Accessorize It

If your home decor seems stuck in a rut, updating your accessories can bring more spice to your living space. When accessorizing your home, follow these simple tips and tricks from HGTV and

  • Highlight a few favorite accessories at one time. While it’s fun to collect different styles of pillows, artwork and collectibles, displaying them all at one time can overwhelm the room. Try showing only 20 percent of your prized accessories at a given time and change them regularly throughout the year.
  • Highlight a focal point in the room. Perhaps you have a uniquely designed fireplace or mantel or a treasured area rug that you want to showcase. Select a piece of artwork to complement the rug, or display a few photographs of your favorite figurines along the mantel.
  • Chose a color scheme and theme. Before buying accessories, decide on one or two colors that will add visual interest to each room and complement your furniture and wall colors. If your furniture and walls are neutral, choose bold colors for your accessories to create a vibrant look. Accessories can also play up a theme of a room.
  • Group similar items. To create a consistent, balanced look, display accessories in small groupings. Some designers work by the rule of three. For example, a trip of matching mirrors lined up on the wall with a contrasting background can provide a dramatic focal point.
  • Light up your space. Create instant impact by choosing light fixtures that complement the design style of the room. To create a certain mood, use wall sconces, and extravagant chandelier or recessed lighting.

With the right accessories, your home can go from stale to stunning in no time.

Rental Patience

Homeowners who need to move but are struggling to sell their homes are turning to rent-to-own agreements to find prospective buyers. Under these leasing options, which can last from two to five years, owners allow a prospective buyer to move into the home and pay monthly rent. A portion of the rent is set aside to be used as a down payment on the house at a later date.

Financial experts at say credit-challenged renters have the chance to try out the house and neighborhood, while saving for a down payment and building up good credit. They can also lock in a sales prices and terms upfront.

The set-up helps homeowners find an eager buyer and long-term renter who can provide a steady income while caring for the house on the owners behalf. The downside is the possibility that the renter could change their mind and opt out of the agreement, which means the owner must start the process over again.

Rent-to-own arrangements are complex and every state has its own regulations, so it’s advisable for renters to meet with an attorney and real estate agent to understand financial implications. Renters should also meet with a mortgage broker so they know how much they need to qualify for a loan.

Financial experts say both parties should treat the deal the same way as a home purchase. Obtain an appraisal and a home inspection, and owners should require a security deposit and reserve the right to evict renters if they fail to make payments. The contract should also spell out how funds will be held by owners, under what conditions the sale will take place, and who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

With proper planning and due diligence, rent-to-own arrangements can be a viable option for buyers and sellers.

Brought to you buy your agent – a member of the council of residential specialists

Save Me, Super Kitchen

Kitchens have come a long way from linoleum floors and olive-colored appliances that our grandparents had. Today’s kitchens are super-sized and designed for multiple purposes. Sixty-nine percent of owners use their kitchen space for dining, while 49 percent us it for entertaining and 43 percent for socializing, according to a recent study of homeowners by Houzz. The kitchen has become the hub for family activities, such as doing homework, watching TV and reading. Nearly two-thirds of homeowners spend more than three hours a day in their kitchen.

Therefore, today’s homeowners are not skimping on renovations. Nearly one-third of homeowners surveyed spent $25,000 to $50,000 on kitchen renovations and another third spend more than $50,000.

Features that are typically part of living and dining rooms, such as dining tables, chandeliers, TV’s and workspaces, are being added to kitchens Wine refrigerators and built-in coffee stations are popular for entertaining, while custom cabinetry and hardwood floors integrate more seamlessly with the home’s overall design.

As the modern kitchen has continued to evolve, several design trends have emerged:

  • Two-tone kitchen cabinets that mix colors and styles.
  • Black and bronze finishes on stainless steel appliances contribute a sleek, modern look.
  • Deep kitchen drawers help organize dishes and pans.
  • Niche appliances, from steam ovens, warming drawers and inductions cooktops, add luxury and practicality.
  • Kitchen islands with more works[ace and storage, prep sinks and seating are the workhorse of the home.
  • Unexpected combinations of backsplash and countertop finishes can spice up kitchen decor – for example, a brink backsplash with concrete countertops or yellow ceramic tile with butcher block.

