Friday, May 17, 2019

How to Use Your Spring Cleaning to Help Others

Spring Cleaning – whether you do much or a little, provides the opportunity to clean up your home and give to others. Your unwanted furniture, clothes or kids toys can be used by a multitude or organizations in a way that will positively affect those in your community.  Here are a few ways to give back.
1.     Assess Your Donations

It’s a good idea to go through your donations and decide what would really benefit someone and what needs to be thrown away.  Some items can’t be donated for safety or health reasons such as household chemicals and mattresses. Fragrances and cosmetics are often not accepted by thrift stores for sanitary reasons as well. Call ahead before donating bulky appliances as they may be too difficult for thrift stores to handle.

Baby items such as cribs, car seats and strollers can only be donated if they meet the current safety standards and are not subject to a recall.  Call ahead before donating these items.

2.     Figure Out Where to Donate
Goodwill and The Salvation Army are national organizations that take used items and use them to benefit the community through thrift store sales or donations. For larger items you can contact them and arrange a time for a pick up.
Habitat for Humanity ReStores sell new and gently used furniture, décor and appliances at discounted prices.
You can also contact organizations like homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and pregnancy centers to see if they have specific needs.

Check and recheck your donations before dropping them off to be sure no unintended items are included.  

Friday, May 10, 2019

Protect Your Garden From The Heat

You’ve planted and pruned, weeded and worked, now the sun is beating down and your plants seem to be wilting under the rays.  What can you do?  Turns out - a lot!  Here are a few steps to take to protect your garden from the heat.

1. Protect your plants with mulch. Mulch will help keep the moisture in the soil and suppress the growth of weeds.
2. Pull the weeds that show up in your garden - they are stealing the moisture and nutrients your plants need.
3. Water in the morning before the heat of the day. This is better than in the evening when the moisture could cause fungus to take hold.
4. Keep your grass taller - it will cast longer shadows and its healthier for your lawn during the summer months.
5. Utilize irrigation hoses and soakers to slowly deliver water to the plant’s roots.

What do you do to protect your garden from the heat?  

Friday, May 3, 2019

How to Invest Your Tax Refund Back Into Your Home

Was Uncle Sam good to you this year and now you have a tax refund to spend? If you’re looking to invest in your new home there are several ways you can make the most of your additional cash.
Curb Appeal
-        Enhance the look of your home from the outdoors with some new shrubbery, porch furniture or an updated front door.
-        Build up a homeowner maintenance stash of light bulbs, air filters, and batteries. Build a tool kit from small projects around the house.
-        Improve the overall home environment with an air purification system.
Energy Savings
-        Spend money to save money by upgrading to Energy Star appliances, add blinds or window treatments, change out your thermostat for a programmable type.
Outdoor Living
-        Create an outdoor living space or add furniture to make your current outdoor space more appealing.
-        Need to free up some time? Consider a lawn service or cleaning help.  Enjoy your home and family more if you can afford to pay for these services.
How do you plan on using your tax refund?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Preparing Yourself for the Spring Home Buying Season

April and May tend to be the most popular months for new home buyers and sellers.  The good news? More inventory! The bad news – less time to decide and more competition!  So be prepared and you won’t miss out on your dream home!
Know what you can afford and speak with a lender. Any offer you make will be more appealing with a pre-approval from a mortgage lender.
Have your down payment ready. Most loans require a 20% down payment in order to not require additional mortgage fees.  Having your down payment already saved means being able to move quickly once your offer is accepted.
Research the neighborhoods you want to be in, the type of home you want and the builders you trust to build a quality home.
If you have a home to sell make sure you have it already listed or ready to list as soon as you find the home you want. Begin the decluttering process so you can have it open house ready as soon as possible.
Spring is an excellent time to buy so make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to buy your dream home!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Spring Cleaning Tips For When You’re Too Busy to Clean

Spring Cleaning – some love it and some hate it, but it’s a common ritual this time of the year.  If you choose to join in the spring cleaning fun here are some tips to help you speed up the process so you enjoy the rest of your spring!
1.     Focus on a big impact. Choose the areas that cause you the most headaches and tackle those first. Think about where you spend the most time and start there.
2.     Clean in allotted blocks of time. You don’t have to commit to a full day or weekend of cleaning. Give yourself 15 or 30 minute blocks during the day to get projects done.
3.     Bring a bin into each room for random clutter that doesn’t have a good place to go. It can be dealt with later once it’s all collected from over the house.
4.     Use an all purpose cleaner – perfect for bathrooms and the kitchen alike.
5.     Create a daily routine. Instead of waiting on a change in the seasons to deep clean, clean a little each day to keep the chores from building up.
What tips and hacks do you have for spring cleaning?  Do you love it or hate it?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

What Not To Do To Sell Your Home

You’ve found your dream home – your new home – and the only thing you need to do now is sell your current home.
Of all the things you should do – have you thought about what not to do?  Here are a few things you need to make sure NOT to do!
1.      Don’t have pets in the home when potential buyers are coming to look at your home.  Barking dogs, pet hair or scratching pets can turn buyers off from really seeing the home.
2.     Take down any potentially divisive memorabilia whether political or sports related. There is no gain in creating negative associations in the home over even seemingly minor décor choices.
3.     Even if you didn’t have time to clean as well as you wanted, don’t leave a room off limits or locked. Let potential buyers see the whole home.
4.     Too much clutter, too many family photos or knick knacks will take away from the overall look of your home. De-personalize your home so buyers can picture themselves living there.
5.     Another major turn off for buyers – sellers who won’t leave! When you have a showing giving the shoppers plenty of privacy and space to evaluate the home without your watchful eye following their every move!
What selling turn offs have you experienced when shopping for a new home?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New Homes and Taxes

