Crystal's Blog Corner

Don’t Judge a House by its Photo


Judging a property by its photograph may prove expensive when you discard poor photos without knowing if they represent excellent real estate opportunity for you. PJ Wade suggests a time-saving, better way to choose property.

If you spend hours on the internet trying to find your dream home by searching through photos or video of properties, you may be overlooking important flaws in this superficial approach to evaluating real estate.

The big question is: What percentage of time are you incorrect in your decision to discard a property based on a photograph?

Judging a property by its photograph may prove expensive when you discard poor photos without knowing if they represent excellent real estate opportunity for you. Just ask yourself, how many selfies does it take to achieve a great and, therefore, accurate picture of you?

Even when you eventually find photogenic real estate to visit, how many better choices or better bargains did you miss out on because you did not approve their visuals?

 Have you studied photography and earned the advantage of knowing how to evaluate second-rate equipment or poor photographic technique that results in failure to present a home’s good bones or reveal a hidden gem worth a closer look? Even a good photo may present poorly as an online image through bad decisions regarding lighting, resolution, cropping, coloration....

 What percentage of properties are discarded because the photo is unappealing? Listing photos are not intended as works of art. Was this a drive-by photo where the photographer did not get out the car because they had so many photos to take? Was it raining or snowing that day? Just like people, houses have a “good side” and a “bad side.” Which side is in the photo?

 Do you have a magazine or Instagram pic in mind that you are intent on matching? Houses that are beautiful from the curb earn high-value ratings relative to their location, but buyers still need to physically explore inside to fully appreciate the complete package.

 You can’t live in a photograph or even a video. Ideally, a photograph or short video of a property should reveal all the benefits of the buildings and the land. In reality, most photographic representations fall short of this goal. Some are more successful that others, but none are a substitute for experiencing “the big picture” first-hand: the feeling of being there, the volume of rooms, the acoustics of the building, the effects of daylight, the flow through the building…the reality of inspecting the property yourself. In addition, street-face photos cannot reveal interiors that are in marked contrast to facades: a house with a renovated, ultra-modern interior may maintain its historic exterior.

 What percentage of the time are you attracted by a great photo of a house, which you later discover has “a lot of ugly” going on outside the photo i.e. beside the house is a high-rise building, auto body shop, shopping mall, night club…? Or, did you discard a property which, invisible to you, had wonderful green space around it? Since location is the most important value factor in real estate, how
can a photo of a property in isolation enable you to fully evaluate its location value without knowing context?

The above list of flawed reasons for discarding properties based on photographic representations explains how you may allow your lack of knowledge, on many levels, to limit your ultimate success identifying desirable real estate. Select only the “pretty pictures” and you may inadvertently eliminate properties that would be ideal and perhaps less expensive purchases for you and your family.

The Smart Approach

We’re not advising that you view every listed property. Instead, work with experienced real estate professionals who’ll process listings, visit properties using your criteria, and, therefore, save you time by selecting the best prospects for you to view.

Describe what you’ll want in a new home and the professional will converse with you to clarify that description for you and for them. Buyers are often surprised when these conversations reveal how much they had not realized about what they thought they wanted and needed.

Search out a professional who makes it their business to know area product from the outside in. They’ll share their insider view, so you won’t miss out on what could be your dream home. This informed culling of properties will save you from having to view too many properties that are a poor fit for your needs and dreams.

“This house was a big surprise inside; from the outside, it looked much smaller,” is a common buyer observation. Most buyers, particularly first-timers or first-time-in-a-long-time buyers, are not experts at architecture or construction, nor have they inspected as many properties as experienced real estate professionals.

Your secret weapon is your real estate professional who makes it their business to keep up-to-date viewing area listings. They understand the advantages of knowing the whole property and its entire potential, not just its street face. They appreciate the difference between a real estate dream and a home that’s a dream to live in.

Professionals are also aware of smart buying strategies based on poor photos or less inspiring facades. For instance, if you’d like to invest in the best location your budget will allow, there may be advantages to viewing properties in choice neighborhoods with less attractive street faces. When there is value in the location, interior, and backyard, over time the curb view can be improved on, increasing property value in the process.

Online buyers of clothing who rely on photos alone discover that it’s the fit that makes the difference—something only first-hand experience (trying the garment on) settles. Real estate is like that, too. Make sure it fits in all the important ways before you buy.


