Crystal's Blog Corner

Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kidsí Messes While Selling Your Home


Keeping the house together during the selling process is a challenge. Making sure everything is just right for showings and open houses can be exhausting and overwhelming Throw kids into the mix, and things can get downright chaotic. Fortunately, a few small decor choices can help conceal kid clutter—changing your “for sale” sign to “sold.”

Hide in Plain Sight

With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniture’s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether it’s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your home’s cleanliness and open floor space to think about what’s inside.

Hide Within Reach

Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategy—under-bed and attic storage. While the underside of your child’s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an over-sized quilt that conceals what’s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kids’ tee-pees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot what’s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage

Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesn’t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks--kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some Style

Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesn’t. Sort into “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away.” This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? You’ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kids’ areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little style. Choose bookcases and desks with useful cubbies and shelves, and dress up the space with vibrant and unique artwork. Inspire imagination in potential buyers (and keep the space useful while your home is on the market) by choosing a few colorful supplies and knick-knacks to display.

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kids’ messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that they’ll want to make their own.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Heather Cordonnier 

5 Tips for Economically Renovating Your Home


Maybe you want to freshen up your house’s look before the long winters, or a home repair has been long overdue. Irrespective of the reason though, a home renovation plan can be both exciting and exhausting. What’s more, the work can be costly too.

In 2017, homeowners spent an average of $15,000 on house renovations. However, you need to take each step carefully if you’re on a tight budget. Let’s walk you through some simple tips to remodel your home economically:

1. Begin by cleaning up

As soon as the idea of home renovation pops in your mind, you need to hold your horses. This is because any design pointers that come to your brain at this point will be hazy. Thanks to the clutter, you cannot develop a crystal clear idea of what you want.

If you can’t do that, you can’t budget realistically. It details the very purpose of renovating your home reasonably. Therefore, start by cleaning your place thoroughly. Declutter and clear out what you don’t need.

Chances are that cleaning your space and rearranging the furniture can help you redesign your entire house. If your house is in good shape, only cleaning and moving things around can work to give your house a new look. If not, then this DIY project will help you visualize the home remodel that you want.

2. Set a realistic home renovation budget

Business Insider revealed that 61% of us don’t have a budget, but that won’t work if you aim to renovate your house on a shoestring budget. You need a budget, and while you are at it, you need a realistic budget.

This means that if you put yourself in utopia and estimate fairytale costs, you won’t be able to get anywhere with your home renovation plans. Hence, you need a fair estimate of what renovations you want in your house.

For instance, if you plan to spruce up your existing backyard, then you need to research the rough estimate of getting done all that you’ve in your mind. On average, Landscaping Network reports that a budget of $25,000 is typically dedicated to backyard renovation. A good contractor such as Terra Nova Landscaping can help you figure out the costs as per the revamps you want.

3. Decide what you want in advance

Budgeting means there is no room for a change of heart at the last minute. You also don’t get to be picky, saying that a certain color doesn’t look the way you anticipated it to, because such double-mindedness quickly adds to the costs.

The simple way to nip this unwelcome evil in the bud is to plan beforehand. Browse through the internet or flip through interior design magazines to get an idea of what you’re looking for. Turn Pinterest upside down if you have to while rooting around renovation ideas and trends, but do it before you seal the deal with your contractor.

Once you have a blueprint of what you want in your mind, you’ll be better able to map out your budget. Plus, you can save your money from going down the drain by saving yourself from buying things on impulse.

4. Get a black and white paint palette

You know that you need your home remodeled when the color leaches from your walls. Since you’re on a mission to give your house a new look on a tight budget, consider a black and white color palette.

Getting different colored palettes can add to the total cost. To counter that, go for the classic black and white that give your house a sophisticated look. Moreover, you can never go wrong with these colors because they are timeless.

Alternatively, choose a neutral color scheme for your rooms. It is a perfect pick because it offers you a lot of flexibility when it comes to decorating. This makes the neutral color scheme a budget-friendly choice because it allows you to add nearly any décor or accent color.

5. Think smaller home remodeling changes

Another smart tip to refurbish your house on a tight budget is to make small changes. While it’s nice to think of the big picture, it is useless to daydream about a new look for your house if you don’t have the cash to make the dream come true.

In such a case, making small changes can significantly change your house’s look. One way to do this is to renovate your house in sections. For instance, get your kitchen renovated this year and then save up and revamp your bedroom sometime later.

