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Selling and Buying amidst the Covid-19 Crisis

At this crazy time when the Covid-19 Virus has interfered with our daily lives, here are a few tips if you are currently selling or buying a home about how to remain safe and still accomplish your goal.

Seller:  It would be best to cancel any Open Houses you have scheduled but that does not mean you can’t continue to offer showings of your home on a person to person basis if you use some pro-active precautions to make you and your guest safe. Wiping down all your surfaces before and after any showings. The CDC has offered the following list of things to sanitize. It’s a great list as it forces you to think about items you might not even consider since your daily life tends to be repetitive and not abnormal. Perhaps, if you haven’t already done so, create a video walk through that you can share with prospective buyers who are too skittish to walk through your home in person.

  • Light switches
  • Doorknobs (on the inside and outside and also the locks on the doors)
  • House keys and car keys
  • Cellphone and landline
  • Earbuds, headphones, and AirPods
  • Refrigerator handle
  • Oven knobs
  • Small kitchen appliances
  • Drawer pulls
  • Sink knobs
  • Bathtub knobs
  • Toilet flusher
  • Toothbrush
  • Hairbrush
  • Makeup and brushes
  • Any bottles of hair care or skin care
  • Desk
  • Computer screen
  • Computer mouse or laptop touchpad
  • Computer keyboard
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • TV remote
  • Car door handles
  • Steering wheel of your car
  • Dashboard of your car (including the radio and air vents)
  • Gear shift of your car
  • Rearview mirror of your car

Buyers: Make sure and have all pre-qualification documents on hand to share with prospective sellers. Do not just puruse homes if you aren’t serious enough to get pre-qualifed before shopping. Wear protective gloves and shoe covers during home viewings and try to avoid touching household items and surfaces while you walk through the home. Ask the seller of the home you’re interested in seeing  if they have or can provide a video walk through of their home.

If you are a serious seller or buyer, you can continue to market or search for your home. Be smart and conscientious. And be flexible to new government guidelines and requirements. Lower interest rates are creating a strong opportunity for sellers and buyers. And remember, like every other crisis, this too will pass.

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Pre-Spring Prep Provides Perfect Spring Curb Appeal!

In springtime, while it’s easy to excuse yourself from yard work because of constant rainfalls or annoying allergies, you really should prepare your yard for the season, and for the one to follow, summer. If you wait too long, it could take longer for your grass to appear lush and weed-free, for your gardens to redevelop and for your fruit trees to produce.

And this is never more true than when you’re trying to sell. Now is the time to make your home—and its surroundings—look its best.

Here are steps to keep in mind:

  • Remove anything in your yard that doesn’t belong. That means raking dead, crumbled leaves that reappeared from under melted snow, picking up twigs and branches that snapped off of nearby trees, and disposing of any litter that blew into your yard from unknown sources.
  • De-thatch your lawn by using a rake to get rid of the layer of dead grass that has taken residency over your lawn. This is vital for your grass to receive the natural nutrients needed to grow. Also, if you use fertilizer or weed killer, it will not reach the lawn unless you remove this layer of thatch.
  • Lay a slow-release fertilizer on your lawn. This type of fertilizer will slowly release nutrients in your yard that will not cause the grass to grow before it’s ready. This way, even if Mother Nature decides to cover us with an April snowfall, your lawn will still be slowly working its way toward a green June.
  • Dig your lawn mower out of the shed or the corner of the garage and test it. Check for wear on the spark plugs, sharpen the blade, change the oil if needed, clean out old grass clippings and fill up the gas. If the mower is in need of repair, you have plenty of time to fix it. If not, it’ll be all ready for the first cut.
  • Scale back trees and bushes by trimming back limbs that are damaged or have grown beyond the rest. This will make room for the tree to grow faster and healthier. Keep branches out of your walkway and patio/porch area. Evenly trim bushes to look neatly manicured.
  • Now is the time to plant new foliage in the yard. Spring rain creates soft soil that makes digging as simple as ever. Plant new rose bushes, berry bushes or fruit trees now so that they have time to begin their spring growth.
  • While you should wait to plant and decorate with new perennials, you should pick them out now. Research the types of perennials available, find out which will grow in the sunlight and type of soil available in your yard, and plan your layout

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A GREEN ROOF? REALLY?! REALLY!!

There are so many ways to make your home greener these days. You can install eco-friendly flooring, counters and appliances. You can repurpose old furniture instead of throwing it out to take up more space in a landfill. You can plant a garden that boasts water conservation.

Now even your roof can be green, both literally and figuratively. Green roofs, also known as “vegetated roof covers” and “living roofs,” are literally roofs made of thin layers of plants installed on top of conventional roofs and not just for those high rise flat rooftops.Image result for image of a "green"  roof

There are two types of green roofs, an extensive green roof and an intensive green roof.

