Do It Yourself: Easy, Cheap Ways to Increase the Value of Your House

If you’re trying to sell or rent your property, it’s especially important that it looks and feels great. This could mean paying someone lots of money to build improvements, or to decorate, but it doesn’t have to be that hard, and it certainly doesn’t have to be that expensive. Here are a few simple, inexpensive things you can do yourself.

 

Clean

Believe it or not, a little cleaning can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your property. Make sure that it is spotless before anyone comes to look at it. In addition, many people don’t realize that the appearance of the house and yard from the street is one of the most important aspects of the property. Make sure that your yard and landscaping, as well as the appearance of the house itself, are perfect. If you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself, you can always pay someone else to do it, but most of these things are easy for anyone to do.

 

Paint

You’ll be surprised by how much a coat of paint can change a place. If it feels a little tired, dirty, or run-down, try some paint in a generic color that everyone will like. It’ll feel like a completely different house, and it will only cost you a couple hundred dollars and a few hours.

 

Replace

Hopefully you won’t need to replace any major systems in your house, but replacing things like faucets and fixtures is easy, and will only cost a few dollars. Even replacing a light bulb or two can change the feel of the house. One hundred dollars and three hours of replacements can increase the sale price of your property by thousands of dollars.

 

Looking for more DIY ways to improve the value of your property? Contact us.

Negotiation: Selling a Home for the Highest Price

Selling your home is never an easy thing to do. There are so many things to do, but one of the most important things is to negotiate a price that is as high as possible. Here are a few helpful tips about negotiating the selling price on your home.

 

Everything is negotiable

When negotiating, it’s important to remember that there is very little that is off-limits, within reason. Of course, you’ll want to negotiate the price, but also consider who pays closing fees. Perhaps you need to close sooner, or the buyer needs a little more time. You might even consider financing the property yourself, which adds even more to the list of things that you can negotiate. Make sure that you consider all of these things. Negotiate for anything you want, and exchange anything you don’t.

 

Take your time

If it’s possible, don’t be in a hurry to sell your home. Even if you just want to get rid of the place, taking that approach towards the sale can cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Take your time with the sale. In addition to preventing mistakes and allowing you to make good decisions, it can also strengthen your position. Generally, the person who needs the transaction to happen more quickly is the one who gets stuck with the bad deal.

 

Don’t give anything for free

When you negotiate, don’t ever give anything away for free. First of all, if you have something that they want, they’ll be willing to exchange it for something you want. Why not take it? But more importantly, once you’ve given something for free, they’re likely to start feeling entitled to things, and may even get upset when you don’t give them other things.

 

Are you trying to negotiate a high price for your old house? Contact us.

12 Do It Yourself (DIY) Tips You Need for Surviving Home Ownership (Part I)

Did you ever realize that owning a home is similar to newborns? Neither of them have an accompanying instruction manual. Sometimes you’ll wish you had one—especially if you’re in an unavoidably, tricky situation.

You could always dole out handfuls of money to a home contractor or another choice is to “wing it”. Yet the smart thing is to have a basic understanding of dealing with repairs yourself. This first part of the do it yourself (DIY) tips will help you save the green stuff as well as time.

Repair a Leaky Faucet

Listening to that constant “drip, drip, drip” can be vexing! Most of the time, it’s due to a faulty washer that’s inside the handle. Before attempting to fix the faucet, you must shut off the water valve that’s underneath your sink. Next, plug the drain with a rag so you won’t lose any parts; take off the top screw cover, take out the screw and then remove the handle. Using a wrench, take apart the stem; then lay out the parts on your counter in the order they came out. This is so you’ll remember how it all goes back together later. Inspect plastic cartridges and rubber parts to make sure they aren’t cracked. If you find one that is, bring it to your local hardware store for an exact replacement part. Now, in reverse, put together the parts you’ve got on your counter.

Finding a Stud

If you don’t have a stud finder, don’t worry, you can still locate a stud in your wall; you just need to use logical thinking. Usually studs are 16 inches apart; so when one is located then it’s simple to find the other studs.

Remove the plate of an outlet and pinpoint which side is affixed to the stud. Another option is to look for a stud in one corner of the room since that’s where studs always are. From this point, measure 16, 32 and 48 inches out; at each of these points you should find a stud. To avoid speculation, drill a small hole at the top of your baseboard molding. This test hole can be patched up with a bit of caulk.

Digging a Hole

Okay, everyone knows how to dig a hole—but you want to do it without being electrocuted. Depending on how far down you have to dig, you could end up cutting into a buried power line. So, before your dig that hole, dial 811 on your phone to inform your local utility companies. Someone will come out in a few days to mark all of your buried lines.

Search for Termites

Here’s something you’ll never see coming and these little bugs aren’t easy to find. You must play detective and explore places such as the attic and crawl spaces—anywhere that you can see the wood framing of your home. Examine these areas carefully and be on the lookout for branch-like, raised tubes; when these “tubes” break open they unveil yellowish- or cream-colored insects. These little wood eaters could also be hiding where your siding and foundation meet. Survey this area for little dirt clumps or salt-sized droppings beside pinholes. If you spot just one dropping or termite in or on your home, it’s time to call your local bonded and licensed exterminator.