The modern “super kitchen” not only improves flow, storage and aesthetics, it also supports family life with style and substance.


Brought to you by your agent – a member of the council of residential specialists.

Walk on Wood

Hardwood flooring is one of the most sought-after features in new and existing homes. This eco-friendly feature can turn your home into a warm and inviting space to relax and entertain. Selecting the right flooring can be a challenge, however, depending on your design style, budget and personal preference. Before choosing a wood floor for your home, here are a few things to keep in mind, courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association:

There are two basic types of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times and can be used in all rooms, including kitchen and powder rooms. Engineered wood is manufactured with multiple layers of wood veneers, so it expands and contracts less than solid wood flooring when temperatures and humidity fluctuate. Engineered wood is a better alternative for basements and other below-ground living areas.

Hardwood floors come in different finishes. Satin gloss offers the most shine and reflects the most light, so scratches and normal wear and tear are less noticeable, while matte finishes offer the least shine.

Light woods like as or maple help make a room appear more open and airy, while darker woods like walnut or mahogany can give a room a more stately and refined appearance.

To keep floors looking new, clean them frequently using a dust mop or vacuum. Avoid using a wet mop as water can dull the finish and damage the wood over time. To prevent scratches, place scatter rugs at all entrances and floor protector pads on the bottom of furniture legs.

When spills occur, wipe them immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth. When floors begin to look dull, us a wood flooring cleaner to renew the luster. Use only products that are compatible with your wood floor type. The wrong cleaning product can damage the finish and possibly the wood itself.

With these simple tips in mind, hardwood floors can provide comfort and enjoyment for many years.

Real Estate Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Thinking about starting a home search or selling your home soon? The 2016 real estate season is upon us, and if you are anticipating a home search, or selling a property, here are some top tips to help you navigate the real estate market in your area this spring or summer.

For Buyers

Don’t go overboard with an offer
While you might be inclined to get into a bidding war over your dream home (the market is pretty competitive), don’t overspend to the point where if the market stabilizes your home will have an overly inflated price and make it difficult to resell in the future. If you plan on living in the property for a long time, paying a high price isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a good idea to set a limit on how high you’re willing to bid for a home.

Start your search ready
If you’re already looking into purchasing a home or property, and you know you’ll need a mortgage, you should already be shopping for a loan. Buyers with a mortgage pre-approval are a step above those that haven’t even looked into loans. You can also have your purchase game by having fewer contingencies or conditions that affect the purchase. If you can start your home search with some of your bases covered, and the ability to be flexible, you’ll already be far ahead of those just entering the real estate race.

New doesn’t mean pristine
While we all dream of buying a brand new home, complete with absolutely no projects, it’s quite common for brand new construction to have issues. The reality is that builders can and do cut corners, and the last thing you want is to invest your money into a brand new home only to find out that certain things were not completed 100 percent. If you’re looking to buy new construction, it’s not a bad idea to hire an independent inspector to make sure your new home is up to all current building codes and standards.

Beware of hidden costs
While you might find a home that is the perfect price for your budget, beware of the hidden costs that come along with buying a property. You may or may not have a mortgage, but you will have yearly property taxes that will either be monthly payments or a large payment once a year. If you do need a mortgage, you can expect an origination fee, and depending on the amount of your down payment or your credit rating, you can also expect to pay private mortgage insurance. You can also expect fees by way of the home inspection, appraisal, and in some communities that will be monthly HOA fees.

Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone
Many buyers have a specific neighborhood, town or city picked out before they begin their property search. With the U.S. real estate market being a competitive as it is for buyers, don’t be afraid to look into areas that are developing when you look for your new home or property. Homes and property prices might likely be lower in developing areas, and if you can find an area where new businesses are being introduced and other amenities will be available, home values may significantly increase over the coming years.

