The Holiday Season is Here!

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As the Autumn season comes to a close, it’s time to put away the pumpkins and bring out the mistletoe because the Holidays are here! 

Whether you live in sunny Florida or the winter wonderlands of Michigan, the holidays bring one thing to both places….guests. When preparing your home for the holidays, following the checklist below will help make your guests feel relaxed and comfortable.

Entrance

    •    Make sure walkways and porches are free of ice and snow.

    •    Make sure all outdoor lighting is turned on and working properly.

    •    Add some extra room for coats and boots so there is less clutter.

Living Area

    •    This is the perfect time to get your carpets cleaned.

    •    Clean the windows so that your decorations can be seen inside and outside your home.

Bathrooms

    •    Cleaning the grout can give a fresh look to a bathroom.

    •    Make sure the bathroom fans and windows work properly.

    •    Keep extra bath and/or hand towels in the bathroom. (Holiday styles never hurt)

Kitchen

The kitchen is the most used room durning the holidays and always a room of gathering so making sure it is free of clutter is the best thing.

    •    Pots and pans are put away.

    •    Appliances work properly and are clean.

    •    Have light decorations for the season to make the kitchen feel cozy.

Guest rooms

    •    Have fresh linens on the beds.

    •    Clear some closet space or a drawer to make your guests feel more at home.

 

- Happy Holidays!

Buying a home in your 20s is easier than you think.

I never thought I’d want to buy a home before I was married, yet alone in my 20s. Nevertheless with my boyfriend being in the U.S. Coast Guard. I began to stress about if we ever would buy a home. It never made sense to me to buy a home if we would have to move four years later.

Recently, the thought of buying a home has become more realistic for myself. I was lucky enough to live with family for a few years after my college graduation and now I am renting. It is sickening to me, knowing my money is disappearing on a house that I won’t live in for more than a year. 

Nowadays, many Millennials refrain from owning a home mostly because of these two reasons.

The first reason being, they wait until marriage because at that point in their life, they probably have a better idea of where they want to live (like myself), stability in the workplace, etc. The second one is they value having a low-key, low-maintenance lifestyle. Home ownership often doesn't fit this value point.

But, owning a home is still a great money move in most areas. Here are some tips on how to buy a home in your 20s.

Be sure where you want to live.

I am originally from Upstate New York and moved down to Florida for school. Having that experience of living far away from home was an amazing thing because it taught me what I did and did not want. I knew that living back home was not for me.

My current situation is a little different. With my boyfriend being in the U.S. Coast Guard, it gives us plenty of opportunity to visit many places to decide what we like best before we settle down and put our official “roots” into a house.

After you're absolutely sure on where you want to live for the the next three to five years, it's time to roll up your sleeves and figure out how much you want to spend and can afford.

Build up your credit.

Twenty-somethings may have low (or no) credit, which means you'll have a hard time getting approved for a mortgage. Something small you can do if you have no credit, is open up a credit card with a small limit. The key to this is to be sure to pay it off every month.

If you do have established credit, be sure to review your credit report. It is important to keep your balances at 30 percent or below your credit limit in order to increase your score. Also, be sure to pay all your balances on time.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on a home and is easier than you might think. This Bankrate calculator plays with the numbers to see how your monthly payment would be affected, depending on your interest rate and down payment. You can get pre-qualified with any lender. Often, you can quickly do this right online. You should also be aware of the types of loan products that exist. It is important to use the loan that works best for you. Since my boyfriend is Active Duty, we will have the VA loan available to us. The VA loan is very beneficial to military families because it does not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance premium. 

Having a lower down payment helps ease a lot of the financial hurdles that come with owning a home.

SAVE consistently before buying.

Now that you know how much you can afford for a mortgage, it’s time to think about a down payment. That means trimming the budget and saving, saving, saving.

Some small things to do would be to steadily save a percentage of your paycheck and/or putting any extra money made right into your savings account (side jobs, bonuses, tax refunds etc.).

The most important thing is to set a goal and put aside money consistently for 6 to 12 months before you want to buy. This will help build up your down payment fund. That money could also go towards closing costs.

Get down payment assistance.

Make sure to research every down payment assistance and grant program you can find. It will provide you with a set amount of money to be qualified as a homebuyer.

Know what you’re buying.

It is not only important to worry about the finances of the home but to look into the home itself and its surroundings. Even when I am finding a house to rent, I make sure to do this. 