Guarantee the Lightbulb Has a Long Life

We’ve all heard that “pop” when a lightbulb burns out. This is caused by a bent or dirty small brass tab in the lamp socket which interacts with the bulb. But did you know you can prolong the life of the lightbulb by cleaning it? Turn off the circuit breaker or unplug the lamp. Wash the tab with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip. If the tab is bent, use a screwdriver and gently unbend it so it’ll make contact with the bulb base.

Drilling Through Tile Without Splitting It

Yes, it can be done! You need a hammer and drywall screw to start. Set the drywall screw tip precisely in the spot you want to drill your hole. With the hammer, tap the screw very, very gently to puncture the tile; this will make a divot. Next, put a masonry bit in your drill and lay it into the divot to keep the bit in place while you drill your hole. Simple—no fuss, no muss!

Know Which Circuit Breaker to Switch Off

If there ever comes a time when you want to install a dimmer switch or hook up a generator, you must know which circuit breaker to turn off. You’ll need to make sure your breaker box is labeled properly. Have someone plug lamps into the outlets in each room and inform you when each one goes out as you flip a switch. Use a permanent marker and write on the metal next to every breaker what the switch is for. Label each switch as explicitly as possible—“kitchen without fridge”, “bathroom lights only”, “microwave” and so forth.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss the other five tips for surviving home ownership. Please contact us if you’d like more information or have questions.

Fifteen Fun and Weird Real Estate Facts That Will Surprise You

Being in real estate is a serious business; just one transaction could alter your client’s lives forever. While we’re working hard to assist our clients in selling their home and buying a new one, we’ve come across some fun real estate facts—some of them are even downright weird! But we’re not keeping these fun facts a secret. So take a break from looking for that perfect home and enjoy reading these facts.

The real estate value of the White House is nearly $110 million.

Prior to the days of central heat, a housewarming party wasn’t just an excuse to celebrate. It was actually a way to keep the house warm. As a gift to the new home dwellers, the neighbors would carry over firewood and help start a fire in the home’s fireplaces. This kept the home cozy and was thought to keep away any evil spirits.

In the U.S., there are five times more empty houses than homeless people.

In California, if a person has passed away within the past 3 years in a home you’re attempting to sell, it’s viewed as a material defect. This death needs to be revealed to your potential buyer unless the person died of AIDS; then you shouldn’t divulge the information because it’s considered discrimination.

If you’re selling your home in New York, it’s required legally that you report if you think your home is haunted.

When was the highest home equity since 2007? It was in the first quarter of 2014 at $10.8 trillion. That means the normal household’s net worth was firmly invested in home equity.

In Ohio you must have a hunting license to trap a mouse in your home.

The Chrysler Building’s architect was in a competition to see who could build the highest building in the world. As it was being built, the architect concealed a 125-foot long steeple inside. After the competitor’s building was erected, the steeple was driven up through the Chrysler Building which made it 119 feet higher.

In Pennsylvania there is a cleaning regulation that forbids a housewife to sweep and hide dirt or dust underneath a rug.

In order to build their new data server building in North Carolina, Apple paid an elderly couple $1.7 million for an acre of their land. Thirty-four years ago, that same couple bought that property for $6,000!

Sunday is really the best day to put your home on the market. Traditionally, you’ll have more buyers come through your door if you list your home on a Sunday in the spring or fall.

During 2009, there were fewer marriages than foreclosures in the U.S.

Red front doors mean more than “welcome” and a great curb appeal. In Scotland, a red door denotes that your home is paid for. In China, painting your front door red means abundance and good fortune. Lastly, in India, having a red door means a newlywed couple lives there.

Since 2005, homeless people in Utah have been receiving free homes. This cuts continued homelessness down by 74%.

This one is more fun than fact…. As you’re moving into your new home, leave the old broom in your old home. The broom holds dirt from your previous home—figuratively and literally speaking—so leaving it behind will hopefully earn you some good luck in the new house.

We hope you’ve appreciated this “lighter side” blog this week. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Negotiation Tips for Buying a Home

If you’re in the process of buying a home, you know how important the price is. The cost of a property is one of the main influences on whether or not you are able to buy it. Luckily, the listed price is far from the final price. In fact, you can lower the price considerably, by using a few negotiation tips.

Take your time

In almost every case, the party that has more time gets a better deal. Try not to be in a rush to close on the property. Make sure you don’t have any deadlines. If you do, the seller will use it against you. If you find out that the seller has their own deadline, don’t be afraid to take your time. As they become more eager to sell the property, the price will come down.

Always ask for something in return

Don’t make any concessions without asking for something in return. It doesn’t make sense to let a chance to gain more from the deal pass you by, and giving an opponent something for nothing can create a sense that they deserve free things from you. This definitely isn’t a position you want to be in.

