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Jan. 24, 2022

4 Essential Tips for Updating Your Kitchen Countertops

Countertops can make or break a kitchen. Over time, any well-used work surface for meal prep, dining, and cleanup endures normal wear and tear. But if your countertops have seen better days and you’re feeling stuck in a kitchen design rut, it might be time for an upgrade.  “Countertops play an integral part in a kitchen’s aesthetic and functionality,” says Young Huh, a New York City–based interior designer. “It’s an update that instantly modernizes the look of the room and can truly change how you cook and enjoy the space.”  Think you’re the only one mulling over a kitchen countertop revamp? Think again. In a recent kitchen trends survey by Houzz, countertops came in as the most popular feature renovating homeowners plan to upgrade.  If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen countertops but have no idea where to start, the following must-know tips will point you in the right direction.

1. Prioritize zero-maintenance materials

For red wine and coffee lovers or home chefs who cook frequently with olive oil (which can wreak havoc on natural stone), experts suggest opting for engineered stone countertops that are resistant to damage and stains.  “Zero-maintenance surfacing is a top client request for both kitchen and bath updates,” says Huh. “They want a surface that captures the drama of natural stone without the constant sealing and upkeep.”  And amateur cooks aren’t the only ones who see the value of engineered stone. ChefThomas Keller selected Dekton for kitchen countertops when he renovated his flagship restaurant, the French Laundry, in Yountville, CA. Culinary influencer and cookbook author Amanda Frederickson selected Silestone for her Nashville, TN, kitchen.  “When we began planning the kitchen renovation, I initially considered marble because I love its texture and feel,” says Frederickson. “But then I realized for someone who cooks as often as I do, it would have been a mistake. They would have gotten stained from accidentally dropping acidic food on them or chipped with all the pots and pans that go through my kitchen.”  Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for Mr. Handyman, says granite kitchen countertops are currently among the most popular.  “These countertops can be customized to fit the unique look and feel of your kitchen,” he says.  Busch says they rank high in durability, last long, and maintain their original look. Costs typically range from $50 to $80 per square foot but can be more costly with more exotic slabs.  For a marble look without the hassle, Huh recommends and also uses Et Calacatta Gold from Silestone or Dekton Aura 15. Huh says both are durable, require no sealing, and have low or zero porosity.  “You can truly live in the space without worry of stains from everyday use,” says Huh.

2. Mix, match, and get moody

Homeowners nowadays aren’t afraid to play with color and are even willing to take their countertops to a darker, more dramatic place.  “While white may be a safe mainstay when it comes to kitchen design, many of my clients have been turning toward warmer, darker hues in their kitchen palettes,” says Richard T. Anuszkiewicz, an interior designer in Nashville, TN. “I love this pivot as it naturally brings a distinctive element to the space.”  Two of his favorite countertops are Dekton Kelya and Dekton Laurent.  Busch says wood typically isn’t the first material that comes to mind when thinking about kitchen countertops, but “a high-quality wood can create a stunning, vibrant, and long-lasting countertop.”  Pricing can range widely, depending on wood type, but Busch says butcher block countertops tend to range from $30 to $85 per square foot for materials only.

3. Keep countertop trends in mind

Trends rise and fall so you never want to fill your kitchen with design choices that’ll age poorly. But there are some current countertop trends that experts believe will stand the test of time.  Huh loves the cohesive look of matching the countertop material with the backsplash. “It creates a very clean, European style that’s emerging in the U.S. market,” she says.  If you have the space, go for a waterfall-edge island like the one in Frederickson’s kitchen.  “It’s full of drama and instantly pulls your eye into the space,” says Huh. Frederickson also used the quartz surfacing as a backsplash, and topped it with a shallow shelf to keep spices nearby while she cooks.  Experts also advise homeowners to look at the thickness of the countertop they’re buying and stick with slimmer formats. Typically, a thinner the countertop will be more affordable and easier to install.

4. Go eco-friendly

“More and more of my clients are prioritizing eco-friendly materials with smaller carbon footprints,” Huh says. For homeowners seeking such countertops, there are a variety of options out there.  Silestone, for example, offers an engineered quartz that is produced with 100% reusable energy.  Busch says countertops made of recycled glass and cement can be a great way to add a clean, industrial, durable surface to a kitchen. This type of countertop costs about $100 to $160 per square foot.  “Sturdy and visually appealing, this countertop material can be customized and is a top choice for those seeking a green alternative,” says Busch.

