CREATE YOUR WISHLIST IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR NEW HOME

🏠If you’re in the market for a new home, create a wishlist of features you want.


THINGS TO INCLUDE ON YOUR NEW HOME WISHLIST

Now that you’ve likely spent a fair amount of time in your home thanks to COVID-19, you’ve probably come to realize how much you like or dislike some of the features in it. For example, those stairs you climb a dozen times a day – maybe you’d rather not have stairs in your next home. Or perhaps that yard you initially thought you could do without now is a necessity in your next abode. 

If you’re planning to buy a new home in the coming months, it’s time to evaluate the features of your current home to determine what’s working for you now and what isn’t. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you create a wishlist of features you’d like to have in your next house. 

WHAT FEATURES ARE WORKING, AND WHICH ONES AREN’T?

  • Rate your current home on a scale of 1-10
  • What’s your favorite feature in the home? Which one do you like the least?
  • Are you good with the style of home or do you want something different?

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME?

  • Do you have enough room or too much?
  • Does the floorplan suit your lifestyle?
  • Are there enough bathrooms and bedrooms?
  • What about the number of levels? 
  • Is there enough natural lighting in the home?

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME?

  • Do you enjoy spending time in the outdoor spaces of your home?
  • Do you like taking care of a yard or would you prefer to not have to do yard maintenance?
  • What about curb appeal? Does your home have any?
  • Is it difficult maintaining the exterior of your home? Do you mind doing tasks like painting, staining, etc.?

HOW WELL DO YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITY?

  • Are you happy with your neighborhood? Do you get along with your neighbors and is the neighborhood walkable? Is it close to the amenities you use?
  • How far do you have to travel to the grocery store or other important appointments?
  • Is your commute time acceptable?
  • Are you happy with the types and number of activities in the community?

If you’re looking to move soon, now’s the time to make a wishlist that contains all the features you’d like your new home to have. Evaluate the things that work for you and those that don’t in your current home, so you are sure to find the perfect home this time around. 

HOW TO SELL A FIXER UPPER HOUSE

🤝 So, you have a fixer-upper on your hands and want to sell it? No worries! Just follow these helpful tips.

GUIDE TO SELLING A FIXER UPPER HOME

Very few homes are perfect. Some homes have issues that cost quite a bit to fix. If you find that your home needs a little work, you’re the proud owner of a fixer-upper. 

There’s no need to stress about it, though. Many buyers favor fixer-uppers because these homes usually sell for less and they feel like they’re getting a good deal. Also, the new owners can add their personal touch to the home while making the repairs. 

If you’re looking to sell your fixer-upper home, follow the helpful tips below. 

FIND A GOOD REALTOR

It’s extremely important that you choose a realtor who has experience in selling fixer-upper homes. Not all realtors are created equal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:

  • How many fixer-upper homes have you sold in the last year?
  • How long does a fixer-upper usually stay on the market?
  • What percentage of the list price are you generally able to get from each sale?

If the agent can’t provide clear answers to your questions or is vague in her answers, look for another realtor. 

PINPOINT THE BEST FEATURES OF YOUR HOME

Despite the repairs needed on your home, it also has positive aspects buyers will appreciate. Make a list of the best things about your home and point them out to buyers to help facilitate the sale. 

SET A REASONABLE PRICE

Obviously, if your home needs work, you won’t be able to get top dollar for it. Get a home inspection done to help you set a reasonable price that buyers won’t shy away from. 

CLEAN YOUR HOME

Just because your home needs a little work doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be clean and tidy when prospective buyers come to see it. Now is a great time to declutter and get rid of things you no longer need or want. Clean the carpets, wash the windows, organize the closets, and keep the yard mowed and tidy. 

If you have pests or an infestation of any kind, call in an exterminator to eradicate it. Be sure to keep the paperwork from the exterminator to show buyers if they ask. 

MAKE MINOR RENOVATIONS

While you won’t be making any major renovations or changes during the sale of your home, you can make some minor repairs to help it sell faster. For example, you can replace broken light fixtures and switches, add a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and repair any leaky pipes or faucets to make your home more desirable. Also, don’t forget to place a “Welcome” mat outside the front door for people to wipe their feet on before coming inside. Just because your home is a fixer-upper doesn’t mean it can’t have curb appeal. 

