Category Archives: Blog

8 Staircase Decorating ideas

When it comes to decorating your home, people tend to overlook the staircase. However, the stairs are a focal point of your home – and often the first thing that your guests, or if you’re selling, a potential buyer will see when they walk in your front door. 

So banish boring stairs! Here are some decorating ideas that suggest how to jazz up this important- yet overlooked – feature of your house, with paint, tile, wallpaper and more. 

1. ACCENT THE RISER 

Add a fresh burst of color on the toe kick of every step on yoru staircase, says Art Freedman, CEO of Max Warehouse in Sacramento, CA. 

Consider contrasting shades for each step, or even the ombré route. 

You could also cover risers with numbers, the ABCs, or chalkboard paint an instant art center for the kids. 

2. USE UP WALLPAPER 

A fab remnant or a discontinued style may not be enough to covery your half bath, but a limited amount of wallpaper should suffice to cover each stair riser. The same holds for accent tiles that you might use in the kitchen or bathroom. 

Bonus: Most tiles can handle the everyday wear and tear (and kicks) that your family will dish out as they head up and down the stairs. 

3. ADD SOME INSPIRATION

Depending on where the stairs are located (back steps to the kitchen, office, home gym, or garage are ideal for this), write out a phrase to inspire you as you climb. “A quote or saying can be energizing each time you use the staircase,” says Freedman. 

You could also put the days of the week, the signs of the zodiac or the name of each family member (and the dog) on risers. 

Note: This technique can also go badly wrong. Avoid tweets from political figures. 

4. BUILD IN A NOOK

The area underneath a staircase is often an afterthought, but there are dozens of ways to utilize this real estate for storage. 

You might even build out this area to create a home office, sewing nook, or gift-wrapping station. 

5. SWAP OUT THE RAILING

If your staircase comes with a plain ol’ wooden banister, consider an upgrade. 

consider your home’s decor and then choose coordinating material (wrought iron, steel, horizontal wire, or even glass). 

6. CONSIDER A RUG (OR RIPPING IT OUT)

Consider removing carpet, especially if there’s beautiful wood underneath blah floor coverings. If not, you can also add a rug as well. 

Think neutral colors and patterns if you’re planning to sell in the near future. 

7. DECLUTTER YOUR STAIRCASE 

Do not crowd the space at the top or bottom of your suitcase. Too much furniture on the landing or the base of the stairs can make potential buyers feel cramped as they tour your home. This will make your home feel larger and more grand.

The bottom line: Stairs should be a calm space of transition. 

8. KEEP IT CLEAN 

Regardless of how it’s designed, your staircase has to shine in order to make a good impression.

Content courtesy of Realtor.com

James Silver

Team Leader | Associate Broker

James Silver Team | Keller Williams Realty

Michigan | Florida

(248) 530-7292 | JamesSilver@kw.com 

www.JamesSilverTeam.com 

The 5 Best Home Improvements You’ll Ever Make

A New Deck 

A new deck will provide a solid return on investment.

According to Remodeling Magazine, the upgrade will have an estimated 75% ROI.

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The Basement

Fixing up the basement will add a whole new level of living space to your house and get you over 70% ROI, higher than a rehabbed kitchen or bathroom.

A New Front Door

Front door replacements have a high ROI, with 91.1% for steel doors and 82.3% for fiberglass doors.

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Attic Insulation

Installing new insulation will score the highest ROI for your home: 116.9% return!!!

Plant a Tree

Do you know planting a tree is cheap?

Did you know it will end up being a good investment?

A mature tree can add $1,000 to $10,000 to the value of your home, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

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Content Courtesy of Realtor.com

James Silver

Associate Broker | Team Leader

The James Silver Team | Keller Williams Realty

Michigan | Florida

(248) 530-7292 | JamesSilver@kw.com

www.JamesSilverTeam.com

Will Home Sales and Prices Continue to Accelerate in 2017?

