To get your home in tiptop shape for 2018, here are some important and efficient ways to get it ready.
2018 is almost here! While you might consider making some New Year’s resolutions, you first need to think about your end of the year list. To get your home in tiptop shape for 2018, here are some important and efficient ways to get it ready.
1. Clean, clean, CLEAN!
If you haven’t taken care of the essential house cleaning chores, now is the time. You’ll want to quickly or deeply clean many areas of your home. These include:
Gutters & downspouts
Not only does this give your home a refreshed look, it also keeps you financially savvy going into 2018. Without the proper cleaning, areas like the air vents and gutters can lead to expensive home repair bills.
2. Purge & Recycle
Nobody likes looking at a full closet, especially if you have holiday presents to add. So go through every bit of storage in your home – closets, attic, basement, garage, shed, etc. – and remove what you don’t need. You can either throw it away or recycle it by donating to a local secondhand shop. That way, you have tons of space for next year’s discoveries.
3. Increase Efficiency
If you’re going through bills and notice a marked increase in utility costs, now is the time to plan out an efficient home in 2018. This could be as simple as turning off the lights more often and conserving water. On the other hand, if you have some extra dollars, you might consider improvements like:
Double or triple-paned windows
Upgrade your faucets and water outlets
4. HVAC TLC
One of the most important – and expensive – parts of your home is the HVAC system. It keeps the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Because it does so much work, it needs some fine-tuning and maintenance at least every six months. To make sure you avoid an expensive bill in 2018, go through the system. Replace the filter, clean out the vents and make sure it’s all working smoothly. If you aren’t an HVAC pro, you can find plenty in the neighborhood to come for a quick checkup.
5. Review the Exterior
Roofing, landscaping, doors, siding – have you given them a thorough look? All of these are important to a beautiful appearance and optimal safety. You need to check for cracks, holes, overhanging branches and the like. You can always get a home inspector for a more in-depth review, but most of it you can do yourself. Doing a quick circle around the house with some spackle or caulk works at least in the short term.
Going into 2018 means letting go of 2017’s hassles. To feel free of any stress, you should take care of the essentials, including your home. Maintenance and some cheap upgrades could make all the difference personally and financially in the New Year. Don’t feel you have to go all out, or else you’ll be too tired for new tasks. Make sure there’s a nice balance of work and play so you get the best start to 2018.
The charm of a small town feels has all the amenities that all other big city have to offer. Quiet tree lined streets, familiar neighbors, award-winning schools and lifelong friends are among the many characteristics that draw people to University Place year after year. It truly is a place where eventually “everybody knows your name!” – Cheers theme song
The city of UP offers a wide range of outlets for people of all ages and stages in life. Award winning golf course for golfers to explore the waterfront & rolling greens of Chambers Bay golf course. Walking enthusiasts love the numerous maintained trails within the residential communities or the 3 plus miles courses surrounding the golf course. Parks and playgrounds are scattered in abundance of entertainment for your kids. At the end of the day, you will see the most amazing sunsets. University Place is truly a town for everyone.
No need to travel far to enjoy a meal!! Local favorites like Applebee’s and Lefty’s offers a delicious burger while Cheers West has created an atmosphere where one can enjoy a sporting event while children are kept occupied with video games, dart boards, and more. Let us not forget the local icon, the cozy Pine Cone Café. University Place boasts four major franchise grocers: Safeway, Fred Myers, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods. There is also the local Harbor Greens Plus so many stores to pick up last minute gifts at: Hallmark, Home Goods, Rite Aid, Mud Bay, and many more.
The sense of community is evident by the regularly held “Christmas tree lighting in the heart of our town center, or the events also at Curtis High School. There’s no lack of entertainment opportunities either. From outdoor summer concerts at Curran Orchard, Duck Days, Classic Car shows in the town center . University place is a city known for its breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.
So take a drive through University Place and see if you fall in love with it the way I have enjoy living here and so many others.
Charitable organizations make it even easier for you to donate your household items this time of year.
