Author Archives: James Silver

Today’s Housing Market Is Nothing Like 15 Years Ago

There’s no doubt today’s housing market is very different than the frenzied one from the past couple of years. In the second half of 2022, there was a dramatic shift in real estate, and it caused many people to make comparisons to the 2008 housing crisis. While there may be a few similarities, when looking at key variables now compared to the last housing cycle, there are significant differences.

In the latest Real Estate Forecast Summit, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), drew the comparisons below between today’s housing market and the previous cycle:

Today’s Housing Market Is Nothing Like 15 Years Ago | Keeping Current Matters

Looking at the facts, it’s clear: today is very different than the housing market of 15 years ago.

There’s Opportunity in Real Estate Today

And in today’s market, with inventory rising and less competition from other buyers, there’s opportunity right now. According to David Stevens, former Assistant Secretary of Housing:

“So be advised…this may be the one and only window for the next few years to get into a buyer’s market. And remember…as the Federal Reserve data shows…home prices only go up and always recover from recessions no matter how mild or severe. Long term homeowners should view this market…right now…as a unique buying opportunity.”

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market is nothing like the real estate market 15 years ago. If you’re a buyer right now, this may be the chance you’ve been waiting for.


Sourced from: Keeping Current Matters

This New House: A Guide to House Flipping for Seniors

Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t continue to earn money as you did when you were half your age. As proof, statisticians studying demographic data say that more than 20% of those 65 or older are either working or actively seeking employment. Even in retirement, you can enjoy a healthy source of income from buying and selling houses. Here are some basics about entering the field.

Finding Properties

Your first step to becoming a real estate mogul is locating homes worth flipping. Find them by attending foreclosure auctions, working with a real estate wholesaler, or simply checking out the neighborhood. There are many considerations you should take into account before settling on a prospective fixer-upper. 


Getting Mortgages

Once you have a location that makes you feel comfortable, it’s time to talk about mortgages. Lenders want to know everything about your financial situation, including your credit score. Gather the necessary documents ahead of meeting with a financial representative. Information in hand, you’ll find out how much you may be able to borrow from a lender. With a preapproval letter in your pocket, you’ll be able to make an offer knowing mortgage payments won’t be a problem.


Making Renovations

You’re best suited for marketing to buyers within the same age bracket. Ponder what sorts of alterations would motivate you to make a home purchase. As we age, there’s a greater chance of falling. Technology integration helps prevent tumbles resulting in injury. Install lights that automatically turn on every time someone enters. If you’re rehabbing an older space, upgrade its Wi-Fi capabilities. That way, future residents will be able to use voice-enabled gadgets and medical alert systems in every room. Put grab bars in showers and baths. Replace the flooring with slip-resistant mats. Switch doorknobs for levers, which are easier to grab.


Selling Homes

Once your building is ready, get it onto the Multiple Listing Service. Doing this lets everyone know your home is available to purchase. Choose an attractive price to generate attention. Set a deadline to create a sense of urgency. As interest climbs, interested parties might start offering higher amounts. 

Consider getting a home inspection ahead of going to market. Doing this instills confidence in buyers that the property you’re selling is free of defects.

Staging is vital. Fill the home with inexpensive furniture and wall hangings from thrift stores, or rent what you need. Exercise your inner designer and make the space as inviting and comfortable as possible. Alternatively, use a virtual staging app.

Getting Official

Once you’re buying, fixing, and selling properties, turn what you’re doing into a business. With a snazzy name and logo, you can start promoting your services. Many advertising techniques do not involve high-tech knowledge. Try a variety, and see which brings in the most customers.

Think about creating a home office. Also, you might want to get your real estate license. It isn’t necessary, but having one is bound to generate more opportunities.

Independent businesses often get set up as limited liability companies, as this path offers asset protection and certain tax advantages. Once you’ve become an LLC, consider signing an operating agreement. This binding document informs state authorities of your organization’s managerial details, including budgetary information and practical matters.

Even if you’re a retiree, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a second career flipping homes. Succeeding in this field is rewarding at any age, both monetarily and personally. 

Article Credit: Hazel Bridges

Image via Pexels

What’s Going To Happen with Home Prices This Year?

