Planning to sell your home? Don’t wait. Place it on the market TODAY!

You probably had to read the headline twice.  Today?  You mean, today.  Yes, we mean TODAY.  Why the urgency?  The 2017 housing market shows that now is the time to sell.  January unveiled great numbers which paths the way for a strong housing market for this year.

for sale
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, said:
“Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home. Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate…”

And CNBC says consumer confidence in the economy is fueling the market:
“U.S. home resales surged to a 10-year high in January as buyers shrugged off higher prices and mortgage rates, a sign of growing confidence in the economy.”

A depleting inventory leaves a challenging market.  In order for a balanced market of homes for sale and interested buyers, the inventory would require a full six-month supply of homes.  The current situation is that there is less than a four-month inventory which means a 7.1% decrease from last year.

Admit it.  These statistics are make you look a little more closely about selling.  The increasing demand and low home supply provides the perfect climate for selling your home for the best price.  I’m more than happy to help you in this process to see if the market is hot in your neighborhood.

Clean Up Your Home By Avoiding These Decorating Mistakes

You may not even realize it but it’s possible that you are making your home look messy.   It’s easy to overlook decorating mistakes that can make your home look unorganized.  If you are staging your house to woo potential buyers or you want to impress weekend guests, make sure that you are avoiding these to create an organized and clean space.  

An Unbalanced Room
well-balanced-roomThink of it like this: You would never place large furniture in small quarters.  It can become overwhelming and greatly affects the flow of the room.  Allow the furniture (and the larger objects in the room) to naturally float opposed to lining them against a wall.  Most importantly, find pieces that balance the room nicely.


High Maintenance Fabrics
High maintenance comforters or cheap slipcovers are easy to wrinkle and have the potential to create a rumpled effect .  Well-ironed fabrics present a more polished look for guests as they enter a room.  A carefully folded throw blanket and properly placed pillows are important, too. slipcover

Ignoring Your Foyer
Most guests enter your home through the front door so naturally, you must pay special attention to keeping the floors clean and avoiding the area as a place for backpacks, junk mail, and sports equipment.  Keep the area reserved for representing your home.  A great tip: find a functional rug for wiping dirty shoes at the front door.

Exposed Wires and Cords
In this age of laptops, TVs, gaming systems, and Roku boxes, you are bound to have a tangle of cords and wires lying around the busiest room.  At times, you have to creatively think of way to hide them behind a couch or under the carpet.  Out of sight, out of mind.
rug

Skimping on Furnishings
Invest money in furnishing specifically rugs.  A rule of thumb to remember is that a better quality rug in a bigger size (appropriate to the room) will save you in the long haul.  Rugs are often trampled and cheap rugs don’t hold up as well.  Pairing strategic furniture placement along with a good rug will present a clean, well-maintained room for all to enjoy.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow me on my blog for more home and real estate ideas!  I want to help you to find and create your happy space for you and your family to love for many years.  Please call me at 480-466-8193 if I can help you find the place of your dreams!
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The Do’s and Don’ts of House Hunting

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When you purchase a new home, you are met with a range of emotions.  Excitement. Nervous.  Anticipation.  Overwhelmed.  Whatever you are feeling, buying a home is one of the most important decisions (and investments!) you will ever make.  Stumbling blocks will happen from time to time but research and guidance will inform you along the way.  

Here are some resourceful tips to remember as you begin the process:

Location, Location, Location
This cliqued line is true.  While the potential home tends to be the focus, take a look at the surrounding location.  Research the community to make sure it’s the right location for you (and your family) to ensure that fits your needs and wants.  Factors to consider are school districts, traffic, and convenience.  Most importantly, look at other local community to narrow and finalize your decision.

What do you need?
The average American lives in their home for nine years so think long-term for your needs.  A young couple may think that a small condo will work but as their family begins to grow, the home will feel like it shrunk.  Reflect upon your future goals when looking at homes.  Can you envision your life there in nine years?

Hire an experienced, licensed inspector
The truth is that it’s easy to walk into a home and see all the cosmetic beauty.  However, major issues can be covered up.  When you hire a home inspector, they can uncover potential problems from wiring to plumbing to foundation.  An experienced inspector will explore every inch of the home to ensure you know exactly what you are purchasing.  You should be well-informed about your home investment to avoid stress, time, and money in the future.  The inspector may scare you with what he/she finds but you want to know all about your new home!

