Design May 17, 2021

Ideas for Decorating with Plants

At the mention of interior design, the first things that often come to mind are furniture, wall art, paint colors, and other material components. However, plants are an important décor element that have the power to refresh the look and feel of any indoor space, while making your home eco-friendlier. Keep the following tips in mind when decorating your home with plants.

 

Consider Your Space

Before you make a trip to the nursery, think about which spaces in your home are best suited for plants. It’s also important to research the needs of the plant varieties you’re considering. By knowing how much shade and direct sunlight they need, you’ll be able to identify the best home for each plant type and the care they need to grow.

 

Go Vertical

Empty vertical wall spaces provide the perfect opportunity to incorporate hanging plants. Whether you use planters or install shelving, hanging plants attract the eye and bring an organic, living element to what was previously a blank canvas. Hanging herb gardens are a wonderful addition to the kitchen, allowing you to keep fresh ingredients and flavors out in the open air and within reach at all times.

 

Floor Plants

Floor plants are typically large and require plenty of space. Due to their size, they are often used to balance the proportion of rooms containing large furniture items like couches, desks, and tables. Common floor plants include the fishtail palm, olive trees, the rubber plant, fiddle leaf fig, and bird of paradise.

 

Low Maintenance Plants

For those who don’t consider themselves to be green thumbs, cacti and succulents are the way to go. Most succulents come from hot climates with little humidity and have thick tissue that stores water for long periods. Accordingly, they are lower maintenance than most other plants and require little watering.

 

Decorate with Terrariums

Another creative, relatively low-maintenance option for indoor gardeners is a terrarium. Terrariums are contained indoor gardens, usually in a glass container that can be left either sealed or open. Closed terrariums are self-nourishing, creating their own water cycle. Plants that grow in humid conditions are best suited for this environment. Open terrariums provide a good home for plants that need less water, like cacti and succulents. Terrariums make for eye-catching décor, with styles ranging from minimalistic to intricate.

Design May 17, 2021

Timeless Home Design

When decorating and designing, homeowners often strive for a home that may incorporate vintage and modern elements but remains timeless at its core. Fortunately, certain design principles and elements have stood the test the time and can help you curate the home you desire. Here is your guide to understanding how you can design a home that looks and feels timeless.

 

Principles of Timeless Home Design

Balance

When designing a space in your home, balance is a key concept to delivering a timeless ambiance. Achieved through a proportionate arrangement of objects and colors, balance will help create a logical pattern in your home that pleases the eye. Experiment with symmetry in your home to build balance. This doesn’t mean that there needs to be two of every object, rather in every space you should utilize the objects and color schemes present to create symmetry.

 

Focal Point

Imagine a living room without a couch or mantle, or a dining room without a dining table. These images are confusing because we simply don’t know where to focus our attention. A core principle of timeless design is that space should have a focal point to give order to the room. Focal points don’t always have to be derived from a built-in feature of the home, you can create one with furniture, artwork, or some other form of eye-catching décor.

 

Scale and Proportion

Scale and proportion are two fundamental concepts of interior design and are key to creating a timeless décor. Simply put, proportion refers to the relationship of items and colors, while scale refers to their relationship with the room. For example, if a room in your home has high ceilings, this allows for taller furniture and artwork, while the most spacious rooms in your house are the best home for large décor pieces and furnishings. Proper usage of scale and proportion also means leaving some space between items to let the room breathe, so to speak.

 

Colors and Patterns

For a timeless look and feel, choose more classic color and pattern schemes. Basketweave is a traditional pattern that helps to create symmetry. Stripes are always in style and can help to reinforce clean lines. Stick to neutral paint colors on your walls as they give you the flexibility to add décor without overwhelming the room. Combinations of off-whites, beiges, grays, and earthy tones will deliver that timeless feel you’re looking for.

 

Natural Elements

There’s nothing more timeless than nature. Materials like wood, stone, and marble have been a cornerstone of design since antiquity. Whether you utilize these materials in your home as furniture, accent pieces, or focal points, they will help create a trend-free, organic environment in any room.

Design May 17, 2021

Renovating Your Short-Term Rental

Renovating your short-term rental property will not only keep it in peak condition but will also help it stand out to potential renters. Completing remodeling projects with the goal of increasing the return on your investment is a matter of identifying which renovations make sense for the home, putting together a plan, and taking steps to minimize the risk of the projects going over budget.

 

Start with Repairs

Because rental properties are by nature a source of income, it’s worth your while as the homeowner to reduce maintenance costs wherever possible. This can often mean spending money in the short term on repairs and replacements in order to save money down the road. Furthermore, by upgrading your appliances, fixing leaks, and updating any outdated features, you will provide the most accommodating environment for your renters. Making these improvements can also help set your rental apart from other properties, giving you a competitive advantage in the market. As you go about making repairs, don’t forget to check the working condition of all faucets, electrical outlets, and lights.

 

Renovating Your Rental

Understanding the scope of your renovations and the motivation behind them before you get started will help formulate your plan moving forward. Are you looking to upgrade the home to sell it in the future? Are you renovating to increase rent? Or are you simply looking to be more competitive in the local rental market? Knowing the answers to these questions won’t necessarily change your renovation plans, but it will provide guidance as you enter the remodeling phase. Consider talking to your Windermere agent about how different projects may affect the value of the property.

Even a small-scale renovation can make a big difference in the minds of renters. To create the best first impression from the get-go, consider boosting your home’s curb appeal. Projects like exterior painting, refinishing a deck, and power washing your siding and walkways will help provide an inviting outdoor setting for your renters.

When it comes to interior renovations, kitchens are a great place to start. Thankfully, kitchen makeovers can be simple. Identify the areas of your kitchen that need repair first, then expand your project list from there. Next, consider upgrading the bathroom. Begin by checking your pipes, drains, and p-traps for any signs of wear and tear. Simple things like painting the vanity and updating the bathroom hardware can also make a big impact.

Last but not least, if you decide to hire a professional to renovate your rental property, be sure to gather multiple bids and compare prices before making your final decision.

Learn more about the pros and cons of investing in vacation rentals here: Vacation Home or Income-Producing Investment. You can also read about vacation home renovations by season here: Renovating Your Vacation Home.

Living May 17, 2021

Technology in Your Home

Every year there are more products that come out to automate your home. There are many reasons to add technology and to automate your home including safety, security, efficiency and convenience. Here are some reasons and products that are must have for your home.

 

For Safety

There are many products that will help keep your family and home safe and prevent disaster.

  • Water sensors – Water damage is a common issue within homes. There are many types of water sensors that will detect water from a burst pipe, a broken supply line or clogged toilet.  Water sensors will alert you if your home gets a leak so that you can act quickly to prevent any more damage.
  • Indoor room sensor – An indoor room sensor is like a smoke detector with many more functions. Most indoor room sensors can detect indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity to help you monitor your home.  You will receive alerts, and many are also voice activated.

 

For Security

Add these products to keep a close eye on your home and belongings while you’re away, or while you’re home

  • Security cameras – Now with home automation you will be able to keep a close eye on the inside and outside of your home. You can get security cameras that include audio recording, motion detection and allow you to view footage remotely using an app.
  • Door & window sensors – there are many types of door sensors that will fit your budget. Most are small and sleek so they are undetectable, when their magnetic field is broken by opening a door or window you will receive a notification of the exact window or door that was disturbed.
  • Smart lock – These are great not just for security but also for convenience. With smart locks you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere.

 

For Convenience

Take control of your home with automation and smart tech that is simple and convenient.

  • Smart blinds – smart blinds allow you to lower the blinds without ever getting up. There are few different options for smart blinds to control with a remote, your eye phone or connect them to your Alexa to make them voice activated.
  • Smart fridge – Smart fridge options can include a lot of different features depending on what you are looking for. Smart fridges can include touchscreen interface that connect to the internet, internal cameras, cooling options and a connection to your phone so that you can control it remotely.
  • Smart vacuums – smart vacuums are a great self-cleaning tool that you can activate while you are out of your home. These vacuums will clean your floors without any physical labor and can be controlled remotely.

 

For Efficiency

Smart technology can help make your home run more efficiently & save you money.

  • Smart Home lighting – with smart home lighting you can control lights in your home remotely. Set a schedule or turn off and on and dim to save energy powering your lighting.
  • Smart fan – With a smart fan you can control the speed and how long your fan is running. This allows you to turn on the fan at optimal times while also shutting it off when the energy it uses is no longer benefiting you.
  • Temperature control – For controlling temperatures within your home look for a smart thermostat. Features for smart thermostats include Wi-Fi capabilities, scheduling when your heating and cooling systems start and stop.  Most include energy reports so you can adjust how you use the system.
Living May 17, 2021

10 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

Spring is calling and the flowers are in bloom. It’s the time of the year that many homeowners start spending more time in the garden. Having a healthy garden is one of the best ways to create a sustainable home and reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Here are some eco-friendly tips that will help to make your garden even more sustainable.

 

1. Compost Your Waste

Composting, which puts your natural waste to good use, is the cornerstone of any sustainable garden. All grass clippings, dead leaves, plants, flowers, and the like are rich in nutrients. By composting, you provide your garden with a natural fertilizer, free of contaminants. Not only will this provide nourishment, but it will also help to produce healthier and tastier food.

 

2. Mulching

If having a sustainable garden is your goal, it’s important to treat your soil with care. Mulching enriches the soil and ensures it’s as healthy as can be. Mulch conserves the moisture in your soil, ensuring it won’t dry out. It also reduces weed growth and naturally moderates the temperature of the soil. Mulching can cover either bare soil or freshly planted food and flowers.

 

3. Garden Design

It’s natural to want to accentuate the beauty of your garden when designing it, but the sustainable gardener will prioritize giving plants what they need. Take into consideration which plants need direct access to sunlight, which need the most space in the garden, and any special requirements a plant may need to inhabit optimal growing conditions.

 

4. Use Natural Weed Killers

One of the pillars of organic gardening is to reduce the use of chemicals whenever and wherever possible. Homemade recipes involving vinegar and corn gluten meal are effective substitutes for harmful, chemical-based weed killers. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to weed by hand often.

 

5. Use Water Efficiently

Substantial watering is critical to keeping your garden healthy, but overwatering is a common practice and leads to an unsustainable garden. Research the amount of water your plants and flowers need to make sure you aren’t overwatering. If you live in a rainy climate, rain barrels are a useful tool as their function is to catch and conserve the water from your downspouts.

 

6. Animal Manure

For a more sustainable garden and even healthier soil, consider adding animal manure. Chicken, sheep, and cow manure are all popular choices. Rich in nutrients, it can be used both as a fertilizer and as a soil conditioner. Make sure the manure you purchase is free of pathogens and ask about the recommended window of time from application to harvest before you begin using it.

 

7. Go Local

Planting natively is a fast ticket to sustainable gardening. Native plants are innately acclimated to local climate conditions, making them easier to grow and maintain. Native plants often require less water to grow due to their familiarity with the soil and rainfall in your region, which cuts down on your garden’s total water intake.

 

8. Collect Dried Seeds

Believe it or not, you can save your seeds and sow them next year. Wait until the seed is fully ripe before you collect it. It’s important to gather seeds when the weather is dry and to store them in a dry place. To produce healthy plants in the future, the seed must be completely dry.

 

9. Control Garden Slugs

Slugs are known to wreak havoc on gardens, eating through leaves and fruit, leaving a trail of destruction. There are many ways of controlling slugs in your gardens, but some may do more harm than good. If you choose to use slug bait, go organic. Many slug baits contain chemicals that are highly toxic to other animals.

 

10. Replace Your Gas Mower

How else can you reduce your garden’s carbon footprint? Replace your gas mower with a more sustainable alternative. Electric mowers and push mowers are functional and more eco-friendly replacements. For added sustainability, consider replacing your other gas-powered equipment, such as trimmers and leaf blowers.

Living May 17, 2021

How to Handle Water Damage In Your Home

Even if you’ve done all you can to prevent water damage in your home, there’s still a possibility it could occur. During a water damage emergency, it’s important to have a plan in place and be proactive to make sure things don’t go from bad to worse.

 

How to Handle Water Damage

If your home is in danger of flooding, evacuate the area until it is safe to return. In all other situations, as soon as you notice any water damage, it’s time to act quickly to prevent further damage. Water reaching an electrical source spells danger, so be sure to switch off your circuit breakers to cut the electricity. If your circuit breakers are in the same room as the source of the water damage, it’s best to stay away and call an electrician. Unplug devices from outlets as well to avoid getting shocked. In all situations, wear rubber boots, gloves, and protective gear.

After the electricity has been turned off, the next step is to find the source of the water damage. In the case of a burst pipe or a leaking hot water tank, cut the water supply by switching their shut-off valves. If the water damage has occurred in a small, contained area, you may be able to handle the repair independently. But if the water damage has spread to a large area, it will require a professional.

Moving furniture, household items, and possessions not only helps to protect them, but will also clear the area for when professionals arrive, allowing them to get right to work. If the water continues to flow while the technician is on their way, try to prevent further damage by slowing its spread using buckets, towels, and mops. These items don’t have the salvaging power of a professional’s tools, but anything you can do before they arrive could help to prevent further damage.

 

Water Damage – Insurance

Contacting your insurance company as soon as possible will help to navigate the situation. Find out what steps they may require you to take in the event of a flooding emergency. It’s helpful to get a claims adjuster to your home quickly to assess the situation and provide estimates on the potential cost of making repairs. Water damage can easily feel overwhelming and chaotic, but it’s important to photograph the incident. Take photos of the source of the damage, where it spread, and the damage it caused—both to the home and any personal items of value. Documenting the incident will inform your claim with your insurance company.

Whether the damage is covered by your insurance depends on the source of the problem and how your policy is arranged. If the damage was a result of an underlying condition that worsened over time, your claim may be denied. If this happens, ask for a detailed explanation to understand the gaps in your policy. This emphasizes the importance of regular home maintenance on the systems that control the water in your home. Even if you run into a costly repair, it’s better to be aware of deficiencies and fix them than to wait and be faced with a full-fledged emergency later on. Take time to review your policy as is and understand what you as the homeowner are ultimately responsible for in the event of an emergency.

Selling May 17, 2021

The Risks of FSBO

Selling a home is a complex process that requires patience, knowledge of the market, and a deep understanding of the financial processes. And that’s just the beginning. Accordingly, many homeowners trust in a professional to sell their home by working with a real estate agent. Despite the expertise an agent brings to the table, some homeowners choose to go it alone, bearing the responsibility of a successful home sale on their own shoulders. If you’re thinking about selling “For Sale by Owner”, or FSBO, know that there are certain risks and obstacles  that can easily cause your home selling journey to veer off course.

 

The Risks of FSBO 

Real estate agents are professionals who possess a vast knowledge of both the industry at large and local market conditions acquired through years of training, certifications, and working with clients. For FSBO sellers, the complexities of the home selling process can easily illuminate a lack of experience and leave them feeling unsure of how to continue, or worse, situations may arise where proceeding incorrectly could jeopardize the transaction. This lack of expertise could lead to incorrectly pricing your home, which will attract the wrong buyers. An accurately priced home requires market knowledge and an objective approach to the home’s value, which can be tough for homeowners. The more time an overpriced home spends on the market, the more likely the price will have to be lowered. A home with a lowered price that has been on the market for some time is less appealing to buyers than an accurately priced new listing. An underpriced home could leave significant money on the table for the seller.

 

A common motivating factor for wanting to sell FSBO is that, in the case of a successful sale, the seller avoids paying commission to an agent. However, what that commission ultimately pays for is a vast skill set that is specifically trained to get you the most money for your home. Agents not only have access to all kinds of information on local market conditions, trends in the real estate market, and data on comparable homes in your area, they are also connected to a network of potential buyers and have the marketing know-how for appealing to them and any others in your market. To attempt to approach this same level of visibility while selling FSBO means incurring additional expenses like ad placement, signage, hiring a photographer, and more.

 

Selling a home takes up a great deal of time. FSBO sellers can expect to stage the home, host showings and tours, answer phone calls from buyers, interview home inspectors, and coordinate open houses, all while gathering data on the local market—and that’s all before any negotiations or paperwork. When an offer comes through, FSBO sellers must dive into the extensive documentation required for the mortgage, title transfer, and any other legalese involved in the transaction. It’s like having another job that you may simply not have time for, whereas a real estate agent’s job is to dedicate their time, energy, and experience to the successful sale of your home.

 

All these factors make selling FSBO a risky proposition. Mistakes in the selling process can lead to both financial and legal implications, but part of a real estate agent’s expertise is knowing how and when these dangers can arise and navigating them properly.

Selling May 17, 2021

Knowing When to Sell Your Home

Of all the components involved in a successful home sale, there is perhaps no greater contributing factor than timing. Knowing when to sell your house gives you the best chance to make an impact when you hit the market. Every seller’s situation is unique but choosing when to sell comes down to how prepared you are, finding the right agent, and local market conditions. Once you’ve got a grasp of these elements, then you can decide if it’s the right time to sell.

 

Are You Ready to Sell?

Before you sell your home, your finances must be in order. Equity is a natural starting point for assessing your financial health. To calculate your equity, you’ll need to know your home’s market value. Your real estate agent can help you determine this by conducting a comparative market analysis (CMA), which involves comparing your home to others in your area by such characteristics as square footage, the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, age, and lot size. Once you know your home’s market value, subtract your current mortgage balance from that number and you’ll have your current home equity. If your equity is negative, then it may not be the best time to sell.

Beyond your home equity, there are plenty of other financial factors to consider when preparing to sell. Selling a home does not come without its own set of costs. Commission fees, home repairs, inspectionsand staging are just some of the expenses you can expect to incur. For more information on the costs involved with selling your home, talk to your Windermere agent.

Selling a home is an emotional process that comes with significant lifestyle changes, so it’s important to make sure it’s the right time for you and everyone in your household. Part of a real estate agent’s’ role is understanding how the varying emotions of the selling process apply to different people. For every fear, worry, and hesitancy you may experience when trying to decide if it’s the right time to sell, your agent can share similar experiences while working with past clients.

 

Local Market Conditions

The state of the real estate market in your area could dictate whether it’s the right time to sell. Various factors affect local market conditions like inventory, seasonality, mortgage rates, and home price growth. Talk to your real estate agent about what the local conditions mean for your selling strategy and what kind of buyer negotiations you can expect to encounter. Agents have the tools and know-how to perform a complete analysis of the market to help you decide when the right time is to sell.

 

Find the Right Agent

Real estate agents are the catalyst for a successful home sale. They not only bring a wealth of resources to the table, but they can also offer helpful advice on the optimal time to sell. Agents can assess your goals for selling your home, how that aligns with your budget, and how those factors fit into the context of current local market conditions.

To truly know whether it’s the right time to sell, it’s important to find the right agent who understands the needs of your household. The more an agent knows about your situation, the better they can formulate a selling strategy. This also allows them to understand what the best offer for your home looks like. When searching for an agent, ask for referrals from your inner circle. Interview multiple agents to get an idea of their qualities, and select the one that makes the most sense for you.

Selling May 17, 2021

What is a Seller’s Market?

When the housing market favors sellers, a seller can expect ideal conditions for selling their home. However, that’s not to say that a seller’s market doesn’t come with its own unique set of challenges for parties on both sides of the transaction. That’s why it’s critical for buyers and sellers to work with an agent who not only understands their wants and needs but who can also help them navigate highly competitive market conditions.

 

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market occurs when demand exceeds supply. When inventory is limited, competition amongst buyers is fierce. Median sales prices increase, days on market decrease, and homes commonly receive multiple offers, often over their original asking price.

 

Selling in a Seller’s Market

Though demand is high in a seller’s market, staging and making any necessary repairs are still important steps to take before hitting the market. An agent can help a seller make important decisions about which repairs and updates help add value to the home.

When it comes to offers and negotiations in a seller’s market, sellers have the leverage. It’s common for homes to fetch more than their asking price with multiple offers on the table. Though prices are being driven up by demand, a seller may choose to list their home at or just below fair market value with the hopes of starting a bidding war. Because competition is so high, buyers may be willing to waive an inspection contingency to help make their offer stand out. Agents can help sellers decide whether they should conduct a pre-listing inspection, which sometimes helps the seller get more offers and command a higher price.

With multiple offers on the table, it may be tempting to simply choose the one with the highest figure; however, the best offer is also the one that removes risk and aligns with the seller’s goals. Whether that entails waived contingencies, a shorter closing window, or an all-cash offer, in a seller’s market, the seller has the power to choose. Sellers should fully review each offer with the help of their agent before proceeding.

 

Buying in a Seller’s Market

Buyers in a seller’s market must act fast. Due to the high level of competition, they must be prepared for a frustrating scenario where their offers may not win out. This emphasizes the importance of working with a buyer’s agent. In a seller’s market, it’s more likely that the buying process will include such factors as seller review dates and escalation clauses. A buyer’s agent will help navigate these challenges while working with their client to make their offer stand out. They will formulate a strategy, comparing their client’s wish list and budget against the limited number of homes available and proceeding accordingly. A buyer’s agent will also set the expectation that, due to the competitive nature of the market, finding the right home may take longer than expected.

In a seller’s market, the buyer is at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiations. The chance of getting a contingent offer is minimal and pushing for certain closing dates and specific repairs may do more harm than good to their offer. A cash offer has significant power in a seller’s market. If a buyer can make a cash-heavy or even all-cash offer, it is likely to stand out to the seller. It gives the buyer more buying power and greatly increases their chances of winning a bidding war.

 

For more information on the conditions of your local market, visit our website for Quarterly Real Estate Market Updates from our Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner.

Buying May 17, 2021

The Importance of Pre-Approval

To set yourself up for a smooth and successful home purchase, getting pre-approved is perhaps the most productive first step you can take. It strengthens your buying credibility, informs your home search, and speeds up the closing process.

 

The Pre-Approval Process 

There is an important distinction to made between two important steps of your mortgage application process: pre-qualification and pre-approval. They are similar in that they both help to inform your financial standing, but there are key differences between the two.

Pre-qualification

Pre-qualification is the first step in your mortgage application process. It will help you to understand the approximate loan amount you can expect to qualify for. You’ll begin by sharing your financial information—debt, income, assets, etc.—with you bank or lender. After reviewing the information, the bank or lender will give a loan estimate. The process is relatively simple, only taking a few business days to process.

Pre-approval

The pre-approval process is more involved than pre-qualification. After submitting a mortgage application, your lender will require all the necessary info to conduct a thorough credit history check and review of your financial health. Getting pre-approved will give you a better idea of how much you can borrow, estimated monthly costs, and what interest rates you can expect on your loans. Mortgage pre-approvals are typically valid for 60 to 90 days.

 

Benefits of Pre-Approval

Credibility

The truth is, each home on the market can only go to one buyer. To maximize the chance that your offer is accepted, sellers need to know that your offer is serious. Getting pre-approved shows that you are financially prepared and, in the event that your offer is accepted, there will be no hold ups in obtaining your mortgage. This assurance is what sellers want to know about their potential buyers, especially in a seller’s market.

Home search

Not only does pre-approval help to bolster your case as a buyer, but it also Indicates your affordable price range. By knowing your budget, you will be able to hone your home search and start preparing offers, eliminating any potential wasted time looking at houses you can’t afford.

Closing process

Once your offer is accepted, you’ll be counting down the days to move-in. Unfortunately, the closing process can often drag on, leaving buyers feeling like they’re in post-purchase limbo. Pre-approval will speed up the closing process, since the mortgage approvals have already been taken care of, allowing you to focus on next steps like appraisals and inspections.

 

When to Get Pre-Approved

Being financially prepared for a home purchase is a solid indicator that you’re ready to go about getting pre-approved, but what does that look like? Buying a house means taking on serious debt, so it’s worth your while to begin forming a long-term strategy for paying off outstanding debt before getting pre-approved. Having adequate savings for a down payment is a sign that you’re ready to make your offer. For any questions about the pre-approval process and to get connected to a mortgage professional, contact your Windermere agent.