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Author: Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.  
Source: Realtor.com
Jan. 10, 2022

Color Trends 2022 & Color of the Year: A Complete List

Chances are, your living room is one of the most frequented spots in your home—and with good reason. It's a spot where you can entertain friends and family, or just kick back and watch TV on your day off. Naturally, the color palette you choose for this space is crucial, as you want to make sure it's something that's relaxing and inviting, but not lacking in eye-catching design. As we approach 2022, it's time to get a head start on 2022 living room color trends, so House Beautiful spoke to nine designers to get the low down. The good news? Their answers run the gamut—touching on everything from subdued pops of color to various shades of white—meaning there's certainly timeless-yet-of-the-moment inspiration for homes of every style.

 

1. OLIVE GREEN

Cecilia Halling, Creative Director at Elicyon, says colors like honeycomb, lilac, zesty curry lime, olive-yellow, dark navy, cherry and maple will be in vogue in the new year. As part of a recent project for a client, Halling incorporated an acid yellow high gloss lacquer, which she describes as "leap[ing] from the interior of the bespoke dining room drinks bar whenever the doors are opened. It’s the most exciting of surprises." If you need more proof that greens of every hue are on the rise, look no further than the 2022 Colors of the Year from Behr, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and PPG.

 

2. PURPLE HUES

"A key color trend to note is the rise of lilac in our living spaces," says designer Katherine Cohen. "As a gentle, welcoming hue, lilac will be a trending color over the next year in interiors. For playful yet creative spaces, lilac adds bright energy to any space." Just look at this cool hangout with a lilac rug from Flor.

 

3. SHADES OF WHITE

....but don't let that focus on purple convince you the most popular neutral is "over." Architect and designer Amanda Gunawan of OWIU Studio finds that neutral colors will take over living rooms in 2022, like Sherwin-Williams' White Flour and Benjamin Moore's Swiss Coffee—at least in certain multifunctional rooms. "With so many people working from home, many former single-use living rooms have been transformed into part-time or transitional work spaces during the day; therefore, I suspect that living room colors will continue to veer neutral, as they create a sense of light and clarity while encouraging functionality," explains Gunawan. "Many of us are still spending more time at home, and our spaces should create a sense of calm."

 

4. EARTHY TONES

"With an ever-important focus on relaxation and wellness, for 2022, we’re forecasting interior color trends that both combine and reinforce our connection to nature and instill a sense of cozy comfort in the home," says Catharina Björkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura. "Think earthy tones like hazy greens, soft and timeless blues, soothing sandy greys, and warming muted blush hues. These nature-centric tones give a calming, serene feel to a space," she adds.

 

5. CRIMSON RED

Speaking of nature-centric, a "rich and earthy crimson shade is absolutely gorgeous and will bring a touch of maturity and glamour to any room," declares James Waylett of Jacobs & Dalton."This unique shade perfectly ties in with the whole color palette and will be the staple shade to carry through into the autumn months. We think this indulgent shade would be perfect for master bedrooms or to create an accent wall in a home study or living space."

 

Mary Elizabeth Andriotis is House Beautiful's Associate Editor, where she covers historic homes, entertainment, culture, and design.

Source: housebeautiful.com

 

Dec. 24, 2021

Happy Holidays & Upcoming New Year!!

Merry Christmas!!!

This is a wonderful time of year in which to celebrate the season with friends, family, neighbours and relatives!  May you all be blessed to spend time with those that are important to you, to be able to enjoy some great moments in your homes -- and outside in the snow! -- that they are filled with joy and the holiday spirit.  Thank you to our community and to our clients for this fantastic year!

Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Boxing Day! and an upcoming

Happy 2022 New Year!!!

Posted in Community News
Dec. 20, 2021

Why You Shouldn't Take Your Home Off the Market

 

Six Reasons why you shouldn't take your home off the market during the holidays...

As we careen at warp speed toward Christmas & New Years and all of the joyous (read: stressful) festivities in between, you might be tempted to take your home off the market - or hold off on listing it - until after the New Year.  After all, you're swamped with cooking, shopping & decorating and the last thing you need is a bunch of potential buyers traipsing through your house, right?  WRONG!

