The 5 Best Things to Do When You Move into Your New Home

Natural scented items for the home

Yes, a more homey home starts with a new toilet seat.

Moving into your dream home can be a daunting task. Between unpacking, cleaning, and trying to find that stray roll of toilet paper, it may feel like you’ve lost your mind in a sea of Bubble Wrap.

That’s why I wanted to share with you five simple things that you should do during the first month in your new home. These may feel like back-burner tasks, but really, they’ll help you sleep better at night and make your new place feel less like a house and more like your home.

When we moved into our dream house, we were tired, overwhelmed, and couldn’t remember where we put the sippy cups for our 10-month-old son. Plus, we had no idea what to do first! Of course, we cleaned and unpacked, but what next?

This handful of to-dos walks you through each of those tasks and why you should tackle them first and foremost.

Let’s get to it!

#1 Lock It Up

Security is the No. 1 concern for most people in a new environment. You can easily switch out your locks and deadbolts to your new home to protect your valuables and your family.

Woman securing a front door lockImage: Bower Power

Now’s the time to consider the lockset finish, and the options are endless. When it comes to exterior locks, make sure you choose something that looks timeless and can be cleaned easily.

A new security system is also a good idea. The options for this are endless as well. Systems with online monitoring, smartphone compatibility, thermostat control, and even video monitors for the interior including the baby nursery are super helpful. Even if that room is empty now, it might not be in the future – so go ahead and secure it!

#2 Remove Toilet Seats

Some folks may think it’s unnecessary to replace toilet seats, but my point here is to simply remove them. By removing your toilet seats, you can really deep clean under the bolts and hinges where the “yucks” like to hide. Your goal is to make sure your royal throne is YOU-worthy.

Woman standing in front of toilet seats on a wallImage: Bower Power

You can reinstall your existing seat or opt to shop for a new one. New versions with night-lights, padding, or even child-sized attachments are available. Either way, you’ll know your favorite seat in the house is ready for your entire family.

#3 Improve Your Home’s Air

Changing an air filter is a three-minute task, and it should be done right after moving into a new home – even if the previous owners swear the chore was just done. Changing out a filter can help improve the performance of your air conditioning and furnace and help with any allergens in the home.

Man checking air filterImage: Bower Power

This inexpensive fix can also save you money! The U.S. Department of Energy says that replacing your dirty air filter with a new one can lower your A/C’s energy consumption by 5 percent to 10 percent.

It’s a good idea to write the replacement date directly on the filter when you put it in so you can be sure you know how long it’s been since the last change.

Also, take the time to test and change out batteries in all your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These are often tested during inspections, but the batteries can die and tampered-with units aren’t uncommon, especially if a house was left vacant.

Related: How to Keep Your Heating and Cooling System in Top Shape

#4  Paint Your Front Door

Painting your front door (or freshening it up with a coat of oil if it’s wood) can show your new neighbors that you’ve arrived on the block and are investing in your home. This simple task is so easy!

Woman painting her front door greenImage: Bower Power

After you do proper prep work, which includes sanding the surface, make sure you pick an exterior-grade paint and use a high-quality bristle brush to give it multiple thin coats for the best coverage. It’s a great time to show off your personal style, and these days any color goes!

Every day you walk in through your newly made-over door, you’ll feel welcomed into your new home and inspired to keep creating a space you love.

#5 Choose Your Signature Scent

Every house has a smell. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that “other people smell” that’s definitely not your own particular brand of aroma. Even if the smell isn’t bad, it just isn’t yours, and that makes you feel like an intruder in someone else’s space. Make your dream home even more dreamy by filling it with your signature scent.

Don’t have a signature scent? Check out a candle store or the air-freshener aisle to peruse the options, and then regularly use your favorite in your new home. My favorite is a lemon-vanilla-rosemary mix that I let simmer all day on the stove; it fills every room of the house.

In homes that have particularly distressing “stanks,” try getting the carpets cleaned before moving in the furniture. It can eliminate the smell as well as remove allergens, dirt, and stains.

