Has Blue Become A Neutral?

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Feeling blue? You're not alone. The color is hotter than ever - so much so that it's being called a "neutral" by interior designers and color specialists. Move over, beige. There's a new contender in town.

"They used to take a backseat, but todays neutrals are leading the way in unexpected directions," said House Beautiful. "Lilac, navy, and Etruscan red join the ranks of white, grey, and beige - and the result couldn't be more stunning.

Here are eight ways to use the color in your home.

Paint one room

While you may not want to paint an entire interior in navy, deep, rich blue looks great in a dining room, master bedroom, or home office. The bigger the room, the taller the ceilings, the more expansive the windows, the better.

Refurb a hand-me-down

That antique dresser or sideboard that once belonged to your great-grandmother doesn't have to sit in storage. Get out the paintbrush and transform it into something you're proud to show off.

Bring style to the windows

Drapes are a low-commitment item but one that can help bring a room together or provide a little punch of color and style.

Embolden your bathroom

White, shmite. If you're thinking of painting your cabinets, consider blue in just about any hue. It brings a freshness to the space and contrasts beautifully with the white you're probably looking at for the shower, bath, and countertops.

Go "barely there"

While deeper shades bring the mood, just a whisper of the color allows you to go blue without veering too far from your comfort zone. "According to designer Jonathan Rose, for a house in the country or by the sea, aqua is the new white and is the perfect complement to greenery or an ocean view," said House Beautiful. "The idea is for the wall color to be quiet so it can blend seamlessly with the outdoors. This blue-green is a pastel with personality. Keep the overall feeling serene with light floors, white trim, a touch of deeper aqua, and a few dark accents to anchor the room."

Think like a fashionista

Many home trends originate on the runway. If you take a look at how the fashion world thinks about the color blue, you can translate the idea to home. "It's one of the fashion neutral colors," said LiveAbout. "That means it can be worn with any other color, so it's a very handy color for mix-and-match purposes. Navy blue jackets or trousers are good examples of wardrobe staples that mix well with other separates."

Make a statement with your sofa

Yes, conventional wisdom says you might be better off with a neutral sofa and color on the pillows, which can be more easily changed out. But if blue is actually considered a neutral now, why not just go big with your one of the main furniture pieces in your living space?

Express yourself with art

Again, if you're just not ready to make such a large color commitment, but you want to ease blue into your décor, the walls are a great place to start. Go oversized with a floral or abstract for an attention-getting display.



7 Paint Colors, 7 Reasons To Redo Your Front Door

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We all know the importance of curb appeal, and while that may make you think exclusively about your yard, it can be a mistake to ignore your front door. "If you're looking to add some interest to your curb-appeal, changing your front door color is an easy update," said Southern Living. "Front door colors can say a lot about your personality as well as your personal style."

There's more to choosing a color than liking the way it looks. Certain colors can help create the right feng shui, and some may even be able to boost your home value and make it easier to sell.

Here are five to consider.


No, black doesn't give off a "Go away!" vibe. On the contrary, "It may sound emo, but painting your front door black is actually a tried-and-true way of increasing home value," said TIME: Money. "According to Realtor.com, a black door gives buyers the impression that your house is a serious, stately and safe choice. It's so popular that two of Sherwin-Williams' top 50 paint colors fit the bill: Peppercorn and Tricorn Black." That can translate to as much as $6,271 more for your house, according to an analysis of more than 135,000 houses for sale.

Soft yellow

A soft yellow door "welcomes guests in a cheery fashion," said HomeBNC. "When you choose a yellow door, you are letting guests and passersby know that you have a sense of fun and a lively decorating style."

Royal blue

There are countless shades of blue you can choose to freshen up your home, but we love a midrange, super vivid royal blue. "Looking for visitors? Try painting your front door a bright blue, which is linked to calmness and trust," said Realtor.com.