"It's a huge, huge mistake to either remove your home from the market during the holiday season, or to not put your home on the market if you're getting ready to sell," Glazer, one managing broker, says.  Why?  The first reason is painfully obvious: Your house can't actually sell if it's off the market, says Nora Ling Lane.  "I'm pretty adamant about leaving a home on during the holidays," Lane says.  "Sure, people are busy, but I'd rather buyers see a house messy with baking in the kitchen than miss the house.  Let somebody else take their house off the market and miss out."  In fact, this time of year can actually be ideal for selling.  Here's why.

1. Your listing will rise to the top

If homeowners in your hood take a break from the market because they don't want to bother keeping their properties in show-ready condition over the holidays, that makes for reduced inventory.  And that means buyers who are actively searching will be more likely to uncover your listing.  "During the busy spring market, for example, you have way more competition than during the holidays," Glazer explains.  "So you're much more likely to get your home sold when you're not competing with more potential sellers."  

2. Your house looks (and smells) amazing during the holidays

With festive greenery, the sweet aroma of cookies baking, and a warm fire in the hearth, you've got built-in ambiance - meaning you can appeal to buyer's senses in a way that you can't during other times of the year, Glazer says.  "With that nice, homey feeling, homes tend to show a lot better during the holidays, while making people feel really good," he explains.  Plus, chances are good you'll tap into some buyer sentimentality: During the holidays, we tend to feel nostalgic about family, home and memories.  That can cause a nesting instinct to kick in - and that often results in a sale, Glazer says.  Don't go overboard with decorations though.  "I tell sellers not to put a Santa Claus in every corner; you don't want clutter," Lane cautions.  And remember: Buyers need to imagine their furniture in each room, so avoid blocking important selling features such as large windows and fireplace mantels.  And if you live in a colder climate, be sure walkways and stairs are always shoveled clean, and turn your thermostat up before each showing to keep things toasty.  "When you walk in and it's warm and cozy, that helps in the selling process," Lane says.

3. Holiday buyers aren't messing around

Yes, things typically slow down in the weeks leading up to the holidays.  But there are still people actively looking for homes and ready to pounce - or those who just entered the market on a short timeline and need to buy fast.  "The people who are out there looking at homes during the holidays are serious buyers," Glazer says.  "And in areas where you have bad weather, these buyers are going to weather the storms - pun intended - to visit your property."  Potential buyers who take the time to set up home tours during the holiday season are also more motivated to move forward if they like what they see, Lane notes.  "These are not tire-kickers just looking around because it's fun; those are all weeded out."

4. Families often search during school breaks

Speaking of serious buyers: Relocating families often capitalize on the holidays as a time to move without tumult on the kids.  They want to find the right property, have stress-free negotiations, and get their brood settled before school starts up again in January, Lane says.  "It's a good time to show your house to people from out of town."

5. It can be easier to close a transaction in December

Buyers can often get their loans processed and approved faster in November or December than they would in the traditionally busy spring months.  It all comes down to the holiday slowdown: Fewer home sales are on deck to process, plus lenders are motivated to close deals before the end of the year.  "I've seen from personal experience that because of the low volume of business, things move quicker with lenders," says Bill Gassett, who has been in the business for over 31 years.

6. The holidays give you a chance to adjust your selling strategy

If your home's been languishing on the market for several weeks - or months (eek!) - you might be feeling antsy.  Maybe the best solution is to take it off the market and try after the New Year.  Fight the urge!  You're better off staying the course and using this slow time to tweak your selling strategy.  Would home staging draw in buyers? Do you need to tackle that paint job you'd been putting off?  Should you re-assess your asking price?  "Generally, the reason a house does not sell is because it's not priced right, and if it's been sitting on the market, nothing will change over a 30 day period if you're pricing it the same," Glazer says.  "You're much better off getting the price in line with where it should be, and leaving it on through the holidays."  Lane recently had clients who wanted to take their home off the market during the holidays and relist in January.  She talked them out of it, had several showings, and signed the contract on Christmas Eve.  "I've sold more houses in December than in most months," Lane says.  "It's always a busy month for me."

