Five Tips on How to Sell Your Home in a Competitive Market

Five Tips on How to Sell Your Home in a Competitive Market

What does it take to sell a home in a competitive market – a fresh coat of paint or a kitchen overhaul? Lowering the asking price or offering incentives?

What does it take to sell a home in a competitive market – a fresh coat of paint or a kitchen overhaul? Lowering the asking price or offering incentives? From cosmetic to strategic, smart sellers can take advantage of a few simple tips to get the most out of their properties. Here are five suggestions on how to help secure a “sold” sign:

Price Point is Paramount When getting ready to put a home on the market, determining the right listing price is the number one most important element in the home selling process. After you have carefully chosen an agent, the trust you have established will come into play immediately. Have those tough discussions with your agent about where to price your home. Make certain you understand how the agent has arrived at the price, including how previous sales and current homes on the market make an impact. If necessary, jump in the car with your agent and see some of the homes on the market in the area. This will provide first hand knowledge on homes that are available in your neighborhood.

Appeal to Your Audience Work with your agent to determine how to get your home to stand out. Providing incentives is a great way to draw in potential home buyers, and monetary bonuses don’t just have to come from negotiation of the listing price. Sellers can also choose to contribute to closing costs, or conduct pre-home inspections, which can comfort potential home buyers in knowing that the property is in top shape.

Leave a Great First Impression Everyone talks about curb appeal, but a first impression is truly lasting. Remember, your agent is your trusted advisor. They will know the necessary updates and upkeep you should make to get the home ready for showings. But some of this is fairly easy and the front door is particularly important. This is the area where a buyer will first step up to a home – and likely wait for a moment providing time to look around. Do this ahead of time, stand directly in the front door and look up and around at the home from all angles – cobwebs that have not been noticed in years could be the first thing greeting a potential home buyer, so it’s important for this area to give a great first impression.

Everything is in the Visual Don’t underestimate the power of visuals in marketing your home. The National Association of Realtors found that, more than 90 percent of home buyers begin their search online. Your agent may push hard for you to have the home prepared for vivid pictures and video of the property that can be posted on websites such as Coldwell Banker On Location

Hit the Right Note with all Five Senses When a buyer comes to look at a home they want the full experience. To help a home stand out, your agent may ask you to focus on appealing to all five senses. Small and inexpensive upgrades to the home such as getting the walls painted, de-cluttering and making minor improvements to the outdoor landscape. In terms of “touch,” remember that buyers aren’t just going to look – they’ll be turning on your faucets and opening closets, so make sure closets are clean and organized. When it comes to making a home smell good, many agents prefer the smell of baked goods rather than fresh flowers or air fresheners which can be overwhelming. All of this is being done to allow the buyer to properly visualize living in the home.

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12 House Fails That Could Ruin A Sale

9 Ways Home Flipping Shows Mislead Viewers

9 Ways Home Flipping Shows Mislead Viewers

We all know the premise of home-flipping shows: An investor buys a veritable dump and then, with the help of a team of ready-and-willing contractors and landscapers, transforms it into the best-looking home on the block. Next, that intrepid buyer turns around and sells it for a hefty profit. Sounds like a straightforward formula for financial success, right? Well, not quite.

What makes for entertaining television doesn’t always translate into a win beyond the high definition flat screen. The following are nine ways home-flipping shows mislead viewers. So, if you’re considering turning this into your next career or even a side gig, you may want to separate fact from fiction first.

1. Tight turnarounds aren’t always realistic

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In order to realize as large a profit as possible, it’s important to flip the property as quickly as you can, otherwise paying the mortgage, taxes, and insurance quickly chips away at your bottom line. While sales tend to happen quickly on TV, the reality is that even if you have a willing buyer, getting pre-approved and securing the financing doesn’t happen overnight. For anxious sellers, that ticking clock is a constant reminder that every passing day means a little less money in their pockets.

2. Finding a dedicated team isn’t easy

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As far too many homeowners know, not all contractors are created equal. For the most part, the artisans who make their way onto home-flipping shows are trustworthy, knowledgeable and willing to work nearly round-the-clock to get the job done. In reality, contractors may be working on multiple projects simultaneously and may disappear for days at a time. And as we all know, time is money.

