Tricks, Treats & Spook Free Tips

o-HALLOWEEN-facebookHalloween is full of tricks, treats, ghoulish games, frightening frocks, cute costumes, glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, pumpkin packed parties, and of course spookiness! Unfortunately, all of the frightening fun has dangers lurking behind them. Whether you are a parent of two-legged loved ones or four-legged furry loved ones, it is critical to be aware of the true spookiness that is hiding behind all the ghostly fun. So I called upon two experts that have simple tips for a safe, scare-free Halloween to keep your children and pets safe.

First up are the experts in keeping your little pumpkins safe. They may have “boo” in their name, but there is nothing scary about Boo Boo Busters. As a leading professional childproofing service they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe. Following, are Halloween safety tips for your pets from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist. He has been taking care of all kinds of pets for over 20 years and his tips are sure to keep you furry friends from howling at the moon.

Kid Halloween Safety Tips

1) Choking Hazards

As a good rule of thumb, a choking hazard could be considered as anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. So, taking that into consideration, look closely at all the items that you are putting out to display. From bats and ghosts to pumpkins you roast. Hazards lurk everywhere!

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2) Flashlights

Child safe flashlights should have a child safe battery door on them that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, thus preventing a choking hazard. Use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin too, flames and kids don’t mix.

3) Halloween Lights

Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper resistant bulbs that can’t be removed easily and remember cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short and tight. Consider taking the excess that you might leave hanging and bind it up with a zip tie.

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4) Pumpkin Carving

Remember to only use child safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives you must know that they will want to do the same. As soon as you turn around to grab something you forgot… little hands wander.

5) Costumes

As a kid it’s mandatory to dress up. Our job is to make sure dress up is safe. Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a trip hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it’s loose, baggy or long it could create a trip hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.

6) Glow at Night

Make sure your child’s costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good addition as well.

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7) Halloween Treats

Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy that you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Unfortunately, ghouls are sometimes disguised as regular people.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips

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1) Pet Costumes

Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume! Keep in mind, your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit. Feel free to get that amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any “wardrobe malfunctions!”

2) NO chocolate

Most people know chocolate is toxic to their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance, petMD.com) that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, always best to contact your veterinarian to see if treatment is indicated.

3) Sugar Free Danger

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, always best to contact your veterinarian as your pet may likely need treatment and supportive care.

4) Healthy Treat Dangers

If you’re offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.

5) Burning Jack O’ Lanterns

Flames and Fur don’t mix. Just as you do for kids safety, consider replacing that Jack-O-Lantern candle with a flickering LED light.

6) Trick-or-Treating

2d274906947226-dog9-streams_desktop_large_1b898899a2e6ca5a6befdad725f48c49.today-inline-largeDuring trick-or-treating it is best to keep your pet inside, safe from all of the scary costumes, noises and lights that might frighten your pooch or feline. You might even want to consider locking your sweet little pal in a room so they don’t get spooked and run out the door when your trick or treaters arrive.

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Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Fall Home Improvement, Home for the Holidays, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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Fall is a good time to take care of big home repair projects before shorter days (and in many areas, ice and snow) make outdoor work too difficult. And if you do live in an area with cold winters, take some time this fall to boost energy efficiency throughout your home and prevent damage from winter storms with proper tree care. (We spoke with an expert to find out what you need to do.) Tick these items off your list this season, and you can rest easy knowing that your home and yard are buttoned up and ready for winter.

Tasks to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

Stock up on winter supplies.
If you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, fall is the time to prepare.

  • Check the condition of snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed.

  • Pick up a bag of pet- and plant-safe ice melt, if needed.

  • Restock emergency kits for car and home.

  • If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.

Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses. Protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing. Drain hoses and store them indoors. Drain and winterize irrigation system, if using.

Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety. When the landscape is covered in ice and snow, just walking from the driveway to the front door can be a challenge.

Make navigating around your home safer by checking that all stairs are in good shape and have sturdy railings, and that the driveway is in good repair to make for easier shoveling.