How to Get Your House Off the Market Quicker


How to Get Your House Off the Market Quicker

Shortening The Time It Takes To Sell Your Home

No homeowner that is trying to sell a home is going to want their house on the market for a long time. The large majority of people that own homes are looking for an opportunity to get these homes sold quickly. A plethora of homeowners have a desire to put the home on the market quickly because they do not want anyone to break in. They want the home to be occupied by someone else once they are no longer inside the home.

Upgrades To Your Home Environment

The reality is that many of these homeowners are going to need a number of security cameras to help them secure the premises while they are trying to get the home off the market. Having wireless security cameras will help in the process of selling the house through the ability to check on the home when you’re not there to make sure no one is loitering on your property. Another factor in helping the selling process is that when potential buyers see these cameras they will see this measure of safety and the benefits of spending money to get the cameras.


Painting Your Home

Another thing that makes potential buyers do a double-take is the paint job. If you have a good paint job you are going to be able to give potential buyers something to think about. There are some people that do not mind painting a home. There are others that could care less about trying to determine which color of paint will be used for the house. That is why painting your home can yield such great results. People that see a freshly painted home tend to consider this more than a home that has not been painted. The paint job makes the home seem newer. It doesn't seem like it is just a home that has been vacated by someone else and passed down with a big clean-up process. The fresh paint makes the home seem more move-in ready.


Curb Appeal

Another big thing that people must do when they are putting their home on the market is take care of the outside of the home. Giving a house that much needed curb appeal with a nicely manicured yard can work wonders. Potential buyers must take an interest in the outside of the home. This is how they become interested in coming into the inside of it. If you don't take care of the outer area of the house it becomes difficult for people to gain any interest in looking inside of it. When a home is inviting on the outside people have a desire to visit. They may be able to envision themselves inside of the home.


It may not be in your budget to repair everything, but you should certainly look at making some repairs. Most people that buy homes are going to be expecting some things to be in working condition. This is just the reality. If you do not take the time to do the repairs potential buyers may find themselves a lot less interested in the home. These buyers may see this home as more work if there are a lot of repairs that are needed.

Fix the things that you know how to fix if you are handy. If you are not that handy you can look for someone else that may have discounted rates on the home. That can be the thing that changes the way that people look at the home when it is time to consider making a bid. A home with a lot of broken items is almost always going to get offers that are less than the asking price. Homeowners that have made efforts to fix the home will be rewarded with better offers on the home.



Here’s the Thing About TV Niches, and Five Ways to Transform Them into Something Better


Here you are touring homes and wondering where all your stuff is going to go, and that TV niche seems like the perfect place to house your television, cable box, gaming systems, and various other components. But it doesn't always work out that way.

We can personally attest to dealing with (more like enduring) a TV niche that was both poorly located and improperly sized. Shoved into the corner of the living room, it suffered from extreme glare coming through floor-to-ceiling, west-facing windows and created an unfortunate scenario in which there was only one good seat in the room: the one directly in front of the TV.

The massive size—and uneven measurements from front to back—also made TV and furniture selection challenging. Nothing ever looked right in there, and it became a constant source of frustration—so much so that we found ourselves not using the room.

Our solution: relocate the TV over the fireplace and turn the niche into a (windowless) window seat. It set us back about $400 for the semi-custom cabinets, the cushion, the peel-and-stick wallpaper and the materials for the top, base, and sides, which were put gogether by a local handyman. You can do it yourself if you’re good with a saw (we like our fingers too much).

Of course, this is just one idea for how to transform an odd, awkward, or unusable TV niche into something decidedly better.

Home office

A TV niche is the perfect spot to tuck in a home office. We love these table tops from IKEA (from just $8.99) that you can attach to the wall for a built-in look. Pick your favorite finish, add a comfy chair, some cute accessories, and a shelf or two plus a dynamic piece of art above, and you’ve got a usable—and attractive—space.


The same shelf you used above the desk can be multiplied to create an area for books, photos, art, and knick-knacks. Whether you want a sleek look with hidden brackets or you like to be able to see the hardware, you’ll find an abundance of super-affordable options at IKEA. We also love these rustic floating shelves from Wayfair that have a lip so the end so your stuff will stay put.


