Jocelyn Bingaman’s Voice of Rett Syndrome


My Coldwell Banker Advantage family asked me to share my story of ‘Home’.

Hi, my name is Jocelyn Bingaman and I am a sassy 12-year-old girl who loves watching movies, listening to music and attending school. I live in St. Joseph, Michigan, with my mom (Cathy), dad (Mike) and dog (Bear).

I have a rare terminal illness called Rett Syndrome.

Rett Syndrome is a neuro developmental disorder affecting girls exclusively. It is characterized by normal early growth and development followed by a slowing of development, loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, problems with walking, seizures, and intellectual disability and many other difficulties.                                           I am unable to talk (although I still rule the roost), walk or care for myself. I used to be able to eat by mouth but this stupid disease took that from me and now I am fed through a feeding tube in my tummy. My amazing parents lovingly care for me 24/7, along with family, friends and caregivers.
Now that I am almost a teenager or diva (as I like to be called), transporting me in a regular car is very difficult as my parents have to lift my cute 100 lb. self and very heavy wheelchair, in and out of the car.  Friends see the strain this has put on all of us physically and want to help us acquire the necessary van with wheelchair lift to get me around while educating others on Rett Syndrome.                                    While we have given Jocelyn a voice, we pray you will read more on Rett Syndrome and help us buy the van with wheel chair lift this family is so in need of.  We had to get their permission to post this because the Bingaman’s were reluctant. This has been a very personal journey they have all taken with no complaints–what a great example of love.

The Coldwell Banker Advantage family asked the Bingaman’s to be able to share with our community their personal journey.  We wish to educate and bring  awareness of Rett Syndrome while at the same time raising funds for our very special child.

Please help us raise $50,000. towards a van with a wheel chair lift.


Here’s an important life lesson: no matter how tough you think your life is there’s always someone who has to face challenges that are even tougher than yours.



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Simple and Cost-effective Ways To Freshen Up Any Room In Your Home

One of the simplest and cost-effective ways to freshen up a room is with a new coat of paint. Unlike painting your house’s exterior, which is a huge undertaking, painting a room is relatively pain-free — if you use the proper supplies and take the correct steps. Good preparation makes the job easier.

 Tools and Supplies1

  • Screwdrivers
  • Drop cloths (canvas and plastic)
  • Ladder
  • Plastic wrap and rubber bands
  • Sponges and clean rags
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Dust mask
  • Spackle or patching compound
  • Putty knife or five-in-one tool
  • Paintable caulk and caulking gun
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Brushes (1½-inch to 3-inch angled and straight-edged)
  • Paint roller, extension handle and tray
  • Paint buckets and glass jars for cleanup
  • Paint thinner or other solvents


First, remove furniture from the room or move it away from the walls. Remove artwork, mirrors, window treatments and electrical outlet switch plates. Cover the floor and any furnishings with drop cloths and tarps to protect them from drips. Cover chandeliers and pendant lights with paper and plastic drop cloths. Attach plastic bags around doorknobs using rubber bands.

Canvas drop cloths are ideal for floors because their rubberized coating prevents dripped paint from seeping through the cloth, says Jeff DuPont of Sound Painting Solutions in Seattle. They also prevent slips.3

A clean wall surface is important so the paint will adhere evenly. Benjamin Moore recommends using a sponge and a mild dishwashing detergent mixed with water to remove dirt from the walls and ceiling. If there are cracks or holes in any of the surfaces, fill them with spackle or caulk, then sand the area smooth.4

To Prime or Not? 

Applying a primer isn’t always necessary if the previous color is light and the surface isn’t damaged. Patched areas can be spot-primed. “We prime all drywall patches, damaged areas and stains. We also prime newly installed drywall, older trim boards, raw wood and dirty or stained walls,” DuPont says. If you do want to prime an entire surface, DuPont recommends using a primer that’s pretinted at half the new color.

Apply painter’s tape along the edges of what won’t be painted, pressing the edges as you go with a putty knife or five-in-one tool. That way if paint overlaps, it will go on the tape, not the surface. As you paint each surface, carefully remove the tape before the paint dries.5

Start With the Ceiling

Paint manufacturers recommend dampening brushes and rollers before painting. Pour paint into a small bucket for doing brushwork and into a tray for using a roller. For brushwork, dip the brush about a third of the way into the paint and tap it against the inside of the bucket to remove excess paint.