Selling a fixer-upper might be a little more challenging, but it’s not impossible. Many potential buyers look specifically for fixer-uppers to get a great deal. If you’re trying to sell a fixer-upper, follow the helpful tips above to help it sell faster. 

BEST INDOOR PLANTS THAT ARE SAFE FOR PETS

🐾 Do you have plants in your home that are dangerous for your pets? Read the list below to find out.

HOUSE PLANTS THAT ARE SAFE FOR PETS

A burst of greenery in your home can make a huge difference in the look and feel of any room. That said, if you are a pet owner, you need to be more careful about the types of indoor plants you choose as some can be toxic for your pet(s). Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the best indoor plants for your home that aren’t just beautiful, but they’re also safe for your pets. 

BOSTON FERN

Coined “Nature’s Humidifier,” the Boston Fern ranks high on plant-lovers’ lists because of their ease of care and lovely shaggy fronds. This plant is extremely tolerant, but it thrives in bright light and high humidity. A bathroom is a great place for a Boston Fern. 

SPIDER PLANT

The spider plant is easy to grow as it tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. If you’re looking to purify the air with a touch of greenery without having to put forth much effort, the spider plant is a great choice. 

MONEY TREE

If you have pets or anyone with asthma or other respiratory problems, the Money Tree makes a great addition to your home. With its braided stems and palm-like, glossy leaves, it adds a tropical vibe that not only cleans the air but looks great doing it. 

WAX PLANT

This delicate-looking plant is anything but. Thriving in bright, indirect light and humidity, this lovely houseplant does fine in a wide range of growing conditions. As far as pets go, if yours tries to eat it, you won’t have to worry because it’s non-toxic. 

AFRICAN VIOLET

For those of you looking to add a floral touch to your home, the African Violet makes a great addition. All it needs is enough water to keep the soil moist and a bright spot to call home and it’ll thrive. 

CAST IRON PLANT

If you’re a beginner or you don’t possess a green thumb, you may want to try your hand at growing a cast iron plant. Hard to kill, this pet-friendly plant is extremely forgiving and will produce beautiful flowers despite your lack of proper maintenance. 

MOTH ORCHIDS

If you love orchids and want to try growing something a little more demanding, Moth Orchids are wonderful for their beauty and air-purifying qualities. 

The reality is, it’s hard to stop even the most well-behaved pet from nibbling on your houseplants, but when you grow the plants listed above, you won’t have to worry about their health if they do. 

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK A HOME SELLER

🏠 Have you found the home of your dreams? 💭Here are a few important questions to ask the seller to ensure you’re making the right decision.


IMPORTANT QUESTIONS I WILL ASK THE SELLER FOR YOU

Buying a home is often an exhaustive process. From touring endless homes looking for just the right one to the mountains of paperwork and inspections, it can be quite time-consuming. 

Once you’ve found your perfect home, however, it’s important that you learn everything you can about it to ensure you’re making the right decision. Below, we take you through several questions you should ask the home seller that will help you decide if it’s the right home for you. 

WHY ARE YOU SELLING?

People move for many reasons: wanting a bigger/smaller home, a birth, a death, divorce, job. While you may not get an honest answer to this question, it can help you and your Realtor negotiate a lower price if the seller is desperate to sell. 

HOW LONG HAS THE HOUSE BEEN ON THE MARKET?

Sometimes the information you find on your own can be incorrect. A Realtor has access to much more detailed information. The longer a house sits on the market for sale, the less likely it is to sell because buyers think something must be wrong with it. The reality is, most homes sit on the market for a long time because they are priced too high, to begin with. Be sure your Realtor understands your specific market  Be sure your Realtor understands your specific market and how to submit the kind of offer that will get you your dream-home without overpaying.

If the house you’re looking at has been for sale for a long time, the seller might be motivated to lower the price to finally get out from under it. 

HOW MUCH DID YOU BUY THE HOME FOR?

This is something your Realtor should find out for you. knowing how much the sellers paid for the home when they bought it tells you whether the market has gone up or down. It also lets you know whether the sellers might be more open to negotiation. If they bought it for cheap, they might be more willing to take a lower price for it since they will still make a profit. If they are asking close to what they paid for it, however, they probably won’t want to negotiate. 

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE SALE?

Typically, anything that’s permanently attached to the property is included in the sale. Other things such as window treatments play equipment in the yard, and appliances fall into a gray area that needs to be spelled out in writing. Your Realtor should be certain your purchase agreement includes everything that’s staying in the home or on the property and double-check that the sellers left these things behind as agreed. 

WHAT KIND OF NUISANCES ARE THERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD?

When you move into a new home, you also move into a new neighborhood. While the home may be perfect, the surrounding neighborhood could be anything but. Ask the sellers about things like problem neighbors, speeding traffic, etc. to get an idea of what the neighborhood is like before making the commitment to move into it. 

WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LIVING HERE?

This might seem a tad personal, but if the seller answers the question, you may learn something positive about the home that you didn’t know before like the tight-knit community around it, how the sun shines through the windows in the morning, or how lovely the wildflowers on the hill are in the summer.

7 ORGANIZATION FOR A BETTER HOME OFFICE EXPERIENCE

🖥️ Are you working from home lately? Maybe your kids are learning from home. 🛋️ Here are several organization tips to help you create the best home office experience.

7 GREAT TIPS FOR HOME OFFICE ORGANIZATION

With more people working and learning from home these days, it’s more important than ever to have a proper home office. It takes more than just pushing a desk up against the wall and plugging in your computer, though. For productive working and better learning, follow the organization tips below. 

1. LOCATION IS KEY

Where your home office is located is the key to success. You don’t need a lot of space – a closet or even just a section of a room is enough to create the perfect office space. It just has to be big enough to put a desk in. 

Avoid making your bedroom your office, however, as this could cause you to lose sleep overthinking all the work you need to do. 

2. DEFINE YOUR OFFICE BOUNDARIES

By defining your office boundaries, you automatically enter “work mode” when you cross that line. Whether it’s an actual door and walls or a partition or curtain, outline your workspace so that your brain – and anyone else in the household – know that when you’re within those boundaries, you’re hard at work. 

3. ENSURE YOUR COMFORT

It’s difficult to be productive when you’re uncomfortable, so it’s important you make sure you’re comfortable in your new home office. Invest in ergonomic furniture that’s not only comfortable but durable also. Working from home affords you many opportunities for comfort, so furnish your office accordingly. 

4. FOLLOW WORK RULES

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like you’re working. Follow certain rules to be as productive and as efficient as possible while working. 

  • Keep non-work activities outside the office
  • Keep your desk area clean and organized as clutter leads to chaos and stress
  • Begin your day with a plan
  • Don’t work in your pajamas. Get up and get dressed as if you’re going into the office each day. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie but get dressed.

5. SET WORKING HOURS

Just because you’re not going into the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have set working hours. Although working from home affords flexibility, you should still keep regular hours to help you stay focused and on task. 

6. EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

An organized office is a productive office, so do what you can to put things where they belong when you’re done with them. Stores like Ikea have multitudes of shelving, containers, and organizational tools to help you not only keep your office space neat but to make it look great, too. 

7. REMEMBER TO TAKE A BREAK

When you work from home, you may be tempted to work more than you normally do when you physically go into the office. This can cause excess stress and make it difficult to unwind. Be sure to take time for breaks throughout the day and find ways to rest and relax after the workday is over. 

SIGNS YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT

🏘️ You trust your real estate agent, right? If you hear something from her that sets you on edge, it may be time to find a new one. 🔀 Here are several things an agent might say that signal it’s time to switch agents.


THINGS REAL ESTATE AGENTS SAY THAT SIGNAL WARNING

You trust your real estate agent to have your best interest at heart. After all, you’ve told her exactly what you’re looking for in a home and you expect she will find it and be totally honest along the way. Sometimes, however, an agent may say something that sets you on edge and makes you think she isn’t the agent for you. When that happens, you may need to make the tough decision to go with another agent. 

