Get Your House and Yard Ready for the Summer

Summer has finally arrived. It is a good time to sit back and relax but also a good time to address a few maintenance items around your home. Take advantage of the warmth and sunshine by doing some sprucing up.

The best way to prepare for your home prep tasks is to visit your local hardware store and reap the benefits of the Father’s Day tool sales, possibly saving as much as 30% on package deals that will make your spruce-up jobs easier.

Start with cleaning the mold and dust off the siding of your home. To make sure your siding lasts for years and years, use a soft cloth or a soft-bristle brush with a long handle. A jet nozzle on your hose will help you be more efficient when you rinse.

Due to weather changes and general wear and tear, your asphalt driveway could be ready for a makeover. Since sealing asphalt is more successful in warmer weather, June is the perfect time to do the job. New asphalt sealer needs at least a 50-degree outside temperature to effectively seal your driveway.

Your deck is where you will spend many hours relaxing and entertaining. Give it a facelift with a fresh coat of paint or stain if it needs reviving. Early summer is best for this job because the deck surface temperature shouldn’t get above 90 degrees.

Please call or email me for other ideas to take advantage of the early summer warmth to help maintain your home and its value.

Here’s How to Host an Open House

While advertising, the MLS and social media are great tools to get your home sold, probably the best way to introduce your home to prospective buyers and their agents is to host an open house.

The expertise of your agent will be the key to the success of your open house. Let your agent help you with the setup of your home and scheduling the open house dates. As with everything, timing will be important. In order to maximize the traffic through your home, don’t plan an open house on holidays or during special events.

Your agent will be the greeter who will welcome prospective buyers. The agent’s experience will provide the tools to answer questions and show buyers the standout features of your home. Any buyer feedback will be communicated back to you.

Since a homeowner’s presence is a distraction at an open house, it will be best if you disappear for a few hours. This will allow buyers to speak freely and make their own judgements. Your agent is the best one to take prospects through your home and point out the details.

Your role in hosting your open house begins with getting your home sparkling clean. Eliminate clutter and organize your closets in preparation for inquisitive buyers. Stage your home by first removing family photos and personal items. Allow as much natural light to shine in as possible. Display some flowers, set the dining room table and determine what furniture needs to be removed or added. Since first impressions are so important, be sure to have your landscaping manicured.

As your agent, I regard open houses as one of the most valuable marketing tools if you are selling your home. Call or email me to discuss how to make the most of your open house.

4 Ways to Bring Tranquility into Your Home

Your home is more than just a place to hang your hat, eat and sleep. A home is a place of refuge where you should feel safe and accepted. It also can be your sanctuary, a place where you feel you belong. Here are four ways to bring tranquility into your home and make the most of it being your sanctuary.

1. Create that perfect spot to chill. Decorate a small space with bright wall coverings and add some furniture so you have a tranquil place to lie back, meditate or just listen to some relaxing music. Your escape could also be a tropical paradise on a patio filled with plants and a small waterfall.

2. Conquer the clutter that produces physical and emotional chaos. Construct attractive storage bins at your front door to keep things easily organized.

3. Lots of natural light will be the best contributor to adding tranquility to your home. It improves your mood, boosts productivity and also highlights your interior design details.

4. The location and exterior of your home can offer a place to decompress. A good walkable location offers more activities, like bike riding and walking to a park. A nicely landscaped yard will encourage you to go out and embrace the power of plants and the warmth of the sun.

I can help you escape the craziness of everyday living by suggesting ways to customize elements of your personal lifestyle so you can successfully bring tranquility into your home. Please give me a call.

How to Go About Pricing Your Home

When you are ready to sell your home, it is important to work with your real estate agent to arrive at a competitive listing price. You have an idea of what your home is worth, but it will be your agent who will help you objectively price your home. Depend on the expertise of a real estate professional to be able to research the market and be receptive to your input. Your team effort will result in a price that will sell your home.

An agent will start by finding recent sales that are comparable to your home in age, location, square footage, amenities and number of bedrooms and baths. Since no two homes are identical, the agent will make value adjustments to the features of the comparables (also known as comps) that differ from your home. An average selling price will then be taken from the newly adjusted comps to help determine the estimated value of your home. Similarly, active listings will contribute to how your home is priced.