3. DIY doesn’t work for everyone

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Part of the appeal of these home-flipping programs is the ease with which the whole property comes together. But it’s more than just the time-lapse photography that makes it seem like anyone with a tool belt can renovate like a pro. While you might be tempted to take a DIY approach to keep expenses low, remember, these people know what they’re doing, whereas most homeowners are experts at other things. Sometimes tackling a task yourself will end up costing you more than if you’d hired the right person for the job.

4. When trouble strikes, it’s not so easy to resolve

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Even with a careful home inspection, surprises (not the good kind!) pop up when you least expect them. Yet, if a sink hole opens and threatens to swallow a sunporch, home-flipping show teams are ready to fix that issue like it’s no big deal. When it happens to non-TV-star homeowners, it’s not always easy to find the right subcontractor — especially when you’re under time constraints. And, once you do, can you even afford to deal with whatever unpleasant shocker has come your way? If you have to go back to the bank for more money, that will impact your timeframe and ultimately your profit. (See number 1.) Home-flippers on TV seem to have bottomless bank accounts. Must be nice, right?

5. Materials don’t arrive simultaneously

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When home-flippers begin a project, all the requisite materials are on-site and ready to go. If only this were the norm! Anyone who’s ever fallen in love with a special order item knows that it’s almost impossible to find everything you like in stock and ready for delivery. Some contractors are reluctant to start a renovation until all the supplies are in, which, again, can hurt your timeline and your profit.

6. The back-and-forth is all done behind-the-scenes

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Never mind the fact that homes showcased on these programs never seem to lack for buyers, in many instances there doesn’t seem to be any haggling to speak of when it comes to the asking price. Leaving out the art of negotiation does viewers a disservice as it makes it appear that buyers can’t wait to pay full price — or above it.

7. The math is fuzzy

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In order to reap the biggest profit, you need to buy below market value, sell above it, and not put more money into the renovation than you’ll get back. As if that equation weren’t complicated enough, on television, you don’t always hear about the costs of buying or selling, inspection and appraisals fees, and other expenses that go into both sides of the transactions. Leaving out some numbers conveniently inflates the profit.

8. Costs vary by area

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Renovating a bathroom in rural Tennessee is going to cost much less than it would in, say, Manhattan. Not only will the labor be less expensive, but the materials and delivery charges will also skew lower in non-metropolitan areas. Of course, none of that is addressed in the show and most often estimates on TV are far lower than those you’d gather in real life.

9. You can over-renovate

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Once you’re in the home improvement groove, you may be tempted to splurge and really go all out, but you have to resist the temptation to overdo it and put in more money than you’ll ever get back. In the quest to make your flip as fabulous as possible, you never want to lose sight of the the reason you started this project: to make money. Consider the return on investment for each improvement you make.

Mortgage Rates Predicted To Rise In 2018. If You Want To Buy, Now Is The Time

Know This Before You Do Any Home Improvements

When you do any home improvement, you probably figure it’s also going to improve the value of your home. And it probably will improve the value… but, probably not as much as it cost you.

In other words, if you spend $1,000 (for example), it probably won’t improve the value by $1,000 or more. Statistically speaking, it will probably only improve the value by a fraction of that amount.

So, the question becomes…

Is it even worth doing any home improvements!?

Not to sound wishy-washy, but the answer is…

Yes and no. It depends on a lot of factors. We’ll touch on that more at the end of the article.

But for now, let’s just take a look at the top 7 home improvements, according to the 2017 cost versus value report to start making some sense of it all.

1. Insulation

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According to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, adding fiberglass insulation to the attic costs on average $1,343, but you’ll recoup $1,446.

Doesn’t sound all that exciting. When you think home improvements, you probably think of remodeled kitchens and baths being the biggest and best improvements to make (and they might be for you). But nope, according to the report, your best bet is to add insulation.

Pretty interesting, considering no buyer has ever walked into a house, gasped, and said, “Honey, look at this! They added insulation!” Yet, according to the report, it’s what’ll be the best money you could spend to add actual value to your home, and your bank account.

2. New entry door

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Replacing your entryway door with one made of steel may set you back an average of $1,413, but you’ll get back $1,282, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.

So, at face value, it looks like you actually lose a few bucks…

So, why would you do it?