After almost two years of double-digit increases, many experts thought home price appreciation would decelerate or happen at a slower pace in the last quarter of 2021. However, the latest Home Price Insights Report from CoreLogic indicates while prices may have plateaued, appreciation has definitely not slowed. The following graph shows year-over-year appreciation throughout 2021. December data has not yet been released.

What’s Going To Happen with Home Prices This Year? | Keeping Current Matters
As the graph shows, appreciation has remained steady at around 18% over the last five months.

In addition, the latest S&P Case-Shiller Price Index and the FHFA Price Index show a slight deceleration from the same time last year – it’s just not at the level that was expected. However, they also both indicate there’s continued strong price growth throughout the country. FHFA reports all nine regions of the country still experienced double-digit appreciation. The Case-Shiller 20-City Index reveals all 20 metros had double-digit appreciation.

Why Haven’t We Seen the Deeper Deceleration Many Expected?

Experts had projected the supply of housing inventory would increase in the last half of 2021 and buyer demand would decrease, as it historically does later in the year. Since all pricing is subject to supply and demand, it seemed that appreciation would wane under those conditions.

Buyer demand, however, did not slow as much as expected, and the number of listings available for sale dropped instead of improved. The graph below uses data from to show the number of available listings for sale each month, including the decline in listings at the end of the year.

What’s Going To Happen with Home Prices This Year? | Keeping Current Matters
Here are three reasons why the number of active listings didn’t increase as expected:

1. There hasn’t been a surge of foreclosures as the forbearance program comes to an end.

2. New construction slowed considerably because of supply chain challenges.

3. Many believed more sellers would put their houses on the market once the concerns about the pandemic began to ease. However, those concerns have not yet disappeared. A recent article published by com explains:

“Before the omicron variant of COVID-19 appeared on the scene, the 2021 housing market was rebounding healthily from previous waves of the pandemic and turned downright bullish as the end of the year approached. . . . And then the new omicron strain hit in November, followed by a December dip in new listings. Was this sudden drop due to omicron, or just the typical holiday season lull?”

No one knows for sure, but it does seem possible.

Bottom Line

Home price appreciation might slow (or decelerate) in 2022. However, based on supply and demand, you shouldn’t expect the deceleration to be swift or deep.


Sourced from Keeping Matters Current

Originally Published:

A 3-Step Downsizing Plan


When it’s time to move to a smaller home, these tips will help you save the memories while minimizing clutter in your new place.

Moving into a new house is often bittersweet. You are excited for the change, but sad to leave a home so full of memories. Downsizing can be even harder — a smaller place means you don’t have room for all of your current possessions.

But downsizing is also an opportunity to refresh and start anew. If you get rid of the clutter, you can fill your new place with the things you really love, making it feel like home.

Here are three steps for downsizing without sacrificing your meaningful belongings.

1. Make a plan

Take a trip to your new place and measure the size of your rooms and storage areas. This will be your guide for how much you can take with you. It is better to underestimate than overestimate.

As you’re deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, do one room at a time. Moving is a big job, and you don’t need to tackle it all at once. Plan to do a little bit each day, and leave extra time so you aren’t rushed.

Decide on your furniture first. Going from big to small will give you a better idea how much space you have left to fill. You don’t want to have to reshuffle everything if you can’t take that bookshelf with you.

2. Sort your belongings

Will you use it? It’s easy to convince yourself you might still wear that 10-year-old shirt with the tags still on someday. But if you haven’t used it in the past year, it’s likely you never will.

Also, get rid of multiples. Do you have multiple coffee pots, or several sets of china? If you can only use one at a time, you don’t need to keep both.

As you sort, follow a strict yes/no policy —no “maybes” allowed. Make a “yes” pile and a “no” pile, and force yourself to choose. If you aren’t convinced the item deserves a yes, then it’s a no. “Maybe” piles just mean more work for you later.

Decide how to divvy up your “no” pile. You may not want or need these items anymore, but they’re probably useful to someone else. Special items may handed down to friends or family members. Furniture, housewares, clothing and other items in good condition could be sold at a garage sale or on sites like Craigslist. Or, you can choose to donate reusable items to organizations like Goodwill, who sometimes offer neighborhood or even residential pickups, making your task that much simpler. Anything damaged or worn beyond repair should make its way to the recycling bin or a trip to the dump.

