Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December Home Maintenance

Happy holidays! While enjoying this festive season with family and friends, double-check December's tips for a warm and cozy home environment:
-Monitor ice build-up in gutters and drain spouts.
-Inspect all interior plugs and switches for safety.
-Check and maintain fire extinguisher.
-Examine wood burning flues for blockage and clean if necessary.
-Grind ice cubes in garbage disposal to sharpen blades.
-Check attic for leaks and condensation.
-Store firewood at least 30 feet away from the house.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Throw a Memorable and Safe Holiday Party

Throwing a holiday party is a great way to celebrate the season with friends and family. From great food and drinks to decorations and songs, here is everything you need to know to have a memorable and safe holiday gathering.

Decorations can set the mood for your party. Whether you are looking for a formal feel with dark burgundies or hunter greens, or a relaxed environment with bright reds and greens, partygoers are sure to remember a well decorated party. Candles and white lights can also set a winter mood. Keep in mind, though, that the open flame of a candle can be unsafe around small children. Place candles in safe environments away from any decorations as to avoid catching on fire.

Food is also a key to any good holiday party. A major complaint of party hosts is spending too much time in the kitchen. Avoid this by preparing foods that can be served at room temperature. This also invites people to eat when they are ready instead of serving food at one time.

Holiday parties are not complete without festive drinks. Remember though, if serving alcohol at your party, do it responsibly. Stop serving alcoholic beverages at least one hour before the party ends to ensure safe travels. A good way to limit the consumption of alcohol is to have premixed drinks such as punch, this way you can control the amount of alcohol in each drink. Be sure to also provide an array of non-alcoholic drinks for guests who prefer not drink.

Keep these few tips in mind when planning your next holiday party. Just remember, the most important part of any party is to enjoy the festive time with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Common Real Estate Terms

Adjustable rate mortgage: An ARM is a mortgage rate that changes over time as the interest rate changes.

Escrow: A third party wills act as a stakeholder for both buyer and seller according to both parties' instructions. The third party will hold responsibility for handling all paperwork and distribution of funds.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage: Often made for 15 or 30 years, this type of mortgage is based on payments that stay them same throughout the entire term of the loan.

Inspection: A third-party report on the property's overall condition prior to a sale. A buyer may attend the inspection, and demand repairs for any problems reported.

LTV: A loan to value ratio is a figure that tells the lender what percentage of the purchase price the loan will be.

PITI: Stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance. This is an owner's typical monthly payment.

Point: An amount that is equal to 1 percent of the principal amount of the investment or loan You can either pay points to get your lender to offer you a lower interest rate, or you can refuse to pay and keep the initial interest rate

Purchase Contract: A document wherein the homebuyer will set the price and conditions under which he or she will buy the property and the seller agrees. This is also called a sales contract or agreement for sale.

Title Insurance: Guarantees a return if your investment if a title problem arises after you've taken possession. There are two types of title insurance: 1) Fee title policy — insures owner's title. 2) Mortgage title policy insures the lender for the mortgaged amount. These policies will fluctuate depending on the mortgage amount.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cut Down on Winter Bills

If you're like most homeowners, you probably dread opening your energy bills during winter months. But there are ways to prevent energy loss and keep your home well-heated. Follow these tips and watch the cost of your energy bills drop this winter.
Set Your ThermostatIn the winter, your thermostat really only needs to be set at about 62°F. If you feel a little chilled, put on a cozy sweater or some fleece-lined pants. And nothing beats a warm cup of hot chocolate to keep you toasty.

Plug Up Leaks To find out if you're losing heat through windows and doors, conduct a candle test. Place a lit candle by the edges of your windows and doors and if the flame flickers — or even worse, goes out completely — you've got a heat-loss problem! To plug up these leaks, apply new caulking to windows or install storm doors to keep cold air out. Also, never heat your home through your fireplace. The flute of the fireplace is one of the biggest sources of heat loss in your home.

Remember Energy Efficiency Consider installing energy-efficient Energy Star® appliances as well as compact fluorescent light bulbs. Not only will these appliances last longer than regular models, but they also use far less energy, shaving valuable dollars off your energy bill each month.

Adjust Your Water Heater Many manufacturers set the thermostats at 140°F, but 120°F is usually hot enough for all your hot water needs. If your water gets so hot that you have to mix it with cold water to use it, you're wasting money.

Get Time-of-Use Meters If you don't already know about time-of-use meters, you might be interested in checking them out. It's kind of like calling during peak hours to save on your cell phone bill. Energy used during certain peak periods would cost more, while energy used outside of those periods would cost less. So if you wait until 9 p.m. to do laundry or run your dishwasher, you'll save money! Check with your electric provider to see if they offer time-of-use meters and what their set peak hours are.

Keep in mind these tips and those scary winter energy bills won't be so shocking this season.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winterizing Your Home

With the winter months upon us, it's important that your home be ready for the cooler weather, both inside and out. A well prepared home will not only be warmer, but also save you money on your monthly energy bills. Remember to take time out to prepare your home. Follow these simple tips and ideas and you will be on your way to having a winter-ready home.

Windows. A lot of warm air can escape through small cracks in your home's windows. A good way to prevent this is to inspect both the inside and outside of each window. If you find a problem, it can easily be repaired with caulk. If your windows are still letting cool air in after you have caulked the outside, try putting an insulating film on the inside of problem windows. Kits can be purchased at your local hardware store and can be installed in minutes.

Furnace. Now is also the best time of year to have your furnace inspected. This will ensure your unit is in proper working order. Also remember to change your furnace filter monthly during the winter season. A clean filter will allow your furnace to work better and improve the air condition of your home.

Ceiling Fans. If your home has ceiling fans, reversing the direction in which your fan operates can push warm air downward and force it to re-circulate. A good tip to tell when your fan is in proper winter mode is if you stand under the fan and cannot feel any air coming down on you.

Snow Equipment. Before the heavy winter sets in, check your snow equipment, such as snow blowers and shovels. Make sure they are in proper working order; if not; consider replacing them or having them serviced. It's also a good idea to stock up on ice melt or driveway salt. You can never be too prepared for snow and ice.

Follow these simple steps before the season sets in and you will enjoy a relaxing and warm winter season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Selling Your Home During the Holiday Season

The holidays are here, and the only gift you want is a "sold" sign in your front yard. In past years, it's been difficult to sell a home during the winter months. It's an extremely busy time of year, any an expensive one at that. However, selling your home during the holiday season doesn't have to be hard.
If you're determined to sell your home this holiday season, consider these tips.

Create curb appeal. Clear your driveway, walkways and stairs of snow and ice. Spruce up the front door with a wreath and a holiday welcome mat. Decorate the outside of the house with a few holiday lights. You can also put candles in your windows. However, remember to decorate tastefully; a little goes a long way when it comes to decorating.

Appear welcoming. Turn on the porch or garage light in the evening, as if you're expecting guests. Keep the house warm and toasty. It will be much appreciated by visitors during these cold months. Light your fireplace (if you have one) to create a cozy feeling. Want a more friendly touch? Bake cookies! Your home will smell delicious, and you'll have wonderful treats on hand. Not into baking? Put a drop of vanilla extract on a cookie sheet and place in the oven a few minutes before guests arrive; it will have the same effect as baking.

Don't go overboard. Decorate the interior with a few holiday trinkets, but be careful not to overwhelm potential buyers. They need to see beyond these decorations that will only stay up one month of the year. Buyers will appreciate your holiday spirit, but are also interested in the look of your home as it will appear year round.

Keep in close contact with me, your real estate agent. You don't want to have a showing in the middle of entertaining friends and family. Make sure that I'm aware of your schedule and alert me as soon as possible if something comes up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Best Mortgage Moves in a Slowing Housing Market

(ARA) - Given the recent changes in the mortgage and housing markets, many current and potential homeowners are asking themselves the question of what to do next in regards to their home financing situation. Whether you are looking to purchase your first home or are already a homeowner and want to maximize your investment, there are a number of home financing options to consider.