Listen

Many people negotiate by talking about what they want as much as possible. In reality, this is the opposite of what you should do. Give the seller plenty of time to tell you what they want. Whenever you listen, you gain knowledge, and knowledge is the best tool you can have when it comes to negotiation.

Looking for more information about negotiation or buying a home? Contact us.

Home Selling Tips: 4 Steps to Decluttering with Kids

The number one recommendation that real estate experts offer when asked about home selling tips is simple: declutter. Getting rid of excess belongings will make your home appear larger and more inviting, which often translates to selling faster and for more money.

But if you’ve got kids in the house, decluttering often seems like a monumental task, if not an impossibility. Between toys, video games, clothes, shoes, papers, and art supplies, kid stuff seems to take over the house, and if you’ve got more than one child, the “stuff” seems to multiply exponentially.

But decluttering is essential and important, so follow these simple steps, and house hunters will hardly know that children live there.

  1. Go through everything and get rid of broken toys and outgrown clothes. Be prepared, because this is a big task, but well worth it in the end. You’re not going to want to take these things with you anyway, so why not do it now and reap the benefit? The several garbage bags full of stuff you’ll take out of the house will motivate you to keep going too.
  2. Pick out one weeks worth of clothing and put the rest in storage bins. Remember, it’s only temporary, and putting extra clothing away will free up closet and drawer space to hide other items.
  3. Put half (or more) of the toys that are left in storage containers. Take these and the ones with clothing and put them in a storage unit or ask to use some space in a nearby friend or family member’s garage. Things will be close by if the children get tired of wearing the same things or miss some of their other toys. You can easily swap them out for different ones.
  4. Invest in double-duty furnishings. When someone wants to see the house, you never want to say no. So if your house is a mess, you want to have places you an easily stash toys and clutter. Think about getting a coffee table with some sort of built in drawers or storage in it for the living room. A bench with a lift-up seat by the door can hold shoes, hats, and other things that get dropped by the entryway. And a toybox with a lid can make cleaning up bedrooms fast and easy. There’s a little bit of a financial investment for these items, but remember they will be going with you to your new home, and you can put them to good use there.

Decluttering with children in the house is definitely a challenge, but it is possible. If you’re trying to sell your house, it’s well worth the effort. For more tips on selling your home, contact us.

DIY Tips For New Homeowners: How to Keep Your Carpets Looking New For Years

Whether it’s unsightly marks from everyday foot traffic or an accidental spill, keeping the carpets clean in your new home can feel like a never-ending battle. Luckily, following a few DIY tips can turn what may feel like a losing battle into a winning one. Listed below are 4 must-do carpet cleaning tasks every new homeowner should follow.

Vacuum Often

Dirt and debris left on your carpeting for a prolonged amount of time doesn’t only cause your carpeting to appear dingy, but it also accelerates its aging process. As the dirt gets pushed further into your carpeting, its abrasive quality can slowly ruin the backing of your rug. Unfortunately, that will ultimately lead to a quickened aging rate. Vacuuming your carpets at least once a week can keep them looking fresh and new.

Cleaning Up Spills

How you clean a spill will determine whether or not it leaves a lasting mark. The sooner you begin to blot the area with a clean white cloth the better chance you have at completely eliminating the stain. Ignoring the spill, even for a short time, makes the clean up process much harder and less likely to work. Before applying a cleaning solution to your carpeting, be sure to test it on a small unseen area to safeguard against a discoloration mishap.

Get Rid of Snags

Small snags in your carpeting are inevitable, especially when you have pets. If you do spot an unsightly snag, remember never try to pull it up with your fingers, doing so will only aggravate the problem. Instead, grab a pair of scissors and cut the tiny tear at its base, which should stop it from worsening.

Deep Cleaning

Nothing will breathe life back into your carpeting like a good old deep cleaning. Whether you rent a carpet cleaner or hire a cleaning service, a thorough steam cleaning every six months will ensure your floors remain immaculate through the years.

If you’re a new homeowner and you’re looking for some fun and helpful DIY ideas, please feel free to contact us.

A Tiny Kitchen Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Headache: 5 DIY Tips to Open Up Your Small Space

do it yourself (diy) tips

After months of searching, you’ve found a house that is nearly perfect – awesome neighborhood, beautiful yard with lots of shade, big garage, cozy porch, spacious bedrooms, rustic fireplace… There is only one drawback, but it’s really nagging you-tiny kitchen. While the kitchen is usually very important to home buyers, you have no doubt that this is the house for you, tiny kitchen or not. A small kitchen doesn’t have to be the ugly stepchild of your beautiful home-check out these DIY tips to make the most of a small kitchen:

1. Rethink your cabinets.

Large cabinetry stretching up to the ceiling can make a small kitchen feel very crowded. Trade bulky upper cabinets for open shelving units where you can neatly stack dishes and store glassware. These open units will trick the eye into thinking there is more space in the room. Invest in a rolling kitchen island that can be tucked away in a corner when not in use-this provides you with storage space and work space when preparing meals. Pot racks and magnetic knife holders can also free up space in the room and reduce the need for large cabinets.

