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Smart Home Technology

by Scott Zeller
 

138

 

“Smart Home” Technology Is the Future. Here’s Why

 

Why should you consider upgrading to this increasingly prevalent technology? Let’s explore a few reasons.

Today’s smartphones go a tremendously long way in making some of life’s responsibilities easier to manage. Their ability to interact with home automation tools has contributed significantly to the rise of Smart Home technology. By making the move to this increasingly innovative tech, homeowners can reap significant benefits. It’s not unusual to come across listings these days promoting Smart Home as one of the several features of a home or a condominium residence. Why should you consider upgrading to this increasingly prevalent technology? Let’s explore a few reasons.

Control at the Touch of a Button

Smart appliances create an unprecedented level of control that simply makes life easier. Take for example something like an oven. Let’s say you were in the middle of baking a great meal for your family or friends but you forgot an essential ingredient, forcing you to head to the store. Instead of worrying whether or not you turned the oven off and having to waste valuable time by turning back, just turn it off at the touch of a button. The same idea applies for your air conditioning. You may wish to turn it off completely when you’re not home, or perhaps turn down the temperature a couple of degrees when you’re on your way home. That way when you arrive home, your home is nice and cool.

Better Safety and Accessibility

Besides making sure ovens don’t stay on, your security is dramatically improved. Through a smartphone, you can see who is knocking at your door when someone rings the doorbell, you can lock your doors remotely, or even keep track of when certain people in your home come and go such as when children arrive from school or when an elderly relative is picked up. Speaking of the elderly, voice commands make it much easier for them to perform simple tasks such as turning on the lights, reducing the risk of injury while attempting to fumble for the light switch in a dark room.

Better Use of Energy

Modern smart appliances have advanced enough that they use minimal electricity. Today’s cooktop stoves, for example, are intelligent enough to know that heat should only be applied when there is a metal pan placed on top. With this intelligent technology, homeowners can potentially save money on their electric bill.

Money Savings

The US Environmental Protection Agency published a study showing that using smart thermostats resulted in as much as thirty percent in energy savings for homeowners. When evaluated over a long-term period such as five years, that’s quite the chunk of money being saved. It’s also worth noting that if and when it comes time to sell your home, Smart Home technology may significantly improve the resale value of your home and catch the eye of a buyer looking for something that offers modern conveniences.

Transitioning towards a fully Smart Home equipped home may require a significant investment upfront but again, the long-term rewards outweigh the initial costs. Consider how the technology can benefit you and your family.

 

This update is by The Jills team which includes Jill Eber, Jill Hertzberg, Danny Hertzberg, Hillary Hertzberg, and Felise Eber. Call 305-341-7447 for more information about The Jills team, Miami Beach real estate, or the upscale homes of North Bay Road in Miami Beach.

 

Jill Hertzberg has lived in Miami Beach her entire life and is co-founder of The Jills®, Coldwell Banker’s #1 sales team worldwide and #1 team in Florida. An avid golfer, biker and runner, she goes the extra mile for her clients. Together, The Jills have sold over $3.17 billion in real estate since 2005. Jill also supports numerous organizations such as Camillus House, Jackson Memorial Foundation, United Way of Miami-Dade, Diabetes Research Institute, and Seeds of Peace.

 

Fall Home Improvements

by Scott Zeller
 

143

 

4 Early Fall Home Improvement Musts

 

When it’s summertime, homeowners are usually too distracted by the lure of beaches and festivals to focus on home improvement projects. By the time the fall season arrives, there’s usually a long list of things to do.

When it’s summertime, homeowners are usually too distracted by the lure of beaches and festivals to focus on home improvement projects. By the time the fall season arrives, there’s usually a long list of things that you want to do at your home. The pressure to fix up your house can be overwhelming, so start by focusing on these four fall home improvement musts.

Give Your Rooms a Fresh Coat of Paint

Temperatures can reach 90 or 100 degrees in Philadelphia during the summer, so it’s usually too hot to embark on a home painting project. But when the fall season arrives, the weather gets cooler and it’s the perfect time to get some painting done. Pick out the two or three rooms in your home where you spend the most time and add a fresh coat of paint to the walls in new colors. If you have a porch that has become weathered over the summer, give it a new look with a couple of coats of exterior paint.

