For Valentine’s Day, Couple Your Finances

Money coaches discuss how couples can combine finances and bank accounts while balancing autonomy and partnership.
 

 

When Alli Williams married her husband in 2019, she knew she would be marrying into about $150,000 of student loan debt.

Now, a few years later, she and her husband have gotten on the same financial page with their budgets and bank accounts, and they’ve paid off not only his student loans but also their credit cards and their truck. Williams had become debt-free individually when she was 25, and now, at 30, the couple are debt-free together.

"Paying off debt isn’t the hard part," Williams says. "Managing your money is the harder part."

Williams, a South Carolina-based money coach and owner of FinanciALLI Focused, says that when she and her husband got engaged in 2018, that was the first time they created a combined budget. They keep their spending low and benefit from living in a low-cost area, and they’ve been strategic about using percentages of windfalls to pay off debt and to save. But the real key, she says? Frequent communication and check-ins about money.

Money can be a very personal and — at times — stressful component of a romantic partnership. Handling debts, bank accounts, credit cards and bills together isn't only a logistical challenge, it’s also a new avenue for potential conflict. If one half of a couple likes to save money while the other person is a compulsive spender, that pair will likely need to have some difficult conversations to avoid resentment in the long run. For those conversations, there are professionals who can provide guidance and insight.

Benefits of a financial advisor for couples

Similar to a therapist, a financial advisor or money coach can create a safe space for couples to discuss issues and plan for their futures together.

Liz and Dan Carroll, an Oregon-based couple and owners of Mindful Money Coaches, have been married for 31 years. They use their personal success with money management to provide actionable advice to their clients, such as teaching them how to create long-term money plans together.

"Everyone is a good candidate for at least an annual check-in with a money coach," Liz says. "And just like with the compound interest you get with investing, the earlier you start the better."

If you and your partner decide to work with a certified financial advisor instead of a money coach, make sure to choose one that operates as a fiduciary, which means they’re obligated to put your interests ahead of profit. Non-Fiduciary financial advisors make commissions from products they sell to their clients, so they could pressure clients to buy or invest in products that aren’t necessarily helpful.

What options do couples have for managing their money together?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to managing your finances, especially if you’re part of a couple. Some couples prefer to have all of their money combined, others like to keep their finances completely separate, and some prefer a hybrid of the two. No matter the strategy, couples can use joint accounts to manage shared expenses and save for special goals.

The Carrolls don’t recommend that married couples separate their finances, however. Even if one partner has debt or a low credit score, they advise that both partners take on the responsibility of working through financial stumbling blocks as a team.

"Putting it together creates overall accountability," Liz says.

"Couples always bring their own burdens and strengths into a marriage," Dan adds. "So if you’re going into a partnership, you have to accept that you’re going to take the good with the bad."

A tip from the pros: Create a budget just for ‘fun money’

Joint finances don’t necessarily mean that you have to lose your autonomy. Williams and the Carrolls use a system in their relationships that they say creates a sense of independence while staying aligned on their finances: budgeting "fun money" into individual accounts for each person.

"It’s like our 'no questions asked' money," Williams says. "It’s money where we don’t have to check in with each other before we spend it, like my husband spending $10 at Chick-fil-A, or me spending money at Amazon or Target. We use Ally Bank’s buckets feature for our individual accounts, and we technically each have access to both, but we don’t need to check it."

The Carrolls use a similar approach for their fun money.

"It’s still a line item on the budget where everything comes into one bucket, and then some goes out into the fun spending accounts," Dan says. "We highly recommend that each partner gets an equal amount, and then they can do whatever they want with it. It creates freedom for both individuals."

Money management and communication are foundational skills for any committed romantic partnership, and, as Dan Carroll can attest, those skills spill over into other areas.

"It's unanimous from the feedback we get from our clients that talking through money helps the whole relationship."

 

 

SOURCE - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/banking/for-valentines-day-couple-your-finances


Big Year, Small Space: Could You Take on 2022 in a Tiny Home?

Capture

Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of micro-size living in a tiny home.

While many homeowners dream of upsizing for space, others instead dream of downsizing for a myriad of reasons like cost, care and comfort. But with the phenomenon of tiny home living prominent in the real estate realm, some are ready to shrink their living space to new levels – even condensing into less than 400 square feet.

Rising in popularity over the past decade, the tiny home movement has been perpetuated by an impending desire for wanderlust. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are looking to redefine their reality.

When it comes to tiny homes, the definition of “tiny” will vary depending on who is asked. While 400 square feet and under has become industry standard, some real estate agents will consider a freestanding structure under 600 square feet a tiny home, too.

An often affordable option, tiny homes tend to be desirable due to their lower cost of living, minimalistic nature, off-grid living capabilities, and appeal to buyers with a persistent sense of adventure. Depending on local zoning laws, tiny homes are also being seen as opportunity for a guest house, backyard office or income property.

“People typically downsize for three different reasons,” says Steve Weissman, CEO of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, a renowned green-certified tiny home builder, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “One is a minimalist lifestyle choice where you want to get away from attachment to possessions. The second is the environmental component and the third would be that it financially makes sense for many to achieve homeownership.”

Are you considering going tiny? Weissman and RE/MAX agent Richard Rolfingsmeyer unpack the pros and cons of buying a tiny home.

The Pros: Affordability, Sustainability and Freedom

“When downsizing this small, your overall cost is less, so it allows more freedom to upgrade the things that are really important to you. Each tiny house is a work of art and a form of personal expression,” Weissman says.

Tumbleweed’s largest model is just 260 square feet. According to Homeadvisor, the average cost of a tiny home is $45K, but the more customizations, homey details and space-saving solutions are added, the higher the price. Tumbleweed’s intricate tiny homes sell for an average of $100K.

Captured

For many, the low cost of a tiny home in comparison to a traditional house could present an opportunity to become a homeowner sooner than planned or own a home outright without a mortgage. Plus, monthly bills – like electricity and gas – are significantly lower when operating within a micro-sized footprint. Speaking of which, a traditional layout for a tiny house includes a ground level room with a kitchen, living area and bathroom, and a sleeping loft atop.

“The house itself is consuming a lot less propane and using less power,” Weissman says. “And when you’re living there, your consumption is less, too. You're not filling your house with furniture and other random things. It really is a lifestyle change.”

 

 

Aside from the occasional ambitious DIY-projects, most tiny homes begin with a builder, like Tumbleweed, which sells direct to consumer. A real estate agent steps in when it’s time for resale.

Captures

Richard Rolfingsmeyer, better known as “Richard-REALTOR®," an agent with RE/MAX Real Estate Results in Bentonville, Arkansas, kickstarted his experience with tiny homes when he appeared on an episode of the HGTV show Tiny House Hunters. His on-air client was pursuing micro-living primarily for its sustainable benefits, like using less energy and natural resources on a daily basis.

The client also wanted the freedom to roam. Depending on how they’re situated, tiny homes provide homeowners the flexibility to get up and move with their house in tow.

Capturedf

“Your tiny house can be mobile if you have an easy way to load it on a flatbed or trailer. On the other hand, if you have it on a concrete block foundation, moving is difficult and the location is more permanent. My client specifically wanted a situation where she could connect her home to a vehicle and be able to go,” Rolfingsmeyer says.

“[My client] also didn't want to be tied down to a mortgage or a plot of land. Her whole idea was to be able to travel the country and meet new people all while working a job and having a reliable home-base,” he adds.

In addition to serving as a primary dwelling, tiny homes are an unconventional – yet more affordable – option for second-home ownership. For vacation purposes, they are widely treated like a cabin and can be seen in mountainside or woodsy settings to get away and immerse with nature.

 

The Cons: Storage, Privacy and Land Logistics

The ideals of tiny home living must be met with reality, and a sizable consideration is storage – or lack thereof.

“Many people like their stuff – and like to accumulate even more stuff. If you're having to get two or three storage units to store your possessions just because you want to live in a tiny house, then that's maybe not the most cost-effective way to go tiny,” Rolfingsmeyer says.

A minimalist lifestyle is what draws many to tiny home living in the first place. But an ongoing commitment to minimalism is a must to maintain livable conditions. For those who are able to pare their possessions down to few, most tiny homes will suffice with elaborate storage solutions and dual-purpose features like drawers nestled in stairs and furniture that folds to nearly nothing.

“Something I've learned about people who live small is that they are more interested in investing in experiences rather than things,” says Weissman, a minimalist himself.

Sharing such small space can also be a point of contention, so those interested in going tiny must really enjoy spending quality – and quantity – time with their roommates.

“In smaller spaces, even little noises and sounds can start to get on your nerves,” Rolfingsmeyer warns.

Regardless of whether a whole family or just one person and a dog is living inside a tiny home, condensation can become an issue. Weissman recommends ensuring the tiny home you buy – whether it’s new or being resold – has a proper ventilation system for optimal air quality.

“Especially in colder climates, you start getting condensation. And as a result, mold is a relatively common problem in tiny homes,” he explains. “However, we created a heat recovery ventilation system and over the years it was adopted by other tiny home builders, too. [The system] circulates air through the tiny house and makes for a much healthier environment.”

According to Weissman, only 5% of tiny home owners move their home around regularly and 20% move it once every five years. Most buyers must arrange or purchase a permanent space for the structure to live because, unlike buying a traditional house, a tiny home more than likely won’t come with land.

“The majority of our homes are going into a backyard, and then some are going into a tiny house community,”  Weissman says. “But for those that aren’t, the owners have to consider buying a plot of land.”

So, if you’re up for adventure – or are looking for a way to potentially save money while reaping the benefits of homeownership – consider taking on a big year ahead in a tiny home. Rolfingsmeyer suggests getting in contact with your local RE/MAX agent to discuss new versus resale options, land, local tiny home communities and more.


Clever Ways to Finally Upgrade An Old Worn Down or Dated Fireplace


What you should know if you’re taking possession of a home in 2022

 and 

Photo: Roman / Adobe Stock

For thousands of people, 2022 is the year that they take possession of a brand new home.

While it’s exciting to turn the key for the first time in your new home’s front door, there’s several national and global influences at play that will shape the closing and possession phase of buying a property this year.

If you’re preparing to move into new digs in 2022, here are a few things that you may want to take into consideration.

Furniture and appliance orders are still delayed

If you’re waiting on that sectional to arrive or the bed frame you love to come back in stock, you belong to the many people who have been impacted by furniture delivery delays and shortages.

Several countries around the world have been experiencing long delivery times thanks to a host of COVID-19 and global supply chain problems, from backed-up shipping ports to factory closures overseas. The red-hot real estate market, which has seen renters and homeowners move to new digs throughout the course of the pandemic, has also contributed to the demand for home furnishings.

Experts are hopeful though that things will return to business as usual this year as supply chain challenges ease in 2022.

Mortgage interest rates are staying low, for now

Since the Bank of Canada started cutting its mortgage-influencing overnight rate back in March 2020, new and existing mortgage holders have been able to take advantage of some of the lowest interest rates in history. That could come to an end this year, impacting those looking to lock in a mortgage on a new property.

In its final policy interest rate announcement for 2021, the BoC said that it intends to hold its 0.25 per cent overnight rate at that level until mid-2022. Between Canada’s Big Six banks, predictions have been swirling around a potential four quarter-point rate hike by the end of the year.

This could have a ripple effect on the housing market altogether, with some experts drawing comparisons to 2018, when interest rates increased three times and the stress test was introduced, dropping sales volume by 19 per cent. The current stress test rules for uninsured mortgages in 2022, so far, remain unchanged.

Labour shortages are leading to higher costs

The residential construction industry has experienced widespread labour shortages, making new builds and home renovations take longer to complete and cost more money than usual.

Many tradespeople are hitting retirement age, and there aren’t enough young people or immigrants signing up to fill those jobs. Buildforce Canada estimates the construction industry will need to add more than 116,000 workers by the end of the decade to keep pace with expected demand growth and retirements.

Those labour shortages have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic fuelling Canada’s hot housing market, producing labour imbalances and geographic mismatches. According to Statistics Canada, construction job vacancies increased by more than 34,000 — or 83.7 per cent — between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2021.

The lack of skilled labour has increased demand for tradespeople to complete projects like kitchen and bathroom remodels, as well as flooring and electrical work. Keep that in mind and expect increased costs if you plan to begin any projects this year.

Surging lumber prices make construction more costly

Supply chain issues and reduced inventory resulting from natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have sent lumber prices skyrocketing once again.

According to Random Lengths, lumber prices have nearly tripled since August, surging to more than $1,000USD per thousand board feet. As a result, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates the average price of a new single-family home has increased by more than $18,600USD, with Canadian consumers experiencing similar cost increases.

Inventory issues stem from strong housing markets and a destructive summer wildfire season along the West Coast, while B.C.’s record November rainfall snarled supply chains and produced a backlog at the Port of Vancouver. The resulting project delays and increased demand for lumber led to the recent spike in prices.

Prospective homeowners will have to factor in rising lumber costs before choosing whether to proceed with new construction or renovation projects.

Photo: ungvar / Adobe Stock

There are still rules around showings and indoor gatherings

With the fifth wave of the pandemic forcing provinces to resume COVID-19 restrictions, those moving into a home in 2022 may need to think about current safety requirements in their region, especially those that impact real estate and communal living areas.

For instance, in Toronto, COVID-19 bylaws were recently extended to April 2022, requiring that masks be worn indoors in shared spaces such as lobbies, elevators and stairwells inside apartment and condo buildings. Under Ontario’s modified ​​Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, real estate open houses are prohibited and showings are by appointment only. Meanwhile, indoor gatherings are now limited to just five people.

These are important to keep in mind if you’re doing final walkthroughs, inspections or other business that might impact the possession process. Be sure to review guidelines from your local public health unit or provincial government for the most up-to-date COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Original Post - https://www.livabl.com/2022/01/know-possession-home-2022.html

 


Header: How Much Should You Put Down?

We hope that your year is off to a great start! Are you thinking about buying a new home this year? If so, you're probably considering and saving for a down payment. But, just how much do you need? Well, that depends on the price of your home.

Homes Under $500,000

In Canada, the minimum down payment for a home is 5%. So if you're buying a home for less than $500,000, you're required to put 5% down.

Homes Between $500,000 - $999,999

Are you looking for a home in this price range? You'll need to plan on 5% for the first $500,000 and then 10% for the amount above $500,000.

Homes $1 Million and Up

​Any home with a purchase price of a million dollars or more requires a minimum of 20% down.

 

If you're paying less than 20% on any home purchase price, you're required to purchase mortgage default insurance. So, make sure that you consider that in your savings. We hope that this helps you understand your options better. Our Team works with great lenders that can guide you through the mortgage process. Please give us a call, or reply to this email to discuss your move in 2022.


Could the biggest danger to your fur baby be in your own home? Here are 11 health risks for pets you can eliminate right now.

Health risks for pets - easter lilies
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Flowers and plants that pose a health risk to pets

Easter Lilies

While they may be pretty, lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for cats. Petside suggests keeping them out of the house (or better yet, purchase artificial flowers). Be aware of symptoms of lily poisoning which include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Call your vet as soon as possible if you think your pet has ingested lily. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says that without immediate care, cats who eat lily may develop life-threatening kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours of ingestion. (By the way, here are 50 secrets your pet wishes they could tell you.)

Poinsettias

Holiday poinsettias are also dangerous for pets, though not as worrisome as the lily. This doesn’t mean your pet should eat this pretty red Christmas decoration, since doing so will likely lead to stomach pain and discomfort, including vomiting.

The ASPCA’s compiled a searchable plant database of dangerous plants (listing over 400 items). Check it out if you are considering bringing a new plant home.

 
Health risks for pets - chocolate
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Foods that pose a health risk to pets

Chocolate

Chocolate might have plenty of health benefits for humans, but it’s a harmful food for pets. Petside says most adults know this, but that it’s adults’ responsibility to make sure children know, too. Keep little ones from giving chocolate to pets and do your best to supervise.

