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Easy Fixes to Help Sell Your Home

You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to freshen up your home in order to sell it. There are some easy fixes that can make a world of difference.

  • Check out your curb appeal. Check your gutters to ensure they’re not clogged or loose, mow the yard, trim shrubs, inspect your shutters, & power wash your driveway and/or house if needed
  • Check out your doors; if you need to replace it, then do. You can also replace just hinges and knobs if that’s the better option. Make your front door look extra attractive for a great first impression to potential buyers.
  • Give your house a nice scent on the inside
  • Spot clean/treat anything wrong with your walls, moldings, windowsills, etc.
  • Add fresh paint and/or repaint your trim
  • Check the quality of your floors; your rugs, carpets, & hardwoods
  • Organize everything- your closets, rooms, etc.; anything the buyers will see
  • Improve your window treatments; get rid of dust, stains, etc., or replace them
  • Check your drawer tracks, because you don’t want lopsided drawers
  • Shine your appliances
  • Refinish cabinets; kitchen remodels are very expensive
  • Update your hardware & light fixtures to something classic, yet attractive that pairs well with the rest of the room
  • Install ceiling fans or change them if they’re old
  • Add crown moldings
  • Install hardwoods in your living room
  • OR restore hardwood floors
  • Re-tile your bathroom floors; this has great return on investment
  • Change out your shower curtain to something literally and aesthetically fresh  sell sell sell 
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Why Zillow “Zestimates” Are Inaccurate

If you have searched for houses on the internet in recent years, you have probably come across Zillow’s “Zestimate” tool. The “Zestimate” is an automated approximation of a home’s value. Many buyers and sellers have begun to view this tool as a great way to determine a property’s value, but how much should you rely on Zestimates to determine the value of your home?

The “Zestimate” tool uses sales data from tax records and Multiple Listing Services to determine an average value for each property. It finds homes priced similarly to yours, pulls the price per square foot information from the tax records, and then multiplies that price with your house’s tax records.

The negative thing about this algorithm is that tax records are commonly innacurate. If you’ve made home additions that weren’t permitted by the county, the added value of these won’t be taken into account in the tax record. The algorithm doesn’t “know” of any upgrades you’ve made in your house either. Those things you’ve spent your valuable time and money on are factors that you probably want to be considered into your home’s deserved price. Another thing Zestimates do not account for is the distribution of the square footage in your home in relation to its layout; some buyers would be willing to pay more for a ranch home than a two-story. Last, the location of your home is another factor that doesn’t get factored into the Zestimate; some cities are growing rapidly, and the housing prices rise or fall in accordance to this.

Even though Zillow’s Zestimates are handy to give the general (uninformed) public a basic ball-park figure for their house, they do not account for other important factors that would affect its true price. A Realtor is truly your best resource for comparative and knowledgeable home pricing. They know exactly how the housing market, area, home layout, additions, upgrades, and everything else would impact your home’s best price and its sale. After all, it is their job!

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What to Remember When You List Your Home

The decision to list your home is already hard, but then you have to worry about all the other things that come with that decision. But don’t fret-we’re here to help you with this.

  • Probably the single most important thing to remember when you list is to find a good, qualified realtor (and we’re not just saying that because we’re biased!) Your realtor can help you with the whole home-selling process, from real estate jargon to technical legal aspects.
  • Fix up your home. Make sure the standard of your curb appeal is up to par. Walk through your home with a new perspective for things that you see every day, but might not actually realize need repairing or fixing up. Inspect the tiny yet important details, like the door and window frames, floors, and everything else. Take into account the age of your big items, such as your air conditioning unit, your roof, gutters, water heater, etc. Pull your records. Hire a home inspector to walk through and let you know what needs repairing so that you won’t be surprised later on. If you decide to renovate or repair yet have a limited budget when you list, decide what you will get the biggest return on investment for, and what buyers will be most geared towards.
  • Look at the comps for your area. Sure, you might love that outdoor fireplace you lovingly placed on your back patio, but for buyers it may not be worth that extra money. Yes, you lived in your home and created memories there, but stay objective about what your home is really worth. Pricing your home too high compared to the surrounding homes may be a pitfall; buyers won’t want to pay a lot more for your house compared to what the neighbors’ homes are worth. Be reasonable, and don’t price based off of emotion. Your agent can help you out a lot with the adequate pricing of your home. They are the expert, after all.
  • Clean your home. give it a good deep clean before it starts being shown, and also remember to put away all your clutter. And make sure it stays this way, because you will get unexpected drop-by showings at some point at least. Stage it as well, either by yourself or by a professional staging company.
  • Account for some unexpected costs. Minor renovations, closing costs, staging costs, etc. might arise, so prepare yourself mentally and financially.
  • Don’t assume anything. Not everyone is going to love that same blue paint that you adore. Just because you originally fell in love with your house the minute you saw it doesn’t mean that everyone else will too. Also, don’t set up any expectation of the time frame your home will sell in- it might fly off the market, or it may take a bit of time.
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How to Create a Great Home Office

Working from home is pretty awesome, but sometimes it’s so awesome that it’s a distraction. Here are some tips to create a home office conducive to working.

  • Try and find a space to set up in that doesn’t make you think of other, non-related things; if your bedroom only makes you think about sleeping, then you might want a more neutral space to work from. If you have a TV in your space that you know is going to distract you, then take the initiative and either move the TV, or move to a different location. Take into account the direction you’ll be facing, and what will be in your line of vision from where you sit. Keep that psychological boundary between where you work and where you live otherwise.
  • Be comfortable. Find a chair with good support and that’s a good size for you. You don’t want to feel the urge to get up and walk around ten times an hour simply because of discomfort.
  • Make sure your lighting is good. Whatever light you work best in, whether it be natural, yellow, fluorescent, etc., invest in the appropriate lamp/s based on your preference.
  • Stay organized. Studies have shown that a cleaner, more organized work space allows you to be more productive. Do whatever you need to do to work more efficiently: get rid of things, move them to a different location, or organize them in containers. Keep an effective filing system, and a place for each thing you’ll need and use (don’t forget about your desk drawers!) Don’t hesitate to buy some more shelves, cabinets, dividers, etc.
  • Keep a calendar, planner, stick notes around, etc. Anything to help you organize your schedule, your work, and your life.
  • Wrangle and organize your electronics. Chances are, you’ll be using at least one at all times. Charging stations are great for keeping them all in their designated places. If you are the type to get distracted by technology, then be sure and keep the station out of your range of eyesight.
  • Keep positive vibes. Whatever drags you out of the work doldrums: pictures, quote plaques, decorations, plants, etc.  home office home office 
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Better Ways to Organize Your House

Keeping everything you own in order can be hard work. Luckily, there are some tricks out there that can help you organize better.

  • Charging station: Keep and charge all your small electronics in one place, so you won’t have to keep running to different outlets.
  • Vacuum-seal food: You’ll be surprised at how much extra space plastic bags and containers take up when you store your food. Invest in a vacuum sealer, especially if you keep a lot of things in your freezer.
  • Slim bins: You can store cereals, pastas, pet food, etc. and it saves more space than having lots of clunky boxes laying around.
  • Hangers: You can buy those descending chip hooks they have in stores, as well as hanging chips with the clothes hangers that clip.
  • Labeling food: Label your spice tops, and put them in a spice rack that holds them horizontally so that you can find them much easier. Also label your food containers like flour and sugar to make them look good, and to better tell them apart from others. Also label baskets and containers holding food as well.
  • Bake ware organizers: The vertical wire file dividers used in offices can benefit your kitchen as well. Find ones that are wide enough to organize your pans and other bake ware.
  • Towel bars: Install these if you need extra room to hang your pots and pans, using shower curtain hooks.
  • Peg boards: Put one in your pantry for even more storage for pots.
  • Lazy susan: These are great in cabinets and pantries that have a limited amount of space. Never dig through the many layers of your pantry again.
  • Magazine holders: Keep your cans stacked horizontally in these to save space and to keep them all in one location. you can attach them to the insides of cabinet doors as well to store aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc.
  • Magazine/cookbook holder: You can install these easily in your kitchen or living room to keep your reading material corralled in one place. Attach them the sides of counters, tables, or kitchen islands.
  • Makeup/Cosmetics/Craft organizer: You probably have a lot of makeup and bathroom/body products you’ve acquired over the years. There’s a better way to keep them than by having them just sitting around, taking up space. You can find many varieties of boxes with drawers to keep all of these in. Read below.
  • Clear containers: For anything you have a lot of, and for food like flour and sugar. These let you see what’s in them so you don’t have to open up every organizer you have to find what you need. Plus, the lucite trend is currently underway.
  • Rolling carts: Even if they’re small, these babies definitely are helpful to have. You can use them in the dining room for drinks, the bathroom to hold products, a craft room, etc.
  • Paper towel holder: Reconfigure metal (or really any kind of) paper towel holders to hold bracelets and necklaces. It’s any easy way to organize your jewelry so you won’t have to dig around for it.
  • Push pins: Use these to hang and organize necklaces.
  • Shower caddy: These are versatile for holding things in places besides the shower. Fresh produce, spices, electronics, etc. The possibilities are endless.
  • Shoe caddy/hanging rack: These can come in handy in your kitchen pantry, in your bathroom closet, and your clothes closet.
  • Binder clips: These come in handy for keeping cords coiled and together. You can also hang food in your freezer by clipping bags to the shelves with these.
  • Tables with storage: Your coffee tables, end tables, etc. are all even better when they have storage capabilities included.
  • Key holder: Creating a small cabinet for your keys can work for your best interests. You can even just install a few small hooks by the entry of your house if you don’t want to make a new cabinet.
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Home Decorating Trends for 2016

While some things remain classics, it’s sometimes nice to get some fresh takes on them. Here are some projected home decorating trends for 2016.

  • Black stainless steel: Fingerprint-proof and more aesthetic than its silver predecessor, as it remains part of the background more; plays more into the minimalist ideal.
  • Formal Dining Rooms: Great for hosting, and great for spending quality time with your family over a meal.
  • Mismatched Cabinets: We’re not talking about having all different kinds, but rather two that pair well together.
  • Heated Entryway Floors: Okay sure, we know most people aren’t going to fork out the big bucks for these. However, the people who can, and will, are going to be installing more of these this year in their homes.
  • Minimalist-Looking, Sleek Kitchen Appliances: People are finally ready for appliances that don’t just work with them, but with their kitchen too.
  • Uniquely Beautiful Tiles/Backsplash: Tiling and backsplashes have been increasingly used as a channel of self expression in home decor. With more options than ever, creating or changing a backsplash is a cheap yet advantageous home project.
  • Golden accents: Copper, rose gold, & brass are becoming the new “it” metals for home decor, including kitchen ware and appliances.
  • Scandinavian-Inspired Decor: The Scandinavian look is usually minimalist and somewhat “unfinished”, with whites, creams, and pops of neutral colors including black. It has some industrial elements, but also some natural/earthy ones mixed in.
  • Hidden Wires: There are more products that group and mask your wires than ever. There are also many DIYs for this same purpose all over the internet.
  • Shades of Gray: Maybe not as many as 50, but gray has definitely been en vogue lately, and probably will continue to be.
  • Statement Bathroom Mirrors: This gives you the chance to personalize your home even more, and to get rid of that generic mirror that comes with every other house.
  • Statement Light “Pendants”: They can complement a room very well, and take a theme or aesthetic even further.
  • Graphic Throw Pillows: They allow your personality to shine through, and for you to customize your decor even more to your taste.
  • Woven & Unique Textiles
  • Space-Saving: Clever storage, and hacks that let you save space where you never dreamed of before are the new “it” way to go. home decorating home decorating 
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How to Create a Calm Bedroom

Your bedroom is your retreat at the end of the day; a place of rest that you’ll spend around 8 hours a day in. The sole purpose of the room is for sleeping, so wouldn’t you rather have a soothing atmosphere in yours? Here are some ways to create a calm bedroom.

  • Colors: The colors used to decorate your room (especially paint colors) are perhaps one of the most important parts. Experts are saying pale whites, blues, and grays are the best at putting even the most hectic mind at ease. Stick to neutral and muted colors, and skip the passionate reds.
  • Lighting: What do you think of when you picture a relaxing space? Probably not harsh overhead lighting. Soft lighting is key, and lighting from more than one source, such as a desk lamp and a floor lamp, are great at setting a relaxed vibe.
  • Windows: The level of light you desire to let into your room is your choice; some people might need heavier curtains than others to create their calm bedroom.
  • Nightstand: You’ll most likely be more at ease when you are able to easily reach over and pick up your water, book, or phone.
  • A good mattress: probably the most important part of your relaxation and sleep.
  • Your headboard or bed frame: this comes down to a matter of preference. If you’ll be sitting up in bed, maybe an upholstered or quilted/tufted headboard will better. If you like complete darkness, maybe a four-poster bed with a canopy will be just in your taste.
  • Rugs: Fuzzy, furry, and plush rugs are a dream to walk on, that’s for sure. Wouldn’t it be nice to take your first step out of bed onto something that feels like a cloud?
  • Bedding and pillows: of course this is personal preference as well, but there’s no denying that the color palette of these has a say in your level of relaxation. Soft and breathable sheets and comforters, and plush pillows that support your neck and head well are key to perfect bliss.
  • Seats and Furniture: If you like to lounge around whilst reading a book, you may desire a window seat, couch, or armchair in your calm bedroom.
  • Designated pet area: You may feel a little guilty at first for kicking your furry companion out of bed, but your sleep will probably thank you for it. They’ll probably be just as happy in a cute bed of their own.
  • Any electronics: No TV may be your best way to go, or maybe a white noise machine or speakers for playing Enya. Whatever creates an atmosphere best conducive for sleep is the best thing for you.

 

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Where to Watch Out for Mold Growth in Your Home

Mold can be a dangerous thing- for the health of your home, but more importantly, for your family. It’s discrete, and lurks in some unsuspected places.

  • Refrigerator Drip Pans: Spills, leaks, & moisture create the perfect environment for mold to grow in
  • Under carpet & on carpet pad: Especially if those may have become wet at any time, or have had pet waste or dirt on them.
  • Wallpaper: You might not know if there’s mold behind it until after you start to remove it. If it’s older and/or peeling, the chances are even higher.
  • Dishes: Even if dishes are still a bit moist when you put them away, they have the opportunity to grow mold on them; especially if you don’t use them often.
  • Around windows that leak (sills, seals, & sashes) or wallboard: Condensation from rain is prevalent right around windows.
  • Air conditioners & units: These trap spores, dust, pollen, and dirt, and when combined with moisture, it’s simply a recipe for mold.
  • Basements that have been flooded: Basements have a way of being the perfect place to grow mold: they’re dark, damp, and usually a cooler temperature. They trap in moisture as well.
  • Chimneys: Especially if the chimney hasn’t been cleaned recently or shut fully
  • Behind walls that contain plumbing
  • Front-loading washing machines: The gasket in the door stays wet because the door is typically shut when it’s not in use.
  • Underneath sinks: Especially if there is any possibility of moisture from leaks.
  • Stacks of newspapers or boxes
  • Attic: If you see any leaks in your ceiling below the attic, the leak is most likely coming from the attic.
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Household Cleaning Tips

Regardless of your planned New Year’s resolutions, we can all agree that household cleaning is something we can all put on our to-do lists.

  • Laundry dryer sheets: wipe your baseboards with them to get rid of dust and also leave a fresh scent around your home. Soak a sheet in water overnight and use it to get stubborn food residue of dishes and pots. Clean off your soap residue with them as well.
  • Removing smells: Having a bowl full of vinegar-soaked cotton balls laying around gets rid of cooking smells. Baking soda gets rid of odors in your fridge. Open containers of coffee grounds and/or bay leaves will freshen up your shelves.  Ice cubes made of vinegar and/or lemons will revive your garbage disposal and sharpen the blades too. Closets can be freshened by having either a piece of charcoal or green tea wrapped in gauze in them.
  • Use white vinegar: to clean off hard water buildup, faucets, and inside the refrigerator. Also use in an empty dishwasher cycle to clean all the leftover residue out of it. You can sanitize your toothbrushes by soaking them in it too. Clean blinds by mixing an equal part with water, and rub the blinds with a sock soaked in this mixture.
  • Hose off your air conditioning unit. This will allow it to work better inside your house.
  • Line the bottom of your trashcans with newspaper to absorb smells and residues.
  • Aluminum foil: get stubborn food residue off of dishes with a ball of foil and some dishwashing detergent. Also, put some down on your counters before you peel produce, fish, etc. 
  • Baking soda: clean your silver with it, and also unclog drains with a mixture of it with vinegar. Also, use with a sponge to gets scuffs out of vinyl flooring. 
  • Rubber: pick up pet hair from furniture with damp rubber gloves, or with a squeegee from your carpet
  • Sliced lemons: rub on your cutting boards to remove stains. Also, microwave squeezed-out lemon juice and water in a bowl, which will loosen hardened food so that you can wipe it right off. Use a mixture of baking powder and lemon juice to get off mold and mildew. You can get rust off your silverware by soaking it in lemon juice as well. Last, use it to clean off hard water buildup.
  • Microwave damp sponges for 2-3 minutes to sanitize them.  household cleaning household cleaning household cleaning
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Do’s and Don’ts of Decorating

When you’re decorating a space, you probably know there are certain things that can make a room less appealing than others. Here are some easy do’s and don’ts to keep in mind during the decorating process.

Do:

  • Have a trunk or ottoman that doubles as a nightstand or end-table
  • Use the space on or in your coffee/end table to your advantage by placing baskets or organizers there
  • Use trays to better group and organize your items
  • Add in baskets and shelves that look good and are functional
  • Have some sort of texture, including pillows, rugs, throws, etc.
  • Include neutral or muted colors alongside pattern/s
  • Include different types and sources of lighting

Don’t:

  • Have TOO many throw pillows
  • Have too many objects and decorations that take up all the space
  • Too many things filling up your bookshelves
  • Too many prints and patterns in one area
  • Too many seats or sofas that aren’t even comfortable
  • Paint rooms in loud colors
  • Have white walls or floors if you have kids and/or pets
  • Make every single thing in the room symmetrical in shape or in arrangement
  • Ignore the scale size of the furniture vs. the room
  • Scatter knick-knacks all around the room