Author Archives: James Silver

5 Easy Improvements to Get Your Home Guest-Ready for the Holidays

This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.

Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.

Chances are, you’re busy enough get ready for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.

Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.

Light the way

The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit.

If you have a large front yard, focus on the entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights or replace the bulbs if needed. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.

On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.

Pro tip: The easiest way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!

Take care of the bottom line

Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.

Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, make sure your floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.

Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair so they have time to dry fully.

Brighten up your bathroom

If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!

Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.

Pro tip: Get the buildup out of a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.

Tune up kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a big family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.

Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, and check to see that the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.

Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.

Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.

Make your space kid-friendly

If you make your home welcoming for children, you’ll ensure their parents have a great time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, think about adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable and alleviate kid boredom.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
  • Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons and some comfy pillows or throws.
  • One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.

Pro tip: If you don’t have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.

Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drill’s home improvement videos

About the author

SEE JANE DRILL

See Jane Drill has been teaching and empowering homeowners to take care of their own homes since 2013. With easy-to-follow tutorials and detailed explanations on a wide variety of home repairs, they encourage everyone, including beginners, to become a DIY-er and save money! They produce a new DIY video every week. Follow See Jane Drill on YouTube and Facebook.

 

Four Options for Your Home After a Move to Assisted Living

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo via Pixabay

Making the decision to move into an assisted living facility is never easy; there are so many details to think about, from getting your finances in order to figuring out how the actual move will go. Not only that, but it can also be stressful or overwhelming to think about the lifestyle change that will inevitably come with a downsize. With all the considerations you have to make, the last thing you want to do is worry about what will happen to your current home. Fortunately, there are some options available to you, which we’ll explore below.

Prepare Your Home for Sale

Selling a home is a big job, but if it’s the best option for your needs, it’s important to find a realtor who can look at your space and let you know which changes need to be made in order to make a quick sale. Even if your home is sparkling clean and well-kept, there may be some updates that would attract more buyers or small repairs that could affect the sale price. So, create a to-do list that will be easy for your loved ones or professionals to follow, and remember that a good realtor won’t tell you what you want to hear; instead, they’ll let you know the best moves to sell your home quickly and for the best price.

Rent It Out

Turning your home into a rental is a great way to earn extra income, which could help you pay for your stay in assisted living or build up your retirement nest egg. If you live in an area that is close to attractions, such as downtown nightlife, the beach, or a well-known spot such as an arena, you might think about renting out your home to vacationers. Otherwise, you could turn your house into a rental for long-term tenants. Keep in mind that these changes will require different insurance and that you’ll likely need help from a close friend or loved one who can assist you with bookings and collecting payments.

Keep It in the Family

If your home has been in the family for a long time, or if you want to start new traditions with your loved ones, consider leaving it to a responsible party. There are some legal issues to consider, so talk to your family to ensure the details are ironed out before you move. You might create a living trust, or if you want ownership to transfer after your passing, make a note of it in your will. This is especially important if you are leaving the property to more than one person.

Make Decisions About Your Belongings

No matter what you decide to do with your home, you’ll likely have many belongings that won’t fit in your new place, or there might be a few things that you simply don’t need anymore. To start decluttering, go through your items and think about which ones can be donated, trashed, or sold; those things with sentimental value that you’re just not ready to let go of can be taken to a storage unit for safekeeping. This way, you don’t have to make a decision right away, and if you decide later on that you want to keep them, they’ll be in good hands until. Keep in mind that the overall average price of a self-storage unit in Troy over the last 180 days was $84.52. Also, keep in mind that if you have any large items, you may need to hire movers to transport them to your storage facility, which could easily run you between $90 and $120 per hour.

Making decisions about your home can be emotional and difficult. Even if you feel ready to make a move, it can be overwhelming to think about making such a big life change. So, look for support from your family members and friends during this time, and start as early as possible so the transition won’t be so jarring.

7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling

Take your kitchen forward without setting yourself back too much.

Kitchen renovations require time and money, often taking several months to complete and costing tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t have the financial resources for a full-on renovation, there are a variety of ways you can give your kitchen a new look for a lot less. From refacing cabinets to replacing lighting, a few cosmetic tweaks can give you the kitchen you’ve always wanted.