2. Use eye-catching material.

One of the good things about a small kitchen is that you don’t need a lot of material when you want to redesign. Small counters mean you can go all out on awesome material like striking marble or granite. Find unique, colorful glass tiles that match your counters and create an eye-catching backsplash. A small kitchen presents a great opportunity to create a stunning space that is more difficult (and expensive) with larger rooms.

3. Use glass.

Glass works in much the same way as open shelving in the kitchen-glass creates an appearance of more space, and mirrors reflect space to make rooms feel larger. Go for a glass-topped table or install mirrors in the backs of your open shelving units.

4. Light it up.

To make a small kitchen feel cozy, ditch harsh lighting. Create charming ambiance with the right combination of lights. Install lighting under the cabinets that shine down onto the counters and provide helpful work lighting while also creating a pleasant atmosphere. Recessed lighting in the ceiling creates an adequate amount of light in the room without taking up space, and stylish pendant lights over the table are useful for meal time.

5. Focus on the floor.

Look at your kitchen floor like a blank canvas. This is another area where small works in your favor – the minimal amount of square footage means you can be a bit more extravagant. Checkerboard tiles (especially in black and white) can expand the feel of the entire room.

Small kitchens may seem like a challenging obstacle, but they can be just as functional and beautiful as a large kitchen. Smaller space means you can go with bolder decoration that would seem overwhelming in a large kitchen, and with the right set-up and lighting, a small kitchen is very cozy. Please feel free to contact us for more information on opening up your small space.

Get Your Credit Back On Track So You Can Buy A Home

The holidays are over and the credit card bills have been rolling in. Now is the time to get your credit back on track so you can prepare to buy a home.

Is Credit Score Important?

Yes! Your credit score and credit report will be viewed by the lender before you are able to obtain a mortgage. If your credit score is very poor the lender will decide you are too risky and you will not be able to get a mortgage. With a moderate credit score you will be offered a mortgage but the terms will not be ideal. Therefore maintaining a good credit score puts you in the best position to get good mortgage rates.

Steps to Take

If your credit score has been impacted by your holiday spending you can take steps to make improvements. Consider the following:

  • First, check your credit report. If you don’t know your credit score or it doesn’t seem like it reflects what you expect, you should check the report. Many financial institutions suggest that the report should be checked once a year. Look for errors or identity theft. Contact the National Credit Reporting Bureau if you find issues.
  • The credit card company provides you a credit limit. It is not wise to spend to this limit however. Instead keep your purchases well under the limit so you do not appear to be a heavy user of credit.
  • Make payments on time! Your credit score is lowered when the payments are delinquent.
  • Pay as much as you can. Ideally you would pay off your card each month. If that is not possible pay as much as possible to reduce your balance.

Lenders study your credit score and credit report to verify that you will be able to pay your mortgage on time each month. They use the report to determine your credit history and if you are worthy of a loan. Taking your credit score seriously is important.  Contact us to learn more about being a first time home buyer.

Moving to CT? Top 10 Reasons Why That’s a Great Idea!

So you’re moving to CT?  Moving isn’t always an easy choice, but joining the ranks of Connecticuters is a move you won’t regret.

Here are the top 10 reasons you will love living in CT.

10. Even the dinosaurs preferred Connecticut. A visit to Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a visit to one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Travel back 200 million years to the time of the dinosaur!

9. Not quite as old as the dinosaurs, Connecticut is also home to the country’s oldest continually operating amusement park. Opened in 1846, Lake Compounce is now home to the world’s top rated wooden roller coaster, Boulder Dash, as well as Crocodile Cove Water Park.

8. With 618 miles of shoreline, Connecticut proudly serves up some of the nation’s best seafood.

7. Not in the mood for seafood? New York and Chicago have nothing on New Haven style “apizza”. With a very thin crust, baked in a coal-fired oven, this pizza is not to be missed.

6. It’s not all about the food, but even our nation’s iconic hamburger has roots in New Haven. In 1900, a man entered the restaurant Louis’ Lunch. in need of something more portable to eat. What he received is considered to be the ancestor of the great American burger known today.

5. With all the great dining options, you’re sure to need something to wash it all down. Connecticut also boasts a booming microbrew community. Popular options such as Half-Full Brewery, City Steam Brewery and Rheingold Brewing Company are just a few of the choices.

4. UConn’s Huskies are a college basketball team to be proud of. The Huskies have a strong history in both men’s and women’s basketball, so it’s no surprise that the residents of CT are a very loyal fan base.

3. Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and The Sea, located in Mystic, CT, is the largest maritime museum in the world. Offering visitors a link to the seafaring past, Mystic Seaport is a hands-on historical experience with something for everyone.