DEC 15, 2017
Guest post by Laura McHolm
‘Tis the season of gratitude, giving and of course: decorating, parties, feasts, shopping and more. But before you go down your merry, merry to do list, think about the needs of your community and all the stuff and clutter you don’t need around your home. Perhaps, you have clothing, furniture, kitchen items, or even food you have been meaning to clear out? The jolly news is charitable organizations make it even easier for you to donate your household items to assist those in need this time of year. You can make a difference, so everyone can have a joyful holiday. And, you get to rediscover the holiday joy you experienced as a child.
This is not just another to do on your holiday list, it’s very simple and the rewards are immense – it’s the ultimate win- win! You assist others and at the same time you get a clutter-free home, all prepped for the holidays. No need to scramble to find a solution for outgrown clothes and furniture, and pantry items you will never use, simply follow this guide of “What to Give and Where to Give” and the process will be Grinch-free!
1. Non-Perishable Food
Make room for all of the yummy holiday goodies! Wondering if your food bank wants your three pound bottle of mustard? Here are the top items that they need:
Check with your local fire department, churches, synagogues, schools, and grocery stores to see if they are hosting food pantry donations drop offs
Visit www.MoveForHunger.org, a non-profit organization that will connect you with a local moving company that will deliver your non-perishable food donations to your local food bank for you. Check out their Find A Mover tool.
Willing to roll-up your sleeves? Start your own food drive. Simply ask local businesses, schools and libraries to put out your colorfully decorated food drive donation boxes and use your social networks to get the word out. It only takes 1.2lbs of food to provide a meal to an individual in need, so it doesn’t matter how big your food drive is, every little bit helps.
Make room for your holiday sweaters! Bring gently used clothing to the following charities or go online or call them to see if they will come to your door to pick up your donations.
Baby, kids and adult clothing
Coats (Kids and families are in great need of coats this time of year.)
Where to Donate:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Check with your local fire department, churches, synagogues and schools, to see if they are hosting clothing donation drop offs
Make room for what Santa brings! Get your kids involved in sorting through their things so they get to learn the ultimate gift – the gift of giving!
Gently used, unbroken toys or new toys that are unwrapped (it depends on the charity if a new toy is required so contact them first.)
Figuring out what makes for good design is an admittedly subjective exercise: Ask a dozen experts their thoughts on, say, why faux Mid-Century Modern is still popular in American interior design long after “Mad Men” has left us, and you’ll likely get a dozen different opinions.
Nevertheless, some home design trends manage to rise to mass acceptance. Thanks to unstoppable forces like HGTV and Pinterest—which might be single-handedly responsible for the misguided installation of thousands of sliding barn doors over the past few years—these trends tend to take on a life of their own.
And sometimes they just won’t die, even when they absolutely should.
From backsplashes to mudroom floors to laundry room doldrums, the almighty cement tile reigned supreme this year. It was the darling of many a Pinterest board and crowed about in virtually every major design magazine.
But in 2018, you should wave goodbye, says Karen Wolf, principal designer at Karen B. Wolf Interiors in New Jersey.
“They look great, [but] the first issue is longevity,” she says. “Cement cracks. The second is the craziness of many of the patterns. Too bold, too graphic, too bright, 3-D, and, more often than not, they’re crammed into tiny spaces for impact.”
In other words, if you live in an 1800s farmhouse, a geometric pattern might seem wildly out of place. And, Wolf warns, “unlike wallpaper, this material is much harder to rip out.”
If you can’t say no to this trend, at least choose a well-crafted design in an appropriate pattern and color that you think you’ll like for years to come.
Ah, 2017—the year of the pineapple, the flamingo, and the philodendron leaf. We’ll be the first to admit that we loved this whimsical and exotic trend that made us feel like we were permanently on vacation. But it burned out fast.
“Although they add a fun aesthetic to bohemian-styled interiors, their loud patterns are great only for a season,” says Emilie Baltorinic, an interior designer at Living Spaces. “Unless you’re in a tropical climate, they tend to feel really out of place after summer has passed.”
3. Cacti everywhere
Photo by Ryan Wallcoverings
Cactus decor had a moment this year. The spiky succulents were growing like weeds in the corners of our living rooms, in our artwork, and on our wallpaper.
But now these prints “have become absolutely overdone,” Baltorinic says.
“What does it even mean? ‘I’m edgy’? ‘I went to Coachella’? I don’t get it,” says designer Christina Harmon, founder of luxury home goods site Epitome Home. “Living in California, I have a great appreciation for desert beauty, but kitschy cactus print doesn’t read that way to me anymore. It’s done.”
So leave the prickly plants where they belong: in your yard.
4. The chevron pattern
The basic chevron—a simple zigzag pattern that incorporates two colors—has been inescapable for the past few seasons, much to designers’ chagrin.
It seemed we couldn’t turn around in 2017 without bumping into some version of the pattern in everything from lampshades to backsplashes. But while it can be cute in kids’ rooms, “it looks cheap in adult living spaces,” Harmon says.
If you’re unwilling to let go of your chevron prints just yet, try incorporating more ornate versions of the pattern (herringbone is a nice alternative). Just don’t overdo it.
Once the prominent design feature in open-concept kitchens, the overstated hood fan is now officially so yesterday, with designers predicting it’ll soon be seamlessly integrated into cabinetry.
“Hood fans were never aesthetically pleasing in the first place, just utilitarian,” says designer Ana Cummings.
But thanks to HGTV, buyers went crazy for them as a design concept and they became visual centerpieces of the modern kitchen. No more! In 2018, Cummings predicts a return to sleek, streamlined kitchen design.
6. Farmhouse style
Photo by Inplace Studio
Let’s bring this one behind the barn and shoot it, shall we?
Call it the Chip and Joanna Gaines effect: Over the past four years, everyone this side of Waco, TX, wanted a farmhouse sink and shiplap walls. But in the new year—and with “Fixer Upper” coming to an end—the farmhouse chic style is starting to finally feel “a little too contrived,” says Oregon-based designer Arlene Lord.
Lord has a particular animus toward “those very, very overdone words or phrases you see on walls, plaques and pieces of wood. I mean, when you are at the beach do you really need a sign telling you that you are at the beach?”
The idea of farmhouse decor was OK in concept, designers say, but the execution went awry.
“While [the Gaines duo] brought farmhouse decor to the mainstream, unfortunately viewers took it to a whole new level,” says New York–based designer Tracy Stern. “Home decor lovers everywhere have been covering their entire house with items that look straight out of a barn.”
7. White-on-white everything
Photo by Milton Architects
Look, guys, we know that crisp white bedding seems like a beautiful idea. But we live in the real world—one where kids, pets, and the errant wine glass pose quite the threat to your nice new stuff.
“People are now embracing rich shades of brown, black, and green,” Stern says. “For a seductive yet sophisticated space, incorporate a signature black wall into your home. And if you’re drawn to more earthy tones, forest green and rust brown pops are a must.”
8. Tuscan-themed anything
Photo by JMA INTERIOR DESIGN
The love for Tuscan style goes deep: This trend started surfacing en masse in 2005 or 2006, designers say, and has hung on longer than expected.
With this decor theme, you get a lot of deep reds and golds, oil-rubbed bronze, travertine tile, and oversized furniture, giving an overall heavy, ornate look that pro designers say is dated.
“You see these a lot in California,” Harmon says. “But homes in Tuscany don’t actually look like this. Can I get some Milan in 2018?”
It’s everywhere, from your iPhone to your living room, and as a result, “it no longer feels special,” Harmon says.
10. The open floor plan
Photo by P2 Design
This is a tough one to call. The pros are highly conflicted on whether the open floor plan will persist in 2018. Some designers say consumers will continue to crave open space to facilitate family and social gathering and entertaining.
But for New Jersey interior designer Mark Polo, it’s a thing of the past.
“We are starting to entertain more traditionally, with sit-down dinners,” he says. “And there is nothing worse than seeing the dirty dishes and pots while you are serving the beef Wellington.”