Cabinets

Many homeowners are turning to kitchen refacing as an easy way to update their cabinets. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawers and hardware and covering the entire exterior of the cabinets in a brand-new veneer. If you’re happy with the layout and function of your kitchen, but aren’t so keen on the aesthetic feel, consider cabinet refacing.

“It’s for people who have kitchens from the ’70s and ’80s that have solid wood cabinets,” says interior designer Anna León, who has a background in kitchen refacing with Home Depot. “They can take off the original doors and put on modern doors.”

The cost, which typically starts at around $6,000, depends on the size of the kitchen and the materials used. With an array of options available — such as woodgrains, painted wood and pressure-fused laminate doors like Thermofoil — you can transform a kitchen’s facade easily. Contemporary Thermofoil doors also come in a variety of fun looks, including glossy, matte and woodgrain.

While a full kitchen gut and renovation may take several months to complete, cabinet resurfacing typically takes three to five days.

Painting cabinets is more affordable than refacing, costing around $3,000 to $5,000 for a professional to do the job, according to León.

Or, you can always DIY, which is the most affordable option, but it’s laborious and takes a great deal of time.

“Painting cabinets is great, but it’s all about the prep work,” says Richmond, VA-based interior decorator Lesley Glotzl. “You have to prep and paint them perfectly or they’re going to chip or peel. You can’t cut any corners.”

Photo from Zillow listing.

Backsplash

Creating a new backsplash is an easy way to freshen up your kitchen. Be sure to choose a timeless material that will complement your cabinetry, and avoid mixing styles and periods. For instance, if you have ’70s-era cabinetry, you won’t want to pair that with something trendy like subway tile.

If you’re a confident DIYer, tile your backsplash. Or for $20, you can paint it in a bold high-gloss paint that you can easily wipe down after cooking.

In Glotzl’s home, she installed a beadboard backsplash and painted it in a high-gloss blue.

Shiplap is an affordable and durable option as well, and it’s not difficult to DIY. Glotzl also recommends using vinyl wallpapers from companies like Osborne & Little as a backsplash, as they come in an array of fun textures, colors and patterns.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Countertops

For countertops, head to your local stone yard and choose a granite at the lower end of the price range. Formica — a more affordable option than natural stone — has a lot of cool countertop options in patterns like Greek key or textures like barn wood or grasscloth.

If you’re short on counter space and aren’t looking to add more cabinetry, consider buying a premade island or bar-height table that you can float in the center of your kitchen.

Or, if you have a more contemporary kitchen, consider purchasing a stainless-steel food prep table from a restaurant supply company. Just make sure you have at least 36 inches between the cabinets and island on all sides for easy traffic flow, advises Glotzl.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Shelving

If your cabinets don’t have lip molding on the interior, remove cabinet doors to create open shelving and show off your beautiful serving dishes.

Or, if you have an empty wall, create your own shelving system with floating shelves from a retailer such as Pottery Barn or IKEA. Just be sure you install brackets underneath the shelves if you plan on loading them up with dishes and cooking wares. Glotzl recommends Van Dyke’s Restorers for shelving support.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Lighting

Lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of any room. Tear out harsh fluorescent lighting and replace it with can lights.

Make food prep easier by having an electrician install under-cabinet halogen fixtures or ambient Light Tape. Over the kitchen sink is the perfect place for a statement piece like a sculptural pendant light.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Pulls and knobs

If you’re going the cabinet-refacing route, you’ll have plenty of new pulls and knobs to ponder. You can find them at online retailers or local shops.

If you’re painting your cabinets — or even if you’re not — new pulls and knobs can go a long way toward creating a new look in your kitchen. This simple solution is one that works particularly well for renters.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Appliances and plumbing

Dated appliances paired with updated cabinetry will make your kitchen feel incomplete. New stainless-steel appliances are the finishing touch. For less than $500, you can get a new stainless-steel electric range; for less than $700, a brand-new top-freezer refrigerator.

“Compared to everything else you have to do, it ends up feeling like pocket change,” says León.