2. As the 2nd school to join the Ivy League, Yale University in New Haven is an incredible school. Ivy covered buildings and neo-gothic architecture also make it a beautiful place to visit.

1. Originally settled in 1614, it’s no surprise that Connecticut has a rich and vibrant history. The first medical diploma in the US was given by Yale University. New London, Connecticut launched the first nuclear submarine. The first revolver was produced in CT, and the first public art museum was opened in CT. There are many more “firsts” that took place in Connecticut, so now that you are moving, you’ll have to find out more for yourself.

To experience first hand what an incredible state Connecticut is, contact us to find the prefect place to call home.

Home Selling Tips: Finance Your Own Property

We recently talked about how buyers can benefit from using seller-based financing. The truth is, it’s often a very smart move for sellers as well. Here are a few reasons that you should seller finance your property.

More money

Arguably, the best part of seller financing for the seller is the extra money. If you choose to send the buyer to a bank for a mortgage, you’ll get the price of the property right away. On the other hand, if you allow them to finance through you, the price will be paid to you over the course of the loan, but it will come with interest, which is often worth almost as much as the loan itself. This means that, even if your property is only worth $60,000, you may be able to get $100,000 out of if, if you’re willing to wait for it.

Flexibility

Seller financing makes the entire process more flexible for both the buyer and the seller. If you finance your own property, you can ask for just about whatever you want. This gives you a lot of extra power in negotiations. You control all aspects of the loan, and can use that to your advantage.

Options

Once you’ve agreed to finance the property yourself, you still have other options available to you. Even years later, you could still sell the loan to an investor. For example, if you were to decide a year after the sale that you needed the cash, you’d probably still be able to sell the note for more than the house was worth.

Looking for more information about seller financing or anything else related to real estate? Contact us.

Home Buying Tips: Why You Should Consider Seller Financing

If you’re buying a home in the near future, you’re probably trying to figure out how to finance it. You could take out a loan with a bank of course, but that tends to be expensive and not very flexible. You could try to pay in cash, but that only works if you have the money, which isn’t very likely. There is an alternative that you may not have thought of. It’s actually possible to finance your new property directly through the person selling it. Here are some benefits of seller financing for your next property.

Flexibility

This is by far the biggest benefit of seller financing for the buyer. Banks are very rigid in their expectations, but when you finance through the seller, the opposite is true. For example, maybe you don’t have enough for a down payment. You may be able to convince the seller to accept something of value, such as a car, instead. If you’re in a strong negotiating position, you may even be able to avoid the down payment all together. Perhaps in the middle of the loan, you find that you can’t afford a payment. A bank would send you angry letters, charge you fees, and eventually foreclose. A seller, however, could simply allow you to skip a payment, perhaps in exchange for a little extra the next month.

Negotiation

Seller financing can also help negotiation because it adds several new elements. More things that can be negotiated means more chances for both sides to be happy.

Interested in learning more about how seller financing might be the right choice for you? Contact us. We can help you with that, or anything else that you need.

Home Buying Tips: Close at the End of the Month

Buying a home could easily be the most expensive purchase you make in your life. And even after you’ve obtained the loan and budgeted for all possible costs, a lot of little expenses seem to appear out of nowhere. It would be useful to have a bit of cash on hand for such surprises. If you want to preserve your short-term cash flow, the best time to close would be on the last day of the month.

When you buy a home, you have to pay accrued mortgage interest from the time that you close until the end of the month. For example, if your mortgage runs $250,000 and your rate is 3.75 percent, you’d pay about $376 per month, or $12.53 per day, in interest.

  • If you closed on the first day of the month, you’d owe $376 in interest because you’re paying interest for every day of the month.
  • If you closed on the last day, you’d owe $12.53 in interest because you’re paying only for the last day. You’d save $363.47.

In the long run, all the interest payments balance out to the same total by the loan’s end. So don’t let these savings be the sole reason you close on a particular day. However, the extra cash could come in handy for paying deposits to utility companies, paying off movers or cleaners, or stocking the pantry. You could even add that extra pieces of furniture to the entry that you’ve always wanted.

If you want more home buying tips, or need help in looking for a place to own, please contact us.

DIY: Warm Your Home Up This Winter

do it yourself (diy) tips

Moving into a new home during the winter can be difficult. Maybe you are moving to Connecticut from somewhere much warmer, and this is your first New England winter. Or maybe you are already an experienced New Englander, but struggling to make your new home warm and inviting for the winter. Here are a few do it yourself tips to help you create a cozy place to share with your loved ones this winter:

1. Reading nook.

There is something warm and inviting about tiny spaces brimming with light and a comfortable seat to cozy up with a good book. Create a spot where you can curl up with a good read while the snow is flurrying by outside your windows. A corner by the fireplace, a niche under the stairs, or a bright window seat are all fabulous choices for a winter reading nook. A cozy reading nook will keep you from wasting the winter away on the couch in front of the TV!