Leslie Sells Houses

Related:  From Carpets to Critters, Most Move-In Must Dos

Headshot of Bower Power bloggers

Effective Improvements for a Faster Sale

Related image

You have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP! Here are the ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.

You have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP!  You need to move or want those proceeds immediately, but how? Let’s go through the best ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.

First, curbside appeal.  This is the first thing every potential buyer sees so make it stand out!  Some suggestions:

  • Hire a gardener to clean and spruce up the entrance
  • Remove superfluous items from the front of your home, i.e. garbage cans, strollers, etc.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior

Second, this is the time to clean and eliminate all clutter inside your home.  Here’s how:

  • Give away extra toys, clothes, and anything else that makes it look crowded or disorganized
  • Organize the kitchen countertops and closets
  • Place bulky items in storage

Third, landscaping matters.  A large yard cannot shine if the plants, grass and trees are in bad shape.  Try the following ideas:

  • Artificial grass-this always looks amazing and eliminates the need for maintenance
  • Tie orchids around the trees, plant fresh flowers and maintain the grass and trees

Fourth, look under the hood.  Make the inside of your home look as good as possible.

  •  This is the time to do some of the minor repairs you have been putting off.  This will make your home look better and may eliminate certain issues during the Inspection Period.
  •  Yes, it seems expensive or time-consuming.  However, if you hire a professional company, this can truly make the difference and get you more money in less time.

Finally, hire a professional, licensed realtor.  Leslie Sells Houses A realtor with experience and expertise can help sell your home quickly for the best price.

Best of luck!

Your local  Realtor Leslie Sells Houses



How to Make Space for a New Pet at Home

What you post online could put you at risk.

Image result for pictures of posting online

Here are 4 Ways to Stay Safe.

What you post online could put you at risk. Here are 4 Ways to Stay Safe.

Your safety with regards to Technology is our concern. And at times we write about potential threats and provide you with resources, so you can stay safe. For this reason, today we write about the unpleasant side of geotagging. While geotagging can be fun and convenient, we believe it’s important to be aware of how geotagging works. Because although we may like the benefits and convenience of it, there are also dangers that come with it.




In layman’s terms, Geotagging is when your geographical location is tagged to something digital, such as a post, photo or video.

  • Sometimes geotagging is done automatically for us, such as when you take a picture with your smartphone. You don’t see it, but your location is automatically recorded in the meta-data of the photo.
  • Sometimes we geotag ourselves on our social media channels. Social networks have geotagging features built in (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat). Do you ‘check-in’ or ‘add location’ to your social media post when you arrive at a restaurant? A concert? The airport?  If you have, then you’ve geotagged your location.
  • Sometimes we geotag ourselves on apps, such as when we share our ‘run’ or ‘bike’ trail online.


The danger of ‘checking in’ or ‘adding location.’


Depending on your online privacy settings – and your friends’!– your geographical information can be seen online not just by friends and family you trust, but it could potentially be seen by strangers with criminal intentions.

People who have malicious intentions will exploit to their advantage anything you give them.  When you geotag yourself to a location and you– or your friends– share your location with the public, criminals can learn your patterns. They call it Cybercasing.

Cybercasing refers to how geotagged text, photos and videos can be used by criminals and other negatively motivated 3rd parties.” Burglary, Identity Theft and Cyberstalking are only a few of the possible crimes you could be a victim of.

Thieves want to know when you are out of the house and for how long are you out of the house. If you “check-in” at the same coffee shop or gym at the same time on specific days, someone could determine your routine and exploit that information to their advantage.

Pedophiles stalking children want to see photos of your kids and want to know what school they go to, what parks they frequent, and what interests they have.


Photos & Videos


However, even if you don’t share your location – if you only share a photo – criminals can find your location with the photo you shared.

Aside from any visible landmarks, criminals can extract the location information from the picture you posted online. If you shared a photo you took in your home, they could extract what valuables you own (from the photo) and your location (from the meta-data).

