Stage the Scene

One of the most important items to check off the list when selling a home is to stage the home. Not many people realize this or would even know how or where to start. You want the buyer to see the home as you once saw it. Somewhere they can hang their hat and relax on the couch with Netflix after work. A place in which they can host dinner parties and drink wine with old friends. Professional stagers can get expensive and add extra costs to an already large project. These are some DIY tips for doing it without dipping into the funds too much.


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The goal is to give the buyer an idea of what the home would look like if it were theirs and not yours. Pack away all personal items and store them. The upside to this is that it gives you a chance to begin packing and stage the house. Two birds, one stone. Family photos and pet products can make it distracting to the potential buyer so they won’t be able to imagine living there. Clear any clutter from the counters as well as children’s toys. Decluttering the home increases the buyer’s interest because they aren’t focused on your interests. Orderly stack your boxes in a corner of the garage to minimalize clutter and unsightliness. This is an extremely cheap way to stage your home without extra effort or costs.


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If the home hasn’t had a good clean paint job in years then its time to break out the can and brush. This will give a new feel to your walls and also create a new home smell. Go with a neutral color like white, off white, or beige. It sounds outdated but it is actually sound advice. Not everybody will enjoy your guacamole colored bathroom as much as you did.


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Clean the house. I know, I know. You lead a busy life so it is hard to keep it pristine. The fact is buyers don’t want to smell little Billy’s stinky baseball cleats or your precious Taffy cat’s litter box. Get rid of any potentially off putting odors. Temporarily hide or put outside the litter box and spray some Febreeze. Even better bake cookies or place some cloves and cinnamon sticks in a crock-pot with water. Either have the house professionally cleaned or take a day off to really get down and dirty. That includes carpets, baseboards, and ceiling fans. Then when you think you’re done, do it again.

Now that you are a semi-professional home stager, you can charge your friends to stage theirs while selling your own. Best of buyers to you.

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Benefits of Buying

Renting is overrated. The money is being thrown into the wind while your landlord is rolling in your hard earned cash and paying off their mortgage while telling you they’ll get to that leak under the sink “soon.” I remember renting one year when I didn’t even see the landlord. I couldn’t tell you what they looked like. My dishwasher was broken and the maintenance man told us to not use our health hazard heater because it was outdated. Needless to say it was a cold winter and we moved out of there quickly as possible. Does this sound like a familiar situation? Then you may be ready to sail into the sea of ownership where you are the Captain and that ship is under your control.

Buying a home comes with certain freedoms. One of those freedoms is not having a landlord. You are able to paint, hang wall art, and landscape as you please without the risk of not getting a deposit back. There are no noise restrictions, pet deposits, or remodeling. Butters, the hound, can run and be free in his house without his human worrying about what the landlord will say about his accident on the carpet. Renting stifles this ability to truly make a space your own. A home is yours to customize into a beautiful space that mirrors your personality with no guilt.


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Taxes are a big stressor. Who doesn’t want a little relief when April comes around? Homeowners are offered several tax breaks. Some of those include Mortgage Interest, Tax and Penalty Free IRA, Home Improvements, Energy Credits, Home Equity Loans, and Real Estate Taxes. There is even a Home Office credit if you work from home. So many deductions, so little stress.

A homeowner’s net worth is 45 times that of an average renter. While rent is never recovered, mortgage payments build equity. It is an investment in the future by increasing an individual’s net worth. Not to mention it is cheaper to buy than rent. The average mortgage is lower than a rental payment and over time the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases therefore the interest that you pay will be lower than a rental cost.


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Having a home in a neighborhood provides a sense of community. You know your neighbors. You know where your children will grow up and go to school. You know that you can walk your dog every night with a peace of mind. One doesn’t always get that when renting because you never know when the rent may be raised depending on your lease. You may not even be able to renew your lease when the time comes. Community is a sense of stability and security.

Free yourself of the waves of rent, buy your dream boat.

 


Come to our First Time Home Buyers Workshop if you would like to learn more on August 26th:

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Small Home Updates that Make Big Changes

Many people want to add a little pizzazz to their homes but don’t know where to start. Whether it be to prepare to sell or for the owners personal appeal, these small updates can turn around an entire vibe to make a house a home.