 

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Author: Wendy Helfenbaum - a journalist and TV producer who covers real estate, architecture and design, DIY, gardening and travel.  Her work has appeared in Woman's Day, Metropolis, Costco Connection, Garden Collage, Parenting, Canadian Living, Canadian Gardening and more.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Dec. 6, 2021

5 Staging Ideas that Work Great in Winter!

 

Don't Skimp on curb appeal

If you live in a snowy climate, you know there's little you can do about the white stuff piling up outside.  Buy you can stay on top of your yard maintenance, so buyers have an easy path to your front door and walk away with a feeling that your place is easy to maintain.  Shoveling the driveway and paths to your home is a must.  And you'll want to clean out your gutters, so ice isn't backing up and giving the impression that you have roofing issues.  You can also add some winter-themed outdoor decor.  If you can, now's also the time to make sure your front door has a fresh coat of paint.  A bright, colorful front door will stand out all the more in the snow, and that can really wow your buyer.

Turn up the heat

Many homeowners like to keep the thermostat set down in the 60s to save on their heating bills, but you don't want a potential buyer to think they're visiting a house that's hard to heat.  "A cold house can hurt the sale," explains Scott.  "When a buyer enters the house and wants to hurry up and get out of there because it is so chilly, it probably means they are going to have a bad memory associated with the home, no matter how great it is.  You want to provide a warm and inviting environment so buyers will want to take their time and linger."  To make buyers feel they're right at home, turn up the thermostat.  You'll also want to fix any drafty spots around the house.  You may be fine shoving a towel under the front door to keep the cold air out, but buyers will not look kindly on linens on your floor, or a chilly breeze on their feet.

Fire up the fireplace

Not only is it a good way to ensure the house feels warm, but making use of the fireplace is a good way to show off a great feature of your home.  "I love when a home has a fireplace, and I can highlight that feature by turning it on during open houses," says Scott.  Whether it's a wood-burning or you have gas logs in that fireplace, by lighting that fire, you're giving potential buyers a window into what it would be like to cuddle on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and their feet in front of the fire.  "Hitting all the buyer's senses creates a memorable experience that will hopefully lead to them purchasing the home," she adds.

Add seasonal scents

It's always wise to clean your house and make the place smell nice and fresh, but the winter months are a time to focus on seasonal scents.  That means mulling seasonal spices such as oranges, cloves, and cinnamon on the stove, to go along with freshly baked holiday cookies cooling on a rack in the kitchen.  Music should also be seasonal, though not too heavy on the silly Santa songs.  Scott suggests some smooth jazz that evokes the festive feel of holiday entertaining.  It's not a bad idea to have hot coffee on hand.  Not only will it cut the cold, but it can boost the mood of potential buyers.

Pump up the holiday decor

You don't want to turn your home into the real-life version of Clark Griswold's over-the-top house in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," but Aaron Bowman, of Mazz Real Estate in Tolland, CT says the holidays can actually make it easier to sell a home, if you decorate well.  "The main reason is that buyers like to picture themselves in the home hosting holiday get-togethers, and it's much easier to show them the potential of a house when it's decorated for the winter months."  He recommends a big wreath with a bright red bow on the front door and some (electric or battery operated) candles in the windows.  Avoid blow-up lawn decorations or anything over-the-top or garish inside and out, favoring the sort of classic decor you'd expect to see on a greeting card. 

And if the holidays are over, and you're still showing your home, remove the decor immediately!

 

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Author: Jeanne Sager - writer for the New York Times, Vice and more.  Source: Realtor.com
Posted in Selling Your Home
Nov. 25, 2021

Happy Holidays!!!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a wonderful time of year in which to celebrate the season with friends, family, neighbours and relatives!  We are wishing to thank the town of Buena Vista for the delightful way in which you have made us feel as an integral part of the community. We also wish to thank all of our clients - who have become extended family in our eyes!  We appreciate you and wanting to post a message of gratitude to all of you!

We know it is early...yet also wanting to send an early greeting in regards to this upcoming Christmas season!  May this time be a delightful one and ...

May you all have a joyous Christmas Season! and Hanukkah Sameach! 

