Tips for Packing Up Your Home

moving-boxesMoving can be a very stressful time with finding your next home to packing up your belongings and then moving day. It can definitely be overwhelming but the tips below may help the process going a little smoother.  Find out how to get organized, what supplies you need & how to pack certain items.

Get organized ahead of time.  Don’t move anything that you no longer need.  Get rid of old clothes, furniture & possessions you don’t use  Why move things from one place to another if you are going to just throw them out later.

Buy your supplies.  You will want sturdy packing tape, different sized boxes, something to label each box with.

Packing tips.  Don’t make your boxes weigh more than 50 pounds.  Pack heavier items at the bottom.  Make sure boxes can be closed securely and are flat so you don’t damage any contents and you can stack the boxes.  Smaller/loose items should be packed into a bag or smaller box and then placed into a bigger box.  Clearly label each box.

How to pack and prepare major appliances.  These are a little more difficult due to how heavy and awkward they are plus they need uninstalled.  You may want to contact the dealer of the appliances to see if there are specific instructions you should follow.  You can also go to to find or order a manual.  For all appliances secure the electrical cord to the back with packing tape so they don’t dangle.  Also, tape doors & lids shut.

Packing pictures, frames & mirrors for safe travels is important.  You don’t want broken glass, chipped corners or tape damaging the surface.  Find a box that is bigger than the item.  Break the box down so it is flat & tape one end securely.  Wrap the frame with bubble wrap and carefully slide it into the open end of the box.  Seal it securely and label FRAGILE with the location – kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc….

Do It Yourself Landscaping

easy-front-yard-landscapingAre you looking for ideas to spruce up your yard? Do you want to add some color or do a complete makeover? There are many variables to consider in do-it-yourself landscaping, such as budget, skills, how you plan on using your yard, personal tastes, etc. Before you start buying & digging, do your research on which plants you like and which would work best for your landscaping plans. Below are some tips to help get you started.

  • Flowers always make a home seem more welcoming. Planting assorted annuals and perennials at your homes entrance help keep color all year long.
  • Use Evergreens and other Foliage plants for continuity. Deciduous trees and shrubs provide more color and variety while the evergreens give you a year round show.
  • Add dimension to your yard with elevated planters and hanging baskets. Plants appreciate the good drainage & aeration that raised planters provide.
  • Layer flower beds when planting. Use 3 rows with the back row being the tallest plants, a middle row with the next tallest, and front row has the shortest plants. Using repetition throughout all of your landscaping helps provide unity.
  • Before you begin landscaping your backyard decide how it will be used. Is it a children’s play area, a pet’s outdoor residence, a peaceful place to sit and relax, a place to grow a vegetable or flower garden? Knowing how you will utilize this space will help you decide what you want to do with the backyard.
  • Install water features for a good focal point. Water features aren’t only visually appealing but also give you soothing sounds. Water features can be ponds, fountains or even a waterfall.
  • Make your life easier with a low-maintenance yard. When you are purchasing plants for your yard, don’t forget to be sensible in planning for its maintenance. If your yard causes too much work you will resent all that you did to make it beautiful. Plan your design for the level of maintenance you are willing to do.

Energy Saving Tips

ThermostatIt’s that time of year where the summer heat brings higher electricity bills. Energy prices have been on the rise and are expected to increase by about 13 percent come 2020. Here are a few simple tips to help bring down costs this summer season:

  • Set the air conditioner thermostat as high as comfortable – recommend 78* or higher when you’re home and 85* when you are gone.  Install a programmable thermostat and have it set so you don’t have to remember to make adjustments 2 or more times a day.
  • Keep the blinds and windows closed during the day and open at night.
  • Ceiling fans are also low-cost ways to keep your home a little cooler.
  • Minimize indoor heat: run the dryer and dishwasher at night on hot days. It’s best to avoid the use of major appliances between 2 and 8 p.m.
  • Clean out air conditioner filters once a month. If they are covered in fuzz and dust, they can’t cool the air as well.
  • Look for leaks and cracks in your home. Make sure your house is properly sealed in order to keep the cool air in that you are paying for.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics and use power strips. All of the small appliances and gadgets you leave plugged in during the day are increasing your utility bills. Use one power strip with about five or six different gadgets plugged in. When you leave for the day you can turn the entire strip off.

Homes that have an “incurable” defect

What feature/features would you not compromise on when you are shopping for a home?  Do you think about this question before you start looking for a future home?  The purchase of a home will likely be one of your biggest investments ever.  It is important for you to look closely to be sure it is the wisest place to invest your money.  There are homes that have “incurable defects.”  These are things that no matter what you do to improve and update the home these problems will never go away.  Incurable defects can affect the resale value of a home as compared to other properties in the neighborhood.  Such a property will be on the market longer and the offers will be lower and so might the appraised value. Here are some examples of incurable defects…

Bad Location

  • On or near a busy road/intersection
  • Railroad tracks nearby
  • Proximity to commercial/industrial buildings
  • Proximity to apartments and government housing
  • Noise pollution
  • Wind pollution such as odors from neighboring farms or factories

Bad Layouts

  • Narrow doorways and halls
  • Adjoining bedrooms
  • Awkward floor plan
  • A lot of stairs
  • Location of main bathroom
  • Dining room in center of home

If a home you are considering buying has a price that seems too good to be true, perhaps you should look a little closer.  Make sure that your hard earned money is being invested in the home that is best for you and offers a good potential for resale.

How to Make the Most Out of a Small Kitchen


Are your kitchen cupboards and drawers so full they are about to burst?  Do you keep family and friends away because you feel there is just no space to entertain?  No matter how much space you have, there are many space-saving solutions for smaller kitchens.  Try some of these tips for making the most out of your space:

1. If you can, open up walls that separate the kitchen from other areas of the house. This will make the kitchen feel more roomy.

