Author Archives: AnnJonesRealty

moving-checklist

Moving Checklist

The best way to organize your move is to set your move-in date then use this guide to keep you on track from two months right up until you move. If you wait until the last minute, you might find yourself stuck renting a U-Haul and begging friends to tote your boxes for pizza and beer. There’s a better way.

First, determine your move date, then get busy with this checklist.

60 days before move

  • Sort, purge and donate – Make sure you only move things you want, need, and use. Start by tossing out anything damaged, donate what can be, give away items, and purge the unusable.
  • Find a mover – The process is more intense for a long-distance move, and it pays to start early. Check reviews for customer complaints of lost/broken items. Narrow to three options, interview, then decide.
  • Make a moving journal – Both digital and paper records are helpful. Create a spreadsheet to track due dates, the checklist, and to-dos. Use a paper journal to jot notes as you go, so nothing falls in the cracks.
  • Organize records – Locate all your critical documents, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. School, shot, and vet records, passports, birth certificates, etc.

45 days before move

  • Gather moving supplies – You can buy, but why? Craigslist and Freecycle often have free boxes and packing stuff from others that recently moved. Otherwise, buy what you need
  • Start paring back – It’s time to look again at what you can cull after the initial purge. Offer unwanted items on LetGo to get them out of the way, do another round of donations, and organize.
  • Measure and plan – Measure your new space and furniture. Find out what will fit and decide what to shed, replace, and buy. Apps like Amikasa, Home Design 3D, and Rooms are helpful.
  • Pack up out-of-use items – Pack things you won’t miss. Start with out-of-season clothes, décor, books, and rarely-used items. Label and stack boxes by room.

30-days

  • Confirm mover arrangements – Choose your mover, sign the contract, and pay the deposit. Consider moving insurance, but first, check with your renters or homeowners policy to see if they cover moving loss.
  • Pack and label – Begin serious packing. Take pictures off walls, pack up clothes, and start boxing up the kitchen including appliances and less-used items. Label and sort boxes by room.
  • Register change of address – Change your address with: bank, credit cards, magazines, insurance company(s), employer, and set up a change of address and mail forward with the USPS. See when you can get your driver’s license changed.
  • Change bills – Update digital subscriptions if they require zip code info for credit card processing. Go through your bank statements to jog your memory. If you change banks, reset auto-payments as well.

15-days

  • Secure your records and valuables – In addition to your critical records, identify valuables you don’t want to misplace while moving. Identify and organize jewelry, portable heirlooms, and items of particular value.
  • Get time off work and clear your calendar – Schedule time off a day before and after your move and clear your social calendar. You’ll be busy and exhausted and don’t need distractions during your move.
  • Confirm movers and engage critical services – Reconfirm the mover. Set up utilities at your new place. Most services can be engaged quickly. Turn new services on several days before your move and shut off the old a day after.
  • Order new furniture/mattress – Order needed new items. Is your mattress fit to move? (See below). Shopping online for a mattress is convenient. If possible, schedule delivery a day or two before your move, so it’s ready and waiting at your new place.

1-week

  • Clean and repair – If you’re renting, it’s time to scour everything, putty nail holes, and break out the carpet cleaner, so you get your security deposit refunded. If you’re selling your house, cleaning and touch-up paint is just the start.
  • Refill medications – Make sure you have enough medication on-hand and don’t pack it – take it with you. Keep a first aid kit out for any moving incidents and prep other necessities.
  • Donate unused food – If you have perishables, you might not want to move them. Eat your leftovers, use what’s in the freezer and donate food you can’t consume. Canned and non-perishables are great to move.
  • Pack up everything else – With just a week to go, do your laundry, pack up everything except toiletries and some clothes. You can switch to takeout and paper plates so that you can pack most of your kitchen, too.

    moving-day

    Get a good night’s sleep – If you follow the checklist and are organized, there’s no reason to stay up late worrying. Get to bed at a reasonable time for a full night’s rest. Keep a notepad at your bedside for last-minute notes.