3. Preserve memories

Digitize photos to save space and easily share them with family. Photo albums take up a lot of room, and how often do you actually go through them? Pick up a digital frame and enjoy all of your photos in a rotating slideshow or create a slideshow screensaver for your TV or computer.

Take photos of items that bring up good memories, but you no longer have room for. You can look back on the memories without actually keeping the items.

To make sure those treasured items are in good hands, pass them on to your children, grandchildren or close friends. They will love the gift, and you get to enjoy seeing the items being used.

Another strategy is to give keepsakes a new life. If you love to craft, items like old movie stubs, letters and photos are perfect for scrapbooking, letting you create a record of your experiences. Or make three-dimensional pieces of art using shadowboxes. Gathering up your memories in one place will make them easier than ever to enjoy.

Downsizing is an emotional process. You will discover items you haven’t seen in years, and you will have to decide what to do with them. Give yourself some time to reminisce, and then make a decision. Keep in mind your space limitations. Take with you what is truly valuable — only you can decide what you can’t do without.

Just imagine: Once you’ve finished your move, you’ll be able to enjoy your new place surrounded by the feeling of home.

How to Create Your Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

Create a beautiful outdoor cooking space for relaxing and entertaining all summer long.

As summer approaches and temperatures start to rise, no one wants to spend time inside sweating over a hot stove. With an outdoor kitchen, you can make the most of the beautiful warm nights by spending them with your friends and family.

Whether you have thousands to spend or a just few hundred to splurge, create your own outdoor kitchen and enjoy all it has to offer.

Upgrade your grill

A rusty, dusty grill doesn’t inspire lingering outdoor evenings. Upgrade your outdoor grill and take care

of it all year round for a stand-out outdoor kitchen. A standard grill will cost you $150 to $300, and top-of-the-line outdoor ranges may be upwards of $1,500.

Before buying the biggest and best grill, consider how you will use one. Will you be feeding the whole soccer team? Or perhaps grilling some steaks for a romantic dinner for two? Look for a grill with features you will actually use and not just the latest trends.

Enhance your seating

If your basics are up to date, then you’ll want to upgrade your patio furniture and seating options too. If you plan on dining outside often, invest in an actual dining table and appropriate chairs. Eating a gourmet dinner off your lap downgrades an otherwise luxurious experience.


f you’re looking for more versatile pieces, sleek contemporary options coordinate nicely with most outdoor kitchen setups. Expect to spend a good chunk of change on quality furniture, but remember: With the proper care and maintenance, it can last as long as high-end interior pieces. Make sure you have a plan for the off-season, whether that’s moving outdoor furniture to indoor storage or securely covering it to protect it from the elements.

Add the extras

Want a prep sink? Wine fridge? Ice machine? Built-in smoker? You got it. The sky’s the limit when it comes to custom additions — or rather, your budget is the limit. Think carefully about your space before making a wish list.

Perhaps a full chef’s kitchen won’t quite fit in your backyard, but a beautiful wine fridge and some extra counter space are just what you need to take your outdoor kitchen to the next level.

Some features require installing or extending utilities (think: water or electricity), so don’t forget about portable additions such as a bar cart — which adds class without hassle.

Make it comfortable

Think about how you will provide amenities to make being outdoors comfortable, such as shade, heat (if using your space year-round), and perhaps even a few extras like a TV or audio equipment.

Tucking the seating close to the house may help you take advantage of a porch or awning. Otherwise, structures such as a light-strung pergola add shade during the day, light at night and atmosphere all the time.


f you have the room, the addition of a fireplace allows for a longer entertaining season. Outdoor kitchens don’t have to be just for summer, after all.

If you like to have some indoor comforts while enjoying your beautiful outside oasis, television and music can be connected outside — although it can be expensive. Bluetooth or portable speakers, a projector and a large sheet, or even an old-fashioned radio are more budget-sensitive options for those looking to add a little fun to their outdoor space.

Apply your own style

Create an outdoor kitchen that suits your style and taste. If you’re working with an existing


space, be sure to embrace the style and play up the features, such as dark wood, stone and classic columns.

If you’re starting from scratch, take a look at your indoor design and see what features you like. Then consider incorporating those color schemes, design styles or even furniture shapes into your outdoor kitchen.

