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Homeowner Tips

Secrets of a Perpetually Tidy Home

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Secrets of a Perpetually Tidy Home

Here’s a surprisingly functional way to achieve a forever-organized home!

You don’t need tons of time to achieve the uncluttered, tidy home of your dreams. You just need a strategy to get there– a really simple one that fits into your life without sucking up hours you can’t spare.

What’s pleasantly surprising about having a strategy is that it can turn daily mundane (and often aggravating) moments into opportunities for organization. Having a strategy is about making every moment count. Everyday moments like these…

When you’re waiting for a pot of water to boil…

Take those moments of downtime in the kitchen to do a little organizing. Do you really need that melon baller or — heaven forbid — the banana slicer gag gift you received in last year’s Secret Santa exchange?

Jamie Novak, a professional organizer and author of “Keep This Toss That,” says tackling organization incrementally is the way to go. “Seriously small tasks can make a big difference,” she says, keeping you from having to tackle larger, more daunting jobs later.

When you grab that plastic container with no lid (for the umpteenth time) . . .

Admit it: That $*%#ing lid is never, ever coming back. Instead of tossing that lid-less tub back into your quagmire of plastic parts, permanently banish it, then vow to continue removing every lid or bottom with no mate each time you encounter one (that’s the strategy part). Soon you’ll have a nice tidy cabinet full of matched-up pairs — and it will stay that way if you keep the strategy going.

When you’re brushing your teeth . . .

Rummage through the medicine cabinet for prescriptions and medications that have expired. And don’t forget that many cosmetics and toiletries also have use-by dates. As for that $20 lipstick you bought that made you look like Cruella de Vil but is still hanging around? Either toss it or move it to the box of stuff where you keep your Halloween costumes.

When you’re breaking down yet another Amazon box . . .

Don’t do it. Instead, use it as a donation box. As you encounter things you need to toss that are donate-able during your other organizing and decluttering moments, just put them in the box instead. Amazon is working with Give Back Box to allow consumers to use their boxes to donate and ship (for free!) unwanted clothing and household goods to charity.

When your laundry is clean, but there’s that one lone sock . . .

Toss it. If not in this laundry round, the next one if its mate never arrives. Thank it for its service, and then say goodbye. Same goes for falling-apart-but-matching socks, holey underwear, torn shirts, etc.

When you’re waiting for your hair to soak up conditioner . . .

Thin the herd of shampoos, body wash, and other products that you used maybe once or twice — 6 months ago! — that are still hogging space in your shower. (Bonus: This will also help keep nasty, yucky mold at bay.)

When you’re watching your sports team play on TV . . .

Sort through that ginormous stack of junk mail, catalogs, and circulars. Bring a recycling bin with you to the sofa and go through it during commercials or lulls in the game. Toss anything that’s outdated or unnecessary into the recycling bin.

When you’re leaving your house to run errands . . .

Ask yourself, “What can I take to the car/trash/donate bin/library/give back to a friend?” Professional organizer Laura Bostrom who runs Everyday Order says that also extends to rooms inside the house. “Always carry something with you that belongs in another room.”

When you’re putting fresh sheets on the bed . . .

Grab a set of sheets from the far reaches of your closet and ask yourself why you’re not putting those on your bed today. Be honest. If the answer is something that won’t ever change — it’s scratchy or worn or you just hate those stupid flowers — then donate or toss.

When you’re deciding what to wear . . .

Switch out hangers on the clothes you choose to wear. Toss the old hangers, and put new ones (we recommend the thin, felt ones because they take up less room and clothes don’t fall off easily) on the rod to use when the clothes you’re wearing are ready to be hung back up. After a few months, donate everything that’s still on old hangers (and not seasonal must-haves).

When you wake up tomorrow . . .

Remain tuned to other moments that may offer you a chance to finally rid yourself of an organizational mess that’s been bugging you for some time. It’s a strategy, not a to-do list, that’ll make for perpetually well-organized spaces that will make your home even more enjoyable.

You’ll be on your way to the organized, clutter-free home of your dreams!

Three Reasons Why you should price your home to sell

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Three Reasons Why You Should Price Your Hone To Sell

Coming up with the right price when selling your home is a balancing act. You want to ask for as much as possible, but not so much that you turn away potential buyers. You also don’t want to cheat yourself with a price that’s lower than your home’s worth.

The “right” price is one that’s in tune with what similar homes are selling for in your market. It’s a figure that you and the buyer agree accurately reflects the home’s value. If you’re working with a real estate agent, the agent can help you evaluate the market and re

Resist the temptation to overprice your home — or give in to your fears and underprice it.

You should listen to what your agent says: You’re better off getting the price right the first time around. Here are three reasons to price your home correctly from the start — and strategies for coming up with the ideal dollar amount, whether you’re doing this on your own or with a seller’s agent:

You can attract more buyers

Some sellers may be tempted to ask for more than market value — even if they’re willing to accept a lower offer — just to see if there are any takers at the larger number. But this strategy can backfire if sellers price their home out of range of potential buyers.