2. Family game spot.

Another alternative to binge-watching ten seasons of your favorite TV show over the winter is a lot of family game time. Even the most reluctant kids are sure to have fun engaging in a family game if you make a great spot dedicated to this purpose. Get all those board games out of the dusty depths of whatever closet they are in and bring them out into the light. Store these games and other project materials in open shelving in a common area of the house, and add a small table where everyone can sit and enjoy some family fun.

3. Brighten up.

Nothing warms a home better than light. It has to be the right kind of light, of course-no harsh fluorescent bulbs that make your home feel like a supermarket. Keep plenty of floor and table lamps handy, and add three-way bulbs to control the amount of light. Dimmers come in handy for recessed lighting, and white twinkle lights are a great addition all winter (not just during Christmas!). Adding white twinkle lights to bedrooms around windows or behind sheer white curtains gives the room a soft, magical glow.

4. Warmth of the fire.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your new home (which are fairly common in CT), light it up. Take advantage of this beautiful spot to build your own warm, roaring fire on a cold winter day. Decorate your fireplace mantle with your favorite photos and mementos, and relax while you enjoy the warmth and crackle of the fire. If your fireplace is located in a large open area, bring a candle-lit table in for a special winter dinner.

5. Pile on the blankets (and rugs!).

Cover the backs of chairs and sofas with soft, snug blankets – they warm up the decor in the room plus they come in handy when you need to warm up yourself. Cover cold tile and wood floors with area rugs-your feet will thank you, and your home will feel much cozier.

Please feel free to contact us for more ways to warm up your new home this winter!

Holiday Home Helper: 12 DIY tips for a fresh New Year

Nothing inspires a week long cleaning marathon quite like the impending threat of holiday houseguests. Everything from polishing the silver to vacuuming the curtains to dusting the light fixtures is on the to-do list, along with groceries, homework and an ever-expanding mound of laundry. The last thing we want to think about is costly, time-consuming home renovations. But what about not-so-costly, quick and easy living improvements that give your home a new look and great feel?

Give your home a holiday boost with these DIY tips and home improvements.

Replace old light fixtures with unique new chandeliers. It will brighten up your living space and make it feel more personal and complete.

New hardware is an inexpensive and easy upgrade for kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. Don’t forget the towel hangers and hooks!

Decorative window film adds a soft elegance to dining room windows in addition to subtle privacy.

Mount a row of hooks over your kitchen counter or inside cabinet doors to store hand towels, cooking utensils and other regularly used items out of eyesight but within easy reach.

Install new house numbers outside your front door, fence, or curb by the road to make you easier to find.

Hang a shelf above a doorway. Paint a shelf and two brackets the same color as your trim, then attach at the studs flanking the door. Use it to display decorative dishes, knickknacks or travel souvenirs.

Fix battery powered LED lighting to the underside of your kitchen cabinets to instantly illuminate your counter space.

Doorways aren’t the only place for shelves. Empty walls and cubbyholes will benefit from a slab or two, adding storage and making the blank space more visually pleasing.

Add finials to your staircase for a more elegant and finished look.

Repaint your front door a fresh, lively color to create an upbeat entry way.

Old and outdated backsplash can be given new life with a fresh coat of paint too. Just scuff up the tiles with a bit of medium grain sand paper and roll on one to two coats of paint.

Replace your old, worn out light switch and outlet covers with clean new ones. These can also be painted for a unique and more personal look.

Just a few of these small upgrades will make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day life, and add to the ease and joy of living and working inside your home.

Wishing you a cozy holiday season!

Don’t forget to contact us with questions or comments!

Connecticut Town Info: Things to Do for Fun

Moving to Middleton and looking for some Connecticut town info on things to do for fun? You’ve come to the right place! This post will sum up some of your best options for having fun either in or around Middleton.

Visit Wadsworth Falls State Park

Have an affinity for the great outdoors? Visit Wadsworth Falls State Park. Lots of hiking and swimming opportunities are made available in the park. Also, the waterfalls create quite the ambiance for rest and relaxation once you’re sitting back and simply enjoying the view.

Tour Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Center

Have a few hours to spare? Enjoy fun and quirky things? Tour Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Center. It’s the place to go to when you’re in the mood for feeling nostalgic about the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s.

Solve a Challenge at Adventure Rooms Connecticut

Like solving challenging puzzles? Make reservations to go to Adventure Rooms Connecticut. It’s a unique and interesting way to spend an hour with a group of friends or a romantic date.

Have a Blast at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park

When the weather’s nice again, be sure to spend some time at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park. There are zip lines there that will take you right into the water below. Also, there are water slides and kayaks for you to enjoy once the weather warms up again.

Kidcity Children’s Museum

If you have a child that you adore in your life, then you’ll want to make a trip to Kidcity Children’s Museum. The place is filled with fun activities for toddlers and kids.

Contact us to learn more about living in Connecticut.

BRRR… It’s Cold Out There! Sell Your Home Before Winter

Ah, winter… Snow, sleet, and slush is on its way and this is when you’ve decided to sell your home! Well, not all is lost. It might be a little more difficult to sell your home before winter, but it isn’t impossible.

