How to Prepare Your Home This Winter for a Successful Spring Sale

Here’s our go-to list of what sellers should be doing now to ensure for a successful sale next spring

Guest post by Patti Stern

If you are planning to sell your home next spring, why not get a jumpstart during the fall /winter season so you have more time and less stress while preparing? An added plus is that your home could potentially be ready to list in time for the early spring selling season at the end of January when the market is less crowded. It’s a win-win! Here’s our go-to list of what sellers should be doing now to ensure for a successful sale next spring.

1. Assess Your Home’s Condition – Inside & Out

The first step is to do a thorough walk-thru with an objective eye. Does it have “move-in ready appeal” that will “wow” young, savvy buyers? Is there chipped paint on moldings and trim? Is the front entry carpet runner worn and could benefit from replacing? Look at your property through the lens of your buyer and determine what needs the most attention so that Millennials with families can immediately connect and envision themselves living there with minimal work to do when they move in.

2. First Impressions Go a Long Way

With the changing seasons, try to tackle exterior repairs and landscaping while you can by keeping gutters clean, lawn raked, shrubs trimmed and driveways/walkways shoveled. For an inviting front porch with curb appeal, maintain a polished look each season with welcoming accents such as potted evergreens or berry branches, a beautiful wreath on the door, glowing lanterns, and a colorful welcome mat.

3. Remove Distractions & Get Organized

Tackle clutter one room at a time and decide whether to keep or purge items based on when you last touched or used it. Remove personal items, collectibles and excessive furniture that distract from the room’s key features as well as its perceived size and flow. Then organize the remaining items with efficient storage solutions such as baskets and containers for closets, drawers and cabinets.

4. Make it Fresh & Bright 

Ask yourself if the color on the walls and cabinets is too dark? Does wallpaper need to be removed? Are window treatments dated and heavy? Does worn carpet need replacing? Do hardwood floors need polishing? Simply adding a fresh coat of neutral “greige” paint to dark walls will brighten the room by creating a backdrop to showcase the other elements in the room, such as the white trim, new carpeting, wall art, and furniture (as shown in library above).

5. Create the “Wow Factor”

Once you’ve invested in the necessary upgrades for move-in ready appeal, buyers still need to emotionally connect by envisioning how their furnishings will look in the space. Staging a home is an investment in getting the property sold and for top dollar. Professional stagers can create the “wow” factor that might be needed after all of the repairs and upgrades are finished. Complete the look with strategically placed modern furniture paired with pops of colorful and inviting accents that will make a lasting impression as pictured in the living room photo above.

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Pacific Northwest homes continue to appreciate. Here’s how Tacoma is doing

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https://www.thenewstribune.com/homes/article217242420.html

Home values kept rising in Washington, Idaho in second quarter 2018

While home appreciation is still rising in the Pacific Northwest, it is starting to slow down in other parts of the U.S., according to a report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Across the U.S., home values rose 6.5 percent in the past year.

Big jumps in home values continued across Washington state this spring, with Tacoma among the areas posting the largest increases in the U.S.

Home appreciation rose 14.9 percent in the second quarter compared to a year ago for the Tacoma metro area, according to a new report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. That’s the third-highest year-over-year increase among the 245 metro areas listed for that time period.

Updated 2018 06:57 PM

5 Best Crops to Harvest in the Fall

One gardening rule of thumb is to clearly know when to grow what–here are five of the best types of crops to harvest in your garden during the fall season.

Guest post by Olive Dawson.

As the weather begins to cool, you may notice that your tomato plants are looking a droopy, or that your green beans are no longer producing the way they used to. While the first frost spells disaster for some garden crops, there are dozens of other delicious, nutritious vegetables and fruits that you can grow during the autumn months. One gardening rule of thumb is to clearly know when to grow what–here are five of the best types of crops to harvest in your garden during the fall season.