Here are several things an agent might say that signal it’s time to find a new agent. 

“I’LL CALL YOU BACK.”

When you contact an agent for help in finding your new home, you expect her to be interested immediately. She should begin asking questions and taking notes so she can start finding your dream home. If she tells you she’s busy and will call you back, it could be an indication that she doesn’t have your best interest at heart. It’s probably best to look for another agent. 

“YOU REALLY DON’T NEED A HOME INSPECTION.”

Regardless of how well you know the agent or the sellers of a home, you should never forgo the home inspection. The home inspection can turn up unseen problems that could end up costing you a lot of money to fix once the home is yours. You have the right to have the home inspected as many times as it takes to satisfy you. 

“THAT SMELL WILL GO AWAY.”

If your agent tells you a particularly bad smell will just “go away,” it’s a sign that she’ll do or say anything to get you to buy the property. It’s not an honest answer, and you should be wary, lest you end up finding a human skeleton buried in your basement after moving in. 

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT GOING THROUGH THE DOCUMENTS.”

You’ve probably heard it from a parent or grandparent – “Never sign anything without reading it first!” Well, a good agent will never ask you to sign a contract without letting you read it first. Not only that, but a good agent will also make the time to help you understand the documents before you sign as well as take the time to help you understand the entire realty process! Be sure to read everything – including the fine print – before signing and find another agent if yours pushes you to sign without giving you time to read the document first.

“I HAVE A HOME TO SHOW YOU THAT’S SLIGHTLY ABOVE YOUR PRICE RANGE.”

You gave your agent a specific budget and she should stick to that budget. Showing you homes “slightly above your price range” is a poor real estate tactic that only serves to make buyers feel bad. Or worse, it pushes them to buy more home than they can afford. Your agent should respect your budget and only show you homes that fall below that number. If she keeps showing you homes that are more expensive, she definitely doesn’t have your best interest at heart. 

You should be able to trust your real estate agent to find you the home of your dreams. If she says any of the things listed above, it may be time to find a new agent. 

VINTAGE HOUSEHOLD TIPS

✨ The household hacks of yesteryear still have value today. Here are several oldies but goody household tips that still work today.

OLD TIME HOUSEHOLD TIPS THAT STILL WORK TODAY

As technologically advanced as we are today, some of the old tips and tricks of yesteryear still have value today. Take the vintage household tips listed below. Designed to cut waste and reduce time and effort, these household hacks make life easier.

While you may already know some of them, we’re willing to bet there’s a couple you’ll find particularly helpful. 

HELPFUL HOUSEHOLD HACKS FROM YESTERYEAR

Because our society is so tech-driven, most people think anything from before the Internet couldn’t possibly be very helpful. On the contrary, the tips below come from the 1940’s and 50’s, and they still work today. 

  • Got a dried paintbrush or two you forgot to clean? No worries! Just soak them in hot vinegar for a while than rinse clean. The brushes will be easy to clean and return to their like-new pliable state. 
  • If your clothes have seen brighter days, give their colors a boost by soaking them in a solution of 1-gallon water to ½ cup white vinegar. Alternatively, a solution of 1-gallon water to 2-cups salt works well, too. Wash your clothes as normal after soaking. 
  • Older homes have plaster walls, which can be a pain when trying to nail something to them. To keep nails from loosening in plaster walls, pound the nail into the plaster, remove it, wrap the nail in steel wool, then replace it in the hole. 
  • If a hole in your wallpaper is driving you crazy, fix it easily with this simple tip. First, cut away any jagged edges using a sharp knife. Next, cut a patch from the leftover wallpaper that matches. Wet the patch (or apply wallpaper glue), making sure the uneven edges are all covered. Finally, apply the patch to the hole, pressing all the edges down firmly. When the patch dries, you won’t be able to tell the hole ever existed. 
  • Paint drips got you down every time you paint a room? Remedy the problem by gluing a paper plate to the bottom of the paint can. This works better than spreading newspapers as it goes with you everywhere you take the can and you won’t need to re-spread the newspaper as you move about the room. 
  • If yours is like most, your kitchen contains at least one pot lid without a handle. For whatever reason, the handle broke off, leaving you without a way to safely remove the lid while cooking. To fix the lid and make it usable again, screw a screw through the center hole from the underside of the lid. Push an oversized cork onto the screw and voila! The cork is heatproof, so you’ll be able to use the lid as normal once again. 
  • If you have several pairs of high-heeled shoes, you can create a handy storage rack in your closet to keep your shoes in great shape and save space at the same time. Simply repurpose an old curtain rod by screwing it to the closet door with the slotted side facing out. Now, you can hang your shoes by their heels, which will keep them off the floor and looking newer longer. 

