From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a
house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. Although easy
is a relative term, accomplishing the 10 fixes that follow is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some
big-ticket fixes to watch out for. Happy house hunting!
1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing,
repainting or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen
than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style,
2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to
make over your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and
installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand
beyond your original scope.
Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to
move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a
layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details.
3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when
viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new — especially something as
fresh and fun as the colorful carpet tiles shown here — can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels.
4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next
time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall
color with a beautiful hue.
5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping out dated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix
an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants to
chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste.
Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple;
updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and
electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in
6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t
mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the
spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your
perfect sun room.
Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the
footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the
house. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work
7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a
popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most
common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in
the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead.
8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details
but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave,
even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and
bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not
especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home.
9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn
you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends
on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or
artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.
10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a
landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more
important, how you feel when you come home each day.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters
Summer is here!
For families, it’s the most popular time to move to a new home because school is out. If there is
any comfort in togetherness, a lot of us move in the summer. Don’t feel alone, we’re here to guide you!
It’s no secret, no one likes to move and that includes your kids. Moving is one of the most stressful times in life, and
it brings lots of change. For your kids, it means making new friends, and maybe, adjusting to a new school. If you
have a little mover in tow, moving your home certainly adds to the baby adventures!
Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps, the trek through the moving process will become a
walk in the park (well, maybe not, but it can be a manageable stroll up hill.) Way before you break out those
cardboard boxes, use these pointers to help your kids, toddlers, and babies get through the moving process.
Here are four steps to a successful move with a young family. It’s all about: timing, transition, getting the kids
involved, and an adjustment period.
First, consider the timing of your move, this is probably the most important element:
• What grades are your children in? If your eldest is about to be a senior in high school, it may be best to let them
live with a trusted relative to finish up high school with their friends. If your youngest is about to start school or
enter high school, this is an ideal time to move since they will be entering a new school either way. Is school on
a break? Much better to time a move with kids when school’s out.
• Babies and kids love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your
regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use
naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!
Second, make the transition into the new home as easy as possible for your kids and little ones. Try these tips to
make the transition a smooth one:
• Make the new home the kids’ own. Allow them to walk through the new house before the move. Let them feel
that they are part of the decision. Allow them (as much as possible) to choose their own bedroom, paint colors
(“Here, let’s pick the paint color for your new room: which do you choose between these two.”), and play the
imagination game with them: “Let’s imagine what this room will be like when it’s yours? Where will your stuffed
animals go? Where will the bed go?” etc.
• In the old house, talk about how their favorite toys, games, etc. are going to be in the new house too. This is
not the time to clean out the closet and discard unwanted clothes and toys. You don’t want your kids
associating loss with the move. If you need to de-clutter your kid’s room, do that way before the subject of the
move comes up. De-cluttering is an excellent pre-move activity and really doesn’t have to involve the word
“moving” at all.
• TALK and LISTEN to your kids. Ask them what they are excited about and what things they are going to miss.
Address their concerns: “What are we going to do about that? How about…”
• During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere
else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your kids and bundle of joy for the day. It is also
ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so you can get more done on your moving calendar.
• Stay connected to friends, neighbors and family back home. Arrange facetime appointments with the children’s
friends before you move to the new home, it will help make the transition easier when they know they can
keep in touch with their old friends. And, set up a play date for the old friends to come over for a sleep over.
Involve Your Kids:
There is no easier way to keep kids happy than giving them a feeling of control – get them involved!
• Have them arrange their own room. Draw out a floor plan of the rooms in the new house and let the children
make paper doll furniture and arrange what they want in their room.
• Encourage your kids to pack themselves so they are involved in the moving process. They can have their own
boxes and suitcases that they are responsible for. Give them color codes or fun stickers to stick on their boxes
that belong in their room. You can oversee this. But, give them one box to pack freely with the stuff they want,
it will be the first box they open in their new room.
• Give each child a backpack to fill with overnight items so you don’t have to dig through boxes. Include their
toothbrush, pjs, stuffed animal, favorite bedtime story, remember to put the children’s medications in
mommy’s purse or backpack for safe keeping.
• Pack a baby bag with all of your needs for three days. If you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least
one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck. Once you move into your new place, you may
not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers, and the all important security blanket, you’ll be happy
that you know just where to look for those items.
Last, is the adjustment to the new home and neighborhood. It’s an extremely important phase of a move; it sets
the stage for your new life in your new home. Here are suggestions to make the adjustment period a great one:
• When moving in, set up the nursery first. This will allow you to easily change your baby’s clothes and diapers.
You’ll have a nice space for that first bedtime story when you put them to sleep on the first night in your new
home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your
baby in the transition.
• Host a party in your new neighborhood and invite children of the same age as your own kid(s) over so that they
can make new friends. It’s as easy as a pool party, pizza party, or cookout. Try to host the party in the first
weeks of being in your new home.
• Take them for a drive by their new school, the local ice cream place, playground, if they have a hobby such as
dancing, show them that there is a dance studio here too, so they can see their new neighborhood has all the
same things as the old.
• Set up a tour of the new school and to meet their new teacher before school starts.
• If you move in the beginning of the summer, sign them up for camp or other local activities where they can
meet new kids before school starts. It also keeps them out of the house so you can continue the unpacking!
By taking these four points into consideration, your next chapter in your new home will start out with ease – giving
every member of your family time to make the new house home.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters
What makes a house a home? It’s a hard question to answer, but a large part of it is the years of memories you’ve made in it. Oftentimes that includes the blemishes, flaws and dents on the walls and furniture that serve as lasting impressions of cherished moments and fun times. However, whether you’re selling your home or just making it presentable for guests, there are times you’ll want to camouflage them up.
Create a Gallery Wall
Put your inner art connoisseur to work to blend random light switches or bulky thermostats into your design. Strategically place similarly sized artwork around switch plates, outlet covers and wall gadgets to distract the eye. If you want to cover it entirely, mount a canvas painting over it or hang art from a swing arm so you can reach behind it when necessary.
Hang Long Drapes
Window treatments are generally used for, you guessed it, windows, but they certainly aren’t restricted to other uses. Drape big and breezy curtains above to disguise unsightly wall features or awkward off-center windows. Off-white and cream shades are perfect to use all year round.
Paint the Wall
This is probably one of the most obvious solutions to drywall chips and paint scratches, but here are some guidelines to help you get it right. Stick to one matte color for the walls, ceiling and trim to downplay the lines between and blend them together. Remember, the glossier the paint finish is, the more it will highlight imperfections.
Consider chalkboard paint for a non-glossy texture and an ever-changing wall feature. You can create your own design and erase it as your style evolves or use it to jot down lists and reminders.
Add wallpaper. Use wallpaper to inject personality and fun into any space. Choose from subtle designs to a dramatic mural or anywhere in between. Keep optical illusions in mind when picking patterns. For example, a striped design can make a small space look taller or wider.
Cover it With Clothes
If you have a scratch on your bedroom wall that just won’t go away, play fashionista and move a shop-style clothing rack in front. Showcase some of your most stylish garments or everyday staples on the rack to lighten your closet’s load.
Lay Down a Rug
Roll out a gorgeous area rug over all the nicks and notches on your floor from moving furniture or dropping heavy items. Especially great for renters, rugs come in a variety of styles, colors and price points to fit your personal preferences without committing to a permanent change.
Rethink the Fifth Wall
This is a bit of a heavier project to take on, but perhaps most rewarding for those left with an infamous popcorn ceiling. Upgrade overhead stucco for a beautiful new feature with paint or paneling. Try white beadboard or wood slats for irresistible rustic charm.
Work Around Wall Vents
Air vents are necessary for cooling, heating and any other home circulation systems, but can be quite unattractive. Conceal them with slotted laser-cut screens that add texture and visual interest. In this living room, the revamped air return works double duty as a display shelf.
Choose Your Switches Wisely
Light switches and power outlets are must-haves in every home and there’s often no easy way around them. Wherever possible, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, group your electrical outlets together and shop for new switch plates that complement the existing wall. You can blend them into an existing pattern, as seen here, or make them a fun feature with vibrant colors and textured materials.
Embrace imperfections. After all, they’re what makes your house so special. You can capitalize on the look and help them blend in by investing in distressed furnishings, such as rustic coffee tables or stained wood floors. You won’t have to worry too much about future drops or spills and they instantly add built-in age and character to any space.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters
It seems like a relatively straightforward task—but if it was that easy, wouldn’t we all be organized all the time? So many of us get stuck before we truly get started and can’t seem to stay organized over time.
If you’re planning to focus on organization in the new year, here are some tips that will set you up for success.
1. Define a Decluttering Process
Whether you’re planning to declutter your entire house over a weekend or focus on just your master bedroom closet, it’s best to determine your process before you start. The best way to start getting organized is to get the full view of what you have by taking everything out of the space, reviewing it and then deciding what stays and what goes. For your closet, you should consider donating items you haven’t worn in a year or two and discarding garments that are stained or can’t be repaired.
Decluttering your home office is similar - remove all bills, files, equipment and anything else that’s hiding in a drawer and keep what’s necessary and shred, donate or digitize the rest. Creating a repeatable process will not only make the decluttering feel more manageable, it’ll set you up for success.
2. Tackle Clutter Little By Little to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
Part of the reason many people aren’t able to get and stay organized is because they see it as a big project - but it doesn’t have to be. If a full-house declutter isn’t in the cards for you this week, tackling clutter little by little could be. Creating a checklist that guides you to clean out a different small area each day can help your home feel more organized in just a few weeks.
3. Give Yourself a Deadline
You’ve got a plan to get organized - now it’s up to you to actually do the work. If you’re enlisting the help of a professional organizer or a custom closet company, they’ll work with you to plan when your custom organization system will be installed. Then, you can work backward to figure out when you need to organize your closet, mudroom, pantry or office.
If you’re not working with a custom organization company, you’ve got some more wiggle room. Whatever you do, set a deadline, but be realistic! Create a schedule that includes extra time in case life gets in the way.
4. Avoid Distractions
To help you meet the goal you’ve set, work without being distracted. That might mean scheduling time to organize a particular room in your house or a specific part of your closet, such as your shoes or accessories. When that time comes, put your phone in another room for distraction-free organizing and start decluttering. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done with just a little bit of focused work.
When you’ve finished reviewing your old clothes and sorting them into piles, for example, reward yourself with a short break.
5. Consider Getting Help from the Pros
The best way to stay organized is to have a place for everything down to the last bangle bracelet, watch, belt and handbag. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to enlist the help of a custom organization company. The
Designers there can take a look at everything you need to organize and develop a plan for custom organization solutions that meet your needs and fit all your stuff. Putting a custom solution in place will make storing your things and finding them when you need them a little easier.
Whether you’re moving into a completely new home or just looking to stay organized, following some simple decluttering tips can help you enjoy your spaces more and gain inspiration from them.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters
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 green space or a gorgeous garden – don’t cover it up! Install sta- tionary 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.
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 per- sonal items and choose plain, neutral bedding. Open up the wall space with minimal artwork and move the ex- cess 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.
Follow these few simple staging tips and your next showing could produce a winning offer.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters
Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, and you want to ensure you get the best value for your hard-earned dollar. That’s why more and more home buyers today are turning to professional Home Inspection experts. A professional Home Inspector takes a close look beneath a house’s surface and then prepares a detailed written report for the prospective buyer on such things as the condition of the foundation, electrical service, roof, insulation, and other critical structural factors. Your Coldwell Banker sales professional can help you connect with an experienced trusted Home Inspection service in your community.
Although costs will vary, you can probably expect to spend three to four hundred dollars for an inspection of a single family home. And who pays for it? Well, since the benefit is almost entirely that of the home buyer, it’s usually the buyer who pays the cost of the home inspection …particularly in a “hot” real estate market, where the home sellers have more leverage. All things considered, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides, and the negotiating power it can give you — especially if it indicates that there are major repairs required, but you decide to make an offer anyway.
When it comes to making your offer to purchase, your Coldwell Banker professional can provide you with good advice on how to allow for a home inspection as a part of this process. Subject to the homeowner’s permission, you can commission a Home Inspection before or even after submitting your offer to purchase. This is done by having your Coldwell Banker salesperson prepare a conditional offer that’s contingent on a Home Inspection report that’s acceptable to you. This approach gives you some distinct advantages: if the conditional offer is accepted, the property is temporarily held against other offers, yet you still have a legal escape route if the report turns up some major negative surprises, such as a bad roof or a crumbling foundation. On the other hand, if the conditional offer isn’t accepted, then the need to pay for a home inspection may never arise. Your Coldwell Banker professional can counsel you on the best approach to suit your market and your individual situation.
Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matters
Finding a first home can be a roller-coaster of emotion. Here are some tips to make the ride more enjoyable.
Buying a home is a major milestone for couples. Aside from the fact that it will most likely be the most significant purchase they will ever make together it is also one of the most exciting decisions a couple will make too. For those who are new to the process of a buying a home excitement can quickly turn to anxiety as talk of finances, home inspections and new real estate terms make their way into daily conversations. It’s no secret…navigating the world of homeownership together requires some extra work.
For those couples looking to purchase a home, here are seven tips that will ensure a “harmonious house hunt” without rocking the relationship (at least too much that is):
Get pre-approved for a loan. There are few things worse than finding the perfect home, only to find out that it costs more than one can afford. Before beginning the house hunt, we highly recommend getting pre-approved for a loan. A pre-approval will let couples know where they fall financially while informing the mortgage company that they are ready to buy. Additionally, being pre-approved for a loan can help speed up the closing process once an offer has been accepted.
Set a budget. Beyond income and savings, there are a number of other financial elements to consider before setting a price range for the new home. Once a couple has decided on a location, they should consider its proximity to their family, jobs and schools for children and gauge travel costs. The next step is to add up monthly bills, including the couple’s car payments, phone bills, insurance, groceries, and credit card payments. This total estimated cost of living should be factored into the couple’s overall budget.
Get on the same page. Whether it is a quiet neighborhood or a two-car garage, everyone has their own “must haves” when it comes to the home of their dreams. For a couple looking for a home to share, it is important to discuss each of their essentials before beginning the search. Keep in mind that agreeing on all of the features of a future home will likely be impossible, so be prepared to compromise. Once the list of “must haves” is finalized, contact a real estate professional who can determine if the expectations are realistic given the homes currently on the market.
Allocate additional funds. The down payment on a new home is just one of the significant financial aspects of a move. Even after both people’s belongings are combined there will likely still be a need to purchase furniture and other items like a washer and dryer which will require additional budget. The last thing a couple will want to do is start out their life together with nothing in the bank!
Be patient. A Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey found that women are likely to make up their minds faster than men. Almost 70 percent of women surveyed decided the day they walked into the house that it was right for them, while 32 percent of men needed two or more visits. It will likely take multiple trips to the home before both members of the couple decide it is “the one.” If a spouse needs more time, be patient and try not to pressure them.
Take inventory of everyone’s belongings. Before moving into a new home together, each person should make a list of the furniture they plan to keep and compare it with their partner’s. There may not be a need (or a place) for three televisions and two kitchen tables in the new house. Consider selling unwanted pieces of furniture online, or holding a garage sale. The money made is sure to be put to good use on purchases for the new home.
Sign a contract. For a couple who has yet to walk down the aisle, it is important to contact an attorney before closing on a home. A contract should be drawn up outlining who is responsible for what expenses and how assets will be divided in the event of a split.
Happy House Hunting!