Look beyond the furnishings and décor
When you walk into a home, envision the home without the seller’s belongings.  How does the layout and space work for you?  Will it accommodate your lifestyle and what you want in a home?  You want to look for efficiency and function.  For example, an open floor plan with plenty of storage may work for a couple with children than a home with enclosed rooms and limited closet space.

Read between the lines
At times, sellers use persuasive jargon to move their listing.  Be wary of these phrases used to draw you in inspecting an underlying reason.  For example, selling a home “as-is” can usually mean to count lots of work on your end.  A “motivated seller” may wanted to expedite a sell by negotiating on a price but make sure that a thorough inspection has taken place to eliminate pricey factors.  When you read “cozy and charming cottage”, you may translate that to a small home.  Have realistic expectations for listings and see homes for yourself during showing to see if this is the home for you.

Resist purchasing the expensive home in the neighborhood
You won’t get the same return on investment with the biggest house on the block and more than likely, you will find that you may run into obstacles when you decide to sell.  It’s important to consider how this home compares to the other ones in the neighborhood in terms of price and space.  Research to see if other local comparable homes are selling before settling.

Show me the money
The first step before buying is to work a qualified lender that can direct you about the lending products in today’s market.  They will ask you questions and run your credit.  We do not want you to “fall in love” with a home that is beyond your financial means. Sometimes there are items on your credit that you didn’t know were there.  Often, there are down payment assistance programs that can help you.  A lender will the first step in the process.

While the process of finding and purchasing a home can be a long and stressful process, stay persistent in finding the home that right for you.  I’m happy to talk to you about what is on the market and be your source for real estate market.  New homes are always cropping up and I’ll keep you consistently updated.

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Staging or Updating Your Home This Year? The Best Home Trends for 2017

As you are making way for changes in the new year, you may be scheming a plan to update your home or possibly staging your home for possible buyers.  While some fads have already had their hay day in the golden sun, new trends are making way in homes for 2017.  Here’s a look in what we’re seeing in homes now……

The Industrial Look
If you love antique clocks, textured shutters, and chippy antiques, you will love that this is still the look in modern homes.  It takes a keen eye to balance metals and woods but yet make a room inviting.  Think reclaimed wood.
industrial-decor


Black Stainless Steel

The tide is turning kitchen trends.  Black stainless steel is replacing the traditional stainless in kitchens with a warmer feel than the cold look.  While this tends to be a more expensive trend, it has the potential to transform a kitchen.black-stainless-steel

Eclectic Mix of Metals
This look works particularly well in any part of the house.  Think outside of the box and mix metals in the kitchen with copper, steel, and nickel (pares well in a farmhouse!).
mixed-metals

Antiques
Antiques always seem to be in trend.  Give old books, glass, tables, and chair a breath of fresh air by sitting them next to updated piece to make it pop.  Remember that your best treasures may be found in your grandmother’s attic.

antiqued-look

White Cabinets
Cherry cabinets have taken more of outdated look these days and quickly being replaced with a white coat of paint.  This clean look plays up a light gray wall.  A weekend project can transform a kitchen!

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Lucite Furniture
Like it or not, lucite furniture is turning heads even in more formal spaces like dining rooms.  Matching the pieces with a refined table and decor to make it work well.
lucite

2016 Trends That Here to Stay in 2017……

  • burlap
  • farmhouse style
  • natural colors
  • clocks
  • open shelves
  • chalk-painted furniture
  • sanctuary bedrooms
  • porches
  • firepits
  • home offices
  • natural fiber rugs
  • mid century accents

Whether you have just moved into a new home or staging your current to place on the market, these ideas will help make your place cozy and warm.  If you are thinking of selling your home, please call me so I can help you raise the potential of top dollar.  I’m more than happy to help you sell and find the home of your dreams!
Great Homes!
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The Best Time to Put Your Home on Market? The Holiday Season!

