. You can perform the audit yourself or have a professional do it.

A professional energy audit incorporates extensive testing using specialized equipment and an assessment of residents’ behaviours to offer a thorough analysis. If you’re conducting the audit yourself, you’ll want to:

· Locate air leaks. Reducing drafts in a home will make it more comfortable while saving 5% to 30% on energy consumption.

· Inspect insulation. Large amounts of heat can be lost through walls and ceilings if insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum.

· Inspect heating and cooling equipment. This should be done at least annually (check the manufacturer’s recommendations).

· Examine lighting fixtures. Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your energy bill. Using lower wattage bulbs and switching to fluorescent lamps can help reduce your usage.

What Makes a Home Environmentally Friendly?

One of the hottest real estate trends in today’s market is green building, as home builders respond to an increasing demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendlier homes.

The focus is generally on energy conservation, the use of environmentally preferable products and materials, and making indoor environments healthier.

Green building offers many benefits. It can lower home energy bills; improve indoor air quality and comfort; reduce construction material costs; lower ongoing maintenance and operational costs; and reduce water usage.

Recent studies have shown that green homes are not significantly more expensive to build.

An environmentally friendly home will probably have:

1. Effective insulation – to ensure even temperatures throughout the home

2. Energy efficient windows – to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer and to protect furniture and flooring from the discoloring effects of the sun

3. Tight construction and ducts – to reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise and to improve indoor comfort and air quality

4. Efficient heating and cooling systems – to improve home comfort and use less energy

5. Efficient products – such as light fixtures and appliances with an energy-efficiency designation.

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood

Location, location, location — goes the saying about what’s important in real estate.

Most home buyers start by looking for a suitable area. The following tips will help you find a neighborhood that feels like home.

Priorities

Set priorities about things that matter most to you and your family:

· Is safety a prime concern?

· Are you looking for vibrant nightlife?

· Do you need to live close to work?


The best purchase is usually a trade-off among several desirable elements.

Factors

These factors will help to illuminate a neighborhood’s style:

· Are there good local schools? Whether or not you have children, good schools increase property values.

· Is the area close to services such as hospitals, public transportation, shopping, parks, and recreational and cultural sites?

· How safe is it? Check with local police, and look in the newspaper for crime-watch statistics.

· Are people outside their homes, working in their yards or walking their dogs? Neighbors who interact with one another create a safer and more pleasant environment.

· Is the area popular? Ask your Realtor, and check the number of “for sale” and “sold” signs.

· What is the neighborhood’s price range? Have average property values gone up, gone down or stayed the same? Areas about to become trendy are often found on the fringes of highly desirable locations.

Is there vacant space nearby? What kind of development is planned for it?

Guidance

Real estate agents are a valuable source of inside information about how to distinguish two neighborhoods that seem alike. Contact me for the latest information about neighborhoods.

Vital Ideas to Make Moving Home as Easy as Possible

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. So here’s a quick guide to make it as painless as possible.

Decide what not to pack

Now’s a good time to declutter your life by deciding which items you don’t want to take with you. Decide what you want to give away, throw away, or sell.

Get packing materials

If you’re not using a professional mover, you’ll need to get some packing materials. Bookstores often have strong boxes they don’t want anymore — call on the day of a delivery to ask for them.

Draw a floor plan — and use labels

Create a plan of your new home that you can use as a guide throughout the moving process. Label each of your boxes according to this plan. And clearly list what’s in each of the boxes.

What to pack first

Pack things you don’t need often first. Books, out-of-season clothes, and memorabilia make good candidates to go into boxes right away.

Pack “essentials” boxes

Mark some boxes as “essentials” and put in them the things you need on your first night in your new home. Then you won’t waste time (and valuable energy) trying to find important things.

Food…and plants

Food, particularly from the freezer, isn’t easily stored, so try to use it up. Put plants in big plastic bags to avoid dirt spilling.

How to Use Paint to Make Your House More Saleable

One of the easiest ways to freshen up your home is with paint. If you’re selling, painting your interior walls can give a great return on investment — a much higher selling price for little investment on your part.

If you’ve just bought a home, giving your house a new paint job is the quickest way to make it feel yours.

Repair blemishes

If you’ve got cracked or peeling paint, you’ll certainly want to repaint before you put your house on the market. Tired paint makes buyers think the house hasn’t been well maintained.

Tone down your color scheme

While the colors in your home might appeal to you personally, it’s important if you are selling your home that they appeal to the widest market possible. So that means avoiding bright, unusual colors and changing colors that were fashionable a few years ago but now look dated.