Using a 2-inch or 2½-inch trim brush, start by “cutting in” — painting a 3- to 4-inch-wide strip on the ceiling where it meets the wall, starting in a corner and working your way around the room.

Switch to a roller with an extension handle to paint the main part of the ceiling. Be sure to remove excess paint from the roller by slowly rolling it over the ridges of the paint tray.

Roll on paint in a “W” pattern about 3 feet wide. Without adding more paint or lifting the roller, fill in the “W,” blending the paint into the cutting-in line. Continue painting across the ceiling in this “W” pattern, loading the roller with paint as needed, until the ceiling is covered.6

The “W” technique helps evenly distribute paint on the wall, according to Behr. Benjamin Moore recommends working across the width of the ceiling, rather than the length, rolling across the body (horizontally rather than vertically) to avoid back and neck strain.

Paint the Walls7

After the ceiling dries completely (latex paints generally take four hours to dry; oil-based paints need 24 hours), apply painter’s tape where needed and paint the walls one at a time. Use the cutting-in technique to paint a strip along the edges at the ceiling, baseboards, doors and windows on the first wall. Switch to the roller and use the “W” technique to paint the rest of the wall. Repeat this brush-and-roller process for each wall.

Paint the Trim Last

After the walls are completely dry, apply painter’s tape to the walls and floor around the trim, pressing it firmly in place.8

A smaller brush, about 2 to 2½inches wide, is best for wainscoting, baseboards and the trim around doors and windows. Use long strokes to cover the trim.

For painting the edges, DuPont recommends dry-brushing over the painter’s tape, which will prevent the paint from seeping under the tape. To dry-brush, use very little paint on the brush and do an extra coat or two.

9Touch-Up Tips

DuPont recommends checking the paint about 10 minutes after applying to make sure there are no runs (drips). “If there are, you’ll want to make sure you roll or brush these out,” he says. “Any necessary touch-ups should be performed within a day or two at most to prevent flashing [shiny or dull spots] or paint not blending.”10

How Many Coats? 

Two coats is the standard when painting a room. Be sure to wait two to four hours between coats, DuPont advises. “With some trim paints, it can be a 24-hour recoat time, as with some oil-based products. Always check the product instructions to be certain,” he says.

After you finish painting, clean your brushes, rollers and other tools with soap and water or paint solvent, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour any remaining paint back in its cans and reseal the cans.

Source: Houzz

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Selling Your House? Easy Tips to Help Make Your Home Show Ready At A Moments Notice!

Selling your house? Those frequent showings can be a real hassle. You know it’s worth it to do your best to accommodate them, but that doesn’t make it any easier! Here are some easy tips to help keep your house show ready to prospective buyers more doable, plus a handy checklist of what to remember.1

  1.  Treat yourself to fresh flowers and other goodies.A bouquet of flowers, a bowl of fresh fruit, the “fancy” soap: These things make your home look extra lovely for potential buyers, but (here’s the secret) they make your daily life a bit better as well. So go ahead and splurge a little — you (and your house) deserve it.

Budget tip: Make a grocery store bouquet go further by snipping a few blooms short and plunking them in bud vases for the bathroom vanity and bedside tables. Or, for a longer-lasting alternative, consider setting out a few small potted succulents and a bowl of bright lemons.

  1.  Make a pre-showing checklist.It’s easy to forget things in the rush to get out the door before the real estate agents show your house. A checklist that you can reference each time will ensure that your home is putting its best face forward for potential buyers. And remember, if you have a large household, you may not always be the last one to leave before a showing, so it’s important that everyone’s on the same page and knows what to do.2

Since you probably don’t want this checklist on display, consider keeping it on your phone instead. Here are some items to include:

  • Dishes washed and put away
  • Kitchen counters and table wiped down
  • Dirty clothes in hampers with lids on
  • Bathroom sink and mirror wiped clean and toilet seats down
  • Hair removed from shower
  • Toys put away in baskets and bins
  • Coffee table cleared and clean
  • Entry cleared of shoes and personal items
  • Window shades open
  1. Make your bed as soon as you wake up. If you’re not in the habit of making your bed every morning, you may want to start now, so you don’t have to worry about it if the real estate agent calls to request a last-second showing. If you have kids, be sure they make their beds in the morning too.3
  1. Hide laundry in a lidded hamper. An open hamper filled with dirty laundry isn’t the sort of thing you want prospective buyers to be greeted with in your bedroom, right? Get a hamper with a lid to conceal the whole rumpled mess instead. (In a pinch, you can use a storage bench.)4
  1. Put nightstand drawers to work. After making your bed, be sure to tuck out of sight any odds and ends that have accumulated around your nightstand, such as magazines, hand cream and jewelry. If your nightstand doesn’t have drawers, keep a lidded box under the bed or atop the dresser, and stash your stuff in there before leaving for the day.5
  1. Simplify children’s rooms. Ifit’s too difficult or takes too long, putting away toys in your child’s room before showings will become a headache for all involved. Simply pack many of them in boxes or bins and tuck them in a closet or storage area, leaving only ones that fit easily within your current toy storage. This way, even if all those toys were strewn over the floor, it wouldn’t take more than about 10 minutes to get the room looking presentable again.6
  1. Stash cleaning wipes in the bathroom. Reusable microfiber cloths for normal everyday cleaning are great, but when you’re selling your house, things are decidedly not normal. It’s incredibly helpful to have a pack of cleaning wipes within reach for wiping down the sink, faucets and around the toilet. Then you can just toss the wipe in the wastebasket and walk away.7
  1. Keep a spare stack of fresh towels on hand. A neatly folded stack of fluffy white towels can make any bathroom look instantly fresher, cleaner and more spa-like. While selling our house, keep a few new white towels folded in the cupboard and put them out before showings. It sounds fussy, but it was actually less stressful than worrying about whether the towels were clean all the time.8
  1. When in doubt, add more baskets. Honestly, it’s so easy to scoop stray items into baskets and close the lids, you’ll be glad to have a few extras. Big baskets are great for clothes, blankets and toys, while small baskets and lidded boxes work well for papers, magazines and random assorted clutter.

  By Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, 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

The Road to a Neighbor’s House is Never Long.

Whether you rent a city apartment or own a family home in the countryside, live miles away from your nearest neighbor or are situated close enough to chat from your own back patio—you can make small changes in your community every day by quite simply just acting in a neighborly way.

The importance of being a good neighbor extends far beyond improving bonds with those you live closest to. In fact, Harvard professor and author Robert D. Putnam says, “Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbors on a first-name basis, as National Neighborhood Day suggests, is a surprisingly effective first step toward a better America.”

So to help inspire the practice of neighborly ways in your own community, we’ve gathered a list of top things good neighbors do:

  1. Take the time to establish good terms and build relationships with all neighbors.

    Great neighbors make their communities friendlier and safer, while improving the overall quality of life for themselves and those who surround them.good-neighbor-day-e1429128955705-804x382

  2. Pay it forward.

    Every time a neighbor does something nice, he or she pays it forward to at least two other neighbors. Even simple things—like clearing a neighbor’s driveway before he or she gets the chance to, offering up a piece of lawn equipment to save a neighbor valuable time, or bringing along an extra latte on your morning walk to work—can have a huge impact on a neighborly relationship.

  3. Do your part.

    Keeping the neighborhood looking beautiful is a community effort, and good neighbors keep all spaces that are visible by others clean and well maintained. They keep up with basic yard work, making sure that the lawn is mowed, hedges are trimmed, and weeds are kept at bay; they understand that these tasks not only impact the value of their house, but also the homes around it.

  4. Follow up with seasonal maintenance.

    This includes sweeping up leaves in the fall, shoveling sidewalks and driveways in the winter, and cleaning up lawn clippings during warmer months. The neighbors that brighten up their outdoor space with flowers and other landscaping set the precedent for the rest of the street.

  5. Be tidy.

    Good neighbors take care to put their trash out on the right night, and in proper receptacles, so that the whole street doesn’t see (or smell) what they’ve tossed.

  6. Be conscientious about outdoor decor.

    Decorating for the holidays is a great way to spruce up an outdoor space, but make it a house rule that your haunted houses and lights come down within a few weeks of the holiday passing.