Stone Gray

Gray may have been the hot color for everything from living room walls to kitchen cabinets for the last several years, but, on your front door, "This timeless shade not only softens the intensity of an exclusively contemporary design aesthetic, it also extends a hint of modern elegance to the front door," said Domino.

All-American Red

"A shot of this happy hue brings to mind: Coca-Cola (the original, not the diet version), the American Flag, a great picnic-table gingham, and other All-American notions," said Exit Home Key Realty. "If you want to be known as the house with the best barbecues - this is your best bet. It looks best against a crisp white and avoid pairing with bits of navy - lest you want to be known as the flag house."

Metallic Gold

If you haven't thought about painting your front door metallic gold, you will after seeing this exquisite option. "This metallic gold door shines bright to welcome guests to L.A.'s Hotel Covell," said Dwell. "Against a backdrop of more textural, aged elements like brick walls, it's a chic, smooth, glam touch."


We know what you're thinking. Purple? It's so... purple. And so bold. And different. And rich. All of which are great reasons to slather this unconventional shade on your front door.

"After the announcement of Pantone's Color of the Year - Ultra Violet - front doors are all about being bold and making a statement in 2018, according to composite door company, Truedor, said Country Living. Joining forces with their ambassador, property expert and TV presenter George Clarke, the door specialists have released their top 10 New Year's door color list, based on recent sales. And you guessed it -- the most popular door color is purple, driven by Pantone's selection." 

Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold


We're coming to the end of summer, and that means that families seeking to buy a new home before school starts have likely already done their thing. But that doesn't mean you're out of luck if you're looking to sell. Whether you're just getting ready to list your home or haven't had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it - and you - moving.

Price it right

This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isn't selling is to lower the price. (Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely won't get you the sale you're looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down.) ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, but…if it's not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this (maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price), you probably already know why it's not selling.

Here's how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when it's sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps you're looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, you're delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

Every month it doesn't sell is another month you're in a holding pattern. And, it means you're spending more money on carrying costs if you've already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are it's more than the money you'll miss out on if you sell for less. Once you've come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

Choose the right REALTOR®

Another "Duh" statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend who's just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or relative may be eager, they might not have the depth of understanding of sales trends to strategize the best listing price, or the negotiation skills to get the deal done. The relationships a seasoned agent has with other industry professionals is also key to a quick and profitable sale.

Paint your front door

We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. (If it's not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order.) But don't skip your front door while you're trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed (or new, if needed) front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. It's an easy DIY update, too.

But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

"When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black - from charcoal to jet - fetched $6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. "Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyer's mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for."

Take half the stuff out of your closets

Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they won't have enough space for their stuff, they won't be a potential buyer for long.

Put your personal stuff - and your personal taste - away

"Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You'll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You don't want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there," said The Balance. "This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofa screams, "I'm unique!" you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces." 

Keep your emotions out of it

Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or it's otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

"Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home's owner," said Investopedia. "By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you'll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you've undoubtedly created many memories in. Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle, you'll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, but they'll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar."

The Rise of the Single, Older Female Homeowner

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Millennials, millennials, millennials. It's all we've heard about in the real estate market for the last several years, with a sprinkle of Baby Boomers thrown in. But here's who we should be talking about: Women. Older women, to be exact.

New data from the U.S. Census that was analyzed by economist Ralph McLaughlin "suggests single woman over 55 are the fastest-growing demographic of home buyers," said Builder Magazine. That doesn't mean they comprise the predominant buyer group; that goes to married couples, at 65 percent. But the numbers are interesting, nonetheless, especially when you consider that home purchases by single women last year measured 18 percent compared to only seven percent by their single male counterparts.

We've famously written about female homebuyers before, back in 2015. Back then, Our Living Single: Buying a House Without a Spouse article focused on this growing niche of homebuyers regardless of age, noting that "the National Association of Realtors reports that since the mid-1990s, single women have purchased homes at nearly twice the rate of single men. Last year, single female homeowners made up 18 percent of household composition in the association's Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, compared to 10 percent for single men."