For Sellers

Play to your advantage
The U.S. real estate market is being called a seller’s market, meaning there are more people trying to buy houses and properties than there are actual properties to buy. Because of this, as a seller, you can play to your advantages: you can likely get away with not paying closing costs; you can dictate the terms of the sale and any contingencies a buyer might have; you can entertain multiple offers and choose the best one for you. But in all of this, don’t try to price your property outside of your area – you want to sell your home, not keep it on the market forever.

Know the best areas of your property
If you’re considering selling your property, there are two room updates almost ever buyer appreciates: kitchens and bathrooms. If you have the time and money to invest in updating these two areas of your home, try a basic face lift (you don’t need to go overboard!) Add some fresh paint, clean up the cabinets, and install new lighting or hardware. Make the kitchen and bathrooms pop: buyers always react best to a fresh, clean and clutter free kitchen or bathroom.

Do you have a replacement property picked?
You might be considering selling your home or property – have you started your property search yet? With the market being as competitive as it is, it’s a good idea to start your property search when you put your own property on the market, and sometimes even before. You don’t want to sell before you have a place picked out. If you do find yourself in a bind, you can always work with your agent to make the closing period longer. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you start your property search as soon as possible.

The Benefits of Gardening

It seems as though in the past few years gardening and backyard farms have become more and more popular throughout the United States. With spring quickly approaching in the northeast hemisphere, many homeowners throughout the U.S. will take to the outdoors with the intention of sprucing up winter-wrecked yards. While many homeowners will concentrate on their yard, many others will focus on their backyard gardens. Traditionally, a garden is assumed to be a place to grow fruits and vegetables, but gardens can take on many different looks and styles. Whether mainly for food, or for the beauty and aroma only flowers can produce, home gardens have a number of benefits for homeowners and should you consider giving your yard a revamp this spring, consider adding a garden or small garden area to your outdoor space.

Benefits of Home Gardens
Gardens, whether for the joy of flowers or for fruits and vegetables, come in a number of shapes and sizes. While providing a great sensory experience and a way to reconnect to the natural world around us, gardens also help to keep the body limber and improve overall mood. A study done in the Netherlands suggests that the relaxing nature of gardening can help fight stress, and a study in Norway found that people who suffered from depression and other mood disorders showed measurable improvements in their symptoms after three months of gardening (where six hours per week were spent in the garden). If you’re not interested in the potential health benefits of gardening, adding plants and flowers to your yard is a great way of updating a meager outdoor space and makes a backyard more enticing to potential buyers from additional textures, scents and organization. Also, adding touches of color by way of plants and flowers is an excellent way of improving curb appeal should you consider putting your home on the market in the coming months.

Community Gardens
Don’t have time for an outdoor garden, or are you lacking a space large enough for a garden? There are a number of alternatives to bring the joy of gardening into your home or life. A very popular option that has popped up around the U.S. is community gardens. Located throughout communities from the east to the west, community gardens have helped provide a place of retreat from urban areas plagued by noise, or from those individuals who want a relaxing place to go to when they have free time. Community gardens provide a number of benefits, from a place for recreation and exercise, to providing health benefits by easing stress and helping to improve overall mood. Studies have also shown those who participate in a community garden generally eat healthier, more nutrient dense diets, and a community garden helps to create and foster relationships throughout a community.

Container Gardens
Another option for those who don’t have a yard or outdoor area large enough for a traditional garden is a container garden. Another trend gaining popularity throughout the U.S., container gardens allow homeowners to have small gardens in tight spaces. Plants (which can be anything from traditional flowers and shrubs to fruits, vegetables and herbs) are placed in containers, usually one plant per container, and allow the gardener the ability to choose specific plants for their needs and wants. Only interested in succulents, or just interested in plants that require little water and maintenance? A container garden is a great option. Container gardens can range from small to robust, and they provide an excellent alternative to a traditional garden. Other popular options for ‘alternative’ gardens are hanging gardens and indoor gardens. Those gardens can be fully indoors and very much take on a container garden feel. Container gardens can also help add pops of color to porches and patios, and they are a great way of adding appeal to drab areas for potential home viewings.