All kinds of candy—including candy wrappers

Too much sugar can give your pet a bellyache, but worse, if wrappers are swallowed, your pet risks tearing of the esophagus or intestines. Clean up as best and frequently as you can when candy is being unwrapped.

More harmful foods

Your pets should also steer clear of chewing gum, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, onions, garlic, salt, raw yeast dough, and fatty foods.

 

Health risks for pets - Easter decorations
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Holiday health risks for pets

Easter and Christmas decorations

Plastic eggs, if ingested, can rip tears in the digestive system. Likewise, spoiled hard boiled eggs, if ingested, can make pets ill. Easter grass and tinsel are attractive, but deadly. Pets who attempt to eat these garlands and garnishes can choke, or lethally damage their intestines. At Easter, try real grass or crumpled paper instead. At Christmas, cat-proof your tree by avoiding tinsel.

Other holiday safety tips for pets:

New Year’s: Forego confetti and keep an eye on balloons. If they deflate, they become a choking hazard.

Valentine’s Day: Keep their paws off the chocolates and far from the flowers.

Thanksgiving: Throw turkey bones in the trash.

Halloween: Use flameless candles, and keep candy out of harm’s way. (Speaking of Halloween, you won’t want to miss these adorable Halloween dog costume ideas.)

Christmas: Keep pets out of tree water, and be attentive when they show interest in ornaments, decoration hooks and ribbon. Here are more holiday safety mistakes you didn’t realize you were making.


Health risks for pets - toys
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Toys can pose a health risk to pets

Small, brightly coloured toys hold the same appeal for pets as they do children. The problem is that they are choking hazards. Petside’s advice is to keep small toys in a place safely hidden from pets.

Learn how to spot the signs of cancer in cats.

 
Health risks for pets - coffee
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Drinks that are health risks for pets

Coffee, tea, and alcohol

Coffee and tea leaves are on the ASPCA’s list of People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet, as is alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, and breathing difficulty, among other things.

Health risks for pets - batteries and other small items
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Batteries (and other small items) can be health risks for pets

Many small items can lead to choking—even things you would never expect your pet would attempt eating. Be mindful of buttons, small batteries, twist ties, and rubber bands. In the bathroom, keep hairpins, cotton swabs, and dental floss out of reach from your pet. Cut down on clutter throughout your home with these organization tips from Marie Kondo.

7 / 11
Health risks for pets in the garage
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Health risks for pets in the garage

If your pet is your shadow and frequently follows you around the house, remember that garage and storage areas need special attention, too. Keep cleaning supplies, antifreeze, fertilizer, de-icing materials and pesticides in a place pets can’t easily access. “Products containing metaldehyde, such as some slug pellets and firelighters, are extremely toxic, and should be kept away from pets,” according to Blue Cross. “Antifreeze and de-icer fluids taste sweet, but are also poisonous.” 

Health risks for pets - bones
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Bones pose a health risk for pets

While eating meat off the bone might be tastier, if your pet gets a hold of one of those bones it could be bad news. Just like hazardous objects that might be laying around the house, it’s especially important to keep an eye on where your food leftovers end up. “Cooked bones splinter and can cut your dog’s mouth,” says Dana Humphrey, A.K.A. The Pet Lady. “If swallowed, they can puncture their stomach or esophagus too.” The same goes for bone “toys” you find in pet stores—which is why you should never, ever buy one.

 
Health risks for pets - sticks
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Sticks can be a health risk for pets

Your dog might love to play fetch, but you might want to think twice before you pick up that stick outside. Sticks, especially small ones, can pose as serious choking hazards. Instead, Blue Cross suggests throwing a plastic, indestructible object that’s too big for your pet to accidentally swallow.

 

Health risks for pets - trash cans
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Trash cans

It’s easy to forget that trash cans can be health risks for pets, too. Your garbage can might have bones, chocolate, coffee grounds—essentially, a checklist of dangerous items that your fur baby should be nowhere near.  “Make sure your garbage pail comes with a secure lid so you don’t have to worry about Fido or Fluffy getting their paws on discarded rib bones or leftover chocolate cake,” says The Pet Lady, Dana Humphrey.

 

Health risks for pets - medicine
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Medication can pose a serious health risk for pets

Just like humans, if you take medication that isn’t meant for you, it’s probably not a good idea. Human medication isn’t meant for your pets, and might even cause more harm than good. “Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are particularly dangerous,” says Blue Cross. “Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be dangerous, particularly iron tablets and products containing zinc.” The same concept applies to different animals: never give your dog cat medication, and vice versa.

Be sure to check out the ASPCA site for tips on keeping your pet safe and poison-proofing your home.


4 Stylish Ways to Modernize Your Home


Here’s How to Pick the Perfect Paint Color Every Time


Roofing101

Time to Redo Your Roof? Get Educated First!

Before you start pricing your new roof, take a look at the pros and cons of all available options. Plus, check out the roofing vocabulary so you can sound like an expert before you talk to one.

 

roofing101-infographic


What to Look For When Buying a Home in the Winter

 

Purchasing a property in the winter can be a pretty chill idea. Buying in the wintertime can be advantageous for both home buyers and sellers—with a smaller buying pool, the (typically) off-season market can lend more serious offers from motivated purchasers who benefit from less competition. However, wintery weather can make it tricky to assess a home when you can’t fully see the condition of the property under layers of ice and snow.

Paul Rushforth, broker of record at the Ottawa-based Paul Rushforth Real Estate Inc., and Roger Travassos, a Toronto sales representative with Keller Williams Portfolio Realty, tell us what to look for when buying a home in the winter.

Don’t overlook the home’s exterior

home’s first impression from the sidewalk is always important to consider when buying, and it’s no different during the winter.

Travassos and Rushforth agree it’s crucial to inspect the outside of the home in the winter time. Travassos notes you want to make sure the property’s driveway, outdoor stairs, and sidewalks are shoveled so you can clearly see their condition. A blanket of fluffy snow can also make it a challenge to gauge the property’s roof and grading to see if water is running away from the house correctly.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to see the condition of the roof or the shingles if they’re covered in snow, and then if all of the other roofs [in the neighbourhood] are covered in snow and yours isn’t, it means there’s probably not enough insulation—heat is getting out of the house that shouldn’t be,” explains Travassos.

Image via James Bombales

Landscaping costs for trees and grass can add up, so it’s best to get a sense of the condition of the back and front yards, too. Rushforth says a buyer should ask for pictures of the home in the summertime to assess the state of the yardgardens, and any outdoor structures such as pools.

“You want to know what you’re buying, and the problem with [the winter], everything is covered,” said Rushforth. “You don’t know if there’s grass, if there are weeds, if there’s interlock, if there’s not interlock. Trying to get some recent summer pictures is absolutely key.”

Examine the interiors from floor to ceiling

When touring the inside of the property, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any wintertime red flags that could indicate issues within the house.

Rushforth says to look for any signs of drafts, fogging, or condensation in the windows that could point to broken seals, allowing cold air to enter the home. 

“Looking in the wintertime, you get to see if there are any drafts in the windows,” said Rushforth. “Can you feel cold air coming through? Do you see any leaking? Are you seeing any water stains?”

Image via Unsplash

As colder weather tends to dry out rooms, Rushforth explains a buyer will want to look for gaping or splitting in hardwood floors, which can speak to the home’s humidity levels. Dryness can cause things to shrink slightly, so a purchaser should inspect the home to ensure interior doors and cupboards can close properly. By feeling the interior walls, you can also assess if they are cold to the touch and therefore poorly insulated—Travassos points out some homes may be double bricked and not insulated.

When viewing a home in the winter, Rushforth notes purchasers should monitor for big differences in temperature between rooms, a sign there could be ventilation problems to address.

“You’re looking for signs of chilly rooms, drafty rooms, or even rooms that are really warm,” said Rushforth. “Why are they really warm in the winter time unless the heat is punched up? You’re looking for differences in rooms that will be a tell-tale sign as to whether there are issues.”

Inspect your home utility systems and out-of-season amenities

The winter often calls for homeowners to shut down seasonal home amenities like pools and cooling systems, but this shouldn’t mean a buyer should skip on investigating these features.

Travassos and Rushforth explain a buyer won’t be able to turn on and test the home’s air conditioning in the winter to confirm if it’s working properly or not. Because of this, it’s important for the buyer to do their due diligence and ask the seller and their agent questions about the state of home systems such as the furnace, septic, pool parts, and other property features. 

“Quite often, additions aren’t done with permits and pipes were not insulated properly, so in really cold months, they freeze a little bit,” said Travassos. “So you want to run the water on all of the taps and make sure you’re not seeing any of that.”

Image via Pexels

For pools and hot tubs, you may want to request copies of receipts, maintenance reports, and proof of professional services to ensure they—as well as all of the other home systems—are in good working order when you purchase the property. As always, opting for a home inspection can be a way to ensure a professional can get a deeper understanding of the property, including in areas like the basement and attic.

 

 

SOURCE: https://www.realtor.ca/blog/what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-home-in-the-winter/22652/1361

 


Buying Your First House: Starter Home or Forever Home?

 

If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may be wondering: Should you purchase a small starter home to get into the market now, knowing you may grow out of it in a few years? Or, should you stretch your budget — or spend more time saving — to get a “forever home” that will take care of your long-term needs?

Here are some factors to consider as you weigh whether to get a home best suited for the short term or the long haul.

• Market conditions: Mortgage rates are historically low, but there’s no telling how long that will last. Also, many real estate markets nationwide are booming; consider whether to jump in before home prices get even higher, or whether they may weaken.
• Where you want to live: Consider if you’d be OK living for a few years in the suburbs, where you might be able to find something more affordable, or if you’d rather try to snag a home in a different area where you want to live long-term
• How much house you can afford: It ultimately comes down to how much money you have saved and how much you can afford to spend on a monthly mortgage payment. Use a home affordability calculator to see what’s within your price range.
• What kind of house you want: For a starter home, you might go for an apartment, condo or townhouse in an up-and-coming area. If you’re thinking forever home, a single-family detached or a house with land to build an addition later could be a better fit — but it’ll be more expensive.
• The costs of getting out early: If you do spring for a starter house now, and you end up getting married or having kids or needing to move quickly, you may face penalties, such as capital gains tax

Those are some of the big-picture considerations. Let’s dive into the details on what else you need to think about.

Starter home considerations

Your lifestyle: Do you want to be in the middle of a big city, or are you fine with the ’burbs if that means you can own a home? If you want to live centrally, where real estate is most expensive, you’ll probably have to start small. Dana Bull, a real estate agent in Boston with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty, remembers when she bought her first condo at 22, she could afford only one well outside of Boston, and she had some regret as she missed being in the city near her friends. Consider what you’re willing to sacrifice, both in terms of location and size.

Your future needs: Bull says many first-time home buyers assume they’ll be in a home much longer than they actually are. She says young, single people sometimes don’t realize how quickly life can change. A job switch, new relationship or new baby can alter what you need in a home.

Zachary Conway, a financial advisor with Conway Wealth Group LLC in Parsippany, New Jersey, adds that selling a house can be stressful — especially if you’re in the midst of major life changes such as having a baby.

So, if your life is full of flux and you think you would stay in your starter home for only 1 1/2 to three years, it may be less stressful to keep renting until you’re ready for something large enough to meet longer-term needs.

Capital gains taxes: If you set out to buy a starter home for the short term, be careful, Bull says. If you sell soon after moving in, you may owe capital gains tax on your profit from selling the home.

According to the IRS, individuals are excluded from paying taxes on $250,000 ($500,000 if married) of gain on a home sale as long as the house was used as your main residence during at least two of the five years before selling it. That means you may want to think carefully about buying a home you’ll grow out of in less than two years. Consult a tax professional to see how this could affect you.

Consider an exit strategy: If you’re considering going the starter home route, you should think through from the start how you’ll offload it when the time comes to move, Bull says. For instance you might buy a property that you could rent out to cover your mortgage, especially during times of economic uncertainty, she says. This helps ensure you can cover your mortgage payment if you need to move ASAP, or if the market is weak when you hope to sell but you don’t want to take a loss.

You should also carefully research the area in which you’re looking to buy, Conway says, and confirm “there’s enough resale potential to make sure that even in a market that’s heading downward, you still have a likelihood of being able to get out of where you are.”

Forever home considerations

Interest rates: Conway says that if you decide to wait so you can afford a forever home, there’s a chance interest rates could increase from their current historic lows. “You might be able to scrape together some additional funds in the next few years, but maybe at that point, we may be closer back to historical norms of interest rates, and your mortgage is more expensive,” Conway says. Nobody can predict what will happen, but it’s important to keep a pulse check on mortgage rates.

Hot markets: In many major cities such as Boston, property values are rising rapidly, Bull says. There’s also a lot of uncertainty as to whether home values will plateau or keep going up, leaving first-time home buyers wondering if they should give in to the “feeding frenzy,” she says. If you wait in hopes of saving for a larger home, it’s possible prices will rise faster than you can save, she says.

Your cash flow: Considering your lifestyle and life events is certainly important, “but really at the end of the day, it comes down to the math of do we have the cash flow,” Conway says.

If you want a forever home, you have to ask yourself whether you can afford the larger down payment, and whether your salary supports a higher monthly mortgage payment. Conway says it’s key to create a budget and to carefully track what you save and spend, and to be sure you can afford a more expensive home. Don’t assume your salary will be higher in a few years and go for a bigger mortgage, he says. And don’t forget to factor in higher ongoing expenses like property taxes and homeowners insurance.

» MORE: Calculate your monthly mortgage payment

Don’t stress too much

While making the decision between a starter home and forever home is a major move, Bull says don’t fret too much about making the wrong decision. Remember, she says, “there are always options — you can sell, you can rent, you can put yourself in a position where you can go out and buy another house.”

Conway adds that if you decide you’re not ready to buy for a while, that’s OK too, and you shouldn’t look at rent as throwing away money. “I wouldn’t jump into buying something for the sake of the fact that’s what we were told we should do,” he says. “It really comes down to what you’re comfortable with from a cash flow standpoint and what you want in your life. There’s nothing inherently wrong with paying rent.”


The article Buying Your First House: Starter Home or Forever Home? originally appeared on NerdWallet.


How to Handle Your Urge to Overspend on a New Kitchen

It's all about figuring out where to splurge and where to save
 
Capture
 
 

Ask 10 people what to splurge on in a kitchen remodel, and you’ll get 10 different answers. What constitutes an ideal space is highly subjective, and every kitchen remodel is a circus-worthy balancing act of money and priorities. Start by knowing what’s important to you, and then spend strategically.

Look to Your Layout

If you are happy enough with your kitchen’s existing footprint, leave it as is. “Keeping your layout is a surefire way to save money,” says Melanie Burstin, an interior designer from Los Angeles. One of the biggest ways to drive up spending is by tearing down walls and reconfiguring the space, which usually requires expensive professionals to move plumbing and electrical work. Keep outside labor costs low and don’t shift the sink, lighting, and appliances without good reason. That said, if your biggest pet peeve is staring at a wall for hours while you wash your household’s endless stream of dishes, then a new open floor plan with an island sink might just be worth it to you. Pay more for the change, then take money from elsewhere in your budget.

But don’t break out the sledgehammer without investigating less expensive and invasive options first. While remodeling her own dark, cramped galley kitchen (which cost under $20K), designer Velinda Hellen chose to replace a solid-core exterior door on the far wall with a glass option, which visually opened everything up, and let in more sunlight. If you can swing it, adding “larger windows can make a kitchen,” she says.

Material Matters

Well-constructed, durable materials that better withstand the heavy wear and tear of meal prep, cooking, and cleaning are almost always worth the extra money. Avid cooks, in particular, will want to spend more on items that get a lot of use—particularly those that are fixed and hard to replace down the line. While it’s relatively easy and cheap to swap out a pendant light, tearing out and reinstalling an entirely new countertop requires a lot more money and effort. Choose a quality work surface the first time and you won’t have to turn around and shell out more cash in a couple of years when the original one chips or stains.

 

One of Velinda’s regrets is the cheap $200 eBay faucet she installed in that same kitchen five years ago. Since then, the metal corroded and shoddy threads cause it to spin around at the base. A plumber recently quoted $500 just to replace it, making her yearn for the nicer $650 faucet she originally considered. It would have been a better deal in the long run, without the added hassle. “Although it sounded like a boring thing to invest in on my small budget, I had to learn the hard way that quality plumbing fixtures make a difference,” Velinda says.

Consider Cabinets

Few things cause more sticker shock than new custo m kitchen cabinets. One strategy is to use existing cabinetry wherever possible, especially when it’s made of real wood and still in good condition. Fresh paint and new hardware go far for just a couple hundred bucks, if you tackle the work yourselves. (In fact, the more you knowledgeably DIY, the more you save, whether it’s demo, painting, or even plumbing.) For non-handy types, refacing is also an option, which updates the outwardly visible parts of an existing cabinet framework, namely the doors, side panels, and drawer fronts. It’s not as cheap as a couple of coats of paint, but can make old, outdated cabinets look like a completely new and different animal, without the custom price tag.

Sometimes cabinets aren’t salvageable. Enter IKEA, the best-known brand in the world of ready-to-assemble budget alternatives. Their SEKTION line features modular units with a lot of flexibility and good quality European-made hardware for the price. Save money by going the IKEA route, then skip their doors and upgrade to semi-custom ones from Reform or Semihandmade to substantially elevate the look. You can also powder coat any RTA cabinets, says Velinda, and get picky about exact tones of paint, just as you would with a custom build. “I’m all for that splurge rather than trying paint yourself,” she says. Plus, the finish is easier to clean and will hold up longer, with fewer scratches.

Treat Yourself

After successfully saving your pennies elsewhere, consider at least one decent splurge to take your kitchen to the next level. “Lighting is an easy way to upscale your project, without a huge price tag. Look to Etsy for reasonably-priced, but handmade, pieces that will bring a touch of something special to your room,” says Velinda. “You’ll support makers along the way, so it’s a win-win.”

Melanie herself loves good minimalist design that streamlines everything, and panel-ready appliances—fitted with custom covers that match the rest of the kitchen’s cabinetry—are one of her favorite ways to supercharge the end result. “It's crazy how much more expensive this type of fridge is, but, the cool thing is, once the cabinetry is done, it completely goes away.”

 

 

 

 

Untitled design (5)

3 Big Real Estate Myths

There are many real estate 'rules' that aren't absolute truths across the board! Take a look at these three big ones and get a better idea of what does and doesn't apply to you and your home.

Untitled design (6)

ROI under 100% = A Bad Remodel

It’s rare that a remodeled kitchen or bathroom will result in a complete return on investment, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent. What people don’t seem to factor into the equation is the fact that, until the day you sell your home, you’ll have the benefit of enjoying the remodel yourself! Let’s say that you get 75% ROI on a remodeled kitchen, but you got to enjoy that kitchen for a year before selling. I’d chalk that up to a win.

Untitled design (8)

Swimming Pools Make It Harder to Sell a Home

No home is going to appeal to every market, but that’s not the point! The point is to find one perfect buyer. If swimming pools don’t appeal to older home buyers, such as empty nesters, then they’re simply not part of the market for that particular property. Families with young kids looking for a home to grow into, a pool could be a huge selling point, especially in warm climates. The point is, and this applies to all features, not just pools, unique features may cut down the number of potential buyers, but that’s ok; it only takes one.

Untitled design (7)

”They just remodeled, we don’t need an inspection.”

Some buyers are under the impression that, if a house was recently built or remodeled, it must have been done correctly, making an inspection unnecessary. This is simply untrue. At the end of the day, you can’t be too careful when making the biggest investment of your life. The exterior and surface may look great, but if the core of the home has issues, you need to know about it.


Oh, Baby! What You Should Always Baby-Proof at Home

- Brittany Stager


Bringing a baby home is a magical moment and, once that baby is placed in your arms, there’s an undeniable urge to keep them as safe as possible—especially in your own home. So how do you keep your baby happy, safe, and away from mischief? Baby-proofing!

The best time to baby-proof a home is before your newborn has arrived—trust us, there will be very little time to dedicate to the task once they’ve arrived! If you’re moving into a new house with baby in tow, have a plan mapped out for what things you’ll need to baby-proof once you take possession.

Cutting the clutter and eliminating hazards around the home is not only important for the safety of your baby, but for you as well. There may be many sleepless nights during the first few months, so make it easy on yourself to navigate your home safely during the wee hours of the night or on little sleep. Slippery floors, unstable furniture, or inconveniently placed home accessories can quickly turn into an unsafe situation when holding a baby.

If you’re getting ready to welcome a new bundle of joy into your life, here are a few items you should always baby-proof to ensure your home is safe for newborns, toddlers, and parents.

Cords

There’s no lack of cords in the everyday home. From blinds to electrical, cords are an easy and important thing to baby-proof. Remove, cut or mount any long cords from blinds, drapes, or shades so they’re not within reach. Use cord holders to manage the cables in your media centre or computer cords in your home office. Consider taping down any extension cords or tuck them under furniture so they aren’t easily accessible. And don’t forget the cord on your baby monitor! Make sure it doesn’t hang over or behind their crib.

Paint

If the nursery needs a fresh coat of paint or wall treatment be sure to finish the project at least eight weeks before the baby is due. This will help reduce their exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other fumes. If your home was built before 1976 it’s best to have a professional come look at any paint that’s flaking or peeling as it could contain lead, which is harmful if ingested.

Heavy furniture and décor accessories

A functional piece of furniture to adults looks like a fun climbing challenge to toddlers! Bookcases, cabinets, dressers, media units, and other top-heavy furniture should be secured to the wall to prevent tipping. TVs should also be tethered or mounted to the wall away from reach. If your nursery features a gallery wall above the crib, ensure the frames are mounted securely to the wall. In addition to the standard picture hanging hardware, 3M command strips can be used to ensure those frames aren’t going anywhere! Remove and store any décor accessories that might be unsafe, such as glass candle holders, vases with beads, tabletop picture frames, or sharp objects.   

Plants

There are so many benefits to keeping plants in your home, but once your baby starts crawling around the house, be sure you know what types you’re growing. Peace Lily, Philodendron, Pothos, Oleander, Ivy, and Arrowhead are all toxic if ingested, so if you have these plants either give them away or place them out of reach.

Pet food and toys

No, you can’t baby-proof a cat or dog, but you can be conscious and aware of how your baby or toddler interacts with them! Even the friendliest dogs can become possessive of their food and toys when an unpredictable guest is in the vicinity. Move your pet’s food and toys into another room or corner, away from grabby hands and curious mouths. Never allow your pet to sleep with your baby as they can smother them unknowingly. Lastly, no matter how comfortable your pet seems around children, never leave them alone with a baby or toddler. It takes mere seconds for a cat to scratch or a dog to nip delicate skin. 

Pool

Pools are great for families, offering hours of fun and exercise, but if you don’t take pool safety seriously, tragic accidents can happen. If you have a pool, install a self-locking fence at least four feet tall. You’ll also need to consult your local bylaws to see what safety protocols are mandatory for your area. Hard pool covers or nets can also prevent a baby or toddler from accidentally falling in. Alarm systems on doors or pool gates can alert you if your child (or an intruder) has entered your pool. Keep the pool clear of floaties, toys, and other objects that can be a temptation for children to reach in and try to grab. Lastly, if you own a pool, take a CPR course. It’s something you hope you will never need, but it could save a life if you do.

Doors and drawers

Imagine the joy and excitement you would feel every time you opened a door or drawer and found something new inside! For your baby or toddler, exploring those doors and drawers is endless fun, but if you don’t want pots and pans or the contents of your freezer scattered around the kitchen, it might be best to invest in a variety of locks! And don’t stop at the kitchen—lock-up cabinets in the bathroom, mudroom, dining room, and bedrooms.  

Stairs

We know, baby gates can be a bit of an eyesore, but they do prevent your little one from taking a big tumble. Install baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs, or in front of any room you don’t want your baby exploring. There will also come a time when your child will start climbing the stairs on their own. If you have wooden treads that can become slippery, try installing a carpet runner, making it easy for them to gain traction.

Without a doubt, kids will find a way to grab, pull, poke, stand on, and touch anything in their little paths. If you’ve baby-proofed your home but are still unsure of what hazards could lie ahead, get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. Seeing the world from your baby’s point of view might help you identify hidden dangers and address them before accidents happen. 

Enjoy your newly baby-proofed home!

 

Source - https://www.realtor.ca/blog/oh-baby-what-you-should-always-baby-proof-at-home/21758/1363


15 Expensive Decorating Mistakes Designers Won’t Make Again (and How You Can Avoid Them, Too)

white modern kitchen island bench with high chairs and terrazzo floor
Credit: Jodie Johnson/Shutterstock
 

Let’s face it: Some lessons in life are learned the hard way. Often, making a mistake is the best way to figure out what not to do in the future. When the stakes are high and the outcome is costly, you tend to remember an experience and grow from it, with the hope (in theory) that you’ll never repeat it again.

Well, this same sentiment applies to decorating your home. Seemingly trivial design decisions can turn into expensive issues fast—and often, these things could have been avoided with a little bit of planning, prep, or research. Curious about what rookie mistakes might cost you major moolah in the long run? Here, a handful of interior designers are sharing their insight on the pricey decorating mistakes they’ve made in the past. Hopefully, you can vicariously learn through them—I know I will!

1. Not checking out big-ticket furniture items in person

It might seem like a hassle or an extra step in the decorating process, but it’s always worth taking the time to visit a furniture showroom or a brick-and-mortar store (once they’re open) to see a piece in real life before buying it, if possible. “Products don’t always look like the pictures online,” says designer Anna Filippova of Hyphen & Co. “Seeing a product in person or requesting a [fabric or finish] sample can prevent this mistake from happening. Samples are specifically helpful in the situation of visualizing the product with the rest of the elements in the space before the purchase.”

Many companies often charge restock fees and won’t pay for return shipping either, so it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you are getting before it shows up on your doorstep. You could save yourself a substantial amount time and money in the long run this way, even if you have to shell out a little cash upfront for a sample or waste an hour window shopping.

Post Image
Credit: Rawpixel/Getty Images

2. Forgetting to test paint colors in different lighting situations

Whether it’s sunlight streaming into your windows or the color of your light bulbs, designer Rachel Cannon of Rachel Cannon Limited Interiors says lighting can alter the color of your paint. “On one of our projects, after painting the walls of a room a nice gray color, their contractor installed pink LED bulbs throughout,” says Cannon. “The bulbs completely changed the look of the gray paint and made the walls look pink, to which our client expressed great concern and even thought repainting the entire house was necessary!”

Ultimately, Cannon bought the right temperature bulbs, and all was well. For best results, however, you should test paint on all of the walls you plan on painting in a given room or rooms before committing to a color. Remember to look at swatches at different times of day, too, so you can see how the sun and artificial lighting will impact the look of the shade.

3. Using small-scale wallpaper designs in big rooms

Make no mistake about it: designers Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters of Forbes + Masters say that installing wallpaper with a small-scale texture or print in a large room can be a costly mistake. “Beautiful textures and prints wind up getting lost in the space and read as solid color from a distance,” Forbes says. “Small-scale wallpapers are better suited for powder rooms or small entryways,” adds Masters. 

 
Post Image
Credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/Getty Images

4. Not measuring furniture before buying it

If you ask designer Linda Sullivan of Sullivan Design Studio, nothing is worse than falling in love with a furnishing only to discover that it’s the wrong size for your home. “Take out that measuring tape and blue painter’s tape and map out the exact dimensions of your desired new purchase to help you understand how it will work in your space,” she says. “Informed decisions save money (and the hassle of returns)!” 

Better yet, measure twice just to be sure you have the right dimensions. Consider recording those numbers in a note on your phone to reference later. If you don’t have a specific piece in mind, measure the spot on your floor and wall you’d ideally want to fill. That way, if you’re shopping for a piece at an outdoor tag sale or later at a store, you won’t have to guess at what a proper sized piece would be.

5. Leaving your design plan up in the air

Sure, you may be head-over-heels in love with an expensive sofa, but designer Justin Q. Williams of Trademark Design Co. believes blowing your entire decorating budget on a single piece of furniture isn’t a very smart idea—particularly if you haven’t taken the time to make a design plan before your start shopping. “There’s nothing worse than walking into an empty room with a stunning sofa and nothing else,” he says. “Make a plan and budget for your space before you start decorating.”

Your design plan doesn’t have to include a fancy drawing or mood board. It can be as simple as a Pinterest board, a list of items you need, and a figure that you need to stay under for the entire project that’s itemized out for particular furnishings, give or take a bit.

6. Cheaping out on window treatments

Although it might seem savvy to buy inexpensive window treatments up front,
Haley Weidenbaum, interior designer and founder of Everhem, says it could cost you in the long run. “As a designer, I’ve realized that every window has different dimensions, thus, you can’t buy one size to fit all your windows,” she says. “Investing money in custom window treatments, versus prefabricated panels, ensures you get the perfect look and fit so you won’t have to replace them later.” 

white living room and kitchen
Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images

7. Buying white or pale upholstered furniture

If you’re thinking about ordering a sofa or armchair upholstered in very light colored fabric, designer Danielle Fennoy of Revamp Interior Design says you might want to reconsider. “My biggest design mistake to date has been ordering an egg chair in white wool fabric,” she says. “Within a very short period of time, it was a hot mess. Moving happened, then a baby, and eventually the chair was unrecognizable. Save yourself the headache and always go with something with a little color or pattern.” 

 
Four white wire sculpture Bertoia chairs around an Eero Saarinen style Tulip Table in a bay window PREMIUM ACCESS  Extra small  Small  Medium 1415 x 2126 px (4.72 x 7.09 in) 300 dpi | 3.0 MP  Large DOWNLOAD AGAIN Notes      Editorial use only DETAILS
Credit: Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images

8. Overdoing designer goods

If you aren’t mixing both high and low budget furnishings into your decor scheme, designer Erin Hackett of Hackett Interiors says you’re missing out on an opportunity for true variety in your space. “People oftentimes make the mistake of thinking that in order to get a luxurious feel in their homes, they have to splurge on every item within each room,” she says. “The best way to create balance in your home—and your budget—is to purchase one or two statement pieces in each space such as a sofa, bed, or dining set, and then you can add in playful, personal accent details and accessories that won’t break the bank such as art, vases, greenery, and pillows.” 

9. Failing to pad a wallpaper order

When it comes time to dress up the walls of your home, designer Anne Carr says not ordering enough wallpaper can be a simple but expensive mistake. “Even if you order more of the exact same wallpaper, sometimes the colorways won’t match,” she says. “Always have the installer give you an estimate, as they typically do this for free.”

In addition, a good rule of thumb is to order about 10 to 20 percent more wallpaper than you actually need to complete your job. That way, your dye lots will definitely match should you have measured wrong, and you’ll have extra paper should a mistake be made in install. If all goes perfectly, having an extra roll or so means you’ll also have the ability to replace a panel or two, if need be, in the future.

10. Ignoring your room’s scale

When investing in quality furniture, designer Liles Dunnigan of The Warehouse Interiors says it’s essential to make sure the scale of a piece is proportionate to the size of the room. “A huge sectional in a small room will feel cramped, no matter how luxurious or beautiful the piece of furniture may be,” she explains. “On the other hand, if you have a spacious room, do not skimp out on a small sofa or loveseat. It will feel as if it’s floating in a sea of emptiness. Furniture pieces need to be proportional as they relate to one another.”