You can easily update your faucet for under $100 (although, of course, you could spend a lot more). And a new farmhouse sink could be yours for less than $400.

Photo from Zillow listing.

About the author

MARISSA HERMANSON

As a freelance writer who spends most of her time working from home, Marissa Hermanson has a deep appreciation for the household and the time and effort people put into personalizing their spaces. Her stories have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Forbes Travel Guide, The Knot, Ski Magazine, Southern Living, among other publications. You can follow her on Twitter at @MarissaMoomaw or her website.

How to Throw the Perfect Pumpkin-Carving Party

Gather some gourds, and invite your favorite witches and ghouls over for a little Halloween fun.

Nothing says Halloween like carved pumpkins, festive treats and fun costumes. Try these tips for throwing the perfect pumpkin-carving party with all your friends.

1. Create a casual atmosphere

Head out to the backyard, set up a few long folding tables with tablecloths and let the fall atmosphere be your decor. Play some music to get the party started.

2. Assemble a self-serve buffet

Don’t worry about serving a full meal that creates a lot of work for you. Instead, set up a self-serve buffet stocked with enough goodies for the evening, so you can enjoy the party. Think of a few simple savory dishes, add some fun and festive sweets — you’ve got it covered. Include a drink station with a few options in dispensers. Label them, set up a stack of glasses and let your guests enjoy.

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3. Set up carving stations

Arrange a simple but structured carving station so your guests can enjoy the main event. Stock a table with an assortment of carving templates for those who want something other than the traditional jack-o’-lantern face. Don’t forget tape — you’ll need to hold the templates in place while you carve.

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On other tables, place cute buckets your guests can scoop the pumpkin seeds and pulp into. Then put out smaller containers to hold the carving utensils. Just add some pumpkins and you’ve provided everything your guests will need.

4. Hold a carving contest

What good would pumpkin carving be without a little friendly competition? Have some judges and a variety of prizes on hand for the event. Think outside the box with the awards and go beyond just the “Best Pumpkin.” Think in terms of “Most Creative,” “Most Adventurous,” “Scariest” and so on.

5. Commemorate the evening

All that hard work should be documented! Make sure you gather up the carved masterpieces for a group shot at the end of the evening, and don’t forget to share the party photos with your guests after the fact.

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Get out those pumpkins, set the tables and crank up the music for the best pumpkin-carving party around.

Need some more inspiration? Check out our video tutorial for easy ways to make your space spooky in no time.

 

About the author

LINDSAY JACKMAN

Lindsay Jackman is the stylist and designer behind The White Buffalo Styling Co. She believes that beauty can be found in the everyday and encourages her readers to continue on their personal journeys of style discovery! On her blog, she shares all things from entertaining and styling tips to simple DIYs and renovation advice, all with a daily dose of style.

12 Tasks to Tackle This Fall

Cooler weather is coming — prep your home for its arrival while it’s still nice outside.

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks, and leaves are falling from the trees.

Yep, it’s official: Fall is here. Now’s the time to finish up any pre-winter maintenance projects and get your home and yard ready.

Take care of these 12 tasks to get your home clean, warm and cozy for the cool days to come.

Exterior prep

1. Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt

Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.

2. Clean out the gutters

No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on.

While you’re up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar and repair it by tuck-pointing, if needed.

3. Turn off outdoor plumbing

Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.

4. Start composting

If you don’t already have compost bins, now’s the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!

5. Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools

It may not yet be time to put them away, but go ahead and clean your outdoor furniture and gardening tools so they’re ready for storage over the winter.

6. Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers

Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.

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Interior prep

7. Prepare your furnace for winter duty

If you didn’t already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At a minimum, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before you start using it on a daily basis.

8. Clean the fireplace and chimney

Clean out the fireplace, inspect the flue, and ensure the doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now’s also the time to stock up on firewood!

9. Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside

Inspect your windows and doors. Check weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn’t doing its job.

Also, now’s the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings, if needed.

10. Light the way

Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.

Add lighting to darker spaces with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

11. Create a mudroom

Even if you don’t have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now’s a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a “mudroom” area for cold and wet weather.