Backyard Farm
Do you feel particularly adventurous when it comes to adding a garden or outdoor feature? If you have the time, resources and space, consider a backyard farm. Chickens have becomeĀ  popular backyard feature throughout the U.S., in both urban and rural communities. Chickens can provide a number of benefits to a yard or outdoor area: they act as a natural pest control; they produce eggs; they will eat table scraps as well as weeds and garden clippings, and chicken manure is also considered one of the best fertilizers for gardens due to its high nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous content. While not for every homeowner, backyard chickens can be fun for every member of a household.

What’s the Deal with Flipped Homes?

Americans love their home improvement and design shows. With entire channels dedicated to DIY, home decor and design, and everything related to U.S. real estate, we love the possibilities that lie within the real estate market in America. On popular aspect of many shows and publications in home or house flipping. We hear a lot about flipping homes, but what does that really mean? Is it feasible for everyone? Are there risks? Should you buy a flipped home, and what questions should you ask if your property search lands on a potentially flipped property?

What is Flipping?
Flipping is a predominately U.S. term used to describe purchasing a property with the intent of quickly reselling it for profit. Most of the time, properties that are purchased with the intent to flip are those that are distressed, abandoned, or otherwise in need of repairs that make the property less desirable to other potential buyers. Flipping has become increasing popular throughout the U.S. in the last decade, and many people have become successful real estate flippers with the vast and varied real estate markets throughout the United States.

Can Anyone Flip a Property?
Many programs on television make flipping looking easily attainable to anyone and everyone. The fact remains that flipping a property is risky business that requires a large amount of work, experience, funding (preferably case), excellent credit and a good understanding and almost intuitive knowledge of the real estate market. If you’re interested in flipping properties, the best way to get started is by talking to someone who has experience and has had success in flipping real estate. There are many things to know about flipping real estate that should be addressed before the idea is even entertained.

What are the Risks of Flipping a Home?
There are risks with any kind of real estate investment, but inexperienced flippers can make a number of mistakes. There are a number of costs that come with flipping a property, and new flippers can make the mistake of not having enough money to cover the entire project – from the acquisition of the property, the renovations, taxes, utilities and more. Another risk of flipping properties is time, or lack of time. Finding the right property can take months, and once you own the property there is a time commitment to renovations, commuting, inspections, and ultimately the marketing and selling of the property.

Other risks that new flippers run into are not having enough knowledge about the real estate market and failing to purchase the right property for a flip; a lack of skills when it comes to working on the property and putting in the sweat equity (hard work) required to get in up to market standards; and ultimately lacking patience when it comes to the entire project as a whole.

Should I Buy a Flipped Home?
Often, flipped homes have mostly cosmetic changes done in order to attract buyers and ultimately get the property sold. You might fall in love with fresh paint and brand new appliances, and generally speaking, most flipped homes attract many buyers because they have a smaller initial to-do list than other properties on the market. If you’re looking at a property that can be a flip, be sure to ask these questions: What is the home’s sale history? If the home recently sold for much less than its current asking price, it’s possible it is a flip. Does the outside of the home match what’s inside? If the exterior of the home is older, and the interior looks brand new, it’s very possible someone is trying to flip the property. Information is your best friend when it comes to a flipped home, so getting the most information up front will help guide you towards pursuing the property or not.

If you believe you’re looking at a flipped home, consider asking the seller what changes have been made to the property, and check to see if any permits were issued for the work. Also, some buyers might be blinded by all of the new interior cosmetic updates that they forget about the bones and foundation of the home. Regardless of whether a home is old or new, always hire an experienced and licensed inspector to check over the home to make sure you’re getting the most for your money when it comes to buying a property.