11. Not measuring the legs of your dining chairs

Nothing ruins a dinner party faster than a dining chair that won’t fit at the table. “Always measure to make sure the legs of your dining chairs fit between the legs of your table,” says designer Marika Meyer. “In my rookie days, I neglected to measure for the ‘extra’ chair that would be added when a client’s dining table was fully extended. We got a call on Christmas Eve from the client because the extra chairs wouldn’t fit—now I always remember to measure twice!”

While you’re at it, be sure that the chairs you are picking are also high enough for the table—and not too high either. Generally, chairs fall into a standard range, but sometimes there are outliers. Measure twice here, too, since it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 
Minimalist home working space with green plants
Credit: Morinka/Shutterstock

12. Filling up a space quickly just to “finish” it

No matter how enticing the price tag on an inexpensive piece of furniture may be, Sullivan says investing in a bunch of poorly made furnishings just to complete your room almost always ends in regret. “We suggest pausing on the cheap chair or lamp if it is not absolutely necessary for your space and waiting to save up for the dream one you want to carry with you to all your future homes,” she says. “This will not only save you money, but you will start to curate a collection of items you adore.”

13. Using “postage stamp” sized rugs

If you thought buying a bunch of small rugs—instead of one large area rug—was a smart way to save money when decorating a room, designer Kendall Wilkinson says you’re mistaken. “Rugs serve to anchor the entire room’s design and unify the overall aesthetic,” she explains. “When the rug is too small, it feels like a postage stamp, and the scale as a whole and proportion of the space will suffer.”

According to Wilkinson, a cluster of too-small rug screams “mistake” and is often a costly fix. Typically, the only option is to purchase an entirely new rug in the proper size, since it’s also tough to layer similar smaller rugs without a larger anchor rug underneath them. You’d be better off buying a cheaper, less fancy large rug than trying to make something more decorative but smaller work in your space, even if you have multiples.

14. Not double-checking natural materials before installing them

If you plan on using any natural finishes in your home, such as stone tile or countertops, designer Ashley Moore of Moore House Interiors says to make sure to inspect everything prior to installation. That way, you are sure that materials you have received are what you actually had in mind. 

“For one project, we installed natural stone in the shower without checking the tile beforehand,” she explains. “Since natural stone varies, as opposed to man-made materials, there can be major differences in color and detail [of individual pieces]. It ended up having so much variation that it didn’t look cohesive and had to be completely redone. That’s a mistake we won’t be making again—it’s always better to send back or reorder before something is installed!”

15. Not measuring your elevator—or doorways

While you may have double checked the dimensions of the sofa you ordered to ensure it’s the right size for your living room, designer Megan Hopp advises you to measure your doorway and elevator (if applicable), too. “Early on in my career, I ordered not one but two oversized velvet sofas for a loft space I was working on in Manhattan—no question the sofas would fit the space perfectly—but did I think about the elevator ride up?” she says. “No, and it wasn’t even a close fit: There was no way I was getting those sofas in and up. They immediately needed to be loaded back on the truck and returned to the vendor with a steep restocking fee.”

 

That’s a mistake in the world of elevators that Hopp will never make again, but even if you don’t live in on a high floor of an apartment building, something like this could happen with your doorways. To cover all of your bases, it’s best to think about the process of physically getting items into your space as much as their fit in the spots that will ultimately be their final destinations.

Caroline Biggs

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/expensive-decorating-mistakes-36763444

 

 


Presalechecklistheader

Selling your home takes some preparation! Here’s some things you can do to minimize the last-minute chores and tasks that come with selling:

  1. Figure out how much cost you may incur for repairs and upgrades so that you can either budget for it or know how much would be appropriate for buyers to knock off the sale price, if you want them to take on those costs.
  2. Deep cleaning is not fun, but it’s very necessary when you’re getting ready to sell. Don’t want to pay for a cleaning crew? Depending on how large your home is, you may want to recruit a squad of friendly volunteers. Just offer some delicious food and perhaps a future ride to the airport.
  3. Make sure your yard is at its peak! This is something you can and should start improving a few months before you actually list. Yard work and gardening can hardly be drastically improved overnight.
  4. The majority of homeowners have a lot of stuff, nothing in particular, just stuff. Pack the non-essentials and store it elsewhere when it’s getting close to listing time. Uncluttered floors appear larger, cleaner, and more attractive. Don’t worry, your go-to recliner will be waiting for you in your new home, I promise!
  5. You know what gets pretty dirty and needs a checkup from time to time? Chimneys and fireplaces! If you have one or more, get them cleaned and inspected by experts to make sure they look pristine, and to prevent a nasty repair surprise!


What Every First-Time Home Buyer Needs for Their Pet

Dog-yard_2

First-time home buyers usually have a long list of things they're looking for in a home. But there's one family member a lot of people forget about when they're house hunting. Your pet.

Here's how to find a home that works for you and your furball. 

Check out the yard

The yard is your dog's de facto domain, so you'll want to make sure it's appropriate for him.

Think about the things that might be a problem down the road. Is it big enough? If all you have is a little patio, you can still make it work, but it's going to mean a lot more walks to help keep your pup in shape.

Do you need a fence in your yard? Does it need to be high because your dog is an acrobat? Remember, not having a fence isn't necessarily a dealbreaker for the house as long as you're allowed to add one later.  

Make sure there are pet-friendly spaces

It's not just your yard you need to look at through your pet's eyes.

Make sure your potential home is set up to accommodate your pet. That might mean a laundry room or closed off the kitchen where your pup can stay safe and contained when you're out of the house or it might mean a sunroom where your indoor cat can monitor the outdoors. 

Look for a neighborhood that's friendly to first-time buyers and their pets 

Look for a neighborhood that's close to the types of things you like to do with and without your pet.

If your perfect Saturday is walking to the dog park and then heading over to the local coffee shop, then be sure to let your Realtor know so she can look for neighborhoods where that's possible.

If you have a dog or an outdoor cat, you should also be sure to check that some of your neighbors are also pet owners. Those people will likely be more understanding when they see your cat outside or when your dog decides to chase a squirrel across the street.

While you're thinking about the neighborhood, you should also check to see if there are any restrictions on pets. Some cities have breed-specific bans or only allow a certain number of pets in a home. Even if your city is pet-friendly, your HOA might have a few other restrictions on your pet and the last thing you want is to have to decide between your first home and your furbaby. 

So, start revising your list of things you're looking for and get ready to find a home for the whole family. 


5 Steps Toward Energy Efficiency at Home

Energy

Energy bills are something every homeowner must deal with, but there are ways to reduce your energy bill without sacrificing your comfort. Here are a few ways you can make your home more energy efficient.

Replace Your Water Heater

Water heaters make up approximately 15-25% of energy costs, so getting a more efficient water heater could help you save a significant amount on your bill.

Infographic-246-285-12_info_verticalC_688-542x1024

Make Sure Your Home is Properly Sealed

Making sure there are no leaks letting large amounts of air in or out of your home is an easy way to save on energy costs. This can happen with in the doors, windows, attics, or basements. Seal those leaks!

Air-seal-caulking-425x1024

Add Insulation

In the same vein as sealing leaks, adding insulation is an effective strategy to make sure your home isn’t drastically affected by the weather outside. Obviously if you can keep your home from getting too hot or too cold, you don’t have to spend as much on energy costs!

Energy-loss-insulation-infographic-cover-768x543

Install a Programmable Thermostat

With a programmable thermostat, you can easily reduce energy costs by setting the climate control systems to achieve the optimal temperature for lower costs.

Serenity-display

Less Air Conditioning, More Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans circulate air around your home at a cost that’s significantly cheaper than running the air conditioner all day, everyday.

A-guide-to-air-conditioner-maintenance-1


Header: Backyard Olympics

Summer means time to get outside and have a party. Whether it’s with friends, neighbors, or a family reunion, there’s always an excuse to have a good time safely. Every good party needs a theme, and with the Summer Olympics set to begin at the end of the month, we thought we’d share a few ideas on how you can host your own backyard Olympic-themed party.

Backyard Games

​A little friendly competition won’t hurt anyone. Set up several games for teams to compete in throughout the party. Swap out the real Olympic sports for fun classic yard games like horseshoes, cornhole, frisbee golf, yard darts, and giant Jenga are a few classics.

Gold Medal Decorations

​Create your own Olympic rings and have them featured throughout your yard and house. String up flags representing different countries, and to top it off, you can build a small winners podium for the winners to collect their medals at the end of the day. You can create Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals for the winners.

Championship Food

​Every competitor needs to satisfy their appetite, so here are a few snack ideas for your Olympic party. Try making edible torches, a gelatin swimming pool, or medal cookies. You can check out the recipes and other ideas here.

 

We hope these ideas inspire your Olympic spirit and you conquer your backyard Olympics. We’d love to hear about your favorite backyard games. If you’re looking for a new home for your backyard fun, our Team would be happy to help you with all of your real estate needs. Reply to this email or give us a call to set up a time to talk.


Are you the right fit for a hybrid mortgage?

A paltry 4 per cent choose hybrid (a.k.a. combination) mortgages, Mortgage Professionals Canada says. A hybrid mortgage lets you split your borrowing into two or more rates. The most common example is the 50/50 mortgage, in which you put half your mortgage in a fixed rate and half in a variable rate.

Some hybrids let you mix the terms (contract lengths) as well. You might put one-third in a short fixed term, for example, and two-thirds in a long term. With certain lenders, such as Bank of Nova Scotia, National Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, HSBC Bank Canada and many credit unions, you can mix and match rates and terms in almost infinite combinations.

The point of a hybrid mortgage is to reduce your exposure to unexpected adverse interest-rate movements. If variable rates shoot up and you have half your borrowing in a long-term fixed rate, you'll feel less pain than if you had your entire mortgage in a variable or shorter term. Conversely, if rates drop, you still enjoy part of the benefit.

Hybrid mortgages can fit the bill for folks who:

  • Are torn between a fixed and variable rate;
  • Think rates should stay low but who can’t bear the thought (or cost) of them soaring;
  • Want a lower penalty if they break their mortgage early (big penalties are a common curse of longer-term fixed rates);
  • Have a spouse who has the opposite risk tolerance.

So why, then, is only one in 25 borrowers choosing hybrids, a number that hasn't changed much in years?

Well, for one thing, hybrids are misunderstood. They're also insufficiently promoted, entail more closing costs and (often) have uncompetitive rates. But not always.

The costs

One knock against hybrids is that they're more expensive at renewal. They must be refinanced, which usually entails legal fees. By contrast, when you switch lenders with a standard ("non-collateral") mortgage, the new lender usually pays your legal and appraisal costs.

This disadvantage is most applicable to folks with smaller loan sizes. If your mortgage is $200,000 or more, those refinance costs equate to a rate premium of less than a one-10th of a percentage point on a five-year mortgage. That's peanuts for the diversification benefits of a hybrid rate, especially if you can find a lender or broker to cover those refinance costs.

Hybrids to avoid

There's a strategy in bond trading called laddering. That's where you buy multiple bonds with different maturity dates to lower your risk. If rates dive, your long-term bonds will still pay higher interest. If rates soar, your short-term bonds will mature quicker, letting you reinvest in better rates sooner.

Homeowners can ladder, too. One method is to get a combination mortgage and set up five segments: a one-, two-, three-, four- and five-year term. That way, only a portion of your borrowing will mature every year. So you'll never have to renew the entire mortgage balance at unfavourable rates.

That may seem appealing on the surface, but it's really a sucker's play. The problem is, whenever any segment comes up for renewal, the lender has you over a barrel. Lenders aren't charities. They maximize revenue at maturity by evaluating your available options. They know that people with staggered terms have to pay a penalty to leave if they don't like the lender's offer. Those penalties can cost thousands (or tens of thousands). So lenders typically give lacklustre renewal rates to borrowers with differing maturity dates.

Quick perspective: If you have to pay a rate that's even two-10ths of a percentage point higher, that's roughly $1,800 in extra interest over 60 months on a typical $200,000 mortgage.

The best combos

If you're going to go hybrid, match up the terms. For example, pair a five-year fixed with a five-year variable. That way, both portions mature at the same time. Then, if you don't like your lender's renewal quote on one portion, you can fly the coop with no penalties.

And by all means, shop around. The majority of hybrids have junk rates. Look for rates that are within 0.15 percentage points of the market's best, for each segment in the mortgage.

Should you get one?

Virtually no one on Earth can consistently time interest rates. No banker, no broker, no economist, no Bank of Canada governor, not even money managers paid millions. But with hybrids, timing matters less. They take the guesswork out of rate picking.

Granted, if you're a well-qualified, risk-tolerant, financially secure borrower, you're often better off in the lowest-cost standard mortgage you can find. And there's historical research to back that up. But if your budget has less breathing room or rate fluctuations make you slightly queasy, hybrids are worth a look.

Just be sure that your mortgage is big enough, that all portions renew at the same time and that you avoid hybrids with uncompetitive rates on one or more portions.

 

 

 

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/mortgages-and-rates/are-you-the-right-fit-for-a-hybrid-mortgage/article31280880/


Remodel-1200x800

6 Ways to Avoid Delays on Your Remodel

Unexpected delays can quickly turn a fun home remodeling project into stressful misery. But you’ve got more power than you think to keep your project on schedule — and it all comes down to what you do before a single nail is hammered. These six proactive tips will help you avoid remodel problems so your project runs smoothly.

1. Choose your team carefully

When you hire a contractor, the burden of verifying their credentials falls squarely on your shoulders. Start by checking the Better Business Bureau’s website for red flags, as well as visiting LexisNexis online (which requires a subscription) to see if any lawsuits have been filed against potential contractors.

It’s also important to get valid references, stresses David Merrick, president of Merrick Design and Build in Kensington, Maryland. Rather than simply trusting online reviews, Merrick suggests doing some legwork.

“Visiting a project that is actually in progress is the best way to get a reference,” says Merrick, who also serves as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Metro D.C. chapter. “So if you’re serious about hiring a contractor, and you want to take the time to check their references, ask to talk to [a current client] or visit a job they have in production.”

Merrick goes on to explain that homeowners should also check contractors’ license statuses online and “request a certificate of insurance. This comes directly from the insurance agent without going through the contractor’s hands, so you know it’s not forged.” This official document also lets you know whether the contractor’s policy is sufficient for your project’s size, and if workers’ compensation coverage is included.

2. Build in a budget cushion

Setting aside money for unexpected costs could help prevent your project from being delayed indefinitely.

Although good contractors usually spot evidence of costly problems during the initial estimate, some issues don’t reveal themselves until the walls are opened up, explains Rebecca Davila, owner of Building Dreams, a construction and renovation company in Hawthorne, California. For this reason, she suggests homeowners protect themselves by factoring in a substantial budget cushion.

“You have to look at having at least 20% to 25% [more] money on the side of your project,” she advises, “just in case of unforeseen conditions.”

3. Order materials early

Backorders and slow order fulfillment can stop renovations in their tracks. That’s why it’s essential to select and order tiles, fixtures and other materials your contractor requests as early as possible. It’s also crucial to choose products that are in stock and can be delivered quickly.

“Make sure you have everything ready and available,” Davila says. “You don’t want to order something and find out you’re on hold for six weeks, and your whole project stops for that item.”

4. Pay attention to permits

To maintain building codes and regulations, renovations often require permits. Be aware that the larger your project is, the longer it may take for permit approval — and for very large jobs, it could take months.

Professional contractors generally have a good feel for permit requirements and lead times and should know when to file to keep your project on schedule. Merrick warns that if a contractor asks you to get a permit yourself, that’s a major red flag.

“Any time a contractor asks a homeowner to pull a permit, there’s a reason,” he cautions. “They’re either lazy or they’re not properly licensed. They’re usually doing it because they’re not licensed.”

Having your contractor pull permits is also preferable for liability reasons. “The contractor’s name should be on it because they should be liable for it,” Davila says.

5. Get everything in writing

Before any work begins or money changes hands, you’ll need to sign a detailed contract. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and protects against being left high and dry with your project unfinished.