Accurate pricing can’t take place without also factoring in market conditions. Take advantage of online data that breaks down sales by area. Median sales price and the average number of days for past sales will be valuable information when deciding on the final price tag for your home.

Pricing your home to sell in a reasonable amount of time in any market is my goal as your real estate agent. Call or email for an appointment so we can team up to get your home sold.

Here’s How to Refresh Your Home This Spring

Springtime should be an inspiring time for you. Inspiration can often give way to the desire to create a fresh look for your home. But busy schedules don’t always accommodate the traditional deep cleaning that everyone associates with springtime. If you find yourself short on time, here are ideas to freshen up elements of your home with some easy visual changes and tidying up.

Starting with your entry, your home’s first impression will improve by washing down the front porch and adding a new doormat. Decluttering the entry hall or mudroom of any remnants of winter by adding attractive storage bins is an easy way to freshen up the space you and your visitors first see.

Rotate some of your décor and use the addition of flowers and plants to any area of your home to give it that fresh springtime feeling. The change of the season is the time to create a new centerpiece for your table. This can be as simple as having a fruit bowl or houseplant be your new inspirational theme. Table clutter seems to disappear when you have an attractive centerpiece.

You will find that lightweight cleaning will brighten up the interior of your home and complement other suggested visual tweaks. Take some time to clean light bulbs, lamps and mirrors. Your mood will brighten up as the inside spaces of your home lighten up.

Give me a call, and I will help you create a plan so you can enjoy freshening up your home with other nonintimidating fine-tuning ideas.

15-Minute DIY Home Insulation Projects

Weather need not be your nemesis when it comes to efficiently heating your home. For a few minutes and a few dollars, here are some do-it-yourself home insulation projects that will improve the comfort of your home.

1. Some of the biggest sources of the loss of warm air are gaps around windows and doors. Weather stripping, rope caulk or foam tape can easily be put around windows or doors to prevent conditioned air from escaping.

2. Appliances and bathrooms that vent to the outside may have air leaks. A simple bead of caulk applied on the outside outer edge of the vent where it meets the wall prevents air loss.

3. Drafts coming from under a door can be quickly remedied by pushing a door snake along the opening under the door. In a pinch, save $20 and use a rolled-up blanket.

4. For an added layer of insulation, apply cold-blocking window film to your windows. You don’t lose any light, and you will reduce heat loss by about 10%.

5. Wrapping your pipes in fiberglass pipe sleeves will keep them from losing heat and aid in preventing burst pipes on extremely cold days. An additional result will be warmer water in your home.

6. An open fireplace can cause a big heating bill. Insert an inflatable fireplace plug into the opening when not in use to keep out cold air and keep warm air inside.

7. Adding an insulation blanket to an older water heater or one that is located in a cold drafty area will reduce the energy needed to heat water for your home.

Call or email me, and I can help you pinpoint where additional insulation will help reduce your energy usage, making your home more comfortable and saving you money at the same time.

Watch Out for These 5 Decluttering Myths

With spring around the corner, this is a good time to start planning to purge your home. To have your decluttering efforts be a success, you need to know that there is a wrong way and a right way to declutter your home. Check out these myths before you proceed to purge and organize.

1. You don’t need a plan of attack before proceeding with your organizing. To avoid being overwhelmed, have a checklist so you can manage the project at hand. Tackle one room at a time with a list of tasks for each room.

2. You only should keep things that make you happy. If you keep essential items and those that bring you joy, you can more easily differentiate between those things you should keep and those that you should discard.

3. Dwelling on what stays does not make for a successful declutter. It is better to take a few extra moments to think about what goes than to have regrets later. A good rule of thumb for a debatable item is that if you haven’t used it in a year, then it’s probably worthwhile to discard it.

4. Stock up on organizing supplies before you begin. When it comes down to it, these supplies don’t help you purge. Do your sorting and purging before you decide how to set up your storage.

5. Decluttering is a task that only needs to be done once or twice a year. In reality, minimizing your belongings should be done on a maintenance basis. After your initial purge, go through your home once a week to put things back where they belong and make decisions to get rid of things that no longer have a place in your life.

Call or email today for more resources and information to assist your decluttering efforts.

