Friday, December 30, 2016

Working Out in the New Year

One of the most common New Years Resolutions is to lose weight and get in shape after the Holiday splurges of cake, cookies and extravagant dinners!

You can do this without buying an expensive gym membership or even clearing out your office to make a home gym.

With just a few pieces of equipment you can effectively and efficiently work out at home.

1. Resistance Bands

2. Workout Mat (Yoga Mat)

3. Jump Rope

4. Adjustable Dumbbells

5. Kettle Ball

Store your equipment in an ottoman or with some dedicated shelves.  For hidden space stick it under the bed.

If you're looking for what to do with your equipment simply put on a YouTube video or go to the many fitness channels available on Roku or Apple TV.

What are your fitness goals for this year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quick Christmas Treats

Merry Christmas!  The shopping, get-togethers, travel, and holiday parties have arrived. With only a few days to go it may feel overwhelming - but no fear! We have quick festive treats you can put together without ever turning on an oven.

So relax and enjoy this wonderful time of year!

Take regular brownies and make them festive with green icing, sprinkles and candy cane accents!

For a sweet treat that's healthy too - use grapes, bananas, strawberries and marshmallows!

Snowmen liven up any party with donuts, mini chocolate chips and candy corn 

Roll up cranberrie, feta cheese and onion in a tortilla for a tangy treat

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Interest Rate Increases

According to the latest reports, the Federal Reserve is planning a series of gradual increases to its federal fund rate - a decision that will lead to an increase in interest rates for home mortgages.  While this has made for glaring headlines for some - the real concerns about this change are over rated.

The housing industry has been aware for years that the current interest rate levels were unsustainable and put into place only to assist a struggling housing market.  Housing is now back on its feet and will be able to weather gradual changes to the interest rates.

So what do you do as a buyer?  Plan.

Evaluate your budget in light of possible interest rate increases. A good rule of thumb is that for every .05% increase in interest rate, there is a $100 increase to the monthly mortgage payment cost on a 30 year mortgage - for a home that costs about $300,000.  This may help you plan for your monthly payments depending on what price home you are looking to buy.

Ensuring that your credit score is is in the best shape possible is one way to lower the cost of your mortgage.  Pay off any outstanding debts before looking to acquire a mortgage and don't make any other large purchases prior to buying a new home.

Save more!  Save more for a down payment to help offset any additional monthly payment costs due to increases in interest rates.

The best way to prepare for changes in the housing market is to understand your total financial picture and talk with financial companies and builders you trust.  Ask the experts for their opinion and learn from their experiences in the always changing housing industry!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shopping for New Homeowners

Looking to shop for the new homeowners in your life? There are great ideas everywhere!  Finish off your Christmas shopping with this list of homeowner gift ideas.

1.  A Welcome Mat - Spruce up the entrance of their new home

2.  Return Address Stamp - A thoughtful way for them to send out "We've Moved" letters

3. Personalized Cutting Board - Personalize a common kitchen need - cutting boards!

4.  Garden Basket - Include necessities like work gloves, hand tools and watering can

5.  Throw Blanket - Nothing cozies up a new home like throw blankets - seasonal patterns welcome

6.  Homeowners Manual - Full of useful information on common warranty issues

7.  Basic Tool Set - Screwdrivers, a hammer, nails and pliers

8.  House Plant - Something low maintenance would be best

9.  Christmas Ornament - New homeowner ornament for the tree

10.  Movie Basket - Help them enjoy their new home with popcorn, a movie and favorite candy snacks

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Helping During the Holidays

Christmas is a magical time of year for many - full of visits with family, gifts, favorite meals and memories.  For some, however, it's a time of need, want and sadness. There are many ways to share your blessings this holiday season. You may just find that giving back is the best gift you give all year!

The Salvation Army - We all know the familiar sound of the bells and the sight of the red kettles. The money donated to The Salvation Army goes to supporting the homeless, hurting and hungry all year long.  They also have an Angel Tree program where you can adopt a local child in need and provide clothing and gifts for Christmas.

Toys for Tots - A program run by the U.S. Marines, Toys for Tots collects toys for underprivileged children and distributes them in the community where they are collected. To find a drop off location for your donations visit HERE

St. Jude Children's Hospital - During the Holiday season, St. Jude Children's Hospital makes a push for donations to support their continued efforts at fighting childhood illness and disease. There are many ways to donate and even Holiday themed merchandise to purchase. Click HERE to find out more.