Don’t have good wall space where you can display some favorite art or framed family photos? Now you do! You can use these tips to help you with the layout, and, for added punch, paint or wallpaper the back wall of the niche to really make the art stand out.

Play area

DJ booth. Hair salon. Spaceship. Kitchen. Art studio. There are so many ways you can turn an unused or underappreciated space into a masterpiece for kids and inspire their creativity. Of course, it helps if you don’t mind it being the centerpiece of your living space! If you do, a pair of curtains you can close or a couple of sliding doors will help keep everything under wraps.


Sellers: Adopting a “Buyer Frame of Mind”


When you list your property for sale, you may find the most difficult part of the listing process is shifting your thinking from “my home” to “the buyer’s new home.”

Your real estate professional will help with this mental transition and ultimately you’ll benefit from embracing this shift. The sooner you let go of obsessing about “your home” and start concentrating on what buyers in this market and this price range will spend their money on, the easier and more lucrative selling your home will be.

Embrace The Buyer Perspective

You probably selected your listing professional and brokerage based on what you believe they know about getting you the best deal. During the listing presentation, they brought you up-to-date on current local buyer patterns. This was intended to demonstrate their understanding of local market trends and their knowledge of how to connect with qualified buyers.

Don’t be shy about returning to that conversation. Learn more about those shopping in your neighborhood for homes like yours. What exactly do they want and what don’t they want.

Whether your experts use the National Association of REALTORS®(NAR) annual Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report to illustrate selling points or statistics provided by their brokerage or Real Estate Board, you will learn a lot when you are introduced to the substance behind their marketing plan.

For instance, millennials represent a significant segment of buyers in many markets. If your real estate is already a millennial magnet, you and your professional team have a good chance of reinforcing this “hot” vibe. This marketing activity may materialize as an even great selling price with seller-favoring terms.

What can you do to help with Step One, which is getting buyers inside your real estate, so they can fall in love with the property?

The majority of today’s buyers shop the internet before they contact a real estate professional. This means a stellar online presence–photos, videos, accurate information–is essential to gaining buyer attention and enticing them inside your real estate:

 Videos and photos are only as good as the subject, so your help preparing your real estate to shine is vital. Curb appeal has to be there for a photo to capture this allure. A must-get-inside street face has to exist to have buyers click or swipe for more details on your real estate treasure. Think ahead if possible since some curbside beautification takes time. For instance, if you expect to sell in the spring, planting a lot of spring bulbs during the previous fall will be a great investment.
 No one knows your real estate as well as you do, so you may see linkages that wouldn’t occur to someone looking on. Suggesting benefits evident in other seasons may be useful content in marketing literature or during home tours. For instance, as the summer sun shifts between buildings, I can watch the sunrise from my front deck–one of my favorite ways to start the day. What’s special about living in your real estate?
 Most buyers would like a brand-new home, but they can only afford or find a resale. How can you make your home seem brand-new to buyers? Thorough cleanups, freshening up with paint, and repair of the unsightly all add up to a good first impression, inside and out. You’ve gotten used to building defects, but friends and your real estate team will help you see the flaws if you have an open mind–buyer’s mindset.
 Most buyers are moving to get more space. Empty closets, storage areas, and the garage, so it is evident there is room to spare. Remove extra furniture and “stuff” so rooms are visibly larger. Listen to your real estate professional. You’re going to move anyway, so get an early start.
 Staging of interiors translates interior potential into visual proof that this is exactly what buyers are looking for. Generating “That’s our style!” or “I can see myself here” buyer reactions should be the goal. Your real estate professional can demonstrate how, in your area, this transformation can impact on the bottom line.
 Get used to the idea that you and your family will be inconvenienced. This starts before the house goes on the market and lasts until it’s sold. Everything is about selling the “buyers new home” to them.

Power-Up Negotiation

Sellers benefit from understanding that negotiations for the sale of their real estate begin as soon as the listing is signed, not when an offer to purchase is presented.

• Your real estate professional–your negotiator–is steadily working toward negotiations. Generating offers to purchase is an important step along the way. Ask about their strategies for doing this.