GMAC Mortgage ( offers the following tips to help you make your next mortgage move.

First-Time Homebuyers
The biggest concerns for first-time homebuyers right now are fluctuating interest rates and home values. However, buying a home with a fixed-rate loan now will ensure that future rises in interest rates will not impact your monthly payment. In addition, because of current market conditions, many first-time homebuyers have a large inventory of homes from which to choose. Prices in many markets have stabilized or moved off their highs over the past year as demand has softened, so your dollars could go much farther than they have in the past.

If you decide to move forward with the search for your first home, consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Becoming pre-approved will give you a much better idea of your buying power as well as reassure home sellers that you are a serious buyer.

Existing Homeowners
If you are a homeowner with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), hybrid ARM, or interest-only mortgage, now is a good time to consider refinancing into a fixed-rate loan. Even if the overall interest rate rises, there is a good chance that a fixed-rate mortgage payment will be lower than what you may pay if your adjustable rate loan adjusts soon.

Homeowners currently repaying variable-rate home equity lines of credit also should review their options. Refinancing to a fixed-rate home equity loan could be advantageous, but you should first check with your lender.

Buydowns Another option, whether you are considering refinancing your current mortgage or exploring your first mortgage, is to elect to buy down the interest rate. With a “buydown,” a borrower or seller pays part of the interest upfront, lowering the borrower’s monthly rate for a set period of time.

With the proper research and the assistance of a qualified mortgage professional, securing the right mortgage product can put you in a more advantageous situation to help you meet your homeownership goals.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Monday, November 19, 2007

Consumers Be Aware -- Credit Freeze a Step in the Right Direction, But Will Not Eliminate Identity Theft

(ARA) – Two of the three major credit bureaus are now allowing consumers in all 50 states to “freeze” their credit histories. The companies say the move gives consumers another option to safeguard their credit against identity thieves. But is it enough?

“It’s a good step, but it’s not the be all, end all solution,” says Justin Yurek, president of ID Watchdog, an identity theft monitoring service.

Placing a freeze on your credit report locks the data until you give permission to release the data by unlocking your report. But, says Yurek, “Every time you do this it costs money and if you want a credit card or access to credit, you have to unlock it.”

More important, Yurek says, is the fact that 70 percent of identity theft crimes have nothing to do with credit reports. “A thief could steal your wallet with your driver’s license in it and commit a crime, open a P.O. Box, get a cell phone, put utilities in your name. That has nothing to do with credit.”

According to the United States Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country. It cost businesses and consumers more than $56 billion in 2005 and most people do not discover their information has been stolen until 12 months after a thief first uses it. Worse, fewer than one in 700 identity theft crimes lead to a conviction.

“We need to understand that prevention isn’t a feasible concept now,” says Yurek. “If a thief wants your identity, they’ll get it. No matter how careful you are they could hack into a database, they could physically steal a laptop, there is no guarantee.” Since, as Yurek says, there is no foolproof way to guarantee your identity won’t be stolen, stay alert for signs that someone may be using your identity.

* If you fail to receive bills or other mail on time or as expected, call the sender directly. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed the mailing address. * You begin receiving credit cards you did not apply for.

* You have been denied credit or are receiving less favorable credit terms -- a higher interest rate or lower credit limit than you’ve received in the past.

* You begin receiving calls from debt collection agencies or businesses regarding merchandise you did not purchase.

FTC statistics show that once a consumer becomes a victim of identity theft, the average time spent repairing the problem is between 400 and 600 hours.

“In the year 2000 there were 100,000 victims of identity theft,” says Yurek. “In 2006, there were 10 million identity theft victims. The crime is still growing and with companies like ID Watchdog there is a new approach to identity theft monitoring and prevention.”

Services such as ID Watchdog scrutinize customer information and guarantee that if thieves slip something past, the company will fix any problems the customer experiences and help them regain and retain their identity.

“ID Watchdog doesn’t just look at reports from three credit bureaus, we monitor thousands of databases because only 30 percent of identity theft victims get hit in ways that show up on credit reports,” Yurek says. The service also educates consumers about how their personal information -- name, date of birth, Social Security number, phone number and address -- show up in databases all over the world, information most consumers just don’t have access to.

Further information on identity theft can be obtained from the FTC online at and a free trial of the ID Watchdog service is available at or by calling (866) 416-0783.

Courtesy ARAcontent

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Disclosing Disclosures

You know you're legally obligated to disclosure, but what exactly are you supposed to disclose? Most states require disclosure of any "material facts," that is, anything that may impact the buyer's decision or price offer, even if these material facts are not apparent. Some examples of material facts include square footage of home, age of property components and systems, leaky roof or flooding basement, asbestos problems in insulation and information about developments that might impact the property such as planned roadways, etc.Disclosure laws vary from state to state. In some cases, you may be legally bound to disclose information about violent crimes that may have occurred on the property, seismic activity reports and the notification to buyers about the availability of a list of registered sex offenders. Check with me, your attorney or city planning department for disclosure requirements specific to your area. You don't want to leave anything out.

If you're questioning whether to disclose something, it's safest just to do so. A buyer who proves you knowingly withheld from them material facts about your property can claim damages suffered or demand price concessions. As your Realtor, I will always be available to help you with any questions about what to disclose.

After you've spoken with me and have created a list of disclosures, it's a good idea to put everything down in writing. Most states require the use of special disclosure forms. After reviewing the form or list, the buyer should acknowledge receipt of the disclosures by signing and dating at the bottom.

The most important thing to remember when disclosing material facts is that anything questionable will more than likely be questioned. Think about what you would want to know about your new home, and use that as a guide for what to disclose to your potential buyers about your home. When in doubt, disclose anyway; it will save you costly legal issues in the future.

Monday, November 05, 2007

7 Tips for Prepping the Pool for Winter

If you have a house in a cold climate that has a swimming pool, then make sure you get it ready for winter. Anywhere the temperatures dip near or below 32 degrees, pools and spas should be winterized by cleaning and treating the water and protecting the equipment from freezing, according to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals.

Here are some tips:

1. Clean the water.

Vacuum the water thoroughly making sure the waste-water is going to the appropriate place. Set the filter on the waste position, or set the vacuum to filter only.

2. Test the water.

Either balance normally or treat with the proper amount of special winterizing chemicals.

3. Reduce the water levels.

Most types of pools require low-water levels for winter. But don’t go too low. Hydrostatic pressure can destroy a drained concrete pool. If you are in doubt, leave the pool full.

4. Protect the pipes.

Drain and blow water out of all pipes and fill them with antifreeze. That includes the skimmer and main drain lines, return lines, and lines to solar heaters, cleaners, chlorinators, and other accessories. The pump, filter, and heater should also be drained.

5. Drain the values.

Be sure values below the water level are sealed securely. If they can’t be drained, they have to be sealed with heat tape.6. Clean the filters. Also, remove the drain plugs from the pumps.

7. Turn out the lights.

Remove pool lights from their niches if less than 18 inches of water is over them. Also, turn off the breaker or make sure the fuse is removed.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Alan J. Heavens (11/02/07)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Don’t Wait Till Winter Sets in to Get Your Home Ready for Next Spring

(ARA) – The fall leaves have fallen and before you know it, winter snowflakes will be flying. But before the next change of season arrives, there are a few things you should do to make sure your house will make it through the winter and have an easy transition to spring.

Here are some of the more important tasks you should put on your to-do list:

1) Inspect all your doors and windows to make sure the caulk and weather stripping is intact. If they are worn or cracked, replace them; and if you don’t already have them, install storm windows to keep the heat in and the cold out.