Scratch whatever you may have heard about the spring and summer to be the best times to sell your home.  The time is NOW!  I know you must be thinking if there could be a more HECTIC time but the truth of the matter is that if you’ve even considered moving on from your current home in the next year, here are several reasons that will drive your decision to make the move now:

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  • Presentation: Your home looks great with all of your Christmas decorations and lights.  You may even keep your home more organized and spotless than usual with unexpected guests knocking at your door to visit while they are in town.  Why not take advantage of it?  Make sure your decorations are tasteful and updated to appeal to all possible buyers.
  • A Less Competitive Market: For the exact reason that you are pondering why you should you put your home on the market during this time of year, you can be sure that lots of people are thinking this.  This creates less competition in the home market which gives YOU the driving edge for possible buyers looking in your area.  Less inventory means more foot traffic through your home which increases your chances of getting the offer you want.
  • Serious Buyers: As we inch toward the end of a year, many corporate moves happen during this time.  People also think about making a fresh start in a new home.  The most important role that you have as a seller is to provide a flexible showing schedule to accommodate those who want to see your home.  Think of like this: they wouldn’t look if they weren’t serious.  Last year, I had two buyers that bought homes in December and this year, I have four qualified buyers that are seeking to buy their next home now!  Please let me show you how I can sell your home and help you achieve your real estate goals!

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Gift-Giving Ideas for the 2016 Holiday Season

We’ve all been stuck with the challenge of finding the perfect gift for at least one person on our list!  We want to be original and thoughtful without the (extreme) sticker shock.  Here are some fresh budget-friendly gift ideas (2016 edition!) that will make your friends and family jump for joy!
gift

For the traveler– You may not be able to give them a trip to Dubai but in the world of box deliveries, Try The World specializes in experiencing food from around the globe without leaving the comforts of your own kitchen.  Chefs expertly craft every box to tailor it to a part of the world to ensure you are enjoying an authentic meal.  Can we say YUM?!
Retail value: $29-39 per box
Photo credit: trytheworld.com
try-the-world

For the thrill-seeker–  Escape Room Games are original experiences to find the clues, solve the puzzle, and escape the room with your team.  It’s fun for the family or even for date nights!  Even better?  You can find Groupon deals for local escape room venues in your area!
Retail value: $28 and up

For the tech-lover The Amazon Echo Dot is the latest voice-controlled gadgets to help streamline everyday life with voice commands.  The device is compatible to stream Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio and to control other wirelessly controlled lights, fans, and sprinklers.  It also works as an alarm clock!   This is the perfect gift to make tasks easier for the busiest person you know!
Retail value: $49.99 amazon.com

For the teen or tween– Think of the Skewb Ultimate as the classic Rubki’s Cube on steroids!   The updated twist includes a 12-sided, 12-color spatial challenge based closely to the classic puzzle’s concept.  skewbGet them away from their screens and give their minds a bend as they twist the sides to mix up the shades and solve by getting one solid color to take up every side.
Retail value: $20, mcachicagostore.org

For the book lover- Even in the digital age, the classic book lover enjoys flipping the pages of a good book.  Book of the Month Club offers the five hand-picked best books voted notable journalists and bloggers each month.  The reader selects one book each month and the book is delivered in a custom-edition hardcover print.   Imagine their excitement of opening up that package even after the holidays are over!  Retail value: Subscriptions are $44.97 and up

For the sentimental– If you know somebody who loves decorating their home with photos, this canvas print is the perfect gift that will circle all of the things that they love most. canvas-art This personalized canvas art brings the best memories into a beautiful art piece.
Retail value: Canvas prints vary $27.95 and up, http://www.personalizationmall.com/canvasart

 

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Too Much Thanksgiving Food? Simple and Tasty Recipes for Leftovers From Your Feast

It’s hard to believe anybody has leftovers at Thanksgiving with all the tasty foods but it’s true.  If you are looking for creative twists to the usual feast of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie for the days after Thanksgiving, here are a few of my favorites.  If guests are still in town, you can enjoy them for days after the big meal.  The best part is that they are easy to make and crowd-pleasing.  Enjoy!

thanksgiving-feast

Leftover Turkey

Turkey and Corn Enchiladas
Ingredients
2 cups shredded roasted turkey or chicken
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1½ cups grated pepper Jack cheese (6 ounces)
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 small flour tortillas
1 cup store-bought enchilada sauce
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
1. Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, corn, 1 cup of the cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
2. Spoon the mixture onto the tortillas and roll. Place seam-side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
3. Top with the sauce and remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake until heated through and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve

Turkey Reubens
Ingredients
8 slices rye bread
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Russian dressing
8 slices roasted turkey or chicken
1 cup sauerkraut
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups potato chips
½ cup sliced pickles

Directions
1. Spread 4 slices of bread with the mustard and 4 slices with the Russian dressing.
2. Dividing evenly, top the mustard-spread slices with the turkey, sauerkraut, and cheese, then the remaining bread.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
4. Add the sandwiches and cook, pressing occasionally with the back of a spatula until the bread is golden brown and crisp and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with the potato chips and pickles.

Leftover Stuffing
Cheesy Breakfast Stuffing Cakes
Ingredients
For the Stuffing Cakes
2 cups leftover stuffing
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella, cheddar, or similar melty cheese

To Cook and Serve
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 large eggs
Salt and pepper
Optional toppings: cooked bacon; Canadian bacon or ham; leftover gravy; hollandaise sauce; sautéed spinach or mushrooms; chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, or chives

Directions
1. Place the stuffing in a large bowl, gently breaking up any large clumps. Add the egg and stir to combine, making sure that all of the stuffing is evenly moistened. Stir in the cheese.
2. Portion 1/3 cup of the stuffing mixture into your hands and shape into a patty that is about 3 inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Repeat for remaining mixture. You will have about 5 patties total.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Gently fry the cakes on each side until the patties are lightly crisp on the outside and warmed through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the cakes to a paper towel-lined plate and cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the eggs.
4. With a paper towel, lightly and carefully wipe the skillet clean, then heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Fry the eggs until the yolk is nearly set, about 2 minutes per egg. Top the cakes with any desired add-ons (bacon, sautéed spinach, gravy, etc.), a fried egg, salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately.

Leftover Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie Holiday Breakfast Casserole
Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup, or to taste
2.5 cups leftover chopped pumpkin pie (or other flavor) approx 3-4 slices, divided

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Chop 3-4 slices of leftover pie to make 2.5 cups of chopped pie.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Now add the wet ingredients and stir well. Adjust sweetener to taste. Fold in 2 cups chopped pie gently. Crumble remaining 1/2 cup of pie on top for a “streusel”
3. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 375F for 30 minutes or so.
4. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and almond milk. Add a dollop of whipped cream to garnish if desired.

Holiday Guest Frenzy? A Little Hosting Prep Work Will Make You Shine

As we march towards the holiday season, you may be strategically (and possibly frantically) planning for out-of-town friends and family to invade your home.  While their anticipated visit may be a very welcomed event, many of us aren’t fortunate enough to own a guesthouse on the property.  This is where you insert this guide to make the visit as comfortable and inviting as possible for your guests and for you- as the host- to feel like you aren’t tirelessly worried about the details.  You can sit back and enjoy the company!

bedroom

 Pre-planning is key

Ask your guests what essentials they may need to make them feel at home.  Will they need bedding accommodations such as an air mattress or pack-and-play for young children?  What are their favorite breakfast and snack foods?  Are there any allergies such as pets or dust?  This will help you to elaborate a plan to set up the room.  If you don’t have a requested item on hand, ask local friends or family to borrow items. If your visitors need extra bedding for little ones, make sure that they are set up and ready to crash in the moment they arrive.  Often times, traveling makes for cranky kids so it will be less hassle than setting it up upon arrival.  A thorough cleaning and dusting with clean sheets and towels is always helpful especially if there are allergies.  Don’t forget that great guests are always appreciative of a well-stocked pantry, too.  A little pre-planning goes a long way and will eliminate the unnecessary runaround after they walk through the door.

 Make it travel-sized

As they always say, attention is in the details.  We’ve all traveled somewhere and realized we’ve forgotten something at home.  Fill a basket in the bathroom with travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, and shower essentials as well as razors, a toothbrush (unused, of course), toothpaste, and bottled water.  Provide reading material and mints on the nightstand.  These are all welcoming cues for your guests.

 But what about the kids?

