Homeowner Emergencies: What You Should Know!

It’s not something any new homeowner wants to think about. EMERGENCIES!

The ink on the paperwork is just barely dry and you finally got all the stuff moved in…when disaster strikes!

And to be fair, emergencies happen when we least expect them so it’s not a matter of if so much as a matter of when something unforeseen will arise in your new home.

The thing to do is to be prepared – so we’ve put together some tips to help!

Black Out
Whether it’s somebody up the street digging or a big storm blowing through, power outages are one of the most common things you will deal with as a homeowner. Make sure you have candles as well as several flashlights readily available and with working batteries on hand. Keep your refrigerator closed – you can’t tell how long the power might be off and you don’t want food to spoil. It doesn’t hurt to have a few gallons of purified water on hand as well as a small propane fueled heater for winter time.

Lock Out
Oops! Lost the keys, or left them on the counter and locked the door on your way out. It happens, you get locked out of the house, but a little pre-planning can be a life saver! There is of course the old tried and true hollow rock method of hiding a key in a nearby flowerbed. Alternately you might consider leaving a spare key with a *very* trusted friend or neighbor.

Water Woes
These can come in many forms from busted pipes to water heater troubles or even betrayal from your trusted dish washer. Whatever the cause the first immediate cure should be simple: Turn Off The Water! Turn it off at the source — usually near your water heater. Once that’s done you will be able to assess the situation and contact a plumbing professional if their help is needed.

Kitchen Fire!
Fire is one of the most terrifying things a homeowner might face. First, do not panic! Keep a box of baking soda on hand as it can be used to extinguish many small flare-ups. For stove top flames NEVER USER WATER! Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and do not open it until the flames have had  a chance to die down. A fire extinguisher is good, but educate yourself on the types of extinguishers and how to use them as not all are good for grease fires and may even cause the flames to spread!

Above all cool heads will prevail! Whenever something happens take just a second to think first, stay calm, and then act. Over the course of a lifetime in a home unexpected emergencies are bound to happen, so be prepared! Keep a list of emergency numbers right on the fridge – ask your agent, they likely can get you one!

Sellers Market? BUYERS MARKET!

92297_1081You’ve likely heard by now that we’re in the middle of what industry experts like to call a “sellers market”, and while it’s very much true that right now is a great time to sell your home there are a number of reasons why it’s also an amazing time to buy!

How can it be both?
Granted, sellers are especially motivated right now because of low inventory and high demand – which almost guarantees a better return on their investment – but even with prices likely being higher there are still some great benefits to buyers.

It’s About Timing
Compared to last year home buyers are more ready to buy now. With the cold Winter months and the uncertainty of the elections out of the way many people are feeling more comfortable with finances.

Supply Vs Demand
Home inventory is low right now; even if there wasn’t a rush on listings their general scarcity adds a sense of urgency to the market. What if the home you want gets a better offer? This drives a lot of potential buyers off the fence and to the signing table much faster.

The Sky Is Falling
Many would be mover-uppers and potential home buyers are motivated right now because they’re afraid the mortgage rates are going to go up – and they likely should be. How does that aid in making this a buyers market within a sellers market? Because RIGHT NOW the rates are still low!

Price Check
Of course money is always a factor, but with inventory being low and demand for homes being high it’s almost a certainty that home prices will also be going up. For the savvy home buyer this is a sure sign that if you’re thinking of buying any time this year it’s likely the sooner the better.

Are you considering buying a home and just having a terrible time finding the right one? Your dream home is out there and we can help you find it! Contact us or use our website to search for the current available homes today!

Is Your Home Budget Cramping Your Style?

livingYou’ve found the perfect place and made it your own.

The boxes are unpacked and it’s been a great time getting settle in and making it your own. But well…you haven’t really changed much yet.

Part of that could be because you really found the perfect place, just the way it is, but if you’re like many homeowners the biggest challenge you face when the honeymoon days are over is budget. So here are some great ideas for decorating your home on tight purse strings and still getting a lot for your dollar!

Paint It Up!
Tried and true a fresh coat of paint works wonders to transform any room and is also one of the most affordable updates you can do yourself as well. While you can always hire a profession if it’s in your price range you really can handle most paint jobs on your own. Maybe start small, do a closet or kids room one weekend to get your skills honed in and then go for it!