You want to get to know the neighborhood and areas around the home so you are aware of all that comes with it. Driving past the home in the morning, afternoon, and night is one way to get an idea of the people and traffic around your future home. To dig a little deeper, you could read press releases and news articles about the activity in the area or maybe do some Google digging. 

If your neighborhood has a neighborhood association group, that is one way to meet people in your community and get involved. It could really make all the difference in the home that you choose.

If you can’t afford it, DON’T buy it.

This is probably the biggest advice I could give 20-somethings who are looking to buy a house. While having a low salary, large student loan payments and other variables in your budget, it's important to buy a home you can comfortably afford.

Extra finances to keep in mind will making your budget include your mortgage, taxes, fees, insurance and maintenance costs. Here's another awesome calculator that can help you figure out how much you can afford.

Also, remember this: Just because you have been approved for an amount, doesn't mean you have to buy up to that limit.

Home ownership is smart, but it can be expensive if you don't prepare.

Hello Fall

When the autumn months roll around and the cool air begins to blow, it’s time to get the house ready. Decorating is the fun part of the seasons, right?! Some of the very best elements can be found in the details!

When decorating the front of your house and the porch area, there is two ways you can go about it; go big or go home style or clean and simple.

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Just by adding a few hay bales and assorted pumpkins can bring the season to life. Add some flowers to have a pop of color and to top it off all, a season wreath on the front door.

It is easy enough to just go to Target or Michaels and buy yourself decorations. Wooden signs that say “Fall” or “Thankful”, ceramic pumpkins and fake flower bouquet. But a favorite decoration of mine is any I create myself, a do it yourself (DIY).

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A more simple idea like putting twigs around a candle and maybe adding a ribbon could be a good starting point for someone new at diy. But for those of you feeling a bit more adventurous with your decorating, the mod podge leaf bowl is something for you. 

Feeling like doing some diy but not so creative? Taking big glass cylinders votives and filling them with acorns, fake leaves, and pinecones is another great idea and one I have around the house myself.

To top off all of your decorations you can NEVER go wrong with some fall scented candles.

Happy decorating ya’ll!

Fall is right around the corner!

Keeping your house maintained in the fall may seem like a big chore, but it doesn’t take much to keep your curb appeal up and maintained.

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There is any easy way to clean up this season that will make your fall check list dwindle.

Before you worry about how much work it’s going to be to get this started, it’s simple! You can purchase a compost bin for as little as $25 and it’s easy to get started.

Pick up the twigs and miscellaneous pieces in your hard and put them at the bottom of the compost.

Your beds will need to be refreshed and remulched to keep it from molding and protecting it from the harsh winter weather. Rake out that top layer of rough soil and put it on top of the branches in your compost.

Rake up the leaves and add those to the compost pile next.

Cut the grass one last time close to the ground and put the trimmings in the compost pile. All your yard work is then done and you don’t have bags sitting in your front yard that you’ll need to figure out how to dispose of and when that pile has composted, you can use it for fresh soil later.

Don’t let fall yard work keep your from maintaining your yard. It can be simple!

Summer House Must Haves

There aren't many requirements for a summer home, but here are a few we think you shouldn't live without:

Outdoor space to enjoy the weather on.

Fresh flowers to bring the outdoors in!

via bloglovin

Friends and family to share it with.

Last but least, a seriously comfy bed to end the day in!

Rent Rising? Roomates are a must!

Rent keeps rising, and with that comes a financial burden some can’t bear. Although buying a new home might not be on your mind, having a roommate in your newly purchased home or in your rented space is looking like a must have to get through this rise in price.

 

Shared spaces are hard to conquer, especially when you have been living on your own! Here are a few tips to help you get through the transition. Imagine cutting your belongings in half. All this storage space you have had before is now going to be shared. Be willing to split the space.

 

Be ready to mix styles. Each roommate comes with their own items and their own tastes. Each shared space should have a happy balance of each person. Be open to change and incorporating their items with yours.

 

Define personal spaces. When sharing a living space, it’s important to have your own individual space that you can escape to. Make this space feel like home to you.

 

Bathrooms can be the hardest to share! If you are sharing a bathroom make sure you have enough room. Double sinks is a major win when it comes to sharing a bathroom.

 

Go ahead and sit down with your new roommate and set up a plan. Work out a weekly/monthly cleaning schedule. Talk about what your daily routines are and find out theirs as well. The more you communicate, the better this transition will work out for both of you!

1.via bhg  2. via nousdecor  3. via bhg 4. via 100layercake 5. via sfgirlbybay

Different Lighting Provokes Different Moods

We've all heard the statement - mood lighting. But can lighting really effect you mood? We think so! Here are some examples of lighting we recommend for a welcoming home.

beautiful foyer....tile mixed with wood flooring, white washed wood plank ceiling accent, mouldings, columns, lanterns...