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The days of multiple bids and offers that are typically way higher than a home’s asking price—you know, that stuff that we now consider to be normal in the housing biz—aren’t expected to disappear any time soon. But here’s the good news: Things aren’t expected to get too much worse in 2017 either.

Rising mortgage rates as well as a dearth of affordable, existing homes (i.e., previously lived-in residences) on the market are expected to lead to a smaller increase in sales in 2017, according to the latest quarterly survey from the National Association of Realtors®.

The survey was of nearly 2,800 U.S. households and conducted from October through early December.

Existing-home prices are expected to go up 4% in 2017, slowing down just a bit from 5% in 2016, according to NAR.The pace of sales is also expected to slow, rising just 2% in 2017, compared with 3.3% in 2016

All in all, 2016 is expected to be the best year for existing-home sales since the height of the housing boom in 2006.

The challenges ahead

2017 will “be a year of growth in both sales and prices,” says Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke of realtor.com®. “But that growth will be slower than what we’ve seen over the last three years.”

Those higher mortgage rates have already driven monthly mortgage payments up 7% since the presidential election, Smoke says. And those bigger bills are expected to make it harder for wannabe homeowners, particularly first-time buyers, to qualify for loans.

That’s in addition to the low inventory of available homes on the market that they need to contend with. In November, there were 12% fewer new and existing homes for sale on realtor.com than the same month a year earlier.

Still, the majority of households surveyed still believe now is a good time to buy a home, But fewer renters are getting the buying bug these days. That’s because housing prices are continuing to go up, making affordability an ever bigger challenge, says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

“Younger households, renters, and those living in the costlier West region—where prices have soared in recent months—are the least optimistic about buying,” Yun said in a statement.

According to the survey, about three-quarters of current homeowners who are over 45, make more than $50,000 a year, and live in the Midwest or South were the most confident that now is the time to close on the homes of their dreams.

They are typically the most financially stable or live in the most affordable regions of the country.

But for everyone else, it’s not all doom and gloom. Lenders are beginning to make more loans to buyers with lower credit scores and down payments as well as higher debt-to-income ratios as a result of rising mortgage rates, says Smoke.

That’s because fewer homeowners are likely to refinance their mortgages now that rates have gone up. To make up for that loss in business, lenders have to issue more loans. And higher rates can net mortgage makers higher profits, he says.

“Lenders are getting more aggressive,” Smoke says. “Credit access already appears to be improving because of the rates.”

How Much It Really Costs To Sell Your Home

Show me the money! Admit it, that’s what you’re thinking when you consider selling your house. In fact, chances are good you’ve mentally spent much of the proceeds already—on a new house you’re buying, and maybe even a nice vacation this summer. Slow down there—while selling a home can indeed bring in some sweet profits, not every dollar goes into your pocket. You also have to pay the professionals who help you unload your property. So now the question in your mind is probably: How much does it cost to sell a house? Really?

On average, home sellers pay their listing agent a commission amounting to about 6% of the price of their home (although that percentage can vary). On a $250,000 house sale, this amounts to roughly $15,000.

That might seem like a yuuuuge chunk of change, but don’t go assuming you’re getting ripped off! Here’s where that money goes, and why it’s totally worth it.

The real estate agent commission, explained

If you’re picturing your real estate agent pocketing the whole sum, think again.

“Sellers are often confused by the often-quoted ‘6% commission fee,’ and it’s because many agents don’t explain clearly why it’s being collected,” says David Nelson, a real estate professional with Re/Max Advantage Plus in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

In fact, that commission is split between the buyer’s agent‘s brokerage and the seller’s. They might split it evenly, or the seller’s agent’s side might get a bit more. From those splits, the respective brokerages take their cut—which, again, varies—and the remaining amount goes to the agents.

Remember, most agents don’t receive a salary, so that fee pays for all that time the agent spent marketing your home. It also includes costs like photographs and signage, as well as the cost to list it on the multiple listings service. And if your house doesn’t sell, the agent doesn’t get reimbursed for those costs—or paid for her time.

How much sellers pay in closing costs

While buyers tend to pay more in closing costs, sellers aren’t completely off the hook. You can expect to spend an additional 2% of your home’s price on this expense, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president at mortgage information resource HSH.com.

Closing costs tend to be fixed, including transfer taxes, escrow expenses, and notary fees. You’ll also pay at closing any outstanding property taxes, a prorated share of the water and sewage bills, and the remainder of your mortgage.

Yet you may have control over a few closing costs, says Gumbinger. If you hire a real estate attorney to oversee your side of the transaction, it’s worth shopping around to compare rates. You might also be able to avoid a $100 to $200 reissue fee for the title search if you can provide a copy of your policy.

Should I just sell my house myself to save money?

In a hot market, many sellers may think they can sell their house themselves to avoid the commission fees.

However, most people don’t realize that if you sell your house on your own, you still have to pay for the buyer’s agent’s brokerage fee.

“Since over 93% of active buyers have a real estate agent representing them, it’s the only way to attract these agents—and thus their buyers—to even consider your home,” Nelson says.

What about that cash they would still be saving by selling their home as “For Sale by Owner,” or FSBO?

Consider what your agent brings to the party:

  • Marketing, signs, advertising support, and professional photography
  • The time and “hassle factor” savings of not having to be present for showings, manage calls, host an open house, set up legal representation for paperwork, and conduct the negotiations
  • The legal protection that comes with working with a licensed real estate agent
  • The professional market knowledge that can help you wisely price the house
  • Negotiating expertise that allows your agent to extract the best terms and price from the buyer
  • A wider pool of potential buyers that comes with listing your home on the MLS
  • Access to other agents, who have or know potential buyers. In fact, notes Nelson, many sales can happen before a home is even listed, because agents will reach out to one another.

“In the end, that ‘savings’ to list a home yourself doesn’t usually save you any money,” Nelson says. “In fact, it can cost you in terms of time, stress, and often a lower price for your home.”

You know the saying “you get what you pay for”? Well, you also earn what you save. Think long and hard about your limitations in terms of time and expertise before heading down the home-selling path solo. After all, this home sale may be one of the largest financial transactions of your life, so it’s not exactly something you should cut corners on with the hopes of saving a few bucks.

Call us to get your home sold! 

Content courtesy of Realtor.com

James Silver 

Associate Broker | Team Leader

Keller Williams Realty | The James Silver Team 

Michigan | Florida 

(248) 530-7292 | JamesSilver@kw.com

www.JamesSilverTeam.com 

New Year’s Resolution for Your Home

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It wouldn’t be a New Year without New Year resolutions right? Well, resolutions don’t have to be just for yourself, you can also make a resolution for the biggest investment in your life…your home!

Whether you make this resolution to fix up, pretty up or make your home more pleasant for yourself, family and friends or if you plan on putting your home on the market, now is the time to break out the to do lists and tools.

HouseLogic has compiled a comprehensive top 10 New Year’s resolutions for your home.

1. Lose Weight

Gain control of your home by cutting back the energy use. Sealing and insulating your HVAC ductwork can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%, saving you $200 per year or more, according to Energy Star. After sealing your ducts, wrap them in fiberglass insulation. 

A professional heating and cooling contractor will charge $1,000 to $4,000 for the work, including materials, depending on the size of your home and accessibility to your ducts. Also, insulating your ductwork may qualify for a rebate from your state or local municipality. Click here to check! 

2. Quit Smoking 

Indoor air is full of potential contaminants, such as dust, mold, spores, pollen, and viruses. Unfortunately, the problem is worst in the winter, when windows and doors are shut tight. You can help eliminate harmful lung irritants by doing the following:

– Change furnace filters every month during peak heating and cooling seasons

– Use low-VOC paints when remodeling rooms

– Use localized ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms to remove cooking fumes, smoke, and excess humidity. Make sure ventilation systems exhaust air to the outside of your home

– Burn real firewood rather than pressed wood products in your fireplace and woods stoves

– Use a portable air cleaner to help cleanse the air in single rooms

3. Get Out of Debt

Creating a yearly budget for home improvement and maintenance helps prevent overspending, and encourages you to put aside money for major replacements that come up every few years, such as new roofing or a kitchen appliance. 

HSH Associates and LendingTree.com place average costs of yearly maintenace and upkeep at 1% to 3% of your home’s initial price. 

4. Learn Something New 

You can do the following to improve your insurance score to keep your home insurance premiums lower:

– Do not let credit card debt build up 

– Keep payments on loans up-to-date

5. Get Organized

The clutter must go! Start by creating more storage space so you can stash stuff easily. You could put up a high shelf between the walls of a narrow hallway, and tuck storage in out-of-way nooks, such as under-stairs spaces and between wall studs. Also, you can always utilize storage containers for more space such as shoe organizers or cabinets.

6. Volunteer 

A little altruism helps restore balance in this crazy world. You can volunteer ot help others, while promoting safety and preserving the value of your neighborhood. Here are a couple of ideas:

Neighborhood watch program 

Start a community garden

7. Drink Less

Making a few simple changes, such as installing EPA-certified WaterSense products, could trim up to $200 from your annual water bill. Add that to the energy savings from reduced costs to heat water, and your yearly savings could reach $300 or more per year. 

8. Spend more time with family 

Rally your family around these fun-to-do projects to make every minute count:

Plant a tree

– Make a home emergency preparedness kit – via scavenger hunt fof gathering items. 

9. Get fit

Routine home maintenance and repair is a double win – you’ll burn calories while keeping your house in tip-top shape. Try these fix-ups and improvements:

Building a fence: 340 calories per hour

Caulking windows and doors: 280 calories per hour

Cleaning rain gutters: 272 calories per hour

Installing ceramic tile: 238 calories per hour

Interior painting: 136 calories per hour  

– Chopping firewood: 340 calories per hour

– Mowing the lawn: 306 calories per hour

– Planting shrubs: 238 calories per hour

General gardening: 204 calories per hour 

10. Be Less Stressed

Use maintenance-free materials that are designed for durability and long, trouble-free service.

James Silver

Associate Broker | Team Leader

Keller Williams Realty-James Silver Team

Michigan | Florida

(248) 530-7292 | jamessilver@kw.com

www.jamessilverteam.com

Protect Your Home Against These 6 Dangers That Could Spark a Fire

With temperatures (finally!) dropping, many of us crank up the heat at home—but a higher electrical bill isn’t the only danger we face.

Winter is the prime season for house fires: Nearly a third of all total-loss house fires occur in the months of December, January, and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Even scarier? The average household can expect five fires in the lifetime of its members.

That’s a lot of fires. And while most are small, they collectively cost us $7.3 billion a year in property damage—plus there’s a 1 in 10 chance that fire will injure someone in your home.

The good news? Most house fires are easily preventable. Watch for these risk factors to prevent things from going up in smoke.

1. Space heaters

Many houses, especially old ones, have cold spots that central heating simply won’t reach—which makes plug-in space heaters a godsend. Unfortunately, these toasty devices are the leading cause of house fires in the winter.

We’re not telling you not to use them; just be sure to respect these rules:

  • Make sure your heater is at least 3 feet away from anything flammable;
  • Plug your heater directly into the outlet rather than an extension cord; and
  • Although it may be tempting, do not go to bed with the space heater on.

2. Cooking 

We all know how easy it is to step away from the stove for just one moment. But stove top cooking is the leading cause of house fires year-round, and most occur within the first 15 minutes of cooking.

Know the song “Stand by Your Man”? Well, safety experts say, “Stand by Your Pan.” Make it a rule to turn off the stove if you must leave. If you’re baking something, you can leave the room, but check back at least once every half-hour, and don’t leave the house without turning off the oven.

Also, make sure that oven mitts, dish towels, and other flammable items remain 3 feet from the stove top at all times—you’d be amazed by how quickly heat can travel.

If the worst happens and you’re suddenly faced with flames and spattering grease, don’t panic. Turn the stove off, then put on a pair of elbow-length cooking gloves. (Go ahead and order some now to have on hand.) Cover the pan with a lid, and let the oil cool down. Don’t move it—you don’t want to spill the fiery contents. Have a fire extinguisher when you eventually remove the lid.

3. Electrical cords

We’ve all done it: We want the electric kettle, laptop, iPhone charger, and toaster to run from the same power outlet—so we add an extension cord or adapter to accommodate all of our appliances. Yet every year, overloaded or damaged circuits cause 3,300 fires.

Make sure you’re not one of them by, for starters, giving your cords a feel: If they’re warm, they’re overloaded. Also, never run extension cords under rugs, tape them to floors, staple/nail them to walls, or string several together to make an extra-large extension cord.

4. Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves

While it’s recommended you get your fireplace checked regularly, the reality is, it can start a fire even if your chimney passed inspection with flying colors, says Joe Torrillo, a firefighter who served in the New York City Fire Department for 25 years.

“It’s called pyrolysis,” says Torrillo, who now tours the country speaking as a fire safety expert. “It gets very hot in the fireplace, and the heat can transfer to the [connecting] wooden structure.”

So when you use your fireplace, make sure to extinguish the fire completely before leaving or sleeping, and keep flammable objects at least 5 feet away.

Be careful with the embers, too—they can smolder for up to two weeks and ignite other trash you throw out with them. The best policy is to empty ashes into a metal container and store them away from anything flammable for at least two weeks. Be sure to clean your fireplace and flue at least annually.

5. Candles

From 2009 to 2013, candles caused 3% of home fires and 3% of home fire deaths, according to the NFPA. But before you ditch all of your sweet-smelling blocks of wax, know this: The main problem is not the candles, but how we use them. Too many people light them on top of tablecloths or near curtains, which can easily catch fire.

“Candles should be burned within sight on a stable surface, away from anything that can catch fire and out of reach of children and pets,” says Carol Freysinger, executive director of the National Candle Association.

Because wax gets soft as it melts, a hot candle can tip out of its holder, igniting wood surfaces and shelves. That’s why you should never leave a candle burning unattended, or switch to battery-powered ones—these days they look and smell just like the real thing.

6. Christmas trees

Don’t use those old bubble lights on your tree, even if they’ve been in the family for generations.

“Each light is 5 watts. With 100 5-watt bulbs, that’s 500 watts of heat” on a tree that’s slowly drying out, Torrillo says. Additionally, keep the tree away from sources of open flame and don’t overload sockets. According to the NFPA’s most recent data, Christmas trees cause an average of 210 structure fires annually.

———

Finally, here are some life-saving tips for all households.

Install and maintain smoke detectors

Every home needs working smoke detectors—inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Test them every few months and completely replace them every 10 years.

Know your fire extinguisher

Just because you have a fire extinguisher doesn’t mean you know how to use it. For example, if you spray the extinguisher directly into a pan of flaming grease, flaming spittle can go everywhere. Now’s the time to check out some instructional videos. Better yet? Swing by your local firehouse and ask the firefighters how to use an extinguisher.

Plan an escape route

We’re not just talking about walking out the front door. What if the route is blocked? If you really want to be prepared, keep an escape ladder inside every bedroom, Torrillo recommends, and practice deploying it to get familiar.

Content Courtesy of Realtor.com

James Silver

Associate Broker | Team Leader

The James Silver Team, KW Realty

Michigan | Florida

(248) 530-7292 | JamesSilver@kw.com

www.JamesSilverTeam.com