If your new door is more energy efficient, it’ll probably also save you some money on heating and cooling. It’s just tough to say how much exactly.

But the big X factor is how much your improved “curb appeal” will add to the sales price, when you sell your home. Again, that depends on a lot of other factors.

3. Manufactured stone veneer

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On average, adding manufactured stone veneer will cost $7,851, but you can expect to recoup $7,019, or 89.4 percent, of that.

Obviously, this is another one that loses you money, at face value.

So, why would you do this home improvement?

How about, because you simply like the way it looks. Obviously, if you don’t like the way it looks, don’t do it. But, if you do, you’ll enjoy the home improvement. It isn’t all about making money on the money you spent. Sometimes it is about getting back a nice chunk of what you spent, on something that you wanted and enjoyed during the years before you sell your house.

4. Minor kitchen remodel

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If you have a functional but outdated kitchen, you may harbor fantasies about beginning a total renovation. However, you don’t need to break the bank to make some valuable upgrades that’ll pay off in the long run. Consider swapping out old appliances for energy efficient ones. You can leave cabinet boxes in tact but replace doors or hardware.

The average minor remodel costs $20,830. As much as you’ll love the look and convenience of modern amenities, you’ll also enjoy knowing you can regain an average of $16,699.

This surprises a lot of people outside the real estate industry (and even some in the industry!).

Almost everyone thinks kitchens are the best thing to renovate, and will increase the value of a home. Again, it will add value, but just not as much as it costs.

So, this is another one where there’s plenty of reason to do it, simply because you will enjoy the benefits of the improvement during your ownership.

Just don’t tack on every penny you spent on the remodel onto your asking price when you sell. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

5. New garage door

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On average, a new garage door costs $1,749, but homeowners recoup $1,345, representing an almost 77 percent return on investment.

Chalk this one up to the X factor of added curb appeal as well, when it comes to justifying spending the money.

But it also just boils down to your sanity. When you have a garage door that doesn’t open or close right, or when you want it to, it can drive you nuts. That’s gotta be worth the 33% you don’t get back when you sell.

6. Siding installation

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The elements wreak havoc on your home’s exterior. If your place is looking a little worse for wear, it could be time to consider siding, which provides a fabulous facelift.

But, more than simply a cosmetic upgrade, siding can protect your home from heavy rains and damaging snowstorms, making it an investment with a multi-pronged pay-off.

The average cost of installing siding is $14,518 of which you should get back $11,093 at resale, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.

Starting to see the trend? There are benefits to doing any home improvement, but you just can’t expect to get every dime you spend back.

7. Adding a wooden deck

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Decks are ideal for outdoor entertaining. Depending on the size, you may feel as if you’ve just added significantly to your living space — especially if you live in a climate where you can use it for much of the year.

The average wooden deck will set you back $10,707, but you’ll get back $7,652, or 71.5%, when you sell.

OK, with all of that said…

These reports are based upon National and regional statistics. The thing is, real estate is extremely local. Like, down to the very street you live on local… And there are so many factors that will affect how much return you’ll get on any given project, in any given area, on any given house.

It may make sense for you to do a particular home improvement. It may not. It depends on your local market. It depends on the local supply and demand of homes. And it depends a lot upon what your personal situation is, and what your short and long term plans are.

So, the best thing to do when you’re considering any home improvement, is to reach out to your local real estate agent, and ask him or her for input. Considering they probably won’t charge you a dime for their time and insight, that’s going to be the best cost versus value you will find when it comes to home improvements.

4 Reasons Why We’re Not Headed For Another Housing Crash

With home prices rising in many areas of the country, many people are worried that we’re headed for a housing crash like the one we suffered in 2008.

But here’s the thing: it’s just not true. While it’s understandable that people would look at the current market, consider it a “housing bubble,” and assume it’s going to pop, the truth of the matter is the market today couldn’t be any more different than they were before the crash of 2008.

Let’s take a look at four reasons why we’re not headed for another housing crash:

1. Banks have tightened their lending practices

The biggest contributor to the crash of 2008 was risky lending practices. Financial institutions had extremely loose standards in terms of who they’d lend to; they were giving out mortgages to people with low incomes, bad credit, and who were unlikely to be able to pay their mortgage once their interest rates increased. Getting a mortgage was easy, regardless of your financial situation. While this made homeownership possible for people who previously would have needed to rent due to lack of income or bad credit, it also led to serious problems when millions of people began defaulting on their loans, leading to the housing crash and the ensuing economic crisis.