• Because you are not a trained real estate professional, any conversation or email exchange you have directly with buyers could undermine your professional’s selling strategies. Your casual “oh, sure, no problem” response to a buyer’s request for something or question concerning closing date or what you’ll include in the sale, may cut into your negotiating position on the big day. Usually, direct contact between buyers and sellers is kept to a minimum for that reason.

• Remove any “must keep” items like dining room fixtures, family heirlooms, or big screen TVs before the home is shown. Help buyers concentrate on what they’ll receive, not get fixated on what they won’t.

• During a showing or an open house, your attempts to “sell” a buyer on the attributes of your yard or living room may put-off the buyer. Since buying connections are emotional, it takes an expert at reading the signs to know what to say and how to say it. Get out of the house–you, your family, and pets–when your property is shown to buyers. How can they feel free to voice their feelings and visualize this as their home when you’re sitting right there? Or worse, if you’re along for the house tour?

• Prepare for offer presentation by working out what you could do to move quickly if the right price appeared. What dates, if any, are essential to you? Find out what moving after those deadlines would cost you. That knowledge may help keep closing date in perspective during negotiations.

If you are concerned that your real estate professional is not doing everything they said they would, when they said they would, call them on this. “Time on market” is a crucial factor for achieving the best sale price. Wasting time means wasting your money.


Making Your New Home Safe For Your Family


So, you’ve found your dream house and moved in – it’s an exciting time! You can finally have everything just the way you want it… Whether you’ve moved into a brand-new house or to one that previously belonged to a family, you need to put some precautions in place. We’re sure you’ve taken a look at all the big stuff before buying it – the foundation, paperwork, structure, neighborhood and mold. You’ve got your insurance and you’re ready to move!

But there are several other concerns that need your attention to keep you and your family safe.

Change the locks

This home is new to you, but the previous owners may have passed on spare keys to their neighbors, relatives or close friends. Even if it’s a brand new house, the builder may have handed a key to a handyman or worker during the construction stage. To be safe, get all the locks changed and distribute spares only to those you trust.

Install a security system

Even in safe neighborhoods, a security system is a good precaution to take. You can decide whether you want a high-tech one with all the bells and whistles or if you’re happy with a few cameras and security lights. Depending on your lifestyle and your family, choose features that you need.

Get to know your neighbors

Neighbors are invaluable allies. They can easily keep an eye on your place but if you’re new to the neighbourhood, they probably won’t know the difference between a stranger at your door and a friend. Stop by for a chat and get to know them, introduce your family and keep the relationship cordial.

Case the joint

Think like an intruder and identify weak points in and around your home. You can then take appropriate measures to fortify these areas and prevent intruders from entering your home.

Give it a once over

Go around the entire house, checking to see that doors and windows open, close and lock as they should. Check for loose wires from electric outlets or loose floorboards and so on. Make a list of everything that needs to be fixed and either fix them yourself or have a handyman do it. But make sure they’re all taken care of as soon as possible, this goes a long way in preventing accidents.

Outdoor safety

If you have a garden or a backyard, give it a thorough once over to make sure nothing dangerous lurks in the bushes. Danger doesn’t necessarily have to be a creepy crawly or an animal. It could be sprinklers that haven’t been set in the lawn properly, a rusty gate or fence. Check the fence or wall around your property to make sure there are no weak points.


Many people like to have gravel below low windows as noise protection. If an intruder tries to get in that way, the crunching of the gravel will give it away and you’ll be able to hear them. A sensor-triggered alarm placed by the window may be louder.

Keeping the plant life in your garden trimmed ensures that there are no dark spots where intruders can hide. Trim branches that could otherwise give an intruder easy access to your home via a window.

Check smoke detectors

Don’t assume that the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms that the previous owners have left behind are in good working condition, check them. They may be very old and need a change of batteries. You can buy 10 year batteries to avoid this cropping up every 12 months.

Dryer vents

Check that the important appliances like the stove, gas pipes and dryer vents are all working smoothly. If any of the wiring looks old, replace it. Electrical fires because of worn out wiring are common and happen without warning. Hot dryer exhaust needs to be let outside and the end point should be clear of dryer lint. Add this to your list of things to check routinely.

Install lights in all the right places

Intruders prefer to break in when it’s dark and they are less likely to be seen. So, even at night, have a well-lit porch and back door. You could also put in place lights that can be triggered by movement so you can catch any unwelcome visitors by surprise. Make sure your house number is clearly visible so that emergency services can find you easily. Put timers on the lights in some rooms to make it look like someone is home even if you’re running late. Intruders are less likely to try and enter a house when someone is home. This is also useful when you go on holiday.

Get Your Insurance Sorted

Protect your investment with house insurance. Most policies will cover your old property until you exchange with the purchaser, and the new one from when you exchange with the seller. But if there is any overlap in the dates, you should definitely check that both properties are covered during this time.

Every home is different and so you should look around yours carefully to ensure that you’ve taken care of everything. If you want a pair of fresh eyes, get a friend to look over the house with you, he or she may spot something you missed. Taking a few days to get these precautions right will help make sure that your new home is safe for your family.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by James Stevenson

10 Hot Kitchen Design Trends Stolen from Restaurant Kitchens!


Not all kitchen design trends stand the test of time, but a restaurant kitchen is meant to be as functional as possible for as long as possible. Taking a few details and cues from restaurant kitchens can help you to create a residential kitchen renovation plan that you’re sure to love for years to come!

If you’re planning a residential kitchen remodel, you might take some time to check out commercial kitchens and how they’re planned and designed before you decide on your own kitchen renovation details. To help you along, the kitchen design and remodeling experts at San Diego Kitchen Renovation Pros have shared ten of the hottest details stolen from restuarant kitchens that are favorites with their remodeling clients. Be sure to work at least a few of these into your upcoming kitchen remodeling plans as well!

1. Forget the Island in Your New Kitchen Design!

A kitchen island allows for lots of prep space and storage but a solid island can also make even a large space seem cramped and crowded. A work table in place of the kitchen island still provides plenty of room to work as well as shelving underneath for storing what you need at your fingertips, but those open shelves also keep the kitchen more spacious.

If you’re planning a small kitchen makeover, consider a work table in place of an otherwise oversize island. A metal work table is also an excellent choice in monochrome kitchens or those with lots of wood cabinets, to add some visual appeal and break up the look of all that wood.

2. Add a Stainless Steel Backsplash

Stainless steel doesn’t absorb germs and microbes and is also very fire-resistant, which is why it’s long been a popular material for appliances. Its density and durability is also why commercial kitchens often include a stainless steel backsplash! Why not consider the same in your upcoming kitchen renovation plans, for a surface that’s easy to clean and that coordinates with any kitchen style?

3. Hang Utensil Rods

Rarely do restaurant kitchens keep utensils in drawers, as this is a surefire way to create a cluttered, jumbled mess! Even if your residential kitchen remodeling plans include drawers with sorters and separators, it’s still an excellent idea to utilize utensil rods from which you can hang hooks and then all your utensils. A utensil rod or two will keep all your kitchen tools organized, in plain sight, and close at hand.

4. Install a Magnetic Knife Strip

Along with utensil rods, many commercial kitchens include magnetic strips along walls for holding chef’s knives. Attaching a knife blade to a magnetic strip on the wall reduces the risk of cutting yourself while rooting around in a drawer for a knife, and also allows you to easily see each knife blade type and size. A magnetic knife strip also opens up space in the drawers and reduces the need for a bulky knife block on the countertop.

5. Use Wire Shelving in Your Kitchen Design

If your kitchen pantry has standard painted wood shelves, it’s time to get rid of them in favor of wire shelving! Wire shelves allow for air circulation around your stored foodstuffs, reducing damaging heat and humidity, and don’t need cleaning as often as standard wood shelves. Open wire shelves also allow you to see items stacked in the back of the shelves easily, making them an excellent option for your residential kitchen remodel!

6. Add Lighting Over the Prep Space

Your residential kitchen remodeling plans should include beautiful overhead lighting, to enhance the look of your new space and give it an upscale style and appeal. However, in commercial restaurants, pendant lights are often placed over specific prep spaces, to ensure a chef can read cookbooks and food orders and see what they’re cooking! Talk to your kitchen renovation contractor about adding pendant lights or spotlights over your new work table or directly over the cooktop, for added ambience and increased functionality in the kitchen.