The safest bet is neutral tones. Avoid white in most situations, as this color can look clinical, and instead choose beiges and earth tones. Don’t feel the need to use the same color throughout — choose shades that match with your furniture and fabrics.

Types of paint

If you have imperfections in your walls, choose a paint with a flat finish, as this will conceal them.

Make sure you use washable paints in bathrooms and kitchens — an interior flat enamel is good for this.

How to Turn Your Patio Into an Outdoor Room

Whether you are thinking of moving to a new home or just want to improve your living environment, there are many things you can do to turn a drab patio or deck into another room.

If you are putting your house on the market, turning this space into another room will help visitors see the potential of your house.

The key is to make your outdoor room look as inviting as possible. So think about it just as you would any other room in your house.

This means you should invest in furniture that will give a feeling of luxury, turning your patio into a place of relaxation. Group your furniture, just as you would indoors. Invest in comfortable furniture, such as a chaise lounge.

Colors and materials

Try to complement the décor inside your house by using similar colors and materials. If, for example, you have a wooden floor inside, try to make it look as if the floor extends outside by using similar materials. Use your choice of furniture to pick up colors you’ve used inside and bring them outside.

Lighting

There are many low-cost options for lighting outdoors, such as battery-operated lights or torches. Then you’ll be able to extend the use of your outdoor room into the night.

Clean it up

Scrub the paving, perhaps using a power washer, and scrub the decking to make it look like new again.

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal

Most buyers make up their minds about your house in the first 30 seconds after pulling up outside. So it’s vital you make the outside of your home as attractive as possible if you want to get the best price you can. After all, a neat and tidy, well-cared for home will beat a rundown, shabby house any day. Here are some easy tips.

Mow the lawns and keep the flower beds neat: This will give buyers the impression they can move in right away without maintenance headaches.

Add colorful flowers: Invest in some planter plots and fill them with beautiful blooms to give extra impact to your home’s entrance.

The front door: Make sure it’s freshly painted to look bright and inviting. Polish the doorknob and street numerals, too.

Screen unsightly areas: Lattice or bamboo screens are available cheaply and will block any ugly vistas.

Move the toys: While it’s OK to have a child’s bike outside in a family-friendly area, remove any toys strewn over the yard.

Get that manicured look: Add mulch or compost around flowerbeds to make your garden and plants look cared for and healthy.

Keep it clean: Use a power-washer to give your walkways a clean, fresh look.

Essential repairs: Make sure there are no loose shingles or guttering.

How to Conquer Messy, Cluttered Closets

One of the things that can make our homes less enjoyable to live in is disorganized closet space. It’s quite depressing to look in your closets every morning and not be able to find what you need.

And if you are selling your house, having a cluttered closet will damage your chances of getting the best price, because people will view cluttered closets as a sign your house doesn’t have enough storage. So here are some tips to organize your closets.

Invest in a closet organizer

Imagine how you (and potential buyers) would feel to see your closets tidily organized! A closet organizer is probably the best way to achieve the look you are going for — and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.

You can buy ready-made units that fit into most closets. Most use a modular system that allows you to mix and match units and fit them together as you wish.

You can choose between units made of solid panels or wire systems. Alternatively, you can mix and match them both to meet your needs.

Closet organizers should include shelves for bulky items such as sweaters, drawers for smaller items, and rods for clothing that needs to be hung up. Consider also storage for shoes, such as a rack that hangs on the back of a door.

Getting it organized

When designing your system, make sure you consider things such as the length of the clothes that are to be hung, and how much space you need to devote to items such as sweaters. Consider which items you need to access easily on a daily basis and which can be stored out of reach.

This is also a good opportunity to go through all the items in your closet and get rid of those you don’t need — perhaps some things you didn’t even know you had!

A closet that isn’t packed with useless stuff is easier to keep organized and will keep your clothes from getting crushed.

Easy Ways to Give Your Bathroom a Fresh New Look

The bathroom might be one of the smallest rooms, but it’s one of the most important if you’re selling our home. Here are some quick tips to freshen up your bathroom to give yourself a space you enjoy relaxing in, whether you are moving or not.

Clutter: Bathrooms attract a lot of bottles and jars that create clutter. By putting them in a closet or throwing away those you haven’t used for a long time, you’ll immediately make your room look more spacious.

Fixtures and fittings: It’s not as expensive to replace bathroom fixtures, such as the toilet, as you think. Putting in more modern fixtures will immediately bring your bathroom up to date. The same goes for towel rails, mirrors and other hardware. Try replacing them with a matching set to unify the look of your bathroom.

