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.
Accessories:

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 Amazon.com, 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 www.coinstar.com 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 LowerMyBills.com. “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 LowerMyBills.com 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 LowerMyBills.com 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 www.LowerMyBills.com.

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:


Advantages

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!

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

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

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

Duvets
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 www.yankeecandle.com 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 thermatru.com. 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 http://www.thermatru.com/ , http://www.dixiepacific.com/ and http://www.fypon.com/.


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.