2) Clean and put away outdoor furniture and kids’ toys. Start by spraying them down with water to get off the surface dirt, then rub on some CLR Outdoor Furniture Cleaner, which is specially formulated to remove outdoor dirt and grime quickly and easily from a number of different materials, including plastic, resin, wrought iron, metal and wood. Once clean and dry, wrap the items with plastic and store them someplace dry for the winter.

3) Clear gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris that can clog your gutters leading to ice damns in the winter. Repair or replace sagging gutters and reattach loose downspouts.

4) Make a visual inspection of the roof to make sure there aren’t any missing or cracked shingles or tiles, or vents that have become detached. Flashing, the thin metal strips around vents and other roof openings, should also be examined for leaks.

5) If you use your fireplace frequently, schedule an annual cleaning with a professional chimney sweep. Make sure he or she checks your chimney for loose bricks, crumbling mortar joints and missing caps while there.

6) Check to make sure you have adequate attic insulation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 45 percent of a home's energy loss is through the attic.

7) Turn off the water supply for exterior faucets before the first frost to prevent pipes from cracking, and take the time to clean off the mineral deposits encrusted on the outdoor faucet spout with CLR . The fast acting, powerful formula will remove calcium, lime and rust deposits with no rubbing or scrubbing required. It is safe to use indoors too. By taking these steps now, your home will make it through the winter unscathed, and come spring, all you’ll have to do is unpack all the stuff you put away and enjoy the sunshine. No repairs will be necessary.

For more household tips, to see what other CLR products can do for you, or to locate a CLR retailer near you, log on to or call (800) 323-5497.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Columbus Ranked Third out of the 10 Most Stable Markets

Forbes Magazine teamed up with Moody’s to rank the country’s 10 most stable markets – and Columbus is No. 3!

Pittsburgh, Columbus and Dallas follow Seattle in the rankings. Predictions are based on the state of the local economies, new construction contracts, foreclosure rates, local credit markets, sales rates, affordability and inventory.

There is even more good news in the article. Based on Moody’s calculations, next year Columbus should boast the eight-fastest rate of the 40 markets examined!
Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Your First Home: What is Right for You?

Life is associated with a series of "firsts." First car, first date, first day of college and first day on the job. All of these firsts are monumental steps in moving forward with your life, and one of the most exciting firsts, undoubtedly, will be buying your first home. However, there are so many decisions for first-time buyers, it's easy to be overwhelmed and make a rash decision. Slow down, and make sure you haven't left any stone unturned in the quest to find the perfect home for you.

First of all, you need to figure out if now is the right time to buy a home. Sure, it may feel right, but is it realistic? If you can't commit to a place for at least a few years, now probably isn't the right time to buy. Likewise, if you're financially unstable or have bad credit, take the steps to improve your status before making such an important investment.

If you're confident enough to move on, enlist the help of a professional. Today, especially with Internet, it's possible to find a home on your own, but the knowledge of a licensed REALTOR® is invaluable. Your REALTOR® will help you through the entire process, and you can rest assured they'll take into consideration everything you're looking for in a new home.

Next, think about what kind of lifestyle you'll be most comfortable with. This lifestyle will be the determining factor in which neighborhood you'll choose. Whether it's rural, suburb or right in the urban center of it all, whichever community you choose, do take into consideration the schools nearby — even if you don't have school-aged children. When it comes time to sell, you'll find that a good school system will be an advantage in helping your home retain or gain value.
Finally, don't be discouraged if you can't find the picture-perfect home of your dreams. If it's in a good neighborhood and the right price range for you, don't pass it by; that deck can always be added and the kitchen remodeled later. Remember, it's your home — you can do with it what you please.

Buying your first home can be a stressful process, but worthwhile once you've found your perfect fit. Remember, your first home will more than likely house a number of future firsts, as well. Make sure those firsts happen in a home that is right for you and your family.

To start your homebuying journey, give me a call. 614-565-8161

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Boost Your Credit Score

Follow these tips, and watch your credit score soar.

Pay your bills on time
This may seem like a no-brainer, but just one late payment could negatively affect your credit score for years. However, if you regularly pay your bills on time, your score will improve dramatically. For example, someone with an average credit rating of 707 can raise their score by as much as 20 points by paying all their bills on time for one month.

Eliminate late payments
If you do make a late payment, try contacting the creditor to ask for a good faith adjustment that will eliminate the late payment on your credit report. Be patient and understanding when calling, though. It may take more than one phone call, and if you're rude, you'll probably be denied.

Keep balances low
The closer your balance is to zero, the more favorable you'll be scored. Keeping your credit use less than 30% of your credit limit is the best way to achieve a good score. Maxing out your credit cards could lower your average score by as much as 70 points.

Don't cancel your cards
Canceling an account won't make it go away; a closed account still shows up on your records. In fact, unless the account was opened less than two years ago and you have over six credit cards, closing an account can hurt your score. Credit scoring software assumes people with longstanding credit are less of a risk to default on payments.

Remember to check your credit score before asking for a loan. There are ways to improve your score, but the best way to increase those three little digits is to pay back on time and in full.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Breaking News:

Federal Reserve cuts interest rates a half-point to 4.75 percent

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Homebuying Blunders

Here are some of the most common buyer mistakes- and how to avoid them:

Not doing your homework.

It sounds simple, but there are times when people don't take advantage of resources like the Internet. When deciding to make a purchase as important as buying a home, you have to do your research. With the wealth of information available today, make sure that you prepare before talking to an agent.

Not choosing the right location.

You've heard it before: location matters. But there are times when buyers don't put enough consideration into this vital home-buying factor. In order to find the right place, you need to prioritize what you want in a new location. Are you looking for a short commute to work, nearby restaurants and shops or the best schools in the area? Be sure to have your priorities laid out before you begin your search.

Not looking at the big picture.

Too often, home buyers get caught up in one feature or amenity that a particular home offers. But you need to think big picture and always consider everything — especially livability. For example, if the curb appeal looks great, but the home's layout doesn't really fit your needs, you should continue looking.

Not being patient.

Buying a home is a huge decision, and it shouldn't be made hastily. Being impatient can possibly lead to making a decision you'll later regret. Be sure to take as much time as you need — that way you'll know you're getting what you really want.

While these aren't all the mistakes home buyers make, they should provide some guidance as you transition from summer and start exploring your home-buying options.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Resale Value: A Determining Factor

Everyone has their own idea about how the perfect house should be. But there are often overlapping ideal qualities that most buyers will look for in their dream home. Here are a few things to consider for strong resale value in your new home:

House Size

A house's value is usually determined by others near it in its neighborhood. If you buy a larger house in the neighborhood, its resale value will be lower. Conversely, if you decide to purchase a smaller or medium-sized house in a neighborhood filled with larger homes, these larger homes will pull up the value of your own. Decide whether it's more important to live in a nice neighborhood and a small home or a less-desirable neighborhood and a large home.

Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Closets — the Numbers

Three- to four-bedroom houses tend to be the most popular choices. If you can shoot for this range your home should have a good resale value. It's also become the norm to have at least two bathrooms — one in the master bedroom, one for everyone and at least a half bath for visitors to wash up in. Each hallway and nearly every room in the house should be equipped with a closet. The homes with the most spacious closets (think walk-ins for bedrooms) are typically the most desirable.

Home with a View

A beautiful view definitely helps the resale value of any home, but also consider how future buyers might feel. You won't want to raise the price based on the view and assume every buyer will feel the same way about it. Typically, the most desirable are mountain views, beach views, cityscape views and horizon views.

When looking at houses and properties, don't forget to keep in mind how they might sell in the future. Your home is a big investment, and a careful purchase now will help give you extra funds to move up in your next home purchase.

For more information, call me today!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School Home Organizing

Back to school is always a struggle. After the first couple of weeks, things are bound to be lost, forgotten or "eaten by the dog." Eliminate the confusion by following these great tips for keeping your home organized (and your brain un-frazzled) throughout the entire school year.