Posted in Community News
Nov. 22, 2021

Resources to Prepare you For Buying a Home

 

 

Buying a home is one of the most exciting things you'll ever do.  It can also be a long and complex journey.  Sometimes it can even be confusing with all of the different terms and financial hoops to jump through.  That's why we're focused on helping home buyers understand the home buying process.  Whether you're heading into the buying process for the first time or are a repeat buyer, this latest YouTube series, The Home Buying Process from A-Z, is designed to answer many of the common questions we hear: "Should I rent or buy?" "How big of a house can I afford?" "How do I choose the right home?" "What's the difference between pre-approved and pre-qualified?" and more.  The main theme we continue to hear is home buyers wish they knew more before they started looking at homes.  With that in mind, the series will cover a broad range of topics.

Are you a first time buyer?  With so many choices to make and rising home prices, entering the market can feel especially intimidating, so preparation is crucial.  That identifying needs versus wants is a critical starting point.  Utilizing features such as a mortgage calculator and finding the right realtor are key steps in helping you start your journey and ultimately finding a great home.  Also check out the great link to the First Time Home Buyer Resource Center, which also provides useful guides that will help you ace your home buying adventure.  Check out secrets from industry professionals to land a loan and find your dream home.  Sift through the myths and truths about buying your first home so you know what to expect at every stage.

Even if you've bought a home before, preparing for the home buying journey is an extensive undertaking.  These resources serve as a great starting point if it's your first time or a helpful refresher in case things have changed since you bought your last home.  We've put a lot of time and effort into finding experts who can help explain the process form an unbiased standpoint and help you make and educated decision when buying your home.  Our resources tap the expertise of real estate professionals, loan officers, product managers, and even people who've been in a number of real estate markets for decades - all sharing their knowledge with you.  Happy home buying!

 

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Author: Nathanial Fremd - senior marketing manager at Realtor.com and a writer for the Home Made Blog.  Source: Realtor.com

Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 8, 2021

How to Sell a Home During the Holidays!

 

Need to know how to sell a home fast, even though the holidays are speedily approaching?  If you're thinking of throwing up your hands and giving up hope until the new year, we're here to offer hope: There's still time!  Because here's the deal: As eager as you may be to sell your home before the holidays, plenty of people out there are dying to buy a place before the holidays descend too.  So if you play your cards right, it is entirely possible to not only find a buyer, but also close the deal and move out before Santa's sleigh starts making the rounds.  Here as some insider secrets on how to sell a home fast, even during the hectic holiday rush.

Polish your online listing

Because the weather outside is "frightful," as they like to say (or at least will be soon enough), buyers want to do much of their looking online.  With that in mind, focus on making your home so alluring they're willing to put on those parkas and check it out in person.

Play up the holiday features

Buyers want to envision themselves settling into a home in time to celebrate that first Thanksgiving or Christmas, says home expert Lauren Mak, who has appeared on TLC's "Trading Spaces" and ABC's : Fab Life with Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen."  Mak suggests accenting architectural features such as a fireplace or sweeping staircase to showcase how great your home could look for the holidays.  "Add twinkle lights to a fireplace or table decorations to your dining room to help potential buyers visualize their future home," she says.  "If you have something like a bay window where a Christmas tree might be, clear the clutter before showing your home."

But don't overdo the holiday decor

While it's good to be jolly, don't go over the top, says Dawn Houlf, real estate coach, "Homes do look their best during the holiday, but simple is best," she says.  "Too big or too many adornments can crowd your home and distract buyers."

Be flexible with showings

If you want buyers bidding for your home, they're going to want to check out every nook and cranny, so you'd better be ready and willing to let them.  "The best thing that sellers can do during the holiday search is keep the home clutter-free and stay open and available for last minute and short notice showings," says Shayna Goldburg, broker and chief human resources officer at SetSchedule.  "What I have noticed is that it is harder and harder to view homes during the holiday season," Goldburg says.  "Oftentimes homeowners go out of town, guests come to visit, or owners have their own entertaining schedule, and prefer not to have showings to interrupt this time.  At the end of the day, the more open, available, and flexible you are as a homeowner for showings, the more your home will be seen and greater your chance for a sale."

Make sure your home is move-in ready

Having your home pre-inspected before you list can accelerate your sale in three key ways, says Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection. 