Don’t Make These 4 Foyer Faux-Pas When Decorating

The first space a visitor sees is your entryway. It creates the first impression of your home, so don’t allow a crowded and dark foyer to turn off your guests or prospective buyers. Why not take advantage of January being International Creativity Month to refocus your attention on creating an inviting entryway? Here are some design features that could take you in the wrong direction when trying to create an inviting foyer for your home.

1. Placing a side table that’s too large in your entry will eliminate the feeling of spaciousness. Living room furniture usually doesn’t work in the entry due to its size. Shop for smaller-proportioned furniture for this space.

2. Insufficient lighting or walls that are too dark are not good for first impressions. Lighting plays a big role in how inviting your entryway will be. Be sure you have lighting from the ceiling and bright walls and décor.

3. Having no place to sit to remove shoes is a common mistake. Consider an attractive bench that isn’t imposing.

4. Clutter isn’t a desirable thing to view in an entry. Use some imagination in creating a place to hang keys and stash your mail so they look like they belong.

Visitors and prospective buyers will form immediate opinions of your home by how you design your entryway. We have been in many homes and can share what design elements can complement your foyer. Call or email us today. We’re always here to help.

Homeowners Are Staying Longer in Their Homes

In recent years, the National Association of Realtors’ historical data has revealed that homeowners are staying in their homes an average of nine years, as compared to four to five years just 13 years ago. There are several reasons for this dramatic change.

When home prices took a big dive in the mid-2000s, many owners were forced to stay in place because of little to no equity in their homes. This pushed the five-year average tenancy up.

The length of homeownership among younger families, who typically relocate about every five years, has not caught up with older generations, who live considerably longer in their homes.

The size of homes has been increasing for the last 40 years, and in conjunction with that, family household sizes have been getting smaller. As a result, the need to keep moving up to larger homes has greatly diminished. Many find that after several years of owning the same home, their needs are still satisfied.

Today, some homeowners are not anxious to give up a comfortable loan balance with a good interest rate after having benefited from good appreciation and historically low interest rates. Staying where they are is more appealing. Other homeowners who may have an interest in selling may be dissuaded by the lack of supply of homes to buy and not being able to find a replacement residence.

Today’s credit standards are tighter, making qualifying for a mortgage more difficult for some of those who do wish to sell and buy another home. When homeowners are less likely to qualify for a new mortgage, they are more likely to have to stay where they are, contributing to the average length of homeownership in the market.

Many factors contribute to choosing to stay in a home or not. If you are considering buying or selling a home, call or email us today, and we can help you navigate each of them so you can make the decisions that are best for you.

4 Tips to Simplify Holiday Decorating … A Gift to Yourself

Decorating your house for the holidays is supposed to be fun, but sometimes the admin around it can become a chore. Here are four ideas to streamline and simplify your decorating this year.

Use decorations you can keep out beyond New Year’s. It can feel very laborious spending a day festooning your house knowing you’ll be taking them the decorations down again in a couple of weeks. How about replacing your felt Santas or Christmas baubles with less holiday-specific decorations, such as garlands of pine cones, acorns and evergreens that can stay for the whole winter season.

Bring in the flowers! Substituting flowers for the tinsel will not only give your house a beautiful facelift, it’ll also help you cut down on the clutter once the holidays are over. No more boxes filling the attic, just some stems to add to your compost.

Don’t put things out for the sake of it. Let’s be honest: some decorations are beautiful, while others can seem tacky, generic or a little boring. Don’t feel you have to put out as much as possible just because it’s what everyone else does. Only choose the things you truly love having around the place or things that you genuinely find beautiful.

Resist the urge to buy new decorations if you don’t truly need them. Chances are you already have plenty left over from previous years that will have been kept for a reason! Bring the festive spirit to the house by making use of what you already have.

6 Home Maintenance Myths You Should Know About

Proper home maintenance is an important part of home ownership. Being aware of the following myths about keeping up a home will help you avoid unexpected expenses in the future.

Solid-surface countertops are indestructible. Be nice to your countertops because they can easily be cosmetically damaged. Stone counters can be stained, and household cleaners will take away the luster over time. Direct heat from pots and pans can discolor countertops, and soft stones can be etched by acidic materials.

The test button on a smoke detector assures the detector is doing its job. The test button does not tell you if the smoke sensor is working, so always test it with smoke from a blown-out candle or match.