While you can’t go wrong designing your outdoor space, consider designs and colors that are versatile so you’re not limited if you want to mix things up in the future.

Make it yours

Your outdoor kitchen should be a comfortable, relaxing space for entertaining or unwinding after a long day of work. Make yours an escape that works for you.

When planning your outdoor kitchen, think about adding one or two small luxuries that will make you excited to enjoy your space. These can be as small as pretty tea lights scattered around or as large as a wood-burning pizza oven.

Regain Your Garage: Simple Tricks for Getting Organized

A thoughtful approach to garage storage makes the most of this valuable space and keeps every necessity at your fingertips.

If your house is bursting at the seams, or simply short on storage options, the solution may be as close as your garage. To make the best use of this space, however, you first need to corral its current chaos.

This is, fortunately, a relatively simple task if you incorporate a few good storage ideas. With careful planning and a little effort, you can transform your garage from a messy catchall to an efficient, well-organized household annex.

Divide and conquer

First things first: Get rid of anything you no longer use. After you’ve winnowed down the contents of your garage, sort everything into groups. Keep garden tools with garden tools, and sports equipment with sports equipment. Items used together ought to be stored together.

Where possible, place like items into clear plastic containers with lids. It’s fine to use opaque bins, just be sure to label each one. Stackable containers are especially handy. They keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, increase the amount of usable floor space, and cut down on visual clutter.

What goes where?

The efficient use of space partly depends on positioning stored items in a thoughtful, strategic way. Are there certain items you’re likely to need on a regular basis, such as cleaning supplies? If so, store them near the door so you can access them quickly and easily. Stash rarely used or seasonal items, like sleds and skis, in harder-to-reach spots.

Off the wall

The key to garage storage and organization is getting things off the floor. Capitalizing on wall space enables you to fit the most into your garage, while keeping it all visible and easy to access. The type of wall storage you choose depends on your storage needs, project budget and personal preferences. Many homeowners opt for one or a combination of the following storage standbys:

  • Pegboard. A favorite for generations, pegboard is inexpensive and easy to install. Because it can be outfitted with an array of compatible hooks, clamps, bins and shelves, pegboard can be used to store and organize just about anything, as long as the item to be stored isn’t especially heavy.
  • Open shelving. Whether a wall-mounted track system or a set of stand-alone units, open sh

    elves are affordable, versatile and user-friendly, and they keep everything in plain sight. Plus, depending on their construction, 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding heavier items.

  • Closed cabinetry. If you plan to park your car in the garage, cabinets with doors may be the most desirable option, because closed storage means not having to come face-to-face with paint cans and garbage bags every time you leave or arrive home. Cabinets are available in countless materials and styles, but generally speaking, they are more expensive than other solutions. And because they are unable to accommodate very large items, cabinets are most effective when used in conjunction with another storage system.
  • Panelized systems. Here, entire walls are covered with specially designed panels that hold any number of companion add-ons, such as hooks and shelves. Unlike pegboard, panelized

    systems can handle heavier items. But that strength and utility comes at a cost, especially since some proprietary products must be installed by licensed professionals.

Look up

For certain infrequently used belongings, the ceiling provides ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the ceiling joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind, however, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the garage door.

Safety steps

As you’re organizing your garage, it’s important to keep safety in mind. It’s unsafe to store gasoline and propane in the garage; a single spark could lead to tragedy.

Likewise, if you have children or pets,


you should store hazardous materials like fertilizer and pesticides far out of reach. Locked cabinets are a good solution for these toxic materials, and they’re also a smart place to store power tools and sharp implements.

About the author


Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

How to Make an Offer on a House


Among buyers who made an official offer on a home, 45% made multiple offers, according to Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019 survey data. In fact, Generation Z and Millennial buyers are most likely to make multiple offers before purchasing a home.

Putting an offer on a house can be complicated and stressful, especially for first-time buyers. And even if you’ve bought a home before, the steps you should follow can depend on your local real estate market.

In a sellers market, you may have to compete against other buyers, which raises the stakes and makes it especially important that you move through these steps quickly. In a buyers market, a less competitive offer might do the trick, pressure may be lower and you may not have to waive any contingencies.