Today, those predatory and unethical lending practices have been completely overhauled. Mortgage standards are much more strict, and lenders are much more cautious in who they grant loans to and the terms of those loans. This has led to greater stability in the market and will prevent another crash like the one we experienced in 2008.

2. Fixed rate mortgages are the norm

As mentioned, a huge part of the housing crisis of 2008 was subprime mortgages. The mortgages given to the riskiest borrowers were adjustable rate mortgages. Once the introductory period was over, borrowers saw their interest rates skyrocket and their mortgage payments quickly double or triple in size, making them completely unaffordable and leading to mass defaults on loans across the country.

But today, while adjustable rate mortgages still exist, they’re significantly less common. Fixed rate mortgages are the norm. When people borrow, they know exactly how much their mortgage payment is going to be for the life of their loan. This allows them to assess their budget and only borrow as much as they can afford, making it much less likely they’ll default on their loans in the future.

3. Today’s rising prices are a supply and demand issue, not the makings of a bubble

In 2008, prices rose rapidly because everyone wanted to buy property. Real estate experts called it a “mania” because so many people who weren’t able to buy property suddenly had the ability to do so. Purchasing a home in the US accelerated to a frenzied pace, which drove up prices.

But today, prices aren’t rising because there’s a flood of frenzied buyers in the market. Instead, it’s a supply and demand issue. People are staying in their homes longer, which means there’s less inventory available in competitive markets. When there’s less inventory, there are more people vying for the limited homes available, which drives up property prices. This kind of price increase is just a normal part of a competitive market, not a reason to worry we’re headed for another housing bubble.

4. There’s economic growth to support rising prices

Perhaps the biggest reason you don’t need to worry about the US heading for another housing crisis, is the fact there’s economic growth to support rising prices.

The reason the most competitive markets in the country (like Silicon Valley or Seattle, WA) are rapidly growing and showing historic price increases is due to economic growth. The most competitive housing markets in the US are the markets with the most opportunity. People are flocking to areas where there are jobs, stable economic growth, and opportunities for the future. Potential homebuyers want to purchase property in a place they know will offer them plenty of career and economic opportunities.

When there’s economic growth to support growing prices like there are in today’s hottest cities, it makes for a much more stable market—and a market unlikely to head towards a housing crash.

If you’re worried that rising housing prices are an indicator another housing crash is on the horizon, take a deep breath. The conditions in the market today are completely different from the conditions in 2008, and thanks to the changes made in lending practices after the crash and our booming economy, you can rest assured we won’t see a housing crash anytime soon.

3 Common Fears Of First Time Home-Buyers… And How To Overcome Them

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9 Must-Haves for Low-Maintenance Kitchen Cabinets

9 Must-Haves for Low-Maintenance Kitchen Cabinets

Save valuable elbow grease and time with these ideas for easy-to-maintain cabinets.

The heart of the home may also be the toughest room to keep clean. Every surface in your kitchen is susceptible to crumbs, dirt, stains and splatters. This is especially true of cabinets. Fortunately, there are practical ways to keep your cabinet maintenance on the lighter side. With ideas like choosing fewer decorative details and picking the right color, these nine tips will make your cabinets easier to maintain.

1. Choose a door style with minimal detail. Raised-panel door styles have nooks and crannies that are magnets for dust and dirt. Shaker-style and slab door fronts don’t, so you won’t have to spend time scrubbing every recess of your door fronts.

If you’re designing a traditional kitchen and want a more decorative door style, select a stain or paint that has a glaze. The glaze will fill the doors’ cracks and corners and better hide the dust and dirt that your cabinet doors will collect.

2. Opt for flush cabinet ends. You normally have two options for finishing the ends of your cabinets: flush ends or matching ends. Flush ends (above) are plywood ends that match the color of your cabinets. They are smooth and sleek, which means you can run a cloth over it with a few swipes. They can certainly speed up cleaning.

Matching ends feature a panel with the same style as the door fronts, and while they can bring elegance and character to your kitchen, you face the same maintenance issues with matching ends as you do with raised-panel doors. There’s simply more to scrub.

