We Honor & Thank our Veterans on this 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day!

First, let me state that, on this Veterans Day, the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, we at,  are grateful for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and appreciate and thank our active military and veterans for your service. There are home ownership and rental benefits for both active military, veterans and the families of those who were lost in battle. When you’re ready to get started with your advertising, we will gratefully provide you with a Military usaflagdiscount! To help you on your journey to home ownership or leasing options, below you’ll find valuable information that will make your home search more manageable, less stressful and lead you to your new home!

One of the first places to check for eligibility, benefits and assistance is the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of their offerings include $0 down payment mortgages, housing grants for disabled veterans (with service related disabilities) and even have help if you’re choosing to rent instead of own. So let’s get started so you can move into your well earned lifestyle!


Veterans and service members can use this mortgage program if they are wanting to buy a home with no down payment. VA mortgages generally do cost less and provide for more flexible qualification requirements than traditional conventional mortgages.


If you are a veteran suffering with service related disabilities, you are eligible to receive assistance with the costs of altering your existing home or with building a new home. Visit the VA website to review details regarding 3 possible programs designed to help you live as independently as possible. They are: Special Housing Adaptation, Specially Adapted Housing and Temporary Residence Adaptation.


Already own a home but suffering from some financial challenges; before you give up and walk away (which will incur more challenges in the future) contact your local VA office or the VA website to speak with counselors specifically focused on helping you avoid foreclosure. You can take advantage of this help even if your mortgage is not a VA loan.


Active duty personnel and veterans can access state assistance with housing related benefits such as the Military Housing Assistance Fund. This provides help with closing costs related to your new mortgage. If you’re disabled, you may qualify for partial or full exemption from property taxes (may not be available in all states).


Several local agencies work in tandem with the VA to provide housing vouchers and subsidized rents for vets who are already or in danger of becoming homeless. If you need this help now or fear you may need it in the future, contact your local VA Medical Center via: 877-424-3838. You can also access information and assistance by going to

Again, we at, appreciate your service and hope to assist you to the best of our ability with your home ownership/leasing goals!


Is Your Home’s ‘Story’ Costing You the Big Bucks?!

One thing that everyone has experienced in our high tech world is the reality that people’s attention spans are very short…if they don’t like what they see within the first minute or two, they are moving on. This is especially true when shopping online. So, your home has to tell a great story via pictures and details to catch their attention and Keep it longer than 3 minutes. So what is the story your home is telling prospective buyers? Is it bringing you top dollar or costing you a bundle? What is your home’s story?

CLUTTER SAYS:  There’s not a lot of room in this home and very little storage. Keep in mind that what you see as “collectible” others see as clutter. Purge BEFORE you put your home on the market so you don’t lose valuable time fixing this issue too late. Fill and store Clutter-is-OUTbins with the off season clothing, boots, big blankets…whatever you can remove that will make your closets look roomier and storage appear ample.

FULL MIRROR WALL/WASHED OAK CABINETS/BRIGHT BRASS FIXTURES/PSYCHEDELIC WALLPAPER/POPCORN CEILINGS, etc SAY: This home hasn’t been updated for a very long time and so you should get a great deal on the price. These items can actually be updated at reasonable costs so consider doing so BEFORE you hit the market. Disclaimer: If your decor deliberately displays Retro decor, embrace it fully and sell as such which will bring you a great price with the Retro seeking buyer…and they are out there!

DIRTY BASEBOARDS/TRIM/WINDOWSILLS/MESSY ROOMS SAY: If you think this is dirty, wait until you pull out the refrigerator and stove! Even if you are comfortable living in a less than pristine environment, it’s important to market your home to the masses who most often are seeking to not find hidden schmutz after they move in. You can typically hire a cleaning crew to do a “Spring Cleaning” for $250-300. This will be money highly multiplied in its return when you sell.

Keep in mind that you are marketing your home to your buyers not to yourself. If necessary, have a good friend that you trust to be honest help you evaluate what you should consider doing before selling and then do what you can afford prioritizing the items by what will maximize your profit. Then fix and sell!!


Contingencies….Pro or Con?

What is a contingency? Basically, what you’re saying with a contingency is, “As long as you do these things or this happens, I will pay you this much for your home.”

Common contingencies:

Financing:  This offer is contingent on you securing your financing.

Inspection:  This offer is contingent on the home passing an inspection typically covering items such as roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, foundation, walls, appliances and chimney if you have a working fireplace. Some areas also require inspections for termites and radon. If major issues ensue due to the inspection, you may be asked to negotiate on your price or complete the repairs in order for the buyer to proceed.

Appraisal:  This offer is contingent on whether the appraised value is close to, at or above what’s being offered. This is most typical when a mortgage company is part of the process. With cash deals, the buyer may choose to waive an appraisal if they feel confident of their offer and your price.