When you’ve found a home you love, here’s what you need to do to put your offer in.

Steps to putting an offer on a house

Submitting an offer on a home is a process filled with hope, excitement and anxiety — especially if you’ve fallen in love with a home and feel like you can’t live without it. Here’s how the process typically goes.

1. Find the right home

Of course, before you can put in an offer on a home, you have to find a home that’s offer-worthy. Attend showings and open houses, search on Zillow and review listings picked for you by your real estate agent.

According to Zillow Group Report survey data, 15% of buyers said it was difficult or very difficult to get an offer accepted on a home they were interested in purchasing.

2. Determine feasibility based on cost

It’s time to run the numbers. Do you have enough for the down payment? Can you afford the estimated monthly payment on the home? Be sure to factor in costs like property taxes, HOA dues, insurance and maintenance. If you’ve been preapproved for a loan, you can have your lender help you through these calculations.

3. Ask your real estate agent for comps

Have your real estate agent run comps, identifying similar for-sale homes in the area to help you get a feel for an appropriate offer price. If you’re buying without the help of an agent, this is something you can do on your own with Zillow.

4. Determine your offer price, contingencies and timeline

If you need room to negotiate, you’ll want your initial offer to be lower than the maximum price you’re willing or able to pay. You’ll also need to determine your desired closing date and what contingencies you will be including in the offer. In a competitive market where multiple offers are submitted, contingencies and timeline can be the deciding factors. If you’re buying in a sellers market, be sure to ask for your agent’s insight on what sellers are looking for in an offer.

5. Draft and submit your offer

Your offer should be in the form of a purchase and sale agreement. Your agent will draft this for you and you’ll sign or e-sign before it’s submitted. The document will become legally binding if the seller accepts your offer. At that point, you’re buying a house, and the purchase and sale contract will become a key part of your transaction paperwork.

6. Seller replies: yes, no, or counter

Upon reviewing your offer, the seller might accept your offer as-is, decline the offer altogether or counter the offer to start the negotiating process. If the seller accepts your offer, they will sign the purchase and sale contract. If they decline your offer, negotiations end. If they counter, you can either accept their counteroffer or counter back.

It’s common for the negotiations to go a few rounds, with the buyer and seller providing counteroffers back and forth, usually with the advice and assistance of their agents. Price isn’t the only thing that can be negotiated. You might also find yourself negotiating repairs, contingencies and closing timeline.

When you purchase a Zillow-owned home, you can request the home evaluation notes from when Zillow purchased the property. Zillow will also provide a list of all repairs completed prior to listing.

7. Sales contract is finalized and signed

Once both parties agree to the deal — including price, inspection, negotiated repairs, closing date, etc. — the contract is updated accordingly and the home is officially “under contract.” Assuming all goes well with contingencies and financing, and depending on your close data, you’ll be a homeowner in about 45 days.

What does a real estate offer contain?

While some elements of your offer vary based on location and market conditions, there are a few basic items that are found in all property purchase offers:

  • Property address
  • Buyer’s name
  • Seller’s name
  • Offer price
  • Earnest money amount
  • Contingencies (like financing, home sale, inspection or appraisal) or waived contingencies
  • Identification of title company or closing attorney (where applicable)
  • Credits, if you are requesting them as part of the offer
  • Offer expiration date and time (the offer submission process can be lengthy, so most buyers add an offer expiration date and time to encourage sellers to act quickly, and give the buyer a chance to explore other options if the seller takes too long)
  • Proposed closing date

Can anyone make an offer on a house?

Yes, anyone can put in an offer on a house, but remember that a residential purchase and sale contract is legally binding. Once you are under contract, the only legal way to back out of the deal is through a contingency — like an inspection, title, or financing contingency.

If you love a house, you can make an offer whether or not you’re working with an agent. If you aren’t using an agent, you’ll still need to locate an official contract for your offer submission. Be sure to find a contract that includes all the relevant details and is legal in the state where you’re buying.

How much to offer on a house so the seller will accept

The best way to entice a seller into accepting your offer — or at least considering a counter — is by offering their full asking price. But, in a competitive market or a multiple-offer situation, you may need to offer more than the asking price.

