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How to Create a Kid-Approved Bedroom

From baby to teen, here’s how to put together a room that will grow with your child. For a child, a bedroom is more than just a place to sleep. It’s a room to do schoolwork, listen to music, play games, sprawl on the floor, rough-house, read, build models, daydream, visit with friends, and keep innumerable possessions. You’ll need to plan carefully to create a space that serves all those functions, yet is comfortable and inviting — and has enough staying power to require only minimal redecorating and repainting every few years. Consult the experts The ultimate experts on what kids like best are kids themselves. Involve your children in the design process by letting them help with color selections for their rooms. Include their interests, and ask for their opinions as you create a decorating scheme, especially when it comes to paint, furniture, and fabrics. What you want is a room that both meets your … Read more »

A Quick Guide to Holiday Houseplants

How to keep your holiday cactus, amaryllis, and poinsettia alive to the New Year … and beyond! Don’t let a silly houseplant add even more stress to your holiday routine. From now through January, poinsettia, amaryllis, and holiday cacti only ask for three things: the right drainage, sunlight, and moisture. After the holidays you can either throw them out with the tree and buy new plants next year, or you can follow these tips to get even bigger blooms next time around. What holiday houseplants want — for the holidays Drainage: First, take the containers out of their cellophane wrappers, which somehow manage to both trap water and leak, staining whatever sits beneath. To save your plant and your coffee table from excessive water, slip the plastic container or rootball into a real flowerpot with a drainage hole. Place a saucer beneath that to protect your furniture. Sunlight: Notice that I said ‘sunlight’ rather … Read more »

How to Feel at Home, No Matter Where You Are

Whether you’re couch-surfing, living in base housing, or renting a room, here’s how to make yourself at home anywhere. So it turns out, despite our best efforts, we don’t all actually have the kind of “home” that commercials and catalogs like to pretend we do. Not that we wouldn’t want it. Who could say no to a quaintly historic house towering over the neighborhood like an architectural cupcake? Who would turn down a wraparound porch, complete with attractive spouse and loyal Golden Retriever? Catalogs represent an ideal, but the reality is the concept of home is hardly universal (for example, some porches don’t even wrap around!). The meaning of home In its most basic sense, home can be understood as simply having a place to live. But home is more than that. It’s a sense of safe, comfortable, familiar permanence. For a variety of real-life reasons, a lot of us don’t … Read more »

5 Things to Know Before You Refinance

A refi could cut your monthly mortgage payment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right move. Even though rates spiked after the election and may rise further after the Fed meets December 14, there are about four million borrowers who will still benefit from refinancing, and of that, two million borrowers could save $200 or more per month by refinancing. There are many reasons to refinance, but here’s what you should know before you act. Refinancing costs money There’s no such thing as a free refinance. You’ll need to pay closing costs, which typically run anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of your loan amount. So, if you’re refinancing a $150,000 loan, you might pay between $3,000 and $7,500 in closing costs upfront. One option you have is for your mortgage lender to cover the closing costs using a no-closing cost refinance. But if you go that route, you’ll pay … Read more »

Should You Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays?

Nobody’s buying homes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, right? (Or are they?) Home sellers often suggest to their agents that they should take their listings off the market during the winter holidays. Surely nothing happens between now and the end of the year, they ask? It’s best to wait for the spring selling season, right? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is: not necessarily. Conventional wisdom used to be that you shouldn’t even try to sell your home during the busy holiday season. Potential home buyers were attending parties, cooking holiday meals, buying presents, or vacationing this time of year. With all that going on, there just wasn’t time to ride around with a real estate agent to look at properties. But with the Internet, smartphones, tablets and our always-on lifestyle, that conventional wisdom isn’t relevant anymore. The reality is, the home-buying season is now year-round. Here’s why you should consider listing … Read more »

What to Do If You Can’t Make Your Mortgage Payment

Whatever you do, don’t skip a payment and think no one will notice. Living paycheck to paycheck is not uncommon for many homeowners. And sometimes, when you find yourself in a bind and you’re struggling to make the next mortgage payment, you may be tempted to try to skip a payment, thinking you can repay it later once you get back on track. But a passive approach to a financial issue — particularly one involving something as impactful as your mortgage — is not advisable. Being proactive and straightforward with your creditors is far more prudent in a personal financial crisis. The power of honesty “The first and most important thing I always tell clients concerning delinquent mortgage payments is to contact their lender/servicer, in writing, to advise them of the hardship and inability to make payments,” says Cydney Bulger, attorney with The Bulger Firm in Jacksonville, Florida. Openly admitting your … Read more »

The Ins and Outs of Showing Property

Whether it’s a last-minute private visit or an open house for anyone who stops by, homes need to be seen to sell. Showing a property is essential to the home-selling process. Every market works differently, but buyers and sellers will quickly learn the ropes by working with a competent local agent. The last-minute call to show a property is par for the course. Should the listing agent and seller accommodate? Is it better to hold off a buyer for a day or so? It’s a dilemma, but sellers and their agents should have a concrete strategy for showing. While homeowners need to be as flexible as possible to show their home, serious buyers and smart buyer’s agents know that last minute scrambles aren’t always desirable. When it comes to showing and viewing homes, buyers, sellers, and agents need to understand how to best use their options, which include open houses, lockboxes, and … Read more »

3 Things to Do When Your Neighbors List Their Home for Sale

Most people think their real estate concerns end once they’ve closed on and moved into their new homes. But given the constant access to information and the changing nature of society today, smart homeowners know that their real estate awareness should continue after the closing. When a neighbor’s house goes on the market, there can be some important implications for you. Here are some tips for staying real estate aware. Document important disclosure items For the most part, good fences make good neighbors. But sometimes the folks on the other side of the fence don’t cooperate, and unresolved neighbor conflicts tend to arise when one of the homes goes on the market. Have a property line dispute or an issue with a broken fence and want to make sure that the new buyer knows about it? While sellers in most states have a duty to disclose issues to potential buyers, … Read more »

Tackling the Top 10 Home Organization Issues

As we face down the last couple of months of the year, it’s important to get organized now so you can reduce your stress and current clutter before the influx of holiday parties and gift-giving begins. Use my tips to tackle some of the most common home organization complaints, so you can breathe more easily from now until the end of the year. “I can’t find it!” Cutting clutter is an obvious starting point for resolving this issue. Having too much stuff can make it hard to locate items you need. Favorite shirts get lost in a crowded closet, the perfect spatula hides in the overstuffed kitchen drawer, and necessary tools float to the bottom of an unsorted tool box. But getting organized may be easier than you think. Let’s take those tools as an example. The garage can be one of the messiest places in the house, but this simple and easy starting point will help … Read more »

Valuable information for buyers and sellers.

The National Association of REALTORS® and National Association of Landscape Professionals recently released the 2016 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features. The report showed that taking care of a home’s lawn offers a relatively high return at resale. With this in mind, it is in a homeowner’s best interest to seed their lawn, implement a standard lawn care program or even install a sod lawn to help ensure they receive the highest price possible for their home.  In addition to lawn care and landscape upgrades, other outdoor projects that REALTORS considered the most likely to add value to a home at resale include a new patio or wood deck, an outdoor fireplace/firepit and a pool. When it comes to pools, REALTORS are in agreement that only about 50 percent of the cost will be recouped at resale; however, of all the projects a pool scored highest on bringing joy to homeowners. … Read more »