While these household tips are old-school, they still work today to make life easier and to save you money, too.

DO THESE THINGS BEFORE CLOSING ON A HOME

🤝 It’s almost closing time, but there’s one thing left to do – the final walk through.➡️ Here’s what you need to do at this crucial step.

HOW TO HANDLE THE FINAL WALK THROUGH

Here you are at the end of the home buying process. It’s been a long, exciting, and sometimes frustrating ride, but there’s nothing left to do but the final walk through. This is your last chance to make sure that all the repairs have been made and that no new repairs have cropped up since the inspection. It’s also the time when you make sure all agreed upon furnishings and appliances are still in the home and that all its systems are in working order. 

It seems like a lot to look over, but it will be worth it since things do happen in the moving process or while the home sits vacant before you take ownership. So, to help you with this important step, we’ve put together a checklist of all the things you should do/check during the final walk through. 

A LIST OF THINGS TO BRING TO THE FINAL WALK THROUGH

As a buyer, you should bring the following items to the walk through. 

  • The final offer
  • The inspection report
  • Written agreements between buyer and seller
  • A notebook
  • A camera or phone to take pictures
  • A small electric device to plug in to check that all outlets work
  • This list of items to check

The idea behind the final walk through is to make sure everyone has satisfied the terms of the agreement and that you’re not getting into a repair nightmare.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR DURING THE FINAL WALK THROUGH

This is your last chance to make sure everything is as it should be before you take ownership of the home. Here’s what to look for. 

  • Have all the repairs been completed?
  • Are all the agreed upon appliances, window treatments, furnishings, etc. in the home?
  • Has the seller left behind any garbage, old paint, or other waste?

THE HOME’S EXTERIOR

  • Are the roof and gutters in good shape?
  • Is there any waste/garbage left behind in the yard?
  • Are there any signs of a pest infestation such as droppings, chewed wood, etc.?
  • Do the garage doors function properly?
  • Is the doorbell working and the mailbox in good shape?

THE HOME’S INTERIOR

  • Make sure all utilities are on and that all appliances and major systems in the home work. 
  • Run the fans in the bathrooms and above the stove
  • Run hot and cold water faucets throughout the home. Check that there are no leaks in the plumbing beneath the sinks. 
  • Flush the toilets
  • Check the ceiling fans and lights in every room
  • Test outlets
  • Look for mold
  • Open/close all doors and windows and check locks
  • Check every surface for damage including walls, ceilings, crown molding, etc. 
  • Check that all the fixtures are in place.

If everything on this list checks out during your final walk through, great! Your new home is move-in ready and you can proceed with the closing.

MAINTENANCE TIPS FOR A WOOD DECK

🏡 It doesn’t take long for a wood deck to start looking weathered and neglected.

👉 Here are a few tips to help you keep your wood deck in tip-top shape.


HOW TO CARE FOR A WOOD DECK

A wood deck is a big investment that increases the value of your home and gives it visual appeal. Having said that, even the most well-constructed deck can begin to look shabby after a couple of years if it’s not taken care of properly. 

Caring for any outdoor installation is a continuous process, so follow the tips outlined below to keep your wood deck looking good for as long as possible. 

DO A WATER TEST

Your deck’s sealant has an expiration date. What that date is, however, isn’t an exact science. You should test the wood a few times a year to make sure the sealant is still doing its job. 

Simply spray some water on it and watch what happens to the water. If it soaks into the wood, it’s time to reseal. If the water beads up, the sealant is good for another few months. 