Disaster Relief - The recent wildfires in Tennessee have hit many in the Southeast hard as the locations of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are treasured vacation destinations for many.  Financial donations are most needed and can be given in many ways including through the Red Cross HERE

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a minute and simply say thank you.

To our employees, our sub-contractors, and especially our homeowners.

Having the opportunity to build a home for your families and memories is an honor that we do not take for granted.

So on behalf of everyone here at Paradime Construction, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Selling During the Holidays

If you're current home is keeping you from moving on to your new, dream home - don't worry! You don't have to wait for the spring buying season to sell!  It is possible to sell your home during the Holidays and we can show you how.

Although November through January is often the most difficult time to sell, it does have it's advantages.  Buyers during these months are more serious about finding a home and you're less likely to have too many people who are "just looking".  There are also fewer homes on the market which means less competition!

- Holiday decor can make a home really shine but don't go overboard. Keep decorations tasteful and minimal.

- With leaves falling and grass going dormant it's important to keep your exterior of your home looking its best. Touch up paint and fix any visible cracks.

- Make sure to choose an agent who is willing to work during the holidays and will take showings at busy family times.

- Price your home competitively. Don't encourage buyers to wait for price cuts in the Spring. Consider incentives for quick closings.

- Create a strong online presence. Weather and family obligations make online home shopping even more important.  Have photos and videos that thoroughly show off your home's best features.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Slow Cooking Thanksgiving!

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful for many reasons but preparing and cooking a once-in-a-year meal ranks right up there at the top! It seems impossible to have everything cooked and ready to eat at the same time!

This year make use of your crockpot like never before. It will leave you more space in the oven and can be trusted to cook at least one of your menu items with minimal work from you!

Mashed Potatoes
- Wash and cut potatoes into bite size pieces (use 3 lbs)
- Add to crockpot with 1 cup of chicken stock
- Place 1/4 cup of butter - cut into cubes, on top
- Sprinkle 3 cloves of minced garlic on top
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours
- Mash and add in milk to achieve level of creaminess desired.
- Add salt and pepper to taste

- Cook celery and onion in butter over medium heat in saucepan
- Once softened remove from heat
- Add 1 package of seasoned bread cubes to slow cooker
- Pour in 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken stock
- Add in celery and onion
- Cook on low for 3-3.5 hours

Cranberry Sauce
- Mix 1/2 cup of orange juice, water, brown sugar and white sugar
- Stir in 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
- Pour in crockpot
- Add 1 package of fresh cranberries
- Cover and cook on high 3 hours, stirring once every hour
- Remove lid and stir well. Cook another 45 minutes

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fall Fun!

While the stores seem to have skipped from Halloween to Christmas, its important to remember that it's still Fall!

What does this mean?

Set your clocks back an hour when you go to sleep Saturday night. Enjoy an extra hour of rest!

Don't throw out your pumpkins!  Make pumpkin puree to use in some of your favorite Fall dishes like pumpkin bread or pie.  Cut your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Cut into manageable pieces and lay on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Blend or mash and drain the juice. Use for baking!

Plant a Fall garden. Cool weather crops include spinach, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Begin experimenting for Thanksgiving dinner by trying out new recipes and thinking of fun ways to serve them!  Take advantage of deals on Fall decor for your table centerpiece.

Make a thankful tree and hang leaves on it with message of gratefulness and thankfulness.

Enjoy the shorter days with warmly scented candles and prepping the fireplace for your first fire!

Invite friends and family over to watch football on the weekends - whether you like the game or not! It's a great reason to socialize with delicious food!

What other Fall activities will you be taking part in this November?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rising New Home Sales

Sales of new homes rose 3.1 percent in September - a sign that the recovering housing market continues to rebound.

Since January, new home sales have increased by 13 percent compared to the same time period in 2015.

Experts believe the increase is due to improvements in hiring, salaries and low interest rates. The number of new homes on the market remains low with only a 4.8 month supply of new homes available.

Due to the limited demand of new homes, prices have risen by 2.7 percent to an average of $377,700.

Each month prices continue to go up and the number of available houses go down. Mortgage rates remain at historic lows. If you're in the market for a new home now is the time to buy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Non-Candy Halloween Treat Ideas

Halloween is a time for treats, sweets and lots of delicious eats!  While that is a fun and time-tested tradition there are ways to think outside the box when it comes to trick-or-treating this year.  Check out our list of unique Halloween treats!
- Stickers - Halloween themed is best!