Home Improvement. Ladder paint can and paint roller near a wall of yellow colour. 3d illustration

New Lighting Fixtures

You probably don’t pay much attention to the condition and appearance of your lighting fixtures until you start to spend more time indoors in the fall and winter. You’ll significantly improve the appearance of your home by simply changing the lighting fixtures in your living room, dining room, and bedrooms. Get slightly brighter bulbs to brighten up your rooms. Also, remember that it starts to get dark earlier in the fall, so make sure that your outdoor lights are fully functional and the bulbs are replaced to last throughout the season.

Lighting Fixtures

Image Source: StockSnap.io

Garage or Basement Cleanup

One smart fall home improvement project to take on is a thorough garage or basement cleanup. Sweep away the grass trimmings, soil, and dirt that you may have tracked in after a long summer of yard work. Take the time to organize your tools and supplies that are in storage in boxes, drawers, and bins. Toss empty bottles and expired products. If the floor has seen better days, apply epoxy-coating — it will give your garage or basement a clean, fresh look. Also, hire someone to do a routine check of your heating system, plumbing, and other units that are located in the garage or basement before the winter.

Garage Tools

Image Source: StockSnap.io

Apply Weather Seal or Replace Old Windows

If you have old windows in your home (a common trait of Philadelphia homes that were built in the 1800s and early 20th century), apply weather seal to them to save on your energy bills. Old wooden windows often leave a crack at the bottom where cold drafts get into your house, so add adhesive weather stripping. Also, gently sand and put a fresh coat of paint on frames that look worn down. This may also be the year that you’ll want to invest in a new set of energy efficient vertical slider windows with vinyl frames to replace your old wooden ones.

Windows

Image Source: StockSnap.io

Get in gear early in the season by taking on these relatively simple but practical fall home improvement projects. They will help you to enjoy your Philly home more this fall and also save some money as you head into the winter season.

Main Image Source: StockSnap.io

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Kitchen Organization

by Scott Zeller
 

387

 

8 Genius Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

 

Clear out the clutter and tidy up your kitchen with tips from our friends at HomeAdvisor

The following is a guest post from Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor

The kitchen is one of the most difficult places in the home to keep clean and organized. Between your dishes, utensils and cooking appliances, you have lots of oddly shaped and bulky items to store. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the stuff in your kitchen, or maybe just need a more efficient way of storing and organizing, consider these genius ways to tidy up your kitchen.

#1 Group Similar Items Together

Grouping items together according to their use is a sensible way to organize your kitchen. Categorizing similar items makes it easier for you and your guests to find things quickly.

#2 Use Baskets to Store Commonly Used Items

Searching for commonly used kitchen items is frustrating. Rather than storing them in random cabinets, use a simple wicker basket to corral and hold popular items. It looks nicer than just stacking utensils on the counter and it’s more organized than stashing them in available cabinets.

#3 Install Slide-Out Pantry Drawers

There’s nothing worse than having to pull everything out of a drawer or cabinet to reach something you’re looking for. Rather than shuffling with all of that mess, install slide-out pantry drawers or cabinets. Now, when you need a spice or are looking for specific dry goods, you can slide the entire cabinet out.

#4 Use Open Shelving

There’s nothing wrong with showing off some of the items you own, like your formal dinnerware or antique teapots. The only challenge you’ll face is keeping it all straight and tidy on your shelves. Installing an open shelving solution will help you organize everyday kitchen items and bring an open, airy energy to your kitchen. As an added benefit, you won’t have to open drawers and doors to find the items you’re looking for.

#5 Explore Alternative Storage

Traditional kitchen storage is great, but sometimes alternatives are just as functional. Consider storing extra kitchen items in wooden crates, baskets and other containers. Do you have a movable kitchen island with space underneath? Use woven baskets to hold your plates and bowls below.

#6 Don’t Waste Space

If you’re struggling to find space to organize all of your cutlery, plates and other utensils, consider high-shelf storage. Remember to only store rarely used items, like your fine china or fondue pot, on high shelves.

#7 Cut Down When Necessary

The kitchen is one of the most popular places in the home to display knick-knacks. If your assortment of collectibles has outgrown your space, the easiest way to organize is to eliminate what you can’t put out on display. This cuts down on clutter and opens up the visuals of your kitchen.

Conclusion

These are just a few simple ways to improve the organization of your kitchen. Now you can enjoy less frustrating meal preparation and less overwhelming visuals.