Extensive green roofs are the thinner with only two to six inches of a growing medium, less expensive and lighter. They are low maintenance and are generally covered with low growing, horizontally spreading root plants with maximum heights of 16 to 24 inches.

Intensive green roofs look more like a lush natural roof garden with two to four feet of soil. They use a variety of plants and the maintenance is more involved. They are the more colorful and visually stimulating of the two types of green roofing. They can even incorporate features such as fountains.

Each roof contains a waterproofing layer, a drainage layer, a growing medium (like soil, peat and soil) and vegetation of some sort. The plants chosen for the green roof should be tolerant of extreme weather conditions and resistant to bugs and diseases. Succulents, mosses and grasses are typically the best choices and come in a variety of colors.

As with all home improvement projects, there are considerations you’ll need to make before you install a green roof. You need to consider the climate you live in and well as the rainfall patterns of your area. You need to find out the strength and support of your current roof to make sure it can hold up the addition of a green roof. If it’s not structurally sound enough, you’ll have to reinforce it. The size and slope of your roof needs to be considered. Flat roofs are probably best, but green roofs can be installed on sloping roofs too.

What are your personal aesthetic preferences? These will play a part in the design of your green roof, and so will the architectural style of your home. Budget is another consideration to be made, and it’s an important one. Like all projects, research first, then decide on a budget before you get started with any physical work.

This is not a DIY project or one that just any roofer can complete. DO YOUR RESEARCH to find companies that have a history of success installing green roofs. Something as important is this out of the ordinary product requires a contractor who knows all the ins and outs of such a project.

Not only do green roofs add visual interest to your home, but they can help reduce those pesky heating and cooling bills that show up like clockwork every month. In the summer, the green roof stays cooler than a traditional roof so less energy is used on air-conditioning. Similarly, in the winter the insulation of the green roof can help cut down those heating costs! Green roofs can also help improve water quality, extend the life of your traditional roof, help get more oxygen into the air!

Green roofs are stylish and unique while simultaneously helping the environment. What could be better?

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Highlight and Enhance!

It’s great to set up your home’s areas with dynamic focal points but there are definite ways to do it right and for sure how to do it wrong and lose the value of what you’re trying to do. Here are a few tips on using your eyes as your gauge for

It’s great to set up your home’s areas with dynamic focal points but there are definite ways to do it right and absolutely ways to do it wrong thus losing the value of what you’re trying to do. Here are a few tips on using your eyes as your gauge for creating impressive spaces.

1  Hang Artwork at Eye Level

If your ceiling is high, you might be tempted to hang paintings high up. Art galleries hang IMG_4253their artwork at eye level, and that’s what you should do, too.  The average human eye level is about 57 inches. So your paintings should be 57-60 inches above the floor.  If you are hanging multiple pieces, keep the center of the arrangement at eye level. If you are hanging the artwork above a piece of furniture, leave 5-9 inches between the artwork and furniture.

2  Hang  Mirrors

Many people underestimate the value of mirrors. Mirrors reflect light and make the room brighter. Some designers recommend hanging at least one mirror in each room. When you vvvhang your mirrors, think of what they’ll reflect. You want it to reflect a great scene. That could be a chandelier or your room’s focal point.  Hang the mirrors on walls perpendicular to the windows and not across them. You don’t want to reflect the light back outside.

3  Follow The Rule of Thirds

cactus-cactus-plant-contemporary-1005058The rule of thirds is a familiar concept in photography. When grouping showpieces, antiques, candles, or other objects, create harmony by arranging them in odd numbers. Objects that are arranged in odd numbers are more memorable and appealing. For an even better look, group objects that have different heights or shapes yet still have a similar property.

4  Find The Room’s Focal Point

The focal point is where everyone’s eyes fall as soon as they walk into the room. Some focal points are built-in, like a fireplace or a large window. If a room doesn’t have one, you can create your own.  You can get a large piece of furniture and make fthat your focal point. Or you could paint one wall a different color and decorate it with artwork and shelves.  Everything else in the room should complement the focal point and be secondary to it. Having too many attention-grabbing items in the room can create unwanted visual noise.

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INSPECTIONS – Private v Municipal

A municipal/city inspection may be required by the city or municipality of the home you’re selling/buying, where as a private home inspection is optional and it is up to the buyer and/or often their upcoming mortgage company whether they want or need to have one done.

The seller typically pays for a city or municipal inspection. A private home inspection is usually the buyer’s expense.

Both inspections may cover items like CO-2 detectors and smoke alarms but may differ greatly in other ways. The municipal inspector may check on permits history, zoning and possible parking issues, but typically do not include an inspection of the roof, electrical panels, plumbing systems, furnaces, water heaters, structural issues, termites etc. A private home inspection will typically cover all those items and more.

Both types of inspections benefit the buyer. It’s wise for a buyer to have a regular home inspection regardless of whether the city or municipality requires one of their own. Overall, the private home inspection will generally cover more items, be more through and is generally considered the most important.

Note: If you’re selling your home As Is, you are declaring you have no intention of making any repairs or further updates to your home. That does not mean however, that if you’re a buyer you shouldn’t be diligent and have an inspection done before you find yourself with a nightmare home of repairs vs your dream home of happy ever after!

NOTE: The state of WI has recently made it illegal for cities/municipalities to require a city inspection prior to selling your home.

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Oh the Drama & Warmth a Ceiling Can Bring!!

Something that is a part of every home from the tiniest to those found in mega-mansions are ceilings. If you want to change, enhance or upgrade your home, one way to do it is by adding dimension, depth, lighting and/or wood to your ceilings.Image result for free images of residential ceilings

You can take an ordinary room and turn it into a showpiece that people will be inspired by and talk about when they leave.  Depending on the style of your home, you might choose wood to add a rustic ambiance.

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Want something more elegant? Try coffered ceilings. Enhance them and your room even more by adding recessed lighting within the wood panels.Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Custom lighting can add drama and an eclectic look to any room.

Image result for free images of residential ceilings

Kitchen ceilings made out of tin or with defined insets with lighting can create that dream gathering place where your guests will feel like they’ve stepped into a French villa or the pages of Architectural Digest.

Image result for free images of residential ceilingsSee the source image

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Time to Build Your Dream Home?!

Have you been wondering if you should build your dream home? Based on new stats, the answer to that question may be a huge YES! Of course, you can’t make the total decision based on market but if you have your credit in order and the funds to make it happen, you might want to explore all your options. Mortgage rates are at an all time low so that may also help you in your decision making process. Remember, waiting and waiting for the exact right time may cause you to miss out on the exact right time!    
CNBC:

  • U.S. homebuilding surged to a 13-year high in December as activity increased across the board.
  • The data suggested the housing market recovery was back on track amid low mortgage rates, and could help support the longest economic expansion on record.
  • Housing starts jumped 16.9% to an annual rate of 1.608 million units last month, the highest level since 2006.

REUTERS:

WASHINGTON  – U.S. homebuilding surged to a 13-year high in December as activity increased across the board, suggesting the housing market recovery was back on track amid low mortgage rates, and could help support the longest economic expansion on record. 

Housing starts jumped 16.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.608 million units last month, the highest level since December 2006. The percentage gain was the largest since October 2016. Groundbreaking activity last month was likely flattered by unseasonably mild weather and probably overstates the health of the housing market.

Data for November was revised higher to show homebuilding rising to a pace of 1.375 million units, instead of advancing to a rate of 1.365 million units as previously reported.

MONEYWISE:

 

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Set Your NEW YEAR Up For SUCCESS!

Image result for free images of new years resolutions

It’s that time of year when everything we see and hear is telling us that we should be setting New Year’s Resolutions and begin the new year with a revived energy for making the changes in our lives that we want and perhaps need to pursue. Perhaps the last year was filled with challenges, disappointments and a sense of failure. On the other hand, perhaps it was filled with successes and more happy moments than disappointing ones. Perhaps you experienced life changes:  New Job/Job Loss…New Marriage-Relationship/ Breakup/Divorce, Expanded Family/Loss of Loved Ones. The list can go on and on.

Making New Years Resolutions to change the things you disliked about the last year or to expand on the good things can be good and bad. Setting unrealistic expectations can set you up for another year of failure/loss/disappointment. The key to setting goals is to make them a challenge to reach vs setting them so high they’re unattainable and thus set you back emotionally and possibly physically. Ex: To go from no exercise to bench pressing 300 lbs in 6 weeks is both unrealistic and dangerous…physically and emotionally. Expecting to go from an entry level position to top management within a year, again, can defeat you emotionally which will also affect you physically. Determine to sell your home Secret to Sellingfor top dollar in under a month can be possible in some markets but without the proper research, homework and exposure….this can set you back emotionally and financially.

New Years Resolutions need to stretch you to grow without destroying you due to unrealistic expectations. Determine the most important goals you have for the new year and focus on a few instead of creating a list of multiple resolutions causing you to not Image result for free images of new years resolutionsaccomplish any due to overload. Set one or two realistic goals and then once you’ve achieved that goal…determine the next and then the next and so on. Want to pay down your debt so you can buy your dream home. Create a realistic budget and payoff plan and then work at it daily.

The most important factor leading to your success or failure is to take time at the end of each day to celebrate the successes and fix what didn’t work. Then plan for tomorrow. A key to success in goal setting is to never start your day until it’s finished. In other words, at the end of the day after celebrate/fix set up your goals and plans to accomplish tomorrow. This way you don’t waste time at the beginning of the day saying, “should I do this or should I do that?” You’ll already know exactly what you need to do and have a plan for success. Work through that day and then repeat the process.

