My Blog

5 Reasons to Get Dirty Indoors this Winter

2/27/2019
5 Reasons to Get Dirty Indoors By Kristina Phelan  Baby, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your green thumb ’til spring. Bring the outside beauty of nature indoors this winter with an indoor garden space – it adds natural beauty to a home or supplies edible herbs to spice up those winter meals. We found five positives to planting a winter garden:  Breathe Easy Do you smell that? It’s clean air! Plants absorb carbon dioxide and in return provide clean oxygen to help purify the air in your home. Although the exchange of carbon dioxide to oxygen is small, every little bit helps when you’re trying to keep a healthy home during flu and cold season.  Fresh Food Growing fresh herbs is one of the best reasons to start planting indoors. Pluck fresh herbs to add a little texture and taste to your dinners. Bonus-growing your own herbs cuts one more item from the grocery list.  Stress Less Studies show that indoor plants help to decrease stress levels within the home. Place plants in visible spots throughout your home to help reduce stress and create a sense of natural peace.  Let Them Learn Starting an indoor garden is great for beginner gardeners who want to start small before graduating to bigger outdoor areas and cultivating indoor plants is a great way to educate others about life and how plants grow. Children love to get their hands dirty and you can lead them through the different stages of the plant growing from seed to maturity. Don’t be surprised when visitors ask about your plants as well!  Low Maintenance & Cost It’s not only economical to grow indoors, but a little elbow grease goes a long way when it comes to cultivating inside. You won’t be spending hours digging in the dirt or pulling weeds and all you need for success is a container, potting soil and seeds. Add some water and sit in a sunny spot and you’ll be an indoor gardener in no time!

3 Tips for making small spaces work for you.

2/21/2019
Three Tips for Making Small Spaces Work for Your Family Small spaces aren’t the traditionally sought–after spaces for growing families, but with more millennial parents choosing to live a minimal lifestyle — families are adapting to life in homes with less square footage. If your family is downsizing by choice, or by necessity, follow the tips below for creating a functional space that can support your growing family.  Channel Your Inner Marie Kondo It’s time to purge! Take a tip from tiny home enthusiasts who have chosen to live a simpler life — downsizing means committing to decluttering. Re–gift, donate and sell unwanted items. Eliminate multiples and only keep items that spark joy — and have your kids help.  Every Item Has a Home, Every Space a Purpose Being thoughtful about what items stay in your family’s space is just as important as figuring out where to store it. Families without the space for a designated playroom may want to consider where toys will be tucked away. Try rotating toys to save space, while helping kids get the most out of playtime.  Go Vertical Some may say that floor space is the most valued space in a smaller home — but vertical is the way to go! Bookcases, coat racks and shoe trees are all great options for tiny spaces.

Tidy Up before you put your home on the market!

1/30/2019
Tidying Up Tips Hit the Housing Market By Melissa Reeves  Admit it — over the holiday break you found yourself binge watching the hit show with superstar organizing consultant Marie Kondo and quickly realized your place is not sparking much joy. Never fear! The KonMari Method is here and the tidying-up trend can give sellers and buyers the gentle nudge needed to organize their personal spaces or clean up their financial houses before showings or placing a bid.  WE HAVE LIFT OFF! The theme behind the hip, tidying trend is that by making changes in our living space we create a catalyst for change and give ourselves the momentum we need to take charge in other areas of life. A nicely organized and de-cluttered home shows well and knowing your financial story before hunting for a new home sets you up for success.  SPARK TIME SAVINGS Just like the KonMari method can help organize your home, buyers are encouraged to tidy up their credit to save time too. Buyers who know their credit score, debt to income ratio and come with pre-approved home loans are saving time and headaches in the house hunting process which can mean the difference between deal or no deal. By building a strong financial foundation before you shop, your bid on the house of your dreams will have time on its side.  SHOW STOPPERS For sellers, once your belongings are scaled back, you can reclaim some of that time you wasted on running around, cleaning up before a scheduled showing. Many sellers say the ultra-approach to simplifying has changed their lives and it helps them with the quick-clean when they are showing their homes to prospective buyers. By staying on top of the little things, like that big stack of papers, mail and books piling up on the dining room table – it’s easier to give your space a quick-clean before a last-minute showing.  SENSE OF SATISFACTION The tidying-up method can make our brains happy and leave us with a sense of accomplishment. Order matters in avoiding debt and financial stress too. Earn, save and enjoy is key in tackling those finances. Concentrate on being proactive with your finances and stay financially responsible as you try to qualify for a home loan. Having your financial house in order feels as good as organizing that messy hallway closet.  SHOW YOUR BEST SIDE  If you have your home on the market, simplifying a space can help you sell. Agents often tell sellers with big kitchens to clean out the useless items and create that extra space – this allows buyers to get a feel for the space and imagine where their own kitchen appliances would be placed or stored.  DECREASE FRUSTRATION Buying or selling a home is hard, but the simple task of organizing can cut through the daily hassles of life. A well-organized home and a firm understanding of your finances can have wide-reaching effects on our mood, happiness and even relationships during the homebuying or selling period.

4 Real Estate Trends in 2019

1/23/2019
Millennial Monopoly: 4 Real Estate Trends in 2019 By Kayla Roofe  What’s behind the rise in homeownership? Growing interest from millennials. Here are the 2019 millennial real estate trends you need to know about this year.  Empowered with Knowledge  First-time, homebuying millennials are much more informed when it comes to renovations, repairs and real estate process than other generations. Growing up during the development of the internet has made them very tech and research savvy and able to find ways to access important information such as listings, neighborhood reports, HGTV home renovation videos and other types of industry information on their own. In 2019, they will rely on real estate agents to share information that they can’t find online such as neighborhood developments, local market forecasts, local housing regulations and more.  Buying homes – despite rising rates Millennials continue to make up the largest segment of buyers, accounting for 45 percent of mortgages, compared to 17 percent of baby boomers and 37 percent of Generation Xers. While first-time buyers will struggle, older millennial move-up buyers will have more options in the mid-to upper-tier price point and will make up most of the millennials who close in 2019. As their housing needs adjust over time, millennials are on track to make up the largest share of homebuyers for the next decade.  Sweat Equity Many millennials grew up watching renovations and makeovers on HGTV, which means many of them are ready to invest sweat equity in their new home. Millennial homebuyers, overall, are more aware of the costs, work and implications of renovations than the previous generations. This is good news as interest rates rise and buyers should be prepared to settle for homes in need of TLC.  New Buying Strategies Social media continues to impact millennial homebuying habits. They rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, and a strong online reputation for real estate professionals is a must in catering to this market. In fact, a recent study showed that millennials would prefer to buy a house from a real estate agent influencer over a traditional real estate agent. Showcasing a home on social media, especially on visual-heavy platforms like Instagram, is essential for appealing to millennial buyers.

4 Resolutions in 2019 to help you from Prep to Purchase.

1/2/2019
Home Buying Goals? 4 New Year’s Resolutions to Help You from Prep to Purchase If you’re on the hunt for a new home in the new year you don’t have to wait for the ball to drop – you can start acting on your new year resolutions now to prep for one of the biggest purchases of your life!
RE/MAX has put together some top tips if your goal for 2019 is to become a homeowner.
Pinch Those Pennies Saving for a down payment on a new home is one of the most important parts of the homebuying process. It’s important to plan out your savings now if your goal is to purchase a new home in the future. The median sales price of a home in the U.S. is now $235,000 – you may need at least 20 percent as a down payment or close to $50,000.
Check Your Credit Make sure there are no surprises on your credit report. One of the first things your mortgage lender will do is check your credit to determine your debt-to-income ratio to determine how much of a mortgage loan you qualify for. According to credit-rating company Equifax, a score of 690 or higher is considered “good.” If your credit needs clean-up, start working on it now so that your score is up to par before you start the pre-qualification process.
Lock in Your Pre-Approval Sitting down with a mortgage lender now can save you time later. Securing pre-approval on a mortgage will usually lock in an interest rate for 90 days and allow you to focus on homes that are in your price range.
Hold Off Hefty Purchases Curb any shopping sprees you may have planned. Big purchases like a new car or a family vacation before buying a house can affect your debt-to-income ratio and can affect how much money a lender is willing to lend to you.

Sleigh Your Holidays with these 4 Decorating Styles,

12/12/2018
winter decor

4 Holiday Decorating Styles to Sleigh Your Holidays By Jenn Armbruster  Time to deck the halls! At RE/MAX, our agents find homes that match your life with your style and the same goes for holiday decorations. How would you describe your holiday decorating style? We’ve rounded up four styles that are sure to bring comfort and joy to you and yours this Christmas season.  White Christmas The monochromatic aesthetic of a white, Christmas-themed holiday decor is sophisticated and elegant. To fend off the critics who think the style is too cold, add in some blankets, fluffy pillows and comfy rugs. Flocked trees, which are making a comeback, are a perfect complement to this style.    Traditional If you’re more of a holiday purist, decorating with traditional Christmas decor helps bring the holidays home. The reds and greens of the season make a space feel warm and joyful. Traditional decorations are often timeless, so don’t feel guilty about splurging on pieces that you love to display year after year. Candles, bells, candy canes and garland are the classics that work well if this is your decorating style. Going traditional doesn’t mean you have to have a real tree — artificial trees are more cost-effective and (some would argue) don’t take anything away from the traditional Christmas spirit.    Rustic You already brought the outdoors inside when you picked out a Christmas tree — so, go ahead — continue the theme and create a rustic Christmas wonderland. Texture is important to a rustic style — wood, wool and burlap offer a neutral palette to layer in natural elements. Feeling crafty? Try building this DIY advent tree.    Colorful Time to get merry and bright. Colorful Christmas trees and decor bring whimsy and cheer to the holidays. You can stick with one color or go all out by mixing color schemes together. And what about a rainbow Christmas tree? This decorating style has no rules – it’s all about having fun.

Help your pet make a smooth move too!

4/11/2018

Moving can be stressful for every family member – including the four-legged ones. Every animal reacts differently to new living quarters, and temperament has a lot to do with it. Some pets take a move in stride, while others exhibit anxiety or insecurity for days or weeks.

Here are 5 things to consider as the big move approaches and after you're in your new home.

1. A little help from the vet
Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on easing the transition. If your pet is generally anxious or high-strung, it might be worth asking your vet whether a mild calming medication might help during the transition period. It's also not uncommon for vets to prescribe gentle stress relief for during travel.

2. Time to explore
Upon moving in, give your pet time to explore the house gradually, rather than letting it loose to roam at will. Limit it to one area – perhaps the kitchen – for a few hours until it calms down. Show the pet where you've placed its familiar items like the food dish, water bowl and bed. You might want to keep a dog on a leash for an initial home tour. If you have a yard, avoid letting pets out unsupervised for several days until you're sure they can't climb or dig out from under the fence.

3. A walk in the park
Help release anxiety and pent-up energy by take your dog for a walk and sniff through the neighborhood. While people learn about a new place primarily by visual cues, dogs depend on their noses.

4. Helping the feline in your life
Territorial by nature, cats often experience more issues with moving than their canine counterparts. Keep your cat safe in its carrier upon arrival, placing it in a quiet area. When the hubbub dies down, let it out in an enclosed room away from main traffic areas. Provide your cat with familiar objects, such as a bed, litter box and toys. Encourage it to explore the room, perhaps by strategically placing cat treats.

5. Update pet IDs
Amid the hustle and bustle of the move itself, don't forget to update your pet's identification information before you move. This way, if Fluffy or Fido slip out the door, anyone who finds them can easily return them to their new home. Also, some municipalities require licensing within a certain time frame of moving. If your pets are microchipped, contact the registration company and give them the new information.

Smart home features catch current buyers eye!

3/21/2018

Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 — when you're selling your home, you'll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.

"Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient — all of which are bonuses when you're trying to sell a house," says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. "Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers."

According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That's a 64 percent increase from 2015.

Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers' attention and help sell your home faster:

Keyless/remote entry door locks

Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock — available from multiple manufacturers — you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.

Smart lighting

From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.

DIY security systems

Don't want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.

Smart appliances

The Internet of Things (IoT) — everyday objects that have network connectivity — includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you — and each other — wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone — so if you leave the house and can't remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.

While appliances aren't always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.

Smart plugs

One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.

Temperature controls

Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today's home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family's needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.

"Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install," Lewis says. "Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2018."

 

Thinking about renting out your home during events in town? Read this first.

2/21/2018

Once upon a time, the idea of renting out your home to a stranger while you left for vacation was considered quite odd.

Enter changing consumer attitudes, the "sharing economy" and online services such as Airbnb, FlipKey (owned by TripAdvisor) and VRBO (owned by HomeAway, which is now owned by Expedia).

Today, renting a room in your house (or the entire house) to unknown travelers isn't an outlandish concept. Short-term rentals provide an income opportunity for owners and a unique way for visitors to experience a city. What better way to get the local experience than staying with – or renting from – locals?

If you think you're up to being a host of a short-term rental, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn't been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn't have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels. Finally, many investors are buying properties with the intent of renting them out, which takes housing off the market in areas with already limited inventory (check out this article from The Los Angeles Times to learn more).

Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws.

2. Taxes

You don't need to report the money earned from the short-term rental of your home if you meet both of these requirements:

1. You rent it out for fewer than 15 days a year AND

2. You live in it for more than 14 days or more than 10 percent of the total days you rent it out during the year (this determines if the property is seen as a residence or a rental property by the IRS).

Still unclear about the taxes on your short-term rental? Forbes and TurboTax provide some more information, or you may want to consult with a tax professional.

3. Additional Costs

Renting out your home could mean an extra insurance bill. Check with your insurance agent to learn what your current policy covers regarding short-term renters. They may recommend increasing coverage. Airbnb does provide free primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, and many of the other sites have partnerships that make it easy to take out additional coverage, if needed.

In addition to insurance, you'll have to pay a percentage of the rental income to the website: Airbnb and FlipKey both charge a 3% host service fee, VRBO has an option to pay-per-booking or an annual subscription fee.

Looking for a permanent home in your favorite vacation spot? Search for properties on www.janeotoole.net

Happy Valentines Day to my house!

2/14/2018

How deep do your feelings go for the place you call home? Here are some indicators you're completely head over heels.

You know you're in love with your house when:

1. You can't wait to see it at the end of the day. In fact, you catch yourself daydreaming about being there.

2. You have trouble sleeping when you're away too long, and your own bed is the only place you want to be by the time you return.

3. You sometimes put its needs ahead of your own – like cleaning the gutters instead of watching the game.

4. You manage to return from most shopping trips with at least one item just for the house. "Those outdoor lights would look great on the garage." Sound familiar?

5. You seem to have more photos of all the great projects you've completed than you do of the people who live there.

6. You lose track of time on the weekends and sometimes stay there for days at a time.

7. You do everything you can to protect it because you would be devastated if anything bad ever happened to it.

8. You appreciate every one of its quirks. The creaking floors might bother someone else, but they make you feel like the house is happy you're there.

9. You feel the chemistry, but you can't explain it. It just feels like home – plain and simple.

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