Color Coordinate Your Kids
Use each child's favorite color to color code all of their belongings. The blue folders belong in the blue backpack with the blue pencil case, and so on. Keep a color-coded folder for yourself and include updated immunization records and other vital documents and store it in a convenient place. Photocopy the form the school sends home every year and file it away — no more wasting time looking up phone numbers and addresses year after year!

Create Calendar Central
As the school year goes on, your kids will sign up for various extra curricular activities. Most of the time, they can't keep their own schedules straight, however, you're expected to be responsible for everyone. Invest in a pre-printed wipe-off board (with plenty of room) and use color-coded markers to keep everyone's schedules straight. Post it at a central location, like the refrigerator or the front door, and make sure everyone checks it either before going to bed or walking out the door in the morning.

No More Lost Papers
Each child should have their own three-tiered wire basket located near calendar central. Tell your kids to sort their papers into forms needing signatures, important documents (fund-raisers, school policies, PTA info) and art and awards. Make sure they empty their backpacks of these papers as soon as they walk in the door.

By following these tips, the school year should fly by smoothly, and your home should stay organized and clutter-free. And you'll have more time to enjoy life without worrying about lost documents or forgotten schedules.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Resale Value: A Determining Factor

Everyone has their own idea about how the perfect house should be. But there are often overlapping ideal qualities that most buyers will look for in their dream home. Here are a few things to consider for strong resale value in your new home:

House Size
A house's value is usually determined by others near it in its neighborhood. If you buy a larger house in the neighborhood, its resale value will be lower. Conversely, if you decide to purchase a smaller or medium-sized house in a neighborhood filled with larger homes, these larger homes will pull up the value of your own. Decide whether it's more important to live in a nice neighborhood and a small home or a less-desirable neighborhood and a large home.

Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Closets — the Numbers
Three- to four-bedroom houses tend to be the most popular choices. If you can shoot for this range your home should have a good resale value. It's also become the norm to have at least two bathrooms — one in the master bedroom, one for everyone and at least a half bath for visitors to wash up in. Each hallway and nearly every room in the house should be equipped with a closet. The homes with the most spacious closets (think walk-ins for bedrooms) are typically the most desirable.

Home with a View
A beautiful view definitely helps the resale value of any home, but also consider how future buyers might feel. You won't want to raise the price based on the view and assume every buyer will feel the same way about it. Typically, the most desirable are mountain views, beach views, cityscape views and horizon views.

When looking at houses and properties, don't forget to keep in mind how they might sell in the future. Your home is a big investment, and a careful purchase now will help give you extra funds to move up in your next home purchase.

For more information, call me today!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Add Some Color to Your Life
Below are some tips on how to use color to help accessorize any room in your home!

Tips for using colors:

Painting a ceiling will drastically energize a room without disrupting the room's other elements. Different colors can be used to create a specific feeling in a room. For example, pink will add a sense of surprise or warmth, and blue can give an outdoor feel to a room. For a very dramatic approach, use gold or silver.
In a bedroom, a colorful quilt will add character. If you want an artistic effect, stretch the quilt over a canvas and hang it on a wall for instant color and pattern.

In contrast to painting a ceiling, try painting the floor for some color adventure. Try French blue, dark green, red or yes, even black! A painted floor can add dimension to a room. If you're feeling adventurous, stencil a border or pattern in a dark shade or complementary color.

A neutral room with one strong color will make the room stand out. Pick one bold color such as a vibrant red or hot orange. From there, you can accessorize with throw pillows, vases or ceramic bowls or a stack of fabric-colored boxes. These items will help tie in and highlight the bold color.

Be creative! In a modern, all-white room, try painting just one wall a strong color. This will add dimension to the room.

Colored accessories such as lamp shades can be custom-made in almost any fabric or color imaginable — just use your imagination!
Rugs, artwork and furniture:

Painted furniture can give a playful touch of color to a room. This can even be done on a budget by shopping for a piece of furniture at a thrift store, and dressing it up with a lively wash of color!

Rugs are a simple way to introduce color into a room by adding depth and drama to a neutral setting — without overwhelming.

Reframe a painting or print with a color mat that matches one of the artwork's dominant colors to make the piece stand out.

Add a lively-colored slipcover to a sofa or chair for some additional character. Checks or bold stripes in crisp and clean colors are a fun contrast. Slipcovers are a good option for a less permanent color decision, allowing for plenty of experimentation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Five Ways to Maximize Your Back to School Budget

(ARA) – For students across the country, the beginning of a new school year is just around the corner. And, if you haven’t started your back-to-school shopping yet, you may soon find yourself dealing with large crowds and pricey cash register totals.

Back-to-school spending is expected to jump 6.9 percent this year, and families with school-aged children are expected to spend a total of $18.4 billion, an average of $563.49 per child. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 back-to-school survey, here’s how the register totals break down:

* Clothing and accessories: $231.80
* Shoes: $108.42 * School supplies (notebooks, backpacks and lunchboxes): $94.02
* Electronics or computer-related equipment: $129.24 To reduce the financial strain of back-to-school expenses, use these five tips to develop a strategy before you venture to the malls.

Tip No. 1 - Generate a list of necessities and stick to it. Younger children typically receive a list of required supplies directly from their school. Most teenagers will want to generate their own lists -- make sure to spend time reviewing it together before you head to the stores. Often a teenager’s definition of “necessity” may be slightly different than their parent’s.

Sending kids off to college? Remember -- they’ll need a lot more than the basics. Make sure to include items such as linens, laundry supplies, computers and more.

Tip No. 2 - Watch for sales. It seems like back-to-school sales start earlier every year. Start as early as possible and stockpile supplies little by little as they go on sale. By spreading out back-to-school expenses into several smaller purchases as you find the sales, you’ll feel less of an impact on your budget, and you’ll save money overall.

In addition to the basic school supplies and clothing, bigger ticket items such as electronics, laptops, calculators, cell phones, MP3 players and digital cameras tend to go on sale as new items are often released to hit stores in time for holiday shopping.

Tip No. 3 - Take advantage of price matching. Many retailers now offer to match their competitor’s prices. If an item on your list is on sale at a store that’s too far out of your way, look for a more convenient, competitor store that will match the offer. You’ll not only spend less on the item itself, but you’ll save yourself time and gasoline.

Tip No. 4 - Supplement your budget with your change. Concerned about how you’re going to pay for all the things your list? Coinstar, Inc. estimates that there is approximately $90 worth of change in the average American home waiting to be put to good use.

Take your change to the nearest Coinstar Center and have it counted for free when you place the value of your change onto a gift card or certificate from retailers like, Circuit City, iTunes, Timberland and more. Or, turn your change in for cash (there’s a nominal service fee) and spend it anywhere you like. (Visit for details and to find the nearest location.)

Tip No. 5 - Ask for student discounts. Don’t forget about student discount programs. While most are geared towards college students making their own purchases, many are extending to middle and high school students. Depending on the amount of the purchase, the savings could be substantial.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Home Sellers Yield High Returns Investing in Curb Appeal

(ARA) - When selling a home it pays to perk up where you park. “A remodeled kitchen and bath can help sell a home, but curb appeal is what gets buyers through the door,” says Betty Jane Garrett, a licensed agent with Paradigm Realty in Oklahoma City. “If they don’t like what they see from the street chances are they won’t waste time going inside.”

An old worn out garage door, even on the cutest house, can change “Honey, stop the car,” into “Keep driving,” in an instant.

Realtors in a nationwide survey say replacing your garage door prior to listing your home can increase its curb appeal and the asking price -- anywhere from one to four percent. That's no surprise considering homeowner demand for more storage space has made three-car garages an architectural standard, not to mention, a major design focal point.

