Don’t forget to set your clocks forward this Sunday, March 12th at 2:00 AM EST in observance of Daylight Savings Time. Unless of course, you are a resident of Arizona or Hawaii!
Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market has already “sprung forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.
Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.
Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.
That hasn’t happened this year.
Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows.
Every hour in the United States: 649 homes are sold, 177 homes regain equity (meaning they are no longer underwater on their mortgage), and the median home price rises $1.86.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2016 all fell in April, May or June.
Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.
If you are planning on selling your home in 2017, discover your real estate advantage and meet with one of our Coldwell Banker Advantage Realtors to evaluate the opportunities in our marketplace.
Can you believe it?! Tuesday is Valentine’s Day! Yes, it’s the day Hallmark is king and restaurants are filled to the brim. If you haven’t made dinner reservations yet, you may be standing for hours at the door. For many of us, knowing that Valentine’s Day is the busiest night of the year for restaurants, we have choose to stay home and keep the home-fire burning instead. Think you might want to do the same? If so, then maybe some of these at-home date night ideas may be an inspiration for you as well. After all, the cost is usually cheaper, the atmosphere is often quieter, and the intimacy has no limits…well, unless you still have kids awake. In that case, I’d just send them to bed early with a good book!
Here is to a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Spend the night on the living room floor. Set up the air mattress. Roast marshmallows in the fireplace. Have a picnic dinner on the floor.
Make dinner together. Choose the menu and get the ingredients ahead of time, then have fun cooking, taste-testing, and eating together.
Have a board game night. Choose a favorite board game and feel free to play the traditional way or with an extra romantic twist. The choice is yours.
Watch a romantic movie together.
Turn your living room into a ballroom. Move the furniture out of the way, turn on the music and dance like prom night all over again. Don’t know how to dance? Rent an instructional DVD from your local library and use the night to learn together!
Read a book together. It could be something as romantic as a book on marriage or a silly as a favorite picture book from your childhood.
Set the mood. Think candles. Think flowers. Think multiple-courses or fondue. What would you expect to see and taste at a fancy restaurant? Try to recreate that atmosphere around your own dining table. For extra gusto you may even want to dress up in your finest attire. Woowee!
Revel in wedding day memories.This one will probably mean more to us girls than our hubbies but looking at old wedding albums or watching our wedding video is a great way to rekindle the fires.
Enjoy hot chocolate/tea/coffee on the back porch together.There’s nothing like sitting together in the peace and enjoyment of God’s creation to build a deeper level of communication.
Get your sport on. While it may not sound very romantic to start, playing soccer in the backyard or a round of H.O.R.S.E. in front of the basketball goal does wonders for relationships.
Give each other a massage.
Play a video game together.I remember when Goose and I used to do this when we were first married. We loved it. I think this may be one of our choices for Thursday, no doubt!
Create a campfire in the backyard or light up the grill. Roast hot dogs, wrap up in a warm blanket and just enjoy watching the fire burn.
Go star gazing. Put a blanket on the ground or wrap up in sleeping bags in your backyard and just enjoy gazing at the stars.
Go back and read your journals, letters, and memos from when you were dating.
Have a karaoke night. Get out your favorite romantic songs and have fun lip-syncing to each other.
Order in. Have pizza or Chinese delivered but be sure to use the chopsticks
Have a spa night. Think bubble bath…foot massages…the works!
Put a puzzle together, then glue and frame it.
Create sugar cookies. Bake them. Decorate them. And eat them. For an added Valentine’s Day flare you could even write your own little sweetheart messages on top and exchange them.
Write your lifelong bucket list together.
Look through your old high school yearbooks or baby photo albums together.
Get artistic. Try drawing or painting each other’s portraits and then framing them!
Make a list of all the places you want to visit together were money no limit.
Create a blueprint of your dream house.
Have a dessert cook-off. Each of you find a new dessert recipe you’d like to try, bake them side-by-side in the kitchen, and then taste test them both to see which you like better.
Write a gratitude list together. Make a list of everything you are thankful for as a couple and then tell God about it!
Create a love scavenger hunt
Have dinner on your roof. Talk about something you’d never forget. Make sure the roofline isn’t too steep though.
Choose a new hobby to try out together. For added inspiration you can always check out the World’s Longest List of Hobbies.
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.
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.
- Drop cloths (canvas and plastic)
- 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
- Painter’s tape
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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:
Take the time to establish good terms and build relationships with all neighbors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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