Put down an indoor-outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack or storage bench for your entryway.

12. Home safety check

Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for daylight saving time.

Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so you’re ready for any winter power outages.

Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home.

Originally published September 2016.

 

About the author

SEE JANE DRILL

See Jane Drill has been teaching and empowering homeowners to take care of their own homes since 2013. With easy-to-follow tutorials and detailed explanations on a wide variety of home repairs, they encourage everyone, including beginners, to become a DIY-er and save money! They produce a new DIY video every week. Follow See Jane Drill on YouTube and Facebook.

5 Myths (and 5 Truths) About Selling Your Home

True or false: All real estate advice is good advice. (Hint: It depends.)

Everyone has advice about the real estate market, but not all of that unsolicited information is true. So when it comes time to list your home, you’ll need to separate fact from fiction.

Below we’ve identified the top five real estate myths — and debunked them so you can hop on the fast track to selling your property.

1. I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling
Truth: While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won’t get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.

Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood, and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.

2. My home’s exterior isn’t as important as the interior
Truth: Home buyers often make snap judgments based simply on a home’s exterior, so curb appeal is very important.

“A lot of buyers search online or drive by properties before they even enlist my services,” says Bic DeCaro, a real estate agent at Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, Virginia. “If the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there’s a chance they won’t ever enter the house — they’ll just keep driving.”

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a bundle to improve your home’s exterior. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.

3. If my house is clean, I don’t need to stage it
Truth: Tidy is a good first step, but professional home stagers have raised the bar. Tossing dirty laundry in the closet and sweeping the front steps just aren’t enough anymore.

Stagers make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home’s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. For example, they might recommend removing blinds from a window with a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger.

Of course, you don’t have to hire a professional stager. But if you don’t, be ready to use some of their tactics to get your home ready for sale — especially if staging is a trend where you live. An unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market.

4. Granite and stainless steel appliances are old news
Truth: The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.

“Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated,” says Dru Bloomfield, a real estate agent with Platinum Living Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona. “When you a design a space, you need to decide if you’re doing it for yourself or for resale potential.”

She suggests that if you’re not planning to move anytime soon, decorate how you’d like. But if you’re planning to put your home on the market within the next couple of years, stick to elements with mass appeal.

“I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago, and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless steel appliances.”

5. Home shoppers can ignore paint colors they don’t like
Truth: Moving is a lot of work, and while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don’t want to.

That’s why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property stand out in online photographs, which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.

Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000-square-foot house will cost about $3,000 to $6,000, depending on labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.

 

BY MARY BOONE ON 31 JUL 2019

Mary was a newspaper writer/editor for 13 years and worked as spokesperson for a Fortune 500 Company before becoming a freelance writer. She has authored more than two dozen books for young readers and writes for a handful of regional home and garden magazines.

A Right-Sized Home for You: A Guide for Seniors

There’s a lot to think about when looking for the right home, including factors like price, location and square footage. If you’re a senior, there are other things to take into consideration. You need to think about your lifestyle, health, and mobility—things that can have a significant effect on how you’ll live in the years to come. Downsizing may be the goal of many older adults these days, but sometimes circumstances dictate a different approach.

Getting around

Seniors often experience diminished mobility as they grow older. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to think ahead and look for a home with an open floor plan and plenty of clearance in halls (at least 36 inches across) and doorways (at least 32 inches wide). A walker or wheelchair may not be necessary for you, but there’s nothing wrong with making sure you have adequate space in which to move around. Emphasize single-level homes in your search so that stairs don’t become an obstacle in years to come, and look for level transitions between rooms.

Number of rooms

If you expect family members will be staying with you from time to time, make sure there are enough bedrooms to accommodate everyone, along with a rec room for the grandkids. But be careful not to take on too much square footage so that cleaning and maintenance don’t become burdensome. A finished basement or a guest suite over the garage may be an ideal solution for your needs.

VA loans

Are you or your partner a veteran? If so, a VA loan can give you the financial advantage you need to get the home you want without paying a lot for private mortgage insurance or a large down payment. And you can get better rates through the VA than you could expect from a conventional or FHA loan agreement. Always do plenty of research on the best mortgage option for your situation before signing a loan agreement.