 

Experiencing little success and celebrations along the way give us the energy to keep on keeping on to a Happy, Healthy, Successful New Year!

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Bring the Beauty of Winter Inside for the Holidays!

There’s nothing quite like an evergreen blanketed in fresh, sparkling snow or ruby-red berries produced from a bare branch. This holiday season, show your appreciation of outdoor beauty by re-creating it indoors! Acknowledging nature inside your walls is a fashionable trend this year. Buy dry or fake outdoor accents from a store or scavenge for the real items outside! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Accent an elegant chandelier or noticeable light fixture with a strand of leaves or berries. If you want it homemade, all you need is thread and a pile of leaves or berries!
  • Create a table centerpiece with a bowl of outdoor décor. Fill a wicker basket or a glass bowl with pine cones, nuts, acorns, berries, pine needles and feathers!
  • Mold a wreath together using anything you want! Use rosemary to create a scented wreath, or string crabapple berries and leaves together for a colorful selection!
  • Collect a handful of evergreens into a vase or a bowl and place it on any table, mantel or shelf. Evergreens exhibit a vibrant color and are best used in subtle, neutral-colored rooms.
  • Incorporate magnolia leaves into golden fixtures or wall hangings. Magnolias have a long life span and accentuate subtle colors well.
  • Spread a thick layer of cotton over a windowsill or a mantel, or place it underneath a holiday decoration. Sprinkle glitter atop the cotton and it will appear as sparkly and fresh as the snow outside!
  • Fill a vase or a glass halfway with sugar or salt and place a pine cone or pine needles inside. This will confine the snowy scene outdoors into a tiny object inside!
  • Weave ivy through a wicker basket, through the ribbon on a wrapped present or through holiday decorations. Ivy can add natural appeal to an object that already exists.
  • Decorate any corner of any room with flowers that are remarkably in blossom during these winter months! Fill a basket or colored vase with hydrangea blossoms, white roses, topiaries or narcissus plants for a vibrant contrast in colors!
  • Light candles and surround them with greenery or glittery “snow” cotton. The peaceful candlelight will illuminate these natural wonders.
  • Hang greenery around windows and hang mistletoe from doorways. We all know what mistletoe leads to!
  • Instead of spending money on new ornaments, boost your tree’s appeal by hanging pine cones or pomegranates from the branches!

By decorating the indoors with outdoor attractions, you can still enjoy the beauty of nature while relaxing in your warm, cozy home. Use your imagination to recreate a wild, winter wonderland for a festive atmosphere!

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Is A Home Warranty Plan A Good Option for You?

There are few things as a homeowner more frustrating than discovering, too late usually, that something in your home that you thought was covered by your homeowner’s insurance, well, is not. Home Warranty Plans provide coverage for the things in your home that you can’t get covered through homeowners insurance ie:  major home systems breakdowns  or breakdowns of major appliances. You might be surprised how many “breakable” components live within your home systems and appliances, until something goes wrong of course! With a home warranty plan you can lower your stress with regard to how you’ll pay for something if it breaks down. Below are what have been ranked on multiple online sites and in reviews as the top 5 reliable home warranty companies with the best offerings and customer service. That said, it is important to do your own research based on some of the following criteria and how it relates to your home and your needs.

CHECKLIST of Items to Research and Compare:

  • Read several reviews both good and bad.
  • Can your plan be transferred to your buyer if you are thinking about or are in the midst of selling your home?
  • Do they offer 24/7 support at no additional cost?
  • Do they offer a 24hr claims line to follow up on progress of your claim?
  • Do they offer free quotes with no strings attached? In other words, if you choose to not purchase a plan, will they then bill you for coming out to give you a quote? Sounds silly but it does happen, so make sure and ask when you call.
  • What is the length of their workmanship guarantee?
  • Can you choose a service provider you already trust or does it have to be someone they provide?
  • Do they offer local service providers from whom you can choose?
  • Do they prescreen the providers they offer to service you?
  • Do they require a home inspection before coverage? Yes, some will cover you without an inspection.
  • Can they cover your roof as well as items inside your home?
  • Will they cover pre-existing issues? Most will not so you may have to research several companies to find one that will.
  • Do they offer an emergency alert network?
  • What is the extent of the coverage? Again, delve into details before purchasing a plan.
  • Will they replace items if they are not able to be repaired? If your home is more than 5 years old, this could be one of the most important features of your plan.

Highly Ranked Home Warranty Companies: (Received 4.5 to 5 Stars)

*American Home Shield      866-282-4071       ahs.com

*Select Home Warranty       888-388-7156       selecthomewarranty.com

*America’s 1st Choice Home Club     844-209-7912     afchomeclub.com

*First American Home Warranty      855-292-5824    fahw.com

*The Home Service Club       800-728-9003      hscwarranty.com