Say your home’s worth $299,000 according to your market research, and you’re willing to sell for that amount. But you list at $315,000 to see if anyone makes an offer at the higher price.

A serious buyer may have a budget of $299,000 and so search online listings only for homes priced through $300,000. That buyer may not even see your home unless you lower your asking price. It’s better to price your property right from the start to maximize the number of qualified buyers.

You will sell your home faster, for a higher price

In a hot market with many buyers, a fairly priced home could receive multiple offers because people recognize it’s a good deal. It may even spark a bidding war that drives the final offer above your asking price.

But an overpriced home could scare away some of those buyers, who may think that they’re dealing with an unreasonable seller. You may be willing to sell your house for less, but a buyer may not even bother to make an offer if the home’s overpriced from the start.

It’s even worse in a cooler market, one that has few buyers. The home will remain for sale with no takers until the price moves low enough to attract a buyer. And that means the seller is wasting time by offering a home at an artificially high price.

If a home doesn’t sell within 30 days, it’s a good indication that it’s not priced right, according to the National Association of Realtors. In addition, research suggests the longer a house stays on the market, the lower its final selling price will be. Sellers may end up making less money than if they’d priced the house correctly when it first listed.

Buyers will have more confidence in your property

You don’t want to price a home too high, but you don’t want to go too low, either. Then, a potential buyer may wonder if something is secretly wrong with your property.

If you offer your home for a fair price, one that’s similar to comparable sales in your neighborhood, a buyer may feel better about the transaction. The buyer may reason that if you’ve done your homework on pricing, you’ve also done your homework on making sure the home is in good condition.

How to price your home to sell

You can look at recent sales for comparable nearby homes to get an idea of your property’s market value. Your real estate agent has access to a database of recent “comps” with this information and can give you an estimate of a reasonable price. You’ll also want to know how long these homes were on the market, and whether sellers had to reduce their initial prices in order to sell.

It’s also a good idea to look at online estimates from home websites such as Zillow and Redfin. The value these sites estimate for your home may not be an exact match to its true market price, but buyers are likely looking at these online estimates. If the estimates are off base, the sites will generally let you edit information about your home, which could lead to an adjustment.

When you want top dollar, it’s smart to have the right price the day your home goes on the market. When you offer your home at its true market value, you’re giving yourself the best chance to get a good offer in a reasonable amount of time.

 

7 things to consider when buying a home with a pool

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Image result for backyard pool

7  Things to Consider When Buying a Home with a Pool

Between hosting neighbourhood pool parties, the convenience of cooling off when the mercury rises, and having a solid excuse to buy cute, doughnut-shaped air mattresses, there are plenty of reasons why buying a property with a pool may seem like a no-brainer. But despite all the pros, consider the cons before you dive into a pool purchase.

Inspector Gadget

 

If you’ve fallen in love with a house that has a pool, book an appointment with a certified pool company to conduct a full inspection. The water lines should be leak-free, the pump pressure tested and the heater in top-notch condition. The equipment, such as the cover and safety fencing, need to be looked over too. Problems begin to arise as pools age, so ask the sellers for installation dates and any repairs that have been done over the years.

Search and Employ

When it comes to pools, knowledge is key. Find out what the municipal bylaws are around private pools — there may be restrictions that need to be taken into consideration. Talk to a reliable pool company about maintenance and annual repairs costs, and think about who will clean it and treat the water. It’s also smart to look at recent, in-the-neighbourhood sales of properties with and without pools to see if their investments of time and money paid off when it came time to resell.

High Flyer

 

Cannonball competitions are super fun, but they aren’t going to fund the pool’s heating bill or yearly maintenance costs (unless you charge admission). Get an idea of what the sellers spend so that you have a clear picture of what your financial commitments would be. Also, protect yourself from unexpected water-related costs by putting a condition in the offer for a full pool inspection.

Time Management

 

Beyond the financial commitment, think through how much time you’re realistically able to spend cleaning, treating, covering, uncovering, draining, scraping and scrubbing that pool. If you go on extended yearly vacations or head up to cottage country every weekend, will you actually have time to enjoy the pool? Look at your life and see if there’s room to really use this backyard investment to its fullest.

Safety First

 

An outdoor pool can be the fun, family-friendly focal point of a backyard…but only if you feel safe having it. Secure pool fencing and locking gates are a must to protect kids — and pets — from getting into deep water. Taking out liability insurance is something to consider too, especially if you plan on hosting summertime pool parties or have friends (and their friends) use the pool, particularly when you’re out of town.

Value Added

 

To figure out if a pool will increase or decrease the resale value of your new property, take a good look around you. Is it in a good location? Does it get plenty of light? Survey the other properties in the area to determine if there are a plethora of pools; not having one could affect future pricing because it’s an expected asset. But if the house is perfect and a pool is still not for you, don’t be deterred — there are economical ways to fill it in.