Inventory constraints that have fueled a sharp rise in home prices and made it difficult for buyers to gain a foothold in the market will begin to ease next year as part of broad and continued market improvements.
The easing of the inventory shortage, which is expected to result in more manageable increases in home prices and a modest acceleration of home sales, is being predicted based on developments first detected by realtor.com® late this summer. The annual forecast, which is among the industry’s bellwethers in tracking and analyzing major trends in the housing market, also foresees an increase in millennial mortgages and strong sales growth in Southern markets. The wildcard in 2018 will be the impact of tax reform legislation currently being debated in Congress.
Next year will set the stage for a significant inflection point in the housing shortage. Inventory increases will be felt in higher priced segments after spring home buying season, which we expect to take hold and begin to provide relief for buyers and drive sales growth in 2019 and beyond.
Realtor.com® Forecast for Key Housing Indicators
Realtor.com® 2018 Forecast
Home price appreciation
3.2% increase, enabling a sales pickup
Average 4.6% throughout the year and reach 5.0% (30 year fixed) by the end
Existing home sales
2.5% growth, low inventory trend starts to reverse
3% growth in home starts; 7% growth in single family home starts
New home sales
Home ownership rate
Stabilize at 63.9% after bottom in Q2-2016
Five Housing Trends for 2018
Inventory expected to begin to increase – In August, the U.S. housing market began to see a higher than normal month-over-month deceleration in inventory that has continued into fall. Based on this pattern, realtor.com® projects U.S. year-over-year inventory growth to tick up into positive territory by fall 2018, for the first time since 2015. Inventory declines are expected to decelerate slowly throughout the year, reaching a 4 percent year-over-year decline in March before increasing in early fall, after the peak home-buying months. Boston; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville; and Philadelphia are predicted to see inventory recover first. The majority of this growth is expected in the mid-to-upper tier price points, which includes U.S. homes priced above $350,000. Recovery for starter homes is expected to take longer because their levels were significantly depleted by first time buyers.
Price appreciation expected to slow – Home prices are forecasted to slow to 3.2 percent growth year-over-year nationally, from an estimated increase of 5.5 percent in 2017. Most of the slowing will be felt in the higher-priced segment as more available inventory in this price range and a smaller pool of buyers forces sellers to price competitively. Entry-level homes will continue to see price gains due to the larger number of buyers that can afford them and more limited homes available for sale in this price range.
Millennials anticipated to gain market share in all home price segments – Although millennials will continue to face challenges next year with rising interest rates and home prices, they are on track to gain mortgage market share in all price points, due to the sheer size of the generation. Millennials could reach 43 percent of home buyers taking out a mortgage by the end of 2018, up from an estimated 40 percent in 2017. With the largest cohort of millennial expected to turn 30 in 2020, their homeownership market share is only expected to increase.
Millennials are a driving force in today’s housing market. They already dominate lower price home mortgage and are getting close to overtaking older generations for mid- and upper-tier mortgages. While financially secure in general, their debt to income ratios have started to increase as they compete for higher priced homes.
Southern markets predicted to lead in sales growth – Southern cities are anticipated to beat the national average in home sales growth in 2018 with Tulsa, Okla.; Little Rock, Ark.; Dallas; and Charlotte, N.C. leading the pack. Sales are expected to grow by 6 percent or more in these markets, compared with 2.5 percent nationally. The majority of this growth can be attributed to healthy building levels combating the housing shortage. With inventory growth just around the corner, these areas are primed for sales gains in years to come.
Tax reform will be a major wildcard – At the time of this forecast, both the House and Senate had bills up for consideration, but neither had passed and their impact was not included in the forecast for 2018 sales and prices. Since then, the House has passed its tax bill and the Senate bill is likely to be voted on soon. While the ultimate impact of tax reform will depend on the details of the plan that is finally adopted, both versions include provisions that are likely to decrease incentives for mobility and reduce ownership tax benefits. On the flip side, some taxpayers, including renters, are likely to see tax cuts. While more disposable income for buyers is positive for housing, the loss of tax benefits for owners could lead to fewer sales and impact prices negatively over time with the largest impact on markets with higher prices and incomes.