  7. Don’t fight for the right to party.

    When having additional people over, the noise level can go up very quickly. The most courteous neighbors inform others of get-togethers, and ask to let them know if the gathering has gotten too loud. Better yet, they invite all the neighbors to the party!

  8. Take an active presence in change and community decisions.Picnic-1024x721

    Caring neighbors stay informed on community issues and make it a point to vote. It’s likely that you and your neighbors have busy lives and schedules, but if the community comes together as a group, change can happen more efficiently, and issues can be resolved more quickly. Plus, just showing up at community meetings and offering input shows that they care about the community and the people who share it.

  9. Show respect.

    Good neighbors teach their kids what both literal and figurative boundaries mean by explaining where their property ends and the neighbor’s begins, and any rules that go along with that. They also reinforce the concept that being on one side of the property line doesn’t mean noise levels can be ignored.

  10. Know how to bring people together.

    If their community doesn’t already have a method of sharing news, good neighbors would start a neighborhood e-mail list as a means of staying in communication with all of the neighbors in one fell swoop; and the best part is, once it is started, they don’t have to be the only one who keeps the momentum going. Any participating neighbor can spread the word about news, events, crimes, special garbage pickups, special event parking restrictions, weather hazards, school closings, and even the awesome weekly deal at the local market.

Eventually, the positive energy that these good neighbors spread will create a ripple effect of random acts of kindness and make the community a happier place to live. The next time new neighbors move in, consider welcoming the newcomers with a friendly hello and some local insider tips to quickly become the favorite neighbor on the block. The road to a neighbor’s house is never long.

Source: American Lifestyle Magazine

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, 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 | Leave a comment

Here’s to dad and all the magical things that come with him.


Here’s to playing catch in the backyard and jumping on him while he’s still in bed. Here’s to that time he tried to cook dinner when mom was gone and all the junk food he let you eat instead.


Here’s to the snoring when he falls asleep on the couch. Here’s to the father who can echo your name from any corner of home which could mean you’re either in trouble or it’s time to go. Here’s to dads at the kitchen table for homework time and the rides home from whatever sport, lesson or sleepover you’re coming from.


Here’s to his laying claim of the remote and that favorite spot on the couch or a special chair for his throne. Here’s to the dad who knows how to wrestle in the family room and break up a skirmish in the yard.


Here’s to dad’s cutting the lawn and cleaning the gutters or squashing bugs on the kitchen floor. Here’s to the father who watches over you when your sick and spoils you when you’re well. Here’s to the traditions made by dad in your home that still remains now that you have one of your own.


Here’s to dad’s driving lessons in the driveway and bike riding training down the block. Here’s to dad’s who act as your home’s amateur plumber, IT guy and official dog walker. Here’s to the bear hugs, the talking-to’s and public displays of affection that you once spurned but in hindsight causes you to love him more.

Here’s to the dad in your home and the special day we reserve for him.


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who help make a house a home.

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Father's Day, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Improvement, 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, Spring, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Tagged | Leave a comment

Flying ‘Old Glory’ this Summer? How to do it right


Summer isn’t just the season of baseball, barbecues, vacation and fresh produce. It’s also flag season. Three of the country’s most important patriotic holidays – Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day – arrive with summer, and across the nation proud Americans will show their patriotism by displaying the American Flag.

But will they do it properly?

“Fewer symbols inspire more patriotism and pride than the American Flag, and displaying it is a wonderful way to show respect not only for our country, but for all those in uniform who have defended it throughout our history,” says Larry Singleton, decor manager for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, which displays an American Flag beside the fireplace in every restaurant. “Honoring our nation’s Flag Code guidelines can make the display of the flag an even more poignant and patriotic gesture.”

The federal law known as the “Flag Code” establishes a guide for handling and displaying Old Glory. If you’ll be showing your T_WithZoomAmerican pride this year by displaying the flag or decorating with bunting, here’s a thumbnail review of the code’s guidelines so you can be confident in all you do:

* It’s OK to display the flag ’round the clock, but you should illuminate it during nighttime hours. If you’re not able to light the flag at night, the code recommends displaying only between sunrise and sunset.