  • Dispose of mattress – Moving is a great time to get a new or larger mattress if needed. Schedule pick-up of your old one.
  • Hand-carry valuables and documents – For the things you can’t afford to be misplaced, keep them with you. Hand-carry your passport, birth certificate, and critical documents plus jewelry and other valuables.
  • Monitor the movers closely – Keep an eye on the movers to ensure your things are handled carefully and nothing goes missing (or misappropriated). Have cash on hand to distribute gratuities at the end for a job well done.

Article courtesy of Tuck.com

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home-selling-goals

How to Meet Your Home-Selling Goals

Whether you’re selling your home for the first time or the fifth, your goals stay the same: Attract buyers and secure a good sales price. Take these simple steps to reach your home-selling goals.

price-it-right

A REALTOR® can access reliable market data to help you determine the right price for your home. And when your home is priced properly for the market, you will get more interest from buyers. A home priced too low for the market may mean a quicker sale, but it also means you’ll be missing out on extra cash. Finding the sales price sweet spot is how you’ll meet your goals.

keep-it-nice

You might be surprised at how many sellers don’t de-clutter or make basic repairs before listing their home. Even in a seller’s market, buyers won’t make it past your listing photos if they are less appealing than others. Simple changes—like potted plants on the porch and a new coat of paint for the front door—can help make your home more marketable. Talk to your REALTOR® about what appeals to buyers in your market.

be-flexible

A REALTOR® will try to accommodate your schedule, but you should be realistic about having potential buyers see your home. Weekend and evening showings are helpful for prospects with a 9-to-5 job. And if your area attracts people relocating, they might only be in town for a few days with a compressed schedule. Most important: Give buyers space. It’s hard to get a feel for a property when an anxious seller is following you around during a showing. Your REALTOR® can help you meet buyers’ showing expectations.

A REALTOR® can help you market your home effectively to attract buyers and secure a good sales price.

 

Article courtesy of the Texas Association of REALTORS®

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2019-resolutions

5 Home Resolutions to Improve Your Lifestyle in 2019

In honor of the New Year, for our first post of 2019 we have compiled this list of resolutions that will help you make your home more beautiful, eco-friendly, and easier to maintain that ever:

clear-the-clutter

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter.

Each year, especially around the holidays, most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets, drawers, and even surfaces start to overflow. Eventually, it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)

This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in; fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of things that drain your energy or are broken,” she says.

Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays for a modern look.

Clear your counters of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.

safe-and-sound

Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they’re not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk.

First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. And with test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there’s no reason not to get right on that.

While we’re on the subject of deadly gas, install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.

Watch out for dryer lint. We know you clean the little trap inside the door, but most people neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it’s highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year.

Make sure your house can breathe. Many people’s bathrooms and attics aren’t vented to the outside (or the vents are covered over with shingles.) This makes you a prime candidate for mold.

And if you’re considering a remodel, consider testing for lead paint and asbestos flooring. It will have to handled properly during removal, or particles can be released into the air for you to ingest.

lower-bills-go-green

When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference. But all it really takes is a little good old-fashioned common sense.

The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:

– Remember your mom’s advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room.

– Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.

– Install LED bulbs and low-flow shower-heads.

– Try drying some of your clothes on the line. Also, wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.

– Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.

– Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.

– Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.

clean-schedule

Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control from Jeff Campbell, author of the book Speed Cleaning.

Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night – no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:

– Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths – in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.

– Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, cloths and plastic bags in an apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)

– Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.

– For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties. One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, another can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.

prepare-to-entertain

Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?

You don’t have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates, says designer McCormick.

McCormick also suggests the addition of plants, as they are an easy update that makes your home seem more “finished”.

“They bring in new energy and help clean the air,” she says. “And it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget.”

A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter can do the wonders.

Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

We hope these tips and tricks help make your 2019 a happy and healthy year!

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fix-up-2

Improve the Value of Your Home

Hello!