These are the most common contingencies that you’ll experience as both a buyer and seller. There can be others so if you receive an offer and your potential buyer includes several contingencies or is asking for a lot of concessions on your part, you may want to hire a real estate lawyer to ensure that when you walk away from closing you are doing so with exactly what you expect.

NOTE: As a buyer, if you’re in a bidding war for a home that you absolutely want to call your own, consider shortening your contingency time frame or eliminate them altogether. If you’re buying in a very popular and quick selling area, it will definitely serve you well to secure your mortgage approval prior to making your offer so you can eliminate that contingency which will most likely give you an edge on other buyers who didn’t do so.



Upgrading with Panel Molding and Wainscoting

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Looking for a more elegant finish to your hallway, staircase or formal Living or Dining Rooms? Panel Molding (sometimes called picture frame molding) creates an elegant design. You can go to extremes and find some beautiful options that you will want to have professionally done. Or, you can create a lovely finished look by using Picture Frames with no glass (easily purchased at places like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby). Or you can purchase fancy or plain quarter rounds, miter the edges (Home Depot or other big box stores will miter them for you) and then simply install them on your wall above and below a chair rail (also easy to install). Or perhaps put only below the chair rail and enhance the wall above with an elegant textured finish (ie: Venetian plaster) or wallpaper.

Wainscoting can be effectively used under a chair rail to enhance your decor while maintaining a more casual or country feel. Great places for wainscoting are: Breakfast Nooks, Enhance your Kitchen Island, Dining Rooms, Bathrooms, Hallways, Dens and even the ceiling of your porch. This can be purchased in sheets making installation very doable for even a novice decorator. Image result for Wainscoting Beadboard CeilingImage result for Wainscoting Kitchen Ideas

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Let Your Buyers Walk In w/A Great Feeling!

Buying a Home can be a daunting experience. “Did we make the right choice?” “Will our family be happy here?” “What if something goes wrong with something?” You can help your buyers feel confident that buying your home was their best decision by leaving a few simple things to greet them when they arrive.

  • A file folder containing all the warranty information for appliances, furnace, water heater, washer & dryer, etc.
  • A file folder containing all the instruction manual for those same items noted above.
  • Free standing shelves in your storage area that you don’t need for your new home but that can help them in their transition.
  • A detailed list of and directions to: Grocery stores, Specialty Shops, Hospitals, Medical Centers, Animal Hospitals, Restaurants and Special Activities and events available in your area.
  • Now this might sound over the top BUT it is a wonderful gesture that will give your buyers a great and comfortable feeling. Write them a personalized note about all the great times you’ve enjoyed in your home and that you hope they will carry on with their family. Wish them wonderful times and great memory making moments. If they’re moving in on closing day, leave a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine with your note and on the outside envelope put simply “Welcome Home!”

Moving out of your beloved home can be just as emotionally draining as someone else moving in. These simple gestures will make you both feel better about the experience!


After Autumn Comes Winter….Heating Bills!!** Winterize Now!

Yes, it’s only Autumn BUT winter is right around the corner so now is the time to make the necessary updates and repairs to make your home as energy efficient as possible before the winter heating bills add up. This is especially important if you’ve bought an older home because you love the charm and character but aren’t really sure how energy efficient it is or more importantly…isn’t! If you’re a seller putting your older home on the market, being able to show buyers that they won’t have to worry about exorbitant heating (or cooling for that matter) bills because of the updates you’ve made can make the difference between for sale and sold! And remember, just because your home is ‘newer’ does not mean it was built in the most energy efficient way. So whether your home is new or 100 years old, the following tips may benefit you.

  • Areas to check for leaks:  Of course you have the obvious…windows, doors, attic (rafters & windows), basement windows or concrete blocks but there are some spots you might never think of: electrical outlets on exterior walls, dryer vent, plumbing and ductwork at their point of entry, recessed can lights if the ceiling has attic or roof directly above, whole house fan and even your mail chute if it’s in your door or wall. If you’re in a freezing cold climate, make sure you cover and insulate your exterior water spigots to avoid pipes breaking inside your home. (I speak from experience, this is not a pleasant experience but an easy one to avoid!)
  • No sure if you have a leak? On a windy day, hold a match to the area (with necessary precautions) you’re checking and see if it stays lit or blows out. If it blows out, you have a leak.
  • Once you’ve determined where your leaks are located, simply choose the best method to resolve it: A great product that is easy to use and very effective is Flex Shot. (Again personal experience…I live in one of those 100 year old homes!) It is less messy than caulk, works as well as weather stripping and creates an immediate seal. There are inexpensive foam inserts that fit inside the outlets on your exterior walls that works like insulation to keep out the air.
  • Insulate your attic and basement exterior walls. You can also check and see if there is a shutter seal available for your type of whole house fan.
  • If you can’t afford to replace old windows or you love the charm of the original wavy glass so prevalent in century old homes, again, grab some Flex Shot in either white or clear, whichever will match your trim the best, and seal around the outer edges of the trim and the interior edges around the glass.

