Organizational Hacks from the Experts

The age of home organization is upon us. Sorting, editing and retaining joy have become big business for organizational experts around the globe. Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method tells us to keep only those things that bring us joy. The experts at The Home Edit suggest color-coded organization in their signature rainbow pattern.

What easy techniques can you apply at home today to help you stay organized? Following are 4 tips to get you started.

1. Make a Plan

Before you start any organization in your home, make a plan to help you see the final vision. Many homeowners simply start going through their stuff without conceptualizing how it will all go back into the space. Expert organizers suggest making a list or even a  map that will help you know how much space you have and how to use it in the best way.

2. Clean as You Go

If you’re taking things out of a room, storage area, or off shelves, don’t start putting anything back until you thoroughly clean the space. This means dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, disinfecting and thoroughly deep cleaning. Many people will skip this step, which defeats the entire purpose of organizing the area into more usable space.

3. Use Labels

The Home Edit specifically encourages the use of labels to help keep things organized once your space is put back together. Labels can be used in closets to help you identify boxes of items stored away, such as seasonal clothes, or even in a pantry so you know exactly where specific food items are kept. Labeling prevents you from throwing unrelated items in the same bins.

4. See What You Have

Along with labels, you also should use bins that allow you to see what you have. Clear bins, easily available at organizational stores, will help you keep things neat if you can see what you have at a glance. You won’t have to go through boxes to find out whether you need more of something — you can see what is inside without having to pull the bin off the shelf. Clear bins also help you avoid junk drawers, closets or rooms, which can quickly grow out of hand.

If you are ready to tackle a big home organizational project, call us today.

Make Sure Your Remodeling Pays off When It’s Time to Sell?

Now that spring is here, many homeowners are looking to start a remodeling project. And home buyers look at homes with eyes to remodel after purchase or review existing remodeled spaces and decide how much extra—if any—they’re worth. Others are deciding whether spending money to remodel is a good use of funds, or if it’s better to just save your money.

Remodeling magazine and the National Association of Realtors® completes a cost vs. value study each year. The latest report from 2020 can give you some insight as you review remodeling plans.

Something as simple as a front door replacement will recoup much of the expense, but not all. The study found the national average cost for a fiberglass entry door replacement to be $9,254 with an average resale value of $4,930 making that an 53.3% return. The report also found that a steel entry door replacement costs $1,881 nationally, with a resale value average of $1,294, showing a 68.8% return. So, if you need a new front door, go for it. Don’t expect buyers to repay you for every cent of the change though. Instead, enjoy the new addition and how it makes your home look nicer!

Other popular projects that provide a decent return include a bathroom remodel and major and minor kitchen remodels. Again, though, don’t expect a full return on cost. If your home needs updating, do it to enjoy the update before you have to sell your home.

A bathroom remodel costs on average nationally $21,377 with an average return of 64.0% or $13,688. Similarly, with an average return of 58.6%, a major kitchen remodel (new cabinets, appliances, countertops, paint room/trim, etc.) costs $68,490 and the resale value is $40,127. However, if you go for a minor kitchen remodel (re-facing kitchen cabinets being the main difference between a major and minor kitchen remodel), on average you’ll spend $23,452 according to the national average, but resale will return you $18,206 or 77.6%. So, if money and time are tight, you might consider a minor kitchen remodel for the best return when compared with a major kitchen remodel.

For more information about what remodeling projects will pay off when it’s time to sell your home, give me a call today.

Ways to Build More Equity in Your Home

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Equity — or the share of your property you actually own — is a benefit to any homeowner. For one, it means more profits when it’s time to sell. On top of that, it can also give you cash when you need it — either through a refinance or home equity loan. 

Fortunately, building equity can be easy. Every month you increase your home equity by making your mortgage payment. 

If you want to build your equity even further, there are several ways to do it, including: 

  • Buying in an up-and-coming market. If home values in your neighborhood start to rise, so will your property value. That can mean more equity, too.
  • Increasing your down payment. The more you put down, the less your lender will need to loan you, and the larger your equity stake will be.
  • Paying more on your mortgage. Putting extra toward your mortgage loan — either each month or a few times a year — can help you pay down your balance and increase your share. Consider putting your annual tax refund toward your loan to really make a dent.
  • Renovating your home. Anything that improves your home’s value also increases your equity. Choose your projects wisely, and reach out if you need some help getting started.
  • Refinancing your loan. With a short-term loan, like a 15-year, you can pay down your balance faster (and sometimes get a lower rate as well). This can help you build equity more quickly.

Do you have questions about home equity? Or are you planning to buy or sell property this year? Reach out today.

8 DIY Garage Organization Ideas That Will Make the Best Use of Your Space

garage tools hanging on s-hooks that are suspended from copper pipes mounted on a wall

Garages can serve a multitude of purposes. Sure, they’re earmarked for cars but the added square footage always makes them an enticing zone for extra storage. It also doubles as a dumping ground for holiday decorations, old furniture, toys, you name it. Naturally, integrating an organizational system can be the difference between a cluttered area you can barely fit a car into and a streamlined zone that comfortably houses all of the odds and ends that you’ve accumulated over the years.