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Never underestimate the power of a can of paint. One can completely revitalize a room. If you still have that pea green wall color that your friends complimented you on in the 1970’s then it may be time to change up your style. Fashions change and our tastes change with them. If you are selling then choose a neutral color even if they all look the same to you and are only slight variations of “baguette” or “camel.” If you just want to spice up your life then choose a hue that shows your personality.


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Replace old hardware on cabinets and drawers. I remember when my mother inherited our grandparents’ house. I had never really thought much of the handles to cabinets. My mother changed them because I am pretty sure they were the originals from 1955 when my grandparents bought the house. I immediately noticed the change even though I had never given them thought before. All her family members commented on them as well. It was such a little thing that made a large impression. Along with hardware, light fixtures and faucets are the next items that can really date a room. Replacing these with a more sleek look will instantly modernize the space.


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Give the outside love. The inside of a home is important, but the outside can be just as inviting or uninviting. Simple ways to add curb appeal is to add a small flowerbed around that tree in your front yard. You can paint your rusty mailbox to a nice warm tone. Of course, don’t forget to mow and edge the lawn. It is an easy and cheap fix to spruce up the yard. Placing flower pots around the porch and a few decorations can really increase the visual appeal and make you want to come home after a long day to sit on your relaxing porch.

 

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Making Back-to-School Rule

Going back to school is always a trip on the struggle bus. This year it’s time to reclaim your “Parent of the Year” status with some organizational techniques that may keep those wheels going round and round more smoothly. Even in the midst of morning madness these helpful hacks will be sure to keep your family on the right track back to school.


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We all know that feeling wrestling a child into clothing or having them dress themselves. Whether it’s your child, little brother, babysitting Sally Screamer down the street, it is a long drawn out fiasco. Then you have to tempt them with corn dogs and pudding snacks to comply. The least we can do is make sure an outfit is completely put together before the battle goes down. Get a small five shelved stand or bookcase and simply place and entire outfit from hair ties to a set of shoes on each shelf in accordance with each school day. This will save you so much time searching for tiny socks that match when you could be making your mid-morning margarita. Then you don’t have to worry about if the laundry is done because you know at least the kid has clean clothes for the entire week.


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Lunches can be a pain to make in the morning. Especially with attempting to make breakfast and make sure everyone is getting ready in time. In order to save a little time, create a lunch organizer in your pantry or fridge. This can be separate sections of fruit cups, cheese sticks, pudding snacks, chips, prepped popcorn or snack bags, and bite-sized veggies that you can grab and throw into a lunch box to complete a well-balanced meal. Less mess, less stress.


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Print or write your own backpack checklist. Kids will have fun checking off their new school supplies. In the evenings, have each child go through a backpack checklist to make sure they have all their necessities for success. Select a specific place for all backpacks to set so they are all together and ready to grab and go as they leave for the day. This may be a given but little habits can save big time.


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Set aside a file for specific paperwork that the kids bring home from school. They can place the report cards or field trip releases in the file so that you can go through them all at once and always have it together. It also ensures that the kids don’t forget their papers and that you don’t forget to sign them. It’s a win-win for both busy parties. Now you can rule over the dreaded back to school.

 

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Keep your Cool

You love blasting your AC. I know it. We all do. But then you get your paperless billing statement and want to hide it from your spouse because they might cry. You don’t want to see them cry. When they do you are not sure if you should comfort them or put on armor because war is coming. That’s why we have a few helpful pointers on how you and your significant other to keep your cool mentally and physically.


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A more inexpensive investment would be to purchase some blackout curtains. Most heat throughout the day comes in through windows creating a greenhouse effect in the home. Simple changes like having heavy curtains, shutters, and keeping blinds closed can lower your average home temperature by up to 20 degrees. If you are home during the day and need some natural light then just keep the westward and eastward windows covered which is where the sun hits hardest.


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The AC unit is the most abused, blamed and neglected appliance in our possession. To save from wanting go out and kick it, try cleaning it instead. Once upon a time, my family was miserable. We blamed the AC for not being big enough for the square footage in our house. My savvy uncle goes out to look at the unit. It was COVERED in thick pollen. I mean one would think we painted it yellow. No air was able to enter the unit thus unable to enter our home. We shop vacuumed the entire thing and, like magic, we had AC again. Dirty air filters just like two inches of pollen also prevent efficient air flow throughout the house. Changing the AC filters regularly and maintaining a debris free unit can be cost effective ways to ensure your family doesn’t have a meltdown.