When flowers aren’t blooming, and the lawn is withered and brown, your house loses some of the curb appeal that draws in buyers. You’ll need to replace that curb appeal with something, so this is the time to get creative. Pinterest offers boards with lots of inspirational photos of homes with great winter curb appeal. At the very least, hang a welcoming winter wreath on your door and put out a nice, new welcome mat for visitors to wipe their feet.

Once potential buyers are inside, greet them with the warm, homey scent of something yummy baking. You can achieve this without the baking mess (or the calories!) by using a great scented candle in a candle warmer. Scatter appropriately scented candles throughout your home for a subtle ‘welcome home’ to every area. How about the scents of freshly fallen rain in the bathroom or fluffy, warm towels in the laundry?

Invest in whatever you need to keep things organized and neat around your house. This is particularly important around the entryways. If potential buyers see a mess of muddy boots, slushy puddles, and tangles of mittens and scarves, they’re going to assume your home lacks storage. Instead, greet them with large, pretty baskets and a boot tray with all the mess tucked neatly away.

Finally, understand that you’ll be better off getting your home sold before the depths of winter. That might mean accepting a lower offer than you wanted, paying closing costs, or agreeing to make repairs. The alternative is keeping your home in showable condition in the face of slush, mud, holidays, winter break, housebound pets… 

Let us help you sell your home before the depths of winter; contact us now to find out how.

DIY Tips: Eight Clever Bathroom Remodeling Ideas When You Are on a Budget and Want to Sell Your Home (Part II)

“We need to have our bathroom remodeled so we can put this house on the market,” you say to your significant other. But a bathroom remodel doesn’t come cheap when you’re on a budget; the cost ranges between $10,000 and $15,000—and that’s just an ordinary renovation. That’s money you don’t currently have, but it’s okay. Last week we checked out the first four of the eight DIY tips for updating your bathroom when you’re on a budget. Now, let’s look over the last fabulous four ideas.

Use Less Tile

Let’s face it, tile is really expensive—particularly if you employ a contractor to put it in for you. To save the green stuff, use tile sparingly. Apply a horizontal strip of tile on one wall and paint the other walls. You could also only install tile on your floor which is a high-impact area.

But if you have to have that expensive, artistic tile you’ve had your eye on for months, then just purchase a few of them and use them as an accent piece beside less expensive tile. You’ll save plenty of money and the artistic tile will really pop.

Paint to Your Heart’s Content

You don’t have a pile of money to spend? That’s okay, painting is a terrific way to give your bathroom a fresh look and it’s the least expensive. Buy a satin finish, top-quality paint because a bathroom can become humid and mildew and mold like to grow there. Applying a special bathroom ceiling paint is a good investment as it aids in resisting mold growth.

Keep in mind, though, that this won’t be a quick paint job—even if your bathroom is the smallest room in your home. You’re going to need a healthy supply of painter’s tape and patience as you paint gently and slowly around the tub or shower, mirror, switch plates, floor, window, sink, toilet and wall corners.

Renew Grout and Caulk

This is a great—and often neglected—way to update your bathroom at a low cost. When grout and caulk gets dirty, it looks disgusting. For just a few bucks you can make your bathroom glisten by applying clean, straight lines of caulk around your sink and tub and washing the grout

Upgrade to “Green”

When creating an up-to-date bathroom, remember the environment. By purchasing repurposing materials you can look for good ideas. A brilliant idea is to make soap dispensers out of mason canning jars.

Low-flow shower heads, toilets and sinks will save money in addition to saving water. Additionally, traditional faucets and shower heads are priced less than or the same as water-saving ones.

Would you like another awesome idea? Search for three antique, cool-looking tin cans. Grab an old, 2-foot plank and drill the tin cans beside one another into the plank. Next, drill the plank into the bathroom wall. Now you’ve got really neat storage for your bathroom amenities such as toothpaste, Q-tips, toothbrushes and combs and brushes. Likewise, you can utilize old barn wood for shelves.

Whenever you use something old, you’ll decrease your consumption and will most likely save money. But remember to give back; donate any items that you remove from your bathroom to Habitat for Humanity ReStore or your neighborhood Goodwill store.

In addition to these wonderful ideas, there’s more good news! When you want to sell your home, the bathroom upgrade will add value. You could receive a good amount of money that you put into the remodel.

So, you see, you don’t need to take out a second loan on your house just to pay for a bathroom upgrade. These eight fantastic ideas will spruce up your bath and make it look like you went all out with renovations. Please contact us when you’re ready to sell your home.

DIY Tips: Eight Clever Bathroom Remodeling Ideas When You Are on a Budget and Want to Sell Your Home (Part I)

You know your bathroom is in desperate need of a makeover before you can even attempt to sell your home. However, the average cost of a renovation is between $10,000 and $15,000; yet if you want an upscale bath, you’re talking about $20,000 to $25,000. Sadly, you know that throwing down even $10,000 to create an ideal bathroom is nothing but a fantasy right now. But don’t despair, you won’t need to win the lottery to make that bathroom remodel wish come true; there’s lots of ways to redesign your bathroom into a cool, comfy space. In fact, if you do the job yourself or have willing friends that have remodeled their house, you can just spend about $3,000 or even less than $1,000. It all depends on how much remodeling you want to do and how much you can safely afford to spend.

Let’s explore the first four of eight DIY tips that you can do to remodel your bathroom when you’re on a budget.

Save Money on Countertops

Granite countertops have been all the rage for a few years and are a pretty low investment for a bathroom. But how in the world can you be frugal when buying granite? There are slabs of granite that contain imperfections. The slabs that have the most imperfections will be the least pricey. Don’t forget that your sink—or sinks for a master bathroom—will be taking up much of the space; the imperfection may end up being near the faucet or sink which means you might not be able to see it anyway. Survey a wide range of color strips for your countertops. The neutral colors such as light beige, tan and brown are favored making them steeply priced.

Another easy way to save on your countertops is to create “dresser sinks” by utilizing an old dresser as a sink pedestal. To make one you just have to cut into the back of the dresser for the sink pipes; for the sink, you’ll need to cut out a hole in the top of the dresser, removing an inside drawer or two as needed. In retail stores, these same “dresser sinks” go for thousands of dollars. But with the correct tools, a bit of patience and an old dresser, you can design your own.

Modernize Your Fixtures

Never overlook the little things. Items such as sink faucets, drawer pulls, light fixtures and towel racks might seem meaningless, yet they can create a whole new look for your bathroom. The best news is that these things aren’t very expensive to upgrade.

Think of unique ways to obtain your fixtures rather than going to IKEA or an expensive home improvement store. If you want an industrial look to your bathroom, consider using old plumbing for towel racks. They won’t cost a penny if you’re lucky enough to grab some old plumbing out of an old home that’s about to be demolished.

Don’t Purchase New—Do a Makeover

It would cost you an arm and a leg to have your old shower or tub replaced; so a cheaper way to go is have a professional refinish it for you. Don’t do this for shower and sink fixtures, however, since it’s cheaper to just replace them. Why is it more expensive to refinish shower and sink fixtures? Contractors who offer this type of service do so at a high price because the few people that do use the service have antique fixtures.

But there’s good news! If you’d rather not part with your old-fashioned tub or fixtures that are made from fiberglass, porcelain or cast iron, you could do the refinishing yourself. It will require a small investment and lots of time. A simple do-it-yourself refinishing kit costs about $100 to $150; don’t forget that you’ll need other things as well: a high-volume/low pressure spray gun, plastic tarps, paint brushes, a fan, masking tape, a top-quality sander, safety goggles, gloves and face masks. There are plenty of bathroom refinishing instructional videos on the internet for you to view.

Acquire Used Products

To save more of your money, consider purchasing used items like sinks or fixtures by exploring Etsy. Attempt to search with words such as “upcycled” or “bathroom”. The possibilities are endless as to what you could find there to accessorize your bathroom. For example, you may find metal shelving in the shape of a check mark which would be neat for storing folded towels. You might also discover an artist that uses old, colorful Tupperware as lamps—what a fun way to brighten a bathroom!

Other terrific place to get items for your bathroom are by perusing Craigslist or eBay as well as your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore which sells necessary home items like mirrors, doors, sinks and much more.

So what do you think? They’re pretty cool ideas so far, right? Please join us in next week’s blog to examine the last four bathroom remodeling ideas. In the meantime, please contact us if you want more information.

Curb Appeal: Crucial for Home Selling

The first impression may be the only impression a prospective buyer has. If they don’t like the way your home looks from the outside or immediately upon entering, they may cross it off the list of possibilities. Therefore curb appeal is crucial. In the fall and winter it can be more difficult to provide an appealing exterior. Consider the following home selling tips to improve curb appeal during these seasons.

Maintenance

Continue to maintain the lawn even in the fall and winter. Keep the grass cut, clear the leaves, and sweep the walkways. Remove the dying summer flowers and replenish mulch to make gardens look like they are ready to be planted in the spring. If it snows be sure to clear the snow from your driveway and all walkways.

Decorations

While it is OK to decorate for the upcoming holidays remember less is more. Choose a few items but don’t over do it. You want the prospective buyer to envision a home they could live in. If they aren’t excited about inflatable turkeys they may be turned off to your house based on the 3 you have in your front yard. It is best to use outdoor decorations that are inspired by nature as opposed to those that are commercial in appearance. Potted mums are a simple choice that will add color without being overwhelming.

Lighting

The daylight hours are shorter. It is important your home is well-lit so prospective buyers can find it. A well-lit home will also be more appealing. While you are inspecting the lighting outside your home also verify that your house number can be clearly seen from the road.

Taking the above steps will make your home more appealing in the fall and winter months. For additional home selling tips please contact us.

Listing information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2013.
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