Now, while there may be a whole host of garage storage and organization products out there, we’re partial to a DIY project, which can offer a more customized approach with a design-friendly spin to boot. Another major plus? You can cater each project to a specific need and spot, which will allow you to maximize every available square inch. With that in mind, we set out to source a few clever solutions that took on garage storage with effortless flair.

1. Get to labeling

DIY garage organization idea with cabinet with labeled bins

Having dedicated garage storage and organization is half the battle — getting the family to stick to it is the other. Cue this easy DIY from Tidbits, which entails a cabinet outfitted with all of the essentials for keeping staples in check. Labeled pull-out bins mean no more excuses for misplaced items while bungee cords looped around a set of dowels help contain balls and toys in their respective areas.

2. Create a drop-off zone

DIY garage organization idea with art and shoe rack

Taryn Whiteaker transformed a lone corner of her garage into a certifiable mudroom courtesy of a little DIY project. The blogger paired a wall-mounted shelf with a set of milk crates to store hats, gloves, etc. She then completed the look by adding hooks (perfect for hanging backpacks and scarves) below the shelf and a stylish shoe rack.

3. Shelve it

DIY garage organization idea with garage shelving unit

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing DIY garage organization idea, Modern Builds has the ultimate solution: custom-built shelving. The four-tier unit is open and provides ample space, with assorted opportunities for holding everything from bulky containers and power tools to outdoor gear and generators.

4. Add some luster

DIY garage organization idea with tools hanging on s-hooks from copper pipes mounted on a wall

Not all garage storage and organization ideas need to entail plywood and pegboards. Cue this clever DIY by Trisha Sprouse, which uses a sleek set of copper pipes and matching S-hooks to deliver a handy hanging system for tools, accessories, and any other gear that comes your way.

5. Embrace the pegboard

DIY garage organization idea with pegboard with power tools above a work bench

Pegboards are as versatile a solution as any when it comes to garage storage and organization. Joann of Woman In Real Life installed one in her space to stash an assortment of tools — she even framed the pegboard so it would have a finished look. Below, the creative added a workbench, which can be folded down when not in use.

6. Hang your bikes

DIY garage organization idea with bikes hanging from garage ceiling

Bicycles can take up a lot of floor space in a garage, especially when you have an entire arsenal. Instead of giving up valuable square footage, follow Dream Green DIY’s lead and take to the ceilings with this easy hack. Secure a heavy-duty hook to a stud and use that to hang your bike up and out of the way.

7. Use the walls

DIY garage organization idea with elements hanging from the walls

This setup by Chris Loves Julia is pure goals when it comes to garage storage and organization. By installing GearWall panels, the couple was able to transform their walls with purpose, effectively maximizing the amount of excess space they had. From there, they added a series of hooks (some that even held up wire baskets!) to contain everything from bulky wires to ladders and more.

8. Line up your tools

DIY garage organization idea with tools and shovels on pvc pipe stand

If your garage functions as a space for outdoor storage, too, that can make things a little tricky. Finding a viable spot to store garden and landscaping tools is a tough job, but luckily, the bright minds behind Newly Woodwards have just what you need. Using cut PVC pipes attached to wooden boards, the creatives were able to fashion a sturdy landing spot for shovels and rakes, without taking up any floor space at all.

Do you have questions about home equity? Or are you planning to buy or sell property this year? Reach out today.


5 Myths About Selling a Home Right Now

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Are you curious about the state of the housing market? Like many homeowners, especially potential sellers, you may be hesitant to make a move because there’s a lot of uncertainty and speculation these days. 

But you don’t want to let false assumptions keep you from reaching your goals, now or in the future. 

Let’s clear up some common myths about what’s happening in real estate right now and what we’re likely to expect going forward.

  • Myth: Buyers are waiting to enter the market.

    Record-low mortgage rates mean it’s a great time to purchase a home, and buyers are actively engaging in the market.
  • Myth: Fall is the wrong season to sell.

    You’ve probably heard that it’s better to list in the spring or summer. But this fall is a seller’s market — and a highly active one at that.
  • Myth: Home prices are decreasing.

    Nearly every metro region saw price growth this year, with trends outpacing expectations. In fact, historically low mortgage rates could allow people to afford higher-priced homes, encouraging them to buy now.
  • Myth: You won’t be able to show your home.

    You can show your home safely by following the recommended precautions. Virtual home tours and private showings are also options. 
  • Myth: The real estate market is going to crash.

    It’s a common concern, but what’s happening today is different from the financial crisis of 2008. Experts are optimistic, as the economy remains fundamentally strong. The housing market looks solid for the foreseeable future, and there is no reason to abandon your plans. 

It’s easy for the truth about selling to get lost in the shuffle. If you’re curious about what else is happening in real estate, especially our local market, reach out today. 

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

Winter weather, especially in northern parts of the country, can cause major damage to homes. Roof leaks, lack of insulation or foundation issues can all have a massive impact on your quality of life and the ability to resell the home in the future. So how can you winterize your home?

Here are a few simple steps to get you started.

Add Attic Insulation

Many of us don’t consider the efficiency of our home’s insulation, but it can make all the difference in the winter. Before the season sets in, check out your attic to see whether there are any improvements you can make. There are a variety of products to choose from today.