- Temporary tattoos

- Small bags of pretzels or gummy bears

- Halloween theme pretzels or erasers

- Stamps

- Bubbles

- Bouncy balls

- Glow sticks or bracelets to wear while out trick-or-treating!

If the typical fun-size candy is more your speed, you aren't alone. The National Retail Federation anticipates $2.5 billion will be spend on Halloween candy this year. The most popular choices? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats and Butterfinger.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Find a Pumpkin Patch!

Enjoy the cooler weather and get outside this weekend! Here are some fun Fall activities within driving distance.  Pack a jacket and hit the road!

Steeds Dairy Farm - Grovetown, GA

- Open Saturdays from 10am-10pm
- Open Sundays from 1pm-7pm
- A real working dairy farm
- Family-friendly corn maize during the day and Haunted Maize at night
- Hay rides, jumping pillow and petting zoo

Holiday Farms - Ridgeland, SC
- Open Saturdays from 9am-Dark
- Open Sundays from 1pm-5pm
- Pumpkin patch, jump pad, hay rides
- Duck races, corn grinding, Barnyard Zoo

Clinton Sease Farms - Lexington, SC
- Open Saturdays from 10am-11pm
- Open Sundays from 2pm-7pm
- Pumpkin patch, hay rides and corn maize
- Haunted attractions available at night

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Preparing for Natural Disasters

With Hurricane Matthew baring down on Florida and the Southeast, now is the time to ensure you're prepared in the event of a natural disaster.

The most important thing to remember is to heed the words of your local government, law enforcement and emergency division. This includes knowing the latest forecasts and evacuation orders. Don't endanger your lives and the lives of others by not listening to the people around you who are trying to keep you safe.

Ensure you have a safety kit and first aid supplies on hand.  This includes:

- Water - gallons of water for consumption and hygiene
- A three-day supply of nonperishable food
- Flashlight and batteries
- Can opener
- Cell phone chargers
- Weather radio
- Extra cash

First Aid Kit

- Latex gloves
- Burn ointment
- Eyewash
- Bandages in various sizes
- Soap
- Sterile dressings
- Scissors
- Tweezers
- Non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, antacid, anti-diarrhea medicine

Ensure all prescription medicines are full and readily available.

What else do you do to prepare for a natural disaster?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Easy Ways to Save Some Green

Yes the weather is actually getting cooler - which means the air conditioner doesn't have to run as much - a huge money saver!  Did you realize there are other ways to save? And they won't take much sacrifice!  Check them out and see what you can do to save some money each month!

1.  Unplug your appliances. Even appliances that are not in use are using your electricity just by being plugged in.  So check on toasters, laptops, coffee makers, etc. and unplug!

2.  Change your lightbulbs to LED. LED bulbs last at least 5 years and use much less energy!

3.  Reset your water heater's default temperature. Most are set at 140 degrees.  Reduce to 120 and you can save some easy money!

4.  Plan to do several loads of laundry at one time. This way your dryer doesn't cool all the way down between loads.

5.  Let your dishes air dry and skip the heat dry cycle on your dishwasher.

6.  When your phone is fully charged, unplug the charger. It will continue to pull electricity even if the phone is fully charged.

7.  Regularly change your air filters according to the manufacturers specifications - either every month or 3 months.

8.  Keep interior doors open to allow cooled air to flow through the home.

9.  Check all door and refrigerator seals to ensure there are no leaks.

10.  When shopping for new appliances or electronics, try to buy Energy Star rated equipment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Create Your Own Fall Decor

Decorating for Fall doesn't mean spending a fortune on new seasonal knick-knacks or expensive pre-made arrangements. You may have items around your home that just need a little touch to make them Autumn ready!  Here are some ideas.

Set of 3 Hand Painted Mason Jars Autumn by MidnightOwlCandleCo:

Mason jar vases - just add some paint in using Fall hues!

Eat. Sleep. Decorate.: {DIY} Cheap & Easy Fall Decorating Ideas:

Neutral Fall Decor: Glue or tie some sticks to a plain votive vase to make an awesome Autumn candle holder!