7. Make Room for a Rolling Prep Cart

Rolling bar carts are popular accessories to add to a dining space, but many commercial kitchens feature rolling prep carts in the kitchen as well. A rolling prep cart allows you to easily move your food ingredients, bulky containers, and other items from one part of the kitchen to the other, without having to carry hot dishes and without the risk of dropping anything. If your upcoming kitchen renovation doesn’t include a center island or work table, be sure to ask your kitchen remodel contractor about a coordinating rolling prep cart for the space.

8. Install an Open Shelf Over the Stovetop

Many commercial kitchens feature an open shelf or two over the stovetop, for holding pots and pans, spices, timers, and even a recipe or prep instructions if needed! Consider asking your kitchen contractor about an open shelf over your new stovetop, for added convenience and to break up the look of a long, large wall behind the stove.

9. Use Chalkboard Paint in Your Residential Kitchen Remodel

Restaurant cooks and other staff need to be informed of so much ever-changing information that they often rely on a chalkboard wall, on which they might note the day’s specials, if certain supplies are low, and so on. Keep yourself and your family organized with the same! A residential kitchen renovation might include a full wall of chalkboard paint, to keep track of grocery lists and daily schedules or to give children something to do while food is being cooked.

10. Add a Compact Dishwasher

A commercial chef or line cooks often cannot wait for all the dishes in the restaurant to be washed before they need to use a certain knife or cookware. Restaurants also tend to use up all their glassware very quickly, so many commercial kitchens feature small, compact dishwashers near the cooking area, for a quick clean of items needed in a hurry. Your residential kitchen design might also feature such an appliance, for washing small loads or for quickly rinsing and cleaning items such as drinking glasses.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Stephen Jones

How to Buy Your First Home


Buying a home is an exciting life event that most people never forget. If you do not know what you are doing you can make some mistakes that can have major consequences. But with the right amount of information and a good head on your shoulders you will not regret your first home purchase.

Set yourself up for success by using these five tips when buying a house:

Repair and Build Your Credit

This is a step that has to be done before you start negotiating rates and looking at houses. If you have a lot of debt to pay off you will need to start paying it off or find some way to repair your credit. You want a good credit score because that will allow you to get better rates on a mortgage.

If you do not own a credit card you will want to get a credit card. You can start out with a nice credit card for beginners that will not cost you anything. All you have to do is pay off the credit card monthly. Use it for purchases that you would normally make such as gas and rent. Instead of using your debit card or cash use your credit card and pay it off on time.   


Down Payment

To buy a house most people need to take out a mortgage, which is a loan specifically meant to buy a house. Most people will not be able to pay 200,000 plus dollars in one payment so they take out a mortgage and pay that off throughout the years.

You are going to need some kind of down payment to get the mortgage that you want. Typically anywhere from a 15 to 20 percent down payment is what banks and lenders are looking for when issuing a mortgage. There are zero percent down mortgages but, as with any loans, there are pros and cons to them.


Find a Realtor

You do not have to have a realtor but a lot of people do not know a lot about home buying so they hire a real estate agent. There are perks of using a real estate agent such as not having to deal with a lot of the paperwork. Real estate agents are great if you are too busy to do all of the nitty gritty work of buying a house. They are also great if you are brand new and not really sure what to do.


Attend Open Houses

Having a realtor allows you to go to open houses that they are putting on. They can also give you places that have good homes that fit your personal preferences. This could include buying a new home versus a used home. Figure out if you want a large home with a yard or a small apartment in a quiet neighborhood.

If you don’t have a realtor you will have to do some searching on your own. This could include using search engines to look for open houses for new homes Austin or open houses for used homes in Texas. Driving around a neighborhood or town where you want to live is also a good way to find out what houses are for sale.


Sign Paperwork and Lock Down Rates

After you get approved and after you find a house this means a lot of signing paperwork. Look at what each place needs before you go and sign papers. You will need to bring different forms of identification and maybe some past bills for proof of residency and payment.

Having your information ready to go shows that you are on top of everything and this will help speed the process up and help you lock down low rates on mortgage payments.  