Caulk Any Cracks

Inspect the inside and outside of your home. Look for cracks that might let cold air into the home during the winter months. You can repair these by using the right caulk to seal them and help keep your home better insulated.

Install Storm Windows and Doors

If your doors or windows are old, chances are they aren’t the most efficient option. Today there are plenty of environmentally friendly and insulative options on the market. Consider replacing your windows and storm doors with newer products.

Change Furnace Filters

Every season, before you run the furnace, it’s time to change the filters. They get clogged up from regular use and will affect the efficiency of your HVAC unit. Look at the furnace model to find out the best furnace filters to use.

Do you want to be in a new home this winter? Call us now.

Is This Your Situation: Looking for the Right Destination to Enjoy Your Retirement Years?

It’s tempting to go where most retirees decide to live out their golden years, but that may be the wrong decision for you. Of course, there are good reasons why places like Florida, North Carolina and Arizona are popular locations, but there are other factors to consider besides weather:

#1:  Nearby Care Facilities

It may be years away from now but when choosing a retirement home, you should think about finding one near high-quality care facilities. You are likely going to live in that home until you can’t live on your own any longer. If your health starts to fail or if you already have medical conditions, finding a place with nearby care facilities may be a higher priority than climate for you. 

#2: Amenities

Amenities make living the retirement lifestyle that much simpler. It is why so many retirees choose to purchase homes and condos in 55+ communities rather than investing in a new single family home. With a retirement home in one of those communities you could enjoy:

  • On-Site Activities
  • Entertainment
  • Fitness Centers
  • Swimming Pools
  • Tennis Courts
  • Party Gazebos
  • And More

#3: Proximity to Family

If something bad happens and you live thousands of miles away from your kids and grand kids who will be there to help you? Think about finding a home that is close enough to a nearby relative so that you have an emergency contact within an hour or so from your retirement home.

#4: Lifestyle

When choosing your retirement home, think about the type of lifestyle that it affords. Maybe you have always dreamed of living on a ranch out in Montana. But how will the lifestyle suit you? Will a ranch be too hard to maintain as you age? Will seclusion eventually wear on you? Spend time in your prospective retirement community to get a feel for the lifestyle to see if you would actually enjoy it long term.

#5: Affordability

Finally, affordability dictates most things. You can find really good bargains on real estate no matter what part of the country you choose to retire to. However, in more pricy markets, will your mortgage gobble up all of your incidental income?

Factor in your monthly expenses before settling on a house. You want nice but not so expensive that you will find yourself struggling to pay your bills once you get there.

These are just some of the factors that go into deciding which retirement home is best for you and your situation. Just remember, weather is not everything. For more information, feel free to contact me now.

5 Ways to Prepare to Buy or Sell Later

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Summer is usually the perfect time to buy or sell a home. And for some people, it still is. After all, there are few things more welcoming than warm weather and fresh flowers blooming in the front yard.

But maybe you’re waiting to enter the market. That’s okay too. There are plenty of ways you can use this time to your advantage.

If you’re considering buying or selling later this year or next, here are five things you can do in the meantime.

Get your finances in order. Take stock of your accounts, assets and debts, and pull your free credit report. Make sure you’re in good standing to qualify for a loan and make a down payment.

Watch the market. Keep an eye on local home sales where you’re considering buying. This can give you an idea of what you might spend on a home — or how you should price yours when you list it.

Save up for moving expenses. Moving isn’t cheap — especially if you’re going a far distance. Start saving for your movers, trucks, packing supplies and more.

Talk to a mortgage lender. Start zeroing in on which lender you might want to go with, and make sure you understand the requirements you’ll need to meet to get a loan. You may also want to get preapproved before beginning your home search.

Prioritize your needs. If spending more time at home has made you reconsider your living space, take the time to figure out exactly what you’re looking for in a new home. Then we can discuss your options together. 

For more ways to prepare for buying or selling a home, get in touch today.

Essentials to Keep in Your Emergency Kit

Let’s face it: You can’t predict the future. That’s why having a fully stocked emergency kit is so important. No matter the time of year, it’s always better to play it safe.  

Would you and your family be prepared, just in case?  Putting essential supplies together doesn’t have to be a chore and can even be done fairly quickly. You just need a list and a plan.

Need ideas? See below for useful items in any situation. 

  • Communication: Stay connected even if you lose power. Try a hand-crank or battery-powered radio — preferably one with charging ability to keep your devices running. 
  • Lighting: A flashlight and batteries are a must. Get a few different types, like lanterns, floodlights and key chains. You never know how much light you’ll need or where you’ll need to take it. You can also stash a few candles and some matches.
  • Food and Water: Pack at least three days’ worth of water, nonperishable foods and canned goods — and don’t forget the can opener. Think beans, nuts and seeds, protein bars and dried fruit.  
  • First-Aid Supplies: You’ll want a first-aid kit, complete with bandages, gauze, burn cream, antiseptic, sterile gloves, safety pins and more. Pain relievers and an extra supply of prescription medications are important, too.
  • Clothing and Bedding: Every family member will need a few changes of clothes and portable bedding like sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.
  • Miscellaneous Items: Cash, personal documents and paper maps might not seem essential now, but they could come in handy. Other nice-to-have items include duct tape, cleaning products and a multi tool.

There’s no telling what the future may bring, so it’s important to be prepared for anything. Get in touch today for more home safety tips.

Is the highest bid the best bid?

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An offer on your home moves you one step closer to the finish line in the selling process. And if you’re lucky, you’ll receive multiple offers from a range of bidders. 

The highest bid is the obvious choice, right? Not necessarily. Here’s what to consider before moving forward on an offer:

Focus on your priorities. Take this step early, before any offers roll in. Make a list of what’s most important to you in the sale of your home, like a tight moving deadline or your financial needs. Are there any requests that would make an offer a deal breaker for you? 

Review the contingencies. Now that you’ve established your top priorities, determine your bidders’ conditions for the sale. Common contingencies for potential buyers include a property appraisal and a home inspection. 

Compare earnest money amounts. People who are interested in purchasing your home need to show you that their offer is made in good faith. An earnest money deposit proves the buyer is serious about the transaction. The more money they put into the deposit, the more likely they are to be able to back it up with financing.

Be aware of unusual requests. A bidder could ask you to make unnecessary repairs or leave all your appliances in the home for them. Their offer might be high, but if something unusual interferes with your top priorities, it might be best to move on to another option. Together, we’ll carefully read over their requests and discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Are you ready to get a great offer on your home? Get in touch today.

Tips for Choosing the Right Neighborhood

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Finding a home that suits you is only part of the journey. Another big part? Choosing the right neighborhood.

The number of bedrooms and square footage are certainly important when buying a home — but the community might be even more vital. 

After all, it’s where you’ll likely exercise and socialize, where your kids will grow up and go to school and, ultimately, where you’ll put down roots and build a life.

Are you ready to look for a new home? Here’s how you can find the right neighborhood:

  • Know your needs. If walk ability is high on your list, make sure the neighborhood offers plenty of paths to explore. Is your commute to work a big factor? How long will it be? What are your thoughts on homeowners associations?
  • Do some research. Take some time to look into the community. Check out school district ratings and look at nearby listings to see home values. Reach out to learn what else the community offers.
  • Check out online groups. Pull up any neighborhood groups you can find on social media. Does the online community seem friendly? You can also search for a neighborhood newsletter or local events.
  • Take a self-guided tour. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of day to get a feel for its character. Can you see yourself living there? If you’re buying from out of town, you can hop on Google Maps and take a virtual walk. 

And if you’re ready to take an online tour or see a home in person, get in touch today. Together we’ll find the right home and neighborhood for you.

Posted in Events Life Listings Real Estate by Being BOB. No Comments

What to Know About Replacing Kitchen Appliances Before Selling Your House

should you replace appliances before selling your home

While selling a house can pad out your pocketbook, depending on how much equity you have invested in the home, it’s an unfortunate truth that it can also cost you money in the short term to make the sale. Items like home renovations and staging may need to be paid for upfront before you’ve even received an offer from a buyer. 

Savvy home sellers will consult their real estate agent before making any big changes to their home. Why? Because not all home renovation investments are worth it! In fact, in some cases, you may lose money! 

Replacing appliances may not be a full-on renovation, but it’s still a major expense and should be considered carefully before proceeding. After all, if you purchase appliances and they don’t add to your home’s ultimate sale price, then what’s the point?

How to Decide Whether the Appliances Stay or Go

The first decision you’ll need to make is whether or not to leave the appliances when you move. If you know you’ll need appliances in your new home, you may be tempted to take them – which can be a viable option, but you’ll want to make sure your real estate agent knows so they can update your listing accordingly. 

The second factor to consider when determining if you’ll take the appliances is who your potential buyers are. Large homes in great school districts may attract lots of families. If you think that’s the case, you may consider leaving the appliances. Families will likely attach value to having a home that’s fully move-in ready and won’t require a major expenditure upfront. 

However, if you think your home is more appealing to young couples and professionals, appliances may not be at the top of their wish list – in which case, you might consider taking them and not replacing them at all. 

Finally, you should think about the overall look of your kitchen. If the current appliances are dated, but so is the rest of the kitchen, a potential buyer may opt to remodel the entire space – in which case, removing the appliances may actually represent an expense for the buyer. 

You should always check with your real estate agent before making a major decision such as whether to take your current home’s appliances. They’ll be able to guide you toward a choice that makes the most sense for you, while also helping you get the most money for your home.

Tips for Replacing Appliances

If you do decide to replace appliances, you’ll want to follow a few guidelines to make a smart purchase that adds value to your home. 

Match the Appliances to Your Home

If the rest of your kitchen is finished luxuriously, make sure the appliances are just as high-end! Likewise, overly luxurious appliances in an otherwise dated kitchen may simply call attention to the fact that the kitchen hasn’t been renovated since the early 1960s. Matching the quality level of the appliances to the quality level of the kitchen is critical.

Purchase a Set

In general, you’ll want to ensure that any appliances that are staying (stove, refrigerator, built-in microwave, dishwasher, etc) form a matching set. If you can’t or don’t want to purchase a matching set, consider the quality level and styling of the appliances. A white refrigerator in a kitchen otherwise outfitted with stainless steel will stand out. 

Value-Add Appliances

You want to choose appliances that add to your home’s overall value. In some cases (for example, if the existing appliances are very old or non-functional), simply replacing your appliances with clean, working, energy-efficient versions will be enough. However, if your home is in a higher-end market, chef’s quality appliances may be required to add value. 

Selling Your Home – With or Without New Appliances

While the appliances in your home’s kitchen can definitely have an impact on whether or not your house sells (and for how much), the real determining factor in selling a home is working with a great real estate agent! An agent who’s a neighborhood expert will be able to tell you more about the types of buyers you might attract, the quality and condition of other kitchens in comparable homes, and so much more. 

Before you start thinking about updating your home for sale, we recommend talking to a Howard Hanna real estate agent. We’re local experts who value deep neighborhood knowledge. Get started – find a real estate agent near you today.

How A Home Inspection Helps Buyers Evaluate A House

You’ve found the home of your dreams and you’re ready to make an offer on it – congratulations! After celebrating the moment, it’s important to prepare for the work needed to complete the purchase. This includes completing any inspections on your possible future home.

A basic home inspection provides a general overview of the condition of a house, especially its key components such as household appliances and systems. This basic inspection of a house might reveal red flags. In these cases, you’ll want to schedule additional tests and get a deeper look into a house before making a final offer on it.

To ensure that an inspection is thorough and helpful, you will want to work with your real estate agent as you determine what needs to be evaluated. Then, as needed, you can follow up on these potential results:

Furnace Inspections and Repairs

During a standard home inspection, an inspector will review the overall condition of the boiler or furnace. They will also review any previous service tags, which reflect the history of maintenance conducted over time. In many cases, a furnace will just need a good cleaning and a simple tune-up as part of a sale. However, if an inspector discovers defects such as cracks or heating issues due to system deficiencies, they will typically recommend a specialist come to conduct a more in-depth analysis. If this recommendation is made, follow up on it to protect yourself from a potential system failure later on.

HVAC System Inspections and Repairs

One thing you always want in great condition is a home’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC). During a standard home inspection, the inspector will review this system to ensure it is in working order. They will then report any signs that the equipment is not performing at its peak efficiency. As with all other parts of a home inspection, any recommendations for repairs should be considered as you and your agent negotiate your final offer on a house.

Water Heater Inspections and Repairs

When a water heater malfunctions, the results can become dangerous. Home inspectors aim to avoid this by checking a water heater for problems such as valve installation issues, clogged discharge lines, and corrosion and rust. Depending on the condition of a water heater, as well as its age, the inspector will make recommendations for any necessary next steps, which could range from simple repairs to a full replacement. Be sure to bring these recommendations to your real estate agent! That way, they can be discussed as you continue to negotiate on your offer to buy the house.

Home Appliance Inspections and Repairs

A malfunctioning appliance, like a water heater, can contribute to damage or dangerous situations in a house. That said, only some appliances are covered during a home inspection! Specifically, “built-in” appliances that are permanently attached to the home will be examined.

While things such as microwaves and refrigerators are not typically covered, you can expect an inspector to review a house’s wall ovens, ranges, surface cooktop appliances, built-in microwave ovens, dishwashers, and food waste disposals. An inspector will also provide specific recommendations as needed for each individual appliance.

Electrical Safety Inspections and Repairs

While electrical safety is a bigger concern in older homes, electrical issues can develop in any house at any time. Ensuring that all electrical systems are properly grounded to prevent fire, shock, and damage to appliances is an essential part of every home inspection. Inspectors will also take a look at circuit breakers, wiring, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and outlets to make sure they’re working and aren’t potential fire hazards. Any next steps recommended to address electrical issues will be specific to each inspection. Whatever recommendations you receive, take them seriously and review them with your agent.

Structural Inspections and Repairs

The structural health of a house is what will help that house continue to stand – quite literally! That’s why inspectors will take the time to review structural components for obvious signs of damage. From cracking in the foundation to rot damage in the walls and deterioration in the floors, there are many ways an inspector can determine if any structural damage exists. If it does, you’ll want to review that information with your agent, as well as review it at the negotiating table.

Roof Inspections and Repairs

The roof of a house is exposed to the elements every single day, so it’s not uncommon for a roof inspection to reveal some degree of wear and tear. However, minor issues can become big issues that lead to damage inside a house. Finding out exactly what damage exists is important so that it can be repaired in a timely manner. Home inspectors will also often check to ensure that the roof structure is able to handle the stress associated with snow and other natural occurrences.

As a home buyer, your priority is to find out from your inspection whether or not a full roof repair will be necessary in the near future. If the answer is yes, you and your agent will need to discuss the issue and how it could affect the amount of your offer as you negotiate the final details surrounding the purchase of the house.

What To Do With All Those Recommendations

A home inspection is a big deal. That said, it’s OK if a house that you love doesn’t score 100% on a home inspection checklist! Instead, aim to have an experienced home inspector provide detailed and accurate information about the property you are planning to purchase. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re purchasing, and can plan for your future more confidently.