Here are 8 easy ways to make your home more valuable:

home-inspection

To increase your home’s value, you’ll need to know where to start. A home inspection will uncover non-cosmetic improvements your home may need, such as a termite problem or outdated electrical system. A home inspector can tell you about any hidden issues you may have been unaware of and recommend solutions.

curb-appeal-valuable

If you are looking to make cosmetic improvements to your home, we recommend starting with the outside. The street view of your home is it’s first chance to make a good impression. Of course, fixing any obvious defects is the first step, but there is more you can do to enhance your home’s value. The front door is often the focus point from the curb and is easily updated by putting on a fresh coat of paint or installing a new doorknob. A cheerful welcome mat and porch furniture are inviting. A mailbox can be upgraded for as low as $20. Adding complimentary house numbers and brighter exterior lighting will improve the overall look of your home while making it easier to locate. And of course…

landscape

Landscaping is a low-cost, high-return investment. Front yard greenery is an eye-catcher, so if your yard is lacking, plant a tree, shrubbery, or flowers. We recommend native and/or drought-resistant plants. These require less maintenance and expense. If you’ve already got plants, keeping them trimmed and tidy boosts appeal significantly.  An investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping can bring a return of four times that, according to a 2007 survey done by HomeGain.

let-in-the-light

Lighting is essential to your home’s appeal. There are many options for improving the lighting in your home. Dimmers are great for setting the mood. Sun tubes allow in natural light without the expense and exposure of skylights. Use high wattage bulbs to make small spaces feel larger and soft lights to make empty rooms feel warmer.

paint-valuable

A simple and cost-effective improvement, painting is a go-to upgrade that any home can benefit from. Freshly painted walls make rooms look clean and updated, which is a huge boost to your home’s value. Painting also helps shield your home’s surfaces from wear and tear. We recommend neutrals because they are the most universally appealing and are the best choice if you intend on selling soon.

breathe-easy

Improving the air quality in your home is a subtle but important task. Smell is one of our strongest senses and is directly tied to our subconscious. A pleasant smell can make all the difference in people’s impression of your home.

Carpets and rugs are infamous for trapping dirt and odors. To improve air quality, get your carpets professionally cleaned or replace them with hard flooring such as laminate, tile, or wood.

open-up

Of course square footage affects the value of a home, but did you know that the visual space, or how large the home feels, can too? We’ve got a few tricks for making small rooms appear larger and more spacious.

First, replace heavy curtains and drapes with blinds or shutters. Vertical blinds will make the room seem taller, and letting sunshine in makes any space feel more airy. Mirrors are also a great way to trick the eye into seeing more than is actually there. A single large mirror or a collection of mirrors on one wall does wonders. Last, but certainly not least, clear as much clutter as you can. The more stuff is in a room, the more cramped it feels. Installing shelving in an underused space is a great way to add value, since it both declutters and is valuable in itself.

go-green

Energy-efficiency is the “next big thing” in home updates. Not only are these updates environmentally-friendly, they save you a ton of money in utility costs and are a big draw for buyers. There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a green update. We recommend LED lights since they’re one of the easiest and most inexpensive boosts. If your heating or air-conditioning systems are old, then an upgrade to a newer model could save you up to 30% or 40% in electricity costs!

money

Paying for these updates is nothing to brush off. It’s important to consider your finances and future when investing in home improvement. Check out these options for financing your project. Your choice should also limit the amount of interest you’ll pay for your home improvements.

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halloween-tips

Last Minute Halloween Tips

Welcome back!

You’ve probably seen and heard plenty of advice about how to trick-or-treat safely, but you may not have heard  how to make your home a safe place for trick-or-treaters. Halloween is only 5 days away (!) and we’re here with 3 easy, last-minute tips and ideas you for prepping your home for this evening holiday.
clear-the-curb

We put this tip first on the list because it is probably the most important piece of advice we can offer this Halloween. Do your best to move your parked cars away from curbs. Four times as many children pedestrians are injured, and twice as many killed, on Halloween compared to a normal night. Cars parked in front of houses make it harder for parents to keep their kids in sight. They also block drivers’ view of the little ghosts, superheros, and ninjas running around in excitement. The simple act of moving your parked car to an alley or side yard can increase visibility and help keep our little ones safe.

Speaking of visibility…

Light it up on Halloween

In addition to letting people know you’re “open for business”, brighter lights illuminating your front porch and yard makes trick-or-treating safer all around. Temporarily replacing your regular bulbs with higher wattage is an easy way to make your home safer. Trick-or-treaters can see where they’re going and parents can more easily keep track of their children. As the night goes on, lights can also help protect your home from tricks like being toilet-papered or egged.