DIY - Perfect Fall Potpourri - #fall #potpourri #fallpotpourri: Incorporate plaid scarves into your Fall decor - until it gets cold enough to use them of course!

Don't forget to set the season by incorporating smells!  Make some homemade potpourri by simmering apple, orange, cloves and cinnamon!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Create a Workspace at Home

Whether you work from home full time or just need space to get away and write out your thoughts in peace and quiet, a home office is a great addition to any home. A home office can be a designated extra bedroom or a corner of the upstairs loft.  No matter how big your space there are a few things to keep in mind when planning a workspace.

1. Think about your primary activities - will a desktop or laptop computer be necessary? Do you need a landline? Will you need a printer, router, or other space-taking equipment?

2. Ensure there is plenty of lighting - both overhead and lamp light. Take advantage of any and all natural light.

3. Sketch out your room before moving any furniture in. Include windows, electrical outlets, cables and doors or closets. It's much easier to sketch before moving furniture in or out! Try to position your desk where you have a view - near the windows!

4.  Use vertical space to your advantage.  You don't need a lot of square footage for a good office space - take advantage of your walls for filing or storage with bookcases and floating shelves.

5.  Add your own unique touches! Yes an office is for work but it doesn't have to be cold and sterile. Decorate with photos of loved ones, inspirational quotes and plants or fresh flowers.  Make the space somewhere you want to be!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Seasonal Home Maintenance

A new season is a great time for change - new clothes, new decor, and new ways to prepare your home for the upcoming Fall and Winter weather.  It may seem hard to believe now but the temperatures will drop, the humidity will dissipate and your home will need to adjust to the colder months of the year.  The moderate temperatures make Fall a perfect time to get outside and do some prep work for the following year.

1.  Examine the outside of your home for any visible cracks along the foundation or where piping goes in and out of the home. Use caulk to fill in those cracks where possible.

2.  Check all exterior doors to ensure weather stripping is still in place and creates a tight seal when closed.

3.  When it's time to turn on the heat inside, change the direction of your ceiling fan to pull heat upwards.

4.  It's important to change the batteries on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. The change of seasons is a good time to do this and easy to remember.

5. When you are done with mowing the lawn for the year, drain the gas from your mower and trimmer before storing for the winter.

These 5 steps can prepare your home and yard for Winter's chill and protect the investment you've made in your home.

What else is on your Fall maintenance list?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Football and Fun

The countdown is over! It's football season! Whether you cheer for the local team, your home team, or just any team that's playing - football season is a great time to get together with family and friends.

All a party really needs is the fellowship of family and friends but if you do want to get a little more involved there are so many great ideas for football theme food and decor.

A little green and white icing can go along way to making cupcakes into game day dessert fun!

Set up some cheese, crackers and pepperoni in a strategic football shape for a little fun!

Shop at the local party story for football theme decor and plates.

Construction paper and glue can make regular paper bags into fun party favors.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Planning Your Guest Room

Entertaining is one of the great benefits of being a homeowner. Whether you have good friends from across the country or family visiting for the holidays - a guest room is an essential part of your home. Here's how to extend your hospitality through your accommodations in the best way possible.

Guest Room Essentials:

  • Fresh bedding and extra blankets
  • Lighting and alarm clock close to the bed
  • Trash can
  • Fluffy towels
  • Space for suitcases or hanging clothes
Nice Extras:

  • A creatively display with the wi-fi network and password information
  • Candles and matches
  • Bottled water
  • A luggage rack
  • Magazines or books
  • Tissues
  • Fresh flowers or plant
What do you have in your guest room? Any ways to make them feel extra welcome?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Don't Overlook These Hidden Costs!

One of the more talked about reasons against buying new is the higher price tag. Typically buying new does cost more than a used home.  But as we'll see below - there is good reason!

The major systems and appliances in your home have a lifespan.  While you may pay less with a used home up front - you could end up paying each year to repair and replace appliances that would have been brand new! Plus the majority of appliances and systems in a new home come with warranty protection!