Don’t forget that you can also bring all of your home inspection questions to your real estate agent! Agents are trained to help you with every part of the buying process, and will not only help you evaluate the house you want to buy, but will help you use the information from its inspection to negotiate your way to the best deal possible. Agents can also help you purchase additional protection plans for your house, including insurance and home warranties – allowing you to fully prepare for the big move into your new home.

No matter where you are in your buyer’s journey, it’s never too late to begin working with an agent. Contact us today if you’re looking for assistance finding the perfect home!

Decorating with Fall Color Schemes

What does autumn represent to you? For a lot of people, fall is their favorite season. The world is open to new colors and textures that represent comfort and coziness. The colors most associated with this season are brown, red, orange, and gold. The season is also all about textures, like cable knit, dry grasses, and crunchy leaves. You may not want to bring the forest floor into your home, but you can easily incorporate a fall color scheme.

Rustic Reds

Red is often considered a bold color, but that usually depends on how it’s used or what it’s paired with. For example, if you keep red limited to accessories, it actually can add a bright accent to a neutral room. If you paint your walls red, you’re creating a dramatic landscape for your entire design aesthetic. Red is a great choice if you’re not afraid of color.

Warm Oranges

Similarly, many people avoid orange in their homes. It really can add warmth to your design. Stay away from bright neon colors and instead try softer tones with a more autumn aesthetic, such as burnt orange. Orange is ideal for kitchens and living spaces and can even create a warm and comfy bedroom oasis.

Brilliant Golds

When we talk about gold in terms of autumn colors, we don’t mean bright metallic colors. A golden-hued paint that you would find in nature like fallen leaves or goldenrod can add richness to your room and design. Think along the lines of a camel color when you’re selecting furniture and accessories. Gold can function as part of a neutral color palette as well.

Decadent Browns

Although you may not choose to paint your walls brown, brown color tones make great accents in furniture and other accessories around your house. Brown pairs well with all of the fall colors to create a warm autumn look. Brown can be light, such as beige, or really rich and decadent, such as chestnut.

If you love working with fall colors year-round, let us know how you plan to incorporate these colors into your design. For other ideas about a color scheme for your home, contact us today.

Kitchen Hacks to Love

Kitchen design, organization and ease of use are at the top of our minds. Your kitchen might even be the most used room in your house and a lot of activity happens there. It’s not just about meals. It can be a gathering space or a place to work or study. Which of the following tips can make working in your kitchen even easier?

Otherwise Unusable Spaces

If you want to maximize your kitchen’s storage potential, tap into your unused spaces. Is there a gap between the refrigerator and the wall? Put in a rolling storage cart for spices. Do you hate those false drawers under the sink? Create a pull-out for your sponge. Use toe-kick drawers near the floor for thin or flat items.

Helpful Magnets

Magnets can help in a lot of little ways. A magnetic spice rack can keep your spices organized and out of the way. A magnetic knife hanger is a great way to store your knives while still having them at your fingertips without taking up precious counter space.

Labels for Everything

Good storage is about organization and identification. Label things you use all the time. Do you have a container for tea and coffee? Create decorative labels or buy clear containers that can help you identify contents at a glance.

Over-the-Sink Cutting Board

Is your counter space at a minimum? Create or buy an over-the-sink cutting board. This surface not only will provide valuable space to work but also will make cleanup a breeze when you can just toss the food waste into the sink and garbage disposal.

Hanging Pots and Pans

Pots and pans often are large and in the way. Think about storing them vertically. Create a wall-hanging structure, if you have the wall space. If you have an island or other overhead area, you can install a hanging pot rack that is suspended from the ceiling.

Raised Storage

On your counters, consider raised storage to keep the space clear from clutter. For example, use a cake stand to store your salt, pepper and olive oil. This can provide a decorative solution and a useful way to access these items when you’re cooking.

More Shelves in Cabinets

Has it ever frustrated you that there is a lot of unused space in your cabinets? You can store your dishes using half the space by installing a free-standing platform shelf over your existing shelf. This is something you can easily make or buy and will prevent you from having to stack different-size plates on top of each other.

If you are dreaming of a more organized kitchen, call us today.

Quick Fixes You Can Do This Weekend!

If you’re short on time during the week, yet your house needs a couple of repairs, it’s easy to set aside a few minutes on a Saturday or Sunday to fix up your home. You can take advantage of a number of easy fixes to get your place back in working order without cutting into your time away from work. Here are nine quick 10-minute fixes you can do at home this weekend to revitalize your living space. 