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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Water Efficient Gardening

by Scott Zeller
 

233

 

Ditch the Sprinkler with These Water-Efficient Landscaping Ideas

 

From efficient plants to water-smart landscaping, your lawn can certainly do its part to improve water efficiency.

Ready for a shock? The average US household guzzles down 320 gallons of water a day—that’s about nine full bath tubs’ worth of liquid! And about 30 percent of that gets dumped out straight on the lawn. Conventional water sprinklers are so inefficient that about half of all the water they use is totally wasted.

No wonder we’re witnessing record-level droughts. Though a lot of the US has recovered from the catastrophic drought conditions we saw a few years ago, globally, we’re not in the clear. According to the NOAA, almost every continent on the US has been impacted by dry conditions this year. Kenya, in particular, is suffering right now from a record-setting drought, which has been devastating to local farmers and wildlife alike. That’s a pretty big issue to be up against, but fortunately, we can all play a small part in conserving water—right in our own backyards. From efficient plants to water-smart landscaping, your lawn can certainly do its part to keep waste at bay. Read on to find out how.

Mulch the Eco-friendly Way

Mulching bed around the house and bushes, wheelbarrel along with a showel.

Many new gardeners assume that mulching is just for appearances—but did you know it does a lot more for your beds than covering up the dirt? Mulch not only roots out troublesome weeds, it conserves moisture in the soil. A layer of it around plants more closely mirrors natural conditions, since forested areas are typically topped with nutrient-rich plant debris. Inside this mixture of twigs, bark, and leaves are beneficial microbes that subsist off the decaying matter. As these organisms break down organic material, transforming it into soil, they give off a sticky, almost glue-like substance that holds the topsoil together so that it has a crumbly texture. Soil with this texture holds in water much more effectively than other consistencies. Mulching with organic materials like leaves or pine needles kicks off this natural process, so that the soil is less likely to dry out—and it also forms a protective layer that keeps water from evaporating as fast.

Forget the Landscaping—Go for Hardscaping

A professional landscaping job with stone path and stone steps.

Turf is overrated, at least where water conservation is concerned. Hardscaping, the collective name for stone features used to landscape a garden or exterior area, gets points for being drought-tolerant—and when used properly, can really add some modern verve to your lawn. A terraced backyard, for instance, uses stone boundary walls to create multiple tiers—which can then be topped by native plants or beds of pebbles.

Other options? If you have a smaller lawn, try extending your paved patio out further from the back door. Leave openings for attractive beds that provide a peak of color, without being too hard on your water profile. Or add a “dry creek bed” finished with appealing native stones and pebbles—as a bonus, permeable paving like this helps collect rainfall and return it to the soil. Curved paths, steps, and stacked retaining walls all offer notes of interest in the hardscaped yard. And the best part? You’ll never forget to water them!

Spruce Up Your Beds with Ornamental Grasses and Succulents

Cortaderia selloana Grass in the Park Citadel in Barcelona, Spain. The Park is also called Ciutadella Park. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia

Most lawns are pretty thirsty—experts recommend giving your grass about one to two inches of water a week, which is about two-thirds of a gallon for every square foot. That means that if you’ve got quite a bit of turf on your hands, your lawn could be practically guzzling water!

The alternatives take a little more planning—and a designer’s eye—but they’re definitely worth it when you weigh your water footprint. In particular, native ornamental grasses make for a pretty stunning display. Try pairing two species at varying heights for a more polished look. These work well along a fence or border wall, or in place of less drought-tolerant shrubs against your house or beside an entryway. You should try to pick varieties that are native to your area. If you need help with that, the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder can help you identify some that will work.

Succulent gardens also make a nice addition to the water-efficient home. There are a number of desert-hailing plants, such as Yucca, Agave, Sempervivum, Delosperma, Opuntia, and Sedum, that can survive extremely low temps. These species require very little water—in fact, if you live in a rainier part of the country, you may want to cover them occasionally to prevent overwatering. Likewise, you may need to mix coarse sand or pumice to give them the consistency they like. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, xeriscaped areas in Las Vegas saved the city 39 percent of its annual summer water consumption, so these kinds of improvements definitely have a lasting effect.

When You Do Water, Do It Wisely

Detail of a working lawn sprinkler head watering colorful flower in the garden.