Light fixtures should be fit according to the size of a space. A larger room would fit better with larger lighting fixtures.

Kitchens That'll Never Go Out of Style: 7 Ingredients for a Timeless Look

The style should be cohesive with the rest of the decor as well! The black hardware and lighting above go together but the fixtures also stand out a little. That's a great balance!

From Magnolia Farms. Just bought this light fixture! Need bigger kitchen table!

Picking lighting fixtures based on a trend isn't always a great idea. Keeping a classic style keeps you on trend and can still be fun to look at!

I love this bathroom! Gorgeous finishes and brilliant ideas for space-efficient solutions at maisondepax.com

But most importantly, lighting should make you feel good about your home.

Changes that Make a Difference

If you are thinking about making some changes around the home, here are the ones that really make a difference.

An updated kitchen and appliances.

sherwin williams sea salt is one of the most popular green, blue, gray paint colour, good for a spa or beach theme bathroom or room

Changing the paint color of the room!

#inspiration  Photography: Tracey Ayton - traceyaytonphotography.com  Read More: http://www.stylemepretty.com/living/2014/03/24/the-doctors-closet-home-tour/

New light fixtures and hardware around the house like door knobs and drawer pulls.

Young Home Love: Clean, White & Pretty…A Lovely & Simple Design For Your Young Home | Fab You Bliss

Updated flooring can really change the look and feel of the home and with so many new options this doesn't have to be as costly as it used to be.

I like the twist on installation of the subway tile and the wood vanity

Fresh new tile in the bathroom!

What are some other changes around the home that you have done to really make a difference?

How Built In's Help!

These days we move into a new home with more than ever before. Moving trucks are getting larger and our things are piling up! Storage is one of the most must haves in homes these days and a built in can do that for you.

I need to save this one for sure! I am always overwhelmed when decorating a bookcase. Great Decorating Ideas for Styling a Bookcase @Laura Jayson Putnam - Finding Home

Built in's are an amazing way to store all those necessities and keep the room looking fresh and clean. They also give the room some character which is another must have these days.

wood shelving. Reminds me of a spa. Would be great in a bathroom

Taking unused space and making it functional gives the home more value. It may not seem like it in square footage but it can be a deciding factor in a buyer.

Start at Home: Built In Shelf {the easy way} & tutorial Perfect for the NW corner of dining room to put nic nacs on

It can be as easy as taking a corner that seems unusable and reinventing it's purpose.

Search for "French inspired" - 14/47 - Home Bunch - An Interior Design & Luxury Homes Blog

Or providing storage space where you'd want it but most homes don't have!

Home in Tennessee by Austin Bryant Moore

There are so many great spaces to have a functional built in.

Home Staging Changes for 2016

Staging a home from selling has gone from feeling like a home, to feeling so stark and empty that it's hard to see yourself living there! I'm not sure when the home stagers decided that empty was wonderful but I predict a change.

Seaside Stripes

Home staging is going to find a unique balance between clean, styled, and still feels like home.

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The reasoning behind going to stark and empty is so that the buyer can imagine their things in the home, but that's hard for people who aren't visual. They just see an empty room!

love this bedroom  -  A Plant Designer and DJ’s Easy-Going Brownstone | Design*Sponge

A happy balance applies to all buyers. One's who can dream up what the home would look like, and one's that done and want to see how someone else made it home.

Popular kitchen cabinet colors

It's going to be interesting to see the change in home staging for 2016. I hope they realize what they are missing out on going so empty and cold.

gallery wall design

What are your predictions for home staging in 2016?

Are You Negotiating?

When most people sign lease agreements they may not realize that some things are actually negotiable! Most assume that everything is set in stone and they just have to take what they are offered. Here are a few things you might want to consider talking about during your next lease agreement:

Apartment Building CASP 74 / Bach Arquitectes

Rent!

Your rent price is set by your landlord on what they think it is worth. That doesn't always mean that it is what it is actually worth! Take a look at other options and come ready to let them know what the true value of their space is and what you are willing to pay.

Classic and Elegant Townhouse

Amenities!

Most amenities come with additional fees. Gyms, pools, parking and add more than you were hoping for in your monthly bills. You can negotiate these to be put into your monthly rent or ask for one time only payments! Don't want all these amenities? Ask to only pay for what you'll use.

Primrose Hill - dream place to live really

Pets!

