Blog Archive for September, 2014

Tips to Sell Faster

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 25, 2014


When you’re selling your home in a challenging housing market, you can’t overlook any opportunity to boosting its appeal. There are obvious upgrades you need to be concerned with—like replacing an obviously worn-out roof, painting tired walls, and updating appliances—but what efforts are going to give you the best return on the investment of time and money?

Here are some quick tips to add value and help you sell your home faster.

  1. De-clutter. Yes, it seems obvious that your home should be presentable, but you may not even realize what “presentable” means to a real estate sale. Before you welcome potential buyers into your home, get rid of as much clutter as possible. The fewer personal items—from toys to photos to dust collecting décor—the easier a browser can see themselves at home here. Pack up belongings, including extra furniture—like occasional tables and oversized chairs that can shrink a room—that aren’t essential to your daily life and store them in your attic, basement, or nearby storage unit. This step will also save you time when you’re packing to move.
  2. Clean. The cleanliness of your home is a reflection of the care you’ve taken to maintain it. Dirty windows, dusty ceiling fans, smudges on doors and light switches, and spots on the floors reflect the quality of your regular maintenance. If you can’t take care of the small things, you cause doubt about how you handle the bigger issues. Hire a good cleaning service that will come in with a full crew and do everything from ceilings and vents to nooks and crannies. Power wash your home’s exteriors, patio, and driveway. Once all this is done, it’s easier to maintain your clean house.
  3. Spruce up your curb appeal. The exterior of your home is the first impression that buyers get. Make it positive. Drive around and look for homes that have an attractive exterior. Make notes on what you like. It could be painting the exterior, removing dead shrubs, repaving the walkway or driveway, cleaning up the porch, or replacing the mailbox.
  4. Neutralize the colors. You might like your bold color choices, but some buyers are turned off by the idea that they may have to immediately change your daughter’s hot pink bedroom, the very bold stripes in your powder room, or the sunny yellow kitchen that you thought was such a happy color. You can improve the appeal by changing your unique color choices to something lighter and neutral.
  5. Purge the pet odors. Anyone who has owned a dog or cat knows that there is a smell that goes with sharing your home with pets. Although our noses become accustomed to those smells, they’re obvious to guests. Steam-clean your rugs and carpets, have upholstery cleaned if your animals like to perch there, and be sure litterboxes are kept clean, and hidden when browsers come to look. Your goal should be for any visitor to be completely unaware that a pet lives in the house.
  6. Clean your closets. When you’re de-cluttering your house, the first inclination is to tuck things away in your closet. But your browsers will be opening every door. Remove everything from your closets. Dispose of what you can and keep the contents simple, which makes your closets seem more spacious than if they’re overflowing. Aim for having 20 to 30 percent of open space in each closet.
  7. Price it right. The price of your house when it goes on the market is essential. If it’s priced too high and sits there, unsold, you lose the impact that a home has in the first 30 days it’s on the market. A good real estate agent has a keen eye for pricing a home. If you think an agent is setting the price too low, talk to others. And look at the agent’s track record of selling homes quickly.
  8. List it everywhere. Most buyers today begin their home search online, with sites likes Zillow, Trulia, and Make sure your home is included.
  9. Make it picture perfect. Photos can make the difference between a prospect choosing to personally tour your home to passing it right by. You can provide your own photos, ask your real estate agent to take them, or hire someone with experience. Just be sure that each image makes your home look inviting, uncluttered, bright, and spacious.
  10. Play up the neighborhood. Location is key to making the sale, so in addition to putting your home in the best light, include some details on the neighborhood. Mention the friendliness of the neighborhood, access to useful services and quality schools, and special attractions that add appeal to your home.

Find the right neighborhood for your family

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 18, 2014

Tuskes HomesYour home is your castle—or should be—but that doesn’t mean you have a moat to separate you from the others in your neighborhood. Unless you’re seeking total isolation, you need to choose the location along with the home.

Location, location, location! The endless battle cry of any real estate agent. So what do you look for? What do you need to know in order to find the right neighborhood for your family?

Before you even start looking, have an idea of what suits your needs for a community. Be clear on your priorities so you aren’t distracted by a dream home in the wrong neighborhood.

Schools and kid-friendly places. Do you have children? You’ll need to consider the schools, child care, recreation areas, and kid-friendly choices in the area. In addition to the quality of the education system, what kind of transportation is provided between the schools and the neighborhood you’re considering? You can find school reviews at

Healthcare. How close will you be to a good hospital? What about walk-in clinics and other healthcare resources? Check out to see reviews of practitioners in the area.

Commute. How long is it going to take to get to and from work? Are there alternate routes that might give you relief during congested times? Drive through the area at different times to see how time and traffic varies. You might find out that your street is a popular shortcut during rush hour, which is not appealing for a family home.

Area development. What’s in the works for this neighborhood, such as new buildings, facilities roads? Is a new school planned across town? Is the local mall going to be turned into a sports center? Take the time to learn what your neighborhood and surrounding areas will look like in a few years.

Safety. If you’re new to the area, you might be unfamiliar with crime rates in the area. Sites like and will clue you into what’s lurking in the community.

Curb appeal. Drive through the neighborhood and notice the way that other homeowners tend to the exterior of their homes. Are the lawns and gardens well-kept? Are the yards free of extraneous discards? Is the paint peeling? Remember that your home value is impacted by those around you.

Social. If you want a family-friendly neighborhood, drive through and look for signs of families. Are kids playing in their yards and riding bikes? Do you see happy activity, like cookouts or a game of driveway basketball?

Feel. There’s no better way to get a true sense of a community than to walk along the streets. You’ll see details you might otherwise drive right by—from historic architecture to cracks in the sidewalk that need mending. You can discover what truly is within walking distance from your home. You’ll meet people and be able to gauge the friendliness. You can wander in and out of shops, admire the landscaping, and scope out places that just might become a family favorite.

5 ways to cut cord clutter

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 11, 2014

Excessive extension on power outlet

We rely on electricity, which means we have cords. And we love our electronics, which means we also have cables. These long and winding connectors make all this possible in our technology-driven lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean we want to look at or trip over them.

If you’re tired of the unsightly tangle, here are 5 ways to cut cord clutter.

  1. Hide and don’t seek. Get creative with your decorating. Use accents to block out the sight of cords and cables. Hide them behind a row of books on a shelf or place a large planter, basket, or other container on the floor in front of them. Mask hanging cords with an upright item, like a vase.
  2. Creatively cover them. Do a search for “cord covers” and you’ll find all sorts of creative solutions for hiding cords and cables. From up high to down low, you can choose from colorful to classic looks for anything the is climbing the walls, ceilings, or floors, and anywhere in between. You can also craft a sleeve with a piece of fabric that matches or coordinates with your décor. Just fold it lengthwise with the right sides facing one another, and sew the raw edges together, leaving the two ends open. Then insert your cord through the opening.
  3. Go to the source. When deciding where to place anything that needs a cord or cable connection, look for the outlets first. The closer you can get to the source of the electricity, the less cord you’ll have to conceal.
  4. Nip and tuck. If you have long, winding cords and cables getting in the way, fold up the excess and secure it in place with a zip tie, covered wire, or piece of Velcro. You can always pull out more length as needed, but you don’t expose them unnecessarily.
  5. Pull the plug. Manufacturers recognize the value of wireless technology, so they’re creating more items that can operate without a web of cords and cables. Laptops, printers, satellite television, and even lamps can operate wirelessly.

Get your cords and cables under control so you can improve the aesthetics and safety of your home.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 4, 2014

MSModelExteriorThe summer has come to an end. The kids are back in school. You’re beginning to eye those sweaters tucked back in your closet. The transition from summer’s heat to the briskness of autumn also signals the time to do some basic upkeep on your house. From top to bottom, inside and outside, just follow this fall home maintenance checklist to keep your home safe, warm, and comfortable for the chilly months ahead.

Roof, Attic, and Chimney

  • Inspect your roof’s flashing, and also look for cracks, curling, damaged, or missing shingles.
  • Clean your gutters of all the debris that has built up there. If your gutters can’t drain the water flow easily, you might end up with leakage in your basement or damage to the exterior walls (wood rot and pest infestation) and foundation.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before you start using your fireplace for the season, to make sure it can vent properly and that harmful creosote has been removed, a major cause of chimney fires.
  • Check that all vents are clear of insulation, tree branches, or debris. Blocked vents could lead to ice dams on your roof.

Doors and Windows

  • Replace screens with storm windows and doors.
  • Add weather stripping or caulking to eliminate drafts that spike your heating costs.
  • Inspects all doors and windows and make any repairs that could leak your warm outside and let the cold air in.

Heating System

  • Have your furnace or gas heater inspected before the heating season kicks in. Don’t wait until you are relying on this heat source to fend off problems and prevent toxins from escaping into your home.
  • Check your wood stove for cracks or rust in the main compartment and legs, and inspect the stovepipe for any signs of excess wear, like corrosion, holes, or loose joints.
  • Have your electric company do an energy audit to pinpoint where additional insulation might save you money.
  • Drain your water heater to get rid of the sediment that builds up in the holding tank. This simple step can increase the efficiency by 50%!


  • Bring in the garden hoses to avoid having built-up water freeze and crack the pipes.
  • Shut off the water supply valves to the outside faucets to prevent possible interior leaks.
  • Drain the water from your irrigation system and remove any exposed sprinkler heads that could be damaged by snow cover or plows.
  • Before you stash your mower for the winter, add gas stabilizer to protect the engine from gas that deteriorates when the mower isn’t in use.
  • Prune plants and trees, particularly those that are close to the house. The branches should be no closer than three feet to avoid the risk of damage during heavy storms and high winds.

Home Safety

  • Replace the batteries on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Check the indicator gauge on your fire extinguishers (one for each floor) and give every member of the household a refresher on how to use it.
  • Review your emergency escape plans. Install a rope ladder near each upper-floor bedroom. Make sure the emergency exits are clear of furniture, toys, or other items that block a safe escape.

It doesn’t take long to secure your home for the cold months ahead. From comfort to safety, follow this fall home maintenance checklist.

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