Ceramic tiles: The caulking between tiles gets very dirty. Clean it – and you’ll immediately make your bathroom fresher.

Flooring: A big turn-off for many house-buyers is carpet in the bathroom. If you replace it with a more washable surface, you’ll have a much cleaner-looking room.

Towels and shower curtain: Replace your tiles with a new, fluffy matching set and keep an inviting pile waiting on a shelf or in a closet. And replace your shower curtain for a new one that matches the décor.

Paint: Freshen up the room by giving it a coat of light, neutral-colored paint.

7 Things that Will Stop Your House Selling

Poor curb appeal

Buyers won’t even go inside if the outside of the house looks unappealing. So clean up your front yard by tidying plants and pulling up weeds. Make sure the outside of your home looks well cared-for by painting the trim, mowing the lawn and placing attractive potted plants by the door.

Unpleasant odors

You may not even notice bad odors, but buyers surely will. Smoking and pets are the prime causes, so smoke outside while you are selling your house and consider what to do with your animals. Allow the house to air out thoroughly before viewings – don’t just try to mask the odor with another scent.

Loud and scary pets

Apart from the odor of some animals, a big dog or noisy bird can be off-putting to some buyers. So keep your dog away when you have viewings so your potential buyers aren’t distracted or, worse, scared.

Signs of damp

Problems with damp are a big turn-off to many buyers. Make sure your basement doesn’t smell damp and there are no signs of damp on the walls. It’s much better to fix problems now than wait until buyers point them out to you.

Dirt and grime

Although dirt is usually only cosmetic, it deters buyers, who will start to think the house isn’t well cared for. So make sure your kitchen and bathroom, in particular, are clean.

Bad décor

Although your home’s décor shouldn’t matter, to many buyers it does. That’s because many want a house they can move into right away. So replace any tired or out-of-date carpets or wallpapers with a more neutral, modern scheme.

Wrong price

If your house it too expensive compared to similar properties on the market, you’ll turn away viewers. So take your agent’s advice when it comes to setting a price for your home.

Quick Fixes for a Great-Looking Kitchen

Cabinet Doors

Damaged or dirty cabinet doors are a big turn-off for buyers. But that’s easy to fix. Most cabinetry can be re-painted after cleaning it and applying a coat of primer. Just check that the materials can take paint or whether you need to give any special preparation to the doors first. Alternatively, you can just replace the doors. There are companies that provide doors to fit existing kitchen cabinets.

Hardware

Another way to fix up cabinets is to replace the hardware, perhaps changing out-of-date fixtures for sleek, modern ones. This is a very cheap and easy way to update your kitchen.

Sinks and faucets

Try trading your faucets for more modern designs and replacing a damaged or very dirty sink.

Appliances

People love modern stainless steel appliances. It could be a good investment to upgrade your appliances to the most modern designs to give your kitchen the ‘wow’ factor.

Backsplash

An easy way to update your kitchen is to replace the backsplash. Subway or mosaic tiles or a sheet of stainless steel are very popular right now, and this quick change can really lift the feel of the room.

Flooring

Dairy, tired linoleum floors will turn off buyers. Try updating with tough laminate flooring or some tiles that tie into the rest of the kitchen.

Paint

Change the décor easily by repainting in fresh, modern, neutral colors. A coat of paint can be a very cheap way to refresh the look of your kitchen.

Clutter

Just by simply removing the clutter that accumulates on your countertops, you can freshen up your kitchen. Throw out things you don’t need; put away others you use only occasionally.

How to Use Lighting to Make Your Home More Attractive

If you plan to sell your home, you can make your interiors and exteriors shine by improving the lighting. Here’s how.

Drapes and shades: Natural light works best during the day. So make sure to open all drapes and shades to let in the sunlight.

Highlighting: Put emphasis on the room’s focal points, such as an alcove or artwork, by using lighting. Use task lighting in such spaces.

Exterior areas: The driveway and other such areas can be lit with the help of low-voltage string lights.

Doorway lamps: You can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your home by placing interesting lamps on your porch.

Security lights: Lighting placed around your house needs to be high up to ensure enough light is spread. Try using bright lights for the exteriors.

Shining out: Lighting which accentuates the interior of your home should also be visible from the outside. Use lighting to add a feeling of warmth and grace to a room before people even come into your house.

Mood and theme: If your home is chic and modern, try using a clean and simple lighting design. For more classic styles, use ornate lighting, such as chandeliers.

LED lighting usages: New to the market, LED lights work best for the kitchen, bathroom and other functional areas.