Renovation contracts should cover all the work being done and materials used, along with a clear payment schedule based on either time intervals or project completion levels. Know that a reputable contractor will never ask for full payment upfront or expect your final payment before the entire project is completed to your satisfaction. If you don’t understand the details of your contract, consider having a lawyer look it over.

6. Avoid change orders

One of the simplest ways to prevent remodeling delays (and budget disasters) is to be sure of what you want and stick with it. Changing your mind midstream results in change orders, which are contract amendments that occur when a customer decides to change project details like the location of a wall or the type of flooring.

Change orders not only create delays when new materials don’t arrive on time; they also can easily derail your well-planned budget. As Davila explains, “When a contractor gets a job, that’s when their prices are the lowest. When a change order comes in, they know that you have to do it so they can charge you anything.”


 The article 6 Ways to Avoid Delays on Your Remodel originally appeared on NerdWallet.

3_Increase_HV

 

First Thing’s First

When potential buyers arrive at your home, the first thing they’ll see is your front yard and the exterior of your home. Don’t overthink it, just go stand on the curb and fix the things that look a bit off to you. If your budget permits, have some landscaping done. A little bit of improvement will really go a long way.

Refresh Your Kitchen

It’s no surprise that the kitchen is a huge component of the home, so if you’re thinking about selling, it may be time to do some touch-ups. Replacing dated appliances with stainless steel versions would be extremely expensive, but replacing just one with a steel counterpart actually improves the feel of the whole kitchen. If you see some chipping or scratches on cabinetry, consider applying a coat of neutral paint. The neutral color will work for any buyer, and the cabinetry will looks as good as new.

Tackle The Bathroom

First of all, make sure everything in the bathroom is perfectly functional. That means no dripping faucets, showerheads, etc. Once everything is up to snuff, you can think about what upgrades you’d like to implement. New grout isn’t flashy, but it goes a long way in making a bathroom look cleaner and newer. You can also think about new and improved lighting or new countertops depending on budget.


20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

 

Bright and vivid colors – that is the first thought that come to your mind when you think of how to decorate your children rooms. You can make a lot for your children and spent a little time and money. We present you 20 inspiring ideas of how to make your children happy.

1. Use old pallets and make them shelves for the sneakers.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

2. Paint wooden branch and hang the curtains on it. Lovely.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

3.  Cool idea. Use skateboards as a shelves.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

4. Creative wall art for kids room.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

5. Make bed with old pallets.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

6. This is a good way to organize your kids socks.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

7. Make a drawing board.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

8.  Adorable indoor tee pee with pillows.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

9. Beautiful bed for girls.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

10. Awesome way to use your kids socks.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

11. All you need is paint and creativity to make this lovely nightstand.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

12. Make birdhouse lamp for sweet dreams.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

13. Wooden play house can be a lot of fun.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

14. Interesting rolling  bookshelf.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

15. Make some cute wall boxes for the toys.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

16. Use old pallets to make indoor swing.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

17. Colorful chandelier made out of your kids drawings.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

18. Make cute mushroom chairs out of wood and pillows.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

19. Interesting place to play and have fun.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

20. Why don’t you make a lovely bed that looks like a house.

20 DIY Adorable Ideas for Kids Room

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

St. Patrick's Day Dublin Style Lobster with Whiskey & Cream

 

INGREDIENTS

1 fresh lobster
50butter
4 tablespoons Irish whiskey
150 ml double cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon mustard
salt
black pepper
 

DIRECTIONS

  • Cut the lobster in two down the centre.
  • Remove all the meat, including the claws, retain the shell for serving.
  • Cut the meat into chunks.
  • Heat the butter until foaming and quickly sauté the lobster chunks in it, until just cooked but not coloured.
  • Warm the whiskey slightly, pour over the lobster and CAREFULLY set fire to it.
  • Once the flames have died down, add the cream, lemon juice, mustard and mix with the pan juices, and taste for seasoning, add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Put back into the half shells and place under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.
  • Serve hot with fresh lemon wedges, steamed baby potatoes and a fresh mixed salad.

 

Source: https://www.food.com/recipe/dublin-lawyer-lobster-dublin-style-with-whiskey-and-cream-288456?photo=cGhvdG8tMzc1MTY5

 


Homevalue

5 Simple Ways to Add Value to Your Home

Many people think that in order to add value to your home, you must undergo a big remodel or add a major feature like a pool. However, it doesn’t have to be that hard! Here’s five easy ways to add value to your home.

Paint-1024x683

Paint

Repainting parts of your home every once in awhile is a simple value adder, that is also fairly inexpensive. You don’t need to repaint everything; focus on the parts that a potential buyer would look at, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or bedrooms.

Patio-1024x604

Outdoor Seating

Adding a quality seating area in the backyard adds value by giving your outdoor space a better look. Prospective buyers will like the fact that you have another area where they could host guests or spend time with their family.

Bathroom-1024x717

Bathroom Upgrades

The bathroom is most likely going to be your least expensive room to upgrade, but could produce the most results. A more modern bathroom could go along way in convincing potential buyers that your home is the one for them.

Landscaping-1024x680

Landscaping

You certainly don’t need to go overboard in terms of landscaping, if you do, it’ll get expensive fast! However, adding to or improving upon the plant life surrounding your home will give prospective buyers get a better first impression of your home and make the exterior of your home brighter and more appealing.

Organized-1024x683

Store Effectively

No one wants to walk into a home that looks like it belongs to a hoarder. Decluttering your home will not only increase it’s value, but also make you feel more proud of your space while you’ll still living there. By the way, you know what makes storage and organization easier? Getting rid of some stuff you don’t need!


If you’re preparing your home because you’re thinking about selling, let’s talk!


Good Riddance to Open Floor Plans and Cabinets Galore: Top Kitchen Trends of 2021

 | Jan 12, 2021
 
kitchen-remodeling-trends-2021
Becki Peckham © Houzz
 
Homeowners forced by the coronavirus pandemic to hole up in their homes for much of the past year are changing a few things about their homes.
 
For starters, COVID-19 exposed the flaws of the open floor plans touted on HGTV and other design shows—finding a quiet space to jump on that Zoom meeting with the boss while the kids are remote learning a few feet away can be a logistical nightmare. Fewer homeowners created an open-concept floor plan leading into 2021, according to a recent survey from design and remodeling site Houzz.
 
Less than half of kitchen remodelers, or 43%, opened up their kitchen to other interior spaces, according to the survey. That's a big drop from the 53% of homeowners who did so in 2019.
 
(More than 2,000 homeowners responded to the survey conducted June 24 to July 9. They were all planning, working on, or had finished a kitchen remodel or addition in the past 12 months, or were expecting to begin one within three months.)

Kitchen storage has emerged as the must-do home renovation of 2021. About 94% of homeowners plan or did some work on their kitchen cabinets, with 63% replacing them. This may be because the pandemic made amateur chefs out of people more accustomed to dining out.

“Storage has really come into focus as people have spent more time at home during the pandemic,” Liza Hausman, Houzz vice president of industry marketing, said in a statement. “More homeowners are reaching out to professionals ... for help making their kitchens work better, most often within the same layout and square footage.”

Despite the recession and economic hardships, homeowners spent a median $35,000 upgrading their kitchens, the same as last year.

What kinds of kitchen remodels are in vogue?

People are spending more time cooking in their kitchens, so storage is becoming more important.

People are spending more time cooking in their kitchens, so storage is becoming more important.

Margaret Wright Photography © Houzz

For the third year in a row, transitional remained the top kitchen interior design style, although it's actually a hybrid of other styles, stealing a bit from here and a bit from there. Modern and contemporary rounded out the top three.

Homeowners are choosing Shaker-style cabinets, 57%, and white cabinet doors, 41%. Overall, neutral colors continued to reign supreme. Unobtrusive shades of gray, white, and beige were popular wall colors. More adventurous homeowners brightened them up with multicolor backsplashes; black, stainless appliances; and even blue walls.

Built-in specialty organizers, drawers, and trays are also popular with those trying to keep all of their stuff in its proper place. More than a third invested in a Lazy Susan, a revolving storage tray that became a staple in the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps they've been bingeing Netflix's "Get Organized With The Home Edit."

High-tech kitchen islands also remained on trend. About 63% of remodels included an island, and more than half of those islands featured a new appliance, such as a dishwasher or microwave, or both.

In addition, more than half of those renovating their kitchens upgraded their pantries or created a walk-in one.

What kinds of kitchen remodels fell out of favor?

Homeowners weren't as interested in upgrading light fixtures and appliances in 2021.

In addition, traditional hardwood flooring found itself on the outs.

Ceramic and porcelain tile, which looks like hardwood but is often more durable and water-resistant, were the top choice for kitchen flooring. Vinyl is also becoming popular, being used in about a fifth of remodels.

 

 

 

These affordable adjustments could translate to big returns for your home. Thinking about selling soon? Let's talk!


1t

 

Our team is delighted to be named the #1 RE/MAX nova Team for 2020.  We are beyond grateful to our wonderful clients, families and friends to whom we owe this great honour!
 
 
 

 

 

 

Did you know that it's National Heart Awareness month? In honor of that, We thought we'd share a few ways you can turn your home into a heart-healthy living space.​

One of the best ways to improve your heart health is to get regular exercise. Find a spot in your home to get a little exercise. Either create an actual gym with equipment or find a small corner in your home to put some small weights or workout bands so you can get a quick workout in.

Fill your pantry and refrigerator with plenty of heart-healthy foods. Make sure you have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. And stock your pantry with whole-grain foods, low-fat or fat-free pasta sauces, lentils, brown rice, and dried fruit, to name a few. 

Getting enough sleep is also an incredible way to remain heart-healthy. Paint your bedroom with warm, relaxing colors. Clutter creates stress, which doesn't help with catching up on sleep, so tidy up before bedtime. Also, pay attention to the amount of light in your bedroom. When it's time to sleep, you'll want it to be as dark as possible.

We hope these ideas will help you create a heart-healthy living area. A fresh start can also be healthy. If you're in the market for your next home, our team can help. Reply to this email or give us a call for all of your real estate needs.


Have Your Guest Feel Right at Home with These Guest Room Design Concepts

When you are decorating your home the last place you may focus on is your guest room. Many homeowners have stated that when it comes to the guest room in their home, they have yet to decide on how to properly decorate the space. In fact, many homes have a guest bedroom that is partially empty.

The idea of a guest bedroom is having a space where your guests can feel right at home when they are visiting you. It is also the one space in the home that does not need to match any of the other décor that is throughout the home. Here are a few guest bedroom design ideas that we think would be an excellent addition to your home.

 

Elegant Escape

Golden trim adds elegance to a room without being overpowering. Consider adding frames with a golden trim to help have a cohesive look throughout the entire room

 

Having a room appear elegant may seem like a difficult task. However, it is actually easier than you may think. The key is adding selective pieces that make all the difference. Choose furniture with a golden trim to add instant elegance.

 

Pretty Patterns

Although, one pattern is typically the best idea. Choosing more than one pattern will create a fun space that your guest will enjoy. When choosing more than one pattern consider sticking to one color scheme for the best results.

 

Add a sense of playfulness to your guest bedroom by adding pattern. A pattern is an excellent way to add color and a richness to a room without having to completely change your décor color scheme. Consider using one pattern throughout the entire room to give a cohesive appearance to the space.

 

Simple and Fresh

An intricate mirror behind the bed can make a huge difference in the way the room appears. If you have a small bedroom this is an excellent way of making the room appear larger. Mirrors create an illusion of a larger room.

 

Having a white theme in your guest bedroom is the key to having a room that feels simple and fresh. Choose light colored wooden furniture. Doing so will further enhance the simple décor. Likewise, consider adding mirrors on the wall.

 

Vacation Vibes

A tropical bedding accompanied by a few plants can give you the vacation feel you want the bedroom to have. Add an intricate chandelier and you have created the perfect relaxing space.

 

Give your guests an instant vacation when they visit you by creating a room that screams vacation. Offering your guest, a space that is relaxing yet practical is one of the best ways of making them feel right at home. Bamboo inspired furniture accompanied by tropical bedding will offer the vacation vibes you may seek.

 

Modern Spotlight

Black and white decor is elegant while still being edgy. Add a colorful plant or frame to the room to add some color to the room. 

 

Modern décor has become the latest trend to completely take over interior designing and when it comes to your guest bedroom this should not be an exception. A black and white color scheme is the perfect way to include the modern trend into your guest bedroom. Choose pieces that are high in contrast yet will make a huge impact when you enter the room.

 

Cottage Feel

For a relaxing feel choose light colored furniture. Light colored furniture offers a softer look than dark furniture would. For an added cottage feel to your guest bedroom add a textured and/or printed rug. This will add to the cozy feel you have going on in the room.

 

Offer your guests a cozy atmosphere with a cottage themed guest room. Cottage homes have always been known for being cozy and warm. Create the same ambiance for your guests by layering patterned bedding on a dark wood bed frame. Pair it with modern accessories to seamlessly combine the old with the new.

 

Pampering Pastels

Add metallic accessories to your pastel themed bedroom. Consider golden tone accessories as well as silver and if you want to take it a step further choose accessories in rose gold.

 

No color scheme screams pampering like a pastel color scheme. There is something very calming and beautiful in pastel colors. Likewise, they offer a diversity of colors without being overpowering. Use colorful furniture mixed with white linen for the ultimate pampering color scheme. Consider having fresh flowers in the room to complete the look.

 

Eye-catching Focus

A tropical wallpaper may be exactly what your guest bedroom may need in order to feel modern and upscale. In fact, it is an excellent way to revamp a room without making too many changes
 

To create an eye-catching space, give your walls the ultimate focus by having a bold patterned wallpaper. Wallpaper is an excellent way of decorating with color and texture without using furniture. Use wallpaper patterns that are easy to work around such as floral print, stripes and/or tropical print. Keep the rest of the room, neutral to truly have the focus be your wallpaper.

 

Sophisticated Retreat

Pair your gray and yellow tones with other neutrals to create a perfect contrast that will help the bedroom appear cohesive and put together. Add an inticate lamp to modernize the space a little bit more. 

 

Sometimes your guest just trying to get away from their daily routine and have a sweet retreat in your home. Create a sophisticated retreat in our guest bedroom by using neutral tones such as gray, black or brown and pairing them with yellows, orange or pink. These colors paired together give you a sophisticated room that is still lively and bright.

 

Nautical Fun

If you want to do a nautical theme but do not want to incorporate bold colors such as red. Add nautical accessories instead. Nautical accessories can bring the entire look together without the need of using bold colors or patterns.

Create the ultimate fun retreat space for your guests with a nautical themed guest bedroom. A nautical theme brings beach vibes directly to your home. This can create the fun and relaxing space your guests need. Use colors red, white and blue along with ocean inspired accents. Pair the nautical colors with bold furniture to bring the entire look together.

Your guests deserve to have a beautiful bedroom that can make them feel right at home. With these guest bedroom concepts, you will be on your way towards creating a space that is well loved by your visitors. Let us know what concept you want to have in your guest bedroom.


Remodel-Move

How to Decide Whether You Should Remodel or Move

It’s not easy to decide whether you should remodel your home or it makes more sense to move. But if you’re asking the question, chances are you’ll be better off making some kind of change. Maybe your home no longer fits your family’s needs, or perhaps it’s showing signs of age. A home renovation might fix the problem, but so could putting your house up for sale and finding another one.

Either option will affect your wallet. But your decision also could affect much more, from neighbor relationships to school districts and work commutes. You’ll want to make the choice that’s right for you and your loved ones. Here are some tips to help you decide.

List home-improvement goals

Start by making a list of upgrades you’d be willing to pay for, either in your current home or a new one, says Michael Chadwick, a financial advisor in Unionville, Connecticut.

For example, if your family’s growing, you might want to add a bedroom or a bathroom. If you often cook at home but your kitchen space is older and inefficient, it might be time for an update.