Get Rid Of Stuff
Believe it or not, the cheapest update – one that could even make you money – is just not buying more stuff you don’t really need. If it’s too late to prevent that you should look into possibly getting rid of some stuff you don’t need to clear space. Not to get all hoopy-froopy but having more open space really does lend a cleaner feel to a space rather than having it over stuffed with…well…STUFF.

Think Storage Friendly
Getting a new piece of furniture? Remodeling a room? Think storage-first! One thing the tiny house movement has taught us is that any time you can reuse or re-imagine how an area works you can save space.  Foot stools with lids that open, hide-away spaces under stairs, and wisely cycling out home items based on season are all great examples of thinking storage-forward.

These three things are just a good place to start – get creative! There are always new ways to transform a space if you put your mind, some time, and a little elbow grease into it. And of course don’t hesitate to talk to me, your trusted real estate pro about ideas for making your home even better!

Insanely Clever Moving Tips!

nicefamilyOne thing most people will agree on: moving will make you CRAZY! And while it’s true that moving can be one of the most physically and emotionally challenging tasks you can take on next to running the ironman marathon there are some ways to keep it clever and add some calm to the chaos. Check out these great ideas!

Think Outside the Box
Boxes are the go to way to pack your stuff, but they might not be the best way to go. For clothes, bulky items, things that squish, or even shoes a good ole plastic trash bag does great! They are durable and best of all they are great for packing in those tight in between empty spaces in the truck.

*bonus tip: if you have luggage use it to pack too! There’s no sense in moving an empty suitcase!

Don’t Pack Clutter
You’re moving to a new place; this is the perfect time for a fresh start! Use this time to de-clutter and get rid of junk you’ve just been holding on to, and whatever you do don’t pack it up and move it with you – it just makes more stuff to move and less usable space when you get where you’re going.

Skip the Bubblewrap
Yes, it’s great fun, and you’ll likely need the stress relief but bubble wrap can be expensive! Get creative and use tshirts and socks to wrap and pack some of your less breakable fragile items – this not only saves on cost and throwing away wrap, it acts as double purpose packing for clothes that you have to move anyway.

Label Doors
Everybody knows to label their boxes but one way to help movers or friends who might be helping is to label the doors of your new home when you get there. Just slap a piece of paper on the door for “Bobbi’s Room” and it will save you a ton of “where does this go?!” questions throughout the day.

Clear Plastic Bins
You can find these fairly affordable, so grab one for each member of the family. Use these clear plastic bins to pack up the more essential day to day items for each person – phone charger, favorite teddy bear, or important medicines. This will make it easier to find those must have items during the whirlwind of activity when the move happens.

Moving is a huge chore – especially if you take it on yourself – but using these simple tips will help make it hopefully just a little less crazy. Not sure if you’re ready to move? Is the market good? The best way to find out is to talk with a qualified real estate professional! Contact me today to find out how I can help!

Scary Real Estate Red Flags

old-manor-1231905The things that go bump in the night may be a very real concern, unfortunately you may not find out about them until you’re moved in and spending time in your new home. No, we’re not talking about restless spirits – although hopefully that’s in the disclosure statement somewhere! – we’re talking about the hidden boogies in your new home that may cause REAL nightmares.

Now, of course hopefully, you’ve done due diligence and worked with a professional REALTOR® who no doubt insisted you have the home inspected before any serious offers were made….right? No? *queue scary music*

If you’re already in your own Amityville horror these tips may be too late, but if not there are a few things you can do to spot likely problem areas in the homes you’re looking at to bust those bad listings! Here’s a few key things to look for:

Mediocre Maintenance
Chance are if there’s plant life growing out of the gutters there are other maintenance and upkeep items that may have gone unchecked. Look for signs like these to determine how much of a headache you might have in store.

Fractures
Especially in the foundation of the home. Visible signs of walkway warping and out-right cracks in the foundation wall are a big concern as repairs of that sort can be extremely costly.

Trust Your Nose
It could just be something funky. Everybody’s house has a different smell after all…but trust your nose. Musty, lingering odors can be a sign of a bigger hidden problem like mold or even resident vermin.

Faulty Wiring
You’re not an electrician probably, but go through and make sure to look at all the wall sockets as well as turn lights on and off in all the rooms. Any popping sounds or flickering could be a sign that there’s more going on.

Fresh Paint
Seems like kind of a weird warning sign, right? Especially since it’s pretty common to slap on some new paint when getting ready to sell a home. Fact is however it’s also a great way to hide flaws and problem areas! Hole in the wall? Cover it with construction paper and paint over it. Mold? Paint will cover those stains as well. Look for stains bleeding through, sagging ceilings, or even just ask why they painted the room.