Some places have a strict no pet policy and most of them choose this option because they have been burned before by previous tenants. If you have a certain size, species, or just a really well behaved quite pet - you might be able to swing getting them in with you! This might include an additional fee, but it may be well worth it in the end.

Pet Friendly Home Tour: Jess Lively & Franklin | Pretty Fluffy

Deposits!

Didn't know deposits could be negotiated? Have you been renting for a while and have a great record and some contacts to prove so? Do you have renters insurance to cover any damages? If you are able to prove those things you might be able to lower the deposit cost or have it taken away altogether.

What are you thinking about negotiating?

Traditional Wood Floors Are Gone

Traditional wood floors are now off the demand list!

Lauren Shadid Architecture - House of Turquoise

With so many options available what should you choose?

Robson Rak + Made by Cohen collaboration - Elwood House — The Little Design Corner (www.thelittledesigncorner.com)

Current trends are saying blonde, gray, and white washed are in.

Bespoke Natural Grey Engineered Oak from Reclaimed Flooring Co http://www.periodideas.com/bespoke-natural-grey-engineered-oak-reclaimed-flooring-co

Wide planks seem to be the  most desired but even herringbone is coming back in!

Large bank of floor to ceiling cabinets, beautiful windows & doors with oversized transom (so much natural light!), herringbone wood floors.

Let's just say you'll be safe to stay away from the traditional skinny wood floors for now!

Why Rental Costs Are Rising!

Rental costs are skyrocketing and you might not know why, but we do.

Family-sized: Chelsea and Marc splashed out on a $10.5million, four-bedroom apartment last... http://dailym.ai/1r39CEL#i-aa570e76

A majority of the economy is renting instead of purchasing! Why?

Have a studio, no problem. Build a stage four your bed- and build a room divider- or install a curtain around your bed, in a sense creating a room divider.

With the economy down we are learning to live with less square footage and necessities.

Streets of Monaco at Night. I want to take you there forever.  That place has something very special and with you would be magical.

We find ourselves traveling more which means we aren't willing to be tied down.

8 Sneaky Small Space Solutions | Apartment Therapy

But because of these things, more renters equal higher rent. It's the average concept of supply and demand.

old apartment building

But with higher rent it is less affordable, so you end up in a less desirable area.

Go Whimsical in Your Color Approach. Teal front door and gray grey exterior on house home. (IDEA for front porch)

And you'll soon find out that the single family home you were looking at before, is not only more affordable. But you get a return investment from it!

Which is better? Neither. It depends on your living situation. But if you are looking for something more affordable, you might just want to look at your rent cost vs a monthly mortgage!

Goodbye Granite, Hello Change!

Is granite going out of style? You  might not think so, but the new wave of home buyers say otherwise! There are so many different counter top options to choose from and with granite it almost every home, where's the personality? What makes your home stand out from the rest?

concrete countertop! beautiful clean kitchen. Like it as a backsplash as well.....do not like the wall of tile above it though.

It used to be that granite was unique, a luxury, and a must have! Lately other's have been seeing the benefits of other options. Granite can be hard to choose. With it's mix of colors and patterns it creates less options for tile and other decor.

Cambria Quartz

With cheaper options that are just as pretty, easier to clean, and not as busy there's no wonder people are preferring them.

Repaint the cabinets below and above the sink this gray color. Also replace the counter top with this

Today's kitchen's seem to be heading towards the brighter side of life. Neutral's are in and dark is heading out. Bright and airy seems to be the future.

Lake House with Transitional Interiors - Home Bunch - An Interior Design & Luxury Homes Blog

Have you considered different counter tops?

Choosing a color palette!

Finding a color palette that will be loved by many is not an easy task!

Great color palettes

While many buyers are drawn towards a natural hue, adding a touch of color can really set you apart from the rest.

Ceiling details and colors.

A colorful door can make a simple statement without requiring much of a paint job!

Spring Decoration for your Luxury Home | colorful decor | decorating ideas | interior design | home decor ideas | bedroom design | bedroom decor. For more inspirations go to www.homedecorideas.eu.

Using colorful accessories in your staging is a great way to catch someone's eye.

How To Decorate Your House Like A Pro

Or picking a color that pairs well with neutral tones can give it a more homey feel.

What kind of color palette are you drawn towards?

Paisley Punch List

Recently we went through Paisley and made a punch list to finish before the final reveal!

Exterior
  • There are various areas the paint is bubbling around the fascia & some around the front window frame. We need to correct this.