Or, you can make minor changes that make a big impact. For instance, change the hardware on the kitchen cabinets for a refreshed look instead of getting the cabinets replaced altogether. Similarly, change the rugs or curtains in your house for a different look.

Wrap up

Budgeting can be tough but not impossible. You can always stay within the limitations of your wallet by planning, making small changes, spending thoughtfully instead of impulsively, and doing some work yourself.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Valentina Cestari

Who sets the price of a home?


I get asked this questions by buyers many times.   Most of the time it is the owners.  Because of the hot real estate market in metro Detroit we are seeing some homes listed at prices from $20,000 to over $100,000 over the last sale of comparable homes in the neighborhood.  I know it is crazy but it is happening.  It is not only Oakland County waterfront homes that this is happening to, but also homes in subdivsions all across metro Detroit.  I have seen a home just recently in Northville that was priced $50,000 over the last sale.  My buyers liked the house, but it is almost impossible to bid on it.  In many cases you will find that most buyers and sellers meet about halfway between the list price and the offer price.  

So for example if a home is listed at $699,000 and it is $50,000 over priced.   The price that you want to buy it at is $650,000.  Otherwise you are going to be upside down in the house from day one. Let's go over all the scenarios.

1.)  If you over paid and bought the house at $675,000 you will have set a new high for the neighborhood.  First of all when you offer that much and the seller accepts the home has to appraise for that.  Other wise you would have to bring the extra money to the table over the appraised value.  So you may have appraisal issues coming into it right from the beginning.  If you do not have the extra money to bring to the table and the seller is not going to lower the price then the whole deal is going to fall apart.  It happens often when the appraisal comes in low.  You have to remember the appraiser has to find something to give the house more value than the other homes that sold in the $650,000 range.  It has to be in better condition, more square footage, more bedrooms, or more baths, or have a finished basement when the others don't.  An appraiser just does not make the house appraise to the sales price.  They look at many different factors.  You, the buyer have to remember that you are basically upside down if you bought it at $675,000.  So if the real estate market turns you could be in trouble if you had to sell because of divorce, job transfer, or loss of job.  That's why you should be a smart buyer and try to buy about the same prices or lower that other homes have sold for in the area.

2.)  If the home is listed at $699,000 and you want it for $650,000 then basically you can either offer $650,000 as a one time price or offer a much lower price to meet halfway.  If you offer $650,000 you would have to tell the seller that is your highest offer.  Either they take it or leave it.  Or you would basically have to offer $601,000 and hope that you meet in the middle at $650,000.  Most likely in this case the seller will out right reject your offer because it is a "low ball offer".  So I coach my clients to do the one time highest offer.  At least you cut to the chase right away.  You know right away whether they reject your offer without going back and forth.  Though some sellers will still counter even though you tell them right up front that this offer is your highest and best.   

So why do sellers price their homes so high?  It is simply they believe that their home is worth more.  They do not look at the comparables.  They do not take into account what has sold.  They do not take the time to see the black and white truth.  There is nothing we can do as agents to convince them otherwise or we would lose the listing.  Believe it or not there are sometimes where the house will sell at the extremely high price.  Other times the sellers have to lower the price.  I have seen some homes on the market for over a year at the high price.  Sometimes the seller over paid themselves years ago.  Sometimes the seller has in their mind what they need to net out of it.   


5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make


There’s no shortage of advice for home buyers. Getting approved for a mortgage or how to keep on top of a credit report is certainly good advice but there should be just as much attention given to those who are selling their home. After all, home sellers also typically turn around and become home buyers. For most, selling the home means coming up with the necessary funds for a down payment and closing costs. Here are five common mistakes home sellers make.


Wrong Price

The first misstep is to price the home wrong. Either too high or too low. Getting the price “just right” means getting the most out of your home while at the same time not pricing it out of the market to the point where very few, if any, potential buyers reach out. If you have some time to sell, you could list your home on the higher side compared to recent sales in your area. If you need to sell quickly, the lower end can help. You should contact a couple of real estate agents and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis.

Flying Solo

Some home owners think they can save a few thousand dollars by selling a home without a real estate agent when in fact it can cost someone thousands of dollars by not using a real estate agent. You simply can’t provide the reach that a licensed real estate professional can. When a home is placed into the local Multiple Listing Service, the home is then available for potential home buyers all across the country and not just your neighborhood. A deeper buyer pool means more offers.

Show Ready

One thing you’ll need to keep on top of is the selling condition of your home. This means both inside your home and out. How’s the curb appeal? When someone first pulls up to your home are they automatically drawn in? Or maybe the lawn needs some work and the shrubbery is a little ragged. Keep the lawn trimmed and free of clutter. Power wash the sidewalk, driveway and front porch. Inside, you also need to de-cluttter. Open up each room by placing bulky furniture into a storage unit. Take down family photos and portraits. When buyers walk into your home they want to be able to visualize it being theirs, and having an instant reminder that it’s not by having family photos all around detracts from that.
Inspection Home buyers are advised to have a potential property inspected to discover anything that needs to be fixed, updated or repaired. But you too should hire an inspector to perform a complete run-down from basement to attic looking for anything that needs your attention. The buyers will order an inspection so you want to know what they’ll discover before they do with their own.

Getting Anxious

Don’t get too anxious and don’t jump at the very first offer. Your sales price will probably be much higher than what you originally paid for it, but take a deep breath when that first offer comes in. Give your agent plenty of time to list your home and hold open houses to gain a wider audience and have some patience. If you accept an offer very early on in the process, you might be costing yourself thousands of dollars and no more offers.


Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers


Adding amenities to your home can mean more money in your pocket down the road, but it's hard to know which ones to choose. Zillow studied 4 million home sales to figure out which are worth it.

It's tough out there for would-be homeowners.

They're facing rising mortgage rates, higher home prices and a shortage of available houses in many markets. Plus, recent changes to the tax law do them no favors. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

So what can a potential homebuyer do?

Get perspective

Higher mortgage rates may feel like salt in the wound for those shopping in tight markets.

Rates have been rising since late last year. The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage hit a high of 4.45 percent last month. That's its highest since 2014, but still well below where it's been historically.

"The fours are not a terrible place to be," said Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow.

So what does this cost the homebuyer? Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

If the median home price in the US is $225,264, then over the life of a 30-year loan at 4.5 percent you'd pay $148,506 in interest. At 5 percent, it rises to $168,057 in interest. That's a difference of $19,551. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

But for perspective, consider the $2229, 849 someone would pay over the life of the loan if the rate was 6.5 percent, where it was hovering the summer of 2007 before the recession hit. That's more than $81,000 than the first example.

These all assume a 20 percent down payment. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

What can you do to cope?

Your credit will largely determine the rate you get, so keep that clean. Lock in your rate when you are ready. Rates vary day to day and timing it well is more luck than skill, Olsen said.

Hunt hard

It's not a market for the faint of heart. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

The median home price right now is up 7.6 percent from last year and up 15 percent compared to the year before that, according to Zillow. And compared to three years ago? Up nearly 22 percent. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

These price hikes, more than higher rates, make the costs prohibitive for some buyers.

And inventory is tight because homes are selling so quickly. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

"If you are struggling with the fact there aren't a lot of options, you have to be looking every day," she said. And move fast if you do find something you like.

According to, swapping out wall-to-wall carpet for hardwood floors can make your home much more attractive to buyers, because they are durable, easy to clean, and look great. Time

Be prepared

It's even more important in a challenging real estate market to make sure you have the basics covered: check your credit, know what you can afford and come to the hunt preapproved for a mortgage.

Homes in many markets are receiving multiple offers, so be ready to compete. Consider ways to sweeten your deal: a bigger down payment, more earnest money or a shorter closing time may give you an edge.

You also may also want to consider an escalation clause, which allows a buyer to say they will pay a certain amount over any higher offer up to a ceiling. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

And cash is still king. An all-cash offer means there are no appraisals or mortgages to slow (or possibly derail) the deal.

If you can, consider asking for help. Olsen said that in pre-recession days, about 18 percent of buyers accepted a gift from family or friends. Now it's about a quarter. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

Help along the way

If you're a novice, consider attending a first-time homebuyer class or meeting with a HUD housing counselor, who can provide free or low-cost advice. They can walk you through the process and help you assess what you can afford.

They can also alert potential homebuyers to assistance programs in their area, said Karen Hoskins of nonprofit Neighborworks USA. There are a variety of programs that help people with down payments, closing costs or other services.

Finally, a good real estate agent can help buyers craft a deal and assist with their knowledge of the market. For example, Olsen notes that on the West Coast it's more common to price a home low with the assumption offers will come in over asking, whereas on the East Coast it's more acceptable to make an offer below asking.

The tax man

What about taxes? It's true, tax laws are not as generous as they once were for homeowners, but the changes don't affect everyone equally. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

Homeowners can deduct interest paid on the first $750,000 of a loan for a newly purchased first or second home. That is down from the prior limit of $1 million. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

And homeowners have also lost the unlimited federal deduction for state and local income and sales tax. Taxpayers will now be allowed to deduct only up to $10,000 in combined property and state and local income taxes, so that hurts people in areas with heavy tax burdens. Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers

Stay focused

Homeownership isn't for everyone but if you decide to stay in the hunt, keep saving as it's an appreciating market in many areas.

And try not to get lost in the mania. The usual rules still apply: don't buy more house than you can afford and think about the practicality of it as a place to live, not an investment.

"We have already seen the hard lessons people have learned when they assume everything is moving up and there will be no pitfalls or crashes," said Bruce McClary of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

"There is an investment value in home ownership but time is a big factor. It's slow and steady because there are peaks and valleys. It can be a roller coaster at times." Home-buying tips: How to land the right house in a tough market for buyers.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Catherine Gomez

5 Ways Moving Improves Your Happiness


Can moving to a new city, state, or country make you happier? It certainly has the potential to — a move gives you an opportunity to discover new interests, meet new people, and start a new chapter in your life. While the process itself may seem nerve-wracking or tedious, it can also bring about positive changes that significantly improve your happiness.

This Is Your Brain on Moving

Whether you’re moving out of necessity or out of desire, the act of relocating can be an emotional and often trying experience. A move isn’t a cure-all for tension or anxiety. However, a move can offer a fresh start, helping you motivate yourself to make changes in your life. Here are five ways your move can change your life for the better.

1. Nicer Neighborhoods

If you’re not happy with your quality of life in your current neighborhood, apartment building, or town, a move can help you find greener pastures. A sense of community can be a big indicator for personal happiness; when you feel connected to your surroundings, your sense of fulfillment will be higher.

Our environments also impact our happiness in significant (and surprising) ways. Quality of life is directly linked to our surroundings, and major cities across the world have begun using happiness as a metric for understanding the economy. Moving to a nicer neighborhood with more trees, a vibrant downtown, or a peaceful local park can truly improve your happiness if your current location is lacking these basic amenities.

2. Social Support

A social support system is an essential part of feeling safe, comfortable, and happy. Our friends and family are often an essential resource when it comes to personal fulfillment. The American Psychological Association (APA) finds that social support systems are a strong indicator of reduced stress and increased happiness.

Moving closer to friends and family can put your social support system within easy reach so you cope with life’s stresses in a more productive way. If you’re moving to a new area without a social support system, there are lots of ways to branch out and find new friends. Once you get settled, your social network will start brightening your life.

3. Economic Relief

Our finances are often the main driver of a move. Whether you’re seeking a new job or an area with a lower cost of living, a move has numerous ways of reducing financial stress. Money can be a big driver of unhappiness — in fact, it’s the top cause of stress in the United States, according to the APA. Moving to relieve financial stress is a good approach for a happier life.

If you’re planning to move for financial reasons, applying to jobs in several cities and picking the best offer is a good strategy. Cities vary by cost of living since utility prices and general costs like food or transportation vary across the nation. Finding a city with a good ratio between cost of living and average salary can leave you with much more financial freedom; cities like Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia have high hiring rates and some of the lowest living costs.

4. Better Climate

It can be hard to live in a place where the weather stresses you out. Weather-related unhappiness can manifest in a number of different ways. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) plagues millions of Americans in places with long winters, while people who live in areas with extreme heat might suffer from lower productivity.

Moving to an area with more tolerable weather for your personal preferences can have a big effect on your overall happiness. Nicer weather and more sunlight can coincide with increased levels of happiness, and nice weather enables activities like outdoor exercise, which can definitely lighten your mood.

5. Safer Cities

In the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a feeling of safety is second only to basic physiological needs like breathing, eating, and sleeping. Feeling safe is a complex emotion, combining aspects of physical, psychological, vocational, and economic security. Feeling insecure can put a hard cap on how happy you’re able to feel.

Moving to a city with a lower crime rate or a neighborhood with a little more privacy can give you the space you need to breathe, relax, and appreciate the things that make you happy. If the people you live with are the cause of your feelings of insecurity, separating yourself is the best thing you can do to take care of your personal happiness.

Find Your Space

The process of moving can be stress-inducing, but the long-term benefits can make it worth the trouble. Moving for any of these reasons can help you make the positive changes in your life to feel more content and gratified.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES - by Darina Murashev

Home Tips, Tricks and Repairs You Need to Know About


A lot of homeowners would love to make home improvements themselves, but many people don't feel like they know enough about home repairs and improvements to adequately do the work themselves. There are some things that you can do on your own, and there are other things that you really need to hire a professional so that the job is done correctly and it doesn't pose any safety risks in the future. Not every homeowner has a good sense of where their abilities lie and where they lack, so we've put together some general guidelines on which projects you should tackle and which you should leave for the experts.


Some repairs are easy and low risk, but others really require someone who has training and experience. Homeowners might love to save a few dollars, but getting the work done right later or going the hospital because of an injury is actually the more expensive route. There are a few key types of repairs that are best left to the professionals: plumbing, electrical, and HVAC installation and repairs. These are all types of work that could be extremely costly or dangerous if someone who doesn't know what they are doing finishes the work.

Basic Maintenance and Improvement

Although there are some projects that you shouldn't try on your own, there are others that you can complete quite easily without any assistance. These projects are maintenance that every homeowner should know how to do. For instance, there are some projects that you can usually do yourself, such as fixing a leaking faucet. Finding a stud in the wall can also be invaluable when you want to hang something that is a little bit heavier.


New Home Gadgets

Another type of home improvement includes the new home gadgets that so many homeowners are adding to their houses. Home automation systems include all of the newest gadgets that came make your life easier and more comfortable. Many of these devices are easily integrated into the home if you have a little bit of tech savvy. There are a lot of types of ways that you can improve your life with these gadgets, and it's a relatively low-risk project. Unless you need to do some wiring, most devices simply pair with your computer and internet connection. And when you're done, you can do everything from set your lights to flicker when it's time to take the quiche out of the oven to turning on the air conditioner 20 minutes before you're supposed to arrive home from work.


Projects The Increase a Home's Value

There are many types of projects that are relatively simple but increase the value of your home as well as add pleasure to your everyday living. For instance, adding a patio with paving stones will make your backyard more fun to hang out in, and it will show a potential home buyer how they could use the space. This project takes some planning, but it's not something that is difficult or requires expertise. And the only type of injury that you have to worry about is any injuries to your back from the lifting. If you're looking for more ideas on how you can add value to your home, check out this list of the types of projects that get the greatest return on investment. Work from this list to find all of the maintenance and repair projects that you could do.

There are so many projects that you could do around the house, but many people are afraid to do them. Sometimes a little bit of trepidation is valuable and can actually save you immediately or in the long run. If you're concerned about safety or taking on a job that could actually become more expensive when you realize that you're not sure how to do it, do some research and call a professional if you're not sure.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Carol Evenson

4 Easy Ways to Fix Your Yard Before Selling Your Home


With baby #3 on the way, we’ve decided our home is just too small for our growing family. We’ve loved our home and our neighborhood, but there’s no way five of us can fit into a 1200 square foot home and still be sane. Luckily, the inside of our home is in excellent condition with one-year-old carpeting, custom paint, and even upgraded counters. It’s absolutely beautiful inside! The yard, however, is another story...

Unfortunately, this is often the case. The money runs out before landscaping is ever completed or the landscaping already in place is just too hard to maintain. Not everyone has a green thumb, right?! It may not seem like that big of a deal since you don’t live in your yard. Maybe you’ll just let the next owner deal with it… But is that really the best solution?  Your real estate agent informs you that even with an amazing interior, your house--if it sells--will come in at a much lower price than you had hoped. First impressions are very important, and the curb appeal of your home will be the difference between someone taking a look or driving by. So the bottom line is if you’re serious about getting top dollar, you may have to spend a few dollars first.

When sprucing up your yard to appeal to prospective buyers, what are the most important areas to concentrate on?


1. Your lawn.

Prospective buyers will overlook a lot of landscaping issues if your yard is well-maintained. If it’s summer, they are looking for a well-maintained, freshly mowed, lush, green lawn free of dandelions and other weeds. If there are large dead spots, you’ll need to plant grass seed or sod to fill them in.

If you don’t have a green thumb, this is the time to call a professional lawn care service to get your lawn in parade-of-homes condition. A lawn service will be able to deal with your trouble spots and make sure that it makes a great first impression to those potential buyers.


2. Your flower beds.

When sprucing up flower beds, a little dirt under the nails is required--whether it’s your own nails or the teenaged neighbor’s nails--someone is going to need to get dirty. Weeding comes first. Next, comes fresh mulch, wood chips, or colored rock to spread across the flower beds for a clean, fresh look that will provide contrast to your main flower bed attraction: the flowers.

When choosing flowers, pick flowers that will bloom or stay bloomed throughout your projected timeframe for selling your home. Annuals are generally cheapest and stay bright and cheery through most of the growing season.  If you already have annuals that have bloomed and dried up, replace them if possible.The splash of color that the flowers bring will go a long way in bringing beauty to your yard.


3. Your trees and shrubs.

Trees and shrubs are additional areas where professional lawn care services can help. If you don’t think you can safely climb a ladder and handle a chainsaw in one hand while holding a branch in the other, you shouldn’t attempt to cut down dead or stray branches or shape scraggly bushes yourself. Instead, you should spend the money to stay safe and have the job done properly.

Beautifully shaped shrubs and well-trimmed trees add an extra pizzazz and show prospective buyers that you care about your yard.


4. Special yard features.

You may have special features in your yard such as planters, waterfalls, and ponds. If these features don’t add much to your overall landscape design, you may want to consider removing them altogether. If they were hard for you to keep up, they may be hard for future owners as well. In fact, these types of features sometimes turn future owners away for fear of future upkeep.

If these features add beauty and personality to your yard, refill planters with fresh plants after cleaning out the dead material, make sure waterfalls are clean and functioning properly, and be sure that ponds are clean and stocked with fish if desired.

You may also have playground equipment in your backyard. Ask your real estate agent on advice concerning whether or not playground equipment should stay or go; it may be that future owners will welcome it, but there is also a chance they won’t. The final decision will most likely depend on its condition. If it is rundown or detracts from the home and the rest of your yard, consider taking it down and moving it to your new house where your own kids can continue to enjoy it for years to come.

Getting your lawn professionally taken care of, sprucing up your flower beds, trimming your trees and shrubs, and taking a hard look at any special features in your yard are great places to focus your attention when trying to sell your home. None of these fixes require major changes nor are they too expensive, but taking the time and money to focus on them will go a long way toward increasing your curb appeal and helping you sell your home faster and at a more competitive price.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES - by Lindsey Patterson

Oakland County lake homes - setting realistic expectations


Buying an Oakland County lake home is a total different experience for a home buyer in Metro Detroit.  How can that be?  When you buy a regular home in a subdivision or a community in metro Detroit in most cases you are going to find similar homes with similar styles and ages in one neighborhood.  Everything is very similar..... parking, yards, neighbors homes, exteriors of the homes, and even the basic characteristics of the homes.

It is not the way with lake homes.  On most lakes in Oakland County Michigan you are going to find a mixed bag of homes.  You have to remember that our local lakes have been used by metro Detroiters as weekend getaways since the in1920's.  Some homes were built as year round homes for the local residents.  Some were family compounds for the rich and wealthy.  Others were tiny little cottages.  These little cottages many times had no basements, no garages.  They were many times 600 to 800 square feet with just 2 bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a small bathroom on a smaller lot.  There are still some of these little cottages sprinkled around the different lakes in Oakland County.  These little cottages were built from the 1920's to the 1950's.  Many of them were built on smaller lots.  However some of these home owners bought two or three extra lots.

Over the years many of these small cottages have been torn down and newer homes have been rebuilt.  You can tell when they were built many times by the style and size of the homes.  Tri-levels, bi-levels, split levels, and quad- level homes were built in the 70's, bigger colonials and sprawling ranches were built in the 70's to 1990's.  Then you have the shotgun houses.  These are bigger homes that are longer than they are wide.  They were built that way to get a bigger home on a small lot.  Of course there are the big estate homes on large lots with sometimes hundreds of square feet.  

So when a lake home buyer comes to me sometimes they have pre-conceived notions on what they can get and what they want. 

1. Lake homes are more expensive than what a regular home in a subdivision costs.  Depending on the lake, the size of the lake frontage, the lake bottom, and the lot size the same house you could buy in a subdivision could be $100,000 to $450,000 more. So you as an metro Detroit home buyer have to be realistic and realize that lake homes cost significantly more than a regular home.

2. A newer construction home with the modern bells and whistles is very hard to come by.  If they are out there, they command high prices.

3. Many lake homes have odd layouts or different layouts than you are going to be used to. The 1970's or 1980's colonial layout is not common on the lake.  A couple of the reasons why layouts are so different is because many homes have one or more additions to the home.  Many times the homeowners added on because they needed the space.  They home owners did it the least expensive way.  Yes the smart way would have been to change walls, move rooms around, but that costs big money.  The home owner may have just needed an extra bedroom.  Or instead of tearing the porch off and doing a small addition on the lake side, the owner just enclosed the porch.  So the floor slopes and there may be a pillar in the middle of the room because it is supporting the back of the house.

4.)  Many lake homes do not have the open concept, large kitchens, or master bedroom suites.  If they do it may not be perfect.  They may have used a second bedroom to add the master bath or walk in closet.  Once again the layout may be a little unique.  Stairways may be in an out of way spot.  I have seen stairways all the way behind a kitchen, I have seen front doors where you have to zig zag around rooms to get to the living room or kitchen.

5.)  A lakefront home with lots of privacy is going to be rare because many of the lots are smaller.  If you find a private lakefront lot it is going to be a bigger lot and it is going to be pricier.

Bottom line is that a regular style home is going to be rarer on an Oakland County Lake.  A new home built after 1995 or 2000 is going to be rare.  On most lakes in Oakland County, you are going to find that homes are different sizes, styles, and ages.  They may be right next to other.  Lastly, a lake home is going to be more expensive than a regular home. 


Unique Property Upgrades That Increase Value and Add Character


If you own a home, finding ways to make it look great is very important. When you are looking for ways to improve your home, you should consider making improvements that not only will add value, but will increase the charm as well. Doing this will help to make your property a more comfortable and enjoyable place to live while also improving your return on investment.


Think About the Ceiling

When most people start thinking about renovations that they want to make to their property, they naturally start thinking about floors, fixtures, and appliances. While all of these are important, there are other touches that you can make to your home that can add a lot of class and style. One great option would be to upgrade the ceiling of your home. Some great options to do for this could be to install decking to your ceiling, having a fake beam placed, or even doing crown molding. All of these will add a touch of texture and style, which will separate your home from others.


New Hardware

One very simple improvement that you can make to your kitchen or any bathroom would be to add some new hardware to the cabinets. If you have older cabinets in your bathroom and kitchen, there is a lot that you can do to make them look better. Having them resurfaced or painted is one great option. Another idea would be to add some stylish hardware that will help to make them pop. These can add a sense of class make the whole room look better and stand out.


Outdoor Living Space

As you are looking for unique ways to add character and value to your home, another important factor to consider is what you should do with the outside. You will need to make sure that you find ways to improve your outdoor living space. This can include adding a nice place to lounge and relax, such as a new deck or patio. However, you should also consider adding a whole new outdoor kitchen, which can be great for entertaining and cooking good meals. An outdoor kitchen retail store will have all the equipment and fixtures that you need to make your kitchen great.


Improved Lighting

One of the biggest selling points in any home is if it has nice lighting. When you are looking to improve the lighting of your home, there are many ways to go about doing it. One great option would be to add some natural light to the kitchen, bedrooms, or living spaces. You can normally do this by adding some nice new windows. However, if this is not an option, adding some feature lighting from great floor lamps or accent lightings could be a great option. All of these choices will help to improve the design and décor of your home.


New Trim

Finally, when you want to add some style and class to a property, you should also consider adding some new trim or modifying existing trim. There are many ways that you can go about doing this. One great way would be to paint wood trim that is around the doors. Painting a white trim a dark brown will make it look more natural and help it to stand out. Another option would be to add trim around mirrors and other features that appear boring. Doing this could help to make any old fixture in your home standout and impress people who come to your home.

As you are looking to make improvements to your home, you should also consider meeting with a real estate professional to discuss your renovation options. A real estate pro in the area will be able to review all of your options and help you to find one that works best for you. This will take into consideration local trends and features that buyers are looking for in certain price points.

 SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Carol Evenson

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