Financing options

There are no restrictions on home financing options for seniors who qualify and can show proof of a regular and sufficient income. Whether you opt for a conventional or reverse mortgage, think carefully about the length of your mortgage loan term. A standard 30-year agreement may be too long for some senior homeowners.

If you’re concerned about your ability to qualify for a favorable mortgage loan, bear in mind that some of the largest mortgage providers allow seniors to use “imputed income” from retirement funds, IRAs and other retirement assets in order to qualify for a loan. In other words, seniors can use the balances in these accounts to supplement earnings (on paper) without taking out any actual funds.

Financial advice

A financial advisor can make it easier to find the best deal for your situation. If hiring an advisor doesn’t fit your budget, there are many free credit and debt management services and programs. Credit counseling is a good place to start. A recent Ohio State University study found that people who received credit counseling reduced debt by nearly $6,000 in the first year and a half.

Senior real estate specialists

Look for a real estate agent who has experience meeting the special needs of senior homebuyers. Senior real estate specialists have additional training working with older adults, and many have earned an SRES designation. The National Association of Realtors can help put you in touch with a senior real estate specialist.

Be careful to right-size your home and mortgage agreement. They should suit your current and anticipated lifestyle needs. Finding a home that meets your physical requirements without overextending your budget ensures you’ve set yourself up comfortably for the next chapter.

Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

3 Reasons to Live in a New Home Before Renovating

New house? Hold that sledgehammer! You might want to hold off until you’ve settled in.

In today’s market, many buyers forego fixer-uppers for move-in ready homes. As a result, significant opportunities abound in prime locations as homes that need work linger on the market.

In competitive markets, savvy consumers gravitate toward these homes that nobody else wants. Why? They can customize the home to their requirements and build equity along the way.

That said, I often recommend that buyers live in a new home for a while before undertaking any major remodeling or pricey home improvements. I’m not talking about lighting or plumbing repairs necessary to make the house habitable. Rather, I’m referring to discretionary remodeling, expansions and other improvement projects.

Here are three good reasons to at least consider holding off on the big home improvement projects until you’ve had some time to settle in.

1. Living in the home can change your mind

You may have grand visions for what you’d like to do to a home, based on its condition and your priorities at the time you buy it. But until you’re actually living there, it’s difficult to know exactly how you’ll use the house, what will work for you and what won’t.

Ultimately, it’s this day-to-day experience that will inform your home improvement decisions, instead of early notions of how you want your everyday experience to be.

2. After buying a home, you deserve a break

Buying a home is a massive project, an enormous change in your life and a shock to the system — if not your finances. I’ve seen buyers jump through hoops, spending months on end looking for a home. In some situations, it becomes a part-time job.

A home renovation can be yet another big and stressful project, what with all the decisions to make and contractors to deal with.

My recommendation: Take a break from the stress of buying your new home.

3. You need time to plan

Any renovation, no matter how small, should be designed with care. That means speaking to multiple architects, contractors or designers to get their take on your ideas and options — a time-consuming process.

An hour with a well-qualified contractor can uncover opportunities where you least expected them. For instance, even though it may be an added cost now, moving the laundry machines from the garage to the top floor during a larger renovation may save you time and money down the road.

Conversely, hiring architects and contractors while under the constraints of an escrow period is likely to cause problems for you later.

Some buyers want to jump into renovations because they don’t want to live in a construction zone or pay rent and a mortgage at the same time. While this may make some economic sense upfront, it can still cause costly problems later.

Often, buyers who said they don’t want a home that requires any work end up buying a home that needs at least some. It’s the natural evolution of the buying process. Rarely does someone end up buying the home they started off thinking they wanted.

While you should be open to doing work on a home, don’t feel stressed about getting it all done at once. Live as-is for six months to a year. Take the home for a test drive and see how it runs. You may be surprised at how your perspective and priorities change once you settle in.