Test outdoor lights and replace bulbs as needed. As the days get shorter we rely more on exterior lighting, both for safety and ambiance. Test lights on the front and back porch, on the garage and in the landscape, and replace bulbs as needed.

Check safety devices.

  • Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed.

  • Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.

  • If you haven’t checked your home for radon, fall is a good time to do so — as the weather gets cooler and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home.

  • Radon at high enough levels is extremely harmful, so if you find that your home has radon (a radon level of 4 or above is considered unacceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency), hire a contractor qualified to fix radon issues.

Vacuum radiators, baseboard heaters and grates. Get ready for heating season by clearing away dust and grime from radiators, baseboard heaters and heating grates. If your radiators have removable covers, take them off and vacuum beneath the cover before replacing.

Remove window A/C units.
If you use window air conditioning units in the summer, remove them before the weather turns cold. If you must leave in window A/C units, cover the exterior of the unit with an insulating wrap to keep cold air out.

Tackle These To-Dos Over a Weekend

Rake leaves.
Leaves look beautiful blanketing the ground, but leaving too many leaves on a lawn over winter in a snowy area can inhibit spring growth. To make the job easier, choose a lightweight rake, wear gloves to protect your hands and use handheld “leaf scoops” to bag leaves quickly.

Seal gaps where critters could enter. Mice need only a tiny gap to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry. And with colder weather coming, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the wildlife outdoor.

Clean dryer vents. Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and even cause a fire — cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, so now is a key time to get that lint out. You can hire a duct cleaning specialist to clean the vents for you, or clean the vent yourself. If you decide to do it yourself.

Make exterior repairs. Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits.

Clean gutters and downspouts. Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts (hire a helper if you are not comfortable on a ladder). Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding.

Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance. Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney!

(houzz.com)

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Fall Home Improvement, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Selling Your House? 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t For Sale By Owner!

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In today’s market, with homes selling quickly and prices rising, some homeowners might consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five of those reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible

  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer

  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)

  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always, find some problems with the house

  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 89% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 20% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Results Come from the Internet

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Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 44% on the internet

  • 33% from a Real Estate Agent

  • 9% from a yard sign

  • 1% from newspaper

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

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Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $210,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $249,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $39,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a Coldwell Banker Advantage real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

Keeping Current Matters

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, For Sale By Owner, Home Buyer, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

O’ Baby ~ 7 Often Missed Baby-proofing Home Tips

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(BPT) – Most parents, or soon-to-be parents, are often aware of the obvious baby proofing checklist items: baby gates, electrical outlet covers, cabinet locks, sharp furniture corners, etc. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are a surprising number of “hidden” hazards around the home. These hazards, such as window cords, hide in plain sight and should be on everyone’s list of items to baby proof.

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Corded window coverings are a strangulation hazard as infants and young children can accidentally become entangled in the cords. CPSC, the window covering industry and consumer safety advocates all agree that only cordless window coverings or those with inaccessible cords should be used in homes with young children. The window covering industry’s Best for Kids(TM) certification program makes it easy for parents and caregivers to identify the window covering products that are best suited for homes with young children.

According to the CPSC, corded window coverings are one of the top five hidden hazards in American homes. The Window Covering Safety Council urges parents and caregivers to watch for these potential hazards around the home and offers the following tips:

  1. Corded window blinds. Check your window coverings for exposed or dangling cords and replace them with cordless products. Safety experts recommend using only cordless window coverings in homes with young children. There are many cordless window covering options offered today.

  2. Small powerful magnets, if swallowed, can attract inside the body and block, twist or tear the intestines. Be sure to take note of what is in a child’s play environment that may pose a risk. If you think your child has swallowed a magnet, seek medical attention immediately

  3. Recalled products. Be aware of the latest safety recalls and get dangerous products out of the home. Sign up for recall notices cpsc.gov.babyproofing

  4. Furniture tip-overs. Children will pull and climb on top-heavy furniture, TVs and cabinets which can easily tip over, causing a serious accident. Install anchors and brackets to all pieces of furniture with a tip-over risk. Read more on the CPSC’s “Anchor it!” website.A1-r2c5YvVL._SL1500_

  5. Pools and drains. A child can be trapped underwater from the suction of a pool or spa drain. CPSC urges parents to inspect pools and spas for missing or broken drain covers and provides pool safety tips at poolsafely.gov.