Not all homes sell for their initial asking price, and not every home is priced correctly, so before you break the bank or bust your budget, consider some non-price-related ways to strengthen your offer in a competitive market — your agent should be able to talk to the listing agent about what will make your offer more appealing to the specific seller.

According to Zillow research, homes for sale in the U.S. sold for 98.2% of their listing prices as of June 2019. This number varies from market to market — in some very competitive markets, the typical home will fetch more than the asking price, and in some slower-moving areas, the typical home will fetch less. Your agent should be able to help you gauge market conditions.

Use an escalation clause

In a multiple-offer scenario, the last thing you want to do is assume another buyer is paying far above the asking price and submit a higher offer based on this assumption — you might get the property but end up realizing you could have gotten it for less. Ask your agent about including an escalation clause, which states that you’re willing to pay a specific dollar amount over the seller’s next highest offer. Here’s an example:

A home is listed for $250,000 and it has three other offers. You submit an offer of $250,000 with an escalation clause that says you’ll pay $1,000 more than the highest offer, up to a maximum offer price of $260,000. Then, if another buyer comes in at $255,000, you’ll automatically offer $256,000 to secure the deal, without going over the maximum amount you’re comfortable spending.

Accommodate the seller’s timeline

If the seller needs a quick close and you are sure you want to buy their home, try to accommodate their schedule as much as possible. For some sellers (like those buying at the same time or relocating for work), timeline is even more important than price.

Waive contingencies

The majority of buyers (74%) include contingencies in their offer, according to the Zillow Group Report. In a competitive market, waiving contingencies can help your offer stand out. If you’re paying in cash, you can remove the appraisal contingency that is typically required of buyers financing a home purchase. Home inspection contingencies are also common — although some buyers waive their home inspection contingency in hot markets, it’s not always recommended.

Another option is a home sale contingency, where your offer is contingent on selling the home you currently own. This is a practice among some home buyers who need to use the equity from a home they’re selling to purchase a new home, but this can make your offer less appealing to a seller, who probably wants certainty in their timeline to fit their own timeline priorities.

Put down more earnest money

Earnest money is also called “good faith money” because it’s money you put down upfront to show the seller that you’re serious about buying their home. The more earnest money you put down, the less likely you are to look like a flaky buyer who might back out without a reason. For example, someone who is willing to put down only $1,000 in earnest money looks like a less serious buyer than someone willing to put down $10,000.

8 Tips for Achieving Maximum Coziness



Gray skies don’t have to mean a drab indoor life.

As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring — and that may be more true than ever this year. But there is, indeed, joy to be found in the quieter months of the year.

While the trend may have come and gone in the U.S., the art of hygge, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark.

The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they’re the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?

When it’s cold and rainy out, and you’ve been stuck inside for — who knows how long? — binging the next series on your “recommended” list might feel like the most appealing option. But if you’d like mix things up, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.

1. Set the mood

Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, they also add warmth and scent to your space.

Tip: Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.

2. Bake something

Comfort food is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn’t just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) — it begins when you imagine the creation.

Leaf through your favorite cookbooks or browse some eye-candy baking sites, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It’s just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells — and taste good too.

Tip: Reach out to a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. You can set up a video call if you’re not able to meet in person.

3. Add texture

Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more inviting space. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.

Tip: Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.

4. Get out the board games

Pull your partner or kids away from their screens and gather around the table for some old-fashioned fun. Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.

Tip: Looking for remote gaming options? There are many online group gaming apps, and many people have come up with creative ways to play the classics via Zoom as well. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!

5. Perfect your hot drink game

Hot cocoa, hot toddies, apple cider, mulled wine — pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can’t wait to show it off. Host a virtual happy hour and share it with family and friends.

Tip: Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it’s usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for those who don’t imbibe.

6. Embrace sweater weather

If you don’t already have a favorite sweater, it’s time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair — anything will do. Whatever you choose, pair it with thick socks!

Tip: Find some beginner books or tutorials and try your hand at knitting, crocheting or weaving, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. Find an online knitting circle for tips and encouragement.

7. Curate your cold-outside playlist

Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.

Tip: Instrumentals are classics for a reason — they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have premade playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.

8. Do seasonal activities

Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year’s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!

Tip: Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen — put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an “accountability partner” (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.


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


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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!