MB_0051_17JulyB6-3-insulation

Maybe you’re doing all these things already and need a stronger tactic. Maybe your home is older and you haven’t made repairs on it since you bought it. A good start is to check the insulation. Insulation is the best defense to protecting a home’s temperature. Experts say if there are visible floor joints in the attic then it is time to replace the insulation. To begin you can get an energy audit. A professional will come out to inspect your home for air leaks, check your furnace and water heater to make sure it is working properly, and look for any insulation issues. From there you will have a better understanding of what you should address.

These are just a few of the numerous things you can start to prevent a heat stroke or mild heart attack at the sight of your energy costs. We are just looking out for your health and hospital bills.

 

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Simple tips for selling your home during the Holidays!

A Welcoming Curb Appeal

Maintain a polished look by keeping gutters clean and shrubs trimmed. Be sure to also remove any hazards by shoveling, sanding, and removing any ice or snow from the driveway, walkways, and sidewalks. To engage buyers on a gloomy day, keep the front porch well lit, use potted evergreens or berry branches, a wreath on the door, lanterns, and a seasonal welcome mat.

Simple and Elegant Holiday Decor

Do not overdo! Buyers want to see the home’s permanent features and a fireplace or window covered with too many ribbons and stockings will distract from key focal points. Instead, incorporate elegant finishing touches such as mercury glass votives and ornaments for some sparkle paired with candles, pine cones, berries and twigs.

Create Warmth With Lighting

Use modest lighting as an accent to create an inviting ambiance. Scatter a few lightly scented tea lights in votives, candles in varying heights on beautiful pillars or lanterns and soft white string lights on the front porch, entry stairway or fireplace.

Splashes of Minimal Color

Too much traditional green and red can compete with existing decor and command a room’s attention. A couple of red plaid throw pillows or a red wool blanket draped on the sofa will add just enough festive pop. We also love using silver and gold paired with fresh, white seasonal flowers to complement freshly painted neutral walls that appeal to nearly all buyers.

Keep It Bright

With shorter days, let in as much natural light as possible by opening blinds and curtains. Make sure that all lights are working, light bulbs have been changed, and be sure that the property is well lit both inside and out for late afternoon showings.

The new “Top Ten” that might turn off a home buyer!

1. Boldly Painted Walls

Decorators often tout black or another bold paint color as the perfect backdrop to metallic accessories or appliances in modern home design.

The reality is that people prefer the exterior and interior walls of a home to be neutral. Even though repainting is cheap and relatively easy to do, it’s still a pain and buyers might not want to bother.

When decorating, your best bet is to stick to an appeasing hue for the walls and use accessories to provide pops of color.

2. Wallpaper

Bold, graphic patterns increasingly are being incorporated into interior design, often in the form of wallpaper.

But wallpaper—even if it’s only on one wall—is an extremely personal choice and time-consuming to remove if it doesn’t appeal to the buyer

Consider replacing wallpaper with a neutral paint for broader appeal.

3. Lavish Light Fixtures

While potential buyers want rooms that seem airy and bright, beware of installing a showpiece light fixture that is too modern or ornate.

Fixtures should enhance your home—not steal the spotlight.

4. Gleaming Gold

Designers may be mixing silver and gold to give homes star quality, but it might be wise to change out fixtures if they have the wrong metallic sheen.

Gold can give a home an outdated, ’80s feel. Switching out the faucet and door handles with a more appealing finish—such as brushed nickel—is relatively inexpensive and can help make your home appear sleek rather than out of style.

5. Converted Garages

People want a covered parking space so that they have a safe place for their car—especially in areas where street parking is at a premium. Additionally, people often use their garage as storage space.

If you convert your garage into a space tailored your specific needs, such as a music practice room, it may not suit your potential buyers.

6. Converted Bedrooms

Like with the garage, people want rooms built for their original purpose.

If you’ve converted an unused bedroom to an office, walk-in closet, or a game room, make sure you can easily convert it back to a bedroom when you’re ready to sell.

7. Carpets

While designers love to play with the texture of shag carpeting as it feels soft underfoot, the majority of home buyers prefer hardwood floors.

People assume carpets trap dirt, germs and odors, and they don’t want to go through the hassle of steam cleaning their home before they can move in. Potential buyers also don’t want to spend time removing carpet to expose hardwood floors.

