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September
4

"Come hell or high water" there will be a 2020 fall selling season, and once again, real estate professionals will wear many hats as negotiators, marketers, sales experts, counselors, mentors and community leaders. Thank goodness, however, they will not have to "hang their hats" as interpreters for news media, doctors, scientists, law enforcement officials, lawmakers or politicians. 

As the saying goes, "We are all in the same storm. But we are not all in the same boat."
Rest assured, we cannot control the path of this once-in-a-lifetime worldwide pandemic, but this fall, it is critical for real estate professionals to lead their customers through the "infodemic" fog that prevails 24/7 in everyone's life.

Now is the time to intensify the focus on your craft, to educate yourself, to network and to communicate with your customers about what is taking shape in the real estate space both locally and nationally in these unprecedented times.

The playing field is becoming clearer for the fall. Between demographics and interest rates the housing market is not only showing signs of stability and strength this fall, it has the potential to boom in 2021.

Home at the Center: Homes have evolved into the epicenter of our daily workplaces, classrooms and safe havens.

Housing Industry Standing Strong: Despite tight inventory, the massive $33 trillion-plus real estate industry once again stands as one of the strongest pillars of the U.S. economy.
 
Interest Rates Making History:
Mortgage interest rates have entered unimaginable territory—the cheapest on record.

Moving is Top of Mind: Movement is afoot as Americans are rethinking where they will plant their future roots.

Keep Millennials in the Cross Hairs: The millennial market will still be a force.

The bottom line is that U.S. real estate has held up relatively well despite a worldwide health threat and relentless economic roller coaster ride. The real estate and settlement services industry is weathering the storm. Look for technological adoption, automation and strategic alliances to transition from "fast track" to "hyper-speed" in the fourth quarter and into 2021.

Neither your local community, state or the entire country is out of the woods yet, but just like the spring and summer of 2020, the fall real estate season will surely be one for the history books.

As we enter this new season, let us stay the course and never forget that the most rewarding aspect of being a real estate professional—the fruits of our labor, even this year—will be making nearly 5 million houses a home for families in which to proudly "hang their hats."

Published with permission from RISMedia.

August
27

Whether you're hoping to sell in the near future or simply looking to touch up outdated areas, there's one aspect of home maintenance most homeowners agree is important: curb appeal. It's a broad term that may reference any number of visible features, meaning there are plenty of ways to enhance the appearance of your house.

 

Consider these ideas - some big, some small - for bringing new life to your home's look from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Swap Out Your Front Door. As one of the first things a guest, passerby or potential homebuyer may notice, the front door is the gateway to your home and a likely opening impression. Upgrading to a heavier, bolder door or simply repainting the existing threshold can capture positive attention. Alternately, swapping out hardware for a more eye-catching look is an easy way to achieve a fresh facelift.

Create Seating Areas. A welcoming home is typically an attractive one, and there are few better ways to create a cozy vibe than a seating or gathering area on the porch. Whether it's the classic porch swing or chairs and a coffee table suitable for the outdoors, a small zone ideal for conversation and camaraderie can help create an at-home appearance.

Plant Shrubbery. Billowing trees and blooming flowers are certainly eye-catching accessories outside a home, but many varieties require intense care to grow the way you envision and may adhere to seasonal weather patterns for optimal appearance. For a quicker result, shop around for fully mature shrubs and plants that can withstand elements throughout the year. 

Rethink the Mailbox. It may not be as exciting of a project to undertake, however, giving your mailbox a fresh look helps it stand out and - especially if it's directly in front of your home - may turn an ordinary object into a worthy attractant. Your work may be as simple as updating to a newer model or as thought-out as constructing a small rock wall around the base.

Add Stonework. For a project that can give your house a new look altogether, consider incorporating stonework or a stone veneer for a natural appearance. If changing your facade isn't in the plans, less complicated ideas like pavers, brick sidewalks and landscape rings are ways to introduce a classic touch.

Paint (or Repaint) the Exterior. Changing the exterior paint color of a home is one of the most popular renovation projects, and one of the first that comes to mind for many homeowners. Simply altering the colors of trim, gutters and other accent pieces may be enough for some homes, and repainting the exterior doesn't have to mean a new color altogether - consider a brighter shade or simply a fresh coat to help your home pop.

Update Lighting. Light fixtures come in all shapes and sizes, and many times the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While updated porch illumination may not drive home a potential sale, it's a subtle touch right as guests arrive. Adding smaller lights in previously unlit areas like around landscaping (consider solar-powered for easier maintenance) can help your hard work shine.

 Source: National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Published with permission from RISMedia.

August
6

If you're lucky enough to have a spare bedroom, you may want to think of it less as a rarely used landing spot for guests or a place to store extra 'stuff,' and more as a blank canvas - a pleasant spot you can use for rest, relaxation, hobbies or exercise, or even as a money-making option.

 

Consider these inspiring ideas from room designers and creative thinkers:

  • Get crafty - Do you sew occasionally? Like to draw or paint? Love to do amazing gift-wraps? Fill the room with smart choices of furnishings, storage, tables and accessories to make your hobby more fun than ever.
  • Make it personal - Turn the room into a ma'am- or man-cave, with comfy furnishings, a TV and sound system and anything else you need to make it a cozy, personal retreat.
  • Make it a study - Create a cheerful home office space where you or your kids can pay bills, read online or study without interruption. Install a work counter/desk across one wall, add enough chairs and supply drawers, plus computers and printers as needed. 
  • Build your own library - Book lovers can line the walls with shelving, collect books to their heart's content, install a chair or two and some great reading light, and revel in a private library. 
  • Make music - For parents and/or kids with a passion for making music, lay down thick carpeting to soak up sound, add a few comfy floor cushions for musically inclined visitors and make room to jam with friends or solo with as many instruments as you wish. 
  • Start a garden - Wish you had a greenhouse? You can cultivate seedlings in that spare room from the waning days of winter through early spring. Buy ready-made shelving and add light fixtures and supplies appropriate for nurturing baby plants.
  • Sweat it out - Whether you practice yoga, run or do strength training, you'll be more motivated, better disciplined and more excited about your workouts in a dedicated exercise space. Drag that treadmill out of the basement, add all the exercise equipment you want and go!
  • Airbnb it - Make a few extra bucks by renting out your guest room through Airbnb. Outfit the space with attractive towels, linens and toiletries, and make sure your home's Wi-Fi password is prominently displayed.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

May
9

A grass lawn, trees and flowers all look wonderful in a yard—if they're properly maintained. All that work leads to an enjoyable view, but not much else. But instead of getting little in return for their yard work, homeowners can take advantage of their land and plant vegetables and fruits that can feed them for years to come. Here are five types of edible landscaping to consider planting in your yard: Herbs A bed of herbs can be as small or large as you want. Rosemary, thyme and oregano are easy to grow in a small garden bed that's simple to build yourself, or you can plant them in pots on a patio or straight in the ground. Basil, an herb used often in Italian dishes, can grow almost anywhere. Greens Lettuce, radishes, carrots, cabbage, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, arugula and other salad greens can be planted in a small garden in a yard. Leafy vegetables prefer nitrogen-rich soil, so add a lot of compost or manure before sowing seeds. Most will require regular watering and four to six hours of sun per day. If you live in a region where the temperature regularly exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit, grow salad greens in a shaded area so that they don't form seeds. Trees Fruit and nut trees provide shade and food. Apple, peach and pear trees are common types to grow in a home's yard. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the best low-maintenance fruit trees are plum, peach, pear and cherry. They don't require aggressive watering and only require minimal fertilizer applications. Nut trees that can be grown in a variety of locations include almond, chestnut, hazelnut, pecan, pine nut and walnut. Vining Plants By putting up a few decorative trellises in your yard, you can create a sitting area or entryway that's full of edible vegetables or fruits called vining plants. While scarlet runner beans can grow in the ground, they also look fantastic on a trellis with their red flowers climbing around it. Other kinds of vine-type beans can also be grown. Peas, squash and grapes are also excellent vining plants that can add flavor and beauty to a yard. Edible Flowers For the best of both worlds, plant edible flowers that are beautiful and can be turned into a salad that looks like a piece of art. Some edible flowers also work well in drinks and desserts. Types of edible flowers include calendula, zucchini blossoms, hibiscus, lavender, nasturtiums, pansies and roses. Don't use flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. After picking edible flowers, wash them gently in a bowl of cold water and let them dry on a paper towel. Use them immediately, or store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container lined with a damp paper towel for up to a week. Published with permission from RISMedia.
January
11

While the new year is often a time of revitalized goals, it is also an excellent time for purchasing unwanted clutter and junk, Circle a weekend in the first few months of the year and plan for purging. The following areas are a great place to start. Kitchen cabinets. Pull everything out of your kitchen cabinets and examine your items for frequency of use. If you have duplicates, worn items or well-intentioned gadgets you rarely use, pull them aside for donation or re-sell.  Linen closets. When was the last time you itemized your linen closet? Empty out your space and look for linens that are stained, damaged, faded or, in general, have seen better days. Cut them up into rags or store them for drop cloths for your next painting project. Storage spaces. Storage spots--whether it's the attic, garage or that closet in the basement--are often packed with items that we really got let go of. Go through each storage space and be brutal with your elimination tactics. If you haven't used it in over a year and it isn't highly sentimental, it should go. Media collections. Do you have stacks of DVDs, books, magazines, and more that you rarely use? Dig through your collection and consider donating items to your local library.  Clothes. Your clothes closet is likely stuffed full of items you rarely wear. Having trouble letting go? Pull everything out, put on a fashion show for yourself, and toss anything that doesn't make you feel excellent. If you have items that are similar, let your least favorite one go. Anything with holes or stains should be tossed, cut up for rags, or stored for gardening or painting clothes. Consign your nicer pieces, and donate the rest. Published with permission from RISMedia.
December
9

Each new year gives you the chance to reset and start new routines. When you're considering new approaches to healthy living - whether eliminating or adding habits to improve your daily life - beginning with your home is an optimal choice. Your living environment has a strong influence on your life, and it's worth evaluating how you can make updates that create a positive space for you and all that the new year will bring. Consider these ideas to refresh your home and simplify your house cleaning routine so you can spend more time focusing on your goals this year.  Start by Decluttering. It's practically impossible to get excited about a fresh start when you're surrounded by last year's junk. Make decluttering and purging unnecessary items a top priority for your refresh. Clear counters and tables to create more inviting surfaces and force yourself to assess which items are worth keeping. Get rid of items you don't need by donating, selling or disposing of them. Tackle piles of things you've carelessly tossed aside and find (or create) purposeful places for them to belong.  Simplify Your Laundry Routine. Whether it's the frustration of having no clean laundry or never-ending baskets filled with clothes that need folding, laundry is an area where nearly every home can use a refresh. Start with the basics to make laundry easy and quick. A streamlined laundry system starts with the right tools for the job, such as single-dose detergent pods that release while inside your machine, so you can simply toss one in and start the load. Create a Fitness Space. One way to stay committed to a new workout regimen is to create a place where you enjoy spending time. Even if you don't have a room to dedicate to fitness, you can make a fitness corner feel more intentional and less like an afterthought with some simple changes. If possible, locate your fitness area near a window so you can soak up the energy of natural light. Clear away unnecessary items and make room for the equipment or floor space you need. Add inspiring posters or make frames to hold your current workout guide. Add storage for hand weights, resistance bands and other small equipment to create your own home gym.  Reconfigure Your Furniture. A full-fledged renovation may not be in the cards (or budget), but you can give your living space a quick facelift by simply rearranging the furniture. Beyond simple aesthetic changes, think about how you can make better use of natural light and improve traffic patterns. You might also eliminate extra pieces if the space feels overcrowded or consider borrowing functional items that add storage or seating from other rooms in the house. Add Greenery. The middle of winter may not seem like an ideal time to hone your green thumb, but adding a few plants can make your home feel more inviting and chase away the cold weather blues. Plants can also help serve as a natural air purifying system; they absorb carbon dioxide to help stimulate their growth and are believed to absorb a host of other airborne pollutants. Published with permission from RISMedia.
September
21

Even though you know all the many things that make your house so special, the average home shopper is probably a bit jaded. They've looked at countless homes online and have probably driven around to see many in person as well. They may even be at the point where they're not going to bother getting out of the car if they pull up to a house and it just doesn't grab them. That's why it's exceedingly important to make sure your house stands out at a glance. The market is competitive, so you need to attract the discerning - and sometimes tired, frustrated and stressed out - eye of buyers. Here are some ways to make your house just a little more eye-catching: 1. Paint the Trim. Painting the trim around your roofline, windows and front door in a complementary color can be an instant wow that really sets your home apart. Just don't do anything too crazy. Consult a color expert at your local paint store to find out what options may work.  2. Get creative with shutters. Adding fixed shutters to your windows is another eye-catching feature from the curb. A contrasting or coordinating paint will make them especially appealing, or they can be stained for a natural look. Architectural elements or gingerbread can be added for additional appeal. 3. Make the front door a focal point. The front door is possibly the first thing homebuyers will see from the curb, so make sure it's special. Paint it a stand-out color, such as red, black or cobalt blue. Frame it in stonework or panels of decorative or stained glass. Go with a natural wood look and add cast iron elements, such as a door knocker and sconces.  4. Put plants in focus. If you've got a green thumb, let your landscaping lend a hand with curb appeal by adding attractive potted plants to your front stoop or porch, window boxes with trailing vines and flowers, and neatly trimmed grasses and shrubs along the front and side border of your home.  5. Light it up. The right accent lighting will work magic for your home's presentation, so make sure your front door is lit properly, add atmospheric lighting along walkways and can lights to shine a spotlight on trees and other important features of your lawn or home.  These few steps will serve as immediate attention-getters to prospective buyers and leave an indelible impression as they narrow down their choices.  Published with permission from RISMedia.
September
14

How important are your gutters? According to gutter company The Brothers Who Just Do Gutters, pretty important! Below are 10 facts about your gutters they think you should know, from gutter history to maintenance and more. - If gutters are not maintained properly, they can trap moisture and rot the wood boards of your home's roof and siding. - Neglected gutters can be harmful to your physical health as well. Debris caught in gutters can decompose and generate mold. Standing water becomes a breeding ground for disease carrying insects. - Mesh guards may be the most effective way to keep gutters clean. If you live an area with high pollen conditions, try to find mesh gutter guards with a lower micron count (larger holes) to prevent pollen from clogging the screen. - Electrically heated gutters are also available for those living in climates with extreme snow and ice. These devices prevent ice dams and the damage they cause. - Cleaning gutters is a dangerous job. Falls from ladders are the number one cause for accidental injuries at home and account for hundreds deaths in the U.S. every year. - Gutters impact the value of your home. Even if you haven't experienced water damage to the structure of your house, gutters in poor condition can detract approximately $500 – $1000 from your home's selling price. - The first people to incorporate gutters on their dwellings was the Indus Valley civilization, the area that is now Pakistan and northwest India. Their clay brick gutters date back to approximately 3000 BC. - The Romans brought gutters to Western civilization when they introduced them to Great Britain in 47 BC. - Gargoyles are essentially gutters with faces. These structures were originally designed to direct water away from the side of the buildings they were installed on. - Before the 1980s gutters were commonly featured on automobiles to prevent drivers and passengers from getting wet when they exited the vehicle. Source: The Brothers Who Just Do Gutters Published with permission from RISMedia.
July
21

Pool owners often love to invite friends, family and neighbors over for a seasonal splash. When planning your own pool party, consider the following tips. Clean your space. When it comes to a pool party, it's important to start with the basics. Make sure that your pool is working and clean. If there are leaves or other debris on the bottom, use the skimmer to get them out or, if you're feeling adventurous, dive in yourself and grab them. Double check that your filter, heater, and any other accessories are running smoothly at least a day or two before your party. These are problems that will need at least a full day to solve, so you definitely don't want to run into them the day of. Following the pool area, ensure that your yard is straightened up. You can start by making sure outdoor furniture is all set to perfection, your lawn is mowed and your garden is on point. Set a theme. Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive a bit deeper. A pool party typically doesn't have a theme, therefore, creating one can really take it to the next level and separate yours from the rest of the pack. When choosing a theme, be sure to take into consideration the season and try to choose lighter, more "summery" colors like pink, yellow or light blue (or all three). Once you have picked the theme, start incorporating it into every facet of the party. If the color scheme is pink - think big. Buy pink floats for the pool, pink towels for everyone to use to dry off, get pink accent pillows for your backyard furniture, make pink cupcakes, get pink plates and cups and make a pink drink for the kids (maybe even a separate one for the adults, if you know what we're saying!). Fully incorporating the theme gives the party more energy and a direction. Factor in the food. The next important factor is having a tasty food menu. The food can truly make or break a party. During the summertime, grilling is the go-to and is definitely our recommendation. You can never go wrong by making fan favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken. Keep in mind, it is always important to know your audience, and if you think that they would prefer something along the lines of pizza, then feel free to venture outside the grilling norm! Whether it's the adults or the kids, the dessert at a neighborhood pool party needs to be a head turner. The amount of excitement and energy that is common in pool party attendees will carry over into yummy treats for sure. Source: LOOP-LOC Published with permission from RISMedia.
July
10

There's no doubt about it, buying a home is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - decisions you will make in your lifetime, both on a financial and emotional level.

Between the stress that's often involved and the copious amounts of information you're suddenly taking in, it's no wonder that your decision-making process can get muddled during the home-search process. Be aware of these five common mistakes people often make when buying a home so that you can learn to avoid them:

Working without a real estate professional. You might be tempted to save money and go it alone, especially with the lure of websites that make it seem very simple, but buying a home is not like booking a hotel room. A good real estate agent will help you find homes you didn't know about, negotiate a better price, and handle a myriad of legalities and logistics to make sure the deal doesn't fall through.

Getting hung up on a certain style or neighborhood. All home shoppers set out with an ideal home and location in mind, which is the right approach. But sometimes your dream doesn't work with your budget or market availability, so be open minded and let your agent show you some other options. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Thinking about future resale value. Buying a home is very much about the here and now - getting your offer in fast and closing the deal. But in the frenetic pace of the hunt, don't lose sight of evaluating the resale potential of the home you're about to purchase. Remember, this is not just a home for you and your family, it's an important long-term investment for your future. Make sure it's a wise one.

Not jumping on a good find. Sometimes home shoppers pass on what turns out to be their best option simply because they saw it too early in the process. Don't overlook a gem assuming you're going to come across something better - if it checks all your boxes, go for it.

Getting hung up on cosmetics. Don't let someone's taste in design get in the way of your decision-making process. Learn to look beyond paint colors, cabinets, fixtures and other easily changeable style choices to what really matters about a home: space, structure and location.

A good rule of thumb when searching for a home? Stop, take a deep breath, and think. Or sleep on it when you can. Keeping a level head will help you avoid making a mistake you'll regret later.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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