Buying a house is a lot of work and will not happen overnight. Start making some small changes in your life and start saving for your first home. Soon you will make your dream of being a proud homeowner a reality.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES by Craig Middleton

Designing the Perfect Home


Want to Design The Perfect Home? Consider These Aspects

Dreaming Big


Everyone wants to think that their home is perfect. However, unless you built your home from the ground-up, then it's likely not exactly perfect for you. For those who are answering the challenge of designing the perfect home, it can be easy to get too carried away with the bells and whistles. When it comes to the perfect home there are really only a few aspects that you need to get absolutely right. Everything else is just details to make the home custom to you. So, if you want to make sure that your design fits the 'perfect' category, consider these aspects.


1. Vaulted Ceilings

All of the perfect homes tend to have one thing in common. They all have vaulted ceilings. This is because no one wants to walk into a home and feel cramped. Your home can have quite a small square foot size and still feel huge if it has vaulted ceilings. With this increase in vertical size comes another aspect, too. Whenever you look at a home in a magazine during the holidays, they're always decked out with beautiful directions. One of those decorations is always a 12 foot Christmas tree. This makes the home reach mansion level. Even if it isn't the actual size of a mansion, seeing a huge Christmas tree that is ornately decorated in their large living room makes it feel as such. Those vaulted ceilings of your home can also boast this large tree and make it appear stately.


2. Large Shower/Tub

Another staple for a perfect home is to have a large shower or tub. Even having both isn't a bad idea. This also means that the bathroom, itself, should be large and bright. Part of this can be done by using skylights to allow natural light to flood the room. Bright rooms always feel far larger than they actually are. The room can also be made to feel brighter by using whites, greys, and light blues on the walls, floors, and for your sink counters. In regards to the large shower and tub, however, these have to be wide and easy to access. After a long day at work, your tub, especially, could be the key place for you to relax and unwind.


3. Outdoor Entertainment Space

While you can certainly entertain in your home, a perfect house always has a place outside for entertainment. You don't necessarily need a pool either. While pools can be a great place for friends and family to play and relax, it isn't necessary for a perfect home. You might instead want to put your money towards an outdoor bar and fire pit area. Fire pits, especially, have become a beloved addition for many families. Not only do they offer an intimate space to gather around and connect, but you can also use them to cook food with delicious smoke-laced flavor. In regards to a bar, on those sunny and warm summer days, you can throw a party in your backyard and serve your friends from behind the bar. This bar area should also be filled with comfortable furniture. At least some portion of the bar area should be covered, too. This is to offer your guests a reprieve from the sun as well as ensure that your furniture and bar area are protected from the weather.


4. Smart Technology

One final aspect of designing your home to be perfect is to implement smart technology. This isn't just to make your home appear fancy, but it also serves a practical purpose. It makes your life a lot easier. You can control your home with just a few button pushes on your phone no matter where you are.

Designing the perfect home can be easier than you realize. These aspects should be considered to ensure your home falls under that category.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Carol Evenson

8 questions to ask a Realtor BEFORE you hire them


Selling a home can be an emotional experience and high-stakes experience, but most home sellers only ask a potential Realtor a couple of questions; how much is my home worth and what’s your commission? But every real estate agent offers a different combination of skills, experience, value and personality that can help determine the experience and success you will have when selling your home.

How long have you been a Realtor and what’s your experience?

This one seems like a no-brainer, but that’s what makes it so easy to overlook. While the obvious decision may be to go with the most experienced real estate agent, there may be some advantages to hiring a new realtor instead. Someone who is newly licensed or new to your area may have fewer listings and more time to dedicate to selling your home. In this case, solid mentorship is key, which brings us to our next point…

Tell me about your agency and the broker you work with most closely.

Whether you’re working with a seasoned pro or the new kid on the block, a brokerage can have a big impact on your agent’s ability to sell your home. Your Realtor has chosen to work with this brokerage for a reason after all! Some brokerages have hundreds of agents working under one roof while others are more boutique and allow for a greater level of mentorship and support from the managing broker and staff.


How do you market your listings?

There’s a difference between homes that are listing on the MLS system and homes that are actively marketed. How does your real estate agent intend to get your home sold quickly and for top dollar? Will they host an open house? How will they make sure that people come out if they do?

Do they take listing photos with their phone, have a professional camera, or hire a photographer for the listing? A dark and grainy photo isn’t going to inspire anyone to pick up the phone and schedule a viewing. In fact, bad real estate photos are so prominent that entire websites are devoted to showcasing the photo fails.

Are you a full-time Realtor?