 

About the author

BRENDON DESIMONE

Brendon DeSimone is the author of Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling. A 15-year veteran of the residential real estate industry and a nationally recognized real estate expert, Brendon has completed hundreds of transactions totaling more than $250M. His expert advice is often sought out by reporters and journalists in both local and national press. Brendon is a regularly featured guest on major television networks and programs including CNBC, FOX News, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20 and HGTV. Brendon is the manager of the Bedford and Pound Ridge offices of Houlihan Lawrence, the leading real estate brokerage north of New York City.

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

Moving doesn’t have to be a waking nightmare. Here’s how to avoid a move from … you know where.

Moving may top the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — one that can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process, but the most common moving nightmares fall into three categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. Regardless of the excuses you receive, the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late or lack the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated, based on alleged extra services. They may also hold your belongings hostage until you pay an extra “fee” as ransom or steal your more expensive belongings and discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed, and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. If there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from your home’s entrance. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time but also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

Moving involves a lot of loose ends, and even the smallest oversight can result in a disastrous move.

  • Packing chaos. You realize you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers, and some items can’t be loaded onto the moving truck. Or maybe you don’t label the boxes properly. Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may have to leave treasured pieces behind or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and delay your move.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget or pack all your items without sorting them out first, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of these all-too-common moving ordeals.

About the author MOVING.TIPS

Moving.Tips is a resource center that provides a complete solution for people on the move. From the pre-move tips, through the packing and moving day advice, to the post-move helpful information, it has it all. Moreover, budgeting your move and finding a mover can be child’s play when you have an ally like Moving.Tips.

The Monarch Club Towers Over Downtown Detroit With Panoramic Views

The tallest public bar in the city gives a bird’s-eye view of Comerica Park and other iconic buildings

 atop the restored Metropolitan Building in downtown, the Monarch Club rooftop bar opened on Saturday, May 11, with sweeping views of the Detroit skyline. Located on the 13th story of the neo-Gothic property that was once home to the city’s jewelers and watchmakers, it’s the tallest rooftop bar available to the public in the area. With three outdoor terraces, it’s an impressive vantage point to look out at the city’s iconic architecture.

Visitors can access the Monarch Club by wandering into the refurbished lobby of the Element Hotel and hopping on an elevator. The doors open onto the main landing of the 150-seat bar, which is filled in by plush, red banquette seating and a white marble-topped bar. A pair of double doors demarcate additional lounges for regular bar service or private events with access to two of the building’s three patio spaces. The rooms were once concrete boxes used primarily by technicians servicing machinery at the top of the building. No they feature finished blue walls, leather armchairs, and views of the city through arched windows.

The third patio area, which will remain open to the public regardless of private events, overlooks the north side of the building towards Woodward Avenue and Comerica Park. Each of the terraces is outfitted with tables and fire pits for relaxing and enjoying the scenery — maybe even some baseball game fireworks — during nice weather.

Chef Jared Bobkin, a Hell’s Kitchen alum who previously ran food services for the Oakland Hills Country Club, is overseeing day-to-day operations at the Monarch Club alongside beverage director Mike Eisenberg of Grey Ghost, Detroit Optimist Society, and Roast. The pair together with Monarch Club’s operator Azul Hospitality and the development team at the Roxbury Group came up with the bar menu. Both Bobkin and Eisenberg agree that the primary focus is on the drinks.

Zia’s Meatballs at the Monarch Club.

Eisenberg says he tried to develop a list of classic drinks like French 75s and gin martinis and break them up with more original drinks like the Sasha Says with El Jimador Reposado, maple syrup, and egg. There’s also a handful of beers and wine — especially the effervescent varieties that Eisenberg says pair well with patio drinking. Drinks range from around $8 up to $22. Bobkin’s snacks are designed to complement the cocktails with options like barbecue brisket sliders and Zia’s meatballs, a traditional Italian meatball topped with a crispy disc of parmesan cheese.

Photographer Michelle Gerard visited the Monarch Club ahead of its public opening when the spring weather cooperated to check out the lounges and most importantly those stunning rooftop patios. Take a tour of the bar in the link below:

https://detroit.eater.com/2019/5/13/18617744/the-monarch-club-detroit-rooftop-bar-open-element-hotel-photos