“You’ll eventually use this list to estimate how much it would cost for a home remodel, and that can help you decide if it makes more financial sense to upgrade or sell,” Chadwick says.

Learn your local market

There are a few ways to get the answer to that question. One is to compare your home’s value with recent sales in your neighborhood, says Jenelle Isaacson, owner of Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon. If neighboring homes are worth more than your house, a remodel could bring the value of your property in line with others in your neighborhood, she says. This could be a good investment.

But if you already own the biggest house on the block, you probably won’t get a quick return on your money if you pay for a major remodel. This might not seem like an issue if you plan to live in your home for several years after paying for a renovation. But if you need to move sooner than expected — your job relocates you to another state, for example — your home might not sell for enough to make back the money you put into the project.

Be aware of any restrictions that your local community might place on making changes to your home. Contact city officials to learn about building codes and restrictions. And if you’re part of a homeowners association, ask a board member to provide neighborhood home-improvement guidelines.

If you need more space but have restrictions on adding square footage to your home, then selling and buying a bigger home will probably be the better choice.

 
Bigstock-beautiful-living-room-classic-71374033-1024x716

Estimate home-renovation costs

Find rough estimates for home-renovation projects by reading industry sources, such as Remodeling magazine, which publishes a list of typical renovation costs across the country. The average cost to add a bathroom, for example, is about $40,000, according to the magazine. If you’re leaning toward a remodel, contact a local contractor for a more detailed estimate.

Along with figuring the costs, you’ll also need to decide how to pay for a renovation. Homeowners often fund home-improvement projects with a mortgage refinance, a home equity line of credit or personal savings, says John Walsh, CEO of Total Mortgage in Milford, Connecticut.

“If you have more than 20% equity in your home, you may be able to take some of the money out and use it to pay for a renovation,” he says.

Compare costs for selling your home

If you sell your home, you might not have to pay for major renovations, but you’ll still have expenses. Full-service real estate agents usually charge a commission of about 6% of the purchase price. There also are moving expenses and travel costs to search for homes in different areas, which can add up quickly.

Add these costs together and you can expect to pay thousands of dollars before you even move to a new home. And you’ll need to have a down payment too.

If you have equity in your home, however, you can use money from the sale to help fund your next move, Walsh says.

Bigstock-Kitchen-In-Modern-Home-59957543-1024x683

Weigh emotional benefits

If you’re not happy with your home but like your neighborhood, it might make sense to upgrade the house and stay put, Isaacson says. “Being comfortable with your community is an intangible benefit that can’t be replaced when you move. If you love where you are and depend on your neighbors, it probably makes more sense to remodel,” she says.

The reverse is also true. If you’re not happy with your home’s location, or with other factors that a remodel can’t fix, it might make sense to sell and find another property, she says.

As a homeowner, you’ll want to carefully weigh the choice between remodeling and moving. By considering the financial and emotional effects of both options, you can confidently make the right decision.


This article originally appeared on NerdWallet.


 

 

As we dive into the new year, we all are probably thinking about our budgets for the year. For homeowners, that means mapping out the year’s home improvement projects. Planning, budgeting, and researching can help you save a lot of money when making improvements to your home. We’ve put together a roadmap to help you plan your remodeling project. Click below to find your home improvement plan.

 

Click Here for your Video Outline

 

We hope you find these tips helpful as you plan for your 2021 project. If you’re planning to buy or sell this year, Our Team is here to help. Reply to this email or call us to set up a time to meet.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.budgetdumpster.com/blog/ultimate-home-remodeling-project-plan/
https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/slideshows/the-best-time-of-year-for-every-home-improvement-project?slide=8


7 Things That Won't Increase Your Home Value

In fact, these improvements may subtract from your market price

 

This illustration describes common home improvements that don't necessarily increase property value including "Significant professional landscaping," "Upgraded utilities, like copper piping," "A new roof or HVAC system," "A swimming pool or spa," "Dated decor changes," "Painting your home," and "Solar panels."

 

Homeowners often assume that upgrades and renovations always increase their place's value and make it more sellable. But while many home improvements can add to a house's appeal, they may not, in fact, add value and, in some cases, could even act as a detriment when the property goes on the market. Here are seven of the most common home improvements that could turn out to be mistakes.

Extensive Professional Landscaping

You can build an entire amusement park in your backyard and it won't bring you big bucks upon resale. If you want to put in a waterfall that cascades down into a koi pond, do it because you enjoy the water feature, not because you're hoping to recoup the investment. Landscaping choices are a personal preference, and all the hand-crafted bridges and unique pergolas in the world won't dramatically boost your bottom line. And some buyers will inevitably see only the money required to keep that beautiful backyard well maintained.

Upgrading the Utilities

Although you may have paid thousands to install new copper or PEX plumbing, replace your sewer lines or septic system, or upgrade the electrical wiring to Romex or conduit, it's unlikely to bring you more dollars. These types of utility improvements are considered home maintenance—and your neighbors probably made them years before you. Of course, getting everything state-of-the-art isn't a bad idea: In certain areas, top-of-the-line is considered the standard, and without it, you could take a hit when selling time comes. 

 

New HVAC

Many buyers in the marketplace appreciate a home that features a brand-new furnace or HVAC system, but they won't pay you much extra for having replaced it. However, if the HVAC system is particularly energy-efficient, you should use that as a selling point; it may make a potential buyer more excited about purchasing your home.3

New Roof

The same holds true regarding a new roof: Replacing a roof past its average life expectancy of 30 years is considered a maintenance issue and won't necessarily enable you to up your asking price. But giving buyers who are on the fence the peace of mind that they won't have to make that costly repair anytime soon could spur them to make an offer.2

Swimming Pool or Hot Tub

The TV commercials for pools and hot tubs depict children having a blast splashing around and adults sipping cocktails in the bubbling water. Sadly, though, the cost and expense of aquatic amenities almost never find their way back into your pocket.4 Many people won't buy a home with a swimming pool. They don't want to deal with the upkeep or safety issues. In fact, as part of negotiations, a buyer might insist that you tear out the pool or whirlpool. If you want to install a pool or hot tub, do it because you will enjoy it, not because it will pay off when it's time to sell.

 

Making Quickly Dated Decor Changes

You might like white appliances and white ceramic counters, for example, but young home buyers do not. They are no longer "in." And don't go down the road of rose gold bathroom fixtures and door hardware. Even 12-inch-by-12-inch ceramic flooring has lost its appeal to some. The point is, don't deliberately decorate in the latest style for resale reasons. Fashion just changes too fast.5

 

Solar Panels

Sure, the salespeople at the solar panel company tell you that installing solar panels will enhance your home's value, but that's often not true. Going solar may be an admirable thing for the environment, but it usually does nothing for your residence's selling price. Moreover, if you have financed the solar panels, you probably can't sell the home without paying off the balance at closing, something that often is not disclosed.6

 

The Bottom Line

Some homeowners are devastated to find out that the improvements they invested in—and perhaps borrowed money for—not only do not improve the value of their property but might actually detract from it. Fortunately, while most of these enhancements won't help you turn a bigger profit, they probably won't hurt, either—and they might make it easier to sell your home by giving the buyer peace of mind. Just don't confuse buyer peace of mind with an elevated price tag.


 

5 Signs It’s Time To Go From Apartment To House

Have you been thinking of trading in your previously adequate apartment for a bigger living space? Here are five signs it might be time to move into a single-family residence.

Pexels-photo-377058

1. You’re ready to expand your family

This is one of the most popular reasons to upgrade. If you’re thinking of having kids, it’s hard to say no to a backyard and the opportunity for a treehouse!
 
Apt

2. You’re feeling cramped in your current space

While apartments can be cozy, a house offers a lot more open space, multiple seating areas when hosting guests (we’ll get to that in a moment), and a clear separation between the bedrooms and the rest of the house.
 
Pexels-photo-1-1024x683

3. You want to host people more often

Your current apartment can probably only comfortably fit so many people. If you want to have more parties and gatherings at your place, moving into a house is definitely your best bet.

Pexels-photo-94904-1024x683

4. You crave more privacy

Hate that your neighbors are always asking you to turn down the music? Tired of hearing arguments from that couple upstairs? It might be time for you to move into a place entirely your own so you can have as many dance parties as you want!
 
Dog-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-funny-pet-162167-1024x737

5. You’re tired of constantly taking your pet outside

Pets might be our best friends and loyal companions, but it wouldn’t hurt for them to be a little more independent. Moving into a home with a backyard would allow the opportunity to have a dog door, meaning your pet can just go right outside whenever they feel the need and you can go on living your life!


Think it might be time to start the search for your dream home? Let’s talk today!


These Pandemic-Related Housing and Design Trends Aren't Going Away

 | Nov 4, 2020

Beautiful real estate agent pointing at the view to customer both looking very cheerful but wearing protective face masks

Home trends come and go, but social distancing and staying at home have ushered in a new way of life—and some of those changes have spurred home trends that are likely to stick around well past the COVID-19 era.

“The idea of what is necessary is changing,” says Camille Thomas, a real estate matchmaker and lifestyle expert in Jackson Hole, WY. “The home has become more than a living space.”

This means a lot of people have started to evaluate how they live in their home and what matters most to them when buying.

The great escape

Quarantine has caused more than a few people to pack up their lives and head out of crowded cities to the suburbs (or even the country) in search of more room to breathe. One in 5 U.S. adults says they either changed their residence due to the pandemic or know someone who did, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

In fact, as people buy homes in the suburbs, housing inventories in those areas are dwindling faster than in urban areas, according to realtor.com®'s September Urban vs. Suburban Growth Report.

“People are not wanting to be in a city where it feels too crowded right now,” says Suzi Dailey, a Realtor, who's with Realty One International in California's Orange County. “They are leaving cities in favor of homes with more space, a backyard, or some type of view.”

Thomas says in the mountain town of Jackson Hole she is seeing buyers come in from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Houston, and Chicago.

"Some are purchasing sight-unseen,” she adds.

Also, with more companies allowing their workforce to work from home, many people are no longer tied to a specific city for employment. Most housing experts agree that this trend of increasing preferences for suburban homes will continue.

 

The Zoom room

Regular videoconferencing from home—whether you're an employee or a student—is a new reality, and it’s become increasingly common to see agents and sellers including Zoom rooms in listings as part of a home’s features. But what is a Zoom room, anyway?

Essentially it's a dedicated room or corner of your home that features an aesthetically pleasing background for your videoconference calls. Zoom rooms are free of household clutter and typically removed from the high-traffic parts of the house. And experts predict the dedicated video room trend is likely to persist for buyers beyond COVID-19.

“Buyers are looking for extra space to create workspaces for students and working parents,” says Thomas. “Three bedrooms is no longer enough. Now it must be three bedrooms and an additional workspace, at least.”

Clean and cozy design

Photo by ME Design Group

Interior design trends are always changing. But throughout the pandemic we've seen homeowners doing everything they can to create a cozy, simple, clean, and comfortable vibe inside their homes.

“It’s a focus on an open floor plan, lighter wall colors, and no clutter," says Dailey. Elements that capture this aesthetic are comfortable sofas, throw blankets, candles, herb gardens in the kitchen, and houseplants that make a person feel at home.

"Especially with COVID-19, you do not want a home that feels dirty. That’s why clean, simplistic decor and decluttering have become very popular," says Dailey.

And that feeling of streamlined coziness is extending to the outdoor areas of the home, too.

"Sales of space heaters, such as the tall standing heaters for porches, patios, and outdoor spaces, are already going through the roof," says Dailey.

The backyard premium

It's little surprise that homebound owners—or would-be owners—are focusing more on backyard spaces. Some buyers are even willing to settle on a smaller house or a house in a less desirable area in order to have a large backyard where they can spend more time in the open air.

"For some, that means moving farther outside of town for the same-size house with more land. Others are moving into small townhouses so they can purchase a small farm outside of the city," says Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design.


Stressfree1

The Keys to Stress-Free Homebuying

There is basically no such thing as a completely stress-free homebuying experience, but following these steps can significantly reduce your stress to some small doses of natural anxiety.

Get Educated About Your True Price Range

You can easily reduce future stress by not spending more than you can truly afford. There are some standard rules of thumb concerning what you can afford, but talking to a professional in the finance industry may be the best way to get the most accurate price range that your income allows. Your future self will thank you endlessly for being fiscally responsible.

Bigstock-Luxury-Kitchen-1013228-768x511

Create a List of Wants and a List of Needs

With the variety of features in any given home, it’s easy to get swept off your feet by something like a built-in pool or a home theatre, but don’t forget about the features you absolutely need! If you’re starting a family you probably don’t want to consider a home with less than three bedrooms, no matter how cool the sauna in the master bath is. Here’s a real source of stress: You buy a home that’s too small today so in five years you have to choose between buying another new home or listening to your children fight because they’re in such tight quarters. Long story short, don’t pass up things you need for things you want!

Bigstock-Classy-House-Living-Room-47269540-768x512

Let Your Agent/Lender/Financial Advisor Shoulder the Load

It’s no secret that a lot of work goes into the home search process as well as the home purchasing process, but not all of that work should fall on you. It may be difficult to let go to a certain extent, but allowing professionals to do what they do is a surefire way to reduce your stress. Trust that you’ve done your research and selected the right professionals to facilitate this process, and you’ll be happy you did.


Almost all Canadians favour accessible green spaces

Fully 95 per cent of Canadians believe that easy access to green spaces near their domiciles plays a crucial role in enhancing their quality of life, according to the results of a fresh survey conducted by TD Bank.


Meanwhile, 77 per cent of those polled said that there is much room for improvement like more picnic areas, natural playgrounds, and solar lighting in local green spaces.

Proximity to green space is a central factor in deciding where to live for a significant proportion of Canadians, with 18 per cent ranking it a high priority, behind proximity to close schools and public transport.

According to 40 per cent of respondents, commercial development should not impact green space. 24 per cent said that housing developments should not come at the expense of existing green space.

“Canadians agree, community green spaces are an integral part of our identity,” TD Bank Group chief environment officer Karen Clarke-Whistler said. “As the pace of life around us intensifies, Canadians value outdoor spaces in their communities where they can find common ground.”
Most importantly, Canadians treasure environmentally sustainable community green spaces, regardless of cost to themselves. 94 per cent of those surveyed stated that natural sustainable playground equipment would be important for their local community green space.

“Sensory-rich community green spaces are the rare places in our cities where human barriers drop,” according yo Adam Bienenstock, an award-winning designer of natural playgrounds, and participant in a recent roundtable discussion organized by TD. “Achieving sustainability in our parks and playgrounds requires us to incorporate real, raw nature into every experience. These are the places where we will inspire the next generation of urban environmental stewards.”


Winter Warm-Up Safety Tips

  • Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected annually to ensure there’s no Carbon Monoxide leak. Go to COSafety.ca for a nearby contractor.
  • Keep furnace chimney and vents clear of debris. Check after each snowfall as well to ensure nothing is blocked.
  • Burn dry, well-seasoned hardwood in fireplaces and woodstoves.

Image preview

  • Only clean the fireplace or woodstove when ashes are cold. Put the ashes in a metal container and keep it outside.
  • Keep space heaters at least one metre away from anything that flammable, including curtains and furniture.
  • Check electrical outlets to be sure they’re not overloaded.
  • Check extension cords that are used outdoors, to be sure they’re rated for outside use.
  • If you use a block heater for your car check the connection and consider using a timer.
  • Check that smoke and CO alarms are installed outside of all sleeping areas and that they’re working.
  • Never run Cars or BBQs inside a garage, even if the garage door is wid

Together, We’re Staying Optimistic

With the weather swings we've experienced in recent weeks, from unexpected summer-like days to "bursts" of winter, and a renewed focus on "social bubble" limits, Thanksgiving and Halloween celebrations seem so long ago. BUT, now there's news that a vaccine is more than in sight, it's said to be within reach. And that's Great News!