Short lawns mean less mowing. Keeping your lawn one to three inches long will allow it to retain more water while keeping it strong enough to withstand weeds and pests.

Energy is conserved if the AC is turned off when you leave. The reality is you will consume more energy if the AC has to work overtime to cool your home when it’s hot. Depending on the season, move the thermostat five degrees up or down when your home is vacant. Consider a programmable thermostat.

No gutter maintenance is needed with gutter guards. While guards are designed to keep out leaves, smaller debris such as seeds or pine straw can still get through. You will have less maintenance with a once- or twice-a-year moderate cleanout.

Permits for renovation aren’t necessary. Building codes and the permit process are in place to protect you by ensuring properly completed work. Insurance will better cover your losses if your work has been permitted.

Call or email us any time to go over these and other home maintenance myths so you can get even more enjoyment out of home ownership.

Should You Go with Fake Plants or Real Plants for Your Home?

Plants can help personalize a home and enhance the interior. Plants can also help sell a home. According to a survey by Costa Farms and Alloy Research, one third of plant owners feel that plants “make a house feel like a home and that they make any home seem more welcoming.” The question is: Fake plants or real plants? Here are some pointers to help you decide.

If you’re a frequent traveler, leaving live plants alone to fend for themselves may not be a good idea. Unless you have someone to check your home and to water and feed your plants in your absence, having live plants is probably not a good idea.

Consider your pets. Curious cats and dogs can destroy your natural indoor garden by nibbling on leaves or digging in the soil.

Whether your plants are real or fake, you’ll need to decide what level of maintenance you want to deal with. If you enjoy nurturing your plants with trimming, feeding and watering, then live plants will likely work for you. On the other hand, faux plants are dust collectors and require regular tedious cleaning.

If you have your home on the market and are having it staged, then fake plants may be the way to go. With the availability of a huge variety of faux plants, great marketing backdrops can be created. Staging is usually short-term, so these décor items seem to make the most sense. There are also companies that rent real plants for staging and will provide the required care.

When it comes to real or fake plants, call or email us, and we can help guide you in the right direction and provide you with supplier recommendations.

Give Your Home an Instant Makeover with These Low-Budget Ideas

If you feel like it’s time to freshen up your home, there are some simple no-cost makeovers you can do.

Before you add anything new, remove clutter and clean out closets. You may find something hidden away that can change the look of your décor. A deep cleaning will brighten up hard surfaces and light fixtures. Even a good vacuuming of your rugs will brighten your spaces (as well as your attitude).

Take any leftover paint from your garage and touch up scratches. See if any walls could “pop” by being painted with an accent color with the paint you have.

Simply rearranging furniture can create positive results in how you feel about your interior spaces. You might remove pieces to have a more spacious look. If you are rearranging furniture, then keep the momentum going and move your accessories around. It can be as easy as changing the look of your bookshelves by repositioning books and bringing décor from another room to fill the spaces. Moving your pictures and photos around will also freshen your look. Adding plants will bring new life and color to any room.

Your windows and lighting sources also provide ways to change your living spaces. Since light opens up space, consider how the window coverings are letting in light. Clean the windows and watch things brighten up. Moving lamps around can also enhance your interior.

Give us a call and we will help you take the guesswork out of what changes will make you feel better about your home.

5 Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Refresh Room Decor

We are enjoying the riot of color and life that is summer in all its glory. Why not let summer be your inspiration and breathe new life into your surroundings? Here are five simple and budget-friendly ways to get the décor ball rolling.

Pep up with paint. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in sprucing up your space. Perhaps there is an accent wall that could really use a pop of color, or maybe it is time to change the color scheme of a specific room. Either way, a can of paint, a roller and some old-fashioned elbow grease are all you need.

While you’ve got that paintbrush in your hand … Paint something that you don’t like. That may sound a little odd, but if you have grown a little tired of an old dresser or dining table, you could paint it to give it a new lease on life. Check out YouTube for a smorgasbord of helpful tutorials.

Find your light. You would be surprised just how much the lighting in your home can boost or reduce your mood. Swap out old fixtures or forgo harsh overhead lighting in favor of a smattering of flattering lamps. You could pick up a few bargains online.