If you are thinking of upgrading your home’s garage appeal you may want to consider something more than a standard steel panel door. According to “Professional Builder” magazine, designer garage doors are one of the "50 Must-Have Features for Today's Home Buyers."

“We had a seller last fall who replaced existing 70s style flush panel garage doors with Clopay carriage house style doors and it changed the entire look of the house,” adds Garrett. “It sold for full asking price the first day on the market and the owners made a profit. The interior had been upgraded -- but it was the exterior that the buyers fell in love with at first sight.”

Garrett offers these additional suggestions to help take your home from “for sale” to “sold.”

1. Paint the front door a bright color. Nothing says welcome home like a cheerful front entry. It’s an easy affordable way to freshen up a paint scheme without having to repaint the entire exterior.

2. Change out-dated light fixtures -- or add lights if you don't have some already. Light up your doorways, driveway and walkways. Better to have more lights at lower wattages than one, very bright one. Spotlights angled to highlight trees and bushes create a dramatic nighttime effect. Solar lights that charge during the day are easy to install yourself.

3. Mulch. It makes landscaping and beds look tidy, crisp and well maintained and helps minimize weeding.

4. Plant flowers. This is always money well spent because it adds charm and life to any exterior. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, invest in some planters and have a local nursery fill them with annuals that thrive in your climate and place them at major entry points.

5. Re-surface your driveway. Instead of a black top or smooth concrete, consider stained or stamped concrete patterns. This can do wonders for curb appeal.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Monday, August 20, 2007

Debt Doesn’t Have to be a Four Letter Word

(ARA) – For the average American, debt is a fact of life. But not all debt should be considered detrimental. Buying a house or a car, or funding your education can be positive, wealth-building steps even though they often require incurring some debt. The key, then, is not to avoid taking on debt at all costs, but to only take on specific, well-considered debts, and manage them wisely so that you control the debt, rather than letting the debt control you.

No matter what kind of debt you are thinking of taking on, there are some basic steps you can take to manage it.

* First, make sure you are getting the best deal, and therefore taking on the least debt, by comparison shopping before you buy. “Whether shopping for a car or a cell phone plan, consumers should do their homework,” suggests Stephen Semprevivo, president of “A few minutes of research could add up to big savings.”

* Think about making a sizeable down payment. Financing as little as possible will help ensure that you are able to pay the debt off in a timely manner.

* Look for room to negotiate. Many companies -- yes, even credit card companies -- may be willing to negotiate in order to win and keep your business. Always negotiate whenever possible. Hopefully, if you take steps to manage the expense, you may be able to comfortably take on those necessary, and often beneficial, debts that many of us incur without putting your financial stability in potential jeopardy. Of course, there are many consumers for whom debt has already become a burden. If this is your situation, take steps to alleviate the problem and get yourself back on the track to sound financial management.

* If you carry a large balance on your credit card, start making bigger payments. If the calculated minimum payment is only on the accrued interest, then you would need to make a larger payment to hit the principal of the debt. By finally hitting the principal, and discontinuing use of the card for purchases, you should see the balance begin to drop.

* If you own your home, consider refinancing to potentially achieve a better rate or terms on the mortgage, or to use equity to pay off other high-interest debt. “Interest rates are still low,” notes Semprevivo. “Refinancing to a lower rate may free up money each month that can be used to pay down unsecured debt such as credit card debt.” Web sites like can help you evaluate your refinancing options.

* If you’re in over your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Debt counseling may help you if you are feeling overwhelmed by assisting with possible ways to help prevent you from defaulting on your debt. The Internet has made it easier than ever to find help. Sites like can help you find the right debt solution for your needs.

*Finally, remember that it’s always a good idea to check with your personal financial and legal advisors for additional information.

Once you’ve taken control of your debt, you can keep on top of things by spending responsibly and living within your means. That way, when the time comes to incur some positive debt, you’ll be ready to make the most of the opportunity.

For more information on how to save money on your monthly bills, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stamped Concrete Patios -- A New Trend

If you're thinking of building a patio, but aren't quite sure if you can afford it, you may want to consider a stamped concrete patio. Stamped concrete is concrete colored, patterned and/or textured to resemble brick, slate, stone, flagstone, tile and wood. It's a popular material choice among patio builders for several reasons:


As I mentioned above, stamped concrete can be colored, patterned and/or textured to look like other textures and materials.

There are many patterns to choose from including stone, brick, slate, tile and even wood planking and fossilized sea life.

Stamped concrete is very cost-effective. You can often find it for one-third less the price of natural materials.

When installed by experienced craftsmen, you can barely tell the difference between stamped concrete and real brick or stone.

Stamped concrete is very durable and resistant to various types of weather.

You won't have weeds growing or ant hills forming because there are no joints or cracks in the material.

You can reseal it yourself.

If you decided to go with stamped concrete, there are a few things to remember. First, it should be resealed every two or three years. If not, the color may fade. However, when resealed, it's just like waxing a car because it looks brand new when you're finished. And second, I do recommend having it installed by a professional in order to get the results you're looking for.

Feel free to contact me for more home and outdoor maintenance tips!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Neighborhood Know-How

You can learn a lot about the character of a neighborhood just by driving around. Also, consider talking to some of the neighbors about concerns such as:

*How do the children routinely reach their schools, play areas and friends' homes — by walking, bicycle, bus or do parents drive them?

*Is public transportation available for commuting or shopping?

*How far away is your place of worship?

*Do any local ordinances affect pets, parking, lawn care or other activities?

*What are the disadvantages of the neighborhood? Freeway, railroad or airplane noise? Factory pollution, heavy traffic, exposure to heavy storms, possible flooding?

*Are there homeowners' association restrictions?

Here are some additional sources for gathering neighborhood information:

*Drop in on local school board, government or other open community meetings.

*Visit the schools.

*Dine and shop in local establishments.

*Subscribe and read the community newspaper.

Remember, if you're looking at a well-regarded, established neighborhood or an up-and-coming one, you may find it worth the extra money you'll have to put into the purchase of the home. On the other hand, if the neighborhood is past its peak, you may want to lower your offer accordingly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Look inside your bedroom

Your bed wants you to wake up on the right side! Changing your bedding can change your whole day!

They're designed to "comfort" you. They're soft and fluffy and come in dozens of colors.

They're traditional and practical. Quilts are a wonderful addition to your bed, rack or wall.

They're less expensive than other bed covering choices, so you can create a new look with every season.

These are protective covers for your down comforter. It will add some pizzazz to your plain white bed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Look inside . . . your memories

Your pictures are worth a thousand words! Keep your precious moments in time forever. Show them off!

.Dedicate a wall or a hallway to your family pictures. It could be kid's school portraits or family scenes.

.Go with the classic album. It may seem old-fashioned, but they're simple to put together and easy to store.

.Scrap book! It's fun for the whole family. It can be an on-going process or a job done in a week.

.Try something new, like a collage! Frame your work when you're finished. It's a definite conversation piece.

.Frame them. Decorate a table in the living or dining room with framed family photos.

.Pick out some decorative photo boxes. They'll add flair to your living room while keeping your memories safely contained.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Trying to Sell Your Home? Give it Scentmosphere!

(ARA) - Looking to sell your home? All you hear these days in the news and from friends is how bad the housing market is, and for good reason. There are too many existing houses on the market, builders have had to get more aggressive in selling new homes, interest rates and gas prices are up … these are not ideal conditions.

Selling a home is not the easiest thing to do. It can be an emotional roller coaster as it’s usually our largest asset, and most of us only have the opportunity to do it a few times in our lifetime. Although a professional real estate agency can help, you still play the primary role in making your home as “saleable” as you can.

Of course, all of us know that where you live, having a competitive price, and having curb appeal all are critical factors in whether potential buyers want to stop and take a closer look. However, most buyers look at dozens and dozens of homes before they choose one to buy. So, how can you help make your home stand out and be more memorable after a long day of house hunting?