  1. Grease Squeaky Doors – If you’re getting fed up with squeaky doors that creak every time you open or close them, take ten minutes to spray their hinges with WD-40 or rub on petroleum jelly. 
  2. Clean Smelly Garbage Disposals – If you’re put off by the smell coming from the garbage disposal in your kitchen, clean off food residue and eliminate odors with baking soda and vinegar. 
  3. Wash Stained Tubs – If you’ve been tolerating a stained tub for too long, apply a homemade paste made of cream of tartar, baking soda and lemon juice to rub off discoloration.
  4. Organize Tangled Cords – If you have one big wad of extension cords in your house, garage or both, take a few minutes on the weekend to separate and organize them with hooks or boxes.
  5. Tighten Leaky Faucets – If you’re looking to get rid of the annoying dripping sound coming from your bathroom, dedicate 10 minutes to stopping water waste at the source using a few replacement parts. 
  6. Conceal Floor Scrapes – If you’re feeling discouraged by the scuffs and gouges on your hardwood, tile, linoleum or other flooring, hide them away with stain markers that match the color of your floor.
  7. Lubricate Sticky Windows – If you’ve been putting up with windows that don’t slide open as easily as they have in the past, grease the skids with lubricant spray to open and close them with ease. 
  8. Freshen Musty Washing Machines – If you’re in the habit of leaving wet clothes in your washer, avoid moisture buildup by leaving the door open between loads and running routine cleansing cycles. 
  9. Paste Peeling Wallpaper – If your wallpaper is starting to peel off the wall on the edges, spend 10 minutes sticking the corners back onto the wall with wallpaper paste and a dry cloth.

These nine quick 10-minute fixes you can do at home this weekend revamp your house while enhancing your quality of life. They also help keep your home in tiptop shape if you’re thinking of selling it in the near future. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about caring for your household, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 

Upgrade to Enhance Your Outdoor Space

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How have you been spending your summer? Have you been tending to your garden, grilling dinner on the patio or taking dips in the pool?

No matter what your property offers or how you and your family like to spend your free time, there’s almost always something you can do to make your outdoor space more inviting and enjoyable.

Could your home’s exterior use some sprucing up? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Arrange a living area. Outfit your patio with weatherproof furniture, a bright rug and some cozy blankets. Take it a step further by propping up a projector screen for movie nights. 
  • Hang string lights. Inexpensive and easy to install, string lights provide instant ambiance to your deck, pergola or gazebo. You can even attach them along a fence corner to create an outdoor nook. 
  • Install stone pavers. Use pavers to design or add to an existing patio. Pick something that matches your home’s aesthetic. For example, if your style is rustic, you could try cobblestone pavers. For a modern look, go with classic gray concrete.
  • Build a porch swing. If you’re the handy type, you’ll just need a few pieces of wood, some rope and anchors to set up the perfect place to watch the sunset. Add cushions and pillows for an extra touch of comfort.
  • Add plants and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with greenery. Include hanging and potted flowers, or grow a small garden in a sunny spot. If you’re looking to add shade, plant a fast-growing tree or two. 

A beautiful outdoor space can make your home more enjoyable for you now and more marketable when it comes time to sell. For more value-adding ideas or info about the housing market, get in touch today.

Posted in Listings Real Estate Stuff by Being BOB. No Comments

Tack Some Extra Years Onto Your Lifespan

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You can do more for your health. And it’s not that hard.

Eat healthy foods. Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke. We hear these instructions from doctors, friends, parents, and strangers on the internet so often that the words start to lose their impact. And let’s face it, healthy habits are hard to adhere to. But perhaps if there’s proof they work, then they might be easier to swallow.

In a study in the journal Circulation, researchers studied five lifestyle factors that influence how long humans live. They researchers calculated that people who adhered to five things—drink no more than one glass of alcohol per day (two for men), maintain a healthy body weight, eat a high-quality diet, abstain from smoking, and exercise at a moderate-to-vigorous pace (think a brisk walk, at least) for 30 minutes or more a day—had a greater chance of living longer past age 50. Women who followed all five practices lived 14 years longer, on average, than peers who didn’t adhere to any of them. Men lived 12 years longer under the same conditions.

First, a High-Five

We are generally doing a pretty good job of keeping each other alive. As a nation, we are living far longer than we ever have in the past. Epidemiologists often judge life expectancy as the number of years you live after you reach the age of 50. Prior to that, deaths are often from diseases not associated with getting older like—like accidents or chronic illnesses such as cancer. Today, the average age that people who make it past 50 live is 83.3 for women and 79.8 for men. By many standards, that’s a good long life. In 1940, the life expectancy for all Americans was just 62.9 years. By 2000, it had reached 76.8, and then 78.8 in 2014.

Much of that jump can be attributed to improvements in the standard of living across our country, the fact that far less Americans nowadays smoke, and the great discoveries we’ve made in medicine.

But here’s the bad news: Despite our vast improvements over the last century, when we compare our current life expectancy to that of other rich nations, we aren’t doing so great. In fact, we have a shorter life expectancy than nearly every other wealthy country in the world. There are obviously other factors that could be at play. For one, the United States is the only rich country in the world that doesn’t provide universal health coverage to all its citizens. Access to healthcare is a known factor that contributes to prolonged health, infectious disease prevention, and chronic disease prevention and management. But the researchers behind the new study argue that America could get closer to the lifespans of other nations by making certain changes in their lifestyles.

The five that they found are what they call low-risk lifestyle-related factors. To identify them, they analyzed data from two large longitudinal studies—the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. These are projects that follow people’s lifestyles and track their health for a number of years. These took place for around 30 years, starting in 1980 and ‘83 and ending in 2014. Here’s the five conclusions they found, and the scientific evidence we have to support on each one.