CLEAN BEFORE SEALING

When it’s time to reseal your deck, make sure it is as clean as possible before starting. Not only does a sealer help protect the wood from rot, but it also protects it from stains as well. 

Use a cleaner designed for wood to remove obvious surface dirt and then sand the deck lightly to prepare it for staining and/or sealing. 

USE A DECK BRIGHTENER

If your deck is particularly weathered, apply a deck brightener to breathe new life into it. This step is done after you have cleaned the deck and it has dried completely.

SEAL YOUR DECK

Sealing your deck is easy, but it requires at least two full days of dry weather to complete. Purchase a stain/sealer that repels water and resists fading. Apply a thin, even coat using a roller for the big areas and a paintbrush in corners and other areas where the roller can’t reach. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next and let stain-soaked rags dry completely in the sun before throwing them in the garbage. 

KEEP UP WITH MAINTENANCE

Applying a quality sealant will protect your deck for a long time, but this doesn’t mean you should neglect regular maintenance during that time. Periodically clean your deck of surface dirt and stains and conduct a water test to spot issues before they become big problems. Repair any issues as soon as possible to prevent more serious, expensive problems from occurring. 

ENLIST PROFESSIONAL HELP

For the do-it-yourselfer, caring for a wood deck is an easy task. If you aren’t sure what to use or don’t have the time to do it yourself, however, enlisting the help of a professional can save you considerable time and money. 

A wood deck is a big investment that adds value to your home and gives you a nice place to enjoy your outdoor space. To keep it looking great, follow the tips above, or hire a professional. 

THINKING OF BUYING VACANT LAND? THESE DO’S AND DON’TS CAN HELP

💭 Thinking of buying vacant land? 👉 These do’s and don’ts may help.

THINGS TO DO AND NOT DO WHEN BUYING VACANT LAND

If you’ve already bought a home and now want to try your hand at buying vacant land, be prepared for a whole new ballgame. Whether you’re planning to build your dream home on this vacant piece of land, or you hope to sell it for a profit in the future, these do’s and don’ts can help you avoid buyer’s remorse.

DO’S FOR BUYING VACANT LAND

  • DO work with a real estate agent – While buying vacant land seems less complicated, it can actually be more so than buying a home. Make sure to work with an agent who has experience in land transactions to ensure you get the help and understanding you need to have a hassle-free buying experience.
  • DO organize your finances – Most land purchases are made with cash rather than a loan, so be sure you have access to the amount of cash you need. If your funds are tied up in other investments, make sure to pull them out before making an offer on a piece of land. 
  • DO remember to include utilities and road access in your plans – If you’re building your dream home on the land you purchase, be sure to include the cost of running utilities to the home and supplying road access if there isn’t any. 
  • DO consider incentives – Consider taking advantage of incentives offered by the federal government in areas ravaged by natural disaster. This could give you a valuable piece of land at a low price. 

DON’TS OF BUYING VACANT LAND

  • DON’T expect a loan – A vacant piece of land has nothing to leverage for a loan. Lenders usually won’t finance vacant land.
  • DON’T forgo environmental testing – Many environmental factors go into whether a piece of land is a good investment or not. It needs to be evaluated by a professional to ensure you can do with it what you plan. 
  • DON’T neglect the survey – The land should be surveyed to identify its boundaries. 
  • DON’T talk to the neighbors – While talking with the neighbors is a good idea when purchasing a home, discussing your plans to build on a vacant piece of land may only serve to fuel opposition from neighbors who don’t want you to build. Save making friends with the neighbors until after you’ve built and moved in. 
  • DON’T count on having property rezoned – The governing body over your vacant piece of land likely has rules and restrictions when it comes to how you build and what you build on it. Rather than think you can apply for and change the zoning laws for your land, choose a parcel that meets your needs while staying within the existing zoning laws to keep things hassle-free. 

It may seem less difficult to buy a vacant piece of land than a home because there is no existing dwelling on it, but the opposite is actually true. If you’re thinking of buying vacant land, be sure you understand these do’s and don’ts before you begin shopping.