Next year, home prices are anticipated to increase 3.2 percent year-over-year after finishing 2017 up 5.5 percent year-over-year. Existing home sales are forecast to increase 2.5 percent to 5.60 million homes due in-part to inventory increases, compared to 2017’s 0.4 percent increase or 5.47 million homes. Mortgage rates are expected to reach 5.0 percent by the end of 2018 due to stronger economic growth, inflationary pressure, and monetary policy normalization in the year ahead.
Top 100 Largest U.S. Metros Ranked by Forecasted 2018 Sales and Price Growth
2018 Sales Growth
2018 Price Growth
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla.
Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Colorado Springs, Colo
Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash.
Austin-Round Rock, Texas
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.
Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.
Boise City, Idaho
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.
Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C.
San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.
Charleston-North Charleston, S.C.
New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Portland-South Portland, Maine
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla
El Paso, Texas
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.
Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
Greensboro-High Point, N.C.
New Orleans-Metairie, La.
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.
New Haven-Milford, Conn.
Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa
Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.
San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas
Baton Rouge, La.
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.
Kansas City, Mo-Kan.
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.
Realtor.com’s model-based forecast uses data on the housing market and overall economy to estimate values for these variables for the year ahead. The forecast result is a projection for annual total sales increase (total 2018 existing-home sales vs. 2017) and annual median price increase (2018 median existing-home sales price vs. 2017).
Selling your home through the holiday season can certainly come with a few challenges. Chilly, wet weather and falling leaves in November and December might mean more raking and shoveling to keep your home pristine. However, the damp weather and dark skies don’t have to squelch your holiday spirit. In fact, the holidays are a perfect time to showcase the warmth and character of your home to prospective buyers.
1. Do choose appropriately sized holiday decorations. Be thoughtful about the size of decorations you use. A good question to ask yourself is whether the piece helps to positively showcase the space, light and charm of the room. Or does its large size detract from the best features? Your goal is to be festive while honoring the value of your home.
For example, displaying a large multipiece holiday installation might be a family tradition for your living room, but doing so won’t highlight the value and space of that room. Perhaps find a new home for this piece on the front porch, or display only a smaller portion of the installation on a table.
Similarly, you might have to trade in that huge fresh evergreen tree that you look forward to every year for a slightly smaller version. Large trees and decorations, while festive, may make the room look smaller. Choose an oversized tree only if you have a really large room.
2. Do mind the light. Be sure your holiday decorating efforts don’t block any natural light from windows and doors. Though this may be a common sense tip, it may not be as easy to adhere to as you’d think, since windows are one of the most common places to place holiday decor. Just think of what you see when driving through your neighborhood during the holidays: Many residents affix decorations directly to the windows, place large, brightly lighted trees directly in front of them or install candles or figurines on the windowsill. We just love to showcase our holiday spirit to the world.
For the selling season, try placing your holiday pride far from the window. You might put decor outside your front door or, if inside, in an unobtrusive corner. If you absolutely must locate decor near a window, then place it far enough away that the natural light still flows in. Otherwise, by reducing the natural light, you’ll detract from the value of the room.
3. Do coordinate with the colors of the room. Maintaining a color-coordinated design scheme matters, even when all you want to do is deck the halls in red and green. Remember, every room of your home should be as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. So, if your favorite holiday decorations clash with the colors in your room, think twice about using those specific pieces. Fortunately, there are tons of creative ways to add holiday accents without throwing off your palette.
Metallics are one nonintrusive way to add a little festive holiday flair. Gold, silver or copper holiday accents pair well with almost any color scheme. White is also a peaceful, festive, yet still neutral accent color for almost any holiday decorating effort. Try replacing multicolored tree lights with sparkling white lights to give your room a more elegant feel.
4. Do keep movements and sounds to a minimum. Moving parts, loud noises and even festive music will be a distraction for potential buyers. So please don’t welcome buyers with a singing toy soldier or dancing snowman. But if you must have those items on your mantel, then be sure to turn them off during showings. The same goes for flashing lights. Opt for simple white static lights that cast a beautiful glow, creating a neutral holiday feeling for many buyers.