A Healthy Weight

To understand the influence of weight, researchers focused on people’s body mass index, or BMI. That number is a comparison of a person’s height and their weight. You can calculate your own by dividing your weight by your height squared. BMI can be tricky, though. Doctors use it to get a rough estimate of body fat, but for any one individual person, it can be fairly inaccurate. Athletes with high levels of muscle or elderly people with low levels of muscle can get BMIs that do not represent their level of body fat, and not all fat is created equal—some people carry their extra weight in more dangerous places than others. However, when the population number you are studying gets high enough, the outliers average out and BMI paints a far more accurate picture, though still not a perfect one.

What the researchers found was not incredibly surprising. People with BMIs between 18.5 and 22.9 had a higher chance of living longer than those who had BMIs outside that range.

We pretty much knew this already, and it makes sense. Carrying around excess fat can change the way your cells work, causing conditions like type two diabetes, and make more work for your cardiovascular system, which eventually makes you more susceptible to high blood pressure.

The cool thing about body weight, though, is that even small levels of weight loss can mean big differences in health. Research shows that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. More weight loss can lead to an even greater reduction in these risks—up to a point. Being too thin can be detrimental to your health as well. For example, not having enough fat can prevent the movement of hormones throughout the body. That’s why it’s important to work with a doctor when attempting major weight loss.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

The researchers also found that people who consumed a moderate amount of alcohol had a better chance of living longer than those who were heavy drinkers. They defined moderate alcohol consumption as five to 15 grams per day for women and five to 30 grams per day for men. According to the National Institutes of Health, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That equates to 12 fluid ounces of beer, eight of malt liquor, five of table wine, and 1.5 of distilled spirits.

The available evidence around moderate drinking is tricky. Researchers have solid evidence to say that heavy drinking can absolutely be detrimental to your health. But the line between moderate drinking and abstaining from alcohol altogether is fuzzy. Whether people who moderately drink fare better than people who abstain is even murkier. We still don’t have a solid study with enough participants to back that up. For now, it’s safe to say that moderate drinking will not cause you severe harm, but whether it’s better for your health than abstaining remains to be seen. If you’re trying to make the absolute best health decisions based on the available evidence, the smartest move is probably to drink very little or not at all.

A High-Quality Diet

Over the past 100 years, we’ve gotten really, really good at understanding the mechanisms through which the human body works, and engineering medications that fix things when various bodily functions go awry. But in the process, we’ve mostly neglected the preventative health benefits of simply adhering to a healthy diet.

To understand the influence of the foods the participants ate on their health, the researchers used something called the Alternate Healthy Eating Index Score. It breaks foods down into their various components. For example, lasagna can break down into ground beef, ricotta cheese, onions, and so on. The cheese is further broken down into a dairy component and a fat component. Points—on a scale of one to 10—were assigned to the participants; a 10 meant total adherence to the recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, red meat, sugar, and so on. Those recommendations are already associated with a reduced risk of various diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Participants who scored in the top 40 percent were deemed healthy eaters. Nutrition studies are, of course, hard to do because of all the other factors that could contribute, like exercise, stress, and environmental factors. And human test subjects are notoriously bad at accurately reporting their own eating habits. But, there’s good research to show that poor diets have a direct influence on various factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight. To date, the best diet to follow is probably the Mediterranean diet, however, if you focus on eating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods most of the time, you are doing great things for your health. Just find a nutritional plan you can stick to—enjoying unhealthy things occasionally in moderation is much better than periodically failing hard at your strict diet.

Not Smoking

We used to think smoking was benign, or even good for us (thanks, tobacco lobby!). Doctors smoked and often recommended cigarettes to their patients to reduce stress or lose weight. But those days are long over. Solid evidence shows smoking significantly increases your chances of lung cancer as well as other lung and heart diseases. The decline in smoking over the past 50 or so years is a major reason the average lifespan in America has gone up. Let’s not ever reverse that. If you want to live longer and you’re still smoking (or vaping, for that matter)—well, that doesn’t make much sense. Do whatever you can to stop.

Exercise Daily

In the study, researchers found that those who exercised for at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate to vigorous pace (including brisk walking) were in the lowest-risk group for developing certain diseases later in life, and thus they had the potential to live longer.

Exercise does two main things: it boosts metabolism and contributes to weight loss or weight stability. Those two factors significantly increase your chances of living longer. But researchers are finding a whole bunch of other things that happen in your body when you exercise, like the creation of new heart cells and an increase in bone strength. One recent study suggests that even if you have a family history of heart disease, exercise can reduce your risk. Working out can boost your mood, too. Trying to remember how good you will feel after you exercise could help you get going.

How Things Accumulate

The key takeaway from this study is that the more of these lifestyle factors people adhered to, the more likely they were to live longer after hitting 50. However, the researchers say, this is on a population level. To better understand people on an individual level, the researchers want to study smaller groups with known certain conditions, like those who had been diagnosed with cancer previously or those with known cardiovascular disease. How large of a benefit do these five lifestyle factors have on those specific populations? More of those studies will help researchers and doctors determine what you should do to live a long and healthy life. But in the meantime, you’ll have a hard time finding a doctor who will tell you not to follow the practices listed above. So let’s get cracking.

Posted in Life Stuff by Being BOB. No Comments