If this is your first tax season in your new home you’ll be looking forward to some positive effects on your tax return.
Although there were many changes in the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation – deducting mortgage interest is still an option, although only on amounts up to $750,000 in qualified residence loans.  Interest on home equity loans can only be claimed if the loan was used toward home improvements.
This is an important deduction since many other options are off the table with the new changes including restrictions on home offices, theft and property damage and tougher rules on itemized giving deductions.
It is important to find a tax preparer who understand s the new changes to the tax code and can help you maximize the benefits you’ll receive as a homeowner.
What will you plan to do with your tax refund? Do you have any home improvements on the list?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Spring Yard Prep

As winter winds to a soggy end most of us are looking forward to the arrival of warmer temperatures and spring days!
To help your yard get out of its winter dormancy and ready for the spring growing season here are a few steps you can take.
-        Remove any leaves or debris that might be on your lawn blocking access to sunlight – this can best be achieved by a spring raking
-        Apply a fertilizer
-        Overseed patches of heavy wear and bare spots
-        Use a preemergent weed killer to prevent seeds of problem weeds from germinating
Following these few steps can help ensure a beautiful and lush spring lawn.  What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy the Spring season?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Defining spaces in open concept homes

For years now the trend in home design has been towards open concept homes and there seems to be no end in sight for this type of home layout.
While open concept homes have their benefits such as increased light, easier flow and the ability to make a home feel larger than it is, there are some drawbacks – mainly in attempting to define the spaces in your home.
How can you distinguish your living room from your eating area? Your den from the study?
Here are a few ideas:
-        Flooring – Use changes in flooring as a way to distinguish between rooms. This may come in the use of area rugs or choosing hardwood over carpet
-        Lighting – Areas such as the dining space can take advantage of more dramatic lighting to set the tone for the room
-        Paint – Use different paint colors to distinguish between rooms – fun and playful for the kids space or formal for the sitting area
-        Furniture – Arrange your furniture in such a way that it creates cozy spaces. Sectionals can create a built in sitting area. Use sofa tables to transition from the living area to eat-in-kitchen
What creative ways have you used to define the space in your open concept home?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Conserve Energy This Winter

The groundhog’s prediction could turn this around but for the time being more cold temperatures are forecasted to be on their way.  So what can you do besides crank up the heat? Here are a few ways to save money and stay warm!
1.     Keep your filters clean! Your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard if the filters allow it to function properly.
2.     Make use of a programmable thermostat or manually adjust the temperature to be cooler while you’re away.
3.     Keep your blinds or curtains on south facing windows open to let in some warmth from the sun.
4.     Dress in layers and be sure to always wear socks – or invest in some good cozy slippers!
5.     Heat only the rooms your are in. Close doors or vents for rooms that you don’t use.
With these easy energy saving tips you can save money and stay warm this winter.
What tips do you use to keep utility costs low in the winter?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

More Reasons to Buy a Brand New Home

There are so many reasons to buy a brand new home instead of a home that has been previously been lived in.
There may be a few you haven’t considered such as…
Living free of concerns about home repairs for at least a year. Your builders warranty provides peace of mind that you won’t spend the first year of your homeownership making repairs and fixing old materials. This frees up time and money!
You can choose the floorplan that works best for your family.  Look for number of bedrooms or common living space. Have more control over the type of home you really want.
New homes are built to the latest building codes which help to make homes safe and healthier.  New homes are made without harmful toxins such as lead or asbestos.
The latest construction techniques and building materials make for a more energy efficient home – making you more comfortable and saving you money each month on utility costs.
These are just a few of the benefits to buying a brand new home.  What are your reasons?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 Color of the Year

Pantone’s color of the year has been announced and this year the prestigious title goes to “Living Coral” described as “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone”.
The choice of the vibrant color is in response to our ever increasing dependence on technology by providing a humanizing and lively presence.
Pantone’s color of the year choices have been influencing products and design for 20 years.  Selections are determined based on worldwide color influences.
So how can you include this new hue in your home décor?
It’s bright and tropical feel make for great accents including pillows, throws, in window coverings or woven through rugs.
Spice up your kitchen with Living Coral inspired dishes and serving ware.
Put a coral blanket overtop a white duvet to brighten up and set the stage for a cheery guest room.
How will you incorporate the 2019 color of the year in your home?

Friday, January 11, 2019

New Year’s Resolutions for the Homeowner

You may have already made – and broken – your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions but have you ever considered making them for your home?  Here are a few ideas for rejuvenating and renewing your home this year.
1.     Declutter – Enjoy your home more by being able to really see it. Get rid of the things you don’t need, especially if you haven’t used it in the last year.

2.     Save Money and Save Energy – Unplug appliances that aren’t being used and turn off lights when not in the room. Switch to LED light bulbs and low flow faucets.

3.     Stay Safe and Healthy – Change out your smoke detector batteries and air filters.  Consider investing in a air purification system or just some nice live plants.

4.     Update Your Look – Take advantage of new year home sales to freshen up your home with new rugs, curtains or bath towels. Small changes can make a big difference.

5.     Relax – Make a space where you can unwind. Your master bath, a nook in the bonus room or hideaway on the back porch. Find a place where you can enjoy your home and appreciate all the blessings of this new year.
What are your homeowner resolutions this year?