3. Cut the trimmings. Designer details like crown molding, corbels, decorative legs and light rail molding add more to love but also more to clean, especially ornate styles.

There are other designer touches you can use that require less maintenance. Try a colorful cabinet paint, eccentric lighting or colored bar stools, like in this modern kitchen.

4. Pick a stain instead of a paint. Stains and paints have pros and cons. They can both show crumbs and fingerprints, and paint definitely shows food stains and splatters.

That said, a stain is easier to touch up than paint. You can give a scratched cabinet stain a quick spruce-up with a matching permanent marker. It’s often harder with paint for two reasons. First, it’s hard to find a marker that closely matches a specific paint. Often a touch-up kit from the cabinet manufacturer is needed. Second, paint doesn’t take touch-ups the same way that stains do. You’re more likely to notice a touch-up on paint.

5. Go for a grain with a dark stain. If you’re set on a dark cabinet stain, select a wood species that features the grain, such as oak or hickory. Grains don’t show scratches, stains and crumbs as much as a clean wood species like maple does. It’s also harder to tell that a cabinet stain has been touched up when the surface has grains.

6. Invest in hardware. If you want fewer fingerprints and less wear and tear on your door fronts, purchase door pulls and knobs for all of your cabinets. They help preserve the integrity of your cabinets’ surfaces.

Steer clear of stainless steel and chrome hardware. They show fingerprints and water spots and are harder to clean. Oil-rubbed bronze, satin bronze, polished nickel, brushed nickel and white hardware are the cream of the crop as far as easy maintenance goes. Choose the look that best suits the style of your kitchen.

7. Avoid glass door fronts. They may be windows to your kitchen’s soul, but they’re also extra surfaces to clean. They manage to attract their fair share of dust, dirt and smudges. Dirt can build up easily on glass door fronts that feature mullions. You also have to keep whatever is behind those glass doors tidy.

One benefit to glass door fronts is how inviting they can make your kitchen space feel. Luckily, there’s more than one way to design a warm and welcoming kitchen. If you want a low-maintenance alternative to glass door fronts, stick with lighter cabinet stains like golden browns. They can make your guests feel just as cozy as glass door fronts do.

8. Reduce open shelving. Open shelving is a great canvas for displaying your favorite decor and cookware, whether it’s on a wall, on an island or at the end of cabinets. But it takes more time and effort to ensure that these spaces are dusted and organized. The upkeep can become overwhelming along with your daily tasks.

To shorten your to-do list, place your decor on necessary surfaces like dining tables and countertops instead of unnecessary cabinet shelves. You can also use pillows, chairs, bar stools and lighting as decorative touches.

9. Protect your sink cabinet from moisture. This is more of a preventative measure — it will help you avoid issues down the road. There are a couple of ways to help protect your sink cabinet from moisture. You can order the cabinet with an all-plywood construction (most semicustom and prefabricated cabinets are constructed of a mixture of pressed wood and plywood). An all-plywood construction makes the cabinet less penetrable. You can also purchase a cabinet mat, which looks like a tray and is placed at the base of the sink cabinet. It will serve as a moisture barrier and catch any liquid leaks or spills.

Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Here’s how the environmentally-minded keep their lawns trim and lush—while sparing the Earth at the same time!

This is the time of year when you look outside at your dry husk of a lawn and think, “I should really do something about that.” But before you go running out to set up a sprinkler system the size of Niagara Falls, you should really consider your lawn’s eco footprint. Thirsty lawns suck down somewhere between 30 to 60 percent of the world’s urban freshwater, amounting to hundreds of thousands of gallons a day.

Even unwatered lawns take their toll. Lawn mowers, trimmers, and other outdoor equipment dump out a staggering 242 million tons of pollutants each year, amounting to about 4 percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions. And enterprising homeowners who manage their own lawn care wind up spilling about 17 million gallons of gasoline a year, which is about 6 million more gallons than spilled by Exxon Valdez.

As if that’s not enough shake your environmental heart to the core, lawns also damage natural ecosystems, as well. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used in the backyard wind up in streams and waterways as runoff. The nitrogen in such pollution in turn causes algae to proliferate, choking rivers and streams and creating so-called “dead zones,” places so clogged with excess oxygen from decaying algae, no marine life can survive there. There are now 405 identified dead zones on the planet—a huge increase from the 49 recorded zones in the 1960s.

In short, conventional lawn care is pretty bad for the Earth. However, here at Modernize, we know that having a well-kept lawn isn’t just a matter of keeping with the status quo, it’s the rule of the land. Homeowners associations and neighbors aren’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of an a maintenance-free yard—but luckily for you, there are ways to keep your next-door neighbors happy without pouring chemicals into your lawn or pumping a bunch of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Here’s how the environmentally-minded keep their lawns trim and lush—while sparing the Earth at the same time.


Plan Your Lawn to Be Waterwise
Nothing makes you more aware of our world’s water footprint than a dry summer. While you may not like the idea of a shriveled up, crunchy lawn, there are certainly ways to get around it and reduce your home’s water consumption. One idea is to simply shrink your turf area: install a patio or beds planted with native grasses and flowers, leaving less plant space requiring intensive watering. In the areas where you do have grass, make sure it’s the right kind for your lawn: warm-season grasses like Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia are far less thirsty than their cool-season counterparts and more tolerant of hot, dry weather as well.


Get Your Sprinkler System in Check
Your average sprinkler head puts out one to six gallons of water per minute, so it adds up fast, especially if you’re watering too frequently or at the wrong time. Experts indicate that most lawns don’t need daily watering; about three days a week is typically fine. Always water in the morning or evening, rather than the middle of the day—that way, your water won’t evaporate before it can soak into the ground. And lastly, you may want to think about switching to an automated sprinkler system as well. These devices sync with local weather forecasts and adjust your watering schedule on the fly when there’s rain, keeping your irrigation as efficient as possible.


Mow the Energy-Efficient Way
For most of us, lawn mowing is that dreaded household chore that gets put off until the last minute. Well, good news! The longer you wait, the better off your lawn will be. Grass that’s buzzed to its roots is vulnerable to pests and drought, so it needs more frequent watering and babying to survive. Leave those grass blades long and lush and your lawn will be better off for it. And when you do mow, don’t bother raking up the clippings afterward. The cut grass feeds nitrogen right back into the soil, which means less chance of fertilizer runoff. Finally, laziness is working in your favor for once!

Elect for Electric
If you’re not fond of the gas-guzzlers, you do have other mower options. Energy-efficient mowers have come a long way from the antique push mowers of the past: you now have your option of dozens of different corded and battery-powered cordless electric mowers as well. Electric mowers work best for small, flat turf areas—and beyond reducing your lawn’s carbon footprint, they also save you money on gas, oil changes, and tune-ups. Mower batteries can handle about a third of an acre without a recharge, so if you have a larger lawn, look for a model that lets you switch out the battery with a backup so you don’t have to wait on the charger all day.

Listen to Your Weeds
A strong, robust lawn is the most energy-efficient one around, since it will naturally require less fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. Soil composition plays a big part in turf health, so it’s worth having your topsoil tested in order to get an idea of what may be lacking. Many local university cooperative extensions will do this for free; usually it’s a matter of completing a form and sending in a soil sample. The results will tell you the level of extractable nutrients in your yard, like phosphorous, potassium, and calcium, as well as listing the nitrogen levels and testing for potentially harmful substances, such as soluble salts and lead. But a simpler way to get a readout is to listen to what the weeds are trying to tell you. For instance, dandelions often pop up when soil acidity levels are too high, and plantains when the area has poor drainage or where there is clay soil. Learn what weeds are trying to tell you and you’ll become a turf whisperer.

Fertilize the Organic Way
To root out problems with runoff for good, you’ll need to make the switch from synthetic fertilizers to 100% organic compost. Topdressing with compost comes with a number of benefits: it helps the soil retain water and adds organic matter to your topsoil, replenishing its supply of beneficial micro-organisms. To spread all that nutrient-dense goodness to your lawn, drop shovelfuls of organic compost in small piles, eventually raking them out until they cover the entire turf area to about a quarter of an inch. As a bonus, you can even use your own kitchen scraps to make homemade compost. Not too shabby for some old coffee grinds and eggshells!