1. Leafy Greens

Fall is a great time to cultivate fast-growing leafy greens. Cabbage, kale, spinach, and chard all grow well in the fall. Plus, if you harvest the leaves of these plants as soon as they emerge, they will continue to produce and will taste even better.

These greens can be grown until the first frost, with some types, such as kale, actually tasting better once they’ve succumbed to the cold. Look for heirloom varieties that are designed for fall planting for best results.

2. Brassicas

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, and mustard are all in the brassica category and thrive in cold fall temperatures. Plant these crops in a different location every year to help keep pests and diseases at bay, but keep in mind that you can grow multiple batches of these plants. Plant in early spring for slow harvest throughout the summer months, and then replenish in the late summer for a fall harvest. Many people continue to grow brassica crops throughout the winter, using a cold frame or row covers to keep the leaves of the plants protected.

3. Root Vegetables

Beets, carrots, turnips, radishes–what do all of these have in common? They grow well out of sight until the fall, when it’s time to harvest. While these crops can be planted in the spring and harvested during the summer months, fall varieties should be planted at the end of summer and can grow into November or December.

Consider growing alternative varieties or rotations of these crops for the best yield. Purple, white, or yellow carrots are often more adapted to cold weather than their more common orange counterparts. Turnips make a great cover crop and forage species for wildlife, so consider all of these factors when planning out your fall growing season.

4. Nut Trees

Fall is the perfect time to harvest nuts from trees like pecans, hazelnuts, and walnuts, and it’s also the best time to plant these species, too. Nut trees are typically grown as bare-root transplants, meaning they started as seedlings for the first couple years and were transplanted to a new location with the same climate. The tree is dormant in November or December, making the roots more dense when adapting to new soil.

It’s best to harvest tree nuts early in the fall before they drop to the ground and begin to rot on the soil or are eaten by wildlife.

5. Seasonal Fruits

Most people know that, if you live in the north, you can grow apples well into the fall. In fact, apples should be harvested this time of the year. Other fruits, like pomegranates and citrus fruit, produce ripe fruit by mid-winter, but can be harvested early.

When you are organizing a fall planting, remember that timing is everything. Pay attention to your area’s specific hardiness zone and growing season, and plant about ten weeks before the first killing frost. While this can be nearly impossible to predict, late summer is usually a good time to think about planting.  Also, consider planting insect repelling herbs in your garden to make sure you don’t lose your harvest to pests.

With a little bit of forward thinking and a willingness to brave the colder temperatures to harvest crops and tend to weeds, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest even after all of your other plants have completely died back.

Olive Dawson is a gardening and landscape design writer and environmentalist. She is always searching for new ways to reduce waste and grow food organically. She is most proud of her homemade beauty products.

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Leslie Sells Houses

 

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3 Staging Touches That Up Your Chances of an Offer

Here are some tips to touch up your home staging to increase your chances of an offer.

Guest post by Abigail Sawyer

It takes more than finding a realtor and posting a “For Sale” sign in the front yard for a successful home sale. Getting your house in order is the first step to a quick offer. The secret is to give potential buyers the opportunity to imagine their “stuff” and family living in the home. Plus, you want to put your home’s best foot forward and present it in the best possible light. Here are some tips to touch up your home staging to increase your chances of an offer.

1. Clear Out Your Belongings 

You may be attached to your stuff, but the first rule is to clean it up, clear it out and pack it all away. It can prevent new buyers from imagining the house as their own.

  • Pack away personal items like family photos and kid’s artwork for your new home.
  • Make sure toiletries, clothing, jewelry and accessories are in drawers and out of sight.
  • Eliminate excessive clutter. Display only a few generic items on your shelves and make sure the bathrooms are pristine.

Some rooms are harder to streamline, especially children’s or teens’ bedrooms. Clean them out and clear away as much clutter as your son or daughter will allow. Invest in covered containers that will fit under the bed or in the closet.

2. Make the Rooms Look Bigger

You want to make each room look as spacious as possible. Start with these tricks:

  • Take out some of the furniture. Move it to the basement or storage shed, or sell it if you won’t need it in your new place.
  • Clear off the kitchen counters.
  • Roll up area rugs, which tend to make rooms feel smaller.
  • Arrange furniture in intimate seating groups that encourage conversation and coziness. Don’t line everything up along the wall!

Installing curtains and blinds as close to the ceiling as possible draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger. Panels should skim the floor. In this living room corner, a classic chair and small table before a window suggests to the future homeowner here is place for a morning cup of coffee in a well-lit room.

3. Pay Attention to Your Decor

Highlight your home’s best features and downplay the less-than-perfect areas to create a welcoming space.

Paint is an easy fix. When possible, paint walls in pale, neutral colors like soft grey, beige and off-white. Neutral colors allow the buyer to imagine their own furniture in place. Plus, it screams “move-in ready.”

Don’t overlook the power of the view and the importance of natural light. Window treatments can help solve many issues. Windows without draperies make a room feel empty or undone. Curtains also help absorb sound in rooms with wood floors and they can hide an unsightly view or enhance a lovely one.

If a major selling point is your view – such as the ocean, the mountains or a gorgeous garden – don’t cover it up! Install stationary panel curtains that hang well off the window. If the scene outside is less than stellar (like an alleyway or the building next door), hang sheer draperies that allow the light in but camouflage the view.

As with paint color, choose drapery fabric in neutral colors and traditional patterns. This woven geometric check blends in with the rest of the space and will coordinate with almost any style of furnishings.

After the living room and kitchen, a great master bedroom is high on buyers’ checklists. In addition to natural light and the view, privacy is paramount.

Follow the same rules to make the space look bigger, hang as high as possible and skim the floor. Sheer curtains that can be closed allow light and hide an unappealing view while providing privacy. Keep surfaces clear of personal items and choose plain, neutral bedding. Open up the wall space with minimal artwork and move the excess furniture out. Buyers are looking for large rooms that feel serene and calm.

Don’t forget to spruce up any secondary bedrooms as well. Keep the window treatments simple with Roman shades and valances. If the room needs a touch of color, a classic plaid or small print that works for boys and girls is in order. Temporarily replace superhero bedspreads with coverlets or duvets in solid colors and encourage your kids to keep their room neat and tidy.

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Leslie Sells Houses

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Autumn Nights Outdoors: How to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in the Fall

Extend the life of your porch or patio by transforming your favorite summer spot into a cozy retreat that’s perfect for enjoying autumn nights outdoors.

As we welcome cooler temperatures and colorful foliage, many homeowners might be tempted to pack up the outdoor furniture for the year. Not so fast, we say. Extend the life of your porch or patio by transforming your favorite summer spot into a cozy retreat that’s perfect for enjoying autumn nights outdoors.

Keep It Cozy

When the temperatures begin to drop, consider putting away the umbrella for the season. You’ll not only invite more sunlight to your space during the day, but you’ll also clear the view for stargazing during alfresco dinner parties. To bring more warmth to the area once the sun sets, circle a few outdoor chairs around a firepit. Make sure you keep the sparks at bay by picking a fireplace with a mesh lid.

To make things even cozier, layer on comfort with outdoor pillows. Swap out summer’s tropical hues for classic fall colors. Orange, wine and dark green instantly make the space feel autumn-ready. Make sure to complement the pillows with plenty of soft throw blankets. Chunky, knit options are ideal for snuggling up on the outdoor sofa on chilly nights. If you’re entertaining a large crowd, consider bringing a sharable-sized quilt outside.

Get Creative with Lighting

As the sun starts setting earlier and earlier, it’s important to have enough light on your porch for dark nights. A simple porch light does the trick, but creative lighting is a great way to add ambiance to your space. For instance, outdoor string lights bring an enchanting look to the porch or patio. For a soft glow around the perimeter of your yard, wrap a few long strings of white lights around the trees, shrubs or fence posts. Shorter ones are a gorgeous addition to the tabletop. Simply place them over your runner with an autumn leaf garland for ambient lighting during moonlit meals.

If you need more lighting, nothing creates a more romantic glow than candlelight. To give your outdoor table a fall feel, opt for pillar candles in seasonal colors—orange, red and ivory candles in clear glass holders play up the colors of changing leaves. To diffuse the light, go for white candles in textured glass or metal hurricanes. Lanterns look lovely scattered around the porch. Fill a few with birch candles and others with fall botanicals such as pinecones and acorns.

Looking for something unexpected? Try decoratively carved pumpkins. While the quintessential smiling jack-o’-lantern works well in October, other designs can add ambiance to the porch beyond Halloween. Carve the shapes of acorns, autumn leaves or abstract patterns into gourds, and place a tea light inside of them to show off your handiwork. The fun doesn’t stop with the carving. Rather than tossing the seeds, roast them on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper or cinnamon for a delicious treat.

Indulge in Fall Flavors

To take the bite off of chilly fall breezes, warm up with hot drinks. Hot apple cider is a fall favorite. Make your own with fresh apples from your local orchard, and simmer in a stock pot with sugar and spices. Serve in glass mugs, garnish with a cinnamon stick and add your choice of liquor if desired. If you’re short on time, simply keep bottles of hard cider and ice in a beverage tub, and provide pint glasses. For kid-friendly beverages on family night, serve hot chocolate in ceramic mugs by the firepit.

For dinner, make the most out of the grill before winter sets in. Tailgate with hot dogs and burgers for casual meals during football season. If you want a more formal dinner party, grill steak or salmon accompanied by hearty sides made with seasonal ingredients such as squash or sweet potatoes. Plate on leaf-decorated or autumn-toned dishes that coordinate with your outdoor decor.

For dessert, make things more interactive with a build-your-own caramel apple station. Provide bowls of warm caramel or chocolate for coating, with plates of chopped nuts and candy for easy rolling. If you’re hosting a bonfire, s’mores are a must. Provide skewers alongside serving bowls full of large marshmallows, and let your guests roast their own. As a twist on the classic, consider setting out cookies as an alternative to graham crackers.

With just a few changes to your porch, you can continue to entertain outdoors well into autumn. Think about inviting everyone to the backyard for a Halloween party, post-football game dinner or a weekend bonfire before winter arrives.

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 Leslie Sell Houses

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Angie Erickson writes inspirational content for Crate and Barrel. She shares entertaining and interior design advice on lifestyle blogs.

 

Closet Organization Ideas that Are Borderline Genius

If your closet is a clutter, it could be that you just need some closet organization ideas. Closets, no matter the size, tend to be a catchall. But, fret not. Read this blog post to learn some tips to clean up those closets and get some structure.

If your closet is a clutter, it could be that you just need some closet organization ideas. Closets, no matter the size, tend to be a catchall. We often toss in our shoes and handbags, and hang up our garments without any consideration to organization. But, fret not. It’s easy to clean up those closets and establish some structure. Here’s how.

Invest in a Closet System

If you crave more closet space, you don’t have to put your home through a full-scale remodel — just put a closet system in place. The idea with a closet system is to maximize the space your closet already provides. By using hanging bars, drawersAud, shelves, and cubby storage, you can properly organize your clothing and other items. This way, when you open your closet door to put something away or retrieve something, you’ll know exactly where to go.

Put a Pull-Down Bar in Place

This is a good closet organization idea when you want to keep clothes out of the way but still accessible when you need them. Many movable clothing rods are designed with telescoping pull rods to adjust to any closet size. Here’s a good example to learn more about how pull-down bars work in a closet.

Keep Your Shoes at a Slant

Many homeowners are satisfied if their shoes make it onto a storage rack instead of being tossed on the floor. But here’s a smart tip for you: By storing your shoes on slanted shelves, you can better see what you’re grabbing. No need to stand on tippy toes to see the top shelf — one quick glance and you’ll know whether you’re reaching for those strappy black sandals or sassy ankle boots. If you’re storing tall boots (because every Texan should have at least a couple pairs of cowboy boots), look for inserts that help boot shafts stay upright.

Get Creative

When it comes to closet organization, it pays to think outside the box. Want a clever way to keep your scarves from getting into a tangled mess? Grab a paper towel holder from the kitchen and roll your scarf around it. Searching for an orderly way to store your t-shirts? Keep them organized with stacking letter trays from your office. The trays keep the tees separated so when you need one, you won’t disrupt the whole stack.

Leslie Sells Houses

 

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How to Choose the Most Important Features in a Home

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Determining exactly what to look for is often the most difficult part of the home search. Learn how to focus on the most important features and ignore the rest.

Buying a home can be a long process. Approaching it correctly from the beginning can save a great deal of time and effort later and help improve your chances of finding the right home for you.

Make a List of the Most Important Aspects You Want in a Home

Determining exactly what to look for is often the most difficult part of the home search. Homes come in varying shapes and sizes, with different colors and characteristics. Paying attention to all of these details can become problematic, causing you to lose focus.

The best way to avoid this is to sit down ahead of time and make a list of the most important aspects of the home you want to buy. For example, you likely have a certain number of bedrooms in mind. Maybe you want to be in a certain school district, or perhaps you want a larger kitchen.

Some experts recommend making a secondary list of desirable characteristics that you can do without, but would prefer to have, if possible. This list can be longer and used to narrow down choices or decide between homes if more than one is appealing.

Know How to Identify Cost-Efficient Fixer-Upper Homes

When evaluating potential homes to buy, experts note that you shouldn’t put too much emphasis on easily altered cosmetic details like the color of the walls. Repainting may not be convenient, but it is one of the cheapest and easiest changes to make to a home.

Attention might be better focused on aspects that cannot be altered without extensive and expensive work, such as the floor plan. It may also be difficult to ignore the furniture and belongings of the home’s current occupants, but you should remember those items will not be there if and when you move in and make it your own.

4 Early Fall Home Improvement Musts

When it’s summertime, homeowners are usually too distracted by the lure of beaches and festivals to focus on home improvement projects. By the time the fall season arrives, there’s usually a long list of things to do.     SEP 12, 2018

When it’s summertime, homeowners are usually too distracted by the lure of beaches and festivals to focus on home improvement projects. By the time the fall season arrives, there’s usually a long list of things that you want to do at your home. The pressure to fix up your house can be overwhelming, so start by focusing on these four fall home improvement musts.

Give Your Rooms a Fresh Coat of Paint

Temperatures can reach 90 or 100 degrees in Philadelphia during the summer, so it’s usually too hot to embark on a home painting project. But when the fall season arrives, the weather gets cooler and it’s the perfect time to get some painting done. Pick out the two or three rooms in your home where you spend the most time and add a fresh coat of paint to the walls in new colors. If you have a porch that has become weathered over the summer, give it a new look with a couple of coats of exterior paint.

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New Lighting Fixtures

You probably don’t pay much attention to the condition and appearance of your lighting fixtures until you start to spend more time indoors in the fall and winter. You’ll significantly improve the appearance of your home by simply changing the lighting fixtures in your living room, dining room, and bedrooms. Get slightly brighter bulbs to brighten up your rooms. Also, remember that it starts to get dark earlier in the fall, so make sure that your outdoor lights are fully functional and the bulbs are replaced to last throughout the season.

Lighting Fixtures

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Garage or Basement Cleanup

One smart fall home improvement project to take on is a thorough garage or basement cleanup. Sweep away the grass trimmings, soil, and dirt that you may have tracked in after a long summer of yard work. Take the time to organize your tools and supplies that are in storage in boxes, drawers, and bins. Toss empty bottles and expired products. If the floor has seen better days, apply epoxy-coating — it will give your garage or basement a clean, fresh look. Also, hire someone to do a routine check of your heating system, plumbing, and other units that are located in the garage or basement before the winter.

Garage Tools

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Apply Weather Seal or Replace Old Windows

If you have old windows in your home (a common trait of Philadelphia homes that were built in the 1800s and early 20th century), apply weather seal to them to save on your energy bills. Old wooden windows often leave a crack at the bottom where cold drafts get into your house, so add adhesive weather stripping. Also, gently sand and put a fresh coat of paint on frames that look worn down. This may also be the year that you’ll want to invest in a new set of energy efficient vertical slider windows with vinyl frames to replace your old wooden ones.

Windows

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Get in gear early in the season by taking on these relatively simple but practical fall home improvement projects. They will help you to enjoy your Philly home more this fall and also save some money as you head into the winter season.

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How to Create an Organized Garage for Fall

These six steps will help you get your garage organized and ready for cooler weather.

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor


As the warm breezes of summer give way to chillier temperatures, consider rearranging the items in your garage to ensure you’re ready for colder weather. Here are six steps to help you get your garage organized and ready for fall (and winter):

Step #1 Categorize Items

It’s hard to whip your garage into shape without taking inventory. Take a look at your possessions and divide them into categories based on use. Keep frequently used and important items close at hand and store everything else. Here’s a list of items to keep close by:

  • Recycling
  • Sports and recreational equipment
  • Automotive maintenance/repair tools
  • Seasonal décor
  • Garden and yard tools
  • Major equipment

You may find that storing some of the items — like decorations — indoors will free up space and make it easier to organize your garage.

Couple Clearing Garage For Yard Sale Laughing

Step #2 Group Similar Items Together

Next, pull everything out of your garage and group similar items together. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but it can actually help you later on when you start to reorganize these items. Additionally, it’s easier to purchase storage solutions when you know the amount and size of items you’re dealing with.

Step #3 Let it Go

Whipping your garage into shape is the perfect time to identify and dispose of any unused, broken or forgotten items. If you run across any items you haven’t used in some time, throw them away or donate them to make room for your more important possessions.

Step #5 Determine a Layout

There are a number of ways to organize your garage. But, no matter how you do it, it’s best to decide on a location for each item or group of items before you start putting anything back. It’s also important to consider factors like the frequency of use and available space during this phase.

Step #6 Install Cabinets or Purchase Storage Bins

Grouping items together will help you decide on the perfect storage solution for your garage. Once you’re ready, purchase and install cabinets or storage bins. Organizational tools help you keep similar items grouped together and within easy reach. This is especially important with tools and other items that help you keep your home in good shape during the colder months.

Perhaps the most important part of the process is giving yourself time. Don’t rush yourself or assume you’ll finish everything in a single day. Set aside an entire weekend to allow yourself plenty of time to go through all of your stuff, group it, clean the garage and then put everything back in its new home. If you have to, find some friends to lend you a hand with moving items around. You’ll have a clean, organized garage before you know it.

Leslie Sells Houses

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The Markets IN A MINUTE

 

The Market in a Minute 09 09 18

 

 

The Economy 09 09 18

Trade issues continue to help keep mortgage rates low. Talks continue between the U.S. and Canada, but tensions are escalating between the U.S. and China.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers says wages are growing faster than “traditional measures” indicate. Wage inflation can contribute to rising interest rates.
Last week, jobless claims fell to a 49-year low as private payrolls rose in August. The sustained labor market strength should continue to drive economic growth.

House News 09 09 18

CoreLogic’s Home Price Index report for July shows home prices across the U.S. rose by 6.2% year-over-year. However, home price increases are decelerating.
A recent Harvard Business School study reveals the “Starbucks Effect” on home prices. The authors say a new Starbucks raises prices by 0.5% in a ZIP code.
A Redfin survey shows recent increases in mortgage rates aren’t scaring away buyers. Only 2.6% had decided to postpone their search.

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Leslie Sells Houses

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