In addition to these top five hazards, parents and care givers should also be aware of the following potential hazards in their homes:

  • Older child’s toys. If this is your second child, be certain to keep the older siblings toys in a separate area from the baby, in order to prevent them from possibly choking on small pieces.

  • Button batteries. A child can swallow a button battery and suffer chemical burns in as little as two hours. Leave all devices with accessible button batteries – watches, remote controls, toys, keyless remote controls, etc. – out of the reach of children.

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Children are a handful sometimes, A heartful all the time…
— Author Unknown

Posted in Adopt A Pet, CNet, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home Safety, Home Sellers, Homes for Dogs Project, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pre-vacation home safety tips

CR-Cars-Hero-Road-tripping-families-Sienna-06-16Vacation is something that we all look forward to, but it’s important not to forget about your home—and its safety—while you’re away. With some pre-planning, it’s easy to make sure your house is safe and secure, giving you peace of mind and allowing you to focus on the relaxation and fun of vacation.

Here are a few must-do tips to make sure your home is protected:

Unplug all of your major appliances that could experience power surges. This can help protect the appliances, but also prevent a fire in the event of a surge.unplug

Another key fire protection measure is to check all of the batteries in your smoke detectors. These devices are crucial for early fire detection—and your neighbors can likely hear them to alert the fire department.

It’s important to not only wash, but dry all of your dishes before you go away. Toxic mold and mildew can form in these damp environments, posing a hazard to your kitchen.

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Heading out for an extended trip? Clean out the refrigerator, throwing away anything that will expire while you’re gone. This will help prevent yucky messes in your fridge upon your return.

If you live in a warm climate, consider turning off your air conditioner. There’s no need to keep it running, unless you have pets, and it will save you money on your next energy bill!

Help give the impression that someone is still at home by leaving a car parked in your driveway. Be sure to remove all of your valuables from the vehicle first.

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Instead of leaving a spare key under the welcome mat, ask a trusted neighbor or family member to keep it while you’re away—it’s much safer. And in the event of a problem, they’ll have easier access.

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Though it may be tempting to share the news of your upcoming getaway, thieves often scan social media looking for neighbors who will be away. Wait until after the vacation to share your photos and messages.

Don’t allow your mailbox or front stoop to overflow with mail—a sure sign you are out of the house! Instead, ask a neighbor or family member to hold on to it for you until you get back. full-mailbox-300x300

Consider purchasing controllable timers to turn on and turn off lights, TVs, and more, which gives the impression that you are still at home.

Take advantage of your local law enforcement agency’s policy—if they have one—to have an on-duty officer drive by your  home.

Place all of your most precious valuables and important documents in a fire safety box for added protection.

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This goes without speaking, but double-check that all doors and windows are locked securely before leaving for your trip.

Have pets? Skip doggie daycare and ask a friend or family member to stay in your home with your furry friends. They’ll be much more relaxed in their own home, and your home will be under watchful eye. 474790839.jpg

Whether your vacation plans are down the road or across the country  ~ go explore ~ you don’t have to travel far to find adventure—in fact, there’s a whole host of new experiences just waiting around every turn.

For more travel safety tips and other travel-related content, be sure to visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/travel

goingplaces

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home Sellers, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Sell, Smart Home Technology, Smart Homes, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Decision to Sell

Your home is a huge part of your life, both financially and emotionally. So the decision to sell your property is not one to be made lightly. You need to determine a marketing strategy. Price the house to attract buyers interest, and there are a million other details to sort out.

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When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price for it with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the percentage of buyers who used the internet in their home search increased to 94%.