2. Go to the ceiling with storage.  Put items that you don’t use on a regular basis on the top shelves.

3. How do you store your food?  Are there decorative containers that you could use that allows you to display them on the counter and not have to be hidden in a cupboard.

4.  Organization – Make the kitchen efficient by placing appliances within a few steps from one another.  Don’t forget that you can use your walls as storage also.  They are perfect to hang pots & utensils.

5. Use clean colors.  They make any small space appear bigger.

6. Movable islands are a great way to add counter space and storage.  When it is time for an event you can move it into another room.

7.  Store bigger items that you rarely use in other parts of the house.

8. If there are windows, emphasize them!  Natural light is great!


Make the most out of that first impression

ImageIn this internet connected age, over 90% of home buyers look at online listings before they even consider seeing a house in person.  Posting good quality, nicely staged & de-cluttered photos are very important.  That doesn’t mean that you need a professional photographer or stager to prepare your home.  With a simple camera that produces high-quality photos and a little practice, you can take listing photos that will highlight the selling points of a house & get it off the market quicker.

Good lighting:  Take photos during the day when there’s as much natural light as possible.  Turn on lights, open up curtains and blinds.  Take the photo from the best angle possible getting the brightest and clearest view of a room.

No clutter:  Pick up your house before photos are taken.  Clear off counters, tables, beds and floors of all clutter and personal items – especially the refrigerator.  Clutter can be a distraction so make sure you take a step back and assess the room before photos are taken and put online for the viewer to see.

Staging:  Try to look at your home through a buyers eyes as though you’ve never seen it before.  Is there any painting that needs done?  Are there items/furniture that could be removed from a room to make it look larger?  Create a focal point for each room.

Match the photos to the listing’s description:  If your listing describes custom cabinets, a lake view or some amenity that may entice a viewer, include a photo.  Great descriptions are helpful but seeing photos are even better!  Showing the best qualities of your house is important.

More photos, more views:  Listings that have 10+ photos receive 2-3 times more page views compared to listings with just one photo.

Keep pets & people out:  Although that dog, cat or baby may be a cute addition to your photo, it is best to keep them out.  When people show up in a photo that tends to be all a person sees.  Pets can be a turn off to some people as they can assume there may be smells, stains or damage that comes with your furry friend.

4 common mistakes made by home sellers

Cluttered Room

The harsh winter weather is making way for the much-anticipated signs of spring, a season many agree is ideal for selling homes.

That’s great news if you are ready to put your house on the market. But is your house really ready to be in the spotlight?

Timing is everything, but not without preparation. In fact, it’s your responsibility to position yourself and your house to get the best price possible.

And it might just pay to consider these potential pitfalls so the offers do, in fact, roll in.

#1: Not pairing with the right realtor
Your real-estate agent will take you through the stages of the home-selling process — listing, showing, negotiating and closing.

Be sure to choose a full-service firm that is established, respected and professional. Your agent should be knowledgeable of your market so he or she can, well, successfully market your property.

Also make sure the agency is technically savvy and has a track record of posting full and accurate listings, complete with flattering property photos.

#2: Not facing facts
Speaking of photos, have you looked closely at your home lately?

It’s crucial that you take a fresh look at your property, outside and inside. Be brutally honest, but don’t take it personally. Simply gather–and face–the facts regarding its strengths and weaknesses. Only then can you make a plan to maximize your offering.

Start with appointed, calculated walk-throughs/walkabouts … perhaps with the help of family, friends, neighbors, or professionals. Maybe begin with a formal inspection.

Essentially, note any structural, functional and aesthetic flaws. Then figure out what needs fixing, distracted from, refreshed, updated, added and/or removed.

Curl appeal is important because neglected or outdated designs and features on the outside can suggest the same on the inside. And anything a potential buyer sees and doesn’t like during a drive-by or an online viewing could eliminate your property from further consideration, such as:

      • poor conditions of shrubs/trees/plants, potted plants
      • out-of-season or abundance of yard/door decorations
      • damaged or insufficient lighting
      • insufficient, inappropriate window coverings as seen from the outside
      • poor conditions of gutters/roofs
      • cluttered porches/patios/play areas/driveways
      • unsanitary garbage areas

Once you get potential buyers inside your home, you want to keep the focus on the potential of the spaces to meet their needs. You do not want to make it easy for them to get stuck on things that likely aren’t deal breakers, like:

      • simple yet needed repairs
      • poor flow of space due to arrangement or abundance of furniture
      • not showcasing natural lighting features of home
      • clutter
      • too much personalization
      • uncleanliness
      • unpleasant odors

#3: Not doing — or hiring out — the work
Now that you know what you’re working with, flaws and all, it’s time to do the work. Again, ask for help if you need it, from painters, plumbers, electricians, designers, even landscapers.

Fix what can be fixed within reason (i.e. your budget and time constraints) and play to the strengths of all else.

When you think you’re finished, remember to maintain the home’s condition for showings and open houses. Also work with your agent at being flexible and available so as to accommodate the schedules of potential buyers.

#4: Not seriously considering first offers
A major mistake of sellers regarding pricing is to initially focus on what they need to net from their home versus what the home is worth.

However, if you and your realtor have priced your house right as well as positioned and showcased your house appropriately, all offers should be reasonable and therefore taken into consideration. Especially the first ones, according to many in the industry.

Serious buyers, sometimes called Real Dealers, are pre-approved, continually scanning the local listings, and possibly in touch with agents who are on the lookout just for them. So if your house is priced right and meets a buyer’s criteria, that early –if not first — offer may be worth a second look.