Here's an idea of how long most systems and appliances last.
  1. Air Conditioner - Typically lasts 10-15 years and can cost $4500-$5500 to replace.
  2. Dishwasher - Lasts around 9 years - $400-$600 to replace
  3. Toilet - Life expectancy of 10 years - $300-$400 to replace
  4. Refrigerators - One of the most expensive appliances lasts about 15 years - thousands to replace
  5. Hot Water Heater -Lasts about 10 years costs over $700 to replace
Have the systems and appliances in a used home been maintained properly to ensure maximum life expectancy? Do you have money saved for when these appliances need repair or replacing?  These are important questions to consider when deciding on a new or used home.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Home Organization for Back to School

Goodbye summer and hello new school year! It seems to sneak up on us faster and faster each year but it's time to put the flip flops away and get out the backpacks.  You've survived the tax-free shopping frenzy and are ready to build a new routine to help your kids do their best this Fall.

There are ways you can organize and prepare your home to help with the transition back to school. Here are just a few ideas to make the new school year a stress-free and fun time for the whole family!

1. Use closet space wisely by choosing all your child's outfits for the week on Sunday and hanging them up in a separate area of the closet. This will make picking out clothes for the day one less battle that needs to be fought on those busy mornings.

2. Set up a command center with room for all the school papers, homework assignments and reminders as they come in the house.  

3. Use hooks and baskets to store backpacks and misc school items when your kids first come in the door. Keeping everything in one place will make it easier to find on the way out the door.

4.  Create a homework station somewhere quiet with all the necessary supplies including paper, pens, sticky notes and snack tray!

5.  Pack up lunch snacks and drinks in advance the weekend before.  Use baskets to organize sweets, snacks, utensils and drinks.  The only night before prep needed will be the sandwich!

What do you do to help your child prepare for back to school?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Create a Healthier Home

Your home is your oasis - keep it healthy and clean with these simple steps.  You'll improve your family's health while saving money and living better!

  1. Use door mats on both sides of your exterior doors. This helps to trap bacteria, allergens, and chemicals before they enter your home.
  2. Filter your drinking water and be sure to regularly replace those filters.
  3. When cooking be sure to use your range hood fan. This will help lower the humidity that mold and bacteria love to grow in.  Similarly run the bathroom fan for 20 minutes after showering for the same purpose.
  4. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to pick up more dust and allergens.
  5. Potted plants are a natural way to filter the air and remove toxins. Look for Spider Plants, Aloe Vera, English Ivy or Bamboo Palms.
  6. Sanitize bacteria hot spots such as door knobs, children's toys, phones, remotes and computer keyboards.
  7. Dust with a microfiber or wet cloth in order to trap particles and keep them from spreading.
  8. Purchase washable shower curtains instead of curtains made with vinyl that can contain harmful chemicals.
  9. Opt for natural cleaning products whenever possible - such as vinegar and water.
  10. Open the windows on a nice day. Outside air is much cleaner and will get rid of some inside toxins that float around.

What do you do to keep your home healthy and clean?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Back to School Tax Free

The weekly forecast shows triple digit highs as far as the eye can see but the Halloween decorations are already out! It's the awkward transition to fall which also means - Back to School!

Tax free weekends are right around the corner and are a time to take advantage of the tax savings on qualified purchases.

For South Carolina residents the tax free weekend is August 5th through 7th.  For Georgia residents, tax free is THIS WEEKEND, July 30th and 31st.

Visit the links below for a full list of qualified items. Here are a few of the highlights:

- Clothing
- Computers
- Computer Equipment
- School Supplies
- Bath Towels
- Footwear

Does not apply to jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear or items on layaway

For more information click HERE

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Closing Cost Explanation

Closing costs are one of the many talked about but not necessarily understood components of obtaining a home mortgage.

Understanding and comparing closing costs are an important part of shopping for a mortgage.

Closing costs are primarily made up of fees associated with the closing and mortgage process that are passed on to the buyer.

On average closing costs are 2-5% of the home price.

They include items such as:

  • Obtaining a credit report
  • Processing paperwork for the loan (loan origination fees)
  • Legal fees
  • Appraisals
  • Surveys
  • Title insurance
  • Title searches
  • An escrow deposit
  • Recording the transaction in the city or county’s records
  • Underwriting the mortgage (evaluating the borrower and the property)

Most of the closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer, however sometimes the builder or seller will contribute.  Talk to your lender to get a full explanation of the costs so their won't be any surprises at closing!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer Season Lawn Care

With the hot sun blazing down and temperatures not scheduled to dip for many more weeks - it's important to adapt your lawn maintenance plans to accommodate the summer!  Following these tips can help prevent damage and save you money on maintenance.