While getting buyers to your home is a critical step in the process, ensuring you make a lasting impression after they leave your house is what gets buyers to ultimately purchase your home. How do you do that? Just follow your nose.

Scents have a very strong memory trigger for people. “It’s a byproduct of how we’re wired,” according to John Columbo, professor of cognitive psychology at Kansas University. “The portion of the brain that discerns smells is located directly behind the nose, so there’s almost a direct path from the air to our brains.”

“Using scent as a marketing tool to sell your home is based in the emerging field referred to as ‘scentmosphere,’” explains Rick Ruffolo, senior vice president of brand, marketing, and innovation at Yankee Candle Company. “Scentmosphere recognizes the way a home, a building or a room smells has an immediate and lasting impact on how people perceive the location.”

“Besides being hard-wired to the brain -- our feelings about different scents are related to past experiences,” Ruffolo adds. “For example, if your mom used to bake vanilla cupcakes because she knew you loved them, then every time you smell a vanilla cupcake it’s likely to be associated with fond memories of home, family and being loved.

Roma Papania, a top-performing realtor in Ohio, shares that “being able to picture yourself and your family in the new home is critical to the purchase decision … and scents can play a key role in creating the right atmosphere.”

Or, as we’ve now learned, it can create the right “scentmosphere.”

Scent experiences make an impact with potential home buyers. Potential buyers tend to make the ultimate decision based on emotions, and if the scents in your home make them feel good, the more likely they are to want to buy it. It’s why in the past real estate agents would suggest baking cookies.

Since that can be impractical before every showing, Ruffolo suggests that candles and home fragrance products are a more convenient way to accomplish the same effect. “If you or your agent are going to be there during the showing or open house, lighting a few scented candles in the kitchen and living areas will provide both great fragrance and the warm ambiance of candlelight. After all -- everything looks better in candlelight.”

If you won’t be in the home, Ruffolo recommends, “Use home fragrance products. They can be easily placed in most rooms in your home, and can be a subtle way to differentiate your home from the others in the market.”

We went into a Yankee Candle store to check out the various home fragrance options, and found several that would create the right “scentmosphere.” For example, Yankee Candle offers electric home fragrance products to plug into the wall, stylish reed diffusers for small bathrooms, decorative potpourri, and even small space “car gel refreshers” which work great in closets and in pet areas. You can check out to see for yourself.

But what fragrances should you pick? “While there are no absolute rules,” says Ruffolo, “we generally recommend familiar, welcoming food and spice scents for the kitchen and living areas that are seasonally appropriate, like French Vanilla, Home Sweet Home, Farm House Apple or Pumpkin Pie.”

“For bedrooms and baths, on the other hand, we suggest popular fragrances that give a feeling of real freshness and open spaces, like Clean Cotton, Country Linen, Lemon Lavender or Sage & Citrus.”

Welcoming, warm, clean and fresh … your home will smell so good you may be tempted to keep it. So, when selling your home, remember the advice we all learned watching cereal commercials as kids, sometimes it’s best if you “follow your nose.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Friday, August 03, 2007

Boosting Your Home’s Bottom Line: Big Ideas for Making a Good First Impression

(ARA) - A home’s exterior makes or breaks the first impression when prospective buyers see your home initially. If you’re looking to add value to your home without spending a lot of money, consider enhancing its curb appeal with a new front door. A spruced-up entryway can add as much as $24,000 to a home’s perceived value, according to research commissioned by Therma-Tru Doors.

“Your home competes for attention with the other homes in the neighborhood and even on your block. But you’ll never get an offer if potential buyers don’t make it through the front door,” says Tom Kraeutler, AOL Real Estate’s home improvement editor and co-host of ‘The Money Pit’ nationally-syndicated radio show. “The good news is that you can give your home an inviting new look by simply upgrading your front entryway. It’s one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive home improvements you can make.”

Whereas many doors are made of wood or steel, newer fiberglass materials and design options make the rich look of a wood door more affordable and easier to maintain. Fiberglass won’t rot, swell or peel like wood; requires minimal maintenance; provides excellent thermal protection; and offers unlimited possibilities for styles and finish options.

Today’s manufacturers also offer a wide array of choices for your home’s entryway, from doors that complement your home’s architectural style to custom looks using decorative glass, sidelites, transoms and more. Here are some “IDEAS” for choosing a new entryway system for your home:

IDEAS Tip #1:

Don’t IGNORE the Small Stuff “Remember that an entryway is an entire system of components, not just the door slab,” Kraeutler says. “Look for a complete door system designed to work together with high-quality, durable components.” From door hardware to beautiful glass sidelites and transoms, an attractive, high-performance entryway can go a long way toward making your home more appealing and drawing potential buyers to at least look inside.

IDEAS Tip #2:

One DOOR or Two? If you have a single door, you can simply replace it with a new door in the same size. But if you add sidelites -- stationary glass panels next to the door opening -- you will enhance the beauty of the entryway and also bring more light inside the home to showcase what’s inside. If you currently have double doors, instead of simply replacing them, consider installing an extra-wide single door (3 feet by 6 inches) and use sidelites to fill in the opening. Or, for a truly grand look, expand to double doors and add decorative glass sidelites and a transom window above. This may be a little more work, but it will transform your home with a completely new look.

IDEAS Tip #3:

EVALUATE Your Current Entryway Check the door opening to see what your home can accommodate structurally. Measure the height and width: most doors are 3 feet wide and 6 feet 8 inches tall. But some of the most popular doors are now 3 feet 6 inches wide and 8 feet tall, so you may need to enlarge your opening. In addition, consider adding Dixie-Pacific columns on the outside of the home or Fypon’s crossheads which will not only add style and elegance, but increase the home’s value and appeal.

IDEAS Tip #4:

ASSESS What Glass Meets Your Needs Adding decorative glass to your entryway can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your home. For example, use decorative glass with wrought iron designs to add sophistication to a Rustic or Spanish-inspired entryway; choose oval-shaped glass with curved or angled geometric designs to enhance a Victorian home; or select glass with crossover designs to add personality to a Prairie-style home.

IDEAS Tip #5:

What STYLE is Your Home? Knowing your home’s architectural style, and what kind of statement you want to make with your entryway, will help you narrow the choices. You can find doors and components to fit just about every architectural style. For example, Therma-Tru offers style-specific door collections -- from its American Style Collection that complements Traditional or New American Style homes, to the Rustic Collection that is ideal for Southwestern or Old Tuscan style homes, to the Oak Collection that suits everything from Colonial to Contemporary architecture.

For entryway design ideas, installation tips and a complete door selection guide, visit The site features an interactive Door Designer that allows you to match different door styles with glass sidelites, transoms, and stain and paint colors to create the look you want. Therma-Tru door systems are available through a national network of distributors, lumberyards and home centers. For additional ideas, visit , and

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Exterior Paint Tips

Summer is an excellent time for clients to paint their homes. The hot weather ensures faster drying times and minimizes weather-related complications and delays. Here are some good tips for your customers:

Inspect the exterior.
Before painting, check for bad patches, stains or rot. Damaged wood siding or trim could indicate water damage. Repair the damage and find the problem's source. It could be a small roof leak, or poorly sealed surface or joint somewhere in the structure. You can't fix problems by painting them.

Pick the right color.
A home's color can influence its property value, as well as the neighbors'. Go with shades of white, gray, beige or tan, and limit any stronger colors to shutters, trim and other features. (Keep them complementary.) Moreover, the home's style, local code and association covenants, conditions and restrictions can dictate the color palette.

Test some samples.
Before diving in, apply some test patches of various shades to less conspicuous parts of the home. See how they look after they dry. See which colors best complement one another, and how they look against the other colors in the yard and in the neighborhood.
Interview contractors. Ask neighbors with recently painted homes for referrals. Get quotes from multiple contractors and ask them for referral customers, as well. Ensure contractors are properly insured and licensed.

