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

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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.

5 Powerhouse Tips to Sell Your Home

successstory2014 has had it’s ups and downs for sellers and buyers alike, but the real estate industry has finally settled down enough for many to return to consider selling their home. The sluggish recovery in housing starts is impacted by construction costs rising faster than inflation, labor shortages in the building trades, and the difficulty for small local home builders to obtain construction loans. According to the National Association of REALTORS  existing home sales in 2015 are expected to rise to over 5 million.

Here are 5 great tips to help you stay ahead of the trends:

Get Off the Sidelines
For sellers waiting for market improvements, they are here – so jump back in the game if the price is right. Buyers may have already missed the rock bottom deals that were around and that said, the rules have changed a bit; expect higher down payments than we saw in previous years. Sellers too should be aware that many buyers may now have a harder time qualifying as well due to these changes.

Renovate Wisely
Even though renovation and remodeling can add value to your home not all upgrades are created equal. Consider your options before making costly changes that might not actually benefit your selling price. Believe it or not sometimes it’s best to focus on the small things like repainting or minor fixes rather than extravagant builds that may or may not even be to your potential buyers tastes.

Make a Good Impression
Over 84% of potential buyers start their search for homes online, before they even talk to a REALTOR. Investing a few extra dollars from the get-go by paying for professional photos or video of your home can pay of big time in the long run.A REALTOR.COM survey showed that homes marketed with professional quality photographs sold for nearly 12% more than homes with bad or no images.

Don’t Be Afraid to Market
If you’re selling you need to put it out there! Give your agent the go ahead to market your home creatively throughout a number of venues. This includes traditional venues like print ads as well as newer options like social media. Show your listing on the agents website; ask them to blog about it or post it on their Facebook and Twitter pages as well. The internet is a global platform and can exponentially increase your homes exposure to a vast audience.

Little Details Make Big Differences
If you’re a buyer little things can make a world of difference. When you do a walk through switch on the stove, run the faucets, flush the toilets, run the air conditioning and put feet on the ground in the neighborhood. You aren’t just buying the house, you’re buying the area as well so get familiar with it.

4 Ways to Bring More Nature Into Your Home

green home happy home
It’s not just hippie Earth mother stuff!
Scientific studies have shown that flowers and plants can help reduce stress as well as improve our moods. Believe it or not some 27% of people who buy flowers but them for themselves!

With that in mind, why don’t we have more of what’s outdoors indoors where we can appreciate it more? Often it’s time, or know how, or just that keeping plants living and thriving can be a lot harder than most people think. Regardless, if it’s something that you’re interested in doing here are some ideas to help do it well!

Start Small
Start a container garden! Grow small flowers and plants that don’t take up a lot of room or commitment. They are easy to put in a vacant window sill and they can really brighten your view! Simple containers are easy enough to buy at any dollar store and dirt…well, it’s DIRT cheap!

Pick a Corner
Pick a corner of your room or desk and consider these plants which do well indoors:

Spider plants – work well for hanging baskets and is very low maintenance.

Lemon Balm – a great low growing herb with a wonderful scent!

Philodendron – lush and green…and almost impossible to kill, a real bonus for the negligent gardener.

Peace Lily – how zen! A fairly low maintenance plant that loves shade. Perfect for nurturing the greater good!

Bees and Butterflies
If you plan on keeping your flowery adventures outdoors, like on a patio, think about welcoming some fluttering guests! Plant flowers that butterflies and bees enjoy in order to have a few extra guests to look forward to. Plant things like lavender and russian sage further from your home to encourage bees to keep a fair distance. When attracting butterflies think color! They’re usually attracted to red, yellow, pink, purple and red. To keep butterflies around, stagger your plants so that when one stops blooming, another one starts.

Flowers on Demand
Well. Not everybody has a green thumb. If you find yourself unable, or unwilling to grow your own plants and the ones from the store just keep dying you can always just order flowers from the shop. Make a nice area for them and change them regularly, or consider alternatives like silk flowers or a hard bonsai to bring a little nature inside!

What A Little Paint Can Do!