We also suggest using decorative lighting to make your front yard easier to navigate. You can use colorful floodlights, string lights in plastic pumpkins, or orange and purple lights in windows as spooky decorations. (Bonus tip: use LED lights in your pumpkin instead of candles. They’re not a fire hazard and will last longer anyway.)

dont-slip

Unfortunately, weather forecasts are telling us that this Halloween is going to be a wet one. We recommend applying friction tape to your stairs and sidewalk to prevent slips and falls. You can get a 240 inch roll for about $3 at Walmart.

We hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

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halloween-fun

Fun Halloween Events in Brown County

Welcome Back!

Autumn is one of the best times of year for spending quality time with friends and family. Brown County, and the surrounding area, is a beautiful place made better by an active and friendly community. We’re so excited for all the Fall fun that we went ahead and made a list of 5 of the (mostly) Halloween events we’re looking forward to in the coming weeks – though these are by no means the only events happening in Brown County! Without further ado, we present:

 house-and-hunt events

October 19th & 20th, 26th & 27th, 7 pm to 11 pm                                                  Brown County Museum of History 209 N Broadway Street, Brownwood

There’s nothing quite like a haunted house when it comes to Halloween fun. This fundraiser for the Brown County Museum of History provides you with options. The clown-themed haunted house will scare the pants off of any brave souls who dare to go in. For younger or more timid individuals, we suggest you get in the spirit with the just-a-little-spooky, family-friendly Scavenger Hunt.

lock-in

October 26th @ 7 PM to October 27th @ 7 AM | 300 Early Blvd Suite 100A, Early

If you have kids 8 years or older, then they’ll probably love going to the Halloween Lock-in at Gator’s Fun Factory. Kids will enjoy a scream contest, mummy wrap games, “witch’s brew”, skating, and a costume contest where the winner will take home a 12-month free skating pass. For the parents left at home that evening, we suggest using this brief respite to enjoy a little Saturday night rest and recuperation.

escape-the-museum halloween fun

October 27th & 31st, 5 PM to 9 PM | 700 E Adams, Brownwood

The Lehnis Railroad Museum is hosting its first ever Halloween event, and we cannot wait! Guests will be trying to escape from the hexes of “Roundhouse Rose”, who was “trapped in the museum by conductor Lehnis”. The museum staff drew from murder mysteries, escape rooms, and treasure hunts to create the challenge and it sounds like a blast!
trick-or-treat fun

October 31st, 5 PM to 7 PM | Depot Plaza, 600 E. Depot Street, Brownwood

We recommend the annual Trick or Treat Trail as your first stop this All Hallow’s Eve. Local business and organizations will gather in Depot Plaza to provide candy, games, goodies and fun activities. Also, don’t forget to wear your costume and sign up for to compete for a trophy in one of 6 categories.

hpu-football

November 2nd & 3rd | Gordon Wood Stadium, 3206 Milam Drive, Brownwood

Once the Halloween fun is over, we’ve got the rest of the season to pursue other Fall activities. And, let’s be honest, it’s not fall in Texas without football. Lucky for us, we’ve got our own college team right here in Brownwood. The Howard Payne Homecoming game is in just a few weeks and we’re ready to break out our HPU gear and cheer on the Yellow Jackets. The game isn’t the only thing happening that weekend either; the University has an entire carnival planned that includes a nightly play, a bonfire, fireworks, the parade, games, and tailgating. Count us in!

Check back with us later for Halloween decorating tips and more events coming up in November!

Let us know if you’re going to any of these events in the comments!

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typesmortgages

Types of Mortgages

Hello Again!

Today we’ll be discussing mortgages and the lingo that comes with them. Choosing a mortgage is one of the most significant financial decisions that the average person will make, so it’s important to understand which one will work best for you. We’ve done our best to simplify and summarize the most common types of loans.

Before we get into the loans, take a peek at this Glossary to help clear up some of the jargon:

mortgage-terms

Hopefully, those definitions help as we move into finding the best loan for your circumstances.

Conventional Loan: Good for Buyers with Average and Above Credit.

Quick Overview: Requires 620+ credit score and larger down payment.