 

With all the pros and cons neatly listed for your consideration, all that’s left to do now is figure out what’s best for your family. Sure, there are costs involved, but no one can deny that having a backyard pool is loads of fun for a family and can be a backyard memory maker. Decisions, decisions… 

And if a home with a pool is in your foreseeable future, give me a call and I’ll help you find the perfect place!

10 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance

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Brightly colored doors with stylish door knockers are a great way to make a statement with your home's exterior! This bright purple door and matte brass door knocker are stunning and bring out the purple in the surrounding brick. Check out this blog for more door color and knocker combinations.

10 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance

Wouldn’t it be nice to approach your home’s entrance with a grin instead of a grimace? Take our tips for beating a clear, safe, and stylish path to your front door!

First impressions count — not just for your friends, relatives, and the UPS guy, but for yourself. Whether it’s on an urban stoop or a Victorian front porch, your front door and the area leading up to it should extend a warm welcome to all comers — and needn’t cost a bundle.

Here’s what you can do to make welcoming happen on the cheap.

#1 Get Rid of Overgrowth
The path to your front door should be at least 3 feet wide so people can walk shoulder-to-shoulder, with an unobstructed view and no stumbling hazards. So get out those loppers and cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching shrubs.

A brick pathway leads you to the front door. Patterson Custom Homes. Interiors by Trish Steele, Churchill Design.

#2 Light the Pathway
Landscape lighting makes it easy to get around at night. Solar-powered LED lights you can just stick in the ground, requiring no wiring, are surprisingly inexpensive. We found 8 options on Amazon for under $60. 

Solar Flickering Lantern to light the way “#stopmakingexcuses” “#pintowin” “#BLACKandDECKER”

#3 Paint Your Door
Borrow inspiration from London’s lovely row houses, whose owners assert their individuality by painting their doors in high-gloss colors. The reflective sheen of a royal blue, deep green, crimson, or whatever color you like will ensure your house stands out from the pack.

#4 Add a Door With Glass
A door with lots of glass is a plus for letting light into the front hall — but if you also want privacy and a bit of decor, check out decorative window film. It’s removable and repositionable and comes in innumerable styles and motifs. Pricing depends on size and design; many available for under $30.

13. A decorative window film that'll give you privacy while still letting lots of natural light in — and just make your glass look expensive.

#5 Replace Door Hardware
While you’re at it, polish up the handle on the big front door. Or better yet, replace it with a shiny new brass lockset with a secure deadbolt. Available for about $60.

9 Front Door Ideas For Instant Curb Appeal

#6 Add a Knocker
Doorbells may be the norm, but a hefty knocker is a classic that will never run out of battery life, and another opportunity to express yourself (whatever your favorite animal or insect is, there’s a door-knocker in its image).

NEW Solid Brass Hare Door Knocker

#7 Plant Evergreens
Boxwoods are always tidy-looking, the definition of easy upkeep. A pair on either side of the door is traditional, but a singleton is good, too. About $25 at garden centers. In cold climates, make sure pots are frost-proof (polyethylene urns and boxes mimic terracotta and wood to perfection).

These plants and pots could be cool for our front porch.

#8 Make Your House Numbers Stand Out
Is your house number clearly visible? That’s of prime importance if you want your guests to arrive and your pizza to be hot. Stick-on vinyl numbers in a variety of fonts make it easy, starting at about $4 per digit.

Take your affection for our favorite Luciana Bench and Swing one better with the coordinating Luciana® Crown Chair. Complete the look of an existing seating group, or create a personal open-air retreat made just for you.

#9 A Nice Door Mat
A hardworking mat for wiping muddy feet is a must. A thick coir mat can be had at the hardware store for less than $20. Even fancier varieties can be found well under $50. Try layering your mats for a colorful and personalized look!

#10 Porch Lights
Fumbling for keys in the dark isn’t fun. Consider doubling up on porch lights with a pair of lanterns, one on each side of the door, for symmetry and twice the illumination. Many mounted lights are available well under $100.

Episode 07 - The Baker House - Magnolia Market

Whatever you choose, make it your own! And if you need a new front door, on a new home, contact me and I’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for!

 

Which Way Should Your Ceiling Fan Turn in Summer?

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Which Way Should Your Ceiling Fan Turn in Summer?

The wrong direction could make you even hotter.

Most fans are reversible: One direction pushes air down, creating a nice summer breeze; the other direction sucks air up, helping you distribute heat in winter. There’s normally a switch on the motor to change the fan’s direction.

Is your fan turning in the right direction for summer?

  • Stand beneath the running fan, and if you feel a cooling breeze, it’s turning correctly.
  • If not, change directions, usually by flicking a switch on the fan’s base.

Typically, it’s counterclockwise or left for summer and clockwise for winter, but the best method is to follow the steps above.

Funny note: We read on Yahoo! that one clever person used bubbles to see which direction his fan was blowing.