If someone really loves carpet, it’s much easier for them to add it themselves—after the purchase.

8. Too-Lush Landscaping

The “outdoor living room” is all the rage, and you may be tempted to build out your backyard into a lavish wilderness of flowers.

But potential buyers may be hesitant to buy a home with an overly landscaped property requiring a lot of maintenance.

Focus on creating or maintaining a nice and neat outdoor space that people can enjoy without too much fuss.

9. Pools and Hot Tubs

A pool may seem like a luxurious feature, but it can be a big turnoff for buyers.

Pools are perceived to be expensive to maintain and potential safety hazards, especially for families with children. Above-ground pools are eyesores and can leave a dead spot in the backyard.

These sentiments extend to hot tubs, too. Many people see hot tubs as breeding grounds for bacteria, and they are not a feature easily removed from the deck or back yard.

10. Fancy (or Not) Pet Products

Sales of pet products are expected to increase nearly $3 billion from last year, and there’s an increasing market for luxury pet items.

But even animal lovers don’t want to see another family’s pet paraphernalia in a potential home. Even if your home is immaculate, the presence of pet-related items will give the impression that it’s dirty.

Be sure to remove all traces of your pet—including toys, food dishes and photos—before listing your home for sale.

Ten Commandments for arranging your furniture!

Choose a Focal Point

Never underestimate the power of a focal point. Sometimes they appear naturally as windows or built-in mantels, while other times you create them yourself, as with media units and televisions. Whatever your focal point is, make a decision and stick with it. You’ll want to arrange furniture around it as much as possible.

Don’t Push Furniture Against the Walls

The size of the room will dictate how far you can pull your furniture away from the walls, but even in a small space you’ll want to give pieces a little breathing room by allowing a few inches between the backs of furniture pieces and the walls. Despite popular belief, this little bit of space can actually make rooms feel bigger.

Of course if you have a larger space feel free to arrange furniture in such a way that conversation areas are created in the middle of the room, leaving several feet between the walls and the furniture.

Create Conversation Areas

People should naturally be able to talk to each other without having to crane their necks or shout across the room. You want the sofas and chairs to face each other (not necessarily straight on, but close), and they should be close enough that you can have a natural conversation with the person seated across from you without having to raise your voice. If the room is too large, create multiple conversation areas.

Find Balance When Arranging Furniture

Balance is always important in decorating, and when it comes to arranging furniture and determining where to put items in your living room you’ll want to consider both size and placement of the various pieces. Don’t group all the large or small pieces in one area, or to one side of the room. This will make the space feel uneven. Also make sure there’s variety in the shapes. If you’ve got straight-lined seating consider a round coffee table – or vice versa.

Consider Traffic Flow

One of the most important things to consider when arranging furniture in any room is traffic flow. People should not be tripping over furniture, or each other, to pass through the room. Make sure there are a couple feet (give or take a few inches) between the coffee table and sofa, and between chairs. Create a clear path so people can walk from one end of the room to the other without difficulty.

Use the Right Size Rug

Area rugs belong under the furniture – all the furniture if you can manage it. Exposing some flooring around the edges of the room is fine, but when using an area rug you want to make sure it’s big enough that all the furniture in a seating arrangement can sit on it. At the very least you want the front legs of large pieces to sit on the rug (the backs can be on the floor if necessary).

Get a Big Coffee Table

When it comes to coffee tables, more often than not, bigger is better. A large coffee table in the middle of a seating area is great for both aesthetics and function. It acts like an anchor for the room and it leaves plenty of space for people to put down drinks or to display favored accessories. It’s also easier to access from all the seats around it.  That said, make sure to leave enough room between seating and the coffee table for people to pass through (about 18″).  And if you can’t find a suitable large coffee table, two smaller tables or other coffee table alternative can be a good substitute.

Put Tables at Arm’s Length

Every seat should have easy access to either a side table or coffee table. People shouldn’t have to get up out of their seats to put their drink down.  When it comes to table height, side tables should be approximately the same height as the chair arms they’re next to (if that’s not possible, lower is better). When it comes to coffee tables, the height should be the same height as chair/sofa seats or lower.

Let There Be Light

Lighting is one of the most important elements of any room and it’s often not properly thought out. Always use a mix of overhead lighting, floor lamps and table lamps (and sconces if you can). A floor lamp looks great at the end of a sofa or behind an accent chair. Table lamps look lovely on side tables, shelves, and even mantels. Lighting needs to be placed at different levels in order to be properly balanced so use it liberally throughout your room.