This is relevant as well for the photos and videos of the homes you list for sale in YouTube. Does the video of the house show any valuables inside? Have you put the address of the house as well? You could have just put your client at risk!

What you post may be innocent – what criminals see is opportunity. For example,

  • Posting “I’m on Vacation” = no one is at the house
  • Posting “Home alone and bored” = I’m vulnerable
  • Photos of your home = look at my valuables


What you can do


1.       Learn more about the Privacy Settings of the Social Media channels and exercise apps you use.


2.       Consider turning off location services on some location sharing apps

  • Turn ‘off’ location sharing on the apps you think might pose a safety risk.
  • Keep ‘on’ the ones that are beneficial to keep – such as ‘Find My iPhone’ or ‘Find Friends’


3.      Don’t post your photos online or if you do, remove geotags from your digital photos

  • On our iPhone: Go to Settings > Privacy>Location Services> locate the name of the app or the Camera and change it from the “ON” position to the “OFF” position.


4.      Continue educating yourself on this topic.  Call your Tech Helpline for advice.

Leslie Sells Houses

How Long to Keep Tax Records

Tax records in bankers boxes in home garage

Here’s a checklist to help you decide what tax and home records to keep.

The federal tax law signed by President Donald Trump Dec. 22, 2017, goes into effect for the 2018 tax year and generally doesn’t affect tax filings for the 2017 tax year. Here’s a detailed summary of the changes.

Unless you’re living in the 123-room Spelling Manor, you probably don’t have space to store massive amounts of tax and insurance paperwork, warranties, and repair receipts related to your home.

But you’ll definitely want your paperwork at hand if you have to prove you deserved a tax deduction, file an insurance claim, or figure out if your busted oven is still under warranty.

To help you prioritize your paperwork, we’ve created a handy “How Long to Keep It” home records checklist.

First, a little background on IRS rules, which informed some of our charts:

  • The IRS says you should keep tax returns and the paperwork supporting them for at least three years after you file the return — the amount of time the IRS has to audit you. So that’s how long we advise in our charts.
  • Check with your state about state income tax, though. Some make you keep tax records a really long time: In Ohio, it’s 10 years.
  • The IRS can also ask for records up to six years after a filing if they suspect someone failed to report 25% or more of their gross income. And the agency never closes the door on an audit if it suspects fraud. Just sayin’.

Home Sale Records

Document How Long to Keep It
Home sale closing documents, including closing statement As long as you own the property + 3 years
Deed to the house As long as you own the property
Builder’s warranty or service contract for new home Until the warranty period ends
Community/condo association covenants, codes, restrictions (CC&Rs) As long as you own the property
Receipts for capital improvements As long as you own the property + 3 years
Mortgage payoff statements (certificate of satisfaction or lien release) Forever, just in case a lender says, “Hey, you still owe us money.”

Why you need these docs: You use home sale closing documents and receipts for capital improvements  records to calculate and document your profit (gain) when you sell your home. Your deed and mortgage payoff statements prove you own your home and have paid off your mortgage, respectively. Your builder’s warranty or contract is important if you file a claim. And sooner or later you’ll need to check the CC&R rules in your condo or community association.

Annual Tax Deductions

Document How Long to Keep It
Property tax payment (tax bill + canceled check or bank statement showing check was cashed) 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
Year-end mortgage statements 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
Tax returns 3 years from the date you file your return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later

Why you need these docs: To document you’re eligible for a deduction or tax credit.

*These deductions are relevant if you itemize. Beginning with tax year 2018, the standard deduction has been increased, which means fewer people will itemize.

Insurance and Warranties

Document How Long to Keep It
Home repair receipts Until warranty expires
Inventory of household possessions Forever (Remember to make updates.)
Homeowners insurance policies Until you receive the next year’s policy
Service contracts and warranties As long as you have the item being warrantied

Why you need these docs: To file a claim or see what your policy or warranty covers.

Investment Real Estate Deductions

Document How Long to Keep It
Appraisal or valuation used to calculate depreciation As long as you own the property + 3 years
Receipts for capital expenses, such as an addition or improvements As long as you own the property + 3 years
Receipts for repairs and other expenses 3 years after the due date of the return showing the deduction
Landlord’s insurance payment receipt (canceled check or bank statement showing check was cashed) 3 years after the due date showing the deduction
Landlord’s insurance policy Until you receive the next year’s policy
Partnership or LLC agreements for real estate investments As long as the partnership or LLC exists
Landlord insurance receipts (canceled check or bank statement showing check was cashed) 3 years after you deduct the expense
Section 1031 (like-kind exchange) sale records for both your old and new properties, including HUD-1 settlement sheet As long as you own the property + 3 years

Why you need these docs: For the most part, to prove your eligibility to deduct the expense. You’ll also need receipts for capital expenditures to calculate your profit (gain) or loss when you sell the property. Landlord’s insurance and partnership agreements are important references.

Miscellaneous Records

Document How Long to Keep It
Wills and property trusts Until updated
Date-of-death home value record for inherited home, and any rules for heirs’ use of home As long as you or spouse owns the home + 3 years
Original owners’ purchase documents (sales contract, deed) for home given to you as a gift As long as you or spouse owns the home + 3 years
Divorce decree with home sale clause As long as you or spouse owns the home + 3 years
Employment records for live-in help (W-2s, W-4s, pay and benefits statements) 4 years after you make (or owe) payroll tax payments

Why you need these docs: Most are needed to calculate capital gains when you sell. Employment records help prove deductions.

Organizing Your Home Records

Because paper, such as receipts, fades with time and takes up space, consider scanning and storing your documents on a flash drive, an external hard drive, or a cloud-based remote server. Even better, save your documents to at least two of these places.

Digital copies are OK with the IRS as long as they’re identical to the originals and contain all the accurate information that was in the original receipts. You must be able to produce a hard copy if the IRS asks for one.

Tip: Tax season and year’s end are good times to purge files and toss what you no longer need; that’s often when the spirit of organization moves us.

When you do finally toss out your home-related paperwork, use a shredder. Throwing away intact documents with personal financial information puts you at risk for identity theft.

Leslie Sells Houses

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

Illustration of woman with a taxes tattoo

Spring Selling Checklist


With spring selling season around the corner, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyer expectations.

Guest post by Patti Stern

With the early spring selling season kicking off shortly after the new year, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyers’ expectations. Take advantage of being inside during the cold winter months with these quick fixes that will help your property stand out from the competition, boost its value and sell quickly with :

Leslie Sells Houses


Declutter & Organize

Start tackling one room at a time by packing up anything that will distract buyers from seeing the unique features of your property such as personal collections, family photos, newspapers, books and magazines. Rearrange and remove excessive furniture to simplify and make the room appear larger.

Make Basic Repairs & Updates

Make sure everything is in good working condition. Repair and replace broken light switches, bulbs, ceiling fans, door knobs, leaky faucets, shower heads, windows, thermostats, etc. Update lighting fixtures with contemporary styles and consider replacing older kitchen appliances with sleek, eco-friendly models to capture young buyer interest.

Refresh and Brighten With Paint

Remove wallpaper and cover bold wall colors with a fresh coat of neutral paint to set the perfect backdrop for simple, updated styling. Give older style kitchen cabinets or wood vanities an instant facelift by covering with bright white or dark espresso paint. Then pair with knobs and drawer handles in brushed nickel or satin brass for an elegant finishing touch.

Fresh Flooring

There is nothing that dates a room more that worn, soiled carpeting. Remove and/or replace carpeting to reveal hardwood flooring underneath to instantly brighten and make the room feel more spacious. There are also many budget-friendly, easy to install options on the market now for replacing damaged flooring such as laminate and vinyl that look and feel just like wood.

Add Storage Options

Today’s buyers are looking for plenty of storage. Added storage solutions such as built-in bookshelves, window seats with storage underneath, entry storage units, and extra closet hooks and rods are a practical way to attract immediate buyer attention.

Partner With a Pro

Consult with a professional stager who will have an objective eye and knowledge of what appeals to today’s sophisticated buyers. They will provide a range of solutions for enhancing your home showings by recommending everything from furniture placement to wall color to complementary modern accessories to add clean, welcoming style.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit


Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Her company has received Houzz 2015, 2016 and 2017 Awards for Customer Service.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or


partner content PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

How to Declutter Your Home Office: 7 Career-Saving Tips

By  | Jan 26, 2018

Learning how to declutter your home office is one of those skills that can be a true career saver, particularly in this day and age when 43% of employed Americans spend at least some time working from home. Sure, it’s fabulous when you can type up memos and conduct conference calls remotely while doing a load of laundry. But let’s face it: If your home office is a jumble of papers and lost files, then you aren’t going to get much work done, right?

That’s why, in this latest installment of our Declutter Your Home Guide, we give you some tips (plus pics!) that’ll show you how to declutter your home office and clean up your act.

1. Consider your setup

Photo by Polsky Perlstein Architects

Don’t just toss a few papers or move things around—tackle everything and purge or rearrange ruthlessly! If you reach for it all day long (favorite pen, highlighter, stapler, phone), then it can live on your desktop. Everything else should be placed elsewhere—in drawers, baskets, or shelves. Did you really need that hole punch to be in the middle of your desk? What is a hole punch, anyway? Enough said.

“Shelves on the walls are often overlooked in a home office, so build a few in and you’ll get stuff off your desk and counters,” says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman.

The right storage can make all the difference, he adds. “A lack of good office storage will end up wasting your time because you’ll be looking for things rather than being productive.”

2. Dump and sort

Photo by Moya Living

You best bet is to start from scratch, which means removing everything from the drawers and cabinets and putting the items in a box or spreading them on the kitchen counter, suggests Marty Basher, a home organizing expert with Modular Closets.

“Before putting things back or filing papers in folders, decide whether it’s useful and important,” he says. Toss anything that’s out of date or redundant. “You might also invest in a home office shredder so you can feed documents in on a weekly basis to keep the clutter from piling up.”

3. File it right

Photo by Laura Trevey

Streamline your workspace as much as possible with a good filing system, suggests Jacquie Denny, co-founder of Everything but the House. Put the most important info upfront (e.g., keep medical and legal documents in easy reach in case there’s an emergency).

Also, get in the habit of using file systems correctly. “Don’t allow your home desk to become a dumping ground,” says Julie Coraccio, organizing pro at Reawaken Your Brilliance. “Do your filing instantly—clutter represents delayed decisions—so if you commit to those decisions now, your desk will stay organized.”

4. Dig out from paper

Photo by Organised Chaos Ireland

“Paper is the No. 1 item that clutters desks, arriving in the form of bills, envelopes, receipts, sticky notes, printer paper, and more,” points out Maeve Richmond, an organizing pro at Maeve’s Method.

It gets to your desk two ways: You either print it out or bring it in through the front door. “Be as conscious as you can about the paper you bring inside, and be accountable for what you print,” Richmond says.

Control bills and junk mail by enrolling in paperless statements, and consider scanning important documents such as tax returns and business receipts. And strive to sort all the mail as you walk in the house, tossing ads, coupons, circulars, and catalogs in the paper recycling bin.

5. Purge papers and manuals you can access online

Photo by Patrick Brian Jones PLLC

Do you really crack open your computer’s user manual on a weekly basis? Even monthly? Ever? Say goodbye to these space hogs.

“Manuals are bulky and take up a ton of space,” says Coraccio. If you find you need to consult one that you’ve removed from your home office, go to—there’s a good chance you’ll find it here, she adds.

6. Unknot cables

Photo by Cablox Aps

That mess under your desk can give you a headache every time you glance down.

“If your cords and cables are a nightmare, it’s time to order an inexpensive organizing system for the home office,” explains Basher. Or you can go the DIY route and simply tie them together with zip or twist ties.

7. Cash it in

Photo by Jessica Risko Smith Interior Design

Make some moolah by selling old electronics, including desktops, laptops, and printers, on a site like Gazelle, says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. And if you have old ink cartridges lying around, recycle them at Staples office supply store to earn rewards.


Leslie Sells Houses

Subscribe for weekly real estate news and advice from®  Sign Up

Fox Island Real Estate

FOX ISLAND 01 27 18

Separated from the Gig Harbor Peninsula by Hales Passage, Fox Island is a beautiful Puget Sound community offering upscale homes and magnificent ocean views.  With a total area of 5.2 square miles, 1.2 square miles of which is covered in water, Fox Island is among the smaller islands in Puget Sound, but a beautiful narrows location with perfect views of the Sound and Mt. Rainier, carefully developed residential areas, and easily afforded access to Gig Harbor and the mainland have put homes for sale here in high demand.    Image result for pictures of fox island

Fox Island Homes for Sale

A number of Fox Island homes and development properties in the $200,000 range can be found, but most property listings for this beautiful area start in the $500,000 range, with values extending well into the millions. Fox Island luxury homes typically feature floor plans of 3,000+ square feet, with private, beautifully landscaped properties, sports courts, and huge patio areas.


Fox Island residents enjoy a close-knit community where neighbors know each other, and can participate in regular island events and craft fairs at Nichols Community Center. The island also houses a general store, and its own museum.

Browse All Fox Island Homes for Sale

As always, while you browse the Fox Island real estate below, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to click the “Request More Information” button when viewing the details of a property. As Fox Island experts, we can provide you with disclosures, past sales history, plus our objective analysis of the listing price based on recently sold properties nearby!

Take advantage of our industry-leading tools to make your property search as easy as it possible and be sure to   so that you can receive email alerts whenever new Fox Island real estate for sale hits the market.

If you’re seeking to sell your Fox Island property directly for a comprehensive listing analysis and to learn more about the cutting edge marketing strategies we’ll use to sell your home quickly for top dollar.










Image result for pictures of fox island



Fox Island Listings



Leslie Sells Houses

NWMLS Copyright Infringement Information

All listings featuring the icon  are provided courtesy of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. The database information herein is provided from and copyrighted by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). NWMLS data may not be reproduced or redistributed and is only for people viewing this site. All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. The information contained in these listings has not been verified by: Leslie Sells Houses Hawkins Poe Inc and should be verified by the buyer. All properties are subject to prior sale or withdrawal. All rights are reserved by copyright. Property locations as displayed on any map are best approximations only and exact locations should be independently verified.

Listing information last updated on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 4:22 AM PST.All Listings   Fox Island Listings






New Etsy shop will build a detailed Lego model of your home

But it doesn’t come cheap

Everyone knows that Legos are the top toy for architecture lovers, whether you’re looking to build an elaborate replica of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie or just a tiny retro desk. But a new Lego offering on Etsy is sure to feed the obsession even further. The shop Little Brick Lane will use photos and plans of your home to build a mind-bogglingly detailed replica out of Legos.

Little Brick Lane

The builder of these scale models is Shari Austrian, who was inspired by her 7-year-old twins’ love of the interlocking blocks to start playing with them again. Then, when the family was building their own life-sized home, Austrian decided to celebrate by building a tiny version of their house.

She’s since created four Lego home models—each taking roughly 8 to 10 weeks to build—and launched Little Brick Lane at the end of last year. As for pricing, a custom Lego home with only exterior detailing costs $1,500, while both exterior and interior detailing will set you back $2,500.

In a Q&A with Apartment Therapy, Austrian shared that she recently quit her healthcare job to get into the architecture field, and is building her Lego replicas on the side. Asked about the most difficult part of a home to Lego-build, she answered: “Roof lines and, more specifically, intersecting roof lines. While the LEGO collection is expansive, it still has its limits. LEGO has not yet created some of the slopes or roof pitches often used by architects and builders.”

Do check out the full interview here.

Little Brick Lane

ViaApartment Therapy

Leslie Sells Houses

All About Down Payments and Money for You See if You Eligible

%d bloggers like this: