Open House Etiquette – What Buyers Should or Shouldn’t Do

Looking for a home can be a tedious process, and if you’ve been to multiple showings and in and out of open houses, you might be starting to lose your cool. On the flip side, if you’ve ever sold a home, you’re probably well aware of the grueling process of cleaning up after folks who’ve been stomping through your home, leaving their mess and their footprints and their bad manners behind. So, don’t be like them. Check your muddy shoes at the door, but bring your etiquette inside. Need more details about the do’s and don’ts of touring homes? Read on.

Wipe your feet

Or, better yet, remove your shoes. Remember that the sellers have presumably gone to great links to clean and stage their home, which probably means freshly shampooed carpets. Your muddy footprints will not be received well.

Don’t leave a present behind

If you must use the restroom while touring homes for sale, make sure you do a few things first:

  • Check that the plumbing is working – If it’s a vacant or brand-new house, that might not be the case.
  • Look for toilet paper – You don’t want to be left in a drip-dry situation.
  • Flush! – Sounds like a given, but you’d be surprised.
  • Clean up after yourself – Just because you don’t lift the seat at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t here. And if you just can’t bring yourself to do it, wipe up the seat when you’re done. Come on. You know this.

No stealing

Yeah, it happens. More than you might think. If your moral compass isn’t enough to keep you from getting sticky fingers in an open house, consider this: More and more houses now have security cameras that will undoubtedly catch you in the act.

Don’t rifle through the homeowners’ things

Is it acceptable to open and look inside closets and kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers? Absolutely. But going through dresser drawers, nightstands, and other private spaces that have zero relevance when it comes to purchasing the home – not so much. Remember, you’re looking at the storage space, not casing the place. You can be curious all day. But acting on that curiosity is uncool.

Don’t disregard special requests

Is it frustrating that you can’t get into the third bedroom because the seller’s kitty is locked up in there during the showing? Sure. Do you want to be responsible for the cat escaping and getting hit by a car because you ignored the note that says, “Cat in here, please don’t enter?” Nope. If you’re really interested in the home and not seeing that room is a deal breaker, you can always set up a second visit.

Keep an eye your kids

You may be tempted to let them run off and see their potential bedrooms, but if they’re out of eyesight and earshot, they could potentially be doing damage to the house, or getting injured. You don’t want to create a situation where there’s liability involved…especially when you’re trying to buy a house!




©Realty Times

How To Rid Your Home Of Negative Energy In The New Year

It’s a new year, and what better time to change the energy in your home?! Whether you’ve just moved into a new place and want to make sure you set the energy right from the start or just want to refresh your existing space, there are tips and tools you can use to easily improve the feel – and also the look.

A fresh coat of paint

You can change the feeling of your entire house with new paint, with minimal cost, especially if you do it yourself.


Decluttering is tip No. 1 if you’re thinking of putting your house on the market. But the simple act of decluttering your home has also shown to be a great way to declutter your mind. The items you surround yourself with might be the result of years of thoughtless accumulation, but your environment can have a big impact on your health. Clutter can affect your ability to focus and overloads your visual cortex, whereas people who live in a neat space are twice as likely to make healthier food choices. Start off this new year by giving yourself some room to move and some mental clarity by getting rid of stuff you no longer use, need, or enjoy.

Apply a few Feng Shui tips

The art of Feng Shui is intended to help bring happiness, good fortune and wellness into your life. And while you don’t have to overhaul your everything and make potentially expensive and extensive changes to your home, there may be a few tips worth considering in the ancient Chinese art of living in harmony with your environment. Feng shui is about creating a space that’s not only pleasing to your eye, but also pleasing to all your senses, so that your home supports and enriches your life. When you apply feng shui principles to your home, you can attract a great new year.

Adding color to your home and decluttering are two principles of Feng Shui. Others include:

  • Making your front door “visible to receive blessings” by ensuring you have easy to ready house numbers and a clear path to your home

  • Bringing plants and a water fountain into your home to improve your health and foster nurturing

  • Positioning “furniture for safety” by making sure that the largest piece of furniture in any room is in a position where you can see the door

Smudge it

The idea of smudging, which is burning sage in your home, may sound odd and “woo woo” but, smudging with sage is a practice that dates back thousands of years to indigenous Americans, and one that is used by all kinds of people to improve the energy in a room or structure. The practice of smudging, or purifying a room with the smoke of sacred herbs, can help clear negative energy from a space. And the apparent benefits are steeped in science – when burned, sage and other herbs release negative ions, which research has linked to a more positive mood.

Anything you do to clear space, even the simple act of opening a window, will bring more flow into your home and your life, too!




ⒸRealty Times

5 Tips to Do When Storing Your Holiday Decorations

It’s all fun when it’s time to decorate for Christmas. But after the holiday is over you’ll probably hear crickets instead of clamors to help with the twinkle lights and wreaths.

Don’t let your holiday finery become a hot mess! Here are 5 tips to do when taking down and storing decorations.

1. Properly protect your decorations

Don’t gloss over this step. Not taking the time to protect delicate items is a big mistake when it comes to putting away holiday decor. It’s normal to want to rush through this tedious job so you can be done with it, but moving too quickly will just result in breakage.

2. Cull (and donate) your decorations

If you didn’t put it up this year, what are the chances you’ll do it next year? Toss out anything that is in disrepair or out of favor. Before you toss your purged decorations in the trash, though, consider donating them. Shelters, public libraries, health care centers, and other nonprofits might welcome the chance to give your used decorations a second life.

3. Storage correctly

If you have garland in four different boxes, you’ll never keep track of it from year to year. Instead, store like with like. Put items to decorate the outside together, and place soft goods in their own bin, such as tablecloths, stockings, runners, and napkins.

4. Label your decorations

On a related note, once you’ve packed things together, get out that magic marker. Try to be more specific when it comes to labeling your containers. Are the lights for the mantel, mailbox, Christmas tree, or something in the yard? It can also be a good idea to label boxes as “X out of X” (e.g., “3 out of 5″). If you do this, you won’t miss out on a box or search for one that doesn’t exist.

5. Keep notes

As you put things away, make notes on what needs replacing or items you need to add your collection (e.g., broken lights, stained cocktail napkins, or a bigger turkey platter for next year). With a detailed list, you can strategically hit those half-price sales in January and fill in the holes for next year.





5 Tricks to Design a Luxurious Bedroom

If you returned from a nice vacation to a disheveled bedroom and couldn’t help but yearn for your plush hotel digs, cloud-like pillows, and fluffy robe, don’t book another getaway just yet. Achieving a luxury look at home is easier (and less expensive) than you think.

Layer Pillows

If you only make one tweak to upgrade your bedroom, it should be the way you style pillows. A considered bed is always topped with a handful of precisely layered accent pillows. Practical pillows, the ones you sleep on a night, should sit propped against the bedhead, overlaid with decorative pillows in height order. The color of the pillows are like the cherry on top of the sundae, so pull the accent color from the overall color scheme of the space to create the focal point of your room. One basic rule is also that sleeping pillows and decorative pillows shouldn’t take up more than a quarter of the total bed length.

Upgrade Lampshades

Looking for an affordable way to give existing décor a fresh look? Replacing lampshades is a simple way to give your bedroom a look luxe for less. Chances are the ready-made lamp you choose comes with a basic, uninspired shade, so upgrading it can have a big impact, since the shade can really make or break the lamp. Opt for color or a cool fabric choice and choose a shade that’s taller than expected.

Style Clutter

Keeping a bedroom mess-free can feel like an insurmountable task, so it’s lucky that “organized clutter” is the design trend of the moment. The key is knowing how to distinguish between good clutter and bad. Examples for good clutter are stacks of books and magazines, art resting up against the wall, or bedside table trays filled with objects. What you don’t want are dirty clothes on the floor, unopened mail and paperwork, and unmanaged electrical cords.

Create a Multipurpose Space

Yes, the main function of a bedroom is to be a haven for sleep, but the best rooms are multipurpose. A simple, low-cost way to tweak your space is by rearranging furniture and introducing décor from other rooms in the house. Adding a chair in some coordinating fabric dressed with a fun throw pillow is the one piece many people forget about. Even if your space isn’t very big, a small, cozy chair adds to the feeling of ampleness and getaway to your room. If your living room has a statement chair that is rarely used, experiment by moving it into your bedroom with a discreet side table to create a reading area. It’s also fine to mix and match décor. The accent chair can be vintage, modern, or anything in between. It’s basically acting like a piece of art for your room.

Dress The Bed

Luxury hotel rooms all share one feature: a perfectly made bed. Most people tend to underplay the importance of dressing their bed and rely on the same rumpled duvets they sleep with nightly, which are barely pulled up during the day. This never gives a finished look. To make a Ritz-Carlton–grade bed that’ll instantly upgrade your space, opt for two sheets and fold the edge of the top one over the duvet for a polished look.

If you’re looking to go one step further and invest in new sheets, look beyond classic white sets. Bedrooms and bedding don’t have to be all white anymore—it’s all about the mix. Shades of gray and taupe can be just as classy as all white, and it’s much easier to upkeep.






Decoration Tips for Selling During the Holidays

Selling your home with the holidays on deck means you may need a crash course in how to decorate your home for the holidays without turning off buyers. It’s hard to argue with the fact that glitter lights and colorful accents make a home look more cheerful and inviting. But you also probably know that if you’re trying to sell your home, buyers need to have an easy time imagining themselves (and their own holiday traditions) in your home.

You don’t have to ditch the holiday decorations altogether. But you shouldn’t hang all the boughs of holly, Christmas lights, Hanukkah menorahs, and every holiday card you receive, either. So how do you walk the line during these merry months and let the holiday spirit flow without turning off buyers? Read the tips below:

1. Depersonalize the decorations

It’s important the design appeals to as many different home buyers and tastes as possible. The seller’s personal life should not be prominently featured throughout the home. Less is definitely more when it comes to holiday decorations while selling your home. Enhancing the features of the home versus adding all the bells and whistles will keep buyers on track.

2. Consider the neighborhood

But if your neighborhood is ablaze with holidays lights, which enhances the neighborhood’s values and attract like-minded buyers, then you don’t want to be your block’s resident Grinch. If your neighborhood is festive during Christmas, then a buyer would expect Christmas decorations at your home. On the other hand, if you live in a politically correct neighborhood with a mix of religious beliefs, use more generic decorations to promote season’s greetings rather than your specific holiday.

3. Here are some decorating tips:

  • Avoid the kitsch: Inflatable snowmen,  reindeer on the roof or a gazillion angels flapping their wings
  • Classic is always best: Hang an elegant wreath on the front door
  • Don’t overdo lights: Simple white lights can add a festive touch without blinding buyers during walk-throughs.
  • Skip the tree: You can’t win with a tree. If it’s too big, it distracts viewers and can make the room seem small.
  • Choose scents over scenes: The smell of simmering cider or baked cookies will delight the senses more than garlands strung over everything that doesn’t move.





Gift Ideas That Give Back

Have you already started your holiday shopping? How about buying meaningful gifts that will do more than just delight your recipient and actually give money back to those less fortunate? Here are a few ideas:

Fire Dept. Coffee

Founded by firefighters, Fire Dept. Coffee offers a variety of roasts and blends for java lovers. In addition to a special Christmas Blend, the company also offers spirit blends, like Bourbon-Infused Coffee and Rum-Infused Coffee, and a percentage of each order supports firefighter and military charities to give back to hardworking servicemen.


You honestly can’t beat the gift of booze, and this bottle of cabernet helps fund Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism.

Love Your Melon Pom Beanie

Love Your Melon donates 50% of its profits to support pediatric cancer research and families affected by cancer.

Cuddle+Kind Aspen the Penguin

Cuddle+Kind partners with hunger organizations around the world to give meals to children. Your purchase of this precious penguin provides 10 meals to children in North America and around the world.

Adornia Lariat Necklaces

You may have seen some of your favorite celebs sporting these necklaces. There’s a lot to love about these lariat necklaces. They are available in a variety of styles, including 14K yellow gold plated silver, rose gold plated silver and 925 sterling silver, and feature inspirational words like Love, Hope, Woke, Boss, Soul and XO. Best yet, the company donates 10 percent of sales to a different women-centric charity each month.

Original Grain Watch

For the rugged guy who considers himself a bit of a maverick, consider an Original Grain timepiece. As part of their “Barrel Collection,” the brand has released two lines of handcrafted wooden watches using repurposed wood from American Oak bourbon barrels, as well as sustainably sourced materials. Thanks to a partnership with non-profit Trees for the Future, a tree is planted in Senegal for each hardwood-and-stainless-steel watch sold.


What to Look for When Signing Your First Lease

Whether you’re living solo for the first time or prepping for an apartment or home rental with your new roommates, your first lease is an important milestone. Before you sign on that dotted line, make a list and check it twice. Use these tips to make sure you’re well informed before you sign your lease and take responsibility for your new rental.

1. Do your research

Treat your commitment to renting a property in the same way you would carefully consider buying an expensive appliance or a new car: do your research. Look for online reviews from previous renters attached to the property profile in Google or on other social media platforms like Facebook. Search under either the landlord’s name or the name of the property company or apartment complex to find reviews in Yelp. You can even dig up complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Hopefully, you are working with a RealtorⓇ who can help you with all of this.

2. What are the lease terms?

Even if you and your prospective landlord have previously discussed that your lease will be a year long or month-to-month, make sure the lease term you’re expecting is the one that’s indicated on the lease itself. Whatever the terms are on the lease are the ones that you’re formally agreeing to, so you’re going to want more than just verbal confirmation.

3. What are the policies around breaking the lease early?

Obviously you’re not renting an apartment with the expectation that you’ll need to break your lease early, but life doesn’t always go exactly as planned and it’s possible that you will need to move out before the end of your lease term. Just in case, make sure you know what the policies around breaking a lease early are before you sign, particularly whether it is allowed and what the penalties are. While many landlords do allow early release of the lease if necessary, there may be a fine attached or you may be required to forfeit your security deposit.

4. Be Clear about Maintenance Responsibilities

Understand and document what your responsibilities are in terms of maintenance and who you should call in case of an emergency. When you move in, the landlord should document the condition of the property—if there is pre existing damage, insist that it’s recorded accurately before you accept the keys. Check all the appliances, door locks, and plumbing, and if anything needs attention, require that it be addressed now so you don’t end up paying for it later.

If your landlord doesn’t supply a checklist to verify the current condition of the property when you sign the lease, supply one yourself. There are several free templates online that you can use to document the condition of the property and ask your landlord to co-sign. If you a working with a RealtorⓇ, he or she will provide you with one.

5. How is rent paid?

Every landlord or management company has their own way of accepting rent payments. While in an ideal world you’d be able to just easily pay your rent online every month, it’s possible that you’ll need to drop off a check somewhere or mail it to a specific location.

6. When is rent due?

Most rents are due on the first of every month, but according to what it says in your lease, you may have some flexibility, especially if you have to mail a check somewhere. See if there’s a grace period on rent payments, such as three or five days from the first of the month. While chances are it will just be due on the first, it doesn’t hurt to find out if there’s a little wiggle room.

7. What are the move-in fees?

In addition to your first month’s rent, you may have other required fees due prior to move-in, including last month’s rent, a security deposit, administrative fees, elevator rental fees, or other specific move-in related costs. Check on what these are so that you can make sure you’re not hit with any surprises when moving day comes around.

The more you know about questions to ask before signing a lease, the better protected you’ll be against any surprises or upsets once the lease starts.







Is There a Shift in Perceptions of the Housing Market?

For the past five quarters, the majority of Americans said their housing markets were overheating. Now, in the fourth quarter, 75 percent of Americans say their local housing market is starting to cool, according to Value Insured’s Q4 2018 Modern Homebuyer Survey. Homeowners in California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington are most likely to say their local market is starting to cool off.

The survey “revealed some concerning evidence about the changing psychology of the housing market,” says Robert Shiller, a housing economist. “We will be watching these numbers as they unfold over the future.”

Seventy-two percent of Americans and 78 percent of “urban residents” say home prices are still too high. Urban homeowners blame “flippers and speculative investors” and “wealthy transplants from more expensive housing markets” for inflating their local home prices to unsustainable levels, according to the report.

Some home buyers may hit the pause button to see what happens in the housing market. Fifty-nine percent of interested home buyers (which includes first-time and move-up buyers) say they plan to wait for a “meaningful correction” before they buy. Fourteen percent say they plan to not buy at all until a correction occurs.

Several markets are seeing home prices slow. Value Insured’s report notes that the fastest drops in home prices have been happening in Seattle, and North Texas has seen some of its largest sales declines in seven years.

“Buyers have switched from ‘hoop jumpers’ to bargain-hunter mode,” says Joe Melendez, CEO and founder of Value Insured.




8 Best Upgrades to Personalize Your New Home

Before you move into your new house, you may want to make upgrades. These add value to your investment, improve your home’s function and allow you to express your personality. Plus, making upgrades before you move in reduces inconvenience later. Consider the following upgrades to make your new house feel like home.

Enhance the Kitchen

Quality kitchen upgrades ensure the room meets your family’s needs, and add value to your home. Consider several changes that improve the quality and function of your kitchen:

  • Get high-end, energy- or water-saving appliances.

  • Lower the bar counter from 42 to 36 inches so it’s more accessible.

  • Install quartz countertops.

  • Add lighting under the counters.

  • Choose matching fixtures and hardware.

Worried about staying on budget while renovating the most expensive room in the house? According to HomeAdvisor’s Kitchen Cost Guide, it costs the average homeowner between $12,500 and $33,500 for a full kitchen remodel.

Redo the Flooring

It’s definitely easier and more affordable to upgrade a house’s flooring before you arrange all the furniture. Consider stain-resistant carpeting in high-traffic areas, or install hardwood in connected rooms for a sleek appearance.

Update the Bathroom

Spruce up a bathroom already in the house or add an additional bathroom before your move. When renovating a bathroom, consider your current and future needs, such as your family size or entertaining habits. Several possible changes include:

  • Install a double sink.

  • Install a walk-in shower or Jacuzzi tub.

  • Choose decorative shower, floor or wall tile.

  • Customize the lighting or fixtures.

  • Hang extra shelves for storage.

Bring in New Cabinetry

Before you unpack all your possessions, install new cabinetry that helps you get and stay organized. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets have a big effect on your home’s function and appearance. Choose cabinet finishes and designs that match your personal style and color scheme. You can hang the old cabinets in the garage or attic to expand your storage space.

Update Electrical Wiring

Older houses may have outdated wiring, or you may find that you need additional outlets in certain rooms. Walk through your house, visualize how you will use each room and plan any electrical wiring updates. With help from an electrician, you can add outlets in the living room to accommodate your gaming systems or wire the den ceiling for a new fan.

Wire for Internet Service

Improve security and speed in your new home with wired internet throughout the house. It allows you to install and use a variety of electronics, including security cameras, in any room. Full-house wired internet also prevents outside users and hackers from accessing your network and potentially harming your family.

Add Lots of Storage

Getting extra storage throughout your house before you move helps you completely unpack and organize your home the way you want. The price of installing a new closet is about $1,800, as found on HomeAdvisor. Choose from a variety of cabinet types, shelving, and overhead storage designs and materials that match your needs and preferences.

Transform the Laundry Room

While you probably plan to use your laundry room primarily for laundry, you may wish to transform it into a functioning pantry, drop zone or mudroom. Rearrange the washing machine and dryer hookup to make room for pantry storage. Consider adding a bench and hooks for shoes, backpacks and umbrellas, too.




Source: Rismedia



The Essentials Checklist for Newly Married Homeowners

Life does not end right after the wedding. In fact, it’s when the marriage life begins. Moving to a new home with your partner sounds exciting and fun. At the same time though, this chapter opens up to a whole new array of responsibilities and worries. Don’t fret too quickly as you are not alone to fulfill these. In this article, we will list down five essentials that newly married homeowners should keep in mind.

1. Set Up Electricity Line

A home may not be functional without electricity. At least this is considering that we live in a modern day’s world. When moving to a new home, do not forget to check your electricity connection and billing. This should be under your name and not anybody else’s. Otherwise, you might be connected to illegal electricity lines. Also check indoor and outdoor electric cables and make sure they are all safe and organized.

2. Check Water Pipes

Peek under the basins. Water faucets must be clean and unclogged. The water pipes must not be rusty and dirty, whether the house is new or abandoned for quite a long time. Newly wed homeowners must also check the water pumps and the disaster recovery solutions to keep water running. There must be no leaks in machineries to prevent high costs and conserve water diligently. A wise move is to ask around and survey about plumbing before finally settling in.

3. Move Important Appliances In

For most couples, watching TV or movies is one of the common bonding activities together. The television set must be an essential part of the home. You can have more units depending on the necessity. The washing machine, refrigerator, oven, water heater, clothes dryer, and food processors are some of the other examples.

Apart from those, there are appliances that you might not want to share. For instance, sharing an only computer or only one telephone may be the cause of a dispute. In this case, buying another one of the same appliance would be most ideal.

4. Kill and Prevent Bugs

Bugs and pesky insects are troublesome in any home. They are the least a newlywed couple wants to distract them in their honeymoon stage. To be sure, knowing ways on how to kill these unfriendly tiny organisms is to set up ways on baiting them. For example, a good way for termite control is to install baiting and monitoring stations to have them hooked and never come back.

5. Be Accountable

There should be a separate list of chores for the wife and the husband to avoid disputes. For sure, there are a lot of things to do and manage in a new home. As well, misunderstandings might arise when these chores are not designated and delegated properly. It is very important to be held accountable to certain tasks as this will impact every decision to be made at home. Familiarize yourself with each other’s moods. As people say, you don’t really know the person you are marrying into unless you stay with the person under one roof. Establish commitments and be accountable for them.


When moving to your home as newly married homeowners, there are a countless number of tips that are essential to living together peacefully. These five things are only basic. Keep in mind that changing of door locks should be the first thing to do when you get inside the house. Also be reminded to taxes to file for real estate and consistently check for house maintenance to prevent high costs to pay later on.



Source:  Julianne Hernandez @RealtyTimes