There are hundreds of thousands of real estate agents who are licensed in North America, which means that there isn’t always enough business to go around. For some, real estate is a part-time job rather than a full-time career. Ideally, you want to work with a Realtor who is dedicated to their profession and focused solely on their clients.

Will I be able to review all paperwork before signing?

You’re going to be asked to sign legally-binding contracts and agreements throughout the selling process, so be sure that you can take the time you need to review them. If you have any questions or something doesn’t make sense, ask your real estate agent.

How do you keep in touch with your clients?

It’s a new era and there are lots of different ways to communicate with your agent when you’re trying to sell your house or condo. Some agents prefer to communicate by phone while others are more comfortable with text or email. The best agents will do their best to adapt and communicate in the way that you prefer and will offer regular updates – even if the update is just that there’s nothing new to report.

Will I be working with you directly?

Some Realtors work as part of a team or have an assistant that may be in contact with you. While there isn’t anything particularly wrong with this approach, you do want to know in advance whether the person you hire is going to be the person who answers your calls. If your agent has an assistant, ask whether they are licensed or unlicensed. An unlicensed assistant isn’t supposed to give you real estate advice as they don’t have their professional training.

What are my home’s flaws?

No matter how fabulous your home is, there is always going to be something that buyers won’t love. This could be anything from your bright purple bedroom to the odd kitchen layout or even the huge tree in the front yard (you see a beautiful, shady spot to read and buyers see a mess of leaves and pollen). A great Realtor will be respectfully honest with you and let you know in advance where they see potential issues or drawbacks.

Hiring a Realtor isn’t always a matter of a simple phone call, but this isn’t a simple business either. Take your time and work with someone who is going to make your experience as smooth as possible while maintaining their professionalism.


Great Exterior Tips for Selling Properties


Selling a home is one of the most challenging and stressful parts of the homeownership process. When you are looking to sell your home, there are many tips that should be followed that can help you to sell your home faster and at a better price. There are also a variety of tips that can help to improve the exterior and curb appeal of your property, which should help to make your home look great.

Make Minor Repairs

One of the easiest and affordable things that you could do to improve the overall curb appeal of your home would be to make minor repairs to your property. If you have some past due maintenance needs or other repairs, making these repairs before you list your home for sale would be a great option. Any past due maintenance and repair needs will look like red flags to a potential buyer and making these repairs yourself could go a long way.

Clean Up Landscaping

When you are looking to improve the exterior of your home, one of the most important things that you need to do is clean up your landscaping. One of the biggest turnoffs that can occur when someone sees a new home is a landscaping plan that looks messy and disheveled. Not only will it look like a big project, but it would also hurt the overall curb appeal of the property. Because of this, you should spend cleaning up your landscaping all over the home before listing it for sale.

Pressure Wash

Nobody wants to move into a property that looks dirty and messy. Because of this, you should do everything you can to make the exterior of your home look as clean as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to use a pressure washer to clean all of your siding and walkways. This will help to make your entire home look fresh and clean and will give great curb appeal. When using a pressure washer, you need to make sure that you use the right setting for your type of exterior walls.

Pool Installation

Depending on where you live, one of the best things that you could do to your home would be to install a pool. A new pool will not only help to improve your outdoor living space, but it will give a great place to entertain. If you have a pool already, you may want to have it repaired and give it a face-lift. Both of these options will help to improve the overall appearance. When hiring swimming pool contractors, residents will be able to receive some additional ideas that could be used to make the pool look more attractive.

Structural Repairs

If you are selling your home, all of the potential buyers will likely want to have a home inspection completed. Because of this, you should look out for things inside and outside of your own could be alarming to buyers. For the exterior of the home, one of the biggest things that you should look for are structural concerns. If there are any structural issues that you see, you should hire a professional to examine them. This could help to prevent your home sale from falling apart during the inspection process.


If you have lighting on the exterior of your property, you should make sure that it is functional and turned on. This will help to ensure that your lighting system is working right. If you have a visitor at night, it will also give a great curb appeal improvement to any buyer.

When you are looking to improve the landscaping and overall exterior of your home, you should consider the individual needs of your property. A local real estate professional should be able to provide you with a fair assessment of your property to get you a better sense of what needs to be done.

SOURCE: REALTY TIMES- by Vincent Stokes

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