Economically, it's been a bumpy ride. And the recent election in the U.S. has many people wondering how it will affect Canada.

Even as the temperature dropped, home sales activity in many markets remained warm. In fact, it's shown remarkable "pop." The residential real estate market has been seen as a bright spot in Canada’s economic recovery performing well beyond expectations throughout the Summer and into Autumn, setting new records.

Let's focus on the "BUT." This has always been a season of hope & renewal and now we can anticipate fresh opportunities to get a new direction with a vaccine right around the corner.

If you’re wondering if now’s the time to make a move, let’s talk. We’ll evaluate options and opportunities so you’re always making an informed decision.

Stay safe. Stay positive. Stay connected.

 


Best Practices for Keeping a “Social Distance” in a High Rise Community

We’re once again being encouraged to stay inside and keep away from others. As we hear the recommendations of public health officials there are a few steps to take, especially when living in a “close” community

  • Be sure you have a least a 15-day supply of food.
  • Take stock of vital medications and keep prescriptions filled.
  • Stay in contact with family, friends and neighbours.
  • Avoid getting into the elevator with others – use the stairs.
  • Try a meal-kit delivery service like GoodFood or HelloFresh or a grocery delivery service like Instacart.
  • If you have to go to a grocery store, stock-up but avoid panic buying.
  • Establish a daily routine and stay active.
  • If you do have symptoms, stay in your suite and alert building management.

What was unimaginable a year ago has become today’s routine. Find joy in the small things and take comfort in knowing that these “strange days” shall pass.

Image preview


11 Ways to Decorate Your Front Porch or Entryway

Greet guests and add curb appeal to your home by adding fresh color and unique style to your front entry.  

Geranium Love

This Italian-villa inspired entry uses a variety of old and new containers to hold red geraniums, rosemary and topiary evergreens. Ciao Bella!
 

Farmer's Market Style

A front entry is a great place for a small garden. This trough full of herbs and flowers greets guests with color and wonderful smells. 
 
 

Upcycle Bicycle Wheel Turned Dream Catcher

This dream catcher was made from an old bicycle rim, a vintage doily, ribbons and strips of fabric. A brightly painted chair makes for a welcoming spot to sit and daydream.
 
 

Toy Story

Use vintage toys, wagons and sleds as planters, table bases, footstools or just unique conversation pieces. Here, this old tricycle was paired with a soda crate to make a charming display of succulents. 
 

Incorporate the Unexpected

Vintage suitcases make great end tables and decorative storage, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see a stack next to the front door. Add a little whimsy – like a cute gnome – and some colorful flowers to make your guests smile. 
 

Rolling Cart Collage

Place a rolling cart to your front porch and add a mix of seasonal decorating pieces, potted plants and flowers. Update the look each season by changing out a few pieces and you’ll be able to use the cart year round. 
 

Rehabilitated Furniture

The vintage prison bed is transformed in a comfortable daybed on this California porch. A comfy new mattress and pillows makes you want to spend 20-to-life here.
 
 
 

Sophisticated Yet Casual

Use black and white stripes and zebra patterns as a backdrop then add bright flowers to create a bold statement. 
 

Privacy Wall

If your porch or entry needs a little privacy, try a room divider made of vintage shutters. You can hang art or knickknacks from the shutters or use it as a backdrop for a display of colorful flowers. 
 

Herb Garden Footstool

Old patio furniture comes in handy when you want to create a small herb garden. The center straps of an old woven footstool were removed and replaced with chicken wire, burlap, soil and some herbs (in that order). 

Classic Porch Fixture

Have a sturdy porch ceiling? Then, by all means, hang a wooden swing from it. Rocking away an evening is a great way to relax. Add a few pillows, make a pitcher of lemonade and invite the neighbors.  
 
 
 
 
Original Post - https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/outdoor-spaces/decorating-ideas-for-a-front-porch-or-entryway-pictures

30 Tips for Increasing Your Home's Value

 

The road to selling a home can be a long one. Learn to improve the value of your home based on your budget with these 30 tips.

Joshua Curry; Design by Bridgett Mazer
 

Home Improvements: Under $100

Tip 1: Spend an Hour With a Pro

Invite a realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer. Check with several designers in your area; a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100, and in an hour they can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggested improvements, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.

Tip 2: Inspect It

Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems — you can't fix it if you don't know it's broken. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don't normally see. They may discover hidden problems that could negatively impact your home's value. Small problems (such as a hidden water leak) can become big, expensive problems quickly; the longer you put off repairs, the more expensive those repairs will be.

Tip 3: Paint, Paint, Paint

One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is paint! Freshly painted rooms look clean and updated — and that spells value. When selecting paint colors, keep in mind that neutrals appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, painter's tape, drop cloths and brushes. So buy a few gallons and get busy!

Tip 4: Find Inspiration

An alternative to hiring a designer is to search for remodeling and decorating inspiration in design-oriented magazines, books, TV shows and websites (Click Here for photo inspiration). Simply tear out or print off the ideas you want to try and start your to-do list. Keep it simple — when remodeling on a tight budget, do-it-yourself projects are best.

Tip 5: Cut Energy Costs

The amount of money you spend each month on energy costs may seem like a fixed amount, but many local utility companies provide free energy audits of their customers' homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. An energy-efficient home will save you money now, which can be applied to other updates, and is a more valuable and marketable asset in the long run.

 

Home Improvements: $100- $200

Tip 1: Plant a Tree

If you aren't planning to sell your house today, plan for the future with a landscaping improvement that will mature over time. Plant shade trees — not only will mature trees make your home more desirable but a fully grown, properly placed tree can cut your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent. Mature landscaping is also good for the environment, providing a necessary habitat for wildlife while adding valuable curb appeal to your home.

Tip 2: Low-Maintenance Landscaping

No question that shrubs and colorful plants will add curb appeal to any home, but when shopping at your local garden center, make sure that you "think green." Purchase plants that are native to your region or plants that are drought-tolerant; these require less water and maintenance, which means more savings to you and more green in your wallet.

Tip 3: Money-Saving Luxury

Speaking of water, here's another way to tap into extra savings; install a water filtration system in your kitchen. Not only do these systems purify your water, they will also lower your grocery bills — no more bottled water. A water filtration system is an inexpensive addition, but it's the sort of small luxury that homebuyers love.

Tip 4: Improve the Air Quality Inside Your Home

Air quality isn't just about the conditions outdoors. If you have older carpets in your home, they might be hiding contaminants and allergens. The first step to determine if these need replacing is to hire a professional company to test your indoor air quality. If the results prove that your carpets should be replaced, choose environmentally friendly natural products like tile or laminate floors. Hard-surface floors are much easier to keep clean, don't hold odors, give your home an updated look and, in general, are more appealing to buyers.

Tip 5: Save the Popcorn for the Movies

Finally, what's on your ceiling? Few structural elements date a house more than popcorn ceilings. So dedicate a weekend to ditching the dated look and adding dollar signs to the value of your home. NOTE: some older ceilings could contain asbestos so before undertaking this project, have yours tested by professionals.

Once you're in the clear, this is a project you can tackle yourself. First, visit your local hardware store for a solution to soften the texture, then simply scrape the popcorn away. Removing a popcorn ceiling may not seem like a big change but one of the keys for adding value to your home is to repair, replace or remove anything that could turn buyers away.

 

Home Improvements: $200-$400

Tip 1: Clean up the Lawn

Overgrown or patchy lawns and outsized bushes will cause your home to stand out — in a bad way. The good news is that taming your jungle is an easy fix. For a few hundred dollars, hire a lawn service company to trim your lawn and shape your hedges. Your curb appeal will go from messy to maintained without blowing your budget.

Tip 2: Cleanliness Counts

The old adage that you only get one shot at a first impression is true. So, make the interior of you home shine from the moment someone walks through the door. For less than $400, hire a cleaning service for a thorough top-to-bottom scrubbing. Even if you clean your home regularly, there are nooks and crannies that you may miss or overlook. Let a cleaning service do the dirty work to really make your home sparkle.

Tip 3: Visually Increase Your Home's Square Footage

The size of your home dramatically affects the value, but square footage isn't the only space that counts. Visual space or how large a home feels also counts. The key is to make each room in your house feel larger. Replace heavy closed draperies with vertical blinds or shutters to let light in — a sunny room feels larger and more open. Also, try adding a single large mirror to a room to visually double the space. Finally, clear the clutter. The more clutter, furniture and plain old stuff you have in a room, the more cramped it will feel. For less than $400, add an attractive shelving unit to an underused space and store your clutter out of sight.

Tip 4: Small Bathroom Updates Equal a Big Return

Bathroom updates are always a smart move. Even if you can't afford a full remodel, small changes such as replacing dated wallpaper with a faux or textured finish and replacing old lighting will update the room without denting your wallet.

Tip 5: Add New Energy-Efficient Fixtures

A functional, decorative ceiling fan is a beautiful thing. It provides necessary light and, in warm months, creates a soft breeze reducing the need for expensive air conditioning. But, an outdated, wobbly, loud or broken ceiling fan is a useless eyesore. Replace old fixtures with new ones to make your home more enjoyable for you now and to increase the bottom line should you decide to sell.

 

Home Improvements: $400-$750

Tip 1: Big Return on Bathroom Updates

A great room to update for less than $750 is the bathroom. The two rooms that benefit most from even small renovations are the kitchen and bathroom. One cost-effective change — like replacing an outdated vanity, old plumbing and lighting fixtures or adding a new tile floor — will guarantee a lot of bang for your buck and give your bath an updated, modern look.

Tip 2: Any Kitchen Update Equals Added Value

The same rule applies in the kitchen. You don't have to start from scratch to create a winning recipe. For maximizing your home's value, kitchen updates are key. Start by swapping out just one item, such as a stained sink or ancient microwave for shiny new stainless models. Even small kitchen updates will add big value to your home.

Tip 3: Replace Worn Carpets or Rugs

Take a look at your home's soft flooring. Are your carpets and area rugs stained or worn? Nothing turns buyers off more than the thought that they will immediately need to replace all of the flooring in a home. Ideally, you may want to replace them all, but if a limited budget puts a snag in that plan, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear and replace the others as your finances allow.

Tip 4: Keep Up With Regular Maintenance and Repairs

Walk around your home and make a list of all the little things that are broken or in need of repair. Individually, small repairs might not seem important, but if every room has just one thing wrong, those small things will add up to create the impression that your home has been neglected. If you don't feel comfortable tackling the repairs yourself, hire a handyman for a day and watch your "to do" list disappear. Staying on top of maintenance today eliminates problems down the road should you decide to sell.

Tip 5: Get Help With Getting Organized

Hire a professional organizer for a day. They will show you how to organize various rooms in your home and teach you tricks for keeping it organized. How does this increase your home's value? Simple — a clutter-free home appears cleaner and larger, which is more attractive to homebuyers and therefore more valuable.

 

 

 

5 Easy-to-Overlook Things That Can Increase the Value of Your Home

Post Image
Credit: Sarah Crowley/Apartment Therapy

If you were to put your home on the market tomorrow, how much would it be worth? While you hear that real estate is all about “location, location, location,” supply and demand also plays a crucial factor. The more appealing a home is on the market to the majority of buyers, the higher price it may fetch (though there’s a limit). And of course, this is all relative to the neighborhood in which a home’s located, but, in general, prepping your home to make a positive first impression is a good thing to keep in mind if you don’t want to leave anything on the closing table. That’s why it’s so important to do the obvious things, like cut excessive clutter inside the home and clean up your yard before you list to present a clean and organized home.

“It’s these small things that show pride of ownership,” says Dana Bull, a real estate agent with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, Massachusetts. “Buyers feel more confident in a transaction and can be more likely to pay a premium if they believe the home has been properly managed and maintained by the seller.”
 

Super-clean crevices

“Buyers notice everything. I’ve had clients ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over a basement floor so clean you could eat off it,” says Bull. “Even little details matter, like clean grout, tidy closets, and a swept basement floor. Yes, I’ve had buyers get hung up over shoddy tile work and I definitely can’t blame them!”

According to Sarah Maguire, a real estate agent with Compass in Boston, potential buyers love snooping around the bathroom to see how ancient the grout and tiling is. 

“There’s no need for a full bathroom renovation,” says Maguire, who suggests cleaning or replacing grout and caulking in the bathroom.

Updated lighting

It’s also what prospective buyers see when they look up that affects value. Maguire suggests replacing old ceiling fans or ceiling light fixtures. 

“If you want to do a little more work, recessed lighting gives any space a bright, modern touch,” says Maguire.

A parking space

Jay Rooney, also a real estate agent with Compass, says one of the things that drives up your home’s value isn’t even inside the property.

“If you do not have one already, rent or invest in a parking space near your home,” says Rooney. ”It may sound silly, but nowadays homes without designated parking spots can make or break it for buyers.”

 

Other agents I asked said it’s your home’s influence on potential buyers’ noses that could have an unexpected influence.

“The smell! Make sure your home has a pleasant smell, but don’t keep candles or air fresheners in sight,” says the Donahue Maley Burns Team. “You don’t want potential home buyers to think you’re covering something up.”

Professional listing photos

Bull also says how your home is presented online and in promotional materials can make a real difference, which is why having the space professionally photographed instantly ups its value.

“When it comes to listing your home, the way it is presented online makes a huge difference,” says Bull. “You can’t skimp on high quality photography which captures a home with the proper lighting and angles.”

Could the biggest danger to your fur baby be in your own home?

Here are 11 health risks for pets you can eliminate right now.

/ 11
Health risks for pets - easter lilies
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Flowers and plants that pose a health risk to pets

Easter Lilies

While they may be pretty, lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for cats. Petside suggests keeping them out of the house (or better yet, purchase artificial flowers). Be aware of symptoms of lily poisoning which include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Call your vet as soon as possible if you think your pet has ingested lily. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says that without immediate care, cats who eat lily may develop life-threatening kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours of ingestion. (By the way, here are 50 secrets your pet wishes they could tell you.)

Poinsettias

Holiday poinsettias are also dangerous for pets, though not as worrisome as the lily. This doesn’t mean your pet should eat this pretty red Christmas decoration, since doing so will likely lead to stomach pain and discomfort, including vomiting.

The ASPCA’s compiled a searchable plant database of dangerous plants (listing over 400 items). Check it out if you are considering bringing a new plant home.

 

Health risks for pets - chocolate

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Foods that pose a health risk to pets

Chocolate

Chocolate might have plenty of health benefits for humans, but it’s a harmful food for pets. Petside says most adults know this, but that it’s adults’ responsibility to make sure children know, too. Keep little ones from giving chocolate to pets and do your best to supervise.

All kinds of candy—including candy wrappers

Too much sugar can give your pet a bellyache, but worse, if wrappers are swallowed, your pet risks tearing of the esophagus or intestines. Clean up as best and frequently as you can when candy is being unwrapped.

More harmful foods

Your pets should also steer clear of chewing gum, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, avocados, onions, garlic, salt, raw yeast dough, and fatty foods.

 

Health risks for pets - Easter decorations
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Holiday health risks for pets

Easter and Christmas decorations

Plastic eggs, if ingested, can rip tears in the digestive system. Likewise, spoiled hard boiled eggs, if ingested, can make pets ill. Easter grass and tinsel are attractive, but deadly. Pets who attempt to eat these garlands and garnishes can choke, or lethally damage their intestines. At Easter, try real grass or crumpled paper instead. At Christmas, cat-proof your tree by avoiding tinsel.

Other holiday safety tips for pets:

New Year’s: Forego confetti and keep an eye on balloons. If they deflate, they become a choking hazard.

Valentine’s Day: Keep their paws off the chocolates and far from the flowers.

Thanksgiving: Throw turkey bones in the trash.

Halloween: Use flameless candles, and keep candy out of harm’s way.

Christmas: Keep pets out of tree water, and be attentive when they show interest in ornaments, decoration hooks and ribbon. 