No matter how hardy the plant, most species need a little supplemental watering every once and awhile, especially during the driest parts of the year. Certain techniques definitely are more water-efficient than others, however. For instance, never water your garden during the hottest part of the day. Not only will the water evaporate more quickly, meaning your plants don’t get the good soak they deserve, if the sunlight is very intense, the reflection from the water droplets could damage the leaves.

Likewise, you can adopt practices that will minimize runoff as well. For instance, a short watering—say one to four minutes—three to four times in a day is much more efficient than a long soak. If you must have the sprinkler, turn it off after a rain or in the winter, when most plants are dormant.  Investigate a water-saving smart irrigation system. Using your input, such as your soil type, area, and sun exposure, these WiFi-connected sprinkler controllers are able to create a customized watering schedule that delivers just the right amount of irrigation— no more, no less. Many can even access weather reports to automatically cancel watering if it’s just rained. And the EPA estimates that products labeled with its WaterSense efficiency rating save an average 9,000 gallons of water per household annually. That’s a lot of water for one little change! With updates like these, the future of our water table is right in your hands.

About the Writer

ErinHS
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

Alexandra is the Manager of Social Media & Content for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in Hoboken, NJ and loves taking advantage of the many local perks (read: dogs EVERYWHERE) and proximity to Manhattan. Her idea of relaxing is perusing the aisles of Sephora and proofreading copy. No, really.

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Hot Trends in Real Estate

by Scott Zeller
 

162

 

Why Sustainable Living is One of the Hottest Trends in Real Estate

 

Learn from Debbie Woerner with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage what to look for in a sustainable home.

Homes that are eco-friendly and energy efficient have become some of the most in-demand properties on the market. Buyers seek energy efficiency while also incorporating products and practices that are both kinder to the environment and healthier for themselves.

In this episode of NBC Open HouseDebbie Woerner with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage explains why sustainable living is one of the hottest trends in real estate.

 

 

To find the right home for you, visit coldwellbanker.com.

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not nurturing a culture of storytelling at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse. A true francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

 

Easy Fixes for Your Home

by Scott Zeller
 

417

 

10 Easy Fixes for That Nearly Perfect House You Want to Buy

 

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision.

houzz logo

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. Although easy is a relative term, accomplishing the 10 fixes that follow is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some big-ticket fixes to watch out for. Happy house hunting!

Coastal Views Custom Home

1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing, repainting or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style, consider refacing.

How to Reface Your Old Kitchen Cabinets

Sonoma new construction

2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to make over your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand beyond your original scope.

Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details.

Stash It All: Know the Three Zones of Kitchen Storage

Fair Haven

3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new — especially something as fresh and fun as the colorful carpet tiles shown here — can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels.

Fair Haven

4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall color with a beautiful hue, like the lovely silvery blue shown here.

12 Tried and True Paint Colors for Your Walls

Knoll House

5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping out dated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants (like the saucer version shown here) to Edison-bulb chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste.

Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple; updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in detail.

Pacific Heights Home

6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your perfect sun room.

Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the house. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work with.

How to Build a Renovation Plan to Match Your Budget

Turn of the Century Craftsman in Los Angeles

7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead.

Cape Cod Coastal

8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave, even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home.

Contemporary Renovation

9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.

What to Know Before Refinishing Your Floors

Modern Prarie

10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more important, how you feel when you come home each day.

Here’s what landscape architects do

Tell us: If you’re house hunting (or soon will be), what one thing makes you head for the hills? Or, for current homeowners, what do you wish you had known before buying your home? Swap your tales in the Comments!

Related Reads

Quick, Easy and Comfy Flooring Solutions for Playrooms
Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Questions to Ask First
Don’t Replace, Refinish Instead

Header Image Credit: Simply Home Decorating, original photo on Houzz

 

Take a vacation at home this weekend.

by Scott Zeller
 

319

 

How to Bring Summery Goodness to Your Bedroom

 

Create a vacation vibe in your at-home sanctuary and you’ll be better able to recharge.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

With warmer evenings and sunlit mornings, summer begs us to take a more relaxed approach to life. That might mean a slower-paced schedule, a breezy wardrobe or a goal of keeping the house tidy. These eight rules can help you savor the season each day from the moment you rise and pull open the shades until you tuck into bed at night.