If you take the time to do even a fraction of the tips above, you will see your heating bills in the winter and your cooling bills in the summer rival newer homes that don’t have anywhere close to the character of your own!!


Apply CPR to Your Marketing Plan

Just like a heart that has stopped beating, sometimes you have to jump start…electrify your marketing to bring your listing back to life.  CPR has 3 components: Airway…Breathing…Circulation. Let’s use that same concept to revive your home marketing.

Airway: After your home  has been on the market for awhile, you can feel the air of excitement become blocked by time…other homes that have come on the market at a lower price… your unwillingness to lower your price or accept that the market will not accept your valuation…reduction of showings…and just an overall blockage of results.

Breathing: Breathe new life into your listing by: lowering your price…increasing your marketing… holding a “Fresh to the Market Open House”…being completely available for showings and willing to at least listen to all offers…open to agents showing your home and offer a strong buyer’s agent commission (if you haven’t already done so).

Circulation: Circulate the news that your home price has been lowered, that you’re willing to negotiate, that you are having an amazing Open House (review some great ideas in previous blog posts, etc. Do this via social media such as Facebook and Twitter asking your friends to please share…via flyers on local community boards, in coffee shops and mailed to HR departments of police and fire departments, universities & hospitals…these all bring in new employees all the time who will be looking for housing…bring attention to your sign when other open houses are happening in your neighborhood by adding balloons and attaching flyers.

It’s very easy to become discouraged even fearful when your home is not selling as you’d hoped it would. Take a deep breath, determine a new strategy and perform CPR on your home’s marketing campaign. Then proceed with confidence into your desired future!



Moving and all that entails: choosing a mover, getting quotes, insurance, packing, over-packing, etc. can create a stress level that is anything but fun and exciting.  In our heads we create this fabulous experience yet without some solid planning and due diligence, the result will most likely be “I will never move again!!” Let’s look at a few things you can do to help create the fun move fantasy that lives in your head.

1. Choose your mover wisely.

Yes, there are moving scams so beware and be diligent. Again, remember the cheapest price is rarely the “Best” deal! Moving can be very costly so take the time to do your homework and review both details listed on websites AND random reviews. Check out the name of the company you’re considering on Not only can you see negative reviews & complaints, but how well the company handled the complaints thru the Better Business Bureau. You can also research your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation to see if your company has been flagged for complaints and misdeeds. Any of your friends, family or co-workers moved recently? Find out who they used and what kind of experience they had.  If they rave, take note and get a quote. If they say, it was ‘ok’ or less than satisfactory, you’ll know what companies to cross off your list hence not wasting your time.

2. Comparison shop and review quotes carefully checking out every ounce of small print or exceptions.

When hiring a moving company, one of the first indicators of their price to value is their willingness to come out to your home and provide you with a professional detailed estimate and not quote you over the phone based on your inexperienced information. Unless you have done this several times before or are in the industry, there are many factors that you just won’t be cognizant of so educate yourself by choosing a company that will walk you fully through the process, pricing and incidental factors that can arise and increase your bottom line dramatically. If they won’t come, tell them no thanks!  Just like any major purchase, it’s best to get multiple quotes and compare not just their price, but how they treated you, advised you and were willing to take time to answer all your questions. An attention to detail at this starting point will usually reflect an attention to detail throughout the process. As nice as the company rep or owner might be and all the extras they say “they’ll throw in”, say thank you and then GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING!! Note: If this is a short  move, you might want to compare the costs and headaches of hiring professional movers with doing the job yourself with the help of some wonderful friends and family. Always good to do those old fashioned pros and cons list to determine if this is a feasible option.

3. Schedule your move as early as possible.

Getting quotes and choose a moving company can take time when you do it right, so make sure and leave yourself enough time and do it far enough ahead of when you will be moving so that you don’t get stuck having to use an inferior company simply because they’re the only ones available. Companies with great reputations and minimal complaints will book up quickly so get them out, choose the one you want to use and get on their schedule. Even if it’s months ahead of your actual move, when push comes to shove, this is one thing you won’t have to worry about.