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However, the report also revealed that 96% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their homes directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (50%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (36%), or to help understand the process (61%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

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If you’re planning to sell your home, it’s probably crossed your mind to try to sell it yourself and save the sales commission. But, there are some very good reasons why that would be a mistake. According to housing industry experts at HomeGain.com and Realtor.org, more homes listed by real estate agents are sold than homes marketed by owners, and they sell more quickly and for more money. Homes listed by real estate professionals get more exposure and their sellers get more support. Real estate professionals offer many advantages:

  • They’re trained and licensed professionals.
  • They have experience in your neighborhood and your market.
  • They have oversight from brokers and state licensing officials.
  • Their job is to advise you the best way to reach your goals.
  • Their continuing education keeps them up-to-date on housing issues.
  • They know how to present your home and deal with buyers.
  • They know how and where to market properties.
  • They know how to overcome typical snags that occur in all real estate transactions and closings.
  • They understand state-required disclosures and look out for your best interests.
  • They understand personal safety and security for your belongings during showings.
  • They know the best resources to make transactions go more smoothly, from bankers to home-stagers to contractors.
  • They have the most accurate data sources – the MLS, the only data repository that has the most up-to-date listing and sales information.
  • They know how to negotiate.
  • Their job is making real estate transactions successful. When you market your own home, you have to make the time to do all the jobs a real estate professional would do, and you’ll be competing against other sellers who have real estate professionals by their sides. If you can’t leave work to show your home, or you feel it requires more knowledge and experience than you have, you can’t go wrong by hiring a well-respected real estate professional.

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Timing is everything when it comes to selling your house. Luckily, Coldwell Banker Advantage has the information and real estate advantage you need to sell your house with confidence. Contact us today for more information.

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Make the transition a little less RUFF~ How to Prepare Your Home for New Pets

Congratulations! You’re considering getting a pet, or you’re about to bring a new furry friend home to join the family. This is an exciting moment. Of course, it also requires some preparation — part of which includes readying your home for the new addition. Here’s how to prepare your home for new pets:

Kitchens and Bathrooms:

Install childproof locks on your cabinets so your new pet can’t open them and get to potentially dangerous items.

Put anything your pet can reach — medicine, chemicals, etc. — on a high shelf.

Invest in covered trash bins that can’t be knocked over easily.

Keep food and other edibles out of reach.

Living Room:

Hide wires from TVs, stereos and other electronics to prevent animals from chewing on them and shocking themselves.

Hide any small items your pet could chew on or knock over and break.

Move potentially poisonous plants outside, or place them out of reach.

Give them something comfy to lay on, whether it’s a bed on the floor or a blanket on the furniture.

Put machine-washable slipcovers on your furniture.

Certain types of furniture are easier to clean than others; have the right cleaning materials on hand for messes and accidents.

Bedroom:

Put clothes and shoes in closets — and close the door so your pet can’t get to them.

Keep any medications or cosmetic items in drawers.

Any household cleaners that you keep in the master bathroom need to be well-hidden or kept behind childproof locks.

Secure garbage cans with lids or store them underneath cabinets.

Outside:

Keep your animals away from pools or ponds to avoid drowning.

Check your fence for any holes to ensure your pet can’t escape from the yard.

Designate a certain part of the yard as your pet’s bathroom. Keeping it to the same spot helps prevent damage to your bushes or grass.

Move hazardous chemicals and sharp objects to your garage — and keep your pet away from the area.

Other General Areas to Consider:

Windows:

If you can, replace vertical blinds and window treatments that incorporate draping tassels or cords; these could become choking or strangulation hazards.

Avoid using mini-blinds in your home; pets frequently bend and break them when they’re curious and want to see outside.

Walls:

Semi-gloss paint is washable and easy to clean.

Vinyl-backed wallpaper is also easy to clean; you might consider this option in rooms in which your dog may be training.

Floors:

Area rugs are easier to keep clean than carpeting. If you have carpeting, use enzymatic cleaner to eliminate urine and poop smells.

Tile and linoleum flooring are easy for handling pet accidents. Keep this in mind when deciding where to put your pets during the day.

Make sure your hardwood floors are sealed before your pets walk on them.

For more tips on how to prepare a home for pets, check out this article from Adopt a Pet on pet proofing your home.

Posted in Adopt A Pet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Home Buyer, Home Improvement, Home Sellers, Homes for Dogs Project, Millennial Buyers, Millennial Sellers, Millennials Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Sell, Southwest Michigan, Spring, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment