Author Archives: James Silver

Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation

 

Rule #1 of the best week off at home: Plan ahead.

You don’t need to stay in a hotel and play tourist to have a proper holiday. Look no further than your own home for a staycation that dreams are made of.

Make no mistake, an at-home staycation doesn’t just mean a lazy weekend on the couch. Turn your humble abode into a resort made for relaxation with a few days of planning and prep work.

Here’s your guide to creating the ultimate staycation.

Tackle chores in advance

Make a list of chores you want to tackle a few days before your staycation begins. At the very least, cover the basics like washing linens, dusting and vacuuming.

For an added level of sparkle, schedule time to clean your windows. That way when you’re gazing out at your backyard garden or pool (aka your staycation resort spa), your windows will be as spic-and-span as those at a five-star bed and breakfast.

Better yet, for a totally chore-free staycation, consider setting aside extra cash for a housecleaning service to do the work for you beforehand.

Maximize your comfort

Maybe your home is already perfectly comfy and cozy. But for maximum staycation relaxation, why not add a few extra elements to make your home feel like a luxury resort?

  • Adjust your lighting. Look for soft ambient lighting options to create a calming environment. New lamps for bedroom and living areas and candles for the master bath can completely change the mood of a space.
  • Add new rugs. Soft, plush area rugs boost the comfort level of a room and make a cozy reading spot if you add a few floor pillows.
  • Upgrade your bedding. Not only will it feel like you’re truly on a vacation, but new sheets are an added perk after your leisure time comes to a close.

Create designated spaces

Think about what kind of environment will help you reach peak relaxation. You can do a quick makeover of your bathroom to create a calming home spa or carve out a quiet corner for a meditation or reading nook.

If a spa setting is more your style, look at bath pillows, aromatherapy candles and bath oils. Or if you simply crave a reading corner, pick up some new reads that have been sitting on your wish list for too long.

If you have kids, create a designated craft or board game corner, or come up with a few activities they can enjoy while you relax.

Look outside for added comfort ideas too. Whether it’s a hammock, a porch swing or patio furniture, look for ways to blend your staycation lounging with the great outdoors.

On that note, consider setting up your camping gear in the backyard for part of your staycation, or try out a DIY fire pit for late-night chats and s’mores.

Manage meals ahead of time

Don’t waste precious relaxation time planning menus. Pick your favorite family recipes, plan which meals you’ll have delivered and knock out grocery shopping before your staycation begins.

If you enjoy cooking, consider using some of your time off to make more intricate meals than you typically have time for — or bring in a local chef for a cooking lesson.

Plan ahead to make it count

With a few preparatory tasks on your to-do list, you can turn your house into a staycation sanctuary. Map out what you want your down time to look like, and delegate tasks. Soon you’ll be ready for a few days of ultimate relaxation — without ever leaving your home.

Effective Ways to Prevent Falls During Your Senior Years

 

Photo via Pexels

Written by Hazel Bridges

Fall prevention is an important topic to consider when you reach your senior years. Due to the health changes that come with aging, seniors face an increased risk of experiencing a fall-related injury at home. Thankfully, a few preventive steps can keep you safe! Here’s a quick guide to help you reduce your fall risk at home so you can age-in-place with confidence. 

Downsize Your Home

Smaller homes are easier to navigate with mobility issues. Downsizing into a more manageable living space will also reduce the amount of maintenance you have to do!

  • Smaller homes are more accessible, but they also come with several other unexpected perks!
  • Ensure your new home will accommodate your current lifestyle and potential future health concerns.
  • Take some time to understand the current trends in senior home buying.
  • When you’re ready to start looking for homes, contact The James Silver Team for help!

Invest in Smart Tech

Today’s smart home devices can help you stay safer, healthier, and more independent while aging-in-place. 

Make Some Lifestyle Changes

Maintaining your whole-body health can go a long way to reduce your risk of falling or sustaining an injury from a household fall.

  • When it comes to preventing falls and maintaining your independence, strength training is essential.
  • You can find several senior-friendly workouts online.
  • Balance and flexibility exercises can also help you avoid falls, so give yoga a go!
  • If you struggle with dizziness, talk to your doctor about possible causes and treatments.

Don’t live out your senior years in fear of falling. While falls are more common as we grow older, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk. Consider downsizing, outfit your home with smart tech, and keep your body strong. These preventive measures will help you feel safe and secure while aging-in-place!

5 Ways to Make Your Home Office Work (Even if It’s Your Kitchen)

WFH is the new normal for many Americans. Here’s how to get your workspace functioning well — and looking great.

Commit to your space

For those of us who don’t have a home office — which is a lot of people — work-from-home routines can easily get derailed. Designating an area for work, even if that place is the bill-paying area in your kitchen, is a way to stay in your routine and get yourself in the work mindset. Whatever spot you choose, just make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional work area. That means adequate lighting, a comfortable chair — the right height for typing without strain — a seamless tech setup that allows you to take and make video calls without having to fiddle with plugs or wires, and an overall lack of clutter on your desk and the surrounding area.

Declutter

This seems obvious, but let’s level with ourselves. When do we really get around to cleaning our desks? Well, now’s the time. Toss anything that needs to be thrown out, pair like items with like, contain those stray pens in one nice decorative cup, and make sure you have all your workday essentials close at hand and non-essential items moved elsewhere.

Curate an inspiration board

Now that you’ve set the stage, it’s time to look ahead. And that wall you’re looking at beyond your laptop should inspire you. This is as good a time as ever to put together an inspiration board and fill it with what makes you happy, from images of your favorite people and pets, to pics of your goals (like that fabulous vacation you are going to take once we’ve all gotten through this tough time!). And yes, you can put your to-dos and important reminders up there too — but keep the focus on the positive and uplifting, and keep it right in your line of sight.

Do a background check

If video calls are part of your new day-to-day, think about what your colleagues are seeing behind you — like that pile of laundry or those mostly empty wine glasses. Keep things clean and uncluttered. And if you have the space, show off your style. Some good background options might be your favorite art piece, interesting souvenirs or a not-overly-stuffed bookcase. Lastly, remember lighting: Your space should be adequately lit, or it’ll look like you’re dialing in from a submarine.

Set the mood

Never got your dream office? This is your moment. We bet scented candles aren’t allowed in your regular workspace, but you get to make the rules at home. Aromatherapy diffusers are another option if you’re worried about curious kids or pets. And now your playlist can softly waft overhead rather than through earphones. Similarly, set out some healthy snacks to avoid refrigerator trips, and nosh away. It’s OK for your home office to feel like your home, and especially now, it’s important to take time to indulge yourself with some creature comforts that feed your soul and make you feel calm and inspired.

Move Safe Certified with Homelight!

Move Safe™ Certified

We are proud to qualify as a Move Safe Certified agent with HomeLight! As a Move Safe Certified agent, we are using the best tools and practices including meeting with clients virtually, providing a baseline online presence for listings, practicing safety protocol for showings, and using an e-sign platform for the transfer and signature of documents. We’re here to help buyers and sellers navigate through these challenging times@

How To Be Proactive & Position Yourself to Buy a Home in a Post COVID-19 World

 

Hello, and we hope that you are safe, at home, and healthy. The year 2020 will likely go down in history for countries across the world due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Almost every industry has been touched by the effects of the virus, especially real estate. Not only are people hesitant to make large financial decisions given the state of the economy, but people quite literally can’t leave their houses to participate in the real estate process. 

However, the pandemic isn’t going to last forever—thank goodness—and if you are planning on purchasing a home, now is the time to prepare for it. Here are some tips to get yourself ready. 

Start Researching Homes in the Area

There are a lot of factors that go into shopping for a home. First off, different buyers have different motives. While some people want to move into a new space, others are more focused on the investment side of things. Either way, it’s prudent to purchase a home that will hold its value in case you decide to sell down the road. Basically: buy for now, plan for later. What we mean by this is that when you purchase a home or property, do so with the intent that it’s going to work well for you in the present moment, i.e. right size and feel. You should also keep in consideration what the house is going to be worth down the road in the event you decide to sell it.  Look up homes in the area that meet both standards.

Consult a Real Estate Agent

While the stay-at-home orders are hindering in almost all ways, we’re lucky enough to be able to telecommunicate with other professionals who are working at home, real estate agents included! Perhaps you originally thought you were going to buy this spring, but had to adjust plans due to having to stay home. Or, maybe you’re just getting around to laying down a plan of action for purchasing a new house. Either way, set up an appointment with your real estate agent to discuss the market and the best course of action. Have a conversation about top agent insights for Q1 2020 and your agent’s own input! 

 

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Getting pre-approval for a mortgage doesn’t mean that you need to take out a mortgage. What pre-approval does is shows you how much money you’d get for your mortgage as well as the interest rate tacked onto it. These figures can help you decide what houses are in your price range. During the outbreak, mortgage rates are lower than normal, and this is something to consider if you plan on purchasing a home anytime soon. Keep an eye on what lender’s rates are, but don’t act hastily in an effort to lock them in. What’s important during this current economic climate is to be diligent with any financial decisions you make. 

The James Silver Team in Metro Detroit wants to make sure that you, a potential buyer, feels confident in any real estate decisions you make during this pandemic. Please don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with us and we’ll help answer any questions you may have during this time!

 

5 Tips to Declutter Your Closet in a Day

 

Streamline your wardrobe, and help others at the same time.

I recently had a closet collapse. I came home from a day at the office to find heaps of what had been neatly hung, color-coordinated clothes in one giant, messy mound on the floor. Worse than picking up the pieces of chipped drywall? Admitting that maybe it was time to get rid of that favorite shirt of mine — from college. In the ’90s.

So I sought the help of style expert Darcy Camden to find out what she tells her clients. Camden has been cleaning out closets and styling men and women for more than a decade (read: she spends a TON of time in strangers’ homes). The busy fashionista (she’s a mother, too) insists there are easy ways to declutter that tangle of t-shirts or pile of old papers. And you can do it in as little as an hour.

A little goes a long way

Purge a little at a time, says Camden, who has helped more than 900 clients in her career.

“Most of my clients think that purging a closet is a huge all-day endeavor, but it often makes more sense to do a little at a time,” she says. “I encourage everyone to keep a Goodwill donation bag in their closet or bedroom, and add to it here and there as you discover items that don’t fit or have gotten worn out.”

If it doesn’t fit, you can’t wear it

“It rarely makes sense to keep something that physically doesn’t fit you — even if you love it,” Camden says. Put it in a pile to donate, and imagine how much joy the next person will get from that item.

New season = new chances

When the weather warms up or cools down, it’s a great opportunity to think about what you’ve worn — and what you haven’t. “If you didn’t wear it last winter, you probably won’t wear it next winter,” Camden says.

Use the “plus one, minus one” method

Fab new pants? Great! But only put them in the closet after removing a pair that’s collecting dust.

“I tell my clients to subtract one old item for every new item you purchase,” Camden recommends. “If you spend an afternoon shopping and come home with five new things, spend some time reviewing your closet. Remove five older things you’re no longer wearing.”

Finally, donate!

Think of how much you can keep out of the landfill by gifting your giveaways to a good cause.

“I’m constantly amazed that my clients are worried their castaways aren’t good enough for Goodwill,” Camden says. “Will they really want this stained old t-shirt? Or this single sock? Yes!”

“Working closely with Seattle Goodwill over the years has given me tons of insight into what happens to donations,” she continues. “Your smelly socks and stained clothing provide jobs and can be recycled or reused. Never throw away clothing to a landfill.”

Last year, Seattle Goodwill kept more than 53 million pounds of useful goods out of landfills. In addition to helping the planet, those donations also help fund job training and educational programs, adds Seattle Goodwill’s Katherine Boury.

Happy cleaning!

About the author

LINDSAY COHEN

Lindsay Cohen is an Emmy Award-winning writer, reporter, and on-camera host. She writes about unique homes, home improvement, and luxury real estate for Zillow.

The Best Advice for Homebuyers Considering a Fixer Upper

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Are you ready to put some elbow grease into your next abode? Stumbling onto a diamond in the rough can be a homebuyer’s dream come true – or it can be a nightmare. Whether you found a property that’s almost perfect or one that’s in need of a complete overhaul, here’s what you need to know before you invest in a house that needs your help.

Have Realistic Expectations

If you watch many shows about home remodeling, you might get the idea that a whole house can be transformed in a matter of hours. However, most renovations are more time-consuming than that. In fact, House Beautiful says some projects might take about 3 weeks, like a small kitchen or bathroom upgrade, while more elaborate projects can take several months. It’s not unusual to experience delays as well, and on top of that, better contractors tend to be busy, so you might be on a waiting list for a while.

Similarly, costs can vary greatly. According to some surveys, refreshing your kitchen will run between $25,001 and $50,000, and a bathroom remodel is in the neighborhood of $9,000 and $15,000.

Elbow Room and Interruptions

On top of costs, you need to remember you might be fully or partially displaced for a while. Big projects might mean temporarily living in a hotel or apartment. Homeowners making an addition can often live in the house during renovations, especially if the work is contained to a single room. However, remember that eating out while the kitchen is a wreck or using the kids’ bathroom while yours is torn up can get old if you aren’t prepared to manage it for weeks or months on end.

A space boon for many homeowners is a simple addition, whether it’s a garage or bath, adding useful square footage and improving home value. Those needing just a small space can often get by with a bump out. The national average cost to build an addition is $44,663, and some experts suggest planning on it taking at least one month.

Sensible Dollars and Cents

Covering the cost of home improvements can sound pretty daunting, but as Bankrate explains, homeowners have a broad variety of options available to them, both in terms of loans and lenders. In fact, a mortgage broker is just one kind of lender, and they have hundreds of loan options to tailor to your circumstances.

For example, you might go with a home equity line of credit, which is a bit like a credit card. Or you might get a home equity loan. These loans pay you up front and work like a traditional mortgage, minus the closing costs. There are also other options, like specialized loans for energy-efficient homes, loans insured by the FHA, and B and C loans.

Lenders will examine your credit score, income, and how much you want to borrow. Depending on the type of loan, they will also make comparisons with how much your home improvements will cost and what they expect the final property value to be.

If you have trouble qualifying for a loan, there are ways to improve your situation. For instance, you can improve your credit score by making timely payments on your debts, paying off debts, and paying routine things like your utilities before they’re due.

Who’s Doing the Work?

When you hire a contractor for a home renovation, bear in mind that you will live with the outcome day in and day out. Focusing solely on price can mean drawn out projects and shoddy craftsmanship, so it’s critical to find a qualified contractor to tackle your project. Develop a clear idea of what you want in advance, get some references, and get estimates priced out in writing.

Your home is your castle, and the last thing you want is for your fixer upper project to flop. Have realistic expectations, figure out your financing, and hire qualified help. A few plans and preparations can make the difference between a dream and a nightmare.

Written By: Hazel Bridges

5 New Year’s Resolutions That Can Help You Buy a Home

New year, new home? Whip your financial resume into shape to improve your home-buying odds.

Thinking of buying a home this year? We compiled five New Year’s resolutions that can help you keep your financial resume in tiptop shape.

1. Avoid job hopping

Employment history and income are two of the biggest factors lenders look at when evaluating a mortgage application. A new job may be a good career move, but if you plan to buy a home in the new year, know that job hopping can be a red flag to some underwriters — especially if you’re moving to a different industry.

A steady job history and few or no gaps in employment over the past two years are ideal, as it helps lenders more easily forecast your future income.

If you do get a new job while home shopping, let your lender know as soon as possible. It doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for a mortgage — just be prepared to show extra documentation.

If you’re moving from a commissioned or hourly job to one that’s salaried with equal or more compensation, it may help your application. Lenders often prefer borrowers to have steady, predictable paychecks.

2. Limit monthly subscription services

Monthly subscription services are certainly convenient, but they can add up. Even if you pay off your credit card every month, you could be dinged for high credit utilization if your credit report is pulled midcycle.

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, consider keeping your monthly subscription services to a minimum.

3. Build a solid credit history

One of the first things a lender will look at is your credit history. Lenders prefer borrowers who have a history of paying off credits cards and other debts on time — because it signals that you’re a responsible borrower and less of a risk.

If you don’t have credit, securing a home loan may be significantly more challenging and time-consuming, but not impossible. Records of paying rent and utilities on time, as well as student loan debt or cell phone bills, can help show a potential lender that you have a history of managing monthly payments.

4. Check your credit

Your credit score can have a significant impact on your ability to buy a home. A low credit score can negatively affect how much money a lender is willing to loan you, as well as your interest rate.

Just a few percentage point differences in an interest rate can cost you thousands over the life of a loan. Monitor your credit closely, especially for fraudulent activity, to prevent any surprises that could delay the loan application process.

If you’re unsure of your credit score, many financial websites offer credit score monitoring, or you can get a full credit report once a year.

5. Avoid large purchases

Avoid taking on large amounts of debt — whether it’s buying a car or planning a large vacation — before buying a house. This is advisable even if you’re already preapproved.

Your debt-to-income ratio, or how much money you make compared to how much debt you have, can significantly affect how much money a lender is willing to give you. Keeping debts to a minimum can help make the home-buying process go a lot more smoothly.

Just like proofreading your resume before you apply for a job, cleaning up your financial resume can help improve your chances of buying a home.

Take advantage of online tools and resources, like our affordability calculator, which can help you determine how much home you can afford. Our mortgage calculator can also provide custom down payment estimates based on home price and interest rates. And as you search for your future home, check out our extensive lender and agent reviews, which can help you find the best real estate partners for your needs.

 

About the author

ALEXA FIANDER

Alexa Fiander writes about home improvement and trends for Zillow Porchlight.

Try These Tips for an Easier Time Downsizing into a Smaller Home

Image via Pixabay

Sometimes, less is more. This might seem a bit counterintuitive at first, but it’s especially true when it comes to housing for seniors. Of course, there’s something to be said for having plenty of room when you’re in the middle of those prime, family-raising years. But at a certain point, all the extra square footage becomes superfluous, and an excessively large house can start to pose safety risks, as well.

As we get older and mobility becomes a bit more difficult, things like stairs and extra rooms only add to the risk for things like falls and other accidents. At a certain point, it just makes sense to move into a smaller living space. Such a situation poses far fewer safety hazards and can also help to cut back on living expenses. Downsizing can be quite a challenge, but there are plenty of ways to make the job more manageable.

Finding the Perfect Home for Your Golden Years

As you go about choosing the place you’ll call home for your golden years, consider the things you’ll want and need as you get settled in. What kind of community do you see yourself living in? What kind of expenses do you have, and what will they allow you to afford? There are lots of details to consider, such as looking at your budget to determine what you can afford and consider what your future needs will be. It’s also smart to know that the decision might not be made in one sitting.

Decide What You’ll Get Rid Of

Part of downsizing always involves letting go of a few extra belongings that you won’t have space for moving forward, which is something that can be stressful for many seniors. Work with your family to decide what you’ll keep — keepsakes and memories can be passed down to family members, for example. You might even enjoy the experience of purging your home of old clutter you don’t need anymore!

One way to make the most out of this process is to see if you can’t make a few extra bucks by selling some of your things online. A site like eBay or Craigslist can be ideal for selling your stuff. You might not make an overwhelming amount of cash, but these extra earnings can still be helpful for paying other aspects of downsizing.

Consider Hiring Movers to Help with the Process

Moving can be an exhausting process, no matter how old you are. It might be smart to hire a moving team who can handle some of the more strenuous heavy lifting for you. This will help you avoid any potential injuries, and also make the whole process a lot less stressful in general.

One of the best ways to save some money when you’re moving house is to look into hiring a hybrid moving company, especially if you’re moving a significant distance. By breaking up the moving process and splitting it between different vendors, you could save at least 40% on the overall cost of your move. In many instances, you can hire local movers to load up your current home, then have another team haul everything to the final destination, where movers will unload everything for you.

Downsizing isn’t always a smooth transition, and leaving behind the home you’ve known for years can be an emotionally challenging process. Therefore, it’s best to make sure you have as much help as you can get. A few extra sets of hands can be instrumental when it comes to making the downsizing process more bearable.

Written by:

Hazel Bridges

hazel.bridges@agingwellness.org 

AgingWellness.org

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.