For those hosts who may not have children, let’s face it. You have to think like one who does!  Kids have accidents and you have to prepare your home for the unknown.  Assess your home to make sure that sharp items such as scissors and knives are unreachable to tiny hands.  Just in case, make sure to re-stock your first aid kit with band-aids and other essentials.  Put away breakable or valuable items that might accidentally meet the fate of a flying toy.  Set out a spare set of linens to be placed on-call for those unexpected middle-of-the-night mishaps.

If you don’t have a TV/DVR in the guest room, relocate one that you can live without (or borrow one!) during the stay.  This will be a lifesaver for those times when the adults want to talk and the kids need their own space and activity.  Don’t forget to check out Redbox for the latest kid-friendly movie!
book

 Fun for all

The best part of visits is making it fun for everybody!  Don’t feel required to make every meal- suggest trying out the newest restaurant in town or ordering take-out.  Set aside a game night that includes everybody. Tie in holiday-themed activities such as baking cookies, strolling down neighborhood streets lit up in holiday lights, or even decorating your own house.  After all, time and laughs together are what you’ll remember long after they pull out of your driveway.

 And a little space is always good, too

Depending on the length of the visit, it’s always nice to have a little separation.  Be sure to research local events or shopping venues with information and brochures that you can provide your guests (especially with kids!) if they need to get out of the house.  This will give you a breather on prepping meals, do some spot cleaning, or just recharging your batteries until their return.

 Speaking of spot cleaning……

As with most hospitable hosts, you were probably raised better than to ask your guests to lift a finger.  But dirty laundry does tend to pile up and clutter seems to get pushed aside.  Keep a laundry basket or bin in a specified place such as a closet or laundry room to collect used towels or linens.  This is a better method than doing a scavenger hunt throughout the house before starting a load.  Let them know there are disinfectant wipes under the bathroom sink and disposable cups, plates, and utensils in the cupboard.  These little hints will hopefully keep bathrooms and kitchens (somewhat) tidy throughout the visit.

Six Easy Steps to Keep More Money in Your Wallet

You’ve heard it before….. Avoid high-dollar coffee shops and make your own lattes.  Pack your own lunches.  Clip coupons.  Try store brand products to see how they compare to national brands.  We all need fresh ideas on how to get the most bang for our buck these days.  At times, we all need a new way of doing life and re-thinking our habits towards financial freedom.
wallet

  1. A well stock pantry- What does this mean?  It means that you have always have ingredients on hand to make your seasonings such as taco and chili as well as mix your own cleaning products (more environmentally safe, too!) for pennies on the dollars.  The best part is it only take minutes to make.  Google some recipes that will help you save even more at the register.
  2. Secondhand shop- Whether you are shopping for kids’ clothes or a kitchen table, there are plenty of options to find gently used items without the hefty new price tag.  Think eBay, consignment stores, and even the Goodwill.  Local community “buy and sell” sites and garage sales are great forums to find exactly what you are looking for and always a resourceful way to make money for things you no longer need.
  3. Become a good neighbor- Back in the day, people didn’t hesitate to call up a neighbor to ask for a cup of sugar or maybe two eggs if they were shorthanded.  By no means, make this a habit but if you are looking for something that you will only need to temporarily use (such as a ladder or a Halloween costume), reach out to neighbors to see if they have one on hand available for borrowing and gladly return the favor if they ever need anything.  It prevents you from purchasing something you will only use once and creating unnecessary clutter in your closets.
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  4. Consolidate trips and carpool- We live in an age where are always on the go and have a laundry list of to-dos.  However, lessen your trips to the pumps by picking one or two days out of the week to run errands opposed to jumping in your car everyday.  Make a carpool buddy that will help get the kids to and from school and soccer practices.  Best of all, it saves you time and is environmentally friendly, too!
  5. Negotiate rates with your credit card company or complete a balance transfer-  If you’re paying more on credit card interest than you would like, it’s vital to know that you do have some power as long as you’ve been making monthly payments on time. Call your credit card issuer to negotiate your current interest rate and explain your request.  Research transferring your balance to a low to no interest rate and stop using your credit card.  Create a manageable payment plan and stick to it!
    credit-card
  6. Develop a plan- If you are ready to make a dive into saving money, become serious about creating a plan for  “One Month of No Spending”.  Ruth Soukup discusses this plan in her book, “31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero”.  Her family saved over $1,000 a month using this approach!  Cheers to saving!