The new U.S. Census Current Population Survey, which covered 60,000 households, showed that "the share of home purchases by single women in 2017 - including never - married individuals, widows and divorcées — hit 22.8 percent, the highest on record," said the Washington Post.

Perhaps most surprising is who comprises the largest percentage of single female buyers according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Generational Trends Report: 72 and older.

When it comes to real estate, Gramma's got it going on.

So what's behind the trend? A number of things.

They're downsizing. Women live longer than men, statistically, so many of these home purchases could be driven by the death of a spouse and/or the desire to trade a pricey and/or too large place for something better suited for one person. The study did not take into account how many of these buyers were already homeowners with a residence to sell.

Investment potential. "Primarily, older women are choosing to invest in real estate," said CNBC.

Longer lifespans mean more confidence in longevity. A couple of generations back, it would have been unheard of for a single woman to buy a home by herself, let alone at the age of 72. The dream of so many of our grandparents was to pay off their home and be free and clear. Entering into a 15- or 30-year mortgage at an age when many are already retired is no longer a deterrent for these trailblazing women.

"They want stability. They want to have control over their monthly expenses," said CNBC. "They're going to be where their children or friends are. They're not whimsical at that age."

They're looking for a multi-generational living situation. This is a trend that's been on the rise for many years, and the numbers don't lie. According to the Census, one in five home buyers between the ages of 53 and 62 purchased a multi-generational home.

Rents are pricey...and still rising in many areas. The data shows that 23 percent "of single women cited rising rents as a ‘trigger' motivation behind a home purchase," said the Washington Post. This is far beyond the average for all buyer groups, which is 16 percent.

Avoid These Major Moving Mistakes

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Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to overpacking or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

We've all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe you've been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angie's List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation -- and even your relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues -- are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Doing some homework online can save you a lot of heartache on moving day.

If you've done your research and still aren't confident in the movers you've come across, you always can go the DIY route -- just be sure you're up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company won't do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, don't rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes. If you really like one mover over another but your favorite company is a little pricey, try negotiating for a lower price. Always make sure to get a moving estimate in writing.

3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you haven't laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to "edit" your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and relatives. Perhaps you could hold a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter. If you haven't seen, worn or used something in a year, it's best to think hard about whether you need to keep it -- and whether you need to haul it to your new place.

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks -- or, better yet, months -- in advance. You don't want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before you're supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

You'll find very few people who'll say that packing is fun. In fact, a survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people who'd moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you won't need right away -- for instance, if you're moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that they're out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, relatives or colleagues to lend a hand. Make sure you've got plenty of food and beverages as a "thank you" for your volunteer helpers. If you can't rustle up any free help, consider hiring laborers to do the packing for you; that may be a small price to pay to alleviate moving-related stress.


Essential Apps for Homeowners

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The sheer volume of apps on the market has the ability to make our lives easier, but is also overwhelming. After all, do we really need an app for everything from combating boredom to simulating the look of a beer being drunk when we tip it back? Instead of downloading every app that looks mildly appealing, let’s focus on the ones that make the biggest impact on our lives. From monitoring your home’s safety to getting alerts for water leaks, here are five mobile apps for homeowners on the go.

Lorex Secure

Security and safety are usually on the top of any homeowner's mind, whether they’re at an office across town or around the world. When it comes to a security system, opt for a security camera system with smartphone app compatibility, that way you can set it up easily and monitor your home right from your phone. It’s also a game changer to set up customized motion detection alert zones so your outdoor security system can tell the difference between a passing car and one that’s pulling into your driveway. You can also monitor your home from wherever you are and check on what’s going on around your home. But at the end of the day, what you’re really getting is peace of mind.


If you're a busy homeowner and love to travel or are just so busy you feel like you're never home, you need an identity theft detection service to stay safe. Lifelock’s mobile app can alert you if a loan or credit card was opened in your name and help stay on top of your identity, right from the palm of your hand. It even has an option for you to respond to alerts immediately so agents can intervene without losing valuable time. Bonus points are that it also offers access to credit information so you can see inquiries opened on your account, suspicious activity or any delinquent payments.