- Lawns need at least one inch of water a week during extreme heat
- Water less frequently but for longer amounts of time to encourage roots to grow deeper
- Water early in the day to beat evaporation but not at night which could encourage disease

- Don't cut your lawn too short - longer lawns are more resistant to the damaging effects of heat
- Make sure your blades are sharp so the grass is cut and not torn
- Mulch the clippings to create a moisture barrier

- Don't fertilize in the summer - even if your lawn looks brown - it can burn the lawn
- Place stepping stones in high traffic areas to minimize damage
- Pick up outdoor toys after playing to keep dead spots from popping up

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why Interest Rates Matter

We hear so often about interest rates - good ones, bad ones, refinancing to get a lower interest rate. But what does it really mean? What impact does it have on the house you buy or don't?  Here's a quick overview to explain one of the most important factors of mortgage lending.

Interest is the amount it costs you, the buyer, to borrow money in the form of a mortgage.  Banks require a return on the amount of money you borrow.  Your monthly mortgage payment is made up of the principal (or loan itself), interest, insurance and taxes. The higher the interest rate - the more money you owe on your mortgage each month. That's why it's important to search for the best interest rate for your particular type of mortgage.

Interest rates are an annual figure. To calculate your monthly rate take the interest rate and divide it by 12.  This new number is the amount of interest you will pay on your loan per month.

Each month your interest payment decreases as you pay more towards the principal on your loan.  In order to keep your monthly payments the same banks use an amortization schedule which applies more money to your principal and less money to interest each month.  Banks can provide you a full amortization schedule upon request.

Currently interest rates are at historic lows. This means that borrowing money for a home is more affordable than it has been in years. Take a look at the graph below for an idea on how far interest rates have come and why now is a great time to buy!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

4th of July Sweets

Celebrate Independence Day with flair! Take a look at these simple to make but amazingly patriotic dessert options!  Stay safe and enjoy the holiday!

Berry Trifle

Strawberry, blueberry and delicious angel food cake make this patriotic trifle a sure be winner!

Star Brownies

Use cookie cutters to cut up brownies and then decorate with icing and red, white and blue sprinkles!

Independence Day Kabobs

A simple no-bake dessert requiring just blueberries, strawberries and bananas!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Road Trips

Getting out of town is a much needed escape for all of us. Sometimes taking that week long summer vacation isn't always possible.  Here are a few ways to get away if even just for the weekend!

Beach Locales:

Beaufort, South Carolina
Located just south of busy Hilton Head Island, Beaufort packs in true southern charm and lowcountry appeal.  Visit historic downtown and spend the day walking into local shops and art galleries.  For more information visit

Tybee Island, Georgia
Known as Savannah's beach, Tybee Island is a quiet beach town free from the hustle and bustle of most beach vacation spots.  See the famous lighthouse and take a dolphin tour! To find out more visit

Mountain Adventures:

Hendersonville, North Carolina
Just a half hour from trendy Asheville, Hendersonville is a quieter cousin to the artsy city. Visit the quaint downtown and find all of the Hendersonville Bears that decorate the space.  Enjoy beautiful views and local farmers markets. For more information visit

Blue Ridge, Georgia
90 miles north of Atlanta is the mountain town of Blue Ridge.  Blue Ridge is packed with outdoor adventure including hiking, waterfalls and trout fishing. For a more relaxing source of fun ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.  Find out more at

Thursday, June 16, 2016

High Tech Homebuying

Buying a new home has gone high tech! With your handy smartphone you can find tons of information that will help your home buying process.  Make sure to download these apps before you go shopping!

1. Home Search Apps
Home search apps like Zillow and provide up to date real estate information such as price, square footage, location and home description.  You can specifically look for new homes to make your search even easier.

2. Dwellr
Dwellr is an app that lets you know about the neighborhood your potential home is located in. Using Census data you can find out some demographic information about the community around you.

3. GreatSchools
Learn about the schools your home is zoned for with this helpful education app. Schools are rated and compare to other schools in the area.

4. Houzz
Interested in how to outfit your new home? Find decor ideas on this helpful app full of images of interior and exterior dream homes.

5. Mortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans
Time to run the numbers? Use the mortgage calculator app to calculate monthly payment, estimate your interest rate and down payment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Carpet Care

Carpet is an often overlooked but important aspect of your home's style.  Stained or dirty carpet can set the wrong tone for your home and with some usual maintenance can be avoided. Here are a few tips to keep your carpet looking new!