How to Organize and Beautify Your Entry Hall in 7 Days

How to Organize and Beautify Your Entry Hall in 7 Days

Take your entry from scuffed up to spiffed up, restoring total cleanliness and order in just a week.

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

A neat, chic entryway gives visitors a positive first impression and makes coming home a pleasure. But between the daily influx of mail and a household’s worth of coats, shoes and bags, this space is often one of the most challenging to keep clean and clutter free. Give your entryway a fresh start with this weeklong plan to clean and declutter from top to bottom — and learn to maintain a serene space long-term.

Day 1: Address the outside.

Cleaning tasks: The entrance to your home really begins outside your front door, so let’s start here. Sweep your porch or stoop, including the siding, and wash the exterior windows at the front of your home. Using a soft cloth, wipe down your mailbox, doorbell, porch lights and front door.

Decluttering tasks: Remove everything that doesn’t belong on the porch and find another home for it. Toss dead plants and store empty pots elsewhere.

Day 2: Clear the decks.

Decluttering tasks: Think of your entryway as a busy but temporary holding area — like a train station, not a permanent storage area. Scoop up all of the mail, shoes, coats, scarves, cell phone chargers, tote bags and so on, and move them away where you can deal with them more easily.

Find a permanent home for the items you remove from the entry — you should be able to do this for nearly everything, except perhaps your keys. Even if you think you can’t find another place to store that jacket or bag, challenge yourself to find a place … anywhere but the entry!

Cleaning tasks: Once all of the stuff has been removed, cleaning will be much easier. Vacuum and mop the floors, vacuum cobwebs from the corners, clean mirrors and wipe scuff marks off the walls.

Day 3: Bring back the essentials.

Decluttering tasks: Rather than keep all your shoes and coats by the door, try keeping only the one or two you use most often. Store the rest elsewhere.

The same goes for bags, sunglasses and other accessories — if you find this difficult, try taking a picture of your entryway looking fresh and clean with only the absolute minimum amount of stuff in it, and use it as a reminder of why it’s worth the effort.

If your entry has room, your essentials may include a rug, a boot tray or bin to corral shoes, a surface for mail and keys, hooks for coats and bags, a place to sit while putting on and taking off shoes, and adequate lighting.

Day 4: Tackle a problem zone.

Decluttering tasks: If you have a large household, consider adding extra closed storage — piles of coats out in the open look messy, even when the coats are neatly hung on hooks. If you have children, make sure the storage is easily accessible and clearly marked.

Cleaning tasks: The biggest cleaning challenge in the entry is dirt tracked in from outdoors. Rugs are your first line of defense against street dirt, so make sure yours are in good shape. If your area rugs are dirty, launder them; if they are getting worn out, consider buying new ones. Instead of choosing a typical doormat-size rug by default, consider if a larger rug or runner would better suit your space — a larger rug has more dirt-trapping power.

Day 5: Improve the flow.

Decluttering tasks: Step outside your home for a moment and come back in through the front door, taking the time to really notice how you naturally move into the space. Is your furniture arranged in a way that is convenient, or do you nearly bump into something on the way in?

Would it be easier to toss your keys on a floating shelf by the door instead of taking four steps to a bigger table down the hall? Today is the day to try something new.

Day 6: Beautify.

Cleaning tasks: Wipe down surfaces; polish wood furniture.

Decluttering tasks: Pay attention to what is kept out in the open in your entryway and what is behind closed doors. You can choose to keep your cutest rain boots and cheery umbrellas on display, and hide the less attractive gear. Add something fresh and pretty, like a bouquet of flowers, to bring your space to life.

If you don’t have a closet or cupboard for hiding utilitarian items, use baskets. But beware of going overboard and providing too much storage — it will only get filled up and then overfilled.

Sometimes a minimalist setup actually helps reduce clutter, because it forces you to put things away where they actually go instead of plunking them down in the entry. Strike a balance that feels right to you.

Day 7: Master a daily routine.

Cleaning tasks: A quick daily sweep will help keep dirt from accumulating in the entry. Storing a broom and dustpan or a small stick vacuum in the closet nearest the door will make things easier.

Decluttering tasks: Get in the habit of opening your mail as soon as you walk in the door, while standing over the recycling bin. At the end of each day, put away anything sitting around in the entry that doesn’t belong.