It's a homeowner's worst nightmare: They come home and find their home has been damaged by water leaks. That’s why you need an app to tell you exactly what’s going on with your home before water damage spirals out of control. Flo and its app feature a remote and automatic water shutoff option and gives proactive maintenance alerts before a leak ever starts. It can also perform daily tests to make sure your home isn't just currently leak free, but stays that way.


It’s easy to get carried away with spending on a good day, let alone when you’re rushing around or on vacation. A budgeting app like Mint serves as a money manager to take control of your finances in one place. Connect your bills, checking account and retirement savings to Mint so you can see what’s going on in one place. Mint can also help see where you’re overspending in your budget and where to make adjustments while you’re on the go.

Remember the apps you use should always improve your life and productivity, not just add more to the mix for you to manage. Choose the apps that best protect your home and simplify your life.

Back to school and back to work!

Back to school and back to work!


There’s still time to get some last minute summer fun this September—is there anything better than Labor Day weekend barbecues, camping trips, or heading out for a last chance to enjoy the outdoors before returning to the daily grind? As the kiddos sling on backpacks and head back to school, there’s no better time to pursue owning a new home this fall!

Good news for those looking to buy! The national average for homes on the market is starting to stretch longer. Sellers are becoming more open to negotiation, shifting more of the power to buyers. But sellers, don’t be discouraged! There is still a rise in buyers entering the market always sniffing out supply. I will help you navigate negotiations and land on a price that both you and your prospective buyer will be more than happy with.

This September, students aren’t the only ones getting to work. I am standing by to help you evaluate your current standing, and get you into your new home in time for Halloween.


30 or 15 Year? You Have More Choices

By David Reed

If you're brand new to the wonderful world of home loans, you might be a bit overwhelmed at how many different types of financing options are really out there. There's a fixed rate loan and there's an adjustable rate loan. There's also what is referred to as a "hybrid" loan, which in essence is an adjustable rate mortgage but has an initial period where the rate is fixed for say three or five years before turning into a loan that can adjust once very six months or a year.

If you decide you want a hybrid loan, then you'll need to decide which rate you want to take. Do you want a lower rate and pay a discount point to get that rate or will you opt for the no-point option and take a slightly higher rate? Do you want to lock in that rate right away or wait for a while until you get closer to the closing date? If you want to lock now, how long do you want your lock period to be?

These questions and more will be presented to you by your loan officer and we must admit it can get confusing at times due to the many decisions you have to make. One of the decisions will be how long you want the loan term to be. Is a 30 year fixed rate better or is the 15 year program the wiser choice?

The most popular loan in today's marketplace is the 30-year fixed. Every mortgage company offers it and it's the one most heavily advertised. But what's the attraction with the 15 year term? A 15 year loan will have slightly lower rates compared to a similarly priced 30 year loan. It's just that the payments will be much higher.

Let's look at a $200,000 loan amount and take a sample rate of say 4.25%. A 30 year loan at 4.25% and $200,000 yields a payment of $983. A 15 year loan at 4.125% gives us a $1,491 payment. That's quite a difference and one of the reasons borrowers select the longer term due to the lower payment. Yet the 15 year allure isn't the lower payment, but the lower interest paid.

Over the life of the 30 year loan, there will be $154,196 in interest paid. That's way more than half the original loan amount. With the 15 year, the amount of interest paid falls dramatically to $68,548 and that's why some borrowers choose the 15.

Sometimes however borrowers want the 15 year term but the payments can be so high they no longer qualify. But it's not an "either, or" proposition. Did you know there are other terms? There is a 20 year and a 25 year term. These two choices provide a "middle of the road" option and results in a lower payment than a 15 year but still saves on long term interest.

When speaking with your loan officer about your financing options, if you're just getting quotes for a 30 and a 15 year loan, ask about the 20 and 25 year term. You just might find the perfect balance between payment and long term interest.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Turn Your Kitchen into an Eat-In

By Jaymi Naciri

Eat-in kitchens are one of today's most popular design elements, but we don't all have room for a giant island with bar seating. You can still create an ideal dining space, even if your kitchen is on the small size - and without massive renovation. Here's how.

Commandeer a corner

If you have an unused a corner in your kitchen, you potentially have the perfect spot for a banquette. Relocate the dog bowls and buy a bench and a small table, and you have a charming eat-in area perfect for family meals.

Take advantage of a blank wall

"Sometimes you can fit a banquette into your kitchen by adding it to an unused wall," said HGTV. A "small, floating banquette adds extra seating and creates an additional spot for kids to do their homework or enjoy an afternoon snack." You can also give this a built-in look by using the same finish as your cabinetry and framing it in cabinet panels.

Go to IKEA

Building your own banquette is easier than you think. Start with a bank of lower cabinets from IKEA and customize with the cushioned top and pillows of your choosing. Check out this tutorial for inspiration. You can get a similar effect from a couple of entry benches butted up against each other; You can find many at Target, and some might already be cushioned. Just make sure the height is right so your knees don't hit the table or you feel like you're in a ditch when you're eating.

Add to your island

If you have enough space for an eat-in area at the edge of your island but don't have a countertop overhang for chairs, you can still create an eating space. One option is to see if you can add to your countertop. If you have a material like quartz, a good installer should be able to add a piece and make it look seamless. Or, simply move your table directly up to the edge of the counter. Numerous options for counter-height tables are available, with the added benefit that being up higher means dogs have less opportunity to table surf.

Remove a cabinet (or two)

If you can spare a cabinet, you can create a place to pull up a couple of chairs for a casual eating space. This easy job is also super inexpensive since the countertop is already in place. This can also be a great answer for those who have a peninsula but no countertop overhang because you can create eating space on either side—and at the corner, if need be.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Healthy Plant Options for Inside and Out

By Jaymi Naciri

Want to de-stress, improve your indoor air quality, and bring important health benefits to your garden? The right mix of plants can do all three, and you don't even need a green thumb for many of them. Incorporate these indoor and outdoor plants into your home.

"Some well-placed greenery can not only brighten a space but also purify the air - and they're also helpful in creating a more relaxing, restful ambiance in any room," said Huffington Post. "We know that spending time in nature is linked to reduced stress levels and tension relief. What's more, in a 2008 study, Dutch researchers found that hospital patients with indoor plants in their rooms reported lower stress levels than patients without them."

Their No. 1 choice:

English Ivy, which NASA scientists listed as "the number one best air-filtering houseplant, as it is the most effective plant when it comes to absorbing formaldehyde. It's also incredibly easy to grow and adaptable."

Here are a bunch of other healthy options for inside and out.

Golden Pothos

"Although this plant isn't great at removing formaldehyde, it does remove other chemicals like benzene and trichloromethyl from the air, according to the NASA clean air report," said This is Insider. "Benzene is in glue, paint, and detergent. Golden pothos are also especially hard to kill, according to Rodale's Organic Life, making it a great starter plant for horticulture newbies."


"Thanks to the compound linalool, basil smells delicious and can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety," said MyDomaine. "It also emits oxygen for 20 hours a day."

Boston Fern

Add this leafy plant to your home to purify the air. It can remove up to 1863 toxins per hour. 

Spider Plant

Spider plants are one of the easiest houseplants to grow, and they remove pollutants including formaldehyde and xylene.

Bamboo Palm

Bamboo is a superstar when it comes to filtering formaldehyde (plus benzene and trichloroethylene). Plus, "A Bamboo plant is considered auspicious and lucky. The lucky bamboo plant is one of the favorite choices for Feng Shui cures," said Astrospeak. "Often sold in decorative containers; these plants are bound to bring positivity and prosperity to your life."

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera can grow inside, where it will filter formaldehyde, if it has enough indirect sunlight. But, it also makes a pretty addition to your garden. No matter where you grow it, aloe vera has healing properties. The gel inside the leaves contains most of the bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants," said Medical News Today. The antioxidants in aloe vera "can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, accelerate the healing of burns, reduce dental plaque, help treat canker sores, reduce constipation" and may even lower blood sugar levels.


The idea of being able to grow and use your own garlic is attractive in and of itself. They also look attractive, with pretty flowers bursting from the top. But perhaps the greatest benefit to growing garlic in your yard is what it does for other plants. "The most popular allium for keeping aphids off roses, garlic repels Japanese beetles and spider mites, too," said This Old House.


Mint spreads quickly and has multiple uses in your kitchen. Plus, it "deters ants, fleas, aphids, cabbage moths, even rodents - plus it attracts earthworms, which help condition soil," said This Old House.


Marigolds are just one of a number of outdoor plants that can help keep mosquitoes away. "Marigolds, an easy-to-grow annual flower, emit a smell that deters mosquitoes. Grow them in pots and place them near your patio or entrance to your home to keep bugs out," said Garden Design. "Not only can they keep away mosquitoes, but they also dissuade aphids, thrips, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, and tomato hornworms." Other mosquito-deterring plants include lavender, citronella grass, catnip, and rosemary; rosemary can also "encourage inner peace, promote positivity, and ease depression and anxiety," said MyDomaine.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Create A Chic Sleeping Space

By Jaymi Naciri

Even though it's the place we spend hours in, relaxing and regenerating every night, the bedroom is often the last place that gets design attention. That's because we tend to focus on the spaces that guests see first (or most), and we may never get around to making the bedroom as chic as it can and should be.

You don't have to be afraid of tackling this important space; little changes can make a big difference, and many can be made this weekend without outside help. Shake out those muscles and get ready to make that bedroom beautiful!

Use wallpaper in new ways

Create an urban chic look with a feature wall of exposed brick or go romantic with this look. They're both of the peel-and-stick variety, which means they'll go up (and come down) easy. The no-commitment aspect of these wallpaper options makes them the perfect choice for those who haven't done much in the bedroom because they thought they needed to strike the ultimate inspiration.

You can also revitalize an old dresser or pretty up a boring nightstand with a roll of the stuff. It sticks to almost anything and is removable and repositionable in case you make a booboo. 

Make your own headboard

You could spend several hundreds of dollars (or more!) on an upholstered headboard, but with a trip to Michaels or Hobby Lobby and a couple of hours of your time, you can make you own for much less. A couple of sheets of MDF, some batting, some buttons, and your fabric of choice is just about all you need. This is one of our favorite tutorials for creating a DIY headboard that looks like it came right out of a catalogue.

Snazz up your bedding

You don't have to get new bedding to create a fresh new feel in the place where you lay your head. Plush pillows can give the bed some oomph. "If you only make one tweak to upgrade your bedroom, it should be the way you style pillows," said My Domaine. "According to Andrew Suvalsky, principal interior designer at ASD, a considered bed is always topped with a handful of precisely layered accent pillows. Practical pillows, the ones you sleep on a night, should sit propped against the bedhead, overlaid with decorative pillows in height order. Suvalsky said he likes to "pull the accent color from the overall color scheme of the space [to create] the focal point of your room."

Create a standout mirror

Peel-and-stick tiles aren't just for kitchen backsplashes. Turn a regular old bedroom mirror into a standout. The whole project can be done in mere minutes. Tip: Measure first so you know exactly how many tiles you need and so you don't end up with awkward spacing. And, be sure about the placement before you add pressure because once the tiles adhere, they're not easy to remove.

Customize a rug

A patterned rug large enough to bring a cushy feel to your bedroom floor can be pricey. With stencils and chalk paint, you can transform a simple, inexpensive rug into something that looks like it came from an expensive decor store. 