So be conscious of potential hidden problems when out looking at homes, you can eliminate a lot of potential problem homes before you get your heart set on the location. Always, always, always get your potential new home inspected by a professional with a history of experience — your agent should know several.

Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets Right NOW!

cabinetsNo, seriously, do it. Do it NOW!

The kitchen is often thought of as the heart of the home; no one can argue that especially as the holidays get close it’s one of the busiest rooms in the whole house! That being the case it should be of extra importance that it look good and function as well as possible. A large part of the appearance of your kitchen of course are the cabinets. The cabinets in your kitchen really set the tone of the room – it’s too bad so many people choose drab over fab. If your conscience hasn’t already gotten the better of you here are a few more reasons to paint those cabinets!

Your Kitchen Is a Dungeon
Ok, so maybe that’s a bit overboard…but seriously, if your kitchen is dark and scary who’s going to want to spend time there? Dark colored cabinets that are old or dreary have got to go. A reflective surface for your backsplash will help further, by bouncing light around the room to make it feel more spacious. Think bright, light, and welcoming!

It Looks Like A Set From Starsky & Hutch
SOLID! But you don’t want to be superfly! If you’ve got old wood paneled or just out-dated looking cabinet styles in your kitchen it may be time for them to go. A coat of paint can take your cabinets from “meh” to masterful in just a day.

It’s Easy!
That’s right! It’s EASY! And that’s reason enough right there. A little sanding, and a little paint can really go a long way towards not only sprucing up your cabinets but also breathing new life into your entire kitchen. When it comes to bang for your buck painting your cabinets is among some of the most affordable ways to drastically change the feel of a room.

Great Kitchens SELL.
Period. End of statement. If there is one room in your home that can make or break the sale it’s the kitchen. If it’s perceived to be too small, or unwelcoming, it just might be the deal breaker that keeps your home from moving off the market and getting you maximum return for your dollar.

Whereas a complete renovation may cost too much, take too much time, or just be more than you want to deal with, painting your cabinets can really turn things around in a big way for not a whole lot of dollars out of pocket. Whether you’re looking to update your exiting home to sell or need to find a new place to call home get in touch – I know the local area and can help make your move the right one!

Time to Move? Or Just Improve?

moveorimproveIt’s a fairly common thing, you’ve lived in your home for some years and either your lifestyle has changed, the kids have moved out or grown up, or maybe you’re just tired of the same old thing. You look around and simply need more space, or realize there’s just no way to reconfigure the floor plan without major changes. Whatever the case your long term plan didn’t include any of these things when you first set out; now it’s time to decide what to do in order to get it the way you want.

If you’re not sold on moving yet, consider revamping some of your living spaces. While not all home improvements are equal there are some that will add value to your home over others. A good place you can almost always regain value is by upping your curb appeal.

Start Small
Small remodel projects can make your home like a new place. Especially if you are getting that new big tub in the master bath or some other luxury you’ve always wanted as part of the deal. Small remodels are a great way to sate the need for change without the cost of a new home.

Demolition Man
It’s not a sin to up the ante and do a serious full remodel of your home. If you love the area, don’t want to move, and have the budget a remodel may provide you with the best of both worlds.

Color Your World
Repainting can really change the entire mood of your home. Consider a fresh coat in rooms that need a re-do; think about moving the furniture – or even getting new furniture – to turn those rooms around.

Maybe there is nothing to be done. Maybe it simply won’t work – you need more room, or less room – and have to make the move.

If that time has come we’re here to help! The real estate market is really moving; we’re seeing homes moving quickly – and even multiple offers! Given the limited number of homes for sale that might suit your needs it’s always a good idea to work with a qualified REALTOR® when the time comes.

Freshen Up Your Home for Spring!

5x1b8dmjSpring is here at last! With dust in the air one thing that comes to bear ever year is all the odors that have been sleeping during the Winter.

Despite the conditions of the floors being one of the items most directly correlated with cleanliness in a home it can be easy to overlook how smells impact the perception of your home until they hit you in the face. Here are some tips we’ve put together to help you keep those nasties at bay:

Mans Best Friend
It’s easy to think that musty smell is coming from your carpets, curtains or other upholstery, but fact is you may not need to look that far to find the culprit. Not to worry, there’s no need to throw out your favorite pup! Just make sure to give them regular baths and take care of grooming. Have a kitty? Keep that litter box at bay by cleaning it out frequently; using a little baking soda to help absorb smells.