5. Do decorate to showcase your home’s architectural features. Holiday decorating can give you a brilliant opportunity to highlight your home’s most attractive architectural features. For example, you might wrap a tasteful garland around a beautiful curved staircase. You can showcase your fireplace with accents such as knitted stockings or a strand of lights.
6. Do use exterior holiday decorations to add curb appeal. Holiday decorations are a fantastic way to spruce up the exterior of your home and add some color. Wreaths, thoughtfully lighted shrubs and the occasional ribbon or bow on a mailbox can be tasteful ways to deck the exterior for the holidays. These elements will certainly add curb appeal and pleasantly welcome your potential buyers.
While a frenzy of flashing lights and rooftop ornaments might be fun and playful, try not to embrace your inner Clark Griswold. (“National Lampoon” movie-fest, anyone?) Your goal is to sell your house, not distract or even turn off your buyer by creating a neighborhood spectacle.
7. Do celebrate the holidays and create a warm, joyful feeling. There’s an advantage of offering your home for sale — and decorating it — during the holidays. If you strike the right balance, your residence will exude a positive energy and charm that can’t be felt at any other time of the year. Done well, your decorated home will offer the kind of warmth that appeals to potential buyers and helps them to imagine living there. So go ahead and celebrate what is likely your last holiday season in that home. Happy holidays!
Determining a price for your home can be stressful, especially if you don’t know how to prepare for an appraisal. If the home’s appraised value is too far from the listing price, it can make or break the deal. Plus, even though appraisers are subject to strict regulations, much of their job is subjective, which means it’s crucial for your home to make a good impression on them.
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to help present your home at its best.
Develop a critical eye
The first step toward getting ready for an appraisal can be the hardest for sellers. You need to go through the home with a critical eye and make yourself aware of any areas in need of maintenance. Doing so allows you to think like an appraiser and identify any factors that might negatively affect your home’s value.
“Go through the house very carefully to make sure everything works correctly,” says Daniel Gyomory of Century 21 Town & Country in Northville, MI. “Make sure all lights are working and all doors open and close properly, and make sure there are no leaks anywhere. You need to show that the property has been well-maintained.”
While you’re at it, you should check for things like leaky sinks, running toilets, and nail pops. As you go around the home, put everything down on one list so that you can easily refer to it later.
Catch up on your home maintenance
You guessed it: One of the most critical to-do’s is to complete any outstanding home maintenance tasks.
Go ahead and do small projects like fixing squeaky doors and cleaning out the gutters on your own. However, for bigger jobs like plumbing and electrical work, your best bet is to hire a certified professional. While it might cost a bit more upfront, hiring a professional to do the work frees you of any liability and allows you to show an invoice as proof, if need be.
And remember, these should be smaller home maintenance tasks, not big renovations. While giving a room a fresh coat of paint or adding some curb appeal is probably fine, it’s not the best idea to finish your basement right before an appraisal. Unfortunately, there aren’t any guarantees on how much value projects like these will add to your home, so sometimes they aren’t worth the money you’d put in.
Put together a list of upgrades
“I work with the seller to prepare a highlight sheet, just a simple one-page document outlining all the upgrades that have been done to the home,” says Ryan Hardy, a real estate agent with Gold Coast Realty Chicago.
Highlight sheets end up being very valuable tools, because they allow the appraiser to see all the added value in your home with just one glance. Your best bet is to sit down—either with your agent or independently—and draw up a list of all the improvements that have been made to your home within the past decade. Be sure to include approximate dates, permits, and warranties for these projects, as well.
The highlight sheet shouldn’t just include aesthetic improvements like upgraded kitchens and bathrooms. Functional and structural improvements like a new roof or HVAC system should also make the list.
Note: It’s in your best interest to overlook any improvements done without proper permitting. Since appraisers often work closely with municipal officials to verify recorded information, mentioning these upgrades might bring them to light and could cause more trouble than they’re worth.
Clean like there’s no tomorrow
“Have the house clean and clutter-free,” says Kevin Lawnton, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Schiavone & Associates in Bordentown, NJ.
It might sound like a no-brainer, but cleaning for an appraisal is so important that it bears repeating. This is the one and only chance the appraiser will get to view your home. Since his opinion of the home can actually make or break the sale, it’s crucial to ensure it’s a good one.
Your best bet is to tackle the task in two parts: a deep clean of the home a few days before the appraisal and then a final sprucing up on the big day. When it arrives, you’ll want to make sure that everything is in its place. Make the bed, pick up any errant toys from kids and pets, and do the dishes. While these factors technically aren’t included in the appraisal, they might subconsciously influence the appraiser’s opinion of your home, which can affect its determined value.
Ask your agent to get involved
The appraised value of your home is largely determined by how it compares with similar properties that have sold in your area within the past six months. Most agents will try to assist appraisers with that research by providing them with comparables that justify the sale price.
“Usually it’s up to the seller’s agent to pull together a comp report showcasing how great the property in question is compared to the current market,” says Gina Ko of Triplemint Real Estate in New York City.
Unfortunately, just like everything else in the appraisal process, comps are subject to guidelines, as well as your appraiser’s individual opinion. Some are able to factor in transactions in progress, while others need to stick with settled properties. Each will need to search for comps with a specific radius.
That said, your real estate agent will likely be familiar with how the appraisal process is regulated in your area. Ask your agent to put a list of comps together to give to your appraiser. Whether or not the appraiser chooses to take them into account, they will come in handy if you need to ask for an appeal after the appraisal.
As a new homeowner, there’s a good chance you’ll have the opportunity to host the Christmas festivities — after all, everyone will want to see your new place, so you’ll want it to look its best for the holidays.
NOV 29, 2017
As a new homeowner, there’s a good chance you’ll have the opportunity to host the Christmas festivities — after all, everyone will want to see your new place, so you’ll want it to look its best for the holidays.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry: Follow this simple game plan for adding decor to your new home and helping your guests settle in comfortably.
Dress Your Home in Holiday Style
Focus on decorating a few key areas in your home to create a warm, festive vibe. You don’t need — or want — to have decorations in every corner. Using too much decor will make your rooms feel smaller. Instead, make a few spots gorgeous with these tips:
Start at the front. Greet your guests with a beautiful wreath on the front door. Choose a pre-lit, battery-powered wreath so you don’t have to worry about extension cords — all you need to do is hang it up. Next, clean off your porch, clear your walkway, and add a holiday doormat. Finish with an easy “wow” factor, like a lawn figure of a nutcracker or snowman.
Trim the tree. Don’t worry about getting the tree decorated before your guests arrive. Instead, host a tree-trimming party as a fun holiday activity. Assemble your tree or place it in a stand with water the day of the party. Add lights and set out your ornaments. Then, break out the cookies and eggnog and enjoy a night of decorating with your guests.
Hang stockings with care. Decorate your mantel to make it a beautiful focal point. If you don’t have a fireplace, create your own focal point by using a bookcase or entertainment center. Bring the space to life by draping a pre-lit garland across it. Then, nestle a few similar items around the garland, such as a parade of nutcrackers, stuffed or wooden Santas, a Christmas village, a row of candles, or an arrangement of ornaments. Finish by hanging your stockings with stocking hooks or removable adhesive hooks.
Add decorations. A few places need a holiday twist: the dining table, the coffee table, and the kitchen island. While you don’t need to cover every surface, you do want to spread some holiday cheer here and there. Try something simple and quick like a glass bowl filled with ornaments, a tall jar of candy canes, or a lovely red poinsettia.
Get Ready for Guests
Treat your guests like you’d want to be treated. Once you’ve spread Christmas cheer around the house, take a few steps to get ready for company.
Clean the guest room. Declutter if you’ve put items in this rarely used room. Give it a good cleaning. If the bedding is clean but hasn’t been used in a while, toss the bedspread and pillow covers in the dryer on air-dry to fluff out any dust. Add a fun Christmas pillow to the bed, put out a basket of holiday goodies, and place a predecorated tabletop tree on the dresser.
Set up the sofa. Don’t have a guest room? If you’re pulling out the air mattress or sleeper sofa, make sure you’ve got extra bedding on hand. Vacuum underneath the sofa cushions to remove any dust or crumbs. Set aside an area for your guests to put their belongings.
Prep the bathroom. Arrange personal care items for your guests in a basket so that they’re easy to find. Show your guests where to locate clean towels and which towel bars they may use. Finally, add some festive elements to the bathroom with holiday-themed soap, air freshener, and hand towels.
Gathering with friends and family is the best part of the season. Once you’ve decorated the key places and made a welcoming spot for your guests, you can sit back and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
You’ll get 30% more sunlight shining indoors without screens on your windows.
Here’s the best part: Sunlight warms your room and saves you money on your heating bill. It’s solar power — for you!
Be sure to store your screens in your garage or basement where they won’t get damaged. In the spring you’ll want to put them back on so you can keep that 30% of the sun out and run your cooling system less.
They don’t give off a lot of light, but they’re cheerful as heck.
Drape them around a window or a mantel, or hang a string of LED glimmer lights in a tall potted plant. They’ll add a layer of soft light to your room and remind you of fireflies, flip-flops, and patio parties.
Scandinavians excel at making a home light and airy because they’ve got places where the sun doesn’t rise at all from November to January.
And you thought you had it bad.
To adapt to weeks and weeks of polar night, Swedes keep interiors pale to reflect and amplify light.
Think white walls, light woods for furniture and floors, and light upholstery. To get the look without getting rid of your dark furniture and floors, put white or light gray slipcovers on your sofa and chairs, and put down light-colored rugs.
The fastest way to bring a little Sweden into your room is to paint it. Try creamy white, pale blue, or dove gray.
Replace those incandescent bulbs and their yellowy light with LEDs, which produce a brighter, whiter light.
But get your bright right:
The higher the K rating on the bulb, the cooler and whiter its light.
For cool, white light, opt for a bulb rated 3,500K to 4,100K.
For blue-white light that’s closest to natural daylight, use a bulb between 5,000K and 6,500K.
Unless you live in Sweden (see above) you may want to leave the uber-high K bulbs for grow rooms and seasonal affective disorder therapy clinics — because they’re as bright as real sunlight on a hot summer day at noon. You’ll need sunglasses to read.
Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors.
If you don’t want the distraction of seeing your reflection all the time, use a large, convex one — also known as a fish-eye mirror. It will amplify light better than a flat one. Another option: Hang a gallery wall of small mirrors.
#6 Replace Heavy Curtains With Blinds or Roman Shades
It’s the ultimate way to bring more natural light into your house. A window only catches sun for a couple of hours a day, but a skylight lets in the sun all day.
An indoor view of the sky makes deepest January more tolerable. And feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, light streaming from above, is liberating. A skylight, installed, can cost as much as $3,000. A cheaper alternative is a tubular skylight, which costs around $1,000.
If you’re really good with tools, you can install a tubular skylight yourself. Don’t even think about installing a full-blown skylight yourself.
Putting pots of plants around your room will remind you that spring and green will return.
Match plants to the amount of light you have, because dead and dying plants are depressing. Tropicals that thrive in indirect light are usually the best choice. If you have a sunny window you’ve got more plant options.
Bonus points for adding a plant that blooms in the winter, like a kaffir lily or anthurium.
February 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day. Really. Since February is when winter is feeling longer than a seminar on insurance underwriting, this is exactly when you need to make cream cheese brownies.
Chocolate won’t make the sun shine longer or your house brighter, but it will make you feel better because … endorphins. Besides, you spent a ton of money on that marble-topped kitchen island and those double ovens, so get baking.
LEANNE POTTSis an Atlanta-based journalist and serial home remodeler. She’s tackled five fixer-uppers and is working on a sixth. She’s written about everything from forest fires to dog-friendly decor and spent a decade leading the digital staff of HGTV.