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


(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.


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.


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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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%.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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

A Home with Somebody to Love

Coldwell Banker and Adopt-A-Pet.com renew a partnership to help find homes for adoptable dogs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson most notably penned the phrase “A house is made with walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

While a roof over our head provides shelter, it is the love inside the home that makes it a refuge. While the walls of a house protect us from the elements, it is the love inside the home that protects us from everything else. While the foundation of a house keeps our feet out of the mud, it is the love inside the home that carries us over all of the other obstacles in life.

At Coldwell Banker, our calling is to help people find a place to call home, and if love is what makes a house a home, we wanted our campaign to highlight how even the smallest of things can fill it with love. This year our campaign was created to remind everyone that home is the place where love resides, and those looking to add more love into their lives need only look at adding a small addition to it – a four-legged one.  For the past two years, we have worked with AdoptAPet.com to help find homes for more than 20,000 adoptable dogs. A dog’s unconditional love, eternal forgiveness and innate ability to help you melt the day’s stress away is what can turn any day, regardless of its troubles, into a joyful occasion upon entering that front door.

The physical and emotional shelter that home provides is one of the single greatest investments anyone can make, and adopting a dog into it makes it even more valuable. Find out how you can help find homes for adoptable dogs through the Coldwell Banker Homes for Dogs Project at coldwellbanker.com/homesfordogs.

Whether love is represented by family, friends, passion or even a furry friend, we hope your home is filled with “Somebody to Love.”

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

Housing Market Has Already “Sprung Forward”

The-Difference-a-Hour-Makes-KCMDon’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.

Bottom Line 

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.

Posted in Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Home Buyer, Home Improvement, Home Sellere, 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

Cupid’s Counting Down! Great At-Home Date Night Ideas

at-home-valentines-day-ideasCan 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!valentinespic

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.


Posted in CNet, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Condos, Fall Home Improvement, Father's Day, GoFundMe, 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, Valentines, Where Home Begins | Leave a comment