1. I will preserve time at the beginning and end of the day for quiet reflection.Even if it’s only five minutes spent sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning or herbal tea before bed, having a smidgen of dedicated me-time in the peace and privacy of your bedroom can bookend a frantic day, or bring satisfying closure to a pleasant one. Write in your journal, read an inspiring book, meditate or simply look out the window as you set intentions for the day ahead.

2. I will treat myself to extended weekend mornings in bed. If you’re a parent, finding a way to make this happen may be impossible at times, but the bliss of a morning in bed (read: at least 20 uninterrupted minutes with a fresh pot of coffee and your favorite publications) is worth whatever scheduling acrobatics it takes to arrange.

3. I will keep my wardrobe simple. Living out of a suitcase on vacation can seem carefree because you have fewer choices. Re-create that feeling at home by editing your wardrobe down to your most-loved and worn pieces, and stash away (or consign) the rest. While editing, keep in mind that the smaller the wardrobe, the more important it is that everything goes together. Stick with pieces that mix and match (such as colorful, patterned tops and solid, neutral bottoms) to maximize outfit-making potential.

4. I will decorate with reminders of summer. Surrounding yourself with visual reminders of what you love most about summer will make your bedroom feel more like a getaway. Try nautical maps, postcards from far-flung locales, snapshots taken on your last vacation, a bedspread bought in a seaside town, or shells and sea glass collected on the beach.

Set the Mood: 5 Colors for a Calming Bedroom

5. I will keep things clean and uncluttered. Putting away clothes and shoes each day isn’t a glamorous task, but the five minutes (or less!) of effort is well worth the calm atmosphere you will enjoy coming home to when everything is neatly put away. Need inspiration? Give your bedroom a makeover at the start of summer to motivate yourself to keep the space looking sharp.

How to Get a Half-Painted Wall Right

6. I will help overnight guests feel at home. When friends and family come to stay, a few special details are all it takes to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. Snip flowers from the garden for the bedside table, set out a selection of beach reads and make up the bed with light layers. Don’t have a spare quilt or even a guest bed? A tapestry (the sort pinned to dorm room walls) or even a large sarong can make a summery and budget-friendly bedspread, whether you’re covering a bed or an air mattress.

See the rest of this eclectic home

7. I will say yes to mermaids. Mermaids are equal parts kitschy and mysterious, making them the perfect motif for a summery bedroom. Plus, having something to collect makes shopping at your favorite flea markets and art fairs even more fun. Not into mermaids? Pick your own icon of summer, and start collecting.

 

8. I will let the stars guide me to bed. Can’t get away to that rustic lakeside cabin? Pretend you’re camping at home, and turn down the electric lights in favor of candles and lanterns a few hours before bedtime. You may be surprised at how this one simple change can make your home feel completely transformed, at least for the evening. Indulge in screen-free entertainment like playing cards or board games, and be sure to peek outside at the stars before retiring to your room.

Tell us: What is your favorite summer tradition? Share it with the Houzz community in the Comments!

More
The Rules of Summer: Kitchen Edition
Genius Home Prep: A Guest Room in a Box
Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Dream Bedroom

Related Reads
Keep a Journal and a Book on a New Nightstand
Nautical Themed Quilts for Your Bed
Dreamy Star-Like Lighting for a Cabin Feel

 

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not nurturing a culture of storytelling at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse. A true francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

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Property Condition Disclosure

by Scott Zeller
 

712

 

Disclosaphobia? 5 Tips for Completing a Seller’s Disclosure

 

The seller’s disclosure is one of the most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. Here are important things to keep in mind as you complete this form.

Guest post by Cara Ameer

The dreaded seller’s disclosure – it’s that pesky document that asks you umpteen questions. How many ceiling fans are in the property, what’s the make and model of each appliance, how old is the roof, A/C system and so forth. Really? Do you have to answer these questions and all of them? Well if you are selling your house, the answer is YES and you must answer to the best of your knowledge.

The seller’s disclosure is one of THE most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. If there are any blank questions or ambiguities, you are likely going to be asked for further clarification and it could delay or prevent a buyer from moving forward.

Here are 5 tips to help you overcome “disclosaphobia” and complete this document with ease:

1. Do Your Research

If you purchased your home within the recent past and had a home inspection, that document can be a useful reference as to the make, model and age of certain components in your home such as the A/C system, water heater, etc. Keep in mind that if you have replaced any of these items, then you will need to complete the disclosure reflective of that information.