1. Use mats outside and inside of your doors to prevent some dirt from coming in. This is a first line of defense for carpet care. Try to remove shoes when indoors.

2. Vacuum high traffic areas daily and all other areas on a weekly schedule.  Vacuuming prevents ground in dirt from cutting and tearing at the carpet fibers. Take your time and make sure each area is cleaned thoroughly.

3. If you notice a piece of the carpet coming loose or unraveling - do not pull! Clip with scissors to remove.

4. UV rays from sunshine can distort the color of your carpet and prematurely age the carpet. Close your blinds when leaving home for the day.

5. Stains happen but it's important to react quickly. Blot the stain to remove as much as possible. If a chemical spot remover is needed follow instructions carefully.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Housing Heats Up!

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index released this week showed a national increase in home prices, up by 5% since March.  This brings prices to within 4% of their peak in 2006 - a far cry from the decline of 30% in 2012.

New home sales were up 17% in April - the strongest month in eight years.  What's driving the market? High demand and low supply. Improving economic indicators such as falling unemployment and low mortgage rates are helping to boost sales as well.

So what does this mean for you? If you're in the market for a new home - be prepared and do your research. Get pre-qualified or talk to a lender about a good faith estimate.  Work on any potential credit issues and understand what you will or won't compromise on in a home.

Home prices have been increasing steadily for the last 12 month so the time to buy is now before they increase again!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memorial Day Tribute

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending this country - our brave servicemen and women who fought for our freedom and gave us this land that we know today. Please reflect on these series of quotes and remember what was sacrificed for us.

I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism. - Bob Riley

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. - Bill Clinton

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. - Joseph Campbell

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened. - Billy Graham

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. - John F. Kennedy

Friday, May 20, 2016

BBQ with a Bang!

Memorial Day - the unofficial start of summer. A weekend full of family, friends and BBQ.  How about switching up your usual BBQ staples to include some of these fun foods for a crowd?

Grilled Corn. Add some sizzle to this summer staple! Other vegetables you can throw on the grill? Peppers, asparagus and tomatoes!

No good BBQ is complete without seasonal fruits! Use a watermelon to display them.

Cool down with Cucumber salad - cucumber, onions, tomato and italian dressing.

Finish off the celebration with a sweet treat! Strawberry kabobs with marshmallow and brownie pieces!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pressure Washing Dangers

Longer days, warmer temperatures - a perfect recipe for getting outside and taking care of those chores around the house.  One that can make a big difference in your home's curb appeal? Cleaning your siding!

Pressure washing is often the recommended technique for cleaning the exterior of your home but it can come at a cost. The force of pressure washing can cause water to get behind your siding or even through the mortar in your brick to cause moisture build up in your walls.  Pressure washing can rip window screens or break the seal of your double-pane windows.

So what are your alternatives? Thankfully there are other ways to safely clean your home!

Before beginning - check the manufactures guidelines for your particular type of siding. Before using a cleaning agent test it on an inconspicuous spot and let it sit for 24-48 hours.

The Vinyl Siding Institute recommends using a soft cloth or long handled bristle brush. Start at the bottom of your house and work up - rinsing as you go.

To remove mold or mildew use a solution of 30% vinegar and 70% water.

If you're not into DIY cleaning - contact a company that specializes in "no pressure" washing. Look for warranty or guarantees to ensure you choose someone who will stand by their work.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Steal the Look!

One of the hottest TV shows around right now is HGTV's Fixer Upper. If you haven't tuned in yet, the premise of the show is all about renovation and restoration.  Chip and Joanna Gaines of Waco, TX, take outdated and overlooked homes and make them look amazing! Check it out when you can.

If you are already a fan you may wonder how you can steal the Fixer Upper look for your own home. Here are a few tips!

1. Decorate your walls with vintage maps, clocks, mirrors and uplifting quotes.

2. Incorporate open shelving where possible - especially in the kitchen.

3. Accent each room with greenery - real where possible, wildflowers are always in style!

4. Use neutral colors with bright accent pieces such as textured pillows or rugs.

5. Group together like items to create fun and functional vignettes.

How do you incorporate your sense of style at home?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New Homes Month

The National Association of Home Builders designated April as "New Homes Month".  To celebrate - here are a few reasons why you should buy new!