A conventional loan is a straight agreement between a bank and a buyer, and so is not backed by the federal government. It is the most commonly used and typically has the best interest rates. This type of home loan works well for buyers with strong credit and who can afford the larger down payment.

FHA Mortgage: Good for First-Time Home Buyers.

Quick Overview: Backed by the government, requires 600+ credit score and smaller down payment.

An FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan is common for buyers who cannot afford a higher down-payment, as the required down payment is only 3.5%. This loan is backed by the federal government and does not require as high of a credit score as a conventional loan. The downside to this loan is the slightly higher interest rates. This loan is great for first-time home buyers, but is available to anyone.

VA Loan: Good for Buyers who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces. 

Quick Overview: Requires 620+ credit score, and is one of few 0% down options.

The Veteran’s Administration Loan is, as the name implies, specifically for eligible veterans and their families. The federal government guarantees these loans, which means the VA will reimburse the lender for any losses if the borrower defaults. The ability to receive 100% financing for the purchase of a home is a huge advantage for qualifying buyers.

USDA Rural Housing Loan: Good for buyers with average credit and a moderate income.

Quick Overview: Requires 640+ credit score, is one of few 0% down options, but requires the property be rural according to the Department of Agriculture.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created this loan to encourage buyers to purchase in specific rural areas. According to the USDA map feature that verifies addresses, much of Brown County and the surrounding area qualifies. You’ll need a moderate income to qualify for this loan, which the USDA defines as $82,700 for a 1-4 person household (page 276) in Brown County.

203K Rehabilitation Loan: Good for buyers looking to renovate.

Quick Overview: Requires 600+ credit score and needed repairs $5000 and up.

The “Rehab loan allows buyers to buy a home that needs fixing-up costing $5,000 or more. With this loan, you can pay for the cost of the home and any improvements. You need to start any repairs within 30 days and complete them within 6 months. Your lender will pay for the repairs regularly as the work is completed. Buyers who don’t mind putting in a little extra work on their new home will find this loan very helpful.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage: We do not recommend this loan!

Quick Overview: Similar to Conventional Loan, but the rate varies according to the market.

The most risky of the average buyer’s options is the Adjustable Rate Mortgage, also known as a Floating Mortgage or ARM. It starts with an interest rate that is lower than average, but after a few years the rate can change dramatically – usually for the worse. While the initial rate may seem inciting, it is all too temporary, and not a risk we recommend buyers take.

Have questions about mortgages or loan lingo? Comment below and we’ll find the answers you need!

In a hurry or just don’t feel like reading? Watch this video for a overview of Mortgage Options:

 

 

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Staging Your Home

How to Stage Your Home

Welcome!

And happy Friday everyone! Today we’ll be discussing ways you can make your home as inviting as possible for potential buyers.

Preparing your home for potential buyers is, more than anything, about getting into their heads. When someone is looking for a new home, their imaginations are wild with possibilities. The key is to use subtle methods to push their imaginings in a positive direction. This is easier than you might think, and can be achieved in a few simple steps.

  1. The way your home smells is one of the first things a potential buyer will notice. Scents are known to trigger the subconscious and affect mood. If the buyer feels good in your home, that emotion will stay with them as they make their decision. So clean your carpeting and drapes to eliminate odors and open the windows to air out the house. Then fill the home with fresh scents. We suggest citrus, as the smell of limes has been determined by scientists to be the most universally pleasant. For quick fixes in the kitchen, cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract or orange juice can instantly make the fridge a nicer-smelling place. Add boiled lemon juice to your dishwasher and run lemon rinds through the garbage disposal to eliminate odors.

2. Well-lit spaces are perceived to be happier spaces. Cleaning windows and screens will help bring more light into your home. Replace burnt bulbs, and consider higher wattage in low-light areas. Replacing yellow bulbs with white can brighten a room considerably. Clean the walls or brush on a fresh coat of bright, neutral paint.  We recommend lighter shades that make rooms look bigger, instead of a dark color that can make a space feel closed in. Exchanging heavy curtains with sheer ones will open up spaces and show off your view. 

set-the-scene3. This tip is the one that’s all about getting the buyers’ imaginations going. The trick is to set up ‘props’ that ignite ideas of the buyers’ future instead of telling stories of your past. A bright afghan or new accent pillows add a sense of comfort to a room, but they shouldn’t have your family’s name or monogram on them. Pretty dishes or a simple centerpiece on the tables can help buyers picture themselves living there. If you have a fireplace, lay fresh logs or place a vase of flowers on the mantel. Avoid putting out personal affects that might shake the buyers out of their daydreams. Speaking of personal affects…

4. Remove any clutter. Cleared spaces help buyers to picture their own belongings in the home. This can enhance the buyers’ sense of belonging, whereas seeing your items everywhere can make them feel like invaders. Clear off counters and pack unnecessary decorative items. Put extra furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season items. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.

keep-it-clean

5. A clean space is an inviting space. Most buyers will be more inclined to chose a home that they don’t have to deep clean before moving in. Performing a deep clean before listing your home will also make upkeep easier while it’s on the market. Consider hiring a cleaning service to help.
comfortable

6. Maximize comfort. Despite the picture, we’re talking about temperature control rather than blankets. We suggest keeping your thermostat set to 76º in the warmer months and 68º in the cooler months to keep your home comfortable while keeping the electric bill down. In the summer, shut a few of the A/C vents on the first floor so more air will get upstairs. Reverse the process in the winter. 

fix-it-up7. Take care of minor repairs. Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained. 

curb-appeal

8. Even as they’re pulling up to your home, buyers are forming an opinion. An up-kept yard and facade let’s buyers know immediately that you are an attentive homeowner. Therefore, they infer that you have lovingly cared for the rest of the home as well, casting you and your home in a positive light in their mind. Capture their good-will by cutting the grass, raking the leaves, adding new mulch, trimming the bushes, edging the walkways, and cleaning the gutters. A pot of bright flowers near the entryway can also add great curb appeal. 

spa-day

9. Bathrooms are easy for both buyers and sellers to overlook. But a luxurious bath? Guaranteed to stand out and inspire dreams of coming home to unwind in a bubble bath. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight, along with old towels and toothbrushes. Add a new shower curtain and fancy guest soaps. A touch of greenery can also invoke feelings of the spa.  doggie

10. As cute as your furry friends are, they shouldn’t be in the house when buyers come to call. Even if your pet is the friendliest, calmest, best pet in the world, you can never know how someone else may react to them. Even if the potential buyer loves animals, pets are a huge distraction from visions of the future you’ve worked so hard to create in the buyer’s mind.  Send the pets to the neighbor’s or a friend’s house. Or take them with you. If that’s not possible, crate or confine them to one room or the backyard, and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be, so there are no surprises.

hidemedicine

11. Though we try to think the best of people, it’s better not to take unnecessary risks. Lock up valuables and medication; Agents can’t watch everyone all the time.

12. It can be tempting to give in to curiosity and try to be there while a possible buyer goes through your home. But please, head out. It can be awkward for everyone if you’re home at the time of a showing and it’s far easier for the buyer to imagine the home as theirs if you’re not still taking up the space, literally. 

 

Have a suggestion for making a buyer feel at home or a question about one of our tips? Comment below!

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decor-harvest

Decorating for Autumn

Welcome!

Autumn is one of our favorite times of year. The weather is cooling down and some of the best holidays are on the horizon. One of the most enjoyable aspects of decorating for Autumn is the many directions you can go with it, making personalization a cinch. Today, we’ll be focusing on a Harvest theme. Whether you like to go all out or keep it simple, we’ve gathered some great tips and ideas for decorating your home this season.

Harvest Decorating

Did you know that ‘Autumn’ and ‘Harvest’ come from the same root word – hærfest? Here in rural Texas, most of us are at least a little familiar with the historical and cultural significance of harvest-time. We drew from the past to create these decorating suggestions that compliment every Holiday of the season:

Winter Squash in Wire Wall Basket    Winter Squashes

  • Pumpkins, of course. Pumpkins are an Autumn staple; it’s their peak season, after all. But they’re not the only vegetable in the patch. We recommend taking advantage of all the other squashes that flourish this time of year to add variety in color and shape to your decorations. You can put them in baskets or add them to yard displays. The smaller varieties can also enhance your dining table or mantle pieces. They’re also incredibly useful once it’s time to exchange them for winter decorations. They can be used as ingredients if you’ve displayed them somewhere cool and dry (fresh winter squashes can last up to 3 months!), or they make excellent compost for your garden if they’ve turned before the season’s over.

apples-half-bushel-basket   blanket-woven-basket

  • Woven or Half-Bushel baskets are a simple way to capture the spirit of Harvest. You can fill them with practically anything, but we suggest apples, winter squashes, flowers, hay, or blankets. Store blankets in the baskets for a casual and cozy look in your living areas. You can even combine these options for a look that is absolutely homey. Fill the majority of your basket with hay or a blanket so that the ‘filling’ slightly pokes out over the basket’s edge. Then, pile your choice of (fake or fresh) Autumn fruits or vegetables on top, and you’re done! Half-Bushel baskets are paint friendly, so don’t be afraid to put your monogram on the side or paint the edges for a personal touch.

Leaf Wreath on Wooden Door - Autumn Decorating   wreath-chandelier

  • Seasonal decor wouldn’t be complete without a wreath. Whether you’re making or buying, we love the idea of honoring the Harvest tradition by using natural pieces such as leaves, flowers, berry branches, wheat stalks, or cotton. Add a bow, letter, or other ornament as you desire. For a unique twist to this classic decoration, turn the wreath on its side and use twine or thin chains to hang it! This requires the wreath base to be fully covered, but an unexpected seasonal chandelier is sure to make your decor stand out. If you plan to include lights on your chandelier, we advise you to stay away from candles to avoid a fire hazard.

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fall-checklist

Fall Maintenance Tips and Checklist

Welcome back!

It’s been about two weeks since Fall began and the weather is cooling off slowly but surely. Maintaining your home in the Fall consists of much more than turning down the A/C and raking some leaves (which isn’t always a good idea! But more on that soon). Click on any of the blue links for more information on any of these tips.

Here is a checklist, complete with tips, of ways you can care for your home’s Fall needs:

  • Fight off drafts by sealing your windows and doors. Sealing leaks with spray foam, caulk or weather stripping is a huge step towards a more comfortable and energy efficient home.
  • From 2010 to present, October has ranked second only to May in highest average rainfall in our area. Now is a great time to check your roof or hire a professional to do so.
  • When both leaves and rain are falling, it’s important to make sure your gutters are clean.
  • Daylight savings time is coming up on November 4th. Don’t forget to check your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms while you’re changing the clocks.
  • It may not seem like much, but a programmable thermostat can save a significant amount of energy and money by automatically adjusting your HVAC’s output.
  • Remember when we said that raking your leaves isn’t always a good idea? Turns out that leaves are one of the best natural, and free!, mulches available. For the first few weeks of the year, we suggest mulching your leaves with your lawn mower to keep your soil healthy. Relocate any excess leaves to garden areas to enhance the natural plant cycle.
  • Speaking of mowing, once you’re done mulching your leaves, you probably won’t have much use for your lawnmower until Spring. Empty unused gasoline from your lawn equipment or, even better, add a fuel stabilizer to keep it fresh.
  • If you have a fireplace, then now is the perfect time to prepare your chimney for all the cozy nights you’re soon to spend around the fire. Experts recommend having it swept when 1/8-inch of sooty buildup is present.
  • If you plan to store firewood this year, it should be kept at least 15 feet from your home. Don’t keep large amounts of wood inside, due to the risk of termite infestation. Keep an eye out for animals that may shelter in your wood pile when the temperature drops.
  • Prepare your sprinkler system for the cold nights ahead. Draining your irrigation system before the first freeze of the season can prevent burst pipes and a headache in the Spring.
  •  Even if you don’t have a sprinkler system, you probably have outdoor faucet and a garden hose or two. Attached hoses can cause water to back-up into the plumbing just inside your exterior walls. When the freezing temperature hits, this water could freeze and expand, cracking your pipes and fixtures. So detach your hoses and turn off any water supply lines that lead to exterior spigots.

Comment your Fall Maintenance Tips or any questions you have below!

Interested in more tips or don’t feel like reading? Check out this short video from American Home Shield:

[Videos like this are the closest we’ll ever get to advertising, and it’s only because we don’t make our own videos – yet.]

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