4. Pack with ease and cost in mind.

Do you really need to move baby clothes that your children have outgrown or your grown children don’t want for their children. I get the sentiment…right there with you and this is a tough one but remember each box added to the moving truck adds considerable cost to your bottom line. That goes for nik naks, boxed up ‘treasures’ that you haven’t looked at since you moved them from your last home to this home, books you never plan to read again (this one can really pay off because books make for very heavy boxes), clothes you haven’t worn in over a year, pans you never cook with, etc etc etc.  This is a great time to purge and start fresh in your new home. Go through your bins, boxes, closets and shelves and make piles: Toss….Give away to a friend or family member who will appreciate what you’re sharing with them….Give to charity…..Sell at a garage sale. Sometimes it is very hard to let go but if you’re going to have to pay for a storage place at your new home to accommodate all your ‘extra stuff’, or load up your basement or garage the day you move in, think of the word “Edit” and begin the journey to a less cluttered, less cumbersome and more free lifestyle in your new home!

5. Start packing from the moment you decide to move!

Packing is fun for around the first few hours. After that, well, let’s just say your mood will be less than happy and excited! You can reduce the stress of packing by starting immediately and doing it in small increments of time instead of all at once. Go room by room with a clipboard and make a list of items that can be packed ahead of time and stacked and ready to go…ie: off season clothing, linens, blankets, holiday decor, etc. Remember the most important step, LABEL ALL YOUR BOXES AND BINS not  only with what room they go in but a breakdown of what’s in there. This will be very helpful at the other end so you know which boxes or bins to open first or set aside for later. This will allow you to settle in gracefully instead of pulling out your hair trying to find your utensils or mugs and coffee maker which you want right away.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!!!

We all have those friends and family that will be more than willing to assist us when we need help. It will be much kinder and easier to get them to help if you are doing your packing in spurts. A couple of hours on a Saturday, Sunday or evening here and there is much more palatable than asking someone to give up their entire weekend because you dropped the ball  with planning.

REMEMBER THE ADAGE, IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN YOU PLAN TO FAIL.  This is so true when it comes to something as huge and significant as moving.


HOA Pros and Cons

Homeowner’s Associations have grown in number especially with homes built within the last 10 years. Some think that’s great and others have discovered the downfalls of living under the thumb of their HOA. So let’s address the possible pros and cons. Then decide whether you want to live with the extra cost and rules.

Pro: Because of the rules established by your Homeowner’s Association, you can be pretty assured that your neighborhood will be well maintained. Some typical items under the HOA’s control are: Keeping your lawn manicured; Garbage cans must be put out after a certain time and brought back in within x number of hours after pickup; Restrictions on street parking or leaving boats/trucks in the driveway; Limitations on exterior home paint colors creating a uniformity within the neighborhood.

Pro: Many of your upkeep costs are shared by all members of the HOA ie: Common lawn areas and entries of the subdivision; Community snow removal which can definitely be a plus after big snowfalls guaranteeing that your streets will be plowed and you can get out and to work or the kids to school; Upkeep of community amenities like pools, fitness center, clubhouse party rooms, social areas, trails, boat docks, playgrounds, parks, etc; Newsletter distribution with updates, announcements and community events; some even offer 24 hour emergency maintenance!

Pro: Community Amenities might be included in your fee providing activities for your family that you might otherwise have to pay seasonal fees or costs to take advantage of ie: Pool, Clubhouse, Fitness Center, Social Activities like game nights, cards, billiards, tennis courts, etc.; Parks, Trails, Kid’s pools and playgrounds; Manned and unmanned gated entry to the subdivision and in some cases Security Patrol as well.

Pro: By participating in the HOA ( by joining the board or participating in community sponsored events) you have the opportunity to meet and get to know more of your neighbors, which can be a real plus if you’re new to the area.

Pro:  In the event you and your neighbor find yourself disagreeing about something that pertains to your properties, you can ask your association to mediate by filing a grievance with your HOA Board or your Management company.

Con: HOA Dues. When determining how much home you can afford, you will need to definitely factor in your monthly dues + any reserve funds required in the event there are major repairs necessary in the neighborhood. You DO NOT want to get behind on your HOA fees as they have the ability to put a lien on your home and even foreclose in spite of the fact that your mortgage is current.

Con: If you purchase a home and then decide you want to expand on it say with a screened patio, or a deck or even in some cases planting flowers, you may have to get permission from your board to do so and they very often say no so even though you own your home, you don’t own what you do with it.

Con:  If your HOA is poorly managed and gets into financial problems, it could bring down the values of all the properties in the subdivision and even affect your ability to get a loan on your home if you’re trying to refinance your mortgage or take out an equity loan.

Con:  You have to follow the rules even if you don’t agree with them. You can petition to try and get the rule changed but will have to live with the result even if it’s not in your favor.

The point is, HOAs can be very very good BUT they can also be very very bad. Before you purchase a home, condo, townhome that lives within an HOA, take the time (and it will take time) to read the entire bylaws. It will be time well spent so you can make an educated decision on your true dream home!


Happy Independence Day!

Let today be the day you use to help you declare your independence from renting by helping you find your dream home! As a seller, let us help Set You Free from your current home so you can move on to your new adventure!! Happy Independence Day!

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