Get a group discount.
Canvas the neighborhood for other homeowners who want to repaint their homes. Pooling together creates bargaining power that will attract painters and force them to offer group discounts. Besides, clients can share ideas and make new friends.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Look inside your living room

Your living room could be decorated with styles from around the world!

American Country

It's all about comfort. Go with the each house, cozy lodge or country farm look. In true country style, choose cowhide furniture, a soft, fluffy rug and rustic wall d├ęcor.

Asian Allure

Use rich red and gold colors. Look for luxurious, satin fabrics. A low, dark coffee table will complement neutral walls and a bright area rug.

Italian Contemporary

Decorate with rectangular, leather couches, white carpet or wood floors, bold-colored rugs, neutral-colored walls and minimal accents. Mirrors make great decorations, too.

Traditional English

Classic is always in. Floral-patterned chairs sit by fancy end tables in dark wood. Fill walls and cabinets with personal treasures and antiques.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Personal Finance: Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market

(ARA) - Selling a home can be a daunting task for any homeowner, and in a “buyer’s market” the process can feel overwhelming. While many sellers think that homebuyers have the upper hand, with a little patience and a few helpful tips from GMAC Real Estate, you can successfully sell your home.

* The Price Is Right

The number one factor in the sale of your home and one of the most critical elements of the sales process is setting the asking price. While you want to get the most appreciation from the sale of your home, you also want to be realistic when setting your price.

“Sellers need to work with an experienced real estate professional who can help them establish a realistic value and price for their home”, said Lane Barnett, president and CEO of GMAC Real Estate Franchise Operations. “Setting a price that is unrealistic and too high can reduce agent and buyer interest, and can make other competing homes look like a better value.”

On the flip side, it’s critical to not underprice your home when looking to sell. Your real estate agent will research and provide you with data on current market conditions in your area.

* Remodel
Remodeling is a great way to increase your home’s value in a more challenging market. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom generally offers the highest percentage return on your initial investment according to numerous industry surveys. Another rule of thumb is to decorate your home so it appeals to the broadest number of potential buyers. Buyers generally prefer neutral, mainstream designs, so avoid bold colors or patterns or out of date designs that can make it harder to sell. New paint, a nicely mowed lawn and attractive landscaping can go a long way in enhancing your home's curb appeal.

* Identify Potential Problems

Hire a home inspector to help you identify any potential problems before you put your house on the market. Also, make sure your home complies with all local housing codes.

* Presentation Is Key

The presentation of your home when you are listing it plays an important role in attracting a buyer. As with choosing an asking price, look at the condition of your home through a buyer’s perspective. “Sellers need to understand the importance of how their home looks to prospective buyers and really need to put themselves into the shoes of the buying public,” said Barnett. “Potential buyers will examine every nook and cranny of your house as they begin to think about making a purchase.”

* Overall Marketing

Your real estate agent will prepare your listing for the multiple listing service as well as create an advertisement for the Internet and any materials that will be made available to those who visit your house. More and more, the first impression of your home that many potential buyers have comes from it being seen by buyers using the Internet. It is important to offer a wide variety of photos of both the inside and outside of your home. 360 degree virtual tours of your home are another popular choice to consider. Also, the description of your house needs to be accurate and complete to grab the attention of the potential homebuyer.

When selling your home, remember that an experienced real estate professional can not only help you sell your home for the highest price, but also in the shortest time. Your agent should serve as your trusted advisor, your skilled negotiator and your marketing coordinator every step of the way. From pricing to closing day, these professionals can make you a pro at selling in a buyer’s market.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Basics of Home Inspections

If you're thinking of buying a home this summer, it's important to protect yourself and your investment with a home inspection. A professional assessment by a reputable home inspector will uncover any problems, and alert you to any necessary repairs and updates.

When writing an offer to purchase, you will want to include a request for inspection. I can change your offer to include that request. Once you go into contract, you will have the opportunity to bring in an inspector of your choosing. But if you don't have anyone in mind, I can provide you with a list of qualified inspectors.

An inspection will cost you several hundred dollars, so it is important that you are comfortable and confident with your inspector. Choose an inspector who can provide proof of qualifications such as certifications and memberships to home inspection organizations.

When interviewing inspectors, ask questions about him or her and the inspection itself. Examples of good questions include: What does the inspection cover? How much will it cost? Does he or she have references? How long has the inspector been in the business and how many homes has he or she inspected?

Depending on the size of the home, an inspection can last about two to four hours. The inspector should closely evaluate the siding, foundations, exterior brick, insulation, doors and windows, roof, ceilings, walls, moldings, porch, deck, electrical outlets, plumbing, water heater, furnace, air conditioning, garage, basement, septic tanks, driveways and sidewalks. Upon completion, you and I will receive a copy of the review. Remember that it is very normal to have a few small issues that need attention or repair. I can help you decide which, if any, of the repairs to ask the seller to handle or pay for, and which to handle yourself.

A home inspection not only identifies immediate needs, but it can also make you aware of any future maintenance issues. However, even after a home inspection is completed, it is still important to purchase a home warranty.

Contact me for more real estate advice

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Look inside your kitchen

Your kitchen is a central place for the family to meet. According to feng shui, it also gives the whole house and family energy and vitality. Here are some quick tips for bringing your kitchen to life the feng shui way.

.Gather fresh flowers, and put them in a vase between your stove and refrigerator. If flowers are too expensive, use bamboo instead..Place a large bowl of fruit in the middle of the table or the counter. This represents wealth and bounty.

.Be fresh and natural. Create your own herb garden in the kitchen.

.Have the windows open as much as possible. Keep the blinds and curtains drawn during the day to let in the sunlight.

.Stay reenergized by hanging a crystal from your kitchen window. It will catch the sun's rays and produce a beautiful colored light show.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Choose the Right Paint Color

Choosing the right paint color means more than sorting through a few sample strips at the hardware store. Here are some tips to help you choose the right color:

Be patient. Paint is available in an infinite array of colors, and is the most versatile element of your room. Get ideas, but make the final decision after rugs, wallpaper and fabrics are finalized.
Study the colors. You'll find clues about the underlying tones of different shades of a color on a full sample strip of coordinated colors. Decide if the family of colors is the direction you're headed with your color selection.

Trim it out. Choosing an off-white or white shade for moldings, doors and windows is normally the standard choice. Consider a pale shade of color to coordinate with the walls. For a really striking look, try lighter walls and dark tones or bright colors for the trim.
Keep notes as you shop. It's a good idea to make a note on the back of the paint color cards, telling yourself the name of the store where you picked it up, and the paint brand whenever this information isn't printed there already.

Shed a little light. To get a true view of a paint color, try to look at it in many lights. Take the paint chip outside to see it in natural light. Look at it under an incandescent and fluorescent light.

Ask for help. For helpful paint advice, go both online or visit your local paint store. Tell the paint professional about the goals for your decorating project. Ask which paint products they recommend, and why.

For more home-owning tips, contact me today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hold an Open House — Let Your Buyer Find You

Here are some tips when holding your open house:
Meet and discuss everything with me before hand. I will give you all the details involved in holding an open house. Let me take you through your home the day before the open house and give you suggestions and directions.Make plans so I am the one showing the home. You want your visitors to feel comfortable making comments, or even criticizing your home. If you absolutely must stay in the home, be sure to keep a low profile.Leave some snacks or treats for visitors. It's a nice touch that helps increase the comfort level associated with your home.Find somewhere else to place your pets when holding an open house. Some prospective buyers may be allergic or afraid of your animals. They can also be a distraction to showing the features of your home.

For more home-buying or selling advice, contact me today.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Set the Stage for a Quick Home Resale

(ARA) - In this buyer’s market, how do you make your home stand out in a sea of “For Sale” signs? According to the International Association of Home Stagers, investing in small improvements that make your home look more inviting and appealing to prospective buyers can increase its ultimate sale price by 7 percent and make it move up to 100 days faster.

Experts say that it’s the little touches -- like a fresh coat of paint, updated window coverings or a new floor -- that make all the difference. And since the decision to purchase a home often is made within eight seconds of walking in the front door, it’s crucial that spaces where the eye automatically rests (such as walls, windows and floors) are impeccable.

Follow these quick and simple tips from the experts to increase your home’s chances of selling sooner rather than later:

Lighten Up

Light is the second most cited reason -- behind location -- for a buyer to choose a property. One easy way to illuminate your home’s interior is through paint. Neutrals always make a safe choice, but nothing says sunshine and warmth like yellow. While this shade won’t work for every area, it can be beautifully incorporated into public spaces like living and dining rooms.

According to Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for ICI Paints (maker of the Glidden brand), yellow has the natural ability to elevate our mood and make us think of opportunities and possibilities. Richardson suggests pairing yellow hues with complementary shades of blue-violet on a home’s walls to make the color truly sing.

Combined with dark woods or white accents, the color takes on a classic look and adds a sunny disposition to an interior. And for an even quicker way to inject a touch of vibrancy to any room, Richardson recommends yellow accessories -- such as pillows, artwork, rugs and vases.

Create a Clearer View

Prospective buyers are curious to know how a new home will change their perspective on the world. Don’t obscure the view of a beautiful natural landscape or a charming street with heavy curtains. Consider replacing draperies with sheer or solar shades. For instance, LightWeaves from Graber allow light to be filtered and diffused, while maintaining a clear view to the outside and reducing glare on television and computer screens.

And once you’ve installed shades that let the sun shine in, don’t forget to make sure all of your windows are sparkling and dust free prior to an open house. It also helps to add a breath of fresh air and reduce stuffiness by opening up windows an hour before visitors are expected to arrive.

Put Your Foot Down

Scuffs, stains and scratches under foot can make a home appear older and unkempt. Cover worn carpet and torn vinyl with laminate flooring. According to Don Cybalski director of design for Pergo, laminate is inexpensive, durable and easy to install in just a weekend. Not only does it closely replicate the look of real woods -- from cherry to oak to maple, and even the hottest exotics like merbau, jatoba and bamboo -- but it also maintains a “like new” appearance for longer. Laminate is guaranteed to effectively stand up to the wear and tear of hundreds of footsteps that may track through your home while it’s on the market.

For more information on home staging, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Columbus Ohio ranks as one the most stable housing markets
A new report from Standard & Poors released in late June touted Columbus Ohio as one of the major metros with the least risk of price decline by 2009. Read the story published yesterday on MSN.

Home Prices Expected to Recover in 2008 As Inventories DeclineNAR’s July 11 news release forecasting better days yet in 2007. Read the release.

Interest rates are still competitive, inventory is great –- Now is the time to buy!
One Mistake You Don't Want to Make When Buying a Home

Don't make a major purchase.

So you’ve found your next dream home and the seller accepted your offer to purchase. The home is officially under contract, you're counting down the days to closing, and you’ve been pre-approved by the lender. The house is yours for sure, right? Well … not so fast. Nothing is certain in the home-buying process until the keys are in your hand. There are still hurdles to jump before it's yours, and your actions from start to closing can create slowdowns and even halt the sale. So through my next several posts, I’ll be listing the top five things not to do before closing on a home. Here’s No. 1: 1. Don't make a major purchase. While you might be imagining a new car to fit nicely in your garage, hold off. If you’re depending on a mortgage to move in, it’d be smart to wait until after closing for that car. An increase in your debt-to-income ratio reduces the amount of monthly income available for your mortgage payment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Look inside your garage

Your garage door gives your house personality. Not only does it have curb appeal, it also adds value to your home. There are dozens of styles available. You can buy a pre-made door or customize your own!

.The carriage house style gives a traditional horse and buggy feel to your home, with swinging doors. It looks fantastic on older, more traditional houses.

.You may also try an English manor style. These beautiful doors give the illusion of sliding doors of the past, yet they open like a regular overhead door.

.Do you have a new, chic home or need an update? Modern, aluminum styles are very trendy right now. The panels can be tinted, frosted or mirrored glass.

You can even get a customized entry door to match your garage door. Who knew?!Remember, the more fab you add, the pricier the door becomes.
Last Week in the News

U.S. mortgage applications rose 1.1% for the week ended July 6, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported July 11. Applications were 10.5% above their year-ago level.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on July 11 that it expects existing-home sales to rise to nearly 6.4 million units in 2008, up from the 2007 estimate of more than 6.1 million. Nearly 6.5 million existing homes were sold in 2006, NAR said.
As for new homes, NAR projected sales of 865,000 in 2007, and 878,000 next year, but the 2008 projection would still be down more than 20% compared with the nearly 1.1 million new homes sold in 2006.

Consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 6.4% in May, far above the small 1.1% gain in April and double what analysts had forecast, the Federal Reserve reported July 9. According to David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's, some of the credit card surge reflects the fact that tightening bank standards are making home equity loans harder to obtain and home values are not soaring as they did during the housing boom.

Addressing a National Bureau of Economic Research conference on July 10, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted that Americans' expectations about inflation play an important role for Federal Reserve policy makers in their efforts to tame inflation. His talk dimmed hopes for a reduction in the Fed's key interest rate, which has held steady at 5.25% for just over a year.

This week look for updates on the Producer Price Index on July 17 and the Consumer Price Index on July 18.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look inside your color scheme

Your wall color might be dictating your mood!

The easiest on the eye. It's relaxing and peaceful-that's why most hospitals use it.

Luxurious and calming-a great bedroom color.

Cool and tranquil-perfect for most rooms in your home.

Known to cause fatigue. Some sports coaches paint the opposing team's locker rooms pink!

Incites anger in adults and makes babies cry more often than other colored rooms, according to studies.

Energizing and warming, but it's best used as an accent color.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Look inside your home fragrance

Incense sticks

To use, set the coated end on fire until it glows. Then extinguish the flame so that the incense continues to glow and smoke. Soon, your home will be filled with your favorite aroma.

Want to set a mood?

For a calming effect, use sandalwood. Feeling tired? Try lavender or rosemary. Woke up feeling irritable today? Use ocean or spring-scented incense.


They make the perfect decoration for any room in your home and generate a great aroma. Trim the wick to 1/4 inch. Remove the wick trimmings. Extinguish a candle when the wick is one inch from the bottom.

Air fresheners

There are a variety of scented sprays and electric plug-in air fresheners on the market. Sprays generally don't last very long, while scented oils and plug-ins last longer.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Last Week in the News

The nation's service economy expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in June, as the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on July 5 that its index of business activity in the non-manufacturing sector registered 60.7, topping May's reading of 59.7 and Wall Street's forecast of 58.1. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 signals contraction. The June reading was the highest since April 2006, when it hit 61.1.

Output at U.S. factories, plants and utilities also expanded in June, the ISM reported July 2. The ISM's manufacturing index rose to 56 in June, above the May reading of 55, and higher than the market expectation of 55.4. The reading marked the fifth consecutive month of growth for the manufacturing sector.

Late payments on home equity loans -- payments that are 30 days or more past due -- rose to 2.15% in the first quarter of this year, up sharply from 1.92% in the final quarter of 2006, the American Bankers Association (ABA) reported July 3. On a brighter note, the ABA also reported that late payments on credit card bills dropped to 4.41% in the first quarter, down from 4.56% in the fourth quarter of 2006, the best showing in nearly a year.

The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a one-month low, Freddie Mac said July 5. Rates have ebbed in recent weeks as investors' fears concerning inflation have eased.
This week look for updates on the trade balance on July 12 and retail sales on July 13.