2. Be Accurate

If you had a four point inspection for insurance purposes at the time of purchase, that could tell you the age and type of key components such as the roof, plumbing and electrical. Use this to help determine the present age when you are completing the disclosure.

3. Be Honest

Answer every question to the best of your knowledge. If there was something that happened such as a roof leak or water damage for example, provide as much information as possible. Buyers want to know when the issue occurred, the nature of the damage and what was done to repair or address the issue. If an insurance claim was filed, be sure to note that and what the outcome was as far as coverage. The claim could very well turn up when the new buyer works on obtaining insurance – better for the buyer to learn about it from the disclosure first. Attach any relevant paperwork as well such as receipts or invoices. Buyers need assurance that all adds up. Surprise is never a good thing in real estate.

4. Be Clear

Don’t leave a buyer guessing. Avoid vague answers or leaving questions blank. That only raises more questions for a buyer. If you don’t know or the question is not applicable to your kind of property, note that.

5. Set Expectations

The biggest challenge for disclosures arises when the party selling the property has never occupied it or only lived in it for a brief period of time. Be sure to clearly state what your occupancy situation was and to what extent if any, you have knowledge about the property. Setting proper expectations upfront in this regard with potential buyers is important.

If necessary, attach an additional explanation for anything that requires more information than what the form provides. Make sure all information is legible and will transmit clearly across a variety of mediums when printed, emailed, scanned or faxed.

In short, be thorough and provide information to the buyer that will give them confidence in their decision. Contrary to popular belief, buyers are not frustrated with too much disclosure, but rather not enough.

 

Cara Ameer is an agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not nurturing a culture of storytelling at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse. A true francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.

 

Water Saving Upgrades

by Scott Zeller
 

314

 

Simple Water-Saving Bathroom Upgrades

 

Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

Guest post by Katy Caballeros 

Between the toilet, shower, and sink, your bathroom accounts for nearly 60% of your home’s water usage. With water scarcity estimated to affect 2/3 for the global population by 2025, water costs are bound increase. Make a water-saving change and an investment in the future, without sacrificing performance. Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

1. Install a Low-Flow Faucet Aerator

Although a sink doesn’t seem to use as much water as the shower or toilet, it can pour out around 3 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Those extra gallons add up, especially if occasionally forget to turn off the sink while you shave or brush your teeth. By installing a low-flow faucet aerator on your bathroom sink, you can cut your water waste in half, reducing it by as much as 1,400 gallons per year. Purchasing an aerator for your sink is one of the cheapest conservation renos, with aerators available for as little as $1.

2. Switch Out Your Showerhead

It’s easy to waste water in the shower—many of us use the shower to relax or perhaps leave the water running as we wait for it to warm. While taking shorter showers can definitely help with water conservation, new energy-efficient showerheads can help reduce water waste without sacrificing enjoyment.

WaterSense labeled products are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help save water and are worth consideration as you search for the right products for your home. Showerheads labeled “low flow” are another option for your bathroom reno, as they deliver 2.5 gpm instead of the wasteful 5 gpm of older showerheads.

Newer models, like Evolve’s showerheads, have features like smart home technology, which conserve water and reduce energy use. Here’s how it works: instead of wasting water as you wait for the shower to warm, this technology automatically reduces the water flow to a trickle when it reaches 95 degrees. When you’re ready to shower, you pull on the showerhead’s built in lever and the flow returns to normal. No more letting energy-burning hot water flow down the drain. They estimated this showerhead technology can save homeowners 2-6 gallons of water per shower!

3. Replace Your Old Toilet

The toilet is the most water-wasteful piece of plumbing in most homes. Nearly 1/3 of a household’s total water consumption is flushed down the toilet. They can use as much as 7 gallons per flush! Luckily, toilet technology has come a long way in the past few decades. Newer energy-saving models can reduce water waste up to 67%. There are three main types of water efficient toilets:

  1. Low Flow Toilets
  2. Duel Flush Toilets
  3. Pressure Assist Toilets

Some toilets use a combination of low flow, duel flush, and pressure assist to create a conservation-friendly commode. Low flow toilets are designed to use significantly less water than older models, whereas duel flush toilets customize each flush for either solid or liquid waste. Pressure-assist toilets use an air cartridge to push water from the tank, which means using as little as one gallon per flush. With thousands of gallons a year in water savings at stake, a toilet reno is a must for water-conscious homeowners.