Cultivate an indoor jungle. Plants are a great way to add some life to your surroundings. Beyond their aesthetic value, they also reduce toxins in the air and improve air quality. Peace lilies, aloe vera, ivy and rubber plants are all great examples of air-purifying flora that purify the air.

Unleash your inner artist. Make your wall a canvas and display some eye-catching art. It doesn’t need to break the bank. You could get painting yourself and create tailor-made pieces that fit in with your color scheme.

Make Your Life Easier with These 4 Smart Products

Smart home products that make you safer while adding value and functionality to your home will always be the favored upgrades. Check out these products that will also make your life easier.

1. At an average price of $200, WiFi-enabled video doorbells will keep you tuned in visually and audibly to the action on your front porch, all via your smartphone. You don’t even have to be home, and you have the benefit of seeing and speaking to whoever rings your bell. Video doorbells are easy to install and provide great security.

2. A great partner to the video doorbell is the smart door lock. Enter the digital world by having digital key codes for anyone you wish to be able to access your home. You can give temporary access with a smart lock and lock or unlock your door with your smartphone or voice.

3. As power grids expand and the number of households increases, so does the number of power outages. Generators for the home are becoming more popular, but not the portable ones that are noisy, need refueling and spew smelly gases. These generators look like HVAC units and run on natural gas or propane. They kick in automatically when the power goes out and are built into your home. An added incentive to have a smart generator is that it can be operated from your smartphone.

4. WiFi-enabled blinds that you can control with your voice or smartphone will help with heating and cooling costs. They also up your level of home security.

Take Care of Your Home with These Summer Maintenance Tips

Taking care of your home is one of the best things you can do to keep its value. Summer is the best time to detect issues that require maintenance to maintain the integrity of your home. There are some simple but important tips to help you take care of your investment.

Exterior cleaning can be your biggest asset. Start by power washing your siding and decks. It may expose surfaces that need protective coatings from the winter elements. Follow up your pressure washing with cleaning the outside of your windows to remove accumulated dirt and grime, making the windows more functional. While working on the exterior, thoroughly clean your gutters. Make sure that they drain properly so you don’t get pooling in the yard.

The summer months are a great time to get a garage door tune-up to make sure it is operating smoothly and seals out water and pests. If you see pests anywhere in or outside your home, hire an exterminator to eliminate these unwanted visitors.

Check your roof for damaged shingles and the eaves for water damage that can cause further issues to the interior of your home.

Your landscaping should properly direct water runoff around the exterior of your home. Replacing mulch or rocks that have washed away will help ensure that water drains away from the house.

Summer is a great time to do some interior painting. Protect your walls and take advantage of warmer temperatures for drying and odor control. Keeping up with today’s decorating trends by updating your home’s interior will help keep you prepared should you decide to sell.

This advice should keep things in top shape. Contact us by phone or email, and we would be happy to give you more advice on which maintenance tips best benefit your home. We are always here to help.

5 Tips for Negotiating an Offer for Your Dream House

When you have found your dream home, the goal is to create a purchase offer that the seller will accept. This can be hard to achieve when you don’t know a seller’s motivation or if you’re in a competitive market with multiple buyers. Here are some tips to help you negotiate.

1. Time is of the essence, so respond to a seller’s counter immediately. If you hesitate, another stronger offer may come in and nullify the seller’s counter to you.

2. Evaluate the comps that you have been given and reasonably increase your offering price to make it more attractive to the seller. Stay within the limits of your budget and loan preapproval.

3. If your original earnest money deposit is 1-2% of the sales price, consider raising it to 3-4% so the seller sees that you are serious.

4. Having as few contingencies as possible in your offer assures the seller that there are fewer ways you can withdraw from the sale. Market conditions and the level of risk that you want to take on will determine what contingencies you feel secure about waiving. Loan, home inspection and pest inspection contingencies have the most importance.

5. Keep any requested seller concessions to a minimum because they lower the seller’s net proceeds. Concessions can be closing cost credits or seller paid home warranty plans.

With our experience, we can assist in negotiating terms that a seller may accept. But when negotiations are no longer to your benefit, we will also let you know and advise you to move on. Your best interests are our first priority.

Know Your Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves to Avoid Overspending

Shopping for a home is an exciting adventure! With all the excitement, clear decision-making can become murky and lead to unexpected costs.