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Many people are quick to tell you that a fresh coat of paint is an easy and cheap way to make your space seem brand new; to some extent that can be very true! You can really change the whole way that a room makes you feel by changing up the color palette…but that’s where the cheap part of the equation falls away, as anyone will tell you buckets of color don’t exactly come for free these days!

 

 

So here are some ideas that you can try that only use a single can!

Be BOLD.
Rather than paint an entire area, consider stripes! Even more brave? Go PLAID! Think patterns, think visual interest; you just may be surprised to find that you’re a trend setter!

Fuchsia It.
Whoa nelly! Them’s strong words! FUCHSIA?! In a day and age where everyone cautions you to play it safe, stay with neutrals, which may be good if you’re thinking of selling soon, but otherwise why not punch up the palette a little?

Make Mold.
No, not bread mold.
Consider crown molding, or if you’re lacking on install skills or budget paint it in instead. You can add an amazing amount of depth and texture just using paint in the right places.

Go Retro.
You might not want to get involved in a full on paint project for the entire room, so consider just hitting up some of the furniture instead. You can create some really nice distressed looks or change the focus of the room by giving an old dresser or wardrobe a new look.

Hit the Roof!
A starry ceiling looks great in the kids room; just laying some contrast color on the ceiling of a room can really turn the look around.

These ideas should get you on the fast track to claiming your space without spending a lot of cash! Hop on Pinterest and search out even more great ways to bring a little more color into your home!

What’s BUGGING you?

peppermint oilSummer time means a lot of things to different people. Warm afternoons shared with friends and family, swimming, fishing, barbeques… bugs. BUGS?! Yes, that’s right it’s Summer again and that means the bugs are back to pester their way into our otherwise lovely time.

From ants and wasps to the notorious mosquito, insects can be real party poopers. Here are some tips to help you control these nuisance creatures and make a more comfortable Summer!

Start from the ground up. The better you take care of your lawn, the better chance you’ll have fewer bugs. Talls grasses and unkempt flowerbeds are a haven for our pesky friends.

Collar the canines. It doesn’t have to be the traditonal collar really, there are a multitude of great products that will help keep your hound flea free – making you both much more comfortable!

Standing water. Empty an standing water than you can, don’t leave empty containers out gathering the rain as shallow warm waters are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Have bird baths or kiddie pools? Change the water out at least once a week; this will cut down on pests.

Oil change! Get natural. Bug repellent doesn’t have to be stinky or chemical based. There are a number of plant oils that bugs hate! Mix distilled water, spearmint, and orange oil then spray your arms, legs, and other exposed areas to help keep biters at bay.

Old reliable. Fly-tape. It’s not pretty at all but it will do the job to keep flies on the patio down or even to help round the up if they get in the house. It’s a last ditch suggestion but they can work!

Redneck TV. Your good ole bug zapper. This handy device is best used at night but will work all hours helping keep all kind of flying insect populations down; depending on the company you keep may very well be the most entertaining part of your next get together.

Lets not get kill crazy. Bugs can serve a real purpose in the magical circle of life…but that doesn’t mean you want them dive bombing your Aunt Tilda’s potato salad this weekend. Use these tips to help keep the bugs from bugging you!

Got your own bug solutions? Ever tried the pennies in a zip-loc to keep flies away (does that work?!) ? Tell me about them!

Rent VS Buying

Inman News recently published research they analyzed from Trulia regarding which major metropolitan areas had more affordable homes for purchase than for rent.

It really wasn’t surprising to find that in 98 out of 100 U.S. cities buying a home was the better decision between the two. Low home prices and mortgage rates are the largest contributing factor to this on-going trend, but the simultaneous rise in rent prices in many cities pushed the rent over buy index to new lows.

East coast and west coast giants California and New York had some of the highest priced-to-rent ratios in the country, with lower ratios were to be found in the Midwest. Northwest mecca Seattle came in at #81 with a somewhat higher than average ratio, but still within the bounds of a city where it is better to buy.

This could be a very nice turn for the real estate market as the economy struggles to rebound; doubtlessly this sort of news will spur home prices to begin to rise. NOW may be the best time to buy a home!