HomeAdvisor surveyed homeowners and found that replacing a toilet cost an average of $377. Compare that to savings up to $2,200 over its lifespan, and that’s more than a 580% return on investment.

Luckily, with innovations in water-saving technology, it’s easy to drastically cut back on water consumption without sacrificing performance. And, compared to other home updates, purchasing and installing water-saving products is relatively cheap and promise big savings on your water and energy bills. Whether you’re conserving water for your wallet, the environment, or state regulations upgrading bathroom fixtures can make a positive impact.

 

Katy Caballeros is a freelance writer who enjoys scheming eclectic home design ideas for her apartment. She can usually be found with a book and bottle of ginger beer on the weekends.

References
http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/8-water-saving-home-renos/#.Wbs63ciGNPY
https://www.consumerreports.org/home-improvement/elegant-water-saving-bathroom-fixtures/
http://thinkevolve.com/products/showerstart-tsv/
http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/12/economic-cost-global-water-scarcity/
https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/ideas-for-the-bathroom-water-use/view-all/

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

 

More Outdoor Living

by Scott Zeller
 

301

 

How to Create an Ambrosial Fragrance Garden

 

Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Guest post by LawnStarter

Creating a fragrance garden is a great way to attract hummingbirds to your home as well as provide a nice scent for guests who visit your outdoor living space. An ambrosial fragrance garden can consist of many different kinds of plants in the ambrosia plant family which is also known as Asteraceae. As an ambrosial fragrance garden may not be a super popular landscape trend in certain metros, it is a delicate gardening technique that can really vibe up the atmosphere surrounding your home, and not to mention make your backyard a unique beauty in the neighborhood. Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Plant Near Walkways

A fragrant plant that is located in the back corner of your garden will still look beautiful but the chances of you enjoying its scent are low. Make sure to plant fragrant flowers near areas of your outdoor living space that you pass by on a daily basis. Beautiful gerbera daisies would be a good option to include in a border or near a walkway. Other spots would include planting daisies in a pot near the front door or possibly an enclosed area where the scent can stick around for a while.

Plant Location Specific

A main part of creating a fragrance garden is to know how large each plant will grow. For those shorter ambrosia plants, like Marigolds, consider elevating their spot in the yard by hanging them in a basket or placing them in an elevated planter. This will allow you to get the full effect of the plant fragrance instead of leaving them near the ground where they would be hard to smell. Larger ambrosia species, like the sunflower, can be planted near the back of a gardenscape as their towering height will allow them to be fragrant to those passing by despite their far off location.

Don’t Use Chemicals

Flowers produce a fragrance based on their essential oils that evaporate into the air. Using chemical additives to your garden could mask the good scent of the flowers. Added chemicals could also hurt butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees that will be attracted to the plants. Make sure to protect your fragrance garden by using homemade options for insect control or biopesticides that are made from natural occurring elements.

Balance Out the Garden

The purpose of planting a fragrance garden is to enjoy the individual scent of each plant. Make sure to balance out where you plant aromatic varieties by placing like varieties in groups together. Spread out those plants that will give off a strong scent, like goldenrod, and plant unscented options in between the groups of fragrant ones. Doing so will help to create a balanced fragrance garden that will be pleasing and not overwhelming.

Use Different Colors

Choosing a variety of colored ambrosia plants is a great way to mix up the overall look of your fragrance garden as well as provide multiple scents. Those plants with white or pastel colored flowers will oftentimes produce more scent than those colors that are brighter like red or orange. There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family with many different options to choose from. If you were a big fan of chrysanthemums, which is a popular ambrosia plant, you could choose many different colored varieties just in that one plant family to provide unending fragrance to your outdoor living space.

There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family that would provide a beautiful fragrance garden. Consider adding marigolds that are placed at a higher level in the garden to easily smell their fragrance. Balancing out the garden and planting super fragrant varieties, like goldenrod, in groups by themselves will help to not overpower the garden. Placing plants near heavily used areas of the garden, staying away from chemicals, as well as using a variety of different colors will only enhance the overall look and scent of your ambrosia fragrance garden.

 

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

 

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Fax: 615-893-3246

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