Coming back to the ABCs, your wants and needs will lead you to the right home at the right price that will give you the best life with functional room for growth. The key: you don’t have to have “everything” to “have it all.” Here’s an exercise to keep you aligned with your goals prior to the journey ahead.

Create your list. Take time to get clear with yourself about this big decision. Make a list of everything you could possibly want in your home. Big or small. Long or short. If coupled, your counterpart is included in this exercise.

Order of importance. Next, force yourself to rate each of these facets on your list in numerical order. Ideally, limit these to your top 10.

Divvy it up. There are two types of items on your current list: those that are “heavyweights” and those that are aesthetic. Keep reading for more.

Heavyweights. Anything that includes number of bedrooms, windows, “open floor plan,” “dedicated space for …” and the like are the staples that can’t change without a major investment. These are the items that take priority in your search for a home to avoid costly renovations.

Aesthetic. Subway tile, shiplap, paint colors, lighting … these things can be easily upgraded or changed to suit your style (or even DIYed). Remove these items entirely from your list(s).

Prisoner’s dilemma. This might sound harsh, but it’s the last and final step in getting very clear with your wants and needs moving forward. What can you absolutely not live without? And on the same note, what aspects of your new home will help you thrive best? We know it’s hard, but do another forced reranking of these “must-haves.”

Trust your list. Excellent job! You’ve done the prep work. Now, remember to trust yourselves. Share this list with us so we can better assist you in finding your perfect match. As long as you’ve honestly invested yourself in this exercise, you’ll know exactly when you’ve met “the one.”

6 Ways to Turn Your Backyard into a Summer Oasis

At last! Summertime is around the corner, and you can make the most of it by enhancing your outdoor living spaces. With a little thought and planning, you can create your own personal backyard oasis. Here are some ideas.

1. If you don’t have a deck or patio, build one. Not only does this addition give you a great place for gatherings and grilling, in Remodeling Magazine‘s Cost vs. Value report, the statistics show that such an improvement yields a return on your investment of more than 75 percent.

2. Creating attractive privacy screens can easily be accomplished by incorporating fences, trellises and shrubbery around your outdoor deck or patio.

3. Pests can ruin a great time outdoors, so use preventive measures such as citronella candles and employ a pest control company that can spray your yard for unwanted crawling and flying insects.

4. Create a living space with comfortable outdoor furniture for lounging and dining. Be sure to include area rugs for color and for defining spaces.

5. Well-placed lighting will extend your outdoor experience well into the evening and create a great mood. Tiki torches, string lights and landscape lighting all contribute to the ambiance.

6. Keep it fun and include a fire pit, hot tub or game set for the kids.

Creating the perfect summer oasis will add value to your home and attract more buyers. When you start planning your project, contact us if you would like our professional input. We are here to assist you in the decision-making.

Increase Your Home’s Value, Save Money and the Planet with This

With Earth Day being celebrated on April 22 for the 51st time, protecting our one and only planet is on our minds. What can increase the value of your home, save you money and save the planet? The answer is a simple one: improving energy efficiency. And there’s more good news: special clean energy financing may be available to make it easier to pay for energy efficiency upgrades.

A good place to start is to replace older high-energy-using systems (HVAC) with newer, more efficient ones. If your heating and/or cooling appliances are more than 15 years old, consider replacing them. Your monthly heating and cooling bills will be lower in addition to your home reducing its use of the planet’s energy reserves.

Adding an extra layer of insulation in your attic is a moderate cost that can easily be recouped in a few years through your energy savings. Upgrading windows and doors will better seal in the heating and cooling and contribute greatly to the overall value of your home.

Circulating the air will help reduce your heating and cooling costs. The addition of ceiling fans will accomplish this and, for pennies a day, save a lot of energy usage.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures and upgraded water heaters will contribute to stabilizing water sources for everyone and reduce your monthly water bills.

One-third of a home’s electric consumption comes from lighting alone. Switching to LED bulbs, putting up new energy-efficient light fixtures and installing larger windows for more light will save on monthly bills and add to the value of your home. Energy Star-rated appliances for your kitchen will also contribute to energy conservation.

Whether you’re considering improving the energy efficiency of your home for the planet, to save money or to increase your home’s value, reach out to our office so you can get the best information in determining which innovations make the most sense for your market.