  • There are shingles to the right when facing the home that are sagging, like someone placed a latter over them. We need these straightened out so they don't look like old shingles.

  • The front porch area & front posts need some touch up paint
  • Need to caulk around the front fascia and around the windows so there are no gaps

  • Need to add a little more mulch to the front where dirt is showing.

  • There is a pile of wood on the side yard of the home if we can get hauled away

  • Secure the TWC box to the home

  • There are a few boards that are soft & need to be secured. There are also various areas of the deck that will need to be repainted. This includes around the bottom of the posts on the ground and board under bottom step.

  • The lattice under the left side of the deck needs to be flush with the bottom of the deck. There are a few lattices missing under the step area.

  • Remove shrubbery at the back of the home. There are various areas where vines are beginning to grow. If we could remove those vines.

Interior
  • Need to finish the kitchen floor and add trim/threshold. Including both doorways, between the kitchen/dining room & kitchen/great room.

  • The side door entrance that is being used needs to have the seal repaired or replaced and some touch up paint. There are cracks showing in the door frame.

  • Replace small window in door.

  • The bottom of the Refrigerator needs to be secured.

  • Gloss spray paint the side top portion of the stove
  • Need all the corners of the hardwood floors in the dining room, bedrooms and hallways sanded.

  • Add light in the living room to the fan. We are aware this may be an additional cost.
  • Remove all stickers from all windows or on any items.
  • Need touch up paint throughout. Also need touch up paint on base boards.

  • Need to fix the floor in the great room where the one piece is popping up.
  • Spot on wall by air return in hall needs repaired then painted.
  • Adjust hinges on hall bath vanity door. Not closing properly.
  • Add the trim/threshold in master bath door

  • The left side of the master bath vanity need touch up paint.
  • Replace lights in master bath for updated lights

  • Clean out air vent in master bath floor where debris has fallen down.
  • Need to caulk master bath tile floor where it's dirty

  • Touch up paint under the master bath window.
  • Small spot in ceiling of the back bedroom needs touch up paint.
  • Fill gap around the windows in back bedroom.

Getting close to finishing this one!

Great Descriptions equal great sales!

Selling a home isn't as easy as one would think. There are a lot of factors that are involved and then there's that terrifying word: marketing. Everyone knows enough to dabble in marketing but are you doing it well enough to grab the right people? Are you choosing your words carefully? What is the secret to selling a home fast?

There isn't one specific thing that sells a home fast. It's personal. When someone walks through the door, they either feel connected to the home or they don't. Sure there are pluses and minuses like does it have an office, is the backyard big enough, and is there enough space or storage. But what really pulls someone in, is the "Can I see myself living here?"

What I want to know, is can you get that question answered by someone who isn't even in the home? I bet you can. Words have transferred us to new places, given us a visual of what life could be like for decades in books, newspapers, and even blogs. Can words and pictures walk you through a home you've never been in and make you want to be there? I think so, and so does CEO Spencer Rascoff and Chief Economist Stan Humphries in their book, "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate".

Real estate language and buyer language are quite different and very important in wording your descriptions of a home. Some are magical and some are very detrimental. Calling a home modern might seem like it's saying it's up to date, sleek, shiny, and new to a buyer, but calling a home modern in real estate means it was built in the mid-to-late 1980's.

Another example might be using words that say cozy, charming,  or quaint might seem like something that would bring a buyer who is looking for a cottage style home in, but to real estate agents you are saying it is less than 1,500 square feet. Small might not be the word you were looking for, but that's what it's saying.

So who are you writing these descriptions for? Buyers or Real Estate Agents or Both? If this were a few years ago I'd say you were writing descriptions for Real Estate Agents. These days, I say it's the buyers! With homes in books, magazines, blogs, and most importantly home websites like Zillow, it's the buyers searching through these listings and sending them to their Real Estate Agents for showings. It might be safe to cater towards both, but think with the buyer in mind and as long as you have great pictures to go with it, you are sure to win the hearts of many.

Reclaiming Your Castle | …loving the place you come home to.

Are there other ways you can go wrong in your description? Yes there is! Not using the allotted words in the description section are a waste of a great opportunity. If you have 250 words available to you, use every last one of them. People want to know everything there is to know about the home and they are willing to research and read all about it. Give them what they want, and who knows maybe those last three words are what grabs them the most!

ipincomplish: Welcome Post and Sign! So adorable!

Lastly, if there's something original, amazing, breathtaking about the home you are selling. Don't sell it short. This is competition!  Like Rascoff and Humphries advise, "If you've got it, flaunt it." and I think you should do just that.