/ 11
Health risks for pets - toys
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Toys can pose a health risk to pets

Small, brightly coloured toys hold the same appeal for pets as they do children. The problem is that they are choking hazards. Petside’s advice is to keep small toys in a place safely hidden from pets.

Learn how to spot the signs of cancer in cats.

/ 11
Health risks for pets - coffee
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Drinks that are health risks for pets

Coffee, tea, and alcohol

Coffee and tea leaves are on the ASPCA’s list of People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet, as is alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, and breathing difficulty, among other things.

/ 11
Health risks for pets - batteries and other small items
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Batteries (and other small items) can be health risks for pets

Many small items can lead to choking—even things you would never expect your pet would attempt eating. Be mindful of buttons, small batteries, twist ties, and rubber bands. In the bathroom, keep hairpins, cotton swabs, and dental floss out of reach from your pet. Cut down on clutter throughout your home with these organization tips from Marie Kondo.

/ 11
Health risks for pets in the garage
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Health risks for pets in the garage

If your pet is your shadow and frequently follows you around the house, remember that garage and storage areas need special attention, too. Keep cleaning supplies, antifreeze, fertilizer, de-icing materials and pesticides in a place pets can’t easily access. “Products containing metaldehyde, such as some slug pellets and firelighters, are extremely toxic, and should be kept away from pets,” according to Blue Cross. “Antifreeze and de-icer fluids taste sweet, but are also poisonous.”

 

Health risks for pets - bones

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Bones pose a health risk for pets

While eating meat off the bone might be tastier, if your pet gets a hold of one of those bones it could be bad news. Just like hazardous objects that might be laying around the house, it’s especially important to keep an eye on where your food leftovers end up. “Cooked bones splinter and can cut your dog’s mouth,” says Dana Humphrey, A.K.A. The Pet Lady. “If swallowed, they can puncture their stomach or esophagus too.” The same goes for bone “toys” you find in pet stores—which is why you should never, ever buy one.

 

Health risks for pets - sticks

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Sticks can be a health risk for pets

Your dog might love to play fetch, but you might want to think twice before you pick up that stick outside. Sticks, especially small ones, can pose as serious choking hazards. Instead, Blue Cross suggests throwing a plastic, indestructible object that’s too big for your pet to accidentally swallow.

 

Health risks for pets - trash cans
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Trash cans

It’s easy to forget that trash cans can be health risks for pets, too. Your garbage can might have bones, chocolate, coffee grounds—essentially, a checklist of dangerous items that your fur baby should be nowhere near.  “Make sure your garbage pail comes with a secure lid so you don’t have to worry about Fido or Fluffy getting their paws on discarded rib bones or leftover chocolate cake,” says The Pet Lady, Dana Humphrey.

 

11 / 11
Health risks for pets - medicine
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Medication can pose a serious health risk for pets

Just like humans, if you take medication that isn’t meant for you, it’s probably not a good idea. Human medication isn’t meant for your pets, and might even cause more harm than good. “Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are particularly dangerous,” says Blue Cross. “Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be dangerous, particularly iron tablets and products containing zinc.” The same concept applies to different animals: never give your dog cat medication, and vice versa.

Be sure to check out the ASPCA site for tips on keeping your pet safe and poison-proofing your home.


13 Kitchen Upgrades That Make Your Home Look Expensive

To create a beautiful kitchen, you don't have to spend a lot—but you can fool people into thinking you did.

Kitchen worktop with container
HORIYAN/SHUTTERSTOCK

Clutter-free countertops

“The simplest way to elevate any room is to clear the counters of clutter,” says Laurence Carr, New York City-based interior designer. “You want bare countertops and impeccably organized cabinets and drawers where everything has a place.” A tip-top space feels like you’ve put effort into maintaining it. Make sure everything has a home—go through mail and the kids’ school work that’s been piling up, and in the future set it in a designated, out-of-the-way location so it’s not just taking over the kitchen table or island.

 
Paint brush, sponge roller, paints, waxes and other painting or decorating supplies on white wooden planks, top view
PHOTO: KOBEZA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Stick with neutrals

Plenty of designers can create gorgeous, colourful kitchens, but if you’re upgrading on your own and can’t call in a pro, neutral colors are the way to go, says René Dekker, London-based luxury interior designer. “If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, you want it to be easy to digest in a visual way,” he says. “Dark colours tend to suck the light in, which can strain the eye.” On the other hand, light taupes, creams, and grays are easy to match, giving you a pulled-together look that will trick guests into thinking you hired the best of the best to design it.

Monochrome kitchen detail of black gooseneck tap

JODIE JOHNSON/SHUTTERSTOCK

Get the marble look

If you want a standout countertop on a budget, go for quartz, suggests Carr. Not only does it look expensive, but it’s also easy to clean and maintain. “Choosing quartz with a marble facade gives you all the elegance of marble without the upkeep and the hefty price tag,” she says. If you’re going for a more rustic feel, she recommends butcher block counters.

/ 13
Open dishwasher with clean dishes in white kitchen, front view
LESZEK GLASNER/SHUTTERSTOCK

Consider integrated appliances

Dishwashers and fridges don’t tend to be the prettiest part of a kitchen, and they can draw your eye from an otherwise beautiful space. Consider buying an integrated set that blends right into the cabinets, suggests Dekker—what looks like a cupboard actually opens up into your fridge or freezer. “When you integrate your appliances, you have a much smoother, much sleeker finish,” says Dekker.

 
Modern luxury kitchen interior with stone countertop and stainless steel appliances
ELENA ELISSEEVA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Go for stainless steel

If you aren’t into integrated appliances, Carr recommends brushed silver smart appliances. “Not only do they look polished and elevate your life, but they are energy-efficient and kind to our planet,” she says. And what’s good for the planet is good for your energy bill—it’s a win-win.

Kitchen cabinets with classic traditional fronts, close-up.

RAISA SUPRUN/SHUTTERSTOCK

Swap out your handles

Drawer handles and cabinet pulls can be one of the first things in your kitchen to show their age since they’re handled so many times during a day, Carr points out. Dekker recommends heading to Etsy to find replacements for your ho-hum handles. “You can have a really plain kitchen and buy jeweled handles with semi-precious stones, and your kitchen looks like a jewelry store,” he says.

Vintage lamp hanging from the ceiling with white wall.
PONGPINUN TRAISRISILP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Invest in a standout light fixture

If you want an upgrade but don’t have the budget for a full kitchen renovation, start by switching out the lights, suggests Carr. “Oversize, sophisticated light fixtures create the illusion of a complete kitchen upgrade,” she says. Fixtures with exposed circular bulbs and bold lines tend to do particularly well, she says.

Saving energy concept: Human hand turning down electrical light dimmer switch.

VLADEEP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Install two sets of lights

Don’t just slap up a single light fixture and call it a day; lighting is key to creating an atmosphere that drips of expensiveness. Dekker recommends having at least two different sets of dimmable lights: One should be more ambient, like under the cupboards or kickboards, for times when you just pop in to grab a glass of water for a snack. The other should be overhead lights that shine down when you’re cooking.

repair, building and home concept - close up of male hands smearing wallpaper with glue
SYDA PRODUCTIONS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Dress up the walls

A simple paint job can really transform a room—and it doesn’t have to be a room-wide project, either. A strong paint colour or a punchy wallpaper on just one accent wall will really make a statement. “I love textured wall coverings made of vinyl,” says Carr. “Vinyl is not only affordable, but it is also a naturally-derived material and is recyclable at the end of its life.”

Rollers of different sizes for painting the walls and ceiling

PHOTO: KARYNA CHE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Make it glossy

Glossy and matte paint finishes can both look high-class, but if you don’t have a huge budget for pulling out all the stops in a renovation, Dekker recommends opting for those ultra-shiny cabinets. “It immediately is a little bit more eye-catching,” he says. “They have a three-dimensional feel because of their reflection.”

 
Fruit basket
THOMAS FILKE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Don’t forget to accessorize

A kitchen seems like it’s more about utility than aesthetics, but simple touches can really pull the place together. Carr suggests warming up the room by setting a rattan basket on the counter or laying a colorful, textured rug in front of the sink. Those little pops are sure to impress—and make guests say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Bright modern kitchen with leather bar stools. Interior design.

PPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Swap out the seating

You don’t have to blow your budget on new kitchen chairs to fool people into thinking you’ve spent a lot. Dekker recommends vinyl, faux-leather chairs. “They make it so amazingly well now that you can’t tell the difference between real leather and vinyl,” he says. “The pattern and texture is so close to the real thing.”

 
Scandinavian interior design. White grey kitchen room organization
TARTANPARTY/SHUTTERSTOCK

Don’t go for anything too trendy

That ultra-trendy molding or cabinet material might look incredible when it’s first installed, but within a couple of years your fresh new look could already look dated—so unless you’re upgrading all over again, it’ll feel like the opposite of what you’d hoped for in an expensive-looking kitchen. “I advise steering clear from anything too trendy and opting for upgraded classic options instead,” says Carr.


FSBO

Analyzing “For Sale By Owner”

How much is your time really worth? The reason to sell your own house is to save money, right? On the surface that makes sense, but once you’ve factored in the amount of time and stress that you’re going to spend and experience in this process, are you really coming out ahead?

Let’s say you’ve got enough free time and you’re not easily stressed out. Consider the fact that FSBO (For Sale By Owner) takes an average of 19 additional days to sell. That may not seem substantial, but 20% of FSBOs eventually re-list on MLS which ends up taking an average of 68 days longer than homes sold by Realtors.

Marketing is everything. Real estate agents have marketing strategies and resources already in place before you’ve ever met them. They’ve spent time and money to figure out which marketing platforms work well for specific types of properties, and have valuable resources like a Facebook audience, a newsletter list, etc. which would be very difficult to match.

According to recent, official numbers from the National Association of Realtors…

  • ‘The average FSBO property sells for $208,700’
  • ‘The average agent-assisted property sells for $235,000’
  • ‘That’s a $26,300 difference … or 12.6% more’


13 Kitchen Upgrades That Make Your Home Look Expensive

To create a beautiful kitchen, you don't have to spend a lot—but you can fool people into thinking you did.

/ 13
Kitchen worktop with container
HORIYAN/SHUTTERSTOCK

Clutter-free countertops

“The simplest way to elevate any room is to clear the counters of clutter,” says Laurence Carr, New York City-based interior designer. “You want bare countertops and impeccably organized cabinets and drawers where everything has a place.” A tip-top space feels like you’ve put effort into maintaining it. Make sure everything has a home—go through mail and the kids’ school work that’s been piling up, and in the future set it in a designated, out-of-the-way location so it’s not just taking over the kitchen table or island.

 

/ 13
Paint brush, sponge roller, paints, waxes and other painting or decorating supplies on white wooden planks, top view
PHOTO: KOBEZA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Stick with neutrals

Plenty of designers can create gorgeous, colourful kitchens, but if you’re upgrading on your own and can’t call in a pro, neutral colors are the way to go, says René Dekker, London-based luxury interior designer. “If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen, you want it to be easy to digest in a visual way,” he says. “Dark colours tend to suck the light in, which can strain the eye.” On the other hand, light taupes, creams, and grays are easy to match, giving you a pulled-together look that will trick guests into thinking you hired the best of the best to design it.

 

Monochrome kitchen detail of black gooseneck tap
JODIE JOHNSON/SHUTTERSTOCK

Get the marble look

If you want a standout countertop on a budget, go for quartz, suggests Carr. Not only does it look expensive, but it’s also easy to clean and maintain. “Choosing quartz with a marble facade gives you all the elegance of marble without the upkeep and the hefty price tag,” she says. If you’re going for a more rustic feel, she recommends butcher block counters.

/ 13
Open dishwasher with clean dishes in white kitchen, front view
LESZEK GLASNER/SHUTTERSTOCK

Consider integrated appliances

Dishwashers and fridges don’t tend to be the prettiest part of a kitchen, and they can draw your eye from an otherwise beautiful space. Consider buying an integrated set that blends right into the cabinets, suggests Dekker—what looks like a cupboard actually opens up into your fridge or freezer. “When you integrate your appliances, you have a much smoother, much sleeker finish,” says Dekker.

5 / 13

Modern luxury kitchen interior with stone countertop and stainless steel appliances

ELENA ELISSEEVA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Go for stainless steel

If you aren’t into integrated appliances, Carr recommends brushed silver smart appliances. “Not only do they look polished and elevate your life, but they are energy-efficient and kind to our planet,” she says. And what’s good for the planet is good for your energy bill—it’s a win-win.

6 / 13

Kitchen cabinets with classic traditional fronts, close-up.
RAISA SUPRUN/SHUTTERSTOCK

Swap out your handles

Drawer handles and cabinet pulls can be one of the first things in your kitchen to show their age since they’re handled so many times during a day, Carr points out. Dekker recommends heading to Etsy to find replacements for your ho-hum handles. “You can have a really plain kitchen and buy jeweled handles with semi-precious stones, and your kitchen looks like a jewelry store,” he says.

7 / 13

Vintage lamp hanging from the ceiling with white wall.
PONGPINUN TRAISRISILP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Invest in a standout light fixture

If you want an upgrade but don’t have the budget for a full kitchen renovation, start by switching out the lights, suggests Carr. “Oversize, sophisticated light fixtures create the illusion of a complete kitchen upgrade,” she says. Fixtures with exposed circular bulbs and bold lines tend to do particularly well, she says.

8 / 13

Saving energy concept: Human hand turning down electrical light dimmer switch.
VLADEEP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Install two sets of lights

Don’t just slap up a single light fixture and call it a day; lighting is key to creating an atmosphere that drips of expensiveness. Dekker recommends having at least two different sets of dimmable lights: One should be more ambient, like under the cupboards or kickboards, for times when you just pop in to grab a glass of water for a snack. The other should be overhead lights that shine down when you’re cooking.

9 / 13

repair, building and home concept - close up of male hands smearing wallpaper with glue
SYDA PRODUCTIONS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Dress up the walls

A simple paint job can really transform a room—and it doesn’t have to be a room-wide project, either. A strong paint colour or a punchy wallpaper on just one accent wall will really make a statement. “I love textured wall coverings made of vinyl,” says Carr. “Vinyl is not only affordable, but it is also a naturally-derived material and is recyclable at the end of its life.”

10 / 13

Rollers of different sizes for painting the walls and ceiling

PHOTO: KARYNA CHE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Make it glossy

Glossy and matte paint finishes can both look high-class, but if you don’t have a huge budget for pulling out all the stops in a renovation, Dekker recommends opting for those ultra-shiny cabinets. “It immediately is a little bit more eye-catching,” he says. “They have a three-dimensional feel because of their reflection.”

11 / 13
Fruit basket
THOMAS FILKE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Don’t forget to accessorize

A kitchen seems like it’s more about utility than aesthetics, but simple touches can really pull the place together. Carr suggests warming up the room by setting a rattan basket on the counter or laying a colorful, textured rug in front of the sink. Those little pops are sure to impress—and make guests say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Bright modern kitchen with leather bar stools. Interior design.

Swap out the seating

You don’t have to blow your budget on new kitchen chairs to fool people into thinking you’ve spent a lot. Dekker recommends vinyl, faux-leather chairs. “They make it so amazingly well now that you can’t tell the difference between real leather and vinyl,” he says. “The pattern and texture is so close to the real thing.”

13 / 13
Scandinavian interior design. White grey kitchen room organization
TARTANPARTY/SHUTTERSTOCK

Don’t go for anything too trendy

That ultra-trendy molding or cabinet material might look incredible when it’s first installed, but within a couple of years your fresh new look could already look dated—so unless you’re upgrading all over again, it’ll feel like the opposite of what you’d hoped for in an expensive-looking kitchen. “I advise steering clear from anything too trendy and opting for upgraded classic options instead,” says Carr.

For even more ideas, check out these tips from influential interior designer Brian Gluckstein.