Use the Right Size Artwork

Things that are hung on the wall, whether it’s art, mirrors, or sculptural objects, need to be placed in relation to the furniture. Don’t hang a tiny photo over the back of your sofa. Use either a large piece that is approximately two thirds the length of the sofa, or use a grouping of pieces. If you’re absolutely determined to use a particular piece of art and it’s too small, put it in a larger frame with a large matte around it. (For every problem there is a solution!).

Seven strategies that’ll “Wow” your next home guests!

1.  MIX UP YOUR SURFACES.

“To freshen up the look of your home,” Baer says, a designer and home stager to the stars.remove all of your accessories and books from bookshelves, consoles, and coffee tables, and give each piece a new home.” Bonus: “Moving things around a bit may even help you clear some clutter,” she says.

2.  AIM TO MAKE A VISUAL IMPACT.

Add playful style to your home by color-coding your bookshelves. “Group books together by the color of their spines to create a dramatic effect on your shelves,” Baer explains. “Color-blocked books can be almost as striking and powerful as a great piece of art.”

3.  SKIP THE FLORIST.

“Sometimes a few blossoming branches in a glass vase with water can be just as striking as an expensive bouquet from the florist,” Baer says. “I often trim a branch here or there off the magnolia trees in my neighborhood when they are in bloom.”

4.  CLEAR OFF COUNTERS.

Your bathroom should look like it’s in a hotel. As Baer puts it, “this means a counter free of products except a couple that have pretty packaging.”

5.  STYLE YOUR COFFEE TABLE.

 “Start with something large and wonderful in the middle,” Baer says. “Try a floral in an interesting pot or a huge bowl filled with something interesting. Then build out from that – stacks of art books, candles, sculpture, or pottery. Make it interesting and change it regularly.”

6.  ELEVATE YOUR CURTAINS.

Doing so will elongate your ceilings, a major selling point. “To create an illusion of a taller ceiling or larger windows,” Baer explains, “hang curtains from as high up as possible.”

7.  CREATE A BEDROOM SEATING AREA.

Have an extra table and chair? Move it from your living room to your master bedroom. “It seems counter-intuitive to pack in more furniture, but if you have the space, put an upholstered chair and a side table in a corner. It’ll give the impression that the room is larger.” And bigger is always better, right?

The steps to make an old bathroom new again!

1. Clean the grout.
Whiter-than-white grout will make your bathroom look like new again. We promise. There are plenty of grout cleaning methods out there, or you could just use this Miracle Grout pen. Easy.

2. Think about storage.
First, declutter (you don’t need four hairbrushes, OK?) and then have a think about the way you use your bathroom. Where do you cleanse? Do you apply makeup and perfume here, or in your bedroom? Once you’ve had a think, strategize your storage. It’s simple, but planning your storage ensures you’re using your bathroom effectively.

3. Invest in extra storage.
Got a spare bedside table or stool lying around? Use it in the bathroom as storage.

4. Arrange a candle shelf.
There’s nothing more luxurious than a whole cluster of candles lit at once. If you have a spare shelf, or a window ledge, arrange a line of candles (varying shapes and sizes work best) along it. This works especially well if you want to hide ugly frosted glass or cracked tiles.

5. Use old or mismatched teacups, vases and bowls as bathroom storage.
They’re perfect for makeup, hair ties and cotton balls, among other things.

6. Have coloured tiles that aren’t exactly your cup of tea?
Instead of trying to change the tiles themselves (a major overhaul), why not work with the colour? Paint the walls a complementary shade and just roll with it. Pink tiles would pop on dove grey walls. Bright yellow looks great with navy. Peach tiles will pair well with minty green. Painting the walls is far easier than changing the tiles. And if you hate it? Just paint over it with white.

7. Give your towels new life.
This is simple but it’ll make a difference. For old, hard towels, add ammonia or white vinegar to a wash, and indulge in towels as fluffy as marshmallows.

8. Add greenery.
Potted or hanging plants are unexpected – but beautiful – in bathrooms. Use a bathroom ledge or a pot stand, or hang from the ceiling.

9. Go minimalist.
Clear off your vanity, and swap your shower toiletries for clear, label-less bottles. There’s something lovely about not seeing product names and labels everywhere.