Paint your furniture

Stencils are a great choice for bedroom furniture, too. "A little sanding and some paint can give new life to any piece of furniture, but if you really want to transform an old piece, this is a DIYer's best-kept secret: stencils," said Country Living. "Using stencils to give a piece of furniture a makeover is an easy way to create a completely custom and one-of-a-kind piece. It's also a brilliant way to refresh wood furniture that has seen better days." Add some new knobs, and, voila!

Create some dazzling doors

Inexpensive molding can make your plain, flat, bedroom or closet doors infinitely more interesting. Check out how many different ways you can realize this easy update on Decorating Your Small Space.

Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

The Art To Staging Your Home

If you’re in a tough seller’s market or just looking to get top dollar for your home, you want to do any little thing you can to make your house stand out in a potential buyer’s mind. Staging is one of those things that can make the difference between a sold sign and a house that lingers on the market.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that staging has a real impact on home sales. In fact, a majority of realtors report that staging increases the sales price of a home anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. However, the real impact of staging seems to be how quickly a home is sold, with 39 percent of Realtors stating that it greatly decreases the time spent on the market. Buyers’ agents confirm the positive impact of staging, stating that 77 percent of buyers were better able to picture a home as their own when it was staged.

Of course, there is an art to staging a home, and a poorly staged home can have a negative impact on a potential sale. Here are five tips for staging your house that will have you putting up that “SOLD” sign in no time.

1. Declutter and Clean

Before thinking about decorations or furniture placement, the No. 1 suggestion of realtors is to declutter and deep clean. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and pack away anything that is not essential. Your goal is to remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing the positive aspects of your house, which is why realtors often suggest removing family photos and overly personalized decorations (like your giant bobble head collection). Remember, decluttering includes removing excess furniture, which help make your rooms feel bigger.

2. Group Furniture

Once you’ve removed furniture that is unnecessary or too large for the space, group furniture into conversational groups away from the wall, instead of pushing sofas and chairs to the corners. You want there to be a flow to each room, and keeping the walls clear of big furniture will actually make the room feel bigger, says HGTV.

3. Accessories in Odd Numbers

Although you’ll need to declutter, you still want your space to feel like a lived-in home. Do this by decorating with groups of accessories like vases, books or plants. Staging professionals often recommend grouping similarly hued objects in odd number pairings of varying heights and shapes.

4. Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents

While you want to keep your staging décor fairly neutral, adding one or two bold accent pieces will help highlight a particularly great feature of your home. Adding a dramatic chandelier that matches the style of your home to a dining room, entryway or even a fabulous bathroom will not only add light to a room, but bring architectural interest to the space as well.

5. Use Mirrors

Mirrors can help brighten a dark hallway, bring light into a room and make a room seem larger, says Forbes. For a big impact, get a cheap mirror and add a decorative frame, or group a lot of small mirrors in differing shapes and sizes. In a room with a window, place mirrors across from the window to reflect the sunlight.

Staging is all about helping potential buyers create an emotional connection with your home. Help buyers picture themselves living in the house by decluttering, grouping furniture and accessories, adding one or two bold accents and using mirrors. Now get ready for the offers to roll in.



Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Educate Yourself Before Buying Your First Home

By Jaymi Naciri

These are exciting times. You've finally outgrown apartment life or living with your parents or sharing a place with waaaaayyyyy too many roommates, and you're ready to take the leap to homeownership. Now it's time to prepare. As you embark on this journey, beware of six important don'ts that could potentially derail your purchase.

Don't think it's too early to get prequalified

So, you're just going to go out "looking" at houses, you say? The time when you just expect to drive around a little and maybe visit an open house or two is obviously the time when you're going to fall in love with a house and want to make a move on it right away. If you're not already prequalified with a lender, you may not have a chance at it. Competition is fierce across the country thanks to low inventory, and well-maintained, move-in ready homes do not sit if they're priced right. Talk to a lender now to make sure you can qualify - and learn your max budget - even if you just think you're casually looking (because that can change in a hurry!).

Don't wait to the last minute to check credit

As a continuation of the casually looking conversation…you want to check your credit the second you start thinking about buying a home. You never know what's going to be on there. Even if you've never missed a payment and have always done a good job of managing your outstanding debt, there could be errors on your report that you're unaware of or even something from many years ago that you didn't realize had been reported to a credit agency. Those little boo-boos, accurate or not, could be hurting your score, and a low score could keep you from getting a mortgage at all. Give yourself time to correct errors or fix blemishes; every tick upward can help you get a better rate and make your home more affordable.

Don't forget about PMI when calculating your monthly expenses

The idea of putting as little down as possible on your new home is attractive, especially if you're not a natural saver. Today, that can mean just three percent of your purchase price, depending on the loan. For FHA loans, it's three and one-half percent. The problem with making the minimum down payment is that you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

"PMI is a fee you pay on your mortgage until you owe 80 percent or less of what your home is worth. It's one reason why so many experts advise homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment; if you do, you avoid the evils of paying PMI," said Student Loan Hero. "PMI can cost between 0.3 percent and 1.15 percent of your loan annually. Depending on how much you borrow, that can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs until you can cancel your PMI."

Don't ignore the closing costs

Many of us micro-focus on the down payment when getting ready to buy our first home, but there is another important expense related to the purchase: The closing costs. Closing costs encompass a wide variety of fees, some or all of which may apply to you depending on where and what you're buying. They can include everything from the application fee and appraisal to the escrow fee to the home and pest inspection to the recording fees. You're looking at between two and five percent of your purchase price for closing fees, which can definitely add up. Many first-time buyers fail to factor this in when getting ready to purchase, and you don't want something that could amount to a few thousand dollars or more to come as an 11th-hour surprise.

Don't forget to factor in all the monthly expenses

New-home communities often quote a monthly payment that looks quite affordable and that can entice buyers who don't look more closely. That's because the payment is based on principal and interest only (Typically, you'll see a star next to the payment that tells you there's a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.). If you take a look at the small print, you'll see that there are also taxes and insurance to factor in. In some cases, there is also a homeowner's association fee. That monthly payment may not be looking so good anymore.

If you're buying your first home and coming from an apartment or other rental property, you may not have worked things like a gardener into your monthly budget. You'll also want to consider that if you're going up in square footage, there could an increase in your utilities, and you may be taking on payments for things like water and trash that were covered by your rental. It's best to have a true idea of what your monthly expenses are going to look like when buying your first home so you don't end up in over your head.

Don't think you can go it alone

Can you buy a home without an agent? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not usually. It could be that you are looking to buy a home that is for sale by owner. "In the industry, we call these types of sellers unrepresented," said The Balance. "Beware if you are trying to buy a home directly from an unrepresented seller. Odds are the seller won't know what she is doing or she might be taking advantage of you; either way, it could be problematic."

Unless you are a real estate attorney or are otherwise connected to the industry and aware of the laws, contract issues, etc., it's best for you to have representation, regardless of what type of home you are buying. 


Copyright © 2018 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Hello August

Well, the dog days of summer are officially underway!

It’s easy to let things slow to a crawl as we enter some of the hottest days of 2018.  And on top of the sweltering heat, heavy humidity, and hot sunny days, we’re also starting to find ourselves buried under school supply lists and fitting in those last minute vacations.  Make sure that you keep your homeownership goals in sight this August!

The temperature outside isn’t the only thing that’s rising this month—those looking to build their own homes may soon find themselves facing rising costs for lumber, land, and labor.  It’s a good time to pursue a pre-built home just waiting for you to fill it with your family and furniture.  Even though demand is still high and supply is holding steady, you can still find your new home before we roll our way into the fall.

Get ahead of these dog days this August by giving us a call today!  We/I are/am waiting to help cool down your worries with an evaluation of your current standing.