  • 1) It makes your house more marketable: Buyers feel safer making an offer on a home that's an open book during the home selling process. 
  • 2) It can save you money: Once you know what issues need to be fixed, you can have those problems taken care of before you list.  The cleaner and more issue free you can make your home, the faster its likely to sell, which can save you money in the long run. 
  • 3) It allows you to highlight your homes assets: New flooring or granite counters installed?  Electric wiring redone?  Brand new appliances or furnace?  "These are huge selling points, and your home inspection report will reflect all of the improvements and upgrades you've made."

 

Make curb appeal a top priority

"As the leaves begin to fall, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important," says Houlf.  "Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters, and spruce up the yard.  Paint the front door, hang a decorative wreath, and [add] a decorative welcome mat.  In addition, keep buyer's safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves."  And don't forget to highlight the outdoor features buyers can enjoy year round.  If you have a fire pit or hot tub, show it off.

Offer Incentives

While competition is greatly reduced around Thanksgiving, that alone may not be enough to encourage offers, notes Sophie Kaemmerle, communications manager for NeighborWho.com.  "Incentives put you ahead of the pack," she says.  "Offer what you can, ranging from updated appliances to paying closing costs, offering extras like TV's, and be flexible with negotiations."  

Plan a themed open house

"Since you are so close to the holidays, why not host a "Thanksgiving or holiday-themed open house," Kaemmerle suggests.  Think: an early tree trimming or offering up some homemade holiday treats.  "Not only is this a fun way to show off a home, but also you will stoke buyer's holiday and home buying excitement," she says.  Just keep in mind that timing is important this time of year, Kaemmerle adds: "Not many people will ditch family dinners for an open house on an actual holiday."

 

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Author: Liz Alterman - writer who's covered a variety of subjects, from personal finance issues for CNBC.com to career advice for The Muse.  Source: Realtor.com

Posted in Selling Your Home
Oct. 18, 2021

6 Ways To Insulate Your Drafty Windows (When New Ones Aren’t in the Budget)

Stop us if this sounds familiar: Your thermostat is hiked up to 74 degrees, you’re covered in blankets, you’ve donned your fuzziest socks—and your house still feels cold.  The likely culprit: Drafty windows. Whether they’re old as dirt or just not energy-efficient, windows that let in cold air not only bring down your home’s temperature but also raise your heating bills because your furnace is working overtime.

First, take your windows’ temperature

Do you even have drafty windows? Before you get industrious by sealing cracks, you’ll want to figure out just how cold it is near the window. If you own one of the infrared thermometers we’ve become so familiar with during the coronavirus pandemic, you might be able to get a decent temperature reading and detect cold air leaking in from old windows.  “What these instruments do is capture what the eye cannot see, and that could be the radiant heat around the object,” says Matt Swann, a general contractor and president at Brawn Construction. “They can also help detect air leaks by measuring the ambient temperature in an area where cold air is leaking in.”  

You can also look for visible cracks and gaps around the window frame, or try the old-school trick of shutting your window on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, you have drafty windows.  If your bank account is a little lean these days, then replacement windows are probably out of the question. So you have two options: You could keep layering on socks and sweaters, or you could make your windows a lot more energy-efficient by trying these tips from the pros.

1. Caulk carefully

Caulking is good for sealing cracks, gaps, and joints less than a quarter of an inch. On the inside, keep bitter drafts out by caulking between the interior window trim and the wall. You can also apply caulk to the exterior perimeter of the window. Just be sure not to caulk weep holes, the small rectangular holes found on the bottom of the exterior side of the window frame.  “Caulking over weep holes is a big mistake,” warns Kevin Busch, vice president of operations at Mr. Handyman. “Weep holes allow moisture to escape the window frame. Clogged weep holes can’t do their job properly, and your windows can rot, collect mold, or rust.”  Also avoid caulking the moving parts of the window and the ledge above the window frame, Busch says.  Do note that the caulk aisle is massive. Be sure to read the labels, and buy caulk that is explicitly labeled for windows. Be sure to purchase exterior caulk for around the window outside, and interior caulk for inside. There are also caulks for humid spaces and masonry uses.

2. Weather-strip for a temporary fix

When it comes to winter home maintenance, weather-stripping is a cheap and effective way to dodge bone-chilling drafts. Unlike caulk, which lasts around five years, weather-stripping is easy to apply and remove. It comes in a variety of materials and thicknesses and is used on doors, too. Foam weather-stripping is good for the top and bottom of window sashes, and tension seal (or V strip) is ideal for the side of sliding and double-hung windows.  The trick is to seal the gap without layering it on too thick. Apply weather-stripping to the sash and frame. Make sure you can still open and close the windows with the weather-stripping in place. 

3. Seal your windows with plastic

Maybe the idea of covering your window with shrink-to-fit plastic wrap seems a bit tacky, but when done correctly, it provides an airtight seal and is virtually invisible. Not only does it help your house feel warmer, but it also reduces moisture buildup on the window due to condensation.  It’s an easy DIY project, especially if you have a partner to help with larger windows. In a nutshell, you’re securing the shrink plastic by placing an adhesive strip around the perimeter of the window, on the window frame. This stops air leaks that may be sneaking through. Once the plastic is in place, use a hairdryer to shrink and tighten the seal for a snug fit.  Be sure to measure your windows before heading to the store because the kits come in many sizes. 

4. Hang thermal drapes

Thermal drapes are more stylish today than the drab ones our parents had, and, according to the EPA, pulling thermal drapes over your windows can reduce heat loss by around 25%.  If you still feel chilly, install a cornice at the top of the drapes. Then to better block those bitter drafts, make sure the drapes overlap in the center. Then use Velcro or magnetic tape to attach the sides of the drapes to the wall and bottom. An interior decorator may not approve, but it’s a good option especially for windows that don’t let in  warm sunshine during the day. 

5. Install cellular shades 

You can reduce heat loss by as much as 40% when you install cellular shades (also known as honeycomb shades), according to the EPA. They can be pricey but, according to Swann, they’re considered one of the best ways to insulate your windows.  “They significantly reduce the temperature that transfers between the window and the room by creating a barrier through its hexagonal pocket shapes,” says Swann.  The price ranges from $30 to $200 depending on the size of your window and if you want a more deluxe version. 

6. Install storm window inserts

Storm window inserts are clear inserts that look just like a traditional window but are installed inside the window jamb, and over older, single-pane windows to reduce heat loss. They’re light and easy to install and require no nails or screws. Just snap them in place, and your rooms will feel significantly warmer in the winter. Once the weather warms up, pop them back out and store.  Depending on the size, they run about $200 per window. That’s still a good alternative if new energy-efficient windows aren’t in the budget. Look for Energy Star–certified (low-e) inserts, and you could save $350 on your annual heating bill, the EPA says.

 

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Author: Lisa Marie Conklin - She writes for Reader's Digest, Family Handyman, The Healthy, Taste of Home, and MSN.
Source: Realtor.com
Oct. 4, 2021

Should I Sell My House? 6 Signs It’s Time to Move On

 

Ten years. That’s the average amount of time a homeowner stays in a house before a sale, according to the National Association of Realtors®.  Think that sounds shockingly short? Or way too long? The fact is, people’s reasons for selling their homes are different, as are their time frames.  Still, there are some common reasons—financial and emotional—that lead us to sell our current home and move on to the next one. And you don’t always see the reasons coming.  Read on for some telltale signs it’s time to start looking for the next home and packing your bags (and when you should settle in for the long haul).

1. You know the seller’s market is booming and you want in

Let’s start with one of the most obvious reasons to sell: You’re eager to make a profit on your property.  You need to gauge the key indicators of a strong real estate market, explains Allen Shayanfekr, CEO and co-founder of Sharestates, an online real estate investment company.  A few signals: The price per square foot for real estate in your area is increasing, the amount of time properties stay on the market is decreasing, and you’ve noticed an uptick in brokerage activity in your neighborhood. (If you’re situated in an especially hot neighborhood, you might even get a letter or a knock on the door from a listing agent who wants to help you get in on the action.)  “If any of these are true in your area,” Shayanfekr says, “think about selling up.”

2. Because your neighbors just got what for their house?

Check online real estate listings in your neighborhood, and pay attention to the “recently sold” flyers in your mailbox to keep track of comparable home prices in your area.  “If other houses on your street with the same bedroom/bathroom count [as yours] are selling for a price that you’d be more than satisfied with, it might be time to move on,” Shayanfekr says.  Another sign of a hot home sales market is the relationship of asking prices to sale prices. If home buyers are making offers fast—for as much or more than sellers are asking—it’s a seller’s market. A buyer may offer you a sales price you can’t refuse, too.

3. You’re sick of feeling financially stressed

Not everyone sells their real estate in order to pad their bank account. Some homeowners underestimated their ongoing housing costs and simply sell to ease their mortgage burden, or to cash in their equity and use it for other purposes.  If your property taxes or mortgage payments have become unmanageable, the best recourse may be to sell and find another home that’s more affordable, Shayanfekr says. Selling your home is better than struggling with a big mortgage loan, and possibly risking foreclosure.  To breathe easy, your monthly housing costs, including your mortgage interest, principal, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and HOA or condo fees if applicable, shouldn’t exceed 28% of your gross monthly income.  Before you sell your home to reduce your monthly living expenses, make sure you can find another home to rent or buy in your price range, and that you can qualify for a loan at current interest rates when you do.

4. You’ve grown—but your home hasn’t

The starter home you moved into when you were expecting your first child isn’t necessarily the house you need now that you have three preteens and a capybara. It’s bittersweet to give up the memories you’ve made in your home, but if your living quarters are causing you stress rather than comfort, “take the leap and sell up,” Shayanfekr says.  Death, serious illness, divorce—these are all emotionally wrought experiences that may warrant a need for change. Relocation is another factor. But let’s not overthink things.  “Maybe you’re just tired of the same old, same old, and it’s time for a change of scenery,” says Bruce Allion. 

5. You’re over ‘high maintenance’

The average homeowner shells out $2,000 a year for maintenance services, according to a recent report by Bankrate. Not repairs, mind you, but scheduled services such as landscaping, snow removal, septic service, private trash and recycling, and housecleaning.  Sick of watching these payments steadily drip out of your bank account? You could sell, and buy some lower-maintenance real estate such as a condo or a new-build property, Shayanfekr says. You might even want to try renting, and let a landlord worry about leaky pipes and other property hassles.

6. You’ve put at least 5 years into the relationship

“If you sell too soon—assuming you have a mortgage—you haven’t really built up any equity in the home beyond the down payment,” points out Adam Jusko, founder and CEO of personal finance portal ProudMoney.com. “In the beginning, your mortgage payments are almost completely interest payments.”  In fact, unless the housing market is seriously booming (see above), you might lose money when you sell. You might even owe more than you can get from your house after closing costs.  

Remember: Selling isn’t free: You’ll have to shell out to cover all of the costs associated with hiring a real estate agent, closing, and, of course, purchasing another home.  That’s why Jusko recommends staying put for at least five years, unless you have an urgent need to move. In addition to everything else, moving too quickly sends potential buyers a bad message.  “Buyers don’t feel good when it appears you are selling too soon,” Jusko cautions. “What was wrong with the house? Why are you leaving so fast? Are the basement walls about to collapse? Are the neighbors selling drugs and shooting fireworks at your house? Buyers can dream up all kinds of negative scenarios when a seller hasn’t owned the home for very long.”  Another reason you may not want to sell is if you don’t meet the qualifications to avoid paying capital gains tax on your profit from a home sale. Generally, you can exclude the gain from the sale of your home if you owned and lived in the home for two of the past five years. A sale before the two-year mark, if you don’t meet any of the exceptions, could be a costly mistake. By the time you pay capital gains tax, you won’t have as much equity left as you’d planned.

But beware of snap decisions

Of course, there are no promises that selling will be better for you in the long run. Take your time deciding if you should sell, and then study the local home sales market with your real estate agent (here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area) before you price your home. If you underprice your home, a buyer may snatch it up too cheaply. If you overprice it, the right buyer may pass it by.  Jusko and his wife lived in Chicago in the early 2000s, when home values were through the roof. After about three years, they sold at a 40% profit. But soon after moving to the Cleveland area, where they’re both originally from, home values plummeted.  “For many years, our home was worth less than what we paid,” Jusko says. “It’s only now—more than 15 years later—that I believe we could sell for more than our purchase price. And don’t get me started on how much money we’ve put into the house over that time.”

Selling your home is, above all, a personal decision. Do what will help you live—if not happily ever after—happily for now.

 

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Stephanie Booth's stories have appeared in magazines such as Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Psychology Today.  Source: Realtor.com

Posted in Selling Your Home