* Hoist it briskly and lower it slowly and ceremoniously.

* Be sure to bring your flag in out of rain or snow – unless it’s made of an all-weather material, in which case it’s OK to leave it out in inclement weather.

* If you would like to display a flag on your car or truck, affix it to the chassis or clamp it to the right front fender.

* Many Americans are also proud of their ethnic origins and may choose to display the flag of their heritage along with the American Flag. That’s fine; just be sure that the U.S. flag is displayed higher up, or if the flags are on the same level, the other flag should be placed to the left of the American Flag, never to the right.

* The blue and white stars field – known as “the union” – should flags_porchalways be up: at the top of the flag if it’s on a staff or pole, uppermost and to the observer’s left if the flag is being displayed horizontally or vertically against a wall. Displaying the flag with the union down is a signal of dire distress and reserved for instances of extreme danger to life or property.

* The flag should be kept from touching the ground, floor, water or anything beneath it.

* Flag-themed decor can add a welcome patriotic touch to your home, but it’s best not to get carried away and use the American Flag as bedding or drapery.

61-PBxC5bUL._SY300_* Bunting is an acceptable patriotic display; arrange it with the blue portion at the top, the white in the middle and the red at the bottom.

* When a flag becomes worn and is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way. One way to do that is to give the flag to a local VFW for proper disposal.

“Americans show their patriotism and American pride in a number of ways, from buying red, white and blue products to placing flags Home-of-the-free-because-of-the-braveand flowers on the graves of veterans,” Singleton says. “Displaying the American Flag in a respectful manner is one more way Americans can honor their country this summer and all year long.”

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home for the Holidays, Home Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Agents, Relocation, Residential Real Estate, Southwest Michigan, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot tips for buying a home in a competitive market


As the weather gets warmer and school comes to a close, the real estate market also heats up. If you’re planning on buying a home, you’ll likely find more properties on the market during the summer months. However, increased competition could present challenges on the path to landing the home of your dreams.

To get an edge against other bidders and find a house that you’ll love for many years to come, Sharon Steele, an award winning sales professional affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, lends her expertise for home buying in a hot market.

Get pre-approved financing

040313-national-money-computer-paying-bills-couple-financeIn a competitive real estate market, prepare yourself with pre-approved financing. Not only will your mortgage broker tell you what you can afford, if you are pre-approved, you will have better negotiating power when purchasing a property.

Furthermore, when you know exactly what you can afford, you are more apt to stick within your budget and not be carried away during bidding wars. Remember, it’s important to understand the total monthly costs of home ownership. Beyond the mortgage premiums, factor in utilities, taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Being “house poor” is never a good idea.

Look for potential

18xfcz4i4qro9_19AgentsOutside2302If you’re looking at purchasing a home that needs a little elbow grease, make sure you invest in a design that is going to withstand the test of time and be appealing for years to come. This rings true most of all when choosing the right appliances; stainless steel has been highly desirable for decades and continues to be a mainstay in a timeless kitchen design. 

As long as the house has a good structure, the space you need, and meets your immediate must haves, you can add special elements over time to make it your dream home. 

Consider long-term needscropped-03b0da395bfb5d0393d07c3723cb3385.jpg

Are you planning to grow your family in the near future? Then you may want to shop for a larger house in need of some work rather than that completely updated two-bed bungalow; it may not meet your needs in the next five years.

Are you looking to downsize? It might make sense to consider a ranch home before your knees start to hurt and you dread climbing stairs. Purchasing a home will be one of your largest investments; make sure your decision matches your future lifestyle expectations rather than just the needs of the present moment.

Do research in advance

00386415Do you need easy access to the commuter rail and bus lines? Where will your children attend school? Is the area safe? Use websites like and to hone in on neighborhoods that best suit you and your family. These websites have area maps and direct links to information about school systems, crime rates, area amenities, and lists of local restaurants and shopping areas. View side-by-side community comparisons for easy evaluation. Put in your search parameters and sign-up to receive property alerts on new homes that enter the market or when prices change in your desired neighborhood.

A competitive market can make the home buying process more stressful, but these expert tips will keep you focused as you prepare to move into your new home.

Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home Improvement, 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, Spring, Technology in Homes, Uncategorized, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment