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My First Blog Post

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Welcome to my weekly top topics blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for information on the real estate market, trends in design & so much more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Buying Your First Home? Know These 5 Things.

I love working with first-time home buyers. Helping you find your first home, learn the home buying process, and guiding you from house-hunting to move-in day make my day. Here are three things you should know before you start looking.

1. Work with one real estate agent. It’s best to have one agent who is helping you with your search. Your agent will be dedicated to finding you the right property, and then negotiating on all the terms of your transaction on your behalf. You want that person to get to know you and your family’s needs and preferences, rather than starting over with someone new each time you go look at a house. Keep in mind that the agent who shows you a home is, ethically, the one who should continue the transaction. Also, when you call an agent from a yard sign or advertisement, you are dealing with the seller’s agent. While most real estate professionals are adept at handling both sides of a transaction professionally, it makes more sense to deal with someone you have already taken time to get to know and who has your best interests at heart as the buyer. You aren’t paying your agent; unless otherwise stated, he or she is paid by the seller upon closing. Still, you are hiring someone to work for you, so feel free to interview multiple agents and pick the one that you feel fits you best.

2. You need to be pre-approved for financing. Unless you are paying cash for your home, you do need to talk to a lender before you start looking at houses. One reason is that it helps you set an accurate price range for house hunting. Looking at homes that you can’t afford to make an offer on just leads to frustration. A mortgage lender will not only tell you what amount you can borrow, but also your projected monthly payment, your closing costs, and what you should or shouldn’t do with your finances to maintain your eligibility throughout the lending process. Another reason for having an up-to-date pre-approval in hand is so you don’t lose out to another buyer. If you find the perfect house, you will want to get an offer in before someone else gets it, and that pre-approval letter must accompany your offer. I would be happy to provide you with names of mortgage lenders in our area who have provided excellent service to my clients.

3. There are some up-front costs. When you find the right house, and you and the seller have agreed on the price and terms and have signed the contract, you will first need to make your escrow, or “good faith” deposit. This is money you are risking if you back out of the deal for reasons not protected in the contract. Usually it is between 1% and 5% of the sales price but can be more or less depending on what you and the seller agree to in the contract. Your agent will help you with this during negotiations. The escrow deposit counts towards the sales price.

4. Next, you should have an inspection of the property done by a certified home inspector. This cost varies depending on the size, condition, age, and features of the home, but is usually a few hundred dollars. You will need to pay this at the time of service. You may elect to pay for other inspections based on the results of the initial inspection. For example, if the inspector notes an issue with the HVAC system, you may need to pay a service fee for an HVAC contractor to look at the system. You want to get as much information during your inspection period as you need to confidently move forward with the purchase.

5. You may need appraisal and a survey of the property will be ordered, but these are usually added to your closing costs and not expected to be paid in advance. However, you may be asked to provide a credit card number to be charged in the event that the closing does not take place.

I will guide you through all of these steps throughout your home buying journey. Ready to get started? Give me a call!

Room Update – Try Color Blocking

Repainting a room is one of the easiest ways to freshen the décor while changing the feel of the room. The hottest design trend this year takes this to a whole new level. Color-blocking techniques are dominating magazines and social media with vivid color palettes and bold geometric patterns, turning the traditional painting project into something special. 


Color-blocking takes many forms—everything from a simple way to differentiate one space from another by changing the wall shade, to artistic pairings that would feel at home in a modern art gallery. Your style most likely falls somewhere in between. The common theme is to try something new while changing the feel of the room. 


Before you start your project, take time to consider the desired final look. Consider the relationship of your chosen colors and how each plays a part in the design. Bright shades create a sense of energy while softer tones are calming. Use blocked color to trick the eye into adding or subtracting space using light or dark colors. Color-blocking can also be used to draw attention to architecturally interesting elements, such as a curved entrance or crown molding. 


This weekend is a great time to update your space by trying something new and modern. Choose traditional color palettes and subtle shapes to compliment your current design or go bold and completely change the room. Any home décor style can benefit from the techniques of color-blocking with a little imagination, masking tape, and a paintbrush

8 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Home

We all want people to love our home as much as we do, especially when you are trying to sell it! While it’s impossible to please every buyer’s taste, there are several easy things you can do to make your home more appealing without spending a lot of money. Here are some tips to consider if you’re thinking about listing your home.

1. Check your curb appeal. Take an honest look from the curbside. What are buyers seeing first? If your home needs to be painted or pressure washed, consider making that investment. Clean up landscaping by trimming trees and bushes, planting some fresh annuals, and laying new mulch. Clean windows, repair sagging soffit, or porch railings, and have any trip hazards on your driveway or front walk repaired. Finally, consider some attractive, yet subtle decorations for your front porch.

2. Create an inviting entryway. When buyers step inside your front door, you want them to feel welcomed. If you have a foyer or front hall, it is easier to make an attractive entryway, but even if your front door opens right into your living room, you can create the feel of an entryway with a couple of simple tricks. Clear the area of clutter things that tend to pile up at the front door, like backpacks, dog leashes, or shoes. Place a small table or bench beside the door with plants, candles, or another simple décor. A small area rug can help define the space as the entryway.

3. Let the light shine in. Take advantage of natural light as much as you can. Trimming any bushes or trees outside your windows can help immensely. Wash your windows inside and out and replace or remove any worn screens. Make sure to open blinds or curtains before all showings.

4. Add some fresh color. Painting is an easy and inexpensive way to make an older home look new and is especially important if your current wall color is dark or outdated. Choose a light neutral color like a warm grey or light beige and use the same color throughout the house. If your home tends to be dark, this will help brighten it up.

5. Let storage spaces speak for themselves. Many sellers make the mistake of waiting until they have a contract to start cleaning out closets. Cleaning out clutter is part of getting ready to show, not just getting ready to move. You want buyers to perceive that there is ample storage in the home, and this doesn’t work if every drawer, cabinet, and closet is stuffed to the gills.

6. Eliminate distractions. Streamline your decorating so your buyers see the house and not your personal belongings. Go ahead and pack up collectibles and family photos and keep decorative touches to the minimum. Too many plants, magazines, or toys distract the buyers from seeing the home as their own.

7. Entice them with outdoor space. The back yard shouldn’t be an empty space of infinite possibility, nor should it be a storage area for neglected toys. Get rid of any eyesores you’ve been avoiding dealing with, spruce up your landscaping, repair irrigation or pool issues, and create an entertaining space with a patio set, or a backyard oasis with some potted plants and a hammock.

8. Make it easy for them. Taking care of minor repairs is another step you can take to help buyers see your home as an easy and comfortable move. You want them to be mentally arranging their furniture as they walk through, not making a list of nicked woodwork, torn window screens, and leaky faucets. The less work involved, the easier it is to fall in love.

Common FSBO Mistakes

 Selling your home on your own as a “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) can be tempting. With real estate commissions amounting to a certain % of the sales price, many owners consider selling their homes on their own to save money. Keep in mind selling as a FSBO is more complicated than it might seem, there is a lot that goes into getting a home listed & getting to the settlement table. Hiring a Realtor will keep you from avoiding these common FSBO mistakes. 


 • Not Pricing the Home Properly – Doing market research on your own is tough. Too often a FSBO is not priced correctly. 
• Not Advertising Properly – Marketing a home is more than an ad in the local newspaper. FSBO sellers can utilize online tools like Zillow and Trulia, just like the agents. • Saying Too Much To Buyers – Homeowners are rightly proud of their homes, but telling buyers everything they know about the home, good or bad, can turn off a potential buyer. 
• Not Disclosing Problems or Defects – Just because the home is being sold by the seller, it doesn’t mean they are not subject to the laws governing seller disclosures. 
• Not Negotiating Terms – Not only the price, but the terms are negotiable.


Selling a home without an agent could work in a seller’s favor, however without doing the proper research ahead of time to know exactly what to expect, it might end up costing more in the long run.

Weekend Project – Organize Your Kitchen Pantry!

The kitchen pantry is one of those areas that can quickly become a mess. Older cans and boxes keep getting pushed to the back and forgotten. How many of us have found cans of green beans dating back a decade or two during a spring cleaning? Or a box of crackers that went stale because you forgot (or didn’t know) it was opened?

If you have a free weekend and are looking for a satisfying project, consider a pantry clean-out and reorganization. It’ll eliminate some stress if you can actually see the groceries and supplies you have, and make sure they’re fresh! Here are a few quick ways to bring order to your food pantry.

1. Use Clear Storage Containers – Using clear and stackable storage containers with simple labels will not only make it easy to see the food but save valuable space as well and keep the food fresher longer.

2. Use the Door Space – A great use of the pantry door is to add a storage rack to the door itself. Use shelves and baskets to corral spices and favorite snacks, or smaller items that can get lost.

3. Chalkboard Lists – Another great use for the inside of the pantry door, or an area near the pantry, is to use chalkboard paint to create a place to keep lists. Use this chalkboard to keep track of items you need as you use them, or to keep an inventory of what you have in the pantry so it gets used before it expires.

4. Sort the Items – Organize your pantry by use. For example, keep baking supplies together to allow for easy access when you want to make cookies, or organize all the kids’ snacks on a shelf that’s within their reach (or out of reach, if it’s treats!).

5. Keep Things Well-Lit – Finally, don’t neglect the lighting in your pantry. If you have an area which has become a “black hole,” add lighting, either wired or battery, to help make sure you can see what’s back there. A well-organized pantry is just a weekend away and will make cooking and grocery shopping much easier.

Do’s & Don’ts for Investing in Real Estate

Are you thinking about investing in real estate this year? It may be the perfect year to purchase a rental property, a vacation home, or to flip houses. I would be happy to help you find the perfect investment property, and I’ve put together this list of tips to help you get the best return on your investment.

First, consider what type of investment property is best for you and your family.

If you are thinking about a rental property, such as a vacation condo or rental home, consider how much time will be needed for things like maintenance, managing a website or rental listings, and vetting potential tenants. For rental homes, make sure the areas you are searching are attractive to tenants in terms of proximity to nearby business centers and transportation hubs, and in good school districts for family tenants.

Is a family vacation property more to your liking? Make sure you read any and all rules pertaining to owners and guests, as well as rules on renting your property out when you are not using it, if that is something you plan to do. Also be sure that your vacation property is somewhere you foresee your family wanting to travel to often enough to make it worthwhile.

 For new house flippers, you want to find out what return you can expect to get in your market area and talk to contractors and suppliers to get realistic estimates on renovations, both in terms of price and time to completion.

Here are some additional Do’s and Don’ts for investing in real estate:

~Do aim for at least a 15% return on investment.
~Do look for homes priced in the low end of the median price range.
~Do look for 3-bedroom, 2-bath single family homes for rentals or flipping.
~Do focus on one neighborhood or area.
~Do purchase rental properties close to your home if you plan to manage them yourself.
~Do use one real estate agent to help with all your buying and selling needs.

~Don’t purchase a second property until the first is earning revenue.
~Don’t buy properties that you wouldn’t want to manage, even if you plan to use a property manager.
~Don’t buy a home that you cannot afford to carry for several months in case of a slow market.
~Don’t buy a home or condo without having inspections performed.
~Don’t buy without title insurance.
~Don’t buy more properties than you are able to manage.

As I said, I can help you search for investment properties. Sometimes buyers make the mistake of searching on their own and contacting the sellers or listing agents directly. Working with several different people wastes your time and increases the chances that you will miss out on a deal. Also, working with one agent allows that agent to learn your tastes, needs, and parameters, so I can be out looking for the right property while you are busy doing other things.

Buying A Home When Inventory is Very Low


By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors; yes, it’s a “Seller’s Market.” Well, if you are actively searching for a new home, you already know that it’s true. The low inventory of homes for sale has made things difficult for buyers. There just aren’t many homes for sale out there and when a nice listing does come to market, it’s met with multiple offers…..quite often with offer prices well over asking.

If you’re a buyer in this market, you might feel overwhelmed but remember that with a solid strategy, you can still find your new home, even when inventory is low. The highest offer price in the world means nothing if the transaction doesn’t go to settlement. Here are a few tips for buyers looking in a tight market:

 • Get you pre-approval letter before you shop so you’re prepared

 • Be prepared to pull the trigger…quickly

• Write a competitive offer 

• Keep contingencies to a minimum 

• Write a clean offer; make it easy for the sellers to just say yes.

 When inventory is low, it’s easy to feel like the best homes are already gone, but by working with your Realtor, you can put yourself in the best position to have your offer accepted. Your Realtor will also work with you on “out-of-the-box” strategies in finding potential homes before they hit the market. 

How to Choose the Right Realtor

Real estate agents seem to grow on trees. Everyone can list off a few agents from their cousin to the “nice lady” they talk to at the local coffee shop. But choosing the right agent is a critical element to having a successful transaction. Experience and expertise vary widely from agent to agent, so how can you choose the right person for your needs? • Ask for Referrals – Yes, everyone knows an agent, but asking someone with a recent transaction is the best way to find a good agent. 


• Do Your Research – Fortunately the Internet makes it very easy to do some research. Check local sites like Yelp or Next Door, move around their website and check their license for complaints. 


• Interview Several Options – Make them earn your business. Conduct a real interview with several agents and see who best fits your style.

 • Ask the Right Questions – The agents should be able to discuss their marketing plan for a home sale and offer their process for home buyers, including lenders, home inspectors and escrow. 


Remember that the right agent is not always the one who tells you what you want to hear. Listen carefully for how they answer your questions. Make sure you can work with them and have an “opt out” clause in the listing agreement, just in case.

Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning Tips Yes, it’s that time of year again. The annual spring cleaning. The weather is warming up and it’s a sign to freshen up your home for the upcoming seasons. Not sure where to start? Read on to find tips to make your spring cleaning easy and effective.

 Clean Room-By-Room This is a great approach to make sure you’re not forgetting to clean other parts of the house. Create a checklist to the areas in each room that need an extra deep clean since they’ve been neglected during the winter. The areas that have been cleaned recently can be skipped. 

Clear the Clutter Get rid of the things that are not needed and get organized. Follow a process and create piles for the things that are going to trash, going to be given away, or stored. Now is also a great time to have a garage sale or donate the items that are not needed. 

Seasonal Chores Patios, grills, and windows that have been ignored during the winter, need special attention now. Remove the excess grease from the grill and scrape off anything that has been leftover. Clean sliding doors and make sure to wipe down both sides of the window. Spray down patio furniture and use a handheld vacuum for any chair cushions. 

Ask for Some Help The more people that help, the faster it gets done. 

 Keep Cleaning Supplies Minimal Stores offer so many cleaning supplies but there is no need to get all of it. Keeping it minimal will help you feel less overwhelmed and you don’t have to clean up so much afterward. Stick to a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths. 

Establish Cleaning Habits On-going cleaning habits can make the next spring cleaning easier. Clean up routines practiced every few days and quick chores can keep your home tidy for the most part. 

Follow these tips to make it an easy spring cleaning every year!