5 Hacks to Make a Tiny, Cramped Closet Look Huge

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No matter how beautiful and spacious your home is, one out-of-sight area could still make visitors cringe: your closet. Especially if it’s small, dark, and cluttered.

“A house can be amazing, but if it has no closet space or the closets are super small, which you do see sometimes in older homes, that can be a major turn-off,” says Lori Matzke, owner of Home Staging Expert.

It’s a fact: Having ample closet space is a high priority among homeowners—all the more so if you’re trying to sell your place. After all, you never know if a home buyer is a fashionista with oodles of apparel, or just someone with tons of stuff to store (which is just about everyone else). So, trust us, home buyers checking out your house definitely won’t be shy about opening up your closets to see what’s up!

While you might be able to renovate and add closets to your home or make the ones you have bigger, that will be costly and not necessarily worth the investment. Instead, staging a closet to look its best is a relatively inexpensive way to make what you have look more appealing. Here’s how to do it right.

Declutter your closets

Get those garbage bags ready, because the first step is cleaning and clearing. You don’t want a potential buyer opening that door only to have an old box of scarves or your extra bedsheets fall on their heads!

Kris Lippi, owner of Get Listed Realty in Hartford, CT, suggests removing as many items from your closets as you can to show them off as spacious. If you have to invest in a self-storage space to hold your old boxes of letters or your holiday decorations, do it.

Add a fresh coat of paint—and a light

“Small or dark closets are never a good selling point,” Matzke warns. To maximize the space you’ve got, Matzke suggests painting the entire closet white or off-white to appear brighter and larger.

You can also add a closet light to brighten the space. This will give buyers the sense that they’ll be able to find things, even way, way in the back.

Finally, attach a mirror to the inside of the closet door or to the back of the wall, Matzke suggests, to add a sense of depth. This “can make the space feel much more livable,” she notes.

 

Add some closet organizers

If your closet always ends up as a pile of clothes, this may be the time to pull the trigger on a fancy closet organization system.

Investing in a California Closets type of system, or even one custom-built by a local carpenter, can make a huge difference. Or, on the lower end of the budget, shelves from your local home improvement store can accomplish something similar for less money. A few simple elements such as shoe organizers that make the entire closet look neater and larger will go a long way without costing you a significant chunk of change.

“There are certainly DIY closet systems, or even just individual organizers you can implement yourself and attach to the closet walls, if you’re handy or maybe know someone who is,” Matzke says. “You don’t even need an entire system.”

Display your stuff

Although it’s tempting to cart all of your stuff away to a self-storage unit, remember that part of staging a home is making it look just lived in enough for other home buyers to see themselves in your home. When you add your clothes back in, one-third of the space on each shelf or hanger rack should remain open, making the space appear useful, rather than overflowing.

Invest in some nice hangers to give it a truly organized feel, and position all the items in your closet so they face forward or are hung in the same direction—just like boutiques do, Lippi advises.

Fix what’s broken

This isn’t about space, but ease of use: Does the door of your closet stick? Is that shelf hanging by a thread? It may not bother you, but others will notice—and this detracts from their first impression. As Matzke warns, “A sticky closet door or one that just doesn’t open smoothly or all the way would be frustrating.”

Plus, it leaves the feeling that your closet presents a problem; spacious or not, this isn’t good. All in all, it’s these little things that make a closet look and feel spacious and well-organized—and can make your home the envy of all who peer inside.

Photo by Renew Doors and Closets LLC

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Welcome Home….to a Frozen Pipe

Has the polar vortex given your home’s pipes a chill? Here are some tips to fight back and help avoid serious damage.

Every winter, homeowners fear the cold weather and the plumbing expenses that can come with the frigid temperatures. You can see the concern with the seasonal Google search spikes for the term “frozen pipe.”

Over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, the temps dipped to single digits in New Jersey. My family and I were away skiing in Vermont for the long weekend when the steam boiler in our home ran low on water and automatically turned off. With the heating system offline, the temperature in my house plummeted. The thermostat claimed 34 degrees, but the temperatures in the bathroom dipped into the mid-20s. The bathroom was so cold, ice had formed in the toilet. My superstitious children throw ice into the toilet when trying for a snow day, but unfortunately, I couldn’t blame them for this. Most of the walls of our 100-year-old house had no insulation until this past fall when we had blown-in insulation installed to improve efficiency. But even with the best insulation, a working heating system is critical.

Once I realized the issue and added water to the heating system, I quickly turned the thermostat way up and turned off the main water line to the house. I was fearing the worst—imagining that the entire house would have serious water damage and need to be replumbed.

We survived two days without water, and luckily, with the heat cranked up to 80 degrees, the ice blockage melted. We cautiously turned the main water line back on and suddenly water started spraying all over the attached garage and the floor of a recently-renovated bathroom. So, off the water went again, and we began the process of locating the burst pipe.

A few cuts into the ceiling in the bathroom didn’t yield any clues because the insulation was dry. Next, we cut into the garage ceiling and found a copper pipe split with a 1” gash. It took just a couple of quick rotations of the pipe cutter to remove the broken portion. Finally, I slipped a SharkBite valve onto the end of the pipe. These couplers are amazing and super-easy—they don’t require any solder or sweating. You simply slide the valve right onto the pipe to create a water-tight seal. With the new valve installed, we were ready to turn the water back on. Thankfully, the repair held and we didn’t have any other ruptures in the water lines.

Some tips to help you avoid frozen pipes.

  • Make sure to service your heating system annually.
  • Keep the proper level of water in the system, especially if you are going to be away. One option to consider is an auto-filler on your steam boiler.
  • If you have pipes that run adjacent to exterior walls, set the temperature on your thermostat a bit higher than normal during a cold snap. A few more dollars to the utility company is still cheaper than a burst pipe.
  • Turn on the bathroom heater fan if you have one.
  • Open lower cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms to allow warm airflow to the pipes behind them.
  • Let a small flow of water drip from faucets if the temperatures are going to be below freezing.
  • Insulate around any pipes and block any airflow from the cold exterior.
  • If the toilet fill supply line is on an exterior wall, you can place a string under the flapper so that the tank fills slowly with water to keep ice from forming.
  • Monitor the temperature in your house if you are away with a smart thermostat like Nest.
  • Keep SharkBite valves or end stop caps on hand in case of emergencies.

One final bit of extremely important advice: everyone in your home should be able to locate and turn off the main water supply. We have large, very visible yellow tags on all of the valves in our utility room so that if we have a problem, a family member, neighbor or friend would be able to locate the shut-off valve and turn off the water or gas quickly in an emergency.

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Leslie Sells Houses

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Looking To Sell In Spring? Here Are Some Tips!

 

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When selling your home, the buyers first impression is important. Your yard can make a big impact on getting buyers through the front door to see your home.  Especially after the cold rainy winter months.

  1. Remove the debris. If the winter’s seemingly incessant wind, rain, and snow have done a number on your trees, start your clean-up efforts by collecting the fallen branches and scattered sticks. You also can rent a wood-chipper from many garden or hardware stores and turn your debris into mulch.
  2. Rake dead leaves and twigs. Last year’s leaves will make great compost, but not if they keep the grass from absorbing sunlight. Thoroughly rake the yard and garden beds and, if you don’t plan to compost, investigate whether your town will be making special arrangements to collect bagged leaves.
  3. Prune and trim. Prune back weatherworn bushes and hedges as well as any perennials that look overgrown. Trim damaged tree limbs and branches that you can reach, and decide if needed, for a professional tree trimmer to take care of the rest.
  4. Map out landscaping and garden plans. If you’re going to make any changes to your
    current landscaping, make a sketch of your lawn indicating what sort of trees, shrubs, or plants you’d like to add. Even for DIY types, it’s always a good idea to consult with a gardener or landscaper at the nursery before making any final decisions or purchases.
  5. Start planting. Check the planting dates on your new purchases. Any plants, trees or shrubbery hearty enough to survive early spring’s still cool nights can be put in the ground now.
  6. Use Planters. Bright floral filled planters can cheer up a front entryway or porch. Don’t forget your deck or patio. Larger planters with Japanese maples or a small shrub can dress up an area. Making an inviting retreat to relax in.

 

 

“Outside and inside make the home you are selling shine. Potential Buyers will envision themselves enjoying the yard and making new memories in their new home. A little time in the yard and garden can have big payoffs when selling a home.

Leslie Sell Houses

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Why I Chose to be a Realtor

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I chose to be a REALTOR® because this career allowed me to set my own destiny.  The possibilities are endless when you are a REALTOR®.  Some people are happy selling 3 houses a year, others are happy selling 50 houses a year. So yes, it is a good life which is why I have been a REALTOR® for 20+ years. I really cannot imagine myself doing anything else.

The reason I have been with Hawkins Poe for so many years is because the education Frank Hawkins  provide to us at our Tuesday morning meetings is superb and this is a company that is locally family owned.

Before that, I was an Office Administrator for Chassis Components, a race car shop.  As owners of the shop, my husband and I facilitated the building of the race cars, and I helped create the manual for the crew.

When I’m not helping my sellers or buyers, I love to garden.  I enjoy planting new flowers and watch them come back up again next year. I also volunteer at a retirement center, taking seniors to their doctor appointments and to the grocery store so they don’t have to pay for public transportation.

I find helping others  is the greatest motivation that keeps me on the move.  It really motivates me to help my clients buy and sell their homes!

Leslie Swindahl, REALTOR®

Leslie Sells Houses

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Buying and Selling Houses in Today’s Market

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As most people are aware, the Puget Sound real estate market is still pretty hot right now.

Seattle, Bellevue and King and Pierce County are experiencing a balance market and in the greater Tacoma area, but throughout the region we are seeing prices escalate and a shortage of available homes for sale. There are bidding wars, buyers are waiving the right to conduct home inspections, which we don’t recommend and  prices are exceeding appraised values, and many folks feel frustrated or intimidated.

Nevertheless, every day new homes are listed and come on the market, and everyday buyers successfully make offers and get them accepted.  Working with a REALTOR to implement a good strategy will help you whether you are a buyer or a seller.

As a seller, especially of a home in a “hot” price range, it can feel exciting and flattering to get lots of showings and even multiple offers.  Buyers can fear to lose a home to a higher bidder, and sometimes offer more than a home will appraise for.  This can cause a sale to fail, aggravating everyone. Your REALTOR should be able to provide good advice in avoiding the pitfall of accepting a sky-high offer, only to have it collapse due to a low appraisal.

There are options your broker can suggest to a buyers’ broker to make their offer more acceptable. In some cases, a buyer can agree to bring extra down payment funds to make up for a low appraisal. Or an offer which doesn’t require the seller to pay the buyers’ closing costs can keep the purchase price lower, making the appraisal less challenging, and keeping the sellers’ net proceeds higher.

Opinions differ, but some real estate professionals advocate being transparent with buyers’ brokers in a multiple offer situation. Giving your broker permission to disclose some information about other offers, and about your priorities can help guide buyers in making an offer that best meets your needs. Discuss this with your REALTOR and develop a plan.

As a buyer, you need a REALTOR who is advising you immediately of listings which may work for you. Time is of the essence! Strategizing with your broker to ask questions of the listing broker to find out as much as possible about the sellers’ motivation can help make your offer stand out. It’s not always just the price that matters to a seller. For example, they may desire a fast closing, or perhaps a delayed one. Giving them what they want to get what you need is the key to negotiations, and knowledge is power.

Sometimes you can play on the heart strings of a seller. A heartfelt letter (Love Letter) explaining why their home is such a great fit for you may tilt the scales in your favor.

With good REALTOR representation, you can do well in this market. Use strategy, and work smart.and get your offer accepted and to closing. Sold.

 

Why Homeownership Matters Now More Than Eve

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Why Homeownership Matters Now More Than Ever

 

Study after study shows that no matter what generation Americans belong to, the vast majority believe that homeownership is an important part of their American Dream. The benefits of homeownership can be broken into two main categories: financial and non-financial (often referred to as emotional or social reasons.)
For Americans approaching retirement age, one of the greatest benefits to homeownership is the added net worth they have been able to achieve simply by paying their mortgage!
The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University focused on homeowners and renters over the age of 65. Their study revealed that the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters at this age group was actually 47.5 times greater, with nearly half their net worth coming from home equity!

Homeowners over the age of 65 are much more financially prepared for retirement and often own their homes outright if they were fortunate enough to purchase their homes before the age of 36.
Their 30 years of mortgage payments have paid off as they gained equity through their monthly payments and as home values appreciated.
It is no surprise that lifelong renters have had a hard time accruing net worth as the latest Census report shows that the Median Asking Rent has been climbing consistently over the last 30 years.

Bottom Line
Your monthly mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ building your net worth with every payment!
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4 Good Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter

4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter!

 

4 Good Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insight report revealed that home prices have appreciated by 5.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase 

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4.8%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase in 2019.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person building that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

4 Good Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter

 

4 Reasons to Buy A Home This Winter!

Leslie Sells Houses


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