Blossoming Scents
Fresh flowers are a great way to not only improve the visual aspects of a room but they can also bring in fresh spring-like smells. Don’t go blooming crazy of course! There can be too much of a good thing, but this is always great, especially if you have guests coming over – just make sure they don’t have allergies.

When Life Gives You Lemons
Lemons are a olfactory powerhouse – and they have a lot of uses for cleaning as well! Throw a “used” lemon into your garbage disposal with cold water to fight stink in the sink. A few peels from a lemon can keep that “fishy” smell down in your trashcan after seafood night.

Coffee to the Rescue!
Yes, this magical elixir is a life saver in any number of situations, but it can be used to fight odor and leave your room smelling great too! Just put some fresh ground coffee in a small bowl, leave it in a closed room overnight, and by the next day the smelly odors will be replaced with wonderful java aromas! You can put a little in a coffee filter and tie it shut to place in closets or footlockers as well.

Avoid These 5 Home Selling Mistakes!

home_houseMany homeowners have an ideal in mind when it comes time to put their home up for sale on the market.

Sold within days and at well over market value being the top of that list…and while it certainly can happen, it is the rare bird to find. Regardless of how reality based your vision of the home sale process may or may not be there are in fact a few things you can do to avoid making it any more difficult than it needs to be!

Don’t Hire the First Realtor You Meet.
(Unless it’s me!) All kidding aside, you really should shop around a little before choosing an agent to work with. Talking to family and friends who own their homes and find out who they worked with is always a good place to start. As you will be working closely with this individual, possibly for a period of time, you want to make sure you select someone who fits your needs.

Not Paying Attention to the Market.
You need to know what’s going on in your area. Are home prices in your neighborhood up or down? What’s the average price for a home with your homes features? These are all things a good agent can help you keep tabs on.

Don’t Ignore Your Agents Advice.
You hired them for a reason. They’ve worked in the industry and understand the market, and while you are in the drivers seat you would do well to heed the counsel of someone who’s been down this road before.

Don’t Hide Things.
Throw rugs over stains, furniture in front of your kids crayon masterpiece…these are all items you want to take care of before you go to sale. Don’t try to hide defects in the home from your agent or prospective buyers – it will only come back to haunt you in the end.

Don’t Over Price.
Everyone wants a good return on their investment…but the market only bares what it bares. Consider all the factors involved with setting a price and then be reasonable. Listen to what your agent has to say and if you do decide to go a little high stay positive – even if it takes longer to sell.

These simple tips can help your home selling process go a lot smoother no matter what your expectations going into it may be.

Winter Tips for the Home

259301_4451
Old Man Winter made his appearance in a big way!

And while those in some parts of  Idaho are seeing a small respite this week there’s no denying that the cold months have finally arrived and may be settling in for a stay. There are a number of things as existing or new home owners that can help you maintain your home through Winter and protect your investment – these tips will even benefit renters as they can help you keep your energy costs lower as well.

Reverse your fans!
If you have vaulted ceilings especially, you may want to consider reversing your fans and cause them to spin clock-wise in order to direct warm air downwards where you can get more enjoyment from it.

Tune up that furnace!
A lot of us don’t think about it until we turn on the heat for that first time and get “the smell”. Well, that smell could in fact mean it’s time to get your ducts cleaned and heating systems serviced. These minor maintenance calls are usually far more affordable beforehand than after there is an actual issue.

Get in the gutters.
If it hasn’t frozen yet, or you’re experiencing a brief second spring it never hurts to get those gutters nice and open to handle the extra flow of water from snow melting and packing in. Consider adding a short extension to your downspouts also in order to keep ice damns from building up around the house.

Stock Up!
With the holidays getting into full swing it’s a good time to make sure you’re stocked up on the essentials. Not just TP! Make sure you’re cupboards are well supplied with lots of soups and coffee. Keep plenty of snow-melt in the garage for keeping the walks clear and take a look at your snow shovel or blower in case they need to be replaced or serviced — once the big snow flies it can be next to impossible to find a good shovel.

Dodge the drafts.
Check your windows – you can use a lit candle to see if the flame moves – and make sure there are no drafts. If you have older windows consider replacing them with newer better insulated ones. Large windows, sliding, or french style doors can also cause a lot of heat loss so consider insulating them with even a layer of plastic or store-bought insulation.